Hockey Night in Canada podcast: Top storylines of the NHL regular season

It’s the final week of the NHL regular season. The Stanley Cup playoffs begin Wednesday. But before we look ahead, let’s look back.

On this week’s episode of the Hockey Night In Canada podcast, we look at some of the major storylines from this past season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning became the third team ever to hit the 60-win mark, joining the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens. They are almost 20 points ahead of the second place team and they have three players with 90-plus points (Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point). It’s been an historical season for the Bolts.

For the first time since the 2005-06 season, the NHL will average over six goals per game. Five players this season will finish with 100 points or more. That’s the highest total since the 2006-07 season when seven players reached that mark. As of March 29, there have been 497 comeback wins this season. That is the seventh most in a single season in the league’s history.

Former Calgary Flames general manager and current TSN director of scouting, Craig Button, drops by to discuss these story lines and gives us his take on why scoring is up in the NHL.

WATCH | Craig Button talks about Tampa Bay’s remarkable season:

This week’s episode focuses on the the top storylines of the regular season. 0:57

Another major story line was Alexander Ovechkin. For the eighth time in his career “Alexander the Great” hit the 50-goal plateau. For the eighth time in his career, he will lead the NHL in goals. Ovechkin now has 658 career goals. Does Ovi have a realistic shot of passing Wayne Gretzky’s mark of 894?

Dom Luszczyszyn of the Athletic joins host Rob Pizzo to discuss why he thinks Ovechkin becoming the all-time leading goal scorer is a very attainable feat.  

The Hockey Night In Canada podcast is a weekly CBC Sports production.

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Listen to previous Hockey Night podcasts

Episode 26:

It’s not quite the American Electoral system, but the NHL awards still mystify fans who try to figure out how the ballots, candidates, votes and all the rest of the process actually works. Rob Pizzo and Sophia Jurksztowicz deserve a public service award themselves for shining light on the opaque business of picking the five most deserving players (and coach) of the regular hockey season.

Episode 25:

Terrible Ted Lindsay was one of the most talented, yet feared, players on the ice. He won the Art Ross trophy and four Stanley Cups with Detroit. But maybe his greatest achievement was off the ice, as the driving force behind the creation of the National Hockey League Players’ Association.

Episode 24:

Despite efforts to be an open and inclusive game, racism still exists in hockey. We speak to Karl Subban, the father of P.K., Malcolm and Jordan. He provides an interesting take on how to deal with racism and how he has instilled positive values in his kids.

Episode 23:

Despite all the advancement’s in women’s hockey, there is still room to grow. In this episode, we celebrate women’s impact on the game.

Episode 22:

After all the wheeling and dealing was done, which teams improved enough to have a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup? We break down the top 5 contenders after the trade dealine.

Episode 21:

Trade deadline day is one of the most anticipated on the hockey calendar, so we take a look at what goes into the media circus surrounding it and what past transactions reaped immediate rewards.

Episode 20:

Russian players have come a long way since former Buffalo Sabres GM Gerry Meehan brought Alexander Mogilny to North America. In this episode, we talk about the evolution of the Russian player in the NHL from Mogilny to Ovi.

Episode 19:

The Leaf’s long drought turns hockey lovers maroon with pain in Toronto, but what can we learn from the lean times? And is there a glimmer of hope in that five year horizon presented by the Auston Matthews’ signing?

Episode 18:

Scott Russell fills in for host Rob Pizzo and talks to three legendary voices of the game. Jim Robson, Dick Irvin and Joe Bowen’s narratives have brought the game to life for so many fans.

Episode 17:

Former Hockey Night In Canada reporter Scott Russell, who was a broadcaster at 10 all-star games, joins us to discuss his favourite moments.

Episode 16:

Chirping has been a big part of the game for years, so we get a crash course in the good, the bad and the ugly of it from one of the NHL’s all-time best trash-talkers Matthew Barnaby.

Episode 15:

Women are coaching, scouting, broadcasting and being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. But more can be done. Why not a female referee, head coach or general manager in the NHL? Hayley Wickenheiser shares her insight.

Episode 14:

With the NHL season reaching the halfway point, it’s time to take a look the highs and lows of the year so far. Stanley Cup champion Glenn Healy helps breakdown what has transpired so far this season.

Episode 13:

We take a look back at the best interviews of 2018, which includes Daniel Carcillo opening up about the hazing he experienced as a member of the Sarnia Sting.

Episode 12:

Hockey books are the perfect gift for any rabid fan and Jay Baruchel, Ken Reid and James Duthie have a few suggestions that should cover anyone on your holiday lists.

Episode 11:

The NHL recently confirmed that when the 2021-22 season begins, there will be 32 teams in the league. We take a closer look at Seattle’s expansion bid, the history of expansion, as well as the future of expansion.

Episode 10:

The axe has fallen on four coaches and one general manager so far this season, but we sometimes forget that coaches are human and have families. Former NHL coach Barry Melrose breaks down what life is like for coaches after they’re fired.

Episode 9:

Hazing has been an accepted part of hockey for decades now. But recently some disturbing stories have come into the public eye. Stories that involved abuse, bullying, and some horrible behaviour … all disguised as “hazing.”

Episode 8:

They’re a unique breed — the keepers of the crease are often known to be a little eccentric. Ilya Bryzgalov joins in to help explain what makes them so different from their teammates.

Episode 7:

Recent HHOF inductee Jayna Hefford joins Pizzo to break down the 2018 class, while selection committee member Brian Burke sheds some light on who the most important person in the game is — and it may not be who you think.

Episode 6:

Pizzo sits down with Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean to talk about the top storylines one month into the season and MacLean also fuels the debate over who the best player in the game is right now.

Episode 5:

Hockey fans depend on certain trusted insiders to get their breaking news, but how exactly do they get these scoops? Turns out it’s harder work than some might expect.

Episode 4:

The fans love seeing the puck in the net…so what about the poor guys between the pipes? Are they getting pummelled for the sake of rule-tinkering?

Episode 3:

Could there be a more thankless gig? Perfection means being ignored. A single mistake and you are marked for years of noisy abuse. Don Koharski officiated over 1,700 regular season games. He and Pizzo discuss the infamous “donut incident”.

Episode 2:

Rivalries are the heart and soul of NHL excitement, but the days of brawling are mostly a thing of the past. Chris Nilan and Kris Draper talk about those old grudges, while some current players insist rivalries are as hot as ever.

Episode 1:

At the beginning of every NHL season, hockey fans generally have more questions than answers when it comes to their favourite teams — and the start of the 2018-19 campaign was no different. Pizzo tackled five burning questions on the minds of the hockey faithful.

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