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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Dan Gartland

SI:AM | The NHL’s Worst Team Finally Won a Game

Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. I’ll admit I turned on last night’s Sharks game expecting them to lose again, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Anthony Duclair’s early goal.

In today’s SI:AM:

✍️ Top 50 MLB free agents

〽️ Michigan’s showdown with the Big Ten

🐺 Anthony Edwards’s breakthrough

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Winless no more

It took nearly a month, but there are finally no more winless teams in the NHL.

The Sharks picked up their first win of the season last night against the Flyers, a 2–1 victory that snapped an 11-game losing streak to open the year. The streak was tied for the longest to start a season in NHL history.

But the length of the streak undersells the miserable start. Most of the games weren’t close. Aside from a shootout loss to the Avalanche in the second game of the season, every other loss was by at least two goals. In the last two games of the losing streak, the Sharks gave up 20 goals, losing 10–1 to the Canucks and 10–2 to the Penguins. Even after last night’s win, they’ve scored only 14 goals all season—and given up 56.

The Sharks finally got something to celebrate last night with their hard-fought win over Philadelphia. San Jose’s Anthony Duclair got the scoring started early with a goal in transition less than two minutes into the game, and William Eklund added the second with a one-timer late in the second period.

The biggest hero, though, was goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, who stopped 38 of the 39 Flyers shots he faced. He saved all 15 Philadelphia shots he faced in the third period, including a handful of impressive stops.

“It’s a lot of relief in here,” Blackwood said after the win. “Everyone’s happy. It’s been a long time coming. Now we can take a breath and try to put some more together.”

Next up for the Sharks is a game against the Oilers tomorrow night that looks a lot more interesting now. Edmonton entered the season as a Stanley Cup contender but now has the second-worst record in the league at 2-8-1.

The Oilers’ slow start is perplexing. Defense has consistently been the team’s weak point during the Connor McDavid era, but Edmonton has leaned on its incendiary offense. Last year, the Oilers led the league with 325 goals (3.96 per game), 24 more than the next closest team. They ranked in the middle of the pack with 256 goals allowed (3.12 per game), but the high-powered offense led them to a record of 50-23-9, their second consecutive 100-point season.

The offense has cratered this season, though, and the defense is even worse than last year’s. This season, Edmonton has scored 2.64 goals per game, tied for 26th in the NHL, and allowed 4.27 per game, second worst in the league. McDavid led the league in goals and assists last season, and Edmonton had three players ranked in the top 10 in points (McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins). This year, though, no Oilers player is ranked higher than 18th in the league in points (Draisaitl with 14). McDavid has just two goals on the season and acknowledged after Saturday’s loss to the Predators that his play is “not at the level I expect myself to be at.”

The Oilers made their first major move to attempt to turn things around yesterday when they waived goalie Jack Campbell and recalled Calvin Pickard from the minors. (Because of his high salary, Campbell is unlikely to be claimed on waivers and will instead go to the Oilers’ AHL affiliate.) Campbell was signed to a five-year contract before last season that has an average annual value of $5 million. But he’s struggled since coming to Edmonton. His .888 save percentage last season ranked 69th among 79 goalies who played at least 10 games. This year, his save percentage has slipped even further to .873, fifth worst among goalies with at least five appearances. The team’s other goalie, Stuart Skinner, hasn’t been any better (.856 save percentage), and Pickard hasn’t seen regular NHL playing time since 2017, but the Oilers had to do something.

The only way things can get worse for the Oilers at this point is if they manage to lose to the lowly Sharks. Tomorrow night’s game in San Jose will be worth paying attention to for both teams.

The best of Sports Illustrated

There’s one clear choice at the top of the MLB free agent market. 

Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated

The top five...

… things I saw last night:

5. The bats flying around the arena during Nevada’s game against Sacramento State.

4. Jalen Buckley’s rumbling 52-yard touchdown run for Central Michigan.

3. This absurdly athletic block by Purdue Fort Wayne’s Anthony Roberts.

2. Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta’s wildly aggressive play.

1. Erling Haaland’s long-range goal in the Champions League. 


Who was the first Canadian-born player to win the AL or NL Rookie of the Year award? (Today is the anniversary of when he was announced as the winner.)

  • Fergie Jenkins
  • Joey Votto
  • Jason Bay
  • Russell Martin

Yesterday’s SIQ: On Nov. 7, 1999, Tiger Woods won the WGC American Express Championship, his fourth consecutive win on the PGA Tour. Before Woods, who was the last golfer to win four tournaments in a row?

  • Jack Nicklaus
  • Arnold Palmer
  • Gary Player
  • Ben Hogan

Answer: Ben Hogan, who did so nearly 50 years before Woods in 1953.

The WGC was the final event of the season. Woods went on to win the first tournament of the following season, then won his next tournament a month later to stretch the streak to six. Woods also had a seven-event winning streak that spanned the 2006 and ’07 seasons.

The record for longest winning streak in PGA Tour history belongs to Byron Nelson, who won 11 in a row in 1945. That record is as untouchable as any in sports, especially when you consider, as Dave Anderson pointed out in a 2000 New York Times article, that Nelson’s streak was composed of 11 straight PGA Tour events. The streak didn’t span multiple seasons or include weeks taken off. He entered 11 PGA events in a row and won them all.

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