The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Jason Spezza’s hat trick, Lady Liberty returns

Let’s go over The Good, The Bad & The Ugly from the last couple of days in the NHL.

This feature debuted earlier in the week and, as was the case then, we’re going to look back at some of the best, some of the worst and some of the downright crazy moments from all the games that took place in the NHL on Thursday and Friday – we’ll cover Saturday’s games later.

It was a busy slate of games across the two days and we saw the return of some cherished uniforms, a veteran running it back, another veteran achieving a childhood dream, good starts continue, an upset and a whole boatload of goals.

There was simply so much action to digest from the two days, as has been the case in the opening weeks of the 2020-21 NHL season so far, and we’re going to break it all down in our unique way by looking at the good, the bad and the ugly from a wild slate of games. Let’s delve right in…

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly from Thursday and Friday in the NHL

Jason Spezza (19)

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza (19). Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Jason Spezza – What a night Thursday was for the veteran. Back with his hometown team, Spezza has established himself as a valuable piece on this Toronto Maple Leafs roster under Head Coach Sheldon Keefe, and he really ran it back against the Vancouver Canucks the other night.

In what was a wild 7-3 win for the Leafs, who improved to 8-2-1 on the year, Spezza was was the star of the show as he recorded his first hat trick in almost five years. His first goal came on the power play as he took a pass from Morgan Rielly before ripping an absolute bomb of a shot from the circle and past Thatcher Demko. His second goal was also a nice wrister and the veteran then completed his hat trick with a filthy move to leave a Canucks defenseman in the dust before putting the puck in the net. It was vintage Jason Spezza and it was a true throwback to his heyday on what was a big night for the Toronto Maple leafs.

Mika Zibanejad (93)

Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Lady Liberty Jerseys – Yes, it finally happened. The New York Rangers finally debuted their fresh-looking Lady Liberty Retro Reverse jerseys on Thursday night, bringing back an absolute classic and they looked even better out on the ice. And, as an added bonus, they also proved a good luck charm with the Blueshirts picking up a huge win over the Washington Capitals to improve to 4-4-2 on the year.

Anthony Bitetto – Speaking of the New York Rangers, we’ll stick at Madison Square Garden where it was one hell of a magical night for Anthony Bitetto. The veteran defenseman, who is from Long Island, grew up cheering for the Rangers and signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Blueshirts this offseason, before being elevated off the Taxi Squad earlier this week in the wake of Tony DeAngelo’s exile.

And, what followed next was truly incredible as Bitetto took the puck along the boards, travelled behind the net, beat a couple of Capitals defensemen before getting to the net and beating Vitek Vanecek with the backhand. It was the veteran’s first goal in nearly three years and it was one hell of a moment for the blueliner.

Patrik Laine – It was also a big night for Patrik Laine who scored his first goal for the Columbus Blue Jackets since that blockbuster trade with the Winnipeg Jets a couple of weeks ago. And it was a beauty as the elite winger grabbed the loose puck, spun and then backhanded the puck into the net for his first as a Blue Jacket, and it should be the first of many.

Ottawa Senators – It has been a tough year so far for the Ottawa Senators who look set to be historically bad in 2020-21, but they had a moment of joy on Thursday when they beat the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, with the highlight being rookie sensation Tim Stutzle scoring his third goal in as many games.

Tim Stutzle (18)

Tim Stutzle #18 of the Ottawa Senators (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

The Bad

Detroit Red Wings – Yes, they were playing the Tampa Bay Lightning who are absolutely loaded, but this was another tough loss for the Detroit Red Wings, who are now 2-8-2 on the year. It was the second loss to the Lightning this week and Detroit are now currently riding a 0-6-2 skid, which isn’t great.

Brian Elliott (37)

Brian Elliott #37 of the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Flyers – After blowing a 3-1 lead against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night, the Philadelphia Flyers landed the first blow of the night thanks to the red hot James van Riemsdyk but, again, they couldn’t finish the job done as Brad Marchand and Sean Kuraly scored within seconds for the surging Boston Bruins.

Brock Boeser (6)

Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The Ugly

Vancouver Canucks – Yikes, it hasn’t been a great start to the 2020-21 season for the Vancouver Canucks, but Thursday was a low point for this team. They were absolutely blown out by the Toronto Maple Leafs in an ugly 7-3 loss, being outshot 37-19 and it was just an absolute stinker for a team who were meant to be taking the next giant leap this year.

Nashville Predators – We delved into it here, but is it time for the Nashville Predators to pull the trigger on a rebuild? They secured a thrilling victory against the Florida Panthers on Thursday, but couldn’t build on it and instead dropped a tough 2-1 loss to the Panthers on Friday night to drop to 5-6-0 on the year. This Preds team appears to be in utter free fall and they might have to do something drastic to turn this around. And soon.