NHL Recap and Analysis Week 10 - Between the Pipes
Time for some changes – Of the four major sports in North America it always seems like hockey is the slowest to adopt new changes. It could be because of the steep tradition and hockey traditionalist that don't like changes but sometimes you just need to evolve the game. Watching games from this past Wednesday illustrated that point. First in Flyers vs. Sharks you had the Flyers seemingly win the game in the final seconds but it was ruled no goal because it just missed crossing the goal line before time expired. In basketball when a player shoots a ball after the clock expires it still counts as long as he got the shot off before time runs out. They don't say well time expired before the ball went in the basket. In football when a hail mary is attempted, generally the clock has expired but the touchdown, if caught, would still be good. As it should be because the team got the play off before time expired. In hockey if a player shoots the puck before time expires, it should be considered a goal if it crosses the goal line regardless of when it crosses the line. Even if deflects off of somebody else, it should still be a goal. I highly doubt this will ever come to be but it really should.
Second during the Canucks vs. Ducks game, Curtis McElhinney was cut badly by a slapshot and fell to the ice and the Canucks scored on the rebound with McElhinney unable to make a play. Since it happened so fast, I realize that the ref probably didn't notice what had happened and that is fine. The problem is a replay can clearly tell you what happened. Under the rules I guess you can't go to a replay in that situation even though you should be able to. There is no reason why every goal shouldn't be reviewable. Also it brings up the perfect reason to have coach's challenges like they do in football. One goal can greatly effect the outcome of a game, or swing momentum, so they should not be taken lightly. One or two coach's challenges for both teams would be sufficient. The challenges should be allowed to be used on any goal or penalty. There was a situation in another Ducks game where they ruled Jason Blake had touched the puck with a high stick and then bounced the rebound into the net. The ref ruled no goal because of the high stick. The replay however showed that it may not have been played with a high stick. At that point it can't be overturned but a coach's challenge would allow it to be reviewed for the correct call.
Some might say allowing coach's challenges would slow the game down. But goals that may have been kicked in are reviewed and honestly how long does that take? It doesn't take that long and I think that making sure the correct call was made is more important than how long it takes. Hockey is the fastest sport there is and slowing it down a bit would help make sure the right calls are made.
Kari Lehtonen – Dallas Stars
Lehtonen was born in Helsinki Finland and like the other great Finnish NHL players he started his career in the SM-liiga league. He played for Jokerit and during the 2001-02 season he started out as the backup but ended up taking the starting job and the Urpo Ylönen trophy, given to the best goalie. He followed that up by wining the MVP trophy in the postseason en route to winning the title and he had one more stellar year before coming to North America. In the 2002 NHL Entry Draft he was selected 2nd overall by the Atlanta Thrashers. Making him the the highest drafted European goalie and Finnish player ever.
He played for the Chicago Wolves, the Thrashers' AHL affiliate, in 2003-04 but was called up for four games. He won all of those games and posted a 1.25 GAA and .953 SV%. Despite his impressive performance he was sent back to the Wolves for the rest of the season and all of the following season, though that was because of the NHL lockout. Lehtonen was slated to become the Thrashers' starting goalie during the 2005-06 season but suffered a groin injury when Nathan Horton slammed into him on opening night. He came back later that season but in April but was injured again when Chris Dingman collided with him. The Thrashers started five different goalies that season. Lehtonen tried it again and played in 68 games for the Thrashers. During this season he set many Thrasher franchise records, of course the Thrashers weren't that old at this point. Nevertheless he broke the shutout streak record and, became the Thrashers' all time winningest goalie. He also started the Thrashers' first playoff game ever.
2006-07 was the only season in which Lehtonen start over 50 games for the Thrashers. He was injured partially in 2007-08 and played about as much the following season. At this point the Thrashers had drafted Ondrej Pavelec and the writing was on the wall for Lehtonen. He didn't play at all for the Thrashers in 2009-10, except for four games with the Wolves affiliate. He was traded to the Dallas Stars in early 2010, where he ended up playing 12 games for the Stars. Lehtonen has the difficult task of following after Marty Turco, who was with the Stars the past nine seasons. So far this season he is off to a pretty decent start with the Stars, posting a 2.59 GAA and .915 SV%. He has yet to record a shutout so far. He is currently injured since December 8th with back problems and Andrew Raycroft has been filling in. The Stars are hoping Lehtonen will play a big part for them, as they hope to return to the playoffs. If not, they do have many young goalie prospects waiting.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Tim Jackman vs. Kyle Clifford
Not your normal fight by any means but still fun to watch.
Jared Boll vs. Cam Janssen
A decent scrap that would have been better if more shots connected.
Brad Staubitz vs. Kyle Clifford
This was one of those one sided fights.
Goats of the Week
Jason Spezza – Ottawa Senators
I'm not really quite sure what Spezza was doing. It looks like a no look pass, which is never a good thing to do in overtime and Bryan Little demonstrates why that is. Little picks up Spezza's gift and takes it down to the other end for the breakaway goal.
Jonathon Quick – Los Angeles Kings
In this installment of when the goalie leaves his crease... Quick goes out to play an incoming puck which is fine but his decision of where to play it was not. Mikko Koivu says thank you very much.
Quick wasn't done though. A mere 10 seconds after the Kings tied it, Quick goes behind the net to stop the puck but instead does not and Cal Clutterbuck says thanks.
Marc Savard – Boston Bruins
I don't really blame Savard for this miscue as he was just fighting for possession along the boards and it wasn't his fault the defenseman wasn't there. Still it will make this section and I loved Thomas' reaction after the goal.
Things I like
1. The Penguins are a lot better than _______ (insert any team name here, except maybe the Flyers) and Sidney Crosby is a much better play than ________ (insert any NHL player name here). Marc-Andre Fleury has rebounded very nicely since his awful start and has a SV% of .942 during the just ended 12 game winning streak. Evgeni Malkin came back from his injury and scored two power play goals against the Flyers. Jordan Staal might possibly be coming back soon as well.
2. Besides sharing the last name with a popular fashion company, Logan Couture is having a tremendous “rookie” season. I put that in quotes because he played 25 games last year but he is still considered a rookie this season. Couture had a five game point streak recently snapped. He is currently the rookie leader in goals and points. With Thornton and Marleau getting up there in age, the Sharks will be glad they have Couture and Joe Pavelski to lead them in the future.
3. The Kings had a November they would like to forget and Quick had a game he would like to forget against Minnesota. They both redeemed themselves though. The Kings have now won four of five and also picked up a point in the aforementioned game against Minnesota. Quick was instrumental in the Kings blanking the Red Wings 5-0 on the road. Quick stopped all 51 shots in the win and had many great saves. Even better news was that Willie Mitchell was able to rejoin the Kings' lineup.
Things I don’t
1. The Ducks recently found themselves with a two goal lead in the 3rd period three games in a row, which they then squandered in the 3rd period three times in a row. All three of them went to a shootout. They won two of them and lost one to the Canucks. Some of it has do to with inexperienced defense, sum of it to bad luck and some of it to attacking less. In the 3rd period against Vancouver they were out shot 15-2. You won't win many games that way. They rebounded in a big way against Minnesota and there is hope the new faces will continue to gel.
2. If you had to pick on team with the most pressure on them this season, I'm pretty sure you would pick the Capitals. The Capitals started out with there usual high scoring offense and added some improved defensive skills for a winning combination. Lately though things have gone south. The Capitals have now lost six in a row. Coach Bruce Boudreau said of the recent slump, “I don't have an answer right now. It's unfamiliar territory. I think we have a lot of people feeling sorry for themselves.” The Capitals have also surprisingly been shutout twice in the last three games. Though they were also shutout two times in a three game span the previous month. But losing really is new territory for them. They have only loss two or more games three times this season. Their current six game slump is the aforementioned third time. The latest 7-0 drubbing at the hands of the Rangers was a new low though. Alex Ovechkin was so frustrated he actually fought. The Capitals have out shot all of the opponents they have lost to (some by a wide margin) so they aren't getting manhandled. This season we already had a superstar, Sidney Crosby, of a struggling team drop his gloves to fight against the Stars. The Penguins responded by first losing to the Ducks the next game and then they promptly reeled off 15 victories in the next 17 games. Eerily the Capitals next opponent is also the Ducks. So will the Capitals lose to them as well and then reel off 15 victories in the next 17 games? We shall soon find out.
3. I don't care for all this “controversy” over Linus Omark's shootout spin-o-rama. Disrespectful? Please. To who? The Lightning? I don't see it. Unless it's done right in front of the opposing team or it's some kind of inappropriate gesture like a middle finger, I say bring it on. The more character and color a player brings to the game the better, I say. I would have loved it if he did a snow angel first and then took a shot.
Stat Line of the Week
12/12/10 Anaheim 6 vs. Minnesota 2
Corey Perry and the Ducks top line in general were on fire against the Wild. Perry figured into everyone of the Ducks' goals except for one. He also had his first NHL career hat trick. His goals came on even strength, penalty shot and power play. Hard to imagine it took him six seasons to get his first hat trick.
Did You Know?
In 1999-2000 the Detroit Red Wings became the first team in NHL history to have players score their 300th (Fedorov), 400th (Shanahan), 500th (Verbeek) & 600th (Yzerman) career NHL goals while playing on the same team.
544 – Games played (now 545) by captain Rick Nash, The Blue Jackets franchise leader in games played now
7 – The now ended streak of number of wins for Corey Crawford, just one win shy of tying the Blackhawks franchise rookie record for consecutive wins
2 – Wins by Antti Niemi over his former team this season
19 – Games of Sidney Crosby's current scoring streak
27.17 – GAA for Steve Manson against Calgary where he had two goals allowed on four shots before being yanked
5 – Goals scored by Henrik Sedin, the only player in the top 20 in scoring who doesn't have double digits in goals
Quotes of the Week
"We have a situation where we are going with young players, and I'm not going to deviate from the plan to rebuild through the draft. I'm not going to trade our young prospects, whether they are in Bridgeport, junior hockey, college hockey or in Europe, for a quick fix."
—GM Garth Snow, before the Isles fell to an NHL-worst 5-17-5 with a 5-4 loss Saturday to Atlanta.
Kudos to Snow for sticking with that. The players they have drafted recently should come together, they just need time.
"It's not an easy pill to swallow. But I can't beat myself up. It takes time. The game feels really fast, too fast. They're going 100 miles an hour and it's like my feet are in cement."
—Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban on his struggles after missing three games as a healthy scratch.
“He slashed me twice and I just turned around and go. If I saw it was a tough guy maybe I don't go, but I saw he was a normal player, so I go.”
- Thrashers center Alex Burmistrov on his fight with New York's John Tavares in Saturday's win over the Islanders.
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
December 09, 1988 New Jersey's John MacLean scored three goals in his second consecutive game (for his third career hat trick) as the Devils won 6-5 over the visiting NY Islanders.
December 10, 1997 Michel Petit became the first player in NHL history to score a point for 10 different teams, when his first assist of the year helped the Phoenix Coyotes to a 3-3 tie at Chicago.
December 11, 2000 NHL officially appoved the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to Wayne Gretzky and partner Steve Ellman.
December 12, 1992 L.A. Kings rookie goalie Robb Stauber ran his record to 9-0-1 (and his winning streak to a team-record tying seven straight) when the Kings beat the Blues, 6-3 at the Forum.
December 13, 2001 Patrick Lalime became the Ottawa Senators all-time leader in career shutouts, with his 14th as a member of the team, a 6-0 win against Phoenix. Lalime broke the mark of 13 held by Ron Tugnutt. Martin Havlat a hat trick for the Sens.
December 14, 1997 Teppo Numminen became the Coyotes' franchise all-time leader in assists by a defenseman, when he picked up the 250th of his career in a 3-3 tie against the Red Wings, in Phoenix. Numminen broke the mark of 249 set by Fredrik Olausson.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
5. Los Angeles
30. N.Y Islanders
29. New Jersey