NHL Recap and Analysis Week 11 - Between the Pipes
Hotlanta – The Thrashers, for a night anyway, found themselves in first place in the Southeast division proving just how far they have come this season. The deal with the Blackhawks this offseason has been instrumental to their success. Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd are currently the Thrashers' leading scorers. They also bring a winning experience to the team something the Thrashers haven't really had, unless you count Slava Kozlov. It seems likely that with Ladd and Byfulgein and Ondrej Pavelec's solid goaltending the Thrashers will make the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like Atlanta cares much, as the Thrashers have the third worst attendance in the league which is pretty much where they have always been. If they start winning and they can't draw then that's a shame for the city and will only insight rumors of them leaving town. On the plus side Ilya Kovalchuk came to town and the fans that did show up booed him out of the building. The Thrashers dominated the game and won 7-1. It must suck for Ilya to be playing for a team with the most losses in the NHL against his former team who was in the 1st place in their division. Good things happen to good people eh?
None this week, no time with a new job.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Paul Bissonnette vs. Trevor Gillies
Great fight by these two, mostly dominated by Gillies.
Matt Bradley vs. Adam McQuaid
A pretty decent fight that McQuaid had the advantage in.
Goats of the Week
Brian Rafalski – Detroit Red Wings
With about three minutes left in the game and the Stars pressing for the final goal, Rafalski is able to gain control of the puck and passes it right to Jamie Benn who feeds Brenden Morrow for the game tying goal. The Red Wings would end up losing in overtime, oops.
Jason LaBarbera – Phoenix Coyotes
LaBarbera went out to play the puck but wasn't really able to because of the trapezoid rule, so that allowed Brandron Prust to take advantage of the situation and score. Better stay home next time LaBarbera.
Things I like
1. Not to be outdone by the Penguins recent success, Pennsylvania's “other” team the Flyers are now on their own little winning streak before laying an egg and losing to the Panthers 5-0. The Flyers now boast the best record in the NHL. It will get tougher for them though, as Chris Pronger will be out at least a month with a broken foot. It will be interesting to see how the loss of Pronger affects the defense. If the loss to the Panthers is any indication, it won't be good.
2. The Capitals won for the first time in awhile and snapped their winless streak. But they celebrated like they had just won the Stanley Cup. Of course it's not like any of them would know how that would be, snap. The Capitals then creamed the Devils in the next game. Beating the Senators and the Devils isn't really anything to write home about though. Their next game against the Penguins will show if the have gotten back on track or not.
3. Evgeni Malkin, since coming back form injury, is on fire. He is on a three game goal and scoring streak including a huge break out game against Phoenix where he netted two goals and three assists. Despite actually losing two games, the Penguins are not a team I would want to face right now.
Things I don’t
1. The starting of the Martin Brodeur trade rumors. I wrote about this in my 2nd column this season, just retire already. I realize he has one more season on his contract after this season but he could still retire or just say he will retire after his contract is over. This isn't like the Teemu Sleanne situation. Brodeur is not playing at a high level anymore. This also isn't like the Ray Bourque situation. Brodeur already has plenty of Cups and records. What's the point of going anywhere else? I realize maybe the Devils could get something for him to help them rebuild but I wouldn't want him. Plus most of the teams that could use him either have no salary cap room or would be better off in the long term not alienating their current goalies but trading for him. There's nothing I hate more than players that don't know when to retire a la Brett Favre.
2. The Avalanche's Kyle Quincey is now done for the year. Another blow to the injury riddled Avalanche but maybe a blessing in disguise as Quincey has regressed significantly from his previous two seasons. This gives him a chance to try and refocus and come back better next year.
3. The Montreal Canadiens have lost five of their last six. All is not lost as they are still in 1st place and a lock to make the playoffs. The thing that only worries me about the Canadiens is that they don't really have a true number one guy that can strap the team on it's back a la Sidney Crosby. The Canadiens have scored 14 goals in the last six games but only two players have scored more than one goal. Michael Cammalleri and Brian Gionta each scored two. I can't help but think it might be a problem come playoff time if they don't make any trades.
4, The Ducks and their east coast road trip of inconsistency. They beat the Capitals and the Bruins but they lost to the Islanders, Hurricanes and Sabres. I'm not sure that makes much sense. It seems like they are playing up or down to their competition. Against the Sabres and Islanders the Ducks dug themselves into 0-3 holes in the 1st period. Tough to dig yourself out of that on the road.
Stat Line of the Week
12/18/10 Carolina 4 vs. Anaheim 2
Eric Staal had a natural hat trick against the Ducks in a game where all five goals were scored by one player on each team, besides the empty net goal. He took a whopping 10 shots on goal and is on pace to have his best season in five years.
Did You Know?
Rod Langway is the only NHL player to be born in China. He was born in Taipei, Taiwan. His dad was stationed in Taiwan when he was born but he grew up in Massachusetts. Langway played for the Canadiens and Captials
26 – 3rd period shots for the Capitals against the Bruins
2 – Shots in the 3rd period for the Bruins in the same game
100 – Games between goals for Andrew Ference
99 – The span of seconds the Islanders scored all three of their goals for the game in the 1st period
7-8 – The road records for the Canadiens and Capitals (Capitals also have an OTL), the only Eastern teams in the top eight spots that have losing road records
Quotes of the Week
“You guys saw it. There's not a whole lot to say. That's not the way a National Hockey League team is supposed to play.”
- RW/captain Jamie Langenbrunner after Saturday night's 7-1 loss in Atlanta.
“At the end of the day only one line scored again. The guys have got to do what they're paid to do, which is score some goals.”
- Coach Ron Wilson after a 4-1 loss to Vancouver.
“It was one of those nights. I probably am not going to even look at the game.”
- Coach Barry Trotz on the 6-1 loss to the Kings
“It's amazing. It's my first (overtime goal) ever. It's a pretty great feeling. It's one of those things where you score and you kind of think, 'Did I just score?'...”
- Avalanche center Matt Duchene, whose overtime goal Friday secured a 6-5 win against Ottawa.
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
December 16, 1964 Detroit's Gordie Howe picked up two goals and two assists to become the first player in NHL history to score 1,300 career points. He reched the milestone during a 7-3 win over the Rangers, in New York.
December 17, 1999 Pavel Bure scored his 13th career hat trick and added an assist in the Panthers 4-2 win at Buffalo.
December 18, 1998 Ottawa's Alexei Yashin scored twice and added three assists as the Senators won 5-1 against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes. Yashin set a club record for points in a period with a goal and three assists in the second.
December 19, 1943 Harry Lumley became the youngest goaltender in NHL history, when he made his first appearance with the Red Wings, a 6-2 loss to the Rangers in New York. Lumley made his NHL debut at the age of 17 years and 38 days.
December 20, 1989 Chicago Blackhawks set a team record with four goals within a span of 1:56 during the third period of a 9-6 win against the St. Louis Blues, in Chicago Stadium.
December 21, 1996 Mats Sundin scored his 4th career hat trick (and his first with Toronto) and added an assist in the Maple Leafs' 6-2 win over the Avalanche, at Colorado.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
30. New Jersey
29. N.Y Islanders