NHL Recap and Analysis Week 2 - Between the Pipes

When is it time to hang up the skates? – Patrick Roy was my idol he along with my 1988-89 Panini hockey sticker book are what got me into hockey. When Roy retired in 2003 I was annoyed and upset. Not because my favorite player retired, because I knew he would eventually, but because the Avalanche were eliminated in the 1st round against the Minnesota Wild a team they should have beaten. I wanted Roy’s career to end on a high note. Maybe not another Stanley Cup but definitely another long playoff run and certainly not a bitter Game 7 1st round exit. But I guess Roy knew it was over for him and in reality he had nothing left to prove with his four Stanley Cups and numerous records. Most of those records have since been broken by Martin Brodeur. Which brings me to the point of this piece; it’s time to hang them up Marty.

The Devils haven’t advanced past the 1st round of the playoffs the last three years. They haven’t been out of the 2nd round since they last won the cup in 2003. Now not all of it is Brodeur’s fault but last year against the Flyers was just a disaster. Two years ago against the Hurricanes we all remember the two goals in the final two minutes of Game 7. Once again not entirely Brodeur’s fault as the first goal was just great passing and the second goal was partially deflected off of the Devils defenseman’s stick. Still you have to wonder that maybe those were not the best signs. This year the Devils and Brodeur (3.18 GAA, .887 SV%) are not off to a very good start. The last game against the Bruins, Brodeur gave up four goals. Some weren’t his fault but a couple of the goals you think in his heyday he would have stopped them. Sure problems plague the Devils in general. First there was the Kovalchuk contract thing, then them not resigning Paul Martin and then the failure to be able to afford enough players but it just seems like the Brodeur and Devils magic has run its course. The Devils play in the tough Atlantic division, so while they may have the talent they may not get the record to show it this season.

I realize it’s not easy for a seventeen year NHL veteran who has been surround with hockey his whole life, including when he was a kid from watching his dad play. to just stop playing but at some point he will need to make that decision. Dominik Hasek retired only to come back a season later and then retire again. Of course he recently came out of retirement again to play for the Czech Extraliga League and now the KHL at the age of 45. The reason Hasek retired from the NHL the second time was about motivation. Hasek said, "I'm glad I can make my decision. I'm not ready to compete [anymore] on the highest level." I guess Brodeur is still motivated to compete but when you have two Olympic Gold Medals, three Stanley Cup championships and you hold almost every major goaltending record, what else do you need to prove?

Goalie Spotlight

Brent Johnson – Pittsburgh Penguins

Despite being in his 2nd year with the Penguins, Penguins fans might wonder who is Brent Johnson and where is Marc-Andre Fleury?

A product of Farmington, Michigan Johnson was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 1995 with the 129th overall pick but he never actually played for them. He played for the Owen Sound Platers in the OHL but didn’t produce the best numbers. Next up was the Worcester Ice Cats of the AHL where he fared a little better. In the 1998-99 season with the Blues he finally made his NHL debut. He only played in six gamed but he played well. That year the Blues actually started five different goalies, so it’s amazing he got any playing time at all. He went back to the AHL again for a season before cracking the blues lineup the next season where he split time with Roman Turek. The next season, 2001-02 was the only season where he started over 50 games in the NHL. Producing a 2.18 GAA, .902 SV% and 5 shutouts in 58 games. The following season the Blues actually used seven different starting goalies. He was eventually phased out until he was traded to the Coyotes in a brief stint. He then latched on to the Capitals where he mainly backed up Olaf Kolizig. He was lastly the backup to Jose Theodore until Semyon Varlamov emerged as the number two goalie and then eventually the number one.

Last season Johnson backed up Fleury starting in 23 games. This season he has actually played one more game than Fleury. He is so far undefeated with four wins and a 1.49 GAA and .950 SV%. Since leading the Penguins to a Stanley Cup victory in 2009 Fleury hasn’t quite been the same. It’s not that his numbers are down, they are, but it’s more about the kind of fluky goals he lets in from time to time. So far this year Fleury has struggled as well. If Fleury can’t manage to get it together, Johnson will play an integral part in the Penguins run for another Stanley Cup.

Fights of the Week

Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.

Colton Orr vs. Deryk Engelland

Colton Orr with experience of over 200 fights in three different leagues was expected to be of no match for Engelland. The fight was fairly even despite Engelland having his view blocked by his dangling helmet for a bit but Engelland in the end had the KO.

Michael Rupp vs. Jody Shelley

A pretty decent scrap between these two.

Chris Stewart vs Zenon Konopka

Real decent scrap just five seconds into the game. Stewart is the Avalanche’s 2nd leading scorer too. What’s not to love?

Goat of the Week

Tyler Myers – Buffalo Sabres

Last years Calder Trophy winner Tyler Myers mishandles the puck and Patrick Kane makes him pay setting up Patrick Sharp for the 1st goal of the game. A goal that proved costly, as the Sabres lost to the Blackhawks 4-3.

Things I like

1. Thomas Kopecky is leading the Blackhawks in assists and tied for 2nd in points. Drafted 38th overall in the 200 draft, Kopecky has never scored more than 21 points in a season. Of course Kopecky is now playing on the 2nd line with Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, which always helps, so he should at least triple his previous point high. Kris Versteeg and Andrew Ladd who?

2. Who said the Capitals had no defense? *raises hand* The Capitals have been shorthanded 25 times this season and have so far yielded no power play goals. Whether they can keep it up or not is anyone’s guess. Since losing 4-2 to the Thrashers on opening night, the Capitals have only given up two goals or less in each game since. Credit also goes to Michal Neuvirth who has played well in place of injured Semyon Varlamov, who is now back. Of course last night against the Bruins they did give up three goals in a loss.

3. The Penguins power play actually started the week in my “Things I Don’t” section because their power play was ranked 20th in the NHL. It’s unacceptable really for a line that boasts Malkin and Crosby and having a man advantage to be ranked that low. But they have since woken up to rise all the way to 10th place since Sidney Crosby unleashed back to back power play goals in Philadelphia. The Penguins also get the most practice on power plays as they far and away lead the NHL with the most power play opportunities with 40.

4. The Los Angeles Kings, proving that last year was not a mirage, are off to a fairly decent start at 3-1. Jonathon Quick is off to a great start that he needed to have. He has let in just three goals in three games thus far. They are maintaining their well balanced offense and bringing the stars out to games, such as Vince Vaughn and Bristol Palin. Did I actually use Bristol Palin and star in the same sentence?

Things I don’t

1. The Flames reunited top line of Alex Tanguay, Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginila. They had produced no points until their last game against the Oilers. This only happened because Jokinen was bumped down to the 2nd line probably not what the Flames had envisioned when the required him but Jokinen did help set up a goal on that line. If bumping him down to the 2nd line and Matt Stajan up is what’s needed to produce points, I think Calgary and the fans will take it.

2. Call me absolutely puzzled with the Joe Thornton deal. In the five postseasons with the Sharks, Thornton has only averaged a point a game just once and has a negative +/- in three of the five postseasons. If I was the Sharks management I would have waited to see what Thornton does in this postseason before I made an offer. Sure he’d be an unrestricted free agent but he doesn’t seem like the kind of player that would play hardball in negations. Plus if he fails miserably in the playoffs, nobody would want him anyway.

3. Luca Sbisa was probably the biggest component of the Pronger trade, as the Ducks were hoping to get a young dominant defenseman to replace the old dominant defenseman. It hasn’t really worked at that way though. For the 3rd straight year Sbisa was sent down to the Minors. It has to be disappointing for the Olympian, especially since 18 year old Cam Fowler is excelling on the team. I hope next year Sbisa is finally ready.

4. The Shane Doan suspension I thought was a bit much. I didn’t care for his hit on Cam Fowler that broke Fowler’s nose or the hit on Dan Sexton. What bothered me more though is that the ref didn’t call a penalty on either during the game. Doan is, I believe, a first time offender so I think one or two games would have served the purpose. I’ve certainly seen worse hits than the one Doan gave Sexton. The NHL clearly wants to send a message.

Stat Line of the Week

10/16/10 Florida 6 vs. Tampa Bay 0

Skater

TOI

G

A

+/-

SOG

PIM

B. McCabe

20:06

0

4

+4

1

0

Bryan McCabe help lead the rout of the Lightning with his four assists in the battle of Florida. Mcabe’s nice pass just two minutes into the game to Corey Stillman help set the tone of the game. Florida has now beaten their last two opponents by a combined 9-0 score.

Did You Know?

The Longest NHL suspension was given to Billy Coutu in 1927 for life. Coutu started a bench clearing brawl at the end of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals at the apparent behest of coach Art Ross, he of the Art Ross trophy fame. He assaulted referee Jerry Laflamme and tackled referee Billy Bell. Two and a half years later the suspension was lifted but Coutu never played for the NHL again.

Numbers, Numbers

10 – Number of wins for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1993-94, the longest wining streak to start a season

15 – Number of games won or tied by the Edmonton Oilers in 1984-85, the longest undefeated streak to start a season

3 – Shorthanded goals against the Colorado Avalanche, currently worst in the league

9 – Total shorthanded goals against the Avalanche last year, 2nd worst in the league

300 – Career goals by Dany Heatley

2 – Even strength goals for the Wild in the first four games

3 – Even strength goals last night against the Canucks

This Week in Hockey History

Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.

October 14, 1998 New York Islanders became just the third team in NHL history to shut out the same opponent four straight times (and the first to do so since 1927) when goalie Tommy Salo recorded his 10th career shutout in a 2-0 win at Tampa Bay.

October 15, 2003 Daniel Alfredsson scored twice to become the Ottawa Senators' all-time leading scorer (with his 492nd career point) in a 4-3 loss to the Kings in Los Angeles. Alfredsson broke the franchise mark of 491 points set by Alexei Yashin.

October 16, 1982 Gil Perreault scored his 15th career hat trick and added two assists, one of which came on rookie Phil Housley's first NHL goal, to lead the Sabres to a 9-2 win over the Capitals at Washington.

October 17, 1982 Victor Nechayev became the first Soviet-trained player to score a goal in the NHL -- he helped the Kings to a 5-3 win over the Rangers, at New York. Nachaev played just three games during his NHL career.

October 18, 2000 18-year-old rookie Marian Gaborik scored twice in the final 2:28 of the game to lead the Minnesota Wild to their first victory in team history, 6-5 over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

October 19, 1980 In a pre-game ceremony at Chicago Stadium, Stan Mikita's uniform #21 was retired by the Black Hawks. It was the first Hawk jersey to be retired. Chicago then won the game 8-4 over the Washington Capitals.

Rankings

The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.

Top 5

1. Toronto
2. Washington
3. Detroit
4. Chicago
5. Tampa Bay

Bottom 5

30. Buffalo
29. Ottawa
28. New Jersey
27. Minnesota
26. Phoenix

Courtesy of Pucking Awesome

7 Comments

George Prax's picture

Great write-up as always man.

Really surprised with the Caps defense as well. Like you said a lot of it has to do with Neuvirth but I kinda had a suspicion the defense would sneak up on a few people.

Alex Mueller's picture

The big question is can they do it in the playoffs?

George Prax's picture
Alex Mueller wrote:

The big question is can they do it in the playoffs?

I think so. What happened against us (the Habs) will NOT happen to again. I think Halak and the Habs really caught them off guard and taught them a nasty lesson that they won't let repeat.

Alex Mueller's picture

I agree, sometimes you have to go backwards in order to go forwards. The Sharks have learned that.

George Prax's picture

I have to disagree with you there Michael. The team that I saw lose to the Habs was surprised and cocky. They won't be that way again this year or in the future. The Habs put them in their place and taught them a lesson. And the Caps are better because of it now. They've been playing well defensively and no matter who's in goal at this point (Varlamov or Neuvirth) will be able to carry the ball. I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I think the Caps are my pick to make it out of the east this year and go to the cup finals.