NHL Recap and Analysis Week 8 - Between The Pipes
A mile high worth of injuries – The physical toll of a grinding hockey schedule takes down many skilled players every year. Five teams have five or more players currently on injured reserve. The Avalanche, Islanders, Flames and Wild each have five. The Devils have six. While Zach Parise is obviously the biggest named of the IR bunch, I would have to say the Avalanche are the most hit of all the teams. Most improved goalie of last year Craig Anderson was on injured reserve for a few weeks and then was finally brought back up, only to be injured again in his 2nd game back. Anderson is currently on injured reserve again for his groin, though his duration this time should be less than last time. Of course the biggest name of the Avs injured reserve list would be Peter Mueller. Mueller (no relation ;) ) has yet to play a regular season game so far because of his lingering symptoms from his concussion. Mueller was figured to play an integral part on the Avalanche's top line this season. T.J Galiardi occupied Mueller's top spot on the line only to wind up on injured reserve himself. On the opposite side of the top line Chris Stewart, who is having a breakout year so far, recently broke his hand while fighting. While he is not on injured reserve yet, he doesn't look to be coming back anytime soon. The Avs have had to rely on career journeyman Greg Mauldin to for spots on the top line and have moved up David Jones. Both have filled in admirably though and more on Mauldin further down the column. Further proving that the LW position is cursed, David Van der Gulik is also on injured reserve. The blueline is not spared by the injury bug. Defenseman Kyle Cumisky is on injured reserve and veteran defenseman Adam Foote is day to day with his leg injury.
The Avalanche are currently right around the final playoff spot. While it's way to early to be discussing playoff spots, it's not a bad position for a team that is not even close to 100% to be in. When the Avalanche get everyone back and healthy, they could make make a major push up the standings after the all star break as they hope to build upon last year's playoff exit.
Ondrej Pavelec – Atlanta Thrashers
Ondrej Pavelec is a native of Kladno in the Czech Republic. Kladno is actually the birthplace of many famous NHL stars such as Jaromir Jagr and Tomas Plekanec. Pavelec led the Czech Republic under 17 team to a 2nd place finish in the 2004 Junior World Cup. He was part of the 2010 IIHF World Championship gold medal team but Tomáš Vokoun was the starting goalie. He was also on the 2010 Olympic team.
Pavelec was drafted in the 2nd round by the Thrashers in 2005. He then played for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL. Both seasons he was a first team All-Star and won the Jacques Plante Memorial Trophy for best goals-against average. He was only the fourth player ever to repeat as a winner and the first one to do so in 20 years. He also won the rookie of the year award and the top defensive rookie of the year award. When the Thrashers signed Pavelec they sent him to the Chicago Wolves in the AHL. In 2007-08 he help lead the Wolves to the Calder Cup.
In 2007-08 he also played in seven games for the Thrashers and then twelve games in 2008-09. It wasn't until 2009-10 that he stayed on Thrashers for the while season. He split time with Johan Hedberg that season. Posting a 3.29 GAA, .906 SV% and two shutouts. This season he is the number one goalie for the Thrashers. He did have a well documented scare when he collapsed on the ice on October 8th. The doctors determined the cause of his collapse was neurocardiogenic syncope, a type of fainting spell. He received a concussion and lost consciousness after his head hit the ice. So far this season Pavelec is off to a tremendous start. In just twelve games started he has two shutouts, a 1.62 GAA and a .949 SV%. He is currently in 2nd place for SV% behind only Tim Thomas. The much improved Thrashers are hoping to make the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. Pavelec will play an integral part in that quest and he will also try to solidify his spot as the number one goalie in Atlanta for the next decade.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Matt Hunwick vs. Evander Kane
Decent scrap between these two, with the advantage going to Kane.
Shawn Thornton vs. Eric Boulton
This fight had its slow moments but was pretty good overall.
Cam Janssen vs. John Scott
Not many times will you see Cam Janssen outsized by this much. I particularly liked him telling Scott to bring some more halfway through the fight.
Goats of the Week
Andy Sutton – Anaheim Ducks
Sutton tries to pass that puck up and out of Anaheim's end but ends up just passing it right to Patrick Sharp who scores the eventual game winning goal.
Erik Johnson – St. Louis Blues
Johnson was looking to pass or possibly shoot again on the power play but instead did neither, as Jamie Benn picked his pocket and went down the ice for a shorthanded goal that tied the game.
Things I like
1. Dustin Byfuglien is having a career year so far. I figured he would have a breakout year, if given an increased role and playing time. Not only is leading the Thrashers in goals and points, he is leading the NHL with five game winning goals. If the Thrashers actually make the playoffs, I think he should be in the running for the Hart trophy. Of course even if they did make the playoffs, he would never get nominated. Either way it's the best trade the Thrashers have ever made and a great job by the Blackhawks for finding him in the 8th round.
2. Antti Niemi hasn't had the best off-season or season so far but beating his former team surely brought some satisfaction to him. It was one of his best performances of the season. Unfortunately he was unable to follow that up with a strong performance against the Canucks. But the Canucks just outplayed the Sharks, who were also shorthanded on the forward position.
3. The Penguins are red hot winners of seven straight. Sidney Crosby has a 13 game point scoring streak and Marc-Andre Fleury has considerably picked up his game from the start of the season. Fleury during the streak has won six games with one shutout and a .953 SV%. This was the team that was envisioned when the Penguins bolstered their defense this past off-season. Watch out once Evgeni Malkin gets into a groove and Jordan Staal gets back.
4. Corey Crawford currently has a five game winning streak going. Before the season is over, he may just win the stating job from Marty Turco. Not including the five goals he gave up to the Blues last night, which were mostly redirects, Crawford's numbers during the streak have been impressive. He had a 1.21 GAA and a .951 GAA.
Things I don’t
1. If the Tampa Bay Lightning are to show they are serious about being a playoff team and contending for the Southeast division title, they will need to play way better against the top dog Washington Capitals. So far they have been outscored 12-3 in two games against the Capitals, including the latest 6-0 blowout. A goal right off the face-off three minutes into the game does not help to set a good tone for the game. It was already 5-0 halfway through the game. You can't give the Capitals breakaways or 5 on 3 power plays, those are automatic goals. Here's hoping the Lightning have a better effort when they get the Capitals at home later.
2. After crowning the Central Division the best this year, St. Louis has faltered and it looks to be the Red Wings division, again, after beating the Blue Jackets in back to back games. I'd like to see somebody give Detroit a run for its money. Skate blade related injuries are always the worst and it looks like Mike Modano will be out for at least two months after being cut by R.J Umberger's skate. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for the 40 year old. Perhaps they can design a skate blade that retracts once it's off the ice. I'm sure they can find a way to do it. At any rate it seems like the Blackhawks are starting to gel, so we might get a race for the division crown after all.
3. I briefly mentioned the struggles of the West Coast teams here last week. The good news for the Los Angeles Kings is they have mostly been competitive in their last eight games. The bad new is they aren't winning any of their games. They obviously miss Alexei Ponikarovsky and Willie Mitchell, both on IR, but they also miss secondary scoring. Jarrett Stoll was my choice for the Kings team MVP in the beginning of the year but lately he hasn't done much. Stoll had an eight point scoring streak at one point and a nine point hit streak. He hasn't been as physical lately and he has only one point, a goal, in his last six games. The blueline needs to pick it up as well. Drew Doughty received a penalty call in the 2nd against the Ducks and promptly eight seconds after he got out of the box he received another bad tripping call, this time the Ducks scored on it. You just can't do stuff like that.
Stat Line of the Week
11/27/10 Colorado 7 vs. Minnesota 4
Since being drafted in 2002 by the Blue Jackets, Greg Mauldin had only played in 15 career NHL games in seven seasons. He has mostly played in the minors and in Europe. But with all the Avalanche injuries lately, Mauldin was able to step up and contribute in the win in Minnesota. He had two goals, career goals two and three, to go along with two assists. Mauldin should continue to see increased playing time.
Did You Know?
That Claude Lemieux is the only player to score a goal five different ways in a game. He scored an even strength, power play, short handed, penalty shot and empty net goal against the New Jersey Devils on December 31st 1988. Sidney Crosby came real close against the Flames recently. Had he made his penalty shot, he would have scored the five different ways with only four goals because of his empty net shorthanded goal.
10,000th – Flames franchise goal scored by Curtis Glencross against Philadelphia
448 – Consecutive games played by Jay Bouwmeester, the longest active streak in the NHL
4 – The number of games Crosby doesn't have a point in so far this season
3 – Alexander Semin hat tricks this season
3.48 – Goals a game scored by the Avalanche, tops in the NHL
171 – PIM by the Panthers, the lowest in the NHL by far
7 – Straight games with a point for Avs rookie defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk
Quotes of the Week
“It was time. We weren't able to smile there for a good month.”
- Goalie Rick DiPietro after the Islanders ended a 14-game winless streak (0-11-3) with a 2-0 win Friday against New Jersey.
"It's frustrating, I've never seen anything like it where you get shut out so many times. It's pretty tough to take."
- Luke Schenn said after a 3-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators. The Leafs are now averaging barely two goals a game, scored just once on the weekend and have eight goals in an 0-7-1 road losing streak.
“Considering nobody on the team bought me anything, it was nice to get a goal.”
- D Keith Ballard, who celebrated his 28th birthday by recording his first point as a Canuck with 3:22 left in a 6-1 win over San Jose.
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
November 25, 2001 Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 41 shots to record his second consecutive shutout (the 25th of his career) and Pavel Kubina and Tim Taylor scored shorthanded goals 57 seconds apart in the 1st period as Tampa Bay won 4-0 over the Hurricanes in Carolina.
November 26, 1999 Detroit's Larry Murphy became the fourth player (and first defenseman) in NHL history to appear in 1,500 career NHL games. The milestone came in a 4-2 win over the visiting Edmonton Oilers. Murphy picked up two assists in the game.
November 27, 1965 Detroit's Gordie Howe scored his 600th NHL goal. It came in a 6-2 Red Wings loss to Montreal. Howe also got a major penalty that night for elbowing J.C. Tremblay. Howe became the first NHL player to get 600 career goals.
November 28, 1954 Boston's Leo Labine scored three goals (in a span of 4:22) and added three assists in a 6-2 win over Detroit, at Boston Garden. Labine picked up five points in the second period to tie an NHL record.
November 29, 1962 Rangers' Andy Bathgate scored his 229th career NHL goal to become New York's all-time leading scorer, breaking Bill Cook's record for Rangers' goals (228) in a 5-0 win at Detroit. Gump Worsley got his 23rd career shutout.
November 30, 1996 Mario Lemieux had a goal and three assists for his 1,400th career point and Ron Francis added a goal and two assists for his 900th career assist in the Penguins' 6-2 win over Boston. Lemiuex became the 9th NHL player to score 1,400 points.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
30. N.Y Islanders
29. Los Angeles
26. St. Louis