Monday, December 4, 2017
The quality of the t-shirts and products that Redbubble prints on is very high, and we love the items that we've received from them.
Monday, November 27, 2017
Fun Fact: The history of the @NHL, founded 100 years ago today, can be tracked through five players.— Jonathon Jackson (@jonathonj1970) November 26, 2017
Jaromir Jagr played against Guy Lafleur, who played against Gordie Howe, who played against Dit Clapper, who played with/against Cy Denneny, who played on opening night. #NHL100 pic.twitter.com/vYM5UGLI4q
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
So, why is that significant (besides the fact that it's a lot of games in one day)?
NHL history shows if you're not in position by Thanksgiving, you may go hungry at playoff time
It might seem early in the season to make playoff predictions, but at this point, division leaders have established themselves, and the wildcard contenders continue to battle it out. For the bottom teams, it is unlikely, if not mathematically impossible, for them to make the playoffs. However, there is a chance that we might see some movement in the standings after today, and the question is, "Which game to watch?"
I am personally attending the Canucks vs Penguins game tonight, which is worth watching just to see the reigning champs in action, but if there was another pivotal game happening tonight, it might be Blackhawks vs. Lightning. The Blackhawks have the most at stake as they need the win if they want a chance at a wildcard position. The Sharks are close on their heels, but they might not be that much of threat if they can't keep it together and get their win tonight, too. If the Penguins beat the Canucks tonight, that will also help the Blackhawks. The Lightning have a solid lead in their division, so if they lose tonight, it's not as much of a big deal. So, today is very important for the Blackhawks. Otherwise, don't expect much of a change in standings.
There aren't any NHL games scheduled for Thursday this week (Thanksgiving Day), but Black Friday is another full day with 14 games on the schedule, starting at 1 pm ET with Pittsburgh vs Boston (2017 Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown). It will be interesting to see what the standings look like after this week!
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Answer: St. Louis Blues.
They are actually playing the Oilers tonight. Also playing tonight: Vancouver vs Philadelphia, and Montreal vs Dallas, which means that they are all playing back-to-back games. Except for St. Louis, that is.
Friday, November 10, 2017
Well, I was looking around for updates about her tonight and I'm heartbroken to say that Ari is not doing well and her fight with cancer is nearing the end. I found the Facebook page kept by her family ("Fight Like Arianna") and they shared that her lungs are failing and all that can be done now is to keep her comfortable. And if that didn't make me cry enough, there are pictures taken within the last couple of days of Ari and her visitors, and two of the people who have spent time with her this week are her hero Vladi Tarasenko and his wife. I know this little girl made an impact on them and I'm so glad they were able to spend time with her.
If you have a chance, please send a positive thought or prayer up for her and her family and for all of the people who love her... Thank you -
#FightLikeArianna #HockeyFightsCancer #CancerSucks
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
It is, however, unsurprising that he was displeased with this assignment. The first time he was sent back down this season he was rumored to be ready to quit and go back to the KHL. This time, we are hearing the same stories again, but with more evidence of Shipachyov's displeasure. On October 25, the day after he was sent back down to Chicago, his agent Petr Svoboda was given permission to start seeking a trade for Shipachyov.
Vadim Shipachyov did initially physically relocate to Chicago this time, but his stay there was short lived. He was present and participated in morning skate on Saturday October 28 prior to their game that night against the Milwaukee Admirals. However, by game time he was a no show. Head coach Rockey Thompson stated that he was unaware until two hours and fifteen minutes prior to puck drop that Shipachyov would not be playing that night.
Not only did Shipachyov fail to report for a game, at virtually no notice, he is also rumored to have left the state and returned to Las Vegas to be with his family. This unexpected absence forced the Golden Knights to suspend him without pay on Sunday. There have been no further details released as yet about the suspension. If it is similar to what happened with Jonathan Drouin and the Tampa Bay Lightning, and if Shipachyov were to return to Chicago and fulfill his obligations to the team while Svoboda continues to seek trade options, it is likely that the suspension would be lifted. I however, am not going to hold my breath and wait for that to happen, as it seems unlikely at this point.
By refusing to participate in practices and games with the Chicago Wolves, Shipachyov has damaged his chances of any NHL team wanting to pick him up. No one wants a player with these kinds of attitude problems, especially one who has failed to live up to expected performance. The Montreal Canadiens had already made public statements prior to the suspension that they were not interested in picking him up when they were approached by Svoboda late last week. I don't see any evidence of any other NHL teams showing interest in him up to now either.
This means his next likely step would be to either break or buy out his contract with the NHL and return to Russia or another KHL team, much as Illya Kovalchuk did in 2013 when he "retired" from the NHL just three years into a 17-year contract with the New Jersey Devils. This has been the most common rumor that I have heard. One thing to keep in mind though is that for any trade, or return to the KHL to happen, first the Golden Knights would need to terminate his contract or put Shipachyov on unconditional waivers, and as of this afternoon, neither of those things have happened. The unconditional waivers process is of course only needed if he chose to remain in the NHL or any of its minor league affiliates. The termination of contract would be needed to return to the KHL or another international professional league, if he chose to. The other factor that needs to be noted is that if Shipachyov were to break or buy out his contract, he would also have to pay back a prorated amount of his 2 million dollar signing bonus that he received when he joined the Golden Knights. As he seems willing to remain suspended without pay the money may not be his biggest motivating factor, but that is a sizable chunk of money he would have to come up with before he could return to the KHL.
There have been a number of different reports in the last several hours that Vadim Shipachyov is going to terminate his contract. He may well go that route. At present it seems more likely than and NHL trade, or than Shipachyov suddenly deciding to report back to Chicago and play there until a trade can be arranged. As of now though no official word has come down from the NHL or the Golden Knights organization that Shipachyov's contract has been terminated. This gives some of Shipachyov's supporters and fans hope that he may be able to work things out. Myself, given his attitude of refusing to play when he does not get his way and the fact that in the preseason as well as so far in the regular season he has failed to live up to the potential he was hired for, I would just as soon see him part ways with the team.
I believe that Shipachyov will choose to ride things out just as they are now. It seems that he is content to remain in Las Vegas with his family and accept the suspension. He appears confident the Svoboda will be able to find him a spot and a contract where he will get the level of play he wants. Most likely this will back with a KHL team. Shipachyov has a good reputation with the KHL for high level performance and two Gagarin Cups in recent years. Unless he is willing to demonstrate his ability to be a team player and fulfill his responsibilities as a team player by returning to the Wolves and playing well, I don't see another NHL team being willing to take a risk on him.
I don't believe that this will be a quick process though, it may be weeks or months before Svoboda can find him a new team to play for, unless someone in the KHL is desperate to have him back. SKA, his former team is doing extremely well without him this season though. So my guess it would have to come from a KHL team that thinks he would drastically improve their chances for the Gagarin cup. We will just have to wait and see what happens.
Right now the Golden Knights have bigger problems than what to do with the Russian who refuses to play. Goalie Oscar Dansk was injured in last night's game with the Islanders. This makes now three Vegas goalies to be out injured in just 10 games.
Friday, October 13, 2017
By Resolute (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Now, so far, the Golden Knights are averaging three goals a game, and Neal is responsible for more than half of those goals. When he inevitably has a game or string of games that he fails to score in that is going to drastically effect the Golden Knights chances of winning. In the season opener, Neal scored Vegas' only goals, so take them away and it is a clear win for the Stars. If we take away Neal's goal in the second game, which was in overtime, either it would have gone to a shootout or possibly the Coyotes would have managed to edge them out for the win. Their third game on paper, they would have still won 3-2 taking away Neal's two goals.
When a game goes to overtime, the dynamics and energy of the game completely changes. So an overtime game can easily go to either team playing. The Nashville Predators, who Neal played for last year had 14 games go into overtime. Of those games, they lost 10 games in and won only four, so they only won 40 percent of their OT games. Marc-Andre Fleury had seven of the Penguins 11 overtime losses last season. This means that Fleury lost 63 percent of the overtime games he played in last season. With such low odds of winning an overtime or shootout game, I am going to consider that on paper, the Golden Knights would have lost two of their three games without Neal's goals.
What the math does not take into effect is the emotional component of the game. So, with math I can show that if Neal had not scored, the Golden Knights would likely have lost two games. Now consider what having Neal going scoreless would do to the spirit and energy of the team. In the one game they would have statistically won, even if Neal had not scored a goal; the score would have been 3-2 with more than six minutes left in regulation. If the game had been that close, it is very likely that the Coyotes would have played harder and had more energy in the final minutes of play. The Golden Knights would not have had the confidence that Neal inspires when he is playing well, and would likely have been more stressed to try to hold onto the lead. This makes mistakes on their part more likely as well. Now I am not saying that they definitely would have lost that game, but I can also not say they certainly would have won. I believe when you factor the emotions in and the energy boost that the Coyotes would have gotten for having the opportunity to tie the game up, added to the lower confidence and energy that the Golden Knights would have had from Neal failing to find the back of the net, it is quite possible that they might have lost this game too.
Just the energy and confidence that one player brings to the ice can make a huge difference in winning or losing a game. For example, in a one-month period between November 28, 2015 and December 28, 2015, Montreal played 13 games. Out of those 13 games, Max Pacioretty had 11 games where he did not score, and the Canadiens lost every one of those games. That is 85 percent of the games he did not score in, his team lost. The two games in that time that Pacorietty did score in, his team won both games. In the following month, from December 29 through February 2, Montreal went on to lose eight of the next 13 games where he again went scoreless. That is 62 percent of games. In this time where Pacioretty again did not score, the Canadiens lost. For three of the four games they won in that next month, Pacioretty scored at least one goal. From just this two-month time span in the 2015-16 season, we can see the impact that a single goal by just one specific player can make. This trend continued throughout the rest of the 2015-16 season. In this season, the Canadiens had 38 wins and 44 losses and they missed making the playoffs. If Pacioretty had scored a single goal in those 19 games, or even just scored in half of those games, the season would have ended very differently for the Montreal. They probably would have made it into the playoffs at the very least.
Another example is Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks. In mid-October of 2015 he fractured his fibula, which caused him to miss nearly three months of play. During the time that Couture was out injured, the Sharks lost 18 of their next 32 games. This is nearly 60 percent of the games Couture missed - the Sharks lost. At the end of December of 2015, the Sharks were at 18-16-2 record. After Couture was back on the ice by the end of January of 2016, they were 26-18-4. During that three month absence, no one thought the Sharks would even make the playoffs. After Couture's return, the Sharks won 60 percent of their games for the remainder of the regular season. This is the incredible difference emotionally and in energy on the ice that just one key player can make. This was the season that ended 46-30-6 for the Sharks, and they made it to the Stanley Cup final. If Couture had been out longer, or not returned that season, there is little doubt that the Sharks would not have made it to the final round in the playoffs for the first time. They might not have even made it into the playoffs.
The Vegas Golden Knights have two players at the moment who inspire this kind of emotional response on the ice. One is Marc-Andre Fleury, and the other is James Neal. While Fleury is a vital part of the team, and at this point I don't think the Golden Knights would survive without him either, he is not an offensive player. The other is James Neal. While there is zero chance that he is going to score the 131 goals projected if he continues at the rate he started, 30 to 40 goals is a reasonable expectation. What happens to the Golden Knights if Neal has a 10 or 11 game scoreless streak as Pacioretty did with Montreal in 2015-16? Last Season, with the Predators, Neal had two different seven-game streaks where he did not score, and one eight-game streak where he did not score. The Predators survived and made it into the playoffs, in 16th place, but they made it in. However the Predators also had a number of other players who were scoring on a consistent basis. They had Viktor Arvidson with 31 goals, Fillip Foresburg with 31 goals, and Juuse Saros with 21 goals.
I know the season is still very young, but with one player scoring more than 50 percent of the team's goals, this is a potential problem. We hope that nothing happens to Neal and that he continues to get the 30 to 40 goals that can be reasonably expected of him. However, if Vegas can not get more players scoring more consistently, there will be problems. The Golden Knights are looking at a very long down hill season if Neal starts having long spells where he is not scoring like he did last season. From what we see here, at best, the Golden Knights would win only one in three games where Neal did not score; that is 33 percent, at most. Worst-case they would lose all of those games. Last season, Neal did not score a goal in 50 of the 70 games he played in. That is 71 percent of games played that he did not score a goal. That would mean that if the Vegas team loses every time Neal doesn't get a goal, and he had a comparable season to last year, they would lose 70 percent of their games. Statistically speaking, they would win at least a few of those games where Neal fails to get a goal, but the math here paints a very bleak picture.
So as much credit as I give Neal and Fluery for getting their team to an incredible 3-0-0 opening, I would really like to see more depth in the scoring. I don't expect that they will make the playoffs this first year. Very few if any expansion teams do in their first year. They have had a number of milestone achievements so far, and it would be incredible to see them make the playoffs in this first season too, though like I said I still see that as being unlikely. That said, though, if they want to continue to be competitive, they definitely need more depth on their score sheet.
Monday, October 9, 2017
By Сидик из ПТУ (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 4.0 or GFDL],
via Wikimedia Commons
In the expansion draft, Vegas picked up 13 defensemen and received a few others in trades. As a result, the Vegas roster was very heavy on defensemen going into pre-season. Some were traded or did not make the cut for the final roster. There were too many players who had issues, which meant they could not go down to the minors or were ineligible. Mostly, they were not waiver exempt. Only Shea Thodore and rookie Erik Brannstrom were. This means that the Golden Knights used 10 of their 23 final roster spots on defensive players. Most NHL teams have only seven blue liners on their roster. The Golden Knights, of course, also have two roster slots for goalies, which leaves only 11 slots open for forwards.
Why could a player not be sent to the AHL? There are a few reasons. First, an AHL team must have a minimum of 13 players on their roster that are considered development players. Twelve of these development players have to have played fewer than 260 professional games, this includes AHL, NHL, and elite European league games. This means that of the 20 players that an AHL team can dress for a game, two are goalies and 13 are development players, leaving only five spots for experienced NHL players. Another reason that a player could not be sent to the AHL would be if they had a clause written into their contract that prevents them from being sent down without their consent.
For the Golden Knights, the issue seems to be that level of professional experience prevents many of the defensemen currently on the roster from being sent down to the minors. Of the 10 defensemen on the Golden Knights roster, only John Marrill qualifies as a development player, barely with 243 games played at the professional level. So, why was he kept on the roster, and Shea Theodore sent down to the Chicago Wolves with Shipachyov? The answer is simple: money. They could not afford the cap hit that either Theodore or Shipachyov would have in addition to all the high-cost contracts of the veteran defensemen who they were unable to send down. None of the Golden Knights 10 defensemen are on entry-level contracts. Also, both Theodore and Shipachyov are protected from waivers, so there was not a risk of losing them to another NHL team when trying to move them.
Shipachyov is used to being a big fish in a smaller pond, as the third leading goal scorer and second leading assist maker in the KHL last season. He did not come to the United States to play in the minors. He is not happy being sent down due to financial issues and poor planning on the part of the Golden Knights organization when selecting draft picks. An additional consideration is the coming Olympics. If it comes down to a choice between playing in the United States in the AHL or returning to Russia to play in the KHL and being eligible for the Olympic team, there is very little chance he would stay. Reports have stated that Shipachyov has a timetable where if he is not back playing at the NHL level, he will return to Russia. He has not disclosed what that timetable is as yet.
My guess is that it will have a lot to do with when he would need to be back in Russia by in order to be able to play on their Olympic team. His agent, Peter Svoboda, has apparently stated that Shipachyov does not want to return to the KHL. Yet Russian reports are saying that Shipachyov's representatives have been in contact with the KHL discussing a possible return. At this point, it is all just rumors. It would, however, be a bad blow to the young Golden Knights organization to lose players like Shipachyov or Theodore. Given the skill and experience of both of these players, it might be in the Golden Knights best interest to put a player or two on waivers to make room to bring one or both of them back up to the NHL team.
Sunday, October 8, 2017
Devils vs. Avalanche
The Devils had their season opener at home today against the Avalanche. Going in, the Devils were favored to win. They had home ice advantage, and have had a better record than Colorado in the last few seasons. As such, this game went very much as I expected it to. The Devils opened the scoring early in the first period. Then, they added to their lead with a second goal less than three minutes into the second period. Midway through the second, the Avalanche got on the board, cutting the Devil's lead in half. Unfortunately for Colorado, this was to be their only goal of the game. New Jersey answered with a third goal in the final 30 seconds of the period. The Devils then sealed Colorado's fate with a short-handed goal just over halfway through the final period of play.
- Devils rookie defenseman Will Butcher made three assists, all on power plays, making him the first player in franchise history to score three points in his first NHL game!
- Rookie Jesper Bratt scored a power play goal in his first NHL game!
- Carl Soderberg had the Avalanche's lone goal for the game.
- Cory Schneider made 40 saves on 41 shots in his season opening win for New Jersey!
Canucks vs Oilers
The Canucks also had their season opener at home today. Unlike the Devils vs. Avalanche game, this one did not go quite the way I expected. I thought the Oilers would come out of this contest on top. It was a close game, and the Oilers did find the net first, and quite early at just 1:08 in. After that, however, the remainder of the first and all of the second period were all about the Canucks. Vancouver put up three unanswered goals, following Edmonton's initial score, in the first two periods! The Oilers came back again in the third period to put their second goal in, but just did not have enough in them to overcome the Canucks.
- Oilers goalie Cam Talbot was pulled from the game early in the second, after letting in three goals on just seven shots!
- Connor McDavid was kept off the scoreboard for the first time in 16 regular season games. The last time he failed to find the net in a regular season game was back on March 12, 2017.
- Bo Horvat put up two of Vancouver's three goals!
- Jacon Markstrom blocked 33 of 35 shots against him to help bring home the win in tonight's season opener!
Hurricanes vs Wild
The final opening game in this 2017-18 season was the Carolina Hurricanes! Carolina faced off against the Wild in what turned out to be the closest game of the night. This was a fast-paced back-and-forth game throughout, which was fun to watch. Carolina had five different players find the back of the net tonight, and Minnesota had four different players put up their goals tonight. As you can see, both teams demonstrated great depth. This game was a nail-biter right down to the very end!
- Minnesota didn't mange to tie the game at four until the very final second of regulation when Mikko Koivu found the back of the net. Talk about cutting things close!
- The Wild did well keeping the score close given that they only had 27 shots on goal as opposed to the Hurricanes 42!
- Alex Stalock did a fantastic job of keeping his team in the game, which ultimately went to a shootout. He blocked 37 shots - that is 10 more than the Wild put on goal all night!
- Scott Darling made 23 saves in his first game as a Hurricane, including two shootout saves!
- This is the first season opener that Carolina has won in seven seasons!
News and Highlights from the Other 12 Exciting Matchups
There was a very full hockey schedule this Saturday, as there often is during the regular season, with 15 games played. I do not have the time or the space to do a full write-up on each of them. That being said however, there were some important things that happened in some of those other games tonight as well.
- Alexander Ovechkin made his second hat trick in two games played. He is the first NHL player in 100 years to make back-to-back hat tricks in a seasons first two games! He also has a total of seven goals in just two games played.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins played their best game so far of the season. Matt Murray stopped all 26 shots against him! This was great to see after he missed five of 31 shots on Wednesday, and let six get past him on Thursday's horrifying game against Chicago! It was good to see Murray back to the elite goaltender we have come to expect.
- This was Murray's sixth shutout in a career 62 NHL starts.
- The Kings Captain Anze Kopitar made not one but two goals in the Kings 4-1 victory over the Sharks. Kopitar had only 12 goals all of last season, so putting in two tonight does a lot to restore fans' confidence in the man the Kings just gave an 80 million dollar contract to last year!
- The Kings now have a 2-0-0 record after winning both of their first two games, something that has not happened in 15 years!
- Brandon Saad of the Chicago Blackhawks now has four goals in just two games!
- Flyers ended an eight-game losing streak against the Ducks by beating them 3-2 in overtime!
- The Vegas Golden Knights have won both of their first two regular season games, tonight's in overtime!
- The Golden Knights have only four goals in their first two games, none of them have been made without the help of James Neal. Neal scored their only two goals on Friday, he assisted on Schmidt's goal that sent the game to overtime tonight and scored the game winning over time goal!
- Toronto has put up more goals in two games than almost any other team in the league. They had seven in their season opening win on Wednesday against the Jets, and had an astounding eight tonight against the Rangers to put up their second win of the season, at a final score of 8-5! That puts them tied with Chicago at 15 goals in these first two regular season games.
- The Red Wings and Senators went scoreless until the last three minutes of regulation. In that final three minutes, both managed to score forcing overtime, which then went on to a shootout, which the Red Wings came out of victorious! A very exciting ending for a game that was so very slow to start!
Saturday, October 7, 2017
Blue Jackets vs. Islanders
The energy was high from the start in the Nationwide Arena as the Blue Jackets began their season opener against the Islanders. I expected Columbus would take the win tonight, but I didn't anticipate that they would do so in such a spectacular fashion. The Blue Jackets definitely brought their A game and played strong throughout. Unfortunately the Islanders played a very sloppy game through the first two periods of play. They were missing opportunities and making bad passes which lead to multiple turnovers, giving Columbus even more opportunities to score. This meant that the game was not as exciting to watch as a good fast-paced back-and-forth game, but it was a lot of fun for Blue Jackets fans to see their team perform so well in their first game this season!
- Rookie Sonny Milano opened the scoring for Columbus with his first NHL goal just 1:07 into the first period!
- Rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois, only 19 years old, scored his first NHL goal in his first ever NHL game!
- Other Blue Jackets who scored goals were Cam Atkinson, Ryan Murray, and Zach Werenski.
- Sergei Bobrovski earned his 20th career shutout, setting a new record for the Blue Jackets franchise!
Lightning vs. Panthers
Tonight's season opener was the the interstate battle between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers. This was the highest scoring game of the night, and it was a good one. The game started out a little bit slowly with only one goal in the first period, but it got faster paced quickly as the game progressed through the second and third periods. In the second, there was a combined three goals scored, and in the third, a combined four goals. The overall outcome was not unexpected as the game was played in Tampa Bay, and the Lightning have been a stronger team in the past few seasons. That being said however, it was certainly not a blow-out game. The Panthers battled back in the second from a two-point deficit to tie the game. They continued to fight back in the third to bring the score again within one point before finally giving up the final goal to the Lightning in the last seconds of the game.
- Steven Stamkos earned a point in last night's game, his first regular season game after knee surgery last November, with an assist on the tie-breaking goal in the opening minute of the third period.
- The Lightning line of Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point, and Yanni Gourde were an impressive +5 in the game with combined five points - easily the best of Tampa Bay's line pairings in this game.
- Panther's goals were scored by Connor Brickley, with his second career NHL goal; Mark Pysyk, and Jonathan Huberdeau.
Stars vs. Golden Knights
The final of tonight's three match-ups was in Dallas. The Stars hosted their home opener against the Las Vegas Golden Knights, in their regular season debut. Despite having a few pre-season games under their belt, the Golden Knights are still something of an unknown quantity. Individual players are well known so that information can be used to gauge a little bit of what to expect, but how they play together as a team, and if they have had enough time to come together and build that team spirit that is so vital, was impossible to judge. As such, I had no preconceived notions of how this game would go, so it was a lot of fun for me to watch.
The game started slowly with no score during the first period. That was in a large part due to the outstanding performance of both goaltenders Ben Bishop for Dallas, and Marc Andre Fleury. From the start, this was a very physical game, which lead to a number of penalties and power plays for both teams. Alexander Radulov led the charge for Dallas with Jonathan Marchessault and James Neal returning the favor. The Stars drew first blood with a goal in the final minutes of the second period. Dallas held that lead through the first half of the third period, and it really looked like Dallas would go home with the win. In the final 10 minutes, however, the game changed, and Las Vegas came back with two big goals!
- Tyler Seguin made the game opening goal for the Stars, near the end of the second period.
- Four minutes into the third period, Ben Bishop of the Stars took a puck high on his face mask, which resulted in a cut above his left eye, and he had to be pulled for evaluation and treatment.
- James Neal had both of the Golden Knights first two regular season goals in the final half of the third period
- Ben Bishop block all 19 shots he faced before leaving with an injury early in the third period!
- Kari Lehtonen blocked eight of the 11 shots he faced in the 16 minutes of play he saw tonight.
- Marc Andre Fleury blocked 45 of the 46 shots he faced tonight!
Tonight was all about the goalies. First, we had Sergei Bobrovski with a shutout on his season opening game! Then in the last game of the night we had Marc Andre Fleury leading his team to their first ever regular season win with an astounding 45 saves on 46 shots! This week has been an exciting and emotional week of hockey with some amazing wins, and some devastating losses. Regardless of where your favorite team or teams stand, though, remember it is only the first game or two of a very long season. There are still three teams who have not yet played their opening games. Tomorrow we will have the Hurricanes, Canucks, and Devils season openers. It is great to have hockey back, and I look forward to coming months filled with exciting regular season hockey!
Friday, October 6, 2017
Avalanche vs Rangers
Based on the last few seasons performances I predicted a lopsided game, possibly even a fairly easy win on this one. It did not go at all the way I had imagined. The first half of period 1 was all Avalanche as they scored first at about the five minute mark, and then again at 11 minutes in. The Rangers stepped up their game at that point, putting the next two goals on the board before the end of the 1st period. Things slowed down after that with only one goal scored in each of the next two periods, both by Colorado.
- Matt Duchene and Mikko Rantanen scored the Avalanche's first period goals.
- Mika Zibanejad scored both of the Rangers goals on the power play.
- Tyson Barrie scored Colorado's 2nd period goal braking the tie.
- Gabriel Landeskog made the 4th goal for the Avalanche, an empty netter with just seconds left in the game.
- Semyon Varlamov made 37 saves in his first game back after hip surgery in January.
Coyotes vs Ducks
In this game the outcome was what I expected, but how they got there was not. I expected the Ducks to take the win, it was their home opener and they tend to play well at home. The Ducks are also a team that is favored to make the playoffs from the Pacific Division, where as the Coyotes are not. The Coyotes opened the scoring last night with two goals early in the first period, making the Ducks play from behind. Anaheim did get one goal before the end of the 1st, but in the 2nd Arizona again put up the next two goals. This period the Ducks were able to answer with two goals of their own, but that left them still trailing as the game entered the 3rd period. This period however, was all about the Ducks, they put up two more goals and prevented Arizona from scoring to take the game 5-4.
- Clayton Keller scored his first NHL goal for the Coyotes!
- Lewis Domingue had 36 saves, more than Gibson, despite taking the loss tonight.
- Max Domi and Christian Fischer both scored power play goals in the 2nd which turned the tide of the game in Anaheim's favor for the first time.
- Cory Perry had two goals including the game tying goal in the 3rd.
- Rickard Rakell scored tonight's game winning goal for the Ducks.
- John Gibson had 24 saves in tonight's win.
Flyers vs Kings
Opening night for the Kings was surprising only in it lack of obvious changes from last season. The Kings did not make a large number of roster changes in the off season, and the only surprise player wise was that Alec Martinez was placed on the injured list. The style of play seemed nearly unchanged under new Head Coach John Stevens, though perhaps this is not surprising since they made so few roster changes. It was still a low scoring game relying more on defensive strength than the speed and offensive focus we see from so many NHL teams now. The Kings had only 27 shots on goal, which is low when you look at the 35 to 45 put up by many of the other teams that played tonight. This is a tried and true style of play for the Kings, it won them two cups, and it worked again tonight! However it has not served them well the last few seasons, so we may see some changes there down the line.
- Jonathan Quick made 35 saves in what was his 45th career shutout!
- Michael Neuvirth also had a great game for the Flyers and made some truly spectacular saves. He blocked 25 of the 27 shots he faced.
- Trevor Lewis and Tyler Toffoli made the Kings, and the game's only, two goals tonight
- both the Kings and the Flyers had 5 power play opportunities, neither managed to score on any of them.
- Kopitar's name is still missing from the score sheet, but we heard his name a lot in reference to stopping the Flyers scoring chances. He also had at least three good shots on goal tonight so while he is not on the stats sheet he still played a strong game and contributed well to the Kings win.
There have been many exciting and shocking games so far this week. We have had four hat tricks, several players scoring their 1st NHL goals, and some amazing saves. We have had overtime games, shoot-out games, shutouts, and crushing victories or defeats. There are still six more teams who play their season openers tomorrow, and I can't wait to see what they bring!
Predators vs Bruins
This was the Bruins' home opener and was expected to be a close game. The Bruins' rookies were impressive last night, stepping up to fill in for Patrice Bergeron and David Backes who were both out for last night's game.
- Rookie Jake DeBrusk scored his first NHL goal breaking a 1-1 tie early in the 2nd! He also tallied an assist in last night's game.
- Charlie McAvoy also scored his first NHL goal, in his first regular season game!
- The final few minutes of the 3rd period were game changing
- The Bruins had two men in the penalty box giving the Predators a chance to get back in the game
- the Predators sent Rask to the bench giving them a 6-on-3 allowing for two goals in less than two minutes
- Late game goals for the Predators were scored by Scott Hartnell and Filip Forsberg.
- Montreal had won four straight season openers before last night's game.
- Buffalo had lost five straight season openers before last night's game.
- Carey Price stopped and amazing 43 shots including three shoot-out attempts!
- Jonathan Drouin scored the game winning shoot-out goal and put up an assist on the Canadiens first goal of the night.
- The other two Montreal goals were scored by Max Pacioretty and Phillip Danault.
- Jason Pominville scored both of Buffalo's goals!
- Robin Lehner performed incredibly well in goal for the Sabers, making a number of important saves to keep his team in the game!
- Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin made three goals all in the 3rd period to give him an opening night hat trick!
- Evgeny Kuznetsov had three assists for Washington in last night's game.
- Goalie Braden Holtby made 28 saves to post his first win of the season.
- For the Senators Mark Stone scored two of their four goals.
- Craig Anderssen made 24 saves to keep the Senators in the game.
- This game might have ended very differently if not for the fact that Minnesota had two disallowed goals in the 1st period for goaltender interference: one by Eric Staal, and one by Ryan Suter.
- The Red Wings also managed to kill a 5-on-3 power play early in the 2nd to keep the Wild off the board.
- Red Wings goals were scored by: Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin, Henrik Zetterberg, and Martin Frk.
- Wild goals were scored by Joel Eriksson-Ek, and Chris Stewart.
- Antti Niemi let in three goals in 1 minute 14 seconds at just six minutes into the 1st period. He was pulled from net two minutes later, after letting in a 4th goal.
- Blackhawks had no fewer than five power plays, but did not score a single power play goal.
- Brandon Saad scored a hat trick. He was the 4th player to score an opening game hat trick so far this season.
- The other Chicago goals were scored by Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz (2), Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, Richard Panik, and Brent Seabrook.
- Corey Crawford made 28 saves, letting in only one goal!
- Pittsburgh's only goal was a PPG scored by Phil Kessel early in the 2nd.
- The last time the Penguins gave up 10 goals in a game was back in 1996 against the Sharks.
There have been many exciting and shocking games so far this week. We have had 4 hat tricks, several players scoring their 1st NHL goals, and some amazing saves. We have had over time games, shoot out games, shutouts, and crushing victories or defeats. There are still 6 more teams who play their season openers tomorrow, I can't wait to see what they bring!
Thursday, October 5, 2017
The Hockey season began at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time, Wednesday night with the Maple Leafs vs. Jets game. This was an incredible game for Toronto. Patrick Marleau scored both his first and second goals as a Maple Leaf. Also scoring goals tonight for Toronto were, with one goal each: Nazem Kadri, James VanRiemsdyk, William Nylander, Mitchell Marner, and Austin Matthews. This means that scoring happened on all of the top three lines for the Maple Leafs tonight. This is the kind of depth that they need to show consistently if they hope to make a run into the playoffs again this season. Scoring the Jets two goals tonight were Mark Scheifele, and Mathieu Perrault. Jets goalie Steve Mason was pulled just seconds into the 3rd period when the Maple Leafs were up 4-0. He was replaced by backup goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, but to no avail, Toronto still scored three more goals while he was in net. The Jets finally got onto the scoreboard halfway through the third, but it was too little, too late, and they ultimately fell to the Maple Leafs 7-2.
The banner raising of the 2017 Stanley Cup Championship banner at the PPG Paints Arena opened the 2017-18 season in style. The Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Lewis Blues did not disappoint in their season opener which was a nail biting game that ended in OT, with a score of 5-4 St. Lewis. Mid way through the 3rd we got to see Sid being Sid as he scored his first goal of the season, in typical Crosby style, by jumping over the initial shot picking up the rebound and putting it in the net all in one fluid and seemingly effortless move. This was a fast paced back and forth game throughout. Both teams played hard and it was any one's game to win. At the end of the 3rd the game was tied 4 all sending it to over time. This OT period was short lived though, just 1 minute 15 seconds in, Alex Pietrangelo scored the game winning goal, his 2nd goal of the game. The other goals for the Blues were scored by Paul Stasney, Brayden Schenn, Colton Parayko, each with one goal. In addition to Crosby, Pittsburgh's other three goals were put in by Justin Shultz, Olli Matta, and Connor Sheary.
Next up was our classic rivalry game, known as the battle of Alberta. The Edmonton Oilers took on the Calgary Flames in what was expected to be a charged season opener for both teams. This however was a decidedly one sided game which ended in a 3-0 shut out by Edmonton. All three goals were scored by Oilers captain Connor McDavid. The final goal of the night an empty netter in the last minute of play gave McDavid the first hat trick of the regular season! McDavid’s hat trick was the first opening night hat trick scored by an Oiler in franchise history! This was his 2nd career hat trick, and hopefully we will see several more from him throughout the season. Two of the assists in tonight's game were unsurprisingly from Leon Draisaitl, the other was from Milan Lucic. Edmonton had a mind boggling 45 shots on goal tonight compared to Calgary's 26. Despite the crushing loss, Flames goalie Mike Smith had a good game stopping 43 shots, some in spectacular style. For his efforts he was awarded the 2nd star of the game! The first star, of course, went to Connor McDavid for his three goals, and the third to Cam Talbot for stopping all 26 shots he faced tonight.
- The Maple Leafs, Blues, Oilers, and Flyers all take wins in their season opening games.
- Congratulations to Connor McDavid of the Oilers and Wayne Simmonds of the Flyers for their opening night hat tricks. In both cases these were the first hat tricks scored by a player on opening night in their organizations's history!
- Also Congratulations to Brent Burns of the Sharks for his milestone 500th career assist!
- The Penguins walk away with a loss, but still manage to gain a point by forcing the game into overtime.
- The Jets leave tonight with the most devastating loss to Toronto 2-7.
- Calgary takes the shutout loss in their rivalry game...
And the Sharks lose at home... again. Home teams usually have the advantage, but in recent years this has not been the case for the Sharks. San Jose seems to have a unique curse when it comes to home games, they lose them nearly as often, if not more, than they win them. This curse seems to still be with them this season as well.
All in all it was a great opening night of regular season hockey, and I look forward to watching again tomorrow!
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
First, let me say that I am a little bit sad and shocked right now... my favorite injury-prone player, the one I joke about most often when I think about players who need to be enclosed in bubble wrap, Beau Bennett, was put on waivers by St. Louis today. This is devastating to me for a couple of reasons. First, I really enjoyed watching him when he played in Pittsburgh a few seasons ago (during the stretches when he wasn't injured), but I am also disappointed because I am an even BIGGER fan of his BFF and Bromance buddy, former Penguin and current Blues D-man Robert Bortuzzo. I was all warm and fuzzy inside that they were going to be reunited in Blue Note jerseys this season. But it was apparently not meant to last, even though Beau is, ironically, not currently injured. We will see if any other teams pick up Beau (and his bubble wrap supply), but in the meantime I will sing some Sarah McLachlan and dry my tears with my Bortuuuuzzzzzzzo jersey... *sigh*
Ok, so back to the reason I started this post... Blues and injuries!
The news that Blues winger Robby Fabbri is out for the 2017-2018 with a reinjured left knee (the knee with the ACL that was surgically repaired in February) is the latest in a string of injury losses for the Blues... and it's still the preseason!
Fabbri joins wingers Zach Sanford (shoulder) and Alexander Steen (hand) along with center Patrik Berglund (shoulder) and D-man Jay Bouwmeester (ankle fracture) in the injury ranks.
Sanford is out indefinitely (at least 5-6 months) and Berglund is expected to return in December. The outlook for Steen sounds like he could be back within the next couple weeks, and Bouwmeester's status will be updated in 3 weeks after his ankle is reevaluated.
I'm curious to see how this affects the Blues as they start the season. They are currently 3-3 in preseason play with 2 games remaining. They will open their regular season on October 4th in Pittsburgh (after the Penguins raise their newest Stanley Cup Championship Banner).
But no matter what else happens, I hope the St. Louis training staff got the name of Beau's bubble wrap distributor... it sounds like they might need it! ;)
See you at center ice!
|Joel Ward, 2016. By mark6mauno|
[CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
"[He wasn't] ruling out the possibility that he could become the first NHL player to join the protests sweeping through the NFL by taking a knee during the national anthem at an upcoming Sharks game." (via The Mercury News)
It looks like the players of several NFL franchises, and even some owners, were quick to take the knee, or some other form of protest, but this is not happening in the NHL. I think there are many reasons for this, and it really is a complicated issue, but I want to break it down.
Typically, just prior to puck drop at an NHL game, the anthem, or anthems are sung after each team comes out, and while the starting lines stand on the ice. Depending on who is playing, you might hear The "Star-Spangled Banner," or "Oh, Canada," or both. This is one of my favorite parts of the game. I love hearing the anthems! I get chills just thinking about it, but for me, it's not about tradition. It is a conditioned response. Hearing an anthem means that I get to watch hockey for the next hour and a half.
If I saw an NHL player take a knee, I would not be offended so much as curious, and impressed. Taking a knee on the ice, in skates, might be something that a professional hockey player is perfectly capable of doing, but it's probably not very easy or comfortable. If NHL players ever wanted to protest something, then there might be more practical ways of doing so. To me, it just seems an awkward thing, to kneel on the ice. Fun fact: a big percentage of NHL players are not US citizens. Most of them are Canadians. Many are Swedish, Russian, Czech - you can name at least a dozen other countries. There are vast differences in language, culture, national identity, and politics there. Taking a knee probably does not mean the same thing to everyone, and this idea might even be baffling to some. By contrast, I will venture to say that the NFL is made up of mostly Americans, and perhaps has more unity. Not to mention the fact that the NFL is about 70 percent African-American, whereas there are only around 30 black players in the NHL. So, no the NHL did not run to jump on the bandwagon.
I understand why the NFL players chose this method of protest, and I sympathize with the players for what they are protesting. If you are going to stage a protest, you want as many people as possible to see you. So, they are using a highly visible platform to make a gesture, and they could do a lot worse than just taking a knee. I think that burning jerseys, and etc. is a bit of an overreaction, and it's unfortunate for the sport that some fans are reacting in this way. Whether or not you approve of their methods, I think the NFL players have a right to free speech, and they deserve to be heard.
I know that some people feel that taking a knee during the anthem is disrespectful. I personally can't judge whether it's disrespectful or not. I was raised Catholic, so I spent years doing the kneel, sit, and stand routine in church. To me, taking a knee is reverential. It's a gesture of submission. It doesn't immediately occur to me as being disrespectful. I will stand during the anthem, but it doesn't bother me if other people don't.
|Georges Laraque, 2016|
By Connor Mah (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Once again, I sympathize, but I don't like seeing the Penguins (or any team) being placed in this position. There are no winners here. I don't doubt that the Penguins organization considered this decision very carefully, and they have their reasons for doing so, but there are no winners here. If they decided not to go, they probably would have gotten bashed for that, too.“I know hockey’s more conservative than other sports, but this time it’s just wrong,” he said. “I’m surprised the NHL didn’t make a stand. To me, it’s an embarrassment that they’re going.” (via USA Today)
I don't like seeing politics defile my hockey, but unfortunately, you can't really avoid it. Professional sports leagues tend to be political, whether they want to or not.
Racism is a very real issue in this country, and as long as it exists, we will all be affected by it in one way or another. I think that the NHL has made strides in recent years to be more inclusive, but it still has a way to go.
|Ed Olczyk, former player, head coach|
and color commentator for the
Pittsburgh Penguins, returned to
Pittsburgh to participate in the pregame
ceremony honoring the final regular
season game to be played at
Civic Arena (Mellon Arena).
April 8, 2010. By Michael Miller (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Earlier today it was announced that while Olczyk is out recovering from surgery and treatment for his cancer, Mike Milbury will be filling his role with the NHL on NBC broadcasting team. Milbury spent 12 season in the NHL playing for the Boston Bruins. He is described as having an over aggressive style of play, which made him a good fit for the 1970's and 80's Bruins. In his 12 years on the ice for the NHL he accumulated over 200 minutes of penalty time in 2 different seasons and over 100 penalty minutes in 6 other seasons. He had a career total of 1552 penalty minutes! Milbury also made 49 goals and 189 assists in his time with the NHL. He had the talent and the ability to play in the NHL especially with the more aggressive style of play common during his time there, but there is no question that Milbury was an enforcer. Finesse, subtlety, and people skills were never talents he possessed on the ice, and from the evidence of his post play career he still has not developed any of those skills.
After retirement Milbury was hired as head coach by the Boston Bruins in the 1989-90 season, but despite leading the team to the Stanley Cup Finals and winning the President's Trophy that season he did not return to the Bruins Bench the following year. His next coaching job was for Boston College in March of 1994, he was hired as their new head coach. Milbury never actually coached a single game there however, he quit suddenly in June of the same year stating that there were philosophical differences between himself and Boston College. Then in 1995 he was hired as the head coach of the New York Islanders and withing just a few months also became their General Manager. In 1997 Milbury handed the Islanders head coaching job off to Rick Bowness, but continued to serve as the Islanders GM until 2006. During his 11 seasons as Gm Milbury made 10 coaching changes, including taking the job twice himself, but that never lasted for long. During his tenure with the Islanders Milbury became known as Mad Mike, his lack of charisma and people skills became even more apparent during these years. He never had a head coach last more than 1 season, and he became known for being on the wrong end of blockbuster trades. He traded away such notable players as Zdeno Charra, Darius Kasparaitis, Robert Luongo, Ollie Jokinen, and Todd Bertuzzi. He struck out repeatedly in draft decisions as well, such as choosing Rick DiPietro rather than Dany Heatley or Mariaon Gaborik in 2000. After being fired by the Islanders Milbury stated that he would be open to a hockey operations job with another organization. Such an opportunity was never offered, which is hardly a surprise as he clearly did not have the necessary skill set to succeed in that job.
Milbury then turned to broadcasting in 2007-08 where he became known once again for controversial decisions and statements. Insulting or possibly slandering such notable players as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and P.K. Subban in recent years. In addition to his penchant for inappropriate comments Milbury does not have nearly the experience broadcasting as does Olczyk. In fact, he has been quoted as saying, "I'm a little nervous about it, it's not something I've done a lot of", and "I guess my approach will be to shut up until I have something to say. Being patient and waiting for the right moment will be an interesting challenge." These are not exactly reassuring comments from a man who is supposed to be an analyst and spokesperson for the NHL on NBC broadcasts. This is supposed to be the voice of an expert who is there to inform and educate fans on the current news and events going on in the hockey world. He is also expected to be able to deliver this information in an entertaining and interesting fashion.
These are not talents that Milbury has thus far demonstrated. Hearing the news that Milbury was the indefinite fill-in for Eddie Olczyk has caused many NHL fans to shudder and ask, "what were they thinking?" While Milbury is also a retired NHL player and has experience working on the broadcasting side of the business, he only has eight or 10 games experience being in the booth full time. Also, his reputation and style are nearly a polar opposite of Olczyk. In fact, for quite some time, many avid NHL fans have been asking for Milbury to be fired. He is well-known for taking a very vocal stand on controversial issues in the Hockey world. As such, we have to ask, "isn’t there someone better that NBC could have come up with to fill in?" Almost anyone would be better.
As of right now, this position is only temporary for Milbury. He admits that he does not know how long he will be filling in. Right now, NBC has provided Milbury a schedule that goes through January 1st of 2018. Our thoughts are with Eddie Olczyk and his family and friends as he undergoes treatment for his colon cancer. Since we heard the news in August, most of us in the hockey community have been hoping for a swift and smooth treatment process. The choice of Milbury as replacement have simply made us pray that this process is even faster and that Olczyk will be back in the NBC broadcast booth again very soon!