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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Las Vegas Football up in the Air..

WelcomeToVegasNite
One of the main financial backers has withdrawn support for the National Football League's Oakland Raiders to relocate to Las Vegas. Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson announced last night that he and his family were withdrawing their pledge to invest $650 million in the nearly $2 billion project that will include a new stadium for the Raiders. Adelson's announcement indicated he was withdrawing because he had been shut out of discussions about the project. Different articles indicate that other investors may be in the queue to fill in the money Adelson would have provided. NFL owners will vote on the move within the next few months and 24 of the 32 owners need to be on board to approve the move. Let's see where the chips will fall!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Dumpster Fire in Tampa Bay

Gbs sign
By Scp333 (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
With all that water on the shores of Tampa Bay, they can’t put out this dumpster fire any time soon. It’s not often that you see a team go from the Eastern Conference Finals to last place. Usually you see their superstar go to greener pa$tures or out to pasture. A talented team that had a long run with a core of players and it’s just time to get a new core. But with Stamkos out 4 months with a bad knee, one could see how they have started to circle the drain. But this is a team that lost him late last season to thoracic outlet syndrome (basically the outlet for the nerves from the neck gets impeded). He is a large cog in their machine, but they made it through 2 rounds of the playoffs and forced a game 7 in the finals.

So we can take Stamkos out of the equation of why they are in last. A good team can lose that level of player and still function. Might not be in the top of the league, but shouldn’t be in last place. Steve Yzerman did not skimp on the free agent market either. He was able to get Drouin to rescind his trade request, signed Stamkos to 8 years, Hedman to 8 years, Killorn to 7 and Vasilevskiy to 3. It’s not like he had the constraints of Bob Nutting’s wallet going into the off-season. Seeing those signings and keeping a great player as well, one would think the team would be fine.

So what does that leave… Ownership is spending money, GM making good choices. A solid team even without a star… Coaching? This is a team that made the Stanley Cup finals in 2015 and lost the Conference finals this past year in a 7th game to a red hot Pittsburgh team. So it’s not his lack of coaching experience or knowledge. For one reason or another it seems head coaches in the NHL have a shelf life shorter than a college relationship. Even Scotty Bowman and Mike Babcock wore out their welcomes after a while. Dan Bylsma came in and opened up the offense of Pittsburgh in the 08/09 season and led them to a cup. Then it was obvious a few years later he lost the room. Hockey players are fickle when it comes to coaches. A relationship that works for a few years will just stop working. The players might just get board of the same style of play or the same message over and over. I think it’s time for a coaching change in Tampa. A fresh start for both the coach and the players is what is needed.

Waiting until the end of the year might be a good call, give a long tendered coach a chance to turn it around. If he doesn’t; they need to be picky on who they hire. They have a core and quality management; I would expect this team to be a bottom feeder much past this season.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Beau Bennett on IR... again...

Beau Bennett 2013-02-17 1
By Michael Miller (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
Beau Bennett seriously needs to consider investing in some bubble wrap. The New Jersey Devils forward was placed on IR yesterday retroactive to 1/20/2017 when he sustained a lower-body injury in a game against the Montréal Canadiens. This is his second time on IR this season, the first being from late November through early December with a leg injury.

Out of a total of 353 possible regular season games in his NHL career (294 with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2012 through 2016 and 49 this season with the Devils), he has played in a total of only 169 of them (129 for the Pens and 40 for the Devils).

He seems to keep a positive outlook about being able to play in the NHL despite his injury issues, but I wonder what the magic factor would be to keep him healthy and on the roster? Maybe this bubble wrap suit would help!

I'll be watching for updates, but for now I want a wish Beau a speedy recovery and encourage him to stay safe!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Battle of Alberta Part 4

The Battle of Alberta has taken an unexpected turn. The Oilers have swept the season in their four games against the Flames. They have really turned up the heat to intensify their rivalry with Calgary. This is in large part due to Oilers Captain Connor McDavid, who leads the NHL in scoring with 56 points in 49 games played with 16 goals and 40 assists.

The Oilers started things off in their new Rogers Place arena with a decisive 7-4 win against the Flames on October 12th. In the first period, Patrick Maroon, Tyler Pitlick and Zack Kassian scored for the Oilers. Alex Chiasson scored the only first period goal for the Flames. Connor McDavid took a hit from Deryk Engelland (Flames), which prompted Milan Lucic (Oilers) to go after Engelland. In the second period, Troy Brouwer and Michael Frolik both scored shorthanded goals for the Flames. McDavid scored two more goals, one of them on a penalty shot. Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi scored his first NHL goal in the third period. Dennis Wideman of the Flames answered with a goal of his own. Jordan Eberle scored an empty net goal to seal the deal for the Oilers with a 7-4 win.


For their second game this season, the Oilers beat the Flames 5-3 at Calgary’s home arena, the Scotiabank Saddledome on October 14th. Sean Monahan of the Flames scored the first goal, followed by a breakaway by McDavid. Frolik then scored another for the Flames. Eberle scored a power play shot for the Oilers in the second period. Leon Draisaitl scored the first Oilers goal of the third period. Mark Letestu scored another for the oilers on a shorthanded breakaway shot. Jyrki Jokipakka scored the last point of the game for the Flames. Draisaitl scored again with an empty net goal that finished the game with a 5-3 win for the Oilers. There were lots of penalties by both sides and even some scuffles.

The third game took place at Rogers Place on January 14th.  This game was closer than the first two, with the Oilers winning 2-1. Maroon scored the first goal of the game well into the second period, putting the Oilers up by one. Monahan scored one for the Flames 26 seconds later. Not a single goal was made during the third period or overtime. The Oilers registered six shots in overtime, while the Flames recorded none. The game wasn’t decided until Draisaitl and Letestu won the shootout for the Oilers.

Their last game together was a 7-3 Oilers win in Calgary on January 21st. Anton Slepyshev, Letestu and Eberle scored three times for the Oilers in the first six minutes of the game. Lucic and Engelland went at it again with their second fight this season. McDavid, Eberle, and Oscar Klefbom scored for the Oilers in the second period and Matthew Tkachuk scored for the Flames. Klefbom scored another for an Oilers power play goal. During the third period, Monahan and Lance Bouma scored for the Flames only to be answered with an empty net goal by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Oilers. Goaltender Laurent Brossoit made 38 saves for the Oilers for his first NHL win.




Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Can Patrick Marleau Make Goal # 500 Tonight

Marleau08
Ivanmakarov at en.wikipedia
[CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)],
from Wikimedia Commons
As of right now Patrick Marleau has a career 1060 points and 497 goals.  All of them earned as a Shark!  Last night as many of you already know Marleau earned one milestone achievement, he became only the 12th player in NHL history to make 4 goals in a single period of play.  Those 4 goals last night brought him within reach of another achievement, the possibility of scoring his 500th career goal.  If he is able to achieve this he will become the 45 player in the NHL to reach 500 goals.  If last nights game against the Avalanche were the only Sharks game you have seen all season you might think that it would be no problem for Marleau to put another 3 goals away tonight.  However if you look back at his performance through out this season as well as the last several years, it paints a different picture.  Last night's achievement of a hat trick with all 3 goals scored in 7 minutes 46 seconds, was Marleau's first hat trick since 2011!  He has scored 16 goals in the past 48 games including the 4 from last night.  The question of weather he can score all 3 goals needed to make it to 500 tonight is a valid one though.  It is certainly possible, he proved that last night, but to do it two nights in a row, we may be asking too much.  On the other hand with him so close to making 500 will his line mates look to get him the puck a little more often, if possible, to help him along.... that is a definite possibility.

Tonight's game is against the Jets, and both teams are playing in back to back games which means they both may be a little tired.  The Sharks have a good record with winning back to back games this season, especially when they are already on a 5 game winning streak. They have gone 5-0 in the 3rd game the last 5 times they have played 3 games in 4 nights.  So the past performance indicates that the Sharks should have good game tonight with plenty of possibilities for Marleau to shoot the puck. The Jets have not done so well in the later games of game of back to backs this season.  They have only 21 wins in the last 52 games played with 0 nights rest between games.  So if the Jets defense is just a little tired or not quite as sharp as they would be if they were playing their first game in a stretch, Marleau may have a slight advantage in shooting opportunities, which would increase his odds of putting the puck in the back of the net 3 more times tonight.  That being said however, his goal scoring record season to date does not make this outcome look likely, he is averaging only 1 goal for every 3 games played, and that average was greatly increased by last nights 4 goal game.

So the odds are not in favor of Marleau making it to goal # 500 tonight.  I do believe that we will see Marleau score # 500 this season, maybe even within the next month, but I doubt he will make it all the way there in just one more game.  Even so, Marleau has been known in past seasons to be a very consistent scorer, so there is a real possibility that he could surprise us with a hat trick in two consecutive games.  While I would not place money on it, I would love to be wrong and see Marleau surprise us by hitting the 500 goal milestone tonight!  The game between the Jets and Sharks starts in just under an hour at 8 p.m. Eastern time, so I will be watching to see what happens.

Patrick Marleau Reminds Us Why He is a Powerful Force for the San Jose Sharks

PattyMarleau12
By uploader (uploader) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Tonight's game in Colorado between the Avalanche and the Sharks started out rather routine. Brent Burns opened the scoring for the game in the first period. This is notable in that it was Burns' 20th goal this season, which keeps him firmly in place as the highest scoring defenseman in the league this season! Midway through the 2nd Jerome Iginla scored the only point by either team in the period to tie the game at 1. Then in the 3rd Patrick Marleau emerged as the real star of tonight's game. In under 8 minutes Marleau scores 3 times. Andreas Martinsen scored the 2nd and final point for Colorado shortly following Marleau's 3rd goal of the final period of play. The Patrick Marleau show continued on from there, if his hat trick were not enough reason to remind us why Marleau has been a key player for the Sharks for the past 18 years, he went on to score his 4th goal of the night and the game winning goal with less than 4 minutes left in the game.  Marleau is the first player, since Mario Lemieux in 1997, to score 4 goals in one period and only the 12th player in NHL history to accomplish this feat!

The final score tonight was 5-2. In this game Marleau with 4 goals, and Burns with 1 goal and 2 assists, led the Sharks to their 5th straight victory and helped to keep them in second place in the Pacific Division just 1 point behind the Ducks.

As Marleau's contract is up this year and he will be UFA as of July 1st there has been much speculation about whether we are reaching the end of the Marleau Era for the San Jose Sharks. His current contract has him earning an average of 6.66 million annually which is about 300 thousand a year less than his previous contract. On paper, Marleau's performance has indeed been declining over the past several years. His career high in points came in 2005-06 with 86 points and 34 goals, since then he has had only 5 years with 70 or more points by the end of the season. Last season he had only 48 points with 25 goals even going all the way through post season to the final round of the playoffs.  Before tonight Marleau had only 12 goals and 20 points at the half way point of this season which would have projected him to have one of his worst seasons ever.

If that lack of offensive production continued throughout the season, I believe it to be very likely that he would not be resigned. While tonight's game does not guarantee his future with the Sharks when it comes time to renew his contract, it reminds the team and all of us why we should not write him off.  If, and it is still a big if, Marleau can continue to contribute more steadily to the Sharks scoring efforts in the second half of the season he may be able to secure another year or two in teal if he so chooses. Given that he has played his entire professional hockey career with the Sharks, it follows that he may want to retire in a Sharks uniform as well.

I have long been a fan of Patrick Marleau and hope that he will have at least one more season in teal, but only time will tell.  I will leave you with this final thought... after tonight's 4 goal game Marleau sits at 497 career goals, this means that if he can score 3 more this season he may well become only the 45th player in NHL history to reach the 500 goal benchmark.... Just a little food for thought before you dismiss the idea of Marleau remaining a Shark after July 1st.
   

Friday, January 20, 2017

Epic Anthems at Hockey Games

Remember when this happened?

Well, not to be outdone, the Russians have their own version:


What was your favorite anthem from a hockey game? Feel free to post in the comments!

The Battle of Alberta Part 3

The rivalry calmed down in the 1990’s, as both franchises faced financial hardships due to being among the smallest markets in the league. Many feared the demise of nearly all Canadian teams. Both the Quebec Nordiques and the Winnipeg Jets were relocated in American cities in 1995 and 1996, respectively.

It wasn’t until well over a decade later that the Oilers or Flames exhibited anything near the intensity they had in the 80’s and early 90’s. In 2004, the Flames made it to the Stanley Cup Finals but were defeated in seven games by the Tampa Bay Lightning. In 2006 (there was no Stanley Cup game in 2005 due to the lockout), the Oilers made it to the Finals only to fall to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games. They have not returned to the playoffs since. Up until 2009, the Flames made the playoffs every year, but then went five seasons without an appearance until their return in 2015.

This season, the rivalry is picking up right where it left off. On Saturday, January 14th, the Oilers defeated the Flames 2-1 thanks to shootout goals from Leon Draisaitl and Mark Letestu. This put the Oilers (23-15-7) four points ahead of the Flames (23-20-3) in the Pacific Division. With the win, the Oilers are now second in the division. The Flames are in fourth place and are the first wild card for the playoffs from the Western Conference.

"The fans were louder tonight than they've been in a long time, so that always helps," Oilers captain Connor McDavid said of Saturday’s game. "And there was little bit of nastiness but at the end of the day, there wasn't a whole lot of that going on either way." McDavid can be credited for much of the Oilers recent success. He is currently leading the league in scoring with 50 points with 45 games, 14 goals and 36 assists. In October 2016, he was named Captain of the Oilers, making him the youngest Captain in NHL history. He has also been named Captain of the Pacific Division for the All-Star Game later this month.

Connor McDavid 07042015
By Connor Mah (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, January 19, 2017

#TBT: The Avery Rule

The reason that there is an "Avery Rule" - I present to you exhibit A:

And that was not the only time. These guys have a history.


Hence, there is now a rule. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hockey is for Everyone, Punjabi Edition

You might remember our excitement last season when we discovered Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition...I love to see diversity and representation in the sport, and there are many great stories to be told.

Let's start with Jujhar Khaira's first NHL goal. Khaira, a left wing for the Edmonton Oilers, grew up within the Sikh community in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, and is the third Indo-Canadian to play in the NHL. He got his moment in the spotlight last Monday when he scored the game winner for his team against the Coyotes in Rogers Place.

The response from the InterWebs has been full of win.





IIHF Hall of Fame 2017 Inductees Announced

This year's crop of International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Hall of Fame inductees include five former players: Saku Koivu (Finland), Uwe Krupp (Germany), Angela Ruggiero (USA), Joe Sakic (Canada), and Teemu Selanne (Finland), and one builder: Dieter Kalt (Austria). They also selected Tony Hand to receive the Richard “Bibi” Torriani Award, and Patrick Francheterre to receive the Paul Loicq Award.

When I saw this news, I was excited because, lo and behold, an American woman is being inducted into the hall of fame! That got me wondering how many other women have been so honored. Actually, there are quite a number of women from several countries, including the USA, that have been inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame since its beginning in 1997.

4 Angela Ruggiero2
By Sara Melikian (originally posted to Flickr as #4 Angela Ruggiero2) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Angela Ruggiero was a defensemen on the US women's national ice hockey team, and won medals in four successive Winter Olympics games, and 10 Women's World Championships. She retired from playing in 2011, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame* in 2015.

*Note: Hockey Hall of Fame is different than IIHF Hall of Fame. As you can imagine, there is a bit of overlap between these two Halls of Fames, and some would argue that one is "better" than the other... Anyhoo...Ruggiero was the fourth female player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and she completes the set with this year's nod from the IIHF.


The Battle of Alberta Part 2

The Oilers came to the NHL during the merge in 1979. In 1980, the Atlanta Flames moved to Calgary. This is when the real rivalry started, as the battle to be the top team in Alberta began. The Flames finished with 39 wins and 92 points, making it to the Stanley Cup semifinals in their first season in the NHL. The next year, Wayne Gretzky began to break NHL records and the Oilers climbed to the top of the Smythe Division (the forerunner of the NHL’s Northwest and Pacific Divisions).
Wayne Gretzky statue 6
By 117Avenue (Own work)
[CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons

During the mid to late 1980’s, the rivalry escalated as the Oilers and Flames became the best two teams in the Campbell Conference (now known as the Western Conference). For eight consecutive years, from 1983 to 1990, one of the two teams represented their conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 and 1990. The Flames won in 1989.

In 1983, 1984, 1988 and 1991, the Oilers conquered the Flames in the playoffs, winning two of their five Stanley Cups. In game seven of the 1986 playoffs, the Oilers rookie defensemen Steve Smith unwittingly scored on his own goal (credited to Perry Berezan of the Flames). This mishap only further intensified the rivalry between the two teams. The Flames were favored to win the playoffs in 1988, after winning the Presidents’ Trophy. However, the Oilers defeated the odds to win the series and then went on to win the Cup. The last time that the teams met for the playoffs was 1991. Esa Tikkanen scored the winning goal in overtime.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Penguins vs Capitols Rivalry Leads to an Exciting Match Up Tonight!

The Penguins and Capitols are a well-known rivalry in the NHL. Both teams are constantly in the top three spots in the Metropolitan division, and it is always anyone's guess who will come out on top at the end of the game.  So far this season the Penguins won their first match up on October 13th with a 3-2 score.  Then the Capitols came back with a vengeance to demolish the Penguins 7-1 on November 16th. The third meeting of these two teams took place last Wednesday January 11th where the Penguins earned a decisive 5-2 victory. Tonight was their final match up of the regular season for 2016-17 and it was an exciting one!  This was one of the highest scoring games of the season with a combined 15 goals by the end of the night!  Six different Capitols players, and five different Penguins players scored tonight.

The Capitols scored two unanswered points in the first period as well as the first goal in the second giving them a three point lead early on. In the second period however the Penguins came back strong scoring an astonishing 6 points! Three of those six points were scored by Evgeni Malkin giving him his 11th career hat trick. The Capitols also put away three goals during the second period for a shocking combined 9 goals total scored in a single period of hockey! The Penguins were ahead 6-5 at the end of the second period.

The game remained exciting throughout the third period. First, the Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored his 27th goal of the season, earning his 50th point so far this season, bringing the Penguins to a 7-5 lead. Things were looking hopeful for a regulation win for Pittsburgh, however about half way through the period T.J. Oshie scored a power play goal to bring the Capitols back within 1 point. Four minutes later Lars Eller scored the last regulation goal of the game bringing the score to 7-7. Then just 34 seconds into overtime Conor Sheary scored the game winning goal giving the Penguins their 3rd win of the 4 contests against the Capitols this season at an amazing 8-7! This win for the Penguins snapped the Capitols 9 game winning streak. Other notable achievements for the Penguins tonight were Ian Cole playing in his 300th NHL game and Justin Schultz got his 100th career assist!

The players who scored the 7 goals for the Capitols tonight were: Burakovsky (1), Backstrom (1), Williams (1), Connolly (1), Eller (2), and Oshie (1).  For the Penguins their 8 goals were scored by: Malkin (3), Sheary (2), Bonino (1), Rust (1), and Crosby (1). The rivalry may not end here for the season, the Penguins and Capitols could very possibly meet up again in the post season.

The Battle of Alberta Part 1

In March of 1895, a team from Calgary (comprised mostly from the Calgary Fire Brigade’s hockey club) traveled to Edmonton where they played against both the Edmonton Thistles as well as a Mounted Police team from Fort Saskatchewan. This was the first known game between any Calgary and Edmonton teams.

The Western Canada Hockey League was founded in 1921. Calgary and Edmonton both received teams, the Calgary Tigers and the Edmonton Eskimos. In 1923, the Eskimos won the WCHL title, but then lost the Stanley Cup to their rival, the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League. In 1924, Calgary made an appearance in the Stanley Cup championship but lost to the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL.

1924 Calgary Tigers
Players of the Calgary Tigers hockey club in Montreal, Quebec for the 1924 Stanley Cup Finals.
The WCHL collapsed in 1927 and Alberta fans then turned to junior hockey. It wasn’t until the World Hockey Association arrived in 1972 that pro hockey returned to Alberta. Both cities received teams, but the Calgary Broncos closed up shop before ever playing a game. That left the new Edmonton Oilers without an intra-provincial rival until a new WHA team, the Calgary Cowboys, was formed in 1975. However, they didn’t last long. The Cowboys folded in 1977. The WHA didn’t last long either. It merged with the NHL in 1979.

Kings Still Clinging to a Wild Card Spot Mid-Way Through the Season and Peter Budaj is a Big Part of the Reason Why

ERI 5093 (5487366231)
Peter Budaj, St. Louis Blues vs. Colorado Avalanche - 2010–11 NHL season. 
Many of us, myself included, thought the Kings were unlikely to make post season after both Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff suffered groin injuries in the first weeks of the 2016-17 season. There have been several players on the Kings team that have stepped up their game to keep the Kings in playoff contention, but no one more surprising then their now lead goaltender Peter Budaj. Right now at the mid-way point in the season the Kings are clinging to the second wild card slot for the western conference.

Peter Budaj is a name that was virtually unknown to a lot of fans at the beginning of the season when he was called up from the Ontario Reign to back up Jeff Zatkoff. In reality Budaj has been around in the NHL for a surprising 12 seasons. His first NHL game was back in the 2005-06 season where he played for the Colorado Avalanche. Budaj's 100th NHL game was back in November of 2007 still with the Avalanche. His first playoff game came during the playoffs that same season in 2008 when he filled in for Jose Theodore in Colorado's 2nd round match up with the Detroit Red Wings.

The following 2008-09 season Budaj was the lead goaltender for Colorado, unfortunately that was a disastrous season for them and in 2009-10 he was back to being the back-up netminder this time to Craig Anderson. On April 1st 2011 Budaj became the 1st Slovakian goaltender in the NHL to make 100 wins!  That July he was picked up by the Montreal Canadians where he stayed until 2014.  In October of 2014 however he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Eric Tangradi. The Jets immediately sent Budaj to the St. John's Ice Caps, their AHL affiliate. There, he sank into further obscurity failing to win a single game in 19 attempts that 2014-15 season.

This is how Budaj came to the Kings organization. On August 28th 2015 he signed a try-out contract to attend the Los Angeles Kings training camp, and in October, he signed a one-year two-way contract with the Kings. He was almost immediately waived to the Reign, but this time, Budaj started to play impressively well and earned the starting goaltender spot with the Reign in the 2015-16 season. That season, he led the Reign to claim the Pacific Division title, led the league in the most statistical categories, and won the Baz Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL's best goaltender. As a result, his contract was renewed and he remained the starting goalie for the Reign until he was called up to the Kings following Quick's injury at the start of this season.

Even though Budaj certainly had plenty of NHL experience prior to the start of this season it is still surprising how well he has managed to handle the starting goalie responsibility that was so suddenly thrust upon him in October. The Kings over time win against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday marked Budaj's 20th win of the season! So far season to date Budaj has gone 20-11-3 in 37 games played.  His goals against average is 2.09 and he has a .917 save percentage, he also has 4 shootout wins this season. These stats actually give him an equal save percentage and a better goals against average than Martin Jones, and a better goals against average than Mike Smith with only a .001 worse save percentage.  Jones and Smith were recently selected to represent the Pacific Division as the goalies for the NHL All-Star Team. Clearly Budaj has proven that he deserves to play starting goalie in the NHL as his stats are equivalent to the best goalies in his division this season!  We look forward to Jonathan Quick being able to return to the ice, but Budaj has done the Kings proud and I look forward to seeing him continue to shine for Los Angeles through out the second half of the season, and with any luck into the playoffs as well.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Contenders for the Hart Memorial Trophy


From rookies to veterans, here are our top picks for the Hart Memorial Trophy:

Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs): It’s no surprise that Matthews would be considered for the trophy, considering the four goals he scored in his NHL debut game. He was drafted first overall this season. He has been selected to play in this year’s All-Star Game for the Atlantic Division. He’s played 40 games this season with 21 goals, 15 assists and 36 points.

Patrik Laine (Winnipeg Jets): Laine was off to an amazing start for his rookie season with 42 games, 21 goals, 16 assists and 37 points. He was the second overall draft pick this season. Unfortunately, his chances of being awarded the trophy may be affected by the concussion he suffered on January 7th in a game against the Buffalo Sabres. He is still out on injured reserve with no timetable for his return. His appearance in the All-Star Game with the Central Division is also in jeopardy.

Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings): Carter seems like a natural choice for the Hart Trophy. He’s won the Calder Cup, the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup, and an Olympic Gold Medal in 2014. He’s also just been selected for his second appearance at the All-Star Game with the Pacific Division. He’s played 42 games with 22 goals, 17 assists and 39 points this season.

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins, Captain): If I had to put money on a player to win the trophy, I’d bet on Crosby. He’s leading the league in goals with 26 this season in 36 games played with 20 assists and 46 points. He’s won numerous awards, including the Stanley Cup in 2009 and 2016, the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2010 and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2016. He will be returning to the All-Star Game this year as Captain of the Metropolitan Division.

Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers, Captain): He’s leading the league in scoring with 50 points this season with 44 games, 14 goals and 36 assists, though he recently had a streak of 10 games with no goals scored. He was the first round overall draft pick in 2015. He won a gold medal playing for Canada in the 2016 World Hockey Championship. On October 5, 2016, he was named Captain of the Oilers, making him the youngest Captain in NHL history. He’s also been named Captain of the Pacific Division for the All-Star Game this year.

Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins): He is tied for second place in scoring with 46 points this season with 42 games, 18 goals and 28 assists. He has been selected for the All-Star Game for the seventh time (he withdrew twice due to injuries). He won the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2012. He has also won the Stanley Cup in 2009 and 2016 as well as the Art Ross Trophy in 2009 and 2012, the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2007 and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2009.


Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks): Last but not least, Patrick Kane with three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013 and 2015). He won the Hart Memorial Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award all in 2016, as well as the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2013 and the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2008. He’s been selected again for the Central Division of the All-Star Game this year. He’s played 45 games this season with 12 goals, 33 assists and 45 points.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

NHL broke the ice in Vegas... here comes the NFL?

So yes, this is a hockey blog, but this writer loves her football as much as her hockey, so here is some interesting news involving the city that is soon to be home to the NHL's newest franchise...

According to Fox Sports, the National Football League's Oakland Raiders are filing for approval to move to Las Vegas! It sounds like there are a couple of different investors ready to shell out the cash to fund a stadium in Las Vegas if a move is approved. They have shared a stadium for years with the Oakland Athletics (of Major League Baseball) and want to be able to call a football only facility their home, but so far this has not come to fruition in Oakland.

Oakland's owners will need at least 24 of the 32 current NFL franchise owners to vote to approve the move, but the vote probably won't happen sooner than the next owners meeting in a couple months.

It is interesting to note that this franchise has already made 2 moves in its 57-year history, from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982, and then back to Oakland in 1995. There had been recent talk of moving to L.A. for a second time, but the San Diego Chargers announced earlier this week that their franchise plans to relocate to L.A., so Las Vegas is now the top Raiders destination.

As a sports fan, I am having some mixed feelings about this news... It is exciting to think that Las Vegas could quickly become the home to a second professional sports franchise to give tourists yet another reason to book a trip to Sin City and support the local economy.

I also understand that the Raiders organization wants a better physical setting for its players and fans, and a new stadium is at the top of their priority list to accomplish that. They would not be the first franchise in any sport who packed their bags and hit the road to make that happen and it's difficult to say they should stay put when the standard in many other cities has been to build sparkling new facilities for their professional sports teams.

But I keep thinking of the loyal Raiders fans who have already endured two moves of their beloved team along with keeping the faith through countless mediocre seasons (the Raiders made it to the playoffs last year for the first time since 2002). If the deal is approved, the Raiders would still play in Oakland until facilities in Las Vegas are complete, but will the fans stick with them knowing they are leaving?

No matter what happens, it will be interesting to see how this plays out, both in Oakland and in Las Vegas!

The History of the Hart Memorial Trophy

The Hart Memorial Trophy
Once a year, the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association holds a vote to determine which player was the most valuable to his team during the regular season. That player is awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy. The trophy, originally known as just the Hart Trophy, was donated to the NHL in 1923 by David Hart. He was the father of Cecil Hart, former Coach and General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens.

In 1960, the original trophy was retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame. A new trophy took its place, known as the Hart Memorial Trophy. 

Frank Nighbor with the
original Hart Trophy
Aside from Tommy Anderson, Al Rollins and José Theodore, every player that has won the trophy has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. It has been awarded 90 times to 54 different players since first being bestowed upon Frank Nighbor of the Ottawa Senators at the conclusion of the 1923-24 season. 

The voting takes place at the end of the regular season. Each voter from the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association ranks their top five candidates on a 10-7-5-3-1 points system. Three finalists are named and the trophy is then awarded during the NHL Awards Ceremony after the playoffs.


This voting is not based on just player statistics. Each voter chooses their top five candidates in their opinion using his/her own judgement. Some liken this to a popularity contest. Regardless of one’s opinion of the selection process, the Hart Memorial Trophy is truly an honor to those players awarded it. The recipients of the past ten seasons are as follows:

This happened: Lightning retires their first jersey #26


It was a beautiful ceremony last night, as St. Louis made an emotional tribute to his mother who passed in 2014. Tortorella, Steven Stamkos, GM Steve Yzerman, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman also gave speeches honoring the former right winger for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Besides leading his team to a Stanley Cup win in 2004, he has some impressive career stats, awards, and honors.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Lowdown on the NHL All-Star Game Metropolitan Division

The rosters for the NHL All-Star Game were announced on Tuesday. The Metropolitan Division will be well represented with eleven of the league’s most talented players. The team will consist of six forwards, three defensemen, two goalies and a coach. The Captain of each division was chosen by fan voting. The remainder of the roster was selected by the NHL. Each of the league’s thirty teams is required to send at least one player to the All-Star Game.

Coach

John Tortorella (Columbus Blue Jackets): He has led the Blue Jackets in 40 games this season with 28 wins, 8 losses and 60 points. He won a Stanley Cup in 2004 and also received the Jack Adams award for coach of the year in 2004.

Forwards

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) (Captain): Captain of the Penguins, 35 games played this season with 26 goals, 19 assists and 45 points. He won the Stanley Cup in 2009 and 2016 as well as countless other awards. He was voted by fans to Captain the All-Star Metro Division.

Taylor Hall (New Jersey Devils): 32 games played this season with 9 goals, 16 assists and 25 points. He played at the 2016 World Championships, helping Canada to successfully defend their gold medal.

Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins): 41 games played this season with 17 goals, 28 assists and 45 points. He won the Stanley Cup in 2009 and 2016. This is his seventh time being selected to the All-Star Game, following only Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals): Captain of the Capitals, 41 games played this season with 21 goals, 14 assists and 35 points. He has led the NHL in goal scoring and won the Rocket Richard Trophy six times in his career.

Wayne Simmonds (Philadelphia Flyers): 43 games played this season with 17 goals, 15 assists and 32 points. He's recorded 3 Gordie Howe hat tricks in his career. He is popular among our female writers due to this incident

John Tavares (New York Islanders): Captain of the Islanders, 39 games played this season with 11 goals, 16 assists and 27 points. He played in the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Championships, the 2010 and 2011 IIHF World Championships and the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Defensemen

Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes): 34 games played this season with 7 goals, 10 assists and 17 points. This will be his second appearance in the All-Star Game. His first was in 2015. He played in the 2010 and 2011 World Junior Championships as well as the 2012, 2013 and 2014 World Championships.

Seth Jones (Columbus Blue Jackets): 34 games played this season with 7 goals, 11 assists and 18 points. He played in the 2010 Under-17 Four Nations Cup, the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, the 2011 and 2012 IIHF World Under-18 Championships and the 2013 World Junior Championship.

Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers): Captain of the Rangers, 41 games played this season with 2 goals, 23 assists and 25 points. This will be his second time playing in the All-Star Game. He led the Rangers to win the Presidents' Trophy in 2015.

Goaltenders

Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets): 34 games played this season with 26 wins, 6 loses and a save percentage of .931. He won the Vezina Trophy for Best Goaltender in 2013. He played in the 2007 Super Series, the 2008 World Junior Championship, the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2014 and 2015 IIHF World Championships.

Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals): 33 games played this season with 20 wins, 8 losses and a save percentage of .932. He won the Vezina Trophy for Best Goaltender in 2016. He played in both the All-Star Game and the World Cup of Hockey in 2016.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Central Division Snub Story...

Since the NHL All-Star Game rosters were released earlier this week, there has been plenty of grumbling about deserving players who were passed over for others with less impressive stats but apparently more star power. I, for one, think Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin got the short end of the proverbial stick when he was passed over by the ASG selection committee this week.

Panarin's 41 points this season ranks second to Patrick Kane in Chicago and is 6th overall in the NHL. He is also the Hawks' second leading goalscorer with 17, just one goal behind Artemi Anisimov. Captain Jonathan Toews has been quoted as saying he thought that Panarin, Anisimov, and Marian Hossa were each more deserving of the selection than he was because their stats are higher than his so far this season. Apparently the selection committee used some other standard.

In my opinion, this is a downside to the smaller squads needed for the 3-on-3 format as well as the unclear rubric being used by the NHL to fill the teams. Outstanding performance on the ice apparently isn't the most important criteria to determine who the "all-stars" are, and this is one case where that is definitely a disappointment.

Phil Kessel snub, or why wasn't my favorite player selected for the NHL All-Star game, AGAIN?

By Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Since the rosters were announced, there's been a lot of buzz about who was snubbed from the NHL All-Star game. Not only was Phil Kessel snubbed from all-star selection, he was also snubbed from most of the "notable snubs" lists (well okay he is mentioned here and here). Phil Kessel is one of the top-10 scorers in the league right now, and why isn't he going to the all-stars? Perhaps no one notices as he stands in the shadow of Crosby and Malkin, but Kessel changed everything for the Penguins last season, and see what happened there?

So why? WHY the snub? Again? Here's how the NHL All-Star selection process works. The captains of each team, one from each division, are selected by a fan vote. The coaches for each team, one from each division, are selected based on which team has the highest points percentage. Seems reasonable.

The other 40 players are selected by the NHL. And there I rest my case. Toronto is still holding a grudge, and maybe they'll never let it go, but I hope for Phil's (and anyone else's on their grudge list) sake that they eventually get over it. After all, don't you want to see him in the skills competition again?