Between the Pipes – Week 4 NHL Recap
Southern California Hockey Teams – Living in the greater Los Angeles area I am able to watch basically every Kings and Ducks game on TV if I choose. I generally watch most of them. After watching the Kings cream the Blue Jackets 6-2 it made think about a few things. This is the first time that the Los Angeles Kings have had a decent team in the post Wayne Gretzky era. It’s only been about 13 years since he left. True they did make the playoffs a few times, including three times in a row, after he left but they didn’t have much success. I also never thought the time would come, any time soon, that the Kings would have a better team then the Ducks. But that time is apparently now. The Ducks lost to the Wild, Stars and the Blue Jackets only to have the Kings play them the next day or two after and beat them. In the case of the Stars they beat them two days before they played the Ducks and then the day after they played the Ducks.
This is quite strange to me. Let’s look at each team briefly.
Goaltending – The Ducks have Giguere, though in decline he still plays admirably, and Hiller, not as hot as last year but still decent. The Kings have John Quick who is in his 2nd full time season and had an okay year last year. His numbers this year are decent but nothing spectacular. One would think advantage Ducks.
Defense – Though the Ducks lost Pronger they still have Niedermayer, Whitney and Wisniewski. The Kings have Doughty, in his 2nd year, O’ Donnell, a journeyman, Johnson and Scuderi rounding out the top 4. They lost Kyle Quincy to the Avalanche. I would think once again advantage Ducks.
Offense – Ducks have Perry, Getzlaf, Ryan, Selanne, Koivu, and Lupul. Hard to argue with that bunch, it would take to long to list their accomplishments. The Kings counter with Kopitar, who is amazing, Brown, Williams, Smyth, Stoll and Frolov. Most of these guys are a few years into playing or journeyman. Most of them are really developing fast. This category I would only give a slight edge to the Ducks.
But as you can see, what looks good on paper and what actually performs well are two different things.
Yes the Ducks also gave the Maple Leafs their first win of the season in a 6-3 lost. However the game wasn’t like the score would have you believe. This was honestly one of the worst officiated games I have ever seen. Not including fighting and game misconducts the Ducks committed 15 penalties. That’s right 15. The Maple Leafs had 8 not including fighting and game misconducts. Now that’s kind of a big disparity. The Maple Leafs scored 5 of their 6 goals on the powerplay including two 5 on 3. I didn’t see the whole game but I saw most of it. I can tell you that at least 3 penalties called on the Ducks were not penalties. The Maple Leafs scored on all those penalties. I really don’t like it when refs decide games especially when they aren’t viewing the play from the right angle to make the correct call. I wish the NHL had coach’s challenges like the NFL has, or at least instant replays for penalties, not just goals.
On a side note I’d like to point out that the Ducks put together a thank you video montage of every former player who comes to town for a visit. I’m not just talking about the key past players, I’m talking about everybody. A very classy move I think by the organization.
Ilya Bryzgalov – Phoenix Coyotes
I figured this week we would take a look at one of the hottest goalies in the league.
Ilya Bryzgalov was born in Togliatti, Russia, one of many fine NHL players to come from Russia. He has a decorated international career that includes a silver medal at the 2000 World Junior Championships, a bronze medal with Russia at the 2002 Winter Olympics, and a gold medal in the 2009 Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships. You might say he scored the hat trick of medals.
Bryzgalov was drafted by the then Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2000 and had success with them. Though mostly used as a backup to Jean-Sebastien Giguere he did start some playoff games towards the end of his tenure with the Ducks. He tied the playoff record for most consecutive shutouts by a rookie with 3. He was also a part of the Ducks cup winning team in 2007. Though he didn’t play in any of the Stanley Cup Finals he did start, and won, in previous rounds. After the Ducks failed to trade Bryzgalov he was picked up on waivers by the Coyotes. His numbers the past two seasons as the Coyotes starter weren’t anything spectacular but they were in line with his career numbers.
Off to a fast start this year, he is near of the top of the NHL in GGA, SV%, and he currently leads the league in shutouts with 2. Not bad considering the most shutouts he has ever had in a season has been 3. Whether or not his numbers stay at that level will be dependent on how well the Coyotes play around him. A perennial loser, recently, the Coyotes are off to one of their best starts ever. Time will tell how well Bryzgalov and the Coyotes will finish.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Colton Orr vs. George Parros
Best part of the fight is when Orr shoves the referee down to the ice. He got a game misconduct for that. Honestly the refs deserved it after their performance.
Steve MacIntyre vs. Brian McGrattan
Nice long fight with a lot of good punches, edge to McGrattan and his fists though.
Tim Conboy vs. John Scott
Talk about a mismatch, though it’s not as much of height disadvantage as it seems. I’ve seen worse discrepancies. A lot of wrestling in this fight.
Brad May vs. Tanner Glass
Good fight between two heavyweights in a good close game.
Goat/Trick Shot of the Week
Jeff Schultz and Ondrej Pavelec
Back to back weeks of the Goat/Trick shot of the week combined. Jeff Schultz, Capitals, was just the clearing the puck down the ice and just got a few lucky bounces. Ondrej Pavelec, Thrashers, just misplayed it with his glove.
Things I like
1. We have a Dustin Penner sighting. Penner, who helped the Ducks win the cup in 2007, is also off to his best season ever. Near the top of the league in Goals and Points, Penner has adjusted his game to a more aggressive style under new coach Pat Quinn and it’s paying off.
2. Relatively unknown Matt Carle is off to a great start. Playing for his third team and his 2nd go around with the Flyers, Carle is tops in scoring for defenseman. He also has a stellar +7.
3. I mentioned Anze Kopitar a few weeks ago but he deserves mention again for his phenomenal play. The scoring race should go down to the wire between him and Ovechkin (I guess Gaborik too). Sorry Malkin and Crosby.
Things I don’t
1. Chris Osgood is not having a very good year. It’s tough to blame all of Detriot’s woes on Osgood since they defiantly have other issues. Last year Osgood didn’t have a great year either but he rebounded come playoff time when it mattered most. He might not get a chance to rebound in the playoffs this year though.
2. The Carolina Hurricanes are not following their surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals with a strong start. Eric Staal has really struggled this year. If the Hurricanes hope to have any success this year, he will need to get back on track.
3. The officiating in some of the games, rivals the NFL officiating on their worst days. I really feel bad officiating in football and hockey games can really turn games more so then in basketball or baseball.
This Week in Hockey History
New Feature starting this week, I will pull a few of the interesting events in hockey history from the week. I hope you like history!
October 26, 1990 Wayne Gretzky became the first player in NHL history to hit the 2,000 point milestone, with an assist as the Kings lost 6-2 to the Jets at Winnipeg. He upped his career stats to 684 goals, 1,316 assists, for 2,000 points in 857 NHL games.
October 26, 1984 Detroit Red Wings scored three empty net goals at the end of a 7-3 win over Buffalo, at Joe Louis Arena. Danny Gare scored two goals and two assists to lead the Red Wings’ scoring.
October 26, 1996 Buffalo’s Dominik Hasek picked up his 100th career NHL victory in a 6-3 win over the visiting Hartford Whalers. Hasek became the first European-trained goaltender to win 100 games.
October 26, 1969 Philadelphia Flyers tied St. Louis 0-0 at the Spectrum, with Bernie Parent and Jacques Plante earning the shutouts. It was the 69th career shutout for Blues’ Plante and 7th of Parent’s career.
October 25, 1988 Toronto Maple Leafs scored four goals on just four shots in the second period of a 4-3 win over the NY Islanders. In the game the Leafs were outshot 34-18. Ed Olczyk led the scoring with two goals.
October 24, 1991 Paul Coffey scored his 310th career goal, to tie Denis Potvin as the highest goal scoring defenseman in NHL history, in a 4-2 Penguins’ loss to the Devils, in Pittsburgh.
October 23, 1982 Boston’s Normand Leveille suffered a career-ending cerebral hemorrhage during the first intermission at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum. Bruins lost 3-2 to the Canucks.
October 22, 1957 Chicago rookie Bobby Hull scored his first career NHL goal in a 2-1 win over the visiting Boston Bruins.
October 22, 2002 Patrick Roy played in his 971st game, to tie Terry Sawchuk’s NHL record for career appearances by a goalie, as Colorado tied 3-3 against the visiting Edmonton Oilers.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
4. Los Angeles
27. New York Islanders
The Ducks are in a bit of a funk. After spotting the Stars a 3-0 lead the Ducks finally got 2 goals to make it a game, including Getzlaf’s first of the year. But it was too little to late as the Ducks couldn’t muster any more goals and the Stars added an empty netter. They followed it up with a tough loss to the Blue Jackets, and I do mean tough. The offense finally started to click and they played well overall but they lost another game by 2 goals including the empty netter. Though the Ducks got one fluky goal the Blue Jackets scored two fluky goals, and if that wasn’t bad enough Giguere re-injured his groin muscle and will probably need some extended time off. I’m not going to discuss the Maple Leafs game in this section as I pretty much already covered it in the top section. They started off real slow last year and then reeled off like 15 games in a row with a point, so I’m not that worried.
Author: Alex Mueller
Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.