Between the Pipes – NHL Recap Week 5
Injuries – When you think of injuries Football is probably the sport with the most serious injuries. You tend to notice when a player gets injured, especially a QB, and most of the injuries are season-enders. It is a physical game. Baseball generally doesn’t have too many injuries; it is more of a finesse game. Basketball not as many either but when they do happen they are more impactful because there are less guys playing on a team then in any other sport. Hockey is the second most physical sport, after football, yet I don’t normally think of to many injuries. Those that do happen generally last for only a few games. One of the more serious injuries, I remember, from last year was when Teemu Selanne was lacerated with his own skate and was out about 6 weeks.
This year though hockey players seem to be dropping like flies. Over 100 players are currently injured in some capacity. There are some big names too. Ilya Kovalchuk, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Eric Staal, Marc Savard, Marian Hossa (though he was injured before the season started), Mike Modano, Johan Franzen, Sheldon Souray, David Booth, Andrei Markov, Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias, Evgeni Malkin, Roberto Luongo, Daniel Sedin. A more complete list by team can be found here. As you can see these are some big names that are valuable to their team. The biggest to go down, besides Malkin, is Alex Ovechkin. Of course no one will say how severe it is but you have to hope it isn’t for long. (It seems like he might be ready to go this weekend.) Not only will about a million people’s fantasy teams be screwed but because he is one of the NHL’s most talented and marketable stars, it’s a blow to the league as well. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery to all those injured players.
Ryan Miller – Buffalo Sabres
Ryan Miller is an American born hockey player from East Lansing, Michigan. Miller was drafted in the 5th Round, 138th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1999 NHL Draft. Collegically he played for the Michigan State Spartans where he set an NCAA records for career shutouts with 26. He was the winner of the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top NCAA hockey player, in 2001 when he led the country in wins, winning percentage, save percentage (an NCAA record .950 mark), goals-against average and shutouts (an NCAA record 10).
After a stellar college career, Miller split time between AHL affiliate Rochester Americans and the Sabres from 2002 until 2006. It wasn’t until the 06-07 season that Miller was called up permanently to be the Sabres starting goalie. Miller started playing for the Sabres 2 seasons after Dominik Hasek, arguably one of the top Sabres goalies of all time, had left them. Hasek also retired for the first time in Miller’s first season of being called up.
Since be named the number starter in 2006 Miller has put up decent numbers. Last year he finally blossomed into one of the NHL’s top goalies. He posted his career best numbers in GAA, SV%, and shutouts. The Sabres narrowly missed the playoffs last year, though that can be contributed to Miller being injured for a stretch. This year he is off to another fast start in the top 3 for GAA and SV% and the Sabres playoff chances once again rest on his shoulders.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Slim pickings in good fights this week, so these fights are nominated for other reasons.
Marek Zidlicky vs. Sidney Crosby
Sidney got in a fight, I’m sure you all wanted to see it. It’s funny how desperate the refs were in trying to stop the fight before it started and then after it did.
James Wisniewski vs. Keith Yandle
Wisniewski cleans Doan’s clock with a vicious and dirty hit, Yandle comes over to avenge Doan. The hit is better then the fight. Wisniewski was suspended two games for the hit.
James Wisniewski vs. Shane Doan
Here is Doan avenging himself. Fight was pretty even and nothing special. At least Doan did a better job avenging himself then Yandle did.
Goat or Trick Shot of the Week
I couldn’t find anything worth mentioning this week.
Things I like
1. Steve Stamkos is really coming into his own in his 2nd year. High expectations for last years number 1 overall pick; Stamkos is currently leading his team in points and leading all forwards on the team in Plus Minus. He also has a six game goal scoring streak going, tops in the NHL this season.
2. I honestly feel that this will be the most wide open NHL race in quite some time. Now it wouldn’t surprise me if the Penguins end up in the Finals again, and it’s probably likely, but who else makes the playoffs and how far they go should be quite interesting. I know we are in for some surprises and I’m pretty sure that the most of the bottom spots 6-8 will come down to the last week of the season.
3. Colorado is a perfect 4-0 at home, on the road not so much but they are a respectable 6-3-2. They have however lost 2 games in a row, so it will be interesting how they play in their next game. Now 3 losses in row isn’t the end of the world but for a team that wasn’t expected to do anything, you hate to see them start on a downward spiral.
Things I don’t
1. Toronto may have a win, but they still don’t have a win at home. At least Phil Kessel is back, maybe that will help. The epic Toronto vs. Carolina game is this Friday Nov. 6th, be there.
2. Steve Mason is not following up his rookie of the year award with stellar play. He is currently in the bottom 5 of GAA and SV% yikes. Columbus still has a somewhat decent record, despite this. They are however the only team above .500 that has allowed more goals then they have scored.
3. The sale of the Phoenix Coyotes to the NHL. Not enough room to get into it here, but I don’t think this was the right move.
This Week in Hockey History
October 29, 1949 Harry Lumley became the first goaltender to record 20 shutouts as a member of the Red Wings as Detroit won 1-0 win over the Canadiens at Montreal. The winning goal was scored by rookie winger Steve Black.
October 29, 2003 Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux became the 6th player in NHL history to reach 1,700 career points (and the second-fastest, after Gretzky) with an assist in a 4-4 tie against the visiting New York Islanders.
October 30, 1943 Montreal’s Bill Durnan signed his first NHL contract and made his NHL debut in a 2-2 tie against the Bruins, in the Habs’ season opener in Montreal. It was the start of an NHL-record 14 game unbeaten streak (12-0-2) for the rookie goalie.
October 30, 1971 Fred Glover became the 1st man in NHL history to coach 2 NHL teams in one season, when he was named coach of the L.A. Kings just 12 days after being fired by the Oakland Seals. He lost in his Kings’ debut, 5-1 to the visiting Chicago Black Hawks.
October 30, 1943 Toronto Maple Leafs Gus Bodnar set an NHL record for fastest goal by a rookie in his first game, by scoring just 15 seconds into his NHL debut. He later added another goal and an assist as the Leafs beat the Rangers 5-2 at Maple Leaf Gardens.
October 30, 1998 Pittsburgh Penguins set an NHL record by scoring their 9th and 10th consecutive power play goals in a 2-2 tie against Vancouver. They broke the record of 8 straight power play goals scored by Buffalo in 1991-92.
November 01, 1945 Gordie Howe (at age 16) signed his first professional hockey contract, with the Omaha Knights of the United States Hockey League.
November 01, 1924 Boston Bruins became the first U.S. team to join the NHL when they (and the Montreal Maroons) officially received their NHL franchises.
November 03, 1987 Marcel Dionne became just the second player in NHL history to score 1,700 career NHL points, when he scored a goal for the New York Rangers in a 5-3 loss at Calgary.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
3. San Jose
27. St. Louis
The Ducks snapped their 4 game losing streak with a sound thumping of the Canucks 7-2. After falling behind 0-2 the Ducks reeled off 7 unanswered goals. Proving that they are better then they have played and that they still have a potent offense. Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan each contributed 2 goals. The Ducks followed up with a tough shutout loss to the Coyotes in Phoenix. Even though they lost they were still able to pick up a point. My Stanley Cup Finals prediction was Pittsburgh vs. Anaheim and if that happens, there’s a chance, it won’t disappoint judging by their regular season encounter Tuesday. A very entertaining match up that was well played by both sides. Anaheim didn’t get any points but the still walked out a winner in my book, only losing by a goal. Corey Perry is on a tear recently and had another 2 goals. Overall their level of play has improved tremendously.
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.