Between the Pipes – NHL Recap Week 6
Ovechkin and Malkin Injuries – Well whether or not Alex Ovechkin was kidding and he ends up missing a month or a week, the Capitals are better for this injury. Obviously they are a better team with Ovechkin, but I think this really helps them to grow as a team and gets the other guys to step up more. It seems to be working to, as they haven’t had any problems scoring goals. Of course they did play the Panthers two games in a row. The Capitals have scored the most goals in the league and San Jose is in 2nd place. These two teams should be neck and neck the rest of the year.
On the other hand the Penguins are reeling from the loss of Evgeni Malkin. While the Penguins are a great team, having been to the finals 2 years in a row, they really are a team of Crosby, Malkin and a bunch of role players. The role players play their role very well but when Crosby and Malkin are not playing well the team will suffer. Malkin is out and Crosby is in a points drought. Subsequently they have lost 4 of 6 since Malkin was injured and they have been shutout twice. Here’s hoping Malkin comes back soon for the Penguins sake.
NHL teams losing money – First Phoenix and now Columbus. The Coyotes troubles are well documented and despite the NHL’s best efforts the Coyotes really should really leave Phoenix. However don’t tell that to Commissioner Gary Bettman he doesn’t want to hear it. Now it is being reported that the Columbus Blue Jackets are losing on average 12 million a year.
Phoenix is dead last in attendance this year and has lost about 30 million in some seasons. Of course with team ownership up in the air many fans don’t want to invest money into a team that may not be there. The Coyotes were also near the bottom in attendance last year.
Columbus is 22nd in attendance capacity this year and was 2nd to last two seasons ago. Columbus is the 32nd largest US metro area not the largest by any means and not that smallest either, but only three teams play in front of smaller markets. The Blue Jackets also have to pay 5 million a year to use the arena. So that really doesn’t help their financial situation.
I think the NHL and Bettman really need to think harder before they place teams and try to keep teams in markets. A successful team depends on two things a large market and a large hockey or sports fan market. Phoenix and Atlanta (another money loser) are two top 12 markets, however neither care about hockey. Atlanta in general isn’t much of a sports market. None of their professional team are in the top 50% of attendance and the Atlanta Hawks are usually at the bottom like the Thrashers. Columbus and Carolina are also small markets with skeptical hockey fan bases, though Carolina fares a little better then Columbus, and then there’s Nashville and Florida(Miami).
For the life of me I don’t know why Bettman thought it was a good choice to put teams in some of these locations. I don’t have a problem, unlike most fans, of Bettman moving the teams out of Winnipeg and Hartford. I just question where he decided to move them to and when he decides to keep them there, even when it is a no win situation. For the life of me I can’t comprehend why Seattle and/or Portland, OR does not have a hockey team. Seattle is the 15th largest market and Portland is the 23rd largest. They both have built-in hockey fan bases and Seattle could really create a nice rivalry with Vancouver. They both do fairly well with WHL attendance. I imagine the NHL would do even better.
Antero Niittymaki – Tampa Bay Lightning
So who is Antero Niittymaki? He isn’t a name I have heard much before yet he has currently taken over the number 1 goaltending duties from Mike Smith on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Currently he is near the top of the league leaders in GAA and is in the top spot for SV%. Despite being a relative unknown he is actually quite an accomplished goaltender.
From 1995 to 2002 Antero played in SM-liiga, the top professional league in Finland and one of the top leagues in Europe. He started playing in the non-junior SM-liiga in 1999. In 2000 he won the Jarmo Wasama memorial trophy for rookie of the year and led the team to their 2nd straight title. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1998 but he didn’t actually play for them or their affiliate until 2002. In 2004 while playing for the Philadelphia Phantoms, the Flyers AHL affiliate, he scored an overtime empty net goal. He is the first goalie in North American history to score an overtime goal. While he was there he set eight Phantoms’ franchise records, including most wins and shutouts.
In the 2006 Winter Olympics, while playing for Finland, he was named league MVP whole guiding Finland to a silver medal. Ironically he was only the starter after Kari Lehtonen and Miikka Kiprusoff pulled out due to injury. Unfortunately his Flyers career, 2005 – 2009, was not as stellar as his Phantoms or international career. He tied the Flyers record for most losses in a season in 2007, and he was often battering injuries. After a brief stint as starting goalie he finished his career as a Flyer as a backup. He left as an unrestricted free agent and signed with the Lightning to backup Mike Smith. After Mike Smiths’ struggles Antero was tapped to start. Off to a fast start he should remain the number one goalie for the foreseeable future. On a team with Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, and rising star Steven Stamkos the Lightning hope to make the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Cam Janssen vs. Arron Asham
The 5th time these two have squared off. Asham gets knocked down and the refs go in to break it up but Asham gets back up and they continue. They both go down and they both want to get back up and fight some more but the refs stop it this time.
Tanner Glass vs. Cam Janssen
Long pretty decent fight won by Janssen. He lets you know it too, by raising his arm when the fight is done.
Tim Jackman vs. David Clarkson
Interesting fight had about 5 punches in a row thrown at the exact same time. Jackman got a bloody nose for his troubles.
Things I like
1. Well Toronto picked up their first home win of the season beating lowly Carolina who, coincidently, doesn’t have a road win, yet.
2. San Jose has only lost 1 game in regulation out of their past 10. They also have an 8 game point streak going, which has helped them take the top spot in the conference.
3. Attendance is doing well in a tough economic year. 16 teams are at 97% capacity or higher. Right in line with the 2006-07 and 2008-09 seasons and better than 2007-08.
Things I don’t
1. The St. Louis Blues have really come back to earth lately. After starting out the season with 2 “road” wins against the Red Wings, the Blues now have lost 5 games in a row. On the plus side, the last 3 games were all overtime losses so they were able to pick up points anyway. Though they did bounce back mauling Vancouver 6-1 last night.
2. Carolina now has the distinction of being the worst team in the league. With Cam Ward possibly being injured for a month, it will be a real long season in Raleigh. They truly are this year’s biggest disappointment.
3. The Pittsburgh Penguins have never faired well with west coast road trips, this year appears to be no different. After narrowly escaping the Ducks, the Penguins lost to the Kings and the Sharks ruining their undefeated road record. They also worsened their record in the Shark Tank to 0-7. The win against Anaheim was only the 2nd road win for the Penguins against a California team in the past decade. All of a sudden Pittsburgh’s undefeated road streak has suffered 3 losses in a row.
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
November 05, 1959 Gordie Howe had a goal and an assist to top the 1,000 point mark (including the playoffs) in his 947th career game. It came in an 8-3 loss to the visiting Boston Bruins.
November 05, 1999 Ron Francis picked up an assist to beome the sixth NHL player to score 1,500 NHL points in his NHL career. The milestone came in a 3-2 Hurricanes’ loss at Detroit.
November 05, 1955 Jean Beliveau scored four goals, including 3 during one power play in a span of :44 in the second period. Canadiens won the game, 4-2 over Boston. After the season, the NHL changed the rules to end a minor power play after a goal was scored.
November 05, 1983 Rangers and Nordiques set an NHL record for the fastest two goals at the start of a period by two teams (14 seconds). Andre Savard scored for Quebec at :08 of the 3rd and Pierre Larouche replied for the Rangers at :14. NY tied 4-4 in Quebec City.
November 06, 1995 Rangers Mark Messier scored his 17th career hat trick in the final period to reach the 500 goal mark and added an assist as New York won 4-2 over the Flames, in New York. Messier became the 21st player in the NHL to collect 500 goals.
November 07, 1925 NHL Board of Governors (meeting in Mtl) announced that the league would have a salary limit of $35,000 per team for the 1925-26 season. Expansion teams in Pittsburgh & NY (Rangers) were given exemptions: for 2 years they could spend $45,000 each.
November 09, 2000 Roman Cechmanek became the first goaltender since 1938 to get each of his first two victories as shutouts, in the Flyers 2-0 win against the visiting Edmonton Oilers. He had picked up his first victory (and shutout) five nights earlier.
November 09, 1957 Chicago’s Ted Lindsay scored his 324th career NHL, to tie Nels Stewart as the third highest goal scorer in NHL history, as the Black Hawks won 5-0 over the visiting New York Rangers. Glenn Hall got his 21st career shutout.
November 10, 1963 Detroit’s Gordie Howe became the NHL’s all time leading goal scorer, when he scored #545 to move past Maurice “Rocket” Richard as the Red Wings beat Montreal, 3-0.
November 10, 1934 Canadiens’ Armand Mondou became the first player in NHL history to take a penalty shot. He missed in his attempt against George Hainsworth of Toronto. Three days later Ralph Bowman of St. Louis scored the first penalty shot goal in NHL history.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. San Jose
4. New Jersey
28. St. Louis
The Ducks have now won 2 games in a row coming off their tough loss to the defending champs. They also have collected points in 4 of their last 5 games since their humiliating loss to Toronto. Jonas Hiller recorded his first shutout of the year against Nashville and the offense continued to roll behind two Selanne goals. Hiller followed up that shutout with two more shutout periods entering the 3rd period against Phoenix it looked like he might record two shutouts in a row. The Coyotes had other ideas, however, reeling off 3 unanswered goals. The Ducks were able to hold on for the win. A win is a win no matter how you get it, though I’m sure the Ducks would have liked to have had a better 3rd period.
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.