Between the Pipes – NHL Recap Week 8
O San Jose – As we just pass the quarter mark in the NHL and we look at the standings, who has the best record in the NHL? None other than the San Jose Sharks. Of course the Sharks finished with the top overall record last year and ended up being bounced in the 1st round. Now we still have a good chunk of the season left but if I was this team I don’t think I would want to finish with the best record in the league or even the 2nd or 3rd best. This team has had really high expectations the last few years and this past year was their biggest. They have not gotten past the 2nd round since the 03-04 season and I think the lower they fly on the radar, going into the playoffs, the better. Would I really suggest tanking games in the Shark Tank? Yes I would. Current honors held by the Sharks this season including no losses at home and tied for the most goals scored with Washington (though Washington has played one less game). They also have three players in the top 7 for points (see things I like below). The Heatley acquisition has worked out well for them this year. Question is come playoff time will they advance further? Last year the West was pretty tough but this year it has gotten even tougher. Depending on how the rest of the season goes they could even possibly play Detroit in the 1st round, which you know will not be an easy round. Time will tell how well the Sharks play in the postseason as it’s never easy to predict postseason success, especially when it comes to this team.
No goalie spotlight due to the holidays this week, it’ll be back next week.
Fights of the Week
Jared Boll vs. Aaron Voros
Decent back and forth fight. Watch them nearly trip over the goalpost and Lundqvist bolt out of the way.
Eric Godard vs. Chris Neil
There were some good slugs by both men, fairly entertaining.
Nate Thompson vs. Nathan Smith
Okay fight if you can get past the fugly uniforms, a lot of spinning in this one too.
Trickshot of the Week
David Perron for his neato stickhandle between the legs goal against the Islanders.
Things I like
1. Well up to Monday night’s games three of the top 5 point scorers were on the Sharks. That’s impressive anyway you slice it. The last time we had three teammates in the top 5? The 00-01 season, the Pittsburgh Penguins had Jaromir Jagr 1st with 121 pts. and Alexei Kovalev and Martin Straka tied for 4th with 95 pts.
2. Don’t look now but Nashville has won 6 in a row. What you didn’t notice? Well neither did I, until I looked it up. Despite the winning streak they are only tied for 7th place in the conference. It’s a mighty tough year out west this season.
3. Don’t look now again but the Panthers have strung together a nice winning streak. You probably didn’t notice since they were so far down in the bottom. Alas they are still pretty much down at the bottom despite going 5-0-2.
4. Corey Perry’s 15 game point streak, keep it coming since he is on my fantasy team.
Things I don’t
1. Well I hate to say I told you so but the Rangers have now fallen out of the top 8 spots in the conference, after spending a good portion on top. Of course it’s still really early. But all things considered, I don’t think they have skilled enough players to make the playoffs.
2. Georges Laraque’s hit on Niklas Kronwall, play the puck George not the knee.
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
November 19, 1929 Pittsburgh’s Johnny McKinnon and Toronto’s Hap Day each set a new NHL record for goals in a game by a defenseman. They had four each as Pittsburgh beat Toronto 10-5. The current record of 5 goals is held by Ian Turnbull. Day also had an assist.
November 20, 1999 Washington Capitals set an NHL record by going 12 consecutive games without allowing a power-play goal, in a 3-0 win at Boston. Craig Billington recorded his 100th career victory (and 8th career shutout).
November 20, 1999 Steve Yzerman picked up an assist to become the 7th NHL player to reach 1,500 career points. The milestone came in the Red Wings 2-1 loss at Edmonton. Yzerman joined Gordie Howe as the only NHL players to score 1,500 points with one team.
November 22, 1972 Penguins set an NHL record with five goals in a span of 2:07 during a 10-4 win over the Blues, in Pittsburgh. Scoring were Bryan Hextall, Jean Pronovost, Al McDonough, Ken Schinkel & Ron Schock, on goalie Wayne Stephenson.
November 22, 1967 34-year-old Scotty Bowman was named as the new head coach of the St. Louis Blues, replacing Lynn Patrick, who resigned. It was Bowman’s first head coaching job in the NHL. He lost in his debut behind the bench that same night, 3-1 to Montreal.
November 22, 1986 Wayne Gretzky scored his 39th career hat trick and added two assists, to give him 500 career NHL goals. The milestone came in a 5-2 Oilers’ win over the Canucks in Edmonton. Gretzky’s 500 goals came in just 575 games.
November 22, 1985 Gil Perreault scored three goals (in a span of 4:01 in the third period) as the Sabres beat the Quebec Nordiques 7-5. It was the 18th (and final) hat trick of Perreault’s NHL career.
November 23, 1991 Boston’s Ray Bourque became the fourth defenseman in NHL history to record 700 career assists. #700 came in a 7-4 Bruins win over Buffalo.
November 24, 1926 Detroit Cougars (before being re-named the Red Wings) recorded their first win in franchise history 1-0 over the Black Hawks at Chicago. Frank Frederickson scored the game-winner, while Hap Holmes recorded the first shutout of his rookie season.
November 24, 1989 Mario Lemieux improved his career penalty-shot record to a perfect 5-for-5 when he scored against Bob Mason (and added two assists) in a 7-4 Penguins’ win at Washington.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. San Jose
2. New Jersey
29. NY Rangers
Anaheim Ducks Watch
The Ducks got a much needed win against Tampa Bay on Thursday, of course they never make anything easy. After leading 3-0 the Ducks let the Lightning back into the game as they scored three unanswered goals and forced overtime. The Ducks were able to salvage the win when Scott Neidermayer scored on the power play about a minute into the OT. The Ducks are having a hard time putting together a solid 60 minutes of consistent hockey.
They followed up with a loss to the Sharks 3-2. A tough loss in a very tight game they needed to have. Towards the end of the game they were unable to secure the puck in the Sharks end in order to pull Hiller. They finally got Hiller out of the crease with about 15 seconds left. The power play, which had been struggling, is now clicking. The bad thing is they haven’t played defense that well and they are now struggling to score even strength goals.
The Ducks won the game against the Flames on Monday night, of course they win in true Ducks fashion but giving up a goal in the final 20 seconds of the game to the Flames to force overtime. The Ducks ended up winning in the shootout, when Teemu Selanne had the only shootout goal. It’s nice they got the win but the problem is the Flames also received points. Even if the Ducks keep winning the overtime games, if they play western conference teams that also receive points this will affect their playoff chances and positioning.
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.