Between the Pipes – NHL Recap Week 20
This will be the last Between the Pipes until the Olympics are over. Russia is expected to dominate, so naturally they won’t win. That’s how it usually works in team sports, the favorite almost never wins.
Goal Controversy – The Washington Capitals franchise record streak came to an end against the Canadiens. They only lost in overtime but apparently the Capitals thought it should never have gone to overtime, as they had a goal that was disallowed. I don’t really care what the initial call was, if you’re going to plow the opposing team’s players into their own goalie, you’re going to score goals all the time. Of course you can’t do that, nor should you be allowed to. I have no idea what Ovechkin was thinking on that play or why anyone on the Capitals actually thought that goal should have counted.
Minor Trades – A few minor trades happened before the Olympic roster freeze. The best trade was the one the Blackhawks made with the Wild. The Blackhawks received Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy and the Wild received Cam Barker. Advantage goes to the Blackhawks for sure in this deal. Barker has been a disappointment and Blackhawks want to clear space for next season. Johnsson has a higher salary but he is a free agent next year so the Blackhawks will definitely let him walk. They also get a prospect in Leddy, not to shabby. As for the Wild well they better hope Barker’s change of scenery improves his game, especially if Leddy becomes a decent talent.
Marc-Andre Fleury – Pittsburgh Penguins
Marc-Andre Fleury was selected first overall in the 2003 NHL entry draft. His nickname of flower is a derivative, fleuri, of his last name. Fleuri means flower in French. He started his career playing for QMJHL for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in 2000. In 2003 he was named to the All-Star second team and he helped lead Canada to a Silver medal in the World Junior Championship. This was enough success for the Penguins to make him the first pick. Cape Breton later retired Fleury’s number. Fleury was the youngest NHL goaltender in the league in 2003 and he was named rookie of the month. Due to financial difficulties Pittsburgh did not want to pay Fleury his bonus. Since they didn’t want him getting the chance to earn it they let him play in the 2004 World Junior Championship. He led Canada to another Silver medal and then he was sent back to Cape Breton where he tore it up. After that he was sent to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL) where he only played in the playoffs. Since the 04-05 NHL season was canceled, Fleury stayed playing in the AHL.
Fleury got his chance to be the starter in the 05-06 season when Jocelyn Thibault was injured. He ended up beating out Thibault and Sebastien Caron to become the number one goalie. All was not well however, as the Penguins finished last in the conference and allowed a league worst 316 goals. Despite this the Penguins saw his talent and rewarded him with a two year extension. The 06-07 season featured a much improve Penguins team that made the playoffs. Fleury was able to post his first NHL SV% above .900 (.906) and his first GAA below 3.00 (2.83) behind a better team. He became the only other goalie besides Tom Barrasso to win 40 games for the franchise. The Penguins ended up losing to Stanley Cup Finalist Ottawa in the first round in five games.
Fleury sat out most of the 07-08 season with an ankle sprain allowing Ty Conlkin to start much of the year. When he came back from the injury he was 22-4-1 including the playoffs up until the Stanley Cup Final. Fleury’s career moment, up until this time, was probably his 55 save effort in triple overtime that forced a game 6. In game 6 he ended up sitting on the game winning goal and accidentally pushed it in, which was his lowest career point. He signed a seven year deal in the off-season. In the 08-09 season Fleury was able to stay healthy and start a majority of the games. His numbers dipped from the previous season but they were still an improvement over the 06-07 season. He picked up his game in the postseason and was instrumental in most series particularly the opening round series against the Flyers. The Penguins found themselves with a rematch against the Red Wings in the Finals. Fleury made many huge saves including a diving stop in the final seconds of game 7 to help the Penguins win the Stanley Cup.
So far the current season has not been one of Fleury’s strongest, though he did start out the year 8-0. He has yet to record a shutout this season, which would be a first for his NHL career if he doesn’t end up posting one. However, the Penguins are at the top of the standings and fighting the Devils for the division crown. Even if he hasn’t played his best hockey, Penguin fans know Fleury always saves his best for the postseason.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Colton Orr vs. Cam Janssen
These two fought briefly in the 1st period before being thwarted by the refs. They came back with a vengeance in the 2nd. Some decent shots in between the filler.
Nate Thompson vs. Matt Martin
A decent fight between two guys who don’t fight all that much. Martin gets the slight edge.
Aaron Rome vs. James Sheppard
Rome is a pretty good fighter when he can’t see. I’m surprised the refs didn’t break up the fight immediately because of that.
Goat of the Week
Steve Montador – Buffalo Sabres
Montador, a former Duck, loses an edge playing the puck behind the net and coughs it up in overtime. Brandon Sutter had a pretty pass to Sergei Samsonov who puts it behind a not ready Ryan Miller. You have to be more alert Miller even if it was Montador’s fault.
Things I like
1. Earlier in the year we thought we would get two or three teammates in the top 6 scoring at the end of the year. We still might but instead of it being a couple of Sharks it looks like it will be a couple of Capitals. Ovechkin is in 1st and Backstrom is in 3rd. Fellow teammate Semin isn’t too far behind in 12th place.
2. Jonathan Quick is leading the league in wins. I don’t think anyone could see that coming. He tied the Kings franchise record for wins in a season with 35. He should easily shatter that before the season is done. He also gets a trip to Vancouver. It’s unlikely he will play much being the 3rd goalie but he will pick-up some valuable experience. In four years he will probably be the number 2 guy behind Miller.
3. The Kings and Oilers ten round shootout. I’ve written about the shootout here before and I know many fans have their arguments of why they do and don’t like it. But watching a ten rounder is always fun and suspenseful.
4. The top eight players in +/- consists of five Washington Capitals and three Vancouver Canucks. I think that says a lot about top teams and lines in the league.
Things I don’t
1. The Devils are still slumping and Ilya hasn’t been the goal scoring machine the Devils had hoped, with only one goal in six games. He does have four assists though. The Devils struggles can also be attributed to Martin Brodeur struggling as of late. In the month of February his SV% was .871 which is lower than his career and regular season averages. He even got pulled in the regular finale before the Olympics against Carolina. Both Ilya and Brodeur are heading to Vancouver, so much needed rest is not what they will be receiving.
2. Giguere’s good fortune lasted only two games in Toronto. He lost his next two games, after his two game shutout streak, giving up a combined 7 goals. No more games until after the break so he should be able to get in plenty of practice with his favorite goalie coach.
3. No NHL hockey for two weeks. Sure there is Olympic hockey but it’s not the same.
Stat Line of the Week
02/14/10 Anaheim 7 vs. Edmonton 3
Getzlaf returned from his ankle injury and was the main catalyst for the Ducks big victory of the Oilers. Scoring two powerplay goals he helped reverse the trend of the Ducks struggling with their powerplay on the road. He also sent a strong message to Steve Yzerman of Team Canada to keep him on the Olympic squad.
Did You Know?
In honor of the Canadian women’s Olympic hockey team drubbing Slovakia 18-0, I give you the most lopsided NHL game. In 1944 the Detroit Red Wings beat the NY Rangers 15-0. Syd Howe would record a hat trick in the final six minutes of the game. The Rangers only won six games that season and will go down in history as one of the worst teams ever.
2.08 – GAA of Tuukka Rask the current league leader and currently a back-up goalie
43 – Alex Ovechkin’s +/- the current league leader
163 – PIM for Cam Janssen, number two in the league currently
0 – Points scored by Cam Janssen so far this season
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
February 11, 1988 Toronto’s Borje Salming became just the fifth defenseman in NHL history to get 600 career assists. The milestone came in a 4-3 Maple Leafs win over the visiting New York Islanders.
February 12, 1929 Montreal Canadiens’ goalie George Hainsworth recorded his 15th shutout of the season (and the 42nd of his career) in a 2-0 against over the Pirates at Pittsburgh.
February 13, 2002 Dominik Hasek recorded his 60th career shutout, and Scotty Bowman became just the 2nd coach to win 400 games with Detroit, in the Red Wings 2-0 win over the Wild at Minnesota.
February 14, 1994 Wayne Gretzky picked up two assists to record a 100-point season for the 14th time in his career (extending his NHL record) as the Kings lost 3-2 to the Bruins at the Forum.
February 15, 1989 Chicago’s Jeremy Roenick tied a club record for rookies, with four points (a goal and three assists) as the Blackhawks won 7-4 over the visiting Washington Capitals.
February 16, 1980 Boston’s Jean Ratelle picked an assist to give him 1,220 career points, passing Jean Beliveau and moving up to No. 7 on the NHL’s all-time scoring list. Bruins won 5-3 over the Rockies, at Colorado.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. Los Angeles
29. NY Islanders
Anaheim Ducks Watch
The Ducks got the win at home against the Oilers in a much closer than it should have been game 3-2. This was the 11th straight win for the Ducks at home, a franchise record. Bobby Ryan had two goals and Marchant had the game winner.
If a goal is scored and no one notices does it still count? The answer is yes, as Toronto noticed that Tory Bodie tipped in Scott Niedermayer’s shot. The refs counted the goal and rewound the clock. Of course it didn’t really matter as the Flames basically dominated the rest of the game and scored three goals, led by Jerome Iginila, after that. Real nice of the Ducks to show up to a hugely important playoff type game.
The Ducks then played the Oilers again, this time at Edmonton. The Ducks erupted for seven goals in the 7-3 win. The powerplay was clicking scoring four goals. Ryan Getzlaf made his return to the lineup with authority, scoring two goals and two assists. The Ducks made a statement in this game and it’s a good thing, since they won’t be playing again for awhile. I’d like to think the Ducks have a good chance to make the playoffs. The problem is there are seven teams within seven points of each other, all vying for the last two playoff spots. Or five teams within four points. Even if the Ducks get hot, there is no guarantee two other teams won’t.
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.