Between the Pipes – NHL Recap Week 21
Post Olympic Thoughts – Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller had amazing runs as Olympic goalies for their respective countries.
I hate that Marc-Andre Fluery and Jonathon Quick won medals even though they did absolutely nothing. Same can be said for Tim Thomas but at least he stepped onto the ice, even if it was in garbage time.
Russia was hugely disappointing but then again they did lose to a talented Canadian team in the tournament. BTW I did mention how Russia wouldn’t win because they were the favorites in my last column.
I feel bad for the USA in some respects as they went in to the goal medal game undefeated. But it is hard to beat any team twice in a tournament like this especially twice on the road, hats off to their accomplishments.
As for NHL thoughts, seriously watch out for Colorado and Chicago, though the Blackhawks do have that goalie problem. Both will be really tough outs come playoff time. San Jose is all smoke and mirrors they will find a way to bounce early again. Not sure what to make of the Los Angeles Kings yet. They have a lot of talent, but they have almost no playoff experience on the roster. Also one night they look like world beaters, the next night they don’t show up. I’m iffy about Vancouver still. The beasts of the East are Pittsburgh and Washington. Washington has the same problem as Chicago though, goaltending. New Jersey has all the talent necessary but they haven’t been able to pull it all together, they may be running out of time.
Brian Elliott – Ottawa Senators
One of the surprises this year has been the Ottawa Senators. Nobody expected them to do much of anything this year especially after they traded Dany Heatley. But here they are fighting Buffalo for the division crown. Consistency in net has not been Ottawa’s strong point over the years. Ray Emery had started the majority of the games in the 06-07 season, only to make way for Martin Gerber the next year, who gave way to Alex Auld next and finally this year it seems to be Brian Elliott.
Elliott was drafted in the 9th round by Ottawa in the 2003 draft as the 291st pick overall, or the next to last pick of the draft. Because of his extremely low drafting, not much was expected of him. He ended up playing for the University of Wisconsin-Madison after being drafted for four years. The first two years he was not the starter. In the 05-06 season Elliott became the starter and took full advantage of his opportunity. He was a finalist of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, awarded to the men’s top collegiate hockey player, posting a 1.55GAA and eight shutouts. He also led the Badgers to the NCAA National Championship that year. After his stellar collegiate career, Elliott was signed by the Binghamton Senators of the AHL and played the end of their 06-07 season.
He was invited to the Ottawa Senators training camp but was reassigned to Binghamton. He was recalled by the Senators for one game only, which he won against the Thrashers. He played the whole season at Binghamton and the following 08-09 season. That would be his last season at Binghamton and he went out with a bang like in college. He was named AHL goalie of the month for December and he started in the AHL All-Star game. He finished up the 08-09 season in Ottawa starting 30 games. This season he has split time with Pascal Leclaire. However, Elliott has started more games than Leclaire and has posted better numbers. He also had a nine game undefeated streak in January and February.
Looking to make a playoff run, the Senators hope that Elliott continues to improve his game. They also hope that Elliott is the answer to their goalie of the future problem. At just 24 years old, Elliott could bring much needed stability to an always changing position for the Senators.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Erik Johnson vs. Jamie Benn
Johnson was holding his own until Benn just decks him.
Jared Boll vs. Brad Staubitz
Starts off slow but a pretty decent fight, Staubitz had the better punches.
Goats of the Week
Jonathon Quick – Los Angeles Kings
Silver medal winning Quick goes out to play a puck behind the boards and well I have no idea what he was trying to do. He weakly stops it with his badly positioned stick then it takes a funny bounce and J.P. Dumont scores an easy goal as the puck bounced to him.
Michael Ryder – Boston Bruins
In the final minute of overtime Ryder tries to get back on defense and slides to block the pass which he does, unfortunately he keeps sliding and takes out Tim Thomas leading to a wide open net and giving the Maple Leafs an easy win.
Things I like
1. Ryan Miller’s huge ovation in Pittsburgh, even bigger than Sidney Crosby’s. It’s nice when fans acknowledge accomplishments even when it wasn’t from someone on their team or in this case since it was for Team USA it kind of was.
2. The Phoenix Coyotes will to live and surprise everyone. Despite no one coming to games and not having an owner, the Coyotes will continue their quest for the cup. For the first time in forever the Coyotes were buyers at the trade deadline. They made seven deals at the deadline including picking up Wojtek Wolski for Peter Mueller (no relation) and Kevin Porter.
3. Speaking of Peter Mueller, he has so far flourished in his new home in Colorado, picking up four points in three games thus far. Sometimes a change of scenery does a player good and I definitely thought that would be the case in this situation. Colorado has an abundance of young talent, including top tier talent at the center position. Mueller makes for a better fit in Colorado than in Phoenix where he will also get more time to develop. So far he has flourished picking up 6 points in 4 games for the Avs.
4. The Florida Panther’s David Booth making his comeback with a Gordie Howe hat trick. Booth took on the man who knocked him out Mike Richards in a fight that was, well not much of a fight. Kudos to Booth for wanting a measure of revenge, as long as he has now moved on from it.
5. Sean Avery, of all people, mocking Maxine Talbot’s retaliation fighting. Was quite funny, if you haven’t seen it yet, and it even made Talbot laugh.
Things I don’t
1. After riding the pine during his Gold medal win Marc-Andre Fleury is what you might call rusty. He was supposed to start against the Sabres but showed up late to practice, hard to imagine, so his punishment was not starting. He did start the next game against the Rangers and gave up 4 goals on 12 shots, yikes. It will take awhile for Fleury to get back into the groove.
2. The Ducks losing their first 4 games back in true Ducks fashion. You can read about it in the last section if you like.
3. Marc Savard’s concussion by Matt Cooke’s elbow. Hits to the head are never good and while you’d like to ban them, accidents will still happen. The NHL should look into better helmets like the NFL is doing.
Stat Line of the Week
03/06/10 Colorado 7 vs. St. Louis 3
Former 1st round pick in the 2006 draft, Chris Stewart is having a break out year. The game against St. Louis could be considered his break out game as he notched his first career hat trick. His final goal came on a penalty shot that he was awarded when Erik Johnson tripped him. He also added a helper on T.J. Galiardi’s goal. Watch out for this young and deep Avalanche team.
Did You Know?
The latest a Stanley Cup Finals has gone is till June 24th in 1995. Of course that was the owners’ lockout year that cut the season short. The latest for a non-lockout threatened season would be June 19th in 1999 and again in 2006. I for one, hope it never gets any later, as Hockey in July is quite absurd. June is already bad enough as it is.
1786 – Shots by the Avalanche last in the league
2211 – Shots by the Blackhawks first in the league
10.7 – Shooting percentage by the Avalanche, tied for 2nd in the league
7.5 – Shooting percentage of the Bruins, last in the league
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
March 04, 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Ron Francis, Grant Jennings and Ulf Samuelsson from the Hartford Whalers in trade for John Cullen, Jeff Parker and Zarley Zalapski.
March 05, 1953 Gordie Howe scored twice and added three assists to lead the Red Wings to a 7-1 win against the Rangers, at the Olympia. With the five points Howe broke his own NHL record for most points for a single season (86).
March 06, 1993 Playing in his final NHL game, Jets’ veteran defenseman Randy Carlyle scored the only goal of his 17th NHL season to get his 500th career point. It came in a 4-2 Winnipeg loss at Toronto, where Carlyle’s career had begun in 1976.
March 07, 2002 Teemu Selanne scored his 400th career NHL goal in the Sharks 5-2 win against the visiting Ottawa Senators. It was also San Jose’s 300th victory in franchise history.
March 08, 1997 Mario Lemieux picked up an assist to become the first player to get 100 points in the 1996-97 season, as the Penguins won 3-2 in overtime over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. It was the 10th 100-point season of Lemieux’s NHL career.
March 09, 1990 NHL President John A. Ziegler Jr. terminated the suspension of Detroit Red Wings player Bob Probert after Probert served one year without pay of his combined expulsion and suspension.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. Carolina, yes really
29. NY Islanders
27. New Jersey
Anaheim Ducks Watch
So the Ducks traded Ryan Whitney to the Oilers for Lubomir Visnovsky. This is funny because I remembered when Whitney was acquired and how it was a huge deal that they got a young defenseman of the future to eventually replace Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. They also gave up Chris Kunitz who is a fairly decent goal scorer, let’s not forget. One season worth of games later and Whitney is history. The timing is even more hilarious because Whitney just won a Silver medal. All in all not a bad move by the Ducks because Whitney didn’t really pan out like they had hoped and Visnovsky is a decent player. I’m glad they didn’t trade Wisniewski and I hope the resign the Wiz when the season is out. Backup goalie Justin Pogge was also dealt. You might remember Pogge best for being called up and sent back every time Giguere was injured and right after he was traded. He basically sat on the bench and never played, you will be missed Pogge. In other news I am so happy they got rid of Nokelainen. A 6th round pick was probably the best they could do.
So you’d think that a team boasting 7 Olympic medal winning players, 6 now without Whitney though if this was last year they would have had 8 with Pronger, could win some games and make the playoffs. Of course if you’re the Ducks that’s a huge challenge. The Ducks first opponent back from the break was Colorado. The Ducks also had an eleven game winning streak at home going, but not anymore as they fell 4-3. Jason Blake had a nice powerplay goal to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. Selanne made it 2-0 with goal number 598. This goal was special because Selanne was about a mile offsides, with someone else I think it was Koivu, but the linesman said everyone was fine, umm okay. Then came the case of the stupids. Bad penalties and bad defense gave the Avalanche the opportunity to tie up the game and then take a 4-2 lead. The Ducks crept with in one on a four minute powerplay. Right before the third goal and afterwards they had numerous chances to get another goal. Ryan had a nifty move that missed somehow, Getzlaf had a wide open net that he some how missed and then he later fumbled a pass when he was wide open in front of the net. Truly they are Olympic heroes… not. I think some others also botched some chances. Either way tough loss to swallow considering that A) they were hot going into the break B) they had a 2-0 lead C) you’d figure they have some Olympic momentum with all those medals D) there home streak was snapped and E) everyone else that needed to lose did and they could have been just one point shy of the 8th and final playoff spot. Seriously Anaheim wake up! Kudos though to the recently recalled Dan Sexton who was everywhere on the ice and he should be on the Ducks for good now.
Next up was Phoenix who the Ducks seem to have a problem with, I have no idea why. The Ducks lost 4-0 in a game I couldn’t watch and therefore didn’t. Just as well, as I think I would have hurled. I have nothing else to add to that game.
Next up was Montreal and I got to watch the game online in French, Oui oui! The Ducks clearly listened to my tweet as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Hiller had a stretch of awesome saves in the 3rd. The Canadiens got within one goal, or but, and Bobby Ryan had a chance to ice the game with an empty-netter but he misses by about six inches. He should have made it because A) he was past the blue line B) no one was on him and C) wouldn’t you know it the Canadiens manage to tie it up a few seconds later, ugh. Corey Perry, in true Perry fashion, punches a celebrating Markov right in the face, funny but also dumb. Luckily it didn’t end up a powerplay for the Canadiens. I think the last 30 seconds of the game sums up the Ducks season quite well. But wait Duck fans, it only gets better from here! With a 1-0 lead in the shutout in the third round all Hiller needs to do is stop Montreal and they win. He stops the shot but of course he doesn’t know where the puck is and he starts sliding back and moves his arm and the pucks falls off from his arm, or wherever it was, into the net, prompting a big you have got to be kidding me. The Ducks promptly lose in the next round. I really don’t know what to make of these last three games; I’m at a loss for words. I’m also starting to lose hope that they will make the playoffs, if there ever was hope to begin with.
Next up was Columbus and I just can’t bring myself to recap it. The Ducks lost 5-2, they suck and that’s all there is to it. No I will recap it a little the Ducks found themselves down 3-0, Hiller was pulled and things looked bleak. I still watched and the Ducks cut it to a 3-2 lead and I was into it again. A couple of dumb penalties by the Ducks, what else, late in the game sealed the victory for Columbus. Even though they lost 5-2 it wasn’t as thought Columbus played that much better. The Ducks out shot the Blue Jackets 38 to 20 and had way better scoring chances. Mathieu Garon was just on for the Blue Jackets with some amazing saves.
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.