Between the Pipes – NHL Recap Week 23
Rise of the Phoenix – I’m not sure how many of you saw the Chicago vs. Phoenix game but talk about a playoff atmosphere, that place was rocking. The weirdest part was the game wasn’t in Chicago, it was in Phoenix. The Coyotes are still dead last in attendance this season, averaging just 11,581 per game, however in this game they sold out the arena with 17,534. This proves that if you win, they will come, unless of course you’re the Avalanche.
The Coyotes are hot and have now won nine in a row. They are also contending for the top spot in the West. It actually makes my head hurt thinking about it because I never would have guessed this in a million years. I’m not really surprised about the Avalanche, the other darlings of the West who have since fallen, because they just had some bad injuries last year and then had some great picks in the off-season and a great goalie acquisition. But the Coyotes gunning for the best record in the West!?! The Coyotes haven’t made the playoffs since 2002 and even more telling, they have never been out of the 1st round as a franchise.
Other than the superb goaltending duo of Ilya Bryzgalov (the current leader in wins and shutouts) and Jason LaBarbera it’s hard to see how they are having this much success. The Coyotes only have one player on the team with over 20 goals, Radim Vrbata who I don’t think strikes fear into opposing goalies. They would have two players over 20 goals if you add on the goals Wojtek Wolski has with the Avalanche. Offensively and defensively they are just a bunch of rag tag blue collar guys. They do have Mr. Everything Shane Doan and sniper Ed Jovanovski, though. It will be interesting to see how the Coyotes do in the playoffs. They don’t boast much experience in the playoffs and the West is especially tough this year. Even if they have a 1st round exit, which seems likely, Phoenix should be proud as they have accomplished a lot this season, including transforming the franchise, no matter the playoff outcome.
The rematch against the Blackhawks didn’t go quite as well. The Coyotes lost 2-0 and were unable to set the franchise record for wins, still nothing to be ashamed of.
I would like to keep doing this section but I haven’t been in the mood with all the other crap going on in my life.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Cam Janssen vs. Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond
Wow sums this fight up, with everyone’s favorite frenchie. If you like long fights this one clocks in at over two minutes of action.
Brad Winchester vs. Brandon Prust
A unique fight in which Prust was outsized by a lot but managed to hold his own.
Ryane Clowe vs. Jarome Iginla
A decent fight between these two heavy hitters. Iginla drops his helmet and Clowe does not despite having plenty of time to do so.
Goats of the Week
Lots of goats this week, enjoy.
Thomas Vokoun – Florida Panthers
We’ve had a few really long goals this year and this would be another. The difference is nobody blamed the goalie (Vokoun) this time, they all blamed the bad ice. Except this goal cost them the win because it forced overtime which the Panthers lost in a shootout.
Corey Crawford – Chicago Blackhawks
Crawford goes out of his net to play a puck coming into his zone with Chipchura and Former Duck Boynton chasing after. Crawford fails miserably at whatever he was trying to do and Chipchura makes a nice pass to Marchant who gets the goal. In all the epic fails this year, I think this one is right up there.
Joel Quenneville – Chicago Blackhawks Coach
In the final minute of the game Quenneville pulled his goalie in a game against Anaheim, despite the fact that Anaheim had position of the puck and no Blackhawks were in sight. Even though it was behind the Anaheim net it was still a bad decision, as two passes later Anaheim had an empty net goal.
Things I like
1. The dominance of New Jersey over Pittsburgh is quite interesting this season. The Devils are 6-0 and have outscored the Penguins 22 to 5. That’s a huge differential. Marc-Andre Fleury only has one game against the Devils this year with a SV% above .900. Johnson had the best performance against the Devils only giving up one goal on 32 shots in a 2-0 loss (the other goal was an empty net). Don’t be surprised to see a lot of Brent Johnson come playoff time with Fleury’s struggles. But averaging less than a goal a game of offense is quite putrid for Crosby, Malkin and company.
2. This should be filed under Things I don’t, since I can’t stand them, but here it is anyway the Detroit Red Wings are hot and trying to keep their consecutive playoff streak alive. Personally I was hoping the Red Wings wouldn’t make it but alas that doesn’t look to be the case. They will be a tough 1st round out for any of the possibilities, Phoenix (inexperience), Chicago (bad goaltending) and San Jose (umm they’re San Jose). Jimmy Howard continues to excel in his first full season. I’m surprised a goaltending needy team didn’t make a run at Chris Osgood. Unless the Red Wings didn’t want to part with him.
3. Teemu Selanne’s 600th goal. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. It’s been a long Hall of Fame career for the Finnish Flash and this was the icing on the cake for his career. I’m also happy that he could at least etch his name on Lord Stanley’s cup once.
4. How about the Washington Capitals clinching their division a week ago and they currently have an over 30 point lead on the Thrashers in the standings. Just a few more wins and the can lock up the top spot in the East. I am looking forward to a Capitals vs. Devils or Penguins conference finals.
Things I don’t
1. James Wisniewski’s suspension. I think eight games are a bit excessive. If the NHL is serious about cutting down on headshots and defenseless hits, I expected him to get suspended. But it wasn’t that bad of a hit and it pales in comparison to the suspension that Ovechkin received, proving preferential treatment for the stars. The biggest problem with the suspension is that Brent Seabrook’s hit on Corey Perry was almost as bad and it was the whole reason that Wisniewski hit Seabrook. Seabrook took out Perry’s head and Perry could not see him coming because his back was to Seabrook. Where as Wisniewski’s hit was able to be seen by Seabrook, even for just a second, and was more of a total body check, thought it was made worse by him leaving his feet. But had he not left his feet, I wouldn’t even have seen anything wrong wit the hit in my own opinion, I’m sure others disagree. It’s the typical double standards garbage by the NHL.
2. Well I won’t say I didn’t tell you so (I did), but San Jose has started their annual slide to mediocrity. Their latest offense was losing to the Oilers 5-1, which ups their losing streak to six games. Someone should tell the Sharks they are losing a month early though, as it’s not April yet. Evgeni Nabokov’s poor Olympic showing seems to have carried over to the Sharks. Not a good sign for the Sharks as I’m not sure Thomas Greiss is up for the playoff challenge, but who knows. At least the Sharks finally snapped their losing streak against the Wild.
Stat Line of the Week
03/18/10 Buffalo 6 vs. Tampa Bay 2
Ever hear of Jason Pominville? Well I haven’t but other than Ryan Miller, Derek Roy and Tyler Myers, I couldn’t name any Buffalo Sabres. But the Sabres have found some offense as of late and in this game Pominville picked up his 2nd career hat trick.
Did You Know?
That after Selanne the next active player with a shot at 600 is Mark Recchi with 560, Mike Modano with 556 and Keith Tkachuk with 537. None of these players seem likely to get it though. At Recchi’s current scoring pace he would need another three seasons or so to get it. Modano would also need another three seasons at his current pace. It’s unlikely either will play another three. Tkachuk is most likely retiring at the end of this year, so barring some miracle he won’t get it either. Jerome Iginla with 441 has the best shot to reach it next, but he isn’t getting any younger.
The Teemu Selanne edition, in honor of his 600 goals
97 – Career game winning goals
76 – Goals scored his first season, the most of any season
3 – The number of times he has scored over 100 points in a season
216 – Power-play goals, 10th all time
16 – The lowest amount of goals he has scored in a season that he played more than 30 games in.
46 – Goals against the San Jose Sharks, the team he has scored most on
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
March 18, 2000 Ray Bourque became the first defenseman in NHL history to score 400 career goals. His milestone came in a 4-3 loss against the visiting Atlanta Thrashers.
March 19, 1991 Brett Hull became the third player in NHL history to score 80 goals in a season, in a 2-1 Blues win over the Caps, at Landover, Maryland. Hull joined Gretzky and Lemieux as the only players in NHL history to accomplish the feat.
March 20, 1969 Boston’s Bobby Orr set a new NHL record for defensemen with his 21st goal of the season (breaking the mark set by Flash Hollett in 1944-45). It came at 19:59 of the third, on Orr’s 21st birthday, in a 5-5 tie against the Black Hawks, in Boston.
March 21, 1983 Darcy Rota scored two goals to become only the second player in Canucks’ history to score 40 goals in a season. It came as Vancouver defeated Pittsburgh 7-3.
March 22, 2004 L.A.’s Luc Robitaille picked up an assist to set an NHL record for most career points by a left wing with the 1,370th of his NHL career (passing John Bucyk) as the Kings lost 2-1 to the visiting Edmonton Oilers.
March 23, 1983 Mark Messier became the third player in Edmonton Oilers history to score 100 points in a season, when he picked up a goal in a 7-4 loss to the Jets, at Winnipeg.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
30. Tampa Bay
28. NY Rangers
27. San Jose
Anaheim Ducks Watch
After choking forever after the Olympic break, Anaheim beats the top two teams in a row in the Western Conference. Proving that if they actually tired hard enough they can beat anybody. Proving that since the Ducks aren’t trying hard enough, most of the time, the coach needs to go. Of course I have wanted Carlyle to be canned for awhile now, so I’m not holding my breath. Anyway, on with the recap.
Bobby Ryan starts Anaheim’s scoring off with his 30th goal of the season. He is the only Duck besides Teemu Selanne to score 30 goals in back to back seasons. Seabrook ties the game. Marchant scores an easy short handed goal when goat of the week Crawford stupidly handles the puck way outside his net. Then all hell broke loose as Seabrook hit Perry and then Wisniewski hits him back. After Chicago ties the game the Ducks show some heart and in the 3rd to win the game. In a weird play Sopel goes up to play a puck high, Perry gives him a nudge, Sople oversells the nudge and then everyone goes after Perry. Except that Perry made a nifty pass to a wide open Koivu, who nets the game winner. Bobby Ryan adds the empty netter. Hiller had some nice saves in the game and made 39 in all. If Corey Perry wasn’t Corey Perry (a jerk) I’m not sure the Ducks would have won.
Next were the Islanders in a game that was probably harder than it needed to be. Park scores for the Islanders and then less than a minute later Beleskey scores to tie the game. Then we reverse and Anaheim scores first with Visnovsky and then about a minute later Okposo ties it up. Then things start to get hairy as the Islanders score on the power play and Hiller is pulled. Hiller rarely gets pulled but most of the goals he let in were pretty lame. After giving up another goal things looked bleak in Duckville, but Anaheim clawed their way back with their new look never give up attitude. A power-play goal off of Jason Blake inches the Ducks closer. With the goalie pulled Visnovsky scores again with the magic touch and with help from some pretty awesome screens in front. In overtime Koivu takes a turnover and beats Biron on a one on one breakaway. Selanne had some really nice chances in the game to get 600, but alas it was not to be.
Next up was Colorado and a game that for once everything just seemed to go the Ducks way. Capping off the final game of a seven game home stand, the Ducks increased their winning streak to four games. They jumped out to a four goal lead and Teemu Selanne had the game winner for his 600th goal, which was fittingly on the power-play. Troy Bodie even had a nice shorthanded goal. Colorado started to claw back and cut the deficit to 4-2, but Anaheim put the game away with a Ryan Getzlaf power-play goal to seal the 5-2 win.
Calgary was next up in a huge game at the Saddledome. Anaheim was able to tie the game up in the 2nd period but a few minutes later Corey Perry’s costly turnover allowed Rene Bourque to come in alone and beat Jonas Hiller. Perry was none to please about it, nor should he be, as he took his frustrations out on his stick. Hagman scored later for the Flames and the Ducks just either didn’t shoot when they could or they just missed their chances. They had some that is for sure but they just couldn’t connect. Hiller has been pretty streaky in goal this season. Some games he makes some awesome saves, other games he just isn’t on and looks frustrated. That pretty much does it for Anaheim’s playoff chances. While they aren’t mathematically out, they pretty much are. A true shame with all that talent, Olympic talent, they just can’t get it together.
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.