Between the Pipes – NHL Recap Week 24
What’s in a goal? – The only way to win a game in the NHL is to score more goals than the other team. Makes sense right? So teams that have more wins score more goals over time. They would also score more goals than they would yield. If you look at the standings you notice the GF (goals for) and GA (goals against) columns next to wins, losses and ties err scratch that overtime losses, sigh. The teams at the top, this year, like Washington, San Jose and Chicago all have a large positive goal differential. Teams at the bottom like Edmonton and Toronto have a large negative goal differential. What does it all mean though? Is there any correlation to Stanley Cup winners?
Yes, in some ways there is. In the last 20 years we have never had a Stanley Cup winner with less than a plus 25 goal differential in the regular season. How about the loser? Well for the losers there have been various goal differentials. For the most part they’ve all had a positive goal differential too. There are three exceptions. Carolina in 01-02 lost to Detroit and had a 217/217 GF/GA. In 92-93 Los Angeles lost to Montreal with a negative differential 338/340 GF/GA. The Kings gave up a lot of goals that year, only three teams gave up more goals than them that season. In 90-91 the Minnesota North Stars (remember them) had a negative 10 differential 256/266 GF/GA and a 27-39-14 record (yikes!). Of course that year there were only 10 teams in the West so all but two teams got in the playoffs. It’s a good thing the NHL has expanded so things like that don’t happen anymore. Of course it begs the more interesting question, how did they get to the Finals and how sad would it have been if they had won?
So what does all that mean for this season? In the East that means no Cup for Ottawa (negative), Montreal (negative) or Boston (about even). Atlanta (negative) and the Rangers (negative) would also be no if they managed to somehow get in. Philadelphia (about +10) would also be a no. Washington and Buffalo (just over) have the best shots and New Jersey and Pittsburgh are on the bubble with about a +20.
Out West it’s a little more crowded. None of the playoff contenders are negative. Two are about even Calgary (if they get in) and Nashville, so no for them. Detroit is only about a +10, by far their lowest goal differential in sometime, so no for them as well. Vancouver, Chicago and San Jose are the best bets. Los Angeles, Colorado and Phoenix are all on the bubble at around a +20 each.
So that means if we cut out the bubbles teams, though there are still five to seven games left so a lot could change, your Stanley Cup Champions will either be Washington, Buffalo, Vancouver, Chicago or San Jose. Keep in mind last year’s winner, Pittsburgh, had a differential of +25 the lowest in some time and where I got the cutoff point from. Let’s see if the pattern holds true this year.
Next week, hopefully.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Adam Burish vs. Derek Dorsett
Fists of fury in front of the Blackhawks bench with these two.
Cory Sarich vs. Jason Chimera
Sarich knocks down Chimera with one punch. I’m not really sure what Chimera thought was going to happen, he’s in a fight and he isn’t doing anything.
Goats of the Week
Antoine Vermette – Columbus Blue Jackets
Well I probably could have put a goal or two that Huet gave up but I figured that would be too easy. Dave Bolland, who deserves his own goat props on the play, fans on his rebound attempt and Vermette comes sweeping in and knocks it in his own goal. A shame really, if he had gotten his stick on the other side of the puck he would have saved the goal.
Jimmy Howard – Detroit Red Wings
The curse of the strange bounces continues as Owen Nolan casually dumps the puck in but Howard’s misplay coupled with the odd bouncing puck leads to a goal. The Red Wings were up 4-0 in the 3rd at that point, so it didn’t really matter.
Things I like
1. The top four teams from last years playoffs should make the playoffs again this year (San Jose, Detroit, Vancouver, Chicago), while the five through eight seeds will not. Interesting that all those top teams moved on to the second round last year except for San Jose. Furthermore it’s interesting that they again hold the top three spots this year, except for Detroit which is now in 6th.
2. We have races in the points and goals stat categories. Barring any miracle Henrik Sedin should win the assist crown. Alex Ovechkin has an unfair advantage of missing 10 games more than everyone else, though a lot of those were his fault for getting suspended. Despite that he is still right in the thick of things at the top for the points and goal crowns, tie goes to Ovie.
3. That my prediction of the Rangers not making the playoffs this year is becoming a reality. I’ll have to take it because almost all my other predictions are wrong, except for Washington winning their division but who didn’t have that?
Things I don’t
1. Calgary’s playoff chances anymore. With Detroit winning (of course it’s now about Los Angeles and Colorado) it was unlikely the Flames would get in, but they showed almost no drive to want to get in. Losing to teams like Minnesota and the NY Islanders, teams they are better than, is one thing but coming to Boston and dropping a major goose egg of 5-0 is pretty bad. Hard to imagine you could play that bad in a game you must win. Also what is up with the Flames scheduling? They went from Denver to Calgary to Minnesota to Calgary to New York. I don’t see why the two home games couldn’t have been next to each other and then had the Denver and Minnesota games next to each other and then went to the East Coast from there that would have made much more sense.
2. Cristobal Huet yikes! It’s a shame really. The season started out well for Huet, he had a good October, other than the 10/12 game against the Flames, and November. Things started to go downhill after that and they reached the bottom this month. I really think they should make a play for Chris Osgood, otherwise it’s Niemi time.
3. Evgeni Malkin missing games with injuries. He didn’t miss any games the past two seasons and his first in the league he only missed four. This year hasn’t been so lucky for him. He’s fun to watch and the Penguins aren’t really the same team without him. I hope his foot will be ready to go come playoff time.
Stat Line of the Week
03/27/10 Buffalo 7 vs. Tampa Bay 1
Back to back weeks of Sabres in the stat line box and both against Tampa Bay. After being called out by his coach for lack of effort in the previous game, Derek Roy responded with his 4th hat trick of his career. He has points in every game this March except four. The Sabres have been hot offensively as of late and it reminds me of the Sabre teams with Dominik Hasek.
Did You Know?
That when Colorado beat New Jersey in the 2000-01 NHL Stanley Cup Finals their combined regular season GA/GF ratio was a positive 278. This was the highest combined ratio, by far, in the past twenty seasons.
(hey they’re all under 10, go figure)
1 – Number of seasons over 100 points for Henrik Sedin in nine seasons
2 – Number of seasons the Coyotes have made it to the Playoffs this decade
9 – Number of seasons the Red Wings will inevitably make the Playoffs this decade (only 9 because one season was lost due to the lockout)
9 – Number of seasons the Devils have made the playoffs this decade
0 – Number of times the Florida Panthers will have made the playoffs this decade (the only team not to make it)
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
March 25, 1982 Wayne Gretzky set an NHL record for fastest two shorthanded goals, scoring twice in :27 during the second period of a 7-2 Oilers’ win at Calgary.
March 26, 1960 Dickie Moore scored twice and added an assist and Doug Harvey got the winning goal at 8:38 of overtime to lead the Canadiens to a 4-3 win over the visiting Chicago Black Hawks, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals.
March 27, 2003 Patrick Roy recorded his 66th (and final) career shutout and his 547th victory, tops in NHL history and 100 more than second-place Terry Sawchuk as the Avalanche won 3-0 against the visiting Los Angeles Kings.
March 28, 1974 Islanders’ rookie defenseman Denis Potvin scored to set an NHL record for most goals by a rookie defenseman, as the Islanders lost 4-1 at Los Angeles. Potvin’s 16th of the year broke the record of 15 set by Montreal’s Guy Lapointe in 1970-71.
March 29, 1983 Vancouver’s Stan Smyl scored twice to set a new club record with 88 points in one season, as the Canucks lost 7-4 to Edmonton.
March 30, 1979 The NHL announced the expansion of the league from 17 to 21 teams, with the addition of four clubs from the WHA – Edmonton, Hartford, Winnipeg, and Quebec City.*
*Ironically there all gone now except for Edmonton.
March 30, 1925 Victoria Cougars of WCHL beat the Canadiens 6-1 to become the last non-NHL team to win the Stanley Cup. Victoria won the best of five series 3-1 over Montreal.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
30. Tampa Bay
Anaheim Ducks Watch
Playoff hopes looking slim Anaheim took on Vancouver at Vancouver. Despite being a game for their season basically they didn’t really seem to try to hard. The Sedin twins figured into the first three Vancouver goals and it wasn’t until the 3rd, when Anaheim scored there first and only goal. Getzlaf re-injured his ankle when Henrik Sedin fell on it. Just an awesome game, note sarcasm. Anaheim isn’t much of a road team, with only six teams having fewer wins on the road than them, and they showed it in the past two games.
Next was the epic grudge match against Edmonton. Luckily Anaheim won this game because otherwise we’d be looking at some serious issues. George Parros, of all people, got the 1st goal in the game. BTW Parros is really not a good fighter, he’s just big. In the 3rd Perry had two power-play goals in a row to propel the Ducks to a 3-1 lead. Edmonton got a goal in the final minute with a six on three advantage. Let’s face it if you can’t score on a six on three, you have major problems. Speaking of the six on three, you sure don’t see that very often. Former teammate Ryan Whitney got into it with Troy Bodie during and right after the game. Whitney was also standing in the Ducks bench at one point jawing at Bodie.
The Stars at Anaheim were next up and since the game was at Anaheim, they did a little celebration for Teemu’s 600th goal. I was at a game where they honored him with something else about a year or two ago; I can’t remember what it was though shame on me. Anyway Nick Bonino started his second game ever. He also anchors the top line with the injured Ryan Getzlaf out. Bonino was of course not drafted by the Ducks. Which brings up the question, where do all the players the Ducks pick in the first few rounds end up? The certainly don’t make the team. Only Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan are 1st rounders that are actually on the team. Matt Beleskey was drafted by the Ducks but not until the 4th round. Dan Sexton and Rob Bordson are undrafted. Way to go Ducks, you sure know talent when you see it. Anyway the Ducks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the 3rd period with a bunch of quick strikes. Getting the first goal of the game was Nick Bonino on the power play. The assists on the goal were Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry. Not to shabby to have your first goal of your career assisted by a future hall of famer. Perry got the game winner with his 27th goal of the year and Dallas scored one goal right after Anaheim’s three and that was it. Curtis McElhinney started his second game in a row, in place of Jonas Hiller, and he has played extremely well. He is now on a three game winning streak, counting the game he won in relief of Hiller. They keep their faint playoff hopes alive against Colorado.
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.