Do you like overtime with your hockey? You probably said yes and it’s a good thing too. On almost every single night you will see two or three games go into overtime or the shootout. I failed to notice last Sunday, when I was writing, that five of the eight games that night went into at least overtime. Some of it could be all teams getting off to a slow start because of the lockout, it could be because of parity in the league or it could be because teams want every point they can get and play conservative in the 3rd period. I tend to think it’s more of parity reason. At any rate we fans are entitled to more hockey action and closer games which is a win win. I like the shootouts but it’s a bad way to decide who wins. But it will never be perfect. New Jersey is one of the biggest benefactors this season having 3 overtime losses and just one regulation loss netting them points in seven of eight games. Over the course of the season the teams that don’t pull out those overtime wins end up not being one of the better teams in the league. But in this shortened season, teams will take points anyway they can get them.
Things I like
1. The Oilers may have found themselves a couple of stars to go with their other young guns. Nail Yakupov is proving to have a knack for finding the back of the net and a flair for the dramatic. All the more reason it was a good thing the Oilers decided to draft him number one overall despite their need for defensive help. Devan Dubynk has been slowing getting better each year in the league so far and it seems like this year may finally be his breakout year. He’s been pretty solid the last few games making some big saves.
2. I gave a huge amount of credit to Roberto Luongo for his focus and professionalism he has displayed this season so far. Luongo spent all of less than a month (last year’s playoffs and this season) of not being the number one goalie before really outplaying Cory Schneider and earning the top spot again. Luongo was great the other night against his arch nemesis the Chicago Blackhawks. I have a feeling the trade rumors will stop which is probably for the best as nobody was going to take on that ridiculous contract.
3. Many pundits picked the Ducks to finish near the bottom of the West this season but so far they looked like one of the most balanced teams this year. Scary because Jonas Hiller still doesn’t seem back to 100% yet but with Viktor Fasth playing so well he might need to. The Ducks are so deep former league MVP Corey Perry is tied for 6th in scoring on the team. The Ducks also only have one regulation loss this year. The First Kings vs Ducks game this season was also a treat to watch. A little bit of everything, including blood, even last years playoff MVP Jonathan Quick getting yanked after only three shots. You certainly don’t see that every day.
Things I don’t
1. On the other hand the Oilers seem to cough up the puck a lot on their own end. In the Sharks game the other night they were an endless turnover machine in the 3rd period and overtime. Even though the Sharks are one of the top teams, they couldn’t seem to cash any of those chances in. Some of it was because of Dubynk’s great goaltending others were just bad shots. Luckily those turnovers didn’t hurt them, though they did lose in the shootout, but this young team needs to have better puck protection if they plan on making the playoffs.
2. The Penguins are one of the highest scoring teams in the league but that wasn’t the reason they were eliminated last season in the playoffs. Marc-Andre Fleury has continued his struggling ways from the postseason and Thomas Vokoun finds himself the number one goaltender. Nobody in Pittsburgh would probably say that but it’s true. Similar to when Brent Johnson outplayed Fleury a few seasons ago. This time, however, Vokoun is a lot better than Johnson and would have caused a real problem if not for the fact that he’s eight years older than Fleury. One thing that bugged me was during a game Fleury ducked out of a way of a shot and let in a goal. He probably wouldn’t have made the save anyway but you wear a mask for a reason. Fleury should have tried to hit the puck with is mask not shy away from it. I really don’t think Fleury will be the goalie that led them to the cup again. All in all I don’t think Fleury will be between the pipes in the playoffs.
3. Buffalo started out 2-0 but lately thinks haven’t gone so well. Ryan Miller has a GAA over 3.00 for the first time in a long time. They also lost to the Capitals which isn’t something many teams do this year. But then again they beat the Bruins, one of the top teams, 7-4 sandwiched between all their loses so who really knows. Especially since Thomas Vanek leads the league in scoring which isn’t something I think anyone saw coming. I think it will be strange ride in Buffalo this season, similar to what happened to the Bills. Which means it probably won’t end well.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Eric Boulton vs Krys Barch
One of the more competitive fights of the past week.
Each man trades off a series of jabs in a nice fight.
Goat of the Week
The Official in the Senators vs. Canadiens game on February 3rd
This has been discussed on other blogs already but I really don’t see the interference call on Carey Price either. Maybe the ref was influenced by the home crowd… which would be quite unprofessional.
Stat Line of the Week
02/02/13 Anaheim 7 vs. Los Angeles 4
Nick Bonino had his 1st career hat trick for Ducks against their rivals the Kings. Could be the first of many for young Bonino. And not too shabby that he did it in only about ten minutes of playing time.
36 – Shots on Goal by Phil Kessel, 1st in the NHL
0 – Goals by Phil Kessel, you guessed it tied for last in the NHL
10 – The plus of Sami Salo, 1st in the NHL, You kind of figure that won’t hold up
.925 – Save percentage of Devan Dubnyk, the only goalie with a .925 SV% or higher with more than 1 loss on regulation
7.4 – The powerplay percentage of the Colorado Avalanche, last in the league
Quote of the Week
“I think I pooped myself a little there before the shootout when I saw all those guys.”
– Roberto Luongo, on facing the first three shooters of the Blackhawks in the shootout. There’s a nice mental picture for you.
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
January 28, 1945 Toronto’s rookie goaltender Frank McCool recorded his second shutout in two days in a 7-0 win over the Rangers, at New York. It was McCool’s 4th (and final) career shutout.
January 29, 2003 New York Rangers fired head coach Bryan Trottier 54 games into his first season behind the bench in the NHL. G.M. Glen Sather took over as coach the following day. Trottier was fired after the team got off to a 21-26-6-1 start.
January 30, 1937 New York Americans’ Nels Stewart became the NHL’s All-Time goal scoring leader, when he picked up his 270th career goal to surpass Howie Morenz, as the Americans beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. Alfie Moore got the shutout.
January 31, 1990 Winnipeg’s Dale Hawerchuk scored a goal and had an assist to collect his 900th career NHL point as the Jets tied 5-5 with the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
February 01, 1919 Georges Vezina recorded his second career NHL shutout as the Canadiens beat the Toronto Arenas 10-0 in Montreal.
February 02, 1995 Mike Keenan won his 400th NHL game, a 5-4 Blues’ OT win over the Winnipeg Jets. The win gave Keenan a record of 400-254-77in 731 games, the third fastest in NHL history (Scotty Bowman won 400 in 690 games, “Toe” Blake in 724 games.)
February 03 1949 Toronto’s Turk Broda became just the second goaltender in NHL history (and the first in Maple Leafs history) to record 250 career victories. The milestone came in a 4-1 win over the Canadiens, at Montreal.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. San Jose
5. St. Louis