NHL Recap Week 13 – Is this it for the Red Wings Streak?, More Winter Classics?, Corey Crawford or Ray Emery? and more!
Before I begin this column, I’d like to give my condolences to everyone affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. That was a lot of bloodshed in a nonsensical act of violence.
We have about a week left in the regular season and it sure seemed like this season flew by. There is one monumental thing that might happen in a week that is going relatively unnoticed. The Red Wings might miss the postseason. The last time they didn’t make it was during the 1989-1990 season. Steve Yzerman had a 127 points that year, fresh off his 155 point campaign the year before, but the Red Wings finished last in the Norris Division anyway. The Red Wings had made the preseason the previous three seasons. Their run is significant because it’s the longest active run in the NHL, by far, at 21 seasons. The next closest is San Jose at 8. It will be 9 for them now. They aren’t the longest of all time, however. That designation belongs to the Boston Bruins at 29 seasons 1967–68 (through to 1995–96).
But the Red Wings did it the longest in the modern era where it was a lot harder to be great for so long. They won 4 Stanley Cups during their run and appeared in two other Stanley Cup Finals. They went seamlessly from the Steve Yzerman/Sergei Fedorov years to the Pavel Datsyuk/Henrik Zetterberg years. Let’s not forget Nicklas Lidstrom anchoring the blueline all those years. It’s still not over by any means, however. They are three points behind the Blue Jackets with two games in hand. They face the Coyotes, Kings, Predators and Stars. The Coyotes and Predators don’t have anything to play for but who knows. The Stars game will be interesting because it will be the last game for both teams and it could be for the final playoff spot. But If they do miss it, I find it odd that it would happen during a shortened season. You would think the 4th oldest team in the league would do better in a shorter season.
Things I Like
1. It was announced this week that the NHL might play up to 6 games outdoor this coming season. When I first heard that I thought “That’s insane! What are they thinking? They are going to ruin the Winter Classic!” You might have three and be okay; one in Canada, one that features Eastern Conference foes and one that features Western Conference foes. But then I really thought about it and I thought this should eventually lead to each team having one outdoor game a year. Which would be a good thing. If each team had one it still wouldn’t be too many games as long as they were spaced out enough on the schedule. Each of those game would probably be automatic sellouts in their respective markets. It would help grow the game to new audiences and it would b the most circled date on the team’s schedule when it is released every year. As long as they don’t go over one outdoor game per team per season I think it can be a huge success for the NHL. The NHL doesn’t have to televise them all either, just a few. The marquee matchup on New Year’s day could still be called the Winter Classic.
2. Corey Crawford or Ray Emery? Or does it really make a difference? The answer is not really. Emery’s stats read as 1.91 GAA, .923 SV%, 3 shutouts, 16 wins. Crawford’s stats are 1.99 GAA, .924 SV%, 3 shutouts, 18 wins. Their stats are so similar that it’s almost spooky. This also bodes well for the Blackhawks come playoff time. I personally think they should switch off to make things more difficult for their opponents but I’m guessing they will go with Crawford as their starter.
3. Watching the New York Islanders vs the Winnipeg Jets this past weekend was really thrilling. You had two teams, that normally aren’t very good, both playing for the playoffs, a hot Winnipeg crowd, lots of goals and the overtime and shootout. It appears that Islanders will get in and the Jets won’t, but still it was great nonetheless. I would really love to the see the Winnipeg Jets in the playoffs to reward the fans for all that they have been through. Sadly, we will probably have to wait another year though.
Things I Don’t
1. As reported by Puck Daddy Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is having shoulder surgery but it’s apparently for an injury that’s been bothering him for years. Okay then. If you are injured and you make your leaving doing any physical activity it would be wise to have the surgery as soon as possible. I understand those that get injured in the playoffs and wanted to gut it out but the Oilers were eliminated a while ago. There was also the previous offseason and the lockout and well you get the point. I wonder whose decision it was to delay it? If it was the Oilers, then that’s a problem, they shouldn’t be allowed to make that call. If it was Nugent-Hopkins it’s still a dumb decision, but I guess it’s his body so he can do what he wants.
2. As we wind down the NHL season there is one thing that is sadly missing, suspense. Other than the Northwest division crown and the last two spots in the West, there really isn’t any suspense on the rest of the seedings. Sure you don’t know who will finish 4 through 6 in either conference but those are usually secondary things. There’s also the Southeast division up for grabs but that’s been a strange one all year and barring a total collapse the Capitals should take it.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Eric Boulton vs Colton Orr
There’s haymakers and then there’s haymakers…
Arron Asham vs Jay Rosehill
Not a lot of the punches connect but still fun none the less
Tim Gleason vs Chris Neil
This one wasn’t too bad from a game with a lot of fighting
Goat of the Week
Braden Holtby – Washington Capitals
I’m a firm believer that goalies shouldn’t leave the crease. This is exhibit A in that case. Holtby passes it right to Cory Conacher for the easy open net goal. I’m not really sure what he was trying to do. My best guess is he was trying to clear it up the boards but he didn’t get all of it. This loss wasn’t all Holtby’s fault though, as the Capitals were just mauled by the Senators all game long.
Stat Line of the Week
04/19/13 NY Rangers 8 vs. Buffalo 4
In an important game between two New York rivals, that basically knocked the Sabres out of playoff contention, the Rangers came out and scored the first six goals of the game. Brad Richards scored two of those and added another one later for his 1st hat trick of the season. Richards hasn’t had the best season but he has half of his 10 goals in the month of April.
56 – Points by Sidney Crosby still 1st in the NHL despite playing about eight games less than everyone else
20 – The difference in shots between the Devils (32) and the Maple Leafs (12) in their 4/15 game, which the Maple Leafs won 2-0
7 – Game scoring streak for Andrew Ladd who has amassed 4 goals and 10 assists during the streak
0 – Still no overtime losses for the Penguins, the only team without one
.08 – Difference between the Senators and Blackhawks in the race for the William Jennings Trophy
7.2 – The shooting percentage of the Ottawa Senators worst in the NHL with the Sharks having the 2nd worst at 7.7 below such teams as the Florida Panthers and the Colorado Avalanche
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
April 15, 1991 Frank Pietrangelo led the Penguins to a 4-0 shutout over the N.J. Devils in game 7 of the Patrick Division Semi-Finals. It came in just the second playoff game of Pietrangelo’s NHL career.
April 16, 1992 Brett Hull became just the second player in NHL history to score 70+ goals in three consecutive seasons when the Blues beat the Minnesota North Stars, 5-3 in St. Louis.
April 17, 2002 Roman Cechmanek made 35 saves to record his first career playoff shutout, and Ruslan Fedotenko scored at 7:47 of overtime in the Flyers 1-0 win against the visiting Ottawa Senators, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals
April 18, 1994 Vancouver goalie Kirk McLean recorded the first of his four 1994 playoff shutout (and the third of his playoff career) as the Canucks won 5-0 at Calgary, in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarter-Finals.
April 19, 1996 Goaltender Ed Belfour made 33 saves for his third career playoff shutout as the Blackhawks won 3-0 over the visiting Calgary Flames, in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarter-Finals.
April 20, 2004 New Jersey’s Igor Larionov announced his NHL retirement. The 43- year-old veteran had been the oldest player in the league in 2003-04. Larionov finished his career winning three Stanley Cups, along with 169 goals and 644 points in 921 games.
April 21, 1951 Toronto’s Bill Barilko scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal at 2:53 of overtime to defeat Montreal 3-2 in Game 5 of the Finals. It was the only Stanley Cup series in NHL history in which every game ended in overtime.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
2. NY Islanders
5. St. Louis
28. New Jersey
26. Tampa Bay