Those following the Kings’ season will not be at all surprised that the Kings clinched their playoff spot in a shootout. Their number one goalie (Jonathan Quick) is now 10-0 in shootouts. The team is 10-2, but both shootout losses were by Jonathan Bernier. Quick isn’t the only reason the Kings have had such success in the shootout this season. Jarret Stoll is 9 for 10 in the shootout this season, which is amazing.
With tonight’s win, the Kings are currently in 4th place in the western conference and have played the same number of games as the other teams currently the playoff spots. Home ice advantage for round one of the playoffs is definitely a real possibility for the Kings. It would be the first time they’d had home ice advantage in the playoffs since the early 90s. They’ve also tied the club record for 46 wins in a season (also in 09-10 & 90-91). Stoll’s 20th goal of the season tonight gives the Kings six 20 goal scorers for the first time since 92-93, which was the only time the Kings got to the Stanley Cup Finals.
In spite of how it may have looked to some of us watching the overtime tonight in Staples Center, Terry Murray said the Kings always play to win in overtime when in those situations and were NOT playing to get into the shootout, since their goaltender is undefeated in the shootout. Not surprisingly, Murray also said “it was a fun game to coach tonight” and later responded “this is the best time of my life” when asked if he was having fun.
For their part in this season possibly being the first time he two SoCal teams (and, in fact, all three California NHL teams) make the NHL playoffs, the Ducks beat the Sharks tonight in Anaheim. They were led by Corey Perry’s hat trick, including his league leading 50th goal of the season.
The Kings and Ducks face off in their last two games of the season in back to back games in Anaheim Friday and Los Angeles Saturday. Both games are sure to be very intense, since the Ducks may still be fighting to clinch their playoff spot and both teams will want to finish as high in the standings as possible.
Tags: Corey Perry, Coyotes, Ducks, hat trick, Hockey, Jarret Stoll, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, playoffs, Sharks, shootout, standings, Stanley Cup Finals, Staples Center, Terry Murray
A few of us were pretty surprised that none of the fans we heard chanted “One more year” for Selanne at all tonight as the Ducks rallied to beat the Avalanche 5-4 after being down 2-0. The fans had plenty of perfect opportunities… Selanne scored on a penalty shot tonight to score the Ducks’ first goal. He also got a point in all five of the Ducks’ goals tonight and scored the 22nd hat trick of his career (13th as a Duck). Tonight was Selanne’s 33rd career 5 point game and he was the first player age 40 or older to record a hat trick and five points (or more) in a single game. Selanne has been truly amazing this year. He’s second in Ducks scoring and looks better than most players in the NHL.
In spite of all this, the only person I heard actually chant, “One more year” tonight was Corey Perry, teasing as he walked by the scrum interviewing Selanne and (of course) asking him his thoughts on continuing to play. At this time last year, retirement was something Selanne seemed to be seriously considering. This year, I don’t see how he could be thinking of retirement. Last season Selanne played very well, but this year he’s been truly amazing. For his part, Selanne said he’s been feeling great the whole year and he’s still having fun, which is the only reason he’s still around. He also said, “My mind goes like an elevator – one day I feel that I can play ten more years and the next day I feel why do I keep doing this? That’s why I’m not yet thinking about that during the season.” Selanne went on to say that it’s better to think about these things after the season and then asked to talk about something else.
Selanne’s penalty shot goal was the second of his career, the last one coming in Tampa Bay when he was playing for the Winnipeg Jets on March 9, 1993. I would have never guessed that it had been 18 years since Selanne scored his only other penalty shot (he’s now 2 for 6), but that’s because Selanne has been so amazing in his career and continues to stun crowds. With 6 games to go this season, Selanne is already the third highest scorer of 40+ years. Only Gordie Howe (with 103 points in 68-69) and Johnny Bucyk (with 83 points in 75-76) scored more at that age. Clearly, no one but Selanne can know what he feels when recovering for a game, but watching him on the ice, I can’t imagine how this could possibly be his last season in the NHL. (Not surprisingly, Selanne was also the top NHL performer of the day, not just tonight’s game in Anaheim.)
Since the Ducks and Blackhawks both won tonight, Anaheim maintained their position in the standings (7th place in the western conference). Clearly, every point is important at this time of the season when all the teams are so close. As Randy Carlyle pointed out, everyone other than the top couple teams and bottom couple teams is worrying about winning games to get into the playoffs and maintain their position in the standings at the time. Though four teams have secured their spots in the playoffs in the eastern conference, the Canucks are the only team completely mathematically secure in the western conference so far.
Tags: Avalanche, Blackhawks, Canucks, Corey Perry, Ducks, hat trick, Hockey, NHL, penalty shot, playoffs, Randy Carlyle, retirement, standings, Teemu Selanne
Alexander Semin led the Capitals with his hat trick tonight. Semin kept the game from going into overtime by scoring with just 1:47 left in regulation. His first goal of the game was the first he scored since November 28th. Semin missed a lot of those games due to injury, but was clearly happy to get the hat trick and the game winning goal tonight in Anaheim to end the Caps’ losing streak at three games.
The Ducks hadn’t had more than six goals scored against them this season, but their number one goalie (Jonas Hiller, who hasn’t gotten nearly the credit he deserves for Anaheim’s success this season) is injured as he has been on and off since getting hit with a puck in the head at the All Star game.
Tonight’s game in Anaheim was back and forth and neither team ever had a good lead. The largest lead was the two goal lead the Ducks had for just a little over a minute and a half in the middle of the game. There aren’t many one goal games with a combined total of 13 goals. The fans in attendance (a lot less than the 15,579 announced, sadly) really got a treat at the Honda Center tonight. They got to see a couple breakaway goals (including a great one by Alex Ovechkin), a short handed goal, a hat trick, a fight (started after the Ducks’ Sutton’s bad boarding hit on Hendricks). When asked about the hit, Hendricks said it sure felt like more than a two minute penalty hit, but I’m guessing they never do. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a hit like that.
The Ducks won’t be back in southern California until they host the Kings a week from now (Feb 23), but they play in Minnesota and St. Louis before that.
Tags: Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, breakaway, Capitals, Ducks, hat trick, Honda Center, Jonas Hiller, Kings, NHL, short handed goal
The NHL couldn’t have scripted last night’s game with Crosby vs. Ovechkin better (though I’d bet they would have picked Pittsburgh to win, since they want the series to go to 7 games). In spite of the fact that Malkin won the NHL scoring title this year and until last night had more points than Sid in the playoffs, all the buzz has been about Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin. Alexander Semin had more points than Alex Ovechkin until last night, too. Now, advertising Sid vs. Alex seems to make sense. Crosby stands alone in 2nd place (behind Ryan Getzlaf and no one is going to talk about him – he’s from a southern California team that people still seem to think is lucky for having beaten the Sharks). Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin are tied for 3rd with 11 points, though Malkin’s 1.38 points per game beats Ovechkin’s 1.22. At least now they’re talking about the top scoring player on each team, which they weren’t before last night’s hat tricks.
Who would have ever guessed that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin would both get their first playoff hat tricks in the same game? The league really couldn’t have planned it better unless it was in game 7 of the conference finals. That would be a bit better. Otherwise, it was perfect. The two players the NHL cares to market both got their first playoff hat tricks in the same game. Alex’s third goal in his hat trick was the game winning goal. It really was perfect.
The only problem is that the NHL has no clue how to market itself. Drive around and look at the billboards in any major city and you’ll see ads for the MLB, NBA, NFL – I’ve even seen one for tennis. I’ve never seen a billboard with NHL stars telling me I should watch the NHL. Watch the NHL on NBC and you’ll see ads (I stopped fast forwarding to watch it, since it looked interesting) for watching poker. They even have a hockey themed ad for poker explaining how the games are similar and why those watching the NHL game should stay tuned and watch the poker tournament that follows. Conversely, if you watch the poker tournament or baseball or anything other than the NHL on any channel other than Versus, you’ll never see the NHL playoff ads. The NHL could really use a better marketing director.
Perhaps the NHL will prove me wrong this time, but I’d be completely stunned. They don’t seem to realize that advertising during a hockey game for a hockey game is pretty pointless. I’m already watching. Heck, knowing what channel Versus is on my DVR is a huge step – it’s something your average person on the street wouldn’t know. Ask them where they find ESPN, though, and I’d bet you get a much higher percentage of correct answers and 0% of the people going “What’s that?” Somehow, I think if you polled people on a street corner asking where they can find Versus on their cable or satellite, you’d get a lot of puzzled looks and people saying they’re not sure if they get that channel – and they might not. Versus is a part of my sports package, though ESPN & ESPN2 are both standard. Those of us who are already watching Versus don’t need to be convinced. We watched Sid and Alex both get their first playoff hat tricks last night, but non-hockey fans could have been won over last night. A lot of hockey fans who don’t normally watch other team’s games got sucked into the Ducks/Red Wings game Sunday, since it was exciting. A game going into 3OT where there is one winner and one loser (and no point for losing in overtime) is exciting – especially when it’s a fast-paced game like hockey. Since that game was on NBC, perhaps a few people who don’t normally watch hockey did stumble upon it and get sucked into the action, but without a better marketing strategy I don’t see how the NHL can improve their ratings.
Of course, some cities are better at advertising than others. This may be where some of the people saying that southern California shouldn’t have NHL teams get the support for their argument. In Pittsburgh, during the playoffs, there are banners all over. I drove through Anaheim Saturday night and there was no way anyone could possibly tell that just a few blocks away was the home of the Ducks – in round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. I don’t have experience with the surrounding areas of most teams in the playoffs, but I know that in Pittsburgh stores have signs in their windows and are happy about the Penguins being in the playoffs. That doesn’t happen around here and without the NHL having billboards or any other advertising to let people know, it’s no wonder people only care about the NBA playoffs. If you live in the US and haven’t seen a TNT billboard for the NBA, I’d be pretty surprised. I haven’t watched a playoff NBA game since Rick Fox played for the Lakers, but I know what channel it’s on if someone asked me in random conversation. It just goes to show you that the NBA knows how to advertise. I have a DVR and don’t even watch most games live, but I see ads in magazines and billboards. It would be nice if someday the random person on the street could tell me where you could find the NHL playoffs, just as someone who doesn’t care about the NBA playoffs still knows where to find them.
Tags: Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Capitals, Ducks, ESPN, Evgen, fans, hat trick, Hockey, MLB, NBA, NBC, NFL, NHL, overtime, Penguins, playoffs, Red Wings, Ryan Getzlaf, Sidney Crosby, TNT, Versus
Today, I watched the Rangers/Flyers game on NBC in HD and the Penguins/Bruins game (not on the NHL Network in HD, in spite of what the guide said – good thing I checked and recorded it on Center Ice where it was on in standard definition, but at least it was playing – the NHL Network chose to show replays of the Maple Leafs/Flames game from yesterday and then the Canadiens/Devils instead of airing the Penguins/Bruins game live. I can’t even begin to understand that programming choice, but I’m sure there was a good reason.
Those of you who watched the Penguins game know that Chris Kunitz (acquired from the Ducks in an early trade around the trade deadline along with Eric Tangradi for Ryan Whitney) scored his first hat trick with the Penguins… or did he? What you might not know if you didn’t look at the stats a while after the game is that Kunitz’s one goal (and, therefore, his hat trick) away. When I was watching the game, I didn’t think he had touched the puck (clearly they later found out that Kunitz hadn’t tipped the puck in), but I think there should be some time limit on when they can change the scoring of a goal in the NHL.
In talking to one of the NHL employees who works on that in Anaheim after the game, I found out that there really is no time limit. Guys sometimes remember after the game that they might have touched the puck or the team’s people look at the goals a little bit more closely and realize that a certain guy did or didn’t touch the puck. They said at that point it’s up to the main NHL office in Toronto to make the call and take closer looks at the goal and make the scoring change. It was my understanding that the Toronto office looked at every goal and closely analyzed it at the time of the goal, so I don’t really see how this can happen. I would assume the offices in Toronto have HD feed even though all games aren’t televised in HD and are looking at the goals very closely. I know the NHL officials at the rink don’t always have HD capabilities, but I assume that the office where they make all the final decisions has the latest technology and closely examines each goal right after it happens. It would seem in that case the goal scoring records would not need to be changed after the fact.
I don’t know exactly when Kunitz’s goal was taken away from him, but I know it wasn’t announced until after the game, since my dad (who was at today’s game in Pittsburgh) learned about the change while listening to the post game show on his way home from the game. Considering the fact that it was not a late goal, I think they should be able to make that call earlier and not change that late.
The goals are reviewed at the time for a reason. The goal announcements are often delayed as the NHL powers that be try to determine who scored a goal, the assists, etc. I think once the final whistle blows all goals (other than the goal or goals in the last couple minutes of the game) should be finalized and no more changes should be made to the scoring. Would mistakes be made occasionally? Sure. Mistakes are made sometimes in baseball and football on whether a home run is a home run or should be called a foul ball. They review the plays at the time and sometimes they make the wrong call. In hockey, they’re not taking back a goal – that is reviewed at the time and I’ve never heard of a goal being disallowed after the fact. Changing who scored a goal is clearly not as drastic a change, but I still think it’s something they should determine in a specified amount of time.
Tags: Bruins, Canadiens, Chris Kunitz, Devils, Flames, Flyers, hat trick, HD, Hockey, Maple Leafs, NBC, NHL, NHL Network, Penguins, Rangers, Ryan Whitney
Yes, I realize that the Mellon Arena (which I’ll always think of as the Civic Arena or the Igloo) will be around for more than another full NHL season. However, tonight’s Penguins game was probably the last game I’ll see there in person. Sure, I’ll see tons of games on Center Ice, but it’s never the same as being there.
Though the Penguins didn’t win tonight, all Penguins fans should be happy with the way the Penguins played. They outshot the Canadiens 34-19. Though the Penguins’ power play definitely looked like what it is at the moment (a power play most teams have no need to fear that’s only ranked at about the middle of the NHL), they shot the puck. As most Penguins fans know, the Penguins are ranked last in shots on goal (with an average of only 26.8 shots per game going into tonight’s game against the Habs). Shooting the puck more is definitely a good place to start. The Penguins haven’t won two games in a row since Fleury got injured (they won 6 in a row from 11/1 – 11/15 and then hit a very rough patch.
Fleury has been playing very well since his return. If the Penguins can play like they did tonight in front of him consistently they’re bound to string together a bunch of wins sometime soon.
It was hardly a high point as a Penguins fan, Andrei Kostitsyn scored his first NHL hat trick tonight at the Igloo. I always like seeing a player score their first hat trick, even if it does mean that ‘my team’ ends up losing. It’s always sad to see a player get their first hat trick that away from home, though. Even the fairly large group of Canadiens (on his side of the ice when he scored his 3rd goal) didn’t throw any hats onto the ice.
Since I’ll always be a Penguins fan at heart, it’s been frustrating for me to hear Therrien talk about how his team isn’t prepared. Correct me if I’m wrong, but getting them prepared is the most important part of his job. He has such a talented group of players. If he can’t get them motivated, perhaps he’s not the right guy for the job.
I wish I could travel back to see the team that first made me fall in love with hockey more often, but travel is a bit too expensive for that at the moment. I’m really glad I got to see a couple more games in the Igloo before the new arena (which we recently earned will be the Consol Energy Center for its first 15 years) opens. The Penguins lost both of those games (and played horribly against the Lightning just before Christmas), but they played really in the last game I’ll see them play in the arena. I even got to see them wear their third jerseys in person. I may not be a huge fan of the baby blue jerseys, but at least they’re a colorful glimpse of the Penguins’ past.
On a bright note, the last two games I saw in the Igloo were accompanied by my other favorite team (the Los Angeles Kings) shutting out their opponents on the road (Jonathan Quick got both of them and had not gotten a shutout in the NHL until December 23rd. What a way for him to end the calendar year. At least one of my teams won each night.
Tags: Andrei Kostitsyn, Canadiens, Center Ice, fans, hat trick, Hockey, Igloo, Jonathan Quick, Kings, Lightning, Marc-Andre Fleury, Mellon Arena, Michel Therrien, NHL, Penguins, power play, shutout
David Booth, who scored his first NHL point against Jean-Sebastian Giguere & the Anaheim Ducks on December 12, 2008, got his first NHL hat trick tonight in Anaheim. Booth’s three goals were the only goals the Panthers scored tonight, but they were all Florida needed to beat the Ducks.
Craig Anderson made 44 saves and had a save percentage of 97.8% in the win that broke the Panthers’ 6 game losing streak and ended their 5 game road trip on a positive note. The Ducks out-shot the Panthers 45-26, but Giguere couldn’t hold off enough of their shots. In the Ducks’ last two games, Giguere’s had a save percentage of 82%. The Ducks were all pretty sluggish in their last couple games and it’s clear that they need to do something to get the team going back in the right direction. The crowd at the Honda Center reflected the recent performance. Though the attendance announced was 16,951, there were a lot fewer people at the game.
In other sad news for southern California residents who wanted to watch the game at home, FSN Prime Ticket opted to show the game only in standard definition. Anyone out of the area who has Center Ice could get the game in HD from Fox Sports Florida. Of course, the bright side of the southern CA fans not getting tonight’s game in HD is that they did not have to put up with the “rinkside view” they hate so much. Most people I’ve talked to would choose to watch the game in standard definition the traditional way to watching “rinkside view” in HD, which is a very strong statement. Most HD viewers get spoiled with HD and will choose what they watch partially based on what shows/games are available in HD.
Tags: attendance, Craig Anderson, David Booth, Ducks, fans, FSN, hat trick, HD, Hockey, Jean-Sebastian Giguere, NHL, Panthers, rinkside view