Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t give up 5 goals in a game often, but when he does it seems to be in surprising situations (like to the NY Islanders early in the season). Lundqvist has two shutouts in his last seven games and hadn’t given up five goals himself since November 24th in Tampa Bay. He faced only one more shot than Dan Ellis and gave up three more goals. I’m sure that’s not what Rangers fans were expecting after the display against the Flyers Sunday. Most Rangers fans are probably wondering what team will show up for the game in San Jose and whether their team will squeak into a playoff spot in the east or drop out of the playoffs, since many teams around them have a couple games in hand against them.
Ducks fans are also dealing with a roller coaster watching their team play lately. The Ducks were shut out against the Canucks (the number one team in the league, but the way they played was more disturbing than the score), but won four of their last five games. The down side, of course, is that before the last five games the Ducks had lost five in a row. Before that, they’d won five in a row, though. The team has been very streaky all season and fans are hoping they can make that a winning streak for long enough that they’ll end up in the playoffs. Their win tonight put the Ducks back in 10th place in the western conference. The playoff battle is definitely going to go down to the wire again this season. The Kings won tonight and the Stars got a point in the standings with an overtime loss.
Lubomir Visnovsky has five goals and two assists in his last three games. He had a hat trick and an assist against Dallas and two goals and an assist against the Rangers. Lubo hitting his stride is something Ducks fans are hoping will help their team squeak into the playoffs this season. They missed the playoffs last season and don’t want their team to be sitting at home after the regular season again.
Tags: Canucks, Dan Ellis, Ducks, fans, Flyers, Henrik Lundqvist, Hockey, Islanders, Kings, Lightning, losing streak, Lubomir Visnovsky, NHL, playoffs, Rangers, standings, Stars, winning streak
It may be early and Terry Murray may not pay attention to the standings much, but the fans know that their Los Angeles Kings are #1 in the west and #2 in the NHL after their league leading 8th home win in a row to start the season. The Kings are also tied with the Ducks for the longest current NHL winning streak with six games. Their penalty kill is still perfect at home (and their overall pk is also #1 in the NHL). Their top line had points in 4 of their 5 goals including a goal on the first shot of the game and one on a beautiful penalty shot by Dustin Brown. As Kopi said, “it’s nice to see him get one of the nicer goals.” Brown said, “I had a plan at center and I switched about the blue line.” He mentioned that he has three moves that he does and two come off that move to the right. He said he just “pulled a Kopi and slid it five hole.” The penalty shot might not be as rare as it was in the past, but those goals are still special for the players and their fans.
Justin Williams tied his career high point streak of 9 games with his goal against the Islanders. Jonathan Quick has consistently been one of the leading goaltenders in the league (and had a save percentage of almost 95% tonight). The Kings even scored on the power play (not the Kings’ strong suit this season) against the Islanders. What more could LA Kings fans ask of their team? It really doesn’t get much better than this as a fan. It’s good to be the Kings and their fans this season.
A couple years ago, the Kings would have started slow against the last place team in the NHL. They didn’t do that against the last place New York Islanders. Instead, the Kings came out strong and extended the Islanders’ league leading losing streak to ten games.
Southern California is not the place to visit if you’re on any other team in the NHL this season. The SoCal home teams have lost only 2 games this season and gone without a point in a game only once.
Possibly one of the best signs for Kings fans is that it’s getting better all the time. The last few games, the Kings’ top line seems to have clicked. Kopi has 7 points in the last three games, Brown has 5, & Parse has 3. Kopitar scored his 300th career NHL point with his second goal of the game against the Islanders (and the 301st with his assist in the last Kings goal). When asked about what changed for his line, Kopitar said he thought they’d been making good plays without getting any results, “but now we get a few bounces here and there and we score a couple goals and then the confidence gets high and everything seems a lot easier.” That’s really how things have been going for the Kings all season. Many players have talked about how everything seems to go your way when you’re winning. When things are going well for your team, all the bounces seem to go your way. The Kings are continuing to work hard in every game and not phoning it in – ever. The team clearly enjoys being on the top of the standings and having other teams have to come into Staples Center to play up to the Kings’ level of play and not the other way around. Teams coming to LA know they’re going to have a tough time and play harder as a result.
This year’s Kings remind me a lot of the Penguins of 2008, though they have a better record. They were knocked out of the playoffs (many of the players’ first in their NHL career) early last season and they’re clearly determined to do better this season. Before the season started, I said I thought the Kings would be in the conference finals and perhaps even the Stanley Cup Finals. The more I see of this team, the more I believe they’ve got the right mindset and skill set to go deep into the playoffs.
The Kings travel to San Jose to face the Sharks Monday night. That’s always a tough building and the team knows they have to take their A game with them to San Jose. Clearly, the team hopes to continue their winning streak there.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Hockey, Islanders, Jonathan Quick, Justin Williams, Kings, losing streak, NHL, penalty kill, penalty shot, playoffs, power play, Scott Parse, Sharks, Stanley Cup Finals, Staples Center, Terry Murray, winning streak
Last night, the Anaheim Ducks extended their winning streak to five games, while extending the New York Islanders’ losing streak (the longest in the NHL) to eight games.
At the start of this week (before Sunday’s game against the Nashville Predators), the Ducks were ranked 12th in the western conference. Just three games later, the Ducks are now in 5th place in the west. The Ducks are currently tied (with the Washington Capitals, 1st in the NHL) for the leading winning streak (5 games). Anaheim has played more games than anyone in the NHL other than Chicago, so their standings are a bit inflated at the moment (three of the teams ahead of the Ducks in the conference, including the first place Kings, have played four fewer games).
In spite of their poor play, the Ducks have been finding ways to win. Not only do they have a 5 game winning streak, their record at home is 6-1-1. Very few teams in the NHL beat that. The Ducks realize they haven’t been playing at their best and they’re still managing to win games. Perhaps that knowledge is in the back of their minds making it difficult for them to give their all every night. Last night’s poor effort in the first period (only one shot on goal, which came short handed with less than 2 minutes remaining in the period) may be explained by the Ducks having played the night before in San Jose. After winning 5 games in a row, it’s hard to get into bad the team has looked overall in those games. Randy Carlyle often says he’s not going to analyze a win and with a winning streak like this, who can blame him? A win is a win, when all is said and done. The wins you don’t deserve count just as much as the wins where you completely shut down your opponent and outplayed them. The Ducks now have a winning record 9-7-1 and seem determined to keep their winning streak alive.
Tags: Blackhawks, Capitals, Ducks, Hockey, Honda Center, Islanders, Kings, NHL, Predators, Randy Carlyle, Sharks, standings
The Penguins fans said goodbye to the Igloo. The Mellon Arena (which some of us will always think of as the Civic Arena) has seen its last NHL game. Though the Penguins fans were surely sad about the game tonight, they cheered at the end to support their team’s efforts and say goodbye to the arena that has been the home of the Penguins since their start in 1967. I haven’t been to all the NHL arenas yet, but the closing of the Igloo means the oldest arena in the NHL is now the Madison Square Garden (the 4th), which has been used since 1968. Though the Islanders’ Nassau Memorial Coliseum (1972) is often mentioned as the worst arena in the NHL (it’s my least favorite of those I’ve visited), it is still not the oldest. The Islanders are the only pre-90s NHL team still playing in their original home as of the start of the 2010-11 season. Clearly, a lot of the newer teams have yet to move, but the Islanders have been around since they started in 1972. Though there has been talk of a new arena for the Islanders for ages, I hear the situation is a lot more complicated than fans would like and that it’s not possible for them to get a new arena any time soon.
The Penguins were knocked out of the playoffs tonight by the Canadiens, who have taken the 2010 playoffs by storm first by knocking out the number one Washington Capitals. Now, they’ve knocked out the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
The Cup hasn’t been won by a Canadian team since the Habs last won the Cup (when they beat the LA Kings in 1993). Perhaps it’s destiny. This year’s Penguins had a lot in common with the 1993 Penguins. Everyone seemed to think the 1993 Penguins would win the Cup for the third year in a row. Instead, they were knocked out in the second round of the playoffs by the NY Islanders. This year, they were knocked out in the second round by the Canadiens, but the stories are very similar. Though more people expected the Penguins to win the Cup in 1993 than predicted they’d win this year, the Pens were the defending Stanley Cup Champions and all the pressure was on them. Perhaps even a bit more pressure than in 1993, since this is the last year the Penguins will play in their original home and this time around the Penguins hadn’t yet won back to back Stanley Cups.
I haven’t had a chance to talk to many Penguins fans about the loss yet, but I’m guessing fans will be split between wanting the Canadiens to win the Cup so their team will have at least lost to the Stanley Cup Champions and those who want to see the Habs go down, since they took out their team. Either way, this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs have been more interesting than most and in spite of seeing both of my teams knocked out, I’ve been enjoying the games. Two game 7s in the first and second rounds of the playoffs. No sweeps as of the end of the second round of the playoffs… Underdogs taking down teams many thought couldn’t be beaten (at least not yet)… This year’s playoffs have everything. I hope you’ve been enjoying them as much as I have.
Tags: arenas, Canadiens, Capitals, Islanders, Madison Square Garden, Mellon Arena, Nassau Memorial Coliseum, Penguins, playoffs, Stanley Cup
What a game. I don’t know about all Penguins fans, but this Penguins fan has a sore neck. It’s amazing how stressful just watching a game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals can be… When watching the horrible game 5 at Diesel on the south side in Pittsburgh, Bryan Trottier mentioned that he was just watching this year as a fan and that it was very stressful to be a fan watching your team in the Finals. Hearing that from a guy who won the Cup six times (4 with the Islanders, 2 with the Penguins) as a player and once as an assistant coach (with the Avalanche) was pretty surprising.
In Pittsburgh, it would have been simple to pick a bar for watching game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals and you probably couldn’t have made a bad choice. Every bar was surely filled with fans wanting the Penguins would win and the fact that the NBA wasn’t playing tonight didn’t matter as much to Penguins fans in Pittsburgh as it did to hockey fans in southern California. Here, most people care more about the Lakers than they do two out of town teams in the NHL Finals. Heck, even if the Ducks or Kings were in the Finals, I’d bet a lot of money that more people would care about the Lakers being in the Finals.
I went to my favorite local sports bar (The Corner Office) with a friend figuring there were bound to be other hockey fans there watching the game and I was right. I left work a half hour early and we just barely got there in time to get one of my 5 favorite booths in front of the big screens. There was another fan in a Penguins jersey (also Mario Lemieux), a fan in a Red Wings jersey, one in a Red Wings t-shirt, etc. More people in the bar seemed to want the Penguins to win, but there were fans on both sides. The Corner Office even put the sound on for the game, which I didn’t expect. Could we hear it most of the time? Not really, but the bar tried and I think that was really nice of them.
Game 7s don’t happen every year in the Finals, but they are a lot of fun when they do. The Penguins/Red Wings series was an exciting one, in spite of the blow-out in game 5 (where the Red Wings won 5-0). The 7th game lived up to my expectations. The game wasn’t over until the buzzer sounded. It was exciting and Penguins fans everywhere went crazy. I’m sure many of them worried when Sidney Crosby went down, but Max Talbot was amazing and gets the Stanley Cup winning goal, which he definitely deserved. Marc-Andre Fleury made some amazing saves, including one highlight reel save that will even show up on ESPN over and over, I’m sure. Dan Bylsma came a long way in a short period of time. From assistant AHL coach to Stanley Cup Champion head NHL coach. It must seem like a bit of a blur for him, but he’s done an amazing job and deserves a lot of credit for the turnaround the Penguins made this season.
Sidney Crosby may not have played much in game 7 (he didn’t even get to 10 minutes, due to his injury), but he was still the youngest captain in NHL history to lead his team to a Stanley Cup victory and raise the Cup. Evgeni Malkin became only the 5th player in history to win the regular and Stanley Cup playoff scoring titles (he also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP). Marc-Andre Fleury proved he can play with the best of them and Marian Hossa chose the wrong team. Of course, there’s always the question of whether the Penguins would have been able to keep the necessary players (like Brooks Orpik) or afford the late season additions that allowed them to win the Cup this year. The NHL Network mentioned that Maxime Talbot specifically said he wanted to meet up with Hossa in the hand shake line and tell him he picked the wrong team. Clearly, he got to do that and I’m sure he enjoyed it as much as he thought he would.
The Penguins didn’t make the playoff run easy for the fans. The Washington series was rough, but the Finals against the Red Wings were even more difficult. Pittsburgh has two reigning teams (the Penguins and Steelers). A friend of mine mentioned that the pressure is on the Pirates now, which is (of course – if you know anything about baseball) hilarious, since the Pirates are most likely to become the team with the longest streak of losing seasons in MLB history this year. Of course, the other end of the state (Philadelphia Phillies) is the home of the reigning World Series champions. Three out of the four top professional team sports – not a bad year for Pennsylvania sports.
Now, we can all look forward to next week’s NHL Awards ceremony and the draft.
Tags: Bryan Trottier, Dan Bylsma, Ducks, Evgeni Malkin, fans, Hockey, Islanders, Kings, Lakers, Marc-Andre Fleury, Mario Lemieux, Maxime Talbot, MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, Penguins, Phillies, Pirates, playoffs, Red Wings, Sidney Crosby, sports bar, Stanley Cup Finals, Steelers
At this point in the season, a lot of teams are normally set in stone for the playoffs. The eastern conference has 3 teams that have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs (Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and NY Islanders) and Boston has clinched their division title/playoff spot. The western conference is a lot more up in the air. Other than San Jose (clinched the division title & playoff spot) and Detroit (clinched playoff spot), everything in the western conference is up in the air. The closer it gets to the playoffs, the less likely it is for some of the lower teams to make it into the playoffs, but there is definitely a lot more excitement this year surrounding the playoff race than I can remember in recent years.
It’s been suggested that this is largely due to the points for losing in overtime and shootouts. I didn’t feel like completely redoing the standings again this year to figure out if that’s the case. I suspect that the points for losing are a factor. Teams have been moving in and out of the playoffs for weeks in the western conference and it seems very likely that the last day or two of the season (April 11 & 12) will be very important to some of the teams in the western conference.
In spite of all the people I’ve heard who believe so strongly that the western conference is the stronger/tougher conference (due to the top two NHL teams coming from the west), teams in the eastern conference need 83 points to be in playoff standing (Montreal is in 8th place with 83 points). Teams like Edmonton (in 7th place in the west with 79 points), Anaheim (currently in 8th in the west with 78 points), and Nashville (tied with Anaheim in points, but with fewer wins) would be in 9th – 11th place in the eastern conference. The 6th place team in the western conference would just barely beat out the Montreal Canadiens for the 8th spot if the Blue Jackets were competing in the other conference. The eastern conference has more teams in the 80s & 90s than the west. Of course, the fact that each team doesn’t play every team from the opposing conference at home and away each year makes it even more difficult to argue either side of that dispute, but I think it’s worth thinking about the fact that the teams in the last two playoff spots in the west (a quarter of the qualifying teams) would not be in the playoffs if they had to qualify by the eastern conference point scale.
Tags: Blue Jackets, Bruins, Canadiens, Ducks, Hockey, Islanders, Lightning, NHL, Oilers, playoffs, Predators, Red Wings, Sharks, Thrashers
I’m a big fan of the NHL in HD and although I don’t think Versus covers the games as well as ESPN did or as NBC, CBC, TSN, MSG, or most of the FSN & other sports stations that air NHL games, I love the fact that Versus has the games they show on in HD – every single one of them. Between them, NBC, the NHL Network, and Center Ice’s HD channel, there’s almost always a game on in HD.
That being said, I thought it was pretty sad that the only HD game (in fact, the only game) in the NHL today was the last place teams of each conference (Colorado Avalanche at New York Islanders). I’m sure when Versus picked this game for national coverage they never imagined it would be the two last place teams against each other. However, it seems like they might want to consider NBC’s way of choosing what games they’re going to put on national TV. I’ll watch almost any hockey game, but even I didn’t actually care about today’s game.
The Islanders are still 10 points behind the Avalanche after tonight’s game and seem to have last place in the NHL sewn up, since they’re also 5 points behind the Atlanta Thrashers.
It’s still a very tight competition in the western conference this season. The last place Avs are only 10 points behind the 8th place Ducks, though they are the only team in the conference that’s played as many games as the Ducks so far this season.
Clearly, the next couple days will be exciting. It’s always interesting at this time of the season and the crazy rumors seem to be flying around as usual. Every fan wants to believe their team can end up getting that essential player without giving up anyone important, but we all know that’s not how it works.
Enjoy the trade deadline madness.
Tags: Avalanche, CBC, Ducks, FSN, HD, Hockey, Islanders, MSG, NBC, NHL, rumors, Thrashers, trade deadline, TSN, Versus