Brian Burke and Francois Beauchemin had triumphant returns to Honda Center and the Ducks took some careless penalties as they lost to the Maple Leafs at home. Toronto hadn’t won a single game and only had one point in their first 8 games of the season. Only one team had failed to beat the Maple Leafs in regulation, but the Ducks managed to take enough penalties to make the Leafs’ 6-3 win possible with only one even strength goal.
The Ducks took a total of 17 penalties for 45 penalty minutes tonight. Anaheim’s first goal was definitely suspect and watching it again at home in HD on FSN after the game, it was easier to see why Ron Wilson took the bench minor for “abuse of officials” after they didn’t make the call to wave the Ducks’ goal off due to goaltender interference. I’ve definitely seen goals called off for a lot less, but unfortunately for the Maple Leafs goaltender interference is not something they can review – if it’s not called on the ice, the goal stands. At least the goal didn’t end up making the difference in the game. If it had, I’m sure Ron Wilson would have been irate. In spite of having the first power play of the game and a middle of the league power play against the Maple Leafs’ dead last in the league (before the start of tonight’s game – the Ducks may have helped the Leafs in that area) penalty kill, the Ducks only had three power play chances and went 1 for 3 on the power play tonight. The Leafs also took quite a few penalties (10 penalties for 31 minutes), but most of them were offset by the Ducks’ penalties. The Maple Leafs went 5 for 11 on the power play tonight. The Toronto power play was only 12th in the league (22.2%) at the start of the game, but their 45% power play in tonight’s game is better than the best power play in the league (the Calgary Flames, 32.3%).
While I’m sure there are a couple goals Hiller would like to have back, I’m sure the Ducks fans know that he and his 85% save percentage were not the real problem. Most of the goals were scored on the power play (3 scored with a 2 man advantage). Randy Carlyle stuck with his goalie and didn’t pull him from the game when he knew it wasn’t Hiller’s fault that the Ducks were doing poorly. The real problem tonight was the Ducks’ lack of control. The Ducks’ bad penalty killing can’t even be blamed. What team could be expected to survive the penalties the Ducks took in their game against the Maple Leafs?
Hagman’s hat trick led the way for the Maple Leafs and though most of the fans left in the building as he scored his 3rd goal of the game were Toronto fans, no hats made it to the ice. Kaberle had a goal and 4 assists and Stempniak had 4 points (1-3) in the Maple Leafs’ big win against the Ducks.
I was talking to a friend who has Ducks season tickets before the game. He was planning on going to the game with a friend who’s a Maple Leafs fan and said that his goal was to “see one of the bottom teams in the league win a game.” He knew he couldn’t lose with that goal, since the Ducks were one of the bottom teams in the NHL and the Maple Leafs are still in last place even though they finally got their first win against the Ducks.
It’s early in the season (only 9-12 games of the 82 in the season have been played by teams at this point), but the games at the beginning of the season count as much as the games at the end and teams like the Maple Leafs and Ducks have to be hoping that they find the right combination soon. The Ducks did make major changes to their top lines and their defensive pairings, but after the preseason and 10 games of the season, one would expect them to be getting used to each other and finding chemistry somehow. If they’re not, perhaps the lines aren’t set the way they should be yet. Maybe some more line changes need to be made.
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.
I know there is a lot of debate about the idea of mascots not fitting in with the hockey world, etc. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed NHL mascots. Perhaps that’s because Iceburgh (the mascot of the Penguins, my first NHL team) is so entertaining. The way he plays around is fun to watch and he doesn’t disrupt the game at all, so I don’t understand the harm. Depending on the counts you use and what you count as a mascot, 24 (or 25) of the 30 NHL teams have mascots. If you haven’t been lucky enough to see all of them, you can click here to see pictures of all 24 mascots. Four of the original six teams have mascots, including the Canadiens and Maple Leafs. Since most of the arguments I’ve heard about hockey not being a place for mascots say that they take their hockey more seriously in Canada, I find it interesting that the two original six teams from Canada, as well as the Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators, & Calgary Flames have team mascots. This makes the Edmonton Oilers the only team in Canada without a mascot. Clearly it’s not simply an issue with being serious about hockey. Mascots entertain kids and older fans when they’re not overly intrusive and distracting. If used properly, I think a good mascot can add to the experience of a great night of hockey.
The video my sister posted today on her Facebook page made me think about this. If you want to see a hilarious campaign video for Iceburgh, check this out: