Friday, 2 March 2007

Casual Observations

The game of hockey is such a dynamic sport that people forget that after all the Bettman-bashing, all the complaining about rule changes, and all the trying to make the game better than what it is, we miss out on some very interesting little footnotes. It is these footnotes that hold the key to why the game of hockey is so good. Without them, the little side stories wouldn't develop, the players wouldn't be as passionate, and the fans may not notice the game as much as we do. It's the little details that make the big picture so good, and today, I want to bring to light some casual observations that I've noticed over the last couple of days.

- The Edmonton Oilers have scored a grand total of zero goals in two games since trading Ryan Smyth, having lost 3-0 to Phoenix and 5-0 to Minnesota. I said they were going to end up in 10th place in the Western Conference. Little did I know that they'd take me up on it so quickly. At this rate, Los Angeles may catch them.

- The Vancouver Canucks have now gone 20-4-4 since Christmas with their victory over Phoenix last night, best in the NHL over that stretch. This might be the reason they are leading the Northwest Division, and why Alain Vigneault should garner a few votes for Coach of the Year. Oh, and that Luongo guy may get a few MVP votes too.

- From Jay Onrait's blog on

Ryan Smyth signed 5-year extension for a reported 27 mil. - Steph

JO: So I guess it's official then. "Eklund" is a woman and her name is Steph.

- Alexander Ovechkin is 7-for-24 in shootouts this season. Why does Glen Hanlon have him shoot last of the three shooters? Sidney Crosby is a woeful 2-for-10. Why does he shoot last for Pittsburgh?

- The most-reliable shootout player this season is the Minnesota Wild's Petteri Nummelin who is 6-for-6 in the shooutout. He's also a defenseman. Mikko Koivu of Minnesota has the most goals, going 8-for-14 so far this season.

- Johan Holmqvist of the Tampa Bay Lightning has the best save percentage for a goalie with more than one shootout appearance this season. To date, Holmqvist has stopped 26 of 27 shots in six shootout victories and has not lost. Ryan Miller of the Barney Rubble Hairpieces has the most shootout wins, going 10-3 while stopping 36 of 43 shots.

- The Atlanta Thrashers are the best-shooting team in the shootout, scoring 12 goals in 21 shots for a rate of 57.1%. The worst-shooting team is the Carolina Hurricanes who have scored one goal on 15 shots for a rate of 6.7%.

- Rod "The Bod" Brind'Amour is the only Hurricane to have scored in a shootout in a 'Canes jersey this season. Anson Carter has scored as well, but he did it in a Blue Jackets jersey.

- The leading goal scorer to date is Vincent Lecavalier of the Tampa Bay Lightning with 42 goals. However, in shootouts, Lecavalier has shown little flair, scoring three goals on eleven shots.

- The Calgary Flames are a league-best 27-6-1 at home, but a league-worst 7-15-8 away from Calgary. The Philadephia Flyers have the worst home record at 5-18-7. The Barney Rubble Hairpieces have the best road record at 20-9-2.

- Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Ducks has scored 20 powerplay goals this season, tops in the NHL. However, the most powerplay points goes to Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has eight goals and forty assists for 48 powerplay points.

- Jordan Staal of the Pittsburgh Penguins leads the way in shorthanded goal-scoring with six. Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning has the most shorthanded points, scoring four goals and five assists for nine points.

- Henrik Zetterberg is the league's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Zetterberg's is currently a +26 this season. However, he is +29 at home, and -3 on the road. I guess there is no place like home. And it doesn't just affect him. The plus/minus leader in the league is Niklas Lidstrom who leads with +39. However, he is a +29 at home, but only a +10 on the road. Jason Pominville of the Barney Rubble Hairpieces, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of Henrik Zetterberg. Pominville currently is +22 for the season. At home, he is an average +3, but on the road, he is a +19. Daniel Briere follows the same trend as he is +3 at home, but +15 on the road. If Buffalo and Detroit meet in the Stanley Finals, they could break scoring records.
The Score's Ultimate 64 Highlights has another hockey highlight today.

Denis Savard scores a brilliant shorthanded goal against the Oilers. After turning Glenn Anderson into his shadow, he goes through Messier, Tikkanen, Lacombe and Kevin Lowe before beating Grant Fuhr.

After that beauty goal, I'm out of here. Keep your sticks on the ice!

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