It’s been a few weeks since I’ve penned ATL and some interesting and surprising things have occurred in the hockey world.
In Canada, the announcement of the Olympic men’s hockey team was debated heavily. I was surprised to read that the biggest outcry, outside of Flames fans moaning about the exclusion of all of their big-three D-men, was that Mike Green didn’t make the team.
Many said he was the best offensive D-man, especially as the quarterback on the powerplay. Green is a great on the powerplay and in the offensive zone, and his 46 points is tops amongst D-men. But he has 22 points on the PP, while Drew Doughty has 20 PP points for the Kings. Dan Boyle has 19, Pronger 16, Niedermayer 15, Weber 14, Keith 11 and Seabrook has six.
The Capitals have scored 43 PP goals and Green has been in on 51% of their PP goals. The Kings have 36 PP goals and Doughty has been in on 55% of them. Green plays with Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Nick Backstrom on the PP, while Doughty has Anze Kopitar, Alex Frolov and when healthy Jarret Stoll and Ryan Smyth.
I like Green, but few realize how good Doughty is. His defensive game is much better than Green’s and when you look at his offence on the powerplay, don’t be surprised to see Doughty on the PP at times in the Olympics.
I was surprised Jay Bouwmeester didn’t make it, but his lack of playoff experience was probably the deciding factor. The only year he’s ever played in the playoffs was during the lockout when he played 18 games with the Chicago Wolves and registered ZERO points. In seven NHL seasons and three WHL seasons he hasn’t played in the postseason, and I have to think that was a major reason he was excluded. Not to mention no points in 18 AHL playoff games.
I’m still stunned that Patrice Bergeron made the team, but clearly Yzerman and company had good reason to choose him; I just don’t see it. His broken thumb should only keep him out another week, so barring another injury he will be in Vancouver on the 15th of February.
In the NHL Micheal Leighton is playing out of his mind in Philadelphia. He is 8-0-1 with the Flyers (although he was pulled v. Ottawa but got a no decision) and has a 2.22 GAA and a .925 SV%. I’d be stunned if he kept it up because prior to this season he’d never won more than six games and has been mostly a minor leaguer. With Ray Emery set to return the Flyers have to waive Leighton or Boucher. I think Peter Laviolette’s best option right now is to play Leighton until he comes back to reality.
Before Christmas the LA Kings were four points behind San Jose in the Pacific division and comfortably in the playoffs. Three weeks later they are 14 points behind them and precariously close to falling out of the playoffs with the Red Wings a point behind while the surging Wild is only two back. The Kings might need a shake up… Souray anyone?

Ice women of the week

Here is a photo that should cover everyone’s taste; Ginger, blonde, brunette and dark hair. The Panthers actually have 21 ice dancers, and they need all of them to keep the fans entertained because once again it looks like the Panthers won’t make the playoffs.
Candra, Sophia, Kelli (Assistant Director), Tere, Monica, Simona

Random thoughts

Can you name the four first overall picks that won the Calder Trophy and are now in the Hall of Fame? (answer at bottom)
  • I believe that Stephane Auger said something close to what Alexandre Burrows accused him of, but I’m more interested in what the league, or more importantly director of officiating Terry Gregson, said to Auger. I doubt we will ever know, but when the playoff assignments are handed out if Auger is there I’d be stunned. This was a case of he said he said, so it would have been impossible to convict Auger, but I doubt Burrows’ fabricated the entire story, so the league can quietly punish Auger by not giving him any playoff games. We’ll find out in April.
  • Blues new head coach, Davis Payne, seemed like a surprise choice until you looked at his resume. In seven seasons in the ECHL he compiled an impressive 289-142-45 record. He won a Kelly Cup Championship in 2006, and became only the second coach in ECHL history to get his team to the final four in three consecutive seasons. He’s paid his dues. And under the “did you know file”: The Oilers drafted him 140th overall in 1989. He ended up playing 22 games for Bruins over two seasons and registered one assist.
  • The Flames have scored more than three goals only once in their last 21 games. I don’t see them going anywhere in the playoffs if they can’t score. Only Phoenix has scored fewer goals amongst western playoff teams. I know the Flames rely on the defensive zone coverage and goaltending to win, but if they can’t score they won’t be able to shut down Chicago or San Jose and the Avalanche own them. Darryl Sutter has to be looking for some offence in the next six weeks, and if he wants a true scorer he might have to dangle Phaneuf or Regehr.
  • Currently Carolina is the only Eastern organization that has never had a first overall pick in the NHL entry draft. But Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, San Jose, Anaheim, Minnesota and Nashville have yet to have the first pick. The Oilers could become the first western Canadian team to have the first pick this summer.
  • Colorado, Phoenix, Dallas and New Jersey haven’t had the first pick in their current city but the Nordiques, Jets, North Stars and Rockies did.
  • The Kings have had one first overall pick and he was a bust. They chose Rick Pagnutti in 1967, and he never played a game in the NHL.
  • In the last 20 years the only first picks that became busts were Alexandre Daigle (1993) and Patrick Stefan (1999). Some might argue that Rick DiPietro is a bust, but injuries have been his demise.
  • Henrik Sedin is the leading candidate to win the Hart trophy and that could be the biggest surprise of the season. If you asked any hockey fan, media member, player, coach or GM to submit a list of their ten favourites to win at the start of the season I doubt he would have been on anyone’s list. Up until this season it was always Henrik and Daniel, rarely did you talk about one without the other. But Henrik’s play has everyone’s attention and I’m stunned how well he has played.
  • The Anaheim Ducks have inquired about Ethan Moreau. They have won five straight and are only four points behind the 8th place Kings. The Ducks have room to add Moreau’s salary which today would roughly be an $860,000 cap hit. It isn’t imminent but the Ducks have made some calls.

Leader through the season

Here are the top ten in pts, goals, assists and other stats.
31: Patrick Marleau
30: Sidney Crosby
28: Alex Ovechkin and Marian Gaborik
27: Dany Heatley
26: Ilya Kovalchuk
25: Steven Stamkos
21: Jarome Iginla and Dustin Penner
20: Henrik Sedin, Alex Burrows, Zach Parise, Bobby Ryan and Mike Cammalleri
***Rick Nash hasn’t scored a goal in three weeks. Alex Burrows has nine goals in his last five games***
49: Joe Thornton
44: Henrik Sedin
40: Martin St. Louis
39: Brad Richards
36: Tomas Plekanec
35: Tomas Kaberle
34: Mike Green
28: Nicklas Backstrom, Paul Stastny, Patrick Kane Ryan Getzlaf and Duncan Keith
***Plekanec hasn’t had an assist in three weeks****
64: H. Sedin
60: Thornton
57: Crosby and Ovechkin
54: Gaborik
52: Backstrom, Kane, St.Louis and B. Richards
51: Heatley
***H. Sedin has 17 points in his last ten games***
+26: Jeff Schultz
+23: Ovechkin
+22: Parise and Brent Seabrook
+19: Jonathon Toews, Christian Ehrhoff, Chris Pronger and Burrows
+18: H.Sedin, Marleau, Matt Carle and Brian Campbell
*** Rod Brind’Amour has relinquished the Green Jacket as Patrick O’Sullivan and Shawn Horcoff have moved into the lead tied at -21. Brind’amour and Richard Park sit at -20.
PP Goals:
Twelve: Gaborik
Eleven: Heatley
Nine: Ryan Smyth, Steven Stamkos, Mike Richards and Kovalchuk
Eight: John Tavares, Niclas Bergfors, Andrew Brunette, Mason Raymond, Crosby and Marleau
182: Cal Clutterbuck
163: Stephane Robidas
161: Dustin Brown
159: Ryan Callahan
149: Steve Ott
147: Brooks Orpik
144: Matt Greene
141: Doug Murray
138: Brendan Morrow
137: Chris Neil
203: Ovechkin
200: Parise
191: Jeff Carter
182: Crosby
178: Rick Nash
167: Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and Marleau
166: Gaborik
162: Radim Vrbata
***Answer: The four first overall picks who have won the Calder and are in th Hall of Fame… Gilbert Perreault, Denis Potvin, Dale Hawerchuk and Mario Lemieux.***

Final Points

There are only three teams who look completely out of the race today; Oilers, Hurricanes and Leafs. The Blues and Blue Jackets are on the edge, but the rest of the non-playoff teams are only four points out. With so many teams still in the hunt, you have to think Jim Rutherford, Steve Tambellini and Brian Burke are fielding lots of calls. It sounds like we might see some trades prior to the Olympic break, so the players will get some extra practice days before the NHL resumes in March.
I don’t want answers in the posts today, but I’m curious what your expectations are from a reporter/media member/blogger in ethical situations. Think about it, remember the question and I will let you know why in a week or so.