Hello. This is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. And, well, there's a ton of other crap for me to blather on about too. And yes, I'm totally ripping off just about every other blogger ever's weekly column, but that's something you'll have to deal with on your own time.
I remember the day after the trade deadline. The Calgary Flames had just made the biggest deal of the season, acquiring their long-sought "No. 1 center for Jarome Iginla." And since that date, Calgary has won just two of its six games.
Why? The answer is obvious, especially to me and a certain player-turned-TSN anchor: Olli Jokinen.
Jokinen may be putting up HUGE numbers since his acquisition -- he had a hat trick and five points Saturday against Toronto and now has eight goals and two assists in the six games with Calgary -- but just LOOK at this unraveling defense and try to tell me this doesn't look a lot like the early stages of Locker Room Cancer.
First and foremost, the Flames have gone 2-4-0 in the games in which Jokinen has played. An unacceptable number. Does it remind anyone else of, say, those teams in Florida or Phoenix before the deadline? It should.
Second, what happened to the team defense!? It has allowed 28 goals in its last six games (an average of 4.67 per), but only allowed 2.95 per game before the deadline. What does this tell you about what Jokinen does to a team's morale? The defensemen on his team clearly hate him! He doesn't block shots and he doesn't try hard and he only worries about his personal stats (eight goals in six games? How about passing the puck?).
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Clearly he's also had a negative affect on Miikka Kiprusoff, whose stats were very good before this acquisition. He has played in five of the six games since the deadline and the Flames are 2-3-0 in those because he allowed 20 goals in just 262:25 on just 151 shots. Maybe he's so distracted by his fellow countryman, who is constantly trying to steal the spotlight from Jarome Iginla and Calgary's other stars,that he cannot concentrate on the pucks being shot at him.
And let's not forget about the mindboggling effect Jokinen has had on Mike Keenan. He is suddenly making Mad Mike -- his former coach and GM, the one who turned the Finnish center from scrub to star through lots of scolding -- turn in one bad decision after another. Keenan even ADMITTED IT after the Toronto loss.
"It's my fault for even playing him because of what he had to go through and the work he had the last game," said the Calgary coach of his decision to start the overused Kiprusoff once again. "I take full credit for probably starting the wrong goaltender. He looked a little bit fatigued, and rightfully so. I probably made a mistake by playing him. I shouldn't have played him."
Keenan may be a lot of things, but disloyal is not one of them. He was extra-careful not to implicate his old running buddy, who's pulling all the strings behind the scenes, working an entire organization like a puppet show for his own sick, odd-looking amusement.
Whatever Jokinen has done to Calgary is deplorable. When the Flames return home on Wednesday after this pathetic seven-game, 14-day road trip, I hope he gets the greeting he deserves.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Last night was Travis Moen's first game back in Anaheim after being traded to the Sharks on deadline day. Emotions running high and all that. Moen, after all, played with the Ducks for four years. The Ducks honored Moen with a tribute video during the first television timeout. Class move by the Ducks there, especially considering Moen isn't exactly Anaheim's all-time points leader.
Atlanta Thrashers: One thing I really like about Atlanta is its ownership's willingness to make people do Q&A's with the Journal-Constitution that they know could get a bit hostile. Bruce Levenson, who reps the ownership group at the Board of Governor meetings, did one such interview earlier this week that I don't think got much attention.
The other big mistake is maybe trying to go too fast in building a winner here. I think we made the same mistake every new owner makes in that regard. ... We were worried that in non-traditional hockey markets that it would be a lot harder coming out of the lockout to bring back the fans than it was in traditional hockey markets.
Appallingly honest. Good for them.
Boston Bruins: I found it rather curious the other day that Puck Daddy had something about the Bruins "slowly losing their grip on the Eastern Conference." I mean, it's true, but the solution is so obvious that it's ridiculous: Stop playing Fernandez. And don't worry Bruins fans. Through Saturday they were still 5-4-1 in their last 10.
Buffalo Sabres : In these troubling economic times, it's good to know that, no matter how badly the Sabres do, there's job security for Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier.
The only allowance for wiggle room is Regier or Ruff doing something completely out of character, such as getting thrown in jail. Assuming they're breathing and not in the clink, they will continue their stretch next season as the longest-tenured GM/coach combination currently in the NHL.
Buffalo fans are now actively hoping one of them drunk drives through an elementary school playground at noon on a Monday.
Calgary Flames: Olli Jokinen is obviously getting a lot of press since the trade, and understandably so. But how about giving some to Jarome Iginla? Over the last 13 games, he's scored 11-11-22. No one in the Western Conference has more points in the last month. (That 8-6 loss to Toronto on Saturday goes unaddressed in this space only for the safety of myself and those around me.)
Carolina Hurricanes: Hoo-boy, did I get a dressing down last week from Canes Country (I think they thought I was Wyshynski, though) for having the gall to criticize Eric Staal in this space last week. From now on, then, I will only lavish praise upon the Hurricanes so as not to offend those sensitive to having their favorite team questioned in any way.
This week's Life-Affirming Hurricane Thought: "Going 0-1-2 in the last three might not help those playoff hopes, but at least they're trying hard !!! :)"
Chicago Blackhawks: I am a graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, and, since I have no better place to put this, my beloved hockey River Hawks are headed to the Hockey East semifinals for the first time in seven years after sweeping No. 7 Vermont in a best-of-three series. In Vermont. Just figured I'd gloat about it since the 'Hawks are the reason I became a hockey fan in the first place.
How's this tie in with Chicago? Chris Auger, a Blackhawks sixth-round pick in 2006 who had missed half the year with an injury he sustained at Chicago's rookie camp, scored Lowell's first goal. So there you have it.
Sure, Tavares would look nice in an Avalanche uniform. But having 15 or so competent players in an Avalanche uniform is also nice.
I don't see why it can't be both. Continue trying to tank it, guys, because I don't see a very strong base with the Avs upon which to build. Their top two scorers this year, Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk, aren't getting any younger; and, at 109 combined points, aren't even doing that much scoring. The next-closest is 22-year-old Wojtek Wolski, who has 14 goals and 24 assists. Production like that won't get you into the playoffs, especially with Colorado's goaltending situation being what it is (i.e. awful).
"My boy Fedor Tyutin with the sickest (slap?) shot," is absolutely, positively in the running for least probable lyric ever rapped. Credit to whoever sings this, by the way, for rhyming "forecheck," "Raffi Torres," and "Jason Voorhees." That's an accomplishment that stretches the borders of the English language dangerously close to permanently breaking.
Dallas Stars: I think I found the oddest thing in the hockey blogosphere: This guy seems to have somehow commandeered part of the old Dallas Stars' URL. Going to blog.dallasstars.com brings you to his site, which is pretty funny. Going to dallasstars.com itself brings you to the Stars' actual website. I think this guy is some sort of internet genius.
Edmonton Oilers: Jason Gregor at OilersNation believes that Craig MacTavish has to continue to play Dustin Penner despite the obvious dislike for him because he's the team's best option on the first line. And if you have to say that about your favorite team, that's a sad state of affairs.
Florida Panthers: The Panthers may have slipped from fifth to ninth in the East over the course of the week, but the good news is they're getting some soldiers back for the stretch run. Rostislav Olesz returned Saturday after missing 43 games, and Bryan McCabe will probably be back Tuesday. Still no Nathan Horton though.
Los Angeles Kings: I felt genuinely bad for Erik Ersberg Saturday night. This poor kid makes 38 saves and holds the San Jose Sharks (!) to one goal in regulation and overtime, THEN forces seven rounds of a shootout. And still loses. Even worse, the Kings had a 2-on-0 shorthanded rush in the third and somehow failed to even put a shot on net.
Dallas signed Parrish for the rest of this season in early November. In his Stars debut on Nov. 7, he recorded a hat trick against Anaheim. But by the time Parrish signed, the team already was set. He became a fill-in. He has had four goals since, with totals of 7-5-12 over 40 games. He currently is out of the lineup with a head injury.
Yeesh. Maybe a good call by the Wild, then? Oh, in actual Wild news, Marian Gaborik has skated with the team for three days straight. Gotta be a new record.
Montreal Canadiens: Saturday at La Centre Bell wasn't just for Marty Brodeur. It was also the 1,000th career game for Patrice Brisebois. He and the newly-reacquired Mathieu Schneider are both members of the Habs' 1993 Stanley Cup-winning team. Congrats to Brisebois and all that.
Ward's 11 goals and 14 assists on the offensively challenged Predators team have been a huge contribution. He is also sixth in the league in shots blocked at the forward position and has maintained a positive plus/minus rating throughout the season.
Not bad for a guy that came to the NHL from the CIS, eh? Wonder how many of those there are currently in the league. Anyone know?
I love fan videos like that, but this one is especially hilarious. The fans in Montreal go from chanting "Carbo" to booing to giving Brodeur a standing ovation in about 15 seconds.
Also, in this week's Coach's Corner, Don Cherry praised Brodeur for not using the butterfly (I didn't know people got actively upset over its use). ATTN Don Cherry: Brodeur is French-Canadian! What are you doing!?
New York Islanders: Scott Gordon said something I've been saying for a while now: "We're not an easy two points anymore." The Islanders' loss to the Bruins on Saturday was their first in regulation since the deadline. I think they'll be a pretty decent team going forward.
"We got emotional and used it in the wrong way there," Stevens said. "I think (Avery's) probation period is over and now he's back up to his old antics and we got sucked in to be quite honest with you. We started worrying about him instead of playing the games. He draws your physical atttention and allows their skilled people to play and then we play the whole game shorthanded."
This is exactly why Avery is worth whatever he's getting paid by the Rangers now, and why I'm astounded someone besides the Rangers didn't pick him up on re-entry waivers.
Ottawa Senators: Your weekly "What are the Ottawa Senators Doing!?" update: They're 6-3-1 in their last 10, but 13 points out of a playoff spot. They just don't know how to tank a season properly. If I was a Sens fan, I'd be pissed.
Philadelphia Flyers: Well it took QUITE a while, but Marty Biron is officially the No. 1 goalie for the Flyers, having gone 7-3-0 in his last 11 with a 2.09/.941 line. He responded to this new title
by coughing up four to the Rangers (granted, it was on 39 shots, but still). (Ed. Note: Nitty got the start on Sunday. Forty lashes with a wet noodle for Two-Line.)
Phoenix Coyotes: The Coyotes played well post-All-Star Break. Well, depending upon which direction you'd like them to move. Good news for those that want them to tank: they're 4-16-1 since the Break and are perilously close to unseating the red hot Islanders as the Worst Team In Hockey, a feat once considered impossible. Won't that Islanders fan in the Tavares jersey feel silly when Phoenix swoops in and takes that No. 1 overall lottery pick? Bad news for those that want them to win: You're a fool.
San Jose Sharks: Heading into last night's game, the Sharks were 4-5-1 in their last 10. In the 10 before that, they were 4-2-4. That's 8-7-5 in the last 20, and only 21 of 40 possible points. This is a team that's been playing some pretty bad hockey (playing a whole season at that pace usually puts you in the 10th-12th range for your conference), for like a quarter of the season, and somehow NO ONE NOTICED? How the hell did that happen? Playing the Sharks should officially now just as worrisome as playing the Canucks. Maybe less so.
St. Louis Blues: Someone finally had the balls to ask Andy Murray why he treats the rookies and sophomores like garbage.
"I don't think there's any coach in the league that isn't a little tougher on the young guys," Murray said. "That's part of the learning curve. By the same token, I come down hard on the veterans, which was part of our meeting (Monday), too."
Tampa Bay Lightning: Apparently some manner of controversy arose from the Leafs/Bolts game regarding Ben Ondrus accusing Evgeny Artyukhin of not speaking English. ("I was standing there and he put his stick between my legs and tried to lift me up or something," Ondrus said. "I asked him what the hell he's was doing, but I don't think he speaks a word of English so, there's another problem.") Artyukhin would like to put this to rest.
"I give interviews," Artyukhin said. Asked if he was going to forget about the incident, Artyukhin said no. "Next game I'll probably tell him I can speak English."
So in your face, Ondrus. I guess(?).
I assume they're referring to the Belfour jersey, but I only saw that Steve Mason lives like a nine-year-old girl and has a poster of himself on his wall.
"In Finland we have saying that says if you have a music ringtone, you're a nerd."
He also doesn't know that Canada and the United States are not the same country.
As an athlete, he's had the privilege of meeting many people that most us don't get a chance to but he doesn't have the most famous person in the world in his contacts list.
"I don't have the President or anything and no, Barack Obama is not on my speed dial."
Canada has a PRIME MINISTER, Sami. Just a heads up, in case you ever need to pass a citizenship test.
Washington Capitals: If you are unfamiliar with DC-based hip hop artist Wale, you are missing out. Wale recently met Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green after attending his first NHL game, and Wale was taken aback by how nice hockey players are as opposed to other athletes.
He then gave us a demonstration of what NBA players are like in the club; sadly, none of it was quotable.
Wale, by the way, also goes by the name "Wale Ovechkin." This is, as he explains on the "Mixtape About Nothing" (which you should own, by the way), because he "does it for the Capital."
Play of the Weekend
Back end of a two-goals-in-30-seconds run on Friday for his 100th and 101th career goals. He made Sean O'Donnell look more than a little silly.
Gold Star Award
It's that pumpkin-headed fellow. Right there in the middle. He had a hat trick and two assists in Calgary's losing effort on Saturday. I like him anyway.
Next week's game I'm totally going to watch on Center Ice if I'm home
Washington vs. Carolina on Saturday. Should be pretty good. (For a Southeast game! Ahaha oh man that'll earn me some e-mails.)
Event that should replace the shootout and would be just as relevant to hockey skill
Winning by default. It's almost the same thing anyway!
Movie of the Week
John Hillcoat's 2005 masterpiece "The Proposition" is a brutally violent but thoughtful Western set in the Australian Outback. In it, Ray Winstone plays a British military officer intent on civilizing the inherently violent and lawless Outback. The film is beautifully shot and scored, and the good-sized ensemble cast does an impressive job across the board.
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
User "Ziggy Stardust" proposes this "Summer Blockbuster" between Atlanta and Los Angeles. You'll never guess which players are being moved:
Let's go Lowell!
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