Friday, October 15, 2010

NHL in a Nutshell- The Suspension is Killing Me!

I apologize for pushing it again with this week's article title. That's what happens when I try to be clever.

Our beloved Penguins are off to a rough start. I don't think anyone predicted we'd be 1-4 at this point. Still, it's early in the season and there's no reason to be pushing the panic button yet. Believe it or not, the PP could be worse- it could be operating at 7.1% like Philly's instead of the 15% it's at right now (thank you Joe Depto of the Fourth Period and Pens Universe for those numbers.) I'd rather be losing these sorts of games in October than April, and I'm confident that Disco Dan will rally the troops and everything will be back to normal before we know it.

This week in NHL news- an early season injury report, the league suspends someone who's not Sean Avery (although he's involved of course), and a full debriefing of the Pavelec incident.

On-Ice-

-Jordan Staal and Arron Asham are back on the ice! There is still no timetable for Staal's return, but Asham should be back within two weeks or so. Brooks Orpik also skated briefly before practice, but he is still day-to-day with a groin injury and will miss tonight's game. Zbynek Michalek is out for two to four weeks with an "upper body" injury (mostly likely to his right shoulder). Given the hit he took against New Jersey that caused the injury, I was prepared for the worst so I'll take two to four weeks right now.

-For those of you who missed Wednesday night's game against the Maple Leafs, be sure to check out this video of Deryk Engelland fighting Colton Orr if you haven't yet.

-The Penguins will wear their blue jerseys tonight against the Islanders. What better way to reverse a curse than with another curse? For those of you who've asked, there's no word about which jerseys they'll be wearing, whether the traditional powder blue jerseys or the new blue ones for the Winter Classic. Anyway, these are the lines for tonight's game:
Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis
Tangradi-Comrie-Malkin
Cooke-Talbot-Kennedy
Rupp-Letestu-Adams

Martin-Letang
Goligoski-Lovejoy
Hutchinson-Engelland

Brent Johnson in net

-By this point, I'm sure everyone's heard about the bizarre and unfortunate incident involving Thrashers' goalie Ondrej Pavelec. Last Friday night, the Thrashers were playing the Capitals and Pavelec unexpectedly fainted over backwards only two and a half minutes into the game. No one was around Pavelec when he collapsed and he had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher. He was unconscious while being taken off the ice but came around during the ambulance ride, enough to ask how his team was faring (they won 4-2). Pavelec, who does not have a history of health problems, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he has no memory of playing against the Capitals. The last thing he remembers before waking up in the hospital was the national anthem at the start of the game. Tests revealed that he had a concussion but that was from hitting his head on the ice when he fainted, not what caused the unexpected fall. The goalie underwent a full-body MRI and everything was revealed to be functioning properly. He suffered a headache from the concussion but that was the extent of the damage. Pavelec was released from the hospital on Sunday and is resting at home. The team placed him on injured reserve and called up Drew MacIntyre from the AHL. Pavelec said he is feeling fine but the cause of his fainting spell is still unknown. Very, very strange all around, but we're all glad that Pavelec is out of the hospital and doing well and wish him a speedy and complete recovery.

-Zdeno Chara is going to be a Boston Bruin for the seven more seasons and will likely end his career with Boston. I grew up in Sabres territory and believe me, local Sabres fans were thrilled to hear about his extension. As one kid I went to high school with said on his Facebook status, "We just got rid of the Buffaslug only to have to put up with Chara in the division for seven more years?!?! Will our suffering never end???" (Correct answer: of course it won't. You're a Buffalo sports fan. You're doomed to suffer year in and year out. How have you not realized this yet?) Chara's deal is worth $45.5 million. He will be 41 years old when the deal expires but it is not a blatant cap-circumvention. The cap hit on his deal is $6.917 million over the first six years and $4 million in the last year. Eat your heart out, Lou Lamoriello.

-Andreas Lilja will be staying on the West Coast after all. He signed a one-way deal with the Ducks for one year, $600,000. Anaheim needs all the help it can get right now...

-Henrik Sedin was named the Canucks captain after all. Ryan Kesler was the fan favorite in Vancouver, but the elder Sedin twin is the one wearing the "C".

-Red Wings news: Brian Rafalski had to have arthroscopic knee surgery and will be out three to four weeks. Kirk Maltby, a four-time Stanley Cup winner, is retiring after being released by the Red Wings. Head coach Mike Babcock singed a four-year extension with the Red Wings. His deal would've been up this summer and the Red Wings didn't want him taking his impressive resume elsewhere. Babcock's statement on the deal was about as clever as one of my article titles. "I'm a big believer in that the grass isn't always greener [elsewhere], you just need to use fertilizer and water where you're at," he said.

-Patrick Kane is sick and will miss tonight's game against Columbus. Chicago recalled defenseman Jassen Cullimore from the AHL, which means that one of their defensemen, most likely Dustin Byfuglien Jordan Hendry will take Kane's shifts at wing.

Off-Ice-

-The Florida Panthers have reached 10,000 season ticket holders for the first time since 2001. I keep glancing out my window to see if there are any pigs flying around. Amazingly I haven't seen any yet.

-Hockey players with last names that are impossible to spell were apparently at high-risk for suspensions this week. Niklas Hjalmarsson was suspended two games for a hit on Buffalo's Jason Pominville that saw him carried out on a stretcher with a concussion. James Wisniewski of the Islanders is also out for two games, but not for injuring someone. He made a "lewd gesture" at Sean Avery. I think the league got it about right with Hjalmarsson but I think a fine for Wisniewski would've been more appropriate.

-Nick Foligno of the Ottawa Senators has been fined $2,500 for an illegal hit to the head to Carolina's Patrick Dwyer.

-Breaking news: Gary Roberts has been added as a player development consultant for the Dallas Stars to work with their younger, upcoming players. That's a very smart move by the Stars' management, considering that Roberts has already trained Jamie Neal and Steven Stamkos and they've turned out alright. The players he'll be working with are likely shaking in their skates.

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