Friday, December 3, 2010

Around the NHL- 12/3

If you spent last night watching LeBron's return to Cleveland instead of one or more of the numerous hockey games that were on, may God have mercy on your soul and save you from the fires of hell.

That is all.

Last Night's Games-

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Atlanta Thrashers
Sid. What a beast. That pretty much sums up the game right there.
The Penguins beat the Thrashers 3-2, extending their winning streak to eight straight. Crosby scored all three Penguin goals for his seventh career hat trick and his first natural hat trick. (For those of you who don't know what a natural hat trick is, shame on you. You call yourself a hockey fan! Kidding, kidding. A natural hat trick is when the player who scored said hat trick scores all three goals in a row. No one else has a goal in between their three.) The Penguins now lead the Atlantic Division (the Flyers were idle last night) and Crosby is now tied for the NHL lead in goals (21) and is the overall leader points (44). I can't say anything about him that hasn't already been said, so I'm not going to bother. Be grateful for what you have, fellow Pens fans. We're extremely privileged to be able to watch a player like Crosby night in and night out.
Brian "Chicken" Little and Nik Antropov scored the goals for Atlanta.
(Funniest moment of the night- I forgot exactly who brought it up, but at some point it was said that the Thrashers "would love to win over the fans there [in Atlanta]." Whoever said that clearly has no idea that the Thrashers do not, in fact, have fans.)

Boston Bruins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Marc Savard returned from the dead last night and apparently his resurrection was contagious. The Bruins' offense sprang to life, putting up 8 goals on the Lighting for an 8-1 win. David Krejci had two goals for Boston and the other six were scored by Milan Lucic, Dennis Seidenburg, Shawn Thornton, Mark Recci and Blake Wheeler. (Interesting sidenote- when Milan Lucic scores a goal this season, the Bruins are 9-0-0.) Victor Hedman had Tampa's lone tally. Goalie Mike Smith got pulled after the Bruins' fifth goal and was replaced was Dan Ellis, who didn't fare much better. A 3.02 GAA and .888 save percentage are just two more #DanEllisProblems.
Also, Stamkos had now been held without a goal for four straight games.

San Jose Sharks vs. Ottawa Senators
Possibly the biggest hockey story of the night, Dany Heatley returned to Ottawa for the first time since demanding a trade and being send to San Jose. Even though Ottawa fans are usually much more placid than the average NHL crowed, but even they were extremely angry and gave Heatley a very rude homecoming. There were the usual signs, the boos, an old Heatley Sens jersey was thrown on the ice in protest, etc. One Senators fan went above and beyond even bitter Cavs fans, placing miniature Heatley figurines placed in the urinals in the men's bathroom. (Well played, sir.) This didn't seem to deter Heatley- he was determined to show-up his former team and actually played with effort. You had to see it to believe it. Kevin Burgundy of Stay Classy wondered via Twitter how Heatley had any saliva left, he was playing so hard. (You all know my theory- he had saliva to spare because he wasn't demanding a trade for once.)
Oh yeah, and the Sharks won 4-0. Logan Couture had two goals, Patrick Marleau had one and Justin Braun had the other. Heatley had two assists on the night.

Edmonton Oilers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Cheer up, Sens fans- you weren't the only ones who were shutout last night. The Oilers beat the Maples Leafs 5-0 in Khabibulin's return from a groin injury. (Ontario hockey is looking grim this season.) Taylor Hall notched two goals, Jordan Eberle had one, Sam Gagner had one and Ryan Jones had Edmonton's final tally.

Montreal Canadiens vs. New Jersey Devils
At the beginning of this season, who would've predicted that the Thrashers would be a better team than the Devils? The Canadiens, who lost a tough one on the road the night before, took out their frustration on the Devils, who didn't exactly put up much of a fight. The Habs beat New Jersey 5-1. Five different Habs contributed on the scoresheet, team captain Brian Gionta, Lars Eller, Tom Pyatt, Scott Gomez and Benoit Pouliot. (Expect maybe, MAYBE for Gionta, I guarantee none of you have any of those guys on your fantasy teams.)
Jason Arnott ruined Carey Price's shutout bid about halfway through the 3rd period. A shutout would've tied Price for NHL lead in shutouts. He is also tied for most wins (15) in the NHL. Maybe the Canadiens management knew what they were doing when they traded away Halak after all...?

New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders
One of the more underappreciated rivalries in the NHL (mainly because the Islanders suck) saw a very bizarre game last night. The Rangers and Islanders both scored over two goals, Marty Biron was replaced by Henrik Lundqvist instead of the other way around and Sean Avery played on the Rangers first line. Think about that. Let it really sink in for a moment. Sean Avery played on the top line. Even stranger was that, well, it worked. In this crazy back-and-forth, seesaw-esque game, the Rangers came out on top 6-5, even after blowing a two-goal lead. Twice. Marian Gaborik had his second hat trick of the season (including the game winner) with Avery on his line for the first time. Bizarre. Erik Christensen, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Prust also had goals for the NYR. Zenon Konopka (who?), Matt Moulson, Rob Schremp, Michael Grabner and Blake Comeau all tailled for the Isles.
Good news for the Islanders- defenseman Andrew MacDonald was back in the lineup last night. He'd missed 15 games with a broken wrist. Bad news for the Islanders- their power play is now 0-for-30. Yikes.

Dallas Stars vs. Washington Capitals
This was a surprisingly entertaining game, although Caps fans might use a different word for it. The Stars got extremely lucky late in the third period. John Carlson appeared to have tipped in a game tying goal with literally 7.6 seconds left to play, but it was ruled that Ovechkin, who was tangled up with Dallas d-man Karlis Skrastins, had interfered with the goaltender. (Both Ovechkin and Skrastins crashed into backup goalie Andrew Raycroft, who was laid out on the ice when Carlson's shot when it.) Apparently Bruce Boudreau's face turned that spectacular shade of red only Bruce Boudreau's face can reach. And then his head exploded.
Dallas ended up winning 2-1. Mike Ribeiro scored first for the Stars. Mike Knuble tied it in the third, only to have Brandon Segal score what turned out to be the game winner on Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth. Although he did get assisted by the disallowed goal, Raycroft certainly deserved the win, stopping 37 shots for the Stars.

Los Angeles Kings vs. Florida Panthers
The Kings, who had adopted Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" as their new team song after a two-week losing skid that saw them drop 10 spots in the Western Conference, finally pulled out a win last night. They beat the Panthers 3-2, thanks mainly in part to Anze Kopitar's late wrist shot. It was the Kings first full 60-minute effort in over two weeks. Jared Stroll gave L.A. the early lead but the Panthers tied it up with back-to-back goals from Michal Repik and David Booth. With Jonathan Quick holding down the fort, the Kings scored two unanswered goals, the first by Peter Harrold and then Kopitar's game winner.

Tonight's Games-

7:00 pm
New York Islanders @ New York Rangers
Colorado Avalanche @ Carolina Hurricanes

7:30 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets @ Buffalo Sabres

8:00 pm
Calgary Flames @ Minnesota Wild

8:30 pm
Vancouver Canucks @ Chicago Blackhawks (I'm benching Luongo tonight in fantasy)

10:00 pm
Detroit Red Wings @ Anaheim Ducks

Injury Report-

-Max Talbot took a shot to the leg in practice and had to be helped off the ice. (Yet a Dustin Byfuglien slapshot in the face left him unfazed.) He will make the trip to Columbus with the team and be reevaluated before Saturday night's game.

-Malkin and Orpik both missed practice today. Apparently Malkin was "banged up" yesterday against Atlanta and took a maintenance day. Orpik was out due to an illness. He probably caught whatever Arron Asham had.

-Pekka Rinne has an undisclosed lower-body injury and will miss at least one game for the Predators.

-Evander Kane did not play against the Pens last night (to Matt Cooke's relief) with a leg injury. There is no official word on his status, but he did skate this morning with the team.

-Steve Downie sprained his ankle and is out indefinitely. Remember, no matter how dirty or how much of a cheap shot artist a guy is, you never want to see a guy get hu.... oh, the guy I'm playing in fantasy hockey this week has Downie on his team...

-Aaron Voros has the flu and will miss tonight's game against the Red Wings. Matt Belesky has been recalled from the Syracuse Crunch to take his place.

-Colby Armstrong is set to return to the Leafs lineup on Saturday.

-This just in: Habs defenseman Andrei Markov will undergo knee surgery on December 8th. The Canadiens official site is saying that he's done for the season.

Trades/Signings-

-Yesterday, it was reported that the Bruins had traded left winger Marco Sturm to the Kings for a conditional draft pick, but both Bruins' GM and the L.A. Kings' insider reported that there was no done deal. Sturm, who is rehabbing from a knee injury, would have to pass a physical first. So there is no trade as of yet, but that doesn't mean it won't happen in the future.

Other News-

-Very cool story involving the Winter Classic. During the week leading up to the WC, an outdoor, NHL-sized public rink will be built adjacent to Heinz Field. It will be open to the public starting December 24th up until January 2nd. And get this- the boards and Zambonis from Civic Arena will be used in the rink!

The NBA still sucks. Go Pens.

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