Drop the Puck: Week Six
Some familiar franchises got hot during week six of the 2010-2011 National Hockey League season, pushing some annual playoff powerhouses to the top of the standings, while the NHL’s doormats continued getting trampled-on.
Firing on the Island
With a winless streak reaching 10 games and the New York Islanders mired in a 4-10-3 start to their 2010-2011 season, the firing of head coach Scott Gordon this Monday was not a shocker. Despite high draft picks and a world-class talent in John Tavares, the Islanders have been perennial bottom-feeders in the Eastern Conference.
GM Garth Snow hopes the promotion of Jack Capuano will change the direction of this once-proud franchise. If you’ve never heard of Capuano, you are not alone. Capuano has been the head coach of the Islanders’ top farm team the past four seasons and has never won a playoff round. Incidentally, it has been since 1993 that the parent team has achieved that trick. It could be a long six months or so on the Island.
Detroit on Fire
Don’t look now, Western Conference foes, but here come the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings have won three straight and six of their last seven to climb to the top of the conference standings with a record of 11-3-1.
Goaltender Jimmy Howard has gotten hot and Detroit has gotten balanced scoring. Ageless defenseman Nicklas Listrom leads the team in points with 17 and wingers Daniel Clearly and Johan “The Mule” Franzen are tied for the team lead in goals. The Wings are back, whether you like it or not.
The Week in Hockey
Monday, November 8
The week started off slowly with just one game played opposite Monday Night Football, and it was a good one. Detroit topped Phoenix in overtime 3-2 behind Jimmy Howard’s 29 saves, kicking-off a stellar week of hockey for the Wings.
Tuesday, November 9
The Carolina Hurricanes’ Eric Staal led the way in points this night with 4 assists to spark a 7-1 rout of the punchless Edmonton Oilers, while, on the flip side Jonas Hillar stopped pucks leading his Anaheim Ducks to a 3-2 OT win against San Jose.
Steven Stamkos continued his hot goal-scoring with two goals as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0 and Jason Spezza’s three-point outing (2 goals, 1 assist) helped the Ottawa Senators continue their hot streak with a 5-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers.
Other notable performances included goalie Carey Price shutting out the Vancouver Canucks in a 2-0 win for Montreal, and Brooks Laich netting two goals in a 5-2 win for the Washington Capitals over the New York Rangers.
Wednesday, November 10
Anaheim won its second game in two nights, 1-0 over the New York Islanders, while the Columbus Blue Jackets chased goalie Jaroslav Halak in a 8-1 rout of the St. Louis Blues. The Boston Bruins netted 5 goals in the third period as the Pittsburgh Penguins imploded, turning a 4-2 lead into a 7-4 loss, at home, no less.
The New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs continued their losing ways, with 5-4 and 4-1 losses, respectively. Pens’ center Sidney Crosby headlined a group of four players with three points on the night.
Thursday, November 11
Thursday night was a busy night in the NHL with twenty teams in action. The Philadelphia Flyers led the way with 8 goals in a 8-1 trouncing of the Carolina Hurricane, while the Rangers, Nashville Predators, and San Jose Sharks all won in overtime thrillers.
The Sharks handed the Islanders their ninth straight pointless night, leading to the firing of their coach just four days later. The hot goal scorer was Alexander Semin of the Washington Capitals with 5 points, including a hat trick, in a 6-3 victory over Tampa Bay, while Montreal goalie Price cooled-off the Boston Bruins, 3-1, making 34 saves for his second victory of the week.
Friday, November 12
In their eighth game of the season, the New Jersey Devils finally won a home game, though they needed to overcome a 3-1 deficit and extra time to defeat the Oilers 4-3 for just their fifth win of the season.
Another Eastern Conference team rebounded as Marc-Andre Fleury recorded just his second win of the year in a 5-1 victory over the Lightning at home. The Ducks won their third game of the week with a 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars and the Panthers nipped the Minnesota Wild 2-1 behind Tomas Vokoun’s 22 saves.
Saturday, November 13
Another busy night for the NHL as 22 teams were in action. The Flyers, Senators, Red Wings, Canadiens, and Kings continued their winning ways while the Phoenix Coyotes and Pens won games on consecutive nights. Looking for goal scorers? How about Evegni Malkin with 3 goals for the Penguins against the Atlanta Thrashers, all in the third period, and ageless Ray Whitney with 5 points and 3 goals for Phoenix. Tomas Plekanec accumulated 4 points in Montreal’s 7-2 win over the Hurricanes, and Ottawa’s goalie Brian Elliot recorded 31 saves in his team’s 2-0 win over Boston.
The Canadiens were 3-0 this week, riding the coattails of goalie Carey Price, who gave up just three goals in three games as Montreal continued to head the Northeast Division.
Detroit Red Wings
Goalie Jimmy Howard led the Wings to a 3-0 record this week as Detroit leapfrogged the St. Louis Blues for the lead in the Central Division. The Wings outscored their opposition 12-5 with a balanced attack.
Though the week ended with a 3-2 OT loss to the Sabres, the Caps are the hottest team in the NHL right now with a 6-1 record in November. Goalie Michal Neuvirth is 11-3 and 13 players have scored two or more goals, with Semin leading the way with 13 scores.
New York Islanders
No wins in ten games gets your coach fired.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Eight straight losses puts you in last place, and leaves your head coach jumping at shadows.
St. Louis Blues
A pointless week for the young Blues, who had their elite goalie chased in an 8-1 loss in Columbus, of all places.
If you owned these guys, you were smiling this week.
Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals
13 goals, 23 points. A five-point night helped Semin rise to the top of the leader board this week.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
15 Goals, 28 points. Four more goals kept him #1 in the NHL scoring race.
Brooks Laitch, Washington Capitals
His +12 is looking mighty good on your stat sheet.
Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
11 goals, 20 points. The twin is back.
Goal scoring was up slightly this week but there were still some hot goalies.
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
10-5-1. 2.18 GAA. .923 save %. Three wins in one week is pretty good work.
Brian Elliott, Ottawa Senators
9-4. 2.59 GAA, .918 save %. Elliott has been as solid as any goalie over the past two weeks and his stock is on the rise.
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
10-1-0. 1.53 GAA, .944 save %. As solid as any goalie in the NHL and has the numbers to prove it.
Michal Neuvirth, Washington Capitals
Neuvirth is a worthy start with 11 wins, though his save % and GAA are a little high. Doesn’t matter with the high-flying Caps.
Until next week – hit the ice running and don’t draw any unsportsmanlike penalties.