Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Things that happen every 4 years

Pictured: 2 NHL toddlers.  Simon Gagne turns 8 today and Cam Ward turns 7.

It's leap day.  February 29th.  The day that comes every 4 years.  Since this day only happens every 4 years, I thought it would be appropriate to look at some other events that only occur every 4 years.  This was one of the simpler blogs posts I've written.  Take a look.

  • Bob McKenzie screws up a trade on Twitter.
  • Scott Gomez scores a goal...sometimes two.
  • A Flyers goaltender posts a shutout.
  • Henrik Lundqvist allows a goal.
  • Peter Forsberg un-retires.
  • The Devils go through 4 head coaches.
  • Dany Heatley gets traded.  Twice.
  • Leafs fans call for Ron Wilson's firing, two weeks after petitioning to the NHL for his Adam Trophy nomination.
  • The Islanders win a playoff series. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Behind the scenes of Rick Nash trade negotiations

As you probably know by now, the Columbus Blue Jackets are trying to trade all of their good players.  Yes, Rick Nash is on the trade block.  Between the Rangers, Sharks, Maple Leafs and Kings, there's been plenty of speculation as to where Rick Nash will end up.  Of course, no matter hard General Managers try to hide these matters from the public, bloggers like me always find a way to find out what really is[n't] happening.  Take a look.

February 23rd, 3:47 PM: Kings GM Dean Lombardi calls Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson.

Lombardi: Mr. Howson, I'd like to acquire Rick Nash.

Howson: Rick...who?

Lombardi: Nash.  He's your team's captain.

Howson: Oh, yeah, sorry, I've been meaning to watch a Jackets game this season.  It just hasn't happened yet.

Lombardi: Every now and then, I do, but only if I actually want to watch lots of goals scored.

Howson: Hey, listen, the phone's ringing.  It's Brian Burke.

Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke calls Howson.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Comparing the NHL stretch run and MLB Spring Training

Alex Rodriguez isn't the only Alex who's been distracted from his sport recently.

It's about this time of year that professional baseball players and major league-hopefuls are reporting to Arizona or Florida for MLB's annual Spring Training.  It's also this time of year that the NHL is preparing for the final stretch before the playoffs.  I figured there have to be some similarities and differences, and it turns out that I was right...well, sort of.

Similarity: The games are completely meaningless for teams from Washington D.C.
Difference: The Nationals could surprise everyone and compete for a playoff spot.

Similarity: Superstar players are meeting their new teams, either after free agency or trades.
Difference: Rick Nash expects to meet his very first full-time NHL team next week.

Similarity: Many teams are preparing for this season, while others are already looking towards next season.
Difference: For hockey fans in Phoenix, they are very, very afraid of next season.

Similarity: The New York teams are trying to build on the Giants' Superbowl victory by bringing the Big Apple more championships this year.
Difference: The Mets and Islanders sit off to the side awkwardly.

Similarity: Teams in both leagues are making trades to improve their team.
Difference: The Colorado Avalanche are getting manipulated miserably by Steve Yzerman.

Monday, February 20, 2012

NHL Power Rankings - Week of February 20th, 2012

Today's President's Day and it's only fitting that the team most likely to win the President's Trophy tops my list of NHL teams this week.  I mean, you can't really argue with Detroit.  Ever.

1. Detroit Red Wings - The Wings reportedly thought about losing at home, but they won't until Nicklas Lidstrom retires.  Whoa boy...

2. Vancouver Canucks - They were recently voted the most overrated team by the league's players, including Roberto Luongo.

3. New York Rangers - Ranger fans were chanting "we don't want you!" at Rick Nash last night.  It's okay, they're still learning what it's like to win.

4. Nashville Predators - Something that literally just occured to me: if Rick Nash went to the Preds, would they name the city after him?  Nash-ville?

5. New Jersey Devils - Something that must be considered: is Martin Brodeur just as cool of an old guy as Lidstrom and Selanne?

6. St. Louis Blues - They won a game via shutout recently allowing just 13 shots on goal.  Then again, that's a lot of shots for Minnesota in one game.

7. Pittsburgh Penguins - Evgeni Malkin is not one of the three stars of the week.  It's panic time in Pittsburgh.

8. Boston Bruins - They got shut out by Niklas Backstrom yesterday, but that's okay because they won't run into any other good goalies in the playoffs.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Top 10 Video Special - The 10 Greatest Individual Seasons in Devils History

Ilya Kovalchuk's unbelievable season thus far got me thinking about Devils of the past.  Sure, we all know that no Devil has ever reached 50 goals or 100 points in a single season, but what about the greatest individual seasons that have occured?  I put together a list of my Top 10, with a small sample of their excellence from either that season or a season close to it.  Here's what I came up with.  It's the 16th DGA Top 10 Special in the history of DGA.

#10 - KIRK MULLER: 1987-88 (80 games, 37 goals, 57 assists, 94 points, 114 penalty minutes)

Before Zach Parise, the Devils had another American-born captain that wore #9.  Kirk Muller registered a career-high 94 points in 1987-88 (which is also Parise's career-high in points to date), and helped lead the Devils to their first-ever playoff birth in the spring of 1988.

#9 - JOHN MACLEAN: 1989-90 (80 games, 41 goals, 38 assists, 79 points, 11 game-winning goals)

1989-90 wasn't MacLean's best offensive season, although it was his second of three consecutive 40-goal seasons.  But having used Muller's 1987-88 season, I needed an excuse to show MacLean's goal that sent the Devils to the playoffs for the first time in 1988.  Also, MacLean set the Devils record with 11 game-winning goals in 1989-90.  Since I couldn't find a goal from that season, enjoy this one.

#8 - SCOTT GOMEZ: 2005-06 (82 games, 33 goals, 51 assists, 84 points, 244 shots on goal)

Although 2005-06 will be remembered for Brian Gionta's epic season, it's fair to say that Gio doesn't score 48 goals without the help of his center, Scott Gomez.  This was the prime of the EGG line, and coming out of the lockout, it was the line that carried the Devils through a 15-game winning streak at the end of the regular season and past the Rangers in round 1 of the playoffs.  Also, this is proof that Scott Gomez hasn't always been useless.

Friday, February 10, 2012

What does it take to have a player's number retired?

Mats Sundin played for 3 Canadian NHL teams throughout the '90s and 2000s.  No wonder he never won a Cup.

Tomorrow night, the Toronto Maple Leafs will do something that they rarely do (no, not win the Stanley Cup...).  They will retire Mats Sundin's #13.  He'll join Ace Bailey and Bill Barilko as the only Maple Leafs to ever have their numbers retired by the club.  That got me wondering, what does it take to have a player's number retired?  Obviously, each team has a slightly different requirement to do the honor.  After hours (okay, minutes) of research, here's what I found.

Montreal Canadiens - Basically, if you're French-Canadian, scored a few goals, won a Cup, were really short or gave up 10 goals in a game, your number was retired.  Then there's Ken Dryden.  He was pretty good, though.

Toronto Maple Leafs - The Leafs have a tradition of only retiring numbers of Stanley Cup champion players.  Of course, after decades and decades of having nothing to do, they lifted that requirement for Mats Sundin.  Or maybe they're honoring his number.  There's a difference...

New Jersey Devils - It's pretty simple in New Jersey: if you're a defenseman and you win three Stanley Cups, your number gets retired.  That includes Martin Brodeur as a defenseman.

New York Rangers - Following New York sports tradition, if you were a fan favorite and didn't sign with your team's biggest rival, your number is automatically retired.

New York Islanders - The Isles also require a Stanley Cup for a player's number to be retired.  Or maybe they've just been so awful lately that there's been no numbers to retire...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ex-Devils who returned to New Jersey

"Hey, remember when we played in New Jersey? Yeah, me neither."

As many players have moved on from New Jersey in their careers, Devils fans never forget them.  That's why, when the players return to New Jersey, we don't forget what they did and we usually give them some kind of acknowledgement.  Sometimes we cheer, sometimes we boo, and other times we didn't care enough about the guy to give a crap.  On Thursday, Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott (if he's healthy) will return to New Jersey.  Let's take a look at past Devils and how they were treated (or should have been treated) when they returned to New Jersey.

Brian Gionta - Gio signed a free agent contract with Montreal, and when he came back to New Jersey for the first time, Devils fans tried to cheer him when he was on the ice, but nobody could find him.

Scott Gomez - Gomer committed the unthinkable crime: he left New Jersey to sign a free agent contract with the rival Rangers.  Devils fans booed him mercilessly and have successfully laid the Curse of the Devils on him.  He no longer possesses the ability to score goals.  Job well done, Devils fans.

John Madden - When Madden returned to New Jersey with Minnesota, Devils fans wanted to give him an ovation, but the glare of his Stanley Cup ring from Chicago blinded many fans.

Brendan Shanahan - Shanahan's return to New Jersey was with St. Louis in 1991.  Devils fans cheered him and thanked him, because he became the franchise's MVP...for leaving.

Tom Kurvers - Kurvers was forever cheered and thanked, similarly to how Shanahan was honored, when he returned to New Jersey.

Scott Clemmensen - Clemmer saved the Devils' season in 2008-09 when Martin Brodeur went down, but when he returned with the Panthers, his goals against average was about 5.00, so we laughed.  And then cheered.  Then we laughed again.

Monday, February 6, 2012

NHL Power Rankings - Week of February 6th, 2012

This week's power rankings are a little late to come out.  First of all, the NFL team which I am devoted to happened to win the Superbowl last night and I doubt anyone would have read a hockey post last night anyway.  So, now that another football season is behind us, it's time for the stretch run this NHL season.  Here's a look at my power rankings for a week, with some very careful and insightful analysis.

1. Detroit Red Wings - The Wings are trying to pretend that Montreal doesn't exist...

2. Nashville Predators - It's early on, but Pekka Rinne is proving the notion that all rich goalies are terrible this season.

3. New York Rangers - The NHL should let the Rangers have two timeouts per game under the condition that John Tortorella can throw two tantrums per game.

4. St. Louis Blues - Ken Hitchcock reportedly had his players bag skate today after they attempted an aggressive forecheck in practice.

5. Vancouver Canucks - Neither Sedin practiced this morning.  Clearly, they're being traded tonight.

6. Boston Bruins - They're 33-12-2 against teams not from Raleigh, North Carolina.

7. Pittsburgh Penguins - Evgeni Malkin is all well and good, but the Penguins could really use a second line center...

8. San Jose Sharks - The Sharks are hoping that Couture being picked last in the All-Star draft will fuel an epic season from him next year as Kessel has this year.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

How does a hockey fan watch the Superbowl?

These two trophies are pretty much the same.  Well, except that the one on the left is smaller and has never been to Canada.

In the event that you live under a rock or are completely clueless, this Sunday is Superbowl Sunday.  The NFC and AFC champions, New York Giants and New England Patriots, respectively, will play in a winner-take-all Superbowl on Sunday evening.  Most Americans will be watching this football game, while others will watch the commercials and others will just attend Superbowl parties for the free food.  But hockey fans are different.  Hockey fans have a unique way of watching the Superbowl.  In fact, hockey fans use their hockey knowledge while watching football.  Take a look:

Hockey: Any time a hit is delivered to any hockey player by another hockey player, Zac Rinaldo is given a penalty.
Football: Unlike hockey, officials actually allow hits and contact, because it is a physical sport.

Hockey: The clock stops when there is an icing, off-side, goal, penalty or the scorekeepers decide to stop the clock late in the third period.
Football: The clock stops whenever a trainer has to tend to a quarterback that Jason Pierre-Paul has levelled.

Football: There is a 2-point conversion in football as an option after a scoring play called a touchdown.
Hockey: There is an 8-point conversion in hockey, but only Sam Gagner knows how to score it.

Hockey: An icing occurs when the puck is sent more than halfway down the ice by a player on the defensive half of the rink...or when goalies shoot and miss the empty net.
Football: An icing occurs when Jason Garrett wants to help the Giants win the NFC East.

Football: The Refrigerator refers to a former NFL defensive tackle who ran people over like a refrigerator.
Hockey: The Refrigerator is the the appliance that Dustin Penner keeps the delicious weapons that injure him in.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Things that have happened since Scott Gomez's last goal

On February 5th, 2011, Scott Gomez scored a goal on Martin Biron of the New York Rangers.  He didn't think much of it, but looking back, he should have.  Nearly a calendar year later, he has still not scored a goal since that game.  Let's first look at that goal by Gomez with some awesome French commentary from RDS and then look at other things that have happened in the NHL since Gomez's last goal.  As Sam Rosen would say, "this one will last a lifetime!"

  • Sam Gagner's 8 point night yesterday consisted of four goals, or infinity times the number Gomez has scored since February 5th, 2011.
  • Dustin Penner injured himself while eating delicious pancakes, which dethrones Rick DiPietro as most bizarre hockey injuries known to mankind.
  • Sami Salo dove on top of Brad Marchand, which was called as a clipping major for Marchand, marking the first time a Canuck player concussed himself and Salo's tenth injury of the season, according to the Boston media.
  • The New York Rangers are in first place in their division, something Gomez never experienced in New York (or Montreal...).
  • Tim Thomas boycotted the Bruins' visit to the White House, similarly to how Scott Gomez has boycotted scoring goals...maybe. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How are NHL teams preparing for the playoffs?

Pictured: Patrick Kane and sunglasses.  Not pictured: Patrick Kane's playoff beard.  Also not pictured: Peggy.

Now that the NHL All-Star break is behind us, many teams begin their push towards the playoffs.  For many teams, they'll look to add a player or two at the deadline that they hope will push them towards a long playoff run.  For some other teams, they'll look to make a big splash to move up the standings.  For others, they'll try to convince their fan base that they're still in the playoff picture, even though they're not.  Here's a guide I put together regarding how teams are preparing for the playoffs.

Boston Bruins - Claude Julien spends most of practice these days reminding his team that all goaltenders are awful and that they can beat anyone.  Of course, he only does this on days Tim Thomas is boycotting the team's events.

Detroit Red Wings - Ken Holland is spending the next few months trying to convince Gary Bettman that making the Joe Louis Arena the exclusive home for all playoff games this year is a good idea.

New York Rangers - MSG officials have begun playoff preparations by reluctantly cancelling "Stage 2" renovation plans for the arena during the middle of May.

Chicago Blackhawks - The Blackhawks have informed Patrick Kane that every game for the rest of the season will now be referred to as the "All-Star Game," in the hopes of increasing his goal totals.

Vancouver Canucks - Alain Vigneault has told his players that swimming pools are off limits until after the season, because his team has already mastered diving.

Philadelphia Flyers - Ilya Bryzgalov has already begun his pre-playoff ritual, which mainly consists of saying "please don't let us play Detroit in the first round."