THEY SAID IT
"I’ve got the utmost respect for the Sedin twins and for Alain Vigneault and all the Vancouver Canucks. It was just a little bit of tongue-in-cheek that we had at the little radio show with some of the fans."
Chicago Blackhawks centre Dave Bolland recants, after calling the Vancouver Canucks’ Sedins “sisters” in a radio interview and earning the wrath of Canucks’ coach Alain Vigneault in the process.
“What we’re trying to do is keep the game of hockey looking like the game of hockey — physical and passionate, but weed out certain hits that have crept into our game that are making it very difficult for players to play and parents enroll their kids in hockey.”
Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s senior vice president of hockey operations, articulates league policy, as the concussion toll mounts.
BY THE NUMBERS
Out of 71 goaltenders, where Tampa’s Dwayne Roloson’s bloated 3.67 goals-against average ranks, one of the primary reasons last year’s Stanley Cup semi-finalists are on the outside of the playoff picture, looking in right now.
As of Thursday, where a quartet of underachieving snipers - Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Ovechkin, Rick Nash and Dany Heatley - were ranked in the NHL’s overall scoring race. All had identical numbers (21 points on nine goals and 12 assists), leaving them behind, among others, Pascal Dupuis, Ryan O’Reilly, Max Pacioretty and Craig Smith in the points standings.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
@Jeremy_Roenick: If I were playing now, they’d want my brain for a Science project. 13 concussions that I know of.
- In a bad week for head injuries, former NHLer Jeremy Roenick, now a commentator on Versus, reflects on his lengthy concussion history.
AROUND THE RINKS
DUCKS BOTTOMING OUT?
Unbelievably, the Anaheim Ducks of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne sank to the bottom of the Western Conference standings this week, even letting the Columbus Blue Jackets slip past them for a night, before they won the final game of a lengthy home stand over the Phoenix Coyotes to jump back to 14th. Key to the massive turnaround? Getting Lubomir Visnovsky back from the injured reserve list. Visnovsky decisively led all NHL defencemen in scoring last season (he had 68 points, Nick Lidstrom 62, nobody else cracked 60) but had missed 13 games recovering from a broken finger. With Visnovsky in the line-up, coach Bruce Boudreau had an experienced offensive threat from the blue line and permitted him to cut second-year pro Cam Fowler’s minutes back, something that should ultimately enhance his development. It didn’t hurt that Niklas Hagman, the reclamation project off waivers from Calgary, made the most of his time on the No. 1 line with Getzlaf and Perry, scoring twice to double his offensive output for the season.
SHARKS STRUGGLING AGAIN
Another year and more questions about the San Jose Sharks, a team perennially seen as a Stanley Cup contender, which always seems to goes through perplexing rough patches. Like the Ducks, the Sharks should theoretically have a lot of pop on paper, but ex-captain Patrick Marleau went through a recent stretch in which he failed to pick up a point in two weeks; and Joe Thornton has slumped as well and is nowhere to be seen in the top 40. Most curious of all is the play of defenceman Dan Boyle, who was eighth in scoring last year with 50 points, but is currently 31st, and in the midst of his worst statistical season in half-a-dozen years. The Sharks have won just two of their past nine to slip behind Dallas in the unexpectedly mediocre Pacific Division and there is all the usual angst in Silicon Valley - do they need a major shake-up if they ever plan to win anything?
WILL SOMEONE NAB NABBY
The New York Islanders have had one goalie too many on their roster all season and it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because Rick DiPietro is always hurt and lately, that’s also the case with ex-Shark netminder. Evgeni Nabokov. But Nabokov is healthy again after missing a month with a bad groin injury; scheduled to start playing soon; and then the intrigue will start. Nabokov is honoring a low-ball contract he signed with the Detroit Red Wings last year, designed to get him back into the NHL after an unsuccessful try at the KHL, but the Islanders put a stop to that by claiming him on waivers and eventually forcing him to honor the deal. Nabokov has been nobody’s idea of a saviour, but he’ll be attractive (for salary reasons, if nothing else) as a trading-deadline gamble for any team desperate to shore up its goaltending (hello Tampa Bay Lightning). Of course, Nabokov never could lead the Sharks to the Stanley Cup final, which is why he lost his job there in the first place. In the meantime, Al Montoya has essentially solidified the No. 1 job on the Island, making the most of his second chance, after coming over from the Phoenix Coyotes’ organization, where he was buried in the minors and getting nowhere.