BY THE NUMBERS
In a single season, goals scored and hits recorded by Colorado Avalanche forward (and Calder Trophy candidate) Gabriel Landeskog, only the second rookie to manage that unique double since the NHL began recording hits as an official stat. The first to do it was Dion Phaneuf with the Calgary Flames in 2005-06.
Cody Hodgson scored his first two goals in a Buffalo Sabres’ uniform Wednesday vs. Montreal after earning his first two assists two nights earlier in a win over Tampa. Before that, Hodgson had gone without a point in his first 10 games since joining Buffalo in a trading-deadline deal with the Vancouver Canucks.
THEY SAID IT
“It was the law of averages. He had been tough on us, but it was our time to get him.”
~ Paul Stastny
The Colorado Avalanche centre set up the game-winning goal as the Avs finally defeated Miikka Kiprusoff for the first time in 11 games, securing a valuable point in the race for one of the final Western Conference playoff spots.
“When I first went there [Calgary] our captain lived in Edmonton and their captain lived in Calgary. Where was the rivalry? You’ve got tougher traffic than me?”
The Los Angeles Kings’ coach says that the Calgary Flames-Edmonton Oilers’ rivalry was overblown in his time with the Flames, and that Calgary’s true rivals in that time were the Vancouver Canucks.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
First W against Detroit, about time! Big goal by Captain Cally on his Bday:) Zetterberg told me last night he would score 5hole...Bastard!
New York Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist both celebrates and laments a 2-1 victory over the visiting Detroit Red Wings.
AROUND THE RINKS
Curious statistical anomaly
If the NHL playoffs began today, the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars would be the No. 3 seeds in the Eastern and Western Conferences respectively, as the division leaders (winners) in the Southeast and Pacific Divisions (and enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round). But the Panthers and Stars have another discouraging fact in common – both teams have given up more goals than they’ve scored. Through Thursday, Florida was sitting with 183 goals for and 201 against, while Dallas was slightly better – 193 for and 195 against. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right that one team, let alone two, can potentially win its divisions, while being outscored over an 82-game season. Of course, the Southeast is so bad this season that all five teams are in the same statistical deficit – more goals permitted than goals scored. Cumulatively, they are an ugly minus-109. Remind me again what was so wrong with that four-conference realignment plan that was scuttled earlier this season? Oh yeah. It might permit some unqualified teams to back into the playoffs.
Two weeks after the Boston Bruins added backup goaltender Marty Turco from Salzburg of the Austrian League, the Tampa Bay Lightning are doing the same with Sébastien Caron, the former Pittsburgh Penguins’ prospect, who has spent most of the past five seasons playing in Germany. Tampa is running out of goaltending options; Mathieu Garon, who’d been their de facto No. 1, is out with a serious groin injury and rookie Dustin Tokarski struggled in five appearances (1-3-1), so GM Steve Yzerman signed Caron until the end of the season to see what he could do. Turco has had limited success in 81 minutes of playing time for Boston (4.44 GAA, .824 save percentage), and might get some game action as the Bruins complete a swing through California this weekend, but he is a short-term fix. Tampa, meanwhile, needs to bolster its goaltending after Dwayne Roloson’s play finally fell off a cliff this year (he is officially dead last in NHL goaltending stats, just behind Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets and James Reimer of the Toronto Maple Leafs) so for Caron, it’s a tryout of sorts. Show enough and maybe he earns a contract for next year. Figure, too, with Evgeni Nabokov officially off the market after signing a one-year, $2.75-million extension with the New York Islanders, the Nashville Predators may get a few calls on backup Anders Lindback, who will be looking for a chance to establish himself as a No. 1 next year.
Hitchcock’s big season
With the St. Louis Blues gradually pulling away from the rest of the Western Conference, and the President’s Trophy within sight, coach Ken Hitchcock is the odds-on favourite to win his first Jack Adams trophy as the NHL’s coach of the year – and says his team is getting a good test these days because of their unexpectedly lofty place in the standings. “It’s our first go at wearing a target, so it’s a brand-new experience,” said Hitchcock, who was the runner-up to Ted Nolan for the 1997 Adams and hasn’t come close since. “We get somebody’s ‘A’ game and the next night they lose something like 6-1. Every game has felt like a single elimination playoff game. Overall that’s going to help us down the road, but it’s made for very hard hockey now.” The Blues are hoping to get Alex Steen, Matt D’Agostini and Andy McDonald all back in time for the playoffs, following lengthy injury absences. A Civil War buff, Hitchcock says his years of doing Civil War re-enactments have taught him a lesson about injuries. “When you lose guys along the way, you mentally discard them,” said Hitchcock, who is 66-55 lifetime in the NHL playoffs. “If you start coming in and complaining or bemoaning the fact that you don’t have this or that, you just build in an excuse for the guys, so I don’t do it. I worked for Bobby Clarke and I didn’t dare ever bring up who was missing. He wouldn’t allow it. That’s just the way it is.”