February 01, 2010
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
There are certain disadvantages to playing in the Western Conference. For one thing, many of your opponents will be good at hockey, and therefore it's hard to win games (this is, of course, not true of the Eastern Conference). For another, it's very hard to get any amount of publicity.
It's true. I looked it up on NHL.com just now. For those unfamiliar, he's the one that has a brother that looks just like him.
(Coming Up: More chatter about the weekend's big trades; preparing for a Sloppy Seconds reunion; Sex-y time is over for Anaheim; brilliant goals for Marleau and Crosby; Volchenkov lays the legal boom on Cammalleri; the Kings of the road; why the Senators are the best team no one's talking about; the Flyers turn to Krajicek; the return of David Booth(notes); Iginla-is-god update; fond farewell to Toskala; and a fan-invented way for Brian Burke to rescue Jordan Staal(notes) from Pittsburgh.)
Fun fact about Henrik: He has scored 75 or more points in each of the last five seasons (he now has 78 with 28 games to go this year). Some notable players to not do that are Jarome Iginla(notes), Dany Heatley(notes), Dany Alfredsson and Marian Hossa(notes).
Not that you'd know that. Even within the Vancouver media, there was constantly talk that the Sedins were "not first-line players." And no matter how many corpses were dropped on their line, they piled up points at or near a point-a-game pace. Has-been versions of Markus Naslund(notes), Pavol Demitra(notes) and Anson Carter(notes). Or Jason King(notes).
So now they have a competent linemate in Alex Burrows(notes), and look at the production from all three. They've scored 178 combined points in 144 man-games, and that's obviously with Daniel missing 18 games (a streak during which Henrik still scored 18 points). The twins are second and third in the league in points per game behind only Alex Ovechkin(notes), not that you've heard a word about it from Versus or NBC.
Perhaps the reason no one realizes how good the Sedins are: They rarely score flashy, or "Ovechkin-y," goals. Most of their goals look like this. Their ability to cycle is unrivaled by any on the planet and their preternatural knowledge of where the other was, is and will be borders on psychic.
I watched a Canucks game last week in which the Canucks struggled against the lowly Oilers. No one had a good night. Except the Sedin-run power play, which combined for all three Vancouver goals behind three assists from Henrik, the overtime game-winner and two assists from Daniel, a goal and an assist from Sami Salo(notes), and a goal from Burrows. That's when I decided to write this column.
This weekend, I was a little nervous watching the Canucks' game with Toronto. The Leafs, inexplicably led 3-0 and chased Roberto Luongo(notes), and the Sedin-Sedin-Burrows line hadn't done much. I couldn't in good conscience write a paean to the Sedins with no points between them in their most recent game, especially if it was against the Maple Leafs.
But they came alive in the third period as they are wont to do, scoring three rather Sedinish goals and finishing with three goals and two assists between them (Burrows, meanwhile, had 2-2-4 in the game) and simply took over the game like it was no big deal.
The way Alex Ovechkin is rampaging up the leaderboards in both goals and total points, it's likely that Henrik will be forced to relinquish his death-grip on the Art Ross frontrunner's spot pretty soon; but if this little run at the top makes even a few more people say, "Wow, the Sedins really are awesome," then that's okay with me. It might force the NHL to acknowledge the existence of the Western Conference beyond Detroit.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: After all the weekend's trading left the Ducks with no backup goaltender for tonight's game against Florida, they recalled Justin Pogge(notes) and sent down... Dan Sexton(notes)? Really? He has nine goals and nine assists in 28 games and is getting second-line minutes. Okay. And by the way, that the Ducks took on Jason Blake's(notes) contract is by far the funniest part of the Toronto trades.
Atlanta Thrashers: Atlanta's three options with Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) are simple: sign him, trade him, keep him for the rest of the season. I'm kind of hoping for the third option, just so all the breathless Twitter updating on Deadline Day goes for naught.
Boston Bruins: Sure, the Bruins have lost seven in a row as they plummet ever closer to a pair of top-5 picks (Peter Chiarelli says, "Thanks Burkie!"), but hey, at least Mark Stuart(notes) clobbered Anze Kopitar(notes).
Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres are doing very well in a pretty bad Northeast Division, but what do they need to get over the hump and be able to compete for a Stanley Cup? Could be some players from Carolina.
Calgary Flames: Look, Dion Phaneuf(notes) had to get traded. The Flames had too much invested in the blue line, had no offense to speak of, and a player that was dogged by trade rumors and reported attitude problems. The Flames just became more flexible both at the deadline and in the offseason. I'm fine with it. Is this as bad as the Doug Gilmour trade? Of course not. Does it make the Flames appreciably better? Maybe. I don't know why everyone's so up-in-arms. (P.S. Dion absolutely loves the media so Toronto will be a perfect fit for him.)
Chicago Blackhawks: Even with a loss to one of the worst -- though admittedly streaking -- teams in the league, the Blackhawks aren't feeling too bad about their eight-game road trip. They got their 10 points on the trip from Columbus (53 points), Detroit (62), Calgary (62), Edmonton (38), and San Jose (81). One of these things is not like the other.
Columbus Blue Jackets: We already knew that Columbus would be playing in Sweden next season (this is, I presume, due to their having four Swedes on the roster in Kristian Huselius(notes), Freddy Modin, Sammy Pahlsson and Anton Stralman(notes)), but now we know their opponent too. It's the Sharks, because of the one Swede on the roster, Douglas Murray(notes).
Dallas Stars: Lots of teams interested in various Stars players (Modano? Turco? Woywitka?). Personnel from Chicago, New Jersey, Montreal, Washington, Toronto (again?!), St. Louis, Carolina and Atlanta were all in the building last night.
Detroit Red Wings: Tomas Holmstrom(notes) was available for yesterday's game with Pittsburgh but was held out as a precaution. "Just confidence-wise I think it's good to have a couple days under his belt," said Mike Babcock. However, Holmstrom said, "I told Babs I could go, but he looked out there and said I couldn't skate very well." That'll help the ol' confidence.
Edmonton Oilers: It's been a crotch-kickingly bad 2010 so far for the Oilers and it's getting worse all the time. They went winless in January, got their dinner served to them by their biggest rival (who just happened to be almost as bad), and now Sheldon Souray(notes) fractured his wrist. The amount of enjoyment I got from typing that sentence should be illegal.
Florida Panthers: David Booth played for the Panthers yesterday, his first game since his brain got rattled around back in late October and missing 45(!) games. He got an assist on Florida's first goal, took three shots, and really looked pretty good. He's still a long-shot for Team USA but come on, Burke, whaddaya say? Let the kid have a skate. He's on a point-a-game pace since returning from injury!
Los Angeles Kings: With a stunning, late comeback win against New Jersey, the Kings just completed their first 5-0 road trip ever. They looked awful for the first 55 minutes or so and then they got two goals through screens inside of two minutes to go and that was that. It was a very impressive final push.
Nashville Predators: Even with a 4-3 win over Atlanta to end a five-game losing streak, Nashville probably needs some shaking up. On the Forecheck has a gander at what the team needs to do to get its act together.
New Jersey Devils: With yesterday's 3-2 loss to LA, Marty Brodeur became the second goalie in NHL history to play in 15 games in back-to-back months. Backup Yann Danis(notes) hasn't gotten a start since Nov. 21.
New York Islanders: Ugly stats for the Isles, who lost their fifth in a row on Sunday. The power play, penalty kill and goals for per game are all 28th in the league. Their goals against per game, though, shines at 23rd. It says a lot about how bad the East is that they're only two points out of a playoff spot.
New York Rangers: If the trade reported last night by TSN goes through, then Glen Sather has compromising pictures of Darryl Sutter. That is the only possible way to explain this perplexing and unnecessary trade that sends Olli Jokinen(notes) and Brandon Prust(notes) to New York for Ales Kotalik(notes) and Chris Higgins. Jokinen has one fewer point than the two Rangers combined, and has an expiring contract. Kotalik is terrible and signed for $3 million a year for this season and the two after that. Brilliant move by Sather, legendarily stupid move by Sutter, if it happens the way it's currently configured.
Crosby also scored the Pens' only goal in regulation.
San Jose Sharks: Dan Boyle(notes) has now missed four straight games for San Jose, but they don't mind so much because Jason Demers(notes) scored a couple of bombs on Saturday, so it would appear blue line production is not a problem.
St. Louis Blues: Enforcer DJ King(notes) is back with the team following a few weeks of AHL rehab time after he broke some bones in his hand on Oct. 24. Asked if there was any way he could test the hand out that didn't involve a hockey fight, Cam Janssen(notes) quipped from one locker stall over, "Yeah, if you want to go to jail."
Toronto Maple Leafs: The best part about yesterday's trades: Burke traded away 55 of Toronto's 148 goals (already below league-average) and got back 11, so the hilariously frustrated posts at Pension Plan Puppets will likely triple as the season progresses. Second-best part: Phaneuf/Avery in the Sloppy Seconds Showdown on March 27 and April 7.
Washington Capitals: Once again, no wings for Caps fans. That's two games in a row they haven't scored five goals and four in the last seven. What a bunch of bums. Guess they'll have to settle for winning 10 straight. This picture says it all.
Play of the Weekend
Say, Patty Marleau, would you like to tie your career high for goals with like 30 games left in the season by doing something ridiculously awesome?
I thought you might say that.
Gold Star Award
With his team the losers of nine straight and badly in need of something, anything, about which to feel good, Jarome Iginla said, "Hop on, boys!" and carried the Flames to a hilariously easy victory over the hilariously bad Oilers. Two goals, two assists. Seven points in his last three games. Think Jarome Iginla might be back... just in time for the Olympic break.
Minus of the Weekend
Ashes to ashes and all that.
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
User "Shak19" thinks he knows what Burke is up to when he hints that more moves are on the way.
LW Nik Kulemin (former linemate of Malkin at Magnitogorsk)
LW Alex Ponikarovsky
C Jordan Staal
The shocking truth: Shak19 is a Toronto fan.