March 14, 2011
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.
Not that he's going to compete for any postseason awards or even be mentioned as one of the impressive stories of this season, but can we just take a minute to appreciate a truly ageless, legendary player?
Teemu Selanne is almost 41 years old. He's got two bad knees and has been playing hockey in the NHL for parts of 18 seasons. He's also one of just 15 guys in the entire league to have scored a point a game or better this season. No one else on that list is older than 35.
Selanne is a remarkable, and unique, player in NHL history.
(Coming Up: Sidney Crosby(notes) is not retiring; Dan Boyle(notes) returns; Richards wants head-shot ban; Patrice Bergeron(notes) needs to get rolling; MLSE sale; one of the stranger goals of the season from PA Parenteau(notes); bad news for Latendresse; Carey Price's(notes) Ken Dryden moment; Vancouver and the Capitals are beating everyone; the Flyers continue to struggle; a terrible, terrible, terrible Shea Weber(notes) trade proposal for the team getting Shea Weber; and why it's time to Release the Cracknell!)
He succeeded in all the disparate eras in which he played, from the high-flying days of gong show defending when he scored 76 goals as a rookie to when he scored 30 or so a year like clockwork during the dead puck days of the mid-2000s.
He passed 1,000 points, long considered the benchmark of the league's elite talent, in 928 games. Five years ago.
It's odd that he never once matched the production of his sensational rookie campaign, instead scoring more than 50 just twice more in his career. But despite that, and despite large chunks of seasons lost to injuries and work stoppages, he's 14th on the all-time goal list.
Perhaps the best thing you can say about him these days is that unless your team is particularly stocked with talent, he'd be on its top line if he were traded right now. And he's not a guy like Mark Recchi(notes) or Mike Modano(notes) who changed their games to one extent or another to keep a place in the league (not to run them down or even to discredit Recchi's impressive 43 points in 68 games this year). He's still a lethal playmaker and can pick a corner on any goalie in the league like he did when he was 22.
The worst thing you can say about him these days is that he failed to register points between Dec. 26-28 and then again on Jan. 18-20.
Those are the only two times this season he was held pointless in back-to-back games, which is just mindboggling.
There have been a lot of reports out of the Finnish media that regardless of what happens this season, this will probably be Selanne's last. If it is, then that's too bad. But hey, the guy's 40. And he's been playing at an elite level for nearly two decades. Very few players can say that.
In fact, if Selanne finishes the year at better than a point a game, he will be the first person older than 40 to do so since 1976, and just the third ever. Johnny Bucyk was the last guy to do it, and some guy named Gordie Howe was the only other one.
Sean Gentille from the Sporting News has maybe the best way to sum up Selanne's career: He's everyone's favorite non-(team they support) of all time.
And if he isn't, he definitely should be. If for no other reason than because this picture exists.
Teemu Selanne rules. I hope he plays forever.
What We Learned
Boston Bruins: Hey Patrice Bergeron, you don't have any points in your last six games and the Bruins haven't won the last four. Coincidence? Probably not. Fun fact: He's got 16-23-39 in the Bruins' 38 wins, and just 5-6-11 in their 29 losses.
Buffalo Sabres: After Toronto beat the Sabres on Saturday, Lindy Ruff started layin' down the excuses nice and early. "We've got a tough turnaround, 5 o'clock game against a rested team, coming off the road," he said. "It's going to be a really tough test." Luckily, they were playing Ottawa, which started Curtis McElhinney(notes). So that was a guaranteed W even if the Sabres had to play a four-overtime game against the '72 Bruins for five minutes in Africa, five minutes before the puck dropped in Buffalo.
Calgary Flames: Calgary lost to Vancouver again on Saturday, which is no surprise. The Flames' six highest-paid forwards have a combined two goals and 10 points against the Canucks in five games this year.
Chicago Blackhawks: Headline: "Center of attention? Frolik says he's at ease in role." First quote from Michael Frolik(notes)? "I felt good in Tampa. I was surprised that I even won some faceoffs, too." Added Joel Quenneville, "I don't mind him there." Glowing praise all around.
Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets beat the Hurricanes, snapping a seven-game losing streak. Oddly, it was the second game of a back-to-back, their third game in four nights, and fourth game in six. How does scheduling like that happen this late in the year?
Detroit Red Wings: So the University of Maine got bounced from the Hockey East tournament by Merrimack on Saturday, leaving the Red Wings and draftee Gustav Nyquist with a decision to make. He led the nation in scoring as a sophomore and is pro-ready right this second. Because what the Red Wings really need is more ultra-skilled Scandinavian forwards.
Montreal Canadiens: Carey Price is the first Canadiens goalie since Ken Dryden to record eight shutouts in a season. I bet Jaroslav Halak(notes) couldn't draw a crowd for an autograph signing these days with a pen and paper.
New Jersey Devils: The Devils' best line on Saturday was… Clarkson-Tedenby-Josefson? You wouldn't guess it on paper, but the juggernaut snuck past the Isles on their combined two goals and four assists.
New York Rangers: "Of the current teams in first place [in their division] in the NHL, the Rangers have beaten every one of them except Detroit." They've also lost to every fifth-place-in-their-division team except Edmonton. What a fun game to play!
Ottawa Senators: The good news is at least one team named the Senators is probably going to make the playoffs this year. The other good news is the two Senators teams I'm thinking of have more or less the same roster at this point.
San Jose Sharks: Dan Boyle returned to the Sharks lineup after missing six games, had two assists, and saw his team lose in a shootout the Rangers. Stay away, Dan Boyle.
St. Louis Blues: Blues prospect Adam Cracknell(notes) picked up his first NHL goal on Saturday. That also gave us a nickname/catchphrase (Release the Cracknell!) not unlike the Be Sharps: witty at first, but less funny every time you hear it.
Gold Star Award
This is a play that has probably never happened in the history of the NHL. On Friday, PA Parenteau's was awarded a goal for being hooked down with an empty net in front of him, and did not record one shot on goal.
A shooting percentage of infinity? That's a record that'll never be broken.
Minus of the Weekend
Islanders upset with the officials? I wonder what in the world might have given those refs the idea that the Islanders commit more penalties than most teams!?
Play of the Weekend
This right here is a very Datsyukish goal.
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
This one, from earlier in the week, was sent in by a nice fellow named Tommy:
User "Davidhye" wants to shore up the Sharks' defense (presumably in the offseason, but you can never be sure with these people).
Murray, Braun, Seto, 1st, 2nd for Weber. Boom.
That explosion was the sound of millions of Sharks fans' voices that suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
You've come to the right place. By hiring me as your lawyer, you also get this smoking monkey.