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.
You and I are hockey fans. We love hockey. We'd watch hockey on a 13-inch black and white TV even if it was fuzzy and an Oilers game. We don't care.
But say you're just some guy that didn't care about hockey up until last Sunday's Olympic gold medal game, and you watched that game and said, "Oh man I thought hockey sucked. That was awesome! I hope I can watch more of it and soon."
This weekend showed exactly why the average sports fan was so quick to embrace the Olympics and trash the NHL in the same breath.
With what was assumed to be a surefire excellent matchup between two Original Six teams that just happen to be division rivals, one of which is among the best teams in the league and the other being theDetroit Red Wings, as the next game televised on NBC, what could possibly go wrong?
He was doing all right until about four minutes into the second period when he turned all ... well, Huet-y. Four goals on seven shots in 6:15 and the game, which Chicago had been leading 2-0, was pretty much over. It was a total gong show of goaltending ineptitude that not only underscored that they'll let just about anyone start an NHL game these days, but also that if you came in expecting Canada/USA-quality play, you might wanna be prepared to settle for Latvia-Norway.
And of course that game was marred by the day's first (though certainly not last) officiating mistake. American Hero Pat Kane, as the masses now know him, seemed to have put Chicago up 3-0 but the officials decided that Dustin Byfuglien(notes) had interfered with Jimmy Howard(notes). Of course, that wasn't what happened at all and any contact the two had was minimal to the point of not affecting the play. It was a huge swing in the game and it shouldn't have happened.
But the game was still exciting and Chicago did end up making it interesting before ultimately losing, so maybe people won't remember all the ways in which the game was disappointing. But if people are looking for an excuse to not watch hockey, then they got a couple of 'em.
And that'll be reinforced with this Matt Cooke(notes) nonsense. You can bet that gets splashed across all the ESPN pundit shows. Marc Savard carted off on a stretcher. Slo-mo replays of the moment of impact. Nothing in the way of an in-game penalty to Cooke. "How does he not get a penalty for that?" they'll rightly ask. More negative press is just what this league needs, right? More idiots saying that this kind of crap didn't happen in the Olympics so no wonder no one watches the NHL what a stupid awful league everyone hates. That'll happen for sure.
People need to be sold on hockey and having clown car goaltending; obviously incorrect, game-altering calls in games on NBC; and reprehensible thuggery aren't exactly a recipe for indoctrinating in the unwashed masses.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: As if you needed more reason to loathe Corey Perry, here he is punching Andrei Markov(notes) in the face for no other reason than Markov scored the tying goal against his team with 11 seconds to go in a game the Ducks tried to sit on for the last 40 minutes.
Carolina Hurricanes: The 'Canes seem to have rebounded well from that ugly loss to the Panthers. An effortless 4-0 win over the Thrashers is the best way to start another late-season winning streak.
Chicago Blackhawks: In the first 30 seconds of this video, Joel Quenneville breaks down why his team lost pretty well. "They scored on a power play, they scored 4-on-4, they scored on the rush and they scored late in the period." That'll do it, huh?
Colorado Avalanche: You've never seen an arena go so nuts for a goal that made a game 6-3 than you will when you watch Chris Stewart's(notes) hat trick penalty shot goal. Those last four words probably have something to do with it though.