Hey, isn’t that Markus Naslund in Vancouver? And look, there’s Dion Phaneuf back in Calgary!
If only Wayne Gretzky would return to Edmonton, it’d be a hat trick for the ages.
Of course, Naslund was in Vancouver last weekend for a retirement ceremony, while Phaneuf skated in Calgary – and his hometown of Edmonton – as captain of the Leafs. As to be expected, the Canucks fans greeted Naslund much more warmly than the Flames supporters welcomed back Phaneuf.
Here’s a look at how the NHL’s Canadian teams fared last week – and a look ahead to what’s in store on the weekend.
The Week That Was: It was like 1999 all over again in Vancouver on Saturday night, with Markus Naslund being feted by the fans and Mattias Ohlund back in the building. The Canucks raised Naslund’s No. 19 to the rafters before a game against Tampa Bay, featuring ex-Van blue liner Ohlund in Lightning colors. Naslund is just the third Canuck to be honored, joining Stan Smyl and Trevor Linden. (The retired superstar isn’t resting on his laurels, however, as he was named GM of MoDo in the Swedish Elite League.) The Canucks couldn’t send Naslund off on winning note, however, as Tampa’s Steven Stamkos blasted a power-play goal past backup goalie Corey Schneider early in overtime. It was Schneider’s first start in nearly a month; despite losing 5-4, he made a dent on the score sheet with a pair of assists. (Take that, Roberto!) Vancouver rebounded the next night, nipping Edmonton 2-1 with the Sedin twins – and wannabe triplet Alex Burrows – doing all the damage. Roberto Luongo lost the shutout when Jordan Eberle scored with five seconds left, but the Canucks stopper stood tall when it counted, denying Magnus Paajarvi on a first-period penalty shot. Finally, Ryan Kesler collected his first career hat trick against Columbus on Wednesday, scoring all of Vancouver’s goals in a 3-2 win.
The Weekend That Will Be: The Canucks host Toronto on Saturday night.
The Week That Was: It’s a week that Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf will remember for a long, long time. After a 3-1 win over Montreal on Saturday – a game in which Tomas Kaberle scored his first goal in 35 games – all eyes turned to Phaneuf as Toronto travelled to Alberta. Phaneuf, remember, was born in Edmonton and spent the first five years of his NHL career on Calgary’s blue line before being traded to the Leafs last January. Fortune smiled on the brash defender as he collected his first goal of the season against the Oilers, but the emotional return to Cowtown didn’t go as hoped. Calgary scored three times in 57 seconds to blow the game wide open late in the second period, and Phaneuf hauled down Jarome Iginla in the third. Iginla failed to score on the ensuing penalty shot, but Flames fans made sure to voice their pleasure over Phaneuf’s miscue. It must be true: You can never go home again.
The Weekend That Will Be: The Leafs conclude their one and only trip to western Canada with game in Vancouver on Saturday night.
The Week That Was: The Flames rallied from a two-goal deficit against the Ducks on Friday, but the end result was the same as it always is when Calgary visits Anaheim: a loss. The Ducks have defeated the Flames 12 consecutive times – and 21 out of the past 22 times – in California. The good news? Backup goalie Henrik Karlsson turned in another solid performance; maybe Miikka Kiprusoff won’t have to play 75 games this season. Calgary chased Columbus goalie Steve Mason out of the net with two goals before the game was five minutes old on Monday, but the Flames didn’t score again until Jarome Iginla – with his second of the game – scored in overtime to secure the victory. The most highly anticipated game of the week was Dion Phaneuf’s return on Thursday as captain of the Maple Leafs. The Flames had the last laugh, scoring three times in 57 seconds late in the second period to blow the game open, and Iginla was awarded a penalty shot late in the third when he was tripped by Phaneuf on a breakaway. The Flames captain failed to score, but that’s nothing new: Iginla is 0-for-6 on penalty shots in his career.
The Weekend That Will Be: Calgary hosts divisional rival Minnesota on Saturday (and then concludes the home-and-home series visiting the Wild on Monday).
The Week That Was: The Oilers remain in last place in the West, but there’s hope for the future as the kids are starting to click. Jordan Eberle has goals in three consecutive games; Taylor Hall collected three assists in a 6-3 win over Columbus on Thursday; Magnus Paajarvi had a goal and an assist against the Blue Jackets; and, YouTube shooutout sensation Linus Omark, recalled from the AHL last week, had a goal and two helpers in that same game. Omark’s NHL run began with some notoriety last Friday, when he dared to do a spin-o-rama during a shootout attempt against Tampa Bay. Omark scored to give the Oilers the win, but was scorned by Lightning goalie Dan Ellis, who said Omark’s move was disrespectful. (Ellis later backtracked.) After beating Tampa, Edmonton lost at home to Vancouver and Toronto, with Eberle scoring the lone tally for the Oilers in each game. Edmonton was outshot 32-12 by Vancouver, and the Oilers’ NHL-worst penalty kill surrendered two power-play goals against the Leafs. The win over Columbus improved Edmonton’s record to 3-2-1 during a six-game homestand.
The Weekend That Will Be: Happy holidays. Or at least enjoy the long weekend. Edmonton is off until they visit San Jose on Tuesday.
The Week That Was: The Canadiens endured their first three-game losing streak of the season, but all’s well that ends well: After losses to Detroit, Toronto and Philadelphia, Montreal snapped the skid with a 4-3 win over rival Boston on Thursday. Rookie defenseman P.K. Subban returned to the lineup against the Wings after a three-game benching, while backup goalie Alex Auld spelled Carey Price with a rare start against the Leafs. Price was back in net against the Flyers, but surrendered more than three goals in regulation for the first time this season in a 5-3 loss. Coach Jacques Martin went right back to his starter the next night against the Bruins, however, and was rewarded with a 4-3 victory. Mike Cammallerri got into the first fight of his NHL career, dropping the gloves with another unlikely combatant in Boston’s David Krejci.
The Weekend That Will Be: Montreal faces the team formerly known as the Quebec Nordiques when the Habs visit Colorado to play the Avs on Sunday.
The Week That Was: The Sens collected points in all three games they played last week, with an overtime loss to Atlanta sandwiched between victories over New Jersey and Minnesota. Ottawa scored 10 goals in the three contests; a modest amount, yes, but an offensive explosion for a team that managed just 20 goals in its previous 13 games. Even better, captain Daniel Alfredsson is off the snide, collecting goals in back-to-back games after a 10-game pointless drought. Milan Michalek and Jarkko Ruutu connected 2:16 apart in the second period as Ottawa ruined Martin Brodeur’s return to New Jersey’s net with a 3-2 win last Friday; the contest also marked the return to Ottawa of longtime Sens defenseman Anton Volchenkov, who signed with the Devils as a free agent in the summer. Jason Spezza scored on a penalty shot against Atlanta on Monday, but his drop-pass giveaway resulted in Bryan Little’s OT winner for the Thrashers. Pascal Leclaire was in goal for both victories, while Brian Elliott suffered the loss to Atlanta.
The Weekend That Will Be: Ottawa visits Colorado on Friday and hosts Washington on Sunday.