NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Thrashed By Lightning

1. As Ugly As It Gets
Talk about a severe shellacking: Tampa Bay demolished the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday night by an astounding score of 8-0. Where did this offensive explosion come from? It came, in large part, from Vincent Lecavalier, who scored a hat trick and also added two helpers to the stat sheet–now that’s a monster night by any human beings’ standards. Marc Denis recorded the shutout but had a relatively easy night, only having to sop 21 shots from a usually potent Thrasher offense. For the Lightning, it concluded a four-game losing streak, and kept them in the middle of the road in a Southeast Division led by Atlanta.

2. BIZZARO NEWS BREAK: Florida Beats Buffalo?!
No, folks, you do not have to adjust your computer screens. The headline was correctly written, and we apologize for any sudden outbursts of shock or disbelief. Strange things happen in this game of hockey, and a very strange thing happened on Thursday in Florida: the Panthers defeated the Sabres, 3-1. Stephen Weiss had a solid night for Florida, contributing to the tune of a goal and an assist. For the Panthers, it was their second straight victory–but perhaps more importantly, their offense was able to put pressure on Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. Miller made 35 saves, and gave a solid performance despite the loss. Don’t look now, folks, but we think a Panther comeback is in the works…

3. Beantown Shreds The Leafs
The Boston Bruins made sure that Toronto stayed cold on Thursday night, downing the Leafs by a score of 3-1. Boston’s Wayne Primeau had a goal and an assist– and also assisted netminder Tim Thomas to a easy night. Thomas stopped 23 of 24 shots to earn his twelfth victory of the season. It was the sixth straight loss for Toronto, who has dropped back down to the middle of the road in a busy Northeast. The Maple Leafs could be in danger of slipping to last if they keep performing as they have been of late.

Check It Out
CBC Sports takes a look at the retirement of Joe Nieuwendyk, and explains why he decided to hang it up without regret. With a guy like Joe Nieuwendyk, it doesn’t seem too surprising that he’s not dissatisfied or unhappy with his decision.

Game of the Night: Edmonton at Dallas
Stars have won three straight games

The Last Shot
San Jose winger Mike Bell was arrested and charged with a hit-and-run as well as a DUI on Thursday. Reports say his vehicle slammed into a truck waiting at a stop sign… can you say “dumb”?

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Can Anybody Stop the Sabres?

1. Briere Blitzes Tampa
Daniel Briere led the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-1 bashing of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night, scoring three goals for the first Hat Trick of his career. It is hard to believe that he’s never had one before this, seeing that he’s playing in his tenth NHL season (perhaps this is because he spent his first six seasons with Phoenix). Chris Drury also netted a tally, extending his goals-scored streak to four straight games. (Tampa’s Vincent Lecavalier also scored to continue his own streak of games with goals to four as well). Ryan Miller had another solid game between the pipes for the boys in the yellow slug jerseys, stopping 29 of the 30 shots he faced. Buffalo holds an 11 point lead in the Northeast Division, and still has not been below the number two spot in Matt Jordan’s power rankings this year.

2. Fredrik Fantastik
A sign of the apocalypse: the Columbus Blue Jackets have won two straight games, and their opponents haven’t hit the net in two full games. Say hello to Blue Jackets’ goalie Fredrik Norrena, who earned his second consecutive shutout in a 3-0 effort over the last-place Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday (his other victory came in a 4-0 win over Edmonton on Saturday). Norrena received help from Anson Carter, who racked up a goal and an assist in the game to lead the Jackets to their first-ever victory at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Readers, take it from us: you might want to read this paragraph again, because it may be a long time before we see “Columbus” and “won two straight” in the same sentence.

3. Hull To Rafters
The Detroit Red Wings crashed a nice little pregame celebration at the Scottrade Center, winning over St. Louis 5-1– shortly after Brett Hull’s #16 was raised to the rafters. Hull played 11 seasons for the Blues, and was able to tally up some impressive numbers in 19 NHL seasons (we won’t count last year’s brief stint in Phoenix), scoring 741 career goals and falling nine points shy of 1,400. The celebration, which came before the Blues lost their fifth straight game, seemed fitting to come on a night which featured two of Brett’s former teams (he played three seasons with the Red Wings). We highly doubt they’ll be retiring his number in the Glendale Arena, where he played five games for the aforementioned Coyotes before packing his bags and announcing his retirement.

Check It Out
Tuesday’s meetings to discuss possible changes to the schedule and the playoffs worked to no avail. NHL officials are keeping the schedules the way there are for the time being, meaning rare trips for Western Conference teams to the east coast, and vice versa. They also decided on keeping the playoff seeding format untouched, though there were some rumors that the postseason would be changed to a bracket-style tournament.

Game of the Night: Nashville at Anaheim
Top two teams in Western Conference battle it out

The Last Shot
Who doesn’t like a good hockey fight?

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Chicago fires coach Yawney

1. Blackhawks fire Trent Yawney
You think going back to work today was tough for you?  Consider Trent Yawney, fired today by the Chicago Blackhawks who have lost 12 of the last 15 games.  He was replaced by assistant Denis Savard.   No word on whether Yawney said during Thanksgiving dinner, “I am thankful for my job as head coach of the Blackhawks.”

2. Lighting Up The Sens
Tampa Bay goalie Johan Holmqvist chalked up 22 saves on Sunday night in a 3-1 win over a somewhat mysterious Ottawa Senators team. Holmqvist is hot, now having won a miraculous eight of his last nine starts to lead the Lightning back into the thick of things in a crowded Southeast Division. It prompts this question: why even have goaltender Marc Denis on the roster (this year, new Denis is 5-7-1, while Holmqvist is 8-3-0). Holmie’s terrific performance in net snapped a four game winning streak for a second-to-last Sens team, and also ended a seven game point streak for Ottawa sniper Daniel Alfredsson. Offensivley for Tampa, Brad Richards had an impressive night with a goal and an assist–helping the Bolts to their fourth win in the last six games.

3. Kari Goes Krazy
Thrashers’ netminder Kari Lehtonen produced one of the best performances thus far in the NHL season, leading Atlanta to a 1-0 win on Saturday night. He stopped all 37 shots that came his way from the sticks of the Florida Panthers, paving the way for his third shutout of the year. Florida has had no answer for the boys from “Blueland” this year, now dropping to 0-4 against Atlanta. This can be credited in large part to Atlanta’s penalty kill against Florida, who has been shut down to the tune of 1-for-23 in the four meetings between the teams. Ilya Kovalchuck increased his team lead in goals on Saturday, tallying the lone score for Atlanta.

4. BIZZARO NEWS BREAK: Columbus Wins
In an event that can only be considered bizarre, the Columbus Blue Jackets actually showed up to play on Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild. They walked off of the ice as a 5-3 winner in the contest, which is probably the most amazing thing to happen in the NHL in recent memory. Sergei Fedorov had a productive performance for the Blue Jackets, scoring two goals and adding two assists. Still, with only five goals and seven assists on the year, he has to be considered an underachiever (but it is tough to blame him completely, when he’s usually the only Columbus player awake on the ice). The win ended an abysmal stretch of eight straight losses for the Blue Jackets, and also gave new coach Ken Hitchcock his first victory behind the bench. For Minnesota, who is tied for first in the Northwest, it was not the first time they have lost to a last-place team. The Wild dropped a 4-3 decision to the Phoenix Coyotes on November 14th.

Check It Out
In an interesting story from The New York Times, this edition of NHL Notebook discuses the impact of Bo Schembechler’s loss in the NHL. It revolves around Rangers’ defenseman Aaron Ward, who has roots in Ann Arbor. Stories like these just cushion the stories we’ve all heard about Schembechler as not only a coach, but a man.

Game of the Night: Dallas at Detroit, 7:00PM ET
The Red Wings have lost five straight after winning nine in a row

The Last Shot’s Brian Cazeneuve releases his thoughts on a crowded Western Conference, as well as other notes from around the NHL. Brian tends to agree with us in thinking that Anaheim holds Western Conference supremacy.

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: So what do they do with all those hats?


1. Collecting Hats
Ilya Kovalchuck was the star for the Thrashers on Monday night, leading his team to a 5-3 win in Atlanta. The #1 overall draft pick in 2001 sent the hats flying with a Hat Trick, netting three Power Play goals and an assist in the game. Kovalchuk continues to impress, and is slowly forming into one of the best players in the league. Atlanta’s Johan Hedberg had a nice night between the pipes, stopping 24 of 27 shots faced on the way to his third straight win. Another big reason for the Thrashers’ success was the amount of time they spent on the man advantage. Boston committed 13 penalties in the game, allowing four Power Play goals.

2. Capping Off the Win
Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals walked out of the Verizon Center with a 4-3 Overtime victory on Monday night, trying to keep pace with the Atlanta Thrashers in a crowded Southeast Division. Ovechkin did his thing yet again – scoring two goals, including the game-tying Power Play goal with 24 seconds left in regulation. That would later set up Chris Clark for the game-winner in the extra period. The Senators held a comfortable 3-0 lead in the first period, but were unable to stall the Caps’ offense. Washington scored four unanswered goals over the next two and a half periods to earn the victory. With the loss, the Ottawa Senators have now lost four straight games and are in danger of slipping to last in the Northeast Division.

3. Lightning Strikes the Island
On Monday night in the Nassau Coliseum, the Tampa Bay Lightning downed the New York Islanders by a score of 5-1. Tampa Bay sniper Martin St. Louis scored a Power Play goal in the second period, breaking a 1-1 tie and launching a stretch of four unanswered goals for the Lightning. They also got some offensive help from an unlikely source in Defenseman Filip Kuba, who scored his forst and second goals of the season. Johan Hedberg got a rare start for Tampa, and made the most of it. He stopped 25 shots en route to his first win of the year.

Check It Out
Off Wing Opinion’s Eric McErlain talks about the NHL’s scheduling issues. He, along with the rest of the hockey world, would like to see less divisional games and more interconference contests.

Game of the Night: Minnesota at San Jose
Minnesota has won last four games at San Jose

The Last Shot
Former Red Wing Steve Yzerman received the Lester Patrick Award Monday, given to individuals who have made an impact on hockey in the United States.