November 25, 2007

Puttin' On the Foil - A Weekly NHL Recap 11/25

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It's pretty frightening that we're already passed American Thanksgiving and into the Christmas/Channukah season. Time really does fly by. It seems like yesterday we were in London waiting on the O2 Arena to fix their lighting problem and get the Ducks/Kings game underway. That was September 29th. The grind of the NHL season is in full gear. Injuries start to linger. Arenas get even colder. The stitches start to pile up. The intensity of games increase. What more could a fan want?

What is the deal with home teams wearing white in their own building this season? I thought the NHL decreed that road teams wear white jersey's and home teams wear their dark set? Last night, the Maple Leafs wore their blues on the road in Phoenix while the Coyotes had their whites on. Was this because the game on was on Hockey Night in Canada? Earlier this season, the Capitals did the same thing against the Penguins in Washington because they had marketed that game as a "white out". It was a poor showing by the fans. Also, the Islanders, on the night they honored Al Arbour in his 1500th game, wore white as well since they won three of their four Stanley Cups at home on Long Island.

There have been other teams that have done this as well this season and what I don't understand is why? What's the point of the NHL making this a "rule", yet allowing teams to bend it? You have to have some sort of consistency. If a team wants to wear the whites at home for a specific reason, let them use throwbacks instead of their current jersey's. When the Islanders honored Arbour against the Penguins, I think it would have been cool to see them wear retro uniforms, especially since two of the Hall of Fame coach's biggest accomplishments was the 1975 comeback down 3-1 in the playoffs and the 1993 upset victory, both against Pittsburgh.

At first, I wasn't a big fan of switching the colors at home when the NHL first implemented this a few years ago, but it's grown on me and I'm now accustomed to it. I know it's just a minor ripple in the big pond that is the NHL's issues, but it's something that's been bothering me since I've now seen it occur a handful of times already this year.

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Glen Hanlon was fired this week by the Capitals after their 6-13-1 start to the season. Washington was 3-0 after the first week, but have since struggled mightily, falling eight points behind Florida in the Southeast Division. Bruce Boudreau was the Caps minor-league head coach at the Hershey Bears for the past three years and will take over in an interim basis. Since he took over on Friday, Boudreau and the Caps have won two straight over Philadelphia and Carolina, that after they had lost 9 of their last 10.

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Hockey Canada is taking a stand against injuries caused by body checking. It was announce this week they will "outlaw checking until the age of 11." A study had shown that kids were twice as likely to have a severe injury in leagues that allowed checking, compared to those that had banned it. The focus is also to help players better develop their hockey skills.

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After missing four games due to a neck injury, Hurricanes forward Erik Cole returned to the ice on Friday night against Tampa. Cole notched an assist and seems to be fine after another neck injury a few weeks back. I can imagine the Hurricanes doctors are monitoring his neck closely as this was the second injury he has received to area in three seasons. Cole is one of my favorite players and he's a hard-working forward that definitely gives his all every shift. I'm happy to see him back out on the ice, yet am worried at the same time that another neck injury, could see an end to his NHL career.

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The Toronto Globe & Mail's Eric Duhatschek reports that as we hit the quarter point in the NHL season, while the usual suspects sit atop the league standings, there is a movement that shows parity is alive and well. Duhatschek notes that in the Western Conference, only eight points separates the last place Los Angeles Kings from the second place San Jose Sharks. In the Eastern Conference, just ten points sit between 14th place Buffalo and the Rangers who are second.

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Was Jiri Tlusty targeted in "photo-gate" last week that caused an uproar in the Toronto media? James Mirtle investigates and introduces many of us to the worthless gossip columnist that started it all, and how he did it.

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Who knew there was a coach incompetence advisory system? Barry Melrose Rocks warns those coaches around the league that are feeling the heat behind the bench.

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A fan of the Oil, MC79 Hockey, wonders if Kevin Lowe can trade his way out of the mess that he's found himself up in Edmonton.

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Is journeyman Martin Rucinsky the "most" player ever? Melt Your Face Off investigates. Rucinsky did get me two big goals when I was playing NHL 08 the other day, so I like him!

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I'm a little late to the party, but I found this after clicking around the other day. The Pens Blog lists some very interesting facts about Mario Lemieux. Did you know Mario Lemieux can speak braille?

Possibly the second best rendition of the National Anthem, next to Whitney Houston's at the Super Bowl. Wayne Messmer belts it out during the 1991 All-Star Game in Chicago, just days after US troops entered Iraq as part of the Gulf War.

The best goals around the NHL in the past week

Snoop Dogg being interviewed on Hockey Night in Canada during the Stanley Cup last June.

Another weekly staple here, this weekend's "Coach's Corner" featuring Don Cherry and Ron McLean from Hockey Night in Canada

Ilya Bryzgalov gets put on waivers by Anaheim, picked up by Phoenix the same day, then beats his old club a few nights later. Bryzgalov was 4-0 this week with his new club with a 1.20 goals-against average and .953 save percentage. He might be the saving grace of coach Wayne Gretzky.

Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs, Tuesday, November 27th, 7:30pm EST
The Leafs are struggling. The Habs are rolling. This rivalry is always intense and the Toronto media is already counting the days until either general manager John Ferguson Jr. and/or coach Paul Maurice are going to be fired. Will a loss against their long-time rivals be the final straw that broke Maple Leaf Enterprises back? Can Vesa Toskala or Andrew Raycroft bring consistency to both the Leafs and their individual games?

A behind the scenes look at a Penguins road trip to Florida when they faced off against both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

Back in the saddle I am, so come back next week for more "Puttin' On the Foil"

Ballhype: hype it up!

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