Posted on: January 8, 2012 12:37 am
Edited on: January 8, 2012 1:07 am
By: Adam Gretz
The wait is over for Jarome Iginla.
During the third period of Calgary's 3-1 win against the Minnesota Wild, the 15th year NHL veteran became the 42nd player in NHL history to score 500 career goals, netting his 16th of the season at the 8:33 mark of the period, beating goaltender Niklas Backstrom. It may not have been the prettiest goal of his career, and it was more of a pass that took a fortunate bounce than a shot, but they all count the same.
Originally a first-round draft pick (11th overall) by the Dallas Stars back in 1995, Iginla has scored all of his goals as a member of the Flames after being acquired in the December, 1995 trade that sent forward Joe Nieuwendyk to Dallas.
Since being acquired he's been a model of consistency, having scored at least 30 goals in each of the past 10 seasons, a streak that also includes four 40-goal seasons and a pair of 50-goal seasons, as well two campaigns (2001-02 and 2003-04) where he led the entire league in goals scored.
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:56 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 4:47 pm
On the season they have scored 138 goals (most in the NHL) and only allowed 69 (fewest in the NHL). For the mathematically impaired, that's exactly twice as many goals for as against. They have an absolutely staggering plus-69 goal differential on the season.
To put that in further perspective, here's a stat that was pointed out to me by a friend. In only half a season, the Bruins' plus-69 is better than all but three teams' season total in the last three years.
Since their 3-7-0 start, it's been utterly ridiculous what they have done. Their record since is 23-3-1. That means they have earned 47 of the past 54 possible points.
It's scary to think about, but the numbers point to the Bruins being a better team than they were a season ago when they beat the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final.
Well the Canucks will get their one and only chance this season to see how much better, if at all, the Bruins are than a season ago.
These teams have had rather similar paths since their great seven-game Final a season ago. The Bruins have received a lot of the attention for the way they have just been steamrolling the competition, but the Canucks are going through a somewhat similar season. They, too, rebounded from the long postseason with a sluggish start but have since come to play the way they were expected. They have retaken their seat atop the Northwest Division and are in the thick for best record in the league.
It's no exaggeration to say that these very well could be the two best teams in the NHL again this season.
Yet this Saturday's matchup in Boston isn't as much about this season as it is about last season, specifically the Finals.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of hype for that game, but we’re a different team than we were last year. We’ve added some different components,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told ESPN.com. “Boston is pretty much the same team, but it’s a new year. We’re going to just go in there and try and play our best game.”
There was enough hostility in that seven-game series to last for three series. We had finger-biting, tire-pumping, trash-talking and rioting. Well OK, that last one wasn't in the series, but still.
The biggest bit of trash talk that came out publicly wasn't until after the series when now retired Bruins forward Mark Recchi said he has never hated an opponent like he did those Canucks. That prompted Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa to suggest Recchi go play a round of golf or take a nap.
Recchi, now working with NBC, did backtrack this week.
“I probably shouldn’t have said anything and I wish I wouldn’t have, but that’s what happened and that’s how the series was,” Recchi told Vancouver’s The Province. “People know I love B.C. and Vancouver and it was an unbelievable series but there was a lot of dislike on both sides. And it wouldn’t have been a Stanley Cup final if there wasn’t that much dislike -- we really didn’t like each other.”
It's not likely that the dislike has worn off in the half-year since.
The rematch will have about all you could ask for in a midseason contest, assuming the Bruins don't turn it into a snoozer with another rout.
I haven't come across anybody who doesn't like Jarome Iginla. The Calgary Flames forward has long been the epitome of what people want in their professional athletes. He's humble, approachable, charitable and of course talented.
He's on the cusp of reaching a great milestone, sitting one goal away from No. 500 in his career. Quite honestly, it's about the only reason why non-Flames fans would want to watch Calgary at the moment.
Iginla told CBSSports.com this week that the pursuit of the milestone isn't something that he's been worried about, but he certainly has thought about it.
"No, it hasn't weighed, but now that I'm at 499, you definitely try not to think about it on each shot and think 'well it could be' or whatever. So I think about it a little bit," Iginla said. "But once you get to the game you're just competing and want to win the game. I don't look at it like I'm counting down games. Just keep going and just keep trying to shoot and get chances and keep the same approach. But you definitely think about it a little bit."
Because of the World Junior tournament that just ended on Thursday with one hell of a game between Sweden and Russia, the Flames have been road warriors for the past couple of weeks. But on Saturday night they'll return home to the Saddledome to take on the Minnesota Wild with Iginla still just one away.
In a way it's great that Iginla didn't reach the milestone in the past week for it will give him a chance to do it back home in Calgary. He'd be applauded handsomely in whichever city it happened, but it's always best to do these things at home.
Certainly the team will be happy to be back home, too. The Flames petered out the end of their seven-game road trip, losing the last five, including that 9-0 rout in Boston.
"We feel that we're good at home and that we're confident," Iginla said. They better hope so, they don't want to fall too far behind in the playoff picture.
One team that has crawled back into the playoff picture is the Washington Capitals. The Caps were, to be frank, very average for a good chunk of the first half. However they have begun to play just how they were expected to. That's every more so the case with Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin had gone 23 straight games without multiple points in one night. He snapped that streak and has since run off four consecutive multi-point games. Maybe he had a great Christmas. Or perhaps it was the excitement of his two-year anniversary as captain. Whatever the reason, he has elevated his game big time and probably not coincidentally, so has Washington.
They travel to the West Coast to take on the San Jose Sharks on Saturday riding a four-game win streak. Again, it's no coincidence that Ovechkin has four straight multiple-point games.
But I'm still not 100 percent sold this team is back to its big-time status. Of the four wins, three have come at home where they have been very tough to beat, regardless of the overall mediocre performance. The fourth was a road win at Columbus. So this trip to San Jose, where they haven't won since 1993, will be a better gauge to see how the Capitals are coming along under Dale Hunter. Once they start winning on the road, then I'll start believing in them again.
Boom! Madden's debut
The Florida Panthers are still beating the odds and hanging onto first place in the Southeast Division. On Friday night they'll get some reinforcement to help them stay there.
Recently signed veteran John Madden is expected to make his debut with the Panthers in New Jersey. It's an interesting place for his first game as a Panther considering he spent the majority of his career with the Devils and helped them win two Stanley Cups.
That adds to the storyline this season of Devils coach Peter DeBoer facing his former team. Really, that doesn't hold much weight after the first meeting, so Madden's debut puts a little zest in another game between the two.
I'm sure the Devils fans will give Madden a nice, hearty hand even if he's in the other team's red.
More Wings work
It's going to be an Original Six weekend for the Detroit Red Wings.
On Saturday they will get a crack at their neighbors a little to the Northeast in the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite not being in the same conference, these two teams still have a good rivalry that stretches way back. Their proximity to each other helps too. It's why so many want to see the Leafs play in next year's Winter Classic against the Wings, possibly in the Big House.
Once they are done with the team from Toronto, they face their other Original Six big rival, the one that's still in their division. The Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks will wage a big battle on Sunday that will continue to help shape the ever-tight Central Division.
Great weekend of hockey for the folks in Hockeytown.
We're going streaking!
Here are the winning streaks and losing streaks in play entering the weekend.
Capitals: Aforementioned four-game win streak with the one game at San Jose.
Sharks: Not mentioned above, the Sharks also come into the game against the Caps hot, having won three in a row.
Flames: They look to end their five-game skid against the Wild on Saturday.
Anaheim Ducks: Three losses in a row and counting? With all their players now on the trade block, they face the Islanders and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Alain Vigneault, Alex Ovechkin, Boston Bruins, Brian Stubits, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dale Hunter, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Jarome Iginla, John Madden, Kevin Bieksa, Mark Recchi, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Peter DeBoer, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Weekend Preview
Posted on: December 11, 2011 4:34 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2011 4:55 pm
There was concern going into this season for the people in St. Louis regarding the team's goaltending situation. Jaroslav Halak had been subpar in his first year with the Blues, exacerbating the need for a quality backup should things not improve.
So with the choices on the board, who did they sign? Brian Elliott, a castoff by both the Senators and Avalanche. His signing was so underwhelming that there was no guarantee he would even open the season with the Blues. There was an honest-to-goodness competition for the second goalie spot between he and young Blues prospect Ben Bishop.
If you've been paying attention to the first third-plus of the season, then you know how that competition turned out. But it's my duty to pretend that my readers are dumb and don't know a thing (sorry people) so I'll just tell you that Elliott won out.
And he's been winning ever since.
Despite being the "backup" to Halak, Elliott is tied for the league lead in shutouts after Saturday's blanking of the San Jose Sharks. He also leads the league with his jaw-dropping save percentage (.947) and goals against average (1.45).
"I'm satisfied, but I'm not too high on myself," Elliott said after the 1-0 victory on Saturday. "Sometimes you feel it, sometimes you don't."
Truth is, he has had to be that good. The Blues aren't exactly scoring like their division foes in Detroit.
While the coaching change from Davis Payne has worked wonders for the Blues and Halak, it would be unfair to credit Elliott's success to that, too. He was outstanding before the change, he's been just as excellent after it.
It's rather amazing when you think where he came from. As we mentioned, his signing was just a little underwhelming and uninspiring. Why? Consider that last season he played for both the Senators and Avalanche after a mid-season trade, a straight goalie swap for Craig Anderson. For the whole season, Elliott was 15-27-9, including 2-8-1 with the Avs. That .947 save percentage this season? Last season it was .893.
That's quite a turnaround. It's not like he's just become suitable this season, he's been outstanding. You could make the argument that he's been the MVP for the Blues this season. Honestly, I have a hard time making an argument for anybody but Elliott considering Hitchcock isn't a player.
"He seems to always be our best player in the third period," said Kevin Shattenkirk, who scored the only goal in the game. "When we're up by a goal, he's always there to make a huge save."
He had to make 11 saves in the third against the Sharks to preserve the win, obviously with no room for error.
I can't say that Elliott is the reason why the Blues are knocking on the Blackhawks' and Red Wings' doors in the Central. It would obviously neglect a lot of other factors at play. But Elliott could very well be at the top of that list.
Among a lot of the concerns surround the Capitals, one was the power play's struggles. They had recently just gone through an 0-for-17 streak -- or skid, if you'd prefer. Then the Caps scored all four goals in a 4-2 win over Toronto on Friday with the man up.
Originally three were credited to Dennis Wideman with an assist on the fourth goal, but it was reviewed at Wideman's request on Saturday and the hat trick was taken away. But for a night at least, Wideman had the first hat trick by a Capitals defenseman in more than a decade (Sergei Gonchar in 2000).
But more immediately, there is hope that the Capitals might have found some hope for the man-up. Of course, the opposite side of the coin is that it came against the Leafs.
There is no doubt that the PK continues to be the Achilles' heel for Toronto. After Friday's awful showing, the Leafs are above only the Blue Jackets in successful PKs at 74.3 percent.
When it was announced that the Dallas Stars would be without Kari Lehtonen for some time due to injury, Stars fans were right to be worried at the process of Andrew Raycroft getting more time. Not a reason for much optimism.
With the win, he likely earned himself a start for the Stars' next game Tuesday at the Rangers.
"He's a competitive guy, and he's pretty clean when it comes to rebounds," said coach Glen Gulutzan, who coached the former Colorado College goalie in the minors last season. "I just told him when he went out there, `It's the same game that you've been playing.' He has that ability, and he's going through the natural progression. He deserves another start, and most likely we'll give him that opportunity and see if he can run with it."
The two points put the Stars back on top of the Pacific Division, which has been surprising this season, and not so much in a good way. The Stars and Coyotes are tied atop the division, but they are each 10 points behind the top team in the West, the Wild. If the division winners weren't awarded the one of the top three seeds, the Stars would be the sixth seed.
On the other bench ...
What's going on with the L.A. Kings? I'll tell you one thing, Terry Murray can't be feeling very comfortable with his job these days.
There was so much hope coming into this season for the Kings. They had been growing every season, they added Mike Richards. It appeared the Kings were on their way to their best season since the days of Gretzky.
They still could be, but they'll have to right the ship in a hurry. Would you believe that there is no team in the NHL worse at scoring goals than Los Angeles? Its 2.21 goals per game ranks at the bottom of the NHL< including below the Ducks in nearby Anaheim. Nothing like low-scoring games to sell hockey in SoCal.
When your cross-town rival makes a move firing its coach and you are being booed off the ice, it's time to wonder if the end is in sight for Murray.
The Wings are good
Just in case you missed that memo.
I was getting ready to start talking about the Winnipeg Jets and how they were extremely quietly inching their way up the Eastern Conference. Then they went to Detroit and were railroaded.
The Red Wings had seven goals from six different scorers -- and none of them was Pavel Datsyuk. It was Detroit's ninth straight win at home where they are 12-2-1 this season. Those are the most wins at home for any team this season.
Some things never change.
What is it about the Battle of Alberta that the Oilers are having so many problems with?
Half of the season's six games have been played between the Oilers and Calgary Flames this season, and the boys from Edmonton have yet to pick up a single point. Against the rest of the NHL, the Oilers are 14-10-3.
The most recent rendition of the provincial rivalry saw Jarome Iginla flash some of his old form with a pair of goals and the Flames took the game 3-0.
Most everybody would agree that the Oilers are likely the better team between the two, but they just can't beat their neighbors. I guess that's why they play the game (well that and winning, right Herm?).
Quote of the weekend
If I were to take a poll of NHL fans who have the Center Ice package which announcer is the biggest homer around? I think it would be a two-horse race between Paul Steigerwald in Pittsburgh and Bruins play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards.
So for this week's QOTW, we're going to take a light-hearted look at a call from Edwards in the Bruins' win over the Blue Jackets.
On the play, Derek Dorsett is driving toward the net to try and beat Tim Thomas, but his shot attempt is stopped and he then goes skidding into the boards. Here is Edwards' call, you might be surprised (like me).
Yes, that is Edwards rather vehemently arguing against a penalty that went on an opposing player. Clearly he was right, in no way, shape or form was that goaltender interference. If anything, it was interference from Tomas in the form of a trip on Dorsett, who was a bit worse for the ware afterward.
Before you jump down my throat, calm down. I have no problems with local announcers catering to the home team, that is their audience. But sometimes it goes overboard and is comical. So when I hear somebody this adamant in another team's defense, it's "ear-catching."
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Andrew Raycroft, Ben Bishop, Boston Bruins, Brian Elliott, Brian Stubits, Calgary Flames, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Davis Payne, Dennis Wideman, Derek Dorsett, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Glen Gulutzan, Jarome Iginla, Jaroslav Halak, Kari Lehtonen, Ken Hitchcock, Kevin Shattenkirk, Los Angeles Kings, Mike Richards, Pavel Datsyuk, Richard Bachman, Sergei Gonchar, St. Louis Blues, Terry Murray, Tim Thomas, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, Weekend Wrap, Winnipeg Jets
Posted on: December 7, 2011 12:09 am
Edited on: December 7, 2011 12:41 am
By: Adam Gretz
Mike Murphy, 22-year-old goaltender for the Carolina Hurricanes, made his NHL debut on Tuesday night in relief of starter Cam Ward after he allowed six goals on 32 shots against Calgary in a game the Flames ultimately won, 7-6.
Murphy entered the game with a little under nine minutes remaining in the third period and stopped the only two shots he faced ... and he still ended up taking the loss on the stat sheet, despite not giving up a single goal.
With the Hurricanes trailing, 6-4, head coach Kirk Muller pulled Murphy with less than two minutes to play in regulation to get an extra attacker on the ice. That was quickly followed by Calgary's Jarome Iginla scoring an empty-net goal to put the Flames up 7-4. Game over, right? Almost.
Over the final minute of the period, the Hurricanes quickly responded with a pair of goals from Chad LaRose and Eric Staal to cut the deficit to 7-6. Staal's goal came with just five seconds remaining on the clock. Because of that late, and basically meaningless goal, the seventh Flames tally, the one scored on the empty net, obviously became the game-winner. And even though it was scored without a goalie in the crease, since Murphy was the goalie that was pulled, allowing it to be scored, he is the one that gets credit for the loss. Without allowing a goal.
Welcome to the NHL!
It's not the first time it's happened in the NHL, as former Los Angeles Kings goalie Mario Gosselin (via the HfBoards) had something similar happen back in 1989 when he stopped all six shots he faced in relief of Kelly Hrudey in a 7-6 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
Photo: Getty Images
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: December 2, 2011 2:26 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 4:49 pm
On Thursday, one bit of trade speculation was squashed when Ducks GM Bob Murray said he thinks the talk of Bobby Ryan being traded is going to die down now that the team hired a new coach in Bruce Boudreau. It worked pretty well, the dreams have, for the most part, stopped.
Now Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster is taking his shot at stopping the rumors surrounding one of his Stars. That would be captain Jarome Iginla. The speculation has been circling around him wildly for some time. What team would love to have a veteran leader and scorer like Iginla?
While the Flames are struggling, Feaster told Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun. Rather emphatically, too.
“It is not true,” Feaster emphatically stated Friday morning at the Saddledome. ” Jarome Iginla has not been asked to waive his no-trade and Jarome Iginla has not demanded a trade or asked for a trade. There is no list. There is no smoking gun. There is nobody on the grassy knoll.
“What else do you need?”
Deals have reportedly been so close to done, all they needed were for Iginla to waive his no-trade clause and accept to be moved. The Montreal Canadiens were one team rumored to be close. Others have suggested the Dallas Stars, Iginla's original team, would be interested.
All the talk seems to have Feaster at his wit's end.
“Here’s the trouble. When it’s a non-story, and we have to stand here and rebutt it, the rebuttal becomes the story. It puts us in a position that I don’t know is fair to the organization and I know is not fair to Jarome,” Feaster said.
“One of the questions I have is where do these things start? Are they legitimate sources or is it a blogger in the basement in his underwear that says, ‘This is the rumour du jour’ and you guys feel the need to track it down.”
Ah yes, the old blogger stereotype. Well for the record I would like to state that I work in my pajamas, thank you very much.
But seriously, I see where Feaster is coming from, assuming he's telling the truth. It's a Catch-22, he can't let the rumors just fester and become a distraction for his team, so he has to address them. By doing that, he in a way legitimizes the rumors.
The best thing he could do is exactly what he's doing right here: Don't mix any words and flat-out deny. There will be plenty of people who still won't believe him, but it's his best option if he wants to quiet the crowds.
Now maybe he'll be singing a different tune when the trade deadline draws closer.
One player who could be on his way out of Calgary is Cory Sarich. According to Roger Millions (what a last name) of Sportsnet, Sarich has asked for a trade. Yes, that's correct, Sarich with a trade request.
With the news that Mark Giordano is going to be out indefinitely after partially tearing tendons in his leg, the Flames might not be interested in getting rid of a defenseman at the moment. But we'll see. The trades could pick up for the Flames.
Just know that right now they don't include Iginla.
Here is Feaster addressing the media on the matters at hand.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: November 11, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 4:16 pm
Methinks Jarome Iginla just won himself a lot more fans than he already has. That tends to happen when you say things that fans have been crying about for years.
It's no secret that most hockey fans abhor the shootout and despise a point going to the loser of games that go beyond regulation. The supporters of the system argue that it creates more parity and tighter playoff races. Critics call it a gimmick and say the apparent parity is a mirage. Why should you get a reward for losing?
Put Iginla in the camp that wants a win to be a win and a loss be a loss. From Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun:
It should be pointed out that Iginla isn't advocating the removal of the shootout, perhaps the most-often target of derision. He likes the NHL's idea for games not to end in a tie. The only problem for him is that single point teams get.
One of his teammate has similar feelings on the matter.
I know I’m on an island by myself here, but I don't mind the shootout the way everybody else seems to. I get why people don't like it, but it doesn't bother me. Much the same as a fight, the shootout is one of the few things to bring everybody to their feet in an arena and people watch intently.
But I would get behind the 3-2-1-0 format without a doubt. It would help take care of that tricky issue of a dominant 8-1 win being the same as a 2-1 shootout victory. That is problematic, no doubt.
So which format do you favor?
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: November 9, 2011 3:06 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 3:24 pm
Minnesota Wild forward Nick Johnson will not face any more discipline following his head-butt of Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla during a fight on Tuesday night. This according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The reaction by most was "What head-butt?" Well Iginla surely noticed one as during the scrap he began calling the official's attention to the perceived dirty move.
In case you missed it (the incident itself, not the head-butt, a lot of people watched and still missed that) here is the video again.
“I disagree with the call,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said after the game. “Jarome Iginla starts the thing, and then he calls it. He tells everybody on the ice that he head-butted him. All I saw was a guy trying to protect himself.”
Johnson was given a game misconduct after the fight.
“I just felt I got head-butted," Iginla said. "I haven't had that very often in a fight. I thought the refs made the right call and that was pretty much the end of it. You get fired up in a fight, and I felt like he got me a couple of times there in the head.”
This was the right call by Brendan Shanahan, and probably the easiest call he has had to make since taking over from Colin Campbell. I can see the head-butt, but it looks like a pure accident. Johnson is bobbing and weaving trying to avoid the fists of Iggy during a fight. In no way does that appear intentional. Unless maybe you live in Calgary.
Posted on: November 8, 2011 11:36 pm
By: Adam Gretz
During the second period of Tuesday's Minnesota-Calgary game, Wild forward Nick Johnson was ejected following a fight with Flames captain Jarome Iginla. The reason for the ejection? The referees determined that Johnson delivered a head butt to Iginla during the altercation.
The only problem is when you watch the video the alleged head butt is almost impossible to notice. Even on the slow motion replay. If it even happened.
You can also see the referee giving it to Wild captain Mikko Koivu when he tried to insert himself into the conversation between the ref and Minnesota coach Mike Yeo. Based on the video, the Wild have plenty of reason to be upset.
Johnson, acquired by the Wild on waivers before the start of the regular season, recorded an assist on Tuesday night before he was ejected. He entered the game with one goal and one assist in nine games this season.