Sports Outside the Beltway

They’re back- Detroit beats Colorado 3-2

The first NHL game since the Olympic break was From played last night.

The Detroit Red Wings are healthy and ready to make a run at the playoffs.Col-Det

That might bad news for the rest of the NHL.

Nicklas Lidstrom scored a power-play goal with 9:03 left in the third period and lifted the Red Wings past Colorado on Monday night and put themselves into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Tomas Holmstrom had a goal and two assists, Pavel Datsyuk had two assists and Jimmy Howard made 22 saves for Detroit, which won the first NHL game since Feb. 14 when the NHL took a two-week break for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Last night was the first time Detroit won back to back games since Jan 7-8. The Red Wings are currently 29-21-12 and 8th in the Western Conference race. I think they will make the post season but exit early. Detroit is getting old and a rebuilding period will start soon.


Up in the air- Spectator removed from rafters at Detroit Red Wing game

Sir, can I see your ticket? From AP-

An unidentified man was taken down from a conduit above a catwalk during a Detroit Red Wings game on Saturday night.

Almost an entire section of stands in the lower bowl was cleared out when the man was noticed during the second period of the Red Wings’ 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Joe Louis Arena.

After he was removed from the area, fans were allowed to return to their seats.

“We didn’t know what was going on until somebody pointed it out,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said.

Photographers have remote cameras stationed on the catwalk, but no one is usually there during games.

“He got in through one of the storage cages and came out through one of the cable traps used for show cables,” arena audio engineer Ricky Gopigian said.

Why didn’t they evacuate the stadium? It is routine for airports to be emptied if someone breeches security. One guy with a bomb in the rafters could literally bring down the roof.

I don’t know if I’m being serious or not in the above criticism. On the surface, it does sound inconsistent.


NHL Western Conference at the mid point of the 2009-10 season

Due to the Winter Olympics, the NHL season is being being played at a more accelerated rate than normal. For instance, prior to Christmas week the Florida Panthers had four games in a week, five straight weeks in a row.

A NHL season is 82 games in length. Half of 82 is 41. Most teams are at 41 games or more

San Jose 42 games 27 wins 8 losses 7 overtime losses 61 points
Chicago 41 28 10 3 59
Colorado 43 24 13 6 54
Phoenix 43 25 14 4 54
Calgary 41 24 12 5 53
Nashville 42 25 14 3 53
Vancouver 42 25 16 1 51
Los Angeles 42 24 15 3 51

Detroit 41 21 14 6 48
Dallas 41 18 12 11 47
Minnesota 42 20 19 3 43
St. Louis 41 17 18 6 40
Anaheim 41 16 18 7 39
Columbus 43 15 19 9 39
Edmonton 42 16 22 4 36

Bold denotes all teams who would make the playoffs as of this minute.
The above standings are as of 10 a.m. on Sunday January 3rd.

Teams all but certain to make the playoffs- San Jose, Chicago
Team that won’t make the playoffs- Edmonton

I think Detroit will get their act back together and make the playoffs. Who do I think they will bump? I’m not sold on Phoenix yet. Los Angeles is the next most likely team to drop from the top 8

Columbus won’t make the playoffs unless Steve Mason returns to his form of last season. Dallas could also climb into the top 8. I won’t rule out Anaheim, Minnesota or St. Louis from making the playoffs but IMHO it will be a surprise if any of them do turn around their seasons.


Get the puck out of there- NHL wrap-ups as league takes break for Christmas

Where as the NBA will play games on Christmas day, the NHL won’t.(Florida announcer Billy Lindsay said there may be a clause in the league’s collective bargaining agreement with players that rules out holiday games) Therefore there is no hockey on either December 24th or 25th. My favorite team, the Florida Panthers, doesn’t return to the ice till December 27th.

The NHL is almost at the half way point of 2009-10. With all 30 teams having played at least 35 games. Due to the Winter Olympics and the over two-week break the NHL takes as a result of it, the schedule is accelerated this year.

Here are some random notes on games played yesterday and how the NHL shapes up at the moment.

The New York Rangers beat the Florida Panthers 4-1. Now Florida, Montreal who defeated Carolina 5-1, and the Rangers are in a three-way tie for the 8th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Since the Rangers have played the fewest games, for the moment they have tiebreaks.

Pittsburgh routs Ottawa 8-2. The big news out of this game is the injury to Senator Winger Daniel Alfredsson. Alfredsson, who is Ottawa’s leading scorer, is expected to be out for a couple of weeks.

Ilya Bryzgalov shuts out Anaheim 4-0 to extend Phoenix’s home winning streak to 8 games. The Coyotes are currently 4th in the Western Conference standings.Steve Mason

If Phoenix is one of the pleasant surprises of the 2009-10 NHL season, the play of Columbus Blue Jacket Goalie Steve Mason ranks as one of this year’s biggest disappointments. A almost 3.50 Goals against average was only helped slightly as Dallas beat Columbus last night 3-1.

Backup Chicago Goalie Anti Niemi notches his 4th shutout of the year as the Blackhawks beat Detroit 4-0.

While not shutting out Tampa Bay, Philadelphia’s 3rd Goaltender of the year Michael Leighton looks impressive as the Flyers beat the Lightning 5-2. Before the game was played, Philadelphia’s practice had to be cancelled due to sewage line problem in their locker room.

Merry Christmas NHL. I hope the season is as exciting (and unusual) post Christmas as it was before the holiday break.


Clipping their wings- Florida Panthers beat Detroit 2-1

The last time Florida won in Detroit was December 1st 1996. From AP-

Scott Clemmensen kept the Florida Panthers in the game until the rest of his teammates got their act together.

Bryan McCabe’s goal 40 seconds into overtime gave Florida a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

Clemmensen made 39 saves for the Panthers, who won for the fourth time in five games to reach .500 (9-9-2). Stephen Weiss scored Florida’s other goal and added an assist. Nathan Horton had two assists.


Pavel Datsyuk scored for Detroit, which lost its second straight at home. Chris Osgood made 18 saves.


McCabe beat Osgood with a one-timed shot from the right circle for his third of the season, converting Weiss’ pass.

Weiss tied it 1-1 at 8:13 of the third period with his seventh goal. Horton threaded the needle on a cross-crease pass, and Weiss put a shot into the open side of the net.


Datsyuk’s power-play goal with 2:02 left in the second period opened the scoring. He jammed in his own rebound for his fifth goal.

I’ll be the first one to say Clemmensen saved Florida last night. His goaltending had been wretched this year, and I was expecting Detroit to have a feast. It didn’t happen and Clemmensen was getting absolutely no offensive help from the Panthers in the 1st period. Florida had just one shot on goal in the first twenty minutes.

Florida is playing eight games in two weeks. I expect Peter DeBoer to go back to Tomas Vokoun for tonight’s game against the New York Rangers. Clemmensen will have to probably wait a week till getting another chance in goal.

Last night marked the fifth time Florida won in overtime. The four previous wins were in shootouts. Overall Florida is 5-2 in overtime this year. Detroit on the other hand, is 1-4.

Florida is now 9-9-2 after a 2-7-1 start. As of yet, I’m not totally convinced the Panthers rally is a legitimate turnaround.

Besides the rare win in Detroit, the big news out of the game was the knee injury Cory Stillman sustained. Stillman had been one of the Panther’s hottest scorers of late. Since David Booth went out of the lineup, Florida has done their scoring by committee. The committee is now shrunk by one member. It’s time to bring Shawn Matthias back from Rochester, but DeBoer seems to have little confidence in the player. I don’t know why. Matthias is the only Rochester callup who knows how to put pucks in the net.


Carolina signs Goalie Manny Legace

He will be the Hurricanes backup netminder as Michael Leighton fills in for the injured Cam Ward. From AP-

The Carolina Hurricanes have signed veteran goaltender Manny Legace to a one-year, $500,000 deal, general manager Jim Rutherford said Monday.

The Hurricanes lost starting goalie Cam Ward to injury Saturday for at least a month.

Legace, a 10-year NHL veteran with the Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues, has played six games with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves this season, logging 317 minutes while going 2-2-1 with a 3.21 goals-against average.

He last played in the NHL for the Blues last season.

At this point in his life, Legace is a mediocre backup Goalie at best. The Canes better hope Leighton picks up the slack or this season will grow even worse than one that already features a eleven game streak without a win.


Detroit Red Wing Johan Franzen out with torn ACL

He is expected to be out for at least 4 months. From AP-

Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen has suffered a torn ACL and will be out for at least four months, the team announced Friday.

Franzen was injured in Thursday night’s 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, a game in which Franzen scored the game-winning goal during the second period.

“It’s a huge impact because he’s a huge player for us,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told’s Pierre LeBrun on Friday. “But like I always say when things don’t look good, we just have to find a way. Somebody will get an opportunity now.”

It wasn’t clear from the Wings’ announcement at what point in the game Franzen was hurt.

Franzen, a native of Vetlanda, Sweden, was Detroit’s second-leading scorer last season with 34 goals as the Wings’ back-to-back Stanley Cup bid was thwarted in seven games by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Right winger Marian Hossa had 40 goals.

The loss of Franzen, who has played his entire NHL career with Detroit, is a big blow for the Red Wing’s chances to three peat as Western Conference Champs. I wouldn’t be surprised if another Western team, particularly San Jose, Chicago, or dark horse Columbus, makes it to the Stanley Cup finals.


Veteran NHL C Mike Sillinger retires

He played for 12 different teams in his career but he scored the most points for his final team, the New York Islanders. Enjoy your retirement Mike.

New York Islanders center Mike Sillinger decided two hip operations were enough.

The center who played for a record 12 teams during 17 seasons in the NHL is retiring because of an injured left hip.

“The decision was clear to me after dealing with hip surgery the last two seasons, Sillinger said during a conference call Wednesday. “If I was to come back and be a hero I’d be getting a hip replacement before I’m 40.”

The 38-year-old forward played in only seven games last season and had season-ending hip resurfacing surgery in January. In February 2008, he had a microfracture procedure on the hip that forced him to sit out the final 29 games of that season.

Sillinger spent three years with the Islanders and his 42 goals and 87 points were his most with any NHL team.

“It’s a big hole to fill,” Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. “Mike was good at many different things, whether it was putting the puck in the net or taking a faceoff.”

Sillinger was chosen No. 11 in the 1989 draft by Detroit. For his career, he had 240 goals and 308 assists in 1,049 games.

Sillinger said he’d like to stay in hockey but downplayed the notion that he might go into coaching right away.

“I’m just going to enjoy the kids for now and see what the future brings,” he said.

Besides the Islanders and Red Wings, Sillinger also suited up for Anaheim, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Florida, Ottawa, Columbus, Phoenix, St. Louis and Nashville.


Damaged Goods- Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa to have shoulder surgery

He will be out at least four months. From ESPN-

Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa will undergo surgery Friday to repair a small tear in the rotator cuff of his right shoulder.

“Marian’s injury did not respond sufficiently to our non-operative treatment over the last three weeks so we have collectively decided today to go ahead with the surgery,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “Marian is a franchise player, and we want what is best for him and the Blackhawks long-term. This was a mutual decision and one we feel very confident is the right one.”

The Hawks signed Hossa to a 12-year, $62.8 million deal on July 1. The Hawks said they were aware of the injury before signing him.

Did Chicago have Hossa undergo a physical before signing him? If not, why not? At that kind of salary I would want to make sure a player is healthy.

Hossa gave the standard statement about the surgery being best for him. I’m not going to argue with other people’s medical decisions. I just wonder if Hossa knew he was hurt before signing with Chicago.

No question, Hossa is an excellent player. He scored 40 goals and 71 points last year for the Detroit Red Wings. Hossa has been well traveled of late. Since 2006 he has been with Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Detroit before signing with Chicago.

Hossa is expected to be shelved at least four months, so he’ll miss at least the first two months of the regular season.

Which means my favorite team the Florida Panthers won’t have to try stopping Hossa in the 2009-10 NHL season. Florida and Chicago play a 2-game regular season series in Finland next October.


Did the NHL make a mess of the 2009-10 schedule?

The upcoming schedule was released yesterday. Right away I noticed something interesting. Florida has a home and home series with Nashville.

Nov 28 and Mar 29 are when the Panthers and Predators play next season.

What I find interesting is- Florida is playing Nashville home and home for the second straight season. In 2008-09, the Panthers and Predators played on November 1st and December 23rd.

In light of the way the NHL season is set up, namely that any Eastern or Western conference team plays only play 3 home and homes in any season, Florida and Nashville shouldn’t meet home and home more than once every five years 15 western conference teams divided by 3 home and home series equals five.

Here’s a link to the 2009-10 schedule. Anyone have theories as to what happened here or am I off base?


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