Sports Outside the Beltway

Vancouver Canuck Rick Rypien assaults fan

Some unscheduled boxing matches took place in Minnesota last night. From AP-

Vancouver Canucks center Rick Rypien pushed a fan in the team’s 6-2 loss against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.

Rypien and Minnesota’s Brad Staubitz, who fought in the opening period, were about to square off in the second period before being separated by the linesmen in front of the Wild bench.

As Rypien, who was assessed a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct, was pulled by linesman Don Henderson toward the Vancouver bench, he appeared to push the official.

On his way down the tunnel to the dressing room, Rypien pushed a Wild fan who was applauding at the railing. Rypien was quickly pulled away by teammate Manny Malhotra. The fan was removed from the area.

Rypien was not available for comment after the game, but Malhotra thought the fan “got a little bit too involved.”

“There’s boundaries that should never be crossed. We’re in our area of work,” he said. “We’re all for the hooting and hollering and supporting your team and saying whatever is tasteful. But as soon as you cross that line and want to become physical with a player then we have to make sure we take care of ourselves. … We have no idea of what their intentions are.”

What a wimp Malhotra is. An NHL player perceives a fan as a threat? He should go run a child day care or something.

I don’t get this pushing BS in the Associated Press article. Watch the video I will post below and tell me its not assault.

What will be the length of the knee slap suspension the NHL hands down on Rypien? I bet its 10 games or less. The NHL suspension policy is a joke and has been since Todd Bertuzzi broke a player’s neck six years ago. Steve Moore suffered a career ending injury from the sucker punch. Bertuzzi is still playing in the NHL. Enough said about suspensions, right?

Hat tip- Litter Box Cats


Home sweet home- Vancouver beats Ottawa 5-1

The Canucks first home game Post Olympics has a happy ending. From AP-

Home never felt so good for the Canucks.Ott-Van

Mikael Samuelsson scored twice and added an assist, and the Vancouver Canucks returned home to GM Place after playing an NHL-record 14 straight on the road to beat the Ottawa Senators 5-1 on Saturday night.

“We were just excited to get back,” Roberto Luongo said after making 13 saves. “It’s been such a long time that we haven’t played here and guys were just excited to play in front of the home fans.”

Living out of a suitcase grows weary after a while but Vancouver survived it. They are 3rd in the Western Conference points stands and more importantly five points ahead of the next best team in the NHL’s Northwest Division. I don’t see the Canucks missing the playoffs but don’t think they’re good enough to advance to the Stanley Cup finals.


Dallas Stars waive Goalie Alex Auld

With the recent acquisition of Kari Lehtonen, the team had one more netminder than they needed. From ESPN-

The Dallas Stars placed Alex Auld on waivers Wednesday and are content to go with Marty Turco and Kari Lehtonen in goal the rest of the season.Alex Auld

Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk acknowledged there’s little chance of trading Turco, who played well the last six games leading into the Olympic break. Turco is 4-1-1 with a 1.15 goals-against average and a .967 save percentage in that stretch.


Lehtonen, 26, has not played an NHL game since last April. The Stars traded for him earlier this month in an effort to fortify their goalie position going into next season. Lehtonen is a restricted free agent next season, while Turco and Auld are unrestricted free agents.

The Stars are one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot and have games every other day in March.

“We’ll work Kari in there because we have so many games,” Nieuwendyk said.

Auld is a journeyman Goalie who has played for six teams since 2006. That says enough about how good he is. Could a 7th team on the horizon? I’d say the chances are about 50-50. If Auld can’t find work in North America, he can always go to play in Europe.


Vancouver Canuck Alex Burrows fined for referee comments

Anyone familiar with pro team sports had to know this was coming.

Canucks forward Alex Burrows has been fined for his rant to the media after the club’s loss to the Nashville Predators on Monday night.

Burrows will pay $2,500 for his comments made towards NHL referee Stephane Auger.

Burrows told the media that before the game Auger came up to him and said he was going to get him back for making him look foolish back on December 8th in Nashville when Burrows was hit by Jerrod Smithson who received a five minute penalty.

The league said they would look into the claim Burrows made. According to Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun, the verdict is already in and it’s a predictable one.

A conference call involving Campbell, Burrows and Canuck general manager Mike Gillis ended with the NHL levying a $2,500 fine against the player and, according to a report late Tuesday, an absolute and unfathomable discharge for Auger.

In a case of he said, he said, it was Burrows who was going to get disciplined. But you know something? Auger had a conversation with Burrows before the Nashville game and it was caught on video by CSN.

Here it is.

There’s no sound unfortunately but a trained lip reader might be able to tell what Auger said over the last few seconds of the conversation.

Auger isn’t exactly clean in this situation. What the hell should he be talking to Burrows about before the game started? In light of the past history, a conversation should be avoided.

Iain MacIntyre, in the same Vancouver Sun article I linked to above, has more to say about Auger’s past.

Stephane Auger, at the epicentre of the National Hockey League’s most embarrassing officiating controversy in years, has long been considered one of the league’s poorest referees. He has a reputation for inconsistency and arrogance and even among peers is not especially popular.

Auger is the referee who four years ago assessed a gross misconduct penalty against Phoenix Coyote Shane Doan during a game in Montreal for an alleged slur against francophones.

A subsequent investigation by NHL justice minister Colin Campbell found the penalty and accusation baseless. Auger got it wrong. Whatever was said on Dec. 13, 2005 was uttered by Doan’s teammate, Ladislav Nagy.

This, however, mattered little to politicians who exploited the accusation to curry favour in Quebec. Doan, an honorable and honest player, was slandered.

I’m not familar with the Doan incident or whether Auger is a good or bad referee. Maybe what happened in 2005 was a honest mistake.

Even if his accusations against Auger were true, Burrows will forever be regarded by some referees as the snitch who brought scorn upon their profession. And the Canucks can forget about getting the benefit of the doubt from a referee anytime soon.

“It’s a concern, yeah,” Canuck coach Alain Vigneault conceded Tuesday morning, saying little else before travelling to Minnesota.

It is a concern and troubling one. The Vancouver columnist who wrote this was sometimes off the wall in his column. After all he also wrote-

Commissioner Gary Bettman doesn’t brook criticism from owners – his employers – so he was hardly going to leap at accusations levelled by someone as far down the food chain as Alex Burrows. He’s a player. From the East Coast League!

I’m still trying to figure out that comment. Is there a Vancouver Sun translator who could make themself available to this sports blogger?

Seriously, poor officiating is a problem in the NHL, one the league rather avoid. The other night in the Florida-Ottawa game, A Senator player made a above the shoulders hit to a Florida Panther in full view of a referee less than five feet away. No penalty was called! I’ve seen a half dozen other non-calls this year at least in the forty plus Florida Panther games I’ve watched.


Vancouver Canuck Alexandre Burrows says referee deliberately targeted him

Update- NHL says they will investigate the allegations made below.

Just last week he made news for scoring a hat trick in consecutive games. From AP-

Vancouver forward Alexandre Burrows got a 10-minute misconduct for telling referee Stephane Auger what he thought of him late in Monday night’s 3-2 loss to Nashville.

Burrows could be facing punishment from the NHL after sharing his opinion with the media after the game, including accusations Auger targeted him and promised to get revenge.

Burrows scored twice, but was in the penalty box for a second time when Nashville’s Shea Weber scored the game-winner with 4:03 to play.

He said Auger approached him before the game and told him he was going to get him back for embellishing a Dec. 8 hit in Nashville that left Burrows crumpled on the ice, and resulted in Predators forward Jerred Smithson receiving a 5-minute major penalty for charging.

“It was personal,” Burrows said. “It started in warm up before the anthem. The ref came over to me and said I made him look bad in Nashville on the Smithson hit. He said he was going to get me back tonight and he did his job in the third.”

While I don’t know if it happened in this instance, I do think professional sporting referees and umpires will retaliate against players. Do you think these people are above certain human acts?

Burrows will be fined, maybe even suspended. Nothing will publicly happen to Auger. It will come down to a matter of he said, he said. Also the NHL even if they can prove the penalty is deliberate, wouldn’t want that bit of information to become known to fans. It would put the league in a bad light.


Fan points a laser at Goalie during Vancouver-Calgary game

From AP-

Calgary Flames coach Brent Sutter is upset security couldn’t locate a laser pointer being used to distract goalie Miikka Kiprusoff during Saturday s 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

“It’s ridiculous,” Sutter said. “We could see it shining on his mask the whole night. It was brought to the attention of the refs and security, and it’s hard to believe that can go on for 60 minutes in a hockey game and it’s not located.”

Kiprusoff made 19 saves and stopped one of three shots in the shootout. He received medical treatment after the game, and wasn’t immediately available to the media.

Sutter said it was a distraction. I would call that an understatement in light of the fact that Kiprusoff sought medical treatment after the game.

Then is Sutter or the Flames over reacting? Could it been some kind of crazy reflection? I don’t have much experience with being on ice, but light does reflect off snow.

Curiously, the print news media in Vancouver and Calgary make no mention of a laser being used on Kiprusoff. They aren’t taking the supposed incident very seriously either.


Having fun- Vancouver beats Phoenix 4-0

It was 24 years ago that a Canuck last pulled off a hat trick in consecutive games. From AP-

Alex Burrows pulled off a trick that hadn’t been done by a Vancouver Canucks player in 23 years.Blue Jackets Canucks Hockey

Make that two tricks.

Burrows scored three goals for his second straight hat trick, and Roberto Luongo made 31 saves for his 50th NHL shutout as the Canucks beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0 on Thursday night.

No Canucks player has scored three goals in consecutive games since Petri Skriko did it during the 1986-87 season.


Henrik Sedin assisted on each goal by Burrows to move atop the NHL scoring race, three points ahead of San Jose’s Joe Thornton.

“It’s fun coming to the rink every day when you have linemates like this,” Sedin said. “We like playing with each other. We feed off of Burrows. He’s having a lot of fun, and that’s what you need on a line.”

Luongo, who has three shutouts this season, helped the Canucks through a tough second period. He praised his defensemen for clearing rebounds and giving him clear views of the shots he stopped.

He has a long way to go to catch Canadian Olympic teammate Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils, who has an NHL-record 106 career regular-season shutouts.

I’m one of Luongo’s biggest fans.(He is a former FLorida Panther) He won’t ever equal Brodeur for career shutouts.

Vancouver is in a very tight race for the NHL’s Northwest division title. They have the same amount of points(55) as Calgary but have played one less game. Plus Colorado trails the Flames and Canucks by just one point.

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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.


Tampa Bay demotes Defenseman Lukas Krajicek

The Lightning made this personnel move just before the NHL’s holiday roster freeze went into effect. From the St. Petersburg Times-

A day after Lukas Krajicek’s defensive-zone turnover led to a goal in Thursday’s 3-0 loss at Detroit, the defenseman was shipped to AHL Norfolk.Krajicek

Officially, an accumulation of factors cost Krajicek. He had one assist in 23 games and was minus-4 in his past two. And his turnover against the Red Wings led to Todd Bertuzzi’s third-period goal that made the score 2-0.

“The thing is, when you’re not scoring goals, you can’t be at the scene of the crime too many times,” coach Rick Tocchet said Friday. “When you’re not producing, you can’t have your fingerprints at the scene of the crime.”

Acquired in October 2008 from the Canucks for Shane O’Brien, Krajicek, 26, signed a one-year, $1.475 million contract during the summer.

Krajicek’s disappointing play in Tampa is just a continuation of his NHL career that started with the Florida Panthers during the 2001-2002 NHL season. The Panthers made the Czech born defenseman the 24th overall pick of the 2001 NHL entry draft.(Florida dealt him to the Vancouver Canucks on June 23rd 2006 in the infamous Roberto Luongo trade) Prior to 2008-09 where Krajicek scored 19 points, his highest output was 16. A slippage this year shouldn’t have come as a surprise to Tampa Bay management.


Vancouver Canuck Daniel Sedin to miss 4-6 weeks with broken foot

He and his identical twin brother Henrik were the team’s leading scorers in the 2008-09 NHL season. From AP-

The Vancouver Canucks will be without top forward Daniel Sedin for four to six weeks because of a broken foot.

Sedin, who averaged more than 30 goals for the Canucks over the last three seasons, was hit in the foot by a shot from teammate Alex Edler in a 7-1 win over Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday. He finished the game and recorded three assists, but X-rays on Friday revealed a fracture.

It’s the first serious injury in his nine-year career.


Sedin has averaged more than 30 goals over the last three seasons for the Canucks, and he and his twin, Henrik Sedin, tied for the team lead with 82 points last season.

The Sedin twins have had remarkably similar — and durable — careers since being selected second and third overall by the Canucks in the 1999 draft. Both had 466 career points heading into Sunday’s game against Dallas.

Vancouver made it to the conference semi-final last year despite star Goalie Roberto Luongo being injured and unable to play for two months. The loss of Daniel Sedin could be more damaging.


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