Sports Outside the Beltway

Colorado and Goalie Craig Anderson blank Vancouver 3-0

Did the Florida Panthers retain the wrong netminder from their 2008-09 team? From AP-

Craig Anderson always felt he could be a No. 1 goalie in the NHL. After two games he certainly has performed like one for the Colorado Avalanche.

Anderson, who signed as a free agent with the Avalanche in the offseason, stopped 35 shots, and Colorado beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 on Saturday.

It was Anderson’s eighth career shutout and his first since beating Edmonton 2-0 on Dec. 11, 2008, when he was with Florida.


Paul Stastny and Wojtek Wolski had a goal and assist each, Darcy Tucker also scored and Milan Hejduk had two assists for the Avalanche, who have won their first two games in the post-Joe Sakic era.

Anderson, who’s stopped 73 of 75 shots in his first two games with Colorado, was strong throughout. He made a glove save on a blistering slapshot by Alexander Edler in the first period and poked the puck away from Daniel Sedin on a breakaway in the second.

Anderson has been very impressive since at least early 2008. Before that Florida Coach Jaques Martin showed little confidence in him, and three other teams(Boston, Chicago, and St. Louis) had put Anderson on waivers. I think he’s a more than solid NHL goaltender. Florida didn’t make a mistake in choosing Vokoun over Anderson, but my favorite hockey team could have retained Anderson for just a little bit more money(Three years at 1.2 million for Clemmensen versus 2 years at 1.8 for Anderson) than they are paying their current #2 goalie, Scott Clemmensen. So far as I know Anderson was willing to stay in South Florida.


Roberto Luongo signs 12-year extension with Vancouver Canucks

He will earn $64 million through the deal he signed yesterday. From AP-

Goalie Roberto Luongo signed a 12-year contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks that will carry him through the 2021-2022 season.

The deal is worth $64 million, with an average salary cap hit of $5.33 million,’s Pierre LeBrun reported. That is less than the $6.75 million salary cap average of his current four-year, $27 million deal that expires at the end of the upcoming season.

The new deal will pay Luongo $10 million in 2010-11 and about $6.7 million from 2012-13 through 2017-18; about $3.3 million in 2018-19; and about $1.6 million in 2019-20 before declining to $1 million for the final two seasons.

“I want to win the Stanley Cup,” Luongo said on a conference call. “That’s why I play. We had to do something that made sense for both me and the team, and I think that’s what we accomplished by doing a deal where the money is a bit more front-loaded.”

Luongo’s deal includes a no-trade clause.

Luongo is a great goalie. He spent much of the 2008-09 injured but when healthy again Luongo was one of the best goalies in the league coming down the stretch. The Florida Panthers were idiots when they traded Luongo away in 2006.

Anyone notice something peculiar about the deal? I will let ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun fill you in-

Luongo will turn 43 on April 4, 2022, enjoying the final days of the 12-year contract extension.

Why would a NHL team sign a player to that age? Apparently this is the new gimmick some teams are using to get around the league’s salary cap.

I sincerely wish Luongo good luck in bringing a Stanley Cup championship to Vancouver. He is one of my favorite NHL players.


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.


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?


Dallas Stars name Marc Crawford head coach

He replaces Dave Tippett who was just fired yesterday. From AP-

For Dallas Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk, it became clear in less than two weeks on the job that a coaching change was necessary. The team needed a leader with a tougher edge.

Nieuwendyk turned to Marc Crawford, a coach he once played for in the Olympics and someone similar to the coach he played for when the Stars won their only Stanley Cup 10 years ago.

“What Marc will bring is a real command at the top,” Nieuwendyk said. “The players will know who’s in charge. They will be held accountable on a daily basis. That’s what I think is necessary.”

Crawford was introduced Thursday as the replacement for Dave Tippett, who was fired Wednesday. The coaching change is the first significant move made by Nieuwendyk since he was hired May 31.

The more player-friendly Tippett had replaced Ken Hitchcock, who was fired midway through 2001-02 season. Now the Stars are going back to a more dominant coach after missing the playoffs for only the third time since moving to Dallas in 1993.

While Tippett did a good job in Dallas, he probably outlived his usefulness to the franchise. Will Crawford(Who took Colorado to a Stanley Cup Championship in 1996 over my favorite team, the Florida Panthers) make the team better? The Stars have more than their share of aging and or injury prone veterans. Michael Modano, Sergei Zubov, and Brendan Morrow. Crawford has a lot of work ahead of him.


Former NHL player Peter Zezel dead at 44

His best seasons were with the Philadelphia Flyers in the mid-1980′s. The AP article makes no mention of the controversy at the end of Zezel’s career. He had a niece who was very ill in the Toronto area, so Zezel requested a trade to an Eastern team. At the time Zezel was playing for the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks traded him, but to Anaheim the team furthest from Toronto in the NHL. Zezel retired rather than play for the Ducks. The trade, made by then Canuck GM Brian Burke, was heavily criticized at the time. RIP.

Peter Zezel, a center who played 15 NHL seasons after breaking into the league with the Philadelphia Flyers as a teenager, has died. He was 44.

Zezel struggled with the rare blood disease hemolytic anemia for the past 10 years and died on Tuesday. Zezel suffered from the ailment off and on, but had rebounded after being in critical condition in 2001.

He was admitted to the hospital last week for scheduled surgery, but complications developed and his conditioned worsened.

“Peter will forever be remembered as a great teammate and a wonderful individual who touched the lives of many both on and off the ice,” Zezel’s family said in a statement released by the National Hockey League Players’ Association. “In his typical character of generosity, Peter donated his organs through the Trillium Gift of Life Network.”

The gritty center was known on the ice for his strong two-way game. In 873 NHL games with Philadelphia, St. Louis, Washington, Toronto, Dallas, New Jersey and Vancouver, Zezel had 219 goals and 389 assists.

His matinee idol looks also earned him a small role in the 1986 hockey-based movie “Youngblood” that starred Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze.

Zezel was born in Toronto and played junior hockey with the Toronto Marlies before the Flyers chose him with the 41st pick in the 1983 draft. He made his NHL debut in 1984 when he was 19.


No Canada- Chicago beats Vancouver 7-5, takes series

There will be no Canadian Stanley Cup champion this year. From AP-

The kids made sure the Blackhawks are moving on.

Patrick Kane had his first hat trick and Jonathan Toews scored the go-ahead goal in a wild third period Monday night as Chicago advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1995 by beating the Vancouver Canucks 7-5.

LeBrun: Hawks Have Arrived

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane wrapped up a second-round series that even they didn’t think was possible at the beginning of the season. Yes, the Hawks have arrived, writes’s Pierre LeBrun. Story

“It’s about time I got the first hat trick. I’ve been waiting two years. I guess it can’t come in a better game than this,” the 20-year-old Kane said.

In the thunderous United Center, the Blackhawks rallied from a one-goal deficit twice in the third period and put up four scores against Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo to win the series 4-2. Next up is either Detroit or Anaheim.

Before the series began I didhn’t think the Canucks had enough offense to beat the better balanced Blackhawks. Vancouver now faces a challenging off season. The team has many key players who are free agents. Four of them are the Sedin twins, Goalie Roberto Luongo, and one of their defensemen who I believe is Mattias Ohlund.

NBC must be happy with Chicago’s victory. Otherwise the network would have to go to unexplored territory. Unexplored territory- An NHL game broadcast from west of the Mississippi. They still may have to, but I’ll be surprised if Anaheim comes back and beats Detroit.

In the Eastern Conference, Washington defeated Pittsburgh in overtime last night. This sets up a game 7 showdown. Boston plays Carolina last night. The heavily favored Bruins have to win or they’re out of the playoffs.


All even- Chicago beats Vancouver 2-1 in overtime

With three minutes to go in the game, it looked like the Canucks would return home up three games to one. From AP-

Andrew Ladd had perfect position. When the puck came flying off teammate Dave Bolland’s stick from far away, Ladd was right in front of Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo to tip it in.

We keep waiting for this thing to fall apart, for the kids to show their age. But the Hawks keep proving us wrong, writes’s Pierre LeBrun. Story

Ladd’s goal less than 3 minutes into overtime Thursday night capped a remarkable 2-1 comeback victory for the Chicago Blackhawks and tied the Western Conference semifinal series at 2.


Game 5 is Saturday night in Vancouver and the Canucks will have to regroup after losing a game they apparently had sealed up. Chicago’s Martin Havlat tied it at 1 with 2:44 left in regulation after Luongo had been unflappable most of the night.

Roberto Luongo had to be unflappable, because his teammates made franchise playoff history last night. They only took 15 shots on goal, breaking a record set twenty-seven years ago.

The Canuck offense has taken at least one similar snooze in the 2008-09 NHL season. For this reason, I can’t pick this team to make the Stanley Cup finals no matter how good Luongo is.

In the other Western Conference playoff series, normalcy seemed to take over.

Johan Franzen and Marian Hossa gave the Detroit Red Wings all the offense they needed on a new line with center Valtteri Filppula.

Franzen and Hossa each scored twice to help the Detroit beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-3 on Thursday night, tying the Western Conference semifinal series at 2.

I have already been proved wrong about this series. My prediction was a Red Wing sweep. Detroit will win here, and most likely make the Stanley Cup finals for the second consecutive season.


Five-time NHL All-Star Markus Naslund retires

Maybe he didn’t like playing in ‘The fishbowl’ known as New York City professional sports. From AP-

Markus Naslund wrapped up a 15-year NHL career when he retired Monday after just one season with the New York Rangers.

Naslund, who left the Vancouver Canucks last summer as a free agent, signed a two-year deal worth $8 million with the Rangers but decided to skip the final season when he will be 36.

The five-time All-Star spent parts of 12 seasons with the Canucks and was brought to New York by general manager Glen Sather after the Rangers failed to re-sign captain Jaromir Jagr.

Naslund played all 82 games this season, recording 24 goals and 46 points, but he had only one goal and two assists in the Rangers’ seven-game loss to Washington in the first round of the playoffs.

“I would like to sincerely thank Glen Sather and the New York Rangers for giving me the opportunity this past season in New York,” Naslund said. “I would also like to thank the Vancouver Canucks and all of their fans for their support over the 11-plus seasons I was a part of their organization, as well as to the Pittsburgh Penguins where I began my NHL career.”

Naslund scored a career-high 104 points — including 48 goals — during the 2002-03 campaign when he won the Lester B. Pearson Award as the NHL’s most outstanding player as chosen by his peers, but his numbers went down each of the next five seasons.

Naslund, who served as captain of the Canucks for eight seasons, was chosen with the No. 16 overall pick in the 1991 draft by Pittsburgh and spent three seasons with the Penguins before being traded to Vancouver in 1996.

Markus Naslund was a very good player who went little noticed except by hardcore NHL fans. I wish him well in retirement.


Rally time- Vancouver beats Chicago 5-3

Last night’s game marked only the third time in NHL playoff that a team up by three goals saw it disappear in a single period’s time.

The blood was still oozing out of five stitches above Kyle Wellwood’s left eye and a fat lower lip, and yet the Canucks forward couldn’t stop smiling.

Wellwood had two assists, drew five power plays, lost one tooth and chipped another, but his biggest play in Vancouver’s 5-3 series-opening victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night didn’t show up on the score sheet.

Wellwood made the pass that started a 4-on-1 rush, and defenseman Sami Salo finished the play by banging in a rebound with 1:13 remaining, putting the Canucks back ahead after blowing a three-goal lead in the third period.

Ryan Johnson scored into an empty net with 15.5 seconds left to secure the Game 1 win.

Here’s a interesting fact- Blackhawk Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin hasn’t beaten the Canucks since January of 1998. I think that streak will come to an end in a few days.

The Chicago-Vancouver series may be the best conference semi-final matchup this year. Unfortunately if you don’t have NHL Center Ice or Versus, you will be unable to watch it. NBC televises NHL hockey but sticks to east coast teams and Detroit only till they have no other choice. The NHL’s television deals are just mind boggling to me.


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