Around the league – Nov 12, 2009

After a hot start, scoring has leveled off, and right now only six players are on pace for 100+ points. Anze Kopitar is on fire and on pace for 129, however, no one has tallied that many since 1996 when Mario Lemieux had 161 and Jaromir Jagr finished with 149. It is doubtful he can keep up this pace.

Alex Ovechkin was on pace for 134 until he got injured, and if he isn’t out much longer he is still on par for another 100 point season. Marian Gaborik (112), Rick Nash (110), Niklas Backstrom (100) and Corey Perry (100) are the others. Only Backstrom seems capable of maintaining this pace because he plays on the same team as Ovechkin and Alex Semin.

Sidney Crosby is currently 31st in league scoring, but I’m certain he will still finish top-five. Too many of the top stars have been hurt this season and that is a reason why we’ve seen such a dip amongst the supposed top-scorers. If Evgeni Malkin, Marc Savard and Ilya Kovalchuk didn’t get hurt, they’d be on pace for 100 points.

While it doesn’t look like we will see many in the Century Club, there are many players currently in the top 30 in scoring who are on pace to set career highs. Nash has never had more than 79 points. Perry has never scored more than 72 points. Ryan Smyth’s career high is 70 points, but is on pace for 94.

The two biggest early season surprises have been Rene Bourque and Dustin Penner. Penner is almost half way to his season high of 47 points, and he is on pace to double that and finish with 94 points. Bourque could have the biggest increase. He already has 18 points and is on pace for 92, which would shatter his previous career-high of 40.

Pavel Bure had one of the biggest increases going from 60 points his first season to 110 in his second. Very few players have had 40 or 50 point increases from a previous career-high, and if Penner or Bourque can complete the Cinderella season, they will join a very select crew.

ICE WOMAN OF THE WEEK

Courtesy of www.thefourthperiod.com do any of you recognize this Oiler fan? Even if you don’t like the Oiler colours you probably don’t mind this ensemble.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

  • This week the Devils won their 8th consecutive road game, which would be an NHL record, but they won three of them in shootouts. I wonder if the NHL stats guys will allow the Devils to be the new record holders. The Pittsburgh Penguins lost 18 games, but one of them was in OT and they got a point, so the league doesn’t consider that 18 consecutive losses. If they do that for losses, I wonder if SO wins will be considered differently than regulation wins. If not, it would seem somewhat hypocritical.
  • The Devils have quietly won six straight, and they are a perfect 8-0 on the road, but surprisingly they are only 4-4 at home. Jacques Lemaire has them playing exceptional defence, having only allowed 34 goals in 16 games. But Zack Parise isn’t struggling under Lemaire with eight goals and 19 points in 16 games. If Parise scores 80+ points will Lemaire shed his “boring” coach mantra?
  • Here is the front page picture on the Devils website:

    Is it just me or do all three Bobbleheads look eerily similar? Jamie Langenbrunner, Patrik Elias and Zack Parise don’t look alike at all in real life, yet these bobbleheads make them look like brothers. Horrendous imitations.

  • Lots has been said about Craig Anderson playing 18 of Colorado’s first 19 games, but the Sharks’ Evgeni Nabokov and the Kings’ Jonathon Quick have played 17 of 19 games. Ray Emery has played in 13 of the Flyers 14 games, while Martin Brodeur, Mikka Kiprusoff, Niklas Backstrom, Ryan Miller and Ondrej Pavelec have all started all but two or their respective teams’ games. Last year four goalies, Nabokov (76), Marty Turco (74), Backstrom (71) and Henrik Lundqvist (70) played 70 games. Minny and Dallas didn’t make the playoffs and the Sharks and Rangers lost in the first round. Not many goalies, excluding Marty Brodeur can play 70 games and then excel in the playoffs.
  • The Capitals are 3-1 without Alex Ovechkin, and they have scored 17 goals in the four games he has missed. They haven’t missed him; YET.
  • Ken Hitchcock coached his 1000 game last night; unfortunately it was a forgettable evening as the Jackets lost 9-1. Hitchcock became the 16th coach to coach 1000 games. Marc Crawford did it last week, and the other active coaches with more than 1,000 games include Pat Quinn (1,337), Ron Wilson (1,189), Jacques Lemaire (1,147) and Jacques Martin (1,116). Joel Quenneville and Lindy Ruff will join the club next year. Quenneville will be at 999 at the end of the year, while Ruff will sit at 984.

LEADERS THROUGH THE WEEK

Here are the top ten in pts, goals, assists and other stats.

Goals:
Fourteen: Alex Ovechkin and Anze Kopitar
Twelve: Marian Gaborik, Rick Nash, Corey Perry and Steven Stamkos
Eleven: Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley and Dustin Penner
Ten: Ryan Malone

Assists:
Eighteen: Joe Thornton, Nicklas Backstrom and Tomas Kaberle   
Sixteen: Kopitar and Vinny Prospal
Fifteen: Ryan Getzlaf (five assists this week. Looks like he is healthy)
Fourteen: Paul Stastny Dan Boyle, Marty St.Louis and Brad Richards

Points:
30: Kopitar (leads for 3rd straight week and had six points this week)
23: Ovechkin (didn’t play and is still second), Marleau and Nash.
22: Gaborik, Penner, Backstrom, Thornton and Ryan Smyth
***Rick Nash is the only player in the top ten who is a minus player, sitting at -7***

Plus/Minus:
+14: Matt Carle and Ryan O’Reilly
+12: Alex Goligoski
+11: Wayne Simmonds and Chris Pronger
+10: Ovechkin, Mike Knuble, Henrik Tallinder and Niklas Lidstrom
+9: Penner, Kopitar, Scott Hannan and Davis Drewiske
***The worst +/- goes to Rod Brind’Amour and Brent Burns at a woeful -13. Aaron Ward, Martin Havlat and Robert Nilsson are all -12. Nilsson has only played in 12 games, while the others have played 17 games and Havlat 15. Just another reason why the Oilers need to get players healthy so Nilsson doesn’t get on the ice.***

PP Goals:
Six: Heatley and Stamkos
Five: Gaborik, Smyth, Andrew Brunette, Scott Hartnell and Teemu Selanne
Four: Kopitar, Marleau, Milan Hejduk, Mike Richards, Loui Eriksson, Brooks Laich, Devon Setoguchi, Raffi Torres, Rich Peverley Mikael Samuelsson, Niklas Hagman, Mike Fisher and Shane Doan.

Hits:
71: Ryan Callahan (leads for fifth straight week).
69: Chris Neil
64: Dustin Brown
57: Scott Nichol (had 13 hits this week)
56: Brooks Orpik
55: Stephane Robidas
54: David Backes and Matt Greene
53: J.F Jacques
52: Craig Adams

Shots:
86: Ovechkin (didn’t play and still leads)
72: Zach Parise
66: Nash
65: Jeff Carter
64: Sidney Crosby and Brian Gionta
63: Michael Cammalleri and Dustin Brown
62: Samuelsson, Patrick Sharp and Henrik Zetterberg

FINAL POINT

Sidney Crosby has yet to crack the top-ten in scoring, but he is tied with Kevin Bieksa and Hall Gill for most minor penalties with 13. Rene Bourque leads the Flames with nine, while Denis Grebeskov has taken eight to lead the Oilers.

INJURIES CONTINUE

After a knee-on-knee hit with Derek Roy last night, Denis Grebeshkov has been sent home to Edmonton to have his knee looked at by the Oilers doctor. He will miss the remainder of the trip, and depending on what they find on the MRI, he could be out longer. And Sheldon Souray is skating and is getting closer, but still no set timetable on his return.

    • Maggie the Monkey

      Uh, Reagan, I think the answer to your pessimism was offered in the comment before you by Pennertrate: "We need ice girls".

      Even the 92/93 Oilers, sporting Shane Corson as captain, would have looked better with Ice Girls.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Just throwing it out there but last year wasn't there an Eskimo game on the TV listing channel? Couldn't the Oilers make some sort of deal with them or the Shaw channel to show these games that are on PPV?

    I really don't know who the Oilers are trying to fool by always saying it is a way to give fans to watch a game and that the Oilers make little money off of them. If they don't want to make money off of them then put them on one of those two channels, but we all know that it is another way for the Oilers to make money so they won't. Mind ya, have commercials on those channels and I'm sure you can make some money.

    • HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

      One, you are assuming that all the people complaining about the PPV are in Edmonton and have Shaw programming. I don't and I'm sure there are others in the same position. And two, local tv stations apparently have no money for this kind of thing anymore, that is why they are begging to be subsidized by someone, government or satellite/cable providers just to be able to provide a small amount of local programming.

      I'm with you though, I would like to see some games on the local stations, perhaps the Oilers could look at it as doing something for the fans and not actually charging them for it.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        How much does global and citytv get for commercials? Why not have one of the local stations go 50/50 with the oilers on profits from the commericals?

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Throwing this out there for the MacT haters.

    This years team is on pace for 78 points. MacT lead teams had less then that only once. His teams averaged 88 points/season.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      How many players did MacT have out by game 20 last year or any other years? Again it has nothing to do with MacT being a good or bad coach, when you are with a team for that long and you lose the team what is management to do?

      Edit, and some players have came out already and said that at times the message is similar but hearing it from a different person makes them think differently.

  • Shaun Doe

    Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

    How much does global and citytv get for commercials? Why not have one of the local stations go 50/50 with the oilers on profits from the commericals?

    Exactly, maybe if these local stations broadcast some Oilers hockey they could make a little more coin by selling advertising during Oilers games, instead of Entertainment Tonight.

  • Oilman

    We use to have Oilers on Globl/ITV before? I'm not sure, but Global is in some serious fanancial issues. Maybe Achannel or something to broadcast 5-10 games a year would be nice. Maybe not enough money there when it's local verses national level of Sportsnet and TSN.

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      From the way I understand the situation, Canwest (Global's parent company) is in some serious financial issues, and Global could be one of the first companies to feel the effects of it.

      They've defaulted on some serious loan repayments… like in the hundreds of millions, so I'm pretty sure they're doing some major restructuring.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    LINES TODAY

    Penner – Horcoff – Hemsky

    Comrie – Gagner – O'Sullivan

    Moreau – Cogliano – Stortini

    Nilsson – Potulny – Brule

    Souray – Staios

    Smid – Visnovsky

    Strudwick – Gilbert

    Via tencer

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        I'm assuming that was practice today. What pisses me off is Brule on the wing. The guy is getting up there on draws taken and is at 51.8%.

        • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

          I wonder if the time will come when Cogs is on the wing with Nilsson (temporarily) and Potulny with Brule centring the checking line? Being able to win faceoffs on that line would certainly make life difficult for opposing team.

          Mind you, that's a pretty soft 4th line…

        • Relax. Its just practice. I'm not too happy to see Horcoff in Gagner's place, but whatever. Quinn is just screwing around to see who works best with who. Not long ago he said the team was a work in progress.

          On the other hand, Pisani gone again is nothing but bad news. And it sounds like its not one of those "one or two games" sorta things. I wish we could pop a trade or two for some NHL caliber talent. It looks to me like we might be starting to dig ourselves a hole too big to get out of by the time our superstar arrives via blockbuster trade at the deadline. That's still in the plans, right? RIGHT?

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            This solidifies Pisani as my goat, right?

            Nothing like injuries that are long enough to screw things up, but short enough to avoid freeing up some much-needed cap space.

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            This solidifies Pisani as my goat, right?

            Nothing like injuries that are long enough to screw things up, but short enough to avoid freeing up some much-needed cap space.

  • Hemmercules

    The first week of the season seems like so long ago, those were good times. I'm getting tired of expecting a 1 goal loss every game lately. Hopefully this 3 day break heals everyone up a bit.

  • Dan the Man

    Also from Tencer…

    The injury on Denis Grebeshkov's knee revealed significant damage to his MCL…at worst a tear, at best a bad sprain. He's currently out week-to-week.

    Given this teams luck this year I'm going to go with "at worst a tear".

  • Milli

    Souray back as early as Sunday, well, at least we have one positive right. Horc back as well, and Stone cannot be too far off, must be getting closer. A question for the smart guys here, regarding cap space, The guys like Souray and Pisani (start of the season) being on the LTIR are freeing up space, but the day to day guys are eating it up? So, where do we sit?

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Cap geeks calculates it daily. According to them we've got 3.25 million in cap room (17th most in the league) after factoring in all the injuries. As it sits right now we could add a 4.2 million dollar player today.

      So much for all the cap issues everyone has been belly'achin about.

        • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

          Wait, let me get this straight – the Oilers have 3.25 in cap space to play with? Why didn't anyone point this out earlier? I guess I could have taken it upon myself to check, but I just assumed people were correct when they were complaining about the Oil signing to the cap this year.

          How are people still making the argument that contracts need to be moved prior to a player being picked up off waivers? SMac's contract alone couldn't have been the problem.

          • But SMac was hogging space for a real player. Buddy was doomed as soon as Quinn was hired as he doesn't want guys who fight but can't play. SMac didn't help his case by starting a fight (Quinn correctly called 'em "staged") right at the start of a game.

          • I'm assuming a big chunk of that has come from Souray, Pie and to a lesser extent MAP being on LTIR… in other words it's been building and we haven't had the full 3.25 this whole time.

            Also – Cap geeks could be wrong.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            PM me your email. I did some numbers and my post won't fit or something here. From what I gather they have to spend 55.8mil on players for the remainder of the year that is with taking Chorney, Pouilot, Pisani and the rest of the AHL team off the books. We only get 940k for cap relief as well. And that cap relief doesn't automatically give you extra cap space you have to be spending to the cap to begin with.

            Although moving Nilsson opens up room.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      LTIR does not free up any space. it allows a team to apply for relief.

      A player is considered to have a bona-fide long-term injury if, in the opinion of the team, the player has an injury which will cause him to miss at least 10 games and 24 days. Even in such cases, the player's salary will continue to count against the team's Upper Limit. This is mentioned at least three times in the CBA, and is repeated in Article 50.10(a):

      All Player Salary and Bonuses paid to Players on an NHL Active Roster, Injured Reserve or Non Roster that are Unfit to Play – being either injured or suffering from an illness – shall be counted against a Club's Upper Limit, Actual Club Salary and Averaged Club Salary, as well as against the Players' Share.

      and

      For players that the team has filed an LTI exception, the team is allowed to exceed the cap by up to the amount of the injured player's salary with as many replacement players as needed, provided that when the injured player is activated the team comes into compliance with the cap immediately. The team does not get to automatically tack on the amount of the injured player's salary to the Upper Limit – an example as illustrated in Article 50.10(d) of the CBA illustrates this point:

      (a) Illustration: A Player with a Player Salary of $1.5 million becomes unfit to play for more than 24 days and 10 games. At the time the Player becomes unfit to play, the Club has an Averaged Club Salary of $39.5 million, and the Upper Limit is $40 million. The Club may replace the unfit-to-play Player with another Player of Players with an aggregate Player Salary and Bonuses of up to $1.5 million. The first $500,000 of such replacement salary and bonuses shall count toward the Club's Average Club Salary, bringing the Averaged Club Salary to the Upper Limit. The Club may then exceed the Upper Limit by up to another $1 million as a result of the replacement salary and bonuses. However, if the unfit-to-play Player once again becomes fit to play, and the Club has not otherwise created any Payroll Room during the interim period, then the Player shall not be permitted to rejoin the Club until such time as the Club reduces its Averaged Club Salary to below the Upper Limit