‘Tricks of the Trade
It’s been a great couple of days for young forwards in the NHL with Jonathan Toews, Eric Staal, Steve Stamkos and Milan Lucic all scoring hat tricks in the last 48 hours.
Toews lit up the Oilers as his Blackhawks beat Edmonton 5-0, Staal’s five points helped Carolina to a 7-1 win over the Sens, Stamkos had five points as well in an 8-7 victory for the Bolts over the Flyers and Lucic potted three as Boston blanked Florida 4-0.
Here are some interesting things about those games: As bad as the Oilers have been this season (4-10-3, last in the league), they beat the ‘Hawks twice before their Wednesday meeting. The Hurricanes are playing more inconsistently than any team I’ve ever seen before right now – they beat the Oil 7-1, lost 8-1 to Philly, fell 7-2 to Montreal and then pounded Ottawa 7-1. How does that even happen? Onto Lucic - who would have thought the team with the second overall pick at this year’s draft would have the sixth best record at this point?
That brings us to Steven Stamkos.
If there’s one thing I dislike about the start of a new season, it’s that I get too excited and try to project what a player is going to do too early. Four points in two games to start the year doesn’t mean a player is going to get 164 points, you know what I mean? I need a little context.
With a five-point effort on Thursday night in a come-from-behind 8-7 win against the Flyers in Philly, a game that featured nine first period goals, Stamkos had three goals and five points to bring his totals to 19 goals and 35 points…in 19 games.
I’m not here to tell you that he’s on pace for 82 goals and 151 points if he keeps on motoring the way he is. No, I’m not here to tell you that at all. These projections mean nothing, after all! Okay but seriously: if he stays healthy and doesn’t taper off as the season goes on, we could be witnessing something special here…
Here are Stammer’s three goals from Thursday:
Wheel of Justice
The NHL handed out two suspensions this week for a total of five games – one for a crosscheck to the head and another for a hit from behind.
First up, Calgary’s Olli Jokinen was suspended for three games for giving Wojtek Wolski the business in front of the Phoenix bench in a 3-1 Coyotes win on Wednesday. Wolski and Nik Hagman are pushing back and forth when Jokinen comes out of nowhere and creams him with a stick to the face, for which he was given five and a game. Have a look:
The Fin, who will give up over $48,000 for missing those three games, said he is “upset” with the ruling but will abide by it.
Up next, it’s Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mattias Ritola, who faces a two game ban for a hit from behind on Matt Moulson of the NY Islanders, also on Wednesday night.
This one is pretty clear cut – Moulson is facing the boards, looking to corral a loose puck, when Ritola charges at him from behind, jumps and elbows him in the back of the head. Can’t really argue with that:
Do you agree with these two calls? For me, I’m going to say yes. The league set a precedent with the Danny Briere suspension earlier this season when it comes to crosschecks to the head. As for the Ritola hit on Moulson, it’s so obviously a suspension that I doubt anyone is surprised.
Ups and Downs
Remember Jaroslav Halak?
The 25-year-old Slovakian was the savior in Montreal last year when the Habs made that long playoff run, earning the number one spot ahead of Carey Price down the stretch. He became the odd man out once free agency rolled around though, and much to the dismay of some Canadiens fans, Halak left La Belle Province this summer and wound up in St. Louis.
He got off to a great start this year going 8-1-0 in his first nine games…but he’s hit a bump in the road as of late. Here are the stats: Halak allowed a total of 15 goals over those first nine starts and since then, he’s given up 19 in just four games!
Things started to go south when he let in the first four goals of an 8-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets (before getting yanked), which snapped a seven game win streak for the Blues. After allowing a pair in an OT loss to the Preds, Halak gave up six in a loss to the Avalanche and seven more against the Red Wings – including one that he put into his own net, in hilarious fashion:
It’s sure been a funny couple of weeks in the NHL!
Bonus Footage: Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk (5’11, 194lbs) shows us that size doesn’t always mean everything out there as he steps into 6’4, 245-pound Dustin Penner: