Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Around the Rinks

Grand Theft Composite

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan scored one of the strangest goals of the year on Sunday night in a 6-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.

In the final minutes of the second period with the Ducks leading 4-2, Wild captain Mikko Koivu loses his stick in the corner, skates past Ryan, rips the stick out of his hand and then starts playing with it! Since the refs didn’t see what had happened, play continued and about 20 seconds later Ryan decides to pick Koivu’s stick up off the ice – before realizing it’s the wrong hand.

Wouldn’t you know it, the puck comes to Ryan and he one-times it into the back of the net!

The Wild apparently tried to have the goal disallowed on the “illegal stick” premise, but I guess there is no rule against picking up someone else’s stick and scoring a goal. Furthermore, it was Koivu who started the thing by stealing Ryan’s stick!

As for the taunt after the goal, here’s what Bobby Ryan said to the OC Register: “I just said you took mine right out of my hands in the corner. Finders keepers, I guess!”

That’s classic!

Vityaz at it again…

Not to be outdone by the Coventry Blaze of the UK Elite League, Vityaz Chekhov of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League is again making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

If you’re saying to yourself “I’ve heard that name before,” it’s because you probably have: Last January Vityaz and Avangard Omsk racked up an amazing 840 penalty minutes and 18 game misconducts in just 3:39 of “hockey” and the game had to be abandoned because there weren’t enough players left to play!

Guess what? It’s almost a year later and I’ve got another Vityaz vs. Avangard story for you!

Just six seconds into a game between the two clubs last Friday, Vityaz’s “starting lineup” went Charlestown Chiefs on the unsuspecting home side and began laying a beating on everyone, including the goalie.

The ringleaders were Canadians Josh Gratton and Darcy Verot, along with teammates Sergei Belokon and Ivan Larin. Verot was a big part of last year’s brawl between the two clubs and also made waves later that month for sucker punching CSKA’s Nikita Filatov.

Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov runs down the punishments: 15 games for Gratton, 14 for Larin, 13 for Belokon, 12 for Verot and fines ranging from $300-$850 for each player.

As if those pathetic fines aren’t bad enough, Chesnokov tells us that some are claiming Vityaz had already arranged for those players to head home after the game, rather than continue with the team on its current road trip. If that’s true it’s an absolute travesty!

Obviously this ambush, because that’s really all you can call it, was planned to some degree – but if it runs that deep it might be time to review the team’s membership in the league.

Here’s an interesting note: If you put the UK brawl and the KHL brawl together, a handful of Canadians are serving a total of 42 games worth of suspensions right now!

Winter Classic?

There’s something I’ve always wondered about the NHL’s newest tradition, and this weekend that question was back on my mind: How do NCAA outdoor games continually draw a much larger gate than the ones the NHL holds?

On Saturday 113,411 people turned up to watch the University of Michigan beat Michigan State 5-0 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, setting a Guinness World Record for attendance.

That beat game one of this year’s IIHF World Hockey Championships in Germany, a record that eclipsed a 2001 outdoor game between the Wolverines and the Spartans dubbed “The Cold War.” Absent from that list is any of the four outdoor games the NHL has put on!

The only one even close to any of those records was the 2008 game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, but even then we are looking at over 3,300 fewer people (71,217) than any of the record setting games!

Edmonton hosted the NHL’s first modern outdoor game at Commonwealth Stadium in 2003 in front of 57,167 people, in 2009 40,818 people watched at Wrigley Field and 38,112 took in last year’s game at Fenway Park.

Shouldn’t the NHL be able to easily beat these attendance records? I know college sports have a big following in the US, but each Winter Classic game so far has been held in a traditional hockey market…

Is it just poor management by the NHL and a failure to capitalize on the opportunity? Let me know what you think, because I’m stumped!

The Good & The Bad

You know, if the Pittsburgh Penguins ever mated with the NY Islanders, they would have a decidedly average little team…

While the Penguins are tearing up the league with twelve straight wins (lets see them do it without Sidney Crosby!), the Islanders are easily and emphatically the worst team in the NHL.

As of today, they’ve lost six in a row and 20 of their last 21 games (1-16-3). The only thing crazier than that is the fact that the NJ Devils are only three points ahead of them with an 8-19-2 record!

At the other end of the spectrum, the Pens are 15-1-1 in their last 17 games, dating back to November 6th and Crosby is riding an 18-game point streak that’s seen him put up 20 goals and 36 points in that span.

Both of those streaks will be tested big time tonight when they travel to Philly to face the Flyers!

Will it be 13 and 19?

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