Showing posts from October, 2010

The Start of Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas. Five games, five wins, THREE goals against, two shutouts.
With a 0.60 goals against average and a .981 save percentage, Thomas has been nearly perfect. And one of his goals against he put a clearing pass on the stick of Washington's Jason Chimera to lose a shutout. Truly amazing start for the recently over-looked veteran, but exactly how good of a start?

The last Bruin to start a season with even four straight wins was Doug Keans in 1987/88 who went on to lose his fifth start. His 4-1 start included a 2.98 GAA, hardly stellar. The last Bruin to go 5-0 to start a season was Cecil "Tiny" Thompson in 1937/38. His GAA over the five games was 1.40 and he had only one shutout. He would win his sixth game as well, beating Chicago 2-1 and lowering his average to 1.33. For Tim Thomas to raise his GAA to 1.33 next game he would have to allow 5 goals.

A quick look at the first five games of some of the graetest goaltending seasons in NHL history;

George Hainsworth, 1928/29…

Milt Schmidt

The Bruins honoured one of the games all time greats last night in Milt Schmidt in celebration of the 75th(!) anniversary of him signing his first contract with Boston. Schmidt truly is one of the greats in the history of the game having led the Bruins to two Stanley Cups as a player, coaching the team and later winning two more Cups as Boston's general manager. He was also a first team all-star on three occasions, won the Hart Trophy in 1950/51 and gained election to the Hall of Fame in 1961. The one issue I have is his MVP award in 1951. I believe Gordie Howe would have been a more deserving choice.

That season, Schmidt tallied 22 goals, 39 assists and 61 points in 62 games for the sub .500 Bruins. He finished fourth in NHL scoring 25 points behind Howe. Gordie notched 43 goals and 43 assists for 86 points, 20 more than second place Maurice Richard. Howe also played all 70 games for the first place Wings who finished that year as the first team ever to crack the 100 point barrie…

Updates from around the hockey world.

Alexander Radulov of Ufa Salavat currently has more assists than any other player even has points in the Kontinental League. His 24 helpers are one more than second place Roman Cervenka has points. Radulov's 5 goals give him 29 points in 18 games, 6 ahead of Cervenka, and 7 clear of third place Mattias Weinhandl. Other notables in the Russian circuit are Pavol Demitra with 19 points in fifth place and defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh right behind with 17 assists and 19 points in 20 games. Another ex-NHL D-man, Deron Quint has 9 goals and 1 assist in 17 games for Traktor Chelyabinsk to sit a mere 4 off the overall league goal lead.In Canadian major junior, Florida fourth round pick in 2009 Garrett Wilson is off to an insane start. He has 16 goals and 24 points in 12 games for Owen Sound after scoring 36 last season. Three top contenders to go early in the 2011 entry draft are having terrific starts as well. Kitchener defender, Ryan Murphy has 7 goals and 19 points in 12 games. In the QMJ…

Hockey's 200 point seasons

Most people know that Wayne Gretzky is the only player in NHL history to score 200 points in one season, doing it on four different occasions in the 1980's. Mario Lemieux came close with 199, but that's it. Who though, were hockey's first ever and most recent 200 point men?

In 1975/76 in the minor level North American Hockey League (which was the main minor league of the WHA), Jocelyn (Joe) Hardy scored an impressive 208 points for the Beauce Jaros out of St.Georges, Quebec. Hardy was a player-coach for the first place Jaros and the first ever professional hockey player to break the 200 point plateau. His 60 goals and 148 assists in 72 games was 48 points better than the second place scorer in the league, teammate Richard Grenier.

Hardy had played 40 games with the NHLs California Golden Seals in 1970/71 notching 14 points. After a year in the AHL he scored 50 points in 72 games for the Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA and 59 points in 77 games for the Chicago Cougars. He wou…

Maple Leafs hot start to 2010/11

Well, I have been avoiding the topic of Toronto's early season success for fear of jinxing what has been a pleasant surprise. Alas, I have a bad feeling about playing the Islanders in game five so I'm going to hope for a reverse-jinx tonight. As an aside, I have in fact been wearing the same Leaf hat (of 10 or so in my collection) each and every day since the season started.

So let's have a look. The 4-0 start to this year is of course the best start by Toronto since 1993/94 when they set an NHL record by going 10-0 to begin the year. Upon looking at the two squads, this year's could not be more of a polar opposite from that team of 17 years ago.

For starters the earlier version of the Leafs was led mainly by three stars in Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk and Wendel Clark. Gilmour would tally 111 points in 93/94, Andreychuk 53 goals and 99 points and Clark had one of the best goal scoring seasons in Toronto history with 46 goals in 64 games. The drop off from these top t…

Andy Aitkenhead, The best goalie you've never heard of.

Andy Aitkenhead was born in Scotland in 1904 and he was a mighty fine goaltender. These two factors helped create one of the great nicknames in hockey history; "The Glasgow Gobbler".
Aitkenhead played in every game for the New York Rangers in 1932/33 and 1933/34 and backstopped the Blueshirts to the Stanley Cup in '33. He finished fourth and fifth in the NHL in goals against average in the two years and was third with 7 shutouts in his second season. He would lose his job to Davey Kerr in 34/35 and finish his NHL career with 47 wins and 11 shutouts in 106 games while sporting a 2.35 GAA. His playoff stats were even better with a 1.48 average and 3 shutouts in 10 games.

Prior to his impressive NHL stint "The Glasgow Gobbler" had taken teams to both the Memorial Cup and Allan Cup finals by the age of 21. He turned pro with the Saskatoon Shieks of the Prairie Hockey League in 1926/27. In his second year with the Shieks he posted an average of 1.42 while the rest of…

Original Canuck; Garth Rizzuto

For their home opener and 40th anniversary celebrations, the Vancouver Canucks brought back many of the men who played in their inaugural season of 1970/71. One of the names that may not have been familiar to many fans (myself included) was Garth Rizzuto. He was a 23 year old veteran of 3 professional seasons when he debuted with Vancouver.

The Trail, BC native had played his junior hockey with the coincidentally named Moose Jaw Canucks scoring 24 goals and 55 points in 55 games in 1966/67. With his rights owned by Chicago, Rizzuto toiled for three seasons with the Dallas Black Hawks of the Central Hockey League. He tallied 59 then 62 points before being claimed by Vancouver in the expansion draft.

Rizzuto played 37 games in that first Canuck season collecting 3 goals and 4 assists. He also scored 20 points in 22 games for Canuck's farm team in Rochester. With oppurtunity's limited, he left Rochester half-way thru the following year to play with the Seattle Totems of the West…

Oilers expect Sobchuk to be Super Star

That was one of the headlines of the Hockey News on Oct 27, 1978 (pictured below).
The irony of course is that less than one week later, the fellow pictured on that very same cover as a member of the Indianapolis Racers would be traded to Edmonton and become the true star they desired.

In the article, titled "Sobchuk's Future: An Oiler Super Star", Dennis Sobchuk
is lauded as the answer to the question "Why don't we ever get a super star in Edmonton?" Having been aquired from Cincinnati late in the previous 1977/78 campaign, Sobchuk soon suffered a total shoulder seperation. He was limited to 13 games in the second half of the year and scored a mere 9 points. However at the age of only 25, hopes were still high for the one time junior phenom. Oiler architect, Glen Sather is quoted in the article,"I know Dennis wants to play here, as long as I know that I'm willing to wait for him to get over whatever problems he has had." He continued, "…

Nitzy's Hockey Draft Sleepers

It's that time of year. When we gather with fifteen or so friends around a table, drink a few pops and make fun of each other's draft picks. It's a three hour barrage of hockey acumen and cutting insults. I have often referred to the bi-annual draft as being "anticipated as eagerly as a childhood Christmas Eve." This is the sixteenth consecutive year that I have drafted with the same circle of idiots at my work. I have finished second each of the last two seasons in my pool by a grand total of 3 points. Even two seconds have garnered me about $500 bucks. This better be the year I finally break through.

The following are a few of my sleeper picks that I hope can put me over the top.

Jonathan Toews, Chicago
After years of 54, 69 and 68 points most sources are predicting a slight increase to the mid to high 70 point range. I'm thinking more along the lines of mid to high 80's. He and Kane should both use the Cup win as a stepping stone to bigger and better thi…