Showing posts from April, 2011

More Playoff Tidbits

Dwayne Roloson at age 41 is only the second goaltender that old to play in the post-season in last 34 years. Dominik Hasek was 43 when he last appeared with Detroit three years ago. Before that it was Eddie Johnston of St.Louis who played 3 games in 1977 at age 41. The rest of the 41 or older 'tenders make quite a distinguished list (all in the Hall of Fame as well); Jacques Plante, Gump Worsley, Johnny Bower, Lester Patrick and Hugh Lehman.

On the topic of the elderly, 42 year old Mark Recchi with his next goal will become the oldest ever to score at least two goals in a playoff season. He scored 6 last year. In 1980, the 52 year old Gordie Howe played 3 games for Hartford and scored a goal and an assist.

On the other end of the scale is Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson of Los Angeles. With 12 points in 12 career playoff games, Johnson is one of only five defensemen ever to average at least a point per game over their career (min. 10 games). Bobby Orr is tops at 1.24, Brian Leetch and…

Rare Original Six Playoff Photos

I recently found on eBay some listings of old press photos. Lots of great images from the Detroit Press as well as United Press International, most of which I've never seen before. ( )

Below are a few of the better images from various NHL playoffs between 1940 and 1955.

April 7, 1955. Game Three Stanley Cup Finals, Montreal 4 - Detroit 2
Jacques Plante battling to find the puck through Ted Lindsay and Butch Bouchard. Plante stopped 35 of 37 shots, Bernie Geoffrion scores three as Montreal wins 4-2. Detroit was still up 2 games to 1 and would go on to win in seven.

April 22, 1945. Game 7 Stanley Cup Finals, Toronto 2 - Detroit 1
Mel Hill scores on Harry Lumley, first goal of the game in the first period. Jud McAtee and Earl Seibert look on. This would prove to be the last ever NHL game for Jud McAtee. He had played one game each in 42/43 and 43/…

April 25 in Playoff History

April 25, 1985 Chicago 7, Minnesota 6 2OT

This is the second time in a week that I harken back to this very series as a point of comparison for this years playoffs. In a situation eerily similar to what happened 26 years later, the Minnesota North Stars faced a goaltender dilemma. Watching last night's Game Six of Vancouver vs Chicago and seeing the youngster Corey Schneider start over veteran Roberto Luongo, could very well have brought flash backs for long time Chicago fans. The veteran goalie being forced to return in the third period, and then losing the game in overtime, this is exactly what happened 26 years ago today against Minnesota.

In 1984/85 the Minnesota North Stars faced the Blackhawks in the Norris Division Final after knocking off St.Louis by scores of 3-2, 4-3 and 2-0 on the strength of Gilles Meloche's fine goaltending. Chicago had swept Detroit behind Murray Bannerman and a powerful offense that produced scores of 9-5, 6-1 and 8-2 over the Wings. The North St…

Bill Barilko, 60 Years Ago

Toronto WinsCup Fourth Time In Five Years- Primeau Completes Grand Slam, Richard Individual Playoff Star

Bashing Bill Barilko's swashbuckling hockey play produces far more penalties than goals. It ran true to form Saturday night when the blond defenceman got the referee's thumb twice and scored once.

But that one goal was the big one of the 1951 Stanley Cup final. Tallied after two minutes and 53 seconds of sudden-death overtime, it sank Montreal Canadiens 3-2 and won for Toronto Maple Leafs their fourth cup title in five seasons and their sixth in 10.

IT FINISHED off a spine-tingling hockey gameand a record-breaking series for extra play-each of the five games being settled in overtime. Leafs captured four, Canadiens one.

In the decisive game, a spectacular goaltending performance by little Gerry McNeil forced the Leafs to come from behind twice to tie the score. Both times Toronto's ace trigger-man, Tod Sloan, a 31-goal man during the regular season, pulled the string. His s…

Biggest Comebacks in Playoff History

San Jose did the improbable last night and came back from a 4-0 defecit to win in overtime by a score of 6-5. Thanks to the great James Mirtle at The Globe and Mail, we find out this marks only the fourth time in NHL playoff history that a team has overcome at least a four goal defecit to win a game. It also hasn't been done in 26 years. The others were:

April 28, 1985 Minnesota North Stars 5, Chicago Blackhawks 4 The Hawks got out to a 4-0 lead on goals by Denis Savard and Darryl Sutter in the first period and Al Secord and Steve Larmer halfway through the second. North Stars goalie Gilles Meloche was then replaced by Don Beaupre and the comeback was on. Tony McKegney and Brian Bellows scored on Murray Bannerman before the period was over to make it 4-2. Dino Ciccarelli and McKegney again scored by the17:00 mark of the third to send it to overtime. 1:14 into the extra frame, Dennis Maruk won it for Minnesota. The North Stars went on to lose in overtime the next game and lost the s…

60 Years Ago Today

Sixty years ago today, April 19, 1951. Harry Watson scored 5:15 into overtime as Toronto beat Montreal in Game four of the Stanley Cup finals. The Leafs went up 3 games to 1 as every game had been decided in extra time. This set up one of the more memorable goals in hockey history when in game five, Bill Barilko scored the Cup-winning overtime winner.

Montreal coach, Dick Irvin is quoted in the Montreal Gazette saying, "If I was lucky as the Maple Leafs, I'd be a millionaire," alluding to the breaks that were falling the Leafs way. Game four was played at the Montreal Forum in front of 14,452 spectators. Leafs, Sid Smith opened the scoring 38 seconds into the game and Maurice Richard tied it up 14 minutes later. Howie Meeker gave Toronto the lead early in the second period and Elmer Lach deflected in a Maurice Richard shot at 13:49 of the third.

Before Watson won it in extra time, Montreal's Billy Reay missed a break-away chance on Al Rollins. Dick Irvin commented afte…

Playoff Tidbits

Some interesting playoff numbers, some expected and some unexpected.

Dany Heatley is an Assist Master? Known more as a goal scorer throughout his career, Heatley is a veritable playmaker in the post-season. His Points/Game is nearly identical in regular season and playoffs, he is pretty much 50/50 goals, assists is regular season. Over 50 career playoff games his Goal rate is just about cut in half but he collects an average of 0.72 Assists/Game. This ranks second among active players and 11th all-time, ahead of the likes of Peter Forsberg, Paul Coffey, Adam Oates and Doug Gilmour.

Ulf Nilsson, a better playmaker than Gretzky? Speaking of career Assists/Game in the post season, Wayne Gretzky of course is tops in NHL history with 1.25. He is well ahead of Mario Lemieux at 0.897 and Bobby Orr at 0.892. Amazingly, through the existence of the WHA Ulf Nilsson had more palyoff Assists/Game than the Great One. In three post seasons with Winnipeg, Nilsson collected 53 helpers in 42 games for a…

The First Battle of California, 1969

This year's first-round matchup of San Jose versus Los Angeles marks only the third time ever that a playoff series involved two California based franchises. The last time was only two years ago when the Anaheim Ducks upset San Jose four games to two in a first round series. The first time two California teams met in the playoffs was way back in 1969 when the Oakland Seals met the L.A. Kings.
The 1968/69 season saw Oakland finish in second place in the NHL's West Division with a record of 29-36-11 and 69 points. They ended up 19 points behind first place St.Louis, yet were still 8 points up on Philadelphia in third. Los Angeles grabbed the final Western playoff spot with a measley 58 points. In the opening game, the Kings snuck out a victory a mere 19 seconds into overtime on Ted Irvine's first goal of the playoffs. Oakland had knocked King starter Gerry Desjardins out of the game with two goals on eight shots in the first period. Oakland fought to send the game to extra …

Playoff Time!

I had my annual playoff draft last night. Myself and about 5 others of the 18 guys have been in this pool since 1994. 18 of us picking 9 players each. Consider there are 16 playoff teams and 208 total players on the combined top three lines and top two defense pairs among all the teams. We selected 162 of these guys, needless to say the pickings got slim at the end. Our top five went like this:

D.Sedin VAN
H.Sedin VAN
Ovechkin WAS
St.Louis TB
Perry ANA
Even considering the fact that my pool is based in Vancouver, I'd say that's a pretty typical top five although I don't have as much faith in Tampa Bay to have picked St.Louis fourth. In fact I had the sixth pick and snagged Canuck, Ryan Kesler. As a Leaf fan (yeah, year) and self-professed Canuck-hater, it pained me somewhat to make this pick. As a poolie though I am happy to get Kesler at 6th and may have even picked him over the Sedins just on the grit factor alone. I predict he will end up with as many if not mor…

Sedin or Perry. Who's your man?

Corey Perry will win the Hart Trophy this year as the NHL's most valuable player. Over the last month or so Perry has passed Sedin as the favourite and will win the Hart for a number of reasons.

When comparing players I like to use categories that put different players on an even playing field. Even Strength scoring, Scoring in Divisional games and Road Scoring are great ways to measure a player's impact and or superiority. In most of these categories, Perry has Sedin beat rather convincingly.
(League Ranking in Parentheses)

Even Strength Points: Perry 62 (1), Sedin 61 (2)
Even Strength Goals: Perry 31 (1), Sedin 23 (18)
Divisional Points: Perry 31 (1), Sedin 27 (3)
Divisional Goals: Perry 17 (1), Sedin 11 (13)
Road Points: Perry 50 (2), Sedin 55 (1)
Road Goals: Perry 28 (1), Sedin 24 (2)
As well, Perry has been by far the top scorer since the All-Star break and almost single-handedly kept Anaheim in the playoff hunt.

Points Since All-Star Game: Perry 46 (1), Sedin 38 (3)
Goals Since Al…

Five Games that blew it for the Leafs

Whether the Toronto Maple Leafs miss the playoffs by 2, 3 or 6 or 7 points they can point to five games that really cost them. These are games in which they blew a large lead or allowed an opponent to tie a game late and usually lost in overtime or a shootout. As well as they have played in the second half of the season, the ground to be made up was just too much. It certainly would have been helpful if they didn't fritter away points in teh manner they did in these five matches.

November 3, 2010 at Washington. Capitals 5, Leafs 4 in a shootout.
Toronto managed to tally three goals in a three minute span in the third to take a 4-3 lead. Alexander Semin tied it up at 14:22 of the final frame on a powerplay while Brett Lebda was serving a cross-checking minor. Johan Gustavsson lost the shootout battle with Michal Neuvirth.

November 6, 2010 at Toronto. Sabres 3, Leafs 2 in a shootout.
In their very next game, Toronto jumped out to a 2-0 lead until late in the second. Jochen Hecht tied th…

Jukka-Petteri Niinalaaman, The Next Leaf Saviour

The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Jukka-Petteri Niinalaaman, undrafted star of the Finnish Elite League. The 26 year old played for Ilves Tampere and scored an amazing 92 goals and 122 points in 60 games this season. Niinalaaman will be introduced to the media tomorrow and may be in the line up for at least one of Toronto ’s last four remaining games. The 6’5”, 240 pounder is blessed with blazing speed and a lightning quick release of the puck. His work ethic is second to none and his game is a feisty one as evidenced by his 12 fighting majors. The left winger is slated to skate with Phil Kessel next year and is expected to have an immediate impact. Niinalaaman’s breakout season came after a trying season in 2009/10. He suffered a concussion in the second game of the year and while recovering he ruptured an eardrum in an ice-fishing accident. Upon returning to the line-up Niinalaaman struggled to find his form. Then in February of last year, he was banished to semi-seclusion in nor…