Today’s 5 observations on current events in the National Hockey League and around the world of hockey.
1. Ducks fire away at Sens goaltenders
The ice must have literally been tilted when the Anaheim Ducks blasted 56 shots on goal last night against the Ottawa Senators. The shot total is a franchise record for the Ducks, who went old school, rocking their Mighty Ducks jerseys for the contest, in commemoration of the franchise’s 20th anniversary.
56 shots on goal? That’s crazy by today’s standards. The NHL is a collapsing, shot blocking league – you rarely see a team hit the 50 shot on goal mark in a game.
Only two Ducks players didn’t record a shot on net. They were stay at home defencemen Ben Lovejoy and Bryan Allen.
Coming into this season it was whispered the Ducks would decline in performance, fail to duplicate last year’s division title. So far, they are off to a great start, winning four of their first five games. The Pacific is stacked though. Fellow California rivals the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings pose major competition for the top three playoff spots.
The Ducks ice a solid team throughout. Last night they once again showcased their ability to dominate offensive zone possession with great size up front and better depth than they’ve enjoyed in recent seasons.
If they get solid goaltending they’ll finish high in the standings for the second season in a row.
2. The Florida Panthers 20th Anniversary
The Florida Panthers are the sister franchise of the Anaheim Ducks. Both organizations entered the NHL at the beginning of the 1993-94 season. In only their 3rd go as a club, the Panthers did the unthinkable and made the Stanley Cup finals. They lost to the Colorado Avalanche, but the journey was impressive.
It’s amazing how significant a Cup run can be. The Panthers have never been close since. Seventeen years after that magical run, they still appear as a long shot to reach the dance any time soon. Make the most of your opportunities is the lesson here.
In their 20th year as a franchise, the Florida Panthers have one thing going for them in the form of bluechip prospects. At the moment, the crop of under twenty-two year old players within the Panthers’ system is among the best any NHL club can claim. The future looks good for the franchise with a very disappointing past.
3. Bruins try to win it late, again
The Boston Bruins definitely possess the personnel to storm back from a scoreboard deficit and win hockey games late. They have proven that a few times in the past. In today’s matinee against new division rivals the Detroit Red Wings, the last minute pitch almost worked again.
Trailing 3-1, having just blown a lengthy 5 on 3 advantage, the Bruins took over in the Wings zone. With a buck twenty left on the clock, Milan Lucic buried a backhand in the slot, drawing the B’s to within one. Their comeback attempt stopped there, as Detroit held on to earn their 4th victory of the season.
What’s with the late comebacks? This from a team that was heavily criticized for not giving full 60 minute efforts last season. As good as the Bruins are, waiting for the last minute to draw even is risky business, and today they paid the price, blowing an opportunity for two points, or even one.
The urgency was there all throughout the 3rd period, but it wasn’t until the final few minutes that desperation turned into domination. Too little, too late.
To be fair, the Bruins missed on plenty of opportunities earlier in the contest. The Wings did a good job of getting to loose pucks in their crease before buzzing Bruins forwards could tap pucks in. Long season. You can’t win every night.
4. Undefeated Blues & Sharks tomorrow night
Tomorrow evening the hockey world is privy to another early season classic, not unlike the game between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks last week. The two Western Conference giants have dominated so far, both winning every single game they’ve played.
The Blues boast a 4-0-0 record. They’ve scored 17, allowing only 7.
The San Jose Sharks record is even more impressive at 5-0-0, scoring 24, only relinquishing 7.
I don’t do predictions, sorry gamblers. But I will say, the home team has a slight advantage here, just my opinion. Four of the Sharks’ five wins have come in San Jose where they dominated last season, and continue to dominate, this year.
The Blues are a fine home team, as well. They’ve played four at home and won each time. Last season, the Blues were 15-8-1 at home. The Sharks, although a different squad from a year ago, did not do well on the road in the short season, recording 8 wins, 14 losses, and 2 OTL’s.
Expect a close game with some animosity. Whenever the established top teams in the West play, tempers are high and points are proven. Tomorrow’s contest will be one of those games – two division leaders aiming to flex muscle and claim supremacy.
5. Canada/USA Women’s Rivalry Gets Violent
This courtesy of Yardbarker’s Twitter account: Canadian and American women’s hockey teams get into a line brawl after an incident around the Canadian net. It’s not a crazy fight, but clear indication that the upcoming Olympics will likely feature another very entertaining elimination game between the two best nations in women’s hockey.
U.S., Canada women’s hockey teams throw down in line brawl during exhibition game [VIDEO] http://t.co/fTVVjv2UxC
— Yardbarker (@yardbarker) October 14, 2013