For the better part of two months, “The Week That Was” has been a weekly feature commenting on the parts of the hockey game that were not highly profiled, not seen in the boxscore, or were incredibly interesting and noteworthy. With the NHL playoff season beginning on Wednesday and only a maximum of four games a night, I was fully expecting to have to cut down the series to a bi-weekly feature for the next two months starting at the beginning of the playoffs. However, in just four nights of action, there was a stunning number of events that were of interest. Here is a (not so) small sampling of what would usually be top-stories on any other week, but were not worth covering due to the unprecedented total of amazing events:
- Shea Weber’s head slam on Henrik Zetterberg, and the consequent non-suspension and reaction (mainly not selected because if it was, it would’ve been taking the definition of “beating a dead horse” to a whole new level).
- The sheer amount of missed or terrible calls, with Daniel Briere’s “onside” breakaway or the too-many men miss in Phoenix on Thursday.
- Pittsburgh blowing two games in which they had a 2-0 lead.
- Bryan Bickell and his response of “being glad to get 2 points” when they won a playoff game.
- Ryan Kesler’s embarrassing diving antics.
- Jim Hughson’s call of a “great save” by Chris Tanev when the puck clearly went in the net.
- The fact that after 15 games, 7 went to overtime and 2 went to double-overtime.
- Vlasic’s own goal against St. Louis
That is an insane number of moments that won’t even be discussed in this article. The fact of the matter is that the playoffs takes the greatest sport in the world and puts it into overdrive. It’s a time when every goal is nice, every borderline hit is subject to countless hours of analysis, and every controversial moment becomes a very controversial moment. The reason that happens is because every goal, save, and win brings a team closer or further from hockey’s ultimate prize, which is the Stanley Cup.
This week was filled with excitement and amazement. Aside from what was mentioned above, the week included incredible performances from key players, major penalties, controversial tweets, and much more. Here’s the week that was from April 11th to 14th.
Lucky Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th is known universally as a very unlucky day. With rich superstition and a franchise of movies surrounding the date, many people fear that the worst can happen. As expected, nothing ever stops for a day that’s merely superstition and the National Hockey League continues their playoff matchups like any other day. With 4 matches in play, the most profiled were that of the Pittsburgh/Philadelphia matchup and the Vancouver/Los Angeles series, both of which were playing their second game. In each game, players got good fortune as a result of the day, and not the stereotypical bad luck.
The first common theme involved in these two games was the hattrick. To score three goals in a game is unbelievable, but to score three in a playoff game is remarkable. Between these two matches, three players should have seen hats fall to the ice but were unfortunately on the road. At the Consol Energy Center, rookie Sean Couturier scored three crucial goals, which was considered a secondary job for the teenager as his main objective was to shut down Evgeni Malkin. The 8th overall draft pick also added an assist to cap off an unforgettable night. The second hattrick came courtesy of Claude Giroux, who had an even more extraordinary night than the player previously mentioned. “G” scored three goals and added three assists for a Flyers’ franchise-record six points. Amazingly, the wackiness didn’t stop there.
The other common theme was the presence of the short-handed goal. It’s incredibly rare to see one short-handed goal, but each of these games had two. Philadelphia’s Giroux and former-Penguin Maxime Talbot combined for a pair of crucial “shorties”, while none other than Dustin Brown recorded two short-handed goals in his win, the first player to do so since John Madden in 2006. Even if only one of these events happened it would have been the talk of the hockey world, but the fact that all of these different feats occurred and helped their teams achieve victories, the unluckiest day of the calendar should always be a day of celebrating for these two hockey cities.
On the note of the Philadelphia Flyers and the Los Angeles Kings, a very common theme has been seen between these two teams between very mutual players. After the two games played during the last week, here are the stats for 6 players:
- Mike Richards- 1 goal, 2 assists, 0 +/-, Average TOI = 20:23
- Jeff Carter- 0 goals, 2 assists, 0 +/-, Average TOI = 18:36
- Sean Couturier- 3 goals, 1 assist, +3, Average TOI = 16:38
- Wayne Simmonds- 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 +/-, Average TOI = 17:09
- Brayden Schenn- 2 goals, 1 assist, 0 +/-, Average TOI = 15:29
- Jakub Voracek- 1 goal, 2 assists, +1, Average TOI = 14:11
Obviously, these players have been chosen for a reason; alluding to the trades made in the summer of 2011 involving all of these players. While Jeff Carter made his way to Hollywood via Columbus, the series of trades involved these principal players. While the sample size is incredibly small, these two playoff games could be a microcosm for how these trades will be considered as for a long time. Los Angeles acquired two players that can put up good, steady numbers and play big minutes. The Philadelphia Flyers acquired young assets that have high ceilings and fill different needs. While people take specific sides on these sorts of debates, I feel that at the end of it all, it’ll be clear that the trades worked out well for both sides and can be considered a definite “win-win”. The past two games have really shown that.
A Real TSN Turning Point
A “TSN Turning Point” is the one moment in a sporting event in which something occurs that results in a swing of momentum. In hockey, this turning point is sometimes difficult to point out, and is often non-existent. However, the “TSN Turning Point” can be an idiotic penalty, a very nice play, a missed call, or a lucky bounce. On Friday, the most blatant turning point occurred between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, with many not noticing the complete shift in momentum that it resulted in. With the score 2-0 for the home team Penguins in the 1st period, the Pens went onto the powerplay with aspirations of extending the lead. Crosby gave Kris Letang a beautiful cross-ice pass, and Letang was in the perfect position with lots of space and only one padded Russian to beat. What happened can only be described by video seen here. Bryzgalov’s flash of leather kept the game at 2-0 and at an attainable range. From there, things just kept getting better for Philadelphia’s team.
The Flyers took advantage of the miraculous stop that saved the game from going to 3-0, and scored short-handed on the same penalty to cut the lead in half. From then on, the Flyers matched every play that the Penguins did and outscored them 7-3. With the win, Philadelphia gets to head home with a commanding 2-0 series lead and great confidence. Amidst the chaos and insanity that the game entailed, it was forgotten just how important that save was to the comeback. Not only did it legitimately save the game, but it restored Bryzgalov’s confidence in himself and the team’s confidence in Bryzgalov. From that point on, the team had the ability to skate with their heads held up and dismantle Pittsburgh. “TSN Turning Points” are rarely seen on the daily shows, but this should be mentioned as the turning point of the NHL season.
It’s Just a Tweet
During the regular season, different NHL twitter accounts made marks in the “twittersphere”. The Toronto Maple Leafs were critiqued for a lack of originality or excitement, the Calgary Flames offended many with their tweet making fun of the Ales Hemsky signing, while the Columbus Blue Jackets were applauded for their hilarity, topped off with an unbelievable Q&A following the Carter trade. However, those three teams are all golfing, meaning different twitter accounts would shine. So far, the clear-cut winner of the “best official account” goes to the Los Angeles Kings. Following the Kings’ 4-2 victory in Vancouver, their official account tweeted, “To everyone in Canada outside of BC, you’re welcome.” On the surface, it seemed like a hilarious and harmless tweet. That’s what it was to everyone, save some very passionate Vancouver Canucks fans. Countless people came in droves throwing multiple insults that cannot be repeated here, and even inspired somebody to make a twitter account that would retweet the best of these messages and show them to the public. The outrage was considered silly and not much was made of it.
On Friday, the Kings defeated the Canucks again, and the Kings’ twitter decided that they’d take a different approach to their post-game “chirp”. Following the outrage and a demand for an apology, the twitter account posted, “We apologize in advance for anyone this tweet offends: #LAKings lead series 2-0.” Needless to say, even more people seemed to attack the Kings’ twitter account with even more vile insults. On Sunday, the Kings will play the Canucks again. The game will be great, but there must be more anticipation for what will be said if the Kings win again.
When the playoffs begin, all players bring what can only be considered as their “A Game”. So far, players such as Mike Richards and Dustin Penner have taken their less-than-stellar regular season campaigns and have made an impact in the opening games of their series. But when players step up their game, players will also step up their “chirping game”. Only a few days into the postseason, there have already been two incidents.
The first one took place on Wednesday in Vancouver. Following a heated scrum involving Mike Richards and Alex Burrows, the Vancouver player appeared to wipe his nose. However, the motion had a deeper and chippier meaning than what appeared. At the 0:26 mark (as seen here), it’s clear that Burrows made a motion to Richards to allude to Mike’s high-profiled partying. The reaction of Richards seemed to show a sense of disgust, but it must not matter to the Los Angeles center as his team leads 2-0 in the series. The second incident occurred on Friday night in Pittsburgh. Following a blatant dive by Kris Letang, Wayne Simmonds decided to have some fun by mocking Letang’s exaggerated head whips. Letang might have not appreciated this shot, but the fact of the matter is that Letang needs to stick to being an incredibly offensive blueliner, and not a diver. This mockery by Simmonds proves that other players have taken notice.
5 Minute Major Marathon
If there’s one thing that has been an incredibly occurring theme over the first few days of the playoffs, it is the 5 minute major. The following palyers were given a major penalty and possibly a game misconduct for their respective offenses:
1) Andrew Shaw
- Penalty: Charging
- Victim: Mike Smith
- Injury: Smith appeared to be shaken up, but remained in the game.
- Consequences: Phoenix scored 1 goal on the 5 minute powerplay.
2) Byron Bitz
- Penalty: Elbowing
- Victim: Kyle Clifford
- Injury: Clifford left the game and did not play the following game.
- Consequences: Los Angeles scored 1 goal on the 5 minute powerplay.
3) Carl Hagelin
- Penalty: Elbowing
- Victim: Daniel Alfredsson
- Injury: Alfredsson left the game and did not return.
- Consequences: Ottawa did not score on the powerplay.
4) Matt Carkner
- Penalty: Fighting
- Victim: Brian Boyle
- Injury: Boyle did not leave the game.
- Consequences: New York did not score on the powerplay.
Weird Injury of the Week: David Krejci