In an average week, there are approximately 50 games played in the National Hockey League. Amidst this plethora of matchups, there are key attributes that differentiate every game from one another. Whether these attributes consist of spectacular offensive performances, controversial calls, or unique moments, there is justifiable reason to watch every game in the NHL. Unfortunately, that is not possible. Due to overlapping start times and other engagements, it is very rare that one watches every match in a single week. As a result, people frequently will watch small videos about interesting games and focus on the outstanding performances that would be reflected on the statistics sheet.
In all of the highlighted performances in a week, there are interesting storylines from the hockey world that are often forgotten. Whether these consist of a unique goal or a humorous fight, there are many moments every game that are swept aside.
“The Week That Was” is a weekly-article series that will highlight the most memorable and important parts of the past seven days in the NHL, and the ones that aren’t reflected in the boxscores. Ranging from key performances to must-see moments, there will be no shortage of information to share, and this series is sure to keep people in the loop of the very busy hockey schedule. Here is the Week that was (from Sunday, February 5th to Sunday, February 12th).
Mr. 1000 Celebrates in Style
The career of Chris Phillips has been quite respectable. The Albertan native was picked first overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, and has spent his entire time
in the big leagues as an Ottawa Senator. Now in his 14th season, Phillips has built a reputation as a stay-at-home defenseman, and never an offensive juggernaut. In fact, Chris only had 60 career goals and 1 in his last 136 games entering this past week. However, on Thursday Phillips played his 1000th game against the Nashville Predators. With Ottawa jockeying for position in the competitive Eastern Conference, Phillips had a chance to make this milestone game memorable. And that he did.
Hollywood couldn’t have scripted this one better. Chris Phillips scored his first two goals of the season on two shots to ignite Ottawa’s sluggish offense. More importantly, Phillip’s offensive explosion led the Senators to a 4-3 victory to jump back into 7th place in the Eastern Conference. While this hardly makes Phillips an offensive threat, it proves that he can be helpful on both sides of the blue line, and is one of the more valuable members of Ottawa’s club. Phillips had one of the most explosive nights of his career on a milestone occasion, and was one of the highlights of the week.
By Scott, the Drought is Over
It is not uncommon to see goal droughts occur during an NHL season. Some players will go two weeks without scoring a goal, while some will take over a month. However, the hilarity of Scott Gomez’s goalless drought became a phenomenon in the hockey universe for many reasons:
- Scott Gomez plays for Montreal, one of the largest hockey markets in the world.
- Gomez is carrying a $7.4 million cap hit for the next three seasons.
- Gomez was traded to Montreal for Ryan McDonagh, who is out-performing him in every way.
- Gomez hadn’t scored for over 365 days.
When those factors come together to create such an epic goal drought, people notice. Twitter personalities made up demeaning hashtags about Gomez and even websites in honour of the drought were created. However, Scott finally got his goal on Thursday, beating Evgeni Nabokov glove-side on the powerplay to end the pathetic streak. The 168th goal of his career became a trending topic worldwide, and certainly was the most talked-about moment of the past seven days. You can watch the goal here.
Revenge is best served in February
The theme of the past week was revenge. The last time Ryan Miller faced the Boston Bruins, the events that arose were ugly. Milan Lucic infamously ran Miller while he was playing the puck, concussing the former Vezina Trophy winner. The Bruins won 6-2, and followed that up with a 4-3 shootout victory two weeks later against Jhonas Enroth. However, Ryan Miller has picked up his game as of late, and was set to face Boston on Wednesday for the first time since his concussion.If the Sabres were trying to make a statement, they did just that. Buffalo scored 6 goals to chase Tuukka Rask and take the victory. This victory was made all the more special as Ryan Miller stopped all 36 shots faced to earn the shutout, and exact revenge on the team that sidelined him midway through the season.
Revenge was also served in Washington on Tuesday night. While the Washington Capitals are still the favourites to win the lowly Southeastern division, their lead could have been much greater had they not lost to the Florida Panthers. The Panthers had met the Capitals on February 1st, and dominated every aspect of that game. However, the Capitals came back with a vengeance, dominating Florida in a decisive 4-0 victory. With that win, Washington tied the series at 2 apiece, setting up quite the showdown for the next two meetings.
The fight corner: Unorthodox Goal Celebration and the Double Stage
The National Hockey League has seen its fair share of interesting goal celebrations. Ranging from Jaromir Jagr’s salute to Artem Anisimov’s gun, there is little that players have not tried to do whilst celebrating. However, Scott Hartnell found a way to top any celebrations of the past. After scoring his 26th goal of the season, there was no legitimate celebration. Rather, he instigated Dion Phaneuf, and a fight ensued (Watch it here, courtesy of Hockeyfights.com). The goal proved to be useful, as the Flyers beat the Maple Leafs 4-3 on Thursday night. This was certainly the oddest moment of the week, but one that was fairly amusing to watch.
The second fighting moment took place on Tuesday night in New York, as Eric Boulton fought Brandon Prust and Cam Janssen fought Mike Rupp Off of the opening faceoff. While staged fights are often criticized, there is no doubt that having two staged fights off in the first two seconds of a game is very cool, and one of the highlights this week.
It wouldn’t be a normal week in the NHL if there were no controversial plays. This week, there were two decisions made by referees that directly impacted the game. The first one took place on Tuesday night, during the same game as the double-fight. With only three seconds to go, the Rangers appeared to have scored to tie the Devils at one apiece. Immediately, the referees ruled it a no-goal, and gave a penalty to Marian Gaborik. However, it appears to be that Volchenkov pushed Gaborik into Martin Brodeur, and that the goal should have counted. While this was a grey area, it yet again called for the implementation of video review, to make sure that all calls like these are called properly. Read Puck Daddy’s take on the situation, written by Greg Wyshynski.
The second controversial call of the week wasn’t even a call at all. On Wednesday, the Carolina Hurricanes and the Anaheim Ducks battled at the Honda Center. After 60 minutes, the game remained tied and overtime was needed. Just over two minutes into the extra frame, Corey Perry blatantly tripped Jussi Jokinen behind the net. No penalty was called, Perry got the puck, and scored to win the game. Kerry Fraser did not even attempt to sugarcoat this blown call, addressing this in his blog on TSN.ca.
“There is no sugar coating my explanation on this play. Corey Perry tripped Jussi Jokinen with an active stick to the back of Jussi’s skates. Perry should have been in the penalty box instead of slapping the one timer into the back of the net past Cam Ward for the OT win.”
The NHL has some fine officiating, but having calls such as these not getting called ruins the integrity of the sport, and directly affects the outcome of the match.
Play of the Week: Bobby Lou’s Leg Kick