Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hockey Night In North America

The New York Islanders come up short once again blowing a three goal second period lead, dropping a shootout to the Boston Bruins 4-3.

Pittsburgh knocked off Toronto 5-2 on the strength of two Sidney Crosby power-play goals.  Former Albany River Rat Mike Rupp picked up a five minute major for fighting.

Ottawa defeated Atlanta 4-2.  Pavel Kubina a former Adirondack Red Wing picked up an assist in the loss for the Thrashers.

The Ducks have impressed on the East Coast thus far.  After drubbing Boston they were able to slow down Philadelphia.  Mike Richards scored his sixth and Chris Pronger his first in the first and second period respectively, both on the power-play.  But Teemu Selanne took over with two goals in the third including one in the last minute of regulation to tie it at two.  After OT, Selanne had the lone shootout tally and the Ducks beat the Flyers 3-2.

In a back and forth affair the New Jersey Devils fought off the Florida Panthers 3-2.  Former River Rat Brian Rolston had two assists on the night, both coming on the first two Devils goals including former Rat Travis Zajac's power-play score to put New Jersey up 2-1 in the second.  After the Panthers came back to tie it, another former Rat David Clarkson put home the eventual winner in the third on the power-play on assists from former Albany players Zajac and Zach Parise.

Detroit looks as though it has shaken off the early European trip funk beating the Caps 3-2.  Washington tied things up in the third on the power-play as former Albany River Rat Brendan Morrison scored his third with the Caps.  But a former Adirondack Red Wing Tomas Holmstron had a big answer of his own on the Wings power-play midway through the third with the eventual game winner. Former A-Wings goalie Chris Osgood picked up the win and had 35 saves.

Ryan Malone scored a hat trick as Tampa beat Carolina 5-2.

The Kings continue their strong early play edging out the Blues 2-1.  Former Rats goalie Chris Mason had 28 saves in the loss for St. Louis.

Ryan Miller had 25 saves in a Buffalo shutout of Nashville 1-0 on the strength of a Mike Grier goal in the third.

In a contest with a crazy shootout that lasted nine rounds, the Blackhawks topped the Avalanche 4-3.  Former Rat Andrew Ladd netted his first with Chicago and was aided by another former Rat John Madden for the helper.

Rick Nash scored and Mathieu Garon posted 36 saves as Columbus shutout Phoenix 2-0.

Former River Rat Brian Gionta scored for the Habs but it wasn't enough as Edmonton beat Montreal 3-2. 

Finally the San Jose Sharks on the strength of two Patrick Marleau goals (4,5) defeated the Minnesota Wild 4-2.

Rats Rock Rochester

Are the Albany River Rats going to be fun this year or what?  About the only thing that didn't go right for the Rats Saturday night was when defenseman Jamie McBain had a give-away in his own zone breaking Mike Murphy's shutout.  Oh and how masterful Murphy was.  In his first pro start the River Rats rookie goalie turned away 28 shots and was a big part of why the Amerks went 0-6 on the power-play.  Murphy was absolutely stellar in his first AHL start in picking up the win.

As for the Rats offense, well that was pretty solid too.  Of course cashing in six goals will do that for you.  In the first Rats captain Pat Dwyer fired a shot off Amerks goalie Tyler Plante and Nick Dodge stuffed home the rebound giving Albany the lead.  In the second it was Dwyer again involved in the scoring, this time a short-handed goal roofed by a streaking Dwyer down the right side of the ice.

Albany showed they could get it done on the power-play as well.  The one and only  D.R.A.yson Bowman netted his third of the year in as many games, chasing Plante.  Amerks backup Alexander Salak fared no better as the Rats scored once again on the man advantage with "send it in" Jerome Samson lighting the lamp late in the second as well.

Then in the third it was Stefan Chaput-ting it in the net off a pass from Zach Boychuk who broke his stick on the pass, but he'd gladly trade the stick for a helper to put the Rats up five zip.  Finally midway through the third it was Zach Fitzgerald with the capper from the point and the River Rats rolled 6-1.

With the victory the River Rats improve their mark to 2-1-0-0 on the young campaign.

In other Empire State AHL action the Adirondack Phantoms dropped their first road contest in Syracuse 6-1 to the Crunch.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rats and Phantoms Both Win!

The Albany River Rats and Adirondack Phantoms picked up their first wins on the season Friday night.  The River Rats lit up the Portland Pirates 5-2, while the Phantoms squeaked by the Springfield Falcons 4-3.  Both teams stand at 1-1 on the season with Rochester coming to Albany and Adirondack going to Syracuse Saturday night.

Around the NHL the papa-Rats, the Carolina Hurricanes put up a seven spot on the Florida Panthers (parent club of the Amerks).  Matt Cullen had a goal and an assist.  Jussi Jokinen picked up a goal and two helpers as Carolina rolled against Florida 7-2.

One other game of note in a light night of action, the Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames taking to the ice.  Mike Ribeiro added a goal and an assist for the Stars, but two power play goals from Dion Phaneuf and Rene Bourque (both with their third on the season respectively) weren't enough as the Flames inched close but fell short 5-2.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Speed Skate: NHL Highlights of the Night

Onto Washington where the New York Rangers were looking to avenge last year's 3-1 playoff collapse to the Caps.  Ovie was kept in check on the night.  It was 2-1 Rangers heading into the third when Nicklas Backstrom struck back for the Capitals with a goal from center ice past King Henrik tying the score.  Backstrom was back for more on the power play with a nifty pass from Brooks Laich for his second on the game and on the season.  But Marian Gaborik already looking like the signing of the year if not comeback player of the year, took over for the Blueshirts.  Gaborik scored two goals of his own in the third to tie and take the lead for the Rangers, the final coming on the power play and it was New York over Washington 4-3. 

Well they broke up the Coyotes as the Buffalo Sabres beat Phoenix late in the third on a Thomas Vanek power play goal 2-1. 

In Ottawa Martin Biron got his first start for the Isles making 25 saves, but Mike Fisher and the Sens scored within the first minute of OT and Ottawa topped New York 3-2.

The battle of Pennsylvania was a high scoring affair between the Flyers and Penguins.  Pittsburgh struck in the first minute on a Evgeni Malkin goal in the first period.  Danny Briere chipped in two goals for Philadelphia as did Jeff Carter, but Marc-Andre Fleury made the saves when he needed to as Pittsburgh hung on for the 5-4 victory.

The hockey version of Anaheim and Boston didn't go any better for Beantown Thursday night.  After Marco Sturm put the B's up 1-0 in the first, it was all downhill from there.  The Ducks scored three in the second and three in the third, including two power play goals from Teemu Selanne and two goals (one short-handed) and a helper from Corey Perry as the Ducks beat the Bruins 6-1.

In Detroit three second period goals were good enough for the Red Wings to top the Chicago Blackhawks.  After his benching former Adirondack Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood was sharp for the Wings with 32 stops.  Former A-Wing forward Kris Draper scored Detroit's second goal and another former A-Wing Tomas Holmstrom picked up an assist one Johan Franzen's eventual game winner.  Red Wings win 3-2.

Down in Tampa it was a good night to be a former Albany River Rat.  Former Albany forward  Zach Parise who had 45 goals last year got some help from Lightning goalie Mike Smith who knocked the puck into his own net off the butt end of the stick giving the Devils a 1-0 lead.  Former River Rat Travis Zajac picked up an assist on Parise's first of the season on the power play, more on Zajac later.  Tampa Bay struck back in the second on a goal from standout Steven Stamkos.  New Jersey answered when ex-River Rat Jay Pandolfo scored on an assist from another former Rat David Clarkson.  After Stamkos netted another on the power play in the third and Todd Fedoruk put the 'Ning ahead 3-2, Zajac scored with one tick left on the clock from former Rats Brian Rolston and Parise to send the game to OT.  In the shootout Marty Brodeur who had 41 saves came up big as Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner scored and the Devils went on for the 4-3 win.

The Nashville Predators beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on the strength of two Patric Hornqvist goals.  Former Rats sniper Steve Sullivan picked up a helper on the night.

Atlanta beat St. Louis 4-2 on the strength of two Ilya Kovalchuk goals.  Former Rats goalie Chris Mason had 18 saves in the loss for the Blues.

Calgary knocked off Edmonton in a shootout 4-3 with Nigel Dawes netting the winner.

After doing it to the Sharks, the Kings put up another six spot on the Wild.  Los Angeles beat Minnesota 6-3 on the strength of two Ryan Smyth goals

Speaking of San Jose they posted a six pack of their own against the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Dany Heatley blew up the Blue Jackets for a hat trick and Joe Thornton notched four assists as a four goal second was the difference as the Sharks rolled 6-3. 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Break Up The Yotes!

I know Wayne Gretzky isn't coaching the Phoenix Coyotes anymore but is he now playing for them?  It sure looked in Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.  More proof that when you're on top that everybody is actively gunning for you.  Not only did the Coyotes beat back the Penguins, they blanked them on 24 saves by Ilya Bryzgalov. 

The Jovo-Cop, Ed Jovanoski scored a PPG in the first Peter Prucha added one in the second and Radim Vrbata put in an empty net goal in the third and the Coyotes rolled 3-0.

In the great Northwest the Vancouver Canucks finally decided to show up this season.  They absolutely pasted the Montreal Canadiens 7-1.  Henrik Sedin ended up with two goals and one assist while his brother Daniel picked up two helpers as well. 

The Canucks converted on three of five power play opportunities smoking the Habs.  Roberto Luongo was solid stopping 27 of 28, while Carey Price let's just say the price was wrong as he was chased after seven goals geez why not wait for eight?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Flyers and Caps Put on Quite a Display

If you didn't come away impressed from Tuesday night's contest between the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals, I guess I'll never convince you what a great sport this truly is.  Just an astounding amount of scoring between these two.  Mike Richards of the Flyers ended up with a hat trick, two of which came on the power play.  The first one by Richards got Philly on the board and after that Richard scored two within 58 seconds, all in the second period.  And get this Flyers defenseman Matt Carle who did well to keep the puck in the offensive zone to set up Richards' hatter, had four assists on the game himself all of which also came in the second.

The Alexander's also came up strong for Washington, Ovechkin with two goals and an assist and Semin with two goals including one on the power play that got the Caps back tied 4-4 in the third.  Former Albany River Rat Brendan Morrison scored his third of the season putting the Caps on top 5-4.  Yet late in the third Philly rallied on a PPG from Scotty Hartnell who evened things up at 5-5.  In OT it was Danny Briere hoping to have a healthy bounce back season who put away the winner for Philadelphia 6-5.

In Toronto it was Daniel Alfredsson's second period penalty shot against fellow Swede Jonas Gustavsson that turned out to be the eventual winner as the Ottawa Senators took out the Maple Leafs 2-1.

Down in Raleigh it was a former member of the 'Ning Dynasty, Jussi Jokinen lighting the lamp on the power play for Carolina in the first.  Tampa Bay countered with one of their own in the second from Ryan Malone.  This game also saw former Albany River Rats defenseman Tim Conboy get in a scrap for the Hurricanes with Zenon Konopka.  Another former Albany defenseman David Hale took a tripping penalty late in OT but it wouldn't matter.  Heading into the shootout, shockingly Jokinen who has one of the better moves in the league was kept at bay, but goals from Sergei Samsonov and Tuomo Ruttu were the difference in beating Mike Smith.  Cam Ward and the boys bounce back from two absolute clunkers against Philly and Boston and win 2-1 against the Lightning.

Out in the Midwest, that "other game" in Minnesota, the Minnesota Wild taking on the Anaheim Ducks.  This one saw the Duck charge out front early in the second.  Former Montreal captain Saku Koivu netted his first as a Duck on the power play, following tallies by Joffrey Lupul and Evgeny Artyukhin hoisting Anaheim to a 3-0 lead after two.  But Saku's little brother Mikko would have none of it in the third and the Wild made a hard charge back.  This Koivu also scored on the power play.  Then it was former Albany River Rat Petr Sykora with his first goal in a Minnesota sweater cutting it to one goal.  Eric Belanger tied things at three with a PPG late in the third and sent this one to OT.  That's where Andrew Brunette rocked home a power play goal to give the Wild a dramatic comeback over the Ducks 4-3.  Another big part of the three goal comeback was Martin Havlat who recorded three assists on the evening.

In the great Northwest the Edmonton Oilers faced off against the Dallas Stars.  Mr. Hilary Duff, Mike Comrie back in Edmonton, got his Oilers on the board in the first.  Brenden Morrow netted his first of two on the night for Dallas tying things at one.  After trading off goals in the latter two periods both teams went to a shootout with things stading at four all.  Ales Hemsky notched the winner for Edmonton in a 5-4 victory over the Stars.  Stars goalie Marty Turco picked up a short-handed assist in the loss for Dallas.

Finally in a battle of Cali, the Los Angeles Kings upended the San Jose Sharks in a 6-4 barn burner.  L.A. jumped out to a four goal edge, chasing Evgeni Nabokov midaway through the third with scoring capped off by Anze Kopitar.  The Sharks countered with four straight goals of their own however and with all coming compliments of the extra man advantage.  Devin Setoguchi notched two, former King defenseman and captain Rob Blake picked one up as well and newly acquired Dany Heatly scored his first as a Shark to knot things at 4-4 midway through the third.  But Teddy Purcell put in a quick dagger just 26 ticks later for the Kings, in essence sucking the life right out of San Jose and their valiant comeback attempt.  The Kings beat the Sharks 6-4 with a late empty netter.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Big Night For Blueshirts/Blue Jackets

A light night in the NHL but a good night if you're wearing blue.  The New York Rangers found themselves in New Jersey taking on the Devils, while Columbus was out west facing the Vancouver Canucks.

It was the Devils in Newark who pounced on the Rangers extremely early with a goal a little more than a minute into the action.  Rob Niedermayer put New Jersey out front with his first as a Devil from former Albany River Rats' Jay Pandolfo and David Clarkson.  This prompted Rangers coach John Tortorella to go absolutely ballistic on the bench, lighting into his players.  From that point Rangers youngster and defenseman Michael Del Zotto caught Marty Brodeur out of position on the power play and locked things up at one in the first. 

Midway through the first New Jersey struck back with a power play goal of their own with a nifty pass from Clarkson in front of the crease back to another former Albany River Rat Travis Zajac to light the lamp on Henrik Lundqvist.  Zach Parise who also played in Albany picked up an assist on the play as well.  But New York who went oh-fer their first two games on the power play, put another one past Brodeur from way out off the stick of newly acquired Ales Kotalik for his first as a Ranger.  The former Buffalo Sabre Kotalik who assisted on Del Zotto's PPG picked up his goal this time around from Del Zotto and Ryan "don't call me Tommy" Callahan to tie things up once more.

Early in the third it was Matt Gilroy the rookie and former captain of last year's Boston University National Championship team putting home his first career NHL goal off a brand name goaltender.  The latter two goals were not typical of shots that followers of Martin Brodeur are accoustomed to seeing let up.  In any event that was enough to garner the Rangers a victory 3-2.

Out west Columbus goalie Steve Mason continues so sparkle between the pipes after being pelted with 43 shots from the Canucks and stopping 40.  Henrik Sedin got the Canucks going late in the first but with under a minute to go the Jackets answered back with a score by Antione Vermette, so it was 1-1 after one.

In the second Columbus kept that momentum going beating Roberto Luongo three more times, including twice within a span of 22 seconds.  Kristian Huselius, Rostislav Klesla and Nikita Filatov all scored chasing Luongo from the game.

Midway through the second and third Vancouver tried to chip away with Christian Ehrhoff and Willie Mitchell bringing the Canucks back within one at 4-3.  Mitchell the former Albany River Rats defenseman had that goal and an assist on Ehrhoff's goal on the night.

However Fedor Tyutin's power play goal late in the third for Columbus gave them all the insurance they needed to roll onto a 5-3 victory.  Rick Nash also had a big influence on the Blue Jackets win with three helpers.

Nightly Notables: Erik Cole of the Carolina Hurricanes is out 4-6 weeks with a fractured leg, which could result in either the call up of Brandon Sutter or Pat Dwyer for all you Albany River Rats fans out there who are curious.  Habs top defenseman Andrei Markov will be out another four months after getting cut on his ankle.

Commodore Placed On IR

Former Albany River Rats and current Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Mike Commodore has been placed on the IR.

NHL 2009-10 TV Schedule For Games On Versus

Here it is folks, for those of you looking for the games televised on Versus

Oct. 2 Games are Bonus Coverage From Europe
Olympic Break is Feb. 15-23

Oct. 1 7:00 pm Washington 4  vs Boston
Oct. 1 10:00 pm San Jose 2  vs Colorado 5 
Oct. 2 (FIN) 12:00 pm Florida 4 at Chicago 3SO 
Oct. 2 (SWE) 3:00 pm Detroit   at St.Louis  
Oct. 5 7:00 pm NY Rangers   at New Jersey  
Oct. 6 7:00 pm Washington   at Philadelphia  
Oct. 12 8:00 pm Calgary   at Chicago  
Oct. 13 7:00 pm Detroit   at Buffalo   
Oct. 19 7:00 pm San Jose   at NY Rangers  
Oct. 20 7:00 pm St. Louis    at Pittsburgh    
Oct. 26 8:00 pm Minnesota   at Chicago  
Oct. 27 7:00 pm Philadelphia    at Washington   
Nov. 3 7:00 pm Boston   at Detroit  
Nov. 9 8:00 pm Los Angeles   at Chicago  
Nov. 10 7:00 pm Pittsburgh   at Boston   
Nov. 16 7:00 pm New Jersey    at Philadelphia   
Nov. 17 7:00 pm Washington   at NY Rangers  
Nov. 23 7:00 pm Detroit   at Nashville  
Nov. 25 8:00 pm St. Louis   at Dallas  
Nov. 30 7:00 pm Buffalo    at Toronto  
Dec. 1 8:00 pm Columbus   at Chicago   
Dec. 7 7:00 pm New Jersey    at Buffalo   
Dec. 8 7:00 pm NY Islanders    at Philadelphia   
Dec. 9 9:00 pm Minnesota   at Colorado  
Dec. 14 7:30 pm Buffalo   at Montreal  
Dec. 15 7:00 pm Philadelphia   at Pittsburgh  
Dec. 21 7:00 pm Buffalo   at Toronto  
Dec. 22 8:00 pm San Jose   at Chicago  
Dec. 28 7:00 pm Detroit   at Columbus  
Dec. 29 8:00 pm Chicago   at Dallas  
Jan. 4 7:00 pm Boston   at NY Rangers  
Jan. 5 8:00 pm Minnesota    at Chicago  
Jan. 11 8:00 pm Pittsburgh   at Minnesota  
Jan. 12 7:00 pm New Jersey   at NY Rangers  
Jan. 18 8:00 pm Minnesota   at Dallas   
Jan. 19 7:00 pm Tampa Bay   at NY Rangers  
Jan. 25 7:00 pm Pittsburgh   at NY Rangers  
Jan. 26 7:00 pm Phoenix   at Detroit  
Feb. 1 7:00 pm Buffalo    at Pittsburgh   
Feb. 2 8:00 pm Minnesota   at Dallas  
Feb. 8 7:00 pm New Jersey   at Philadelphia  
Feb. 9 8:00 pm   Detroit   at St. Louis   
Mar. 1 9:00pm Detroit
at Colorado  
Mar. 2 7:30 pm Philadelphia   at Tampa Bay  
Mar. 8 7:00 pm Dallas   at Washington  
Mar. 9 7:30 pm NY Islanders   at Philadelphia   
Mar. 15 7:00 pm Boston   at New Jersey  
Mar. 16 7:00 pm Montreal   at NY Rangers  
Mar. 22 7:00 pm Pittsburgh   at Detroit  
Mar. 23 8:00 pm San Jose   at Minnestoa  
Mar. 29 7:00pm Buffalo   at Boston  
Mar. 30 8:00 pm Chicago   at St. Louis  
Apr. 5 7:00pm Boston   at Washington  
Apr. 6 7:30pm Washington   at Pittsburgh  

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sid The Kid vs. The Lighthouse Project

As far as 15 year contracts go on the Island, I'm not saying you want to lock up John Tavares just yet but I'd give it a few more games.  However it was Sidney Crosby from start to finish saying not so fast there Sparky!

Crosby got Pittsburgh on the board in Uniondale with his second of the season, past Dwayne Roloson.  Then the Islanders went on the power play where their most consistent player from a year ago Mark Streit lit the lamp and was assisted by Kyle Okposo and Tavares to tie things at 1-1.  In the second Tavares got a PPG of his own, the first of his NHL career, staking New York to a 2-1 edge.  Then the Pens really turned up the heat in the third, out shooting the Isles 18-5 and after being down 3-2 knotted it up on a Ruslan Fedotenko goal.  After OT it was all Penguins in the shootout on goals from Kris Letang and Crosby.  Former Albany River Rat Michael Rupp picked up a five minute fighting major.  Pittsburgh will be sad not to play against either New York team until Thanksgiving (and I'm not talking about the Canadian one next Monday). 

From the Island of Long to the Island of Manhattan where the New York Rangers looked to rebound against the Ottawa Senators.  Rangers got on the board early in the second when my cousin Vinny Prospal who played for the Sens about a decade ago, put New York up one.  Then Brandon Dubie-Dubie-Doo (enjoy the bud light but uh beware of the penguins) Dubinsky netted one of his two tallies on the night for a 2-0 advantage.  Old reliable Daniel Alfredsson also responded in the second from Jason Spezza, cutting the lead in half.  Imagine if the Islanders had Spezza and Tavares on the same line?  Moving on Blueshirts rookie Michael Del Zotto who has impressed thus far, got that one back for the Garden faithful near the end of the period.  Marian Gaborik (imagine if this guy stays healthy) notched his second goal as a Ranger midway into the third.  From there it was pretty much a foregone conclusion as the Rangers rolled 5-2.  Former Albany River Rat Aaron Voros fought with the Sens Mike Fisher at the end of regulation.

Heading down the turnpike where if you didn't think the New Jersey Devils were a dynasty in demise yet, it may be going that way after getting smashed by the Philadelphia Flyers.  Jeff Carter and Mike Richards may be the most underrated tandem in the league.  The two who scored in a 2-0 blanking of the Hurricanes, helped build up a 4-0 mountain climb for the Devils and Marty Brodeur (where are you Scott Clemmensen?).  Former original Albany River Rat Brian Rolston broke the shutout in the third on the power play and was assisted by ex-Rat Nicklas Bergfors and by Dainius Zubrus who had two on the night.  Philly then struck back with Matt Carle who was assisted by Chris Pronger, Pronger's second assist on the night as well as the Flyers rolled 5-2.  By the way Anssi Salmela scored for Atlanta against Tampa Bay.  And Jaques Lemaire was brought in to shore up the defense?  Yikes!

Or maybe the Devils should have tried to hang onto Brian Gionta, as we shuffle off to Buffalo for the Sabres and Montreal Canadiens.  Tim Connolly (imagine Connolly, Spezza and Tavares on a line Islander fans) busted through for Buffalo in the first on the power play.  Then Travis Moen, buy it for looks buy it for life, bought himself and the Habs a shorty and a tie game midway through the second.  Buffalo out shot Montreal 11-1 in the third, but hey the Canadiens toppled the Leafs in OT after getting out shot that game too right?  And so it was to be, the Rochester Rocket back in Western New York for the 2-1 winner!  Gionta the former Albany River Rat was assisted by the other one third to make up the old New Jersey "EGG line," Scott Gomez.  How long is it until the final third Patrik Elias wants to join them?

Other Nightly Notables: Former Albany River Rat Brendan Morrison picked up his first goal and assist with the Washington Capitals while one time Adirondack Red Wing Mike Knuble netted his first as the Caps beat Toronto 6-4.  Former Rat defenseman Jeff Finger picked up an assist along the way for the Leafs.

In Boston where the Carolina Hurricanes were routed 7-2 by the Bruins, former Rats goalie Michael Leighton turned away 11 of 14 shots in "relief" of Cam Ward and speaking of Ward, Aaron the former Adirondack Red Wing defenseman and Boston Bruin himself registered an assist on Scott Walker's (irony much?) first goal of the season.  

Down in Dallas former Albany River Rats star Steve Sullivan scored his first goal of the year in the second to put Nashville out front 2-0.  The Predators went on to beat the Stars 3-2 after a 2-1 shootout victory.

AHL Notes: Big night for AHL action in the greater Capital District with the Albany River Rats and Adirondack Phantoms drawing a combined 11,918 on Saturday night.  Unfortunately both clubs lost, Albany dropping a 6-3 decision to Manchester and Adirondack in the last minute to Worcester and Clifton Park native Nick Petrecki 3-2.  The Rats valiantly tied things at three in the third (Drayson Bowman and Zach Boychuk impressed me the most on the night) but were only one of six on the power play and looked a couple of steps behind the Monarchs when it came to their defense and goaltending and they may want to recruit another enforcer.  Albany's new black alternate jerseys (poor Zack Fitzgerald got his torn up) reminded me of the Buffalo Sabres circa 1999, good stuff.  Hopefully Mike Angelidis is alright.

But hey hockey's back, gotta love that!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Banner Night For Pens, Not So Much The Original Six

Eurotrip was not kind to the original six, nor was Pittsburgh on Friday night. 

Starting in Finland where Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane proved why he belongs on the cover of NHL10 with a goal and an assist on the day.  Both the Blackhawks and Florida Panthers traded goals from the second period on.  Finland native Ville Koistinen who came over to the Panthers from the Nashville Predators to play on their blue line added a goal in the third, more on him in a bit.  After Patrick Sharp put the puck by Tomas Vokun who had 52 stops in the game, to give the Blackhawks the 3-2 edge the Panthers had an answer late from David Booth sending it to OT.  From there it was the homeland hero Koistinen netting the winner in the shootout past Cristobal Huet for a 2-1 shootout win and a 4-3 victory overall.

Next to Sweden and a clash between Central Division rivals the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues.  After falling behind early, the defending Western Conference champs roared back with three of their own from Jonathan Ericsson (assisted on by former Adirondack Red Wing Kris Draper), a shorty by Kirk Maltby, followed by a PPG from Ville Leino in the third taking a 3-1 lead on former Albany River Rats goalie Chris Mason.  Mason had 31 saves on the night.  But then it was welcome back to the National Hockey League Paul Kariya!  Kariya who missed the last penalty shot for Canada against Sweden in the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics had a much sweeter return this time around.  Kariya scored two of the Blues next three goals (the first of which came on the power play) in a five minute span including the eventual game winner.  Blues Jay McClement also had a big night scoring St. Louis' first goal an assisting on the tying tally and the winner.  Former Adirondack Red Wing goalie Chris Osgood had 19 saves in the 4-3 loss.

Back state side a couple of clubs whose AHL affiliates are only a mere 40 or so miles away in Albany and Glens Falls, the Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers in Raleigh.  For the Flyers it was the usual suspects with Jeff Carter who scored 46 a year ago and Mike Richards who ended up with 30 of his own pushed Philly past the Canes with two quick power play goals within the first minute of the second period.  Newly re-signed Cam Ward was solid, but welcome back to the NHL Ray Emery was better.  Emery the former Ottawa Senators netminder was on his game turning away all 28 shots he faced for the first shutout of the young season.  Flyers blank the Hurricanes 2-0.  Former Adirondack Red Wings defenseman Aaron Ward played over 21 minutes in his second stint back with the Canes, registering one shot on net.  Flyers backup keeper Brian "don't call me Bobby" Boucher was placed on the IR.

Finally to the new title town (minus the Pirates of course) the Pittsburgh Penguins taking on the New York Rangers.  Did anyone catch Mike Keenan on MSG during the intermissions?  Was that Rangers Cup really 15 years ago?  I digress as the man playing the modern day Jaromir Jagr to Sidney Crosby's Mario Lemieux got the Pens going.  Evgeni Malkin who had 35 of these last year, re-directed a shot from Sergei Gonchar on the power play to make the Igloo roar.  Then the heavyweights decided to lock horns as newly acquired Donald Brashear went up against former New York Islander Eric Godard.  Brashear got in a solid left to the jaw of Godard but Godard also gave Brashear a cut to the head, so pretty even scrap to say the least.  After that it was the Blueshirts captain Chris Drury who knotted things up at 1-1.  Then in the second Pens captain Sidney Crosby who scored 33 last year, was left in front to give Pittsburgh the edge.  Shortly after it was Tyler Kennedy netting the eventual winner.  New York did get an encouraging sign in the third as Marian Gaborik picked up the puck on a fanned shot and put in his first of the year, but the Rangers fell to the Penguins 3-2.  The Staal brothers Marc and Jordan each picked up an assist and former Albany River Rats Aaron Voros and Michael Rupp suited up for the Rangers and Penguins respectively.

Nightly Notables: The defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins are the only team thus far to out shoot their opponent and win on the young season.  

Friday, October 2, 2009

Capital Region Hockey: Where Are They Now

As we embark upon the 2009-10 hockey season I thought it would be interesting to see where players who have come through this area are still playing as of this year.  Throughout the season I will undoubtadely try with due diligence to update the happenings of players who were either born in this area or player their collegiate or professional hockey in the region.  With the Albany River Rats and now Adirondack Phantoms around, there should be a whole lot more making their way to the National Hockey League.

Nicklas Bergfors (New Jersey Devils): Bergfors has finally cracked the New Jersey roster after getting a cup of coffee last season scoring one goal in eight games.  Bergfors played 65 games for the Albany River Rats during the 2005-06 campaign totaling 17 goals that year.

Johnny Boychuk (Boston Bruins): Boychuk is another guy who has paid his dues in the minors scoring 20 goals on the blue line for the baby B's in Providence last season, good enough to win him the Eddie Shore award for best AHL defenseman.  Johnny played in all 80 games for the Albany River Rats in 2006-07 as an Avalanche prospect, where he netted ten goals that year and racked up a career high 125 penalty minutes.  Boychuk got up to Boston for one game last year, hopefully there will be many more to come this season and beyond.

Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh Penguins): No Bylsma doesn't play defense anymore but the former 1993-94 Albany River Rat coached the Pens to a Stanley Cup title last season.

David Clarkson (New Jersey Devils): One of the few bright spots in the dark days of the Rats under New Jersey's stewardship.  Clarkson a true blue collar hard nosed hockey player, skated for the Albany River Rats in 2005-06 scoring 13 goals adding 21 helpers and piling up a career high 233 penalty minutes.  Clarkson now in his fourth season with the Devils, after scoring a career high 17 goals last year will be asked to take on a much larger role this season with the departures of Brian Gionta and John Madden.

Scott Clemmensen (Florida Panthers): Clemmer who saved the Devils bacon last year filling in for Marty Brodeur, essentially resurrected his career posting 25 wins and an impressive 2.39 goals against average.  Those numbers obviously impressed the Florida Panthers enough to sign the former River Rat.  Clemmensen played parts of five season's in Albany from 2001-2006 where he won 35 games and picked up three shutouts.  Clemmer has 33 wins in the NHL between New Jersey and Toronto.

Mike Commodore (Columbus Blue Jackets): Commodore was a solid fixture on the Jackets blue line in what would turn out to be the franchise's first playoff apperance.  Commodore played 81 games and totaled 18 PIM in four playoff games last season.  From 2000-2002 Commodore played parts of two seasons for the Rats, compiling 90 PIM.  Commodore won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2005-06.

Tim Conboy (Carolina Hurricanes): After a scrap in Raleigh they play "we've got a great big Conboy."  Tim Conboy was an enforcer in his time down in Albany from 2006-2009 racking up 481 PIM.  On a team not known for its sizable players, Conboy has changed the complexion of the Hurricanes with 97 career PIM in 47 NHL games.

Kyle Cumiskey (Colorado Avalanche): Now a regular defenseman on a young Avs team, Cumiskey played in Albany during the 2006-07 season, scoring 33 points with 32 PIM.

Patrick Elias (New Jersey Devils): Elias one of the bigger stars to play in Albany had a rebound season last year with the Devils scoring 31 goals.  From 1995-1998 Elias amassed 54 goals, 79 assists and 161 PIM.  Elias has been a part of two Stanley Cup titles with 40 playoff goals and is just five shy of 300 in his career.

Jeff Finger (Toronto Maple Leafs): Finger has shown to be a steady defenseman in his three seasons with the Avalanche and Maple Leafs.  Finger played for Albany in 2006-07 with 13 points and 65 PIM in 44 games.

Brian Gionta (Montreal Canadiens): It sure is strange seeing the Rochester Rocket in a Canadiens uniform.  Gio has one Cup (2002-03) and one 48 goal season in the NHL.  During his time in Albany Gionta scored 14 goals in 52 games.

Ben Guite (Nashville Predators): Guite has been a useful role player in parts of the last three seasons in Colorado.  In his short stint in Albany, Guite netted ten goals in 36 games during the 2006-07 campaign.

Cam Janssen (St. Louis Blues): Janssen has developed a reputation as an absolute beast of a fighter in the NHL.  Just do a Youtube search of Janssen taking on Ryan Hollweg a few years back during an exhibition game or any other video and you'll see what I mean.  In 96 games with Albany from 2004-06 Janssen piled up 454 PIM including one season of 337.  Between his time with the Devils and Blues, Janssen has over 354 PIM in the NHL.

Andrew Ladd (Chicago Blackhawks): Granted Ladd only spent two games scoring one goal in Albany during the 2007-08 season.  But Ladd already has a Stanley Cup from his Carolina days and set a career high for goals with 15 last season in Chicago.

Mike Leighton (Carolina Hurricanes): Some of you casual observers may have heard of a little five OT game a couple of years back between the Albany River Rats and Philadelphia Phantoms.  You also may have heard about Mr. Leighton's exploits, where he notched an astounding 98 saves!  Leighton followed that up with a road shutout in Philly in game six of that series.  Leighton's legendary 2007-08 season in Albany saw Leighton win 28 games with a 2.10 GAA, 1,634 saves and seven shutouts.  Leighton is currently backing up Cam Ward in Carolina.

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (New Jersey Devils): LucLeblond played parts of the 2005-06 season with the old Adirondack Frostbite of the UHL and Albany River Rats in the AHL.  Between the two stops he developed a reputation as a bad boy with 295 PIM.  Now he'll take his act back to New Jersey.

John Madden (Chicago Blackhawks): Much like Brian Gionta it is strange to see Mad Dog in another jersey.  Madden was originally signed as a free agent out of Michigan because the Devils were scouting Brendan Morrison.  The former Selke Trophy winner was quite the scorer in Albany.  From 1997-99 Madden picked up 58 goals, 96 assists, good enough for 154 points in 149 games.  One season in Albany Madden netted 38 goals and 98 points.  On the Rats last playoff team to advance in 1997-98, Madden ended up with 16 points in 13 games.  Madden has two Cups and will look to put the Blackhawks over the top this year.

Cody McLeod (Colorado Avalanche): Cody skated in 73 games for the Rats during the 2006-07 season netting eleven goals while racking up 180 PIM.  McLeod set career highs for goals (15) and PIM (162) for the Avs last year.

Willie Mitchell (Vancouver Canucks): Willie is one of the toughest customers in the NHL on the blue line.  Mitchell suited up for Albany from 1998-2001 where he garnered 194 PIM.  In 12 NHL seasons Mitchell has 108 points and 573 PIM.

Jay Pandolfo (New Jersey Devils): The BU product, Pandolfo is now in season number 13 with New Jersey.  Pandolfo has remained a gritty role player for the Devils and a part of two Stanley Cup championships.  Pandolfo is five goals away from 100 on his NHL career.  Jay played 68 games in Albany from 1995-98 with one 18 goal season.

Zach Parise (New Jersey Devils): Fans in Albany were not disappointed during the lockout season of 2004-05 when Parise shined, scoring 18 goals with 40 assists in 73 games.  Parise continues his evolution as an elite NHLer, posting three straight 30 plus goal campaigns.  Last season Parise set career highs in goals with 45 assists with 49 and points with 94.

Ilkka Pikkarainen (New Jerey Devils): Pikkarainen is back in the states after three years in Finland and has finally cracked the Devils lineup.  From 2003-06 Ilkka 29 goals and 305 PIM in Albany.

Joel Rechlicz (New York Islanders): Rechlicz the Isles enforcer picked up 106 PIM in 25 games for the River Rats in 2007-08.

Brad Richardson (Los Angeles Kings): Richardson played three games for the Rats in 2006-07.

Brian Rolston (New Jersey Devils): Another one of the most successful Albany River Rats.  Rolston an original has a Stanley Cup to his name.  Additionally Rolston has four 30 goal seasons and 301 tallies in his NHL career.  Rolston had 30 points in 35 games for Albany from 1993-95.

Michael Rupp (Pittsburgh Penguins): Rupp is best known for being a grinder who scored the Stanley Cup game seven game winner in 2003 for the Devils against the Ducks.  Rupp joins the defending champion Penguins this season and was one of the few who really hustled during the dark days in Albany from 2000-03.

Michael Ryan (Carolina Hurricanes): Ryan was the lone AHL All-Star for the Rats last season and totaled 25 goals in 40 games.

Sheldon Souray (Edmonton Oilers): Souray is one of the best scoring defenseman in the NHL.  Including that hard shot from the point, Souray has been known to mix it up as well.  Sheldon scored 23 goals last year for the Oilers.  Souray who played in Albany from 1994-98 is only eight away from 100 career goals and 45 penalty minutes away from 1,000.

Chris Stewart (Colorado Avalanche): Stewart played five games for the Rats in 2006-07 and scored a career high eleven goals for the Avs last season.

Steve Sullivan (Nashville Predators): Sully, one of the most popular and succesful Rats was a huge part of their Calder Cup run in 1994-95.  Sullivan twice had 30 goal seasons in Albany and has as many in the NHL.  After missing half of last season to back surgery hopefully Sullivan will be back to the form that has enabled him to score 239 goals on his career.

Petr Sykora (Minnesota Wild): Sykora had 55 points in 50 games in Albany from 1995-98, including one 20 goal season.  Sykora will be playing his first season in Minnesota after playing for the Cup champion Pens last year.  Sykora also won a Cup with the Devils.  Sykora has registered 300 goals and 32 playoff goals in 15 NHL seasons.

Aaron Voros (New York Rangers): Voros is an enforcer of sorts with the Blueshirts racking up 122 PIM last year.  In 153 games from 2003-06 in Albany, Voros scored 29 goals and compiled 414 penalty minutes.  Voros has 263 PIM in his NHL career.

Colin White (New Jersey Devils): Whitey, the modern day Ken Daneyko is now in his tenth NHL season with the Devils.  Colin has over 754 penalty minutes in the regular season and 117 in the playoffs.  White has two Cups to his name as well.  From 1997-00 White amassed over 676 penalty minutes with the Rats.

Travis Zajac (New Jersey Devils): Zajac only played in two games for Albany in 2005-06 but has blossomed with the Devils playing in 244 out of a possible 246 games the last three years.  Last year was Zajac's first 20 goal campaign.

Mathieu Dandenault (San Jose Sharks): Dandenault played four games for the Adirondack Red Wings in 1995-96.  Dandenault, a role player was a part of three Cup winners in Detroit.  Dandenault and his 203 career points will suit up for the Sharks this season.

Kris Draper (Detroit Red Wings): Draper who was sold from the Winnipeg Jets to the Detroit Red Wings for a dollar, has had a solid NHL career.  Back in 1993-94 Draper scored 20 goals and had 23 assists in 46 games with the A-Wings.  Draper has over 331 points with Detroit and over 750 PIM to go with his four Stanley Cup rings, Detroit has gotten its bang for its buck with Kris.

Shane Hnidy (Minnesota Wild): One of the last Adirondack Red Wings from their final season in Glens Falls.  Hnidy has been a servicable NHL grinder with over 565 PIM.  In Adirondack during the 1998-99 season Hnidy had 121 PIM in 68 games.

Tomas Holmstrom (Detroit Red Wings): Holmstrom didn't play very long in Glens Falls, scoring three goals in just six games during the 1996-97 campaign.  But he has been one of the most successful and is just eleven goals away from 200 on his career.  Holmstrom, like Draper has also been a part of four Cup winners in Detroit, scoring 38 playoff goals.

Mike Knuble (Washington Capitals): Knuble was part of a pair of Cup winners in Detroit and brings that experience to Washington.  Knuble has twice captured 30 goal seasons and has six 20 plus goal seasons to boot.  Knuble has scored over 215 goals in his career and played with Adirondack from 1994-97.  In his time with the A-Wings, Knuble notched two 20 plus goal seasons with 50 overall and 108 points in 148 games.

Vyacheslav Kozlov (Atlanta Thrashers): Kozlov has had an impressive NHL career.  Kozlov has 348 goals and two Stanley Cups to his name along with 42 playoff goals.  Kozlov a two time 30 goal scorer and eleven time 20 goal scorer was a member of the Adirondack Red Wings from 1992-94.  In that time Kozlov scored 23 goals in 48 games.

Pavel Kubina (Atlanta Thrashers): Kubina played for Adirondack in 1997-98 where he totaled 86 PIM in 55 games.  The steady scoring defenseman has 97 goals and 921 PIM in the NHL.

Daymond Langkow (Calgary Flames): Langkow played only two games for Adirondack in 1996-97 and has scored over 245 goals in his NHL career.

Chris Osgood (Detroit Red Wings): Perhaps one of the more underrated goalies of his era, overshadowed by Detroit's annual firepower.  Osgood has been a part of three Stanley Cups in Detroit and is just eleven wins shy of 300 with a career GAA of 2.47.  Osgood has six seasons of 30 plus wins and one of those came with the New York Islanders where he picked up 32 which should tell you something.  Osgood starred for Adirondack from 1992-95 winning 23 games during that span.

Aaron Ward (Carolina Hurricanes): Ward has had a steady NHL career as a defenseman, just five shy from 100 assists, Ward also has 674 PIM.  Ward who has three Cups, played with Adirondack from 1993-96 compiling 66 points, 307 PIM in 208 games.

From A.O. To Gio In Toronto To Colorado And Everything In Between

Even with that Stanley Cup you're never going to convince me that Sidney Crosby is better than Alexander Ovechkin.  You'd be hard pressed to find anyone better period and that proved to be true Thursday night in Beantown.  Brooks Laich got the scoring started for the Caps and along with Ovechkin had two goals of his own in the 4-1 win.  Of course defending Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas of the B's didn't get much help as on one goal A.O. waltzed around the 6'3 Milan Lucic for a quick tally.  The Caps who went 3-0-1 against the B's last season look primed to contend again, as does an Ovechkin 3-peat for the Hart Trophy.

Meanwhile in another original six city it was a back and forth barn burner for the Leafs and Habs in Toronto.  As someone who watched Brian Gionta come up with the Albany River Rats who were then the New Jersey Devils AHL farm club, I still can't get used to seeing him in a Habs sweater.  But Gio the Rochester Rocket set the tone early with a PPG.  I'm still trying to fathom how the L.A. Kings let go of Mike Cammalleri, who might be one of the best playmaker/setup guys this side of Marc Savard.  Matt Stajan picked up a pair of goals for the Leafs who pelted Habs netminder Carey Price.  Price turned away 43 of 46 shots on the evening and Montreal won late in OT 4-3 on a Josh Gorges score, assisted on by Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec who also got the helpers on Montreal's first goal by Gionta.

In Colorado where they raised Joe Sakic's # 19 to the rafters, it would also be a special night for Avs coach Joe Sacco.  Sacco was an assistant coach for the Albany River Rats under Tom Rowe during the 2006-07 campaign when the Rats were the dual affiliate of the Avs and Canes.  One of those former Rats Cody McLeod helped his coach to that first NHL victory by netting the third goal which turned out to be the game winner in a 5-2 triumph over the San Jose Sharks.  Former Rat Chris Stewart also assisted on McLeod's goal and Kyle Cumiskey who also starred in Albany saw 12:13 of ice time on the blue line registering a minus one on the night.  Patrick Marleau found the back of the net twice for the Sharks, as did the Avs Wojtek Wolski.  But in the end it was the Avs holding their ground despite getting outshot in the third period 19-1.

Finally to Calgary where the Flames snapped a league long streak of losing (7) season openers.  The Flames jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first, Mark Giordano ended up with a goal and an assist.  However the Canucks rallied late in the second down 4-1 as former Detroit Red Wings forward Mikael Samuelsson netted a PPG to cut the deficit in half.  Vancouver carried over that momentum over to the third with a quick tally by Alex Burrows from former Albany River Rats defenseman Willie Mitchell, bringing the Canucks within one.  But Dion Phaneuf hit the empty net off a pass from Jarome Iginla and Calgary held on for the 5-3 win.

Nightly notable: Every team that outshot their opponent Thursday night ended up losing.

Get ready for the rest of the league to fire it up boys and girls.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Game On!

Welcome to Crash The Crease, the hockey blog that says go hard or go home.

Tonight of course begins the 2009-10 NHL season. What's on tap for when the puck finally drops for opening night:

A.O. leads the Washington Capitals (and my Yahoo! fantasy hockey team) into Boston where the Bruins will try to rebound after a heart breaking game seven loss at the new Garden against the Carolina Hurricanes last year. This game can be seen on Versus.

A big double-header up Nord for Hockey Night In Canada. Two original six rivals square off when the Montreal Canadiens pay a visit to the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Following that a couple of Western Conference playoff teams from a year ago will lace it up as the Vancouver Canucks meet the Calgary Flames. These games will be telecast on CBC.

Rounding out tonight's action the San Jose Sharks swim into Colorado where the Avalanche will retire Joe Sakic's number 19. This will be the first year since the 1987-88 season that the franchise formerly known as the Quebec Nordiques will take to the ice without the presence of Sakic. The game can also be seen on Versus.

In other notes, speaking of former Nordiques, Mats Sundin has called it quits. And speaking of other hall of fame players, Brendan Shanahan and the Devils have decided to part ways.

Enjoy opening night folks!