Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I had said I'd like to keep Antropov - but not at any price. On July 1 his UFA status means he's free to talk to every team - so we are likely on the verge of losing him.
We'll keep following these stories and let you know as soon as we hear anything new. Stay tuned.....
Monday, June 29, 2009
It's hard to negotiate player salary if you don't know how much money you have to spend.
But late last week - along with the draft - the NHL teams sat down and agreed on a cap number. That number is $56.8 million, up a little from last year's $56.7. This gives the Rangers an extra $100,000 to go hunt out some big free agent talent - not a promising war chest.
So where does this leave us?
Well, we know that the already-signed players - including 6.5 million for Redden, 5 million for Rozsival, and 7.3 for Gomez (it's hard to write that). If we just re-sign all our current free agents at last year's salaries (which we can't do), we'd have about $2 million left over (which we won't).
Which means of course, that we'll have to give up some current players if we want to go after anyone new. And can we dump some salary in the process?
In other words - it may be off season for us and the players - but for Glen Sather and associates, this is as busy as it gets. Good luck, Slats.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Here's a collection of positive quotes from a thrilled Gordie Clark, Director of NY Ranger Player Personnel about the 19th overall draft selection:
- “This is an elite, elite athlete. He’s elite physically and mentally. He’s ripped. He blew right through the [player evaluation] combine in Toronto.’’
- “He has [Alexander ] Mogilny-type speed. He’s almost what you’d call a rover out there, he’s so fast. From point A to B, he’s the quickest guy in the draft.
- "He's the fastest kid in the draft, flat-out. He dominates with speed,"
- "He can shoot a puck at full speed, and from the top of the circles, which is, that's a sniper range. He gets a lot of breakaways because he's so bloody fast."
Quickness is a key factor in the NHL - it's different than speed (although Kreider has both) - and it's something you can't coach. Quickness in the NHL translates into puck possession - both in keeping the puck when you have it and capturing it from the other team when you don't.
So forgive us for being optimistic about the big, fast, young, quick American forward with the sneaky fast shot. When a player is picked he's all upside and all potential - so what's not to like.
When asked, Chris said he thinks of himself as a speedy Left Winger who crashes the net and creates opportunities.
Our Rangers seem to have handled this part of the draft very well. They never tipped their hand about Kreider to anyone - so no other team scooped him up first. In fact - they never contacted Chris at all so that he wouldn't be able to mention the Ranger's interest to anyone. In fact Chis thought the Rangers weren't interested and was surprised and thrilled when his name was called.
So well done Slats - and welcome Chris Kreider to the Blueshirt Brotherhood.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
- Plays Center and Left Wing
- Weighs 201
- Scored 56 points in 26 games last year
He's a high schooler with plenty of upside. He's known for real quickness (which is different from speed) and the ability to create turnovers.
We're very happy with the pick over here at Blueshirt Brothers. Nugman's one negative is that Kreider is reportedly a Red Sox fan.
- Our 2nd pick was Ethen Werek, a 6-1 forward who scored 32 goals (that's goals, not points) last season.
- And our 3rd pick - the 80th overall was Ryan Bourque
- At 127 we took the Czech player: Roman Horak, a 6'0" 198 pound center.
- At 140 we took a goalie: Scott Stajcer
More to come....
Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The Rangers have the 19th overall pick. Followed by the 47th, 80th, 127th, 140th, 151st, 170th, and 200th. That's no fourth rounders and a couple of 5th rounders.
After the draft - next Monday a kind of rookie camp opens - the development center - which will feature our new draft picks and other top Ranger prospects.
Most of the draft choices end up in the minor leagues - so the NHL draft - like Baseball's draft is less of an immediate deal than the NFL's is. In other words - no one we select tomorrow is like to be much help next year. Still, you never know - and some day many these picks will be playing for the New York Rangers - so it's always worth a look.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Leetch played 17 amazing years for the New York Rangers and may have been the best all-around defenseman ever to wear the Blue Jersey. In addition to his defensive skills, Leetch was a big asset to team on offense as well. He is a first-ballot all time Ranger defenseman on the Blueshirt Brothers all time list.
Brian was part of the legendary 1994 squad that brought the Stanley Cup back to MSG. And as we remember - it was Leetch - not Mark Messier or Adam Graves or Mike Richter - who won the 1994 Conn Smythe trophy as the most valuable player in the 94 playoffs. And once again - to this day - Brian is the only United States born player to ever earn that award.
Joining Brian in this years selections to the NHL Hall of Fame are Brett Hull, Steve Yezerman, and Luc Robitaille. As you hopefully remember, Luc wore Ranger blue for two seasons (95-96 and 96-97) and holds the all time record for goals by a left winger: with 668.
It's a great day for the Rangers - with one exception - Mike Richter - the Ranger goalie who won us the cup - was passed over for the Hall of Fame for the 2nd straight year. We're still pulling for you Mike.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Anyway, the Glen Sather Brain Trust (or maybe we should just say the Glen Sather Trust) will be looking at potential draft choices and trying make picks to help their hockey club.
Of course - this is the same player evaluation team that thought it would be a good idea to lock up Wade Redden for a few years at 6.5 million per.
The Rangers - a playoff team – are slotted at 19th and so they will have to wait a while before making their first section. What we need of course is what everybody needs - a big goal scorer who changes the game each time he touches the puck.
The top goal scoring picks are supposed to be Brian Glennie and Zack Kassian – and are also supposed to be long gone when it’s our turn so forget about them. When it finally is our turn, I’m betting we snag either:
Carter Ashton – a 6’3” 205 pound left winger who went 30-20-50 in a 70 game season
Or, since the Rangers have a history of picking USA players when they can:
Center Jeremy Morin, a NY native in the US Development program who is supposed to have a goal scoring touch. Or,
Chris Kreider, a 6’2” 202 pound left winger from Massachusetts- the powerhouse skater who in 26 games went 33-23-56. Or,
Kyle Palmeri, 5’10” 191 pound Center from New Jersey who went 15-15-30 for the US Development Program.
Of course, like the NFL, teams can trade up, trade down, or do nothing. I'm no draft expert - but my bet is that Slats will take that third option.
I hope I'm wrong.
And in any event – none of these players are likely to help us next year, but maybe someday…
Monday, June 22, 2009
Games Played: 81
Goals (22) + Assists (34 ) = 56 Points
Plus Minus: (-8)
Penalties in Minutes: 32
Goals-per-Shot = 22/219 = 10.0%
Games Played: 6
Goals (1) + Assists (0) = 1 Points
Plus Minus: (-5)
Penalties in Minutes: 2
Goals-per-Shot = 1/5 = 20%
But reluctantly - if the Rangers could trade their captain to get a legitimate strike-fear-into-their opponents top-line goal scorer - I'd have to say yes. Of course - the Rangers gave Drury a no-trade clause in his contract - so in all likelihood we'll have Chris around for a long time.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
"I'm not the total monster everyone thinks I am."
Another telling moment from our man Sean. He didn't say it to the audience - he spoke over applause to say it to Fallon. He still does see himself as misunderstood and set upon - not the cause of all of his own troubles. And I think Fallon blew it here by not following up. It's a very strong provocative statement by Avery and Jimmy Fallon just fanned on it.
Later, Avery alluded to the anger management help he's gotten, saying:
"Pre coming back to New York I had a little bit of a short fuse and I worked on some things."
And again Fallon blew it - going too quickly to the joke and not helping the audience understand what Sean was talking about. Avery in an anger management class would be an interesting thing to know about - but Jimmy F. let that puck get by also.
I did like when Sean called the Rangers "home".
But overall it was strange, disjointed interview. A missed opportunity for us to learn more about one of our favorite Rangers.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Anyway - Sean's appearance was mighty odd and very interesting. In fact - let me just talk about the first five seconds:
Just coming out from behind the curtain - at the moment Fallon is expecting to shake hands - Sean fakes a punch at Jimmy, making him flinch. What a way to start. I think someone like Sean would see someone like Fallon as weak - like not a classic tough guy male. And Sean would want to establish dominance right away and throw Jimmy off - which is exactly what he did. So Avery approached the interview as combat and began by psyching Jimmy out.
It's a lot like the way Sean plays hockey - as a mind game - trying to get an advantage. It also shows something of Avery's view of the world:
Sean almost lost his hockey career over a remark he made to the media - putting two words together ("sloppy" and "seconds") that are harmless on their own - but together are now considered something of an anti-female slur. In Sean's head it was a joke to make fun of an opposing hockey player and a ex-girlfriend - but it started a chain of events that got him suspended - off the Dallas Stars and eventually back to our NY Rangers (bringing so much joy to Pucks and Nugs that we started up this blog)
Anyway - given Avery's history with the media, an interview show where he could be asked any question could be stressful and a risk for Sean. So his reaction - when feeling threatened and out of his comfort zone - in Fallon's territory - was to fake a punch - intimidate Fallon and establish Sean as the top dog in the room.
Strange way to start - but 100 percent Sean Avery - revealing the exact kind of aggressive, combative, instinctive behavior that always seems to get Sean in trouble.
All in all - a very revealing five seconds of Sean's life.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
Thursday, June 18, 2009
+1 point for picking the correct winner
+1 extra point for picking the correct number of games with the winner
+1 point for coming closer to the right pick than the other guy.
Okay - so through the first round - dead even. 3 points each.
In the 2nd round - 6 points each. Still tied.
And then - in the 3rd round - I (Dave Pucks) jumped out to a big one point lead. And for the finals I had - Red Wings in 6. Nugman had the Penguins in 6.
When Detroit won the first 2 games I felt pretty good. When they won game 5 I still felt good. Going into game seven I was still feeling okay.
But, of course, the Penguins won. And with that victory - Nugman gets one point for picking the winner and another point for coming closer than I did in the number of games. And that catapults Nugs from one point behind - to a one point victory.
So Nugman takes the first annual Blueshirt Brothers Playoff Picks Championship. And while Crosby hoists the Stanley Cup, Nugs can raise his Scooby Doo plastic mug for a job well done.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Height: 6' 3"
Goals (6) + Assists (4) = 10 Points
6 Goals/ 83 Shots (on goal) = 7.2%
Goals (0) + Assists (0) = 0 Points
0 Goals/ 1 Shots (on goal) = 0.0%
Current Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
10 Points is not impressive for a center. But, it's not Blair's goals or his assists that make him stand out. Betts excels on the Penalty Kill.
It's a thankless job. Because when you do it perfectly - absolutely nothing happens. And when you do make a mistake - a very loud buzzer goes off - your goalie hangs his head - and an arena full of people start booing.
(Imagine if your job was like that. What if your office cubicle was in the middle of Madison Square Garden and you had to work 9 to 5 in those conditions. Report overdue? BUZZ! BOO!)
And the Penalty Kill unit is hell on your plus-minus. No matter how good you are - you're going to get outscored when you're a man down.
The only box score stat where the penalty kill shows up is the opponent’s power play goal average. And the Rangers had the best in hockey last season. It’s the one statistical area the team was a standout.
Of course, as Nugman said - the PK special teams can't be a team strength - you can't root for your own team to get penalized - but it sure did help us win a lot of hockey games.
And this is what Blair Betts brings to the Rangers - league leading penalty kill ability. And when the Caps headhunter - the thug Brashear went looking for a Ranger target - who did he pick? Not Zherdev. Not Drury. Not Gomez. It was Blair Betts that Brashear went after - fracturing his orbital bone and ending his season (and the Ranger's season along with it).
And it didn't take long for Blair Betts' absence to be felt. A few minutes later the Rangers PK unit - now minus Betts - failed and the Caps converted a power play - and the tide turned - for the game and the series. To put this another way - The Rangers were up 3-2 in the series when Betts was injured - so he is the only Ranger with a winning playoff record this past season.
Not long ago I was able to ask a certain reporter - who sees the Rangers on a daily basis - if Slats and Torts "get it" about how valuable Betts is. I was assured that the Rangers do get it about Betts - which is good news.
Now we just have to re-sign him - he's an unrestricted free agent - so we should get this done as soon as possible. Because Betts is the best role player - and best special teams player on the Rangers. I'm assuming they'll have to bump him up from his current $615,000 - but we're still talking bargain prices compared to the value per dollar of some other players on the roster.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Why do I feel this way? I know Sid is only 21 - not the most mature age. But I hate the way the guy handles himself. Sid had an underachieving Stanley Cup finals - and was saved by the play of those around him - Malkin and Fleury to name two - and many others. So if I were Sid I wouldn't be presenting myself as the savior of the Pittsburgh Penguins. And I wouldn't be treating the Stanley Cup as some kind of personal vindication of my own greatness.
And according to several members of the Detroit Red Wings - Sidney's bad behavior as an insufferable ego-centric Stanley Cup Winner began in the first three minutes of his winning the cup.
A little background: Since the dawn of time - when the first puck was fashioned from whale bone, died black with squid ink, and dropped on the first frozen pond, the NHL has been shaking hands at the end of each playoff round.
It is one of the classiest moments in all of sports - the teams take a moment to respect and acknowledge one another - the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat - respect and tradition at center ice.
So after the wild finish - when the Penguins held a slim 2-1 lead and time expired - the Red Wings hung around - formed a line - and shook hands with most of the Champion Penguins.
But where was Sid? He did a bunch of live interviews - basking in the glow of his no goal - no assist contribution to the 2-1 victory as the Red Wings waiting for him - slowly getting angrier and angrier. Finally, Red Wings Captain Nick Lindstrom had enough. He, and several other Red Wings, feeling snubbed, left the ice and headed to the dressing room. As teammate Kris Draper told the Associated Press:
"Nick was waiting and waiting and Crosby didn't come over to shake his hand. That's ridiculous, especially as their captain, and make sure you write that I said that!"
And when reporters later asked Sidney about it, he had a few comments about it - none of which were in any way apologetic.
"I really don't need to talk to anyone from Detroit about it. I made the attempt to go shake hands.... I just won the Stanley Cup, and I think I have the right to celebrate with my teammates."
But of course all of Crosby’s teammates found the time to shake the hands of the Red Wings. And to be fair, Crosby, after the interviews were all completed did skate over looking for any Red Wings who had waited around for him. And he found several, including Osgood and the Red Wing Coach.
To my knowledge nothing like this has ever happened before - because usually the winning team has the grace to have the cameras wait a few minutes while they show some sportsmanship and sense of tradition and respect to the losing side. And most of the Penguins did show the proper amount of class.
Everyone except Sid.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Of course, back in 71 they must have been saying the road team has no chance - and look what happened there.
And if Fleury has yet another bad start in Detroit tonight - how about benching him and seeing if Scuderi will strap on the pads? Just asking.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Homefield advantage in the playoffs in NHL and MLB is incredibly overrated. (It would be in the NBA also but actually, home teams are almost automatic in the NBA because the away team is usually checking out all the new strip clubs and local drug dealers the night before) But in the NHL and MLB, homefield/ice advantage means absolutely nothing....except in a Game 7. Game 7's in both sports have traditionally been a near lock for the home team. That's why in both sports, the emphasis has always been on the regular season record. Getting that best record so you can host Game 7 in your building and finish off a thrilling championship run. So what can we expect for this game 7? Is it a lock for Detroit? Will home teams go 7-0 in this series?
The case for the Penguins winning Game 7:
- ALL the pressure is on Detroit. They are the favorite, they are the defending champs, they are the home team, and they already lost a potential clinching game in game 6
- Where is Sidney Crosby? Has he really shown up in these finals? (I am not 100% sure since I have avoided watching most of it because I simply don't care) The penguins star is due isn't he, for one BIG game, is Detroit really going to escape 7 games with out Sid the Kid throwing up a 4 point game?
- Where is Hossa? The leading scorer for Detroit in the regular season has been a complete non-factor in the finals as well. If he stays off the scorers sheet, penguins have a shot.
- 3 of 4. As in the penguins have won 3 of the last 4 games (granted all 3 were at home), and they know they very well could have won either of the first two game in Detroit that the league gift wrapped for them, had they not gotten horrible goaltending. Fluery shows up in either game, and this series is over with Penguins hoisting the cup. He gets a shot at redemption in Game 7.
- They were in the same situation when they went to Washington for Game 7, and blew the capitals out of the building. Past success is always nice to draw from.
The Case for Detroit winning game 7:
- While all the pressure in the world is on them...they probably don't know it. This is a very veteran team, and they are the defending champs that were already taken to the brink once this postseason by the Ducks, pressure should have little if any effect on them.
- Most playoff games, especially Game 7's, come down to goaltending. Fluery is more talented, But Osgood is a multiple time Cup Champion with more experience in big games then pretty much all the goalies in the east combined (excluding brodeur). Fleury has also been TERRIBLE in all 3 games in Detroit, maybe he is due? But you rarely see a guy go from terrible to brilliant in one game
- 2 days of rest. The league really gift wrapped a game for the penguins in the first two having them play back to back, that should have been a huge edge for the penguins and their younger legs, but they didn't take advantage. The same can be said for Games 6 and 7 for Detroit, getting 2 days off before each game, should give the older legs on Detroit a much needed break and have Detroit at their best...but it didn't work out in game 6.
- They are the best team.....that's always helpful.
You could come up with a handful of reasons why each team should have won the cup already, but it is irrelevant, it comes down to one game for all the marbles. Nothing like a Game 7, I might even watch some.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
With 13 seconds to go, clinging to a one goal lead, the Red Wings were crashing the net - whacking away at a loose puck just inches away from the goal line.
There was, if you'll forgive the pun, a flurry of activity in the Penguin crease. But Fleury himself, the Pittsburgh netminder, was caught out of position to the side of his net - flopped on the ice and trying to reach back across with his stick.
The Stanley Cup was in the building. The Red Wings, who beat these Penguins in game six to win the cup one year ago, were throwing everything they had at the net to try and force an overtime that could lead to them hoisting the cup that very day.
The Penguins needed a hero. More to the point - with Fleury out of position, they needed a goalie.
And so into the fray skated - or more accurately, flopped - Penguin defenseman Rob Scuderi.
The first shot came from point blank range. Kick save - Scuderi - with the left skate! The second shot - stick save Scuderi. And then a third shot - and again - like a scud missile Scuderi's left foot found the puck again - stopping it inches from the goal.
Now Fleury scrambled back into the crease - as several Red Wings came crashing in as well. There was a big pile up. Whistles blew. The Refs jumped in to untangle the mess and found the puck - still outside the goal line. A face off and a few seconds later it was over. The 'Guins had lived to skate another day. Another three days, actually, because on Friday night in Motor City - the Stanley Cup will be on hand once again. And this time it is not going back in the crate. This time, one team will get their hands on it.
So we go to game seven, thanks to Rob Scuderi who, on a night where Crosby and Malkin we're shut out - emerged as an unlikely hero for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The 2008-2009 National Hockey League season could end tonight. The Penguins return home to Pittsburgh for the last time this year for Crosby's Last Stand. They have one mission.
Monday, June 8, 2009
It's more than football - where the fans can make it hard for the opposing team to hear themselves call plays in the huddle. It's more than the last ups in baseball. In hockey at every play stoppage the home coach can look at the opposing line up and pick the guys he thinks will do the best against them. In the Stanley Cup finals, the Penguins are playing the Red Wings, not the Rangers, but the idea is the same. At home the 'Guins can match up Crosby and Malkin against whichever defenders they choose. In Detroit the Red Wings get to put their best guys on the Penguin offensive stars whenever they want to.
(2) The Penguins may look dead now - but they've looked dead before - just last week actually - and proved us wrong.
Of course I picked the Red Wings in six - which is looking very smart right now. But you can't ignore that five game winning streak - for the home team. We'll see how that streak fares on Tuesday.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
The director wants a fight scene. The movie star wants to fight a lion, but there are no lions in the North Pole.
Movie Star: Listen, I gotta fight the lion. That's what that guy Scott's all about. I know. I've studied him already.
Movie Director: But why couldn't you fight a penguin?
Movie Star: Fight a rotten penguin?
Movie Director: It needn't be a little penguin. It can be the biggest penguin you've ever seen. An electric penguin, twenty feet high, with long green tentacles that sting people.
And that, more or less, is what's happened in the Stanley Cup finals. The defending champ Red Wings had jumped to a 2-0 series lead and we gave up on Pittsburgh. We almost felt sorry for them.
But last night the Penguins struck back with a powerful 4-2 win. Now they have tied the series at 2 games each, made sure the series will last at least until next Wednesday, and brought themselves back, once again, from the brink. They have suddenly become the 20 foot Penguin with stinging electric tentacles. And now Detroit, having lost General Motors to bankruptcy, may be losing the cup as well.
Malkin, adding to the best scoring postseason by anyone since The Great One in 1993 had a goal and an assist. Sidney showed up with a G & A of his own. The Penguins scored 3 second-period goals in less than 6 minutes – including a shorthander by Jordan Staal in a back-to-back Red Wing powerplay - to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 win.
All this makes Nugman's pick of the 'Guins in six look smarter every day. And the Redwings have to think back to last Sunday to remember the last time they won a playoff game.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
But they have to do it all over again tonight. If the Red Wings can take game four in Pittsburgh, the series could be all over by Saturday night in Detroit.
If you like the Penguins (and shame on you if you do) and you're looking for reasons to believe they have a chance, think of this: in last year's finals Evgeni Malkin was 21 years old, just one year past his rookie season, and had the flu during the finals. This year Evgeni has 3 years of NHL experience and is peaking with a league-leading 33 playoff points - the most ever for a Russian born player.
And speaking of Malkin, it was good to see the New York Times picking up on our theme from Tuesday and writing an article (by Jeff Z. Klein) all about how Evgeni is the real star in Pittsburgh - even though Crosby gets all the attention. Thanks Jeff - we like reading your paper too.
You know, it's got to be a tough gig writing for the "paper of record". That is, it's sort of like writing for the New York Post - but you gotta throw in a pile of those 20 dollar words.
Like if the Post wrote:
"Russian reporters have said Malkin's confidence is up"
The Times would translate that to (actual quote from the article):
"Russian journalists ... have also noted Malkin's increased confidence"
Or if the Post said:
"Malkin's been slammed for disappearing in games"
In the NY Times you have to write (another actual quote):
"He endured criticism for disappearing, the worst of all characterizations in hockey"
(And by the way - "disappearing" the worst of all characterizations? How about taking dives and whining to the refs when you don't get a bogus call like Sid "the crybaby" Crosby does whenever an opponent so much as looks at him the wrong way? Wouldn't that be a worse "characterization"?)
See - all you need is a thesaurus and a dictionary and you're all set. And if you'll permit me to close this entry with a few NY Times-ish 20 dollar words of my own:
"While this journalist would chose to not directly associate Mr. Klein's most recent essay as a technical or legal equivalent to an act of intentional plagiarism, I do feel, given the current circumstances that it is entirely appropriate to draw attention to the thematic similarities between the Times Thursday article and our own Tuesday submission."
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
But this is the Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins we're talking about - the NHL's favorite franchise. And this is the swallow-the-whistle Stanley Cup Finals where the referees don't like to call penalties because they interrupt the flow of a game they are trying to showcase. Either that or the refs felt the "Men" part of "Too Many Men On The Ice" didn't apply to the Penguin species.
Speaking of Sid "crybaby" Crosby - the Redwings had been matching the winger Henrick Zetterberg against him all night. The results of that matchup through 2 periods was something of a stunner:
Henrick Zetterberg: 1 goal, 1 assist.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I mean, it doesn't matter how much he scores - how many assists he provides - how essential he is to the Penguin's success - the other guy's star shines brighter. It's always Sidney Crosby and the Penguins (name above the title - like "Clint Eastwood stars in Dirty Harry").
Now, I think Malkin is the difference maker on the Penguins. It's him, not Crosby, that makes them go - but he never gets any of the credit - because the NHL is trying to build Sid into the league-saving superstar.
And speaking of a raw deal - how about that first name thing? Evgeni Malkin? Evgeni? I mean, do we call him Ev? Or Geni? It's a bad deal all around. And speaking of bad first names, remember that former Ranger from back in the 1970s, Carol Vadenais? Imagine taking the ice every night with a name like Carol? And there's worse than that....
[Editor - I have removed 2ooo words of Dave Puck's ranting on bad first names for the good of the blog - picking up the thread below when he resumes writing about hockey...]
...anyway, my point (and I do have one) is that usually, Malkin gets a raw deal in Pittsburgh and the NHL. But not in game 2. Two big things happened in his favor the other night.
First - he got credited for a playoff goal without touching the puck. It happened on a PPPP - that is, a Pittsburgh Penguin Power Play. Red Wing defenseman Brad Stuart did something the Penguins were unable to do all night - score on Osgood. That's right, Stuart accidentally knocked the puck past his own team's goaltender, giving the Penguins their lone score of the evening. The refs decided to award the goal to Malkin - because he was the closest Penguin to the puck at the time (I was leaning close to my TV - but no one noticed me). And of course, when Malkin negotiates his next contract it will just look like a legit playoff goal on his stat sheet.
And then, with 19 seconds left in the game Malkin started a fight with Pittsburgh's Henrik Zetterberg. But there's a problem with that fight: under NHL rules (and yes, they do have some) a player who gets an "instigator" penalty in the last five minutes of a game can be suspended for the next game. The 'Guins are in enough trouble down 2-0, if they lost Malkin for game 3 they would be finished.
But Malkin got his second lucky bounce of the night. NHL director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell weighed the evidence (and no doubt also contemplated the potential lost revenue if the Penguins don't win a few games) and ruled that Malkin was not trying to "send a message" by starting the fight - and therefore he is not suspended and can play game 3 and beyond.
That's two huge strokes of good luck in one night for Evgeni - who actually got a third one when the Red Wings were nice enough to wait 14 seconds after Malkin's whack-a-goalie penalty expired before notching their first goal - so Malkin wouldn't be directly (or statistically) blamed for causing a powerplay that led to a score.
In other words, for for one night anyway, Malkin caught a few lucky breaks. Of course his team will always will be known as Crosby and the Penguins, but our man "Ev" did come away with something.