Archive for February, 2008

From Rule 85

85.1 Puck Out of Bounds (PDF):

… Should the puck strike the spectator netting at the ends and the corners of the arena, play shall be stopped and the ensuing face-off shall be determined as if the puck went outside the playing area. However, if the puck striking the spectator netting goes unnoticed by the on-ice officials, play shall continue as normal and resulting play with the puck shall be deemed a legitimate play. Players must not stop playing the game until they hear the whistle to do so.

My emphasis.

Discussion added (01. Mar, 12:28 AM): So that’s the rule. Fine. That doesn’t make it a good rule.

As Bruce MacLeod wrote, the key to the whole thing was the lack of noise. How four officials missed the lack of any sound such as the puck hitting glass is beyond me.

How is it that the puck is deflected high, over the glass so that it bulges the netting, falls back to the ice, and gets put in the net while four on-ice officials stand apparently oblivious to what’s going on around them?

Actually, the referee in the corner (I did not catch his number) was apparently not quite oblivious: he actually brought his whistle halfway to his mouth before letting his hand drop as the puck returned to view. If he intended to stop the play, wasn’t that puck dead under the accepted interpretation of Rule 32.2? Why didn’t he follow through on the motion? Was he not surprised that the puck fell to the ice after a noticeable delay?

The fact that both referees were experienced officials makes their blunder all the more disappointing. According to the NHL Officials Association website, Tom Kowal is an seven-year veteran with over 321 NHL regular season games under his belt. Paul Devorski has been officiating since 1989 and has appeared in over 1041 NHL regular season and 116 playoff games. That both missed the puck hitting the net is inexcusable.

I don’t want to get too hung up on a goal in a game in which the Sharks by and large dominated. However, what happened on that goal is shameful and an embarrassment to the NHL. It’s analogous to an NFL running back going out of bounds and then back in bounds on a touchdown play and every official on the field somehow missing it. Tell me people wouldn’t be justifiably upset.

What makes it worse is that there is no review on a play like that. As the rule says, any play following the striking of the netting by the puck that goes unnoticed by the referee is legitimate. That has to change when it leads directly to a goal. How can it still be considered a legitimate goal when the puck technically left the playing area?

In my opinion, the NHL should allow for the review of suspicious goals. Make it the job of the old goal judges to determine if a goal was scored under suspicious circumstances. If not the goal judges, allow the coaches of the team to challenge the goal.

Set up a checklist that includes looks at offsides, goaltender interference, high sticking, kicking motions, whistle blowing (intended or actual), the possibility that the puck went under the net or through the side, and possibility that the puck hit the netting. If any of those things occur during the offensive zone attack leading to the goal, it should be disallowed.

Giving the officials an out like Rule 85 currently does is just silly. Blowing a rule interpretation on goaltender interference is one thing. If they make a mistake on something such as rink boundaries or clearly definable lines, that’s another. That sort of thing is not open to interpretation. It’s pretty cut-and-dry, and video evidence can correct a mistake.

It’s easy to complain about the goal as the reason the Wings lost. However, they had plenty of time to stage a comeback and wouldn’t have been in that position had they not allowed the Sharks to dominate them in their own zone all night. Although the goal turned out to be the game winner, it’s not the real reason the Wings lost. They were outplayed, once again.

However, I point the goal out because I believe the League should make the easy rule change. Use modern technology. Eliminate cheap goals like that. Give your officials some support so they don’t have to bear the brunt of the fans’ ire for blowing a call that could be overturned by video evidence.

GameDay: vs. San Jose (34-21-8, 76 Pts) 7:30 ET

Update (1:46 PM): According to Bruce MacLeod, Mike Babcock has not decided which of Aaron Downey and Mark Hartigan will sit tonight. He’ll decide after the pre-game skate.

MacLeod also reports that Kronwall and Stuart, together with Zetterberg’s line, will be matched up against Joe Thornton’s line. Derek Meech, on the other hand, will be out there with Pavel Datsyuk as much as possible in order to keep puck movement up to speed.

Lastly, it looks like Brian Rafalski (groin) is closer to a return. He participated in the entire skate this morning. - Matt

Update (12:21 PM): Ansar Khan has an update on Chris Chelios, as well as some of the other injured players here. - Matt

Tonight is the fourth and final game between the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks this season. Detroit leads the series 3-0, with wins October 18th (4-2), October 26th (5-1), and January 19th (6-3).

The Sharks are 6-5-1 in February. They began the month with a 3-2 SO win over Chicago, but fell 3-1 to Colorado in their next game. They won two in a row after, beginning with a 2-1 OT decision over Columbus and continuing with a 4-3 win over Nashville on the 9th.

They then hit a skid in which they lost five in a row.  It all began with a 4-3 overtime loss to Calgary on the 12th. Then then lost to the Oilers (3-2), Rangers (3-1), Islanders (3-2), and Devils (3-2) in regulation.

San Jose halted that skid with a 3-1 win over the Flyers on the 21st. They won in a shootout three nights later in Pittsburgh, 2-1. In their most recent game, they won in Columbus Wednesday night, 4-2.

Tonight will be the Sharks’ 7th consecutive road game.

San Jose’s 76 points are good for fifth place in the Conference and third in the Pacific Division.  They are 11 points behind Dallas for the lead in the Division, which seems quite a separation at this point in the season.

Joe Thornton, predictably enough, leads the Sharks in assists and points with 56 and 73, respectively. The team’s trade deadline acquisition, Brian Campbell has the second-most points with 44, but 43 of those were from his time in Buffalo.

Milan Michalek leads the team in goals with 20. Jonathan Cheechoo is not far behind with 19, and Joe Thornton’s 17 put him in third.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Ryane Clowe (knee), Alexei Semenov (back), and Curtis Brown (hand) are on the IR, but Kyle McLaren (knee) is just day-to-day.

A note on Campbell: he made his Sharks debut on Wednesday in Columbus. He finished with one assist, 24:34 in TOI, and 0 +/-.  He also finished with zero PIM. However, we can be sure he committed at least one penalty:

campbell022708_480x285.jpg
(via NHL.com, thanks Megan)

Evgeni Nabokov, who has played in 61 of the Sharks’ 63 games, will start tonight.

For the Sharks’ side of things, see Fear the Fin,  A San Jose Sharks Blog,  Sharks Hockey Odyssey,  Sharkspage,  San Jose Sharks, and Two for Elbowing.

 The Wings fell to 4-7-2 in February with a 4-3 shootout loss to Edmonton on Wednesday. The loss was their 9th in their past 10 games, their only win over that span being a 4-0 decision in Colorado on the 18th. Apart from the Oilers, since February 7th, the Wings have lost to LA (5-3), Toronto (3-2 OT), Anaheim (3-2), Nashville (4-2), Columbus (5-1), Dallas (1-0), Calgary (1-0), Vancouver (4-1). At this point, it’s hard to believe they began the month with three wins to extend a streak to eight games.

Despite the skid, the Wings have retained their lead over the rest of the League, though it has dwindled to a mere three points as Dallas has been chipping away at it.

Pavel Datsyuk leads the team in assists and points with 51 and 74, respectively. Henrik Zetterberg’s 73 points put him in second on the team. Zetterberg’s 38 assists put him in second place among active Red Wings.

Zetterberg leads the team in goals with 35, but he is goalless in three.  Datsyuk’s 23 goals are good for second on the team.

The Wings will see the return of Niklas Kronwall (clavicle) tonight. He will be paired with the team’s trade deadline acquisition, Brad Stuart. Stuart will wear #23 and will see time in all situations.

Brian Rafalski (groin) will miss his 7th straight.

Nick Lidstrom (knee sprain) will miss his fourth.

Chris Chelios (chipped bone, right leg) will miss his third.

Dan Cleary (broken jaw) remains out and will miss his 8th straight game.

Jonathan Ericsson and Derek Meech will fill the holes on the blueline. Kyle Quincey was returned to the Griffins yesterday in order to make room for Brad Stuart.

Projected lines:

Filppula-Datsyuk-Holmstrom
Franzen-Zetterberg-Samuelsson
Hudler-Draper-Kopecky
Maltby-Drake-Downey

A note on Aaron Downey: he has been fined for his involvement in the pre-game fracas in Vancouver Saturday night.  The Canucks’ Alex Burrows was also fined.

Projected pairings (via MacLeod):

Kronwall-Stuart
Meech-Lilja
Ericsson-Lebda

Expect some hiccups from that first pairing, as it’s a combination of a player returning from a lengthy injury recovery and a player adapting to a new system.

Dominik Hasek will start tonight and will be backed up by Chris Osgood.

For more of the Wings’ perspective, see Snapshots, Abel to Yzerman, HockeyTownTodd, Behind the Jersey, No Pun Intended, Red Wings Nation, yzerman is god, Detroit Hockey, LetsGoWings, Red Wings Brasil, and Winging It In Motown. OklahomaWingNut’s GDT is here.

 I don’t know about you, but I’d love to see the Wings finish out this awful month with a win to help everyone put it out of our minds. They’ll have Kronwall back and a good passer in Stuart, so the excuse that the breakout passes aren’t as strong with the rookies back there is no longer as applicable. The offense should be able to get going tonight, especially considering the vote of confidence the forwards received at the deadline.

The Sharks are a good team and became better with the addition of Campbell, but here’s hoping the Wings can sweep the season series in spite of the fact that their opponent is on a roll and they are not.

2/28 Post-practice Update

Update (7:00 PM): Red Wings TV has video of Dan Cleary’s talk with the media here. - Matt

Update (6:56 PM): The official blog confirms that Niklas Kronwall has been activated off the injured reserve list and that Kyle Quincey has been returned to Grand Rapids. - Matt

Update (5:27 PM): … Ansar Khan has more on Dan Cleary here.

… Khan also says Stuart will be on the first power play tomorrow and with Andreas Lilja on the penalty kill.

… Unsurprisingly, Chelios was favoring his right leg in practice today, though he soldiered through it. Babcock told Khan he’s not sure if Chelios will be ready to go Sunday in Buffalo. My guess is no.

… Babcock’s also not sure about Rafalski’s status for Sunday. - Matt

Bruce MacLeod reports that Brad Stuart was at practice today and led the stretching “to hoots and hollers from his new teammates.”

Stuart did drills with Niklas Kronwall, who will return tomorrow night, according to MacLeod’s other update.

During the extended special teams portion of the practice, MacLeod says Stuart got reps on the penalty kill side.

According to an email I got from the NHL Store today, Stuarts new number is 23. I know some people who aren’t going to be happy about that.

… According to MacLeod, Brian Rafalski (groin) stayed as long as the stretches, but left once the team started drills. Obviously he’s still in full-on recovery mode.

… MacLeod also reports that Chris Chelios (bone chip, right leg) took part in practice. That’s a little surprising given the fact that he was described yesterday as barely being able to walk. Apparently, even Babcock was surprised.

… Nick Lidstrom (knee sprain) was not there today. Reports earlier this week suggested he could be ready to skate by later this week. Looks like that means Friday or Saturday. He did work out in the weight room, however.

… MacLeod says Kyle Quincey was sent back to Grand Rapids today.

… The pairings from practice, as provided by MacLeod:

Kronwall-Stuart
Meech-Lilja
Ericsson-Lebda
Quincey-Chelios (practice only)

… MacLeod says Dan Cleary (broken jaw) made an appearance at the rink for the first time since taking a Mikael Samuelsson shot off the face. He’s looking to make it back for the last three games of the season. Before then, he’ll have to regain the 15 pounds he’s lost due to only being able to eat pasta and soups. He’s targeting Sunday or Monday as the day to start skating again.

… Dominik Hasek will start against the Sharks.

(via Bruce MacLeod’s update #1 and update #2)

Forsberg skates with Avs

The AP reports that Peter Forsberg skated with Colorado today in an optional practice. He’s not scheduled to play tonight in Vancouver, but could make an appearance in the Avs’ home game Saturday against LA.

I know there’s a lot of skepticism about Forsberg’s latest comeback attempt and for good reason, I suppose. However, I suspect underestimating him is a mistake. The guy all but gave up on his return bid back in November, so it’s as though he’s delusional about his chances. It seems that he has found a solution after all, and if it really ends up working, watch out.

Even last season, ankle troubles notwithstanding, he put up respectable numbers:

regular season: 57 games, 55 points (13G, 42A)
playoffs: 5 games, 4 points (2G, 2A)

Again, respectable, not stellar. Still worth considering, however.

I’m no Forsberg fan, but I can respect the guy’s ability and desire to return to the NHL so that he can go out on his own terms. His reputation as a diver is well-earned, but so is his reputation as one of the most dominant forwards of his generation. Also, though “Floppa” is an apt nickname for the guy, he is, paradoxically, as tough as they come. I think it’s a safe bet that he’ll be playing through pain and take his body to the limit to make this comeback worthwhile.

With a healthy Forsberg, the Avs become a power player in the West and can’t be taken lightly. And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather Detroit not face that patricular Red Wings Killer in the first round. They’re not far out of the lead in the Northwest Division, however, so that may not be all that likely.

2/27 Post-Practice Update

Update (9:31 PM): In a piece meant for Thursday’s edition, Helene St. James suggests again that Niklas Kronwall will be back Friday night.

I still think the Wings aren’t 100% sure on that, as evidenced by Kyle Quincey’s continued presence on the roster, but that must only be a precautionary measure in case of a setback. Given that the Griffins could badly use their defensemen back, you have to think Quincey will be headed to GR soon.

I should also say that it’s possible Jonathan Ericsson will be the next to follow Stafford to GR, but I’d be surprised if the team doesn’t want to continue to get a look at the big Swede in the NHL.

Also, St. James  characterizes the battle for the bottom end of the defensive corps as a four-way affair between Derek Meech, Andreas Lilja, Brett Lebda, and Chris Chelios. However, I have a hard time seeing Chelios get knocked off the playing roster, so it’s more of a battle between the other three. - Matt

George Sipple reports that Dominik Hasek has completely recovered from the hip flexor that has kept him out since the Wings’ February 9 loss in Toronto. Sipple quotes Hasek as saying,

“I don’t know what the coach’s decision is going to be like, but I’d like to play twice a week. There are not even six weeks before the playoffs, so now it’s very important for me to get into good rhythm.”

I’m sure the brain trust is thinking the same thing, so don’t worry Dom. You’ll see the ice plenty in the coming weeks.

A better Hasek quote comes via Ted Kulfan:

“I feel healthy.”

Let’s hope so.

… Sipple also reports on Chris Chelios’ situation. Evidently, he’s undergone treatment on his right fibula, but still feels what Chelios calls “discomfort.” For us normal people, that’s “pain, significant pain.”

For those of us hoping for a speedy recovery for #24, HockeyTownTodd set the record straight in the comments Monday:

Anyone that has ever chipped a bone does not expect Cheli back very soon.

Here’s hoping Chelios bucks the odds and makes it back faster than expected, as he did with his recovery from knee surgery a few years back.

… It looks like Brian Rafalski (groin) isn’t close to returning. Sipple says he “skated briefly” today, but Mike Babcock doesn’t sound very optimistic:

“Obviously things haven’t progressed like we anticipated early with him. So we’ll have to re-look at it and go from there.”

Despite the fact that the Wings are hemorrhaging points because their four most important defensemen are out, I can’t advocate rushing Rafalski (or any of them, for that matter) back. They need him (and them) too much in the playoffs to do anything but let him (and them) recover fully now. It sucks, but it’ll pay off.

Bruce MacLeod reports that Garrett Stafford has been sent back to Grand Rapids. I forgot him altogether in my speculation yesterday (3:50 update) on who would get sent down as a result of the trade, but with Brad Stuart now on the roster, Stafford became extraneous.

Because Kyle Quincey also did not get demoted today, it’s probably safe to assume the status of Niklas Kronwall for Friday is still undetermined, today’s Helene St. James piece notwithstanding. If the team were certain Kronwall would be back for the Sharks game, Quincey would be on his way to GR, too. That doesn’t mean he won’t play, but we probably won’t know for sure until Friday sometime.

… Lastly, some links via Abel to Yzerman:

2/27 Notes

Update (10:26 AM): The comments on IwoCPO’s response to Drew Sharp are worth reading, as usual. Particularly Baroque’s from 8:36 AM. - Matt

Update (10:04 AM): Brennan at Gloveside has a great discussion on the Wings’ breakout troubles here. The post includes what has to be the line of the week at the end of third paragraph. I won’t spoil it for you.

As for the solution to the breakout issues: Nick Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall, and Chris Chelios. As talented and impressive as Derek Meech, Kyle Quincey and Jonathan Ericsson have been, they can’t measure up to the masters of that particular art form.  - Matt

Update (8:35 AM): IwoCPO responds to Drew Sharp’s column here. - Matt

… The Wings lost last night in Edmonton, 4-3 in a shootout. They overcame a two-goal lead in the third and then gave up a goal in the final minute of the period as the Oilers forced overtime. Robert Nilsson scored the only goal in the shootout to give Edmonton their 13th shootout win this season.

I was not able to watch the game, but judging from the highlights, it was an exciting one.

… Good news: Valtteri Filppula scored last night and now has two goals in a little over a week. That’s closer to the correct rate of scoring, Fil.

… More good news: Jonathan Ericsson notched his first NHL goal to put the Wings on the board. Hopefully that’s just the first of many, many more.

… Anyone else want to see Pavel Datsyuk shoot the puck like that more often? I love it when he breaks out that rocket snap shot of his.

… It was nice to see Henrik Zetterberg try something a little different in the shootout. That brings the number of shootout moves in his repertoire to a grand total of about 4. Maybe someday he’ll come across a goalie that hasn’t seen the Forsberg Dekeâ„¢ and he can use that one again!

… Post-game links

… The papers are understandably stocked with stories about Brad Stuart today:

Helene St. James has a straightforward piece about the new defenseman, complete with quotes from Ken Holland. It looks like he won’t join the team until tomorrow, though he is expected to play Friday. The man slated to be his defensive partner, Niklas Kronwall, is expected to return that night as well.

Ted Kulfan’s lede says it all:

The Red Wings found out last season a team can’t have enough defensemen during the playoffs.

Very true.

Drew Sharp, of course, second-guesses the move and wonders why Ken Holland wasn’t able to land a forward when guys like Martin Lapointe and Sergei Fedorov went to the East for a song. Two words Drew: Central Division. Two more: Eastern Conference. Put them together and you have a simple concept: the Wings are in the same division as Chicago and Columbus, and those teams aren’t looking to do the Wings any favors. And vice versa.

The Caps and Senators, on the other hand, are in the Eastern Conference and therefore not immediate threats to the success of the franchise. Do you get it? Sure, it’s disappointing that the Wings were able to bring in some scoring help, but the simple fact that the Jackets and Hawks are in the Central meant the asking price was too high for them.

Also, Martin Lapointe, Drew? You’re upset that they didn’t bring that loser back?

John Niyo has a refreshingly positive look at the move and makes a great point. Whereas teams like Dallas, Colorado, and San Jose are placing their hopes in their new acquisitions,

… teams like Anaheim and Detroit, the presumptive Cup favorites before Tuesday’s wheeling and dealing, are banking on something else: Themselves.

When Jiri Hudler’s turn came up at the shootout last night, Ken Daniels said a goal there would have be a much-needed boost to his confidence. He didn’t score, but you have to think that his not being traded was a boost of sorts. The same goes for the other struggling forwards. The management showed faith in the current squad and that counts for something. Whether the guys will honor that faith remains to be seen, of course, but it’s hard to believe that they won’t.

Niyo also points out that the Wings did not give up any of their “kids.” That will pay off in the future and, with the team they have at the moment,  shouldn’t hamper their chances now.

For another blogger’s perspective on the trade, see Gorilla Crouch.

Brad Stuart now a Red Wing

Update (6:44 PM): For those fluent in Portuguese, reacts to the trade at temporarily renamed “Griffins Brasil” (formerly Red Wings Brasil).

It’s sad, really, how negative we North American Wings fans can be in contrast to our Brazilian counterparts. - Matt

Update (4:58 PM): George Malik has more on the trade here. - Matt

Update (4:52 PM): Stuart wore  #6 in LA and though that number is not hanging from the rafters, he’s going to have to get a new one as it was retired by James Norris in 1939. He has also worn #7 in his career, but that won’t work either, as it is currently hanging from the rafters at JLA in honor of Ted Lindsay. - Matt

Update (4:27 PM): Lyle Richardson a.k.a. Spector has more on Stuart:

Stuart was once considered a promising young defenseman with all the tools to be a star in the NHL during his years with the San Jose Sharks, but he’s never been the same since the Sharks dealt him to the Boston Bruins in the Joe Thornton trade in the 2005-06 season. …

… He’d struggled in the first half of the season but seemed to show improvement in recent weeks.

… It remains to be seen how Stuart will adjust but playing on a deeper club like the Wings despite their recent struggles could take some pressure off his shoulders and help him regain some confidence. If so he could become a good depth addition for the Wings down the stretch and into the playoffs.

– Matt

Update (4:16 PM): HockeyTownTodd comments on the trade here and George Malik does so here. - Matt

Update (4:09 PM): The commenters at Abel to Yzerman aren’t exactly thrilled with the trade. - Matt

Update (3:50 PM): I should point out that a more immediate answer to the question of who sits depends on who returns for what I assume will be Stuart’s first game with the Wings, the meeting with the Sharks on Saturday Friday. If none of the injured regular defensemen return, Garrett Stafford is the odd man out.

If one of Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall, or Chris Chelios returns, my guess is Kyle Quincey will get demoted. If two of those three make it back, both Quincey and Ericsson will return to Grand Rapids. If all three do (which is unlikely), the two Griffins get demoted and Meech is a likely healthy scratch. - Matt

Update (3:41 PM): Khan reports that the 2nd rounder is a 2008 pick and the 4th rounder is a 2009 pick. -Sarah

Update (3:34 PM): This obviously isn’t a bad deal as it did not cost the Wings a roster player or an established prospect. The added depth and experience is a good thing, though going into the post-season with Meech as the 7th man would not have been the end of the world by any means. Personally, I’d rather have seen a scoring forward come this way in a trade rather than a defenseman, but I’m not going to complain too much.

The question now is, who sits when everyone is healthy? - Matt

Update (3:29 PM): Some more detail on Stuart: he’s a 28-year-old potential UFA making $3.5 million this season. He’s got 5 goals and 16 assists this season. His career high is 39 points – 9 goals, 30 assists – over 77 games in 2003-2004. - Matt

According to Kukla’s Korner, the LA Kings have traded Brad Stuart to Detroit for a second and fourth round pick. More to come.