The phrase “the straw that broke the camel’s back” is tossed around too often, but when it comes to expanded video review in the NHL, the goalie interference call assessed to Detroit’s Luke Glendening Wednesday night certainly qualifies. Thankfully, the spectacular botch job didn’t decide the game’s outcome, but the fact a call this bad could be agreed on between two referees should be deeply disconcerting to league officials and every team in the league.
The reality is the game’s speed makes it tougher than ever to assess the action, and when one of the referees goes down to injury as can occur, it makes expanded replay even more vital. And imagine what would happen if a similarly awful penalty/rescinded goal materialized in the final game of the regular season and the result of that game meant the difference between a team making or missing the playoffs. Imagine if a call like that went down during the playoffs – say, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final – and there were no option for the officials to skate over to the penalty box area, check a video monitor for a few brief minutes and make sure they got the call right. Fans and media of the team on the wrong end of such a predicament would go apoplectic, and rightfully so; any league unwilling to utilize technology readily available to assure the integrity of its game is a league painfully out of touch with what fans demand in return for their investments of time, money and emotion.
If it ever got to that point, the NHL would need to hold an IPO to raise its stock to laughing status. Read more
Each NHL season has its share of botched calls from referees. We know going in that, as mere mortals, they’re bound to make errors trying to make sense of a lightning-fast game. However, some blown calls are so egregious, they stand out for years afterward. And one of those calls went down Wednesday night during the game between the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings. As a matter of fact, this might not have been one of the worst penalty calls of the year. It might be the worst in NHL history.
It was early in the first period in Washington when Capitals goalie Braden Holtby left his crease and went behind the net. As he tried to get back into position, Holtby tripped over his own skates – and the Red Wings pounced immediately, with Drew Miller grabbing the puck and firing it into the Caps’ net.
However – and inexplicably – the officiating duo of Mike Leggo and Ghislain Hebert decided the goal would not count and that Wings center Luke Glendening deserved a goalie interference penalty. As you can see, he deserved nothing of the sort: Read more
Nearly a month into this season, the Colorado Avalanche stumbled from the gate with a 2-4-4 record. Poor defensive play is a significant factor behind their sputtering start, as they rank among the worst teams in shots-against and goals-against per game.
This poor start is a far cry from last season, when they topped the Central Division with 112 points and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in four years. With their depth in young talent and 2013-14 Jack Adams Award winner Patrick Roy behind the bench, the Avs entered this season seemingly poised to build upon that success. Read more
The coaching business in the NHL is about to get crazier thanks to the pending free agency of Red Wings bench boss Mike Babcock, who almost assuredly will set a new record for a coach’s salary whether he stays in Detroit or moves on to a new place of employment. So, that has to mean better times are ahead for all coaches, right? A whole, “rising-tide-lifts-all-boats” thing, right?
Not so fast. Because although Babcock’s pending spike in pay may very well result in higher salaries for more members of the coaching fraternity, there’s other forces at play here: the increasingly rapid turnover of coaches at the NHL level – and this year, the early success of most off-season coaching changes.
There were six such changes in hockey’s best league this summer. Let’s take a brief look at how they’re working out: In Nashville, Peter Laviolette has the Predators off to a 5-0-2 start (including a big 3-2 win over Chicago Thursday) that makes them the last team in the league without a loss in regulation. In Washington, former Predators coach Barry Trotz has steered the Capitals to a strong showing out of the gate (just one loss in regulation in six games) and his relationship with star winger Alex Ovechkin is beginning on the right foot. In Pittsburgh, Mike Johnston is working with a significantly rejigged roster, but the Penguins have points in four of their first six games and should be fine. In Vancouver, Willie Desjardins has reinvigorated a Canucks squad that had been wholly deinvigorated under John Tortorella.
Things aren’t working out that well for all the new coaches. Read more
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Nicklas Backstrom quietly scored his 500th career point against the Edmonton Oilers Wednesday night.
He did it quietly because Backstrom does everything quietly. That has something to do with the fact that he’s Swedish and, remarkably like almost all his countrymen, is singularly unimpressed with himself. It also has something to do with the fact that he plays alongside Alex Ovechkin, a larger-than-life figure who is comfortable in the spotlight. Backstrom is more than happy to allow Ovechkin to soak up all the adulation, and have to handle the pressure that comes with being an NHL superstar. Read more
By Dom Luszczyszyn
It’s still too early to make any meaningful judgments, but so far it looks like the Washington Capitals’ biggest problem has been solved.
The Caps have been a notoriously abysmal defensive team for a while now, and missing the playoffs last season meant changes had to be made to the former powerhouse. The biggest one was bringing in coach Barry Trotz, arguably the most reputable defensive coach in the game.
While changing the coach isn’t always the right call, it was clear that Adam Oates wasn’t getting the most out of his players, specifically his best one, Alex Ovechkin. The same can be said for Trotz, who was well past his expiration date in Nashville. Washington and Trotz were a perfect fit. Read more
Status: NHL right wing from 1986-1993 with Hartford, Washington, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Ottawa.
DOB: December 30, 1965 In: Edmonton, Alberta
First Hockey Memory: “I borrowed a pair of skates. I grew up in a mobile house park, Westview Village in Winterburn, Alberta. I was six years old and one of my friends lent me his dad’s skates. They were too big but I skated around and couldn’t stop. I fell in love with it.” Read more
In a game that involves the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals going to a shootout, you’d expect the highlight of the night to be something off the stick of Alex Ovechkin. Not tonight.
The former Southeast Division rivals battled to a tightly contested 1-1 draw through regulation and overtime. Both teams saved their scoring touches for the shootout.
After Evgeny Kuznetsov gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead in the shootout with a quick flick of the wrists, Jonathan Huberdeau evened the score by paying homage to one of the most iconic goals of all-time: Peter Forsberg’s one-handed goal from the 1994 Olympics. It was an absolutely beautiful goal from the 2012-13 Calder Trophy recipient.
Originally used by Kent Nilsson, Forsberg made the goal famous when he slipped it past Canadian goaltender Corey Hirsch in the ’94 Olympics Gold Medal game in Lillehammer. It would prove to be the winning tally in the shootout.
Unfortunately for Huberdeau and the Panthers, his marker couldn’t do the same. Ovechkin got the last laugh for the Capitals as he outwaited Florida goaltender Al Montoya for the shootout winner.
All may not be lost for Huberdeau, though. If he waits long enough, he might get on a stamp. Read more