Detroit Red Wings Tattoos
Zack Shea, San Francisco, Calif.
Detroit Red Wings Tattoos
Zack Shea, San Francisco, Calif.
The Islanders at center ice of Barclays Center
The arena’s ice on Friday night was called “unplayable” and “bouncy,” and it has less to do with temperatures than it does the piping under the ice.
New York Islanders fans’ gripes about the Barclays Center have been plenty. There’s been complaints about the sight lines, the travel and the building design, in general, and it has left fans hoping for a return to Nassau Coliseum or for an all-new building for their Islanders to call home. The biggest objection to the arena, though, could be one that doesn’t really impact the fans.
Over the past few games, the center of attention for the Islanders hasn’t so much been the on-ice performance as it has been the ice conditions, which have been downright awful, according to the players.
Winger Cal Clutterbuck’s words rang out the loudest after the Islanders’ 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. According to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, Clutterbuck called the surface “unplayable” on Friday night, and rearguard Johnny Boychuk added that pucks wouldn’t settle down, meaning players couldn’t do much more than “throw it on net.”
But complaints about the ice can be normal over the course of a season. Combine a string of unseasonable temperatures with a spectator-filled contest and there’s an almost perfect storm for bad, bouncy ice. Trouble is that it hasn’t been a one night issue.
Players were much less outspoken about the conditions following Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Minnesota Wild, but not exactly silent on the ice issue. Captain John Tavares told the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte that he didn’t want to talk about the ice but said it was “a little better” Sunday, while coach Jack Capuano said it was simply something both teams had to deal with.
“We don’t want any excuses,” Capuano said, according to Botte. “Whether the ice is good or bad, both teams have to play on it. I’m sure they’re trying to do the best they can here, and I’ll leave it at that.”
But the issue with the ice goes well beyond the temperature. According to Staple, the team has ice engineer and dehumidifiers that work to keep the rink in its best possible shape, but the biggest issue is literally an underlying one.
Staple reported that the Islanders are currently using plastic pipes below their ice surface instead of steel, and Chris Botta added that “all other NHL rinks have steel pipes.” Botta said that arena management knows of the issue, as do the Islanders, but it wasn’t fixed during the summer because it would have required a complete shutdown of the building.
When temperatures drop, the issue of warm weather impacting the playing surface will most likely fade away — or at least lessen, given that the sheet should stay much cooler in the winter — but as the season nears its culmination, the temperature could again be an issue and the team’s annoyance with the ice could again come to the fore.
Rumblings about the Islanders’ unhappiness with Barclays Center have been ongoing nearly since the day the puck was dropped to start the 2015-16 season, and they persist to this day. And if bad ice conditions continue without any fix in sight, you can almost guarantee the talk of the Islanders looking for a new home is going to continue.
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The Canadiens lost Carey Price to a severe case of the flu, but they didn't miss a beat with newly signed backup Al Montoya.
They have the best winning percentage, the best goals differential and are the only team in the NHL that has yet to endure a loss in regulation. And they have the league’s best goalie in
Al Montoya Carey Price. So it’s no wonder the Montreal Canadiens are at the top of thn.com’s first Power Rankings of this season.
Remember, folks, these are Power Rankings, not NHL standings. They reflect how the team has performed most recently and are measured in order of the team that an opponent would least like to face if it played that night. So if you’re team is low in our rankings, remember it’s because we hate your team, and probably you and your family as well.
THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Montreal Canadiens
2. Edmonton Oilers
3. Detroit Red Wings
4. New York Rangers
5. St. Louis Blues
6. Tampa Bay Lightning
7. Florida Panthers
8. New York Islanders
9. Pittsburgh Penguins
10. Washington Capitals
Shea Weber was supposed to represent the panacea for Montreal’s power play, but it sits 20th in the league going into tonight’s game against Philadelphia, where they’ll try Alexander Radulov alongside Weber on the point…Since Cam Talbot’s wife gave birth to twins last Wednesday, Talbot is 3-0-0 with just three goals against on 99 shots…After posting a career-low 43 points last season, Gustav Nyquist has 3-4-7 totals in his first five games…After all the talk of resting Henrik Lundqvist more this season, The Rangers played him in back-to-back games over the weekend, the second one against the worst team in the NHL…The way Nail Yakupov has thrived on the Blues’ third line, his trade from Edmonton could develop into a major steal…Not sure how many noticed, but ESPN ranked the Lightning as the No. 1…The 4-1 win over Ottawa Saturday night kicked off a six-game, 11-day road trip for the Lightning…Tough not to cheer for 27-year-old rookie Shane Harper, who had never played an NHL game before this season, but made the Panthers’ fourth-line and scored twice in Florida’s 5-2 win over Colorado Saturday…Islanders captain John Tavares said he thinks it wears him and his teammates out more talking about the bad ice at Barclays Center than playing on it. Pretty sure that’s not the case…After taking part in his first full-contact practice since suffering a pre-season concussion, Sidney Crosby has not been ruled out yet for Tuesday night’s game against Florida…Going into a four-game road trip through western Canada, Capitals coach Barry Trotz shuffled his top two lines, moving Andre Burakovsky to the top line and T.J. Oshie down to the second.
THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. Anaheim Ducks
12. Los Angeles Kings
13. Vancouver Canucks
14. Minnesota Wild
15. Boston Bruins
16. Colorado Avalanche
17. Chicago Blackhawks
18. Columbus Blue Jackets
19. Ottawa Senators
20. Nashville Predators
Simon Despres and his concussion have been placed on long-term injury reserve, which could give the Ducks the room they need to sign Hampus Lindholm…Thank goodness for 34-year-old Peter Budaj. He’s the only healthy goalie in the Kings organization at the moment with NHL experience…As much as people seem to want to pigeonhole Bo Horvat as a third-line center, his all-round game and offensive production this year suggest otherwise…Zach Parise scored his 300th and 301st NHL goals on Saturday and needs only 40 more to pass Dave Christian for first on the all-time list among Minnesota-born players…The Bruins have yet to score the first goal of the game in any of their five games this season…The Avalanche are in the midst of a six-day break. John Mitchell is expected to be in the lineup for the first time this season Friday night against Winnipeg…Speaking of season debuts, veteran defenseman Michal Rozsival will play his first game of the season tonight against Calgary after sitting out the first six games as a healthy scratch…The Blue Jackets rallied with big wins over NHL powers after losing their first two games. A big reason for that has been the penalty kill unit, which has allowed only one goal on 11 shorthanded situations, and that was an empty-net goal…The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Senators can score plenty, but have allowed at least four goals in four of their first five games this season...Despite an attack of food poisoning, the Predators managed to beat Pittsburgh 5-1 on the weekend. Their power play is by far the best in the league.
VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. San Jose Sharks
22. Philadelphia Flyers
23. Dallas Stars
24. New Jersey Devils
25. Toronto Maple Leafs
26. Buffalo Sabres
27. Winnipeg Jets
28. Carolina Hurricanes
29. Calgary Flames
30. Arizona Coyotes
The Sharks went 2-for-18 on the power play on their recent five-game road trip, but they still managed to pick up two wins…League menace Radko Gudas will be eligible to return from his six-game suspension Tuesday night against Buffalo…Ales Hemsky reinjured his groin Saturday and will miss Tuesday night’s game against Winnipeg, as will Jason Spezza, who tweaked something in practice Monday…Same old Devils? New Jersey hasn’t scored more than two goals in any of its first five games this season. And that includes two overtimes...The Maple Leafs 5-4 shootout loss to Chicago Saturday marked the fourth time in five games the young Leafs have gagged up a lead late in the third period…Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen doesn’t appear to have been hurt by missing training camp with a contract dispute. He has an assist on each of Buffalo’s four power-play goals this season…This could be a lot worse. The Jets’ only two wins this season have come back when they roared back from three-goal deficits in the third period…The Hurricanes may have to finish their season-opening six-game road trip Tuesday night in Detroit without Jeff Skinner, who wasn’t on the ice for practice Monday…The Flames are porous. They’ve given up at least four goals in four of their first six games and at least five in three of them…The Coyotes are 0-4-0 on their eastern road trip, which still has stops in New Jersey and Philadelphia.
Sean Burke, Cutris Joseph, Grant Fuhr.
There are five goalies who've managed to rank in the top 25 for career wins while playing for six teams or more. Let's take a look back at those five travelling netminders.
hen we think of history's best goaltenders, we tend to immediately picture them in a certain uniform. Like anyone else, goalies can occasionally be traded or hit free agency. But we like to think of the great goalies as being tied to one team, maybe two at the most. Martin Brodeur was a Devil. Patrick Roy was a Canadien, then an Av. Dominik Hasek, with apologies to the Red Wings, will always be a Sabre. And Hall-of-Fame talents from Bill Durnan to Ken Dryden to Henrik Lundqvist spent their entire careers with one franchise.
But that's not always how it works out. Every now and then, a goalie comes along who ends up spending his career jumping from team-to-team, even as they’re building an all-star resume. In fact, there are five goalies who've managed to rank in the top 25 for career wins while playing for six teams or more. Let's take a look back at those five travelling netminders, and some of the stops you may not remember them making.
He was best known as: The Oilers' starting goaltender for much of their late-80s dynasty. Fuhr won four Cup rings, to go with a Vezina and two seasons leading the league in wins. His numbers were never jaw-dropping, and they look awful compared to modern day goalies (he was runner-up for the Hart Trophy in 1988 with an .881 save percentage). But he developed a reputation as a guy who would always make the big save when it mattered, and no less than Wayne Gretzky has called him the greatest goalie of all-time.
You might also remember him as: A Toronto Maple Leaf during the early days of the Cliff Fletcher rebuild, a Buffalo Sabre who helped them to their first playoff series win in a decade in 1993, and a St. Louis Blue who nearly started every game for an entire season because Mike Keenan was a crazy person.
But he also managed to play for: The Flames and the Kings. OK, a quick stint in Los Angeles was pretty much mandatory for every ex-Oiler of that era, so maybe that's not surprising. But Fuhr stuck around long enough to suit up in a forgotten 1999-2000 season for the Calgary Flames at the tail end of his career, spending most of the year backing up Fred Brathwaite.
He was best known as: That's a tough call, but let's go with his four years in Toronto, where he helped transform Pat Quinn's Maple Leafs from also-ran to Cup contender almost overnight. He was a Vezina finalist twice, and was good enough to head into the 2002 Winter Olympics as the starter for Team Canada. There wasn't anything he couldn't do. Well, other than argue with a referee without accidentally tackling him.
You might also remember him as: He broke in with the Blues in the early 90s, highlighted by a dominant playoff run in 1993. From there it was off to Edmonton, where he only spent three years but will always be remembered for almost single-handedly beating the Dallas Stars in an epic 1997 playoff series. And then there were the two seasons in Detroit, which are best remembered for him being the scapegoat in a playoff loss and then victimized by Dominik Hasek's unretirement.
But he also managed to play for: Like Fuhr, Joseph also snuck in a shady season with the Flames, starting five games in 2007-08. And then there was his two-year stint in Phoenix right after the 2005 lockout. Although in fairness, pretty much everyone did that, with names ranging from Brett Hull to Mike Ricci to Petr Nedved to Owen Nolan making cameos on those weird Coyotes teams.
He was best known as: The legendary Montreal Canadiens goalie who racked up six Vezinas with the Habs and six Stanley Cups through the 50s and 60s.
You might also remember him as: His longest post-Canadiens stint came in Toronto in the early 70s. He also played two years with the Rangers, and two more with the expansion Blues (during which he won another Vezina).
But he also managed to play for: The Boston Bruins in 1973, which you could be forgiven for not remembering since he was 44 years old and only appeared in eight games. And that wasn't even the end of the road for the future Hall of Famer. After a year off, he headed to the WHA and played 31 games for the Edmonton Oilers during the 1974-75 season, during which he turned 46.
He was best known as: The twelve years he spent with the Penguins from 1988 to 2000, during which he backstopped the team to two Stanley Cups. Here's a random Tom Barrasso fun fact: During his first season as a Penguin, he set an all-time record that still stands for most PIM by a goaltender who wasn't Ron Hextall.
You might also remember him as: Before arriving in Pittsburgh, Barrasso spent six years in Buffalo. The first of those came in 1983-84, when he broke in as an 18-year-old rookie and won the Calder and the Vezina, a feat that's pretty much unequalled in NHL history.
But he also managed to play for: Four other teams for like a week each. That's only barely an exaggeration. You might recall his brief stint in Ottawa, which was mainly remembered for the time he swore on Hockey Night in Canada. But did you know he played for the Blues for six games in 2002? Or that he played for the Hurricanes for half a season in 2001? Or that the Hurricanes traded him to the Maple Leafs so he could back up Joseph for four games? If not, it's OK. I'm pretty sure Barrasso himself doesn't even remember at least two of those.
He was best known as: Let's go with his first four seasons in New Jersey, including a rookie year in which he played 13 games and still somehow finished tied with Ray Bourque for eighth in MVP voting. He also established a reputation as a guy you did not want to fight, although more than a few goalies forgot that lesson over the years.
You might also remember him as: After his time in New Jersey, he went on to spend five years in Hartford, followed by part of one in Carolina after the franchise moved.
But he also managed to play for: Everyone else. Let's start with the Coyotes, where he spent five years (not counting his later role as goaltending coach). You probably remember that one. But what about his parts of two season in Florida? A half season in Los Angeles? A year in Tampa Bay? Not one but two separate stints in Philadelphia? A partial season with the Seattle Metropolitans? Sixteen games with the Canucks?
OK, I made one of those up. But the point is that Burke got around. He switched teams nine times over the course of his career, including five trades, two free agent signings, a waiver claim and a franchise relocation. And that's not counting the 1991-92 season he split between the San Diego Gulls and the Canadian Olympic team during a contract dispute.
Burke was pretty much the most travelled halfway decent goaltender of all-time. Is there anything wrong with that? (Re-watches old Burke fight clips.) If there is, I'm sure not saying so.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.
Steven Stamkos feels the best he has in several seasons, and it's already showing on the scoresheet. Can he surge back into the NHL's elite goal-scoring ranks?
Boos rained down on Steven Stamkos the moment he touched the puck Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Yet there’s a decent chance he didn’t hear them. When you’re as happy as he is right now, negative noise gets reduced to a dull murmur, easy to ignore.
That’s what Stamkos appeared to be doing mere seconds after that first tongue-lashing from the Toronto faithful. He deked in on goalie Frederik Andersen, had the puck poked away by blueliner Matt Hunwick and watched it bounce in. It was the first of two goals, the second more of a no-doubter, coming on a laser of a one-timer. Stamkos racked up four points, fuelling a 7-3 Tampa victory.
Stamkos, who hails from just north of the Big Smoke, may or may not have been close to signing with the Leafs as a free agent this summer. He may or may not have almost changed his playing address to the ACC. Whether it was close to happening or not no longer matters. He chose to stay with the Tampa Bay Lightning, inking an eight-year, $68-million deal. And on Tuesday his performance buried the team many thought he’d join.
“You give the guy chances like he had tonight, and he’s going to score a bunch of those,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “I was really happy for him, because I’m sure it was a tough decision for him. Plus this is his hometown. Fans pay a ticket, they’re entitled to do what they want, but 'Stam' was a great son to Toronto.”
Stamkos’ signing keyed a real coup of an off-season for Tampa GM Steve Yzerman, who signed defenseman Victor Hedman long-term and locked up right winger Nikita Kucherov on a bridge contract. At least for now, Yzerman kept the band together, and his team is the NHL’s leading Stanley Cup contender.
Stamkos said after Tuesday’s game the team’s vibe has changed for the better. The players are having fun again. They know Stamkos is safely their captain for the next eight seasons. Kucherov is staying put. Heck, even Jonathan Drouin’s trade request is rescinded. And the Lightning’s collective mood has shifted from stormy to sunny.
That applies to Stamkos internally and externally. Over the past season he dealt with the constant contract rumors, lingering questions about his health since breaking his leg in 2013 and, lastly, a major blood clot scare that cost him all but one playoff game. It’s all behind him now. Is this the best he’s felt to start a season in years?
“Yeah,” he said, “coming off the leg injury and what happened at the end of last year. It helped playing in the World Cup, getting some games under your belt and feeling confident. And obviously this year too, with no distractions, just coming in with a clear mind, it all helps toward having fun and being confident. I definitely feel that way right now.”
It appears ‘Peak Stamkos’ showed up to start 2016-17. After his statistical explosion Tuesday, he has five goals and nine points through six games. The five goals equal his career high for the six-game mark of a season. That has to excite Tampa fans given Stamkos’ recent career trends. His goals per game have declined in consecutive seasons, from 0.68 to 0.52 to 0.47. His points per game have slipped three straight years, from 1.08 to 0.88 to 0.83. The natural question to ask was whether Stamkos was merely beginning a decline as he reached his mid-20s. He ripped a career-best 60 goals in 2011-12 at 21 years old. Of the 39 60-goal seasons in NHL history, 26 came from players 25 or younger. That’s two-thirds. Ten came from players 22 or younger. The odds of Stammer matching his best campaign are slim. But is it fair to surmise he’s done as an elite scorer after slipping to just 36 goals in 2015-16?
Not yet. Stamkos’ sizzling start to 2016-17 supports his own theory he’s back to his best self, healthier than he has been in years and free of the mental albatross of contract rumors. Cooper sees a promising side effect, too.
“The other thing is, he’s shooting the puck,” Cooper said. “When someone of his caliber keeps shooting pucks, good things are going to happen, and that’s what’s happening right now.”
Cooper isn’t just tossing out approximations. Stamkos through six games averages a whopping 3.83 shots per contest. It’s obviously a small sample size, but 3.83 would be a career-best rate. We’re clearly seeing a rejuvenated No. 91.
So while Stammer likely never cracks 60 goals again, he’s not done contending for the Rocket Richard Trophy. Four years ago, another dominant goal scorer appeared to be exiting his prime. He’d slipped into the 30-goal bracket two straight years. He couldn’t get on the same page as his coaches. He turned 27 before 2012-13 began, and plenty of ink was spilled with stories asking what was wrong with him.
That player: Alex Ovechkin, who has since led the NHL in goals four straight seasons. Stamkos is a year younger than the “washed up” Ovie was four years ago and feels better than ever. We may thus look back on 2016-17 as the year Stamkos rejoined the sport’s elite.
Matt Larkin is a writer and editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to thn.com. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin