7 December 2009

Red Wings - Rangers: Disappointment Pending

Yes, another in-game blog for no good reason

This week’s subject: Detroit Red Wings @ New York Rangers in the latest instalment of this highly-competitive (the Rangers roughly 1-for-the-last-145) Original Six match-up.


Thanks to unresolved televisual hardware issues chez LW, tonight’s clash is to be watched via (legit) online stream…As is customary, it turns out I’m getting the non-Rangers broadcast (grr), so I’m faced with FSN Detroit’s Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond

A handful of 3rd/4th liners are highlighted in the preview…As if the Rangers would ever let a few no-name grinders dominate the game…The Wings are apparently 10-1 against the Rangers since 1999, so much better than I thought…Damned if I can remember anything about that “1” though

1st Period

Goaltending match-up: Jimmy Howard vs Henrik Lundqvist…Howard’s idol growing up was apparently Mike Richter – a fine choice…Coincidentally, Lundqvist’s bedroom as a child was covered with posters of Tim Cheveldae…Due to the Titanic NBA clash between the Nets (1-18) and Knicks (5-15) at MSG earlier in the day, bad ice is expected at MSG for possibly the first time in history

Quiet start…Abdelkader takes a roughing penalty six minutes in…A caption shows that we will be watching the best home PP against the worst road PK (the Wings somehow running at less than 70% away from home)…Of course, the penalty is killed off easily, the 2008/09 Rangers PP again appears to be gracing the ice tonight

A huge scramble in Lundqvist’s crease somehow ends up with the puck squirting right across the goal-line, avoiding several waiting sticks and skates…Few decent shots are reaching either goalie though…The Datsyuk/Zetterberg line keeps the puck in the Rangers’ end for what seems like a shift of around 8-9 minutes at even strength…The shift ends with a hooking call against popular ex-Wing, Sean Avery

Redmond wonders if any Swedish is being spoken between Tomas Holmström and Lundqvist as they are inches away from each other during the PP…Hmm, possibly…

  • “Hej, Henke. Tycker du om Basshunter?”
  • “Nej, Homer. Jag hatar honom. Men Roxette är jättebra. Jag kan inte se pucken!”
Lundqvist stands firm against several chances, despite now playing so deep in his goal, he is positioned behind the net-cam…The penalty is killed off

GOAL 1-0 Rangers (15:56)…Behemoth Brian Boyle tips in a centering pass from Chris Higgins…Against type, a strong drive to the net from Boyle gets rewarded as Abdelkader can’t get position on him

1st Intermission

Studio analyst Larry Murphy blames Ericsson for poor coverage and a lack of communication for the goal…Try a different network before blaming your phone, Larry…More references to the bad ice, just in case the 19 minutes of game-time spent by Daniels and Redmond in the first period weren’t quite enough to get the point across…Some brief NBA highlights reveal that the Pistons have a Swedish player!…Is there some sort of special tax break for Swedes in Detroit?

2nd Period

As we come back, a clip of an ovation for the watching Brendan Shanahan is shown…Possibly the only NHL executive to ever get that kind of treatment at MSG…At an early face-off, Avery bumps fellow fan-favourite Todd Bertuzzi a couple of times, saying little but flashing his familiar black gumshield grin…Maybe Sean should pick on somebody who is far more likely to take an undisciplined penalty than the notoriously placid Bertuzzi

Ericsson hooks a streaking Ryan Callahan from behind on a clean breakaway – penalty shot given…Callahan makes a pretty good move on the penalty shot, but Howard extends his left pad just far enough to save at the post…In a rare shift, Enver Lisin gets three shots off, but this merely shows his usual lack of finish…Apparently it is soon the 60th birthday of the Zamboni…of course, rinks were resurfaced in the 1940s by Chris Chelios dragging a metal bar behind him during pre-game warmups

FSN Detroit remind their viewers of the Rangers’ glorious recent history by showing a flashback to the 1994 Cup win…Still no doubt lagging behind the 20 times this will have been shown already tonight on the home MSG coverage (“The MSG Network: Where it’s 1994 every year!”)…Lundqvist makes a big stop on Zetterberg, but still a very quiet game overall, with a lot of offsides…Marc Staal takes a roughing penalty on Holmström (no prizes for guessing the location of the offence)

GOAL 1-1 (11:59)…A pretty routine kill, but four seconds after the penalty expires, Datsyuk squeezes a rebound through Lundqvist

Mike Del Zotto springs Higgins on another clean break, but Howard comes up with a big save…Still few great chances at either end as the period winds down…Marián Gáborík, in particular, has not been able to show much so far

2nd Intermission

Murphy suggests that Ericsson is lacking in confidence at the moment…Certainly, nobody would be stopping him in the street to ask for an autograph on the evidence of the first two periods…We are treated to a brief Shanahan interview…He says he starts his new job in the morning – no word on how long he has to fetch coffee for Gary Bettman and Bill Daly before progressing onto bigger things

3rd Period

Back-to-back stops early in the period by Lundqvist on Zetterberg and Datsyuk…Brad Stuart crushes Artem Anisimov with a clean hit at the blue line…As much as I think the blame on head shots that typically goes to the victim is way overblown, Anisimov really has to keep his head up in those situations…Zetterberg sticks his knee out a bit and catches Avery…sold a little bit by Avery, but clearly a penalty (it must be if the refs call something in Avery’s favour), despite the odd claims from Daniels and Redmond that it was a hip-check

During the PP, Aleš Kotalík misses a wide open goal on a broken play…Again, no success on the PP, but soon after, Bertuzzi comes through with the expected undisciplined penalty, clipping MDZ in the face with his stick…Another PP, another missed open goal – this time, Avery failing to finish by the crease following a rare passing play by the weak second unit

After a whole 28 seconds at even strength, the Wings go short again, Kris Draper called for tripping…by now, Redmond is railing against the inconsistency of the calls…On the bright side, the WIngs’ road PK is now running above the 70% mark…It increases further after another 2008 PP retrospective from the Rangers

Redmond remarks that the players “are playing like they have brooms in their hands”…I think it’s another reference to the effects of the bad ice, but he won’t know that the Rangers forwards always look like that…Avery drives hard to the net from the left-wing, leading to some confusion over where the puck ended up, as Avery claims a goal…A good time to go to commercials then…As we come back, the replay shows that the puck just bounced into the side netting from the outside

GOAL 2-1 Red Wings (17:57)…A pretty sickening blow as Cleary flings one into Lundqvist’s pads from a horrid angle, the puck somehow pinballing between his feet into the goal…We’ve seen far too many of these from Lundqvist this year – so this is what it’s like to be let down by your goalie…The play was started in the Wings’ end by a typically smooth defensive play and breakout pass by Nick Lidström

The Rangers soon empty the net, but Michal Rozsival is quickly forced into taking an interference penalty to prevent a breakaway and likely ENG for the Wings…Chances over?

GOAL 3-1 Red Wings (19:53)…Draper pots an empty netter on the PP, an assist going to the linesman blocking a Ranger pass up the boards for Draper to pounce on


A dull game in all…not a whole lot going on for long stretches

Another reasonable effort from the Rangers, much improved from the mess of the games a week or two ago, but they remain a team without an identity…They needed to tighten up and have (and now look much more like Tom Renney’s outfit than Team Torts), but pretty much nobody is scoring and they are getting killed by soft goals

The Wings finally win a game that I watch at the fourth attempt this year…Still not hugely impressive, aside from the defensive job they did on Gáborík and the performance of Howard, who is looking like an NHL goalie now (or at least filling the Ty Conklin role until Chris Osgood gets past this season’s regular season troubles)…Too many turnovers and a game that would have been lost to any number of teams with some better scorers

2 December 2009

The Pain Game

Injury stats update – November 2009

[Looking for more up-to-date figures? For my latest update, try HERE.]

This is my second look for the 2009/10 regular season at which teams have been hit hardest by injuries by trying to place a value on the games missed by players due to injury/illness.

(The corresponding analysis as at the end of October 2009 can be viewed HERE.)

The concept again - multiply each game missed by a player by his 2009/10 cap charge, then take the aggregate of these figures for each team and divide by 82. This indicator of value lost to a team by injury/illness is called CHIP (Cap Hit of Injured Players).

Exciting new developments...

Following up on one or two suggestions that time on ice per game could be a better (or at least a different) indicator of player "value", I've made an attempt at illustrating a similar metric based on TOI/G alongside the CHIP numbers.

While acknowledging cap charge is a less than perfect measure of player, with a number of limitations and inconsistencies, I'm not totally sold on TOI/G as being any better overall (Tom Poti is more valuable to the Capitals than Alex Ovechkin. Discuss.) - it does provide a decent comparison and the results do vary from the CHIP rankings somewhat.

A quick summary of the new metric:

  • TOI/G (through games played on 30 November) replaces cap charge as the measure of value in the calculation
  • For goalies, TOI/G has been worked out as Total Minutes Played / Games Dressed For - i.e. a goalie playing every minute of 75% of the games, zero in the rest, would end up with a TOI/G of 45 minutes (or close to it, once you factor in OT and so on)
  • This arguably overstates the worth of starting goalies somewhat, but it's simple and you could equally argue that a workhorse goalie is the hardest position to replace, so it's fair for them to have a much higher TOI/G figure
  • Where a player hasn't played all year (e.g. Pavol Demitra, Mike Van Ryn) or where a player fairly clearly has a reduced TOI/G figure due to getting injured in their only game or one of very few games (Andrei Markov, Kurt Sauer), I've used TOI/G from last season (or further back if necessary)
  • For each player, multiply games missed by TOI/G to get (for a more palatable name) Cumulative Minutes of Injured Player (CMIP)
  • Take the aggregate of CMIP for the team and divide by games played by the team to arrive at AMIP (Average Minutes of Injured Players) - it feels more understandable expressing this metric as an average per game (whereas CHIP is a running total)
The figures...

The table below shows:

  • Total CHIP for each team over the first two months of the 2009/10 regular season (through games played on 30 November)
  • The player who has contributed most to the team's CHIP figure
  • The number of players with a CHIP contribution of over $250,000 (think of it as being equivalent to a $1m player missing 20 games or a $4m player missing five games)
  • Movement in CHIP ranking since 31 October
  • AMIP for each team over the same period (e.g. an AMIP of 40:00 could be seen as the team missing two 20-minute per game players for every game this season)

10 second analysis...

Something in the water in Canada this year? The Flames are seemingly immune from the troubles afflicting their western Canadian brethren - being first in line at the clinic does have some advantages, it seems.

As bad as the Oilers and Canucks have had it, both teams are still behind the pace of the worst hit teams from last year - the Blues ended up with a CHIP figure for the year in excess of $16m. While the CHIP figures are pretty close for the two teams (the Canucks are actually marginally ahead on a per-game basis), the AMIP figures show a much bigger "win" for the Oilers. This appears to be largely due to a greater number of minute-munching defensemen getting hurt compared to the Canucks, whose biggest CHIP contributions come from Demitra and Daniel Sedin, who play less than top-four D-men.

Two teams that stand out as having inflated AMIP numbers relative to the CHIP ranking are the Thrashers and Islanders. Both of these teams have had starting goalies out for the whole year - though trying to find a season where Lehtonen and DiPietro have some sort of consistent appearance history to base a reliable TOI/G on is a task in itself...

Conversely, the Rangers fall down the rankings on the AMIP basis - perhaps suggesting some of their players have grossly inflated cap numbers. Who knew?

The Panthers will surely rise up both tables quickly if Keith "Slasher" Ballard can't remedy his directional anger issues.

The next lists are the top 30 individual CHIP and CMIP contributions:

Markov continues to lead the CHIP race but the brotherhood of injury-prone goalies leaps ahead of him on the CMIP basis.


  • Figures include (and are arguably distorted by) some players on long-term IR, such as Mike Rathje (there’s a fair argument that Rathje shouldn’t be on here, since I can’t imagine he’ll either play again or that the Flyers are missing him - and his TOI/G number from 1973/74 when he last played is clearly overstating his value a touch). They do exclude a few minor-leaguers who are or had been on the NHL club’s IR since pre-season
  • There are undoubtedly a few inaccuracies and inconsistencies in there - I did the best I could with the information out there. Some corrections are picked up month-to-month too
  • The cap figure doesn't really correlate very well to the "worth" of a player in some cases, e.g. where rookie bonuses are included this year, where players are seeing out an old (underpaid or rookie) contract or where players are horrendously overpaid
  • Also, for any player who was acquired on re-entry waivers (e.g. Sean Avery, Randy Jones), the cap hit will only reflect that for their current team, i.e. 50% of the player’s full cap hit (shared between his current and old teams)
  • I've once again stuck a full team-by-team listing of games missed and CHIP/CMIP numbers by each player on the web HERE
  • Injury/games/TOI info courtesy of tsn.ca and nhl.com
  • Cap info courtesy of hockeybuzz.com and capgeek.com

8 November 2009

Six hours on Sunday

Another in-game blog

In what was possibly just a mechanism to ensure I stayed awake long enough to watch the game I wanted to watch, I made the rash decision to add to my highly irregular series of posted-after-the-fact in-game blogs.

On the slate: CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader from last night – or really, Sunday morning for me. (Two games, from midnight to 6am? Not done it for a while, so why not?)

First up
, Detroit Red Wings @ Toronto Maple Leafs in the Hockey Hall of Fame game, followed by New York Rangers @ Calgary Flames in the “Sean Avery Returns To Where He Said Bad Things” game.


As is common, the start of my broadcast is delayed by some thrilling college football action…Fortunately, the final 3 1/2 minutes of the game is actually completed within 10 minutes of real time, which is at least 20 minutes fewer than normal

Eventually we join the start of the ceremony at the ACC honouring the impending Hall of Fame inductees…A series of now-hobbling veterans slowly take to the ice…And after the Red Wings have finished skating on, we are introduced to the Hall of Famers in attendance tonight [cheap gag #1 out of the way]…this year’s inductees are then brought out: Brett Hull, Lou Lamoriello (I think the crowd were shouting “Lou”, but hard to tell), Brian Leetch (*bows down*), Luc Robitaille and Steve Yzerman (clearly the most popular with the home crowd)…All the ex-players look like they could still hit the ice, except for Hull, whose appearance suggests he’s glad to be free from the dietary restrictions of his playing days

The game is to be called by Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson in the booth, with shy, retiring Glenn Healy in the Pierre McGuire Memorial Shouting Zone between the

1st Period

Chris Osgood and Jonas “The Monster” Gustavsson between the pipes…A caption reveals the Leafs to have “White Finger” on defense – a nasty condition, that might explain some of the bad giveaways we see from the home team

A couple of early Leaf chances – Jason Blake, in a rare moment of non-goalie-running, hits the post from a bad angle with the net open…The Wings begin to exert some control with a few strong shifts towards the 10-minute mark, but…

GOAL 1-0 Leafs (10:34)
…Wayne (not Keith) Primeau beats Osgood from the off-wing after Kris Draper tripped over himself at the blueline…Primeau’s first goal in 45 games…First point of the year for Colton (definitely not Bobby) Orr…Sometimes you just have to accept it when superstar players beat you on a goal…Also the first time the Leafs have scored first in a game since around 1983

A decent pace and no penalties through 15 minutes…Healy mentions that the Swedish Olympic orientation camp consisted of a trip to a U2 gig rather than the days of on-ice stuff the Canadians put themselves through – no Basshunter?! [Obligatory Basshunter reference out of the way]…Todd Bertuzzi takes a holding penalty – I’m guessing that isn’t his first in 45 games…Reference is made to Tomáš Kaberle’s impressive points haul this year – he must be making some genius look good for picking him up in the 15th and 16th rounds of his fantasy drafts

GOAL 2-0 (19:34)
…Phil Kessel nets his first as a Leaf, tapping home from 1” out after Blake pokes a shot through Osgood’s legs…Kessel’s deadly wristshot on display there

1st Intermission

A more sombre Coach’s Corner than usual…Don Cherry presents his 5-point plan to reduce injuries from hitting then leads into an extended tribute to fallen Canadian troops (being the day before Remembrance Sunday)…Link HERE

2nd Period

The Leafs return to an ear-splitting roar from the heaving throng in platinum seats (er, perhaps)…A dodgy holding the stick call on Cherry’s favourite Ukrainian, Alexei Ponkahonksy…The Leafs PK is running at 70.7%! And it’s “getting better”, according to Hughson…I’d hope so…A good job Brian Burke’s teams always play so disciplined then, eh?…It’s killed off, but the Leafs right away get called for too many men on the ice

GOAL 3-0 (5:21)
…As the penalty expires, Jeff Finger roofs one on a 3-on-2 rush…Another first goal of the year – Messrs Schenn, Wallin, Komisarek and Orr smell blood

Jason Williams goes down in ugly fashion at the end boards…Replays show his leg getting mangled right under him…He’s helped off the ice – looks very nasty…The Monster is playing well, but he’s not been under huge pressure…A clip is shown of Brad May coaching his 13-year-old son on his shot – May Jr might have to be in the line-up if Wings keep falling at the same rate…Bertuzzi has a son called Tag?!

Interference call on Draper…Nothing doing on the Leafs PP…Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are now taking regular shifts together…Hughson and Simpson refrain from shouting “Two-Headed Monster!” every five seconds like those idiots Steigerwald and Errey do whenever Crosby and Malkin play together [obligatory shot at Penguins out of the way]…High-stick call on Mikhail Grabovski within the last two minutes…Williams has apparently been taken for X-rays and won’t return (no surprise there)

2nd Intermission

Mike Milbury due up! Joy!…He’s with David Shoalts and Pierre LeBrun with Ron MacLean on popular rumour mill, The Hotstove…Entertainment is provided by LeBrun’s demonstration of a prototype helmet-within-a-helmet (think a 70s, Butch Goring-style lid underneath a present-day model)…noted progressive Milbury simply laughs at it and is entirely unsympathetic…Milbury’s contribution to the regular headshot debate also largely boils down to: “Why are we talking about this again? It’s done. It’s not an issue.”

3rd Period

Two big stops by Monstret as the PP continues…Luke Schenn takes a penalty for interfering with Tomas Holmström (shockingly, in front of the Leafs goal), giving a brief 5-on-3 PP to the Wings…Another huge save on Zetterberg on the PK – the natives become restless and clamour for Vesa Toskala

GOAL 3-1 (5:59)
…Dan Cleary scores his 100th career goal after being sprung clear by a nice saucer pass from Brian Rafalski…Comeback on?

GOAL 4-1 (9:22)
…No comeback then…After a too many men call on the Wings, John Mitchell tips in a Kessel wrister on the PP, right after Kessel is stoned by Osgood after a perfect set-up from the Wings’ Darren Helm

No Mike Komisarek on the Leafs bench, according to Simpson, speculating that he was injured blocking a shot…Niklas Hagman is taken down while driving hard to the net – penalty on Brett Lebda

GOAL 5-1 (12:44)
…Ponkahonsky shovels a backhand through Osgood’s five-hole…Lebda (now out of the box) not impressing Healy tonight

Mitchell takes a slashing penalty…not important enough for a replay to be shown, but Mitchell’s reaction in the box suggests he is not effin’ pleased with the call…Again, the penalty is killed off by the All-World Leafs PK unit…Update on Komisarek: a clip of a missed hip-check from the second period is shown – Healy surmises that his hip or tailbone (?) is hurt…The game drifts to its conclusion…


The Leafs actually looked like an NHL team – waaaay better than the team I saw implode in New York a few weeks ago…Conversely, the Wings are still struggling at both ends of the ice…The Monster was very good and will get the attention, but he didn’t have to steal the game


Before the real game of the night, there’s just enough time for Cherry to (a) state that New Jersey’s 100% road record is due to them having hardly any European players (yawn); (b) call Leafs fans that were booing a couple of weeks ago “jerks”; and (c) give grudging credit for the Leafs' change in fortunes to “Gufterson”

Disappointingly quiet on the Avery front so far…Usually CBC spend at least 45 minutes bemoaning his existence…A confirmed broken leg for Jason Williams…In other injury news, Cam Ward is said to be in hospital after taking a skate to the groin…Will there be any players left in the league by April? Maybe only cockroaches will survive…Avery versus Steve Ott for the Stanley Cup then?

The Rangers-Flames “tilt” (© Joe Beninati) is to be called by Mark Lee and legendary former Rangers starter-cum-backup-cum-outcast, Kevin Weekes

1st Period

Steve Valiquette is in again for the Rangers, with Henrik Lundqvist resting a (hopefully) minor injury…Miikka Kiprusoff in nets as usual for the Flames

Second shift of the game and Captain Clutch (to the hockey world at large) / Captain Invisible (to Rangers fans), Chris Drury is suddenly face-down on the ice…The replay shows that he was blindsided away from the play by a pretty cheap looking hit by Curtis Glencross…Drury gets up looking very woozy…New-found goal-machine, Chris Higgins is stoned by Kiprusoff

GOAL 1-0 Flames (3:56)
…An Adam Pardy point shot is deflected by Daymond Langkow’s leg past a screened Valiquette…Game over already then, so I’m off to bed

OK, I’ll persevere…A Glen Sather sighting!…Looking confused? Check. Eating a cigar? Check. Yep, it’s definitely him…Pantomime villain Avery is predictably booed as he gets a touch of the puck…Weekes says that he looks tentative and (because?) he has changed to using white tape on his stick blade…The Rangers are actually carrying much of the play, against expectations – I’m still going for a 5-1 loss at this point though

GOAL 1-1 (17:16)
…Another screened point shot finds its way into the net, this time from Dan Girardi…Good job I scrapped my planned earlier comment about how Girardi struggles to get his shots past shot-blocking forwards

An amusing moment, as Lee innocently says to Weekes (who lost his starting and backup jobs with the Rangers to the current incumbents): “Valiquette is the perfect backup for Lundqvist, isn’t he?”…The action resumes before Weekes has a chance to respond, sadly

1st Intermission

In an interview, Langkow says: “We were sloppy in our own end.”…a fine choice of words in the circumstances…More Milbury! He’s joined by Kelly Hrudey, clearly only working the West game, despite being in the studio in Toronto…Hrudey gives props to Prospal – liking Vinny’s surprisingly effective defensive play…The guys take another look at the Glencross/Drury incident…Hrudey calls it “dirty” before squirming out of it somewhat as MacLean and Milbury unsurprisingly defend it over subsequent viewings…Milbury, of course, calls it an “innocent” play

2nd Period

No return for Drury, as reporter Scott Oake notes he has had at least three concussions in the last five years…Lee gets excited by a clip of an almost-hit by Phaneuf on Avery in the first period…Er, nothing there at all, Mark

Enver Lisin breaks René Bourque’s stick with a slash and sits for it…On the PP, Brandon Dubinsky blocks a hard shot with his hand/wrist – once he can get off, he goes straight to the room…Great…Wade Redden takes a typically lazy interference penalty, putting the Rangers down two men for the 1,394th time this season…Ryan Callahan immediately breaks his stick on the 5-on-3, but the Rangers survive, in part due to a great shot-block by Girardi

The Flames’ David Moss picks up a weak interference call (like I care)…Big-shooting Aleš Kotalik crashes one off the crossbar…No PPG on this occasion for the Rangers – almost surprising when they don’t score these days, which is faintly unnerving…Robyn Regehr heads to the room after taking a shot to the foot – Don King starts making arrangements with the agents for Avery and Ott…Craig Conroy gets cut by a stray stick, but the refs miss it and play continues until Bourque takes a cross-checking penalty around 30 seconds later…Wait, now they call the high-stick too? Can the linesmen call that? (Apparently so, but it came across like they only called it after Conroy complained enough and/or they’d seen it on replay.)

GOAL 2-1 Flames (16:47)
…Jarome Iginla wrists a PPG past Valiquette from a nice centering feed from ex-Ranger midget, Nigel Dawes

Kiprusoff makes a big stop on Lisin after a bad giveaway by Phaneuf in his own zone, then two more quickly on Higgins…Langkow gets called for slashing in the last two minutes…Yet more stops by Kipper during the PP…Weekes shows that Valiquette took a big snow-shower in the face right before Iginla scored

2nd Intermission

Just a brief highlights round-up, Milbury’s participation mercifully ending, with ex-Ranger midget P.J. Stock putting a shift in from his CBC cupboard

3rd Period

Confirmation that Dubinsky is not returning…I’ll be surprised if his hand isn’t broken…Brian Boyle as a #2 center? Great…Another interference call on Moss after Langkow’s return…Again, several good chances for the Rangers on the PP, but more key saves by Kiprusoff…A 200ft bouncer gives Valiquette some trouble, but hardly the near-miss that Lee seemed to see in his excitement

A feisty shift at last from Avery…He ends up taking a fairly decent hit from Phaneuf, but again not the massive collision that Lee described (which he acknowledges after a second look)…Olli Jokinen hits the post as the puck bounces back to him after a botched 3-on-1 break…A rare attack by the Flames at this point…Kotalik fails to convert a 2-on-1 rush with Higgins as Moss backchecks strongly (and avoids taking an interference penalty this time)…Girardi is “putting on a clinic” according to Weekes…The Flames immediately check into Girardi’s clinic to get priority vaccination against cancer and HIV

GOAL 3-1 (16:35)
…A Marc Staal giveaway leads to another 3-on-1 the other way and an exchange of passes results in Bourque putting the game away…Dawes racks up his third assist of the night (24 assists in 121 games as a Ranger…grrr)

Valiquette is pulled with 2:30 left in the game…one last big save from Avery by Kiprusoff, but no major scares for the Flames…


A surprisingly strong effort from the Rangers in the circumstances…Just couldn’t get anything by Kiprusoff…If Drury (despite his ongoing invisibility) and Dubinsky (despite his ongoing inconsistency) are gone for any length of time – and it looks like they will be – big problems down the middle for the Rangers…Not that impressed by Calgary (unlike Lee and Weekes), but a good thing to win when not doing much…They’ve clearly been (re)Sutter-fied a great deal since last year

7 November 2009

Ow, that really hurts! - an addendum

Further to the October update on CHIP numbers (HERE), I figured it wouldn’t be that difficult to produce some sort of basic analysis on where all these NHLers have been getting hurt. Er, obviously meaning what part of the body, not the location of the game in which the injury occurred (of course, the latter would merely confirm that the vast majority occurred in Philadelphia…)

The results (again covering games played through 31 October) are in the table below. I’ve just used the descriptions found in the player profiles on tsn.ca, so the figures will encompass all the inaccuracies and vagueness within them. It should give a broad indication, if nothing else, though.

I’m no doctor, so I’m not really sure what conclusions can be drawn from this, other than:
  • Confirming the general evasiveness of NHL teams when it comes to detailed injury disclosure
  • Suggesting groin strains are at least as contagious in NHL dressing rooms as H1N1 or outrageous facial hair

2 November 2009

Ow, that really hurts!

Injury stats update – October 2009

[Looking for more up-to-date figures? For my latest update, try HERE.]

This is my first look for the 2009/10 regular season at which teams have been hit hardest by injuries by trying to place a value on the games missed by players due to injury/illness.

(My most recent piece on this, for the end of the 2008/09 regular season, can be viewed HERE.)

The concept again - multiply each game missed by a player by his 2009/10 cap charge, then take the aggregate of these figures for each team and divide by 82. This indicator of value lost to a team by injury/illness is called CHIP (Cap Hit of Injured Players).

The table below shows:

  • Total CHIP for each team over the first month of the 2009/10 regular season (through games played on 31 October)
  • The player who has contributed most to the team's CHIP figure
  • The number of players with a CHIP contribution of over $250,000 (think of it as being equivalent to a $1m player missing 20 games or a $4m player missing five games)

Some familiar players feature (Hello, Messrs DiPietro, Modin and Gaborik!), but at this stage, the teams worst hit aren’t too similar to those that ended up at the top of the table last year.

Interesting to note, however, that the four healthiest teams from 2008/09 (Rangers, Coyotes, Kings and Ducks) are again towards the right end of the table so far in 2009/10. WIll this last, or will certain factors – Gaborik, agoraphobia, tripping over Ryan Smyth’s hair and a robust style of play, respectively – hinder these teams’ efforts to remain healthy all year?

The second list (as usual) is the top 30 individual CHIP contributions:

Markov is gone for a while, so expect him to lead this race for some time. Elias and Kessel (among others) are said to be on their way back. DiPietro? I reckon the Islanders might yet acquire three or four more goalies this year, just to make sure.


  • Figures include (and are arguably distorted by) some players on long-term IR, such as Mike Rathje (there’s a fair argument that Rathje shouldn’t be on here, since I can’t imagine he’ll either play again or that the Flyers are missing him). They do exclude a few minor-leaguers who seem to be on the NHL club’s IR
  • There's probably a few inaccuracies and inconsistencies in there - I did the best I could with the information out there
  • The cap figure doesn't really correlate very well to the "worth" of a player in some cases, e.g. where rookie bonuses are included this year, where players are seeing out an old (underpaid or rookie) contract or where players are horrendously overpaid
  • Also, for any player who was acquired on re-entry waivers (e.g. Sean Avery, Randy Jones), the cap hit will only reflect that for their current team, i.e. 50% of the player’s full cap hit (shared between his current and old teams)
  • I've once again stuck a full team-by-team listing of games missed and CHIP numbers by each player on the web HERE - knock yourself out...
  • Injury/games info courtesy of tsn.ca
  • Cap info courtesy of hockeybuzz.com and capgeek.com

4 October 2009

NHL Premiere 2009 in Stockholm – Day Two

St. Louis Blues 5-3 Detroit Red Wings, 3 October 2009

Friday night’s season opener saw the Blues withstand some early dominance by the Wings to overturn a two-goal deficit in the second period with some opportunistic finishing, then hold on with some comfort in a more defensive third period. Game two on Saturday featured…well, pretty much the same thing in the end, strangely enough.

As before (see HERE), the following is merely a fairly unfocused stream of observations and highlights plus a fairly unfocused stream of amateur photographs. (I did manage to venture down to the glass – or near to it, at least – for warm-ups this time. I happened to be at the Wings’ end, hence the uneven spread of shots. No anti-Blues bias intended.)

  • Expert planner that I am, meal time is once again spent in the Arena. A 77kr hot dog/drink combination providing far greater VFM than Friday’s caviar and pheasant.

  • A second Håkan Andersson interview still doesn’t illuminate me any. Still seems like a decent bloke though.

  • Culture vulture that I am (ahem), I should note that pre-game entertainment came courtesy of Swedish 80s rock throwbacks Bullet, an example of whose work can be found HERE. (Friday saw the not dissimilar Backyard Babies take the stage.) The crowd again are left mystified and disappointed by the absence of native Eurodance leviathan, Basshunter.

  • An brief appearance by Mats Sundin in one corner of the rink, for a TV interview, starts a mild commotion in the crowd. A subsequent Darren Pang sighting in the same place does not.

  • The newly-decisive Sundin later carries out the ceremonial puck drop, receiving a huge standing ovation from the crowd, who are clearly expressing relief that the next three months will be free of “Where will Mats play?” speculation.

  • Battle of the backups tonight, as Ty Conklin and Jimmy Howard start.

  • The Wings almost overwhelm the Blues in the first few minutes, taking a 2-0 lead and having another negated by a high-stick call. Conklin is quickly getting reacquainted with Tomas Holmström’s (and Dan Cleary’s) rear end.

  • A much more physical game than Friday’s – Backes, Tkachuk and Stuart prominent playing the body.

  • A big PP goal late in the first by Tkachuk keeps the Blues in the game.

  • The game turns on two quick goals in the second period for the Blues – both clear scoring chances, but as the cliché goes, both efforts Howard “would like to have back”.

  • A rare cheer for a Blues player when Patrik Berglund’s goal is announced.

  • Again, the Blues aren’t put under huge pressure in the third period, this time adding an insurance goal (again on the PP – the Wings’ PK still looks a weakness).

  • As one final chance passes, Johan Franzén demolishes his stick against Conklin’s goal. The typical impassive Swede.

3 October 2009

NHL Premiere 2009 in Stockholm – Day One

Detroit Red Wings 3 – 4 St. Louis Blues, 2 October 2009

I’m both incapable and too lazy to (a) do some sort of informative travelogue thing illustrating the delights of Stockholm, or (b) provide an insightful write-up of the game itself, so

The following is merely a fairly unfocused stream of observations and highlights from my attendance at Friday night’s game at Globen Arena in Stockholm, plus a fairly unfocused stream of amateur photographs. (Yes, I wasn’t sat that close. I will see if I can get closer to warmups for game two.)

  • It was probably a mistake to take my chances by waiting to eat once I was inside the Arena. A ropey burger, a huge vat of crisps (potato chips, for the hard of English-speaking out there) and a Coke is standard Arena fare. Not really worth 153kr though – I might rethink my strategy on Saturday…

  • The 100kr programme is nice enough, but I’m a few decades away from being able to understand most of it. Who could argue against it saying Roman Polák “är stark som en oxe” though?

  • Similarly, I’m not sure I followed much of the pre-game interview with Red Wings über-Euroscout Håkan Andersson, but he seemed like a decent bloke.

  • Interviews throughout the evening were conducted by a coach-turned-TV host (apparently) Niklas Wikegård, who couldn’t resist poking fun at the American announcer’s pronunciation of his name (Why-ker-guard rather than Vee-ker-gord).

  • There’s some sort of huge luxury box/restaurant area on my left in the Arena, with a curtain that can be pulled across to cover it. Not in use tonight, but sure to be used when New Jersey and Columbus play here next year.

  • Hearts in mouths for Blues fans as injury-on-skates Carlo Colaiacovo performs a slow-motion stumble into a team-mate and down to the ice during warmups. He turns out to be OK though.

  • Very pro-Wing crowd (a lot more Wings jerseys in evidence around the city before the game too). Lidström and Zetterberg win the popularity contest by a long way.

  • On the Wings’ first goal, referee Bill McCreary sets a perfect pick (maybe throwing in a slight hold too) on the ox-like Polák, allowing Kris Draper to burst to the net untouched.

  • The Wings’ second goal is a short-handed breakaway for Kirk Maltby, nicely finished. These kids Draper and Maltby have some good speed. They could stick in this league.

  • Ville Leino should score some goals this year if his wrist shot is that good.

  • Chris Mason keeps the Blues in the game in the first period then completely robs Johan Franzén in the third to preserve the lead.

  • Markus Näslund is among the celebrities shown in the crowd at one point – he strangely looks bored out of his mind, chewing gum. An expression no doubt honed while playing on the Rangers’ powerplay last year.

19 September 2009

Burning Questions - Western Conference

Following from my recent Eastern Conference run-down (HERE), yet more smouldering queries, this time (shockingly) covering the Western Conference:

Anaheim Ducks
Which writer will first produce an article featuring the Ducks and Bob Murray without using the phrase "retooling on the fly"?

Calgary Flames
Will controversy ensue if/when Darryl Sutter's wife beats out Curtis McElhinney for the backup goalie position?

Chicago Blackhawks
If the Hawks reach the Stanley Cup Final, are they allowed to trade Marian Hossa to their opponents before it starts?

Colorado Avalanche
How many months will pass until Greg Sherman and Joe Sacco can get into Pepsi Center without having to convince the security staff that they really do work there?

Columbus Blue Jackets
Is it some strange Canadian thing that makes all announcers say Monsieur Vermette's first name as "Ann-twon" rather than "Onn-twan"?

Dallas Stars
How long until Sean Avery isn't the sole reason for every game the team loses?

Detroit Red Wings
Has Ken Holland already scouted the foetuses that will be the future team-mates of Zetterberg and Franzén when they hit the final year of their new deals?

Edmonton Oilers
Will the Renney/Quinn good cop/bad cop routine eventually lead their players to break down and confess that none of them want to play in Edmonton either?

Los Angeles Kings
Can Quick and Brown lead the Kings out of their dire era?

Minnesota Wild
Will Don Cherry realise before either retires than Owen Nolan isn't called "Olin Nolan"?

Nashville Predators
Is Alexander Radulov determined to stay in Ufa until he becomes an UFA?

Phoenix Coyotes
Can Jim Balsillie fill the chasm felt by so many Canadian fans by bringing a third non-playoff team to Ontario?

San Jose Sharks
Did Doug Wilson put an appropriate degree of fear into his players by suggesting that Dany Heatley would "give the whole team a lift"?

St. Louis Blues
With a T.J., a B.J. and a D.J. on the depth chart, is a trade for Umberger in the works, or will the Blues entice Axelsson or Stock back to the NHL?

Vancouver Canucks
Will an irreparable hole be torn in the space-time continuum if the Sedins ever have career scoring totals more than two points apart at any time?

17 September 2009

Burning Questions - Eastern Conference

So, it seems like the done thing is for your average NHL writer/columnist to do some sort of "Burning Questions for the 30 NHL Teams" feature (example HERE).

These things rarely ask the questions that I would be asking, were I to be to sitting at home posing rhetorical NHL questions to myself. So, here goes for the Eastern Conference (the West will follow if I feel like it):

Atlanta Thrashers
When will somebody notice that Don Waddell still has a job?

Boston Bruins
Will the Bruins miss Zdeno Chara while he recovers from injuries sustained when hitting his head on the scoreboard during an off-season tour of the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium?

Buffalo Sabres
Is this the year Tim Connolly reaches the landmark of 20 career NHL games?

Carolina Hurricanes
Will Jim Rutherford ever move on?

Florida Panthers
Will somebody actually paying to attend a Panthers game be the first sign of a turnaround in the global economy?

Montreal Canadiens
Will the annual team bonding trip to Disney World be ruined when half the players are not allowed to go on the rides?

New Jersey Devils
Will Newark's infrastructure cope with the impending stampede of hockey fans desperate to catch a glimpse of the second coming of Lemaire's Devils?

New York Islanders
Is Marty Biron the backup goalie or the backup GM?

New York Rangers
What will snap first: Avery's leash, Gaborik's groin or Tortorella's patience?

Ottawa Senators
Have they cleared enough cap space to take Wade Redden back yet?

Philadelphia Flyers
As both a cheap, stop-gap goalie and a violent nut-job, is Ray Emery the ultimate Flyer?

Pittsburgh Penguins
Has Sid still living in Mario's house yet crossed the line that separates "slightly creepy" from "moderately disturbing"?

Tampa Bay Lightning
Can the signing of 23 new defensemen possibly come close to replacing the mammoth contribution of Marek Malik?

Toronto Maple Leafs
Will Brian Burke and Ron Wilson ever manage to overcome their chronic shyness in front of the media?

Washington Capitals
What will be greater in number: Alex Ovechkin goals or Semyon Varlamov name changes?

9 August 2009

A-to-Z of the NHL off-season

Formal process whereby NHL GMs (agents) tear down (inflate) the performances of a player in front of an independent adjudicator, in order to determine whether said player will be horrendously overpaid or merely generously overpaid for the coming season. Noted humanitarian Mike Milbury famously reduced then-Islanders goalie Tommy Salo to tears at his arbitration hearing - an emotion also induced for many thousands of Islander fans in subsequent years.

Brian Burke
A one-man attempt to liven up the dead period that is the Maple Leafs since 1967...er, I mean the dead period that is the NHL off-season. His bold attempts to (a) draft John Tavares, (b) draft Brayden Schenn, (c) sign Colton Orr to a contract worth less than $4m and (d) pass a microphone without comment, over the last couple of months all ended in glorious but entertaining failure. For that, bored and restless NHL fans of all allegiances are thankful.

English summer game (with parallels to baseball with much lower steroid use and even more incompetent administration). Absolutely no connection to the NHL other than it being the main focus of my sporting attention in the absence of hockey and football, plus the regular appearances of Washington Capitals defenseman Milan Jurčina as an umpire at village games in Gloucestershire.

I could write almost 3,000 words about the NHL Entry Draft. Oh wait, I did...(HERE)

Exit interview
I don't know if NHL teams carry these out when players/coaches/GMs leave or not, but some of the conversations could be interesting:
  • "What are your primary reasons for leaving?"
    Scott Gomez: "Mostly the $51.5m."
  • "Were there any company policies or procedures that made your work more difficult?"
    Tony Granato: "I'd say a pretty poor roster, my best players being injured and you openly trying to hire my replacement before firing me for the second time."
  • "What did you find most frustrating about your job"
    Brent Sutter: "I missed my family. Specifically, my brother Darryl."
Free Agent Frenzy
The natural counterpart to Trade Deadline Trauma. Both feature hastily conceived player transactions, ranging from the inspired (rarely) to the disastrous (more plentiful - hello, Glen Sather), allied to hours upon hours of TV coverage of men in suits playing with their Blackberries. Whereas TDT starts as an often soporific affair, gradually warming up to the deadline climax and the near instant gratification of seeing the players in action within days, FAF starts with a bang ("No, Mr Ohlund, we are not permitted to present you with this complicated legal document prior to noon EST. I'm sure you can read, consider and sign it within 15 minutes, though.") and fades away over a day or two until the point where the signing of Andrew Alberts becomes the biggest news of the week.

Revealed to be the favourite off-season pursuit of NHLers in a recent survey, with 99.78% of players saying they were keen golfers (Sean Avery being the lone exception - he would apparently love to play, but wearing the clothing would be "an unthinkable humiliation"). Members of the Florida Panthers and Phoenix Coyotes are said to be particularly good exponents of the sport, due to both their teams' locations and the extra two months' practice available to them each year. The recent exploits of Tom Watson at the Open Championship are also credited with the publicised desire of Chris Chelios to now play in the NHL well into his eighties.

Heatley saga
Dany likes Bryan. Bryan likes Dany. They agree to be together for a long time. Bryan employs Cory. Dany doesn't like Cory, so Dany wants to leave Bryan. Dany tells everyone he wants to leave Bryan before he tells Bryan. Bryan no longer likes Dany. Bryan sets up Dany with his friend Steve who's very keen on Dany. Dany flirts with Steve, but at the last minute, Dany gets cold feet and stays with Bryan while still wanting to leave Bryan. Dany and Bryan's boss Eugene isn't happy that he still has to pay Dany while he's around. Some of Bryan's other friends (including Glen, who's interested in everybody) are kind of interested in Dany, but Bryan and Eugene don't want to give Dany up so easily. Dany, Bryan and Eugene stay unhappy. For now.

Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament
If you're going to watch an U-18 international hockey tournament held in August in the towns of Hodonín and Piešťany, most hockey observers reckon it should be this one. So named following the death in 2001 of any hope of Europeans being taken seriously as candidates for NHL head coaching positions.

Judge Redfield T. Baum
Owner of a spectacularly good name, Judge RTB is one of the key players in this summer's headline event: Who should own the Coyotes and where should they play? (Otherwise known as Bettman vs The Entire Nation of Canada or The Rules vs Balsillie's Bottomless Pit of Cash/Ego.) Solely responsible for the 548% increase in applications to study bankruptcy law at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Sergei Zubov? да! Jaromir Jágr? да! Jiří Hudler? да! Alexander Radulov? да! Friendly cooperation with Gary Bettman and the NHL? нет!

Late night habits
No, not a reference to the nocturnal activities of players in their time off (see the next entry for that), but the phenomenon of European NHL fans regularly staying up past 2am even when they have no reason to, just because they've screwed their body clocks up so much over the rest of the year.

Mischief and misdemeanours
Although reports concerning the off-season pursuits of NHLers generally appear to contain far fewer references to dead bodies, dog fights, strippers, firearms and egomaniacal self-publicising (or any combination thereof) than those of their NFL and NBA brethren, the relative freedom afforded to players while outside the clutches of a tightly-knit group of team-mates and a disciplined coaching staff does lead to the odd minor scrape with justice on occasion. The under-age Staal brothers and a "lively" bachelor party, Peter Worrell kicking a police car window (18 months before dreaming up his ingenious plan of telling the cops he was the slightly whiter and slightly shorter Andreas Lilja when arrested) and now the multi-millionaire Patrick Kane allegedly going postal on a cab driver over 20 cents - all part of the rich tapestry of NHL off-season life...

Neck and neck
The off-season has surely been one of the favourite points of the entire year for fans (both of them) in Long Island, Phoenix, Atlanta and Florida in recent years - when else can they say that their teams have in a tie for a playoff place for three straight months?

Offer sheet
Legitimate team-construction tool permitted by the CBA or nefarious tactic under-used by colluding group of GMs unwilling to upset or risk ridicule by Brian Burke?

Press conference
While falling some way short of the fanaticism/idiocy of some European football fans when faced with the unveiling of a new player (see HERE), the appearance of that newly-signed injury-riddled winger or traded-for violent goofball defenseman in your team's jersey for the first time brings only hope and joy to the NHL fan. Even if the player and/or GM normally treat the media with undisguised misery and contempt during the season, it's usually all smiles at the off-season press conference - good humour that can dissipate extremely quickly on all sides as the player is exposed to be an overpaid, disinterested bum two or three weeks into the new season.

Qualifying offer sheet
Standard piece of documentation (check page 302 of the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement for a thrilling look at what it should look like) necessary to ensure clubs preserve their rights to compensation in respect of their restricted free agent players. Apparently can get held up in the mail in the Chicago area - should always be marked "Private and Confidential". Dale Tallon came to regret offering the chance for Denis Savard to stay on as a "special ambassador" in the post room after canning him as coach.

Rookie camp
Annual team ritual where first-year NHL players are compelled to attend team meal and/or board charter flight while wearing the most flamboyant women's clothing to be found. An idea thought to have originated around the time of Sean Avery's first pre-season scrimmage with the Red Wings.

Stanley Cup tour
Of course, the concept of spending a day with the Cup is pretty good and a well-deserved reward, and many players do worthy things when it's their turn. But I'm short on fascination with what Pascal Dupuis or Mike Zigomanis might have done unless they can top Kris Draper's daughter defecating in the thing. Come on guys, the bar was raised! Of course, if Sidney Crosby is anywhere near the Cup, I want to read every last detail of the entire day, however mundane or saccharine. What do you mean he got two days?

If you keep revisiting enough times (four, five times a day...) throughout late July and early August, you too will be among the first to learn about exactly which undrafted college free-agent forwards the Senators have signed to minor league contracts. Anything less frequent than that - you call yourself a fan?

Unlikely comebacks
No off-season seems to go by any more without reading about a veteran player trying to make an unlikely/miraculous return to a once All-Star calibre career after an absence of several years, often in the face of a mountain of scepticism and scrutiny. Claude Lemieux, Theo Fleury, Wade Redden...who will be next?

The transplant of the NHL awards show to Sin City was a brave, attention-seeking move. I, for one, can't think of another place where attracting contemporary superstar artists like Chaka Khan and finding out Jeremy Roenick's eloquence doesn't automatically translate to the ability to read an autocue could've been possible.

Seemingly gone are the days when NHLers returned home to paint the barn or help out on the farm to prepare for the grind of the new season. Instead, players just have enough time to take a quick vacation and play some golf (or to combine the two) before commencing gruelling off-season workouts, often via attendance at a boot camp/Californian retreat run by a sadist, ex-military infomercial star with some distant connection to Chris Chelios. Optional for Kyle Wellwood.

While certainly a year-round activity for some of its more enlightened practitioners, extra cheer is always brought to the anti-Euro crew in the summer months by any non-Canadian returning home ("back where they belong") to play for whatever reason.

Common reflex among NHL fans during the period between June and October. Largely maintained as a local phenomenon in the state of New Jersey between October and June as well.

(It was this or Zamboni...) A reasonably amusing interview with the newly-free Ukrainian enigma (from prior to his recent arbitration hearing) can be found HERE. "I didn't hear any specific reprimands in his address" is probably a fair summary of Torts' placid coaching style and a view shared by scores of players in Tampa Bay and New York, right?

27 June 2009

Is there a draft in here?

A “not-really live” live blog of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft from Montréal, Quebec

This is the second of a possibly irregular series of low-grade scribbles formed as I watch something on TV. Tonight’s effort covers me covering ESPN America’s coverage of the Versus coverage of TSN’s coverage of the festivities of the first round of Le Repêchage 2009 de la LNH.

The opening features a shot of an Islanders fan holding a sign including the phrase “In Garth We Trust” – let’s hope the rest of the evening is as amusingly entertaining as that…Next is an over-dramatic montage of John Tavares, Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene, replete with over-dramatic voice-over by someone trying to sound like the guy who voices film trailers…Did the likes of Dave Chyzowski and Patrik Stefan get the same treatment in years past?…TSN host James Duthie welcomes viewers across Canada and the US…Hey, what about us gutless Euro pukes?!

Duthie quickly throws it down to “Hockey Insider” and general blowhard, Darren Dreger, a man whose every sentence includes news about his “multiple sauces” telling him something…Only me who has images of him whispering to ketchup bottles then?…Anyway, the breaking news is that Chris Pronger has apparently been traded to the Flyers, with details TBC

Even bigger news emerges – TSN have miked up Toronto GM and general blowhard, Brian Burke for the evening…I suspect Burke is too intelligent to give much away, so I doubt we can believe a word he’s saying, but interesting nonetheless…Hopefully, at some point we’ll see a clandestine discussion ending up with a distressed Kevin Lowe sprinting to the podium to announce: “He’s wearing a wire! Shoot him!”

A brief interview with The Big Three doesn’t reveal much…Hedman is tall, none of them know who is going #1 (would they say anything else?)…We go to a shot of Nassau Coliseum – it’s full of people! Is there a garage sale on? An “I was traded away by Mike Milbury and became an All-Star” reunion? A rare sight indeed…We “go upstairs” to join co-host (Sub-host? Vice-host?) Gord Miller, who’s alongside Bob McKenzie and fans’ favourite, Mr Ubiquity Pierre McGuire…P-Mac confidently states/shouts that Tavares should be #1

Boos ring out across Centre Bell – that can only mean the commish has appeared!…Bettman is flanked by Habs greats Yvon Cournoyer and Henri Richard, a human shield of sorts…Bettman manages a smattering of French (horrible accent, even to my untrained ear) and welcomes all the many viewers/listeners, once again failing to acknowledge anybody in Europe

#1 – New York Islanders select John Tavares (London Knights – OHL)
After managing little more than “Bonjour” for the home fans, Garth Snow ushers some Islander lackey (might even be one of their players – who knows?) forward to do the French bit…Snow then ends the suspense by picking Tavares…I await the news from Dreger that Tavares has been traded along with Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo and a first rounder in 2010 for an Alexei Yashin hockey card (condition: fair) and a signed Oleg Kvasha jersey…Tavares shakes the hand of owner Charles Wang…my lip-reading might have failed me, but I’m sure the words “45-year contract” were part of the exchange

More details of the Pronger deal emerge – going to the Ducks are ex-Duck Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and two first round picks…seems like a pretty fair deal on the face of it…Prior to the next pick, Bettman is seen having a quiet word with the Tampa Bay Lightning brain-trust…Something along the lines of “Play nice, boys” perhaps?

#2 – Tampa Bay Lightning select Victor Hedman (MODO – Sweden)
About the only negative thing anyone ever seems to say about Hedman is that he is “not as mean as Pronger” – yeah, but who is?…Duthie diplomatically asks Hedman if he is OK with joining “a team with serious defensive issues”…Hedman diplomatically says he’s OK with it

Back to the floor, as we hear from Brian Burke for the first time…he mentions to Bob Gainey that he’d heard rumours that Vinny Lecavalier was going to be moving to either the Habs or the Isles…Gainey does nothing more than roll his eyes and grunt…classic Burke sh*t-stirring or valuable insight?…a chance for Bettman to hear positive sounds from the crowd: “We have a trade to announce”…he merely fleshes out the Pronger trade – the Flyers also managed to pry out a Ryan Dingle from the Ducks with a conditional pick going the other way…Bettman says “Jeffrey” Lupul – oh dear

#3 – Colorado Avalanche select Matt Duchene (Brampton Battalion – OHL)
Some intern steps up for the Avs..oh, hang on, that’s actually new GM Greg Sherman…after a few words of truly awful French (at least he tried it himself), Sherman predictably goes for Duchene…in his interview with Duthie, Duchene is revealed to be a “stick savant”, reeling off the stick preferences of a few of his future Avs team-mates without a moment’s hesitation

#4 – Atlanta Thrashers select Evander Kane (Vancouver Giants – WHL)
No attempt at French at all from GM Don “still in a job” Waddell…Fascinating Fact: Kane was revealed to have only 7% body fat at the NHL Combine…a weekend on the poutine might have changed that though

#5 – Los Angeles Kings select Brayden Schenn (Brandon Wheat Kings – WHL)
Dean Lombardi and his translator keep everyone guessing by offering a touching 25-minute bilingual tribute to impending Hall of Fame inductee Luc Robitaille…Eventually, the Kings get round to selecting Schenn…an amusing cut-away to Brian Burke shows him barely suppressing a scowl and shaking his head…I suspect the censors might prevent us hearing his immediate thoughts

TRADE: Dreger informs us that the Blue Jackets and Isles have exchanged first round picks, so the Fishsticks will now pick at #16 rather than #26…he also says that Burke is waiting for some movement in the Jay Bouwmeester sweepstakes before committing to anything

#6 – Phoenix Coyotes/Hamilton Hijackers select Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Leksands – Sweden)
After a cheap plug for the sponsors of the Coyotes draft party (money issues in Phoenix?) and no French at all, the Coyotes pick the first of the hyphenated Swedes…P-Mac is officially “not shocked” by the selection

#7 – Toronto Maple Leafs select Nazem Kadri (London Knights – OHL)
Loud boos for the popular Mr Burke – Bettman suddenly feels a bit better…Burke completely eschews the standard thanking of the host team and city (unless the TV coverage just missed it) and picks Kadri…Bryan Murray is officially “pissed off” by the selection…We hear a brief conversation between Burke and Murray from prior to the pick…Paraphrasing slightly, Burke said: “You want Kadri? We’re taking him. Eff you.”…When interviewed, Burke drops the highly-plausible line “My ego isn’t that big”…Sure, Burkie, sure

#8 – Dallas Stars select Scott Glennie (Brandon Wheat Kings – WHL)
No pre-pick spiel at all from the Stars…they spring a minor surprise in picking Glennie…Upstairs, B-Mac suggests that Dmitry Kulikov might be “a slider” due to his Russian-ness…Personally, I’d be happy if he slid all the way to #19

Another brief interview, this time with Ryan Ellis…nothing memorable, except for the fact that he looks about 8 years old

#9 – Ottawa Senators select Jared Cowen (Spokane Chiefs – WHL)
Very little in the way of platitudes from the Senators either…Have Bettman and the networks suggested that everyone speeds things up a bit?…They pick Cowen, who might have fallen a bit over concerns about a major knee injury…Murray tells Duthie that he’s not expecting anything to happen with Dany Heatley tonight

#10 – Edmonton Oilers select Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson (Timrå – Sweden)
The second hyphenated Swede is picked…after a brief flirtation with Svensson-Pääjärvi, apparently everyone has settled on this form of his excellent name…no doubt all NHL announcers will just call him Svensson or Pääjärvi about 10 seconds into his NHL career (Don Cherry, of course, will call him “Puhjovski-Sandstorm” or simply “Lidstrom”)…the Oilers sweater he dons merely says Paajarvi (no umlaut things)…Fascinating Fact: M P-S has his own website – check out www.paajarvi.com

#11 – Nashville Predators select Ryan Ellis (Windsor Spitfires – OHL)
The Preds seemingly continue to build on their formidable collection of blueliners by picking the man-child Ellis…he’s said to have the hardest slapshot in the draft, despite his small frame…training camp contest with Shea Weber?

TRADE: Bettman enjoys the cheers again as he announces that the Islanders have traded up again, taking the Wild’s #12 pick for #16 and a few later round picks

#12 – New York Islanders select Calvin de Haan (Oshawa Generals – OHL)
A bit of a strange move – de Haan was ranked as a late first rounder, so why trade up here to get him?…after his effusive praise of the Isles for turning things around by picking Tavares, first signs of disappointment/shock from P-Mac after this selection, as he calls it “off the board”

Duthie crams in a brief phone conversation with the hated Pronger of the hated Flyers…he is “looking forward to it” apparently…Is your wife looking forward to it though, Chris?…In the stands, we hear a few forgettable words from TSN employee Chicken Parm and draft-eligible Chicken Parm Jr

#13 – Buffalo Sabres select Zack Kassian (Peterborough Petes – OHL)
The midget Sabres pick the sizeable Kassian…a whole three seconds elapse before the first Milan Lucic reference from P-Mac…Kassian is said to be “legit tough”

Back to the floor and a slightly desperate-sounding Dreger…an update on J-Bo (nothing going on)…the Panthers have “nothing on their table” – sounds a touch unfair, since everyone else seems to have drinks, a phone, a little revolving logo ornament…several teams are interested in acquiring impending RFA Ryane Clowe of the Sharks

#14 – Florida Panthers select Dmitry Kulikov (Drummondville Voltigeurs – QMJHL)
B-Mac’s #1 slider is taken…the usual KHL contract issues are discussed by the panel

Stop the press! A Glen Sather sighting!…He’s talking to Bryan Murray while eating his customary cigar…a potential major fleecing of the Rangers in a Heatley deal or just idle fishing chatter?

#15 – Anaheim Ducks select Peter Holland (Guelph Storm – OHL)
Holland picked slightly higher than his rankings, but there’s said to be little consensus after the top 10-12 picks…B-Mac asks “Will he get his nose dirty?”…Hmm, welcome to Anaheim!…Fascinating Fact: Holland has a collection of miniature Zambonis

#16 – Minnesota Wild select Nick Leddy (Eden Prairie – USHS)
P-Mac and B-Mac get fooled by this one – they suspected it would be a home-state pick, but were anticipating Jordan Schroeder…This year’s “Mr Hockey” is the first American selected

#17 – St. Louis Blues select David Rundblad (Skellefteå – Sweden)
Er, struggling for anything to say here…Swede #4 taken so far…Jarmo Kekäläinen is a great name

Cheers of anticipation as the Canadiens are up next…will it be the Quebecer Louis Leblanc or another American prospect for the Habs?…the suggestion of my TV guide that this finished at 2.30am looks a touch optimistic at this point…thanks, Dean Lombardi…Where is Burke? Can we expect audio of him going to the toilet? Ordering pizza? Swearing at Al Strachan?

#18 – Montréal Canadiens select Louis Leblanc (Omaha Lancers – USHL)
Quite a popular choice with the crowd it seems…a chant of “Louis” is heard before he even reaches the stage…no pressure on the poor kid then

#19 – New York Rangers select Chris Kreider (Andover Academy – USHS)
Cheers quickly turn to boos as the evil Rangers step forward…We see a flashback to the 2007 draft and the Rangers’ selection of the late Alexei Cherepanov and Gordie Clark pays a short tribute before picking Kreider…Sather respectfully discards the cigar for a moment, settling for some chewing gum instead while on the stage…Kreider is said to be the best skater in the draft, but always some risk in picking a high school player…the Rangers don’t have a baseball cap for Kreider to wear in the obligatory group photo for some reason

TRADE: The Devils trade up to #20 with the Flames moving down…P-Mac speculates that the Devils really wanted Kreider…such a shame for the Rangers to have disappointed Mr Lamoriello like that

#20 – New Jersey Devils select Jacob Josefson (Djurgården – Sweden)
A “good pick” according to P-Mac…Is there anyone in this draft that he doesn’t like?…Josefson is apparently a solid two-way player…no idea why the Devils are interested then…why are all the Swedes dark-haired?

TRADE: Burke is pictured on the phone shaking his head again…“No, I didn’t want goddamn anchovies!”…the Blue Jackets trade up to get #21 from the Ducks, with the #26 pick going the other way…#26 has now been in the possession of more teams than Mike Sillinger

#21 – Columbus Blue Jackets select John Moore (Chicago Steel – USHL)
“Nice job” says P-Mac (shocker)…Moore is due to go to college, but might be persuaded to play major junior with the Kitchener Rangers instead…I might follow this guy with some more interest then

#22 – Vancouver Canucks select Jordan Schroeder (Minnesota – WCHA)
The locally popular Roberto Luongo makes the pick on behalf of the Canucks…he manages to pronounce Schroeder’s name wrong…guess he’s confused after having faced Byfuglien and Toews in the playoffs…“a steal” according to P-Mac and B-Mac, who likely dropped due to concerns over his size (I thought the NHL was largely past this?)…GM Mike Gillis tells Duthie that he expects the Sedins to stay in B.C.

#23 – Calgary Flames select Tim Erixon (Skellefteå – Sweden)
Amazingly resisting the urge to draft someone miserable called Sutter, the Flames take son-of-a-Ranger Erixon…another “good one” says P-Mac…another non-blonde Swede…the ever-loquacious Darryl Sutter gives a disdainful yet highly-revealing interview to Duthie

Back to Burkie on the floor for a moment…slightly disheveled-looking, he is not impressed with the trading habits of his fellow GMs…always the smartest man in the room

#24 – Washington Capitals select Marcus Johansson (Färjestads – Sweden)
Dark-haired Swede #7 takes to the stage…Johansson and his family are shown to have landed the prestigious seating spot right by the Toilettes des Hommes

#25 – Boston Bruins select Jordan Caron (Rimouski Océanic – QMJHL)
“He plays better when the game gets ugly” according to P-Mac…Peter Chiarelli immediately puts out a call to Adam Foote, Derian Hatcher and Mike Ricci…Caron is wearing a yellow shirt – did he know who he was going to?

Dreger’s multiple sauces confirm that everyone is surprised by the lack of trade action…Gord Miller compares Dreger to Paris Hilton…something to do with the quantity of Twitter followers rather than any embarrassing videotapes of Dreger that may be out there

#26 – Anaheim Ducks select Kyle Palmieri (US NTDP)
Palmieri mistakes Bettman for a cloakroom attendant, passing him his jacket as he reaches the stage…the commish dutifully disappears to a backroom for a second (or more likely, throws it at Bill Daly)…Palmieri was kicked off the US U-18 squad for alleged teenage girl shenanigans…some scouts impressed by that apparently

#27 – Carolina Hurricanes select Philippe Paradis (Shawinigan Cataractes – QMJHL)
Nothing much to note here apart from Paradis’ ability to shoot the puck through a wall

#28 – Chicago Blackhawks select Dylan Olsen (Camrose Kodiaks – AJHL)
The great Scotty Bowman is invited forward to make the Hawks’ pick…he’s clutching a Post-It, suggesting the master will avoid a potentially embarrassing Clarke/Giroux scenario…Bowman somehow manages to congratulate Brett Hull, Steve Yzerman and Luc Robitaille for their Hall of Fame selections in both English and French while ignoring Brian Leetch entirely both times!…I’ve suddenly lost a lot of respect for Bowman…Get a larger Post-It next time, Scotty…Fascinating Fact: Olsen is the son of one-time British league player, Darryl Olsen

TRADE: The Lightning stop squabbling long enough to trade up a couple of places, getting #29 from the Red Wings…steam is visibly coming from Brian Burke’s ears

#29 – Tampa Bay Lightning select Carter Ashton (Lethbridge Hurricanes – WHL)
Len Barrie and Oren Koules are now not interested enough to make an appearance for this pick…controversially, P-Mac declares it “a very good selection”…Ashton follows convention and sends Bettman to the cloakroom again

As the camera focuses on Ray Shero at the Penguins’ table, Glen Sather is seen is the foreground, looking like he’s fallen asleep with his cigar in his mouth…Don’t choke Glen!

#30 – Pittsburgh Penguins select Simon Deprés (Saint John Sea Dogs – QMJHL)
A loud cheer as one of the biggest fallers of the first round hears his name called…at around 4am my time, the first round is finally over