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