Mike Richards is still very angry at P.K Subban, and this time he’s brought along Chris Pronger. I’m not sure which one’s which, but they’re very upset.

It’ll be hard to find a week that ran the gambit of emotions quite like this one.

We saw an epic battle in an intense rivalry Saturday night, and the seeds for a feud between two playoff combatants grow earlier in the week. This made us angry, excited, or disappointed. The hockey heart shifts depending on your allegiance.

We saw an e-mail scandal that began last week hopefully reach its conclusion, with Colin Campbell defending himself on multiple media platforms, and Marc Savard speaking out on his behalf. This brought forward feelings of resentment, and made us feel betrayed.

Lastly, we saw the death of a coaching legend whose hockey knowledge was matched only by his passion for the game. Making fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens agree on anything is like having Super Mario and Bowser hold hands. But there they sat on Saturday night together, honouring the legacy left behind by Pat Burns.

The feelings here were obvious: sadness, and deep respect for not only one of the game’s great coaches, but also one of the best personalities hockey has ever seen.

Week 6 Headlines

One last goodbye

It’s a shame that seconds after the news of Pat Burns’ death, and before the rumours were even confirmed Friday evening, scorn was being heaped upon the Hockey Hall of Fame for not inducting Burns when he was still alive. It was disappointing on two levels: fans should have been able to look past the HHOF snub for just a moment and honour Burns, and the debate simply shouldn’t have been made possible.

What’s most disappointing though is that when Burns does finally get selected to the HHOF posthumously, the scorn will rise once again. The HHOF isn’t in the business of appeasing the public. But it is in the business of being a centre and museum for the game’s history.

If  one of hockey’s most beloved coaches is to be honoured, doing it while he’s able to stand at the podium would have been more than merely a public relations gesture; it would have been a practice in common decency.

One day, we’ll all write from our mother’s basement

Compared to the rest of the writers here at Houses of the Hockey, I haven’t even been blogging for that long. In fact, my introduction to this glorious world of media was in print (gasp! he worked for a newspaper!). Nonetheless, in my year on the blogging beat I’ve heard the “mother’s basement” line countless times.

It’s difficult to tell if the average reader truly realizes the depth of the debate regarding the Islanders’ handling of Chris Botta, the blogger and journalist who runs the in-depth Islanders blog “Point Blank“. With little reason, Botta had his press credentials pulled by the team this week, once again igniting the bloggers vs. mainstream media squabble.

For that matter, it’s difficult to gauge if the average reader truly cares. Sure, there’s outrage, but this smells of an issue isolated to either A: those directly involved or B: media geeks.

What’s happening important, as it’s an arbitrary restriction of access. Bloggers don’t necessarily need access to write and analyze efficiently, but if they wish to dig deeper inside the fortress of your favourite team and have been granted access in the past, that right shouldn’t be revoked without reason.

In Botta’s case, he may indeed have irked the Islanders with his rantings, but the writer doesn’t always need to play nice with Big Brother. When the lines of professionalism are crossed it will be clear, but generally bloggers are no more dangerous than your average vindictive columnist, and give a different flavour to the news.

We may be a little biased on this matter. Just maybe. But the underlying importance is that the hardcore hockey reader needs both bloggers and the mainstream media. Each platform covers the game differently, and both have their merits. But one is being accepted and welcomed by the powers of the league, while the other is still looked at in NHL dressing rooms as the annoying baby brother who’s tagging along.

Please watch for flying elbows

We’re only in week six, and this space has already featured a diatribe nearly every week on the subject of headshots and dangerous hits. But in most of the hits that have been discussed so far this season, there can be a debate. However reaching as it may be, there has usually been a case to be made for the player delivering the illegal blow.

And then we had Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mattias Ritola earlier this week, who was suspended for two games after completing the trifecta: he left his feet, charged, and hit from behind. Nope, no debate here.

Mr. Ritola, you are a very bad man.

Quick Hits

  • Ilya Bryzgalov has strung together a few wins (four straight and two more this week), but it’s mostly due to the little dose of offence the Coyotes are supplying him lately. In his eight November games Bryzgalov has allowed three or more goals seven times.
  • Flames forward Jarome Iginla recorded the NHL’s 25th hat trick this season. Last year there were 13 hat tricks through November 19.
  • Just when you thought Sidney Crosby couldn’t do anything more to impress you, he now has 18 points in his last eight games, including a four point night Friday against Carolina. Incredible.
  • Maybe it was just tired legs, or one those sporadic sluggish road games, but the Senators had one of the worst defensive efforts I’ve seen in quite some time against Carolina on Wednesday. Eric Staal seemed to posses the puck for half of the first period, and it was quickly 4-0. As a team, Ottawa has declined defensively, and is ranked 27th with a -12 rating. It’s a classic case of the Sergei Gonchar syndrome, a debilitating disease for any hockey team.
  • Those happy times for Jaroslav Halak in St. Louis seem like just yesterday. Now he’s come crashing back down to Earth so hard that he’s disrupted the order of the universe, and strange things are happening, like Lizzie McGuire sexting Mike Comrie. Halak has given up 15 goals in his last three starts, a steep fall from his performance at the end of October when the former Hab won six straight games, three of which were shutouts.

Fan Fails

We’ll try to work a few other brief, periodic sections into the Week in Review. Last week “The thing that only interests me” made its debut. This week: Fan Fails…

  • We get that there’s a running joke amongst Flyers fans that Scott Hartnell falls down a lot, hence the pun in the above shirt that’s now available for purchase. But puck-bunnyism and hockey fashion should never mix. To be fair, there are far worse ways to pay tribute to your favourite player.
  • Sticking with Philadelphia, we also understand and enjoy the growing rivalry between the Canadiens and Flyers. The Habs’ shutout win over Philly last Tuesday night was highly entertaining for everyone except Mike Richards. But Habs fans, there’s no excuse for doing the goodbye chant in November, even if it was for just a few seconds.

Trending Teams

Penthouse

Colorado Avalanche: There are wins, and there are statement wins. The Avalanche had a few of the latter this week.

Now sitting atop the Northwest after winning four straight games and five of their last six, the Avalanche scored six goals on a Blues team that had posted three shutouts two weeks ago. That was followed by an overtime win against the high octane Sharks in addition to victories over the Rangers and Stars.

Peter Budaj has filled in nicely for Craig Anderson, and the Av’s have supported him by scoring 70 goals this season (third in the league).

Outhouse

New York Islanders: At least the Islanders can accomplish something this year. They only thing worse than the hapless franchise’s lack off class off the ice is New York’s on-ice performance. The Islanders still don’t have a win in the month of November, and they’ve lost 10 straight games.

So what could they possibly accomplish given this spiral? The record for the longest losing streak in NHL history is 17 games, a dubious distinction shared by the 1974-75 Washington Capitals and the 1992-93 San Jose Sharks. During their streak the Islanders have been outscored 37-11.

Only seven more games to go…

Three Stars

  1. Rick Nash: How do you define scorching? How about eight goals and nine points over five games.
  2. Carey Price: How do you forget about that Halak guy? How about shutting out your new-found playoff rivals from last spring, and those long-held rivals in Toronto.
  3. Steven Stamkos: How do you make the NHL re-think that strict Crosby and Ovechkin marketing strategy? How about knocking on the door of 20 goals in mid-November, and scoring four more this week.

Plays of the week(end)