Silly Green Men. Everyone knows the Leafs prefer Aunt Jamima’s waffles.
Profanity and puck have always blended together beautifully to make a perfect symphony of male testosterone. Players curse when they score game-winning goals, they curse before and after they’ve pounded the snot out of each other, and they curse because it’s mandatory around Sidney Crosby.
Usually, no matter how it’s said, a well placed F-bomb causes the listener to stop abruptly, pay attention, and take the speaker seriously even for a few brief seconds. We learned the exception to this rule earlier this week, and his name is Bruce Boudreau.
When Boudreau laced into his Capitals during an episode of HBO’s Penguins/Capitals: Road to the winter classic, it was difficult not to picture a cuddly Fat Albert. The cursing was accentuated by Boudreau’s trademark fast talking style, and his eyes widened with every word. He may not deserve to be fired yet, but it was easy to see why he’ll never be confused with Vince Lombardi in the motivation category.
It’s a crying shame that Washington mercilessly snapped its eight game slide Sunday night, because losing is far more entertaining.
Week 10 Headlines and storylines
A sense of direction is always a good sense to have
You’d need several trucks to handle all the praise and adoration heaped on Donald Fehr since his official appointment as the new head of the NHLPA over the weekend. The union had been drifting without a leader since the controversial dismissal of Paul Kelly in October of 2009, and the resignation of interim director Ian Penny shortly after.
From grizzled veterans to green rookies, it’s impossible to find one negative word about Fehr. Perhaps that has something to do with the “overwhelming support” he had during the voting process.
Travel with me as we take a trip to see all that is rosy and peachy in the world of professional hockey unions.
From Bruins goalie Tim Thomas:
“Sports unions are different than other unions, so you could have been heavily involved in other unions but really it’s not comparable to being part of a sports union and he’s been part of a sports union for most of his adult life. Having met him and worked with him, he’s very experienced, very smart and I think he’s the right guy at the right time for us.”
Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek:
“It’s very positive. The past couple of years the NHLPA has been a bit unsettled. Don can come in and help bring the players on the same page.”
“Even before the vote, I think everyone knew this was going to happen. Now we can be unified as we progress forward.”
Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr:
“Even though it’s not in hockey, it’s still in the collective bargaining side, the sports union side, all that stuff. He’ll have to learn about hockey and is the first to admit it, but has experience in those other areas that are important.”
The players may be head over heels in love with Fehr, but fans in Montreal certainly don’t forget the stake he drove into their beloved Expos.
You’re not welcome in these parts anymore
Dion Phaneuf had many great moments in Calgary. It’s hard to pick just one, but the time he was the headlining act at one of the city’s finest establishments gets my vote…
So when the big bad D-man made his return to his former western stomping grounds this week, there were calls for the fine people of Calgary to pay respect to their former heavy hitter, particularly from Leafs GM Brian Burke.
Two very predictable events then followed: the reception was largely negative and loud, with a few cheers mixed in, and Phaneuf embarrassed himself with slow footspeed, and a less than minimal impact.
Phaneuf was outhit but the traditionally soft Matt Stajan, one of the two remaining players on the Flames from the blockbuster trade with Toronto last January. Stajan finished with an assist, but it was former Leaf Niklas Hagman who was the most impressive, scoring once and adding two assists.
The peak of Phaneuf’s embarrassment came when he was beaten badly by Jarome Iginla, and then tripped the Flames captain for a penalty shot. To his credit, the usually reserved and stoic Phaneuf remained reserved and stoic, taking his treatment in stride.
“It was a lively building, and I feel like when I was here I played hard night in and night out,” he told the Toronto Sun. “There were a lot of nights, if not all of them, they were cheering for me. I have no hard feelings at all. It’s nothing personal.”
This stone-faced demeanour will go a long way in a hockey market where patience is wearing thin, and the waffles are overflowing with syrup.
Philadelphia locker rooms now have a little less jerk
The broken foot heard around the City of Brotherly love has Chris Pronger, the league’s premier puck burglar, out of the lineup for the next four-to-six weeks. Following his foot surgery, Pronger said he was “feeling alright,” and was moving his foot just after going under the knife and receiving two shiny new screws in the bone.
The Flyers are currently third in average goals allowed per game (2.32), a number largely accomplished through the stellar goaltender of Sergei Bobrovsky, and more recently Brian Boucher. As should be expected on the NHL’s best team, only one regular player has red ink in the plus/minus column (Daniel Carcillo).
How the brutish Flyers react to losing their biggest brute is yet to be determined, but Pronger isn’t too worried. He praised the foresight of general manager Paul Holmgren, who added defensive depth in the offseason by acquiring Andrej Meszaros and Sean O’Donnell.
“When Homer made these moves, he talked about how our top four defencemen missed a total of about two or four games [last season], something silly that most teams don’t go through. It was just a matter of time. One of us was going to get hurt at some point.”
Offensively, the Flyers have been riding high, and defensively, they’ve been the same glass rattling bunch we’ve all grown to know and hate. Now, a little adversity could go a long way during Philly’s quest for redemption after losing in last year’s finals.
- Carey Price has allowed two or fewer goals in half of his 30 starts this season. His play has still been outstanding, and he Sunday night against Colorado he made a handful of acrobatic saves. But there have also been a few softies of late, and signs of a regression. In his last four starts, Price has coughed up 14 goals.
- Thinking back on the long, successful career of Niklas Lidstrom, it’s somewhat shocking that his first hat trick came against the Blues earlier this week. I get it, he’s a defenceman, and hat tricks aren’t easily accomplished from the blueline. But Lidstrom is still among the elite scoring defencemen of all-time, and this hatty took him 19 years and 1,442 games.
- With his latest coming Thursday night, Columbus’ Steve Mason has now been pulled more than any goalie in the NHL since the start of last season.
- Least surprising stat of the week: In their 7-1 abomination of a loss to the Thrashers Saturday night, only one member of the New Jersey Devils finished in the plus/minus black.
- And sure, it was nice and cute to see Ilya Kovalchuk score against his former team. But let’s not forget that Kovy has still been atrocious, and six current Thrashers have more goals than Atlanta’s former sniper.
Philadelphia Flyers: Yet another easy selection, and Philly’s second appearance in our esteemed penthouse. After winning all three of their games this week–including another grudge match against those disrespectful Canadiens–the Flyers have won seven of their last eight.
Steady offensive production is expected from the likes of Danny Briere and Jeff Carter, but the most impressive hands of late belong to Nikolay Zheredev. The offseason signee is tied for second on the team in goal-scoring, and netted four more this week.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Those bumbling bumble bees were the toast of the West in the bright days of November. Now they’ve lost four straight games, but don’t blame Rick Nash. Nash has 17 goals, and has accounted for 21 percent of the team’s scoring, with R.J Umberger (9) a distant second.
- Matt Duchene: A spotty start is now a distant memory. The Avalanche have won six straight games, a stretch in which their Duchene has nine points.
- Logan Couture: With three more goals this week–one of which was a game-winner against Dallas–Couture is sixth in the league in goal-scoring, ahead of names like Jonathan Toews and his teammate Danny Heatley.
- Claude Giroux: Only four spots behind Couture on that goal-scoring list, Giroux’s breakout year continued with a four-game point streak that spilled into most of this week.