Posted by kevin burgundy under Analysis on Nov 28, 2010
It’s safe to assume Don Cherry will always say something interesting during his weekly Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night In Canada.
Question my sanity if you must, but I normally agree with Cherry’s views. Although last night when Cherry said he believes penalty killing is more important to winning hockey games than power plays, I wasn’t sure I agreed. Something didn’t sound right about that.
Personally, I’ve always prioritized power plays over penalty killing, so I began looking to see if what Cherry was saying had merit or not.
I’ve always been fascinated by the development of young hockey players. The transition kids make from being very good local players to semi-professional Junior and College players to eventually playing in pro leagues in North America or Europe is amazing.
Such a transition is steep enough by itself without considering a 16 or 17-year old kid is going to do this in four to six years.
It’s safe to say this past week has featured an insane amount of hockey news. From annoying news to downright scary news, all the way to good news, we saw it all. Basically this translates into another edition of your favourite end of the week hockey thoughts.
Today, I’m turning my attention to Carey Price’s great play, Steven Stamkos and some potential hilarity in Marc Savard’s eventual return.
Carey Price’s play downplays how poorly the Canadiens handled Halak’s value
Carey Price has silenced critics with his great play so far this season. It’s just what the doctor ordered for Price and the Montreal Canadiens, especially considering how well Jaroslav Halak started the year in St. Louis. While it looks like the Canadiens made the right decision (for the record, I agree with the decision of trading Halak), I still think they traded him too early. They could have easily created a bidding war between teams, or at least further maximized his value by waiting to trade him weeks later at the Entry Draft. The return of Lars Eller and Ian Schultz was good, but they could have gotten more.
It’s no secret former second overall pick James van Riemsdyk has struggled as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
After scoring 15 goals and 20 assists in his rookie year, van Riemsdyk has struggled this season, notching only four assists in 15 games. van Riemsdyk has already been a healthy scratch four times this year and has watched players from the Flyers AHL affiliate team, Eric Wellwood in one instance, play in his place.
Mike Milbury said something interesting during Hockey Night in Canada’s Hotstove segment on Saturday evening. The former Islanders GM made a comment about Jeff Carter’s long-term contract extension saying, “Are [the Flyers] guaranteeing a championship? No. They are guaranteeing competitiveness.” To an extent, Milbury has a point. While the Flyers are a pretty solid team, other less competitive and less proven teams are selling the same thing. The Flyers have at least demonstrated success recently.
By now we’ve all seen the infamous Ilya Kovalchuk shootout gaff from Wednesday night. If the rock you live under is that big and you haven’t seen the video, here it is in all its glory:
I’m not a New Jersey Devils fan, nor am I a supporter of this past summer’s most annoying UFA story, but I’m going to defend Kovalchuk.
Anyone who’s played hockey knows from time to time ice can have bumps and ruts in it. Even after the ice is cleaned by a zamboni. The focus is magnified because it’s Kovalchuk, the $100 Million man, playing for the league-worst Devils. No other player making the exact same mistake would have generated the same amount of attention.
Skilled hockey players like Kovalchuk don’t put too much weight on their sticks when handling pucks, especially when there’s no other players on the ice (like in a shootout). Having your stick a millimeter or two off the ice when moving the puck from backhand to forehand can be enough to lose control of the puck (like in the video).
Making the transition from rough and choppy ice (“old ice”) to smoother and slightly wetter ice (“clean ice”) isn’t always easy. No two patches of clean ice feel exactly the same. I’m not making excuses for a world class player like Kovalchuk, and obviously several other players adjusted fine in the same shootout, but I think this play has been sensationalized a bit too much because of the player involved. Maybe the puck hit a rut. Maybe the puck didn’t slide on Kovalchuk’s blade like he expected it to. Sometimes clean ice does weird and unpredictable things. It happens.
Again, I’m not making excuses for Ilya, he’s a big boy and a lot is expected of him. I’m simply saying this story wouldn’t have been as big if it was any other player making the mistake. The part that killed me the most was the commentator saying “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” That’s a pretty outrageous comment. This isn’t the first time an NHL player has screwed up a shootout attempt in the history of shootouts. It’s not even the first time something like this has happened this season. It probably won’t be the last shootout gaff this season either.
The reality is this happens to from time to time. It’s really not that big of a deal.