By the time I was born, Wayne Gretzky had played his last game with the Edmonton Oilers. I never got to see them, and all through my childhood I had difficulty placing Gretzky in an Oilers uniform. I saw pictures and hockey cards, and the occasional TV clip, but it always looked weird to me to see Gretzky in something other than a Los Angeles Kings’ sweater.
The Oilers of the 80s are discussed a lot, and they have an impressive collection of stars and Hall of Famers and records and Stanley Cups. That said, it is difficult to imagine just how dominant they were. The first year they won the Cup, they had 446 goals, 86 more than the second place team. That’s more than a goal a game, which is wild, but in the end, just by visualizing, it would have taken a few weeks dedicated viewing for somebody who wasn’t counting the score to gather that Edmonton was putting goals at a much faster rate than Quebec, the New York Islanders or Minnesota.
That’s why things get recorded. Numbers and the detailed notes taken by stat geeks counting scoring chances or zone entries, or the guys in the NHL booth tracking the data that becomes the skeleton for our Corsi and Fenwick models. There’s that, but there’s also goals and assists and points to record for individuals, and goals for each team. For a sport like mixed martial arts, scores are awarded based on subjectivity. There’s no running point total on the board, just three trained guys sitting near the ring each with an interpretation of what leads the victory.
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Guess what guys, Alexander Ovechkin actually scored a goal and the Washington Capitals won their first game of the season.
I know…I’m scared too.
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And so it was late last week that another Eastern European-born player said of the NHL lockout, “Screw it we’ll all just stay in the KHL anyway and make a bunch of money tax free and no one will call us lazy Russians even though we’re from Belarus or whatever and also sure run a much higher risk of injury and poor treatment but at least we won’t have to deal with Gary Bettman any more right?” Or something to that effect, anyway.
This time it was Sergei Kostitsyn who uttered these things, echoing the semi-vague threats of Ilya Bryzgalov and Alex Ovechkin before him, and perhaps even speaking for other, as-yet-unrevealed European-born NHLers currently playing in the KHL. And while his assertion that Columbus is relatively gloomier than Siberia may well be true — I’ve been to the former, but not the latter, but did find it to be more than a little drab — the actual threat he’s now espousing as well rings hollow for two reasons. Read the rest of this entry »
As we all know by now, Alex Ovechkin is an electric hockey player, and not just as an offensive star. He also trucks people on occasion, and being that there’s less expected contact in the KHL than the NHL (by most accounts), we could be seeing a lot of this this season: Read the rest of this entry »
Washington Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth had the audacity to answer some interview questions honestly, and it’s probably going to blow up in his face. He’s been nothing but meek and mild since joining the club (does he even speak english?), but all that changed in one interview.
The answers he gives to questions from the Czech website iSport.Cz very much remind me of someone’s memoirs, who, once retired and removed from the situation, is able to give frank assessments of teammates and situations now that it can’t come back to bite them. Except in this case, it still can. (Stick-tap to Russian Machine Never Breaks for the find – for the complete quotes, here’s part one, and part two.)
On his goalie partner Braden Holtby:
I’m starting the season sure that I want to play forty/fifty games and I am really sure that I have the weakest competition (Braden Holtby) I’ve ever had. I will try to be number one goalie this season. Finally! Read the rest of this entry »
I know this is completely crazy, but last night I was feeling a little Olympics-ed out, so I decided to see what was on the NHL Network. In August. I know.
Instead of a replay of some thrilling 4-1 Calgary Flames loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in February of 2010 (NHL Network is terrible in the summer, if you haven’t picked up that sentiment yet), there was a documentary called “Alexander Ovechkin: The Gr8.”
And now, I think I want to see him win a Stanley Cup.
The documentary is from 2010, but you can catch it on the NHL Network nearly a dozen times over the next three days. Here’s the trailer: Read the rest of this entry »
Alexander Ovechkin dates not-that-unattractive Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko, so naturally, he travelled to London to watch her compete in the Olympics.
Kirilenko took home a bronze medla in women’s doubles, which Ovy was pretty jazzed about. Below is the progression of Ovy tweets, starting with his fantastic muscle shirt, and concluding on the plane ride home. What a guy. Read the rest of this entry »