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The season has officially started we had our first NHL coach firing; I will have more about that later, and the league also made Alex Ovechkin angry this week by handing out a two-game suspension for his knee-to-knee hit. I was glad to see the NHL suspend the Russian for the hit, for all his talents Ovechkin plays with a sort of edge and good to see the league not give him the superstar treatment.
His edge is what makes Ovechkin a special player and I also don’t see this suspension taking it away, should be fun to watch this week, now onto the Pucking Awesome Hat Trick and the top three story lines I am watching this week.
A sexy preseason pick for the Cup have not looked anything like it and the recent slide caused John Stevens his job, as Peter Laviolette takes over the fading Flyers. The once powerful power play has been nonexistent in the recent four game slide going an abysmal 0 for their last 17 man advantages.
The undisciplined play has also been catching up to them giving up six power play goals along this current losing streak. The Ray Emery experiment has taken a turn for the worse as Emery has a 5.36 goals-against average and .814 save percentage in his last five starts.
The Flyers now turn to the theory that changing a coach can change the culture of the team, but unlike the Stanley Cup Champions a year ago this team seems to be lacking the maturity of a team destined for greatness. I will be watching the fallout this week as Laviolette tries to turn this talented team around and ask them to grow up or the next thing to change will be the core roster.
I don’t know if it is a recovery from injury or the Islanders trying to recover some return on the tremendous investment on the often injured goalie. When healthy there is no denying the pure talent of Rick DiPietro but with only five starts in the last two years the brass on Long Island were expecting more from the goalie they signed to a monster 15-year contract back in September 2006.
Although he shares the birthday with a Pucking Awesome writer it seems that this contract has been a bust up to this point, though he has 12 years on the back end to make it up to the organization. Now comes the good news for Islanders fans after practicing with the team for about a week and a half the former number one overall pick suited up for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday.
In all reports he looked like he had been off for the last 11 months giving up three goals on 13 shots. In his post game interview DiPietro stated "It's been a long time since I played in a meaningful game. Nerves, excitement. These guys have been great. It was good to get back in there and shake the rust off. There's still a lot of work to be done.” I will be keeping my eye on the valiant return of Rick DiPietro not only for the sake of the Islanders organization but for the goalie trade wheels that will be circling this club that will have three NHL starting goalies.
Game Of The Week: Wild at Coyotes
The week gets started off right this week as the two hottest teams facing off Monday night, oh yes the Phoenix Coyotes and Minnesota Wild face off at Jobing.com Arena. The Coyotes are one of the best stories of the early season. In their current four-game winning streak 10 different Coyotes have scored a goal and Ilya Bryzgalov has been outstanding with a 1.75 GAA and has been outstanding at home with a 10-3-0 record.
The Wild have turned their season around with a five-game winning streak and been riding a white hot top line of Center Mikko Koivu and linemates Andrew Brunette and Antti Miettinen. They have combined for 23 points during their current winning streak and that is with Miettinen missing three games due to the swine flu.
The week gets kicked off in style as one of the hottest lines in hockey faces one of the hottest goalies in a surprise scary good match up, I will be watching how about you?