The NHL schedule for Saturday, Nov. 1 held a list of 12 games involving 24 teams. If we look around the league, many surprises were awaiting the night that followed Halloween. Let’s start by looking at the games, one at a time, and evaluate their performances. I will have a detailed analysis on the Montreal Canadiens-New York Islanders game because it is the only one I watched completely.
Warning: Try counting the number of teams with Goalie Trouble Syndrome!
Montreal Canadiens at New York Islanders (Canadiens, 5-4)
A pretty special game in its own way. The team which holds the current worst record in the hockey league played without their No. 1 goaltender who was injured against the Habs who were said to be one of the best in the league and off to an exceptional start. Sounds very easy to predict right? Wrong.
Even though Guy Carbonneau mentioned that his team wasn’t going to underestimate the Islanders, one cannot help but sympathize. Awful first two periods for the Canadiens. With the exception of Kovalev's goal, the rest was all Islanders. Through two periods, the Habs were outshot, outhit, outhustled, outskated and outworked. They were OUT.
The Islanders were consistently first on the puck, won every battle, controlled the neutral zone and gained the Canadiens' blueline with dismaying ease which led to the scoring of four unanswered goals heading into the third period with a 4-1 lead. The Islanders won the game right? Wrong!
Right when I was ready to turn off the television because of the slow and shaky start in the last period, Alex Kovalev got a high-stick in his face. Then, something triggered me to sit along and watch for a couple of more minutes. There was no call, Kovalev came back and was on fire. It seems to have triggered some energy because earlier in the game, Kovy had seven giveaways.
Payback night! It was the night for Plekanec’s line and he had two goals and two assists. Higgins also netted his first of the season. Frans Nielson of New York also scored a pair for his team. Although Carey Price let in four goals, the 21-year-old did not lose his composure coming up big in the final minutes of the game to reward the amazing work of his teammates.
It was a good game where a team showed character. One team had enough talent to come back and fight and the other team just didn’t know what to do with their lead because they are not used to winning so much.
However, the Canadiens emerge with the win which has a sour taste, no one actually played a normal OK game on the Habs. There is also goalie trouble awaiting the Islanders who have lost Rick DiPietro on an injury for a period of 4-6 weeks.
Did Guy Carbonneau say something special after the second period?
"Yeah, you don't want to hear that."—Tomas Plekanec (Montreal Canadiens)
Edmonton Oilers at Carolina Hurricanes (Oilers, 3-1)
The first game of the day started in Carolina where Edmonton was looking to bounce back and end a two-week losing streak. Although Carolina scored the first goal, the score was tied by Horcoff exactly 20 minutes after in the second period on a power play. After that, it was a two-way game as both teams battled hard to get the puck deep in their zones. One statistic that jumped at me was Carolina's power-play percentage, which is 12 percent. A team as tight as the Hurricanes struggled to score on six different opportunities.
"We got some really fortunate goals."—Ethan Moreau (Edmonton Oilers)
Dallas Stars at Boston Bruins (Bruins, 5-1)
Tim Thomas clearly displayed amazing skill and brilliance in his goaltending which was a key to Boston’s 5-1 win against the Stars. The particularity in this game was the march to the penalty box and the tension between the teams as Boston was piling up the goals. Precisely, the Bruins had a total of 77 penalty minutes and the Stars, 69 minutes (two major fighting and two misconduct penalties on both sides).
However, Claude Julien’s crew showed their improvement and ability to compete against bigger, tougher teams. Marty Turco is having trouble because he was beat five times on 25 shots. The Stars may have to come up with a new plan to solve their problem if they want to be successful. Having Sean Avery is not the solution to everything!
"Then we make one mistake the whole period and it's in our net."—Dave Trippet (Dallas Stars Coach)
Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres (Sabres, 5-0)
Alexander Ovechkin was in Russia on a personal visit and wasn’t present in Washington’s matchup against the Sabres. Whoever said that he carried the team on his shoulders would have been very happy to see them struggle. However, in my opinion, José Théodore wasn’t in full form today and that might have cost them the game. He let in three goals in the first period and couldn’t redeem himself to stop the two next ones.
In Buffalo, Thomas Vanek is a player who can score (two goals on the night) and Ryan Miller is becoming a star goalie. On home ice, the Sabres shut out all 29 shots put forth by the Capitals. It is also clear that the Washington team does not hold an impressive record (5-4-1).
"Right now, I'm trying to stay hot."—Thomas Vanek (Buffalo Sabres)
New York Rangers at Toronto Maple Leafs (Leafs, 5-2)
Perhaps one of the first times where Toronto has to be credited a 100 percent for their play through the game. Having secured a 2-0 lead, the Rangers maybe got a little overconfident in the third period. Within a short span of barely five minute, the Leafs found the end of the net five times. It is important to note that all the seven goals by both teams in this game were scored at even strength.
So, from where did Toronto get all this energy? Perhaps, the surprise of the night! Stephen Valiquette would have probably dreaming about his shutout and got caught in the middle. It was a quite interesting game and the player who earned the first star, Mitchell, scored his first two goals of the season in the victory.
"I just fist-pumped as many times as I could."—John Mitchell (Toronto Maple Leafs player)
Atlanta Thrashers at New Jersey Devils (Devils, 6-1)
In this very predictable game due both teams’ records and roster, the Devils emerged with a win but only with a loss. Martin Brodeur, who has been having a bumpy ride this season, was injured in his elbow when did a split to make a stop. According to the coach, he then dressed and left home without talking to anyone.
It is significant to know that Brodeur is only seven wins aways from breaking Patrick Roy’s record of 551 NHL career victories. Apart from that, the Devils completely dominated the first two periods with six unanswered goals and took the win.
"Obviously, he's pretty important for us. We all hope it's not anything too serious."—Jamie Langenbrunner (New Jersey Devils Captain)
Chicago Blackhawks at Columbus Blue Jackets (Blackhawks, 4-3)
A game which ended in a shootout goal by Jonathan Toews secured the win for the Blackhawk. Cristobal Huet faced 51 shots and only allowed three goals. Both team showed their skills and the Blackhawks were indeed outshot 51-24. Through 11 power-play opportunities, only R.J. Umberger’s goal managed to find the inside of net. An intense game where the visiting team surged with the win.
"They threw a lot of pucks at the net. We made a few mistakes, but overall I think most of their shots were from the outside, which is fine."—Cristobal Huet (Chicago Blackhawks)
Ottawa Senators at Tampa Bay Lightning (Tampa, 3-2)
The Ottawa Senators opened the scoring with a power-play goal by Vermette. Then it was a pretty tight game until the mid-second period where both teams scored in a 29 seconds apart. Then, Mathieu Carle scored the goal late in the third which had the game tied moving in to overtime. Shots were three-a-piece during the five-minute sudden death. In the shootout, big man Artyukhin, an unlikely candidate on his first shootout sequence, netted the game-winning goal for Tampa Bay. Steven Stamkos (14 minutes of ice-time) was nowhere to be found on the scoring sheet in the game.
"I just had a hunch about Arty. I thought, let's put the big guy out there and see what he could do."—Barry Melrose (Tampa Bay Lightning coach)
OK, folks! That’s all I could do for tonight. I will work on updating the other four games sometime soon. In the meanwhile, don’t forget to comment. Also, if I made any mistakes, feel free to correct them.