Around the League – Apr 1, 2010

Less than two weeks to go until we see Olympic intensity again, and the best part is it will last for two months and involves more than six competitive teams.

Until then we will watch to see who gets into the dance, who starts at home and which team will play 82 games only to miss the playoffs by a point. My guess is Calgary and Atlanta, who have both gone down in Flames before. (That was a lame attempt at a Principeism).

Regardless of who gets in, I doubt the teams will have any passengers over the next eleven days. The same can’t be said for the Edmonton Oilers. I don’t care that they have been out of the playoffs for fifty games; fans still expect an effort. And more importantly you’d think the players would play for pride. I think most of the Oilers have been giving a decent effort, considering the talent they have on the ice, but Patrick O’Sullivan’s lack of effort v. Detroit was deplorable.

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O’Sullivan managed to stretch his lead for the Green Jacket to seven over Rod Brind’Amour, with a stellar -3 night v. Detroit on Tuesday. I don’t think +/- is the most telling stat of all the time, but it can show some obvious weaknesses in a player’s game. If +/- was a reflection of “lacking in interest” then O’Sullivan is deserving of his 859th ranking amongst all 859 skaters in the NHL.

For a marginal player like O’Sullivan to display such a lack of effort this late in the year is disappointing. To compound matters he was one of the Oilers best forwards two days earlier in St. Louis, but I guess he wasn’t interested in playing hard two games in a row; which has been the case more often than not this season.

O’Sullivan is on pace to register the worst plus/minus since the lockout. In 2006, Mark Recchi was -36 in 83 games split between Pittsburgh and Carolina. The difference is Recchi’s work ethic has rarely been questioned during his 20-year career.

Since 1999, the only players to finish with a worse plus/minus than O’Sullivan were Yannick Trembley in 2000 with Atlanta (-42), Tyler Wright in 2002 with Columbus (-40) and Rico Fata in 2004 with Pittsburgh (-46). But there is a glaring difference between those three and O’Sullivan.

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In 2004 Fata led the league at -46, but teammates Dick Tarnstrom (-37) and Brooks Orpik (-36) were 2nd and 3rd respectively. Wright was fitted for the Green Jacket in 2002, but his teammates were in the hunt: Mike Sillinger was 2nd (-35), Deron Quint 3rd (-34), Matthias Timander 4th (-33), Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre 7th (-29) and Espen Knutsen was 8th (-28).

And in 2000 Tremblay led the Thrasher brigade at -42, but he wasn’t alone. Kelly Buchberger was 2nd (-36), Ray Ferraro 3rd (-33), Andrew Brunette and Chris 4th (-33) and Johan Garpenlov 6th (-30), Mike Stapleton 8th (-29) and Darryl Shannon was 10th (-27). They had eight of the worst ten.

The Thrashers were 30th with 39 points in 2000; the Jackets 29th with 57 points in 2002 while the Pens were also last with 58 points in 2004. Those teams, like the Oilers were bad, but O’Sullivan’s plus/minus ranking sticks out like a sore thumb on the Oilers.

He is nine ahead of Shawn Horcoff, and 18 minuses worse than Robert Nilsson and Ryan Potulny. Sheldon Souray if healthy might have given him a run with Souray sitting at -19 in only 37 games.

I don’t recall Pat Quinn using POS as his shut down guy against the other team’s top offensive stars, and I checked behind the net to be sure and not surprisingly O’Sullivan’s competition hasn’t been more difficult than his teammates.

No team should accept that type of effort from any player at any time, especially a marginal one like O’Sullivan. If I was Pat Quinn I’d bench him the rest of the season.

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Maybe now you will actually read the article.


Shane O’Brien gained eight pounds over the Olympic break, and that, not being late for practice, is why he was banished from practice and games until this Sunday. Most people can’t lose eight pounds in two weeks, never mind gain eight pounds. The Canucks 3rd pairing is their only glaring weakness heading into the playoffs, and they need O’Brien to shape up.

Jay Bouwmeester went 58 games without a goal before scoring on Sunday. He is 5th in average icetime at 25:59/game, yet he has three paltry goals. Bouwmeester is a marvelous skater, but he doesn’t have a winning attitude. He is too laid back, and seems comfortable just playing the game. If the Flames don’t catch Colorado, he’ll have played 553 NHL games, but none in the playoffs.

The Atlanta Thrashers are 10-8-4 without Ilya Kovalchuk. They were 24-23-8 with him this year. Meanwhile the Devils are 9-8-4 since acquiring the sniper and were 35-18-2 before he came. I wonder how many teams think he is the answer to their woes, or if he can put them over the top?

The Windsor/Plymouth series will be the most scouted 2nd round OHL playoff series ever. Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin and Cam Fowler will be front and centre and it should be great hockey. You can watch it online PPV.

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In the last ten seasons, including this year, the top ten scorers have all been forwards. Out of those 100 scorers, 45 were centres, 37 right wingers and 18 played left wing. Just another tidbit over who might be a better choice on June 25th.

If two players are tied in scoring at the end of the year, the Art Ross trophy goes to the player with the most goals. If two or more players are tied for the most goals, shouldn’t the Maurice Richard Trophy go to the guy with the fewest PP goals? I think EV/SH goals are a harder to come by.


Here are the top ten in pts, goals, assists and other stats.

47: Sidney Crosby
46: Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos
42: Patrick Marleau
40: Marian Gaborik
39: Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk
37: Alexander Semin
35: Zach Parise and Alexandre Burrows

75: Henrik Sedin
66: Joe Thornton
64: Brad Richards
63: Martin St. Louis
62: Nicklas Backstrom
56: Paul Stastny
55: Ovechkin
54: Mike Green and Patrick Kane
52: Duncan Keith

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104: H. Sedin
101: Ovechkin
94: Crosby
91: Backstrom
90: St. Louis
88: Stamkos
87: Brad Richards
85: Joe Thornton
82: Patrick Kane
80: Marian Gaborik and Marleau

+43: Ovechkin
+38: Jeff Schultz
+36: H. Sedin
+35: Daniel Sedin
+34: Mike Green
+33: Alex Burrows
+32: Backstrom
+29: Alex Semin and Christian Ehrhoff
+23: The Human Rake (Chris Pronger)

***Patrick O’Sullivan has a big lead for the green jacket sitting at -36.

PP Goals:
21: Stamkos
18: Heatley
14: Anze Kopitar and Gaborik
13: Mike Richards
12: Crosby, Ovechkin, B. Richards, Marleau, Kovalchuk, Ryan Kesler and Eric Stall

294: Cal Clutterbuck
273: Ryan Callahan
270: Dustin Brown
251: Stephane Robidas
243: Steve Ott
241: Brooks Orpik
236: David Backes
230: Chris Neil
221: Douglas Murray
220: Matt Greene

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Doug Murray gets hit of the week honour as he Edmonton resident Brian Sutherby of the Dallas Stars. Sutherby took the hit to make the play as Steve Ott scored his 2nd goal of the game on route to his first NHL hat-trick.

When asked about the trick Ott said, “It definitely puts a big smile on my face, but I think I was more proud of the sacrifice of my teammates. On that second goal, Sutherby got demolished. He made a play to me that he knew he was going to get hit and he slid over a great pass, I ended up tapping it in – it was pretty easy. If I didn’t score that, I would have been pretty upset with myself because of the sacrifice he made on the play.”

I like how Ott admits Sutherby got demolished. He did, but it was a ballsy play by Sutherby and great hit by Murray.

343: Ovechkin
319: Parise
310: Jeff Carter
291: Phil Kessel
281: Crosby and Henrik Zetterberg
278: Vincent Lecavalier
267: Patric Hornqvist (20 shots this week)
265: Marleau and Kovalchuk

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April Fools Lambs…

Welcome a new month with Candace. She is a four-year Atlanta Thrasher Blue Crew veteran and all-around sports junky.

“Self described as energetic and always on the go this dental assistant loves Christmas and her guilty pleasures include chocolate and creme brulee! She loves traveling, dancing, flying, shopping, skating and just about anything to do with water. But watch out boys, this blue eyed beauty stays fit by lifting weights and kickboxing!”


I’m sure many of you would risk a few rounds in the ring with her. Happy Easter.