Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Today In NHL History - Kopitar Highsticks Sedin

On April 15th in 2010, Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings inadvertently high-sticked Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarter-finals lodging his stick into the Art Ross winner's helmet.

Despite direct evidence of a high-sticking infraction, the play went unpenalized presumably owing to the absence of an injury. When questioned as to the non-call, the referee Kelly Sutherland responded that the high-stick was "very gentle" and didn't warrant a whistle. Interesting.

The Canucks won the game 3-2 no thanks to the officiating.

That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Luongo's Stick Gets Stuck

On April 15th in 2010, Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo lodged his goalie stick into the back of his pads after making a spectacular overtime save against the Kings' Jack Johnson in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarter-finals.

After a 15 second struggle, Luongo untangled the lumber in time to stop a shot from Brad Richardson as play returned to his end. Vancouver went on to beat Los Angeles 3-2 that night taking a 1-0 series lead.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Today In NHL History - Rob Ray Fights Fan

On April 14th in 1992, Rob Ray of the Buffalo Sabres pummeled a 21 year old fan who, apparently acting on a bet, elected to jump into the visitors bench at Le Colisée in the dying seconds of a game against the Quebec Nordiques.

Amazingly, the fan survived some 17 or 18 direct blows from the NHL's 6th all-time regular season penalty minutes leader (3,207) before police broke up the melee. Rayzor escaped criminal charges and league suspension that night though his team couldn't avoid a 7-3 loss.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, April 13, 2015

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Qualification Droughts

At the outset of every season, each team aspires to win the Stanley Cup. Six months later, the playoff seeding is set and only 16 teams continue to chase that dream. The remaining 14 clubs must wait until next season to renew their quest for the Cup. For them, the playoff drought begins.

The chart below describes, in descending order, the number of seasons each of the current 14 teams has gone without making the Stanley Cup playoffs, showing the last year they qualified for the postseason.

Team                          Years         Last Playoff
Edmonton Oilers
Carolina Hurricanes    
Buffalo Sabres
Arizona Coyotes
Florida Panthers
New Jersey Devils
Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins
Colorado Avalanche
Columbus Blue Jackets
Dallas Stars
Los Angeles Kings       
Philadelphia Flyers
San Jose Sharks       

Only 2 of the 7 Canadian teams (Edmonton, Toronto) find themselves on this year's list, compared to last year when all but Montreal missed the postseason. Edmonton owns the longest active playoff qualification drought missing the playoffs for nine consecutive seasons, one season shy of Florida's all-time record of ten straight playoff misses ending in 2012

Interestingly, half of the teams that missed this year's playoff skated played in the postseason last year, proving that parity is a stark reality in the NHL's modern salary cap era.  Further, for the first time since 2007 and only the fifth time since the Original Six era, the defending Stanley Cup champions failed to qualify for the postseason (Toronto 1968, Montreal 1970, New Jersey 1996, Carolina 2007, Los Angeles 2015).

In terms of salary cap, four of the top ten spending teams (Philadelphia 1st, Boston 6th, Colorado 7th, Florida 9th) and five of the bottom ten spenders (Columbus 22nd, San Jose 23rd, Carolina 25th, Buffalo 26th, Arizona 30th) missed the playoffs, proving once again that neither well-financed nor under-capitalized teams are immune from on-ice failure.

For the 14 teams on this list, the playoff rains can't come soon enough.

* See also NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Series Win Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Final Appearance Droughts.
* See also NHL Stanley Cup Championship Droughts.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Today In NHL History - Ron MacLean

On April 12th in 1960, celebrated sports broadcaster Ronald Joseph Corbett MacLean was born in Zweibrücken, West Germany. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things hockey and a quick wit, MacLean became the host of CBC's coveted Saturday night franchise Hockey Night In Canada. Raised in Red Deer, Alberta, MacLean spent eight years with CKRD before landing the HNIC Western anchor gig in 1986. Later that season he assumed the Toronto anchor role replacing Dave Hodge who was fired for flipping his pencil in protest of the network's decision to leave an overtime hockey game for the news. MacLean has been a fixture ever since.

In addition to his regular broadcasting duties MacLean hosts the Hotstove, co-anchors Coach's Corner with Don Cherry, and has participated in CBC's Olympic coverage since 1988, earning him eight Gemini awards, including Best Sports Broadcaster (1992, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2001) and Best Sports Host/Interviewer (2004, 2006).

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Today In NHL History - Hextall's Playoff Goal

On April 11th in 1989, netminder Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers scored an unassisted empty net goal against the Washington Capitals becoming the first goaltender to score in a NHL playoff game.

It was the second time a goalie scored in a NHL game, the first being when Hextall fired the puck into the opposing net on December 8th in 1987. Though New York Islanders backstop Billy Smith was the first to be credited with a goal, Hextall was the first goalie to actually score one.

The Flyers beat the Capitals 8-5 in Game 5 of the Patrick Division Semifinal that night, eventually winning the series 4-2.

That's today in NHL history.