blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: May 2018

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Today In NHL History - Malkin Fights Zetterberg

On May 31st in 2009, with his team trailing 3-1 in the closing seconds of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins attacked Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg.Refs assessed 17 and 5 sin bin minutes, respectively, of which each served only 19 seconds. Despite Malkin's instigator penalty, Colin Campbell refused to enforce Rule 47.22 mandating an automatic one game suspension for such an act in the final five minutes, electing instead to exercise his broad right to rescind.

Thus, rather than sitting for suckering the 2008 Conn Smythe winner, the 2009 Conn Smythe winner-to-be returned in Game 3 to set up three goals en route to a 4-2 win. Absent Malkin's helpers, Detroit may have won Game 3, taking a 3-0 series lead and clinching consecutive Cup wins. Instead, Pittsburgh cut Detroit's series lead in half and won in 7.

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Carrying Over Penalties In NHL Playoffs.
* See also Today In NHL History - Malkin Boards Mitchell.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Losses

Since the Stanley Cup was dedicated to NHL's top team in 1926, only five franchises (Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red WingsMontreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues) have qualified for consecutive Cup Finals and lost each time.  

Nine times the losing streak was limited to two years though twice a three year streak struck (Toronto 1938-1940, St. Louis 1968-1970).  The charts below describe these streaks by team and years, and vice versa.

Team                  Years
Toronto 1935-1936 (2), 1938-1939-1940 (3), 1959-1960 (2),
Detroit 1941-1942 (2), 1948-1949 (2), 1963-1964 (2)
Montreal 1951-1952 (2), 1954-1955 (2)
Boston 1957-1958 (2), 1977-1978 (2)
St. Louis 1968-1969-1970 (3)

Years                  Team
1935-1936 Toronto
1938-1940 Toronto
1941-1942 Detroit
1948-1949 Detroit
1951-1952 Montreal
1954-1955 Montreal
1957-1958 Boston
1959-1960 Toronto
1963-1964 Detroit
1968-1970 St. Louis 
1977-1978 Boston

In 2016, the Tampa Bay Lightning fell one game short of returning to the Stanley Cup Final for their second consecutive year.  Had they qualified and lost to their western conference counterpart, they would have become the sixth franchise on this inglorious list.

* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Rematches.

NHL Stanley Cup Final Appearance Droughts

This week the Golden Knights and Capitals qualified for the 2018 Stanley Cup Final erasing a Stanley Cup Final appearance drought of 0 years (inaugural season) and 18 years, respectively, while the NHL's other 29 teams extended their absence by another season. The chart below describes, in descending order, the number of seasons each club has gone without a Cup Final appearance, showing the last year they qualified (if ever).

Team       Seasons           Last Cup Final
Toronto Maple Leafs 
50         
St. Louis Blues
47         
Phoenix Coyotes*
38         
Never
New York Islanders
33         
Montreal Canadiens
24         
Florida Panthers
21         
Buffalo Sabres
18         
Winnipeg Jets**
18         
Never
Columbus Blue Jackets
17         
Never
Dallas Stars
17         
Minnesota Wild
17         
Never
Colorado Avalanche
16         
Calgary Flames
13         
Carolina Hurricanes
12         
Edmonton Oilers     
12         
Anaheim Ducks
11         
Ottawa Senators      
11         
Detroit Red Wings
9         
Philadelphia Flyers
8         
Vancouver Canucks
7         
New Jersey Devils
6         
Boston Bruins
5         
Los Angeles Kings
4         
New York Rangers
4         
Chicago Blackhawks
3         
Tampa Bay Lightning
3         
San Jose Sharks
2         
Pittsburgh Penguins
1         
Nashville Predators
1         
Vegas Golden Knights
0         
Washington Capitals
0         

*   Includes record of Winnipeg Jets prior to relocation to Phoenix
** Includes record of Atlanta Thrashers prior to relocation to Winnipeg

The average drought rests at roughly 13.5 seasons with Toronto laying claim to the longest at 50 seasons, a streak that began prior to NHL expansion beyond its original six teams. Arguably worse is the fact that 4 of the 31 teams (13%) have never skated in a Final in their franchise history (Phoenix, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Columbus), a list that was reduced by one with the Golden Knights earning a Stanley Cup Final appearance in their inaugural season.

In ten months the quest for the Cup continues for 16 of the 31 clubs that qualify for the postseason. The goal is to hoist the hardware, but simply qualifying for the Stanley Cup Final would be a step in the right direction.
Indeed, one thing leads to another.

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

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Today In NHL History - Lemieux Boards Draper

On May 29th in 1996, Colorado Avalanche cheapshot Claude Lemieux checked Detroit Red Wings grinder Kris Draper face first into the boards in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals igniting a fierce rivalry between the teams that remains to this day.

The hit hospitalized Draper with a concussion, broken nose, fractured jaw, and shattered cheek and orbital bone requiring extensive facial reconstructive surgery, several stitches, and wiring shut his jaw.

Lemieux received a five minute major and match penalty to which the NHL added a two game suspension and $1000 fine. Colorado won the game 4-1 closing out the series that night 4-2 en route to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance sweeping the Florida Panthers. Draper didn't return to hockey until midway through the following season.
That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Bourdon's Motorcycle Crash

On May 29th in 2008, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Luc Bourdon, the 10th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, died in a motorcycle crash when he collided with a semitrailer near his hometown in New Brunswick.

The accident shocked the hockey community, especially Kris Letang who missed Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals to attend Luc's funeral.


The Canucks honored Luc at their home opener against Calgary, presenting Luc's family with his last game worn jersey and screening a video tribute accompanied by a live performance of "Big League" by Tom Cochrane.

Vancouver shutout Calgary 6-0 with Bourdon's best friend Alex Burrows scoring twice and earning the game's first star. Burrows carried the momentum of that match into a 28 goal breakout season, acknowledging his fallen friend with a bow and arrow tribute from time to time.


Luc Bourdon, forever a Canuck.

That's today in NHL history.

Monday, May 28, 2018

NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Rematches

Since the Stanley Cup was first awarded to the NHL's best in 1926, only 10 times have the same two teams met in the Cup Final in consecutive years. Of those 10 meetings, the same team won both series 7 times and teams split 3 times. Put another way, the Cup champion has successfully defended its title in 7 of the 10 rematches (70%).

The chart below describes every consecutive Cup rematch by year.

Year       Matchup
1932   Toronto over New York*  
1933 New York* over Toronto  
1948 Toronto over Detroit
1949 Toronto over Detroit
1954 Detroit over Montreal
1955 Detroit over Montreal
1957 Montreal over Boston
1958 Montreal over Boston
1959 Montreal over Toronto
1960 Montreal over Toronto
1963 Toronto over Detroit
1964 Toronto over Detroit
1968 Montreal over St. Louis
1969 Montreal over St. Louis
1977 Montreal over Boston 
1978 Montreal over Boston   
1983 New York** over Edmonton     
1984 Edmonton over New York**
2008 Detroit over Pittsburgh
2009 Pittsburgh over Detroit

*   New York Rangers
** New York Islanders

Of the 9 teams (Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins) to compete in Stanley Cup Final rematches, all but two (Boston, St. Louis) have won at least one championship during a rematch series. Never have the same two teams met in more than two consecutive Stanley Cup Finals.

Though teams have enjoyed consecutive Stanley Cup wins (24 times) and suffered consecutive Stanley Cup losses (13 times) over the years, the rematch is a far rarer occurrence (10 times). 

With Pittsburgh and Nashville ousted in second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs, there will be no rematch of last year's finalists in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.

* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins.
* See also NHL Consecutive Stanley Cup Losses.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Today In NHL History - Gretzky Highsticks Gilmour

On May 27th in 1993, Wayne Gretzky cut Doug Gilmour for eight stitches with a high stick during overtime in Game 6 of the Campbell Conference Final. The unpenalized play left the Great One on the ice to score the winner moments later.


Referee Kerry Fraser's historic non-call, which haunts him and leagues of Leafs fans to this day, invited conspiracy chatter to Don Cherry's Coaches Corner with Torontonians claiming the NHL influenced officiating to ensure Los Angeles would advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

NHL Director of Officiating Brian Lewis later spoke with HNIC host Ron MacLean to discuss the events surrounding the Game 6 non-call.

Gretzky collected a hat trick in Game 7 at Maple Leaf Gardens leading the Kings to a 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs and their franchise first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, which they lost 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens.

That's today in NHL history.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Today In NHL History - Stevens Hits Lindros

On May 26th in 2000, New Jersey Devils defenseman Scott Stevens decimated the oft-injured Philadelphia Flyers forward Eric Lindros with an open ice hit midway through the first period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.


The hit represents Lindros' final on-ice moment as a member of the Flyers as he was kept from skating for six months, missed the entire 2001 season, and was ultimately traded to the New York Rangers.

New Jersey beat Philadelphia 2-1 and went on to defeat the defending Cup champion Dallas Stars 4-2 in the Finals, hoisting their first Stanley Cup in 5 years. Stevens took the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

That's today in NHL history

* See also Today In NHL History - Stevens Hits Kozlov.
* See also Today In NHL History - Stevens Hits Kariya.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Today In NHL History - Boston Blackout

On May 24th in 1988, a transformer blowout blackened a fog-filled Boston Garden with 3:27 remaining in the middle frame of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the Edmonton Oilers.
Deemed an Act of God, NHL president John Ziegler canceled the 3-3 match rescheduling it two nights later at Northlands Coliseum.

The Oilers won Game 4-A by a score of 6-3sweeping the Bruins en route to their 5th Stanley Cup in 7 years and setting a modern record for the fewest games needed to hoist the hardware (18), in what would be Wayne Gretzky's final game as an Edmonton Oiler.
That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Today In NHL History - Bergeron Saves Goal

On May 22nd in 2010, Montreal Canadiens blueliner Marc-Andre Bergeron saved an empty net goal with 2 minutes remaining in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Flyers sophomore forward Claude Giroux found the Habs empty net 36 seconds later to secure a 3-0 win. Philadelphia won the series 4-1.

That's today in NHL history.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Today In NHL History - Buffalo Sabres Bat Attack

On May 20th in 1975, Buffalo Sabres center Jim Lorentz slayed a boisterous bat during a fog-filled Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals at The Aud. The incident marks the only known animal killing by a player during a NHL game.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Rick MacLeish kindly collected the deceased bat from the faceoff circle, sparing the linesman of the indiscretion, disposing it in the visitors penalty box then occupied by his teammate.

While birds have famously found their way onto the field of play for several sports (baseball, tennis, football, golf, hockey) over the years, often with unfortunate outcomes, dive-bombing bats are rare.

Buffalo won 5-4 in overtime but lost the series 4-2 to Philadelphia.

That's today in NHL history.