Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The day was March 23, 1952. The last day of the NHL season. The last place Black Hawks were about to play the fifth place Rangers. Charlie Rayner, the Rangers stellar goalie had been sidelined for a while with an injury and their skilled replacement Emile Francis was more needed with the Ranger farm team that day in Cinncinnati. This left 20 year old Lorne Anderson to tend the New York goal. Anderson had played two games with the Rangers that season (this would be his last NHL game) but spent the rest of the year with the New York Rovers of the Eastern League. On top of this, Anderson had already played that very same afternoon at Madison Square Garden with the Rovers.
As well, New York's top defenseman Hy Buller had missed the past few games with a broken ankle, yet begged coach Bill Cook for the chance to play and break the team record for points by a defenseman (he was one point away). His wish was granted, and for more than two periods the seemingly short-staffed Rangers held a 6-2 lead.
With less than 14 mintes to play in an otherwise meaningless game, Mosienko was sprung at center by his linemate Bodnar. He went around the disabled Buller and fired a low shot home. Time of goal 6:09. From the center-ice draw, Bodnar again found Mosienko with a lead pass. Again, he slipped around Buller and scored again to Anderson's low right. Time of goal 6:20.
Another face-of at center, another pass from Bodnar...who did Mosienko have to beat? The ailing Buller once again. By now Anderson was expecting the low shot, so Mosienko ripped one high for his third goal. Time 6:30.
In no way am I saying that Mosienko's amazing feat was unimpressive. It is merely interesting to find out the details that perhaps aided in this piece of history.
The Hawks eventually won 7-6 and no, Hy Buller did not score his much desired point.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
As for Goals/Game over the first four years, Gretzky still leads at 0.84 and the top five remain the same except that Maurice Richard at 0.70 Goals/game knocks Ovechkin’s 0.68 down to sixth all-time. The often forgotten Eric Lindros ranks seventh right behind Ovechkin.
When we look at points/game over the first four seasons, once again Gretzky leads at 2.22 well clear of Lemieux’s 1.77. Third through fifth are Stastny at 1.57, Lindros at 1.46 and Bossy at 1.39. Sid the Kid checks in at sixth with 1.37 Pts/GP over one’s first four seasons. Crosby ranks just ahead of Bryan Trottier, Kent Nilsson, Dale Hawerchuk and Denis Savard rounding out the top ten.
Crosby climbs to fifth overall for assist/game over the same period behind the same top three of Gretzky (1.38), Lemieux (1.03) and Stastny (1.00). Peter Forsberg makes an appearance at fourth with 0.92 ahead of Crosby’s 0.91. Somewhat surprisingly, Joe Juneau ranks seventh with 0.87 assists/game. This rate would plummet to 0.37 over his final nine seasons.
Back to Ovechkin, he actually is the leader in two categories over the first four seasons of an NHL career. He is tied with Glenn Anderson with 34 Game Winning Goals, just ahead of Bossy’s 32 and Gretzky’s 30. The one year wonder, Jonathan Cheechoo is fifth at 28.
One category is thoroughly dominated by Ovechkin, over his first four years he has taken an amazing 1791 shots on goal. He is more than 500(!) shots ahead of Gretzky in second place and Pavel Bure in third. A similar dominance is seen in Powerplay goals with Mike Bossy first with 96 PPG well ahead of Ovie’s 78 and Jimmy Carson and Joe Nieuwendyk at 70. We can see that the young guns of today are indeed in the midst of terrific career starts and among the best all-time…. so far,
Another interesting start to a current career is Mike Richards of the Flyers who has scored the most Shorthanded goals in the first four seasons with 19, two ahead of Gretzky and three up on Bure and Guy Carbonneau.
If we look at goaltending, Henrik Lundqvist has had one of the best starts to a career ever with 142 wins in his first four seasons. Terry Sawchuk is first with 155 (not counting his seven game stint in 1949/50). Bill Durnan at 154 wins and Ken Dryden (again, not counting his first six game stint) at 144 are the only two others ahead of Lundqvist. Cam Ward of Carolina rounds out the top five with 120 wins in the four season start to a career.
It is clear that today’s NHL is loaded with young stars who are among the best of all-time.
I have recently been added as a "columnist" for a cool site called the Hockey Barn. I will be posting some of the best of Nitzy's Hockey Den there, nothing that wont be on my own site though. Check it out, and leave comments.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Centre has really only two choices in Joe Thornton and Joe Sakic. Thornton leads the decade by a fair margin over Jaromir Jagr for overall points. Sakic has played 114 less games than Thornton due to a few injury riddled years yet his points per game of 1.13 is equal to his as one of the tops in the decade. Other centres warranting consideration are Vinny Lecavalier and Pavel Datsyuk.
The right wing slots are also fairly easily to select with decade goal leading Jarome Iginla and second overall point scorer Jagr (even with spending last year in Russia). A case can be made for Daniel Alfredsson or Marian Hossa, but it’s hard to dispute the winners of three Lester B. Pearson trophies in the decade.
The left wing picks bring up a bit of a tough call. Firstly, Dany Heatley is a fairly easy choice, it’s the second slot that gets somewhat difficult. Ilya Kovalchuk has nice numbers with 297 goals in 545 games although carries a minus 85 rating. Markus Naslund has 296 goals as well, yet his short coming is that it took him over two full additional seasons to reach this total. The question is, has Alex Ovechkin done enough in four seasons to be considered one of the top players of the decade. Ovie has notched 219 goals in a mere 324 games…only 70-odd goals short of Kovalchuk and Naslund in 221 and 398 fewer games respectively. Naslund played more than twice as many games in the decade than Ovechkin and scored only 77 goals more. For this fact as well as back to back MVP award, I have to go with Ovechkin for the second slot on the squad.
The four defenders on the squad were comparatively easy selections. Lidstrom, Pronger and Gonchar are pretty much givens and I gave the fourth slot to Brian Rafalski who finished third in d-men points AND +/- for the decade. Scott Niedermayer and Sergei Zubov round out the best defenders but fail to make my decade team. Incidentally the second best +/- among defensemen (and fourth overall) in the 2000’s belongs to none other than Chris Chelios at +153, not enough to make the all-decade team Chelly, sorry.
The goaltenders may have been the easiest position to select two players. Brodeur could allow eight goals a game between now and the New Year and still be a lock (really, he would still have a GAA under 2.50 and be more than 100 games over .500). The second spot came down to Evgeni Nabakov and Marty Turco. Nabby has 9 more wins and 11 more shutouts but also 28 more losses and a higher GAA. The deal breaker toward Turco though was his winning percentage being over 30 points higher. Once again, Chris Osgood is tossed by the wayside with a 223-127 won/loss record yet a GAA of 2.55. Roberto Luongo is tied with Nabakov for second in shutouts yet his GAA is higher than Osgood’s and he STILL has a sub .500 record for the decade.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Perhaps the weakest part of the ’78 squad was the goaltending. A fairly non-descript Al Jensen and Tim Bernhardt tended the cages and may have been two of the reasons Canada could only manage a third place finish. Two names on the roster full of future NHLers really jumped out at me as not quite belonging.
Brian Young was a member of the New Westminster Bruins of the WHL coached by Ernie “Punch” MacLean who also coached the 1978 Canadian squad. Young scored 57 points that season and like Daley was drafted in the fourth round by Chicago. He would, as with Daley play very few NHL games notching two assists in eight games in 1980/81. His career continued to parallel Daley as he would play nine seasons in Europe after bouncing around the minor leagues for a few seasons.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Here we see a complete paint job on Mike Blaisdell and we learn why in fact the gloves of traded players were rarely painted over in the airbrush process. A very cartoony “glove” is the result as they just can’t deal with all the folds and pieces of the glove. And again, the lettering of “New York” on the jersey appears to have been applied by a four year old. I am not familiar with the style of helmet he is wearing either, I think at one point in time it was a Jofa.
Another full-body attempt on, this time on Chico. The Rockies logo actually looks almost presentable. What’s funny on this one is the “artist” kept the original red stripe from the Islanders jersey at the bottom-left of the image. This small bit of original mesh somehow helps the overall realism of the airbrushing.
Again, the cartoony glove treatment is seen, as well as a failed logo attempt. What I can’t understand about this one is why it was even painted. Christoff had three previous North Star cards issued yet had played the previous season with Calgary. I assume they painted the North Stars over his Calgary uni for some reason even though he was now a King. Confusing.
Bill Flett donning a painted Flyers jersey complete with a melting Flyers logo. Here the gloves were left as the Kings ones they originally were. At least they have nice detail on them, even if they are the wrong colour.
This is an example of OPC’s practice in the early 70’s of not even bothering to try to paint a new jersey and logo for traded players. Just cover up the old logo and put the new team’s logo on the card. Simple. Bruce Gamble seems to be in the middle of saying something to the photographer. Also, he looks more like a bus-driver than a professional athlete.
Here’s a fairly average logo rendering, and with goalies the original gloves can be kept. It looks to me like he’s wearing jeans though which makes him appear more like a fan wearing a replica jersey.
What is it with goalies of the 70’s not looking like athletes, Edwards looks like a deli-owner more than a goalie.
I’m not quite sure what jersey Ernie Hicke was originally wearing in this shot. He had played the two previous years with the California Golden Seals who wore nothing close to this orange jersey. As near as I can figure it may be with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles of the old Western League with whom he played the year prior.
This one is simply atrocious. It looks as if it wasn’t even airbrushed, and more like like it was oil painted. You can see the delicate brush strokes on the over-sized Whalers logo. To top it off, (literally) it looks like Quennville’s helmet is made of felt, brutal.
Another awful Whalers attempt. It must be the terrible green that makes it difficult to paint. Looks like this was painted with a roller.
Two more beauts here. Burrows looks like he’s in the middle of an Impressionist painting, nice attention to detail on the collar tie-up laces on both.
Bobby Orr’s two Black Hawks cards from 1976/77 and ‘77/78 are both airbrushed and then for his final card in ‘78/79 OPC uses a two year old photo. His first Hawks card is an obvious brush-job and his gloves are only half painted as the black from the Bruins could be used for the lower part of the Hawks gloves. Orr’s next card is even worse. One would figure they could have gotten a shot of him with Chicago as he played 20 games for them in ‘76/77. Instead, OPC used an old shot of Bobby sitting on the Bruins bench, notice the Bruin player sitting beside him.
For his final card in ‘78/79 we see Orr sitting on the team Canada bench, (what is it with him and photos on the bench?) beside Denis Potvin during the 1976 Canada Cup. A little more respect for one of the greats of all-time would have been nice.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
The Leafs selections over the years are:
F Dan Daoust, Wendel Clark, Sergei Berezin, Mike Johnson
D Kenny Jonsson, Luke Schenn
G Felix Potvin
Not the greatest septet, nobody of Hall of Fame caliber although Clark may have had a shot had he stayed healthy.
Over the twenty-six seasons of selecting Rookie squads, three teams have had ten players honoured.
F Eric Lindros, Mikael Renberg, Simon Gagne
D Thomas Eriksson, Chris Therien, Janne Niinimaa, Joni Pitkanen
G Pelle Lindbergh, Ron Hextall, Brian Boucher
Some big stars here, but again probably no Hall of Famers (prove me wrong Eric, prove me wrong).
F Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Malone, Jaromir Jagr, Mario Lemieux, Warren Young
D Zarley Zalapski
G Sebastien Caron, Patrick Lalime
A nice looking group of forwards with two Hall of Famers (Jagr included) and two young potentials. The quality dropped off on the defensive side however.
F Steve Larmer, Tony Amonte, Eric Daze, Tyler Arnason, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Kris Versteeg
G Darren Pang, Ed Belfour, Dominik Hasek
The Hawks selections include two of the greatest goalies of the era, lots of potential and a few duds. The Penguins and Hawks lead the way with seven forwards each selected and Chicago and Philly lead with three goaltenders each picked. The New Jersey Devils have had nine players picked to the All Rookie teams and are tied with the Flyers and L.A. Kings with four defensmen selected.
F Kevin Todd, Petr Sykora, Partik Elias, Scott Gomez
D Eric Weinrich, Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rafalski, Colin White
G Martin Brodeur,
Two pretty certain Hall of Famers in Brodeur and Niedermayer…….and Kevin Todd
F Luc Robitaille, Jimmy Carson
Two more Hall members here in Robitaille and most likely Blake. Storr never quite panned out as expected and is currently lighting it up with Dusseldorf of the German League.
The Canadiens have had eight players chosen as All-Rookie:
F Michael Ryder, Oleg Petrov, Gilbert Dionne, Kjell Dahlin, Mats Naslund
D Chris Chelios
G Carey Price, Patrick Roy, Steve Penney
Solid with Chelios and Roy yet the forwards after Naslund are really quite the heap of mediocrity at best.
The Bruins have also had eight picks:
F Brad Boyes, Sergei Samsonov, Joe Juneau, Ken Hodge
D Nick Boynton, Kyle McLaren, Glen Wesley
Certainly not the calibre of even the Habs with Boyes probably the best of the lot.
Two other teams have had seven selections;
New York Rangers
F Mike York, Tony Granato, Mike Ridley, Tomas Sandstrom
F Jarome Iginla, Joe Nieuwendyk, Hakan Loob, Sergei Makarov
D Dion Phaneuf, Gary Suter, Jamie Macoun
Perhaps the best lot of players from one team would be the Detroit Red Wings. Although they have had only five players chosen to the All-Rookie squad they may end up with four of them in the Hall. Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom are in or locks and Sergei Fedorov is probable with Henrik Zetterberg a definite possibility. Vladimir Konstantinov is the fifth Wing so honoured, and he was well on track for a stellar career before his unfortunate accident.
Overall, one could say the year-end selection of rookie All-Stars shows that in any given year there really is only two or three first year players who have a chance to go on to immortality.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Perhaps one of the more poorly treated players in this regard is Rogie Vachon. His first two issues were fairly straight forward and handled with the respect that most Montreal Canadiens receive in the hockey world. Once traded to the Kings however he was abused in hockey card form. For his first Kings release of 1972/72 he was actually decapitated. The good people in the O-Pee-Chee graphics department attempted unsucessfully to put a photo of his head on another players torso.
Not only is his head slightly off-centred, but it's skin colour doesn't match that of the neck. The neck as well is far more hair covered than it would be in the following year's card. At least Rogie is in possession of his own body, why on earth there was no Kings logo on his jersey, I've never figured out. It is obviously a photo of a pre-mustachioed Vachon happliy wearing his Kings jersey...that has had the logo airbrushed out. If anyone has an answer for this, do tell.
Friday, July 3, 2009
The “Q” has predominantly been known as the more offense driven circuit of the three Canadian junior leagues with players often putting up astronomical totals. Below are a few of the crazy numbers I found using the new site.
In 1983/84 Mario Lemieux set the junior record for consecutive games with a point at 61 games. He tallied a point in each and every of the first 61 games played that year with totals of 108 goals, 128 assists and 236 points. This works out to an average of 3.87 points per game, ridiculous. However, after his streak was finally snapped in his 62nd game, he really turned it on. Lemieux would score in each of his final 9 games of the season putting up a truly incredible 25 goals, 21assists and 46 points. This is an average of 5.11 points per game, he actually got better.
Speaking of scoring streaks, ten years earlier in 1973/74, Pierre Larouche set the record by scoring a GOAL in 27 consecutive games. During this time, he scored 52 goals and 76 assists for 128 points…in 27 games. This averages out to a Lemieux-ian 4.74 pts/game.
One of the more bizarre games in hockey history occurred on Feb. 5, 1971. The Quebec Remparts defeated Rosemont 14-1. Three players scored 10 or more points in this game. Andre Savard scored 3 goals, 9 assists for 12 points. Guy Lafleur went 7-4-11 and Michel Briere 3-7-10. Perhaps more amazing, only one of Quebec’s goals that night were scored on the powerplay, and even crazier, no other Rempart scored more than one point!