On Ducks and Such
In the old days, a guy could call it a night not having to worry that the NHL scores he left would change much by morning.
Not so any more.
The latest tangible evidence that the NHL's season-long effort to remove various types of sport-killing fouls from the game is working came last night after the Colorado Avalanche put three quick goals past Jean-Sebastien Giguere in the Anaheim Mighty Ducks net in the opening 11 minutes at The Pond and drove Giguere out of the game.
With that score and the conclusion of back-to-back Seinfeld reruns, I packed it in only to rise today and find the Ducks had indeed stormed back to win, this time on a penalty shot off the stick of Jonathan Hedstrom in overtime.
Also last night, the Buffalo Sabres spotted the Carolina Hurricanes a four-goal lead almost came back to tie, falling one goal short. Dallas trailed Minny 2-1 in the second last night and scored three in the third to win. On Tuesday, meanwhile, Atlanta trailed Boston 3-1 and 4-2 before roaring back to win 5-4 in a shootout.
Comebacks, at least some of the time, are part of what make this game great and interesting. Teams are still playing the trap, but the inability to use hooking, holding and interference late in games and in OT is, at least to some degree, making that suffocating tactic less effective.
And the game's a lot better for it. Yet you still hear NHL players and hockey fans pining for the old days when the rules went out the window in the third period and, of course, for the entire playoffs. Unbelievable.
STALKING A PLAYOFF SPOT
The Florida Panthers are putting on the same late season push for a playoff berth as the Ducks, their former expansion cousins.
Since beating Ottawa on March 8 and then deciding to sign Olli Jokinen the next day rather than trade him, the Panthers have romped to six wins in seven games and, as of Thursday morning, sat one point behind the Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference standings and five points out of a playoff berth.
Thursday's 3-2 win over Washington was the Panthers' fourth triumph in a row, the first time they've pulled off that feat in more than five years.
Florida is a masterful 7-0 vs. the Caps this season, with five of the wins coming by a 3-2 score.
ABOUT THOSE RENEGADES
Why extend the misery?
The CFL's sad Ottawa franchise should be put to sleep sooner as opposed to later if only to avoid the embarrassment of having a horrific team on the field this season playing before a half-empty stadium.
Tom Wright wants to insist Ottawa is a great CFL market, and maybe it is. But the fact there isn't a local businessman willing to take this mess over tells you something about the size of the mess and also the lack of confidence that the city will ever embrace a team enough to stop it from losing tons of money.
Extending this drama over the next few months in the faint hope that a white night will step forward only exposes the league to more ridicule. And forget about moving Winnipeg back to the east. Go with one, eight-team league, work out a new playoff format and emphasize the best part of the league, which isn't the number of teams but the fact they play a terrific brand of football.
Wright, meanwhile, is in huge trouble. Unless he can convince Paul Tagliabue to buy the Gades or pull another Bob Young out of his, er, hat, Wright is probably in his last year on the job.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Interesting to hear Kings president Tim Leiweke rip Jeremy Roenick by name in the wake of the firing of head coach Andy Murray. Hall of Fame writer Helene Elliott's take in the Los Angeles Times is an interesting read. . .With the Devils unable to score, you have to wonder if Alexander Mogilny could help if the remainder of this year's contract would still fit under the Jersey cap number. Sadly, Mogilny has only four goals in 19 games with the Albany River Rats. . .given that wearing helmets and shields is such an inconvenience to manly NHLers, why is it that not once has a player taken off his bonnet in a shootout this season?