Eastern Conference Re-wind
Week two of the NHL has seen the firing of a head coach in Columbus, a change in goaltenders in Philadelphia, Montreal chasing history, the Red Wings searching for answers, and the return of the Hamburgler.
We begin in Columbus where the winless Blue Jackets fired head coach Todd Richards. Richards posted a 127-105-12 record in 4 ½ seasons with Columbus. The Blue Jackets hired a familiar face to Caps fans in John Tortorella to replace him. Tortorella, is the winningest US born head coach in NHL history. Tortorella’s strong, heavy hand approach to coaching may be the kick in the proverbial hiney that the Blue Jackets need to become a force to reckon with in the Metro division this year.
While the Columbus Blue Jackets are stumbling to find themselves, The Philadelphia Flyers haven’t stumbled at the outset of the season as they have in the past because of their goaltending. However, the Flyers stated that backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth is day-to-day after sustaining an injury in their game against the Bruins. Neuvirth sustained a head injury after Patrice Bergeron’s stick clipped him in the face after he scored the game tying goal in last Wednesday’s game. The former Capitals goaltender has been a steady back up for Steve Mason in posting a .947 save percentage and a 1.55 goals against average with two shutouts for the Flyers so far this year.
Another team with an impressive goaltender is Montreal’s Carey Price. As of this publishing, Carey Price has his Canadiens chasing their best start in franchise history. With a 6-0-0 record, 1.00 goals against, and a .966 save percentage, Price’s Canadiens are within 3 games of tying the best start to an NHL season set by both the 1993-1994 Toronto Maple Leafs, and the 2006-2007 Buffalo Sabres.
As Price and the Canadiens are heading in the right direction, it appears the Detroit Red Wings are heading in the opposite direction. Detroit who has been battling injuries to key players such as Pavel Datsuk, former Capital Mike Green, Johan Franzen, Brad Richards, and Kyle Quincy, are struggling with their worst record in four (0-3-1) games since 1993-1994, when they went 1-5.
While some in Detroit are worried about this, head coach Jeff Blashill has assured fans in the Motor City by stating, “We need 20 guys having great games in order to win in this league. You’re not going to be your best every night, but we got to have more guys with ‘A’ games every night and we’re going to need we’re going to have to grind one out.”
Lastly, the Ottawa Senators welcomed back Andrew Hammond. Hammond, who is also known as the Hamburgler, returned from a groin injury that kept him out for the first few games this year. Unfortunately, his return to the Senators line up wasn’t exactly a triumphant one. The Senators ended up losing to the New Jersey Devils 5-4 in a shootout. The Senators are hoping they can repeat last years results with Hammond in net, but won’t get far if they keep on losing games like they did against the Devils.
Western Conference Re-wind
There is some injury news out of St. Louis. Forward Jaden Schwartz injured his left leg during practice on Friday. There is no timetable set for his return. Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said that Schwartz will miss the Blues game against the Islanders on Saturday. Schwartz has 4 points in 7 games this season.
The Blues also placed forward Paul Stastny on injured reserve on Wednesday after he sustained a broken foot last Friday. He will miss the next 5 weeks of action.
The defending Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks sustained a big blow to their blueline. Defenseman Duncan Keith was placed on long-term injured reserve on Wednesday after he had to have surgery on his right knee. He will miss the next 4-6 weeks of action.
The Flames made some adjustments with their goaltending earlier this week. They placed goaltender Karri Ramo on waivers Wednesday, which he cleared on Thursday. Ramo started this season poorly, as he went 0-3 and registered a 4.37 goals against average. The Flames plan for now is to run with Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio as the goaltending tandem. The Flames have stumbled out of the gates this year, and goaltending certainly has been a concern for them. Flames Head Coach Bob Hartley expressed his frustrations with the goaltending earlier in the week. Hartley wants someone to take the starting job.
Dallas Stars defenseman Jason Demers has been suspended 2 games for a hit he delivered to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Nick Bonino on Thursday night. After reviewing this hit, 2 games is probably the correct call for this hit. It was a little careless on Demers’ part as he swung his elbow at Bonino’s face.
The Anaheim Ducks have struggled out of the gate. They have only 1 win and 2 points in 6 games. They just began a five game Central Division road trip. The road trip got off to an ugly start last night as the Ducks were defeated by the Nashville Predators 5-1. The Ducks have 4 games that go through next Thursday and they will make stops in Minnesota, Chicago, Dallas, and St. Louis. This road trip is huge for the Ducks and they will have to play well to dig themselves out of their early hole. The Ducks were projected as Cup favorites for this season, and there are some questions surrounding their goaltending now. Anton Khudobin got the start last night in Nashville. Is Frederik Andersen in Bruce Boudreau’s dog house? If the Ducks play poorly on this road trip, will Boudreau remain on their bench for long?
The Dallas Stars are cruising right now in the Western Conference as they have won 5 straight games. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are league leaders in goals and points, but the Stars are getting some nice secondary scoring from Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, and John Klingberg.
After struggling early, the Kings and Oilers have both been on a roll in the past week. Heading into Friday, both clubs have won three straight games and they are inching closer into the top 8 picture in West.
By Andrea Sobolik and George Foussekis