Preferred nomenclature: The 'best' first names in hockey

twopowerfulmikes.jpgTwo powerful Mikes (Modano and Ilitch)

I’m one of those people who believe that a name can often shape someone’s life/attitude/personality. Naturally, it doesn’t dictate everything, but chances are your kid might have the deck stacked against them if they have to answer to “Apple” or “Chastity” on the first day of school.

(For some reason, I’ve almost never gotten along with anyone named Josh but nine times out of 10 hit it off with women named Lindsay or Lindsey. Let’s move on.)

NHL.com’s John Kreiser keeps pumping out some off-the-wall but awesome summer reading the last few weeks. He didn’t disappoint on Friday, either, as he released a list of the “best” first names in hockey.

Michael and Robert (and their various derivatives) are by far the most plentiful on the NHL’s all-time player list. There have been more than 200 players named Mike/Michael/Michel (Puck Prospectus put the number at 206) in the NHL, the most of any first name. Robert/Bob/Bobby is next at 194, with Dave/David/Davey a distant third at 134.

bobbyorrfrozenintime.jpgIf you had to assemble the greatest team with any one first name, which would it be? The Als are great (Ovechkin, Mogilny, coach Al Arbour), the Roberts are stout (Bobby Orr and Clarke, Roberto Luongo) and John is a solid hockey name too (Jean Beliveau, Jonathan Toews). Yet while it might not be the boldest move, I’d put my money on the Mikes.

The Mikes — Imagine the dilemma for our coach, Mike Babcock (Mike Keenan has to settle for being an assistant) when it comes to picking a first-line right wing: Does he go with 700-goal scorer Mike Gartner or 573-goal (in just 10 seasons) gunner Mike Bossy. Not a bad dilemma to have. Mike Modano would make a pretty nice No. 1 center, with Mike Bullard on the second line. Michel Goulet looks like a pretty good first-line left wing. My penalty-killing unit could include guys like Michael Peca and Mike Sillinger (and I’d win a lot of faceoffs, too). Mike Ricci adds offense, defense and an element of feistiness.

My defense should get plenty of offense with Mike Green running the show, and with players like Mike Ramsey on the blue line, my one-two goaltending duo of Mike Vernon and Mike Richter should get some assistance. Mike Liut can fill in if one of them gets hurt.

And should my TV crew need some help, I’ll move Mike Milbury from the ice to the broadcast booth to work with Mike Emrick.

Perhaps the best question is: which are the coolest/most rare names? I doubt we’ll see many more Emerson Etems, Vesa Toskalas or P.K. (Pernell Karl) Subbans any time soon, that’s for sure …

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    Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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    The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

    San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

    The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

    Here’s the goal:

    Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

    Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

    Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

    Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

    The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

    Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

    The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

    Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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    It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

    After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

    In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

    You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

    Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

    It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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    You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

    After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

    “Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

    “I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

    After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

    “We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

    And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

    Related:

    Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

    Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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    Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

    Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

    Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

    “Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

    To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

    This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.