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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    Methot ‘out for weeks’ after suffering a shattered finger from Crosby clash

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    The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.

    Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.

    Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.

    “His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.

    Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.

    The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.

    NHL to make ‘special announcement’ in China next week

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    The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.

    In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.

    Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.

    In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.

    Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.

    Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

    Flyers survive early Mason mistake to upset Wild

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    Insert the ‘It’s not how you start but how you finish’ cliche right here.

    The Philadelphia Flyers fell behind the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, as Zach Parise was the beneficiary of a Steve Mason mistake just 2:07 into the first period.

    Mason couldn’t control the deflection into the zone, coughing up a rebound in front. Eric Staal forced a loose puck to Parise and he buried it to open the scoring.

    Yeah, not ideal for the Flyers, who are still clinging to the slimmest of playoff hopes.

    But they responded with three unanswered goals, including this beauty from Sean Couturier.

    Philadelphia took over for a 3-1 victory, with Mason making 24 saves on 25 shots, as Minnesota’s struggles continue. The Wild still sit second in the Central Division but have only two wins in their last 10 games.

    Bolts close gap on struggling Bruins in playoff race

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    Well, that was quite a third period.

    For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.

    Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.

    The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.

    Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.

    And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.

    Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)

    The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.

    Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.

    From NHL.com:

    The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.

    The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.