Winter Classic Hockey

Fun with numbers for the 2011 Winter Classic

Sure, it’s a small sample, but with Winter Classic games in Buffalo, Chicago, Boston and tomorrow’s contest in Pittsburgh, there’s enough of a sample to throw around at least a few statistics. Heck, this is already the second game for Sidney Crosby and five other Penguins (which was a source of derision for many hockey fans).

John Kreiser of NHL.com is a regular source of some great stats-based posts, so it’s no surprise that he delivered some interesting numbers regarding the upcoming 2011 Winter Classic and the other three.

Read the full article for every number, but before I go to specific excerpts, here are three simple stats that jump out: Crosby’s point streaking coming into the game (zero, since the Islanders just ended his 25-gamer), the fact that six Penguins players might play in their second WC game (Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Tyler Kennedy, Brooks Orpik and possibly Jordan Staal) and the number of fans expected to be in attendance (approximately 68,000).

First, let’s start with numbers from the Crosby-Alex Ovechkin rivalry.

12 — Wins by the Penguins in the 20 games in which Crosby and Ovechkin have faced each other since both entered the NHL in 2005. Pittsburgh is 12-6-2; Washington is 8-8-4, including a 3-2 shootout loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 23.

35 — Points scored by Crosby against Washington, four more than Ovechkin has had against Pittsburgh. Crosby has 35 points in 20 games against Ovechkin and the Caps; Ovi has 31 points in 21 games against Crosby and the Penguins (Crosby missed one game in 2007-08 with an ankle injury). Ovechkin does have the advantage in goals, 17-13.

Now, here are some “all-time records” for the WC games. One thing that didn’t make the cut: Ty Conklin owns the highest number of saves in a single game with 36 when he backstopped the Penguins to a 2-1 shootout win over Buffalo.

1 — Winter Classic that has been decided in regulation. Detroit beat Chicago 6-4 in 2009 at Wrigley Field in the only one of the first three Winter Classics that was decided in 60 minutes.

2 — Goals scored by Detroit’s Jiri Hudler against Chicago in the 2009 Classic. Hudler is still the only player to get more than one goal in a Winter Classic game. Hudler was also plus-3 in that game, the best rating by any player in the Winter Classic.

3 — Points by Hudler, teammates Brian Rafalski and Marian Hossa, and Chicago’s Martin Havlat in the 2009 Classic, tying them for the most by any player. Rafalski and Havlat each had a goal and a pair of assists, while Hossa got all of his points as assists.

So those are some of the most interesting stats pertinent to the event. One other interesting number: 76. That’s the amount of cameras that will be focused on the Winter Classic from NBC, CBC, Versus, HBO and NHL Network according to this NHL.com article. Very cool.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.