By the law of small sample sizes,* only old head coaches can succeed with new teams this season.
The Los Angeles Kings topped the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 via a shootout today to win Darryl Sutter’s debut. Fellow veteran bench boss Ken Hitchock was the only other replacement coach to win his first game, putting the old dogs at 2-0. Contrast that with the goose eggs from first-timers Kirk Muller and Randy Cunneyworth alongside second-time coach Bruce Boudreau and you might have an obnoxious pseudo-trend on your hands.
The Kings didn’t look like an offensive juggernaut in their first game under Sutter, but that’s not what GM Dean Lombardi was expecting with the coaching change.
Lombardi wanted to see more effort from the Kings and more production from should-be star Drew Doughty, and there were promising signs in both areas. Doughty earned assists on both of the Kings’ goals while Los Angeles out-shot Anaheim in every period aside from a 2-1 OT difference. (The Kings generated a 34-22 shot advantage.)
In other good news, Mike Richards scored in his first game back from a concussion.
One December game only means so much – and it was against the lowly Ducks – but it never hurts to get off to a good start. The Kings might not ever be the sexy, dominant team many of us were hoping to see in 2011-12, but this squad could grind their way to a deep run if they play more games like Sutter’s debut.
* Note: I’m fairly certain there isn’t a theory of small sample sizes, let alone a law.
Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.
As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.
Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.
Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.
PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).
Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.
In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.
Gaborik’s first goal:
And here’s video of the OT-GWG:
Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.
With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”
When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.
With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).
As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.
Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.
You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.
Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.
“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?
Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.
Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.
It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.
Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.
On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?
It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?
* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.