Did You Know? Dominik Hasek’s amazing run

6 Comments

The “Did You Know?” series ties in the news of the day with some little-known hockey factoids and/or trivia. It’ll be fun. Trust me.

Dominik Hasek is one of the greatest goalies in NHL history. He might very well be the greatest, but that’s up for debate.

What’s not up for debate, though, is that Hasek had the greatest 17-month span of any goalie. Ever.

From Feb. 1998 to June 1999, Hasek did the following (this is in chronological order):

— Won Olympic gold with Czech Republic at the Winter Olympics.
— Finished first in the NHL in shots faced, saves, save percentage, minutes played and shutouts.
— Went to Eastern Conference Finals with Buffalo.
— Won the Vezina Trophy.
— Won the Ted Lindsay Award.
— Won the Hart Trophy.
— Was named to NHL First All-Star Team.
— Had a couple months off in the summer, prepped for the upcoming season.
— Finished first in the NHL in save percentage.
— Went to the Stanley Cup Finals with Buffalo.
— Finished first in playoff save percentage.
— Won the Vezina Trophy.
— Was named to the NHL First All-Star Team.

Now, those accolades alone make for an impressive resume — but consider the teams Hasek was carrying.

Czech Republic: Hasek’s performance in Nagano might be the most impressive, dominant, jump-on-my-back-I’ll-take-you-to-the-promised-land performance in goaltending history. The Czechs didn’t have a single player in the tournament’s top-10 scoring; they only managed two regulation goals in the semifinal and final combined.

In the elimination phase, Hasek stopped 38 of 39 shots against the U.S., 24 of 25 against Canada (plus five shootout attempts) and all 20 Russian shots in the gold medal game. His save percentage in do-or-die games was .964.

And Hasek did all this while his fellow “stars” failed to produce. Jaromir Jagr had just one goal in six games; the key goals in the semi and final were scored by Jiri Slegr and Petr Svoboda. The leading Czech scorer for the tourney was a guy named Pavel Patera, who had a cup of coffee in Minnesota.

Buffalo: The Sabres went to the Conference and Stanley Cup Finals with a pretty thin offense. Their leading scorer in both seasons was Miro Satan…with 46 and 66 points. In 1997-98, nobody scored more than 24 goals; in 1998-99, Buffalo’s top-five scorers included Michal Grosek, Curtis Brown and Dixon Ward.

The wildest year was 97-98, when Hasek led the league in shots faced (2149 over 72 games — an average of roughly 30 per contest). He finished with a 2.09 GAA and 13 shutouts while playing in front of a defense comprised of Alexei Zhitnik, Darryl Shannon, Richard Smehlik, Jason Woolley, Bob Boughner, Mike Wilson and Jay McKee. Not exactly a Norris Trophy shortlist, if you know what I’m saying.

It’s probably overlooked because he didn’t win a Cup and his career overall was so successful, but Hasek’s run from Feb. 1998 to June 1999 is the stuff of legend.

A big night for the rookies and a big win for the Maple Leafs

Getty
1 Comment

William Nylander helped get Toronto started on Thursday, extending his point streak to 10 games — a new Maple Leafs franchise record for a rookie.

Connor Brown finished it with his 17th goal of the season, securing a 4-2 win for the Maple Leafs over the New Jersey Devils.

Toronto has won three in a row and moves three points clear of Boston for third in the Atlantic Division, with a game in hand, which further helps the Maple Leafs’ playoff chances with nine games remaining on their schedule.

Just another big night for Toronto’s impressive crop of rookies.

Auston Matthews had a pair of assists.

— Nylander had a goal and an assist. He set one and tied another franchise rookie record on Thursday.

Mitch Marner had an assist, giving him 40 helpers this season, which ties the franchise rookie record set in 1943-44.

“They’re good players,” said coach Mike Babcock, per the Toronto Star. “I didn’t know Marner would make the team. I knew Matthews and Nylander were good players. I knew Brown and (Zach) Hyman were relentless. I had no idea (Nikita) Zaitsev was as close to how good he is.

“We have lots of good players.”

In May of 2015, Babcock predicted at his introductory press conference that the Maple Leafs would, during their massive rebuild, endure “pain.” This was, he said, to be a long process — a “massive, massive challenge.”

Approaching the two-year anniversary of that event — after all the losing that franchise and its fan base has gone through, which obviously helped them with the Matthews lottery last year — the Maple Leafs are poised to make the playoffs with a nucleus of young players that present even more promise for the future.

“We just want to get in to the playoffs, and give ourselves a chance,” continued Babcock. “We’re playing well, and finding a way to win games. That’s what we have to continue to do.”

Capitals defeat Blue Jackets in clash of Metropolitan Division powers

Getty
Leave a comment

WASHINGTON (AP) T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington’s 35th shot of the game. Orlov’s goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead.

A showdown between two of the top three teams in the league jockeying for position atop the Metropolitan Division lacked a playoff feel. But the matchup of two likely Vezina Trophy finalists lived up to that billing as Bobrovsky and Holtby went back and forth with big saves.

Bobrovsky entered the night first in wins, goals-against average and save percentage with Holtby second, second and third in those categories. The 2013 Vezina winner could also be an MVP contender this season given his value to Columbus’ third playoff berth in franchise history.

“When he’s in his game it’s very hard to score on him,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who had eight shots stopped by one of his Russian national teammates. “He likes the big moments, he likes pressure. His worth ethic is unbelievable. … In my opinion he’s one of the best goalies in the league right now.”

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

2 Comments

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

Getty
Leave a comment

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.