Tag: trends

Pekka Rinne

Pekka Rinne gets pulled halfway through first period

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The Nashville Predators continue to find different ways to win this season, but Pekka Rinne’s been oddly up-and-down. Count this as a “down” night as Rinne was pulled from the Nashville net for the fourth time in 2011-12 after allowing three Dallas Stars goals in just 12:30 of game time.

Rinne didn’t have a great night on Thursday, either, as he allowed five goals but got the win after Nashville produced an improbable comeback.

If his play follows recent trends, then things could get ugly for a while. You can break Rinne’s season into good and bad chunks:

Oct. 7-8: 2-0-0
Oct. 13-25: 1-4-1
Oct. 27-Nov. 17: 7-0-2
Nov. 19-Dec. 6: 0-5-0 (with one no-decision in which he allowed five goals in half of a game)
Dec. 8-Dec. 22: 6-0-0

It remains to be seen if Rinne will be charged with a loss, but he’s allowed eight goals in less than four periods, so it seems like he’s starting to trend down again. A lot of times streaky goalies also signify streak teams, but the good news is that Rinne’s individual stats have still been very good.

Well, at least they looked nice coming into tonight’s game …

Rule changes haven’t curbed concussions in the NHL this season

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There are some definite positives when you compare the way the NHL is handling hits to the head this season compared to last. One would think that Matt Cooke surely would have been suspended for that brutal hit on Marc Savard if it took place during this season rather than last, especially when you consider the suspensions handed out in borderline cases such as Joe Thornton’s hit on David Perron.

Teams are also being far more careful with players who are fighting through concussion symptoms, this season especially.

All that being said, we must get to the sobering bad news: TSN passes along a report that the league is still on the same disturbing pace when it comes to players suffering concussions according to Dr. Ruben Echemendia (the NHL’s neuropsychologist).

Echemendia has been studying concussions in the NHL since 1997, noting that there tends to be an average of 75 of those types of head injuries per season, but last season featured a worrisome 84 and this season matches that pace through the same number of games.

That being said, Echemendia didn’t want to be totally negative.

Dr. Ruben Echemendia, the NHL’s neuropsychologist, said Friday that 33 concussions had been reported as of Dec. 1 — the exact same number as a year ago. However, he was quick to note that it doesn’t necessarily mean the rule change hasn’t been ineffective.

“It’s premature,” said Echemendia. “We need to very carefully follow the concussions this year and next year and see to what extent the rule changes have or have not had a change in behaviour. We don’t know exactly what’s causing the concussions to be at the level that they are at this point in time.”

The league has been tracking concussions since 1997 and typically sees about 75 reported each season — roughly half of which are the result of blindside hits.

Rule 48 officially entered the NHL’s rulebook over the summer, giving referees the right to call a minor or major penalty for any “lateral, back pressure or blindside hit” where the principal point of contact is the head. Every call is automatically reviewed for possible supplemental discipline.

It’s unclear what is causing this jump in concussions – or what can really be done to slow them down, aside from changing the very nature of the game – but at least the league is trying to handle them with more finesse. Concussions have been on many of our minds in the last two seasons in particular and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon.

David Booth and the Florida Panthers find goals difficult to come by


When you think of the Florida Panthers, “explosive goal scorers” aren’t exactly the first thing that come to mind. My guess you either think of Tomas Vokoun, plastic rats/John Vanbiesbrouck or nothing at all.

But if the Panthers employed one player who seemed to be on the verge of becoming a genuine goal scoring threat, it would be David Booth. (At least now that Nathan Horton wears a Boston Bruins sweater.)

Some may argue that Booth cannot ask for much more than decent health after suffering from two concussions during a disastrous 2009-10 season, but the bottom line is that he is struggling to score goals. Booth only has five goals in 22 games with a pitiful 5.6 shooting percentage this season and hasn’t lit the lamp in 11 appearances.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the Panthers are similarly snake-bitten. Aside from a nice 4-3 shootout win, Florida has been particularly punch-less in the last four games, only scoring six goals (not counting that fake shootout tally) in that span.

Harvey Fialkov discussed the team’s struggles and how much Booth is pressing to improve, in particular.

Assistant coach Jim Hulton has joked that if and when they score their next power play goal (0 for 37) that they’ll stop play and present a plaque at center ice. David Booth might do the same for his next goal after going the last 11 games without lighting the lamp. That matches his longest slump since his 2008-09 season when he scored a career-high 31 goals. He stayed late after practice just taking wrist shot after shot into the empty net, aiming for different spots. He told me after that he needs to shoot more on the goalie’s stick side just above the pads. Coach Pete DeBoer dropped him to the second line with speedy youngsters Michal Repik and Mike Santorelli (who’s been with Booth alot over the last month). Stephen Weiss, who only has one goal in his last seven, but had the game-winning goal in Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win over Tampa Bay, is now with Shawn Matthias and Michael Frolik – who is also in an 0-for-9 drought. DeBoer is grateful that his secondary scorers like Santorelli, Radek Dvorak and Marty Reasoner have helped compensate for his expected top guns.

Perhaps the most disturbing number of all is the fact that Booth hasn’t scored a goal on the power play since what seemed like a breakthrough 31-goal season in 2008-09. His last PP goal came on April 5, 2009 according to Hockey Reference’s game logs.

Let’s not glaze this in too much doom and gloom, though. After all, those injury concerns limited him to only 53 games since then. It’s still a troubling number, but Booth is only 26 years old. The truth about Booth’s game is somewhere between his 31 goal season (with by far a career high shooting percentage at 12.6) and this tough start with that aforementioned 5.6 rate.

Booth just needs to keep plugging away while the Panthers need to keep adding promising young talent and hope that the future ends up sunnier than the present in Sunrise.

Hat tricks are piling up at a near-historic rate this season


There are a lot of great moments in hockey, but few please crowds quite like a hat trick. It’s simple to see why: most of the time, if a player scores three goals by himself, his team is likely to earn a win. Beyond that, it gives fans an opportunity to throw something toward the ice without fear of a Ron Artest-style retribution.

(Though you might recall Sidney Crosby didn’t especially appreciate Capitals fans throwing hats during the 2009 playoffs.)

If you noticed a considerable increase in hat tricks so far this season, you’re justified in doing so. Adam Kimmelman of NHL.com points out that the league hasn’t seen hat tricks being scored at such a rate since the 1994-95 season. Let’s take a look at some of Kimmelman’s findings.

(Note: these stats are valid before tonight’s games. No one scored a hat trick in the night’s first five games, although Torrey Mitchell currently has two goals in the Ducks-Sharks game as of this writing.)

Through the first 247 games this season, there have been 20 players putting together three-goal games, the most at this point in a season since 1994-95, when there were 22. At this point last season there were just 11 hat tricks.

Nineteen different players have had hat tricks this season, including a pair by Washington Capitals forward Alexander Semin. He had 3 goals against the Thrashers in a 4-3 overtime victory Oct. 23, and had 3 goals — including the game-winner, as well as 2 assists — in 6-3 win against the Lightning on Nov. 11.

That same night, Philadelphia Flyers forward Jeff Carter scored 3 straight goals — a natural hat trick — in an 8-1 rout of the Hurricanes. It was the first natural hat trick in an NHL game since Marian Gaborik accomplished the feat Jan. 31, 2010.

Two hat tricks on one day hasn’t been all that unique this season — Oct. 22 and Oct. 23 each featured a hat trick of hat tricks.

(Continued note: it’s not clear if adding five or six games to that hat trick stat changes things significantly.)

As Kimmelman pointed out, there were some historic moments attached to some of those hat tricks. From the early accomplishment angle, New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan scored his first career goal(s) via a hat trick. On the other end of the fence, Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson earned his 1,000th career point as part of a hat trick performance.

Believe it or not, 247 (or even 253) games is actually a fairly small sample for league-wide trends. Hat tricks are still relatively rare occurrences, so these trends could go two different ways. It could go either way, but so far, it’s been fun to watch the hats fly with such startling frequency.

Should we call them the Cardiac Capitals?


The Washington Capitals sit atop the NHL once again as of today, thanks in part to an impressive streak in which they won six in a row and eight of their last nine games.

That might not be a big surprise, but the way in which they’re doing it is: the Caps are winning many of their games in come-from-behind fashion. As it turns out, when it comes to Washington, no lead is particularly safe.

It’s unclear why, exactly, they’re forming this trend aside from the obvious fact that they employ an explosive ensemble of players from Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom to Mike Green. My guess is they also have a tendency to seduce other teams into playing their wide-open style of hockey, much like the Phoenix Suns would continue to push the pace of games to dictate their fast break offense.

John Kreiser of NHL.com provides some interesting numbers regarding the team’s new tendency to overcome deficits.

Over the course of the season, teams that score first win about 65 percent of the time. But the Caps are doing it backwards — they’ve got 12 victories despite being scored on first 12 times in their 16 games, including Thursday’s 6-3 victory against Tampa Bay. Washington is 9-3-0 when allowing the first goal, a pace that history says will be impossible to sustain.

It’s a big contrast from last season, when the Capitals were second in the NHL with 52 first goals (Chicago was tops with 56) and had a 38-7-7 record in those games. They won 16 of the 30 games in which they allowed the first goal — the only team in the NHL with a winning percentage of .500 or better when doing so.

While it might be unsustainable, it’s a great thing for hockey. When you have a team as good as the Capitals winning despite falling behind, it encourages fans to keep watching and also indicates that the team won’t roll over and die in the face of adversity. You have to wonder if such an attitude might hint at the possibility that this team is getting ready to progress from a regular season juggernaut to a legitimate playoff threat.