Monday Musings: Rough weekend for NHL's Canadian clubs | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMonday Musings: Rough weekend for NHL's Canadian clubs

Posted: Monday, November 4, 2013 | 08:00 AM

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Oilers forward Jordan Eberle (14) gets hung up in the twine after charging the net in Saturday's 5-0 loss to the Red Wings. (Perry Nelson/Reuters) Oilers forward Jordan Eberle (14) gets hung up in the twine after charging the net in Saturday's 5-0 loss to the Red Wings. (Perry Nelson/Reuters)

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This week's Monday morning musings take a cross-country check up on the seven Canadian teams, a look at the candid remarks of Oilers defenceman Andrew Ference, the penalty-killing Sedins and the Avalanche's hot start.

Some Monday morning musings from the NHL and rest of the hockey world to get you started for the week that will see:

  • Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin returns to TD Garden on Tuesday for the first time since the Boston Bruins traded him in the summer.
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers clash Thursday in Columbus for the first time since the Rick Nash trade in July 2012 and the Marian Gaborik deal last season. Nash, however, will miss the occasion because he's been out with a concussion since Oct. 8.
  • Also on Thursday, Dallas rookie general manager Jim Nill returns to Detroit, where he was the long-time Red Wings assistant GM.
  • Hockey Hall of Fame induction weekend begins Friday with the New Jersey Devils visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs. Chris Chelios, Geraldine Heaney, Scott Niedermayer, Brendan Shanahan and the late Fred Shero will be inducted Nov. 11. Jay Greenberg and Harry Neale are the media honourees. 
  • The Maple Leafs travel to Boston for the first time since the Bruins remarkable rally to win Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs last spring.

Woe Canada

They booed the home teams in Winnipeg and Edmonton. And if Toronto and Montreal were playing at home this weekend, the jeers would have been loud and clear, too.

The Canadiens looked rather ordinary in losses in Minnesota and Colorado on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The Maple Leafs were significantly outplayed, losing 4-0 at Vancouver in a game that pitted the two best Canadian teams through the first five weeks of the season.

In total, Canadian-based NHL teams went a dismal 2-6-2 over the weekend. One Canadian club had to win the Canucks-Maple Leafs game and the only other victory came on Sunday evening, when Switzerland's Reto Berra shone with 42 saves in his NHL debut - a 3-2 win in overtime against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

The situations are not good in Edmonton and Winnipeg. A successful playoff push by either the Oilers or Jets at this point seems unlikely. Even though the Flames have worked hard to start 6-6-2, they're a post-season longshot, too.

The Senators have been unable to build off their remarkable run last season. The Canadiens have potential, but so far they have been streaky good and streaky bad.

The Maple Leafs have been started well, despite being outshot on most nights and a few key injuries. David Bolland is the latest to go down. The centre is out long-term with a lacerated left leg injury suffered in Vancouver.

At this point, the Canucks are Canada's best team. But they play in the Western Conference, the better of the two because of its depth.

It will be an interesting week for the Canucks. They have four games on the road against contending clubs like the Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. Combined this foursome has a record of 40-13-6 and this will be a good test for Vancouver.

Captain Candid

If you missed the After Hours portion of Hockey Night in Canada, it is worth a look to watch how candid Oilers captain Andrew Ference was with Scott Oake and co-host Kelly Hrudey after an embarrassing 5-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

"The guys are sick of it," said Ference, whose team hasn't scored a goal in 160 minutes and 48 seconds.

"How can you not be? It's embarrassing to finish in last place, to lose and to get booed at home.

"It's awful. It's a terrible thing as an athlete.

"It's not that losing has been accepted or anything like that. It's, like I said, a matter of breaking habits. It's like dealing with addiction - you know, it's incredibly hard to break."

The Oilers have staggered out of the gate at 3-10-2 and have fallen to 29th place overall. If they don't go on an incredible run to finish the year, they're destined to miss the playoffs for an eighth season in a row.

Ference, a native of Edmonton who won a Stanley Cup with the 2010-11 Boston Bruins, went on to defend rookie head coach Dallas Eakins.

Twin Killers

One of the many reasons John Tortorella has been good for the Canucks has been his decision to employ Henrik and Daniel Sedin as penalty killers. They weren't among the Canucks' regular rotation in shorthanded situations under former head coach Alain Vigneault, but that has changed this season.

The Sedins enjoy the extra ice time because it keeps them in the flow of the game, especially if the Canucks are involved in a game with a lot of penalties.

So far this season, Henrik Sedin has played a total of 16:40 in man-short situations, while Daniel Sedin has seen 16:04 of penalty-killing time. In the two previous seasons combined, Henrik played a total of 15:30 shorthanded and Daniel was at only 8:48.

Rocky Mountain High

When rookie head coach Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche beat up on the Canadiens 4-1 in Denver on Saturday evening, Colorado became the fifth team in NHL history to notch 12 wins in the first 13 games.

None of the previous four, however, have advanced past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

  • 2007-08: Senators, 12-1-0 (knocked out in first round by Pittsburgh)
  • 2005-06: Red Wings, 12-1-0 (eliminated in first round by Edmonton)
  • 1994-95: Penguins, 12-0-1 (knocked out in second round by New Jersey)
  • 1994-95: Nordiques, 12-1-0 (eliminated in first round by N.Y. Rangers)

The Blackhawks also got off to a good start in the lockout-shortened season last year en route to winning the Stanley Cup. They went 10-0-3 after 13 games.

Bench Blues

When the St. Louis Blues beat the Panthers 4-0 in Florida on Friday, Ken Hitchcock moved into a tie for 10th on the all-time win list for coaches with another former Blues bench boss in Jacques Martin.

For a team that has been around since 1967 and never has won a Stanley Cup, Hockey Night in Canada stats man Stan Nieradka points out that six of the 11 coaches on the all-times win list have guided the Blues at one time in their careers. 

1. Scotty Bowman, 1,244 wins (St. Louis, Montreal, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Detroit)

2. Al Arbour, 782 wins (St. Louis, N.Y. Islanders)

3. Dick Irvin Sr., 692 wins (Chicago, Toronto, Montreal)

4. Pat Quinn, 684 wins (Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton) 

5. Mike Keenan, 672 wins (Philadelphia, Chicago, N.Y. Rangers, St. Louis, Vancouver, Boston, Florida, Calgary)

6. Joel Quenneville,  661 wins (St. Louis, Colorado, Chicago) 

7. Ron Wilson, 648 wins (Anaheim, Washington, San Jose, Toronto) 

8. Bryan Murray, 620 wins (Washington, Detroit, Florida, Anaheim, Ottawa) 

9. Jacques Lemaire, 617 wins (Montreal, New Jersey, Minnesota) 

10. Ken Hitchcock, 613 wins (Dallas, Philadelphia, Columbus, St. Louis) 

10. Jacques Martin, 613 wins (St. Louis, Ottawa, Florida, Montreal) 

Team Canada 

Each week, we rank the top contenders for the three goalkeeper spots on the Canadian Olympic team based on their play to date.

1. Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh) - He became the first goalie to reach 10 victories this season, but he's still a long shot to lasso a roster spot because his last four post-seasons were poor.

2. Mike Smith (Phoenix) - He made a season-high 48 saves versus the Sharks on Saturday and is a big reason why the Coyotes have gone 10-3-2 for their best start since 2000-01.

3. Roberto Luongo (Vancouver) - He suffered a difficult defeat to Detroit last Wednesday, but bounced back with career shutout No. 64 in a 4-0 win against Toronto on Saturday. 

4. Carey Price (Montreal) - The Habs goalie won one and lost one last week, but he still has the eighth best save percentage in the NHL (.932).

5. Corey Crawford (Chicago) - The defending Stanley Cup champion goalkeeper has played well of late with seven victories in 10 starts, but did lose at home to Calgary on Sunday.

By The Numbers

3 - Points (a goal, two assists) in three games for New York Islanders newcomer Thomas Vanek. The Islanders have gone 2-1-0 since they swapped Vanek for Matt Moulson with the Buffalo Sabres last Sunday.

4 - Points (two goals, two assists) for Moulson in three games with his new club. But the 30th-place Sabres have dropped each of their three contests since the trade.

90th - Birthday for former Hockey Night in Canada analyst Howie Meeker on Monday. The four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Maple Leafs also won the 1946-47 Calder Trophy. He beat out Gordie Howe in his rookie season.

160 - Consecutive games Blues defenceman Alex Pietrangelo has played 20 minutes or more after he was on the ice for 27:11 in his club's 4-2 loss in Tampa Bay on Saturday.

13,216 - Kilometres travelled by the Ducks on their 15-day, eight-game road trip that finishes up against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday. The Ducks have gone 4-2-1 so far in their lengthy stint away from home.

Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC

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