Canadian clubs struggling: HNIC's Take 5
HNIC's senior online reporter Tim Wharnsby dishes out the latest news, buzz and inside information in the hockey world.
1. Road warriors
All eyes will be on the New Jersey Devils when they visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday. The Eastern Conference leaders can match the Buffalo Sabres' three-year-old record for the best start on the road by winning their 10th in a row. It won't be easy for the Devils, because the Philly crowd will be revved up after the team inducts Dave Schultz, a key member of the old Broad Street Bullies, into the Flyers Hall of Fame in a pre-game ceremony. Why have the Devils been so good this season? One reason has been their discipline. They've taken only 9.8 penalty minutes per game, the third-lowest total behind Detroit's 9.5 and Nashville's 9.3.
2. Hurricanes win!
At the other end of the standings, the Carolina Hurricanes finally snapped their franchise record-tying streak of 14 losses with a 5-4 victory against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. The Hurricanes almost extended their run of futility to 15 games by blowing a 4-1 lead, but came back to win it on Jussi Jokinen's shootout goal. Earlier on the weekend, Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford apologized for his team's ugly start. "I'm sorry this has turned out the way it has," he said. "Certainly we didn't see it coming. I'm going to do my best to rectify it sooner rather than later, though it's not easy to fix once you get going down one road. I would say 'sorry' to the fans. I didn't expect this." Prior to the win against the Wild, the Hurricanes' last victory was when they beat the Florida Panthers 7-2 on Oct. 9.
3. Shootout stars
Jokinen has scored the most shootout goals since the gimmick was added to NHL games four years ago, converting 25 of 45 chances. Atlanta Thrashers veteran Slava Kozlov is next with 24 shootouts goals (in 41 tries), followed by New York Ranger Ales Kotalik (21 for 39).
4. Canadian achin'
If the Stanley Cup playoffs started today, the Calgary Flames would be the only Canadian club participating. Even though Flames coach Brent Sutter wasn't pleased with his team's 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, Calgary has played well enough to collect five victories in its past six games. The same can't be said for the other Canadian teams. The Edmonton Oilers have lost three straight, as have the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Montreal Canadiens have dropped three of four. Ditto for the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators.
5. Love for Lindros
Eric Lindros may be surprised to learn that Flyers executive Bob Clarke believes Lindros should be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame next fall. Clarke was the general manager when Lindros played with Philadelphia and he often feuded with Lindros and his parents. "Even with my dislike of Lindros, I still think he should be in the Hall of Fame," Clarke told the Philadelphia Daily News. "You are supposed to be judged on how you play the game, not who likes you. For me, he won the MVP award and the Lester Pearson award, which is the most valuable player award [as] voted by the players. If he is good enough to win that, then I think he is good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. He really was the most dominant player in the league for a time."