Wednesday, August 26, 2009




Sunday, July 19, 2009


What was the first NHL team to win back-to-back Stanley Cup titles?

Choose Your Answer:

A: Montreal Canadiens,
B: Vancouver Millionaires,
C: Ottawa Senators,
D: New York Rangers

On April 4, 1921, the Ottawa Senators defeated the Vancouver Millionaires 2-1 in the decisive fifth game of the 1921 Stanley Cup Final. Jack Darragh scored both goals for the Senators, who became the first NHL team to win back-to-back Stanley Cup titles.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The NHL Draft. All-Time: Ups and Downs

Drafting is an inexact science -- for every late-round gem (Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk), there's a high pick that didn't work out the way the a team had planned (Patrik Stefan).

Here's a look at some of the best choices in the history of the Entry Draft, as determined by where they were selected among the top 30 picks. (Up and coming includes players taken from 2004-08)

No. 1: Mario Lemieux (Pittsburgh, 1984) -- If the Penguins had not drafted Lemieux in 1984, the franchise likely would have left Pittsburgh two decades ago. Lemieux was brilliant from the day he arrived, and eventually the Penguins built a supporting cast that helped him lead the franchise to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991-92. Had he stayed healthy, it would have been interesting to see whether he could have broken some of Wayne Gretzky's scoring records. He was perhaps the most physically talented player in NHL history.

Runners-up: Guy Lafleur (1971), Denis Potvin (1973)
Up and coming: Alex Ovechkin (2004), Sidney Crosby (2005); Patrick Kane (2007)
Disappointment: Patrik Stefan (1999)

No. 2: Brendan Shanahan (New Jersey, 1987) -- Shanahan's career came full circle in 2008-09 when he re-signed with the Devils, the team he began his career with more than two decades earlier. He's one of the great power forwards of any era, with 656 goals, 1,354 points, 2,489 penalty minutes, three Stanley Cups -- and a Hall of Fame berth as soon as he's eligible, which could be soon depending on whether he plays next season.

Runners-up: Marcel Dionne (1971), Chris Pronger (1993)
Up and coming: Evgeni Malkin (2004), Drew Doughty (2008)
Disappointment: Dave Chyzowski (1989)

No. 3: Scott Niedermayer (New Jersey, 1991) -- Few defensemen in NHL history have had Niedermayer's wheels -- he's as swift and smooth a skater as you'll ever see. Niedermayer's offensive numbers were held down somewhat because he played much of his career with the defense-first Devils. There were benefits, however -- he helped the Devils to three Stanley Cups and then captained Anaheim to another in 2007. He became a Devil in one of Lou Lamoriello's greatest trades -- the New Jersey GM dealt journeyman defenseman Tom Kurvers to Toronto in 1989 for the pick that turned into Niedermayer.

Runners-up: Denis Savard (1980), Pat LaFontaine (1983)
Up and coming: Jack Johnson (2005), Jonathan Toews (2006)
Disappointment: Neil Brady (1986)

No. 4: Steve Yzerman (Detroit, 1983) -- It's hard to believe now, but then-Wings GM Jim Devellano actually hoped to get Pat LaFontaine with the fourth pick in 1983, because LaFontaine had played locally and might help sell tickets. Instead, the Wings had to "settle" for Yzerman, who came into the NHL as a high scorer but later showed he was willing to trade individual points for team wins. The result was three Stanley Cups in six seasons, all of them with Yzerman as captain.

Runners-up: Mike Gartner (1979), Ron Francis (1981)
Up and coming: Niklas Backstrom (2006)
Disappointment: Alexandre Volchkov (1996)

No. 5: Jaromir Jagr (Pittsburgh, 1990) -- Missing the playoffs on the last night of the regular season is painful, but the Penguins' consolation prize for their near-miss in 1990 was Jagr. The Czech teenager turned into the perfect sidekick for Mario Lemieux and was a key to the Penguins' back-to-back Cup wins in 1991 and '92. He owns five NHL scoring titles, a Hart Trophy and seven First-Team All-Star berths, as well as five 100-point seasons. His combination of speed, skill and power is matched by very few players in NHL history.

Runners-up: Scott Stevens (1982), Tom Barrasso (1983)
Up and coming: Carey Price (2005); Luke Schenn (2008)
Disappointment: Daniel Dore (1988)

No. 6: Peter Forsberg (Philadelphia, 1991) -- Talk about the one that got away -- the Flyers drafted Forsberg with the sixth pick, but traded him to Quebec a year later in the Eric Lindros deal. Forsberg became one of the NHL's toughest skill players, a center who could beat you with a shot, a pass or just by running over you. It's hard to imagine how good he'd have been if injuries hadn't slowed him down and ultimately cut short his career.

Runners-up: Phil Housley (1982), Vincent Damphousse (1986)
Up and coming: Eric Johnson (2006), Sam Gagner (2007)
Disappointment: Daniel Tkaczuk (1997)

No. 7: Bernie Federko (St. Louis, 1976) -- At (maybe) 6 feet tall and all of 178 pounds, Federko hardly was a physical presence, but he more than made up for any lack of physicality with his hockey skills, which helped him pile up 369 goals and 1,130 points in exactly 1,000 games on the way to the Hall of Fame. He was the first player in NHL history to earn at least 50 assists in 10 consecutive seasons (1978-79 to 1987-88).

Runners-up: Bill Barber (1972), Shane Doan (1995)
Up and coming: Rostislav Olesz (2004); Kyle Okposo (2006)
Disappointment: Ryan Sittler (1992)

No. 8: Ray Bourque (Boston, 1979) -- Bourque stepped right into the NHL from junior hockey in 1979 and didn't step out until he skated away as a Stanley Cup champion with Colorado in 2001. Bourque holds all the NHL career scoring marks for defensemen (410 goals, 1,169 assists, 1,579 points), was a First-Team All-Star 13 times -- including 2000-01, when he turned 41 -- and won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman five times. Bourque rarely was flashy, but almost always brilliant.

Runners-up: Grant Fuhr (1981), Jeremy Roenick (1988)
Up and coming: Devin Setoguchi (2005), Peter Mueller (2006)
Disappointment: Rocky Trottier (1982)

No. 9: Brian Leetch (N.Y. Rangers, 1986) -- Leetch, who spent most of his career with the Rangers, arguably is the greatest U.S.-born player in NHL history. He joined the Rangers after one season at Boston College and a stint with the 1988 U.S. Olympic team and never stopped putting up points. Leetch won the 1989 Calder Trophy, took home the Norris Trophy twice and led the Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup (their only one since 1940) while becoming the first (and still only) American to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Runners-up: Cam Neely (1983), Rod Brind'Amour (1988)
Up and coming: James Sheppard (2006); Josh Bailey (2008)
Disappointment: Brett Lindros (1994)

No. 10: Teemu Selanne (Winnipeg, 1988) -- In terms of raw offensive numbers, Selanne had the greatest rookie season of all time. He announced his arrival in 1992 by shattering NHL records for first-year players with 76 goals and 132 points. The Finnish Flash led the NHL in goals three times and was good enough to score 48 goals and 94 points at age 36, helping the Anaheim Ducks to their first Stanley Cup. He had 27 goals for Anaheim this season and likely will go past 600 for his career if he comes back next season.

Runners-up: Steve Vickers (1971), Bobby Holik (1989)
Up and coming: Michael Frolik (2006); Cody Hodgson (2008)
Disappointment: Mikhail Yakubov (2000)

No. 11: Jarome Iginla (Dallas, 1995) -- The Stars traded the future for the present when they sacrificed Iginla to get Joe Nieuwendyk from Calgary. Landing Nieuwendyk helped them win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history in 1999, but the long-term cost has been steep -- Iginla has become one of the NHL's top stars. He's won the Art Ross, Rocket Richard and Lester B. Pearson trophies and was a Hart Trophy finalist in 2007-08 after reaching the 50-goal mark for the second time. He owns the Flames' franchise records for career goals and points.

Runners-up: Brian Rolston (1991), Brendan Witt (1993)
Up and coming: Anze Kopitar (2005); Brandon Sutter (2007)
Disappointment: David Cooper (1992)

No. 12: Gary Roberts (Calgary, 1984) -- If it seemed like Roberts was around forever, that's because he was -- at least by hockey standards. Roberts won a Stanley Cup with Calgary at age 23, scored 53 goals three seasons later, missed most of three seasons recovering from a serious neck injury, and still managed to score 438 goals and 910 points in 1,224 games. At age 42 he was a key locker-room presence in Pittsburgh's run to the 2008 Stanley Cup Final, and he played briefly with Tampa Bay before retiring this season.

Runners-up: Kenny Jonsson (1993), Marian Hossa (1997)
Up and coming: Marc Staal (2005), Bryan Little (2006)
Disappointment: Josh Holden (1996)

No. 13: Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Hartford, 1995) -- The last first-round draft selection in Whalers history had to make a few stops before finding success, but Giguere has been one of the keys to the rise of the Anaheim Ducks. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2003, when Anaheim lost the Stanley Cup Final to New Jersey, and he could have won again in 2007 after the Ducks topped Ottawa for their first Stanley Cup.

Runners-up: Mattias Ohlund (1994), Ales Hemsky (2001)
Up and coming: Drew Stafford (2004); Jiri Tlusty (2006)
Disappointment: Michael Henrich (1998)

No. 14: Rick Middleton (N.Y. Rangers, 1973) -- Want to make a Rangers fan groan? Mention Middleton, who came up as the Rangers were entering a rebuilding phase and was sacrificed in a trade that brought Phil Esposito's long-time sidekick, Ken Hodge, to the Big Apple in 1976. The Rangers traded Middleton's future for Hodge's past -- Middleton had seven straight 30-goal seasons and went on to score more than 400 goals with the Bruins, while Hodge was out of the League 18 games into his second season in New York.

Runners-up: Brian Propp (1979), Sergei Gonchar (1992)
Up and coming: Kevin Shattenkirk (2007), Zach Boychuk (2008)
Disappointment: Jim Malone (1980)

No. 15: Mike Bossy (N.Y. Islanders, 1977) -- Twelve teams (including the Rangers and Toronto twice each) passed on Bossy because he was regarded as just another sniper from the run-and-gun Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Isles coach Al Arbour told GM Bill Torrey he could teach Bossy to play defense; he was right, and the rest is history. Bossy scored 573 goals in just 10 seasons and was a key to the Isles' four consecutive Stanley Cups before being forced to retire in 1987 due to back problems. Had Bossy stayed healthy, it's likely he -- not Wayne Gretzky -- would have broken Gordie Howe's all-time record for goals.

Runners-up: Al MacInnis (1981), Joe Sakic (1987)
Up and coming: Riku Helenius (2006), Erik Karlsson (2008)
Disappointment: Scott Kelman (1999)

No. 16: Dave Andreychuk (Buffalo, 1982) -- At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Andreychuk was a presence in front of the net for more than two decades. He was a big scorer in the first half of his career, totaling 30 or more goals seven times with Buffalo and getting 53 for Toronto in 1993-94. He remained a consistent scorer for another decade while improving his all-round game. He also became a leader and was captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning when they won the 2004 Stanley Cup. Andreychuk retired with 640 goals and 1,338 points in 1,639 games.

Runners-up: Al Secord (1978), Markus Naslund (1991)
Up and coming: Petteri Nokelainen (2004), Colton Gillies (2007)
Disappointment: Ty Jones (1997)

No. 17: Bobby Clarke (Philadelphia, 1969) -- Clarke fell to the second round in 1969 because teams didn't want to take a chance on drafting a diabetic. The Flyers called his name at No. 17 and got a Hall of Famer. The diabetes became a non-issue as Clarke became a star. He was named team captain at 23, at the time the youngest player ever to get the "C." Clarke's drive and skill led the Flyers to Stanley Cups in 1974 and '75, and he retired in 1984 with 1,210 points, three Hart trophies and a hatful of other honors.

Runners-up: Brent Sutter (1980), Kevin Hatcher (1984)
Up and coming: Martin Hanzal (2005), Trevor Lewis (2006)
Disappointment: Brent Bilodeau (1991)

No. 18: Glen Murray (Boston, 1991) -- Murray had two stints with the Bruins (sandwiched around time with Pittsburgh and Los Angeles); suffice it to say the second was better than the first. Murray never had scored 30 goals in a season before returning to the Bruins in 2001-02, and then did it three times in a row, including a high of 44 in 2002-03. A solid player for a long time, he had 337 goals and 651 points in 1,009 NHL games.

Runners-up: Ken Daneyko (1982), Petr Sykora (1995)
Up and coming: Kyle Chipchura (2004), Ryan Parent (2005)
Disappointment: Jesper Mattsson (1993)

No. 19: Keith Tkachuk (Winnipeg, 1990) -- The Jets grabbed Tkachuk in 1990 and he made the NHL after one season at Boston University. Tkachuk became one of the NHL's best power forwards -- a two-time 50-goal scorer and the first U.S.-born player to lead the NHL in goals when he had 52 in 1996-97. He continued scoring after being dealt to St. Louis in 2000-01, reached the 500-goal mark on the final day of the 2007-08 season and was a big reason the Blues surprisingly made the playoffs in 2008-09.

Runners-up: Craig Ramsay (1971), Olaf Kolzig (1989)
Up and coming: Lauri Korpikoski (2004); Jakub Kindl (2005)
Disappointment: Matthieu Descoteaux (1996)

No. 20: Martin Brodeur (New Jersey, 1990) -- It may be hard to believe now, but the winningest goaltender in NHL history was not the first goalie picked in 1990 (Calgary took Trevor Kidd at No. 11). Brodeur passed Patrick Roy for the wins record this season and figures to surpass Terry Sawchuk's mark of 103 shutouts early in 2009-10. He has three Stanley Cup rings, four Vezina trophies and is regarded as the gold standard among NHL goaltenders.

Runners-up: Larry Robinson (1971), Michel Goulet (1979)
Up and coming: Travis Zajac (2004), Michael Del Zotto (2008)
Disappointment: Barrett Heisten (1999)

No. 21: Kevin Lowe (Edmonton, 1979) -- The Oilers' first draft pick after the NHL-WHA merger was a superb choice. Lowe anchored the defense on a team that won five Stanley Cups in seven years, then provided stability on the blue line when the New York Rangers broke their 54-year drought by winning the Cup in 1994. Lowe wasn't flashy, but on an offense-first juggernaut, he was a huge stabilizing factor.

Runners-up: Patrick Flatley (1982), Saku Koivu (1993)
Up and coming: Wojtek Wolski (2004), Tuukka Rask (2005)
Disappointment: Evgeni Ryabchikov (1994)

No. 22: Bryan Trottier (N.Y. Islanders, 1974) -- The Islanders completed a Hall of Fame daily double when they picked Trottier, a center from Swift Current, with their second pick in 1974 (they took his future linemate, Clark Gillies, with their first pick). Trottier was the prototypical two-way center -- tough, strong, defensively diligent -- but his offensive skills were off the chart. Trottier, Gillies and Mike Bossy formed one of the NHL's best lines for years. After scoring 500 goals and helping the Isles to four straight Stanley Cups in the 1980s, Trottier finished his career with two more Cups as a checking center in Pittsburgh.

Runners-up: Adam Graves (1986), Adam Foote (1989)
Up and coming: Matt Lashoff (2005), Claude Giroux (2006)
Disappointment: Nikos Tselios (1997)

No. 23: Ray Whitney (San Jose, 1991) -- The second draft pick in team history is 37 but still going strong, with 24 goals and a team-high 77 points for Carolina (his sixth NHL team) in 2008-09. That moved the Edmonton native past 300 goals and 800 points for his career -- not bad for a kid whose first hockey claim to fame was being the Oilers' stick boy in Wayne Gretzky's last season in Edmonton (1987-88). That's pretty good for a 5-foot-10, 180-pounder who was told he was too small to make it in the NHL.

Runners-up: Travis Green (1989), Todd Bertuzzi (1993)
Up and coming: Andrej Meszaros (2004), Simeon Varlamov (2006)
Disappointment: Craig Hillier (1996)

No. 24: Doug Jarvis (Montreal, 1975) -- No one was better at showing up for work every night than Jarvis, who broke into the NHL on opening night of the 1975-76 season and suited up for 964 consecutive games, a record that's not likely to be broken. Jarvis scored as many as 20 goals only once, but was one of the NHL's best checkers and combined with Bob Gainey and Doug Risebrough to form one of the League's top shut-down lines during the Canadiens' dynasty of the late 1970s.

Runners-up: Sean Burke (1985), Daniel Briere (1996)
Up and coming: T.J. Oshie (2005)
Disappointment: J-F Damphousse (1997)

No. 25: Mark Howe (Boston, 1974) -- Gordie's son never did play for the Bruins. Instead, Mark and Marty Howe joined their father in Houston, where they led the Aeros to a WHA title and made the club one of the league's flagship franchises in its early years. The Howes went to Hartford in 1977 and stayed with the Whalers through the merger with the NHL. Mark shifted to defense and had a number of excellent seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. He obviously wasn't as good as his father, but totaling his WHA and NHL numbers, he scored more than 400 goals and had 1,246 points in 1,355 games.

Runners-up: Gilles Gilbert (1969), Brenden Morrow (1997)
Up and coming: Andrew Cogliano (2005), Patrik Berglund (2006)
Disappointment: Mikhail Kuleshov (1999)

No. 26: Claude Lemieux (Montreal, 1983) -- Lemieux somehow kept showing up when there were Stanley Cups to be won -- he took home rings with Montreal, New Jersey and Colorado. He also earned a reputation as one of the game's best playoff performers (and most irritating players). Lemieux was on four Cup winners, earned the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1995, and stunned the hockey world by making a comeback with San Jose this season at age 43. He has 379 goals and 786 points in the regular season, plus 80 goals and 158 points in 233 postseason contests.

Runners-up: Don Maloney (1978), Zigmund Palffy (1991)
Up and coming: Cory Schneider (2004), David Perron (2007)
Disappointment: Kevin Grimes (1997)

No. 27: Joe Nieuwendyk (Calgary, 1985) -- Nieuwendyk started his NHL career with a bang, scoring 51 goals in each of his first two full seasons, the second of which ended with the Flames hoisting the Stanley Cup. Nieuwendyk had 45 goals in each of the next two seasons, and though he never reached 40 goals again, he was a consistent scorer for winning teams until retiring in 2006-07 with 564 goals and 1,126 points, plus 66 playoff goals, and Stanley Cup rings with three different teams.

Runners-up: Scott Mellanby (1984), Scott Gomez (1998)
Up and coming: Jeff Schultz (2004), Ivan Vishnevskiy (2006)
Disappointment: Ari Ahonen (1999)

No. 28: Mike Richter (N.Y. Rangers, 1985) -- Richter arguably is the best U.S.-born goaltender in history. He was in net when the Rangers ended their 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994, led the United States to the World Cup two years later and to the silver medal in the 2002 Winter Olympics. He ended his career (prematurely, due to concussions) with 301 wins, the most in Rangers history, despite spending the first few seasons of his career splitting time with John Vanbiesbrouck.

Runners-up: Guy Chouinard (1974), Justin Williams (2000)
Up and coming: Matt Niskanen (2005), Viktor Tikhonov (2008)
Disappointment: Adrian Foster (2001)

No. 29: Danny Gare (Buffalo, 1974) -- The Sabres took Gare in the second round after he scored 45 and 68 goals in his last two junior seasons. He quickly showed those totals were no fluke, scoring 31 as a rookie to help the Sabres make the Stanley Cup Final, and he reached the 50-goal mark in his second season. He had a career-best 56 in 1979-80, when he was a Second-Team All-Star, and came back with 46 the next season. He finished his career in 1986-87 with 354 goals and 685 points in 827 games.

Runners-up: Stephane Richer (1984), Corey Perry (2003)
Up and coming: Mike Green (2004), Steve Downie (2005)
Disappointment: Brian Wesenberg (1995)

No. 30: Randy Carlyle (Toronto, 1976) -- The Leafs took Carlyle with their first pick (in the second round) in 1976, bounced him up and down between Toronto and the minors for two seasons, and then dealt him to Pittsburgh in the summer of 1978. It was a deal they would come to regret, as Carlyle won the 1981 Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman, played in four All-Star Games and wound up scoring 647 points in 1,055 games with the Leafs, Penguins and Winnipeg Jets. He's done pretty well as a coach, too, leading Anaheim to the Cup in 2007.

Runners-up: Mark Hardy (1979), Patrice Brisebois (1989)
Up and coming: Matthew Corrente (2006), Nick Ross (2007)
Disappointment: Luke Sellars (1999)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pens Win the Cup, Malkin - Conn Smythe Trophy

Malkin - 2009 Stanley Cup MVP

DETROIT -- The comment came a year ago. Same time, same place, Stanley Cup on the line. Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero was admiring the development of Evgeni Malkin as a player and person, and he wondered what his big, strong, talented young center might look like in two or three years.

"A lack of English sometimes holds him back," Shero noted. "But Geno has a great personality -- and it comes out more and more all
the time."

A second later, Shero came up with the ultimate sound bite, "When you look at his play, you don't need audio. You just need video."

Fast-forward from the day Malkin was selected No. 2 overall to Alex Ovechkin in the 2004 Entry Draft. He was awkward that day, kind of dizzy -- looking at adapting to life in a different world, different culture, with a new language. Even though there's a universal language in hockey, life around the sport can indeed be foreign.

Malkin will turn 23 on July 31. His spoken English is still a little iffy, but his body English is impeccably North American now after three seasons with the Pens and totals of 85, 106 and a League-leading 113 points this season.

"If you really wanted to do a book on him, you could do hundreds of pages long with all the things he does well," former Phoenix Coyotes GM Michael Barnett said after the 2004 Draft. "If you were looking for negatives, it wouldn't even fill up a page."

But the vagaries of youth and trying to get accustomed to a new world can be difficult, even for the best athletes. However, after struggling as many of his teammates did in the Stanley Cup Final against the Detroit Red Wings a year ago, when he had just 1 goal and 2 assists in the six games, Malkin has had a monster playoff performance this year.

After the Pens stumbled to an 0-2 hole in the Final, it was Malkin's three assists in Game 3 that gave the powerful Pittsburgh center a
League-leading 33 points in the playoffs -- making him the first NHL player to surpass 30 points in the playoffs since Colorado's Joe Sakic accomplished the feat in 1996. That total included 11 multiple-point games.

His deft interception of Brad Stuart's pass and subsequent sweep pass set up Maxime Talbot's goal 1:13 into the second period gave the
Penguins a lead they never relinquished Friday night en route to a 2-1 Game 7 victory and Stanley Cup triumph. It was Malkin's 36th point of the playoffs -- the most of any player since Wayne Gretzky in 1993. That was enough to earn him the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

He also joined Wayne Gretzky, Guy Lafleur, Phil Esposito and Mario Lemieux as the only players to lead the NHL in scoring in the regular season and the playoffs.

Ready to concede that Malkin is something very, very special?

"All young players struggle with consistency -- and, if anything, that's all he seemed to be missing in last year's Final series," Red
Wings center Henrik Zetterberg observed before Game 7. "This year, he seems to be more comfortable, more confident, more powerful. He's definitely physically stronger and harder to handle."

Sidney Crosby, who feeds off Malkin's strength as much as Malkin feeds off Crosby's leadership, singled out a more electric game from Malkin this season.

"If anything, it's energy," Crosby said. "He looks like he's full of it out there."

"He's a more experienced guy who has been through it once before and you can see he is more comfortable," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "He's a big guy that can hang onto the puck. He comes from the neutral zone with speed. And because of his reach and his size he
can be hard to handle. But I don't think anybody's really surprised. He's one of the best players in the world."

There's skill, grace, size and speed -- and he's still a kid.

"I started to get used to the faster pace," he said the other day. "Playing in a strong league definitely sped up my development."

Penguins center Jordan Staal has an interesting thought: He believes Crosby and Ovechkin have steered Malkin to the front row of talent.

"Geno's taken it to another level," Staal said. "I think he's figured out for himself that those two will keep improving, and if he wants to
be the best he's got to pick up his game.

"But, honestly, Geno's become pretty unreal the way he plays."

Though Malkin may still be shy in front of big crowds, he gives teammate (and fellow Russian) Sergei Gonchar plenty of credit for helping him bridge the gap from Magnitogorsk to Pittsburgh.

Gonchar took in Malkin as a house guest for his first two seasons in the NHL, allowing him to ease into the new culture. Gonchar talks about how Natalie, his 7-year-old daughter, used to help Malkin with English -- a few new words she had learned at school each day, and they would practice them together. That, plus watching American TV and listening to locker-room banter, has been his classroom.

"The great players usually find a way to make a difference," Shero said, with a big smile the other day.

Clearly, Evgeni Malkin is a natural on the ice. As he learns more about himself, his upside will be unlimited.

Reporters recently caught him at Mellon Arena, looking at photos of former Penguins stars Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr smiling as they gripped the Stanley Cup. The picture was on June 1, 1992, in a champagne-soaked visitors dressing room at Chicago Stadium.

It was one of those one-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words moments.

"It's my dream," Malkin said. "Me and Sid, just like that."

The snap shot of Malkin and Crosby is real now -- and there's clearly more to come.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Game 6 Numbers

Game 6. Crosby vs. Lidstrom

A few of the pertinent numbers from Pittsburgh's 2-1 win over Detroit in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Tuesday night:

0 -- Goals by Detroit's Marian Hossa in this year's Final. Hossa led Pittsburgh with 3 goals and seven points while playing against the Red Wings in last year's Final. He has only 3 assists in six games against his former team this year.

1 -- Games played in this year's Final by Pittsburgh forward Petr Sykora, who was a healthy scratch through the first five games after scoring 25 goals in the regular season. It was Sykora's 115th career playoff game -- but only his seventh appearance this spring.

2 -- Minor penalties against Pittsburgh in the third period, after the Penguins went more than two periods without taking a penalty. Evgeni Malkin was called for cross-checking at 9:18, and Bill Guerin drew a high-sticking minor at 12:40. It was a big contrast from Game 5, when the Penguins gave Detroit nine power plays and allowed three goals with the extra man.

3 -- Shots on goal by Detroit in the opening period. It was the third time in the Final that the Red Wings were limited to three shots in a period. They managed three in the third period of Game 2 and again in the final period of Game 3.

4 -- Takeaways by Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, the most of any player on either team. Malkin's total was one fewer than the entire Detroit team. Pittsburgh finished with 11 takeaways.

5 -- Times in this year's postseason that Detroit has been outshot, including Games 1, 2 and 6 of the Final. The Wings' loss in Game 6 marked the first time this spring that they've lost the game when being outshot.

5 -- Stanley Cup Finals this century that have gone to Game 7. This year's Final is the first to go the distance since 2006, when Edmonton and Carolina did it. The 2001, 2003 and 2004 Finals also went seven games. Before 2001, only two Finals since 1965 had gone to the max.

6 -- Blocked shots by Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik, the most of any player on either team. Rob Scuderi was next for the Pens with four, including a key block in the final seconds. Niklas Kronwall was tops with four of Detroit's 12 blocked shots.

7 -- Losses by the Red Wings in the 10 Game 6s they've played in the Final. The Wings won last year's Cup by winning Game 6 in Pittsburgh, but couldn't repeat the feat this year. Overall, the Wings are 28-22 in Game 6s, but 0-2 this year.

9 -- Wins by Pittsburgh in the 13 games in which it has scored first. The Penguins have scored first in four of the six games in the Final, winning three of them -- all at home.

10 -- Pittsburgh's record in this year's playoffs when leading after the second period. The Pens are 2-0 when ahead after two periods in the Final.

11 -- Faceoff wins by Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg, the most on either team -- and nearly half of Detroit's 24 wins in the circle. The teams each won 24 faceoffs, with Sidney Crosby going 9-7 and Jordan Staal going 8-6 for the Penguins. Darren Helm, who was dominant in the circle through the first four games for Detroit, lost six of seven faceoffs after going 1-5 in Game 5.

12:55 -- Elapsed time between shots on goal by Detroit in the first period. Dan Cleary had Detroit's second shot on goal 5:27 into the game. The Wings didn't get another shot until Henrik Zetterberg tested Marc-Andre Fleury at 18:22.

13 – Shutouts in this year's Playoffs, the same number as last year. Detroit's Chris Osgood has two, including one in the Final. Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury has not had a shutout, though he carried one into the third period on Tuesday night.

24 -- Times that a team has hosted Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final needing a win to avoid elimination. Pittsburgh is the 10th team to force the Final to a Game 7; only the 1950 Red Wings and 1971 Montreal Canadiens went on to win the Cup.

35 -- Hits credited to Pittsburgh, compared with 26 for the Red Wings. It's only the second time in the Final that the Penguins out-hit the Wings -- they've won both (Games 3 and 6). Detroit's 26 hits were its second-lowest total of the series; the Wings were out-hit 36-17 in Game 3, a 4-2 loss.

37 -- Shots by the Red Wings that didn't get to Fleury. The Wings missed the target on 17 shots and had 20 blocked. In contrast, the Penguins missed the net only seven times and had 12 blocked.

58 -- Wins in this year's playoffs by the team leading after the second period. Only three teams have lost a game this spring when taking the lead into the final period. Detroit has not won a game in this year's playoffs when trailing after 40 minutes; Pittsburgh has done it once.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Detroit Takes a Lead

Tomas Holmstrom wins the battle against Brooks Orpik

A few of the pertinent numbers from Detroit's 5-0 victory over Pittsburgh in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night.

0 -- Points in the Stanley Cup Final before Game 5 by Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who has played all five games against Pittsburgh after missing the last three games of the Western Conference Finals against Chicago. Lidstrom assisted on Brian Rafalski's second-period goal that made it 4-0.

1 -- Losses by Pittsburgh in Game 5 of their four Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins had won both of their previous Game 5s, beating the Minnesota North Stars in 1991 and Detroit last year (they swept Chicago in 1992). Overall, the Pens are 19-17 in Game 5s, 1-2 this year.

2 -- Shutouts by Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood in this year's playoffs. The other came in Game 2 of the opening round against Columbus. It was the 15th of his career and third in a Stanley Cup Final game -- he blanked Pittsburgh 4-0 in Game 1 and 3-0 in Game 2 last year.

3 -- Power-play goals by the Red Wings in the second period. Niklas Kronwall and Brian Rafalski scored in a 2:25 span early in the period, and Henrik Zetterberg added another at 16:40. The Wings had managed just one goal on the power play in the first four games of the Final.

4 -- Goals by Detroit in the second period, the most the Red Wings have scored in any period during this year's playoffs. It's also the Wings' biggest period in the Stanley Cup Final since April 26, 1966, when they scored four goals in the third period of Game 2, a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Detroit had scored four second-period goals in the first four games of this year's Final combined.

5 -- Career playoff assists by Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood, whose breakout pass led to Valtteri Filppula's goal 1:44 into the second period that made it 2-0. It was Osgood's second of this year's playoffs -- half of the total by all goaltenders in the postseason -- and the first assist by a goaltender in the Final since 2003, when New Jersey's Martin Brodeur (Game 1) and Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Game 3) both had one.

6 -- Shots on goal by Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg, the most by anyone on either team. Sergei Gonchar led Pittsburgh with four. Unlike Gonchar, Zetterberg scored a goal.

7 -- Hits credited to Detroit rookie center Darren Helm, giving him 32 for the series, the most of any player. Marian Hossa led the Wings in Game 5 with eight.

7 -- Games missed by Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk, who returned to the lineup on Saturday for the first time since injuring his foot in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against Chicago. The Hart Trophy finalist missed three games against Chicago and the first four of the Final against Pittsburgh. He wasted no time making an impact, setting up Dan Cleary's goal 13:32 into the game that put Detroit ahead to stay, then added another assist in the second period and finished plus-2 with two shots and four hits.

7:19 -- Elapsed time from the opening faceoff to the game's first whistle. The teams went without a stoppage of play until Niklas Kronwall took the game's first penalty for tripping Chris Kunitz. Each team had three shots on goal during that span.

8 -- Play stoppages in the first period that resulted in faceoffs. Including the start of the game, there were just nine draws in the opening 20 minutes (an average period has 15-20 faceoffs). Detroit won five of the nine faceoffs.

11 -- Home victories by Detroit in its 12 games at Joe Louis Arena this spring. The Wings' only home loss in this year's playoffs was a 4-3, triple-overtime defeat at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals. They've won all eight games since then.

12 -- Years since the Red Wings won a Stanley Cup Final game by five or more goals. Detroit's last victory by that many goals was a 6-1 rout of Philadelphia in Game 3 of the 1997 Final. The last time the Wings scored as many as five goals in the Final was Game 2 in 1998, when they rallied for a 5-4 overtime victory over Washington.

19 ­-- Previous occasions in which the Final was tied 2-2 after four games. Good omen for the Red Wings: Fourteen of the 19 teams that won Game 5 went on to win the Cup. The last one that didn't was the 2004 Calgary Flames, who lost Games 6 and 7 to Tampa Bay. Only one team, the 1971 Montreal Canadiens, was tied 2-2, lost Game 5 on the road and rallied to win the Cup.

36 -- Wins by Detroit in Game 5s of a playoff series. Saturday night's victory moved the Wings back to .500 (36-36) in the 72 Game 5s they've played, including 6-8 in the Final.

48 -- Consecutive playoff starts by Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury, who didn't make it through the second period in Game 5. It was the first time in this year's playoffs that Fleury was pulled.

49 -- Consecutive playoff victories for the Red Wings when they score four or more goals. The Wings haven't lost when scoring four or more goals in the postseason since the Phoenix Coyotes beat them 7-4 on April 24, 1998.

233 -- Stanley Cup Playoff games for Lidstrom, tying him with Scott Stevens for fifth on the all-time list. Detroit's captain will tie Claude Lemieux (234) for fourth place if he plays in Game 6.

300 -- Playoff victories in the history of the Red Wings' franchise, against 260 losses. The Wings are second in all-time playoff wins, trailing only the Montreal Canadiens, who have 398.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers...

Tomas Holmstrom vs. Jordan Staal and M-A Fleury

A few of the pertinent numbers from Pittsburgh's 4-2 victory over Detroit in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night.

-- Goals scored by Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom in the Red Wings' last 16 playoff games. Holmstrom had goals in Games 3 and 4 against Columbus in the opening round, but has just three assists since then while going scoreless against Anaheim (7 games), Chicago (5 games) and Pittsburgh (4 games so far).

1 -- Shorthanded goals scored by Pittsburgh in this year's playoffs. Jordan Staal's game-tying goal in the second period was Pittsburgh's first this spring while playing down a man. It was also the first shorthanded goal allowed by Detroit this year.

2 -- Goals in the Final by Detroit's Darren Helm. The speedy rookie now has three goals in this year's playoffs and six postseason goals in his career -- but has never scored in the regular season.

3 -- Consecutive games in the Final in which Pittsburgh has scored first. Detroit got the first goal in Game 1; the Penguins got it in each of the next three games. Overall, the Pens have scored first in 12 of their 21 playoff games this spring, going 8-4.

4 -- Players who've swept the scoring titles in both the regular season and playoffs since the first expansion in 1967. Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, who's tops in postseason scoring this year, is trying to become the fifth player to do so, joining Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky (four times), Guy Lafleur (twice) and Phil Esposito (twice). Malkin led the NHL with 113 points (35-78) during the regular season to win the Art Ross Trophy.

5 -- Times in nine road games this spring that Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood has allowed three or more goals. The Wings have lost the last three of those games, including Games 3 and 4 to the Penguins in the Final.

6 -- Years since a team lost the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, then won the next two. Anaheim lost the first two games of the 2003 Final at New Jersey, then won the next two games at home. That series went seven games, with the Devils winning Game 7 at home.

7 -- Points by Malkin in the first four games of this year's Final, the most of anyone on either team. It's a big jump from last year, when he had no points in the first four games and finished 1-2-3 in six games.

9 -- Power plays received by the Penguins in the first four games of the Final. The Penguins have made the most of their opportunities, scoring on four of them -- a 44.4-percent success rate.

9 -- Goals by the Red Wings in the Final while playing 5-on-5, compared with four for the Penguins. Overall this spring, the Wings have outscored opponents 44-23 when playing at full and equal strength.

10 -- Times in this year's playoffs that the Red Wings have allowed the game's first goal. They are 5-5 in those games, including 1-2 in the Final. In the 10 games they've scored the first goal, the Wings are 9-1-- including Game 1 against Pittsburgh.

13 -- Faceoffs lost by Staal, in 15 attempts. Staal, who had his first goal and points of the Final for Pittsburgh in Game 4, is now 15-47 on draws in the first four games.

16 -- Games this spring in which Detroit has allowed at least one power-play goal. The Wings have held the opposition without a goal on the power play just four times in 20 games -- and just once in the first four games of the Final.

35 -- Points in this year's playoffs by Malkin, four more than teammate Sidney Crosby. It's the most by any player in a single playoff year since Wayne Gretzky had 40 for Los Angeles in 1993.

39 -- Shots on goal by the Red Wings, the most by either team in the first four games of the Final. The Wings had 19 of those shots in the opening period, the highest single-period total so far in the Final.

52 -- Game 4s lost by Detroit in the playoffs, against 44 victories. It's the Red Wings' highest loss total in any game of a playoff series. The Wings had won all three previous Game 4s in this year's playoffs, winning at Columbus, Anaheim and Chicago. They also won Game 4 of last year's Final at Pittsburgh

210:34 -- Elapsed time in the series before Crosby scored his first goal of this year's Final. He put the Penguins ahead when he beat Chris Osgood midway through the second period, putting him first among all players in this year's playoffs with 15 goals.

232 -- Postseason games played by Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who played No. 232 on Thursday. He's now alone in fifth on the all-time list, breaking a tie with Guy Carbonneau. He can tie Scott Stevens (233 games played) for fourth by playing in Game 5 on Saturday night, and could move past Claude Lemieux (234) if the series goes seven games