Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- New Jersey Devils

By: Nick Lanciani

I continue to explore what retired numbers around the league may look like in the future. While there’s only a finite set of numbers to utilize on the back of a jersey, many teams choose to retire (or honor) some numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status.

Many thoughts went through my head in each and every consideration. Feel free to agree or disagree- I want to know what you, the fans, consider worthy when evaluating a player, their career, and whether or not their number should be retired by a franchise. I am interested in seeing what you have to say, assuming you are actually a fan of the team and/or player that you argue for or against. Drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

For each team, I thought of former and current players that should have their numbers retired now or once they hang up the skates.

New Jersey Devils LogoNew Jersey Devils

Current Retired Numbers- 3 Ken Daneyko, 4 Scott Stevens, 27 Scott Niedermayer

Recommended Numbers to Retire

30 Martin Brodeur

(This one was announced that it will be retired this season, after I wrote this, so here’s what I wrote before the announcement).

One of the greatest goalies of all time (other than Patrick Roy and Terry Sawchuk) will obviously have his number retired by the New Jersey Devils, right?

26 Patrik Elias

When Elias retires, there’s no denying the commitment he had to the Devils organization. It would be inconsiderate of them to not retire his number for all he has done.

19 Travis Zajac

At this point, his number would only be retired if he can lead them to the early 2000s glory they once had. So basically, he has to win a few Stanley Cups with New Jersey for his number to be raised to the rafters at the end of his career.

Other Notes

The Devils just don’t seem to be the type of team that 1) retires jersey numbers and/or 2) ever wants to change up their jerseys (or at least introduce an alternate jersey). I’m not saying their look is bad or that they are a lousy organization, but they not only look irrelevant on the ice, given their transition- they look irrelevant all around. A little something might liven up things or at the very least, remind everyone else they still exist. Your move, Ray Shero.*

*Obviously I wrote this before the season began, because the Devils have been quietly making noise this season. Good for them.

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Nashville Predators

By: Nick Lanciani

My look at what retired numbers around the league may look like in the future continues. While there’s only a finite set of numbers to utilize on the back of a jersey, many teams choose to retire (or honor) some numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status.

Many thoughts went through my head in each and every consideration. Feel free to agree or disagree- I want to know what you, the fans, consider worthy when evaluating a player, their career, and whether or not their number should be retired by a franchise. I am interested in seeing what you have to say, assuming you are actually a fan of the team and/or player that you argue for or against. Drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

For each team, I thought of former and current players that should have their numbers retired now or once they hang up the skates.

UnknownNashville Predators

Current Retired Numbers- None

Recommended Numbers to Retire

11 David Legwand

When Legwand retires he’ll likely be the first to have his number retired in franchise history for the Nashville Predators. It’s fitting that he was their first successfully developed player- and longtime face of the franchise- so it will truly be something special for all to enjoy (fans, front office, and former teammates alike).

6 Shea Weber

When Weber retires, Nashville will have lost one of their best defenseman ever. Other than that, he’s Shea Weber and he’s spent his entire career with Nashville, thus far (aside from that offer sheet he signed with Philadelphia, but was ultimately matched by the Predators). He’s a shoe in for his number to be raised to the rafters of the Bridgestone Arena.

35 Pekka Rinne

And so is Rinne. He’s one of maybe five or six elite goaltenders in the world. He’ll likely be a Predator for life (and so will his number when it’s enshrined above the ice).

Down the Frozen River Podcast #18- Goalies, Cross Checking, and Our Best Friend Torts

The Down the Frozen River crew covered a lot of topics the week after Thanksgiving in the United States. Hear what they have to say about the latest news and notes from around the NHL in this week’s #DTFRPodcast.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Montreal Canadiens

By: Nick Lanciani

I’m back with my continued exploration of what retired numbers around the league may look like in the future continues. While there’s only a finite set of numbers to utilize on the back of a jersey, many teams choose to retire (or honor) some numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status.

Many thoughts went through my head in each and every consideration. Feel free to agree or disagree- I want to know what you, the fans, consider worthy when evaluating a player, their career, and whether or not their number should be retired by a franchise. I am interested in seeing what you have to say, assuming you are actually a fan of the team and/or player that you argue for or against. Drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

For each team, I thought of former and current players that should have their numbers retired now or once they hang up the skates.

UnknownMontreal Canadiens

Current Retired Numbers- 1 Jacques Plante, 2 Doug Harvey, 3 Émile Bouchard, 4 Jean Beliveau, 5 Bernie Geoffrion/Guy Lapointe, 7 Howie Morenz, 9 Maurice Richard, 10 Guy Lafleur, 12 Yvan Cournoyer/Dickie Moore, 16 Henri Richard/Elmer Lach, 18 Serge Savard, 19 Larry Robinson, 23 Bob Gainey, 29 Ken Dryden, 33 Patrick Roy

Recommended Numbers to Retire

11 Saku Koivu

To have your number retired by the Montreal Canadiens is perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments in all of sports. Koivu was the definition of what it meant to be a Canadien in the 1990s and early 2000s, as well as the definition of courage in his battle with cancer. Saku Koivu was an exceptional player for Montreal and even Boston fans will agree with that statement. It was weird watching Koivu in a Ducks jersey, but it would be even weirder if the Canadiens don’t retire his jersey number.

Other Notes

Eventually, I’ll probably add Carey Price (number 31), Max Pacioretty (number 67) and P.K. Subban (number 76) to this list, but for the immediate future the Canadiens really should retire Koivu’s number and make Brendan Gallagher wear something else.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #17- Many Things

The Down the Frozen River crew covered a lot of topics the week before Thanksgiving in the United States. Hear what they have to say about the latest news and notes from around the NHL in this week’s #DTFRPodcast.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!

Colby’s Corner: Flyers’ Goaltender Issues

So I am going to continue with another rant about another Pennsylvania team. This time I’m going to talkPhiladelphia Flyers Logo about the Philadelphia Flyers and the issues they face in the crease. Since the 2012-13 season, the Flyers have had eight different goalies. These goalies are: Steve Mason, Ray Emery, Brian Boucher, Michael Leighton, Calvin Heeter, Rob Zepp, and Michal Neuvirth. All of these goalies have played at least one game since the 2012-13 season.

The team currently has two goalies on their roster, Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason. Steve Mason has a goals-against-average of 3.21 and a save percentage of .905 in 10 games started. Mason has a record of 3-5-3 with zero shutouts. Michal Neuvirth has a goals-against-average of 2.08 and a save percentage of .939 in 8 games started. Neuvirth also had two shutouts in his first two starts as a Flyer, with a total of three this season. Neuvirth’s record this season is 3-3-1, losing one of the decisions to Mason when he left the first period against the Bruins with an upper body injury.

Dave Hakstol is backing Steve Mason as the number one goalie even as his numbers continue to drop. On November 9th, Dave Hakstol said “Mase is our No.1” following a practice while Neuvirth was leading the league in shutouts. Since then, Jake Allen of the St. Louis Blues has tied Neuvirth for the league leader in shutouts. Many people believe there should be a goalie competition to see who is the better goalie, however Philly is standing behind their man Steve Mason.

My Opinion

Michal Neuvirth (Left) with Steve Mason (right) (USA Today Images)
Michal Neuvirth (Left) with Steve Mason (right) (USA Today Images)

Philly, oh Philly, always dealing with goalie issues. Philly hasn’t had a true number one goalie since the days of Roman Cechmanek, who last played for the team in 2002-03 season. Yes, they had Robert Esche who was number one for a few seasons, but then they had Antero Niittymaki show up and they split time too.

I appreciate what Dave Hakstol is trying to do with backing one goalie and trying to make a clear-cut, number one goalie, however, I think they are backing the wrong goalie in this case. Mason has struggled this year and isn’t an NHL number one goalie. The goal he let in against Tyler Ennis this season from behind the net was one of the worst goals I’ve seen a goalie give up this season, just behind Derek Stepan on Johnathan Bernier from center ice. Neuvirth is the better goalie right now and in general, and given a chance, I feel Neuvirth could win the number one goalie in Philly.

With Neuvirth’s time in Buffalo, I learned that he is a goalie who needs to be played consistently to get the best out of him. Neuvirth is a streaky goalie; when he is hot, he is a dominant goalie. This was evident this season when his first two starts were shutouts and wins for the Flyers. Obviously, when Neuvirth got hurt and was replaced by Mason, his hot streak stopped. Now he is struggling, only splitting games, and he hasn’t found his rhythm. Wednesday, November 18th, the Flyers announced that Neuvirth is day-to-day with another upper body injury. This complicates the Flyers’ situation even more and now we hope Neuvirth returns quickly to help his team.

Dave Hakstol needs to call it quits on Steve Mason and start backing the better goalie in Philly. The Flyers are hoping for the playoffs this season and in order to do this, they need a goalie to stand up and play like a number one, and the team/coach needs to back him up.

Colby’s Corner: Pittsburgh’s True Best

Connor Keith and I have had this discussion for a while, and it has been something I have had a strong opinion on.

Photo by Jeanine Leech/icon SMI
Photo by Jeanine Leech/icon SMI

Who’s better: Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin? I decided to share my opinion with our viewers and explain why.

So ever since the 2005 NHL Draft, it has been Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin as they both changed their organizations dramatically and became franchise players. They both lived up to these standards by winning awards and medals. However, there has always been the forgotten man that was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins 2nd overall in 2004 NHL Draft. This man was Evgeni Malkin.

Photo by REBECCA COOK / REUTERS
Photo by REBECCA COOK / REUTERS

Malkin was always in the shadow of Crosby, even as he lead their team to back-to-back Stanley Cup appearances. Crosby took most of the credit for this success, and yes, Crosby was a big part of the success in the 2009 Stanley Cup. Crosby may have scored some goals and was important during the playoffs that season, but Malkin still had more points with 36 during the season. Malkin even went on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. Yet, Malkin is still the second part of the dynamic duo know as Sid and Geno.

Over the past few years, while Crosby was hurt or struggling, it has been Malkin stepping up. This has happened again this year, as Crosby only has 2 goals and 5 assists through 14 games, whereas Malkin is leading the team with 4 goals and 7 assists for 11 points.

My Opinion  

Malkin is the better player and has been for a while now. A lot of people questioned Malkin last year and the money he was making (around $9 million per year). In my eyes, he deserves this much. Whenever the Penguins struggle offensively, it is usually him who steps up. When Crosby isn’t playing like himself, it is Malkin who steps up and fills that void. When Crosby was facing his concussion issues or other injuries, it was Malkin who stepped up.

Now, I am not saying that Crosby isn’t good. Obviously, his awards speak for themselves, but he isn’t the same player who entered the league, nor the same player who scored the Gold Medal-winning goal. Crosby used to make the players around him better. Well, what happened this year with Phil Kessel? That’s right, Crosby and Kessel couldn’t link up. And again, it’s Malkin who has to step up to take Kessel on his wing and get Kessel scoring again.

Yes, Malkin makes more than Crosby, but that’s by Crosby’s choice. Crosby wants everything to have his number on it, so he gets paid $8.7 million. Malkin has also won the award that Crosby hasn’t, which is the Calder Trophy in 2007. Malkin has been the player carrying this team this season, like he has done in the past few seasons. Malkin is more dynamic and still producing. He deserves to be considered the best forward in Pittsburgh this season and going forward, at least until Sid bounces back or proves otherwise.

November 9 – Day 34 – Out of Necessity, Vol. 3

Yesterday’s Game of the Day between the Dallas Stars and the Detroit Red Wings ended pretty close to how I think many expected it to, as the Stars won 4-1.

Dallas didn’t wait too long to get their first score on the board.  Assisted by First Star of the Game John Klingberg and Tyler Seguin, Patrick Sharp scored a power play goal only 7:22 into the game.  The eventual game winner was scored almost eight minutes later (7:57, to be precise) by Valeri Nichushkin (his first of the year) after being assisted by Third Star Jordie Benn and Jyrki Jokipakka.  With only 27 seconds remaining in the period, Detroit got back within a goal after Second Star Gustav Nyquist notched a power play tally, assisted by Niklas Kronwall and Mike Green.  The 2-1 score held well into the third period before things started falling apart in the Joe.

Only down a goal, Detroit pulled goaltender Petr Mrazek (Jimmy Howard started, but took a knee to the head at the 7:09 mark of the third), but Seguin, assisted by Sharp and Klingberg, made the Wings pay with an empty netter at the 18:52 mark.  Seventeen seconds later, Vernon Fiddler sent a puck over the glass, giving the Wings a power play, so they again pulled Mrazek to have a two-man advantage.  Yet once again, it was the Stars who scored, as Jamie Benn assisted Cody Eakin to a shorthanded empty netter, Dallas‘ fourth goal of the evening.

Kari Lehtonen improved his record to 6-1-0 after saving 21 of 22 (95.5%), while Howard’s record falls to 3-3-1 after saving 20 of 22 (90.9%).  Since the final two Stars goals were empty netters, Petr Mrazek technically shut Dallas out in his 11:06 played after saving both shots he faced, earning a no-decision.

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 19-9-5, favoring the home squad by 13 points over the roadies.

If you’ve been following along with us all season, you already know what’s coming based on the title of this post.  There’s a whopping… *insert_drumroll_here.mp3*… one game being played tonight!  *insert_cymbal_crash_and_cool_instrumental_vamp_here.mp3*  Yes, the entire attention of the NHL will be turned to The Pond tonight when the Anaheim Ducks host the Arizona Coyotes at 10 p.m. eastern.

Arizona_Coyotes.svgUnknown

 

 

 

This is Arizona‘s first appearance in the DtFR Game of the Day series, while Anaheim is making their third.  The last time they were featured, they fell in overtime in the United Center after playing all of regulation to a scoreless tie.

The 6-6-1 Arizona Coyotes enter tonight’s game in fourth place in the Pacific Division and 10th place in the Western Conference.  Their most recent game was a 4-1 thumping from the New York Rangers at Gila River Arena on Saturday.  So far this season, the Coyotes have been a better defensive team, but both ends of the ice are still sub-par in comparison to the rest of the league.

One of the few things Arizona has gotten right all season has been keeping opposing shots off Mike Smith.  Led by Zbynek Michalek’s  26 blocks, only 395 shots have required a save.  The defense may continue to be asked for more though, as Smith and his backup, Anders Lindback, have saved only 90.6% of those shots combined, allowing 38 goals so far this season.

That being said, the penalty kill has been fairly successful this season.  On 50 opposing attempts, only eight goals have been scored, giving them a 84% kill rate that exceeds the league average by a decent bit (2.81% as of Sunday morning).

On the other end, the offense has only put 371 shots on goal (led by Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s 45), of which only 35 have completed their journey in the back of the net.

A major shortcoming of the Coyotes‘ is their power play.  Although they’ve earned a considerable 53 attempts, they’ve only managed to score six times.  That power play rate of 11.32% is made even worse due to the fact that the Coyotes have allowed a whopping four shorthanded goals already this year.  The special teams need to be a point of focus should Arizona want to take advantage of a weak division.

The 5-7-2 Anaheim Ducks enter the game on a four-game win streak, last beating the San Jose Sharks 1-0 in The Tank on Saturday.  They currently sit at fifth in the Pacific Division and 11th in the Western Conference, and are beginning to resemble the Ducks we expected to see this season.

Defense, specifically goaltending, has been the name of the game in Anaheim, as they’ve only allowed 33 goals so far this season.  Even though Frederik Andersen and his backup, Anton Khudobin, have faced 442 shots combined, they’ve saved a strong 93% of those attempts.  Add that in with Kevin Bieksa’s 28 blocks, and you find a team that plays as sound a defense as possible.

Even on the penalty kill, the Ducks have found ways to keep the opposition off the board.  On 48 attempts, opponents have scored only four power play goals.  If you’re doing the math in your head, the number you’ve come to is not wrong: the Ducks are killing 91.67% of their penalties, a rate that exceeds the league average by over 10%.

The offense has had a tough time getting started this year, as they’ve only managed 393 shots so far (led by Jakob Silfverberg’s 32, even though he has yet to score).  They’ve scored on 5.3% of those attempts for a measly 22 goals, but half of those goals have come during their four-game win streak, which should probably make their division rivals a little worried.

A spot where Anaheim still needs to improve is the power play.  On 42 attempts, only five pucks have found the back of the net for a lowly 11.9% success rate.  Again, it seems like Anaheim has finally started getting their skates under them, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see these numbers begin to climb in the next few weeks.

Last season, the Ducks won the season series 3-0-2, but were only 1-0-1 at the Honda Center.

Some players to watch in this one include Anaheim‘s Andersen (.935 save percentage [seventh in the league] and 2.03 GAA [tenth in the league]) and Arizona‘s Martin Hanzal (12 assists [tied for fifth in the league]).

Based on the statistics, their current winning streak, and the fact that they’re playing at home, I expect the Anaheim Ducks to take care of business in this one and move into fourth place in the division.

November 8 – Day 33 – Big D heads to The D

In last night’s Game of the Day, the Montréal Canadiens extended their winning streak to six regular season games over the Boston Bruins by beating them 4-2.

The Bruins put up a good fight, as they twice owned a lead in this one.  Their first came at the 1:50 mark of the first period when Loui Eriksson, assisted by Patrice Bergeron and Ryan Spooner, scored a power play goal (yes, that early in the game.  I mean, we are talking about BostonMontréal).  Their one-goal lead held into the first intermission.

Just as quickly as Boston took the lead in the first, Montréal scored in the second to level the game at one-all.  It was another power play goal, this one scored by Tomas Plekanec, after being assisted by Brendan Gallagher and P.K. Subban, scored at the 1:09 mark.  The Bruins took offense to that, as Frank Vatrano (a kid who no doubt grew up wearing the Black and Gold) scored the first goal of his NHL career 7:42 later, assisted by Colin Miller and David Krejci.  Boston again took their one-goal lead into the intermission.

While the shots totals of the third period are close to even, all the scoring belonged to the Habs, who notched three tallies to seal the victory.  Assisted by Alex Galchenyuk and Devante Smith-Pelly, Lars Eller tied the game at two at the 8:58 mark.  The tie held until only 1:08 remained on the clock, when Galchenyuk and Andrei Markov assisted David Desharnais to the game-winning power play goal.  A lone insurance goal was scored 20 seconds later on an empty net by Max Pacioretty, assisted by Gallagher.

Backup turned short-term starter Mike Condon has yet to lose a game in regulation after seven appearances (6-0-1) and saved 29 of 31 (93.5%) tonight.  Jonas Gustavsson’s record falls to 3-1-0 after saving 29 of 32 (90.625%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 19-8-5, favoring the homers by 15 points over the roadies.

As is typical, especially at this point in the season, Sunday’s schedule is a much lighter load than Saturday’s.  The action gets started at 3 p.m. eastern when Dallas visits Detroit, followed a couple hours later when Vancouver visits New Jersey and Boston (TVAS) visits the New York Islanders.  The nightcap is an early one, featuring Edmonton at Chicago (NHL Network/SN) at 8 p.m. eastern.

Not only are none of today’s matchups between divisional rivals, only two are between teams both in the same conference (BruinsIslanders and OilersBlackhawks), and only the StarsWings matchup features teams currently qualifying for the playoffs.

The only one that really intrigues me is DallasDetroit, so I’m making the executive decision to watch that game.

CJhyiLmKUnknown-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dallas is making only their second appearance on the DtFR Game of the Day series – their first was a three-goal shutout of the Pittsburgh Penguins to open their season.  Detroit was just featured for their second time Friday when they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime, 2-1.

The 11-3-0 Dallas Stars currently lead both the Central Division and the Western Conference, and trail only the Montréal Canadiens for the lead in the entire NHL.  They are currently riding a two-game win streak, with their most recent being a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.  The Stars‘ stars (yeah, I just wrote that.  I think I need to apologize) have been on the offensive end of the ice, where they’ve scored a whopping 50 goals so far this season, led by Captain Jamie Benn’s 10 tallies.  The reason for his and his team’s scoring success?  They’re putting a bunch of pucks on net – 437, to be exact (led by Tyler Seguin’s 61), and scoring 11.4% of the time.

Thirteen of those goals have been on the power play, another spot where Dallas shines.  On 45 opportunities, they’ve scored 28.89% of the time.  Although that is a good number, they are going up against a strong penalty kill in the Detroit Red Wings, so this will be a good test of their special teams.

Not only does the Stars‘ defense pale in comparison to their offense, but it also trails the league average in a few categories.  First-year Alternate Captain Alex Goligoski may have 26 blocks to his credit, but 428 shots are still making it to Antti Niemi and co.  Combined, the two goaltenders have saved 91.1%.  The Stars have also not done a very good job of defending against the penalty.  On 41 opposing attempts, nine goals have found the back of the net (78.05% kill rate).  To their credit, the Stars do have two shorties to help defray that poor percentage, but a team cannot rely on shorthanded goals with any regularity.  Luckily, Detroit‘s power play is not extremely successful, so they should be able to keep a good handle on things.

Their opposition, the 7-5-1 Detroit Red Wings, currently sit in fourth place in the Atlantic Division and eighth place in the Eastern Conference.  They enter today’s game on a three-game win streak, with their most recent being the 2-1 overtime victory against the Leafs on Friday.

They’ve employed a defensive-mindset to get where they are this season, as they’ve allowed only 32 goals so far this season.  Especially strong has been the goaltending, as Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek have faced a total of 419 shots so far this season, and saved 93.1% of them.  As hinted at before, they’ve even been good on the penalty kill, only giving up eight goals on 48 attempts (83.33% kill rate) so far this year.

On the other hand, the offense has not done the defense any favors.  Just as the defense has only given up 32 goals, the offense has only scored 32 goals (led by Gustav Nyquist’s five).  Part of the problem has been that they aren’t putting many shots on goal.  330 shots (25.4 per game) simply does not cut it in this league, even if they are scoring on 9.7% of those attempts.  A point of emphasis for the Wings in practice should be on the power play, where they’ve scored eight goals on 45 attempts (17.78%).  Until this number and their shot rate improves, the Wings cannot be thought of as a serious threat for the Cup.

Last year, the Wings swept Dallas in both meetings by a combined score of 12-8.

Some players to watch in today’s game includes Dallas‘ Benn (10 goals [leads the league] and 20 points [second in the league]), John Klingberg (11 assists [tied for seventh in the league]) and Seguin (21 points [leads the league], 13 assists [tied for lead in the league] and eight goals [tied for fourth in the league]) & Detroit‘s Howard (2.01 GAA [tied for eighth in the league] and .934 save percentage [ninth in the league]), Dylan Larkin (+12 [leads the league]) and Henrik Zetterberg (11 assists [tied for seventh in the league]).

Although Detroit is slightly favored at -105, I expect Dallas to win this one because of Detroit‘s inability to put much pressure on goaltenders.

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