Here is an ice-time comparison for a few Tampa Bay forwards as of the end of the second period.
Martin St. Louis: 13:00
Vinny Prospal: 12:48
Jussi Jokinen: 11:58
Vincent Lecavalier: 11:32
Mark Recchi: 11:06
Steven Stamkos: 8:31
Try to guess which of these forwards, at this point, had two picturesque goals in the hockey game.
Hint: It was Lecavalier.
How does this happen? How is it that Vincent Lecavalier is keeping the bench warm for ANYONE on the team? The answer, obviously, is Barry Melrose.
It’s insane, too, because they spent a lot of the early coverage of the game on TSN talking about how Lecavalier was unhappy that he hadn’t played more than 20 minutes in his previous two games. Even with Lecavalier’s point that he deserves to be on the ice for as much of the game as he feels like playing in being made emphatically, he still ended with just 17:49, third among Lightning forwards.
I know Melrose is scouting, scouting, always scouting, but maybe he should have taken a peek at this game and seen that big No. 4 was DOMINANTING the Maple Leafs. He had a gorgeous breakaway dangler on his backhand to put the Bolts up 2-1, then extended the lead on a power play early in the second with another pretty backhander off a draw. Somehow, this did not warrant his getting more ice time than Prospal.
Meanwhile, Stamkos ended with just 12:58 of ice time despite picking up his first career point (an assist on Lecavalier’s second goal).
But Melrose and his boys, who didn’t play especially well but benefited from three separate puck-over-the-glass D.O.G. penalties by Toronto (Lecavalier’s power play goal came five seconds into one of these), will take the two points mainly because of the incredible play of Mike Smith, who made 37 saves, with a number of those being just jaw-dropping. Smith pulled several that got past him back from the line. Toronto may have had two power play goals, but both were on second chances, and with the first goal, you can make a credible argument that the play should have been whistled dead.
Not that the Leafs played badly or anything. They were thoroughly mediocre on everything but the aforementioned power play. When up a man, they put 10 shots on net in six opportunities and had it not been for the play of Smith, could have probably had four or five. It was very impressive despite the so-so results. The same can’t be said for the rest of the Leafs’ night, which was so-so with less than impressive results. But you expect that going in, right?
So it turns out that incompetent coaching doesn’t always cost your team. You just need your Top-Five-In-The-League superstar player to score twice despite a relative paucity of ice time and have your goalie make almost 40 saves.
That Barry Melrose. What a genius.
Washington 4, Nashville 3 (SO)
The Ovechkinless Caps got goals from Viktor Kozlov, David Steckel (shorthanded!?) and Alex Semin while JP Dumont set up all three Preds goals, including Jason Arnott’s inside of seven minutes to go. Washington actually outshot the Preds 19-4 in the first period but somehow only emerged with a 2-1 lead, which they have to find completely unacceptable.
Philadelphia 7, Atlanta 0
Atlanta might be the most useless team in the NHL. How do you give up a touchdown with the extra point AND get shut out by this Philly team? Joffrey Lupul, Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne had two goals apiece for the Bullies, and when you’re letting Glen Metropolit walk around everyone for the seventh goal of the game, it’s time to clear the bench, head to the locker room and have a good cry. Kari Lehtonen continued to look like a massive bust in giving up seven goals on 31 shots. Anterro Niitymaki picked up the 24-save shutout.
Montreal 3, Carolina 2 (SO)
The reason the Habs are going to do so well this year is because they can keep playing mediocre games and win. They did it again tonight, not doing anything especially well but still beating a not-bad Carolina team. I’d implore you to go watch the shootout, because it was quite good as shootouts go, but you can’t. The game wasn’t broadcast in English and the NHL (as of 12:48 a.m. on Wednesday) has deemed RDS’ quebecois coverage to be unsuitable for internetty consumption. You’ll have to take my word for it, I guess.
Calgary 3, Colorado 0
If the Bruins game from last night (and indeed tonight) is an argument for how exciting the Old NHL can be, this game is a reason why the Old NHL should be put on a deep space satellite and blown up with the force of 125,000 atomic bombs somewhere around the Pleiades. Despite the fantastic result, this game was a snoozefest of 2001 New Jerseyan proportions. Calgary got goals from three odd sources — Curtis Glencross, Rene Bourque and Mike Cammalleri — all late in the third, while Miikka Kiprusoff made 22 saves to win his 150th game with Calgary. This, by the way, is the first time Calgary has won without a goal from Jarome Iginla, but their fourth straight win. It was also the first time Colorado had lost in five games after starting the year 0-3.
Boston 1, Vancouver 0
Actual quote from a TSN announcer during this game: “I can’t tell if he’s the worst good goaltender out there or the best bad goaltender out there.” Thomas has stopped every shot he’s faced in the first two games of this western Canadian road trip, making 31 saves opposite Roberto Luongo, who made 29. Thomas regularly put himself out of position, as is typical of Tim Thomas’ approach to goaltending, and then made one ridiculous, diving save after another. Michael Ryder, meanwhile, finally stopped being bitten by poisonous cobras (what else can the term “snakebit” mean?) and scored his second of the year and first since opening night. Your No. 3 star, by the way, was Milan Lucic, who recorded no points, but played a game to which Pierre Maguire will certainly be pleasuring himself later tonight.
San Jose 2, Pittsburgh 1
If only the Penguins could quadruple shift Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. They might be able to cobble some offense together. But they can’t, so the Pens put only 11 shots on net (three in the first, five in the second, three in the third) and took another one on the chin thanks to a shortie from Joe Pavelski and a late goal from Mike Grier. Rusty Fedotenko popped in the Pens’ lone goal too late for it to matter. San Jose looked alright, but this game was completely pathetic just because of how bad the Penguins were.