In the current NHL schedule the Northeast and the Pacific are not slated to play against each other this year. With three of the top six teams in the NHL in the Pacific and the Northeast boasting five teams 500 or above, the question begging to be answered is, what is the best division in hockey?
Well, Lambeau Field in Green Bay will not host an NFL playoff game this season so they instead have set up The Frozen Tundra as the neutral site for what is so eloquently called “The Northeast vs the Pacific Shootout”.
There will be 25 games in total as each team will play one game against the five teams in the other division.
Each week I will go cover 5 games until we determine the top division in hockey. Here is a recap week 1.
Game 1: ANA 9 – BUF 8
In a wild shootout Teemu Selanne scores 3 goals (his 4th and 5th of the game) in a span of 2:14 early in the third to give Anaheim a 9 – 4 lead. Buffalo almost completes the most improbable comeback of all-time, scoring four times in the last eight minutes, but falls short in what is instantly considered a “Classic Game”.
Game 2: SJ 4 – MTL 1
San Jose used its smothering five-man attack to limit Montreal to only 15 shots in a 4-1 victory. The territorial edge was so dominant that the only goal Evgeni Nabokov let in was a 180-foot shot by Montreal’s Sheldon Souray, who was icing the puck. The goal occurred late in the 2nd period and at the time was only the second shot on net in the period and sixth of the game. Nabby was caught off-guard by the shot because he was waving to some family members who flew over from Russia to watch the games at The Frozen Tundra.
Game 3: TOR 4 – DAL 2
The legion of Leafs fans are the difference as they cheer on their beloved Leafs in a lackluster game that only had 6 total hits. Mats Sundin was the best player on the ice before leaving early in the 3rd period with a foggy visor. He came back with a new visor on his helmet and assisted on the empty net goal that gave him his 3rd assist and first star honors for the game.
Game 4: OTT 10 – LA 2
LA was the only team who did not practice on the outdoor rink before playing their first game. Sean Avery didn’t think it would affect his team when he was quoted “we can play on any surface, even the moon, it doesn’t matter if we have practiced there before”. While the Sens players wore toques (hats) under their helmets, LA did not and after 2 periods 8 players were being treated for frostbite on the ears. Ottawa scored 6 unanswered goals in the 3rd period in the first route of the Shootout.
Game 5: PHX 4 – BOS 3 (Shootout)
Curtis Joseph, saying he felt like he was 11 years old again made 36 saves and didn’t allow a goal in 6 shootout attempts in the first upset of the weekend. Dave Lewis, coach of the Boston Bruins, said he thought his team was not mentally focused because all the media coverage for the tournament was positive, something his players were not accustomed to.
At the end of the 1st week of the Northeast-Pacific Shootout the results are:
Northeast…….2-2-1 5 pts
Pacific………..3-2-0 6 pts
In my next “In The Crease” find out who comes out on top in these intriguing games:
Buffalo vs San Jose
– rematch after SJ beat BUF last year in Joe Thornton
’s first game as a Shark.
Montreal vs Dallas – Guy Carbonneau, head coach of the Canadians, faces off against his old team.
Toronto vs LA – Leaf fans will never forget the Leafs Western Conference Finals loss to the Kings that ended a chance for a Montreal-Toronto Stanley Cup Final.
Ottawa vs Phoenix – Can Phoenix be the surprise team of the shootout?
Boston vs Anaheim – Now that some negative press surrounds the Bruins, they should be in more of a comfort zone heading into a tough game against the relentless Ducks.
For Seagate Technology’s “In the Crease,” I’m Jamie Baker.