Welcome to the Second Edition of the Hockey Education Committee Mailbag! If you did not read the First Edition, here it is:
Now, onto this weeks edition, which will have a few more questions than before (thanks to the multitude of support and questions that I received from my readers). If your question did not appear in this Mailbag, do not despair. Your question will appear within the next few weeks.
Before I delve into this week's questions, I have one question that was posed to me which I do not truly know the answer to.
Has anyone ever taken their skate off and tried to stab somebody during a hockey game?
-Hoops Stud, Jacksonville, Alabama
I have not ever heard of a case of this happening. However, if anybody has seen something like this happen at any level of hockey, please do mention it.
The Captain is demanding more air time, and he's got a series of questions for me to answer. I will pick my three favourite ones to answer right now.
Who has the most shut-outs in one season? Which NHL coach has won the most games of all-time? Who has the most saves in one game?
-The Captain, Saint Leo
The answer to the first question is a man very few have heard of, George Hainsworth. He set the record in the 1928-1929 season, when he was playing with the Montreal Canadiens. His astounding 22 shutouts are only scratching the surface, though. What's even more incredible is that he recorded them in only 44 games, and accumulated an absurd 0.98 Goals Against Average.
The winningest NHL coach of all time is Scotty Bowman. He earned his 1,244 career victories coaching the St. Louis Blues (1967-1971), Montreal Canadiens (1971-1979), Buffalo Sabres (1979-1987), Pittsburgh Penguins (1991-1993), and Detroit Red Wings (1993-2002). Some other accolades he has to his name are the most Stanley Cup victories by a coach (9) and, interestingly, most career losses.
As for the most saves in one game, that honour goes to another unknown: Sam LoPresti. On March 4, 1941, the Chicago Blackhawks 'tender faced 83 shots from the Boston Bruins, saving 80 of them in a record that still stands. Interestingly enough, he made all his saves in regulation time, as Boston won 3-2.
Speaking of Blackhawks...
G'day, mate! Do you think Chicago and Pittsburgh are as good as the "experts" say they are?
-An Aussie Hockey Fan, Warragul, Victoria
These are two totally different questions. Pittsburgh, in my mind, is unquestionably worth the hype. They are playing as well as they did last year, despite losing Marian Hossa and suffering from injuries. When they get Sergei Gonchar back from his hurt shoulder, they should be downright scary and may even take down Boston for the East crown.
For Chicago, it's not as clear-cut. They have an extremely young team with no track record, along with a burgeoning goalie controversy and no skilled veterans. At first glance, they seem to also be a one-trick pony, with Patrick Kane 9 points ahead of the rest of the team in terms of scoring.
However, one must take a closer look at the team. The 'Hawks are extremely balanced, with seven players already with 20 points or more in only 29 games. They have one of the best defensive corps in the NHL, with puck-moving superstar Brian Campbell, reliable defender Duncan Keith, physical Brent Seabrook, and upcoming Cam Barker. But, most importantly, this team is improving with every game. They are playing with confidence, which is why they are deservedly attracting buzz.
Well, somebody asked the question that I was seemingly begging for last week...
Why don't you think San Jose will end up with the Stanley Cup if you think they are the best team in the NHL right now?
-Curious, Germantown, WI
I'm so glad you asked that question. I have three reasons for you:
1) Lack of playoff success in recent memory
2) Inexperienced coach
3) Detroit Red Wings
The first one may be mainly conjecture. However, several key members of the San Jose Sharks have been known to wilt under pressure in the playoff; in particular, Joe Thornton. Big Joe is the cog that the entire club revolves around; he is their best player, their leader, and the linchpin of their scoring line. He scores notably less points when in the playoffs (last year, he only had 2 goals in 13 games, and in 2007 he had only 1 in 11), and, more importantly, loses his physical edge (he only had two penalty minutes in 13 games last year). Plus, these Sharks just failed their most recent test under the spotlight, falling 6-0 to the Detroit Red Wings.
The second one is more significant. Todd McLellan may have been a part of last year's Stanley Cup-winning team, but his duties as an assistant coach pale in comparison to what he will have to do this year. Bottom line, this is his first time being the head coach of an NHL team, and the playoffs are a whole different animal. Very few rookie head coaches have success in their first playoff run.
Plus, they have a towering obstacle standing in their way. The Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup this year, and despite being in second, have a more talented team than they did last year thanks to the addition of Marian Hossa. They play their system perfectly, and more importantly have eons more recent playoff experience than the Sharks. They can put out any of their four lines and expect a goal from them, a luxury that is extremely rare in the NHL. They also have the best coach in the NHL, Mike Babcock. They can clearly perform better than the Sharks in a pressurized situation.
Now, we move onto a new feature of this blog:
THE HOCKEY GLOSSARY!
Inspired by YODA, who was inspired by Southern Discomfort's hat trick question in last year's mailbag, this is here to offer a brief explanation for a few hockey terms.
Freezing the puck: when a goaltender covers up the puck and holds onto it, resulting in a whistle and a face-off.
Shut-out: when a goaltender does not allow a single goal in a game
Forechecking: when a player attacks the defenseman in order to gain possession of the puck in the offensive zone
Point man: another name for a defenseman, or someone playing that position on a power play
Finally, we have a question that could be read while listening to the blues...
Why do so many fans in other cities like to bash the Maple Leafs when they haven't won a Stanley Cup in 40 years?
-Black and Blue Fan
I think one of the main reasons that fans enjoy bashing the Leafs is because they haven't won a Stanley Cup for so many years. However, the Blackhawks haven't won a Cup since 1961, which is longer. The reason the Leafs get so much more flak is because of the fundamental differences between them and the rest of the NHL.
You can blame Harold Ballard for planting those seeds in the minds of the rest of the league. Ballard took over the executive vice-president position for the Leafs in 1961, and quickly proved to be an arrogant jerk. Some of his stunts included threatening to cut a cable carrying CBC's broadcast of a Leafs game if they didn't pay for his upgrades, removing a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II from Maple Leaf Gardens to add extra seating and saying "What the hell position can a Queen play?", and turning up the heat in the Gardens and breaking the water fountains during a concert so that fans would buy triple-priced soft drinks from the concession stands. Then he was charged with tax evasion, came back after serving his sentence, drove Leafs captain Dave Keon away from the team and blocked him from signing with any other team, and forced star Darryl Sittler to demand a trade.
Ballard may have been dead for 18 years, but fans of other teams have been subconsciously applying traits of his tyranny to other Leafs through history. Tie Domi. Darcy Tucker. Pat Quinn. During the Ballard years, fans instantly began to despise the Maple Leafs and everything they stood for, and old hate never dissipates. Plus, most Canadians outside of Toronto hate the whole city, because of their residents' superiority complex.
Thank you for reading this blog. If you have any questions you want to submit, please FanMail them to me!