After a lockout that lead to the cancellation of 510 total regular season games, the National Hockey League triumphantly returned just more than a week ago with a flurry of games. The lockout has led to a condensed 48-game season that has already proven to be a toll on some teams. Some of the players may be playing their way into shape, but were in mid-season form with our weekly bests. With the rapid pace of the season in mind, lets not wait any longer and get right into the goods.
Team of the Week: San Jose Sharks
Despite a valiant effort by the Chicago Blackhawks – who started the season off with a big fly in the punch bowl victory at Los Angeles the day the Stanley Cup banner was raised – the Sharks get the nod for their impressive margin of victory. While the Hawks are out to a noteworthy 6-0 start, four of those wins were only by a goal including two overtime victories. The Sharks on the other hand, who have been led by the unparalleled start of my possible cousin Patrick Marleau (pronounced the exact same way, I’m just saying), have been crushing their opponents. Other than their 5-3 victory over Phoenix where they needed a Marleau goal in the last two minutes to take the lead, they’ve won every game by at least three goals. If there is any bad news for the Sharks it’s that Marleau appears to be cooling off as after scoring two goals in his first four games he was only able to manufacture a meager single goal in their last game.
Player of the Week: Patrick Marleau (Marlow)
As detailed in the previous paragraph Marleau’s start has been one for the record books and he’s the clear player of the week. He tied a record by starting the year with four consecutive multi-goal games matching the feat set by the second most famous Cy, Cy Denneny, way back 1917-1918 season. Pretty straight forward decision there so I might as well use this extra space to propose a possible theory as to how Patrick and I could very well be actually related. The hypothetical story goes like this: we are indeed related and distant relatives, however when my family came to America at Ellis Island they changed the spelling of my surname to the -low ending seen on the byline of this article. Meanwhile, Patrick’s side of the family immigrated to Canada and kept the –eau spelling. Is there anything to prove this theory? Have I taken to the time to go to ancestry.com and check if it’s possible? Based on where my family came from is that Ellis Island story even remotely possible? The answer to those questions may all be no but worth a shot. It’d be cool to be related to a record-tying hockey player so I’m keeping my fingers crossed and maybe I’ll get some free shark tickets one day.
Goalie of the Week: Craig Anderson
I didn’t expect to have many weeks where I’d be writing about Craig Anderson, but there’s no denying he is deserving of the tremendous honor that is Evan G. Marlow Goalie of the Week for his start this season. Anderson put up a stifling 0.73 goals against average. He added a 31-save shutout to three impressive one goal against efforts to help lead the Sens to a hot start. For good measure he helped me handily win my fantasy hockey match-up so in that regard I hope to be writing about Anderson in this section again soon.
Goal of the Week: Damien Brunner
Shootouts don’t actually count as goals in the stat sheet but there should be an addendum to the rule book for goals as pretty as Brunner’s. In the fourth round of a shootout against the Blue Jackets with a chance to win the game, the Swiss rookie took a page out of his new line mate Pavel Datsyuk’s playbook as he faked out the goalie and pulled the puck back to stuff it in. Brunner’s been a stud in the Swiss league and when you combine the skill shown on that shootout goal with a healthy dose of playing time with Zetterberg and Datsyuk, we should be hearing a lot more from Brunner this year.
Save of the Week: Henrik Lundqvist
I’d be shocked if the reach back glove grab that robbed the Bruin’s David Krejci on opening night doesn’t end up being the save of the whole year let alone this week. Krejci had such a wide open net that as a ranger fan I was already disappointed and in my head had conceded the goal. I wasn’t the only one fooled as the TD Bank Garden started to put the spotlight on Krejci to celebrate before quickly realizing that Lundqvist had just made the possible save of the year.
Pass of the Week: Pavel Datsyuk
Fellow wing Damien Brunner won the goal of the week for his Datsyuk impression, but there is much more to Pavel’s game then his silky smooth shootout moves. Last Friday night against the Wild, Datsyuk got the puck in the neutral zone went down the right side did about a quarter turn and rifled a backhand laser through the Minnesota defense right on the stick of a streaking Henrik Zetterberg who made a nice fake to score. While the finish was pretty it was the pass that was most beautiful part of the play. (It can be seen at around 7:05 of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gYnGz9ZURs)
Celly of the Week: Nail Yakupov
Another clear winner that will be extremely hard to take the crown from in the year end awards. After tying the game with 4.7 seconds left by batting a rebound out of the air for his first ever goal, the 19-year old Yakupov went straight bonkers doing his best Theo Fleury impression. While some grumpy people like Don Cherry complained that he went too far, I for one loved the pure energy and enthusiasm. It would have been nice if he eventually got up off the ice to celebrate with his teammates a little but the energy and incredible slide make it a celly to remember.
Strombone has never officially stated that he is Roberto Luongo, but he answers to it and it has been reported by multiple reliable sources in the hockey media that the man behind the mask that is the twitter account @Strombone1 is indeed Bobby Lou. The feed is fantastic especially because of Luongo’s great self-deprecating humor as shown by this tweet prior to the season opener that was the clear winner for tweet of the week.
That’s all for now folks. Until next time enjoy the puck.