The second star: Leaf fans
Marquee free agent David Clarkson finally scored his first goal of the season, and Leaf fans are handling the event with their typical brand of quiet restraint.
The first star: Corey Perry and Alexander Semin
Do me a favor and let me know how many times you can watch this GIF before it stops being funny. I’ve had it running for three straight days and I’m not there yet.
A look at three of the biggest stories from the NHL weekend and how they’ll play into the coming days.
Struggling Sabres Refuse to Stand Pat
All season long, the hockey world has been expecting the Sabres to clean house and start looking toward the future. It turns out we were half-right — Buffalo made changes Thursday, but with an eye fixed firmly on the past.
The Sabres' decision to part ways with longtime GM Darcy Regier was shocking only in the sense that they chose not to do it during the offseason. Firing coach Ron Rolston was a mild surprise since he’d only been on the job for 51 games dating back to last season, though he’d also managed to win just 19 of those.
But their replacements raised eyebrows, as the Sabres brought back former star Pat LaFontaine as president of hockey ops (he’ll eventually hire a new GM), and former coach of the year Ted Nolan as interim coach. While both men are undoubtedly popular in Buffalo, LaFontaine has no front office experience and Nolan hasn’t coached in the NHL since 2008.
Can it work? The obvious answer is that it can’t get much worse. LaFontaine might be inexperienced, but he’s well-respected for his hockey smarts and did a good job articulating a long-term vision during the introductory press conference.
Nolan, meanwhile, is one of the league’s great mysteries — the Sabres parted ways with him immediately after his Jack Adams season, and it took him 10 years to get another NHL job (he lasted two seasons with the Islanders before being fired in 2008). He’s an intense guy and will no doubt bring his style of ever-so-subtle player motivation to the Buffalo locker room.
The Sabres split a pair of weekend games with the Maple Leafs, winning 3-1 at home Friday before dropping the rematch 4-2 in Toronto. The Sabres had already beaten the Sharks and Kings this month and actually climbed out of last place overall with Friday’s win, before dropping back down after the Oilers earned two points the next day.
At the very least, the team finally seems headed in the right direction unless you think the right direction involves the first overall pick in the 2014 draft, in which case you may look back on this move as coming a few months early.
Welcome to a weekly grab bag of thoughts and observations from the past few days and/or decades of NHL hockey.
The Three Stars of Comedy
Recognizing the three NHL personalities from around the league who produced the most comedic fodder for fans.
The third star: Ben Scrivens and Alec Martinez bicker passive-aggressively on Twitter
Kings backup goalie Ben Scrivens is one of the league’s more underrated Twitter follows. He’s an Ivy Leaguer, Jeopardy! fan, and Ted Talk aficionado. He’s also apparently one of those guys on an airplane, as teammate Alec Martinez was kind enough to point out.
The second star: Brandon Bollig is trying his best
Patrick Kane impressed everyone with his stickhandling skills in this recent ad. Teammate Brandon Bollig figured he’d give it a try too. I like his version better.
The first star: Patrick Roy is who we thought he was
OK, who had “Game 1” in the “When will Patrick Roy go berserk and start destroying things” pool? [Checks list.] Everyone. Everyone had “Game 1." Congratulations, we are all winners.
No, really, we’re all winners. The Patrick Roy era is going to be amazing.
When you look around the NHL, you find several teams with unquestioned no. 1 goaltenders. Barring injury, players such as Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, and Pekka Rinne will be starting every big game for their teams all year long, with an occasional break when the schedule serves up an also-ran.
But not every team’s situation is quite so settled. In some cases, the starter’s hold on the job is shaky. In others, two guys are splitting time equally.
Let’s take a look at some of the teams where the title of no. 1 goalie is still up for grabs.
There's nothing else in sports quite like the goalie mask, a literal blank slate upon which a goalie — often regarded as the quirkiest guy on his team — gets to broadcast his id to the world. The result, over the years, has been a crazy and compelling collection of cryptic symbols, animal imagery, shout-outs to grandmas and/or sports heroes, terrifying cartoons, and lots and lots of airbrushing. This year, of course, is no exception. Here, we take a look at some of this season's best goalie helmets. (As always, feel free to render your own judgments in the comments!)
Best Literary Reference
"This may be one of the most scary mask[s] I've ever created," uber-popular mask designer David Gunnarsson wrote on his website, describing Dallas goalie Richard Bachman's new look. "We wanted the mask to have the same uncomfortable feeling you have when you just wake up after a nightmare." The helmet features images from The Shining — the famous twins, Jack Nicholson's terrifying eyes — in honor of Stephen King, who once used the nom de plume "Richard Bachman." ("There was a novel by Richard Stark on my desk so I used the name Richard and that's kind of funny because Richard Stark is in itself a pen name for Donald Westlake," King explains on his website, "and what was playing on the record player was "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" by Bachman Turner Overdrive, so I put the two of them together.") It's really too bad we don't have a helmet depicting scenes from King/Bachman's best work, The Long Walk, but I suppose psychological terror is kinda tricky to airbrush.