Well, I'm not going to make this long. But out West there also is a huge match-up similar to Sabres-Devils (or Slugs-Satans if you want to go that route). It will be the other slug the Nashville Predators hosting the Anaheim Ducks in a big Western Conference showdown. With the most points in the league, the Central-leading Preds (36-14-3, 75 points) enter three points better than Pacific leader Anaheim (32-12-8, 72 points). They also put the NHL's best home record (18-3-3) on the line against a depleted Ducks team which might still be without Dynamic Blueline Duo Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. It's worth noting that the Red Wings trail the Preds by three points for the division while the Sharks, already 4-2 winners over Chicago have closed to within three of Anaheim. So whoever wins can maintain a nice margin in their division.
Just a couple of notes:
I want to correct something I posted the other day about the Flyers losing 14 straight at home. NHL Siberia hasn't sunk to that Titanic level yet. The 6-5 OT defeat to the Devils was their franchise worst 12th consecutive loss. They still have some work to do or maybe that's not the right description.
I also said during our NY Hockey Report show this past Wednesday that Toronto trailed the Rangers by two points. They were in fact tied and with the win passed them in the standings.
Also want to correct myself as Ron did on that show that last Saturday the Devils were at Florida when they fell 4-2, drawing a miniscule rating of 0.1 as mentioned during our show. They played Tampa the night before with Brodeur posting his league-best ninth shutout and career No.89. It still is alarming that New York's lacrosse team the Titans could outdraw both the Devils and Islanders on a Saturday. And don't forget the Isles had that great third period comeback win over the Sabres. Yikes.
I also noticed that the league set an attendance record for January. Whoopty do. The question is how many were real diehards? The league is pushing towards a different audience. They can slice it anyway they want. But if you really like the direction they're headed, then you must love the fact the NHL was extended through 2011 on a network hardly anyone can find in Versus. I liked them better as Outdoor Life Network. At least it made sense. What else do they show aside from Survivor repeats, Ultimate Barbecue competitions, etc? They do have tennis. But I'm not sure how many events they're covering.
As also pointed out on our show by yours truly, the Australian Open women's final which was a rout by Serena Williams over "It Girl" Maria Sharapova drew a 1.6 rating on ESPN2. It was the highest rated tennis match they had since Serena won the same Grand Slam two years prior over Lindsay Davenport. What do you think the NHL would give for that kind of rating on any given night? Just wondering.
I was on the new yahoo site which I think stinks (not everything new is always better). But I did happen to come across an interesting article. As you might know, the Pens and Habs played the other night in an exciting affair which wound up 5-4 Penguins in the shootout at the outdated Mellon Arena. Apparently, there was a cheapshot from Pens' forward Colby Armstrong which Montreal coach Guy Garbonneau wasn't too pleased with:
It's interesting to note that in the same game which the Montreal coach was upset with a call that one of his players committed a similar cheapshot which wasn't even penalized:
On the opening face-off, Montreal centre Maxim Lapierre looked to have butt-ended Sidney Crosby in the stomach. Crosby got him back moments' later by tripping Lapierre on a face-off. Neither infraction was called.
Interesting indeed. Even TSN's Pierre McGuire was at a loss. I saw it and according to The Hockey Professor between the glass, the two had a history that dated back a few years to when they competed in juniors. For those wondering, the rematch is set for tomorrow on Super Bowl Sunday when Montreal hosts the Pens in what now amounts to a game which separates the clubs by two points. It should be interesting.
Kudos to Steve for his Sabres-Devils preview. Nice job putting up those links from the clubs' recent victories!