LCS Hockey: Born Again
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March 24, 2019
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ALFREDSSON AWOL AGAIN
In his first public comments since being fired as the head coach of the Ottawa Senators, John Paddock wasn't scared to admit he mishandled the Ray Emery situation. While Paddock accepted blame for not properly disciplining his alleged No. 1 netminder, it's merely another blow to Emery's already questionable character.

Emery was repeatedly late for practice, forcing the coach to send him home on at least two occasions. But Paddock regrets ever letting Emery practice without the right attitude, feeling the goalie's pitiful work ethic and dubious commitment eroded the team from within.

Where's Daniel Aflredsson during all this? That's why I always laugh when people say he's one of the best captains in hockey. He's a punk. He couldn't lead a cub scout troop. Can you imagine Emery pulling that stuff with Joe Sakic and Nicklas Lidstrom? How do you think poor practice habits would fly with Sidney Crosby or Jarome Iginla?

It's up to the captain to make sure everyone is pulling in the same direction. If someone is going his own way, it's up to the captain to drop the hammer. The speed of the leader determines the rate of the pack. But what would you expect from Alfredsson? He's a paper champion.

Your goaltender sets the tone at practice. If he's just going through the motions, it ruins everything. There's a real simple solution if the goalie isn't working hard. Put a few slap shots off his head. He'll get the message. I'm surprised Alfredsson didn't think of it. Maybe Paddock should have made Emery wear a Scott Niedermayer jersey.

But this is another prime example of why I hate the Senators. There's only three guys on that team I respect: Anton Volchenkov, Chris Phillips, and Christoph Schubert. And they've all dropped a notch for not having the sack to straighten out Emery.

The Sens start a four-game trip tonight through Anaheim, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. I'm so rooting for the implosion.

CAPTAIN GABORIK
The Minnesota Wild don't believe much in captains either. They like to rotate the C each month, spreading the leadership responsibilities. Well, for the first time in his career, Marian Gaborik will be serving as team captain. Hey, he can't do any worse than Alfredsson.

Gaborik, who leads the team in scoring with 34 goals and 66 points, will sport the C for the month of March. Jacques Lemaire was never shy about ripping Gabby for his defensive shortcomings, so naming him captain is a huge step in the 26-year-old's career. It's also further proof of Gaborik's continuing maturity.

And Gaborik certainly responded to the challenge. In his first game as a captain, he led the Wild to a 2-1 OT win over the Royalty, scoring the tying goal in the second and setting up the Martin Skoula winner in overtime.


RESPECT THE CODE
By now, I'm sure everyone's seen the Jack Johnson hit on Ryan Smyth. If you haven't, check out the YouTube video below. It was a clean hit. Smyth just got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. And if his helmet didn't come off, he may not have been hurt at all.

Even though Smyth had to be taken off on a stretcher, he was up walking around shortly afterwards and isn't experiencing any concussion symptoms. The problem is he may have separated his shoulder. The Avs won't know for sure until further testing is done.

The incident served as a perfect example of proper hockey code. Sure, the hit on Smyth wasn't dirty, but it doesn't matter. If someone injures a player on your team, clean or not, that person has to pay a price. Ian Laperriere knows the code. And he isn't scared to enforce it.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s clean or not clean, it’s a big hit on one of our big players and he got injured and someone had to do something,” Laperriere said. “I felt like it had to be me.”

Now that's a hockey player! Laperriere is the man. And give Johnson credit. He didn't rabbit.

“He came up to me and said, ‘Do you want to get it over with?”’ Johnson said. “I said, ‘Sure.”’

Good for Johnson. He gets it. That's what hockey's all about. But Johnson never had to defend himself, because captain Rob Blake stepped in and grabbed Laperriere before any punches could be thrown.

“Unfortunately, Ryan got hurt on the play, and nobody wants to see that,” said Blake. “Jack is a young guy and I think we need to let the situation go.”

Again, absolute perfection. Unlike Alfredsson, Blake is a true captain. He looks out for his teammates. He wasn't going to let someone pound on one of his youngsters. Laperriere didn't like it, but he respected it.

“The kid knew exactly where I was coming from,” Laperriere said. “He wanted to fight, and Blake came right in there. I have so much respect for Blake. I knew he wasn’t going to punch me.”

The whole thing was beautiful right down the line. Everyone gets an orange whip. Orange whip? Orange whip? Three orange whips.

But lost in all the Smyth shenanigans was the injury to Marek Svatos. The Slovak sniper, who leads the Avs with 26 goals, was chasing down a loose puck along the boards when Jon Klemm gave him a quick shot in the back. Svatos went crashing into the wall, suffering what looks to be a serious knee injury. No penalty was called on the play.

Stuff like this drives me insane. All the NHL does is bitch and complain about how dangerous it is to hit people from behind, yet when it happens, the league never punishes anyone. Klemm's shove was in no way malicious, but it was also completely unnecessary. When a guy is skating directly into the boards, there's no reason to hit him in the back. It's the exact definition of, well, "hitting from behind."

And it happens constantly. At least once a game, you'll see someone get run from behind into the boards. It's ridiculous. But the league refuses to do anything about it. I'm sure the next tragedy is only days away. Then again, I reckon that's the only time the NHL ever gets on SportsCenter, so maybe it's all part of Gary Bettman's master plan.



FLOWER POWER
Marc-Andre Fleury made a triumphant return to the Pittsburgh nets yesterday, stopping 31 shots in a 3-2 shootout win over the visiting Atlanta Thrashers. It was Fleury's first start since December 6, and he looked a little rusty. Both goals were questionable. Hell, the first one was downright brutal, with Jim Slater putting a shot inside the far post from a terrible angle along the left wing boards. I guess Slater wasn't fooled by the illusion of Fleury's white pads.

Yeah, that's right, he wore the white pads. Just dreadful. But for the third period, I placed a piece of yellow saran wrap over the TV screen. Not only did it give Fleury yellow pads again, it also made everyone seem like they had jaundice, so that made me feel a little better about my own drinking problem.

The Penguins will now head south for a three-game road trip to face the Bolts, Cats, and Caps. When the Birds take the ice in Tampa Tuesday, expect to see Ty Conklin back in net. Michel Therrien loves sitting Fleury on the bench. I wouldn't be surprised to see Andy Chiodo get another start before Fleury.

Sidney Crosby and Marian Hossa will be on the trip. That Washington game will be on NBC next Sunday, so don't be surprised if they return in time to face Alexander Ovechkin and crew. After all, you want to have all your stars in the lineup for the entire nation to ignore.


SPIDER SENSE IS TINGLING
The Flyers bombed Henrik Lundqvist for three goals on eight shots Sunday. Stephen Valiquette came in from the bullpen and got the 5-4 shootout win, stopping 17 of 18 through overtime before going 2-for-2 in the shootout, stoning Kimmo Timonen with a nifty left pad save and getting help from the post to stop Jeff Carter.

Valiquette was strong in net, staying square to the shooter and allowing his massive frame to do most of the work. But it's always great when he gets in a game and shows off the ol' Spider-Man mask.

Last year's version featured a crawling Spidey on the forehead, while this season's model is more impressionistic, going with just the large Spider-Man eyes.

On last week's radio show, Spider-Man ranked third on my list of top comic book super heroes. Jerry had him ranked No.1. And in honor of Jerry's love for all things Spider-Man, we even have a Spider-Man logo running on LCS once a minute. Keep an eye out for it.


Courtesy DaveArt.com


TEXAS TEA
Speaking of shootout wins, no one's been better than the Edmonton Oilers. The Bubbling Crude scored three goals in less than two minutes of the third period last night to erase a 2-0 deficit against the Columbus Blue Jackets, eventually prevailing 4-3 in the shootout.

Nothing new there. The Oil have an NHL record 14 shootout victories this season, going 14-3 in the circus sideshow. Atlanta is second in the league with a mark of 8-6.

Edmonton has been involved in 39 shootouts since the talent show was introduced, one more than New Jersey for the most in the league. The win over the Blue Jackets also raised their lifetime mark to 24-15, breaking the second-place tie with El Diablo (23-15). Dallas still holds the best all-time record at 26-7.

Mathieu Garon has been the big reason for the success this season. He's a perfect 10-0 in shootouts, stopping an incredible 30 of 32 chances for a .938 save percentage. To put that number in perspective, teammate Dwayne Roloson ranks second with a .800 save percentage. Jose Theodore is third at .792.

During games, Garon has a .916 save percentage. So see, that explains Edmonton's defense. They're just trying to give up as many scoring chances as possible to make Garon feel like he's in a shootout.

Ales Hemsky wristed a shot over Pascal Leclaire's glove to give him an NHL-best six shootout goals on the season. Hemsky has converted six of 15 chances (40%). Nikolai Zherdev, Shawn Horcoff, and Patrick Kane are the top percentage shooters, each converting five of seven chances ( 71.4%).


SAVING GRACE
It's not often I get to talk about the Florida Panthers, so it's worth mentioning Craig Anderson stopped 53 shots yesterday to blank the Islanders 1-0 on Long Island. The Isles fired a franchise record 29 shots at Anderson in the second period alone. Somewhere, Ron Tugnutt was smiling.

Ironically enough, New York's futility was the backdrop for the franchise honoring the 17 players involved in winning the team's four Stanley Cups during the early 1980s. After a lovely on-ice ceremony, the 17 former Isles hung around to beat the current team, 5-0.

Antero Niittymaki still holds the season mark for most saves and shots faced in a single game, stopping 54 of 56 in a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs on January 5.


FORUMS
You may not have noticed, but we've got a Forum section now. I've never been a big fan of the message boards, but Zippy swears they're big with the kids, so we're gonna give it a whirl. Feel free to post comments and "interact" with all your favorite LCS personalities. I'm sure we'll do more Forum related stuff in the future. Or maybe we won't. Who can tell? But enjoy them while they last. Just click the little typing chimp logo at the bottom of the page to leave a comment.


LUCA CAPUTI
When the Pittsburgh Penguins drafted Luca Caputi in the fourth round last summer, no one could have expected the left winger would be tearing up the OHL this season. Caputi has been doing damage with his stick and his fists, piling up 48 goals, 104 points, and 94 penalty minutes in 62 games for the Niagra IceDogs. He's third in league scoring, currently sitting one point ahead of 17-year-old wunderkind John Tavares.

Esposito who?

The 19-year-old Caputi stands 6'3" and has the skills and demeanor of an NHL power forward, not to mention the best name in show business. Luca Caputi. It's like a song... of destruction! Fear Caputi!

For those unfamiliar with Caputi, here's a video clip of a recent interview he did following an IceDogs game. It's funny stuff. And I definitely get a Kevin Stevens vibe from this kid.







LCS Hockey: Born Again
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