Injuries to stars make for painful month; an Oiler revived; more
This is sick.
Well, actually this isn't about sickness as much as it is about injuries.
In the first month of the NHL season, EMS has replaced GAA in the official league statistics. The red light has been atop the ambulance as often as behind the goal. While there doesn't seem anything alarming about the sheer quantity of the injuries -- hockey is a game of hurt as much as a game of oops -- the quality of the injured players has been staggering. Marquee guys have been dropping like, if you'll pardon the baseball analogy,
The latest to go down was Atlanta captain
The breakout star of the first month has been the NHL's favorite piñata, Edmonton's
"I'm a lot happier," he told
Penner, who had a toxic relationship with former Oilers coach
This is Quinn's gift as a coach. With the odd exception, his players like him. Obviously this isn't a prerequisite for success -- entering this year, Quinn had coached a record 1,318 regular-season games without winning the Stanley Cup -- but it has helped him extricate talent in players who had done little more than scratch the surface. As uncomfortable as he can make the referees, linesmen and the NHL hockey operations department -- no one is quite as tough on them -- he is a player's coach, generally rolling four lines and letting the players win and lose the game. As Columbus Blue Jackets coach
The by-product of the comfortable work environment on Quinn's teams is goals. Although not blessed with an abundance of natural scorers beyond
Clearly the Oilers, a team whose patrimony is based on turning the red light on, needed a scoring upgrade. (No one had more than 23 goals last season, including
"He's been around the game 40-plus years, he's played it and nothing can rattle him," Penner said of Quinn. "He makes you feel comfortable. You're re not looking over your shoulder every time you make a mistake. He really understands the mental part of the game -- how to coach it. Everyone respects him, and everyone listens. For some players, less is more."
In a league where more might be enough -- Toronto has four coaches behind the bench, the most men you'll see in suits outside of a Chase Bank board meeting -- there might be a benefit in -- how to put this -- a little under-coaching.
You don't have to read between the lines in Montreal, just the pipes. For the fourth straight game (and victory) on Monday, a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Islanders,
Taking his non-demotion demotion in stride, Price, the No. 1 since GM
If there is a problem with Montreal's goaltending, it is not so much the ability of the two puck-stoppers but the dynamic. While all the "1 and 1A" stuff sounds swell, teams generally prefer defined roles -- a clear-cut top guy and a reliable backup who can fill in competently or at times spectacularly as
But Halak is 24 and Price is 22, hardly the age in which either would care to play