Feast or famine, NHL style.
That would be 15 games on Saturday – with all 30 teams in action for just the second time in league history – followed by a Sunday bereft of hockey. The only other time the NHL has seen all 30 teams in action was the opening day of the 2005-06 season; of course, there hadn't been NHL hockey for the previous 16 months, so the teams were well-rested.
Why no puck play on Sunday? Probably has something to do with Game 4 of the World Series.
The NFL decided not to go up against baseball's shining hour, either; there's no Sunday night football game this week. (There are, of course, the usual 137 Sunday afternoon football games, though; wonder if the NHL will ever corner the market on a day in the U.S., the way the NFL has on Sundays – and, for that matter, the way the NHL has on Saturday nights in Canada.)
Saturday's full slate was special, though, and the league sent out a press release highlighting anything and everything that might be of interest to ice aficionados.
Here's a sampling:
• The league was anticipating a total of 275,000 fans to attend the 15 games, about 18,300 per contest.
• Dan Boyle and the San Jose Sharks visited Boyle's old team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The two clubs hadn't played each other in nearly two years, since Oct. 29, 2006, the longest time between meetings among the league's 30 clubs.
• Calgary's Mike Keenan is in his 20th season as and NHL head coach, the most among the league's 30 bench bosses. Minnesota's Jacques Lemaire and Toronto's Ron Wilson are in their 15th year.
• If you don't like the call, you can't blames these guys: Referees Stephane Auger, Mike Leggo and Dan O'Halloran and linesmen Scott Driscoll, Tim Nowak, Lyle Seitz and Mark Shewchyk. Why not? Because of the NHL's 67 refs and linesmen, they're the only seven who didn't work on Saturday night.
• While NHL players likely opted for a healthy chicken-and-pasta choice for their pre-game meal, those 275,000 (and apparently very hungry) fans were expected to tuck into 37,000 hot dogs, 33,000 slices of pizza and 23,000 orders of nachos. And then they washed it down with 95,000 soft drinks. And finally, a wafer-thin mint.
Oct. 5, 2005: A Look Back
As mentioned, Oct. 5, 2005, the opening day of the 2005-06 (post-lockout) season, was the only other time that all 30 NHL teams were in action.
Here's what happened on that fateful day:
• We're stealing this one right off the NHL press release: "A total of 95 goals, an average of 6.3 per game, were scored in the 15 games. It marked a 30 percent increase over the average of 4.9 goals scored in the first 15 games of 2003-04."
• Like a debutante's ball, except with guys: Several blossoming stars made their NHL debuts that night, including Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, Washington's Alex Ovechkin, Calgary's Dion Phaneuf, Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Philadelphia's Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, Detroit's Johan Franzen, Buffalo's Thomas Vanek, Carolina's Cam Ward, New Jersey's Zach Parise and Chicago's Duncan Keith.
• Eleven of the 15 games were sell-outs, at least officially, and the total attendance was 275, 447 fans.
• Again, we're pretty much ripping this one right off the NHL press release, but it's interesting information:
Goals: 95 (6.3 per game)
Shots: 849 (56.6 per game)
Power Plays: 204 (13.6 per game)
Power-Play Goals: 27 (13.2 percent)
Face-Offs: 914 (60.9 per game)
Hits: 441 (29.4 per game)
Blocked Shots: 344 (22.9 per game)
Penalty Minutes: 511 (34.1 per game)
Sam McCaig is The Hockey News' senior copy editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend.
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