Friday, March 16, 2007

Thursday March 15

Sadly, when everyone's frantic about their brackets during March Madness the real race is overshadowed: the end-of-the-season battle for playoff position in the NHL. With the regular season grinding down to its last few weeks it seems every game counts for something. Last night 10 games were played with every one of them deeply affecting the playoff aspirations or conniving spoiler hopes of the teams involved. Former Islanders were making big plays and accounted for 3 goals and 5 assists (8 points) while FI goalies were 1-1. Here is the breakdown:
  • Boston walked away with a 4-3 SO at home against a reeling Washington team on Thursday. The impressive come from behind win, following a 3-0 deficit, was capped off by Patrice Bergeron's tying goal on which FI star Zdeno Chara received his 30th assist of the season. With 10 goals and the aforementioned assists Chara now has 40 points for his third straight season.
  • Roman Hamrlik is a force unto himself. He assisted on Calgary's opening goal Thursday night for his 11th point in as many games. Calgary dropped the game 4-2 in Dallas but not for any lack of effort on the part of Hamrlik. It was his 30th assist of the year and 35th point. More impressively he has 5 points in just his last 3 games. Also, goaltender Jamie McLennan made a rare start for Calgary stopping 23 of 26 shots. He took the loss, though, and dropped to 3-4-1 on the year with a respectably .904 save percentage and a moderate 3.30 goals against average. The start was his first since February 26.
  • On one hand, Edmonton might wish they could take back the Ryan Smyth trade. As much as he has seemed to struggle with the Islanders, the Oilers are even worse going winless without him. Thursday night was no exception. Minnesota took away a close 2-1 road win in Edmonton. FI Mark Parrish opened the scoring 11:28 into the first period for his 17th goal of the year. The tally ended a 12 game goalless drought. On the other hand, they might not, as newest FI Robert Nilsson scored his first goal of the season in his first game with his new team. Nilsson, received with Ryan O'Marra and a 1st round pick, wasted no time scoring for the Oilers. The goal was the 7th of Nilsson young career in only 54 games.
  • I've said it before and I'll say it again: Vancouver is an FI mecca. On Thursday three Former Islanders made their way into the box score in the Canucks' 3-2 OT home win over St. Louis. Brent Sopel received an assist on the opening goal of the game, his 22nd of the season. Since joining Vancouver at the trade deadline Sopel has 4 points in 9 games. Trevor Linden scored his 10th of the season and the Canucks' second of the game. It was the 16th time on his career that Linden has had a double-digit goal-scoring season. Even more impressively it was the 850th point of Linden's career in 1312 games. Roberto Luongo keeps pushing that single season win number higher and higher recording his 40th win in only his 65th start. He is second only behind Martin Brodeur in wins this year and has a 40-20-5 record.
  • Adrian Aucoin assisted on Chicago's second goal of the night in the Blackhawks' 4-3 SO win over Los Angeles at the Staples Center. It was oft-injured Aucoin's 15th point in 50 games this year. Defenseman Jamie Heward notched his 3rd point in 8 games since joining the Kings. He received the secondary assist on Los Angeles' third goal of the night.

The action is intense and six more high profile games will be fought on Friday night. Keep posted for all the exciting action here at FIW.

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