Monday, October 27, 2008

Saturday October 25 - 15 Games!

Every single NHL team was playing on Saturday in a rare night for hockey. The 96 goals scored among the teams was the most since January 23, 1993 when 12 games accounted for 103 goals. With every team in play the atmosphere was high for FI contributions and they did not disappoint. FIs made impacts in 9 games. Let us take a look at those accomplishments:

New Atlanta defenseman Mathieu Schneider scored his first goal and had his first multi-point effort since joining the squad during the preseason. Schneids knocked home a powerplay goal and added a powerplay assist but all was for nought as the Boston Bruins slipped by the visiting Thrashers 5-4. Schneider now has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) on 8 games with Atlanta but has since his offensive contributions tempered by his -8 rating. That could be the kind of season Schneider is looking at: 40 points, -30something but we can hope not.

A game after being scratched for his inconsistent effort Toronto winger Jason Blake was back on the boxscore. Blake had a powerplay assist on the opening tally as the Maple Leafs outlasted the Ottawa Senators for a 3-2 victory. Blakey now has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) on 7 games and is among team leaders in shots on goal (29) and +/- rating (+1). One could imagine the healthy scratch was a warning and is not going to become a common occurrence for the high-priced Blake.

In only his 2nd game back after his 5 game suspension for assaulting a referee (argued down from 10) Columbus center Michael Peca made an impact offensively. Peca assisted on the lone Blue Jackets' goal as they fell to the host Minnesota Wild 2-1. Having playing in only 3 games so far this season, Peca has 1 helper this year. He has, however, also amassed an impressive 24 penalty minutes.

Also making his first notching his first point of the season was Los Angeles center Derek Armstrong. Army assisted on the too-little-too-late goal as the Kings fell to the host Nashville Predators 5-4 as LA does its tour of the Midwest. With the helper Armstrong snapped a 7 game point-less streak dating back to last season. More shocking than Armstrong not having recorded a point until game 7 of the season is that he has only taken 4 shots in that time.

In his first game back after being sidelined for almost 2 weeks with a leg injury Washington forward Viktor Kozlov started contributing again. Kozlov assisted on the Capitals' 5th goal as they survived a last minute comeback by the host Dallas Stars to pull off a 6-5 OT win. Kozzer has 2 assists on 4 games this season but has yet to net a goal despite having thrown 6 shots on goal.

D-man Aaron Johnson is turning out to be a nice offseason pick up by the Chicago Blackhawks. Johnson dropped in the 'Hawks 2nd goal as they were edged by the visiting Detroit Red Wings 6-5 in SO. Johnson has had goals in back-to-back games and now has 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) on 6 games this season. He is currently tied with marquee d-man Brian Campbell for the team's goal scoring lead among blueliners and is only one assist behind him for blueline scoring. This was the first time Johnson has ever had goals in consecutive games, a major accomplishment considering he has never had more than 3 tallies on a season before. Also getting involved was teammate Brent Sopel who assisted on the team's 4th goal. Sopel has 1 assist on 7 games this season snapping a 6 game point-less drought to start the year and an aggregate 8 game drought dating back to last season.

Ryan Smyth was the hero of the night in Colorado netting the winning goal in the 5th round of the SO as the Avalanche slipped by the visiting Buffalo Sabres for a 2-1 win. With the game in his hands, Smyth knocked home the winning goal. He also stirred up a little controversy after supposedly knocking the knob of Sabres' goaltender Ryan Miller's stick knocking him off balance when the Avs scored their lone goal of regulation with less than 7 minutes to play in regulation. Smyth received the secondary assist on that goal. Smyth has had an impressive start to the season with 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists) on 8 games. He has notched all 7 of those points in the last 6 games despite not having scored a point in the prior tilt. On nights that Smyth has recorded at least one point the Avalanche have a 4-1 record and a are a total of 25-5 including last season!

Calgary winger Todd Bertuzzi woke up from a 2 game slumber to net his team-leading 6th goal (tied with Jarome Iginla) as the Flames steamrolled past the host Phoenix Coyotes 4-1. Bert opened the scoring only 3:25 in to regulation with a powerplay goal, his 4th of the season. He now he has 6 goals on 8 games to start the season. Bert is scoring at a 30% rate having compiled 20 shots. He does, however, have a -5 rating. It took Bertuzzi until game 26 of last season to record his 6th goal.

It was a matchup made for FIW as the Vancouver Canucks hosted the Edmonton Oilers. There was a combined 7 FIs (4 Vancouver, 3 Edmonton) between the two teams. Four of those players made impacts. Canucks' goaltender Roberto Luongo stopped 25 of 28 shots for his fourth win of the season as Vancouver knocked off the Oil 6-3. Luongo stopped a 2 game losing streak and now has a 4-3-0 record with a 3.29 goals against average and an .889 save percentage. If it were not for the fact that the Canucks' offense has been much more potent than expected, Luongo would not even be able to boast of a winning record considering his recent poor play. In only his 2nd game since being called up from the Manitoba Moose, center Jason Krog knocked in a powerplay goal to cap the scoring. Krog has 1 goal on 2 games this season and the tally was his first in the NHL since February 3, 2006 while with the New York Rangers. Take it a step further and the extra man goal was Krog's first since before the lockout on November 21, 2004. At that time Krog was still playing with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. As well, Saturday's powerplay goal came in Krog's 200th career NHL game. Lighting things up for Edmonton was winger Robert Nilsson who torched Luongo for a goal and an assist. Snapping a 3 game point-less run, Nilsson now has 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) on 7 games this season. The multi-point effort was Nilsson's first since March 28. And finally, surprising everyone is Denis Grebeshkov who is 1 point off the team leader and is currently tied for the lead in scoring among Oil defenseman with Sheldon Souray. Greb helped himself again netting his first goal of the year. He now has 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) on 7 games. Grebeshkov as well snapped a 3 game drought. The goal came on only his 2nd shot of the season.

While things will not be this busy again this season, please check in soon for more updates and highlights at FIW.

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