Monday, November 3, 2008

Saturday November 1

With October of the 2008-09 NHL season already a memory the league kicked November off in high gear. There were 12, count em, 12 games on Saturday around these 2 great nations. Former Islanders heard my battle call and have start turning their play up, again. FIs made contributions in 8 of these games. Here is a look at the action from November 1:

Oft-injured Buffalo center Tim Connolly is back, at least for now. Connolly made his first appearance of the season after hip surgery for spurs had him sidelined since March of last season. The great thing about TimCo is he instantly makes a difference. Connolly had a powerplay assist on the team's first insurance goal as the Sabres spanked and blanked the visiting Washington Capitals 5-0. The point was Connolly's first since February 29 and snapped a 4 game point-less drought dating back to late last season. The helper was his first since February 27. But despite Connolly's appearance questions linger: Is he fully healthy? Can he make it the rest of the season? Even when things looked up last season TimCo managed to play in only 48 competitons and has not played in more than 63 since the 2002-03 campaign. Only time will tell but we look forward to seeing his name on the boxscore more and more.

Michael Peca had a shorthanded helper on Columbus' 2nd goal as the Blue Jackets fell to the visiting Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in SO. Peca has 3 assists on 6 games this season and has managed all 3 points in the 4 games since he returned from a 5 game suspension. The shortie assist was the 24th of Peca's career and his first since October 31, 2007 - 1 year and a day apart. An odd accomplishment, Peca has at least 1 shorthanded assist in each of his last 12 seasons - a feat were not sure is matched by any other player currently in the NHL.

Just when it looked like we might never see Kevin Weekes in a game for New Jersey tragedy may have struck the Devils' ranks. Weekes came in for the last 33 minutes of the Devils 6-1 home victory over the Atlanta Thrashers after start Martin Brodeur seemed to suffer an injury to his left elbow. A workhouse, Brodeur has only missed 7 games due to injury over his 15 year career. FI Ryan Smyth can manage that number in 2 weeks! But let us digress. Weekes is now the interim starter for the Devils until the extent of the injury is known. Weekes stopped 14 of 15 shots faced but received no decision. Weekes is 0-0-0 on the season with a .933 save percentage and a 1.80 goals against average. The last time Weekes made a regular season appearance was April 4 of last season and his last start was January 5. Only time will tell how his opportunity plays out.

Toronto winger Jason Blake scored the temporary tying goal and added an insurance assist for a 2 point effort as the Maple Leafs scored 5 3rd period goals for a 5-2 victory over the visiting New York Rangers. Blake snapped a 2 game point-less run and now has 2 goals and 4 assists for 6 points on 10 games this season. Blake was playing in the 600th game of his career - one that has brought him from Los Angeles to Long Island and finally Toronto. Getting the start and the loss for the Blueshirts was backup goalie Stephen Valiquette. The start was one of the worst of his career as he surrendered 5 goals on 35 shots. The loss was the first of the season for Valiquette who fell to 2-1-0 on the year. His save percentage dropped to .905 and his goals against average swelled to 2.60. The last time Valiquette lost a game in regulation was on January 3. In between the losses Valiquette went 5-0-2 with 6 seasons starts and 7 appearances.

Montreal d-man Roman Hamrlik received an assist on the opening goal as the Canadiens overcame a 4-1 deficit after 2 periods to outlast the host Islanders for a 5-4 win. The Habs scored 4 3rd period goals on Former Canadien (FC?) goalie Yann Danis - the Isles' 3rd stringer. Hamrlik snapped a 3 game point-less run and now has 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points on 10 games this year. Hamrlik is second on the Canadiens' defensive scoring well behind team leading scorer Andrei Markov.

Pittsburgh winger Miroslav Satan had a big night netting a goal and adding 2 assists as the Penguins downed the host St. Louis Blues 6-3. Satan has 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) over his last 2 games and has 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists) on 12 games this season. The 3 point effort was Satan's first since February 1, 2007 while still with the Isles - a span of 126 games (including 5 playoff tilts) without such an occurrence. Satan is only a matter of points away from recording the 700th of his career.

Phoenix center Olli Jokinen scored a pair of special teams goals to pace the Coyotes' offense as they fell to the visiting Minnesota Wild 3-2. Jokinen opened the scoring with a powerplay goal and later temporarily tied things up with a shorthanded tally. Jokinen leads the Coyotes' offense with 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) on 9 games. He even has 3 goals over the last 2 games after going 6 games without a netter. The shortie was O-Jok's first in a couple of seasons and 12th of his career with his last one coming on October 11, 2006 while still with the Florida Panthers - a span of 168 games without a shortie. Jokinen received first star of the game honor for his effort. Assisting on the Minnesota game winner was d-man Marc-Andre Bergeron. MAB has 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) on 10 games this season and 2 points in the last 3 games.

Calgary d-man Adrian Aucoin scored his team's 2nd goal, a powerplay tally, as the Flames edged the host Los Angeles Kings for a 3-2 victory. Aucoin has 3 points (2 points, 1 assist) on 11 games. The tally was the 100th of Aucoin's career and his 53rd powerplay goal. Getting an assist on that goal and adding one of the game winner was winger Todd Bertuzzi. The helpers were the first of the season for Bert as he now has 6 goals and 2 assists for 8 points on 11 games. Bertuzzi snapped a 13 game assist-less drought dating back to April 5, game 3 of the Anaheim Ducks opening round playoff series against the Dallas Stars. Six of his points (5 goals, 1 assist) have come with the man advantage.

Check back soon for more highlights, recaps and updates at FIW.

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