Week In Review after games played on Saturday, October 21, 1989
A busy week of games that was punctuated by a legend passing another legend. Let’s look at the week’s action.
On Monday, October 16th, Floyd Smith of the Maple Leafs and Lou Lamoriello of the Devils pulled off a trade. The Devils sent power play specialist defenseman Tom Kurvers to Toronto for a 1st round pick in 1991. The Devils are hopeful for the Leafs to have a poor finish in 1991 as it is the draft featuring highly touted Eric Lindros. Also near the top of the draft is Scott Niedermayer. The former Canadien and Sabre Kurvers had played one game so far this season for New Jersey.
More skeptical Leafs fans were calling into talk radio shows, already labelling this as the “worst trade in Maple Leaf history”
To add insult to injury, Kurvers initially refused to report to Toronto
After a few missed games, cooler heads would prevail. Kurvers made his debut Saturday night the 21st in Toronto against the Capitals (which is later featured as the game of the week). He registered an assist and nearly had a goal.
On Saturday night, the 21st, Wayne Gretzky surpassed Gordie Howe for the all-time NHL scoring record at the age of 28.
Tuesday night, the Kings hosted the Bruins, with Gretzky 4 points away. He could not reach the milestone in front of the home crowd, but scored a goal and 2 assists to put himself at 1,849 points, just one away from the all-time NHL record. The Kings won the contest 7-5, improving their quick-start to 6-1-0. The Los Angeles Forum crowd remained in the arena, but not in their seats, treating Gretzky to a rousing ovation as he was named the game’s first star. It was most likely the record would fall away from Southern California as the Kings were looking at the next 2 games on the road and 8 of 9 total.
Saturday night brought the Kings to a large crowd at St. Louis Arena to face the Blues. 14:18 in the first period, Gretzky took the puck away from Peter Zezel, passed it over to Bernie Nicholls, who fed Gretzky at the top of the circle where Gretzky’s shot beat Greg Millen low on the far side for point number 1,850. The crowd gave Gretzky a long ovation right away and the game was delayed for a few minutes while the goal was announced and The Great One gave a curtain call.
The Kings dominated the game between the Smythe and Norris Division leaders. It was beginning to look like the Gretzky show would move onto Chicago for a chance to pass Mr. Hockey, but with 11:06 remaining in the third, with a 4-1 lead, Luc Robitaille took a pass from Gretzky and slid the puck past Millen to break the record.
Despite the lopsided score in favor of the visiting team, nobody had left the game, and the league stopped the game for a ceremony at center ice. Gordie Howe made a speech, and there were gifts: a 1.851-carat diamond bracelet (with diamonds spelling out “1,851” across its face) from his old teammates, a crystal hologram engraved with his picture from the Kings and a carved silver tea tray from the league. Then Gretzky himself took the microphone. He thanked the Edmonton and Los Angeles fans, his parents and his wife, and he added: “Gordie is still the greatest, in my mind, and the greatest in everyone’s mind.”
Howe, who was 61, returned the younger player’s affection. “If it was, pardon the expression, some clown” who’d broken his record, he said, “it would have bothered me. But not Wayne.”
Almost as a side note, the Kings won again, their 4th win in a row, improving their record to the NHL-best 7-1-0.
This week in hockey saw some teams make a move, and some stumble. The Hartford Whalers are currently riding a 4-0-2 unbeaten streak behind some great goaltending by Mike Liut. The Sabres are also hot, going 3-0-1 in the last 4 thanks to Darren Puppa’s mastery in net. The two Adams Division foes met Wednesday night in Hartford and neither Puppa or Liut blinked, skating to a 0-0 duel. Liut was tested more in regulation, but Puppa faced a 7-shot barrage in overtime, needing to stop two goalie rating draws and also a Hartford powerplay, where Pat Verbeek had a high percentage shot (45%) but was stopped with only 40 seconds remaining. Both Puppa and Liut would follow up with shutouts later in the week. Puppa had a shutout streak ended at 130:57 early against the Penguins Saturday night, but that was the only goal he allowed in a 3-1 Buffalo victory.
Mike Liut, after resting for Peter Sidorkiewicz one game, came back to shut out NHL League Leading scorer Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings, extending his shutout streak to 140:33 and counting.
The Flames and North Stars have also been among the NHL’s better teams lately, both winning 4 of their last 5 games, rising in their respective divisions. Calgary completed a very successful Eastern road trip, skating to a 4-1-1 record. The Wales Conference favorite Boston Bruins finished a grueling Western road trip that saw them go from Montreal to Edmonton to Vancouver, south to Los Angeles, to Edmonton for a second time and Calgary. With a few injuries and fatigue, they saw mixed results, bringing home a 2-4-0 record. Cam Neely has tied the league lead for goals with 9, but had to sit out the road trip finale victory vs Calgary.
The Detroit Red Wings are digging a deep early hole, losing 5 consecutive games and 7 of their last 8 after an improbable comeback opening night win at Calgary. Quebec and Montreal are stumbling in the Adams Division, each losing 4 straight. Quebec is at a staggering shot deficit of an average of 9 per game. Ron Tugnutt’s play in between the pipes has kept the team afloat so far.
The New York Rangers continue to be the most disappointing team out of the gate, putting up a 2-5-1 record, -8 points from their actual record. They have been suffering from very poor goaltending from Vanbiesbrouck and Friese, posting a league-low .862 save percentage and 4.46 Goals Against Average. The Rangers have started to turn it around by winning 2 of their last 3. On Tuesday, hosting the Blackhawks, Wayne Van Dorp took 7 minutes in penalties, all powerplay time for New York. The Rangers scored 4 times on the major penalty and once on the minor to up their first period lead to 6-1. They ended up 6 for 5 on the powerplay. After dropping a tough contest against the red hot Whalers, the Rangers travelled to The Spectrum in Philadelphia, where John Vanbiesbrouck put the team on his back, winning the game 1-0 to vault the Rangers from 6th place to 4th place.
The previously mentioned Red Wings are -5 from their actual record. Like the Rangers, the Red Wings are seeing poor goaltending from Alain Chevrier and Tim Cheveldae and also they are getting outshot an average of 7 shots per game. Steve Yzerman is stuck at 18 points, being shut out two games in a row. He has been struggling with linemate Gerard Gallant on the shelf.
The most surprising teams so far are the 5-2-0 Blues (+4), the 7-1-0 Kings (+4), and the 4-3-2 Hartford Whalers (+3). The Blues have not been propelled by the feared Hull and Oates line… their 4th line of Lowry and Zezel has been scorching as of late before facing the Kings Saturday night. The Islanders, Maple Leafs, and Jets also sit at +3 over their actual record.
Now on to the NHL’s league leaders through the third week of action.
Steve Yzerman still holds onto the points lead, but has been kept off the scoreboard in the last 2 games at the hands of Peter Zezel and the Blues, followed by Mike Liut and the Whalers, as Detroit sinks to a 2-7-0 record and last place in the Norris Division. Bernie Nicholls now sits in second place with an identical 2 points per game, thanks to being on the potent Kings’ 1st line and a league-leading 13 assists in the bag. Craig Janney also has 16 points with one more game played, thanks to a 5 goal week by Cam Neely… and a hat trick from Bob Sweeney filling in for Neely on the top line Saturday night at Calgary, a 6-2 Bruin victory that saw Janney get 2 goals and 2 assists for the second star.
There is a crowd at the top of the goal scoring race, as a number of players are on pace to put up some amazing season totals. Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman seem to have stagnated at 9 goals, while Cam Neely caught up scoring his 9th for the 3-way tie. Mark Messier of the Oilers is one behind with 8 goals
Cam Neely had 5 goals and 2 assists this week
The Los Angeles Kings remain dominant at the front of the +/- leaders. The Kings have scored a league-high 30 even strength goals, and have the league-best +13 goal differential. The defensive pairing of Steve Duchesne and Larry Robinson are at +16, while teammates Luc Robitaille and Bernie Nicholls are at +11. Wayne Gretzky is a +10, and Bob Kudelski completes the Kings’ domination of the top 6 at +7. The next group of players, 9 tied at +6.
Los Angeles Kings Dominate +/- Leaderboard
PENALTY MINUTES LEADERS
Wayne Van Dorp lead the league in Penalty Minutes
FACEOFF PERCENTAGE LEADERS
POWERPLAY GOALS LEADERS
Steve Weeks and Mike Fitzpatrick continue to find themselves close to the top of most goaltending categories due to playing backup roles. Mike Liut has been earning more action for the Whalers, vaulting up the list with a .949 save percentage, 1.44 GAA, and 2 shutouts. Ron Tugnutt and Patrick Roy are also stalking the leaders, representing what looks to be a stingy Adams Division. Goaltending as a whole has been much stronger in the Prince of Wales Conference.
Steve Weeks in his 3 games, and 2 games started leads the NHL in 3 of the major categories with a .962 save percentage, 1.22 goals against average, and 81.82% Goalie Rating Save Percentage. It remains to be seen if Canuck Head Coach Bob McCammon decides to play Weeks more in front of current starter Kirk McLean.
SAVE PERCENTAGE LEADERS
GOALS AGAINST AVERAGE LEADERS
GOALIE RATING PERCENTAGE LEADERS
Game of the Week: on Saturday, October 21st, the Toronto Maple Leafs hosted the Washington Capitals on Hockey Night in Canada. The contest was between two teams from different conferences, but the game would get very heated. The game saw Olaf Kolzig get his second career start vs. Mark LaForest in his first start for the Maple Leafs. LaForest was traded from Philadelphia for draft picks in September.
Fittingly, in the first 3 minutes of the game, there were 4 penalties given. At the 2:24 mark, Scott Stevens would get into the first of quite a few altercations, this time with newly acquired Tom Kurvers playing in his first game with the Leafs after being traded from the Devils, and briefly refusing to report to Toronto. John Kordic and Nick Kypreos also got into an altercation 7 minutes into the opening frame and they were each given double-minors.
The Capitals jumped out to a 3-0 lead in quick-strike fashion as Geoff Courtnall and Dino Ciccarelli (2) combined for 3 goals in only 3:01. More rough play followed as Rob Ramage and Scott Stevens fought, followed by an Alan May roughing penalty 31 seconds later.
The second period did not have any scoring as Kolzig and LaForest stood strong. Cooler heads seemed to prevail as well after Kypreos and Kordic scuffled and were both sent to the box with matching double minors at the 7:49 mark.
This set the stage for a wild 3rd period in Maple Leaf Gardens. In the first 2 minutes, Rob Ramage scored on a slapshot from the top of the circle for his 3rd of the season to put the Leafs on the board. Scott Stevens took exception and challenged Ramage to a fight on the next play. Both players got some good punches in to the delight of the fans.
The Leafs seemed to have extra jump from the Ramage goal and fight. After a minute of pressure in front of Kolzig, Ed Olczyk pushed the rebound past the goaltender, into the net for his 6th, with newly acquired Tom Kurvers picking up the assist to bring the Leafs within 1, 3-2, still with over 15 minutes to play.
Toronto defenseman Brad Marsh took a bad penalty, putting the Capitals on the powerplay with a chance to extend their lead. Almost a minute into the powerplay, there was a scramble in front of LaForest and a pile up. The pile dissipated, to reveal the goaltender had squared off with Washington center Dale Hunter and the two traded punches. Hunter got the mask off LaForest and the two began to grapple and went down to the ice, where LaForest’s teammates piled in to make sure their goaltender didn’t suffer any harm. LaForest was given a 5 minute major for fighting and a 2-minute roughing penalty. Hunter only received the fighting major, giving the Capitals a 2-man advantage. The Leafs were able to successfully kill off the penalties.
As the minor to LaForest expired, an unlikely goal scorer, defenseman Luke Richardson picked up a loose puck in the slot, which was deflected by Lou Franceschetti, and beat Kolzig short-side to tie the game at 3, igniting an already raucous crowd.
The Leafs would complete the comeback later in the period. With 6:13 remaining, Center Tom Fergus one-timed a pass from Vincent Damphousse into the back of the net to put the Leafs in front for the first time, and for good 4-3. LaForest and the Maple Leafs were able to hold on through the end to claim the victory. At the end of the game there was a disagreement, focused around a frustrated Kevin Hatcher, but not much came of it other than a 2 minute roughing minor. The game had 3 fights, 5 altercations and 70 total PIMs. Most importantly, Toronto claimed the comeback victory. Mark LaForest, despite allowing 3 goals was named the game’s first star, thanks to some big saves to keep the Leafs in the game as well as his 3rd period fight.
The two teams face each other again in the Capital Centre on November 3rd.
Fight of the week: In a Patrick Division clash between the Islanders and Capitals, it was inevitable, but halfway through the third period, Islanders’ enforcer Mick Vukota and Capitals’ Nick Kypreos dropped the gloves off the faceoff. The fight lived up to its billing as both combatants landed numerous blows and both were bloodied. Oddly, just before the altercation, Mick Vukota scored a rare goal for the Islanders. Maybe Kypreos was jealous? The Capitals eventually won the game 5-4.
There is a 5-way tie atop of the Molson 3-Stars Leaderboard. Mark Messier, Brian Bellows, Steve Yzerman, Ron Francis, and Darren Puppa each have earned 10 points. Wayne Gretzky, Cam Neely, and Ron Tugnutt each sit one point behind at 9 points.
MOLSON 3 STAR POINTS LEADERS
3 Stars of the Week:
1. Wayne Gretzky – Los Angeles
2. Darren Puppa – Buffalo
3. Mike Liut – Hartford
*-Honorable Mention Peter Zezel – St. Louis and Cam Neely - Boston
Wayne Gretzky scored his 1,850th and 1,851st points to pass Gordie Howe for the NHL’s all-time points lead. Darren Puppa and Mike Liut carried multiple-game shutout streaks throughout the week to carry the Sabres and Whalers. Mike Liut is taking his current shutout streak of 150:33 into Montreal Monday night to face the Habs.
Cam Neely and Peter Zezel had big weeks as well, scoring 5 goals and 4 goals respectively. Zezel also shut down league scoring leader Steve Yzerman when the Blues hosted the Red Wings on Thursday night October 19th.
TEAM PP% RANKINGS
TEAM SH RANKINGS
TEAM GOAL DIFFERENTIAL
October 17 – The 6.9 Mw Loma Prieta earthquake shakes the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Coast with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent). Sixty-three people were killed.
With the Oakland Athletics enjoying a 2-0 World Series lead over the Giants, the teams were warming up for a 5:35 P.M. game 3. The Loma Prieta Earthquake struck at 5:04 P.M. with thousands of people already in the stadium. Because of the coincidence of the timing, this was the first earthquake in the United States to be broadcast on live television. Commissioner Fay Vincent has decided to delay the World Series for 5 days and the league is exploring the use of alternate ballparks to complete the series
“Rock and a Hard Place” by The Rolling Stones takes over the Billboard #1 Rock song from Aerosmith’s “Love in an Elevator”