Week In Review after games played on Saturday, November 11, 1989

A minor trade went down this week. On Friday, November 10th, The St. Louis Blues dealt Brian Benning to the Los Angeles Kings for a third round pick in 1991.

Benning was a former 2nd round pick of the Blues back in 1984. The Edmonton, Alberta native, led the Blues’ defensemen in points the past 2 seasons. He never played in minor leagues. He is no stranger to being traded as he was moved in his junior hockey days by Portland (WHL) to Kamloops in August 1984. He missed remainder of 1984-85 season with broken right femur, an injury suffered when he was checked into the boards by Ken Priestlay while trying to touch the puck in his own zone for an icing call during Kamloops' Dec. 28, 1984, WHL game vs. Victoria. Benning hasn’t played since October 24th. In 7 games so far this season, he has 2 assists and is a -1.

To Los Angeles: Brian Benning
To St. Louis: 3rd round pick in 1991


Rich Pilon Suffers Severe Eye Injury

Last Saturday, in a game against Detroit, New York Islanders’ defenseman Rich Pilon sustained an eye injury when a shot by Brent Fedyk hit him on the right eyeball. This season is Pilon's second year in the league. When the puck struck Pilon, it shattered his right orbital bone, he said, and his eyeball took most of the impact. "The pain was unbelievable and I knew it was not just cut," Pilon said. "The pressure in my head was incredible. Pilon is expected to spend two weeks in the hospital and has lost some vision in his eye, but he still has his peripheral vision. Early reports are that Pilon will miss the remainder of the season.


Chicago Blackhawks Struggle in the Norris

The Chicago Blackhawks were hoping to be in a lot better position at the quarter pole. They are 8-9-3 for 19 points, sitting in second place in the Norris Division, with both the Blues and North Stars within 2 points with 4 and 3 games in hand respectively. Chicago is tied with Buffalo for second worst in the NHL at -8 replay vs. actual points. The Rangers are the NHL’s worst at -10, but they seem to have stabilized. A large reason for the woes are the fact that the Chicago Blackhawks are the NHL’s most penalized team, but also have the NHL’s second-worst penalty kill percentage, a lethal combination. The goaltending tandem of Chevrier and Cloutier has been much less than inspiring, putting up a combined .860 save percentage and a 4.17 Goals Against average. The have saved only 55 of 120 goalie rating draws at 45.83%, the third worst in the NHL, ahead of only the Rangers and Quebec. In the 60th anniversary of Chicago Stadium, the Blackhawks and their fans had a hopeful outlook on this season, projected by many publications to win the Norris Division. Opinions have soured and fingers are pointing to the goaltending, Adam Creighton’s penchant for taking selfish penalties at the worst times, and at head coach Mike Keenan.

General Manager Bob Pulford, in an interview on WBBM Radio, said emphatically that he is not looking to make any changes at this time, and he feels comfortable with the roster he has assembled as well as Coach Keenan. Things will not get easier this week though, as the Blackhawks play the top 2 teams in the NHL in Hartford and Calgary, and in between travel to Vancouver to face the Canucks.


Helmut Balderis

The NHL and Minnesota North Stars have a record holder in their midst, below the radar. Back in June, Helmut Baleris was drafted in the 12th round (238 overall) by the North Stars. In this past draft, Mats Sundin made history as the first European to be selected first overall in an NHL draft. Balderis, then 36, quietly also made history as the oldest person to be drafted by an NHL team.

Balderis is a lot like the Soviet Union’s version of Guy Lafleur. Both had great careers in their respective leagues. Both retired after the 1984-85 season due to dissatisfaction with their respective careers. And both made comebacks at age 37.

Unlike Lafleur, who has had moderate success in his three-year comeback, the beginning of Balderis’ career in the NHL has been unremarkable. He finds himself in and out of the lineup with the North Stars, with 2 assists and a -3 in 7 games played so far. Other Soviet players who have made their NHL debuts in 1989, such as Sergei Makarov and Igor Larionov, had much more impact with their respective teams.

But before — and even after — his stint in the NHL, Balderis has had a stellar career. The Latvian-born winger played pro hockey in the Soviet Union from 1973 to 1985. His first four seasons were spent with his hometown Dynamo Riga team. Balderis had a breakout year in 1976-77: he was the Soviet League’s top scorer, was named to the First All-Star team, was named the Soviet League player of the year and was named the best forward at the World Championships. After that, he and head coach Viktor Tikhonov — the renowned Soviet hockey coach — were transferred to the Central Red Army team, where Balderis played for three seasons.

In 1980, Balderis was a part of the Soviet Olympic Team that lost the “Miracle on Ice” game to the United States. He skated over to the American bench to offer congratulations to U.S. coach Herb Brooks.

Balderis decided to return to Latvia after the 1979-80 season, where he played another five years. That angered Tikhonov, who was the coach of both the Central Red Army and the Soviet National Team. Tikhonov purposely left Balderis off of the National Team roster for any international tournaments. Fed up, Balderis retired in 1985 and coached hockey in Japan until the North Stars took a chance on him in the 1989 NHL Draft.


Oilers not ready for grave yet

JIM MATHESON Journal Staff Writer


WASHINGTON, D.C. — You remember that scene in Marathon Man where Laurence Olivier is standing over a sweaty Dustin Hoffman with a whirring drill in his hand?

Well, the Edmonton Oilers were squirming just as much, with all the joy of a tooth extraction . . . until they bit back with a 4-3 win over the Capitals Saturday.

Described as “a relic of a franchise” in the papers, the new-look Oilers won their first National Hockey League game here in almost exactly five years (Nov. 9, 1984). How long ago was that? Well, they’d only won one Stanley Cup, and goalie Bill Ranford was making $50 a week in New Westminster.

“Of all places to get a win on this trip, we beat our nemesis,” said Kevin Lowe, who got a goal as the Oilers stopped a numbing three-game streak of winning one game in their last 5.

“Not bad for relics,” laughed coach John Muckler, who had a nice night for all but two minutes in the third when the normally efficient Ranford got two left feet and the Caps scored two quick goals to come within one with almost five minutes to play.

But Esa Tikkanen, who scored his 100th NHL goal against the Nordiques on October 28th, and Craig Muni, both with third period goals got Ranford off the hook.

“No place to hide,” said Ranford, who gave up a gift to Kelly Miller, then a second to Kevin Hatcher on the powerplay after being caught out of his net.

It was almost three but Mark Messier cleared the puck off the goal line. “That didn’t go in, only because I stepped on the puck,” said Ranford.

“On the first one I was shuffling my feet trying to find the puck, but couldn’t. On the second I gambled, and it didn’t work. I was out of the net. The thing with goalies is when you make a mistake, it usually shows on the scoreboard.”

“It got a little scary. We had control of the game. But we didn’t panic,” said Craig Simpson.

Jeff Beukeboom and Jari Kurri were the other goal scorers for the Oilers.

“A very large win. They don’t get much bigger than that,” said Craig MacTavish, who whipped a 20-footer past Don Beaupre, but hit the post with Peter Eriksson bothering the goalie in the third period, then snapping a rebound by the goalie with the Swede in the crease.

“Punched right in the nose on the last one,” said Eriksson, who’d sat out three games with a sore back. “The big Swede covers a lot of territory.” said MacTavish.

“That line, with Joe Murphy, has been the best one we have had,” praised Muckler.

Simpson had his best outing in weeks, appearing to score as he fell while charging to the net. He crashed into the goalpost but got up and was unblemished. The goal did not count.

“Only 43 more to go. Plenty of time left,” said Simpson, laughing for one of the few times this year.

“So far, this has been the most frustrating year of my career. When I got hit by Steve Smith’s shot (open net) in the first period I thought it was was going to be another one of those games. And once my goal came, the net came off the magnets. It was a bit much.”

“It’s been kind of Murphy’s Law for us in a lot of games and it looked that way (when Ranford got a rattled) in the third, but I know we have more talent on this team than we did last year. We bounced back,” said Lowe.

“The key is doing it for two games in a row,” said Simpson, knowing that if they lose tonight in Buffalo it’s another kick in the head.




After 6 weeks, the Standings continue to take form. The upstart Hartford Whalers are continuing their roll, posting a 12-4-2 record for 26 points to lead the Adams Division and the NHL. The Montreal Canadiens are nipping at the Whalers’ heels in the Adams, only 2 points behind at 24 with an 11-8-2 record. However, the Habs have played the most games in the NHL with 21. Hartford looks to build on their lead with 3 games in hand. Montreal does boast the best Divisional record in the Wales Conference at 5-2-0. The Bruins have 5 games in had on Montreal, and are 5 points back. They are looking to get healthier and making a run to the top of the Division. The Sabres have been one of the NHL’s most disappointing teams at 7-8-2, which is 8 points below their actual point total at this date. Quebec rounds out the Division, with 12 points, however they had a good week with two impressive wins, one at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum vs the Islanders on Thursday, followed by a Saturday night win against the Canucks, both 4-3 victories.

The Patrick Division is crowded at the top. The New York Islanders, behind a Division best Goals against average, save percentage, and goalie rating percentage, currently sit in first place, three points ahead of the Devils and Capitals. New Jersey holds two games in hand and looks to take advantage. The Devils and Islanders both have rivalry games Sunday, visiting the Flyers and Rangers respectively. The Flyers and Rangers are both looking better as of late and want to close the gap in the atrick Division. The Flyers trail the Islanders by 6 points, the Rangers trail by 7. New York continues to hold the NHL’s worst performance vs actual at -10. They have the second worst goal differential in the NHL at -19 and the 5th worst goals against average. The Penguins are stuck in 6th place in the Patrick Division, with the NHL’s worst record at 4-13-0. They need to right the ship quickly or they will face a sharp uphill climb. They have slid 6 points behind the 4th place Flyers for the last playoff spot. They are also missing defenseman Zarley Zalapski with a fractured collarbone, and goaltender Tom Barrasso with a wrist surgery. There are rumblings that head coach Gene Ubriaco’s seat could be getting warmer with each loss.

The Norris, as predicted, is the most competitive Division in the NHL. The disappointment of the Chicago Blackhawks has left the door wide open, and right now, all five Norris Division teams are within 5 points. Toronto, thanks to the NHL’s leading scorer Ed Olczyk, is holding a tenuous grasp on first place, with games in hand on Chicago, who is one point behind. The Blues have 2 games in hand on Toronto (and 4 games in hand on Chicago), and they are in 3rd place, only 2 points out of first. Minnesota is one point behind the Blues for 4th place, followed by the Detroit Red Wings, who are 2 points out of 4th place, but 5 points out of first.

The Smythe Division is the NHL’s toughest frame. Calgary is making a good case that they can repeat as Stanley Cup Champions, at 11-5-3, holding a 4 point lead on the Kings who are 10-7-1. Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver are all within 2 points in 3rd through 5th place. The Canucks are tied with the Flyers with the NHL’s least potent offenses, with just 52 goals scored. Vancouver has played in 2 more games than Philadelphia.




Now on to the NHL’s league leaders through the sixth week of action.

Many league leaders stayed relatively stagnant, but Ed Olczyk made the most of the week, scoring 5 goals in 3 games, jumping to second in the goal scoring race with 15, and topping Steve Yzerman in the NHL points race with 32 points. In addition to the 5 goals, Olczyk added 2 assists for 7 points, leading the Leafs to the top of the Norris Division.

Ed Olczyk had a big week, scoring 5 goals and jumping into the league-scoring lead





Neal Broten and Brian Bellows each had big scoring weeks to move up toward the top of the points race



Paul Cavallini had a great week from the Blues’ blue line, going +6 for the week to take the lead in the plus-minus rankings. Doug Crossman also put in a great week for the first place Islanders with a +5 on the week. Previous leaders, the pairing of Steve Duchesne and Larry Robinson weren’t shabby either with a +2 each. The Blues are well represented among the NHL’s leaders, but are at a zero goal differential. The Hull and Oates line and their top defensive pair of Cavallini and Lalor have filled the net and prevented goals against. The rest of the roster has only four plus players.

The Blues take over the leaderboard



Gary Roberts continues his NHL lead on PIM this week. Becomes the first player to eclipse 100 penalty minutes. The Flames will need Roberts on the ice more.




Doug Wilson extends his lead on takeaways, anchoring Chicago’s blueline, as well as frequent penalty-killing.



Petr Svoboda has employed a hit-first, ask questions later type of attitude.











Mike Liut is playing at an MVP level so far this season, leading the Hartford Whalers to the top. He has a .942 save percentage and a 1.71 GAA.










Game of the Week:

Round Two of the Battle Of Alberta

Edmonton and Calgary met for the second time in 4 nights Monday in Calgary. Calgary took the first meeting Friday night 6-5 with a late goal by Joe Nieuwendyk. The Flames came in riding a 7 game winning streak.

The Flames jumped ahead early, as Nieuwendyk set up Al MacInnis alone on Grant Fuhr to take a 1-0 lead just 9 seconds into the game. The crowd of 20,107 was immediately worked into a frenzy

The Oilers showed a lot of fight in this contest, a trait Edmonton has failed to show with consistency this season. At the 15:07 mark of the first period, Petr Klima scored his 5th. The tie was short-lived though, as Calgary book-ended the period. With 11 seconds remaining, Joe Mullen penetrated through the Oilers’ defense and put the puck in the net for the 2-1 Flames lead going into the break.

Paul Ranheim scored his 6th with 7:30 remaining in the second period, but Steve Smith had an answer on the powerplay 2 minutes later to again cut the lead in half to 3-2.

The third period saw early chances at both ends, but with 8:14 remaining, Adam Graves scored his 1st of the season and first as an Oiler from newcomers Klima and Joe Murphy. The game was tied for the first time since the first period. Gary Roberts, however, scored his 4th of the season with 3:10 left on a rebound to take a late lead. While trying to protect the lead, Roberts took a double-minor penalty, but also took Jarri Kurri with him with a minor. On the powerplay, and Grant Fuhr pulled for the extra attacker, again, the new blood for Edmonton came through. Petr Klima scored his second of the game and 4th already as an oiler to tie it with 45 seconds to go. The “Carson Trade Line” had 3 goals and 4 assists in the game and has been Edmonton’s best, most productive line since the trade.

Klima took a penalty in overtime, but the Flames could not convert. The teams walked off with a 4-4 tie. When all was said and done, Oiler goalie Grant Fuhr was strong, despite allowing 4 goals. The Flames outshot the Oilers 47-24. Fuhr was tested 9 times on goalie rating draws, and he saved 7 of them. Al MacInnis of the Flames took the first star with a goal and 3 assists. Calgary loses its winning streak, but extends its unbeaten streak to 8 games.

Joel Otto and Steve Smith fight for position in front of Grant Fuhr






Fight of the week:

Thursday night, Edmonton travelled to Boston to face the Bruins, in a game that many thought could be a Stanley Cup Finals preview. The game was tightly fought by both teams, ending in a dramatic Cam Neely overtime game-winning goal. The Boston Garden fans were also treated to a heavyweight bout between hometown Lyndon Byers and Kelly Buchberger. It was almost halfway through the second period in a 1-1 game. Both teams had their fourth lines out, and Byers and Buchberger met almost immediately at the blue line. The combatants each got a series of good punches in. Buchberger was a little bit aggressive as the players went to the ice. As a result, Byers was cut and Buchberger received an extra 2 minutes. Byers was stitched up and returned to action.








3 Stars of the Week:

Ed Olczyk shows no signs of taking a rest from his scoring pace this week

1.       Ed Olczyk - Toronto

2.       Brian Bellows - Minnesota

3.       Mike Liut - Hartford


Olczyk had 5 goals and 2 assists this week to grab the NHL points lead, as well as the first star of the week. Brian Bellows had 2 goals and 6 assists in 3 games to move into second in the scoring race, barely beating out linemate Neal Broten, who had a goal and 5 assists. Mike Liut gets the third star. He had 2 wins this week in 2 games, allowing only 2 goals, and maintained his masterful season, showing no sign of slowing down.





















This Week In the News


November 9th - East Germany Opens the Berlin Wall

East Germany opens the Berlin Wall

East German officials today opened the Berlin Wall, allowing travel from East to West Berlin. The following day, celebrating Germans began to tear the wall down. One of the ugliest and most infamous symbols of the Cold War was soon reduced to rubble that was quickly snatched up by souvenir hunters. The East German action followed a decision by Hungarian officials a few weeks earlier to open the border between Hungary and Austria. This effectively ended the purpose of the Berlin Wall, since East German citizens could now circumvent it by going through Hungary, into Austria, and thence into West Germany. The decision to open the wall was also a reflection of the immense political changes taking place in East Germany, where the old communist leadership was rapidly losing power and the populace was demanding free elections and movement toward a free market system. The action also had an impact on President George Bush and his advisors. After watching television coverage of the delirious German crowds demolishing the wall, many in the Bush administration became more convinced than ever that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s statements about desiring a new relationship with the West must be taken more seriously. Unlike 1956 and 1968, when Soviet forces ruthlessly crushed protests in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, respectively, Gorbachev actually encouraged the East German action. As such, the destruction of the Berlin Wall was one of the most significant actions leading to the end of the Cold War.


November 5th, 1989 – Bernie Kosar sets NFL record with 16 straight completions in a 42-31 victory at Tampa Bay. The Browns are in first place in the AFC Central Division.

November 7th, 1989 – Gregg Olson of the Baltimore Orioles becomes the first relief pitcher to win Rookie of the Year honors.