Week In Review after games played on Saturday, November 18, 1989
Jim Schoenfeld Fired by Devils
Last week, after getting out to a lukewarm 7-6-1 start, GM Lou Lamoriello and John McMullen, the Devils’ Chairman and Principal Owner made the decision to move on from head coach Jim Schoenfeld and replace him with Jim Cunniff, who had joined the team as an assistant coach last May. Schoenfeld was the first NHL coach to be dismissed this season.
Schoenfeld Dismissed As Coach Of Devils
By ALEX YANNIS
Published: November 7, 1989
The Devils dismissed Jim Schoenfeld as their head coach yesterday and replaced him with John Cunniff, who had joined the team as an assistant coach last May.
John McMullen, the club's chairman and principal owner, said there were several reasons for the sudden dismissal of the 37-year-old Schoenfeld, who became the Devils' coach on Jan. 26, 1988, and guided them to the semifinals of the Stanley Cup playoffs that spring.
When pressed to pinpoint the primary reason, McMullen said it was Schoenfeld's inability to get the most out of his players.
''When you have a talented team,'' McMullen explained, ''it's the coach's job to bring that talent to the surface. One quality you must have as a coach is to extract that talent.''
Schoenfeld said in a telephone interview from his home last night that he felt the decision was ''awfully premature'' and that he was ''totally surprised.''
''I think the great early expectations that they had were unrealistic,'' Schoenfeld said. ''We had some problems, but the team was beginning to come together. It wasn't like we had a bad month or lost four in a row.''
Lou Lamoriello, the president and general manager of the Devils, said the move was made because the 7-6-1 Devils were not headed in the right direction this season. Lack of Improvement
''There were inconsistencies in our play and we didn't show any steady improvement,'' Lamoriello said of the Devils, whose record was a disappointing 27-41-12 last season.
Lamoriello said the decision was based on projections for the entire 80-game, 1989-90 schedule and not on the team's first 14 games this fall, 4 of the last 6 of which have produced no victories.
McMullen also indicated that a reason for the coaching change was a lack of leadership on the part of Schoenfeld.
''These are boys and you have to be the father figure, to provide comfort,'' McMullen said. ''They need your leadership.''
While Schoenfeld is a friendly and talkative man, the 45-year-old Cunniff, who came to the Devils from the Boston Bruins, where he had been an assistant coach for three seasons, has not displayed those qualities since coming to the Devils after New Jersey failed to make the playoffs.
Speculation at that time was that Cunniff's arrival meant he would eventually replace Schoenfeld, but Lamoriello denied such reasoning yesterday. 'Different Dimension'
''John's hiring was to complement Jim and add a different dimension,'' said Lamoriello, who added, however, that Cunniff was his only candidate as a replacement for Schoenfeld, whose overall record with the Devils was 51-59-14.
Lamoriello also said the decision to replace Schoenfeld with Cunniff was ''not done overnight'' or ''on the spur of the moment.''
Cunniff said yesterday that his appointment as head coach was ''quite a shock.'' He said he had a talk with Schoenfeld after Lamoriello offered him the job and that Schoenfeld told him to take it.
Cunniff, who before his tenure in Boston was on the staff of the Hartford Whalers for five years, was twice appointed coach of the Whalers in the middle of a season, but on each occasion, he did not return as the head coach the following fall.
''I've done this before a couple of times, but there's always apprehension about something like this,'' Cunniff said about his appointment yesterday. He added that his appointment was not on an interim basis, and Lamoriello confirmed that his agreement with Cunniff was not just for the remainder of this season.
Lamoriello and Cunniff said that a decision on the hiring of an assistant would be made in the immediate future.
Complaints by players about being misused by Schoenfeld started to circulate after the Devils won only once in their first five games at home.
Although Lamoriello denied it, it appears that Schoenfeld's handling of the team's two Soviet defensemen, Sergei Starikov and Vyacheslav Fetisov, who joined the team this season, contributed to his dismissal. McMullen said Saturday's benching of Fetisov in the Devils' 4-3 loss at Calgary was ''a manifestation of the problem.''
The forward Aaron Broten echoed the opinion of several players about Schoenfeld's dismissal.
''I guess the biggest reason they fired Jim was because they felt the team was not up to their expectations,'' Broten said yesterday. ''As the cliche goes, 'You can't fire 20 players.' But I think they did it a little too soon.''
What Makes Ron Hextall Tick Tick Tick
What Makes Ron Hextall Tick Tick Tick
Though noted for going off like a bomb at times, the Flyers' Ron Hextall is quietly changing how goalies play in the NHL
By Jay Greenberg
Playing goal is not fun. It is a grim, humorless position, largely uncreative, requiring little physical movement, giving little physical pleasure in return...[a goalie] is simply there, tied to a net and to a game; the game acts, a goalie reacts.
Nov. 13, 1989
Six years after Hall of Famer Ken Dryden wrote the definitive book on goal-tending in hockey, along comes Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers to rewrite it. This goalie acts. And then the game reacts to him.
Hextall, 25, wanders from the goal and plays as a third defenseman. No other NHL goaltender has ever shot and scored a goal; Hextall has done it two times. And he is typecast as the reigning villain on the ever-hated Flyers. Twice he has raged into violent acts that have caused the NHL to suspend him. Last Saturday he ended his most recent suspension, for the first 12 games of the season, returning to play goal in a 4-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
The chip on Hextall's shoulder is from a block three generations old. His grandfather Bryan scored the winning goal in overtime when the Rangers last won the Stanley Cup, in 1940. His father, Bryan Jr., and uncle Dennis made NHL careers more with Hextall grit than with their average skills.
The grandson, however, is special. After Edmonton's Grant Fuhr, who has won four Stanley Cups, Hextall is the goalie most hockey people would choose for a hypothetical do-or-die playoff Game 7. Hextall is quick, tall (6'3") and supple, with the mobility and wrists of a 50-goal scorer. He is a new concept in goaltending: the complete athlete.
Historically, goalies have had bodies that inspired nicknames such as Gump. Many of the best of them, like Dryden and Jacques Plante, were perceived as being more cerebral than athletic. Plante was the first to help himself around the crease by handling the puck. Later, the Rangers' Ed Giacomin and the Bruins' Gerry Cheevers ventured out from the net to aid the defensemen. But not to the degree that Hextall does.
"Giacomin may have connected on some long passes," says current Ranger goalie John Vanbiesbrouck. "But he never made offensive plays like Ron does. He's the first goalie who has put his team on the attack, especially when it is killing penalties."
Former New York Islander goalie Billy Smith was actually the first in the NHL to be credited with a score, but he got it by being the last Islander to touch a puck that the Colorado Rockies accidentally shot into their own net in a game in 1979. Smith was also notorious for being the first goalie to use his stick as a scythe to clear out opposing players from the crease. But Hextall may be even freer with his stick. During the 1987 Cup finals, Edmonton's Kent Nilsson happened to be the unfortunate Oiler to come through the slot after Glenn Anderson—in an attempt to bat a puck out of the air—rapped Hextall on the arm. Hextall took a vicious two-handed swing to the back of Nilsson's legs and sent him crumbling to the ice. Although Hextall argued later that he turned the blade flush to soften the blow—Nilsson was able to take a shift on the resultant power play—the sight was chilling. Hextall was suspended for the first eight games of the next season.
That incident served as a prelude to Hextall's explosion in last season's playoffs. During the dying minutes of the semifinal game that eliminated the Flyers last spring, Hextall charged 40 feet from the net and hit Montreal's Chris Chelios with his blocker, the hard glove a goalie wears on his stick hand. Chelios, whose harder-than-necessary elbow earlier in the series had driven Brian Propp's head into a steel glass support and knocked the Flyer winger unconscious, escaped Hextall's attack without injury. Still, Hextall's previous record and the unsavory image of the losers beating on the winners justified the 12-game suspension he was given. Many thought the punishment light.
"No, I don't think he's a jerk," says Vanbiesbrouck. "I'm a goalie and I know that standing your ground and slashing and hacking is part of the game. But to lose it to the point where injury results is wrong.
"There's a limitation to what one guy can do. I don't know why he wants to take it upon himself to do everything. I just wonder why he wants to be portrayed as such a bad guy."
Truth is, Hextall doesn't. "It bothers me that anyone would think that off the ice, I'm the way I am on it," he says. "I don't think I would be real happy with myself if I was."
Ron's wife, Diane, a former competitive figure skater and Hextall's sweetheart from his hometown of Brandon, Manitoba, swears the maniacal version of Hextall is never to be confused with the doting dad who treasures his time with Kristin, 3, and Brett, 19 months. "He doesn't beat his head against the wall," she says. "We don't have padded doors. I have never seen him lose his temper with the kids. We haven't had a good fight in a long time."
But Diane freely admits she was up and cheering when her husband mugged Chelios. She thinks the Montreal defenseman had it coming for giving Propp a concussion that kept him out of the next game. Diane's view is shared by Hextall's father and his mother, Fay. They are nice people, but they are also hockey people.
Even more jarring than the sight of Hextall going after Chelios was watching him try to defend his actions in the locker room after the game. Limited remorse began to settle in within a few days. Six months later, he is contrite.
"It was wrong," he says. "I'll admit I'm not a good loser, and I'm not proud of it. I've had two incidents that have hurt myself and our club. I know I've been suspended twice, and if I do something else, I will be suspended again. I have to cut that stuff out.
"I thought about [Chelios] for a few minutes before I did it and told myself that as long as I didn't use my stick, we'd both probably get five-minute penalties. I didn't think it all the way through. Two wrongs don't make a right, but what Chelios did to Brian Propp was certainly a lot more harmful than what I did to Chelios."
Obviously the only real apology Hextall has offered is to his teammates. Most of his ethical considerations center on their effect on the team. Hextall has never allowed a goal that he figured wasn't directly his fault. He has 33 one-goal games in his three NHL seasons, but the only lost shutouts he laments were two 1-0 defeats. "It's tough to explain to anyone who has never been on a team," he says. "But you'll do anything for your teammates."
That value reflects his upbringing, though it turns out that Grandpa was something of a pacifist. Bryan Hextall Sr. was a strong player who three times was voted first-team All-Star right wing during an 11-season NHL career that ended in 1948. But he repeatedly lectured his sons, Bryan Jr. and Dennis, to stay out of the penalty box. "He was a tough player. He just didn't like fighting," says Ron. "He'd really get frustrated with my dad and uncle."
Bryan Sr. died in 1984, but Hextall's grandmother, Gert, still lives in Poplar Point, Manitoba, and it is she who claims credit for introducing the mean genes into the family. Instilled with her fire and their father's quiet determination, Bryan Jr. and Dennis hung on to have lengthy NHL careers. And they stuck those Hextall noses in places where they often came away bleeding. One of the outstanding remembrances of Ron's youth was watching the Broad Street Bullies beat on his father and uncle. "I hated the Flyers." says Hextall.
He also wasn't much for school. Fay preached the virtues of education to her three children, but only her eldest, Tracy, now a grade school teacher in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, took the message to heart. Ron, who was born a year after his brother, Rod, earned B's and C's by doing the minimum, but there was really only one subject that interested him: goaltending. "Everybody else would be working and I'd be drawing pictures of Tony Esposito and Jimmy Rutherford," he says. Bryan Jr., who like his father was a forward, had no objections to having a goalie in the family. But he did insist that Ron play other positions first so he could develop his skating.
"I always thought Ronald would make a great defenseman," says Bryan. Fay, whose wrist shot tested five-year-old Ron in the driveway, said she saw his single-mindedness and became convinced that someday he would be exactly what he intended to be. "I can't say that I didn't discourage distractions from it," she says, "but I felt from a young age that he would make it. He had a love for the game that frankly I didn't see in too many of the players that his father played with."
From 1962 to '76, Bryan Jr. bounced from the Rangers to the minors to Pittsburgh to Atlanta to Detroit to Minnesota. The kids would begin every school year in Brandon, then in early October, when the season began, would transfer to a school near where their dad was playing. "Every year I would march them into the new school the first day like it was the most natural thing in the world," remembers Fay. "Then I'd get in the car and burst into tears."
Hextall adjusted though. "I always had friends," he says. "Guys either hated me because I had a father who was a professional athlete or they liked me because of it. I don't want to put my kids through that many moves, but I had a great childhood. I got to hang around NHL rinks. What more would I have wanted?"
Bryan can still picture Ron's face behind the glass at practice, watching the goalie's every move. The exposure to an athlete's life-style and the instruction at the hockey school where Bryan taught every summer were ideal situations for a budding player. The youth hockey programs in cities like Pittsburgh and Atlanta, though, were not. Ron was 12 when Bryan retired in 1976, and the family moved back to Brandon. He had some catching up to do.
"I wasn't what you would call real polished my first year of junior [at 17]," he says. He played for a poor Brandon team that afforded him little protection, and he found himself fighting, literally, an almost nightly battle for survival. When Flyer scout Jerry Melnyk saw him, he figured Hextall was the Flyers' kind of guy. "I liked what most people probably didn't like about him." Melnyk says. "There were teams who thought he was loony. That's probably why he lasted until the sixth round [in the 1982 draft]."
It was not until four seasons later, when Hextall played for Hershey of the American League, that he blossomed as a prospect. On opening night of the 1986-87 season, he was in the Flyer goal against Edmonton. The Oilers scored on their first shot, but they didn't score again. "Who the hell are you?" Wayne Gretzky said after Hextall robbed him on a breakaway early in the game. "Who the hell are you?" Hextall replied. The Flyers won 2-1 and kept winning all season, all the way to Game 7 of the Cup finals. There Hextall was holding his team in against an overpowering Edmonton offensive machine until, in the 57th minute, the Oilers scored to seal a 3-1 victory and take the Cup. Hextall accepted the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs' MVP and then, when alone, broke down and cried.
"It's a terrible feeling, losing the last game of any year," he says. "A lonely feeling. Maybe I'll mellow out as I get older, but each year, no matter how far we go, it still feels the same. It kills the first few weeks of my summer.
"Every goal I give up, I ask myself why I didn't do anything different. Even when you know that you didn't have a hope in heck, you still think there's something you could have done."
Almost as heavy as the goalie's burden is his stick. It is a cumbersome instrument designed to stop pucks, not shoot them. But, as a kid, Hextall grew bored standing in the net for long minutes of a game. When he finally got the puck, he hated to give it up.
The rule book required that a goalie stop at the red line, and Fay, still wondering if Ron would rather be a defense-man, sometimes asked, "Wouldn't you like to keep going?" But since he was three and began stopping a rolled-up sock he had bounced off the stairs, nothing had given Hextall more satisfaction than making a save. At the same time, there was little—except tradition—to prevent him from doing the things other position players did. By age 12, Hextall's technique and wrist strength enabled him to lift the puck on the fly as far as the red line. Scoring a goal was simply a matter of time and opportunity.
He announced his intention soon after joining the Flyers. He wouldn't risk the icing—and the face-off in the Flyer end—with a one-goal lead, but if they were up two and the opposition goalie had been pulled, he would try it. On Dec. 8, 1987, at the Spectrum, Boston's Gord Kluzak flipped the puck in and Hextall stopped it behind the goal. He turned, aimed and made history.
Hextall estimates that given time, he can hit the net five times out of 10 from 180 feet away. So far, under game conditions he's 2 for 3, having missed once, then connected for a shorthanded goal in an 8-5 win over Washington at the Capital Centre in last year's playoffs.
"I'd primarily like to be known for stopping the puck," he says. "But I'd rather be known as the goalie who scores goals than for the [suspensions]. I feel good about making a contribution to the game. It's given me a great living."
Last summer, however, he became convinced that the living wasn't as great as it could have been. Too much of the money in the eight-year, $4 million contract he had signed early in the '87-88 season was deferred over 20 years; he was earning only $325,000 a year. So he hired Rich Winter, the most confrontational agent in hockey, to renegotiate. When the Flyers refused to deal with Winter, Hextall called a press conference and tearfully said he wouldn't come to camp. "I made the decision," Hextall insists. "Rich only laid out the options. I didn't see that he had done anything wrong that I should fire him."
Hextall returned 42 days later, after both sides promised to say nothing about the renegotiations. Flyer general manager Bobby Clarke hinted, though, that a new deal was in the works. "When something happens, you'll know about it," he said after Hextall's return. Throughout, Hextall has said that he never wanted to leave Philadelphia. Still, he had convinced himself, just as he did when he went after Chelios, that a principle was involved. His direction may be open to question, but never his resolve. The correct way to play goal is to do it standing up. Hextall believes it is also the way to live one's life.
"When I'm done, I'll look in the mirror and say I gave it everything I had," he says. "If you got every ounce of talent out of yourself, then you did well."
Hartford Whalers Set Franchise Record en Route to Top of NHL
On Saturday night, the Whalers outlasted the New York Rangers in a 6-5 victory, extending its 12 game unbeaten streak, a new franchise record. Earlier in the week, on Wednesday the 15th, Whalers reached 11 games by beating the rival Bruins 2-1. The 11th game broke the franchise record, set from January 20th - February 10th, 1982. There is no telling when the Whalers will let up, enjoying unexpected dominance, going 15-1-3 in their last 19 games, rising to claim the best record in the National Hockey League
“There is no quit in these players” said head coach Rick Ley, “They seem to put themselves ahead in almost every game, and if they fall behind, the lead is quickly vanquished. The goaltending has been as good as any in the NHL, led by Mike Liut.”
Liut has been fantastic, boasting a 10-1-3 record with a 2.04 goals against average and an historic pace of a .933 save percentage.
Also leading the charge is the captain, Ron Francis and linemate Pat Verbeek. They have combined for 27 goals and currently sit at #3 and #4 in scoring in the NHL, a fine compliment to the outstanding goaltending of Liut. They have been among the best 2 combos in the league along-side Neil Broten and Brian Bellows of the North Stars.
Also contributing are secondary scorers of Kevin Dineen and Scott Young. The forward corps are rounded out with Dean Evason and Mikael Andersson, who both play a tenacious 2-way game.
The Whalers play the Nordiques at home this week, and then host the Flyers, before engaging Division rival Buffalo in a home and home series.
Flyers Also Bringing The Wood
Another improbable rapid-riser in the league is the Philadelphia Flyers. Having played out the 12-game suspension by star goaltender Ron Hextall, his holdout, and injury, the Flyers have depended on a few unlikely heroes. The Flyers are currently enjoying a 9-game unbeaten streak and have pulled into a 4-way tie for first place in the Patrick Division with a 9-8-3 record. One such hero is goaltender Bruce Hoffort, who backstopped Lake Superior State one year ago. Hoffort has been a perfect 4-0-0 in his 4 starts, posting a .906 save percentage and 2.24 goals against average. Mike Bullard leads the Flyers in goals and points with 11 and 25 respectively. Bullard sits one goal away from 300 for his career. The forward corps does not provide much flash, but is well balanced from top to bottom with numerous contributors. Gord Murphy anchors the defense, posting 4 goals, 10 assists, and is a +10. Jeff Chychrun and Kjell Samuelsson are a solid top pairing with 55 combined takeaways.
QUARTER-POLE POWER RANKINGS
We have passed the quarter-mark of the season. Here are the Power Rankings
1. Hartford Whalers – 15-4-3 (33 Points) – The Whalers, seemingly out of nowhere sits on top of the NHL. Will they be able to pile up the points once their hot streak ends?
2. Calgary Flames – 14-6-3 (31 Points) – The defending champions are separating themselves from the pack with an 8 point lead in the Smythe. They lead the NHL in goals (93). If Mike Vernon can start playing to his 88-89 form, this team does not have a weakness.
3. Montreal Canadiens – 13-9-2 (28 Points) – The Habs have a stingy team, leading the NHL in takeaways and Penalty Kill percentage. They are backstopped by the NHL’s best goaltender Patrick Roy.
4. St. Louis Blues – 12-7-0 (24 Points) – The Blues have had the lightest schedule to start the season. They are good at both ends of the ice on forward and the blue line. They sit atop of the Norris Division with an 8-1-0 Division record.
5. Washington Capitals – 10-9-1 (21 Points) – The Capitals boast the second best goal-differential in the NHL at +16. They take a lot of penalties, however, their penalty-killing, second in the NHL keeps them out of trouble. Washington boasts one of the best top defensive pairings in the NHL in Scott Stevens and Kevin Hatcher. They are also stingy at center with Dale Hunter, Michel Pivonka, and Mike Ridley.
6. Boston Bruins – 10-8-1 (21 Points) – The Bruins went out of the gate banged up and playing only 2 of their first 9 games at home, including a monster 6 game road trip that went from Montreal-Edmonton-Vancouver-LA-Edmonton-Calgary. As the Bruins are getting healthier and playing in Boston Garden, they are proving to be tough to beat.
7. Los Angeles Kings – 11-9-1 (23 Points) – Los Angeles, after a hot start and the energy of Wayne Gretzky claiming the all-time points title, has cooled. The Kings have just 2 wins in their last 9 games, most recently, a pair of embarrassing 5-1 losses against the Oilers and Capitals.
8. New Jersey Devils – 10-9-1 (21 Points) – The Devils boast the NHL’s leading assist and point-getter Patrik Sundstrom (29, 38). Also, John MacLean is tied for the NHL lead with 18 goals. The Devils find themselves in the 4-way first place Patrick Division boondoggle.
9. Toronto Maple Leafs – 10-10-2 (22 Points) – The Leafs were at 7-3-1 through 11 games and have since struggled, having gone a reverse 3-7-1 since. Eddie Olczyk leads the way with 16 goals and 18 assists for 34 points, among the NHL leaders. Their powerplay is top 3 in the NHL, converting at 31.25%.
10. Edmonton Oilers – 9-10-1 (19 Points) – The Oilers have the looks of a team who can break out and start piling on wins. They have been unable to put it together yet. The Oilers are 2 games below .500, but still have a +5 goal differential. They have been a better team since trading Jimmy Carson. Petr Klima has 6 goals in 8 games since becoming an Oiler.
11. Philadelphia Flyers – 9-8-3 (21 Points) – The Flyers are riding a 9 game unbeaten streak up the Ranks of the Patrick Division, now involved with the 4-way tie for first. Mike Bullard needs just 1 more goal to reach 300 for his career.
12. Buffalo Sabres – 9-9-2 (20 Points) – Buffalo has underperformed thus far at -7 points vs real points, the 4th worst in the NHL. They have scored the second least goals in the NHL with 60. Their lauded penalty killing is at 71.67%, well below average.
13. Chicago Blackhawks – 10-10-2 (22 Points) – An NHL-worst -10 points to actual points, the Blackhawks fans should expect more. Mike Keenan needs to reel in the discipline. Chicago has the most penalty minutes in the NHL, allowed the most powerplays, and has the NHL’s worst penalty killing percentage at a paltry 68.04%. Remarkably, the Blackhawks have the best shot differential in the league, outshooting their opponents by an average of 6.5 shots.
14. New York Rangers – 8-11-2 (18 Points) – Like the Sabres and Blackhawks, the Rangers are underperforming this season at -9 points replay vs actual. The good news? The Rangers are a lukewarm 6-4-1 since starting the season at 2-7-1. A 6-4-1 pace will possibly be enough to top the Patrick Division.
15. Minnesota North Stars – 8-10-3 (19 Points) – Another team not meeting expectations, the North Stars are -8 Replay vs Actual points. Neal Broten has 37 points, Brian Bellows has 17 goals and 35 points, Mike Gartner has 27 points, and Dave Gagner 11 goals… but outside of that (a large chunk has come on 25 powerplay goals), secondary scoring has been M.I.A.
16. New York Islanders – 10-11-1 (21 Points) – The Islanders had a nice start, but have won just twice in their last 9 games. Their blueline has been decimated by injuries, and will be without Rich Pilon for the season with an eye injury.
17. Winnipeg Jets – 9-10-1 (19 Points) – This one was tough. I wanted to put the Jets higher, but they have been inconsistent so far. Since a 6-3-0 start, they have gone 3-7-1. They are going to need more contributions outside the first 2 lines.
20. Pittsburgh Penguins – 5-13-2 (12 Points) – Calls for Gene Ubriaco’s job are getting louder, and even Super Mario has faced some criticism (even though he has tallied 30 points). The Penguins need someone, anyone to step up after Lemieux, Coffey, Rob Brown, and Kevin Stevens.
21. Quebec Nordiques – 7-13-1 (15 Points) – Without Ron Tugnutt and Joe Sakic, it isn’t clear Quebec would have won a game thus-far. The goalie and #1 center won’t be able to hold the dam over 80 games. Quebec is 0-6-1 in games that Tugnutt has rested. Sakic has 18 goals, tied for the NHL lead. That is over 27% of Quebec’s goals on the season.
Here are the standings after 7 weeks, pre-Thanksgiving edition. The Prince of Wales Conference looks to be clarifying itself at the quarter-mark. Hartford continues to roll for an NHL-best 33 points, but Montreal continues to chase and keep the pressure on behind good goaltending and deep scoring. The Bruins and Sabres are hanging in around the .500 mark and look to improve their standing, while Quebec is in the basement of the Adams Division with an NHL-worst -32 goal diffeential.
The Patrick Division is the most competitive in the league. There is a 4-way tie for first place between Washington, New Jersey, the Islanders, and the red-hot Flyers. The Islanders have played 2 more games than the other 3 squads. The Rangers, who have struggled to meet expectations so far this season are 3 points out of a playoff spot, while the Penguins look like a mess, with the NHL’s worst record and a 9-point hole looking up at a playoff spot.
On to the Campbell Conference. The Flames have continued to play well and have opened an 8 point lead in the Smythe Division. The Kings hold second currently with 23 points. The last 3 teams in the Smythe are within 2 points of one another, battling it out to get a leg up for the final playoff spot. Right now Vancouver sits in 5th, down 2 points, but have a game in hand on the 4th place Oilers. The teams face off tomorrow night.
The Blues seem to be rising up, ahead of the often-mediocre Norris Division. The Blues have played only 19 games (compared to Toronto’s 22 and Chicago’s 23), but have put up a nice 12-7-0 record, claiming the most points. Toronto, Chicago, and Minnesota run 2nd through 4th, all within 3 points of one another. Detroit is in last place, 4 points out of a playoff spot and dropping.
Now on to the NHL’s league leaders through the seventh week..
Patrik Sundstrom has taken on the points race by storm. Sundstrom had 10 points this week, vaulting him to the top. His linemate, John MacLean is tied with Joe Sakic for the NHL lead with 18 goals.
Patrik Sundstrom had 10 points this week, to up his season total to 38
Patrik Sundstrom is the unlikely NHL leader for points and assists
Doug Crossman and Paul Cavallini share the NHL lead with +17. The Blues represent 5 of the NHL’s top 11, filling out their first line and defensive pairing
The Blues continue to dominate the leaderboard
PENALTY MINUTES LEADERS
Dave Manson was in a bad mood this week, spending 36 minutes in the box, and claiming the NHL lead, on pace for 524 which would shatter the NHL record
FACEOFF PERCENTAGE LEADERS
Dale Hawerchuk has moved into 2nd place with a 68.92% in the circle
POWERPLAY GOALS LEADERS
GAME-WINNING GOALS LEADERS
SHOTS ON GOAL
Mike Liut continues to lead the NHL in most categories. He maintains a .933 save percentage and a 2.04 GAA.
SAVE PERCENTAGE LEADERS
GOALS AGAINST AVERAGE LEADERS
GOALIE RATING PERCENTAGE LEADERS
Game of the Week:
The Flyers Continue Unbeaten Streak Despite Islanders’ Comeback
The Islanders and Flyers met Tuesday night for the third time of the season, with the Flyers enjoying a 2-0-0 season series lead.
The Islanders got out to a fast start, as Dave Chyzowski, just promoted to the first line, scored his first of the season just 27 seconds into the game, the goal coming on a breakaway after Philadelphia failed to control the puck in the neutral zone. 34 Seconds later, Kjell Samuelsson and Gary Nylund met in a scrap to attempt to fire their teams up. Later in the first period, Craig Berube earned a misconduct when he attempted to goad Mick Vukota into a fight, and Mick Vukota would later return the favor at the 7:44 mark of the second period.
Jeff Chychrun scored his first with 4:16 remaining in the first period to tie the game up. The second period was even in shots, but all Flyers on the scoreboard. Just 46 seconds in, Keith Acton put a slapshot behind Mark Fitzpatrick to put the Flyers up for the first time. Rick Tochett extended to lead to 3-1 with 6:52 renaining in the period, and just less than 5 and a half minutes later, Dan Biggs netted his second of the season to make the lead 4-1.
The Flyers appeared to continue finding the net early in the third. With Dave Chyzowski in the box, Terry Carkner scored his first off Brian Propp’s 3rd assist of the game. The Flyers appeared to be in the driver’s seat to extend their season series dominance over the Islanders to 3-0-0.
New York did not want to give up. Just 1:20 after Carkner’s goal, Pat LaFontaine beat Ron Hextall for his 13th to make the score a more respectable 5-2. The Flyers appeared to be suffocating the Islanders’ forwards defensively for awhile, but Bryan Trottier was able to bring the Islanders within 2 with 7:34 remaining. 2:39 Later, Randy Wood netted his 7th from Chyzowski’s 2nd assist and 3rd point of the game to make it a 1-goal game. Later, with the extra-attacker, Doug Crossman grabbed a rebound from a Pat LaFontaine shot and beat Hextall to tie the game with only 21 seconds remaining. Crossman’s goal capped a stunning 4-goal 3rd period comeback.
The Flyers still extended their unbeaten streak to 7 games. Ron Hextall allowed 4 third period goals in only his second start of the season. After the game, he mentioned that conditioning could have been a factor. With the win, the Islanders maintained a thin lead in the Patrick Division.
Vukota and Carkner clash in the second period, after Vukota wanted a piece of Berube
Fight of the week:
On Saturday night in the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, the Penguins ousted the New York Islanders 2-1, all goals coming in the first period. There was also a fight in the period between established enforcer Mick Vukota and Mark Kachowski, who was playing in his 3rd game of the season since being called up from Muskegon of the IHL. Both players landed some good punches. Kachowski held his own quite well to the delight of the crowd of 16,015.
MOLSON 3 STAR POINTS LEADERS
3 Stars of the Week:
Francis leads the upstart Whalers by example
1. Ron Francis - Hartford
2. Patrik Sundstrom – New Jersey
3. Mike Liut - Hartford
Ron Francis had 4 goals and 5 assists, good enough to claim 3rd place in the NHL’s scoring race and to captain the Whalers to a 3-0-1 record on the week. Patrik Sundstrom had 1 goal and 9 assists for a total of 10 points to claim the NHL points lead, and has been awarded the second star. Sandstrom had 4 assist games on 2 occasions this past week and has at least a point in all 20 Devils games this season. Joe Nieuwendyk of the Flames had a 4 goal week and added 2 assists to claim the third star. games, allowing only 2 goals, and maintained his masterful season, showing no sign of slowing down.
TEAM PP% RANKINGS
TEAM SH RANKINGS
TEAM GOAL DIFFERENTIAL
This Week In the News
November 14th - Padres reliever Mark Davis wins NL Cy Young Award
The era of the relief pitcher reached new peaks of distinction yesterday when Mark Davis of the San Diego Padres scored a landslide victory to win the Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in the National League.
The Padres didn't win the pennant and didn't even win the Western Division. But they made a dramatic rush through the homestretch of the season and came within three games of overtaking the San Francisco Giants, and the main reason for their success was Davis, a 29-year-old left-hander from Arizona who pitched 48 times with games on the line and saved 44 of them.
His timing could not have been better. After the season, he filed a letter of intent to become a free agent, and he now is the hottest commodity in the marketplace, with the Yankees and many other teams in pursuit. Davis has admitted a desire to sign back with the Padres, but it may cost them close to $3 million a year to do it. Gets 19 of 24 First-Place Votes
His performance resulted in a tide of votes from a panel of baseball writers, two from each of the 12 cities in the league, taken before the post-season games. He won 19 first-place votes and 4 for second place and far outdistanced Mike Scott of the Houston Astros, the league's only 20-game winner, who got 4 votes for first place and 14 for second. Scott in turn finished far in front of Greg Maddux, who won 19 games for the Chicago Cubs, the Eastern Division winners.
The only other vote for first place went to Orel Hershiser of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the unanimous winner of the award in 1988, who finished fourth in the voting. He was followed by Joe Magrane of the St. Louis Cardinals, Tim Belcher of the Dodgers, Scott Garrelts and Rick Reuschel of the Giants and Mike Bielecki and Mitch Williams of the Cubs.
It is unusual but not unknown for a relief pitcher to win the Cy Young Award over starting pitchers. Davis became the fourth in the National League and the seventh in the big leagues to win it from the bullpen. Only two years ago, Steve Bedrosian was voted the best in the league as the stopper for the Philadelphia Phillies. Ten years ago, Bruce Sutter won it for the Cubs; in 1974, Mike Marshall for the Dodgers.
In the American League, the award has gone to Sparky Lyle of the Yankees (1977), Rollie Fingers of the Milwaukee Brewers (1981) and Guillermo Hernandez of the Detroit Tigers (1984).
But Davis was astonished by the margin of his victory. Before flying to San Diego for a news conference last night from his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., he said: ''I'm both thrilled and surprised. I thought the voting would be a lot closer than it was. In fact, I didn't even think I'd win.''
Later, speaking by telephone from the Padres' stadium, Davis declined to gloat over his clout in the free-agent market and said:
''Whether I won the award or not, the stats were there for everybody to see. The significance of the award is that it puts the focus on the relief pitcher and the changes in the use of the bullpen in the last 15 years.''
Davis became a symbol of the bullpen's changing role this year when he won four games, lost three, saved 44 and allowed only 1.85 earned runs every nine innings. He began the season with 17 saves in a row, ended it with 13 in a row and closed with 20 scoreless innings in September.
Davis did all this in his second full season after joining the Padres in a blockbuster trade with San Francisco in July 1987. One of the other main players in the exchange was Kevin Mitchell, who went to the Giants, led the major leagues in home runs this season and is almost certain to be elected the most valuable player in the league next week.
November 15th – The Little Mermaid and Steel Magnolias are released
November 15th – Bret Saberhagen Wins American League Cy Young Award
November 17th - Bret Saberhagen signs record $2,966,667 per year KC Royal contract
On Wednesday, Bret Saberhagen won his second American League Cy Young award in convincing fashion. Two days later, the Royals rewarded him by making him the highest paid player in baseball.
November 17th – All Dogs Go to Heaven and Harlem Nights are released
November 17th - Police Crush Prague Protest
Police Crush Prague Protest
Riot police in Czechoslovakia have arrested hundreds of people taking part in a protest march.
More than 15,000 people, mostly students, took part in the demonstration, the biggest show of public dissent for two decades.
They called for the resignation of their country's communist government, led by Milos Jakes.
Scores of people were injured, several seriously, as the police forcibly broke up the rally.
Witnesses said the police used clubs to beat marchers and sprayed tear gas indiscriminately.
It comes in the wake of a wave of reform sweeping through other former Soviet bloc states.
In particular, the fall of the Berlin Wall last week in neighbouring East Germany and the disintegration of its hard-line communist regime has heightened expectations of possible change here.
The demonstration began at Charles University, just south of the city's centre.
It started off as an officially-sanctioned march to commemorate Czech student martyr Jan Opletal, who died at the hands of the country's Nazi occupiers 50 years ago.
The fact permission for the march was given at all reflects a growing recognition on the part of the country's communist leaders of the need for change.
It was only the second time a non-government rally had been allowed in Czechoslovakia since the crushing of Alexander Dubcek's reformist government by the Soviet Union 21 years ago.
Mr Dubcek, who has since lived in relative obscurity, was refused permission to travel to Prague to take part in the rally.
November 18th - Protesters Demand Reform in Bulgaria
Protesters Demand Reform in Bulgaria
More than 50,000 people have taken to the streets of Sofia in Bulgaria demanding political reform.
In the biggest demonstration in the country's post-war history, protesters held up banners and chanted: "We want democracy now."
Other demands included free elections, a new constitution and the dismissal of the remaining hard-line members of the Politburo.
The gathering, in the city's Aleksandr Nevsky Square, comes just eight days after the country's Communist leader, Todor Zhivkov, 78, was ousted from power following a 35-year regime.
He was replaced by the more moderate former foreign minister Petar Mladenov, 53, who has promised reform.
'Democracy and pluralism'
Most of Zhivkov's loyal supporters have already been dismissed and the newly-formed Parliament moved quickly to repeal a repressive law against freedom of speech which had previously led to the imprisonment of thousands.
Today's protest, organised by dissident political groups, included many of the country's academics and literary personalities who had been banished under the Zhivkov regime.
Radoi Ralin, a once-imprisoned poet, said: "We want democracy and pluralism.
"We want freedom of people's opinion, freedom of people's speech, freedom of people's will.
But he also signalled a note of caution warning that the new leader may not be as good as his word: "For years we have been promised radical changes in our society, but it always turned out to be a carnival in which masks were changed but policy remained the same.
"That is why we should not be too enthusiastic about the latest changes. We have to see what the new leaders have to offer us soon."
Numerous similar demonstrations have taken place across Eastern Europe since the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union.
Bulgaria has been one of the countries most resistant to change. Just two weeks ago Mr Zhivkov issued a statement stressing that the Bulgarian Communist Party was still in total control.
But as the ideals of "perestroika" and glasnost" swept through countries including Poland, Eastern Germany and Hungary, Mr Zhivkov's grip on power became increasingly weakened.
“When I See You Smile” by Bad English continues at the top of the Hot 100 Chart for the second consecutive week