There are plenty of stories to drive discussion now that the first month of hockey season has come to a close. If you're not quite caught up, here's a cheat sheet of five major NHL stories from the week that was.
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We saw one of the season’s most emotional moments
It’s tough to make a declaration like that in the first month of the season, but that’s how heartwarming of a moment we’re dealing with here. Last Thursday, Senators goalie Craig Anderson took a leave of absence to be with his wife after she was diagnosed with cancer, but then returned to the team two days later (upon her request) after backup netminder Andrew Hammond went down with an injury.
In his first start after returning to the team, Anderson was a monster. He made 37 saves and shut out the Oilers — one of the league’s hottest teams, as weird as that is to say — in Edmonton. He earned first star of the game and got a standing ovation from the opposing crowd in attendance. Not something you usually see after a guy shuts out the home team in their own barn, but it was a great gesture and one that an emotional Anderson clearly appreciated.
Very awesome to see him and his family close out a tough week in such uplifting fashion.
The greatest thing to come out of Halloween in the NHL this year, however, was an amazing story of Jeremy Roenick pulling an unreal prank on two teammates back in 2008. The story was unearthed by La Presse in Montreal and revealed that Roenick, with the help of the TV show “Scare Tactics,” convinced Torrey Mitchell and Devin Setoguchi they were at a real-life, cannibalistic vampire party. Mitchell was scared so badly that he dove head-first through a window. It’s definitely worth a read.
The Kings are in disarray
To say that things have gone roughly for the Los Angeles Kings over the first month of the year would be a massive understatement. They lost their franchise goalie Jonathan Quick to injury in the opening period of the season, then their backup goalie got hurt, and things have pretty much gone off the rails in L.A.
The team hasn’t scored a goal in three (three? THREE!) consecutive games, marking the first time they’ve been shut out three times in a row since 1968-69. In addition, all four of their wins this year have come in either overtime or shootout. As coach Darryl Sutter so eloquently put it, “Not a recipe for success tonight when you don’t score and don’t get any saves.”
Yeah, they’ve got some serious issues to fix. Unfortunately, they don’t have much money to play with, with just a little over $1 million in free cap space ($6.7 with long-term injured reserve relief). Still, you can probably expect some shuffling to make room for help with their goalie situation, as Quick is expected to be out for around three months. Jaroslav Halak, who is unhappy in a crowded Islanders crease, could be a potential fit, though they’d have to work around his $4.5 million salary.
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Sidney Crosby is back — and he's still very good!
If you were worried about Sidney Crosby’s latest concussion — which he suffered in practice just before the start of the season — affecting his play out of the gate, well, those worries were quickly shut down after he returned to action last week.
Crosby scored four goals in his first three games of the season — all wins for the Penguins. He’s dealt with lingering effects of concussions in the past, so any subsequent head trauma is always concerning. However, Crosby’s hot start seems to indicate that he’s feeling fine, which — as one of the league’s most entertaining and elite players — is very great news for the game.
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The Barclays Center remains a mess
The Islanders moved to Brooklyn in order to call the Barclays Center home last season, but the transition still continues to be a total nightmare. The arena wasn’t built for hockey and that continues to present problems: Not only does there remain a large amount of obstructed view seating, but numerous players have brought up poor ice conditions (namely soft ice) early this season — including Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck, who called it “unplayable.”
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the league will send operation manager Dan Craig to investigate the arena’s playing surface and see if something can be done about it. Meanwhile, the team is struggling to sell tickets, as they rank dead last in the league for average attendance (12,328) and second-worst in sales percentage (78 percent).