Dustin Penner Scores Big!

Dustin Penner scores a big goal ina 7-2 win over Columbus after Craig MacTavish lite up on his latest performances.

“He’s not competitive enough — or fit enough to help us — so why put him back in?” said MacTavish, who made him a healthy scratch for the Oilers Monday night road game against the Detroit Red Wings.

“He’s never been fit enough to help us.” MacTavish gave no timeline in how long he will sit out Penner, who in 6 games has scored 4 points and a +6 rating.

Penner, who signed a five year 21.25 million dollar contract with Edmonton in August 2007, has, according to MacTavish, not played anywhere near his potential.

 “We signed him to be a top-two line player, and that’s kind of where it ended.” The difference was that we thought the contract was a starting point, and he’s viewed it as a finish line.” 


Originally a high draft choice in 2004 by the Anaheim Ducks, Penner enjoyed a solid rookie season in California, which saw him score 29 goals in 2006, while playing a solid two way game.

Looked upon as a future star power forward, the Oilers signed him to an offer sheet, and Penner was expected to continue with his rapid development in Edmonton. Last season he got off to a bit of a slow start, but still managed to put up a respectable 23 goals and 47 assists.

This year, however, the 26 year-old has found himself in MacTavish’s doghouse.

“It’s been one thing after another,” said the coach. “I can’t watch it — for certain not another two and a half years. What we’ve seen is inconsistency. We need him to be a better player.”

Coming into Detroit , the Oilers, who are 6-6-0 on the road this year have won two out of their last three games at Joe Louis Arena.


Glenn Anderson’s Wait is Over

Former six time Stanley Cup winner, Glenn Anderson, finally got that magical phone call this past summer, informing this 498 goal scorer that he has been elected into the ultimate shrine — The Hockey Hall Of Fame. Last week Anderson finally made it is own party in the Hall!

“Ever since I got the call on June 17, it’s something I’d like to soak in and remember forever,” said the Vancouver native, who was an important part of the Edmonton Oilers’ Stanley Cup dynasty in the 1980’s. “As you get closer to the day, you reflect on the history of how it transpired. How did I get where I am? Where did I come from? These are the questions you ask yourself.”

Anderson, who will be joining five of his Oilers teammates, Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr as honored members, admits that he still doesn’t know what to say in his induction speech on Monday night.

Without question, Anderson, who over his career scored 1099 points with the Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers and the St. Louis Blues, was the best fourth round pick in the history of the NHL.

Over his career, Anderson was known as a real clutch player, who always produced come playoff time. In 225 play-off games this winger, who was known for cutting to the net, scored 93 goals, which ranks fifth all time. He also registered 121 assists for a grand total of 214 play-off points, which place him fourth all time.

Individual number aside, the number one highlight for Anderson, in his stellar career, was being part of the five Stanley Cups won by the Oilers in their heyday.

“The draft pulled that team together, and the players revolved around Gretzky,” Anderson said. “When you’re playing with the best player in the world, you start doing things you never dreamed about doing.”

After a stint with the Leafs, Anderson was traded in March 1994 to the New York Rangers, where he won his sixth and final Stanley Cup ring.

Prior to his NHL career Anderson spent the 1979/80 campaign playing with Canada’s national team, which had its headquarters in Calgary . He also experienced the heartbreak of the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, when Canada lost to the Russians, who — of course — lost gold to the Americans.

On the international circuit Anderson participated in two Canada Cups and two world championships, and had a stint with two European clubs, before retiring in 1997.

“I know there’s a plaque,” he said about getting into the hall. “I hear there’s ghosts in the hall, and I imagine my picture looking right at Father Bauer or Glen Sather (when we’re) ghosts at some point in time, when we’re no longer here and the lights are out, and Slats saying, ‘It’s past curfew — you’d better go back to bed.’

Currently Anderson resides in New York, where he works with the New York Rangers in PR. He will be going in on Monday with former Russian and NHL star, Igor Larionov, former official, Ray Scapinello and builder, Ed Chynoweth.

Approximately three months from now Anderson will, once again, be having his career celebrated, as the Edmonton Oilers plan to retire his number 9 jersey prior to a match against the Phoenix Coyotes.

“This (going into the Hall of Fame) and the banner in Edmonotn are two different scenarios completely,” he said. “My tenure was mostly with the Oilers, but my hockey career was not just in the professional ranks in North America .


The Professor…Igor Larionov in the HHOF

Last week a true gentleman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Though Igor Larionov had a stellar NHL career, that included 3 Stanley Cup rings with the Detroit Red Wings, this forward nicknamed the ‘Professor’ will always be known for his dominating play on the international circuit.

Larionov, who didn’t start his NHL journey until the age of 29, first made a name for himself in 1979, when he dominated with 6 points, in pacing the Russians to a victory in the World Junior Championships.

During that same tournament there was a scrawny kid involved named Wayne Gretzky, who of course today is the all time leading NHL scorer, and knows a little about evaluating talent.

“Everyone knows that Igor was such a great player,” said Gretzky. “His passing and vision were spectacular and he was one of the brightest students of the game He was always learning, always helping and always teaching.”

Larionov was also instrumental in leading the Soviet Union past Canada in the 1981 Canada Cup. His best years in international hockey came with the famed Red Army team, where he dominated, with fellow line mates Sergei Makarov and Vladimir Krutov, on what was called at the time — ‘the greatest line in hockey history’.

In his prime, the Professor was known for engineering headlong offensive rushes at full speed, before hitting the breaks and making accurate passes to the trailing defenseman. 

It wasn’t until 1989 that NHL fans got to see him on a regular basis, as he kicked off what was a stellar 14- year career,that saw him register 169 goals, 475 assists and a plus 104.

In Vancouver he was a steady influence on a young, up and coming superstar,  Pavel Bure. He also played for the San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings, where he would go on to win three Stanley Cups, before moving to the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils, where he retired after the 2004 season.

“When I was growing up and playing hockey in the Soviet Union in the 1970’s and 1980’s, my goals were to win in the Russian league, play for the national team and win gold medals in different events around the world,” said Larionov.

 “My goal in joining the NHL was to win the Stanley Cup. That opportunity came on one of the greatest teams I’ve ever played for(Detroit  Redwings). To me that is the highlight of my career.”

Today Larionov resides in Southern California with his three children, who are all trying to make it into the movie/music business.

“It’s a tough business, and not very easy,” said Larionov, who had his best NHL season in 1996, in scoring 73 points and an impressive +37.

“They are trying to find their way, like everybody else in L.A They’re doing some music and some acting. It’s not like hockey, where people can see if you can play or not.”

After Monday’s induction, Larionov will officially be the fourth player from that powerful 1980’s Red Army club to have a plaque hanging in the Hockey Hall Of Fame. He will join legendary goaltender, Vladislav Tretiak, Viacheslav Fetisov, and defenseman Alexei Kasatonov.

“It’s a big honor to be included in the Hockey Hall of Fame with the greatest people who played or contributed to this game. I’m looking forward to the experience.”

Hannover Scorpions Number One in DEL

The Hannover Scorpions are playing fantastic hockey and sit first overall in the German First League. Not only are they being well coached by Hans Zach and Christian Kuenast, they are guided by a very intelligent hockey manager, Marco Stichnoth. Marco is the brains behind this team and Mr. Papenburg has given Marco the the support and the responsibility to build a successful franchise and he is certainly doing that. I know it is still early but this Scorpion team is playing very inspired hockey. Many experts picked them to just squeak into the playoffs this season but if you watch this team play now, you see they have a chance to go far. They are lead by Sacha Goc on defence and he has tallied 8 times this season so far. The top scorer, Thomas Dolak is in 38th spot in the league with 16 points, so it shows that they are playing as a team and not individuals. Players who have shined so far are Tore Vikingstad, Andy Reiss, Adam Mitchell, Chris Herperger and Aris Brimanis. With 6 wins in a row this team believes in themselves and even though there is a lot of hockey to go, they are in a great position. If they remain focused and do the little things they are doing now to win, the German Championship is a possibilty. Congratulations so far Marco, Hans, Christian, the team and the Hannover Scorpion Fans!!!! Do not think any farther than this weekend and let us fans and press dream of the cup, Gouche on the Edge

Trouble in Tampa Bay, Melrose was Wrong Decision?

Heading into October one of the biggest curiosities among hockey experts were the re-tooled Tampa Bay Lightning.

After finishing 15th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 44-33-5, the Lightning made a series of changes over the summer including bringing in a new ownership group. This new group, led by former NHLer Len Barrie and Oren Koules proceeded to hire a new coach in Barry Melrose while also bringing in approximately 11 new players. Coming to Tampa Bay in the off- season were defenseman Andrej Meszaros, Matt Carle and Lukas Krajicek. Up front new additions include Mark Recchi, Steve Stamkos, Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Adam Hall, Radim Vrbata and Matt Pettinger.

The final key addition was veteran goalie Olaf Kolzig who was brought in to help tutor youngster Mike Smith.

A huge question was whether or not this team would have chemistry and how long it would take before they started to blend together.

Another huge concern is the blue line where they will sorely miss their former number one defenseman Sean Boyle who left during the summer for the San Jose Sharks.

Currently their leading blue liner is Meszaros who as of mid November has only 4 points.

Some are also wondering if the Lightning are putting to much pressure on their 18 year old prized 2008 first round selection Stamkos. After dominating in junior, this forward who has only 4 points was being projected all summer long as someone who could break in and have an immediate impact.

Also was Barry Melrose a correct choice to take over as the Lightning coach? This is someone who hasnʼt coached in the past 10 years so the jury will be out on this former ESPN broadcaster.

The strength of Tampa Bay continues to be their familiar scoring punch of Vincent Lecavalier and linemate Martin St. Louis. They are both tied for the team lead in points with 11 and are among the team leaders in ice time.

Meanwhile for the first time in quite a few years the Bolts are getting some quality goaltending. Leading the way is 26 year old Mike Smith who has a save percentage of 929 and a goals against of 2.47 in 11 games.

Despite all the spending ownership did in the off- season, they still have 1.8 million to spare in cap space come the March trade deadline.


Another Head Shot

Ottawa Senators energy forward Jarkko Ruutu became the second player within three days to get suspended for delivering a head shot during the heat of action. Ruutu got his name in the news after getting his elbow a little to high Tuesday night against Maxim Lapierre of the Montreal Canadiens.

Ironically enough, prior to this third period incident various debates were being heard around the NHL about the growing concern of head -shots and what the punishment should be. These debates were sparked after an ugly incident on Saturday night where Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Van Ryn suffered a broken nose, concussion, broken teeth and a broken hand after being slammed head first from behind by the Canadiens Tom Kostopoulos.

Unlike Kostopoulos who got three games, Ruutu who is in his first season with Ottawa received a two game suspenstion with no pay, which didn’t go over to well with Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau.

“I think it was a deliberate head shot,” said Carbonneau about what was an elbow to the head. “We all know what kind of player (Ruutu) is, so I’ll leave it at that.”

“I don’t know if the number of games should be influenced” (by a player’s reputation). “But I definitely think if it’s the kind of player where these things happen a lot, it should definitely enter into the equation.”

Not surprisingly enough the Senators camp didn’t share the same view of the incident being intentional. General manager Bryan Murray believed that because Ruutu has never been in trouble with the league that no suspension should have been given.

“(We’re) disappointed that it is two games, but obviously the NHL have set a very high standard for a hit like this, that I felt deflected off the shoulder to the head,” said Murray after the penalty was announced on Wednesday.  ‘Especially for a player with no history of even being called in front of the league.” “But we do have to abide by what is called.”

Ruutu, who was given a two-minute charging penalty, did appear to go for Lapierre’s head.

“Like I said, I had no intention to do it, but accidents will happen and I’ll have to deal with the consequences,” Ruutu said.

Montreal vs. Boston

The Montreal Canadiens will be looking on Thursday night to take sole procession of first place in the ultra competitive Northeast Division when they visit the TD Bankworth Garden for a game against the Boston Bruins.

Coming off a 4-0 win against the Ottawa Senators, Montreal currently trails the Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres by only one point for the division lead.

Going back in history the Canadiens have had the Bruins number as they have incredibly won 19 of their past 22 games including a streak of 12 in a row.

It wonʼt be easy for Montreal as the Bruins have gotten off to a solid start led by their number one goalie Tim Thomas who has been opening eyes around the NHL with his league leading 1.76 GAA. That being said itʼs not a guarantee that Thomas who also has a solid 946 save percentage will be playing back- to- back games. Look for backup Manny Fernandez to get the start.

Meanwhile the Canadiens come into town after playing what they have called their most complete game of the year in their victory against the Senators.

Holding the hot hand will be forward Christopher Higgins who in Ottawa scored his first career hat trick. In net will be their prized youngster Carey Price who stopped all 28 shots in recording his fourth career shutout in that Ottawa game.

On the road this season Montreal has a 4-1-2 record.