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Wednesday Roundup/Gamenight: Panthers @ Caps

[ Preview - Preview - Official Gameday Thread]

The Panthers come to town for a Southeast Shootout with the Caps and the Caps will somehow have to get through the game without the services of blueliner John Erskine, who was placed on waivers yesterday after failing to break the lineup in the first four games of the season. John, we hardly knew ye.

In the papers today, Dave Fay wonders why the increased allowable curve in skaters' sticks has actually decreased scoring, while Tarik El-Bashir previews tonight's intra-division tilt and also has a touching moment between a pair of brothers in the goaltender fraternity:
Winger Matt Bradley hit [goaltender Olie] Kolzig on the mask with a shot, prompting Hanlon to halt practice and issue a warning to the team about shooting high. "It wasn't a coaching moment, it was an ex-goalie moment," said [head coach Glen] Hanlon, a former NHL goaltender.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
  • Caps' prospect Nicklas Bäckström is currently leading the Elitserien in scoring with 5 goals and 17 points in 11 games. By way of an apples-to-oranges comparison, Peter Forsberg had 23 goals and 47 points in 39 Elitserien games when he was Nick's age.
  • The "New NHL" © Gary Bettman Enterprises, where it may be that no lead is safe, but scoring first sure does help your chances of moving up in the standings. After last night's games, the team that has scored the first goal has ended up with at least one point in 69 of 83 games - 83% - played so far this season. Interestingly, the Isles' two wins have come after giving up the first goal and the three times they scored first, they lost. Leave it to the Charlie Wang's crew to have everything back-assward.
  • More stats for you - wonder why Calgary can't score (well, ok, prior to last night)? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that heading into last night, they were dead last in the League in faceoff percentage. In fact, three of the five lowest-scoring (goals/game) teams (Boston, Ottawa and Calgary) were in the bottom five in faceoff percentage as well. Coincidence? Probably not.
  • Last Thursday I asked the rhetorical question, "Is it just me or is Radek Bonk just about the worst hockey player you've ever seen?" Last night, Bonk answered with a couple of goals. Radek - "rhetorical" means you don't answer the question. Duh.
  • There's a new Rink Poll at right about which Eastern Conference coach will be the first to get a pink slip. Go vote - it's your duty as a citizen.
Daily Awards
  • Hart: Maxim Afinogenov (G, 4A, +4 in 9-1 rout of Philly)
  • Ross: Maxim Afinogenov (5 points)
  • Norris: Sheldon Souray (2G, A, including points on game-tying and -winning goals, 5 SOG)
  • Vezina: Evgeni Nabokov (32-save shutout win)
  • Richard: Derek Roy, Tomas Vanek, Sheldon Souray, Radek Bonk (2G each)
  • Calder: Matt Carle (2A, +2 in 2-0 win)
  • Aiken: Robert Esche (L, 9 goals allowed on 30 shots against - maybe that'll teach him not to mouth off about the coach)