As Michael Remis of Illegal Curve pointed out last night, the NHL has made a smart decision by not attempting to compete for ratings with the NFL on Sundays. The fact is, with the NFL being the biggest sporting entity in the United States, the NHL doesn’t need to go up against the league and fight for ratings. As well, with MLB playoffs underway, the NHL will already be hard pressed to get casual fans to pay attention to their product. I am firmly convinced that anymore than one game on Sundays is too many for the NHL. Even in Canada, where teams can get huge ratings on a Sunday night, the NHL would be better off leaving those games for the second half of the season when the NFL is into its offseason and the ratings possibilities are far greater. Think about it, there are 82 NHL games in a season and only 16 NFL games. Teams like the Cowboys/Giants play each other twice all season long. Whereas, the Rangers/Devils play each other 8 times in one season! If Joe Fan has to choose between the two, most right-minded people would favor the NFL. That is why the NHL is smart to avoid imposing such decision-making on even their most hardcore fan.
On to the morning papers:
- Reuniting Milan Hedjuk with Paul Stastny worked perfectly for the Avs last night as they handily defeated the Sharks 6-2. In order to get Jeff Finger into the lineup, coach Joel Quenville decided to make the NHL’s former ironman Karlis Skrastins a healthy scratch.
- Sharks’ coach Ron Wilson say that only one of his team’s lines played well last night and it wasn’t Joe Thornton’s. After getting down 6-1, Wilson took the opportunity to get the Sharks’ new backup goaltender Dimitri Patzold into some game action.
- The Devils’ defensemen are trying to adjust to the freedom that new coach Brent Sutter is implementing in the team’s new high-pressure system. A goal scorer in juniors and the minors, John Madden is looking to create more offense under coach Sutter’s new system.
- Larry Brooks of the NY Post is reporting that the Rangers will be without forward Sean Avery for at least a month with a shoulder separation. In his spot, it appears that Marcel Hossa will make his season debut Wednesday night.
- Chris Campoli is attempting to make Ted Nolan’s decision very difficult as to who will come out of the lineup if/when Bryan Berard is signed to a contract.
- Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun says there are three reasons why the Senators have played so well thus far in this young NHL season.
- Tim Panaccio of the Philadelphia Inquirer follows Brennan’s lead and lists three things that stand out while watching the Flyers through the season’s first three games. After their loss to the Oilers on Saturday night, the Flyers headed out to Whistler for some team building exercises; Ed Moran of the Inquirer has the story.
- Coach Wayne Gretzky is happy with the Coyotes’ work ethic writes Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic.
- As Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explains, the Penguins’ forward line combinations are ever-changing and Sidney Crosby is quite used it by now.
- Without the help they have been getting from their veteran teammates, the Blues’ youngsters may not be having the early season success they have enjoyed in the early going of the 2007/08 campaign.
- While the season is still awfully young, there is much to be excited about for the Lightning after an impressive 2-0 start to the season.
- Jason Blake is not worried that he hasn’t scored in the Leafs’ first three games writes Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star. In other Leafs’ news, coach Paul Maurice has been very impressed with the play of Ian White so far this season. Meanwhile, maybe Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina aren’t best friends as Kubina had thought…
- With a renewed commitment to defense, Alexander Ovechkin has earned coach Glen Hanlon’s trust and is no longer glued to the bench when the Caps are protecting a lead to end a game.
- After Shea Weber was injured by catching a rut in Nashville’s poor ice, his teammates are suggesting the need for a dehumidifier at the Sommet Center writes John Glennon of the Tennessean.
- Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette opines that the dynasties of the past are long gone in today’s NHL.
- Apparently coach Jacques Lemaire believes Eric Belanger can register 80 points this season.
- After sustaining the criticism that comes with arbitration, Michael Cammalleri has his eyes on the playoffs writes Lonnie White of the LA Times. (Registration required)
- The Panthers were scheduled for an off-day on Sunday, but after two lackluster performances to start the season, coach Jacques Martin cancelled the off-day and put the team through an intense practice.
- Robert Tychkowski explains the importance of a positive start for a young team like the Oilers in this morning’s Edmonton Sun. Meanwhile, the Oilers are hoping Andrew Cogliano can be their version of Paul Stastny writes Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal. (Writer’s note: Keep hoping Oil fans. These two players are not in the same class.)
- George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press tells us which teenager’s dad made him get a photo taken with Dominik Hasek after the Hawks/Wings game on Saturday night. Also from Wings’ camp, as Michael Remis of Illegal Curve reported last night, Johan Franzen will be lost to the team for 3-4 weeks with a knee sprain.
- With a season under his belt, Jeff Halpern feels more comfortable in Dallas and is hoping his increased comfort level leads to an increase in offensive output; Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News has the story.
- As Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch details, the Blue Jackets have been very happy with Nikolai Zherdev’s work ethic through the first two games of the season.
- The Hurricanes have three games in Canada this week and, according to Lorenzo Perez of the News Observer, should have a better read on whether they can avoid the early season slump they played through last season.
- The Flames have to develop more consistency to their game says coach Mike Keenan. Meanwhile, Flames’ backup netminder Curtis McElhinney is out of the lineup at least 1-2 weeks with a blown-out knee.
- After last season, Jaroslav Spacek told Lindy Ruff has was misused and was disappointed he didn’t play a bigger role. As a result, Ruff has put Spacek on the Sabres’ powerplay and the defenseman has thrived.
- Bruins’ GM Peter Chiarelli doesn’t think Marc Savard will play on Wednesday versus the Ducks. Look for Glen Metropolit to take Savard’s place on the number one line.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Richard Pollock.