Penalty shots finding Leafs

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:34 PM ET

There have been 12 penalty shots issued through the first 163 NHL games, compared to 55 all of last season. Two have come against the Leafs in consecutive games for the first time since 1975. But NHL vice-president of hockey operations Mike Murphy said referees aren’t being told to call more around the league in an attempt to tighten the rules on hindering breakaways or boost scoring.

“Awarding a penalty shot is a very subjective, judgmental call by each individual referee,” Murphy said. “Both the calls against the Leafs were, in my opinion, good calls.”

Toronto players and staff didn’t put up much of a fight on either ruling. The goals by Ryan Callahan of the Rangers and Ottawa’s Mike Fisher, both on Jean-Sebastien Giguere, were the first in two straight games since Dennis Hextall of the North Stars and Nelson Pyatt of the Capitals beat Leafs goalie Gord McRae on March 8-9, 1975.

SHOW’S OVER

The Leafs have no current plans to show their games in movie theatres in Southern Ontario, an experiment that began four years ago this week and lasted through the 2006-07 season. The Leafs and Cineplex partnership had some merit until high definition televisions became more affordable and the popularity of 3D increased. But MLSEL officials aren’t ruling out a future deal with Cineplex.

NO. 44, MEET NO. 8

If Barack Obama wants to walk with the winners again, he just might take the Capitals up on an offer to see Alex Ovechkin play in his backyard.

With his approval ratings down and his party savaged Tuesday in mid-term elections, the U.S. president always can fall back on the age-old practice of hob-nobbing with popular local sports heroes in hopes the magic rubs off. For Obama, there is not much point in seeing the 4-4 Redskins or the perennially weak NBA Washington Wizards. The baseball Nationals haven’t won since leaving Montreal.

But the Capitals? They not only have the NHL’s MVP with Ovechkin, but Obama probably would be interested in seeing their President’s Trophy, not to mention a possible Stanley Cup showing next spring.

The November issue of GQ has a feature story on Ovechkin and says the excitement he has brought to D.C. has influenced Obama to promise Caps owner Ted Leonsis he will come to a game this season. Ovechkin’s mug can’t be missed around town, where sports network CSN Washington has a feature called Eight Days Of Ovechkin and his day-to-day life around down is chronicled in a blog.

They still are chuckling about his speech at a ceremony when he received the Key to the City: “Today is a big day. I have a key for the city. And I’m the president this day, so everybody have fun — and no speed limit.”

But will Obama get to see that famous toothy grin up close?

“We don’t have any update on when President Obama might attend a game,” said Nate Ewell, vice-president of communications for the Caps, “but he has a standing invitation and we look forward to seeing him at Verizon Center.”


Photos