Entries Tagged 'Uncategorized' ↓
May 17th, 2013 — Uncategorized
The Bruins and Rangers played a game that was a study in two teams with very similar styles and a lot of respect for the other teams ability. The Rangers limped into the playoffs just ahead of The Islanders and the teams that didn’t make the cut. The Bruins coughed up a hairball and fell out first place. The Bruins are missing their second best defenseman in Seidenberg, and the Rangers are missing Marc “Hit Me In The Head” Staal.
We know the Bruins young lions belong in the NHL, Hamilton, Bartkowski and Krug all filled their roster spots at least adequately.
We know Torts has to be thinking of banishing”Broadway Brad” to the pressbox who played less than 10 minutes through regulation.
We know Marchand is feeling more like himself.
We know Dan Girardi is still the most underrated defenseman in the eastern conference.
We know Tyler Seguin’s shooting and passing ablities are still on sabbatical, not having been seen or heard from in weeks.
We know Rick Nash is very, very confused about what is supposed to happen for “elite” players in the post season.
With nearly 39 dominant minutes played in game one we know Chara probably won’t be retiring anytime soon.
We know it is unlikely we’ll see Lunqvist fight the puck as much the rest of the series as he did in Game 1.
We know Adam Mcquaid’s head still has a powerful and unnatural attraction to the Garden endboards.
We know the officiating was equally awful through the game.
We know the Bruins are not as committed to blocking shots as the Rangers.
We know the Rangers are not as fast as a group as the Bruins.
We know that Patrice Bergeron is the best center on the ice.
We know that Brian Boyle is the only Rangers center to have an even or winning faceoff record against Bergeron in game one.
We know game one might prove to be the highest scoring game of the series.
May 14th, 2013 — Uncategorized
The NHL playoffs always seem to feature some players who have good even great performances and still lose. This year is no different. Who the unfortunate losers are this year is a bit different. Many are either playing in the post season for the first time, or playing with a new team since the last time they saw the second round.
Vladimir Sobotka was a certified force for the dearly departed St Louis Blues. He tied for the team lead in points, he leads the entire western conference in hits, went 55.8% in the faceoff circle, and despite being on the losing team was a +4.
Travis Hamonic had a job that no NHL defenseman looks forward to without serious concerns about how best to accomplish it; facing down Sidney Crosby. When that NHL defenseman has to take on Sidney Crosby in their very first taste of professional playoff hockey, and their first taste of playoff hockey since the 2009-10 Memorial Cup tournament, they’ve got a big job. Hamonic kept Crosby from scoring a goal in three of the five games he played in and helped leave Crosby a minus player while averaging 25 minutes a night.
P.K. Subban, love him, hate him, you damn sure should respect him. The first time Norris Trophy finalist is one of those players who draws the eye and even those new to hockey notice his play instantly. He played over five minutes of special team time per game, had two each of goals and assists, along the way. No matter how dismally his depleted squad played he didn’t give up.
Cody Franson, smooth skater, great passer and went into game seven against the Bruins ready, willing an able to kickstart a team that was in its first playoff round in a decade. He waltzed onto the ice and scored two goals in that game, and finished the playoffs with six points,. The 6’5 defender was part of a trade of some very forgettable pieces back in 2011, and will likely be the only player in that trade anyone an name in two years.
Emerson Etem, you have to wonder how the series would have ended if Etem and the rest of the young guns were allowed even another two minutes a night. Etem was a +4, had three goals, two assists and did it all in just 12:50 a night.
May 7th, 2013 — Uncategorized
Kevin Bieksa has been around a long time. Eight NHL seasons, a lockout year lost, and six seasons playing in the NHL playoffs. He’s earned some respect. Let’s face it, the NHL officiating being awful in about 60% of games is the one thing you can get fans from all 30 NHL franchises to agree on. Individual calls are a bit harder to nail down, because therein lies the difference between the hometown devil and the foreign evil, but hell even the NHL can’t get that straight. We all know about the “Avery interpretation”. We’ve seen suspensions for clipping calls when the contact was to the hip, and we’ve seen hulking defensemen slam their opponents heads into the glass and get off scottfree.
So when he calls out two players in particular and doesn’t paint the enire locker room with the same brush, it should give you pause. Joe Thornton is big dude. He’s strong, he’s tougher than he’s given credit for, and yet his glove seemed to go down faster than a drink in Patrick Kanes hand as he shook it off to get a referees attention the other night. Logan Couture too is capable of soaking up big hits and playing on. And of all the things the Sedin’s are not, strong and physical lead the list. A stick that scrapes his chin should not to my admittedly limited knowledge of anatomy cause what looks like either a spinal spasm or what looks like the result of shock therapy and a collapse to the ice.
Further, Bieksa plays with some of the guys in the NHL who’s reputations for playing the game the right way are bullet proof. There just isn’t a player in the league who owns a reputation for integrity with more bite than Alexandre Burrows. Ryan Kesler too is someone who could fall on his sword and his integrity would protect him from any injury that last longer than it took for the referee to look away. Max Lappierre of course spent long enough in that university of fair, morally (and physically) upright play in Montreal to earn a PhD in playing the game the right way.
May 1st, 2013 — Uncategorized
Welcome to the Second Season, unlike most years, the second season for the best teams will run nearly half the length of the regular season.
#1 vs. #8
The Pittsburgh Penguins marched determinedly through the regular season, attempting to keep pace with the western powers. Malkin, Crosby, Letang and other key players all missed games due to injury. Crosby is out least for game one, and Jarome Iginla will be playing in the post season for the first time in almost half a decade.
The Islanders haven’t seen the post season in so long you have to wonder how many members of the staff at Nassau had vaction plans this week and next. Sixteen players will be making their playoff debut, including nearly all of their key forwards, and several of their battered blueliners. From the blueline, only three gentlemen appeared in all 48 games this season; Mark Streit age 35, Andrew MacDonald, and 22 year old Travis Hamonic who’s in his third season for the Islanders.
Players to watch:
With Crosby out, the cameras may actually grace other Penguins, Neal is a human highlight reel, Brandon Sutter is finally making himself comfortable in the NHL, and Chris Kunitz quietly led the team in goals in the regular season.
For the Islanders if you aren’t already a member of the United Temple of Taveres; get familiar. The 2009 #1 overall has outpaced his class across the board, he’s got 20 more goals than the second place goal scorer from his class, and almost three times as many as 4th place. On the backend Vishnovsky and Streit are more than capable of being momemtum changers in any zone.
The Penguins should win this series. But that depends on Marc Andre Fleury turning in a useful playoff performence. In the last three years his sv% has been awful, despite reasonable regular season numbers, .834, .899, .891 are useful but only for making sure your team gets plenty of sun. The Islanders have a chance if Nabokov can out duel The Flower.
#2 vs. #7
The Montreal Canadiens had a wretched season last year, and reaped the draft rewards, American rookie Alex Galchenyuk made an instant impact, Vancouver Giants alumni Brendan Gallagher did as well. They’ve had a small downturn since Alexi Emelin injured himself, but they still held on to win the last Northeast division title.
The Ottawa Senators are probably glad they don’t have to make room on the plane for medical records. Overcoming injuries have defined this team this season. Jason Spezza is still out, Erik Karlsson is just back, and the list of who didn’t play all or most games is much longer than the list of those who did.
Players to watch:
P.K. Subban is the most electrifying player in this series, and possibly on all of the Canadian teams, Lars Eller has shown a willingness to get his nose dirty, and Michael Ryder still has one of the fastest releases in the NHL.
For the Senators, Alfredsson isn’t a player you should ever take your eyes off of, Kyle Turris led the team in goals and points, and Gonchar is still a consistent threat.
Offensively the difference between these teams is night and day, the Canadiens had the fifth best offense in the regular season, and the Senators the fourth worst. On the other hand the Senators finished second in goals against, while the Canadiens were a pedestrian 14th. Craig Anderson has better post season numbers, and should be able to snatch a game or two, but the Habs should win it.
#3 vs. #6
When it comes to winning the Southeast Division, the Washington Capitals have had that locked down for most of its existance, it seems only fitting they should finish its last season on top. Unfortunately, that’s all they seem to be able to win. Maybe this year with a rejuvinated Ovechkin, a mature Carlson and Alzner, and most miraculously a healthy Green they can turn in a good performence.
Last year the New York Rangers went to the Eastern Conference finals, and but for the skill of Adam Henrique, might have gone further. Some might consider it a problem when their 12th best paid forward leads the team in scoring, especially when that player makes roughly 10% of their highest paid forward, for the Rangers, that’s just the way things are.
Players to watch:
The Caps bost a potent offense, and a bit more grit than they are given credit for, Troy Brouwer was second in goals this season, Chimera had a big season last year, and Backstrom has finally started to round back into All Star form.
While Stepan led the Rangers in scoring, Richards, Nash and Callahan have got to be due for an offensive explosion at some point, right?
#4 vs. #5
The Boston Bruins had a heap of distractions towards the end of the season with bombings, blizzards and forever long pregame ceremonies, which might excuse their poor play if it hadn’t been a season long occurance. The positives for the Bruins are that they are pretty healthy physically. The negative is that no one knows where their collective head is.
The Maple Leafs are making their return to the playoffs. Lots of this team hasn’t played in the playoffs at all, and some who have aren’t all that good in the second season. Lupul and Van Riemsdyk have the most playoff experience, Kessel is a point per game player in the playoffs, but he’ll have to get over his ineffectiveness against Chara and Boston in a hurry to keep that going.
Players to watch:
For the Bruins, everyone is waiting on Soderberg to make his impact felt, but he may well sit, watch Bergeron per usual, and see if Ference and Lucic can keep up their snarl.
The Maple Leafs have woefully underused Grabovski this season, and he might just be the key to winning this series, Kadri and Gunnarsson should also be in your crosshairs.
The Bruins played poorly down the stretch, but the Leafs are new as a team to the playoffs, and have a bug in their heads about the Bruins. Expect a lot of physical play and for the team that wants it more to win.
April 30th, 2013 — Uncategorized
#1 Vs #8
The Chicago Blackhawks seemingly have everything going this season. They have two goalies putting up top flight numbers. they have an upgraded defense that has allowed Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook to reclaim the form that helped the team win the Cup a few years back. Better still, they have arguably the best forward group in the NHL; Toews, Kane, Hossa, Saad and Sharp.
The Minnesota Wild are that new kid in playoff town no one knows quite what to make of. On paper the Wild have every tool they need to be dangerous, and even contend. In reality, they lack playoff experience, especially with Pominville and Heatley on the shelf. Add that to five of six blueliners who have never seen the NHL playoffs, and you have a recipe for a dicey playoff series.
Players to watch:
For the Wild, don’t be surprised if rookie Charlie Coyle comes up big in spots, Setogouchi is a threat, and Mikko Koivu is never to be underestimated.
On the other side of the puck for the Blackhawks, Kane, Hossa and Toews can all take over games individually.
Chicago, it isn’t purely the quality that they lead in, it is the playoff experience, particularly on the blueline that will decide this series.
#2 vs. #7
Anaheim Ducks have almost no pressure this year. Sidney Crosby and the Penguins are drawing an inexplicable amount of attention, and Chicago was start to finish the best team in the NHL. The Ducks simply have to get on the ice and execute. They have savvy older veterans in Koivu and Selanne. They have high quality younger veterans still in their prime in Ryan, Getzlaf, and Perry. They also have a surprisingly strong backend in net and on the blueline. They don’t have any dominant or elite players there, but they do have several really good ones.
The Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs again keeping their two decade long streak intact. They have Jimmy Howard who again very quietly put up impressive numbers, they have Datsyuk, and Zetterberg. These are not your Dad’s Red Wing’s though, they just don’t have even one elite talent on their blueline, much less two or three as they have had in years past.
Players to watch:
If the Wings don’t have Howard playing top notch goaltending, they don’t have anything, For them to win, guys like Tootoo, Smith, and other role players will have to elevate their game.
The Ducks need to have their defense continue to smother their opponents, and have at least one of their goaltenders show up and never take their eyes off of Zetterberg and Datsyuk.
Wings can’t win this if the Ducks show up and execute. It’s just that simple.
#3 vs. #6
Vancouver Canucks, it is put up or shutup time in Vancouver. They drama in their net has covered up the fact that this isn’t as good a team as it was in years past. They only won their division by four points, by comparison the Washington Capitals won by 6, and of the six division winners this is the team that scored the least this season. The Sedin twins combined for less goals than Jiri Tlusty. They put up the mediocre season numbers with three of the bottom four teams in their conference playing in their division.
San Jose Sharks are also at the point where if they don’t win the Cup it is tie to break up the band. Marleau, Boyle, and Thornton don’t have many more years left in them and behind them there isn’t much to write home about. What gives this squad a bit of believability is that Niemi, who was part of the Chicago cup run, has turned in the best regular season of his career and played in 43 of the teams 48 games.
Players to watch:
Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa are two guys you should never ever count out, for the Canucks to do well, these two will likely be the biggest impact players.
Joe Thornton appears to have learned how to play big in the playoffs, and Raffi Torres (when he plays clean) is a surprisingly good playoff player.
This series is almost a push, but I give the edge to San Jose, Thornton, Marleau, Couture are are better right now than any three forwards you can name for the Sharks, and with Schneider’s injury and the general chaos in British Columbia I don’t like the Canucks chances.
#4 vs. #5
The Saint Louis Blues boast some damn fine players no one talks about because the team is too far south. David Backes is a game changer, Pietrangelo is one of the best defensemen in the game, and Chris Stewart turned in more points in 48 games this year than he did in 79 last year. Goaltending is clearly this teams weakness, but with Oshie coming back the team gains immediately in two way play.
The reigning champions the Los Angeles Kings have to get scoring from more people than just Jeff Carter and Dustin Brown, if for no other reason than Jonathan Quick is not as good this year as last. They’ve gotten a slight refresh adding Regehr and injecting Muzzin into the lineup, but the roster is really almost identical. You have to question the teams hunger a little.
Players to watch:
Drew Doughty emerged as an elite two way defenseman during last year playoffs establishing his bona fides in his own end in addition to the offensive ability he’s always displayed, he and Mike Richards who is frequently overlooked on this team will be crucial to this team going anywhere.
For the Blues, Vladimir Sobotka just finds an extra gear in the playoffs and he can tilt the ice, but he won’t be enough, Bouwmeester, Oshie, and Perron will have to show up and put in work.
This is a push, the Blues I think have the edge in hunger, the Kings have the edge in knowing how to win in the post season.
Total Wins by eliminated teams this round; 9
April 19th, 2013 — Uncategorized
This is probably the most asked, least answered question in Boston sports. The answer is complex, and involves more than a few moving pieces.
The Bruins have certainly had less than average amounts of injuries, and unfortunately the two most prominent injuries have been to their top scorer, and their most important skater. Brad Marchand’s speed, ability to agitate, and his zero delay shot release are game changing. He is at this point one of the two or three best forwards in the division. Patrice Bergeron is the teams most important player. Not only is he the most skilled faceoff man in the NHL, he’s stunningly reliable, the number of non injury bad games he’s had in his career can be counted without exhausting one’s fingers, possibly without reaching a second hand. When both are out, the team is missing speed, scoring, puck control, leadership, and winning attitude. Chris Kelly’s loss was crucial to the galloping inefficiency and creeping malaise, but that’s is something that has its real impact in the next section.
When the Bruins won the Cup, they rolled four solid line, and had a defensive unit they could rely on. They were very much a Top 9 team with a fourth line capable of contributing at a level that many teams struggled to get their third line to impact the game at. This year they are very, very much a Top 6 – Bottom 6 team, and they have a similar issue with their bottom six to the year after Chicago won their Cup. Some pieces that are the same, but not having career years all at once, and some players who are either playing way under their expected level or who were out for an extended period.
When Chris Kelly went down, the already anemic third line flatlined. Chris Bourque, Jay Pandolfo, Jordan Caron, Ryan Spooner, Kaspars Daugavins, and Jamie Tardiff all trooped in and out of the line. Part of the problem is that when Peverley slid over to center he started trying to do too much in a year where he was already struggling. Part of it the problem is that the most promising players weren’t given legitimate opportunities. And part of the problem is just how many moving parts have been involved, especially as the lines were frequently shuffled trying to get players like Sequin, Lucic, Horton, and Krejci going as well.
Defensively, the team rushed Dougie Hamilton to the NHL before he was ready, this is a management failure, but speaks to a dearth of passable defenseman available in the off season. Hamilton certainly hasn’t been a disaster, but he’s experienced the peaks and valley’s of a rookie, and despite his size has been overpowered and beaten one on one for pucks. The question of if this would have been less serious in full season with more games and travel versus the current high compression is unanswerable, but either way another year of physical growth would have ameliorated some of the valleys in his play and freed up other defensemen from keeping an eye on him in addition to playing their own game. With McQuaid’s injury, Aaron Johnson was pulled into the lineup. While he’s possibly more skilled and a better puck handler than Mcquaid, he doesn’t have the raw aggression of McQuaid, and that means opposing players don’t slow up and look for support going to his corner.
When your top paid forward, David Krejci, has the same number of goals as a guy getting six minutes less of even strength time on ice a night and plays most games on the fourth line you have a genuine problem. There’s no doubt you have an issue. Nine goals isn’t a bad total for the season thus far but either of them is in the top four on the team.
Milan Lucic has gotten the most attention for scoring decline, and deserves it. He doesn’t look like himself most nights. But this dip in his scoring isn’t nearly alarming as Johnny Boychuk year over year decline since he spent his first full season in the NHL. In thirty nine games he has one more point than Shawn Thornton who has played less than half as many minutes. Part of the issue is that he’s just not shooting the puck much, Boychuck has just 64 shots to date, Thornton in the same number of games, and significantly less shifts has 46.
And yes, the powerplay is unenviable at just under 15%, but they haven’t been good at that in years.
Claude Julien has earned the right to a very, very long leash in his coaching tenure. But his fetish or veterans over rookies or young players is again strangling the teams creativity, and energy. Jay Pandalfo’s heart and professionalism are unquestionable. The rest of his body is not really fit for NHL action any more; and yet 18 times he has gotten the call to play over a younger, fitter, more skilled player who likely figures into the teams long term future. In those 18 games he is scoreless, based on his career total of 226 points in 899 NHL games, the expectations certainly were not high. Ryan Spooner, Jordan Caron, or Jamie Tardiff could just as easily have filled those games, and likely out performed him, Spooner and Tardiff were having very respectable years in the AHL at the time of their recall. For that matter when Chris Bourque was sent down his 19 game stint produced points, just four of them, but combined with his speed there was at least a going concern each shift for opposing defense to deal with.
And even on the veteran front, just as Corvo and Wideman and Ryder deserved to be scratched in favor of other players in the past, so too have several players this season. For all that he’s slowly starting to rebound in his own end, Ference could have used a breather, Boychuck likewise, and with so many healthy bodies circling the ice and the cap space the entire Krejci, Lucic, Horton line could and probably should have been sent to the pressbox more than once this season as there were more than a few nights all three were on the ice but not in the game.
One of the biggest issues with this team is complacency. This starts at the top. Players who know training camp is jut a formality and they can go on with the drudgery of the regular season don’t star the season in right state o mind. It isn’t just about having nothing to win with a good effort in training camp, and the off season leading to it, it is that the having nothing to lose in either time period.
This goes way beyond just this season. Part of it is a drafting tendency. The team has too many nice guys, and maybe two intermittent fire eaters. Regardless of what you think about his politics, you only had to watch one period of Tim Thomas playing to know he was one thousand percent in the game. It didn’t matter if it was policing his own crease, smashing his stick on a shot even he had no chance on, or skating out to check an opponent taking liberties with one of his team mates, he was all in from warmup until the game was in the books.
Who can you look at on the team and say that about? Which of the prospects likely to hit the roster in the next year or two does that describe? Does that describe Redden or Jagr? The same answer applies to all those questions; No and no one. This has been true for years, the last palyer to say anything not in the mold of generic athlete mutterings, or whatever the front office was saying was Steve Kampfer, and he was deported about as fast as the Brain Trust could find a dance partner.
Where’s this teams Wayne Simmonds or David Backes? Apparently the front office is either blind to that need of the teams, or doesn’t want it.
April 17th, 2013 — Uncategorized
This is a feature that will run about every two weeks with improbable stats and situations in the National Hockey League.
- on April 17th the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets would have a better chance of making the playoffs than last years eastern conference champions the New Jersey Devils.
- the Los Angeles Kings would have a better offense than the Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, or Philadelphia Flyers.
- only three of the top five powerplays would belong to playoff teams while five of five penalty kills would belong to playoff teams.
- the Montreal Canadiens, and the Ottawa Senators would have more penalties per game than the Anaheim Ducks.
- only two of the bottom five faceoff teams would be in playoff position, while all of the top five faceoff teams would be in.
- zero of last years eastern conference division winners, The Panthers, The Rangers, and the Bruins would be in that position today.
- zero of last years bottom five years teams would be there right now.
- despite missing games with a concussion, Brad Marchand would still be tied for a top 20 position in goal scoring.
- Alex Ovechkin would not only be the only player in double digits in powerplay goals, but also have a six goal cushion on those tied for second.
- half of Adam Henrique’s ten goals would come on special teams, two short handed, and three on the powerplay.
- the league leader in short handed assists would have three, and be Lee Stempniak.
- the only defenseman in the NHL with more than one short handed assist would be, Jay Bouwmeester.
- heading into the last handful of games of the season, Daniel Alfredsson would have almost twice the PIMS of Raffi Torres.
- seven of the top ten defensemen in assists would be left handed shots, Mark Streit, Duncan Keith, Niklas Kronwall, Alex Goligoski, Sergei Gonchar, Kimmo Timonen, Ryan Suter, but two of the top three would be right handed, Kris Letang and P.K. Subban.
- Sergei Bobrovsky would be the only goaltender in the top five for sv% and the top five for shootout wins.
- the top ten goalies by save percentage would combine for a cap hit o $23,875,000 with over a quarter of it belonging to Henrik Lundqvist, who’s team has the lowest point total.
April 11th, 2013 — Uncategorized
Q: Will the New York Islanders hold onto a playoff spot?
A: Yes, the Atlantic division is highly dysfunctional, and the ISlanders are both better than many people think, and many people think, and better at being dysfunctional.
Q: Will he San Jose Sharks escape the first round?
A: Maybe, I can’t see the Kings falling to San Jose, however if Vancouver holds on to the 3rds seed in the west, I think they have a better shot.
Q: Which two current division leaders are the most vulnerable to a first round upset?
A: Easily Vancouver and Washington. The Canucks haven’t had an identity since the end of the Stanley Cup finals and you can’t win if you don’t know who you are. Adam Oates hasn’t fully crafted his vision of the Washington Capitals team, and their goaltending has been so-so.
Q: What team entering the playoffs in the bottom half of the bracket is most dangerous?
A: The Senators. This isn’t even close, both St Louis and Minnesota can bloody someones nose, but Senators are used to punching out of their weight class and simply can’t be intimidated. On top of the Senators are playing in the toughest division in the NHL this season.
Q: Which General Manager’s off season moves likely saved their job?
A: Chuck Fletcher, his Wild were in a bad, bad place for several years, and while trades for Heatley, Coyle, and others in the past two season were good, signing both Ryan Suter and Zach Parise slotted so many players into the right slot for their capabilities.
Q: Which general manager did a better job selling off assets, Darcy Regier or Jay Feaster?
A: Darcy Regier, handily. He may not be able to build a winning team, but he easily got more for Jason Pominville than Feaster got for Iginla and Bouwmeester combined.
Q: Who is the most intriguing goaltender going into the off season and free agency?
A: Mike Smith. At 31 he’s shown what he’s capable of, and a look at his numbers shows he plays his best when he plays the most, he might get a really good offer this of season. He might not get $5-6 million, but don’t be surprised when he pulls down $3.5million or more.
Q: Are the Devils better off making the playoffs or tanking the rest of the season?
A: Financially and short term they should push for the post season. For hockey long term, especially as the post-Brodeur era approaches the better picks the Devil’s can make, the better the team will be over the next five to seven years
Q: Who’s your MVP shortlist?
A: Nazim Kadri for being the fulcrum that is pushing the Toronto Maple Leafs into the playoffs for the first time in a long time. Ryan Suter for very quietly pushing the Wild into the playoffs for the first time in a long time while breaking in a talented rookie partner. Sergei Bobrovsky for making redemption real in his second NHL stop.
Q: Will the buyout talks around Ilya Bryzgalov stop before July 1?
A: Probably not. There are three ways I see them ending; 1) Bryzgalov announces his retirement. 2: Bryzgalov goes on an incredible run to end the season. 3: Flyers ownership or upper management comes and definitively states one way or the other if they will buy him out.
Q: Who is your pick for the Jack Adams Award?
A: No brainer: Paul MacLean. Not only has he lost high end players and Erik Karlsson to frequent injuries, he’s managed to stay firmly in playoff position throughout. It’d be a fist class disgrace if anyone else goes home with it.
Q: What will you think of any team that drafts first and fails to select Seth Jones?
A: Unless he shows up at the draft weighing two hundred and sixty pounds with a crackpipe in his mouth, and an underage hooker on his arm there’s just no reason to pass on him, and the team needs to fire the entire front office.
Q: Which team should be blown up this off season, the San Jose Sharks or the Detroit Red Wings?
A: Both, the teams are both old and mediocre, but some of the parts are valuable to teams trying to build a contender into a champion.
Q: What’s the most exciting thing to watch from now until the playoffs start?
A: Other than who makes it into the 7 and 8th slot in each conference, the race for the Norris will be won and lost in the next two and a half weeks.
Q: Ok, why is the Norris race so fascinating?
A: Because there’s no clearcut winner this year. Chara is the only name getting any attention who has won before, Karlsson and Letang both had their hopes dive like, well like they do, when they were injured. Suter, Ekman-Larsson, Subban, Beauchemin and anyone else you can name this year aren’t well known across the league, and for Subban his reputation might work against him, and Suter is laboring under the reputation the Wild have for being a trap team.
Q: If you were starting a franchise tomorrow, what NHL player under 25 would you want to build your team around?
A: Tossup. P.K. Subban makes the short list, but is edged out by Drew Doughty and Alex Pietrangelo. Doughty has the Cup winning chops, but he’s also played on the better built teams his whole career. Both play a pretty complete game with Doughty being better known for his offense, but I think Peitrangelo is probably better defensively.
Q: Who are the five players every NHL fan should get to know better?
A: Alex Pietrangelo, see above. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Tomas Plekanec, Mikko Koivu, and Justin Faulk.
Q: Who should the finalists in each conference be?
A: Anaheim, Chicago, Boston, Montreal are the most complete and balanced teams in the league. Pittsburgh doesn’t have the goaltending to make it, and Minnessota lacks the playoff experience to run that deep.
Q: What two North American cities would you add NHL teams to?
A: If we’re picking US cities, I think the NorthWest either Seattle or Portland make sense, Kansas City and Houston also have their virtues. For Canadian cities, Quebec City and somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area make sense, but Saskatoon has pushed for a team, and if they can get enough corporate support and good ownership that could work. Also, there hasn’t been an NHL team in Calgary in years.
Q: If you could take over as head of hockey operations any team that won’t make the playoffs this year, what would it be?
A: Good question, the Flyers are obviously deep enough in cash that I’d be able to spend, and the fans are energetic. Buffalo could really work well if Pegula commits to a full reset, and Edmonton is highly fixable with the right leadership. And San Jose’s ownership is at least patient and loyal to their players. Ideally I could have be pretty sure of low ownership interference, Buffalo or Edmonton, I think the problems run too deep in some other cities that aren’t named here.
April 3rd, 2013 — trades, Uncategorized
The Buffalo Sabre’s declared themselves sellers. Not trading for change, sellers. Today Darcy Regier might have moved a couple pens across his desk, but players? Not so much. Moving Jason Pominville is a start, and they got solidly rated prospects back, but this is a sellers market. This is a team that should be blown up, they have talent to get pieces that fit together, they have an owner committed to winning, and they have a fan base who is getting really, really sick of losing.
The Calgary Flames certainly shipped out a lot of talent, but there wasn’t so much an earth shattering kaboom as a muddy plop, or at least a sound involving fluid and darkly hued stuff. The return on Bouwmeester and Iginla doesn’t appear to be worth the cost of the trade call to NHL HQ.
The Florida Panthers are excused, nearly everyone who was or should have been on their NHL roster opening night, is injured. They could still have shipped out a few people.
The Washington Capitals, did nothing. The team is certainly playing better now than at the beginning of the season, but that said they are still an incredibly mediocre team on the ice. Sure on paper with Ovechkin, Carlson, Backstrom, Alzner, as part of the long term core, the rest of the team is of a lot less value, and not built to win. For some reason, today they chose to add an aging Erat with two years left on his contract, and a guy who racks up penalties, for top prospect Forsberg.
The Colorado Avalanche are just pathetic. The team isn’t good at much. They’re 26th in goals for, 28th in goals against, 23rd on the powerplay, 22nd on the penalty kill. There is no reason to hold on to anyone, for any reason if the price is solid. If someone offers a big enough return, even Gabriel Landeskog could and should be moved. Only eight players are in double digits in points, and the drop off between the second highest scorer Matt Duchene, and the third Paul Stastny is 14 points. When you have Matt Hunwick lead your team in time on ice per game, you’re doing not a little wrong.
The Philadelphia Flyers had so many injuries it is tough to say what the could have done, but they deserve a public shaming for trading for Steve Mason.