Matt Cooke is one of those players that make me wish the NHLPA would learn to police their own in the board room as well as on the ice. Players who continually endanger and end the careers of other union members should be removed from the players associastion and hence the league. The players need to step in and do this because the owners never will, it should be done even if it means the PA reimburses a team for the cost of players contract.
But that’s not going to happen. Matt Cooke will continue to make reckless, studpid and or vicious plays that might end another players career or life. His hit on Marc Savard wasn’t the first time he’d done something vile. It certainly wasn’t the last. Until he finally hangs his skates up, no player on an opposing team is safe. Just like Raffi Torres, Matt Cooke is a player who is bad for the business of hockey. Not just for the players currently in the leauge, but he’s the type of player who makes parens fear to let their young boys and girls play or even watch hockey.
Based on Cooke’s lengthy disciplinary history. Adam McQuaid turned 25 feet from the boards, while Cooke is facing Krug. There’s no question this was a major penalty, no question it is suspension worthy. The league really doesn’t have any choice but to hand out the same type of suspesnsion that it did to Torres for cleaning Hossa’s clock last year. Anything less than 10 games is going to be seen as the league taking a step back from suspending a player for a bigger market team. With all the theatrics Mario Lemuix has engaged in for years from the owners box, it won’t be a surprise if the suspension is less than 10 games. It wil however be a signal o the dirties players in the game, of which Cooke is near or at the head of the class, that you don’t have to worry about ending careers, or lives if you play for an owner who not only is never at fault, never has a player who is at fault either.
For this drinking game you’ll need two beverages. You mght want to pick drinks mathing your favorite team colors or just the two nearest things you can handle in volume.
Take One Sip:
Every time scoring chances are mentioned.
An opponent of from the previous round is mentioned.
Jarome Iginla and Matt Bartkowski are mentioned in the same sentence.
The cameras pan the crowd or the guy between the benches instead of a scrum.
You know what a coach/player is going to say in an interview before they say it.
Either team gets a five on three powerplay.
Don Cherry makes more sense than anyone else the camera has been aimed at in the last ten minutes.
If the trade deadline is mentioned.
If Jagr’s time in Pittsburg is mentioned.
If any mention is made of the number of Stanley Cup wins a players has.
If the Nathan Horton vs Jarome Iginla fight is shown.
A goaltending change is made.
A pending UFA is mentioned.
A full period passes where you don’t hear the name of the junior and or college team any player was drafted from.
Anyone says a team is or isn’t getting bounces.
The broadcast fails to show a faceoff but cuts in when the puck is already in motion.
Two commericals for the smae company play in one commercial break.
A period ends with more than a 10 shot difference between the teams.
Take One Sip:
If Chara’s size is mentioned.
If any of Crosby’s past injuries are mentioned.
If a backup goaltender is shown.
If either Coach is shown standing on the bench.
Someone on sicial media says the offials are biased.
Someone dangles so much they lose the puck with no one with no help from opposing players.
James Neal or Tyler Seguin miss high and hit the glass with a shot.
The broadcaster between the benches asks the guy(s) in the booth if they saw something going on in the game.
Someone mentiones “line shuffling”.
Any rookie is pointed out (Simone Despres and Beau Bennett for the Penguins, Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski for the Bruins).
A general manager or owner is shown.
A fairly routine hockey play (faceoff win, goal, or saucer pass, etc) is described as “wizardy” or magic.
The Bruins powerplay scores in a game.
The Penguins get a shorthanded goal.
A too many men penalty is called.
A penalty is called that makes no sense.
Matt Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard is mentioned.
Double Fist (1 sip of each)
If the playoff win total of a coach is mentioned.
Trades between the teams are mentioned.
The age of a player or players are mentioned in relation to how long its been since the teams last played in the playoffs.
The regular season series is mentioned.
Any player is mentiond for a past award or current nomination.
An obvious rule is explained for no reason.
Some says the refs have swallowed their whistle.
The compressed schedule in the regular season is mentioned.
Everytime there’s an obvious dive that goes uncalled.
If there is a fight where the combined salary is more than four million dollars.
Players or officials are said to be sending a message.
Skip a drink if:
You find yourself unable to scream coherently at a pinkhat.
You start explaining a simple rule like “icing” and take longer than two minutes.
You can’t remember which beverage to drink from.
Both fourth lines are on the ice.
A family member, girlfriend or spouse of a player is shown in the audience.
You can seriously injury yourself, destroy property, or even die even if your participation in this drinking game is nothing more than water. If you should happen to do something incredibly idiotic and entertaining during this drinking game that makes it to Youtube, TextsFromLastNight or other fun sites; do send a link. It won’t make your life better, but I’ll get a laugh too. No one is responsible for the stupid you commit but you.
The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins will square off in a best of seven series for the right to earn those final four wins against a western conference foe.
For the Pittsburgh Penguins, Malkin, and Crosby will try and aid newcomer Neal, and grizzled veterans Iginla, and Morrow in earning there way into the history books. The offence of the Penguins is without a doubt the best left in the playoffs. The Penguins can ice three lines of players who on many teams would be the top threat. Iginla is likely a first ballot hall of fame inductee, and no one is going to name him first as the teams premiere offensive player.
The Boston Bruins are strongest at the other end of the ice. Zdeno Chara a former Norris trophy winner remains the NHL’s measuring stick for shutdown defense, and all others come up lacking. He’s aided by Seidenberg who’s journeyman career took the step up to mastery when he pulled on the spoked B. Behind them are rookie sensations Bartkowski, Krug and Hamilton, and the often overlooked Masterson Nominee Adam McQuaid, and veteran Boychuk of the booming shot and shot blocking. The likely starting defense of Chara, Seidenberg, Boychuk, McQuaid Bartkowski, and Krug is intimidating enough having dismantled the Rangers, behind them are Ference who one a Cup with the Bruins, and Reddem who was with Chara part of that smothering Senator’s defense a few years ago.
The point where both teams are likely to fail is in net. Neither netminder has played this deep in the playoffs. Last season, and the season before neither was a number one goaltender. Rask had a meltdown against the Flyers that will forever live in infamy. Vokouns previous most winning post season campaign had grand and sweeping total of two wins. Neither goalie has proven anything. If you are ranking each teams strengths from greatest to least the Penguins will have scoring, defense and goaltending in that order. The Bruins will list defense, offence and goaltending. Worse for each team is the unreliable nature of their backups. Khudobin has performed admirably as a backup for Rask, but the only reason Vokoun is playing at all is the goalie he normally backs up had a complete meltdown against the New York Islanders. The bottom line: don’t expect many 1-0, 2-1 games.
With the long delay between the ends of their respective second round series and when they throw down for the Eastern Conference title, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins have the opportunity to rest a lot, and do some other things the teams haven’t gotten to do much of. With the series likely to start Saturday night, the two teams will have the longest uninterrupted stretch of gameless, travel-free days since the lockout ended.
The Penguins have to be worried that Tomas Vokoun who has played some pretty strong hockey since relieving Fleury, might go cold. The 36 year hold has lost just one game since making his Penguins playoff debut. Fans have to be equally worried about James Neal, who had a six game goal scoring layoff before netting five goals in the final two games against the Senators. Given that all of his goal lighting has been done in just six of his last twenty five games, clearly his on or off status will have a big impact on the coming series.
For Boston, concern for Tyler Seguin’s goal scoring prowess has to be near the top of the list. He has exactly one goal in the playoffs, and that ended a fourteen game drought. The former #2 draft pick has just four points in his twelve playoff games. For the young defenseman filling out the Bruins blueline, the question isn’t as much rust, as having time to think and not simply play the way they have. Matt Bartkowski and ToreyKrug came straight from a long regular season in the AHL and were called up in the middle of the Providence Bruins own playoff run, since then they’ve been involved in some breathtaking and dramatic games.
For the Bruins, there are more than a couple players who haven’t made it quite to full effectiveness. Dougie Hamilton is the unlikely only Bruins defenseman who has yet to score a goal in the playoffs. Carl Soderberg has not seen a single playoff game after making his long awaited NHL debut, and might be needed down the road. Then there are the injuries to Redden and Ference. Neither the Rangers nor the Leafs have the offensive stars of the Penguins, and the shut down ability of Ference and Redden is something that could be sorely missed.
On the Penguins front, Iginla, Cooke, Morrow, Adams, Dupuis, Murray, Eaton, and Vokoun are significantly on the shady side of thirty. For them the extra rest, especially guys like Iginla, Dupuis and Murray who can play big minutes in close games, rest after a highly compacted season might be the tipping point. In particular, Iginla who’s well know for staying in Calgary long past when they had hope of winning the Cup for family reasons, for Morrow who played years in Dallas before being moved east, both an probably due with a little regenerative time with their family.
For these teams the question isn’t rust or rest, both will occur. The team that wins this series will likely be the one with the best health when the last horn sounds.
The New York Rangers have to get better performances out of some of their key players if they are going to even make a series of it much less win. Lots of players haven’t shown up. Lots of players have failed to execute, but there are three players who are crucial to the success of the team who haven’t executed at the level they should.
Will the real Dan Girardi please show up? Game two against the Boston Bruins as possibly the worst game of his playoff career, in game two. Yes he picked up an assist in game two, but that isn’t why Girardi is in the NHL. Dan Girardi, the draft leftover is the best damn shutdown defenseman no one talks about. He needs to revert to his normal excellence or he’s going to be golfing with the rest of the team in less tan a week.
He was the leading scorer in on the Rangers in the regular season, and yet in his last five games he’s put up just one point. In that his last three games he’s had faceoff percentages over 50% just once, with the other two being 25.32% and 30%. There isn’t much more to say about Stepan, he proved he can be their best player for almost 50 games in the regular season, and in the last five he’s been invisible.
Henrik Lundqvist has been shaky at best and Marc-Andre Fleury like the rest. Yes some of the goals he’s let in there were screens, but at least four of the eight goals he’s allowed this series have been soft. Even when he’s making saves, he’s bobbling pucks. This isn’t the King Henrik that Rangers fans, and NHL observers are used to seeing. He doesn’t look confident. He may not be healthy in the post season (again), if he isn’t that’s partly his fault, and partly the Torts for playing him too much in the regular season (again). What ever it is right now he needs to help his team find a way to win four of the next five games.
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.
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.
With the addition of future first ballot hall of fame inducted Jaromir Jagr, the Bruins field Marshall Julien has some thinking to do. He can slide Jagr into a line, but with the roster 100% intact it means someone is going to be demoted to a lower line and or removed from the ice.
Here’s a couple looks at what the lines could be L-C-R depending on how things shake out.
Of course whatever lines are decided with Chris Kelly expected back, things are only going to get messy again. Peverley and Seguin may have more speed than Kelly, but neither is as good at faceoffs, and Kelly is more than sound defensively. Depending on the opponent, and who is in the lineup and healthy on defense, I can see the Merlot line getting spelled out for a mix of Pandolfo, Caron, Daugavins, and various AHL call ups.
Jaromir Jagr and his still impressive hair and high speed release fly into Boston just a day after the Bruins engage in the sixth annual Cuts For a Cause (coincidence?) and on a day that might make him miss the Texas warmth. Jagr is a quirky, (we can call him that because he produces), driven, experienced, skilled as hell player who will be among the three or four most driven players on a team that includes the ever consistent, possibly soon to be two time Selke winner Patrice Bergeron, and the under awarded Zdeno Chara who had to be locked out of the gym when he younger. Jagr departs the Stars the season’s leading scorer. But, for the sake of perspective it needs to be remembered he is 41. He’s missed time with a groin strain this year, the same injury that plagued him last season. On top of his 33 games with the Star’s this season, he played 34 in Europe and had to deal with the compressed NHL schedule and the western conference travel.
The Dallas Stars, per Bob McKenzie will receive;
Lane MacDermid is a solid and very reliable bottom six forward who has killed penalties and can provide the sort of physicality that left with Krys Barch.
Cody Payne is a lanky, Floridian picked in the fifth round by the Bruins last year who has an explosive upturn in production in the OHL this year for the Plymouth Whalers, and gotten a taste of the playoffs.
With two guys over 200lbs being added to the mix, and both of them solid skaters, the Stars future looks a bit black and blue, at least for their opponents.