11.27.2007

Islanders vs. Stars - 3-2 in OT

YEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a game!!!!!!!!!!


I finally saw my Stars live, and I couldn't have picked a better time. Try, close game that ends in OT with a perfect view of the winning goal. I mean, perfect view....check it out!


video



That was just a sick goal. We don't exactly have the best angle, but still, it's not often you get that clear of a goal via fan video. By the noise, you can tell that my uncle, my dad, me, and the Stars fan we had sitting below us were the first to see the goal. Well, other than Modano and Hagman and all the guys on the ice. But it was a really great game to be at.



The Stars had some killer defensive plays. I definitely remember about 10 different times when an Islanders rush was pushed to the boards and transformed into a dump-in. A top 6 of Zubov, Boucher, Robidas, Daley, Niskanen, and Grossman was perfect. Niskanen and Grossman made some nice plays on the back end, and Zubov, Boucher and Robidas had some nice offensive opportunities. Actually, though you can't see it in the video, Robidas was essential to the play in OT.



There were a couple really good lines out there that night. The OT unit of Zubov, Robidas, Modano, and Hagman played just an insane 15 seconds or so. Total puck possesion to lead to a great No. 9 goal. The Stars chose the defense pairs well, putting youngsters with vets. Stephane Robidas paired well with Niklas Grossman as a shutdown line. Niskanen and Zubov fit well together as a line with some offensive upside but still good defensive play, and Boucher and Daley were basically the same. Also, Stu Barnes, Jeff Halpern, and Steve Ott worked well together, almost like an energy line. They worked the shutdown crew, but had a few offensive opportunities too. Curiously, on the fourth line, Brad Winchester, Joel Lundqvist, and Halpern/Krys Barch were also strong. Winchester (*gasp*) had a couple offensive chances. Barch is really appearing to have potential as another Steve Ott. He only had a couple of shifts, but shadowed Mike Sillinger pretty well on one and is normally a good agitator. If he can morph his ECHL scoring and NHL/AHL fighting and toughness, we could very well have a new John Ferguson. Well.....relatively speaking. Ferguson was a 20-goal guy who could knock anyone's lights out, but Barch could only be a 10-goal player who can knock a few lights out and damage some other ones.



Not to say that Loui Eriksson is going back to the AHL, but Loui Eriksson should go back to the AHL. He looked really shaky last night and didn't appear to have the elictrifying scoring skills he was supposed to display. But he will play, as it would be all but impossible to have Chris Conner fly up to New Jersey and still be ready for the game tomorrow.



Anybody want to come out and admit they were wrong about the Stars offense? Sure, no top ten guys, but Morrow needs two points in the next game to be a point-per-game player again (he didn't score in the last game and that messed it up). Mike Ribeiro is a point-per-game guy. Zubov is 2nd in defenseman scoring behind Sergei Gonchar, who plays for a much more offense based team. Niklas Hagman actually leads the Stars in goals with 10, and Halpern has gotten over half of all the goals he scored last year through in 24 games.



Speaking of Halpern, I wish I had known he had scored his 100th goal while I was watching. That's a great milestone for a tough worker like him. Congrats Mr. Shutdown-guy-who-almost-lost-his-offense-in-Dallas.



Turco let in another bad goal. Who cares.





I don't. Really.





Okay, so it bugs me a bit. Everyone has a bad day.





Some more often than others.





Like Turco, for example. That's only, what, the 50th goal he's given up like that? It doesn't help that Peter Schaefer's bouncing goal over Turco's dive is burned into my head. It's okay, though, Turco. You're only a bonehead. Better say thanks to Boucher for me.





That's all the writing for today. I'll show you guys a few more videos and a couple pictures, but I've got little more to say. I did fight off Sparky the Dragon after he tried to eat my Stars hat.


video











I duke it out with Sparky....and win! :-P Just gave him a little smack in the (fake) face...


You wanna fight? I'll beat the crap outa you before you touch Jokinen! No, Jussi is good, actually roughed it up with (probably as tough as he dares) Mike Comrie...

Hmm.....Blogger isn't quite ready for me to put up so many videos. Sorry, that's all I can give you today. Write you later, possibly after the Devils-Stars game that I have a chance to go to.

11.23.2007

Is Cloning the NHL secret?

*The following post is completely humorous and in no way intends to insult the abilities of players currently in the NHL or in any other league*


Take a look at these two.......










Anybody see a little similarity there? No? You should........even though these two players (Jared Boll and Danny Briere) are entirely different in playing style and (except for these two pics) appearance.

Even in these next pics....







...the two look anything but the same.
However, can't the same thing be done with plastic surgery?
Here's my theory (remember guys, this is fake...).
The NHL is tired of getting prospects such as Alex Volchkov or Ari Ahonen, who appear to be spectacular players until they try out the AHL or NHL and they flop.
To be rid of this problem, the NHL has carefully taken different players who had successful careers, and cloned them so that they can play in the NHL again. Briere is the most recent subject to have his clone in the NHL via the supposed 'Jared Boll'. Notice how the year before Boll makes his NHL debut, he suddenly gains offensive talent. Is this natural? Or was the NHL frustrated with Briere-2's development and decided to take action?
Previous experiments have had more success. Cliff Ronning was cloned and his clone, alias Teemu Selanne, has had a spectacular career. David Volek, a clutch man similar to Chris Drury but with less consistency, was cloned and Volek-2 became Alexander Ovechkin, the superstar.
I have proof in the form of random pictures on hockey cards. One pic which I believe to be Volek's rookie card is clearly the face of Ovechkin, yet when another pic of Volek and a pic of Ovie are compared, the two look nothing alike. The same goes for a fluke picture of Ronning, where he distinctly has a Selanne-air about him.
Could the NHL be attempting to control prospects by nearly ensuring their abilities? This could be a bigger scam than steroids in baseball. Keep clicking and I will update you on cases of NHL clones.
*Please remember that this story was fake. I have no belief whatsoever that the NHL is cloning players, or that the NHL is trying to cut down on poor prospects in that way. This was just for fun.*
NHL NOTES:
-It appears that Finland is the new factory for power-play quarterbacks. Four players have been signed out of Finland almost specifically for their offensive abilities. Most of them have delivered. Lasse Kukkonen returned to the Hawks in 05-06 to score, and while most of his points were not on the powerplay, he still scored. Ville Koistinen was a scoring specialist in Finland and the AHL, and is currently in training to do the same thing in Nashville. More recently, Tobias Enstrom and Cory Murphy went to Atlanta and Florida to improve the power-play. Enstrom has 13 points in 21 games this year, including one power-play goal out of his two total goals. Murphy is 1-10-11 in 19 games, and his only goal came on the power-play. Not only is Finland asked for power-play standouts, but they deliver as well.
- On the note of suprise defenseman, plenty have appeared out of nowhere. Besides Enstrom and Murphy, Steve Wagner is one of the most notable D-men. A blueliner for 18 games in St. Louis, Wagner is 2-6-8 in those games. He too, even has a power-play goal. Tom Gilbert, an Oiler D-man, in 3-4-7 points in 22 games, from being an emergency call-up last season. Matt Niskanen is a pleasant surprise in Dallas, going 1-4-5 in 21 games, and he's +2. Mike Mottau is a strong young D-man in New Jersey, and Mike Lundin is going strong in Tampa, 0-4-4 in 21 games with a +4 rating.
-The interesting thing about teams with low attendance in the NHL is that it's way easier to get great seats. This year, I am watching the Islanders play the Stars on the 26th, and we get $75 seats about 2-3 rows up from the boards. Spectacular view of one goal with reasonable viewing of the other. Some guys might want to see the whole rink perfectly, but when you've got an automatic video-replay screen that shows every goal, you're pretty much good anywhere.
- Which team will be the Blackhawks or Blues next year? As in who will have the best rookie class, it will probably be Columbus or Philadelphia. The Jackets will likely have Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek in their line-up in 08-09, suggesting some killer offense. The Flyers will have Steve Downie (if they don't play him this year) and Ryan Parent, meaning some tough, physical play will increase (again).
That's all for today (surprisingly, it isn't June yet), and I'll try to write more often. Of course, I always say that before I forget to write for about a month or two. Don't expect much.

10.30.2007

Random Ravings on Hockey

Why should I choose a specific subject? I can be as erratic in writing as Ponikarovsky in scoring. Who really cares?



Speaking of erratic Leafs players, where was Nik Antropov all these years? Before 05-06, The Hockey News said he would hit his stride or fall to the minors. Apparently, they were only about two seasons off. Antropov currently has 8 goals and 15 points through 13 games, quite possibly the best start he's ever had. Antropov has either helped or was helped by Mats Sundin's similarly good start. Sundin has 6 goals and 19 points in 13 games.



Never judge a rookie by his team. I mean, yes, the Pens and Caps did suck before they got Ovie and Sid, but we knew they would spark their teams. However, despite being in a similar position, few would have guessed Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews starting off this good. Kane has 4 goals and 10 assists in 11 games while Toews is 4 and 5 in 9 games. Pretty sweet.

Ok, skip to a few days later. Lots of changes in the hockey world. Let me start by saying I am not surprised that the Stars have begun letting go of long-time members of the organization, starting with GM Doug Armstrong. Sad to see him go, but the team needs some sort of change. However, I am less confident in Brett Hull's likelihood to trade/release long-time Stars. Hull has a lot of connections with the Stars, and, if it comes to trading Mike Modano, Sergei Zubov, Jere Lehtinen, or another Star whom Hull played with, he might not get the job done.
Wait, don't think I dislike Hull's ability to manage a team. He has plenty of experience making winning combinations, and, I don't think he sat around playing golf during his retirement. He knows how the new NHL works and he won't screw up. But wouldn't anyone have sentimental ties to a teammate. If I were in Hull's position, I would have to see Mike Modano have a horrible season to consider trading him. Hull is smart, and he won't mess up. I trust him. Les Jackson is great too, don't forget him.

It seems that every player remembered his job this year. Kovie, Ovie, and Nash are lighting the lamp, Zetterberg, Sid the Kid, and Vinny Le Cavalier (I know that has nothing to with his real name, but, Le Cavalier, The Cavalier, the gallant, it's just cool, okay?) are all making killer passes, and all the defensemen are....defending.
Then we get to the goalies. Now, Tim, Pascal, who said you were allowed to do incredible? You guys are supposed to follow your reputations and what do I see? Tops in GAA? Great starts for your respective teams? Come on, get with the program. Not, great job guys, keep it up.

I had the great opportunity to meet Chico Resch on Sunday. He apparently knew a few of my friends, so he was great in talking to us. In fact (don't go spreading rumors that Chico gives out free tickets to anyone, but) we might get free/discounted tickets to a Devils game soon, and (even less likely so skip it so you don't get misled) a few of us might get press passes.

Alright, that's it for today. Idk when I will post again. Knowing me it will either be tomorrow or the first Tuesday in June.

10.05.2007

Opening night(s)

It seems I still haven't gotten the gist of watching live games on Islanders TV. The only way I have found to watch a live game is through NHL Center Ice. Yet, every area-team game (Devils, Rangers, Islanders) that isn't a home game gets blacked out. Kind of disappointing, since it appears that I cannot watch the first rematch of last year's first round of the playoffs (Islanders vs. Sabres tonight). At least I get the home opener.



How about the new guys earning their rep with a new team. Danny Briere gets two goals in his first Flyers game, Chris Drury wins it for the Rangers. Guess leaving Buffalo didn't hurt them too bad. Guerin, Comrie, and Fedotenko have all proved they belong. Everyone fits.

Snap! That's what Ryan Kesler's nose could've done on this vicious cross-check from Jesse Boulerice. It's so bad, Boulerice himself expects a suspension.



Now, fortunately, this is one of very few incidents where, A) The injured man is not visibly bleeding, and B) The guilty man does not walk away laughing. But really, that was crazy. Kesler got smashed. He was down like Scotty Stevens on Paul Kariya. I think this was worse than McAmmond. True, no apparent injury, and Kesler was up and strong enough to 'suggest' a 20-game suspension for Boulerice, but, really, ouch.
Slightly on topic, anyone wonder if that one ref was a Kesler fan? He practically knocks Boulerice over! Every ref gets the perpetrator out of the way, but if you had Mauric Richard right there, that is a ref-player fight.

Sorry again for the short post. I am currently working on a website for my band. Plus, you know my age people. We're never consistent with anything. And yes, I did write this on two different days.

9.25.2007

School Interferes

Homework just seems to take forever these days.

Anyways....



We're definitely back to hockey. The three great signs of hockey:

A high-octane rookie

Fans, this year you will be treated to the playmaking skills of Chicago Blackhawks rookie Jonathan Toews, not to mention the up-and-coming Nicklas Backstrom.

Great Goals (Individually)

No memorable example yet, but plenty of swatting-the-puck-in-mid-air by Josef Vasicek and Bill Guerin. Wathcing two games now, Mikko Koivu got a pretty nice goal against Manny Legace.

And Last but not Least (but we wish it was)...

A stretcher case already.

Yeah, yeah, I know some of you think that a stretcher-inducing hit means a rough game, and, honestly, the Senators and Flyers were scrapping pretty hard. But a late, off-the-feet hit like Steve Downie's is really hard to respect.


I mean, come on, Steve! Honestly, if I were a worse guy, I'd be cursing him. Sure, sure, we had lots of that stuff last year in the regular season. Colton Orr drops Todd Fedoruk. Jonathan Tootoo sucker-punches Stephane Robidas. McAmmond again, last year, got his noggin a-little-more-than-clipped by Chris Pronger's elbow in the playoffs. Anything else that happened, I've probably written about it. Check the archives.
But my point is, as a killer prospect with humongous offensive potential and a real chance for grabbing a spot during camp, this is not what you want to do. Even if Downie had scored, I don't know, say, 5 points so far in the preseason, Paul Holmgren still has that nagging voice in the back of his head: Steve Downie is hated by the Senators. Steve Downie has a notorious history for knocking people's brain against the wrong part of their skulle. Steve Downie could be suspended to many times for the NHL to handle. Are you sure you want this? Not an easy thing to put in your GM's mind, and I thought he really had a good chance of making the Flyers. Out of necessity, the Flyers might still put him on the third or fourth line. But his reputation is already tarnished.

On the other hand, I like the way Nick Foligno is shaping up. He happened to (no, he definitely deserved to) play in that same game, and his offensive instincts were on display. He should make an impact, even if he starts out like Patrick Eaves. He'll still be good.

Alright, short on time today, might not write again for a while. Heck, expect a similar wait to last time.

9.17.2007

SORRY!

Okay, I am really sorry about not continuing my yearbook thing. I just can't bring myself to publish something that long about every team consistently. But here are some other interesting news items from around the world (small as it is).



The Year of Redemption- While it seems that the big focus is how players such as Nicklas Backstrom (Caps), Jonathan Toews (Hawks), and Derick Brassard (Blue Jackets) will rise up and lead their team, a lot of comebacks are possible. Jeremy Roenick can redeem his career with a good season with the Sharks. Sandis Ozolinsh, Anson Carter, and Bryan Berard all have tryouts to see if they can earn a contract. How well each one can still play is yet to be seen. Roenick only scored 28 points, but was on a Phoenix team where the highest scorer (Shane Doan) only scored 57 points. Ozolinsh managed 3 assists in 21 games during an injury-riddled season with the New York Rangers. Carter scored 28 points in 64 games, but unlike Roenick, he had plenty of opportunity to score. Berardhad back surgery, and only made it into 11 games, garnering 3 assists. In my opinion, only Ozolinsh might not make it back to the NHL solely because of his remaining ability. Carter can still score 40-50 points if paired with a good playmaker (He could use some time with Shawn Horcoff or Jarett Stoll). Berard is still fast, and when not crippled by back problems, could boost the Isles powerplay. Roenick is the most likely to make his team. If not a return to his high-scoring abilities, he can at least team up with Mike Grier to form the grit on the Sharks. Ozolinsh, however, has been subject to criticism about his lack of enthusiasm when he did play for the Rangers. He was repeatedly sent down to the AHL.

Pre-season = Free-season for Isles fans- And I know it, because I'm watching the Philadelhpia Flyers play the Ottawa Senators via Islanders TV. This technological revolution is truly awesome. I do have a strange glitch where my Islanders vs. Bruins game (happening at the same time) currently only shows me the scoreboard, but still, it's a live scoreboard. I can watch up to four games at the same time, while writing this blog. Really cool. I don't know whether or not this includes regular season games, but it could. But then again, you have to get money some how. Would you, acting as Charles Wang, want to lose all your ticket sales because your fans are gathering at home to watch the game at the same time as three others? I think not.

While I'm watching these games, it's interesting to note how many prospects are playing well that don't get tons of notice. Of course I'm seeing Nick Foligno and Steve Downie, but then I see Kip Brennan take down (sort of) Zdeno Chara, and I say, dang, that kid is one heck of an agitator. He could get some time!

Hey, check out Martin Gerber. The guy wants to earn his hefty salary this year. Great save with the shin pad.

Where was this Josef Vasicek last year? On the penalty kill with the Isles, he watches Matt Spiller break his stick, gives Spiller his stick, then, after diving and blocking shots, Vasicek clears the puck with a kick. Great effort.

Okay, Isles game is back. Just a minor kink. Great stuff, really. I love this, especially with my sad lack of cable TV. The only awkward thing is deciding which game to listen to. For instance, I just missed Ilya Zubov's goal against the Flyers because I was listening to an Islanders conversation. Still, again, this is great.

Alright, tomorrow I'll tell you how the game goes. For now, long live hockey. Peace.

8.28.2007

Atlanta's Yearbook/Outlook/Better or Worse?

Atlanta's roster is relatively the same as it was last year at this time. A great trio of wingers (Kovalchuk, Kozlov, Hossa) followed by some, not horrible, but just average guys (Perrin, Dupuis, Larsen). The centers each have their good side, however none happen to specialize in offense (Newcomer Todd White comes the closest). The defense looks sharp in names (Zhitnik, Havelid, Exelby, Klee, McCarthy), but is inexperienced in the playoffs (minus Havelid, and Zhitnik). The goaltending remains exactly the same, other than having Kari Lehtonen aware of the pressure in the playoffs. But, even with these slight changes, could Atlanta be better than last year?



According to my sources...........The Thrashers may look the same on the outside, but with nearly every man on the roster having knowledge of playoff pressure, they can do much better. Hossa can repeat 100 points if he has Kozlov on his line again, and the upgrade from Eric Belanger to Todd White should be noticed. The somewhat young defense should benefit from a full season from Alexei Zhitnik and Ken Klee is also a good leader. Last year it was all about gaining experience, and this year, they have it.



But from what I see..................The Thrashers will have a season very similar to the one they had last year. The wins could go up if some of the centers (Holik, Slater) use their offensive abilities to their best, and if Brett Sterling can bring his scoring game to the next level, the three will become four. The defense will be better having Zhitnik for a whole year, and if Klee has another surprisingly good season, all the better. Lehtonen is still going (and growing) up, but if he ever falters, Hedberg is still reliable. However, with all the changes that everyone else in the Eastern Conference received, a first round exit is the best to hope for.


In the near future...............The Thrashers savior (if they end up needing one) will come in the form of Bryan Little. Although his name matches his stature, it nowhere near describes his skill. The 5' 10" center is IMHO largely overlooked when people rank prospects. He scored 107 points in the OHL last year, and although he could use some AHL time, I think he could be amazing by next season (08-09). Brett Stirling is also a rookie, though more ready due to his 55-goal rookie AHL season.

All in all, the Thrashers will get to the first round, get out (though likely in 5-7 games instead of four) and become even better in the next offseason. They are definitely on the upswing, and could be serious contenders soon.

8.24.2007

My "Yearbook/Better or Worse?/Outlook/" (for Anaheim)

Everyone does it. Hockey fans just have a sense of needing to rank all 30 teams once they know who will be where. I've got my own, and now I'll start with Anaheim.

The Anaheim Ducks

So, the Ducks finally have a Cup. Now, if NHL teams just randomly died down on their own choice, this would be their time to go, on a high note. But...

According to my sources.......The Ducks are in for a repeat. Sure, it hasn't been done in a decade, but then again, look at the roster. Despite off-season losses, they still have two dynamic duos on offense (Andy McDonald and Chris Kunitz, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry), the tremendous trio of 'D' (Niedermayer, Pronger, Beauchemin) gets a fourth big name (or a replacement for Niedermayer should he retire) in Matt Schneider, and J.S. Giguere is sticking for another four years. All this, plus the return of THE checking line (Moen, Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer) and the additions of Todd Bertuzzi and Shane Hnidy makes this Ducks team a repeat for sure. But...

I see it this way..........There's no doubt that the Ducks are going to be atop the league. But with Teemu Selanne being replaced by Todd Bertuzzi, and no sure left winger for Getzlaf and Perry, offense could get shaky, although, if Travis Moen builds on his 12-point playoff performance, which included several goals in the Final, he has the potential to fit on line 2. However, if Moen does end up in Penner's role, it would compromise the chemistry of the checking line. Brad May, who would be first in line for the empty space, plays a whole different game from Moen. Defense is perhaps in the best shape. Even if Scott Niedermayer leaves the team, Schneider can fill his spot, and Shane Hnidy wouldn't stay in the AHL long anyways. Goaltending is also tight, with prospect Jonas Hiller ready should Ilya Bryzgalov be part of a trade.


What is to come...Every team has its potential Sidney Crosby or Erik Johnson in the wings and the Anaheim Ducks are no different. Bobby Ryan, drafted right behind Sid the Kid, has all the symptoms of a super-power forward. Perhaps another year in the AHL would do him well, but he could definitely slip in on the fourth line, or possibly even replace Penner on the youthful second line. Mark Mitera is the most promising blueline prospect, but he is two or three years away.


All in all, the Ducks will once again be a dominant team. A Stanley Cup repeat isn't guaranteed, but definitely within reach.

8.21.2007

Foppa and Peca (hey, they rhyme!)

I am kriffing tired of all the speculation.



"It's most likely that Peter Forsberg, the symbol of Swedish hockey, will return to his homeland and bring back all the glory that MoDo hockey has lost."



"A news report today strongly indicated that Michael Peca will sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets. This will almost certainly boost Columbus beyond the first round of the playoffs. Long live the Blue Jackets!"



"Foppa should join the Senators because they almost won the Stanley Cup again."

"Mike Peca ain't never not comin back to the NHL cuz he don't wanna play."

I mean really. I am exaggerating on some of those, but I'm sure someone somewhere actually believes one of those 'comments' strongly.
How about we just let these guys sign with a team. Then you can go rant about how Peca was stupid to choose to end his career with the Phoenix Coyotes, or wonder why Forsberg chose to sign a $600,000 contract to play with the L.A. Kings even though Colorado was offering him $6,000,000 plus incentives. Let the poor guys choose on their own, instead of letting them see strange articles about how they reportedly signed with the Atlanta Thrashers when they really were just deciding to join the Dallas Stars.


Sorry again, short writing. But hey, that's summer + hockey news.

8.19.2007

Summer....

First of all, sorry for the horribly long absence. I just got bored. Now look at this.

A normal person's view of summer- Relax, hang out with family/friends, take a vacation (if you are in school, the whole thing is a vacation), basically a two-and-a-half month long special event.

A crazy hockey fan's view (like mine)- YAWN.........Not much to do....check out whether Chris Chelios gives his age consideration........Sure, free agents are good, but I can still guess the majority of playoff teams again.........

I mean come on, people! Don't you see what the sports world does to us? We have to sit through two-and-a-half months (minus from about July 1st to July 10th) waiting to see if someone famous retires, if someone unretires, anything cool, and we get very little.
To the NHL: Create something interesting during the summer. I know the players like a little relaxing time, so don't make like extra games. I know what foul stuff would be spewing from fans' mouth's like mine if you made, say, a post-post-season-pre-season. Instead, make like a special AOL/MSN/Yahoo/blog/e-mail address that gets made/answered/used by every NHL player that wants to, do it like one player a day, and let any fan from anywhere use it. I think that would be good.

Ok sorry for my lack of writing again, but I will continue to write from now as long as I can.
FFTI man out.

6.14.2007

The FFTI Awards!

Due to the NHL Awards being given out later today, here are the official FFTI Awards for the 2006-07 NHL season. Some award names may be changed due to the fact that my brain started working better.



FFTI Teemu Selanne Award (Previously the FFTI Rookie of The Year Award, nominees still the same)- Out of Evgeni Malkin (85 points, 78 games), Paul Stastny (78 points, 82 games), Jordan Staal (42 points, 81 games), Matthew Carle (42 points, 77 games), Anze Kopitar (61 points, 72 games), Mike Green (12 points, 70 games), the Brain (mine, by the way) has decided that Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche deserves the Teemu Selanne Award for best first year performance. He may have less points than Malkin, who is almost certain to win the NHL's official Calder Trophy as rookie of the year, but, if you haven't heard this from everyone else, listen up. Malkin scored 7 goals in his first 6 games, but then only 26 over the next 72. Stastny, on the other hand, had no such famous streak until down the stretch, when he had a 20-game point streak. He performed consistently all year, and wasn't highly touted for this year, unlike Malkin. Therefore, the award is his, and, believe me, if I had any was to contact him, I would tell him.





FFTI Ken Dryden Award- From the nominees of Mike Smith (23 games, 12 wins), Jaroslav Halak (16 games, 10 wins), and Josh Harding (7 games, 3 wins), I have decided that Mike Smith will grab this award. While the others had great performances, it was Smith who impressed me most, because he was there all year, but the others were injury call-ups.





FFTI Key Player Award- Basically the Hart trophy, the nominees were Sidney Crosby (120 points, 79 games), Roberto Luongo (76 games, 47 wins), Olli Jokinen (91 points, 82 games), Alex Ovechkin (92 points, 82 games), Nicklas Lidstrom (62 points, 80 games). All of these players were certainly key, but, after the playoffs (only Luongo, Crosby, and Lidstrom made it), I believe the trophy should go to Luongo. He had a stellar regular season, tying Bernie Parent's previous record for wins in one season (Martin Broduer raised it to 48 this year), and then kept the 'Nucks alive in the playoffs until they faced the eventual Stanley Cup champion, the Ducks, in round 2.



FFTI Bobby Orr Award- Pretty much the Norris, the nominees for this trophy were Nicklas Lidstrom (Duh, 62 points, 80 games), Scott Niedermayer (Why not? 69 points, 79 games, Conn Smythe sounds good to me.), Sergei Gonchar (67 points, 82 games, really young team), Kevin Bieska (sorry, messed up the name before, 42 points, 81 games), Kimmo Timonen (55 points, 80 games), Phillipe Boucher (51 points, 76 games, I'm a Stars fan). Out of these players, I believe that this trophy should go to (gasp) Sergei Gonchar. He was on a really young team, and hardly got noticed due to the fact that his team as a whole wasn't very responsible defensively. He still managed to have a great season. Congratulations Gonchar, enjoy it because you won't get the Norris.



FFTI Pavel Kubina Award- To the best defensive defenseman, if you can't tell by the nominees. By the way, they were Anton Volchenkov (78 games, 273 blocked shots, nuf said), Jason Smith (82 games, 228 blocked shots, horrible defensive team ravaged by injuries), Andy Sutton (55 games, 162 blocked shots), Karlis Skrastins (68 games, 190 blocked shots, blocking shots not reason for end of games-played streak), Zybnek Michalek (82 games, 167 blocked shots, another weak team). Of course, after watching him keep up that kind of play through the playoffs, I need to give this to Anton Volchenkov. The guy was amazing. Yes, in Game 5 he messed up a few times, but, unlike some of his teammates, he didn't just give up. HE kept trying. He was great.



FFTI Bob Probert Award- Lots of fights, lots of points, lots of toughness. Nominees were Sean Avery, Chris Neil, Kevin Bieska, and Keith Tkachuk. I couldn't bring up the stats, but, I think everyone would agree that Sean Avery gets this award. The man scored 48 points in 84 games, and still had the occasional outburst.



FFTI Jacques Plante Award- Basically the Vezina, doesn't have to be on a weak team. Nominees were, Martin Broduer, Roberto Luongo, Marc-Andre Fleury (sorry, another mistake on the name, 40 wins, 67 games), Niklas Backstrom (23 wins, 41 games). Now, because I didn't even use two of the NHL's nominees, it makes it all that much easier to pick Roberto Luongo for this award. If you don't know why I picked him, look at the reason provided in the Key Player award.



FFTI Roberto Luongo Award- I know I picked a goalie for my Key Player Award, but this is like the goalie's Hart Trophy. Nominees were Luongo (he won't win yet), Marc-Andre Fluery, Henrik Lundqvist (37 wins, 70 games), Cam Ward (30 wins, 60 games), Rick DiPietro (32 wins, 62 games). Well, it's kind of hard to pick this, since each goalie was key to the team's success, but this award will go to Henrik Lundqvist. He had a great regular season, despite starting shaky, and ended up doing well in the post-season too.



FFTI Scotty Bowman Award- It's just like the Jack Adams, but I used a different great coach. The nominees were Ted Nolan (coached 40 wins out of 82 games, made playoffs), Michel Therrien (coached 47 wins out of 82 games, made playoffs), Andy Murray (team had 34 wins in 82 games, nearly .500, he was the reason for it). Out of these nominees, I would have to say that Michel Therrien deserves this award, due to the fact that he was given a team that struggled last season, and improved it's poor defense, peiced together a great compliment to Crosby on offense, and turned Marc-Andre Fleury from soft-goal-loser to all-star-winner.



FFTI GM of the Year- This will go to either Garth Snow, Brian Burke, Darcy Regier, or Ray Shero, and, you know, I'll just go with the best. Brian Burke has to win this award. The Ducks had high expectations all year, and he kept the Ducks up there. Way to go.



FFTI Unknown Player of the Year- You may have heard their names, but you've likely never heard how much they mean to their team's. I nominated Petteri Numelin (20 points, 51 games, killer shootout accuracy), Jason Pominville (68 points, 82 games, and you still here more about the Bruins goaltending than you do him), Andrew Brunette (83 points, 82 games, and most people still think he's a journeyman), Alexander Semin (73 points, 77 games, but, he plays on the same team as Ovechkin), David Vyborny (64 points, 82 games, but did you know he does that consistently?). I say this award goes to David Vyborny, because he sets up Rick Nash so much, that everyone just thinks he's a machine that isn't actually a great player. But he is actually really good. Just watch him.



FFTI Bill Masterton- According to the NHL, this award goes to, "is given to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. The winner is selected in a poll of all chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season." So my nominees, Teemu Selanne (won it last year), Mark Streit (can't play his natural position, but does well anyways), Stu Barnes (you'd think he scores more with how hard he plays), and Wayne Primeau (Another selfless player) all fit right in. In honor of his Stanley Cup win, and his ability to score 40 goals a season when some thought he would be retired by now, Temmu Selanne gets my Masterton award.



FFTI Alexei Yashin Award- Despite Yashin's good play this year, he is still known for being an underacheiver. Nominees Sergei Samsonov (consistently scored 20 goals, but dropped to 26 points), Jeff Carter (42 rookie year points, and 23 rookie goals, just 37 points, and 14 goals this year), and Fredrik Sjostrom (WHL sniper still firing NHL blanks, 9 goals and 18 points through 78 games makes a career high in goals) unfortunatley all fit that category. Samsonov will get the award this year, due to not only his poor play, but his poor attitude as well. I hope that I don't have to give out this award very often, because it stinks to downplay these guys even more.



FFTI Goon Award- To the player who's fighting style I like most. Nominees were Colton Orr, Derek Boogard, Ben Eager, Brian McGrattan, and Andrew Peters. I should have nominated Ray Emery for his smile-while-trying-to-KO-a-guy style, but since he's not in there, I'll go with Ben Eager. The youngster may not realize it, but he provided a bright spot to the Flyers' disastrous season by fighting.



Thanks for your time to read my awards. Tomorrow, after the real NHL awards have been given out, I'll compare my similar awards to the ones given out by the NHL. See ya later!

6.11.2007

Not posting for a while

Due to moving from one city to another, my internet will be down and I will not post for some time. This is being written from a library. I will write as soon as the internet is back for me.

6.07.2007

ANAHEIM WINS STANLEY CUP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, it was such a great moment, at the end, to see Teemu Selanne with tears streaming down his face, and for young guys such as Chris Kunitz, Francois Beauchemin, and even Joe Motzko and Ryan Carter lift up the Cup with joy. Hey, why listen to my description? I'm posting a ton of videos about it. Anaheim won 6-2 by the way. After the videos, I will post some of my thoughts on the winning game.



This is a video of the post game celebration, although since someone got this from their TV, their sound is delayed until the announcer starts talking again. Still, you can feel the excitement. I love the handshake line. Every guy, even the ones blamed for being classless (Alfredsson, Neil, Pronger) are shaking hands with the guys who blamed them (except for McAmmond, who was concussed).



Wanna know how the fans felt? Listen to the screaming fans who were actually at the game live when the final buzzer sounded.



The actual presentation of the Cup, and Scott Neidermayer, Rob Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, and Teemu Selanne skating with it. Great moment.

Well, I actually couldn't find many highlight videos of the game itself so, you'll have to go the www.nhl.com to watch the highlights there.

Goodbye Selanne?- Teemu gave no firm reply that he would not retire after this win, and even told a few sources that he would like to go out a champion, which would be nice for him. The happiness seen in him when he lifted the Cup made me smile, even though I was leaning towards Ottawa rather than Anaheim.

I thought they were checking players- Samuel Pahlsson, Travis Moen, and Rob Niedermayer were all key offensive players throughout the final series. In Game 5, Niedermayer scored an awesome backhander, and Moen had two goals. Pahlsson scored the only goal in game two, and had plenty of defensive plays as well. By the way, who knew that Todd Marchant played goalie? Mid-game, Marchant prevented an Ottawa goal from going in, and gave Anaheim even more confidence.

Good timing- Andy McDonald, normally a playmaker, picked a good time to let his goal-scoring skills explode. He led the Ducks with 10 goals, including 5 in the Finals.

No nastiness- Maybe it was a premonition thing, but nobody on either team truly showed any nastiness. Not even Brad May or Chris Neil. Christoph Schubert took a useless elbowing penalty on Beauchemin, but it didn't appear to be an attempt to injure. There were still the usual big hits, but not as many.

Bad Day for shot blockers- Ottawa's best defensive defensemen, Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov each had a rough game. Phillips accidentally slipped the puck between Ray Emery's skates, which knocked it into their own net, and Volchenkov was either beat or deflected off of on several goals.

THE FOLLOWING PLAYERS, LISTED IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER, WILL GET THEIR NAME ENGRAVED ON THE STANLEY CUP, BECAUSE THEY EITHER PLAYED 40+ REGULAR SEASON GAMES, OR PLAYED A GAME IN THE FINALS.

Francois Beauchemin, D
Joe DiPenta, D
Ryan Getzlaf, C
Jean-Sebastien Giguere, G
Kent Huskins, D
Ric Jackman, D
Chris Kunitz, LW
Todd Marchant, C
Brad May, LW
Andy McDonald, C
Travis Moen, LW
Scott Niedermayer, D, Conn Smythe Winner
Rob Niedermayer, C
Sean O'Donnell, D
Samuel Pahlsson, C
Dustin Penner, LW
Corey Perry, RW
Chris Pronger, D
Teemu Selanne, RW
Ryan Shannon, RW
Shawn Thornton, LW

All of those players and possibly more will also recieve a Stanley Cup ring. Teams can petition the NHL to put other names on the Cup as well. I expect that Anaheim will request Ilya Bryzgalov, the back-up goalie, and George Parros, and enforcer who played 34 games and 5 playoffs games not in the finals, to go on the Cup as well.



In other, very irrelevant news, the New York Islanders have bought out the final 4 years of Alexei Yashin's 10 year contract.

6.05.2007

Game 4 Review

Anaheim shut the door on Ottawa's chances of winning during Game 4. Despite Ray Emery playing well, and the top line finally stepping up, it appears that the Ducks have the Cup all but in their hands.

Still undisciplined- Despite winning, the Ducks could still be caught taking the bad penalty. Corey Perry's crosscheck to the head of Chris Neil was unnecessary, but this time, it happened to Ottawa too. Francois Beauchemin was called for whacking Neil, but everyone could tell that Neil had faked getting hurt. Ray Emery purposely fell when Ryan Getzlaf nudged him by accident, and that drew a penalty. Neil was called for crosschecking, when he dumped Travis Moen, and Daniel Alfredsson took a shot (like with the puck) at Scott Niedermayer at the end of the period. That kind of play is likely to dig the Sens a big hole.

Why couldn't you do this before?- The Sens top players finally decided to show up in Game 4, as Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley scored the only Senator goals. Jason Spezza also had some nice play, but the Sens needed this from Game 1, not when they are down 3-1 in games. Congratualtions to Patrick Eaves (the real one, not just a jersey on Spezza's back) to sparking Heatley into scoring, and a good job by Alfredsson to pile in the first goal up close.

"Took a shot at" goes a whole new level- It used to mean you just went after a guy. But Daniel Alfredsson literally shot the puck at Scott Nidermayer in the dying seconds of the second period. It caused another 10-man brawl, similar to the one at the end of the first. This action has caused major controversey, and (just a guess) has Senators fans screaming "accident" and Ducks fans screaming "suspension". I truly couldn't tell what happened, but I think Alfredsson did that on purpose. How classless from a guy who was a Conn Smythe candidate. Send it to Mike Fisher instead.

Third member of kid line has his moment- Dustin Penner sat back quietly in Games 1-3, and watched his line mates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry got all the attention. He wasn't worried. In Game 4, Penner broke in with Teemu Selanne and ended up scoring the winning goal. Nice time to show up.

Here. I found some highlights of Game 4 for you.



From HockeyPacific again, these guys are pretty good. Hits are abound in this video, too. It shows Alfredsson's incident, and I noticed that he actually punches out a guy too, in the scrum. I can't believe that only Mike Fisher and Samuel Pahlsson got called.
Posting Thursday for sure, possibly tomorrow.

6.04.2007

Game 3 Review

Sorry that this is late, but yesterday I was away from my computer all day.



Well, Game 3 was a great game to see for a hockey fan looking for every aspect of the game. There were plenty of goals, big hits galore (see Chris Neil), great saves, and even a knock-out blow, although I don't particularly find that something I want to watch. The score turned out 5-3 in favor of Ottawa, and, if the Senators win Game 4 at home as well, then it will prove nothing is better than a home ice advantage. The Anaheim Ducks won the first 2 games back at the Honda Center.

Take a look at these notes from the 2 periods I saw (I had played a hockey game earlier, was really tired, and knew I had to wake up early the next day), and some thoughts on the third from seeing the opinions of others.



Chris Neil's transformation- I originally saw Adam Proteau write on this. I hope everyone has seen how Chris Neil is no longer a goon (I certainly have changed my mind). In Game 3 he scored a nice goal on a tip-in, and also was the biggest presence (hitting-wise) on the ice.

McAmmond/Pronger- I didn't see this happen live, but got to see it on video, and, I really am surprised that a penalty was not called. That was a really dangerous elbow to the head, and, if it weren't the Stanley Cup Finals, I would want Pronger suspended longer. For McAmmond himself, if he saw a replay, he must have been scared at how many times he could have been seriously injured. The elbow was bad enough, seeing as it knocked him unconscious. Then, he nearly gave himself another concussion by hitting his head on the ice awfully hard. Then, he collided with the boards nearly head on, which means, one small change in angle, one big change in injury.

So undisciplined- You got it, I'm talking Anaheim here. Whether it's Ryan Getzlaf's crosschecking show, Ric Jackman's close-line, or Pronger bashing the side of McAmmond's head (there was no penalty called, but 99% of normal people think there should have been), the Ducks' penalties have to go way down.

Emery is a hero- It doesn't matter how many shaky goals he lets in, he normally follows up with a 1995-Cujo-glove-hand save. Now, he isn't exactly Conn Smythe material. No, that would undoubtedly go to his captain, Daniel Alfredsson. But he has kept the Sens from losing 5-2 in every game.

Unofficial record?- Jason Spezza likely set an unofficial record for only player having to wear a teammates jersey in the Stanley Cup Finals. After battling with Samuel Pahlsson, Spezza's jersey was torn almost in half, and, when for some reason a new jersey couldn't be found, he came out with Patrick Eaves' #44 on his back. Fortunately, the announcers for NBC were sharp enough to point that out, and watching fans weren't confused.

I couldn't find anything but amateur video for game 3, which is nice, but none of them truly had highlights for the whole game. Check out youtube for anything you want to see, like Spezza's jersey thing, or Pronger hitting McAmmond. Posting tomorrow after game 4.

5.31.2007

Game 2 Review

Well, yesterday's game was another beauty, in hockey terms.

The Ducks pulled off a second straight win from a second straight goal by a second checking line player in the second game of the Ducks' second trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Too bad it's not the second round, that would be an insane amount of seconds. Anyways, take a look at these key factors and interesting notes.
Goaltending- Game 1 featured some timely scoring by players who have had a knack for timely goals, at least in this playoffs. But Game 2, on the other hand, involved stellar goaltending by both goalies. As a matter of fact, it took an accidental screen by Joe Corvo, and a ripping wrist shot from Samuel Pahlsson to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead, which turned out to be the final score.
Forwards- Every forward had his own story in Game 2. I can't exactly go player by player, but I'll name 4 players that I saw a story in.
Jason Spezza- It really bites to have to criticize this guy, but, to put it in one word, he stunk (Oops that's two). Spezza had a mediocre night, highlighted (not in a good way) by two awful shifts in the second period. He hasn't made an impact in the Finals yet, and it would be a wise choice to put Mike Fisher on the top line for at least Game 3.
Corey Perry- The guy was as much of a magnet for hits as Elvis was a magnet for fans. And not just during the first few minutes, like Scott Niedermayer was in Game 1. Despite his constant shadows, Perry managed to have a pretty good game, even putting on the physicality mask himself for small periods of time.
Dany Heatley- Unlike his DDJ (Dany, Daniel, Jason) line mate, Heatley managed to have a strong game. He didn't get any points, but managed to be in front of the net often, and was out there when Ottawa had multiple opportunities at a Power-Play goal.
Samuel Pahlsson- Yes, I have to profile the guy who scored the only goal of the game. Are you saying you wouldn't? Pahlsson scored a pretty goal late in the third period, after causing another Senator giveaway. He also continued to play a strong defensive game.
Physical play- This was much more of a factor than any other part of the game. Whether it was the smashing hit Chris Neil put on Francois Beauchemin, or the battle of Fisher and Perry, you had to notice the amount of physical play in this game. Players were crunching each other left and right. Good thing nobody went Colby Armstrong and accidentally injured someone. The only times of concern were when Perry (I told you he was a target) got up slow from an early hit, and some other Senator got hit pretty hard and appeared to have his face hit the boards painfully.

Once again, here are some highlights provided for any of you who don't get Versus. I'm sure some of you don't.



Thanks to HockeyPacific for providing these videos. Nice to get some highlights up here. Unfortunately, this video doesn't show much of the physical play, but does highlight the excellent goaltending, and gives a good view of Samuel Pahlsson's goal.

I'll post on Saturday or Sunday about Game 3, and might be able to find something to write about tomorrow.

5.30.2007

Thoughts about other things in hockey

I hope all of you have been solely focused on the playoffs, because if you haven't, then most of this won't be relevant to you.

Two kid lines?- I know it's the wrong time to be looking ahead, but consider this. The Anaheim Ducks have Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry locked up for next year, and Dustin Penner should be re-signed soon if Brian Burke is thinking straight. But, Drew Miller's performance in Game 1 of the Cup Finals shows that he is ready to join the lineup. Bobby Ryan, a highly touted Ducks prospect, had 11 points in his first 12 AHL games (including playoffs) and also looks prepared to be given a shot. Throw in 24-year-old center Ryan Carter, who looked pretty good in three playoff games this year, and the Ducks can have another kid line. Imagine that, Duck fans who dream of a repeat (if they win this year).

Phoenix fantasy better than life- Better start wishing you were me on East Side Hockey Manager, Don Maloney. The new Coyotes GM has to deal with the mess that is the Phoenix Coyotes, and he won't have it easy. However, I've come up with a plan that works while seeming unreasonable. Keep all your current players, and re-sign Jeremy Roenick. Yes, really. Then, acquire Petr Sejna off waivers, and have him replace Jeff Taffe. Also, receive Carlo Colaicovo from Toronto, Andy Delmore from Tampa Bay, and Hannu Toivinen from Boston. Keep Toivinen in the minors until Cujo, still your starter, gets injured and David LeNevue severely falters. Recall said Toivinen, and let him tear up said NHL until Coyotes are in playoffs against unreasonably strong Nashville Predators. Play like zombies until swept in four games.

07-08 Rookie group strong- Yes, the NHL will once again have several rookies that will provide plenty of interest. I know I already tried to make a big report on this, and it's still coming, but here are the most interesting ones. Bobby Ryan- The previously mentioned winger will certainly have a strong NHL debut, although, he may have to adjust to Andy McDonald's style of play if Teemu Selanne retires. Jonathan Toews- The Hawks have signed the college player to a contract. He should be able to crack the roster (it is Chicago), and will likely play a key role. Marc Staal- Staal is less guaranteed to make his team than the other two are, but he should still have a good chance. His defensive style can help the Rangers, so look for him to make a difference.

Posting tomorrow to review Game 2.

5.29.2007

Game 1 review

Ok, I swear that I will put a review after each Cup Final game, especially if they turn out as fun as that.

The Ducks came out with a 3-2 win, and, honestly, through the whole game, the score could have been 7-5 if not for some brilliant goaltending by "Razor" and "Jiggy". Giguere's best save came against Daniel Alfredsson with less than 10 seconds to go. The Sens captain was right in front when he received a great pass from Mike Fisher. He let off a top shelf-shot, but "Jiggy" caught it with his glove hand. Emery didn't have on particular save that stands out, but stopped several shots that could have made the deficit bigger. Even so, he's got to be hurting from the relatively soft backhand that Getzlaf put past him. It appeared to be a spectacular goal, but emery could have stopped it with an average save. As for the offense, most of the goals were great. Travis Moen's game-winner was a great play by the Ducks, and a bad play by Andrej Meszaros. Wade Redden has a better slapshot than we know, because I've never seen him pull off a blast like that. The double-Mike play was great (see later note), and congratulations to Drew Miller on making a great hit and free up the space for McDonald's goal.

RANDOM THOUGHTS: These are really just separate thoughts that came during the game.

- Was it Mike 1 or Mike 2? Does it really matter? After two periods of play, the NHL finally decided that Mike Fisher scored the goal on a wrist shot, not Mike Comrie on a tap in. The Versus announcers had a lot of fun with that. "The jury has come back and ruled a verdict..."

- Has anyone noticed the constantly changing personality of Ryan Getzlaf? I was watching the game with my uncle and my dad, and just so happened to (easily) notice the (blatant) series of crosschecks that Getzlaf put on Mike Comrie. As a matter of fact, he earned the name Ryan Crosscheck until he scored his backhander on Emery. Then we talked about his huge potential to become a superstar.

- Plenty of jokes have already been made about the playoff beards of the Anaheim Ducks. But I think we topped it off after seeing a shot of the cleanly shaved Mike Comrie, and the beardless Chris Pronger. " 'Hey, look at that! Pronger can't grow a beard!' 'That's ok, (Scott) Niedermayer is growing it for him.' *laughter* 'Yeah, I can see it in the dressing room! Pronger is staring at his chin, and Niedermayer comes up and says, don't worry man, I got it.' *more laughter* 'And Rob (Niedermayer) is growing it for (Corey) Perry!' 'It's the third period, do you know where your beard buddy is?' Mike Comrie is jinxing the Senators. You could easily tell that he had shaved recently, after seeing his face in a mid-break interview.

- Unless he's in it just for the money (which would be a shame), Zdeno Chara has got to be kicking himself right now. The year he leaves, the Sens make it to the Finals for the first time in franchise history. Speaking of Chara, who would win the fight? Chara or Pronger?

If you didn't see the game, which is understandable considering how Versus is largely unpopular, here are some nice highlights for you.



It fails to show Ryan Getzlaf's crosschecking show, but it is still good. Posting tomorrow or Thursday about Game 2.

5.23.2007

"This Just in..."

I must delay the previous report because of an urgent message...
THE ANAHEIM DUCKS WILL INDEED PLAY AGAINST THE OTTAWA SENATORS IN THE STANLEY CUP FINAL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, for an analysis, please stand-by....

Stanley Cup Final
Anaheim Ducks (2 in West) vs. Ottawa Senators (4 in East)
Prediction- Ottawa Senators in 7 games
These two teams present an interesting story. One, the Ducks, have been expected to dominate all year, starting from the acquisition of Chris Pronger last summer. Most picked them to win the Stanley Cup in the pre-season, mid-season, end-of-season, and mid-post-season. On the other hand, the Senators, always a strong regular season teams, had no more expectations than the usual. Blow every one's mind in the regular season, and then flop out and disappoint in the post-season. That has changed.
Anaheim (2)- The Ducks are in for a new challenge. Defeating Minnesota involved snuffing out the top scoring line, and then throwing in a couple of goals to finish it off. Bumping off Vancouver meant snuffing out the top two offensive guys, and finding a way to beat a defensive minded team. Manhandling Detroit required some timely plays and stopping the forwards before they got to the defensive zone. See a pattern? While I am in no way saying that the Ducks don't have speed and skill (hello youth line), they haven't had to use it so much as stuff in a puck or two and shut down the other guys.
But against Ottawa, it could be a different story. Had things gone by the names when Buffalo played Ottawa, it would have been Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman shutting down the nameless line, while any of the top three lines would pile in goal after goal. Not so. Not only did Ottawa prove to have scoring depth (Mike Fisher and Mike Comrie come to mind), the top line also made Tallinder and Lydman exhausted by playing an end-to-end game and then passing smoother than seemingly possible for a great play.
Now, it's up to Randy Carlyle to make a tough choice. Play Pronger and Niedermayer together, and have them completely shut down the "nameless line" while leaving Francois Beauchemin and Sean O'Donnell to deal with the depth? Or will he keep going with what he's done (Pronger and O'Donnell, Niedermayer and Beauchemin) and cross his fingers. Will Teemu Selanne, Andy McDonald, and Chris Kunitz really turn it on, or will all the pressure be on Ryan Getzlaf, Dustin Penner, and Corey Perry? Will J.S. Giguere forget some of his shaky moments, and push for another Conn Smythe? Or will his game go down the drain, and cause the Ducks to turn in favor of Ilya Bryzgalov? Basically, will it all work? Sorry Anaheim fans, but you've got a lot of questions.
Ottawa (4)- Then again, who's saying that the Sens don't? Will the top line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, and Daniel Alfreddson be able to keep up their torrid pace against two Norris trophy nominees? Will Mike Fisher and his group of "the other Ottawa forwards" keep up their surprising offensive support? Can Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips keep Ray Emery from getting pelted with shot after shot? Can Ray Emery stop whatever shots get through? We all need answers.
GAME KEYS: It all comes down to who can shut down the top offensive line. If Pronger and Niedermayer can shut down the "nameless line", then the pair of Volchenkov and Phillips can't stop both the "youth line" and the (hmm, what should I call them) "TAC line." But if Phillips and Volchenkov manage to slow down one of those, and Wade Redden and Andrej Meszaros can provide at least some defense against the other, then the "nameless line" should deliver.

However, this is the Stanley Cup Final. Here, a man known for defense can score myriad goals, and even the least defensive player can block a shot and save the game. Here, players will get injured terribly, but keep playing because of a want for the ultimate goal. The STANLEY CUP!




Some good pics from Ottawa's Stanley Cup journey so far.



Not actually from this year's playoffs for the Ducks, but still a good video.

I finally posted a video! It's been so long..... speaking of which, so long! I've got to head out.

5.18.2007

Next year's rookies

If you're a draft hound, you probably love The Hockey New's Future Watch and Draft Preview, and www.hockeysfuture.com in general, and so do I. The following report is for those of you who don't necessarily want to know who is rated to go 50th (Akim Aliu for THN) in the draft, but you would like to know more about prospects. Some of these players might not have rookie eligibility, but haven't yet secured a spot.

First, a team report of who I think could crack their respective rosters. I will acknowledge www.hockeysfuture.com, www.hockeydb.com, and The Hockey News Draft Preview and Future Watch, as the sources for my information.

Anaheim- To name just one, Bobby Ryan has given every indication that he can be a top-line scorer for the Ducks. He scored 8 points in 19 games and had 22 penalty minutes with Portland Pirates (AHL) in the playoffs last year, and scored 9 points in 8 regular season games with the Pirates this year. He should at least start out on the third line. Other prospects: Tim Brent (AHL, 30 points, 15 NHL games, 1 goal, Rookie), Ryan Shannon (AHL, 9 points in 14 games, NHL, 11 points in 53 games, hasn't secured spot). Draft Expectations: The Ducks likely won't pick until the second round, unless they trade that one too, so don't expect anyone huge to be acquired.
Atlanta- Brett Sterling had a 55-goal rookie AHL year, but his expectations are wide-spread. Some will look at his stats and believe that he can join the top two lines. But, Sterling is a natural left-winger, where the Thrashers already have Ilya Kovalchuk, Slava Kozlov, and possibly Keith Tckachuk, although he is a UFA. Other prospects: Boris Valabik (AHL, 9 points, 184 PIM's in 50 games), Jordan LaVallee (AHL, 34 points, 16 goals, 79 games). Draft Expectations: The Thrashers too will not pick until the second round, so look for the team to snatch a USHL or BCHL center without too much notoriety. The Thrashers have a desperate need for a scoring center, and Bryan Little is not yet fully developed.
Boston- The Bruins have many prospects that were spectacular this year. Mark Stuart and Matt Lashoff appear to be ready to break in at the start of next season. Stuart had 20 points and 64 PIM's in 49 AHL games, and had an assist and 10 PIM's in 15 NHL games. Lashoff had an outstanding rookie year in the AHL, scoring 36 points and 60 PIM's in 64 games, and even got 2 assists in 12 NHL games. Other prospects: Petr Kalus (AHL, 13 goals, 30 points in 43 games, NHL, 4 goals, 5 points in 9 games), David Krejci (AHL, 31 goals, 74 points, 69 games, NHL, 6 games, no points.). Draft Expectations: The Bruins pick 8th this year, and according to The Hockey News, they could get anyone from a Jeremy Roenick or Derian Hatcher player, to a Terry Ryan or Jason Herter player. Karl Alzner, who has been said ready to make the NHL, is rated to go 8th this year.
Buffalo- The Sabres have several prospects who could step in next year, but their most exciting one has already played half a season. Drew Stafford (41 NHL games, 13 goals, 27 points) would have had a great rookie season had he kept that pace up all year. Those stats pro-rate to 26 goals and 54 points over an 82 game season. Expect a big season from the versatile winger next year. Other prospects: Clarke MacArthur (AHL, 21 goals, 63 points in 51 games, NHL, 7 points in 19 games), Marek Zagrapan (AHL, 17 goals, 38 points in 71 games). Draft Expectations: The Sabres don't pick until either the second or third round, so the scouts will be focused on getting a lower-round gem.
Calgary- The Flames want Dustin Boyd to secure a spot on the roster next year. Boyd's rookie AHL year included 27 goals and 60 points in 66 games. He also scored 2 goals and 4 points in 13 NHL games with Calgary. Other Prospects: Andrei Taratukhin (AHL, 17 goals, 60 points in 89 games), Brandon Prust (AHL, 17 goals, 27 points in 63 games, NHL, 10 games, no points). Draft Expectations: The Flames pick 18th, and according to THN, they could get anyone from a Glen Murray or Jason Smith type player, or a Jesper Mattson or Jason Miller type player. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, last seen with the U.S. U-18 team, is rated to go 18th.
Carolina- Brett Carson appears to be the best AHL performer right now. A D-man in his rookie AHL year, Carson managed 2 goals and 17 points. But beyond that, he showed a strong natural offensive sense, able to move the puck well in any situation. Other Prospects: Justin Peters (AHL, 10 wins, 17 losses, 30 games, rookie AHL year), Mark Flood (AHL, 44 games, 12 points, 22 PIM's). Draft Expectations: The Canes pick 11th this year, and, according to THN, they could get anyone from a Jarome Iginla or Mike Sillinger player, or a Chris Govedaris or David Cooper type player. Big D-man Keaton Ellerby is rated to go 11th this year.
Chicago- The Hawks are hoping Jonathan Toews and/or Jack Skille can step in next year. Toews is the more likely, with 18 goals and 46 points in 34 games with North Dakota in collegiate play. Skille, on the other hand, has been inconsistent. His talent lives up to his name, but his stats don't. However, Skille appears ready for the pros after scoring 4 goals and 8 points in his first 9 AHL games. He only had 8 goals and 18 points in 26 college games. Other Prospects (and boy does Chicago have others!): Cam Barker (AHL, 15 points, 53 PIM's, 34 games, NHL, 8 points, 44 PIM's, 34 games), Dave Bolland (AHL, 17 goals, 49 points, 64 games, NHL, 1 game, no points), Troy Brouwer (AHL, 41 goals, 79 points, 66 games, NHL, 10 games, no points), Kris Versteeg (AHL, 26 goals, 72 points, 70 games), There are many others, but I have to keep going. Draft Expectations: The Hawks have a wonderful opportunity, being able to pick 1st overall. So many superstars (Crosby, Ovechkin, Modano, Thornton, Lecavalier, to name hardly any) have been there, and only three instances have come where the player should not have been picked in that position. Even then, Patrik Stefan has been a good role player, Alexandre Daigle had a few good years, and Bryan Berard should have only been a lower first-rounder. Patrick Kane is rated to go first overall, by THN's standards, although Jakub Voracek, Alexei Cherapanov, and Kyle Turris all fit along with Kane's style of play. Kane, Voracek, and Cheraponov could step in next year.
Colorado- The Avalanche will give three players, T.J. Hensick, Ryan Stoa, and Chris Stewart, every opportunity to make the team. Hensick is the strongest contender, coming off a 23-goal, 69-points-in-41-games year in college. Stoa, also in college, is coming off a year where he dropped in production (25 points in 06, 24 in 07) but showed a more impressive all-around game. Stewart also shows lots of offensive talent. He scored 36 goals and 82 points in 61 OHL games, then went up to the AHL, and scored 3 points in 5 games. Other Prospects: Johnny Boychuk (AHL, 28 points, 125 PIM's, 80 games), Tyler Weiman (AHL, 54 games, 27 wins, 2.99 GAA). Draft Expectations: After their first playoff-less season, the Avs will pick 14th. According to THN, they could get anyone from a Sergei Gonchar or Adam Deadmarsh player, or a Patrick DesRochers or Michel Reisen type player. Offensive Russian winger Maxim Mayorov is expected to go 14th.
Columbus- The Blue Jackets want Derick Brassard and Kris Russell to crack the roster in training camp. Brassard was injured for a majority of this season, however, he still managed 25 points in 14 games. Last season, he went at a two-points-per-game pace. Russell is the surprise of the two. Never getting much attention until recently, the young defenseman scored 69 points in 59 games, showing tremendous potential. Other Prospects: Steve Mason (OHL, 62 games, 45 wins, 3.20 GAA), Geoff Platt (AHL, 28 goals, 49 points, 53 games, NHL, 3 goals, 9 points, 26 games). Draft Expecations: The Blue Jackets have the opportunity to snap up another difference maker with the 7th pick in the draft. THN reports that they could get a Jason Arnott or Shane Doan type player, or a Ryan Sittler or Alex Stojanov type player. Playmaking center Logan Couture is rated to go 7th overall.
Dallas- The Stars will want Niklas Grossman to make the team next year. He played 67 AHL games with Iowa, and scored 10 points, however, his niche as a defensive defenseman helped him into 8 NHL games, where he was scoreless. Other Prospects: Perttu Lindgren (FNL, 43 games, 4 goals, 26 points), Vojtech Polak (AHL, 67 games, 17 goals, 45 points, NHL, 2 games, no points). Draft Expectations- The Stars won't draft until the second or third round, so don't expect a big name to appear. A late round gem is possible, though.
Detroit- The Wings have a couple of players that can make it next year. Jimmy Howard is in his second AHL season, and got 21 wins and a GAA of 2.70 in 49 games. Kyle Quincey played 65 AHL games and scored 22 points from the blueline. Now he is with the Wings in the playoffs, where he has 2 PIM's in 11 games, and no points. Other Prospects: Jakub Kindl (OHL, 55 points, 142 PIM's, 54 games, AHL, 7 playoff games, 2 assists), Igor Grigorenko (Russia, 49 games, 14 goals, 27 points). Draft Expectations: The Wings actually kept a first round pick this year, and will either pick 30th if they win the cup, 29th if they come in second for it (their actual place too), or 28th if they get out in the conference finals. This means they won't likely get a superstar, although they could find a surprise. Bill Sweatt, a project forward, is rated to go 28th, John Negrin, a two-way D-man, is expected to go 29th, and Ryan McDonagh, another two-way defender, is rated to go 30th.
Edmonton- The Oilers have a lot of work to do before they get back on the road to respectability, and that involves young guys such as Robert Nilsson, Rob Schremp, and Denis Grebeshkov making the team and making an impact. Nilsson is more likely to make it, after an 18-goal, 66-points-in-69-games year. He played 4 games with the Oilers, scoring 1 goal. Schremp also should make the team, although, after only being recalled for 1 scoreless game, despite a 17-goal, 53-points-in-69-games year, he may not even re-join the team. Grebeshkov is more of a mystery. He's had success in the AHL, and even played in 33 NHL games over 3 seasons, yet, he returned to Russia and only had 16 points in 47 games. Other Prospects: Andrew Cogliano (NCAA, 24 goals, 50 points, 38 games), Ryan O'Marra (OHL, 26 goals, 51 points, 46 games). Draft Expectations: Edmonton actually gets to pick 3 times in the first round. Their own pick comes 6th, a pick from the Islanders at 15th, and a pick from Anaheim at 28th or 27th. They can get a wide variety of key players. At 6th, playmaker Sam Gagner is rated. Two-way defender Nick Petrecki is rated to go 15th, and forward Mike Hoeffel is rated 27th.

I'll leave it at that for now, and work on getting the rest of the teams soon. I only do this because I hate not publishing something for a while.

5.16.2007

Conference Finals Analysis "2"

Oops, I goofed up. Sorry Detroit and Anaheim fans, I totally forgot to write about your series too. Deeply sorry, a huge mistake. (What do you expect, I'm Eastern Conference "media"?). Here we go.

Detroit Red Wings (1) vs. Anaheim Ducks (2)
Prediction- Anaheim in 6 games
This is the series where you will see defense, defense defense. How could you not, when there are three Norris trophy finalists among the two teams, along with several other great defensemen?
Detroit- The Wings are solid in all areas of the game. Offense- Just like in the regular season, the Wings are receiving a majority of their offense from Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom, and Pavel Datsyuk. However, instead of the Ottawa style, where one line does all the scoring (which would be Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and bargain Tomas Holmstrom here), they have also received offense from Johan Franzen, D-man Mathieu Schneider, Mikael Samuelsson, Daniel Cleary, and the ageless defender Chris Chelios. All of those players have 5 points or more. Defense- Now, you can't win games just by scoring, and the Wings can take care of things in their own end as well. The top six defenders (Lidstrom, Schneider, Chelios, Brett Lebda, Danny Markov, Andreas Lilja) are solid in their own end. However, with Lebda and Schneider injured coming into this series, the Red Wings are forced to go with Kyle Quincey, and possibly Derek Meech, although Lebda could play. Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, Valtteri Filpulla, and occasionally Jiri Hudler are used as checking forwards. Goaltending- The Wings have received solid play from veteran Dominik Hasek, who has won a Stanley Cup once with the Wings already, and been to the Finals another time with Buffalo. Back-up Chris Osgood has the experience of winning a Cup as a starter with the Wings, and as a back-up with them.
Anaheim- The Ducks have good players up front, but is their depth strong enough? Offense- It was easy enough to predict who would score for the Ducks in the regular season, but the playoffs have featured a different group of scorers. Expected leaders Andy McDonald, Teemu Selanne, and Chris Kunitz have put up numbers, but ones more expected by second or third-liners. D-men Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, and Francois Beauchemin all score, while the "youth" line of Ryan Getzlaf, Dustin Penner, and Corey Perry have carried the offense with the unusually high-scoring Samuel Pahlsson and Travis Moen. Defense- The Ducks have a strong point here. Pronger, Niedermayer, and Beauchemin are the big three, while Kent Huskins, Joe DiPenta, and Sean O'Donell are solid in limited playing time. Moen, Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer (yes, he is Scott's brother), Ryan Shannon, Brad May, and Shawn Thornton are better in their own end. Goaltending- The Ducks have two experienced post-season goalies. This is J-S Giguere's third trip to the Conference Finals, as back-up or starter, and he has won a Conn Smythe Trophy for his play in the 2003 playoffs. Ilya Bryzgalov's playoff time is much more limited, but he too has the experience of a Conference Finals trip. In the first two games against Minnesota, Bryzgalov pressured Anaheim to keep him in net for the playoffs, although Giguere has been even better.

Sorry that this comes out two games into the series, but at least I got it out. A special rookie report follows.

5.09.2007

Conference Finals Analysis

Ok, it's finally going to come. Hopefully, it will be in depth and you can understand my reasoning.

Buffalo Sabres (1) vs. Ottawa Senators (4)
Prediction- Buffalo in 7 games
Anyone who has paid attention to the Sabres and Senators this year knows that this will be a crazy series. Both teams are exciting on offense, have at least one good pair on defense, and have goaltenders that have been absolutely great.

BUFFALO- The Sabres have everything they need to be a Stanley Cup champion, although their defense is more shallow then they would like. Offense- The Sabres can score from all four lines. The Sabres use Daniel Briere, Chris Drury, Thomas Vanek, Jochen Hecht, Maxim Afineganov, Dainius Zubrus, Tim Connolly, Jason Pominville, Drew Stafford, and Ales Kotalik are the "main offensive weapons." But Adam Mair, Derek Roy, Paul Gaustad, and Daniel Paille (if he gets called up more), who are normally on the checking line, can provide timely offense as well. Brian Campbell and Dmitri Kalinin are the most offensively inclined defensemen for the playoffs. Defense- The Sabres' incredible defensive responsibility is shown most by the fact that only 2 players are on the minus side, and both of them (Toni Lydman, Henrik Tallinder) are normally put up against the top offensive players for the other team, and are still only minus-1. Brian Campbell and Dmitri Kalinin are the offensive D-men, Lydman and Tallinder are put up against the opponents top offensive line, and the third pairing, Teppo Numinen and Jaroslav Spacek, can be put up against anyone. Every forward is in the plus rating except for Derek Roy, who is a main checking forward, and Daniel Paille, who has only played one game. Goaltending- The Sabres have used Ryan Miller for the entire playoffs, and will continue to do so unless he is injured. If he does get hurt, the Sabres are toast. Ty Conklin has struggled in his small playoff experience, and Adam Dennis has had an average rookie AHL year. Look for the Sabres to use a unit of Paul Gaustad, Adam Mair, and Jochen Hecht at forward, and Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder on defense, all against Ottawa's top line. They will also try and form two scoring lines since the Senators will use Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips against one.

OTTAWA- The Senators have plenty of momentum, but will it work? Offense- The Senators have less offense then the Sabres, and that may hurt them. Beyond the "give-us-a-name" line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, and Daniel Alfredsson, the Sens only have Chris Kelly, Dean McAmmond, Antoine Vermette, and Mike Comrie with more than one goal. Some regular-season weapons haven't been reliable; Peter Schaefer, 12 goals, 46 points in 77 regular season games, no goals, 3 points in 10 playoff games, Mike Fisher, 22 goals, 48 points in 68 regular season games, 1 goal, 4 points in 10 playoff games, Oleg Saprykin, 15 goals, 36 points in 71 regular season games, no points in 7 playoff games. Only defenseman Tom Preissing, Joe Corvo, Wade Redden, and Anton Volchenkov have scored a considerable amount of points. Defense- This is a stronger spot for Ottawa. Of the seven defensemen (Corvo, Preissing, Volchenkov, Chris Phillips, Andrej Meszaros, Redden, and seventh defenseman/forward Christoph Schubert), no one has a lower plus/minus- than -3, from Schubert. Phillips is a minus- 1, but he and partner Volchenkov are almost always paired up against the top offensive line. Preissing and Corvo work together as the offensive pair, while Redden and Meszaros are the two-way group. Forwards Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Schubert (who has played forward for the whole playoffs so far), and Chris Neil are the hard-hitting (Neil), defensive (Fisher, Schubert), two-way (Fisher, Kelly) group. Goaltending- It's been all Emery so far. The young, fight-loving Senator has shown that while he loves to be aggressive, he can put on the big saves at clutch time. Back-up Martin Gerber has the experience of winning the Stanley Cup last year with Carolina, although he did not play much.
KEYS TO THE SERIES: Both teams have declared, despite the fight-filled rivalry, that this will be a clean series. That's good news for fans who want an exciting series. Defense will be the main key, though. Will Tallinder and Lydman stump the "nameless line" and allow Drury and co. to pile up the points? Or will Volchenkov, Phillips, and the rest of the gang keep the Sabres at a snail's pace, while giving Heatley the chance to turn on the red light? Tonight, we will find out.

Hockey video of the day- If you missed the first round of the playoffs, here's some highlights for you. I know the quality of the video isn't great, but it's better than another no-vid day.



Back tomorrow with more hockey info and opinions.

5.08.2007

Looking Ahead "2"

Here's the rest of the teams for my subject, along with (possibly) a conference finals analysis, and a good hockey video. However, I might not get to all of that. Anyways....

Minnesota- The Wild likely won't make any huge moves in the summer, but there are definitely some possibilities. 1) Manny Fernandez traded. It's pretty likely, and actually, might turn into a major move. Neither Manny nor the spectacular Niklas Backstrom would truly be happy with back-up time, and while Minnesota would sure like to have both of them, it won't happen. To make it more complicated, Josh Harding looks ready, and the Wild have several other goalie prospects vying for the AHL that will be lost once Harding leaves (a.k.a. Miroslav Kopriva, Kristofer Westblom, maybe Niko Hoivinen). Also, the offense is a little crowded, so it may be possible to see Todd White or Stephane Veilleux move.
Montreal- Changes must be made, or Bob Gainey might leave. First of all, anyone in their right mind would get rid of Sergei Samsonov, whether it be a trade, waiving him multiple times, or buying him out. He has to go. Also, re-signing Sheldon Souray would be a huge blessing, and if he leaves, expect the Habs to go after whatever offensive blue-liner is left. David Abeischer will be good trade bait for either a checking forward or a young defenseman.
Nashville- It may actually be convienient to let Peter Forsberg leave. David Legwand is ready to be a top-line center, and Jason Arnott is more than capable of manning the second line. Vernon Fiddler could run the third line, and Jerred Smithson and Scott Nichol can trade off fourth line time, if Nichol doesn't leave in the first place. If he does, Rich Peverley will take his place. On defense, a veteran blue-liner is needed to replace Kimmo Timonen, who likely will become tooo expensive for the Preds to afford. One of Tomas Vokoun or Chris Mason could leave to make room for Pekka Rinne, with Mason being most likely.
New Jersey- The Devils will look to either re-sign Scott Gomez, or bring in another center of his status. It would help if another scoring forward was brought in, but really, the Devils don't have a lot they need to do.
New York Islanders- The Islanders want to sign Ryan Smyth, but he may have other ideas. If he leaves, the Islanders will have to find another scoring forward. Also, an extra defensema would be nice, but really, if the Islanders can keep everyone from this roster, they are good to go.
New York Rangers- The Broadway Blueshirts almost made the conference finals with the roster they had, so only a few changes will be made. A center, such as Ryan Hollweg, or even Petr Prucha (who isn't really a center, but is listed as one on nhl.com), could be moved to make room for exciting youngster Ryan Callahan. Callahan had 4 goals and 6 points in 14 games with the Rangers, and is still eligible for the Calder next year. On defense, everything is set if everyone stays. Unless Al Montoya or Stephen Valiquette is ready, a back-up goalie will be wanted after Kevin Weekes' so-so performance.
Ottawa- If the Sens make it to the Stanley Cup Final (which is actually a good possibility) then they should be happy with most of their roster. Tweaking will be done here and there if they don't make it though. Oleg Saprykin, who underacheived in twelve regular season games and has gone scoreless through 7 playoff games, will likely leave the team, as could extra defenseman Lawrence Nycholat, who only played once for the Sens and had little impact.
Philadelphia- The Flyers will definitley make big moves. Room needs to be made for Ryan Parent, Steve Downie, Alexandre Picard, and, on the possible list, Claude Giroux and Jussi Timonen. No matter who makes it, the Flyers will have a bigger youth movement than Pittsburgh. Lots of changes. In fact, the only sure bets are Simon Gagne, Joni Pitkanen, and Martin Biron.
Pittsburgh- The Pens will need a veteran influx next year. The Pens would like to keep Gary Roberts, but he may go elsewhere. A scoring winger would be nice, and so would another veteran D-man.
San Jose- The Sharks will be focused on their prospects now. But, there are rumors that Patrick Marleau could leave after his poor playoff performance.
St. Louis- It all depends on the draft. Scoring is a key focal point.
Tampa Bay- The Lightning will need defense, and they have the money too spend after telling Ruslan Fedotenko that he will not return.
Toronto- The Leafs need to increase their forward depth, and find a way to rid themselves of Bryan McCabe and Pavel Kubina. Perhaps the Tampa will want their stud back?
Vancouver- The Canucks will be looking to tweak their roster, especially the forwards.
Washington- The Capitals are likely to go through another rebuilding year. They need a playmaking center (or three) to compliment Ovechkin, Semin, and possibly youngster Alexandre Giroux (aren't the Caps tired of that first name?). Kris Beech needs to step up.

Sorry for the rushed finish. I won't be able to add a video just yet, but, tomorrow, I'll analyze the conference finals and try to include some playoff highlights.

5.02.2007

Looking Ahead

I feel so pressured to write about the playoffs, but then I think of the perfect reply. "Why don't you check http://www.nhl.com/, http://www.thehockeynews.com/, http://www.versus.com/, and www. whatever else might have playoff coverage .com?"

Instead, how will each team change during the off-season?

Anaheim- Ignoring all the complicated matters involving free-agents, because I can't remember who's restricted and who isn't, I don't see a whole lot of change that needs to go on here.
Atlanta- The Thrashers will be looking for at least one scoring center. If they can pile up the money, they might be able to snatch Danny Briere or Chris Drury, and they would be a killer combo with Hossa, Kovalchuk, or Kozlov. But if Atlanta resorts to Jeremy Roenick, who, by the way, will play anywhere for any amount of money, don't expect a playoff repeat. Everything else looks tight.
Boston- The B's will be busy. Another scoring winger would help compliment the highly pressured Glen Murray and Marco Sturm, although Brandon Bochenski looked great in his short time with Boston. The defense will also need help, but the biggest need is a goaltender. Boston is giving Hannu Toivenen another chance, but if he falters early, he'll be traded.
Buffalo- The Sabres' biggest worry isn't bringing in new people, but keeping the old. They might like to bring in a back-up goalie who fits better than Ty Conklin, but isn't as starting-worthy as Martin Biron.
Calgary- The Flames need defense now. Kind of strange to say about one of the most defensive teams in the league, but, it's true. They might be able to free up some space if Tony Amonte leaves, and they could use that money to sign a young defenseman. Also, Jamie Maclennan is likely done with the Flames after his stunt in the playoffs, and so the Flames will either bring up Brent Krahn or search for another veteran.
Carolina- The Hurricanes are going to be more focused on young players now. They need to trade at least one of their 9 NHL-experienced defensemen, and could perhaps receive a prospect or draft pick in return. Anson Carter did almost nothing with the Canes, and will likely be sent away.
Chicago- Whatever moves the Hawks make will rely on the draft. Picking first overall will be a good thing, and, they have a chance to make a killer young forward group if they can bear another losing season. My not-very-likely-to-happen-master-plan-that-could-go-above-the-cap is this: The Hawks pick Patrick Kane first overall. He gets signed, and ends up on the second line. They proceed to sign Jack Skille and Jonathan Toews, and here's the lineup. Line 1: Martin Havlat, Michal Handzus, Tuomo Ruutu. Line 2: Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jason Williams. Line 3: Jeffrey Hamilton, Jonathan Toews, Peter Bondra. Line 4: Radim Vrbata, Denis Arkhipov, Jack Skille. Defense 1: Brent Seabrook, Adrian Aucoin. Defense 2: Duncan Keith, Cam Barker. Defense 3: James Wisneiwski, Jim Vandermeer. Goaltenders: Nikolai Khabibulin, Corey Crawford. Now, obviously, this wouldn't work because some forwards (Skille, Vrbata, Hamilton) would not like where they were placed for sure. And, remember, I'm not doing this with the cap in mind. I'm also forgetting quite a few players that the Hawks probably want (Nikita Alexeev, Rene Bourque).
Colorado- The Avs don't need as many changes as it seems. The chemistry came together during that late run, and the only thing left is some touch-up. Jose Theodore probably has to go, seeing as his play was not what they wanted. Antii Laaksonen and Cody McCormick struggled, and one of them could fetch a good price.
Columbus- The Blue Jackets should have major changes after firing GM Doug Mclean. It's any one's guess as to who will go, it could be anyone.
Dallas- The Stars have several moves they can make in order to make the team better. Eric Lindros needs to go, because it's highly doubtful that valuable checking center Jeff Halpern would accept fourth line ice time. Patrik Stefan disappointed and could be moved as well. Nolan Baumgartner doesn't fit into the team's defense very well, and he will be allowed to leave.
Detroit- The Wings might have to move a few forwards in order to keep their team happy. They have an abundance of offensively skilled forwards, and one of them might have to move. Robert Lang is on his way down after a slow season, and wouldn't be happy with occasional third line time. But more likely to move are struggling checking forward Kirk Maltby, who has had his worst offensive years since 95-96 and 96-97, and young forward Tomas Kopecky, who hasn't had a bad season, but never claimed a spot, but could still draw a good price.
Edmonton- Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. Petr Sykora and Ales Hemsky were the only two guys that had OK years, and maybe Roloson too, but still. Expect plenty of changes in the off-season, including a move for Joffrey Lupul. Lupul had a horrible season, scoring as many points as he had goals last year, and made it better only by not turning into a Sergei Samsonov. Samsonov style (after an awful 26-point year): "I wasn't put with the right line-mates, I wasn't given enough playing time." Lupul style (much more respectable after a terrible 28-point season): "I haven't been on my game all year, I lost all my confidence. Edmonton did everything they could for me, but I didn't do enough myself." I have no idea how many moves might be made by this team.
Florida- The Panthers will be average in their moves, picking up someone her, and someone there, but nothing too big. We could see the team moving Alex Auld after his disappointing season, and acquiring another starter since Belfour is kind of old. Another scoring winger would help, as Martin Gelinas can settle into the checking role that he is good at. Another offensive defenseman, or a breakout season from Mike Van Ryn, would help as well.
Los Angeles- All the Kings have to do is build from the inside, and they can be very successful. Goaltending was a huge problem last year. The Kings had to use the following goaltenders, and I'll list the problems each one had. Mathieu Garon: Injury trouble. He actually performed well (32 games, 13 wins, 2.66 GAA, .907 SP%), but he couldn't stay healthy. Dan Cloutier: Injuries and inconsistency. Cloutier had injury problems again, but when he was healthy, he gave up some bad goals and couldn't keep winning. Sean Burke: Too old, small injuries. Burke also got injured occasionally, but mostly, the 40-year-old's age affected his ability to play. Barry Brust: Too young, pressure. A call-up after Garon got injured, too much pressure was put on the young Brust, and he wasn't able to play up to his potential. Yutaka Fukufuji: Way too young. This was going to be Fukufuji's first full year as an AHL back-up behind Brust. Forced into the line-up, Fukufuji displayed potential, but is definitely not ready. What the Kings hope to do now is continue to develop Brust and Fukufuji, get rid of Burke, hope Cloutier and Garon stay healthy, and maybe sign prospect Jonathan Bernier and have him spend time in the AHL as well. Fukufuji should spend more time in the ECHL, even if he has to give up his rookie eligibility.

I'll write the second half of this tomorrow, because I want to get something published.

Correction- Sergei Samsonov had 26 points. Sorry!