A Sad Day In Canada

I have to express the greatest sympathy for all Canuck fans, and especially the close friends and family of Luc Bourdon. It’s hard, even for me, when a talented prospect that I can’t wait to be able to cheer for has reality crash in on their dreams.

I hate to focus on his hockey skills when that’s far from the most important reason to have him alive, but Bourdon was definitely among the prospects I was waiting to see. It’s funny, because I’m so attached to hockey that I can feel this sad when I didn’t know the guy personally, only saw highlight reels of his play, and never even heard his voice.

He definitely had NHL potential, and I’m sure that the majority of the Canucks franchise was eagerly awaiting him to take a steady NHL role next season. His death comes as a shock to everyone who knew of him, and if I was invited to go to his funeral, I’d go all the way to Canada just for that.

Here’s to remembering a great hockey player who was a great guy and someone that the whole world hates to lose.


What's Wrong in Pittsburgh?

That seems to be the question that the entire league is asking.

Storming into the Stanley Cup Finals with a 12-2 record in the postseason, the Pittsburgh Penguins, led by superstars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Marc-Andre Fluery, looked to be the team to beat coming into the season.

Their opponent, the Detroit Red Wings, wasn't looking _as_ hot with a 12-4 record. They struggled in two games against Nashville before Chris Osgood saved the series, swept Colorado, but then nearly collapsed against Dallas after taking a 3-0 lead and blowing games 4 and 5. People knew this team was a force to be reckoned with, but they were expecting the reckoning from the Pens to be pretty smooth.

*So why is Detroit ahead 2-0???*

The answer is not that Sid the Kid and Geno are folding under the pressure of the playoffs. On the contraire, Crosby had several great chances against Osgood yesterday and Malkin only looks bad on the stats sheet.

The answer that should satisfy everybody comes in two parts. One, the Wings have a much, much stronger defense (compare Lidstrom, Rafalski, and Kronwall to Gonchar, Whitney, and Orpik) with which shutting down Sid and Geno is not a problem. The top four in Detroit did the same against Jason Arnott and Alex Radulov in Nashville, Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny in Colorado, and Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro in Dallas. Along with that, Detroit's infamous 'Grind Line' of Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, and Darren McCarty is well-renowned for shutting down the opponents' top scoring line.

The second half of the answer is that the Wings have much more experience than the Penguins. Consider this: On the Penguins roster, the only players to have played on Stanley Cup teams are checking winger Gary Roberts and depth defenseman Daryl Sydor, who has been pushed out of the lineup by younger, faster players. Backup goalie Ty Conklin was in the Cup Finals with Edmonton in 2006, but only played the end of game 1 and gave up a rather soft goal due to miscommunication with defender Jason Smith. Not exactly what the Penguins want.
On the other side, the Red Wings' roster features 10 players (Chelios, Datsyuk, Draper, Hasek, Holmstrom, Lidstrom, Maltby, McCarty, Osgood, and Rafalski) and all but Rafalski played together on the same Red Wings team that won the Cup in 2002. So, if you consider the best players on each team to be the ones who've been this far before, it's 3 against 10 in favor of the Wings. Not very good odds for the SuperPens.

Now, it looks very much now like the Wings will add another Cup to their resume. Some bloggers and papers out there have said that this is a pretty nice time to give up on the Penguins, and that maybe youth shouldn't be the face of the NHL just yet.

I claim just the opposite. Yes, experience can beat youth, and we might be seeing some more old teams capturing the Cup in the near future. But the league will attract more interest next year, and that will be because a group of young men with an average age of about 25 went all the way to the top and nearly captured a championship that a lot of 35-year-olds would love to have right now. Combine that with how fans of other sports love the winning ways of youthful players like Kobe Bryant, Eli Manning, and Jose Reyes, the NHL has a few players that deserve that status as well. Two-thirds of those players are currently on the Penguins (Crosby and Malkin, as opposed to Ovechkin).

And as a bonus, Detroit has Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Jiri Hudler, and Valterri Filpulla playing key roles. Each one is under 25 as well.

It'll be interesting to see how the Penguins perform against the Wings once they are in their home building. If they can pull out two wins, we'll have a very interesting series. The Pens would have to get at least one road win, however, in order to win the Cup, with Detroit owning home ice advantage.

That's all for now. Here's for a great game 3 (that I finally get to watch)!

STARS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Just an interesting thought about the salary cap...

I don’t know that this matters all that much, but it seems like the salary cap floor (which teams have to spend above) could actually lead to teams losing money.

The cap keeps rising every year, and the floor rises with it.

But look at a team like the Blues or the Islanders, who are having trouble earning money due to attendance problems and such. Say one year, the cap rises to $60 Million and the cap floor ends up at $34 Mil. Also, say that in the year before, the Blues had a record low for attendance and in total, only brought in $32 million.

Now you’ve got a team which needs to spend $2 million more than it actually can just to keep a complete roster and not fall out of the NHL. If the extra money couldn’t be found, and no one can say that $2 million bucks is just going to be lying about waiting to be picked up, then the franchise would collapse, and we’d have to relocate it.

There’s probably a good number of you who would have no problem seeing the Hamilton Blues or the Winnipeg Islanders (? Winnipeg is on solid ground…might have to change that) Anyways, what I’m saying is that even though some of you would be fine with three more Canadian teams, and maybe even a couple of you out there would love seeing a franchise in Oklamhoma, where they’ve never seen ice unless it’s in a fridge.

But if the NHL has teams relocating left and right just because they can’t afford to reach the salary cap floor with low attendance, it could ultimately cause instability in the league, and an eventual shutdown of the NHL. We could see another WHA-style league form, where there’s no Cap, only 15 teams, and all the star players head over there to get $15 mil. a year. That would collapse too, I bet, and we’d end up having hockey as just a beer-league or peewee sport. And I can’t imagine any of you being happy with that.

Now, being 14, I don’t really think Mr. Bettman’s going to say, OMG, this kid has an amazing realization, we should immediately change the league. So for now, just keep this blog in mind, and in the next ten years, when the Hamilton Blues announce that they have to move to Las Vegas due to salary problems, remember what I said. You Hamiltonians would have to put up a harder fight than the people in Nashville, who were essentially the main reason that we still have a Nashville Predators in the league.

I think game 2 is going to Pittsburgh, 3-1, by the way. Malkin gets two points.



The Draft

It's the day everyone (except the Wings and Penguins, and their fans) is waiting for, now that most teams have been eliminated from the playoffs.

It's the day that young players from all over the world can either fulfill their potential to reach the NHL, or sadly walk away, realizing that their abilities just didn't fit in with a team.

I can't really predict a top 5, or which team is going to take what player, because I've already read the THN Draft Preview, and checked out the ISS ratings on www.hockeysfuture.com. I definitely think Stamkos is going No. 1, and he'll essentially replace Brad Richards in Tampa. I'm seeing a potential LA jersey on Alex Pietrangelo's back, but Drew Doughty will likely be the one to go No. 2.

I'd love to see the Stars get a great pick, but the most we can hope for is a solid second rounder. Mitch Wahl and Krystopher Berglund would fit in pretty well, but both would take at least 2-3 years to reach their potential.

Good luck to all the potential draftee's out there. I hope to join you in 2012! (All of you that are silently laughing at me, that's just because you've never seen me play hockey.)

Game 1 is going to be 2-1 Detroit, by the way.

STARS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


It's Over

It's official. Two nights ago, the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 in game 6 of the Western Conference Finals to get their 12th win of the postseason and clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

I can't believe I recovered that fast.

However, just because our last game was a rough loss at home, the season was very enjoyable overall. From a strong regular season, to an unexpected first-round win against the former Stanley Cup Champions, a hard-fought win against the best team down the stretch, and the joy of watching the team almost come back against the Presidents Trophy winners after going down 0-3, the season was awesome.

Marty Turco had another strong regular season, and then finally shook all of the post-season critics still citing a first round loss last year by reaching the Conference Finals this year. Marty's a great goalie, and I'm hoping that he'll be with us when our next strong playoff run (which could even be next year) and someday lead us to the Cup. Marty, you get the Completely-Awesome-Goalie Award, because you rock.

Brenden Morrow proved that he's an unbeatable captain. After a tough year last year, when he played only 40 games due to injury (and was on pace for the same 32 goals that he got this year), he had a career year of 74 points in 82 games. His usual brusqueness was evidenced by his 105 PIM's, and his leader lessons from Mike Modano have obviously brushed off. His determined speech before game 4 of the Detroit series led to a quote from Mike Babcock, saying that Morrow was 'the kind of captain you want on your team.' Obviously, he likes Nicky Lidstrom a little more, but even then, it's a great comment from a great coach. Brenden, you the the Fiery-Leader Award for keeping us alive in the playoffs.

Mike Ribeiro came out of his shell and proved that he could be a reliable No. 1 center, pairing with Morrow to score 27 goals, 56 assists, and 83 points in 76 games. Although the duo never found a steady right-winger, Ribs meshed well with Jere Lehtinen, Antti Miettinen, and for a short time, Chris Conner. Consistently criticized for consistency, Mike had a career year, and looks to be a strong Star for a few years now. Ribs gets the Now-I'm-Here Award for finally showing his skills.

Mike Modano had a terrific year, despite having second, and later third line ice time. His usual partner in crime, Jere Lehtinen, played well when he was healthy, and Mo finished with 21 goals and 57 points in 82 games. Still the face of the franchise, Modano showed his selflessness by quietly accepting the loss of ice time and was still a vocal leader in the locker room. He had a strong playoff, with 5 power-play goals and one game-winner, and was a big reason for the Stars' strong season. Mo gets the I'm-Not-Done-Yet award for having a solid season despite his age.

Sergei Zubov had an injury-filled season, but he was still a great contributor. His point totals would have pro-rated to reach around 60-70 points, his usual numbers. He missed the first round of the playoffs, but immediately stepped up when he came back in the second round, getting a game-winning assist in his first game back. He's getting to the point where his numbers might lower, and he probably won't be seen as a big star, but he'll be a fan favorite until he leaves the game. Zubie gets the I-Fall-Down-But-I-Get-Up-Again Award for his injury comeback.

Brad Richards was an interesting story this year. He was acquired at the trade deadline from Tampa, and finished the regular season with questionable results. His first game included five assists, but he finished the season with just 11 in 12 games as a Star. However, a playoff year of 15 points in 18 games showed that Brad fits in Dallas, and hopefully, he can be a main contributor next year. Richards recieves the Awesome-New-Guy Award for being a key acquisition in a trade.

Stephane Robidas had a great season. Always seen as a solid top-6 D-man, but never shining, Robie stepped up in the playoffs when Phillipe Boucher and Sergei Zubov both went down, and had a great post-season. With just 26 points during 82 regular season games, Stephane had 11 points in 18 playoff matches, his best ever contribution. Robidas gets my playoff MVP award for finally showing that he can be a star with the Stars.

There are so many more bright spots to the Stars' season. Matt Niskanen, Nicklas Grossman, and Mark Fistric all shone in their rookie seasons and in the playoffs. Niklas Hagman was a revelation, scoring a career-high 27 goals while playing on the second and third lines all year. Mattias Norstrom was largely inconspicuous on the blue-line during the regular season, but had a strong playoff year and looks to be another smart addition to one of the best defensive corps in the league. Toby Petersen played just 8 regular season games, garnering 3 assists, but was called upon during the Detroit series and performed the key role of shutting down Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk while the Stars won games 4 & 5. Steve Ott, the antagonist, showed that he could fight and score, turning into one of the best 20-point 100-PIM guys in the league.

I could go on and on.

The year is over now, and the offseason will probably be spent trying to keep the majority of the team together. I imagine that the only losses will be winger Antti Miettinen, who was inconsistent, but still one of my favorite guys, and likely one of Brad Winchester or Toby Petersen, each being fourth line guys who might want more time elsewhere. Johan Holmqvist might also be let go after barely playing with the team after he arrived the Richards trade.

If I was the Stars' GM, I would take the regular season step by step. In the draft, I would go for someone like James Arniel or Mitch Wahl in the second round (the first rounder went to LA for Norstrom), with Krystopher Berglund another possible pick. Offense should be the main goal, although another defense prospect to wait on would be fine. The goaltending is shored up, with Marty Turco still going strong, Tobias Stephan in the wings waiting for some lessons, and Richard Bachman coming off a solid college season. That's how I would face the young guys.

In the free agent and trading area, I would keep a largely low profile. I know that all of us fans got frustrated with that last off-season, but I think it would do us good to keep the team together. An interesting move would be signing Mike Ryan or Ryan Malone to replace Miettinen, in case one of Konstantin Pushkarev, James Neal, or Vojtek Polak can't step up in time. Me being the creative type, I also thought that trading Dan Jancevski and Miettinen for Christian Ehrhoff would be kind of interesting. It wouldn't work out, though, largely because Zubov and Boucher are almost sure to come back, and our rookie trio on the back end doesn't need another trip to the minors. On that thought, however, it'll be interesting to see what Brett Hull and Les Jackson do when they realize that Zubov, Boucher, Norstrom, Robidas, Daley, Niskanen, Grossman, and Fistric are all top-six material. A trade involving Daley or Norstrom, and a minor-leaguer, for a scoring winger such as Ryan Malone or even Marian Hossa, is an interesting prospect. I know I'm ranting on, but that's me for you, the ultimate Stars fan.

Regarding the Stanley Cup Finals, I'm calling the Penguins to go all the way. 5 games, no kidding. I think that with Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, Malone, Sykora, Whitney, Gonchar, Letang, Staal, Tyler Kennedy, and Pascal Dupuis all scoring, and Jarkko Ruutu coming in with the fluke goals and Sean-Avery-like beastliness of agitation, the Red Wings won't stand a chance. The scoring depth of the Penguins is just too much for Detroit to match. Beyond Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen (injured, possibly in for the Finals though), and Jiri Hudler, the Wings can only hope that Valterri Filpulla and Darren McCarty can light the lamp a few times. That's 11 and a half against 6 (Filpulla and McCarty's halves combine for a whole) in the goal department. On defense, the Wings have the advantage with Lidstrom, Kronwall, and Stuart forming the top three compared to Gonchar, Whitney, and Brooks Orpik.

That's all I have in me today. I'll probably blog again after game 1 of the Finals.

P.S., good job by the Sharks for re-signing J.R. He'll be key in next year's run to the Finals (oh man, did I really call that? I think I did...)

STARS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Journey

has ended for the Philadelphia Flyers. Pittsburgh creamed their crosstown counterparts 6-0 in Game 5 of this Pennsylvanian Civil War. Fortunately, no Montreal-esque riots occurred.

The SuperPens have earned the right to be in the Stanley Cup Finals for 2008, and honestly, who didn't think they could make it? The only other team from the East that could have been a match was the Montreal Canadiens, and the fact is that Carey Price just wasn't ready compared to Marc-Andre Fluery.

Now, either team coming from the West has strong goaltending. Some might say that this is a worry for the Penguins, who's strong point is the number of goals on the scoreboard.
Look again, and you'll see that Martin Biron, Henrik Lundqvist, and Martin Gerber weren't exactly weak goaltenders either. Lundqvist is a Vezina candidate, as a matter of fact. So the fact that the Penguins had five players with five goals or more, and only five players without a goal, is quite impressive.

So my prediction is that, assuming they don't win the Cup, the Stanley Cup Final will go to seven games because the Pittsburgh Penguins can score so much.

On another thought: The 33-year magic didn't apply to the Flyers, who could have been the second team to come back from 0-3 against Pittsburgh (the '75 Islanders were the first). The question is, will Dallas be the second team to come back from 0-3 against Detroit? They're halfway there, having taken the series to game 6, which is in Dallas tonight. Can they do it? Find out at 8:00 P.M. ET, exclusively on Versus, the (not-so-awesome) broadcasting-rights owner of the NHL.

STARS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!



By a show of hands, how many people expected the Stars to win?

*Uncomfortable Silence, no hands*

How many expected a 5-game series for the Wings?

*All hands slowly raise, each person embarrassed of their previous boldness or doubtfulness*

Well, it's alright. I was among you. I forgive you.

The Stars pulled off a rough-and-tumble Game 5 win over Detroit by a score of 2-1. Joel Lundqvist and Trevor Daley, two Stars who haven't had a strong playoff offense-wise, scored for the Stars. Jiri Hudler scored the only goal for the Red Wings.

There were so many reasons why the game went the Stars' way. Yes, there were a few blown calls. However, many of them went against the Stars. Brenden Morrow's legs were whacked out from under him by Kris Draper (I think, the jersey appeared to say 32, but the only Red Wing with #32 is Brad Ference, and he didn't even play in the minors this season, and Draper is 33) while Morrow was away from the play, skating to the point. Mike Ribeiro's first-period breakaway was ruined by a Red Wings player diving for the puck and taking down Ribeiro as well. The Stars recieved a 5-on-4 power-play but should have instead gotten a penalty shot. The other way, a few Red Wings went down and there were some times where maybe a Stars player should have headed to the box. However, each team played hard, and the Stars ended out on top.

I have to love Brad Richards' set-up for Daley's goal. Covered by one-and-a-half (another Wing was looking on nearby) Detroit defenders, Richards sent the puck between his legs with barely a glance to check if anyone was there. Daley took advantage of the free space and fired the puck past Osgood. Ozzie looked a little shaky on Lundqvist's goal, but regardless, it was a goal. Morrow had a great chance later, but that was most of the offense.

I'll leave it to the rest of you to blog about the goaltending, which was amazing. In the mean time, I'll be waiting for Game 6, back in Dallas, laughing at all you Wings who were repeating the Stars' horrible record at the Joe in hopes of intimidating us. At the same time, I'll be very nervous.

STARS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!



So deprived....

It's like being held without food.

Tomorrow's game between Detroit and Dallas will be the first hockey game I've been able to view on TV since, well, Detroit and Dallas played in February. I tried watching a Penguins game on NBC, but the screen was so distorted, I could barely see the puck. I'm going to force myself to watch the game tomorrow simply because it's the Stars playing.

I don't have regular cable or anything, so I'm limited to the semi-weekly games on NBC, which I often can't see because of other events happening on a Sunday afternoon. If the Stanley Cup Final ends up on Versus for nearly every game, then I'll beg for NHL Center Ice online.

If the Stars make it to the Finals, I'll start begging my friends to let me hang out and use their TV.

It's going to be a rough wait to get to Texas, where I'll finally have cable, and I'll get to watch the Stars regularly. *Sigh*

STARS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(P.s. I might have been the first person to wear a Stars sweatshirt, hat, and Stars-colored shorts around Yankee Stadium. If my luck holds out, I'll be the only person to have done that.)


Thoughts on the CF's

It's interesting, really.

The Conference Finals are normally the most intense and exciting series' of the playoffs, barring the Cup Finals. And while there's no denying that Evgeni Malkin's play against the Flyers (and basically every other team) is thrilling to the extent of *Mario-esque*, a 3-0 start to each series is a little disappointing.

If you look at each 0-3 team, and their play in the previous series', you'd expect them to put up more of a challenge. The Flyers managed a 7-game series win over the upstart Capitals, and then, as underdogs, took down the favored Canadiens in 6 games. The Stars, on the other hand, won a 6-game series against the former Stanley Cup Champs, the Ducks, before winning a very hard-fought series against the powerhouse San Jose Sharks.

So....why are they down 0-3?

For the Flyers' case, I think they have just run into the storm that is the SuperPens. The Penguins, currently 11-1 in their playoff run, are led by the incredible talents of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Marian Hossa. Philadelphia's top scorers Daniel Briere, Mike Richards, and Mike Knuble just cannot match them. Marc-Andre Fleury has so far out-played Martin Biron, but each goalie is superb. On defense, the Flyers had a small advantage until they lost top D-man Kimmo Timonen to injury. The Penguins have a solid group led by Sergei Gonchar.

On the Stars side, however, I've been rendered clueless. For game 1, the excuse could be made that the Stars were tired from the long game 6 against the Sharks. But to have another days' rest, and then lose a close game, rest again, and lose big? That's a little strange. The Stars have Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro to lead the offense, and Sergei Zubov and Stephane Robidas are top blue-liners. Marty Turco has been excellent in goal. I just couldn't figure out why we were gettting such results, until now.

Listening to game 4 live (including right now), it's obvious that Chris Osgood is the deciding factor so far. The Stars had 6-7 chances that should have gone in, including a clink off the post from Nik Grossman, fresh off his first career playoff goal. Even on that play, however, Ozzie was quick to grab on to the puck and prevent a rebound. He had several other key saves that, without them, the Stars would be up probably around 2-0 or even 3-0.

I've called this game as 5-3 Stars. I kind of doubt that this will happen now, but we've looked (or at least sounded) pretty good.

Like I said in my last blog, the Stars will always be my team. We finally had a great run in the playoffs, and we can't be criticized too much if we get swept tonight. We've still got power left in the tank for a win, but this just might be the Red Wings year to make the Finals (and lose).

Thanks for reading!

STARS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I'm still behind Dallas.

Yeah, I know how much I vented about San Jose having an impossible chance to come back from 0-3, and I know that they lost. I think we can do this, but if not, then it's alright.

Yes, that was me typing. If the Stars don't win this series, I'll be ok.


I bleed green and gold here, people. I'm a Stars fan stuck in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, without any hockey on TV. There are no other Stars fans here. My school principal is a Rangers fan. My friends are all Devils or Penguins fans, and one guy likes the Red Wings. I'm toast up here.

The Stars will always be my team, even if they get swept in this series. I'm proud of my boys. We took down the defending Cup Champs, and the best team down the stretch. If we lose, and we still have a chance (One of the Mike's from Mike & Mike in the Morning actually picked a Pens-Stars Final earlier today), then I can say that we only went out to the best.

I bleed green and gold. I cry green and gold. My room is green and gold. My clothes are green and gold.



So close....

Well, that really sucks.

The Stars did everything they could to get a win in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, but it amounted to a tough loss on the road by a score of 2-1.

Man, even watching the highlights, that hurt.

Great job by Robidas to tie the game at 1, he's been amazing.

Why, oh why, couldn't we score? I guess the better question is why, oh why, is Chris Osgood so good right now? Honestly, Osgood isn't a star goalie, but he's having an incredible playoff performance, and I guess I respect him for that.

Mike Modano had a crazy chance to score in the third, racing in on a puck dump, catching a Wings defender by surprise, and spiraling to make the backhand attempt. Chris Osgood caught the puck with his left pad, and the Stars might've had the wind taken out after that one.

Alright, here's the video of Ribeiro's slash on Osgood. Yes, it's a slash. It's retaliation from Mike and he probably should've just exchanged some words. However, Ozzie's reaction is pretty dramatic. I'm guessing that there was at least some of a dive in that. I mean, come on. The guy probably makes saves with that part of his body regularly and he doesn't go down like he's been shot. Check the vid.

After you watch the whole thing, go back to 1:06 at the overhead view. Chris doesn't get it in the head or the neck, and it's obviously too high to take his legs out. His fall is a little later and I think that even if it hurt, he overplayed it way to much. Not to mention, he's back up and celebrating with his boys after a minute or so. The announcers for CBC didn't even think he was hurt, and they're unbiased for sure. Don Cherry was conveniently unbiased as well, but seemed to lean towards the act being fair play. Osgood definitely attempted to hit Ribeiro. I don't think he meant to give him a head shot, seeing as he wasn't facing Mike, but he definitely intended to hit him, and Mikey hit him back. It's like to kids who are angry at each other, and one is more cunning and decides to act hurt. Leave it alone, Colin, and let the teams play the series. A few more fans going after you wouldn't hurt.

I'm still behind the boys of green and gold, so I'll post again tomorrow or after Game 3.

STARS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Btw, check out my sister's blog at http://theartisticpediatricheartsurgeon.blogspot.com/ She wants to debate about stuff, but she needs some inspiration, and someone to go against her. Current topic: Legality of selling cigarettes. Post a comment so she can start arguing. Adios!)



The Pittsburgh Penguins have dominated every team they've faced in the playoffs.

They swept the Ottawa Senators, Stanley Cup Finalists from a year ago. Injury-riddled they might have been, but the Senators should have had more of a chance.

They took the Rangers to 3-0, before giving up game 4. They then won game 5 in OT, thanks to a two-goal performance by Marian Hossa, ironically a former Sens winger.

Now, in the first battle of the Pennsylvanian War, the Super-Pens dominated, led by the heroic efforts of Evgeni Malkin, who scored twice, including the game-winner. Sid the Kid scored a goal as well, and it was Petr Sykora who scored the opening goal. In on that first goal was, who else, Evgeni Malkin.

Now, I'm not suggesting that the Final will be Detroit vs. Pittsburgh for sure, but if it is, it will be very hard to award the Conn Smythe Trophy, for playoff MVP. It's been interesting to note that three of the past four players to win the Smythe have been young, heroic talents on a rising team. J.S. Giguere's superb goaltending led the Anaheim Ducks to a 7-game loss in the Final. Brad Richards was the most dominant of Tampa Bay's young Big Three when they won the Cup in '04. Cam Ward was the biggest reason that Carolina won the Cup in '06, although many people say that Chris Pronger, veteran defender for the Oilers, should have won the trophy instead. Scott Niedermayer, who took home the Conn Smythe last year, has been the most recent true veteran to lead his team. And even then, some people were saying that Giguere or young players Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry should have won the Conn Smythe.

All this leads up to the fact that both Detroit and Pittsburgh have great young players that are leading them all the way this year. Evgeni Malkin, of course, has worked wonders for the Penguins in every series so far. Johan Franzen, on the other side, leads the post-season with 12 goals, including the winner against the Stars on Friday. Between these two performances, voters will have a tough time choosing who was more of an MVP.

I'm taking off now. I'll post again tomorrow after the Stars game.

STARS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Brunnstrom Sweepstakes

The Dallas Stars have won the Fabian Brunnstrom sweepstakes, as the talented free agent Swede has signed a two-year entry-level contract through the 09-10 season.

Honestly, I didn't even know who the guy was a few months ago.

Then I heard that a lot of teams in the NHL were sending a representative of some sort to investigate said Brunnstrom and see if he could be signed. I thought it would be interesting to see the Stars sign him, at the time. Dallas normally didn't sign many undrafted free agents, and I thought this guy might have some potential.

That was on the day teams started taking interest. Then I forgot about him.

Moving to now, apparently our fabulous Fabian has taken Farjestads BK Karlstad by storm, and has exciting many NHL fans who follow other leagues. On a team where only David Cullen, Jonas Hoglund, and Rickard Wallin would be recognizable names to most American fans, Brunnstrom led the team in assists (28) and placed fifth in points (37). Although having 9 goals doesn't smell of superstar-in-the-making, Brunnstrom has electrifying potential.
Watch this:

See? The kid ain't half bad.

Brunnstrom has the kind of game that isn't exactly Gretzky's 2.75 steps ahead, but at least a step ahead most guys. That last goal in the video, on the zoom in, the guys he goes through are standing stock still. He knew the pass was coming, and he knew he could put the puck in before anyone expected it.

Stars fans, be excited about the now, and about the future. Yes, we're still fighting against the Wings to reach the Cup Final. But with our excellent tandem of co-GM's, one can focus on the current games while the other makes important moves for our future, like this signing. Brunnstrom will be a huge key soon, and hopefully he'll have a good showing in his first season.

This is likely one of the rare days that I'll post twice. I had the extra time with limited mobility from a sprained ankle today. But most often, I'll barely have time to write once a day for half of this length.
Adios, and good luck to Brunnstrom!

STARS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've returned...

...from the computer-dead. I've had a new computer for a few months now, but for some reason I just haven't posted on this blog. A lot of my recent writing ended up on http://fans.nhl.com/hockeyfreek22.
However, talking with some other people strong with hockey recently, I'll start this page up again.
So, let's get started...
It's the Stanley Cup playoffs already, and we're down to the Final Four, or, to steal a College Basketball phrase, the Frozen Four. Pittsburgh faces Philadelphia in what should be a furious battle of Pennsylvania.
In that series, the key will be goaltending. Both teams can score (but Pittsburgh has a slight edge) and both teams are tough (Philly gets the nod there), so it will depend on who can keep out the goals.
An interesting thing to watch is Philadelphia's defense. Kimmo Timonen was the main anchor, but he has been lost to injury. Will someone else step up, like the underacheiving Jason Smith? Or will they collapse without a stud, and allow Pittsburgh a quick series?
The main attraction in the Conference Finals, IMHO, is the match between the Dallas Stars and the Detroit Red Wings. Yes, I'm a Stars fan.
I'm pretty frustrated about the loss last night, but I'll live. I definitely agree with the words of Brenden Morrow (Interview snippet from http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/15902-Stars-captain-Morrow-says
"I think we had a good two or three shifts to start the game, but then the ice got tilted the other way."
No kidding. I'm sure that a 4-1 loss wasn't exactly what most Stars fans were expecting. However, I believe that the Stars can come back. Marty Turco has a horrible record in 'The Joe', but if he, and the rest of the team, can shake that mentality, a win is definitely possible.
As for all of you who are saying that the Stars have no match for Johan Franzen, think about this. Last night, Franzen scored. So did Morrow. Each player is the leading goal-getter on his respective team. Also, each one is probably the best playoff player in general, other than Turco and Lidstrom on each team. Just think about that before you say that the Stars suck and the Wings are better.
Here's 10 of the best goals from the Stars' 07-08 season.

Those are pretty sick...Hagman's got some wicked hands, way under appreciated.

So, that's my first post for now. Soon, I'll get my own URL for this, and then I'll post more consistently. Adios!

STARS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!