Sunday, May 31, 2009
Crosby needs some help, like ... maybe his linemates finishing the chances he creates.
*The Jordan Staal-Tyler Kennedy-Matt Cooke line has been fantastic since the midway point of the Capitals series. While they haven't scored much, they are dominating puck control and cycling like homeless man's Sedins. Should the rest of the team adopt a dump-and-chase philosophy?
*Is there a more dangerous guy in the last minute of a period than Johan Franzen? He scored toward the end of the second period in Game 1 and nearly had goals in the waning moments of both periods tonight.
*Evgeni Malkin missed another golden opportunity again, this time off of a one-timer chance. With Crosby fighting through checks and lackluster play from his linemates, Malkin has to make a play in the third period.
*No doubt about it, the Penguins need luck in the third period. I don't feel great about this at all. Go Pens.
(This was going to be a bullet list but blogspot can't seem to handle that right now. Am I blaming my own HTML shortcomings on blogspot? Yes.)
Saturday, May 30, 2009
- Naturally, this might stem from my Penguins fanboy status ... but I think the Penguins generally outplayed the Red Wings tonight. Especially in the second period.
- During the first half of the game, I braced myself for penalty whining. The Penguins did, indeed, get away with some penalties (particularly on Evgeni Malkin's failed breakaway).
- Chris Kunitz was a force on the forecheck. Darren Helm is a star in the making. If Niklas Kronwall was an NFL team, he'd be the San Diego Chargers. (Seriously, do officials need to wait until he injures Malkin while leaving his feet before they finally call a charge on him? Pens fans were [rightly] complaining about this last year.)
- Marc Andre Fleury wasn't awful but he still needs to be better for the Penguins to win this series. In broken play situations, he seems to go flat to the ice surface far too easily, giving up a ton of net in the process. That, and his penchant for playing the puck poorly, are two potentially fatal flaws in his game.
- The Penguins will probably find themselves in the same 0-2 hole as last year, but what's more frustrating is that for at least one game, the Pens seemed like they belonged this year. As a fan, though, that almost makes this loss tougher to swallow.
Let's take a look at the big storylines of this Finals re-match.
However, I'm one of those Penguins fans who was happy to see him leave (although strictly from a salary cap stand point). Simply put, Hoser is a great player who is not worth $7 million. We can gnash our teeth debating that point, but there are only a few players who can justify a cap-busting contract. Can you say that Crosby-Malkin-Hossa would be worth having awful depth for the next five years?
Surely, the guy's face kind of pisses me off. Will I scream to the heavens if Brooks Orpik knocks the shit out of him in the slot? Absolutely.
But Hossa didn't come to Pittsburgh by choice, he was traded there. People act like Hossa was a long time teammate but he came to the team toward the end of the season, barely played any regular season games and then had a fantastic run in the post-season. It was great to see Sidney Crosby have a great winger for once, but let's face it: losing Ryan Malone was more of an "emotional" blow than Hossa ever was.
The Penguins: favorites???
Going in to the series, it seemed obvious to me that the Red Wings should be the favorite.
1. They have home ice
2. Let's face it, they fucking creamed the Penguins last year.
3. Don't forget, Johan Franzen wasn't healthy for much of the SCF. So the Red Wings basically are going into this series with the team that beat Pittsburgh plus Marian Hossa AND Johan Franzen.
Yet, a surprising amount of people are predicting the Penguins. I will root relentlessly for Pittsburgh and be depressed if they lose, but if I had to put my (future, imaginary, candy-based) house on the line my pick would be the Red Wings. (Sigh)
Penguins fans really don't like Osgood. I'm on record for calling him a queef.
That being said, watching NHL on the Fly's press conference coverage Friday night made me realize that Osgood probably has to answer the same goddamn tired questions over and over and over again. Seriously, if you were him, wouldn't you start douching every one just out of the monotony of the "are you the weak link?" line of questioning?
Jesus I better stop or I'll start empathizing with the Keebler Elf/non-Blue Smurf looking motherfucker.
(Oh, and PLEASE stop calling him a Hall of Famer. If you barely hold onto a starting goaltending job against Ty fucking Conklin, you're not worthy of being in the HoF. Sorry, brah.)
The Health Factor
One of the bullet points MSM members have been using is the relative "health advantage" the Penguins have going into this series. I find this to be a heavily overrated idea. After watching almost every second of the Penguins' playoff run, I can say that the Penguins have some nice support players who show the ability to maintain a high level of play throughout a game. That being said, when it comes to scoring goals, the team is highly dependent on their two super-duper-stars.
Nicklas Lidstrom isn't 100 percent but Sergei Gonchar is pretty banged up too. The Hurricanes weren't able to take advantage of Gonchar's bum knee, but it was obvious that the Russian veteran couldn't skate quite as swiftly in a few odd man rush/broken play situations.
Obviously, the Red Wings have some depth guys who are banged up, but teams that make it this deep into the playoffs are almost inevitably beat up. Considering the fact that the Penguin vigorously block shots, we can assume they have some guys playing hurt too.
Don't get me wrong, the Penguins might be a bit healthier but it's a tremendously exaggerated advantage.
In the salary cap era, that is far from shocking. But the Red Wings can go into this series thinking "if we can hold Malkin-Crosby to a draw, we have a bunch of depth players who can steal a game."
Hopefully, Sid and Geno have shown skeptical hockey fans that they are worthy of the immense hype they've received. Annoying message board people will never go away unless they win a Cup, but the Penguins showed me plenty. Even if they have to settle for the Prince of Wales trophy for a second straight year.
Sadly, Red Wings have defense and team play like no team the Penguins have seen in the playoffs.
After watching almost every second of the Penguins' playoff run, I can say that the Penguins have some nice support players who show the ability to maintain a high level of play throughout a game. That being said, when it comes to scoring goals, the team is highly dependent on their two super-duper-stars.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Every time this commercial comes on my TV, I cannot help but stare at it like a slack-jawed idiot. It's like when a beautiful woman walks into a room, only it's OK to burn holes through it.
(Despite a disturbing creative crisis, there will be some kind of SCF preview tomorrow so take a look before Game 1.)
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Maybe. If you would have told Penguins fans they'd make the SCF in February, most would have looked at you funny and mocked your turtleneck. Yet here they are after a resounding sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Some scattered thoughts from the playoffs:
- It's not fair to blame Cam Ward and Eric Staal for the series loss. Both had some low moments (Staal being held to a mere sprinkling of points; Ward allowing that ugly Max Talbot goal), but they need some help. Ray Whitney was abysmal. The Hurricanes' D couldn't handle Malkin or Crosby. Media members always want storylines, but a lot of times one team is just deeper, meaner and more talented.
- After witnessing Rob Scuderi limiting Alex Ovechkin toward the end of their second round series and playing very well against the Hurricanes, I was prompted to check his contract status. Rut roh: he's an unrestricted free agent for 2009-10. Could this be a problem for the Penguins?
- Rudy Kelly rightly pointed out that the Penguins might have been wrong when they passed up talents like Jonathan Toews and Phil Kessel to draft Jordan Staal. Still, Kessel is injury-prone and Toews might be too great to keep under contract (or as the third banana). Staal's lack of finishing touch can be really frustrating, but he's still an extremely impressive player who's willing to play a lesser role alongside the Penguins other blue chip centers.
- This year's Penguins team is more of an adventure than last year's runner-up. Last year, they didn't even go to a game 6 (until the Red Wings claimed the Cup on Mellon Ice, the bastards). Yet this year's scrappy bunch almost missed the playoffs, went down 0-2 to the Capitals and won a Game 7 on the road.
This time around, it seems like everyone is willing to put it on the line. Even Miroslav fucking Satan looks like he's expending energy out on the ice each game. They're also less "stacked" without Hossa and some other solid supporting players, making them about as close to an underdog as a team with Crosby and Malkin can be.
Will some extra sand paper and an extra year of experience be enough to overcome (probable opponent) Detroit? Probably not. But either way this Penguins team is special.
Monday, May 25, 2009
After playing approximately one billion versus games in NHL '09, the most recent update appeared to be way too frustrating to deal with. Every goal I allowed sent my blood pressure to Zdeno Chara heights and even prompted my immature (and unintended) semi-destruction of an X-Box controller. Bad times.
Somewhere along the way, one of two things happened:
a) I figured out how to play under the new restrictions
b) Subtle tweaks were made to avoid the first polygonal hockey-based homicide.
Whatever the case may be, aside from losing an OT game I went on a 7-game winning streak (and a conversely unimpressive vagina-less streak, but fuck you for saying that). While you cannot teach pure, sublime irrelevant video game talent (ugh), here are a few tips for adapting to the latest update:
1. Zen hockey
My winning streak began while chastising my friend for giving up an opportunity for bowling and poontang. Despite being partially distracted by aimless telephone banter, things just started to click.
It made me realize that a Buddhist-like detachment is necessary to get any level of enjoyment out of the latest edition of the game (since EA decided to be dicks and suck all the fun out of playing online). This also goes for winning strategy, though: it's best to summon your inner- Jacques Lemaire and play snooze-fest hockey. You know that urge to turn Dan Boyle into Bobby Orr? Might want to pick your spots there, champ.
2. Avoid using defensemen whenever possible
Perhaps this is just me, but damn if I don't get burned by cheap shit whenever I try to play defense ... with defensemen. It's much better to miss a check/clog a passing lane with a forward, I've found.
Of course, that strategy's great until the game decides that you're not going to be able to switch to a forward no matter how many times you press the button, swear at children or throw dogs at the TV. You made me do it, EA.
3. Fear stick-lifts more than unwanted pregnancies
In the world of NHL 09, every ham-and-egger can stick lift like Pavel Datsyuk. When I was first getting used to the latest update, I'd say that 80 percent of the goals I allowed were based on my opponent lifting my D's stick and scoring a vein-popping-out-in-your-head type goal.
Every time there's going to be an obvious puck battle, get ready for some button "A" mashing. It's lift or be lifted, folks.
4. Cheap behind the net deke moves > too-perfect one timers
For a while, my one timer abilities were absurd enough that I'd often score goals off what seemed like passes. It's kind of like how Gretzky would score off the back of a goalie's pad/legs/skates, only I wouldn't get to bang some Canadian supermodel after the game.
ANYWAY, EA must have read a lot of message board bitching because the one-timer has been rendered somewhat irrelevant. Now it seems like it's all about waltzing around defenseman and cheap shit like that.
So, hopefully those four guidelines will help you re-claim your game (or compete instead of the typical shellacking you suffer from). If you want to "put these rules to the test" or just want to play a game of versus, my X-Box gamertag is jimbobri (creative, I know).
Warning: I am ruthless and probably cheap as hell. But at least you know my strategy, right?
Crap, this was a mistake.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Ryan Getzlaf (on my team): $5.33 million
Corey Perry: $5.33 million
Teemu Selanne: $2.63 million
Todd White: $2.38 million
I assume Bryan Little is on his rookie contract. Is that right?
Marc Savard: $5 million
Aaron Ward: $2.5 million
Andrew Ference (on my team): $1.4 million
Derek Roy: $4 million
David Moss: $1.3 million
Craig Conroy (on my team): $1.05 million
Robyn Regehr (on my team): $4 million
Rene Bourque: $1.35 million
Cam Ward: $2.67 million
Dustin Byfuglien: $3 million
Milan Hejduk: $3.9 million
Marek Svatos: $2.05 million
Antoine Vermette: $2.76 million
Mike Ribeiro: $5 million
Steve Ott (on my team): $1.43 million
Toby Petersen (on my team): .5 million
Stephane Robidas (on my team): $1.5 million
Trevor Daley: $2.3 million
Chris Osgood: $1.42 million
Johan Franzen: $3.95 million
Tomas Holmstrom: $2.23 million
Kris Draper: $1.58 million
Daniel Cleary: $2.8 million
Henrik Zetterberg: $6.01 million
Pavel Datsyuk: $6.7 million
Ales Hemsky (on my team): $4.1 million
Ethan Moreau: $2 million
Nathan Horton: $4 million
Stephen Weiss: $3.1 million
Dustin Brown (on my team): $3.18 million
Alex Frolov: $2.9 million
Mikko Koivu: $3.25 million
Brent Burns: $3.5 million
Nick Schultz: $3.5 million
Andrei Markov: $5.75 million
Jordin Tootoo: just under $1 million
Ryan Suter: $3.5 million
Dan Hamhuis: $2 million
(Is Dan Ellis still in a rookie contract?)
Zach Parise (on the team): $3.1 million
Jamie Langenbrunner: $2.8 million
Jay Pandolfo: $2.5 million
Martin Brodeur: $5.25 million
Doug Weight: $2.2 million
Sean Avery: (waiver discount) $1.94 million
Anton Volchenkov: $2.5 million
Alex Auld (on the team): $1 million
Mike Richards (on the team): $5.7 million
Shane Doan: $4.55 million
Matthew Lombardi: $1.82 million
Ilya Bryzgalov: $4.25 million
Tyler Kennedy (on the team): $725,000
Max Talbot: $1.05 million
Marc Edouard Vlasic (on the team): $3.1 million
Douglas Murray: $2.5 million
David Backes: $2.5 million
Chris Mason: $3 million
Martin St. Louis: $5.25 million
Adam Hall: $.6 million
Tomas Kaberle: $4.25 million
Niklas Hagman: $3 million
Ryan Kesler (on the team): $1.75 million
Alex Burrows (on the team): $2 million
Steve Bernier: $2 million
Alex Semin: $4.6 million
John Erskine: $1.25 million
Mike Green: $5.25 million
Saturday, May 23, 2009
This is that imaginary roster. One other important caveat: No Detroit Red Wings. It's obvious to me the Red Wings are going to win another damn Cup, so it also became a matter of seeing if it was possible to put a better roster together without one Winged Wheel.
Ken Holland, feel free to stare at a painting of yourself right now.
(Oh, and if you're interested, feel free to leave your own salary cap team in the comments or an e-mail. Remember, the following are prohibited:
1. Red Wings
2. Rookies (so no Patrick Kane or Steve Mason, you cheating bastards)
Also, big contract guys like Chris Pronger are allowed but frowned upon. You don't want to be frowned upon, do you?
OH, and I excluded guys with expiring contracts too. Not so easy now, is it. Is it?)
ANYWAY, here's the team in pseudo "line by line" form with my third grade math at no extra charge:
First Line Offense
Daniel Alfredsson (approx $4.9 million); Ryan Getzlaf (approx $5.4 million); Zach Parise (approx $3.1 million)
Is it crazy to think that this would be the best line in the NHL? Mike Richards($5.7 million); Ales Hemsky ($4.1 million); Dustin Brown ($3.1 million) Ryan Kesler ($1.75 million); Steve Ott ($1.4 million); Alex Burrows ($2 million) Craig Conroy($1 million); Tyler Kennedy ($700,000+); Toby Petersen (.5 million) Marc Edouard Vlasic($3.1 million); Shea Weber ($4.5 million) Cam Ward($2.67 million); Alex Auld ($1 million) So, there's the best team I could put together under those restrictions. It came in under $54 million, giving a couple million for wiggle room with healthy scratches and such.
On one hand, you have a guy who at times was unstoppable even against Nicklas Lidstrom and the San Jose Sharks in Ryan Getzlaf. He's big, mean, has a crazy reach and sublime passing skills. Oh, and the guy already was a vital cog in the Ducks Cup run a couple years ago.
Just take a look at Ryan Getzlaf's stats in 08-09: (91 points in 81 regular season games; 18 points in 13 playoff games)
As great as Getzlaf was, Zach Parise has the best contract in the NHL going forward. A deadly combination of pure scoring (5th in the NHL in points) and goal scoring (third in the league with 45), Parise exploded onto the scene this season. He also managed a solid run in the playoffs.
To round that jaw-dropping first line, we have Alf. Say what you want about his reputation for playoff struggles (and that incident in the SCF when he slapped a puck at Scott Niedermayer), he's an unreal player at the sub-$5 million mark. He was the defensively responsible superstar when lining up with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, so backing up Getzlaf-Parise wouldn't be an alien task for the talented Swede.
Mike Richards (80 points) and Ales Hemsky (66 points in shortened season) are two front-line players who would make life miserable for middle pairing D while Dustin Brown would provide a menacing level of physicality (he's been a league leader in hitting before). Richards can bring the pain AND score, making him a less despicable heir to Bobby Clarke's throne as a prototypical Flyers forward.
Richards is also an absolute terror on the PK. It's too bad he's a Flyer, really.
Kesler is a nominee for the Selke. Ott and Burrows both showed they are guys who can be more than pests this season. Once 2009 came around, Ott managed 37 points in 44 games. Burrows scored 28 goals without getting a whiff of powerplay time. If you can find a better trio of elbow grease forwards for about $5 million, then well done sir or ma'am.
One thing this team might lack is "experience." As overrated as that might be, getting a popular veteran forward like Conroy seems like it would make a lot of sense. Plus, if this theoretical team faces an imaginary injury, Conroy's shown that he can slide into those higher spots in the roster without missing a beat.
Kennedy is a very, very nice fourth-line player. He frequently makes the right moves and occasionally helps dominate a cycling game with Jordan Staal during the playoffs. He's not a star, but he's a guy who can make things happen for a great price.
Petersen is a plugger who will show the willingness to kill penalties. Maybe.
Robyn Regehr ($4 million); Stephane Robidas ($1.5 million)
Kyle Quincey ($.5 million); Andrew Ference ($1.4 million)
Total cost of defense (rounded up): $15.1 million
With all that was spent on offense, there still was a pretty good defense that came about. Vlasic is a smart, solid defenseman for a bargain price. Weber has a booming shot, a nice mean streak and a high ceiling. Regehr can be the Scott Stevens of the group, hurting people on a regular basis. Robidas is a nice budget D to put in your top-4. Quality offensive defensemen tend to be expensive, but Kyle Quincey can be a solid guy for a cheap price. Andrew Ference is another solid, inexpensive puck moving defenseman.
Maybe the group lacks an obvious leader but it is versatile, mean and affordable.
Auld is there because he's a solid backup. Nothing more, nothing less.
Cam Ward has a great bargain of a contract. He's won a Cup, he's having a great run in the playoffs this year and generally has shown an ability to handle the workload of a No. 1 goalie. You cannot ask much more for a sub-$3 million goalie.
Now, it's your turn. Which players would you put on your salary cap All-Star team?
Mike Richards($5.7 million); Ales Hemsky ($4.1 million); Dustin Brown ($3.1 million)
Ryan Kesler ($1.75 million); Steve Ott ($1.4 million); Alex Burrows ($2 million) Craig Conroy($1 million); Tyler Kennedy ($700,000+); Toby Petersen (.5 million) Marc Edouard Vlasic($3.1 million); Shea Weber ($4.5 million) Cam Ward($2.67 million); Alex Auld ($1 million) So, there's the best team I could put together under those restrictions. It came in under $54 million, giving a couple million for wiggle room with healthy scratches and such.
Craig Conroy($1 million); Tyler Kennedy ($700,000+); Toby Petersen (.5 million) Marc Edouard Vlasic($3.1 million); Shea Weber ($4.5 million) Cam Ward($2.67 million); Alex Auld ($1 million) So, there's the best team I could put together under those restrictions. It came in under $54 million, giving a couple million for wiggle room with healthy scratches and such.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Current projected 2009-10 Cap number: approximately $47.5 million (One goalie, five defensemen and nine forwards)
Best contract(s): Marc Savard (one year left, $5 million cap hit); Milan Lucic (one year left, rookie contract)
Worst contract(s): Tim Thomas ($5 million per year through 2012-13); Marco Sturm ($3.5 million through 2010-11)
Dude who is Seven-feet-freaking tall (on skates)' contract: Zdeno Chara ($7.5 million per year through 2010-11)
It's been a really nice two years for the Boston Bruins. After suffering briefly from a Joe Thornton hangover, they snagged the former assistant GM of the Ottawa Senators to construct a team that shares some similarities with Peter Chiarelli's old squad: staggering depth, splendid regular season play and ... Zdeno Chara.
An unexpected (and utterly, undeniably dominant) run to the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference allowed the Bruins to stuff another gluttonous bowl of Chowder in the over-fed mouth that is the Boston sports market. At their best, the Killer Bees looked good enough to make Western Conference teams nervous.
That great run came at a price, as the Bruins were forced to hand their admittedly exhilarating goaltender a contract that will almost definitely bite them in the end. A Vezina-caliber season notwithstanding, Thomas has a few prominent strikes against him. Not to be an age-ist, but at the ripe age of 35, how long can an unorthodox goalie like Thomas thrive before he turns into Roman Cechmanek with a nicer yacht?
Still, signing Thomas allows the Bruins to focus solely on the extremely difficult decisions regarding their two young forwards Phil Kessel and David Krejci.
Kessel has the pedigree. After having some up and down years (including earning the respect of any human by overcoming cancer), the 2006's #5 draft pick exploded as much as any Boston Bruin this season. In an abridged 70 games, he managed an impressive 36 goals. To put that in perspective, his .51 goals per game average ranked eight best in the NHL. He also showed impressive speed and was at times very dangerous in this year's playoffs, with 6 goals and 11 points in 11 games. Despite injury concerns, Kessel is a true game breaker.
Say what you want about the dubious nature of the plus/minus statistic, it's still pretty astounding that David Krejci lead the league with a +37 rating. After flying under the radar with 27 points in 56 games last season, Krejci managed a 73-point season. He's a smart player who played a full season in 2008-09.
So, the question is: how much is each player worth? With All-Star caliber Marc Savard and former stud Patrice Bergeron already on the roster, should the Bruins settle for getting for a few draft picks for Krejci and/or Kessel? If you had to choose, would you rather get the dynamic but injury prone (and potentially more expensive) Kessel or the heady and steady work of Krejci (who you cannot be totally certain isn't a contract year guy)?
Obviously the decision is circumstantial. If Krejci only wanted $3 million per year, Boston would be crazy to let him go. On the other hand, if Kessel wants to be paid Sidney Crosby money, that wouldn't work for the B's at all.
It's funny that Chiarelli received a GM of the year award, because the next seasons will test that honeymoon period immediately. Three crucial contracts will be up for renewal for 2010-11: Savard, Blake Wheeler and borderline folk hero Milan Lucic.
While the Chicago Blackhawks are my pick for the team with the most potential to make shortsighted analysts look silly ("Why, they have young players so that means they automatically have a bright future derp!"), the Bruins' window could close quickly.
It could end up a lot like Chiarelli's Senators did. After being a dominant-yet-frustrated team for years, the team could no longer keep Chara, Martin Havlat and other solid-to-great players not named Spezza, Heatley or Alfredsson. By the time Chiarelli left, Ottawa became a top-heavy, deeply flawed team. Then again, there are also Buffalo Sabres parallels: a team featuring a talented cast-off (Savard/Daniel Briere), staggering depth and an exciting score-by-committee approach that ultimately became unsustainable within the confines of a salary cap structure.
Let's not be TOO negative, though, as a very tough summer might turn into a series of shrewd, Ken Holland-sque maneuvers for the Bruins. There are definitely bright sides to look on: Chara is the only guy with a huge contract and he's (probably) worth it. And for all the negativity about Tim Thomas's gamble of a deal, it's at least not as bad as questionable No. 1 contracts floating around the league like Cristobal Huet ($5.6 million through 2011-12), J.S. Giguere ($6 million through 2010-11) or Rick Dipetro's lifetime $4.5 million per year cap hit.
So, what do you think? Are the Bruins the Team of the Future in the Northeast division, just a fortuitous blip on the radar or somewhere in between? Either way, the Big Bad Bruins should be an interesting team to watch the next few years (on and off the ice).
(For the record, I strongly believe that the Bruins should do whatever they can to keep Kessel. Seriously.)
Monday, May 18, 2009
- The Staal brothers clash being a generic storyline has ... become a generic storyline. You've got to love the way the Internet deep fries cliches. Lazy throwaway crutches get trotted out and then everyone makes fun of those crutches. When calling something a cliche jumps the shark*, then we've officially gone a little bit insane.
Could it be that the mainstream media's cliched headline act might actually decide the series? My head hurts now.
- Will it even matter who wins Canes-Penguins?
The only place the remaining three teams can look to for hope is the Red Wings' penalty kill. The Ducks' PP outscored the Wings' PP despite having less chances. The Blackhawks went 1/1 on Sunday, one of the few bright spots in a game Chicago was fortunate to have tied going into the third period.
- Many people (rightly) complained that Evgeni Malkin has often been unfairly overlooked in all the Crosby-Ovechkin hoopla, but despite a nice 10-point effort, Geno was rightly overshadowed in the second round.
While the Capitals seemed quite sleepy at home, the Canes fed off their rabid fans (and ... Bill Cowher) to take some upset victories. Few were impressed by Washington's unconvincing win against the Rangers in game 7; we don't need to tell you about their performance against the Pens. Yet on the opposite end of the spectrum, Carolina shocked the Devils in the last minute in Newark, NJ and then managed to out-hustle the Bruins to an OT win.
- It's hard to imagine the Penguins taking a playoff foe lightly.
That being said, it also wouldn't be outrageous if there is a BIT of letdown after the super-hyped second round matchup.
Of course, the Hurricanes might end up being flat-out better than the Penguins ...
- There's a simple reason that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane saw only about 15 minutes of ice time in Game 1: they were awful. Kane, in particular, produced very little beyond turnovers.
But please don't make this just about experience. The Red Wings have Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Johan Franzen and a soul crushingly deep group of quality players to torment any team young, old, hairy or whatever.
It's fun to make something "the factor" in a playoff series, but sometimes one team just grossly out-classes another.
* - I actually prefer using "Jump the Cheeseburger," an ode to the seminal Canadian TV comedy "Trailer Park Boys" but feel the reference will be too obscure. Sadly.
** "Find the fire" = "Get a more favorable matchup."
Friday, May 15, 2009
Am I the only hockey fan who's tired of Lazy Announcer Crutch #4,056: assuming that a player is struggling because of a mysterious injury or unable to bounce back from the fatigue of a longer season? The most recent example is Mike Green. That's not to say he wasn't playing hurt, but it's just so tired to assume that is what is happening.
Could it be that a young player simply isn't used to playing in the playoffs? Maybe they are on a slump because all that open regular season ice has been strangled away by better defense, familiarity and higher stakes (more shot blocking, stricter matchups, better competition since you don't get any more easy games against Tampa-like teams).
While the usual "list of previously undisclosed injuries" is always an interesting read, let's give the opposition's shut down forwards, top D and coaches a little credit, OK?
2. Diving (and complaining about diving)
It's hard to say what's worse: players acting like they were run over by a Buick from a light tap of a stick or the people who constantly bitch about flopping. I'm all for people making Crosby diving jokes, as long as they're funny. But after watching Alex Ovechkin flop with equal vigor, let's leave that out of next year's round of "Ovechkin= totally better" columns, mmmkay?
2b. Excessive penalty bitching
Man, that Caps-Pens series really tried my patience after a while. To some (not all by any means) Washington fans, the refs beat the Capitals, not the Penguins. Even though the Penguins played better team D, blocked more shots, took more shots, enjoyed superior puck possession and actually showed up to Game 7.
Earl Sleek's (relative) stoicism toward penalties as a Ducks fan showed me a lot. Whiny, losing teams let penalties derail their focus; winning teams persevere.
Want a compelling case of corrupt officiating? Watch the NBA.
3. Marc Andre Fleury handling the puck
We anoint thee "Bizarro Hextall" as you are both jolly while Hextall was grumpy and a train wreck playing the puck while Hextall was an artiste.
You still have the mouth of Gary Busey, though.
4. No more Anaheim Calling, Hockey Blog Adventure or Storming the Crease
Thanks again, everyone. Your contributions made a crazy thought turn into a reason to check CLS a few times a day. The door's always open.
5. A nearly inevitable Red Wings repeat
Thursday, May 14, 2009
WALKER did it! My God I blindly predicted something correctly! First time EVER!4 minutes ago from web
@Forechecker Tim Thomas is fun to watch. Still think that contract is going to haunt Boston long term, though.6 minutes ago from web in reply to Forechecker
Whoops did I jinx the Canes? Suddenly they fact that they've played three more games this playoffs is starting to sink in. They look tired.10 minutes ago from web
The Bruins just got away with a too many men on the ice. Don Cherry just rolled in his grave. Oh wait, he's alive.14 minutes ago from web
Have a weird feeling the Canes are going to take this one.15 minutes ago from web
Imagine if Scott Walker scored the OT S(eries)WG?16 minutes ago from web
Bruins fans: "We want it." Boy, those Massers sure love Faith No More. (Jesus that's an out-dated joke).19 minutes ago from web
Watching Boston - Carolina on a delay, but still: did Aaron Ward's goal saving sweep remind anyone else of Willie Mitchell vs. Dallas in 07?about 1 hour ago from web
Sorry everyone but it's not every day/week/year that I call something. /end horn tooting
Once known as IAMJoe on the BoC (and other blog comment threads), Joe's decided to branch out and start his own NHL-centric blog. He also came up with a fantastic name for the blog: Sacrifice the Body. No word on whether the title will leave Satanists disappointed :)
ANYWAY, we're sad to see Joe go (and the other great bloggers whose teams were eliminated) but we look forward to following all his stuff at StB (look at that, you've already been acronym-ized). Make sure you do the same, good readers.
Congrats Joe! Let us know if you have any questions and e-mail us when you have something particularly noteworthy on your blog. That also goes for all our contributors, as well as any other bloggers lurking out there.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
- Pensblog's spectacular post about Game 7s
- An uplifting message for Pens fans from the Puck Huffers.
- Puck Daddy breaks down Ovechkin vs. Crosby. Who's had the better series through six games?
- I think we can all agree with the thesis of this On Frozen Blog piece: there will be at least a slight sense of relief once this controversial and spell binding series is over. (Although the NHL might consider making 9-game series whenever these two teams face each other)
- Scott Burnside's Game 7 preview for ESPN.
- JP has a couple preview pieces well worth reading.
- Illegal Curve covers plenty of the bases.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Since we named this crazy little blog after the Sedin twins, it only makes sense to start with them. Now that the Canucks are out of the playoffs, let's ask: where will those whacky gingers land?
Salary Cap 2009-10: (without Sedins) about $31.3 million; (with Sedins) about $44.3 million
Naturally, the team that drafts you usually gets the benefit of the doubt in re-signing a player. The Canucks have improved this season as players like Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler raise their games, but they still would be extremely weak offensively if they let their two point-per-game players go via free agency. If the Canucks are willing to tie their future to the Sedin twins, then they have the money to do it.
New York Islanders
The Islanders cap (with or without the Sedins) is a bit hard to figure because I still haven't quite wrapped my mind around how rookie contracts will show up on the cap. As you may or may not already know, incentive clauses will be reflected differently on next year's cap numbers.
If Hockey Buzz's NHLSCAP page is correct, the Islanders currently have about $32.5 million committed to players going into the 2009-10 season. The good news is that money constitutes nearly enough roster spots to fill a whole team. The bad news is that those roster spots would be filled mostly be awful hockey players.
John Tavares (please tell me the Islanders draft him, they've made enough mistakes already ... just take the big name Canadian forward and move on) will mean a cap hit between $1 million and $4 million. In a worst case scenario, adding the Sedins and Tavares would bring the cap to $50 million.
This would give the Islanders four nice offensive players (Tavares - Sedin twins - Kyle Okposo) to construct to respectable forward lines. This could actually be a good move if Rick Dipietro can bounce back from knee surgery, but there's just so many "ifs" that it would be hard to imagine the Sedin twins going to Long Island.
Pre-Sedin Cap: $33 million; With Sedins: $46 million
While it wasn't the first match that came to my head, it almost makes sense. After all, isn't cycling the puck hockey's answer to the line dance? (cricket chirps ... dodges a tomato)
The Predators could conceivably bring the Sedins aboard and pair them up (perhaps) with tail-between-his-legs Alex Radulov to give the team what could be the franchise's greatest line ever. The Sedins seem like they would fit in nicely with the Predators' worker bee mentality.
You'd have to think they could make the playoffs with a core of Sedins-Radulov(?)-Jason Arnott-Shea Weber-Pekka Rinne-J.P. Dumont, right?
The Southern Ontario Team-to-be-Named-Laters
Pre-Sedins Cap: $32.1 million, with Sedins: $45.1 million
If the Coyotes DO get moved, you know Mr. Blackberry will want to bring some top-end talent to a roster that was gutted during the trade deadline. There are some really nice steals and semi-steals on this roster: Shane Doan is a nice power forward who could fit in well with the Sedins at a low price ($4.55 million cap hit) and Kyle Turris/Peter Mueller both have sub-$3 million contracts that could end up being steals in the right situation.
Who knows: the South Hamilton ex-Yotes could end up adding Jay Bouwmeester and the Sedins for $20 million and make a lot of people nervous.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
You may recall a scene where Harry (Jeff Daniels) viciously canes Lloyd (Jim Carrey) in the back of the knee. If you need to refresh your memory, start at about the 6:40 mark of this video:
Pretty good match, right?
Update: Denson from Bangin' Panger sent the clip of the timmmbbbbeeeer slash