Saturday, February 28, 2009

Throwing caution to the wind: Puck Huffers give their controversial All-Decade Picks

(Big thanks to the great duo of Zoƫ and Kim from Puck Huffers for this great group of picks. We'd say they have balls but ... uh ... they don't. Make sure that you follow their hysterical coverage of the Pittsburgh Penguins.)

We thought about this from many different angles. In the end, however, we decided to create the team that we, as human beings, would draft for fun, i.e. in order to piss everyone off. We have strange fixations and obsessions in the world of hockey that not even we understand, and an opportunity like this to indulge them is too great to pass up. If you want us to seriously apply our honed judgments of the league and talent as hockey fans, you're out of luck. We have decided instead to have the times of our lives.

First, our all-decade forward line.

It would be centered by Mario Lemieux, because he is obviously still in the best shape of his life.
His wingers would clearly have to be people of amazing talent, skill, and virtue. Not many people deserve to play with 66.
We have, in an unprecedented decision, chosen Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild.

Rick Nash is pretty much the guy on your floor at college that didn't do anything except drink beer and watch sports obsessively, saying things like "fucking Madrid FC" regarding games that no one watched except for him. We think he would be tons of fun to hang out with.
He also has great hands and great skill and could probably take some sick passes from Mario. He makes plays that no one on his team even thinks of because, let's face it, while CBJ may be the hardest working team in hockey (and we'll take that assertion with us to our deaths) they're not the most talented by any means. Seeing Nash with Lemieux would just make us happy. Even if it really doesn't make any sense.

Clutterbuck is pretty much a thug. He currently leads the NHL in hits, surpassing the glory of Brooks Orpik, which we don't approve of at all. But. . .if anyone deserves it. . .it's Cal. The boy is a 20-year-old wrecking machine, but he knows how to cash in on his goals as well. Really, we're just kind of amused by him. We'd like to see him plow into some fuckers and basically decapitate them, then take a sweet pass from Nash and sneak it in off the post. This also makes no sense, but we are satisfied with our choices. His name is also amazing.

For our defense, we pick Sergei Gonchar because he's amazing and we're homers, and we also pick Scott Niedermayer because he's sick and denying it would be stupid on our part. They're both consummate defensemen--potentially lethal offensively, and also quite responsible in their own ends. They're also veterans, clearly. On our team, Gonchar would wear the C. He is a fucking warrior. Sorry Scott, you are too. . .just not in the same way that is close to our hearts.

If you read our blog, you know that we have invented our own little universe in which John Curry of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins is God. We worship goaltenders. If John Curry is God then Steve Mason is Jesus Christ. We're still reeling from the photo shown above, in which he stones Henrik Zetterberg like an honest-to-god PIMP. No goaltender in the league has a more promising future, and no goaltender has come along in a looooooooong time with that amount of raw talent, skill, intelligence, and athleticism. Plus, we have an ongoing love affair with everyone who wears a Blue Jackets uniform. (Even R.J. Umberger a little bit, the slimy bastard.) Mason is glorious. Better than any of your false idols. It's called blasphemy, everyone. BLASPHEMY.

Okay, so, we're cheating a little bit here. Herb Brooks coached the 1999-2000 Pittsburgh Penguins and that was the last NHL team he coached before his death in 2003. It was a weird year. No one hit 100 points, but Jagr took home the Art Ross. Pittsburgh made the playoffs and lost in six games to the Flyers in the Semifinals. . .gross. Luckily, thanks to Philly's long tradition of choking in the playoffs, it couldn't get any weirder when they played eventual Cup champs New Jersey. But anyway. If you don't want Herb Brooks coaching your team, we question your sanity. Honestly, the Penguins could probably have used him this season. Michel Therrien or Dan Bylsma he is not. He's scarier. He knows what the hell is going on. Even in death.

Oh, Matthew Barnaby. . .your name warms our hearts verily. You can be our all-decade loudmouth/pest/badass.
We're pretty sure by this point a love of Matthew Barnaby in Pittsburgh is genetic.
A person from southwestern Pennsylvania who doesn't like Barnaby is not to be trusted.
We have to pick him for this.
Our genetic makeup won't let us do otherwise.

Tie Domi fought you and he didn't give a shit how big you were. He was 5'10" and he was going to murder you.
Or at least show you what he was made of.
Courage like that is necessary on a team.
Put him on the ice with either Cal or Barnaby. Instant line brawl.
We don't support in any way the idea that the NHL needs to turn into a circus, but line brawls clearly don't happen enough anymore.
He could teach Steve Mason how to throw 'em down and then we'd really be in business.

We can't imagine a better, more lovely team than this.
We're sorry we cheated, made irrational decisions, and picked guys whose careers' golden ages had long passed by the turn of the century.
But man. . .we had fun doing it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What happened to ...?

1. Our sense of shame? That's right, Cycle like the Sedins is now a-twitter. Yucky.

2. The end of day post? Too busy e-mailing the whole damn hockey blogosphere about our Seriously Going to be Fucking Massive Trade Deadline special.

(By the way, if you write about the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning or any team, really, drop me a line.

3. The Oilogosphere depth chart? There's still some great Edmonton blogs, but man, they've been dropping like flies.

4. Guy Ritchie? "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" is playing in the background as I e-mail said blogosphere. OK, so, Madonna's gym bag coot happened to him. I admit I know the answer to that one.

(No. 5 would be Jason Statham, but every shitty sequel he makes is probably a payday that exceeds my lifetime salary expectation. So we know question who the winner is there.

Bow Flex

Really? This is the guy that GM's are going to be battling over this weekend?

James has already chimed in on the fate of the Florida Panthers this season. But I have a bigger question... who the heck is Jay Bouwmeester anyway? I spend the majority of my time watching Western Conference hockey, and since the Kings have only played the Florida Panthers 5 times in the last 5 years... I really don't feel like I have a clear sense of how good or how mediocre a defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is. I've never had him on a fantasy team, never traded for him in NHL 07, 08 or 09 and never heard a friend say "oh man, that Bouwmeester is a BEAST on the blueline." Although, if any friend said that about a NHL player I probably would hit him. Or at least smile at him gently.

Here's what I do know about Jay Bouwmeester... he is the current NHL leader in consecutive games played, not missing a game in 4+ seasons. His career high in points is 46. Career high in penalty minutes is 79. And he averages about 27 minutes a game. He's 25 years old and is a 6 year NHL veteran. So we are looking at a reliable, top 30 NHL defenseman without much of a mean streak. And man, does he know how to look non-threatening in a photo.

So if you are an NHL GM... do you make a play for this UFA? What do you give up for someone who seems to have no intention of signing with a NHL team before this summer? Remember, the NHL Trading Deadline causes strange things to happen... witness Mike Comrie being swapped for a low #1 draft pick. But for a NHL All-Star defenseman? Lubomir Visnovsky cost the Oilers Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene. What would you trade for Kyle Quincey? What would you pay to get Keith Duncan or Ryan Suter? Could Ron Hainsey be the one to put you over the 8th seed bubble? Because all those guys are in and around JBo.

Now I'm sure that Bouwmeester has some amazing intangibles that I'm just not aware of because I haven't seen him play as much as I've seen Pronger, Phaneuf, Souray or Jovanovski. And I realize that is my fault. But can you really blame me for not catching a lot of Florida Panther games over the past few years? I mean look at this monstrosity of a jersey.

I'm not paying money to watch this on tv.

Florida wants the return you get for a #1 defenseman because Florida actually thinks Bouwmeester is a #1 defenseman. In reality, he's a strong 2nd on a good NHL team. He is only getting so much hype because he is a UFA. But here's the fun part about the Trading Deadline. Someone will probably will give up what Florida wants. And then Brian Burke will get double that for any of his Toronto fire-sales.

I'm in the camp that believes 100% Florida should trade Bouwmeester. Sure the Panthers are 6th in the Eastern Conference, but they are only 4 points out of 10th place too. And are the Panthers really going to put together the kind of run to challenge Boston, Washington, New Jersey or Philly? There is a great future coming together in South Florida and McCabe, Boynton and Ballard should be able to hold down the team for the remainder of the season. So get rid of Jay Bouwmeester and be done with it... before he turns into this guy:

What say you Florida Panther fans? I know that you come to this blog in force. Is Bouwmeester really that good and he's never gotten the chance to play in a meaningful game? (well, he did play in 18 AHL playoff games with Chicago in 2005... and had 0 points.) Or has he just been the best defenseman on an awful team the last 5 years? Believe the hype or not?

Tentative plans for what may be another crazy week

The next week or so is going to be (once again) crazy at Cycle like the Sedins. Here's an sniff of what I think is coming up:

Friday - Sunday:

  • the 2-3 remaining All-Decade pick posts
  • Possibly a column on the Sabres finding a Miller replacement. Or it will end up being too dumb.
  • Assorted assortments.

  • The Final All-Decade Team will be announced, barring death, dismemberment or loss of internet.
  • (Possibly a Morning Cycle but no promises)
Monday - Wednesday:



After the crazy trade deadline week, things should be less chaotic but hopefully just as fun. Here's what things should look like for the next, oh, 2-3 weeks:

Sunday: Deirdre time
Monday: Morning Cycle
Tuesday: Dance partners
Wednesday: Deirdre time part deux
Thursday to Saturday: perhaps a Hockey Orphan or two?

Plus, of course, the articles that come along in a normal week of crazy hockey news. I've still got a few more things up my sleeve. And don't forget about Chris Kontos, either.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

With a heavy heart ...

There's been a nice little run of great news for the blog, but today was a bit of a sad day.

As most can see from looking at the monthly posts in the right sidebar, 2009 (and February in particular) has seen a flurry of activity. Many things contributed to that, but one of the biggest factors ended up being my job. Which ended today.

My job forced me to get up at 6 a.m. to be in the door at 7:30 a.m. Since things were slow, it gave me a solid 6-8 hours to read my favorite blogs, e-mail people for guest posts and come up with ideas like the All-Decade team.

Now, it's not like I got fired. It was essentially a temp job. So it's not like this is the first steps in some sort of downward spiral. But in the next two weeks it means looking for a job and then finding one that, in all likely hood, will not give me the same golden opportunity to stay on top of the things.

But there's no turning back now. Maybe it means more late night posting. Maybe it means leaning on guest posts and contributors. Whatever the case may be, Cycle like the Sedins will go on.

Like my heart.

Deirdre on Club Scarlet, aka the Washington Capitals all-female fan club

(Editor's note: Cycle like the Sedins is glad to welcome Deirdre back into the fold. If things go as planned, she should provide the female perspective [but not just the female perspective] twice a week in order to sprinkle a little logic in our meathead stew. Puck Daddy featured a pretty solid summary of the Scarlet Club if you need to get up-to-date.)

Cameraman to Fedorov: "Make the face you made when you walked in on Anna Kournikova and Pavel Bure."

So I’m a girl. Now that’s out of the way, I can also say I’m a hockey fan. Or maybe I’m a female hockey fan. Or a fan that happens to be female. Or the dreaded hockey scarlet letter “puck bunny.”

I have to admit, sometimes it’s maddening. When men like the sport and know a reasonable amount of information about it, it’s nothing special. Yet if I can hold an intelligent conversation about last night’s game, some men feel the need to balance a biscuit on my nose and tell me what “a good girl” I am.

As Beyonce says so aptly, if I were boy, all of this wouldn’t freakin’ matter (I may have paraphrased that a little).

I hate to admit it though, and men, brace yourselves for the shocker of a lifetime...women are fickle. Plain and simple. What one woman loves; another will hate and decry as “sexist.” What offends one; will thrill another.

I am a perfect example of this. I loved hockey from birth. It’s in my blood. I was born in Pittsburgh to a father who lived and died everything gold and black especially when it was on ice.

It wasn’t about how dreamy a young Mario Lemiuex was or Ron Francis’ ripped abs (can’t believe I just wrote that), but about spending time with my dad and genuinely growing to love the game.

Ronnie Francis: Clearly the inspiration for those ill-fated tight fitting Reebok jerseys.

During my prouder moments, I have explained icing and off-sides to clueless men, won three fantasy hockey championships in predominantly male leagues and cursed dumbass officiating to the point that would make even the saltiest sailor blush. I hate that “female” jerseys are pink and gag when women show up to hockey games in high heels and dresses because they think they are on a “date,” when really the guy they are with just wants to go to the damn game. But at the end of the day, I am still a girl, so there are those moments that I am not proud all.

These are those moments that some men wait for because it erases credibility faster than a Mr. Clean magic eraser. I personally, as James can attest to, am a recovering hockey beard addict (see Peter Forsberg). In fact, I believe it was James who coined the phrase “you’d be all over him like he was made of beard.”

I notice that men go for the metaphorical low blow when women like players they find less than worthy (looking at you Todd Bertuzzi). Again, another classic James/Deirdre argument about Bertuzzi ended in James saying that “you just want to pork that ogre.”

But I can’t deny that some of these players are downright good looking. I think some of you guys need to get a grip and admit to that fact too. It’s the equivalent of me saying that Maria Sharapova is a great tennis player, but just OK looking. I would be a liar and delusional. The key is that good looking men aren’t the reason why I watch hockey, it’s a pleasant side effect.

I think the funniest thing is that people assume all women find the same thing attractive (insert that fickle comment here). When I checked out Club Scarlet, I laughed when I realized I was looking a glamour shot of Michael Nylander giving me his best soap opera stare.

A few years back, Jason Arnott (for the record reasonably good looking guy but not my type) got into a scuffle on ice that left him pissed off, sweaty and bleeding from a gash along his hairline. I am pretty sure I went through puberty again watching them escort him off the ice. That was a man right there.

So Alex Ovechkin can have his GQ photo shoot in a tuxedo with white tigers laying about, but I say give me the real sport any day of the week. There is no one size fits all idea for the elusive female hockey fan. At the end of the day, I say try anything and everything, even if it is goofy pink jerseys and Club Scarlet.

Because for the love of god, the sport needs some more fans and if it gets asses in seats then so be it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Crosby vs. Ovechkin: Everyone needs a good villain

After Sunday's Washington - Pittsburgh game got a little ugly, it seemed there was a line drawn in the sand.

On one side, there are people who think Alex Ovechkin is light years ahead of Sidney Crosby. People who cannot stand Crosby's whining or bland, vanilla personality.

On the other side: Penguins fans.

For a long time, it seemed like Crosby just needed to open up. Over the years, there've been rumors of Crosby being gay (whether those rumors are faint, in my head or Tom Cruise-level widespread is irrelevant) and that didn't seem crazy to me. The guy still lives in Mario Lemieux's basement (doesn't he?) and to my knowledge has only been photographed with women while promoting his Reebok clothing line. No saucy Russian blondes wrapping themselves around Sid the Kid. At least not in public.

That's the strangest thing. For a league that barely generates high-end marketing, Crosby is the closest thing to "overexposed" the NHL can muster. Yet, does anyone really even know the guy? He could be gay. He could be a huge fan of "comedian" Sinbad. Hell, he might collect Pogs and Magic cards. None of this seems unreasonable because I know nothing of "the next, next one."

But maybe that's for the best because every league needs an "Elvis vs. the Beatles" type debate. And like NBA officiating, NFL replays and the BCS, controversies get people arguing and generate free publicity. If hockey fans found out that Crosby actually is a pretty solid guy, it would take all the fun and the fervor out of it for many Sid-haters.

The NBA's breakthrough era came with the Bird vs. Magic rivalry, two players who seemed both sublimely skilled and diametrically opposed. Magic played for the run-and-gun Lakers, coached by then-Hollywood-ized Pat Reilly; Bird was the leader of a Celtics team soaked in tradition, the last basketball team to win championships with two goofy looking white dudes as their best players.

You could appreciate both teams, but ultimately it came down to a choice. And that's a lot more fun than being in the middle.

When you talk about "best player" it's a Malkin vs. Ovechkin vs. Crosby battle, but the fight that sells tickets is Crosby vs. Ovie. Two players who couldn't be more different. Ovechkin takes nine shots a game, throws his body all over the ice and is wilder than a tornado. Passing is an afterthought to him. Crosby threads some of the prettiest passes you'll ever see, plays an all-effort game on both ends of the ice and is as bland as unflavored yogurt. He over-passes almost to a fault.

On some level, we need to sit back and enjoy this. Keep in mind: this is far from settled; Crosby can barely buy a six-pack right now.

I'll leave you with this thought originally posted on Battle of California:

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. "The Hitman" Bret Hart: Not a bad parallel to the Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby rivalry when you think about it. Austin/Ovechkin appeal to the simple fan with brashness and aggressiveness; Hart/Crosby are vaguely whiny, undeniably talented Canadians. Crosby might even have a disturbing obsession with baby oil and strange sunglasses for all we know."

Rolling out the welcome mat

Considering the fact that the All-Decade Team was featured on Puck Daddy yesterday, it's probably safe to say that there are more people "new" to Cycle like the Sedins than usual.

Since we're an accommodating bunch, here's a quick roadmap of CLtS.

The Special Sections found in the sidebar on the right should be very helpful.

Included is:

An "About" section that features a self-depricating imaginary FAQ

A listing of every All-Decade Team post (keep in mind, Greg Wyshynski's picks are one of many great contributions)

The complete "Bertuzzday" series that is currently in hiatus. Highly recommended, though, since the series lampoons some of the lowest moments in NHL history.

Also included are all the site's guest posts, the still-in-progress Hockey Orphan feature and some other good stuff.

If you want to inquire about contributing to the blog, my e-mail address is:

Any questions, concerns about the blog?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Rat Pack is Back

No, not that Rat Pack, you silly.

(Was going to go with ... "Year of the Rat?" but that seems too obvious)

With the Pittsburgh Penguins showing the consistency of Robert Downey Jr. in the 90s, the Montreal Canadiens partying like mob stars, the New York Rangers somehow not firing Glen "yeah he got Gretzky but he also gave Bobby Holik $8 million per year" Sather, the Hurricanes mired in mediocrity and the Sabres facing the grim reality of it no longer being (Ryan) Miller time ... the Florida Panthers might just be the safest bet to burst through the East's modest playoff bubble.

But that masks a shocking observation: the Panthers are probably the second hottest team in the Eastern Conference right now.

As Florida tries to generate an encore performance in Boston after Tomas Vokoun's masterful 41-save shutout of the Bruins, it seems to be as good a time as ever to take a peak at these under-the-radar Panthers.


In a post focusing on Jay Bouwmeester's future (or lack thereof) in Florida, Five Hole Fanatics took a look at the Panthers' outstanding goaltending this season:

"The lone factor holding the Panthers in the race is that unsustainable .933
E[ven]S[trength] SV%."
Hopefully after shutting out the East-leading Boston Bruins, Vokoun will begin to develop some Vezina chatter. He's been absolutely outstanding since the start of 2009:

February numbers: 6-3 with a 1.66 GAA, 95.4(!) save percentage and three shutouts

January numbers: 6-2-2 with a 2.16 GAA, 92.4 save percentage (no SOs)

Really, the only off month for Vokoun the vaccum came in where he went 2-6 with a 3.29 GAA and a 90.4 save percentage. His numbers are especially impressive because he really has to earn those shutouts. The shot totals he's faced in his six total shutouts: 41, 42, 36, 27, 23 and 31.

And although Vokoun is the cleary No. 1, Craig Anderson proves to be a high quality backup (when he's not getting caught drooling over ice girls).

Heh heh. Anderson's managed a save percentage just under 93, with a 2.49 GAA and 3 shutouts in 23 games played.

Florida is in a three-way tie for first with the Islanders and Coyotes for the league's most "stolen games" while they only have one "blown game." Those stats might be the simplest - if most atypical - way to explain how much of a difference Florida's goalies make.

Of course, we cannot ignore the 6.5 million-dollar question: what to do with J-Bo?

There was a healthy, interesting debate on what to do with Bouwmeester on Five Hole Fanatics. And I'll admit that it sounded like a no-win situation after hearing that Jay Bouwmeester allegedly turned down a $6.5 million per year offer from the Panthers.

It sounded like the biggest bone of contention for Quoteless Bow was Florida's hapless playoff-less streak and without an impressive playoff run, he would probably be out of there. Up until the trade deadline, that's still the question: keep Bouwmeester for a crucial playoff run and risk losing him in the summer for nothing OR trade him for a potentially lucrative package and risk alienating your fanbase?

That's the kind of question that would cause a lot of GMs to develop a whisky habit.

Jacques Martin didn't give a definitive answer to Kevin Allen of USA Today while The Star's Paul Hunter took a look at the situation through the prism of Tomas Kaberle's trade value. Neither really provided anything new, though.

Martin's right in saying that the Panthers making the playoffs is the top priority, so accepting draft picks and mediocre rental players isn't going to cut it. You hate to say "it depends" but it does. If a team can provide a solid top-6 forward and some other goodies, the Panthers might just have to take it.

But if they go on a tailspin out of the playoffs, it will be yet another nail in Florida's coffin.

On offense

If the playoffs started today, the Panthers' 166 Goals for would only be higher than three other playoff teams: the Rangers (151), the Wild (151) and the Blue Jackets (165).

Stephen Weiss is Florida's leading scorer with 41 points (10 G, 31 A). There aren't many playoff teams whose top scorer has less than 50 points, but to the Panthers' credit they have 10 players who've scored at least 10 goals.

Much like their long-ago Cinderella run under John Vanbiesbrouck, the Panthers will need timely scoring and elite goaltending to go anywhere in the playoffs. Any other the top four teams would be heavy favorites against Florida, as even the somewhat shaky Philadelphia Flyers might just be too potent for the low scoring Panthers.

In its current form, the Panthers are a scrappy little playoff team but not much more. Is a rare playoff run worth letting Bouwmeester leave for nothing? Stay tuned.

Dance Partners: San Jose

ChrisKontos here with your Western Conference edition of Dance Partners. The first blockbuster (?) trade has gone down in the NHL (who knew that Dean McAmmond was still even playing!) and that means the playoffs are rapidly approaching.

As goes Dean McAmmond... so goes Ottawa's playoff hopes.

The race for 8th place has created an incredible logjam in the Western Conference as even the last place Colorado Avalanche (wow, that feels weird to write) are only a few points away from that 8th seed. There are more pretenders than contenders out of the 10 teams that are battling for that spot, so let's breakdown the 3 teams that would make the most entertaining matchups for the Western Conference leading San Jose Sharks and for the NHL. But please remember... San Jose is no Boston... so the NHL is going to have a hard time marketing this series no matter who is playing.

1. Columbus Blue Jackets - (currently in 6th place, but only 2 points away from being 8th)

What the ef is a Blue Jacket?!?

Never bet against Ken Hitchcock. The man has not been anywhere close to the playoffs in 3 seasons but the Blue Jackets have finally figured out how to work in his defensive system. It helps that super mono-fighting rookie Steve Mason has given the BJ's the goaltender they needed. I expect the BJ's to make the biggest move at the deadline and get some help at forward. They've beaten the Sharks twice this season, both in overtime. Watching the high octane speed and offense of the Sharks clash with the defense first mentality of a Hitchcock team could make this a very good series.

NHL Marketability: Um... It's Columbus and San Jose. Not so much.

2. Dallas Stars - (currently in 7th place and cursing the loss of Brad Richards)

James Woods... the Star of Shark.

This is the scenario that the NHL would love the most. Dallas, the team that struggled out of the gate because of its bonehead move to give Sean Avery a bunch of money, would bounce back and sneak into the playoffs to face its division rival, the Sharks. Just think of how much all the TV analysts get to fawn over what cutting their loses with Sean Avery has done for this Stars team. Plus now that Marty Turco has ironed out his kinks, a Nabokov-Turco first round matchup would be fantastic. You know, kind of like the amazing 1-0 Sharks victory from last night. Oh and there was the whole Dallas beating San Jose in the 2nd round last year thing too. I know Ron Wilson remembers that series.

Is there such a thing as an old school Sharks-Stars fight?

NHL Marketability: Have you heard anyone talk about what happened to this Sean Avery character and the Dallas Stars? Wild, huh? I can only imagine they'd bring it up in the playoffs.

3. Anaheim Ducks (currently in 10th, but with the most games played)

Maybe the National Geographic channel will air this series?
(insert Versus joke here)

Wow, this could be a killer series. If the Ducks are able to get their act together in the final months of the season... and JS Giguere remembers how to play goal... this would be a fantastic series for hockey fans. But that's a big IF. The Ducks have plodded along all season and have the least games in hand out of any of the teams battling for 8th. But if they are able to sneak into the playoffs with Niedermayer, Pronger, Getzlaf, Perry and Selanne all still on their roster... watch out. This would be the matchup the Sharks would least want.

NHL Marketability: This could quickly become a classic first round series. Plus I think Battle of California's head would explode blogging about this playoff matchup.


How could you expect me to break down the 8th seed matchup for the Western Conference and not give the Los Angeles Kings a fighting chance? I mean, I've even created a marketing slogan for the Kings push for the 8th seed. Unfortunately, if the Kings continue to shit the playoff race bed like they did this weekend against the Phoenix Coyotes, this matchup is not probable at all. BUT if the Kings did sneak in... well, they would rather play the Detroit Red Wings as at least they've been close in games with that team this year. Damn you Denis Gauthier!

Play-offs? Hmm, never heard of them.

NHL Marketability: Well, having a Los Angeles based team (sorry Anaheim) in the playoffs would make any TV executive happy. And can you imagine the coverage of this series by the various NHL California blogs? Blogging gold. Commenters... it's up to you. What do you think?

All-Decade Team: Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski shares his picks

(Cycle like the Sedins is excited to welcome our next guest poster, Greg Wyshynski. You might know his previous work with Deadspin and NHL Fanhouse, but he's best known as the editor of perhaps the best hockey blog on the planet, Puck Daddy. If somehow you've made it here without ever checking Puck Daddy [hi mom!], definitely make it part of your rotation. It's a must-read for any discerning hockey fan.)


Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils

Here’s a handy litmus test to decide who the goalie of the decade was: Did the NHL invent a rule to subvert one of the vital facets of that goalie’s game because he was just too damn good at it?

No, they didn’t ban the five-hole because of Dan Cloutier; but the NHL did put a geometric shape in back of the goal because Marty Brodeur had reinvented the wheel as a puck-moving “third defenseman” in a defensive system.

And all Marty did was win a couple of Vezina’s after they did it.

He’s gotten better with age even if he’s faltered at times in the postseason. The argument could be made that he deserved the Conn Smythe in 2003, but we really don’t have the time or the necessary amount of scotch to really open that old wound.

Honestly, and I say this as a complete and total Devils homer, a case could be made for Roberto Luongo if it hadn’t been for the fact that the entirety of his Stanley Cup playoffs experience is 12 games. But Brodeur is the best goalie since Patrick Roy, and the last decade was when he affirmed that legend.

Defense -

Nicklas Lidstrom, Detroit Red Wings.

When you’ve won so many Norris Trophies than you can play a game of Jenga with them, I’d say that warrants inclusion on this list.

Chris Pronger, St. Louis Blues/Edmonton Oilers/Anaheim Ducks

Yes, he’s a human suspension machine that somehow has thus avoided mandatory anger management. Yes, his egotistical (or cuckolded, depending on what you believe) departure from Edmonton was insulting. Yes, he looks like a goon for a Swedish Bond villain.

But he’s also one of the most physically gifted players in the NHL; a rare combination of physical play, solid skating and offensive flourish. He’s also a workhorse, averaging over 27 minutes per night in most of his seasons this decade.

This slot on the team comes down to Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. Nieds is a better offensive player, a better technical defenseman and has better intangibles. But you have to admit that, love him or hate him, Pronger put that Oilers team that made the Cup finals on his back in a way few defensemen have in the last 20 years. That was astonishing, and probably Conn-worthy even in defeat.

Center -

Joe Thornton, Boston Bruins/San Jose Sharks

I really wanted to justify putting Vincent Leavalier here, because I believe he’s the more talented of the two. But Thornton’s numbers can’t be denied: Three seasons with over 100 points, compared to one for Vinny and two for Joe Sakic. His passing ability is incredible, and his goal scoring in the regular season is underrated.

And enough with the playoff choker malarkey. He’s got 30 points in his last 35 playoff games. Even if he’s not a center that can carry his team to a Cup, he’s not someone that will cost them one, either.

Wings -

Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames

The consummate professional, a fantastic leader and a player who hasn’t dipped below 30 goals in a season during the decade. The only knock on Jarome is that he played the last decade in Calgary, forcing the mainstream media to laud him at arm’s length rather than deifying him as a megastar.

Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

Not enough of a sample? Please.

Sure, this pick would look better if he added an Art Ross and a Hart to his collection this season. But no other winger has had the offensive impact Ovechkin has for the Capitals. No other winger is as physically gifted. Ovechkin has improved on defense and his passing, though sometimes forced, is underrated. He’s a game-changer, a leader and the embodiment of an MVP. In four seasons, he’s become the best winger, potentially the best player, in hockey.

Dude’s a force of nature the likes of which we haven’t seen since Jagr in his prime. Speaking of which …

Jagr’s decade included some really off years with the Capitals and a dud of a final season in New York. He’s the closest competition here, but I’d give the edge to Ovechkin.


Georges Laraque

You can successfully argue that his skills are in decline as a fighter, but he took on all comers and usually came out on top during the decade. Didn’t embarrass himself on the ice, either.


Mike Babcock, Anaheim Ducks/Detroit Red Wings
From psychology to the system, Babcock has been great for teams that needed to gut out wins and with teams loaded with all-star talent.


I think Sean Avery wrapped this one up in the last 365 days, don’t you?