Friday, March 20, 2009

Bits and Pieces: Malkin's 'struggles,' Ovechkin's celebrations and falling giants

  • Boy, it sure is amazing how much a bad Stanley Cup Finals performance can hurt you.
Just ask Evgeni Malkin, the man who likely would have been "The Staal Trophy" winner last season with a 100-plus point performance in the regular season and a fantastic playoff run. Until the SCF, of course.

While Malkin clearly struggled against the Red Wings, his performance was slightly inflated by playing against some fairly weak Eastern opponents in previous rounds. The Penguins cruised through the playoffs (only two losses in three rounds!) so easily that they must have been shell shocked once they played against a team that was actually more talented.

Still, the idea that Malkin will lose Hart trophy votes because of last season is pretty stunning. It's not like he has a small lead on Alex Ovechkin. Nine points is a tremendous lead.

But that's a debate for another day. If people penalize Malkin for SCF struggles, maybe they should consider the fact that Ovechkin never even sniffed the second round of the playoffs yet.

  • Speaking of the anointed saint of hockey media, Ovechkin's Jimi Hendrix goal celebration is getting some heat.
Frankly, for us it's not really that he taunted his opponents. As fans of Ric Flair, we are huge fans of tormenting opponents as you defeat them (especially if you hook the tights).

No, instead, our biggest beef is that the celebration was kind of lame. If you're going to do the Hendrix burning guitar gimmick, you really have to sell it. Kneel on your knees. Take off your gloves so you can really pantomime that "smoke coming from the stick" effect. Hell, get one of your teammates to find you an afro wig.

After all, Ovie never had any issues with using props, right?

While everyone can agree Ovechkin is awesome, it's only fair that he gets a little cheap heat since people are always frothing at the mouth to tear apart Crosby.
  • So, the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks might not be the dominant forces - or at least not as dominant - as they were believed to be.

After holding a huge lead in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins are taking on water and may in fact relinquish the No. 1 spot to the New Jersey Devils or Washington Capitals. Injuries are wreaking havoc on the Sharks roster. When you combine that issue with an increase in road games, the mighty seem only strong.

The Bruins have the least to worry about, on some level. Let's face it: this team was not necessarily primed to dominate just yet. There may be a lot of pressure on the Bruins to succeed, but this season should still be a success with or without a Cup. Of course, if they lose in the first round of playoffs, then that tune would change quite a bit.

The Sharks, on the other hand, must be wondering if their window is about to close. Although there are some great young talents in their nucleus, trading for Dan Boyle and signing Rob Blake made San Jose take a "win now" position. Sharks fans must be hyperventilating right now.

  • Finally, a lot is being made about the Montreal Canadiens having a plethora of unrestricted free agents, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. The Habs can re-construct their roster next season, focusing on good value (and maybe a headliner or two) instead of their current "big talent, high speed, no heart" model.
With the cap ceiling becoming a serious question in the short term future, the Canadiens have a chance to build a winner while remaining cap flexible. This will be an envious position sooner or later.


The Puck Stops Here said...

You say San Jose traded for Rob Blake. Who did they give up in that trade?

jamestobrien said...

Arrrgh dammit. Thanks for catching that.