For more information regarding our move, please read the two last post published below.

29 April 2007

Rangers Earn First Win, Sabres Flat Again!

I'll make this short and sweet. The Rangers have been the better team for two straight games. The Sabres better get it cranked up soon or things could really go astray. The Rangers are outhustling the Sabres consistently and the Sabres best line of Pominville-Briere Hecht has been MIA.

After three games Kudos to Tom Renney for keeping the Ranger's focused and raspberries for Lindy Ruff for allowing this team to play flat.

A big cheer for Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan Miller who have been superb. A standing ovation for Henrik Tallinder and Jaromir Jagr who have been putting on an epic battle every shift.

The Sabres will still win this series in 5 or 6 unless things really fall apart, they are just to good, but colored me worried especially if Ottawa comes to town.

News and Notes:
Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford have often been dominate when on the ice together. Stafford has replaced Max Afinogenov who has really struggled in the series. Jochen Hecht has played well but has shown no touch around the net. Jason Pominville still apears very tight. The entrie Sabres defense Corps has played extremely well.

Tim Connolly has played well, but his lack of strength is evident. It is obvious he is way behind everyone else on the ice due to his extended concussion symptoms.

Paul Gaustad should be about ready to play. I have a hunch he will suite up for Game 4.

When Posting Goes Overboard.....

As many of you know I post commonly on the Hockey's Future boards. I think they are great place to debate and learn about the game. Unfortunately they are also a place where emotion often runs wild. Another unfortunate side effect is that you can see the unhappy side effect of people who lose sight of the fact that the NHL is a big game and not life and death. The post below was posted by Balej20, a user on the Rangers board within HFboards. He appears to have progressed beyond rationality and into a George Bush-like denial and conspiracy mindset. What I am saying is this. While the calls were inconsistent and I WOULD have counted the Rachunek goal. Anyone, ANYONE, who believes the NHL gives a rats ass if the Sabres win the cup is dangerously delusional. Please read and judge for yourself.

Originally Posted by Balej20 on
"I'm sorry, but this has to be said. I don't care who I offend or whatever, but it's an issue that must be addressed. There is, without a doubt, something going on when it comes to this Sabres team and the league. There is obviously a fix/conspiracy or whatever you want to call it. When all these "breaks" were going the Sabres way in the Islanders series, I kinda shrugged it off, until about game 3. Then it started becoming apparent what the league has in store for this Sabre team. Now I have to watch Power Play after Power Play go the Sabres way until they tie it up. I have to watch an obvious No-Goal for the Sabres in game one, where the guy BATS the puck into the net with his hand, and that counts. But when Rachunek is being hooked, pushed and trying to stop, that goal doesn't count. Jagr has to endure slash after slash, after hook after hold, without any calls. But Godforbid he raises his stick, it's a penalty. I just can't take this anymore.They desperately want this "New NHL" style team to win. This is the league's baby, the way this team plays is exactly what the NHL wants to be identified by. So what better way for the fans to buy into it, then to have this team "be" succesful. I'm tired of being cheated as a fan watching this travesty. I'm not sitting here crying, or complaining, I'm sitting here because I know I am being cheated. And I KNOW deep down, all of you feel the sameway. If something doesn't change quick, I will no longer watch the NHL and I would hope other fans follow, because we are all being taken for a ride."

All I can say to Balej20 is sorry. Go on vacation, take up knitting. Hockey is bad for you. If you read this and identify with it. Time to see the psychiatrist. I come from the land of "no goal", "phantom goal", "wide right" and Buffalo politics. A conspiracy is Enron, the War in Iraq, things like that. Time to focus that type of energy on real problems Budej20. Get well soon.

28 April 2007

Breaking news! Evil woman evil no more! The story on why she loves the Habs! EXTRA! EXTRA!

This just changed my life, an enemy from the other battlecamp changed grounds this morning and has united in mortal kombat to defeat the enemies of the Northeast and beyond with the sacred and beloved Montreal Canadiens.

Got ya, didn't I?

But really, she was *oh no!* forced *oh no!* to write this because she lost by a measly 10 points to Matt in the hockey blogger playoff pool.

[...]"Matthew is evil".

Rule number one:
Leafs fans= evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil evil
Sens fans= evil evil
Habs fans= want to take you out to dinner

Dear Habs,'s it going on the other side of the border, eh? I guess you're pretty cool. I mean "Habbies" even sounds pretty cute.

No woman! We're Habs, as in "Habitants", as in les Canadiens!
Pfft, not Habbies, do you think we're running a teddy bear joint for girls under 4 years old here or something?

Like a cat.
Only if its fur is bleeding bleu, blanc et rouge!

Well, my friend told me the story of how her Aunt's cat was very fidgety and liked to kick things and she was nicknamed "Kung-fu Kitty" and the first connection I made in my head was "Saku Koivu sounds like a Kung-Fu move", ergo....I am going to name my cat Saku Koivu.

Slow down there woman!
Koivu, SAKU KOIVU, a kung-fu fighter? At least make him a kick boxer, cause he's a Finn, c'mon, he's no Jet Li!
And besides, a puny house cat is a weak creature. I see you like cats, how about a big cat?
Why don't you name your new pet lion I'm sending in the mail Saku Koivu?
Or is that too tame?
Ah! I know, my piranha headed, tiger feeted monster would be perfect!
Please inform me as I'm going to package it and send it to you soon!

8. Sheldon Souray's tendency to break his stick was the inspiration for my first ever HNIC drinking game.

The stick breaking was all-planned, you didn't hear?
No! Some evil master minded Sens fans infiltrated Souray's entire stick collection constantly last year so the Habs couldn't win, because some greedy Sens fan (apparently, how interesting, she's a woman!) would rather watch Souray's allegedly awesome body move around from the ice-level and turn towards where his stick broke just so she can get a glimpse of...sigh.
And apparently, she would sit in the same spot game in and game out not caring what the game was all about, just to obssesively observe the one man she desired.
She counted how many times his sticks broke and had a drink for each one at the local bar.

10. [...]You're also one of the few teams that still have to pay a land tax for your arena. Sorry about that.

Ah yes, but in return for the land tax, we actually get a good crowd, probably the best in all of hockey, maybe in all of sports.
And whatyou looking at? Don't you think those Scotiabankers would like it better if the seats were filled 100 straight games, and not just for the playoffs?
The million fan question: would you pay a land tax to get all the Sens fans to come every single game?

2. You're not the Leafs.
Good thinking! I wonder who is dumb enough to mix up a crappy, whiny, baby, Bobcolie blue and white team with a...*dives to his feet* honourable, hard-working, fighting, ActuallyHaveMoreThanOneStanleyCupInlast40years-ing team?

But really, this all is a joke!
Sherry, you did a good job, I just hope for your sake CapsChick doesn't read this (already emailing it to her! :D )and you won't have to redo it!

I'm not that bad of a blogger...mouuuhhouhahaa, am I?

Good morning.

27 April 2007

Wild's Future Promising

Over the last past few days, a couple of Minnesota's youngsters have been named to their respective country's "World Championships" roster. Those two youngsters being american forward Adam Hall and canadian defenseman Nick Schultz.

Schultz was drafted in 2000 by the Wild, 33rd overall, and has been with the young franchise ever since. The 24-year old is scheduled to become an unrestricted free-agent this summer and is expected to be re-signed by the Wild.

To the opposite of Schultz, Hall has been a Minnesota Wild since this year's trade deadline, the day he was acquired from the New York Rangers for forward Pascal Dupuis. Hall is also expected to become an unrestricted free-agent this summer, but has an uncertain future with Minnesota.

Both young skaters are talented and promising: Schultz, a steady defenseman with vast offensive potential, (even though he needs to adjust his skills to the Wild's restricted defensive system) and Hall, a confident forward who loves using his size and strength in the offensive zone.

Kasparaitis? Could be something you picked up in the urinal at the Garden...

You know, this can be perceived as funny or as insulting.
I still don't know where I stand...

10. Saku Koivu
Pronounced: Sack-Ooo Koy-VuuC'mon, Mr. and Mrs. Koivu. That's just not fair, especially since he's going to be playing in Canada, where people end every word with an up-lilt anyway.

9. Jarkko Ruutu
Pronounced: Yar-Ko Roo-TooFun Fact: All of the world's unused vowels eventually find their way to Finland, where they are recycled into names.

8. Guillaume Latendresse
Pronounced: Gee-Ulm La-Ten-DressYou know you have trouble when you play in the heart of Quebec and your name still makes the announcers tongue-tied.

7. Petteri Nokelainen
Pronounced: Pet-Ter-Ee Noke-El-Eye-Nen
Could be a forward for the New York Islanders, could be an artificial additive in that ice cream you're eating. Who knows? And that's why it's fun.

6. Ramzi Abid
Pronounced: Ram-Zee Ah-Beed
His name may not be the funniest on the list, but his nickname is awesome. Before each team flight, his teammates and security personnel call him "Random Search."

5. Jordin Tootoo
Pronounced: Jor-den Too-Too
If he had been a ballet dancer, this would have been doubly hilarious. But J.T. seems to be in on the joke—he wears number 22 (get it?)

4. Jonathan Cheechoo
Pronounced: Jon-a-Thon Chee-Choo
Just edging out close name rival Tootoo, Jonathan gets the extra vote because if you say his last name several times really fast, it sounds like a train.

3. Darius Kasparaitis
Pronounced: Dar-Ee-Us Kas-Per-Eye-Tus
Could be a defenseman for the New York Rangers, could be something you picked up in the urinal at the Garden. Who knows? And that's why it's fun.

2. Yutaka Fukufuji
Pronounced: You-Tak-A Fook-U-Foo-Jee
The first Japanese player to ever play an NHL game, Yutaka's surname dates back to the time his great-great-grandfather told off his arrogant neighbor, Mr. Fuji.

1. Miroslav Satan
Pronounced: Meer-O-Slav Shah-Tan
It doesn't matter how it's pronounced, if this guy gets traded to New Jersey, it's one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

To the dismay of many Quebecers...Shane Doan named captain of Team Canada at WHC...

Shane Doan has been named captain of Team Canada at the upcoming WC in Moscou.

This is a very controversial decision in the eyes of some Quebec hockey fans.

While scanning some message boards this morning, I realized there were many hatrid posts against Doan for his being named captain of Team Canada.

"He's a racist" "He insulted us!"

I understand, as I live amongst Quebecers, that they probably weren't happy to hear Doan insult French-Canadians in a game last season.

But really, some of these people should get on with their lives, a lot of crap is shot in a hockey game.
And trust me, I've been there enough to know what can be said on the ice.

A guy who needs to get on with his life and just forget about this, is Liberal member Denis Coderre (who happens to be a Quebecer)who's taken this a little too far, to put it politely, when he said on CKAC radio and as reported from RDS, that he plans to pursue this decision by bringing it to Canadian PM, Stephen Harper's office.

Monsieur Coderre, again, I understand your disapproval of this situation, but really, is it really worth going through all this just to get a guy off a hockey team?
He's Canadian, so are you, and despite his alledged slur fest last year, he has every right to be in there.

You know why, Mister Coderre, why this has been blown out of proportion? (and I better watch the way I explain myself here, not to offend anyone).

And I'm saying this respectfully to all my fellow French-Canadians, but the only reason this situation got as far as it has, is because it was a French-Canadian that was insulted.

Before you think to insult me, or if you're Denis Coderre, take this matter to Mr. Harper as well, please consider what I have to say.

If the referee Doan nsulted on the ice would have been an American, like "F$#%@!*9^ American", it would be no big deal, we would have never even heard about it.
I just don't get why every single time there's a racial insult on the ice towards a French-Canadian player (see Georges Laraque again)it's such a big deal!

Words are spoken, crap is said, and enough of this should be said.

Get on with your life Mr. Coderre, Shane Doan didn't kill your wife and kids.

And again, Doan was probably carried away when he said that by the emotion of the moment, maybe some French-Canadian born player insulted Doan on the bench, and he felt compelled to return that.
And besides, it was the ol' famous French media that reported this originally, and, that's all you need to know on how this have been COMPLETELY blow out of proportion.

Glad I got that out!

...OK! I know I should end my post right here, but Stephen Harper won't do anything about this. Have fun wasting your time Mr. Coderre!

Incredible...but not unexpected, so long Perezhogin!

Originally reported in a Russian newspaper "Sport Express", it appears that Canadiens forward Alexander Perezhogin has signed a contract with Avangard Omsk of the Russian Super League.

(Read the translated copy, again, thanks to Google here.)

Perezhogin, 23, was considered a bright light for Montreal in the years to come.
And the only reason this was unexpected, is because he probably would get a bigger role in Russia than stay in Montreal and play on the 4th line.

His developpement, has been alarmingly slow, and he's only put up 34 points in 128 career games.
Perezhogin is a quick, although not explosive, forward with a good shot when he uses it who lacks the ability to turn his game up when it is needed most and play consistent defence.
Just because he was +11, doesn't mean he was good in his own end.

He often took stupid hooking penalties in the offensive zone, and was just plain average in the defensive zone.

The only he was +11 is because of linemates Radek Bonk and Mike Johnson, who played spectacular defence while Perezhogin would only watch.
That line may not even be back in Bob Gainey's payroll next year.

Bonk and Johnson are both UFA's, and their status right now is pointing vividly to "unkown".

Perezhogin is well-loved by most Canadiens fans, but never really was a huge factor when it came to games, and especially ice-time.
A top-6 forward in Russia, Perezhogin was at best a 3rd-4th line player in Montreal.

He missed the final 20 or so games of the regular season with a head/neck injury.

Whatever, goodbye Alex.

26 April 2007

Here we go again...Kovalev talk resurfaces...

This is seriously pissing me off, excuse me, but I've had enough of all these bogus journalists bringing Alex Kovalev oriented interviews from Russia into the general media.

At the end of the season, I had a discussion with GM Bob Gainey, Kovalev explained to Pavel Alexandrovich Lysenkov, the author of Kovalev's official biography. I told (Gainey) that I didn't want to be back on the team if I'm treated the same way as I was (this past) season.

Journalists can accuse me of anything they want, I'm not going to give that any importance, Kovalev said. But when your team doesn't support you, when it gives you a secondary role that won't let me play, and all without explanation... that's hard (to digest).

And I wonder why we have trouble getting actual talent here.

I'm not denying Kovalev said this, but I honestly believe that it's another paltry attempt by the Montreal media to stir something up that would get fans and bloggers like me talking about it and move free-agents further away from potentially signing with the Canadiens.

He probably did say this to a Russian interviewer, and good for him, do you think any player of his calibre (although underachieving for his money) and salary is worth being on the 4th line?
I think not, and I will not get into it, but Guy Carbonneau's so sure of himself that he decides to bench Kovalev in the most important game of the season (against Toronto), and again, I will not get into it as I've already done so in previous Kovalev-oriented posts.

Kovalev deserves better treatment than he gets, even if he's not living up to the money he's putting in his wallet.
He may not have the classy Cristobal Huet attitude, but he's not Lou Piniella either.

If I do get into this again, you may find most parts of my post vulgar and emotional.

All I can say now...when will this end?
I hope it'll end with Briere signing with Montreal and Kovalev playing with him.

What? A Habs fan can dream...but can he?

25 April 2007

Michael McKinley...a true hockey writer

This is what CBC tells us about Michael:
A Vancouver resident, Michael McKinley has penned several hockey-themed best-sellers, including The Magnificent One: The Story of Mario Lemieux, Hockey Hall of Fame Legends, Putting a Roof on Winter and Etched on Ice. He has also written for The Guardian (London), The Los Angeles Times and Sports Illustrated. McKinley was selected by the CBC to write the English-language book that will accompany the Hockey: A People's History television series, set for publication in October 2006.

And here's what Random House says about him:
The author of Putting a Roof on Winter and The Magnificent One: The Mario Lemieux Story, Michael McKinley is also a journalist, a documentary filmmaker, and a screenwriter. A Vancouver native, he was educated at the University of British Columbia and at Oxford University. His journalism has appeared in England, the US, and Canada, including the Guardian, Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, and the National Post. He has also written and produced several documentaries for CNN and an episode of South Park.

And here's what Bleu, Blanc et Rouge says about him:
You may have seen him on CBC, read his books, or witnessed him playing pick-up hockey somewhere where ice exists this winter, Michael McKinley's the hockey writer and more importantly, hockey fan, you want to meet.
He was kind enough to offer us some insight on his life and hockey through this interview, and also tells perhaps the best story of Lord Stanley's Cup journey as written in his succesful book Hockey: A People's History and as seen in the television show on CBC (same name).
Thanks again Michael, I hope you all enjoy it!

1) First off, I'd like to congratulate you on your book's "Hockey: A People's History" success.
Tell us, what prompted you to write it in the first place?
Thank you. It was a pleasure to write, and I hope I did the story justice.

I was invited to write the companion book to the CBC TV series “Hockey: A People’s History”, as well as the accompanying children’s book, “Ice Time: The Story of Hockey,” largely because of my previous hockey history, “Putting a Roof on Winter,” which some of the people planning the CBC series had read and liked.

I was inspired by the scope of the project, and the chance to tell as much of the story of this great sport as we could on both page and screen.
It's an epic tale that touches practically all of North America, and this would be the first time that I know of that the (largely North American) history of the game could be found under one cover, as it were.
It was an amazing experience for me, because I benefited so much from working with the TV people, who would send me their research and interviews with people and about places and teams that it would have taken me five years to compile.

2) Growing up, who was your favourite player, your favourite team?
I grew up in Vancouver, and despite having the Canucks to cheer for (or boo and hiss at, for the longest time), I loved the Montreal Canadiens.
I even made my own Montreal hockey sweater using a white sweat shirt and blue and red felt pens when my mother had committed the sin of buying me a Toronto Maple Leaf hockey sweater (yep, I was just like that kid in Roch Carrier's classic tale The Hockey Sweater, except he was in Quebec and I was in Vancouver).
I loved Guy Lafleur for his speed and skill and seemingly effortless ability to light up whatever goalie he was playing against.
The Canadiens of the 1970s defined hockey for me.

3) Now, who is your current favourite player and team?
My favourite player is Trevor Linden, and my favourite team is the Vancouver Canucks (I have a 2.5 year old daughter and she likes the Canucks, so I have to humour her).
I live in just had the pleasure of writing a profile on Linden for Vancouver Magazine, which you can find right here.
Linden is the kind of player who gives you everything he's got in every game he plays.
He's also a tireless worker off ice on behalf of kids with illnesses or who are in tough circumstances, and he does it all without calling any attention to himself.
He scored the winning goal in Vancouver's seventh-game first round playoff victory against Dallas, and he represents the best of that franchise.
He's a great role model to the young Canucks who are coming up, and I hope he signs another deal with the C's next season, as he's currently at the end of a one-year contract.

4) Is Atlanta GM Don Waddell to blame, especially after litteraly selling the farm to get Tkachuk and Zhitnik at the deadline?
I think GM's are under all kinds of quick fix pressures come the trading deadline (and to win the Cup, always), and so I wouldn't single out Don Waddell as being especially ruthless.
He gambled, and his acquisition of Tkachuk and Zhitnik helped Atlanta close out the season quite strongly and got them a playoff spot, because that too was in danger at the trading deadline.
However, Tkachuk bombed in the playoffs, and so did his team.
Waddell just lost his playoff bet; the Thrashers lost the playoff series.
He also gave up some draft picks, and this is the other part of the bet-- hindsight --if those traded picks turn into something.

5) Could Team USA make a serious run to win the upcoming World Hockey Championship? How do the other teams look heading into the event?
You know, I've so preoccupied with the end of the NHL season and the first round of the playoffs that I've paid little attention at all to the Worlds.
I do think that Canada has great goaltending in Cam Ward and Dwayne Roloson, and with a couple of Staal brothers in the line-up should go deep.
The USA has a lot of young guys in their lineup, and who knows-- they might come together as a contender.
It bodes well for the future of US hockey.

6) The Battle of California: the Ducks and Sharks are both very good hockey clubs, wouldn't it be interesting if they faced off and battled to make it to the Stanley Cup Final?
It would be a great series if the Ducks and Sharks met-- but big, tough San Jose has to get through skilled and savvy Detroit, and that's no small task.
Similarly, Anaheim, also a crash and bash team with some serious skill has to contend with the Canucks, who were shocked back into their A-game by Dallas.
The Canucks already had their playoff scare, and I think will play this series in a "nothing to lose" kind of way, and that will be dangerous for the Ducks.

7) Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa are the only Canadian teams to make the playoffs this year, should the NHL consider bringing new franchises north of the border as to attract more fans in a hockey-crazy Canadian market?
I'd love to see NHL franchises in Winnipeg, Quebec City, Halifax (where the game began), and one in Regina.
The NHL can't seriously say that the inclusion of these cities will harm their ability to get a lucrative TV deal in the USA. I mean, look at the TV deal they have now.
The addition of competitive teams in hockey crazy cities would only make the NHL look good, and attract more hockey fans, period.
The league should be looking for success in place where its already waiting for them.

8) Since we're talking about the playoffs, maybe you could share with us who was this Lord Stanley and how did his "Cup" become the most renowned and sought after trophy in all of sports?
Frederick Stanley (AKA Lord Stanley of Preston) was the Governor-General of Canada from 1888 to 1893.

He was an aristocrat, the younger son of the 14th Earl of Derby, who had also been Prime Minister of England. Stanley had been a Member of Parliament himself, as well as an army officer, but at heart he was a gregarious sportsman who loved the vast potential of the new world—and he loved hockey, when he saw his first game at the Montreal Winter Carnival of 1889.

Soon, Stanley’s sons Arthur and Algernon were playing the game on a team called the Rideau Rebels, after Rideau Hall, the Governor-General’s official residence in Ottawa.
His daughter Isobel played in the first recorded women’s hockey match in Ottawa 1891 (though she—and women –played well before that), and Stanley built himself a rink at Rideau Hall and was known to play as well—even on Sundays, which earned him some grief for blaspheming on the Sabbath.

Stanley owned shares in the Ottawa rink in which his favourite hockey team played, the Ottawa Hockey Club, and while he would have loved to see them win his “Dominion Challenge Trophy”, that was not why he gave the sport this extraordinary gift.

The idea of such a trophy had been around in Canadian journals and saloons from the early 1890s, and Stanley saw that hockey was indeed Canada’s “national winter sport”.
Stanley had traveled across Canada, and he saw a young country of huge size and sparse population that was a British dominion next door to much more populous and republican USA. He saw a challenge trophy as a way to express Canadian national identity and to unite a far-flung people through hockey by making it possible, for example, for a team from the Yukon to play a team from Ottawa (as happened in 1905) for what was soon known as the Stanley Cup.
Stanley also saw the widespread play of hockey as a way to keep young men of military service age in shape during the winter, since there were real fears that the US might try to expand its borders.

So the Stanley Cup has a rich history for its being, and a great irony at its core: Lord Stanley never saw a match played for his trophy because he went back to England on the death of his older brother in July 1893 to become the 16th Earl of Derby.
The first Stanley Cup was awarded a few months later.

To me, it’s the greatest sports trophy in the world not just because it’s the oldest professional sports trophy in North America, nor because you have to win sixteen games over a gruelling two month schedule to win it, but because what began as a nationalistic enterprise is now truly international—hockey players from all over the world can come together to compete for it and to win it, not as a nation, but as a team made up of different nationalities who for this season, prove it belongs to them.

9) In your opinion, what does the NHL need to do in order to draw more fans in a "light" American hockey market?
The NHL needs to change its nutbar schedule, so that we here in Vancouver see the Habs or the Leafs or Sidney Crosby more than once every three years. How can you get fans of any stripe excited here if they're seeing Edmonton or Minnesota for the eighth time in a season (and vice versa)? The NHL they want to build regional rivalries. Yes, well, having exciting players and famous teams come in will make the home side play hard, and rivalry will ensue-- if only for that game. Give us some variety. A lot of GM's feel the same way, but a few Eastern GM's are happy with the current schedule, because they can play in their own time zone for months on end, and life is easy. For instance, Martin Brodeur didn't play a game outside of the eastern time zone from November 27 to the end of the season. Sure, a couple of games were in Florida, but it makes a huge difference to the wear and tear on a team and their budget if they can travel to games by bus.

10) And finally, what do you think of my blog? Does it need more Michael McKinley content to spruce it up?
Your blog is great, and I'd be happy to contribute to it whenever you like.
If the Canucks go deep in the playoffs, I'll have lots more to say!

And that's it!

I hope you've enjoyed this little tidbit of mine, it goes along nicely with two other informative interviews the Ghost posted earlier today.

I wonder what's next from Michael?

Canadiens: The Story of the franchise from the Man whose mother bought him a Maple Leafs jersey.

Just kidding there!

Have a good one everyone!

Interview with Inferno272 from (Series Preview)

Here is Inferno272's perspective from Rangers Review on the upcoming Rangers-Sabres series.

What do you expect to be the four forward lines, and the 3 defensive pairs?
The Rangers will likely change up their lines slightly from what we saw against the Thrashers. I also feel these lines will NOT be the same every game, I expect most of the bench to get to play as far as the forwards go.



What are the expected powerplay and penalty kill combinations, and how do you feel your team will matchup against the other team in these aspects?
This may be how this series is won.
Despite the Sabres tremendous offensive firepower, I feel their game is best suited for 5 on 5 or 4 on 4 rather than 5 on 4 situations.
The reason for that, I feel, is because they feed off of transition, and rushes. Generally speaking you don’t rush your way to a goal on the power play as the bluelines tend to be stacked. Instead you have to methodically set up plays.
This is where the Rangers can truly shine, or truly lay an egg.
It all depends on which team shows up.Here are the PowerPlay combinations you should expect to see.
The Rangers play 2 different units and split their time 50/50.

Here is what I expect you to see:

Passing Power Play:Prucha-Nylander-JagrStraka-Rozsival
Shooting Power Play:Hossa-Avery-ShanahanCullen/Rachunek-Mara

How do you expect the goaltending matchup to shake out? How confident would you be if your main goalie went out and your backup had to take over?
This is simple.
If Henrik utterly dominates the game, as he is capable of doing, we will win this series. If he is even slightly off, we could be swept.
Henrik is the best goalie in the league right now. I know a lot of people will point to Luongo, or Brodeur.
The fact is, they haven’t seen Henrik. Henrik, dollar for dollar might be playing the best hockey he has ever played in his career right now.
The pucks must look like beachballs, 90mph slappers must look like 15 mph shankers.

He's just on.

However we have seen him go ice cold from time to time, and when that happens, the Rangers get obliterated.
As far as our 2 backups go…If Henrik is hurt, or for some other reason is unable to perform, you could put Kevin Weekes AND Stephen Valiquette in there at the same time, and we would still lose.
Not that the Sabres are that good (though they are), it's that our backups are that bad.

What is the one aspect of the team that could single-handedly win the series?
Puck possession.

If we have it, you don’t, and we win.
If you have it, we are dead.
It's that simple. As we saw in the series against the Islanders, when the opposing team can force the Sabres to play their game, to slow the pace down, then the Sabres are more than beatable. However if the Sabres can dictate the pace, and if they have the puck for long stretch, there are few teams in history that can light the lamp the way this team does.Jaromir Jagr is going to have to be a beast.
The first line will have to hold and control the play for minutes on end, for the Sabres to dump and chance, and let our other lines do the same. If the first line is unable to do so, a transition war will occur, and you guys will annihilate us.

What could be the team’s Achilles heel this series?
But not the discipline we always talk about.
I am not talking about which team takes the fewer penalties.
I am talking about players staying on assignments, about players not pinching at inopportune times, about not turning the puck over with three men are trapped behind the play.
If the Rangers can stay disciplined in that manner, they can win.

Which player is going to step up unexpectedly to win a game or two?
I don’t think it will be 1 player, I think it will be 1 line.
I think the third line for the Rangers is going to be huge in this one.
Although the Sabres third line is about as good as most teams first line, I think the Rangers third line could give them a run for their money.
The Sabres win because they send wave after wave against you,
I think the Rangers can, and will do the same. Expect big things from Prucha, Cullen and Callahan.

The game is on the line. Who do you want to have the puck?
Jaromir Jagr.
Seriously, would you expect me to say anything else?
There is a reason this guy is widely considered the best player in the league since Mario Lemieux retired.
Because he flat out is. Jaromir Jagr is a beast, he is almost impossible to knock off the puck, and shows Gretzky like vision at times. 32 seconds into game 3, he did a tape to tape pass between 3 Thrashers to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead, and ultimately the series.

How do you feel about the coaching matchup?
If you had asked me this, even just a few weeks ago, I would have said the Sabres held an overwhelming advantage here.
Tom Renney just does so many things that make you scratch your head, that you often have to question his sanity.
However it is tough to argue with the results of the past few months.
You guys wouldn’t have any respect for me if I continued to trash him when the results are actually there, so I will do no such thing. I would call this an advantage for the Sabres, but not by that much. Ruff is a helluva coach, with the kind of fire I wish Renney had.

What 1 or 2 players do you fear from the opponent most?
Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.
These guys are Ranger killers to the nth degree, and won’t show us any merch here.
They can torch our slow defensemen with superb speed to the outside, and they are uber-clutch.
They scare me.

Do you expect this to be an overly physical, rough, or dirty series?
Not unless Avery gets into your heads.
If he does, I expect the Sabres to try to take liberties against him.
If that happens, you can schedule more playoff games for the Rangers, and Sabres fans should look forward to next year.

Without getting too detailed, give us your predictions for this series.
My head is telling me Sabres in 5.
My heart is telling me Rangers in 6. This time, I am going with my heart.
Rangers in 6. While the Sabres offense may be relentless, their defense has some swiss cheese sized holes in it, and Ryan Miller is not even close to being in Henrik Lundqvists league.
The question is, will our D stop you more than your D stops us. My heart tells me yes. Rangers in 6.

Don't forget to visit Rangers Review and check out Inferno's blog.

Interviewed by (Series Preview)

I recently conducted an interview with Rangers Review.

Here is the transcript of this interview and think of it as my personalized preview of the series from the Sabres' perspective.

What do you expect to be the four forward lines, and the 3 defensive pairs?
Good possibility Paul Gaustad could return late in the series

Tallinder-Lydman (will be matched with Jagr every chance Lindy gets)

What are the expected powerplay and penalty kill combinations, and how do you feel your team will matchup against the other team in these aspects?
Lindy has been shuffling the PP and PK combos quite a bit, especially in game 4 and 5 vs. the Islanders.
I think we may see situations where he goes with standard line combinations for the PP and subs in Connolly on the point and Drury with the Briere line.
I expect the Sabres' power play to be effective, but not great.
The Rangers, in my estimation, have a huge advantage in the area of special teams.
Jagr had seven of his 8 points against us on the PP this season and the Rangers looked dangerous every time this season against Buffalo.
If the Sabres play out of control or take foolish penalties the Rangers could take over this seres on special teams.
Add to that the fact that special teams situations slows down the rolling of lines and really takes away from Buffalo's depth advantage.

How do you expect the goaltending matchup to shake out? How confident would you be if your main goalie went out and your backup had to take over?
I think Miller will be excellent.

He got better as the Islanders series went on and he seems to save his best games for the better teams.
I think Jagr, Straka, Shanahan will bring out the best in him.
Henrik Lundqvist is a goaltender who scares me. He is a great goaltender who, when hot, can win a series by himself.
I believe he is a far superior goaltender to Rick DiPietro.
Assuming that both are bringing their a-games it should be a wash.
This series, in my estimation, will basically come down to limiting odd man rushes and getting to the net.
If the goalies see the puck in this series it will not go in.
We may very well have a couple of long OT games in this round.
If either team loses their #1 goaltender they could be in serious trouble. I view Weekes as a better option than Conklin though.

What is the one aspect of the team that could single-handedly win the series?
For the Rangers it would be their power play which can be dominant.
For the Sabres it is their superior depth.
The Sabres generally feast on other teams 3rd and 4th lines. I expect Afinigenov, Roy and Vanek to be difference makers every shift. Also, the Connolly line could have some significant success if they get the right matchups.

What could be the team’s Achilles heel this series?
For the Sabres I would worry about toughness especially around the net.
I am concerned that our defense will have a tough time dealing with the Rangers big strong wingers.
Ryan Smyth was terrific and guys like Jagr and Shanahan could really cause the Sabres problems down low.

Which player is going to step up unexpectedly to win a game or 2?
I really think this could be Derek Roy's chance to shine.
I really think that line will be the difference maker in this series.

The game is on the line. Who do you want to have the puck?
I want the puck on Chris Drury's stick.
The man scores huge, huge goals.
Honorable mention goes to Jason Pominville who also seems to have that knack.

How do you feel about the coaching matchup?
It would appear on face value that Lindy Ruff would have a large advantage.
I have already read a few places where people show no respect for Tom Renney.
It is hard to argue with Lindy's success. I'll give him the advantage.
I think it needs to be said that sometimes the best coaching is being able to get out of your player's way.
I think Renney has done that in New York.

What 1 or 2 players do you fear from the opponent most?
Brendan Shanahan and Henrik Lundqvist.
The fear of Jagr is a given.

Do you expect this to be an overly physical, rough, or dirty series?
I expect it to be extremely physical.
The intensity should be dynamic and the crowds should only feed it.
Interestingly Sean Avery has already gotten the Sabres fans in a lather and he has never played against the Sabres yet with the Rangers.
It is somewhat amusing, he appears to be in the fans heads, here is hoping he doesn't get in the Sabres' heads.

Without getting too detailed, give us your predictions for this series...
Sabres in 6. I expect a few long, long games but the Sabres depth will win out.

24 April 2007

Semi-final playoff predictions

*Coming soon*

Look for Matt and I's playoff predictions sometime today or most likely tomorrow.
I'm busy helping wrap up some taxes, that's why there have been no posts here today or yesterday.

23 April 2007

Game 7: Dallas @ Vancouver

Tonight, the Vancouver Canucks will host the Dallas Stars in what promises to be an epic game 7.

The words "game seven" sometimes there is a pit in your stomach or the hair stands up on your neck.

In a game 7 situation, every shot, save, rebound, penalty, dump in, line change and many other things will be magnified. It is a time where the best players have to be great, and unlikely heroes emerge.

In a game 7 situation, all the players will leave it all on the ice. Tomorrow is guaranteed for only one team. The team who wins will celebrate for a few hours before traveling to their next destination, with almost no rest. The team who loses, will sit and wonder what else they could have done.

As close as this series has been, both teams are deserving to win. Vancouver took 3 of the first 4 games, including 2 overtime games, one of them being the 6th longest game in NHL history when Henrik Sedin scored in the 4th overtime. Taylor Pyatt scored the winner in game 3, and an old guard for the Canucks, Trevor Linden, scored late in game 4 to give the Canucks 2 wins in Dallas. The Canucks won their 3 games, each by one goal. Roberto Luongo has quieted skeptics, in his first playoff series in his seven-year career.

Dallas put in a big effort to win game 2 in Vancouver, and then stellar perfomances by Marty Turco have put the Stars in position to complete the come back. He has quieted his critics for now. Dallas won all of their games via the shutout, including a 1-0 OT win on a goal by Brendan Morrow in Vancouver.

So let us sit back and watch this game 7, the only one of the first round. The entire hockey world will consume one of the greatest nights in sports. The intensity of game 7 are unmatched, and this one will be no different.

22 April 2007

Jamie McLennan an "imbecile"....

UPDATE (3:25 PM EST): I was right! McLennan got 5 games from the NHL, just as Jordin Tootoo got when he punched Stephane Robidas in the face a few weeks ago.

Jamie McLennan entered Game 5 with about 3 minutes remaining in which the Calgary Flames were losing 5-1.of

His ice-time was short-lived, he played only 18 seconds until he got kicked out for a cheapshot on Johan Franzen.

McLennan replaced Kipprusoff, who had allowed 5 goals and looked shaky.

Just as the Flames backup went into the game, the starter came back in.

He was at the edge of his crease and was constantly jabbing at a Wings player (turned out to be Franzen, his eventual victim) screening him, the puck went wide and McLennan went out to play it and just as he skated back into his crease, jabbed Johan Franzen around in the chest area.

Franzen went down to the ice and McLennan savagely fended off a few of the officials that escorted him out of the game and into the Flames dressing room.

Everyone expects a suspension to be announced by the NHL sometime today, and if it should mean anything at all to the Calgary Flames, it'll likely be around 5 games.

Wings fans are going crazy on YouTube: "The Calgary Flames are a bunch of goons."
"McLennan and Calgary Flames go crazy."

And to top it off, Pierre McGuire and Gord Miller both exclaimed on the air "OH MY GOD!" "THAT IS PURE IMBECILITY"

But...what people fail to understand is that it's not important...I mean, McLennan getting suspended is not important, it won't help the Wings at all, Kipprusoff figures to play every single game...
What matters is that Johan Franzen is out...but is he?
Many suggest that Franzen was acting on the play and he dove.

Here is an interesting piece from HockeyNutz

    7. Noodles should be suspended!
    • Flames fan: For what? He hardly hit Franzen and Franzen dove. Noodles should have gotten 2 for the original slash, 2 more for the next one and that is it. Why doesn't Franzen get 2 for high sticking on the play. Yes he was battling with Hamrlik, but the standard is you have to be in control of your stick at all times. He should get high sticking and diving!
    • Wings fan: Playfair should get suspended for sending Noodles out to goon the Wings. Noodles should get suspended for his Simonlike Swing!
    • HockeyNutz: I agree the ref overreacted. My first reaction was it was a major, but watching the replay the second slash was not as serious as Franzen made it out to be. I think this was a brilliant play by Noodles. Send a message to the Wings. Who cares if he gets suspended? He is not seeing real game action unless Kipper goes down...and if Kipper goes down the Flames are done regardless of who backs them up. This was Noodles being the ultimate team guy.

    I wonder how the NHL will see it?
    Probably the Wings' fan's way.

    I also wonder how biased Don Cherry can be?
    Maybe Franzen was acting, but it was an intentional hit from McLennan.
    How can you call it "a little tap" Don?

    But look at it this way too...if Kipper goes down...who will Calgary turn to?
    Brett Khran?

    And McLennan is apparently the best backup in the entire NHL, I once saw a feature about him in Florida, on how he loved being a backup and helping out Roberto Luongo, and how Luongo needed him.

    Ah! Here it is:

    Unleashing the fury...a look at San Jose vs. Nashville

    -I tried to watch Dallas-Vancouver after a not-so-hot crushing of Calgary by Detroit, and the crappy commentating didn't help, but I just couldn't...and ended up falling asleep in the second period and wake up when there were 10 minutes to go.

    The game was low-scoring, and unless there's frantic end-to-end action or your favourite team is in it, they're usually boring to hell.

    Marty Turco looks like a new goalie, the one that shook off his disgusting career playoff stats by posting 3 shutouts in the first round alone, I wonder if he's looking to make a run at the 9 shutout record set by Brodeur a few years back? That is, if the Stars make it that far.
    For the first time in these playoffs...THERE WILL BE A GAME 7!

    I mean, it's about time already, Ottawa took care of the Pens in 5, San Jose dumped Nasville in 5, the Sabres dumped the Isles in 5 too, heck, so did the Ducks when they beat the Wild in 5!
    (Speaking of the Pens, check out what they're doing now)

    The only series that can potentially have a Game 7 are...the Devils vs. Tampa series (3-2 Devils), duh, Vancouver vs. Dallas (3-3 tie), Calgary vs. Detroit (3-2 Detroit), and that's it!

    -SAY WHAT?! Crosby played with a broken foot through mid-March?
    And that's why he won't play for Team Canada at the WC?
    Of course, now the media will make such a big buzz (and fans too), on how the Pens could've beat the Sens if Crosby were 100%.
    And what makes this even better, is that Crosby believes he broke it while blocking a shot against...guess who? Montreal!
    You can tell I don't like the guy.

    -Sad news from Tampa, according to Ice Chips, 38-year old captain Tim Taylor has a degenerative hip condition and it might end his career.

    -Tough guy Colton Orr (2-years $1.75 million), and dancer Ryan Hollweg (2 years $1.25 million) each got contract extensions from the Rangers.

    With the Preds out, I guess it'd be nice if I bid them adieu...

    San Jose Sharks

    The Hero: Patrick Marleau
    Marleau portrayed the same finesse he had in the regular season by potting 3 goals, 1 game winner and adding 3 assists.

    The Zero: Marcel Goc
    1 assist in 5 games in pathetic for Goc.
    And Mark Bell's a healthy scratch? Pffft.

    The Unsung Saviour: Craig Rivet
    Acquired at the deadline from the Canadiens, Rivet's been a leader on defence for Ron Wilson's squad, and surprisingly, on offence as well.
    The veteran defenceman had only career 1 playoff goal in 11 seasons heading into the series, he's doubled his career high with 2, and is second only to Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton with 5 points.
    He's a strong presence in the dressing room, and I can't stop reading about how Sharks fans all love him.

    The Sniper: Milan Michalek
    Craig Rivet didn't know who Milan Michalek was, once he arrived in California.
    He sure knows now.
    The young forward is an offensive machine, and has scored 4 times already this series.

    The X-Factor: Joe Thornton
    Isn't it obvious?
    The Sharks need Joe Thornton, if they expect to win the Stanley Cup.
    Marleau and Cheechoo can't do it by themselves, they'll need last season's Hart winner to help them.
    Thornton, who had for the second time in the past two seasons, more than 90 assists.
    He has 6 so far in 6 games.
    HONORABLE MENTIONS: Evgeni Nabokov, Jonathan Cheechoo

    The Comebacker: Craig Rivet
    Well, I can't really find anyone else except him, he went from pneumonia in Montreal, to 2nd scorer in San Jose.

    The Minute Men: Craig Rivet and Marc-Edouard Vlasic
    How many times has Rivet's name come up? (I thinks it's going to be 5)
    Anyhow, the young Vlasic (who has just come off a season in junior) is playing with an 11-year veteran, and it's turned out to be a good combination for San Jose.
    Both are upwards of 23 minutes per game, with Rivet getting 26.

    Interesting: Marc Bell and Joe Pavelski
    Not enough room on the team for both, Pavelski's going in and Bell should get used to the press-box.

    Nashville Predators

    The Hero: J.P. Dumont
    After a decent regular season, the former Sabre scored 4 times and added 2 assists for 6 points in a losing cause.
    He also led the team in +/- with a +4 rating. Dumont also did not take a penalty.

    The Zero: Paul Kariya
    Dissapointed big-time.
    Karyia had 2 assists and was a team worst -4.
    He should've stepped his game up, instead, he stepped down.

    The Unsung Saviour: Alexander Radulov
    You could argue that the hit-from-behind on Steve Bernier in Game 2 was the turning point of the series, even if the Preds won, Radulov had 3 goals in the first 2 games and was looking like a God.
    After a 1-game suspension, he came back and did nothing.

    The Sniper: JP. Dumont
    He scored 4 times on 8 shots, how better can you get?
    Oh yeah? Score me 4 goals on 8 shots in the NHL and we'll talk.

    The X-Factor: Peter Forsberg
    Acquired from the Flyers, Forsberg's transition back to the Western Conference was slow and very frustrating.
    He did not have a good stint with Nashville in the regular season, but, he was once the best player in the world, and the Preds believed he can do it again and help them in the playoffs.
    He did have 4 points in the playoffs, which was acceptable for most Preds fans, but you could feel that the "ripped" arrow is beginning to point at David Poile after giving up Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent and a 2nd rounder for him.
    HONORABLE MENTIONS: Tomas Vokoun, Steve Sullivan

    The Comebacker: JP Dumont
    It's the second time in two teams that a name has appeared 3 times, Craig Rivet for San Jose and now Dumont again for Nasvhille.
    His regular season was good, but his playoff performance was even better.
    4 goals, 2 assists, 6 points in 5 games and a +4 rating.

    The Minute Men: Kimmo Timonen and Ryan Suter.
    Another youngster playing with a veteran, they got nearly 24 minutes of ice-time and were solid game-in and game-out for Nashville.
    And "solid" is not pushing it, the pair combined for an EVEN rating.

    Interesting: Ramzi Abid, Darcy Hardichuk and Jerred Smithson
    The trio (Abid and Hardichuk played in 2 games, Smithson in all 5.) combined for a total of 0 shots on goal in 15 minutes of total ice-time.
    I mean, come on, you are enforcers, but not even 1 shot on goal?
    If Tootoo can get 3, than so can you.

    21 April 2007

    So long, farewell, the Islanders and Predators are gooonne!

    So long! Farewell! Auf wierdesehen, goodbye!

    From the classic "Sound of Music"

    And that little line perfectly tells us fans what happened to two teams yesterday night, as the battle for Lord Stanley's Cup is getting narrowed down.

    First off, those New York Islanders...tss, tss...the Islanders drop Game 5 last night in Buffalo, 4-3 and they have been eliminated from the playoffs.
    It wasn't too unexpected, although, many thought this would be a sure sweep.

    The Islanders played a good series and you can see the potential that this team has, the potential to be an even better team.
    What I'm wondering come they haven't become a better team?

    I'd like to the Islanders become kind of like the Rangers, in terms of progress, and make a run for the division next year.
    The Rangers have been improving ever since their pre-lockout (sad...) laughstock and the Islanders should do the same.
    Well, not this year, since New York didn't even finish 10 points above the Isles, but I'm also thinking about last season, when the Rangers were making a serious run to win the Atlantic.

    Not saying the Isles are a laughstock, but, they're just...the same, the same as they were before the lockout.
    Make the playoffs, as the 8th seed, lose to the Lightning or the Sabres in 5 games.
    And it could be even tougher to win the Atlantic Division, with teams like New Jersey, Pittsburgh, their cross-town foes and possibly the reinstatement of the Flyers, might make the Atlantic Division the best in all of hockey.

    It didn't help the Islanders that Sean Hill wasn't in the lineup, after he was awarded a 20-game suspension for taking "performance-enhancing drugs", or as the NHL likes to call it, "substance-abuse".

    I'd also to commend Ted Nolan's fantastic work behind the bench, he has been by far better than his predecessors and he probably deserves the Jack Adams award, he's been that great...
    His team played, in the final month of the season, as if all their games were Game 7, as if they all counted (they did) should they make the playoffs or not.

    I also congratulate Rick DiPietro for doing his best in goal, even after his return from injury, and his backup Wade Dubielewicz, who has earned himself a roster spot next year and potentially 10-15 starts behind DiPietro.
    Dubie also got them there down the stretch, but it was DiPietro who carried the team on his back for the most of the season before getting injured.

    Garth Snow surprised everyone in his rookie year, and made some good moves, most notably getting Ryan Smyth.
    Who says a backup goalie can't be a GM? He knows the players better than a GM, he's PLAYED against them!

    The Sabres were just overmatching them in every category.

    Even in goal, when Ryan Miller made a spectacular save in the dying seconds of Game 5 with his hand, and blindly!

    "I panicked,"said Miller,"and luckily I got a hold of it!"

    The Islanders haven't gotten past this round since 1993.
    That's about 14 years!

    And the Preds go down...again.

    I know the Preds are still a "young" team in terms of longetivity in the NHL, but, I am beginning to wonder if the label "choke" should be associated with them?

    03/04: Lost to Red Wings in quarter finals 2-4
    05/06: Lost to Sharks in quarter finals 1-4
    06/07: Lost to Sharks in quarter finals 1-4

    It's also funny that it's been San Jose knocking them off, and the way things looked between the teams in this series, it could be the start of a nice new rivalry.

    I just don't understand...yes, San Jose is a very good team, but the Predators are supposed to be better!

    When, when will Nashville finally show they can play in the regular season, and advance in the playoffs?

    They have the team, they got Forsberg for chrisssakes! They got Arnott, Kariya, Vokoun, quality d-men, a scary offense!
    Their team has been constantly progressing, from 91 points, to 106 points, to 110 points, what's next? 120 points and getting swept from the first round?

    The Sharks will most probably face the Red Wings in round 2, should the latter drop the series to Calgary.

    Patrick Marleau scored with under 5 minutes remaining to put away a vastly improved Predators team.

    "We kept putting our fingers on the stove, and we got burnt by it," said Nashville coach Barry Trotz."

    And says his job may be in jeopardy, since the team's dropped 3 straight quarterfinal series.

    I say no, Trotz is a great coach and there's no way they can get rid of him, not after the way he's made his team better, but they haven't made themselves any better by losing again last night, 3-2 against San Jose.
    Then again, if Julien gets fired on the verge of a hundred point season, so can Trotz.

    sigh, this is really an enigma.

    Or maybe it was that Tomas Vokoun wasn't as good as he should've been, or simply Evgeni Nabokov was better.

    Or maybe it was just meant to be.

    Happy golfing Preds!

    -The Devils shut out Tampa 3-0 on home ice and take a 3-2 lead in the series. Martin Brodeur finally played a good game after allowing a few weaks goals in the previous games.

    20 April 2007

    Wild Offseason Preview

    The Expression on Niklas Backstrom's face says it all...

    The Wild's season having ended abruptly last night in Anaheim, I thought this was in order:

    Minnesota Wild: 48-26-8, finished 2nd in Northwest Division, 7th in the Western Conference. Were eliminated by the Anaheim Ducks, in 5 games (1-4).

    1) Current financial obligations

    W Marian Gaborik, 6.50 M$
    W Pavol Demitra, 4.50 M$
    W Mark Parrish, 2.65 M$
    W Brian Rolston, 2.43 M$
    C Dominic Moore, 0.70 M$
    W Branko Radivojevic, 0.68 M$
    W Stephane Veilleux, 0.59 M$
    TOTAL: 18.50 M$

    C Todd White
    C Wes Walz

    C Pierre-Marc Bouchard
    C Mikko Koivu
    W Derek Boogaard
    W Adam Hall

    Kim Johnsson, 4.80 M$
    Keith Carney, 2.10 M$
    Petteri Nummelin, 1.00 M$
    Brent Burns, 0.87 M$
    TOTAL: 8.77 M$

    Martin Skoula

    Nick Schultz
    Kurtis Foster

    Manny Fernandez, 4.50 M$
    TOTAL: 4.50 M$

    Niklas Backstrom

    Josh Harding

    2) Needs and Donts

    - Along with his average 44 points, Todd White proved that he was expendable from the Wild's point of view. With the acquisition of Dominic Moore (as a late pickup), White's role was once again questioned and undecided:

    Was he going to be Minnesota's 3rd line center or 4th ?
    Was he going to be the Wild's 2nd line center if Mikko Koivu ran out of gas, was he going to be able to fill the role he was signed to occupie ?...

    Wild fans are still wondering why White was signed... but the sure thing is he is expendable with the presence of the speedy Dominic Moore. Another question is if he can find a better job elsewhere, plenty of factors for his unprobable re-signing.

    - Martin Skoula was a decent defenseman during his stay with the Wild, he even proved that he could bring a steady presence to it's defensive core, but I think that he is due for a change, and so are the Wild. With an important lack of defensemen who can play steady defense and score goals, Doug Risebrough might start targeting defensemen like Brian Rafalski (if not re-signed by NJ), Brent Sopel (if not re-signed by VC) and Brad Stuart (if not re-signed by CGY) who could spark the Wild's offense as well as providing serious defense.

    - Manny Fernandez, once again, showed the Wild why he cannot be trusted with the starting goalie's role, without having a precise and reliable plan B... B for Backstrom?
    Backstrom will probably be re-signed and start the '07-'08 campaign as Minnesota's no.1 keeper. On the other hand, Fernandez's salary is at a hefty 4.5 million dollars with an immediate 4.33 million dollar cap-hit, which, if not starting, is completely ridiculous to pay him. Backstrom might also only want to sign with the Wild if Manny is completely out of the way... thus rendering a Fernandez trade probable. Interested teams might include the Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers and the Los Angeles Kings... but add a severe knee injury and Manny's age, 34, to the case, and you appear to be a clear loser... Even though Risebrough might not get a good player in return for Fernandez, a trade would be a complete gain for the Wild, loosening up all that important cap space, and a clear sign of relief.

    3) Offensive Preview

    - The Wild's first line for the 2007-2008 season is set (Gaborik/Koivu/Demitra), which causes the focus to be on the "less important" combinations for the Minnesota Wild.

    - Rolston is a sure lock on the 2nd line and so is Pierre-Marc Bouchard, but can Mark Parrish, who had a despicable season with 39 points in 76 contests, regain the form he had when he scored at least 25 goals "some many seasons ago" ? That is an important clause for the Wild's second line.

    - The 3rd line is also uncertain, with a mix of gritty forwards looking in on it, Dominic Moore, Branko Radivojevic, Stephane Veilleux and Adam Hall will give it their all to make it onto the young franchise's 3rd assortment of offensive players.

    - I would also not be suprised to see the Wild go after a certain number of gritty and experienced forwards, to fill a certain number of spots on both of their 3rd and 4th lines.

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    Islanders' Sean Hill, hopefully, first and last player to get nabbed for cheating...

    This isn't baseball, it's hockey.

    Islanders defenceman Sean Hill has been suspended 20 games by the NHL for "violating" the league's substance-abuse policy, blah, blah, he was suspended for taking 'roids!

    By God, it was about time someone got caught, too bad it had to be a formely respectable player in Hill.

    I can imagine why he did it though, old age, no one's gotten caught, his body's breaking down, but still.

    I hope, that for the NHL's reputation (which is already shaky), that this is the first and last time someone gets caught, although, I doubt it.

    Dick Pound must be feeling really good about himself just around now...

    Unleashing the fury...a look at Ottawa vs. Pittsburgh

    The Senators celebrate after a well deserved victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
    Take 2 from this feature.

    -YES! The Senators finally won and beat PIT yesterday, I was acutally kinda proud to see Ottawa knock of them Pens, I had enough of this crap of Crosby and Malkin and Fleury and how they're all Gods...guess what? THEY'RE NOT!
    But really, the Sens were the better team and the final of last night's game proves it.
    -And lookie here, the Flames tie up the series, I wonder if they can finally win in Detroit tomorrow night...
    -Bye-bye Wild! You cost me a chance to take a lead in the online hockey bloggers' playoff pool.

    Ottawa Senators

    The Hero: Daniel Alfredsson
    Once again, the hero for the higher ranked team is the captain. (Drury for Buffalo)
    Daniel Alfredsson has just been stupendous this series!
    He's scored 3 times and added 3 assists to lead his team in production and in the dressing room.
    After subpar playoff performances in the recent years, Alfredsson stepped his game up a notch (as did the Senators) and was just, I don't know, he was the HERO and that's it.
    And playing alongside Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza isn't hurting him either.

    The Zero: none
    It's hard to say anyone was a zero for Ottawa, the entire team played great, although, Chris Phillips was just average.

    The Unsung Saviour: Chris Kelly
    Inconsistent play from Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza have finally pulled Kelly out of the pair's shadow.
    Kelly is +5 this series, leading his team and is second on his team in scoring with 4 points and tied with the captain for 3 goals.
    He has been absolutely flawless on defence and his shooting percentage is a nice 42.9%.
    Not bad for a guy whO's getting less ice time than Heatley and Spezza (both are a minus)

    The Sniper: Mike Comrie
    Laugh about this too, but Comrie's had a terrific run so far.
    Sure he has as many goals as Heatley and Spezza (whom I'm purposely ignoring), but he also has that extra spark to his game than both Spezza and Heatley have yet to show me this series.
    I like Comrie, and I think he was a great acquisition by John Muckler.

    The X-Factor: Jason Spezza
    Alfredsson can't carry the team on his own forever, Spezza needs to step his play up to support both him and Heatley, not saying Alfredsson can't do it, but it would be nice if Spezza would show up more in these playoffs, like in the season, and help wake up Heatley while he's at it.
    You could say he was the jack-of-all-trades in the regular season, he has not yet been in the playoffs, and for the Senators to go far, he needs to be that.


    The Comebacker: Joe Corvo
    Debate my decision if you like, but you'll lose, as Corvo's looking like a new man in the playoffs.
    After a surprisingly great start to the seaon, Corvo faded away and only shades of his offensive prowess appeared from time to time.
    This is the Joe Corvo we've been waiting for.
    He shoots the puck a lot, he's a great skater and he's the guy you want on the powerplay, not Wade Redden.
    He has 4 assists and nearly put up a couple of goals.

    The Minute Men: Anton Volchenkov, Chris Phillips and Wade Redden
    All of the above aberage nearly 22 minutes per game, and they are all sound and solid in their own end.
    Volchenkov blocks the shots and puts on the body.
    Phillips looks like a Norris candidate.
    Wade Redden? Well, ahem, he could do better.

    Jordan Staal, the only true bright light for the Penguins this series.

    Pittsburgh Penguins

    The Hero: Jordan Staal
    It would've been Crosby here, but he scored 3 useless goals, so he's not really a hero.
    Staal had a terrific series, he scored 3 times, and all his goals MEANT something, he continued his regular ways, accomplishing a mere 0 assists, just like during the regular season.
    He was phenomenal on the penalty kill, generating many chances a man short.
    Hats up to this Staal!

    The Zero: Ryan Malone
    It's funny that Malone didn't even get a point this series and seemed invisible on the ice.
    He was terrible defensively, gave the puck away a few times and his -4 rating proves it.
    Zero, zero, zero, check out his playoff stats.
    Boy, he's a REAL zero.

    MENTION: Evgeni Malkin (despite 4 assists, he played some horrible uninspired hockey)

    The Unsung Saviour: none
    There was no real saviour for any of the Pens' games this series.

    The Sniper: Gary Roberts
    2 goals on 4 shots tells you why he's been chosen as "The Sniper."
    Not even Crosby can beat that.

    The X-Factor: Sidney Crosby
    Wasn't it obvious?
    Of course, Crosby was the Penguins only hope to beat the Sens.
    Forget about Staal, Malkin and Whitney, he's the X-Factor, the leading scorer, he's the one that needed to carry them.
    He's only 19, I don't know if anyone expected him to do it really.

    The Comebacker: none
    Try, just try to find someone for this category.

    The Minute Man: Sergei Gonchar
    Leading the team with nearly 27 minutes per game, Gonchar's ice-time is well deserved.
    The hard-shooting defenceman may take the occasional hooking penalty, but he's dependable and serviceable on the offence, and certainly on the powerplay.
    The runner-up is the young Ryan Whitney, with about 23 minutes per game.

    19 April 2007

    Unleashing the fury...a look at Buffalo and New York...

    Buffalo Sabres' captain Chris Drury at practice this morning, is the HERO of the Sabres this series.

    I guess I can afford this little feature on every playoff series out there now.

    Buffalo Sabres

    The Hero: Chris Drury
    Drury's showing why he's wearing the "C" on his jersey.
    The big-hearted captain is leading his team in every aspect of the game, he's flourished on offence, he has 4 goals in the first 4 games of this series, and has been playing some great defence.
    He looks commited to winning it all this time around and I don't know if anything living and moving can stop him.
    And one word can also describe him: "clutch"

    The Zero: Ales Kotalik
    "Ales Kotalik's offensive production, if found, please return to Buffalo Sabres."
    Where the heck has Ales Kotalik been venturing off into for the past few weeks?
    He came off a serious injury and has been a zero all along.
    He has yet to collect a single point and his ice time seems to be waning.
    Good riddance.

    The Unsung Saviour: Dainius Zubrus
    The hard-hitting and hard-passing forward is settling into a consistent offensive force.
    Playing alongside Chris Drury, Zubrus has 5 assists in 4 games and his linemate Drury, has 4 goals.
    He's pushed Maxim Afinogenov down to the 4th line, and he has his strong play to thank for that. Zubrus has become a very good player along the boards for the Sabres and his behind-the-net plays are always fun to watch.

    The Sniper: Brian Campbell
    Campbell played on the blue-line with the slapping Sheldon Souray in the ASG earlier in February and is looking a lot like his all-star counterpart now.
    His presence on the blue-line has not gone unmentioned, he's put 2 pucks in the back of the net and added 2 helpers to go with 13 shots on goal.
    Campbell is also leading his team's defence corps with a total of 15:00 minutes of ice-time on the powerplay, a serious margin over the Russian-born Dmitri Kalinin (9:19 minutes)

    The X-Factor: Daniel Briere
    Briere, the co-captain and the creme-de-la-creme of his team's offensive spread, has been a consistent and productive player for Lindy Ruff throught this one.
    He has 4 points and is looking like the Briere we have enjoyed all season long.
    Briere and Drury have been key for Buffalo and if they hope to go far, the X-Factor title will be well merited by Briere.

    The Comebacker: Tim Connolly
    Connolly missed all but two games in the regular season due to one of his usual concussion sagas and has rebouned in fine fashion in the playoffs.
    The former 5th overall pick is logging a good amount of ice time and he's playing with grit, but you can feel he's still a little rusty.
    Just wait, the Syracuse-native will knock your socks off.

    The Minute Man: Tony Lydman
    The smooth skating defenceman is averagin nearly 25 minutes per game, and in Buffalo with all that great depth, you know that's good.
    Lydman's been a force in his own end and there's no indication Ruff won't up his ice-time more.

    Interesting: Jochen Hecht
    He leads his team in shots on goal with 16 and has yet to score a goal, let alone get a point.

    New York Islanders

    The Hero: Rick DiPietro
    After suffering from various concussion-like syndromes over the last month, Rick DiPietro's return to action for the Islanders was a huge success.
    The "Rock" showed everyone his magic and made spectacular saves and won Game 2 for New York practcally all on his own and has stolen the show this series for the Isle.
    He is the reason the Islanders have any hope of advancing, with respect to "Dubie", the "Rock" has reclaimed his no.1 job back.
    And boy, is he better than ever.

    The Zero: Alexei Yashin
    Ted Nolan finally realized his captain wasn't producing and demoted him to the 4th line with Andy Hilbert and Richard Park, hardly the company he had on the 1st line.
    He also saw shades of the bench in Game 4 for New York and the media our of New York is going beserk.
    "Time to buy out Yashin, time to cut ties with him, time to get rid of him"
    Maybe it is time to dump him, but, the only chance of doing that will be if they pay 2/3 of his current remaining contract total, which would clear up $3 million annually for the Islanders and eat up $6 million annually.
    Now the question I ask: Is it worth paying $6 million and saving only 3 to dump Yashin? I mean, he didn't have that horrible of a season.

    The Unsung Saviour: Arron Asham
    Laugh all you like, but Asham got the ice-time he deserved from Ted Nolan on the 2nd line and I think his strong play in Games 3 and 4 will earn him this title.
    Asham has a hell of a shot and despite only 1 goal this series, it feels like he should have more.
    He's one of those guys that shakes things up for his team with either a hard hit or a hard shot.
    Asham's also going to surpass the team's highest paid player and "Zero" in ice-time per game tomorrow night.

    The Sniper: Trent Hunter
    Trent Hunter's current performance is an indication of the solid season he had, Hunter's got 2 goals and he's playing some inspired hard hockey.
    Not afraid to use his body or meddle with the goalie, Hunter's been in the right place in the right time for New York, especially (duh) around the crease area so far.
    He's also the only Islanders' player to have more than 1 goal on his stat sheet.

    The X-Factor: Ryan Smyth
    You can argue that Ryan Smyth's output after THE trade, wasn't as good as the Islanders would've liked or expected.
    Nevertheless, Captain Canada's putting up quite a show, he's like a wild moose set loose from his cage.
    He's going hard into the corners and his forecheck is phenomenal.
    He's also doing very well on offence and leads the Islanders in points so far in the playoffs.
    He one of their top players now, alongside Jason Blake, and he will be key for the Islanders heading into Friday night's potential last game for them.

    The Comebacker:none
    Although, you can say Rick DiPietro should be here.

    The Minute Men: Marc-Andre Bergeron and Tom Poti
    Both are averaging nearly 27 minutes of ice-time and both have put up 2 and 3 points respectively.
    They are iron men on the point and have a nice offensive side too.
    Watch out Tony Lydman.

    Michael McKinley interview to come soon...

    I will post an interview between myself and hockey book author Michael McKinley probably sometime in the next few days.

    In the meanwhile, you can read a short biography about McKinley...

    The author of Putting a Roof on Winter and The Magnificent One: The Mario Lemieux Story, Michael McKinley is also a journalist, a documentary filmmaker, and a screenwriter. A Vancouver native, he was educated at the University of British Columbia and at Oxford University. His journalism has appeared in England, the US, and Canada, including the Guardian, Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, and the National Post. He has also written and produced several documentaries for CNN and an episode of South Park.

    The Down Side of Video Replay

    Sorry I have been away, I have had some computer trouble....

    The most unfortunate thing about the video replay controversies in the Sabres - Islanders series is that they have taken away from the real story of a hard fought series. Instead of people talking about the drive and determination of Ryan Smyth and the clutch play of Chris Drury people keep talking about replay. It is a shame. For the record I think they got both calls right. From what I witnessed it is obvious that the Vanek goal was ,in fact, in the net across the goal line.

    I also can empathize with the Islander's fans who feel robbed with last nights "no goal." Empathy aside, it appears to have been the right call. The logic referee Mike Leggo cited was that the puck was out of sight when Miller was pushed, therefore the fact the puck entered the net was not in dispute. The argument was whether or not his being pushed in caused it to enter the net. It is an opinion play. In Leggo' opinion the puck entered the net as a result of the push. As it wasn't visible there is no way to controvert his opinion. The fact that the puck entered is irrelevant because in Leggo's opinion the play ended when Miller was pushed into the net by Satan and Witt. Therefore the call was right in the eyes of the rulebook.

    It is curious to me that the result of replay has led to far more disallowed goals than finding of "missed" goals. For a league that strives for offense it is an interesting conundrum. Getting it right often takes the excitement out of the game. I suppose in this day and age replay is necessary, but it is a shame that it ends up hurting the very game it was designed to help all too often.

    18 April 2007

    Adapt or Die

    Welcome to the new NHL.

    If the Devils are going to beat Tampa Bay, they need to play to their strengths - and Tampa Bay's weaknesses.

    The Devils can't trap Tampa to death. The Lightning's passing have shattered the trap, breaking straight through a defense which has been the Devils' bread and butter since Jacques Lemaire and the 1995 championship. Lecavalier and St. Louis skate right through a trap which no longer features Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, and Bobby Holik to physically punish them and take them off their game. They're too big, too strong, and are too good at controlling the puck.

    The Devils can't out-forecheck Tampa. Whatever the weaknesses of Tampa's bottom lines, physicality isn't one of them. In games 2 and 3 Tampa came out and punished the Devils, taking the play to the Devils end of the ice, and playing to their strengths - and the Devils' weakness. Andy Greene, Johnny Oduya, Paul Martin, and Brian Rafalski are very good hockey players - Andy Greene is much better than I thought, he's been great - but they buckle under the pressure applied to them. There's no Scott Stevens, no Scott Niedermayer.

    But in game 4, the Devils did what they are going to need to do to beat Tampa Bay. And it sounds completely insane, on the face of it.

    If the Devils are going to beat the Lightning, they're going to do it playing firewagon hockey.

    I know, it sounds ridiculous. But think about it - the Devils are built to be a skating team. The checking line, once Bobby Holik and Randy McKay, is now John Madden and Sergei Brylin, players who can take the puck and move it out fast on their feet. They can't stop Lecavalier and St. Louis, but they can tie them up a little and skate it out on the counterattack. Tampa Bay has two lines comprised of three players - Lecavalier, St. Louis, and Richards - who are run ragged by Tortorella even if they are playing against the trapping, sitting-back New Jersey Devils. If the Devils start to make them skate on every shift, that fatigue will play more of a factor than it does currently.

    Moreover, everyone on the Devils can skate (with the exception of Mike Rupp). The EGG line looks lethargic, but they're not playing to their strengths - they're sitting in the neutral game, waiting for the game to come to them. They've got to take the game to Tampa, to the third and fourth lines of the Lightning. Make them skate with you, don't bring yourself down and skate with them. The Parise line is much the same way - skate with them! Take the game to them! Let them take it back against you - the Devils are never going to be a bad neutral-zone team, and the skating defensemen will be better suited for an end-to-end matchup. Besides, you've still got Lukowich and Matvichuk to play the other game if necessary - and Lukowich is no slouch on his skates, either.

    Call me crazy. The Devils are losing when they try to play Devils hockey against Tampa Bay. But when they play Tampa hockey against Tampa bay, things seem to change. The chances start adding up for the Devils, the flow starts going back towards Tampa, and quickly, instead of a slow drag into the Devils defensive zone, allowing Lecavalier and St. Louis to set up their deadly offense. Yeah, Tampa's deadly in transition too, don't get me wrong, but they'll get tired faster playing the skating game instead of the trapping game and Tortorella doesn't have the bench to go to once he's past his superstars.

    Plus, Tampa's defense completely fell apart tonight once the Devils changed the game on them. Parise got open. Gomez got open. Elias got open. Holes opened up in the ice as the tide turned as the typical Devils iceberg turned into a river. Don't get me wrong, you'll see the Devils defense have issues too - but at least they'll be areas where the Devils are playing to a strength of 2/3 of their defense, instead of the trapping game which they really aren't suited to play anymore without Stevens or Daneyko.

    These aren't the same old Devils anymore. It's time they stopped trying to play the game like they were. If they don't, Tampa's going to eat them alive, slowly, one goal at a time.

    © 2007 Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.

    All Rights Reserved. The content of this blog is the sole opinion of these bloggers and does not represent an opinion of any kind of a professional NHL hockey team mentioned.