Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Belfour was never the elite goaltender in his time. Of course, playing in the same era with the likes of Dominik Hasek, Patrick Roy, and Martin Brodeur have something to do with it. However, Belfour put up similar numbers and won a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999. He has also won the Vezina Trophy twice, been a Calder Trophy recipient, and is third in wins all time. All of that means he gets into the Hall on the first ballot.
Having fallen short on his first ballot last year, Nieuwendyk is quite possibly the quietest player to have reached 500 goals in his career. By quiet, I mean he never got the recognition that the likes of Theo Fleury, Mike Modano, or Brett Hull got in their careers. Despite all that, he managed to win the Calder Trophy and was a part of three Stanley Cup teams (Calgary in '89, Dallas in '99, and New Jersey in '03). In short, he was a winner.
"Killer" has been on the ballot since 2006, and should have been in the Hall last year. Gilmour was a Stanley Cup winner in '89, and has won the Selke Trophy for best defensive forward. The most well-rounded player of the four going into the Hall this year and the face of the Maple Leafs in the 90's.
The man with the longest wait of the four was Mark Howe. On the ballot since 1998, Mark Howe didn't do so badly for being the son of Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe. 405 goals in his career while playing in the WHA and NHL isn't a bad number, until you realize that he was a defenseman. While not on the same level as Mr. Hockey, Mark Howe carved out his own legacy and can say that he played on the same line as Mr. Hockey, having done so with the Hartford Whalers in the WHA.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Icethetics, we now have first pictures of the new jersey the Panthers will be wearing in the 2011-12 season. Now, when I first saw these jerseys during the televised first round of the NHL Draft, I felt that there was something missing, namely the white separating the red from the blue, like there was on the Panthers' original red threads. Looking at the jerseys now, I still think having some white separate the red from the blue would make things great, but given that there is an absence of piping on the jerseys like there were on the navy blues and the road whites, perhaps it was for the best. The new reds are simplified, and should be an instant hit for Panthers fans...all 100 of them (kidding).
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Once again, the Washington Capitals failed to make the Conference Finals, something the team last achieved in 1998. Alex Ovechkin had a down year, but was his usual self when the season was nearing its end. Unfortunately, he needs help come playoff time. It would be great if Semyon Varlamov could claim the starting job, something he lost to Michal Neuvirth. Though Neuvirth struggled in the Tampa Bay series, it looks like Neuvirth will be the starter next season, and Varlamov will have to pick up his game to challenge for that spot. John Carlson put up respectable numbers on the blue line in the regular season, but like everyone not named Ovechkin, Carlson struggled mightily. Carlson figures to be better next season.
All of the expectations that were put on the Canucks this year, all for naught by one game. Despite having an APB put out for them in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, were present for everything else, and never was the more evident than when Daniel took his turn with the Art Ross Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award. The Roberto Luongo saga never ends, and his maddeningly inconsistent playoff career was on display for all to see. Great regular season, up and down playoffs...that's Luongo for you, and now, the pressure will be even higher on him to come through next season. Dan Hamhuis was everything the Canucks expected of him, and when he went down to injury in game one of the Finals, the Canucks felt his absence.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Filatov was supposed to be an offensive weapon for the Blue Jackets when he was drafted 6th overall in 2008. In 44 games, he only managed 13 points and was a headache for the Blue Jackets the likes that only Nikolai Zherdev could claim. While Zherdev has been a headache for the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers (and a KHL team) since then, one gets the feeling that Filatov could very well be following that same path of a talented player who causes more problems for the team he plays for than the ones he's facing. Filatov's most (in)famous moment in Columbus was his clash with then-head coach Ken Hitchcock in the 2009-10 season that saw him finish in the KHL that season. Last season saw him flounder in the AHL after a failed stint with the Blue Jackets.
So, what does that mean for both the Senators and Blue Jackets? Well, the Blue Jackets are rid of one headache, but now have another first round flop on their hands. For the Senators, Filatov will likely be given every chance to win a spot on the Sens' roster with their dearth of offense. If Filatov doesn't fulfill his potential, it could very well be an Alexei Yashin redux.
Another year, another Spring of golf for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The difference this year: they're closer to being long term playoff contenders now than at any point since the lockout. Early season struggles and injuries slowed Dion Phaneuf's first season as captain of the Leafs, but he provided some solid play from the blue line as the season progressed. It is too soon to think of Nazem Kadri as a bust, but given that he didn't have the impact that was expected of him combined with the pressure cooker that is Toronto, next season is likely his make or break year. Despite squabbles with the Toronto media, Phil Kessel once again, paced the Leafs in goals. Combined with the breakout year of Mikhail Grabovski and the steady emergence of Nikolai Kulemin, this was Kessel's best year yet.
Friday, June 24, 2011
No one really expected the Tampa Bay Lightning to be within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals...except for the Lightning players. A big reason for that was Martin St. Louis, who is arguably the most important player on the Lightning. Stats point that out, his own and that of Steven Stamkos. Speaking of Stamkos, had he not suffered a midseason slump, he could have easily challenged the 60-goal mark. Still, 45 goals is not bad, and both St. Louis and Stamkos were finalists for the Hart and Ted Lindsay trophies, respectively. Until Dwayne Rolosson was acquired, goaltending was a sore spot, and Dan Ellis was seen as enough of a problem to be shipped off to Anaheim at the trade deadline.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Messier Leadership Award: Zdeno Chara
Lidstrom was my pick here, but Chara was instrumental in Boston's success this year, too.
Norris Trophy: Nicklas Lidstrom
I had Chara winning, but Lidstrom certainly makes the Red Wings go, and he will do so for another year. And Shea Weber ahead of Chara in votes? Color me surprised.
Calder Trophy: Jeff Skinner
Closer than expected here.
Lady Byng: Martin St. Louis
Jack Adams: Dan Bylsma
I had Alain Vigneault, but the writers thought Bylsma had a greater impact on the Penguins this year, which is understandable, given the circumstances.
Selke: Ryan Kesler
Not even close.
Vezina: Tim Thomas
Once again, not even close, despite Rinne being within 20 votes of Thomas.
Ted Lindsay: Daniel Sedin
I had Corey Perry winning this one.
Masterton: Ian Laperriere
Laperriere never played this season, which makes this a bit of a head scratcher, but bet on him playing next season, though. My pick was Ray Emery, but he, Laperriere, and Daymond Langkow certainly deserve this trophy.
Hart: Corey Perry
I called this one.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
BRIDGESTONE MESSIER LEADERSHIP AWARD: This award is fairly new to the mix, and is given "to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice during the regular season." It would hard to argue with Zdeno Chara winning this award, but I think Nicklas Lidstrom will win this one in a narrow vote between the two, with Shane Doan a distant third.
TED LINDSAY AWARD: Previously known as the Lester B. Pearson Award, this is the MVP as voted by the players. Steven Stamkos will likely finish third in the voting, while Corey Perry and Daniel Sedin will duke it out for the award. Ultimately, Perry should come out on top, since Sedin had some help along the way.
BILL MASTERTON TROPHY: This is the trophy given to the player that best exemplifies perseverance in the face of adversity. Ray Emery, Daymond Langkow, and Ian Laperriere are all deserving candidates, but I give the trophy to Emery.
JACK ADAMS AWARD: This is the coaches' trophy. Barry Trotz is the only coach Nashville has ever known, and deserves a lot of credit for perhaps the best Predators team since its inaugural year. Dan Bylsma deserves credit for keeping the Penguins together in the face of injuries to Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, but this trophy belongs to Alain Vigneault, and the numbers the Canucks put up in the regular season point to that.
FRANK SELKE TROPHY: The best defensive forward gets this trophy. This has to be Ryan Kesler's year. He was the Canucks' Mr. Everything, and should have been the Hart Trophy candidate for Vancouver. However, Pavel Datsyuk has won this trophy before, and won't give it up without a fight. And don't discount Jonathan Toews, who is the captain of the Blackhawks for a reason.
LADY BYNG TROPHY: The most gentlemanly player, and often the one who stays out of the penalty box the most. Loui Eriksson faces an uphill battle, as Nicklas Lidstrom and Martin St. Louis have won this trophy before. St. Louis for the repeat.
CALDER TROPHY: Rookie of the year, but only if you're 26 and under, otherwise known as the "Sergei Makarov rule." Michael Grabner posted 34 goals for the Islanders, and would be my pick, solely based on the fact that he's an ex-Canuck. However, Logan Couture had a better all around year, as did Jeff Skinner, who should cap off his all-star year with the Calder. Safe money is on Skinner.
NORRIS TROPHY: How can this year not have Zdeno Chara's name next to the Norris Trophy? The best player on the blue line, even though Lidstrom had his usual great year, and Shea Weber was the rock on the Pred's blue line.
VEZINA TROPHY: Again, this should be a no-brainer. Tim Thomas was the Bruins' best player all year, and the Conn Smythe is proof of his playoff greatness. Roberto Luongo had a great regular season, as did Pekka Rinne, but Thomas walks with his second Vezina in three seasons.
HART TROPHY: Martin St. Louis was the engine that made the Tampa Bay Lightning go, but he faces long odds here. Daniel Sedin was the Canucks' best offensive player, but this year belongs to Corey Perry.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
So, the question now is not if Winnipeg will get a team, but what the team will be called. Many in the city would love for the team to be called the Jets, and why not, since that is the name most associated with the city. The other side of the coin creates a direct conflict with the former Jets, otherwise known as the Phoenix Coyotes. There is precedent for such a conflict, as the NFL had this issue when the Cleveland Browns re-entered the league in 1999 after the original franchise moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens in the mid-90's. Smart money says the Winnipeg team will be called the Jets when the name gets announced.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Every year, the San Jose Sharks have the same expectations and every year, they always fall short of those expectations. The story remains the same, complete with criticisms. None experienced that more than Patrick Marleau, who led the team with 73 points, a relatively low total, and faced major criticism in the Detroit series. Joe Thornton wasn't far behind with 70 points, but also came out of playoff hiding, putting the team on his back until a hand injury limited his output in the Conference finals. Joe Pavelski was the third leading scorer on the team, which isn't too bad until you realize that Dany Heatley failed to show up this season. Pavelski is undoubtedly a fixture on the Sharks, and a breakthrough season next year is not out of the question.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
What was supposed to be the Blues' time to harvest the fruits of their development labor has turned into yet another disappointing season, complete with players not playing to expectations. You cannot put the blame on Jaroslav Halak, who upheld his end of the bargain...when he was healthy. He will undoubtedly be the team's most important player again next season. Brad Boyes hasn't neared the 30 goal mark of a few years ago, and was subsequently shipped to Buffalo at the deadline, where he found some semblance of his game. Erik Johnson never developed and was shipped to Colorado. Perhaps Alex Pietrangelo will be what Johnson never became in his time in St. Louis. Pietrangelo certainly looks like the answer, posting 43 points in his first full season.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Now, for the other side of the equation. I wonder if Roberto Luongo will be able to show his face in Vancouver after a maddeningly inconsistent Finals. How about the Sedins, who were last seen on the side of a milk carton, or what of the Vancouver defense, who lost their teeth when Dan Hamhuis and Aaron Rome were forced to leave the series? It will be a long summer of questions, anger (as the riots in Vancouver after the game show), and sadness. Almost makes you wonder if falling one win short of the Stanley Cup is worse than blowing a 3-0 series lead in the first round to the Blackhawks, though having both things happen in the Finals would be the only worse thing.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Expectations were high for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and they certainly would have made a deep run in the playoffs this year, except for the fact that the two best players went down with injury, and it caught up with them against Tampa Bay in the first round. Had he not been rattled by a David Steckel hit in the Winter Classic, Sidney Crosby would almost certainly be in the Hart Trophy talk this year. His absence was felt most in the first round series. Any of Pittsburgh's failures cannot be put on Marc-Andre Fleury, who arguably had his best all around year. He was the reason Pittsburgh was still in the hunt for a top three seed in the playoffs. Paul Martin provided some capable defense, which allowed Pittsburgh to unload Alex Goligoski to Dallas in exchange for James Neal.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Another year, another strong regular season with a disappointing playoff run. The difference this time around is that the Coyotes were thoroughly beaten in a sweep. Ilya Bryzgalov didn't have the Vezina Trophy finalist year that he did last year, but he did put up good numbers. The problem: like most of the team, he came up small when the playoffs rolled around. He won't be back with Phoenix, as his rights were traded to the Flyers, who hope to sign him to a long term deal. Lee Stempniak was to have been a good goal scoring option, and while 19 goals is a respectable number, the Coyotes were likely hoping for more. Kyle Turris had a respectable 25 points in limited ice time, and he figures to be a major player next season. And did I mention that the Coyotes will be in Phoenix for at least one more year?
Monday, June 13, 2011
What was supposed to be an encore performance for the unlikely Philadelphia Flyers team that made the Finals a year ago turned out to be a major fall from grace this year. Swept out of the semis by (wait for it) Boston was no way for a team who had high expectations to leave. Part of that could be put on the absence of Chris Pronger, who showed his importance to the team when he went down with an injury late in the year. Even though he's nearing 40, he's still a top line defenseman. Nikolai Zherdev did provide some offense, but as the Flyers found out, like Columbus and the New York Rangers have before, he doesn't give 100 percent, which explains why he was a healthy scratch for a number of games. There's still an APB for Michael Leighton, who never had a chance to build on his breakthrough season last year. Inconsistent play, combined with the above average Sergei Bobrovsky and the always there Brian Boucher left Leighton in the minors for most of the season.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
This past season was a disaster for the Ottawa Senators, though not near the record-breaking disasters of the team's first few years of existence. Cory Clouston was relieved of the coaching duties before the season was done, and the goaltending situation was as it always was: a graveyard. Daniel Alfredsson had his worst year since his rookie year, and as he nears 40, that isn't likely to change soon. Hall of Fame debates will certainly be there for him, but clearly, he cannot carry the team like he used to. It would help if the goaltending situation settles, and it won't be in the form of Pascal Leclaire. Another injury riddled season means he will likely be gone from the Senators when the off-season begins. Peter Regin proved that he wasn't ready to assume some of the offensive responsibilities, with only 17 points and a -4 rating.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Need a reason why the New York Rangers were even in the playoff race? Just like it has been for the last few years, it begins and ends with Henrik Lundqvist. An off year last year, mostly due to being overused, was followed up by the standard great year that Rangers fans are accustomed to with Lundqvist. Alexander Frolov was supposed to provide supplementary offense for the Rangers, but ended up not showing up for most of the season (figuratively, of course). Now, he's gone (literally) to the KHL. Michael del Zotto didn't have a great year, to the point of being sent down to the minors when the Rangers acquired the disappointing Bryan McCabe at the trade deadline. del Zotto got hurt while in the minors, and didn't see action the rest of the season.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
This season was a miserable one for the New York Islanders. First, Mark Streit was lost for the season before he could even play in one regular season game. Then, Kyle Okposo was lost for half the season. Rick DiPietro was punched out by Brent Johnson in a game, and then the Isles disgraced themselves in the subsequent game versus the Penguins. Oh, and they were dead last in attendance...again. Fear not, for John Tavares led the team in points scored. Though he didn't take the Steven Stamkos type of leap, he did show that he could be a fixture on the team (wherever they end up) for years to come. Matt Moulson followed up a 30-goal season in 2009-10 with another performance just like it. The result was a contract extension that sees him as a central figure in the team's long term plans. James Wisniewski was to have been a central figure on the blue line, but the combination of Streit's injury and the lack of help on the blue line saw his numbers decline before being shipped to Montreal mid-season.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
So, the challenge gets thrown out now: if there are any hockey fans in Kansas City who would like to attend the game on the 27th of September, regardless of the lineups, I am thinking of going, too. So, the challenge is to think of something before then, like a get-together before the game. I'll come up with something as the day nears.
Monday, June 6, 2011
House is a 1977 Japanese horror film directed and produced by Nobuhiko Obayashi. The film stars mostly non professional actors with only Kimiko Ikegami and Yōko Minamida having any notable previous acting experience. The film is about a schoolgirl traveling with her six classmates to her ailing aunt's country home, where they come face to face with supernatural events as the girls are, one by one, devoured by the home.
Words can barely describe exactly how bizarre the movie really is, as there are certainly unusual ways to die, such as getting eaten by a piano, killer lampshades, and mattresses that have a mind of their own. The scenery is quite colorful, which only adds to the movie's weird factor, and is furthered by the fact that the effects in the movie are basic ideas that turn into the most colorful nightmare imaginable. The main characters in the movie are only named after a specific trait that they exhibit, with one girl being named Melody after her penchant for music, for example. The "Auntie" in this movie fits right in with the weirdness of the movie, and the cat, who plays a central role in the plot, exudes evil.
Throw normalcy and logic out the window for House, as there is nothing except nightmare fuel. Horror fans should look into this movie, as it is an exhibit in how to make a good movie without going to the CGI boards.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
The first half of the Devils' season was a complete disaster, and part of the blame can be attributed to Martin Brodeur getting hurt and not producing his usual season numbers when he was healthy. Not all blame should be heaped on Brodeur, as Ilya Kovalchuk failed to live up to the rather lofty contract foisted upon him prior to the season. He did put up good numbers in the second half of the season, though. The same could not be said for Andy Greene, as he ended up with a -23 rating and point totals in the lower 20's.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Surprisingly, and with much relief for me at least, Burrows was not suspended for that snack. According to acting NHL head disciplinarian Mike Murphy, there was no conclusive evidence that Burrows intentionally bit Patrice Bergeron's gloved finger. Hmm, I don't know about you, but that seems like a flimsy excuse, one that I will happily take. Boston Bruin fans will think otherwise, and rightfully so, but if I'm any other Vancouver Canuck fan right now, I'd be sending Murphy a fruit basket with a thank you note because the team and Burrows, specifically, dodged a major bullet.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators made it to the second round of the playoffs. The problem? The same problem that they've always had: talent. Hard work and a team concept can only carry a team so far, but without that go-to scorer, that's all Nashville can hope for. Certainly, it wasn't Shea Weber's fault, as he provided some much needed leadership to go along with that lethal slapshot from the blue line. Matthew Lombardi was supposed to add speed to the lineup, but he was injured for much of the season and had a negligible impact. At least he played for the Preds, which the same cannot be said for Ryan Parent. He was traded to Vancouver in a deal that saw Shane O'Brien head to Nashville. Parent was nowhere to be found on the Vancouver lineup, spending much of the season in Manitoba.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Now, for the real business at hand: the Stanley Cup Finals. I've waited the entire season for this, and a week extra just to see who the Canucks will be facing. Now, we know it will be the Boston Bruins, so if any Boston Bruins fans want to have any bets with me, I want to hear them. No monetary bets, though, just ones that will bring about humiliation.
One more thing, all bets with the anonymous name tag will not be accepted.