Archive

Posts Tagged ‘detroit red wings’

Random Thoughts: Volume I

After watching games 2 & 3 in the Western Conference Semi-Final between the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks, and virtually all of the series they played last year, I’m left to wonder:

1) Why is the ice in front of the Canucks net painted blue?  Isn’t that kind of a waste of blue paint?

2) If pushing the goalie out of the way and tucking the puck into the empty net, or simply ramming the goalie and the puck into the back of the net are supposedly acceptable and legal ways of scoring goals…why doesn’t Dustin Byfuglien get 60 goals every year?

3) If every team employed this way of producing offense, and the league allowed EVERY team to do it we would probably have 30 or 40 goals every game and 60 or 70 goalies on the Injured Reserve List by the end of the season.

The Montreal Canadiens’ effort level is at least double that of any other team’s in these playoffs.

PK Subban is gonna be some kinda special player

Steve Nash is a beast…he is literally WILLING his team to victory…they are now calling him “Cyclops” for his one-eyed effort in eliminating the Spurs in game4…a team they have lost in the playoffs to 4 times since 2003…this might be his last chance at a championship and I wouldn’t bet against him–even against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers (as long as the refs stay out of the way…and thats a BIG IF)

Sami Salo has a reputation for getting injured easily…after taking a shot to the “nether regions” and reportedly having a ruptured testicle, I’m gonna give him a pass on that one as I would probably miss 8-10 weeks minimum if it happened to me…

The Boston Bruins were up 3 games to 0 over the Philadelphia Flyers now its 3-2 with Game6 coming up in Philadelphia…wow…if Boston can’t close it out in Philly, I don’t like their chances in Game7.  This could be historic.

The Sharks did get a LOT of help from the refs in the first 3 games against Detroit in my opinion, but they did deserve to win the series.  However, for the record Game 1: 2 VERY questionable calls in the 3rd period leading to a 2-man advantage that produced the game winner Game 2: 2 somewhat questionable calls in the 3rd period leading to a 2-man advantage that produced the game tying goal. Game 3: A crucial goal by Henrik Zetterberg called back on yet another baffling video review

Of course these are all coincidences and refs are human and make mistakes….but if I’m a Red Wings fan I’m thinking “couldn’t at least one of those mistakes be in our favour?” Just saying…

After seeing the Zetterberg  goal called back and the Daniel Sedin goal called back in the first round for much the same reason…I’m beginning to think someone at the NHL’s head office needs to buy a dictionary and look up the words “distinct” and “kick”…aw, hell…why don’t I help them out here:

distinct:  clear to the senses or intellect; plain; unmistakable

kick:  to make a rapid, forceful thrust with the foot or feet

Watch the video(s), read the definitions…nuff said.

Nobody knows what the NHL’s rules are from game to game.  They seem to change by the minute.  The NHL and its officials have been badly exposed, in my opinion, as inconsistent and directionless.  In one game, a player can skate by a goalie and slightly touch him and have a goal disallowed as we saw in Game7 of the Montreal v Washington series and in another game the goalie can be sat on, cross-checked, pushed into the back of the net and slashed resulting in multiple goals without even a second glance.   The fact of the matter is…NOBODY knows what the rules are anymore.  Since the “new NHL rules” came out EVERYTHING can be considered a penalty, but the refs don’t HAVE to call it…what? couldn’t that lead to a lot of confusion and inconsistency?  Well, it is Bettman’s NHL, so…

You can follow Sporting Vancouver on Twitter

Round 2: Here we go again…

With the Montreal Canadiens  Game7 victory, and improbable comeback from down 3 games to 1, against the Washington Capitals, the Eastern Conference playoff picture has been turned on its ear with the top 3 seeds being eliminated.  The Western Conference, however, has played out more to form with no upsets–unless you consider the 5th place Detroit Red Wings, who made it to the finals the last 2 years and won it all 2 years ago, beating the upstart  4th place Phoenix Coyotes an upset.

As we set up for the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it is important to point out a few things.  For starters, both of last year’s finalists, the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins, are still alive and should be considered favorites despite the fact they finished 4th and 5th in their respective conferences…at least until someone beats them, which I don’t see happening in this next round.  I am pretty sure Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks will wake up and remember that they’re Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks and produce yet another epic playoff fail.  In the East, giant killers Montreal face another giant, but this time the giant sees them coming and knows how to handle them.

In the other 2 series I expect to see a couple of serious battles.  Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers should be a physical battle with 2 of the biggest, meanest defensemen in the league in Chris Pronger and Zdeno Chara  patrolling their respective zones.  In the West we will see a grudge match that has been brewing since last year’s 6 game bloodbath that saw the Chicago Blackhawks dispatch the Vancouver Canucks in 6 games.  Look for the Canucks to do a better job this year of protecting the area around Roberto Luongo and be much better able to match Chicago’s scoring, thus returning the favour and knock out the Blackhawks in 6 games.  In the East, Marc Savard’s return to the Bruins should be enough to lead them to victory over the Flyers, but expect a long series in that one.

In about 2 weeks time we will be looking at an Eastern Conference Final between Marc Savard’s Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins as well as a Western Conference battle between the Detroit Red Wings and the Vancouver Canucks.

You can follow Sporting Vancouver on Twitter

NHL Playoffs: 1st Rd. Predictions

As we enter the 2009/2010 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, Sporting Vancouver would like to go on the record with 1st round predictions.

Let’s start with the Western Conference:

1st seed San Jose Sharks vs 8th place Colorado Avalanche

Everyone, by now, knows all about the San Jose Sharks and they’re Jekyll and Hyde routine once the playoffs start.  During the 82 game regular season, the team dominates.  Joe Thornton is constantly at or near the top in league scoring, Evgeni Nabakov is a brick wall, and the tremendous depth on offense and defense overwhelms everyone in their path.  Then the playoffs start.  Nabokov turns into “NaboSIEVE”, Thornton runs and hides, the other 1st liners turn invisible, and the team doesn’t seem as tough as it did…the Sharks turn into the minnows.

This year they have added Dany Heatley to their front line, and look much better all around.  They are facing an upstart Colorado Avalanche who have surprised many teams with their youthful exuberance, speed, and quickness.  The Sharks will not be taken by surprise by this team.  They know what they are getting into.  They know the expectations on them to get to the Stanley Cup Finals.  They know they should easily beat the Avalanche.  That is why they will lose to the Avs whose young players just don’t know that they’re not supposed to win.

AVALANCHE in 7

2nd seed Chicago Blackhawks v 7th place Nashville Predators

The Chicago Blackhawks have gotten exponentially better each of the last 3 years.  Their young stars have developed, and gained a large amount of playoff experience.  This team appears poised to take the next step.  They have stars up front, led by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and on defence with Duncan Keith.  Their goal-tending remains a question and expect Nashville’s Renne to be the better goaltender in this series…but it just won’t be enough.

Blackhawks in 6

3rd seed Vancouver Canucks v 6th place Los Angeles Kings

The Los Angeles Kings are one of the big surprises in the NHL this season.  Their great young players like Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown are now solid veterans and the core of the team.  Sprinkle in some veteran leadership with Ryan Smyth, and a superstar young defenceman in Drew Doughty and you have the stars aligning to create quite a team.  They have enough depth up front, enough depth on defence, and good enough goal-tending in Jonathan Quick to give the Northwest Champion Vancouver Canucks all they can handle.

The Vancouver Canucks have been dealing with serious injury troubles all season with among the highest man-games lost total in the league.  They have seen a revolving door on defense all year and continue to play without their top shutdown defenseman Willie Mitchell.  Their remaining defense are all banged up with each of them having missed some time to injury this season.  All-Star goaltender Roberto Luongo is having a below average season by his standards and looks to put it behind him with a clean slate in the playoffs.  Up front the Vancouver Canucks are as good as anyone in the league.  Look for Art Ross Trophy winner Henrik Sedin to combine with his brother Daniel to come up with at least one goal a game.  Contributions from Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler, Mikael Samuelsson, and Pavol Demitra are critical as, no doubt, the Kings will be focusing all of their defensive energy towards shutting down the twins.  Penalty killing will be critical for the Canucks as they will, no doubt, find their way into the box quite often against this speedy LA team.

The Kings will be good, but look for Ryan Kesler to neutralize their top line.  At the end of it, the Canucks offensive depth will be too much for the young Kings to handle.

Canucks in 5

4th place Phoenix Coyotes v 5th place Detroit Red Wings

This is the battle of the 2 teams that nobody wanted to meet.  An upstart Phoenix Coyotes who no team has yet figured out, and a late surging and finally healthy Detroit Red Wings who have all the playoff experience in the world.

Right off the bat, you have to give the goal-tending edge to Ilya Bryzgalov and the Phoenix Coyotes.  This will be key as if they are to have any chance in this series they will need to have the better goal-tending.  How do you handicap the Wings’ chances?  They are built for the playoffs.  Pure and simple.  They should beat everyone they meet.  Problem is, they’re playing a very good, hard-working defensive team who, to put it bluntly, have basically been slapped together in the last number of months…even head coach Dave Tippet wasn’t hired until after training camp started.  They have been winning games with defense, goal-tending, and elbow grease all season. Then they added some scoring punch at the trade deadline with Wojtek Wolski and Lee Stempniak.  Now what?

This series will be very interesting.  In the end, I expect that the Red Wings, having finally gotten rolling, will find a way to eliminate the Coyotes (unless Gary Bettman has decreed that his team has team must win to keep them in Phoenix).

Red Wings in 6

Eastern Conference

1st seed Washington Capitals v 8th place Montreal Canadiens

Not many are giving the Montreal Canadiens any chance of winning this season.  After all the President’s Trophy winning Washington Capitals have run roughshod over the entire Eastern Conference for 82 games, even while missing Alex Ovechkin for 10 games where they still managed a 7-2-1 record.  Montreal proponents point to the Capitals’ goal-tending as the chink in their collective armour.  That’s like saying Scarlett Johansson’s feet aren’t that sexy.  Its minor and insignificant and nobody cares.   The Canadiens’ goal-tending with Halak playing at his best is, at best, only somewhat better than what Theodore can provide for the Caps.  For Montreal to have a chance here, the difference in goal-tending will have to be huge and their power-play needs to go lights out.   Yes, there is some doubt as to whether or not Capitals star centre Niklas Backstrom will be able to go to start this series but it won’t matter.  The Capitals are too good to not win this one.

Capitals in 5

2nd seed New Jersey Devils v 7th place Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers have given the Devils everything they can handle all season winning the season series with a 5-1-0 record.  They Flyers physicality and offensive depth should be enough to make New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire worried.  The big difference here will be goaltending.  The Flyers goal-tending has improved with Brian Boucher stepping it up this year but the Devils have Martin Brodeur who is still proving he can get the job done.  The Devils difficulty traditionally has been goal scoring, though they feel they have addressed this with the addition of Ilya Kovalchuk.  This series will be interesting and will likely go the distance which facours the more experienced Devils.

Devils in 7

3rd seed Buffalo Sabres v 6th place Boston Bruins

This series will have excellent goal-tending with American goalies Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas.  You would have to give the edge to buffalo in net but Boston’s net-minder certainly can get it done as well.  This one will come down to Buffalo’s speed and scoring against Boston’s physicality and defense.  Home ice advantage could definitely prove to be important in this series as both coaches will look to get their match-ups with the last change.  This one is tough to call.  Will Bruins’ star forward Marc Savard return from concussion to help the team’s offense? Expect this one to go the distance…again, with the home team taking it.

Sabres in 7

4th place Pittsburgh Penguins  v  5th place Ottawa Senators

Ottawa goes into this series hoping to pull out an upset against Sidney Crosby and the defending Stanley Cup Champions.  They do so without one of their top scoring threats and prized off-season acquisition Alexei Kovalev.  Pittsburgh appears to have the edge in every category; goal-tending, defense, and forwards.  It would likely take a miracle for Ottawa to win this series.   That being said they have some grit and drive up front with players like team captain Daniel Alfredsson.  Unfortunately, this won’t be enough to counter Crosby, Malkin, and Staal.

Penguins in 5

One step forward, one step back for Canucks

The off-season for the Vancouver Canucks thus far has been, depending on who you ask, either highly successful or completely uneventful.  On the optimistic side of the coin, you could argue that in re-signing Henrik and Daniel Sedin at the last possible moment, that they were able to acquire not one but two top-line players who are both consistently in the top 25 in league scoring…and considerably under market value at that.  You could argue that Mathias Ohlund is long in the tooth, not as effective as he once was, and Tampa Bay’s offer was ridiculously over-priced.  The optimists will tell you that Mikael Samuelson and his Stanley Cup experience are the piece that is missing from the Canuck puzzle, and his 20 plus goal seasons of late on the third line in Detroit will translate to 30 plus goals if he gets a chance to play with the twins or gets even a bit of power-play time.

Then there is the glass half-empty set that will tell you that Mike Gillis has basically done nothing to improve this team that failed to get past the second round last year.  They will say “Congratulations on signing the twins, but didn’t we already have them before?”.  Matias Ohlund has been replaced by Aaron Rome….say what you want about Ohlund, but at least we’ve heard of him which is something we cannot say about his replacement.  Mikael Samuelson…nice pick up…but he just replaces Mats Sundin, Taylor Pyatt, Kyle Wellwood, or potentially all three…do we really have a net gain here?

It is easy to look at the glass either way with this team.  It just seems like one of those off-seasons so far where there are just as many questions in late July as there were when the season ended.  One can’t definitively say that this team is significantly better or, really, any worse.  It appears as thought the Vancouver Canucks will head into the 2009/2010 season with a team that is pretty much at the same level that last year’s edition was.  It will have a solid defense, adequate scoring and will depend on Roberto Luongo to take him as far as he is able.  One can say that not much has changed here….the problem is, much has changed around them.  The Calgary Flames, somehow, managed to stick it to the salary cap by signing all-star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, while Edmonton addressed their main weakness by putting Nikolai Khabibulin between the pipes.  The Chicago Blackhawks, the team that eliminated the Canucks, went out and added Marian Hossa.  So, maybe the status quo isn’t really the status quo.  Canucks Nation better pray that Roberto Luongo can walk on water for them.