LA Kings (eff) @ Colorado Avalanche (33-26-6, 8th in West)
Friday, February 29, 2008
Calgary Flames (33-22-9, 6th in west) at Anaheim Ducks (36-23-7, 3rd in west)
In the spirit of Leap Day (also because I have yet to write anything since the trade deadline), I decided to "leap back" and revisit a post I put together after last year's deadline, and see how the Ducks' roster has changed over the past three years. I think it offers a good look at how Burke has managed this team, plus I think there's some lessons in here somewhere. I've marked players who no longer are Ducks in red, and new Ducks (added since last year's deadline) in blue.
C. Kunitz - A. McDonald - T. Selanne
D. Penner - T. Marchant - J. Lupul
J. Friesen - S. Pahlsson - R. Niedermayer
T. Fedoruk - R. Getzlaf - C. Perry
(T. Moen, J. Hedstrom)
S. Niedermayer - F. Beauchemin
R. Salei - S. O'Donnell
V. Vishnevski - J. Dipenta
2007 post-deadline Anaheim roster:
C. Kunitz - A. McDonald - T. Selanne
D. Penner - R. Getzlaf - C. Perry
T. Moen - S. Pahlsson - R. Niedermayer
S. Thornton - T. Marchant - B. May
(R. Shannon, G. Parros)
S. Niedermayer - F. Beauchemin
C. Pronger - S. O'Donnell
K. Huskins - J. Dipenta
2008 post-deadline Anaheim roster:
C. Kunitz - D. Weight - T. Selanne
T. Moen - S. Pahlsson - R. Niedermayer
B. Sutherby - T. Marchant - B. May
(G. Parros, R. Carter)
S. Niedermayer - F. Beauchemin
C. Pronger - S. O'Donnell
M. Bergeron - M. Schneider
(K. Huskins, J. Dipenta)
Now I don't really want to get too fixated on specific spots I've put players on this year's roster; we have yet to see how Carlyle would play a fully healthy forward lineup or a Bergeron-inclusive blueline. However, before I get a bit more into this year's deadline moves, here's some year-to-year trends worth noting about Burke's club:
- Continuity matters: Other than Burke's first few months on the job, there's been no major overhauls to this roster. 13 players (8 forwards, 4 defensemen, and Giguere) appear on all three lists, which I think is remarkable, and 10 of those are already under contract for next year as well. Also, there's been good consistency in linemates -- Selanne with Kunitz, Getzlaf with Perry, Pahlsson with Rob, and Frenchie with Scott. There's been some replacements inserted, but there's a good core of the team that's developed together for a while.
- Rise of the kids: The way that Getzlaf and Perry have been groomed through the Anaheim forward ranks has been impressive. Their rookie years they were given fighter minutes with Fedoruk, a very protected spot for some possibly fragile kids. The next year they were promoted to second-liners, given more ice time but still seeing some easy competition. This year, especially with the absence of Selanne, they were given the top line duties, including the opposition's top defenders, and have been stellar. I gotta commend Burke & Carlyle here; there's no way they'd be ready for this year if they didn't have last year's experience, and I don't know if they would have been ready for last year if they didn't have the year with Fedoruk.
- The blueline just keeps getting better: Holy smokes. Measure it in top talent: Pronger and Niedermayer are right there with anybody. Measure it in terms of depth: Schneider is murdering in easy minutes. Measure it in terms of scratches: one of Huskins or Bergeron is going to sit once Pronger gets back, which would be a crime on 29 other teams. I just have to pinch myself; it really wasn't that long ago that Keith "Carney Asada" Carney was Anaheim's best defenseman.
- Hardly anything gets done at the deadline: Burke makes lots of trades in the course of the season, probably more than anyone, but come deadline time, it's always been more tinkering than anything. One thing that's common about all of Burke's trade deadline acquisitions (I'm going off the top of my head here, so kick my ass in the comments): O'Donnell, Friesen, May, Bergeron -- all of them were acquired for draft picks, not roster players. Though he's prominent in the blockbuster rumors, Burke's playing the very inexpensive side of the market come deadline day.
As for this year's deadline moves, I guess they're sort of puzzling, but in a "who the hell cares" sort of way. Sure, there's been no crying need for another defenseman like Bergeron or a spare goalie like Aubin (other than to get more decidedly French-Canadien), but I think some of the Ducks' worst-case scenarios have been improved to a degree. And even though I'm having trouble seeing it, perhaps Bergeron can earn his way into the top six and improve a blueline that already is among the best in league history -- he'll at least help in the short term as I guess Pronger wants to miss a game or two with a broken smile.
As always, I'm glad when the Ducks don't win some Player X Sweepstakes at the deadline -- outbidding other teams usually means overpaying, and I'm excited to keep Bobby Ryan and the Oilpick. (Ryan had his first taste of the NHL this year and looked decent; I think it counts as his Fedoruk year in the Getzlaf-Perry plan.) Here's what I said last year, but I think it applies just as well today:
"I can’t help but wonder, though, at what point Burke decided not to make a big splash at the deadline. Is he conniving enough to continue to act as a potential trade competitor, just to drive up demand and prices for other teams’ rental acquisitions? I wouldn’t put it past the guy."Prediction: Oh yeah, the Flames. Matt and Metrognome are your go-to sources on Flamedom, but I shouldn't be overlooking this team, one that in three successive games beat division-leading Detroit, division-leading Dallas, and division-leading Minnesota, all in regulation. Still, there's no stopping old man Selanne; in his last 82 regular season games Teemu has potted 53 goals. Ducks 3, Flames 2. Goals by Selanne, Pahlsson, and Bergeron.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Feel free to take a second to wince at that headline.
OK, so Brad Richards got off to a pretty good start. And by pretty good I mean being the first Dallas Star to record 5 assists in a single game, which happens to be his career best for helpers. Yeah, not too shabby.
Sure, it was against Patrick La-lame, but still. Check out some of the ESPN highlights and a half second of Dallas Ice Girl (not cocaine) hotness.
Since I work an absurd 1-10 pm shift on Thursdays, I missed the game but I know from the highlights that the Stars decided to line up Richards with Antii Miettinen and Niklas Hagman, who had his first career hat trick in this game.
If they keep this line together, what kind of awful pun based nickname should they have? Perhaps the Rich Hags line (or if you feel the need to include every player's name I guess they could be the Antii Rich Hags??) or the BAN line? Meh. There's time for that. I guess the first name initials gimmick would be better if we switched Hagman with Modano (cue that annoying Emeril BAM).
The sound you just heard was the muffled groan of the 5 remaining Tampa Bay Lightning fans.
6:00 PST, 1150 AM
This game is going to suck. We've lost Brad Stuart and it doesn't look like Rob Blake is going to be able to play until Saturday. Plus, Derek Armstrong and Jason Labarbera aren't making the trip with the team, meaning they're without those 2 for the next 4 games. Starting tonight? Dan Cloutier. (Was I like a Nazi or something in a past life? I bet Dan was.) Plus, it appears that the Kings front office has decided to keep most of our young guys in Manchester so they can get a taste of the playoffs (Purcell was sent down on Thursday), so we're going to be rocking the old guys line-up. Here's just a general idea of what the team will look like tonight:
Get used to seeing this.
My roommate was telling me about Barry Melrose Rocks' most recent post while I was toweling off (...what?), and I blanched at the idea that Scott Parker looked tougher than Raitis Ivanans.* Then I saw the picture of Parker and almost pooed. That is the scariest man in the history of the NHL. My favorite part of that picture is that he has his own last name tattooed on his arm.
*My argument was that Parker looks like a guy who would beat you with a metal chain, but Ivanans looks like a guy who would drink wine out of a skull. I'm sorry, but I look at him and the first word that comes to my mind is, "Genocide."
Posted by RudyKelly at 10:49 AM
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Holy shit are Kings fans a bunch of whimpering pussies. Seriously, go check Letsgokings.com to see some hardcore, grade-A whining. Rob Blake is taking the brunt of the abuse, but Dean Lombardi is getting his fair share of licks as well. I honestly don't understand what people are so upset about. Nobody wants the shitty players on a last-place team and the the guys that might have been traded were, for the most part, injured. Here's a look at the trade bait:
Ladislav Nagy- He's apparently wearing a neck brace when he drives because of his mysterious neck injury. I mean...
Scott Thornton- According to Dean Lombardi, Thornton had a no-trade clause. (Ed. note: what the fuck?) He waived it for 4 teams and almost got sent to one of them, but they apparently made a big trade that turned them off Scott. Are they talking about the Sharks?Brad Stuart- Traded to Detroit for a 2nd in '08 and a 4th in '09. Not bad for the 4th best defenseman on the worst defensive team in the league. Brad Stuart will always be overrated by some because he hits big occasionally and has some size, but I think he only improved halfway through the season because Jack Johnson took some of his even-strength minutes. Hopefully the Wings will pair him with Rafalski and allow him to concentrate on hurting opposing forwards. He'll probably help their 2nd line power play, although I guess they don't really have a 2nd unit because their 1st unit always scores.
Brian Willsie- I doubt anyone called about him.
Derek Armstrong- I'm convinced Armstrong would have been traded if he hadn't gotten hurt on the 21st.Tom Preissing- He hasn't played great this season but he's 1 year into a 4-year deal; I don't think it would have sent a good message to the rest of the league if they traded a free agent this early.
J.S. Aubin- Traded to the Ducks for a 7th rounder. I have no idea why, unless Burke is trying to trick people into thinking the Ducks have foreigners on their team.
Mike Cammalleri- He wasn't going to get traded at the deadline. If he does get traded, it'll probably be at the draft.
Rob Blake- Reportedly, Blake said the Kings could trade him to Colorado if they could get a good deal. I honestly don't get this whole "Fuck Rob Blake" thing. This is what Matt Kredell said at Inside the Kings:
[Blake] said he would accept a trade to Colorado if they could get a good return since he had played there before and liked it there, but that he would prefer to remain a King.Maybe I'm crazy, but that seems perfectly reasonable. He told them that he'd like to stay and help the team but he'd understand if they got an offer they couldn't refuse. The Avalanche chose to trade for Adam Foote instead for 3 reasons:
1) He's a defensive defenseman
2) He is healthy
3) He might re-sign in the off-season
That makes sense to me. I'd have traded for Foote instead too.
This is going to sound crazy (especially coming from me), but aren't people taking this whole hockey thing a little too seriously? What's the point of watching a sport if you're going to get this fucking worked up about it? I mean, Kings fans are mad at Rob Blake because another team chose not to trade for him. Has it really come to this? What was Lombardi supposed to do, offer Blake for a 3rd rounder? That'll set a nice example for free agents. Put yourself in Blake's shoes for a second; would you accept leaving your wife and kids for 3 months just to help some hockey team possibly win some trophy? If someone told me the Kings would win the Stanley Cup but I would have to move to Denver and cheer for the Avalanche... well, I'd tell you what I'd say, but there isn't a font size large enough to properly express how loudly I'd tell that guy to fuck off.
Look, Rob Blake was kind of a dick in 2001. Since he's come back, though, he hasn't said or done one thing that would imply that he didn't care about the future of this team. He's the greatest defenseman in LA Kings history and now he'll retire as a King. That seems right to me.
With the trade of Brad Stuart, the Kings’ 2008 draft picks are as follows*:
2 1st round picks- Dallas (Norstrom)
3 2nd round picks-
3 3rd round picks- Conditional (from Avery deal),
3 4th round picks- Tampa Bay (Munce), Vancouver (Sopel), Kings and Caps switch picks in ’08 (weird trade, I don’t know)
1 5th round pick
1 6th round pick
2 7th round picks-
Holy hell. The Kings probably can’t use all those draft picks (contract limits), so they’ll package some together to trade up or trade back to 2009. Dean Lombardi’s new scout team should have a lot of fun on draft day.
*I probably messed up at least once.
Joe Sakic and Kim Jong Il seperated at birth? Can you tell which one is a future Hall of Fame center and which one is Joe Sakic?
Sakic, who was activated off of the IR this weekend, will join retreads in trade deadline acquisition Adam Foote and recently un-retired Peter Forsberg. With Ryan Smyth looking to regain his form in front of the net, should the 9th place Avalanche be considered a dark horse candidate to shock the world and knock someone out of the first round?
Online Magic 8-ball says yes.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
8:00AM: Driving to work and thinking to myself "I wonder if there are any trades yet." No use listening to sports talk cause they never talk about hockey.
8:30AM: Receive my first text message as I am powering up my computer. "We got Campbell, no word on what we gave up." Good news, I just hope we didn't trade Carle or Marleau.
8:35AM: Go to TSN's Trade Center coverage Live Streaming. They are talking about the Campbell trade. Still sweating out what we had to give up.
8:37AM: Bernier and a #1 pick. I must be dreaming, Doug Wilson I love you!!!!!
8:39AM: Start sending texts and IM's to everyone I know. Boy, I am not gonna get any work done today.
8:55AM: Keith Jones is talking about how the Sharks overpaid and Bernier is going to be a stud and is great in the corners. Um, has Keith Jones been watching the same player I have?
9:10AM: Brad Richards is on the move. "Don't be Dallas Please!!"
10:01AM: It is reported that Foote and the Blue Jackets have broken off talks. He is only willing to be traded to the Av's. What is with everyone wanting to go back to the Av's? Is Patrick Roy and Ray Bourque coming back also?
10:35AM: Receive another text message. Oh Oh did we make another trade? "Yao out for season stress fracture" At least that is good news for the Warriors.
10:51AM: The TSN guys are interviewing Campbell. Wow, he sounds like someone in his family just died. Does he realize that San Jose is like 70 degrees warmer this time of year?
11:10AM: I have been at work almost 3 hours and have not completed much. We need a depth forward with some grit. Let's get Martin Lapointe.
11:11AM: Lapointe goes to OTT for a draft pick.
11:30AM: Where did all the trades go? Nothing has happened for awhile. This sure is boring listening to TSN dissect the Huet trade.
11:50AM: 10 mins left till the deadline and Hossa is not traded yet.
11:59AM: It sucks having a noon meeting. Better take my phone with me in case there are any last minute trades.
11:59:30 AM: Hossa to the Pens? Holy Cow!
12:23PM: ANA gets Marc-Andre Bergeron. How many Dmen do the Ducks need? Damn I hate Brian Burke for being so smart.
Still cannot believe we got Campbell without giving up Carle or Marleau. After seeing what Hossa went for, we got a steal. Go Doug Wilson!
- Overall, the Brad Richards trade is fantastic for the Stars. The West is wide open now that the Red Wings are hurting and Richards might immediately become their best forward. He'll have to move mountains to prove he's worth $7.8 million, but I don't think anyone really is expecting that from him.
Losing Mike Smith helps Tampa Bay more than it hurts Dallas. It's probably going to be a poor man's version of the Iginla for Joey N. trade.
Smith has a bright future in this league, although I'm not certain about his ceiling on a bad defensive team like the Lightning. Then again, look what a puck moving goalie did for a woeful defense in Pittsburgh.
- Speaking of Pittsburgh, they received Mary Ann Hossa in possibly the biggest trade deadline move. At first, as a Pens devotee, I was very sad to lose the mysterious promise of Angelo Esposito and the wooden comic delivery of Colby Armstrong. But that won't be too hard to deal with once I'm using a first line of Hossa-Crosby-Roberts in NHL '08. Yeah, I'm that easy.
- The Sharks made a nice move by getting Brian Campbell without moving Matt Carle or Patrick Marleau. One criticism of the trade was that Campbell may not remain in the Sharks' tacky uniforms beyond this year, but I would argue that might not be that bad of a thing. I just don't think that Campbell will live up to the bloated contract he's about to receive. I have a "Brad Richards albatross contract" feeling for whomever overpays Campbell. He's good, don't get me wrong. But a $6 million defenseman has to be special.
- The Habs are probably the biggest losers of the deadline, as they were the logical destination for Marian Hossa and foolishly moved Cristobal Huet for a meager second round pick.
- They traded Huet to one of the winners of this deadline in Washington. Now Caps fans can be spared the undoubtedly painful sight of witnessing Godzilla die via heat rays from Father Time.
- Sergei Fedorov can mentor up and coming Russian star Alex O on such issues as...uh...banging hot Russian blondes, I guess.
- The Kings and Leafs should have asked John Davidson for some smart firesale advice. They both blew it.
- The sleeper steal of the draft might have been the Hurricanes snatching oft-injured center Tuomo Ruutu. Then again he probably will be injured next week.
Note: perhaps Blogger has feelings, because this re-write featured numerous Autosave failures.
|Anaheim Acquired||Gave up|
|G - JEAN-SEBASTIEN AUBIN||F - BRANDON BOCHENSKI|
|D - MARC-ANDRE BERGERON||RW - BRANDON SEGAL|
|D - JAY LEACH||3RD ROUND PICK|
|FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS||7TH ROUND PICK|
|7TH ROUND PICK|
|Los Angeles Acquired||Gave up|
|2ND ROUND PICK||G - JEAN-SEBASTIEN AUBIN|
|4TH ROUND PICK||D - BRAD STUART|
|7TH ROUND PICK|
|San Jose Acquired||Gave up|
|D - BRIAN CAMPBELL||F - STEVE BERNIER|
|7TH ROUND PICK||2008 1ST ROUND PICK|
|7TH ROUND PICK||D - ROB DAVISON|
Brian Campbell for Steve Bernier/1st rounder? Holy crap, that's a steal. I'm assuming there's a conditional pick involved should Campbell sign. For the first time in, well, ever, the Sharks have a legit #1 defenseman in his prime. Maybe the power play will finally score now AND the Sharks keep Patrick Marleau. Not too shabby, eh?
As for Dallas getting Brad Richards (it's official), fuck you Dallas.
(10:39 PM) According to Yahoo!, Brad Richards has been traded to the Dallas Stars for Jeff Halpern, Mike Smith, and defenseman Mark Fistric. Richards has 3 years left on a hilariously bloated $7.8 million dollar contract. Just so everyone is clear, Brad Richards has exactly one year with more points than games played. Hehe. I'm not sure this is actually true, but what am I, a beacon of journalistic integrity? I'm not even wearing pants right now, give me a break.
(7:50 AM) Okay, so apparently Yahoo! isn't a legitimate source of news anymore because there hasn't been any confirmation of the above trade. I'm really tired of all these journalists, sitting in their mother's basements and making up trades out of their asses. I mean honestly, what the hell, I can get away with stupid shit like this because I'm a moron and people don't count on me for actual news, but don't news sites have some sort of responsibility to, I don't know, be right? Or at least qualify the hell out of their report. Sorry, James.
(8:32 AM) So apparently the Sharks are going for it; TSN is reporting that they've traded for Brian Campbell. No details on who the Sharks are sending back yet, but I've got my fingers crossed that it's Vlasic, Bernier, and Couture. Oh, and Nabokov, too.
(8:40 AM) Okay, so now they're saying it's for Steve Bernier and a 1st round draft pick. That's not too bad, I guess. I like Steve Bernier, but you gotta give something to get something. If the Sharks can't sign Campbell, though, then they're fucking morons.
(8:45 AM) Now that whole Brad Richards thing is going down, but with shootout empresario Jussi Jokinen thrown in on Dallas' side. I guess they saw San Jose trade for Bernier and decided to up the ante a little. Whatever, hopefully now Dallas will actually start sucking in like 2 years.
(9:00 AM) Does anyone care that the Canadiens traded Cristobal Huet to the Caps? I don't, really, but I guess he used to play for the Kings so someone might. Do the Canadiens know that 20 year-old goalie does not equal Stanley Cup? I mean, it's not like the Panthers are going to start killing rats.
(9:21 AM) Ruslan Salei has been traded to the Colorado Avalanche, meaning that Rob Blake will probably not be traded. According to the LA Times this morning, Blake told Lombardi that he'd be willing to go to Colorado but that was pretty much it. Oh well, I'm sure LA fans will be just as accepting and classy as Toron- shit, this is going to end badly.
(10:45 AM) The Sharks trade Rob Davison to the Islanders for a 7th round draft pick. Should we just start etching the Islanders on the Stanley Cup, or are we still going to have the playoffs?
(12:17 PM) TSN is reporting that Brad Stuart has been traded to the Red Wings for a 2nd and 4th round pick.
(12:25 PM) Marc-Andre Bergeron to the Ducks? That doesn't make any sense.
(12:27 PM) Poor Al Montoya. He's gone from being stuck behind Henrik Lundqvist to being stuck behind Ilya Bryzgalov in Phoenix. The Coyotes also get M. Hossa in the deal. I like this deal for Phoenix, if only because they can probably flip Montoya in a few months for more value.
(12:35 PM) News: Kings trade J.S. Aubin to Ducks for a 7th round pick.
Views: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!! The Ducks have to want Jonas Hiller to play in the AHL playoffs, right? I can't understand why anyone would want Aubin. I wouldn't have traded for him if Lombardi had offered me him and a 7th rounder.
(1:50 PM) Two more quick things: Brandon Bochenski was traded to the Predators for a conditional draft pick and the Sharks signed Brian Boucher. That sound is the sounds of uncaring.
Monday, February 25, 2008
I'm of the opinion that Sharks fans are whiners and should stop trying to screw up a good thing they got going. Of course, I'd give anything to have a chance at the playoffs at the moment, so I'm a little biased. Still, it seems to me that this is exactly the wrong time for them to panic and make a rash move.
First, it's important to realize that they're still one of the younger teams in the league. Guys like Milan Michalek, Marc-Andre Vlasic, Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi, Christian Ehrhoff, Torrey Mitchell, Matt Carle, and Marcel Goc are only going to get better. They have the core of their team (Marleau, Cheechoo, Thornton, Rivet, and Nabokov) signed until 2010. If you're going to make a big move and trade away the future of your team, it should be then.
I know you've made the playoffs for a couple years now and haven't been able to do anything (it's awesome), but that doesn't mean you should make a move just because you're impatient. I mean, I don't want you guys winning the Stanley Cup, but I'm a fan of the way your team is comprised and it'd be stupid to waste that to get someone like Brian Campbell. (I mean, I guess if you can sign him, maybe, but I'd only give up like Setoguchi and a 1st for him. )
My roommate and well known hump, Megalodon, thinks the Sharks should go for it all this year. His reasoning is that Nabokov is a huge reason the Sharks are competitive and he's likely to start going downhill fairly soon. Once that happens, the Sharks will start sliding downhill and will get their asses kicked by the awesome LA Kings, who are superior to San Jose in every way. (Okay, he didn't actually say that, but I read between the lines.) I see the merit to that argument, although I think Nabokov still has a little more mileage on him because he didn't really start playing in the NHL until he was 25. I think the Sharks should instead hope that Patrick Marleau can get his shit together before the playoffs begin, otherwise they're likely to lose anyway.
I don't know, I don't really have a dog in this fight (Is that an expression? It sounds violent), so I thought I'd just throw this out there to see what other people thought. We'll probably have a post up tomorrow to account for any trades that may go down, but I'm sure you guys will get information faster by continuously refreshing TSN.ca. Look back here tomorrow and Wednesday as we start our playoff push. Well, everyone else will start their playoff push; I'll start drinking.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
I know the NHL trade deadline isn't up til Tuesday afternoon, but I have a feeling that this year's "frenzy" is going to be a letdown.
With Washed up Shaq, Pau Gasol and Jason Kidd dominating sports trading headlines in the last few weeks, it's hard to imagine the NHL topping the former No Balls Association this year. Still, NHL GMs could at least try to foolishly throw together panic deals for the sake of my entertainment.
Seriously, the best deal better not be the Cory Stillman to Ottawa trade. It already seems like Mats Sundin and Tomas Kaberle both did their parts in killing the fun for everyone. Now, who do we have...Mary Ann Hossa? Blargh.
Stars beat writer Mike Heika put Hossa to Stars as something of a dream scenario, but I cannot help but disagree. Yes, Hossa's a talented player and a noted two-way player.
But he's also exactly what the Stars don't need: a great regular season performer who fades during the playoffs. It's telling enough for me that the Ottawa Senators dealt him for Dany Heatley less than two years after the death of Daniel Snyder because they didn't think Hossa deserved elite player money.
When I think of Hossa I think of Jermaine O'Neal in the NBA: a good player you don't want to pay "franchise player" money. And that's exactly what the Dallas Stars would have to do to retain Hossa.
That Heika column made me feel a little better about my Olli Jokinen post, as he did list Olli as one of the possible guys on the trading block. I stand by my stance that, if the Stars could move enough salary to get Jokinen, he'd be an absolutely fantastic fit for this team.
Let's face it, the window is closing on the Stars. Their best players are either in their high 20s (Morrow, Ribeiro) or 30s (Good lord, I didn't know Marty Turco's almost 33 already!).
Yes, the Stars look good right now. But as I seem to remember, they looked pretty solid last year but got bumped in the first round. And remember when they got booted by the Colorado Avs that year they broke team records for wins? Yeah, they looked pretty good going into the playoffs then, too.
So, rather than being satisfied with a solid team, the Stars need to give themselves that extra push. The window is closing - Zubov and Turco aren't getting any younger. Jere and Mike are damn near dead.
The Red Wings are reeling with injuries. The Ducks have bad karma with Niedermayer and Selanne's vacations. I admit that the Sharks have a weird Stanley Cup vibe to them (to me at least), but seem beatable still. And the Wild probably won't ever really go for the glory, since those Minnesota folks will keep buying tickets regardless.
So why not try to win the Cup this year? I know Tom Hicks doesn't care much about winning anymore, but why not one more run for old Mikey Mo? Another Cup would be a nice trophy to go along with his other, uh, trophy.
The Stars should absolutely make a move.
Also, I reached a milestone of sorts, as I think I might have made my first ever good prediction by saying that Evgeni Malkin was making a strong case for MVP consideration after he gave the LA Kings a beating. Now that he's leading the league in points, Malkin for MVP talk is gaining traction from, you know, people who aren't idiots.
Being that I make a lot of foolish predictions, this is a pretty special moment for me. Even if my point was as salient and unique as "children love candy." Feel free to shower me with Gatorade in the next week.
Consider yourselves part of irrelevant history.
Chicago Blackhawks (29-26-6, 13th in west) at Anaheim Ducks (35-23-7, 3rd in west)
Well, as part of leaving my old job I have rescinded my laptop, so for the next week or so I'll be managing on my roommate's computer. No spreadsheet stats, no power point, but it's still got good ol' MS Paint!
It may be the case, though, that I'm less restricted by my roommate's software than I am by the motivation of being unemployed for a week. This could be a very lazy week indeed.
Prediction: Hmmmm. Ducks win their avian lawsuit 5-3. Goals by Perry x2, Moen, Pahlsson, and Sutherby.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Holy hell. Why even bother coming back from 4 goals down if you're going to lose in overtime on a soft goal? Jesus.
Still, that was amazing. I missed the Dallas game, and the Buffalo game, and the Nashville game, and the first Chicago game (I think I've missed like 8 games total and those 4 are among them), so this was my first real hardcore adrenaline rush of the season. I was holding my phone in my hand when Kopitar tied the game up and I came this close to chucking it against my wall before I realized what I was doing. This team is one of the craziest bad teams I've ever seen, because they have brief moments where they look invincible. If we could ever get Kopitar, Frolov, Cammy, and Brown all rolling at the same time, I don't know if there's a defense that could match us. (I guess Anaheim.)
Dan Cloutier screwed us once again. The first goal was a power play goal, the next 2 were Patrick O'Sullivan's fault, and then the last 2 were all Cloutier. That 4th goal (the one against Jonathan Toews) was vintage Cloutier. I thought Ersberg played well (he's small) but let's all hope Labarbera can come back rested for Thursday's game.
This probably doesn't make any sense right now, but I can barely type because that game pretty much knocked me senseless. This was one of those games that people are going to point to as turning points in the life of a team, a time where our young guys said, "Fuck this," and just took over the game. I don't know if the Kings are going to get the first overall pick this draft, but I'd be willing to sacrifice it if it meant those guys continued to carry this team.
Okay, I need to go lie down for a while.
LA Kings (murph) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (28-26-6, 13th in West)
1:00 PST, FSN West
The Kings claimed center Matt Ellis, 26, from the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. Ellis has played in the AHL for the past 4 years, averaging around 50 points in the past 2. More importantly, Ellis was the captain of Detroit's AHL team for those 2 seasons. (Also, he looks like Nelson Emerson.) He played 35 games in Detroit this season, tallying 6 points. Detroit wanted to send him down to the AHL to help with their playoff push, but the Kings swiped him first. Some people are baffled by the move, wondering why Dean Lombardi bothered picking up a guy who has no real business playing in the NHL when the Kings already lead the league in guys that fill that description. I think Dean made this move for 2 reasons:
1) Fill the roster. Last year when the Kings traded away Sean Avery, they took Jason Ward back. This was done to prevent the Kings from having to call up a younger guy who might not be ready to play in the NHL. As a result, the Kings were forced to accept slightly less from New York. Maybe they could have gotten a 4th round pick if they had not needed Jason Ward. With Ellis on the roster, the Kings won't have this problem.
2) AHL Leadership. The Kings probably can't send Ellis down to the AHL this season; most likely, Detroit will snap him up and then send him down to Grand Rapids. However, they can keep Ellis up on the roster, give him a few games here and there, and then send him down for next season. The roster in Manchester is incredibly young and will only get younger next season. The Kings can now provide them will a moderately skilled leader that will help them get ready for the NHL. This is what teams in last place should be doing: using their roster to set up their franchise in the future. It's not tanking, it's... "looking beyond this season." Okay, it's still kind of tanking, but I like the spin I put on it.
Marc Crawford said yesterday that the Cammy-O'Sullivan-Frolov line will be staying together for today's game. I think it was a good move by Crawford to put those 3 together, but does he have to immediately give me a hernia by putting Scott Thornton and then Brian Willsie with Brown and Kopitar? Just give Ted Purcell one shot, please. I swear it'll work.
And benching Kyle Calder? What the hell? He hasn't played great offensively this season, but without him we have no one else to stand in front of the net for Frolov's power play unit. He does a good job fore-checking, allowing Handzus to stay with the more explosive forwards on the opposing team. Benching Kyle Calder while Jeff Giuliano, Scott Thornton, and Brian Willsie play is like.... it's like treating testicular cancer by cutting off your foot. Sometimes, I just don't know. You know what, I bet Calder plays with Kopitar now. That'd be just great.
Prediction: Commit to the Indian, my ass. Kings win, 8-3. Not quite as good as the last time they played, but pretty close. Goals by Brown (x2), Cammalleri (x2), Kopitar (x2), Stuart, and Matt Ellis.
Friday, February 22, 2008
St. Louis Blues (28-23-9, t-11th in west) at Anaheim Ducks (34-23-7, 3rd in west)
Today is my last day of work for my current (soon to be former) employer, and as such, I'm quite unmotivated to write anything meaningful today. It should be an interesting game tonight for two reasons:
- No Weight + No Marchant + No Carter = Opportunity. The Ducks have recalled a guy I've never heard of, Andrew Ebbett, to help fill the new void at center. Now I'm a guy who pays very very poor attention to the minor leagues, so it's quite possible I should know something about Ebbett, but I generally never hear of anybody until they set foot on NHL ice. It's always pretty exciting to see a prospect-kid for the first time, though. It's like a wrapped present from your grandmother; it's probable that once you unwrap it you'll be disappointed, but who knows? Your grandmother's crazy enough that there could be a serviceable player in there.
- Teemu gets to face off against his two favorite assist-men. Selanne's career in Anaheim has been built with the cooperation of two speedy little guys -- Paul Kariya (pre-lockout) and Andy McDonald (post-lockout), and for the first time, Selanne gets to play against them both tonight. I don't know how much head-to-head time I'd expect in tonight's matchup, but I always am intrigued when longtime linemates get put on opposite ends of the ice. Will they hit each other? Will they mistakenly pass to each other? Are they concentrating on outperforming each other, or are they making dinner plans for later?
Poll: Which little speedster did Selanne have better chemistry with?
Anyways, I'll be up in the nosebleeds tonight listening for boos so I can tell which speedy midget is Kariya. Section 407, Row L, green shirt.
Prediction: Ducks 4, Blues 1. Goals by Selanne (assists: Kariya, McDonald), Huskins, Pahlsson, and the mystery callup called Ebbett.
Early in the first period last night, Derek Armstrong went down with a knee injury. As the collective gasps went up from the Kings bench (not because of Armstrong; someone had spilled a water bottle), Marc Crawford began to despair. Here's an exclusive look at what happened next:
Marc Crawford: Curses! We can't win without Derek Armstrong! Go ahead and pack it up boys, this game's over.
Ted Purcell: (whispering) Hey, Kopy, who the hell is this Armtough guy?
Anze Kopitar: He's the shitty older guy on the team.
Ted Purcell: (confused) You're going to have to be more specific.
Patrick O'Sullivan: Umm, coach, I can play center if you want. I mean, I did play it in Junior and a little bit in the AHL, and a little bit earlier this ye-
Marc Crawford: No, no, no! We can't have you playing center, Peyton! Just let me think...
Marc Crawford: Shut up! I got it. Maybe if we put Brian Willsie with Kopitar and Brown, and then- you!
Erik Ersberg: Da?
Marc Crawford: You're my new 2nd line center.
Erik Ersberg: Var det väl eller illa skrivet!
Marc Crawford: Yes, that's it! I put the swede with Frolov, Dave Lewis with Kopitar, Handzus with the popcorn guy, Phil Anschultz with... (unintelligible)
Patrick O'Sullivan: Cammy, Fro, you guys just want to go score 3 goals?
Mike Cammalleri: Sure, he'll probably be going for another 20 minutes.
Alex Frolov (Looking up from Anna Karenina): Yes, stick must touch puck and make red light.
Patrick O'Sullivan: Alright, let's go before Crawford notices.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
LA Kings (*cartoon noise of someone falling down a well)
vs. St. Louis Blues (28-22-9, 11th in West)
7:30 PST, no TV
Now that Jaroslav Modry has been traded, the Kings have one of the smallest defensive cores I've ever encountered. Seriously, the average height and weight of the defensive core is 5'11", 201 lbs. My rec roller hockey team has a bigger defensive core than that! Take a look:
Brad Stuart, 6'2", 213 lbs. Brad Stuart is the largest man in the world!
Jack Johnson, 6'1", 215 lbs. Thus ends the list of defensemen who can actually hit someone. Final tally: 2.
Tom Preissing, 6'0", 198 lbs. I wouldn't think Preissing was this big, but I guess he just doesn't play very large. When Tom Preissing is your third biggest defenseman, you know you're small.
Peter Harrold, 5'11", 195 lbs. I don't really think Harrold is 5'11", but I don't have any proof. Still, he's really fucking small. Generally, you don't want guys that are my size going up against Keith Tkachuck.
Lubomir Visnovsky, 5'10", 188 lbs. I've been feeling really bad for Lubo lately, seeing as how he's been sucking this season. This feeling that was only exacerbated when I read Mirtle's post today, which stated that Lubo is basically the 8th shittiest defenseman in the league (because he doesn't play hard minutes and still allows a shit ton of goals). I feel like my whole life is just one big lie! I kind of want to see this for last year so I know if Lubo was always this shitty defensively or if he's just having an awful year. Oh yeah, and he's kind of short.
Kevin Dallman, 5'11", 195 lbs. Why is Dallman listed below Lubo when the roster says he's bigger, you ask? Because, I reply, there's not a fucking chance in hell Kevin Dallman is 5'11". Honestly, do they think you can just add 2-3 inches to someone's height and expect us not to notice? Fuck you, Kevin Dallman, I'm not buying your shit.
Tonight's opponent, the St. Louis Blues, has one defenseman who is smaller than Brad Stuart. The Kings have tried to hide their size handicap by setting up their defense as so:
That Lubo-Harrold line is going to set a single-game record for "Most Turnovers in Their Own Zone." That's why I assumed the Kings would be calling up someone like Joe Piskula or Richard Petiot, because at least they can move someone around. I don't know, we'll see how it goes, but the Kings may have a little trouble tonight clearing people from the front of the net. Good luck, you little bastards!
The Kings called up goaltender Erik Ersberg today, probably to back up Dan Cloutier because I think Jason Labarbera caught the flu bug that has been going around. Jesus, are these guys making out with each other? Take some Airborne or something.
Prediction: Kings win, 4-1. Goals by Lubo, Stuart, Johnson, and Preissing. Afterwards, they'll all get together and steal Jennifer Connelly's little brother to give to their Goblin King. (I wanted to make a Labyrinth joke somewhere and dammit, it's going right here!)
Posted by RudyKelly at 9:10 AM
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Ridiculous voiceovers? Check.
Hilariously bad acting? Check.
Ludicrous action bubbles? Check.*
Ear-splitting guitar solo? Check.
Fireworks at the end, for some unexplainable reason? Check.
Pittsburgh car commercial, consider yourself on notice.
*This still stands as my favorite action bubble of all time:
Colorado Avalanche (30-25-5, t-10th in west) at Anaheim Ducks (33-23-7, t-3rd in west)
The Ducks have gone 6-1 in the sevengames since Teemu's return, and have outscored opponents 23-11. Just for fun, let's take a look at the players' even-strength results over those seven games (pay attention, there's a surprise at the end):
Whoa, I'm just as stunned as anybody. Selanne, last year's scoring leader, has the worst offensive numbers for anyone not named Sutherby, Parros, or Pahlsson, whereas Sammy, last year's Selke guy, has the worst defensive numbers of anyone?! Both Teemu and Sammy, of course, are coming off significant time off (plus both were dinged for the empty-netter against vs. Dallas), so expect these numbers to improve. But it did catch me off-guard; they have inspired better play than they've exhibited themselves. What the table doesn't tell you is that Teemu has the best power play rate on the team over those seven games, and that Pahlsson has the worst penalty kill rate on the team (he tends to get dinged for being the lone forward on 3-on-5s, though).
Who's benefitted the most from Selanne's return? I guess you have to say Ryan Carter. I don't know if Selanne's giving Carter some free pointers in practice, but after not scoring a goal in his first 27 games this season, Carter suddenly has 4 goals in the last 5 games.
Two things I'm in favor of: (1) Bertuzzi with Getzlaf and Perry, leaving Kunitz with Selanne. Bertuzzi's biggest problem is his refusal to shoot the puck, and it drives me nuts what chances he's been passing up in Selanne-created space. Kunitz has no such qualms about using open space, and should get better results regardless of centerman. (2) Brian Sutherby, especially on the penalty kill. I like to make fun of Sutherby (Finny's new boy), because it took him 25 games to get an assist, but it hasn't mattered too much. He's got good energy for that fourth line, and is used sparingly enough to be rested for shorthanded situations. I never thought anyone was going to cut into the Pahlsson-Rob-Moen-Marchant forward PK minutes this year, but both Sutherby and Carter have made a good case for themselves.
Anyways, as I noted before, I'll be in the Row B seats tonight, wearing my lucky green shirt and drinking with the locals. Feel free to stop by and say hi, or maybe it'd be easier to find me outside at intermission (non-Katella side).
Prediction: In both meetings thus far, the Ducks have come away with 2-1 victories, but I'm thinking tonight will be a wild one. Ducks 3, Avs 2. Goals by Schneider, Pahlsson, and the scoring machine Ryan Carter.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
...because the Kings traded Jaroslav Modry to the Philadelphia Flyers for a draft pick. (They didn't say which one.) The idea that Jaroslav Modry would make a playoff team's defense better is hilarious to me. I assume this means a defenseman besides Peter Harrold is getting called up for the Kings' next game.
I wonder if this means that there might not be too much action this trade deadline; according to that article, Philadelphia couldn't (or wouldn't) trade for Tomas Kaberle, Dan Boyle or Brad Stuart. The idea that Lombardi seemed unwilling to trade Brad Stuart is very interesting to me. Did he not like Philly's offer, or is he genuinely interested in signing Brad Stuart long-term? Let me smoke my pipe and think it over.
Update: TSN says it was a third-round draft pick.
Monday, February 18, 2008
My computer went kaput last week, so I was unable to follow up on my promise for a bad Olli Jokinen-related headline (it would have been: "The Stars should trade for Olli: I'm not Jokinen!" by the way). For that, I apologize.
So instead, I'll include that Jokinen thought along with another tidbit from the NHL/BoC:
- When I decided to start covering the Stars, I made some harsh jokes at the expense of the Phoenix Coyotes. After watching them take it to the Stars, who happen to be one of the hottest teams in the NHL, I must say: a Battle of the Pacific blog might be more and more worthwhile now.
The Coyotes have more than just Ilya Bryzgalov, although he probably sparked Phoenix's climb to puck relevance. That Mueller kid is another great rookie wearing Lindros's No. 88, Jovocop is having a startling resurgence and Shane Doan has a really cool beard. Plus, Wayne Gretzky seems like he dyes his hair and Rick Tocchet looks like he's going to whack somebody. This team has some definite upside.
Battle of Pacific next year? Just throwin' it out there...
- Since I'm lazy and dumb, I don't really know much about the Stars' cap situation. And a case can be made that Dallas is looking so great right now that it might be foolish to mess with a good thing.
But after watching a startlingly sluggish Detroit Red Wings team on Sunday, it made me feel that much more confident that the Stars should not let current success deter them from making that one extra trade that would make them a Western Conference playoff force.
At first, I thought Mats Sundin would be a great fit and that Michael Ryder could follow in Mike Ribeiro's footsteps and go from struggling Hab talent to burgeoning Dallas Star.
But then I remembered that, of all the teams in the NHL, the Stars might resemble the Finnish Olympic team the most. Not only do they have a crapton of Finns (relatively speaking), they also play that smart, defense-first style that every non-Selanne Finn seems to adhere to.
So, after much deliberation I decided that Olli Jokinen would be the best target for the Stars to snatch up before the trade deadline (again, under the assumption he could fit into their cap and the Panthers would once again decide to foolishly trade their best player).
A quick glance at his statistics indicates that, honestly, there aren't many players on the Stars roster who would be "untouchable" in such a trade (at least straight up). The only guys I'd say "no way" to are probably Marty Turco and Brendan Morrow. But that's more for the Ambassador of Fun to decide.
Depending on who you trade, there are quite a few options for Jokinen linemates. You could opt for the Finning Hair Line (good god I deserve to die for that) of Jere Lehtinen - Olli Jokinen - Jussi Jokinen. You could keep the productive Morrow-Ribeiro combo together and give yourself a nice 1-2 line punch by having Modano or Jokinen move to a wing and form a line together. There's a lot of exciting possibilities.
Jokinen would be a great trade move because of his aforementioned Finn background and his good fit as a power forward. You also cannot look past the fact that Jokinen is wallowing in awful Florida Panther obscurity, and must be hungry to finally play for a good team. Couple that with the Stars growing exasperation over playoff failures and I think you'd have a perfect fit.
Another exciting factor is that Olli Jokinen wears the 'C' in FLA. Just look at the leadership in Dallas, just counting former/current NHL captains: Jokinen, Modano, Morrow, Stu Barnes, Matt Norstrom and Jeff Halpern. That's a lot of leadership for one team.
No one wants to give the Stars credit for this year's amazing success, but put Jokinen on this team and the West better be scared...just throwin' it out there.
LA Kings (*flush) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (30-25-4, 10th in West)
7:30 PST, FSN West
Irony is a difficult thing to diagnose. I can never tell if it really is irony or if it's just coincidence. So, you'll have to tell me:
Rob Blake demands a trade at the trade deadline in 2001 and the fans hate him for it because they want him to stay.
Rob Blake wants to stay in LA instead of being traded at the trade deadline in 2008 and the fans hate him for it because they want him to leave.
Is this irony, or just kind of funny? I like to think that it was Bowlby that wanted to leave and Rob Blake who wants to stay.
If Blake is being honest (and I'm sure he does want to finish his career in LA), then our potential trade deadline haul just got a little less impressive. On the plus side, this could make Brad Stuart more desirable and I think fans of other teams will inevitably talk themselves into Stuart because he has the body of a prototypical defenseman. That'll last until the first time he passes the puck directly to the other team, and then they'll hate him. He's really the only piece we have left, besides maybe Derek Armstrong. I think there's a market out there for Armstrong, if a team wants a solid 4th line center who is a good locker room guy. I don't know, we have 12 days before everything shakes out, but I think Kings fans may have aimed a little too high and will inevitably be disappointed.
Goal by Mueller, assists by Doan and Stuart
And you know, I didn't hate Ladislav Nagy when he was signed to a one year, $3.75 million dollar contract; I didn't hate him when he failed to really win a spot on the line with Frolov; I didn't even hate him when he failed to outplay Jeff Giuliano and got himself benched. But now that he has some mysterious neck injury that will prevent the Kings from trading him at the deadline? I hate him.
Lauri Tukonen was called up at the expense of Brian Boyle yesterday. (What, Boyle only had 4 goals in 8 games? Send him down!) I imagine they're just giving Tukonen a shot at the show to see if he has a chance to win a job on our third or fourth line in the future. (They could be planning on trading him as well.) Boyle had been playing wing (not his natural position) with Frolov and Armstrong the last two games anyway so I imagine they'll just move Purcell up to his spot and let Tukonen play with Calder and Handzus. And still, Brian Willsie continues to wear an NHL uniform...
Prediction: Kings lose, 4-3. They'll be foiled once again by the dastardly Radim Vrbata. VRBATA!!!!!!! Anyway, goals by Frolov, Giuliano, and Preissing.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Calgary Flames (29-21-8, t-7th in west) at Anaheim Ducks (32-23-7, 3rd in west)
A few items that don’t have that much to do with hockey:
- First off, I want to wish my kid sister a happy birthday today, living the fast life in NYC. The odds that she sees this note are slim (she’s no hockey fan), but I know she’s name-dropped this blog before to Canadian guys while bar-hopping, so good work, sis!
- In other non-hockey news, it’s actually a big week for me personally. After nearly seven years, this will be my last week with my current employer. It’s good news and bad news, probably, as the new job will eventually bring me back to Orange County and pay me more money for the NHL’s annual ticket increases. The bad news is that my old job really gave me a lot of leeway—my workday was finished very early and my boss lived halfway across the nation.
I’m not really sure what the new job’s workload and hours will do to my blogging productivity; it’s entirely possible that I may start a search for another Duck voice on BoC within the next month to share the load. Nothing will be decided until I really get into that new job schedule and see what it's really like, but if you’re a Ducks fan who’d be interested in a BoC voice, you might want to start thinking about creating a submission and hoping my new boss works the hell out of me. Don’t worry if you can’t draw or crunch numbers or anything; this wouldn’t be about replacing Sleek so much as complementing Sleek, and you’ve seen our contributors' work. We’re all about variety.
- I know a lot of Ducks fans will be rooting for Teemu Selanne to score a point tonight against the Flames (he is tied with Paul Kariya for the franchise scoring lead), but I’m not one of them. Why not? I snagged a pair of Row B seats for Wednesday’s game, and selfishly I think Anaheim's greater good needs to make room for my petty desire to see that achievement in person.
- Lastly, if you start noticing a decline in the quality of my hand-drawn cartoons in the next couple of weeks, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation: yesterday my roommate came home with Devil My Cry 4, and if any of you are familiar with that button-mashing gameplay, you’ll appreciate the cramping in my right hand this morning.
Saxophonist Mike Mendoza plays the Canadian National Anthem prior to the Edmonton Oilers game against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion on Thursday, February 14th 2008.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
LA Kings (arr?) @ Phoenix Coyotes (29-25-4)
6:00 PST, FSN West
In the first period, Phaneuf tried to hit 6'7" Brian Boyle and got dropped like a sack of shit. He got his revenge later, hitting Boyle from behind as Boyle beat out an icing call.
In the second period, Phaneuf got bowled over by Dustin Brown. He slashed Brown out of frustration and got a penalty, putting his team down 2 men. Whoops!
Later in the third, Phaneuf missed a check on little Kevin Dallman (who played an amazing game, by the way) and lost his helmet. Finally, dejected and morose, Phaneuf silently said to himself, "Fuck this," and went to the bench. Not his best night.
So, to recap, Phaneuf got embarrassed all night, Iginla had one measly second assist, and Kipprusoff let in 6 goals on 25 shots. Nice core, Calgary, good thing they took hometown discounts (They graciously accepted $6 million? Saints!) or else your team might be fucked. Don't worry, though, there's no precedent for signing 3 great players and then sliding into last place because you can't fill in the rest of your team. (Psst! I'm talking about Tampa. And relax, Calgary fans, I'm just dicking around, don't leave me 5,000 word essays in the comments about how different Calgary is from Tampa.)
Old friend Craig Conroy played last night and did a pretty good job shutting down Anze Kopitar. He had a little tiff with Jack Johnson, but I'm willing to give Craig the benefit of the doubt on that one. Kopitar's line has trouble when another team puts their best line out against them, as Calgary did last night, but it doesn't really matter if Alex Frolov is going to pretend he's Joe Thornton out there. Honestly, I'm starting to fall in love.
Phoenix has been a nice little story all season, but they finally looked in the mirror and said, "Hey, we're Phoenix, we can't be good!" and started sucking again. I would think they were only good because of Ilya Bryzgalov, but if you look at their stats a big part of their success has been francophobe Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata. Radim Vrbata has 25 goals this season! Radim Vrbata! Who the hell is that? I like to think I am pretty up to date on the workings of the Pacific Division, but I have to admit I was barely aware the guy existed until 10 minutes ago. "Radim Vrbata" sounds like something my sister would make up in Scrabble. Still, he allegedly has 25 goals this year, so I guess he's good. The Pacific Division is probably the best division in hockey and I can't really see it getting any easier next season.
Prediction: Kings win, 3-2. Goals by Frolov, Purcell, and Brown. Phaneuf gets checked by the bus driver on the trip over to Anaheim and gets all huffy about it.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Dallas Stars (35-21-5, 2nd in west) at Anaheim Ducks (32-22-7, 3rd in west)
Three consecutive games against Detroit, Colorado, and Dallas means I get to talk about the (former) Big 3 of the west. Back in the late 90s, this schedule would probably mean three consecutive losses, but that was in a stretch where that Big 3 made eight straight cup finals (1995 - 2002) and were victorious in six of them. Frankly, that probably should have extended into 2003, as the Big 3 were the top seeds in the west, but the hockey gods were tired of that routine and gave the power of elimination to a certain J.S. Giguere.
During those '03 playoffs, I was nowhere near blogging, but I did have write a regular set of e-mails called "Ducks Hype", in which I chronicled some of the amazing statistics accumulated during that miracle run. It was a very small operation (the distribution list had three recipients), but I thought I'd pull some of those notes from the Dallas series just for nostalgia's sake.
April 28, 2003 (following game 2):
6-0. Against Detroit and Dallas. Detroit, who hadn't lost three games in a row all season, managed to lose four in a row to Anaheim (five, actually, if you count the last regular season matchup). Dallas, who lost just five games at home during the season (one to the Ducks, though), now is at 2-3 at home in the postseason. And now they sit in the same boat as Detroit, who was also fairly confused by their 0-2 deficit.May 2, 2003 (following game 4):
1. Ten Ducks are in their first playoffs ever, including goaltender J.S. Giguere.
2. The Ducks scored their first powerplay goal of the postseason in G2, on their second 5-on-3 of the period, third of the series. Now they are 1 for 23.
3. The Ducks have been outshot in every game, a cumulated 171-120 from Detroit and 94-81 from Dallas. Combined, that's 265-201.
4. Sykora, their top goal scorer, now has but one goal (the 5-OT winner). Jason Krog, the fourth-line center, leads the team with three.
5. The Ducks have gotten zero goals from their defensemen.
Six wins, all by one goal. Four in overtime. Six different Ducks have game-winning goals. The Ducks have started 10 overtime periods (played a total of 132:43 of overtime total), been outshot in those overtimes 81-46, and Giguere has stopped every shot.
No goaltender in the playoffs has faced as many shots on goal as J.S. Giguere, even though a half-dozen have played more games than Jiggy. Through eight games, Giguere has faced 325 shots, and given up 13 goals. Khabibulin in 10 games has seen 299 shots, the second-most, and has allowed twice as many goals (26). Although no goalie has seen as many shots as Giguere has, there are twelve goalies who have given up more goals.May 7, 2003 (following game 6):
How good is Jiggy's .960 save percentage? Consider this. Currently, Patrick Lalime is second in the league with a .940 save percentage (14 goals allowed on 232 shots). In order for him to get his save percentage up to .960, he would have to stop the next 118 shots on goal.
Lalime is also second in the league in Goals Against Average (Lalime: 1.48, Giguere: 1.27). In order for Lalime to lower his GAA to Jiggy's level, he would have to play almost 94 minutes of shutout hockey.
Lastly, although the Ducks do have a postseason record of 7-1, ironically they have spent more time trailing than leading in this postseason. They have played a total of 612:43, and they have spent 120:14 trailing vs. 118:58 leading. The reason for this discrepancy actually makes a little sense--since more than half their wins came in sudden-death overtime, they get credit for zero time with the lead.
How can you say it's not magical? In all four Ducks wins against the Stars, they scored the game-winner on their final shot of the game.As I reflect back, "magical" might be the right term to describe that playoff year. Even though it ended in G7 tragedy, I think that 2003 playoffs will remain the most special to me, as it really came out of nowhere and featured Anaheim's first toppling of the Big 3 dynasty. Nowadays, it isn't as big a deal; from 2003 to present, the Ducks have eliminated the Big 3 a total of four times, including two sweeps. Still, here's the question for Duck fans: which playoff year or playoff series was the most special for you?
How can you say it's not magical? In all six games of the series, the Stars were either tied or ahead with 2 minutes left in regulation.
In two series, then, the Ducks have won 8 one-goal games, and in 7 of those 8 wins, the game winner was after the 55-minute mark of the game.
Prediction: The Ducks have edged out the Red Wings and Avalanche; why not make it a Big 3 sweep? Ducks 3, Stars 2. Goals by Perry, Pahlsson, and Pronger.