Today the Nashville Predators traded Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney, and a 2nd round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Hal Gill and a conditional 2013 5th round pick.
We found the reaction of the one Preds fan that exists…
Today the Nashville Predators traded Blake Geoffrion, Robert Slaney, and a 2nd round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Hal Gill and a conditional 2013 5th round pick.
We found the reaction of the one Preds fan that exists…
If you’ve ever met me or seen me “in action” on a message board, you’d know that I challenge anyone who casually blames the goalie for nearly any goal. To me, that’s cheap and lazy. For something so choreographed and beautiful as hockey, is the only thing that causes a goal simply a mistake made by the goalie?
Of course, every once in awhile, a goalie really messes up and gives up a bad goal. They’re human and they make mistakes. It’s really not much different than a skater who misses a slam dunk wide open net.
Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, Jeff Skinner, Mike Richards, Kris Letang, James van Riemsdyk, Milan Michalek, Chris Pronger, and Marc Staal.
What do these players have in common? Part of the All Star team? No, that’s the list of headliners who have either suffered or are currently nursing concussions. Crosby’s season is in jeopardy. Chris Pronger’s career is in jeopardy. And it seems as though every week, we add another one or two players to the list.
Concussions have always been part of the game, an unfortunate part, but one nonetheless. Its nasty wrath has cut short the careers of the likes of Eric Lindros, Mike Richter, Keith Primeau, Pat Lafontaine, and Marc Savard, among others. The NFL kickstarted a movement in their league to eliminate hits to the head from the game, and the NHL soon followed suit. And like the NFL, the NHL instituted stupid, difficult to enforce rules that have only resulted in consternation and anger among players, teams, and fans.
So, why are we seeing more concussions these days? And more importantly, what can be done to make less? We could talk all day about this, but I’ll give you a nice, to-the-point list that you can keep in your pocket just in case an argument in your cubicle breaks out in the next few days about the NHL and concussions…
I’ve always hated All Star fan ballots. What I really hate is when the league just blindly goes along with it and report on it as though the results were somehow legitimate. Several years ago, it was the Habs show, and this year, it’s the Sens show. As a result, your starting NHL All Star Lineup will be:
Forwards: Jason Spezza (OTT), Daniel Alfredsson (OTT), Milan Michalek (OTT)
Defensemen: Erik Karlsson (OTT), Dion Phaneuf (TOR)
Goalie: Tim Thomas (BOS)
Yeah, I agree with Tim Thomas and Erik Karlsson. But the forwards? Oh please. Spezza and Michalek are having good seasons, and they may end up on the roster at the end of the day, but starters? No. Alfredsson shouldn’t even be an All Star this season. Phaneuf’s playing well, but what about Dan Girardi or Zdeno Chara?
It’s never good to whine about a problem without offering a solution, so I’ll make my All Star selections. And to make it a little easier on myself, I’ll split it up between the Eastern and Western Conferences:
Forwards: Steven Stamkos (TB), Claude Giroux (PHI), Phil Kessel (TOR)
Defensemen: Erik Karlsson (OTT), Dan Girardi (NYR)
Goalie: Henrik Lundqvist (NYR)
Forwards: Henrik Sedin (VAN), Jonathan Toews (CHI), Pavel Datsyuk (DET)
Defensemen: Shea Weber (NSH), Nicklas Lidstrom (DET)….safe pick? Safe maybe, but always right.
Goalie: Brian Elliott (STL)
This year’s Winter Classic was amazing. The game was physical and played at a very high pace. Congratulations to the Rangers for digging themselves out of a 2 goal deficit with the Flyers really taking it to them at that point. They proved that they deserve to be considered one of the elite teams in the NHL.
As great as the game was, what happened afterwards at a local Philadelphia steak shop was absolutely disgusting. There is no excuse for anything that happened there and the quicker that they put those clowns in prison, the better. It puts a black eye not only on the city of Philadelphia, but also the NHL and sports in general.
Once in awhile, the NHL actually comes up with a good idea to generate excitement for the game. Each year since its start, the Winter Classic has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success and this year’s matchup of the Philadelphia Flyers versus the New York Rangers at Citizen’s Bank Park, Philadelphia should keep that trend.
It’s a classic rivalry. There’s bad blood between the teams that goes back years and years. There’s a natural rivalry between the two cities—in each sport and personally.
The Rangers currently sit on top of the entire Eastern Conference, with a 23-9-4 record (50 points) and are 12-6-2 away from Madison Square Garden. The Flyers sport a 22-10-4 record, trailing the Rangers for the division lead by 2 points. Their record at home is 8-5-2.
So far this season, the Rangers have the Flyers’ number, beating them twice already in New York by scores of 2-0 and 4-2. It took the Flyers deep into the third period of the second before they finally scored a goal against Lundqvist. The Flyers didn’t play poorly in those games, the Rangers, and most specifically their defense, were just better. The defense choked off the Flyers attack and Lundqvist turned away whatever else got through. The Rangers offense doesn’t score a ton of goals, but they buried the high quality chances they got against the Flyers.
A lot of people around the league predicted the Flyers to make the playoffs with one of the final seeds or even struggle to make the playoffs. They spent the offseason revamping much of their offense and spending big money to sign Ilya Bryzgalov. Exit Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Ville Leino and enter Jaromir Jagr, Jabuk Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Matt Read. The offense, led by Hart candidate Claude Giroux, hasn’t missed a beat and you could make the argument that they’re even better than last season. They have 7 players with at least 10 goals and James van Riemsdyk currently has 9.
Marian Gaborik leads the offense of the Rangers with 22 goals, which is good for second in the NHL along with big money free agent Brad Richards and newly appointed captain Ryan Callahan. The Rangers don’t have the offensive depth that the Flyers have, but Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov provide decent scoring punch.
New York is around the middle of the pack in offense, but their defense is what makes them one of the top teams in the NHL. Henrik Lundqvist is once again proving this year that he is an elite goalie in the NHL. If he can see the shot, he’ll make the save. His .937 save percentage and 1.91 GAA are top of the line and he’s been giving the Flyers nightmares over the past year and a half.
But a goalie is only as good as the defense in front of him, and the Rangers boast one of the better defenses in the NHL even without the inured Marc Staal. Evidence of this can be seen in backup goalie Marty Biron’s .923 save percentage and 2.08 GAA. Dan Girardi is one of the more underrated defensemen in the league and has not gotten anywhere near the credit he deserves. He leads the NHL in ice time per game. When you’re leading in a category ahead of the likes of Zdeno Chara, Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, and Shea Weber, you know you’re doing something well. And young players Michael Del Zotto (+25) and Ryan McDonagh have stepped up their game.
The story of the Flyers defense this season has been the injuries of captain Chris Pronger and the subsequent revelation that he is done for the rest of the season. At this point, you have to wonder about his career. So the Flyers were forced to circle the wagons a bit and redraw responsibilities. Kimmo Timonen has always been a steadying force on the blue line and Andrej Meszaros (who won the award for being the team’s best defenseman last season) needs to continue to pick it up. And even though you can’t really replace what Pronger brings to the lineup, the Flyers still have one of the best defenses on paper. Despite that, the defense is prone to gaffs when forechecked. Matt Carle seems to be especially quick to have the brain fart of “Wait…what am I supposed to do with this little black thing on the ice?” The coughing up of the puck deep in their own zone, the passing of the puck to avoid pressure to a defensive partner with a forechecker all over his back, and the failed easy clears (I’m looking at you too, forwards) have resulted in many a goal scored against the Flyers this year.
Well, I was kind of really wrong with my prediction for the Florida Panthers. A “team full of second and third liners” was what I called them. So now, our friends in southern Florida are all yelling:
So I’d say that the Panthers are definitely the surprise team at this point in the season. Whoddathunk that the Panthers would be sitting atop the Southeast Division while Washington and Tampa were out of the top 8 teams in the Eastern Conference? Now the question is can the Panthers keep it up? Do they have enough to win the division for the first time ever and make the playoffs for the first time since 2000?
Yes, they do.
The top line of Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg, and Tomas Fleischmann has just absolutely been on fire this entire season. Versteeg leads the team in goals (16) and points (34) and is finally making his naysayers that he’s known his entire career eat their words about him. He’s on pace for almost 40 goals this season and has a good shot at getting close to it. His production isn’t the most surprising thing in the world considering his past 20 goal seasons and the fact that he’s never really had the opportunity of playing consistent first line minutes, but still, he’s been very impressive.
Tomas Fleischmann has always been known as a guy with offensive ability but was also playing the shadow of the likes of Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin in Washington. He made the most out of the trade that sent him to the Colorado Avalanche, scoring at nearly a point per game pace. But disaster struck with an injury that knocked him out for the remainder of the season. He seems to have picked up from where he left off before he was sidelined.
The pivot of the top line, Stephen Weiss, is finally breaking out the way I’ve been expecting him to for the past few years. I guess it has a lot to do with good chemistry with his linemates, but Weiss is definitely one of the more underrated offensive talents in the league. It’s good for the Panthers that he’ll finally get the recognition via his production that he deserves.
On the defensive side, Brian Campbell is doing what he does best, which is put up points. His 25 ranks him second in the league among defenseman. Surprise scorer Jason Garrison has potted 10 goals, including 6 powerplay goals, and leads the league in goals among defensemen. Finally, Dmitry Kulikov’s 20 points aren’t too shabby either.
In 33 games this season, Florida has scored 90 goals, which puts them 15th in the league in goals per game. They don’t give up many goals, having a goals against per game of 2.42, good for 7th. Their special teams are solid as well. They’re set up to win the Southeast with relative ease, as the teams behind them don’t seem to want to have anything to do with a divisional crown. The Lightning, whom I thought were just having a bit of a rocky start, is just not a good team. And the Capitals can’t seem to get anything together. Still I’m not ready to put them in the elite branch of NHL teams.
The big reason is the lack of scoring depth. This will be their downfall come playoff time. Right now, out of their 90 goals scored, 39 of them have come from the top line of Weiss, Versteeg, and Fleischmann. That’s 43%. Now, add in Garrison’s goals and we find that 54.4% of the Panthers goals have come from 4 players. That’s one trick pony territory if I’ve ever seen it. The next best goal scorer is Sean Bergenheim, who has 7 on the season so far and amazingly, no assists. Shawn Matthias is next with 5 goals.
Okay, but as long as they’re not scoring, if they’re not allowing goals, they should be fine, right? Take the +/- of the team without taking the four top scorers’. The team is a combined -66.
Yes, that’s bad. Yes, Scottie Upshall’s been out, but even he only had 1 goal in 15 games. And maybe a healthy Mikael Samuelsson can provide a spark.
What does this mean? It means that if you can shut down the top line of the Panthers, you’re going to win almost every game you play against them. Outside of the 4 top goal scorers, Kulikov is the only player with more than 1 powerplay goal: he has 2. If you look at the teams who enjoy any sort of success in the playoffs, and the teams that ultimately go on to win the Stanley Cup, superior scoring depth is one of the main common traits these teams share. Yeah, you might be able to shut down the top line, but do you have the resources on your team to then shut down the second and third lines? If you’re playing the Panthers, most playoff teams absolutely do.
Can the Panther’s defense withstand an offensive onslaught from a team like the Bruins, Flyers, or Penguins in a seven game series? Can they rely on Brian Campbell and Jason Garrison to be “the guys” on the blueline to shut down opposing forwards?
Making the playoffs and a possible divisional crown is a great step in the right direction for the Panthers. They can attract talent from around the league in free agency if they think they’ve got a shot at success. It’s just simply not their time yet.
Let’s ask Mr. Horse how he feels about the NHL’s realignment:
Yeah, I agree with Mr. Horse.
In case you haven’t seen the new alignment, you can view it here. Let me fire off all of the reasons I think this is a bad idea:
Look, we know why the league is doing this. They want to ease up on the travel through time zones for a number of Western Conference teams. Teams don’t like it when their fans have to stay up until 10:30 PM to catch the start of their game. And it’s tough physically and mentally to travel. Those are legitimate concerns, but they’ve also greatly increased the north-south travel. Just look at the distance between Sunrise, Florida and Montreal, Quebec. Personally, I don’t think that’s enough good reason to cancel out the heartburn it will cause the fans.
And no matter what, the Avalanche are going to have to play a million miles to play anyone.
To me, this just screams gimmick. If I wanted to watch something stupid, I’d switch on ESPN.
Whining is worthless if I don’t have any answers to the problems myself. I have several. Refer to the map below to make it a little easier to see what I’m talking about. My goal is to change things as little as possible but make some sort of geographical sense. And obviously, we don’t want the Winnipeg Jets in the Southeast Division.
Realignment #1: Predators…who cares?
Nashville is in Dixie. It’s south of Washington, D.C. and right on line with Raleigh, North Carolina. Put Nashville in the Southeast and Winnipeg in the Central. Yes, it puts the Predators in a different time zone from the rest of the division, but it’s Nashville. I think about 8 people from that city would notice that the team changed divisions. Heck, they’re already changing time zones to play the Red Wings and Blue Jackets, so I don’t see it as that big of a deal.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I know our Canadian friends have already celebrated their Thanksgiving, but here in the good ole US of A, we’re okay if you guys from up north double dip. So let’s go around the league and see what each team should be thankful for today:
Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selanne decided to play another year
Boston Bruins: How about a short hangover? 10 straight wins right now…
Buffalo Sabres: Jhonas Enroth seems to do nothing but win
Calgary Flames: They share a conference with the Blue Jackets
Carolina Hurricanes: They’re only 3 points out of a playoff spot despite Eric Staal’s very slow start
Chicago Blackhawks: Good health so far
Colorado Avalanche: The reemergence of Kyle Quincey
Columbus Blue Jackets: Vinny Prospal still has something left in the tank
Dallas Stars: Sheldon Souray hasn’t gotten hurt yet
Detroit Red Wings: Age is a state of mind
Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins seems to be the real deal
Florida Panthers: Kris Versteeg!
Los Angeles Kings: Drew Doughty is happy again
Minnesota Wild: Currently first place in the NHL
Montreal Canadiens: That the Senators have cooled off a bit
Nashville Predators: They have an elite talent in Pekka Rinne locked up for awhile
New Jersey Devils: Adam Henrique is looking like a solid pivot
New York Islanders: Rick DiPietro has one less year on his contract
New York Rangers: Their defense and goaltending is good enough to keep them competitive
Ottawa Senators: They had earplugs in when the critics were saying they’d be the worst in the league this year
Philadelphia Flyers: New faces and new responsibilities doesn’t mean less offense
Phoenix Coyotes: Dave Tippet still knows his defense
Pittsburgh Penguins: They’re an elite team with or without Sidney Crosby in the lineup
San Jose Sharks: Joe Pavelski is turning into a stud
St. Louis Blues: They got Ken Hitchcock before the Jackets did
Tampa Bay Lightning: They’re at .500 despite their terrible and banged up defense
Toronto Maple Leafs: Playoffs might not be out of the question this year
Vancouver Canucks: Corey Schneider is on the bench Roberto Luongo
Washington Capitals: Nicklas Backstrom remembered how to produce
Winnipeg Jets: They have fans now
Sometimes a situation is so messed up, you don’t even know where to begin. First, here’s the video:
The NHL has chosen not to suspend Milan Lucic for nailing Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. Really?! But I’m not sure what I should be angrier about as a fan of hockey: the lack of discipline from the front office or the fact that the Buffalo Sabres did absolutely nothing to Lucic afterwards.
Let’s go over the hit. Miller comes out of his net to play the puck with Lucic barreling down the wing. Both players have a right to the puck, and if incidental contact occurs as a result of the scramble, so be it.
But can anyone honestly say that was incidental contact? Lucic looked up, saw Miller, and still decided to run him over. He finished his check on him. That’s 100% illegal. I know that many hockey fans believe that with all the padding that goalies wear, they should be able to checked when they’re outside of the crease like any other player. That’s neither here nor there. As the rules stand, you’re not allowed to intentionally body check a goalie. For those of you saying that Miller was fair game, here’s Rule 42.1:
A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease area. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an opposing player makes unnecessary contact with a goalkeeper. However, incidental contact, at the discretion of the Referee, will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.
Now Ryan Miller’s out with a concussion.
Lucic did get a two minute charging minor for the play, so at least the refs recognized that it was a foul play.
Like always, people will chalk this up to Lucic being “a tough, physical” player who plays a very “hard-nose” style. Let’s get real, he’s an oaf out there who can’t control himself when he’s got the chance to pound someone, whether legal or not or dirty or not.
So what did the Sabres do in response? Absolutely nothing. Oh, I’m sorry, someone pushed him a bit, although it looked like Lucic was the aggressor because the Sabres’ effort to defend their goalie was so pathetic. Ryan Miller is their franchise and he needs much better protection than that. Someone should have cleaned his clock that game or taken a run at Thomas. You can’t let that kind of play go unpunished because it’s clear that you can’t rely on the league to take care of justice.
Credit the Bruins, though, for building a big, tough team that opponents would rather not mess with. That’s one of the reasons they won the Cup last season. They could bully you into submission. They would pound and pound you to the point that you would think twice about making a move. This style is much like what the Anaheim Ducks used when they won the Cup several years ago.
Clearly, the Sabres aren’t built that way and took their medicine very quietly. Who on the Sabres is going to stand up to Lucic? Lucic will beat most of the players on the Sabres in a fight, but that doesn’t matter. Show some guts and defend your teammate even if you know you’ll probably take a licking.
The Sabres are the biggest disgrace in this. I’m not surprised that Lucic would goon it up and I’m not surprised that the league would drop the ball on a suspension. I am surprised, though, that no one on the Sabres would lift a finger to defend a teammate.
The trap might be the most boring strategy there is in hockey. It slows the game down to the point of it looks like the players are skating in mud. It’s passive and it doesn’t take too much skill to use. That’s one of the reasons why people hate it so much: it cheapens the game so that teams with low skill levels can keep a tight game against a better, more talented team.
And it doesn’t get much coverage, unless you do what the Flyers did to it this week in Tampa. The Lightning employed the 1-3-1 trap to start the game. Instead of skating right into it and being forced to dump the puck in, the Flyers simply decided to wait. The defenseman literally stood at the faceoff dot in his own zone and didn’t move. The refs eventually blew the play dead and dropped the puck for a faceoff, but this scene happened several times during the game.
There’s been a lot of anger dished out for both sides. Some claim that the Flyers just gave up and displayed all sorts of bad sportsmanship and delayed the game. Others argue that Tampa’s choice of play is a sissy style with no place in hockey. Many have even called for the league to make it illegal to employ a 1-3-1.
Personally, I don’t like the trap. It’s boring and it’s a little bit wimpy (for lack of a better term), but for the league to ban it is ridiculous. You’re going to ban where a coach places his players on the ice? Come on, let’s get real. That sets a terrible precedent for future rulings about game flow.
There is also a claim that what the Flyers did was illegal. They reference Rule 72, specifically Rule 72.1, and Rule 63.1. Rule 72.1 states the following: