Monday, May 17, 2010
Lots went on in the hockey world this past week and I am filled with thoughts such as these:
Boston Bruins blowing a 3-0 series lead: Before this series began, most people thought that this series featured two evenly matched teams that would probably play six or seven closely contested hard fought games. Although the Bruins won the first three games, two of them were by one goal. As the series went on, it appeared the Bruins were a step slow and the Flyers wore them down. Still it is inexcusable what the Bruins let happen to them, but I am amazed by how well Philadelphia is playing right now. What is it about Chris Pronger during playoff time? Michael Leighton coming in after recovering from an injury and not playing in two months was unbelievable. I had no idea Ville Leino and James Van Riemsdyk were this good. What else can be said for Danny Briere and Simon Gagne? Looking at their roster it is evident that they underachieved during the regular season and are a team built for the playoffs. According to Philly newspapers, Jeff Carter may return for Game 3. Things only seem to be getting better for the Philadelphia Flyers. As for Boston, the future is bright as they hold the second overall pick in this years draft. They also have a solid goalie in Rask, and can dangle former Vezina trophy winner, Tim Thomas as trade bait. But they will have a long depressing summer thinking about what could of been. I think Claude Julien will keep his job, but it is certainly a dicey situation. The Bruins had trouble scoring goals all season, and it cost them this series. Miro Satan and Mark Recchi were great stories this postseason, but Boston, as most teams, need at least two top six forwards this offseason.
Pittsburgh exits, Montreal's amazing run continues: The effort from the Pittsburgh Penguins may have been the most pathetic effort in a Game 7 that we have seen in years. Perhaps, playing until mid June the last couple of seasons took its toll. Let's not forget, teams that miss the playoffs play less than over two months of hockey than the teams that reach the Stanley Cup finals. Montreal deserves all the accolades that they are getting for upsetting Washington and Pittsburgh in seven games. Even though they were blown out 6-0 last night, nobody should be writing them off. Michael Cammalleri did not appear to have as much room in the offensive zone last night as he did in the last two rounds. Look for the Habs to make adjustments, but Philly's defense is playing so well right now and their confidence level is sky high it appears that Montreal has a difficult hill to climb.
Finish Goaltenders: Like many, I was skeptical of Antti Niemi leading the Blackhawks in net. But after a 44 save performance yesterday, and watching him during the postseason, the guy is a pretty solid goalie. It made me think of all the exemplary goaltenders from Finland. How about this group that is scattered all over the league, Kiprusoff, Backstrom, Rask, Rinne, and Niemi. Not a bad group of netminders.
Niklas Backstrom signs 10 year contract with Capitals: The 22 year old Capitals center signed a 10 year, 67 million dollar contract today. Good for Washington for keeping one of their core young players on the team for awhile, but 10 years? I can't help but think of the Islanders disastrous investment into Rick DiPietro when I see clubs sign players for long durations. Still it's hard to argue with Backstroms' productivity as the center for Alex Ovechkin. As a 100 point scorer at that young of an age, the Capitals had to sign him, and if the 10 years got it done, than it's probably worth the risk.
Florida Panthers new GM: Dale Tallon, the former Hawks GM, and their current senior advisor was appointed general manager of the Panthers today. Good move by Florida, as they are one of those teams that has lots of young talent, but appears to be missing something to get over the hump of not making the playoffs. Tallon drafted Kane and Toews, and made some key trades that brought in Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg, but had a mess up last offseason of offering players qualifying offers too late which led to him being replaced as GM. Florida is one of those GM jobs that in my dreams, I would love to have. Beautiful weather, not a pressure hockey market, a delightful arena, and young talented players like David Booth, Stephen Weiss, and Nathan Horton. I guess I better keep dreaming!
Thumbs Up: Peter Laviolette: Along with the whole Flyers team, its amazing that this team clinched a playoff berth during the last game of the season in a shootout, and now are three games away from the Stanley Cup. Getting his team to come back from 0-3 is historic, and also after the Flyers were down 0-3 in game seven to come back is remarkable.
Thumbs Down: Pittsburgh Defense: I hate to keep harping on it, and we put the video on the website after the game, but Sergei Gonchar and the Penguins defense was atrocious in Game 7. Not the way anybody would envision the Stanley Cup Champions going down.