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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Power Rankings

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The Caps stay on top. New Jersey and Detroit move way up, but Chicago and Philadelphia nose dive.

1. (1) Washington Capitals
The Caps can beat anyone, aside from the Canes.  Carolina has beaten Washington twice in as many weeks.  The rest of the NHL has yet to figure out this scoring machine from D.C.

2. (2) Phoenix Coyotes 
The 'Yotes had a nine game winning streak snapped by losing a pair to Chicago and Nashville.  yet they rebounded with a convincing win over Colorado; thereby clinching a payoff berth.  Phoenix has been and continues to be one of the great stories from this season.

3. (6) New Jersey Devils
The Devils have played .500 hockey in March, where they have been either "all on" or "all off" offensively.  Lucky for them, Pittsburgh has not fared much better and New Jersey remains in the hunt for the Atlantic crown.
4. (7) San Jose Sharks 
After spiraling into a six game losing streak the Sharks have, um... bitten back.  San Jose has now won three straight, despite seeing star forward Joe Thornton injured.
5. (5) Pittsburgh Penguins
Like New Jersey, Pittsburgh has hovered close to .500 since the break. Yet, they have an excuse.  Super duper star Evgeni Malkin nearly fractured his foot a few weeks ago.  He hasnot returned to the lineup since, barring on game last week. They have a favorable schedule the rest of the way and may just wrestle the Atlantic away from the Devils at the last moment.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Another Game, Another Cheap Shot!

Inspired by Don Cherry's endless campaign against Matt Cooke, we at Hockey Plumber will crusade against cheap shots of any kind, until they are eradicated from our great game!

Tonight's victim: Daymond Langkow.  Here is the video.

As you can see from the slo-mo replay, the puck attacks Langkow when he was in a defenseless position.  Minnesota defenseman Greg Zanon had checked Langkow, as he is falling, the puck, in a cowardly and despicable act, strikes Langkow from behind!

The League will obviously review this incident. With the pucks lengthy and inglorious history of blatantly and unabashedly seeking to cause injuries, we would not be surprised to see the puck get suspended for the rest of the season! ...and well it should be!

Top 12 Russian NHL'ers of the Post-Soviet Era

12.  Slava Kozlov

Often being overshadowed by his Red Wings teammates of the late 90's and subsequently toiling with the Thrashers in Atlanta have made many forget about Kozlov.  The Rooksi forward was a critical component of Detroit's Cup-winning squads in 1997 and 1998, and managed to produce steadily and impressively for many years after.

11.  Alexei Kovalev

Along with Sergei Zubov, in 1994 Kovalev became one of the first Russian players to ever get his name etched into the Stanley Cup.  He finished 3rd in playoff scoring for the New York Rangers that season, then continued on with a dazzling yet streaky career playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens.  (Not so dazzling in Ottawa). 

10.  Sergei Zubov

Zubov is only one of two defensemen to crack this list, but his spot is rightfully-earned.  He was drafted in the 5th round in 1990, finishing his career as one of the best offensive blue-liners in the NHL.  (Have you seen the Dallas Stars' defense without him?)  He won a Cup with New York in 1994, then again with the Stars in 1999, grabbing two Olympic gold medals as well. 

Welcome Dmitriy!

Please join me in welcoming a new contributing author to Hockey Plumber: Dmitriy Richter.  Dmitriy is the administrator and founding author of Frozen War Room and makes regular contributions to Fadoo Hockey in Canada.

As you may have guessed by his first name... he is Scottish.  Kidding.  Yes, Dmitriy was born in Russia, so please do not feel obligated to believe any shameless propaganda that he will inevitably attempt to pilfer here.  No doubt he will try to convince all of us that Ovechkin created hockey on the 8th day, after he rested on day seven.  (We all know it was Crosby on day 8.7... with an assist from Malkin!)

If you would like to keep up with him on a more regular basis, and I strongly recommend that you do, visit Dmitriy's fantastic blog at:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Power Rankings

You can also view our rankings at: and

The Caps reclaim the top spot. Phoenix and Vancouver are up, as San Jose and Ottawa tank.

1. (2) Washington Capitals
Ovechkin was suspended for his shove of Chicago's Campbell.  Honestly, the Caps don't need him to shove opponents around.  Even when they lose, they nearly always seem to manage to secure a point.
2. (4) Phoenix Coyotes 
Winners of seven straight.  Who would have believed that this team would contend for the top spot in the West?  Bryzgalov is red hot.  Take a look at the talent waiting in their system and you realize that Phoenix is poised to become a power for years to come!

3. (6) Vancouver Canucks 
Vancouver has won seven of ten since the break.  Nearly all of their top players are clicking and at just the right time.  Chicago and San Jose were thought to have the West locked up, but Phoenix and Vancouver have other ideas.

4. (3) Chicago Blackhawks 
If it weren't for the Kings, the Hawks would be on a four game skid.  Luckily for them, L.A. has given them two wins. Additionally, the Sharks have faltered, handing Chicago a share of the conference lead.

5. (5) Pittsburgh Penguins
If it weren't for the fact that the Penguins were owned by New Jersey, they might be challenging the Caps for the conference crown.  But, alas, they will have to fight it out to the very end with those same Devils for the number two slot in the East.

6. (10) New Jersey Devils
The Devils cannot lose to Pittsburgh, and we were tempted to move them ahead of Pittsburgh; but they struggle with the rest of the division and cannot beat bottom feeders.  New Jersey has recent trip ups against the Isles, Oilers and Leafs!

7. (1) San Jose Sharks 
What happened?  The Sharks have lost four in a row and lost badly! Their top scorers have been next to invisible and Nabokov...yeeesh!

8. (12) Nashville Predators
The Preds have won four straight, which include a pair of shutouts by outstanding netminder Pekka Rinne. Nashville's playoff spot is all but wrapped up and the team has a chance to move up to as high as the fifth seed in the West.

9. (9) Colorado Avalanche
The Avs had put together their first win streak since the break before losing to Calgary Wednesday night.  Recent acquisition Peter Mueller has been a smashing success in the Mile High City, but the team has not been able to keep pace with the rival Canucks for the division lead.

10. (7) Buffalo Sabres
This just in:  Ryan Miller is human!  He even gave up three goals... in less than one period in Atlanta!  The Sabres have faltered a bit, but Ottawa has been awful.  Barring a collapse in the last dozen or so games, Buffalo will be assured of  a top three seed in the East.

11. (8) Los Angeles Kings
The Kings have won only three times since the break and have lost ground in the West.  They do not appear to be in any real danger of losing their playoff spot, but their offense needs to kick back into gear again soon.
12. (15) Detroit Red Wings
Well, what do you know?  the Wings are healthy and they are winning games! They have few real tests the rest of the way and they will be playing in the post-season.

13. (14) Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers may want to consider playing the remaindure of their schedule with an empty net.  They cannot keep any of their goalies healthy.  The latest victim: Michael Leighton, who will miss 8-10 weeks with a high ankle sprain. The balance of their season rests in the hands of Brian "don't call me Bobby" Boucher, whom we are sure, l-l-l-loves his m-m-m-mamma too!

14. (16) Montreal Canadiens
Winners of six straight and seven of eight since the break, Montreal is finding a way to win. Apparently, all they had to do was change GMs and injure their best goal scorer!  Why didn't they think of that earlier?

15. (19) Carolina Hurricanes 
The Canes continue to be one of the better teams in the NHL since mid January.  They have recently notched wins against conference leaders Pittsburgh and Washington and have kept their march going despite the loss of Cam Ward and the trading of many of their impending UFAs.

16. (13) Calgary Flames
A pair of loses to start the week has knocked Calgary back out of their playoff spot in the West.  The teams ahead of them are at the top of their game.  The Flames will have to get as hot at the "C" on their sweaters to make the post-season.

17. (11) Ottawa Senators
With only one victory since the break, the Senators are in a free fall.  Not so long ago they posted one of the longer win streaks in the league this season.  Yet, now they are mired in an ugly slump, as they have struggled mightily to score goals and have been pathetically poor defensively as well.

18. (17) St. Louis Blues 
Another team that has found it's stroke just a little late.  They are playing extremely well, but it will take another miracle run to get themselves into the playoffs.
19. (20) Minnesota Wild
The Wild signed the most coveted U.S. College free agent Casey Wellman this week.  that was the good news.  The bad news: Minnesota was manhandled by Nashville in their next game and they have no hope of making the playoffs in the West.

20. (18) Boston Bruins
The Bruins got a chance to punch Matt Cooke on Thursday, but ended up losing for the fifth time in their last seven games.  Nevertheless Boston is still in the race in the East with their closest competitors for the eighth spot, the Rangers and Thrashers on the schedule next.

21. (23) Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks beat the West's co-leaders San Jose and Chicago in consecutive games, but lost one of their best defenders, James Wisniewski to an eight game suspension for his extremely dumb retaliation hit on Chicago's Brent Seabrook.

22. (27) Atlanta Thrashers
The skid is over as Atlanta has won their last two.  They are still in the hunt for the eighth seed, and we are betting that the division rival Capitals are hoping they pull it off. Washington has yet to lose this season to Atlanta.

23. (22) Dallas Stars 
Wrapped around impressive wins against Washington and San Jose are seven loses in the month of March.  The Stars have played very poorly defensively and have to be looking to "next year" already.
24. (24) New York Rangers
Much like Dallas, the Rangers have few wins to speak of in March.  They have found ways to lose, getting blown out, shut out, or going down in OT since the break.

25. (28) New York Islanders
The Isles have halted their skid and begun their own winning streak with dominant performances over the Devils, Leafs and Canucks. The later included a five point night by super rookie John Tavares.

26. (29) Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs may actually be finding their game.  With wins in five of their last six, do Toronto fans dare to dream of what may happen next season?

27. (21) Columbus Blue Jackets
The Jackets continue to be consistently inconsistent.  Their struggles have clouded the vision of the future for this franchise.  Is this season a fluke or was last years' success the fluke?

28. (25) Florida Panthers
Horton is back for Florida, but what will it matter?  You never know what you are going to get out of this group.  Will they score seven like they did against Philly, or give up seven like they did against an Ovechkin-less Capitals team?

29. (26) Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa lost Ryan Malone for the next two weeks.  But, with only two wins since the break, the Lightning are just auditioning for next year's club.  Oh... and Steve Downie is still a cheap shot artist.  He needs to borrow $1,000 from someone.  Any takers?

30. (30) Edmonton Oilers
A road game for Edmonton means a loss.  The equipment guy needs to start carrying a "Welcome to Rexall Place" sign with them to place in the visitor dressing room.  Fool them into winning one every once in a while.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Matt Cooke Retribution. Moron Style: Boston Herald Fish Wrap

A few days ago we discussed how certain media pundits have a tendency to overreact to controversial hits, etc...

In the past, we have called out hockey writers for various silliness, but the Boston Herald's Ron Borges deserves a special section set aside for himself.

Borges suggests that the Bruins "Make the Penguins pay the right way".  His game plan? "Hit the Penguins legally every chance you get. Make a point of putting the wood to their best players, Crosby and Malkin."

The guy is a sheer hockey genius, and the Bruins should seriously consider bringing him in as a game strategy consultant!

The best part of this fine literary work is how Borges manages to call for revenge on the team that took out Marc Savard, yet in the process manages to alienate himself from his fellow media member and then essentially insult the Bruins!
"Forget all the phony media chest beating about mandatory retribution for Cooke’s cheap shot from the blind side (of course, knowing him) to the head of Marc Savard that probably put Savard out for the season. That kind of talk is for children or the kind of guys who talk the talk but would never walk the walk."
Yes, other media members are phonies and childish.  Borges suggestions:
"They can sign Manny Pacquiao to a one-night contract and let him take care of the situation for them. They can call my boyhood friend, Nickie “The Nap” Napoliano, who makes problems disappear for a living."...
"To fight Cooke would be, in a word, stupid - unless Pacquiao is handling the fisticuffs. With Nickie, there would be no fighting involved. More a case of “Anybody seen Matt?' "...
"Take Sidney Crosby down every chance they get. He, not Cooke, is the Penguins’ heart and soul. Make him bleed for the sins of his teammate. Take him into the boards. Knock him down every chance you get. Bounce a puck off his nose if you can. If you get a blind side shot at him, put your body through his chest."
Even being facetious, going the "bring in a boxer, or name dropping your mafioso pal" route is pathetic and a sterling example of "walking the walk"!  I'm embarrassed for him!

Take out Crosby!  There is a novel idea.  We are pretty sure that the concept is only legally fit for print if your newspaper starts with the word "Philadelphia."  The Inquirer and Daily News attorneys should be calling soon.

Yet, embarrassing himself wasn't enough.  He had to call out the Bruins players as well.

"Hit the Penguins legally every chance you get. Make a point of putting the wood to their best players, Crosby and Malkin. Forget the fighting unless they want to do it in the parking lot where everyone can get a little leverage because their skates will be on the locker room floor and not on their feet.
Now this is asking a lot, because the Bruins hit people about as often as Mother Teresa did. They may not be pacifists, but they might as well be. To them, a hit is something they hear on the radio. Punch is something you drink, not something you throw at these guys."
Right on Ron: Fight it out in the parking lot! That's not "phony" talk.  You walk the walk brother!  ...and don't stop there... call the Bruins a bunch of pansies if they don't do it!

He forgot one other thing.  He did not dress down David Booth for being a "phony fighting fool" for when he punched away at Mike Richards in his first game against the Flyers after Richards concussed him months before.

Those near pacifist Bruins are supposed to draw the blood of Crosby "for the sins of his teammate" Cooke.  To whom do we draw blood from at the Herald for the sins of Ron Borges and his asinine and juvenile discourse?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Defending Champs Bedeviled by New Jersey

The last time the Pittsburgh Penguins were swept in a season series of five games or more was before Mario Lemieux ever put a skate on NHL ice and another Brodeur, Richard was the best netminder by that name.

Thanks to the Devils, this generation of Penguins can commiserate with that squad from the early 1980's.

There hasn't been a repeat Stanley Cup Champion since the '97-'98 Red Wings.  Without a single regular season victory versus two of the other top contenders in the East, New Jersey and Washington, it looks as if that trend may continue.

Just why have the Penguins struggled so much against this Devils team?  There are three basic reasons.

1.  New Jersey has "out-physicaled" Pittsburgh.

The Devils seem to win nearly all the one on one battles in the corners, along the boards. New Jersey clogs all the critical areas on the ice, the neutral, zone, and in front of the net, yet the Penguins have done little to nothing to force their will upon the Devils defenders.

2. New Jersey has "out-opportunitied" Pittsburgh.

Tonight's game was a perfect example.  The Penguins carried the play in the first five minutes of the game, and even scored the first goal.  However, New Jersey stuck to their plan, pressured the puck and forced turnover after turnover, converted their odd man chances until they were up four to one on the scoreboard.

3. New Jersey has out-coached Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh broadcast team would have their fans believe that the Devils just are a bad match up for their team... but in six tries, with almost zero progress against the same opponent, much of the blame must fall upon the game plan.  Take a look at their most commonly played opponents, the rest of the Atlantic division.  The Penguins have dominated the Flyers, Rangers and Islanders going 12-2-1, while the Devils are sub .500 against the same team at 7-8-0.  Why have the other division teams figured out New Jersey?

If Pittsburgh is to have any hope of repeating, they will have to outplay New Jersey the rest of the way to earn a number two seed.  Otherwise, they face a more likely road to the Finals that will travel to both New Jersey and their other regular season nemesis: Washington.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Crosby, Ovechkin, Cooke: Don Cherry... Overreact. Ready? Go!

Don Cherry used his "Coach's Corner" segment on HNIC to tell us what an evil vile thing is Matt Cooke. Don Cherry calling someone out on a personal vendetta? Big surprise, we know. 

(I know it's very seventh grade of me, but I smirk every time I see the "Hockey Night In Canada" acronym.  Canada and the U.S. can be so vastly different.)

A few observations:  Cherry says "it's unbelievable" that Cooke wasn't suspended. He then cited the rulebook regarding assessing what?... yes, a match penalty.  OK. Thanks Don?

Cherry uses video "evidence" of how cheap Cooke has been throughout his career.  (My personal fav is when he talks about Cooke going after Vinny Lecavalier's head and shows a clip of him, in what appears to be Cooke hitting him under the arm and shoulder.) Then the coach enlightens the audience of how tough he is by regailing a story of how he confronted Cooke last season.

Cherry also made reference of how this incident will make Cooke the "poster boy" of the critics of the NHL.  My vote for "poster boy of reasons to not like hockey" would be Cherry himself, but that is another story.

Cooke wasn't suspended because he did not use his elbow to hit Savard, and the shoulder hit, even to the head, is "legal".  For the one millionth time, Mike Richards was not suspended either for the same hit on David Booth.

Everywhere you click, one can read how and why the league can and will change the rule to protect players from these kinds of plays.  One can also find mountains of articles asking "what if... this happened to Crosby", etc...

Well, just today, we nearly found out how the NHL would react to an injury to Crosby, when Steve Downie, um... hog tied him in the first period.

As with many of these situations, it all is a matter of perspective.  On the Pittsburgh feed that you just watched, the Downie "slew foot" move on Crosby is a vile and despicable act of sheer evil. 

Now watch the Tampa television feed:

In Tampa, Crosby was "checked" and "injured"...and it's an "ugh...really scary thing."

Crosby was alright. During a first intermission interview on TSN in Tampa, he was asked about the hit.  His response was that it was a little scary, but those sorta plays "happen" in hockey.  What a whiner that guy is, eh Crosby haters? 

Crosby didn't think it was a big deal, but will Pittsburgh/Crosby fans all over call for a suspension, or for Downie to be burned at the stake?  You bet they will.

On the other side of the spectrum.  What will happen to a superstar when he is guilty of the not-so-infrequent "cheap shot"?  Alex Ovechkin received his third game misconduct penalty of the season when he shoved Chicago's Brian Campbell into the boards today on NBC.

Ovechkin has had multiple knee-on-knee hits, often leaves his skates to hit opponents and is reckless and careless, ala Matt Cooke, would say his detractors.  Ovechkin may avoid being suspended thanks to a very fine line in the rulebook.

Like Cooke, if he is suspended, his fans (Pierre McGuire, etc...) will go nuts and cite the letter of the law.  If he isn't, expect Don Cherry to put together yet another "enlightening" piece of what a piece of "Eurotrash" Ovechkin is, and how he once confronted him about his gutless play!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Friday...ish Power Rankings

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Some acquisitions are really paying dividends, some Olympic participants look drained since the break... San Jose reclaims the top spot.  Buffalo, Calgary and Montreal move up.  Dallas, Anaheim and Atlanta falter and fall.

1. (3) San Jose Sharks 
The Shark have won three straight.  Nabokov still doesn't look all the way back after his unceremonious exit from the Olympics, but San Jose has the firepower to overwhelm almost anybody.

2. (1) Washington Capitals
The Caps are still winning but seem to struggle more lately than what would be expected. Eric Belanger and Scott Walker have been sparkling additions.

3. (2) Chicago Blackhawks
Give up less than five goals the and Hawks win.  Will goaltending be their downfall in the post season? If Andrew Ladd keeps scoring hat tricks, Chicago has nothing to worry about.

4. (4) Phoenix Coyotes
Deadline acquisitions Stempniak and Wolski have scored even more than Phoenix had hoped thus far; helping the Coyotes to three straight victories.

5. (5) Pittsburgh Penguins
Headed into Friday, Pittsburgh had yet to lose in regulation since the break.  Does coach Bylsma have another magical stretch run and playoff plan ready?

6. (6) Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks have been held to less than four goals two times since the break.  They lost both games.  Should that be a concern?  Vancouver is getting loads of offense.  Mitchell and Bieksa are noticeable lineup omissions.

7. (12) Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres are back after a skid.  Winning tight games by scoring just enough to reward Miller for his efforts in net.

8. (7) Los Angeles Kings
The Kings have been up and down since the break.  Blowing out Dallas and Columbus and also dropping a pair of 2-4 decisions to Nashville and Montreal.  Inconsistency is natural with a young team, but it can be a death blow in the playoffs.

9. (8) Colorado Avalanche
Chris Stewart has been on fire.  The Avs have been beating the lesser teams, but have struggled against better ones.

10. (9) New Jersey Devils
New Jersey entered Friday's game with only seven wins in their last twenty one games, yet there are still very close to the top in the division race.  Will they get it together, or will they flop their way into the playoffs?

11. (10) Ottawa Senators
Ottawa was hot going into the Olympic break and have been absolutely frigid after it.  Somehow, aside from one night in Edmonton, the Sens have forgotten how to score.

12. (11) Nashville Predators
Nashville needs to keep the score low, because the offensive slug fests have not been kind to them. When Ellis and Rinne are on, the Preds are nearly unbeatable.

13. (22) Calgary Flames
The Flames have won four straight! The death threats and letter bombs have subsided at both Sutter households...for now.

14. (13) Philadelphia Flyers
If Pronger keeps getting abused like he did against Boston, instead of dishing out abuse, Philly fans can just learn to deal with yet another albatross long-term contract. You never know what team will show up each night.

15. (14) Detroit Red Wings
The Wings have four of six and are scoring goals. We keep saying it, but who wants to play Detroit in the first round?  No team in their right minds.

16. (26) Montreal Canadiens
Winners of four straight and five of six since the break, Montreal is way up in the East and in the rankings.  The Habs are scoring and could conceivably move as high as fifth in the conference.
17. (15) St. Louis Blues
The Blues had their streak snapped by Colorado, but bounced right back by beating the Isles in an OT shootout.  Chris Mason has been quietly having a great season.

18. (21) Boston Bruins
The B's can't catch a break this season.  Just as they start getting healthy again, Savard was literally blindsided by Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke and will likely miss the rest of the season.  Even if they hold on to their playoff spot, without Savard, Boston won't last long.

19. (20) Carolina Hurricanes
What if Carolina had their act together just a few weeks earlier? The Canes have won fourteen of their last twenty. Eric Staal is Eric Staal again and Manny Legace is Martin Brodeur.

20. (16) Minnesota Wild
The Wild have hit a bit of a skid, but no one has instructed Latendresse to stop scoring.  Since his trade from Montreal, he has been a force.  Gaborik who?

21. (23) Columbus Blue Jackets
Rick Nash is out with injury, but Columbus has won without him.  A million letters from Maple Leaf fans have already streamed in to the GM's office offering to take that "bum" Nash off the Jacket's hands.

22. (19) Dallas Stars 
The Stars have been flat out awful since the break.  Aside from one heroic performance by Turco against the Caps, Dallas has been getting hammered by opponents each night.

23. (18) Anaheim Ducks
The Ducks have yet to win since the break.  Fantastic during the Olympics, Hiller has been the opposite since for Anaheim.  He isn't getting much help from his fellow Ducks.

24. (25) New York Rangers
The Rangers entered Friday's game losers in four straight.  Like Hiller, Lundqvist has struggled lately.  When the Rangers play defensively, they cannot generate offense at all.  When they freewheel, they can't stop the opponent from scoring.

25. (24) Florida Panthers
The Panthers had won three straight before getting shut out in Colorado.  Florida is one of the league's most frustrating teams.  They have loads of young talent, but have far too many stretches where you would never know it.

26. (27) Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa hasn't won many lately, but Steven Stamkos doesn't stop trying.  Barry Melrose, you were wrong!
27. (17) Atlanta Thrashers
After winning their first two in March, Atlanta had lost four straight entering Friday's game against the Rangers.  Their offense has been M.I.A. during that stretch. They were shut out by Carolina and managed only one goal against both Nashville and Columbus. 

28. (28) New York Islanders
The Isles beat Chicago, but then have lost four in a row.  Just as they were early in the season, the Isles battle and keep it close nearly every contest, but come out on the short end far too often.  It's scary to say, but this team may be just a player or two away from actually being pretty good!

29. (29) Toronto Maple Leafs
Winners in three of their last four, the Leafs keep teasing their faithful fans.  It really doesn't matter does it? The rest of the way, all they can do is limit the Bruins chances at the top two selections in the draft.

30. (30) Edmonton Oilers
It's been a long, strange, season-long experiment to test if Jeff Deslauriers can actually play... and he can! Yet, the rest of this crew is under some question.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Red Bull Crashed Ice!

A friend of mine sent this to my attention. As Red Bull describes it: "Red Bull Crashed Ice is... A combination of hockey, downhill skiing and boardercross..."

For some reason Blogger won't let me embed the video.  Here is the link:

In a way, it is hockey without the worry of carrying a stick or having to worry about scoring those elusive goals!

The New York Rangers could definitely field a competitive squad!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Matt Cooke Decision: No Suspension

We all knew that this was a no win situation.  In the 2009-2010 season, Cooke's hit on Savard was not illegal, just dangerous.

If the NHL had suspended Cooke it would have broken precedent, as Mike Richards of Philadelphia was not suspended earlier this season for a near identical hit on Florida's David Booth.  Since they did not, detractors of the decision will point to Cooke's track record and that Richards should also have been suspended.

It has been written, not in this space mind you, that Cooke's hit differed from Richards' due to the fact that Richards was attempting to separate Booth from the puck, whereas Cooke hit Savard after a shot had been taken.

This is incorrect.  In watching the replay, you will notice that Booth had already passed the puck to a teammate when he was hit.  If you really would like to split hairs, it would appear in slow motion that Richards actually dipped down just before making contact in order to launch himself at Booth; and conversely Cooke stays constant in his motion while skating across Savard as they make contact.

Either way, both incidents occur within a fraction of a second.  Even with new rules in place for next season, it still will be a close call, as in both cases neither hit appears to be malicious, just a little careless.

The league must take action to protect players, but suspending players for hits that are not yet against the rules is really not a way to start.

We sympathize with Savard, Booth, Bruins and Panther fans alike. However, ruling any other way than what Colin Campbell did would have created even more ambiguity and question.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Power Rankings

You can also see our rankings at:

Deadline moves! Washington stays on top.  The Blues and Canes make major moves upward, while Dallas, Calgary and Tampa fall.

1. (1) Washington Capitals
The Caps made four deals at the deadline and got better defensively up front, and better offensively on the blueline!  They have won a pair of one goal games since the break, but no goals from Ovechkin.  Bench that guy!

2. (4) Chicago Blackhawks
The Blackhawks did not make a move for a goaltender, so it will be Niemi and Huet the rest of the way. Like Washington, they will go as far as their keepers take them.

3. (2) San Jose Sharks
Nabokov had an awful exit from the Olympic tourney, and it appears to have rolled over into the break.  He was torched in his first game back.  The Sharks have a powerful offense.  Do we sense a trend at the top here? Who needs to stop pucks when you can pile up goals on the offensive end?

4. (3) Phoenix Coyotes
They Coyotes were surprising active at the trade deadline.  Phoenix has a defensive game that can shut down anyone. Now that they added some scoring punch, can they go deep into the playoffs?

5. (8) Pittsburgh Penguins
Olympic hero Sidney Crosby has looked a little weary since the NHL games restarted, but he has a point in each game and the Pens have a pair of wins.  They added depth at the blueline and got a winger to play with Malkin in Ponikarovsky.  Three Finals appearances in a row?

6. (9) Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver is getting scoring from their top lines, and are playing reasonably well defensively.  They have a rough schedule in March that will test their playoff readiness.

7. (6) Los Angeles Kings
The Kings added some grit at the deadline.  The competition in the West will be fierce as their are six teams that have remained near the top all season long. The Kings are young and well balanced.

8. (7) Colorado Avalanche
Colorado has lost two of three since the break.  A swap of young players with Phoenix landed them Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter who the Avs believe fit their system better than Wojtek Wolski who had slowed after a torrid start.  Time will tell if they made the right move.

9. (10) New Jersey Devils
The Devils had struggled entering the Olympic break, but came out firing and beat San Jose at the Shark Tank coming out.  New Jersey added Martin Skoula at the deadline, but will they have enough to beat out Washington or Pittsburgh come playoff time?

10. (5) Ottawa Senators
Ottawa was red hot entering the break, but have been shelled in their two games after by the Rangers and Canes.  What happened?  Ottawa must find the defensive game that rocketed them up the standings again to compete with the top teams in the East.

11. (12) Nashville Predators
Nashville often seems to find just enough to win.  They held on to their blue chips on the blueline at the deadline and even added more punch in Grebeshkov.  The Preds could be a real nightmare for one of the top teams in the post season.

12. (11) Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres have struggled having won just one games since January.  They added some scoring and toughness with Raffi Torres, but will he be enough?

13. (17) Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers had won five straight before David Booth and the Panthers literally punched their lights out on Wednesday night.  Ray Emery is done for the duration.  Without a prime time netminder, Laviolette will nat be able to take Philly very far.

14. (15) Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are finally healthy, but things look pretty much the same as they have all season in Detroit.  They fought hard in a grinding win over Colorado, but then were blown out at home against Vancouver.  Up and then down, the Wings will more than likely make the post season, but will they cause trouble for a top seed or get smoked? No one knows.

15. (21) St. Louis Blues
The Blues have won five in a row and suddenly have found the sticks that have all the goals in them.  With offensive support, St. Louis now seems primed for another stretch run.

16. (20) Minnesota Wild
Minnesota returned from the break by shutting out Calgary.  they have made significant strides up the standings in the new year, but it may have come to late for them to really contend for a post season spot.

17. (22) Atlanta Thrashers
The Thrashers have really looked like a better team since the trade of Ilya Kovachuk! They are getting consistent team offense and decent defensive play.  Atlanta is in a good position to field the second playoff team in franchise history.

18. (14) Anaheim Ducks
Anaheim made multiple backup goaltending moves and added Lubomir Visnovsky at the deadline, whom we suspect will be tabbed their heir apparent to captain Scott Niedermayer. Anaheim still is in the hunt for a playoff spot, but the odds are still against them due to their atrocious start.
19. (13) Dallas Stars
Dallas has been awful coming out of the break, suffering a pair of blowout losses.  Marty Turco looks as if he has already checked out, and the newly acquired Kari Lehtonen may be given an extended audition to remain with the team for next season and beyond.

20. (23) Carolina Hurricanes
The Canes are on a seven game winning streak!  They are not just winning, but dominating games during this run.  They effectively sold off some spare parts that do not factor in the teams' near future, and held on to sniper Ray Whitney at the deadline.

21. (18) Boston Bruins
The Bruins did not make any deadline moves of significance and did nothing to bolster their badly sagging offense.  This looks to be a lost season for the B's.  However, they plenty of draft picks and may end up with one of the top two selections in the draft as a consolation.

22. (24) Calgary Flames
The Flames still seem mired in a long slump.  They have a very unfriendly schedule down the stretch and may have played themselves out of the playoffs after a strong start.  No more blaming Phaneuf... who's fault is it now?

23. (25) Columbus Blue Jackets
The Jackets have played much better since their coaching change, but not well enough to make anyone believe in them again.  Nash had an excellent Olympic tourney and maybe it will translate into an inspired run for Columbus... but maybe not.

24. (27) Florida Panthers
The Panthers issued a letter to their season ticket holders to warn them of the impending changes to the team due to an unacceptable performance heading into the break.  Yet, the deadline came and went with a few minor tinkerings.  What are their fans to think now?

25. (26) New York Rangers
Surprise, surprise, the one major player to get injured during Olympic play... you guessed it: Marian Gaborik!  Although his boo boos do not seem serious, Gaborik has missed both of New York's games since the break. Yet, the team has played well offensively without him. What?

26. (19) Montreal Canadiens
Montreal did not do much at the deadline, and we suspect it was mostly because they have no players of interest to other teams.  They are due to get Cammalleri back in mid March, but this team has a lot of work ahead.

27. (16) Tampa Bay Lightning
The streaky 'Ning have lost five in a row.  It has been a magical season for Steve Stamkos who just keeps on scoring, but a roller coaster ride for the team as a whole.  Tampa looks as thought it does have an official new ownership group and many of their current players may be auditioning for jobs the rest of the way.

28. (28) New York Islanders
After looking like they may compete for a post season spot, the Isles have won only three of their last ten and seemed destined for another lottery.  Yet, they have plenty of reasons to believe that "next year" will be their time.

29. (29) Toronto Maple Leafs
Lots of moves and this team seems much further along on the road to be wholly Brian Burke's creation.  Yet, they have only two victories since January. 

30. (30) Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers sold off a few "assets" at the deadline.  Yet they still stink and must trust in an influx of youth to save them next year.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trade Deadline 2010: Washington Gets Better... or Worse?

Many believe that the team in the East that did the most to help their chances of winning a Cup, at (or near) the deadline, was the defending Champion Penguins.  they addressed their top needs by adding depth on defense and a top six winger... and gave up relatively little to do so.

Washington, who took Pittsburgh to a game seven last season, leads the East by a wide margin, but certainly must have felt pressure to shore up their needs.  The Caps entered the day looking to add some grit to their blueline and some defensive ability up front.

By acquiring forward Scott Walker from Carolina for a seventh round pick in 2010, and then adding another forward in Eric Belanger from Minnesota for a second rounder, the Caps got a pair of excellent defensive minded forwards that can do a little of everything.  Considering that they did not have to give up a roster player or even a prospect to do so, makes the deals even that much better.

However, GM George McPhee made two more trades for the blueline that left us scratching our heads.  First, they re-acquired defenseman Milan Jurcina from Columbus for a sixth rounder.  Then they swung a deal for Joe Corvo with Carolina for defenseman Brian Pothier, prospect forward Oskar Osala and a 2011 second round pick.

Regardless of what ones opinion might be of the players and picks that they traded to get these two... we ask, how do Jurcina and Corvo help Washington?  Jurcina was traded away earlier this season because he rarely uses his imposing size and makes poor decisions in his own end.  As TSN's Pierre McGuire stated when they announced the deal, "There is a reason he is called 'Oh No' Corvo."  What ever talents Corvo brings to the ice, he is notorious for his huge mistakes.

Additionally, because they did not move any of their current roster forwards today, Washington will have to sit some of their talented group to put their acquisitions on the ice.

In the end, the Caps will win by outscoring their opponents down the stretch and in the post season.  Only a Cup will suffice this team.  Did they get better or worse today?  The hardware they collect or fail to collect will provide the answer.

Trade Deadline 2010: Busy Day for Phoenix? Really?

The day was off to a slow start, but ended with a flourish of trades, many of them involved, of all teams, the Phoenix Coyotes.

Altogether the day saw 30 trades, involved 53 players and 25 draft choices. The Coyotes were involved in seven transactions. 

Phoenix started off by acquiring defenseman Derek Morris from Boston in exchange for a 2011 4th round pick.

Later they were involved in what could be categorized as the biggest trade of the day, adding forward Wojtek Wolski from Colorado in exchange for forwards Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter. The Coyotes also traded for blueliner Mathieu Schneider from Vancouver, send defenseman Sean Zimmerman and a conditional pick back to the Canucks.

From Toronto they acquired forward Lee Stempniak for defenseman Matt Jones and a fourth and seventh rounder. They added forward Alexandre Picard from Columbus for forward Chad Kolarik, goaltender Miika Wiikman and a 2011 seventh rounder from the Rangers for defenseman Anders Eriksson and forward Petteri Nokelainen from Anaheim for unspecified sixth round pick.

Back in July of last year, who would have speculated that Phoenix would be 2010's busiest BUYERS at the deadline? That this team was adding pieces in March is testament to the amazing job that the Coyotes coaching staff has done and to the spectacular fortitude that their core players have displayed despite all the question and controversy that surrounds the organization and their ownership issues.

Phoenix added experience for the immediate playoff run and possibly the most talented young player exchanged today in Wolski.  Bravo Don Maloney!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pittsburgh Adds Alexei Ponikarovsky

Multiple outlets including TSN are reporting that the Pittsburgh Penguins have made a deal to acquire forward Alexei Ponikarovsky, with defenseman Martin Skoula and prospect forward Luca Caputi headed to Toronto.

Pittsburgh had been rumored to pursuing both Ponikarovsky and Columbus' Raffi Torres since the Olympic break ended.

Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero had stated that his goal was to add a blueliner and a scoring line winger without giving up a roster player, top prospect or their number one selection in the next draft and he has accomplished his goal adding Jordan Leopold and "Poni" for a second rounder, a mid-tier prospect and their seventh/eighth defenseman.

It would seem that Ponikarovsky would be a natural fit on Evgeni Malkin's wing.  If so, he represents a significant upgrade in size and skill over the likes of Dupuis or Talbot.

Luca Caputi has been somewhat of a surprise prospect for Pittsburgh. A fourth round pick in 2007, Caputi showed promise in Pittsburgh's training camps and their affiliate in Wilkes Barre- Scranton.  Martin Skoula was a "throw in" for salary reasons.

Shero has managed to pull a deadline deal each year he has been GM in Pittsburgh.  The last two seasons' acquisitions (Hossa/Dupuis in '08, Kunitz/Guerin in '09) have propelled the Penguins in to Stanley Cup runs.  Will this be another?

Andy Sutton To Ottawa

Per Bob McKenzie's twitter:

The Islanders have traded defenseman "Andy Sutton to Ottawa for a second round pick that previously belonged to the San Jose Sharks".

Ottawa has been looking to bolster their blueline and Sutton drew quite a bit of interest from other teams. Everyone seems to be swapping 2nd rounders.  By the time the draft rolls around their will be about four teams that own all the round two selections!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Break Over. Trading Begins: Leopold To Pittsburgh

George Richards of the Miami Herald reports on his blog "On Frozen Pond", that the Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins have swung a deal "sending pending UFA d-man Jordan Leopold to the Penguins for a second round pick in the upcoming draft."

It's the first of many deals to come today to be sure.