Apr 292013

The most exciting part of the year is here. The season was abridged, but the playoffs won’t be. Two full months of playoff hockey. Glorious.

So many story lines, so many things to go over. Can the Isles make the Pens sweat a little? How healthy will the Blues or Kings be after their series? Can the Red Wings pull off an upset over the second-ranked Ducks? Is this the Canucks’ last chance? Can a re-vitalized Ovechkin get the Caps over the hump?

Without further ado, here’s the quick and dirty for all eight playoff match-ups in the the 2013 NHL Playoffs.

1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. 8 Minnesota Wild

The Blackhawks were probably hoping for Columbus because no team wants to deal with Zach Parise in the playoffs. Parise had eight goals to lead the Devils last year and it was pretty clear Parise was the Devils’ MVP.

Despite the addition of Parise, who scored 18 goals this year, Minnesota has been starving on offense all season. Dany Heatley’s out for the season after getting shoulder surgery, Jason Pominville is questionable for game one, meaning their best goal scorer right now is Devin Setoguchi. Ohhh, scary.

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Apr 072013

1) Obviously this was a big week for trades in the NHL. But I was still surprised at how little was made of the Jay Bouwmeester move. St. Louis acquired the minute munching defenceman for a conditional 1st round pick (if the Blues miss the playoffs it becomes a 4th round pick this year and a 1st round pick next year) and two middling prospects. Bouwmeester has taken a lot of heat for his play in Calgary, but to be fair most of that is directed at his monstrous cap hit. On any team in the league he has the skill set to be a solid top pairing defenceman and should help secure a playoff birth for the Blues. In my mind, this was the most underrated pick up of the week.  Continue reading »

Feb 102013

1) This was not a good week for the Canadiens. They posted a 1-2-1 record, giving up the cushion they had gained over some of the other playoff contenders in the East. To cap it all off, the Canadiens got embarrassed on national television Saturday by their arch rivals, the Maple Leafs. They were abused physically and on the score sheet. If they follow up this week in similar fashion the Canadiens will quickly be looking in from outside the top 8.  Continue reading »

Sep 172012

When some of the league’s most prolific and well-respected stars speak out, you listen.

Teemu Selanne is a part-time blogger, now that there’s no hockey, and criticizes Gary Bettman for the lockout. The post is in Finnish, but there’s always Google Translate for that.

Joe Morrow, a highly regarded prospect for the Penguins, also lashed out on Twitter, saying Bettman should be the “commissioner of a different sport like knitting.” The post has since been deleted with Morrow defending himself by saying that the tweet was from a fan’s perspective, not a pro hockey player’s.

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Sep 112012

1.) Boston Bruins: The Bruins are big, mean, and talented throughout their roster. They boast incredible depth at both forward and defence, able to go toe to toe with any team in the league. Despite the departure of Tim Thomas, the Bruins should be fine in net. Former Maple Leaf Tuuka Rask has shown in the past that he can handle the #1 job. Expect the Bruins to battle for top spot in the east all season long.

2.) New York Rangers: With the addition of Rick Nash to last season’s Eastern Conference finalist core, the Rangers are primed for success in 2012-13. Anchored by the unflappable Henrik Lunqvist, the Rangers will ice a solid d-core and a trio of game breakers up front. Few teams can match the overall depth of the Bruins, but the Rangers are definitely one of them. Continue reading »

Sep 032012

1.) Vancouver Canucks: The biggest problem the Canucks have heading into the 2012-13 season is that they have two of the top goalies in the world under contract. The back-to-back defending President Trophy winners shored up their d-core with the addition of Jason Garrison and should see youngster Chris Tanev patrolling the back end on a nightly basis. Ryan Kesler’s injury is worrisome, but his early season absence is mitigated by the overall weakness of the Northwest division.

2.) Los Angeles Kings: The Kings emerged as a powerhouse team during the 2011-12 post season. And with almost the entire Stanley Cup winning roster returning for the 2012-13 season, there is every reason to believe the Kings will finish atop their division. It will be interesting to see whether the Kings can maintain the torrid offensive output which saw them cruise to the cup last spring, but with Jonathan Quick between the pipes the Kings will have an opportunity to win each and every game. Continue reading »

Jul 052012

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, Minnesota, $98 million for 13 years each

What a haul. It was always assumed that there was a chance the two would wind up signing with the same team, but if that ever happened it meant that the two were looking for a Cup, and hence would’ve signed with a more competitive team like the Penguins.

If anyone thinks the Wild won’t challenge the Canucks for the division title, they might want to take a look at the Wild’s roster again. They’re at least the clear-cut No. 2 team in the division. The only real weakness on the Wild roster is on defense, where the team’s biggest minute muncher is the mistake-prone Tom Gilbert. The rest of the defense is young and will need at least a couple of seasons to mature. If anything, the Wild are now a playoff team (with Nashville quickly falling out of the picture).

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Jul 022012

Interesting day. Not really surprising the big fish decided not to sign today. It’s a big decision for both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, since wherever they sign they will call home for the rest of their lives. I think Detroit needs Parise more than Suter, with an aging forwards group that needs to be addressed, even though Nicklas Lidstrom did just retire. I think the Pens need Ryan Suter more, especially after trading Zbynek Michalek back to Pittsburgh and having Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby is already an embarrassment of goal-scoring riches.

Don’t expect many of the other significant names like Matt Carle to sign just yet. I think everyone’s waiting on Parise, and once he decides then trade talks for Bobby Ryan or Rick Nash might speed up. There’s some talk that Parise and Suter could land on the same team, and if that’s the case I’m leaning towards Detroit rather than Pittsburgh. Unfortunately I think the Wild strikes out with both.

Also regarding Suter, he’s not a franchise defenseman, but he’s going to be paid like one. He’s never really played on a bad team and I think Shea Weber is the superior defenseman. Thinking a $9 million cap hit for Suter is okay because the salary cap has grown to $70.2 million (which means the highest possible cap hit is a little over $14 million) is not a good argument. You want to keep those numbers manageable, even if this means front-loading the first couple of years of the contract with the max salary (already suggested) and then adding on a few bogus years at the end to lower the cap hit to something around $7-8 million. We’re probably going to see something like that, at a length of no shorter than ten years.

But I would be pretty disappointed if Parise ends up joining Crosby and Malkin in Pittsburgh for a Miami Heat-type super team. I’m just not a fan of that, although a Malkin-James Neal, Crosby-Parise 1-2 scoring punch could net around 150 goals alone. That’d be fun to watch.

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Jul 012012

You know all about Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. There’s a lot of intrigue, since this is the first free agency in recent memory in which a potential franchise player is available. The two biggest teams are Detroit and Pittsburgh. The Red Wings because it’s close to Suter’s home state of Wisconsin and Parise’s home state of Minnesota and a standout model franchise, and the Penguins because they have a chance to establish a dynasty. Whoever lands either, or maybe even both, automatically becomes a Cup contender once again.

But they’re not the only ones. Which players are contingency plans? What does Pittsburgh do with its cap space if they strike out on both Suter and Parise? How does Detroit expect to re-tool? Here’s a look at other free agents.

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Jun 112012

Is there any reason not to believe that this series won’t go seven games now? Yes, the predictable media narrative is that the Kings have lost the momentum, the Devils have found a crack in the armour and all of a sudden, Jonathan Quick looks oh-so-beatable right now.

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