Tag Archives: daniel sedin

Thank God Hockey’s Back (NHL Preview)

It's been an offseason to forget in the NHL

If you thought the NBA offseason has been hell then you don’t have the slightest idea about rough. The NHL’s offseason has been a public relations nightmare. The summer was supposed to be about the celebration of the Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup after 40 years of futility. Instead every other day there was a tragedy on the ice.

Rick Rypien, Wade Belak and the KHL Lokomotiv franchise’s plane crash that killed all passengers aboard including former NHL-ers Ruslan Salei, Pavol Demitra and Brad McCrimmon to name a few cast a shadow of the sport and brought sadness to everyone over the sport.

Add that to the fact that Rangers bruiser Derek Boogaard died towards the end of last season and you understand the somber mood that the NHL might seem to be in.

When looking at ESPN fashion guru Paul Lukas’s annual uniform design review there were less designs for jerseys and more decals and patches for fallen players. It’s like the NHL has become a graveyard instead the coolest game on earth.

If any sport needs to start their season and get back to the brilliant play on the playing surface it’s this league. Ever since the lockout 0f 2004-05 the NHL has been on a roll. The talent on the ice is the highest that it’s been since the mid to late 90’s with the emergence of the Paul Kariya’s, Keith Tkachuk’s and Mike Modano’s of the world.

The NHL has so many great players playing at a high level that it’s becoming hard to keep up with all of them. At first it was the hype of Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Dion Phaneuf. Then came Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Patrick Kane and Ryan Kesler. Now we have kids like Ryan Nugent- Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Tyler Myers and others who are crowding the ice and making noise.

The Bruins are ready to repeat.

It’s not like the NBA in terms of star power but it’s a beautiful thing to watch when the games are flowing. There are great players on every team in the league and most are under the age of 27.  Every night in every city there is a reason to watch a game just to catch one of these young studs whether it’s Drew Doughty in Los Angeles or Jeff Skinner in Carolina. Even with the sports brightest star status still in doubt (Sidney Crosby is still having post-concussion issues) the league is as strong as it’s ever been and is staring one of its most competitive season in decades in the face.

This year there is no real clear cut favorite. Gone are the days of Detroit being the front runner in the league every year, nowadays they’re not even the favorites in their own division. There are 10 to 14 teams that have a realistic chance at winning the Stanley Cup this year whether it is because of their goaltending, offensive prowess or just the fact they have all of the right pieces in place to make a run at the cup.

The right pieces meaning the right balance of youth and experience. In the modern NHL the young teams win championships as seen with the Penguins, Blackhawks and Bruins in the last three years. Yes I know Tim Thomas is old as dirt and Zdeno Chara is no spring chicken, but the work put in by guys like Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand helped this team win the Stanley Cup last year. Unlike in other sports where the older teams win the titles the young ones take the crown in the NHL.

So who has the best shot at winning the crown this year? Well in order…

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Now I know what you’re thinking… who the hell will score goals for them? Their leader in goals had 23 and their points leader scored 50. The Predators are the NHL version of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2000’s, they can’t score to save their lives, but no one can score on them. The backline led by Shea Weber along with Vezina finalist Pekka RInne were in the top 5 in goals allowed per game and the teams tough defensive play gave teams fits. If they get two goals a game they could win another 44 games and find themselves fighting for the crown.

BUFFALO SABRES

They can score in bunches thanks to Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford. Tyler Myers heads a steady backline and Ryan Miller is one the game’s best goalies. They failed to take care of the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs last year but if Miller stays on top of his game they can go very far.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Team Teemu and the Ducks have a shot at the crown.

 

Once upon a time the Habs had more titles than the New York Yankees after raising their 24th Cup in 1993. Ever since they’ve been one big roller coaster, which has included numerous changes in net and on the bench and they haven’t had a real identity for a long time. Now they seem settled on Carey Price who came through big for them last year shaking off an up and down 2009-20 season that had him on the bench in the playoffs. This team isn’t too loaded with playmakers but it gets the job done with guys like Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri as well as dark horse Norris candidate P.K. Subban patrolling the blue line. They can make a run as long as they can hold onto a lead unlike how they did last year against the Bruins.

SAN JOSE SHARKS

I don’t care what they do in the regular season anymore. I don’t care if they win the Pacific division, if Joe Thornton scores 200 points and Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture score 90 goals. This team should’ve won a Cup by now and their time is running out. If they don’t get it done this year then they never will.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Is Ilya Bryzgalov finally the answer in net for the Flyers? He better be. The Flyers let go of fan favorites and team leaders Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to clear space for Bryzgalov. Sure they acquired L.A. Kings power forward Wayne Simmonds (who Flyer fans will love) and Brandon Schenn  (who from preseason reports looks like a beast) but you don’t replace Richards toughness and Carter’s skill overnight. I’m still not a fan of either trade but if the Flyers get back to the finals then it proves that maybe I really don’t know anything about hockey.

LOS ANGELES KINGS

I probably jumped the gun last year in making them Stanley Cup favorites, but they are close. Acquiring Richards from the Flyers gives them a much needed veteran presence in the locker room and they have Doughty, Jack Johnson and Anze Kopitar flying around and making things happen. The only question is will Jonathan Quick be their full time net minder or will it be Jonathan Bernier?

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Without Crosby the Pens had 98 points last year and took the 4th spot in the East (without Malkin also) so once Crosby comes back how do you think this team will fare?

(This Crosby injury by the way is really bad in both a game play and P.R. sense for the NHL. The league needs Crosby on the ice because he is the NHL. Crosby is the league’s most recognizable face and its best player. The league needs him on the ice as much as it needs Ovechkin. When Crosby is on the ice the game changes. He is the best passer and best scorer in the league and can change a game at the drop of a hat. If the Pens had him healthy in the playoffs they may have hoisted their second cup in three years. Once healthy the Pens once again become the league’s scariest team and might be the best team in the league… once he comes back.

His injury is the reason why Brendan Shanahan has been so harsh when it comes to physical play. This isn’t like the NFL where Roger Goodell is turning the game into flag

40 and still going strong.

football, the suspensions that “Shanaban” is handing out are necessary in order to change the culture of the game and protect the players. After the injuries to Crosby as well as Nathan Horton and Marc Savard it has become clear that the league needs to crack down on these types of hits. Hopefully it discourages this type of play and quick. Because if Steven Stamkos gets a Crosby type of injury then the game will really be in trouble.)

DETROIT RED WINGS

I mean when are they not a player for the Cup?

Also let’s pay homage to Nicklas Lidstrom. This is probably his last season in the league and it looks like he can play another five. At age 40 Lidstrom is still better than most of the defensemen in the league and is probably the front runner for his 8th Norris trophy. What he did in replacing the irreplaceable Steve Yzerman as captain in Detroit and leading them to another title in addition to all that he’s done in his career has to put him in the top 10 players all-time right?

NEW YORK RANGERS

I probably just jinxed my team putting them in the top 7 and I’m probably overvaluing the acquisition of Brad Richards (which will help immensely) but after watching this team play together for two years I think that they will contend for a title this year. The Rangers youth movement has been a huge success with Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal and Brandon Dubinsky leading the way. The Rangers are a tough team that is defense driven but can score goals when needed. They just needed more consistent scoring and a veteran to get them over the hump. Enter Richards. Richards was a member of John Tortorella’s 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning championship team and is one of the game’s best scorers. His presence will help Marian Gaborik get back to scoring a ton of goals, should push Cally and Dubz to the 30 goal mark and should keep the Rangers ship steady in those late months. I’m saying they’ll win it all, but they will be a serious contender.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Hey Bruce Boudreau, you don’t get it done this year then you may want to update your resume.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

The thought of Daniel Sedin taking four shots to the face and Roberto Luongo falling flat on his face in key situations is still fresh. If they didn’t get tougher this offseason then they’ll be done in a hurry.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

The trades after the title killed their chemistry for the first half of last year. Once they got it going they looked like a machine. The key is Corey Crawford in net. We know Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp will score, but the reason they were able to turn things around was because of Crawford’s play in net. He is primed for a breakout year and the Blackhawks are looking at a return to the Cup.

BOSTON BRUINS

With Richards the Rangers can contend.

 

Okay, your city won its 7th title in all four major sports in 10 years… now go away. That wasn’t really analysis more like I’m sick of Boston and its championship reign.

ANAHEIM DUCKS

No one, and I mean no one will stop them from scoring goals especially of Ryan Getzlaf stays healthy all season long. The Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan line is the scariest line that the NHL has seen in a while. They can all go for 50 goals and 100 points and they make it easy. It helps when your 40 year-old second line winger can still get you 30 goals and 80 points to help back you up. I don’t know what fountain of youth Teemu Selanne has been drinking from but he needs to share it with others. However it always comes back to goaltending and Jonas Hiller decides whether I’m right about this team making the Cup finals or not. With him in net last year they would’ve won the pacific division. In that period in between before Ray Emery almost saved them the Ducks could’ve scored 10 goals a game and it wouldn’t have mattered because they still would’ve lost. Hiller’s health means so much to this team because they have no real second option behind him. It also doesn’t help that he is one of the top 6 goalies in the league. This team’s title hopes hinge on him, if he’s healthy then put them down for a June reservation. If not, then it’s another first round exit.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Yep, I just picked the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup. They have a 41 year-old goalie, I don’t know if their defense can stop the puck from going in the net and Vinny LeCavalier is still possible trade bait… and I don’t care. This team could’ve made the Stanley Cup Finals last year if not for a road game 7. This year I think Stamkos and company won’t fade late in the season like they did last year, which ultimately cost them home ice. They are settled in net and Roloson is a big game goalie who knows how to win also they can score with the best of them. Steve Yzerman put this team together in his image and if that’s the case then I have no doubts that they will be tough enough to get to and win the Stanley Cup.

The first puck is set to drop in a few hours and I’m more than excited. After a long offseason with so much tragedy and heartbreak it will be a welcome relief to see some of the best players in the world on the ice and making magic happen.

The league deserves some good news and good times after a few months of so many bad ones.

ATLANTIC- RANGERS

Stamkos is ready for a run at Lord Stanley.

NORTHEAST- BRUINS

SOUTHEAST- LIGHTNING

EC PLAYOFFS- CAPS, HABS, SABRES, FLYERS, PENS

ECF-  LIGHTNING- BRUINS

CENTRAL- BLACKHAWKS

NORTHWEST- CANUCKS

PACIFIC- DUCKS

WC PLAYOFFS- SHARKS, KINGS, PREDATORS, RED WINGS, BLUES

WCF- DUCKS- BLACKHAWKS

SCF- DUCKS- LIGHTNING

HART TROPHY- STEVEN STAMKOS

VEZINA- HENRIK LUNDQUIST

NORRIS- NICKLAS LIDSTROM

CALDER- RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS

SELKE- JONATHAN TOEWS

JACK ADAMS- JOHN TORTORELLA


The Return Of Random Thoughts

Wait a minute... we're still over .500? High five!

You know what we haven’t done in a while? A random thoughts blog.

Just things I’ve thought about that maybe you have as well in the last few weeks of watching sports.

With so much going on as far as sports since March Madness I think it’s time to do some rehashing.

So without further ado… HERE WE GO!

Is Zach Greinke really worth it? I mean he is 7-3 but he’s got a 5.66 ERA.

Anybody else think Kenny Williams is lying about the Adam Dunn deal?

Josh Harrelson a year ago was buried on the bench at Kentucky with Enes Kanter coming in. A year later he was a key component in the Wildcats Final Four run and will get minutes off of the bench for the Knicks. Life.

Hopefully the Sedin Twins take boxing lessons this summer.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, please gain 20 pounds.

Even though she is six foot five how many of us would hit on Jan Vesely’s girlfriend?

Federer couldn’t beat Nadal, Nadal can’t beat Djokovic… So who’s he going to have a problem with?

Why is it that Joe Girardi is the only person who thinks Derek Jeter should lead off?

David Ortiz couldn’t hit anything for the last two years now all of a sudden he’s hitting .301 with 17 home runs and 49 RBI… hmmmm….

Lebron James dunking on a kid doesn’t help his image.

(honestly at this point LeBron could cure cancer and we’d still hate him. And yes I’m serious about that statement.)

Mario Chalmers is now my new least favorite athlete in the world.

Did any team in the NBA Draft really help itself?

Sabine Lisicki also plays tennis. We'll talk about that later.

Nicklas Lidstrom came back for his 20th season. Can we engrave his name on the Norris Trophy in 2012 already?

Lets face it, Dany Heatley will never be “the guy.”

Neither will Andy Murray.

Anybody else happy that Brian Cashman corrected Alex Rodriguez by saying that Robinson Cano is better that Jose Reyes?

Can I call Austin Rivers “Baby Doc?”

Did Jose Bautista really just score the most votes in All-Star voting history?

How awesome was it that Virginia won the lacrosse title?

(think about this for a second. In the last two years lacrosse’s two most controversial teams fought back from media hell to win a title. Last years Duke team won after three years of dealing with the ugly aftermath of a stripper rape allegation and this year Virginia won after one of it’s own murdered women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love.

The image of the Cavs men’s team was brutally tarnished and the turmoil around both mens and women’s teams was enough make anyone not want to put on pads and a helmet and sprint out onto the field again. However, Virginia fought through it’s adversity and came out a winner. Their win over Maryland in the Memorial Day title game cast a fantastic light on the team an buried whatever demons were left from the 2011 season.

Very commendable indeed.)

Are the Pirates really a game and a half out of first place?

Who the hell is Mike Morse?

Brian Wilson needs to shave that beard… Now!

Is Jim Riggleman; a, a gangster, b, salty or c, out of his bleeping mind?

Iman Shumpert… And yes I’m still stuck on that pick.

How funny would it be if the Winnipeg Jets won the southeast division this year?

(Winnipeg is six hours north of Minneapolis.)

It’s July… NFL step on it.

(I’m serious. The New York Giants tick me off, Eli Manning makes bad throws, I’ll see 85 Coughlin faces and understand each of them… AND IF I MISS ONE FREAKING GAME I WILL HUNT ROGER GOODELL AND DEMAURICE SMITH DOWN!!!)

By the way, if the MLB locks out in November then there is a real possibility that Hockey may be the only game in town come 2012….

New theory behind the Flyers trades; maybe Paul Holmgren used Jeff Carter and Mike Richards just to get the Winter Classic in Philly and then dumped them afterwards… Nope, trade still makes no sense.

I know Brett Favre is retired, but I’m still uncertain.

Quick, 3 things about Luke Picknell. Ready and… GO!

Is Maryland football a better job than Connecticut football? Randy Edsall are you listening?

Seattle Sounders FC draws more fans than the Mariners…

Anybody else think Cam Newton will bomb?

I still have no caption for this.

No seriously are the Pirates really only a game and a half out of first place?

(why is this not a huge story? The Pirates haven’t had a winning season in almost 20 years. That’s back to the Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla days.

Ever since then they have traded every and I mean every good player that they’ve had and have been in a never ending rebuild mode. Now here there are with Andrew McCutcheon as a dark horse MVP candidate, an All-Star in Joel Hanrahan and the Brewers, Reds and Cards all looking back in disbelief.

If they make the playoffs they are the story if the year hands down.)

Sabine Lisicki… Mmmmmm.

Will Tiger Woods fade into oblivion?

Even though Roger Federer has “lost it” he’s still the third best tennis player in the world.

And lastly… Dirk, a $90,000 bottle of champagne and pictures with Birdman and Lil’ Wayne… In LeBron and D-Wade’s backyard.

Cough on that Miami.


Game 7 Messages For The Bruins And Canucks

It ends tonight.

To Patrice Bergeron, win your faceoffs and keep the playoffs number one penalty kill on track.

To Zdeno Chara, use that big body to clear the front of the net so Tim Thomas can see thins clearly.

To Sami Salo, knock a few wings on their tail and keep the puck from going in too deep.

To Alex Burrows, agitate, aggravate, accelerate and get some Bruins fuming.

To Milan Lucic, we call you a mini Cam Neely; tonight you can prove it by taking over the game with your physicality and scoring a few goals.

To Brad Marchand, you have a napoleon complex; we know this, stay in third gear all game long and don’t let up.

To Ryan Kesler, get physical, cause some ruckus and be a leader.

To Daniel Sedin, score a goal, please, you’re overdue.

To Tyler Seguin, you’re not a rookie anymore, play like it.

To Andy McQuaid, be Chara’s right hand man get dirty and stop the Canucks from doing what they do.

To Henrik Sedin, thanks for waking up in game 6 and scoring a goal finally. The Canucks need more than that out of you tonight. If you are one of the top 5 players in the league then tonight is the perfect stage to show just why that is. Take over with your precise passing, set up Kesler and your brother and the other Canucks with chances to score goals. Show us why you were last season’s MVP.

Dont change a thing tonight TImmy.

To Kevin Bieksa, you’re the number one defenseman on your team; your unit has been up and down throughout this series. Make sure it doesn’t happen tonight.

To Cory Schneider, be ready just in case.

To Tomas Kaberle, the Bruins brought you here so you can boost the power play from the point and provide an offensive spark from the defense. You need to do that tonight.

To Dennis Seidenberg, keep harassing, keep hitting, keep the puck in front of you and keep the Sedins from getting behind you.

To Alain Vineault, remember when Montreal fired for your lack of success and didn’t think you were the type of coach to lead a team to the finals? Prove them wrong forever tonight.

To Claude Julien, remember how Lou Lamarillo fired you before the playoffs in 2006 and it probably cost you and the Devils a Cup? Remember that tonight when you make your decisions and think about winning the cup and flashing a finger at the trigger happy GM in New Jersey.

To Roberto Luongo, shut up and play. You trashed Tim Thomas then you got trashed. You’re the man at home but away from Rogers Arena you’re a joke. That doesn’t matter tonight however. This is your domain, you r house, defend it. Play like you’re playing in the goal medal game again. Stand on your head, let your game do your talking for you and when, if, you get down don’t get that lost look in your eyes and run to the bench. Man up and lead your team to victory. You used to be the captain of this team, those leadership skills would come in handy right now.

To Tim Thomas… just keep doing it how you’ve been doing it. That’s all.

Tonight is game 7; there are no more games this season once the last horn sounds. Leave everything on the ice, go hard and catch your breath when it’s over.

The cup is within your grasp, play like you want it.


It’s Time For Vancouver To Man Up

For Vancouver, that has got to stop...

Vancouver… WHAT IN THE BLOODY HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?!?! THIS IS HOCKEY!!!!!

This isn’t basketball with its insistence on not allowing physicality of any type to occur, this isn’t soccer where you can flop around like a fish after taking a hit, this isn’t even football where you can’t breathe on the quarterback too much or you’ll get a flag.

Hockey has made it clear that it likes the physicality of its sport. It won’t get rid of fighting, coaches still defend players for hits to the head, if you want to rough someone up fine, go ahead.

However, for some reason you all have no want to get physical, in games 3 & 4 in Boston the Bruins punked you simple and plain. Zdeno Chara pushed your guys around, Brad Marchand was a wrecking ball stirring the pot and daring you to get in his face, Tim Thomas knocked down your best offensive player Henrik Sedin and knocked down your number one agitator Alex Burrows, and he’s the goaltender… THE GOALTENDER!!!

The last two games were absolutely disgraceful. Once Aaron Rome knocked out Nathan Horton it was as if you became as conservative as Sarah Palin. Game 3 was a total sleepwalk of an effort where Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi waved fingers in your face daring you to bite them (I don’t care how Claude Julien felt about that, that was one of the best moments in the NHL and NBA playoffs. Period.). The Bruins poured all of their hate from the first two games into game 3 and pushed you all over the ice.

...For Roberto Luongo so does that.

Cool. Fine. Whatever. It was only one game, come back, man up and take it to the Bruins in game 4 is what the mentality should’ve been. Instead the mockery grew Wednesday night.

Boston continued their assault on the Canucks and especially Roberto Luongo (we’ll get to him in a moment). When Marchand started pinballing Canucks all over the ice and Rich Peverly kept skating freely into their defensive zone I began thinking, “what I wouldn’t give for Scott Stevens to lay one of these guys out right now.”

Stevens or any old school defenseman would’ve laid Peverly or any other Bruin out just to get his guys going. Vancouver doesn’t have any one like that because the makeup of their team doesn’t call for it. It has been curse than gift in this series. Every time I watch the Sedin Twins get pushed around and skate away I get mad. Christianity teaches you to turn the other cheek… but this is hockey. You’re allowed to smack a guy around. As much as I respect the Sedin Twins they are way too soft for their own good, especially captain Henrik.

I question his skills as a captain because he sees what’s going on and hasn’t led his troops in a way of combating it. Jonny Toews would’ve chewed his boys out in the locker room and got them going, Mike Richards might’ve tried to take Looch’s head off, Alex Ovechkin would tried to hit anything that got in his way, even Nicklas Lidstrom who isn’t violent by nature would’ve gotten the Wings ears and told them to man up.

Why hasn’t Henrik been more vocal and told his teammates to step it up? Where’s his passion and fire? Both Sedins have had a horrible series and need a fire to light them up right now, but to me it looks like Henrik just isn’t interested in doing it.

Speaking of horrible series, oh Roberto Luongo…

As bad as the Sedins have looked there is not one person that would worry me more than Luongo. After the Chicago series where he suffered a few hiccups it looked like he had gotten himself back to his gold medal play especially in games 1 & 2 in this series where and Thomas were going toe-to-toe.

But man, the last two games were scary. In a four period stretch Luongo allowed 12 goals in 59 shots… that 20% of the shots he faced that went into the net. In lacrosse that’s fine, in hockey that gets you shot.

More than the need for Vancouver to get physical, Luongo has to snap out of it. He can’t have that deer in the headlights look that he’s had in the last two games.  If Luongo can’t stay in net and match the brilliance of Tim Thomas on the other end then it won’t matter how many more hits they have in the series, they’ll lose.

Tonight’s game 5 is the most important game in Vancouver’s history. If they play like games 3 & 4 then Boston will return home with a chance to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup.

The Sedins need to score, Luongo needs to stop shots, and most importantly the Vancouver Canucks have to stop getting bullied. Their hits have to be harder, they have to get in the B’s faces and get nasty. Game 5 hinges on whether or not the Canucks can stand up to the Beantown Bullies and go punch for punch. Either stand up to them or give them your milk money and run away Vancouver.

IT’S HOCKEY FOR CHRIST’S SAKE… COME OUT SWINGING!!!


The Bruins Fight Back

The Boston Bruins brought the pain last night.

The crowd was rocking, the players came out fired up, the aggression was on full display as the Boston Bruins came out in game 3 looking like a team hell bent on coming back in this series against The Vancouver Canucks…

 

Then Nathan Horton was knocked out of the game and the playoffs with a concussion thanks to a dirty hit by Aaron Rome… that’s when the Bruins went more than mad, they went ballistic.

 

The Bruins didn’t just beat The Canucks last night 8-1, they didn’t just bruise their ego, they beat Vancouver so badly and so viciously that Vancouver might doubt themselves for the rest of this series as to whether they can win it or not (and yes I know that Vancouver is up 2-1, but after what I saw last night that doesn’t matter.).

 

The Bruins dominated every single aspect of this game. They were ultra-aggressive, they got whatever shot they wanted and they got most of them off clean, they treated Vancouver as if they were rag dolls and The Canucks put up no fight.

 

About every two seconds there seemed to be another Canuck landing hard on the ice after getting nailed by Milan Lucic, Mark Recchi or Shawn Thornton, every time I looked up Alex Burrows was getting nailed by Zdeno Chara or having fingers stuck in his face by Lucic or Recchi (quite possibly the funniest taunt I have ever seen in response to Burrows infamous biting incident in game 1), there was an endless wave of Bruins heading straight for Roberto Luongo and neither he nor his defense could do a thing about it.

 

It was as swift of a beat down that I’ve seen in sports all year as Boston took it to Vancouver and never let up once.

 

It was especially telling on The Canuck power play… if you could call it that last night. Daniel Paille and Brad Marchand’s sick shorthanded goals came courtesy of a penalty kill that wasn’t concerned with clearing the puck and keeping Tim Thomas comfortable, it was more concerned with scoring and keeping Vancouver on its toes and boy did it.

 

Brad Marchand's Shorthanded goal was highlight reel material.

Speaking of Tim Thomas… how was that performance?

 

Thomas was an absolute monster in net. As badly as Vancouver was beaten they did have chances to get 3 or 4 goals past Thomas and they were robbed every single time.

 

It was the best Stanley Cup performance by a goalie since Cam Ward in 2005 for the Carolina Hurricanes. Thomas was a sliding wall that stuffed any and everything that came his way. There were about 5 saves that he made where I thought Mike Emrick was going to lose his voice because he screaming so loud they were that amazing. Thomas has had some gaffs in net this postseason that made some in Boston question if he could be consistent enough to carry this team through to a Stanley Cup Final. After three games he’s allowed only 5 goals and because of him the Bruins could easily be up 3-0 instead of down 2-1 in this series.

 

Which brings us to the Vancouver Canucks.

 

How would you feel as a Canuck fan right now?

 

You just got destroyed on the road without a fight, Luongo looked like he wanted no part of Boston after the shorthanded tally by Marchand to put them up by 3, Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin have been non-existent and Henrik Sedin hasn’t registered a shot all series… not one.

 

Yet here you are up 2-1 with a day off to lick your wounds.

 

I believe that Boston is in their heads right now and it’s going to affect Vancouver for the rest of this series. We all know Boston’s backs were against the wall and Vancouver had to be on its heels, but to come out and get bullied like that for three periods is embarrassing.

 

The Bruins are letting Alex Burrows live down his biting incident.

Burrows especially had no lift in his game. Burrows is known for his aggressive nature and ever since he bit Patrice Bergeron in game 1 you haven’t seen it. It’s almost as if Burrows and company are scared to retaliate. When Lucic and Recchi were throwing their fingers in the faces of the Canucks and daring them to bite them you just felt that Vancouver wasn’t going to take that for much longer, but they did. It got so bad that Thomas laid a check into Daniel Sedin in the third period when he was heading for the net.

 

If Vancouver wants to hold on to their lead and win their first Stanley Cup they have to man up. The physicality has to come back into their game. Some may see this game as an aberration, but anyone knows that when you sense a fear or tepidness from an opponent then you will get exposed and they will take advantage of you. Vancouver cannot let that happen. They have to get back to playing their style of hockey and land a few punches of their own.

 

What seemed like the biggest blow of the night came when Horton lay motionless on the ice thanks to a late hit by Rome. When the stretcher came out and the crowd sat silent after being as rowdy as ever in the first three minutes the Bruins could’ve packed it in.

 

Instead they channeled their desperation and their fallen teammate and laid into Vancouver with a flurry that has them back in the series and with momentum guiding them into game 4.

 

If they bring half of the intensity from game 3 then Vancouver might as well start heading back to British Columbia for game 5 now.


The Canucks And Bruins Bring It For Game 1

Raffi Torres celebrates after netting the winner for Vancouver in an incredible game 1.

Now that’s the way to start a Championship series. If you wondered just how much the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins wanted the Stanley Cup then last night’s super competitive game 1 provided one hell of an answer.

 

Both teams and cities are absolutely starving for a cup. Last night’s classic was a match of physicality, defense and a showcase of goaltending as Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo turned in legendary performances.

 

At every turn Thomas and Luongo stonewalled every attempt from Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Mark Recchi, Nathan Horton, Ryan Kesler and any other player that was knocking on opportunities door and were turned away. It’s not really like they had a choice to deal with so many chances early on however. In the first two periods there were 12 power plays and two five on threes, which had each goaltender on their toes from the get go.

 

They can thank some over aggression for that.

 

For all of the clean hitting and great play along the boards there was a lot of extra-curricular activities and Alex Burrows and Patrice Bergeron were knee deep in it at the end of the first period and it carried over into the second as well. Those penalties as well as some others including poor high stick minors against Daniel Sedin and Chris Kelly put both goaltenders at a disadvantage early. Fortunately for each side Thomas and Luongo were on top of their game and their defensive lines helped out to keep the game scoreless.

 

Once the game carried into the period it turned into a free-flowing match of skill and the rough stuff faded away as game took control of itself. The third period was filled with uninterrupted action, scoring chances and great saves. You couldn’t look away from the tube or you’d feel like you were going to miss something important even though the score was still 0-0. You were proven right when Thomas stopped Jannik Hansen’s breakaway and kept the puck over the goal line as he was sliding into the net and his momentum almost carried the puck in.

 

(Side note: with five minutes to go I was hoping for overtime. This was on of those playoff games that you didn’t want to see end before it should’ve. This was worthy of another 20 or 40 minutes and it would’ve added to how absolutely amazing the game was and how it kept you on the edge of your seat for all two and a half hours that it was on the air.)

Tim Thomas was excellent in net frustrating Daniel Sedin and the Canucks all night.

 

With less than 30 seconds left after a missed opportunity by David Krejci the Vancouver defense cleared the puck all the way to the opposing blue line when Kesler made a great play to dodge Zdeno Chara, play the puck off of the boards, stay on side (or not depending on you view) throw it across to Hansen who then found a streaking Raffi Torres who tipped the puck past Thomas for the only goal of the game.

 

It was heartbreaking for Boston, but Thomas had no chance to stop it. It was just a great play by Kesler and it caught the Boston defense by surprise.

 

1-0 Vancouver, both the game and the series.

How should Boston feel after game 1? Their power play looked great, the penalty kill was phenomenal and they kept the two hottest lines on the planet scoreless… and still lost.

 

There are no such things as moral victories but Claude Julien has something to build on. The Bruins out played the Canucks by far and should’ve won the game if anyone could’ve gotten the puck by Luongo. If this is the way that the series is going to go then Boston should be able to win it provided if there offense can get some added pressure around the net and rattle the Vancouver defense.

 

For Vancouver you have to say that they got lucky in this one. Their offense had chances early on in the first two minutes and could’ve put Boston to sleep early on but they couldn’t capitalize. The Sedin Twins have to have a better game two and their offense needs to match their defensive intensity throughout the rest of the series if the Canucks want to raise the Stanley Cup.

 

One thing that I hope doesn’t change is the stellar goaltending of game 1. Thomas and Luongo looked like MVP’s after the first 60 minutes of the series and were certainly game 1’s number 1 stars. I don’t care how many goals aren’t scored in this series, as long as they play like this then it wont matter because each game will be entertaining as hell.

 

We have to wait until Saturday night for game 2 to commence. It’s a weird two-day layoff that should give each team time to heal after a rough first game, and the Bruins time to stew over the late goal, and Burrows biting incident.

 

If game 1 is a preview of how this series will play out then there’s no question that we have a classic on our hands. One city that hasn’t raised the cup in 40 years and another that hasn’t raised it at all. Both teams playing like it and not giving an inch. You don’t want to miss any of this.


Sharks Need To Match Eager

Ben Eager's antics were part of the reason the Sharks lost last night. But his ferocity needs to matched by his teammates.

Ben Eager was a maniac last night. He ran Daniel Sedin head first into the boards, he took more bad penalties than I can count on one hand, his yelled at the Vancouver Canucks bench, scored a goal and cursed out Roberto Luongo (by the way the Sharks were down 7-2 at that point) and start a brawl at the end of the game.

Overall Eager tallied 5 minor penalties, a game misconduct, did more harm than good for his team and for the most part looked like an idiot doing it…

And the rest of the San Jose Sharks need to get mean and angry like Eager if they want to come close to winning this series.

True, I didn’t like Eager’s antics one bit, however at least he showed some sort of caring on the ice last night while the rest of his teammates let the Canucks tap dance on their heads without any recourse. After a dead even first period Vancouver mauled San Jose over the last two periods.

The Canucks out shot them 25-18 outscored them 5-0 and forced six penalties that led to two power play goals and kept the Sharks on their heels for the rest of the night. What was worse was how the Sharks defense played. They were routinely out of position and the let Canuck forwards do whatever they wanted.

On Daniel Sedin’s goal that made it 5-2, he, brother Henrik and Alex Edler basically skated untouched in a 3-man weave behind the net while the Sharks defenders stood there and watched until Daniel Sedin knocked home a rebound from Henrik. The last two goals were virtual untested one-timers where Aaron Rome and Mason Raymond got open and had clear shots while San Jose’s defense was either shielding Antti Niemi or four feet away from the puck. It was embarrassing.

Antti Niemi would love some help right now.

In essence the Sharks are playing right into Vancouver’s hands with their style of play. The Canucks are a finesse team that relies on their forwards to handle the bulk of the work and always push the puck. The Sharks are the way except I think that it’s safe to say that Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Logan Couture are not the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler.

What the Sharks have to do is get physical. They have to disrupt the Canucks offensive flow and knock around their top two lines. Ryan Clowe and Eager have to bruise these guys up if the Sharks want to advance to the Cup finals. As good as their offense is they cannot keep up with the Canucks and have to slow them down. That also means Dan Boyle, Ian White and company have to play better in front of Antti Niemi and keep pucks from going by them.

If not then the Sharks will be going home in four again just like last year.

(Not that it would surprise me at all. I told you that I never have and never will trust the Sharks in the playoffs until they actual win in a convincing and emphatic manner in the way that this team is built. It makes no sense that a team with this much offense, a good defense and good goaltending gets killed in the playoffs year after year.

Is it Todd McClellan? Do they need different pieces? Maybe they need to get tougher, add more physical pieces, more mentally tough players… something, anything, because I think I speak for most of the hockey fans in Northern California that this is starting to get old and something has to change and change quickly.)

Even though I think Ben Eager’s antics last night went beyond the antics of the average NHL goon, I think that the San Jose Sharks need to channel some of that anger and get tough to find a way back into this series. The Sharks are facing another disappointing ending to their season and with the way things are going it will end very soon.

Maybe that’s why Eager was so volatile, he sees it coming and wants to stop it at all costs.