Archive for April, 2011

As the NHL season comes to a close, we are going to vote on the NHL Awards, and four of us will pick one candidate each to “campaign” for. At the bottom, you will see balloting and the final results.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins by Joey

Throughout October and November, Marc-Andre Fleury was Public Enemy Number 1 to the local fans and a butt to jokes at the water cooler around NHL fans at work. Then one crisp November evening, Fleury won a game, it was a shutout, it was at home and he had the fans backing him once again. Since that point Fleury was himself again. But what makes him Hart worthy is his play after the Penguins lost Crosby and Malkin after the turn of the New Year. While statistically, Fleury may not be a standout choice, this award is for the player deemed most indispensible to his team. As solid of a defensive pairing as the free agent tandem of Zybnek Michalek and Paul Martin were in junction with the coaching of Dan Bylsma to keep the Penguins ship pointed in the right direction, this season collapses to potentially out of the playoffs without Marc-Andre Fleury’s play. It’s only proper to go beyond numbers, and recognize the true MVP this season.

Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks by Realdeal

Perry emerged in 2010-11 as a superstar.  The Ducks forward was the only NHLer to notch 50 goals this season, securing the Rocket Richard trophy for most goals.  But his play down the stretch where he carried the Ducks from 11th to 4th propelled him into the Hart debate.  Perry scored 19 goals in his final 14 games, helping his team to a 10-4 record during that time.  He tied for first in game winning goals with 11, and tied for first with 18 special teams goals (14 PPG, 4 SHG; tied for 5th in both individual categories).  Despite his borderline play (104 PIM), Perry is the choice this year.

Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks by Gabbi

The real league MVP is one half of the league’s most dynamic duo; Daniel Sedin of Sedin Twins & Co. This season, Daniel lead the league in points (104), was fourth in goals, and third in assists (his brother Henrik had the most assists). His 18 power play goals were also tops in the league, and his game winners third most. The only thing Sedin was not tops in the league of was penalty minutes and shooting percentage. All in all, the top five man should be number one this year in the Hart Trophy voting.

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks by Cujo

When you vote for Hart, consider voting for Jonathan Toews, the other guys are all impressive, but they do not come close to what Toews has done for Chicago. The Blackhawks captain led his team in points (2nd in goals, assists, powerplay goals, +/-, and shots on goal), and also led the team in game winning goals. In the regular season when Chicago struggled, Toews kept going strong, when he wasn’t scoring, he was setting up goals. Especially in the month of February during a important playoff point race, he scored 3 game winning goals against conference foes Minnesota, St.Louis, and Columbus.

Final Voting (more…)

Here are our second round NHL picks.

(Sidenote: RD/Andy made an agreement to not pick the series’ our teams were involved in)

Leaderboard (1 pt for correct team, 1 bonus pt for team+games)
Realdeal 10 (7-0, 3 bonus points)
Andy 8 (7-0, 1 bonus point)
Joey 8 (6-1, 2 bonus points)
Stinger 8 (5-3, 3 bonus points)
Cujo 7 (6-2, 1 bonus point)
Bre 6 (6-1)
Nicole 6 (6-2)
Kingie 6 (5-2, 1 bonus point)
Swede 4 (4-3)
Merms 4 (4-4)
Gabbi 4 (3-4, 1 bonus point)

First Round Picks

As the NHL season comes to a close, we are going to vote on the NHL Awards, and four of us will pick one candidate each to “campaign” for. At the bottom, you will see balloting and the final results.

Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers by Gabbi

This might seem like a homer-analysis to some and that’s fine. But from a statistical standpoint, Henrik Lundqvist was left out of the running for the top goaltender in the league. Yet again. Of course, this year, Tim Thomas is an essential lock for the trophy. So why not throw Lundqvist a bone and give him a nomination? In his 6 seasons as an NHL starter, he has been nominated in his first three seasons of play, and has never won. He’s currently the only goaltender in NHL history to have 30 or more wins in his first 6 seasons of play (he held the record for 5 and shared the record of 4 with Ron Hextall). This season, he was 36-27-5 with a 2.28 Goals Against Average and a .923 Save percentage. Comparatively, his GAA was 7th best in the league, his save % 8th, Wins 8th, and lead the league in shutouts with 11. (He was also #4 in the league with shootout wins.)  King Henrik should have been recognized for his efforts in New York as their team MVP and have been given a Vezina nomination.

Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks by Joey

Though considered a bit of a long shot, Roberto Luongo should garner more of your thought, attention, and votes for the Vezina this season. Like the fine wine adage, he only gets better with age as he has set personal bests in goals against (2.11 GAA) and his best save percentage (.928) since joining Vancouver. Though there is a few standout netminders that have even better statistics, its more than simply a numbers game. As solid of defense as Vancouver has, it’s not like Luongo only faced 20 shots a night and had tea and crumpets in the goal crease most games. Quite often he more than kept his team in games providing his fair share of pavement on the Canucks road to the President’s Trophy. Don’t get fooled just by numbers. Strongly consider Roberto Luongo for the Vezina.

Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators by Realdeal

Rinne had a breakout year for Nashville, posting career highs in wins (33, 14th in the league), GAA (2.12, 3rd), Save Percentage (93.0%, 2nd).  He also posted six shutouts, good enough for sixth in the league.  On a team with a less than potent offense, Nashville relied on Rinne, and he rose to the challenge. He put the Predators on his shoulders and led them to fifth place in the West.   He faced the sixth most shots in the league (1771), more than the other two Vezina finalists. Put Rinne on a team with more offense support like his Vezina competitors and he surely increases his win total.

Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins by Cujo

Tim Thomas should get your vote and pretty much be a lock for the Vezina trophy. While the other goalies may have had great seasons, nobody could touch Tim. Setting the record for highest regular season save percentage with .938 , throw on top a league leading goals against average of 2.00 and 9 shutouts, and you have yourself prime Vezina material. Another note of interest, this was the second highest amount of saves he’s had to make in his NHL career in one season (1699, the MOST he’s faced was 1796 in 06-07).

Final Voting


As the NHL season comes to a close, we are going to vote on the NHL Awards, and four of us will pick one candidate each to “campaign” for. At the bottom, you will see balloting and the final results.

Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings by Gabbi

While there are several worthy candidates for the Norris trophy, there’s no doughty about who this year’s recipient should be. All puns aside, the top defenseman in the National Hockey League this season is Drew Doughty of the LA Kings. For a young guy playing only his third season in the NHL he’s playing as though he’s been in the league for 20 years. (While looking at his numbers I saw NHL Seasons: 3 and said, “No. There’s no way!”) Coming of a sophomore campaign where he was nominated for the Norris, he had 40 points and helped anchor the defense of the young Kings team. With that, young Drew Doughty has earned this year’s Norris trophy.

Lubomir Visnovsky, Anaheim Ducks by Realdeal

Visnovsky has to be the Norris favorite after leading all NHL Defensemen in points (62), and finishing second in goals (18).  He’s played over 24 minutes per game for the Ducks, being a rock on their blueline when the team needed it the most.  His 116 blocked shots are ahead of the likes of other Norris candidates such as Weber, Letang and Chara.  His +18 is pretty respectable and his 5 Power Play goals and 31 Power Play points are part of the reason the Ducks finished second with the man advantage.

Shea Weber, Nashville Predators by Cujo

For the Norris trophy a man you should consider is Shea Weber. He might not have as many points as some, but he has been a real workhorse for the Nashville Predators. He is averaging 25:19 in ice time and 29 shifts per game. 2nd on the team in blocks and 1st in hits, he knows what it takes to get the job done on the ice.

Keith Yandle, Phoenix Coyotes by Joey

I’m sorry say that again…Yandle is 24? Hard to believe that this year’s most consistent defenseman in all facets of the blueline game is young buck Keith Yandle of the Coyotes.  Handling top minutes and opposing teams’ best forwards night in and night out in lieu of Zybnek Michalek’s departure to Pittsburgh could easily have been a sign of tough times for Yandle this year. Except not only has he filled in admirably but he has only improved in stats and intangibles for the third consecutive season. Considering the typical development of an NHL ready defenseman, we may be looking at the next big thing on the blueline for a long long time. This is no flash in the pan; this is a Norris candidate for years to come. 

Final Voting (more…)

Today, Dick Ebersole of NBC and Gary Bettman of the NHL have a press conference scheduled for 1:00, to announce the rumored agreement of the NHL’s new TV deal. The deal is reported as $200 million per year over the next ten years. ESPN and Turner Sports had been in the running, but Turner dropped out yesterday. NBC/Versus had the right to match any ESPN offer, but the league took NBC’s deal before giving ESPN one final chance.

Pro-ESPN people bring up that the Worldwide Leader will increase the NHL’s marketability. They will also say that ESPN is in more households, therefore bringing more viewers in. More highlights on Sportscenter is also a positive. Those are good points, but where would the NHL fit in on ESPN’s busy schedule. ESPN isn’t just going to shove aside MLB/NFL/NBA to squeeze in hockey.

But, what about the potential 2011 lockouts in the NFL and NBA? That’ll open up slots, right? Sure, it would be great until the other leagues settle on new CBAs and get back to playing. Where does that leave the NHL? I’m sure this was a concern Bettman and company had while negotiating with ESPN.

However, despite those concerns, NBC/Versus has done some good for the NHL. After the lockout, and ESPN insulted the league with a very low offer, OLN took a chance and the NHL has grown exponentially. I admit, I had no idea where the Outdoor Life Network was on my cable lineup at first. But ratings have grown each year. The Winter Classic was an NBC creation, and this year’s game was the highest viewed regular season game since 1975, even beating out a college football bowl game on ESPN.

The real question is, does Versus continue as its’ cycling-cage fighting-bull riding channel, or does it change under NBC? Since the channel added the NHL (and changed it’s name and image), it’s added college football, and the National Lacrosse League as well. Could the NHL deal help Versus evolve into an ESPN-like channel, or even a threat to ESPN? The channel has shown interest in the MLS’ TV rights.

One real concern of NBC/Versus I can agree with is the lack of diversity of teams who are broadcast. More than likely, a random game will feature Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, the Rangers or Washington. That will be needed to change for two reasons. One, to expose the fans of the NHL to other teams such as the Lightning, Kings, Sharks, to name a few. Secondly, to not overexpose people to the same teams and players. If people see too many doses of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, among others, they will become disinterested. There has to be a happy balance between marketing and overmarketing.

If NBC wins the Winter Olympic bidding in 2014, one would assume the league would agree to send its’ players to Russia for the games.

Would I have loved to see a deal like the NBA has (ESPN & TNT)? Absolutely. More hockey is good for everyone. Unfortunately for us, they either couldn’t agree on that type of deal, or the proposal was never offered.

Please share your comments, concerns or questions.

As the NHL season comes to a close, we are going to vote on the NHL Awards, and four of us will pick one candidate each to “campaign” for.  At the bottom, you will see balloting and the final results.

Guy Boucher, Tampa Bay Lightning by Cujo

When you award the Jack Adams, there is only one guy who truly deserves it, and that is Guy Boucher. The hottest free agent head coach coming into this year for good reason, in his 2 years of head coaching (1 season in QMJHL, and 1 in AHL) he went 106-27. He came in, and took essentially the same Tampa Bay Lightning team that was out of playoff contention last year (34-36-12) and has led them to the playoffs this year (46-25-11). He has played a huge part in making Tampa a dangerous team, and it should be interesting to watch them for years to come.

Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh Penguins by Realdeal

As a Flyers fan, the last thing I want to see a Penguin win is some hardware.  But, as a hockey fan, Dan Bylsma deserves the Jack Adams.  Of course, the Penguins had high expectations coming into the season. But the Pens losing their two top players around the same time mid-season, and still staying afloat in the Eastern Conference, almost winning the Atlantic Division, says a lot about Bylsma.  HBO’s 24/7 showed how Bylsma is one of the bright, young coaches in this league, and should get some recognition for it.

Jacques Lemaire, New Jersey Devils by Gabbi

Of the four coaches we have selected, the now former New Jersey Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire is the only one to have not clinched a playoff birth. If, then, his team is not in contention for Lord Stanley’s glory, why should he be considered for the Jack Adams? After leading the Devils to the top spot in the Atlantic Division, Lemaire called it quits, saying he wanted to retire from the team he coached to a Stanley Cup in 1995. The club then brought in John MacLean; the team’s all-time leading goal scorer to coach the club. MacLean then proceeded to lead the team to a 9-22-2 record. Upon his firing midseason, Lemaire took the reins back and was given the daunting task to turn the club around. That he did. In 48 games, his neutral zone style brought the New Jersey Devils 28 wins and only 17 losses. Though his club failed to make the playoffs, they were not eliminated until they had 3 games remaining in their season. And while he may not be the team’s coach anymore, the most deserving of these men for the award is Jacques Lemaire, former coach of the New Jersey Devils.

Alain Vigneault, Vancouver Canucks by Joey

Often times the Jack Adams award has an aura more like a lifetime achievement award for the NHL’s coaching brethren. It’s with that thought in mind Alain Vigneault should win the Jack Adams award. Yes he has won once before in 2007 and has a great team at his disposal, but he also leads a team that just gets better and better year after year. That shows that he isn’t there simply for the ride with elite talents like the Sedins and Luongo in your lineup, he is a driving force behind the Canucks success.

Final Voting


Here are our first round NHL picks.

(Sidenote: We made an agreement to not pick the series’ our teams were involved in)

Vancouver and Boston are favorite picks.  San Jose, Philly, and Detroit are pretty strong selections as well.  We had a tough time with both 4/5 matchups, slight favorites to Nashville, and split 50-50 in the East.  Washington-New York was also split, presumably because of Washington’s past playoff failures.

Tell us what you think, agree or disagree!

As the NHL season comes to a close, we are going to vote on the NHL Awards, and four of us will pick one candidate each to “campaign” for.  At the bottom, you will see balloting and the final results.

Logan Couture, C, San Jose Sharks by Cujo

Logan Couture deserves the Calder trophy, the kid is just flat out amazing. Former team captain Patrick Marleau said himself that Logan is talented offensively, and defensively, which would explain his numbers. He leads the team in +/-, he is second in goals on the team only behind Marleau, and also 2nd in game winning goals for the team. This is a team with Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton who by all means Couture should be setting up for goals (not that he is bad at that with 23 assists on the year), but he is proving he has what it takes to put the puck in the net, and help to keep it out of his own.

Corey Crawford, G, Chicago Blackhawks by Realdeal

As the season opened, the defending Cup Champions were looking to fill the hole of the departed Antti Niemi with Marty Turco.  However, Turco’s starting job was taken over by rookie Corey Crawford.    Crawford has filled Niemi’s void nicely.  In 54 games, Crawford’s won 31 games (good for 13th in the NHL), posted a 2.26 GAA (6th) and 91.9% save percentage (13th).  He’s also posted four shutouts this season.  While the team has struggled, Crawford has kept the Blackhawks in the playoff race.

Michael Grabner, RW, New York Islanders by Gabbi

When looking at this years crop of Calder nominees, it’s amazing to see how talented the future of the NHL is looking. So out of big names like Couture, Skinner and Fowler why go with the seemingly obscure Michael Grabner? On a team of young studs he leads the team in goals (33) and was fourth in points (50) in 74 games. This all after a summer where he was traded from his draft team from Vancouver to Florida, where he was subsequently waived from. The twenty three year old’s placement in the NHL was questionable at best, until he (and his silky mitts) found a niche on Long Island. He’s now a pivotal piece of the puzzle for the young Islanders core. Strange coming from the mouth of a Rangers fan, but this Austria native should be the next Calder trophy winner!

Jeff Skinner, C, Carolina Hurricanes by Joey

As if you need any more reasons why Jeff Skinner should be the Rookie of the Year besides his surname conjuring up images of an early 90s wrestling superstar (that’s Vince’s word not mine), I suppose I should continue to tip your scales. Skinner, by far, the youngest of the most viable ROY candidates being 18 until late in the conference finals and not only that, is also the most consistent having 30 goals and 29 assists as of this writing. I also venture that Skinner has done the most with the least. Outside of having Eric Staal as a teammate, Skinner is surrounded by a handful of solid but not quite venerable teammates. Which I feel is less to work with than the budding forwards in Long Island like Tavares, Okposo, Moulson, and the like. Vote young, vote Skinner. And perhaps Jeff will celebrate with a skulleted homage to Crocodile Dundee…ok maybe not.

Final Voting