Archive for the ‘Carolina Hurricanes’ Category

Here are some random news and notes from around The NHL :

– The Boston Bruins ran over Ryan Miller and The Sabres (Literally) for their 5th straight win in a so far perfect November.

-Max Pacioretty of The Montreal Canadiens, talk about a comeback! 3 goals in 4 games, leading the team in Goals (7) and Shots On Goal (61)

-The Columbus Blue Jackets welcomed Nikita Nikitin to the team with 24:57 of ice time, he had 1 assist, Steve Mason had 35 saves, and rookie Ryan Johansen had 2 goals in a 2-1 win over Winnipeg.

– The St.Louis Blues welcomed Kris Russell, who scored the gamewinner in a 3-0 shutout over Tampa Bay. Brian Elliot made 19 saves in the effort.

-The Detroit Red Wings are back on track, winning 4 straight games with last night’s grilling of Dallas 5-2, Jimmy Howard is on fire, making at least 22 saves each game in that 4 game span that included 2 shutouts.

– The Pittsburgh Penguins are still on top of the world in the east (tied for best in NHL) even after last night’s  loss at the hands of Carolina. “Crosby? Crosby!? We don’t need no stinkin’ Crosby!”

– The Blackhawks are tops in the west (also tied for best in NHL) with the usual suspects (Kane,Hossa,Sharp,Toews) leading the way.

-Martin Brodeur became the leader in most regular season losses with 353 (surpassing Curtis Joseph and Gump Worsley). Hey, if you are going to have the most wins, why not have the most losses as well?

Review of 2010-2011: 40-31-11, 91 Points, 9th In Eastern Conference, Missed Playoffs

Key additions via free agency: Tim Brent, Brian Boucher, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Anthony Stewart, Chris Durno

Key additions via trade: None

Key Losses: Troy Bodie, Cory Stillman, Erik Cole, Justin Pogge, Joe Corvo

Tim Brent (Photo: Getty Images)

Offense: The winds of change are blowing through Carolina this year, as they said goodbye to a few familiar faces in Cory Stillman, Erik Cole, and Joe Corvo.But they also welcomed a few new faces on offense in Tim Brent, Alexei Ponikarovski, and Anthony Stewart. Tim Brent brings a rugged, hard battling style to the faceoff dot, he’s also capable of scoring a few goals. Ponikarovsky comes looking to turn things around after a disappointing season with Los Angeles, he looks to recapture his scoring touch with Carolina. Stewart brings a boat load of potential after his first full NHL season last year with Atlanta where he racked up 39 points. Eric Staal will, in all likelyhood, still lead the team in scoring, but there is a sense that youngster Jeff Skinner will be biting at his heels in the team scoring race. Tuomo Ruutu should put together a nice point total, including a boat load of assists this year depending on who his line mates are.  Also adding in Chad LaRose and Brandon Sutter, it could be a nice year offensively in Carolina. The Hurricanes issue that needs to be worked out this year the powerplay, they need to improve from their league ranked 24th powerplay percentage.

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Last season, 18 year old Jeff Skinner joined some elite company.  He became the fourth 18 year old to win the Calder trophy as NHL’s Rookie of the Year, scoring 32 goals and 63 points.  He became the youngest winner since Tom Barrasso in 1983-84.  Many 18 year olds have played in the NHL, but only eleven have scored 60 points in one season.  Of those eleven, nine played in the 1980s, when scoring was up.  The only one who’s done it outside of that decade besides Skinner, is Sidney Crosby.  Ironically, Skinner replaced Crosby in the All Star Game this past season.  Of the ten players ahead of Skinner on that list, all ten had productive seasons their second year.  Even the “bust” Jimmy Carson had two great years before tailing off.

Now Jeff Skinner is not going to produce Crosby numbers (120 points, Art Ross winner in his second year). Crosby posted over 100 points his rookie year to Skinner’s 63. Skinner played with Eric Staal most of last year on the Hurricanes’ top line.  But Skinner played 16:43 per game, which was only seventh most on his team.  That will surely increase this season, especially with the departure of Erik Cole.  He’ll most likely be called on for more power play minutes (played 3:10 per game last year).  More time will equal more scoring chances, which should increase his point total.

Some point to his slump in February as hitting the rookie wall.   (more…)

Here are some thoughts on some of the potential rule changes being looked at in the NHL Research And Development Camp:

NHL Research And Development Camp (Photo:THN)

 Hybrid Icing: Safety is the main issue that gets addressed here (Remember Kurtis Foster’s injury?), without taking away from the game. Easily something I think that should be implemented in the game.  Although some would argue about the officiating on certain calls, which is the only real argument against it.

No Icing While Shorthanded: If the NHL can find a way to boost scoring, they’ll test it out (Remember the idea of round nets?) Now, I understand the want to score more often, but I don’t really like this idea. You should be able to ice the puck while shorthanded, make the other team actually have to work on the powerplay. The other guy has two or five minutes in the box, that should eb enough of a penalty on his team.

Overtime Changes ( 4 minutes 4 on 4, then 3 minutes of 3 on 3): If this gets rid of the shootout (unless the shootout goes to 5 shooters), im all for it. However, I really do not like the idea of 3 on 3 hockey, it should be 4 on 4 minimum.  Would be interesting to do on a test run basis in the NHL.

No Line Change For Team That Is Offsides: Honestly, I like this idea, if a line can’t come into the zone onsides, they shouldn’t be able to change. Honestly, unless the players on the line have been on the ice a while, but, going offsides is their own fault, is it not? But,like the next rule, it could have an impact on the game negatively.

Faceoff In Own Zone After Offsides Is Called: Now this, I do not like, at all. This would encourage dump and chase hockey, which, just isn’t that good  to watch from a fan standpoint. I don’t see this rule making it very far at all, it will not see the light of day in the NHL.

Eliminate The Trapezoid: Yes, yes, and yes. Getting rid of the trapezoid behind the net has my approval. Goalies should be aloud to play the puck, there is no good reason this rule was ever implemented. Goalies doing a bit more work, I don’t see any defensemen who would have to chase the puck otherwise, that would argue against that. Let the goalies be free from the evil trapezoid!

Goal Line Camera: A brilliant idea I can’t believe they didn’t think of sooner! So many close calls, some right , some wrong . Now, if we can work on defining “kicking motions”, that would be another huge step forward. I would really like to see this implemented in the NHL. But I feel it might not be 100% fool proof depending on the camera’s position if say, the goalie was on top of the puck.

After the regular season, we took it upon ourselves to vote for five major NHL awards (Hart, Vezina, Norris, Calder and Adams).  With the awards show tomorrow night, let’s take a quick look back on how we did voting wise and who the frontrunner for those awards are.

Hart Memorial Trophy
This year, the three finalists are: Anaheim’s Corey Perry, Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin and Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis. Our voting had Perry, Sedin and Tim Thomas. With no disrespect to St. Louis, this is a two horse race. Corey Perry had 50 goals and dominated down the stretch. Sedin scored a career-high 41 goals, and 104 points, winning the Art Ross. Both guys are deserving but there can only be one winner. This season Perry’s been the most valuable to his team and should pick up the Hart. However, Sedin should win the Ted Lindsay (Most Outstanding Player) award.

Vezina Trophy
The Canucks’ Roberto Luongo, Predators’ Pekka Rinne and Bruins’ Tim Thomas are the finalists for the Vezina trophy. All three made were our finalists also. Thomas should dominate the voting and easily pick up the hardware this year, which would be his second Vezina (2009).

James Norris Trophy
Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber are the 2010-11 finalists. Our voting was close, with those three defenseman along with Lubomir Visnovsky finishing as our top vote getters. (Yes, I know that is four, but we had a 3-way tie for 2nd). Even though he’s not as well known as his co-finalists, Weber had a fantastic season and should win his first NHL trophy.

Calder Memorial Trophy
This year, the Sharks’ Logan Couture, Islanders’ Michael Grabner and Hurricanes’ Jeff Skinner are the NHL’s finalists. Once again, our top 3 voted finalists match the NHL’s. All three topped 30 goals and 50 points. Couture and Skinner will likely go 1-2 (in some order) but Couture is the pick here.

Jack Adams Award
The NHL’s finalist for the Adams Award are: Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma, Nashville’s Barry Trotz and Vancouver’s Alain Vigneault. Unfortunately, of those three only Bylsma made our finalists. The other two were Tampa’s Guy Boucher and New Jersey’s Jacques Lemaire. The frontrunner should be Bylsma, who almost won the Atlantic Division, despite his two best players (Crosby and Malkin) being injured.

Our voting produced 12 of the 15 NHL’s finalists. So who will win some of the other awards?

Ryan Kesler seems like the heavy favorite to unseat 3-time defending winner Pavel Datsyuk (a co-finalist) for the Selke Trophy. Datsyuk isn’t even going to Las Vegas for the awards show, and could be a sign of a new winner. The Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews is the other candidate.

The Lady Byng was another Datsyuk specialty, winning four times since the lockout. However, he was in a fight this season which prompted the internet to joke that he “blew his Byng chances.” Last year’s winner Martin St. Louis is in the running once again, along with Lidstrom and Dallas’ Loui Eriksson. St. Louis will probably win the award again this year.

The Masterton trophy is given to a player that shows perseverance and this year’s field has gone through a lot. Ray Emery (degenerative hip condition), Daymond Langkow (neck injury) and Ian Laperriere (brain injury) all are deserving, but this year’s winner has to be Emery. Thought to possibly have trouble walking in the future (let alone playing hockey), Emery rehabbed most of this season, and signed with the Ducks in February, playing in 16 games (including playoffs) for Anaheim.

One other award up for grabs is the Messier Leadership award. Chara, Lidstrom and Phoenix’s Shane Doan are this year’s finalists. The Coyotes battled relocation rumors all season and still managed to finish fifth. Doan’s been Phoenix’s captain since 2003. He was also Canada’s captain in the 2007 World Championships. He should be recognized for his leadership.

We’re doing something a little different, instead of one person doing their own mock draft, we are going to set ourselves in a semi-draft atmosphere by splitting the teams between the three of us (Cujo, Joey, RD) and picking our draft that way.  We figure it’ll make things a little interesting and a little competitive as well. There will also be a little reasoning behind each pick.

In order to keep things from getting long, we’re dividing up the draft into two parts, 1-15 and 16-30.

Without further ado, here is part 1 of our draft!

1. Edmonton Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C (Red Deer, WHL)
Highly anticipated number one. As much young talent the Oilers have. Why not stack the deck with even more elite talents.

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Two American NHL veterans are hanging it up after long careers.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski is walking away from a contract that had one year and $6 million remaining. The 37 year old defenseman’s decision was helped by his current injuries. He reportedly played without an ACL in this year’s playoffs.

Rafalski played 833 NHL games with the New Jersey Devils and the Detroit Red Wings. In his 11 years, he scored 79 goals and 515 points. He was a member of three Stanley Cup teams (’00 Devils, ’03 Devils, ’08 Red Wings). He’s also won an Olympic silver medal twice with USA, in 2002 and 2010. In 2010, he was named to the all-Olympic team, as well as best defenseman, after finishing the tournament first in defenseman scoring (8 points). Rafalski was a two time all-star, in 2004 and 2007.

One of the underrated defensemen of his generation, Rafalski’s sudden retirement leaves the Red Wings with $6 million to play with in the offseason. That number could grow if his blueline mate Nicklas Lidstrom also decides to hang up the skates.

Rafalski’s teammate on the 2002 US silver medal team, Doug Weight, is also expected to announce his retirement this week. Unlike Rafalski, Weight has made his way around the NHL, playing 1238 games with the Rangers, Oilers, Blues, Hurricanes, Ducks and Islanders. Weight tallied 278 goals and 1033 points in his 21 year career. In addition to his 2002 silver medal, he’s represented USA in the 1998 and 2006 Olympics. Also in 2006, Weight got his named etched onto the Stanley Cup as the Hurricanes beat the Oilers.

The four time all-star picked up his 1000th point with the Islanders, an assist on a Richard Park goal in a game on January 2, 2009 against the Coyotes. He became only the eighth American and 73rd NHLer to hit the 1000 point mark. His 1000th career game came with St. Louis against the Oilers on November 16, 2006.  Weight was the 25th American to reach the mark.

Hats off to great careers, guys. Here’s to happy retirement for the both of them!

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

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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

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Every so often, some of us at Crimespree Hockey will partake in a “roundtable debate” on hot hockey topics.  This edition will discuss the NHL Premiere games in Europe.

The 2010 NHL Premiere features Carolina vs. Minnesota in Helsinki, Columbus vs. San Jose in Stockholm and Phoenix vs. Boston in Prague.

Dan: I can get the reason they want to do this, because they want to expand promotion of the league.

Rob: But they call this “beneficial”, but the Olympics is a “waste of time”.

Dan: The Olympics is a HUUUUGE deal across the globe though.  The problem with this, is A) nobody over there really cares about our teams, and I understand they want to change that, marketability.

Rob: The DEL fans (watching Sharks vs. Adler Mannheim) were the only ones excited. They didn’t shut up.

Dan: But, it makes things unfair for the 4 (or 6) teams that go over.  Look at Carolina, who goes over and doesn’t have a home game until the end of October.

Michelle: It’s definitely a disadvantage for the teams that go over because they are going to be worn out from travelling. (more…)