Monday, May 31, 2010

So I'm Sitting Here Musing On Tonight's Game 2...

So I'm sitting here musing about Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Chicago tonight - I really need to be working, yes it's a holiday but we had some things come up at work and I've got a deadline in two weeks and a lot of things to do before then. After all I want to get those tasks done so I can attend the annual PM-FPS Golf Tournament at Fort Belvoir and get my butt summarily kicked by that course once again on June 11th...

In any case I'm once again musing about hockey - it is a holiday weekend after all - and I'm thinking that tonight one of two things will happen. Either the Flyers come out, score first, play a very tight game and come away with a hard fought 2-1 or 3-2 win. Tying the series at one game a piece as they head to Philly for game 3 of what will likely be a 7 game series anybody can win.

Or ...

Chicago comes out flying, and this time solves both Flyers goaltenders Leighton and Boucher - they really didn't solve Boucher last game - and come away with at least a three goal victory (at least 2 + an empty netter). If that happens the teams head to Philly with Chicago in control of the series 2-0 for game 3 of what will likely be a 5 game series that Chicago wins.

Of the two choices I have no idea which will occur. As I've been saying I will make no concrete predictions about this series. It's the Stanley Cup finals - anything can happen. After all "History Will Be Made" and at this point you really have to play all the required games on the ice. I do think though that Philly's lesson learned from game one is that even though Niemi is beatable, they want to play Chicago tighter than they played them in game one.

What do you think?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Game 1 In The Books - Blackhawks 6 - Flyers 5

Here's my random thoughts about last night's Stanley Cup Finals Game 1...

Midway through the first period I thought - if things keep up this way, the final score will be 7-6 and I have no idea who will win. Seriously, no kidding that's why I thought. Things did basically keep up that way and I wasn't far off the mark.

It only shows how little confidence the Blackhawks have in Christobel Huet that Antti Niemi was still in the Chicago net to get the victory. It also once again just resoundingly screams what a waste of $5.5M of Salary Cap Space, Hut's contract is for Chicago. As a Capitals fan I'd like to once again say thank you for the self-discipline of the Caps Management and Ownership and for Jose Theodore, these past two seasons.

Aren't the playoffs, especially when your big players need to show up and deliver big? Flyers: Richards-Carter-Gagne combined for no goals, no assists and a +/- of (-7). Not to be outdone for the Blackhawks: Kane-Toews-Byfuglien combined for zero goals, zero points and +/- of (-9). I'd say this points to a couple of things: a) both the Flyers and the Blackhawks have good coaching staffs and used the time between series to watch a fair amount of video and come up with ways to modulate the impact of the other teams' "big guns" and b) the guys assigned to keep the other teams "big guns" neutralized executed well. That said my feeling is this level of non-production will not continue through the rest of the series and one important factor for who ever wins the series will be that they will make counteracting adjustments faster than the loosing team can react to. Given last night's game it's probably going to be much more about being a "coach's series" than being about a "goaltender's series/duel" - just a hunch on my part.

Don't get me wrong, right now I'd rather be the Blackhawks and up 1-0 in the series, but there's a lot of good things the Flyers have to build on, and I can't believe that Chicago was sitting in their locker room after the game thinking it was going to be easy for them to win their first Cup since 1961. Can't see the Blackhawks sweeping this series right now.

It will be interesting to see who Peter Laviolette starts in goal for game two. Brian Boucher was clearly the best goaltender who played last night, but Leighton wasn't really the problem for the Flyers and it was really his first bad game since he took over for Boucher in the playoffs. No doubt Niemi will be in goal for Chicago and the Hawks will be hoping he has what has become his usual stellar coming back from a bad outing game in game 2. To some degree what happens there with Niemi in game two will drive the amount of swagger the Hawks have when they travel to Philly for game 3 and 4.

32:21 of Ice Time is probably too much for Philly to play Chris Pronger against the Blackhawks, but I'm not sure what choice they have. I guess if they could get it so Lukas Krajicek skated 10-12 minutes in the game and/or Ryan Parent skated 5-10 minutes in a game vice 7:03 and 00:41, they might be able to dial Pronger's ice time back to something on the order of 27 minutes. Seriously, if the game had gone to Overtime it's very conceivable Pronger could have been asked to play 40 minutes and that likely just won't work against the Blackhawks who are so deep. This is something that will likely be a key thing to watch the rest of this series.

I won't make any prediction on who will win but after last night's game it's hard for me to feel the Series won't be at least six (6) games long.

No Flyer penalties last night --- really? Well Laviolette had to be happy, even if the 22,000+ referees in United Center were slightly incredulous at times.

Second star of the game Marian Hossa --- really? Hossa played a good game but in a game where 11 goals are scored the fact that the second star of the game is a guy who didn't score a goal but had two (2) assists in 18:14 TOI just shows how distributed the Chicago offense was last night. Personally, nothing against Hoss, but I would have given the second star to Dave Boland for his unassisted short hand goal, but I always feel a "shortie" provides a team with a bunch of good karma and momentum and tend to overvalue their impact on a game.

Next game tomorrow in Chicago.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

So It's Set - Piladelphia @ Chicago, Stanley Cup Game 1, Saturday May 29th in Chicago

Well it's set, the Stanley Cup Finals that is. This should be a great series. Lots of action, lotos of drama. As a former Flyers fan, and current Capitals/Eastern Conference fan, I'm rooting for the Flyers, but lets be honest, Chicago has looked awesome, especially the last 4 games.

More later but last night's game 5 Flyers vs. Canadiens was a good one. ...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Blackhawks Sweep Sharks, Flyers Return To Philly Leading Series 3-1 and Russia Looses to Czech Republic

The headline tell is all doesn't it?

The NHL Western Conference team in the Stanley Cup Finals is Chicago after they took game four today in Chicago. The Blackhawks deserved to win, they seemed to want it more, they clearly out shot the Sharks in the second and third period and scored 4 unanswered goals, including the final empty neter to come back from a 2-0 deficit and take the series in a sweep.

The Flyers made all the necessary adjustments on Saturday to take the 3-1 game series lead with them when they return to Wachovia Center in Philly and try to close out the series against Montreal in five games. Michael Leighton got his third shutout of the series and the Flyers powered to a 3-0 victory in the second game at of the series at Bell Center.

In Germany, the Czech Republic beat Russia 3-1, Heartbreak there for sure....

Well that's it for now, Tomorrow night's Flyers - Canadiens game should be a fun one.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

NHL Playoffs - Conference Finals, Buckle Up and Get Ready for Game 4 in Both Series

Well the NHL Playoffs have continued without: the Capitals, without the Penguins, and believe it or not without the Red Wings. Despite the lack of continued participation by these three powerhouses and/or in the case of Detroit, usual suspects, the ice hockey games being played have been interesting and exciting to say the least.

In the East, today's game 4 in Montreal will result in one of two things: a) the Habs Win, the series is tied 2-2 and we're probably in for a seven game continued barn burner, or b) the Flyers win go up 3-1 and probably find a way to the Stanley Cup Finals before the series is over in 5 or 6 games. Either way, the Eastern Conference participant in the Stanley Cup finals this year will be an improbable 7th or 8th seed team. They will also be a team with a balanced offense, who got to the finals by playing like a team and staying with their team's system, executing it as good as they have all season long. In other words, no easy "pickings" for their ultimate Western Conference Opponent.

In the West, Sunday's Game 4 in Chicago will result in one of 2 things: a) an improbable 4 game sweep of San Jose by the Blackhawks or b) San Jose winning, staving off elimination and from their perspective beginning the long crawl/comeback from being down 3 games - 0 and trying to be the second team this year that makes history that way. Either way whichever team from the West that makes the finals will be confident. So far this series, Chicago has been pretty impressive to say the least, though during last night's win they did allow San Jose 46 Shots On Goal. In Sunday's game, I expect we'll see a San Jose team playing with as much or more energy and drive as we saw in game 3. I also think Chicago is playing with fire when they let San Jose's second line (Pavelski-Stetoguchi-Clowe) fire a combined 12 shots on goal. As much as the NHL.COM press says these guys are cold, that's still playing with fire and once they break through for that first combined goal, chances are they could just as easily loosen their grips on their sticks just a little and return to the productivity levels they all had in the first two rounds of this year's playoffs. For Chicago, what is there to say, picking one or two guys to single out as being guys playing well is really difficult. For all the right reasons, by and large the entire Blackhawks team is playing very well and showing no signs of letting up the pressure their collective boot has on San Jose's throat right now. Antti Niemi's performance this series has been excellent. In game 3 he stopped 44 of 46 (SV% 0.9565), in game 2 he stopped 25 of 27 (SV% 0.9259) and in game 1, a goaltender's duel, he stopped 44 of 45 (SV% 0.9778). Overall through the series to date his GAA is 1.67 and his SV% is 0.9576. I'm sure Chicago is glad they have a great goaltender who is playing at the top of his game and will be around next year earning $5,5M to back him up again. Then again maybe not given the implied tone when I wrote "who is playing at the top of his game." Sorry, you had to guess, that if there was some way for me to get in a "jab" at my favorite former Capitals' goaltender, I would. After all, "I gotta be me."

Well it looks like it's going to be a gray, and possibly rainy day around here in Bristow, so I will indeed likely watch the Flyers - Canadiens game today or at least the majority of it live.

Apparently the "BIG" Capitals related news is that Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich always play to win, even when they are on opposing sides of the ice - I'm shocked, how about you?

Is it September, yet?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Quick Hits From Last Night's Hockey Musings

So last night as I watched the majority of the Flyers - Canadiens game relatively closely and then channel surfed with the Sharks - Blackhawks game as my "base channel" - I had several "quick musings" about the current state of both Conference finals. I'll share them briefly while chomping on my sandwich before getting back to work on this cloudy Monday.

1) Wow, now the Canadiens know how frustrated the Caps and the Penguins were when Jaroslav Halak was stonewalling them. Sure the Flyers team defense has been tough but Michael Leighton has been virtually impenetrable since being brought in when Brian Boucher got injured and six periods of shutout hockey is a great way to start a best of seven series.

2) Who are these guys wearing the Canadien uniforms this series - they can't be the same guys who played and beat the Capitals and the Penguins. The guy in goal certainly isn't the same guy who played the last three games in net during the Capitals - Canadiens series.

3) The Flyers not retaliating is really bizarre to watch, but oh so much a testament to how good they can be. This is the Flyers team everyone expected to play in Wachovia Center at the start of this past regular season.

4) Last night's Flyers shut out of the Canadiens means the Flyers have scored a total of 13 unanswered goals and have played eight (8) straight periods of playoff hockey without allowing their opponents to score a goal. That's history being made, right there. All I can say is wow ... just ... wow.

5) I see the Flyers winning this series in five (5) games. I see Montreal saving some face with at least one (1) win in Montreal but after what the Flyers did to the Bruins, I can't see the Flyers letting up one iota until the series is over.

6) I said it was going to be t0ugh for San Jose to beat the Blackhawks unless their first line started producing and their second line kept on producing. Apparently Joel Quenneville agrees with me and is matching up linesto make sure that "Little Joe" Pavelski and the Sharks' second line reverts to being less productive than they have been through the Sharks' first two playoff series. Really I can't see the Sharks coming back from this deficit while still dressing 11 forwards and 7 defensemen for each game.

7) With every game that Antti Niemi plays well and gets better, the bigger albatross the Christobel Huet contract looks around Stan Bowman's neck. Hopefully for Florida Panther Fans that means that Dale Tallon has learned from his past mistakes. Thank goodness for we Capitals fans that GMGM and Ted Leonsis stood firm in their contract negotiations with Huet and his agent with regard to term of contract and he ended up in Chicago.

8) With each game I watch that the Blackhawks play I find myself wondering - what in the world did Brian Campbell ever do to make anyone feel he'd be worth over 7 million of cap space for the next six years? It's no wonder that Chicago is playing with such urgencey, with the Campbell and Marian Hossa contracts there really no way the core of this team can be held firmly together past next season. I've got nothing against Brain Campbell or Marian Hossa but I don't see Campbell being worth more than Chris Pronger at age 35 and I certainly don't see Hossa being worth 5+M of salary cap space in 2016 at age 37, can you honestly feel that in any system that Marian Hossa will have a 25% greater impact to a team than Sergei Federov did at age 38?

9) All that said it's going to be really, really hard for the Sharks to come back and make it to the Stanley Cup finals now. The series heads to Chicago with the Blackhawks up two games to zip. I couldn't see this series being done in less than six games before it started and now I can't see it going past six games, in fact if I were a betting man I'd take Chicago in five games and I wouldn't be shocked to see them sweep their ways into the finals.

I know it's late in the playoffs and saying that you are going to see good hockey is a pretty safe statement but so far these two remaining series have been pretty good hockey to watch, eh?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Looking Ahead - Caps 2010-2011 Roster

Well yesterday's big news announcement is in the books and now we can take a minute to look ahead a where the Capitals are with regards to 2010 - 2011 roster and what I personally think they ought to do with making signings and adjustments as well as what I think they will do and why. I'm not for any major retools or changes and I've posted as much on comments to threads and things on other blogs since the end of the season. I'm also not spending a lot of time looking back and grading performances, etc for two main reasons 1) I think the evaluations that are traditionally done on Japer's Rink and The Peerless Prognosticator are very well done and for the most part I tend to agree with them; and B) that's just not the sort of guy I am, I do think over and identify necessary changes and lessons learned but other than that throughout my life I haven't really dwelled on "the past" at all - like those guys at Nike say I'm a "just do it" guy... The following post goes through things in the following order- i) The Caps who were on last year's roster and are signed already for next season; ii) The Caps who were on the roster and who are basically now RFAs and UFAs; iii) The guys around the league who I think are the "best" available UFAs at each position and what I'd consider or NOT consider doing with them if I were GM George McPhee aka GMGM; and last iv) what I'd do for an opening night roster and then through the season if I were both GMGM and coach Bruce Boudreau.

Now, about the rest of the Capitals' 2010-2011 roster -let's talk. After today's announcement the Capitals now have the following 19 players signed and on the roster next season:

1) Alexander Ovechkin - Cap Hit: $9.5M, signed through the end of the 2020-2021 season;
2) Nicklas Backstrom - Cap Hit: $6.7M, signed through 2019 - 2020 season;
3) Alexander Semin - Cap Hit: $6M, becomes an UFA after next season;
4) Mike Green - Cap Hit: $5.25M, becomes a RFA after the end of the 2011-2012 season;
5) Tom Poti - Cap Hit: $3.5M, becomes an UFA after next season;
6) Mike Knuble - Cap Hit: $2.8M, becomes an UFA after next season;
7) Brooks Laich - Cap Hit: $2.1M, becomes an UFA after next season;
8) Jason Chimera - Cap Hit: $1.875M, becomes an UFA after the end of the 2011-2012 season;
9) Karl Alzner - Cap Hit: $1.675M, becomes a RFA after next season;
10) John Erskine - Cap Hit $1.25M, becomes an UFA after next season;
11) Dave Steckel - Cap Hit: $1.1M, becomes an UFA after the end of the 2012 - 2013 season;
12) Matt Bradley - Cap Hit: $1.0M, becomes an UFA after next season;
13) Marcus Johansson - Cap Hit $900K, becomes a RFA after the 2012 -2013 season;
14) John Carlson - Cap Hit: $875K, becomes a RFA after the end of the 2011-2012 season;
15) Semyon Varlamov - Cap Hit: $822K, becomes a RFA after next season;
16) Michal Neuvirth - Cap Hit: $822K, becomes a RFA after next season;
17) Tyler Sloan - Cap Hit: $700K, becomes an UFA after the end of the 2011 - 2012 season;
18) Mathieu Perrault - Cap Hit: $650K, becomes a RFA after next season;
19) Keith Aucoin - Cap Hit: $500K, becomes an UFA after the end of the 2011 - 2012 season.

The following 10 Capitals/Bears were on the roster at one point or other last season and will be RFAs unless resigned before July.

1) Jeff Schultz: 2009-2010 Salary: $715K
2) Eric Fehr: 2009-2010 Salary: $772K
3) Boyd Gordon: 2009-2010 Salary: $761K
4) Tomas Fleischmann: 2009-2010 Salary: $725K
5) Zach Miscovic: 2009-2010 Salary: $900K
6) Andrew Gordon: 2009-2010 Salary: $660K
7) Jay Beagle: 2009-2010 Salary: $688K
8) Chris Bourque: 2009-2010 Salary: $578K
9) Patrick McNeil: 2009-2010 Salary: $500K
10) Kyle Wilson: 2009-2010 Salary: $500K

The following 11 Capitals/Bears are now slated to be UFAs unless resigned before July.

1) Jose Theodore: 2009-2010 Salary: $4.5M
2) Joe Corvo: 2009-2010 Salary: $2.75M
3) Scott Walker: 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M
4) Shoane Morrisonn: 2009-2010 Salary: $1.975M
5) Eric Belanger: 2009-2010 Salary: $1.75M
6) Brendan Morrisson: 2009-2010 Salary: $1.5M
7) Milan Jurcina: 2009-2010 Salary: $1.375M
8) Quintin Laing: 2009-2010 Salary:$500K
9) Kyle Wilson: 2009-2010 Salary: $500K
10) Boyd Kane: 2009-2010 Salary: $500K
11) Alexandre Gioux: 2009-2010 Salary: $500K.

The following players around the NHL are guys I believe are either the best available at their positions, or guys we might at some point between now and August 15th discuss being in Capitals "Sweaters" at the start of training camp who are slated to be UFAs this summer.

2010 UFA Forwards - Wings: Other than the #1, #2 and #3 guys on the list who I think will still want more money than the Capitals want to spend on wings, and the #4 guy on the list who the Caps couldn't even begin to talk about without an unneeded and undesired total reshuffle of the roster, there's really nobody on the list except #5 Max Afiniganov who might be picked up for a bargain price and at which he could add some additional excitement and scoring touch to the second and/or third lines. That said to make even picking up Afiniganov up it would have to be a bargain. I really don't think the Caps need to or should go outside the guys in their current system and bring in any more wings, they really don't need them. Of course if for some strange reason Lee Stempniak would be available at around the $2.0M mark or Tomas Plekanec would be available at a $3.5M Cap hit or less, now that's a deal worth talking about. All that said I don't see either of those things happening. The rest of the list has some interesting folks but not guys I'd rather have than signing Eric Fehr to a qualifying offer and then giving some of the folks in Hershey a shot early next season to fill out the available roster spots, etc. The list has some other folks who will generate interest at a number of places around the league where scoring punch is needed like say Boston and where it's clear a rebuild is being under taken like Toronto, guys like Alexander Frolov, etc. but for various reason I just don't see them as guys the Caps would rather have than the guys they can resign as RFAs, etc. - In other words because of the strength of what the Caps have in their pipeline and on their 2009-2010 roster as RFAs, it's just not worth them signing any of the 30 plus UFA RW/LW at any sort of premium. Here's the list as I see it:
1) Tomas Plekanec: Current Team - Montreal, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.75M
2) Lee Stemniak: Current Team - Phoenix, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.5M
3) Rafi Torres: Current Team - Buffalo, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.75M
4) Ilya Kovalchuk: Current Team - New Jersey, 2009-2010 Salary: $7.5M
5) Maxim Afiniganov, Current Team - Atlanta, 2009-2010 Salary: $800K

Below #5, I don't have anybody rank ordered. I'll look closer at each of them as July approaches but my efforts right now are to look at what I'd do with the Capitals 2010-2011 roster. I looked at 27 guys who are wings from the other teams as well as the Capitals UFAs. The other 22 besides the top 5 I'd consider/look at above are:
a)Teemu Selanne: Current Team: Anaheim, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.0M
b) Colby Armstrong, Current Team Atlanta: 2009-2010 Salary: $2.4M
c) Evgeni Artyukin, Current Team - Atlanta, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.0M
d) Miroslav Satan: Current Team - Boston, 2009-2010 Salary: $700K
e) Paul Kariya: Current Team - Saint Louis, 2009-2010 Salary: $6.0M
f) Ray Whitney; Current Team - Carolina, 2009-2010 Salary$3.55M
g) Adam Burish; Current Team - Chicago, 2009-2010 Salary: $725K
f) Marek Svatos, Current Team - Colorado, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.35M
g) David Koci, Current Team - Colorado, 2009-2010 Salary: $575K
h) Tomas Holstrom, Current Team - Detroit, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.25M
i) Fernando Pisaini, Current Team - Edmonton, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M
j) Alexander Frolov, Current Team - Los Angeles, 2009-2010 Salary: $4.0M
k) Fredrik Modin, Current Team - Los Angeles, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.5M
l) Richard Park, Current Team - Islanders, 2009-2010 Salary: $800K
m) "Vinny" Prospal, Current Team - Rangers, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.15M
n) Taylor Pyatt, Current Team - Phoenix, 2009-2010 Salary: $600K
o) Alexi Ponakoravsky, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M
p) Bill Guerin, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.0M
q) Ruslen Fedotenko, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.8M
r) Matt Cooke, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.2M
s) Alex Tangauy, Current Team - Tampa Bay, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M
t) Pavol Dmetria, Current Team - Vancouver, 2009-2010 Salary: $4.0M.

2010 UFA Centers: The biggest discussion most of the Caps Fans who study and ponder these things have is should the Capitals go to the UFA market and try and sign a second line center and if not what should they do about that need next season given that both Eric Belanger and Brendan Morrison are UFAs themselves. The challenge for the Capitals is the UFA market this season has approximately 22 available choices but only 7 are worth even talking about for the Capitals needs and if you say that you are looking for a guy to skate with and center some combination of Alexander Semin/Brooks Laich and/or Eric Fehr that number drops to between three or four of the guys in the available pool. First let me say, if I thought going out and after an available UFA Center was the right thing to do I'd definately go after the #1 and /or #2 guy I have on this list. That said I just don't see the Caps, or anyone getting John Madden under contract for less than $3.5M/year and that could be a tough thing for them to deal with under the salary cap, Saiku Koivu might take a salary between $3.0 and $3.5M but again probably not. So then you are down to the rest of the list and while I think it's worth talking about any of #3 - #5 Comrie, Halpren, or Wellwood you have to ask are they really a better option than a) either having Brooks Laich, who is a natural center play pivot on the second line or resigning either Belanger or Brendan Morisson, and having them split that playing time with a number of players who you could give a shot from Hershey as well as giving Laich some time there as well and seeing what works. Worst case you once again go out at the trade deadline and pick up a rental for the second line center and some additional depth. My list of the 20 available centers on the other 29 NHL rosters is as follows:
1) John Madden, Current Team - Chicago, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $2.75M
2) Saiku Koivu, Current Team - Anaheim, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.25M
3) Mike Comrie, Current Team - Edmonton, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $1.25M
4) Jeff Halpren, Current Team - Los Angeles, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $2.0M
5) Kyle Wellwood, Current Team - Vancouver, 2009-2010 Salary:$1.2M

Others, some with my comments from the Peanut Gallery:
a) Manny Malhotra, Current Team - San Jose, 2009-2010 Salary: $700K
- a bargain third line center this past season for the Sharks, price will go up to numbers similar to Belanger or Morrison could be resigned at so why do this?
b) Dominic Moore, Current Team - Montreal, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.1M
- "stock" way up based on what we've seen in this post season and a real energy guy but not a second line skating/scoring center in the Caps system, that said if he keeps playing the way he has been through the Conference Finals he's probably going to get a $2.0M salary from someone next season.
c) Patrick Marleau, Current Team - San Jose, 2009-2010 Salary: $6.3M
- Along with Kovalchuk, the best available forward/center who is a UFA this season. He's s solid first liner, no doubt, the Caps can't afford him without any sort of major roster overhaul and why do something so high risk to a good and maturing team?
d) Chris Higgins, Current Team - Calgary, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.25M
- meh...
e) Stephane Yelle, Current Team - Colorado, 2009-2010 Salary: $550K
- dirty deeds, done dirt cheap, at this price, or even a number below $1M he's certainly worth an NHL roster slot in my book and he'll be somewhere next season for more than $55oK...
f) Jason Williams, Current Team - Detroit, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.5M
- Worth his price but not the second line center the Caps need and not worth more than the Caps are currently going to pay David Steckel next season or would need to pay either Boyd Gordon or Brendan Morrison.
g) Glen Metropolit, Current Team - Montreal, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.0M
- Solid experience and at this price he'd be an interesting depth guy/fourth liner with his defensive skills and experience. That said, not a good fit for the Caps now and I suspect he'll get another year from Montreal at a number between $750K and $1.25M.
h) Rob Niedermayer, Current Team - New Jersey, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.0M
- not a good fit for the Caps needs and a bit "long in the tooth".
i) Doug Weight, Current Team - Islanders, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.0M
- either retires or plays another season in Uniondale at a price less than $2.0M
j) Olli Joikenen, Current Team - Rangers, 2009-2010 Salary: $5.5M
- Ugh, don't even think about it, just such a horrible fit for the Capitals... and I'd have no idea what salary and term Joikenen will end up signing at. It's clear to me that both he and Jay-Bo would both be better off if they had stayed in Florida and vice - versa....
k) Matt Cullen, Current Team - Ottawa, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $2.8M
- Interesting and worth discussion but not at this price, and I still think we'd be better off with Brooks Laich at second line center.
l) Matt Lombardi, Current Team - Phoenix, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $2.35M
- Interesting but I can't figure out how he'd do on the Capital's second line. Ia have a feeling that he'd be constantly trying to figure out what to do to anticipate Semin's creativity and struggle to keep up when Fehr turns on the jets. As for Laich I think he's in many ways the easiest and best guy for a new forward to play with. When he's with a new linemate he keeps it simple and seems to let them, at least initially, set the skating pace until the opponents give him an open skating or shooting lane to the goal....
m) Robert Lang, Current Team - Phoenix, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $1.0M
- I like him but not the guy for the job the Caps need to fill these days.
n) Craig Conroy, Current Team - Calgary, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $1.0M
- uh, no.
n) Wayne Primeau, Current Team - Toronto, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.4M
- will be interesting to watch what happens to him this summer, I just sort of feel that if you wanted him this past summer, Brian Burke would have delivered him like he did so many other Leafs to your doorstep.

2010 UFA Defensemen: In addition to the Capitals 3 UFA and 3 RFA blue liners, I looked over 31 available UFA defensemen on the other 29 NHL teams. Unlike some who are screaming that the Capitals need a no kidding full blown "defensive" defenseman, I don't see the Capitals a) changing their system all that much to make that work well and b) I don't see Anton Volchenkov, who's number 2 on my list as that guy. I certainly don't see Volchenkov being worth anywhere near the $5M/season I think he'll command this off season to the Washington Capitals. As further testiment to that statement, if I thought the Caps needed that or wanted that I'd go after Paul Martin. I think Martin is a better all around player than Volchenkov, I think he'd fit and thrive on the Capitals roster and I think he'd easily step in and take over the role and minutes Tom Poti is playing now after this next season. All that said I see Martin getting $5M+ a season as well so assuming it's $5.5M per season you have to ask is he affordable since I still want Mike Green around for many years to come. I see Green's game maturing, he's just 25 years old and he's already been a Norris Trophy finalist twice (the last two seasons). He has the potential to be the next Nicklas Lidstrom, IMO. Doing anything other than including him clearly in the core that is the Capitals for the next 5+ years is a wrong move. So if you look at the list of available free agent defensemen who other than Paul Martin might have the potential to be a Chris Pronger or Zdeno Chara like force that can also jump up and join the rush like they have at times during these playoffs and not look foolish? I don't see any names on that list of available players except for Mr. a) (Lidstrom) and Mr. b) (Niedermeyer); and neither of those guys are likely to be playing anywhere other than Detroit and Anaheim respectively next season, if they don't retire at their own choosing. So then you need to look at the guys I've listed as 3) through 6) and compare/consider them versus the three Capitals who are UFA as well as RFA Jeff Shultz. The only one I'd talk in that same group is probably Dan Hamius. I think Hamius, another former WHL star like Green, Schultz and Alzner would fit in nicely and might, I emphasize might be affordable if he wants to come to DC. After Hamius, sure I'd consider and talk to Denis Seidenberg, but how much are you willing to pay Seidenberg when you can likely get Jeff Schultz, Shoane Morrisonn, or Milan Jurcina for less and Joe Corvo for a comparable price? Ditto for Arron Ward and Kim Johnsonn isn't worth what Paul Martin would be worth to the Capitals and will likely be looking for a deal of comparable numbers/salary cap hit as Martin and Volchenkov will command. While there are a few other folks worth talking about none are by my reckoning a better fit/deal for the Capitals than resigning at least one or more of the 3 Capital UFA blue liners. Here's how I see the available market from a "buyers" perspective, remember when I've listed them after a letter (e.g. a) that is not necessarily in any sort of ranking/priority order.)

1) Paul Martin, Current Team - New Jersey, 2009-2010 Salary $4.5M
2)Anton Volchenkov, Current Team - Ottawa, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.2M
3) Kim Johnsonn, Current Team - Chicago, 2009-2010 Salary: $5.3M
4) Arron Ward, Current Team Anaheim, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M
5) Denis Seidenberg, Current Team - Boston, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.25M
6) Dan Hamius, Current Team - Nashville, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M

a) Nicklas Lidstrom, Current Team - Detroit, 2009-2010 Salary: $7.45M
b) Scott Niedermeyer, Current Team - Anaheim, 2009-2010 Salary: $6.0M
c) Pavel Kubina, Current Team - Atlanta, 2009-2010 Salary: $5.0M
d) Brett Clark, Current Team - Colorado, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.5M
e) Brian Pothier, Current Team - Carolina, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.5M
f) Toni Lydman, Current Team: Buffalo, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.15M
g) Garnet Exelby, Current Team - Toronto, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.725M
h) Nick Boynton, Current Team - Chicago, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.5M
i) Andreas Lilja, Current Team - Detroit, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.25M
j) Marc-Andre Bergeron, Current Team - Montreal, 2009-2010 Salary: $750K
k) Henrik Tallinder, Current Team Buffalo, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.25M
l) Andy Sutton, Current Team - Ottawa, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.5M
m) Lukas Krajicek, Current Team - Philadelphia, 2009-2010 Salary: $700K
n) Derek Morris, Current Team - Phoenix, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.3M
o) Mathieu Schneider, Current Team - Phoenix, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.55M
p) Adrian Aucoin, Current Team - Phoenix, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.25M
q) Sergei Gonchar, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $5.5M
r) Mark Eaton, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009 -2010 Salary: $2.0M
s) Jordan Leopold, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009 - 2010 Salary: $1.75M
t) Jay McKee, Current Team - Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $800K
u) Rob Blake, Current Team - San Jose, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.5M
v) Nicklas Wallin, Current Team - San Jose, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.75M
w) Daryl Sydor, Current Team - Saint Louis, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.0M
x) Willie Mitchell, Current Team - Vancouver, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.5M'
y) Brad Lukowich, Current Team - Vancouver, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.6M

2010 UFA Goaltenders: Right now the Capitals Jose Theodore who earned $4.5M last season will be a UFA this coming season. I've said I don't see him in a Capitals uniform next season unless he takes a pay cut. I've also said I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up with a pay cut even if he moves on. That's a function of this summers UFA market as much or more than Theo's performance last season. The truth is last season, Jose Theodore had his best season since the "lockout" and his second best since winning the Hart and Vezina Trophies at the end of the 2001-2002 seasons. I've mentioned elsewhere I think he deserved a chance to play as a starter in game 7 against the Canadiens this year. I agree he should have been pulled in game 2. I've also been clear that I thought Semyon Varlamov played well enough to deserve his starts in games 3 through 6. My beef is that based on Varlamov's game 6 performance SV% 0.8571, stopping only 18 of 21 shots on goal, unless Theo was injured, I think the Caps should have given him a chance to beat his former team. Of course I've also said, I don't know what the situation was and as such it's clearly my uniformed opinion. All that said here's what I do know, of the 21 available UFA goaltenders the guy I'd most want in a Capitals uniform of any of them next season is Jose Theodore. He's a consummate pro, he's a great teammate by everything we fans can see and when he's on, he's still one of the best. Unfortunately because of the great season he had last year, I can't see someone giving him on the order of $2.5M/year. I also can't see the Capitals giving him more than $2.0M/year and I think his bigger issue with coming back to the Capitals will be playing time/starts.

So here's the other 20 guys I looked at none of which do I think the Caps could get more affordably or at a better value than Theodore and Dan Ellis of the Predators, except for maybe Ray Emery, and despite his solid effort in Philadelphia last season, I think between injuries and past locker room antics he's not worth the risk. So it looks like a season where we see who of Varlamov, Neuvirth AND Holtby the Caps likely goaltender of the future is and if that doesn't work out look for them to go out and get some "heavy hitter" at the trade deadline. Personally that's why all things considered I'd seriously try and get Theo to take a 1 year/$2.5M deal this next season or maybe Dan Ellis for $2.5-3.0M/year for two years. I don't see any of the three "youngsters" being "the guy" just yet.... So here's the rest of the UFA goaltender pool - there's a lot in it:

1) Jose Theodore, Washington, 2009-2010 Salary: $4.5M
2) Dan Ellis, Nashville, 2009-2010 Salary: $2.0M

a) Johan Hedberg, Atlanta, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.175M
b) Joey MacDonald, Anaheim, 2009-2010 Salary: $650K
c) Patrick Lalime, Buffalo, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.0M
d) Manny Legace, Carolina, 2009-2010 Salary: $500K
e) Vesa Toskla, Calgary, 2009-2010 Salary: $4.0M
f) Peter Budaj, Colorado, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.25M
g) Marty Turco, Dallas, 2009-2010 Salary:$5.7M
h) Alex Auld, Rangers, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.0M
i) Wade Dubielwwicz, Minnesota, 2009-2010 Salary: $600K
j) Yann Denis, New Jersey, 2009-2010 Salary: $500K
k) Martin Biron, Islanders, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.4M
l) Steve Valliquette, Rangers, 2009-2010 Salary: $725K
m) Ray Emery, Philadelphia, 2009-2010 Salary: $1.5M
n) Michael Leighton, Philadelphia, 2009-2010 Salary: $600K
o) Johan Backland, Philadelphia, 2009-2010 Salary: $800K
p) Brent Johnson, Pittsburgh, 2009-2010 Salary: $525K
q) Evgeni Nabakov, San Jose, 2009-2010 Salary: $6.0M
r) Chris Mason, Saint Louis, 2009-2010 Salary: $3.0M
s) Antero Nittymaki, Tampa Bay, 2009-2010 Salary: $600K

So if I were GMGM what would I do next now that first line center Nicklas Backstrom is under long term contract. Well in order:

1) Get Jeff Schultz under contract for another 3+ seasons. This past season I became a believer on Schultz. He's a solid position player and the confidence his teammates can have in his ability to be in the right place on the ice 95+% of the time, with a very active stick, as they say, "makes everyone around him a better player." He's basically now clearly a top four defenseman on just about every NHL roster and will clearly be resigned unless somebody is willing to make a very stupid offer sheet on him. I just don't see that happening so I'd try and get him and his agent in and the deal done now. I see Schultz costing between $1.75 and $2.25M/ season of Cap Space and being worth it. His minutes need to be increased from this years ATOI of 19:51 to ~ 21:00/21:30 to make him worth that but it's not a stretch or hard to see that happening.

2) Get Eric Fehr under contract for another 2-3 seasons. Fehr's another guy who made a believer of me this past season. Not coincidentally, his first full season as a Capital when he wasn't fighting the injury bug early and often. Last season Fehr was the Capitals best bargain when looking at his cost per even strength goal (just $42,875/goal - 9th best in the league). His Corsi numbers and his +18 +/- were solid; additionally he made the most of his ice time scoring 21 goals on the season with an average TOI of just 12:07. Assuming Fehr can stay in solid shape this summer and comes to camp healthy, vice recovering from surgery in both shoulders like he did last season, he should clearly have an even better year and play more than the 69 games he had this past season. He's only 25 so giving him a two year extension, or even a three year wouldn't be a bad thing to do, especially if both sides can and do agree to a reasonable and relatively Cap friendly deal. Since last season was really the first one, that Fehr delivered on the promise that the Caps felt justified using 1st round pick in the 2003, this ought to be something that can get done sooner rather than later.

3) Trade the Capitals rights to Tomas Fleischmann and trade John Erskine to get something in this summer's NHL Draft. "Flash" had a pretty good year, offensively ... he scored 23 goals and had 28 assists. He also was +9. He's worth something to some teams in the NHL. There are several who need offense. That's really not the Capitals. Further the Caps tried to see if he might be there answer as a second line center - that didn't work. Bottom line is he has talent and he needs ice time to further develop. That said here he should not have gotten the 16:02 ATOI he got, especially during the second half of the season. He needs to be moved to another team where he can get the ice time a top six forward should get but here in DC, he shouldn't get top six forward ice time again any time soon. John Erskine is a solid guy and reasonable #5 - #7 defenseman on many NHL rosters. That said the Capitals don't need a 30 year old guy filling that role and skating over 15 minutes a night when he plays. With John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Patrick McNiel, and others in the system and pipeline, they could use the roster slot as well as the $1.25M of salary cap space wiser. Moving Erskine is the right thing to do from the business perspective that Hockey has become. If that doesn't work they should let him pass through waivers and assign him to Hershey for the start of next season.

4) Resign either Brendan Morrison or Eric Belanger for an average cap hit of $1.75M/year or less and a term of not more than two seasons. At this point I want one of these two guys back. They really are the third line center and they could also play up at second line from time to time. They both have solid puck handling and possession skills and they both seem to be good teammates who work to execute the coaches' game plan. You can't afford both from a roster slot perspective but one of the two back would be a good thing. I'd say the most likely to come back with a Cap friendly deal that the Caps need given I'd be looking to use them as a third line center on a real third line that could score, is Morrison, but who knows, that's just wild ass speculation on my part, and I would indeed be happy with either from what I saw.

5) Sign Joe Corvo to a two or at longest three year deal with a salary cap hit of no more than $3.5M It took a while but by the end of the Montreal series Corvo was in the groove and the Caps had three solid defensive pairs with six guys any one of whom could join the rush and make an impact to differing degrees without putting the defensive end coverage at risk. Corvo was a solid trade deadline pickup and a clear upgrade from Brian Pothier who is likely still recovering form the injury he suffered during the 2008-2009 season. (When will the NHL make the required changes needed to reduce the risk of TBI for real? Seriously.... both the rules on the ice and the equipment needs to change. But I digress.) At $3.5M or less for a two year deal, I believe the 33 year old Corvo is the right guy to transition from Poti to Carlson as the number two minute munching stud here in Washington.

6) Sign Milan Jurcina to a one or two year deal with a Cap Hit of between $1.25 and $1.5M/year. I'd use Jurcina as the #5 - #7 guy on the Caps Blue line. I think he has more potential than some of the other choices and his price is more cap friendly.

7) I've said this before but I'll say it again as my final "if I were GMGM" pronouncement - see if I could sign either Jose Theodore or Dan Ellis to a one or two year deal for an average cap hit of $2.5M or less.

Assuming the "me in GMGM's skin/head did the aforementioned 7 items. Then since I can magically take over minds and bodies of NHL team staff members, I'd next take over Gabby's body and open the next season with a lineup as follows:

1st line: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble
2nd line: Semin - Laich - Fehr
3rd line: Alexandre Giroux - Morrisonn/Fehr - Chimera
4th line: Steckel - Mathieu Perreault - Bradley
Reserve: Jay Beagle, Quintin Laing, Kyle Wilson

1st pairing: Green - Schultz
2nd pairing: Poti - Carlson
3rd pairing: Corvo - Alzner
Reserve: Milan Jurcina, Tyler Sloan, Patrick McNeill

Jose Theodore or Dan Ellis
Semyon Varlamov
Reserves: Michal Neuvirth, Braden Holtby.

Through the season here's what I try and do if I'm Bourdreau:
1) Figure out which of Varlamov, Neuvirth or Holtby is indeed "the goaltender of the future." Sorry Varly but I think it's still a long way from decided and that's as it should be given the young ages of all three of the contenders for the title.
2) Work hard to figure out who of Alzner or Carlson is really ready to step into Tom Poti's ATOI of 21+ minutes a night once Corvo's gone at the end of the 2011-2012 season and start working them towards that goal the second half of the season so at the end of this season we can free up Poti's cap space to use to resign Alzner or a replacement if he isn't growing into the player we all think he can be.
3) Figure out if Laich as a second line center is the answer there. If he is look to sign him to an extension beyond the end of the season, also if he is and after his deal is done, assuming Semin continues to improve as he has this past season, figure out with GMGM if we can afford to keep him or really how to do that.
4) Through the first 40+ games of the season give more of the guys in Hershey a chance to show their stuff at the NHL level and figure out what to do with the full pipeline in some select positions to get a return and keep being able to replenish it.

So is it September yet? Seriously tonight's games should be fun to watch but I can think of one way that would sure make one of them more fun to me.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

First Conference Final Games Result In Chicago and Philadelphia Being Up 1-0

Wow, the Conference Finals have started, and to me the first games in each series were both somewhat surprising.

I wouldn't have figured the Western Conference finals to start off with a goaltender's duel but it did. Antti Niemi won the battle against Evgeni Nabakov and the San Jose Sharks. Niemi stopped 44 of the Shark's 45 shots on goal, while Nabakov only managed to stop 38 of the Blackhawk's 40 shots on goal. End result Blackhawks 2 - Sharks 1. Game 2 is in San Jose on Tuesday evening.

I also really wouldn't have figured that if the Eastern Conference finals started off with a shutout, the guy getting it would be Michael Leighton. Perhaps even more surprising to me was the one sided nature of the Flyers victory this evening. Tonight, the Flyers chased Jaroslav Halak out of the net before the end of the second period and they held Mike Cammalleri to just one (1) shot on goal. I guess I shouldn't have been all that surprised about Leighton's ability to get the shutout, the Flyers and Leighton have held opponets to a GAA of just 1.00 since Brian Boucher went down. The Canadiens helped the Flyers get off to a good start by taking a plethora of uncharacteristic undisciplined penalties. The Flyers capitalized on the Canadiens lack of discipline notching 2 power play goals on 6 opportunities while holding the Canadiens potent power play off the board in their 4 man advantage chances. End result Flyers 6 - Canadiens 0. Game 2 is in Philadelphia on Tuesday evening and I'm sure the Canadiens will make some changes/adjustments after that game.

Big news supposedly coming out at KCI tomorrow morning. Scuttlebutt is it's all about the Nicklas Backstrom contract extension. We'll see.

I just have one other thing --- is it September yet?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Looking At The Blackhawks - Sharks Matchup

Looking ahead to the start of the conference finals tomorrow I decided to look at the Blackhawks - Sharks match up.

First comparison - players head to head:

First Line:

Sharks: Marleau - Thorton - Heatley

Blackhawks: Byfuglien - Toews - Kane

One on one comparisons and musings:

Patrick Marleau vs. Dustin Buyfuglien

Marleau - regular season numbers: 82GP, 44 goals, 39 assists, +21, 22PIM, 12PPG, 4SHG, 6GWG, s%16.1.

playoff numbers: 10GP, 3 goals, 4 assists, -1, 8PIM, 1PPG, 0SHG, 2GWG, s%7.1.

Byfuglien - regular season numbers: 82GP, 17goals, 17 assists, -7, 94PIM, 6PPG, 0SHG, 3GWG, s%8.1.

playoff numbers: 12GP, 4 goals, 2 assists, -3, 12PIM, 2PPG, 0SHG, 1GWG, s%16.0.

Marleau gets the nod: No doubt that Byfuglien has raised his game for the playoffs but he's still -3 and has less potential to positively impact games on his own than Marleau. Further Marleau has averaged 4.2 SOG/game while "Big Buff" has averaged just 2.08 SOG/game so I think you have to give this match up to the Sharks.

Joe Thorton vs. Jonathan Toews

Thorton - regular season numbers: 79GP, 20 goals, 69 assists, +17, 54PIM, 4PPG, 1SHG, 2GWG, S%14.2.

playoff numbers - 11GP, 3 goals, 8 assists, -6, 16PIM, 1PPG, 0SHG, 1GWG, S%12.0.

Toews - regular season numbers: 76GP, 25 goals, 43 assists, +22, 47PIM, 9PPG, 1SHG, 3GWG, S%12.4.

playoff numbers - 12GP, 6 goals, 14 assists, +4, 2PIM, 4PPG, 0SHG, 2GWG, S%17.1

Toews has the edge. In the regular season they looked comparable, but here in the post season the Blackhawks Captain has raised his already excellent game while Thorton has played adequately and as expected, he really hasn't raised his game considerably, yet.

Dany Heatley vs. Patrick Kane

Heatley: regular season numbers - 82GP, 39 goals, 43 assists, +14, 54PIM, 18PPG, 1SHG, 9GWG, S% 13.9.

playoff numbers - 10GP, 2 goals, 9 assists, -3, 10PIM, 1PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%6.5.

Kane: regular season numbers - 82GP, 30 goals, 58 assists, +16, 20PIM, 9PPG, 0SHG, 6GWG, S%11.5.

playoff numbers - 12GP, 7 goals, 8 assists, +1, 4PIM, 1PPG, 1SHG, 0GWG S%20.6.

Kane gets the edge. Kane had a great regular season and has done nothing but raise his game here in the playoffs. Heatley is and has been solid but in truth in order to win this series, the entire Sharks first line likely needs to raise their game.

Overall edge goes to Chicago. So far in the playoffs the San Jose first line has been +/- negative while the entire Blackhawks first line has raised their game and the only one in +/- negative territory is Big Buff at -3. Further both Toews and Kane are at 0.5+ goals/game while Byfuglien is at 0.33 goals/game. The San Jose first line is led by Marleau at 0.3 goals per game ans a combined 0.258 goals/game for all three players.

Second Line:

Sharks: Clowe - Pavelski - Setoguchi

Blackhawks: Kopecky - Sharp - Hossa

Ryane Clowe vs. Tomas Kopecky

Clowe: regular season numbers - 82GP, 19 goals, 38 assists, +/-0, 131PIM, 2PPG, 0SHG, 2GWG, S%10.1

playoff numbers - 11GP, 2 goals, 8 assists, +5, 12PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%6.3.

Kopecky: regular season numbers - 74GP, 10 goals, 11 assists, +/-0, 28PIM, 1PPG, 0SHG, 2GWG, S%10.5.

playoff numbers - 11GP, 3 goals, 1 assist, +2, 4PIM, 1PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%17.6.

Slight edge to Clowe. Clowe gets the slight edge mainly because of his impact on the ice with 8 assists and +5, as well as his 32 SOG so far in the playoffs versus Kopecky's numbers and 17SOG.

Joe Pavelski vs. Patrick Sharp

Pavelski: regular season numbers - 67GP, 25 goals, 27 assists, +1, 26PIM, 3PPG, 1SHG, 5GWG, S%11.0.

playoff numbers - 11GP, 9 goals, 6 assists, +7, 6PIM, 5PPG, 0SHG, 3GWG, S%17.3%

Sharp: regular season numbers - 82GP, 25 goals, 41 assists, +24, 28PIM, 4PPG, 2SHG, 4GWG, S%9.1.

playoff numbers - 12GP, 5 goals, 9 assists, +2, 10PIM, 2PPG, 1SHG, 1GWG, S%11.4%.

Tight call - give the edge to Pavelski, Joe Pavelski has raised his game and his 9 post season goals including 3 game winners vs. Patrick Sharp's 5 post season goals of which 1 is a game winner gives him the edge at the start of this series.

Devin Setoguchi vs. Marian Hossa

Setoguchi: regular season numbers - 70GP, 20 goals, 16 assists, +/-0, 19PIM, 8PPG, 0SHG, 4GWG, S%12.1.

playoff numbers: 11GP, 5 goals, 3 assists, +5, 4PIM, 1PPG, 0SHG, 1GWG, S%11.4

Hossa: regular season numbers - 54GP, 24 goals, 27 assists, +24, 18PIM, 2PPG, 5SHG, 2GWG, S%12.1.

playoff numbers - 12GP, 2 goals, 8 assists, +5, 19PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 1GWG, S%5.6.

Slight edge to Setoguchi. It's hard to go against Hossa, after all as his 5 regular season SHG attest, he is one of the best talents in the game today. However the post season numbers clearly say the current edge and guy having more positive impact to his team so far this post season is Setoguchi, so you have to give him the edge right now.

Overall edge for the 2nd line goes to San Jose. Basically this is the opposite story as the one on the first line. Chicago's second line needs to step it up, though clearly for San Jose to win, their second line needs to continue to play the elevated game they have displayed so far this post season as well.

Third Line:

Sharks: Coutoure- Malhotra-Mitchell

Blackhawks: Ladd - Bolland - Versteeg

Logan Couture vs. Andrew Ladd

Coutoure: regular season numbers - 25GP, 5 goals, 4 assists, +4, 6PIM, 1PPG, 0SHG, 1GWG, S%11.9.

playoff numbers - 11GP, 3 goals, 0 assists, +2, 2PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 1GWG, S%23.1.

Ladd: regular season numbers - 82GP, 17 goals, 21 assists, +2, 67PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 1GWG, S%11.5

playoff numbers - 12GP, 1 goal, 1 assist, -2, 8PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%6.3.

Edge goes to 21 year old Logan Couture. Coutore has managed to play solid hockey both in his 25 regular season games as well as during his 8 post season games, while Ladd hasn't been much of a factor at all post season though his regular season numbers and effort shows he has the ability to deliver the goods as a solid third liner and could be a factor if he steps things up though Coutoure's 8 goals in 34 games puts him just about on a 20 goal regular season and seems to indicate he's in San Jose to stay.

Manny Malhotra vs. Dave Bolland

Malhotra: regular season numbers - 71GP, 14 goals, 19 assists, +17, 41PIM, 2PPG, 0SHG, 4GWG, S%12.6.

playoff numbers - 11GP, 1 goal, 0 assists, +/-0, 0PIM, 1PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%3.3.

Bolland: regular season numbers - 39GP, 6 goals, 10 assists, +5, 28PIM, 1PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%11.5.

playoff numbers - 12GP, 3 goals, 4 assists, -1, 18PIM, 1PPG, 1SHG, 1GWG, S%18.8.

Slight edge goes to Bolland. Manny Malhotra is one of the 7 forwards the coach Todd McLellan gives a fair amount of ice time, and his ability in the faceoff circle as well as his solid two way play is the reason why. However so far in the post season Dave Bolland has made a much greater positive impact and contribution to his team's results.

Torrey Mitchell vs. Kris Versteeg

Mitchell: regular season numbers - 56GP, 2 goals, 9 assists, +6, 27PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%3.4.

playoff numbers - 11GP, o goals, 4 assists, -4, 2PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%0.

Versteeg: regular season numbers - 79GP, 20 goals, 24 assists, +8, 35PIM, 4PPG, 3SHG, 4GWG, S%10.9.

playoff numbers - 12GP, 3 goals, 3 assists, -2, 6PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 2GWG, S%9.4.

Versteeg by a wide margin. Kris Versteeg is far and away a greater impact player than Torrey Mitchell and so far this post season his 2 game winning goals is one more than all three Shark third liners combined and his average TOI is significantly greater than either Mitchell's or Coutoure's.

Overall edge for the third line goes to Chicago by a visible margin. If this series comes down to "the grinders", especially the third liners, unless Manny Malhotra steps up his game in a big way and Torrey Mitchell has at least two or three career best games, San Jose will be in for a tough challenge. If it comes down to that, such a challenge that their blue line corps and goaltender will find difficult to rise to.

Fourth Line:

Sharks: McGinn -Nichol - Helminen

Backhawks: Eager - Madden - Burrish

Jamie McGinn vs. Ben Eager

McGinn: Regular Season Numbers - 59GP, 10 goals, 3 assists, -3, 38PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 2GWG, S%13.2

playoff numbers - 11GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, +1, 8PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%0.

Eager: Regular Season Numbers - 60GP, 7 goals, 9 assists, +9, 120PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 2GWG, S%10.3.

playoff numbers - 8GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, -1, 8PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%0.

It's basically a draw, neither McGinn or Eager have made that big an impact in the post season and as far as potential goes, Eager's edge in +/- is counterweighted by his 120 PIM, other than that their numbers are pretty similar. Eager's got more experience but his performance in 27 NHL post season contests has so far been uninspired. Basically on a college grading scale you'd give these guys both an incomplete.

Scott Nichol vs. John Madden.

Nichol: regular season numbers - 79GP, 4 goals, 15 assists, +/-0, 72PIM, 0PPG, 1SHG, 0GWG, S%4.3.

playoff numbers - 11GP, 1 goal, 1 assist, +/-0, 17PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%5.6.

Madden: regular season numbers - 79GP, 10 goals, 13 assists, -2, 12PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%7.9.

playoff numbers - 12GP, 1 goal, 0 assists, -3, 0PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%6.7.

Another draw and this one is even closer than McGinn vs. Eager.

Dwight Helminen vs. Adam Burish

Helminen: regular season numbers - 4GP, 1 goal, 0 assist, -1, 0PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%100.

playoff numbers - 7GP, 1 goal, 0 assist, +/-0, 4PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%20.0.

Burish: regular season numbers - 13GP, 1 goal, 3 assists, +2, 0PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%11.1.

playoff numbers - 8GP, 0 goals, 0 assists, -2, 0PIM, 0PPG, 0SHG, 0GWG, S%0.

Edge here to Helminen. While Helminen hasn't made much of his 7 playoff games in San Jose, Burish has been invisible in his 8 playoff games this season so far.

All the above said, if the series relies on the fourth liners to make a difference it's hard to give too much of an edge to San Jose. I say this because of the paltry amount of TOI that San Jose's fourth has gotten of late. So right now I call the fourth line overall a toss-up.


San Jose: Rob Blake, Dan Boyle, Kent Huskins, Niclas Wallin, Douglas Murray, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and Jason Demers.

Chicago: Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell, Nicklas Hjalmarsson, Jordan Hendry, Brent Sopel.

Throughout the playoffs so far San Jose has allowed an average of 2.54 goals against per game on an average of 28.1 shots against per game while Chicago has allowed an average of 2.75 goals against on an average of 28.1 shots against per game. Also, you have to take into account that Chicago played Vancouver after opening up the playoffs against Nashville, while San Jose opened against Colorado before playing the second round against Detroit. While San Jose's total average goals against is 2.54, they allowed and average GAA of 3.4 against Detroit while Chicago held Vancouver's potent offense to an average GAA of 1.833.

The edge for the defense corps goes to Chicago by a visible margin at this moment.


Evgeni Nabakov vs. Antti Niemi

Nabakov: regular season numbers - 71GP, 44W, 16L, 10 OTL SV%0.922, GAA 2.43

playoff numbers - 11GP 8W, 3L, SV% 0.907, GAA 2.43.

Niemi: regular season numbers - 39GP, 26W, 7L, 4OTL, SV%0.912, GAA 2.25

playoff numbers - 12GP, 8W, 4L, SV% 0.909, GAA 2.57.

Another toss-up though if you had to pick right now I wouldn't bet against the veteran Nabakov.

What's all this mean? To means this series is going at least 6 if not 7 games and it's likely too close to call. The reason they play these games on the ice will be to see if the San Jose 1st line will return to above regular season form and Evgeni Nabokov will continue to outplay the opposing goaltender while the 2nd line continues to play as it has for the first two series and the defense continues to play solid hockey; or will Chicago's Antti Niemi and their second line raise their game while the rest of the Blackhawks play as they have so far throughout the playoffs. The answers to those questions will likely decide the series. If all that happens, then it might come down to depth and in that case you have to like Chicago's edge on the third line unless they falter. So once again - no predictions, anything could happen in this one, but it does seem likely it will be a fun series to watch.

I'll take a look at the Canadiens - Flyers match-up but probably not until they've already played their first game. So I'll give you the BLUF - Bottom Line Up Front - once again anything can happen. Neither the #8 seed Canadiens and the #7 seed Flyers were suppossed to be here. Now they both enter the Eastern Conference Finals playing solid team hockey with a lot of confidence. I'll give a minor edge to the Canadiens, for no other reason than Jaroslav Halak's solid play. However, the Flyers comeback win in game 7 of the Bruins Series where they scored four (4) unanswered goals was just tremendously impressive so again it's a really a toss-up with some amazing storylines starting with French-Canadian Simon Gagne playing with a broken foot, to Hal Gill vs. Chris Pronger though I don't know how often they will be on the ice at the same time.

Hey one last thing for us Capitals fans - Is it September yet?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Well The NHL Conference Finals Are Set...

Well the NHL Conference finals are set ... in the West it's (1) San Jose vs. (2) Chicago and in the East it's (7) Philadelphia vs. (8) Montreal. Tonight in Boston, the Philadelphia Flyers became the first team in thirty-five (35) years to come back from being down 3-0 in a best of seven series and win. The Flyers also had to come back from being down 3-0 to win with 4 unanswered goals and beat the Bruins tonight. That's pretty amazing, at least to me.

So now on Sunday, the Blackhawks travel to San Jose to take on the Sharks and the Canadiens travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers. One thing I'm pretty sure about right now, is the Flyers didn't plan on having home ice advantage for any of their playoff series this year. It's just been that sort of strange year in the the Eastern Conference playoffs. Funny thing is the way the Flyers and the Canadiens are playing right now, whoever wins their series is likely to give the eventual Western Conference champion a run for their money.

All that aside, I just have one question right now ...

Is it September yet?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

More Playoff Musings and A Few Caps Musings As Well....

Well about last night....

1) Canadiens 4 - Penguins 3. If you're a Caps fan, you are probably heartened by the fact that Montreal played great last night and have again forced one of the best teams in hockey this season to a game 7. I know I was hapopy about it, a) it was a fun game to watch, and b) well, it's petty, but the Penguins lost. Seriously, the Canadiens won last night's game, the Penguins didn't loose and they did it the way they beat the Caps in the first round of the playoffs this year. The three stars of the game tell the story: 1) Mik Cammalleri - 2 goals, 5 SOG, +2, oh and it seemed every one of his 27 shifts on the ice he gave himself a chance to make an impact; 2) Jaoslav Spacek - you read that one right, 1 goal, 2 SOG, +1, oh and 3 blocked shots; 3) Jaroslav Halak - SV% 0.919 including as has become usual when the Habs win, some really clutch ones. Mark's honorable mention - Josh Gorges with 6 blocked shots and Hal Gill who seemed to draw the most time against the Penguins when both Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby were on the ice together. A clearly driven and determined Crosby was held to 1 goal and 1 assist (+1) while Malkin was pointless and -1 on the night. Assuming this series continues the way it has for the first 6 games, the only prediction I'm willing to make for Wednesday's game 7 is it's going to be a really good game to watch.

2) Flyers 4 - Boston 0. Yes you read that right. Boston had a chance to end the series in 5 games at home in TD Garden last night. If you're a Bruins fan, you are probably shaking your head today, hell, if you're a Flyers fan you are probably doing so as well. At the conclusion of last night's game, the Flyers once again had a different goaltender in net than started the series and the game. Once again this season, a Flyers goaltender was injured and taken out of the game in a hockey injury that will no doubt be shown countless times on NHL Network, and at least twice on ESPN's SportsCenter. Early in the second period, with the Flyers clinging to a 1-0 lead, Bruins Center Marc Savard looking to create some momentum for his team, charged hard to the net and generated a quality scoring chance which Flyer Goalie Brian Boucher stopped but then ended up bending completely backward, pinning his own left leg beneath his body. In typical playoff fashion, Bruin Winger Miro Satan was battling just in front of the net with Flyer Defenseman Ryan Parent to be there for any rebound (there was none) and they toppled into Boucher. I didn't watch the game but I've watched the replay several times and well ... OUCH! Clean play, tough, tough break for the Flyers, according to the recap on NHL.Com Boucher will undergo an MRI today and probably be out a couple of weeks. Speaking of Flyers' goaltenders who are or have been out a couple of weeks, in another weird storyline to the 2010 playoffs, Flyer goaltender Michael Leighton was on the Flyer bench last night as backup after returning from being out a couple weeks with a high ankle sprain. Leighton came in for the injured Boucher and stopped all 14 shots on goal he faced, giving the Boucher/Leighton pair a combined shutout of the Bruins. Meanwhile in front of Boucher/Leighton, the Flyers played a very solid game and put up four goals to the Bruins ... none ... to make the series 3-2 Bruins and heading back to Philly for game 6 on Wednesday evening. So another pretty exciting hockey game with interesting story lines to follow.

All things considered, nah I won't say it till or even think it any more until Thursday morning...

Some's Cap's musings. Last week Homer McFan Boy posed five questions, he believes the Caps must answer this off season/coming season. Here's my answers and thoughts to those five questions.

1) Does Alex Ovechkin need to change? After the Canadiens series, Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges was quoted as saying Ovechkin has become predictable: "When he's coming in off wing, he'll try to step to the middle and shoot through you, you can bait him into that." Well to a guy who sits in Section 103 for so many home games, that's really not news. Other than agreeing with Homer that Hal Gill's comments in the same interview prove, Gill isn't the fastest guy on his feet in an interview, there's not much to say about the predictability of that move. It is indeed patented Ovechkin and he does use it a lot. Surely in a seven game series Gill, Jorges, Markov, and Spacek all came to know it was coming. The difference to m e this past series is for games 1 through 6, Ovie wasn't as physical as he has been in the past. Further, unlike during the regular season, the rest of the Canadiens also were glued to there men like white on rice - give the Canadiens team defense their due. Through all 13 of the playoff games the Canadiens been in so far this season, except for maybe game 1 against the Penguins, the Canadiens team defense has been in my estimation, truly exceptional. What did that mean, well, if as they often did, Gorges and/or Gill had played and maintained solid position on Ovechkin, since he didn't usually have an open guy to pass to, he was left with nothing else that made sense, given his fast paced north-south game, but to try to use the defender as a screen. The other thing that Gorges in particular, did well it seems to me is he forced Ovechkin to do that move 5-7 feet further out from the net than he usually does during the regular season. Given the way Halak has been playing a seeing the puck, the combination was "relatively"effective. I say "relatively" in quotes because even with all that great read on Ovechkin he did manage to score 10 points (5 goals and 5 assists) in a seven game series, though in the interest of full disclosure, we do have to admit, he was held to just 1 goal and 1 assist in the final three games of the series. So does Ovechkin need to change, sure a little, but the truth is when Bruce Boudreau and company watch those tapes other adjustments will need to be made by the other four players who are going to be on the ice with Ovie in the future as well. I say this because the Caps coaching staff won't be the only ones watching how Jacques Martin and the Canadiens approached playing the Capitals. Oh and after last night, ditto on how they approached and played the Penguins, regardless of who wins that game 7.

2) Are Semin and/or Green part of the problem or the solution? This is such a dumb question, further I couldn't disagree more with Homer's conclusion. I have to ask, why do people think Alexander Semin is "a head case"? What has he done to cause this reaction. I watch him, he is supremely talented. Each year he gets better and better. Each year he matures and makes fewer foolish mistakes, takes fewer foolish penalties and becomes a more complete hockey player. His stick handling and puck management skills are clearly some of the best in the world today. From my perspective, when I see Semin make a mistake most of the time now, the thought that goes through my mind is: "That would have worked if the guy you were trying to get the puck to was yourself, Ovechkin, or Backstrom, Alexander but it was ...." To be fair often those plays do work out if the name is also either Fehr, Green or Laich as well, anybody else and if Semin doesn't think the play through and gear down his creativity the other Capital he's trying to get the puck to is a step behind. The issue to me isn't and hasn't been that Semin is a head case, it's that the Capitals haven't had the right pivot man for the second line. I thought that Brendan Morrison might be it, and frankly if the Caps could resign him and he could stay healthy all year he might be the right pivot in the middle of a second line between Laich and Semin. Anotherpossibility in my mind is to make Laich the pivot of the second line and move Semin to left wing with Fehr on the right side. So to me clearly Semin is part of the answer/solution. pushing off/dealing the 13th highest scoring player in the league for a defender who doesn't fit at all with the system the Capitals are playing and will likely continue to play just doesn't make sense. Further, I don't think Semin has a problem or issue going to the net when it makes sense to do so and if he's on a line with Fehr and Laich two guys who do that routinely, there will be someone there to pick up his loose change and increase the 44 assists he had this past season.

Mike Green will be 25 in October this year. He is already an All Star, and Norris finalist who is compared to and categorized with the best guys at his position. So yeah, I think he's part of the solution/answer going forward for sure. By the way Homer, interesting points you make in your defense of Green and Boudreau, did you happen to notice when you were examining and criticizing Alexander Semin that he's only 26? Seriously, this question will be asked and debated relative to both these guys by we DC Metro sports fanatics since as Homer points out, the Redskins have picked up Donavan McNabb and we can't focus on Jason Campbell, and since Semin and Green are both highly paid athletes, fans will feel it's only right and fair to be overly critical of them. However, I contend neither Green or Semin would have a hard time at getting another NHL team to give them similar contracts that pay them like salaries to what the Caps are currently giving them tomorrow. Further they know the Caps system and their teammates and they are both getting better and maturing every year as hockey players.

3) Who will play Center? That will be Bruce Boudreau's decision but as I alluded to above here's who I'd use/play as Centers: first line: Nicklas Backstrom (who will get a big raise this off season and is the best available RFA at this and possibly any position this off season); second line - I'd either resign Brendan Morrison and I don't think the Caps will do that or move Brooks Laich over to Center the Second Line; third line: either David Steckel or resign Eric Belanger; fourth line: either David Steckel or Boyd Gordon. What about Fleischmann - he's either a wing or someone I consider trading this off season. I don't think the "experiment" with him as a pivot worked in critical times, he was caught out of position too often at those critical junctures.

4) Who is in net opening night next season? This is probably Homer's best question and discussion item in his post. I basically agree and have the same thoughts and questions as Homer does on this point. I'll go further, I would have started Jose Theodore in game 7 against the Habs after Varly's game 6 showing. In game 6 and 7 Varly had a SV% of less than 0.900 so that's why I feel Homer's points and questions are right on. Further, while there is no doubt the right decision was made as to pulling Theodore in game 2 after his 2 goals on 2 SOG, if he had been given the start in game 7 we'd know the answer to this question. Now, perhaps he didn't look good in practice between games or something else but I'm left wondering what he might have done in game 7. Clearly Varly played well enough in game 5 for the Caps to win, if Halak hadn't been super-human on that night, but game 6, not so much. In the end, though unless Theodore is ready to take a pay cut, I don't see the Capitals resigning him, though they could for 1 year; I also don't see him taking a one year deal. That said if you were and NHL GM and going to make a hard run at an RFA or UFA goaltender this off-season, you'd have to look at Jaroslav Halak as well as Carey Price, Michael Leighton, Dan Ellis and possibly Chris Mason, Vesa Toskla and Evegeni Nabakov, if you are willing to spend some real money for the position in addition to Theodore. So who knows given the numerous UFA and RFA goaltenders available maybe Theo will be willing to take a pay cut and come back to the Caps. He's certainly proven to be a great teammate and when he's on, he's still one of the best around. All that said, my guess at the answer to the question is Semyon Varlamov.

5) After such heartbreak, will Caps fans turn their backs on the team? Like Homer, I agree - dumb question, since it's phrased "Will Caps fans..." However, the lack of any further meaningful coverage of the rest of the NHL playoffs in the local MSM since the Caps were eliminated also makes it really fair to point out that this is a reason why the discussion of "Is DC a hockey town?" pretty silly too. Of course with rare exceptions there really aren't any true "hockey towns" in the United States by that measure except for perhaps Detroit. What not New York you ask. Well when you have multiple Daily Newspapers for the print media and a population of 12,000,000+ it's hared not to have a reasonable fan base however I respectfuly submit a comparison to the total MSM coverage of the Rangers, Devils and Islanders combined doesn't equal either any of the following individual teams: Yankees, Giants, Mets, or Jets. As such, while both the Devils and the Rangers have solid fan bases, it's hard to call NYC a hockey town. As for Pittsburgh - ditto the Steelers vs. Pens but they are closer. As for Philly, while the Flyers have a rabid fan base, I grew up in Philly, playing hockey and was there for the Broad Street Bullies era - lots of folks in Philly love the Flyers but they are a distant third in the citizens of the City of Brotherly Love's hearts to the Eagles and the Phillies, and likely always will be. All that said, I expect the series of sellouts to continue at Verizon Center for the foreseeable future and DC now, once again, has a solid fan base for the Capitals.

Is it September yet?

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Been a Week and a Half, So...About Those NHL Playoffs

So about those NHL playoffs, with the Washington Capitals , "my team," out of the playoffs, I confess I haven't been as diligent as I might otherwise have been at watching hockey over the past "few days." Like many others, I had to get over my disappointment, then I had to catch up on things other than hockey since watching the Caps can no longer be my catch-all excuse for procrastinating. Then I ... well then I started watching and following some of the remaining games. To be fair I find the match-ups for this round of the playoffs pretty inter4sting. There are numerous interesting story lines from how the Flyers persist being competitive even though they are plagued with injuries, to "Will Halak and Montreal be able to put together another four games in the next seven against the Pens like he did against the Caps?" to "Will this year be San Jose's year?" to "Just how good are the Blackhawks anyway?"... like I said lots of interesting stories to follow.

All that said let's review and catch-up on our musings. Here's where things stand, from my perspective this Monday Morning on May 10th.....

San Jose vs. Detroit - It's over for Detroit and like I said, we are left to wonder ... "Is this San Jose's year?" Certainly, except for Game 4, San Jose made a statement and controlled the series. Now the Sharks have to wait and see if Chicago can finish off Vancouver, or if BobbyLou and the Canucks can pull off a comeback like the Habs did against the Caps.

Vancouver vs. Chicago - This is one, that in my opinion could go either way. For the Blackhawks to win, in my opinion, they need Niemmi to have a very solid game in one of the next two, preferably now in game six, since if it goes seven games, as we Caps fans know well, anything can happen. I wouldn't bet against either team in this series, just too much talent on the ice for both teams. I think it'll probably go seven games and on that score, the Sharks have to be happy since it gives them even more to watch and study about both prospective next opponents.

Boston - Philadelphia - Watching this one is a real heart breaker for us Caps fans, eh? Boston leads 3-1 and once again you have to believe that Boston will finish this one out before the end of game 6. As long as Boston keeps scoring 3 or more goals per game (which they have in all 4 games so far) you have to believe the Bruins will win. The boys from beantown almost came back and won it on Saturday. Will the Flyers hang on again on Wednesday evening in Boston or will the Eastern Conference match ups be all settled at the end of the Penguins - Canadiens game 7?

Speaking of which Pittsburgh vs. Montreal - The 8th seeded Habs are once again proving tough for a supposedly much better team to beat 4 out of 7 times. Like the Caps - Canadiens series, the Penguins - Canadiens series is proving to be some excellent ice hockey to watch. The Penguins lead the series 3-2 with Game 6 tonight in Montreal. If the Habs win, that will force a game 7 in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Each team has already proved they can win on the opponents home ice and other than the game 1 6-3 Penguins victory, against a Canadiens team that had no rest after their game 7 win over the Capitals, the games have been close and hard fought. Expect the same the tonight, and if necessary in game 7. Right now I'm betting this goes 7 games. As a Caps fan, I'm also rooting for the Canadiens. LETS GO HABS!!!

In the West, I think I'm already on record, but I'm rooting for San Jose..... I'm also rooting for SEPTEMBER!!! How about y'all?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Who Would Have Thought...

Who would have thought that I of all people would be posting a link to this article by one Larry Brooks of the New York Post as one of, if not the best, post 2009-2010 articles on what the Caps Management should keep in mind and think about this off-season? I'm pretty sure Satan is now sipping on his second Frozen Pina' Colada of the day....