The 2014 NHL Winter Classic has been officially (re)announced, and so have the jerseys each team will wear for both the main event and the alumni game. Not everyone appears to be as enthusiastic about the choice for the New Year’s Eve alumni game’s uniforms as Gary Bettman does.
The jerseys for the real teams will wear on New Year’s Day are, on the other hand, phenomenal. The potential 100,000+ fans in attendance at Michigan Stadium will be far happier to see Toronto in these ones — both of Detroit’s look sharp.
Also announced was the return of HBO’s 24/7 series, this year following both the Leafs and Red Wings behind the scenes as a lead up to the Winter Classic game. I still would love to see HBO place this amount of cinematic drama on the Stanley Cup Final — which is far more important than the mid regular season game that the WC is — but my opinion continues to fall upon deaf ears. Either way, I love this show, and I’m glad HBO stayed on board post-lockout to put it back on the air.
Also reported (albeit not confirmed) by multiple sources was that an outdoor game (assumably the Winter Classic) in 2014 will be played — get this — in Los Angeles. You know, a place where people tired of being cold retreat to in order to escape the most necessary ingredients for outdoor ice hockey — cold and ice. It seems environmentally impossible, but Dodger Stadium is apparently getting a $100 million face-lift, so who knows what it’ll be capable of. Seems like an odd thing to lie about, but I’ll wait for confirmation from the NHL before I believe it. If it’s true, I sure am pumped for the LA Kings.
Reports also hint at the return of the Heritage Classic, to be played at a Canadian venue.
While all those games were be announced as happening, looks like the NHL’s Europe Premier games for 2013 have been dealt the opposite fate — reports say 2013-14′s version of the across the pond games are out, with much discussion to be had on the NHL’s future international presence.
If you’re still looking for Christmas gifts for the hockey fan on your list, or are just generally hockey starved during the current NHL lockout, the 24th installment of Don Cherry’s Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Hockey series is sure to satisfy.
Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em 24 features a pile of fantastic video montages from the 2011/12 NHL season, the ever hilarious “piano desk”, the year’s best saves (feature on Martin Brodeur) and goals (feature on Steve Stamkos), plenty of regular speed and slow-motion hits, Don mentioning “trolley tracks”, bloopers, some vintage Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em techno and Cherry rapping, Don mentioning how many NHLers he saw play as kids (Tavares, Stamkos), Don mentioning players from Kingston, Ontario (Mike Smith), Don wearing a top hat and supporting fighting in hockey, Coach’s Corner commentaries (featuring classic opinion pieces like, “Kids, if you ever really want to get benched…”, and “Why do they never run Tim Thomas?”), and all the best highlights from every round of last year’s playoffs.
It’s really a fantastic highlight tape, and everything you’ve come to expect from Don Cherry. In the words of Don himself, it’s a beauty. This is a no brainer! Pick up a copy today. cbcshop.ca and other retailers will hook you up.
Below is the official press release:
No Lockout For Rock’em Sock’em!
Canada’s most controversial and outspoken hockey personality, Don Cherry, brings his brash brand of hockey to his 24th DVD with the release of Don Cherry’s Rock’em Sock’em Hockey 24 from Video Services Corp (VSC). This year’s release features the first “Blue”-ray in the Don Cherry catalogue, endorsed by Don’s ever-present terrier companion, Blue.
“I’m glad to be working with a good Canadian studio in VSC,” said Executive Producer
Tim Cherry, “we’re not pulling any punches this year!”
The release includes Coach’s Corner segments and all the best goals, saves and hits from the 2011-2012 season, right up to (spoiler alert!) the Los Angeles Kings’ historic Stanley Cup win. Bonus features will include extra footage from the Kings’ win on the Blu-ray, and vintage Rock’em Sock’em techno with Chris Sheppard on both formats.
Even Don himself is looking forward to the release, “I love doing Rock’em Sock’em. Players come up to me and tell me how they got Rock’em Sock’em as a gift every Christmas. They’ve grown up with it. It’s become a Christmas tradition in a lot of homes,” said Cherry, “This year’s is great, and we have lots of highlights from one of the best playoffs in years.”
The Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em series is Canada’s longest-running and best-selling DVD property. “We’re all huge hockey fans at VSC and we’re so excited to add Don Cherry to our catalogue – it’s a new chapter in VSC’s hockey history,” says VSC President Jonathan Gross, “Tim and Don create an exciting summary of the season and it’s time for an HD version to be available – that’s the only way to watch a hockey game these days!”
SRP: $19.98 | TRT: 70 min
Street Date: 13 November, 2012
UPC: 7-78854-19199-0 | Catalog: CHE1919
SRP: $24.98 | TRT: 70 min
Street Date: 13 November, 2012
UPC: 7-78854-19209-6 | Catalog: CHE1920
DVD Extras: Vintage Rock’em Sock’em techno with Chris Sheppard
Blu-ray Extras: Bonus footage from Kings’ win, vintage Rock’em Sock’em techno with Chris Sheppard
About Video Services Corp.
Founded in 1993 by former rock critic Jonathan Gross, Video Services Corp. is a leading independent DVD distributor with offices in Toronto and Los Angeles. With a vast catalogue strong in television, sports and comedy, some of VSC’s releases include Corner Gas, The WHA Chronicles, Comedy Now! Starring Russell Peters and Canada Cup ’87. Other 2012 releases from VSC include the second season of the hit series Portlandia and the theatrical film Union Square starring Oscar® winner Mira Sorvino. VSC also owns the e-commerce websites
sportonvideo.com, laffstock.com and jewishflicks.com.
Video Services Corp.
5145 Steeles Ave W, Suite A201, Toronto, ON, M9L 1R5
P: 416-597-8325 / 877-341-7577 F: 416-597-9142
www.videoservicecorp.com firstname.lastname@example.org facebook.com/videoservicecorp twitter.com/vidserv
After tough season, Paddock sets sights on Europe
FRIDAY, 22 JUNE 2012 02:00 DAVE CUNNING
Had things played out a little differently this past season, a former Kelowna Rocket could have had his name on the Stanley Cup this year.
Unfortunately for Cam Paddock, things didn’t quite work out that way.
Two years prior, he had appeared in 16 games with the St. Louis Blues, until being sent back to the AHL. This past season, it seemed Paddock had been given his second chance in the NHL.
Looks can be deceiving though, and the deal turned out to be too good to be true – L.A. released him two days later, and reassigned him to their AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs.
“They basically offered me the contract and cut me at the same time,” said Paddock. “I came back to Vancouver and mulled the offer over at home before I signed it.
“I jumped in my car and drove 52 hours out to Manchester the next day.”
After a strong showing at L.A.’s training camp, and a contract offer from them, Paddock felt he was lined up for a season ripe with opportunity with the Kings’ affiliate.
However, Paddock’s hope slowly dwindled. After scoring two goals, three assists for five points with 44 penalty minutes and a minus-10 rating in 39 games, Paddock seemed to be a fixture on the team’s fourth line.
“I thought that I had a really good training camp,” said Paddock, 29. “I was told certain things by L.A., got sent to Manchester and then had their coach looking at me like I was playing with the wrong-handed stick.
“I assumed I was going to be the same third-line centre that I had been the past four years that I’d played in the league, but it didn’t work out that way. The coaches were feeding me the ‘work hard and you’ll get your opportunity’ rhetoric you get told when you’re a 21-year-old starting out in pro hockey, and playing me on the fourth line. I haven’t done that in five years. It was discouraging. I already know how to work hard, and what kind of player I am.”
“On some teams, you can do no wrong in the eyes of the coach. On other teams, it seems you can do no right,” continued Paddock. “It was the latter in Manchester for me. That’s just how it goes sometimes. It was a weird year.”
Playing with the Monarchs did, however, offer him the chance to play with Dwight King (his older brother D.J. played with Paddock in Kelowna), Slava Voynov, Jordan Nolan and Andrei Loktionov – all whom were recalled by L.A. and were contributors to the Kings’ Stanley Cup victory.
“They were all very good players with a ton of NHL ability,” Paddock said. “Dwight’s a really good guy and probably an even better hockey player. Loktionov and Voynov are both super-skilled. Slava’s nickname was Slava-bomb because his slapshot is about as hard as they come. Jordan is one of the toughest kids I’ve ever seen in the AHL. I was happy to see them all get a chance to go up there, and do as well as they did.”
As good as they are, though, none of them are household names on the Kings’ roster. In fact, one could make the case that other Monarchs could have done as good of a job as those call-ups had they got the call instead.
“Sometimes it comes down to whether you had a good week, or if a certain person saw you play a good game somewhere,” Paddock said. “Those guys are their young draft picks that they are developing. They deserve it, they work hard.
“But as far as them getting a chance instead of me, it’s a pretty fine line when you get down to it. In a lot of cases, it’s youth and size more than anything, I’d say.”
Perhaps if Darryl Sutter, who replaced Terry Murray as L.A.’s head coach back in December, had seen Paddock in training camp, things might have worked out differently.
“I thought about that when he got the job,” said Paddock. “I don’t know if it would have really made a difference, but the Sutter brothers are from Western Canada, and I know Darryl had seen me play when he was with Calgary and I was with St. Louis. I’d like to think that maybe it would have helped me out. But in saying that, he had only come to L.A. in a coaching role rather than a managerial one.
“The best-case scenario for me with Sutter would have been him putting a bug in someone’s ear about me when I was down the depth chart in Manchester and not playing. I’m sure he had enough to worry about in L.A. and wouldn’t have been too concerned.
“It definitely worked out good for Colin Fraser, though, who played for Brent Sutter in Red Deer. When Darryl got there, he knew exactly what kind of player he was and he trusted him. Colin is a good player – I played against him all over and I respect him -Â but to be candid, I think he’s six of one and I’m half a dozen of the other.”
On Jan. 26th, Kings president Dean Lombardi released a statement saying Paddock’s contract had been terminated – freeing him to return to play in Germany’s DEL.
In 13 games with the Augsburger Panther, Paddock recorded three goals, five assists for eight points, plus 20 PIMs and a plus-five rating.
“For my career, I had to make a move,” Paddock said. “Going back to Europe became the best option for me. It sucks to say, but as far as the NHL goes, with as disappointing as the year was this year, I’m done with it.
“To have the experience I had in Manchester, you realize the team really has nothing invested in you. I’m happy I got my 16 NHL games in, but now I’m looking forward to playing more years in Europe. It’s a cool lifestyle, it’s a different culture and there’s opportunity to climb the ranks over there instead.
“I really liked Augsburger’s coach. He was a very honest guy that told me exactly what I was there to do and didn’t make any promises he didn’t keep. I got along with him well. I really liked the fans, and we had a good group of guys on the team. It will be a lot of fun going back to that, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Before signing his next overseas contract, Paddock will have to wait until the NHL’s CBA is worked out – the result of which will determine whether an import spot will be available for him, rather than a North American orphan looking for a European team. It’ll give him more time to ponder his future.
“If I could play for another five or six years, I’d be happy,” Paddock said. “But it has to make sense. I feel really good, I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been, and I still really like playing and being around the guys. Playing the game’s still fun for me, and that’s the main thing.”
Follow Cam Paddock on Twitter: Follow @CPads18
Wait, what happened? What day is it? What year is it? Where am I???
I think I blacked out — I was having the most amazing dream though….. I was dreaming that the LA Kings won the Stanley Cup…. but it couldn’t be…. they were the eighth seed in this year’s playoffs…. they’ve been bad or average at best since 1993 when they lost in the Finals…. they had to beat #1 seeded Vancouver, #2 seeded St. Louis, #3 seeded Phoenix, and then 3-time Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils and their future Hall-of-Fame goaltender…..
Wait, let’s watch this video and see if this really happened….
OMG THE KINGS REALLY WON THE STANLEY CUP
Besides my boyhood favorite team winning their first ever franchise Stanley Cup, highlights of this video include Anze Kopitar spinning around the Staples Center with a tilted crown and “California Love” by Dr.Dre & Tupac playing at the 42:43 mark, hearing Dean Lombardi tip his cap to Terry Murray and other builders of the team, seeing guys from the past like Luc Robitaille, Bernie Nichols, Ron Hextall, and of course Darryl Sutter get their hoist of the Cup, and my eyes getting a little misty at the 20:51 mark when the team picture is being taken and the chorus of U2′s “Beautiful Day” kicks in. Elementary school me would have come absolutely unglued. Adult version of me barely held it together. One can only imagine what would have happened if I’d seen Wayne Gretzky get another lift of Stanley.
It truly was a beautiful day.
[originally post for www.betonhockey.com on May 30/2012 ]
There’s a big fuss being made over the fact that, for only the second time ever, an American captain will be hoisting the Stanley Cup for his team first at the conclusion of this year’s playoffs. While it is an interesting statistic, it seems that the same people that are so concerned with captaincy nationality are uninterested in discussing the birthplaces of each of Dustin Brown and Zach Parise’s teammates that they are leading into battle; and less interested in talking about where the coaches that these captains are taking orders from, originate.
We should examine the origins of the remainder of each team’s roster to see exactly where our nationalistic allegiances should be strewn. Let’s do that now.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
The active roster of the Los Angeles Kings features 25 players – 15 of them are Canadian, 7 are American, 2 are Russian, and 1 is Slovenian. Add 1 Canadian if you count head coach Darryl Sutter. The Kings have more Canadians in their lineup than the Ottawa Senators, and as many as the Vancouver Canucks – the only two teams based in Canadian cities that made this year’s playoffs.
Representing Canada (60%): Jeff Carter, Kyle Clifford, Colin Fraser, Simon Gagne, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Dustin Penner, Mike Richards, Brad Richardson, Jarret Stoll, Kevin Westgarth, Justin Williams, Drew Doughty, Willie Mitchell, Jonathan Bernier (Darryl Sutter).
Representing the USA (28%): Dustin Brown, Trevor Lewis, Scott Parse, Matt Greene, Alec Martinez, Rob Scuderi, Jonathan Quick.
Representing Europe (12%): Slava Voynov, Andrei Loktionov, Anze Kopitar.
Assessment: Predominantly CANADIAN.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
The active roster of the New Jersey Devils also includes 25 players – 7 of them are Canadian, 7 are American, 4 are Swedish, 3 are Czech, 2 are Russian, 1 is Ukranian, and 1 is Lithuanian. Add 1 Canadian if you count head coach Peter DeBoer.
Representing Canada (28%): Steve Bernier, Eric Boulton, David Clarkson, Adam Henrique, Travis Zajac, Bryce Salvador, Martin Brodeur (Peter DeBoer)
Representing the USA (28%): Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta, Cam Janssen, Zach Parise, Mark Fayne, Andy Greene, Peter Harrold.
Representing Europe (44%): Patrick Elias, Jacob Josefson, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Petr Sykora, Dainius Zubrus, Adam Larsson, Henrik Tallinder, Anton Volchenkov, Marek Zidlicky, Johan Hedberg.
Assessment: Predominantly EUROPEAN.
If you’re basing your team allegiances upon the nationality content of each team, here’s how you should focus your cheering:
If you are Canadian, and want to cheer for Canadian players, you should be cheering for the LA Kings in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.
If you are American cheering for Americans, it’s your choice.
If you’re European cheering for Europeans, you should side with New Jersey.
[originally post for www.betonhockey.com on May 29th, 2012]
However unlikely it may have seemed at the beginning of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings and New Jersey Devils will meet in a seven game series to determine which team has earned the right to have their names etched on hockey’s greatest chalice.
I see the series boiling down to six main factors: goaltending, overtime, shots, scoring, special teams, and experience. Here’s a statistical rundown of how both teams have done in those categories up until now.
Jonathan Quick has had to appear in four less games than Martin Brodeur (14 to Brodeur’s 18), and has only felt the sting of losing twice, whereas Brodeur and the Devils have dropped five. Quick has also only had to be on the ice for 857:48 minutes of play, while Brodeur has had 1,089:40 – that’s 3 hours, 51 minutes, and 52 seconds more work than Quick has had to do. Quick also has 2 shutouts to Brodeur’s 1.
Quick remains perfect in overtime through two showings, while Brodeur has lost one of five appearances (game one of round two versus Philadelphia). Jarret Stoll and Dustin Penner of LA and Alexi Ponikarovsky, Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique (2) have been the overtime scorers.
Shots are scoring opportunities, and both teams will have to maximize and make the most of theirs if they are to beat either elite goaltender. Quick has faced 73 less shots than Brodeur (406/479), having to make less saves (384/442) and has let in 15 less goals (22/37), posting a better GAA (1.54%/2.04%) and save percentage (.946%/.923%) along the way. Zach Parise is second in the playoffs for shots (68) while Dustin Brown is LA’s leader (49). New Jersey’s Adam Larsson has 1 goal on 3 shots, for the highest shooting percentage of remaining players in the playoffs (33.3%), and Dwight King has LA’s best (25.0%), scoring 5 goals on 20 shots. LA has averaged slightly more shots on goal (32.9/30.4), but has given up slightly more shots against (29.0/27.6) on average.
Hockey ultimately comes down to scoring more goals than the other team, and the Kings have a slightly higher goals scored average (2.93/2.83) than the Devils; scoring 41 goals in 14 games to New Jersey’s 51 goals in 18 games. LA has also have let in significantly less goals per game on average (1.57/2.33) and in total (22/42).
Ilya Kovalchuk now leads the playoffs in points (18), but Dustin Brown is not far behind (16) and Anze Kopitar rounds out the Top 5 (15). Kovalchuk and Brown are tied with New Jersey’s Zack Parise and Travis Zajac for third in goals (7). Kovalchuk leads the playoffs in assists (11), while Brown, Kopitar, and LA’s Justin Williams all tie for second (9). Brown and Kopitar lead the playoffs in +/- (+13). Brown and New Jersey’s David Clarkson are tied for the playoffs lead in GWG with 3 apiece.
Interestingly, Martin Brodeur has tallied 4 assists through these playoffs, which is good enough for 88th overall in points. That ties him with LA’s Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene, and teammates Petr Sykora, Peter Harrold. It’s also better than 345 other players that are allowed to move outside of a 15’x28’ area every game; including LA’s Slava Voynov, Willie Mitchell, Jordan Nolan, Brad Richardson, Rob Scuderi, Alec Martinez, Colin Fraser, Kyle Clifford, and Andrei Loktionov, and New Jersey teammates Mark Fayne, Adam Larsson, Andy Greene, Anton Volchenkov, Jacob Joesefson, and Tim Sestito.
Special teams wise, New Jersey annihilates LA in power play percentage (18.2%/8.1%), and in power play goals scored (12 goals on 66 chances/6 goals on 74 chances). Ilya Kovalchuk leads the playoffs with 5 PPG, and LA’s best, Mike Richards, only has 2.
The Devils are outmatched on the penalty kill (74.2%/91.2%) though, giving up 16 goals on 62 penalty kill attempts, while LA has only given up 5 goals on 57. Being a man down almost doesn’t seem like a deficit for the Kings, as they’ve even managed to score 5 short-handed goals (Brown -2, Kopitar -2, Greene -1) and not give up any, while New Jersey has only mustered 1 (Salvador) and allowed 2.
The Kings have taken 80 penalties and received 196 PIM (including 4 majors and 3 misconducts) for an average of 14 PIM/G, while New Jersey has taken 77 penalties and 175 PIM (1 major and 2 misconducts), averaging 9.7 PIM/G. If averages hold true, it seems LA will have even less opportunity to improve on their one overbearing weakness. Their penalty kill prowess will have to remain impeccable if they are to continue defusing power plays, especially against a team that can score with the man advantage as often as New Jersey has. Dustin Penner has taken the bulk of LA’s PIM (26), and David Clarkson has the Devils’ highest total (20). Discipline would be in the best interest of both parties.
Advantage: New Jersey
When it comes to championship showdowns, Brodeur’s experience has resulted in 3 Stanley Cups and 2 Olympic gold medals — heads above all other individuals in this series. He also holds the NHL record for most shutouts in a Stanley Cup final (3 in 2003), amongst a slough of other NHL records and awards. Quick is only in his fifth NHL season to Brodeur’s more than 20; and Quick hasn’t won any awards or set any records to date, plus it’s only his third appearance in the playoffs. Quick is 26 years younger than the 40 year old Brodeur, though age hasn’t seemed to be a negative factor for the elder statesman… yet.
Teamwise, The Devils are 3-1 historically in the Stanley Cup Finals, while the Kings are 0-1. LA’s Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene have all appeared in a Stanley Cup final before… and lost. While winning the Stanley Cup is unquestionably every hockey player’s greatest motivation, players like those may be hungrier to not lose again, and to earn LA its first ever championship; whereas the satisfaction of winning is nothing new for the Devils, and may even be something that is taken for granted by them. Head to head this season, New Jersey won both meetings.
Advantage: New Jersey
By the six categories outlined, I have LA winning 3, New Jersey winning 2, and them drawing 1; thusly, by the numbers I have to give the Los Angeles Kings the nod for the Cup win. As early as June 6 and as late as June 13, we will see if the numbers game matters, or it doesn’t.
Predicted Stanley Cup Champions: LA Kings
It appears that since the LA Kings have been bad for so long, local Los Angeles TV stations have nearly no idea of what to do, say, or show on TV since they’ve become good at hockey again. It seems their graphic and sports departments had become so used to their irrelevance, they hadn’t felt the need to update the team’s displayed logo (or city location, or sport), or learn the proper pronounciations of the players it chooses to show highlights of. This trainwreck from Fox News 11 has the announcer talking about the the Kings’ game three victory over Phoenix, and saying something about some guys named Onjee Kopidoor, Brad Doty, and making references to the Kings having the ball and scoring touchdowns. To top it off, the highlight package concludes by showing the orange NHL logo that hasn’t been used in 7 years. The anchor, Liz Habib acknowleged her errors in a tweet, and then proceeded to apologize — whilst making another name pronounciation error (which she realized 6 hours later): Local media wasn’t even sure which Kings team was playing in town or even what sport they were competing in, as this graphic indicates a network displaying the NBA’s Sacramento Kings logo while referencing the LA hockey team in relation to the Lakers and Clippers. Hopefully this tweet from LA Kings twitter wasn’t their only tip-off: The goof led to a tweet and this televised apology from the network:
Fox 11 News also hasn’t felt the need to update the team’s logo since 1998, when the team last used this logo (glove bump to @vtecjunkie from Twitter for sending this one in to me):
And most recently, a new player named Jonathan Swift has joined the Kings, and is doing quite the job in goal:
In the meantime, the LA Lakers are doing their best to promote the Kings’ presence in town: Unfortunately, from the sounds of tweets from people inside the building, basketball fans aren’t quite as enthused (or aware) of their hockey playing counterparts:
Even in victory, KTLA can’t figure it out — the helicopter traffic reporter either thinks the Lakers won the Stanley Cup, or that the Lakers won the NBA title after being eliminated and the NBA Final not even being completed yet, or just doesn’t know what year it is. Either way, the Kings are the farthest LA sports team from his mind:
[originally post for www.betonhockey.com on May 2, 2012]
A puck bucket full of hockey thoughts to tee up….
Four of the eight teams remaining in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs have direct ties to Wayne Gretzky – The Great One played 18 games with the St. Louis Blues in 1996, 234 games with the New York Rangers from 1996 – 1999, coached 4 seasons for the Phoenix Coyotes from 2005 – 2009, and played 539 games with the LA Kings from 1988-1996, captaining them to their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance in franchise history. Had the Edmonton Oilers not been laughingly awful yet again this past season and lived up to hype and expectations, this could have been an all-Gretzky playoffs. Gretzky was known to have been vocal about wanting to win just one more Stanley Cup before he finished his career – is it that far-fetched to think that if one of those teams manages to win the Cup this year (there’s currently a 50% chance of that happening), Wayne might find a way to sneak on the ice and hoist the grail one last time?
Speaking of the Los Angeles Kings, they’re beginning to draw a lot of similarities to the underdog 2009-10 Montreal Canadiens – both entered the playoffs as the eighth seed of their conference, both eliminated the President’s Trophy winner of that season in the first round (Montreal beat Washington, Los Angeles ousted Vancouver), and both had/are having unexpected success in the second round (Montreal eliminating Pittsburgh, LA currently mauling St. Louis). The main difference though, is that it took Montreal 7 games to win both of those series – it only took the Kings 5 in the first round, and they are in the driver’s seat with a 2-0 series lead now. Of course, Montreal was beat in the third round, and LA’s playoff fate is not yet written. Los Angeles’ main criticism heading into this year’s playoffs was their inability to score – coming off a series sweep over St. Louis most recently, and with three players in the NHL’s top 25 playoff scorers (Brown, Kopitar, Richards), that ailment seems to be cured. Their goaltender remains a standout, and they’re shown their toughness is not an issue either, mixing it up frequently in both series. While both the Habs and Kings teams look similar, LA looks to be well on their way to faring far better.
A moment of discussion about a frame from game 2 of the Rangers/Capitals series…. The score was 3-1 Rangers with roughly 8 minutes to play in game 2, at which point Washington took a Too Many Men penalty. Caps’ coach Dale Hunter elected to have Alex Ovechkin serve that penalty. The announcer was quick to point out that Ovie’s serving of the penalty was a strategic move in hopes of springing him on a breakaway at the conclusion of the infraction, which is all well and good. My counterpoint to that is that on every team and every level I’ve played on, the player that generally went over to serve a bench minor penalty was an “expendable” player – maybe a fourth line or injured player, or just someone who wasn’t getting a lot of ice time for whatever reason that game, and it certainly wasn’t by any means because our coach had a strong confidence in their breakaway ability. So from that standpoint, it looks like Ovechkin may simply have been chosen for removal from participation in the game for 2 minutes when their team needed 2 goals really badly in a short amount of time if they hoped to win the game.
The chance of that breakaway opportunity actually occurring is relatively slim and more of a crapshoot; a hail mary play that is too low percentage to gamble on when the puck could just as likely be in a precarious scoring chance against Washington when the penalty expires. It seems like a positive spin a coach might pose to a psychologically fragile player that needs positive reinforcement to perform well so they don’t conclude that they are the team’s expendable player while sitting alone for two minutes or less. By the strategic logic, Hunter should have put Matt Hendricks, Washington’s shootout goal leader through the regular season, in the box for the opportunity at an uncontested run to the net.
It’s not like Hunter is afraid to clip Ovie’s wings if he’s not performing either– Ovechkin played 21 minutes in game 2 and was a -1 in the loss, while in game 3 he only saw 13 minutes of play (the least he’s ever played in a single playoff game), and scored the game winning goal. So the query point I want to raise is this: do you think Ovechkin serving that bench minor penalty was a strategic move for a chance at a scoring chance, or was it a knock towards his expendability and/or need to improve from coach Dale Hunter?
Further, the Caps should maybe consider making Ovechkin a dman if he’s only going to score from the point now.
The 2012 World Hockey Championships are nearly underway in Finland/Sweden, and the world’s “best” will be competing to improve their world rankings – Canada currently sits at fifth in the world, and will be looking to improve on that seeding with a decent roster, but one that does not include names like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Roberto Luongo, Joe Thornton, and many other big name players that are available, but have elected not to compete for reasons of varying legitimacy. With many national rosters in the same boat, is it even fair to place as much value on this tournament as there is? Is there no way that this tournament can be played out at a different time of year where all of the world’s best hockey players can compete against each other to determine the world’s best? Or is it possible that the world’s best hockey players simply aren’t taking the tournament seriously enough when they should be jumping at the chance to wear their county’s colors on the international stage?
by Peter Nygaard (follow him on Twitter)
We’ve already taken a look at the Eastern primaries, so now let’s examine the polls out West.
Vancouver Canucks (1) vs. Los Angeles Kings (8)
- The Issues:
Family Values — In the 1999 NHL Draft, Vancouver held the second and third picks in the first round. After drafting left-winger Daniel Sedin, the Canucks opted to use the third pick on his twin brother, center Henrik Sedin. The Canucks have played them almost exclusively on the same line throughout their entire collective career. When Henrik won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player in 2009-10, he was even considerate enough to get injured the next year, giving Daniel a chance to showcase his skills.
- Health and Fitness — Nobody asked to see Ryan Kesler buck naked in this year’s Sports Illustrated “Body Issue,” but that having been said, you can’t deny that the dude’s in good shape.
- Political Dirt:
The Canucks enjoy tremendous depth. Some teams have gone as far as accusing Vancouver of stealing its players when they were turned around. The NHL has yet to file a formal inquiry.
- Campaign Promises:
If elected, the Canucks promise not to riot. Seriously, we only riot when we lose in Game 7 of the Cup Finals. Or when we get to the Cup Finals. Or when we beat the Blackhawks. Promise. )
- The Issues:
American Exceptionalism — Team captain Dustin Brown and starting goalie Jonathan Quick are two prominent members of the Team USA hockey club. They are also prominent reasons why the Kings are where they are. Quick posted a Vezina-worthy season, winning way too many 2-1 and 1-0 games for a goalie’s comfort, while Brown led all L.A. forwards in plus-minus, while dealing with the responsibilities that come with wearing the ‘C’.
- A Winning Combination — Less than a season after the Flyers took such great care in breaking up forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, the two were reunited when Carter was traded to the Kings for defenseman Jack Johnson. The Flyers soured on the perceived immaturity displayed by the talented twosome, but they both played key roles in Philly’s run to the Cup Finals in 2011.
- Kingdom Confidence — according to the LA’s Twitter, the Kings are playing for every Canadian that does not reside in British Columbia.
- Political Dirt:
The Kings are the second-lowest scoring team in the NHL and score less than all of their playoff peers. Can such a chaste team rally support in Hollywoodland? The Kings score less than A.C. Green.
- Campaign Promises:
If elected, the Kings promise to make hockey relevant again in the City of Angels. L.A. was rabid about the Kings in the Gretzky days. It’s a stretch to say they’ll become that popular again, but a playoff run would certainly be a start.
Vote For: Vancouver Canucks in 7
[editors note: SDC has LA winning the series]
This edition’s Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp celebrity profile features Kelly Hrudey. These days, Hrudey is better known as a member of the CBC Hockey Night In Canada broadcast team, but seasoned fans may remember him as an NHL goaltender, and for sporting one of the ugliest goalie masks ever worn in hockey.
A second round pick by the New York Islanders in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, Kelly Hrudey spent his 16 year NHL career backstopping 3 teams; beginning on Long Island, then moving on to Los Angeles, and concluded in San Jose in 1998. Hrudey nearly hoisted the Cup on two occasions: In his first season with the Islanders, New York was looking to add another championship to their 4 Cup dynasty; making it to the Stanley Cup finals. There they met Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers, who were just beginning their own dynasty, and defeated New York. Though he didn’t see any ice during those playoffs, Hrudey would return to the Cup finals again in 1993 as a starter while a member of the Los Angeles Kings, and (perhaps ironically) a teammate of Wayne Gretzky. Though that season did not result in a championship, it remains the franchise’s most successful season in club history.
Hrudey was also included on Team Canada’s 1987 Canada Cup roster as a third goalie. He sits at 13th in all-time most saves with 18,140, 24th all-time in games played with 677, 28th all-time in minutes played with 38,080:55, and 35th in all-time wins with 271. While playing for the 1987 New York Islanders, he set a playoff record, stopping 73 shots in a single game versus the Washington Capitals. The match-up spanned across 4 overtime periods, until finally being concluded on a goal by Pat LaFontaine shortly before 2 am.
In the twilight of his playing career, Hrudey would join the Hockey Night In Canada broadcast team for guest playoff commentary if his current team did not qualify for the post-season. These appearances eventually transitioned into a full-time broadcasting career, and he now provides regular television and radio commentary segments for CBC.
2011 will be Hrudey’s first year attending the Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp. Though he won’t be strapping on the pads and suiting up, we are told that Kelly will be bringing a television camera crew with him to camp this summer; and the rumor mill has been running rampant with speculation as to what will be filmed. Don’t miss your chance to meet NHL legend Kelly Hrudey this August; you might even get your mug on TV!