Archive

Posts Tagged ‘New York Rangers’

Kings/Rangers Stanley Cup Final stats analysis & predictions.

June 4, 2014 Leave a comment


LAKvsNYRThere is a lot of statistical data out there to help compare the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers ahead of their 2014 Stanley Cup Final meeting, and an incredible number of rabbit holes one could venture down when attempting to analyze all the data made available. With stats gleaned from NHL.com, here’s a brief look at the the teams’ 2 regular season meetings from the categories I find most important, to show how they stack up versus and solo so far in the first 3 rounds of playoffs.

HEAD TO HEAD October 17 (Staples Center), November 17 (MSG)

  KingsLOS ANGELES KINGS NYRNEW YORK RANGERS 
Wins 1 1
Goals 2 — Muzzin (1), Toffoli (1) 3 — Richards (2), McDonagh (1)
Assists Richards (2), Voynov (1) Nash (2), Stepan (1), Boyle (1)
Power Play 0-3 0-8
Penalty Kill 8-8 3-3
Penalized Players/PIM Doughty (6), Clifford (5), Mitchell (4), Williams (2), Lewis (2), Brown (2), Bench (2). Asham* (5), Stralman (2), Brassard (2), Pouliot (2), Boyle (2).
Goaltenders Quick** Lundqvist
SA 28 59
Saves 25 57
SV% .893 .966
TOI 59:21 118:59
Pulls 1 1

Despite an even head-to-head record, NYR seemed to have a slight statistical advantage when playing each other.

*No longer on NYR’s roster.

**Quick only played 1 of the 2 games. Ben Scrivens played game 2, and is no longer on LA’s roster.

2014 PLAYOFFS

Games Played 21 20
Home Wins 5 6
Road Wins 7 6
Goals, PG AVG 73 — 3.48 (1st) 54 — 2.70 (8th)
GA — AVG 60 — 2.86 (9th) 45 — 2.25 (2nd)
PPG — % 17 (1st) — 25.4 (5th) 11 (5th) — 13.6 (10th)
SHGA 1 2
PK% 81.2 (9th) 85.9 (2nd)
Total PIM 272 (16th) 200 (14th)
PIM PG 13.0 10.0
Shots AVG 30.7 29.4
Shots Against 30.3 28.0
Blocked Shots 314 (4th) 331 (2nd)
OT Record 2-2 2-1
Hits 898 (1st) 587 (2nd)
FOW — % 735 (1st) – 52.9 (2nd) 601 (3rd) – 47.5 (12th)
Leaders Goals (Gaborik -12), Assists (Kopitar -19), Points (Kopitar -24), +/- (Williams – +11) Goalie Wins, Save % (Lundqvist)

With a slight edge in playoff statistics, LA seems to have the advantage through 3 rounds. They should dominate in face-offs, hits, goals, assists, points, +/-, shots, on the power play. Despite LA’s touted defensive domination, it’s actually NYR that leads the two on the penalty kill, PIM, goals against, shots against, blocked shots, and goaltending.

Of interest: Rangers are 100% when shots are even, and when leading after 2 periods.

By the numbers, this series may be closer than many assume. With more category leads in the above categories, I am giving the nod to the LA Kings to win the 2014 Stanley Cup. But those are just numbers — let’s see what the games actually bring!

Why Canadians should be cheering for the LA Kings to win the Stanley Cup, again

June 2, 2014 1 comment

2014_Stanley_Cup_FinalsIf your team has been eliminated from the playoffs, it can be tough to choose another squad to root for while the remainder of the post season plays out. One way some people prefer in choosing an adoptive team is to go on player nationalities. With the Montreal Canadiens being the only team based in a Canadian city to qualify for the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, and having been eliminated in the Eastern Conference Final, many Canadian fans may wonder whether it’d be better to align with LA or New York. I posted this same breakdown in 2012 when the LA Kings met the New Jersey Devils in the Final, and below you’ll find the 2014 edition. Hopefully it will help corral some of you lost, wandering hockey souls towards the appropriate roster while you try to pick up the shattered pieces and ease the pain of your true team’s season gone sideways.

LOS ANGELES KINGS

The active roster of the Los Angeles Kings features 24 players – 16 of them are Canadian, 5 are American, 1 is Russian, 1 is Slovakian, and 1 is Slovenian. Add 1 Canadian if you count head coach Darryl Sutter. The Kings have 1 more Canadian in their lineup than the Montreal Canadiens did – the only team based in a Canadian city that made this year’s playoffs.

Representing Canada (67%: +7% since 2012): Jeff Carter, Kyle Clifford, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll, Justin Williams, Drew Doughty, Willie Mitchell, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli, Brayden McNabb, Jake Muzzin, Robyn Regehr, Jeff Schultz, Martin Jones (Darryl Sutter).

Representing the USA (28%: -7% from 2012): Dustin Brown, Trevor Lewis, Matt Greene, Alec Martinez, Jonathan Quick.

Representing Europe (12.5%: +.05% from 2012): Slava Voynov, Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik

Assessment: Predominantly CANADIAN.

**NOTE: If LA wins the Stanley Cup, Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty will have won both Olympic gold and the NHL crown in the same season — aka the DCC.

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

NYRThe active roster of the New York Rangers features 27 players – 13 of them are Canadian, 7 are American, 5 are Swedish, 1 is Norwegian, and 1 is Swiss. Add 1 Canadian if you count head coach Alain Vigneault.

Representing Canada (48%): Derick Brassard, Dan Carcillo, Derek Dorsett, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Benoit Pouliot, Martin St. Louis, Justin Falk, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, Marc Staal, Cam Talbot, Brad Richards (Alain Vigneault).

Representing the USA (26%): Brian Boyle, Ryan Haggerty, Chris Kreider, JT Miller, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, John Moore.

Representing Europe (26%): Jesper Fast, Carl Hagelin, Oscar Lindberg, Mats Zuccarello, Anton Stralman, Henrik Lundqvist, Raphael Diaz.

Assessment: Predominantly CANADIAN.

**NOTE: If NYR wins the Stanley Cup, Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash will have won both Olympic gold and the NHL crown in the same season — aka the DCC.

 

CONCLUSION

If you’re basing your newly acquired 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 the highest volume of Canadian players, you should be cheering for the LA Kings in the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals, because they have the majority of them.

-If you are American cheering for Americans, the LA Kings again are your huckleberry.

-If you’re European cheering for Europeans, you should side with New York.

So with all that being said, who do ya got? Leave a comment to state your allegiance.

KINGS RANGERS faceoff

2nd Quadrennial Double Championship Challenge!

May 20, 2014 5 comments

cup goldWell it’s getting on in the 2014 NHL playoffs, and it’s about time to dust of the old Double Championship Challenge for it’s second quadrennial go-round. If this seems Greek to you, click here to catch up on what the 1st Quadrennial Double Championship Challenge was all about. You may recall Rich Abney walked away with a championship t-shirt and four years of bragging rights in 2010 after picking the Chicago Blackhawks’ Canadian Olympic team members to win gold and the Stanley Cup in the same season.

So let’s have at it — cast your votes on who will win this quadrennial’s crown as outright best in the world.

Here’s who’s left:

Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp – Chicago Blackhawks [note: Keith & Toews can repeat as back-to-back DCC champs]

Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter – Los Angeles Kings 

Martin St-Louis, Rick Nash – New York Rangers

 Carey Price, P.K. Subban – Montreal Canadiens

Here’s who’s eliminated:

Marc-Édouard Vlasic, Patrick Marleau — San Jose Sharks

Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz — Pittsburgh Penguins

Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo – St. Louis Blues

Ryan Getzlaf , Corey Perry — Anaheim Ducks

Matt Duchene — Colorado Avalanche

  Jamie Benn — Dallas Stars

Patrice Bergeron — Boston Bruins

Here’s who did not qualify: 

Roberto Luongo — Vancouver Canucks

Mike Smith — Phoenix Coyotes

Shea Weber — Nashville Predators

John Tavares — New York Islanders

And unlike 2010 when Corey Perry joined Canada’s World Championship roster after winning Olympic gold in Vancouver, there are no players or staff that are representing Canada twice in the same season this time around.

Who’s your pick? Leave a comment to let us know! Choose correctly and you’ll be eligible to win an exclusive prize from Serenity Now…The SDC Blogs.

Rules: To enter, leave a comment on this post with your name, your pick, and where you’re from. One vote only — no do-overs. Those who select correctly will be entered into a draw for the grand prize. Good luck!

 

XP PSP s01e13: NHL Trade Deadline Roundup

March 8, 2014 Leave a comment

Larry Fisher

Larry Fisher from the Kelowna Daily Courier called in for episode 13 to debrief all the action from the 2014 NHL trade deadline. We talked Martin St. Louis for Ryan Callahan, Roberto Luongo to Florida, Gaborik to LA, Ryan Miller to Buffalo, Jaroslav Halak all over the place, Vanek’s path to Montreal, Edmonton’s moves of Hemsky and Bryzgalov, the non-moves of Brodeur and Kesler, and we both pick our winners of the day.

Follow Larry FisherXP PSP, and host Dave Cunning on Twitter.

Visit www.larry-fisher.com 

Click here to listen to the XP PSP audio podcast at Podbean

Download_on_iTunes_Badge_US-UK_110x40_1004https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/xppsp/id643817929

The cheapest Stadium Series tickets left; TJ Sochi T-Shirt

February 27, 2014 Leave a comment

With the puck about to drop on the final 2 games of the 2014 NHL Stadium Series, TiqIQ.com has passed along some interesting data on average secondary market ticket prices for the March 1st Blackhawks/Penguins game in Chicago at Soldier Field. If you were planning on attending, but haven’t bought a ticket yet, here’s what you should expect to have to shell out:

-Current average ticket price for Saturday’s game: $230.77 (down 18% this week and 67% since its peak on 9/23/13)

-Cheapest ticket currently listed: $91 (originally $139), Section 432

-Most expensive ticket currently listed: $845 (originally $325), Section 308

Soldier Field Stadium Series seating

All I know is, if I’m gonna cough up $825 to sit in a seat in the farthest section away from the ice in the stadium, my seat better come with an open mini bar, and the NHL Network installed into the back of the seat in front of me.

Comparatively, here are the average prices for the previous four Stadium Series games of 2014, as well as the upcoming Heritage Classic, ranked from most expensive to least:

-Yankee Stadium – Rangers/Devils – $244 ($89)

-Yankee Stadium – Rangers/Islanders – $206 ($43)

-Winter Classic – Red Wings/Maple Leafs – $156 ($57)

-Dodger Stadium – Kings/Ducks – $199 ($117)

-Heritage Classic – Canucks/Senators – $182 ($74)

For more on this data, visit TiqIQ.com, follow TiqIQ on Twitter, or contact TiqIQ’s Director of Marketing, Stefan Mersch, at stefan@tiqiq.com.

*************

Speaking of buying things hockey related, I know a t-shirt worthy catchphrase when I hear one, and thusly I put one on one. After TJ Oshie’s unfathomable shootout performance against Russia, “TJ Sochi” was one of the best nicknames to emerge from the Sochi 2014 Olympics, so here’s what I did with it:

TJ Sochi shirt

 Visit my Etsy store and make this shirt yours before everyone forgets about that fateful night in Sochi! It may even help to cover the American shame of losing the bronze medal game 5-0 and finishing fourth, after posting a video like this:

Book Review: “Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories” by Stan Fischler

December 19, 2013 Leave a comment

If you’re looking for a great gift or stocking stuffer for a hockey fan on your Christmas list, or just a great collection of hockey stories for yourself, look no further than Stan Fischler’s latest book, Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories.

BTNFischler, an Islanders, Rangers and Devils correspondent for MSG and veteran author of over 90 books, writes a wide spectrum of hockey stories in BTN – everything from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2013 playoff collapse against the Boston Bruins, to puck tales that predate the NHL. There’s a story about how a game that went deep into overtime in the 1930’s was almost decided by coin toss – a crazy notion when you consider the discussion of the shootout and other game ending approaches these days. Today’s debate about preventing and managing concussions make the game’s stewards in the 1940′s look like primitive cave people – it sounds like it was commonplace for fights to spill into the stands and involve spectators, and sticks were regularly cracked over helmetless players’ heads. It makes for interesting commentary on where the game has evolved from when you read that teams used to only cost $75,000 and gunshots used to signal period ends, seasons used to last around 20 games, and the Art Ross Trophy winner would net 70 points in that short span.

As today’s hockey fans are aware, the NHLPA and NHL don’t always get along, but those of us affected by their disagreements may take solace in learning that the NHLPA has been a thorn in the side of NHL ownership since the 50′s. And as we are all reminded by Gary Bettman’s annual awarding of the Stanley Cup always being met by a deafening rebuttal of boos from fans in attendance, the NHL commissioner has not always been a fan favorite either. When Clarence Campbell was at the league’s helm, he had everything from insults, tear gas, and items from the produce section whipped at him by fans who did not agree with his suspension of Maurice Richard. Can you imagine Bettman having to make public appearances in riot gear?

Hockey players have always been known for their toughness, resilience, and overwhelming desire to keep playing the game. One of the best examples of this is included in the book. It depicts the story of Bill Chadwick, who lost sight in one eye from an injury but kept playing. He later injured his other eye too, and was forced to end his playing days. But he stayed in the game, becoming a referee, and then an announcer. Do you think they were having the visor discussion even then? The book also digs up interesting tidbits on player oddities, like how Jaromir Jagr runs the stairs of every arena he plays in, and how Gordie Howe was ambidextrous and gave goalies he faced double the grief in trying to stop him.

Fischler’s book gives us glimpses into the days when the NHL competed for fans and players with rival leagues like the WHA and the lesser known Eastern League. He tells us stories of when players were bought with, and arenas were built on, horse race winnings. It unveils stories of “Big” Bill Dwyer, a bootlegger in the 1920′s, who owned the New York Americans; and local rival New York Rangers coach Lester Patrick, who okayed the team publicist’s suggestion to modify to players names to Jewish and Italian last names to attract fans of those local minorities to Rangers games, and away from Americans games.

And if you thought the Winnipeg Jets had a tough travel schedule when they were still competing in the Eastern Conference, things won’t seem so bad when you read about the team from the Klondike that rode dogsleds to Ottawa to challenge for the Stanley Cup in 1905, only to get shelled 23-2 and see Frank McGee score 14 goals in a game against them.

It’s an enthralling and easy read – most of the stories are only 1-3 pages long, suitable for any age or level of reader, and any completion time frame. Any fan of hockey will be a fan of this book. You can find it a print or digital copy for around $20 on Amazon, Chapters, or your local bookstore.

Here’s the Press Release:

Stan Fischler’s latest hockey classic, Behind the Net: 101 Incredible Hockey Stories (Sports Publishing, November 2013) is a collection of short, zany (but true!) tales that have taken place over more than a half century of hockey-watching. An easy read for fans of all ages with photos to accompany the anecdotes, this book offers a unique perspective into the NHL from one of today’s most prolific hockey writers. Different from the typical NHL “game” stories, this book details everything, from the hilarious to the absurd.

Fischler details the time that:

• Bill Mosienko scored three goals in 21 seconds

• Rene Fernand Gauthier accepted a challenge to shoot the puck in the ocean

• Sam LoPresti faced 83 shots on goal in one game

• And 98 more unique stories!

So lace up your skates and hit the ice with Behind the Net, a comprehensive collection sure to entertain any hockey fan, regardless of team allegiances.

About the author:

Stan Fischler is a legend of sports broadcasting. He began his career as a publicist for the New York Rangers in 1954 and has been covering hockey in the over half a century since. The winner of five Emmy Awards, Fischler has worked in every medium from print to TV to Twitter. This “Hockey Maven” currently serves as the resident hockey expert for MSG and MSG Plus. He can be seen every week on MSG Hockey Night Live. He lives in New York City.

Contact the Publisher:

Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

307 W 36th Street, 11th Floor | New York, NY 10018

Ph:(212) 643-6816 x 226 | Fax: (212) 643-6819

skyhorsepublishing.com

Hockey Talkie: Penguins on Raw, Byfuglien’s Korean Love Child, NYR Fan Bus

May 15, 2012 Leave a comment

 

Hey New York Rangers fans, Vector Media is “dropping the puck” on NYR’s Eastern Conference Finals showdown with the New Jersey Devils with double-decker buses that will provide NY Ranger “Fan rides” around MSG – Times Sq 42nd street and back. Fans from all over the country will come in for a chance to receive a free ride on the double decker buses and show their team spirit by joining the traveling Pep Rally and cheering for the Rangers. The buses will have former Ranger players (TBA) and video crews who will be filming the action – throughout the game they will show clips of the fan rides on the giant screens in MSG. All New York Rangers fans are eligible to ride the buses! The bus rolls Wednesday, May 16th; Wednesday, May 23rd; and Sunday, May 27th; running from 4-8pm every night. Check out www.vectormedia.com for more info. And if you’re in the New York area, hop on!

Speaking of the Rangers, you need to check out DJ Steve Porter’s latest remix — “Next Question” featuring John Tortorella. Phenomenal. I love these.

*************************

I’ve been a big NHL and WWE fan since I was a kid, so it’s always fun for me when those worlds manage to collide with each other. The 05/14/12 edition of WWE Raw was filmed live from the Consol Energy Center, and a handful of Penguins players in attendance were not immune to public address from John Cena and John Laurinaitis:

This is not the first time the Penguins have crossed paths with WWE — in December 2011, CM Punk tweeted a pic from his meeting with Penguins perennial heel Matt Cooke, who signed a stick for him (perhaps still trying to get over as a good guy at the time).

***************************

I spotted this kid at the school I work at, who sure seems to resemble Dustin Byfuglien quite a bit, wouldn’t you say? Is it possible that in one of Big Buff’s drunken boating excursions, he managed to cross the Pacific Ocean and impregnate a Korean woman with his love child? #unsubstantiated #speculation

 

Hockey Talkie: Gretzky Playoffs, Ovie Expendable, Worlds Woes

May 7, 2012 Leave a comment

[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?

2012 NHL Playoffs Preview: Rangers vs. Senators

April 12, 2012 3 comments

It’s NHL playoffs time! Peter Nygaard (follow him on Twitter)joins us again this year to break down all the opening round match-ups — this time, with a political spin. Over the next 8 posts, examine all the evidence presented, and decide where your vote would be best served! Enjoy!

-SDC

=================================================================

Canvassing the Caucuses: An Election-Style NHL Playoff Preview during Election Season

PART 1

It’s getting to be that time again. It’s hard to believe that the endless jostling for position has gotten us here, but this is where it all airs out. It’s hard to believe that just four years ago, this year’s presumptive favorite was nothing but an up-and-comer, a hopeful. After years of the same boring, unwatchable figures, the masses clamored for a new face. A young face. A face that inspired hope, a change to the system, and a new way of doing things.

Believe it or not, but four years ago, the landscape as we know it was forever changed, as the Pittsburgh Penguins made their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in the Sidney Crosby era.

What, did you think I was talking about something else?

As you may or may not know (Hi, Canada), in addition to boasting the most unpredictable Stanley Cup playoffs in recent memory, 2012 is also an election year in the United States. In November, America will cast its ballot to determine its next president. Until then, we will be subject to vicious back-and-forth action in the media, as each campaign tries to push their guy ahead.

In the NHL, we’re coming to the end of some campaigns as well. 14 campaigns have already closed up shop for the summer. Another 15 will soon be coming to an end. For the next two months, we will see run-off after run-off, as the remaining NHL contenders fight tooth-and-nail to win your vote as the best hockey team in the world. The Presidents have already been decided. Well, the Presidents’ Trophy winners, at least. But the real prize has yet to be earned. One team will succeed in its campaign to be elected your next Stanley Cup champion. The only question is who.

Let’s check in on each of the campaigns and see which way the battleground states may fall.

Eastern Primary

New York Rangers (1) vs. Ottawa Senators (8)

[also see: Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils,  & Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers]

  • The Issues:
    Blue-collar Blue Shirts — Don’t be fooled by the high price tags on Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, coach John Tortorella has New York playing team hockey. The Rangers grind it out, block shots and get down and dirty. The Rangers don’t take many shots per game, but they’re even better at limiting the number of clean shots opponents get. And when you have arguably the best goalie in the NHL, you’re going to win a lot of 2-1 games.Tough on crime — Led by left-winger Brandon Prust, who dropped the gloves a league-high 20 times this season, the Rangers went “stick, gloves, shirt” more than any other team. Linemate Mike Rupp and defenseman Stu Bickel have also not been shy about punishing wrongdoers. Unfortunately, as New Yorkers are often prone to do, the Rangers look to settle more fights with their fists than they do with their sticks. New York ranked eighth-worst on the powerplay during the regular season.
  • Political Dirt:
    The New York Rangers’ campaign has been inundated with questions about whether or not the team spent $150k on new clothes for goaltender and fashionista Henrik Lundqvist.
  • Campaign Promises:
    If elected, the Rangers promise to bring the enormous New York media market along for the ride. Say what you want about New York fans, but the Rangers have averaged a sellout for the last decade, and the Garden will be rocking come Thursday night.
  • The Issues:
    We are the 99% — The Senators qualified for the playoffs despite having the fifth-lowest payroll in the NHL. It’s no secret that the Senators’ most valuable player this season was defenseman Erik Karlsson, but as an added bonus, Karlsson is still playing under his rookie contract, meaning his 78 points and +16 rating came at the small price of $1.3 million. That’s only $17k per point.All-4-1 Plan — Though netminder Craig Anderson has certainly not experienced the same success that the man he was traded for last February — Brian Elliott — has had, his playoff record inspires confidence. Anderson helped the upstart 8-seed Colorado Avalanche take a 2-1 series lead over the heavily favored San Jose Sharks in the opening round, holding the Sharks to one goal in the opener and recording a 51-save shutout in Game 3. However, after dropping Game 4 in overtime, Anderson was yanked in Game 5 and allowed three goals in Game 6, as the Avs were eliminated. Still, ‘Andy’ finished the series with a .933 save percentage, a testament to the difference he made in the series. If the Senators are going to have any chance in this series, Anderson will likely need a repeat performance of his early series heroics.
  • Political Dirt:
    What, you thought a team called the Senators wasn’t going to have a few shady friends in their back pocket? I’m convinced that Gary Bettman stood in the rafters of the Prudential Center shining a laser pointer in Marty Brodeur’s eyes to ensure a second-round meeting between Crosby and Ovechkin in the 2009 playoffs. The only way the 7-seed Caps will have a chance of facing the 4-seed Pens in the second round is with an Ottawa upset.
  • Campaign Promises:
    If elected, the Senators promise to give you a wily veteran to root for in what may very well be his swan song. Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson has worn the ‘C’ for the Sens since the 1999-2000 season and has never played for another team in the NHL. He brought the Senators within three wins of the Stanley Cup in 2007. While he’s said he’s hoping to lace up the skates for one more season, what better way to go out than lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup?

Vote For:

New York Rangers in 6

















Hockey Talkie: Status Report on the NHL’s Long-Term Front-Loaded Contract Signings

December 16, 2011 1 comment

[Originally post for betonhockey.com on December 6/2011]

Alright all you NHL teams that tried to weasel your way around the NHL salary cap by signing players to long-term front loaded contracts, how have your deals been working out for you so far? You thought you were pretty smart by signing those sneaky but legal deals, so let’s see what you’ve come up with so far.

New Jersey Devils, you made the most publicized deal of the bunch, signing Ilya Kovalchuk at age 28 to a 15 year, $100 million dollar contract; keeping him as your property until 2025 when he’ll be 42 years old. That very same year, Kovy appeared in 81 games and put up his worst year’s point total (60) since his rookie year when he only had 51 – a far cry from the 98 he put up as a Thrasher in 05-06. Oh, and you missed the playoffs last year too. You better hope he picks his socks up, because no team in their right mind is ever going to be involved in a trade for that much money for a player with such relatively poor point production. The only offsetting factor is that Kovalchuk’s an outstanding player. He could neutralize most of this heat by playing like a superstar again. If he doesn’t, the Devils get a FAIL on this one.

Philadelphia Flyers, you signed Chris Pronger at age 37 to a 7 year, $34 million deal that locked him up in orange until 2017, when he’ll be 43. You also made him your captain. You’ve had decent playoff success, but still failed to win the Cup. Pronger’s been injured on numerous occasions, with a knee and eye injury being the most recent. Last year he only appeared in 50 games, his lowest since 94-95, and consequently had his lowest point total since then as well. This season he’s missed games due to a virus, the afore mentioned eye injury, and surgery on his knee. Is he going to make it to 43? Although Pronger brings a lot of veteran leadership and experience, I’d say Philly is behind the count on this one. [update: on December 15/2011, it was announced that Pronger will miss the remainder of the NHL season and playoffs due to post-concussion syndrome]

New York Rangers, looks like you didn’t think your signing of Scott Gomez in 2007 for seven years and $51.5 million was that great a move after all, considering you paid him $18 million of that contract before flipping him to the Montreal Canadiens for them to pay the remainder. Might have been a good play though, Gomez’s point production is constantly under criticism, and he’s coming off a career worst point total of 38 (his best was 84 in 05-06 with the New Jersey Devils) — pretty poor for a centerman. He’s the Habs’ problem until 2014, when he’ll be 34 years old. In the end, a win for NYR for moving him, and a tie at best or loss for Montreal when it’s all over.

Vancouver Canucks, you inked Roberto Luongo at age 32 to a 12 year, $64 million contract, keeping him a Canuck until 2022, when he’ll be 43. As much as I hate the Canucks, there’s no question that Roberto is an elite goaltender, so I understand your wanting to keep him around. Thing is though, as great of a run you had last season, Roberto let in more than 20 goals during last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. Between that and your stars not scoring, you failed to win your franchise’s first Stanley Cup, and your fans destroyed your city. And that was only year one. You’ve got 11 to go, and Lu has already been shaky; giving way to “backup” Cory Schneider multiple times this season. Many think that Schneider should be the team’s #1 goaltender. Do that, and you’ll have $5.3 million dollars sitting on the bench every year you allow it. It’s great to have a President’s Trophy winning season and all, but if you fail to win the big trophy, it’s all for not. If Luongo can’t be consistent when it counts over the next decade, Vancouver loses this one. And maps may have to be re-drawn over the area that used to be the city of Vancouver, if rioters are given any more reason to cause carnage.

And New York Islanders, the pièce de résistance unquestionably still belongs to you. In 06-07, you signed Rick DiPietro to a 15 year, $67.5 million contract – keeping him on Long Island until 2021, when he’ll be 40 years of age. Apparently you were not informed that Rick needed to be kept in an antique store with a “FRAGILE” sign around his neck. You got two decent seasons out of him right off the hop, but it has been downhill from there. Due to injury, Rick played in only five games in 08-09, eight games in 09-10, and just 26 last season. Goaltending has been nothing short of a metaphorical revolving door, as DiPietro has shared the net with multiple goalies – none of which seem to be able to keep pucks out of it. The team has been, or close to, dead last in league standings the last number of years. You haven’t made the playoffs since Rick’s first season with the team. Between hip surgery, knee surgery, groin problems, neck injury, concussions, facial fracture, and sickness, DiPietro has only been able to play in a fraction of the games you surely hoped he would. And when he did play, the team still ended up being bad. Sorry NYI, there’s just no way you come out on top from this one. [update: on December 15/2011, DiPietro was placed on injured reserve yet again, after suffering a groin injury]

So, NHL owners, what have you learned?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 814 other followers

%d bloggers like this: