Sports by Randy Charles Morin.
Copyright 2005-10 Randy Charles Morin
Owned by Rapid Spiral Development Inc.
Here are my choices with a couple games left in the NHL season for the individual award winners. In a couple cases, my choice is partial based on the assumption that the team will or will not make the playoffs and if that changed, then my opinion would change. But I doubt it. You'll find my choices a little different that the conventional people who think they know hockey.
Had Craig Anderson not been injurred, his sneeking the Senators in the playoffs with a 1.71 GAA and .941 SV% would've won him the Hart, but I can't give it to a goalie that only played half the season? Can I? Without Anderson's heroics early in the season, this injury riddled team could very well be competing for the 1st overall pick in this summers entry draft instead of being in the playoff race. Still, I can't believe
How about a forward that played only 3 quarters of the season? Sidney Crosby was still leading the NHL in scoring and 2nd in assists with 3 games left in the season. His linemates are #1 and #2 in the plus-minus leaders (he's currently 4th) and he's in the top 15 in faceoff wins.
Can you give it to two forwards, Martin St Louis and Steve Stamkos, who may win the Art Ross for most points while leading their team to a lottery pick instead of a playoff spot? These two players rank last and 2nd last on their team in plus-minus for forwards. This isn't new territory for this pair. These are two players that I would absolutely not consider for the Hart. In fact, I doubt this team will ever make the playoffs until they break up their core group of offensive players who don't skate in their defensive zone.
Alex Ovechkin is by far the Hart winner in the 2nd half of the season, but is that enough to overcome a very bad start? Remember 2 months ago when everybody was saying OV was washed up? Now he's gonna win yet another Rocket Richard trophy and is a prime candidate for the Hart as well.
Other players I would consider voting for are Ryan Getzlaf, Jonathan Toews and John Tavares. All four elevated their teams to new heights this season, but none stood out as much as Crosby or Ovechkin.
Winner: Sidney Crosby
Let me start by repeating the same argument that Craig Anderson would've won here too had he not been injured.
That said, people are starting to talk about Sergei Bobrovsky as the prime candidate for the Vezina. And I agree. Without Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets would not be in the playoff picture.
I'm also gonna make a case for another goalie that took a team that hasn't made the playoffs in a decade into the playoffs this season; James Reimer. In the game that clinched the playoffs for the Leafs, they were outshot 50 to 22 by the Senators, yet won the game 4-1 on 49 saves by Reimer. Getting outshot isn't a rarity in Toronto these days (years).
Winner: Sergei Bobrovsky.
He's hated, just as much as he's loved, but this year he became a true all-star and Norris candidate; P.K. Subban. He hits hard, he leads all d-men in goals and points and has a nice plus-minus to boot.
How about Brooks Orpik? If he could only score. But how about 10th in hits and 6th in blocked shots? This guy is a true unsung warrior.
And then there's Dion Phaneuf. Twenty-sixth in blocked shots, 6th in hits, 6th in points, 3rd in goals, 5th in ice-time. Now those are some impressive numbers.
Ryan Suter is another possibility, but his team has under-performed even with Ryan playing his best season yet and they don't look playoff bound.
My finalist are Phaneuf and Subban.
Winner: P.K. Subban.
Jonathan Huberdeau leads all rookies in goals and points and he's nearly leading a bad Florida offense in both categories as well.
Justin Schultz leads all rookie defensemen in goals, assists and points, but he does have a lot of offensive help on a very talented Oilers team.
Cory Conacher is a nice story and does lead all rookies in assists and points. That said, he accumulated most of those points playing along side the offensive-minded Lightning.
I'm deciding between Huberdeau and Schultz.
Winner: Justin Schultz.
I don't really care.
This is by far my favorite award. Mostly because I think it's histerical that the most recent winner of the award doesn't even play much on his teams short hand unit. Pavel Datsyuk may very well win this award again, but in my opinion he isn't even in the top 20 best defensive players in the NHL. If he's so good defensive, then how come he only ranks 3rd on his team in short-handed ice-time per game for forwards? And how can you even give the award to a player that isn't played much in defensive situations like power plays?
Let's look are real defensive players, not just great offensive players who are reasonable defensively. The real great defensive players are those that hog most of the short-handed ice-time and are on the ice in the last minute when your team is winning by a goal.
This guy should've won the Frank J Selke most every year he's been in the NHL. No other player even needs to be named. He leads the league in short-handed ice-time by a forward with 163 minutes. No other player has more than 131. In those 163 minutes, the power-play has only 11 goals. His new team joined this season had their penalty kill go from 24th last year to 3rd best this year. He plays every shift against the other teams best offensive players and maintained an even plus-minus. And does he play in the final minute in one goal games? He must. He has 3 empty net goals this season. No player since Michael Peca has scored such a high percentage of his games into empty nets (just saying, didn't double check that stat).
Winner: Jay McClement.
The Ottawa Senators have been devastated with key injuries, yet the team still managed to stay in the playoff hunt. Paul MacLean deserves consideration for the Adams for holding this team together all season.
John Capuano deserves a gold medal for managing to put the worst managed hockey organization in the NHL into the playoffs. His team has Tim Thomas, Alexei Yashin and Rick Dipietro accounting for $11-12 million of the cap space. Without these players, who aren't even on the team, they wouldn't meet the CBA team salary floor for 2012-13.
The Columbus Blue Jackets suck. If they make the playoffs then Todd Richards is another candidate for coach of the year. This team is made up almost entirely from players unwanted otherwhere in the NHL.
All three coaches have taken a bad team to the promised land.
Winner: Paul MacLean.
The Penguins added Jarome Iginla, Jussi Jokinen, Douglas Murray and Brenden Morrow to an already stacked team. Ray Shero must be using a different math then the other General Managers in order to fit so many stars into the same salary cap every other team struggles with. Their backup goalie Tomas Vokoun is better than most NHL starting goalies and he signed him for next to nothing.
Not as impressive as the Penguins, but the Bruins added Jaromir Jagr and Wade Redden at the deadline. Peter Chiarelli also managed a very skillful trade to free up salary room by trading Tim Thomas to the Islanders. The trade was clearly made to circumvent the salary cap for both teams, as the Islanders were under the salary floor and the Bruins needed some room to work with.
I can't put my finger on a 3rd GM that stood out as much as these two.
Winner: Peter Chiarelli
With the shortened NHL season about to start, I thought I'd spice it up with a hottest NHLer contest on twitter. I'm gonna start with Cosmo's hottest NHLer list.
I'm gonna use stats on Talk-Sports.com to rank the players from 1-30. The top 2 will get byes. The 3rd place will face the 30th, 4th v 29th, etc. Each round, the players will be reseeded, with highest original seed against lowest. There will be 3 initial one-day rounds over 27 plus days (I may miss a day here and there). Once we get to the semis, then both voting period will take place over two days. The finals voting will take place over an entire week.
The 1st day will be 15th v 16th. I'll provide twitter tags for both players. The player who receives the most tweets with his tag every day will move onto the next round. For example, the tag for voting for Randy Morin would be #RandyMorinHottestNHLer, but only tweets during the voting period will cound. You can vote as many times as you want, just be careful not to get yourself banned by twitter.
I'll provide the initial seedings later today.
We updated the Western Hockey League rosters this morn.
We updated the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League rosters this morn.
HockeyFan89 has agreed to be our tenth Talk-Sports deputy.
See previous announcements on Talk-Sports duputies
Bruins v Habs (0-2)
The biggest surprise of the playoffs is the Bruins complete lack of offense; one goal in two games. This is due to three reasons; solid play from the Canadians defense (Gill, Subban, Sopel, Spacek, Hamrlik, Wisniewski and forwards Moen, Plekanec), good goaltending from Carey Price and weak shoots from the Bruins. As much as Carey Price has made the saves, the shot difficult is making Price look even better. Down 2-0 and going to Montreal, this series could be over quickly.
Pens v Lightning (1-1)
Not a surprise, without Crosby and Malkin, the Pens will be hard pressed to win this series. One great goaltending performance by Fleury has kept this team in the series. Interesting side note; Craig Adams has 6 goals in the last 3 regular seasons (207 games) and 6 goals in the last 3 playoffs (39 games). If Crosby comes back, then they still have a chance, but I see the Lightning taking this now that they have home ice advantage.
Caps v Rangers (2-0)
I didn't expect the Rangers to be able to keep up with the Capitals and they haven't. Only Matt Gilroy has scored for the Rangers. Lundqvist is gonna have to steal a game or two to get this team back in the series. Looks like a Capitals sweep is possible.
Flyers v Sabres (1-1)
Miller stole game one but the Flyers offense was too much in game two. With Miller injured, I didn't think the Sabres had much of a chance, but stole home ice advantage. The biggest difference in this series may turn out to be the lack of Chris Pronger. Normally, Pronger would be wearing down the Sabres forwards. Add something redundant about Flyers goaltending here. This looks like a 7 gamer. Then flip a coin.
Wings v Yotes (2-0)
It's called the Pavel Datsyuk show. Even without Henrik Zetterberg, the Wings are simply too much for the Yotes. Bryzgalov hasn't been at his best. He really needs to step it up at home and steal both games for his team or it's over. I doubt the Wings will sweep and that's all I got for the Coyotes' fans.
Sharks v Kings (1-1)
There's no reason the Kopitar-less Kings should be in this series. Well, except that Joe Thornton is up to his playoff disappearing act once again. In game 2 on the power play, Big Joe was fed the puck in the slot. He didn't even try to shoot. He skated behind the net, then out to the half boards and shot from there. Going the other way, Drew Doughty scored 4 pts giving him 11 points in 8 career playoff games. I see this going 7 games.
Canucks v Hawks (2-0)
Kane, Toews, Sharp and Hossa have combined for 1 assist in the 1st two games of this series. It might simply be fatigue. All four players have played an enormous amounts of hockey over the last 2-3 yrs. The Canucks look like he team to beat. Three lines are contributing and six d-men. And they have a pretty good goalie. Unless the Hawks win both at home, they could be done in 5.
Ducks v Preds (1-1)
Mike Fisher stole game 1 for the Preds and now they have home ice advantage in this series. The Ducks Big 4 (Selanne, Ryan, Perry and Getzlaf) showed up big time in game 2, each scoring a goal. This series is gonna be a showdown between the big 4 and Pekka Rinne. The series should go 6 or 7 games.
This is a no brainer. Without Lunqvist's best season ever, the Rangers may have been favs to finish overall. Unless Lunqvist steal games, I don't see the Rangers getting to game six.
The Caps are relatively healthy, although several players including Ovechkin missed games late in the season due to injuries. The Caps played great hockey down the stretch. There only weakness might be between the pipes where they have relatively inexperienced youngsters.
Caps in 5.
Very similar to the Rangers, where would the Sabres be without Ryan Miller? It wasn't Miller's finest season and worse, he may be experience the symptoms of a concussion. Without Miller, there's no series. Enroth has looked great all season, but he's no Miller.
Flyers may have the best overall playoff lineup, if and this is a big if... You don't look between the pipes.
Flyers in 5
Finally, a big time goalie matchup; Price v Thomas. And why not the most celebrated playoff rivalry of all time.
The winner will be the team that finds a way to score. Give the edge to the Bruins, since Price has been a playoff zero to date in his career.
Bruins in 7. And trust me, I want the Habs to win.
To play Crosby or not to play Crosby? That is the question. If he plays and is healthy and plays to his capability, then Pens win, else who knows. That's quite an if. Even if Crosby returns, the Pens are hardly Cup contenders without Malkin.
Roloson is key for the Lightning. Since the Bulin wall left Tampa, they've been a loss in net. Roloson is kinda old, is putting it mildly. Lightning can score, but can they keep the puck out?
Pens in 5
We have some race this year. I can identify 7 legit candidates; 3 of which scored 30 goals.
One year ago, Skinner wasn't on anybody's NHL radar. He wasn't drafted and wasn't even projected in the 1st round of the draft. He scored 20 goals in 20 games during last years OHL playoff and he became a 7th overall pick. Twelve months later, he has 30+ goals in the NHL and is the choice of many to win the Calder Trophy.
Nineth overall pic in 2007, he stagnated for the next 3 years. Out of nowhere, he's regained his top prospect form and put 30 pucks in the net. Unlikely to win, as he doesn't have the most goals, nor the most points for a rookie, which is the prime criteria for a forward.
Grabner was the 14 overall pick back in 2006. Like Couture, he struggled after his draft year. He played the last 3 years almost entirely in the AHL. A brief 20 game tryout at the end of last season was successful, potting 5 goals. The Canucks traded him to the Panthers, who then waived him before the season started. He was claimed by the Islanders and the rest is history; 30 goal rookie campaign.
Drafted 27th overall in 2008. Note that all these rookies to date have been drafted in the 1st round. Somebody might wanna inform Brian Burke of these facts. Played half a season in the AHL and he's an NHLer. Fits in well, on a very talented Capitals team. Unlike to win.
Tell Burke that Fowler was drafted 12th overall in 2010. Ya, that's last year. And he scored 40 points this year as a defenseman. His -26 plus-minus rating is gonna keep him away from the Calder Trophy.
Drafted in the 2nd round of 2007. I have to think his skin color and mouth kept him out of the 1st round. How many defensemen score 56 points in their OHL draft year and don't get picked in the 1st round? He's improved every year since, is now a household name for every hockey fan and a twitter fad (#blamesubban). PK's stats might not get him the Calder, but I watch a lot of hockey and from what I see, this guy is already a leader on the Canadians. He's my Calder pick, but I doubt many will agree. They'd rather blame him for something.
I always hate it when a goalie qualifies as a rookie, yet he played games in 4 NHL seasons. This is actually his 5th season playing in the NHL. The numbers are there and he resurrected the Hawks season. He'll get votes, but he was drafted in 2003. Hardly a rookie.
Who won? Lot's of team. Forget all the small trades, let's go thru the big ones. I'm only going to discuss those made on trade day.
Otherall winner is Florida. Picking up Evan Oberg, Samsonov, Hauswirth, Bergfors, Rissmiller, Kennedy and three 3rds. No blue chip prospects, but a lot of them. Unloaded salary and they are gonna suck for the next 20 games. Sign players in the off-season and start all over. I like it. Fans aren't gonna like the remainder of the season. But this is how you build. Brian Burke?