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
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
It's too bad that the media simply reports the lies coming from the NHL about the Coyotes. It wouldn't take much courage to sit there and being laughing at them. Sure the NHL would black-balled you, but you represent integrity. When they report stuff like this, then you should laugh.
Weeks ago, the NHL reported they were not in control of the Coyotes. When the Coyotes declared bankruptcy, the NHL changed their mind and claimed they had taken control of the team from the owners. A month later, the courts disagreed as the NHL couldn't produce the documents they claimed to have.
Then the NHL claimed they controlled the rights to a second southern Ontario team and that this had nothing to do with the Sabres or the Leafs. Yet how many teams have moved in the last 10-20 years? Hartford? Winnipeg? Quebec? Dallas? How many times have we heard rumors of southern U.S. teams moving to Kansas City? Why was it made public that the Leafs would allow a 2nd Toronto team solely if they paid rent at the ACC? Why did some U.S. politicians petition the courts with concerns about the Sabres franchise?
Everybody knows it's just the NHL being the NHL again. Just as they did with Nashville (which is still in trouble). The Trashers are still in trouble. The Leafs gave $millions to the Lightning late (also in trouble) in the season and Bettman didn't seem to have any problem with that blatant circumvention of the NHL rules.
Why does the NHLPA put up with the NHL protecting broken teams at the expense of their revenue share?
I know why! Too many chickens. Nobody with the guts to stand up to Bettman, the Leafs and the Sabres. What we need is someone with the balls to do it. Like Balsillie. He's the solution to the current NHL problem. Let's support him. And let's stand up to the NHL and tell them that we want a team in Hamilton. Let's stand up to the Leafs. Let's stand up to the Sabres.
We just updated all the NHL rosters.
Southeast Preseason Preview
Sabres vs Rangers
The Rangers really don't have much chance here. They will need an amazing performance by Lundqvist to stand any chance. The key is gonna have to be Avery running Miller in the first 5 minutes of game one. The Rangers can't win this series straight up.
Senators vs Devils
The Devils played really bad against the Lightning and Brodeur bailed them out. The key to the series will be Emery. If Emery plays well, then the Senators should win, because the Devils simply don't compete outside of the crease.
Goaltending: +2 Devils
Offense: +2 Senators
Note: In the six series decided to date, I'm 6 for 6 in my predictions.
Sabres vs. Islanders
This will likely be a walk, since the Sabres are healthy and had good playoff experience last season. With DiPietro coming back off injury and not having played in a couple weeks, he might be stale for the first game. He is the key to the series. If he doesn't play his best hockey for six games, then the Islanders will be in trouble. The Islander push for the playoff was impressive, but nobody expect them to win and I think they've already hit their goal, just getting into the playoffs.
Devils vs. Lightning
This series should prove what is more valuable. Great scorers or a great goalie. The Devils would not have made the playoffs without Brodeur and the Lightning would not have made the playoffs without Lecavalier and St. Louis. My money is on the Devils, mostly because of the massive goaltending advantage. Holmqvist is by far the worst starting goaltender in this year's playoff and Brodeur is the best. But, with the recent problems in the Devils organization, I wouldn't preclude an upset. The key to this series is behind the bench. Will the Devils play for Lamoriello after he fired their coach?
Goaltending: +2 Devils
Offense: +2 Lightning
Thrasher vs. Rangers
This is looking like an upset. The Thrashers are new the playoffs and that usually means bad things. On the other hand, the Trashers have a scary defense and great scoring. Even if the Rangers win, they'll get beat up. Avery is the wild card in this series. He could lose it with the stupidity he's known for or he could play rough but smart and even up the Thrasher's physical advantage.
Senators vs. Penguins
The Penguins are the team of the future, but the Senators could be the team of 2007. The Senators are prime for a good playoff. They've changed the team. Brought in players that have performed in big tournaments (Heatley). Like the Trasher series, 1st year playoff teams like Pittsburgh often don't play up to playoff speed. The key to this series will be Crosby. Duh!? He could just want to win now and it'll happen.
Note: Even though the Leafs lead 5-0 after 2 period, the Lightning are winning 1-0 over the Canes. That game could mean the end of the Leaf season.
Action in Tampa
Notes: Antropov and Poniko are +13 to lead the team. Stajan and White are +6. Sundin and Harrison are +5. Wellwood is +4. No other pluses.
Notes: Watching the replays of all the games on TV, Burke for the Lightning looked horrible.
I think I just listened to the best Leaf game since Gerry Valk put the Leafs in the semis. Would have loved to watch that!
Sounds like the Leafs are gonna keep the fans interested to the end. Points in 5 straight games, but unless the Lightning choke, it's already over.