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.
Here's my 1st round predictions for the 2009 NHL Playoffs.
CBC now provides an interface for creating your own highlight reels. I created my own, which you can view at the link below. There's less than 100 plays to choose from, some of which aren't highlight worthy, but it was fun. I picked the best, which didn't include any goals or save as they weren't any great goals or saves. Unfortunately, you can't embed the video. Check it out! And create your own.
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
I watched the Leaf game at Crabby Joe's restaurant. Once again, the opposition's goalie made great save after great save 28 in total and Belfour made 18 saves on 22 shots and in fact, one of the shots was from well behind the net, which Belfour kicked into his own goal. Where's Tellqvist?
With goalies with at least 10 games players, Belfour's GAA ranks 45th, Save % ranks 37th. Tellqvist is 22nd and 18th. Belfour also ranks 3rd in losses, trailing only Luongo and Kolzig. Both Luongo and Kolzig average 30 saves per game, because the team in front of them really suck defensively. Belfour averages 27 saves per game, because the team in front of him is that much better. And let me suggest that the quality of shots handled by Belfour is very low, because most teams are now shooting from well out on Belfour, knowing that he is struggling such.
Just look at the 8 goals allowed against the Rangers; slapshot from 29 ft thru the leg (1st Friday), wristshot from 22 ft (2nd Friday), wristshot from bottom of the faceoff circle (4th Friday), form behind the net (1st Saturday), 37 ft slap (2nd Saturday), 28 ft snap (3rd Saturday), 40 ft slap (4th Saturday). Other than Poti's goal, none were very good scoring chances. I'm not saying he should have stopped them all, but he's not stopping anywhere near enough.
Missed the 1st period. Tae Kwan Do practice for the kids.
The Onion: Less than six months since players returned from a yearlong lockout, hockey is once again in turmoil following last week's announcement that "goaltending," or attempting to obstruct a shot on goal or impede the puck's progress with one's body or stick, would become a two-minute minor penalty, a rule change that went into effect Monday. "Increasing scoring with rule changes and cracking down on obstruction is one thing," said Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Curtis Joseph, who claims his job is being banned by the league. "But to take a page from the NBA and just outlaw goaltending outright… Maybe it's just me, but I think that rule just plain goes against the spirit of hockey." Veteran NHL centers, forwards, and some defensemen took issue with Joseph's remarks, claiming he was still angry over being penalized seven times in the Coyotes' Monday night game against Dallas, in which Joseph had zero saves and lost 88-105.
The stars were Kilger (1st), Thibault and McCabe.