April 2010 - Hockey Wiretap
Pavelski, Sharks Strike Quickly
Joe Pavelski picked up where he left off in the first round by scoring two goals to lead the Sharks to a 4-3 win Thursday night over the Red Wings in Game 1 of the second-round Western Conference series, according to an Associated Press report.
Stanley Cup Playoffs Predictions (Second Round)
Western Conference #1 San Jose Sharks vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings San Jose: 51-20-11, 113 points, Home: 27-6-8 Detroit: 44-24-14, 102 points, Road: 19-14-8 This matchup is the worst-case scenario for the Sharks. San Jose has not made it past the 2nd round in nine for their last 10 playoff appearances and are known as perennial chokers who don?t possess that extra gear good postseason teams almost always have. As for Detroit, they have won four Stanley Cups in the last 12 seasons, and have made it to the Conference Finals in four of the last seven. Whenever Detroit seems in danger of falling short in the playoffs, their veteran core always finds a way to win when it matters ? as evidenced by their dominant 6-1 win over Phoenix in Game 7 of Round 1. Detroit?s star forwards ? Pavel Datsyuk had eight points and Henrik Zetterberg had 11 in the first round ? are big game players who have won cups and a Conn Smythe; San Jose?s star forwards ? Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau each had three points in the first round ? always seem to shrink away when it matters most (in fact it was the main reason that Marleau was stripped of his captaincy after last year?s first round exit, and why Thornton wasn?t the player it was given to). In net, there is an upstart rookie (Detroit?s Calder nominee Jimmy Howard) against a solid veteran (Evgeni Nabokov) ? but with Nabokov?s history of poor play in big games (both playoffs and the Olympics), it doesn?t give the Sharks much of an advantage. The Wings were 3-0-1 against the Sharks during the regular season, and you can expect more of the same. Prediction: Red Wings 4-2 #2 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #3 Vancouver Canucks Chicago: 52-22-8, 112 points, Home: 29-8-4 Vancouver: 49-28-5, 103 points, Road: 19-20-2 This contest is a rematch of last year?s 2nd round, where a young, unproven Hawks team took down the favored Canucks 4-2. The loss was so difficult on Canucks? goalie and captain Roberto Luongo that he was in tears during the post-game interviews ? mainly because he was the main culprit in Game 6?s 7-5 loss. These teams are generating quite a dislike for each other, and with both build for success for the next few years, we should see more of this new rivalry. Vancouver has the Sedin brothers rolling (10 points for Daniel, eight for Henrik) with new line-mate Mikael Samuelsson (7 goals, 11 points), but will need more from their supporting cast to have success against a Chicago team that allowed the fewest shots against this season, and allowed under 2.5 goals against per game. Chicago?s young stars Patrick Kane (7 points) and captain Jonathon Toews (8 points, 3 in the deciding game vs. Nashville) lead a very balanced attack up front, with Marion Hossa trying to expel his playoff demons (lost in the Cup Final two years in a row). While Chicago has a large edge on defense ? led by Olympic gold medalists Duncan Keith (Norris Trophy candidate) and Brent Seabrook ? Luongo gives the Canucks the edge in goal. Niemi doesn?t boast the experience that Luongo has, but behind a strong defense put up a very nice 2.15GAA and .921 save % in round 1 (2.92, .893 for Luongo, though against a stronger opponent). One stat to look at here is Canucks? road record, which is one of the poorest of all playoff teams, and I will call that the deciding factor in what could be an epic series after the teams split the season series 2-2. Prediction: Blackhawks 4-3 Eastern Conference #4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #8 Montreal Canadiens Pittsburgh: 47-28-7, 101 points, Home: 25-12-4 Montreal: 39-33-10, 88 points, Road: 19-17-5 Can the improbable run of the 8th seeded Habs continue against the defending Stanley Cup champs? It won?t be easy. In order to advance, Montreal will need goaltender Jaroslav Halak to be as spectacular as he was vs. Washington in Round 1, where he stopped 131 of 134 shots in the final three games. He was absolutely in a zone and single-handedly put Montreal over the top. Across the rink from him is Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been shaky at best throughout the entire season and playoffs. But lest we forget that he won a Stanley Cup against the then defending champion Red Wings just eleven months ago. Not only will Montreal need their goalie to be spectacular, but they need their defense to continue clogging the lanes and not allowing shots from danger areas; Montreal blocked 182 shots in the first round, 26 per game and over 40 in Game 7 alone. Pittsburgh is far more sound defensively than Washington was though, so it will be harder for Montreal to take advantage of the few opportunities per game they are likely to get. The duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, while comparable to the Caps duo that the Habs disposed of, are more diverse in their skills and will be a bit more of a handful both offensively and defensively. Crosby led all scorers with 14 points in the first round, and will look to build on a career-best 51 goals in the regular season. He won a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal in the last 11 months, and capping it off with a second Cup would elevate him farther ahead of Ovechkin in their head-to-head rivalry ? maybe to a level that Ovie can?t match. Not to mention the hullabaloo sure to ensue if Crosby dominates the team that dominated Ovie for the last three games. In a watered down East (seeds 4, 6, 7, 8 now remain), I like the Pens? chances of getting to the Finals three years in a row, despite Halak stealing two games. Prediction: Penguins 4-2 #6 Boston Bruins vs. #7 Philadelphia Flyers Boston: 39-30-13, 91 points, Home: 18-17-6 Philadelphia: 41-35-6, 88 points, Road: 17-21-3 Raise your hands if you had the 6th seeded Bruins having home ice advantage in the 2nd round. Liars. The Bruins were on the cusp of missing out on the playoffs entirely with weeks to play in the regular season, and here they sit with home ice and their best offensive player (Marc Savard) returning from injury. They made it past Buffalo thanks to rookie goalie Tuuka Rask, who outplayed ? by a slim margin ? Vezina favourite Ryan Miller. The difference was, the Bruins? last ranked offense found a scoring touch it didn?t have all season. You have to figure that they will at least be able to maintain that with Savard coming back, though he likely won?t be at full speed for a couple of games. Boston also benefited from a Sabres team lacking firepower ? especially without their best scorer Thomas Vanek who missed a couple of games. But Philadelphia is a more dangerous offensive team, though they are also lacking some scorers with Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne both undergoing foot surgery. The Flyers have better forwards than Buffalo did though, led by captain and gold medalist Mike Richards who is a great two-way center that will give the other team fits every shift. Claude Giroux stepped up huge with two goals in the clincher against Martin Brodeur and the Devils in round 1 and will need to be a factor again here. Behind them is a great d-line with Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn. Career journeyman Brian Boucher, who once upon a time he had five consecutive shutouts (2003-04) and is looking to regain his status as a starting goalie in the NHL. Boucher led all goalies in the first round with a .940 save percentage and 1.59 goals against, and that was against a much better Devils team. This series has all the makings of a knock ?em down drag ?em out 7 game battle. But note the Bruins? subpar home record, which could play a factor here. Prediction: Flyers 4-3 Nick?s record: 5-3 (Oh come on, who had Washington, New Jersey and Buffalo all losing?) Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at @nickobergan
Wings Face Fine For Landing Late At San Jose Airport
The Red Wings made a decision before their playoff series with the Sharks that might cost them money. The Red Wings chose to land their plane at 12:19 a.m. Wednesday, 49 minutes past curfew at San Jose International Airport, and face a $2,500 fine by the airport, according to an Associated Press report on Thursday.
Rivet's Shoulder May Need Surgery
Sabres captain Craig Rivet likely will have surgery to repair a nagging left shoulder injury that may force him to miss the start of next season, according to an Associated Press report on Thursday.
Capitals Send Alzner, Carlson To AHL Hershey
Defensemen Karl Alzner and John Carlson have been assigned by the Capitals to Hershey of the AHL, according to an Associated Press report on Thursday.
Hart MVP Finalists: Crosby, Ovechkin, Sedin
Penguins star Sidney Crosby and Capitals counterpart Alex Ovechkin joined Henrik Sedin of the Canucks as finalists for the Hart Trophy on Wednesday, according to an Associated Press report. The winner of the league MVP award will be announced June 23 in Las Vegas.
Jackets Sign D Cody Goloubef To Three-Year Deal
The Blue Jackets have signed defenseman Cody Goloubef to a standard three-year entry level contract, GM Scott Howson announced today. As is club policy, terms were not disclosed. Goloubef, 20, registered three goals and 11 assists for 14 points, 64 penalty minutes and was +13 in 42 games during his junior season at the University of Wisconsin in 2009-10. He ranked third among club defensemen in points and plus/minus rating and helped the Badgers reach the National Championship game. ?Cody comes from a very successful program at Wisconsin and we believe it is the right time for him to begin his professional career? Howson said.
Ruff Will Remain With Sabres
The Sabres have picked up the one-year option on coach Lindy Ruff?s contract, which means he will be back for a 13th season, according to an Associated Press report. Minority owner Larry Quinn announced the move during a news conference Thursday, three days after Buffalo was eliminated by Boston in their first-round series.
Montreal Stuns Capitals In Game 7
Jaroslav Halak made 41 saves and his teammates combined to block a whopping 41 shots, as eighth-seeded Montreal held on to beat Washington 2-1 Wednesday night, stunning the Capitals by reeling off three consecutive victories to take the first-round series, according to an Associated Press report.
Top Coach Finalists: Sacco, Tippett, And Trotz
Joe Sacco of the Avalanche, Dave Tippett of the Coyotes and Barry Trotz of the Predators were named finalists Wednesday for the Jack Adams Award, which is presented to the coach of the year, as reported by ESPN.com.
Leafs Sign Scrivens To One-Year Deal
The Leafs have signed college free agent Ben Scrivens to a one year, entry-level contract.
Wings Rout Coyotes, Will Face Top-Seeded Sharks
The Red Wings buried the Coyotes 6-1 in Game 7 of their first-round series on Tuesday night.
Capitals' Poti Will Miss Game 7
Capitals D Tom Poti will miss Game 7 against the Canadiens on Wednesday night after getting hit in the eye by a puck.
Savard Cleared To Play
Bruins C Marc Savard has been cleared to play and will be available for the team's second-round playoff series.
Ovechkin: No Panic In Capitals
The Capitals are headed to Game 7 after jumping out to a 3-1 lead against the Canadiens.
Chicago Eliminates Predators With 5-3 Win
The Blackhawks beat the Predators 5-3 on Monday night to advance to the Western Conference semifinals for the second straight year.
Bruins Beat Sabres To Advance To Eastern Semifinals
The Bruins beat the Sabres 4-3 in Games 6 Monday night to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Halak Makes 53 Saves, Canadiens Force Game 7
The Canadiens beat the Capitals 4-1 on Monday night to force a Game 7 in the first-round series.
Devils Coach Jacques LeMaire Retires
Devils head coach Jacques LeMaire has retired four days after his team was eliminated by the Flyers.
Sedin's Goal Eliminates Kings
The Canucks finished off the Kings with a 4-2 win in Game 6 Sunday night.
Hossa Avoids Suspension
Blackhawks F Marian Hossa avoided a suspension from the NHL for his hit on Predators D Dan Hamhuis.
Vanek, Savard May Return For Game 6
Thomas Vanek and Marc Savard both hope to return to their respective teams' lineup on Monday night in Boston.
Coyotes Win In Detroit To Force Game 7
Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves in leading the Coyotes to a 5-2 win over the Red Wings on Sunday.
Penguins Beat Senators To Advance
The Penguins beat the Senators 4-3 in OT Saturday night to move to the second round of the playoffs.
Sharks Advance To Next Round
The top-seeded Sharks defeated the Avalanche 5-2 on Saturday night to advance to the next round of the NHL playoffs.
NHL Recinds Penalty Against Bruins' Chara
Bruins D Zdeno Chara will play in Game 6 against the Sabres on Monday.
Hossa's OT Goal Gives Blackhawks 3-2 Series Lead
Marian Hossa scored the game winner in OT for the Blackhawks against the Predators on Saturday.
Samuelsson Leads Canucks Past Kings To Take 3-2 Series Lead
The Canucks routed the Kings 7-2 on Friday night to grab a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Sabres Score Early Against Bruins To Extend Series
The Sabres beat the Bruins 4-1 on Friday night to force a sixth game in their first-round playoff series.