Monday, July 2, 2007

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Game 2 Devils-Lightning

Game 2 of the Devils-Lightning series is tonight at 7. First a quick recap of game 1. Devils played a solid game and never really lost control of the game even when Tampa tied it at 3. They took a few bad penalties though that lead to Tampa goals. Goaltending was the biggest factor as Marty played outstanding in the third holding the Devils lead until they could get that gift from Holmqvist that lead to the game sealing goal. Holmqvist was shaky all game giving up a a soft Parise goal and an Elias shot from the corner of the blueline. Then of course there was the decision to move the puck at the end of the game. If Tampa wants to stay in this series he has to play better.

Here are the Devils keys to game 2:
-Don't take penalties. This means you Johnny Oduya. He took two bad penalties in game one giving Tampa 5 on 3. The refs were calling the game tight as Bettman was in attendance. The Devils have to be careful to not go to the box in game 2.
- Madden and Pandolfo have to step up a little more. All 3 Lightning goals were scored by Lecavier and St. Louis. Madden and Pandolfo need to do a better job of shutting those two down.
-Just shoot the puck. Holmqvist looked very shaky in game one. Don't try to be fancy just fire pucks at him.

The game is at 7pm EDT at the Continental Airlines Arena. The game is on FSNY, CBC in Canada, and

Other playoff action today:
Pittsburgh vs Ottawa game 2. NBC
Rangers vs. Atlanta game 2. NBC
Islanders vs. Buffalo game 7. Versus.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Predicting the Playoffs

Alright it's Stanley Cup Playoff time and that means every hockey blog must make its predictions on what is going to happen. This blog is no different so here it is round 1 predictions with breakdowns.

Eastern Conference:
#1 Buffalo Sabres vs. #8 Islanders: The Islanders are on a Cinderella run into the playoffs hitting a hot streak in the final week of the season to get it. Now Ted Nolan and the Islanders will take on the team that fired him 9 years ago after winning the Jack Adams Award. If ever there was an upset story this is it. You have the old coach who was in exile coming back to face his old team. You have the 15 year franchise goalie getting injured jeopardizing a playoff spot. His backup then struggles and then a 5 foot 10 call up from the AHL named Wade Dubielewicz comes in and saves the season. AS for the Sabres they were the unquestioned number 1 team all year. That said they aren't as good as everyone is making them out to be. They road the loser point and shootout to the Presidents trophy. They are certainly the best team in the east but they aren't any better than other number 1 seed that has been upset in the past. If they were playing the Leafs I would say Sabres in 5. That said I have a gut feeling (or maybe I want to see the Sabres out as soon as possible because they scare me) that the Isles are going to pull the upset.

Islanders in 7

#2 New Jersey Devils vs #7 Tampa Bay Lightning: I already talked about the keys to this series in the Devils will play the Lightning post. To repeat though Tampa has the worst goaltending in the playoffs. The Devils just need to get shots on net (which can be a struggle at time). I think Madden and Pandolfo can shut down Lecavier and St. Louis and Brodeur can take care of the rest. If Lecavier or St. Louis get extremely hot Tampa can overcome their goalie but I think they can be held in check.

New Jersey in 6

#3 Atlanta Thrashers vs #6 New York Rangers: I said in the middle of the year that Atlanta would be 1 round and done because of their defense. Now they improved it a little at the deadline but it still isn't good. On top of that they are untested and facing a hot goalie in Lundqvist. If Lundqvist cools off this could be a 7 game series and Atlanta would have a shot.

Rangers in 6

#4 Ottawa Senators vs #5 Pittsburgh Penguins: This is about as even a series as there is. Both teams have explosive offenses and goaltending that has some questions when it comes to the playoffs. Emery had a bad post-season last year and Fluery has never played in the playoffs. This series is going to distance possible even overtime in game 7. I like the young guns in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh in 7

Western Conference:
#1 Detroit Red Wings vs. #8 Calgary Flames: Calgary is better than your typical 8 seed but they have struggled on the road this year. Although they have played better on the road recently I think the struggles will haunt them in this series. Detroit is a tougher team than in the past and will overcome their recent first round problems.

Detroit in 5

#2 Anaheim Ducks vs #7 Minnesota Wild: This will be a defensive series. The Ducks are built on defense with Niedermayer and Pronger. The Wild well are coached by Lemaire. The Wild really only have 1 offensive line which will be easy for the Ducks to shutdown.

Anaheim in 5

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs #6 Dallas Stars: This series features 2 goalies looking to prove themselves. In Vancouver you have Luongo who is making his first playoff appearance. In Dallas you have Marty Turco who is looking to make up for past playoff disappointments. I think this series goes the distance but Turco finally rises to the occasion.

Dallas in 7

#4 Nashville Predators vs #5 San Jose Sharks: If any team got screwed by the NHL points format it's the Sharks. They won 49 games (the most) by actually playing hockey. If it wasn't for the shootout and loser point the Sharks would have been the Presidents trophy winner. There reward for winning games by actually playing the game they get the Nashville Predators won 45 games without the shootout. The Predators gambles at the trade deadline by giving a lot up for Forsberg. That said I like the Sharks to go deep in the playoffs.

San Jose in 6.

Now for the rest of the playoffs. I'll give breakdown for the actual match ups then.

Round 2
Devils over Islanders in 5
Rangers over Penguins in 7

Detroit over Dallas in 6
San Jose over Anaheim in 7

Round 3
New Jersey over Rangers in 7

San Jose over Detroit in 6

Stanley Cup Finals
New Jersey Devils over San Jose Sharks in 6 (Yea, I'm a homer)

So there are my picks. Don't put too much stock in them Maggie the Monkey will probably out pick me.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

A New Point System

In Larry Brooks' column in the New York Post on Sunday he argues that the NHL should go to a new point system where a regulation win gets 2 points a shootout win gets 1 (OT would be eliminated) and a loss of any type gets 0. His argument against the current system is the same as all the other complaints it inflates points, rewards losing, and punishing teams that win in 60. I have never seen his points proposal done so I decided to look at the standing using his format although slightly adjusted because overtime exist.

For the standings below a team gets 2 points for a regulation or OT win, 1 point for a shootout win, and 0 points for a loss of any kind.

UPDATED Through the end of the season

Atlantic W L SW P
New Jersey 39 33 10 88
Pittsburgh 37 35 10 84
NY Rangers 33 40 9 75
NY Islanders 33 42 7 72
Philadelphia 21 60 1 43

Northeast W L SW P
Buffalo 43 29 10 96
Ottawa 46 34 2 94
Montreal 36 40 6 78
Toronto 36 42 4 76
Boston 26 47 9 61

Southeast W L SW P
Carolina 40 42 0 80
Atlanta 36 39 7 79
Tampa 34 38 10 78
Florida 33 47 2 68
Washington 27 54 1 55

Central W L SW P
Detriot 48 32 2 98
Nashville 45 31 6 96
St. Louis 28 48 6 62
Columbus 28 49 5 61
Chicago 26 50 6 58

Northwest W L SW P
Vancouver 44 33 5 93
Minnesota 38 34 10 86
Calgary 40 39 3 83
Colorado 39 38 5 83
Edmonton 29 50 3 61

Pacific W L SW P
San Jose 49 31 2 100
Anaheim 44 34 4 92
Dallas 40 32 9 89
Phoenix 26 51 5 57
Los Angeles 23 55 4 50

Conference Standings:
Team PTS
BUF 96
NJ 88
CAR 80
OTT 94
ATL 79
MON 78
TAM 78
TOR 76
NYR 75
NYI 72
FLA 68
BOS 61
WSH 55
PHI 43

Team PTS
SJ 100
DET 98
VAN 93
NSH 96
ANA 92
DAL 89
MIN 86
CGY 83
COL 83
STL 62
EDM 61
CBJ 61
CHI 58
PHX 57
LA 50

To compare here is the current NHL standings

It's clear why the NHL will never adopt this, the point totals will plummet to lower to what they were before the 1999-2000 bonus point was introduced. There would be only 1 100 point team (San Jose) and only 12-13 (depending on the Colorado result tonight) would be above .500 point percentage wise which makes the league look mediocre. There would be also be a below .500 (with 0 shootout wins) division champion. The reason for the point drop to below the old 2 for a win 1 for a tie format is because you cutting out the tie points in half. If OT was eliminated as Brooks wants points would be even lower.

That said there are some big changes. For one San Jose who will start the playoffs on the road would be the Presidents Trophy winners as the only 100 point team. Carolina who will missed the playoffs would be the Southeast Division champs and would have home ice. Also last nights Montreal and Toronto game would have been meaningless as Montreal would have made it anyways. The Islanders would have finished far back and the Rangers who are the 6th seed would have missed as well.

This system is probably more fair but because of the illusion of more worse teams than there are this won't be adopted in the NHL.

Clemmensen Starting

Doc on NBC just reported that Scott Clemmensen will probably get the start! Leaf Nation is already starting to cry.

Brett Hull's take on Julien Firing

I just saw Brett Hull's "Slap Shots" on NBC which was supposed to be his opinion on the Julien firing. One problem it was pretty much taken right from the AP story on it from Monday.

Also can someone explain to me why NBC dropped the Devils-Islanders game. 3 weeks ago when it happened it was clear that was going to be the biggest game today, and guess what it is. Instead it's Buffalo-Philly the top team versus the worst team.

Devils to Face Lightning in Round 1

Well the playoff match up is set, with their shootout loss to Atlanta Tampa clinched the 7th seed and will play the Devils in round 1. The series will probably begin on Thursday. The season series between the two was a lackluster one that lacked intensity. The first game Tampa won in a shootout, the second was a Devils shutout, third was a Tampa blowout, and the final was Tampa beating the Lowell Devils. Tampa won the season series 2-1-1 but each team only had 1 quality win over each other. Tampa has struggled recently and have probably the worst goaltending going into the playoffs. If the Devils can actually hit the net (which is a struggle sometimes) they should win it easily. Unless of course Madden and Pandolfo get hurt and then Lacavier and St. Louis can run wild. That said Devils in 5 maybe 6.

As for other happenings last night Toronto beat Montreal in a sloppy game. That means Toronto needs the Devils to beat the Islanders today. There has been a lot of talk of will Brodeur play. I would like to see him play because if he doesn't it would be a week between starts which is to much for him. That said if the game should go to the shootout Cam Janssen should take a shot. It would be funny if he got the game winner and put Toronto in the playoffs. However he would probably miss which means that Toronto would probably be knocked out which is a plus.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Islanders @ Flyers

Ok, I'll try to update my thoughts after each period.

1-0 Islanders 1st Intermission

The Islanders came out flying knowing they need to win this game. Got a quick power play goal by Satan. They almost made it 2-0 on a shot that hit the crossbar and they had a few other chances. Philly had a few chances but the play was mostly in their zone. They seem like they just want to get out of there and hit the golf course. They also did the Islanders a favor by starting Nittymaki who seems lost. The Leafs must love that decision. Despite the play being in the Flyers zone most of the time they have out shot the Islanders 11-8. The Islanders need to start hitting the net.

UPDATE: 3-0 Islanders about half way through the second.

The Islanders once again got a quick power play goal from Yashin a minute or so into the Period. The Islanders scored again about half way through the period to make it 3-0. This game is all but over. The Devils depending on what happens tonight might control Toronto's destiny.

UPDATE 2: 3-1 Islanders as the 3rd is starting.

Flyers got a second period goal to make it a two goal game. They are getting some chances so this could be a good finish.

Update 3: Still 3-1 Islanders little over 3 minutes left in the game.

Eager took a penalty then went screaming at the refs, got a double minor and a misconduct he is done for the game. Isles on power play for the rest of the game. That will ice it they will win and will need Toronto to win tonight.

Update 4: 3-1 Islander 2:54 to go

Idiot Poti took a penalty. 4 on 4 Flyers. pull the goalie.

Update 5: 3-2 Islanders little over a minute to go

Flyers took a penalty but score shorthanded. Still have a chance to win.

Final: 4-2 Islanders

Poti gets the empty net to seal it. Strong the game by the Islanders but a poor third period. Now they need Toronto to win tonight. Nightmare scenario for the Islander is that game is tied late in the game and Toronto has to pull their goalie and Montreal gets the empty net winner.

Canucks-Sharks in 30, then at 7 it's a bunch of games mainly though Toronto-Montreal.

What a Day for Hockey!

Well this is it the final 2 days of the regular season and what is the biggest day of the the season. Most of the playoff spots will be decided today or make it clear for what has to happen tomorrow. The action starts at 1:00 and Battle of New York blog will be live blogging throughout the day so check them out. I will be in and out giving my thoughts. Here are the relevant games to the last Eastern Conference playoff spot and games that affect the Devils.

1:00pm EDT- New York Islanders @ Philadelphia Flyers (Sopcast channels 10599& 17007)- Islanders need win and some help to stay alive.
4:00pm Vancouver Canucks @ San Jose Sharks (CBC/Sopcast 17007& 22078)- Sharks win ensures that Brodeur will hold onto the single season win record.
7:00pm Tampa Bay Lightning @ Atlanta Thrashers ( Lightning lose they will play the Devils in the first round. They win they would need a Rangers loss to avoid New Jersey.
7:00pm Michigan State Spartans vs Boston College Eagles (ESPN)- Non-NHL related but this is the NCAA Ice Hockey Championship.
7:30pm New York Rangers @ Pittsburgh Penguins (Sopcast 16917)- Rangers win they get the 6th seed and the Devils face the Lightning.
7:00pm Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs (CBC/Sopcast 15678& 22078)- This is the big one Habs vs Leafs for the last playoff spot on Hockey Night in Canada. Toronto must win this game in regulation to stay alive and hope the Isles lose on of their last 2 games. Habs win they are in but if the Leafs win in Overtime they will be eliminated and the Isles could sneak by Montreal with a win this afternoon and a win tomorrow in New Jersey.

There you have it 6 great games to keep an eye on today.
NHL Internet Schedule Scoreboard
NHL on Yahoo

Datsyuk Resigned by Wings

Pavel Datsyuk was resigned by the Red Wings today for 46.9 million over 7 years or a 6.7 million per year cap average. Quite a bit of money for someone who hasn't done anything in the playoff. The immediate talk is how this will effect how much Gomez is going to get. First off players always get more than the fans and observers think they are going to get. That is because there is the value which most people think a player is worth and this is a value that all the team interested think the player is worth. In order to sign them a team must go over that value because the player is going to get that value offer from the other teams. Thus players get more. So Gomez is going to get more than most of us think he is (or at least will be offered more than we think he will be). That said there is a couple of things to remember, 1 is the cap is going to go up and probably significantly as the players will probably get a higher share. That is going to give the Devils (and the other teams) more money to spend. Secondly Gomez this season has 17 less points than Datsyuk and has struggled this year. That is going to hurt is value. Given what Datsyuk got from the Wings I would guess that Gomez would get around 6-6.5 million per year on the free agent market. That would be a million to a million and half increase over his current salary. Meaning if the cap goes up as expected the Devils would probably be able to afford it. I also think those figures are what each parties were expected anyways going into free agency. This could all be meaningless however as it is rumored that he is looking to go west and closer to home (perhaps Vancouver?) anyways.

Wings' Datsyuk signs 7-year extension- TSN

Friday, April 6, 2007

4-6-07 NHL Scoreboard/ Looking to Tomorrow

Talk about laying an egg! In a game the Lightning needed if they wanted to win the Southeast against the Florida Panthers, who are heading to the golf courses next week, they lost 7 to 2. That's right 7-2! It wasn't even that close, 1 minute into the third the Panthers scored to give them a 7-0 lead. Tampa scored two 3rd period goals to make it "close". Meanwhile Atlanta beat Carolina 4-1 clinching the Southeast and the third seed. Back to Tampa however they have to be the worst team going into playoffs. Their goaltending is terrible. I have no clue what Jay Feaster was doing giving Brad Richards a max contracted as a restricted FA when it was clear they needed a top goalie. Now they are going into the playoffs with 2 backup goalies and no starters. I know I said earlier that I thought the Thrashers defense would doom them and they would be one and done but I take that back. The lightning will be the one a done team on the off chance the two meet in round 1. The Lightning will probably get the 7th seed and play the Devils (although it is possible they could get the 6th) so let's hope the Devils penchant for making backup goalies look like Vezina winners doesn't show up in the playoffs.

Moving on to tomorrow. Saturday is probably the biggest day in the NHL as all or most of the playoff spots and seeds will be determined. The headline game is Montreal at Toronto where the winner takes all (sort of)on Hockey Night in Canada. Toronto better be aware of the playoff scenarios going in because if the game is tied late in the third they will need to pull their goalie. If the game goes to overtime Montreal will go to the playoffs. If Toronto wins in regulation they would need Islanders to lose Saturday against Philly or Sunday against the Devils. The Islanders need to win both and have Toronto win Saturday night (in regulation or OT) to get in. Personally nothing would be funnier than the Leafs forgetting they would need to pull the goalie and end up not getting in because the game went to Overtime.

Marty breaks Record, Devils Clinch Division

Well the Devils not wanting to wait till the last day of the season took care of business last night and beat the Flyers 3-2 to clinch the Atlantic. The power play finally decided to show up as the team fell behind earlier but score 2 power play goals to draw even twice. The game winner was scored shorthanded by Jumpin' Jim Dowd (Tom Chorske's nickname not mine) who has always been clutch. The win because it gives the team an extra game to play around with. Which means if Matvichuk can go they will probably be able to send a couple guys down (Jassen, who's hurt, and Greene) and get him a game before the playoffs.

Also the 3-2 win gave Martin Brodeur his 48th win of the season breaking Bernie Parent's single season record for 47 wins. The record breaker has set off the debate on whether an asterisk should be placed next to 48 wins because he set it in a season with shootouts (which guarantees each game has a winner) and to a lesser extent overtime (which didn't exist when Parent played). Here is my take on the whole thing. If you asked me which is more impressive I would say Parent's 47 wins. The shootout did give Marty a huge advantage that Parent didn't have. That said I would not place an asterisk next to the record. The reason being is because an asterisk has such a negative connotation to it when it comes to sports record that it is unfair to place it next this. Especially because the asterisk currently is associated with Barry Bonds and his using steroids to climb up the home run latter. Unlike Bonds, Brodeur and Luongo didn't cheat to get this record. The shootout was something out of their hands. If the NHL was to make the eras separate with anew modern era starting after the lockout fine but an asterisk and what one is associated with should not be place next to Brodeur single season win record.

As for the upcoming playoffs the Devils will be the 2 seed. As of now they will rather face the Lightning or the Rangers. The Thrashers clinched the Southeast tonight and they will get the third seed. If the Rangers beat the Penguins or if Tampa losses again the Devils will play the Lightning.

Devils 3, Flyers 2