(Getty Images 2011)
Of course I’m talking about the Leafs, who will be drafting at #25 and #30 after the Bruins destroyed the Canucks in Vancouver last night.
The Canucks’ best players didn’t play like their best. In fact, they may have been their worst. Roberto Luongo can’t really be blamed for the loss, but he really didn’t do much to help his team win.
The Sedin twins, on the other hand, were atrocious. Both were -4 on the night, while Alex Burrows was -3. Not much of a top line.
Photo Credit: baynews9.com
It’s how you hope every hockey year will end. You dream about scoring the game winner and lifting the most glorious trophy in all of sports at the end of just such a game. Even if your team doesn’t feature in this, most glorious of all hockey games, if you’re a true hockey fan, it will still send positive shivers down your spine. You’re anxious for that puck drop, knowing that whichever team comes out on top that very night, they will be crowned champions. Ladies and gentlemen, hockey fans around the globe, itâ€™s time for a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The 2011 Stanley Cup Finals have been quite a rollercoaster so far. It has been one of the strangest series I have ever witnessed showcasing both the crowning virtues and crippling flaws of our great game. Vancouver won all of their three games at home. All were extremely tight, low scoring affairs. Boston also won all of their three games at home, but with a combined score of 17-3. An offensive regular season juggernaut stymied throughout the series. A PP that went through a drought equal to that of the Sahara desert improved in the Finals, one of the leagueâ€™s best defensive teams tearing it up offensively when it mattered most. Injuries, some horrific in nature, some in intent, sidelined skilled forwards Nathan Horton and Mason Raymond for what surely would have been the game of their lives.
In keeping with the juvenile back and forth exchanges stemming from the Alex Burrows biting incident, is anyone else disappointed that Tim Thomas didn’t tell the post-game media scrum “those three goals would have been easy saves for me” after last night’s Bruins rout? The Canucks are certainly happy they ultimately hold the home ice advantage in this series; TD Garden will be giving Luongo and the Canucks nightmares after conceding 17 goals and scoring only three in three games in Boston this Stanley Cup Final.
Luongo was pulled after conceding three goals in three minutes and four seconds last night, and you would think entering the all-deciding Game 7 on that note might sound a little disconcerting. However, Luongo has been pulled more times than you can count now in these playoffs and has always bounced back positively. Just in this series, he’s been blown out in all three games in Boston but allowed only two goals in three games at Rogers Arena, posting two shutouts. A bizarre series of rollercoaster-like momentum changes and a ton of controversy between two teams who by this point positively despise each other will be decided by one, final game. I don’t think the NHL (this will be the ultimate showcase) or neutral supporters could have asked for more from this Final.
Photo Credit: classicauctions.net
Here we are. After months of great hockey we find ourselves at a dismal place. Yes, unfortunately, it could all be over today. The unfortunate part isnâ€™t in that the Canucks could be crowned champions, even if they havenâ€™t quite displayed the character traits most of us would like to see in a Stanley Cup winner.
No, ladies and gentlemen, the sadness comes from the realization that hockey will be gone for quite some time. Starting tonight or Wednesday, it really doesnâ€™t matter. Seeing how this is probably my last mashup before the Finals are over, please allow a little ode to hockey.
In a series where the Boston Bruins have outscored Vancouver 10-6, with 8 of those goals coming in Game 4, it is bordering on unfamiliar territory for both teams to be tied at no goals midway through the third period. As is often the case in these tight games, one bounce (or in this case two in the same play) proved to be the difference. After Kevin Bieksa’s bank pass of the boards took the perfect bounce out front to Maxim Lapierre, the former Hab bounced in the biggest goal of his career off of a sprawling Tim Thomas. After having a clear advantage in Games 3 & 4 while rallying behind the loss Nathan Horton, the Bruins are now in a difficult position to climb back into the series. They must hold serve at home and hope to break the home ice advantage in game 7 to complete the comeback.
The Stanley Cup will be in the building on Monday night in Boston, with the Canucks looking to become the first Canadian team to take home the trophy since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. Almost looking down and out despite the 2-2 series score, the Canucks with a massive game 5 win are back on top, in control, and on the brink of winning it all. One win for Vancouver and it’s over.
Let me just start by saying I was presently surprised by how the Bruins managed to stick to their gameplan last night in another route of the Canucks. What exactly is that gameplan? Hit, hit, and more hitting.
It’s just mind-boggling to see this series turn around the way it has. After the first two Canucks wins in Vancouver I figured they would go back to Boston, get a split and possibly end this thing on home ice Friday – not the case. And in a matter of two games I’m almost looking at this series in the sense that Boston were really two bounces away from a sweep.
In the wake of the Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton Monday night, there were mixed reviews on the severity of the incident and debate over the number of games Rome would be suspended for. Bruins fans, quite unsurprisingly, felt Rome should be booted for the remainder of the post season, while Canucks fans – of course – thought he deserved only one or two games, deeming that it was an unfortunate result to an otherwise clean hit.
After taking all of the evidence into consideration and reviewing different angles of the replay, interim NHL disciplinarian Mike Murphy announced a four-game suspension for Rome, sidelining him for the remainder of the post-season. Whether or not you agree with the ruling, the league needed to take a stand against illegal hits (and late hits, in this case) to send a message to the other 29 teams that they will not be tolerated.
Photo: Yahoo Sports
Itâ€™s about as close to a â€œget out of jail freeâ€ card as the NHL could get. When the Canucksâ€™ Aaron Rome decided to step up and clobber Nathan Horton last night, everyone immediately knew the hit was questionable. It’s become engrained in our minds (a good thing, perhaps?).
Upon further review, and some slo-mo replays, it looked like Romeâ€™s hit was a bit late. Though Iâ€™ve seen much, much worse over the past few years.
The result was scary, but I wouldnâ€™t call Rome a vicious player by any means.
Either way, the leagueâ€™s disciplinarian Mike Murphy is faced with one of the easiest suspensions heâ€™ll ever hand out. Not because the hit was easy to categorize as dirty, it wasnâ€™t. In realtime itâ€™s actually a Â pretty tough call to make.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Don’t poke the bear. Pretty simple message that one. Itâ€™s also one that the Vancouver Canucks choose to ignore in just the worst possible hour. With just 5:07 played in the first period Aaron Rome took a really late hit on Bostonâ€™s Nathan Horton. The hit sent Horton on the stretcher and into the hospital but it also set the Bruins in a frenzy.
Now, at the risk of sounding like a Don Cherry type of guy, I have to say my peace. The way Vancouver played and carried themselves during these playoffs is wrong and this is coming from a guy who defended Torres after the Seabrook hit.
Photo Credit: legendsofhockey.net, the 1942 team
Tonight can’t come fast enough if you’re the Boston Bruins or the Vancouver Canucks. For Boston, it means a chance to get back into the swing of things by winning Game 3 in your own building. For Vancouver, it means a chance to put a stranglehold on the series.
A chance the magnitude of which is better explained by going over the probability of a 3-0 deficit comebacks throughout the course of time. In the leagueâ€™s history only 3 teams managed a 3-0 series comeback. In 1975, after opening their Stanley Cup quarterfinal series with three losses to the Penguins, the New York Islanders put together a four-game streak, completing the comeback with a 1-0 win in Pittsburgh. Then of course, we have the Philadelphia Flyers last year and…
Lots of Leaf-related content out there this morning, with an emphasis on Brad Richards and the possibility of him signing with the Leafs this summer. With game two of the Stanley Cup Finals getting underway tonight, feel free to share your predictions in the comments below.
Links after the jump
Photo Credit: Rick Ernst, PNG
Alex Burrows bit someone, Henrik Sedin flopped around, and Raffi Torres eventually scored the lone goal, and what would obviously be the game winner for the Vancouver Canucks last night. It wasn’t an overtime goal, but it may as well have been.
The Bruins actually played a great road game until the third period, their five on five play was excellent. And in the area of special teams, their penalty kill totally made up for the fact that their powerplay is laughable.
The Canucks really didn’t get a lot going on the powerplay, and Tim Thomas was great in the early and late stages of the game. But one slip up in the final seconds of the third proved costly, as Jannik Hansen threaded a pass to Torres for an easy tap in and a 1-0 series lead for Vancouver.
There are a few links to get to, so let’s check it out.
After 16 years of frustration and uncertainty, the Winnipeg fan base has finally be rewarded with an NHL team to support. In what was an ongoing process between the Atlanta Thrashers ownership group, the Atlanta Spirit, and True North Sports and Entertainment, the fans in Winnipeg could not be any happier at what the future holds. There are still legalities to be settled, including the approval from the NHL’s Board of Governors, along with a name being chosen for the franchise prior to the draft on June 24. Good things come to those who way, and boy has the city of Winnipeg waited long enough.
Darren Dreger reports early this morning that while final sale and relocation details are being sorted out between True North and the Atlanta Spirit Group, there is hope the announcement of a Thrashers relocation to Winnipeg could come today. Atlanta lawyers still need to sign off on the agreement (as well as the league with an official approval), but we could very well see Canada get a seventh team back on this final day of May, 2011.
Photo Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
As we get ready for the Stanley Cup Finals, future draft eligible players had their day in the spotlight. The Memorial Cup. A competition that’s probably more enjoyable to watch than the World Hockey Championship came to a satisfying conclusion for one Jonathan Huberdeau and the St. John Sea Dogs.
Projected a top 4 pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Huberdeau was named MVP of the tournament and the Sea Dogs became the first team from the Atlantic Division of the QMJHL to win the Memorial Cup with a 3-1 win over the St. Michael’s Majors. Besides Huberdeau, their roster featured names like Tomas Jurco, who is expected to go in the latter stages of the first round of the 2011 draft and already drafted jewels like Simon Despres, Jacob DeSerres and Stanislav Galiev.
It was quite a story for DeSerres who was shellshocked last year in the Memorial Cup while tending goal for Brandon. Taylor Hall and the Windsor Spitfires cruised to an easy 9-1 win. They say that those who wait, work hard usually get their way in the end. Well, DeSerres starred this time around. He collected 34 saves including a couple of highlight reel ones and completely stole the show. It seems that day in and day out, hockey offers us a feel good story.
One player that is worth singling out for his performance in the Memorial Cup is Devante Smith-Pelly. A six foot 211 pound RW is a sight for sore eyes. Just 18 years old, heâ€™s not afraid to use his size and strength with authority and is often the most intimidating player on the ice. Anaheim Ducks picked Smith-Pelly 42nd overall in the 2010 Entry Draft and quite possibly hit the jackpot. The kid possesses incredible lower-body strength, very good hockey instincts and a quick, deadly shot.
Links after the jump.
While the Stanley Cup Playoffs are still running for another two weeks, the major junior season wraps up tonight with a highly anticipated matchup between the Saint John Sea Dogs and Missisisauga St. Michaels Majors. The QMJHL champion Sea Dogs entered the tournament as the favorites, with four players ranked in the top 20 for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, including the tremendously talented Jonathan Huberdeau. However, the Majors will put up a good test and attempt to outmatch their opponent up with depth and physicality.
The atmosphere at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga will be off the charts as junior hockey fans everywhere gather for the top event of the year. Regardless of which team wins, the Memorial Cup has been thoroughly exciting, with several promising prospects eager to leave a lasting reputation with scouts. Not only is the NHL at an all time high for popularity, but the quality of the play in the CHL may have never been better.
Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images
When you’re plying your trade in a hockey market like Florida, it is quite hard to convince people that youâ€™re a game breaking player. Itâ€™s a team that wins some, loses more and generally misses the postseason.
A clutch player? Forget it. After all, being clutch can only be proven in games that matter, and no offense to Panthers fans but they didnâ€™t exactly play many of those since 2005-06.
With the Vancouver Canucks having been on the sidelines for several days now, all of the attention has shifted towards the Eastern Conference finals, with Game 7 set for tonight in Boston. The entire series has been as unpredictable as it has been exciting. The Lightning have had four five goal outings in the series (Games 1, 2, 4 and 6) disrupted by 1-0 and 3-1 losses in Games 3 and 5. We’ll see if Tampa Bay can produce offensive success in the seventh and deciding game and if Dwayne Roloson provides the backing necessary to make it hold up.
In another wild playoff game, the Eastern Conference final was pushed to seven games last night. Despite a David Krejci hat-trick, the Bruins just couldn’t outscore the Lightning in what turned out to be a goal scorer’s field day from the outset.
If goaltending is essential in winning the Stanley Cup, the only evidence of that seems to be coming from the West. Either of these teams will need a much better effort over the course of their meeting with Canucks starting next Wednesday, or else they’ll be steamrolled.
Game seven goes tomorrow night in Boston, and you have to think both tenders will bring their game and keep the score reasonable (by playoff standards).
On to the links!
It’s not every day that a team can acquire a true number one centre with the ability to carry a franchise. Nevermind a guy who is only 26 years old and has recorded 115 goals in his last three seasons. When online reports trickled in from Comcast in Philadelphia and mentioned on Twitter that Jeff Carter may be on the open market, Leaf fans went abuzz about a potential swap. Regardless of whether the sources reporting the deal are legitimate, there is some reason to believe the Flyers are willing to move Carter.
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