What a first round! As a hockey fan, you have to be pleased about what is currently happening around the best sport in the planet. 4 Game sevens, a ton of OT action and the best quality of the play one could possibly imagine. As a Leafs fan you have to be glad about the Habs being knocked out.
Iâ€™m not below giving the Canadiens their due credit. Following Halakâ€™s departure and intense scrutiny Carey Price proved he was up for the task. The series win eluded him but with a .934 save percentage and a 2.11 GAA he truly was the Canadiensâ€™ best player. His technique seemed perfect at times and I have to say that despite Halakâ€™s amazing performance last year, I now believe that Montreal made the right choice with Price. Michael Cammalleri didnâ€™t have the best regular season in the world, but with 10 points in seven games he has more than earned his paycheck. He has also proven to be one of the best playoff performers in the modern day NHL with 32 points in 32 games played so far which of course means heâ€™s clicking at a point-per-game in the postseason. Only Jonathan Toews and Daniel Briere have impressed me more during that clutch period. One last thing, we can dislike PK Subban for being cocky, but the truth of the matter is if he was on our team weâ€™d love him. Arrogant? Yes. Mouthy? And then some. But is he effective? Very. [more…]
Nothing beats a partial Habs GDT on a Toronto Maple Leafs fansite, right? To get more in line with the general sentiments of everyone here and making sure the glass is half full, or at least not half empty (one quarter empty) letâ€™s just call this a Â¼ Boston GDT. Sure, we might dislike Seguin and an certain draft pick, but for a Leafs fan desperate for playoff hockey, thereâ€™s always Kaberle to cheer for. The Hot Stove will also be looking at Vancouverâ€™s possible exit from the playoffs in what I like to call â€œChaos in Paradiseâ€.
It was an interesting turn of events in Chicago - to say the least - prior to Game 6 of Vancouver's match up with the Blackhawks. With all eyes directed towards the goaltending situation, the answer to the question as to whether or not Roberto Luongo would start was revealed when backup goalie Cory Schneider was the first Canuck to take to the ice. After taking the majority of shots in the warmup while Luongo casually leaned against the boards, it became clear that Alain Vigneault and staff were taking a big risk in not standing by their million dollar man.
The experiment didn't last long. Luongo came in after Schneider appeared to have injured his right leg from overextension on an attempt to stop Blackhawk forward Michael Frolik's tying penalty shot goal in the third period of last night's game. A backhand shot in tight over the right pad of curiously positioned Luongo by Chicago rookie Ben Smith then lifted the Hawks to a thrilling 4-3 OT win. The Hawks became only the third team to force a game 7 after being down 3-to-0 in a series.
The most frustrating part of last night's loss for the Canucks is that they played remarkably better than the previous two games in which they were outscored by a 12-2 mark. If the Blackhawks manage to pull this off, the status of the future of President's Trophy winners, most notably in net and that of Roberto Luongo, will be in serious doubt. It's tough to call into question the core of a team that's such a regular season juggernaut, but if the Canucks can't get it done when it matters with this group this year (with a 3-0 lead in this series to boot), when can they? [more…]
Nathan Horton's goal at 9:03 of the second overtime period capped off what was arguably the most exciting contest of the playoffs through the opening week-and-a-half. Both teams traded quality scoring chances throughout the game, but the goaltending battle between Tim Thomas and Carey Price highlighted an intense, as-tight-as-it-gets battle. In particular, the Canadiens' darkhorse up front is David Deharnais, a 5-foot-8 speedster who created several excellent scores chances for his team and showed strong outside speed. After winning the first two games of the series, Montreal now heads back home down 3-2 with all the momentum shifted Boston's way. Only time will tell if the Canadiens can thrive with the pressure on and force a game seven back in Beantown.
In afternoon action, the Capitals, as expected, pulled out a 3-1 win over the Rangers and became the second team (following the Red Wings) to secure a birth in the second round. Washington was firing on all cylinders, with a balanced attack and stable presence in net fromÂ ripe 20-year-old Michal Neuvirth. While it's important to note that this was the Caps' first post-lockout playoff series win in less than seven games, one series is three less than the goal for a Capitals team who won't settle for anything short of the Cup and must do some serious damage to buck their post-season underachievers label. Post-lockout, the Capitals have not beat a team other than the Rangers in the playoffs.
Links after the jump.
It was another exciting night on the ice yesterday, with both games being decided in extra minutes. The Sabres lit up the Flyers' Brian Boucher in the first period with three unanswered goals scored by Tyler Ennis, Thomas Vanek and Marc Andre Gragnani, forcing the Flyers to switch to their third goalie of the series in Michael Leighton. The Flyers mounted an impressive comeback to even the score at three late in the third, but the speedy Ennis wrapped up the game for Buffalo with his second of the contest and third point of the playoffs. It's safe to say that most people wouldn't have projected Buffalo to have a 3-2 series lead, with an opportunity to close out the series at home for game six. It's not over but the Flyers continue to receive the painful reminder that playoff success hinges on strong, timely goaltending.
Despite the loss, the Ducks grabbed all the attention from last night's game after Bobby Ryan scored an outstanding goal by undressingÂ a stickless David Legwand (x2) and beating Pekka Rinne up high on the back hand. Ryan's goal is, without question, a strong goal of the year candidate. He could not be able to pull that off nine times out of 10. Jerred Smithson scored the overtime winner for Nashville to lift them to a 3-2 series lead. It was the Predators first victory in a game five in franchise history and the first time that the team has won a playoff game in overtime.
Links after the jump.
You'll notice some changes around these parts; we've upgraded (we like to think) with a new and improved comments section full of fun new features and a slick new interface. You need to do a bit of work to reclaim your account, though. Step by step instructions available here. More explanation with pictures and video here (and some Q&A in the comments).
After scoring a combined 12 goals in the first three games of the series, the Bruins and Canadiens exploded with a nine-goal output in Boston's 5-4 win last night. A two-goal performance by Michael Ryder, including the overtime winner, along with a balanced Boston attack helped theÂ black and yellow crawl back from a second period deficit to defeat les Habitants and even the series with back-to-back wins in the Bell Centre.
On the west coast, the Canucks had a defensive meltdown, allowing three goals in the opening frame and four through the first half of the game. Roberto Luongo surrendered four goals on 12 shots before getting the yank, in favour of backup Cory Schnieder, who started the second period. Marian Hossa sniped a pair of goals on Luongo, including a breakway marker late in the first. Duncan Keith silenced the Canucks Army in attendance at the Rogers Arena withÂ a four-point performance from the backend.
Two series that looked all but in the bag are now game on as Canada's remaining teams are anything but safe.
Links after the jump.
Going down by three goals heading into the third period of a hockey goal is usually the surefire recipe for failure. Not on this night. Similar to the San Jose/Los Angeles bout on Tuesday, a big lead seemingly blew away in the wind as the Capitals fought back to tie the game 3-3 with the Rangers to force overtime.
The Capitals had to be more than a little anxious given their recently rocky playoff history but this comeback and the character it exemplified could be a crowning moment for the Capitals in their quest to get over the post-season hump.
The first week of the NHL playoffs has been filled with several exciting showcases, but there is nothing better than witnessing the heart and soul exuded by players every shift in a game that goes to multiple overtime periods. Last night we were lucky enough to witness two double OT affairs unfolding simultaneously on different networks; the first time two games have lasted that long on the same night since 2003.
Links after the jump
Just when they thought they had overcome their woes against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Vancouver Canucks received a 7-2 butt kicking and suddenly don't feel so comfortable with a 3-1 lead in the series. History indicates that teams rarely come back to win a series after being down by two games, but weirder things have happened (think Philly vs. Boston last spring).
David Bolland reinforced his former status as a playoff warrior, with a goal and three assists on the night, along with timely face-off wins and strong defensive play. If the Hawks are able to continue to expose Roberto Luongo's weaknesses and take some confidence from last night into game 5 on Thursday, they could make a series of this yet. Especially if they can get the Canucks rattled, off their game and continuing to want to punch Stalberg in his perfect complexion.
Links after the jump.
The NHL and NBC/Versus have announced a 10 year broadcast and media rights agreement, valued at approximately $2 billion or roughly $200 million per year, a sharp increase from the $77.5 million arrangement currently in place.
On a short-term basis the deal, essentially a 150% per-year increase, is a good one for the NHL, which you may remember did even not have a US television deal in place coming out of the lockout.Â Only six years later, an arrangement of this value represents a major coup for both Gary Bettman and the NHL as a whole. However ...
Some saddening news to pass along this evening, as NHL.com reports that EJ McGuire, Vice President of the NHL's Central Scouting Service, has passed away [more…]
The point system comes into scrutiny earlier and earlier each season. Regulation time stalemates are badges of honor, garnering 'at least a point' and driving fans crazy with the â€˜loser point.â€™
Aside from minor differences, the point system doesn't really matter. It's not about points and systems.
It's about motivation.
DIGR: Defense-Independent Goalie Rating
Goaltenders are generally analyzed and rated using save percentage as a key indicator of performance.Â One of the common issues that crops up when using save percentage as an analytic metric is comparing one goaltender against another. Varying degrees of the quality of defense from team-to-team, and the distribution of shots faced by each goaltender, create a large margin of error for goaltender-to-goaltender comparisons.
Michael E. Shuckers, of St. Lawrence University and Statistical Sports Consulting, has done some fascinating research into ways in which these issues can be resolved so that save percentage can be a more effective comparative statistic.Â What he devised, and subsequently presented at the conference, was the concept of DIGR (Defense-Independent Goalie Rating).