Thursday, May 31, 2007

Home Pond Advantage

The Ducks take another one and make good use of the two games at the Honda Center, going up 2-0 in the series. Anaheim really put the gears to Ottawa again last night, not making it easy at all for the Canadian club. The Ducks outshot the Sens 31-16 and managed to keep the puck out their own net with a 1-0 victory. J-S Giguere earned the shutout and our game-winning goal scorer is our spotlight player... between them, it was a six point night. The only six points to touch down in the pool.

TimeTeamGoal Scorer Assist
14:16 (3rd) ANA Samuel Pahlsson (3) Unassisted

Team Win Saves

ANA J-S Giguere 16

Giguere's shutout was felt by a few teams last night... most notably, Don, who snuck his way into second place. Giguere will definitely be Don's MVP, if he comes away with a few extra dollars in this pool. Another 1-0 win like that and Don could be in first place.

Spotlight Player
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Samuel Pahlsson gets the spotlight this morning, as he's the one who popped in the winner and it was only his name on the scoring play. His third goal of the playoffs was his second winner as well. Pahlsson's checking line also did the business on the Senators' top line, which is mighty impressive, seeing how well they were playing coming into this series. Looking back at the playoffs this year, Pahlsson has done the business against every team's top line and now has been putting the puck in the net at key times... he'll certainly get some votes for the Conn Smythe come the end of the run.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Countdown to Draft Day (Part 1)

In what will be the first primetime telecast of the draft, on Friday, June 22, the NHL will hold the first round of the Entry Draft in the evening. The NHL has always held the draft over the Saturday and Sunday of a weekend, but wanted to bring the draft to the public like the NFL and NBA with a first-round show. Who's really going to watch it?!? Well, only the people who would generally watch it and/or the people who make time to watch it. It's only the first round, so it won't be long enough to really have a party for... so I don't think I'll be doing that.

This isn't really a deep draft class either, so there isn't the big draw of a name that would bring the people to the television to watch. No Crosby, no Ovechkin, no Johnson... so, there really isn't that drive to do well. I think the intrigue will be the movement of players that teams may look to get rid of before they lose them to unrestricted free agency. We may see some mid-round trades that could knock some socks off... teams will have a good idea of how they want to improve this off season and may look to do a bit more wheeling and dealing at the draft.

In case you are highly involved in the draft, somewhat like I am, you'll want to know which team is going to be draft in which position. Well, here's a recap of the first round...

Chicago won the draft lottery held at the end of the year and will get first shot at the player they've been eyeing in their scout's notebooks. There is some talent to go in the first round and I would imagine that they would go after some more scoring to go with the scoring that's coming up the ranks. Building through the draft seems to be the Blackhawks' ticket to success. I would imagine that a kid like Patrick Kane will go first overall, just because of being a year older and probably a little bit more ready to make the jump right away.

The Flyers get the second pick overall. They are in need of some serious help to get the team jump started for this coming season. It wouldn't surprise me to see teams offer up something big to the Flyers to move up to get a kid like Kyle Turris or Karl Alzner. The Flyers are a team that needs help now and they've recently been an organization that doesn't build through the draft, rather talent that's firing now. I would imagine a big blueliner is more in their future with the likes of Mike Rathje possibly retiring and Derian Hatcher not being as dominating.

Phoenix holds the third pick overall and they'll be picking. Gretzky and company are in the midst of building a good young team and an electric offensive player would go a long ways to bringing more people to the seats at the Arena. There should be enough to choose from for Phoenix... Angelo Esposito, Sam Gagner and Jakub Voracek could all be great additions, but I could see either Esposito or Gagner go, just for the mere fact that these young Canadians had a little bit of prestige, much like the head coach.

With the push for Jack Johnson in the Kings line-up, you can see that GM Dean Lombardi is going to push the youth system and for good reason. They have a number of good talented young players who will be pushed to keep the Kings within their budget and somewhat competitive. With the fourth pick, they can't go too badly. Alexei Cherapanov hasn't been mentioned yet, the top rated European player, could go anywhere between first and fourth. Cherapanov has drawn comparisons to Pavel Bure and Ilya Kovalchuk, so he could be a great fit to the Kings if he was still available.

The Washington Capitals hold the fifth pick in the draft and it seems to me that they may need a big defenseman or more goaltending assurance, as Kolzig isn't getting any younger and there are still question marks around their young goaltending prospects. It may just be that they could find something a bit better from what other teams are offering as well. I could see the likelihood of a trade growing as the push for the playoffs will be great, as Alexander Ovechkin will need a playoff year sooner rather than later in Washington. It could also be that they move up to the second pick from Philly to make sure they get a guy like Cherapanov to flank Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

This is the first of three first rounders for the Edmonton Oilers. In a shallow talent pool, this may not be the best year for it. Nonetheless, they do hold some cards when it comes to dealing for some talent. Goaltending should be front and center when it comes to the Oilers decision. It's hard to say where to go in the goaltending department... in the North American lists, there are two Memorial Cup goaltenders, including the winner Tyler Sexsmith (from the Vancouver Giants). Depending on how the chips fall in the first five picks, the Oilers are not in bad shape to even pick up a decent goaltender with one of their later picks.

With a sign reading "Soon to be Under New Management" hanging on the front door of the Nationwide Arena, it's really hard to tell what the Blue Jackets are going to be doing with the seventh pick. So far, the franchise hasn't done a bad job at drafting... players like Rick Nash, Rostislav Klesla and Nikolai Zherdev are all good building blocks, but there is still something missing from the Columbus outfit that will bring them playoff success. June 22 will be a big day in regards to the direction they want to take. I would imagine there's enough for the Jackets to look at in regards to drafting and they'll make their big splash on the free agent market. It would have to be a radical hockey thinker to do something major in Ohio.

Inconsistent goaltending should be the number one topic on the off-season agenda in Beantown. Between Tim Thomas, Joey MacDonald and Hannu Toivonen, the Bruins couldn't make it over the hump with all the talent they have on the blueline and up front. Finnish prospect, Tukka Rask, should come aboard for the coming season, but I think there will be some concentration at the draft to find the next best keeper in the draft. It would be interesting to see if the Bruins make a push for Vesa Toskala with the number eight pick in hand.

The Blues also hold three picks in the first round of this year's draft. They hold their own (9th), Atlanta's (24th) and New Jersey's (26th). They certainly are not short of young talent coming through the system in St. Louis... there's a number of good prospects that are on the cusp of making it into the big time, but that doesn't mean the stockpile won't get any bigger. I would imagine that unless a team really wants a player around the time the Blues make their pick, they would consider a deal to make that move... but it's hard to say. It probably won't be the ninth pick they'd move, as there probably still could be a home run type pick by then.

Didn't really seem like anything went terribly right for the Panthers in 2006/07... the Bertuzzi/Luongo trade didn't quite work out for them and there wasn't a lot of help for Olli Jokinen. In the tenth slot though, pickens will be quite slimmer than it is up top and they'll probably have to take what they get when it comes to their pick. They do have quite a bit of talent up and coming, but unless there's a miracle, they're still probably another year or so before they make another run for the playoffs. But if you ask me, they could probably do a bit more without Ed Belfour.

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Game One is in the Books

Well, the Ducks did the job last night and did it in a third period fashion. With the Senators up 2-1 going into three and playing fairly well, it was certainly a let down to give the puck up and/or not finish your checks to allow the Ducks back into the game and take it over with a little home-ice momentum.

TimeTeamGoal Scorer Assist
1:38 (1st) OTT Mike Fisher (4) Andrej Meszaros (5) Mike Comrie (4)
10:55 (1st) ANA Andy McDonald (6) Teemu Selanne (8)
4:36 (2nd) OTT Wade Redden (3) Daniel Alfredsson (8) Jason Spezza (14)
5:44 (3rd) ANA Ryan Getzlaf (6) Corey Perry (6) Ric Jackman (1)
17:09 (3rd) ANA Travis Moen (5) Rob Niedermayer (4) Scott Niedermayer (7)

Team Win Saves

ANA J-S Giguere 18

Game Winning Goal Scorer
As you can tell by the golden letters, it was Travis Moen who popped in the winning goal for the Ducks last night. His fifth goal of the playoffs late in the third period was the cherry on top of the sundae, which we'll call the return of Stanley Cup Finals hockey to Anaheim... if one was a fan of that sort of thing. The checking line has been absolutely clutch for the Ducks in these playoffs, having four game winning goals between the three of them: Moen, Rob Niedermayer and Samuel Pahlsson. For Moen, it was his second one of these playoffs.

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Well, amongst the leaders, J-S Giguere was the only big factor with two points in that first game of the series. Taken 8 times, he provided some big points after his 18 save performance. Giguere wasn't called on too much throughout the game, but the stop on Alfredsson with mere seconds to go in the third to seal the win gave a big sigh of relief to all those Duck fans in the pool. You can only imagine that he'll have to be even better through the rest of the series, as you can be sure that the Senators won't be too pleased with their offensive effort last night.

Well, there were three teams that finished off with six points out of Game One: Dale C., Dennis and Wes M.. All three made great gains last night having made use of Giguere's two points or if you were like Dennis, having all six players remaining register a point for you. All were most impressive in Game One and they certainly hope (maybe Dale moreso, since he's closer to the money) that the trend can continue through the series.

At the top, there wasn't much ground gained or lost, if any. One point here and there, but nothing Earth-shattering.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Moving the Predators?

Okay, this is a bit of an editorial... since there have been a few days off before the Finals got started, it's been pretty tough to find something to write about. But this whole news story that Jim Balsillie is in the position to buy the Nashville Predators sparks a little bit of thought. I'm seeing all over the web now (and TV, for that matter) about how the Predators could be moving to Southern Ontario.

Has anyone else seen the stories about how Ottawa is not being supported well in Canada? If Toronto is going to be "Canada's team" and going to reside in... Southern Ontario... then do we really need another team who is not going to be supported when they make it to the Cup Final? I mean, it is the Predators... a team who isn't far away from doing great things in the NHL. It could have very well gone in their favour this year... but it wasn't to be.

A couple more pieces to the puzzle and the Predators could be a certifiable chance at doing well in the league, just like Balsillies' other venture to buy into the league. If Kitchener or another Southern Ontario city gets an NHL team, thus denying Winnipeg, then Canadians will have another team to yawn at when they are successful.

Go Ottawa Go... and bring back the Jets!

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Friday, May 25, 2007

The Best Team Possible

You haven't been asking for it... hell, you haven't asked for anything. I'll just keep feeding all this useless information down your retinas, whether you like it or not. Mwah ha ha ha.

Today though, I will give you what the perfect team would look like, heading into these Cup Finals. Then you can compare your team and see how many of the best players you would have. Now, this is the best team you could pick within the rules of the pool... only 2 players per box (except the one goalie) and only 3 players per team. So here we go...

Box 1
Teemu Selanne - 14 points
Pavel Datsyk - 18
Box 2
Ryan Getzlaf - 16
J.P. Dumont - 7
Box 3
Ryan Clowe - 7
Trevor Linden - 9
Box 4
Chris Pronger - 14
Nicklas Lidstrom - 20
Box 5
Matt Carle - 6
Craig Rivet - 5
Box 6
Dominik Hasek - 24
Box 7
Dany Heatley - 23
Daniel Alfredsson - 21
Box 8
Thomas Vanek - 12
Michael Nylander - 15
Box 9
Derek Roy - 7
Jochen Hecht - 6
Box 10
Brian Rafalski - 8
Michal Roszival - 8
Box 11
Niclas Havelid - 2
Paul Mara - 4
Box 12
Ray Emery - 32

Certainly, there are many more players that had more points than Niclas Havelid did, but again, due to the constraints of the pool outline, Havelid qualifies, because Box 11 turned out to be pretty crappy when it came to 3rd and 4th defensemen.

The total amount of points from the best team possible is 278... our leader, Derek, is sitting at a mere 210 points. Quite a ways from perfect, but he's better than everyone else!

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Finals Preview

We're finally counting down the days until the last round of these Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ottawa versus Anaheim to battle for the Cup. Derek W. and Benson take on all comers in the pool. This is what we've paid our $10 for... well, some of us anyways.

This playoff outcome was predicted by some... not by many. Most people knew that these two teams were going to go far, but weren't too sure how far.

There are 9 teams within 10 points of first place and 9th is only 6 points out of 2nd, so with a little bit of comparison, we should be able to see who is going to do what (roughly) in the Finals.

Derek W.BensonAaron
Anaheim Corey Perry Rob Niedermayer Teemu Selanne

Ryan Getzlaf Scott Niedermayer Ryan Getzlaf

Chris Pronger Francois Beauchemin Scott Niedermayer
Ottawa Dany Heatley Mike Fisher Joe Corvo

Jason Spezza Joe Corvo

Ray Emery

DanRob A. Mike E.
Anaheim Ryan Getzlaf Teemu Selanne Teemu Selanne

Scott Niedermayer Ryan Getzlaf Scott Niedermayer

Chris Pronger Scott Niedermayer Chris Pronger
Ottawa Mike Fisher
Dany Heatley

Andrej Meszaros
Wade Redden

Joe Corvo

TimDon Brian
Anaheim Ryan Getzlaf Teemu Selanne Ryan Getzlaf

Rob Niedermayer Scott Niedermayer Rob Niedermayer

Francois Beauchemin J-S Giguere
Ottawa Wade Redden Dany Heatley Andrej Meszaros

Andrej Meszaros Peter Schaefer

Joe Corvo Tom Preissing

Well, there you have it... the Top 9. Now it looks to me that whichever way this series goes, it'll be a miracle to not see Derek on top of the pile. A high scoring series will benefit him even more... and if Ray Emery wins, so does Derek. Amazingly, out of the 9 teams, only two goalie selections remain... Emery for Derek and Giguere for Don.

Does Don get second place if Giguere wins four games? Well, it is 8 points that no one else is getting and in order for Anaheim to win those games, both Selanne and Scott Niedermayer will have to be at their best, so it could be a pretty safe bet.

Now, if Ottawa goes to town on Anaheim, who gets second place? I like Mike E. to do it for one reason... Dany Heatley. Ottawa's top line will have to get through the best shutdown line of these playoffs, but if there is one powerplay that will rip Giguere to shreds, it will be the Senators. Their cross crease pass is second to none in the league and that is the play that can score a lot of goals against the less-athletic Giguere.

Obviously, you're going to need players to get points for you... and it seems that Brian (3 remaining), Rob (3), Aaron (4) Dan (5) and Benson (5) probably don't have enough in the tank to keep up with the rest, who have all six possible remaining. It won't surprise me to see all four teams with six players occupying the top spots in the pool before it's all said and done.

It's really great to see so many teams being so close near the end. If you notice, this time last year, there was a bit of a runaway at the top and it just progressed to be worse and worse as the Finals went along. It's been quite the successful race this year... and there should be a bit more jockeying for that second place money through the Finals. Good luck!

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Full Points Update

Well, the NHL did it again... giving points away and taking them away. Apparently, no one can score the Detroit Red Wings properly. So before everything is said and done, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom got credit for another assist each and Kris Draper had one taken away. Also, it appeared that I missed a Dominik Hasek win as well... so... yeah. That's all updated now. Everything isn't quite the same... but the Finals preview will look a little more accurate when it gets published. Accuracy is number one!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Quacking in the Pool

Well, the Ducks have made it. As some hockey pundits had predicted, the Anaheim Ducks are going to the Stanley Cup Finals. Most of the pool participants also thought Anaheim was going far in the pool, as they were the most popular Western Conference team, by way of player selections. There were 147 Duck selections in the pool this Spring and they didn't disappoint. It's amazing how many teams have three Ducks left going into the Finals. Last season, there were very few who had many players in the West... 'cuz who knew the Oilers would fluke out so badly? The Oilers, who eliminated the Ducks in last year's Conference Finals had very little support, as compared to their opponents, the Carolina Hurricanes, but this year, both the Senators and the Ducks have quite a few players selected and therefore, there are quite a few teams going into the Finals with 4, 5 or 6 players.

The Ducks have sure made an impact on the pool, not only of the elimination of the Red Wings, but quietly gone about their business, with everyone chipping in here and there. Only J-S Giguere and Ryan Getzlaf are in the Top 10 of pool scoring going into the Finals... hell, there are more Red Wings (3) in the Top 10 than there are Ducks. Three Ducks have made it to the perfect team (going into the playoffs, which may change after the Finals)... Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Pronger. If you had that combination of Ducks, you'd be open for the best team possible in the pool. The best team in the pool does have two of the three... Derek has Getzlaf and Pronger, but has Corey Perry instead of Selanne.

With the Ducks' dominant performance through the playoffs, it has given Derek a good 4-point lead going into the Finals. Thanks to those three Ducks, who had a combined 17 points in that round, he has a good chance of keeping that lead through to the end.

Dan, who is now tied for second, also had two of the three best possible Ducks in Getzlaf in Pronger. It could be a bit of a common denominator in these playoffs. He also had defenseman, Scott Niedermayer, who didn't do too badly as well in that Conference Final, with 5 points. That'll help keep his head above water for the time being.

Also tied for second, Benson had three totally different Ducks than the first two, but was also banking on Detroit to make it past the Ducks. He'll go into the Cup Finals with both Niedermayers and Francois Beauchemin. He did manage to squeeze out 13 points from those Ducks, which isn't too shabby, considering he got 15 points out of his Red Wings before they tanked.

The third team tied for second going into the Finals is Mike E.. He went through the Conference Finals with Selanne, Scott Niedermayer and Pronger, which tallied him 15 points. Not a bad turnout to say the least.

There are also four other teams only one point behind those guys tied for 2nd, so it's been a pretty well predicted race going into the Finals and the Ducks have certainly been a big part of that. Stay tuned for the Finals preview coming soon!

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ducks Burnt the Wings

Wild Wing says, "Quack quack quack quack quack, Benny... quack quack quack next year." I couldn't exactly decipher what he was going on about, but I think it was something about the Ducks winning... or something like that. "Quack quack." Oh, that is what he's trying to say. I think he's actually kind of gloating a bit. Well, as it stands the Red Wings are out and Wild Wing will quack his way all the way to the Finals.

Well, to say the least, Game 6 was quite the Wild One in the third period, but the game finished with the score line of Anaheim 4 and Detroit 3. The Red Wings were gonna make it close and they most certainly did. But the Ducks hung on to move on... the Pool Impact and the Finals Preview will be released before Monday's Game 1.

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Two points here... two points there... another two points coming from over there. Which one do you choose for the Spotlight? Well, I went with Ryan Getzlaf again... his line with Corey Perry and Dustin Penner helped the Ducks to a great start in the first two periods. Getzlaf had a goal and an assist in the clinching game, which was enough to earn him the spotlight. Getzlaf will have to be this kind of player again when the Finals hit... somehow, I think he'll be a big impact player in the Finals.

Game Winning Goal Scorer
Samuel Pahlsson scored what everyone thought would be the nail in the coffin in the Red Wings confidence to send the Ducks to a 4-1 lead. Low and behold the Wings tried to storm back and made it close and made Pahlsson's goal the game-winner. Pahlsson, the Selke Trophy candidate, has done more than his fair share of the hard work to get the Ducks where they are by his defensive play. Tonight, he scored his first winning goal of these playoffs and only his second goal of these playoffs.

Game 1 of the Finals will be on CBC... all games will start at 6pm MT with the series opening in Anaheim on Monday. Stay tuned for a better preview!

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