After more than a month of review, analysis, and rankings, it’s time to predict what will actually happen in the upcoming NHL season. If you take all things into consideration, one thing becomes abundantly clear – parity. No team is very strong at each position (coach, goalie, defence, forward), and most teams are only a shade better or worse than another. It looks like all the same teams that made the playoffs last year have a good chance of making it again this year. As we’ve discussed though, it’s rare that there’s so little change in the standings from year-to-year. Injuries...Click here to read more.
Category: Out of Town Notebook
In January I wrote that Russian hockey, by forcing domestic players into the KHL, was ensuring the the league could one day approach, if not equal and surpass, the talent level found in the NHL. Today’s tragic plane crash underscores how that will probably never happen. In his book “King of Russia: A Year in the Russian Superleague,” Dave King talks at length in about the travels of KHL teams – the tough mining towns, the surrounding poverty and the perilous flights teams took between games. It’s a subject matter he’s commented on again in the wake of the accident. There’s lots of...Click here to read more.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you there aren’t trades to be made in a salary-capped NHL. Philadelphia got the NHL summer silly-season underway with a stunning move that sent Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to Los Angeles and Columbus, respectively. Then they signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year deal. Not quite sure how this makes the Flyers better for the 2011-12 season, but the Kings and Blue Jackets certainly are. Other deals over the weekend came fast and furious: The Buffalo Sabres signaled they’ve got cash by acquiring Robyn Regehr for a bag of pucks. The San Jose Sharks signaled...Click here to read more.
For Part 1 of my thoughts on the Final, click here. So here we are, at the end of the rainbow. Vancouver versus Boston. Canada versus America. Green Men versus Green Monster. West Coast versus East Coast. Orca versus Bear. Winner gets the Stanley Cup. So which of these teams has the edge? First, let’s look back at where I had each team rated at the beginning of the season: And now? Goaltending: Boston and Vancouver’s goaltending both played above expectations this season, with Tim Thomas putting together an A+ season in net. Despite some poor outings, in general both...Click here to read more.
There has been a lot of chatter the last few weeks about the Vancouver Canucks’ status as “Canada’s Team.” In particular, there seems to be a palpable desire on the part of some Canuck fans to see the hometown team embraced to the loving bosom of the rest of Canada. To no one’s surprise, this love hasn’t exactly been reciprocated. A friend with roots to a different Canadian province explained this resistance pretty well. To paraphrase: “The rest of Canada already looks at Vancouver with resentment. It’s Lotus Land – the land of wealth. It’s beautiful. You guys don’t have...Click here to read more.
It’s shouldn’t have come as a surprise. TSN – Canada’s “sports leader” – tends to have a smugness problem when it comes to covering hockey. Darren Dreger, Pierre Maguire, Gord Miller, Bob McKenzie – these are all good, informed hockey people, who just so happen to take their job a bit too seriously. These guys never want to be wrong. Which is probably why the network let its experts provide “consensus” selections for the winner of each first-round series during its playoff preview show. Talk about wimping out. Predicting who will win each round is part of the fun, part...Click here to read more.
Earlier, we looked at the playoff match-ups in the Eastern Conference. Now we look at the Western Conference. (1) Vancouver Canucks vs (8) Chicago Blackhawks Season Series: Tied (2-2) The Canucks enter the post-season as the prohibitive favourites to win the Stanley Cup. They finish the year with the league’s best powerplay, goals for, goals against, top-scorer (Daniel Sedin) and overall record. Oh, and they’re second overall in save percentage, third in penalty kill. Anything less than a Cup Finals appearance will make the season a failure, which is high-stakes for coach Alain Vigneault. The defense, injured for most of...Click here to read more.
Finally. The real NHL season. Let’s take a look at what will happen over the next few weeks in Round One. First, the Eastern Conference. (1) Washington Capitals vs (8) New York Rangers Season Series: Rangers (3-1) Good or bad, it feels like the final chapter is about to be written for this group of players and coaches in Washington. The Capitals have used the 2010-2011 season to institute a defensive style they believe will help them win playoff games. If they aren’t successful this spring you can expect changes to be made, with Bruce Boudreau’s job likely in jeopardy....Click here to read more.
[Every weekend, Canucks Hockey Blog goes out of town as Tom Wakefield (@tomwakefield88) posts his thoughts on what's happening around the NHL.] Photo credit: Edmonton Journal It was a bittersweet moment this week in Edmonton, where radio play-by-play man Rod Phillips called his final game after a 37-year career. Sweet in that, if there was ever a play-by-play man who deserves a banner in the rafters, it’s Phillips. The man never failed to deliver goose bumps. As the iconic voice of the dynasty Oilers, his most famous calls (Gretzky’s 50 in 39 pops immediately to mind) are already a part...Click here to read more.
[Every weekend, Canucks Hockey Blog goes out of town as Tom Wakefield (@tomwakefield88) posts his thoughts on what's happening around the NHL.] With two weeks left until the end of the NHL regular season, it’s pretty easy for fans to get caught up in the race for the final playoff spots. But those teams who scramble to the finish line rarely make it all the way to the Stanley Cup final. Vancouver, Detroit and San Jose in the West, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington in the East – these are your Stanley Cup favourites heading into the Spring. Each of these...Click here to read more.