When I last picked a playoff MVP the third round was still underway. I picked Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks. He was having a tremendous playoff. In the final game of the San Jose series he left the ice with a leg injury and has been playing on one good leg ever since. This has made him a bit of a non-factor in the Stanley cup finals. He has one assist in the four games of the final series so far. Thus it is time to pick a new Conn Smythe leader. There is a clear leader in Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins.
Thomas has been one of the big stories in the final series. He has faced 146 shots in the finals stopping 141 of them. This gives him a .966 saves percentage in the finals. He has an incredible, but more modest, .936 saves percentage in the playoffs overall with a 2.11 GAA. He leads the playoffs or is tied for the lead in saves percentage, GAA, wins and shutouts.
It’s a best of three. Vancouver won their games at home and Boston won theirs. Tim Thomas is making a case for the Conn Smythe Trophy. He is outplaying Roberto Luongo so far. Once again the game got away from referees at the end. I don’t buy into the idea of momentum. This is a series where teams have won their games at home. Vancouver is missing Dan Hamhuis. They haven’t found anyone capable of filling his role. Ryan Kesler is clearly playing hurt and his injury keeps the Canucks from having two strong offensive lines. Boston is not without their injuries. Nathan Horton is out. On a much larger time scale Marc Savard has been out for a long time and his career is in jeopardy due to concussions. It is quite likely that the Stanley Cup winner will be the healthiest team going forward.
In the finals Binghamton Senators defeat Houston Aeros four games to two. Binghamton is the Ottawa Senators AHL team and Houston belongs to the Minnesota Wild. Each game in this series was quite close and relatively low scoring. After a slow start, where Houston held a two games to one lead, Binghamton came back to win the title.
Just found this on CNN:
Not sure which game they watched.
That game was ugly. It got away from the Canucks and the referees. 8-1 is an embarrassing score for anyone. Boston took control of the game. They clearly were not seven goals better than their opponents, but they were the better team.
It seems quite likely Vancouver could win the series despite being badly outscored in it. Roberto Luongo looks like he could add a Stanley Cup to his resume (along with Olympic gold, 2 World Championship golds and twice going to the Memorial Cup) and still not answer his critics about his ability to win the big game. He had a meltdown today. This happens once in a while to big name goalies. Patrick Roy and Dominik Hasek have not been immune and they are probably the best goalies ever. Luongo removed himself from any Conn Smythe consideration today.
Game two is in the books now. Canucks win with a goal eleven seconds into overtime. Both games so far were close. Both games were effectively decided on their last shot. I think it is unlikely (put certainly possible) that the Canucks keep this luck. I bet Boston wins at least one of the two games they have at home. They will need to in order to make this any kind of competitive series.
What can be said about Alexandre Burrows? He scored two of three Canuck goals and assisted on the other. Some argue that he shouldn’t have played at all. The argument is that he should have been suspended for biting Patrice Bergeron’s fingers. When I see the tape it looks inconclusive to me. I say this as somebody who has stuck his fingers in his opponent’s mouth while “washing his face” in a post whistle scrum. Naturally, I screamed bloody murder. I screamed that he bit me just as Bergeron screamed. I think there is a pretty reasonable chance that Patrice Bergeron did exactly that.
After NHL teams draft players they have almost two years to sign them. Those who are not signed will be eligible to re-enter the NHL draft. The deadline for these player signings is this week. This sets up a minor flurry of activity in late May and early June as teams make last minute moves with their drat class from two years ago. Players are to be signed or discarded. Given the formulaic nature of entry level contracts it is rare that a player refuses to sign - since he would likely get the same offer after losing a year of his career with the new team that would draft him.
Nevertheless one player who was not able to be signed was Tim Erixon. He was the Calgary Flames 2009 first round draft pick selected 23rd overall. Erixon is the son of former NHL player Janne Erixon. He had been playing in the Swedish Elite League for the last two seasons and quite successfully. His 24 points on defence in 48 games last season is quite impressive. He did this as a 19 year old boy playing against men in the league.
The first two Hall of Fame inductees for 2011 have been announced. Mickey Redmond is the broadcaster inducted and he receives the Foster Hewitt Award. Terry Jones is the print reporter inducted and he receives the Elmer Ferguson Award. The media inductees are Hall of Fame members, but they are usually not regarded in the same way as the players, builders and officials.
Terry Jones was writing for local central Alberta papers, the Red Deer Advocate and the Lacombe Globe while he was still in high school. In 1967 when he graduated high school he joined the Edmonton Journal. In 1982, he joined the Edmonton Sun (the Journal’s rival paper). He has covered the Edmonton Oilers for their entire existence and is well known to all Oiler fans.
One game of the Stanley Cup finals is in the books. Vancouver won 1-0. It was a goaltending battle, unlike what Ken Campbell predicted. 70 shots were taken in the game and 69 were stopped. 19 seconds were left when Raffi Torres scored the game’s only goal. There were scoring chances - more from the Canucks than the Bruins - so I would give goaltending more credit for the low scoring game than defence. A significant portion of the first two periods were spent on the power play, but there were no power play goals. In the third period no more penalties were called. Is this an example of the referees keeping their whistles in the pockets when the game was on the line after trying to control the game by calling penalties in the first couple periods? One would think that penalties being called should favor the Canucks because the Bruins power play has been abysmal so far in the playoffs. Sooner or later, one would think the Canucks’ power play will catch fire.
In 1996, the Winnipeg Jets left town for what they thought were greener pastures in Phoenix. The Phoenix Coyotes are stuck in bankruptcy and NHL control for their third season. It seems improbable that there will be a successful team in Phoenix. Their eventual sale to another market seems almost inevitable.
In the meantime, Winnipeg missed NHL hockey. They missed the Jets. Popular sports bars throughout Winnipeg still retained their Winnipeg Jets memorabilia. Stores still sell Winnipeg Jets memorabilia. This is true in larger cities in Manitoba (such as Brandon) which lie a few hours from Winnipeg itself. The Winnipeg Jets maintained a strong following even though they didn’t exist anymore. The Manitoba Moose were an AHL team that moved into Winnipeg in the Jets absence and they were one of the more popular franchises in the AHL.
Finally, after 15 years we have the official announcement that NHL hockey is returning to Winnipeg. The Atlanta Thrashers are moving there.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
Why are you reading it? ???