Czech Republic 2 Finland 1 (shootout) Petri Kontiola opened the game with a Finnish goal in the first minute. The Czechs finally tied it on a third period goal by Jakub Klepis. The game played to a tie as goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Tomas Vokoun were only beaten once each. Due to the need for a quick winner, some sort of skills competition was played with the Czechs winning.
The NHL has been without a full player transfer agreement with Russia since 2005. This is an agreement that governs players jumping from North American to Russian leagues and vice versa and sets fees for them doing so. This has led to several controvesies. the biggest of which was Alexander Radulov jumping from Saavat Yulaev from the Nashville Predators when he had a contract with Nashville.
Both sides have announced a “memorandum of understanding”. This is not a transfer agreement. it isn’t clear how much of an agreement it is at all. Here is the KHL announcement of the agreement. There is no big NHL announcement on the internet.
In the second round before the Montreal comeback against Pittsburgh, I picked Jaroslav Halak of the Montreal Canadiens as the playoff MVP at that point. Halak has not been as hot in the third round against Philadelphia, though he won last night. It is time to make a new choice - Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Toews leads the playoffs with 23 points (in fewer games played than any of the East Conference teams). On a team with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, Toews has established himself as Chicago’s premier offensive weapon. That is quite an achievement and not one that many people would have been predicted before the start of this season. Toews is in the early part of what looks like a Hall of Fame track career.
Along with the Stanley Cup and World Hockey Championships, another major hockey tournament is underway in the Canadian Major Junior Championships - the Memorial Cup. This tournament is played between the host city and the champions of the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. This year the host is the Brandon Wheat Kings and the league champions are the Calgary Hitmen, Windsor Spitfires and Moncton Wildcats respectively.
Teams have completed the preliminary round robin portion of the tournament.
The World Hockey Championships qualifying round has completed in Cologne and Mannheim, Germany. There was a played to make this round. The qualifying round had the twelve remaining teams divided into two six team groups, who played round robins. The top four teams in each group qualify for playoffs.
Here are the results:
Randy Sexton was never the Florida Panthers first choice to be general manager. He was appointed on an interim basis when Jacques Martin left to be the Montreal Canadiens coach. He remained interim general manager throughout the draft and the free agent signing period, when the 2009/10 Florida Panthers roster was set. At the start of the season, the word interim was dropped, but he never seemed to secure in his position. When new ownership came in it seemed quite possible that they would want to bring in their own guy as GM. Now they have.
Dale Tallon has been hired as the new Florida Panther GM. It is unclear if Randy Sexton will remain with the franchise or not at this point.
While the NHL playoffs are underway, the AHL is also in playoffs. The Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal affiliate) and Hershey Bears (Washington affiliate) are both leading semi-final series by 2-0 margins. Hamilton has had to face the loss of their best player in their playoff run, P.K. Subban finished third on the team with 53 points in the regular season - scored from defence. He had a league leading +46 +/- rating and narrowly lost the Eddie Shore award as best defenceman in the league to Danny Groulx of Worcester.
In the playoffs, Subban started well. He had 9 points in 6 games before injuries prompted Montreal to call him up to the NHL. Subban has played well in the NHL. He has been a solid part of the Habs blueline, playing over 20 minutes a game. He looks like he may never be back in the AHL.
At some point during the playoffs I always like to speculate on the Hall of Fame inductions for the season. They happen so quickly after the playoffs end that I never get to them in that window.
This year, there are two players who are first year Hall of Fame eligible that I think belong in the Hall. They are Eric Lindros and Joe Nieuwendyk. Neither are clear first ballot Hall of Famers, but both should eventually gain induction.
There have been a few years of very strong Hall classes in the recent past. This has left us with some players who should be in the Hall who have not been inducted yet. This will be a good year to induct some of Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk, Dino Ciccarelli, Adam Oates, Sergei Makarov, Phil Housley, Mark Howe and others.
The second round of the playoffs came to an end last night. I went 2-2 in my second round playoff predictions, which combined with my first round predictions give me a 7-5 record. It is interesting, that the predictions most challenged in the comments in the second round were San Jose and Chicago (the correct ones) and not Pittsburgh and Boston (the incorrect ones). At this point, I have been perfect in West Conference predictions and only had one correct prediction (Pittsburgh over Ottawa) in the East Conference. I guess that is to be expected when the 1 and 2 seed have survived in the West and the 7 and 8 seeds in the East. My strongest prediction at this point is that a West Conference team will win the Stanley Cup. In the regular season, San Jose finished 2nd, Chicago 3rd, Philadelphia 18th and Montreal 19th. It doesn’t take much to see that the talented teams are in the west right now and that the western final is likely the de facto Stanley Cup championship.
The World Hockey Championships are underway in Germany. That is a very overstated name for a tournament that often does not include the best players in the world because it is played at the same time as the Stanley Cup playoffs and only eliminated players can participate. Many NHL players on eliminated teams chose not to play for various personal reasons. It is hardly a world championship tournament - that was the Olympics. Nevertheless, it can be interesting hockey to see some of the better European players playing with and against some NHLers.
The tournament is being played in Mannheim and Cologne, Germany, with an opening day game (hometown Germany vs. USA - who have a strong level of support due to local US forces bases) played in front of 77,000 fans in a soccer stadium in Gelsenchirken.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
Why are you reading it? ???