At season’s end, I picked Jimmy Howard as the Calder Trophy winner, wich Tuukka Rask also a nominee. The NHL chose to overlook Rask in the actual nominations because despite his leading Boston in goaltender games played and despite his leading the NHL in both goals against average and in saves percentage, he hadn’t played in enough games. Despite the fact Howard had a better rookie season, largely due to more games played, I think it is a safe bet that Tuukka Rask will be the better goalie.
Rask is about three years younger and is thus further along in his development at a common age. Rask put up better numbers at 22/23 than Howard did at 25/26 (although with fewer games) and is continuing to be the better of the two in the playoffs.
The Montreal Canadiens have won so far in the playoffs because strong goaltending has limited their opponent’s goals. Jaroslav Halak has had some outstanding games. Because of the low goals against the Habs have allowed, their defence has gotten a lot of credit. I am not so sold that Montreal has a great team defence. They had a mid-level 13th best goals against average in the regular season. One defenceman on the team, Marc-Andre Bergeron has been a significant liability defensively.
Bergeron has a playoffs worst -10 +/- rating. He has been on the ice for 2 even strength goals scored and 12 against. He has been successful on the power play with seven Montreal power play goals for with him on the ice. Bergeron does not fit on the defence of a strong defensive team. He might be useful in a power play only role on a team if they can afford to have only five defencemen for even strength situations. Bergeron is the caricature that Mike Green detractors claim Green is.
Over the last couple weeks, the NHL has been announcing the nominees for the 2010 Awards. Here is who I would have voted for if i had an award ballot.
I will go through the NHL awards and comment on omissions and unworthy nominees and if the set of nominees makes any clear hints to who will win the awards.
The first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs are over. Here are my first round picks. I went 5-3, missing the losses of each of the top three seeds in the East Conference. The fact that the West Conference was significantly better when playing the East Conference in the regular season coupled with the defeats of the top East Conference seeds make a West Conference Stanley Cup winner look quite likely at this point.
Here are my second round predictions:
The first round of the AHL playoffs completed last night. Here are the results:
Worcester Sharks defeat Lowell Devils 4 games to one Worcester is San Jose’s AHL affiliate and Lowell is that of the New Jersey Devils. Dan DaSilva and TJ Trevelyan led the Sharks in scoring with Danny Groulx leading the defence and Alex Stalock in goal. Lowell was led offensively by Alexander Vasyunov and Nick Palmeiri, with Matt Taormina leading the defence and Mike McKenna in goal.
The Boston Bruins defeated the Buffalo Sabres four games to two in a series that ended last night. Buffalo was widely considered the favorite as they had a nine point regular season advantage. One advantage Boston had in the series was that Buffalo failed to score a single goal on the power play in the series. The Boston penalty kill was perfect. During the regular season, Buffalo had a mid-level power play. They were ranked 17th in the league. It was led by Tim Connolly, Derek Roy, Jason Pominville and Tomas Vanek. Connolly the Sabres regular season leading point scorer on the power play was limited to one assist in the playoffs.
One of the greatest coaches in NHL history is retiring today. He won the Stanley Cup in 1995 and the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year twice. Lemaire spent much of his career coaching an expansion Minnesota Wild team that never built up a good enough core to be a serious contender. Nevertheless, Lemaire retires with 588 career wins, which is good for seventh overall all time. That number could have been higher if he coached a team with a larger talent pool than Minnesota. We also see how the coach of the year is often chosen poorly. The coach of the most improved is often given the award even when the improvement has little to do with coaching. As a result good teams with good coaches are often out of the running as they have nowhere to improve and good coaches with teams that drop for reasons that have nothing to do with coaching also find themselves out of the running. A coach of Lemaire’s ability should have easily won the Adams Trophy more than twice, but the NHL was giving it to such luminaries as Bill Barber and Bob Francis.
If you had been reading media reports and not watching games, it would be easy to assume that this post is about Mike Green (Steve Simmons is one of his more high profile detractors). Mike Green has not been a superstar in the playoffs yet. In five games he has two points. He leads Washington in playing time and has been playing against tougher competition than he did in the regular season - largely due to the development of rookie John Carlson - who is taking so of the defensively easy minutes. Green has been a solid defenceman so far this playoff, but he has not been spectacular yet.
Once again the NHL revealed their playoff suspension policy, which appears to be no playoff suspensions, especially not to key players, if they can possibly be avoided. Last night at the conclusion of Buffalo’s 4-1 victory over Boston, a brawl broke out. Forty-five minutes in penalties were handed out to five different players. Zdeno Chara was the instigator of the brawl, when he started to fight with Paul Gaustad. Chara was given a two minute instigator penalty, in addition to a game misconduct and a five minute fighting penalty.
NHL rules state that anyone who gets an instigator penalty in the last five minutes of a game receives an automatic suspension. however, the NHL has a history of reviewing and cancelling these suspensions especially in the playoffs.
I think the biggest upset in the 2010 playoffs has just occurred. The Philadelphia Flyers have defeated the New Jersey Devils. Philadelphia was without their first two choices to be starting goalies as Ray Emery and Michael Leighton were injured. This left the Flyers with Brian Boucher in goal. Boucher was coming off a lacklustre .899 saves percentage and had not won a playoff game since the year 2000. Philadelphia almost lost their playoff berth with due to their goaltending problems. They went on a streak where they lost seven of eight games and needed a run where they won three of their last four games to clinch a playoff berth on the last day of the season. Things looked even worse when Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne both suffered foot injuries that will keep them out for weeks, if not the rest of the season. Nevertheless, Philadelphia defeated New Jersey four games to one in the first round.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
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