It wasn't too long ago that the stupidest most irresponsible fans of a team had no venue to show off their stupidity. Those were the good old days.
Last night, the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 in two overtime periods. This gave them a 1-0 lead in their second round series. PK Subban scored two goals in the game including the overtime winner. Some of the Bruin fans took to twitter to show off their ignorance.
Subban is one of the few black players in the NHL and this prompted these Bruins fans to display their racism. There was a tweet showing a noose that said "Tied something for Subban" and others calling him "the n word". Although this is not a representative sample of the Bruins fans, it was bad enough that Boston president Cam Neely released a statement that these fans do not speak for the Bruins organization.
I long for the good old days when idiot fans did not have the ability to display their ignorance internationally.
Steve Mason was the NHL's rookie of the year in 2009. His career looked like it was on its way to stardom. In his next almost four years in Columbus he was unable to replicate those numbers. He almost played himself out of the NHL. In 2013 he was traded to Philadelphia for a 3rd round draft pick and Michael Leighton, who was almost immediately allowed to walk away to the KHL. It was likely Mason's last chance to stay in the NHL.
Mason put up some strong numbers in his late season tryout with the Flyers and he was signed to a new contract and pencilled in to be the Flyers starting goalie in 2013/14. That looked to many like a recipe for disaster. However disaster never happened. In the regular season, Mason put up career bests in goals against average and saves percentage (1.90 and .917 respectively). These numbers were better than his rookie of the year numbers. He kept it up into the playoffs. He currently stands second to Tuukka Rask in both GAA and saves percentage in the playoffs (1.97 and .939 respectively). The Flyers may not have won in the first round but Mason gets no blame and nothing but rave reviews for his play.
The question is what do we expect going forward?
The first round of the playoffs concluded today and my first round predictions did well. I picked seven of the eight first round series correctly. My mistake was picking Colorado over Minnesota. When a series goes to overtime in a seventh game, all you can really conclude is that the two teams were well-matched and either could have won the series.
As for a 7-1 record in the first round, I did very well. It requires a combination of luck and hockey knowledge to do that well. Ironically commenter redxblack quickly criticized my picks because apparently I did not pick enough upsets. When he made his own picks he went 2-6. So I guess he lived by his idea of picking upsets but he didn't make himself look like much of a hockey expert. I have coins that can do better.
Onward to my second round predictions.
The Anaheim Ducks won their first round playoff series against the Dallas Stars and are waiting to play the winner of the San Jose/ Los Angeles series. They won their first round series largely with rookie Frederik Andersen in goal. Andersen did not post particularly good numbers in the first round series. He had a 3.40 GAA and a .892 saves percentage. In two games he was replaced by veteran Jonas Hiller. All told Hiller played a little over forty minutes in the first round and did not allow any goals.
Hiller will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and seemed to fall out of favor with Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau. He has tried to replace Hiller in the later part of the season in order to prepare for next season when Hiller will likely be gone. The hope in Anaheim is that young goalies Andersen and John Gibson could carry the load. It isn't clear that a top team can remain a contender by jettisoning their only proven NHL goalie.
Two different teams announced new general managers today. The Calgary Flames announced that former Phoenix Coyote assistant GM Brad Treliving will be their next general manager and the Carolina Hurricanes announced Ron Francis will be their next general manager.
Brad Treliving has the resume a potentially good general manager. After a professional hockey career where he never made the NHL, he ran the start-up Western Professional Hockey League which ran in the southern US from 1996-2001. He got this opportunity because of his father Jim Treliving who owns the investment portfolio T & M Group of Companies and is one of the "dragons" on CBC's Dragons' Den where people pitch business ideas. He was successful in this roll and the WPHL was bought out by the Central Hockey League and Brad Treliving remained in charge. In 2007 he left and became an assistant GM in Phoenix. Given the financial constraints on the Coyotes as they went through bankruptcy and league ownership, they have done well during his run. While he got his start on the business side of hockey because of family connections he has done a pretty good job in a wide range of hockey positions. Treliving has the potential to be a very good GM. Like a player with potential, he may not succeed, but he has a good chance.
When the regular season ended, I made my award picks. My Norris Trophy nominees are Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks, Alex Pietrangelo of the St Louis Blues and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild. Interestingly they are the top three players in the NHL by playing time per game right now in the playoffs. That in no way justifies my award selections, as they are made based on the regular season, but the fact that when games matter the most teams play these guys more than anyone else shows that they are good picks. This is a strong argument that these three are top NHL players.
Today it was announced that the Washington Capitals will not be renewing general manager George McPhee's contract for next season. They are also firing coach Adam Oates, as the new general manager is expected to bring in his own coach. This is in response to the Capitals missing the playoffs this season despite some good front line tsalent including Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and George McPhee.
McPhee had been the Washington general manager since 1997. He had done a pretty good job in that time. Washington acquired some good talent and they won seven division titles in that time. They were never able to win a Stanley Cup, but they had a consistently good team.
There has been a significant suspension in the playoffs already. Matt Cooke of the Minnesota Wild has been suspended for seven games for a kneeing incident that put Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche out of the playoffs. Should Minnesota not last seven more games in the 2014 playoffs, the suspension will be completed at the beginning of next season. The incident occurred in Monday's game three of the Colorado/Minnesota series that Minnesota won 1-0 in overtime.
Cooke is no stranger to being suspended. This is his sixth NHL suspension. It is his first since a 17 game suspension he served for a headshot to Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers in 2011. It was widely reported that Cooke changed his style of play after that suspension to better conform to NHL rules. In fact some misguided people suggested that Cooke should win the 2012 Masterton Trophy for changing his style of play. That would have been a ridiculous result. Matt Cooke wins an award for not getting suspended that season. That is a feat that hundreds of players accomplish annually.
Matt Cooke is showing us that leopards do not change their spots. His suspension should surprise no one. Even those who supported him for the Masterton Trophy cannot be surprised right now. His seven game suspension is about right given his crimes.
At least two games have been played in every first round playoff series and I am going to take this opportunity to make my first pick of the early playoff MVP. Obviously it is extremely early in the playoffs and it is possible that the next game will significantly change my pick.
Today, I select Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins as the early playoff MVP. Rask has held back the Red Wings offence. He is posting a 1.02 GAA and a .966 saves percentage. Those are incredible numbers. Rask has been the best goalie in the NHL all season and given that he is just entering the prime years of his career, it is possible that he could establish himself as the best goalie in the NHL for years to come. This season may only be the start.
Last summer the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers effectively traded coaches. Alain Vigneault left Vancouver to coach the Rangers and John Tortorella left New York to coach the Canucks. This would be a pretty good opportunity to compare the two coaches with each other's teams.
A season has been played. The New York Rangers had a solid playoff season. They posted the fifth best record in the East Conference. This is a slight improvement from their sixth place finish in 2013. The Vancouver Canucks missed the playoffs. They finished 12th in the West Conference, missing the playoffs by eight points. In 2013 they had the fifth best record in the West Conference and won their division. Clearly based upon the season that just completed, Alain Vigneault won. He appears to be the better coach.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
Why are you reading it? ???