21 November 2009
03 October 2009
01 October 2009
14 July 2009
06 July 2009
02 July 2009
Gaborik of course signed with the New York Rangers as all of you should know. I was shocked when the rumor was that Gaborik's agent was seeking a 10 year for $75M. Gaborik got the money, but not the term. Still Gaborik should be thrilled anyone gave him over 3 years at that kind of money. But if you though the Twin Cities media was rough on the former franchise player, wait until the big apple gets a hold of him.
29 June 2009
26 June 2009
16 June 2009
12 June 2009
21 May 2009
So it seems Mr. Fletcher won the job in the new era of the State of Hockey. I think clearly he's going to handle player negotiations and injuries better than Riseborough (not that's terribly difficult).
The BIG concern I have is his first duty is to hire a new head coach to replace the (at least presently) retired Jacques Lemaire. Since Firing Eddie Olcyzk all they've done in Pittsburgh is promote whoever is coaching their Wilkes-Barre/Scranton affiliate and then fire that person before the end of a season. Frankly no coaches in Pittsburgh have been impressive for many seasons now.
I know fans had a love/hate with Lemaire, but I think there's some consensus that the stability was good, and Lemaire probably left at the right time. I don't know how Wild would handle going from coaching stability if Fletcher brings a "revolving door" mentality to the coaching position here. I guess this decision will decide whether I'm getting on board with this or not.
And unfortunatly unless someone else hires McGuire, it seems we get to suffer through another year of him on NBC.
17 May 2009
12 May 2009
Two great game 6's last night. Two high-scoring games, one game 7 forced (Pit at Was, Wed), and one of my second round picks are through to the next round (Chicago over Vancouver, 4 to 2).
Two more good ones to night as Carolina and Detroit both seek to vanquish there opponents in game 6's. I know the Pittsburgh-Washington series has got all the hype, but every series has been great to watch, and full of passion. These 8 teams are all playing very hard.
I know I picked the Bruins, and I know many people we're mean to me for simply being a northerner when I lived in North Carolina, but I still find myself pulling for the Hurricanes tonight. And of course I'm pulling for the bouncing of the evil, unholy Ducks.
Wild GM Hunt...
Accoring to the above article the frontrunners for the Wild's GM position are Penguin's assistant GM Chuck Fletcher, and NBC Analyst Pierre McGuire.
I find myself underimpressed. The Penguins have not hired a decent coach in the last several years and I'm not confident in Fletcher's ability to pick a good candidate to replace Lemaire if he's going by his experiences with the Penguins.
I find McGuire and old school retread based on his attitudes on NBC (but if he's hired here at least I won't have to watch him on TV anymore). I think old school attitude is what really hurt the Wild under Riseborough (not to mention all the injuries that came up suddenly after the season). Maybe he's smarter in the front office than I think, but I don't really see this as a change.
I suppose either of the above most likley represent an improvement over Riseborough, and maybe Fletcher can prove me wrong on the coach thing. Ideally, I can think of better front offices from which to look for candidates. But hopefully we'll find out soon.
With the Coyotes' seeking bankruptcy Canadian Research in Motion executive Jim Balsillie is seeking to purchase the Coyotes for $212.5M with the stipulation that he be able to move the team to Southern Ontario.
Balsille has made similar attempts at the Nashville Predators (2007) and Pittsbrugh Penguins (2005).
Here are the details: http://www.canada.com/Business/Balsillie+bids+bankrupt+Phoenix+Coyotes/1566656/story.html
The NHL is challening Coyotes' owner Jerry Moyes' ability to declare bankruptcy after accepting financing from the leauge last October to stay afloat. The league is claming that Moyes' surrendered the right to sell the team. This court case will prove very interesting. Did Moyes' surrender his position to the rest of the league? If the court rules he did the Coyote's are probably safe in Phoenix for now. If the court rules otherwise, and rules that the court can compel the league to allow the relocation of the franchise because bankruptcy requires the team be sold to the highest bidder, then it seems the team is heading north.
I speculate the plan is probably to park the team at Copps' Coliseum in Hamilton, ON (40 mi from Toronto) until Balsille can build a new arena. The problem is Hamilton lies within a 70mi radius of both Toronto and Buffalo, where they would have to waive their rights to that territory. If Balsille builds a new arena near Kitchener, ON (where Research in Motion is headquartered) he finds himself out of both trade areas, but still within 40mi of nearby Hamilton.
But for now we're waiting to hear how the judge rules on who has the right to sell the Coyotes.
From a good for the NHL standpoint I'm pretty torn on this one. The attendance in Phoenix is third worst in the league this season. Still Phoenix is the 12th largest US television markets which helps me see why the NHL wants to hold on here (as opposed to Nashville being the 33rd and pretty easy to give up in my opinion). I think it's ultimatly good for the league if the Coyotes were somewhere they could make a profit, and Southern Ontario seems to be a safe bet, however, when they negotiate TV deals in a copule years, it would probably look better if they still had Phoenix in their list of US cities.
In general the comeptition for the entertainment dollar is growing in the US. And markets the size of Phoenix, and for that matter Minneapolis/St. Paul are going to have trouble supporting franchises in all 4 major sports (Seattle is of a similar size and couldn't support 3). Maybe the NHL needs to look for more US markets that currently have only one or two teams (Seattle, Kansas City) even if their smaller. Instead of trying to take gate in mid-sized markets from 3 better established franchises.
29 April 2009
Veteran G Sergei Federov scored the game winner for the Caps with under 5 minutes to play to lead them to a 2-1 victory.
And the Carolina Hurricanes got two goals in the final 90 seconds to stun the Devils 4-3.
As for my first round picks, my correct predictions...
Detroit over Columbus in 7 (actual DET 4-0)
You may have blinked and missed the fact the Blue Jackets made their first playoff appearance. Columbus didn't put up a fight except a little in game 4. The Red Wings look like the new favorites.
Chicago over Calagary in 7 (actual CHI 4-2)
Chicago got a good road victory to close out the Flames
Boston over Montreal in 5 (actual BOS 4-0)
Good sweep, good team.
Washington over New York Rangers in 6 (actual WSH 4-3).
The Caps had to rally from down 3 games to 1 to put this in my correct column. Repalcing G Jose Theodore with Simeon Varlamov turned this series around. The Caps future looks bright if Varlamov keeps playing well.
The Wrong Picks (my excuses)...
San Jose over Anaheim (ANA 4-2)
This one dissapointed everyone. The Sharks have got to keep playing well in the playoffs or they seem doomes for early exits.
St. Louis over Vancouver (VAN 4-0)
So this one was wishful thinking. The Blues were a good second half story, but it turned out I underestimated the Canucks who have a very interesting series in the next round.
New Jersey over Carolina (CAR 4-3)
I was 90 seconds from getting this one right, but I did say Carolina was a tough team for a #6 seed. They never give up, I would be a little concerned if I were Boston.
Philadelphia over Pittsburgh (PIT 4-2)
I definatly underestimated Pittsburgh's toughness and the Flyers Just collapsed in game 6.
All right, here are my round 2 selections
#2 Detroit v. #8 Anaheim
Detroit looks like they found their playoff legs and they will be well rested. I didn't see anything that led me to believe the Ducks are any better than their finish, their victory was mostly the product of a Sharks collapse. A lot of people will get on the Ducks bandwagon, but I absolutly love this matchup for the Wings.
Detroit in 5
#3 Vancouver v. #4 Chicago
This is going to be the most entertaining series in this round. Both teams finished strong. Chicago has more offensive power, but they will be against Canucks G Roberto Luongo, who played stunningly well in the first round. This one is tough
Chicago in 7
#1 Boston v. #6 Carolina
The Bruins are very young but very powerful. The 'Canes never quit winning 2 of their 4 games in the final minute against New Jersey. The 'Canes are better than the standings showed (I attribute that to the 'Canes getting the fewest "extra points" in the regular season), and that was a really good Devils team they beat. Boston is young and may be overconfident after decimating a bad Montreal team. Still their getting good goaltending and lots of scoring. I wouldn't be shocked if the 'Canes pull this one out but...
Boston in 7
#2 Washington v. #4 Pittsburgh
The Matchup the NHL probably wanted. Get ready for overload on Sid v. Ovechkin marketing. I think the Caps got the ship right and can go as far as suddenly #1 goaltender Varmalov can take them. Also Federov is not looking his age. Lots to like about the caps here.
Washington in 6
My bracket from here (I lost both Finalists in the first round)
Detroit over Chicago
Washington over Boston
Detroit over Washington
16 April 2009
Weatherwise, it's already a beautiful day in the State of Hockey. But after hearing this news, the sun got even brighter, the birds we're singing even sweeter.
If Lemaire's resignation was the first sad news of the summer, this very much is the first good news. Risebrough started this season without adequate forwards for their roles (Sheppard, Pouliot) and failed to make the deals that would've provided depth at center. Furthermore he gutted the team, and got nothing in return to clear cap room for Gaborik, who he was never going to be able to sign anyway.
On Gaborik, I'm not sure if this is an effort to keep him as some of the early posters on twincities.com have suggested. I think, unless they can get him at a real good deal, they're better off letting him walk and using the cap space to get another center and maybe squeeze in another wing. I don't think there's going to be a massive bidding war for free agents this summer with the cap likley to stay put. The free agent vaules will be better this summer compared to the last couple of summers for sure (Johnsson at 5M, really?).
I admire Leopold's courage. I'd like to think this had something to do with my online petition I started on Saturday, but no one signed it (I should've made an active hyperlink, and at least sign it myself, details). More honestly, I'd like to think this had more to do with pressure from season ticket holders. The local media was absolutley absent on blaming Doug for any of this. They were always quick to question if Lemaire's defense first coaching was the problem, but clearly this has been a personnel issue ever since Sheppard was 2nd on the Center depth list before the season.
I don't want to dump on Sheppard, but he was too young for what Dougie expected, Koivu had the benefit of being a 3rd or 4th liner for several seasons before being the top Center last year.
So while I admire Mr. Leipold for this move, he is in a pretty tough spot. The draft is less than 2 months away and he needs a GM in place that can hire a coach before then. I'll admit I'm pretty ignorant of who's available as GM's go. I still expect next season to be a "rebuilding year," so maybe Leipold might give someone their first shot instead of an retread.
I'm not sure how much improvement this means for the team next season. It really depends on how the summer goes, but I would still guess they're around even money to make the playoffs (as most teams are). However, a few seasons down the line, hopefully the goal of making the Wild perennial contenders (which we fans were promised in the earlier) will finally be realized, instead of torn apart by Dougie's cheapness every time it seems they're close.
14 April 2009
#1 San Jose v. #8 Anaheim
The Sharks seem to have their groove back despite an injury ravaged second half. The Ducks seem like they'll be overpowered quite easily
San Jose in 5
#2 Detroit v. #7 Columbus
This is going to be a tough one for the defending champion Red Wings. They still boast the deepest defense and a very deep offense. But as it always seems to be with the Wings, it's goaltending and age that could prove to be their heel. The Blue Jackets bring a very young and aggressive team into their first playoff appearance. But I think experience wins out here
Detroit in 7
#3 Vancouver v. #6 St. Louis
The Blues are the hottest team in the second half of the season, but thanks to a strong finish the Canucks were able to wrestle away the Northwest title from the Flames in the final weekend. This should prove to be a good series, but I'm going to take the upset here.
St. Louis in 6
#4 Chicago v. #5 Calgary
Unlike the above series both of these teams finished heading in the wrong direction. I think the Blackhawks are more solid and Kippersoff's having an average year for the Flames.
Chicago in 7
#1 Boston v. #8 Montreal
This series will be billed as a traditional clash between original six franchises. However, from a competitive standpoint Boston looks too tough, unless G Tim Thomas falls apart. I love the Bruins here
Boston in 5
#2 Washington v. New York Rangers
This is another series the networks will be happy to have. Lots of star power, lots of stories. This might be a chance for Caps G Jose Theodore to finally get off to a good start, as the Rangers are team that's had lots of trouble.
Washington in 6
#3 New Jersey v. #6 Carolina
The Devils are a new team since G Martin Brodeur returned from his injury. But they drew an underrated Hurricanes team that could give them some trouble. This will be a tough series.
New Jersey in 6
#4 Pittsburgh v. #5 Philadelphia.
These teams finished tied at the end of the season, but I think the Flyers are better built for the playoffs. They're tougher and more durable and capapble of slowing the Penguins attack.
Philadelphia in 6
If I have to fill out the rest of my "bracket" it would be
San Jose over St. Louis in 6
Detroit over Chicago in 6
Boston over Philadelphia in 5
New Jersey over Washington in 7
San Jose over Detroit in 7
New Jersey over Boston in 6
San Jose over New Jersey in 7
13 April 2009
The only coach the Wild has ever known, Jacques Lemaire resigned on Saturday. I'm very sorry to hear this as coaches like him are very rare. Personally, I'm very glad for him, because it seems the front office never gave him the support and never followed through on their stated mission to build this team to be perennial contenders.
Despite vague shows of support, I think Lemaire was going to end up the scapegoat for the Wild's underachiving this year, and I'm glad he's leaving under his own terms.
I'm willing to concede that it's possible his message was getting stale, and it sounds like he may have lost control of the locker room this year, still coaches as good as Lemaire are incredibly rare when you look at the mediocraty of the coaches in the rest of the league.
So whatever Lemaire moves on to (and I know that Montreal job is conspicuously open) I wish him the best. As for the Wild, I'm not sure what's going to happen, but I think this is officially the first bad news of the summer.
This is going to become my annual railing against the NHL's current standings system, which rewards Regulation Wins and Shootout wins the same, but Regulation losses and shootout losses differently.
In the interest of not overloading the blog I put the tables on a separate website
http://www.geocities.com/justinworldonline/sotso/sotsostandings.html (click here to follow along)
Not a whole lot of difference this year.
The Biggest thing to notice is that in systems I and III Florida gets in (at the expense of the New York Rangers in I and Montreal in III). In System II there is a 3 way tie for 8th in the East.
Also note that in systems I and III Bost wins the President's trophy instead of San Jose, they finished tied in system II.
Minnesota actually edges out Anaheim for 8th place in the West in system III
Carolina actually finishes 4th in the East under every alternative. Pittsburgh falls to 5th or 6th
So nothing earth shaking here this year, compared to System I each team earned an average of 9.4 extra points, you can see the adjustments in this table to see the biggest winners and losers in collecting loser points.
My Playoff Predictions
11 April 2009
So the 8 playoff spots are spoken for in both conferences, while the Wild will have to watch (at least the golfers will probably get to go out this week with 60 degree days in the forecast).
The playoff chase was a dramatic since Sunday, when the Wild lost a point with 50 seconds left against Detroit on Sunday. Sadly, I don't think fans should buy in to the idea that making the playoffs would've been acceptable. The second round was a legitimate goal. Finishing in the top 5 in the West was a legitimate goal. Repeating as division champions was a legitimate goal, and the Wild weren't frankly close.
I still say the problem was in the depth of our forwards. We had very few scorers, we started the season with one legitimate center. This was true before this team became injury ravaged. Dougie's going to try to blame the injuries on Bouchard, Burns, and Gaborik being absent, but don't be fooled, the Wild's offense was anemic before that. The defense, and goaltending stepped up late to keep the Wild in many games when they were outshot 2-1.
I'm calling for the removal of the General Manager in this online petition, please consider signing.
*NHL Playoff Picks
*Final Standings under the 2W-1T-0L system (1998-99)
10 April 2009
ANA (88, 41): (2) Fr v. DAL, Sa @PHX
STL (88, 39): (2) Fr CBJ, Su @COL
NSH (88, 40): (1) Fr @MIN
MIN (85, 38): (2) Fr NSH, Sa @CBJ
If the Wild win in regulation tonight they need EITHER of the following.
1) STL to get one point or fewer in their final two games OR
2) ANA to get zero points in their final two games
If the Wild win in overtime tonight (allowing NSH a point) they need BOTH of the above.
Coach Lemaire announced he plans to play for a regulation win tonight.
He plans to pull the goalie to play for a regulation win should the game be tied in the final moments of the 3rd. I wholeheartedly agree with taking fate in your own hands here. The Wild's playoff chances are slim if they beat Nashville in regulation tonight, their slim chance I estimate would be cut in half if Nashville gets a point.
09 April 2009
So with two games remaining, there are 4 teams left fighting for the final 2 playoff spots (Edmonton's loss coupled with St. Louis' victory eliminated the Oilers on Tuesday). Each of the 4 teams has two games remaining. So here is my look for the race for 7th through 10th in the Western Conference...
Team (Pts, Wins): (Games left) Remaining Schedule
ANA (88, 41): (2) Fr v. DAL, Sa @PHX
STL (88, 39): (2) Fr CBJ, Su @COL
NSH (86, 39): (2) Th @DET, Fr @MIN
MIN (85, 38): (2) Fr NSH, Sa @CBJ
So the Wild make the playoffs if...
If the Wild win both* of their games AND either of the following.
1) ANA gets held to 0 points in their final two games OR
2) STL gets held to 1 point or fewer in their final two games.+
*Note should NSH beat DET tonight, the Wild would have to beat Nashville in Regulation tommorow to deny the Preds any points in the above scenario.
Otherwise should NSH beat DET and lose to MIN in OT the Wild would then need ALL of the following...
1) MIN beat CBJ on Saturday
2) ANA to get held to 0 points in their final two games AND
3) STL to get held to 1 point or fewer in their final two games+
+There was a omission on Tuesday's post concerning St. Louis and Nashville. The Wild could've make the playoffs if either of these teams "get held to 3 points or fewer in their final 3 games" provided Anaheim got held to 0 under the first scenario. This is because the Wild would advance to the playoffs if they finish in a tie at 89 points against either/or both St. Louis and Nashville and Anaheim gets stuck at 88, the Wild would advance by having 40 wins (Nashville would also advance in this scenario with them picking up their 40th win at Detroit).
However, there are now no scenarios in which the Wild can get in with fewer than 4 points in their final two games and advance to the playoffs (Mainly because the Wild lost the season series against St. Louis and will at best tie the season series against Nashville).
The Wild are probably favorites at home against Nashville tommorow night, especially since the Preds are travelling from playing in Detroit tonight.
The Wild are probably even to a slight underdog at Columbus on Saturday. It does help that the Jackets have already clinched a spot in the playoffs so Saturday's game won't mean as much to them. Both teams also will be playing their second game in two nights on Saturday so fatigue should effect them both.
The bad news is Anaheim is very unlikley to be held without at least one point with two very lowly opponents left.
St. Louis is a tough call. Again Columbus doesn't have much to play for but they are probably even to a slight favorite over the Blues on Friday. However at Colorado on Sunday I imagine the Blues are a distinct favorite because it seems their in the playoffs in every scenario in which they beat the lowly Avs, so they will have everything to play for there.
I still think my picks from Tuesday are the most likley outcome (7) ANA, 8) STL, 9) MIN, 10) NSH), however 3 good results for the Wild on Friday change everything (Teams for Wild fans to cheer for in Italics)
Nashville at Minnesota
Columbus at St. Louis
Dallas at Anaheim
The other important games are...
Thu, Nashville at Detroit
Sat, Minnesota at Columbus
Sat, Anaheim at Phoenix
Su, St. Louis at Colorado
There is a more league-wide playoff breakdown on nhl.com today.
06 April 2009
Team (Points, Wins): (Games left) Remaining Schedule
ANA (88, 41): (2) Fr v. DAL, Sa @PHX
NSH (86, 39): (3) Tu v. CHI, Th @DET, Fr @MIN
STL (86, 38): (3) Tu @PHX, Fr CBJ, Su @COL
MIN (83, 37): (3) Tu DAL, Fr NSH, Sa @CBJ
EDM (83, 37): (3) Tu LA, Fr CGY, Sa @CGY
So the Wild make the playoffs if...
I. If the Wild go 3-0-0 and earn 6 points THEN they also need TWO of the following
*STL get held to a total of 2 points or fewer in their final 3 games
*NSH get held to a total of 2 points or fewer in their final 3 games
*ANA get 0 points in their final 2 games
II. If the Wild go 2-0-1 and earn 5 points THEN they need ALL of the following
*STL get held to a total of 1 points or fewer in their final 3 games (2 points if STL doesn't win either game, "both euphorian points"+)
*NSH get held to a total of 1 point or fewer in their final 3 games (this does necessitate the Wild beat NSH on Friday)
*EDM gets 5 points or fewer in their final 3 games
+euphorian points a term coined by KSTP-AM's Joe Soucheray referring to overtime points. You get this if you understand what "euphorians" or "the mystery" mean (click here for the official "Garage Logic" glossary).
III. If the Wild go 2-1-0 for 4 points in their last 3 games THEN they need all of the following
*STL get held to a total of 1 points or fewer in their final 3 games
*NSH gets 0 points in their final 3 games (this does necessitate the Wild beat NSH in regulation on Friday)
*EDM gets 4 points or fewer in their final 3 games
IV. If the Wild go 1-0-2 for 4 points in their last 3 games THEN they need all of the following
*STL gets 0 points in their final 3 games
*NSH gets 0 points in their final 3 games (this does necessitate the Wild beat NSH in regulation on Friday)
*EDM gets 3 points or fewer in their final 3 games or if EDM also goes 1-0-2)
All the above factor in the first two tiebreakers (wins and season series) in two team scenarios. There may be other ways the Wild get in if there's a 3 way tie for 8th.
Anaheim's schedule is too easy, so I would say it's unlikley they lose out.
St. Louis's schedule also looks pretty easy, but they do have two road games and their toughest opponent is at home (Columbus).
The Wild could easily win out their their schedule. as their toughest game is their last one @Columbus and if the Wild are still alive, undoubtedtly they'd have more to play for than Columbus who will have probably already clinched their spot. Otherwise I like the Wild at Home against both Dallas and Nashville.
Edmonton has Calgary twice, the are included in this because if all goes right for the Wild with St. Louis and Columbus, hypothetically the Oliers could still snipe the Wild if they have a better finish, but two games against division leading Calgary seem to make that a long shot for the Oil.
In short I predict
8) St. Louis
Tommorow nights schedule will be telling
Chicago at Nashville
St. Louis at Phoenix
Dallas at Minnesota
If all goes well tommorow for Minnesota (win over DAL and losses by STL and NSH) they will look in better shape and the area sportswriters may wish they haven't jumped off the ledge over this team for the 5th time this month. But if the Wild lose and either STL or NSH wins the Wild could be eliminated.
When the regular season's over I will collect all the data and calculate the stadings under the old format (2W-1T-0L) systems to see who got the most help from "euphorian points" this year.
05 March 2009
There are rumors Gaborik may be ready to go in the next couple of weeks, that will help their offense. There's rumors the Wild may even bid for Gaborik (presumably at considerably less than the 10yr@8M he was reportedly offered last fall). I like this idea only if it's possible to do so without unloading salary like Dougie did last year (see Brian Rolston).
The Wild's Other UFA's are: Foster, Bergeron, Skoula, and Vellieux, all of which earn under $2M.
The Flames did a lot at the deadline, and with San Jose suddenly ravaged by injuries perhaps the West is a 3 team race instead of Detroit and San Jose just running away from the pack.
The Devils look poised to take the hotly contested Atlantic with the return of Marty Brodeur. Still Boston's dominance is astounding to me. I had them in 12th in the East in my preseason predictions, even though I thought if things fell right they could be a playoff team. They are getting way more offense than we could've expected, and they ahve two goaltenders playing great this year after very iffy seasons last year.
If this is Coach Lemaire's last season I imagine the job would have to go to current Houston Aeros (and former San Jose Sharks) head coach Kevin Constantine. He has turned around what was one of the AHL's worst teams and has done good for the Wild system. He has NHL experience and he's a screamer.
03 March 2009
He signed All-Star Goaltender Niklas Backstrom to a 4 year $24 dollar deal today. He did this without trying to lowball him (see Brian Rolston).
I don't think the Wild got much of a "hometown discount," but Backstrom is important to this team.
So now all that's left is for Riseborough is...
*Get ANYTHING for Gaborik (even a 3rd or 4th rounder)
*Make one more deal to shore up the middle line depth (Dan Fritche's acquisition helped this, but Dougie clearly gutted the 2nd and 3rd line capabilities losing Rolston and expecting Pouliot and Shepard to both be read to be 2nd line Centers)
If he accomplishes these things I might have to stop hating him like I love to do.
Other possible implications of this signing
*I believe this puts to rest once and for all any speculation of Gaborik signing here. There is simply no cap room left, therefore Dougie should try and trade him, but even the straight salary dump wouldn't be terrible.
*This probably makes Josh Harding expendable. Harding is an restricted free agent after this season, meaning the Wild would have the right to match any offer sheet he's tendered by another club. However I imagine a team would probably offer him enough that the wild couldn't fit him under the cap (in which case the Wild would get some compensatory draft picks). However, Harding might have a lot of trade value now to a team willing to roll the dice on him as a starter for the stretch run. I don't think it's a done deal that Harding's gone, but it seems likley if someone brings a deal the Wild can't refuse.
*A SOTSOH fan pointed out that the Wild have waived a few of their lower earning players. The Wild were within 500K of their cap according to nhlnumbers.com, so maybe they're just trying to squeak out what room they can to make one more deal.
But today, the state of the state of hockey is.... pleasantly competent.
I can't really argue with the suspension. That was the most violent thing I've seen Boogaard do (outsite of a fight of course) leading with an elbow to the head. Still the State of Hockey should be angry over the fact Souray got nothing for giving Weller a concussion throwing a punch with a brace. The NHL Front office hates the Wild and it's time Doug Riseborough show another flash of competence and start calling out Bettman for his inconsistency. (I wish Boogaard elbowed Bertuzzi, I wouldn't cry any tears over that).
03 February 2009
I honsetly have some respect for Don Cherry for trying to support the old time hockey toughness, but I'm afraid he's using only the part of this Cal Clutterbuck fight against Toronto to make his point.
Cherry is clearly omitting the fact that people don't take their helmets off to fight Clutterbuck either. So to defend his beliefs he kind of leaves this truth out. I'm glad Cal is calling him on it.
Since the all star break, I've been happy with the harder hitting Wild. This year we really have only been able to count on Brent Burns and Clutterbuck to be consistently tough. Everyone else has looked weak (I guess Schultz still puts a good hit on once in a while). Since the all star break more people are trying to throw their bodies around and actually fight to get to the net. Hopefully this will result in more goals.
I'm happy with what I see, but I still the think the Wild find themselves on the outside this season unless this toughness is permanent.
24 January 2009
Western Conference (Divisions: C-Central, P-Pacific, N-Northwest)
<2> (P) San Jose 73/45 - Amazing start, hopefully they won't fade in the playoffs
<1> (C) Detroit 68/46 - I imagine it's possible they still catch SJ if they have a February like last year's
<4> (N) Calgary 60/46 - Had them second in the northwest, they're a good club
<8> (C) Chicago 58/45 - Changing coaches after week one seems to have paid off
<6> (P) Phoenix 53/48 - Definatly a good team this year I was close on this one
<14> (N) Edmonton 51/46 - I was a little off on this one
<12> (N) Vancouver 51/48 - This one too
<5> (P) Anaheim 51/49 - Suprised they're only a bubble team
<3> (N) Minnesota 49/46 - Need goals quick
<11> (C) Columbus 49/47 - Close on this one
<7> (P) Dallas 47/45 - I didn't have high hopes for this team, amazed they're doing worse than I thought
<9> (N) Colorado 47/47 - Rebuilding
<15> (P) Los Angeles 45/46- still a season from the playoffs
<10> (C) Nashville 43/46 - underachiving
<13> (C) St. Louis 42/46 - injuries have been killer
Eastern Conference (Divisions: A-Atlantic, N-Northeast, S-Southeast)
<12> (N) Boston 73/47 - Way off on this one, grossly underestimated how good their goaltending would be and how much offense they were going to get
<2> (S) Washington 63/48 - Right on this one
<4> (A) New Jersey 61/47 - Right in this tight race
<1> (N) Montreal 60/46 - Very dissapointing they're this far out going into the break
<5> (A) New York Rangers 60/48 - this division changes leads every day
<6> (A) Philadelphia 59/46- Also in this tight race
<10> (N) Buffalo 53/47 - little surprise
<11> (S) Carolina 51/48 - also a little surprise, but will be tough to hang on
<13> (S) Florida 50/46 - overachieving
<3> (A) Pittsburgh 50/48 - Biggest dissapointment of the year. I figured a little drop off, not miss the playoffs, but Michel Therrien is an overrated coach
<8> (N) Toronto 42/47- Hate Brian Burke
<7> (S) Tampa Bay 42/47 - Melrose got mercy fired, this is a bad front office here folks
<9> (N) Ottawa 39/44 - Dissapointing
<15> (S) Atlanta 39/48 - so I got the last two flip flopped
<14> (A) New York Islanders 31/47 - so I got the last two flip flopped
Overall I think I'm looking closer in the West. But there are a lot of average and below average teams in the playoff hunt. It seems Detroit and San Jose seem on a collision course unless either chokes in the playoffs. The East is wide open and very top heavy. I would argue there are 5, maybe 6 legitamate teams that could go to the finals (suprisingly the Penguins aren't one of them)
Enjoy the skills contest tonight, and the all star game tommorow, both on Versus.
SOSTO Hockey would like to congratulate G Niklas Backstrom on his selection and he's sure to make the Wild faithful proud :).
21 January 2009
The Wild have shown some brilliant games against good teams. Monday is a good example beating Chicago (though they needed a monster 40 of 41 performance from Nicky Backstrom). However, then they play games like last night where they look two steps slower than a really bad team for most of the night.
The fact is I have seen more games like the latter than the former this year, and I see no way the Wild get to the playoffs unless they get a lot better. Even if they should sneak in, I think chances are they are primed to be swept by either Detroit or San Jose.
Our 2nd and 3rd lines seem to be getting absolutly run over, and I think it's just because of the lack of depth the Wild have. Part of it due to injury, most of it due to Doug's unwillingness to invest in anyone other than top liners (yes I'm talking about how well lowballing Brian Rolston has worked out for you Dougie!)
I know Rolston's been hurt in New Jersey, that may or may not have happened here. But when he's been playing he's scoring goals. Doug also lowballed Andrew Brunette after the '03 season and he had 4 monster years in Colorado. Now that he's back he's still getting to the net and has been one of the few offensive bright spots (though I think Brian Rolston would be even better than Brunette and possibly Koivu).
I am sick of this pattern Doug Riseborough has shown of hoping his key players hit slumps at contract time so he can sign them cheap. In other words, the Wild's General Manager is actually rooting for key players to fail so he can save money. It's pretty perverse when you think about it. At the very least, it seems to be the wrong approach if this franchise is serious about ever winning a Stanley Cup.
If I must talk about Gaborik...
I don't think I really care what happens to Marian Gaborik now. I think Doug Riseborough completly mis-handled this situation anyway. It was forseeable that Gaborik wanted more that Dougie was going to pay, even after Doug sent Rolston and Demitra away (though Owen Nolan makes me miss Demitra less), in an effort to clear cap space. Now he's done that for no reason and we're getting run over because players like that would help this huge depth issue the Wild have. Now that Gabs is hurt, DR is redced to hoping someone is willing to send a 3rd or 4th rounder for the off chance Gabs can go in Mid-March.
The Free agent I really want to talk about...
But Gaborik is not who I want to talk about, what's atrocious is that Goaltender Niklas Backstrom hasn't been tendered an extention. Backstrom is the Wild's only all star (and probably deservedly so) and the fact is without Nicky this is probably a last place team. Backup Josh Harding has shown some brilliance but I don't think he's ready to take the reins just yet. Backstrom needs a two year extension at $5M per NOW! Since It is incredibly unlikley that we see Gaborik again that instantly frees up $7.5M. The Wild have only commit $37M to next year (leaving about $20M in total). Some of that needs to go to Backstrom, and they need to get some more $3-4M type forwards to shore up the 2nd line.
But no motion has been made toward signing Backstrom, which I think ought to be the litmus test to whether Doug stays or goes. If Backs gets offered $6M somewhere and doesn't come back maybe that's okay, but if he leaves somewhere cheap, I want Dougie's head to finally roll.