Though I still think the Winter Classic (in Philadelphia on January 2nd this year at 8pm) is the NHL’s big moment to gain fans, I also think the move to Vegas in 2009 was a good move and the NHL seems to be presenting the awards better every year. They don’t seem to know where the awards will be in 2012, but I’m hoping they get a new contract here in Las Vegas. Everyone seems to like it. The players get an excuse to come hang out and have fun together in Vegas and the fans have a great place to enjoy surrounding their trip to watch the awards and see their favorite players. Each year the number of players (along with their families and friends) attending and parties for them to attend seems to be growing. It seems like a perfect relationship for the NHL – hopefully, it will continue for a bit longer. I’m generally not a fan of visiting the Vegas heat at this time of year, but as long as you stay inside most of the time, it’s a lot of fun.
Corey Perry lost out to Daniel Sedin for the player-voted Ted Lindsay award, he won the one Daniel Sedin himself described as the “greatest award you can win as an individual” (he went on to say that “it’s been a fun life, so I can’t be disappointed”). Perry won the Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded every year to the MVP of the NHL as voted on by members of the NHL Hockey Writers’ Association. The emotional Ducks’ scoring leader said it was his team that got him there. A lot of his family and friends were able to travel to Vegas to see Perry win the award, which definitely makes this moment all the more special. Perry said when he heard his name, “it kinda shocked me – you don’t really believe it.” I’m sure the accomplishment will set in after a bit of celebrating with everyone who came to Vegas to enjoy this with him.
Dustin Brown took home the NHL Foundation Player Award this year, his third year nominated. Clearly, the third time was the charm for him and his charity KaBOOM. I’m sure Kings fans were also happy to see Ian Laperriere (always a favorite ex-King) win the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, for the player exemplifying the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, & dedication to hockey.
Daniel Sedin (2011) and Henrik Sedin (2010) became the first brothers to win back to back Art Ross Trophies (awarded for leading the league in scoring). It was also great to see Tim Thomas get the Vezina for the best goaltender again – especially in the year the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. Though I know the voting takes place before the playoffs, no one deserved the Stanley Cup more than Tim Thomas the way he performed and during the regular season he did the same thing for the Bruins night after night. It was great to see him rewarded for that hard work.
On a personal note, I enjoyed seeing Dan Bylsma win the Jack Adams award for coach of the year. I think what he did with the Penguins in spite of all their injuries was truly an amazing accomplishment, even though they clearly wanted to do better than they did getting knocked out in the first round by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
If you get a chance to catch one of the re-airings of the NHL Awards on Versus or the NHL Network, I’d highly recommend it. I’m glad I recorded it, so I’ll be able to watch some of the bits I missed, due to running around and talking to the winners. Apparently, there was a USA vs. Canada part two and I’m looking forward to seeing that when I get home from Vegas tomorrow. For now, it’s almost time to go enjoy more of this fun city!
Tags: Bruins, Canucks, Corey Perry, Dan Bylsma, Daniel Sedin, Ducks, Dustin Brown, Henrik Sedin, Hockey, KaBOOM, Kings, Las Vegas, Lightning, NHL, NHL Awards, Penguins, Stanley Cup, Tim Thomas, Versus, Winter Classic
At the start of the Finals, I thought the series would go to 7 games, which it did. I thought Vancouver would win and clearly that’s not what happened. In the end, Boston played a lot harder. Though the Canucks have never won the Stanley Cup, the Bruins hadn’t won it in my lifetime, so it’s definitely been a long time since the 1972 Stanley Cup win in Boston.
I thought it would be nice for Vancouver to win the Cup for the first time, but the whole series, I thought Tim Thomas (Conn Smythe winner, Stanley Cup Finals MVP) and his team deserved the Cup more. They were the harder working team and surely won over most fans who went into the Finals undecided about who they wanted to win.
The Bruins outscored the Canucks 23-8 in the 7 games of the Finals even though the Canucks had the same number of shutouts. Each team shut the other out two times, but Luongo and the rest of the Canucks did not rise to the occasion of the Finals and had to watch as the Stanley Cup was awarded to the Boston Bruins.
Alain Vigneault made some errors with keeping Luongo in a bit too long throughout the post season that seemed to come back to haunt him. The way he coached, he didn’t deserve to have his name on the Cup any more than the team that played with a pretty lackluster effort throughout the Finals and most of the playoffs.
I love seeing game sevens in the Stanley Cup Finals, but it’s a shame that many of the individual games weren’t that interesting. The Bruins’ wins were all blow-outs, so the only truly interesting games of the Finals were the first three in Vancouver, which the Canucks won. Tonight’s game was the first the away team won and Boston definitely picked the right time to turn that streak around.
The Boston fans are celebrating tonight, though they probably wish their team could have been awarded the Cup in Boston, so they could have watched it in person. There will surely be a big parade to celebrate the Cup win. Many Bruins fans weren’t alive the last time the Stanley Cup was won by their team. They’ve finally been rewarded.
Great job, Bruins!
Tags: Alain Vigneault, Bruins, Canucks, Conn Smythe Trophy, game 7, Hockey, MVP, NHL, playoffs, Roberto Luongo, shutout, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup Finals, Tim Thomas
For the conference finals, I did as well as a coin would have done, so not that great. I did get the western conference correct, since the Canucks are going to be in the Stanley Cup Finals and the Sharks will again miss their first trip to the Finals. The Bruins just barely beat the Lightning in 7 games, but they did make it to the Finals this year.
Now, it’s time for my Stanley Cup Final predictions…
Stanley Cup Finals
Canucks vs. Bruins
Canucks in 7 – Before the season started, I predicted that the Vancouver Canucks would win the Stanley Cup. Once it became clear they were winning the Presidents’ Trophy for the best record of the regular season, I questioned this pick and thought they’d be knocked out before they got to the Finals. At this point, I’ve gone back to thinking they’ll pull it off and win their first Stanley Cup this year.
The Sedin twins have hit their stride and Tim Thomas is the best goaltender heading to the Finals. It should be quite the showdown.
The Canucks looked shaky against the Blackhawks in round one and Predators in round two. Both times it looked like the Canucks might be eliminated, but they fought back. Vancouver was a lot stronger against the Sharks and perhaps they were given a gift by the Sharks managing to take the Red Wings out of the competition before the conference finals, but the Canucks have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in their history. Perhaps the third time will be the charm. It is the first time the Canucks have been in the Finals against a non-New York City based team (they lost to the Rangers in 1994 and the Islanders in 1982).
The Bruins looked shaky in their first round, great against the Flyers, and just barely beat the Lightning. I think the Bruins are having trouble again when they need to be on top of their game to win the Finals, but the Canucks have pulled things together in time to get past Tim Thomas and win the Stanley Cup for the first time.
Enjoy the Finals!
Tags: Bruins, Canucks, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Hockey, Lightning, NHL, Presidents' Trophy, Sharks, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup Finals, Tim Thomas
Tonight’s game in LA was beyond disappointing for the Kings fans (18,216 sellout crowd with standing room only announced and unlike the Honda Center for the first two Ducks playoff games, Staples Center was packed). The Kings lost game one to the Sharks 3-2 after coming back from the very early Sharks goal. They bounced back from that to shut out the Sharks in San Jose Saturday night winning 4-0. They scored 2:26 & 2:39 into the first period tonight, ended the first period up 3-0, and even scored 44 seconds into the second period. The Kings scored eight unanswered goals after losing in overtime in game one. Then… they collapsed, hit the wall, stopped playing hard enough, … whatever you want to call it, the Kings had an embarrassing loss at home and many fans are (rightfully) upset with their team.
After the fourth goal in tonight’s game, the Sharks pulled goaltender Antti Niemi and apparently he took the Kings’ mojo and will with him. The Kings scored only one goal against Antero Nittymaki, who got his first win of the series, and allowed 5 goals in regulation to end the second period tied at 5 goals each. The Kings seemed to stop the bleeding when they answered the Sharks’ third goal with their fifth, but they allowed two more goals before that period ended and were quite simply outplayed. The Sharks looked like they had extended power plays. Though coach Terry Murray was happy with the way the Kings pulled themselves together for the third period, the only really good thing that can be said of the period is that the Kings allowed no goals against.
Unlike the regular season, where the Kings could do their best to survive five minutes of four on four overtime to win in the shootout (where goaltender Jonathan Quick was undefeated, 10-0), the playoffs don’t have a skills competition. Playoff hockey is 5 on 5 in 20 minute periods that become sudden death starting with the first overtime. TV timeouts are eliminated and intermissions get a bit shorter, but the game remains a real hockey game until a goal is scored. Devin Setoguchi scored the game winning overtime goal just 3:09 into the first overtime. On the bright side, since their team lost, at least the Kings fans were spared an agonizing 3 overtime game that ends with the same disappointment, but includes decreased sleep and a lot more disappointment.
Coach Terry Murray said you had to give the Sharks credit for their power play goal in the second period, “but outside of that, we did this to ourselves… we get caught out for extended shifts… you’re exhausted, you’re getting rattled…” It’s good that Murray acknowledged that the Kings brought the loss on themselves, since perhaps that means he’ll be able to address that problem with the Kings tomorrow, so they can come back from this demoralizing loss at home to win game four Thursday at Staples Center and re-tie the series.
There are a ton of stats (mostly not favorable) about teams (and the Kings specifically) who lose game three of a seven game NHL playoff series and go down two games to one. I’ve always thought those stats (even if they include the same teams from the year before, since there are always some changes from year to year) are as useless as knowing what numbers have hit recently in roulette or the recent coin flip stats. How the team performed when Wayne Gretzky was in the lineup is irrelevant. This team is a completely different team and only they can decide how they’ll play Thursday.
Regardless of what happens in the series, it was nice to see a southern California team properly celebrating the playoffs. The Kings do more for the first round of the playoffs than the Ducks did during the Stanley Cup Finals the year they won the Cup. The Kings had a DJ, live pep band, temporary tattoos, a beer garden, and other booths set up outside. They had The Briggs (who sing their theme song “This is LA”) perform inside before the game to get the fans into the game and after the second goal of the night, I can’t remember hearing Staples Center so loud before. I’m sure the “Frenzy on Figueroa” comeback win against the Red Wings in 2001 was louder and I was there, but it’s hard to remember the arena being that loud before. Kings fans are hoping their faithfulness and support will be rewarded Thursday and they’re sure to fill Staples Center with another SRO sellout crowd. Perhaps this time, the home crowd will be happier when they leave.
Tags: Antero Nittymaki, Antti Niemi, fans, Frenzy on Figueroa, Holiday, Honda Center, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, playoffs, sellout, Sharks, standing room, Stanley Cup, Staples Center, Terry Murray, Wayne Gretzky
In the first day of the 2011 NHL playoffs, the Ducks were the only home team to lose. The Capitals had to get near the end of the first overtime period to win their game, but the Ducks lost 4-1 to the typically defensive Predators. Nashville was expected to be a good team defensively – especially with Pekka Rinne, one of the best goalies in the NHL, in goal. I don’t think many expected them to score four goals against the Ducks, though. Ellis hasn’t been the best goalie this season. In fact, he’s near the bottom in save percentage, but even if he’d played really well tonight it would have been rough for the Ducks. You can’t win without scoring and the only time the Ducks scored against Rinne was in a 5 on 3 power play. Teemu Selanne scored the Ducks’ only goal.
The only real good thin the Ducks can take out of this is (as Getzlaf pointed out) scoring the one goal means “we know we can get it past him.” The Ducks clearly realize that they don’t just need more traffic in front of the net to score on Rinne. Getzlaf explained that it’s, “not only traffic in front, we’ve gotta get good quality shots to the net… it’s not good enough just to throw them there, we’ve got to put them there with some enthusiasm and get there after the rebounds.
Though a sellout crowd of 17,174 was announced for Honda Center tonight, there were a lot of empty seats and I find it hard to believe the top corner seats were sold – especially since there were even tickets available on Goldstar. One of these days, I’d like to figure out what percentage of the tickets have to be sold before they can donate the rest of the tickets or give them to employees or whatever they do to ensure that they can announce a sellout at a sporting event.
Clearly, the Ducks are ready to move on from the first game and come back ready to take on Rinne and the Predators again on Friday. Hopefully, Honda Center will be more packed on a Friday night, in spite of it being more of a true hockey fan’s matchup.
The Predators were naturally happy about winning the first game away from home and essentially removing the Ducks’ home ice advantage from the equation, but they realize it’s a long series. They’ve just won one of the four games they’d need to win to advance to the next round and the series is far from over.
Tags: attendance, Ducks, fans, Hockey, home ice, Honda Center, NHL, Pekka Rinne, playoffs, power play, Predators, Ryan Getzlaf, sellout, Stanley Cup, Teemu Selanne
The Los Angeles Kings are currently 2nd place in the Western Conference (to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks) and tied for third in the NHL. Their number one goalie (Jonathan Quick) has been looking like one and is ranked 4th in save percentage and 3rd in goals against average in the league. Their 4-1-0 start matches their best 5-game start in team history.
Somehow, The Kings’ power play is closer to the bottom than the top of the NHL, though. Their power play is just barely above the Montreal Canadiens for next to last in the NHL. Team scoring is only 19th place out of the 30 NHL teams, so the overall scoring could use a bit of improvement.
Why are the Kings at the bottom of the league in the power play and in the bottom half of the league for goals per game? Last year, the Kings’ power play was 7th in the league. This year they’re clinging to 29th out of 30 teams.
The Kings’ second line has been doing most of their scoring (and Terry Murray has even said at times that the second line has looked like his top line), though perhaps Anze Kopitar’s first goal of the season last night against the Carolina Hurricanes will help his line turn around their low scoring start of the season. Imagine how good this LA team will be if they can get their power play and top line scoring in gear.
I’ve heard a few theories on what’s wrong with the Kings’ power play, but the main theory concentrates on one player and I think pinpointing one player when there are two power play units and both of those power play units are performing horribly doesn’t cover the problem with the power play performance. I’d say it has more to do with a coaching issue, since a single player could only affect their own power play unit. I’m not saying that the Kings’ power play units have the players I’d select if I were creating power play units from the Kings’ roster, but the Kings have been working on their power play a lot in practice and it doesn’t seem to be helping. The Hurricanes have a pretty bad penalty kill, but even that (and their backup goalie in net) wasn’t enough to help the Kings score on the power play. As long as the Kings keep winning, it’s hard to be concerned about the power play, but if they could fix their power play problem winning games should become easier for the Kings and take some of the pressure off of their defense and goalies.
The Kings play so well together without the power play that it’s odd to see how much they struggle as soon as you give them the man advantage. It’s almost like it would be better if the team could decline the penalty like you can in football. If the Kings start scoring on the power play, they’ll be an even more formidable team. Look out western conference teams…
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Blackhawks, Canadiens, Hockey, Hurricanes, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, power play, Stanley Cup, Terry Murray
The Chicago Blackhawks hadn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1961, though they’d been in the Finals 5 times since then. I predicted Blackhawks in 6, but had my doubts when the Flyers tied the game and took it into overtime. Patrick Kane scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in overtime of game six of the Stanley Cup Finals. He seemed to be the only one who knew the puck had gone into the goal. While watching it on TV (I’d even caught up to live), I thought it was a goal, but play kept going, so I figured I was mistaken. Then, we found out that the puck was caught in the net and Kane had scored the game and series winning goal.
Apparently, the third time is the charm. Marian Hossa is the only player in the NHL to ever play in the Stanley Cup Finals three years in a row with three different teams. He lost with the first two teams (the Penguins & Red Wings), but this year he was on the right team and was the second player (after Jonathan Toews, Captain and Conn Smythe Trophy winner for playoff MVP) to hoist the Cup this year.
Blackhawks fans will surely be celebrating for a long time. Many of them weren’t alive the last time the Stanley Cup was won in their city and the parade will certainly be a sight to behold. I hope I’ll be able to watch it online as I did the Penguins’ parade last year. Enjoy the party, Blackhawks fans!
Tags: Blackhawks, Conn Smythe Trophy, Flyers, Hockey, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, NHL, overtime, Patrick Kane, Penguins, Red Wings, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup Finals
I was 100% right for the winners of the last round, but was drastically off for the number of games it would take each team. I thought the Blackhawks (who swept the Sharks) would need 6 games to eliminate the Sharks. I thought the Flyers/Habs series would go to 7 after the road the Flyers and Canadiens had taken to get to that point, but the Flyers (who shut out the Canadiens in 3/5 of their games) figured out how to effectively shut down the Habs and eliminated them in 5 games.
In spite of the fact that the Flyers were ranked 7th in the east and tied in points to the Canadiens as the team with the lowest points to make it to the playoffs and the Blackhawks were only third in the NHL (2nd in the west), I think this year’s Finals will be very interesting. It was hard for me to pick a team to win this one. Though I’m picking the Blackhawks, a lot of this series might depend on which team ends up having the hottest goalie and Michael Leighton of the Flyers, ranked 1st in playoff goaltending save percentage among goalies that have played more than one game and having the most shutouts of the playoffs (3, all in the last round against the Canadiens) is definitely the hottest goalie coming into the Finals. I think the Blackhawks’ scoring will make enough of a difference to neutralize the Flyers’ momentum coming into the Finals.
My prediction is… Blackhawks in 6. The Flyers may have the hottest goalie, but Antti Niemi is still doing very well in goal. The Blackhawks also have the number one scorer in the playoffs (by points and by points per game) and two in the top 10 in points per game. The Flyers’ top scorer is 11th in points per game. The Flyers have the top penalty takers remaining in the competition and with a 22.6% success rate, the Blackhawks have the best power play left (ranked 5th out of the 16 teams in the playoffs). The Flyers (87%) and Blackhawks (86.6%) both have great penalty kills (ranked 2nd & 3rd overall in the playoffs) and defenses, so the Finals this year should be very intense.
The Flyers haven’t been to the Finals since they lost to the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 (the first year of Detroit’s last back-to-back Stanley Cup wins). The Blackhawks lost to the Penguins in 1992 (in their second year of their only back-to-back Stanley Cup wins).
No matter which team wins this year’s Finals, it will be a team that hasn’t won the Cup in quite a while. It will also definitely go to a team who lost the last five times they were in the Finals. Philadelphia last won the Stanley Cup in 1975 – they won back-to-back Cups in 74 & 75. Chicago, who last won the Cup in 1961 is actually the team in the NHL with the longest period without winning the Cup. It’s been almost 40 years and I think it’s time. The Blackhawks and Flyers have each been in the Finals five times since their last wins 49 & 35 years ago.
Both teams have a lot of drive and both have good stories about not having won the Stanley Cup in a long time. Versus and NBC must be thrilled. This year’s Finals includes two teams that have been around for a long time. The Blackhawks are one of the original six teams of the NHL and the Flyers are part of the next six. Both teams have fans all over the country, so this year’s Finals should do well in the United States.
Tags: Antti Niemi, Blackhawks, Canadiens, Flyers, Hockey, Michael Leighton, NBC, NHL, original six, penalties, penalty kill, Penguins, power play, Red Wings, Sharks, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup Finals, Versus
The Sharks may have had home ice advantage in their first conference finals since 2004, but that didn’t matter to the determined Chicago Blackhawks. The Sharks took the early lead and even went so far as to lead game four 2-0, but the Blackhawks came back to take the only lead that mattered – the one that ended the game. Chicago is the only team that swept a series in the 2010 playoffs and for a third year in a row Marian Hossa will be playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. Is the third time the charm for him? Will he finally be on the happy side of the handshake when the Finals finish, or will he be on the losing end of the Finals for a third year in a row?
San Jose really can’t seem to succeed in the post season. They did better this year than they had in a while, but they can’t ever seem to live up to their regular season drive. The Sharks make the regular season look easy and win the west (and sometimes even the Presidents’ Trophy), but they can’t seem to get to the Stanley Cup Finals. Since their start in 1991, they’ve gotten to the conference finals twice (including this year). However, they can’t seem to make it past that point. This year, they didn’t even win a game of the conference finals, leaving them with a record of 8-2 in the conference finals and sending them home before the Finals again.
The Blackhawks will most likely face the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals, but the Montreal Canadiens want to change that. They’ve come back from a 3-1 deficit in a series twice already in the 2010 playoffs, so they may surprise everyone again. Either way, the Blackhawks were the first to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals and are certainly happy to get back to the Finals for the first time since 1992 when they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins as they won their second Cup in a row. This year, they’ve got a young team excited to be in the Finals for the first time.
Tags: Blackhawks, Canadiens, Flyers, Hockey, Marian Hossa, NHL, Penguins, playoffs, Sharks, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup Finals, sweep
The Penguins fans said goodbye to the Igloo. The Mellon Arena (which some of us will always think of as the Civic Arena) has seen its last NHL game. Though the Penguins fans were surely sad about the game tonight, they cheered at the end to support their team’s efforts and say goodbye to the arena that has been the home of the Penguins since their start in 1967. I haven’t been to all the NHL arenas yet, but the closing of the Igloo means the oldest arena in the NHL is now the Madison Square Garden (the 4th), which has been used since 1968. Though the Islanders’ Nassau Memorial Coliseum (1972) is often mentioned as the worst arena in the NHL (it’s my least favorite of those I’ve visited), it is still not the oldest. The Islanders are the only pre-90s NHL team still playing in their original home as of the start of the 2010-11 season. Clearly, a lot of the newer teams have yet to move, but the Islanders have been around since they started in 1972. Though there has been talk of a new arena for the Islanders for ages, I hear the situation is a lot more complicated than fans would like and that it’s not possible for them to get a new arena any time soon.
The Penguins were knocked out of the playoffs tonight by the Canadiens, who have taken the 2010 playoffs by storm first by knocking out the number one Washington Capitals. Now, they’ve knocked out the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
The Cup hasn’t been won by a Canadian team since the Habs last won the Cup (when they beat the LA Kings in 1993). Perhaps it’s destiny. This year’s Penguins had a lot in common with the 1993 Penguins. Everyone seemed to think the 1993 Penguins would win the Cup for the third year in a row. Instead, they were knocked out in the second round of the playoffs by the NY Islanders. This year, they were knocked out in the second round by the Canadiens, but the stories are very similar. Though more people expected the Penguins to win the Cup in 1993 than predicted they’d win this year, the Pens were the defending Stanley Cup Champions and all the pressure was on them. Perhaps even a bit more pressure than in 1993, since this is the last year the Penguins will play in their original home and this time around the Penguins hadn’t yet won back to back Stanley Cups.
I haven’t had a chance to talk to many Penguins fans about the loss yet, but I’m guessing fans will be split between wanting the Canadiens to win the Cup so their team will have at least lost to the Stanley Cup Champions and those who want to see the Habs go down, since they took out their team. Either way, this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs have been more interesting than most and in spite of seeing both of my teams knocked out, I’ve been enjoying the games. Two game 7s in the first and second rounds of the playoffs. No sweeps as of the end of the second round of the playoffs… Underdogs taking down teams many thought couldn’t be beaten (at least not yet)… This year’s playoffs have everything. I hope you’ve been enjoying them as much as I have.
Tags: arenas, Canadiens, Capitals, Islanders, Madison Square Garden, Mellon Arena, Nassau Memorial Coliseum, Penguins, playoffs, Stanley Cup