The 2010 Playoffs: Anything that could happen will happen

What to make of these playoffs so far, round three is about to start and it has been a gamblers nightmare to say the least. Hence the title for this blog “Anything that could happen will happen”. Case in point:

1)      The Montreal Canadiens eliminating Presidents’ trophy winner the Washington capitals and the defending Stanley cup champs the Pittsburgh penguins

2)      The Philadelphia flyers doing the impossible by overcoming a 3-0 series deficit becoming only the 3rd team in NHL history to do it.

3)      The San Jose sharks eliminating Detroit in 5 to advance to the conference finals

4)      Luongo and the Canucks lose in practically the same way to the Hawks as the previous year

5)      Hossa making it to the conference finals again for the 3rd straight time.

6)      All the Russian superstars would be playing at the Worlds by the end of the 2nd round

7)      Crosby getting a boarding call 10 seconds into a game 7

8)      Almost 40 years to the day Boston gets another too many men call thus losing the game

9)      Mark Recchi still going strong at age 42

10)   1st vs. 2nd seed in West,  7th vs. 8th in the East

If anyone told me that even 1 of the above mentioned events would have happened during these playoffs I would have slapped the other person. Could it be considered a coincidence that the league is running those “history will be made” commercials and actual history is being made? Depends who you ask, just don’t ask the gamblers. One thing for sure interest in this year’s playoffs is high and you can credit that to all the excitement around each game. It just seems to be that kind of year, where anything that could happen is happening. Craziness being the tendency of these playoffs let’s make some crazy predictions for the rest of the playoffs and see what I get right. My crazy prediction number:

1)      The Montreal Canadiens win the Cup but with Carey Price leading the way

2)      There will be no Montreal riot after they win the cup

3)      The flyers fail to score any goals and get swept in 4 against the Habs

4)      Hossa will once again be on the wrong side in the Stanley Cup finals

5)      Sharks find out that Nabokov isn’t really a shark but a hawk, lets in too many questionable goals

6)      There will be blood

7)      Gary won’t be booed when handing over the cup

8)      Another shark player scores in his own net, maybe Nabokov

9)      By the end of the playoffs a total of 43 too many men penalties would have been called

10)   Anyone thinking a quadruple overtime is possible?


So much to write about the post season but one word can probably sum it all up, AMAZING. Let’s begin with the Montreal Canadiens, no one really gave them a chance against the Washington Capitals and people gave them less of a chance versus Crosby and the Pens, I don’t think anyone is doubting the Habs anymore. With the series tied 2-2 after four games the Habs have the Pens wondering what to do next to beat Halak and their Mickey Mouse 3rd and 4th lines, my personal opinion is that the Pens will come out on top by the end of the series for the simple fact that Montreal can’t keep winning by getting ridiculous bounces their way and Halak can’t continue being this stellar. Of course, crazier things have happened in the NHL this year. 

On to the Vancouver Chicago series, I just love when history repeats itself. Last year the Hawks destroyed Luongo and this year is no different. With the Hawks up 2-1 Luongo, or as Don Cherry likes to call him “Lulongo”, had to be the difference maker for the Canucks to come out on top on this one and avoid going down 3-1 in the series. Instead Jonathan Toews was the difference maker by netting a hat trick and showing to the world that Vancouver hasn’t learnt anything from last year and that Luongo is worse than last year. That long term contract is really looking long for the Canucks fans right now. In my opinion, Luongo is a good goaltender who is easily thrown off his game and his style of play in nets these days screams more desperation than good positioning. Either way the nucks are done for this year; don’t see how they can come back from a 3-1 deficit. Again, crazier things have happened. 

Now to another episode of how Gary Bettman looks like a fool. The deal by Jerry Reinsdorf to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and keep them in Glendale has fallen through and now the other buyers who were shut out in an attempt to buy the team are being begged to come back and renegotiate with the city to buy the club. If I was Ice edge I would say thanks but no thanks, if a billionaire like Reinsdorf doesn’t see any potential for money what’s makes Glendale think that they can convince a “poorer” buyer that there is money to be made? Hopefully the team can move to Canada and we can finally thank Jim Balsilie for finally getting us a team back in Canada, just not on his dime. Where does the league go from here? In my opinion Garry Bettman has lost some credibility amongst the owners, he had a willing buyer ready to spend big bucks to buy the team and bring it to Hamilton, instead he chose to gamble and take a chance that there were many buyers ready to purchase the Coyotes and ultimately he lost. In an economic climate that was as toxic as it has ever been Garry should have taken the offer and everyone would have been better off, instead we will have another summer of league drama, thanks a lot Garry, can’t wait to hear your arguments when the new CBA needs to be renegotiated. I can hear it now, “the league isn’t making enough money and we need to cut payroll”. I say “BRING IT” he won’t have an educated fan base by his side. 

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The Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans were dealt what seemed to be a devastating blow with the injury to Selke Nominee Jordan Staal. As most of you are aware Jordan had a tendon in his leg sliced by the skate of newcomer P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens. As unfortunate and untimely an event that that may have been I believe it will make the Penguins team tougher to beat. I know it sounds ludicrous but just hear me out. Since Malkin, Crosby and Staal have been playing together not once have all three of them been out of the lineup at the same time. We have had Malkin injured for about 15 games this season and Crosby picked up the slack and coincidentally won the rocket Richard trophy and let’s not forget the team still did well finishing 4th. We also had Crosby miss a sizeable amount of games last year and Malkin picked up the slack having a career year in points and picking up the Art Ross trophy. So now that Staal is gone is it not possible that both Crosby and Malkin pick up the slack and continue their destruction of other opponents? I say yes, another aspect we are forgetting is that if Staal is out that means someone else must be in. What happens when you take a youngster and call him up to play in the NHL playoffs? Well you get a highly motivated individual who proves he belongs with the big guys. For example Justin Abdelkader was a beast for Detroit during last year’s playoffs and quite effective against the Pens or how about 20 year old John Carlson of the Washington capitals who was a thorn on the Montreal Canadiens scoring 4 points in 7 games and a +6 this year. Byslma has thrown around that Mark Letestu would be replacing Staal, with 61 points in 73 games in the minors Iast year, I believe he will be more than up to the challenge of replacing Staal. Another point I want to bring up, unlike last year the Penguins have a healthy defensive core to support their offense, and something tells me that if Crosby and Malkin are asked more of them they will deliver. For those reasons I believe the Penguins will be just fine and they will continue on their Quest for their 4th Stanley cup.

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Alexander Ovechkin is becoming an enigma for many. How is it possible to be arguably the most intimidating and most feared player in decades and not have the capability to deliver when it matters most? Now before people get excited and accuse me of being a Crosby lover and an Ovechkin hatter please understand that I am neither, I am simply providing a solution to the enigma that is Alexander Ovechkin. Now the answer the question as to why he can’t deliver may surprise you but it has a lot of truth to it, the answer my friends is because he is a selfish player, it is all about him, and for that reason alone he needs to hand his captaincy over to someone else, for a while anyways. I’m not saying he doesn’t want to win which would directly feed into his ego but what I am saying is that until he learns that his personal emotions and personal records come second to the team he plays for, he will not have much success in crucial games.

Let’s look back at his track record, in the past 3 years Alex’s’ team has been eliminated in the 1st round twice and has only won 1 game 7 out of 4. In arguably the most important game of his life against Team Canada at this year’s winter Olympics Ovechkin was quiet and was kept to the outside for most of the game while Team Canada steamrolled over Team Russia. In Game seven against the Pittsburgh Penguins last year again he was quiet and his team lost, and finally this year’s game 7 against the 8th seeded Montreal Canadiens he was also unsuccessful in leading his team to the promised land, see a pattern of failure here? Let’s compare him to Crosby, Crosby has won game 7’s , he has won a Stanley cup and captained the team and he lead his country to Gold at the Olympics, see a pattern of success here? How many chances does he need to prove that he is more than a regular season superstar, how many chances does he need to prove that he is better than Sidney Crosby and how many times will he be denied greatness until he finally realizes that a team does not win on the back of one player alone.

The Oilers players of the 80’s knew this and that is why they won with and without Wayne Gretzky. Perhaps Ovechkin should look at the leadership of that team and see how it was done, if he were to do that he would know that running your mouth and talking smack always comes back to bite you in the arse. He would also notice that teammates will die for a true leader; they will block shots and do whatever it takes for the benefit of the team. Instead Ovechkin chooses to do too much on his own and not use his teammates around him; he gets easily demotivated and is not able to rebound from a bad game quickly. A real leader can overcome adversity and most importantly inspire others like Messier did with the Oilers and the Rangers. If Ovechkin isn’t inspiring his teammates by example then that says a lot about the character of his teammates and his leadership abilities, if he can’t inspire them then something is wrong.

As much as it would tear his heart apart, why doesn’t he just analyse how Sidney Crosby does it. Sidney isn’t the flashiest player but he is definitely one of the hardest working in the league and by looking at Crosby, hard work has paid off for him. Fortunately for Ovechkin he is still young and giving up his captaincy will allow someone else to take the weight off his shoulders and who knows this new leader may inspire Ovechkin which could lead him to doing what he does best and that is to score goals but also on the biggest stages. For some people leadership is innate and for others it needs to be learned, Ovechkin is of the latter of the two. Taking a page out of Patrick Marleaus book wouldn’t hurt, after all he’s tried just about anything.

The Chicago Blackhawks have defeated the Nashville Predators in 6 games and will now move on to round two of the NHL playoffs to face-off against the Vancouver Canucks. This will be the second time in two years that both teams meet during the postseason, and the Hawks will be looking forward to a similar result. How can we forget Luongo’s poor performance last year during the Canucks’ last game of the year, when Patrick Kane scored a hat trick.

As a first round underdog, Nashville’s play against one of the regular season’s powerhouse teams, was noticed around the league. The Predators’ work ethic and heart is what they have relied on all year, and it was good enough to land them in the playoffs.While Pekka Rinne had a slight advantage over Antti Niemi in nets, the Blackhawk team defense all but eliminated any advantage the Predators had.

The real turning point in the series, was the Blackhawks ability to roll out 4 lines of offense and 3 lines of defense without hesitation. This characteristic sets Chicago apart from arguably all other NHL teams. Third and fourth line players for them such as: Byfuglien, Bolland, Kopecky and Versteeg would easily crack teams’ top six forwards in 75% of the NHL’s other squads.

When a team’s bottom six has those elements, with the added flare of Toews, Kane, Hossa and Sharp playing in the top two lines, it is easy for the opposing D to feel a bit overwhelmed. While Weber, Suter and Hamhuis tried to cage the beast, the Predators were just too thin when it came down to depth. Bouillon showed signs of aging and Klein is coming of his first full season in the NHL.

All directions pointed to the Hawks winning this series and they did so in good fashion. When and where will their postseason drive end? For Quenneville and his men, hopefully not in Vancouver.



 Tonight ladies and gentlemen on the 26th of April 2010, we saw history; we saw a player rise above the rest and prove that one person can in fact carry a team to heights thought unreachable by others. Tonight history lent its pen to Jaroslav Halak and he decided to script the perfect game for himself. His script began with the ambitious goal of making at least 50 saves, of stopping the opposing teams top players from registering a point, of at least making sure that his team, the Montreal Canadiens, would live to see another day, most importantly he wrote that no one will ever question who the top goalie is in Montreal, for that matter in the world.  Jaroslav Halak welcome to the realm of Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy. The future is waiting for you to script it.

4 ways to improve the NHL 2010 playoffs

Every year in April NHL fans are rewarded with NHL playoff hockey, the past few years have been really exciting and we as fans expect it to continue. The playoffs so far have been a lot of fun, the first round is almost over and there are already upsets and Crosby is leading the league in scoring. That being said the 2010 NHL playoffs could be better and here is how:

1)      Enough with the 5 minutes to decide whether a goal is a goal, this kills the atmosphere in the arenas, ruins any momentum and unnecessarily creates debates about whether a call was right or wrong. Take for instance game 2 of the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens, the Canadiens had been awarded a goal after it was being reviewed for 5 minutes by Toronto next thing you know it the Capitals score after benefiting from a long break which eventually leads to a comeback. The Canadiens were up 4-1 at that point, the comeback was the turning point of the series as Montreal would have taken a 2-0 series lead. Enough already!!!

2)      Please, please, please make sure that the officials are watching the game they are officiating. In the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Ottawa Senators series Matte Cooke threw a puck into the stands which is an automatic penalty yet when the refs “met” on the ice to discuss how they would call the play they ruled that it had deflected into the stands. REALLY? CBC played the replay and you have 2 officials watching the play from the best possible angle and it clearly showed the puck touched nothing at all on its way out; Cooke was all alone with the puck. All we ask is that the refs get the calls right, no more meetings to discuss what happened and how to proceed, follow the rules and you won’t make any mistakes it’s as simple as that.

3)      Allow and encourage coaches and players to really say what’s on their minds without fear of being fined. This is the most competitive time of the season and during interviews all you hear players saying are the same lines over and over again in a monotone way, surely the playoffs can’t be that boring. For example, a reporter will ask “how did you feel being down 2-1 in the game” and the player will respond “we knew the other team was desperate for a win and we have to give to them the guys came at as hard but we managed to find a way to win, we have a lot of character guys in our room and today they stepped up” BORRRIIINGGG!!! How about, “F**k our goalie sucked on the first 2 shots and I don’t know what our left winger was doing or what he was on but I told my coach put me on the ice I’m feeling good today and then before we knew it we were up, I pride myself on being able to score and tonight was no different” it sounds so much more exciting and it helps develop characters and a following amongst a fan base. Trash talking is great, think about all the basketball and football stories the best ones are the ones were people are allowed to be honest. The benefits are endless.

4)      This one is very, very, very, very simple; please prevent Gary Bettman from talking, ever!! Seeing as how that is almost impossible how about not allowing him to hand over the Stanley Cup to the winner. Nothing is worse than hearing Bettman say “I want to thank Mike Illitch and his family for their support of the Detroit Red Wings and blah blah blah blah……come get the Stanley cup”. What needs to be done instead is have an NHL legend present the cup like Mark Messier or Wayne Gretzky or Bobby Orr, the players would love it and the fans would love it. Plus the NHL won’t have to edit all the boo’s out when Bettman speaks like they did last year. ( true story)

There you have it 4 simple ways to improve the NHL in the playoffs, after all it is “OUR”game!!


              The Olympics is a time where elite athletes from around the world participate for their chance at proclaiming themselves the best at their sport. Hockey is an Olympic sport and the NHL elite athletes have the same right as other elite athletes to participate in future games. The Vancouver Olympics were by far the best and the men’s hockey final trumped any match the NHL has had in the past decade (by the way that’s over 10,000 games). The only sour part to the great hockey games was that as a fan we were constantly being reminded what kind of a classless act you can be Mr. Gary Bettman. Here we have the best hockey players on the planet playing their hearts out and yet you chose to say numerous times to various media outlets “we have made no commitment to Sochi”. As a fan and as a religious follower of the sport I can tell you that every time I heard you say something ridiculous like that I lost a little more faith in the leadership of our sport. What makes things even harder for me as a fan to swallow is that you think we don’t get it, you think that we don’t get the economics of the sport or the difficulties in running a league like the NHL, but guess what we do and guess what we also watch other sports and pay attention to how their leaders conduct themselves and Gary you rank near the bottom of the pile, closer to Bernie Ecclestone.  All that being said I would like to point out some weaknesses in your logic behind NHL participation at the 2014 Sochi games.

1)      Time Zone difference;             I don’t buy this one bit, the last winter Olympics were in Torino Italy which is many time zones ahead of us, why are you trying to proclaim that it’s a logistical nightmare when it is in Russia? If it has been done once it can be done again.

 2)      Travel Schedule;            Really????? Are you forgetting that for the 2010-2011 season you have committed 6 NHL teams to start next season in Europe just like you have the past 3 years. You purposely have six teams start the NHL season at a disadvantage and then have the guts to say travel is an issue!!  If you could seriously please explain this one it would help a lot.

 3)      Compressed Schedule;      This is also one of your weaker arguments, if the schedule and the health of the players is such a concern for you why not say….   A) Shorten the meaningless and cash grab of the preseason (nobody really cares anyways)   B) first round of the playoffs is a best of 5   C) make it an 80 game season.  D) Ask the players if they mind a compressed schedule. Be creative for once instead of argumentative

 4)      There isn’t much incentive for us to go to Russia;      Really??? Yet there is incentive for you to  A) Cancel an entire NHL season, B) start games in European arenas of 12,000 fans   

        Now, with all that being said I would like to inform you of what I as a fan think of all your posturing. I believe that you are not committing to the Olympics because you need this as a bargaining chip for yet another round of CBA negotiations. I also believe that after your many years at the helm it is time for someone else to take charge. I also believe that having NHL players in the Olympics grows our sport just like it creates awareness for other sports. Another Canada-USA hockey match can’t be that bad for ratings even if it is in Sochi. The Crosby Ovechkin epic battle can continue to write new chapters in their never ending battle for dominance.

        If I could also add, instead of always trying to be confrontational why not do what the players and fans really want and what we want is NHL participation in the 2014 games. If you choose to ignore our wishes then you risk categorizing yourself as another Bernie Ecclestone, you will lose public favor and eventually you won’t be able to get any meaningful work done. What also irks me is that you preach partnership with the players yet the only partnership is with you and the owners, you preach “benefit of the game” yet you are a “detriment to the game”. Take a page from CFL commissioner Mark Cohon and ask the fans what they want, the CFL is growing and fan interest is growing even though it is only an 8 team league. I write to you because I care about our sport and right now I don’t feel confident in its future.

Signed, a very,very, very, very, passionate fan