Posts Tagged ‘New York Rangers’

Can We Start Talking About Hockey Again?

September 28th, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a rant.

In the latest of what seems like the most trivial NHL pre-season ever, news surfaced Monday night that Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds called New York Rangers pest Sean Avery a derogatory name following an on ice scuffle. Yes folks, one young man called a slightly older young man a bad word. I’m still gathering myself.

In case you didn’t click the link above, Simmonds allegedly called Avery a “Faggot.”

I’m not one to make assumptions, but I’m pretty sure it’s the first time something like this has ever happened.

» Read more: Can We Start Talking About Hockey Again?

A fans guide to preseason hockey

September 21st, 2010

It’s no secret that you and I, and every other hockey fan is eager to get the regular season underway. In fact, I’m so excited for hockey that I was actually reading about the Minnesota Wild earlier!

Unfortunately, there’s a catch: hockey hasn’t started yet. We still have a few weeks before opening night. We’re in preseason mode right now and NHL preseason is crap. It’s slower hockey and harder to pronounce names. Basically, it’s NHL-lite. But, because I know a lot of hockey fans really enjoy the preseason, I thought it would be nice to explain some of things you might see over the next few weeks in a small, bullet point guide:

  • It’s well understood some referees blow calls when they work with the AHL and minor league players. They just don’t care when it’s not authentic NHL. That’s why the league has gone to great lengths to ensure Stephane Auger won’t be calling any of Alex Burrows games this year.
  • In Edmonton, fans are lining up for hours to meet new stars Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. As an alternative way to get Hall and Eberle’s autographs, try asking Sheldon Souray to get them for you. It’s not like he’s busy playing hockey and it will be good for his ego too… this might be the closest he comes to the NHL this season.
  • There’s a slight potential the NHL’s preseason might become a testing ground for wacky new ideas, following the summer’s Research, Development and Orientation camp. Some “out there” ideas might include actually calling penalties.
  • It’s customary for veterans to leave steep dinner bills with newbies throughout preseason/regular season. You can probably imagine why Matt Carkner, then 28, looked awkward last season after having to take Nick Foligno, then 21, to dinner all year…
  • Over the next week or two, you’ll notice a lot of NHL players signing last minute contracts – some with new teams and some with their teams from last season. Whatever you do, please make sure your favourite player has a signed contract before switching allegiances, buying new jerseys or uprooting your family.
  • It’s taking awhile for Boston fans to learn who the new Bruins players are, how to pronounce their names and imaging what they will look like in yellow jerseys this year. The long list of players includes the likes of Tyler Seguin, Nathan Horton and some rarely seen guy named Milan Lucic.
  • Don’t be alarmed if you notice Rangers fans as the only fans around the NHL who aren’t excited about the upcoming year. Although the beginning of the season represents a fresh start for every NHL club, Rangers fans already know their team will be terrible since Glen Sather was in charge during the offseason.
  • You might notice players fighting each other during inter-squad scrimmages and practices, but it’s no reason for concern. Most of the time it’s two players playing “tough hockey” or in Mike Komisarek’s case, it’s a harmless attempt at hitting on the new team nurse.
  • Sometimes players get hurt or come down with strange injuries in the preseason. Some fans will try to encourage their favourite players to stay healthy with home-made signs that say things like “Get well soon Drury – Please stoping hanging out with DiPietro.”
  • In Toronto, Maple Leaf commentators are trying out several new sayings in TV and radio telecasts. The one that’s sticking the most is ” He Phaneufed it.” It’s basically a clever way of saying a player’s shot missed the net by only seven feet.
Stay classy, NHL preseason.

Other people and organizations DownGoesBrown can write for

July 28th, 2010

Hockey news in late July is pretty slim (read: Not Wellwood). And then yesterday a number of hockey stories broke all at once. The signings of Alexei Ponikarovsky and Alex Frolov (Kovalchuk-Lite versions 1 and 2), Max Talbot referring to Alex Ovechkin as a hygienic instrument and of course the big story, DownGoesBrown now writing for the National Post!

(Check out his debut article here).

As many in the online hockey community noted yesterday, this is crazy-awesome news. Kudos to the National Post for doing something different and bringing something fresh to their audience. Following this news, I had many contacts reach out and inform me that DGB’s writing skills could be hugely valuable within NHL circles. My mind began racing and I started calling my insiders to learn as much as I could.

So in light of his new writing gig, here’s a few other people and organizations DGB can write for:

  • New Jersey Devils: Apparently Lou Lamoriello and the rest of the New Jersey Devils are having some trouble writing a simple 17-year contract for a player I’m not overly familiar with. I’m pretty sure DGB could take a look through the existing contract and jam in a few subtle points to make it stick with the league.
  • Kyle Wellwood: We are a full month into free agency and Kyle Wellwood has been offered as many NHL contracts as he’s ordered salads this summer. Maybe DGB can work with Wellwood’s agent to write a pamphlet outlining some of Kyle’s core skills. Skills like “Ability to weave in-and-out of impatient McDonald’s lines on free Big Mac day” and “Literally wrestling every last piece of fried chicken out of the KFC stand just outside of Sunday’s Nascar event.”
  • Junior Hockey Stars: It would be nice of DGB to help prepare top junior stars for the NHL by giving solid advice and handing out reality checks to those who need it. For example, DGB could address how being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs isn’t the end of your career. It just means your NHL career won’t truly begin until you are traded in lopsided exchange that further empties Toronto’s depth chart.
  • NHL11: Later this summer EA Sports will release NHL11 to gamers and hockey fans across the world. If EA Sports are smart, they’ll enlist DGB to write a eulogy script for the game’s announcers each time users try to trade for Phil Kessel.
  • Alexei Ponikarovsky: It took nearly a month for free agent Alexei Ponikarovsky to get a contract offer. Given Ponikarovsky’s disappointing results during a brief stint with Pittsburgh last year, the Los Angeles Kings might want to have DGB add a quick blurb in Poni’s contract about the NHL season mattering after February. On second thought, with DGB being a loyal Leafs fan, maybe he’s not the right guy for this assignment after all…
  • Edmonton Oilers Prospects: Everyone knows about the Edmonton Oilers history of winning, great fans and star players with no trade clauses. For young Edmonton prospects, they have no choice – their rights belong to the Oilers. DGB could help educate these inexperienced players that traditionally, you can demand a trade out of Edmonton once you feel like you’ve carried the team for a few years or weeks. DGB will be sure to note that you are obligated to cry like a baby at a press conference when this happens.
  • New York Rangers: Glen Sather confuses the hell out of everyone. It’s clear he could use a translator of sorts – someone who can eloquently explain his logic for trades and signings. Basically, Sather and the Rangers need DGB to explain how prized UFA signing Derek Boogaard is worth roughly 1/25th of Ilya Kovalchuk.
  • Ottawa Senators Goaltending Coach: Recently the Ottawa Senators hired Rick Wamsley as their new goaltending coach. It would be wise of the Senators to have DGB explain to fans that Wamsley probably won’t take part in Bryan Murray’s annual “Blame someone else February firings”… this season.

Stay classy, DownGoesBrown. The National Post just got a lot better!

NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 20

February 15th, 2010

Welcome to the final Classy Power Rankings prior to the Olympics! This week, the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators move up, while the Tampa Bay Lightning and Minnesota Wild take a slide downwards.

Scroll down to see how your favourite teams measure up at the break. Please note this will be the last Power Rankings for a few weeks – the Classy Power Rankings will return on Monday March 8th, once the NHL season resumes.

NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 20

30.  Edmonton Oilers (last week: 30)
29.  Toronto Maple Leafs (last week: 28)
28.  New York Islanders (last week: 27)
27.  Carolina Hurricanes (last week: 29)
26.  Florida Panthers (last week: 26)

The Carolina Hurricanes have been playing their best hockey of the season recently, going 8-2 in their last 10 games. All this while the Toronto Maple Leafs lost both of their games this week. In other news, the Florida Panthers management recently sent out a letter to all season ticket holders explaining large changes will be made to their roster soon. Hmmmm…

25.  Columbus Blue Jackets (last week: 25)
24.  Atlanta Thrashers (last week: 23)
23.  Tampa Bay Lightning (last week: 17)
22.  New York Rangers (last week: 22)
21.  Montreal Canadiens (last week: 18)

The Tampa Bay Lightning keep bouncing in and out of playoff contention with inconsistent play. The New York Rangers have won two straight games and are just outside of the 8th spot in the East. The Montreal Canadiens, who are holding down the 8th position in the Conference, traded a second round draft pick for Dominic Moore (of the Panthers)… why do teams keep trading second round draft picks for Moore?

20.  Minnesota Wild (last week: 16)
19.  St. Louis Blues (last week: 21)
18.  Boston Bruins (last week: 24)
17.  Anaheim Ducks (last week: 19)
16.  Detroit Red Wings (last week: 14)

The Boston Bruins seem to have found their stride, having won their last four games, while the Anaheim Ducks continue to move closer to the playoffs. Ryan Getzlaf appears to be OK after having a sprained ankle scare earlier this week. At this point in the Western Conference, I’m starting to believe the Ducks are the only team outside of the playoffs who can make the post-season.

15.  Philadelphia Flyers (last week: 20)
14.  Dallas Stars (last week: 15)
13.  Calgary Flames (last week: 12)
12.  Nashville Predators (last week: 13)
11.  Buffalo Sabres (last week: 11)

This is where it gets tight. The Philadelphia Flyers have done a nice job moving up, thanks to four straight wins.  The Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames all remain in the top 15 going into the Olympic break.

10.  Pittsburgh Penguins (last week: 9)
9.  Ottawa Senators (last week: 10)
8.  Colorado Avalanche (last week: 8)
7.  Vancouver Canucks (last week: 7)
6.  New Jersey Devils (last week: 6)

The Ottawa Senators move up one spot this week thanks to big wins over the Capitals and Islanders. The New Jersey Devils, Colorado Avalanche and New Jersey Devils stay pat in their respective positions.

5.  Phoenix Coyotes (last week: 5)
4.  Los Angeles Kings (last week: 3)
3.  Chicago Blackhawks (last week: 4)
2.  San Jose Sharks (last week: 2)
1.  Washington Capitals (last week: 1)

The Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks swap positions this week, while the San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals hold down the top two positions in the Classy Power Rankings. The Blackhawks, Sharks and Capitals are starting to pull away from the pack in the NHL points race. They are the class of the league.

Stay classy, NHL Power Rankings.

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Rumour commentary

February 10th, 2010

With twice the number of deadlines as usual, trades and trade rumours have come early this year. In fact, we’ve already seen a few trades involving some pretty big names (Kovalchuk, Phaneuf, Giguere, Jokinen) with more expected over the next few days/weeks. Here’s a few thoughts from the trades we’ve seen so far, potential fallout and well documented rumours.

  • With the Dallas Stars acquiring Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen last night, one has to wonder what the future holds for Marty Turco. There are all sorts of rumours out there, but I’m assuming bringing in Lehtonen means they are done with Turco this season. Regardless of that, goaltending is a huge question mark for the Stars moving forward. Turco, Lehtonen and Alex Auld all are free agents at the end of the season (Turco and Auld are UFAs while Lehtonen is an RFA).
  • When the New Jersey Devils traded for superstar Ilya Kovalchuk, they traded a pretty handy defenseman in Johnny Oduya. Frankly, if the Devils are serious about going for the Cup this year, they’ll need a better defense than what they currently have. And something tells me they are serious about winning this year. It’ll be interesting to see if they move on any defensemen in the rumour mill (salary cap numbers aside, players like John Michael Liles and James Wisniewski come to mind).
  • New Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier says otherwise, but it will be interesting to see if Jaroslav Halak or Carey Price is traded before the deadline. The bigger question I have for Montreal is whether Gauthier has his own plans or intends to carry out Bob Gainey’s vision. Time will tell, I guess.
  • Per Andy Strickland (as of last week), the Carolina Hurricanes were asking for a 1st round draft pick (for this summer’s draft) as well as a good prospect in return for Ray Whitney. I wonder if A- they’ll end up getting what they’re asking for and B- which team is actually willing to give up that much for a 37 year old forward. It’s also been reported players like Matt Cullen and Tuomo Ruutu are of interest to a few teams. Could they be available?
  • What are the chances the Edmonton Oilers actually move Sheldon Souray and Ethan Moreau? To be blunt, they’ll be lucky to get anything back for these two players. Getting one or both contracts off their payroll would be a coup for the Oilers, regardless of what they get back (assuming they can dump salary and not trade one bad contract for another). To me, the only Oiler player who’s known to be available that could fetch any return is young forward Andrew Cogliano. There is a market for him (it’s believed the Senators, Rangers and others have shown interest in the past).
  • The New York Rangers were busy last week trading Alex Kotalik and Chris Higgins and replacing them with Brandon Prust and Olli Jokinen. One has to wonder if they are done making moves for the season. I look at Brandon Dubinsky as a player who will be traded between now and this time next season. Dubinsky has a two year contract (this season and next) with a cap hit of $1.85 Million, however, the deal was awarded to him in arbitration. It’s clear he expected a lot more from the Rangers and didn’t like the idea of going to arbitration. I’d imagine his relationship with Glen Sather isn’t great (just my speculation).
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs have a number of players who could be traded prior to March 3rd. Players like Lee Stempniak, Alex Ponikarovsky (who I still believe will end up in Pittsburgh), Garnett Exelby (not sure if there’s a viable market for a slow defenseman who’s cap hit is $1.3 Million) and potentially Tomas Kaberle. According to Brian Burke, Kaberle won’t be traded, but I’m still listing him as a possibility.
  • There are loads of rumours circulating the Washington Capitals and their desire to add a quality defenseman. No idea how accurate the rumours are, but with a number of good defenseman available, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Capitals add another defender. The Capitals have nearly $4 Million (in cap space) to work with, according to NHLNumbers.com.
  • Despite the tailspin the Boston Bruins are currently in (hopefully for their sake getting out of), will they make any shake ups to their roster? I’ve heard the Tim Thomas rumours and I don’t believe them at all. Regardless, scoring is an issue for this club. Maybe they miss Phil Kessel more than they thought they would? Maybe they could trade back their lottery pick to the Leafs for Kessel? Obviously that was a joke.
  • Will any other playoff bubble teams like Detroit, Dallas, Anaheim, St. Louis, Boston, New York Rangers and Atlanta make any moves before the deadline? I’m assuming they’ll be buyers in hopes of adding the final piece to secure a spot in the playoffs. That probably means there will be 3-5 sellers including the Leafs, Blue Jackets, Hurricanes, Oilers and maybe one other team that will soon bow out of the playoff mix.

So, what do you think will happen between now and March 3rd? I wonder what kind of implications will follow from the Olympics? I’m betting a few important players will return from the games with significant injuries. Anyways, what’s your take? Discuss!

Stay classy, NHL trades and trade rumours.

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NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 19

February 8th, 2010

In a week that saw the Ottawa Senators and Phoenix Coyotes win streaks snapped, the Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals continued theirs with come from behind victories over the weekend! This past week also saw a few trades made between the Flyers/Red Wings, Rangers/Flames and Hurricanes/Sharks. Read below to find out who was dealt.

This week, the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers suffer drops while the Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings all move up in the Classy Rankings.

NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 19

30.  Edmonton Oilers (last week: 30)
29.  Carolina Hurricanes (last week: 28)
28.  Toronto Maple Leafs (last week: 29)
27.  New York Islanders (last week: 26)
26.  Florida Panthers (last week: 17)

It was a busy week for this group of teams last week. The Toronto Maple Leafs ushered in a few new faces (with immediate impact) and the Carolina Hurricanes traded Nicolas Wallin to the San Jose Sharks. The Edmonton Oilers won two games and Sheldon Souray has reportedly given the team a list of trade destinations he’d lift his no trade clause for. There are some other reports that indicate the Oilers could be close to dealing captain Ethan Moreau.

25.  Columbus Blue Jackets (last week: 27)
24.  Boston Bruins (last week: 25)
23.  Atlanta Thrashers (last week: 21)
22.  New York Rangers (last week: 24)
21.  St. Louis Blues (last week: 20)

Obviously, the Boston Bruins are the standout club in this group of under achieving teams. It’s looking more and more possible that Boston will have two top 10 draft picks this summer at the NHL Entry Draft. The Columbus Blue Jackets finally fired coach Ken Hitchcock – a decision that seemed like it had been coming since week two of the season. Oh, and Glen Sather traded for Olli Jokinen… another sound move by the GM Mark Messier will eventually replace.

20.  Philadelphia Flyers (last week: 18)
19.  Anaheim Ducks (last week: 19)
18.  Montreal Canadiens (last week: 22)
17.  Tampa Bay Lightning (last week: 23)
16.  Minnesota Wild (last week: 16)

The Philadelphia Flyers added more forward depth trading for Red Wings forward Ville Leino (yeah – that’s exactly what they needed, more forwards!). One has to wonder if they have any trades up their sleeves prior to the March 3rd NHL trade deadline. The Tampa Bay Lightning jump up this week with three straight wins and a terrific home record. Don’t look now, but Rich Tocchet has the Lightning sitting 7th in the Eastern Conference. In other Lightning news, they appear to have a new owner who’s almost guaranteed to “not suck as much” as the previous ownership group, OK Hockey.

15.  Dallas Stars (last week: 15)
14.  Detroit Red Wings (last week: 13)
13.  Nashville Predators (last week: 12)
12.  Calgary Flames (last week: 14)
11.  Buffalo Sabres (last week: 5)

The Calgary Flames have started to turn things around a bit, following a big time roster shake up. As of writing this, they find themselves back in the playoffs. The Buffalo Sabres suffer a big drop this week after losing their last four games. Also, the Detroit Red Wings traded Ville Leino to Philadelphia on Saturday as a way to clear cap space for Johan Franzen.

10.  Ottawa Senators (last week: 10)
The Ottawa Senators won two of three games last week, keeping them in the Weekly top 10. The Sens managed to set a franchise best 11 game winning streak… and then blew it to the Leafs on Saturday night. When you consider all the strong rosters the Senators have had over the last decade, did you ever think this year’s club was the one who could win 11 straight games? Ottawa’s previous best was eight straight wins. And a day after the disastrous 5-0 loss to the Leafs, Jonathan Cheechoo won the shooting accuracy event at the Sens skills competition on Sunday hitting four targets in four shots. By the way, Cheechoo has five goals all year… with only 111 shots taken. OK, I’ll stop.

9.  Pittsburgh Penguins (last week: 9)
It was a rough weekend for the Pittsburgh Penguins after laying an egg in Montreal on Saturday afternoon, enduring a very rough journey to Washington for a second straight afternoon game and blowing a two goal lead to the Capitals. It’s not all bad news though. Defenseman Alex Goligoski is getting better and better for the Penguins while Sidney Crosby is only three goals shy of the NHL scoring lead.

8.  Colorado Avalanche (last week: 11)
The Colorado Avalanche seem to have a pretty steady supply of rookies who can step in on a whim and do some damage. The Avs continue to play great hockey and Matt Duchene is now the leading goals and points scorer among all NHL rookies. Fun fact: Duchene has scored more times than any Boston Bruin player. In other Avalanche news, apparently Marek Svatos is available with the Leafs and Senators having inquired about him recently.

7.  Vancouver Canucks (last week: 4)
So far, the Vancouver Canucks are 2-2 on their massive road trip. Given how long this road trip is (basically two full weeks prior to the Olympics and one week after the Olympics), if the Canucks can come out of it with a .500 record or better, it should be considered a success. So far, so good. Although it should be noted the Eastern Conference teams are significantly weaker than some of the Western Conference teams they’ll play the week following the Olympics (Hawks, Predators, Red Wings, Avalanche, and Coyotes to name a few).

6.  New Jersey Devils (last week: 8)
Although the New Jersey Devils only won one of three games this week, they acquired one of the top hockey players in the world, Ilya Kovalchuk (albeit for a maximum of five months, for now). As a result, that moves them up the rankings this week. Clearly Devils President Lou Lamoriello believes his club can win the Stanley Cup this year, although the jury is still undecided about Kovalchuk as a playoff performer (Kovalchuk has played just four playoff games in his career).

5.  Phoenix Coyotes (last week: 6)
The Phoenix Coyotes had their six game winning streak snapped on Saturday in a 4-0 loss to the Stars… the running joke being the Coyotes didn’t want to “make it Seven”. And in case you still aren’t sold on the idea of pro hockey in Phoenix, Fox Sports Arizona is reporting TV ratings are up 50 percent this year versus last. I’m sold… a 50 percent increase of a very low number is still, wait… nevermind.

4.  Chicago Blackhawks (last week: 3)
From all reports, it sounds like Antti Niemi has officially grabbed the number one goalie spot on the Chicago Blackhawks. In fact, he currently owns the top goals against average in the league. Although having said that, I’m not sure the Hawks allow the Niemi/Huet goalie tandem to go unchanged heading into the playoffs. Remember, it’s Cup or bust for this team this year.

3.  Los Angeles Kings (last week: 7)
The Los Angeles Kings have strung 10 nine straight wins together and are sitting comfortably in 4th place in the Western Conference. Why some Kings fans may be disappointed the team didn’t trade for Ilya Kovalchuk this week, I believe it was the right decision not to. This Kings team doesn’t need to panic or change anything they are doing at the moment. Fun fact: Drew Doughty is second on the team in scoring with 42 points in 58 games. Unreal.

2.  San Jose Sharks (last week: 2)
Only in the “parity filled” NHL can a team go 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and fly under the radar. Especially with the Capitals and Kings going on huge winning streaks. The San Jose Sharks lost only four times in January! The Niclas Wallin trade is now complete, following a few days worth of speculation. Wallin’s contract was not extended beyond this season (it was speculated this was the reason the deal had been held up for a few days).

1.  Washington Capitals (last week: 1)
As if their 14 game winning streak wasn’t enough, I’m still blown away by what had to the game of the year yesterday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Alex Ovechkin showed why he is the most exciting player in the world and the Capitals reminded the NHL to never count them out of a hockey game. Do you think the Capitals can make it to the Olympic break without losing? They have three more games remaining against the Canadiens, Senators, and Blues. Should they win each of these games, they’ll tie an NHL record for 17 straight wins with… the 92/93 Pittsburgh Penguins.

Stay classy, NHL Power Rankings.

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Behind the scenes details about the recent NHL trades

February 2nd, 2010

The hockey world has been buzzing with all the recent trade activity involving the Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, and other teams since last weekend. The buzz is expected to continue in preparation for the Olympic trade freeze and the actual NHL trade deadline in March.

We all know a number of trades will happen between now and the March 3rd deadline. What we don’t know are some of the behind the scenes things that happen when a trade is made. Here’s a few behind the scenes details you may not know about the trades that occurred over the last few days.

  • It is common practice for nearly every NHL club to inform all media outlets of a trade 24-48 hours before their next game. It’s expected that the traded players announced play one final game with their existing club and try not to get injured. Doing this builds added suspense/buzz/positive PR that the NHL loves. Of course, the Calgary Flames and New York Rangers are two of the few teams who don’t do this.
  • Most NHL organizations and their PR teams give players a checklist of things to do after being traded. The list includes:
    • Trade cliché quotes like “If Wayne Gretzky can be traded, anyone can” and “I’m just going to keep things simple and play my game”.
    • Details of the transaction and a reminder that the trade is non-reversible. That is, unless you’ve been dealt to Edmonton. In which case, the player can reject the deal at any time – even if press conferences have been set up.
    • Interview talking points if traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s suggested required that you say “I’m looking forward to being a Maple Leaf” a minimum of of 31 one times per interview.
  • Upon learning about the trade involving Matt Stajan, Ian White, Jamal Mayers, and Nick Hagman, Jason Blake quickly said to each of them “glad you were traded and not me”. I think there’s a lesson to be learned about speaking too quickly or something there…
  • The Phoenix Coyotes have actually been trying to trade “the rights to be bought and moved by Jim Ballsillie” to Atlanta for some time now. No idea if the Thrashers are biting on this.

Stay classy, NHL trades.

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NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 18

February 1st, 2010

Here we go, week 18 of the NHL Classy Power Rankings! This week, there’s a new number one team with huge jumps from the red hot Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks, and the high flying Los Angeles Kings.

The result of the Senators, Canucks, and Kings pushing into the top 10 means a few slides for the Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators. The New York Islanders are among the week’s biggest drops with a current 5-game losing streak.

NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 18

30.  Edmonton Oilers (last week: 30)
29.  Toronto Maple Leafs (last week: 29)
28.  Carolina Hurricanes (last week: 28)
27.  Columbus Blue Jackets (last week: 27)
26.  New York Islanders (last week: 20)

Virtually the same bottom 5 as last week, with the addition of the New York Islanders, who slide 6 spots after dropping 5 straight games. Of these bottom teams, there’s a few things to note since last week. First of all, Sheldon Souray fractured his hand on Saturday night. The Oilers obviously won’t be able to trade Souray at the deadline. And of course, the big news from Sunday morning – The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired J.S. Giguere and Dion Phaneuf by swapping out 6 players.

25.  Boston Bruins (last week: 22)
24.  New York Rangers (last week: 19)
23.  Tampa Bay Lightning (last week: 25)
22.  Montreal Canadiens (last week: 17)
21.  Atlanta Thrashers (last week: 26)

Cue the Vincent Lecavalier rumours… it appears the Lightning are in the process of being sold to a new owner and whispers suggest the new owner may (I stress may) want to cut payroll. Instantly, Lecavalier to Montreal/Los Angeles stories are popping up. I highly doubt this. Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins continue to slump with bad goaltending and little scoring. They are 1-7-2 in their last 10 games. For the Rangers, they may (again, I stress may for multiple reasons) get a boost in scoring as a trade with the Calgary Flames has been reported but not yet completed (or may not happen at all).

20.  St. Louis Blues (last week: 24)
19.  Anaheim Ducks (last week: 15)
18.  Philadelphia Flyers (last week: 16)
17.  Florida Panthers (last week: 23)
16.  Minnesota Wild (last week: 21)

The Anaheim Ducks signed Jonas Hiller to a 4-year extension on Saturday and the Florida Panthers got a big boost to their lineup as David Booth returned in Sunday’s win against the Islanders (Booth recorded an assist in his return). The Minnesota Wild have reportedly terminated their 1-year contract with Peter Sykora after he didn’t report to the AHL.

15.  Dallas Stars (last week: 18)
14.  Calgary Flames (last week: 14)
13.  Detroit Red Wings (last week: 13)
12.  Nashville Predators (last week: 10)
11.  Colorado Avalanche (last week: 5)

The Colorado Avalanche and Nashville Predators slip out of the top 10 because of sub-par weeks and big winning streaks by other teams. It will be interesting to see how the Calgary Flames look with 4 new players in their line up. For the record, the Leafs/Flames don’t hook up again until next year… unless they meet in the Stanley Cup Fina… wait. Nevermind. I’ll stop there. They’ll next meet in the 2010-2011 season.

10.  Ottawa Senators (last week: 12)
The red hot Ottawa Senators have won 9 games in a row against some impressive teams. They’ve really set themselves apart from the 6th-13th seeded teams in the Eastern Conference and are 3 points back of Pittsburgh for 4th in the Conference. It’s not all great news for the Senators – Nick Foligno is out for 6-8 weeks with a broken leg after blocking a shot on Saturday.

9.  Pittsburgh Penguins (last week: 8)
It’s hard to knock the Pittsburgh Penguins. For the most part, they play like an experienced playoff team with a pretty deep roster. I’m interested to see what they do between now and the March 3rd trade deadline (some rumours suggest they are looking at Toronto’s Alexei Ponikarovsky).

8.  New Jersey Devils (last week: 4)
The New Jersey Devils have hit a bit of a rough patch lately – they are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and Martin Brodeur has been showing some signs of shakey goaltending we saw during the conclusion of the Hurricanes/Devils playoff series from last year.

7.  Los Angeles Kings (last week: 11)
The Los Angeles Kings just wrapped up a road trip that saw them go 5-0. They’ve won 6 games in a row and are really starting to gel as a team. Rumours continue to name the Kings as one of the frontrunners for Ilya Kovalchuk, but as of now (Yeah – I sort of buy some of it), there doesn’t seem to be much to the stories.

6.  Phoenix Coyotes (last week: 9)
The Phoenix Coyotes had a nice week topped off by a win in Dallas on Sunday night. It was Dave Tippett’s first time in Dallas  since being fired by the Stars last year. The Coyotes have won 5 of their last 6 games and are starting to get contributions from a few of their young kids.

5.  Buffalo Sabres (last week: 6)
After going winless on their 4 game Western road trip, the Buffalo Sabres turned in 2 straight home victories against Eastern Conference teams. Good timing for the Sabres who now hold significantly reduce 5 point lead on the Northeast Division.

4.  Vancouver Canucks (last week: 7)
The Vancouver Canucks are one of the hottest 3 teams in the league! They’ve just set out on a NHL record 14 game road trip (making way for the Olympics) and are firing on all cylinders. The only question I have for the Canucks right now (beyond what, if any moves they may or may not make at the deadline) is if they are peaking too early in the season.

3.  Chicago Blackhawks (last week: 3)
With Dave Bolland scheduled to return to the line up this week (per Harken), the Chicago Blackhawks will be as close to 100% health as ever. It’s arguably the deepest roster in the NHL, so it will be interesting to see how the players and coach Joe Quennville handles it. Of course there is trade speculation, but we’ll have to see. The Hawks are 6-4 in their last 10 and currently hold a 15 point lead on the Central Division. The team is only 3 points back of the NHL lead in points.

2.  San Jose Sharks (last week: 1)
It’s pretty amazing a team (Capitals) can win 10 games in a row and still not lead the NHL in points. The reason for that is the 8-0-2 record of the San Jose Sharks over their last 10 games. The Sharks have quietly been winning nearly every game they play. In fact, they’ve only lost 10 games all year (in regulation). I’m pretty sure the Edmonton Oilers have dropped more games than that in 2010 alone…

1.  Washington Capitals (last week: 2)
The Washington Capitals are the hottest team in the league with 10 straight wins! The bad news is Mike Green was suspended for 3 games after a bad elbowing incident. In the same game Green suffered a knee injury, however, Capitals insider Tarik El-Bashir believes the injury isn’t too serious.

Stay classy, NHL Power Rankings.

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NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 17

January 25th, 2010

Finally, week 17 of the Power Rankings are here! We have a new number one team and jumps from the Washington Capitals, Colorado Avalanche, and Ottawa Senators (each team are currently riding six game winning streaks).

As with any Ranking system, there were some notable falls this week. The Edmonton Oilers fell to the very bottom of the league (as I predicted… but seriously, who didn’t see this coming?) while the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins suffer drops in the Classy Rankings with their poor play, too.

NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 17

30.  Edmonton Oilers (last week: 29)
29.  Toronto Maple Leafs (last week: 28)
28.  Carolina Hurricanes (last week: 30)
27.  Columbus Blue Jackets (last week: 27)
26.  Atlanta Thrashers (last week: 25)

To no one’s surprise, the Edmonton Oilers have finally hit rock bottom. They are the worst team in the NHL. They haven’t won a single game in 2010. All this while the Carolina Hurricanes have started playing slightly better. Last week, the Hurricanes announced Eric Staal as the new team captain, with Rod Brind’Amour remaining an assistant captain. The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to lose ground on a decent finish to the season and the playoffs seem nearly impossible at this point. Right now, last year’s record looks pretty good to the Leafs. The Thrashers and Blue Jackets are still hovering around the bottom five positions in the league… or more importantly, the draft lottery sweepstakes.

25.  Tampa Bay Lightning (last week: 26)
24.  St. Louis Blues (last week: 21)
23.  Florida Panthers (last week: 24)
22.  Boston Bruins (last week: 14)
21.  Minnesota Wild (last week: 19)

The Boston Bruins suffer the week’s biggest drop from 14 to 22 following four straight losses. They are currently 9th in the Eastern Conference with the Islanders. For the St. Louis Blues, they are 5-2-1 in their last eight games and have some wondering if they can reproduce a similar late season run into the playoffs like they did last season. (If any team could do it this year, my money is on Anaheim). The Blues and Minnesota Wild are on the outside of the playoff race right now, but still in the mix. They’ll both need about two-three solid weeks of strong results to really have a shot at getting into the playoffs. I don’t like their chances though.

20.  New York Islanders (last week: 17)
19.  New York Rangers (last week: 16)
18.  Dallas Stars (last week: 18)
17.  Montreal Canadiens (last week: 20)
16.  Philadelphia Flyers (last week: 22)

Montreal, Philadelphia, and the New York Rangers are currently in playoff positions while the Stars and Islanders aren’t. In the case of the Islanders, they are one point back and the Stars are three points out of the last Western playoff spot. The Flyers inconsistency still bothers me and I’m impressed with the Islanders fight to stay in the playoff hunt. I find you can always tell when the Rangers are struggling as John Tortorella’s press conferences start becoming “can’t miss events“. Of course, with any anticipated Tortorella press conference comes a fantastic quote!

15.  Anaheim Ducks (last week: 23)
14.  Calgary Flames (last week: 12)
13.  Detroit Red Wings (last week: 13)
12.  Ottawa Senators (last week: 15)
11.  Los Angeles Kings (last week: 11)

The Calgary Flames could very well find themselves out of the playoffs by next week’s Power Rankings. They are on a five game losing streak and have only won two games of their last 10. A far cry from the “contender status” they started the season with. The Red Wings continue to get healthier in their drive for the playoffs. Looking at the Western Conference right now, the Wings are the one team not in the playoffs who I expect to make it come April. Finally, both the Ducks and Senators enjoy huge jumps this week with red hot play. The Ducks are 8-2 in their last 10 games and could be considered a dark horse team to make the Western Conference playoffs (to me, it’s between them and the Wings). The Ottawa Senators have won six straight games and are nearly 100% healthy again with big impact returns from Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Filip Kuba, and Milan Michalek. The Sens recent hot play means Melynk’s at it again. Urrrgh.

10.  Nashville Predators (29-19-3, 61 pts; last week: 6)
The Nashville Predators fall this week after losing three straight games, particularly because of a loss to the Leafs – a team they should beat. The Predators are in the middle of a four game home stand with games against the Red Wings and Blue Jackets this week.

9.  Phoenix Coyotes (29-18-5, 63 pts; last week: 7)
The Phoenix Coyotes also drop this week as a result of losing two of their last three games. The Coyotes were lit up 7-2 by the Sabres last Monday and lost a close one to Washington after taking too many penalties. This week, the ‘Yotes play the Red Wings, Flames, and Rangers.

8.  Pittsburgh Penguins (32-20-1, 65 pts; last week: 9)
The Pittsburgh Penguins move up in this week’s rankings largely because the Coyotes and Predators moved down. The Penguins still aren’t looking like the Stanley Cup Champions with a terrible powerplay and too many blown games. Sidney Crosby continues to score goals at a torrid pace and Marc-Andre Fleury is expected back from his finger injury this week.

7.  Vancouver Canucks (31-18-2, 64 pts; last week: 10)
The Vancouver Canucks are really starting to heat up. What’s impressed me most about the Canucks has been the firepower from their forwards. Sammuelson, Kesler, Burrows, Raymond, Sedins-squared make up a great top two lines and the Canucks are getting strong play out of Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff too. This week, the Canucks play the Sabres, Blues, and Maple Leafs.

6.  Buffalo Sabres (30-13-7, 67 pts; last week: 5)
The Buffalo Sabres have dropped three of their last four games against Western Conference teams. Allowing 15 goals in four games against the Coyotes, Ducks, Kings, and Sharks makes me wonder if the Sabres are benefiting from a weak Division/Conference or if this is merely a slump against good teams. The Senators are now seven points back of the Buffalo for the Division lead and the Sabres will look to add some distance this week in games against the Canucks, Devils, and Bruins.

5.  Colorado Avalanche (30-15-6, 66 pts; last week: 8)
The Colorado Avalanche are the second team this week to have six straight wins. Last week, the Avalanche knocked off the Oilers and Stars and have two shutouts in their last three games. After a few days off, the Avs will play the Wild and Stars in back to back games this week.

4.  New Jersey Devils (34-15-1, 69 pts; last week: 4)
The New Jersey Devils have been very mediocre in their last 10 games (5-5) in comparison with the rest of their season. While recent losses against the Canadiens and Islanders are concerning, this is a very strong team that will challenge for a Division title and the Eastern Conference championship this Spring.

3.  Chicago Blackhawks (35-13-4, 74 pts; last week: 1)
I wasn’t terribly impressed with the Chicago Blackhawks last week. They came out flat against the Senators and Canucks and are 3-2 on their season long road trip so far. The Road trip wraps up this week against the Oilers, Sharks, and Hurricanes.

2.  Washington Capitals (33-12-6, 72 pts; last week: 3)
Along with the Senators and Avalanche, the Washington Capitals are among the hottest teams in the NHL, having posted six straight wins. The team are 9-1 in their last 10 games and have lost once since making Alex Ovechkin team captain. Not bad…

1.  San Jose Sharks (35-10-8, 78 pts; last week: 2)
The San Jose Sharks are back to the number one position in the Classy Rankings! We’ve talked a lot about the Capitals, Senators, and Avalanche having six games winning streaks, but the Sharks are no slouches either. They’ve won five straight games against good teams (including the Sabres, Kings, and Ducks). The Sharks have three games at home this week against the Hawks, Wild, and Red Wings.

Stay classy, NHL Power Rankings.

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NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 16

January 18th, 2010

Every day I shake my head at how different the Eastern and Western Conferences are. If the NHL playoffs started today, only four of the Eastern Conference teams would qualify for the playoffs in the Western Conference. And aside from the Calgary Flames, all the playoff seeded teams in the Western Conference are on winning steaks.

This week the NHL Classy Power Rankings features jumps from the Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, and, St. Louis Blues while the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens dropped a few notches with poor play and bad losses.

NHL Classy Power Rankings – Week 16

30.  Carolina Hurricanes (14-26-7, 35 pts; last week: 30)
29.  Edmonton Oilers (16-26-5, 37 pts; last week: 29)
28.  Toronto Maple Leafs (16-24-9, 41 pts; last week: 28)
27.  Columbus Blue Jackets (18-23-9, 45 pts; last week: 23)
26.  Tampa Bay Lightning (18-19-10, 46 pts; last week: 27)

For the first time in what feels like forever, the Edmonton Oilers might just knock Carolina out of 30th in the league. The Hurricanes are playing a bit better while the Oilers seem to lose every game, regardless of what the score may be after two periods. Of course, the Maple Leafs 28th position doesn’t seem to change and Tampa/Columbus aren’t going to make the playoffs this year. The only redeeming quality for these teams at this point is the upcoming draft. Ooops, sorry Leafs, I forgot you don’t have a #1 pick this year.

25.  Atlanta Thrashers (21-19-7, 49 pts; last week: 23)
24.  Florida Panthers (20-20-8, 48 pts; last week: 24)
23.  Anaheim Ducks (22-20-7, 51 pts; last week: 21)
22.  Philadelphia Flyers (23-21-3, 49 pts; last week: 18)
21.  St. Louis Blues (21-19-7, 49 pts; last week: 25)

Just when I thought the Flyers had their problems figured out, they lose two in a row. Not the worst slide ever, but they need all the wins they can get right now. They still aren’t back in the playoffs yet. The two notable teams in this category are the Ducks and Blues who’ve both started playing much better recently. I’m not sure if the Blues can reproduce a similar run to last season, but for some reason, I believe the Ducks aren’t out of it (they are six points back of 8th)… yet.

20.  Montreal Canadiens (23-23-4, 50 pts; last week: 16)
19.  Minnesota Wild (24-22-3, 51 pts; last week: 20)
18.  Dallas Stars (20-17-11, 51 pts; last week: 17)
17.  New York Islanders (21-19-8, 50 pts; last week: 19)
16.  New York Rangers (23-19-7, 52 pts; last week: 14)

Both New York teams have played pretty well lately and are sitting in playoffs spots, while the Canadiens, Wild, and Stars are all challenging for playoff spots. Honestly, I don’t like the odds of the Wild or Stars (at this point, they are six points back of 8th), however, Montreal are on the fringe (with the same number of points as the Islanders). In order for the Habs to get serious about flirting with the playoffs, they need to start winning games against Northeast teams. They are 7-7 against their own division and are losing critical points at an important part of the season.

15.  Ottawa Senators (24-21-4, 52 pts; last week: 21)
14.  Boston Bruins (23-16-8, 54 pts; last week: 15)
13.  Detroit Red Wings (24-16-8, 56 pts; last week: 13)
12.  Calgary Flames (26-17-6, 58 pts; last week: 6) ** playing
11.  Los Angeles Kings (27-18-3, 57 pts; last week: 11)

All five of these teams are in playoff positions, and its worth noting that the Bruins, Senators, and Red Wings have all battled heavy injuries all season. The Flames don’t have the same excuse but they’ve lost three straight games. The Kings have been better of late with two straight wins in an extremely tight Western Conference.

10.  Vancouver Canucks (28-18-2, 58 pts; last week: 8)
The Vancouver Canucks ended a three game winless streak with a win on Saturday against the Penguins and are 3-1-1 at GM Place this month. That’s good since four of their next six games are at home. The only regulation loss this month was against the Predators… yes… that game that featured Burrows vs Auger. The Canucks play the Oilers, Stars, and Blackhawks this week, hopefully without any more controversies or drama.

9.  Pittsburgh Penguins (30-19-1, 61 pts; last week: 9)
Despite a good start to their Western road trip, the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t end it well with an injury in Edmonton and a bad loss on Saturday in Vancouver. Marc-Andre Fleury fractured his finger during the Penguins-Oilers game and the team played Saturday’s game without an NHL goalie. The 6-2 loss shows that. Things don’t get any easier for the Penguins as they’ll play the Islanders and Capitals at home this week.

8.  Colorado Avalanche (27-15-6, 60 pts; last week: 10)
The Colorado Avalanche have put together a three game win streak against some pretty good teams recently. They’ve defeated the Sabres, Flames, and Devils over the last week. Not everything is perfect in Colorado though. Forward Milan Hejduk is out 2-4 weeks with a knee injury. Fortunately for the Avalanche, their schedule isn’t too bad, starting with games against the Oilers and Predators this week.

7.  Phoenix Coyotes (28-16-5, 61 pts; last week: 7)
The Phoenix Coyotes remain one of the surprise NHL teams this season with an impressive 61 points so far through 49 games. Ed Jovanovski missed a game this week due to suspension and Peter Mueller looked strong with a few nice goals. For a team who’s had great success this year without many of their young stars, it could get awfully scary for other Western Conference teams if players like Mueller can start to pick up their play.

6.  Nashville Predators (29-16-3, 61 pts; last week: 11)
The Nashville Predators tore through Western Canada last week with wins over the Canucks, Flames, and Oilers. Star players in Nashville typically fly under the radar, but one player who’s caught my eye recently is winger Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist has 19 goals this season and six of them are game winners. This is his first full season in the NHL and he’s only 23 years old. This week, the Preds face the Leafs, Coyotes, and Avalanche.

5.  Buffalo Sabres (29-11-6, 64 pts; last week: 5)
The Buffalo Sabres haven’t lost a regulation game in their last 10 starts. In fact, their last regulation loss was December 23rd! I usually say this when talking about the Sabres, but they seem to get big wins with the least amount of goal scoring possible. Their leading goal scorer has 12 goals (although six players have 11 or 12 goals each) and Tim Connolly, their leading point scorer doesn’t even average a point per game (39 points in 46 games). The Sabres success this season can be centered around Ryan Miller’s terrific play and the tactics/coaching of Lindy Ruff. Kudos to the players for buying into a great system.

4.  New Jersey Devils (32-11-1, 65 pts; last week: 2)
This wasn’t the New Jersey Devils best week. The team dropped two road games that were probably measuring stick games (against the Coyotes and Avalanche) and lost Patrick Elias to injury for an unknown amount of time. The Devils will look to bounce back this week when playing the Islanders, Panthers, and Canadiens.

3.  Washington Capitals (30-12-6; last week: 4)
The Washington Capitals are hot, having lost only one of their last seven games. US World Junior Champion John Carlsson has recently been playing with the Capitals (and looked pretty good) and Alex Ovechkin is inching closer to the goals/point scoring lead with his hot play. It will be an interesting test this week for the Caps as they’ll play some pretty good teams in the Red Wings, Penguins, and Coyotes.

2.  San Jose Sharks (31-10-8, 70 pts; last week: 3)
I can’t help but marvel at the play of Patrick Marleau this year for the San Jose Sharks. Never in a million years did I think removing his captaincy would have such a positive impact on his play. Marleau leads the NHL in goals and hasn’t looked this confident in years (or perhaps ever). It hasn’t been talked about too much, but Marleau is a UFA after this season. It will be interesting to see how the Sharks handle him and other UFA/RFAs (Setoguchi, Pavelski, Blake, Nabokov) beyond the 09/10 season. This week, the Sharks play the Flames, Kings, Ducks, and Sabres.

1.  Chicago Blackhawks (34-11-4, 72 pts; last week: 1)
For two straight weeks, the Chicago Blackhawks are the top team in the NHL and in the Classy Power Rankings! This team doesn’t lose very often and it seems they always find ways to win. It’s impressive to watch, although for other Western Conference teams, it must be frustrating. By next week, I predict Chicago to have more wins than the Oilers have points. For that to happen, the Hawks must win their games against the Senators, Flames, and Canucks this week. The Hawks are in the middle of their eight game road trip and are 2-0 so far.

Stay classy, NHL rankings.

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