Hump-day Report 5/20/09
The Hump-day Hater
At the end of a play during game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, Matt Cooke came across the front portion of Erik Cole. Cookeâ€™s knee hit Coleâ€™s knee. It was a questionable hit, no doubt. Doesnâ€™t it sound like a hit last series that was shushed by the league? While as of Tuesday night, Erik Coleâ€™s status for game 2 was unknown, it didnâ€™t stop pundits from speaking out about it.
Pittsburgh lost Gonchar for their troubles; Washington free of penalty. Carolina loses Cole (and Ruutu on a similar circumstance with Eaton). So far, againâ€”as of Tuesday night, neither Cooke nor Eaton has received repercussions from the League.
Of our FF faithful who voted in Matt Bodenschatzâ€™s poll yesterday, over 60% voted that Ovechkinâ€™s hit set precedent: no suspension.
I think Alanis Morissette said it best: â€œIsnâ€™t it ironic?â€
The HCMT Floating A award
The NHL world remembers Dan Cleary best from last year as being the first Newfoundlander to win the Stanley Cup. And I wouldnâ€™t count him out for doing all he can to become the second to do it as well.
While Cleary may only have 6 goals and 6 assists for 12 points (as if thatâ€™s not impressive enough), heâ€™s no one to sleep onâ€¦which would be very uncomfortable anyway.
Just ask Jonas Hiller and the Anaheim defensive corps about letting him stray in front of the Ducksâ€™ net with 3 minutes to play in game 7 of the semi-finalsâ€¦theyâ€™ll have something to say for Dan Cleary. So will the Chicago Blackhawks after he put the dagger in their hearts scoring the first and fourth goals for the Wings in game 1â€¦not to mention a go-ahead goal last nightâ€™s second period.
Cleary has two game-winning goals in these playoffs. Heâ€™s also one of the league leaders in plus/minus with +13 (prior to last night) this post season. Cleary was a big reason why Detroit won the Cup last year, and I see no reason why heâ€™d stop now.
Now, of course, heâ€™s no Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyukâ€¦hence his winning of this weekâ€™s HCMT Floating â€œAâ€ Award.
Tap of the Stick/Drop of the Gloves
Drop of the Gloves: Gary Bettman
The flight of the Phoenix (Coyotes) saga continues as last week Commissioner Bettman ensured that the NHL is â€œnot looking to relocate.â€
Fans in hockey-less cities all across Canada took a sigh of relief. After all, who would want to take an ice hockey team out of the middle of the desert?
Ok, so Iâ€™m being sarcastic. But the point is that Bettman also said that the NHL â€œhas a history of fixing problems and trying not to abandon markets.â€
â€¦and the time-space continuum rips. Doesnâ€™t it seem odd that this is coming from the man who moved this very team of which we speak from Winnipeg to Phoenix?
Realizing how idiotic his comment sounded in his headphones on XM radio, Bettman tried to cover up his tracks saying â€œpeople will point to Winnipeg and Quebec Cityâ€ (as I just did). He continued â€œwe couldnâ€™t find anyone to own the teams there.â€
According to Commissioner Batman and Boy Wonder Bill Daly (deputy comm.), the league has found potential local options. Ok, so then whatâ€™s the problem? Why are you guys talking about using relocation as a last resort and then saying thereâ€™s no problem?
So, apparently, if Iâ€™m getting this straight, the Phoenix Coyotes are staying in Arizonaâ€¦but donâ€™t worry everyone, they wonâ€™t be relocated, either.
Drop of the Gloves: Joe Beninati
If I hear â€œexclusivelyâ€ one more time, Iâ€™m going to flipâ€¦and thatâ€™s not easy for me to do.
Drop of the Gloves: NHL schedule guy
Iâ€™ve never seen a conference final schedule show two days between games, especially games one and two. This is bad for the Pens because it allows Carolina time to regroup and takes away from Pittsburgh momentum from game 1.
This is also unfortunate because, if the series goes to seven games (which I wouldnâ€™t rule out), it wonâ€™t end until June 2. The league is drawing things out too long. Also, Iâ€™m going on a cruise in June and if the Stanley Cup finals donâ€™t start until the 4th or 6th, I wonâ€™t see the final gamesâ€¦thought the league would like to take that into consideration, too.
Tap of the Stick: Ron Francis
Just because, amid all these dropping gloves, someone needs to get a tap of the stickâ€¦good to see you back in Pittsburgh, Ronny, even if itâ€™s behind another bench.
Sidney Crosby vs. Jose Theodore
Jose Theodore still canâ€™t figure out Sidney Crosby. Not many guys have had three cracks at Sid and still not been able to know whatâ€™s coming. But letâ€™s not fault him for that. We all know that Crosby came with something different every time.
Crosbyâ€™s first shootout in the NHL (against Montreal): Theodoreâ€™s spine was in knots for days after Crosby deked him out of his skates.
This past season against Washington (pre-Varlomov): Theodore thought he had him. He was ready to use his glove this time and take away the high backhand Sid used on him the first time. Not to be, though, as Crosby went back to the forehand and tucked it inside the blocker side post.
Last series: Glove or blocker? Glove or blocâ€¦5 hole?!
Maybe youâ€™ll get another shot next season, Jose.
Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Cam Ward
If all of these games are like game 1, we are all in for quite a treat between the pipes. Fleury got the win, but take nothing away from Cam Ward. The reason the Pens won in the end was the fluky goal allowed on the power play to Boucher. It looks like it will be whichever goalie allows the bad goal in the game loses.
2008-09 Hart Trophy
Now I know itâ€™s way too early to take these considerations seriously, but some people I talk to decided that the winner of the Pens/Caps series would determine the Hart Trophy winner. But Iâ€™m not so sure about thatâ€¦
Alex Ovechkin had a much better series than Malkin. In fact, the only player on either side that he didnâ€™t have a better series than, statistically, was Crosby. So if thatâ€™s the argument, Iâ€™m not biting yet.
Then again, when Crosby and Ovechkin won their respective Hart Trophies, one of the major requirements was whether or not they got into the playoffs with their teams.
Either way, thereâ€™s no doubt that the race between Ovechkin and Malkin is closeâ€¦but thatâ€™s for the end of the season. One thingâ€™s for sure: itâ€™s debatable.
Barrel of Monkeys
Detroit Red Wings
When the playoffs began, a handful of people (myself included) thought that a hot team like Columbus would knock off the slow-finishing Red Wings. We were quickly proven incorrect. Then some did the same with Anaheim. Again, even though they had a little more trouble, Detroit prevailed.
The Red Wings finished their last 10 games of the season at 3-6-1. Not Detroit numbers. Despite my disappointment at them advancing, I canâ€™t help but wonder in awe of how this team can pull it together so well in the playoffs.
Chris Osgood did not play well during the regular season. He had a 3.09 GAA and .887 save percentage. By anyoneâ€™s standards for a starting goalie, let alone Detroit, thatâ€™s horrible. In the post season, he has a 2.06 GAA and .922 save percentage.
To Chicago, this isnâ€™t the same team that they defeated in a home-and-home (4-2 and 3-0) to end their season.
That does it for this week’s edtion of the Hump-day Report. Stay tuned for more next time.