Friday, July 18, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
So that time is upon us in just over a day. The Stanley cup finals begin between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings. Both teams up to now have a had a great run to the finals. The Red Wings facing their toughest test so far vs the Dallas Stars in which the Stars down by 3 managed to get it 3-2 before they were dumped 4-1 and 4-2 series. The route for the Pens was a little easier as they beat the Flyers 6-0 to take a 4-1 series win. With both those facts aside i think we will be in for a very competitive final that could go right down to the wire.
For the purpose of this review i will take a look at what i see as the key areas to the series and what could ultimately win or lose it. The first area that has to be looked at is the attacking flair both these teams possess, while yes the Pens punch a greater threat on paper, you have to look at it in the way that the joint leaders on 21 points are Sidney Crosby and Henrik Zetterberg. Also in the top ten the Red Wings have Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen so by no means do these Wings lack offensive punch, each player skilled in their own right. However i think the Pens win this contest by a country mile as they have just too much attacking prowess the likes of Crosby, Malkin, Malone, Dupuis, Sykora, Hossa, Staal, Gonchar, Whitney to name but a few. This is a area the Pens can really drum home a advantage and really make the Wings pay. If the Pens can get all these players firring they will be to much. The problem they face is if Crosby or Malkin doesn't perform one night there many others who will but also if one doesn't the other probably will.
The next key area to look at is defense. This is key to both sides as they both have a great defensive unit (I will assess goaltending later in the review) that has been very solid, with much thanks to the Goaltenders. This is a area i think the Red Wings have a slight advantage on paper however trying to keep the likes of Crosby&Co silent is no easy task and i think this could be a great drain on the unit as the final progresses. The key will be for the Red Wings to shut down this attacking force or it could be a clean sweep for them. However i don't see this happening but I'm always game for surprises. As for the Pens i feel they will be just as busy. However the unit will be much stronger later in the series as they will not have to worry too much about too many attacking forces that possess endless skill. This match-up is a lot tighter in which i feel the Wings have a slight edge of a young Penguins defensive unit, but i don't think this alone would be enough for the Wings to win the Series. Expect a low scoring series though.
The next area and what i think is the biggest area and will be key to the whole series and that is that of the Goaltenders Marc Andre-Fleury and Chris Osgood. Two very solid goalies with one playing the hockey of his lifetime and living up to those expectations. Fleury who has been brilliant since his return from a High Ankle sprain. He thought he lost his Place to Ty Conklin has come on too show us he is a Franchise Goalie. He will however be up against Chris Osgood a seasoned veteran who has been there many times. If Fleury can play like he has been the Pens have a great shot but equally the same can be said for the Wings. This area which is the key to it all is hard to decide and i would not like to be the one to do that. I will say one thing if one has a bad game it will be a big momentum shifter in the series for whichever team wins. Expect low scoring between these two.
The next areas to look at are the Powerplay (PP) and Penalty kill (PK). The first being the PP this is a area the Pens win marginally mainly due to the same points mentioned in the Attacking section at the beginning. They possess too much of a attacking punch. However the Wings do have a very good PP unit. They are the best two in the league it will be interesting to see how they play. I do give the Pens a slight edge. The next area the PK again pits two of the best in the Playoffs and Pens team which has come on leaps and bounds since Therrian took over two years ago. This will be a tight one in this area and it is pretty much even but i will have to give a very slight and i mean very slight edge to the Pens. Why may you ask and that is simple its is down to the play of Staal and Talbot, who have been immense on the PK making it tough for the opposition.
Now to the Part you have all been waiting for the Prediction. I said on http://www.pensunderground.com/ it would be the Pens in 6. I will stick to that prediction. It will be a low scoring series in which will be very entertaining and hard on both sides. This is the Series the NHL wanted in the final and i don't think it will disappoint.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
By mvuk, Pittsburgh Sports Insider
Pens Line Combinations
Dupuis - Crosby - Hossa
Malone - Malkin - Sykora
Ruutu - Staal - Kennedy
Roberts - Talbot - Laraque
Orpik - Gonchar
Gill - Scuderi
Letang - Whitney
Wings Line Combinations
Holmstrom - Zetterberg - Datsyuk
Franzen - Hudler - Cleary
Samuelsson - Draper - Drake
Maltby - Helm - McCarty
Lidstrom - Rafalski
Stuart - Kronwall
Lebda - Chelios
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Game 3, Wednesday, May 28:
Game 4, Saturday, May 31:
Game 5, Monday, June 2 (if necessary):
Stanley Cup Finals Tickets
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The future is indeed now as the Pittsburgh Penguins, powered by youth and tempered in the crucible that is the Eastern Conference playoffs, have earned their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance since 1992. The Penguins shutout the Philadelphia Flyers 6 to 0, taking the Eastern Conference Finals 4 games to 1.
The Philadelphia Flyers, showing signs of life with a game 4 victory, received a morale and defensive boost as defenseman Kimmo Timonen returned to the lineup after being sidelined by a blood clot in his right ankle. Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn remained on the shelf due to the facial lacerations he received when a slap shot by Penguins defenseman Hal Gill deflected off fellow Penguin Evgeni Malkin's stick. However, the return of their best player, as described by Flyers head coach John Stevens, just would not be enough for Philadelphia.
The Penguins came out of the gate on fire and never looked back. Penguins left winger Ryan Malone opened the scoring with a power play goal at 2:30 of the 1st period. Seven minutes later, center Evgeni Malkin scored as Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Martin Biron got his stick tangled up with Ryan Malone behind the net, allowing Malkin to tap the puck in under Biron's left pad from behind the net.
Right winger Marian Hossa, acquired at the NHL trade deadline, one-timed a beautiful pass from Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby to put the Penguins up by 3 goals midway through the second period, which seemingly deflated the Flyers. Malone scored again on a power play, this time on a deflection from Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar 11:42 into the second period. Pittsburgh center Jordan Staal scored a late goal in the second frame when he poked the puck past Martin Biron with just 52 seconds left.
Philadelphia appeared to have scored a goal in the waning moments of the second period. However, referee Paul Devorski ruled that Flyers left winger Patrick Thoresen was interfering with Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and waved the goal off.
The Penguins scoring department closed up shop with left wing Pascal Dupuis scoring with a deflection off his leg from Marian Hossa's slap shot from the right point 4:03 into the third period.
While the offensive firepower of the Penguins was on display, the incredible Penguins team effort on defense cannot be overlooked. Marc-Andre Fleury was once again spectacular in net, stopping all 21 shots that he faced. Meanwhile, as a team, the Penguins blocked 15 shots from ever reaching Fleury, with defenseman Brooks Orpik leading the way with 4 blocked shots. Kudos go to Pittsburgh head coach Michel Therrien for instilling a great back checking ethic into his forwards.
Time will tell whom will face off against Pittsburgh, but one thing is certain: the evolution is complete. With a suffocating defense and incredible scoring power, the Penguins are a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 2007-2008 Eastern Conference Champions!
Illness in the Igloo
Three Pittsburgh Penguins players are under the weather of late. Center Evgeni Malkin and right wing Peter Sykora both missed practice, but did play in the 6-0 trouncing of Philadelphia on Sunday. Sykora left midway in the second period and did not return to the game. Left wing Gary Roberts was scratched from the line up once again due to illness.
The Waiting Game
The Penguins have their tickets punched for the Stanley Cup Finals. The question is, who will they face? Will they face the President's Cup winning Detroit Red Wings, lead by Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, or will they face the Dallas Stars, lead by goaltender Marty Turco and his spectacular play in net?
These questions could be answered Monday evening as Detroit visits Dallas for game 6 of the Western Conference final.
Eastern Conference Finals - Statistics
Daniel Briere: 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, -4
Mike Richards: 3 goals, 0 assists, 5 points, -1
R.J. Umberger: 1 goals, 3 assists, 4 points, +1
Vaclav Prospal: 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, -2
Martin Biron: 1-4, 18 goals against, 145 shots faced, .877 save %
Sidney Crosby: 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points, +4
Evgeni Malkin: 3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points, +2
Ryan Malone: 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, +3
Marian Hossa: 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points, +4
Marc-Andre Fleury: 4-1, 6 goals against, 132 shots faced, .954 save %
By Brian Compton, NHL.com Staff Writer
For the first time in 16 years, the Pittsburgh Penguins have reached the Stanley Cup Final.
For Ryan Malone, it’s been a long time coming.
The Pittsburgh native scored twice, Marian Hossa had a goal and three assists and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 21 shots he faced as the Pens advanced to the final round for the first time since 1992 with an emphatic 6-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Mellon Arena on Sunday.
The victory was Pittsburgh’s 16th straight in the Steel City. The Penguins have not lost at Mellon Arena since Feb. 24, when they dropped a shootout decision to the San Jose Sharks.
The Pens needed little time to break the scoreless tie, as Malone notched his first goal of the game at 2:30 of the opening period. Just 12 seconds after Mike Knuble was whistled for hooking, Malone redirected a feed from Sidney Crosby past Flyers goalie Martin Biron as the Pens took a 1-0 lead.
Evgeni Malkin put Pittsburgh up by a pair just over seven minutes later with his first goal since Game 1 of this series. After Malone was able to seize control of the pick from Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher, he fed Malkin for the easy tap-in.
“This is what you play hockey for,” Malone said. “I think everybody dreamt about it as a hockey player. To get a chance now to battle for the best prize there is, it’s going to be fun. I think we’re all excited to get going.”
Hossa extended Pittsburgh’s lead with his ninth goal of the playoffs 8:24 into the second period. With the teams at even strength, Hossa took a pass from the corner by Crosby and one-timed a laser past Biron to make it 3-0.
Hard to believe that it was only three months ago when the soon-to-be free agent was skating for a struggling Atlanta squad.
“Sometimes, it takes time to adjust, and it took me a little bit,” Hossa said. “Right now, I feel like I’m at home. I’m just happy to be here.”
Malone tallied his second goal of the game less than four minutes later via the power play. Fourteen seconds after Jeff Carter went off for tripping, Malone parked himself in front of the net and redirected Sergei Gonchar’s wrist shot from the point past Biron as the Pens went up, 4-0. Jordan Staal sent the Flyers reeling towards the dressing room when he made it a five-goal game with just under a minute to play in the second.
“We got a great start and we didn’t let our foot off the gas,” said Crosby, who had two assists and was a plus-2. “We made sure that we kept coming. Everyone contributed and everyone bought into what we had to do. It’s a great game for us.”
The Penguins held the Flyers to eight shots in the third period and took a 6-0 lead at 4:03, when Pascal Dupuis – who arrived in the same deal as Hossa – redirected the latter’s shot past Biron for his second goal of the playoffs.
Philadelphia finished 0-for-4 on the power play and experienced a tremendous amount of difficulty generating quality chances against Fleury, who improved to 12-2 this postseason.
“I don't think you can put too much weight into one game,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “I think we're going to look at our season as a whole, have a really good evaluation of the things we did well and the areas we need to get better. And this one game to me is going to have very little to do with that overall evaluation.”
Mike Richards – who had seven goals and seven assists this postseason and is one of the team’s leaders despite his young age (23), was proud of the way his team performed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Philadelphia finished with the worst record in the NHL a season ago.
“Through all the adversity and the highs and lows, it’s great to see that we can get through some of the adversity we had thrown our way,” Richards said. “I had one of the funnest years I had, just being around the guys. I wouldn’t trade it. I’m extremely happy with the team.”
Just as Malone is happy with his. Sixteen years after watching his favorite team win its second straight Stanley Cup, Malone is now playing a huge role in the chase for that elusive third championship.
Malone remembers playing for the 2003-04 Penguins, who finished in the Atlantic Division basement with a record of 23-47-12. Dick Tarnstrom was the team’s leading scorer with 52 points. How times have changed.
“Four years ago where we were … the fans have been patient,” Malone said. “We realize we have a tough test in front of us still. Our goal wasn’t to get here – our goal was to get the whole thing done. So far, so good.”
A Legend is Born
Good, Bad, and UGLY
By tluke53, A Pens Guru
MAF - He was tremendous in this game. Those quick legs made key saves that helped to demoralize the Flyers and take them off their game.
Staal - Another strong game by Jordan Staal. I believe that he has 6 goals in the playoffs. Next year could be a breakout season for him.
Malone - How much difference does he make in front of the net? Even when he does not receive credit for a goal or an assist his big body obstructing the goalie is often responsible for goals. His role is going to be impossible to replace next year from within.
Hossa - Player of the game. He was everywhere.
Crosby/Malkin - Same as usual great and probably not getting enough credit.
I CAN'T BELIEVE IT. WE ARE NOW PLAYING FOR THE CUP!
Game 5 HIGHLIGHTS
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Goalie Equipment Before
Goalie Equipment After
As of right now the current net is at six feet wide to four feet high. I'd add an inch to the height of the net and add two inches to the width of the net. Goalies/equipment has gotten much bigger over the years Goalies have become more flexible over the years. Some goalies (especially Europeans) can stretch so far that they can reach both goal posts with ease. Goalies have improved so much that I think a small increase in the net size is needed. When the first nets were established goalies were almost like stick figures. They wore little goalie equipment and the goalies themselves were smaller. This made the net look much bigger to players and there were many openings for the puck to get through. Now the Goalies look like sumo wrestlers and the puck has less of chance of getting into the goal due to the many factors already explained in this post.
EM Swift, SI.com had a great column about this very issue. He wrote the following,
"It's not just that scoring is down. The league is averaging 5.8 goals per game, including overtime, this season. That's down from 6.1 last season and way below the seven-plus average from the late 1970s through the early '90s -- before teams even played overtime.
The bigger concern is that certain types of scoring attempts have all but disappeared. The booming slapshots from a wing breaking across the blue line, which popularized hockey and made Bobby Hull a matinee idol in the 1960s; the sniper blast from the sideboards of the kind that made Guy Lafleur, Mike Bossy and Mike Gartner so deadly."When I was growing up, I saw a lot of goals scored by guys going down the wing, slap shots to the far corner," says Calgary's Jarome Iginla, a member of the NHL's competition committee. "Those were exciting to see. The bigger nets would give you more chance to have those goals." (Swift)
To Read the Rest of the Article: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/em_swift/01/16/bigger.goals/index.html
“Goalies have to get smaller or the nets have to get larger,” Darcy Regier (Sabres GM) said.
The NHL needs to increase the size of the NHL net in order to produce more scoring.
An instigator of an altercation shall be a player who by his actions or demeanor demonstrates any/some of the following criteria: distance traveled; gloves off first; first punch thrown; menacing attitude or posture; verbal instigation or threats; conduct in retaliation to a prior game (or season) incident; obvious retribution for a previous incident in the game or season.
The aggressor in an altercation shall be the player who continues to throw punches in an attempt to inflict punishment on his opponent who is in a defenseless position or who is an unwilling combatant. A player must be deemed the aggressor when he continues throwing and landing punches in a further attempt to inflict punishment and/or injury on his opponent who is no longer in a position to defend himself.
An altercation is a situation involving two players, with at least one to be penalized.
It's pretty self explanitory and teams are already wanting this to happen according to Eric Lindros.
Eric Lindros, newly appointed NHLPA ombudsman, said the NHLPA has visited four teams so far in their fall tour. Addressing a question about concussions and what can be done about them from Ron McLean on Hockey Night in Canada: Hockey Tonight, Lindros mentioned equipment and respect. Lindros said all four teams mentioned getting rid of the instigator rule as a way to increase respect for other players on the ice.
Link to Article: http://www.hockeyfights.com/quickhits/qh/entry/players-remove-instigator-up-respect/
3. Penalty to players who dive to block shots or passes, or to knock the puck off a stick.
By someone, Article is MIA (Missing in Action):
“If I’m standing up, I can’t trip you,” Regier said. “But we have rules in which if you’re skating down the ice and I make a desperate dive and I knock the puck away from your stick first and I happen to trip you in the process, that’s not a penalty. I don’t know how that came about. It doesn’t make any sense to me. If I trip you, I trip you, whether I’m laying on the ice or standing up.
“It’s so easy to go down and slide [to block a shot or pass], and the skill that you have to have developed to overcome nothing more than a slide is enormous. You have to have great hands, great puck control, great passing skills to put the puck over the top of that defender.
I call this a penalty......
4. Change Delay of Game penalties from a 2 minute minor to a 1 minute minor.
A two minute penalty for shooting the puck over the glass in your defensive zone is kind of lame. A two minute penalty isn't deserved for a player who unintentionally commited a crime by shooting the puck over the glass. I'd Change it to a 1 minute penalty because it isn't worthy of 2 minutes but isn't worthy of no call either so the best thing to do would make "Delay of Game" is a one minute minor penalty.
5. Let Skaters in Shootout to go without their helmet
Self explanatory. I think it's kind of cool but the change wouldn't improve the sport.
By Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News
In the Sixties and Seventies, we could easily identify Bobby Hull, Jean Beliveau, the flowing locks of Guy LaFleur. Then safety reared its ugly head, and now we have no idea what these players look like. Most of the regular-season highlights we see of the NHL are from shootouts. Let's see the players. Women will like this one.
Link: Not Available
6. Bring Back an Improved FoxTrax
Not this (Old FoxTrax System).....
FoxTrax (colloquially called the glow puck, smart puck, laser puck, Fox Puck, or super puck) was a specialized ice hockey puck with internal electronics that allowed its position to be tracked designed for NHL telecasts on the Fox television network. Primarily, it was used to visually highlight the puck on-screen and display a trail when the puck was moving rapidly.
But Something Like This.....
As of right now Versus is exploring ways to improve the FoxTrax system. I propose that they do something like shown in the above video. In NHL video games the puck has something like a spot shadow under the puck. This shadow makes the puck appear to be larger making it easier to follow. If VS. able to create something to this effect it will bring in many new fans who had problems following the puck.
The scanner technology is there to let every fan in the seats eavesdrop on what's being said. We don't want lame interviews conducted by bench reporters. We want to hear the real thing, and if we're paying $100 a ticket, we deserve it.
If they ice it, bring back the puck back for the face-off and the penalty killers have to stay on the ice.