Decade Watch

(After Nicklas Lidstrom dominated (2 goals including the GWG plus an assist) Game 1 of the Wings-Ducks series, it reminded me that … oh yeah, the decade’s not over just yet.

So let’s take a look at the guys who made the All-Decade Team – or could make, after a year and a half of revision, the “real” All-Decade Teams – and try to chart their progress in the 2009 playoffs.)

Centers

(Obviously, Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg were not active, so let’s take a look at the OTHER prominent nominee)

Joe Thornton
(6 GP – one goal, 5 assists, -3 rating, 17 SOG, 5 PIM from his shocking fight with Ryan Getzlaf)
A lot of people are going to throw Jumbo Joe under the bus and he certainly didn’t start the series very well. Still, Joe showed flashes of what makes him one of the league’s premier playmakers in the last few games and ended up with a near point-per-game pace. On paper, he looked OK. In the minds of some (especially crazy) fans, he looked like crap. The truth is somewhere in between. If anything, this performance strengthened the argument for Joe Sakic and uh … Peter Forsberg.

Wingers
(Obviously, Jaromir Jagr wasn’t active. Let’s take a look at the progress of Jarome Iginla then.)
Jarome Iginla
(6 GP, three goals and 1 assist with a -4 rating, 18 SOG)

Iginla joins Thornton in the “hurt his case” group. The Flames were something of a mess toward the end of the season and while they made it to 6 games against the Blackhawks, the mess seemed to continue. Many people are beginning to wonder if the good will from the SCF run will wear off for Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff.

Defense

Nicklas Lidstrom
(5 GP, three goals and four assists, 1 GWG, +5, no penalties)
It’s not like Lidstrom really even needed it, but his game 1 against the Ducks made the difference. He also now has more points in the playoffs than Iginla and Thornton in one less game. Yeah, we’d say he probably has a shot at the All-Decade team.

Scott Niedermayer
(7 GP, one goal and four assists, 1 GWG, +4, no penalties)
Niedermayer has been his typically jaw dropping defensive self so far, but he also has a huge GWG from Game 1 against San Jose. He’s managed to play great defense while staying out of the penalty box, something he should teach to his teammates.

Chris Pronger
(7 GP, one goal and five assists, +5, 6 PIM)
Pronger had an amazing series against the Sharks and also managed to keep his elbows from getting himself in trouble. He looked a little bit susceptible against the Red Wings tonight, but this will just be the beginning against Detroit. Will Pronger change any minds that he’s the second best D of the decade over his teammate? Hard to say. They’re both playing great hockey (as usual).

Goalies

Martin Brodeur
(7 GP, 3-4 record, .929 save percentage, 2.39 GAA, 1 SO, 1 smashed stick)
What an absolutely bat shit insane series for the All-Time Wins leader. If you look at it from a context-free perspective, his save percentage was impressive and he managed a shutout. Yet, going by the traditionalist/populist/semi-idiot “he makes the BIG saves” standpoint it was a disaster. Who can forget his spastic snapping after the Canes scored a GWG with .2 seconds left in a game? Perhaps someone who cannot remember since their mind was blown by the Hurricanes going from down 3-2 to winning 4-3 in the shocking span of one minute and twenty seconds.

Did he leave the door open for Roberto Luongo?

Roberto Luongo
(5 GP, 5-0 record, .951 save percentage, 1.50 GAA, 1 SO)
Was it worth it, Lou? All that toiling with the Islanders and Panthers? It’s difficult to deny that Luongo might just be the best goaltender in the world right now. He’s playing so well that Brodeur has to be nervous about his position as Team Canada’s starting goaltender.

Chicago-Vancouver and Anaheim-Detroit are far from over, but we must ask: would there be a better test for Luongo’s mettle than playing against the gold standard Red Wings? We might find out.

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