Archive for the ‘Henrik Zetterberg’ Category

Re-Draft Steals: Round 1

August 4, 2009


With the fourth round underway, it seems like there is enough separation to have a little fun with the CLS League Re-Draft.

To revive your memories of the first round, there were some big surprises amid the expected decisions.

Obviously, the biggest surprise was most likely Cassie‘s pick of Henrik Lundqvist at #3. It wasn’t the only pick that defied expectations, however, so there were some top-end players going toward the end of the first round.

Calling Evgeni Malkin (#4), Nicklas Lidstrom (#6) or Pavel Datsyuk (#7) steals might be a bit much, even if they were great picks. So for the sake of argument, we’ll go into the teens before we consider anyone a true “steal.” Feel free to vote and comment on whom you think ended up being the Hamburglar of the first round.

It’s not crazy to call Geno a steal at #4

11. Roberto Luongo

Perhaps it wasn’t a banner season for Bobby Lou after he faced a tough mid-season injury and fell victim to a Patrick Kane hat trick in the playoffs, but it’s still surprising that he was not the first goaltender taken.

16. Jarome Iginla

It’s been a while since Iginla powered the Calgary Flames to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, but he hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down as one of the premier power forwards in the game. He does everything you’d want, from scoring to fighting to being a charismatic leader.

19. Martin Brodeur

His stock is sliding a bit, but Brodeur is still one of the biggest names in the NHL. He’s won Stanley Cups, Vezina trophies, gold medals and oh yeah, the most games of any netminder ever. Couple that with a reasonable cap hit ($5.2 million) and what was a staggering workhorse streak before the 2008-9 season and he has to at least be considered a steal.

23. Chris Pronger

Pronger might be the most hated player in the NHL, considering that he poses a far more legitimate threat than Sean Avery‘s mouth. But for my money, if I want to win a Cup next year I’d either go with Pronger. He might not be as cerebral as Lidstrom, but that doesn’t mean he cannot think the game. He might not be as large as Zdeno Chara, but he makes up for their small size difference with an indifference for human life. Oh, and he’s also a helluva powerplay quarterback to boot.

25. Joe Thornton

Yes, he gets a lot of crap for his playoff chokings (whether that perception is fair or not) but Jumbo Joe is a guy who’s made millionaires out of solid forwards ever since he got comfortable in the league. He’s huge, awesome in video games and puts up huge numbers every year. In my book, he’s easily a top-15 player.

26. Henrik Zetterberg

Zetterberg can do it all. He’s one of the league’s best two-way players, can shift between center and LW with ease and score tons of points. His durability can be a bit of a concern, but other than that he’s a guy who has no business dropping to the later part of the first round.

Which player was the steal of the first round?(opinion)

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Assessing Game 6 through a haze of cold medicine

June 10, 2009

When I had an internship, I developed a cough/flu/cold so hardcore and persistent that – instead of trying to find a way to cure it – I might as well have spent that time finding the perfect slasher movie comparison. While it did get gradually weaker as time went on, it didn’t have a weird fixation with impaling people (exit Michael Myers), sleep made it slightly weaker (sorry, Freddie) and had nothing to do with summer camp (so long Jason).

Eventually, I’ve settled on calling it a “Terminator” cough.

Regardless, ever since that happened, my immune system has been kind of like Pierre Turgeon after Dale Hunter‘s brutal, douche-bag late hit. At times it can be effective, but you know it will never be the same.

ANYWAY, being sick really reduced my stress level during a finish that normally would have sent me into cardiac arrest. Ultimately, the Penguins deserved to win this game, even if the ending was truly terrifying.

Now, let’s delve into the customary stream of puck consciousness.

Does anyone get the vague feeling that Detroit thinks they can just flick on a light switch in this series?

It’s obvious that there are a lot of things that come easier to the Red Wings – particularly transitioning from their zone through the neutral zone – but their elbow grease level seems somewhat inconsistent. At least on the road, that is.

It’s too bad that “Cycle like Staal-Kennedy-Cooke” doesn’t really roll off the tongue, because I’ve grown quite fond of that line.

Even when they don’t score, their rough and gritty cycle game can build momentum, wear down Detroit’s D and draw penalties. It seems like that line really made Nicklas Lidstrom‘s life miserable tonight.

One of the big stories of the series is Detroit’s matchup against Sidney Crosby. It’s a shame that Dan Bylsma has to react to what the Red Wings are doing even when the Pens have the last change, but when it’s clear that Detroit can shut down the Penguins’ top line it’s just a painful fact of life. The bottom line is that the Penguins need Crosby to produce if they have any prayer in Game 7.

Evgeni Malkin needs a finisher. Ruslan Fedetenko played that role nicely, but he’s missed a few golden opportunities in the SCF and it might be time to see if Petr Sykora can rekindle the chemistry he had with Geno in the talented Russian’s first two years in the league.

It’s crazy how far the Penguins have come with questionable talent on the wings.

It’s always nice to have a guy who “you hate to play against, but love to have on your team.” Matt Cooke is the number one guy, but Chris Kunitz and Brooks Orpik also deliver some real bone crunching hits. This is the most physically tenacious Penguins team I’ve been able to watch.

Chris Osgood was incredible in Game 6.

Even though Henrik Zetterberg has displayed an amazing all-around game and Johan Franzen has been a stunning goal-scoring machine, Ozzie is the only Red Wing I can accept winning the Smythe over Malkin/Crosby. Even if he’s a smarmy, Smurfy looking douche.

There have been quite a few moments in this series – for both teams – that made me think “clutch and grab.”I know that’s “playoff hockey” but maybe there’s still some cause for concern.

The officiating hasn’t been great, but I guess I’ll take “letting the players decide it” over NBA-style zebra intervention. Still, the league needs to stand its ground on holding and interference. Let the stars be stars.

I understand the Ducks-Devils parallels, although the are some pretty enormous differences.

NJ/Anaheim featured teams with star … goaltenders. In markets that aren’t necessarily the most hockey crazed. On the other hand, Detroit is the marquee franchise for American hockey and the Penguins have two of the biggest stars in the league.

Hopefully, the biggest difference will be that the home ice advantage will be broken.

Conn Smythe Winners, for $500, Alex.

June 6, 2009

Who was the only non-goalie to win a Conn Smythe trophy in a losing effort?

So its pretty much a given that if PIT wins this series, the Conn Smythe goes to Crosby/Malkin, with Malkin leading right now. No matter what happens in the next three games, short of Crosby and Malkin both being abducted by aliens, no one else on the Penguins can possibly win the Conn Smythe. The interesting discussion is what happens to the Conn Smythe if the Wings win it.

The Conn Smythe has been awarded 33 times, if I just counted correctly. 5 times it has gone to a player on the losing end of the Cup Final series. Four of those recipients have been goaltenders (Giguere 2003, Hextall 1987, Hall 1968, Crozier 1966). Only one player has ever won the Conn Smythe as the playoffs MVP in a losing effort, and not been a goaltender. That player is Philadelphia Flyer Reggie Leach, in 1976.

Leach actually won it as his Flyers were swept in the Cup Final by the Montreal Canadiens. Leach finished that postseason with 19 goals scored, a record that has since been tied by Jari Kurri. Leach had 19 goals, but of those 19 goals, 5 of them came in one game against the Boston Bruins earlier in the playoffs, and he only had 24 points total. He had 4 goals in the final, of Philadelphia’s total 9. 19 goals in a playoff is a hell of a number, but when you take out that 5 goal game, you’re looking at 14-5-19 in 15 games. Still a solid year, but hardly worthy of a losing-team Conn Smythe trophy, I don’t think. I also don’t know how many assists might have come in that 5-goal game, so his points total sans that game might be less.

Could Malkin or Crosby win the Conn Smythe this year in a losing effort? As Mirtle says, they’ve certainly had some pretty historic years. The question then arises, should they? I’m not so sure on that. They’re certainly more deserving than some past winners in losing efforts. But I have a hard time seeing handing out the trophy to one of those guys when the other has just as good of a case for it, and they’re on the same team, especially if the two of them come up short. Combined with the advantageous matchups that I believe the Penguins played (no way do they put up those numbers against some of the better defensive teams in the league), I find it harder to justify awarding the MVP to either of those guys.
On the Wings, I can see only a couple of players who could potentially earn the Conn Smythe: Johan Franzen (22 pts), Henrik Zetterberg (22 pts), Chris Osgood (2.29 GGA 0.924 SV%), and Nicklas Lidstrom (13 points, +9, general workhorse). Of course, I think it should be given to Darren Helm, but I’m not really grounded in reality. Of those, I’m thinking Henrik or Franzen is the front runner based on their point totals and sizable contributions all around. Lidstrom is probably in the mix, but I think the Wings’ defense as a whole dings him down a little bit here. To me, the most interesting choice here is Osgood.
Chris Osgood is already in the top 10 in all-time goaltender wins. If he continues to play another couple years in the league, he could definitely get into the top 8, and could very possibly end his career at #5-7. His 2.47 career GAA is good, but not great. His .906 SV% is fairly average. He currently sits in #8 in terms of all-time playoff wins at 73. A cup win gets him to 75, and he certainly could make it to the top 5 all-time, if he were to hit 88 in his career. He has a 2.11 GAA, one of the best in the modern era, and a .916 SV%. One of my favorite bloggers, the Contrarian Goaltender, will point out how Chris Osgood is a product of a team philosophy, and while I pretty much agree with him, I think there is certainly some amount of recognition due for the guy for what he is.
He has been a pretty consistent guy, though he’s certainly had his moments (and this past regular season was one of them). He’s been pretty durable, lasting in this league for 15 years. He’s redeveloped his style to stay in the game when it was clear he was on the way out. Hell, he even scored a goal. He’s received very little in the way of individual accolades and recognition. In a year where everyone pissed on him, where everyone (including myself) thought he was going to be the reason the Wings came up short in their quest to repeat, he stood up and had perhaps his best individual playoff yet, should he finally get some of that recognition? In the absence of any clear-cut 100% favorites amongst the Wings, should they win this series, could the Conn Smythe be awarded as more of a lifetime achievement award to Chris Osgood?

If the Detroit Red Wings were an NBA team, they would be …

March 25, 2009
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The Detroit Red Wings are the NHL’s version of the LA Lakers.

Why?

1. American institutions

When you think of the top teams in their respective sports, the Red Wings and Lakers are among the five team a casual sports fan would blurt out. The New York Knicks and New York Rangers might compare to these teams in terms of value, but neither of those Big Apple franchises can match the dominance of these two storied American sports franchises.

2. Multiple eras of dominance


Although the Red Wings had the “Dead Things” Era, Detroit dominated multiple generations of hockey. From the days of Gordie Howe to the Steve Yzerman age to the current ZetterbergDatsyuk dynasty, Detroit justifies the stupid “We Don’t Rebuild, We Re-Load” slogan on the back of my eight grade football team T-shirt. (Wildcats for life motherfugees)

The LA Lakers might not have as many championships as the Boston Celtics, but even with Kevin Garnett‘s greatness, the Lakers has been more successful in recent years. The Lakers have arguably an even more dominant lineage than the Red Wings as Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain passed the torch to Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar who then made way for the Shaq-Kobe three-peat and now the “Europeans plus Kobe” gang.

3. Dominant Coaches

The Lakers had Pat “My hair is a daily Valdez spill” Reilly and now employ the league’s hippie-tastic answer to Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson. Detroit employed Scotty Bowman, almost undoubtedly the greatest coach in hockey history, as well as Mike Babcock (the coach of the decade, according to certain geniuses).

4. Shrewd, heart breaking and borderline unfair moves
The list of amazing players the Detroit Red Wings found in the lower depths of the NHL draft is a thing of mind blowing genius. Just take a look at some examples of their Tom Brady-like bargains: Pavel Datsyuk – 6th round; Henrik Zetterberg – 7th round; Tomas Holmstrom10th round; Nicklas Lidstrom – third round; Sergei Fedorov – fourth round.

While the Red Wings made the rest of the league look stupid with brilliant drafting, the Lakers made their biggest moves mostly through trades. Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul Jabbar came over to the Lakers in lopsided Gretzky-like deals. Kobe was drafted with a pick the Lakers acquired in a trade; Shaq came to LA after starting his career with the Orlando Magic. The deal to bring Pau Gasol to LA was so lopsided that some NBA figures hinted at foul play.

The Lakers and Red Wings are proof that the rich get richer.

5. Infrequent, yet sometimes extreme tragedy
That’s not to say these teams never fell on hard times. Magic Johnson became HIV-positive. Steve Yzerman was forced to retire after a grizzly eye injury. Few hockey fans could forget the awful limo accident that nearly took the life of Vladimir Konstantinov.

6. A bunch of championships
The Red Wings have the third most Stanley Cup championships (behind Montreal and Toronto) with 11 while the Lakes have the second most NBA titles with 14 (behind Boston’s 17).

But just to play the devil’s advocate:

  • The Red Wings lack a polarizing star like Kobe, despite what some Penguins fans will tell you about Marian Hossa.
  • Los Angeles is a West Coast, sun-baked city full of fake breasts and false hopes; Detroit is full of blue-collar workers living in fear for their jobs.
  • The Lakers were awesome in the Eighties while the Red Wings were the Dead Things.
  • To our knowledge, a coked-out Jack Nicholson never showed up to Red Wings games.

News Cycle: Do any NHL players fit Sports Guy’s "underrated" criteria?

January 28, 2009
Tim Thomas provides a rare flair for the dramatic in net

  • Last night, I posted a stream of consciousness about an exciting Washington Capitals – Boston Bruins game. One of the lines was, “Marc Savard is still underrated.” After reading a new column by Bill Simmons, it got me wondering: are there any NHL players who are truly underrated?

It’s tough to say. Savard does indeed meet some of the requirements since he has been producing at an impressive level for quite a few years without being mentioned in the upper ranks of NHL forwards. That said, he did make the All-Star team and there is a question of if he “matters” much in the grand scheme of things on a deep, talented Boston Bruins team.

Tim Thomas might actually be a more appropriate case, because he’s putting up one of the better cases for the Vezina trophy this year – and has a knack for producing highlight reel saves.

Can you think of any NHL player who would fit the Sports Guy’s standards of underrated?

  • One player who absolutely is not underrated is Montreal’s Carey Price (or “Jesus Price”). There’s a pretty interesting little feature on Price in ESPN the Magazine which focuses on the pressures that come with being the Montreal Canadiens’ netminder.
  • Big news out of Detroit: the Red Wings signed Henrik Zetterberg to a massive 12 year, $72 million contract. As with most contracts that feature big money and long terms, it’s a mixed bag of a deal.

On one hand, the Red Wings will keep Zetterberg around for a cap hit of only $6 million per year, which is only one million more than Mike Ribeiro. That’s a very nice deal for a player who produces nicely and plays a solid two-way game.

That being said, Zetterberg is a little bit on the fragile side. He’s not quite as delicate as, say, Patrice Bergeron but he tends to miss about 5-15 games per year (career high GP: 79; career low GP: 61). At 29, Zetterberg might already have his peak years behind him.

It’s not an awful contract overall, but it’s possible the last six years could cause the Red Wings some issues.

Now the hot topic changes to: can the Red Wings find a way to keep Marian Hossa or Johan Franzen? It would be impossible for most teams, but you never know with Detroit.

“Does he LOOK … LIKE … A … Bouwmeester?” just doesn’t have the same ring to it…

The photo of Bowmeester in glasses brings back memories of Pulp Fiction, when Quentin Tarantino says that Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta look like “a bunch of dorks.” Bowmeester is a pocket proctector short of getting an atomic wedgie, right?

Hypothetical hope for the Islanders part II

January 8, 2009
The Sedins bringing their cycling circus act to Coney Island? Could be worse …

Even if the Islanders lose the Tavares lottery, their $20 million-plus cap space and their rapidly improving stable of prospects puts them in a great position to rebuild. How about we rank some of the guys who would best fit the Islanders?

1. Kovalchuk – This is only based on heavy trade rumors. Honestly, the Thrashers shouldn’t trade him (the reason, beyond his bodacious skills, will be revealed sooen enough).

2. Hossa – The common thread of wisdom for Hossa is that he’s the hockey version of a smoking hot bridesmaid. Even if he’s not the type of player who can carry a team on his back, Hossa is the most talented free agent and may go into Show Me the Money mode after taking a one-year Cup run contract.

3/4. The Sedin twins – Why break up the Sedin twins when they are so effective together? The Islanders might be a really nice destination for the efficient dopplegangers. Even if they sign matching $6 million contracts the Islanders could still improve the team around them.

5. Jay Bouwmeester – He’s not flashy (except in video games) but he’s the kind of player who can be a cornerstone. With the big minutes he plays and well rounded game he brings the table, he could be a nice fit for the Islanders.

But they’d probably need to add an offensive stud because Bouwmeester isn’t really a ticket seller.

6. Johan Franzen – The Mule is here and Henrik Zetterberg is not for a simple reason. It’s almost unthinkable that Detroit would allow Zetterberg to walk. Not when they very well might lose Hossa. Not when Franzen, despite his undeniable goal scoring skills, cannot stay on the ice.

Franzen could be a good fit in Long Island if he could stay relatively healthy. Hell, a Franzen + Sedins line would be a hell of a consolation prize if bigger things fall through.

Keep dreaming.

7. Marian Gaborik – Honestly, it feels like the team who signs Gaborik is like a newlywed couple who unwittingly adopts that creepy little girl from “The Ring.” But let’s face it, the Islanders are one of those teams that might need to pay up big just for the PR boost.

Even though it’s a thrill to watch Gabby on a breakaway, his signing would be a Shakespearian tragedy for a team that’s had plenty of helpings of bad luck.

8. Alex Kovalev – There’s a buyer beware to Kovalev. Either his drive does not match his blinding talent or his talent is better suited for stunning Youtube videos. Whatever way you slice it, Kovalev’s not the guy you want with that Ayn Rand-ian weight of the world on his shoulders.

Still, if the Islanders try a quantity over quality approach Kovalev could be an asset.

9. Brian Gionta – It’s hard to say if a guy like Gionta would flounder outside of NJ or if he would flourish without the spoused shackles of the NJ system. Judging from the lackluster post-NJ careers of guys like Scott Gomez, expectations should be “less than or equal to.” Then again, adding Gionta certainly would add a little spice to the Devils – Islanders rivalry (whatever you may think of that rivalry).

10. Erik Cole – Call me an Erik Cole apologist, but I’ve been a fan since the Hurricanes Cup year. Then again, he’s clearly never been the same after that dirty Brooks Orpik hit that almost ended his career. Would he take a pay cut or just stay at $4 million? At a lower price Cole could be quite the pickup but at $4 million you better take him to a damn thorough doctor.

***

Tavares-less suggestion: Go hard for Hossa or Kovalchuk or even Zetterberg. If that doesn’t work, settle for the Sedins and a low risk, high reward guy like un-listed, under the radar Michael Cammalleri.