Archive for the ‘Nicklas Lidstrom’ Category

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?
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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.

All Decade Team: Deirdre’s Picks

March 2, 2009

So I should have been the first person to whip these out, because I have to admit, while there is a little room for argument…really most of these are blatantly obvious and have already been picked.  So no earth shattering picks on this one.  The Puck Huffers beat me to the wacky picks (nice post by the way).  Plus, nice arguments by everyone on the already chosen players…so that being said here are my picks and my brief explanations.  

First some ground rules.  I personally think to be on the AD Team, you have to have a few qualifying things:

-a Stanley Cup

-an individual award (i.e. Art Ross, Conn Smythe)

-a couple of playoff appearances

-success at the international level

Center:  Peter Forsberg

Alright, since this is basically a fantasy team.  I want to set up my fantasy.  Forsberg is totally healthy: no ankle/spleen/wrist/flu/african sleeping sickness.  He’s also shirtless and bearing a whip, but I suppose that’s a different fantasy.  

The argument is simple: when he’s healthy, he’s a beast.  Of course in reality Forsberg is the poster boy for injured reserve.  But the bottom-line is that he makes the people he plays with better.  My grandmother could score 50 goals on a line with Forsberg.  Stats, facts and figures have been tossed around a lot, but I leave you with this.  

Whoa dudes, I can’t feel my spleen!”


Two Stanley Cups, Art Ross Trophy, Calder Memorial Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, 7 All-Star selections, 2 Olympic Gold Medals, 2 Gold World Championships…all from a guy who is known for being injured.  

Wings: Jaromir Jagr and Martin St. Louis

Really there is not a lot to be said about Jagr.  Yes, he’s had issues with motivation and temperament (as nicely as I can put it).  But he’s a legend in this sport.  I know his glory years were mainly in the early 90’s, but he also was among the best players in this decade too.  I think that’s more reason to put him on this team.  

I don’t feel the need to list all of his accomplishments, but multiple cups, multiple personal awards, multiple NHL records….he’s a no brainer.

St. Louis is a slightly different story.  I almost picked Iggy, but I had to give the nod to St. Louis. Statistically, the two have similar points to game totals, but Marty’s got the cup.  Plain and simple.

The Pearson is taller than St. Louis


He was a standout college player.  He’s got the Hart, the Art Ross and a Lester B. Pearson Award and an Olympic medal.

Defense: Nik Lidstrom and Scott Niedermayer

I refuse to even make the case for Lidstrom because if you don’t think he belongs on this team, you are plum crazy.  The only question is will the league rename the Norris trophy the “Lidstrom-wins-this-every-year trophy.”  In fact, Lid is the captain of my AD Team.  He’s also the guy who visits children in the hospital and kisses the babies.

Niedermayer is nearly as much of a no-brainer as Lidstrom.  Pronger is left out in the cold for the same reason as Iginla: hasn’t won the big one yet.

Goalie: Marty Brodeur

Seriously, no competition on this one.  As of this writing, Brody has put in the books his 100th career shutout.

I think that Brody may actually be made of metal


Coach: Mike Babcock

Hasn’t been fired in the decade and won the big prize.  His teams end up in the playoffs.

Fighter: Chris Simon

This is a weird one, but go with me on it.  I am lumping fighter/goon/pest into this and I think for my money it’s Chris Simon.  The man is pure evil.  In fact, he’s anti-Lidstrom.  He’s drop kicking babies and unplugging the IV’s of children in the hospital.  Would I want him on my team: no.  Do I think he could kill Sid the Kid: yes.  This guy has a cup!  Can you believe that?  Iggy’s got nothing.  Proof we live in an imperfect world.  

So why is he winning this category in my mind.  8 Suspensions totaling 65 games missed.  He’s missed nearly a full season in suspensions and to my knowledge all the suspensions have occurred in this decade.  So maybe he doesn’t win the fighter award, but he does win the horrible human being award.

Loudmouth: Jeremy Roenick

I *heart* JR.

So that’s the AD Team.  Hope you enjoy them!

–Dre

All-Decade Team: Joe Pelletier’s picks

February 19, 2009

(Cycle like the Sedins asked some of the hockey blogosphere’s best and brightest to help choose the All-Decade team. During the next few days, we’ll post each response until it’s time to decide the final roster.

First up: the venerable Joe Pelletier. Pelletier runs the fantastic hockey history blog Greatest Hockey Legends and also is the go-to source for hockey book reviews. Of all the great sources of information in the blogosphere, Pelletier’s blog might teach you the most about our favorite sport.)
Goaltender –

Martin Brodeur. I do believe that a couple of goalies reached higher zeniths during the past 10 years – Roberto Luongo most notably, maybe Jose Theodore and Miikka Kiprusoff too. But Brodeur was great all decade. The others were great for one or two years.

Brodeur does benefit from a generational change that saw the old timers leave him be, and the new comers come along a little to late for true consideration for this decade.

Defense –

#1. Nicklas Lidstrom. D’uh.

#2. Scott Niedermayer. Chris Pronger may have won a Hart, but Niedermayer won a Conn Smythe, evening out that debate. He also was a key player for Canada at the Olympics, whereas Pronger was quiet in 2002 and horrible in 2006.

Center –

Joe Sakic. I have to go with Sakic. Joe Thornton may be the highest scoring center by far, but he has failed in the playoffs and at the Olympics. Sakic thrived in both situations time and again.

Wings –

#1. Jarome Iginla – The ultimate power forward of the decade, his offensive numbers are right up there. He was a key member of the 2002 Olympic gold medal team, and remains a key member years later. And he willed Calgary to game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Hockey’s ultimate warrior also is known as hockey’s ultimate nice guy.

#2 – Jaromir Jagr – His offensive numbers are undeniable.

Fighter –

Derek Boogaard – I’m scared of him when I’m on my couch watching him on tv.

Coach –

Mike Babcock – His success rate sets him apart. And he encourages a beautiful form of hockey.

Loudmouth –

Don Cherry – Gotta go with Grapes on that one. Loudmouth of the past three decades.

(Good stuff, Joe! Stop by any time you’d like. We’ll keep the seat warm for you.)

Pronger or Niedermayer for the All-Decade Team? Sleek chimes in…

February 14, 2009

Hey, CLSers. It’s Earl Sleek, resident Duck fan at Battle of California, here to offer my thoughts on James’ All-Decade Team. Specifically, Who gets to play alongside Nick Lidstrom — Scott Niedermayer or Chris Pronger? In a lot of ways, this is really a Coke vs. Pepsi debate — no real wrong answer — but I’ll offer some perspective from a guy who’s watched a lot of them the last couple of years. Perhaps if I’m convincing enough, we can leave Nickleback Lidstrom on the sidelines (kidding, of course).


Sadly, I didn’t make this picture. Credit to Hodge from Waiting For Stanley… ages ago.
I’ve decided to do a point-counterpoint format, as I apparently like arguing with myself. SN is the Niedermayer supporter in me, and CP is the Pronger advocate.

SN: In the 2007 postseason, when the Ducks won the cup, captain Scott Niedermayer won the Conn Smythe trophy. He scored the OT-winner to eliminate the Canucks, an OT-winner to even a series with Detroit, and the biggest goal of Anaheim’s postseason — the last-minute game-tying goal in G5 against the Red Wings, which ironically enough, deflected off Nick Lidstrom’s stick. Pronger wasn’t around for G5s against the Red Wings or the Senators thanks to his elbows, but Scotty led the team to victory each time.

CP: Sure, Pronger’s elbows disqualified him from trophy consideration, but quite simply: nobody was better than Chris Pronger in the 2006 or 2007 postseasons — he arguably could have won back-to-back Conn Smythes. Sure, Niedermayer scored some big goals, but in the 2007 postseason, in all situations, Scotty was on the ice for 24 GF and 26 GA. Pronger, in all situations, was on the ice for 32 GF and 15 GA. In the Ducks’ toughest playoff series, the Red Wings didn’t score an even-strength or a power-play goal when Pronger was on the ice.

SN: Leadership matters, though — remember when Alfredsson shot a puck at Niedermayer and he did nothing? That story could have unfolded quite differently had hot-headed Pronger been the target. And that’s the other aspect to the story: while Pronger has had good results, he’s always been paired with a veteran. Scotty, on the other hand, has been shepherding first- and second-year partners around and still keeeps his head above water. He probably hasn’t played with a veteran since his days back with Ken Daneyko.

CP: Sure, leadership matters, but so does training camp. Anyways, since we know that we’re talking about being Lidstrom’s partner, let’s talk about skillset. Pronger definitely brings a nasty edge that Lidstrom lacks, and with Pronger’s booming cannon (something that Scott Niedermayer doesn’t have in the least), a Pronger-Lidstrom combination would be murder for opponents on both ends of the ice. Perhaps literally.

SN: You’re definitely right about the shooting — that’s not Scotty’s specialty at all. But mobility and puck-smarts definitely would make a Lidstrom-Niedermayer pairing a joy to watch. Niedermayer would run goal-line to goal-line, disrupting defensive coverage like crazy and letting Lidstrom anchor and orchestrate from the blue line. Defensively, they might not own the front of the net as well as Pronger would, but there’s no out-racing Scotty. And they wouldn’t take many penalties, either.

CP: That’s it. Get over here where I can stomp you.

So, I dunno. Scotty’s got more cups, Pronger’s got a Hart, I really could go either way on who really deserves it. I think what probably decides it for me is the notion of partnering with Nick Lidstrom. Certainly both candidates would make an awesome pairing with the Swedish Hockey Robot, but I think in the end I’d go with Scott Niedermayer. The two cup-winning captains would be dazzling, I have to think.

But I’m only 56% convinced. What say you, comments section?

All-Decade Team: D

January 27, 2009

The cliche “defense wins championships” especially fit the first half of the ’00s, as trap-heavy teams such as the New Jersey Devils raised the Cup and generated many Cinderella stories. But even once the lockout expired, great D were still at a premium. Although the Carolina Hurricanes managed to win the Cup without a dominant shutdown D, both the Ducks (Pronger and Niedermayer) and the Red Wings (Lidstrom and Rafalski) allocated huge chunks of cap space for top notch D.

Is there any point in even going on with a charade that Lidstrom wouldn’t get the first defensive spot? My answer is an emphatic “no” but if you feel differently (or if I left anyone out) say so in the comments.

Nicklas Lidstrom
Points: A Shitload
Awards: A fuckton
Respect: Oodles and noodles of,

With six Norris trophies, plenty of points and two Stanley Cups is there really any way to deny Lidstrom is the best defensive player of the decade? Honestly, it’s not crazy to ask if the guy is the MVP of the ’00s, period. It’s difficult to quantify Lidstrom’s immaculate abilities until you get the chance to watch the surefire Hall of Famer in person.

Just a Beautiful Hockey Mind.

Chris Pronger

401 regular season points, 69 playoff points
Four All-Star games, one First-Team All-Star, one Norris and one Hart(!) trophy. Won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim; was a huge factor in the surprise SCF run of the Edmonton Oilers

If there’s one elite D who rubs/elbows people the wrong way, it’s the man who has been known as “The Orbs” and “Stompy” during his impressive career. Right around the turn of the century, Pronger accomplished the rare feat of winning not only a Norris trophy but also an MVP trophy to boot.

Along with being one of the most intimidating D in the league, Pronger’s shown some impressive chops as a powerplay point man. Although he left Edmonton prematurely and on bad terms, his work with the Oilers proved he could take a team to the Finals without much help.

Scott Niedermayer
385 regular season points, 58 playoff points
Four All-Star teams, one Norris trophy, one Conn Smythe trophy, three First Team All-Star selections

While Scott Stevens and Pronger intimidated forwards, Niedermayer combined great defensive instincts with sublime offensive skills to collect three Stanley Cups in a dominant decade of hockey. He plays well in big game situations, hitting double digits in post-season scoring three times including an impressive 18 points in the 2002-03 Cup run with New Jersey.

Niedermayer also accomplished the rare feat of snaring a Norris trophy during Lidstrom’s reign of terror.

Brian Rafalski
401 regular season points, 74 playoff points
Two All-Star games

It’s stunning to see that Rafalski actually outscored Niedermayer in the playoffs and the regular season in this decade, but it shows just how quietly impressive the American born offensive defenseman has been. Much like Niedermayer, Rafalski earned his last Cup playing outside of New Jersey alongside a star D (in his case, Nicklas Lidstrom).

Rafalski was one of the best free agent signings of the post-lockout era and is enjoying another great season in 2008-09.

Rob Blake
408 regular season points, 43 playoff points
Five All-Star games

This year’s been a bounce-back year for Rob Blake. After struggling for a few years on some bad Los Angeles Kings teams, it looks like Blake will make at least one more significant run at adding another Stanley Cup to his resume with the Sharks. Although he’s not the dominant combination of intimidation and skill he was in the earlier part of the decade, Blake’s terrifying point shot and physical presence are still hard to top.

Honorable mentions: Wade Redden (kind of), Zdeno Chara (kind of), Dion Phaneuf (too young), Andrei Markov, Dan Boyle, Mathieu Schneider and a few who missed time with injuries.