• Cripplingly insecure, arrogant & phony – there’s something to hate about all Sharks, Ducks and Kings fans

    Kings-Sharks Photo by Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

    The deep dislike the Ducks, Kings and Sharks have for one another is mirrored by the fans in Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose. We asked bloggers from all three cities to state the hate each fan base has for its California rivals. Much to our delight, none of them played nice.

    By Chris Kontos of The Royal Half

    DUCKS: According to the Anaheim Ducks Twitter account, a theme for their post-season run this year is #UnfinishedBusiness. I’m not sure what #UnfinishedBusiness they could be referring to…unless they mean being unable to “finish” off the seventh seed last season despite leading the series 3-2. I bet #UnfinishedBusiness refers to the ticket sales department of the Anaheim Ducks. Since they are 21st in attendance, it must be a constant battle to try and get people in Orange County to stop waiting in line for Space Mountain or watching themselves on Bravo and go to a hockey game.

    SHARKS: San Jose Sharks fans just love to tell you about how loud their arena is. That it’s the most deafening building in the NHL and provides a distinct home-ice advantage for their team. I guess if I was a hockey fan that was completely insecure about how poor my team did in the playoffs, I’d be boasting about how great the acoustics are in my building as well. And it’s true…the acoustics at the SAP Center are amazing. Each time the Sharks are eliminated in the post-season you can easily hear the tears of the fans drop to the ground!

     


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  • Why the Boston Bruins will win the 2014 Stanley Cup…and I’ll be poorer for it

    Ken Campbell
    (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

    When the Boston Bruins qualified for the Stanley Cup final in 2011, I managed to purchase tickets for Games 3 and 4 for Wayne McDonald. He’s my brother-in-law, but not in that “worthless brother-in-law” sort of way. Good guy, accountant in Sudbury, does my taxes every year. And he’s a lover of everything Bruins. I’ll never forget him outside the TD Garden that June night before Game 3, acting like a little kid. “Except for when I got married and my kids were born, this is the best day of my life!” he said.

    I mention this story because I paid for the tickets. Figured it was appropriate payback for all those years of doing my taxes for nothing. But with the B’s looking primed to go to the Cup for the third time in four years, I’m beginning to wonder who’s getting the better of this deal.

    It’s easy to pick a team to win the Stanley Cup when it’s coming off a 12-game winning streak, the way the Bruins did in March. But there’s more to it than that. The Bruins are the class of the East and will have an easier road to the final than say, about, oh, any one of the eight teams in the West. In the past five years, the Bruins have averaged more than 15 playoff games a year and lead the league with 78 games in that span.

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  • Bergevin’s awesome dance moves create an Internet stir and plenty o’ mirth

    Jason Kay
    2012 NHL Entry Draft - Round One

    Montreal Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin, known as a hard-core prankster during his playing days, is the subject of some guffaws thanks to a viral video.

    Bergevin did his happy dance after Dale Weise scored the overtime goal for the Habs over Tampa Bay the other night, celebrating with moves rarely seen in NHL arenas. Quebec-based Les Satiriques took the footage and ran with it, creating a “Dance Party” mix that’s widely making the rounds. Read more

  • Rumor Roundup: Martin Broduer, Brad Richards and Mikhail Grabovski buzz

    (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

    Long-time New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is leaning toward returning next season, but it remains to be seen if it’ll be with the Devils. Brodeur wouldn’t rule out another season with the Devils, but acknowledged their priority is re-signing Cory Schneider, who supplanted him as Devils starter. Schneider is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2015.

    If the Devils cannot re-sign Schneider to a contract extension this summer, NJ.com’s Randy Miller believes they should trade him and re-sign Brodeur. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch suggests the Pittsburgh Penguins as a destination for Brodeur, in order to mentor Marc-Andre Fleury. Garrioch also notes the New York Islanders need a goalie.

    If Fleury suffers another playoff meltdown, the Penguins could be in the market for a new starting goalie, not a mentor. As for the Islanders, Newsday’s Arthur Staple reports they’ll be in talks with current starter Evgeni Nabokov. He could return in a backup role if they land a younger, experienced starting goalie via trade or free agency this summer.

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  • Bruins, Avs dominate my NHL Awards picks

    Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Once again, I’m privileged enough to receive a ballot for the NHL’s annual individual player awards. It’s a huge honor for any hockey journalist and one I think deserves the respect of full transparency to the public. If we’re supposed to represent the fans, we owe it to them to reveal and stand behind our choices – choices I make after numerous discussions with NHL executives and players.

    So here are my picks, along with some brief thoughts on why I chose the players I did for the five awards. You probably won’t agree with all of them, but the last thing these honors are about is pure consensus.

    HART TROPHY (“to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team”) — Five selections.

    1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
    2. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
    3. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
    4. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
    5. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

    The Rationale: As I’ve noted in the past, I’ve come to see the Hart as a most valuable player award, if only because the concept of “value” is so nebulous. But certainly, Crosby’s value to the Penguins – especially during Pittsburgh’s injury-plagued season – cannot be questioned. Nor can his status as the game’s best all-around individual force. Getzlaf was a very close second, while Giroux got the nod over Bergeron because he was the catalyst in Philadelphia’s remarkable season-saving turnaround. Read more

  • How early should you pull your goalie? Patrick Roy’s gamble paid off, with a little luck

    Colorado Avalanche

    How early should you pull your goalie?

    Almost every coach does it with about one minute left in a one-goal game, and maybe around 1:30 in a two-goal deficit. But not Patrick Roy.

    The Avalanche coach is known as an aggressive individual and his coaching style is the same – he’s been known to pull his goalie earlier than is conventional. Once, when he still coached major junior in the QMJHL, his Quebec Remparts were in a semifinal series against the Shawinigan Cataractes. The series was tied 1-1 and Shawinigan led 3-0 in the third period, when they took two minor penalties less than a minute apart. So, with a 5-on-3 advantage already, Roy decided to go the extra mile and opted to pull his goalie for a 6-on-3 advantage.

    There was more than 12 minutes left on the clock.

    It didn’t work that time, as Shawinigan scored into the empty net and went on to win the series.

    And it didn’t work just last month when Roy pulled Semyon Varlamov with five minutes left of a 2-0 game against Boston. Though the Bruins didn’t score, neither did the Avalanche. No harm, no foul.

    It did work in early February against New Jersey, when Roy pulled his goalie with two-and-a-half minutes left in a 1-0 game. They tied it up with less than two minutes left and Ryan O’Reilly buried the overtime winner.

    And it worked again in Game 1 of Colorado’s Stanley Cup playoff series against Minnesota. Read more

  • Alex Steen scores in third overtime, but Ryan Miller saves the day

    Alex Steen

    St. Louis’ Alex Steen has had a rewarding season. He set a career high with 33 goals and 62 points in 68 games, gained some traction as a Selke candidate and signed a three-year extension worth north of $17 million. In Game 1 against Chicago, he put another egg in his basket.

    The Blues-Blackhawks series is going to be a brutal one…in a good way. With so many banged up stars and gruff bruisers battling for pride and glory, the immense skill and ruthless carnage mix for a perfect playoff painting. The opening game of this series was physical, full of offensive chances, great saves and was a test of endurance.

    The Blues and Blackhawks were on their way to playing two games Thursday night, but Steen put the game, and everyone watching it, to bed, only 26 seconds into 3OT. Read more

  • Why will the Blues win the Stanley Cup? They’ve learned their lessons

    Ryan Kennedy
    St. Louis Blues

    (Editor’s note: The Blues were our pre-season pick to win the Stanley Cup and when it came time to put together our Playoff Preview edition late in the season, we saw no reason to change. Of course, then they went out and lost six in a row to close the regular season. Are we nervous our Cup pick could go out in the first round? That’s an understatement. But we still believe. And a big part of that belief comes from what Ryan Kennedy explored in his cover story for the Playoff Preview issue: the Blues have learned from their tough lessons. Here is that story.)

    Since his star turn for team USA at the Sochi Olympics, T.J. Oshie hasn’t had much time to soak in life as a real American hero. Along with all the fame he got stateside for his shootout heroics against Russia, he welcomed his first child, Lyla Grace, into the world. “It’s been a little bit of an emotional roller coaster,” he says. “But all for the best, I guess besides leaving the Olympics with nothing to show for it. Having my baby girl was the best moment of my life, hands down.”

    In the professional arena, there is one thing that could come close, of course: finally bringing a Stanley Cup to St. Louis, the only still-functioning franchise from the 1967 expansion cohort yet to win the title.

    The St. Louis Blues played for the Cup in their first three years of existence thanks to an unbalanced NHL that had the expansion teams in one division and the Original Six in another. Despite the presence of future Hall of Famers such as Glenn Hall, Doug Harvey and Jacques Plante, the Blues were bludgeoned all three times, winning zero games in sweeps to Montreal (twice) and Boston. As the years went on, no manner of star power could get the team back to the final, and that includes vaunted names such as Brett Hull, Al MacInnis and even Wayne Gretzky.

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