Carey Price has been fantastic in the first round, making Bob Gainey's Cristobal Huet trade a distant memory. (Photo By Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Author: The Hockey News
Double OT: Observations on the first round
By: Mike Brophy
Apr 16, 2008
Does it get any better than this? Five playoff hockey games in one night!
Because of my job as an analyst with Rogers Sportsnet, I have the good fortune of being able to watch all the games that are on TV in a nice lounge inside Rogers’ fancy new studios in downtown Toronto, even when two or three are being played at the same time.
Here are some observations from the first round thus far:
Montreal rookie goaltender Carey Price has more than justified GM Bob Gainey’s decision to trade Cristobal Huet and anoint Price as the Canadiens goalie of the future. Even if the Habs don’t win the Stanley Cup this season, it is abundantly clear they have a reliable stopper for years to come. The way he operates so calmly under pressure, at just 20 years old, is simply remarkable...
What purpose did having George Parros in the Anaheim lineup and Derek Boogaard in the Minnesota lineup serve Tuesday night? Parros played four shifts for the Ducks, accumulating 2:42 in ice time and was credited with one giveaway. Boogaard, meanwhile, also played a grand total of four shifts for 2:03 and was tagged with two minor penalties and two misconducts...
If the Sens are bounced in four, they should not fire GM Bryan Murray. They should, however, consider moving one of their top three forwards – Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley or Jason Spezza. Oh, and get rid of goalie Ray Emery, too. They should have done that long ago, actually. It is clear Ottawa’s Big Three are not a Cup-winning mix, but any of them should fetch a healthy enough return to change the chemistry of this outfit...
I know he scored the winner Tuesday, but I’m still not seeing Joe Thornton take control of things the way he needs to if the San Jose Sharks are to advance beyond the first round. Thornton was held in check for the first two periods and it wasn’t until the final minute, with the outcome on the line, that he finally stepped forward and flexed a little muscle. He needs to do that on every shift of every game...
There is no question Steve Ott of the Dallas Stars is one of the biggest pests in the NHL. It’s just that I thought with his talent, he would amount to more than that. It’s almost like his trying to be an agitator on every shift is holding him back from other things he might accomplish, like chipping in on offense. He did, after all, manage seasons of 50 and 43 goals playing junior in Windsor. In that regard, he could take a lesson or two from New York’s Sean Avery...
The more I watch Mike Richards, the more I am convinced he’ll be a member of Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He is emerging as one of the best two-way players in the NHL and his leadership qualities have already been well documented...
Last year I wondered if the Devils were mistaken in playing superstar goalie Martin Brodeur so much in the regular season. Have to admit I am wondering the same thing this year. Or could it be a case of the Devils simply not having enough scorers and too many of those cookie-cutter, checking grinders they like to carry?
Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.
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Rumor Roundup: Yakupov still on the outs with Oilers, but trade isn't imminent
By: Lyle Richardson
Sep 28, 2016
With their added wing depth, the Oilers can go into the season using Nail Yakupov as trade bait later this season to address a different roster issue.
Earlier in the off-season, there was considerable speculation the Edmonton Oilers would trade right winger Nail Yakupov. Selected first overall by the Oilers in the 2012 NHL draft, the 22-year-old struggled to meet lofty expectations.
It was anticipated Yakupov might be packaged for a defenseman, another struggling young player or a couple of draft picks. With training camps underway and the start of the upcoming season fast approaching, he's still on the Oilers roster.
The Edmonton Journal's David Staples cites TSN's Ryan Rishaug's belief the Oilers will part ways with Yakupov when the right opportunity presents itself. Staples also cites other local media insiders claiming Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli attempted to move Yakupov this summer, noting the young winger is on the outs with coach Todd McLellan.
With promising winger Jesse Puljujarvi standing a good chance to crack the lineup this season, Zack Kassian re-signed to a one-year deal and Kris Versteeg on a professional tryout offer, Chiarelli could have sufficient depth on the wing to replace Yakupov. The Oilers GM wouldn't necessarily have to get another winger back in return, using him instead as trade bait later this season to address a different roster issue.
Yakupov's struggles and his $2.5-million salary-cap hit for 2016-17 hurt his trade value this summer. Over the course of this season, however, a stronger performance in a contract year could make him more attractive to rival clubs.
HARTNELL RESCINDS TRADE REQUEST
Leading up to last season's NHL trade deadline, Columbus Blue Jackets left winger Scott Hartnell was the subject of considerable trade speculation. It was believed the Jackets hoped to move the 34-year-old and his $4.75-million annual cap hit in a cost-cutting deal.
Earlier this summer, Hartnell agreed to waive his no-movement clause and provided Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen a list of acceptable trade destinations. However, he's now changed his mind. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports Hartnell rescinded his trade request.
After two months without any news of a possible move, Hartnell said he didn't want uncertainty hanging over him during the upcoming season. He also said he still believes he can be a contributor for the Jackets.
While his cap hit remains on the Jackets' books, it won't cause any significant issues for them heading into 2016-17. They freed up some cap room by buying out Fedor Tyutin and Jarret Boll in June. With all their players under contract for this season, they have $3.8 million in cap space.
It'll be interesting to see how things play out for Hartnell and the Jackets over the course of the season. Should they fall out of playoff contention again by the deadline, maybe Kekalainen revisits moving the veteran winger.
SEIDENBERG DRAWING ATTENTION
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg's performance for Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey is garnering favorable reviews. An unrestricted free agent after the Boston Bruins bought out his contract in June, the 35-year-old blueliner is drawing the attention of clubs seeking experienced defensive depth.
Last week, the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch reported the Senators “kicked the tires” on Seidenberg and fellow UFA blueliner Kris Russell. On Monday, TSN's Darren Dreger took to Twitter reporting the Ottawa Senators were among “a handful of teams” with interest in Seidenberg.
Dreger believes the first team to make the rearguard a competitive offer will get him. If not the Senators, one of them could be the New Jersey Devils. They still have a hole to fill on defense since trading away Adam Larsson to the Edmonton Oilers for left winger Taylor Hall. The Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs could also come calling.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
The new KHL expansion team in China appears to still be learning some of hockey's customs.
China is a potentially massive emerging market for hockey. Beijing will host the Winter Olympics in 2022 and even if NHL players aren’t at the 2018 Games, it seems like a no brainer to return for 2022 to try to increase the sport’s popularity there.
The KHL already has a foot in the door in China, thanks to its newest expansion team, Kunlun Red Star, which is based in Beijing. Fans are embracing the game to various degrees, but it seems there are some nuanced hockey customs that haven’t fully caught on yet.
Take this ceremonial puck drop, for instance.
This unintentionally hilarious puck drop was prior to a September 18 game between Kunlan and Tolyatti Lada. The unidentified man in the suit, after getting a puck-dropping lesson, seems content to just throw the puck at the ice like it’s a grenade and get on with his day. No waiting around for both captains, no hand shakes, no photos.
The confused captains are Lada’s Vladimir Malenkikh – who tries in vain to get the man to wait – and Red Star’s Janne Jalasvaara, who is still adjusting his helmet when the puck drops. The two captains exchange a confused look.
Another subtle hilarious moment is Red Star left winger Max Warn, in the top right corner of the video, trying to usher the two men off the ice.
Ten games into their inaugural KHL season, Kunlun is experiencing many ups and downs. They are a somewhat respectable 4-6 on the season, but are struggling at the gate. Reports say there were only 550 spectators for a recent game in Shanghai, where they are playing a handful of games this season.
Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky celebrate the Game 2 overtime winner at the 1987 Canada Cup.
Author: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Down Goes Brown: What was the best Game 2 in World Cup history?
By: Sean McIndoe
Sep 28, 2016
Five out of seven World/Canada Cups have been best-of-three finals, so let's take a look back at those five games, and rank them from worst to best.
Tuesday night's Game 1 of the World Cup final, which saw Team Canada earn a 3-1 win over Team Europe, sets up a do-or-die Game 2 Thursday night. A Canada win would end the tournament, and the trophy will be in the building, unless the league has come to its senses and thrown that ugly thing into a raging bonfire instead.
There have been seven World and Canada Cups in international hockey history, but we didn't get to see a Game 2 in all of those. Twice, in 1981 and 2004, the format called for a one-game final. But it's been best-of-three in the other tournaments, which gives us five Game 2 to work with. So today, let's take a look back at those five games, and rank them from worst to best.
As always, this is opinion only, and if you disagree, then you're wrong.
No. 5 – 1984: Canada 6, Sweden 5
The road there: Canada stumbled through the 1984 tournament, going 2-2-1 through the round robin and barely making the playoff round as the fourth seed. But Team Canada earned a trip to the final thanks to an overtime win over the Soviets in the semi-final, and they were facing an upstart Swedish team that had beaten them in their round robin meeting and had just embarrassed the Americans with a 9-2 blowout. The Canadians took the opener by a 5-2 final, but the second game proved closer.
Game 2: The game looked like a laugher early on, with Canada scoring four times in the first seven minutes and adding a fifth before the first period was over. A Paul Coffey goal early in the second made it 6-1, setting the stage for a furious Team Sweden comeback. They scored three unanswered goals to close out the second period, and draw to within 6-5 early in the third. But that was as close as they came, as Canada held on for the win and the series sweep.
The aftermath: This turned out to be the first of three straight Canada Cup wins for Team Canada, and remains the only finals appearance by Team Sweden.
The bottom line: What looked like a laugher wound up being a reasonably entertaining contest. But the game everyone remembers from the 1984 Canada Cup will always be that semi-final thriller with the Soviets.
No. 4 – 1991: Canada 4, USA 2
The road there: Coming on the heels of the 1987 tournament, fans were probably hoping for yet another final between Canada and the Soviets. But with the team in turmoil, partly due to the political situation back home, the Soviets failed to even make the playoff round. That left Canada looking for a new challenger, and the Americans were happy to step in for their first ever Canada Cup final appearance. The two teams met in the round robin, with Canada winning 6-3 to hand the Americans their only loss of the stage, and Canada followed that up with a 4-1 win in the opening game of the final.
Game 2: This game may best be remembered for who wasn't playing. Team Canada captain Wayne Gretzky was knocked out of action in Game 1 on an ugly hit from behind by Gary Suter. The check left Gretzky unable to suit up for Game 2, and contributed to the back problems that slowed him down for much of the early 1990s.
Looking for the sweep, Canada jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Americans clawed back with a pair of second-period goals. But Steve Larmer earned some revenge on Suter by stripping him of the puck during an American powerplay and then scoring on a breakaway for the winning goal.
The bottom line: This game, much like the 1991 tournament itself, was an entertaining one that for some reason isn't all that well remembered by many fans.
No. 3 – 1996: USA 5, Canada 2
The road there: The Americans swept through the round robin with a perfect 3-0-0 record, including an impressive 5-3 win over Canada that featured a wild early brawl. That win earned them a quarter-final bye, and after knocking off the Russians 5-3 in the semis, Team USA came into the final looking like they had a real shot to wrestle the international crown away from Canada. But Steve Yzerman's overtime winner in Game 1 in Philadelphia handed the Americans their first loss of the tournament, and left them needing a pair of wins in Montreal to take the tournament.
Game 2: Team USA jumped out to an early lead, but Canada came back to tie the game before the first intermission. Goals by John Leclair and Brett Hull gave the Americans a 3-1 lead, and Mike Richter stood on his head to keep it that way until a late powerplay goal by Joe Sakic made it 3-2 with five minutes to play. That was as close as they came, and a pair of Team USA empty net goals padded the final score to 5-2.
The aftermath: Team USA completed the comeback in Game 3, winning by another 5-2 score to capture their first (and so far only) best-on-best championship.
The bottom line: Despite the two empty netters making the score more lopsided than the game was, this was a fun matchup that featured lots of star power, some bad blood, and a raucous Montreal crowd. You can watch the highlights here.
No. 2 – 1976: Canada 5, Czechoslovakia 4 (OT)
The road there: Four years after the legendary Summit Series, the Canada Cup was born in an effort to create the first true international best-on-best tournament. There was no semi-final back then, with the top two teams heading directly to the finals. Canada grabbed one of those spots, finishing first in the round robin with a 4-1-0 record. But while many had expected a Summit Series rematch in the final, the Soviets were edged out of a spot by Czechoslovakia.
The opening game of the final was a blowout, with Canada earning a relatively easy 6-0 win. Game 2 ended up proving to be a bigger challenge.
Game 2: Canada grabbed a 2-0 lead just two minutes in, but Czechoslovakia fought back to tie the game early in the third. A Bobby Clarke goal restored the Canadian lead, but two quick Czechoslovakian goals gave them a 4-3 lead with four minutes to play. Bill Barber tied it with two minutes left, and that set the stage for Darryl Sittler to deliver the first ever Canada Cup with what still stands as one of the most famous goals in the tournament's history.
The aftermath: To this day, Sittler and Team Canada assistant coach Don Cherry are still arguing over who's idea that move was.
The bottom line: You could make a great case for this game being No. 1 on the list. I think it’s a coin flip, but I'll take the game that directly led to one of the greatest moments in hockey history.
1987: Canada 6, Soviet Union 5 (2OT)
The road there: Canada and the Soviets finished in the top two spots in the round robin, then knocked off Czechoslovakia and Sweden, respectively, in the semi-finals to set up the first best-on-best multi-game series between the two rivals since the 1972 Summit Series.
Game 2: With the Soviets looking to clinch their second Canada Cup in three tournaments, the series shifted to Hamilton for the second game. The two teams resumed the all-out offensive pace, with Canada leading 2-1 before the game was even four minutes old. Then it got better.
Canada took a 3-1 lead to the first intermission, but the Soviets tied it in the second before Mario Lemieux quickly restored the lead. The Soviets tied it again early in the third, but Lemieux scored again midway through. That set the stage for a frantic end to regulation that saw Valeri Kamensky score with a minute left to send the game to overtime.
With the trophy on the line, the two teams went back and forth through one scoreless extra period. But midway through the second overtime, Canada finally ended it. Guess who.
The aftermath: This game was so good that the hockey gods decided to re-use the same script for Game 3: A back-and-forth thriller that ends with a 6-5 Canada victory on a Mario Lemieux winner.
The bottom line: The series finale was quite possibly the greatest international game ever played. And it was made possible by this one, which was almost as good. That's enough to earn it the top spot on our list, narrowly ahead of Sittler's fakeout.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.
Expect the Red Wings playoff streak to end this season, especially if they don't start giving more ice time to their best players.
THN is rolling out its 2016-17 Team Previews daily, in reverse order of 2015-16 overall finish, until the start of the season.
THN's Prediction: 5th in Atlantic
Stanley Cup odds: 32-1
Key additions: Frans Nielsen, C; Thomas Vanek, LW; Steve Ott, C
Key departures: Pavel Datsyuk, C; Brad Richards, C; Kyle Quincey, D; Joakim Andersson, C
-Does the playoff streak end this year? Yes, 25 years will be the capper. The Red Wings have simply lost too much top-end talent the past few years, and Pavel Datsyuk’s Russian retirement surely seals their fate. Without Datsyuk, Detroit returns just one player who tallied more than 45 points last year: captain Henrik Zetterberg (a team-leading 50 points). Thomas Vanek sure isn’t going to move mountains, and Frans Nielsen’s impact will be more in the two-way department. Plus, Tomas Jurco may start the season on the shelf while recovering from a back injury – and he was a guy they needed to make a leap this year.
-Who will be the most effective defenseman? With Niklas Kronwall’s career on the wrong side of a tipping point, it might be Danny DeKeyser. The Red Wings had incredibly stratified usage when it came to their blueline last year, and DeKeyser played the toughest minutes of all. Second place went to Kyle Quincey, but he’s gone. At least one more salvageable season from Kronwall would go a very long way, but he already has a knee problem that kept him from the World Cup.
-What can we expect from Dylan Larkin? Continued ascent, for sure. Larkin labored in the second half of his rookie campaign, and coming off one year in college (where the game schedule is light) may have been a factor. But now the splendid young center knows what to expect, and the speed he used as jet fuel during all-star weekend festivities will be used even more effectively thanks to a full summer of training. Once Larkin really takes hold, he’s the offensive heir apparent to the outgoing Zetterberg/Datsyuk alliance.
Player projections are based off a three-year version of Game Score (which you can read about here) weighted by recency and repeatability and then translated to its approximate win value (Game Score Value Added or GSVA). Team strength was derived from the combined value of every player’s GSVA on a team. The season was then simulated 10,000 times factoring in team strength, opponent strength and rest.
This team was once the model franchise, but they’ve been in a serious tailspin over the past few seasons, and with the departure of Pavel Datsyuk, continuing their playoff streak will be a tall order.
The biggest issue in Detroit is minute distribution. Too much ice-time is given to guys who don’t really help the team and not enough is given to their best players.
Last season, Luke Glendening averaged 14:34 minutes per game while Tomas Tatar averaged 14:21. Some might argue that Tatar wasn’t producing enough to earn more minutes (what’s Glendening’s excuse?), but his 5-on-5 points per 60 stayed constant from the 2014-15 to 2015-16 season and his primary points per 60 actually increased. He’s also one of the team’s best play drivers. Glendening doesn’t produce or drive play, but somehow earned more ice-time. That simply shouldn’t be happening.
That’s not all. Gustav Nyquist, one of the team’s best offensive threats, was getting middle-six ice-time while Justin Abdelkader, a third-liner on any other team, got first line minutes. On defense, Brendan Smith was the team’s 6th or 7th D-man on most nights, despite being the team’s best play-driving D-man. That possession ability translated into the team’s highest 5-on-5 goals percentage, but who cares about goals, right?
Here’s a simple experiment showcasing just how inefficient Detroit’s lineup structuring is. Let’s pretend every team gave their best players (according to this model) the most ice-time and their worst the least. Their best player would get an average No. 1 forward ice-time, their second best an average No. 2 and so on. This would create an “optimal” lineup according to Game Score, with the difference between their actual lineup showing how efficient it is.
Here are the results of that (which don’t factor if a 13th forward or 7th D-man are better than someone else in the lineup). Detroit is last. By a lot.
This model is by no means perfect, but if you’ve been tracking each of these previews you’d see it generally does a decent job of valuing the best players on each team. That’s not to say this is how every lineup should be constructed, there’s other things to consider like chemistry, fatigue and effort level. But when a team is as inefficient as the Red Wings, it’s definitely a problem worth looking into.
Detroit likely doesn’t make the playoffs this year, and if their ice-time deployment is anything like last year’s they’ll only have themselves to blame.