Game One Proves Red Wings are a Dangerous Threat

By Brian Bobal

The Red Wings are the dark horses of the East.

The Red Wings are the dark horses of the East. (Photo by Greg M. Cooper / USA Today Sports)

After an injury plagued season, the Red Wings were able to clinch a playoff berth for the 23rd consecutive season, the longest streak in the NHL. Their first round opponent? The President’s Trophy winning Boston Bruins.

Describing the Red Wings’ season as injury plagued would be a huge understatement. They had the second most man games lost in the league behind the Pittsburgh Penguins. Darren Helm missed 40 games. Pavel Datsyuk, arguably the best two-way forward in the NHL, missed 37 games. Henrik Zetterberg has missed 37 regular season games and will not return to the Wings’ until very late in the first round at the very earliest.

The fact that the Wings were able to lock up a playoff spot with the laundry list of injuries they had is remarkable. Continue reading →

The Implosion of the Edmonton Oilers

By Brian Bobal

The Flames torched the Oilers 8-1 on Saturday. (Photo by Bruce Edwards/Edmonton Journal)

The Flames torched the Oilers 8-1 on Saturday. (Photo by Bruce Edwards/Edmonton Journal)

It’s hard to believe that eight years ago, the Edmonton Oilers were one win away from winning the Stanley Cup as they fell to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 in the decisive seventh game. Since that defeat in 2006, they have not made the playoffs. In fact, if they stay in their current position, they will have finished last in the Western Conference three times in the last five seasons. Yet, the rebuild continues.

It’s surprising that a team with a storied history such as theirs can be a complete mess. They have stockpiled top pick after top pick and they still show no signs of crawling out of the depths of the NHL. No event can describe the frustration of both the team and it’s fans than the events that took place in their game against the Calgary Flames on March 22.

Tied at one under five minutes into the second period, the Flames lit the lamp four times in a span of 3:05. They went on to add three more in an 8-1 rout in Edmonton. The score wasn’t the only thing that went apart in the game.

Continue reading →

Atlantic Division Deadline Recap

By Brian Bobal

Here’s a look at what moves teams in the Atlantic Division made in the week before yesterday’s deadline.

Boston Bruins

Meszaros will help bolster the Bruins' defense. (Photo by Paul Bereswill / Getty Images)

Meszaros will help bolster the Bruins’ defense. (Photo by Paul Bereswill / Getty Images)

Acquisitions: Andrej Meszaros, Blake Parlett

Departures: Carter Camper, 2014 3rd-round pick

Outlook: The Bruins went into the deadline looking to boost their blueline after Dennis Seidenberg’s injury. Meszaros is a player that will help them do that. While he won’t replace Seidenberg, he will help give them some depth and a veteran presence to play along with youngsters on defense Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski, and Dougie Hamilton, to name a few.

Grade: B Continue reading →

NHL Modifies Penalty to Kovalchuk Contract

By Brian Bobal

Outside of one season, Kovalchuk's four season stint with the Devils was a disaster. (Photo by Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

Kovalchuk’s four season stint with the Devils was a disaster, except for their run to the Cup Final in 2012. (Photo by Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

On Thursday, the NHL announced that it has modified the sanctions it placed on the Devils for signing superstar Ilya Kovalchuk in the summer of 2010.

When Kovalchuk became a free agent in July of 2010, the Devils signed him to a 17-year $102 million contract, which would’ve been the longest contract in NHL history, only to have the NHL nullify it, claiming it circumvented the salary cap.

The NHLPA filed a grievance and the dilemma dragged on until an independent arbiter ruled in favor of the NHL.

The NHL then went on to slap the Devils organization with a $3 million dollar fine, docked them a 3rd round draft pick in 2011, and, worst of all, a 1st round draft pick. The Devils had an option to forfeit their 1st round pick in one of the four drafts after the fine was dealt. Continue reading →

Trade Season Kicks Off With a Blast

By Brian Bobal

Miller was impressive in his debut with St. Louis. (Photo by Ralph Freso / AP)

Miller was impressive in his debut with St. Louis. (Photo by Ralph Freso / AP)

The St. Louis Blues took a major leap into Stanley Cup contention on Friday acquiring former Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller and Steve Ott from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a 2015 1st round pick, and a conditional 2016 3rd round pick. Buffalo also retained $1.75 million of Miller’s contract according to CapGeek.

If there was one weakness the Blues had, it was in their goaltending. Halak and Brian Elliott have been a strong duo for St. Louis during the regular-season in recent seasons, but their play has fallen off once they reach the playoffs. Now they have a proven goaltender who has shown he can perform on a big stage. Don’t forget Ryan Miller was the MVP in the Vancouver Olympics, winning a silver medal. Continue reading →

Time for Brodeur, Devils to Part Ways?

By Brian Bobal

Are we entering the final days of Brodeur being a Devil? (Photo by Getty Images)

Are we entering the final days of Brodeur being a Devil? (Photo by Getty Images)

Is there an easy way to approach one of the greatest goaltenders of all time, a guy who has guarded your net for 20 years and set NHL records in virtually every statistical goaltending category, and tell him it’s time to go? If there is, then Lou Lamoriello would love to hear it. Lamoriello has until the March 5 trade deadline to make one of the biggest decisions in his tenure as Devils GM.

Martin Brodeur’s career is heading into the sunset, whether he likes to think it or not. The Devils know he’s not their No. 1 netminder now that Cory Schneider is there.  When the season started, the two competed for the starting job. Both put together some streaks of solid play. Lately, though, Schneider has proved to be the best guy to give the Devils a chance to win. If it wasn’t for a lackluster offense, Schneider would be amongst the league leaders in wins. Continue reading →

The Ducks Look to Get Back on Track

By Brian Bobal

Captain Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks need to shake off this little skid before it turns bad. (Photo by Reed Saxon / AP)

Captain Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks need to shake off this little skid before it turns bad. (Photo by Reed Saxon / AP)

Even though they went into the Olympic break losing six of their last 11 games, the Ducks still hold the best record in the entire league, and they have a 23 point lead on the team holding the last playoff spot. But with 22 games left for them, they cannot let this recent play continue.

Anaheim was definitely one team that needed the two week break. It gives them a chance to refocus themselves for the stretch run, although six of their players are still competing in Sochi. Once the season kicks back up, they have a chance to do that. Continue reading →

At Olympic Break, Roy Leads Jack Adams Race

By Brian Bobal

Roy's first season behind the bench has been spectacular. (Photo by Jack Dempsey / AP)

Roy’s first season behind the bench has been spectacular. (Photo by Jack Dempsey / AP)

Once the Olympics are over this weekend, the NHL will be in the home stretch of the regular season. This is the time of year where the trophy races heat up. Here is a look at who’s in the lead for the Jack Adams trophy, given out to the coach of the year.

Patrick Roy 

After spending eight seasons as the coach and GM of the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, Roy was named head coach of the Avalanche on May 12, 2013. He took over a team that has missed the playoffs three consecutive times, and finished last in the Northwest Division and last in the Western Conference last season going 16-25-7 in 48 games.

Right from the get-go, we had a taste of how this season’s Avs would be different under Roy. Continue reading →

NHL Expansion Team to Seattle in 2015?

By Brian Bobal

All signs point towards a Seattle team coming in 2015.

All signs point towards a Seattle team coming in 2015.

There’s no denying the NHL had expansion on its mind when they went with new division alignments starting with this season. The pacific northwest became the most talked about US region that could possibly get one of two expansion teams. Now, there seems to be some traction to get an NHL team in Seattle.

According to the Seattle Times, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Seattle would be an intriguing market for an expansion team.

“I think we have a belief in the Pacific Northwest. It being good hockey territory,” said Daly. “So, we think the possibility is there.”

The Times also reports that there have been ongoing negotiations between possible ownership groups and the NHL involving the cost of expansion fees. The talks have been progressing so much that it is rumored the NHL may be ready to make an announcement after the Sochi Olympics are over.

Hopefully the Thunderbirds will stay if Seattle gets an NHL team.

Hopefully the Thunderbirds will stay if Seattle gets an NHL team.

There was a proposal for a brand new arena, put forward by Chris Hansen, in February 2012 that called for a $490 million facility to be built in the Sodo neighborhood of the city, which is about a mile south of Safeco Field and Century Link Field. So far, everything has been slowly progressing

With the loudest fan base in football cheering on the Seahawks, there is potential for a large following for a hockey team. It also helps that Seattle is about two hours away from the US-Canadian border, which will pull some Canadian fans down into Seattle to go to some games.

The city’s current hockey team is the Seattle Thunderbirds, a WHL junior team who plays at the ShoWare Center, which seats only 6,025. Their average attendance last season was just above 4,000.

Can Dallas Snap Postseason Drought?

By Brian Bobal

Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have been stellar Stars this season. (Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have been stellar Stars this season. (Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

It’s been a while since the Stars made the playoffs. Their last playoff series was back in 2008, a Western Conference Final defeat at the hands of the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Detroit Red Wings. After a solid start to the season, they began to fall back. Lately, they have been picking it up. Going 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, the Stars have turned some heads and own the final wild card spot at the Olympic break.

They do have several teams nipping at their heels, but is this the season they make it back to the playoffs?

The 12th best offensive team in the league has been led up front by Tyler Seguin, who is on pace to have the best season of his career notching 24 goals and 32 assists, tying him for 12th in league scoring with 56 points. The entire top line for Dallas has been stellar with captain Jamie Benn and rookie Valeri Nichushkin serving as Seguin’s wingers, combining for 35 goals and 44 assists. All three have a combined +/- of +35, very impressive. Nichushkin ranks seventh in the league in rookie scoring with 28 points.
Continue reading →

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