Tag Archives: joe thornton

The “New” NHL Really Didn’t Work, but Fans Seem to Like This One Better.

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Gary Bettman: "It will be great." Or something...

Back in 2005, shortly after the lockout, Gary Bettman made the following promise:

“When we return, you will notice the difference,” Bettman said at news conference following the end of the year-long work stoppage. “The league promises that there will be zero tolerance for hooking, holding, tripping, slashing, cross-checking and interference. Players who use their stick or free hand to grab and slow down an opponent will be penalized. We promise to open up the game. We must pit an end to those tactics that take the speed and skill away from our great game.”

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The High-Flying 1980s

It was a refreshing statement, a statement that all hockey lovers wanted to hear. The game, slowed to a crawl by the mid-ice trap and the left-wing lock, needed to be put back to the way it was in the high-flying 1980s, when Gretzky and Messier and Goring and Bossy and Hawerchuk and Fleury skated and scored and lit up the night.  That was the time before the game brought up a load of fast, skilled players who were being hooked, held and obstructed to the detriment of the spectacle.

It was going to be the dawn of the “New NHL.”

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Calling the game: Back when guys like Kerry Fraser actually had their arms up on occasion.

It was time to allow the referees to call the game the way the rulebook intended. There weren’t any changes to the basic rules of hockey. The league simply said it was going to send a directive to officials that would dictate a crackdown on all of the obstruction tactics that coaches were using, well, because they were allowed to use them. It was a great day for the game and for those fans who wanted speed, skill and excitement, not to mention some goal scoring, to return.

Heck, the commissioner and the owners even took the centre red line out of play; opening up the neutral zone and eliminating the old two-line pass offside. They gave smaller, faster players room to display their skills. This was going to be great. It even prompted a discussion about ending fighting in hockey.

It was a nice experiment and it almost worked. There was a lot of scoring for a couple of seasons and small, skilled players did have some room to dangle.

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Remember when Joe Thornton scored 100 points?

Trouble was, the officials went back to their old ways because despite the opinion of TSN and the Hockey News, the players never really did adapt to the new rules. There were too many penalties and nobody wanted that. After 2006-07, when seven players scored at least 100 points and 10 players scored 40 goals, the league reverted to everything that made the early 2000s deathly dull.

The game also became more dangerous. It took five full years to come up with 10 players who scored 100 points or more after the 2006-07 season, while in the meantime, concussions and suspensions grew concurrently. Scoring went down, serious head injuries went up and all the while, players got bigger and even faster and even tougher.

The league’s referees have changed the game, as well. All those hooking, holding and interference calls that were made in 2005-06 and to some extent in 2006-07, have long since been ignored. Referees don’t “call” games, they manage them and while most obstruction violations are now just part of the game, this year’s playoffs have already produced a jump in outright violence that hasn’t been seen in playoff hockey since the Slap Shot years of the 1970s.

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The Hansons! Good old time hockey. "Do you know Eddie Shore?"

In fact, on Tuesday, the following announcements were made:

1) “Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw has been suspended for three games for charging Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith during Game 2 of the teams’ Western Conference Quarterfinal playoff series Saturday night in Phoenix, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety (I love that one: ‘the NHL’s Dept, of Player Safety’) announced.”

2) “The National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety has announced that Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals has been scheduled for a disciplinary hearing as a result of his cross-check to Boston Bruins forward Rich Peverley at the end of Monday’s game. Backstrom was assessed a match penalty on the play.”

3) “Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom will have a hearing with the Department of Player Safety on Tuesday afternoon for the match penalty he received after cross-checking Boston’s Rich Peverley in the waning seconds of the Bruins’ 4-3 Game 3 victory Monday night at Verizon Center.”

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The Coyotes Mike Smith: What Andrew Shaw brought to the game.

All of this is a result of some chippy, nasty, old-time hockey. Players don’t like each other and none of them have any respect for their opponents (the NHLPA really needs to look at more than just its members’ financial issues). These guys are big and strong and tough and they are proving that when the officials don’t make the calls, they’ll take the game into their own hands. They are also proving that if someone gets in their way, they are big enough, strong enough and hard-nosed enough to go right through him.It’s a fast, collision sport and when something is as important as the Stanley Cup is on the line, the players will do what needs to be done. If officiating that is dictated by the rulebook as it’s written is the order of the day, the players will see no need to take action. But when the officials start “letting it go,” like they did for so many years, the law of the jungle becomes the norm.

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Dougie's boy Colton: Based on what we're watching, he'll be back in the NHL one day soon.

So much for all the people who are calling for an end to fighting in the NHL. Before there is an end to fighting, my old pal Colton Orr will be back in the league.

As writer and producer Paul Thomas Anderson expressed it so succinctly, “There will be blood.” And, at the rate they’re going, there definitely will be.

And based on the talk, the full buildings and the endless media coverage, everybody seems to love it.



The NHL Playoff Difference Makers

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Steven Stamkos

TAMPA – On a night when there were significantly more Toronto Maple Leafs fans inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum than Tampa Bay Lightning fans (yes, it’s the NHL of the 2010s), you have to wonder if the Lightning has the jam to reach the post-season.

After losing to the Leafs this week, the answer is, “Probably not.” The Lightning are in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, seven points back of the eighth-place Washington Capitals and still have a slight chance to reach the post-season – very slight after losing 3-1 to the Leafs on Wednesday. Amazingly, the Lightning also have the only 50-goal scorer in the NHL and tend to win a lot of games at home. But with an inability to win on the road, you get the sense that Tampa won’t be around by April 8.

The National Hockey League playoff competitors will be determined on or before April 7. That’s the last night of the 2011-12 NHL Marathon and the last chance any team will have to reach the Stanley Cup tournament.

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Likely NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin

Now, a big scorer like Steven Stamkos could chance all that. Stamkos is tied with Evgeni Malkin in scoring and leads everybody in the league with 50 goals (Malkin is second with 38). If the Lightning could get some kind of production – any kind of production – from their second, third and fourth lines, this team might make a run. But than again without NHL-level goaltending and with three AHL defensemen in the lineup, the Lightning probably aren’t good enough despite Stamkos’ presence.

Still, Stamkos is one of the players who could make a difference down the stretch.

There are now four weekends remaining in the season. In the East, there are 11 teams either jockeying for position or fighting for the final playoff spots. In the West, St. Louis looks like a first-place finisher, but 10 other teams are either battling for position or desperately grasping for a playoff spot.

In a league with so many teams still in the hunt, the final few weeks of the season should produce some dramatic play. It certainly will produce its share of heroes.

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Jarome Iginla

And with that in mind, we’re going to look into our crystal ball and try to determine which players will make a difference over the final month of the season. As fantasy players we’re always looking  to take a few shots in the dark and of course, we always find ourselves depending on the best players to BE the best players when the chips are down. It’s all about points in the playoffs and we need the guys who are going to produce.

Well, the chips are down and these 10 NHL players will have the biggest impact on who makes the playoffs, who doesn’t and where those teams finish (Note: Because they are already locks, we will ignore the stars of the St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators):

1. Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames: He is still the face of the franchise. Iginla has 30 goals and 31 assists and while Olli Jokinen, Alex Tanguay and Curtis Glencross have all had a lot to do with the Flames run to the post-season, the team will pass or fail with Iginla.

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Ondrej Pavelec

2. Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets: A second round draft pick out of Kladno, Czech Republic, Pavelec has been great at home and shaky on the road. So far this season, he has a goals against average at home of 2.24 and a save percentage of .925. On the road, his GAA is 3.38 and his save percentage is .896. He must go blind in other buildings. Still, he’s the favorite of the Winnipeg fans when it comes to Jets MVP. If he learns to play on the road, the Jets will make the playoffs.

3. Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche: The 23-year-old Russian has 23 wins this season and is 8-0 in shootouts this year. It doesn’t matter what he does during regulation as long as he can get the Avalanche (who are 9-0 in shootouts this season) past overtime. If he does, the Avs will make the playoffs.

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Joe Thornton

4. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks: He’s the team’s leading scorer with 16 goals and 51 assists. He’s never been a big goal scorer and he’ll soon pass his point total from last year, but he’s nowhere near the 114 points he got in 2006-07. If Thornton can light a fire under this Sharks team, they should prevail and reach the post-season. If he can’t, they’ll be playing Pebble Beach in mid-April.

5. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: Even though the Kings are 33-25-12 and battling for the final playoff spot in the West, Quick has been among the top goaltenders all season. He’s 29-19-11, but has a monster save percentage of .929 and a goals against average of just 2.00. The Kings can’t score, so Quick is going to have to get them past San Jose, Calgary and Colorado if L.A. is to get a sniff of the playoffs.

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Alexander Ovechkin

6. Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals: What can you say about Ovie? When he plays well, the Caps win. When he doesn’t, they lose. He has 29 goals and 24 assists and is having the worst offensive year of his career. And yet, if the Capitals are to reach the post-season, it’s the 26-year-old Russian superstar who will get them there.

7. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres: Miller is 9-1-2 in his last 12 games and as a result, the Sabres are back in the playoff hunt. After a slow start, he’s now 25-18-6 with a .915 save percentage and a 2.60 goals against average. If he stays hot, Buffalo could surprise.

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Erik Karlsson

8. Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: Now in his third season, the 21-year-old Swede is being discussed as a Norris Trophy candidate. He leads all NHL defensemen in scoring (seventh overall in scoring) with 19 goals and 51 assists and he’s a terrific plus-15. Karlsson’s break-out year is one of the biggest reasons Ottawa is just two points behind second-place/first-place Boston in the East/Northeast.

9. Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars: He has 25 goals and 39 assists and is the biggest offensive threat on a Dallas team that tends to think defense first. He’s the 19th overall scorer in the NHL and if Dallas is going to finish third in the West, Eriksson is the key.

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Mike Smith

10. Mike Smith, G, Phoenix Coyotes: A 6-foot-4, 220-pound goaltender who struggled so badly with Tampa last year that he was sent to Norfolk of the AHL, Smith is 29, experienced and never quite reached the level that most NHL insiders believed he could. This year, however, he’s been brilliant. He has a 2.34 goals against average and a .925 save percentage and he’s won 31 games. Who would have thought? If he continues to play this well, the Coyotes will make the playoffs.



Why Worry? We Didn’t. Canada Will Win Gold.

Did we not tell you? There was nothing to worry about. This Canadian men’s hockey team at the Games of the 21st Winter Olymooad is about as good as it gets.

It only took a little controlled scrimmage against Germany on Tuesday night to get all the ducks in line.

After what happened on Wednesday night, I just hope our Canadian boys are practicing their podium dance.

For the first time in 50 years, Canada has beaten Russia in an Olympic hockey game. The last time Canada beat Russia in an Olympic hockey game, it was Squaw Valley in 1960. However, for what we got to watch Wednesday night, it was well worth the wait.

Corey Perry scored twice as Team Canada drilled Russia 7-3 in a quarterfinal match that had a lot of Canadians worried. But why? This was a dominating performance by the Canadians who outshot their old rivals 42-28. Canada will now meet Slovakia — that’s right Slovakia — in the semifinal on Friday night. Slovakia managed only 14 shots on goal but still beat defending gold medalist Sweden 4-3 in the late game Wednesday, a game that ended on Thursday morning.

In the other semifinal, the United States will face Finland. The Canada-Slovakia semi goes tomorrow at 8:30 live on 92-CITI-FM.

Well, you know what? If Sidney Crosby, Chris Pronger, Joe Thornton and Scott Niedermayer show up for this Olympic hockey series on Friday, there is no telling what Canada will do to its opposition.

On Wednesday, during that 7-3 win over the Russians, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Toews, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaff, Shea Weber and Duncan Keith, the younger players on the team, were absolutely outstanding as Canada moved into the semifinal. If the the big, veteran stars show up and play to their potential this weekend, no other team will be close.

When you consider that on Tuesday night, Head Coach Mike Babcock was able to work out his line matchups, get his team some confidence with Roberto Luongo in goal and just allow his boys to go out put up an eight-spot in that game against Germany, it was almost a lock that in 24 hours the Canadians would follow that up with another big win. They’re on a roll now and that roll started on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, as we expected, Canada blew out the Russians and now our country’s best hockey players have a nice, clean skate to the gold. Stop worrying, friends.

Here’s my only prediction: It will be Canada-Finland on Sunday afternoon.



The Sports Media Never Disappoints. Another Week of Stunning B.S.

I promised myself I would not criticize the mainstream media this week. Like far too many of THEM, I was becoming a one-trick pony.

Then the bull cupcakes hit the industrial-sized fan and we were blasted by a another week of utter insanity.

So with apologies to those who think I’m getting a little obsessed with this crap, here’s another look at another week of the mainstream media’s crazy talk.

1) The Winnipeg Football Club sent out a news release on Monday announcing that ticket renewals were running at a 97 per cent pace for 2010. And very few of those renewals had come in since the firing of Mike Kelly late last week.

Nice job. Good for the football club. Is it true? Who knows? But if it is, it means that almost every word written by our local papers during the last football season was a fabrication.

We all read this stuff every day. Both papers made it sound as if Kelly’s presence would mean that every single Bomber fan would cancel his season tickets. According to the papers, the fans all hated Mike Kelly so much, they were never going to go back to another game. They were never going to buy another ticket, period.

We were told that most of the Bomber board was so worried that if Kelly stuck around, the club might never sell another ticket again.

Well, apparently all the people screaming about never buying another ticket, never bought one in the first place. 97 per cent renewals?! That’s damn good.

If that’s true, only one thought comes to mind here: Liar liar pants on fire.

And we’re not referring to the Bombers. We’re referring to the newspapers. If the 97 per cent renewal thing is true, why would you believe a word written in a Winnipeg newspaper? The entire Kelly mess was the creation of a group of people so embarrassed by the fact the local football coach called “B.S.” on ‘em, that they waged war. The papers won, but apparanetly they did it with what we now see as outright lies.

2) There has not been a major trade in the NHL this year and there are fewer major trades every year, thanks in no small way to the NHL’s salary cap. However, if you read the Winnipeg Sun on Sunday, you’d think teams were making deals daily.

Sun Media’s Bruce Garrioch, who writes in Ottawa, now has every player in the NHL with the exception of Joe Thornton, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin on the trading block. This weekend, the Sun had Sheldon Souray, Vincent Lecavalier, Teemu Selanne and Eric Staal on the road to different teams, while almost every starting goalie in the NHL was apparently heading to the Philadelphia Flyers. Just for fun, the Ottawa Sun added Philly’s Jeff Carter and Edmonton’s Shawn Horcoff and Lubomir Visnovsky to the list of players about to be moved, “Any second. Maybe now. Tomorrow. Next week. We’re sure of it. Unnamed sources told us. Who nows?

Oh, poppycock.

Sun Media’s NHL trade rumours have gone way past just the rumour stage. It’s now reached the level of completely silly.

3) The Associated Press is convinced that Brett Favre and Brad Childress dislike each other and Favre is righteously angry at Childress because the coach even suggested that he might take Favre out of a game.

The game was Sunday night’s debacle against Carolina, a 26-7 loss  in which there wasn’t a member of the offensive line who could block the Panthers’ Julius Peppers — or anybody else for that matter. Favre was getting killed in there and Childress said on Monday that he suggested to his quarterback that it might be safer if he came out of the game.

Favre didn’t like the idea, the two talked about it and Favre stayed in. And then he nearly got his head ripped off by a Carolina defensive line that had a field day with a lethargic Vikings O-line.

Monday, I listened to the Childress news conference and the coach made an interesting point. He said: “We don’t do anything in a vacuum. On the sidelines we talk a bout a lot of things. In terms of my question to Bret, it was something that was talked through. I wish I could remember how it finished.”

It was no big deal, but the AP, along with a few other outlets, wanted to turn it into a big deal. Just like they turned “Unhappy Randy Moss hates Tom Brady,” into a story that wasn’t a story two weeks ago.

In guess you missed it, Moss was absolutely tremendous last week in a 17-10 Patriots win in Buffalo and the mainstream media was wrong. Again.

I guess when you’re not selling any papers and your business model has virtually collapsed, manufacturing stories works a lot better than the truth.

4) Because I’m always criticizing, I must admit that I go on daily searches looking for good stuff. Found a nice rant yesterday afternoon on ESPN radio, when host Kevin Cowherd went after a caller who suggested the National League was more exciting than the American League because the NL does not have the designated hitter.

Cowherd went nuts. And in a good way. He asked the caller why the NL is better without a DH and the guy responded, “the strategy,” and Cowherd echoed everything I’ve been thinking for years.

“When baseball was in trouble in the 1990s, what saved it?” Cowherd asked, “strategy or home runs? You don’t even have to answer that.

“Home runs saved baseball. McGwire and Sosa saved baseball. Strategy? Nobody goes to baseball games to watch strategy and don’t start handing me this ‘baseball traditionalists’ stuff either. Nobody cares about strategy. Strategy doesn’t make you hot. Home runs make you hot. The old double-switch. I love the old double-switch. Oh, that’s exciting. Your girlfriend gets so hot after the double-switch that she says, ‘Honey I’m so hot, I have to go back to the hotel right now.’ What a crock!

“Home runs saved baseball. Two-out bunts by pitchers didn’t save baseball.”

Then he got personal with the caller, who just happened to be from St. Louis.

“Even in St. Louis, the only person who cares about strategy is Tony LaRussa and yet his best friend is Mark McGwire. His best friend on the field right now is Albert Pujols, a guy who hits home runs.  David Eckstein is strategy. Yeah, everybody loves David Eckstein. The biggest heroes in St. Louis are Albert Pujols, Mark McGwire and Stan Musial — all power guys! Strategy nearly killed baseball. Home runs saved it. I’d rather watch a DH hit than a pitcher hit every single day. And there is nothing more boring than the old double-switch. Baseball is entertainment, not homework.”

Kevin Cowherd is a our media monster of the week.



NHL Playoffs Round 2 Predictions: The Habs could not have written a better script.

Carey Price NHL Playoffs Round 2 Predictions: The Habs could not have written a better script.It was Minnesota Wild assistant general manager Tom Thompson who said, "The first round of the playoffs is the most intense two weeks of any hockey season. 

 

"This is the time when seventh- and eighth-place teams can ambush first- and second-place teams because they have nothing to lose. No pressure, no worries and then bam, they can take out a team that might have finished with 30 more points because the better teams are looking too far down the road.

 

"This is the greatest time of year to be a hockey fan and the toughest to be a hockey coach."

 

Or, to be fair, Tom, the toughest time of the year to be a hockey prognosticator.

 

We were very fortunate (or unlucky if you consider that overtime penalty call in Game 7 between Washington and Philadelphia that resulted in the Flyers winning goal), to select five of eight series correctly in the first round.

 

We had Montreal, Pittsburgh, the Rangers, Detroit and San Jose to advance to the second round and we were correct. We also had Washington, Minnesota and Anaheim and we were dead wrong.

 

However, we did believe that if you selected lots of Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens in your playoff hockey pool, you’d make a lot of money. And that holds true through the second round. 

 

Of course, the second round is a little bit odd. Montreal won four of four against Philly this year and have now faced two teams in the first two rounds of the playoffs that were 0-12 combined against the Habs. Guy Carbonneau could not have written a better playoff script for his club.

 

The same can said for Detroit who went 4-0 against Colorado this year. 

 

Meanwhile, the Rangers were 5-3 against Pittsburgh and Dallas was  4-2-2 against San Jose and, yet, we like the teams that lost the season series.

 

It’s been a great two weeks already and the next two weeks could be even better. Let’s take a closer look…

 

THE EAST

 

No. 1 MONTREAL CANADIENS  (Eliminated Boston in seven games vs. No. 6 PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (Eliminated Washington in seven games)

 

The Habs were a very interesting team this season. They led the NHL with a 24.1 percent success rate on the power play during the regular season and then went three-for-33 (9.1 per cent) against the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs. If the Habs get the power play going, look out.

 

Not only did the Habs take all four games from Philly this year, they’ve won six straight from the Flyers going back to 2006. This year, Montreal outscored Philadelphia 15-6.

 

Rookie goaltender Carey Price had two shutouts in the opening round against Boston including one in Game 7 and appears to have passed his first test as the heir to the rookie goaltending throne shared by Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy in Montreal.  

The Flyers will look to the likes of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Joffrey Lupul and Daniel Briere to carry them against Montreal. Not only did Briere have six goals and 11 points in the opening round series against Washington, but he anchors the No. 2 power play in the league, right behind Montreal.

And then there is Vinny Prospal. After having a tremendous series against Washington, Prospal should enjoy playing against Montreal. He had four goals in four games against the Habs this season.

The Flyers will also hope that goalie Martin Biron is just as good in Round 2 as he was in Round 1 against the Caps.

History has very little to do with this series. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs, Habs head coach Guy Carbonneau and GM Bob Gainey were actually in uniform for the Canadiens.

Montreal in six games.

 

No. 2 PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (Eliminated Ottawa in four straight games) vs. No. 5 NEW YORK RANGERS (Eliminated New Jersey in five games)

 

The Rangers had plenty of success against these high-scoring Penguins this season and Scott Gomez led the way with three goals and four assists in eight games.

 

The reason for New York’s success against Pittsburgh was not the play of Gomez, Chris Drury, Brendan Shanahan or Jaromir Jagr, but the presence of Madison Square Garden where the Blueshirts won all four games in 2007-08.

 

Perhaps the biggest difference in this series is the goaltending. It will be the talented but inconsistent Marc-Andre Fleury for Pittsburgh against Vezina Trophy candidate Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers. And you have to give the edge to Lundqvist who held the Penguins to three goals or fewer on seven occasions in 2007-08 and is 12-6-3 in his career against Pittsburgh.

 

It will also be interesting to watch againg superstar Jaromir Jagr against Sid the Kid. Is this Jagr’s last hurrah or the Kid’s next step toward his first Cup? 

 

This will also be a brother vs,. brother series. Pittsburgh centre Jordan Staal will be up against Rangers defenceman Marc Staal.

Pittsburgh in six games. 

 

THE WEST

 

No. 1 DETROIT RED WINGS (Eliminated Nashville in six games) vs.  No. 6 COLORADO AVALANCHE (Eliminated Minnesota in six games)

 

Pretty hard not to like Detroit in this series. The Wings are big, fast, skilled and strong with plenty of experience. And now that Chris Osgood is the starter, they have legitimate playoff goaltending, too.

 

Osgood went 2-0 with a 0.39 goals against average in two games in Round 1. He had a shutout and stopped 53 of 54 shots against Nashville.

 

However, the Avalanche is a team that really wasn’t itself during the season. Joe Sakic played only 44 games. Peter Forsberg signed late in the season. Ryan Smyth played only 55 games and Milan Hejduk missed 16 games with various bumps and bruises. It was because of all these injuries (and absences) that Detroit shut out Colorado in the last three meetings of the season.

 

Right now, Detroit’s shutout streak of Colorado stands at 214 minutes and four seconds. In fact, Detroit hasn’t lost to Colorado in regulation time in three seasons. 

 

This season, only rookie Cody McLeod of Binscarth, Man., and sophomore Marek Svatos scored for Colorado against Detroit this season as the Wings outscored the Avs 11-2.

 

I think the Red Wings will win this series and can win the Cup.

 

Detroit in six games.

 

No. 2 SAN JOSE SHARKS (49-22-10) vs. No. 5 DALLAS STARS (Eliminated Anaheim in six games)

 

Dallas had the best of San Jose during the regular season and the Stars looked particularly good in their opening round against defending champion Anaheim.

 

However, San Jose netminder Evgeni Nabokov, a Vezina Trophy candidate, has been playing pretty well in the post-season after going 2-3-2 against the Stars with a 2.56 goals against average during the season. 

 

Dallas outscored the Stars 24-21 in eight regular season games so this series is closer than Dallas’s 4-2-2 season record might indicate. However, Stars netminder Marty Turco has never played better. He allowed only 12 goals in six games against Anaheim and played in all eight regular season games against San Jose.

 

With Brad Richards playing well and with Stephane Robidas running the show, the Stars are playing as well as they have all year. However, something tells me Joe Thornton is going to step up in the second round.

 

San Jose in seven games.