Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How to get into salary cap trouble

Here is my analysis on how NHL teams can get into salary cap trouble under the new CBA:

1. Sign a second line center to first line center dollars for long years
2. Sign another second line center to first line center dollars for long years
3. Sign an aged past-his-prime defenseman to elite defenseman dollars for long years
4. Trade for an RFA scoring forward that you won't be able to afford if he produces as desired (and if he doesn't produce, you can afford him, but why sign him?)
5. Rely on that RFA and another RFA second line center as your second line, practically ensuring that both will put up numbers in their RFA season
6. Assume that the economy and the Canadian dollar will keep going up and up and up and up and that you'll be able to sign additional players to big dollars
7. Be forced to make a stupid move to make up for the losses that you brought upon yourself

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Habs beat up on Bruins

Last night's game wasn't televised but from what I read the Bruins couldn't skate with the Canadiens. As a Habs fan this is nothing new. Ever since I could remember, Montreal has always had Boston's number. It's something one just can't explain but, no matter who is playing, they seem to be a team we've have little trouble beating, especially when it counts.

It's got me thinking, what is a team that your club has historically had a lot of success with?

If there are any Devil's followers there's no need to reply. Habs just can't ever seem to be able to figure out Brodeur. It's like he has an aura about him which turns the Habs sticks into pieces of wet cardboard.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Today's lineup for the Rangers


Orr, Sjostrom and Voros out for the Rangers. Given that this is their last tune-up for the first games this weekend, I think it is a pretty clear indication that Sjostrom is done and that Orr will be a healthy scratch against skill teams. Given Voros's physical style, they might have just wanted to give him a day off, but I'm not sure. I think this is a last chance for Prucha to prove he can get it done. He's not great defensively, so it doesn't really make sense to keep him if he is not making the top two lines. Maybe they are giving him one last chance to prove he can play both ends in a 3rd line role. Saturday, I think you will see Voros on the 2nd line, Dawes back to the 3rd line and Prucha out. You heard it here first.

PS: Looks like the Rangers are going to be down 2-0 after the first.

Habs lineup

Here's the Habs line up as I see it that will beat up on the Sabres opening night...

A. Kostityn - Pleckanec - "Sexy" Alexei Kovalev

Tanguay - Koivu - Higgins

Pacioretty - Lang - S. Kostityn

Laraque - Chipchura - Begin

Markov - Komisarek

Hamrlik - Georges

Brisebois - Boullion



Latendresse might start on the 3rd based solely on his tenure with the club while Lapierre could center the 4th on opening night at the Bell center.

Sabres Lineup

Following on Ogie's post, here' s my proposed opening day lineup for the playoff bound Buffalo Sabres:

Vanek - Roy - Stafford
Pominville - Hecht - Paille
Afinogenov - Connolly - Kotalik
Kaleta - Mair - Macarthur
Peters - Mancari - (Gaustad is out 4-6 weeks)

Rivet - Lydman
Spacek - Sekera
Numminen - Tallinder


That first line scored 84 goals last year, even though Stafford was limited to 64 games and played hurt in most of the games he actually appeared in. Stafford is the Sabres equivalent to Dubinsky. Young, big, strong, skilled, tough. He was a force down the stretch 2 years ago but just could not stay healthy last year.

The second line scored 68 goals last year, including Paille's 19 in fairly limited time. He is going to be a consistent two-way forward for Buffalo for a long time.

The key for the third line will be staying healthy. All 3 players are in contract years, and will be motivated to play. I've said this before, but in 05-06 Afinogenov, Connolly and Kotalik were all in contract years. They played together as a line and finished 1/3/5 in scoring on an absolutely loaded offensive team with Briere, Drury, Dumont, Vanek, Roy, Pominville, Hecht, Campbell. If all 3 can stay healthy this year, they could each approach a point a game.

The fourth line will be an energy line with some skill. Mair has decent hands and can make plays, and Macarthur is a proven scorer in the minors that has all the tools to score in the NHL. When Gaustad returns from injury, he'll play center and allow them to play a shut down role as well.

IMO, the Sabres have 3 #2 pairings. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. The minutes will be evently distributed (with Numminen getting a little extra rest I'm sure), which will help down the stretch. But there will be no "shut-down" pair.

The biggest wildcard is Sekera, who spent the last few months of last season in Buffalo after starting in Rochester. For about the last 15 games, he was Buffalo's best defenseman - period. Sekera is a smooth skater that can handle the puck, play the PP, and is pretty good in his defensive zone. He is quite similar to Campbell, and actually fit in very nicely in Buffalo after Campbell was sent to San Jose. Like Campbell, he was the defenseman of the year in the OHL. But at 22, he is MUCH further along than Campbell was at that age, and he is ready to be an everyday NHLer.

As for the goalies, who the hell knows what you are going to get out of Miller. The biggest thing Buffalo learned last year was that Miller CANNOT play 75 games. I firmly believe that Buffalo threw the season away by not playing Thibeault more. Granted, his play didn't instill much confidence, but that is to be expected when you get a start every 6 weeks. Lindy Ruff recently announced that Lalime (who had a good year last year) will play between 20 and 30 games. 30 sounds high, but if Lalime can play 20 games of 500 hockey, Miller will have the rest he needs to return to All-Star form.

Opening Night Rangers Roster and Lineup

So, Renney and Co. have a few decisions to make. Here is the roster and line combos as I see them:



First off, yesterday's game against that Swiss team was a complete waste of time. They are about as good as an average US college team. If I was the GM of an NHL franchise I would put up a big stink about playing a team like that instead of playing another NHL team in the preseason. They've got to revisit that for next year and make sure the competition is better. I'm guessing the Russian team the Rangers play today will be a lot more competitive.

That being said, Drury and Gomer looked awesome together yesterday. Naslund will fit in great with that line. It's too bad they won't be playing on an international ice surface all year. The question for that line will be how they get the puck on their sticks in the first place. Once they do, they'll be fun to watch.

I guess the surprise of my second line is Voros, but I have been very impressed by him so far. He doesn't have good hands, but he plays really hard and goes to the net. He'll create lots of havoc and will give Dubie and Zherdev a lot of space. Watching Zherdev play yesterday was like watching J Dubbs in Men's league. It was a guy trying to make ridiculous pond hockey moves getting stuffed by shitty players and then giving up once he lost the puck. I am so on the fence about how Zherdev is going to shake out this year. He could score 45 goals or get booed every time he touches the puck and put up 15 goals. He is the Rangers' Kovalev of 2008. No wonder why he reminds me of J Dubbs--Not surprisingly, Kovalev was J Dubbs's favorite Ranger.

I am loving the 3rd line of Dawes, Korp, and Callahan. Talk about a young energy line. Dawes and Callahan have speed, grit and a scoring touch. Korp seems to be a step slower but plays a solid game and seems to put himself in a position to score. Moving Voros up to the second line and putting Dawes on the 3rd line not only gives the second line some grit, it also gives the 3rd line a chance to put up some points and be really quick throughout.

With this 4th line of Riss, Betts and Fritsche, we actually have a 4th line that can be put out in defensive situations to shut down the opponent's top line. Renney tried to do this last year, but the combination of Betts, Hollweg and Orr scared me to death every time every time I saw them out there in a critical situation.

So who are the odd men out? Who makes the roster but gets scratched?

I think Sjostrom and Fahey will be cut. Sjostrom has just done nothing to impress this preseason. He can fly but he has no hands. Frosty, Mags, and Swivel, remind you of any 1997 HC hockey grad? Fahey is a serviceable backup, but I think Potter deserves a shot. He has some grit that is pretty absent on the Rangers' blueline. As far as who else makes the roster on a regular basis, I think it will be Orr and Potter. However, in order to avoid getting nothing for Prucha this week by putting him on waivers, I think they will keep Prucha on the roster and send Potter down to the minors. This leaves the Rangers at a slight risk because they will have no extra d-man on the roster for the second game in Prague in the event that one d-man gets hurt in the first game in Prague, but I think that is a risk they are willing to take. I think Orr will be splitting some time with Fritsche, who has been pretty unimpressive this preseason also.

Two weeks into the season, Prucha will not be with the Rangers. All preseason long, he has been given every opportunity to make this team. He has played with the best players on the ice and has had no results. He just cannot finish anymore. Yesterday was just another example of that. He played with Gomer and Drury and should ave had at least 2 goals in the first period alone. I would be more productive with those guys than he is. Hopefully they will get something in return. If not, at least they free up $1.6M in cap space. Maybe he will find his scoring touch with another team. Who knows? It's just not working out in NY. I don't mind the guy. I think he works hard and throws his Peter Kim-esque frame around. It just wasn't meant to be.

So what does everyone else think? Not that it matters because I know I am right...even if Renney and Sather mess up and do something different.

Why the Leafs will never win the cup...

--Sources tell TSN the Toronto Maple Leafs made a strong pitch to acquire 21-year-old forward Bobby Ryan and 39-year-old defenceman Mathieu Schneider from the Anaheim Ducks.
The Leafs offered a conditional first round draft pick in 2009 along with two prospects.--

Aren't the Leafs supposed to be in rebuilding mode? These type of deals are what got them into the mess they're currently in.

As an aside, watched the Canadiens / Red Wings pre-season game in Montreal. You'd never have guessed it was the regular season. Two fast, great passing teams showed up which led to a fantastic game. Also, both goalies were stellar. My prediction for the Habs, Max Pacioretty and Kyle Chipchura make the team while Dandenault & Latendresse get cut (or put on waivers).

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gonchar Joins Whitney on the Shelf

I feel bad for anyone who picked Sergei Gonchar in their fantasy league. What was initially described as a short term injury has turned into a 4-6 month stint on the IR.

I don't feel as bad for the Penguins, who are now seeing the down-side to karma after winning the Crosby lottery. Pittsburgh better hope that Fleury and Orpik are ready to live up to their big contracts.

Here's the link to TSN's article on Gonchar's condition.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

1st Day of Rangers Camp

Steve Zipay at Blue Notes has line combinations and defensive pairings for today's practice...

WHITE (which will open in Ottawa, possibly with some tweaking, on Saturday)
G---Valiquette, Wiikman
D---Rozsival/Staal, Potter/Mara, Denisov/Kondratiev, DelZotto/Murray.
F---Dawes-Drury-Prucha, Voros-Nedved-Rissmiller, Sjostrom-Anisimov-Parenteau, Byers-Moore-Jessiman
BLUE (home opener vs. Ottawa Monday and NJ)
G---Lundqvist, Lafleur, Mike BrodeurD---Redden/Girardi, Kalinin/Fahey, Pock/Sanguinetti, Busto.
F---Naslund-Gomez-Zherdev, Fritsche-Dubinsky-Callahan, Korpikoski-Betts-Orr, Dupont-Pyatt-Jamtim

My thoughts: Naslund-Gomer-Zherdev could be nasty. I also like Fritsche-Dubie-Cal as an energy line. Hate Prucha on the second line. Would prefer Shanny there but don’t see him on the list. I think that Riss might wind up with Voros and Sjostrom in the regular season.

They have so many forwards. Time to start making some moves. Maybe (hopefully) they are trying to showcase Prucha. I think Rozy/Staal and Redden/Girardi are probably a lock for the top two d pairs. Schneider anyone?


Monday, September 15, 2008

Radulov back to NHL?

So now the rumors are that Radulov wants to leave Russia and come back to play in the NHL. Just when you thought this situation could not get more ridiculous, it does. The link has some crazy Paul Kelly quotes about this circus. I would really have to think hard if I was Poile (Nashville GM) about taking Radulov back.