Ive been neglecting the blog a bit too long. Maybe a case of being upset the Kings were eliminated in such a meek fashion; maybe I'm just lazy.
Anyhow, some cup related thoughts.
Nice to see Joel Quenneville finally get his kick at the can. Truth be told I always thought he was one of the best coaches in the league and always got the most out of what he had to work with.
On the other side as much criticism as I have seen Peter Laviolette take over the years one could say this playoff run has thoroughly put him on the pedestal of arguably one of the greatest American Hockey Coaches of all time. Heck he could end up high on the list of all time greatest coaches period if the Flyers manage to win the cup. I mean to win the cup with Carolina and now have a kick at the can with the Flyers is very very impressive. And to see the Flyers not only earn a playoff birth in the last game of the season, the miracle comeback down 3-0 in the series against Boston, and now most likely playing the role of underdog-I just cant count them out.
On the Defense side of the equation-the Chris Pronger trade has paid off in silver dollars for the Flyers. I hate him but you can not deny the effect he has had on the Flyers.
For the Hawks, Duncan Keith is having a heck of a series and the Hawks first cup appearance since the Andy Griffith Show(actually since the late 80s but I wanted to use the joke) should most likely earn him a Norris. I remember the Hawks previous run and though it was years ago I can never forget the Hawks of that with Dirk Graham, Adam Creighton, Steve Larmer and others. Good Times.
Measuring the Captains....
Jon Toews has been a stalwart and consumate young professional but Mike Richards showed some moxie that I have yet to see in a long long time from a Captain. Sure you can argue Crosby or Sakic from a few years ago but those teams were very very good teams expected to win-Richards is literally carrying the team in all areas of the ice. Toews has the skill and the hands-but Richards has the heart. I am tempted to go on record with the old cliche of "Edge-Richards" but that would mean that I actually have to measure and compare all of the other areas of both teams and I am not sure I want to take that task....at least not right now.
Goalies- I wonder what kind of odds you could have gotten in Vegas if you bet 20 bucks that the starting goalies for the Cup would be Antti Nieme and Michael Leighton you may have been looking at a retirement type payoff. Hard to even call this matchup with both goalies being wild cards and unknowns at this level. Either one could rise to the occasion or completely choke-and it literally could be either one which makes it impossible to even recap this matchup.
I won't go on record even picking a winner....I just want it to go at least 6 games and have at least one fighting major.
If the decision is based on Ex-Kings I am really pulling for Lappy over Brent Sopel and its clearly obvious these two didnt get where the are on their good looks.
Some other thoughts...
How great was it seeing the Sharks tank again? I am not really a Blake hater per se because by all accounts he is a really nice, cool guy. But I couldn't help but smirk a bit showing the bearded Blake wearing the C as the waning moments of the Game 4 sweep ticked of the clock. Will Doug Wilson get fired? Not sure and even though the GM doesn't always determine who wears the C you've got to wonder who decided Blake was the right given he never accomplished anything as a Captain.
As for Montreal-I am glad to see them ousted. Just do not like that french canadian style pomposity bloviating psuedo greatness. And in a healthy mix of "SandGate" and the screw job the refs laid on the Kings last year has never sat well with me. I will say this-Kirk Muller will probably be a head coach in the next 2 or 3 seasons.
Once again....lets hope the series goes at least 6 games and sees at least one fighting major.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Finally have some time to do my season finale closing thoughts. Its been the best of times and the worst of times and we can all take solace that with relative youth of the team and quality prospects in the system this is just the beginning and like the old Hermans Hermits song "Something Tells me I in for something good."
First I will address the playoffs. While some think we were outclassed or outplayed and 5 on 5 that may have been the case but consider that as the series went on the Kings did out shoot Vancouver. Over the 6 games the Kings outshot 3 times. The first game the Nucks clearly outshot the Kings and a 6 shot margin in Game 2. But afterwards the Kings outshot the Nucks in the next 3 games and seemed to balance the ledger a bit. The only problem was after game 2, Quicks save percentage plummeted. Blame Terry Murray for overplaying him. Its a very reasonable and apt criticism and deservedly so.
The Kings won game 3 despite Quicks .893sv% and afterwards saw Quick post an average .842 sv% over the last 3 games. Contrasted to Luongo who after a shaky start posted a .930 sv% in the last 2 critical games of the series.
Some of have mentioned how the goalies who played the most regular series games all missed the playoffs entirely or saw their teams fail to advance. Its not a coincidence and a very telling statistic. And the stat holds true provided you only use the top 4 goalies...if you look at the top 10 goalies in GP it breaks down to 3 goalies still in the playoffs, 2 goalies who missed and 5 out in the first rd.
Of the goalies out in the first rd who were Brodeur, Quick, Anderson, Bryzgalov, and Miller we can take a look at their SV% and determine where does quick fall in line with other 1st rd losers. Only a rare uncharacteristically bad performance by Brodeur saved Quick from having the worst performance of all goalies in the first rd.
So looking at that stats of goalies eliminated-3 of them posted better the .900 SV%.
I said back in mid March "We cant take anything for granted given the history of the franchise and I am not willing to see the season slip away with the old "were standing by our #1" adage." Well upon retrospect-isnt that exactly what happened and we saw and the very result I predicted?
Dating back to the start of March through the playoffs Quick got us 6 wins in 23 starts. Thats about a .260 winning % and substandard for your average baseball players batting average. One didnt need to see Quick was faltering and laboring down the stretch. Once again you can certainly call out Terry Murray for his mishandling of the goalie situation. Its a very fair and reasonable critique of the coach especially in light of the fact that both Ersberg and Bernier played well when they got a chance to play. Basically Quick did not show up in the big game pressure situations. The 2 goals in game 6 of the playoffs pretty much said it with the softie given up to Bieska and the final GWG by Sedin where Quick wasnt hugging the post, wasnt prepared for the shot, and just plain looked shaky.
Getting merely Average play from Quick may have meant moving onto the next rd.
The good news is next year I expect Bernier to get about 30 games which should give Quick plenty of rest. If Quick falters and cant get the job done in pressure situations Bernier will be there to get his kick at the can. So far in the AHL, Bernier is 6-1 in the playoffs with a .949 SV%. Out of the top 15 goalies in the AHL playoffs-Bernier has faced the 3rd most shots so its not as if the Monarchs D is overpowering by any stretch.
Alas, and as so not to think I'm a Quick hater or bashing the goalie- it was a marvelous season and I'm a left with both good and bad feelings in that while we made a ton of progress I think it could have been so much more given how you could see the writing on the wall long before the playoffs even started.
Once again, "We cant take anything for granted given the history of the franchise and I am not willing to see the season slip away with the old "were standing by our #1" adage." And once again-isnt that exactly what happened and we saw and the very result I predicted?
Some other thoughts- I love the depth of the team and would not be surprised at all to see either Handzus or Stoll moved. Schenn is taking Brandon deep into the OHL playoffs and of the top 5 players taken in the 2009 entry draft only Schenn did not see regular NHL ice time. Given how well he played in camp last season I think its safe to assume the only thing keeping him from joining the ranks of the other top 5 2009 draftees was the Kings depth at Center. Additionally, Bud Holloway and Trevor Lewis are both putting up good numbers in the AHL Playoffs with 5 goals in 7 games...good enough for 4th and 5th best in the league. If one or both of those guys happens to take the next step and show they can play an NHL caliber game the Kings are really looking at a plethora of riches as far as young forwards goes.
On D as much as I would like to think Hickey may be ready to make the move I just dont see it as a safe bet given him being undersized, his justin williams like injury record, and the Kings D already being somewhat undersized. Best case scenario here is to acquire another big stay at home Dman to help provide some muscle. Id like to know what happened to Davis Drewiske along the way. I will end this with a scary thought that honest to goodness sends a shudder up the spine but I would not be surprised at all to see Randy Jones resigned. Why you ask? Because I was surprised to see him playing as much as he did considering how bad he played-given he is like a bad cough you just cant get rid of this just would not come as a shock whatsoever.
Oh well, another season down but brighter pastures ahead. It will be odd following the NHL draft without thinking which Top 5 pick we will be selecting this year.
For the rest of the playoffs I am pulling for the Hawks. Not so much that I am now officially a Nucks hater as I have always liked the Hawks as my #2 team. Speaking of Nucks while I do now officially dislike a great number of their players, some players I actually gained respect for. The Sedin brothers are world class and also earned my respect for their clean hard play and continually whining we saw from others on the Squad. Mikael Samuelsson gets my vote for the most underrated player in the NHL. He can play physical, has a great accurate shot, shows up to play in big games, and a proven playoff performer.
Best case scenario for me would be to have San Jose eliminate Detroit and then get Eliminted themselves in NHL playoff Survivor. Basically my hatred for Detroit is greater then my hatred for San Jose. Its the hatred trump card in all its glory.
In the East I was hoping we could have seen a Wash/Pitt matchup as to see 7 games of Ovechkin vs Crosby. Alas it was not to be. Next I was hoping for a Pitt/Philly matchup given the general dislike the two teams have for each other. That may or may not happen either. I really have no other teams in the East that I care about at all so my hopes were basically what makes the most interesting matchups.
As always, feel free to send your thoughts and I will end this with a Hockey Haiku
Kings DieHard Win/Lose
Ducks and theyre fans Continuouly lame
F Randy Jones