Friday, May 30, 2008

My NHL? Hockey Fans Less Loyal?



1) When we say 'less loyal' we don't mean less loyal to their particular team but to their purposed favourite sport, ice hockey. Why do we say this? From reading various other hockey blogs/published article, as well as the playoff TV ratings it occurred to us that a majority of fans curtail significantly, or even stop paying attention to the NHL playoffs once their teams' season is completed. Either in the playoffs or after game 82.




2) No where is this more apparent/surprising than in The Hockey Capital of the World' (Canada). Certainly here we would expect that folks would watch every possible playoff game regardless of whom was playing, right? Apparently not. Ratings compared to last year (when Ottawa was in the Finals) are down in the Great White North. In fact overall more hockey fans in the US watched the last Pitt-Wings game than in Canada. Now we can understand that the US has 10X more population than Canada, but if the NHL can't garner better ratings in The Hockey Homeland,(Canada) how can it expect to get much higher ratings in the US where there are large areas that never see ice/snow year round?




3) Non scientific evidence from reading some of the more popular Canadian based hockey blogs seems to indicate that hockey fans up there are not much different than their US counterparts. Once their team is eliminated they essentially lose interest in hockey outside of discussing 'next season' with regards to their team. They may have some passive interest in the playoffs, but nothing like other sports. Compare this pattern to what is seen with regards to MLB, The NBA and especially the NFL. Here in the U.S. most baseball and basketball fans will tune into their sports playoffs/pay attention. The NFL ofcourse is the biggest example of fan loyalty. They attract probably all its fan base for their playoffs regardless of one's teams participation, and their 'Super bowl' gets non fans in droves.




4) We could understand this 'apathy' for NHL playoff hockey here in the states where hockey interest is so regionalized, but find it curious that this situation is so pervasive up in Canada as well where one would think folks are hockey fans first, and partisans of their team second. The NHL, who probably take their Canadian fans for granted, better sit up and take notice!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Is It a Series Afterall?

1) Last night was undoubtedly the best game of the three Stanley Cup Final contests thus far. For one, both teams scored. There was lots of hitting and scoring chances. It was far more wide open than the first 2 games. The last point is why the penguins prevailed. The RedWings allowed the penguins to play 'their game'. The run and gun style significantly helps the penguins. Pittsburgh showed they can not stomach a tight checking close to the vest style.

2) Very impressed with the play of Tomas Holmstrom and Brooks Oprik. Both were warriors in every sense of the word last evening. They can play on our team any day! Even though last night's game was played exactly like Pittsburgh likes, they still were far from being the better team. The game could have gone either way. If not for stellar goaltending of M-A Fleury the Wings probably would be ahead 3-0, despite the Penguin-like tempo.


3) Which brings us to the goaltending issue. Can we stop the nonsense about Osgood? Some were anointing him MVP based upon his stats, not about his actual worth to his team. Sure he did his part to win games 1-2, but he was hardly the primary reason. Last night illustrated this clearly. In our opinion through 3 games: Osgood was better in game 1. Game 2 was a toss up, and Fleury was better last night. Confirming our opinion that if you exchanged each goalie onto the other team it wouldn't effect the end result of this series.


4) So where do we go from here? We believe that in Game 5 the Red Wings will do all they can to have the game be played on their terms. Expect it to be far less wide open. Expect the Penguins to get frustrated when they fail to score easily. In essence we believe we will see a repeat of games 1-2. We see last night as an aberration, not the beginning of a new trend. Make no mistake, the Red Wings are light years better right now than the Penguins. The series will/should end in Mo-town, next week. Despite what the talking heads at the network want you to believe, it is NOT a series!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bush League!


1)Why is Pittsburgh Afraid of Wings Fans? We read with amusement this morning the fact that apparently the Pittsburgh Penguins have instituted a policy of restricting the sale of tickets to their home playoff games for this Finals series. This, taken directly from the web site: Pittsburgh Penguins 2008 Playoffs - Round 4, Home Game 1 Tickets....... Sales to this event will be restricted to residents of PA, OH, WV, MD, NY, NJ, DE, VA and the District of Columbia. Residency will be based on credit card billing address. Orders by residents outside of PA, OH, WV, MD, NY, NJ, DE, VA and the District of Columbia will be canceled without notice and refunds given.


2) Are they kidding? Come on Pittsburgh! Are you telling folks that you guys are afraid that a huge contingent of people from Michigan might invade your house? For the record, the Pens sold out every home game this past season. They have excellent season ticket sales. We would assume that those season ticket holders bought playoff tickets, meaning their are probably a very limited supply of seats anyway. How many people from Michigan do the Pens think would try to get in? Detroit had their own attendance issues so the Pens think those same apathetic fans would be motivated to drive to Steel town when they didn't even support their team at home?


3) We find it ironic that they are employing this tactic since they themselves bemoaned it when it was done to them in 2001 by the Washington Capitals. We highly doubt that enough Wings fans would have been in attendance anyway for the aforementioned reasons, but we find it ironic/ hypocritical and disappointing to see Pittsburgh to institute this policy. Bush league!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Men-2 Boys-0


1) If the first two games of the Finals are any indication the young Pittsburgh Penguins are totally outclassed against the more veteran Red Wings. In almost every aspect of the game the Pens have been dominated like they haven't been all season long. Managing a mere 41 shots in 2 games and not getting one of those shots passed Chris Osgood. The number of quality scoring chances could probably be counted on one hand in these 2 games! Neither contest was in doubt from the opening face-off onward.


2) Make no mistake, Osgood has been the better goalie, especially in game 1, but he has NOT been the reason for either victory. We'd have to say that UNLIKE last year's Finals when IF you exchanged goalies and no other personnel you'd get an opposite result; so much a stark difference existed between Giguere and Emory. If you placed Fleury on Detroit behind that blanketing/stifling defense he'd likely have a shut out streak and Osgood would be 0-2.


3) Many are wondering whats wrong with Geno Malkin? From having watched him play and grow all season long into a dominating player, he just doesn't appear to be the same from what he's been from X-mas until the second round of the playoffs. Some, including Malkin himself say its fatigue, whether it be mental or physical. However, we would be shocked if he weren't playing with an undisclosed injury. Its easier to get atomic secrets than to get accurate injury information this time of year, so we may have to wait until the Finals are over to know the real reason for Malkin's significant drop off.


4) Strangely few are castigating the Golden Boy, Sidney Crosby. Its not like he has been on fire either. Some might forget he IS a boy, of 20! He appears to be in over his head. All you have to do is look at the demeanor of both teams' captains for the stark difference. On one hand you have the scruffy faced(Has he really forgone shaving for 2 months now?) near-teen in Crosby leading his team of fellow early 20 somethings(with a few vets thrown in) against the amazingly professional/confidence that exudes from Nicklas Lidstrom and his fellow older teammates, and you can see why we say that the men are beating the boys.


5) The way the Wings are playing it reminds us in many ways of the old Soviet era teams where puck control and stifling defense coupled with opportunistic offense frustrated many a North American team in the late 70's/early 80's. Additionally it appears the gulf between the conferences has grown, not shrunk in the last few years. The West has clearly been the stronger conference going back a decade or more, but in the past the East was able to throw out a good enough counterpart into the Finals to win their share of Cups. We don't see the Pens (the best East team) as being in the same league as Detroit. We suspect that Pitt would have had trouble beating Dallas, SJ, Anaheim, and possibly Minnesota as well. So much better was the west this past season that this current Final should not be a shock. Alas the East should not give up hope. Some of the best young talent resides in that Conference. With teams like the Rangers, Washington, and the Penguins poised to make the leap from up and comers to actual Cup contenders. It takes time and maturity. Until that takes place, the men will continue to beat the boys.

Friday, May 23, 2008

2008 Finals Prediction/Assessment

1) Well, no big surprises in the Conference Finals other than perhaps the veritable ease in which Pittsburgh rolled over the Flyers and how meekly they bowed out. The Red Wings' 6 game series win probably came as little surprise to us at FAUXRUMORS. We predicted as such before the series started. With our 2 accurate predictions in the last round it brought the FAUXRUMORS playoff series predictions to a very solid 10-4.

2) With the Stanley Cup Finals to (Finally!) get underway tomorrow we at FAUXRUMORS felt it time for us to weigh in on what we believe will occur over the next 2 weeks. Since almost every other hockey blog has had their say, its time for us to have ours. The Pittsburgh-Detroit series. No Cinderellas in this year's Finals. Looking back these ARE the Two best teams!



3) Anyway, we will break down the series with regard to the important/compelling matchups we see could be important in determining who will carry the Cup around the ice in 1-2 weeks. Its the old guard in Detroit, with many players over 35(Chelios is soon to be 65, right?) -vs- the Young Guns of hockey, the high flying Penguins


  • The Stars: Crosby/Malkin-vs- Datsyuk/Zetterberg. All four are amazing players in their own right. All have greatly contributed to their teams' regular season AND playoff success. They are not coincidentally the overall top point getter's in the playoffs. Any of these 4 will probably be the playoff MVP, depending upon whom has the best Finals/wins the Cup. It wasn't long ago that the Detroit duo were being castigated for their playoff disappearing acts. Not this time around as both have scored/assisted on critical goals in all 3 series wins. The pens dynamic duo of Malkin and Crosby are scarily so young and amazingly talented that we are reminded of a similar duo of centers out of Edmonton in the early 80's(Gretzky and Messier). The Wing forwards may have a slight edge in experience/defensive prowess, while their Pitt counterparts are slightly more explosive. Should prove to be an exciting matchup of some of the NHL's best talent up front. Edge: Even


  • PP QB's: Nicklas Lidstrom-vs- Sergei Gonchar. Two of the most gifted offensive defensemen in the game today. Both are long time NHL vets, with Gonchar playing in his 15th season. 'Gonch' has significantly elevated his game this season and in the post season especially. Not only is he contributing as the team's PP QB, but his defense has been nothing short of excellent. He has previously been overlooked for Norris consideration due to his defensive weakness, but not so anymore. Therrian uses Gonchar as his 'shut down' defender, and should no longer be looked upon as one dimensional. Lidstrom is in his 18th season, ALL with the Wings, easily should win another Norris, and legitimately should been a Hart Finalist this past season. He is the epitome of what a 2-way defensemen should strive to be; The shut down/reliable defender in his own zone and the team's PP specialist at the other. No one combines/excels at both better. Edge: Detroit


  • The aggitators: Jarkko Rutuu-vs- Tomas Holmstrom. Although Rutuu is more an agitator and Holmstrom more a power forward type both play the role as the teams' forward most likely to get under the opposition's skin. Jarkko is just better at it. However, the Redwings being a veteran team are less likely to respond to his nonsense than other more inexperienced teams. Both players are not relied upon to score huge number of goals, both possess some offensive ability that shouldn't be overlooked, but Holmstrom is far more productive. Edge: Detroit


  • The Goalies: Chris Osgood-vs- M.A. Fleury. Before the playoffs/season no one would have placed these two as likely opponents to play for the Cup. Certainly NOT osgood, as we outlined in the linked post. Since replacing Hasek he has been a steadying influence and merely done what was asked, win. Both goalies still struggle for respect and you can bet many will be asking if one, or both, will fold under the pressure of being here. As always goaltending will be a factor, but it remains to be seen who will step up their game another notch. Thus far we are more impressed with what Fleury has accomplished against what would seem to be tougher opponents, and he has answered the call and them some. Some have been waiting for the former first overall pick to become the superstar goalie the Pens believed they drafted in 2002. Thus far he is answering in the affirmative. Edge: Pittsburgh


  • Secondary scoring: Both of these teams are obviously loaded offensively, but if there is a weakness with Detroit, it is scoring balance. Since playoff sensation Johan Franzen was injured after the Wings' second-round win over Colorado, the RedWings has struggled at times to score. Infact, Franzen still leads all players with 12 goals and five game-winners. Without him, the pressure will clarly be on Detroit's top line of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Holmstrom. Shut them down, and the Penguins could have a good chance to win. The Penguins offensive depth is much more evident and down right impressive. If Franzen comes back the stark edge for the Pens will be mitigated to some degree, but we'd still say they are better. Edge: Pittsburgh

  • Team defense: Here is where Detroit has a stark edge. For one, the Red Wings are one of the best puck-possession teams in the NHL. No slap at Pittsburgh's blueliners; They have performed admirably, however they have no answer to the 'other Niklas' back on defense. Kronwall. He has been a difference at both ends of the ice. He leads all playoff defenders with 12 points.(One more than Gonchar) As important he also has the potential to deliver devastating hits and punish opposing forwards in the Detroit zone. We feel he may the key to containing the speedy Penguin forwards by giving them something to fear as they cross the Detroit blueline. Edge: Detroit

  • The Intangibles: Experience-vs- Youth. This spring marks the fifth time the Wings have advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in past 13 years, and have won the Cup three times in their last four appearances. Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Kris Draper, Darren McCarty, Chris Osgood, Dominik Hasek, Tomas Holmstrom and Kirk Maltby played on previous Detroit Cup teams, while Rafalski won two Cups with New Jersey. Only Petr Sykora (NJ), Darryl Sydor(Dallas) and Gary Roberts(Calgary) have played on a Cup champion. Edge: Detroit

4) What this series will come down to is will the Redwings be able to play their puck possession game or will Pittsburgh be able to play their up tempo, more wide open style? Regardless of their edge up front, we believe that defense wins championships. As such we see the Redwings as having enough offense and a strong enough defense to stifle the Penguin attack. Perhaps not entirely, but at least contain it enough to eke out 4 victories. Also we do NOT underestimate the experience factor. Many more Wings have been here and know what it takes to win. The Penguins are far too young and shown immature streaks/lack of killer instinct at times this post season. This will NOT be a sweep by either team. However, we believe the Penguins time to win will have to be put off at least another season. Detroit in 6

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Stupid Scheduling!

1) Just when you believe the NHL can not out do itself in screwing itself/the fans, they continue to try. The latest is the out right STUPID scheduling of the Stanley Cup Finals. We understand the problem of booking venues, and all that, but there had to be flexibility enough to avoid overlapping games with the NBA!

2) Oh, you're not an NBA fan/know what we're talking about? Well we think the NBA sucks as well, but looking at the schedule of their Eastern Conference Finals it indicates that BOTH the Red Wings AND Pistons (Detroit's NBA squad) will be playing simultaneously at home! Come on Gary, you couldn't avoid this?? We looked into this, and find that the NBA schedule was posted/public even before the last RedWing win, so LONG before the NHL released this dumb/stupid schedule


3) Its incredible that the NHL had the choice of when to schedule their Finals games, yet the first three games of the Stanley Cup finals will be played at the same time as Games 3, 4 and 5 of the NBA's Eastern Conference finals! WE can understand 1 game overlapping, but 3?? Two in the same dam city! Does Bettman want to have his minuscule ratings be even lower than they already are? The Redwings have already had trouble filling their arena without this avoidable competition/conflict. Some may point that not all basketball fans are hockey fans so it doesn't matter. Even if there is only a 25% overlap, its still significant, and if it is at all possible to avoid such a conflict (especially within one city) it should have been! More stupidity. More of Bettman's NHL!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Penguins Emperors Of The East!

1) Congrats to your Eastern Conference Champions, Pittsburgh Penguins. We at FAUXRUMORS back in September http://newfaux.blogspot.com/2007/09/pre-season-playoff-cup-winner_30.html predicted the Penguins would be in the Finals. We also correctly predicted that the pens would play and beat Philly in 5 back last fall: http://newfaux.blogspot.com/2007/09/pre-season-playoff-cup-winner.html We got it backwards seeing the pens beating the rangers next, but the end result was the same. Ofcourse then we also saw the Sharks as their opponent. Not likely this year. We may find out as soon as this evening whom they will face for the Cup, as the RedWings hope to close out their series against the Stars in Dallas at 8:00 pm.

2) Many are again asking in reference to the West series if 33 is a-lucky-number. The Redwings seemingly with a stranglehold and playing at home on Saturday to close it out like the Pens did yesterday, laid an egg and allowed the Stars right back in it. Dallas playing before their home fans can extend the series to 7, and give further hope for the improbable. Click on the link for our history synopsis of that. We have to say that we felt the Stars would be no push overs especially if Turco played as well as he had against San Jose. Which is why in our final-four predictions we had the Redwings winning, but it taking 6 games. Dallas has a chance to prove us wrong, but possibly make history in the process. We do NOT see this happening. Detroit has shown that once they are pushed they respond, so we wouldn't be shocked to see a similar response as the Penguins from yesterday.


3) As for the Pens, as we mentioned, no big surprise. They simply were the better team. Kudos to the Flyers for getting this far. Many didn't even see them as a playoff team before the season. We at FAUXRUMORS saw their team ready for a quick turn around in our pre-season-predictions-east. We maintain that we are not sold on Martry Biron as the guy to get them to the promised land, but he was certainly a big step up from what they have had in recent years. They still need to add a player or two on defense, but if they can retain their core forward unit, they should be right back in the thick of things next season.


4) Barring significant NHL news, or a post from FR2 or Antz, this will be our last post until our Finals prediction, probably by week's end. Look for it! As always, keep it here for all the latest!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Europeanization?


1) Many a hockey fan have been complaining about the lack of drama/intensity of the Stanley Cup playoffs thus far this spring. We'd have to agree with this assessment. Some have said it could be the matchups have been partly the reason? We disagree with that. Some of the playoffs pairings have traditionally produced great series: Detroit-Colorado/Dallas, NYR-Pittsburgh, Boston-Montreal. Phily-Pitt. All of the aforementioned series from days gone by have produced classic/intense/interesting series. None, in our opinion have been worth remembering this spring. We'd guess that unless you're a fan of Detroit or Pittsburgh, you'd agree with that?



2) Now, we know that traditionally there is far less fighting in the post season than in the regular campaign, but when you see that there have been SIX, yes SIX fighting majors in an astounding 76 playoff games played this spring!! Six! Come on! We understand how much Bettman hates to be embarrassed by this aspect of the game, especially during nationally televised games when hundreds are watching on Versus, but we feel ultimately this will further erode the NHL's dwindling popularity.


3) Sure game 3 of the Pens-Flyers series drew an above average TV audience, but anyone want to guess why? Well, probably like us at FAUXRUMORS, non Pennsylvania viewers thought they'd see an old time rock-em, sock-em affair between the two in-state rivals. They figured we'd see a few scraps as the Flyers, in front of their own fans, try to turn the series around and force the pens to play their game. Well, what did we see? Same old crappy, low intensity games. To paraphrase Joe McGrath (Strother Martin) from SlapShot fame: " We're losing.... The fans came to see the Flyers not these puss-ies.....".


4) Sadly, we doubt we'll see a change to this trend any time soon. As our friends over at "twominutesforblogging" wrote the other day: why would John Stevens ever put out some toughness to send a message these days? We all know Collie and Gary have put the word out that message-sending will not be tolerated in their playoffs. True enough. Gary is afraid that one of these end of game melees may become a black eye for the NHL. Message for Bettman: The folks who hate hockey because of fighting wouldn't like it even if there was ZERO fighting, so why try to placate this minority at the expense of the majority?


5) AS TMFB also wrote, and we agree: "...It's too late. The NHL has spoken and we will get a snooze fest for a Stanley Cup final. Shoot, no one in Detroit even cares anymore. Empty seats for playoff games???" While many are saying its the Michigan economy that's to blame for the empty seats at The Joe, we can't help but believe that a component to the issue is also the type of game the Wings play. With a roster that is 75% European, they play what many describe as the classic boring, opportunistic, for the most part, passion-less European brand of game. While we can't blame them for implementing this successful approach, we can blame the NHL/Bettman for allowing it to take root and thrive.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wizard of Osgood!

1) Before this season (and probably still) very few would have placed Chris Osgood among the all-time greats of goaltenders. Heck, we'd say that a majority of fans wouldn't have even placed him in the top 10 of current goalies in the NHL. Yet, when one looks at what his has, and is accomplished/accomplishing you have to admit he may belong among the elite of goalies. Many will point that he's playing for a great team(s). Point granted, but the RedWings were in early disarray against the Predators, and many can rightly point to the change in goal as the turning point of the playoffs for Detroit.



2) What has Osgood done since replacing Hasek? Only win. Osgood is 9-0 with a 1.47 goals-against average and .935 save percentage. If Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, or Hasek had put up those kind of numbers many would be mentioning them as possible ConnSmythe candidates, yet we can find no article/stories/commentators that are mentioning this possibility. If he leads the Wings to the Cup it will only be his 3rd drink from the silver chalice. He would also surpass 100 playoff victories.(currently at 97). Add to that his 363-195 career mark and you can make an interesting argument that Osgood deserves Hall of Fame mentioning.



3) Having said all that we would have to say in our opinion that although it is true that Osgood's worth/talent has been understated/overlooked, he is NOT a Hall of Fame goalie. He deserves credit for being an above average goalie for sure, but NOT an elite. He has NEVER won a single Vezina trophy as the best goalie. We're not sure if he's even ever been nominated. Sure in the 1995-1996 season he won the William M. Jennings Trophy (Lowest goals-against) which he shared with Mike Vernon. He's never been named as a First team Allstar (2nd team twice).



4) His win totals are impressive, but truth be told he would not have nearly this kind of success if he were with a weaker franchise. In fact his non-Detroit win-loss numbers are quite pedestrian, (84-67). Its been a mutually beneficial relationship for both he and the Redwings and it appears that this symbiosis will soon result in yet another etching into Lord Stanley's Cup for Mr Osgood. Very nice career Chris, but not an All Time Great.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Are the Isles Dicking With Nolan?

1) For the non-Islander fans out there, their head coach, Ted Nolan just completed the second of his three year contract. Now, normally with only a year left on his deal that would mean that it would either be time to fire/replace him, or negotiate an extension. Of course the manner in which 29 other teams run their organization mean little to how the Wang-led Islanders run theirs. When asked about his coach Snow and Wang both have given him half-hearted votes of confidence along the lines of 'we like Ted and he is under contract to be our coach next season.'


2) As we mentioned earlier this past season, we believed that Nolan was overlooked or even blackballed for a deserved Adams nomination last season; Coaching an undermanned Isles team into a playoff berth when most, including us at FAUXRUMORS believed them to be the 14th best East team. This past season the Isles were again over-achieving; through the first 50 games they either held a playoff position or were within a few points of 8th. That, until a series of significant injuries occurred culminating with the loss of franchise, goalie-for life, Rick DiPietro. From there the team went into free fall and finished with basically a group of Bridgeport (AHL) skaters into nearly the East bottom.



3) You would have thought that given the trials and tribulations that the team had endured, the successful Al Arbour night that Nolan almost single handedly arranged, and last season's over achievement, that it would be an automatic/logical process to extend Nolan's contract. No coach likes to go into his final year of a contract as a lame duck. He also doesn’t like to be thrown under the bus for failures that are not his fault. Such was the case here, when Snow/Wang intimated that Nolan didn't like to work with the kids. This is especially puzzling since Nolan's last position was with a junior hockey team where ALL the players were 'kids' and he/they thrived to win the QMJHL title . What is certain is that Nolan is the best coach this franchise has had since Al Arbour.


4) Nolan, and anyone else for that matter can see the hand writing on the wall; The Islanders plan on sucking next season, and appear to plan to have a reletively low payroll under the guise of "playing the kids." Nolan evidently will be the sacrificial lamb/scape-goat and be blamed for not being able to work with the kids, or not be a team player in Wang's wacky Knight of the Round Table mentality. Nolan is probably counting down the days until he can get his 'contractual obligation' done and can move on. Clearly he is a good coach. Now he needs to find an organization that appreciates him/uses his talents!


Monday, May 12, 2008

Conference Finals So Far: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ



1) We'd have to say that on a scale of 0-10, 10 being the most exciting Semi-Finals ever, and 0 being a good sleep aid, we'd have to say that thus far through 2 games a piece the NHL Conference Finals have been a snooze fest! Both series are now 2-0, and barring a miracle we now know who will be playing in the Finals in about a weeks time.


2) In Detroit the Stars forgot to show up for game 1 and were thoroughly outplayed. The score could probably have been far worse than 4-1 final score indicated. Disappointingly, no 'message' was sent at the end of the game to let us know Dallas would be back. To their credit though Dallas played much better in game 2, although they were still outplayed by the Wings and Turco kept them from a similar fate/score as game 1. There was little real intensity in this series. Sure things got interesting towards the ends of both games with Steve Ott trying to lure a Wing into dropping their gloves but none obliged. The Osgood/Ribeiro silliness does not connote 'intensity as it was a Billy Smith-esque reaction by Osgood, butt ending the Star forward and the subsequent reaction by Ribeiro, but it probably won't lead to anything as far as suspensions and a reaction in Game 3. Two games, 2 Detroit wins, NO major penalties, and very little reason to believe that Dallas can come back. Lets see what they can do at home. They better come out and be ready else this series may be over before this weekend!


3) Meanwhile in Pittsburgh, its slightly better, but not by much. The anticipated blood bath never materialized with both teams trying to goad the other into taking bad penalties but other than a Scottie Upshall- Tyler Kennedy scrap early in Game 2, there have been no fisticuffs. Even the level of play in both games could best be described as 'sloppy'. Neither of the games looked like these were the 2 best East teams playing for a chance to play for the Cup. They easily could have been pre-season or October matchups. The Flyers potentially may have lost their top 2 offensive defensemen in Timonen (bloodclot) and Coburn (eye injury). If both are lost for the series you can forget about any comeback. We hold out hope that game 3 in Philadelphia will bring what we expected in the first 2 games, intense/high quality hockey. Like the West, we don't expect a comeback as it appears the Pens are playing as well a they have to to win (that won't work next round) but we hope that the Flyers don't go out meekly and fight (literally) to the end. Else, we'll all go back to sleep until the Finals.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Godzilla Leaves DC

1) For the uninformed, Godzilla, or 'Zilla for short is the nick-name of now-former, and long time goalie of the Washington Capitals, Olaf Kolzig. Yesterday he officially parted ways with the only organization he's ever played for. As it does often in sports, it didn't end well. There was no going away/great send off for the fan favourite. No swan song. Only bitterness and profound disappointment at being replaced and shunted aside for a younger, (at this stage) better goalie, Critabal Huet. (The link provided is from the Washington Post's article where they interviewed Kolzig)

2) It was a shock to almost everyone around the NHL, including us at FAUXRUMORS that Caps' General manager, George McPhee(GMGM) was able to land former Montreal Canadiens starting goalie Huet this past February. At the time it looked like the Caps would stand pat at the trade deadline. However when Huet was made available by Bob Gainey for a mere late 2nd round pick McPhee had to make the no-brain decision to bring in the French goalie. With Huet the Caps not only did well, they thrived, and he won a mere won 11 of his 13 games; making it easy for fans and management alike to forget who was backing up the new guy, Kolzig.


3) At first Kolzig accepted the new guy graciously. Avoiding saying anything that might have come off as selfish or negative. Appearing to look at his new mate as a friendly rival that would help him elevate his own game in the process. That initially appeared to be so as both men alternated games. However once Huet established himself as the team's #1 goalie, Kolzig's demeanor changed, and by the end of the Caps brief playoff run he had come to his decision to leave. Making it clear the moment the final game abruptly ended in OT by removing his name plate from his Verizon Center locker, in a symbolic termination of his tenure with the Capitals. Clearly his ego had been badly bruised, but until yesterday it was unknown if that injury would lead to the severing of ties


4) A 1989 1st round draft pick, Kolzig was not an immediate star. He toiled in the minors for several years before eclipsing Jim (Ace) Carey in 1996. His pinnacle came in 1998, when he had a career year winning the Vezina for the leagues top goalie and leading his team to the Finals before finally succumbing to the Cup champion, RedWings. He, until this season remained a fan favourite for not only his high level of play, but his off ice contributions to the DC area community, as well as his 'stand up guy' persona/the defacto team captain.

5) So what now for the 38 year old? While their certainly is a market for starting goalies in the NHL, its doubtful that a contending team will sign Olie to a contract to be their starter. Its not only his age, but his declining stats. He was among the worst goalies in GAA and save% who played more than 40 games. Its also uncertain what kind of a backup he'd be. Kolzig hasn't played that role in a dozen years. On the positive side, outside of recent events, he is a good team guy, who won't hurt the locker room. He certainly won't hurt any organization from an off the ice perspective (Ray Emory). His second half before the Huet run, was actually fairly decent, but unspectacular. Our guess is he signs a 1 year incentive laden deal with a team like Ottawa or LA. We at FAUXRUMORS wish Olie well whatever he decides/happens.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Final Four Predictions

1) So here we are, The Final 4! What used to be the semi-finals, nowadays called Conference Finals. First we will recap the previous round, then we will make our eagerly anticipated predictions for who will play for Lord Stanley's Cup in 2 weeks.

2) Thus far through 2 rounds and 12 series we at FAUXRUMORS are 8-4. Not quite as impressive as the 11-1 we were this time last season, but not too terrible nonetheless


  • Montreal vs. Philadelphia. We, for the second consecutive time underestimated the Flyers (Or did we over estimate the Canadiens?) We predicted a short series win for the Habs, but we saw a short series win for the Flyers! While we don't underestimate the price effect, is there any word on whether anyone has found Kovolev or Higgins? They were MIA all second round. We have blamed BG for trading away Huet, but the entire Habs team deserves some blame for not showing up against a very ordinary Flyers team and making Biron look like Bernie Parent. Hint, he's NOT!


  • NY Rangers vs. Pittsburgh. We pretty much nailed this one. We saw the Rangers perhaps giving the Pens a tad more fight, but we figured the Ranger defense would be over whelmed by the Pens onslaught. We are impressed with Marion Hossa. Last season with the Thrashers he was a no-show against the Rangers. This year he scored important goals and was dominant. Ranger fans should take solace that their young players (other than Jagr) were their best players. We see them improving and taking the next step up next year.



  • Sharks vs. Stars: Much like the Flyers we either underestimated the Stars or over estimated the Sharks. (Again)http://newfaux.blogspot.com/2007/05/final-four.html#links As we discussed Tuesday, big-joe Thornton was again a non- factor in the playoffs. Another disappointment for a Ron Wilson led team. However, marty Turco as we discussed Monday was a huge difference. He's earned his pay this post season already.



  • Red Wings vs. Avalanche: Not a big surprise other than how over matched the Avalanche appeared to be. We figured this series would last 6. The way the Wings manhandled the Av's they could have played 10 more games and Detroit would have still swept. The boys from Mo-town appear to be firing on all cylinders.

3) Which brings us to this round:


  • Pittsburgh-vs-Philadelphia: The 'Battle of Pennsylvania', should prove to be the better/more exciting of the 2 semi final matchups. Both these teams hail from the Atlantic division so they know eachother well, and the near-hatred is pretty clear whenever they faced off. We hope we see a few scraps! You can bet the Flyers, who won five of the eight matchups against Pittsburgh during the regular season, will try to quickly establish the tone of the series as physical. Will they try to run/rattle Fleury like they effectively did to Huet then Price? The Flyers simply can NOT win a skating game with the Pens so their best chance is to try to intimidate the Pens and hope they continue to get timely scoring and good goaltending. Speaking of goaltending, we have been bashers of both tenders at times in the past, but both up to this time have earned their pay. The Flyers can't continue to be the most penalized team in the playoffs and win. The Penguin Power play will bury the Flyers if they continue that trend. We see this as being an exciting, for the most part close series, that won't be short, but in the end the team with the most talent should prevail. Key players from both teams. For Philadelphia:Braydon Coburn. For Pittsburgh: Jarkko Ruutu. Penguins in 6


  • Detroit-vs-Dallas: Another seemingly 'turn back the clock' series matchup from the late 90's. Hopefully this time, unlike the last Detroit series it will be a competitive matchup. First we have to give the Stars credit for getting this far. Dallas has beaten the defending Stanley Cup champs and then hottest team heading into the playoffs, the Sharks to get here. WE love how Brendan Morrow has carried the Stars. Showing clearly why he is the team captain. Can he do it again? Having said that, we believe the Stars' Cinderella run will hit a RED wall in this series. The Red Wings, as mentioned earlier appear to be playing as well as they can (or are they?) If its possible, they look even stronger than during the regular season. The emergence of Johan Franzen is one of the stories of these playoffs. We already previously discussed Marty Turco, but overlooked by many is the goaltending of Chris Osgood. Since coming in to replace Dominick Hasek against Nashville he has only won and played well. (When will he get the recognition he deserves?) Overall we'd have to say that this Detroit team which is healthy, rested and deep, will be too much for the Stars to handle. If Turco plays like the first 2 series, it won't be easy. Key players from both teams: For Dallas: Marty Turco. For Detroit: Tomas Holmstrom Redwings in 6

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Angry Old Men!

1) Increasingly we have been reading how many mainstream press (especially the older guys) are railing out against 'bloggers'. The term blogger, in their opinion, is synonymous with hate speech. They see all of us as losers who are still living at home in our parent's basements, blogging in our underwear and smearing anyone and everyone who we have a whim to degrade that day. They see NO journalistic credibility to someone who isn't credentialed/went to Columbia school of journalism, etc.


2) This came to a head recently when an older TV journalist Bob Costas conveyed a forum to discuss this issue (Costas by the way has made his opinion known concerning bloggers long ago) Wrote Costas recently:"it’s one thing if somebody just sets up a blog from their mother’s basement, and they’re a pathetic get-a-life loser, but now that pathetic get-a-life loser can piggyback onto someone who actually has some level of professional accountability and they can be comment No. 17 on Dan Le Batard’s column . That, in most cases, grants a forum to somebody who has no particular insight or responsibility. Most of it is a combination of ignorance or invective.” The moron goes on:"It’s just a high-tech place for idiots to do what they used to do on bar stools or in school yards, if they were school yard bullies..."


3) So it came as no surprise to us at FAUXRUMORS when Costas (ever the even handed journalist) invited H. G. "Buzz" Bissinger, a fellow old man/journalist who also has been a vocal anti blogger to gang up on a well know, popular blogger, Deadspin's Will Leitch. Only saw this part of the show, http://deadspin.com/385770/bissinger-vs-leitch but didn't Bissinger come across as exactly what he stated he detested about bloggers: that they are mean spirited, etc? Its amazing that he prefaced one of his tirades with “I think blogs are dedicated to cruelty, they’re dedicated to dishonesty, they’re dedicated to speed,” Bissinger said. He came at that poor guy with invective after invective. Looking like he must have been the butt of more than a few blog posts that insulted his masculinity or something. (You can bet after that tirade his name may appear on a few blogs! LOL)


4) As our blog has pointed out in just the past week, an actual news paper reporter did exactly what Costas and Bissinger were railing about bloggers. yellow-journalism. The NY Daily News Rangers beat writer, in our opinion, libeled, Sean Avery when they stated/inferred that his emergency hospitalization was due to his life style and not hockey related. (All later refuted) If a blogger had written such nonsense no doubt it would have been used by these guys as proof why blogging is bad, etc. It appears that what Deadspin said is true, most of the anti-blogging crusaders are older guys (most over 50) who are probably not computer literate, or lazy. See their monopoly of spreading opinion/ideas being challenged and as such are reacting like a cornered wild animal; lashing out in fear without knowing all the facts.



5) Buzz Bissinger, Costas, et al and everyone else who thinks that journalism is something you are, not something you do, guess again!. Like any medium, bloggers have the good and the bad. However also like any medium the folks who read vote on who shall continue to be read. If you offer nothing, no one will read/go to your site. If you have quality, folks will notice. If you don't like what's written, another web site is a mere click away. Life will go on Mr's. Bissinger/Costas. Angry OLD men, indeed!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Big Joe The Tin Man?

1) Another playoffs, another disappointment for a Joe Thornton led team. (An oxymoron?)Its becoming a trend. No, big Joes numbers are not all that impressive, especially when you look at his regular seasons the past few years. They just don't match up. The past 3 seasons Joe has had 96, 114 and 125 points. Easily leading his team in scoring (The entire NHL, winning the scoring title in the first post Bettman lockout season of 05-06) For his career Thornton has an impressive 756 points in 754 games played. Meanwhile in the playoffs for his career thus far Joe has 48 points in 70 games played. Not terrible BUT he has a mere 11 goals in those 70 playoff games. While we understand Thornton is not Rocket Richard, that's a deplorable scoring rate. Especially at a time when scoring is magnified.

2)When your team underachieves, usually your best player has underachieved. To succeed in the post season a teams' best players have to BE their best players. Thus far Big Joe has been anything but, for his teams. This was one of the primary reasons the Bruins traded him 3 years ago. Citing his playoff disappearing act, lack of finishing touch, as well as being a tad soft for a player of his size. (6'4" 240). Expectations were high when the Bruins chose the London Ontario native 1st overall in the 1997 draft. He seemed to be able to succeed in the regular season, but never in the playoffs. SJ hoped that a change of scenery would alter this perception/reality.

3) Unfortunately, the trend only continued with great regular seasons followed by disappointing post seasons. Now, we can forgive his lack of physicality IF he made up for it with scoring big/timely goals. In the past 3 post seasons for SJ, after being among the top 5 NHL regular season scorers, Joe has managed to be 2oth, 45th and thus far 23rd (with 2 rounds to go) in the post season. The playoffs are the time that separates the best from the rest. If we were SJ we would consider putting Joe on the market and see what he might bring back. It seems that he is not going to suddenly grow a heart. Perhaps they might want him in Ottawa?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Marty.....Marty!

1) Well the NHL's version of The Final 4 has been set with last night's endless Dallas-SJ game. If you live in the East it may be doubtful you stayed all the way for the conclusion as it took an additional 69 minutes of OT to decide the series. (That's 3 1/2 additional periods for the mathematically challenged) The undisputed star for the night was Marty Turco. Making spectacular save after save. Stopping an amazing 61 shots on the night. Praise also should go out to Nabokov who played amazing himself to keep the Sharks in the game, finishing with an impressive 53 saves.



2) So that leaves TWO 'Martys' playing goal in the round that decides who plays for Lord Stanley's Cup. Probably prior to the post season beginning few would have penciled in THESE Marty's: Turco and Philadelphia's Biron as the goalies who would be out in front helping propel their teams this deep into the playoffs. Until last season Turco had been known as a great regular season goalie but a mediocre playoff backstop. While Biron had yet to play a single minute of playoff hockey until this spring! Helping his team beat the East's hottest club, the Washington Capitals, and then the East's top seed, Montreal Canadiens. Meanwhile the NHL's most famous Marty, Brodeur managed to win but a single playoff game, and is long gone from the scene.



3) We at FAUXRUMORS to be fair have been as critical as anyone of both of these guys, but credit needs to be given where its due, and both of these Marty's deserve it, and are a huge reason why their teams are where they are. Of course now we have to decide which, if any of the Marty's will go further. Its our prediction that we will not see either advance further, but we'll leave our semifinal predictions for another time. The next couple of days lets allow The Marty's to enjoy their playoff success. Job well done guys.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Is 33 A Lucky Number?


1) Every playoff season we go through this same old tired exercise every time a team falls behind 3-0 in their best of 7 series. The team behind starts throwing out cliche's of how its not yet over. That they have to take it one game at a time, etc, etc. However it would seem the odds are not only against them, but its down right scary how astronomical they are. Take these numbers and crunch em'. In the ENTIRE history of the NHL only two playoff teams in 152 attempts have recovered from an 0-3 start to win a best-of-seven series!!


2) It has been 33 years since that last happened. Ironically it was a second round series (Back then the first round was a quickie best of 3) The 1975 NY Islanders in their only 3rd season overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Penguins. Seems like yesterday, but it was a tad more than 33 years since we watched 'Not- so- Fast' Eddie Westfall slip a shot over the shoulder of Gary Inness with a few mins to play to do the impossible. (They almost did it again in the next round with the Flyers, but succumbed to Kate Smith and the eventual Cup champs-the Flyers last Cup)


3) Before the Islanders improbable run, it was 33 years prior to that in 1942 that the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 to win the Stanley Cup. It remains the only comeback from a three-game deficit in best-of-7 Stanley Cup Finals history -- or, for that matter, in NBA and MLB Finals history. So here we are, 2008, its been 33 years since the last 3-0 comeback. How ironic it would be if it occurred again this year? Right now here are the series that could be in play:


  • Pittsburgh -vs- NY Rangers: The BlueShirts staved off elimination last evening. Might they be able to do what their cross town rivals did to Pittsburgh 33 years ago? Like the Isles they have the goalie who could potentially do it. Then it was Glen (Chico) Resch who was 'The man' who carried the Isles. Could Hank become the new King of the come back? We never say never at FAUXRUMORS, but we will stick with our original predictions and expect to see the Pens advance.

  • SJ-vs-Dallas: The Sharks were able to get out of Dallas with a close game win on Wednesday night. They return to the Shark Tank tonight to try to extend the series. Thus far the Stars have outplayed/out worked the Sharks in every game (even the one the Sharks won) We believe this is the series to watch for a possible/improbable come-back. Can Joe Thornton shed his playoff dissapearence persona? We could definitly see this as a possible 7 game series and once it gets that far its a 50:50 proposition. Stay tuned as the Sharks are hoping that 33 is a lucky number!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Is John Dellapina a Total Jerk?


1) We hate staying on the same story, but this one gets more bizarre by the hour. As we wrote in yesterday's blog, we felt the Daily News' original article that not so subtly implicated Sean Avery's life style with his medical condition was 100% libel if proven it was factually incorrect. As we have no basis to believe otherwise we have to take the information we know as the facts. If the News had done likewise they wouldn't now be in trouble with us and many others in the hockey/journalistic community.


2) So today instead of ignoring their original article or better yet retracting/apologizing for it today one of the writers of the story John Dellapina, the Ranger's beat writer for the News made this amazingly colossal asshole-like statement:


Dellapina writes:
For all those from other media outlets and newspapers who have sarcastically dismissed our initial web story about Sean Avery's hospitalization since the Rangers refuted it Wednesday afternoon, I wonder: Was your initial reaction that the story couldn't have been correct or did you simply race up to the MSG Training Center to get player reaction? And, did you call the hospital and/or Avery's representatives to get the real story or did your "reporting" simply consist of taking the team's word for what happened? Fortunately, the intrepid men an women of the press who have exposed baseball's steroid problems didn't similarly regurgitate what they were told by people who understandably want their businesses viewed as beyond reproach.


3) Is Dellapina sticking by his assertion that Avery did come to the hospital in cardiac arrest/unconscious? Obviously this is rather easily proven one way or the other. Cleverly Dellapina doesn't outright say the original story is false or true, but instead attacks anyone who dared to believe otherwise.


4) We also find it rich that he cites the press as being the ones who "exposed baseball's steroid problems". This is beyond imbecilic as to cause a huge LOL. So the press exposed the steroid problems huh, Johnny boy? If they had exposed it/written about it when it first started to occur regularly we would have known about it 10-20 years sooner! Too many of your beloved "press" turned the other way when they knew full well what was going on. They didn't want to alienate the players who they needed for quotes, etc. It was Jose Canseco who by and large blew the doors off the steroid issue with his book that named names. Of course why allow facts to get in the way of a good story, huh John?


5) Lets look at this from his angle then. IF the Rangers and Avery ARE hiding the truth why didn't the Daily News stick to its original story and not take it down from its web site? Why doesn't Dellapina tell us exactly what he was told and when. Come on John, tell us the truth why don't ya! This could be the hockey's version of WaterGate with such a great 'Cover-up' Maybe there are some tapes that were erased? Where's Deep Throat when ya need him! LOL Come on John, inquiring minds want to know!
 
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