Thursday, April 30, 2009

Second Round Analysis/Predictions

1) Wow, almost 36 hours without hockey. After almost 2+ weeks of nightly playoff games last night the rinks were dark. We need a fix, bad! LOL Anyway, the NHL playoffs resume tonight with the Conference Semi-Finals. Four series to decide who will play for the conference title. We will start in the East.

  • Boston Bruins VS- Carolina Hurricanes: On paper you would see this as the easiest series of the four to predict. The Bruins had 19 more points than the Canes. During the regular season the B's dominated Carolina. However if you have watched the Canes play the past 2 months you can throw those stat out. This is not the same team. Both teams have multiple scoring lines, with the Bruins probably possessing the best balance of scoring in the East. Will having well over a week between games hurt Boston? Certainly the B's weren't really tested in their essentially first round bye against the Habs. Will their tough 7 game series against NJ hurt Carolina? Both teams have excellent goaltending with Cam Ward appearing to regain his 2006 playoff MVP form. Can Thomas continue to play Vezina calibre? As is usually the case in the playoffs, special teams are vital. The Canes didn't produce much on the PP in NJ. They will have to capitalize with the extra man if they hope to win. The Bruins will have to use their size, toughness and speed to try to overwhelm the Canes. Key players to watch: For Boston: Phil Kessell For Carolina: Erik Cole Prediction: Bruins in 7

  • Washington Capitals VS- Pittsburgh Penguins: A series with plenty of star power! If Gary Bettman had his wish this would have been the conference Finals matchup as it guarantees plenty of press coverage with all the past that these teams have between them. Along with possessing some of the best/talented players in the game including the past 2 Hart trophy winners, etc. The Pens appear to be right back to where they were this time last year; playing their best hockey in April/May. Shero made some great trades that have bolstered his team. They beat a very solid Philly team in 6. Meanwhile the Caps were able to overcome a 3-1 deficit to beat the Rangers. The few days off will likely help recharge their fatigued bodies. The big question in DC has to be in net. Despite his great numbers, Varmalov is largely untested. Can he hold up to the onslaught of the Penguin attack? They have a real PP, unlike NY who didn't. Despite the attention the stars will get we believe it will comedown to secondary scoring. Here Pittsburgh has the advantage. Key Players: For Washington: Alex Semin For Pittsburgh: Sergei Gonchar Prediction: Pittsburgh in 6

2) Next the West:

  • Detroit Red Wings VS- Anaheim Ducks: If you simply looked at the standings to predict this one you'd be very mistaken. These two teams are more closely matched than their respective point totals indicate. In our opinion this series could produce the eventual Cup winner. The Ducks will have to be careful to control their penchant for penalties as the Wings PP will punish them if they do. Can Hiller beat yet another top seeded team? Was Osgood's play against Columbus due to his team, the opposition or his talent. He seems to never get respect for a guy with 3 rings. With the home ice advantage Detroit coach Babcock can match who he wants against the top Duck line of Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan who have accounted for most of the Ducks scoring. Can the other Duck forwards step up if those guys are shut down? The Wings on the other hand have much more balance up front (Datsuyk only had 1 goal in round 1) which usually wins in the post season. Key Players: For Detroit: Dan Cleary For Anaheim: Teemu Selanne. Prediction: Redwings in 7

  • Vancouver Canucks VS- Chicago Blackhawks: Both teams looked solid in their first round wins. Not to take anything away from either of their victories, but both were playing teams that were either injury riddled (Calgary) and/or fatigued from a late season playoff charge (Blues). The Blackhawks as we wrote yesterday are the youngest team in the NHL, but their young guns didn't appear to be intimidated by the Flames, and we don't see that happening here either. Its always about goaltending this time of year and here we have a great matchup. On one side we have former Cup champ Khabibulin playing at a similar level as 2004. On the other Roberto Luongo, who is considered one of the game's best, but has yet to do much in the spring (only 2 playoff round wins). Their teams need them to continue their high level of play to advance. We all know about the Twins and the two Hawk young guns, but the key will be who else can contribute. We see the Hawks as having more of those secondary guys, so we see them advancing unless Luongo stands on his head. Key Players: For Vancouver Pavol Demitra. For Chicago: Patrick Sharp. Prediction:Blackhawks in 7

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

First Round-Post Mortem

1) A very exciting first round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs is now in the books. We will go through each series and: See how we did with respect to our predictions and summarize each series. First in the East:

  • Carolina vs New Jersey: We predicted a close 7 game series that the Devils would win. We were right in 2 regards. It was very close and it went 7, but the Canes prevailed in dramatic fashion last night. With goals from Jokinen and Staal in a 48 second span with under 2 minutes the Hurricanes literally grasped victory from the jaws of defeat in Newark. Eric Staal, played like the teams best player that he is. Brodeur, not so much last night. Other than his amazing shut out performance in Game 5, Marty was quite ordinary/mediocre and this now has to be a bit troublesome to NJ faithful. Its been a few years since Brodeur has shined consistently in the post season

  • Boston vs- Montreal: This is what a 1vs 8th seed series is supposed to look like! We predicted the Bruins to win a closer series than what we saw in 7. Instead the Bruins rolled over the hapless Habs in a sweep. Showing in the process that they can play the finesse as well as power game effectively. We bet Micheal Ryder especially enjoyed being the offensive star against his former team. The Bruins for sure will be a tough team for an opponent to beat 4 times in a series! One good thing, the Bruins winning here probably saved a few Montreal city police cars from being burned.

  • Pittsburgh vs- Philadelphia: We predicted the 5th seeded Flyers would beat the Pens in 6 games. The actual result was a Penguin series victory in 6. The top Penguin forwards (Malkin/Crosby) turned up their games to help the Pens beat the Flyers for the second consecutive season. M-A Fleury is quickly(if not already) losing his not reliable goalie label. He the past 2 seasons is showing why he was drafted #1 overall in 2003. Meanwhile after winning game 5 in the Igloo the Flyers couldn't protect a 3-0 lead at home. The turning point folks are saying is when tough guy, Dan Carcillo pummelled Max Talbot possibly awakening the sleeping tiger that was the Pens offense. Meanwhile, some day perhaps the Flyers will realize that you won't succeed in the playoffs with a mediocre goalie?

  • NY Rangers vs- Washington: We predicted a Caps series win in 6. The Rangers succumbed in 7. Washington became only the 21st team in NHL history to come back down 3-1 in a series. Washington's first series victory since the 1997-98 season. As we surmised Lundqvist was the reason this wasn't a short series as the Caps dominated the Rangers in every game other than game 7 when the Blueshirts were the better team through the first 40 minutes. However 20 (now 21) year old Russian net minder Symeon Varmalov proved to be capable of Cup pressure (allowing seven goals in six games) as well and along with fellow Russians Semin and the old man Fedorov( oldest player to score a game-winning goal in a Game 7) propelled the Caps to victory in game 7 last night.

2) Next in the West:

  • Detroit- Columbus: We predicted the Wings would prevail in 5. It turned out to be even easier than that with a 4 game sweep. The wings outscored the Blue jackets 18-7 in the series. 12-2 in the first 3 games! The Jackets, as many foresaw, were playoff novices and it showed. Even the likely Calder and possible Vezina winner Steve Mason couldn't hold off the RedWing juggernaut. This first round sweep was just the tonic the older Wings needed to prepare their Cup defense against tougher later round opponents

  • Vancouver vs- St. Louis: We predicted a Canuck victory in 6. The Blues fell in a sweep as it appeared that their fight for a playoff spot left little in their tanks to do much in their first round matchup against the Sedins and Luongo who were phenomenal in dispatching the Blues in quick order. It was the franchises first ever sweep. Have to give props to the Blues who never gave up and made the post season without some of their bigger stars. We'd have to say they will be back. The Canucks could benefit from the time off as some players are nursing nagging injuries

  • Chicago vs- Calgary: We predicted the Flames would win in 7. Instead the Blackhawks overwhelmed the hurting Flames in 6. In reality it wasn't even that close. The Flames were ousted in the first round for a fourth straight season.(following their Final appearance in 2004) As for the Hawks, they won a playoff series for the first time in 13 years. Its hard to say if things would have been different if Calgary were healthy, but the Blackhawks certainly showed that they are a team to be reckoned with now and in the future. (The Blackhawks are the youngest team in the NHL.) Also this series showed that 'The Bulin Wall' is back!

  • Anaheim vs- San Jose: We predicted a Ducks upset in 7. It turned out that it didn't even take them that long as the Ducks beat the perennial chokers from Silicon Valley in 6 games. Joe Thornton may have won his one on one fight with Ryan Getzlaf in game 6, but Ryan and his team won the most important battle/the war. We won't dwell on the Sharks as we did a post on that yesterday. The Ducks may be one of the best 8th seeds to make the NHL post season in many a year. Jonas Hiller answered in the affirmative folks who were wondering if he could be the #1 guy in the post season with former playoff MVP Guigere riding the pine.

3) So the final 8 matchups are set. In the East we have:

  • Pittsburgh-Washington

  • Carolina- Boston

In the West we have

  • Detroit-Anaheim

  • Vancouver-Chicago

Look for our series predictions/analysis out tomorrow! As always, keep it here for all the latest!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Universal Sign For Choking?

1) Of course we at Fauxrumors were not shocked to see the Sharks fall to the Ducks in their first round match up. In fact we predicted the outcome we saw last night. However, after completing their Presidents Trophy season; almost leading the entire NHL from start to finish, and having choked in the past several seasons, its long past time to examine why this franchise seems to choke, colossally annually.

2) Before we do, we of course have to acknowledge the Ducks accomplishment of beating the regular season champs with relative ease. If an outsider were to have tuned in it would have appeared that the Ducks were the #1 overall seed and the Sharks the lower positioned team. It has to also be acknowledged that the Sharks got the shaft in the matchup. As we mentioned a few weeks back many times a first round success/failure can be traced to what team plays whom. We believe that if San Jose had played either Columbus or St Louis (or even Calgary) they probably wouldn't be booking tee times this morning. Instead they drew perhaps the hottest, best equipped playoff hardened team in the Western Conference (Not to mention bitter rivals).

3) If the Sharks had previous playoff success this years flop would probably been more understandable/palatable to the faithful Shark fans. However coupling past seasons disappointments and this years relative huge upset serious questions have to be asked with regard to management/personnel. We suppose the crutch that it is the coaches fault can not be used here as Ron Wilson, the whipping boy the previous years, was replaced by Todd McLellan who has followed Wilson, and Daryl Sutter as coaches who have failed to get the Sharks past the second round despite perennial regular season success. The man who (deservedly) is at the fore front of the picture of playoff failure after regular season success is Big Joe Thornton.

4) Perhaps the Bruins knew something when they traded the big center, and first overall pick in the 1997 draft early in the 2005-06 season. At the time the B's were trashed as making an awful deal (it didn't bring back much) However now in retrospect perhaps it was addition by subtraction? Since then the Bruins have retooled and appear poised to make a serious Cup run, while Joe's team is 'one and done'. In 76 playoff games with both SJ and Boston Thornton has a whopping 12 goals. Yes, his totals are decent (53 points), but when you are in the top 5 of NHL scoring during the regular season, you can't just be mediocre, you have to lead. Teams that succeed have their best players play at their best. Joe has NEVER been at his best in any of his 8 playoffs.

5) So can SJ pull a Boston and unload Thornton this summer? Unlikely as Joe has 2 additional seasons left on his current contract that will pay the underachiever 7.2 million! With the contracting/flat lining salary cap that's hardly the kind of salary a team would take on to add a player who plays at his worst when his team needs him most. The Sharks are in a bind and will probably end up making other changes to their team that we believe will not likely change their spring fortunes. In the meantime its very likely the image below will soon become the picture denoted as the Universal Choking sign.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is Avery a Marked Man?

1) So does the NHL have the game's super bad boy on double secret probation? Is there an edict that came down from on high (Bettman) that Sean was to be given no benefits of the doubt/watched super closely? It certainly appears that way to us at Fauxrumors. Do not misunderstand, we are not big Sean Avery fans. However, we are also not huge detractors either. We believe all should be treated equally. From what we have seen thus far in the past few weeks, especially in the first 4 games of the rangers current playoff series with the caps, Avery is being called for every small/large infraction that is possible.

2) We are not saying that any of the calls have been wrong/fabricated. Far from it. Sean has 'earned' every PIM. However, we believe if another player with out his past had done exactly what he has done these 4 games that player would not have been penalized nearly as much/often. Of course Avery should realize/know this by now and take steps to not be the focal point by avoiding these situations. However, we believe that Sean is totally unable to control himself. It remains to be seen if Avery can contribute or detract from his teams chances of advancing. We can not foresee this latest 'second chance, (sloppy seconds) as lasting much beyond these playoffs and part of next season before John Tortorella explodes and banishes Avery, once again.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Big Trouble?

1) For most series we are only into the first 2 games, but already most of the teams that are behind can be classified as being' In Trouble!"

  • Canuck-vs Blues: The Canucks have a stranglehold 3-0 lead after winning another close one last evening. We picked the Canucks a and Blues to have a tight series, which it has, but so far the 'Nucks have won all the close games. Its all but over now.

  • Bruins- vs Canadiens: As most expected the B's dominated the Habs at their home barn. Looking dominant in their impressive 5-1 thrashing of Montreal Saturday. We ca see the Habs putting up a better fight in their home rink, but from the looks of things this series is over.

  • Red wings vs Blue Jackets: In the battle of colours, looks like Red is going to beat Blue. The Wings looked to be back to their playoff dominating selves with an impressive white washing of Columbus Saturday to take a 2-0 lead. We're looking forward to Columbus's first home playoff game. They best keep their emotions in check else this could be a very short series.

  • Rangers vs Capitals: An upset in the making. So far Henrik Lundqvist has been the difference here. Shutting down/out the Caps high powered offense. Taking the first two games in the Nation's Capital. The series shifts to Broadway tonight where the boys from DC best come out and show why they were the #2 seed, else this also will be a very short series.

  • Ducks vs Sharks: Most, other than Fauxrumors, are surprised to see the Ducks come out with a 2-0 series lead after two at the Shark tank. Its not over by any measure, but the Sharks now are in a deep hole and now have to move south to try to even the series and prove to the hockey world that they are more than a regular season phenomenon. Obviously, we think they are. The only question is how long until these sharks are done.

  • Black Hawks vs Flames: So far the young guys are winning the small battles over the vets and have a 2-0 lead going back to The saddledome. This series is NOT over, but the Flames had best turn up the heat else they might be heading to the links earlier than many predicted.

2) Not all the series are looking to be quick/short.

  • Devils vs Hurricanes. So far this is probably the closest series with the OT winner by NJ last evening they now have a 2-1 lead, but anyone who has watched these games can see its still up for grabs.

  • Penguins vs Flyers. We may have placed this series in the 'trouble' column if not for the impressive victory by the Flyers yesterday to cut the pens lead to 2-1. Still, the Flyers can not afford to lose their next game because we can not see them over coming a 3-1 series deficit.

3) As we wrote before the playoffs, many times a teams fortunes are determined by the 'matchup' they draw in especially these early series. The biggest illustration of this is the SJ-Anaheim series. We believe that the Sharks would/could have done better than they have so far if they had drawn Columbus or the Blues as their first round opponent. One of the times that winning the conference was not a good thing. We will continue to monitor all the series and report back our observations. As always, keep it here for all the latest!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

2009 Playoff Predictions-West

1) Now for the difficult part. How to figure out this mess. There are several very good hockey teams here that won't win a round. Unfair, but that's the way the NHL works. Years ago it was the other way around; with the East much more powerful from top to bottom and the West seemingly only having 2-3 teams worth watching. Like our East predictions we will go through each series and come up with our picked eventual winner.

2) San Jose(1) vs- Anaheim(8) REGULAR SEASON SERIES (4-2 Sharks) The first 'Battle of California'! The Sharks couldn't have chosen a worse first round opponent. The Ducks have only gone 10-2-1 the past few weeks, including a 5-2 win at San Jose on April 4th. Much like the Pennsylvania battle, these teams do NOT like each other and it shows with epic battles that we at Fauxrumors is looking forward to! Keys: The Sharks have wilted annually in the heat of spring, can Todd McLellan bring a winning attitude to the Silicon Valley so they can finally shed that persona? Can Jonas Hiller be 'the guy' and outplay Nabokov? We like the Ducks combo of skill AND toughness(much like Philly) and can see a an upset in the making here, but it will be close/fun to watch!
Ducks in 7

3) Detroit (2) vs- Columbus (7) REGULAR SEASON SERIES (Tied 3-3) A TV friendly all Eastern time zone Western conference series. First off a mighty congrats to the Blue Jackets and their fans on their first entry into the Stanley Cup playoffs! That said, we feel the Wings dodged a bullet when the Ducks fell to 8th instead of the playoff novice Jackets. Keys: The biggest question/key will of course be goaltending. On the Wings side it has been inconsistent all year, but that was the case to some degree as well, and we see how that turned out. 200 feet away can Steve Mason(our Vezina/Calder winner) handle his first post season as well/coolly as he did his rookie campaign? The Redwings MAY be ripe for the upset, but we don't see the upstart Jackets as being up to the task to dethrone the defending champs in the first round.
RedWings in 5

4) Vancouver(3) vs- St. Louis(6) REGULAR SEASON SERIES (Tied 2-2) Like Columbus, few saw the Blues as challengers to a spot this season, especially after the numerous early season injuries. Here we have two of the hottest teams down the stretch. The Canucks have gone 23-7-2 since Feb 1. Impressive, huh? OK, how about 21-7-6, the record the Blues take into the final 6 weeks. We don't want to hear about the excuse of injuries again with the Blues advancing despite 461 man-games lost! Keys: can the 'other Mason', Chris, hold off the now potent Canucks attack and match Roberto Luongo save for save? Like Brodeur, Luongo missed time die to injury and is better rested ready? For that reason we see the boys from British Columbia advancing.
Canucks in 6

5) Chicago (4) vs- Calgary (5) REGULAR SEASON SERIES (Black Hawks 4-0) Probably the second most compelling Western series after the California battle. Hard not to root for the Hawks here. They have some very exciting young players and now have the Windy City excited for hockey for the first time in many years, and a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2002 A month ago we would have placed the Flames as a Cup contender, now not so much with their March slide that cost them the NW division. Is Ollie Jokkinen a cancer? He is about to play his first playoff game and since his acquisition the Flames have been sucky! Keys: Can the Flames get their defense healthy and get the old Kipper back in form? How will the kids(Towes/Kane, etc) do in their first playoff games? We think the Hawks will put up on hel of a fight, but in the end experience will win out and the Flames will win a very long/tough series.
Flames in 7

2009 Playoff Predictions- East

1) Welcome to the NHL's second(real) season. We would argue that there is NO better all around tournament in all of pro sports. Let the games begin! We will go through each series; dissect what the most important factors are, and come up with who will win in how many games. We hope to do even better than our regular season predictions. First we will do the unpredictable East. Followed by the power house West. Enjoy.

2) Canadiens (1) vs. Bruins(8): REGULAR SEASON SERIES (5-1 Bruins) Can't be the post season without these two original 6 squaring off?! They meet for a fourth time in past seven postseasons. In the past it doesn't seem to matter where either club is in the standings. The teams trade spots from last season, when Boston held the 8th spot. Despite the positioning we see this as a much closer series than many might predict. Keys: Can Carey Price play up to the expectations and trade save for save with Tim Thomas? Can the trio of Alex Kovalev with Saku Koivu and Alex Tanguay get it done? Will the Habs' best defensemen, Andre Markov play? With Savard, Kessel, Bergeron, etc the B's have the best balanced scoring in the East. In the end the Bruins should win this old Adams division battle, but not in a cake walk.
Bruins in 7

3) Capitals(2) vs. NY Rangers(7): REGULAR SEASON SERIES (3-1 Capitals). These are NOT the same Rangers that snoozed through the middle portion of the season. With the trade deadline additions, new coach and Sean Avery they are a much more dangerous team/difficult team to play against. Not to mention Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best in the business. Keys: This series pits the Rangers poor PP/offense and good goaltending vs the Caps top PP and average at best net minding. Can the Rangers more veteran team overcome the Caps youth/inexperience? Normally we'd say the best goalie will win, but here we believe in the end the Caps fire power will overwhelm the Ranger's defense, but there won't be any blowouts here and perhaps a couple OT games deciding the outcome of the series.
Capitals in 6

4)New Jersey (3) vs Carolina (6): REGULAR SEASON SERIES (3-1 Hurricanes). Probably the least compelling first round match-up. However should be quite a close, hard fought series. Up front both teams posses stud forwards and grizzled vets. Staal-vs Parise will be the focus of opposition defenses. Keys: The goaltending match up is interesting. We have maintained that in the past Brodeur's playing 70+ games was a detriment to his post season now that he's 35+. His injury forced him to 'rest' so will he be the key? On the other side Cam Ward is playing every bit as well as he did when he was the 2006 playoff MVP. Can he carry that into the playofffs? We feel this will be a multiple OT series. We'll put our faith/money on a rested Marty.
Devils in 7

5) Pittsburgh (4) vs- Philadelphia(5) REGULAR SEASON SERIES (4-2 Pens) The battle of Pennsylvania! Probably the series to watch and will be the most exciting from a fans perspective. Two very talented teams that don't like each other much. They faced off last season in the Eastern Conference Finals when the Pens won in 5, but that Flyers team was banged up pretty well, especially on the back line. Both teams can throw multiple dangerous scoring lines out there. Arguably the Flyers possess more 'grit', but will have to restrain some of that 'enthusiasm' (leagues most penalized team) if they want to advance. Keys: Which Francophone goalie will carry his team? Both Fleury and Biron played very well in last years post season, with M-A playing a tad better. Can Selke likely nominee Richards hold down Crosby/Malkin? In the end we believe this Flyers team is built for playoff wins, but none will come easy. Enjoy folks!Flyers in 6

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Reward For Sucking?

1) The NHL will conduct its Draft Lottery today, Tuesday, April 14th. The lottery will take place in-studio with NHL deputy-commissioner Bill Daly revealing the results live on-air. This will be the 2nd time the draft lottery has been aired live on television since the 'Crosby Draft' of 2005, and for only the third time in 13 years. The lottery will also be simulcast live on the, NHL Network,

2) The bottom 14 (non-playoff) teams in the NHL will be eligible for the lottery, where odds are weighted by least amount of regular season points. The winning lottery team can move up no more than four spots in the draft and no team can move back more than one.

3) Here's the breakdown:

  • The five lowest-finishing teams that have a crack at the No. 1 pick: The 30th place team has a 25% chance of winning the drawing, followed by 18.8% for the 29th place team, 14.2% for 28th, 10.7% for 27th and 8.1% for 26th.

  • The other nine non-play-off teams also have a diminishing chance of winning the lottery, but if they win they just move up four positions in the draft. For example, the 25th place team has a 6.2% chance of winning and would shift to the No. 2 spot in the draft. And, if a 25th to 17th place team wins the lottery, the first overall pick remains with the 30th place team. That's why, when all the math is done, finishing last provides a team with a 48.2% chance of picking first.

4) Here's are a few odd facts:

  • In 13 draft lotteries since its inception in 1995, the team finishing 30th has been rewarded with the first pick just four times.

  • The team finishing in third-last has been promoted to the first pick four times, even though the odds of that happening are just 14.2%.

  • The second to worst finisher has NEVER won the draft lottery! Not only has the second-worst team never won the draft lottery in 12 attempts, but on four occasions it is has been pushed back one drafting spot when the third-worst team won the lottery. If we were betting folks we'd say that this will be the year the second suckiest team wins the lottery.

5) Of course we will renew our objection to the whole lottery process. Our position, though radical and controversial, would eliminate all possible doubt, and no longer reward failure/incompetence. That is do what was done in the 'Crosby sweepstakes' (2005 draft). Have ALL teams' draft order determined equally by a lottery. It would be a great/exciting show, like then, to have every team a chance at the 1st pick, and it eliminates once and for all any chance that teams would be disincentivized from playing their best/best players at all times!

6) It forces GM's/teams to improve by making good decisions, not by tanking a season or two to rebuild and getting good picks. It eliminates ANY notion that teams aren't playing their best each and every night. Also, and as importantly, it stops once and for all the idiotic notion of reward for failure. While we're a it stop the 'loser point' in games. You lose, you get zero points for your effort!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Our Awards Picks

1) With the LONG NHL regular season now in the books, we figured we'd throw our 2 cents into the Blogosphere on who SHOULD win the various awards in Vegas in June. We will list who we feel should win as well as who should be the 3 Finalists. (The official designation will be released by the NHL during the post season and the awards show is slated for Las Vegas on June 14th.

2) Hart: Alex Ovechkin. Runners up: Evgeny Malkin, Steve Mason. The voting will undoubtedly be a lot closer this time around, but in the end the same winner as last season should prevail yet again. Evgeny Malkin closed the gap significantly with his countryman with an amazing performance of his own, but the combo of winning the Richard, most game winning goals, and the other intangibles he adds to help his team win make #8 our Hart winner again.

3) Norris: Mike Green. Runners up Nicklas Lidstrom, Zdeno Chara. Not until you place his numbers into perspective does the amazing offensive season Mike Green had become apparent. Missing 12 games he still easily led all defensemen in scoring, had a great +/- and played big minutes. Finally deposing the reigning Norris winner Lidtsrom, who had yet another solid, near great season himself.

4) Vezina: Steve Mason. Runners up: Tim Thomas, Niklas Backstrom. Another tough call to make. In the end the rookie who plays behind a much less experienced defense/forward group in Columbus, helping them to their first ever playoff berth won out. However, it wouldn't be a shocker to see Thomas given the award as his numbers were extraordinary

5) Selke:Pavel Datsyuk. Runners up: David Krejci, Mike Richards: One of the more difficult trophies to predict as the criteria is unclear/ambiguous. From past winners it has recently gone to the forward who COMBINES good defensive numbers (+/- and PK numbers) with good offensive numbers. With that in mind we see Datsyuk winning the award with the other two close runners up


6) Calder:Steve Mason.Runners up: Pekka Rinne, Bobby Ryan Probably the easiest trophy to predict despite our proclamation 2 weeks ago that it could be a shared trophy. With us giving Mason the Vezina honors it would be impossible to not have him our Calder winner as well. Kudos to Rinne and Ryan who had great rookie campaigns in their own rights!

7) Masterton Trophy: (award given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication) Brian Pothier. Runners up: Steve Sullivan, Richard Zednik. Another difficult award to handicap. Seems to lately go to the player who makes the best comeback. All 3 of our candidates fit that bill, and flip a coin who you think should win.

8) Adams: Ken Hitchcock. Runners up: Claude Julian, Brent Sutter, Todd McLellan. Have to give the award to the good Captain for getting this team into the post season for the first time. Until their last month swoon, we had Brent Sutter winning, now he might lose his job at any moment. ; ) Also good mention to Julian (another Lamarello casualty) and McClellan for guiding their talented teams to conference wins

9)Pearson: Alex Ovechkin (See Hart)

9) Art Ross: Evgeny Malkin. Congrats to the second best Russian, and best player on Pittsburgh for finishing first in the NHL's scoring race to earn his first Art Ross trophy, but an astounding 13 NHL scoring titles in the past 21 seasons for the Flightless birds,!

10) Lady Byng: What exactly is the purprose of this award? Traditionally to the best player who doesn't fight much, and also isn't going to win any of the other awards? Martin St Louis. Runners up: Patrick Marleau, Pavel Datsyuk

11) Rocket Richard: Alex Ovechkin. The Great-8 wins his second consectutive Richard trophy for most goals. Easily out pacing his nearest rivals (again) No other player in the league eclipsed the 50 goal plateau. Completing only his 4th season the Russian already has over 220 goals!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Week 26: Results

Happy Easter Everyone!

1) The NHL regular season schedule finishes up tonight, but for all intents and purposes our season ended last night with the last of our 26 weekly Saturday picks. For the day/night we went 7-6. Hardly impressive, but not too shabby. On the year we went a very solid 176-127 for a solid .580 winning %, or 49 games above .500! For picking 303 NHL games, mighty good! Even better with winning another Lock of the week yesterday we add to that impressive stat to 20-6, or winning 78% of those weekly picks!!

2) See all of ya here for picks next fall. In the mean time the NHL's second season opens Wednesday. Before then look for our Fauxrumors NHL awards picks tomorrow, and our playoff picks out Wednesday! As always, keep it here for al the latest!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

(Final) Week 26 Predictions

1) Where has the time gone? Seems we just started the regular season yesterday? Right? Well, maybe not yesterday, but it has gone by in a Flash. Today/night of the NHL's final regular season Saturday there are 13 full games up for grabs. A chance to finish up strongly and bolster our impressive 169-121 record, or a chance to fall below our season winning % of .583

Carolina at New Jersey: Devils

Chicago at Detroit: Red Wings

Vancouver at Colorado: Canucks

Boston at Buffalo: Bruins

Pittsburgh at Montreal: Penguins

Ottawa at Toronto: Maple Leafs

Washington at Florida: Capitals

Tampa Bay at Atlanta: Thrashers

Minnesota at Columbus: Blue Jackets

Anaheim at Phoenix: Ducks

Edmonton at Calgary: Flames (Lock of The Week)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Vinny's Last Game in Tampa Bay?

1) Has Vincent Lecavalier suited up for Tampa Bay for the last time? As the Lightning play their final home game this evening against Washington might it be the last time the star center is part of the Bolt's organization? Our sources tell us what many have also been saying; Its almost a guarantee that Lecavalier will be dealt by or on draft day. Its no coincidence that the draft will be held in Montreal. So any possible deal, even if its consummated earlier may be left to be announced on draft day for increased publicity, etc. The way this season is turning out for the Habs they might need all the positive publicity they can get.

2) So why are the Lightning going to trade a player they just signed last summer? Money! The 12 year extension will pay Lecavalier 10 million for the next 7 seasons after his one. More importantly, it includes a no trade clause that kicks in on July 1st. Thus the need to get this done BEFORE 7/1/09, else Vinny's a Bolt for life (unless he were to waive the clause at some point). So why did the team even sign Lecavalier to the extension in the first place? Good question. TB owners Oren Koules wanted to make a big splash when they first took over. They felt the new coach, Stamkos, new Free agents and getting their star signed long term would signal to the fans that they were going to be here and contending for the long term. Unfortunately for them the team fizzled out quickly, and so did the national economy. Hurting the ownerships bottom lines to the point that they traded away two injured players on deadline day (Kolzig/Heward) to Toronto for a 4th round pick to save 400K!

3) So can Montreal fit Vinny's into their salary structure? We asked and we were told "absolutely". The Habs have many UFA's after this season. Specifically Kovolev, Lang, and Koivu who combined account for 14 million in salary may have played their last games in Quebec, or may have to take pay cuts to return. Additionally Gainey is trying to deal Georges Laraque or possibly buy the oft injured enforcer out.

4) So what will the Habs part with to get LeCavalier? It may not be as much as you would think. As one western scout told us, "Its very rare to get equal value back when you trade a super star". Ask the Bruins and the Joe Thornton trade how that works! Probably a few draft picks will come Tampa's way. This years 1st and maybe next years as well. Chris Higgins and maybe the younger Kostitsyn brother. Our analysis is this. Montreal may appear to win the deal, but we don't see Vinny bringing a Cup back to his home town. The Habs and Vinny too will soon regret this deal, we say sooner rather than later!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Power rankings- End of Season Edition

1) Yes, yes, we know the season still has a few games remaining, but when we approached FR about doing one last Power rankings they asked us to do it prior to the end of the season since we will be busy handicapping the playoff races as well as publishing award winners, etc. So without further discussion here is our final Power rankings for the 2008-2009 season. Again as before, each of the 30 teams is listed with their previous ranking in parentheses from 3/11/09. As always we rank all 30 teams based upon overall record and recent play.

1) San Jose- (3) The Sharks are back a top our rankings as they are also the entire NHL heading into the post season. Looks like they are headed for their first Presidents' Trophy. However, as we have mentioned all season, its all about 16 W's in the spring, not the regular season. Good news is that Jonathan Cheechoo seems to be getting hot at the right time

2) Detroit- (1) A testament to their consistency of excellence, the Wings are the third team in history to notch four consecutive 50-win seasons. Additionally, Mike Babcock is the only coach to win 50 games in his first four seasons with a team. Congrats! That said, cracks in their armour have been evident/can be exploited.

3) Boston (5)- The beasts of the East, the Bruins clinched home ice throughout the first 3 rounds by winning their conference. With a solid 3 scoring lines, shut down defense, and Vezina goaltending the B's are set to compete for the silver trophy!

4) Carolina- (11) No team has been hotter/better the past couple of weeks. Punctuated with a monster showing 9-0 against the Islanders last night. Its arguable that Cam Ward is playing better than when the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup. Not the team we'd want to face in the opening round!

5) Chicago- (8)- Seem to be playing well at the right time. Outside of Carolina, no one is playing better recently. Now the hard part, which goalie do they start for the playoffs? The UFA to be Khabibulin who has a Cup to his resume, or the guy they paid big bucks, Huet, who has yet to win in the spring?

6) Washington- (9) Despite Ovechkin having a shot at a second consecutive scoring title with 15 points in his past six games, its the secondary scoring that has bolstered Caps fans hopes of a long playoff run. Still, the key will be how well their goaltending can take them

7) Anaheim-(24) Fear the Ducks! That's what SJ should be doing. The former champs are playing their best hockey to salvage their season and propel themselves into the playoffs where they could be a dangerous, some might say, sleeper team. The line of Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan is as good as any right now

8) Pittsburgh- (7) Like the Ducks have been playing well to salvage a playoff spot. Firing Therrian seemed to be the tonic the team needed. Can they repeat as conference champs? Never underestimate teams that have been there before!

9) St. Louis- (16) Up significantly since our last rankings. On the precipice of a playoff berth. They hold their fates in their own hands. They are a solid 7-2-1 in their last 10, being propelled by David Backes, who topped the 30-goal mark. It would be a nice story if the Blues were able to hold on

10) Vancouver-(10) Maintain their top 10 spot with an up and down few weeks. Won last night to continue their challenge of the Flames for the division. With two each to go its any one's to win and gain home ice the first round. As we mentioned last time around similar to NJ in that their Vezina calibre goalie, Roberto Luongo, will go into the post season relatively rested.

11) Philadelphia-(4) Dropped a bit in our rankings, as they lost a chance to win their division despite Jersey's swoon. Still going to be a tough squad to go against for the playoffs. Will go as far as Biron can take them. Too bad they don't have a better tender, as they would challenge Boston for the conference.

12) Columbus-(15) All but have clinched the franchises first ever playoff berth. The good news, they only lost twice in regulation in their past 10. The bad news, only 4 regulation wins in that span. They'll have to improve that consistency to hang around long in the post season

13) New Jersey (2) Went from Cup contender to pretender? Seems since Brodeur set the wins record the Devils have been in cruise control at half speed, winning only 3 of their past 10. can they turn it back up next week? Could Adams candidate Brent Sutter's job be in jeopardy? On any other team we'd say no.

14) Calgary- (6) Lost a big game last night to Vancouver for the division crown/home ice the first round. The team is playing very inconsistently the past few weeks opening the door to the Canucks to steal the NW. It could mean the difference of a Chicago match-up instead of an apparent easier Bluejackets first round opponent.

15) NY Rangers (17) Playing just good enough to make the playoffs. Still haven't clinched, but merely need 1 win in their final 2 games to qualify regardless what Fla does. A rematch of the Sean Avery-Tim Thomas altercation in the playoffs could make for a compelling story. Scary stat for John Tortorella: Rangers haven't scored in the 3rd period in their last 8 games!

16) Minnesota- (19) Playoffs appear to be out of reach for 'The Gum Chewer''s team. Great goaltending by Niklas Backstrom has not been enough. Playing around .500 the past few weeks hasn't helped their chances. We believe we've seen the last of Lemaire behind the Wild bench(which probably means Gaborik will return)

17) Montreal- (13) The Habs continued their slide and have barely held on to their playoff positioning. A far cry from mid season when they were a lock to be a 4th seed at least. Alex Kovalev has been hot as has the team's PP, but with the losses of Markov and Schneider for the playoffs, their chances of advancement is slim to none

18) Nashville- (12) Their up and down season appears ready to end on the down side as they are on the outside looking in for the playoffs. Going 4-3-3 in the past few weeks is not a way to advance. Still, we are impressed how Barry Trotz has kept this team in the race all season long.

19) Florida- (14) By playing barely .500 the past few weeks the Panthers have probably blown their shot at making the playoffs for the first time in 9 years! Unless they win their last 2 and the Rangers lose their final 2 games its another near-miss. Also look for Jay Bowmeester to become a UFA and leave the sinking ship. How much longer will the team stay put/alive in south Fla?

20) Buffalo- (20) Just about out of the playoffs. Only a miracle would get them in now, and winning only 4 of their past 10 is the reason for the disappointment. Even the return of Ryan Miller to the nets hasn't turned the tide. Can we finally agree that Lindy Ruff is an over rated coach?

21) Phoenix- (29) Seemed poised to vie for the Taveres sweep stakes, but have been playing better recently to pull them out of the bottom 3 (they still could win the lottery). They have gone 7-6-2 since the trade deadline. Might they deal goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in the off season? Do they need a new coach? Overall a disappointing season in the desert. Another franchise that might be on the move soon.

23) Edmonton- (21) Like Buffalo, mathematically still alive, but on life support. The plug gets pulled soon! Winning a mere 3 of their last 10 should be cause for changes behind the bench despite their owners support of McTavish. Also, Sam Gagner has suffered a huge soph slump, and the team has been only average at Rexall all season.

24) Dallas- (23) Eliminated themselves from the playoff hunt in the past couple of weeks by winning only 2 of their past 10 games. can't blame Sean Avery for this. The team can probably point to the loss of star forward Brad Richards as the point that their season ended

25) Toronto- (18) After a brief spurt, the Leafs have returned to playing at or near .500 and are poised for another non playoff/lottery season-No man's land. Perhaps Paul Maurice wasn't the problem? Folks in Carolina probably don't mind. Lets see what the GM-genius, Brian Burke can come up with this off season

26) Atlanta (22) To their credit they have played teams tough despite playing for only pride at this point. Johan Hedberg is playing for another NHL contract. Their better play may have cost their shot at Hedmen/Taveres, but will probably still be a lottery team. Things may look promising on the ice, but off its far from certain the franchise can survive in Atlanta

27) Los Angeles (26) We'd have to say this was a disappointing season in LA. Like Phoenix, we expected more from this bunch. They also probably will finish with too many points to get into lottery contention. A lost season perhaps, but with a few moves/maturation we can see the Kings in the post season next spring

28) Tampa Bay-(30) With the bottom 3 teams garnering an impressively bad 4 wins in their past combined 30 games, it was difficult to place these teams. Just when you thought the season couldn't get any worse, captain Vincent Lecavalier's season ended because of wrist surgery(might he be done in TB?) An example on how bad things have been:the Lightning hold the NHL record for most defenseman used in one season- 21

29) NY Islanders-(25) It was a coin toss on who to place 30th. Especially after their implosion last night in Raleigh. However, they did manage to stay near .500 since the All-Star break, whereas the Avs have been abysmal in this time period. Still, being 29th is no prize. Looks like they have the bottom spot locked up and a guarantee of either Taveres or Hedman depending on who wins the lottery.

30) Colorado (28) Not only their first sub. 500 record since moving to Denver in 1995, but also a lottery season, although they probably blew the chance to finish last. Also perhaps they will learn that Tony Granato isn't the right man for the job in Colorado? All in all it would be a shame that captain Joe Sakic might end his career this way

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Long Good Bye!?

1) With the expected flat lining of the salary cap (with significant player money withheld- up to 18%) followed by an expected significant DROP in the salary cap in 10-11, many teams are going to be cutting back in anticipation of this new fiscal reality starting THIS coming off season. We are told to expect a larger number of buyouts as teams try desperately to unload bad contracts (decisions). WE are also told that impending free agents, both RFA as well as the impressive crop of UFA's are going to be in for a rude awakening when their agents sit down to negotiate new deals. The long term deals with mega bucks will be much more rare, and many may find themselves getting significantly less than their team mates last summer.

2) However the other component to this story is that we will likely see many players forced to retire. We saw this take place in the first post lock out year when many older players were forced to eventually retire before they felt they were ready because teams simply no longer wanted to risk their finite assets on the 35+ year olds. In the last few years with the expanding cap, older players have been able to hang on. However, we are hearing that this summer will see a significant number of big names either retire out right or end up fading away when the calls go unanswered and they re forced to accept the reality that their NHL careers are over.

3) So who are some of the bigger names who may be playing in their final NHL season?

  • Scott Niedermayer- The elder brother may decide to return , but if he does it will have to be at a reduced rate from the current 6.8 mil he's getting

  • Mark Recchi- The perennial deadline trade fodder is over 40. He still can play a decent 'half court game, but is too slow to be an effective top line forward.

  • Max Afinogenov- Not many in the NHL/Buffalo will miss Minimum Afinogenov. At 3.5 mil he was a bust! Time to play in the KHL comrade!

  • Teppo Numminen- The 40 year old Finn worked hard to comeback this season, but has lost a step, and is a shadow of his former self. We doubt we'll see Teppo back.

  • Michael Peca- The former power forward is more of a utility player than a significant contributor now. Appears to be older than his 34 years.

  • Chris Gratton- Muck like Peca, at 32 appears to be done. One of the more over rated players the past decade. We doubt he'll get more than a 2 way offer this summer

  • Joe Sakic- Captain Joe's long and storied career may be at an end. Injuries have hampered the Av's captain the past 2 seasons. He's one of the players that could return if he chose. Its 50:50 right now we hear

  • Mark Parrish- After getting bought out last summer Mark's career appeared over. He got a brief reprieve this year, but hasn't done anything to earn another look. Time to hang em' up!

  • Sergei Zubov- One of the better/under appreciated defensemen of the past decade, however the 38 year old Russian has suffered numerous injuries the past 2 years. If he returns it'll be at a significant pay cut from the 5.3 mil he made this season

  • Chris Chelios- The 59 year old ageless wonder is probably in his last year in Mo-town, playing a sparingly 24 games. perhaps a nostalgic return to Chicago for one final season to be eligible for the Olympics in 2010?

  • Dwayne Roloson- Pushing 40, but the combo of having respectable numbers and a dearth of quality UFA goalies will probably earn Dwayne a short deal at less tan the 3.5 mil he made this year.

  • Mathieu Schneider- Matt will probably be back to play in his 20 th NHL season but he's gonna take a serious pay cut from the 5.7 mil he made in 08-09

  • Greg De Vries:The 37 year old defender's effectiveness has waned the past few seasons. Not worth the 2.5 mil cap hit.

  • Bobby Holik-In limited time the 38 year old has looked his age. We doubt the Devils will have Bobby back, unless he wants to begin his coaching career in the organization?

  • Brendan Shanahan- Brendan has earned another invite at a similar salary(under 1 mil+incentives) if he wants to continue his long Hall of Fame career.

  • Kevin Weekes- Has lasted a long time as a perennial back up on 8 different teams in a decade career. The road is probably over for the Toronto native

  • Doug Weight- Has made it clear he'd like to return to LI. Had few offers this past summer. Might get a team to bite if he's willing to take a low salary for i year + incentives

  • Mike Sillinger- Multiple hip issues have probably ended the long career of Sillinger.

  • Derian Hatcher- The 37 year old has been hobled by injuries the past coupe of years. we don't see the Flyers resigning the Michigan native

  • Ken Klee- Like Mark Parrish, got one last shot. Unlike Parrrish he's probably earned another NHL contract

  • Miroslav Satan- Pitt regretted signing the 33 year old Slovak to a 3.5 mil deal. He's playing out his deal in Wilkes Barre, and probably won't see an NHL rink again.

  • Bill Guerin- If he's willing to take a Doug Weight type contract we can see Bill returning to Pitt for one last go around, else he's done

  • Jeremy Roenick- The 40 year old isn't contributing much on the ice to earn the 1 million the team is paying. This might finally be it for JR

  • Claude Lemieux- The experiment of bringing in the 47 year old has failed. Nice story, but see no reason for it to continue

  • Rob Blake- may be having a renaissance season, but if Doug Wilson has any sense he won't sign the 39 year old to more than a 2 year extension at a similar salary(5 mil). At his age injuries occur frequently

  • Keith Tkachuk- The 37 year old Boston native will probably get another bloated contract from someone(probably St Louis) Has a mere 8 even strength goals all season. We'd let him go, but we're not fans

  • Manny Legace- No takers when he was available on waivers should give a clue how teams feel about the 36 year old net minder.

  • Olie Kolzig- The comeback with TB didn't work out(as much of the Lightning season didn't). Its all but assured the long time Capital has played his last NHL game.

  • Brad May- The long time agitator/enforcer is probably playing his last few NHL games. It was surprising that he even made the NHL this season

  • Curtis Joseph- (See Kolzig) hopefully fans won't recall this season when they recall CuJo's body of work. Clearly he's lost his effectiveness and his age (42) is apparent. The Hall beckons Curtis.

  • Mats Sundin- We implore, For the love of God Mats, decide on your future on the first day of the off season! Not worth the prorated 8 mil he signed for in our opinion. he may get another deal next year, but we'd offer 1/2(or less) to see the big Swede return

  • Sergei Fedorov- Has been in and out with injuries, and his output sharply down and not worth the 4 mil in cap space. We believe this is Feds swan song season. The HOF is the next stop!

  • Donald Brashear- The 38 year old has made the most of limited ability. Can fight as well as anyone, but that era sadly appears to be over and designated fighters will soon be gone.

  • Michael Nylander- No the 36 year old is not an UFA, but we are hearing whispers that he will be bought out of his remaining 2 seasons if a trade partner can't be found. If that happens Michael will probably be done in the NHL

4) Clearly not ALL the listed players here will be retiring, but we might see a large number of these and several others either not getting an offer, or not receiving what they might feel is a fair deal and hold out until its too late to get back in.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Week 25-Results

1) The next to last NHL regular season weekend is over. Another solid day going 8-3 including getting another 'Lock' correct Overall this brings our season totals to 169-121 for a .583 winning edge as well as now going 19-6 for our Locks, or an astounding .760 percentage!

2) This should be a fairly busy time here at the blog. Were told that FR2 will be posting their final regular season Power Rankings later this up coming week. Of course the season ends next Sunday after which we of course will be making our award winning Cup predictions and also make our awards predictions/selections. Be sure to look for those as well as other issues/stories we're working on here at Fauxrumors. As always, keep it here for all the latest!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Week 25 Predictions

1) The next to last weekend of the long NHL season. The schedule is chock full of some inportant games. We take our 161-118 for a .577 winning % into today's 11 games. No easy ones to pick!
NY Rangers at Boston: Bruins

New Jersey at Buffalo: Devils (Lock of The Week)

Pittsburgh at Carolina: Penguins

Tampa Bay at NY Islanders: Islanders

Philadelphia at Ottawa: Senators

Montreal at Toronto: Habitants

St. Louis at Dallas: Blues

Columbus at Nashville: Blue Jackets

Vancouver at Edmonton: Oilers

Anaheim at San Jose: Ducks

Friday, April 3, 2009

Soph Of The Year?

1) With Wednesday's opinion piece concerning the Calder race, we decided to see who of the excellent 07-08 rookie class was having the best sophomore season. Many times a players' second season sees a reduction in output; The dreaded sophomore jinx. We will run down the top Calder vote getter's and see how they are fairing this season to come up with who we believe is "The Soph of The Year".

2) Last year's Calder Finalists with total votes in parentheses, followed by their 07-08 point/win totals and this year's numbers (to date):

  • Patrick Kane- Chicago Black Hawks (1078) 21-51-72/24-41-65

  • Nicklas Backstrom- Washington Capitals (872) 14-55-69/22-62-82

  • Jonathon Towes- Chicago Black Hawks (647) 24-30-54/31-33-64

  • Carey Price-Montreal Canadiens (461) 24-12 2.56, .920/23-14, 2.77, .905

  • Peter Mueller- Phoenix Coyotes (195) 22-32-54/12-22-34

  • Milan Lucic- Boston Bruins (2) 8-19-27/17-24-41

3) Several things jump out at us here.

  • Firstly Milan Lucic has bust upon the scene quite a bit since his rookie season. Developing into one of the brighter, up and coming young power forwards in the game today

  • Peter Mueller (like his team) had one of the more disappointing soph seasons of the top Rookies. He even looked poised to possibly be the player to beat last season for a time.

  • Nicklas Backstrom, last year's runner up is by far having the best Sophomore season of any of last year's rookie class. Pacing his team in assists and eclipsing the 20 goal plateau recently. As such Backstrom is The Fauxrumors Sophomore of The Year! Sorry Nicky, no accompanying trophy/monetary reward! ; )

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Co-Calder Winners? No Fooling!

1) Fauxrumors believes based upon their stats and impacts for their respective teams that goaltenders Pekka Rinne of the Nashville predators and Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets are deserving of the co-honors as rookies of the year. Their respective talents were on display last night as the Jackets and Mason edged the Preds and Rinne 2-1 in an exciting close game by these two teams fighting to stay in the Western Conference playoff race. Both were highly touted prospects of their respective teams, but neither were supposed to be the starter coming into this past season.

2) Mason was first to burst upon the scene. The Jackets were pretty set in net with 25 year old Pascal Leclaire as their starter and Fred Norrena as his back up. A combination of injuries and inconsistent play gave Mason a shot and he hasn't disappointed since he got his first start in November against Edmonton. The 20 year old Oakville, Ontario native has impressive stats. In 56 starts he is 32-18-5 with a 2.22 GAA and a solid .918 save %. Ask any one in the Columbus organization and they will say he has clearly been the team MVP and the reason they are currently in a playoff spot. Until Rinne came along the Calder appeared to be Mason's to lose.

3) Pekka Rinne's rise to fame came as a bit more of a surprise. He differs from Mason as the native of Finland is a more mature 26. It was presumed that Rinne would be the understudy to starter Dan Ellis, but once Rinne got his feet wet he took the opportunity and hasn't looked back. His stats are equally impressive. Starting 43 games he has an excellent 27-11-4 record with a 2.26 GAA and .921 save %. Likewise Mason, Predator officials we spoke with are quick to point to Rinne as a big reason they are still in the playoff race out west.

4) There is no precedent in the 76 year history of the award that two players share the honor, but we believe that this year it SHOULD happen In all likelihood Steve Mason will win the award. His stats are a hair better, and being a North American over a newbie Finn also won't hurt his shot. However, we feel that voters/the NHL should consider a duel award this season. No fooling!
Contact the Media