Monday, March 30, 2009

Norris/Central Division Kings of NHL?

1) Firstly, for those under 25 the Norris is the old name given to the current 'Central Division before Gary Bettman decided to NBA-ize the NHL with geographical divisional names instead of the NHL's previous novel/unique way of lionizing previous builders of the league with named division/conference names. In the 'old days' the Norris was almost a metaphor for bad or at best mediocre. That trend continued into more recent days as the Red Wings and most recently the Predators were the only teams in this division that were playoff calibre. The other 3 teams, St. Louis, Chicago and Columbus were seldomly good enough in recent years to even make the post season, let alone be a Cup contender.

2) Hey folks, that appears to have changed! As we write this post: ALL 5 Central Division teams are in the post season! That's right, this is NOT a misprint! If the season ended today 5 of the 8 playoff teams from the Western Conference would hale from the Central Division! Who in their right mind saw that coming?!? Certainly we at FAUXRUMORS did not. Sure we believed that the Black Hawks would be better, but didn't think the Jackets or Blues would be quite ready yet to compete for the top 8 in this tough conference. We also foresaw a possible tumble by the over achieving Preds as well. Apparently this is not to be! Yes, there are still 6 or so games left and the Ducks, Oliers and Wild may have something to say about this Norris reunion, but we needed to use this mornings standings to illustrate how much improved this previously dregs of a division has become! Way to go men!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Week 24: Results

1) We finally had another break out evening yesterday, going an impressive 9-2 to bring the season totals to 161-118 or a .577 winning %. Also adding to our impressive Lock of The Week record, that tally now stands at 18-6! Look for next Saturday when we predict another 11 contests in week 25!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Week 24 Picks!

1) Here we are at Week 24 in the NHL season. Where has the time gone? Including today we have only 3 more weeks remaining in our weekly pursuit of perfection of picking games. WE remind our readers that we bring in our season long record of 152-116 or a .567 winning % to today/night's 11 games.

NY Rangers at Pittsburgh: Penguins

Los Angeles at Nashville: Predators

Buffalo at Montreal: Habitants

Carolina at New Jersey: Devils

Philadelphia at NY Islanders: Flyers (Lock of The Week)

Boston at Toronto: Bruins

Ottawa at Atlanta: Thrashers

Florida at Dallas: Panthers

Columbus at St. Louis: (Battle of Cinderellas) Blues

Minnesota at Calgary: Flames

Phoenix at San Jose: Shark

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Limping To The Finish Line!

1) Looking at the NHL standings it seems some teams have performed (or under performed) the past couple of weeks like they have little to play for, when in fact their playoff lives are at stake! Two of those teams played last night. The Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers squared off in Buffalo. The Sabres were in the far worse situation of being 5 points out with 10 games remaining, while the Panthers were 2 points behind Montreal for the 8th spot. In their respective past 10 games combined including last night's Sabres victory both teams have gone a pathetic 6-10-4. hardly the appearance of teams gearing up to win a spot in the post season!

2) The Sabres can point to the loss of starting goalie Ryan Miller as a cause of their recent down turn. While Florida has had its share of injury woes as well. Sorry, we're not buying that excuse. The NJ Devils lost their starter for 4 months, and all they did was surge to the top in their division/conference. Wasn't Lindy Ruff supposed to be a great coach? Sorry, we believe he is vastly over rated! On the flip side the Panthers, winners of 2 in the past 10 seem to be falling into their perennial trap of near playoff misses. Again falling into the NHL version of no-mans-land. What makes it even worse was the fact that Florida gambled at the trade deadline retaining impending UFA defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. If they were to not make the playoffs, miss the draft lottery AND lose Bouwmeester, we'd say its strike 3, you're out Jacques Martin!

3) We should also add that the current 8th spot occupant, Montreal Canadiens have hardly been tearing up the league. Winning a mere 3 of their past 10, just ending a season long 5 game losing streak by beating the lowly Thrashers at home. They are also helped by the fact that 5 of their next 6 opponents are not currently top 8 teams, so theoretically they should be able to solidify their lead, but the way teams near that spot have done lately, we wouldn't place money on it!

4) In the West the situation is not nearly as bad with the bubble teams, Nashville, Minnesota, and Edmonton trudging along at or near .500 the past 2 weeks. Only Anaheim who most felt should be in the playoffs, and the Blues, who few saw as a playoff threat, have been playing consistently well recently. Its still anyone's guess as to the final 2 positions out west with 5 teams having a realistic shot at the final 2 slots. Like the East, it appears that teams just can't close the deal.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Take Off", East! Great White North Teams From the East Get shut out of the Playoffs?

1) There is little doubt among a majority of hockey people that the Western Conference is superior to the East. It has been that way since the lockout, despite the relatively even ratio of Cup winners. However this post concerns the team up north. As of this writing, it is very possible that all 3 teams from the Great White North that reside in the Eastern Conference may miss the post season, while all 3 teams out West may qualify.

2) This of course is subject to change over the final 10 games, but the way the Canadiens are playing the past 2 months and being in the precarious 8th spot its only a 50:50 proposition they get it. Despite their torrid pace since their coaching change and the trade deadline the Ottawa senators are still 7 points out with 10 games to go. A steep climb to be sure. The Maple Leafs of course ere eliminated in October. ; ) Meanwhile out West both the Flames who are solidly in front of the tough NW division and Vancouver Canucks behind them are pretty much locks to get in. The Oilers who to the credit are a decent 3 points into the playoff picture holding down the 7th spot in the ever changing landscape of the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture.

3) Going back the past decade or so this has never taken place. Both the East and West has had at least one participant in the playoffs every season. It has in fact usually been 2 or more, with the East placing 3 teams from Canada in the 03-04 and 01-02 seasons. The West NEVER placed 3 teams from Canada over this time. Will be interesting to see how the remainder of the season plays out, but we are sure it wouldn't be good for ratings on CBC, etc.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Its The Match-Up, Stupid!

1) As the regular season winds down into its last 2 weeks we decided to do a post that many in our opinion over look when predicting who they see as the 'teams to beat' come playoff time. Sure regular season records do mean something with regard to who are the better teams, but when it comes to the 'second season' in our opinion the biggest determiner is match ups!

2) What does that mean, Faux? Simply, in our opinion who a team plays in the playoffs has as much to do with possible success as any other issue. For instance, we don't care the point differential, where they finished in the conference, and how they did head to head, but you can bet for example the Boston Bruins would prefer to play any of the other bottom 2-3 teams other than Montreal. History simply is in the Habs favour. Through the years it doesn't seem to matter who finished where, these are close tough series and the boys from Quebec have the upper hand in the majority of them.

3) The B's and Habs are hardly unique here. other potential contentious first rounds could be a NJ-Rangers series. Sean Avery is back so despite the silly new dumb-avery-rule the league started for the super pest last year, you can be sure he'll still be near Brodeur's crease every moment he can. Shouting about Marty's predilection for sister in laws, etc. Anyone in DC want to face Pittsburgh in the opening round? For that matter would Philly want to face their cross state rivals who they have struggled against this season? We bet not.

4) Out West, right now its so ridiculously close that any of 4 teams might not even make the playoffs, let alone have a shot at an upset. However, think anyone wants to face the Canucks in the first round? Would the Sharks want to face the Ducks? Think Detroit and its high flying PP want to face the best PK in Minnisota (assuming the Wild even make it)? The Wings rely heavily on their PP and with their shaky goaltending could be ripe for an opening round upset IF the right matchup is set. Think Calgary would prefer the playoff novice Columbus Blue Jackets or their cross-province rival Edmonton Oilers?

5) Just a few examples of how the right matchup can laregly determine a team's fate in the post season. Many times it is not in the hands of teams to determine who they play. Sometimes being a higher seed sets you up against a tougher opponent. With a mere 10 or so games left there isn't one match up that is known. It will probably come down to the final buzzer on April 12th. Pay attention folks. This why we at Fauxrumors hold back on our Cup predictions until the first round is set!

As always, keep it here for all the latest!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Week 23 Results:

1) The abbreviated Saturday night contests are completed and we played .500 on the night, going 4-4, to bring our season long totals to 152-116 or a .567 winning %. We did manage to extend our Locks of the Week record to an impressive 17-6. We will be back it next Saturday when a busier 11 games will be decided.

2)Also we are preparing posts about playoff match-ups and their importance as well as a hart candidate that many are finally giving over due attention. Look for it this week here at Fauxrumors!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Week 23 Picks

1) A relatively quiet Saturday for NHL standards with a mere 8 games being played today/night. Probably due to conflicting March Madness. We take our season long 148-112 record into action with the following picks:

Dallas at San Jose: Shark

Washington at Carolina: Capitals

Toronto at Montreal: Habitants

Buffalo at NY Rangers: Rangers (Lock of The Week)

NY Islanders at Ottawa: Senators

Columbus at Florida: Blue Jackets

Atlanta at Tampa Bay: Lightning

Vancouver at Phoenix: Canucks

Friday, March 20, 2009

NHL-NHLPA At Odds Over Fighting/Rules

1) Any regular reader of this blog knows the stance of us and FR on the fighting issue. IE: That it not only should NEVER be eliminated, but it should be expanded/encouraged if/when possible. We were dismayed/outraged at the recent GM meetings where they discussed ways to curb fighting, especially 'staged fights'. If anyone can definitively tell when a fight is staged let us know. Players may chat before a whistle, but that largely is due to the rules that fights can't commence before a face-off, else additional penalty minutes in the form of a misconduct will result. Thus players often will banter/discuss of when they will fight. Is that staged? Hardly. Its not like pro wrestling where they have already mapped out the others moves for the benefit/entertainment of the crowd. Its still done for a reason. The end result entertains, but its not why they are fighting.

2) Meanwhile the NHLPA, under Paul Kelly specifically stated BEFORE the GM meetings that the players main issue was somehow working with the NHL to try to curb head shots NOT fighting. As an aside we believe the reduction of fighting will only make head shot MORE prevalent! We also have to add that we doubt that the GM's were the force behind these measures. Clearly came down from on high (Gary Bettman) The results of the meetings indicate that the league will try to reduce the number of fights. Specifically they came up with three specific changes to the rules:

  • Calls for the linesmen to stop a fight if/when a helmet comes off. This silly rule change can be traced directly to the unfortunate death of an amateur hockey player falling during a fight and ultimately dying from the head injury. Yes, players sometimes do fall during fights and injury results, but we doubt that helmets would help. secondarily, its part (at least it used to be) part of the code to remove ones helmet(or have it torn off by your adversary) during a fight to prevent injury to a hand. We would have preferred a new rule that gives an automatic penalty to players who fight with a visor!

  • More instigator penalties for fights that result after a hard, but clean check. Another dumb rule. OK, first off, if they want an instigator penalty fine, but lets make it what it used to be, an extra 2 minutes. As for determining why a fight started it gives too much discretion for refs to decide on motivation. Refs do best when they are given fewer options.

  • A 10-minute misconduct for "staged" fights. As mentioned in our opening remarks, we felt this to be absurd. More ref discretion to decide whether a fight is legit or staged. No doubt the league will be especially hard on traditional enforcer type players. This in our opinion is a veiled method to eliminate fighting without actually ruling on it. This will almost totally eliminate the role of enforcers as we believe the league/refs will be especially hard on those type players, defacto eliminating their jobs

3) So instead of trying to change/alter existing rules to reduce head shots as the players wanted, the GM's made rules changes that the players did NOT advocate. Most disturbing to the NHLPA was that the GM's, and the NHL itself under the 2005 CBA can NOT change rules unilaterally. Only the competition committee, made up by players and GM's can make new rules. The NHL doesn't believe it even needs to be voted on because it believes it's not a new rule. The GM's also did not support an NHLPA proposal for a new rule that would penalize hits to the head. Its expected that the players on the competition committee will bring it up during their next meeting in June. The union states it won't let this go. Anyone already see cracks in the 'partnership Bettman likes to talk flowery about between the players and NHL? Sounds like he has his own agenda and the players best stay out of his way. Napoleon has spoken!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Didn't They Get The Memo?

1) Apparently many of the 'bottom feeder' teams in the NHL this season have not received the memo that they are supposed to be 'tanking' their seasons now to get better draft position. Specifically they are supposed to at least make sure they are in the bottom 5 to get a 'lottery' pick to win the first overall draft position. The Tavares sweepstakes, as the Canadian forward is widely looked upon as he cream of this years crop and perhaps one of the best players to come out of juniors in a decade or more .

2) We'll skip the Tavares hype for this post, but the teams that were supposed to be in the 'hunt' for the coveted forward were Atlanta, Tampa Bay, NY Islanders, and the Maple Leafs. Until recently no Western Conference team appeared to have a shot, but recent swoons by both Colorado and Phoenix at this stage put them in play for the "race to the bottom". As for the aforementioned Eastern Conference dregs, all they have done lately is win. Odd since they were supposed to be tanking it for the pick, right?

3) Apparently others have begun to notice this phenominon as well. As recently as last week one of our favourite hockey bloggers, James Mirtle was writing how he believed the Isles were 'playing to get Tavares'. Ostensibly tanking the entire season to get the top pick. Of course we scolded him for that because it would be inane to tank an entire season, and also silly as the bottom team has less than a 50% chance of winning the draft lottery anyway(48%). Apparently James has been paying better attention as he did a very nice post yesterday about the Isles. Here--->

4) Here is a run down of the teams and how they apparently have misplaced or ignored the memo to suck.
  • The Thrashers had their franchise best winning streak, six, snapped last night by the hottest team in the East Pittsburgh. After thoroughly manhandling the SE division leaders Capitals the night before 5-1. The Thrashers did it without superstar Ilya Kolvulchuk. Head coach John Anderson has his sextet playing with emotion and grit. Hardly mailing it in, going an impressive 8-3 in their last 11 games.

  • The Islanders have been as impressive. In mid January they appeared poised to finish dead last by quite a margin, but Coach Gordon has instilled confidence in the younger players who have by and large been the catalyst in this resurgence. Gaining points in 8 of their past 10 games including beating Montreal, Chicago and blowing out the previously hot Devils and Marty Broder 7-3

  • The Maple Leafs appeared to be in solid Tavares territory going into December. It seems once Brian Burke took over the team responded. Even more so since the trade deadline when the team off loaded Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore for draft picks. They have won 8 of the past 12 to pull themselves pretty much out of Taveras contention

  • The Lightning, though hardly burning up the league haven't been pushovers either lately, adding points in 6 of their last 10 contests. As FR2 wrote in their power rankings, this team should be doing better than it is, but at least lately it appears that the team isn't laying down and dying.

5) We won't again go into how we detest the rewarding of losing(both in games with the OT loser point, and in improved draft position) but we are glad to see that this year anyway it appears that teams aren't tanking it for potential rewards in June! Nice job guys!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Milking It?

1) When we hear that term we usually hear it in regard to a person making a hurt or injury out to be worse than it really is. Basically referring to malingerers or hypochondriacs. So where does that fit into a NHL blog? Easy, we have seen two recent injury situations in the NHL where the player in question may have been held back from a return because of the team's precarious salary cap issues.

2) As most of you already probaby know, when a player is injured seriously and placed on long term injured reserve his salary no longer counts against the team's salary cap number. As an aside, we and everyone else for that matter, would benefit if the NHL simply published that number for each and every team! We discussed that last September here-> Anyway, if the injured player is getting close to being healthy the team isn't in dire need of his services AND the team could use some salary cap relief, what we have seen in at least these two instances, the team has allowed the player to remain inactive LONGER than we would have seen without a salary cap.

3) The first instance was Danielle Briere of the Flyers. Dan has missed considerable time with a recurring/nagging groin injury. Without him the Flyers have flourished. Even without him they were already right up against the salary cap limit. With him they would have been forced to shed payroll, and probably a valuable asset they might need down the stretch and into the post season. They also had the 'fortune ' of Darien Hatcher and Mike Rathje, who combined for 7 million in cap space, to go down early with injury. Add to that Danielle's 6.5 mil cap hit and you can see why the Flyers may not have been all that fast to reactivate Briere until almost 3/4 of the season had been completed. Which would explain the repeated return dates being pushed until just after the trade deadline.

4) The other, even more apparent instance was the Brian Pothier "concussion" injury issue. (To review we did an extensive post onthis issue last year> ) To refresh memories on this particuar case: Last January Pothier sustained his 4th concussion after he was checked by Boston's Milan Lucic into the boards head first. Most believed this to be the end of the 30 year old Capitals defenseman. For months afterwards even a brisk walk was difficult without the symptoms returning. He reported to the team in September, but most thought this was a situation of going through the motions. The team was built assuming Brian wouldn't play. They would still pay him his full salary, but it wouldn't cost the team against their cap.

5) We now find out that as early as last December during a visit with an optometrist that he learned that the continuing problems came from his eyes, not his brain. The effects of the concussion, in fact, had long since cleared up, but his eyes continued to have lingering blurry vision. Pothier began vision therapy and started wearing glasses and contact lenses. Instantly, all the pressure and headaches and tension in his head was gone. A couple of days after that, he was skating again. We believe in the non-capped NHL Pothier would have returned by the All-star break after an AHL stint and the appropriate training. Instead the team was coy to the end. Always saying they were hopeful even though Potheir could be seen at team practices participating fully as any other player the past month or more. Not until after the trade deadline and 3/4 of Potheir's salary had already been paid did they report of the 'miracle' and that Brian would have a 2 week stint in Hershey(to clear additional salary space). Now he is set to make his NHL debut tonight in Atlanta.

6) We want to add that we are not saying players are faking injuries. Clearly both players alluded to here were legitimately hurt. However, we are certain these two instances are not unique nor will they likely be the last we will hear of such instances of burying salary under the guise of continuing injury. Its one of the the more difficult things to try to assess. As a physician told us, "You are almost forced to assume the patient is telling you the truth with respect to pain, and you must continue to do so until you can tell with absolute certainty they are lying ". As such, the league can only assume a team is telling the truth with respect to injuries. Team physicians are paid by the teams not the league, so unless the NHL should ask for an independent exam (and we wouldn't hold our breathe unless the incident was so blatant that it caused outrage by rival teams) we should expect these cases of 'milking it' to continue.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Week 22 Results

1) Week 22 in the books. Seemed like every other game went into extra time last night. Of the 13 games 7 were decided either in OT or the silly skills competition (shoot out). On the day/night we went 7-6. This brings our season total to 148-112 or a .569 winning %. We also got our Lock to extend that record to 16-6 on the season. We will be back for week 23 next Saturday when the NHL has a relatively light Saturday schedule of 8 games.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Week 22 Picks

1) Its week 22 in the NHL. A big schedule of 13 games are on tap today/night. We will try to build upon last weeks success. Thus far we are a very solid 141-106 or a .571 winning %. Also want to thank FR2 for their recent posts. Excellent job guys!

NY Islanders at Boston- Bruins (Lock of The Week)

Detroit at St. Louis- RedWings

Ottawa at Pittsburgh- Penguins

Atlanta at Buffalo- Sabres

New Jersey at Montreal: Devils

Calgary at Toronto Flame

Carolina at Washington: Capitals

Tampa Bay at Florida: Panthers

Minnesota at Dallas: Stars

Colorado at Edmonton: Oilers

Nashville at Phoenix: Coyotes

Friday, March 13, 2009

Larry Swings and Misses!

1) We are unapologetic fans of NY Rangers beat writer Larry Brooks. We admire his work as a hockey writer/columnist. We admire how he sticks to his guns with respect to issues within hockey he feels passionate about. (We don't always agree with him, but you know full well where he stands(Ask John Tortorella). Brooks is usually on the ball with respect to various issues/rumours within the game.

2) However when we read a story and know its totally fabricated we feel compelled to set the record strait with the facts. The story we're referring to is Larry Brooks' Jagr to Edmonton near miss' story. That if not for the Cinderella story of his team suddenly making the playoffs JJ would have been able to play in the NHL this year. Of course there is no way to disprove a negative (ask Ekund-LOL), but we have VERY strong evidence that Jagr NEVER was close to returning to the NHL this season. Least of all to Edmonton. We have to hand it to Brooksie (as his buddy Tortorella calls him) to make the scheme so elaborate. Actually claiming that the Oilers put in a "poison ill" provision of an extra season at 7 million to prevent the Penguins from claiming him off waivers. We had a fall down LOL on that one!

3) OK, now as FR was last week, we at FR2 will be the voice of reason here. As Detective Friday said: Just the facts ma'am:

  • Fact: Jagr's teams' rise was hardly a Cinderella story. in fact his team was one of the highest paid teams in the KHL. The NY Yankees of the Kontinental League if you will.

  • Fact: Edmonton NEVER made any formal overtures to JJ. They did ask his agent if he's interested, but it ended there!

  • Fact: Jagr NEVER intended to return to the NHL this season! Say what you will about him, he's a man of his word, and he gave his to his KHL employer

  • Fact: Jagr DOES want to return to the NHL, but ONLY on HIS terms!

4) Sorry Larry, but facts are facts. Now from there we can all speculate, but from the limited we have heard from various folks around the league about where Jagr might end up its almost assuredly going to be to an Eastern Conference team (Unless Detroit calls). If we had to handicap h race we'd say the teams you're likely to read about on Eklund or Brooks' columns will be the Penguins and Rangers.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Power Rankings- Stretch Run Edition

1) Its been about 6 weeks since our last edition of our Power Rankings poll. Its "The Stretch Run" edition, probably being the final rankings prior to the post season. As always we rank all 30 teams based upon overall record and recent play.

1) Detroit (3) For the first time this season the Cup champs made it to the top slot in our rankings. Not that they have ever been below 3rd. They have tied SJ for the league lead in points. The only troubling stats are their goaltending, miserable PK, and curiously bad Saturday night record (out scored 21-4 the past 3 weeks!). Can't imagine a team winning with the 27th rated PK, but we wouldn't bet against them.

2) New Jersey (5)- The team we'd least want to face if the playoffs started tonight. They have it all. Balanced scoring, team defense, and now scarily a rested Marty Brodeur. With 18 wins in their last 23 games, the Devils could still catch Boston in the East. Brent Sutter is our Adams selection right now and Zac Parise deserves Hart consideration.

3) San Jose (1)- The Sharks lost 4 in a row to put San Jose's conference lead in jeopardy for the first time this season and drop them in our poll a bit. Thankfully for them recent injuries such as to goalie Evgeni Nabokov don't appear to be long term/serious They still posses a formidable lineup that was bolstered by the trade deadline which has to be considered a top Cup contender.

4) Philadelphia (6)- Despite their failure to improve their weaknesses via the trade route we still see the Flyers as one of the better teams in the East. Talk about balanced scoring; the Flyers are the only team in the NHL with six 20-goal scorers. Additionally, Simon Gagne is heating up at the right time. If they only had a reliable goalie, but isn't this always the problem in Philly?

5) Boston (2)- The B's have fallen on hard times for the first time this season dropping themselves in our poll and their lead over 2nd place NJ has shrunk. Part of the problem has been the previously reliable goaltending of Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez. Both have been veritable sieves lately. Particularly Manny who is 0-3-2 with a 3.55 GAA and an .867 save percentage in his last five starts and hasn't posted a win since Jan. 8!

6) Calgary (4)- Hard to call a first place team a 'dark horse, but we believe they could be a team to be reckoned with come April. Despite playing a long road trip without three of their top seven forwards, as Todd Bertuzzi, Rene Bourque and Daymond Langkow the Flames still did well. If their PP should start to click, look out!

7) Pittsburgh (20)- Are back from the dead after firing inept bench boss Michel Therrian. They are 9-1 since that over due move. Combined with trade deadline pick ups of Guerin and Kunitz who give a dangerous 1-2 forward line punch the Pens appear ready to defend their conference title. We wouldn't be shocked to see that.

8) Chicago (8)- The Hawks remain very much in the thick of things. However can they stay where they are with an increasingly larger injury list which now includes Nikolai Khabibulin (groin), Patrick Sharp (knee), and now the previously hot, Martin Havlat. If they can get them all back by mid April, the Hawks won't be easy prey in any playoff series

9) Washington (7)- The Caps recent down turn places their chances at a long playoff run in doubt. They made no deadline moves to improve and continue to be a top heavy team, relying extensively on Alex the Gr-8, and to a lesser extent Alex Semin, way too much. This combined with their very poor PK make us doubt that this Capital team can get much past a first round despite another top 3 finish.

10) Vancouver (21)- Similar to NJ in that their Vezina calibre goalie, Roberto Luongo, will go into the post season relatively rested. Mats Sundin of late has been a positive as opposed to the first month when he made little impact. Right now the Canucks are one of the hottest teams in the NHL! Undoubtedly they will be a favourite 'dark horse' pick in the playoffs. We're not yet sold.

11) Carolina (19)- The 'Canes are another team back from the almost dead and are playing their best hockey of the season at the right time to get back into the top 8 in the East. Erik Cole has returned and as intended it seems to have bolstered the teams offense. Additionally Cam Ward appears to be back in form making a playoff bid more likely after 2 seasons watching hockey in the spring.

12) Nashville (27)- Like Carolina, back from obscurity. Steve Sullivan is helping Barry Trtz's sextet get back into the playoff picture reeling off 6 start wins at one point. They continue their schizophrenic tendency of playing lights out at home and dreadfully below par on the road. They will need to change that to stay in the hint in the very competitive West where 7 teams compete for the last 2 spots

13) Montreal (11)- Sorry Habs fans the key isn't who is behind your bench, but who is between the goal posts. Your team will go as far as Carey Price can carry them. After his recent ankle injury he appears to be coming around, but he'll have to elevate his game further in April if the Canadiens want to have any shot. Also will the recent surge from Alex Kovalev be lasting or fleeting?

14) Florida (14)- The cats are still clawing away and remain in the playoff picture. We agree with FR that retaining Jay Bowmeester was the right move. This franchise NEEDS a playoff bid. How did they get back in it? Easy, the Panthers have gone 18-8-3 since Jan. 1 and not lost back-to-back games in regulation! Now the hard(er) part, can they survive injuries to Nathan Horton, 2-4 weeks (finger), and to Bryan McCabe (eye)?

15) Columbus (18)- The Blue jackets have defied the prognosticators by staying right in the playoff picture in the very tough West. It will be great for the franchise to make the post season for the first time. Can newcomer Antoine Vermette boost their anemic power play? Like Nashville key may be will they be able to win regularly away from the Nationwide Arena?

16) St. Louis (25)- First the good news; the surging Blues find themselves a mere 3 points from 8th. The bad news; 5 other teams are within the same striking distance and the Blues didn't rid themselves of Keith Tkachuk. ; ) They have their destiny in their on hands as they play against these teams quite a bit down the stretch. We predict they will fall a tad short, tough it bodes well for next season.

17) NY Rangers (9)- From top tier team to playoff bubble team. Glen Sather has pulled out all the stops to try to get into the playoffs. A month ago it seemed like a sure bet, now based upon their remaining schedule its a 50:50 proposition. They are only .500 since Tortorella took over. Will this, Avery's and the trade deadline additions of Antropov and Morris put them over the hump? At this point we'd disagree with FR and say no, but Lundqvist will have to play at his very best to get them there.

18) Toronto (29)- Give coach Wilson and Brian Burke credit for keeping this team focused and playing hard down the stretch. Going a solid 6-2-2 in their last 10. To the dismay of Leaf Nation it probably takes them out of the Tavres Sweepstakes. No doubt Burke has more major changes ahead once the season mercifully ends.

19) Minnesota (17)- Another of the MANY West bubble teams. Going from 7th to 10th in 24 hours and then back again. Have been treading water at 4-4-2 that probably won't be good enough to make it. It also isn't helpful that eight of its remaining 12 games in March are on the road. On a positive note, its possible they may have oft injured star forward Marion Gaborik back next week. This could be Lemaire's last season in Minny.

20) Buffalo (10)- Last time around we saw Buffalo as surging, now they appear to be again slouching. Only 4 points from 8th, but only winning 4 of 10 won't cut it. Losing Ryan Miller hasn't helped. Also we wouldn't have given Timmy Connolly a 2 year, 9 million extension. He's 1 hit from retirement!

21) Edmonton (12) Despite technically still in the top 8, the Oilers are sinking fast. They are a piss-poor 3-4-3 in the past 10 despite Sam Gagner who's been hot and now there are loud rumblings that coach Craig McTavish may be on his way out, perhaps even before the season is over. Also its beginning to appear that Dwayne Roloson is fatiguing as the 38 yr old goalie has started 22 consecutive games.

22) Atlanta (28)- The loftiest perch the Trashers have had in our rankings in over a years worth of polls. We give props to the team and coach who went 6-3-1 recently despite playing for nothing but pride. Is 25 yr old Kari Lehtonen finally starting to become the goalie that the Thrashers have been waiting for the past few seasons?

23) Dallas (15) After appearing that the Stars were going to get back into the thick of things despite Brendan Morrow;s injury and Sean Avery's antics the team has fallen off the cliff once again winning two of its last 10 to fall from 6th to 10th with the rest of the 'rabble fighting for their lives. The loss of Brad Richards appears to be hurting as the team is having a tough time scoring.

24) Anaheim (16)- Another late season disappointment. Although technically not yet out of it, despite still having the Norris Twins(Pronger/Niedermayer). The Ducks have been playing like they have little interest in playing hockey beyond mid April. Its not too late, but from all indications this collection of players is not the same as the one that drove to a Cup only 2 years ago

25) NY Islanders (30)- Like Toronto and Atlanta the Isles have had a mini renaissance of sorts. Especially at home. The Isles are 9-2-2 in their last 13 games at Nassau Coliseum. Oddly it seems the more the team loses vets to trade or injury the better they play as a team. The only problems from a franchise standpoint is that this surge could push them out of Tavares territory AND more ominously the team and local officials are bickering over the new arena and its now possible the team may leave NY after next season!

26) Los Angeles (23)- Appear to be running out of gas as they approach the finish. Most didn't think that they would compete for a spot this season so its all gravy at this point. The future is bright. The fans appear to be noticing as attendance is way up for the Kings. It would be a nice story f they snuck in the 8th spot, but we wouldn't expect it.

27) Ottawa (26)- Just when it appeared that they were finally turning things around the Sens back slide back toward the bottom of the conference. FR didn't mention this in their post deadline analysis but we liked the Sens acquisitions of Pascal Leclaire and Chris Campoli. With a few other holes patched this summer the Sens could be right back in the playoff hunt next season

28) Colorado (22)- The Avalanche are done and it appears that they are about to have their first sub. 500 record since moving to Denver in 1995. Going 3-7 in their last 10, losing at one point 6 strait. Will Av's management/their fans admit that Granato and Budaj weren't good choices to be head coach/#1 goalie this year? Also have we seen the last of Joe Sakic?

29) Phoenix (13)- The opposite of previous years the 'Yotes had a good first half followed by a collapse. Previously, they got off to terrible starts only to finish strongly. Like Colorado are now in veritable free-fall. They have the pieces/assets to make a quick turn around next season, but does the franchise have the financial assets to stay afloat?

30) Tamp Bay (24)- Went from joke/basement at the start of the season, to now right back there by the end of the year. No good reason as this team has more than enough talent to be doing better than this. Perhaps the team should unload Lecavalier before his NTC kicks in July. Another franchise that is on the brink financially, and that's a shame as they have a good/loyal following in the Fla bay area.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Are Habs Now Better?

1) With the not-so-shocking news that the Montreal Canadiens relieved Guy Carbonneau of his coaching responsibilities (fired) later yesterday we are left with the question, Does this make them a better team? Certainly we felt that was the case in Pittsburgh when Therrian was let go, and to a lesser degree, albeit only in the short term, in NY with the Renney firing. So did Gainey's move make this 100th version of the famed Habitants from Quebec any better than they were 24 hours ago?

2) In a word, no. With all due respect to Lou Lamarello, we have never been big fans of GM's coming down from the press box to assume the coaching reigns. We don't feel it usually changes the dynamic within the dressing room. Certainly here it does not. Sure there were grumblings, mostly from the impatient fan base, but it wasn't like 'Carbo' was an incompetent coach like in our opinion, his former Pittsburgh counterpart. Guy was well respected throughout the league.

3)Carbonneau a finalist for the Jack Adams Award only last year, was let go after nearly three seasons as Montreal's head coach. We understand that its easier to replace 1 man than 23. However it should be noted that this team was and is in need of a make over and had problems FAR deeper than its coach so replacing him really won't change their fortunes. From what we have been told Gainey has been agonizing over this for weeks, hoping that the team would 'snap out of it' on its own. After he was unable to swing any deals last week BG was left with but one bullet in his arsenal, and he finally pulled the trigger late yesterday afternoon. Its too bad his team was already DOA before this move.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Draft day Winner/Losers

1) Its conventional for any hockey blog, especially one like ours that specializes in trade talk/discussion/rumors, to analyze the days events and try to discern who helped themselves, and who did not. Its been a few days so the dust has settled:

The Winners:

  • Calgary- The Flames landed probably the biggest name at the deadline in Ollie Jokinen. Jokinen will get quality minutes and will either thrive or whither under former coach Mike Keenan after a disappointing year in Phoenix. Jokinen has never played in any playoff games in his career. He'll get his chance to show that was merely a coincidence? The other addition of Jordan Leopold bolster's their backline. We believe these deals make the Flames a legit Cup contender.

  • Pittsburgh- Although we believe the best move the Pens made was the firing of Therrian, Shero made some very nice deadline additions with the acquisitions of Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin. Now they have 2 very potent scoring lines with wingers who can score. Suddenly if we were a team in the East we'd want to avoid the defending conference champs.

  • Chicago- Sam Pahlsson may seem like a minor addition, but we feel it may be one of the more savvy acquisitions. He adds a component that may have been lacking in Chicago. A nice defensive center. If they stay healthy these Hawks might surprise this spring. Also probably a smart move to keep both Huet and Khabibulin for the playoffs. We wonder if Khabibulin had been 100% healthy if he would have been moved?

  • Florida- Others have written that the panthers were 'losers' for not trading Bowmeester. We disagree. By keeping their roster intact it gives Florida a legit chance to make some hay in the very wide open Eastern Conference. Are they good enough to win, perhaps not, but if they unloaded J-Bow, its unlikely Martin would have received enough in return to keep the team as strong. They also added underrated Steve Eminger to their defense.

  • Rangers- Probably made their 2 biggest additions PRIOR to the deadline in Tortorella and Sean Avery. 'Torts' abrasive (Keenanesque) style will work in the short term to revive the sputtering NY denizens. Avery likewise will infuse energy into the lineup. They added another enigmatic Russian named Nik, Antropov to go with Zherdev. They will either be stars or quickly go to Tortorella's chateau bow-wow. We like the addition of Morris, but perhaps overpaid a bit much for him. Overall the Rangers are a far better team now than they were 2 weeks ago!

  • Phoenix- We believe that GM Don Maloney did a good job in a tough situation with a struggling team that also needed to unload payroll. Through deadline deals mentioned above they added Nigel Dawes, Dmitri Kalinin and Petr Prucha from New York and Matthew Lombardi, a top prospect Brandon Prust and a first-round pick from Calgary. They also unloaded Daniel Carcillo on Philadelphia for the more polished Scottie Upshall. Add those pieces to a already solid young up and coming corp, and we like the Coyotes future(on the ice anyways!)

  • Boston- Their biggest positive move was NOT getting Keith Tkachuk! GM Peter Chiarelli added a couple of solid, players in defenseman Steve Montador and pernnial playoff rental, forward Mark Recchi. Good job by the B's adding these two without disrupting their future. Despite their recent lackluster play, the Bruins are still the Eastern favourites, and these moves only improved their chances.

  • San Jose- With few apparent weakness the Sharks added two Cup winners from Anaheim in checking forward Travis Moen and defenseman Kent Huskins. We particularly like the addition of Moen. 'The fawcet' can play the role of shut down forward and can handle himself with the rough stuff too. He adds an element of grit the the Sharks who will need that edge in the very tough, competitive West.

The Losers:

  • Washington- Stood pat. We can understand to a point as they are a top 3 team, but how/why would GM McPhee allow East rival Pitsburgh to add Guerin, especially if all it would have taken was a 3rd round pick? They also would have been a better/tougher team to play against if they had acquired Carcillo instead of the Flyers as this team does not have that gritty, tough forward that teams need in abundance for the long playoff grind.

  • Islanders- To some degree GM Garth Snow was snake bit with the injuries to potential trade bait in Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger, but we expected a better return on Bill Guerin than a 5th (possibly 4th) round pick. Toronto got a 2nd rounder for Dominic Moore! Additionally the trade of Campoli for a late 1st round pick was a lateral move in our opinion as its unlikely that the player they ultimately acquire with that pick will be any better than Chris, and it will take 3-5 years to get that far.

  • Toronto- Unloaded Moore and Antropov for 2nd round picks, but for all the bluster, Brian Burke was quiet on deadline day (except for the Tampa Bay salary dump disguised as a trade). Burke still has quite a bit of work to do to transform the Leafs into a legit NHL contending team once again, and we didn't see much in their deadline moves to propel them in that direction. More to be done this draft day for sure!

  • Philadelphia- Despite the Carcillo addition (who could be the next Milan Lucic) we feel Philly didn't address their biggest weakness, on defense and especially in goal. The rumoured moves to acquire Jay Bowmeester and/or a legit #1 goalie never materialized. Making Philly still a formidable playoff opponent, but not distinguishing themselves from the rest of the pack.

  • Montreal- For all the noise that big moves were soon to come from Montreal Bob Gainey was silent on trade day. He did nothing to address their need for size and skill down the middle, or to replace the injured Robert Lang and/or perhaps the lack of experience in goal. The Schneider pick up was decent, but not a difference maker. Its a shame as this squad was a piece or two from being a contender.

  • Detroit- Might seem strange to place one of the top 1-2 teams (and current Cup champs) in the entire NHL as draft day losers, but they didn't address what is becoming a very evident weakness, their goaltending. We don't care how many rings Chris Osgood has, he and Ty Conklin (who has played 1 playoff game ever) have been below average at best. Is this team still good enough to carry them?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Week 21- Results

1) We finally got back to our winning ways with a solid 7-3 week. Bringing our season totals to 141-106 or a .571 winning %. Ironically we lost or second consecutive Lock when Detroit got annihilated at home 8-2! That brings that stat to a still solid 15-6 on the year. Look once again for Week 22 next Saturday when 13 games will be contested.

2) We will finally have our Trade deadline 'Winners/Losers' post out tomorrow morning. Additionally we are told that FR2 will have their next edition of Power rankings out later this week. Look for both of these interesting posts. As always, keep it here for all the latest!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Week 21 Predictions

1) Well, the trade deadline has come and gone. Time for the stretch drive. Next stop, the second(real) season. We head into today's slate of 10 games with a chance to get redemption from our previous 2 dismal weekends which has brought our record down to earth at 134-103 or a .565 %winning %.
We are told that FR2 is working on their stretch run/post trade deadline Power rankings. Look for it early next week.

Chicago at Boston: Bruins

New Jersey at NY Islanders: Islanders

Columbus at Detroit: RedWings ( Lock of The Week)

Buffalo at Ottawa: Senators

Edmonton at Toronto: Maple Leafs

St. Louis at Florida: Panthers

Carolina at Tampa Bay: Lightning

San Jose at Vancouver: Canucks

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Voice Of Reason!

1) A general " You're Welcome" to all our readers who sent us E-mails thanking us for being 'The voice of reason' this trade deadline. While all the usual suspects (Eklund, etc) were spouting off rumour after silly rumour about possible/likely block buster trades, we were busy making repeated posts saying that this trade deadline will be one of the more quiet in a long time. In fact we specifically wrote a post stating this very fact last month:dead-line-day-snooze-fest.

2) A total of 22 trades yesterday. Not exactly the flurry of activity that many were expecting. As we wrote in our trade-bait post last week: "We will see the usual flurry of adding impending UFA's from non-playoff clubs and shifting of draft picks." Which with only an exception or two that was exactly what happened. The biggest deal involving a named player who isn't soon to be an UFA was the Flames picking up Ollie Jokinen. Hardly the Earth shattering deal that was widely rumored to be taking place yesterday. In fact many in the media had predicted that the 'Yotes might move the Finn center. (Note: We will do a separate winners/losers post shortly)

3) To recap: Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Jay Bouwmeester, Chris Pronger, Ilya Kovalchuk, etc were NOT dealt yesterday. If we were a paid subscriber (shoot us if we ever are!) of Eklund we'd be clamouring for a refund by now! As we wrote about Bowmeester last month, we heard from a reliable source that/j-bow-staying-put. We want to send a heart felt Thank you to all the folks who gave us reliable information! (The Avery situation aside of course! LOL)

4) We have to also mention here about a very weird trade yesterday. In one of the more bizarre trades Brian Burke picked up two players who will not only be UFA's after the season, but are on IR and VERY unlikely to play again this season. (Olie Kolzig and Jamie Heward) Was Brian Burke a bit tipsy when he made these deals? Or was he just screwing around? It made no sense to have those players involved. They simply could have swapped minor leaguers/picks without throwing in guys who will probably retire in a few weeks?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Was The Fix In?

1) We have received many E-mails (and we thank all of you for your interest) concerning the apparent 'about face'; with regard to the Sean Avery situation. We went very on the record relating what we heard about his reinstatement. We were told as recently as last week that Dallas would/may let sean-to-rot-in-minors. So what happened? We simply had to know why Dallas would make this move.

2) One source, who we regrettably didn't ask for input prior to the report we published last week, was quite direct in his assessment based upon what league sources have told him. That in essence Gary Bettman and the league office intervened on Avery's behalf. Not quite forcing, but being quite persistent in urging the Stars, and specifically owner Tom Hicks to release Avery from his banishment. Interestingly also this source went on to admonish us at Fauxrumors. "Guys, this has been a done deal since late January". We guess it was a great secret if many other folks who we respect apparently didn't get the same memo! LOL
3) As we wrote yesterday, keep that 'refresh' button finger ready all day. We hear several minor-moderate trades are ready to be announced by Noon Eastern.(The deadline is 3:00 p.m. Eastern) Few will affect the balance of power going down the home stretch/the playoffs, most will be 'tweaks'. We continue to hear that there will be no Huge blockbuster deals today, but as we cautioned in yesterdays post, only the 30 men who make those decisions really know. It should be a fun day. As always keep it here for all the latest!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


1) Its a mere 24 hours until the heralded trade deadline. Rumours are flying fast and furious. A few minor deals have already taken place, but as of this time no major trades have occurred (yet). Folks like us who are interested in such transactions will be sure busy the next 24 hours 'refreshing our favourite sites repeatedly so as to get the info ASAP from respected news outlets.

2) As much as we have some connections to various folks, and we have gone on record relateing those it should be noted (and Eklund will never say this) no one knows exactly whats going to go down between now and tomorrow afternoon. Sure we have insiders who have given us a few heads ups on various discussions, but there is no way in hell ANYONE outside of the actual 30 GM's know when and the exact details of any deals. Even among those 30, they of course aren't privy to discussions their colleagues may be having.

3) Which of course explains Eklunds amazingly bad track record. Someone has apparently been keep track. Respected hockey blogger Greg Wyshynski has, and according to his stats from January 2008 until today Eklund has correctly 'predicted a whopping 10 rumors, and been wrong an amazing 381 times for an "accuracy rate" of 2.5%! Case in point the recent/ongoing Guerin-Islander trade issue. Even the most connected folks have been all over the map in predicting where he will end up, and as of now all parties are in limbo as discussions apparently continue. We hear more than one team might be involved, but there in lies our point. Even the best/most connected site/individual can only give a rough estimation based upon reports from folks with knowlege, but a fluid situation can not be made into a concrete statement of fact with out major error!(see Eklund above)

4) As the hours track down to the deadline we will be with each of you waiting to hear the exact details of the deals as they are consummated. We are still hearing that no huge mega deal will likely take place between now and then (no non UFA-star will be dealt), but a flurry of lesser deals can be expected. One source told us that there aren't too many big time sellers and the initial prices have been so steep that GM's are waiting it out to hopefully get the asking prices back down to a manageable level. If past years are any indication once that first semi-major deal is made a bunch of reactionary trades to 'keep up with the Jones' will then take place. In the mean time its'refresh...refresh....refresh, etc'. Exciting times for all of us!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Week 20 Results

1) Another crushing week for us. Going an abysmal 4-7 on the day to drop our season long total to 134-1-3 or a .565 winning %. We even dropped our Lock of The week in Montreal. We knew going in that there weren't any 'gimmes' in our Locks, but still the way the Habs have played recently combined with the second of back to backs you'd have to feel confident the 2nd best team in the NHL could handle them. But Noooooooooooooooooo. LOL

2) Anyway, we will be back for week 21 the first post trade deadline week next Saturday when 10 games will be on the docket. In the mean time the trade winds are a blowing. We wil up[date our player board as need be up to Wednesday. Also FR2 will be publishing their Power rankings this week. It should be a fun few days coming up. As always keep it here for all the latest.

Post Script: We urge/ask all readers who may come across a "Fauxrumors" response that seems to be 'out of character' on other blogs to alert us. We have been told that perhaps our nemesis/impostor may be back it by going to blogs we regularly visit and making disparaging comments using our name. If you come across such a posting, please inform us here or write us at

UpDate: Thank you to Chris Botta of "NY Islanders Point Blank" Blog- We wrote him today explaining the issue Metalchick and others wrote to us about. We received this response:" No problem at all, Faux. I didn't think it was, which is why I kept the Comment but took off the link to FR. Appreciate hearing from you...CB. We respect a guy as busy as Chris is to take the time to write back and set the record strait!
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