Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Spin The Wheel: 2010 Playoff-Cup Predictions

1) Next in the prediction process is to use the projected/predicted order of finish and use these as a basis for playoff matchups. We will briefly predict these anticipated playoff matchups and determine this far out who will win each series culminating with the Cup winner. Two years ago we were very close to getting many of the matchup/winners dead on. Last season not as well as we had the Stars winning it all. Boy, were we off! Anyway, as we note in our season projections much of this is a dart throw. This is REALLY a dart throw in the dark! But hey, everyone else is making/publishing their Cup choice so why not make it interesting. Enjoy and feel free to tell us where we're off our rockers. LOL Let's Spin the Wheel!

2) First the East: Round 1

  • Philadelphia-vs-Florida: The fans of South Florida are finally able to see playoff hockey for the first time in almost a decade. The team that fought long and hard to get there puts up a valiant fight(sometimes literally) but in the end the fire power and fight of the Flyers over whelms the Cats. Flyers in 5

  • Boston-vs-Buffalo: On paper shouldn't be such a close series, but no playoff series is played on paper. The sabres behind stellar goaltending of Ryan Miller push the Big Bad Bruins for they are worth until finally succumbing in a long series. Bruins in 7

  • Washington-vs-NY Rangers: A repeat of the first round of a season ago. This time the boys from DC don't allow the rangers to get a 2 game lead and instead meticulously pick apart the defense of the Blueshirts. Despite amazing efforts by goalie Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers go out relatively easily. Capitals in 5

  • Pittsburgh-vs-Carolina: Another repeat of a series last season. Last year the Pens outclassed the canes on route to the Finals and the Cup. this time the canes are up and ready for the Pens and behind the heroics of cam ward upset the defending Cup champs in a magnificent and sometimes chippy series. Canes in 6

3) Round 2, East

  • Philadelphia-vs-Carolina: Coming off a relatively quick first round the Flyers are fresh but rusty. After overcoming an opening game loss at home the Flyers storm back against the canes to again advance. Flyers in 5

  • Boston-vs-Washington: An epic battle of 2 of the east's powers. Ultimately Boston's depth at forward proves to be the decisive aspect here with the B's shutting down the caps top line and the Bruins 3rd line able to score key goals at the right time. Bruins in 6

4) Round 3 East

  • Philadelphia-vs-Bruins: As the top 2 teams this is the match up most expected. No one is disappointed as it goes the distance with each team showing its considerable depth at forward and toughness. A retro series with an unusual number of bouts for a 3rd round playoff series. In the end its the Bruins superiority in goal that makes the difference when Ray Emery gives up a couple of softies. Bruins in 6

5) Next the West: Round 1

  • San Jose-vs- Los Angeles: Like the Flyers Panthers series in the East the fans/players in LA are just happy to be here and it shows as the determined Sharks take the inexperienced Kings apart. Sharks in 4

  • Chicago-vs Anaheim: Unlike last year no one is taking the hawks for granted. Ditto the Ducks. This series goes the distance with Hawks having the home ice and edge overall in forward depth take the series, but questions remain how far Huet can carry them from here. Hawks in 7

  • Calgary-vs-St. Louis: The Blues return once again to the [post season ,but show again that they are not quite ready to compete with the big boys. The Flame defense and Kiprusoff shut down the Blues and win in relatively easy fashion. Flames in 4

  • Vancouver-vs-Detroit: The marquis series in the first round. The old guard and winners of the west the past couple of seasons verses the Canucks/Luongo who had a great regular season but with questions on their ability to win in the spring. Those questions aren't answered as the Wings and their veteran filled team upset the Canucks. Wings in 6

6) Second Round-West

  • San Jose-vs-Detroit: The true test for the Sharks. Can they defeat a real team and advance or doomed to repeat their previous years performances. Finally Shark fans have something to celebrate as the Sharks overwhelm the Wings and Nabokov outplays Osgood to have the sharks, at least partially, exorcise their playoff demons. Sharks in 5

  • Chicago-vs-Calgary: What many felt was going to be a long fascinating series devolves into a clinic put on by the Flames trapping and helped by the less than stellar goaltending of Cristabal Huet to allow the Flames to score when they need to. The scores will be close, but the series will not. Flames in 5

7) Third Round-West

  • San Jose-vs-Calgary: Number 1 vs number 3 in the West. Have the Sharks done enough to get the monkeys off their backs? To the media/fans not yet. Nothing less than a Final appearance will suffice. The expectations in Calgary although not quite as high, are nonetheless intense. The series turns out to be a classic. The Sharks offense vs the Flames trap and opportunism style. Both goalies put on a show and no game features more than 5 goals combined. It comes down to 20-3 OT games to decide the series. In the end Brent Sutter's group prevails to advance to Finals. Flames in 6

8) The Finals:

  • Calgary Flames-VS-Boston Bruins: Not exactly the ratings bonanza that Gary Bettman would have asked for, but it doesn't disappoint real hockey fans across North America. Neither team is willing to give an inch and tries to play its own style. At home the B's persevere and win with their characteristic style accompanied with grit. In Alberta the Flames are more able to stifle the Bruin attack and frustrate their offensive stars. So in the end it comes down to home ice. The decisive game in Boston in June will long be remembered by the New England faithful. Their first Cup since Bobby Orr's famous score/dive a full 39 years earlier. Bruins in 7

Monday, September 28, 2009

2009-2010 Season Predictions: West

1) Like the East. As we mentioned last time we understand its no more than a blind folded dart throw, but its the preseason and almost everyone else does it, so why not? As has been in evidence the last few seasons, the West is the stronger of the two conferences. It was also easier for us to predict last year. However we see this season as being much tougher with a changin gof the guard taking place. Previous bottom feeders are now contending, and some traditional powers are falling back. Here is the list in the order of playoff seeding (divisional winners in the top 3) With our Diffference maker, or Wild card listed for each team.

1) San Jose- 115 Yes, we know no big shocker here. Despite perennial playoff disappointments this remains one of the most talented teams in the NHL, AND they added Dany Heatley to the mix. The core that won the President's trophy is back, so there's no reason to believe that they won't dominate once again. Especially when one sees the Pacific division as now weaker than in years past. Of course, despite another regular season trophy the big question is this team ready to compete for the trophy given out in June? Difference Maker: Torrey Mitchell

2) Chicago- 108. Yes, we are predicting the Hawks will finally dethrone the Wings as Kings of the Norris(Central) Division. They are not without questions. They did sign Marion Hossa after losing Martin Havlat to free agency. Unfortunately, Marion was damaged goods and will miss the start of the season. Can Cristabal Huet carry the team now that former #1 goalie Khabibulin is gone? Can Patrick Kane avoid cabs? Despite these questions the hawks remain an offensive juggernaut with oodles of depth at forward and a defense that can move the puck as well as any in the league. We see continued maturing and improvement of the younger guys and a big year in The Second City. Difference Maker: Dustin Byfuglien

3) Calgary- 105 WE see the Flames duking it out all season with the Canucks, leaving the rest of the weak NW division in the dust. On paper at least the Flames posses one of the best defenses in the NHL. Unfortunately for the Flames that didn't translate into success last season. New coach Brent Sutter no doubt will concentrate on this and along with newly acquired Bouwmeester and improved play from Phaneuf we could see them really cut down the GA. Up front they did lose Cammalleri but should still score enough on most nights. In goal Kiprusoff will have to be more consistent. He often butted heads with ex coach Keenan (what goalie hasn't?) so the change there should be to his liking. Difference Maker:Dion Phaneuf

4) Vancouver- 100 As mentioned above the Canucks and Flames will have a spirited fight for the division. Ultimately we see the Flames prevailing but the Canucks should put together a fine season nonetheless. With elite goaltending from captain-cough cough, Roberto Luongo this team will be in every game. They also possess an underrated group of blue liners that if healthy can compete with anyone. Up front they might be a bit top heavy, relying on the Sedin twins, but with addition of Mikael Samuelson to go with emerging scorers like Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows the 'Nucks should score enough to win most nights. Difference Maker: Steve Bernier

5) Detroit- 98 We thought long and hard of where to place the Wings. Its difficult to see them falling more than this, but its still possible. The Central is now a very strong division so they won't have too many easy games. Their defense/goaltending last year were mediocre at best. With Osgood, now 37 set to lead the way we are not optimistic. The defense, once a strength is now getting long in the tooth with Lidstrom, 39 and Rafalski, 37 leading the way. Last season their potent attack covered for many of those weaknesses, but with the losses of Hossa, Samuelson, and Hudler the Wings will rely heavily on stars Zetterburg and Datsyk. We're not enamoured with newcomers Bertuzzi (why?), and Jason Williams. So we believe this might be one of the last seasons Detroit is considered an elite team for a while. Difference Maker: Valteri Filppula

6) St. Louis- 95 One would have to believe the team that finished with 92 points a season ago despite missing scorers Paul Kariya, and Andy McDonald along with defensemen Erik Johnson, and Eric Brewer would be even a bit better this next season with those folks back in the lineup? We believe to a small degree the Blues will be better, but o the other hand they won't be sneaking up on anyone, and in the tough Central, there are no gimmee games. The injuries did force the maturation of guys like Backes, Perron and Oshie. Mason and Conklin give the Blues a solid tandem in goal, and if they can avoid a let down, we might see the Blues once again in the post season. Difference Maker: Alex Steen

7) Anaheim-93 This team has undergone some serious alterations in the past 6 months. from big moves at the trade deadline, to the Chris Pronger deal. These are not the same Ducks that won the Cup 2 years ago. This is actually a very solid club. With a very good offense, decent (albeit weaker than in previous years) defense, and with 2 capable tenders to carry the team when the offense is lacking, and or defense porous. The addition of Lupul and Koivu along with fellow Finn Selanne make for a very interesting 2nd line to compliment one of the best lines in the game centered by Ryan Getzlaf. They may not be good enough to compete with the Sharks for the Pacific, they won't be push overs either. Difference Maker: Saku Koivu

8) Los Angeles- 92 Our 'surprise' team from the West. We misshot on that last season, but believe that they should be considerably better than last season when they underachieved. Their defense led by Doughty, Scuderi, Johnson and Greene is skilled and underrated. Up front they possess one of the best young group of forwards East of the Mississippi, with Frolov, Kopitar and Brown. Additionally they added veteran leadership in Ryan Smyth, and a healthy Justin Williams should bolster the offense. In goal things Jonathan Quick emerged as a legit #1. he'll have to build on last year's performance if the Kings have a shot at getting back to the playoffs for the first time in 7 years. Difference Maker: Justin Williams

9) Columbus- 91 No, we're not down on the Jackets, and in fact they could again sneak back into the playoffs, but someone has to miss the post season by a hair at #9, and we predict this time around it will be Columbus. Like the Blues they won't be sneaking up on anyone this time around. That said they still possess one of the best goal scorers in the game in Nash(who signed a long term deal this summer) and one of the best young goalies in the NHL in Steve Mason. So they will be a force to be dealt with in the competitive Central Division. Coach Hitchcock will have them competing nightly. However in the end we believe the Jackets will miss the playoffs by a hair as a result of other teams improving faster as much as anything else. Difference Maker: Nikita Filatov

10) Edmonton- 89. Many are figuring that new coach Pat Quinn will be able to prod the Oilers back into the post season. While we admit he is a good coach, even the best coach can only do so much. Yes, we see the Oil as being improved from last year's version, but not quite enough to sneak back into the playoffs. By and large this is the same team that missed the playoffs with 85 points. Will 36 yr old Khabibulin be an upgrade over 39 yr old Roloson in net? They lost Kotalik to free agency so that won't help an already suspect attack. Can Hemsky take his game to the next level? can Souray stay healthy all year again? We suspect the Oilers could as easily finish in the bottom 5 of the league as they could the 8th spot. Difference Maker: Patrick O'Sullivan

11) Minnesota- 88. Out with the gum chewer (Lemaire) and Gimpy Gaborik, in with Todd Richards behind the bench and Martin Havlot to try to ignite a relatively anemic offense. Never has there been so much uncertainty heading into a Wild season. While they are saying they will play a more 'uptempo' style, do they have the horses to pull it off? Will their previously stifling defense suffer as a result. Can the other Nic Backstrom continue to put up great numbers in this new environment. We say at this stage, no. The Wild will fall somewhat short once again of making the post season. Difference Maker: Kim Johnsson

12) Nashville-87 Another team that will miss the post season as a result of other teams improving more than they are falling backward. We see the Preds as being competitive for that last spot but not quite having enough to get there once again. The same team that missed by a hair last year is back with few if any changes. Therefore to get back to spring hockey the Preds will have to improve from within, and get improved performances from key players like David Legwand, JP Dumont, and Marty Erat. All 3 need to improve their 08-09 stats. On defense the Preds boast one of the best and brightest in the league to compliment break out goalie Pekke Rinne. Still, we believe when all is said and done the lights will go dark in early April in Music City. Difference Maker: Steve Sullivan

13) Phoenix- 85 Our point total may sound optimistic, but in our opinion it might be underrating the desert Dogs. With Gretzky gone the Yotes finally have a real NHL coach who is there for the team and not for his own ego/for the money. Yes, the continued off ice distraction will continue to take atoll but the team has under achieved to some degree the past couple of seasons. We believe Gretzky did a piss-poor job mooding this into a cohesive unit. New coach Tippett will be a significant upgrade. Difference Maker: Peter Mueller

14) Dallas- 80 Sadly Mike Modano's final season will likely be a dismal one. We don't see this team as being anything but in serious decline. Marty Turco is still the #1, but his level of play has fallen in the past couple of seasons. Sure a healthy Brad Richards and Brenden Morrow will be nice, but in our opinion not enough to compete with the rest of the west. Owner Tom Hicks ordered new GM Joe Nieuendyk to slash salary and we wil see results there. Additionally we're not enamoured with the new coach selection of Marc Crawford. Difference Maker: Fabian Brunnstrom

15) Colorado- 65. Looks like it will be yet another long season in Denver. New coach Joe Sacco takes over a team that few expect to compete for the playoffs. They lost future hall of Famer Joe Sacik to retirement and to add insult to injury they will start 10 of their first 15 games away from the pepsi Center. It could get ugly fast. Yes, they do have some very talented players led by Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk, but will they stay healthy this year? Will 3rd over all 2009 pick Matt Duchene make the team? Should he? In goal can Craig Anderson do what Peter Budaj couldn't last year, become a legit #1 goalie? Difference Maker: Marek Svatos

Friday, September 25, 2009

2009-2010 Season Predictions-East

1) Its that time of year. While others amazingly posted/wrote their predictions in late July/early August, the folks at FAUXRUMORS decided that we would be better served/more accurate to wait until after the start of training camp when complete rosters could be analyzed, and early trends (as limited as that is for these purposes) could be evaluated. Not that this tactic helped us last year. So without further nonsense we will get right to it. We will project each team's order of finish. Number of points, and name one player we believe might be the 'difference maker'. A player we believe might be the team's wild card.

1) Philadelphia-110 While most have probably pegged the Flyers as a playoff team few probably will place them into such a lofty position. However we believe this team if it stays healthy will be the top regular season team in the east. Why? They possess great forward depth, and with the Pronger signing now also have a solid defense corps with their top 4 that can compete with anyone in the league. Coach John Stevens can roll out 3 solidly offensively capable lines who can all also handle themselves if the going gets rough. This intangible of having the toughest lineup in the East very much intrigues us. Yes, yes, we know all about what we have said about Ray Emory, and we don't disagree that potentially he'll be a distraction/issue, but we don't think that will be seen until the real crunch time-the playoffs. Difference Maker: Daniele Briere

2) Boston- 108 While we might be projecting a slight decline in bean Town they should still maintain their high level of play and easily win the relatively weak NE division. Yes, we believe the loss of 36 goal scorer Phil Kessel is significant, it won't be significant enough to prevent a divisional win repeat. Overall they remain a formidable opponent. One who can easily play a finesse or bruising style. Their offensive balance even without Kessel is impressive, their blueline remains one of the best in the NHL, led by Norris winner Z-Chara. Will be interesting how Tim Thomas handles being the undisputed #1 guy in net. Can he play 60+ games and will Rask be an adequate back up? Unlike last season there are now very high expectations, and anything short of a Final 4 appearance will be a disappointment. Difference Maker: P. Bergeron.

3) Washington- 106 The bitter taste of defeat at the hands of their bitter rival Pens in game 7 last season still lingers with the caps. We see them winning their 3rd SE divisional title and will certainly be a Cup contender. They are not without question marks though. yes, they possess the reigning 2 time NHL MVP in Ovechkin, and can ice 2 solid offensive lines, with the smart additions of Mike Knuble and Brenden Morrison. Yes, they have Norris finalist Mike Green on their backline. However significant questions remain. How well is their defense overall? They didn't obtain a tough veteran on their backline (like the Flyers did in Pronger) and in goal Theodore had an up and down season. Last year's playoff hero in net Varlamov is still really a rookie. Overall we'd say they remain a force to be reckoned with, but we'd feel much better about them if they had acquired Chris Pronger and not their Conference rival Flyers. Difference Maker: Chris Clark

4) Pittsburgh- 105 Don't let our placement of the defending champs as the 4th seed fool ya. We see them as being every bit as formidable as they have been the past 2 seasons when they have prevailed in the east come spring. Any team that has lines centered by Crosby and Makin (the 1 and 1A lines) and throw in Jordan Staal for good measure and you will always win more than you lose. Also the intangible of being champs can't be discounted. This season though they will likely have more stability behind he bench and a healthy Sergei Gonchar will add points from last year's total. This is still a very young team. Crosby, although entering his 5 season is a mere 22! With a majority of last year's team back, it would be inane to bet against them. Difference Maker:Chris Kunitz

5) Carolina- 96. After the top 4 we see a bit of a drop off. Among the next tier of teams we see the 'canes as the best. Although they have only made the playoffs 3 times in the past 7 years when they do make the dance they make it memorable! Last years semi-Cinderella run to the Final 4 showed what they are capable of. It followed a post Al star game surge that was highlighted with a coaching change-back to Paul Maurice. We haven't been big fans of Paul's, but he did seem to help propel the team back from obscurity to winners and he was rewarded with a 3 year contract. Most of last year's team has returned and may even give the SE divisional favourite caps a run for their money for a now revived, competitive division. Difference Maker: Erik Cole

6) NY Rangers- 94: No team that possess Henrik Lundqvist can be discounted as non playoff team. While we see the rangers as just that, we didn't see any changes in the off season that would lead us to believe that the BlueShirts are significantly improved. Yes they did shuffle around big salaried forwards. unloading salary cap anchor Scott Gomez for Marion Gaborik, but given his penchant for injuries we don't see this as a big upgrade. yes, a full season of John Tortorella and Sean Avery will help/.At the very least it won't be a dull year in the Big Apple, but questions remain on the backline where Redden and to a lesser extent Michael Rozival remain fan targets for inconsistent play and big pay cheques. Difference Maker: Chris Higgins

7) Buffalo- 93: The Sabres barely missed the post season by a pair of points last time around. In all likelihood had their top net minder Ryan Miller stayed healthy they would have qualified for the playoffs. Certainly the sabres possess enough offensive weapons in Vanek, Roy, Pominville and Stafford, to keep pace with the middle rung of teams in the East. The question will be on defense where the team lost yet another point producer(Campbel last year) in Spacek. It'll be difficult to replace his 45 points and the addition of Steve Montador won't do that. They also lost Numinen to retirement, so the younger guys like Chris Butler will have to play big time roles for the Sabres to succeed. Difference Maker: Tim Connolly

8) Florida-92. Yes, we're probably one of the few blogs/writers who see the panthers as anything but lottery pick material. After all they never make the post season and they lost Jay Bouwmeester, right? Sorry, we don't see it that way. WE believe this team was on the cusp of a break out season last year and not for the constant distraction of the J-Bow trade rumours, coupled with an astoundingly bad shoot out record(3-8) the panthers would have seen more spring hockey last season. Had they been 8-3 in those SO games they'd of qualified and finished with the same number of points as the Cup champ pens! With the trade distraction gone to Calgary and the young forwards a year older/wiser we believe it would be a big error to assume these cats won't bite back this season! Difference maker: Michael Frolik

9) Montreal- 91 The Habs summer is why the phrase 'shuffling chairs on the Titanic' was coined. Out with the old (Kovolev, Koivu, Komasarek,Tanguay, Higgins, Lang. In with the new(Gomez, Cammelleri, Spacek, Gionta, Moen, Gill, Mara). If any team was simply a 'dart throw' to predict its the Canadiens! Its this reason why we see them falling only a tad(and out of the post season) but its just as possible they will be a bottom feeder! We are on record as detractors of new head coach Jacques martin, and see his hiring as another reason to believe the team will under achieve. Ultimately it always comes down to goaltending so for the Habs to get back into the playoffs they will have to have either Carey Price or Jaroslav Halak to assume the #1 spot and play at the top of their games. Difference maker: Andre Kostitsyn

10) New Jersey- 90: We can already hear our readers saying" Don't you say the devils will drop down every year?" Well, yes. However this time we really mean/can see it happening. Too many negative factors to not see this. First their positives: One of the best/brightest young forwards in the game today in Zac Parise. Also a healthy Martin Brodeur. However Marty is now 37. can he be counted on to carry the team/play 70+ games? With new(old) coach Jacques Lemaire back will the team go back to its 'trap' days? Their first round loss to the Hurricanes underscored that the Devils are no longer a Cup contender/elite team. The question remains; are they still a playoff team. We say, no. Difference Maker: Martin Brodeur

11) Tampa Bay- 85 Another team that we feel will significantly benefit from less off ice distractions this season to rebound. Between the Melrose nonsense, Lecavlier trade rumours, Stamkos thrust into a role he wasn't quite ready for, ownership/GM issues, and injuries etc the Lightning were ripe to fall, and they did- hard! A 20 or so point jump wouldn't place the Bolts back into the post season but would help reestablish an identity and revive their fan base. We can foresee Stamkos building on his second half to add another offensive weapon to an already solid arsenal. On the back line 2009 draftee Victor Hedmen along with UFA addition Mattias Ohland will help bolster a tattered defense corps. In goal a healthy Mike Smith alone would add 10 points to the teams total. Difference Maker: Andre Meszeros

12) Toronto-83 One thing is at least farely certain in Toronto, the leafs won't be pushed around. Perhaps on the score sheet, but not in team toughness. With the additions of UFA's Mike Komasarek and Colton Orr, Francois Beauchemin, and Garet Exelby brian Burke placed his stmp on his team. In goal with Taskala and young free agent (huge) Jonas the monster Gustavsson give the leafs a solid tandem. On defense they actually are pretty solid. Its up front that questions arise. Even with the addition of Kessel the team is still lacking in this vital area. We can forsee many a 2-1 3-2 losses this season, but as we stated the team won't be pushed around if thats any consalation for the long suffereing Leaf Nation. Difference Maker: Jiri Tlusty

13) Atlanta- 76 WE believe the combination of a resurgent SE division(other than the Thrashers), the constant Kovalckuk trade rumours,along with owners hip uncertainty almost cries out for another dismal season in Atlanta. Incompetant GM Don Waddell owes his job to the ownership fiasco that seems to be spreading faster than Pig flu throughout the NHL. Sure the Thrash have some very nice players in the aforementioned Ilya Kovalchuk, Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, and Brian Little- (at 5'10"appropriatly named). Its time for Kari Lehtonen, now 26 to stay healthy, step up and carry his team. The jury is still out on coach Anderson, but his time could be short if they get off to a slow start. We were also not impressed with the off season additions of Leaf cast-offs Kubina and Antropov. Difference Maker:Rich Peverley

14) Ottawa- 75 Oh, how the mighty have fallen! From Cup finalsts 2+ years ago to lottery pick possibilities. Questions abound, but they start in goal where Pascal Leclaire will be 'the guy'. Can he stay healthy enough to contribute and can he carry a team as a true #1? With heatley finally dispacted to SJ, the team can now try to recover. Will the additions of Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo make up for the superstar? Can Alex Kovalev reignite his career in Kanata? The defense isn't shabby with Kuba and a full season of Chris campoli to augment Volchenkov and Phillips, but we aren't sold that this team will have the chemistry to be more than the sum of its parts. thus a bottom finish in the NE division. Difference Maker: Jon Cheechoo

15) NY Islanders- 69 Yes, Isles fans might be feeling optomistic going into a new season with #1 pick John Tavares, but we believe not long into the season reality will set back in. This is still a very thin lineup. Some improvement should be seen for sure. can't expect them to have as many injuries again, right? Goaltending with additions of Roloson and Biron should at least be stable if not solidly good. Theur defense is another matter. After standout Mark Streit, and oft injured Radelk Martinek we have slow footed Witt and Sutton along with journeymen Fred Meyer. Not impressive. So while we believe things may be starting to look more positive(on the ice anyway) for Isles fans there is a LONG way to go and another lottery finish, if not last overall is again a possibility. Difference Maker: JoBoldsh Bailey

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Best News in Phoenix So Far This Year: Gretzky Resigns!

1) Sorry if we don't genuflect when the name Gretzky is mentioned. We here at Fauxrumors have never pulled any punches, and we won't start now. We have been one of the only hockey blogs that have stated what many a have been saying to themselves/whispering; Gretzky was NOT a good coach and his no show act this training camp was a slap in the face of the team he supposedly led the past 5 years.

2) As we stated last week, we felt that TGO owed the Coyote players and needed to be there at the start of camp regardless of the uncertainty of his situation. If he was eventually let go, then so be it, it should NOT have been a factor in his staying away. Certainly if he was going to step down like he mercifully did today, he should have done it long ago, and not waited until training camp had gone on for 2 weeks!

3) So why now? Apparently there weren't and guarantees that Wayne would get paid the millions he's been given the previous few seasons as the highest (by far) paid head coach in hockey. When it appeared that he'd have to coach for what the peasants received, Gretzky decided it was time to move on. Yes, in our opinion Wayne was in it for the money! No wonder we are told by insiders that he many times seemed disinterested and aloof from his players. Allowing his asst coaches to run things and take lead roles in the day to day operations of the team.

4) So in our opinion despite the odd (selfishly motivated in our opinion) timing, Gretzky is doing the team a favour by stepping aside. By allowing a real coach (Dave Tippett) to come in, we might actually see the Phoenix team achieve/live up to their potential. We don't want to hear/read more of the crap that many have been writing. How difficult Wayne had it. How he didn't have the best teams, etc. Sorry, we're not buying it. We will shortly see how bad a coach he was when the Yotes go into 2009-2010 and compete right from the get go. Perhaps not making the post season but coming a hell of a lot closer than in recent years. Wayne Greatzy may have been the best hockey player ever, but it doesn't excuse him from recent selfish behaviour and doesn't erase 5 years of mediocrity in the desert. Better days are ahead for the Coyote. If only we knew where they will be playing next year

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Save The Date(s), Etc.

1) Firstly we wanted to say great job to FR2 on their post o the Swedish meatball twins Sundin/Forsberg. We agree that we'd like that issue(s) put to sleep ASAP!

2) Next we wanted to remind our readers that we are working on our 2009-2010 season predictions as well as our playoff/Cup winner predictions. They will be done piece meal with the first installment the eastern Conference which we are going to try to drop by Friday, followed by the West by Monday the 28th, and our Cup favourite/playoff predictions before the puck drops to start the season in only 9 days!

3) Next to remind readers of some of the important dates for the new season:

Oct. 1: Start of the regular season
Nov. 9: Hockey Hall of Fame Induction
Dec.1 Last day for RFA's to sign or sit out NHL season.
Dec. 17-Dec. 28: Holiday Trade Freeze
Dec. 26 - Jan. 5: World Junior Championship in Regina/Saskatoon
Jan. 1: 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins
Feb. 15 - Mar. 1: Olympic Break
Mar. 3: NHL Trade Deadline
Apr. 11: Last day of regular season
Apr. 14: Start date of Stanley Cup Playoffs
May 7 - 23: IIHF World Championship in Germany

Monday, September 21, 2009

For the Love of God... Go Away!!

1) With less than eager anticipation we awaited the expected Sundin signing rumours. After all its September, it seems that this is what we discuss annually in the NHL, right? For what seems like the past 10 years Mats has been the NHL's version of Brett Favre; trying to decide if he wants to play and where. Only this time Mats has apparent company/a companion/countrymen in this, Peter Forsberg!

2) Yes, apparently (and we can't confirm/refute the stories) FOPPA is healthy. Well, as healthy as he can be these days with his perennially hurting hoof. Reports from Europe and the accurate Eklund have stated that Peter is 'as healthy as he has been in years', and is looking to make an NHL comeback. He evidently played a few games for MoDo in Sweden and didn't limp off so naturally he must want to come back here, right?

3) To both of these gentlemen, who have arguably enjoyed near Hall of Fame careers, we implore you to either sign NOW (if you ever intended to play at all) OR make a definitive retirement announcement. Yes, yes, we know Brett Favre has had 5-6 different tear filled retirement announcements that he has backed out of, but we hope that he is the exception not the norm/example we should look toward here. We are simply sick and tired of both reading about these two and the numerous rumours of where they'll land. Thus far (for those keeping score- and we know you are) Sundin has been rumoured to be signing with: The

  • Rangers

  • Vancouver

  • Montreal

  • Toronto

  • Senators

Meanwhile Foppa has been linked to: The

  • Rangers

  • Flyers

  • Preditors

4) If either of both intend to resume their respective NHL careers they should decide to do so BEFORE the NHL season commences. This new Niedermayer/Sundin trend of missing training camp and the beginning of the season needs to end. A cut off date needs to be established that if you are not under contract, and are a UFA by a certain date you are ineligible to play that season. Perhaps November 1st. Currently a RFA can't play if unsigned after December 1st but there is no such rule governing UFA's. We have had enough of this and its time to end. Shut up and play, or For the Love of God, once and for all, go away!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pros And Cons Of Kessel Deal?

1) With the Heatley trade/saga come and gone the remaining big name still out there who is purported to be available is Bruins forward Phil Kessel. The 21 year old just completed his entry level deal with the team and has limited bargaining power other than withholding his services. His asking price of nearly 5 million is not a possibility now that the Bruins have almost no cap space.

2) Of course this leads to the obvious question, did the Bruins never intend to sign Phil or did they sign other players and lose/use up the cap space necessary to sign Kessel as an insurance in case he didn't accept their offer(s)? It would seem plausible that the B's never intended to sign the native and have played hard ball knowing that as the season drew closer they'd be able to extract a nice return in a trade. Risky business for sure Boston!

3) The next question is: Is Kessel worth it? In our opinion its a clear Yes! Despite having lost most of a season with cancer, the forward has improved every year in the NHL. He scored 11 goals in his first NHL season, 19 in his second, 36 in his third. He's just starting to define the kind of player he is capable of becoming. How many 20 year olds not named Ovechkin or Crosby have scored 35+ goals recently? The biggest negative surrounding Kessel seem to be his persona/personality. He's been defined as aloof and shy on one hand and disliked by others. We have asked around and it sounds like its more a case of immaturity than a defect in his personality. In fact we have heard from reliable sources that Kessel is no where near as introverted as he was as a rookie. 'He may finally be growing into his skin', is how one scout put it . Its not like he tried to beat up an old cab driver. His off-ice 'issues' were why he wasn't picked 1st overall in the 2006 NHL draft despite probably having the best offensive upside. He has since fallen behind his fellow 2006 draftees Staal, Backstrom and Towes, but if last season's stats are any indication the best is by far yet to come from Kessel and in the end may be the most productive from his deeply talented draft class.

4) So what happens next? Well first off it should be noted that Kessel had off season shoulder surgery. From all reports we have read/heard it went well and a full recovery is expected, so that shouldn't be an issue. However its unlikely that Kessel will be ready to play in a game before November so there really is no need to rush a deal. However it should also be noted that IF Kessel is not signed by an NHL team prior to December 1st, he can NOT play this season. Its for that reason that we believe that a trade is more likely sooner than later. So, to where?

5) The Maple Leafs have positioned themselves to be able to attempt an offer sheet. With so little cap space the Bruins would have big trouble matching. It would depend what the Leafs offered Kessel to determine what compensation the Bruins would receive back. At this point with the Leafs not expected to make the post season their 1st round pick could turn out to be a nice chip for the B's to acquire. Brian Burke has also been in contact directly with the Bruins trying to land the forward by means of a conventional trade to avoid the mess and bad feelings of an offer sheet. (Something Burke knows quite a bit about!)

6) Other teams allegedly in the running are the Rangers and Predators. The Blueshirts have some decent defensive prospects/young NHL players, but would Sather be willing to part with a Dubinsky/Staal, etc for Kessel? With their limited cap space it would be a difficult fit anyway so a move to The Big Apple seems far fetched. Now Nashville is a more likely scenario. In fact our sources tell us the Preds are the leading team in the Kessel sweepstakes. Still another respected source of our says to not over look or be surprised to hear the Wild involved in trade talks as they are pushing hard to get Kessel. A dark horse also remains the Coyotes, but their ownership issues could preclude Maloney from getting too involved. Our most respected source tells us that this situation could be resolved even BEFORE the season starts on October 1st. " Look for movement on this very soon".

7) We will refrain from making an opinion about the Bruins decision to rid themselves of Kessel until we see what they get back. We wouldn't trade him, but the Bruins are already a very talented/deep team, and may feel he's disposable for other asset(s). We'll wait to see what those asset(s) are before making final judgment.
As always, we will stay on top of this and any other issues that arise and relay all the latest to our readers!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stay Tuned

1) Just a quickie note to our readers to alert them of upcoming posts we're working on.

We have a Phil Kessel article set to be dropped tomorrow morning.

FR2 tells us that they intend to publish a post about the Swedish retirees, Forsberg/Sundin? That should be interesting.

In addition look for our annual Preseason predictions to be out within the next week or so, followed by our highly anticipated coach rankings. Other posts are sure to be written as well so as always we ask folks to always come on by and check here for all the latest as we enter our 4th NHL season of blogging the sport we all love most!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Musical Chairs Over?

1) Several players with name recognition remain unsigned free agents as many teams get their camps underway. The initial free agent signing frenzy of the first two weeks in July over, and many teams are either content with their team or have little cap space to add much more, the music has died down and many vets may find themselves left standing without a team come October.

2) Some of the more 'fortunate' have been given 'invites' by teams, in hopes to get a spot on a roster.

We'll go through a non comprehensive list of available players, and discuss which may be interested. Very few, if any of the remaining players will get more than a 1 year deal. Most for under 1 million, and many for a tad over minimum and possibly bonuses if they are over 35.

Firstly in goal:

  • Manny Fernandez- despite having excellent numbers last year before suffering from an injury that caused him to lose the co-#1 job with eventual Vezina winner Tim Thomas. Rumours abound from imminent retirement to a possible signing by the Sharks.

  • Martin Gerber- "Swiss cheese" got a few nibbles this off season. In fact was offered a deal in Pittsburgh before they eventually signed Brent Johnson. Decided to go back to Europe and play in the KHL for more cash. No one will miss ya Gerbs!

  • Manny Legace- One of the few lucky ones getting a 'try out' in Thrashers camp. Sources tell us he has a better than even shot at making the team on a 2 way deal with Lehtonen and Hedberg frequently injured

  • Kevin Weekes- The writing was on the wall last season when journeymen Scott Clemmensson took over as the team's starter when Marty Brodeur got injured. As of today no team has called and Kevin may have to decide to play in the AHL to continue his pro career and hope a team will need his services. (A long shot right now)

  • Dan Cloutier- How desperate are the Wings? Sorry, even in his Dan "prime" sucked. If he makes the team it says more about Jimmy Howard and a dearth of depth in net than anything

Next on defense:
  • Niclas Havelid- Has returned to play in Sweden

  • Daryl Sydor- Is in Blues camp on a try out. He has a shot to break their line up especially if injuries to their defense corps are anything like last season. We'd say its a 60:40 chance he'll be signed

  • Denis Gauthier- The 32 year old former King defender remains unsigned.

  • Dmitri Kalinin- The former Sabre 1st round pick remains available after finishing the season in Phoenix

  • Martin Skoula- Given a free agent try out by the Panthers. With 6 defensemen already under contract AND Chris Backman also there on a Try out basis its a long shot for Marty to find work with the cats barring injury.

  • Marc-Andre Bergeron- The 28 year old has always been an enigma. Blessed with significant skill, but hasn't put it together consistently. Good offensive numbers but a defensive liability. May have to wait into the season to play or may take an offer on the other side of the pond

  • Chris Chelios- The 58 year old may have to finally come to the realization that's its over.

On to Forward: where we have quite a few 'names' out there:

  • Peter Sykora- In Minny on a try out basis with a better than even shot of making the Wild squad

  • Manny Malhotra- The long time Blue Jacket is looking for work for the first time in his long career. Decent defensive forward, but there are a glut of folks in that category this year

  • Dominic Moore- Like Malhotra a good defensive forward who will likely eventually find work with a team looking for a 4th line center PK specialist, but at a significant pay cut from last season in Toronto

  • Micheal Peca- His name might get him an offer, but if any one has been watching they can see that Michael is a shadow of his former self

  • Robert Lang- The now 38 year old Czech is being rumoured to be invited to the Habs cap, but not quite yet. Some may recall that prior to his Achilles season ending injury last season he was the team's leading scorer. Gainey should give him a look.

  • Mats Sundin- Oh geez, please just go away Mats! We don't want (yet another) fall of reading crap about where mats will end up- Vancouver or Montreal?

  • Max Afinoganov- We are hearing that max has a couple of 1 year offers he's considering. A BIG pay cut though. New jersey, Atlanta and Edmonton have inquired most recently. He'll be on a roster by October

  • Miroslav Satan- May have to sell his soul for another shot. The former Pen was hoping to sign back with a former team the NYI where he was seen working out this summer, but alas the isles left him behind on LI when they left for camp. Its either Europe or buses of the AHL for Miro

  • Blair Betts- Good PK/face-off specialist in Philadelphia on a try out basis. Our sources in Philly tell us its a near certainty that Blair will be on the Flyer's opening night roster

  • Theoren Fleury-Back in Calgary where it all started for the now 41 year old. One of the more intriguing comeback stories. Has he cleaned up his act? If so we could forsee Theo having a very nice return to the NHL.

  • Jason Allison- Where have ya been Jason? After 2 years and 1000 Eklund rumours he resurfaces in Toronto. Not sure if he'll be any more likely to be able to handle the faster 'new NHL' than he was 3 years ago.

3) Now unlike some who wrote about the 'glut' of players who went unsigned, we don't think this situation is the result of some kind of collusion or owners hatched conspiracy. It s a simple case of math; More players than available jobs. Teams are still going to spend the same money on these guys. With a salary cap tied to revenue teams are still spending millions, but they are being more selective of whom they give that money now. When a younger and slightly cheaper player with more potential upside is going against a grizzled vet the team will now give the nod to the younger guy. Its an unfortunate result of the new salary paradigm, but in the end it results we feel in a better overall product

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gretzky Holds Out??

1) In (another) bizarre twist in the never boring Phoenix Coyote saga evidently head coach Wayne Gretzky is "holding out". The Coyote training camp opened over the weekend and The Great One has been a no show at this point. What we have read is that Wayne is waiting for contractual issues to be ironed out. To that we say politely, WTF??? Are you kidding us Wayne?? Unless (and we have not been told this) Wayne has been specifically told NOT to come to camp, he should be there! Even players without contracts come to camp. Its not like Gretzky is going to suffer a coaching carer threatening injury doing drills/meeting with his team.

2) Now, to be fully open with our readers we have never been huge Gretzky fans throughout his long career. We do give him his due as the best offensive player to ever lace on skates. We give him full recognition for all he's added to our game, but someone has to call him out when he pulls a stunt like this. Its yet another case of Wayne putting his self interests ahead of the team that has highly(over) paid him the past several years. Yet, we have not seen one story critical of Gretzky's actions here. Few if any will say what we all know; He's a mediocre coach (at best) and been OVER paid for the past several seasons. Fans do NOT go to games to see a coach. Even one with his stature.

3) We wonder if he's even prepared to coach this season. What kind of message does this send to the team? Here they are in a mess already and now they have to start training camp without the head man? Players have to wonder who (if anyone) is running things. GM Don Maloney has done yeoman's work in keeping things on the hockey side relatively stable, but if his head coach is refusing to show up until he is given financial guarantees then it doesn't bode well for any possible on ice improvement for this team that as of this date is left in hockey limbo. Sorry Gretzky fans, this is a black eye for your guy indeed! Get back to work or quit!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

What IS the 3rd/Public Option?

1) Firstly, before we at FR2 get into (yet another) post concerning the Phoenix soap opera, we wanted to mention, like FR did so eloquently/succinctly today, that it's been 8 years since the 9/11 attacks. We all remember the shock and outrage felt that morning. We want to have our readers recall that on that fateful day and the weeks and months after it, the heroism that was displayed by the police, firefighters, passengers on Flight 93, our Armed Forces, etc. They demonstrated in the wake of that senseless tragedy why we're all so proud to be American!!

2) Now to go 180 from those sentiments to the mess in the desert. Yesterday had been looked upon a few weeks ago as the date circled when the mess would essentially be resolved. Now the situation looks muddier than ever. Not only did the bankruptcy judge NOT make a decision yesterday, but directly alluded to an option not currently on the table. That BOTH current offers to buy the team, and satisfy the debt in the bankruptcy proceedings may be inadequate/rejected. Judge Baum did not say what that 'Third Option'; might be, leaving folks like us at FR2 to speculate based upon little information/limited sources what it might be. In either case, the NHL/Bettman or PSE/Balsillie, both parties are sure to NOT like the judge's choice. We think Balsillie will like it least.

3) So, you're undoubtedly asking what on Earth are you alluding to FR2?

  • We believe that the judge will essentially quash/kill Balsillie's bid saying that he doesn't want to set precedent for allowing an outside entity to decide league policy. This will delight Bettman. Who seemed poised to do anything possible short of assassination to prevent the Canadian billionaire from obtaining the franchise.

  • The judge will also NOT approve the NHL bid as it doesn't come close to satisfying creditors (its 100 million less than the PSE bid) this will not make the NHL happy!

4) We can foresee the judge 'staying' (we're not lawyers, so forgive us if we don't use correct legalese) the decision until either the NHL amends its bid, or other bids can be found that do satisfy creditors sufficiently. There is also another scenario one source told us that is being discussed in back rooms. "The public option". No, not the ominous Obama health care take over, but an option where the city of Glendale takes ownership control over the team. They were the one's who were poised to be the biggest losers if the team was sold and moved (a likelihood regardless of who takes over).

5) The city has already 'invested' a great deal of revenue to this and was going to be asked for compensation anyway, so why not get the equity if you're subsidizing the product anyway? This way the city can limit its losses and control the destiny. The NHL would like this less than a hand picked owner, but would begrudgingly accept this. However do NOT expect this to happen today. We believe that if/after the judge rejects both bids today, the city will begin to scramble to get its act together and try to convince their tax payers that a Green Bay like situation would be in their benefit. Stay tuned folks, this is getting crazier by the day!


1) Let's Never forget that 3000 of us were murdered for no other reason than for what those colors represent; Freedom!

These Colors NEVER Run!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

High Stakes As Ballsille and NHL Play Texas Hold-em!|

1) For those who have been following this disgraceful situation in Phoenix the past 6 months the situation seems to change by the hour as the decision by the bankruptcy judge gets closer. The facts, even for experienced attorneys, are hard to decipher and get a hold of. We get different opinions from almost every lawyer Fauxrumors tries to ask for advice on this. so we've stopped asking. LOL

2) What is apparent from a non attorney angle is that both sides are preparing for an epic battle. With each passing day the other side 'ups the ante' a little. The latest to do so was from Jim Balsillie. He has increased his (already highest bid) offer from 212 million to 250 or so million. Significantly eclipsing the 147 the NHL has on the table. Keep in mind that the NHL is involved in the bidding process ONLY to prevent Balsille from gaining control over the franchise and moving it to Hamilton. Bettman and the owners have already made their opinions known about how they feel about Balsillie as a partner (They don't want him EVER!). So when Jerry Reinsdorf and his group pulled out it left a vacuum that the NHL was forced to fill with their bid.

3) The NHL the day prior upped the ante by stating that the moving cost of transferring the franchise from Phoenix to Hamilton Ontario would not be anywhere near the 15 million that Balsillie's side had stated, but closer to 150 million( A tad of a discrepancy). The new Balsillie offer is designed to placate the city of Glendale for the Coyotes breaking their lease. Its certainly an intriguing/smart move by Balsillie. Nobody has yet to satisfy the local government, and even the NHL's offer has a provision to move after next season, possibly leaving the city out in the cold and no monetary compensation. Balsillie addresses this hoping it will help sway both the city and more importantly the judge to allow him to bid and win the right to buy the team and move it before the season starts or at the very least by mid season.

4 So whats next? With the hours ticking away to Thursday's auction its likely the NHL will also up ts bid/ante and or state that the franchise can not be purchased by anyone they don't approve. Threatening to immediately dissolve the franchise IF the judge affirms Mr. Balsille with the winning bid. So far the NHL has stayed just short of that threat. Its their last possible move other than matching Balsillie's offer dollar for dollar(another possibility) What is certain, both sides are prepared to "Go All In" for the right to own/control the team. NO ONE at this late juncture can tell who will win this epic battle in the desert, but its a soap opera that's likely NOT to end even after Thursday! Stay tuned folks.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Labour Unrest Now More Certain?

1) So does the removal of NHLPA head honcho Paul Kelly bode poorly for more labour unrest come the end of the current CBA? Sorry if we disagree with the NHL/Bettman mouthpieces like Stan Fischler, and the article from an Eklund accolite Dee Karl( We won't get into the specifics of the actual dismissal here. The true story may never be fully known We would also caution readers to be careful what to believe, as many hockey writers have a political bent so to speak, and angle their stories/sources around/to prove it. So be cautious when a writer cites an unnamed source as knowing the inside of why the NHLPA did what it did. Very few will actually be knowlegeable about the truth!

2) Above all though, In our opinion its all mute. It wouldn't matter a wit who the NHLPA was or is (other than Ted Saskin who evidently was a Bettman puppet and would have given the owners anything they asked). No matter who the new NHLPA was going to be, come the next labour negotiations if the union-)or association as Karl wants us to refer to it,) that person was going to be vilified. How do we know? The instant Kelley was named NHLPA 2 years ago Stan Fischler (one the NHL's unofficial media outlets) went on the attack BEFORE Kelley had even made one official statement!

3) As we have maintained, -and in our opinion the facts back us up-all recent work stoppages have been at the behest of the NHL/Gary Bettman. It was the NHLPA who was willing to negotiate and the NHL steadfastly sticking to its guns-sort of speak- with respect to the salary cap. We were led to believe that the hard cap, one without possibility of circumvention, would solve all their league's financial woes/inequities. Small markets would somehow now be able to compete with their high revenue counterparts. Of course the fact that there were 12 different semi finalist in the 3 years leading up to the 2nd Bettman lockout wasn't important to those facts we guess? Have the small markets begun to thrive? Ask a fan in Phoenix. Even a recent success story, the Washington Capitals are said to be barely breaking even, or even losing $$ despite selling out most games and playing in two playoff series.

4) As we have stated since 2007 (actaully before that, but our blog only goes back 3 years), the next round of negotiations will not be pleasent. The owners under stress from the flailing economy, and smelling blood in the water from a weak appearing NHLPA, will go for the throat- with the elimination of guarenteed contracts! Here-->, and then here---> So as stated earlier it doesn't matter whom the NHLPA eventually names, the NHL is going to make that person out to be Satan (not the hockey player) incarnate, and play the victim card once again. The evil millionaire hockey players depriving fans of the game they love. It worked last time, so why not again? Will the players show a spine this time? It could be quite ugly folks!

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