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Friday, June 29, 2012

Oilers - Krueger New Head Coach

On June 26th, the Oilers announced that Ralph Krueger would be their new head coach. Krueger has been with the team for the past two years, as associate coach to the now dismissed Tom Renney, and Krueger is partially responsible for a significant improvement in the Oilers’ power-play—which was ranked 3rd in the NHL last year. Previously, he was the head coach of the Swiss National team and improved their IIHF World rankings from 15th to 7th. He has numerous other credentials that indicate that he should be successful as a head coach in the NHL.  

Krueger is known to be a coach who demands hard work in practice and who expects players to always improve. His goal is to train the Oiler players so well that they will naturally become a winning machine. This all sounds great but you also need “heart,” and I see that coming from the younger Oiler players who are not just in it for the money.

Lowe and Tambellini made the right choice (for a change) in selecting Krueger as head coach as compared to the list of other candidates and rumored candidates. Marc Crawford was interviewed for the job, twice, and I am glad that he did not get the position because he has never impressed me. When he allowed his Dallas Stars team to slip out of a playoff spot in 2011 it was hard to believe, and of course it really hurts his resume. It was rumored that Brent Sutter as a candidate, and if Tambellini and Lowe actually seriously considered him it would be nothing short of insanity. To have the “enemy” (former coach of the Flames) coaching the Oilers would not sit well with the fans at all.

Besides rewarding Krueger with the head coaching position, Lowe and Tambellini also decided to keep the rest of the coaching staff intact, except, Moores in player development retired. Former Oilers, Buchberger and Smith, were kept as assistant coaches on the orders of Kevin Lowe, who, also created a new position for Craig MacTavish, “Sr. Vice President of Hockey Operations.” Lowe should have sought out a new goaltending coach for this coming year because they need improvement in that area. This past season I was stating that the Oilers had to change their coaching staff, including Moores and Sillinger in player development because younger guys were not advancing as they should have been—Paajarvi and Omark to name two. Well, with Renney being canned and Moores retiring part of my wish came true. The new Sr. Director of Player Development is Rick Carriere. Lowe is keeping Sillinger but I would have replaced him with someone else and started with two entirely fresh minds. In the next few years we shall see how Rick Carriere does.

I do have one issue with Lowe and Tambellini’s hiring of Krueger and that is the length of the contract given to him. They signed him on for three years? That really does not make sense because they just went through having to keep Renney too long and that was on a two-year contract. By the way, the reason they kept Renney right until the end was to save some money and to get a better spot in the draft. Krueger, as a rookie NHL head coach, should have been offered a one-year deal to see how he made out. If well, it would have been easy to extend him for two years. He did fill-in for Renney for five games last year and Krueger’s record during those games was 2-3-0—not good enough.

Under Krueger, I have no doubt that we will see an improved Oiler team, but a good portion of the improvement will solely be due to the maturing of the young talent and also the addition of one or more players—Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov and perhaps even Zharkov. I don’t want to pat Krueger on the back until he really proves that he deserves it.

TJ Stanley


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Oiler’s Pick Yakupov 1st in Draft – Is it Another Mistake by Lowe and Tambellini? – Other Oiler 2012 Picks Analyzed

Nobody can honestly deny the fact that Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini have done an utterly brutal job thus far in their so-called rebuilding of the Oilers. When you examine what they did in the 2010 and 2011 drafts (all players included), most fans could have done better even without all of the scouting reports and interviews with players. On the trade front, in 2011 Tambellini and Lowe shopped injury-prone Hemsky around but wanted far too much for him and then decided to trade their power forward Dustin Penner instead—a ridiculously stupid move for a team that has an overabundance of small forwards. In 2012, the Oilers made another poor and unsuccessful effort to move Hemsky before the trade deadline, and then, despite Hemsky having a season so bad that the stench is still lingering in Rexall Place, Tambellini rewarded him with a two-year contract extension worth a whopping 10 million—even the Calgary Flames had to publicly laugh via Twitter! Hemsky had 36 points in 69 games, was minus-13 and took 43 minutes in penalties (which is a disgrace in itself for a “skilled” player who is being paid to get points and not sit in the sin bin)! Do we really need to talk any more about Lowe and Tambellini to show that they are fools who really don’t know what they are doing? No, we don’t, but let’s do it anyway by taking a look at a few mistakes that they made in the drafts. Afterwards, we shall consider their decision to select Yakupov in this year’s draft and discuss other options which would have been better; and, we shall also analyze the Oilers other picks in the 2012 draft.

Lowe and Tambellini’s Mistake in Drafting Taylor Hall

Tambellini and Lowe chose Hall over Seguin despite the fact that they knew that Hall had a longstanding shoulder problem. Lowe and Tambellini also knew that Hall was reckless and that he had balance issues, and they also saw the hit by Hamonic on Hall in the Memorial Cup with Hall going face-first into the boards—definitely suffering some damage since he could not get up from his knees for some time and the parts of his face that made contact with the boards were red and his nose was bleeding. Clearly, Lowe and Tambellini made a mistake in drafting Hall over Seguin solely on the facts described above. That mistake became very clear to all Oiler fans who watched Hall falling all over the place in his first year, and, unfortunately, his cockiness, poor balance and shoulder issue led to some nasty injuries in 2011 and 2012 (including a concussion) and also surgery which cut his season short last year. On March 20, 2012, I posted an article entitled: “Taylor Hall’s Four Injuries in Two Years and Cory Sarich of the Flames.” I encourage you to read this article and watch the incredible videos of both Sarich and Hall. I shall provide a brief summary below but the videos are a must see. On March 3, 2011, Hall foolishly started a fight with Dorsett of the Blue Jackets and Hall suffered a leg injury which knocked him out for the latter part of his first year, 2011. Then, in his second year, November of 2011-12, Hall was hit in a game and his shoulder was injured (previous problem aggravated to be more accurate), causing him to miss seven games. In January of 2012, Hall wasn’t wearing his helmet in warm-up and he fell and slid into the boards where he collided with a teammate and then Potter tried to step over Hall but instead stepped on his forehead. Hall suffered a nasty gash that needed 30 stitches. At the All-Star break, Hall and some other Oiler players took a trip to Mexico and they went golfing but Hall forgot his shoes and golfed in sandals and injured a toe. Then, on March 16, 2012, in a game against the Flames, Hall recklessly went towards the boards where the puck was and he fell as Cory Sarich was coming in from the point to lay him low. Sarich made contact with Hall’s head and Hall suffered a concussion. Later it was decided by Oiler brass and doctors that Hall should have shoulder surgery and would miss the remainder of the year. Well, before Hall was drafted it would not have been too hard for anyone to predict that he would continue to have shoulder problems, problems that could have a major effect on his career and the team that drafted him. The NHL is faster, the players are larger, and Hall was going to get hit a lot due to his reckless style of play. Furthermore, kids like Hall that are too cocky do not learn lessons without paying the price. They don’t listen to older people who have experience but always do it their way and damage themselves in one way or another. It was Hall’s cockiness and pride that caused him to challenge well-known scraper Dorsett to a fight. Coach Tom Renney called it “character” but I call it stupidity.   

Lowe and Tambellini selected Hall as their money-making “poster boy”—they felt that he would bring in the most money and posted him on their website with a huge smile on his face. Be assured that Lowe and Tambellini make all of their decisions based on money, despite what they try to make the public believe. They are businessmen, bad ones at that. In my opinion, posting the smiling face of an unproven player on the team website was a slap in the face to veteran players who are better than Hall and who have contributed a lot to the team. Lowe and Tambellini will never sell me on Hall, but the kid himself can still turn his career in the right direction if he listens to experienced people and plays smart. His foolishness has already cost him a lot. I would have bypassed Hall in the draft and taken Tyler Seguin.

Cheerleaders?

Besides their “poster boy” plan, Lowe and Tambellini can be “credited” with greatly cheapening the game of hockey in Edmonton and Canada by presenting a cheerleading squad of young women—the first in Canada (2010-11). What these two men will do to turn a buck for Daryl Katz! Having cheerleaders is a disgrace and disrespectful to every woman who attends a game. Do women fans want their husbands and boyfriends looking at skating cheerleaders? Honestly, if hockey isn’t good enough to entertain the fans they would be better off going home and watching TV or porn. Shame on Daryl Katz, Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini for cheapening the game of hockey in Canada. Lowe ought to put his Stanley Cup rings on Ebay and try to make a few dollars that way. I would have more respect for him for doing that than his cheerleader plan.       

Lowe and Tambellini’s 2011 Draft Mistakes – John Gibson – And the Importance of Goalies in the NHL

Last year Lowe and Tambellini had the opportunity in the second round to get the top goalie prospect, John Gibson (6' 3'' and 212 lbs), but elected to pass on him. Khabibulin was 39 years old people! The Oilers took Nugent-Hopkins first and also had the 19th pick in the first round, and they selected a big Swedish defenseman, Oscar Klefbom. Okay, they got their big defenseman who they needed but then to start the second round they took another defenseman, David Musil rather than John Gibson? Musil was a respectable pick but how can you pass on the top-rated goalie prospect, one who could turn out to be an elite goalie in the NHL and lead you to one or more Stanley Cup victories? Gibson was taken shortly after by Anaheim and last year for the Kitchener Rangers his Save Percentage was .928! He will get a lot better in my opinion and he is already extremely composed. The Oilers have Dubnyk and should play him as the starter and buy-out Khabibulin for the sake of saving money to put towards another player who can help the team more. Khabibulin was very inconsistent last year and his record was terrible as compared to Dubnyk. The Oilers signed an experienced minor league goalie in Yann Danis, but they needed to bring more goalies into the system via the drafts and hope that one would turn out to be an elite player. It is always best to take your chances on top goalie prospects because without an elite goalie your chances of winning the Stanley Cup are poor. Look what happened to the Pens in the 2012 playoffs? Their so-called elite goalie, Fleury, proved that he really isn’t elite and that can be confirmed by looking at his career stats in conjunction with the awesome teams that have been in front of him. The Pens did not have a back-up who could take the reins and subsequently they fell to the Flyers. And for an even more important lesson, Steve Yzerman, VP and GM of the Lightning, probably made the worst all-time goalie decisions after the 2010-11 season. First, he let Mike Smith go—for nothing! Second, Yzerman rested his hopes on a 42 year old Roloson and gave him a one-year deal worth 3 million! You can’t gamble your entire season on a retirement-ready goalie, and neither is it wise to count on one goalie without providing an exceptional back-up—and Yzerman did not provide a good enough back-up in Mathieu Garon. Furthermore, you should always strive to have a couple of other excellent goalies in your system who can be brought-up in case there are one or more injuries—it simply is the most important position in hockey and you need a lot of depth. I guess Yzerman felt that a goalie would be given to him as a gift because he also passed on the chance of taking John Gibson in the 2011 draft! Instead, he opted for a Russian center for his first pick, a Russian winger for his second, a Russian defenseman for his third (Round 5), and he finally took a goalie in Round 6. All said, Yzerman was entirely responsible for the Lightning missing the 2012 playoffs—one of the worst NHL managing mistakes ever. He was a great player but obviously needs a lot of advice in managing and directing a team (and the same goes for Kevin Lowe). Yzerman selected a goalie for his second of two picks in Round 1 of the 2012 draft, but too little too late, and again the player was a Russian. Yzerman is going way overboard on Russian players in my opinion, and you tell me if fans in North America want to watch a team full of Russians rather than Canadians and Americans? Also, Russian players are a risk because they could go to the KHL, like Radulov did once, and now plans to a second time. Yzerman needs a starting goalie and also a good back-up goalie. A week before this year’s draft, Yzerman acquired 24 year-old netminder Anders Lindback from the Predators, along with forward Kyle Wilson and a 7th round pick in the draft, in exchange for two 2nd round picks in the 2012 draft, a 3rd round pick in the 2013 draft and goalie Sebastien Caron. Yzerman had put himself into a position where he really had to do this deal because he has nobody between the pipes and Lindback could develop into a starting goalie. Currently, he is a back-up caliber goalie. Last year for the Preds he was 5-8-0 and his Save Percentage was respectable at .912 and his GAA was 2.42. However, Yzerman was still in trouble after that deal and that is why he drafted goalies and was hoping to land Jonas Gustavsson on the first day of free agency but was unable to do so as Gustavsson signed with the Red Wings (who now are much more solid in net). Now, Yzerman is going to need to orchestrate a trade for another goalie who is at least as good as Lindback in an attempt to provide some stability and a chance of making the playoffs this year. You need to have a lot of depth in the goaltending position. Is there anything wrong with having two excellent goalies battling for the starting position? Ask the Blues who had Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak giving it their all the entire season and who captured the Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals against in the regular season. What the Blues have is the ideal and the same situation was in Boston with Tuuka Rask and Tim Thomas, and in LA with Quick and Bernier (although Bernier had a tough year). Look who Boston took as their first pick this year: top goalie prospect Malcolm Subban. I would have done the same. In getting back to Lowe and Tambellini, they both know the importance of great goaltending and yet, for their third pick they bypassed the number one goalie prospect in the 2011 draft. Hard to believe!

Lowe and Tambellini’s 2011 Draft Mistakes – Nugent-Hopkins

Nugent-Hopkins was a risky pick in my opinion due to his small body frame. Landeskog would definitely have been my first pick because he had improved tremendously in the 2010-11 season (In 53 games he had 66 points and was plus-27) and because he was about 25 pounds heavier than Nugent-Hopkins. Honestly, from the Oilers standpoint, if they were not going to fill a team gap with Landeskog they would have been better trading the pick along with a smaller Oiler player for an NHL goalie, power forward or a defenseman. Unfortunately, Nuge already suffered a shoulder injury and I fear that he will have multiple injuries just like Hemsky and Hall. I like the kid and hope that he can beat the odds.  

Lowe and Tambellini’s Mistake in Drafting Yakupov 1st in 2012 Draft

What players do the Oilers need so that they can become Stanley Cup Champions? They need an elite goalie, an offensive defenseman who can contribute on the power-play, some big men up front, and a couple of solid defensive defensemen. Did they fill any of those needs in the 2010 or 2011 draft? In trades or free agent signings? Lowe and Tambellini have obviously been so confused about who they need to build a Stanley Cup Champion—and it isn’t cheerleaders you idiots—that they decided to listen to sportswriters for guidance before this year’s draft. Well, they still selected the small guy, Yakopov, but did add a few larger boys as recommended by the media. Nevertheless, in my opinion it was another poor overall effort by Lowe and Tambellini because they passed on some great goalie prospects and also other high-ranked players.

What would you have done with the first pick in this year’s draft? I would have traded Hemsky, Hall or Nugent-Hopkins along with the 1st pick in the draft in exchange for Senators goalie Robin Lehner and another player or pick. GM Bryan Murray has grossly mistreated Lehner despite his having the best Save Percentage out of all four Sens goalies. Lehner is a young Swede and I predict that he will be as good as Lundqvist, and maybe even better when all is said and done. In the last four games that he was allowed to play (Feb. and March of 2012), he was the 1st Star twice and the 2nd Star once.

The Oilers could have also traded the first pick and one of the three players mentioned above for a skilled defenseman (not too old though) such as Shattenkirk and another player or picks. The Blues wouldn’t part with Pietrangelo. Or, the Oilers could have attempted to get a proven power forward to replace Penner. Instead, they took a small forward in Yakupov, a guy who may or may not even stay in the NHL. In fact, if there is a lockout this year, Yakupov would likely go to the KHL and the Oilers may never see him again! So, taking him involves risk and I would never have chosen him but used the 1st Pick as trade leverage to fill one or more gaps in my team.

Oilers Other 2012 Draft Picks

As I stated, Lowe and Tambellini did add some bigger boys in the draft, but no goalies.

They selected Edmonton Oil Kings left-winger Mitchell Moroz in Round 2, 32nd overall (despite his having a midterm rank of 171 and final ranking of 72). He is a 209 lb power forward but he compiled a lot of penalty minutes last year (including fighting majors) and the NHL is slowly moving away from dirty hockey. I prefer players that have exceptional skill and subsequently don’t have to take penalties. Brian Campbell won the Lady Byng and he only took three penalties all year, and Jordan Eberle wasn’t far behind. All said, regarding this second pick, the Oilers were far too anxious and could have done a lot better than Moroz, and there were some Top 10 ranked players still available. Moroz would have likely been available in Round 3 and the Oilers should have waited to see if he was available in that round.  

The Oilers third pick was Jujhar Khaira and he was taken 63rd overall, ahead of his final ranking of 74. He is a power forward with talent in front of the net. He might make the Oilers in a year or two.  
The Oilers fourth pick was also in Round 3, 91st overall, and they chose Russian Daniil Zharkov. His final ranking was 32nd and he is a power forward over 200 pounds. He had suffered a broken collarbone in training camp but was able to come back and put together a pretty good season. From his comments he is glad to be an Oiler (despite the fact that his favorite teams are Detroit and Washington—Datsyuk and Ovechkin surely) and he has a goal of out-working and out-playing Yakupov, Hall and Nugent-Hopkins—especially Yakupov. He feels slighted by being picked 91st and wants to prove that he will be the best player to come out of the 2012 draft. If his collarbone never breaks again, Zharkov will likely turn out to be the Oilers best pick in this draft since he was secured in Round 3; and, it is possible that he may turn out to be better than Yakupov. I like his determination to be the best and if his work ethic matches his words he just might make the Oilers this year—but it would take a lot because I am quite certain that Tambellini plans to only add one rookie this year and that is Yakupov. Oiler veterans are really going to be pushed this upcoming training camp and that will only benefit the team because they need better work ethic. Stiff competition between players will result in a much improved Oiler team.

The Oilers fifth pick was in Round 4, 93rd overall, and they chose their first defenseman: Erik Gustafsson. The Swede is already 20 years old, was unranked and is 176 pounds. Hard to believe that they selected him when there was a Top 10 goalie available (Marek Mazanec) and many other higer-ranked players left. The Oilers need goalies and did not select one in this draft? All said, Gustafsson is a huge gamble and even if he makes the NHL you have to think: “What would have been if they had selected Mazanec or one of the other high-ranked players that were left?” In two or three years we will be able to see the Oilers mistakes in this draft.

The Oilers then selected Joey Laleggia in Round 5. He was unranked and is a small defenseman, although he has a lot of offensive talent and could be another Kris Letang—or, he could be intimidated and pounded at the NHL level. The Oilers are such a small team as it is and already gambled too much with three previous picks so it is hard to back them on selecting Laleggia. However, Laleggia is friends with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who believes that Laleggia is NHL-caliber. Let’s hope so! I don’t mind gambling on Laleggia because he has a lot of skill, but if you plan on taking him then make higher percentage picks on your other selections.  

The Oilers final pick was in Round 6 and they chose 219 pound John McCarron. The Oilers need size up front but Marek Mazanec was still available to be had so the Oilers made another mistake in my opinion. Above all things you need goaltending depth because it simply is the most important position in hockey. Due to the Oilers great need for goalies, they should have selected at least two in this draft and maybe three.

All said, this was a draft in which the Oilers could have and should have done a lot better, starting with trading the number one pick along with an injury problem player for someone like goalie Robin Lehner and another player or pick. Additionally, the Oilers took too many gambles in this draft since high-ranked players including goalies were available to them. Lowe and Tambellini have had the first pick three years in a row and still have not been able to fill the positions on the team that need to be filled. And, in trades they have hurt the team more than helped it. Is that what you call rebuilding?

Too bad that the Oilers extended Tambellini. What a celebration it will be for Oiler fans when Tambellini is finally ousted as GM. I would get rid of Kevin Lowe despite the fact that he was a great player for the Oilers. Obviously, some great players are not skilled in managing a team or being President of a team. Yzerman is even worse than Lowe.
  
TJ Stanley

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Penguins Trade Jordan Staal to Hurricanes for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the 8th Pick in this Year’s Entry Draft (and the Pens chose Derrick Pouliot)

During the days prior to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Pens General Manager Ray Shero offered Jordan Staal a 10-year contract. Staal, who has one year left in his contract before becoming an UFA, turned-down the deal and said that he wanted to wait. The unwillingness to negotiate by Staal, coupled with the fact that Shero knew that Staal was hoping one day to play on the same team as his brother Eric, indicated to Shero that the best move was to trade Staal as soon as possible (and by the Entry Draft if possible) so that he could get a far better return. Staal had been the best Penguin in the playoffs and also had his most productive season ever, and therefore his value was sky high. It was certainly tough for Shero to lose a player who appears to have reached elite status, but on a business level the trade had to happen. Shero first shopped Staal around to some other teams besides Carolina (out of bitterness or for leverage, or maybe a combination of both); and, then he talked to the Hurricanes, Jim Rutherford, and they managed to bang-out a deal just 15 minutes prior to the start of the Entry Draft. For the Hurricanes, obtaining Jordan Staal was a HUGE windfall as long as Staal decides that he truly wants to be in Carolina after all. He was married on the same day as the trade so I am sure that he and his wife will be doing some planning. If I was in his position, I would go ahead and sign a long-term deal and then get settled in Carolina as soon as possible.

Okay, let’s talk about the details of the trade and how it will affect both teams.

PENGUINS
In return for Jordan Staal, the Pens obtained Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the 8th Pick in this Year’s Entry Draft (and the Pens chose Derrick Pouliot). Like Staal, Brandon Sutter is 23 years old, and also like Staal, he is an excellent defensive forward. Sutter can kill penalties, had three shorthanded goals last year, is a great shot-blocker, and his plus-minus was the best on the Hurricanes in 2010-11 (plus-13). Sutter is also a great value at 2 million dollars a year until 2013-14, at which time he will be a RFA—so the Pens will be able to keep him. In the deal, the Pens also obtained defenseman Brian Dumoulin. Carolina drafted Dumoulin 51st overall in the 2009 Entry Draft and he has played the last two years for the Boston College Eagles. He is a solid defenseman who can put some points on the board as well as defend in his own end. The third part of the package for the Pens was the 8th pick in this year’s Entry Draft, and they chose defenseman Derrick Pouliot. Pouliot has spent the last three years in the WHL with Portland and has improved significantly each year. He is already a talented skater and had 59 points last year. Shero is likely hoping that he will develop into another Kris Letang, and that is very possible.

Trade Result
I believe that Brandon Sutter is going to be able to step-up and fill a good chunk of the gap left by Jordan Staal. Both of the young defensemen look very promising and could be solid NHL players. Therefore, Shero did extremely well in this trade (including saving a lot of money) considering the position that he was in. Now it is up to the players to make him look even better.

HURRICANES
In Jordan Staal, the Hurricanes will be getting the Pens best performer in the 2012 playoffs. In six playoff games, Stall had six goals and three assists for a team-leading nine points, and he was plus-2. Staal is improving every year (25 goals and 25 assists in 2011-12) and will turn 24 just before the start of the 2012-13 season. He is 6' 4'' and 220 lbs and one of the best two-way players in the league. In my opinion, he is a greater asset than his brother Eric, who is talented offensively but who needs more work on the defensive part of the game (stats confirming that in a moment).  

Of course, the Hurricanes are going to have to dig deep into their bank account if they want to sign Jordan Staal to a long-term deal. It would likely be a seven year deal worth 50 to 56 million. Eric Staal has a cap hit of a whopping 8.25 million a year until 2015-16 at which time he will be an UFA (and 31 years old). He is making a lot more than he is worth, and especially when you consider the fact that his plus-minus this past year was the worst on the Hurricanes at minus-20! And, in 2010-11 he was minus-10. On the other hand, Jordan Staal is a consistent plus player besides the 2007-08 campaign (2006-07 plus-16, 2007-08 minus-5, 2008-09 plus-5, 2009-10 plus-19, 2010-11 plus-7, 2011-12 plus-11). It is true that the team that one is on makes some difference, however, great players shape their own destiny and also make their teammates better so I never give too much praise for “superstars” who have minus figures—never!     

Trade Result
The Hurricanes made the right decision in going for Staal but everything depends on whether they can lock him in long-term. He will bring the fans into the building and give the Hurricanes the chance to win one or more Stanley Cups to add to the one they won in 2006. By the way, Eric Staal was minus-8 that year which was second worse on the team for plus-minus. I predict that the Hurricanes will make the playoffs this coming year, and I will extend the prediction to include how they fair in the playoffs later on.  

Same Line?
There is talk that the Hurricanes should play Jordan and Eric on the same line. I disagree with this strategy except for having them both on the power-play, at least sometimes (in crucial situations). Most of the time, I would divide the two forces and have two tough lines that other teams have to defend against. I would have Jordan Staal on the first line and Eric on the second. This should reduce the number of goals scored while Eric is on the ice.

Third Staal?
A third Staal, Jared, is in the Hurricane system but he apparently needs a lot of improvement with his skating and overall skills. If he works hard enough he can earn a chance to play in the NHL with his brothers. He is 21 years old so he still has some time to develop.

The fourth brother, Marc, is a defenseman with the Rangers, of course. Eric hit him hard back in a game on Feb. 22, 2011 and Marc suffered a concussion and missed almost a full year. As you know, Marc returned to play in the 2012 playoffs. Regarding the hit, Marc was trying to gain control of the puck along the boards in his own end and he lowered his head and kept it down too long and Eric nailed him. Marc was in a compromised position and Eric should have taken something off the hit but he didn’t. You can view the hit by clicking the following link.

If you want to return to my site, please click the back arrow in your browser after watching.


TJ Stanley

Friday, June 22, 2012

2012 NHL Award Winners and Voting Totals – And my Comments and Picks

Art Ross Trophy – Player with the Most Points in the Season

1. Evgeni Malkin – 109
2. Steven Stamkos – 97
3. Claude Giroux – 93
4. Jason Spezza – 84
5. Ilya Kovalchuk – 83

Maurice Richard Trophy – Most Goals in the Season

1. Steven Stamkos – 60
2. Evgeni Malkin – 50   
3. Marian Gaborik – 41
4. James Neal – 40
5. Alex Ovechkin - 38

Ted Lindsey Award – Best Player in the League as Voted by Fellow Players

Evgeni Malkin

Malkin had a great year but too bad he took his foot off the gas at the end, and it was a shame that his play in the playoffs wasn’t near as spectacular. In the playoffs he admitted that he was really nervous, but he needed to put that away mentally and just work harder. When Crosby first returned to the line-up, Malkin played well but then I believe he got caught-up with the media hype about Crosby returning and people saying that Crosby was the best in the world. In fact, Malkin had previously convinced himself that Crosby was the best in the world and was stating that to media. In my opinion, Malkin needs to believe that he is the best, set some goals, and work as hard as he can to achieve them.

Hart Trophy – Player Deemed Most Valuable to His Team in the Regular Season – Poll Taken by Members of the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association in all NHL Cities at End of the Regular Season

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
1. Evgeni Malkin, PIT 1,473 (144-4-1-0-0)
2. Steven Stamkos, T.B. 598 (1-54-24-24-18)
3. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR 556 (3-35-36-28-17)
4. Claude Giroux, PHI 458 (0-25-34-28-29)
5. Jonathan Quick,
L.A. 357 (1-22-23-19-21)
6. Jason Spezza, OTT 134 (0-2-14-11-17)
7. Pekka Rinne, NSH 64 (0-4-2-6-8)
8. Erik Karlsson, OTT 52 (0-0-4-7-11)
9. Henrik Sedin, VAN 40 (0-2-2-5-1)
10.
Ilya Kovalchuk, N.J. 38 (0-1-2-5-6)
11. Mike Smith, PHX 16 (0-0-0-4-4)
12. Zdeno Chara, BOS 15 (0-0-1-3-1)
Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
13. Shea Weber, NSH 12 (0-0-1-2-1)
14. Pavel Datsyuk, DET 11 (0-0-1-1-3)
15. Brian Elliott, STL 10 (0-0-1-1-2)
16. Ray Whitney, PHX 8 (0-0-1-1-0)
17. Marian Gaborik, NYR 8 (0-0-1-0-3)
18. Patrice Bergeron, BOS 7 (0-0-0-2-1)
19. David Backes, STL 6 (0-0-1-0-1)
20. Brian Campbell,
FLA 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
Radim Vrbata, PHX 3 (0-0-0-1-0)
22. Jamie Benn, DAL 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
James Neal, PIT 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
24. Marian Hossa, CHI 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

Hard to argue too much over the top three, and Malkin’s win, but I would have had Quick in fourth and Mike Smith in fifth. The Hart for the player most valuable to his team and Smith had a .930 Save Percentage, 8 big shutouts, a 2.21 GAA and 38 wins. He made Coyote defensemen look better than they are. I can’t help but say that Steve Yzerman (VP and GM of the Lightning) let Smith go for nothing and the Coyotes were fortunate to sign him. How long did Yzerman think 42 year old Roloson would play? Hard to believe!

Vezina Trophy – Best Goaltender in the League – Voted on by NHL General Managers

Pts. 1st-2nd-3rd
1. Henrik Lundqvist, NYR 120 (
17-11-2)
2. Jonathan Quick,
L.A. 63 (6-9-6)
3. Pekka Rinne, NSH 42 (
4-4-10)
4. Mike Smith, PHX 35 (
2-5-10)
5. Brian Elliott, STL 5 (1-0-0)
6. Jaroslav Halak, STL 3 (0-1-0)
7. Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT 1 (0-0-1)
Miikka Kiprusoff, CGY 1 (0-0-1)

Lundqvist had his best year ever and in my opinion he just squeaks-out the win over Quick considering the regular season. Marc-Andre Fleury does not belong among the top goalies, even when we solely consider his play in the regular season (which the Vezina is for). Fleury is overrated and much of his success is due to the great team in front of him. This past year was one of his best years and he still did not make my Top 20 Goalies for 2012. In the 2011-2012 season his Save Percentage was .913, his GAA was 2.36, he had 42 wins (thanks to the team in front of him) and only three shutouts. When a goalie is on a great team and only gets three or four shutouts you know that he is letting in some easy goals. Roberto Luongo is the same, always just three or four shutouts in a year and overrated. Goalies better than Fleury this past year were: Lundqvist, Quick, Rask, Rinne, Smith, Elliott, Halak, Schneider, Thomas, Niemi, Howard, Kiprusoff, Ward, Lehtonen, Miller, and Luongo. Lehner (.935), Holtby (.922), Hedberg (.918) and Harding (.917) were also easily better than Fleury but did not get to see much ice time. That puts Fleury at 21st in the league at best. Of course, he was utterly brutal in the playoffs and so bad that he made Bryzgalov look “okay” at times.

William Jennings Trophy – Goalie Duo with Fewest Goals Against (25 game minimum each)

Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak

Elliott and Halak were absolutely dynamite this year! If they can come close to that next year you can expect the Blues to battle for first again.

Norris Trophy – Most Valuable Defenseman During the Regular Season – Poll Taken by Members of the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association

Pts. 1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th
1. Erik Karlsson, OTT 1,069 (66-31-32-9-5)
2. Shea Weber, NSH 1,057 (49-54-32-9-2)
3. Zdeno Chara, BOS 950 (32-48-47-19-2)
4. Alex Pietrangelo, STL 381 (0-7-20-68-28)
5. Nicklas Lidstrom, DET 132 (0-5-4-16-29)
6. Dan Girardi, NYR 70 (2-0-4-6-12)
7. Brian Campbell,
FLA 58 (0-2-2-6-16)
8. Ryan Suter, NSH 57 (0-1-3-5-20)
9. Kris Letang, PIT 40 (0-0-4-3-11)
10. Dan Hamhuis, VAN 21 (0-1-0-3-5)
Pts. 1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th
11. Ryan McDonagh, NYR 13 (0-0-1-2-2)
12. Michael Del Zotto, NYR 5 (0-0-0-1-2)
13. Duncan Keith, CHI 4 (0-0-0-1-1)
Keith Yandle, PHX 4 (0-0-0-1-1)
15. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG 4 (0-0-0-0-4)
Alexander Edler, VAN 4 (0-0-0-0-4)
17. Dan Boyle, S.J. 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
18. Kevin Bieksa, VAN 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Willie Mitchell,
L.A. 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Kevin Shattenkirk, STL 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

Honestly, I am glad that Karlsson beat Shea Weber, and for four reasons:

First, because Karlsson had a great season and was, without question, the spark that turned the Senators around this season.

Second, because I do not like Senator GM Bryan Murray (particularly because he has been brutally unfair to goalie Robin Lehner) and neither do I care for coach Paul MacLean who is overrated and who played his part in shafting Lehner.

Third, because I really hated Weber’s dirty play against Henrik Zetterberg in the playoffs (grabbing Zetterberg behind the head and smashing his face into the glass).

Fourth, Weber was not able to lead his team (which was stronger than last year due to trades) past the Coyotes; while, Karlsson was “overcome” in the playoffs by the officials who purposely allowed the Rangers to punch him in the face repeatedly and commit many other infractions against him. This was easily the dirtiest series in the entire playoffs due to “lack of officiating.” I don’t care if an American or Canadian team wins, I just want an “even playing field” so that the most deserving team has control over their own destiny—rather than officials preventing a victory. The Senators were the better team and proved that by having the better record over the Rangers in the regular season.

I wouldn’t change the order too much for the top ten players in the poll. There is one player who does not belong in the Top 20, and who is not even in the Top 100 defenseman in the league, and that is Dustin Byfuglien. From where I am standing, his offensive contributions are entirely overshadowed by his poor defensive play. He cost the Jets a pivotal game in their quest to make the playoffs this year, and it took the steam out of the team. Not only does Byfuglien have major issues in the plus-minus department (as compared to his teammates), but his dedication and effort have been brought into question as well. He was minus-8 this past year which was one of the worst on the Jets. The year he won the Cup with the Blackhawks he was one of the only two players in minus figures in the regular season, and in fact his plus-minus was the worst on the team at minus-7. In comparison, Duncan Keith was plus-21 and had 35 more points than Byfuglien, Brian Campbell was plus-18 and Seabrook was plus-20. In the playoffs, Byfuglien almost matched Keith in points but he still had the worst plus-minus on the team at minus-4. You really can’t excuse Byfuglien’s defensive problems because he has been a liability every year. Yet, incredibly, he was rewarded with a five-year deal worth 26 million (which began this past year). Nice gift! Byfuglien is listed at 265 pounds, and what he really needs is less fat in his diet and intensive training, particularly work on his skating which is not at the NHL level. He could easily drop 15 pounds and be better for it. Phaneuf for the Leafs is another defenseman who gets points but is brutal defensively (not fast enough to defend) and grossly overpaid (cap hit of $6 500 000).

In getting back to the poll, for Duncan Keith’s cheap shot on Daniel Sedin (which cost the Canucks the series against the Kings), Keith should not have even been placed as an option on the poll. Daniel Sedin is the best player on the Canucks and he missed the last part of the season and did not return until the Kings had the Canucks down 3-0 in the series.

Lady Byng Trophy – Player who Displays the Best Skill Combined with Sportsmanship in the Regular Season – Poll Taken by Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association

 Pts. 1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th
1. Brian Campbell,
FLA 582 (31-22-13-15-8)
2. Jordan Eberle, EDM 518 (18-23-23-17-11)
3. Matt Moulson, NYI 517 (13-28-26-15-16)
4. Loui Eriksson, DAL 448 (21-12-20-13-15)
5. Martin St. Louis, T.B. 284 (6-14-14-14-14)
6. Nicklas Lidstrom, DET 247 (18-5-3-4-5)
7.
Patrik Elias, N.J. 162 (3-5-9-13-13)
8. Jason Pominville, BUF 161 (2-8-5-16-12)
9. Pavel Datsyuk, DET 137 (3-7-7-5-8)
10. Claude Giroux, PHI 101 (6-3-3-1-2)
Pts. 1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th
11. Marian Hossa, CHI 95 (3-4-4-4-5)
12. Teemu Selanne, ANA 79 (6-2-1-0-0)
13. Patrice Bergeron, BOS 61 (4-0-3-2-0)
14. Daniel Alfredsson, OTT 46 (1-2-2-2-6)
15. Ray Whitney, PHX 45 (4-0-0-1-2)
16. Phil Kessel, TOR 41 (0-3-0-4-8)
17. John Tavares, NYI 35 (0-2-3-2-0)
18. Kyle Wellwood, WPG 34 (2-1-1-0-2)
19. Anze Kopitar,
L.A. 33 (1-1-1-3-2)
20. Frans Nielsen, NYI 28 (1-1-1-2-0)

Brain Campbell was a deserving winner of the Lady Byng this year. He only had three minor penalties all year due to his skating ability and discipline. Eberle is a great competitor who had a huge year, and he wasn’t that far behind Campbell in the poll.

Claude Giroux isn’t as clean of a player as he has promoted himself to be. He had 29 penalty minutes in the regular season as compared to Campbell and Moulson who only had 6 minutes each, while Eberle had 10, Erickson had 12 and Datsyuk 14. I know this is a regular season trophy award, but I want to say that Giroux was involved in a couple instances of dirty play in the playoffs (and suspended) and I also did not like his taunting of two young lady fans in Pittsburgh—he faked to toss them a souvenir puck and held on to it himself! Is that what a grown man who is an NHL star does? Grow-up Claude!

Selke Trophy – Best Defensive Forward – Poll Taken by Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
1. Patrice Bergeron
, BOS
1,312 (106-30-6-4-0)
2. David Backes, STL 698 (24-46-15-17-10)
3. Pavel Datsyuk, DET 553 (8-30-38-21-10)
4. Ryan Callahan, NYR 326 (6-11-22-22-13)
5. Ryan Kesler, VAN 152 (1-3-14-13-12)
6. Jonathan Toews, CHI 117 (1-2-8-13-14)
7. Mike Fisher, NSH 72 (0-3-6-6-3)
8. Jordan Staal, PIT 67 (0-1-6-7-9)
9. Anze Kopitar,
L.A. 62 (0-3-4-4-9)
10. Patrick Sharp, CHI 52 (0-2-5-4-1)
Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
11. Joe Pavelski, S.J. 44 (0-3-0-5-8)
12. Ray Whitney, PHX 36 (0-4-1-1-0)
13. Pascal Dupuis, PIT 28 (1-0-2-2-2)
14. Ryan O'Reilly,
COL 27 (0-1-1-3-6)
15. Tomas Plekanec, MTL 25 (0-1-3-1-0)
16. Chris Kelly, BOS 23 (0-1-1-3-2)
17. Marian Hossa, CHI 23 (0-0-2-2-7)
18. Zach Parise, N.J. 18 (0-1-1-2-0)
19.
Patrik Elias, N.J. 15 (0-0-0-5-0)
20. Maxime Talbot, PHI 13 (1-0-0-1-0)

Bergeron definitely deserved to win the Selke. He had 22 goals and 42 assists for 64 points, was plus-36 (best in the league), had five power-play goals, 2 short-handed goals and 3 game-winning goals, was second in the league in face-off percentage (59.3), and he only took 20 minutes in penalties. By the way, Jonathan Toews was first in face-off percentage with 59.4. 

Calder Trophy - Rookie of the Year – Poll Taken by Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd-4th-5th)
1. Gabriel Landeskog,
COL
1,383 (116-29-4-0-0)
2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
, EDM 1,001
(26-83-22-16-2)
3. Adam Henrique, N.J. 620 (3-19-59-50-12)
4. Matt Read, PHI 546 (3-17-45-51-19)
5. Carl Hagelin, NYR 88 (0-0-5-9-36)
6. Jake Gardiner, TOR 70 (0-0-4-8-26)
7. Justin Faulk, CAR 62 (0-1-4-6-17)
8. Cody Hodgson, BUF 49 (0-0-2-7-18)
9. Sean Couturier, PHI 37 (1-0-3-1-9)
10. Slava Voynov,
L.A. 10 (0-0-1-1-2)
11. Jared Cowen, OTT 4 (0-0-0-0-4)
12. Marc-Andre Gragnani, VAN 1
(0-0-0-0-1)
Adam Larsson, N.J. 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Andrew Shaw, CHI 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Craig Smith, NSH 1 (0-0-0-0-1)

Landeskog was a deserving winner of the Calder. Nugent-Hopkins was injured and I have a bad feeling that this skinny guy is going to have a long history of injuries. Let’s hope not.

Conn Smythe Trophy – Most Valuable Player in the Playoffs – Voted on by Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association

Jonathan Quick

Quick was unquestionably the MVP of the playoffs. What a great performance by him!

Messier Leadership Award – Best Team Leader on and off the Ice for the Regular Season – Chosen by Mark Messier Himself

Shane Doan

Good choice by Messier. I like Doan because he has humility. On more than one occasion, Doan has stated that the Coyotes don’t have any superstars but they are a good group of guys who work hard together.

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy – Player who Shows the Most Perseverance, Sportsmanship and Dedication – Poll Taken by Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association

Max Pacioretty

Other Two Finalists: Daniel Alfredsson and Joffrey Lupul.

For Pacioretty, it was a heck of a comeback from the neck fracture after Chara’s purposeful attempt to injure him. Not only was it a comeback but his play improved tremendously! By the way, I first thought that Chara did not attempt to injure Pacioretty but then I saw a totally different angle much later and I changed my mind.

King Clancy Trophy – Humanitarian Contribution to Hockey – Winner Chosen by Select Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and the NHL Broadcasters’ Asscociation

Daniel Alfredsson

Alfie would have been my choice too. He is an exceptional person and a great player.

NHL Foundation Award – Player Who Applies the Core Values of Hockey (Commitment, Perseverance and Teamwork) to Enrich the Lives of People in his Community – Winner Chosen by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and other NHL executives

Mike Fisher

Other Two Finalists: John-Michael Liles and Matt Moulson

This is similar to the King Clancy Trophy, and I guess the reason for it is so that Bettman can express his pride by being directly involved.

Jack Adams Award - Coach of the Year – Poll Taken by Members of the NHL Broadcasters’ Association

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd)
1. Ken Hitchcock, STL 355 (63-11-7)
2. John Tortorella, NYR 108 (
5-23-14
)
3. Paul MacLean, OTT 89
(
4-19-12)
4. Kevin Dineen,
FLA 82 (5-14-15)
5. Barry Trotz, NSH 39 (
3-5-9)
6. Dan Bylsma, PIT 25 (
2-3-6)
7. Dave Tippett, PHX 22 (0-4-10)
8. Alain Vigneault, VAN 12 (0-3-3)
9. Peter DeBoer, N.J. 4 (0-0-4)
10. Mike Babcock, DET 1 (0-0-1)
Peter Laviolette, PHI 1 (0-0-1)

Hitchcock was easily my first choice but my other choices would have been in different order than the NHL Broadcasters voted. I would have had Hitchcock and then Tippett, Dineen, and DeBoer for my first four.   

MacLean did not belong that high in my opinion, and Tortorella shouldn’t have even been on the poll at all! Why?

First, in December, Tortorella purposely started a game in New Jersey with his fighters and subsequently started a brawl. This in turn led to retaliation by Deboer and more brawls. Nobody does what Tortorella did. It was breaking the code.

Second, the NHL had to fine Tortorella on two occasions for critical remarks about the league’s honestly. I can bash the league as a writer but he does not have enough control and intelligence to keep his mouth shut and save $20 000.

Third, should “cry babies” like Tortorella be considered as top coaches in the NHL? Tortorella has to make all kinds of faces and cry about every little thing that goes against his team, and you know that he was probably crying for cookies and pop when he was a boy.

General Manager of the Year - Voted on by GM’s, NHL executives, and Print and Broadcast Media

Pts. (1st-2nd-3rd)
1. Doug Armstrong, STL 119 (
16-11-6
)
2. Dale Tallon,
FLA 88 (10-11-5
)
3. David Poile, NSH 62 (
11-1-4
)
4. Glen Sather, NYR 17 (
1-2-6
)
5. Paul Holmgren, PHI 17 (0-4-5)

6. Bryan Murray, OTT 10 (0-2-4)
7. Don Maloney, PHX 9 (0-2-3)
8. Ken Holland, DET 8 (0-2-2)
9. Mike Gillis, VAN 7 (0-2-1)
10. Stan Bowman, CHI 5 (1-0-0)
11. Greg Sherman,
COL 3 (0-1-0)
12. Lou Lamoriello, N.J. 1 (0-0-1)
Ray Shero, PIT 1 (0-0-1)

Armstrong deserved the win in my opinion because it was a huge turnaround for the Blues this year. Besides Armstrong, the others who were a big benefit to their organizations were Tallon, Maloney, Lamoriello, Sather and Shero.

Holmgren should not be among the top GMs because he was a fool to sign Bryzgalov to a 9 year deal worth a whopping 51 million (after Bryzgalov had totally choked in the playoffs the previous year when he was with the Coyotes). Bryzgalov was brutal this year for most of the season and then bombed again in the playoffs along with Pen’s Marc-Andre Fleury. The Canucks should have unloaded Luongo last year because the Flyers would have taken him and the Canucks would have received decent return. Gillis was not smart enough to do it. I wonder how much he is making?

TJ Stanley


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Stoll’s Hit on Gionta — Bernier’s Hit on Scuderi — Kings Win Cup with Huge Help from Officials!

It is too bad that Game 6 between the Devils and Kings was decided by the officials when they purposely chose to favor the Kings before the game started and carried-out their intentions on the ice.

I hate corruption and just want to see a fairly officiated game so that the best team has a better chance of winning. The officials gave the Kings the first power-play of the game when Kopitar went down in going to the net. Okay, everyone knew that the Kings were almost surely going to get the first power-play so the sooner the better. But, then the entire game was decided at about the 10 minute mark of the first period when the officials totally ignored the brutal hit from behind on Gionta by Jarret Stoll. You can view the hit in the video below (which also has the Bernier hit on Scuderi). How could the officials possibly ignore Stoll’s from-behind boarding hit on Gionta? Not long after Gionta was boarded, Bernier followed Scuderi into the Kings end and boarded him. Bernier deserved a boarding penalty, no doubt; but, it would never have happened if the officials would have been honest and blown the whistle and called the penalty against Stoll! Furthermore, after Scuderi was hit and lying on the ice he lifted his head to see if a penalty was being called and then he put his head back on the ice and pretended that he was seriously injured—he was bleeding due to a nick on his nose but it was a good acting job for sure! Scuderi proved that he was acting and not seriously injured because he returned to the game and played until the end; and, to top it off, in an interview with Scott Oake after the game he indicated that he had not been significantly injured and was fine after the hit. Oake should have then asked him why he went forth to pretend that he was seriously hurt? By the way, I can’t stand Scott Oake because the guy purposely embarrasses every guest that he has on his “After Hours” spot at the end of HNIC every week. I guess people as immature as Scott Oake enjoy that kind of school-boy teasing, but it turns my stomach.

Anyway, the officials gave Bernier a 5 minute major and game misconduct and Kings scored three huge goals—which deflated the Devils and pretty much ended the game. So, the officials purposely did not call a boarding penalty against Stoll (on his hit from behind on Gionta) and then handed-out a 5 minute boarding penalty and game misconduct to Bernier for his boarding penalty on a guy who pretended to be seriously injured. I hate to see the Stanley Cup decided by biased, corrupt officials (and are they influenced by anyone?). At one point in the game, NHL commentator Craig Simpson could not help but say it had been a terrible night for the “black and white,” and he clarified his statement so that everyone knew that he was talking about the officials. On the other hand, Don Cherry wanted to protect the officials and the league by pretending that the hit on Gionta was nothing, and shame on Cherry for his standpoint.

Honestly, this type of obvious corruption by officials makes me want to give up watching hockey. In a Stanley Cup Final game the officials should not favor any team, but rather, show some integrity and call it like it is!

I have replaced the embedded video with the following link to help speed-up loading of other videos on my site. Click the link below to watch the video on Youtube, and then be sure to click the back arrow in your browser to return to this article and my site.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbmyiNTUEi4

Brodeur was not sharp in this game and Kovalchuk played brutally all six games (proving that he is another overpaid offensive-minded player), but the Devils had still had enough depth to have a good shot at winning the Cup if the officiating would have been unbiased in Game 6. The Kings are a bigger team and have more raw talent but the Devils had more heart and gave the Kings a good battle. The first two games went to overtime and the Devils lost those due to too many defensive collapses. The Devils beat themselves in those games and the officials beat the Devils in Game 6. Yes, I give the Kings credit for their diligent forechecking and skill.

I also want to mention that the officials were totally corrupt in the Senators – Rangers series. They allowed the Rangers to play their dirty style of game so that they would have a better chance of winning. The Senators were easily the best of the two teams when they played each other in the regular season, and they would have beat the Rangers in the playoffs if the NHL did not allow Tortorella to carry out his plan to attack Eric Karlsson at every opportunity! Alfredsson was also attacked and suffered a concussion. The attacks on Eric Karlsson were so profuse it was hard to believe, and this series was the easily the dirtiest in the entire playoffs. The fact is that the NHL and officials allowed the Rangers to play dirty because they wanted the Rangers to win as it would result in more money for the league.

To conclude, the NHL attempted to shape a Kings – Ranger Final but they were unsuccessful at accomplishing the task. The officials made sure that the Kings were going to have a big advantage to win Game 6 against the Devils, and the Kings indeed took the opportunities given to them by the officials and are now the 2012 Stanley Cup Champions—congratulations to a hard-working team. When the King players watch the game themselves they will feel fortunate that the officials did not call Stoll’s boarding penalty on Gionta—it was a game-breaker!

TJ Stanley