blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: April 2009

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ovechkin Comes Alive At the Booth

One point off the playoff lead, third in hits (22), and leading in shots (38) and ice time among forwards (23:40), the regular season 56 goal sniper has thus far been held to a pair. Whatever he's lacking in goal quantity, however, is more than being made up for with quality.

In last night's Game 5 rout of the Rangers, OV notched the most spectacular goal of this year's young playoffs. Individuals undressed include Derek Morris, Chris Drury, Aaron Voros, and Henrik Lundqvist. On a global level, that's a Russian beating out two Canadians, an American, and a Swede. Score the 114 foot rush a 53, 23, 34, 30 goal.

All hail the king. The beast is back.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

2009 Stanley Cup Rings On the Roster

While exceptional goaltending and team play wins Cups, a few rings on the roster certainly doesn't hurt. In search of this intangible asset, GMs place a premium on loading the locker room with former winners to create a calm and cool climate come playoff time.

With that in mind, here's a list of Stanley Cup ring holders on each team heading into this year's post season.

DET: 44 (Draper 4, Holmstrom 4, Lidstrom 4, Maltby 4, McCarty 4, Chelios 3, Osgood 3, Rafalski 3, Datsyuk 2, Cleary, Downey, Filppula, Franzen, Helm, Hudler, Kopecky, Kronwall, Lebda, Lilja, Samuelsson, Stuart, Zetterberg)
NJD: 21 (Brodeur 3, Elias 3, Shanahan 3, Holik 2, Langenbrunner 2, Madden 2, Pandolfo 2, White 2, Gionta, Rolston, Rupp)
ANA: 16 (S. Niedermayer 4, Beauchemin, Carter, Getzlaf, Giguere, Hedican, Perry, Pronger, Marchant, Miller, Parros, R. Niedermayer, Selanne)
CAR: 10 (Babchuk, Brind'Amour, Cole, Cullen, Kaberle, LaRose, E. Staal, Wallin, Ward, Whitney)
SJS: 9 (Lemieux 4, Blake, Boyle, Huskins, Lukowich, Moen)
BOS: 8 (Ward 3, Recchi 2, Yelle 2, S. Thornton)
MTL: 8 (Dandenault 3, Brisebois, Kovalev, Schneider, Tanguay)
PIT: 5 (Adams, Fedotenko, Guerin, Kunitz, Sykora)
CHI: 3 (Khabibulin, Ladd, Pahlsson)
CLB: 3 (Commodore, Modin, Williams)
NYR: 3 (Gomez 2, Drury)
STL: 3 (Hinote, Legacy, McDonald)
WAS: 3 (Fedorov 3)
CGY: 2 (Roy, Sarich)
PHI: 1 (Knuble)
VAN: 0
Should San Jose advance over Anaheim, the ringless Canucks will meet the 44 ring Red Wings. A David versus Goliath of NHL experience.

How did that story end again?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Roger Millions' Windy City Cocksucker

Yesterday Sportnet's Roger Millions 'C' bombed the sidewalk outside the United Center before Game 1 of the playoffs after he muffed the pronunciation of Flames' defenceman Cory Sarich.

Welcome to the playoffs folks. Gone are the regular season's darns and craps. It's time to raise your game and Millions has answered the bell early. Let's hope he didn't blow his load on the first report.

NHL Stanley Cup Odds - 2009 Best Bets

With the playoffs underway and the pundits predicting, it's time to see who the bookmakers like this year. The chart below reflects the season opening and current Vegas odds on each team's likelihood to pull in the big prize.

Team'''''''''''Open''''''''''Current
SJS''''''''''''''''''10/1''''''''''''''''''4/1
DET''''''''''''''''''5/1'''''''''''''''''''9/2
BOS''''''''''''''''30/1''''''''''''''''''5/1
WAS'''''''''''''''18/1''''''''''''''''''6/1
NJD''''''''''''''''20/1''''''''''''''''''8/1
PIT''''''''''''''''''11/2'''''''''''''''''''9/1
VAN'''''''''''''''30/1'''''''''''''''''10/1
CHI'''''''''''''''''40/1'''''''''''''''''11/1
CAR''''''''''''''''22/1'''''''''''''''''13/1
PHI''''''''''''''''''15/1'''''''''''''''''13/1
CGY''''''''''''''''30/1'''''''''''''''''15/1
NYR''''''''''''''''15/1''''''''''''''''''18/1
STL'''''''''''''''''60/1'''''''''''''''''30/1
ANA''''''''''''''''12/1'''''''''''''''''35/1
MTL''''''''''''''''10/1'''''''''''''''''35/1
CLB''''''''''''''''''75/1'''''''''''''''''40/1

Historically, Presidents' Trophy recipients and division winners hoist while wildcards wither. With that in mind, the safe money is on San Jose (4/1) with reasonable longshots being New Jersey in the East (9/1) and Vancouver in the West (10/1). Of course, all of these picks were a significantly better buy in October at 10/1, 20/1, and 30/1, respectively.

I wish I knew then what I know now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

2009 NHL Draft Lottery Results

Moments ago the 2009 NHL Draft lottery was conducted in the league's New York City offices. This year's number one overall pick was awarded to Garth Snow's New York Islanders. The Islanders have drafted number one overall three other times in franchise history selecting Billy Harris (1972), Denis Potvin (1973), and Rick DiPietro (2000).

The lottery, instituted prior to the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, was designed to guard against teams throwing games down the stretch to secure draft positions. The weighted system affords weaker teams a greater likelihood of obtaining higher draft picks while allowing the possibility of a team advancing up to four spots in the selection order and falling only one. Only the league's five worst teams are eligible to win the first overall pick with the last place team having a 48.2% chance at the prize.

For the 7th time in 14 such weighted lotteries the team with the greatest percentage chance of collecting the top pick did just that. In fact no team advanced or receded in this year's draw.

1. NYI : 25.0%
2. TBL: 18.8%
3. COL: 14.2%
4. ATL: 10.7%
5. LAK: 8.1%
6. PHO: 6.2%
7. TOR: 4.7%
8. DAL: 3.6%
9. OTT: 2.7%
10. EDM: 2.1%
11. NSH: 1.5%
12. MIN: 1.1%
13. BUF: 0.8%
14. FLA: 0.5%

The remaining draft picks are ordered at the end of the playoffs. The Stanley Cup champion and runner up pick 30th and 29th respectively with the conference finalists, division winners, and wildcards teams positioned according to the relative strength of their regular season record among their subgroup.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Florida Flounders - Southeast Sends Two

Thick as thieves in sixth place at the March 4th trade deadline, Florida clung to prized blueliner J. Bo to solidify their Eastern Conference standing. Last night the experiment ended when the Rangers recorded a 2-1 win over the Flyers.

Florida's flub stretched their playoff-less streak to eight seasons. Worse still, it sunk the Southeast's chances of repeating a three team post season. Only six times (1996, 2000, 2001, 2006, 2007, 2009) in the past 15 seasons has the lowly south sent more than one team, managing three teams once (1996) with near misses in 2000 and 2009.

Year: Playoffs
2009: WAS, CAR
2008: WAS
2007: ATL, TBL
2006: CAR, TBL
2004: TBL
2003: TBL
2002: CAR
2001: WAS, CAR
2000: WAS, FLA
1999: CAR
1998: WAS
1997: FLA
1996: FLA, WAS, TBL
1995: WAS
1994: WAS

With Columbus clinching a franchise first playoff berth, Florida has sole possession of the NHL's longest playoff drought. You can't help but wonder if a change of climate might help their cause.

Tough sledding in the sun belt.

Friday, April 3, 2009

2009 NHL Presidential Projections

BO may have won the White House, but he'll never hoist his namesake's hardware. With five games to play, three clubs remain in contention for this year's Presidents' Trophy. Awarded annually to the team amassing the most points during the regular season, the honor carries coveted home ice advantage for the entire playoffs as well as $350,000 in cash.

As it stands San Jose (113) has a narrow lead over Detroit (110) and Boston (107). The ease of remaining schedule favors the Sharks, though the Bruins or Red Wings could sneak ahead if the bottom feeding Kings, Avalanche, and Coyotes play spoiler.

Since its inception in 1986, only Detroit has earned the award more than twice (1995, 1996, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008). While the Montreal Canadiens have finished first overall the most times (21), they've yet to etch their name into the Presidents' Trophy. In fact, a Canadian team has taken the prize only once (Ottawa 2003) in the past 18 seasons.

In the 14 seasons since the revised conference playoff format was implemented, the recipient has appeared in the finals six times, winning it five. Thus, while a Presidents' Trophy does not a Stanley Cup Champion make, it better equips a team than any other available accolade.