Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Steve Mason's Play Will Decide The Blue Jacket's Fate

Lets take a trip back in time. It is April 8th, 2009, and the Columbus Blue Jackets have, for the first time in franchise history, locked up a trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now ump to the end of the the regular season, Blue Jackets' goalie, Steve Mason, has won 33 games, 10 in shutout fashion, while posting a save percentage of .916 and holding a goals against average of 2.29. A performance that proved good enough to win Mason the Calder Trophy as the leagues top rookie.

Jumping back to the present, we know that the Blue Jackets would go on to get swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs, cutting the Jackets' playoff high short. But at that time, things seemed to be looking up for a young franchise that constantly gets buried in the tough central division.

However, in the two seasons since breaking that barrier and making the post season, the Jackets have failed to qualify for the playoffs finishing both regular seasons well outside of the playoff bubble. Whether or not the city of Columbus, Ohio will see any post season action next season will depend on one thing, the play of Mason.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ryan Miller Should Have A Lighter Work Load Next Season

In recent years, Buffalo Sabres' goaltender, Ryan Miller, has inserted himself into a group that boasts names like Roberto Luongo, Tim Thomas, and Ilya Bryzgalov, that group being the NHL's elite goaltenders. This superior play has been the factor that has held the Sabres together in many occasions over the past few seasons.

However, last season, Miller's Vezina worthy numbers from two seasons ago, dropped substantially. After finishing off the season with a 2.59 goals against average, and a save percentage of .916, Miller looked human. A factor that played a major role in the drop in Miller's performance may have been his supporting cast.

The Sabres' allowed an average of 31 shots per game, ranked 16th in blocked shots, and 19th in take-a-ways. Resulting in Miller often being relied upon on to back stop and save the Sabres'.

That should all change come time for puck drop in early October. Due to the Sabres' big spending during this year's free agency, they locked up defensive players that should provide a jump start to the Sabres' defense.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bryzgalov Will Have To Perform To Be Accepted In Philadelphia

During the off season, the Philadelphia Flyers landed arguably, the best goaltender on the market, when they signed Ilya Bryzgalov to a deal that will keep him in Philly for the next nine years.

Bryzgalov is coming from the Phoenix Coyotes, a team that has seen recent success but has continued to be in jeopardy of relocation due to their ownership problems. Along with the drastic change in temperature and scenery that comes along with a move from Arizona to Pennsylvania, Bryzgalov will see a change in the fan following in his new home.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

With Jonas Hiller's Return The Ducks Return To The Cup Contender Category

The Anaheim Ducks organization and their fan base received perhaps the best news of their off season two days ago. No it was not Teemu Selanne announcing he would return for another season in the O.C., rather it was Jonas Hiller declaring himself healthy and ready to go for next season.

A serious case of vertigo sidelined Hiller for the final two months of the 2010-2011 regular season and forced the Ducks goaltender to watch his team, which went into the playoffs as the number four seed, lose in the second round of the playoffs, from the press box.

Over the duration of Hiller's vertigo ridden last few months, doctors could not diagnose why he was stricken with the case of vertigo. However, in recent weeks Hiller has been able to train both on and off the ice, in his home country of Switzerland, with out any symptoms.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Seguin Has Earned Ice Time In Boston

After being drafted by the Boston Bruins, second overall in 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Bruins' forward Tyler Seguin did not get the amount of ice time he and most around the the league would have expected. In the 74 games he played during his rookie season, he averaged just 12:12 of ice time. Taylor Hall, the number one pick of that very same draft averaged almost 6 minutes more per game than Seguin.

Seguin's statistical output may have been an arguing point for some more ice time. In his 74 games played, he scored 11 goals and totaled 22 points. This regular season performance did not persuade Bruins' coach, Claude Julien, to give Seguin the nod for ice time in the playoffs, resulting in Seguin not playing in the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Can Lidstrom Continue To Be An Elite Defender In The NHL?

Nicklas LIdstrom, the 41 year old Swede, has been the picture of  the ideal defense man. Since coming into the league in 1991 he has played in 1,494 games, scored 253 goals and recorded 1,108 points. He has never missed the playoffs and has lifted the Stanley Cup four times.

However, at the conclusion of the Red Wings' 2010-2011 season one major question floated over the organization. Did they just witness the last time, Lidstrom would be wearing a Red Wings jersey? To the relief of the Wings' faithful, Lidstrom announced that he would in fact return for his 20th season in the NHL, when he signed a one year contract worth $6.2 million.

However, with that question answered another question rushed to the fore front. Does Lidstrom have enough left in the tank to return to the NHL and continue to be one of the leagues top defense man?  A look at the kind of season Lidstrom had last year should put that question to rest.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Evander Kane Should Flourish In Winnipeg

There is an immeasurable amount of buzz surrounding the new Winnipeg Jets, and next season, the organization's first season back in the National Hockey League  A contributing factor into the hype of Winnipeg's re-acquisition of an NHL team is the presence of young star Evander Kane.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Was Last Season The Beginning Of The End For Martin Brodeur?

Since coming into the league in the 1990 draft, future hall-of-famer, Martin Brodeur, has posted 30+ win seasons 13 times, eight of those seasons breaking the 40 win mark. He is the all time leader in wins and shutouts, has won three Stanley Cup Championships, and has made the playoffs in 15 of his 17 seasons played.

However, last season was a season that Brodeur would like to forget. He produced his first losing season of his career, going 23-26 with a save percentage of .903, and a goals against average of 2.45. Along with some of the worst numbers of his career, he missed significant time once again due to a hip injury.

Looking forward, one can only think that last season may have been the first domino to fall that could send Brodeur into retirement.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Three RDO Camp Experiments That Could Drastically Change The NHL

Next week, thirty-six of the world's top prospects will take to the ice in Etobicoke, Ontario, where they will take place in this year's Research, Development, and Orientation Camp testing possible changes to the NHL's rules. These changes could be anything from shallower nets, to no-touch icing. While these future stars test out these variations, some of the top minds of the NHL will be watching and analyzing the effects that these changes have on the game.

While some changes may not have major implications on the game, three of the variations being tested at this year's RDO camp could change the game drastically. Those changes being, all penalties would be served in their entirety, play would not be stopped on a delayed penalty until the penalized team exited the zone with possession of the puck, and the use of wireless technology to allow on ice officials to communicate during the play.

Lets look at how the game would change if these rules found their way into the NHL's every day life.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Can The Ducks Win Without Selanne?

The Anaheim Ducks find themselves in a very familiar spot this off season, waiting on a decision from veteran forward, Teemu Selanne.

Selanne's first waiting game took place at the beginning of the '07-'08 season, where he missed the first half of the season before deciding to return. After Selanne's two year contract, that he signed at the end of that season ended, the Ducks once again waited on Selanne's decision if he would return to play last season.

Selanne did decide to return and produced his best point totals of the last four seasons, recording 80 points, after netting 31 goals and adding 49 helpers. However, even with Selanne's stellar performance the Ducks find themselves waiting once again.

Selanne's point totals from last season say he has still got it, but does his body have what it takes to make its way through another 82 game grind.  Selanne is said to make a decision within the next few weeks.

But lets say the "Finnish Flash" decides to hang the skates up for good. Can the Ducks win without Selanne?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Will Vokoun Be The Capitals' Savior?

In recent history, the Washington Capitals have been a constant playoff team, winning the Southeast Division the last four seasons and placing in the top three seeds. However, with the promising seasons the Caps have produced, including a 121 point season in '09-'10 worthy of a Presidents Trophy, they have not made it past the Conference Semifinals.

Over the years the Capitals have put together a roster with players like Alexander Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green. With a roster featuring some of the biggest stars in the NHL, many wonder how the Caps have not had at least made it to the Stanley Cup Finals and had a chance to hoist the Cup. That question can be answered with one word, goal-tending.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why The Winnipeg Jets Will Make The Playoffs Next Season

One of the most anticipated story lines for next season is, how will the Winnipeg Jets fair in their first season back in the National Hockey League. One thing is certain, they will have a strong supporting fan base, something that could not be said when the team was in Atlanta. Will those fans, that have so patiently waited since that last puck dropped in Winnipeg in 1996, have a winning team to cheer for? Yes.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Which Is the NHL's Toughest Division: The Pacific

Last year's winner: San Jose Sharks
Teams that made the playoffs: San Jose, Anaheim, Phoenix, Los Angeles
Point differential between first and last: 10pts (San Jose 105pts, Dallas 95pts)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Which Is The NHL's Toughest Division: The Northwest

With the 2011-2012 season just over two months away, we're taking a division-by-division look, and handing out ratings in order to decide, which is the toughest division in the NHL. Up next, the Northwest...

Last season's winner: Vancouver Canucks
Teams that made the playoffs: Vancouver
Point differential between first and last: 55pts (Vancouver 117pts, Edmonton 62pts)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Which Is the NHL's Toughest Division: The Central

With the 2011-2012 season just over two months away, we're taking a division-by-division look, and handing out ratings in order to decide, which is the toughest division in the NHL. Today's topic, the Central Division...

Last season's winner: Detroit Red Wings
Teams that made the playoffs: Detroit, Chicago, Nashville
Point differential between first and last: 23pts (Detroit 103, Columbus 81)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Which Is The NHL's Toughest Division: The Southeast

With the 2011-2012 season just over two months away, we're taking a division-by-division look, and handing out ratings in order to decide, which is the toughest division in the NHL. Today we finish the East Coast with the Southeast division...

Last year's winner: Washington Capitals
Teams that made the playoffs: Washington, Tampa Bay
Point differential between first and last: 35pts (Washington 107, Florida 72)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Which Is The NHL's Toughest Division: The Atlantic

With the 2011-2012 season just over two months away, we're taking a division-by-division look, and handing out ratings in order to decide, which is the toughest division in the NHL. Next up the Atlantic...

Last year's winner: Philadelphia Flyers
Teams that made the playoffs: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers
Point differential between first and last: 33pts (Philadelphia 106, New York Islanders 73)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Which Is The NHL's Toughest Division: The Northeast

With the 2011-2012 season just over two months away, we're taking a division-by-division look, and handing out ratings in order to decide, which is the toughest division in the NHL. First off the Northeast...

Last year's winner: Boston Bruins
Teams that made playoffs: Boston, Buffalo, Montreal
Point differential between first and last: 29pts (Boston 104, Ottawa 74)