Category Archives: NHL

The Winners and Losers of NHL Free Agency So Far

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. The New Jersey Devils are one of the big winners in this years free agency period due largely to the fact that they resigned star goalie Martin Brodeur (pictured above).

By Nick Craddock

Two weeks ago the NHL free agent frenzy (not sure if you could call it that this year) began, and in the spirit of prematurely judging things, here is a compilation of the winners and losers of the free agency period thus far.

Winners

New Jersey Devils: The Devils lost captain Zach Parise to his home state Wild (see below), but every true hockey fan knows that the real heart, soul, and leader of the Devils is Martin Brodeur, who resigned with the team for two years. Brodeur’s contract all but guarantees that the 40-year-old goalie will see out his Hall of Fame career with the only team that he has ever known.

Replacing the void of Parise will not be an easy task, but as the old adage goes: Defense wins championships, and Brodeur’s stellar play almost won the Devils a Stanley Cup title this past June.

One thing’s for sure: People in the Garden State will be able to forget about Parise much quicker than they would have been able to forget about their starting goalie for the past two decades had their beloved Marty left. Continue reading

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Kings will win the Stanley Cup (I think…)

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. This was the scene late last night as the Los Angeles Kings (pictured above) clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup. Can they win it all?

By Nick Craddock

Don’t fret about the aging Lakers, good people of Los Angeles, your Los Angeles Kings will win the Stanley Cup and bring joy and a championship banner to the Staples Center soon enough. Without being so bold as to bet my own money, I would assure any willing (and possibly chronic) gamblers to place their bets on the team in Black and White to hoist the Cup as NHL champions in June.

Despite Games 4 and 5 of the Western Conference Finals arguably being the sloppiest two games of the Kings’ playoff run to date, the boys from LA managed to edge the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime in Game 5 to take the series in five games and advance to the Stanley Cup to face the winner of the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. Somehow, the Kings survived a lackadaisical start, particularly from stars Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, a 5-on-3 Coyotes powerplay in the third period, and a Phoenix powerplay in overtime to avoid giving the fellow upstart Coyotes yet another breath of life in the series.

Really, the Kings were just a “Mike Smith” away from sweeping the Coyotes in four games as the Phoenix goaltender briefly returned to his earlier round form in pushing the series back to Glendale, Arizona for what turned out to be the decisive Game 5.

Still, the fact remains that the Kings have only needed 14 games to dispose of the Western Conference’s top three seeds and own a perfect road record (8-0). The small sample size of games has been proof enough that the Kings are playing the best hockey of any team in the playoffs. Continue reading

The Conn Smythe Trophy Frontrunners

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Dustin Brown (pictured above) is a major favorite to bring home the Conn Smythe Trophy.

By Nick Craddock

The 2012 NHL playoffs are coming to a crescendo.  Between a closely contested Eastern Conference Finals featuring the rival New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils and what has turned into a one-sided Western Conference Finals featuring the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes, the muddled playoff picture which began with 16 teams vying for Lord Stanley’s Cup is coming into focus.

Of all the players who have made their mark this postseason in helping their teams to this stage, these five look poised to have the best shot at capturing the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the NHL playoffs’ Most Valuable Player.

1. Dustin Brown, right wing, Kings: Brown is proving why he wears the “C” on his jersey this spring. He leads his team in scoring with seven goals and eight assists, including three game-winning goals. He’s tied with teammate Anze Kopitar for the best plus/minus rating of any player in the playoffs. He delivers crushing hits. And even when he’s not making an incredible play, he influences the game to such a degree that it affects his opponent’s psyche (i.e.Phoenix’s Martin Hanzal cross-checking Brown from behind into the boards during Game 2, resulting in a one-game suspension).  All in all, Brown’s outstanding play makes it unfathomable to think the Kings contemplated trading Brown at the trading deadline. Simply put, the Kings’ stellar play through these playoffs thus far would not be possible without Brown. That description sounds like the embodiment of a Conn Smythe winner. Continue reading

Jagr returns to the NHL, inks with Flyers

Photo courtesy of thenhl.wikia.com.

By Nick Craddock

Jaromir Jagr will be playing hockey in the state of Pennsylvania again. But he’ll be donning a different jersey.

Today, the first day of NHL free agency (and fittingly Canada Day), Jagr signed a one-year contract worth $3.3 million with the Philadelphia Flyers, the fiercest Atlantic Division rival of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who Jagr helped guide to two Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.

Having spent the past three seasons in Russia with Kontinental Hockey League’s Avangard Omsk, Jagr, 39, impressed while in Russia and at the IIHF World Championship in May, when Jagr scored a hat trick in a game against NHL-level competition for his native Czech Republic, proving he had plenty to offer any team. Continue reading

Winnipeg Jets are back in business. Finally.

Photo courtesy of truthfullylying.wordpress.com. The Atlanta Thrashers are moving to Winnipeg and becoming the new version of the Winnipeg Jets.

By Nick Craddock

The Jets are back.

In the past month, the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg, an NHL franchise-less city since 1996, a new general manager was named, a new coach was appointed, and before the relocated franchise began its first draft on Friday, it was announced that the team would once again be referred to as the “Winnipeg Jets” (jerseys and logos will follow at a later date).

Bringing back the old “Jets” moniker is not only nostalgic, but this link to the past symbolizes the professional hockey hiatus in Winnipeg that never should’ve happened. Continue reading

Bruins walk into Vancouver and walk away with the Cup

Photo courtesy of rtrsports.com. Tim Thomas (pictured above) was magnificent in holding a potent Canucks offense to 0 goals in Game 7.

By Nick Craddock

Tim Thomas finally stole a game in Vancouver. Turns out, it was the only game that mattered.

Thomas, who became only the second American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs’ most valuable player, completed his stellar series (make that season) by backstopping the Boston Bruins to a 4-0 win in game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and their first championship since 1972.

Thomas played phenomenal in the previous three games in Vancouver, but his team only managed two goals versus his topsy-turvy counterpart Roberto Luongo. Luongo, normally a rock at home, was suspect in game 7. The Bruins’ second and third goals were particularly chintzy, and it appeared that Luongo may have had more of a hand in putting those goals in his net rather than keeping them out. Continue reading

Bruins bombard Luongo (again), force game 7

Photo courtesy of Online Gambling Blog. We head towards a winner take all Game 7 for the rights to the Stanley Cup.

By Nick Craddock

Roberto Luongo has let in two goals in the three games that have been played in Vancouver during these Stanley Cup finals.

He’s been less than stellar away from Vancouver, but surely it wouldn’t get any worse for him with a chance to clinch the cup in game 6 in Boston. Well…

Luongo let in two goals in a 35-second span in the first period, three goals on eight shots and after four Boston goals in 4:14 — a record for the shortest time to record four goals in Stanley Cup history —game 6 was effectively decided before the midway mark of the first period. Continue reading