Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What A Dud!!

Game 7 of the Pittsburgh-Washington series was like chasing that girl of your dreams, and then landing her and finding out she's nothing but a bitch. Game 7 was talked about by everyone--including the major networks in the U-S. What would Ovechkin and Crosby give us in Game 7 after giving us six great games to start things off. With the Stanley Cup playoffs perhaps bettering the NBA playoffs, the league had a chance to really strike a mark on Wednesday night. Instead, the league crashed to earth with a gigantic thud after a disastrous final game that turned out to be a one-sided affair.

Alex Ovechkin had a chance early on to give Washington the lead and perhaps if he scores its a different game but Game 7 was all Pittsburgh. They win it by a score of 6-2 and even that score may have flattered a Washington team that just did not show up for the biggest game of the year--especially Sergei Varlamov who crashed and burned at a most inopportune time. Here's hoping the two Game 7's we have tonight are much better than what we had last night.

HNIC's Greg Millen made an interesting statement at the end of the game. He said if he had to start a team he would most certainly take Crosby ahead of Ovechkin because Sidney is a more complete player. I can't agree with that. Take nothing away from Crosby, but he does not possess the pure goal scoring talent that Ovechkin has, he doesn't have the physical style to his game that Ovechkin has. While Ovechkin does not move on, I would say Alex did not lose out to Sid in his head to head battle. He had more points in this series. The biggest difference was Sid had a supporting cast to work with and Alex didn't. Mike Green disappeared, Alexander Semin wasn't a factor. Meanwhile, Sid got help from Malkin, he got help from Staal, he got help from Guerin and that was the difference. Take nothing away from Crosby because he is one of the top players in this league but he still doesn't bring everything to the table that Ovechkin does. If I'm starting a team, I'm looking Ovechkin's way. I might actually look Luongo's way as you've got to be strong in net and there are many forwards who can bring you success as well(Getzlaf, Staal, Datsyuk etc. etc.). It asks the question--- Who would you take first if you were building a franchise???

By the way, would someone please give Sid a Sharpie so he can do something about that pathetic effort that he calls a playoff beard!!!!!
The Memorial Cup begins tomorrow in Rimouski, Quebec. Here's a look at the four teams taking part and the sked....

Head Coach: Ryan Huska
General Manager: Bruce Hamilton

2008-09 Record: 47-21-1-3, 98pts, GF: 267 GA: 178

2008-09 CHL Final Ranking: Not Ranked

2009 Playoff Record: 16-6 GF: 78 GA: 54

-Defeated Kamloops Blazers 4-0 in first round
-Defeated Tri-City Americans 4-2 in second round
-Defeated Vancouver Giants 4-2 in Western Conference Championship series
-Defeated Calgary Hitmen 4-2 in WHL Championship series

2009 Playoffs Top Scorers:

LW – Jamie Benn 19gp-13g-20a-33pts
C – Cody Almond 22gp-10g-17a-27pts
C – Mikael Backlund 19gp-13g-10a-23pts
D – Tyler Myers 22gp-5g-15a-20pts

The Kelowna Rockets are making their fourth appearance at the MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament, and fourth in the last seven years. The Rockets won the Memorial Cup in 2004 as the host team.

Up Front: The Rockets boast some top-end offensive talent on their top two lines, but also possess great depth and speed right through their line-up. Canadian World Junior star Jamie Benn led all WHL players in playoff scoring, despite missing a number of games, and has established himself as one of Major Junior hockey’s top snipers. Swedish star Mikael Backlund and Phoenix Coyotes prospect Colin Long provide great playmaking ability and skill, while Cody Almond has proven himself to be a strong two-way presence. Rockets forwards Evan and Lucas Bloodoff, Ian Duval and Kyle St. Denis provide a solid blend of speed, skill and physicality.

On The Blue Line: The Rockets’ defense more than proved itself as a dominant force after shutting down the WHL’s top two offensive teams during their run to the WHL Championship. Buffalo Sabres’ prospect Tyler Myers has been the best player in the WHL down the stretch and throughout the playoffs, playing near mistake-free defensive hockey while providing outstanding puck movement and offense. Veteran Tysen Dowzak has also been a force in his own end while sophomore Tyson Barrie has continued to add a dynamic offensive element. Add in the speedy Brandon McMillan and defensive stalwart Collin Bowman, and the Rockets have all the tools to handle any opposition attack.

Goaltending: 20-year-old Mark Guggenberger has provided the Rockets with solid and consistent goaltending since coming to Kelowna at the trade deadline from Swift Current. The 6’2”, 208-lb netminder may not have been required to outright steal any wins for the Rockets, but he’s always there to make key saves when called upon. After taking the reins in Kelowna, Guggenberger is certainly turning heads with his strong post-season performance.


Head Coach: Clement Jodoin
General Manager: Andre Jolicoeur

2008-09 Record: 44-23-1-0, 89pts, GF: 267 GA: 223

2008-09 Final CHL Ranking: Not Ranked

2009 Playoff Record: 8-5 GF: 43 GA: 43

-Defeated Chicoutimi Sagueneens 4-0 in first round
-Defeated Moncton Wildcats 4-1 in second round
-Lost to Drummondville Voltigeurs 4-0 in Semi-Final series

2009 Playoffs Top Scorers:

RW – Keven Veilleux 13gp-7g-12a-19pts
LW – Philippe Cornet 13gp-4g-11a-15pts
D – Marc-Andre Bourdon 13gp-1g-12a-13pts
RW – Jordan Caron 13gp-6g-5a-11pts

The Rimouski Oceanic are making their third appearance at the MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament, and third since 2000. The Oceanic won the tournament in 2000 and lost in the Championship game in 2005.

Up Front: 19-year-old Keven Veilleux has been the Oceanic’s offensive leader in the 2009 QMJHL playoffs. After putting up 15 goals and 48 points in only 29 regular-season games, the Pittsburgh Penguins prospect tallied a team-best seven goals and 12 assists in 13 post-season contests. 19-year-old Edmonton Oilers prospect Philippe Cornet and offensive rearguard Marc-Andre Bourdon both averaged at least a point per game during the playoffs while Jordan Caron, Luca Cunti and Olivier Fortier add offensive depth for the hosts. Canadian World Junior sparkplug Patrice Cormier can provide offense while brining an intense physical edge that brought him success at the 2009 World Junior Championship.

On The Blue Line: While they may lack the size of other teams in the tournament, the Oceanic’s defense corps are mobile and can move the puck. Bourdon provides a strong offensive presence and enhances the team’s power play, while veteran Sebastien Piche can also move the puck and is an offensive threat with his strong shot. Piche and Bourdon are the only regulars on the Oceanic blue line over 6’ and 200-lbs. They will be challenged to handle the bigger, stronger forwards they will face at the Memorial Cup tournament.

Goaltending: Veteran netminder Maxime Gougeon posted a 3.08 goals-against average and a .896 save percentage through the Oceanic’s 13 post-season contests. At 5’ 8” and 158 lbs, Gougeon is the smallest of the starting goaltenders among the four teams in the tournament. After performing well during the team’s first and second-round series wins, Gougeon allowed 22 goals in the team’s four-game loss to the eventual QMJHL Champion Drummondville. Gougeon will need to bring his game to a new level for the Oceanic to have success at the Memorial Cup tournament.


Head Coach: Guy Boucher
General Manager: Dominic Ricard

2008-09 Record: 54-10-0-4, 112pts, GF: 345 GA: 189

2008-09 Final CHL Ranking: 3

2009 Playoff Record: 16-3 GF: 109 GA: 47

-Defeated Lewiston MAINEiacs 4-0 in first round
-Defeated Montreal Junior 4-0 in second round
-Defeated Rimouski Oceanic 4-0 in Semi-Final series
-Defeated Shawinigan Cataractes 4-3 in QMJHL Championship series

2009 Playoffs Top Scorers:

RW – Yannick Riendeau 19gp-29g-23a-52pts
C – Danny Masse 19gp-15g-21a-36pts
C – Chris DiDomenico 15gp-4g-31a-35pts
LW – Mike Hoffman 19gp-21g-13a-34pts

The Drummondville Voltigeurs are making their third appearance at the MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament, and first since 1991. Drummondville lost to the Spokane Chiefs in the 1991 Memorial Cup Championship game.

Up Front: The Voltigeurs boast a very powerful offense, led by a deadly power play unit that has been operating at 35.7 per cent efficiency during the post-season. Veteran Yannick Riendeau has been terrorizing goaltenders through the QMJHL playoffs, racking up an incredible 29 goals – 16 on the power play – in only 19 games. Mike Hoffman also broke the 20-goal barrier in the post-season after potting 52 during the regular season. Yet, the Voltigeurs possess solid offensive depth as well with forwards Danny Masse and Gabriel Dumont and Russian rearguard Dmitry Kulikov all averaging a point per game in the playoffs. The loss of Canadian World Junior star Chris DiDomenico to injury is a blow to the Voltigeurs, both offensively and defensively.

On The Blue Line: Russian rookie Dmitry Kulikov leads a strong but unheralded Voltigeurs defense corps who allowed the fourth-fewest number of goals during the regular season. The 18-year-old provides a strong offensive spark while remaining solid in the defensive zone, having posted a +16 rating during the post-season. Czech rearguard Patrik Prokop has Memorial Cup experience after participating in the 2007 tournament with the Gatineau Olympiques. The Voltigeurs’ blue line features three rookies including Kulikov, 18-year-old Olivier Hotte and 18-year-old Andrew Randazzo.

Goaltending: 19-year-old veteran Marco Cousineau has performed admirably during the 2009 QMJHL playoffs, posting a 2.44 goals-against average and a solid .910 save percentage in 19 games while holding the opposition to three goals or less I 13 of those 19 contests. If Cousineau can continue to keep his goals-against under 3.00, the Voltigeurs should be able to have success with an offense that has the ability to put plenty of pucks in the net.


Head Coach: Bob Boughner
General Manager: Warren Rychel

2008-09 Record: 57-10-0-1, 115pts, GF: 311 GA: 171

2008-09 Final CHL Ranking: 2

2009 Playoff Record: 16-4 GF: 102 GA: 59

-Defeated Owen Sound Attack 4-0 in first round
-Defeated Plymouth Whalers 4-2 in second round
-Defeated London Knights 4-1 in Western Conference Championship series
-Defeated Brampton Battalion 4-1 in OHL Championship series

2009 Playoffs Top Scorers:

LW – Taylor Hall 20gp-16g-20a-36pts
C – Andrei Loktionov 20gp-11g-22a-33pts
D – Ryan Ellis 20gp-8g-23a-31pts
RW – Dale Mitchell 20gp-14g-15a-29pts

The Windsor Spitfires are making their second appearance at the MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament, and first since 1988. The Spitfires lost the 1988 Memorial Cup championship game to Trevor Linden and the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Up Front: The Spitfires possess a powerful offense that rivals any team in the CHL, and have the firepower to overwhelm their opponents. Left wing Taylor Hall, who isn’t NHL draft-eligible until 2010, led the team in post-season scoring with 16 goals and 36 points. Hall has tremendous speed, skill and agility, making him a difficult player to handle for even the best defensemen. Russian pivot Andrei Loktionov, veteran forward Dale Mitchell and Canadian World Junior standout defenseman Ryan Ellis all topped the 30-point mark in the Spitfires’ run to the OHL title. The Spitfires also boast great offensive depth with Calgary Flames’ prospect Greg Nemisz, 19-year-old winger Eric Wellwood, and 30-goal man Adam Henrique all able to provide scoring. Veteran Scott Timmins can draw on his experience at the 2008 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament with Kitchener.

On The Blue Line: In addition to being the OHL’s top offensive team this season, they were also the top defensive team. As good as Ryan Ellis is offensively, he’s been tremendous on the defensive side as well, posting a +16 rating in 20 playoff games to lead all Spitfires’ rearguards. 20-year-old Rob Kwiet adds an offensive element for the Spitfires, while veteran Ben Shutron has Memorial Cup experience after playing in last year’s tournament with Kitchener. Collectively, the Spitfires’ defense corps was a combined +63 during the 2008 OHL Playoffs, and have managed to limit some of the top players in the CHL, including John Tavares, en route to the OHL crown.

Goaltending: 20-year-old Andrew Engelage has been solid when called upon for the Spitfires. Although he may not have to be spectacular, game in and game out, Engelage has put forth some terrific performances throughout the post-season. For a team that can score like the Spitfires, Engelage likely won’t need to play shutout hockey for his team to have success. Having already faced some of the top snipers in Major Junior hockey, Engelage won’t be intimidated by what awaits him in Rimouski.

2009 MasterCard Memorial Cup Schedule:

Round Robin

Game 1 – Kelowna vs Rimouski; Friday, May 15; 7:00pm ET
Game 2 – Drummondville vs Windsor; Saturday, May 16; 4:30pm ET
Game 3 – Rimouski vs Windsor; Sunday, May 17; 4:30pm ET
Game 4 – Drummondville vs Kelowna; Monday, May 18; 7:00pm ET
Game 5 – Windsor vs Kelowna; Tuesday, May 19; 7:00pm ET
Game 6 – Rimouski vs Drummondville; Wednesday, May 20; 7:00pm ET

Tie-Breaker (If Necessary); Thursday, May 21; 7:00pm ET

Semi-Final; Friday, May 22; 7:00pm ET

Memorial Cup Championship Game; Sunday, May 24; 4:30pm ET
All the games will be on Sportsnet with my good friends Peter Loubardias and Sam Cosentino calling the action.
It was 20 years ago yesterday that the Swift Current Broncos won the Memorial Cup. The last Saskatchewan team to do so. I remember quite well Tim Tisdale tipping home the overtime winner to give the Broncos an emotional victory. It had just been a couple of years earlier that the team was involved in that tragic bus crash. When will a Saskatchewan team win the Cup again?? In fact what happens first, a Memorial Cup champ from this province or a Brier champ.
The CFL started its "state of the franchise" teleconferences Wednesday with the Eskimos leading off. Here are some quotes from Richie Hall and Jesse Lumsden...
Head coach Richie Hall –
It’s a pleasure to represent the Edmonton Eskimos.
We’re very excited about the players we were able to attain (in the CFL Draft). We’re a better team now than we were three or four months ago.
It’s a lot easier coaching with him (Lumsden) than against him.
The biggest thing (in being a head coach as opposed to a position coach) is managing my time.
The biggest thing is just us coming together as a team. There’s been a change of philosophies to some degree.
The goal for Jesse is to play 18 plus games and we’re a better football team with him in the lineup. He’s one of the best running backs in the league.
Mo Lloyd and Lumsden were our two biggest signings this offseason.
We want to be able to run the football. We still have to go out there and do it. They (the Eskimos) had a very good offense prior to me coming here.
Running back Jesse Lumsden
When it came to my decision in free agency, Coach Hall had a huge impact.
The shoulder is great. I’m bench pressing up in the 300s again, which is good. I do test it. I do put it through different situations like hitting the heavy bag, but there’s no real test like a football situation, but it’s not something I’m worried about.
I'd like to see Richie succeed in his first year as a head coach because he is a good guy that for one reason or another never got the chance here. I wish him luck---until of course they get beat at Mosaic Stadium in the Western final by the Riders.
Interesting statements from the commissioner of the Canadian Soccer League. Cary Kaplan told reporters in Toronto he wants a giant expansion of his league, and he wants many of those teams to be based in Western Canada including teams in Regina and Saskatoon. I don't know about Saskatoon because I don't know enough about the soccer scene there, but I think a team in Regina would work. There were once again solid crowds for the World Cup of Soccer at the Eventplex so I'm guessing that would translate into a good fanbase for a team here. We'll see if this comes to fruition or if Mr. Kaplan is guilty of expressing a pipe-dream. I think a Canadian soccer league with teams across the country would do great things for the sport in this country.
Is it just me or are there one too many ads on HNIC for erectile dysfunction?? Between those ads and the ones for Molson Canadian, there must be a lot of guys watching hockey who do nothing but drink beer and can no longer get it up without a "performance-enhancer"!!!
Do you like "the rouge" in the CFL?? For those that don't know, "the rouge" is the single point. Vote on the poll at the upper right of the page.


Portuguese Sensation said...

A couple of things...

1. Hate the Rouge.

2. Exchanged emails with the head of the CSL today. Wouldn't reveal the parties interested in bringing a team to Saskatoon and/or Regina. This has the potential to be great for the sport but I hope they handle this right.

In a perfect world... they'd have a WEST Division (BC / Alberta) and a PRAIRIE Division (SK / MB) though there may not be enough interest so you could always make all four provinces one giant division but that would drive up the travel costs.

But assuming this goes through, I would hope that the winner of the WEST would advance to a National CSL Championship to face the winners of Ontario, International Division, and Quebec.

The winner of that could represent the CSL in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship for the Voyageurs Cup - and the winner of that represent Canada at the CONCACAF Champions League.

Just imagine... a team from Saskatoon or Regina on a magical run - winning the CONCACAF Champions League and representing North / Central America at the FIFA Club World Cup and play against a team like Manchester United.

A pipedream - but one that would be amazing for the sport in our country.

Anonymous said...

Great analogy for Game 7. I chased this girl for two years in Saskatoon that was incredibly hot. Finally in Grade 12, she goes out with me and I found out what a vacuous airhead she was. She was Paris Hilton before her time. I went out with her once more and that was it. My love for her just went "POOF" in 72 hours.


Anonymous said...

There is no need for the Crosby vs Ovechkin debate. Yes there are things Ovechkin can do over Crosby, but there are things Crosby does better than Ovechkin.

Ovechkin's supporting cast was just as good, but he chooses not to use it. There have been how many instances where he tries to dipsy doodle through 4 guys, and turns the puck over. His linemates see this, and that is how there production tales off. I'd go so far as to say that is how their morale tales off. They are not included so psychologically they maybe are not giving the best effort. In a 7 game series, the opposing coaches know everything. They can design game plans to shut Ovechkin down based on his tendencies. That is what I saw in this series. They know he isn't passing so those 4 other guys on the ice with him are isolated. That leaves Ovechkin as the lone player, and 1 on 5 isn't going to get you anywhere.

Aside from the physical element Crosby can do the same things with the puck, but he elects to dish/pass to set things up. I would also go so far as to say Crosby is a better Team Leader. Do not under estimate how that plays an advantage in these series. Pure Goal Scoring is a myth. If that was accurate than Mike Gartner would be talked about as being better than Gretzky, Lemieux, etc. Gretzky had 92 goals one year, but then as he went along his goals dropped, but his assists remained consistant.

The player Crosby should be compared to is Steve Yzerman. Yzerman transformed his game to become a more complete player as did Brett Hull. Those players gave up individual stats to become complete players, and their playoff histories point to that. 99% of the time the puck is not going to be on your stick. What are you going to do when that happens? Crosby backchecks, and can transform into a good defensive forward. Ovechkin without the puck is basically useless.


Weaver said...

While I enjoy watching Ovechkin more when he is on top of his game, I would take Crosby. OV quit last night as did his team. I have yet to see Crosby fold his tent like OV did when they went down by 3. If it wasn't for Fleury's error, OV was nowhere to be found last night

Anonymous said...

Hey Mitch, I have to disagree with you on the Crosby/Ovechkin thing and agree with Obama. The reason Crosby succeeds is because he makes guys around him better, Ovechkin only makes himself better. Believe me these are two of the best hockey players in the world and each of them are enjoyable to watch on any given day. But in the end if you want to be successful you always have to pick the team guy not the soloist.


Anonymous said...

I would take Ovechkin. I do think he is a more complete player and if Washington had won last night, everyone would be praising him and dissing Sid. Alex and Sid were both outstanding in this series. They led their respective teams. Those that say Alex isn't a playmaker forget he had 3 assists in Game 6. He's not a perfect player but either is Sid. I don't think Alex pulled the chute last night like some others did and had it been Pittsburgh down by 5 going into the 3rd what would Sid have been doing. I would take Ovechkin.


Anonymous said...

Ovechkin is the MVP for a reason. He makes those better around him as well. Do you think Semin, Backstrom, Green etc. etc. would have had the years they had without Ovechkin. Put him on other teams and see where they would be and see where Washington would be. Would Pittsburgh be worse off if it was Malkin running the show instead of Crosby. Sidney is a great player, but I'm siding with Ovechkin. I also agree with what LD had to say. If Washington wins last night, I'm guessing everyone would be criticizing Crosby today or saying he wasn't mature enough to handle his first Game 7. I'm guessing those gold medal games at the World Jr wouldn't rival a Game 7 one bit.


Anonymous said...

I'd take Getzlaf ahead of both Crosby and Ovechkin!!