We don’t touch on sports as much as I might like around here, but that’s cause things are already lacking any sort of laser focus. But this story gives us a fun crossover that involves The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yeun, and the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers…
The 2012 Hockey Hall of Fame class has been decided and joining the no-brainer, first-ballot Joe Sakic are Pavel Bure, Adam Oates and Mats Sundin. The biggest surprise of the nomination process, much to the chagrin of Red Wings Nation, was the omission of Brendan Shanahan. Shanahan is definitely Hall of Fame caliber and will certainly be voted in eventually so you have to wonder if this years neglect is a self-imposed Shanaban or if it’s continued sour grapes from the way Shanahan bullied his way out of playing for the Hartford Whalers franchise. Either way Shanny is going to have to wait at least a year before his 1354 regular season points and three Stanley Cup championships are heralded in the basement of Brookfield Place in Toronto.
Other first year eligible notables included Jeremy Roenick, Gary Roberts, Curtis Joseph and Claude “the Fraud” Lemieux. It’s no huge surprise to me that none of these guys had the collective support to make it in this year except of course Mats Sundin over Shanahan as a first-balloter. One extra thing to take into consideration, and what I expect tipped the scales for Sweden’s Sundin, is that this is the HOCKEY Hall of Fame and not the NHL Hall of Fame so therefore international experience and clout hold a little extra sway. Also the Hockey Hall of Fame is in Toronto and there’s no subtle coincidence that the honks voted in the long-time Maple Leaf Captain so quickly.
Bure and Oates made it out of the waiting line but some of the greats still waiting behind the velvet rope include Dave Andreychuk, Eric Lindros, Steve Larmer, Kevin Lowe, Tom Barrasso and Mike Richter. The most impressive of these stand byes is probably Dave Andreychuk who amassed an impressive 1338 points over 23 seasons in the NHL and topping it all of by helping Tampa Bay get a Stanley Cup Championship in 2004. I still maintain that because of the lockout Tampa was the 2-year reigning Stanley Cup Champion so therefore Dave actually has 2 (sort of) Stanley Cup victories. It also amazes me that Kevin Lowe who has more Stanley Cup rings than can fit on one hand is still not in the Hall and perhaps illustrates the bias against defensive defensemen as Lowe’s 431 career points aren’t blowing anyone away. He was a career +252 for goodness sakes though!
It’s not too surprising that it took a bit of a wait for Pavel Bure to make the Hall as he had a relatively short NHL career and never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals but he was an electric goal scorer who notched 437 goals in a mere 702 games also bagged one of the hottest model/”athletes” of his time in Anna Kournikova. She belongs on any Hall of Fame resume.
Adam Oates is famous for having perhaps the slickest pair of hands in the NHL and in his heyday averaged over an assist a game an impressively finished with 1079 assists in 1337 regular season games. Oates is another guy who never had his name etched on Lord Stanley’ cup but is having a hell of a week as he was not only inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this week but was also named as the new Head Coach of the Washington Capitals.
A couple of other quick Hockey notes for the week: Another young Russian was at the head of the NHL Draft class as Edmonton continues to draft in the top spot and the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Sidney Crosby to a 12-year $104 million dollar deal. I realize that Sidney Crosby is perhaps the best player in the NHL when he is healthy but you’ve gotta wonder about this long-term contract after the horrendous concussion history Crosby has. You’ve got to look no farther than the Boston Bruin’s Marc Savard and Nathan Horton to see how quickly serious concussions can derail a talented players career. If this also means that the Penguins are considering parting ways with Evgeni Malkin, perhaps the second best player in the NHL, as John Buccigross has suggested then I think the Penguins are betting on the wrong horse face of the franchise or no.
Just a couple quick notes before we get to the match ups:
To check out my feelings on the Eastern Conference playoffs go here.
Last night was the NHL Draft Lottery and the Edmonton Oilers got the right to choose #1 overall for the third year in a row. The poor Columbus Blue Jackets can’t even win a lottery at 88% odds… at least the have the All-Star game next year.
Vancouver Canucks (51-22-9) vs. Los Angeles Kings (40-27-15)
Yawn! The Vancouver Canucks again dominate the regular season garnering the best overall record in the NHL and will soon enough be Canadian residents only rooting interest in the playoffs. Daniel Sedin, the Canucks leading goalscorer, has been sidelined with a concussion since March 21st. He has been skating lately so it is still to be determined whether or not Wonder-Twin Powers will be activated anytime soon in Vancouver. The bigger controversy in Vancouver surrounds goaltending. Roberto Luongo is notoriously soft in pressure situations and his backup Corey Schneider has been seeing a larger load this year and dominating in that role. It will be interesting to see how long a leash the Canucks apply to Luongo or even if they have enough cajones to start Schneider outright. Either way, I still think Vancouver has enough guns and talent to get by the Kings in the first round. As short as a week ago LA was sitting in control of the 3rd playoff spot but after a wild and wooly finish to the season LA has been leapfrogged by San Jose and Phoenix to be left with the unhappy task of facing the Canucks in the first round. At least they’re in for a short flight home and LA residents can refocus on the Lakers.
So the NHL awards took place tonight, finally putting the 2010-2011 to bed. Let’s take a look at those who won, and those that should have been winners:
Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman)
Nominees:Zdeno Chara – Boston Bruins, Nicklas Lidstrom – Detroit Red Wings, and Shea Weber – Nashville Predators.
Winner:Nicholas Lidstrom, Detroit Should’ve Been:Shea Weber, Nashville
While the Lidstrom win, his 7th, is not surprising, I think Weber was the correct choice. Weber finished The season with 16 goals, 32 assists, +7, and 211 hits. Weber, along with Pekka Rinne, is the reason behind Nashville’s successful season and playoff run.
Well well well, it looks like the Sharks CAN play defense after all. I guess I should start this off with a much deserved apology to one Mr. Dan Boyle who I openly criticized in my Grizzly Bomb debut. Just like the great Donald Trump, I’ll fully take credit for the turn around in not only his play, but the teams recommitment to defense, and assume it was because they took my criticism to heart.
In all seriousiocity (yes I make up my own words as well, cause I’m that awesome), Boyle has been a defensive machine by blanketing and frustrating Zetterberg and Datsyuk in the offensive zone. Another thing I’ll take credit for is the return of Niemi’s spine. The dude appears to be back to his old form only letting in 2 goals in the first two games, as opposed to the 6 he let in during the first two games against LA. It’s these two 180 degree turns in the play of San Jose that have put up 2-0 in the series.
So what’s going on with Detroit? What happened between games 1 and 2? Even though they played a very solid game through out, the game 1 loss was nothing more than a bad bounce on shot tossed toward the net in hopes of something good happening. Not really much in game 1 to dissect and criticize. Game 2 on the other hand is a completely different beast. The wings came out just plain flat for the entire game. Not even in the final minutes of the third did you see much desperation or jump in their steps to try a tie it up. I would have expected to see the ‘Game 2 Wings’ in game 1, after 8 days of rest. Not after a day of rest and a game 1 overtime loss.
Another area of concern that surfaced in game 2 was the health of Johan Franzen. The dude is definitely not 100% right now, and the knee is keeping him from living up to ‘The Mule’ nickname he has and getting the production from him that they so desperately need. The one bright spot for Detroit right now is Jimmy Howard. So far in two games he’s stopped 79 of 83 shots for a .952 save percentage. Hopefully returning home to Joe Louis will spark the Wing’s offense and give Howard the help he needs.
All in all, this series is shaping up to be as good as what everyone thought it would be going in. Game 2 was a bit more physical than I think people expected, but hey, that just makes things that much better. I’m still sticking with my prediction of Wings in 7……… for now…..