Sports Outside the Beltway

Sharks Defeat Predators, Advance to 2nd Round

The San Jose Sharks have won thier series against the Nashville Predators in five games by scores of 5-4, 2-5, 3-1, 3-2, & 3-2.

It is worth mentioning that unlike the NBA Playoffs, the NHL Playoffs re-seeds the teams after the first round to set up a second round where the highest remaining seed plays the lowest remaining seed. Second Round preview and picks to follow as soon as the teams are settled.


Rangers Sweep Thrashers

Well, I’m 0 for 1 on my picks so far as the Rangers swept the Thrashers out of the Playoffs winning the four games with scores of 4-3, 2-1, 7-0, & 4-2. The Rangers just stuck it to the Thrashers as the veteran leadership figured to lead the Thrashers was hardly a factor in the series. Good job by the Rangers overall they turned their season around after looking like they would miss the playoffs two months ago. They got hot to make the playoffs and have carried that through, if they can keep this play up their second round opponent will have a tough series ahead.

Update on other First Round Series:
New Jersey Devils tied with Tampa Bay Lightning 2-2
Buffalo Sabres lead New York Islanders 3-1
Ottawa Senators lead Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1
San Jose Sharks lead Nashville Predators 3-1
Detroit Red Wings lead Calgary Flames 2-1
Vancouver Canucks lead Dallas Stars 3-1
Anaheim Ducks lead Minnesota Wild 3-1


Dallas-Vancouver Play 6th Longest Playoff Game Ever

Despite having to get up early, through sheer detemination (or stupidity) I stayed up for all 138 minutes and 6 seconds of the Vancouver-Dallas Game last night. For those keeping track thats about 2.3 games untill Marty Turco could not make his 52nd save and Vanouver won 5-4, of course Roberto Luongo was no slouch stopping 72 of 76 shots. However this is not the longest playoff game in NHL History, but the fact they were still standing after all of that was pretty impressive and in reality this game may have already won the series for Vancouver because losing like that has cause the downfall of many a playoff team. Below is listed how this game stacks up against the other marathon playoff games.

Date Final Winning Scorer Time
3/24/36 Detroit 1, Maroons 0 Mud Bruneteau 176:30
4/3/33 Toronto 1, Boston 0 Ken Doraty 164:46
5/4/00 Philadelphia 2, Pittsburgh 1 Keith Primeau 152:01
4/24/03 Anaheim 4, Dallas 3 Petr Sykora 140:48
4/24/96 Pittsburgh 3, Washington 2 Petr Nedved 139:15
4/11/07 Vancouver 5, Dallas 4
Henrik Sedin 138:06
3/23/43 Toronto 3, Detroit 2 Jack MacLean 130:18
3/28/30 Montreal 2, Rangers 1 Gus Rivers 128:52
4/18/87 Islanders 2, Washington 1 Pat LaFontaine 128:47
4/27/94 Buffalo 1, New Jersey 0 Dave Hannan 125:43
3/27/51 Montreal 3, Detroit 2 Maurice Richard 121:09
3/27/38 Americans 3, Rangers 2 Lorne Carr 120:40

In other action:
Ottawa defeats Pittsburgh 6-3 (Ottawa leads series 1-0)
Anaheim defeats Minnesota 2-1 (Anaheim leads series 1-0)
Sand Jose defeats Nashville 5-4 in 2 OTs (San Jose leades series 1-0)


NHL Playoff Time – 1st Round Edition

Its time for Stanley Cup Playoff and will bring some of the most intesnse hard fought games of any post-season in any sport, so here’s a quick look at the teams looking for Stanley Cup glory.

Eastern Conference
(1) Buffalo Sabres v. (8) New York Islanders
The Islanders put together a strong finish to be the last team to make the playoffs thanks to a shootout victory, while greatly improved with the acquisition of Ryan Smyth will suffer greatly without #1 goalie Rick DiPietro. The only risk to Buffalo would be losing goalie Ryan Miller, with the offensive talent the team has goaltending is the only portion of the team that could hurt them.
Prediction: The offensive assault will be too much for the Islanders, Buffalo in 5

(2) New Jersey Devils v. (7) Tampa Bay Lightning
This series comes down to Devils Goalie Martin Brodeur vs. Lightning Forwards Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. While Brodeur has the ability to carry a team on his back, but after playing 78 games this season he could breakdown at some point, the key for the Lightning will be making him work hard every game.
Prediction: Lecavalier and St. Louis come through, Lightning in 7

(3) Atlanta Thrashers v. (6) New York Rangers
A talented team, deep bench, playoff experienced players, and experienced coaching make the Thrashers a dangerous team these playoffs. Ranger’s Sean Avery can get under anyone’s skin as well as a playoff experienced goalie can help the Rangers down the stretch. The question for Atlanta is if their playoff rookie goalie can stand up to the pressure.
Prediction: Sean Avery does more harm than good, Thrashers in 6

(4) Ottawa Senators v. (5) Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins come in with some of the best young players in the game and a young goalie. The Senators bring in a veteran skilled team with a history of playoff failures to over come.
Prediction: Old age and guile beat youth and good looks, Senators in 5

Western Conference
(1) Detroit Red Wings v. (8) Calgary Flames
The Flames have the best home record in the league, but finished 8th in the Conference cause they can’t win on the road, not a good sign when you don’t have home ice advantage. Despite having on of the top players in the league and solid defense they lack what ever it takes to win at the other guy’s place. The Red Wings again put together one of the best teams in the league (even though the Cap was supposed to bring them back to erath). The Red Wings playoff hopes rest on the shoulder of Dominik Hasek and Todd ‘Sucker-Punch’ Bertuzzi.
Prediction: The Dominator does it again with some offensive help from his friends, Red Wings in 7

(2) Anaheim Ducks v. (7) Minnesota Wild
While the Ducks were the early favorite this season some of the luster off their shine is gone (especially when you lose to the Kings 4 times). However the ducks are backed up by 2 solid goaltenders, 3 forward lines that can hurt you, and 2 of the best defensemen in the game. Minnesota can throw some great offensive talent and goaltending back at anyone, they just don’t have enough to match up every shift against the Ducks
Prediction: With great pain in my gut, Ducks in 6

(3) Vancouver Canucks v. (6) Dallas Stars
Solid lines and improved defense help the Stars, but playoff history hold a dark cloud over goaltender Marty Turco’s head. Vancover plays a disciplined game and can exploit errors; however they will lean heavily on the Sedin Twins for offense while Roberto Luongo will danc eon his head to keep them in games.
Prediction: I go with goaltending and that will be Roberto Luongo, Canucks in 6

(4) Nashville Predators v. (5) San Jose Sharks
The Predators will lean heavily on Paul Kariya and Peter Forsberg (who is one of the best playoff performers in history) to guide the fortunes of the team, which includes staying healthy. The Sharks are one of the best power play teams in the league and one of the best at holding a lead when scoring first, to win Nashville will have to score early and stay out of the box. However, both team’s fortunes will rest on who finds the right goal tender to ride through the series.
Prediction: The power play will prove to be too much for Nashville, Sharks in 7

My advice…grab a chair and a beer sit back and enjoy what should be some exiting playoffs thanks to the ‘New NHL’.


NHL Trade Deadline Day

Today brings the NHL Trade Deadline, a national holiday in Canada. Of course most of the trades won’t many anything except to Canadians and the five die-hard American fans, I’ll just bring you some of the big name/impact trades as they happen through out the day. But if you are Canadian or one of the five, visit’s site they will give you everything from Edmonton and Toronto trading 7th round draft picks to the guy traded for a bag of pucks. (oh yes they have a live broadcast too.)

Deals of Note

To NY Islanders: F – Ryan Smyth
To Edmonton: F – Robert Nilsson, F – Ryan Omarra, 2007 1st Round Pick
The inability of Edmonton to reach a new contract agreement with Ryan Smyth forced this trade. Edmonton gains nothing and loses the cornerston of their franchise who has been with the team since they drafted him in 1994. Great move by the Islanders, that will help them in the playoff push. I am suprised Edmonton didn’t get a bidding war going, but it was reported that they refused to deal him to a Western Conference Team.

To Dallas: D – Mattias Norstrom, F – Konstantin Pushkarev, 2007 3rd and 4th Round Pick
To Los Angeles: D – Jaroslav Modry, D – Johan Fransson, 2008 1st Round Pick, 2007 2nd and 3rd Round Pick
This wins the award for most complex trade of the day and most difficult for many Kings Fans. Dallas gets Kings’ Captian Mattias Norstrom a solid (but old school) defensive defenseman to shore up their defensive core, who is under contract for next season. Dallas also picks up Pushkarev who can play bigger than he is, but has attitude problem caused mostly by Russian Clubs who consistently tell him he gets no respect in the NHL and should be playing in Russia. The Kings eat the salary of turn over machine Modry (who is a free agent on July 1st) and get the first right to Swedish prospect defensive Fransson. As for the picks… The Kings net a 1st rounder in the stronger 2008 draft and swap around draft positions in 2007 (the Kings’ original 3rd round pick would be higher than Dallas’ original 3rd round pick based on this season standings. Overall the Kings moved up in the draft board in 2007 while Dallas moved down.

To Colorado: F – Scott Parker
To San Jose: 2008 6th Round Pick
Nothing major here, San Jose just picks up an additional draft pick and frees up some roster and cap space.

To Toronto: F – Yanic Perreault, 2008 5th Round Pick
To Phoenix: D – Brendan Bell, 2008 2nd Round Pick
Yanic, who was unsigned for the frist two months of the season, pays off for Phoenix with a higher draft pick and a defensive prospect to build for the future. Toronto picks up a healthy and effective center for a playoff run in what will be a tight playoff push in the east. This is Yanic’s 3rd stint with Toronto.

To Buffalo: F – Dainius Zubrus, D – Timo Helbling
To Washington: F – Jiri Novotnv, 2007 1st Round Pick
Buffalo adds a talented forward but raw forward (with motivational issues) and a defensive prospect to build for the future and a playoff push. In return Washington gets a low 1st round pick in a weak draft and a talented foward who lacks finishing skills and is prone to laziness

To Detroit: F – Todd Bertuzzi
To Florida: TBA Pending Trade Call with NHL Head Office F – Shawn Matthias, 2007 Conditional Draft Pick, 2008 Conditional 2nd Round Draft Pick
Florida gets a top prospect and picks for rebuilding while giving Detroit Bertuzzi who has only played 7 games this seasons. When healthy Bertuzzi is a force on the ice, but no one knows if he will regain his for and if he can avoid sucker punching other players.

To San Jose: F – Bill Guerin
To St. Louis: F – Ville Nieminen, F – Jay Barriball, 2007 1st Round Pick
San Jose gets a first line winger, Stanley Cup Winner and six time All-Star. He possess a big shot, a mean streak that combine power and speed. He will help the Sharks immensely as they make a push for the Stanley Cup.

To Pittsburgh: F – Georges Laraque
To Phoenix: F – Danny Carcillo, 2007 8th Round Pick
Pittsburgh gets one of NHL’s best heavyweights and enforcers to protect their young stars for the playoff run.

To Philadelphia: G – Martin Biron
To Buffalo: Undisclosed Draft Pick 2007 2nd Round Pick
This deal unloads unhappy goalie Biron to Philadelphia. Biron had lost his starting spot in Buffalo and was going to walk away from the team this summer as a free agent, so they pick up what they could for him. I imagine the draft pick will be determined based on Philadelphia’s ability to sign Biron this summer. (in a minor deal, Buffalo acquired Ty Conklin from Columbus for future considerations a 2007 5th Round Pick to fill Biron’s role as backup for the rest of the season and playoffs)

To Pittsburgh: F – Gary Roberts
To Florida: D – Noah Welch
Roberts is a power forward who loves to crash the net and battle for loose pucks. At 40 years old, he is a short term rental for the young Pittsburgh team to provided leadership and grit from past Stanley Cup Playoffs. Welch is a 24 year old defenseman; he’s a big presence on the blue line (6’4″) with a big shot from the point. With his upside this could pay off for Florida in the long run.

To Vancouver: F- Bryan Smolinski
To Chicago: 2007 Conditional 2nd Round Pick

To Vancouver: D – Brent Sopel
To Los Angeles: 2008 2nd and 4th Round Pick
In both of these trades are to improve Vancouver, currently the #3 seed in the West. Smolinski is a veteran center, who becomes a free agent on July 1st, while Sopel can play like a top 4 defensemen (but is prone to stupid mistakes) and provides additional offensive spark at the blue line. The picks are a wash; Los Angeles got a better deal than Chicago as the 2008 draft is projected to be stronger than the 2007 draft.

To NY Islanders: F – Richard Zednik
To Washington: 2007 2nd Round Pick
Islanders pick up extra offense to sneak into the Playoffs, provided Zednik doesn’t go into one of his prolonged scoring slumps.

To Atlanta: F – Keith Tkachuk
To St. Louis: F – Glen Metropolit, 2007 1st and 3rd Round Picks, 2008 2nd Round Pick
Atlanta gets a veteran scorer (with historic playoff scoring problems), while St. Louis gets a career reserve forward and a bunch of picks to rebuild the time. This deal is mainly to set the price for Bill Guerin.

To Philadelphia: D – Braydon Coburn
To Atlanta: D – Alexei Zhitnik
Philadelphia gets a young defenseman with lots of upside, while Atlanta gets a veteran defenseman with a big slap shot and the ability to play a big man’s game…when he’s motivated to.

To Carolina: F – Anson Carter
To Columbus: 2008 5th Round Pick
Carolina gets Carter, who had been a disappointment from Columbus on the cheap. Could pay dividends for Carolina IF Carter rediscovers his scoring touch.

To Nashville: F – Peter Forsberg
To Philadelphia: F – Scottie Upshall, D – Ryan Parent, 2007 1st and 3rd Round Pick
Nashville sold the farm to get Forsberg, which means this is the year they are really going for the Cup hard. Forsberg is a immense talent and game changer, but recent history shows he is one big hit away from the injured list. By far the biggest risk-reward player out there and really could push Nashville over the top. On an ironic side note, Nashville now has two of the biggest divers in the League on their team in Peter Forsberg and Paul Kariya.


An All-Star Fiasco

I still love my hockey, even as I sit here and watch the NHL shoot itself repeatedly in the foot and wonder why they continue to decline as a sport in the US. Its only a matter of time until NASCAR, Arena Football, Competitive Gardening, Golf, Bowling and the WBNA all pass the NHL in popularity. It has already begun here in Los Angeles, where the Anaheim Mighty Ducks are broadcast on some station I’ve never heard of and the Kings were dropped from ESPN Radio 710 in favor of the Clippers, USC Football and USC Basketball. It seems like the only thing less popular than the Kings is the Air America programming they now preempt.

Then comes this year and the NHL All-Star Game, which for some reason the scheduled in January, when everyone is focused on the NFL Playoffs, beyond that as to not lose viewers they make the game on a Wednesday night just to ensure that either West Coast fans will miss the beginning of the game and East Coast fans will miss the end. Why no just wait until February, you know the dead month in sports between the Super Bowl and March Madness, and play the game on a Saturday night when more people are home.

Then comes the big news for the NHL the new uniform design, with the official unveiling coming at the All-Star Game no will be watching. As part of the roll out for next season they designers have been going from team to team for the players to try them out so they can work out the bugs. Unfortunately for the NHL, the reaction from teams like the San Jose Sharks early in the tryout rotation isn’t good:

At the end of the day, players were asked to leave their jerseys hanging in the stalls.
“I’ll hang it right in the garbage,” Smith said.”

One has to question the logic of the NHL rushing into this even more if the majority of players and fans prefer the current jersey style. My preference is for the current style of NHL Jerseys, they make the sport different and that isn’t always bad.

This season also marked the first year of the NHL’s big push for online voting for player selections to the All-Star Game. What it has gotten the NHL was a bunch of internet nerds leading a campaign to get a no-name journeyman in the starting line up and well, its working:

Rory Fitzpatrick is a journeyman National Hockey League defenceman currently playing for the Vancouver Canucks, who hasn’t picked up one point in 20 games this season. He has nine goals and 18 assists over parts of nine NHL seasons, and has never played more than 60 games in a single NHL season.

Despite the less than gaudy statistics, Mr. Fitzpatrick sits second in voting among defencemen in the NHL’s Western Conference for next month’s all-star game in Dallas.

For that, Mr. Fitzpatrick can thank both the NHL’s new voting system for the all-star game — which encourages hockey fans to vote as often as they like — and a Buffalo computer nerd who has persuaded Internet geeks to “Vote For Rory.”


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