April 26, 2010
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
Sid Crosby might just be starting to convince me.
Certainly he seems to have a unique ability to find one deficiency in his game per season and work like hell to overcome it. That whole "splitting the Rocket Richard with Stamkos" thing speaks to that.
But still, I wasn't wholly impressed that he scored one more goal than Alex Ovechkin this season. After all, he still finished with the same number of points (109) and did so in an extra 10 games; but I'm sure that, regardless of which of these two players you believe to be the best in the world, you've either used that bit information or had it used on you in an argument.
Anyway, I wasn't convinced.
But these playoffs have me beginning to rethink my whole stance. Sid's not just playing great hockey, he's playing cheat-code hockey.
I remember thinking last season that Evgeni Malkin(notes) was having the most impressive run through the playoffs I'd seen in a long time. He played 24 playoff games, scored 14-22-36 and won the Conn Smythe so handily they could have given it to him before he picked up eight points in the Finals.
And Crosby is about to blow his doors off.
(Coming Up: Max Afinogenov's beer league mastery; Thomas Vanek(notes) works his way back while Savard waits; Marian Hossa(notes) makes others upset; why people hate Red Wings fans; no scalp-collecting at worlds; delusional Lamoriello crying Canucks loyalists; the Kings and Sens say farewell; Luongo's glove love; a great Shark named Joe, and a lousy one; and a 3-team trade proposal that's so darn good that only two teams need be named.)
Maybe the most amazing part is that he's doing it against the Senators. I know, I know. The Senators are awful. But there's no team in the league that has Crosby's number like the Sens do. In the 17 games against Ottawa over the last five seasons, he has two goals, 13 points and a minus-8. So to make it clear, in a six-game playoff series, Crosby has three more goals and one more point than he did in his entire career.
There was, as of Sunday night, just one player listed on hockey-reference.com's points per game leaderboard. It was Crosby, obviously, at 2.33 points per game, almost as if the internet was saying, "No one else even really warrants consideration with their paltry totals."
Do I expect Crosby to maintain this insane, torrid pace? Of course not. It would be a near-inhuman feat to score that many point over such a grinding schedule against the best teams the league has to offer.
Hell, the last time anyone scored two points a game for more than a single series was when some guy called Mario Lemieux did it in 1992 (16-18-34 in 15 games).
You know how that playoff run turned out.
What We Learned
Atlanta Thrashers: Max Afinogenov was in Birmingham, Alabama with his girlfriend (a pro tennis player in town for some tournament or another) and decided to go play some pickup hockey. Really. After his team led 7-2: on seven Afinogenov goals: he switched teams and helped his new team win by a 16-13 final. Of the 21 goals his teams scored, Afinogenov had 17 of them.
Boston Bruins: Marc Savard(notes) has not yet been medically cleared to play, but Kevin Paul Dupont thinks he could be suited up for Game 6.
Carolina Hurricanes: When you finish tied for 24th in team defense, I think most GMs would do what Jim Rutherford is doing and keep all your defensemen. Of course, he also hopes to lure Anton Babchuk(notes) back to North America as well, which might help. A little. Maybe.
Chicago Blackhawks: Marian Hossa dodged a suspension, and deserved to do so if only because he came out of the box and scored the overtime game-winner immediately and made everyone who believed he should've gotten tossed from the game all upset.
Colorado Avalanche: Adrian Dater makes a good point about Paul Stastny's(notes) play in not only the Avs' one-and-done series against the Sharks, but even down the stretch in the regular season: Despite putting up nine points in his last nine in the regular season and five in six in the postseason, you never really felt like he was going to break a game open by himself like, say, Joe Pavelski(notes) did.
Dallas Stars: Brad Richards(notes) played most of the season through hip and groin problems, and in fact had arthroscopic surgery earlier this week to clear up the hip injury. He says the injuries did not affect his on-ice play.
Detroit Red Wings: George Malik sure is a clown. "The Wings fell on their faces in front of their home crowd and a national audience on Sunday. They will not repeat the task on Tuesday. They'll score the game's first goal, quiet the rip-off whiteout, and will win. Period." I hope none of those things happen. For what it's worth, this right here is why people hate Red Wings fans.
Edmonton Oilers: For some reason people are all up in arms that the Oilers fired an equipment manager, a trainer and some guy whose job I forget already. Who cares? The Oilers are run by idiots. This isn't news.
Los Angeles Kings: Dustin Brown(notes) on the series ouster against Vancouver last night: "Sometimes you have to lose before you can win. There's a lot to learn from this series." Yeah, like "get a good goalie."
Montreal Canadiens: Jaroslav Spacek(notes) has now missed about a week with this virus of his. He wasn't at practice on Sunday after missing Games 4 and 5 and two days' worth of practice prior to that.
New Jersey Devils: Lou Lamoriello on this year's Devs: "...I feel the same today as I did prior to the playoffs and certainly during the season that this team had abilities and had potential to go a good distance." All evidence to the contrary, Lou.
New York Islanders: Islanders Point Blank is doing some very interesting Q&As about the team's past and future. I learned that, until recently, the Isles didn't make a cent off concessions and parking at Nassau Coliseum.
Phoenix Coyotes: If I didn't know better, I'd think Jimmy Howard(notes) was a Red Wings fan. He said, "(Phoenix) got lucky. We hit a couple posts." Yeah but Jimbo you also gave up five goals on 29 shots so I mean, like, why don't you not do that next time? Just a suggestion.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Cooke(notes) (of all people) had a pair of goals in the Penguins' series-clinching win over Ottawa. Imagine my joy at revealing this fact to several friends who happen to be Bruins fans. Imagine my further joy at letting them know that the Penguins would be Boston's opponent should the Bruins advance out of the first round.
San Jose Sharks: Dan Boyle(notes) is officially over the own goal in Game 3. I chose to imagine it as a cartoon thought bubble with the goal replaying over and over in his head 24 hours a day. I'm somewhat sad that bubble is gone.
St. Louis Blues: David "Inglourious" Backes will not be collecting scalps for the US at the World Championships. Foreigners everywhere are now breathing considerably easier.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Vinny Lecavalier still believes he can be an elite player. On winning the Rocket Richard, he said, "That was three years ago. It wasn't 10 years ago. I'm still young." Why not ask Jarome Iginla(notes) how being on the wrong side of 30 effects a big-bodied forwards' goal-scoring.
Play of the Weekend
Gold Star Award
At least one of San Jose's players named Joe was good. Joey Pavelski was the clear No. 1 star on Saturday, picking up two goals and an assist and generally leading the Sharks' second line on a plunder-and-pillage tear through the Avalanche defensive zone.
Minus of the Weekend
Just 0-3-3 (and the most recent of those assists came on an empty-net goal) and a minus-4. Brutal.
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
User "lucscaps" has a deal so good it works even with a mystery team chipping in mystery parts.
Fill in the here
Salvador/Pandolfo salary dump (to fit dollars)
I hear the jury's still out on science.