Monday, September 27, 2010

NHL Award Predictions from DGS

Another 'Celebrity' post today. Seems our friends at Down Goes Spezza read yesterdays post about Stephen doing every prediction BUT who will win what award. Fear not psychics. Our friends and rivals at DGS have you covered....
NHL Awards Predictions 2010-11

Hart Memorial: MVP

Henrik Sedin, Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby

Winner: Stamkos takes his first MVP, beating out Ovi and Crosby in a close vote.

 Art Ross: Scoring Champ

Winner: Henrik Sedin 33G 92A 125P

Other 100P topping players

Steven Stamkos 55G 45A
Sidney Crosby 41G 77A
Ilya Kovalchuk 60G 42A (Look at the weak goaltending of the Atlantic division)
Daniel Sedin 41G 61A (if he stays healthy)
Evgeni Malkin 35G 72A

 Rocket Richard Award: Most goals
Winner: Ilya Kovalchuk 60G

Alex Ovechkin 57G
Steven Stamkos 55G
Jeff Carter 47G (could be a Flyers homer here)

Selke Trophy: Best Defensive Forward

Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Pavel Datsyuk

 Winner: Mike Richards finally takes this award

 Norris Trophy: Best Defenseman

Nominees: Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, Zdeno Chara


 Winner: Zdeno Chara, Chara has a big year as he looks for a new contract.

 Vezina Trophy: Best goaltender

Nominees: Ryan Miller, Martin Brodeur, Jon Quick
Winner: Miller takes this award, Brodeur’s too old to be elite…tho still a talent, and I can’t see Quick duplicating his success from last year.

 Jennings Award: Fewest Goals Allowed

Winner: Marty Turco

Turco’s an underrated goalie who will face next to nothing in net because of how great the Hawks Defense is, this award will be won by Keith/Seabrook/Hjallmarsson more than Turco, but Turco’s name will be on the trophy.

Calder Trophy: Rookie of the Year

Nominees: Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, someone else (Ed. Note - Jordan Eberle)…it’s the Taylor vs. Tyler rematch!

Winner: Tyler Seguin wins this award having decent numbers…say 60-65pts on a solid Bruins team.

 Lady Byng

Nominees: Chris Pronger, Steve Downie, Sean Avery (just kidding)

Real Nominees: Martin St. Louis, Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Richards


 Winner: Martin St. Louis again, just to watch his 5’5” frame give a speech. (Ed. Note - I want to see him give another one from his Blackberry)

Jack Adams: Coach of the Year

Nominees: Dave Tippett, John Maclean, Peter Laviolette

Winner: Maclean wins the award for surviving Lou and the jelly tossed at him in NJ.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Predictions from Stephen

(Ed. Note - I'm not a predictions guy, well, not to the extent of the below post. Stevie has decided to make an insane prediction, like the season hasn't even started and he's making Cup finalist calls, I'm shocked he hasn't made Award predictions. Without further ado, Stephen's Predictions)

2010-2011 NHL Predictions: It's Ovie's turn.

Eastern Conference
(Conference standing in parenthesis)
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (2)
2. New Jersey Devils (4)
3. Philedelphi Flyers (5)
4. New York Rangers (7)
5. New York Islanders.

1. Buffalo Sabres (3)
2. Boston Bruins (6)
3. Ottawa Senators (8)
4. Montreal Canadiens
5. Toronto Maple Leafs

1. Washington Capitals (1)
2. Atlanta Thrashers
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Florida Panthers
5. Carolina Hurricanes

Western Conference
(Conference standing in parenthesis)

1. Chicago Blackhawks (3)
2. Detroit Red Wings (5)
3. Nashville Predators(6)
4. St. Louis Blues
5. Columbus Blue Jackets

1. Vancouver Canucks (1)
2. Colorado Avalanche (8)
3. Minnesota Wild
4. Calgary Flames
5. Edmonton Oilers

1. San Jose Sharks (2)
2. Los Angeles Kings (4)
3. Phoenix Coyotes (7)
4. Anaheim Ducks
5. Dallas Stars


(1) Capitals over (8) Senators in 5
(2) Penguins over (7) Rangers in 5
(6) Bruins over (3) Sabres in 6
(4) Devils over (5) Flyers in 7

(1) Capitals over (4) Devils in 6
(2) Penguins over (6) Bruins in 5

(1) Capitals over (2) Penguins in 7

(1) Canucks over (8) Avalanche in 6
(7) Coyotes over (2) Sharks in 6
(3) Blackhawks over (6) Predators in 5
(4) Kings over (5) Red Wings in 6

(1) Canucks over (7) Coyotes in 5
(3) Blackhawks over (4) Kings in 6

(3) Blackhawks over (1) Canucks in 6


Capitals over Blackhawks in 7

- Stephen

(Ed. Note pt II - fuck the caps, I'd rather have florida win than Washington)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Mueller, Paajarvi & Hall

News was sent earlier today that Avalanche forward Peter Mueller is once again shelved with a concussion. Cue Avs Nation acting irrationally. I've read calls to "Trade for Player X or, Why didn't we sign Player Y" and to these folks, I say this..

If this turns out to be a long term problem, go ahead and address the hole with a trade, signing, whatever. But only IF no one in your organization can fill it.

If this is a short term injury (month to two months) and they do something as drastic as said above, it's a slap in the face to your depth players. To just sign a player to sign him? Doesn't show much faith in your players. Last season, David Jones went down in Mid November, he was on pace for career highs, but did the fans call for a trade? I don't think so. They had FAITH in the depth guys. Faith that they would be able to shoulder the load. Had Greg Sherman gone and traded for someone, would we see the emergence of Brandon Yip? Doubtful.

Maybe in this case we see a rookie step up, or Ryan Stoa even. As for the cannon from the point, maybe this is where you take on Kevin Shattenkirk or Cameron Gaunce as a 7th D man.

If you listen closely, you can hear the collective minds of Edmonton Oiler fans meticulously planning a parade for 2011 down Jasper Ave. Pre season?! WHAT PRE SEASON?! CUP IN 2011 BABY!!

The Oilers, or more specifically, Magnus Paajarvi, ran roughshod over the Tampa Bay Lightning's B team, (no Vinny, Marty or Stevie..Stamkos) popping in 3 goals in a 5-2 Oilers win.

How did 2010 Number 1 Pick Taylor Hall do?

goal at the 1:05 mark, I'll bet you he tells his kids it was top cheese roof daddy on a clear cut break away.

But it was really Magnus Paajarvi that stole the show tonight. You can definitely see his development curve over Hall. (3 years playing in the Swedish Elite League vs. CHL) but who will have the better career? Time will tell. I'd like to put my money on MPS, but that's just cause I can't stand Hall. We'll save that post for another time.

- Jaye

DGS vs. PKLC..fantasy style

Back to blogger, It was fun with MarsEdit, maybe I'll suck up the $40 and buy it.

For those who might have missed it yesterday, we're throwing around some ideas for this season. We want to keep things interesting around here and not bore you all like some blogs. (Corsi can suck our collective behinds) One of the ideas was a Fantasy Update, where we give you a run down about out billions of fantasy teams we have on to go.

We already have a challenge.

Friends of the blog, Down Goes Spezza have spit in the face of the All-Mighty PKLC.

They want a Fantasy Hockey Showdown, we'd be rude not to accept.

Loser writes a guest post on the winners' blog explaining how awesome the other is at fantasy hockey, blog writing, life.

By April look for a special post here from our friends at DGS explaining how we kicked their asses.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Welcome Back Hockey

It's been a while, but we might finally have something to talk about in this corner of the internet. It's only pre season, and I don't really care enough to recap all the games. But things will really get moving when the regular season starts.

Some thoughts we're working on..

- The Biased PKLC Game of The Night - simply put, we'll talk about an upcoming game, or recap a game from the night before, with an obvious bias. We warned you.

- The 'We Have No Idea Who These Teams Are' PKLC Game of The Night - again, pretty self explanatory. If we have to watch a game between basement dwellers, two teams we don't care about, or even the Islanders vs. Wild on a friday night, just because we called ourselves an NHL blog, and for the sake of completeness, we have too.

- Fantasy Updates - I think we have like 6 fantasy teams between the 4 of us, so we might bore you with how bad we're getting our asses kicked in Fantasy hockey.

If you have any ideas about what you would like us to write about, let us know! Let us know in the Comments or tweet our Twitter. (@PKloosechange) or the our personal accounts, they're to your right.

Drop the puck already!

- Jaye


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hawk Camp with Ryan Hackett

I told you we'd have more camp news. Ryan has been nice enough to write a bit about his experience at Hawks Camp.
Yes, hockey is back.  I checked out the Chicago Blackhawks training camp this past weekend, and Jaye asked me to share my observations on how the Hawks look early in the preseason.
We'll start with some of the more disappointing performances:
  • Ivan Vishnevskiy (D) - I counted no less than a half dozen passes that were more than a little off the mark, some of which ended up on opposing sticks.  His positioning was decent, but poor puckhandling and decision-making suggests he needs a bit more time on the farm.
  • Simon Danis-Pepin (D) - It seemed like every rush down the ice he was getting turnstiled by tripping over his own clunky feet.  At 22 years old, another year of development to work on his skating, and at a formidable 6'6", his size could be a huge asset.
  • Jassen Cullimore (D) - Hard to be too harsh on a guy who has three years on Marty Turco, but I think it's safe to say he's not going to suddenly find his fastball close to age 40 a la Lewis Black.
  • Jake Dowell (C) - Wow.  This guy has United Center zamboni drivers fearing for their jobs.  He spent all kinds of time on the ice.  I don't mean he had a lot of icetime, he just couldn't stay on his skates to save his life.  He could make the team if and only if they strap wet towels to his legs and backside to save money (zambonis are big time gas-guzzlers).
But hey, there were some very impressive performances to be noted as well:
  • Igor Makarov (RW) - I don't think his effort flew under anyone's radar.  This guy was digging hard.  It may be because he is realizing it might be his last time to make a significant contribution to an NHL roster, but he busted up and down the ice all day.  Good to see, and I would be shocked if he doesn't make the team.
  • Jeremy Morin (LW) - I know it was just one day (let alone the first day) of camp, but this kid certainly made his case for an Indian Head sweater.  He was aggressive but not reckless, and had a magnificent period of hockey including a beautiful behind-the-back assist to Brandon Pirri.
  • Viktor Stalberg (LW) - I have mixed emotions about putting him in the "good" category.  He showed some absolutely breathtaking speed, but as I have heard from many a Maple Leafs fan, his puckhandling is, shall we say, "suspect".  The thing is, the art of the finish can be learned, but you can't teach speed.  This kid is promising to say the least.
  • Jonathan Toews (C) - It's hard to put the Conn Smythe winner in the positive section of the first day of training camp, but he was like a man possessed.  It seemed to click for Captain Serious after a rather tough hit from Niklas Hjalmarsson in the corner.  He proceeded to notch a pair of goals in that contest and one later in the day, and once again showed why he deserves to wear the "C" for Chicago.
  • John Scott (D) - Good God.  I will honestly be surprised if he doesn't kill someone this season.  This guy is an absolute monster.  I believe the Hawks have the leadership and coaching to harness his massive 6'8"/260 lb frame and make him a contributing force on the blue line.  Just maybe not this year.
Call me a homer, but I honestly believe the Blackhawks are the class of the Central and definite favorites to defend their Western Conference and Stanley Cup titles this year.  Granted, they lost several role players in the offseason, but their leadership is strong and will create the chemistry needed to succeed.
Ryan Hackett
I'd like to thank Ryan for his insight. Hockey is back baby! More as we roll through the pre-season and on to the real stuff!!
- Jaye

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sean Payton goes to Camp

More news from Avs camp (I swear if more people were going to camps, we'd have more than just Avs stuff) I contracted Sean Payton from Anyone But Detroit. (don't tell him he's getting paid in magic beans) He crafted this post about today's action.


Today’s session: 
The Avs roster was divided into 3 teams - black, grey and blue. There were three 45 min scrimmages (with a running clock) - each team played in two of the scrimmages. The sessions were refereed - the refs put away their whistles for the most part, only calling major / obvious infractions. When a penalty was called, a penalty shot was awarded in place of a PP, so we saw no special teams action.

Overall, the mood was spirited. Not a ton of hitting, but contact wasn’t limited to prospects - in fact Quincey almost took Galiardi’s head off in the middle of the ice during game 1. 

Top Lines: 
Team Black: Galiardi / Stastny / Stewart
Team Grey: Mueller / Duchene / Hejduk
Team Blue: Jones / O’Reilly / Yip

Grey 3, Black 1 - 
Grey - Carmen, Hishon, Hejduk (EN)
Black - van der Gulik

Black 5, Blue 2 - 
Black - Porter, Walter (PS), Stewart, Ford (2)
Blue - Stoa, Dupris

Blue 3, Grey 2 - 
Blue - Maudlin, Olver, O’Reilly
Grey - McLeod, Duchene


#4 John Michael Liles - Seemed to be all over the ice and was impressive. He probably knows he has something to prove to Sacco - despite being the Avs best defensive option on the PP last year, JML ended riding the bench frequently due to his defensive liability.

#8 Kirk Shattenkirk - Played solidly, but wasn’t particularly spectacular. Late in game 3, I did notice a play he made late in game 3 where he smartly went to the front of the net and was wide open - would have had a goal if Dupris saw him.

#10 Kyle Cumiskey - Did not play.

#18 Brandon Yip - I love his game, always have since I first saw him at a Developmental Camp in 2007. Maybe its just the way he skates, but he’s always seems to be playing at 110 mph.

#20 Greg Mauldin
- One of the most visible players on the ice all day. Not a ton of talent, but he just seemed to keep coming and the puck kept finding him. Had a gorgeous cross ice pass that set up Dupris’ goal in game 2. Too bad he’s 28.

#29 Ryan Stoa - Seems to be making strides - his play isn’t demanding that he gets a spot on the roster just yet, but I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t play in at least 20 games for the Avs this season.

#34 Daniel Winnik - Noticed at warm up that he has a heavy shot. Should be a nice addition on the Avs fourth line.

#28 Joey Hishon
- He is small, in fact he seemed to be swimming in his small jersey. Got physically handled a number of times, BUT his skill level was apparent. Needs some time to develop, but he could be something really special in 3-4 years.

#53 Troy Gawryletz
- My wife thought he was hot and hoped that he would make the team. Sadly, for her, he will not.

#58 Patrick Bordeleau
- Big, big winger - 6’6 - threw his weight around. Unfortunately, he was drafted in 2004, so not much room for growth in his game.

#60 Brandon Maxwell - Looked like a rattled goalie. Severally lacked confidence. 

#64 Calvin Pickard
- Read all week about what a great Rookie Camp he had - but he wasn’t very good today. I guess that’s young goalies for you.

#88 Peter Mueller
- Avs listed him as a center on the roster.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Remembering The Igloo











This hockey season will be a little different for Pittsburgh Penguins fans, players, hell, even the visiting teams.

No longer will Pens fans sit in their familiar seats at Mellon Arena.

No longer will visiting teams have to dress in one of the smallest locker rooms in the league.

Sidney Crosby will have to find new superstitious doors to walk through and poles to walk around.

Mellon Arena, The Igloo, The Pittsburgh Civic Centre, whatever you called it, will be no more

The Penguins, of course, have moved across the street to the shiny new Consol Energy Center, and Lady Mellon will sit empty.

The Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority has moved to demolish the Pittsburgh land mark.

The boys at The Pensblog have started a wave - nay - a tsunami of support for a way to memorialize the Mellon Arena.

It's freaking brilliant if you ask me.

Check it out.

- Jaye



Avs Rookie Camp from Scott Pantall

The one thing that sucks about cheering for a team 21 hours south of you, is you can't make it out to the training camps. Luckily for me, and for all of you, PKLC has friends around the world. Scott Pantall was gracious enough to write up an amazing post about the Colorado Avalanche Rookie Camp.


This year I had the joy of checking out the Rookie Camp for the Colorado Avalanche. It was 3 days of drills and scrimmages performed by the Avalanche prospects as well as a lot of the players already on the roster. Each day was broken up into 3 sections: first the rookies would perform drills, then the veterans would come out and do drills with the rookies. Then they would scrimmage, playing black vs. gray jerseys until they tired themselves out. After the scrimmage would be a free skate where players would practice stickhandling, passing or shooting. The only day there wasn't a scrimmage was the 3rd day. There weren't many veterans that day and I'm sure the rookies were tired after 3 days of hard skating.

Anyway, on to the players! That's why you're reading this right? We'll start with known names first:

38 - Joey Hishon (Center):Joey Hishon Action shot Drafted in the first round in 2010 by the Avalanche. He has some skills! He looked great in the rookie-only drills. During the 2-1 drills on day 1 he beat goalie, Brandon Maxwell every time. When going up against the veterans though, his confidence didn't look like it was there. He wasn't the same player. It'll get there in time.

6 - Jonas Holos (Defenseman): I don't know how to type that o with the line through it. Anyways, Holos looked ok. I didn't notice him much. I saw him miss a pass to Foote in the offensive zone during one of the scrimmages. Foote responded by impatiently passing the puck back to the goalie. Like Hishon, he looked nervous with the veterans but good against the other rookies. I attribute his mistakes to nerves. It's his first NHL training camp. I say give him some time. Here's a video of Holos during one of the drills:
8 - Kevin Shattenkirk (Defenseman): If you're a Shattenkirk fan I'm sorry. I didn't really notice him which isn' t necessarily a bad thing. Nothing about him stuck out as lacking but nothing that stuck out well either.

Now on to some names you might not have heard of but these are my favorite rookies...

14 - Mike Carman (Center): Carman was by far my favorite rookie. It was fun watching Carman play in the scrimmages. During the scrimmage on Day 1 he hooked up with Cody McLeod for 3 goals. I also saw him deke past Foote during the game. He's confident in traffic and doesn't seem to be intimidated at all. If only the Avalanche weren't already stacked at the center position....oh well.

3 - Cameron Gaunce (Defenseman): "We need more big, physical defensemen" is one of those things I hear a lot about the Avalanche. Here is someone who could be an answer to that. At 6', 203 lbs he doesn't stand out but he's very physical. On Day 1 he was already pissing people off. During the "Race for the puck, 2-0" drill he lost the race against Wacey Hamilton, but pestered him the whole way down the ice which earned Gaunce a stare-down after the drill. Here's a video from day 3 of Gaunce during the "Race for the puck, 2-0" drill. If you beat him, he'll just trip you...

Some notes about the veterans: Almost the entire Avalanche roster was there. The only one I didn't notice there was Matt Duchene, but I hear he was across the country doing promo stuff. Kyle Cuminsky still looks younger than all the rookies. Cody McLeod is intense! Not only did he skate hard during the drills and scrimmages, after the scrimmage on Day 1 he convinced some other players to do sprints from goal line to goal line. Then he did tip-in drills with one of the rookies shooting the puck at him. Brandon Yip showed some good speed and endurance at the end of the scrimmage on Day 2. I hope he can keep that up all year. Peter Mueller looks like a pirate.

More pictures from the camp can be found here:

More short video clips can be found here:


HUGE thanks to Scott for this great post, all HTMLed and everything. (makes my job easier) Look for a post this weekend about the main Avs Camp by Anyone But Detroit's Sean Payton.

- Jaye

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Talking Avs hockey with Marc Parsons

Recently, I was asked by Marc Parsons, an Avalanche-centric writer for, for my views on the upcoming Avs season. You can see them here. (mine are the one sentence responses which I thought passed for insight)

I asked Marc to return the favour, so here are his thoughts (to his same, awesome questions) about the upcoming season in Colorado.


First of all, which part of the world do you reside in?
Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

When did you become an Avs fan?
When Patrick Roy was traded to the Avs in the 95-96 season

In the last 15 years of the Avs being in Denver, which player is your all time favorite and why?
Definately Patrick Roy. He was the greatest goalie of his time, and was huge in the Playoffs when it mattered. When the Avs made it to the Finals twice, he made sure to seal the deal both time.

How do you feel about the direction the Avs future is heading?
I love the youth movement, with the speed and energy it takes to play in the NHL, they avs are training their young guys to use their speed and energy to their advantage. They are going to be a tough, speedy team with many years of success coming their way. Its going to be wonderful to be an Avs fan for the next 10 years.

How long do you think it will take this new generation Avs team to make an appearance at the Stanley cup Finals?
Im going to give it a few years until the Defense becomes stronger and able to play more of a full defensive shutdown group. 2012-2013

A lot of writers are counting out the team to miss the playoffs this year. Where do you predict the Avs to finish this year and why?
I predict the Avs will finish 5th in the western Conference and 2 in the Northwest division. I dont believe the Avs of last year were a Fluke and that this team is going to surprise alot of teams again.

Which current Avs player do you think Will have a breakout season?
David Jones. I think we will finally see a full year of a healthy Jones. As we all seen last year before his injury, he can produce. Its going to be a big boost for goal scoring on the team.

The Avs management has always been quiet in the off-season. Are you pleased they didn't go out and try and lure a big name player with all the available Cap room they have? Why?
I would of liked to see a few current d-men moved this off-season, and try to snatch up a top defensive UFA. But in the long run with the Upbringing up prospects like Shattenkirk and Guance, even propects that were drafted this year like Silas and Rutowski. The defense will vastly improve in the next few years. But as for going after a Superstar like Kovalchuk, im glad they never made a serious move to aquire him. although he would of been nice on a line with Dutchy.

What area do you believe the team has improved the most.
Penalty Killing and the Powerplay. Having Mueller on the point in the Powerplay is going to be huge this year. With the signing of Winnik, our PK should improve.

Which part of the game do you see the team struggling with this year?
Defense. i hate to say it, but with Adam foote still on the team, it will show his age and his slowness. Which will slow down the defensive part of the game. Sure he's a good veteran to teach the young guys, but it is a drag on the team.

Last year shown that rookies can be a strong part of how a team does during the year. Which Avs prospect do you think will see a considerable amount of NHL playing time this year?
I would say we will see quite a Bit of Justin Mercier. Dont know why, just a hunch.

How important do you think it will be for Anderson to get more nights off? He was wonderful last year. Do you think fatigue set in on him during the end of the season?
It will be very important for Andy to get at least 5-8 more games off then he did last year. And even more important for him not to be expected to play back to back nights. Budaj is a solid #2 goalie and will earn some wins for the team this year.

Good Alberta boy cheering for the Avs, I like that.

I'd like to thank Marc for taking some time answering these questions, and for allowing me the opportunity to answer them as well.

Be sure to check out his blog at
- Jaye

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sheldon Souray - To Play or Not To Play

About 6 months ago, Sheldon Souray had some choice words to say to Sportsnet's Mark Spector about the way Oilers management was treating him, and because of that, wanted out of Edmonton. I don't have to go into what he said, it's been beaten to death 6 ways from Sunday.

So the summer dragged on, nothing was done with Souray. The Oilers couldn't get rid of him even if they put a bow on him and shipped him first class to Calgary.

Here we are, a mere days away from training camp, and the white elephant in the room is what to do with Souray.

TSN's Darren Dreger has informed us about the goings on in Camp Souray and Camp Oilers.

Twitter : Darren Dreger: Souray told TSN he receive ..._1284439425603.png









Your move, Souray.

Twitter : Darren Dreger:








I smell snark from Souray.

If you ask me, the Oilers are acting like 5 year olds. 'You made fun of us and now we won't let you play in our sandbox.' If you think he's a cancer to your young team, you should have shipped him to Sibera (or the minors) back in May. Totally unprofessional by a team that is trying (quite hard I might add) to turning its franchises' image around.

Souray has put this behind him... (from

"Things happen, I guess, however as a professional and a proud guy, I wanted to be part of all of the positive things that are happening around the team right now. My focus was to come in here and be a pro.  There never would have been any distraction from my end,"

The flip side to this coin. Souray is realizing he's screwed for a job. He could be making Mea Culpa's faster than the temperature dips in Edmonton. We'll be watching this story as close as we can from 1200 km's away


- Jaye



The Great Pacific Preview – Dallas Stars













What Happened Last Year

37-31-14 – 88 points

13th in the Western Conference

5th in the Pacific Division

Over the offseason coming into last season, coach Dave Tippett was ousted from his job as bench boss, and in came Marc Crawford, formerly of the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks. Tippett did not get the job done the year prior with his team finishing 36-35-11. Crawford instilled a more up-tempo and attacking style of play for the Stars, who were more used to playing a stark defensive style under Tippett’s direction.  This looked to be a year of change for the Stars, because a few key icons who had worn the Star on their chest for years were on the verge of leaving. The problem with Crawford’s new up-tempo style of play was that the skill players didn’t catch on right away, and that the Stars were giving up way too many goals against (-17 differential.)

Turco was getting lit up frequently with the lack of consistent defensive help, and Mike Ribeiro and Brad Richards were not working together offensively. This forced young-guns James Neal and Loui Eriksson to take the spotlight on the scoresheet. The team was remarkably inconsistent on both sides of the puck.  They were either on, or they were off. They were not able to get it together in a tough Pacific Division and a top-heavy Western Conference. (Fun Fact: the Dallas Stars finished with the same amount of points that the Philadelphia Flyers did!)

Near the deadline, the Stars made one deal that was clearly done with the future in mind. Since the Stars were stockpiled on prospects, they dealt defenseman Ivan Vishnievsky to the Atlanta Thrashers for disgruntled goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Lehtonen was known for not living up to his draft standing (2nd overall pick in 2002) by being inconsistent and having chronic back issues. But the Stars needed a solution in goal. (Which, to be honest, sounds strange…they have always been good at drafting goalies, but trading them away…)

By the end of the season, the team was still tough enough to force overtime 23 times out of the 82 game season.  Of course, of those 23 times, they lost 14 games, but the Stars showed they were resilient enough to get a point out of games.  Interestingly enough, the shootout went from a tremendous advantage of the Stars to a terrible disadvantage. The Stars lost their most powerful weapons in Jussi Jokinen, and Ribeiro didn’t dazzle quite as much in the shootout this year. Turco was not on in the shootout this year either. But one shootout mattered quite a lot to three certain players.

Let this video paint a picture for you.  It’s fan appreciation night against the Anaheim Ducks.  It’s three iconic Stars’ last game at the American Airlines Center. Mike Modano ties the game up with just a minute and some change left to go.  And then this.

Modano opens up the shootout with his absolutely patented wrist shot.  Lehtinen snipes one past Hiller. Turco makes two great stops. Could it have been scripted any better? But this night signified the complete changing of the guard in Big D.  It was another disappointing season in the books for the Stars, forcing them to force a marketing deal in March called “The Real Deal.” $25 upper level seats, a free James Neal shirt, and Arby’s coupons.  Don’t believe it?



















I took part in “The Real Deal”.

Checking In (Acquisitions)

RW Adam Burish

G Andrew Raycroft

RW Jonathan Cheechoo (tryout)

Checking Out (Departures)

C Mike Modano

RW Jere Lehtinen

G Marty Turco

G Matt Climie

The Season Ahead

Minus the top three familiar faces, the Stars have a lot of weapons to choose from that were around last year. Before this season starts, General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk must sign James Neal and Matt Niskanen. Other than that, this team can expect to be rather middle of the pack, but slightly improved due to the maturation of some players, and the addition of some grit and potential goal scoring ability in Adam Burish and Jonathan Cheechoo. The Stars need to cut down on goals against. They have veteran weapons like Brenden Morrow, Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro, but none are known as standouts on the defensive side of the puck. They will need to rely on their young defense, headlined once again by Stephane Robidas, to try and prevent the biscuit from even coming close to getting in the basket as many times as it did last season.  The Stars will need to rely on maturing defensemen Mark Fistric (+27) and Nicklas Grossman (-3) to be as defensively solid as they were last season. They also need Matt Niskanen to be a whole lot better than he was last season.

Players to Watch













#18 James Neal

Once Neal gets signed, the Western Conference will need to look out. The Stars’ 33rd selection in the 2005 entry draft has turned into a deadly sniper. In his rookie season, he netted 24 goals, and in the following year, he scored 27. He will easily top 30 goals this season with suitable linemates. He may not be the best defensive player, but he reminds me of Mike Modano’s successor. He’s not a flashy player, but he has a wonderful release on his wrist shot.  He is a bona fide scoring threat in all situations, including the shootout.









#41 Jonathan Cheechoo

This was a low risk, high reward move by Nieuwendyk to land Cheechoo on a tryout basis.  He should almost a complete lock-in to make the team on a tryout basis. (If I’m wrong, God help me)  When Cheechoo works with a skilled set-up man, a la Richards or Ribeiro, he can flourish on the offensive side of the puck.  When he worked with Joe Thornton in San Jose, Cheechoo was magical, scoring 56 goals and winning the Rocket Richard Trophy.  Numerous injuries have kept the wily Cheechoo ineffective for the most part, but he still has the tools to score—he just hasn’t had the opportunity to work with people that can set him up.












#21 Loui Eriksson

He is the next Swedish star for the Stars.  Eriksson has quietly put up two very strong seasons in a row, playing all 82 games in each. He’s not quite a point per game player yet, but he is a consistent threat on a nightly basis. The best part for the Stars is that he is still a young player whose point totals are growing with every season.  He has all-around skills, and he plays alongside some nice skilled players. Even better…he’s signed until 2016-17. He’ll be doing this in Big D for some time.










(The AP)

#32 Kari Lehtonen

He’s replacing Marty Turco. He has a lot to prove in Big D.  He was wildly inconsistent in Atlanta, and only led them to the playoffs once. And that only one time resulted in a resounding sweep at the hands of the New York Rangers. The Thrashers haven’t been to the postseason dance since. Lehtonen went 6-4-0 with a 2.81 GAA and .911 save percentage in 12 starts. He will get the resounding majority of the starts for the Stars, so he will need to prove his number one goaltending title, as well as his second overall draft pick status. He’s a big dude who is fundamentally sound. As long as the defense tightens up in front of him, he will have a decent year.

PKLC Prediction

Division Rank: 3rd in Pacific

Conference Rank: 10th in Western Conference

Final Word

This is a big year of maturation for the Dallas Stars. They are having trouble filling seats, but they have some really good players that are worth watching now. Brad Richards may only be around for one more year, James Neal (barring he actually SIGNS a deal as a restricted free agent) will be sniping the top shelf, and Loui Eriksson will be bringing his patented mix of skill and defensive acumen to the table. But the Stars have some really good prospects on the way—their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars, came within two games of uprooting the Hershey Bears for the Calder Cup. The Stars may need to wait a few years until Jamie Benn, Scott Glennie, Loui Eriksson, James Neal, and last but not least, 2010 first rounder Jack Campbell grow together and form the new Stars core. For now, it’s just a growing process.



Lou Hands Over C












Just as we all suspected, Roberto Luongo is no longer captain of the Vancouver Canucks.

I'm not all that surprised, this was a controversial, almost laughable move when he was named two years ago.

Mike Gillis had this to say when he first thought to name him. From

"(head coach) Alain (Vignault) and I were looking for someone to lead this team, who inspires his teammates, is respected for his on-ice accomplishments and who embodies the core values we are striving for as a hockey club

Being a gigantic choke job in the playoffs despite having astounding regular season numbers? Yes, that does sound like the core values of Canucks we all know.

But this begs the question, 'Why Lou? Why did you give it all up?'

Mike Gillis (not Luongo) tells us why.

"He confirmed last night and said he'd rather just focus on stopping the puck," Canucks general manager Mike Gillis told reporters Monday. "He's going to continue with all the leadership stuff he did before but not have the same sort of expectations with the media on game days that has happened the last couple of years.
Cause that HUGE weight of having the 'C' painted on your mask didn't allow you to stop pucks? That you had to talk to the media to tell them WHY Chicago dismantled your team for a second straight year? Did the one audacious reporter even ask why your city threw the team a party after Round One of last years' playoffs? Was the pressure of knowing you had to talk to aforementioned media after the game rattle you? I thought you were one of those 'mentally strong' goalies?

I'd love to know what this 'Leadership stuff' is that Gillis talks about.

The story now shifts to who will get the C next. My personal choice is Ryan Kesler. I have a feeling they'll name Henrik Sedin the next in line. (cause those Art Ross and Hart Trophies that come once ever 10 years are REALLY shiny) They will no doubt over do it, in typical Canucks fashion. (see: Nasuld, Markus. Number Retirement)

More on the New Captain when it's announced.
- Jaye


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Live Blog - Oilers Rookies v. Canucks Rookies

Location: Penticton BC

Time: 4 PST 5 MNT 7 EST

Who to Watch

For Edmonton:

obviously top pick Taylor Hall, who will be on the top line with Milan Kytnar and Jordan Eberle

Magnus Paajarvi - he'll be on the left side with Tyler Pitlick and Mr. Always at Oilers Camp Phillipe Cornet

For Vancouver:

Bill Sweat - just for his awesome name, I know nothing else about him or any of the Vancouver rookies


3:56 pst

Turns out this is a Rookie Tournament put on by the Canucks, the other teams participating are Calgary, San Jose and Anaheim

still 3 mins till puck drop, I hear Peter Loubardius is doing play by play, this will be SOME KINDA game


4:00 pst

College friend Tommy G. just interviewed Jordan Eberle, I have obviously picked the wrong career path

whoever is in charge of the mics in this damn game need a smack upside the head, there is HUGE echo going on

Gene Principe is doing this game, there is no man alive that hates Gene.

Anthem time, this game is about to go down


4:02 pst

Ceremonial Puck drop, Eberle just snubbed the hand shake, Kris Draper isn't amused


Puck drop, Hall gets dropped, colour me surprised

4:05 pst

Cornet with the chance, tried to stuff it in there, save by Leak

Oilers cycling well here.

The sound on this cast sucks

4:07 pst

Oilers doing well getting pucks into Lack.

Sweat and Schroeder on the ice for Van

Hall had some nice speed coming off the side boards, shot was kicked away, Eberle wasn't there for the rebound

4:10 pst

Pajaarvi with the garbage goal 1-0 Edm

ok this sound is actually unbearable to listen to, cracking mics all over the place

4:13 pst

Canucks were controlling the play, top lines are against eachother.

the Pajaarvi - Pitlick - Cornet line has gotten some big chances in this game.

4:16 pst

and now the sound has gone from high to low..Get it right Web guys, maybe they did

Canucks had a 2 on 1, broken up

80's Oilers reference count 1

4:22 pst

Roy standing tall here for the Oilers

4:24 pst

Canucks with the equalizer, Kevin Connauton with a goal from the point, a wrister Roy would like back 1-1

The feed seems to have died, and I can't keep this up with players I can't name..

we'll call this a success

- Jaye



First Live Blog of the Season

Yes, it's only pre season, and it's only a rookie game, but we're going to give this live blogging thing a shot.

Tonight it's the Canucks rookies v. Oiler rookies in Penticton.

Thanks the Dan Tencer, we've got the line ups for tonight.


Taylor Hall - Milan Kytnar - Jordan Eberle

Magnus Paajarvi - Tyler Pitlick - Phillipe Cornet

Curtis Hamilton - Chris Vande Velde - Kristians Pelss

Teemu Hartikainen - Ryan Martindale - Cameron Abney

Martin Marincin – Nolan Toigo

Brandon Davidson - Alex Plante

Johan Motin - Jeremie Blain


Olivier Roy


Bill Sweatt – Jordan Schroeder- Kevin Clark

Prab Rai – Alex Friesen – Matt Fraser

Aaron Volpatti – Stefan Schneider – Kellan Tochkin

Pierre-Olivier Morin – Brad Smith – Dan Gendur


Evan Oberg – David Fischer

Kevin Connauton – Chris Tanev

Taylor Ellington – Adam Polasek


Eddie Lack

Michael Houser


HALL!! EBERLE!! SWEATT!! can you feel the excitement?! (is Prab Rai the best name or what?!)

Game starts at 4 pm PST.

- Jaye

Saturday, September 11, 2010

When Sport Didn't Matter

Today is September 11th.

10 years ago, this was just another day. Another day at work, school, a day like any other day.

In 2001. That all changed.

From a Canadian perspective, we saw our once indestructible neighbour at her knees.

Like the rest of the world, we were helpless.

I can remember I was in grade 8. I, like many others my age, had never heard of the World Trade Centre. But we all realized that the world would be changed forever.

I was in English class, it was sometime in the afternoon, in every other class that day, we had the tv on cnn and watched the coverage of a nation in shock and trying to come to grips with what had happened.

Our teacher said nothing except "For the rest of your lives, people will ask you, where were you when." He continued on with his lesson plan.

That day, sport didn't matter.

It didn't matter who you cheered for or what sport you watched.

We were all united as one team.

Take a moment out of your day today to remember the lives lost today, 9 years ago.
















- Jaye



Friday, September 10, 2010

Mueller Signs - Avs Nation rejoices

From Bob Mckenzie:

Twitter : Bob McKenzie: Peter Mueller agrees to te ..._1284155000999.png






It only took the entire summer, but it's finally done. The cap hit @ 2 mil is an absolute STEAL. If he flops, they're not shelling out huge money for well..Darcy Tucker 2.0

If he continues the streak he went on last season, once again people sing the praises of Greg Sherman for a bargain signing. (think Craig Anderson last season)

While it is a raise for Mueller, there isn't a ton of pressure on him to 'perform to his contract.'

Add Mueller's name to a long list of Avalanche not signed past 2012 (minus Paul Stastny) either the Avs know something we don't (lockout?) or if this 'rebuild' doesn't work in two years, they shed contracts and start again? Feel free to steal a Canuck fans' tin foil hat and list your conspiracy theories in the comment section.


One more hold out signed today. Andrew Cogliano re-signed in Edmonton. From The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson:

Twitter : Jim Matheson: Cogliano's 1 year deal at ..._1284156327555.png






A good deal for Edmonton in the way that if he has another lame duck season, they're not paying out the nose for him. Already in his 3rd NHL year, only making a million? If I'm Cogliano, this is a wake up call for me to step my game up, or be a third line plug for the rest of my career.

As always, feel free to berate us on twitter (our twitter names are to the right) or drop a comment.

- Jaye

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Gargamel Teams up with the Smurfs

Yesterday it was announced that the Rangers have signed 20 year old Kelsey Tessier, drafted in the 4th round in 2008 by the Colorado Avalanche. Tessier has spent the last four seasons in the QMJHL,  most spent with the Quebec Remparts until a late season move to Moncton last season. Tessier has shown some great scoring ability in the QMJHL with an astounding playoff performance last season for the Moncton Wildcats putting up 30 points in 21 games played. 

Now let me wipe the smiles off all of the Ranger fans faces by letting everyone know this move isn't even a good depth move by the Rangers. Tessier is essentially the next Darren Haydar, a player Avalanche fans became familiar with last season, a player who impresses at the lower level but doesn't have enough skill to overcome his small size. The major problem with this acquisition is Tessier is not the only small player on the Rangers. They also signed Mats Zuccarelo Aasen this offseason, the only player who I think can overcome his size, and Tim Kennedy who is also of small stature. Though lets take Tessier out of the equation because he is destined for the AHL, but this still brings up the point of the Rangers size.

If Mats Zuccarelo Aasen makes the team seven Rangers will be under 6' tall: Avery, Callahan, Drury, Kennedy, Prust, White, and Zuccarelo Aasen. To put that in to perspective I will use my favorite team, the Colorado Avalanche, as an example. Die hard NHL fans know how the Avs have been an undersized finesse team for a while and even they are only likely to have 4 guys under 6' tall on the ice for opening night. None of the Rangers small guys have Martin St. Louis or Sidney Crosby talent and the only one who plays considerably bigger than his size is Callahan. Of the top teams in the Atlantic only Pittsburgh ices a team as small as the Rangers but no one will contest that majority of the Pens smaller players would be top line players for the Rangers. 

I recently did my season preview for the Rangers and I did not make an issue of their size and I still feel the Rangers will grab one of the final playoff spots in the east. Though come playoff time I believe the Rangers will be physically worn making for a very easy 1st round for whoever their opponent may be. Oh and my final thought on the day (reason for the title of the article)...when Derek Boogaard is skating around with the other players during pregame who else thinks it's going to look like Gargamel chasing the Smurfs around?

- Stephen

What's In A Name









Recently, we've had some confusion as to what 'kind' of blog we are.

Are we Hawks fans?

Are we slightly biased?

Do we hire monkeys to write our posts?

1) Are we Hawks fans?

While I'm sure we all (minus Jordan & Evelyn) appreciate the fact that the Blackhawks won the cup after 49 long years of futility. We're not diehard Chicago fans. The fact we use Chicago colours is purely for aesthetic value.

1b) Why use Patrick Kane as part of your blog name, if you're not Chicago fans?

Seeing as we're brining you a league wide blog, we wanted a name that all fans could relate to. (Pronger's Power Tools was too much alliteration) Even the Hawks fans I've talked to get a kick out of this incident. Bottom line, I didn't want an inside joke or meme as a title that only a few people and fan bases understood.

2) Are we slightly biased?

Yes. Despite being a 'league wide' blog, we each have the teams we root for, and teams we just can't bring ourselves to write anything nice about. But we'll try.

3) Do we hire monkeys to write our posts?

do we look like Red Wing fans? (I said we'd try to be nice)

Hope we've cleared up any misconceptions about PKLC!

- Jaye


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Crosby Socks Dinger

Something that doesn't happen very often at PNC park in Pittsburgh happened today.


What can't Crosby do.

Where was the Jose Bautista call out? like his rival calling out Tiger

Apologies for the garbage Ovechkin video, the HQ one didn't allow embedding.

(more team previews coming soon)

- Jaye

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Great Atlantic Preview - Pittsburgh Penguins

With the hockey season on its way, we at PKLC have decided to do previews from as many teams as we can (if we still care about it after 14 days) today we continue in the Atlantic Division, and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

What Happened Last Year













47-28-7 - 101 pts

4th in Eastern Conference

2nd in Atlantic Division

Coming off their 3rd Stanley Cup win, and second straight trip to the Finals, no one had played more hockey over the past two seasons than the Penguins. (ok..maybe the Wings played just as much) Coming into the season, not only were they the defending champs, but also their last season in the oldest barn in the NHL, Mellon Arena. Despite the fact they lost defencemen Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi, two integral parts in their cup winning team, they were the experts pick - if not to repeat - to go deep into the playoffs. Their season didn't start out like they had hoped, dropping a 3-0 decision to the Coyotes. Divison rival New Jersey Devils once again had their way with the Pens, winning all 6 meetings against the club, as did Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals, winning all 4 games by a combined score of 20-13. The Big Three in Pittsburgh had up and down seasons. Evgeni Malkin still racked up an impressive 77 points while only playing 67 games, though it was a far cry from his Art Ross winning 113 points of the season before. Sidney Crosby vowed to work on his goal scoring. All he did was lead the league, potting an impressive 51 goals, (tied with Tampa's Steven Stamkos) a race that was hard fought right to the final games of the regular season. Jordan Staal was the model of consistency. The hard nosed third liner matched his previous season's point totals, but set a career high in assists with 28. Pittsburgh sent 5 players to the Olympics in Vancouver, Crosby and Malkin, along with defenceman Brooks Orpik and Sergei Gonchar represented their homelands. Goalie Marc Andre Fleury also made the trip, but didn't see any ice time as Canada's third string goalie. We all know who scored the winning goal for Canada.

GM Ray Shero was quiet at this years trade deadline compared to those of the past. He plucked Alexi Ponikarovsky from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for prospect Luca Caputi and Martin Skoula. (who then moved Skoula to New Jersey for a draft pick) Ponikarovsky effectively flopped in Pittsburgh, playing on the second line with Evgeni Malkin, scoring only 9 points in 16 games and was pretty much invisible in the playoffs ( check out that segue)

The Pens made the playoffs for a third consecutive year, and for the 3rd time ('07 '08 '10) in 4 playoffs, they met the Ottawa Senators. The Pens took the 'never say die' Sens to 6 games where they finally beat them. But it was triple overtime game 5 that was the story of this series, with Matt Carkner bringing the series back to Ottawa.

Round two brought the upstart Montreal Canadiens. Fresh off a 7 game upset of the Presidents Trophy winning Washington Capitals, their sights were set on the defending champs. They also brought former Penguin Hal Gill, who won a cup with the Pens in the season prior. With the exception of games 1 (6-3 pens win and the loss of Andrei Markov with a hard, clean Matt Cooke hit. I talked pretty big after this game, rubbing it in to my Habs fan friend) and game 7 (5-2 montreal, in which the pens couldn't have given less of a damn) this series was quite close. The Canadiens ended the Penguins quest for a repeat at Mellon Arena, in the same way it was opened, with a Canadiens win, despite the heroics of Jordan Staal, who returned to the ice days after surgery to repair a sliced tendon in his foot.


This offseason was uncharacteristically longer than the past two for the team. The upcoming season is one filled with optimism on many levels. The team once again looks strong, and the City of Pittsburgh and the Penguins welcome the new arena, the Consol Energy Center.









Do I Get To Live With Mario? (key additions)

Mike Comrie

Paul Martin

Zbynek Michalek

Both Martin and Michalek will soften the blow left by the departure of Gonchar, and will also add some grit on the back end, as Books Orpik was really their only physical defenseman. Mike Comrie is a versatile winger who signed for league minimum after spending a less than stellar year in Edmonton. Look for his numbers to improve playing on one of the top two lines.

Going Back Across the Bridge(key departures)

Sergei Gonchar

Ruslan Fedotenko

Jay Mckee

Bill Guerin

While Gonchar was the teams PP quarterback, look for Alex Gologoski or Kris Letang to fill the void on the blue. I think Guerin will be the biggest loss to the team. While his numbers suffered last season, he was no doubt a great veteran presence in the locker room. He was seen working out with the Flyers this past week, much to the chagrin of Pens fans world wide.

The Season Ahead

Look for the Pens to be much more physical on the back end, as I noted above, Martin and Michalek will add to a corps that already includes Orpik. Ben Lovejoy (yes, his real name) is looking to crack the pro roster after being recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season and showing promise. Centre is still their most dominate position, and will be for sometime as Crosby, Malkin and Staal are all sticking around for the foreseeable future. There has been talk of moving Staal to the second line, and playing wing. As I noted in an earlier post, Max Talbot and Tyler Kennedy will have to be strong coming out of camp.

Looking to Lead(these will be no brainers)















Sidney Crosby - I know, an easy pick. The sky is the limit with Sid. If he really wanted to, he could lead the league in PIMs. Anything less than 100 points for Crosby will be analyzed 50 times over













(getty images)

Jordan Staal - The most compelling part of this season for Staal is how he will handle a possible promotion to second line, and switch to wing. He's done it before, but being a natural centre, will it be for an extended period of time, or will Coach Bylsma flip flop between Staal and our next player to watch.










Evgeni Malkin - He had, by almost everyones accounts, a terrible season last year. As I said above, being limited to 64 games with a shoulder injury doesn't help. He still put up an impressive 77 points, but certainly not what we've seen he can do.















Marc Andre Fleury - the biggest problem with 'Flower' seems to be his consistency. During the playoffs he certainly seemed to be missing a step. An .891 sv% and 2.78 GAA put him in 8th and 9th respectively among playoff goalies. He's notoriously shaky during the regular season.

The PKLC Prediction

3rd in Eastern Conference

1st in Atlantic Division

Lose in Eastern Final (if it's a Flyers/Pens ECF, that'll be a battle)


Finally, a great video from our friends at Benstonium. Celebrating the life of the Mellon Arena


Did you shed a man tear there? If you didn't, you're dead inside.

- Jaye

(as always, feel free to drop a comment, or badger us on twitter)

The Blogs Namesake Throws Down

Before we get to the fun stuff, I'd like to thank everyone who visited PKLC over the weekend, we had some BIG posts from Jordan and Stephan, and even BIGGER visitor numbers. You guys are THE REASON we write, so THANK YOU for taking an interest. 

I wouldn't call these two actors by any stretch of the imagination, but when Patrick Kane is on a video, you click and you watch. Jonathan Toews, well he makes Sidney Crosby look like an Oscar winning actor with this performance. Here are the cover athletes of the last two NHL video games doing battle and talking shit

Promotes NHL 11 (which is out today, you should all buy it) and promotes a team that might need some image polishing after a summer in which half the team went to Atlanta. It also gives me something to post today. Everybody Wins.

For those of you on the Peter Muelller Watch, no, he still isn't signed, but Joe Yerdon over at Pro Hockey Talk has his thoughts on the matter, so be sure to check that out. The blog is in the roll to the right.

Exactly ONE MONTH till the regular season puck drops..get excited!!

Working on the Pittsburgh Penguins season preview. It should be out later tonight or tomorrow.

- Jaye

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Great Atlantic Preview – Philadelphia Flyers







What Happened Last Year

2009-2010 Record: 41-35-6

3rd in Atlantic Division

7th in Eastern Conference

It took the wildly up-and-down Philadelphia Flyers up until not only the final game against the New York Rangers, but a shootout in said final game to make it into the playoffs as the seventh seed.  Before the season started, it was an absolute expectation that the Flyers would make the playoffs easily—after all, it was The Hockey News that picked them to win it all this past season.

GM Paul Holmgren looked to potentially solidify the goaltending position by signing Ray Emery to a one year deal, and to anchor the defense by acquiring the gargantuan Chris Pronger by sending Luca Sbisa, Joffrey Lupul and two first round picks to Anaheim.

The Orange and Black started off their season rather well. Returning coach John Stevens seemed to have the team under control and playing a bit more of an uptempo game than before.  But then the team took an absolute tailspin in December. Mike Richards’ leadership qualities were tested and scrutinized, and every goaltender under the sun for the Flyers became injured.

After falling to 14th in the Eastern Conference, and becoming the team that was the easiest to beat in the entire NHL for two weeks, Holmgren pulled the trigger on replacing John Stevens with Peter Laviolette. Laviolette’s promised a different Flyers team, but for the first few weeks, that seemed like a statement full of hot air. Something was seriously wrong.

Holmgren decided to take a real stab in the dark, to bring in a journeyman to become a stopgap at goal: Michael Leighton. The Flyers turned their season around with a strong performance by Leighton in Tampa Bay, defeating the Lightning 5-2.  It felt like their first win in forever.  Suddenly, Leighton was stopping so many pucks, the Flyers were actually able to win games consecutively.

They became the hottest team in the NHL, climbing to as high as 5th in the East around the Olympic break. That break took the Flyers down a notch, becoming a .500 team until the end. But it was that fated shootout, and “the save by [Brian] Boucher” that propelled the team into the playoffs.

The Flyers rolled over Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils in five games in the first round. It seemed like there was no contest, and the team was playing at their best, even when losing Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne in the span of one game.

They then proceeded to stun the hockey world by making history against the Boston Bruins.  The O&B fell to 3-0 in the series, but never gave up. Boucher won game four, and Leighton came back after a freak injury to Boucher to win games five, six and eventually seven, after being 3-0 down in game seven alone.  You knew then that this team was special.

The Flyers proceeded to roll over the Cinderella Story Montreal Canadiens in five games, capturing the Prince of Wales Trophy, and the title of Eastern Conference Champions.

However, a tough Stanley Cup Finals for Richards and the Flyers ended in defeat against the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. Michael Leighton ran out of magic, Chris Pronger tired out after playing 30 minutes every game, Carter and Gagne couldn’t regain their scoring touches coming back from injury, and Daniel Briere’s historic 30-point performance in the playoffs came to an astounding halt.

Eastern Conference Champions, as well as a bitter aftertaste of the season was all the Flyers could take from this past season.

Checking In (Acquisitions)

RW Nikolai Zherdev

LW Jody Shelley

D Andrej Meszaros

D Sean O’Donnell

D Matt Walker

Checking Out (Departures)

LW Simon Gagne

D Lukas Krajicek

LW Riley Cote

The Season Ahead

Largely untouched, other for the fact that longtime winger Simon Gagne has moved on, the Eastern Conference Champions build is mostly the exact same. The center core of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, Claude Giroux and Blair Betts are still there. While a few may have to move to wing to accommodate the backup at the center position, it’s certainly a good problem to have.

The Flyers can build on becoming a more consistent team that can play at a high level, like they did in the playoffs. Laviolette’s uptempo system worked very well for the forecheck-heavy Flyers, and a full season under his direction will only set the Flyers in a better direction than the slacking one that John Stevens had the team under.

The Flyers’ acquisitions on D were clearly to make sure that Chris Pronger would not play 30 minutes a night and become absolutely worn out when he was clearly needed at the end of the road. He certainly did a commendable job in that position, but it showed he was out of gas entirely.

Two big questions come to mind with this team: was Michael Leighton’s last season a fluke? And what will the ever-enigmatic Nikolai Zherdev do in terms of production for this year’s Flyers team?

Otherwise, smooth sailing for the Orange and Black this year…we hope. Anything is smooth sailing compared to last year! Who to Watch














C Daniel Briere

We never got the best dose of Danny Briere until this past playoff run. In his first season in the City of Brotherly Love, he put up 72 points (apparently that sucked by fan standards), missed most of his second year, and in his third, he ended up with 53 points, partially blamed to bad linemates and personal issues. But did he ever pick it up for the Flyers in the playoffs.  Mr. Playoffs, affectionately dubbed, put up 12 goals, 18 assists for 30 points and a plus-9 while working alongside wingers Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino. If Briere can not only find a way to play center for the entire year, as he is more comfortable there, and rekindle his chemistry with Hartnell and Leino, look out Eastern Conference, he will easily put up 90+ points.












RW Nikolai Zherdev

There’s not much to say about this enigmatic winger for the Flyers. He has big shoes to fill, filling in as Simon Gagne’s replacement. But the dude has some serious puckhandling skills. He could be a key cog in the powerplay or the shootout. If he can put it together, Zherdev will look like one of Holmgren’s more genius moves.











C Claude Giroux

This player is on the cusp of greatness…as well as on the cusp of a Restricted Free Agency year. The 22-year-old forward from Hearst, Ontario didn’t exactly dazzle in this past year with the expectations put on him, ending up with 47 points. He showed those occasional flashes of greatness—sickening dekes and unbelievable passes—but not all the time. It seemed like in the playoffs, he started to put the pieces together. He ended up anchoring the third line all year, but he made his linemates Arron Asham and James van Riemsdyk very productive in the process. Giroux ended with 21 points (10 G, 11 A) in 23 playoff games. We’ll never forget the goal in game 3 that gave us Flyers fans hope. 610 WIP’s Tim Saunders’ excitement when that moment happened will always be one of those moments that brings a smile to my face. Anyway, Giroux is on the verge of greatness—is this the year he puts it together?

PKLC Prediction

Division Rank – 2nd in Atlantic

Conference Rank – 4th in East

Playoffs – Stanley Cup Champions (yeah, that’s right)

Final Word

The Flyers have the pieces in place, and the bad taste in their mouths to know what it takes to win. If Leighton can become more consistent and not buckle under the extreme pressure, the Flyers have the offensive and defensive weapons to make it happen in the playoffs. They can easily challenge Washington or Pittsburgh, should they show up in their path.



The Great Atlantic Preview - The New York Rangers

With the hockey season on its way, we at PKLC have decided to do previews from as many teams as we can (if we still care about it after 14 days) today we switch divisions, moving to the Atlantic. As we move, we also welcome a new writer, Stephen Crociata








What Happened Last Year

2009-10 Record: 38-33-11 - 87 pts

4th in Atlantic

9th in Eastern Conference

Just like every other NY team the Rangers go into every season expecting to make the playoffs and early on in the 2009-2010 season it looked like the Rangers would have no problem getting to the post season. Starting 7-1 through 8 games everything was clicking for the Rangers but they were unable to keep it up. For much of the season the Rangers battled themselves more than their opponents as they were unable to put together consistent impressive performances. For instance on Jan 17th and 19th they beat Montreal 6-2 and Tampa Bay 8-2, but in the next two games they were outscored 8-0. The Rangers tried to battle back at the end of the season winning three of their last four but finished one point behind Montreal for the 8th and final spot in the playoffs.

The most obvious problem of the 2009-2010 Rangers was the lack of a secondary scorer. Marian Gaborik was able to stay healthy and out up over a pt per game but no one else topped 60 points.Rookie D-Man Michael Del Zotto had a promising season with 37 points but he lacked defensively and posted a +/- of -20 for the season. No Rangers D-man was able to top 10 goals and only Gaborik had more than 20. The most hated man in hockey, Sean Avery, was much more a problem for the Rangers in 09-10 than a solution . He constantly got himself penalized in bad situations and cost the team on multiple occasions.

Not only did the Rangers fail once again to win the Atlantic Division (last time was '94 when they won the cup)  but they failed to crack the 90 pt mark and missed the playoffs for the first time since 03-04.

Welcome to Broadway (Acquisitions)

Tim Kennedy

Alexander Frolov

Derek Boogaard

Mats Zuccarello Aasen

Steve Eminger

Martin Biron

Close the Curtain on (Departures)

PA Parenteau

Jody Shelley

Alex Auld

Aaron Voros

Donald Brashear

Patrick Rissmiller

The Season Ahead

The Rangers office may not be filled with the brightest bulbs, paging Mr. Sather, but they know the fans who come to the Garden every night expected changes after a season of no playoffs and they may not have brought in any of the big names but they did try to compliment what they already had. The additions of Frolov and Zuccarelo Aasen should put a little less pressure on Gaborik. Gaborik MUST be healthy all season as he was in 09-10, and this should be interesting since he hasnt started 70+ games since his first 3 years in the NHL. The acquisition of Steve Eminger should add a non dead weight veteran D-man to a group who can't afford to add any more dead weight. This season may wind up being more of a bridge to a big season next year but either way Ranger fans will not be content with missing the playoffs two years in a row so this team must find a way.

Looking to Lead








Henrik Lundqvist- Hank has been eeriely consistent over his 1st 5 NHL seasons and he is one of the top goalies in the NHL. The Rangers will look to Lundqvist for another one of his great seasons and lead them back into the playoffs. The smallest hiccup or, godforbid for Ranger fans, an injury to Hank would end the Rangers season.










Marian Gaborik- The teams biggest, and possibly only, scorer will need to learn how to be a leader this season if the Rangers have a chance to make a deep run into the playoffs. During his time with the Adjectives (Wild) Gabby was often criticized for not taking igniative as a leader.











Chris Drury- Drury lost a lot of fans last season putting up the worst numbers of his career. He still (for the time being) wears the C for the Rangers and should want to prove that he deserves it. (Ed. Note: As with all Chris Drury mentions, we have to mention he played Little League and pitched his Trumbull team to a Little League World Series win, back to Stephen)










Vinny Prospal- Prospal is a veteran who the young Rangers responded well to last season if he can stay healthy I'm sure he will carry the same into next season.










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Ryan Callahan- This gritty winger is a fan favorite and although doesn't put up huge numbers he has what it takes to be a major factor as a leader on NY.









Mats Zuccarello Aasen- Personally my favorite player from the 2010 Olympic games, Zuccarello Aaasen (Thank God his whole name will appear on his jersey) takes his impressive scoring ability from Modo to the Rangers. It will be interesting to see how his game forms in the NHL.








Alexander Frolov- After his worst statistical output this past year Frolov looks to rebound in a new home and prove the doubters wrong.




















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Marc Staal and Dan Girardi- Of course assuming Staal gets signed these two young D-Men carry a defense which has some dead weight on it (Rozsival and Redden). These two playing the game the way they have over the last 3 years is essential for the Rangers success.


The PKLC Prediction

The Rangers may be the 4th best team in their division but that doesn't necessarily mean they are going to miss the playoffs again.

Division Rank - 4th 93 pts

Conference Rank - 8th

Playoffs - Eliminated in 1st Round


-Stephen Crociata (@SCrociata)