As hockey fans gear up for the Western and Eastern Conference Finals, a few common themes among the remaining teams resonates: trap style play, tight checking, and a reliance on elite goaltending. Every year after the Stanley Cup is lifted, the champs are analyzed as to why they won, and other teams then spend time scouting youngsters and spend cap space on UFAs that resemble the Cup winning roster. The NHL is definitely a copy cat league. For the past five years, teams have been trying to mimic the style of play of the Red Wings, Penguins, and Blackhawks. After all, why wouldn't want you to copy what wins? But take a look at the puck possession-like teams that are eliminated: Detroit, Chicago, San Jose, Vancouver, Pittsburgh. Both Conference Finals will send shock waves through the NHL, and the Red Wings better be paying attention.
After Mike Babcock's puck possession team lost to the Oilers in '06, their style of play didn't change at the root, however; they were told me be more physical and work harder in the dirty areas. That paid off the next three years by making to the Conference Finals in '07, Winning it all in '08, and coming within 1 goal at a chance to win it all again in '09. Now, it sure seems Red Wing hockey needs to be re-evaluated. Ken Holland and Mike Babcock should be watching every game of the playoffs from here on out. The Western Finals have been settled, and it will feature the Phoenix Coyotes and the LA Kings. These two teams skate hard, trap, are defensively responsible, and heavily rely on their goaltenders to steal games. (By the way, is it not a coincidence that the year Phoenix lets Bryzgalov go they make it this far? He's never been a proven playoff goalie, and probably never will be.) The same goes in the East; The Devils (who are the definition of the trap) are waiting to face either the New York Rangers or the Washington Capitals. The Rangers have consistently been a defensively disciplined team with a couple of decent scoring lines, but overall block tons of shots and make things easy for their world class goalie Henrik Lundquist. The Capitals on the other hand, were born a puck possession team when they inherited forwards Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin. Since Dale Hunter took over as head coach, he has somehow got them to play a style of hockey whereby no all-stars are praised, but an entire team can reap rewards from teamwork. Players like Jay Beagle, Matt Hendricks, and Joel Ward are laying their bodies on the line for their coach, and Ovechkin is learning a valuable lesson.
2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Eastern Conference SemifinalsNew York Rangers ( 1 ) vs. Washington Capitals ( 7 ) It's not surprising that the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals got to the second round, it's how the got here. The Rangers were taken to the bring of elimination against an eighth seeded Ottawa Senators team who, let's face it, probably had no business being in the playoffs in the first place. The Capitals were not favorites in their series against the Boston Bruins, and had their own troubles on their way to a 7th place finish in the regular season, but with the talent they had, and a ridiculous hot rookie goaltender in Braden Holtby they d...
Not a lot of people expected the Ottawa Senators to be one of only two Canadian teams that managed to make the playoffs this season. In fact, in the "normal" NHL universe, the Canadiens and Sens would probably be in each others positions. The Sens started the season with people assuming they were at the beginning of a rebuild, with GM Bryan Murray half-blowing things up the prior off-season. But then something happened. The Sens top players started playing like... well... top players. Alfredsson was on his game as rumors of retirement grew bigger and bigger. Jason Spezza became a dominant center once again. And the...
This week, much to the sadness and/or delight of many Canadiens' fans, is the last of 2011-12. Last week, the Habs surrendered all three of their games, two in the shootout and one in regulation time against the Rangers.
It was a frustrating night for the Detroit Red Wings...again.
Ryan Callahan scored the OT winner with a perfect assist from Michael Del Zotto to give the Wings their sixth consecutive loss. So what went wrong?
The Wings showed a poor display of defense tonight, especially in the third period, leaving Callahan with 8 total shots on goal. The Wings also looked very slow in the third, leaving Ty Conklin virtually all by himself in the net.
But that wouldn't phase Conklin too much as he had 32 saves along with .942 save percentage in the game. Safe to say he was the Wings strongest player tonight.
The Wings were scored on in their first penalty kill attempt, but th...
The New York Islanders went from potential playoff contenders to looking towards next season within 48 hours earlier this week.
Having the best team in the Eastern Conference coming into your building after being shutout in their last game, isn’t what the doctor ordered.
After two terrible performances against Ottawa and Buffalo on Monday and Tuesday, the Islanders welcome in their cross-river rivals the New York Rangers on Friday Night.
The Rangers are leading the Eastern Conference with 81 points, 7 points ahead of both New Jersey and Boston. They travel to Long Island after being blanked by the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 on Tuesday night. Henrik Lundqvist continued his stellar play making 29 saves in the losing effort. After an 8-1-1 stretch, the Rangers have lost two of their last three games.
One of the exciting things about the NHL All-Star Game, and perhaps, it's uniqueness so to say is the fact it touches back on our childhood.
Remember the days of playing pick-up hockey, or sports for that matter. You throw your sticks into the circle and someone would randomly toss a stick to each side and that would be the team you played for that day.
Well, unfortunately there will be no sticks in the ring but the sentiment is still there. Tonight at 8 PM, the NHL will hold it's second All-Star Game under the new formula: a draft-style that enables two captains to choose which all-stars they want on their squad.
The All-Star Game is meant to be fun, not competi...
As Claude Giroux’s beautiful backhanded flip went over the shoulder of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Philadelphia’s Winter Classic seemed like it would be a total success. The Flyers had taken a 2-0 lead on Giroux’s team-high 18th goal in front of their home fans. In Citizens Bank Park, the majority of almost 47,000 people were ecstatic.
With just 5:39 remaining in the second period, the Flyers were in the driver’s seat to victory.
Instead, they let the Rangers sit behind the wheel for the last 35 minutes en route to a 3-2 New York victory.
Mike Rupp scored his second goal of the season just 30 seconds after Giroux’s pretty tally which brought New York within a goal after two periods. A little under three minutes into the third period, Rupp doubled his season goal total and tied the game at 2-2.