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.
The Florida Panthers weren't expected to be contenders in this year's playoffs. The team had been completely overhauled last summer under their still-new-car-smell GM; they had a new coach who was going to have his first year as an NHL coach. So long as the team climbed out of the league basement, anything else was gravy.
Yet they have pushed the NJ Devils to the brink of elimination in the first round.
The Devils have one of the defining goalies of the NHL in their net: Martin Brodeur, a goalie who is so good that the league changed the rules because of him - the implementation of the trapezoid, which came to be known as the "Brodeur rule". The las...
The Detroit Red Wings have one chance to make a statement to fellow playoff-runners, the New Jersey Devils. Tonight will be the lone time that the Wings and Devils will meet. After last season’s run and comparing their teams this season, it will be an interesting match-up.
Last season, Detroit won two of the only games played against the Devils. The Devils were able to score one goal each game, while the Wings soared at three and four goals a game. However, the season for the Wings has been a roller coaster. With recent injuries, the Wings have not been playing their best. The Wings have had a 4-4-2 record in their last ten games, while the Devils are looking a lot better with...
The Flyers recent offensive woes are coming at the worst of times with the final month of hockey underway.
One goal is not going to win a team many hockey games and that was the case tonight. Finding the net only once, the Flyers dropped an important Atlantic Division game to the Devils, 4-1, Sunday night.
Martin Broduer was barely tested all game by the Flyers, making 18 saves, including 4-of-5 in the third period.
Making the start in net for Philadelphia was Sergei Bobrovsky, who hasn't played in nearly a month (February 18). He answered the call early, stifling New Jersey's early pressure as the first period began to wind down.
It is still a long shot, but the Islanders have once again pulled themselves into playoff conversation with a 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Kyle Okposo scored the lone goal for the Isles while Anders Nilsson earned his first NHL win with a 24-save shutout performance that earned him first star honors on the night.
"Today I think all the guys out there put up a great job for me," said Nilsson. "The first two periods, I only had 12 shots and they blocked a lot of shots and when they got a shot through it was from the boards. They made it real easy for me to play out there today. They helped me out a lot."
Okposo concurred with Nilsson's belief that the Islanders played one of their best defensive games of the year, rivaling their previous defensive win over the Boston Bruins the night before.
The New Jersey Devils are in town tonight to face-off against the Montreal Canadiens for the second time in a week. The Devils are currently riding a three-game win streak that they will be looking to add to, while the Canadiens squad will hope to bounce back after a heart-breaking 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday
The big story heading in to a game between the Devils and Canadiens is usually about how Martin Brodeur unstoppable in the Bell Centre. While that may be true, something else is stealing the headlines on this day.
The Montreal Canadiens will be looking to get back in the win-column in New Jersey on Saturday afternoon as they visit the Prudential Center to face-off with the Devils. The Canadiens have lost three of their last four in a shootout, including Thursday nights 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Neither team has been hugely successful heading into Saturday's game, with both clubs amassing only 29 points on the season so far. The Devils do hold a slight advantage though, with two games in hand and going 5-5-0 in their last ten games compared to Montreal, who have gone 3-3-4. The Devils will be looking to win a third straight game against an opponent from the No...
It's getting to that point during the season where you can tell if a team is for real or not.
For the Detroit Red Wings, they are currently looking like a team that will be in the playoff picture, but the question is whether or not they will make some noise or not, both in the big dance and on the trade market.
For a team overview, Detroit has clearly said they are looking for a championship because that is what Nicklas Lidstrom was promised when he re-signed with the Wings in the offseason, so a big move is not out of the question.
Unlike many Detroit fans, I think they do not need a defenceman. Names like Shea Weber and Ryan Suter have been thrown around, but what ...