Archive for May, 2010

Stanley Cup Finals dredges up Thrasherville ghosts of trade-failures past

As we await the start of this year’s Stanley Cup Finals Saturday night, no doubt many of you have already taken into consideration the connection the Thrashers have with both the Flyers and Blackhawks.

Namely…Marian Hossa for Chicago and Braydon Coburn for Philly.

Both of those players used to wear Thrashers uniforms and both represent painful chapters in Thrasherville history.

First Hossa…who as you know came to Atlanta when Dany Heatley told Don Waddell he wanted out just prior to the 2005-06 season. He came this way from Ottawa along with Greg DeVries and played a major part in helping the Thrashers qualify for their one-and-only post-season appearance in 2007. But as the “Epic Fail” that was the 2007-08 season played out, it was clear he wanted nothing to do with this organization after his contractual obligation here ending that summer.

Marian Hossa will be playing in his third straight Cup Finals since being traded from Atlanta (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

Marian Hossa will be playing in his third straight Cup Finals since being traded from Atlanta (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

He was traded …

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Flyers will face Blackhawks in Stanley Cup Finals

Greeting from the beaches of Florida. Well, for me it’s really from “poolside”…the Divine Mrs. R is more of a beach-goer.Rawhide_Vacation_510

Anywhoo…given that I am “technically” away on vacation, I’ll keep this short and sweet.

The Flyers ended Montreal’s wild playoff ride by downing the Canadian’s 4-2 Monday night and winning the series 4 games to 1. They will now face the Western Conference champion Chicago Blackhawks, who did away with the San Jose Sharks in a four-game sweep.

With the win, Michael Leighton is now 6-1 in the playoffs since taking over for Brian Boucher and has a .948 SV% and 1.45 GAA with 3 shutouts. Chicago’s Antti Niemi is 12-4 with a .921 SV%, 2.33 GAA and 2 SO.

Jonathan Toews leads all skaters in postseason with 26 overall points, (7 goals and 19 assists), while Philadelphia’s Mike Richards has 6 goals and 15 assists for 21 points. In third is Patrick Kane and his 7 goals and 13 assists for 20 overall points.

Montreal’s Mike Cammalleri’s 13 goals are still the most …

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Thrashers talk contract extension with Kubina and Afinogenov… Armstrong, not so much

According to Kevin Allen of USA Today, the Atlanta Thrashers have begun talks with defenseman Pavel Kubina and forward Maxim Afinogenov regarding keeping the two in Thrasherville next season.

The Thrashers would like to see the return of Pavel Kubina and Maxim Afinogenov, seen here scoring against Buffal last October (AP Photo/Don Heupel)

The Thrashers would like to see the return of Pavel Kubina and Maxim Afinogenov, seen here scoring against Buffalo last October (AP Photo/Don Heupel)

Allen also indicates that they have no chance of re-signing  forward Colby Armstrong.

Last season… after signing a one-year, $800,000 contract with the Thrashers… Afinogenov scored a career high 24 goals and finished with 61 points. Six goals and 12 assists came while on the power play and three times he scored the game-winner.

Kubina came by way of a trade with Toronto and is coming off a contract that paid him $5-million per season. He was a solid presence on the blueline and chipped in with 6 goals and 32 assists last year, finishing with an EVEN +/- rating.

Kubina turned 33 last April 15 while Max will be 31 on September 4.

Allen …

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Will anyone ever score on Philly-Leighton again?

Well, I’m sure that eventually somebody sometime is going to slip a puck past Flyers goalie Michael Leighton. Surely it has to happen, don’t-cha think…if for no other reason than the odds simply dictate it must happen. But just when it might happen…well, that’s anyone’s guess.

Chris Pronger and Michael Leighton check each others temperature...because they and the Flyers' defense have been on fire of late (AP photo)

Chris Pronger and Michael Leighton check each others temperature…because they and the Flyers' have been on fire of late (AP photo)

Leighton and the Flyers have jumped out to a two games to none lead on the Montreal Canadiens by following up their 6-0 whipping of the Habs with another shutout…this time 3-0. Montreal outshot Philly 30-23 in Tuesday night’s game-two, but just like Sunday Leighton sprung no leaks and held tight. He has now stopped all 58 Canadiens shots taken in the series.

“We’re in a great situation”, Leighton said of his team being only two wins away from their first Stanley Cup Finals since 1997. “I’m not trying to think so much”.

The shutout means a lot to me but the win means a lot …

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Flyers and Blackhawks jump out to early series leads

The Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks have taken a one game to none in their Conference Final series…the Hawks winning a close, hard-fought battle of the goalies, while Philly flat-out B-slapped the Habs.

After spotting the Boston Bruins a 3-0 lead in the first period of Friday night’s game-seven, the Flyers have scored 10 straight goals. Four came against the Bruins to complete their historic come-from-behind series win, and the all six Sunday night as they shut out the Montreal Canadiens to open the series.

Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn scores in the first period during Philadelphia 6-0 route of the Montreal Canadiens Sunday night (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn scores in the first period during Philadelphia 6-0 route of the Montreal Canadiens Sunday night (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)

Impressively enough, all six of the goals scored came off the sticks of six different Flyer skaters. Braydon Coburn… remember him?… James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere, Simon Gagne, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux each netted one in the 6-0 beat down of the Canadiens.

Jaroslav Halak was chased halfway through the …

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Who needs home ice advantage? Flyers complete amazing comeback

OK, show of hands here… when the playoffs began a month ago, who here predicted a Philly-Montreal matchup in the eastern finals?

put down your hand down Smoothie

Well, that’s exactly what we have isn’t it…and  Whodda-thunkit?

The Philadelphia Flyers trailed three games to zero in the series and roared back to force a game-seven. They then trailed 3-0 in Friday night’s deciding game…and roared back to win the game and the series 4-3. The difference was a very sloppy too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty at the 11:10 mark of the third period that lead to Simone Gange’s game-winner with just 18 seconds remaining in the man advantage.

After finding themselves down 3-0, Scott Hartnell and the Flyers trip up the Bruins the rest of the way (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

After finding themselves down 3-0, Scott Hartnell and the Flyers tripped up the Bruins the rest of the way (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Flyers now join the 1975 New York Islanders and the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs as the only teams that have overcome an Oh-three playoff series hole to win four straight games.

For Bruins fans, this has to sting tremendously. …

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Montreal shuts down Mellon Arena – Flyers force game seven

Ole…ole,ole, ole!!!! Montréal est victorieuse!

Incroyable! Les victoires de Montréal sur le mois passé sont… incroyable! Le Habs a fait l’inconcevable… l’inimainable. Je n’ai pas les mots à…

OK… for the sake of everyone’s sanity, the remainder of this blog post will be in English. Besides, my French sucks!

Now, let me see if I have this straight. Not only will there be a Stanley Cup Finals minus anyone wearing a red winged wheel blazoned upon their chest, but we shall see no Sidney Crosby and his Penguin pals either?

Hmmm…will the leagues officials even allow such a thing?

Regardless, the Montreal Canadiens…the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference… a team that won only 39 games and amassed but 88 points…the team that would not have even been IN the playoffs had the Thrashers won but 3 more games this past season…yes, these Montreal Canadiens have made their way to the Conference Finals after defeating the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals in seven games and the …

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Blackhawks return to Western Conference Finals

For the second straight year, the Chicago Blackhawks have eliminated the Vancouver Canucks in six games during the second round of the playoffs and once again make their way to the Western Conference Finals. Awaiting their arrival is the San Jose Sharks who have been resting and waiting since rolling the Winged Wheels to the curb last weekend.

Brent Sopel congratulates goalie Antti Niemi after the Blackhawks eliminated Vancouver in game six Tuesday night (AP PhotoTHE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Brent Sopel congratulates goalie Antti Niemi after the Blackhawks eliminated Vancouver in game six Tuesday night (AP PhotoTHE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

This matchup pits the top-two seeds out west. Oddly enough…it’s still possible that the 7th and 8th seeds in the east could meet in the ECF.

The Sharks will be making their first trip to the WCF since 2004 when they were beaten by the Calgary Flames 4 games to 2. Last year the Red Wings did away with the Hawks in five games.

San Jose finished the season with a record of 51-20-11 for 113 to win the Pacific Division while Chicago went 52-22-8 for 112 points winning the Central. The …

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Canucks, Flyers and Habs refuse to bow out quietly

Over the course of the last couple of days, three teams have faced elimination from the playoffs. But all three of them…Montreal, Philadelphia and Vancouver … refused to join the recently dispatched Detroit Red Wings on the list of “Also Rans” in this spring’s hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Here is a quick rundown of where those series stand…

Penguins Can’t Shake Habs

Matt Cooke and the Penuins could not trip up the Habs Monday night (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

Matt Cooke and the Penuins could not trip up the Habs Monday night (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

The defending champ Pittsburgh Penguins have yet to shake the pesky Montreal Canadiens…holding series leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2. Monday night the Habs forced a deciding seventh game, just as they did against Washington in the first round, by defeating the Pens 4-3 behind Michael Cammalleri’s two goals. They were his 10th and 11th so far of the playoffs, a total that leads the playoff field.

Jaroslav Spacek returned to the Canadiens’ lineup for the first time since game-three of the Habs/Caps series and …

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What is the number eight pick worth?

Earlier in the week, Ben Wright posted a pretty nice two-part interview with the new GM of the Thrashers, Rick Dudley. In case ya missed it, here is part one…and here is part two.

Among the number of subjects covered, one question Dudley responded to in the second part of the piece had to do with the upcoming entry draft…specifically, would he consider trading away one of the Thrashers’ two first-round picks? Currently the hold the eighth overall as well as New Jersey’s later in the round obtained via the Kovalchuk trade.

Dudley’s response…”I didn’t enter any of those drafts thinking “I’m going to trade this” but people get in a frenzy around the draft and want to deal. I’ve already had a couple people call who want to move up or add a second first round pick. And do you know what? They’re available. There’s just a price. I have a pretty good knowledge of what they’re worth and if you want to move up to eight or acquire another pick you’re going to have to pony up with …

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