Friday, November 26, 2010

Pronger's Interference Making 'Waves'

Friday night, with the Philadelphia Flyers and Calgary Flames knotted at two, and the Flyers on the power play in overtime, Chris Pronger was screening Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff.  The Flyers thought they had scored the game winning goal off the stick of Mike Richards seconds later, but Pronger was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty due to his antics in front of the net.  With his back turned, Pronger waved his hand in front of Kiprusoff with similar intent to what Sean Avery did to Martin Brodeur in the 2008 NHL Playoffs.

Below is video of the Pronger incident, the Avery incident from 2008, and a very similar Brendan Shanahan play after Avery's which was not deemed to be a penalty.

Shanahan's act is closest to Prongers, so clearly they either blew the Shanahan call before, or blew the Pronger call Friday night.

Here's a copy of the Avery Rule : "An unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty (Rule 75) will be interpreted and applied, effective immediately, to a situation when an offensive player positions himself facing the opposition goaltender and engages in actions such as waving his arms or stick in front of the goaltender's face, for the purpose of improperly interfering with and/or distracting the goaltender as opposed to positioning himself to try to make a play."

Here is the Philadelphia telecast's call of the controversial call.

You be the judge, did the referees get the call right or wrong?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What are Canada's Stanley Cup Chances?

A quarter of the way through the 2010-11 NHL Season, there have been some surprises, but also a lot of correct predictions that have some prognosticators tooting their own horn, and some scratching their heads in disbelief.  One question inevitably raised before each NHL season is 'will Canada's Stanley Cup drought end this year?' and 'Which Canadian team is most likely to end that drought?'

Let's review the six Canadian teams thus far, in order of their likelihood to take home the Stanley Cup according to PuckWatch, and see whether or not they are on their predicted course.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Colin Campbell - Stephen Walkom Emails Leaked

Many thanks to @JeffMarek for tweeting about a Tyler Dellow article, who runs Tyler has trolled CanLII for interesting cases involving the NHL. In his own words, "it’s generally lousy stuff - a lot of bad divorces - but every so often you find something awesome".

Reading over the emails made available through former NHL referee Dean Warren's labour relations case with the league, Dellow yields some incredible information shared via email between NHL's Colin Campbell, and the NHL's Director of Officiating at the time, Stephen Walkom.

Some highlights from the article include

  • Colin Campbell's attempts to get Warren fired, and criticisms of other officials
  • Campbell's disdain for "little fake artist" Marc Savard
  • Campbell's scrutiny over his son (Gregory Campbell)'s games
This could become a big story in the coming days.

Here again is the link to Dellow's article

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NHL's West Dominates East

CBC's Jim Hughson published a great article today highlighting some interesting statistics between the NHL's Western and Eastern Conference teams.  It appears as if the West is dominant - and that should not be a surprise - but what might be a surprise is just how wide the gap appears to be.

Last season the West was 66 wins over .500 against the East, and only three teams (Dallas, Edmonton and Columbus) had losing records against the opposite conference. All three missed the playoffs.

Already this season the West is 35-15-7 against the East through Wednesday's games.

Since the start of the 2005 season (post-lockout), the West is 574-359-114 for a .603 winning percentage against the East.

Hughson lists a few reasons for the dominance, including a defence first style in the West vs. offence in the East due to high level draft picks - but I beg to differ.

Sure, Washington and Pittsburgh have traditionally been built around offence in the past few years, but if you look at the playoff bound teams in the Eastern Conference in recent years, the defense first New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres are always in the mix.  Philadelphia seems to be a blend of defense and offense, with only Washington and the suffering traditional non-playoff teams like Tampa Bay and Atlanta relying too much upon offense and not defence.

If you look at the Western Conference, there are not a lot of defense-first hockey clubs at the top.  Teams like San Jose, Chicago, Detroit and Vancouver have always been known for a blend of offence and defence.  Those teams are just more well rounded.

I must admit, I did laugh a bit before the regular season when many predicted the Washington Capitals to win the Stanley Cup.  Is their offense that dynamic that it will overcome their questionable defense and rookie goaltender?

I would be much more inclined to pick a team like Philadelphia out of the East again.  However, if the Capitals do make the Stanley Cup Finals, could they shut down a team with the depth of Detroit or Vancouver or Chicago?  All three of those Western teams have incredible depth in their forward lines and on defence, and solid goaltenders.  When you throw Los Angeles, St. Louis and San Jose into the mix, the Western Conference has a lot of strength.  Even the teams fighting for the last few spots could really do some damage.  The Colorado Avalanche lead the league in goal scoring, and you can never count out Anaheim or perhaps even Dallas from making an impression this year.

Hughson is right about one thing - the Western Conference teams need to load up just to compete.  When you look at the East, the bottom teams in the top 8 would likely be nestled at the bottom of the Western Conference.  Imagine if the league had a more interlocking schedule where the weaker teams in the East did not have the chance to play each other six times a year.  The point spread by season's end would be staggering.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Leafs' GM Brian Burke: All bark, no bite

Leafs GM Brian Burke is facing a lot of criticism these days in Toronto.  After reading Mark Spector's recent article on, I felt compelled to lend my two cents on the controversial figure's tenure in the NHL.  Normally I don't do this, but I felt the need to rant.

When Brian Burke was the GM of the Vancouver Canucks,I felt he did a good job.  But as a Vancouverite, I'd been used to sub-par hockey for the majority of the Canucks' existence.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Anisimov, Brassard Lead Must-Have Sleeper List

If your fantasy hockey league team is suffering from unexpected injuries (Dion Phaneuf, Drew Doughty, Brian Rafalski), or expected injuries (Marian Gaborik, Sami Salo, Simon Gagne), you should have a headache when pondering your team's early season failures.  The silver lining in struggling through injuries is that you may be able to snag some players off the waiver-wire, to replace these injured players, or to correct the error of your ways if you drafted Devon Setoguchi.  Either way, if these players are hanging around your waiver wire, or if you can swing a deal or two, nab these youngsters.  These wunderkind weren't necessarily the super sexy pre-season draft picks like Jordan Eberle or Taylor Hall, but they've acquitted themselves extremely well early in the young season and should be scooped up before it's too late.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Avalanche F Chris Stewart flies under radar

A quick glance at any pre-season prognosticators lists of top scorers likely did not include Colorado Avalanche forward Chris Stewart.  Stewart enjoyed a marvelous campaign last year, amassing 28 goals and 64 points in 77 games.  As impressive as that is, it does not really tell the full story.  See, Stewart, a first round pick (18th overall) in 2006 accomplished that in his first full season in the league.  He even began last year's campaign rather slowly when he was mired on one of the bottom lines in Colorado, with one goal and five assists in the first 18 games of the year.  After a 5-2 loss against Vancouver where he played only eight minutes, the Avalanche moved Stewart to their top line, and they haven't really looked back.

Since that game, Stewart recorded 27 goals and 58 points in his next 59 games.  That would put him on pace for about a 40 goal, 80 point campaign.