Ilya Brygalov and Dave Coulier – separated at birth.
This is a weekly feature that will highlight The Good, The Bad and The *fill in the blank* exciting things that are currently happening in the NHL. The Flyers and Predators are the latest playoff casualties and off season surgeries have begun. Ah the smell of summer is in the air.
The Good: The Underdogs or just Desert Dogs
It’s hard to write about anything good in the NHL right now, except that this season is almost over. Thank goodness because the way that this post season has played out makes me feel like its hockey’s version of the Twilight Zone. I guess it’s sort of a good thing for the fans of the remaining teams that no one thought would make it this far (though I am sure there is that one guy who made a bet on the Kings going to the Conference Finals under presumably intoxicating circumstances). The Coyotes have had an impressive performance, though coming into the West as the third seed does not exactly give them a coveted underdog status. The fact that it’s the Phoenix Coyotes does. And who would have ever predicted a year ago that Raffi Torres, an impressive physical force on the Vancouver Canucks, would be back in the playoffs again with this new team. Even though Torres got himself a lengthy suspension in round one that guarantees he will not be playing any more playoff games, should the Coyotes manage to win the Stanley Cup, Torres will still have his name engraved on it.
Ryan Kesler got a new shoulder – the experiment to surgically give him a titanium hip last summer failed. Hopefully the surgery to give him some new upper body strength, and turn him into the bionic man, was successful. One can dream. Also his six month recovery time does not scare me. I hope he takes eight months because if we learned anything from this year of hockey, performance in the regular season does not matter when it comes to attaining playoff success. The team will be better off with a fully recovered Kesler than one that is desperate to get back in the game.
At the start of the playoffs I was really scared of Henrik Lundqvist when thinking of the Canucks potentially facing the Rangers in the Finals. Glad we don’t have to worry about THAT happening. It seems that Braden Holtby, however, is giving Lundqvist a run for his money. And his GQ status.
The Bad: Good Goalies Gone Bad
Pekka Rinne and Ilya Bryzgalov. One a Vezina Trophy nominee for 2012 and the other signed to a humungous big contract, both out of the playoffs in the second round. In a playoff year that clearly has had a lot of focus on goaltending, it’s not the big names that are drawing so much attention. It is guys like Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals. There are plenty of things to be impressed with when it comes to the play of this 23 year old Canadian boy but one of the best has to be his part in eliminating the great foe of the Canucks: The Boston Bruins. You Mr. Holtby, I like. Let’s just hope that you never get signed to a lengthy multi-million dollar contract. Those don’t seem to work out so well for goaltenders.
You know what else is bad – a coach calling someone "The Best Player in the World" in the first round only to have him become fairly obsolete in the second round. Nicely done Peter Laviolette. Claude Giroux did, however, leave an impression with that suspension that made him miss the game in which the Flyers were eliminated. I wonder what coach thinks of his star now.
I guess that’s why they call them the Blues … The St. Louis Blues are a sad team. They could not even win ONE game against the Kings? Not one single game? Remember in the regular season when Brian Elliot was lauded as being a difference maker for the Blues, who also under the new leadership of Ken Hitchcock were supposed to be a serious contender for the Stanley Cup? Yeah they were owned by the offense of the Kings. Thanks for nothing Blues. Now you helped make the Kings believe that they are a good team. You guys were the second seed, the runner up, the ones that were to perform the duties in case the first seed failed! The Canucks at least slowed down the terror of the Kings ruthless run by winning ONE game. Your mission was simple: kill the Kings chances of advancing to the Western Conference Finals. You have failed us all.
I thought it was bad enduring Vince Vaughn being spotted at Blackhawks games, but you know what, at least Vince is a real fan who wears a jersey. I do not want to know what showcase of celebrities who are bored so decide to go to a hockey game at the Staples center awaits us.
And History Repeating
The votes are in and it’s the Kings vs. the Coyotes as the most exciting Western Conference Final showdown … no, this is wrong. Just wrong. Flashback to 2004, I was living in Calgary, the time of the infamous "Red Mile" as I was forced into becoming a Flames fan. The coach of the Flames was none other than Darryl Sutter, current coach of the LA Kings. The Flames that year beat the 1,2 and 3 seeds (not in that order) to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Who did they meet there? The top seeded team in the East, the Tampa Bay Lightning, coached then by John Tortorella. The same John Tortorella that is now the coach of the New York Rangers, the top seeded team in the east. Hmm…
It is still a little early, as the Rangers have to yet make it to the Conference Finals and both teams would need to advance to final death match, but we could potentially see a coaching rematch of 2004. As a Canucks fan I automatically dislike both teams therefore I really hope that by writing about this now, it will cancel out the fate of this scenario actually happening. However, with the way that both these teams have been playing, I would not be too shocked if this occurred. I also kind of want to see if Darryl Sutter could be victorious this time or if Torts would once again squash him into second best. We wait and see.