Friday, February 19, 2010

2010 Winter Olympics - Men's Ice Hockey Pre-Lims

Thursday, February 18th, 2010:
  • U.S.A def. NOR 6-1
  • CAN def. SUI 3-2 in OT (shootout)
  • SLV def. RUS 2-1 in OT (shootout)

Didn't see the USA game, but its nice to see the Rangers' guys contribute with Drury scoring and Callahan assisting in limited ice time. Team USA will go deep if their role-players not only play efficiently but contribute offensively.

What a great game between Canada and Switzerland. Jonas Hiller played the game of his life, stopping 44 SHOTS from some of the best players in the world. Myself, along with many experts, continue to say the Swiss are a dangerous team, and this near upset proves it even more.

Marian Gaborik and the Slovaks were able to pull an upset of their own over team Russia. Slovak goalie Jaroslav Halak (Montreal) played lights out, stoning Ovechkin twice in the shootout en route to their 1st victory in the pre-lims.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

2010 Winter Olympics - Men's Ice Hockey Pre-Lims

Wednesday February 17th, 2010:
  • FIN def. BEL 5-1
  • SWE def. GER 2-0
  • CZE def. SLV 3-1

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see much of any of the 3 games played yesterday. Actually, I was prepared tp watch some of the Sweden Germany game, but it was delayed because of a CURLING match that went into extra innings so I was forced to watch. Let me just say this, apparently the U.S. is not clutch when it comes to curling. 2 days in a row the Americans blew a game winning "shot" only to lose.

Finland could be a dark horse in this tournament. They have excellent goaltending, sound 2-way ability, and enough offense to make some noise.

Only 2 goals for Sweden? Impossible. It must have been the Rangers dressed in Sweden's uniforms. I could have sworn I saw Wade Redden out there. In making 21 saves, G Henrik Lundqvist earned his 1st ever Olympic shutout.

The Czech Slovakia game probably had the most juice considering they're "natural rivals." This game also makred the return of Jaromir Jagr to North America, and the surprise of seeing sniper Marian Gaborik in the lineup for Slovakia, thought to be questionable because of a leg injury. Each player scored in the game, with Jagr's being the game-winner.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

2010 Winter Olympics - Men's Ice Hockey Pre-Lims

Tuesday, Feb 16th 2010:
  • USA def. SUI 3-1
  • CAN def. NOR 8-0
  • RUS def. LTV 8-2

USA played well enough to win over an underrated Swiss team. It's pretty evident that the US team lacks some firepower up front and will have to grind out games in order to make a run. 

Canada is an offensive juggernaut and poised to take a run for the gold. Everywhere you look on their roster you see an excellent player. Wait till they get to practice more...

Russia seriously outplayed an overmatched Latvian team. If their defense, a point of weakness for the Men in Red, can hold up and play solid, look for Russia to be in it till the end.

2010 Winter Olympics - Men's Ice Hockey Groups

Group A

Group C

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sinfully Good: Devils Acquire Kovalchuk

Amongst all the trade buzz created, it's the New Jersey Devils who come out victorious in the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes, acquiring the prolific goal-scorer from Atlanta, along with D Anssi Salmela in exchange for F Niclas Bergfors, D Johnny Oduya, a prospect (Patrice Cormier), and a 1st round pick. Both teams exchanged 2nd round picks as well.

Click here to see Atlanta GM Don Waddell discuss the trade.

Hockey's Future has a profile of Patrice Cormier.

.. I end up going to work, where I'm not able to update blog posts and the trade goes down...nice. Amongst all the media frenzy is the fact that a number of credible sources were riddled with inaccuracies, which amazes me. 

First, Nick Kypreos and Kevin Allen incorrectly name the Flyers the ones that acquired Kovalchuk. Then, they're both refuted by numerous, credible sources that it's Kovalchuk to New Jersey, not Philly. Once the correct team was actually figured out, it was the prospect heading to Atlanta reporters had trouble figuring out, first saying Tenedby, then Palmeri, and finally Cormier.

As far as the deal goes, Atlanta fans can't be too thrilled with this trade. Where's the dynamic player coming back in the trade? Bergfors is still unproven despite having a decent year, Oduya is still young but carrying a 3.5 million a year contract. Cormier is in potential legal trouble with his year suspension in Junior Hockey and may face assault charges.

New Jersey made out in this deal, if you go by the notion that the team getting the best player wins the trade. Kovalchuk will provide an immediate offensive punch to a Devils team that hasn't had a talent quite like this in their franchise before, even if its only for a couple months. The real question is: will Kovalchuk sign long-term in New Jersey?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kovalchuk On The Move?

UPDATE 1:50 PM: Larry Brooks of the NY Post, every Rangers fan's buddy, tweets the price for Ilya Kovalchuk would be Staal or Del Zotto+Callahan or Dubinsky+Stepan or Kreider or Grachev+1st rounder.

.. I almost laughed out loud reading this. Sure, it's feaseble to ask for if your GM Don Waddell since you're trading your star player. But, I can't see the Rangers even entertaining this offer. Thanks, but no thanks.

UPDATE 1:41 PM: Craig Custance, writer for The Sporting News, wrote an article believing the San Jose Sharks could be involved in Kovalchuk trade talks and shouldnt be ruled out.

.. If San Jose were to acquire Kovalchuk, I'd be afraid to play against them. However, acquiring someone of Kovalchuk's calibar means parting ways with the likes of Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and/or Devin Setoguchi, and I'm not sure San Jose would do that.

UPDATE THURSDAY 9:43 AM: Kevin Allen of USA Today tweets that Kovalchuk deal "probably" won't happen today.

UPDATE 8:53 PM: According to Craig Custance's Twitter page, the Devils have inquired about Kovalchuk and could be one of the 6 teams "seriously interested."

.. I don't see Kovalchuk going to New Jersey. In this tweet, Custance also mentions the Devils were in on the Hossa sweepstakes a couple years back before being dealt to Pittsburgh, offering Brian Gionta. So, the desire is there, however, I don't know if Kovalchuk would want to come play in Jacques Lemaire's defensive-minded system. 

UPDATE 8:15 PM: Kevin Dupont of the Boston Globe tweets that Boston is NOT one of the teams considered to land Kovalchuk.

.. Cross Boston off the list. 

UPDATE 7:59 PM: Kevin Allen of USA Today tweets this:

1. Kovalchuk deal won't happen tonight. 2. Surprise teams in the mix. 3. Atlanta will get better return than it got for Hossa.

..  No. 2 goes along with my speculation that Columbus could be involved in the Kovalchuk sweepstakes.

Original - Darren Dreger, who does an excellent job for TSN, had this to say on his Twitter today:

Don Waddell met with Kovalchuk today to tell him he should expect a trade. 5 or more teams still in.

Wow, this is big news for the NHL and GM's looking to make a splash. We've had 3 major deals happen this week, but this would top them all if it were to go down. Kovalchuk will demand premium, top-end talent, along with high draft picks in any deal. 

Obviously, the Rangers will be inquiring. Glen Sather wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't. However, I don't know if we have the pieces GM Don Waddell & Atlanta would be looking in return for their franchise player. And, as I've said on here before, the Rangers don't have the long-term cap space to sign Kovalchuk to a deal he wants, despite moving Kotalik's contract to calgary. 

Los Angeles seems to be a good fit, having young talent and the car room to sign him long term. My sleeper team is the Columbus Blue Jackets. They just made a major move today, firing head coach Ken Hitchcock, one year after taking them to the playoffs for the 1st time in franchise history. GM Scott Howson might be looking to continue rocking the foundation of Columbus by bringing in Kovalchuk. This is pure speculation on my part.  

Game Highlights : LA 2-NYR 1

* Not a formal re-cap of the game last night but some thoughts on the game, plus my apologies for blogging about the Colorado game and the Rangers-Flames trade fiasco*

.. Even shipping out underachievers Kotalik and Higgins didn't change the Rangers scoring woes.

.. Olli Jokinen played decently in his Rangers debut despite playing the night before.

.. Brandon Prust will quickly become a fan favorite if he consistently plays as he did last night.

.. Biggest mistake of the night: 5 forwards out on the PP before Kopitar scored short-handed. I know Del Zotto's in the box, but what's wrong with Gilory at the point there? Baffling, and costly.