(ED NOTE: We're big fans of The Two-Line Pass, which strikes that perfect balance of acerbic wit and hockey insight that we crave like White Castle at 3 a.m. So it's an honor to announce that TLP's weekly feature "What We Learned," its massive review of the hockey weekend, will publish every Monday morning here on Puck Daddy. Enjoy!)
By The Two-Line Pass
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. And, well, there's a ton of other crap for me to blather on about too. And yes, I'm totally ripping off just about every-other-blogger-ever's weekly column, but that's something you'll have to deal with on your own time.
I, like all of you, have been reading the NHL trade rumors with a great deal of hope and boyish optimism over the past week or so. "Boy oh boy, who's gonna get traded for what, I wonder?!"
So far the best, or at least closest to reality, anyone can come up with is that the New York Islanders may or may not trade Bill Guerin to the Philadelphia Flyers? Look, I'm sorry, but I just can't get myself geared up for the trade deadline this year if Bill Guerin and Mathieu Dandenault is all the media and NHL GMs can do.
The top sports headlines of the day
On defense, you have Jay Bouwmeester, Niclas Havelid, Tomas Kaberle, Filip Kuba, Pavel Kubina, Chris Pronger and Brendan Witt. At forward, there's Nik Antropov, Colby Armstrong, Marian Gaborik, Doug Weight, Bill Guerin, Mark Recchi, Ryan Smyth and Keith Tkachuk.
I think you'd have to say that Bouwmeester, Kaberle, Pronger and Gaborik all fit under the banner of "impact talent." Of those, neither Bouwmeester nor Gaborik is likely to be traded unless some insane team that fancies itself better than it is (the Rangers) blows the other team away with a ridiculous "Who would DO this?"-type offer.
So you've got Kaberle and Pronger left. Both of them are rumored to be headed to Boston. Only one of them will (or maybe none). So at best you're looking at one marginally shocking trade to acquire a star-quality player.
Then there's the useful-but-a-bit-past-it group consisting of Kuba, Witt, Weight, Guerin, Recchi, Smyth and Tkachuk. Now, if your team actually trades for one of these guys, you'd be fine with it as long as they didn't give away something crazy for the sake of getting a "name" player (and with Witt, you wouldn't even get that). But if you're a fan of any other team than the two involved, this will have next to no effect on your life.
In the third group is "the goodish players toward whom most fans are ambivalent." If your team gets Antropov or Armstrong, you will almost certainly not care at all.
Finally, if your team trades for Havelid, you might not know who that is.
Face it, last year we were spoiled. Hossa! Richards! Campbell! Belak! But the deadline before that? The biggest players were Tkachuk and Alex Zhitnik, both of whom went to Atlanta because Don Waddell needed to deliver on the foolish, job-jeapordizing promise that the team would make the playoffs. And in 2005-06, no joke, it was Dwayne Roloson and Sergei Samsonov.
Every year we get ourselves nice and pumped for the trade deadline (OMG IT'S ONLY TWO DAYS AWAY!) and what do we usually get? Nothin'. Maybe I'll sleep in on Wednesday.
If this has put a damper on excitement for Puck Daddy's deadline coverage, I apologize. I'm new here and whatever.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks -- Sure, Bobby Ryan has been awful impressive for the Ducks this rookie season, but no one is talking about Anaheim's other very promising rookie, Andrew Ebbett. Ebbett had a goal and two assists on Saturday against Dallas and now has 21 points in 30 games (fourth in points per game among rookies) despite just 13:32 of ice time a night. And I guess playing on a line with Teemu Selanne doesn't hurt either.
Atlanta Thrashers -- USA Today's Kevin Allen says that whoever was hoping to pry one of Ondrej Pavelec or Kari Lehtonen from Atlanta can just forget it. Don Waddell's already working on a deal to extend Lehtonen. So much for that Lehtonen-for-van Riemsdyk trade.
Boston Bruins -- The Bruins have a deal in place for Chris Pronger ... allegedly. Here's why some people shouldn't be allowed to give out trade rumors:
One interesting twist is that Phil Kessel is currently not the main Bruin going back to Anaheim. I am being told that defenseman Mark Stuart, Prospect Joe Colborne and a first round pick in 2010 would go to Anaheim in exchange for Pronger and forward Travis Moen. Both teams have apparently agreed in principle on a trade.
WHOA! Mark Stuart, a promising project like Colborne and a first rounder was all it took to get Pronger? That's insane. I don't know how Chiarelli pulled this one o...
Again, I can't get into specifics over the main roster player from Boston. Right now it's not Kessel but that could change, so that's why I can't say whom it is as of now with certainty.
Might wanna lead with that whole "an unnamed roster player plus the following" in the future. This was worded incredibly poorly. Just sayin'. By the way, IF this trade goes down, the scuttlebutt in the Boston press box is that roster player is almost certain to be Patrice Bergeron.
Buffalo Sabres -- On Saturday the Sabres got shut out by the Islanders. The Fanatical Fan argues that this is absolute rock bottom for Buffalo. But don't worry, guys. The Devils got shut out 4-0 by the Islanders last week and look how they're doing now! All you need is to get Marty Brodeur to come back to your team as well.
Calgary Flames - Well, Jarome Iginla needed two goals to reach 400 in his career and two points to pass Theo Fleury for the Flames' all-time lead. He scored twice last night, yes, and added THREE ASSISTS. As a Flames fan, I can honestly say that something like this couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Jarome is one of the very best people in all of professional sports and fully deserves every credit given him.
Chicago Blackhawks -- So Jack Skille got called up the other day for no readily apparent reason, but now there's conjecture that he's being dangled as trade bait for a reasonable No. 2 center and/or a defenseman. The Blackhawks, apparently, were in on Kunitz but unwilling to offer a defenseman of Whitney's caliber (or at least reputation). This is a team that needs help so they'll be interesting to watch as Wednesday approaches.
Colorado Avalanche -- As I suspected, Adrian Dater has no friends. He has now taken to asking himself mailbag questions because his question screener has gone on vacation. What I want to know is this: Why does Adrian Dater consider himself too big to answer reader e-mail? You're not in Bon Jovi, dude, you're a sportswriter. Get over yourself.
Columbus Blue Jackets -- Great story in the Columbus Dispatch Sunday about how the War Room in Toronto works when a goal needs to be reviewed. Columbus is 1-for-7 on reviews this year, and even Colin Campbell says he can see why Jackets fans feel like they're getting screwed this year. I am still waiting for such a statement regarding Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals. E-MAIL ME CAMPBELL THAT WAS A GOAL DAMMIT!
Dallas Stars -- Further proof that Steve Ott is one of the bigger pieces of garbage in the NHL comes from Saturday night's 4-3 Dallas loss to Anaheim:
Punk move by the Dallas announcers to defend Ott too. "Players are frustrated that he's so significant for the Stars." Really? It has nothing to do with the repeated cross checks to the spine of your opponent's captain? Guess I need to watch more hockey to really get the sport.
Detroit Red Wings -- According to Mike Babcock, the Red Wings will be standing pat at the deadline. Big mistake, I think. This team is headed for a first- or second-round flameout. When your goalie options are Chris Osgood, Ty Conklin and Jimmy Howard, you're going nowhere fast, no matter how many top-notch forwards you have.
Edmonton Oilers -- This is Craig MacTavish's assessment of Ethan Moreau's injury from last night: "The stick looks like it gashed the socket and the doctors said it raked across the eyeball. It looks pretty serious." That's one of my Top 50 Things You Never Want Someone to Say About You.
Florida Panthers -- Whoa whoa whoa. Bryan McCabe had FOUR points yesterday, three of them on the power play? I remember I covered a Bruins/Leafs game last year where he had four points, and three on the power play. It was right around now too, I think. NHL.com says it was March 6. So I guess the lesson is don't take penalties against Bryan McCabe's team in the first week of March. Good to know.
Los Angeles Kings -- A little while back, Oscar Moller went on a conditioning assignment that was scheduled to end this weekend. But the player they called up to replace him, Teddy Purcell, might have played well enough to stick. What's Dean Lombardi going to do?
Man of action, that Dean Lombardi.
Minnesota Wild -- So what do the Wild do? Offer a barely-unbroken Marian Gaborik to the masses and get a return that's less than you'd normally get or hang onto him, maybe make the playoffs (huge maybe), and lose him for nothing?
If a team offers a substantial package for Gaborik, Risebrough said, "Then I've got to listen. But my motivation is not to do that."
Montreal Canadiens -- Don't look now, but the Habs are red hot. They beat the friggin' Sharks on Saturday, 6-3! The reason, of course, is Jaroslav Halak. In his last six games he's allowed 14 goals on 248 shots. That's a ridiculous amount of rubber and his save percentage is .944. Wow.
Nashville Predators -- I get home from work Saturday night and my friend IMs me saying that the Preds are up 7-0 on Detroit. I, of course, change the channel over to that game to revel in the Red Wings' misfortune. Within maybe 10 seconds, Jason Arnott popped one into an empty net while Chris Osgood pretty much had his back to the play. I hadn't laughed that hard in a week.
New Jersey Devils -- Martin Brodeur picked up his 100th career shutout yesterday afternoon, as I'm sure you heard. Since coming back from that injury, he is 3-0-0 with a 0.67 goals-against and a .960 save percentage with two shutouts. Scott Clemmen-who?
New York Islanders - As mentioned earlier, the Islanders have shut out two opponents that aren't too bad offensively. But those two shutouts have come in the last week, and both were by Yann Danis, who's rocking a 2.39 goals-against and a .928 save percentage. Danis is 2-2-0 in the last four games despite allowing just three goals in that stretch, which is sad.
New York Rangers - All it took to get the Rangers back on track is running through the woeful Colorado Avalanche. Great. Now what? Should they sell (yes), buy (no!) or stick with what they've got/add Avery (go for it)? Oh yes this is a tricky question for a team that, even if it makes the playoffs, is the Worthy-of-Webster's definition of "one and done."
Ottawa Senators -- Can Bryan Murray really make my weekend twice in a row? Last week it was that hilariously misguided trade for Mike Comrie, this week he might trade for Pascal Leclaire. Meanwhile, the Sens are 13 points out of a playoff spot. That's outstanding asset management.
Philadelphia Flyers -- I'm with Broad Street Hockey. Calling up Danny Briere and Nate Guenin in favor of Claude Giroux, who'd been playing well for Philly, and Lasse Kukkonen is a daft call by Holmgren. Not because Briere is bad or anything, but do you really need to have a roster with both Arron Asham and Riley Cote? Oh right, you're the Flyers. Of course you do.
Phoenix Coyotes -- At least one defenseman in the Western Conference is guaranteed to be traded, only it's one that you would never want on your team under any circumstance. Derek Morris is going to sit out for the Coyotes until someone trades for him. Man, that third-round pick is gonna feel so good for Phoenix.
Pittsburgh Penguins -- Pittsburgh ain't the only Penguins with a power play problem. The Baby Pens are 2 for their last 24 and on Saturday had only one shot during a five-minute power play. Ouch.
San Jose Sharks -- Odd note: the Sharks almost universally regard "Youngblood" as the worst hockey movie of all time. I submit that they have not seen "Mighty Ducks 3," but they might be tied for last.
Tampa Bay Lightning -- What an absolute idiot Steve Downie is. Now I've never played professional hockey, so maybe I'm unfamiliar, but is slashing an official in the shin the proper way to react to a non-call that goes against your team? I don't know whether it's hilarious or sad that this is now Downie's second 20-game suspension. He sure shouldn't be allowed to play professional hockey any more.
Toronto Maple Leafs -- This post is what hockey is all about: reveling in the misery of your hated rivals. PPP's Negative Nancy Notebook is one of my favorite hockey blog features to read, ever. Those boys kill it, thoroughly and consistently.
Vancouver Canucks -- The award for "Most baffling headline of the weekend" goes to the Vancouver Province for: "It's hard to say why Vancouver's so good." So good? Sure, they've been playing very well lately but this was a team right around .500 like a week and a half ago. As the article astutely points out, however, the reason they're at their current spot in the standings is almost entirely Alain Vigneault and the depth players, because their stars (Sundin, Luongo, Demitra) haven't don't jack for most of the year.
Proposed new headline: "It's hard to say why the Canucks are even still in the playoffs at this point."
Washington Capitals -- Now I'll back up Don Cherry on just about anything he says. But when you start running down Alex Ovechkin, I have a major, major problem. (Please ignore the Wheel of Fortune clip at the beginning of this, I don't know what that's all about)
"Some big defenseman?" How many defensemen are bigger than Ovie? Kid's 6-2, 220. Also, a freight train.
Play of the Weekend
You'll never see a goalie better than Marty Brodeur. Never in your life. In 50 years, you'll be telling your grandkids you saw Brodeur in his prime, and they will be enraptured.
Gold Star Award
I could look at that man smile forever. Six points in two games is nice, but the more important numbers: 400-434-834. And, of course, No. 1. That man is the Calgary Flames.
Next week's game I'm totally going to watch on Center Ice if I'm home
Next Saturday, the Blackhawks visit the Bruins in a battle of two of the league's top teams. That should be a real good one.Event that should replace the shootout and would be just as relevant to hockey skill
Movie of the Week
Now you may know it as the "I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE" movie, but considering it might be the greatest American film ever made (I will hear arguments for "Raging Bull" and "Citizen Kane" and nothing else) and I watched in on Saturday, "There Will Be Blood" is your first MotW. Go watch it immediately.
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
User FruitsandRoots cooks up this brilliant three-way trade that ... I don't even know. Helps no one, I guess?
MTL's 2nd rd pick in '10
MTL gives: The Kostitsyns, Jaroslav Halak, PK Subban, 2nd in '10.
TBL gives: Vincent Lecavalier, Johan Harju.
EDM gives: Tom Gilbert.