Well the playoff match-ups are finally set and the road to the 2010 Stanley Cup Championship kicks off on Wednesday night. As you know, the Penguins will be meeting the Ottawa Senators for the third time in four seasons during the first round, with the action kicking off Wednesday at Mellon Arena. You can see my earlier post with the complete schedule here.
Though the Penguins didn’t have a great weekend, it was exciting to watch Sidney Crosby claim a share of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal scorer. He will share the honor with Steven Stamkos who “rocketed” onto the scene as the third youngest 50 goal scorer in NHL history.
Crosby also claimed the number two spot in the league’s scoring race, as he finished tied with Alex Ovechkin, moving ahead by way of having more goals. Boy, that is strange to say, but it is indeed true…
The Penguins were a wounded bunch over the weekend, but all indications are that they will be at full strength for the start of the playoffs. Chris Kunitz practiced a bit this weekend, though he was held out of action. Brooks Orpik and Matt Cooke have both been given clean bills of health after being knocked out of Saturday evening’s game in Atlanta…for Cooke – literally.
Eric Tangradi made his NHL debut and didn’t look out of place. He didn’t necessarily bring a wow factor, but had some good scoring chances and put the puck on net. The biggest thing that I noticed was that he wasn’t knocked around as many prospects are upon their first call-up. He held his own in high traffic areas and battled in front of the goal. He will be ready for primetime sooner, rather than later.
Over the next couple of days, I will be providing thoughts and analysis on each series as well as making predictions. I will also have a Penguins season wrap-up.
Also, in case you haven’t heard, the Pensblog will again be running their popular Rink-o-tology game. I will be contributing to the official Rinkotology Blog along with Chris Wassel and Kyle Kebert. I hope to see you all playing the game.
Now down to the business at hand…your daily skate around the league – Around the Net.
I am not going to post Molinari’s game recap as I usually do following a game, instead I will just right to his notebook. He caught up with Eric Tangradi for some thoughts on his first NHL game and how his whirlwind weekend went. Dave also brings us the Penguins final leaders in every category…
New Lightning owner, Jeff Vinik, has cleaned house in his hockey operations department. The biggest fish to be released are general manager Brian Lawton and head coach Rick Tocchet. This is probably more about Vinik bringing in his own people that it was the performance of Lawton and Tocchet. That is the nature of the business though…
Sheldon Souray is madder than fish grease and he is letting everyone know it. The hard shooting D-man seemingly regrets the day that he pulled on the Oil crest… saying: “It’s not a players thing. It’s not a fans thing or a city thing. It’s a management thing,” Souray said. “They’ve given up on me, and it’s a two-way street.”
Damien Cox of the Toronto Star gives us his first round predictions. He also provides some interesting commentary in the lead up to those predictions, pointing out that the remaining regular season between the Olympics and yesterday was pretty ho hum…
The league will hold the annual NHL Draft lottery tomorrow. The 2010 LG NHL Draft Lottery will take place at 8 p.m. to set the order of selection for June’s Entry Draft. The program will be televised on Versus and TSN, and streamed live on NHL.com.
Slava Kozlov blames the coaching staff in Atlanta for the team’s failure to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. He claims that this was the best team that Atlanta had iced in 11 years and they still managed to miss based on something that was missing…that something came from the coaching.