The Carolina Deep Diving Team goes for a 3rd Straight Championship
The Carolina Hurricanes are at it again this season, splashing their way to another diving championship. (i.e. Most Power Plays) It will be the 3rd year in a row if they can hang onto their 7 power play lead over Dallas. Caps, Thrashers, Cats & Lightning fans know all about the ‘Canes and their team-wide inner ear problem as they have a tendency to suddenly lose their balance at the slightest tug or pull. The 6'4" 205 lb, Eric Staal seems to have the most problems staying on his feet - well at least when he feels someone within 3 feet of him.
You don’t finish in the top 5 in power plays for EIGHT straight years by standing upright. Except for Carolina, no team in the last 5 years has finished in the top five more than twice. So clearly its a long-term, team-wide affliction. And this season is no exception, as the Canes lead the way drawing penalties once again. It will be their 5th Diving Championship in 8 years.
Splish-splash can they hang on and clinch it again?
Now can we say something nice about the Canes? Sure. They did forego a top pick by playing their hearts out in the 2nd half and scraping themselves from the standings abyss and almost into playoff contention. They were clearly hurt by the injury bug and the defections of defencemen Anton Babchuk and Dennis Seidenberg early in the season but after their stellar 2nd half to the year, there's no reason to think Carolina won't be back contending for the division next season.
So Who Will Get Pick No. 2?!
A lot depends on the bouncing ping pong balls but there is heated battle to be second-best in the draft. Why is 2nd worst important?!
Well you get a 18.8% shot at the #1 pick and a nearly 44% chance at being in the top 2. With the top two players being Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin both are considered 1 and 1A of a deep draft. No one is going to upset being third or fourth and snagging a Cam Fowler or Kirill Kabanov but right now Hall and Seguin are the Bradfords and Suhs of the prospect charts.
In honor of this week's Masters, let's pretend the minimum amount of points a team should ever get in a world of overtime losses and 3-point games is 80 points. Here is the leaderboard with the Oilers dominating with a Tiger-like lead on the back nine. The intriguing piece of this "race" is that the Maple Tee Hees foolishly sent a bushload of draft picks for the Bruins' Phil Kessel. So the Leafs really, REALLY do not want to finish 2nd-last and help the Bruins. Even after snagging the likes of Hall or Fowler, the Bruins still have a top 2nd rounder (this draft) *AND* another first rounder next season.
(For all the cash they had to pay Kessel on top of it, ($27 mil over 5 years) it makes you wonder why the Tee Hees didn't just sign a free agent scorer like Cammalleri and keep all those picks in the cupboard - but we digress.)
Also the Lightning and Panthers play a home and home to end the season which should have a big say in the final standings. Two teams playing a weekend of games that would benefit them to lose, should make for some barn-burning hockey.
Here's your leaderboard! Who will win?! And who will bogey their draft pick by not losing this week?!
#1 Edmonton Oilers -22 (Doesn't matter who they play, locked into #1)
#2 Toronto Maple Leafs -8 (Flyers, Rangers, Canadiens - 3 desperate teams)
#3 Tampa Bay Lightning -6 (Canes, Senators, Panthers, Panthers)
#4 Florida Panthers -6 (Senators, Devils, Lightning, Lightning)
#5 Carolina Hurricanes -4 (Lightning, Canadiens, Bruins)
#6 New York Islanders -4 (Canadiens, Penguins, Devils, Penguins - good luck)
It would look like the Leafs will certainly lose to the three teams that all have playoff ambitions on the line. But the Leafs are playing well since Giguere's acquisition and they are all rivalry games of sorts.
My Guess: I like the Islanders coming out of nowhere, losing 4 straight and snagging the pick!
Will Craig Adams score?
The Pens forward has 78 Games played. 79 Shots on net. 0 goals. Shooting percentage of 0.0% (I did the math myself.) Its honestly very hard to play forward an entire season and NOT score. He gets 11 minutes a game too, so its not like he's a goon getting 3:34 of ice each night.
Niclas Wallin has 68 games and 72 shots and even though he plays 17 minutes a night, he's a d-man and gets a pass.
What TO Watch This Week!
Rod the Bod!
Rod Brind'Amour may very well be wrapping up his career this week. Rod who isn't considered one of the top scorers ever yet very quietly picked up an eye-opening 450 goals and nearly 1,200 points. What he was known for was leadership and his incredible will to win. Well that and the poor beak of his, a nasal roadmap which I believe has been broken no less than 5 times.
Has the S.S. Ovechkin Broken Its Sail?
OV has just 3 goals since the heartcrushing stomping Team Russia took at the hands of the Canadian Olympians. Ovechkin did not play well and he HAS to be sick and tired of Sidney Crosby winning Stanley Cups, Gold Medals and adoration worldwide. The Caps are still winning and winning but will OV find the gear he's famous for? His coach is calling him out, telling him to work on his backchecking and defense and let the goals find their way onto his ledger from there. With awards up for grabs this week and getting primed for playoffs, it should be fun to watch OV over the next few days.
The Rocket Richard Movie & Who's Gonna Win His Award?
If you consider yourself an expert on great sports movies then you need to find a way to see The Rocket. If you love hockey, movies and Sean Avery taking one in the face then you will definitely love this film. In my book, its definitely of the 5 best sports films ever made.
Rocket's award for the most goals is still up for grabs. Crosby is at 47, Ovechkin at 46 and the stunning Steve Stamkos has 46. Will Crosby get to 50 goals and 100 points? Can OV snag the Art Ross out of Henrik Sedin's clutches? Can Tukka Rask (another player the Leafs traded to Boston) finish the year below 2 goals against? Will Zenon Konopka find a way to 250 PIM (we think so). An interesting final week starts tonight..