*

 

With Patrick Kane's overtime hat-trick, which powered the the Blackhawks past the defending champs and into the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night, the ultimate matchup of the lockout shortened 2013 NHL season is set. Though neither the Pittsburgh-Boston or Chicago-LA series ended up being closely contested, like at all, there was some really good hockey played the past week with Saturday night's contest, and Wednesday night's game 3 of BOS-PIT being two of the more entertaining games of the postseason stand outs. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and if you're not excited about a Chicago-Boston final I don't really know what to tell you - and I'm saying that as a guy who grew up a Canucks fan!

 

*

 

The Kings are the first true Corsi juggernaut of the Behind the Net era, and whether you think advanced stats are useful or not, I don't really think that's a coincidence. That said, I wonder if they bought too much into their rough and tumble reputation and got away from the slick transition game that powered them in the postseason a year ago. Robyn Regehr, Matt Greene, Jordan Nolan and Kyle Clifford  were arguably leaned on a bit too heavily in the postseason this year (and last night), while guys like Alec Martinez were stapled to the bench. Regehr in particular seemed to slow the Kings down a good deal after his acquisition and I'm still completely mystified by the extension they gave him...

 

*

 

Regehr had a tough game on Saturday night. The Kings were out-possesed and outshot dramatically when he was on the ice, even though they were down for a goodly portion of the game. Chicago also outscored the Kings by three at even-strength when he was on the ice...

 

*

 

Los Angeles didn't score a single five-on-five goal on Saturday (one short-handed, one on the power-play and one with Jonathan Quick on the bench). That's an appropriate way for a team that crushed everybody five-on-five a year ago, but got away from some of what made them so dangerous, to have their season end. Anyway, kudos to the defending champs for scoring with ten seconds left to force overtime, at least they made the Blackhawks work for it.

 

*

 

Drew Doughty's hip-check on Patrick Kane was about as good a check as you'll see. That Patrick Kane took a hit like this, and also scored a hat-trick tells you all you need to know about the guy who is still Chicago's best player, and one of the most dangerous game breakers in the sport:

 

 

*

 

Jonathan Toews hasn't scored much this postseason, but he had one hell of a game on Saturday night. Toews had a few additional defensive zone starts at even-strength without Patrick Kane in game five, and still pretty handily one his matchups against the Doughty-Regehr pairing and the Anze Kopitar line. His feed to Patrick Kane on the game winning goal was nothing short of sublime. How good is a Toews-Bergeron matchup going to be in the finals?

 

*

 

That Mike Richards deflection that tied the game with ten seconds to go sort of reminded me of Ryan Kesler's late goal in game five of the 2011 Western Conference Final.

 

*

 

Elsewhere in the hockey world, Petr Mrazek led the Grand Rapids Griffins to a one-to-nothing series lead in the Calder Cup Final with a dominant performance against the Syracuse Crunch. Mrazek, a fifth round pick in 2010, has been one of the fastest rising prospect goaltenders in the league for a while now. He demanded attention with a lights out performance in the 2012 OHL playoffs for Ottawa, and he hasn't looked back. Actually he's had one of those rare seasons this year where he spent time in the East Coast league, the American hockey league and the National Hockey league - and excelled at every level. Goaltending really was the difference in game one of the Calder Cup Final, and Mrazek rather cleanly outdueled his counterpart Cedrick Desjardins.

 

*

 

All of Grand Rapids' goals on Saturday were of the greasy variety, but still, Gustav Nyquist and Thomas Jurco are really fun to watch. How does Detroit so consistently find these guys? Ken Holland is some type of wizard.

 

*

 

How about the Edmonton Oilers, firing yet another bench boss. As someone on Twitter pointed out yesterday, this will be Oilers forward Sam Gagner's fifth headcoach in his professional career and he's only 23. Dallas Eakins seems like a smart, talented guy and could be an ideal fit for a young Edmonton team. But if I were him I'd be very hesitant to tie myself to an organization as plainly idiotic and dysfunctional as the Edmonton Oilers have been for the better part of the past decade...

 

*

 

Honestly, even the way this Eakins hiring/Krueger firing is going down would give me pause if I were an Oilers fan. Eakins is a great candidate, but this sort of seems like the organization and new General Manager Craig MacTavish got caught up lusting for the newest bright shiny thing.

 

*

 

The other side of that coin might be the paralytic deliberation Mike Gillis and the Canucks are going through in their coaching search. Did their gradualist approach cost them Dallas Eakins? Maybe, but I don't think he was at the top of their list anyway (I'm thinking John Stevens, Dave Tippett and Dan Bylsma if he gets canned would be their preferred candidates).

 

*

 

Finally, how do you think the Bruins and Blackhawks matchup against each other? I like Boston a bit better than I like the Blackhawks I've got to say - they have a matchup edge at centre, they still employ Zdeno Chara who is pretty good at hockey, and Tuuka Rask is a freak (and a better goaltender than Corey Crawford). For example, if Bergeron plays against Jonathan Toews - and that's a matchup I think favours Boston anyway - who draws the assignment against David Krejci? Dave Bolland? Marcus Kruger? Handzus? I'm picking Boston in 6, and it should be one hell of a series.


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hawkdog said:

hawkdog
... good debate,
are there any other teams that have drafted a 1-2 punch of the DATs/Zett caliber below the 5th round?
June 09, 2013
Votes: +0

4horsemen said:

4horsemen
... So lets just look at the Leafs picks over the same timespan as the 1st comparable (everyone knows they suck at drafting right?):
Gunnarsson round 7 2007
Frattin round 4 2007
Reimer round 4 2006
Stalberg round 6 2006
Stralman round 7 2005
John Mitchell round 5 2003
Ian White round 6 2002
Wellwood round 5 2001
Ponikarovsky round 4 1998

So Detroit has uncovered Helm, Quincey and Ericsson outside of the 3rd round (excluding Dats and Zetterberg -obviously those two are amazing but my point is that outside of them their drafting record is not exceptional and I'm calling these two outliers at this point)

I wanted to contain this exercise to picks outside the first three rounds because I was interested in bringing to light all the 'hidden gems' that Detroit has drafted outside of the two that everybody knows about. The examples you brought up certainly show some good players but what are you comparing it to? To measure successful drafting we must set some sort of benchmark or at least measure against another team to see if their picks really stand out.

Matthais in round 2....well, the Leafs took Kulemin in that same round, Boston took Lucic, the Rangers took Anisimov, Washington took Neuvirth so the Matthais pick doesn't stand out to me. Hell, they drafted Emmerton earlier in the same round and where is he? Better yet, where is Axelsson? Detroit managed to produce one half decent player out of three 2nd round picks and we're using this as an example of success? That is nothing more than average at best.

You also went with Abdelkader in round 2 as being a good pick....well....lets have a look at who else went that round and see if Detroit's pick stands out. Stastny, Raymond and Latendresse all went shortly after Abdelkader and Pavelec, MA Vlasic and James Neal all went just before him. I'd call him a solid yet unspectacular pick.

They don't often have 1st rounders but they don't seem to do very well with the ones they do keep:

Sheahan 1st round 2010 - Remains to be seen
McCollum 1st round 2008 - Probable Bust
Smith 1st round 2007 - Remains to be seen
Kindl 1st round 2005 - Bust
Kronwall 1st round 2000 - Good pick
Fisher 1st round 1998 - Bust

That's a marginal success rate with 1st round picks.

Detroit did an amazing job in 2002 and Franzen was a great 3rd rounder, no doubt about it! So in summary; Detroit have a good drafting record in the 2nd and 3rd rounds and a below average drafting record outside those rounds IF you look at Zets and Dats as outliers and not something likely to be repeated. I'm still looking for the Wizard here.

June 09, 2013
Votes: -1

alexmullen4180 said:

alexmullen4180
... I think, and this is just my gut feeling, that Vancouver will hire Guy Boucher for their coaching vacancy. Just seems like a fit to me.
June 09, 2013
Votes: +0

Big Ev said:

Big Ev
... I was referring to Jurco. Who along with Pulkinnen, and Frk, and countless others, are overrated because they are Wings picks.

4horsemen is bang on.
June 09, 2013
Votes: +0

leaftodd said:

leaftodd
4horsemen excluding the guys who look good but havent made it yet.

Darren Helm in round 5 2005
Fransen was round 3 so i guess he doesnt count but that's a great career for a 3rd rounder so far.
Kyle Quincey round 4 2003
Filpulla was round 3
Jonathan Ericsson round 7 2002
the obvious Zetter round 7 1999
and Dats in round 6 1998

But i do think that getting good NHL'rs in round 2 and 3 is still the mark of a superior GM. Most teams dont succeed often outside of 1.

So.

2006 Matthais round 2
2005 Abdelkader round 2
2003 JImmy Howard round 2
2002 Fleischman and Hudler round 2


That's a great draft record in my opinion.

June 09, 2013
Votes: +0

4horsemen said:

4horsemen
The Wizard? I don't get too excited about 23 year old players doing well in the AHL (Nyquist) and Jurco drafted at #35 is just about exactly where he should have gone so I'd say he's performing as should be expected.

I'll give props to Detroit for pulling Nyquist out of the 4th round but Holland 'The Wizard' also picked up McCollum with his 1st rounder that year, passing on Markstrom, Voynov, Josi, Stepan and Hamonic, to name just a few.

Quick trivia: When is the last time the Wings found a 'hidden gem' (lets call this a guy selected outside of the top 3 rounds) with a proven NHL career? How does that drafting record compare to various other teams in the league that aren't considered to be some sort of drafting juggernaut?
June 09, 2013
Votes: +1

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
Big Ev Who are you referring to? Nyqist? Tatar? Jurco? Datsyuk? Zetterberg? Not every draft pick can be a stud but he pretty consistently finds late round steals.
June 09, 2013
Votes: +0

hawkdog said:

hawkdog
Big Ev I believe Mr Drance is referring to Mr Holland's overall drafting prowess. Not sure what you read but I counted 3 Detroit prospects in his discussion on the wings.
June 09, 2013
Votes: +0

Big Ev said:

Big Ev
... You're not a wizard for drafting a one-dimensional scorer who will never be an NHL regular.
June 09, 2013
Votes: -4

Corstyles said:

Corstyles
Boston vs. Chicago Boston was already having problems with their third line, and now with Campbell out their fourth line doesn't look so intimidating, either. But, Chara is the best defenceman in the Final, and Rask is the best goaltender. On the other hand, Crawford just outplayed Jonathon Quick. I guess what I'm saying is I have no freakin' idea. Boston in 7??

What I know for sure is one hockey game in the next 6 days is going to be tough to stomach. This is an awesome Final, let's drop the puck!!
June 09, 2013
Votes: +3
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