Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Hockey Potpourri

There have been a number of things that have flown under the radar this week due to the Stanley Cup Playoffs being on, and the Red Wings simply destroying the city of Pittsburgh. The AHL Calder Cup Final has been set, the ECHL Kelly Cup Final is underway, and there were a few stories that didn't get much press due to the Red Wings handing out shutouts like they were free samples at a grocery store. However, it's time to shine the light on the rest of the hockey world because that's what we do on this site.

Looking at the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, set to take place in Ottawa at Scotiabank Place, it appears that Steven Stamkos of the OHL's Sarnia Sting will definitely become the newest member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"After the draft lottery I got an e-mail from Mr. Feaster," Stamkos said to The Canadian Press, referring to Lightning GM Jay Feaster. "He wanted to meet with me. I was actually supposed to go down this weekend but we had to re-schedule because of the events here."

Stamkos was in Detroit, along with some other highly-regarded draft-eligible players, to meet and greet the Stanley Cup finalists. With him were Zach Bogosian, Drew Doughty, Tyler Myers, Luke Schenn, and Alex Pietrangelo - the second-ranked player through to the sixth-ranked player in North America for the upcoming draft as decided by NHL Central Scouting.

Personally, the draft rankings mean nothing to me, and they shouldn't matter to NHL scouts either. Luke Schenn, who has been often compared to Adam Foote for his style of play, would fill a huge hole on the blueline for Los Angeles. Zach Bogosian, who models his play after Chris Chelios, would also bring some much-needed grit to the Kings' blueline. Bogosian is the better offensive player of the two, but either of those two players would go a long way to making the youthful Kings a much better team in their own end.

The Thrashers need some offence to go along with Kovalchuk, but could really use a guy to get Kovalchuk the puck consistently. Drew Doughty's offensive talents would be a welcomed piece of the puzzle in Hot-lanta, as well as Bogosian if he's not selected by Los Angeles.

St. Louis has the opportunity to pick up another defensive stud in this draft. One of Schenn, Doughty, and Bogosian will be remaining for the fourth overall pick, and they can start building from the blueline out. Erik Johnson is already playing well in St. Louis, so picking up one of these guys will only make them stronger in their own end.

If you're looking for some NHL Entry Draft coverage, Sherry of Scarlett Ice will have great coverage as she's in Ottawa. I suggest checking her site out for added details as the day nears.

Calder Cup: The Chicago Wolves and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins square off in Game One of the Calder Cup Final tomorrow night in Rosemont, Illinois. Both teams are making their third AHL championship appearance in this decade which is a testament to how well these AHL franchises are run.

Chicago advanced to the final with their five-game series win over the Toronto Marlies. The Wolves boast the back-to-back league MVPs and regular-season scoring champs in Darren Haydar and Jason Krog, and have won six of their last seven games in making it to the final.

WBS advanced to the final by defeating the Portland Pirates in a thrilling seven-game series, including winning the last two games. Former Pirate Tim Brent scored the winner in Game Seven with 30.7 seconds remaining.

There are a pile of ridiculous facts that need to be touched on.

The Penguins organization is bidding to be the first to have teams crowned as NHL and AHL champions in the same year since New Jersey and Albany accomplished the feat in 1995. This looks like it may not happen, though, as the NHL Penguins aren't doing so well in their final.

WBS's Dennis Bonvie has played the most AHL playoffs games without winning a championship. That mark stands at 102 games. Alain Nasreddine, also from the Penguins, sits second with 98 career AHL playoff games and no Calder Cups.

Chicago's Ondrej Pavelec and WBS's John Curry are the first rookie goaltenders to square off in the Calder Cup Final since 1995. Fredericton's Jose Theodore faced Albany's Mike Dunham in that Calder Cup Final.

Chicago's Joe Motzko won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim last year, and is attempting to become the first player to win the Stanley Cup and Calder Cup in successive seasons, order not withstanding, since Joe Murphy and Adam Graves won championships in 1989 with the Adirondack Red Wings and in 1990 with the Edmonton Oilers.

Of course, if you want to see what life was like for the WBS Penguins all year, I suggest you read defenceman Ben Lovejoy's blog. Highly entertaining stuff!

Kelly Cup: The Kelly Cup Final got underway in Cincinnati this past Sunday, and the Cyclones used three first-period powerplay goals to pace themselves to a 4-2 victory in Game One.

The biggest crowd in Cyclones playoff history, the biggest crowd in the Kelly Cup playoffs this season, and the largest draw at a Kelly Cup playoff game since 2001 exploded with jubilation when the ECHL rookie of the year, MVP and leading scorer, David Desharnais, put a puck past Las Vegas goaltender Kevin Lalande in the first minute of play. The announced total of 8676 fans didn't have to wait long after the Wranglers' Peter Ferraro tied the game up in the seventh minute. Bryan Schmidt scored another powerplay goal, and Mathieu Aubin made it 3-1 66 seconds later. Jeff Swinger - awesome photo!

Desharnais finished the game with two goals and an assist.

Game Two saw the Wranglers even the series at 1-1, even though they were outplayed for most of the game en route to a 1-0 shutout win.

Adam Miller scored with 4:20 to play, and Kevin Lalande stopped 27 shots for his second shutout of the playoffs, and helped the Wranglers even the series.

"We got outplayed a little bit, but we played hard and we were smarter and a lot more disciplined," Wranglers coach Glen Gulutzan said to Todd Dewey of the Review-Journal. "It was a great playoff game, a close game that could've went either way."

Games Three, Four, and Five take place at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, with Game Three going Thursday night. This series turned a little rough as Las Vegas was called for several roughing and boarding calls, so there may be a little more fire in this series when these teams take to the ice on Thursday night.

Odds and Ends: Here is some other randomness that may not have gotten a lot of press with all the news swirling around the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

  • An arbitrator has decided that the New York Rangers are required to pay Bobby Holik and Jed Ortmeyer a portion of their signing bonuses that were withheld. The Rangers argued that the players needed to play during the lockout in 2004-05 in order to be paid their signing bonus, but the arbitrator disagreed. Holik will be paid $3.5 million, while Ortmeyer will be paid an undisclosed sum of money.
  • A federal jury rejected a request to award former Detroit Red Wing Vladimir Konstantinov and former Red Wing masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov nearly $300 million regarding their 1997 limo crash that left both men with disabling brain injuries. The jury decided that Findlay Ford Lincoln Mercury of Ohio was not responsible whatsoever. James Feeney, the lawyer representing the dealership, called their decision a "common sense verdict".
  • The Boston Bruins swapped defenceman Jonathan Sigalet to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Matt Marquardt.
  • After meeting with Dave Nonis regarding the vacant general manager's position, the Toronto Maple Leafs met with former Stars' GM Doug Armstrong. Armstrong built the foundation of the current Stars' team, and is a good executive when it comes to evaluating talent. Which way will the Leafs go? Refer to the picture at the start of this article.

I think that will do it for today. Have a good one, everyone, and get ready for Game Three from Pittsburgh tonight!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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