Thursday, 22 May 2008

Just The Facts, Ma'am

I'm no Joe Friday, but since it's almost Friday, I thought I'd just do a quick recap on the world of hockey from the last couple of days. There have been wins and losses, signings and firings, ultimatums and deadlines, and, of course, good hockey games. The AHL Calder Cup Final is close to being set. The ECHL Kelly Cup Final is set. The Memorial Cup playoffs are about to begin. And the big one of them all, the Stanley Cup Final, gets underway this weekend. It's the most wonderful time of the year!

NHL Spin: There have been a few things going on in the NHL.

The Vancouver Canucks resigned head coach Alain Vigneault to an extension that will take him through the 2009-2010 season. I think this is a good signing, and Vigneault has proven himself to be a very good coach in the Canucks' system thus far. However, the Canucks fired assistant coaches Barry Smith and Mike Kelly, two long-time Vigneault associates.

Tony Granato has once again been named the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche. He previously held this position from 2002-04 before being replaced by Joel Quenneville, who he now replaces. Granato has a spectacular record of 72-33-17-11 with the Avalanche, and he has served as their assistant coach for the last two years. I don't really think that Granato is the right man for the job, but he has worked magic before, so it will be interesting to see if he can make it happen again.

Johan Franzen is doubtful for Saturday's opening game of the Stanley Cup Finals. He is reportedly still suffering from concussion-related symptoms. While the Red Wings could certainly use his goal-scoring, having him back at 80% or less won't help anyone, especially him if he gets drilled by one of the Penguins.

The Dallas Stars re-signed co-GMs Les Jackson and Brett Hull to three-year deals, respectively. The interim tag is off, meaning that these two will be guiding the ship for the forseeable future in Dallas. After dealing for Brad Richards last season at the trade deadline, I'd say they deserve a passing grade for their work thus far.

According to the LA Times newspaper, the Anaheim Ducks have reportedly told Scott Niedermayer and free agent Teemu Selanne to make a decision regarding their intentions to play next season by June 20. June 20th is, of course, the NHL Entry Draft, and Brian Burke will be looking to add pieces to his team via the draft and trades if he can. I say kudos to Brian Burke for forcing these two to make a decision after watching his team struggle out of the gates this season. By making both of these players commit one way or another, Burke will know what holes he needs to fill, or what players he can possibly trade away. This move will help the Ducks immensely.

If the NHL is going to get serious about cracking down on crease violations regarding players in the blue ice, they had better start looking at pile-ups in the crease as well. Far too often have there been four or five guys lying in the blue ice, and at the bottom of the pile is the man with the pads.

AHL Spin: A quick update on the Conference Finals going on in the AHL right now.

The Toronto Marlies find themselves in a deep hole again, being down to the Chicago Wolves 3-1 in their series. Goaltender Justin Pogge, in his first AHL playoff start, helped Toronto win Game Four by a 6-1 margin, but they have a long, uphill climb ahead of them still.

The Portland Pirates took a 3-2 series lead over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins after Portland defeated the Penguins on home ice by a 2-1 score. Game Six goes Friday night in WBS as the Penguins look to force Game Seven.

ECHL Spin: The finalists have been set in the Kelly Cup Finals.

The Las Vegas Wranglers secured their berth a few days ago, and they are joined by the Cincinnati Cyclones. Game One of the Kelly Cup Finals is Saturday at 7:30pm ET at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. Cincinnati tied the ECHL record with 26 road wins this season, showing that they as good away from home ice as they are on it. The Cyclones set the ECHL record with 17 wins in a row this season, breaking the old mark of 14 in a row set by Knoxville in 1993-94. Not to be outdone, the Wranglers set an ECHL record and tied the professional hockey league record with 18 consecutive wins in 2006-07, winning their final 13 regular season games and their first five games of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. This final should be a great one!

CHL Spin: One team has gone home, the home team needs some help, and the WHL is sitting pretty.

The Gatineau Olympiques were sent packing back to the QMJHL after the WHL's Spokane Chiefs defeated them earlier this week for Gatineau's third loss of the tournament. At 0-3, they were eliminated from the playoff weekend.

The Belleville Bulls stuck it to the Kitchener Rangers by defeating them in the final round-robin game. With the win, the Belleville Bulls will be the home team and second seed for the semi-final game on Friday night. The OHL Champion Rangers couldn't shake the fiesty Bulls, and will now be the visiting team on Friday.

Spokane will await the winner of the OHL semi-final to see who plays them in Sunday's final. The Chiefs will attempt to become only the fourth American-based club to win the Memorial Cup in the tournament's 89-year history. The Portland Winter Hawks won the Cup in 1983 and 1998, while Spokane won it once before in 1991.

That's all for today. Have a good one, everyone!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Kirsten said...

Please tell me that's a reference to the movie "Dragnet". I love that movie. Also, thanks for the news update. I've been hella busy and far too lazy to keep up with happenings in the real world.

Teebz said...

It sure is! Dragnet is awesome, and I watched it the other night. :o)