Saturday, June 27, 2009
Brown becomes the fifth Wolverine in the Coyotes organization, joining Kevin Porter, Chad Kolarik, Al Montoya, and Chris Summers. Bennett joins Max Pacioretty and Mike Komisarek as a member of the Montreal franchise.
The New England Hockey Journal caught up with the newest Hab who was in Montreal for the draft.
WPRI had an interview (pre-draft) with Bennett and his father before they headed to Montreal. There are some good highlights of Mac in there, including a sick little pass at about the 2:40 mark.
INCH has a quick bit about Bennett where he says he'd like to compare himself to a Mike Green type.
MGoBlog chimes in. Definitely a plus that Brown went to an organization that has a history of letting guys from Michigan stay in school. Kolarik and Porter played four years, and they don't seem to be pushing Summers to turn pro. He also makes a point that Montreal is a scary place for Mac Bennett to have gone, given that they took Komo (2 years) and Pacioretty (1 year) early and he still has another year of juniors before arriving at Michigan. Don't listen to them, Mac! Our 2010 team is gonna be nasty! :-)
The bleachers at Yost are going to get replaced. No more playing games of "Is today the day someone falls through?" (HT MGoBlog)
Phoenix's official website has a video interview with Brown. He seems like he's pretty happy to have ended up there--and probably doesn't want to see that team move. About Michigan, "I'm going there, hopefully for a couple of years [before moving to Phoenix]."
The other news is that UNO is officially headed to the WCHA, along with Bemidji State, in 2010-11. While the CCHA wouldn't comment on a 12th team, it seems pretty reasonable to assume that Alabama-Huntsville will be joining the conference. I'm just happy that it looks like the conferences were able to work out the logistics so that two programs (including one that just made the Frozen Four) wouldn't have to fold.
I guess the question now becomes, what happens when the time arrives for another school to start up a D-1 program. Does this kill Moorhead's chances of creating a program (if the CCHA takes UAH)? Will they create a Big Ten Hockey Conference (I know, I know) and open up slots for several teams? It's interesting that in saving two teams, they've effectively sealed off hope of future Western expansion without starting another new conference.
I'll miss UNO. On the bright side for them, after they move to the WCHA they'll beat Michigan about as often as they currently do.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
MHNet has links to Bob McKenzie's rankings as well as more from Red Line Report. McKenzie compares Chris Brown (#39 overall) to Jamie Langenbrunner. TSN, ISS, Central Scouting, and McKeen's really like him (ranking him between 34-40). Red Line Report has him as #101. McKenzie has Mac Bennett as #56 overall and he compares Bennett to Petr Svoboda, which is kind of awesome. It wouldn't be remotely shocking to see him go higher than that. Kevin Lynch is listed an as Hono(u)rable Mention.
Here's yet another feature on Bennett and Derek DeBlois, who played together growing up, played together at Hotchkiss Prep, should play together in Cedar Rapids, and will play together at Michigan.
Kevin Allen from USA Today predicts Bennett will go in the second round.
The Maple Leafs Hot Stove profiles Chris Brown as a potential Leafs' selection.
Another Brown profile.
The Hockey Program has Bennett as his sleeper.
The New England Hockey Journal has Bennett as the #3 New England area player and DeBlois as the #9 player from the region. They have profiles of both. DeBlois is describe as a "fiery, playmaking sparkplug".
WCH profiles Kevin Lynch.
Not draft related: The Hockey News has their fantasy look at the St Louis Blues for next year and states that Aaron Palushaj could see 50-60 games. (HT Bret at GoBlueWolverine)
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Rohrkemper had a 8-17--25 line with a +6 rating in 60 games this season. He had 7-6--13 in 54 games the previous year. He had 75 PIMs over the two years he played in the USHL. Pointstreak lists him at 5'11", 177.
He wore #10 with the Stampede, so there's probably a good chance he ends up with that at Michigan as well (unless one of our other recruits wore 10 and I just didn't notice).
Quote from the coach:
"I think Jeff is a valuable recruit for Michigan,” said Sioux Falls head coach Kevin Hartzell. “He can play the role of a third-line center – meaning he can play against other top lines, win face-offs and be dependable in all situations.”
For lots and lots of photos, click here.
He was first-team all state in Michigan in 2007 while playing for Grosse Pointe North.
That's about all I got.
Monday, June 15, 2009
I want you to choose between two players.
Player 1 will turn 31 this summer. He has played 98 playoff games.
Player 2 will turn 31 next winter. He has also played 98 playoff games, and let me take a moment to thank him for that, because it makes this comparison almost perfect.
Player 1's career postseason numbers: 22 goals, 41 assists, plus-19.
Player 2's career postseason numbers: 31 goals, 45 assists, plus-4.
Which player would you rather have?
I'll give you a moment to think about it. (I'm whistling ... whistling ... OK, time's up.)
Have you made your choice? Good.
Player 1 is Pavel Datsyuk.Player 2 is Hossa.
That's just beautiful. And before I hear the "But Tim, didn't pretty much everyone think Datsyuk was a playoff choker early in his career" comments, yes, you're right. How could we not think that when after scoring 3-3--6 in 21 games in his first playoff run, he then went 3 seasons and 21 games without a goal in the postseason.
But with 49 points in his last 56 playoff games, you'd think he has shed that label by now. And notice that he's getting the benefit of the doubt for his postseason performance, where he only scored one goal even before he missed games with a broken foot. That wouldn't have happened several years ago.
Now look at Hossa. Datsyuk's 49 points in 56 games has been enough to shed his label as a perennial underachiever (more due to 39 points in 40 games over the 07 and 08 playoffs than what he did this year). Well, Hossa has had 41 points in 43 games over the past two playoff years (including this year where he was an "underachieving choker") and has 46 points in his last 54 playoff games. Pretty darn comparable to the best of Datsyuk's career, no?
Then when you factor in that Hossa, in addition to the numbers above, has an additional season where he scored 16 points in 18 games and another where he scored 10 points in 12 games, it becomes exceedingly difficult to see why he's been labeled as someone who can't perform in the postseason.
Let me be perfectly clear: The 16 points in 18 games (when he led the Sens in scoring by 5 points) and 10 points in 12 games were not factored into his numbers that are almost identical to the best playoff stretch of Pavel Datsyuk's career.
Outside of the past 3 playoffs for Datsyuk, he has 42 games played and a line of 3-12--15. Outside of the past 4 playoffs for Hossa (to get the numbers above equivalent), he has 44 games played and a line of 10-20--30.
Hossa is younger, he's outperformed Datsyuk in the playoffs consistently, he's money in the regular season as well, and yet the same people who couldn't praise Ken Holland enough for locking Datsyuk in for years at a reasonable $6.7 million per year absolutely despite the idea of Hossa coming back, even for what could be as low as a $4 million cap hit.
The idea that the Red Wings could keep a 40-goal scorer who is one of the top defensive forwards in the National Hockey League for just a tick more than they're paying Brad "Buzzkill" Stuart should have anyone turning backflips. Aside from players still on their rookie contracts, there might not be a better bargain in the NHL if those numbers are accurate.
So, thank you Mike Rosenberg for being one of the few people out there who seems to get it.
Hell, I'm not done yet. Alright, so one of the other myths out there is that Hossa has only had one good year in the playoffs (last year for the Penguins when he had 26 points in 20 games). Let's take a look at that one, shall we?
In 2002-03, he led the Senators in scoring by 5 points over 18 games when he had 5-11--16.
In 2001-02, he was second on the Senators in scoring with 10 points in 12 games (Alfredsson had 13 points).
In 2003-04, when they lost in seven games, he had 3-1--4 and was the only player on the entire team to score more than one goal.
In 2000-01 they were swept and scored three goals in the series. Hossa was in on two of them, with a 1-1--2 line. (Note that I'm not calling this a "good" year in the playoffs, but when you're in on 2/3 of your team's goals, there are bigger problems on the roster.)
Then there was last year when he led the Penguins in goals and finished one point behind Crosby for the team lead.
It's just kind of interesting how perception becomes reality when everyone (Versus/NBC analysts, I'm looking at you) is too lazy to look at the stats.
WCH has some good Wolverine-related stuff today. USA Hockey released their list of guys who will be competing for spots on the World Junior team. They invited four goalies, 15 defensemen, and 24 forwards--so roughly half will make it. Included in the invitees are Jack Campbell, AJ Treais, David Wohlberg, Robbie Czarnik, and Kevin Lynch. (Also former Michigan commit AJ Jenks is on the list.)
Based on the sites I've seen, Campbell seems to be a favorite to nab one of the goaltending positions, and why not with the way he played at U18s and the way he played all year against international competition? Great for him, potentially not great for us assuming he's more Al Montoya than Thomas McCallum when he's there.
WCH also continues his draft profiles with a look at Wolverine forward Chris Brown.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Hossa: The first thing that I have to say about the Finals--and the main point of the post--is this: If you blame Marian Hossa for Detroit losing to the Penguins, you're a fucking moron just like that ass-clown Mike Milbury. If you blame Marian Hossa for this, you agree with a guy who was arguably the worst-GM in sports history until Matt Millen came along.
The guy had the same number of points in the Finals as Sidney Crosby, who got fellated pretty much non-stop. He had more points per game in the playoffs than Pavel Datsyuk (and 12 of Datsyuk's 15 games were pre-foot injury, so I really don't want to hear it). He had one fewer goal in the playoffs than Henrik Zetterberg if you ignore empty-netters.
With the Wings down 2 games to 1 to Anaheim--in a road game Detroit absolutely had to have to stay alive--Hossa scored twice in the second period to turn a 2-2 game into a 4-2 Wings lead heading to the third. He set up our final two goals in Game 2 of the Finals, which was a 3-1 win. He had the primary assist on the goal that opened the floodgates in Game 5. He had a pair of goals in the elimination game against Columbus, one of the few games when everybody's boy-toy couldn't stop anything.
Here are the players on Detroit who had more goals than Hossa: Zetterberg, Franzen (who by the way had just 1 more point than Hossa in the Finals), and Cleary. That's it.
Here are the players on Detroit who didn't have more goals than Datsyuk: Leino, Lebda, Chelios, Meech, Kopecky, Maltby. Draper had the same number. Maltby and Lebda were the only ones who played more games.
One of those players is a Hart finalist. The other is being labelled an underachiever by seemingly everyone in the city.
The point of the above isn't to point the finger at Datsyuk. It's to point out how absurd it is that people are blaming Hossa for what happened. I think I've heard everything in the last few days: He's a one-way player (Uhhh...). He has only had one good playoff in his career (Never mind that he had 10 points in 12 games, 16 points in 18 games, and 26 points in 20 games before his 15 in 22 this year). He just wanted to ride other players' coattails to the championship.
This isn't rocket science. The guy is injured. Watch him in the regular season, then watch how he was skating in the playoffs. To make it even easier, he got hurt right at the end of the regular season. He took a knee-to-knee hit at the end of the Chicago series. It's not that hard. But why give him the same benefit of the doubt that Datsyuk is getting? Maybe he should've sat out a few games and people would be more forgiving. Whatever. Does he deserve some blame? For sure. He didn't have the kind of playoffs anyone was hoping for. But he was fine. 4th in goals, 4th in points. He didn't disappear. And I'm pretty convinced he was playing injured (not hurt, injured).
The past few days made me long for the regular season, when the only people who would talk about hockey were the people who really cared to watch.
Train Wreck and Stuart: Next up, we've got the defense pairing from Hell. Nik Kronwall's official name with me has been "Train Wreck" since the first round. He was an absolute disaster in the playoffs. A couple good games, but overall it was turnover after turnover, dumb penalty after dumb penalty. Brad Stuart had one of the most bipolar playoffs I can recall. Some games I wanted to take back every bad thing I've ever said about him. He was really strong during the Anaheim series. Then he went back to being the guy that he's been his entire career. He was a complete abortion tonight. The Wings looked really strong out of the gate until he took (yet another) dipshit penalty. They couldn't regain the momentum after that kill where they barely got the puck out of the zone. He turned the puck over deep in his own end on the first goal. He made a horrible, horrible pinch on the second goal. The best thing he did all night was turn the puck over a couple of times when it didn't end up in the back of our net.
I owe Ken Holland an apology about a lot of things I've written in the past (more on that later) but this isn't one of them. How a guy like that, who has played for five different teams since the 05-06 season, managed to finagle a no-trade clause is beyond me. He's not an awful defenseman. He's really not. But we're paying him like a #3. We're playing him like a #3. He's not a #3. And he and Train Wreck together is a penalty or goal waiting to happen. It's not a coincedence that every time they were on the ice together in the first period, it looked like Pittsburgh had a mini-power play.
Osgood: He played well enough to win the Cup again. If the Wings had won tonight he (rightfully) would have won the Conn Smythe. That being said, he's completely become senior-year John Navarre. You can't even hint that maybe, maybe a goal he let up was a soft one without people going bonkers.
The game-winning goals in Game 6 and Game 7 were awful. No, the offense didn't help him. Yes he played very well in Game 6 anyway. But he's not without blame for losing this series and he won't get any of it. It's also worth pointing out that this is the third time (or I guess 2 1/2 time) in his last 5 playoffs as a Wing that he's been a part of blowing a 2 games to 0 lead. Overall though, he was very, very good in the playoffs and probably the biggest reason they made it as far as they did. I could do without the uber-arrogant/defensive answers in the pressers ("I'm not the one to ask [about what happened in Game 6]"....get over yourself) though.
I still firmly believe that I was right about him when he was in his first stint in Detroit, but he's been a completely different goalie since the mid-point of 06-07. He might get in the Hall of Fame. He doesn't belong there, and I'm more than willing to have that debate sometime. But 3 Cups (and counting?), 2 as a starter, and way up the list of wins, playoff wins, and shutouts is still a pretty damn nice career.
Holland: I owe him an apology about quite a few things that I've written over the years. He wasn't a "damn fool" for bringing Osgood back. He wasn't an idiot for picking Daniel Larsson over Joe Palmer (God, Tim....). I still think the drafting was overrated for a while there, but it's been great lately. I didn't give him credit for the Cup in 98 (Bowman's team) or 02 (Hasek fell into his lap). But he has completely rebuilt the team from the one that won the Cup in 02. There's a salary cap now and the Red Wings are still the class of the league. They've gone from an aging team to one where most of the stars (Lidstrom aside) are in their prime. He's been masterful at managing the cap (finding the loophole where you can tack years onto the end of the deal to lower the cap hit, without paying the piper when the guy retires). He deserves a ton of credit for the team that won the Cup last year (though I still think he made a mistake by not finding another forward...Franzen breaking out was completely unexpected and very fortunte), and for building a team that should have won the Cup again. Can't blame the GM for this one. One move that hurt was keeping Chelios over Quincey. I really liked Quincey when he played a huge role in the playoffs a couple years ago and he's flourishing in LA. If nothing else, he's light years better than Derek Meech and always has been.
The Officiating/NHL: I don't think there's a conspiracy, though I do think Pittsburgh had a favorable whistle--though not by enough that it should remotely be an excuse. I could've gone for an icing call on the first goal tonight (remedy: Don't turn the puck over) and blowing the too-many-men call was completely inexcusable (remedy: Kill off the power play Pitt ended up getting a minute later). (And if the reports are true that the ref told the Pittsburgh player to get back to the bench, he should be fired immediately.) On the other side, Pittsburgh should have gotten one, if not two, penalty shots in games they lost. Too many critical blown calls, no matter who you were rooting for.
I don't think the league did Detroit any favors by accelerating the pace of the series, though we lost both games where there was a longer layoff beforehand, so maybe that isn't true. I don't think they would have bumped up the start of the series if Crosby was the one injured instead of Datsyuk, and I don't think I need a tinfoil hat to say that.
I don't really want to hear "A penalty is a penalty is a penalty" ever again though. It's not. Fewer penalties might have actually favored Detroit, given how piss-poor the penalty kill was all season. But they don't call the games the same way in the playoffs. And that's fine if you're letting it go both ways (which by and large, they did--though that big call on Ericsson was crap and they missed a 5-minute major when Hossa got boarded late in that game) but don't insult us and say you're calling it the same way no matter the situation. It's obviously not true.
I bet the league is very happy they changed the rule about instigator penalties in the last five minutes. When the rule first came in, it was an automatic, non-appealable suspension. They changed the rule to allow for review of the circumstances. If that rule doesn't change, the Wings go up 3-0 because Malkin won them that game. Due to the rule change, I don't have a problem with him not getting suspended. I do think it's hysterical that Campbell said that the rule was put in place to prevent teams from trying to "sending a message" since that's exactly what he was trying to do.
How's this for an idea: I'm not sure I love it, but it's better than nothing. If you get an instigator in the last 5 minutes of a game, the league reviews it and if they let you off with no suspension, you serve your 10 minute misconduct the next game. The potential suspension still keeps the goons somewhat at bay. The mandatory misconduct makes everyone decide if it's really worth it or not. What Malkin did probably didn't warrant a suspension, but you also shouldn't be able to do what he and the Penguins did and serve no penalty whatsoever. It was at the point in the game where they could say "Screw it, give them a 5 on 3. Eject me." and not care about it. That's the whole reason the instigator suspension was installed in the first place. If you're not going to enforce it, why even have a rule that says "We can suspend you if you do something bad." Well no crap.
The Future: I think it's pretty clear that some of the kids need to come up. Helm's breakaway goal against Anaheim was one of the few times in my life that I've actually been speechless about something that I just saw. He's going to be a fan favorite for years to come, and already I'm considering a 43 sweater when I retire my signed Holmstrom one. Abdelkader, Leino, Ericsson...these guys need to be on the team. (Abdelkader isn't so bad when he's not taking penalties constantly.) It's time for Maltby to go. Kopecky and Meech are two of the most "dime a dozen" players on our roster, even if they are young. Tomas Holmstrom looked like he got really old really fast in the playoffs and you have to wonder how much is left with the constant beating he takes. I hate saying it, because he's always been a favorite of mine. I bought a 96 jersey before it was even definite that he wasn't going back to 15. He still had a productive regular season, even though he's missed a lot of time the past two years. He was a liability in the playoffs though.
I want Hossa back. Maybe the money would be better spent on a #3 defenseman that doesn't blow. But the guy we saw in the playoffs wasn't the guy he is. He's a legit top 15-20 forward in the league and if he wants to take another run at it, I'd be thrilled to have him back. He'll get his Cup if he stays here. I love players who say it's not about the money and actually mean it. He instantly became my favorite guy on the team and I want to see him holding the Cup in a Red Wings jersey. Maybe it's not the smartest use of the money, but I'm biased. (And if you want to dump him for being "invisible" in the Finals, are you keeping Hudler?)
I'd love to see either Stuart or Kronwall out the door, but I don't think it'll happen. Stuart has one of the most inexplicable no trade clauses in sports and Kronwall has enough potential that moving him could come back to bite the Wings big-time. Holland wouldn't take a risk like that, and truth be told, I'm not sure I would either. That being said, I'd be really curious to see what the haul would be. He's a young defenseman who can put up 45-50 points, block shots, and hit (sometimes legally and sometimes at a good time).
With how much offensive defensemen go for, it might be worth listening. But if he ever learns how to pick his spots and how to not turn the puck over like he's scared of it, he could be a #1 defenseman and trading him could look really stupid. All I know is we're paying almost $8 million for a defense corps that scares the shit out of me when they're on the ice together.
Balls I can't believe they lost that series. But man was that a great playoff. The NHL postseason is the best two months in sports. It's a shame more people don't realize it. Then again, with the nonsense I've read over the past four days, maybe it'd be better if it stayed a niche sport come playoff time as well.
Billy Powers cited Moffie as a potential power play quarterback, who comes in with credentials similar to Chad Langlais (except younger than Chad was when he came in). He cited Sparks's skating ability as a strength.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Bennett’s skating is his hallmark, with the kind of speed and east-west agility that some players can only dream about. When at the top of his game, Bennett is like an untamed colt, using his powerful mobility and offensive instincts to push defenses back on their heels and lead the attack.
Western College Hockey has a draft profile on Bennett.
Next is a nice find by Goon about the ongoing saga of how the conferences will end up being aligned. Finally something that makes sense! Straight from the horse's mouth (the AD), the University of Alaska is now exploring the possibility of joining the WCHA. It sounds like we should be hearing more about this story fairly soon as the Chancellor was briefed on May 27.
It really does make sense on a lot of levels. As it is, seven CCHA teams make the trip to Alaska every season. This past year, 7 of the other 9 WCHA schools made the trip up there. So out of the conferences affected by the Alaskan teams, 14 out of the 20 schools had to go up there for conference regular season games. If you get them both in the same conference, you'd cut that number in half. It really wouldn't be that bad. You'd have one two-week trip to Alaska two out of every three years. It makes a lot more sense than what we've got going on right now. Alaska gets a natural rival in conference, UAH gets to keep their program.
For the record, I'm not only behind this move because it would put both Alaskan teams in the WCHA. I'd be just fine if the WCHA took Huntsville (or UNO) and we ended up with Anchorage. It makes a ton of sense to get those two schools in the same conference.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
The regular season closes with a Thursday-Saturday home-and-home against the Fighting Irish, with the Thursday game being at Yost. Fantastic. While I like the idea of playing ND the last weekend of the season, I don't like the fact that it will more than likely be over the students' Spring Break. I haven't confirmed that, but it seems like Senior Night is almost always sans students. FYS, Notre Dame, and BGSU are in our cluster this year. Advantage: Miami.
MHNet provided some thoughts on the schedule in a couple of posts.
The other news is that we might be adding another high-profile name to the ridiculous Class of 2010. Mike Spath posted that Lucas Lessio, a first-round pick in the OHL Draft, may become a Wolverine. He would then play at St. Mike's (The school that produced Caporusso, Cogliano, and Burlon) next season. His source told him that Lessio would be the best player to come to Michigan out of Ontario in the last decade (which includes the names listed above as well as Mike Cammalleri). Lofty praise. He's been compared to Rick Nash in the past, according to that thread.
He's 16 years old and currently stands 6'1", 178. He was named MVP of the OHL Cup this past season after scoring 11 points in 7 games. He had a 53-60--113 line with 123 PIMs in 72 games for the Toronto Marlboros.
Thoughts from his current coach:
“He’s got great skill, great hands and great speed,” said Marlboros coach Ken Strong. “He really handles the puck well. As a left shot, he’s probably one of the best I’ve seen beating the defenseman wide and cutting in on the left side, which is really hard to do because your body wants to go the other way.”
Here are some quotes from the Niagara GM, who picked him in the OHL Draft:
“He’s a big time sniper,” Brown said. “He reminds me of Luca Caputi in his 19th year, but I think he’s far advanced as to where Luca was when he came into the league. He’s definitely 100 per cent the best player available with that selection.”
Brown sees Lessio as an immediate impact player.
“We’re going to put him in position to succeed. I’m real excited about the future with him joining our young forwards,” Brown said. “He’s got natural savvy. He goes to the net with his stick on the ice and in the lane all the time. He’s deflected more meaningless pucks toward the middle more than anyone I’ve seen in the draft in six or seven years.
“I don’t want to say he’s a highlight guy, but he’s a real high-end offensive player.”
Michigan's interest is mentioned in a number of the articles about him. Pretty clearly he'd be a HUGE get for a class that seems to only be getting better and better.
The Cedar Rapids Roughriders have set their preliminary 30-man roster for the upcoming USHL season. They'll have to trim to 25 later in the summer, but at the moment, both Derek Deblois and Mac Bennett are on the roster. If they both decide to go the OHL route and make the team, when Cedar Rapids plays the NTDP, all currently-committed members of the 2010 recruiting class would be on the ice at the same time. I smell road trip. To Iowa. (No link, accidentally closed the window...take my word for it.)
Ticket sales for the Camp Randall Hockey Classic pretty much suck. Just over 18,000? I wonder how many tickets they have to sell for the game to turn a profit? They're still hoping for 40k.