Hockey Week Season 2: Episode 8 (03/25/09): Bickering, Goalie Demonstration, Over 18 Night?

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Stearns is back and more bicker-happy than ever, bandwagoning ever moreso to the Vancouver Canucks. We discuss the damage butterfly goaltending does to the body, which includes a great demonstration from Rob. discussion of Las Vegas Wranglers' Over-18-Night goes overboard, arguments over the Phantoms moving, and of course, standings debates. (not to mention, my favorite commercials, some real great ones you've never seen here!)

John's Outlandish Claims and My Defense

So, we're playing battleship now? My move...

Ottawa is in the playoff race again. Surprised? You shouldn't be. Why? Because they're 13-5-2 in their last 20 games. Since Hartsburg's firing and Clouston's hiring, the Senators became the biggest turn-around team in the NHL this year. Yes, last year they did the same thing, but in the opposite direction. Think about it, 13 wins, 2 OT/SO losses = 28 pts. That's a lot of points for a team to grab up in 20 games. Shooting up the standings? Not so much considering that the slots are being filled at this point as there are merely 10 games left per team. BUT, ponder this! The Senators have 74 points, standing in 11th place, 7 points back of 8th place. Mathematically, if all things stay equal, all they need to do is win 9 out of the ten games remaining (or win 8 and lose 2 in OT/SO). My point in all of this, speaking of points, is that the Ottawa Senators are the hottest team in the NHL on task with the Detroit Red Wings (who in fact have the same record in the last 20 games)!

Did I lead you on yet? Of course I did, and guess what? John, yes you can trash them all you want, but face the facts, Vancouver is the best team in the NHL right now (just ignore the scoring into their own empty net on a delayed Phoenix penalty). I should just put you in the box, John. 15-4-1 in the last 20 games is something you shouldn't brush aside! When a team is this hot, paying attention is important. These aren't one goal games either! Majority of them are two goal differences! With the game changing dynamic of their play, Vancouver can grow so far in their remaining 11 games to overtake the Northwest Division as Calgary's flame seems to have fizzled out. John would say something like, "Oh, well just because Calgary is 5-5-0 in their last ten, doesn't mean they're going to fall out of the top spot in the Northwest!" Their next three games are against Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Minnesota, then San Jose, Dallas, and Minnesota...Look at this month's scores: Loss to Carolina 6-1, Loss to Atlanta 5-2, Loss to Toronto 8-6, Loss to St. Louis 3-2. It's laughable. Since the trade deadline (where everyone raved and raved that the Flames did amazing), they are 4-5-0. Where's the impact from all those amazing moves? Bottom line, Vancouver has a strong change of taking the Northwest by numbers at this point in the season. John, last show (along with Rob) you said the top three in the Western Conference aren't going anywhere, well...see above. Vancouver has a strong shot.

Ok, now to quickly clarify that quote John used. I fibbed a little in that quote because Mr. Baranowski lectured me to "Not mention detailed standings or anything specific about the standings". So, what did I do? I generalized and mentioned nothing in particular just to cover ourselves going into the break. If I had my way, I would have spoke up and said "Montreal will continue to spiral downhill through the next couple weeks and past the trade deadline." I wanted to say it, I was hurting to say it, but John told me to keep in vague. I did! He got his wish. Personally, I wanted to virtually strangle him for censoring me, but, oh well. End result, G.C. is fired and B.G. takes over. Carey Price, I argued last year, was showing that he's a bit shaky and shouldn't be put in the position to carry the team on his shoulders following the Huet to Washington move. Halak has seen much more ice time lately, has he not? Go figure. Don't ever censor me on standings, John, because I'll puppet to your request and leave a general quote for you to use against me. I spoke those lines to please you because you threatened by life if I mentioned anything specific. Along those lines, the standings haven't shifted too dramatically aside from Pittsburgh's rise to a battle of the bottom four, and Detroit's rise to toggle with San Jose at the top. (Great game on Sunday between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, by the way). Pittsburgh 29 points in their last 20 games, Philadelphia 25 points in their last 20 games, these are two teams on the rise, and I'm willing to bet these two see each other first round and go 7 games.

Bottom line of all that was said above: The top 5 teams going into the playoffs are Vancouver, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and New Jersey (Yeah, 14-6-0, Brodeur breaking the Wins record and closing in on the shutout Honorable mention if they do not make the playoffs...Ottawa.

To close out this ranting, I'd like to apologize for not appearing in the last show. I had very important matters to tend, too. My family means a lot to me. Though you all are like a family to me, I chose to focus my efforts on my parents and family. Oh, and I got a new car! But, my family was the primary reason why I was tied up.

Also, I'd like to apologize for John's saying "regardless". I lost count at 43.

~Rant Man~

P.S.- I ignored enough of John's posting because it point-blank (and pointlessly) cheaply went after Buffalo, and had no real flow to it. I'm allowed to type and ramble all over the place. I deserved that right. Just wait until my Stanley Cup Playoff picks. I'm having fun calculating in my mind all of the scenarios. The cat will be let out of the bag real soon.

Hockey Week Season 2: Episode 7 (3/15/09): Brodeur, Fighting, Trade Reactions

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Stearns sat this episode out, so Rob and John have an excellent argument concerning the possible upcoming changes to the penalties related to fighting and our top 5 goalies of all time. This episode had some of the best discussion yet. Enjoy, as we recap everything we missed because of spring break.

Fight Rants with Rants, How Hockey Week Works

I was contemplating a blog post, until I saw Mr. Stearns call me out on the blog. Yes, I check the blog, and you should too.

At the time the last episode was filmed, nobody HAD shot up the standings. Only two teams had more than 6 wins or 6 losses in the past 10 games. 60% is no barn-burner, and realistically will be cancelled out just 10 games later. If you recall, the last episode was filmed on the 18th, and therefore anything based on the whole of the month of February would be a lie. BUT WAIT, the show Dave is referencing is from the 10th of February, showing just how much changes in 18 days, proving my point further: the L10 statistic is very misleading, and not something one should rely on.

The L10 doesn’t tell you the real story, and at times, nor do the statistics until long after the fact. The L10 doesn’t tell you about Martin Brodeur’s triumphant return, in fact, the 8-2-0 that the Devils have currently shows that they haven’t missed a beat, meanwhile the Devils have hit a whole new level of domination and are scary enough to be discussed on ESPN’s Around the Horn. It can’t possibly indicate the effects of the Rangers’ coaching change, or lack thereof. Even a 3-5-2 doesn’t show just how much the loss of Ryan Miller damages the Sabres.

Can I also point out that David Stearns, the Rant Man himself, said on February 18th’s episode, and I quote, “As far as the standings go? Yeah, they’re tight. They’re not going anywhere for a while. A lot of teams have been fluctuating here and there. You really can’t make any specific movements, or any discussions about specific movements because in the next few weeks, one team is going to be all the way up here and the other one is going to be way down here…The top four teams are locked in and the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th seeds are fluctuating.” This means, if I am not misrepresenting the Rant Man, that statistics only account for so much.

Aside from that, the Vancouver Canucks are a team that has garnered more undeserved media hype than any other team. Calculating wins, losses, and ties over the history of the franchise, it is the farthest under .500 of any franchise. In two Stanley cup finals appearances, it has come up with nothing. This team has wasted chances with many good, and some I dare say great, players. Markus Naslund was poised as the greatest thing since sliced bread. He dominated in a western conference shared by Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic. Matthias Ohlund was touted as this great defenseman, There were teams that made Dan Cloutier look good! Now they have Roberto Luongo, supergoalie extraordinaire, and bring in Mats Sundin with a boatload of money and more media coverage than I care to handle.

Yes, they’ve had a wonderful February, but how about June? Does anybody honestly expect them to be in the Stanley Cup Finals? I haven’t heard a single prediction that includes them, and I’m not about to give one. I hate wasting time on Vancouver, and I shan’t even put them in the Best Teams to Never Win the Cup, because these Canucks teams don’t belong anywhere near the early-70s Sabres, the early-00s Senators or even the late-70s Kings. Quite frankly, the Canucks are one of those teams who are good year in and year out, but have never had what it takes to make it over the hump, they are another San Jose, another Calgary (though I give the Flames credit for at least going to the finals in 2004), but they will never be a league superpower.

Promise? Only the promise of looking good and failing miserably when it counts. They can take a seat next to Patrick Lalime and the Philadelphia Flyers in the “not accomplishing diddly” section.

Teams get hot, teams go cold, and some teams just don’t have it in the Playoffs. When the Canucks can do something substantial in the postseason, I’ll talk about them. In the meantime, I’ll let all the other analysts do that job.

What I would like to talk about is the status of some other things in the NHL. Knowing our viewers, all 5 of you, I’d like to address the falling Buffalo Sabres. Unless Buffalo makes some sort of trade for a goaltender, or finds that diamond in the rough Cinderella goaltender in their own minor leagues, or through some miracle Ryan Miller comes back, their playoff hopes are over. This is a team that has what it needs to make an impact in the playoffs.

In a depth chart full of “who?”s, “huh?”s and “he’s ok”s beats the heart of a team. …and I do mean TEAM. This phenomenon is rare, shown a handful of times in history, the most recent great example being the undamphousse’d San Jose Sharks, but it is one that must be celebrated. Who are the superstars on this team? If you’re a Sabres fan, I’m sure you shouted a few players at your screen just now. If you’re a simple enjoyer of hockey who is not well versed with every team’s rosters, you’re probably thinking pretty hard, and the answers you came up with are injured. Somehow, this team prevails in the face of such adversity. That is something to be admired, and is darn impressive.

That brings me to my next theory, one that the Rant Man has disagreed vehemently with me about: teams cannot win championships with a terrible goaltender. Chris Osgood, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Nikolai Khabibulin, Martin Brodeur, Dominik Hasek, Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour, Mike Richter, Tom Barrasso, Bill Ranford, Mike Vernon, Grant Fuhr, Billy Smith, Ken Dryden are the Stanley Cup winning goalies of the past 30+ years. No terrible goalies. You could make arguments about Ranford, Vernon, and Fuhr…but you’d be hard-pressed to call them terrible for the season in which they won a championship. Let’s face it, a goaltender is an essential part of any successful team. Patrick Lalime is not good enough to excel in the playoffs. He showed that while playing for an excellent Senators team, one of the aforementioned best-to-never-win-the-cup. Let’s face it, Roger Crozier and Rogatien Vachon weren’t spectacular either, no matter how fond our memories of them are. Buffalo NEEDS a goaltender if they plan for any kind of success beyond April 12th.

Aside from that, the Penguins have swept into that playoff vacuum left by the Sabres, with Marc-Andre Fleury winning his 100th game, moving him into 3rd on the most-wins-by-a-Penguins-Goaltender list behind only Tom Barrasso and Ken Wregget. Has this become the evidence to silence Fleury critics? If you consider that Rick Kehoe is the Penguins’ 3rd leading scorer, you can see that if you fight long enough, you can gain accolades. You cannot call him less than OK, but he has still yet to show that he is great, something that will only come with a Stanley Cup win. Those who doubt this, think about where Marcel Dionne, Gilbert Perrault, Rod Gilbert, and Adam Oates fall on the list of greatest players. Ask a football fan about the greatest players, and see how Dan Marino takes a huge hit because of his lack of Super Bowl victories.

Back on-topic, the Penguins have battled their way back into the playoffs…for now. They need to achieve 7th or preferably 6th place to have a chance at making it past the first round. A rather difficult schedule will settle only one thing: If the Penguins make it to the playoffs, they have earned it.

Chris Kunitz will help that. The Penguins gave away a good puck-moving defenseman, but they have no shortage of those. They needed a scorer to augment Crosby, Malkin, and Sykora (the team’s only 20-goal scorers). Sure, they lost a good player to gain a player of lesser skill, but they filled a need by trading someone who wasn’t essential. Adding Tangradi, a fantastic scorer who should develop into a player the Penguins will need in the future, makes this deal completely worthwhile, and has already showed that it might pay off. Those complaining are bandwagoners who don’t remember that Paul Coffey got traded in February 1992 for far less, before we brought home our second consecutive Cup.

It has been far too quiet in the NHL, I’m still waiting and hoping for those big deals to happen.

Ok, I’ve talked enough…or should I say, “ranted” for long enough. You’re up, Rantman.