Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Roberto Luongo in a Leafs uniform

Roberto Luongo may no longer be a Vancouver Canuck
by the start of next season
PHOTO: nhl.com
Following a season where the Leafs found themselves free falling from a playoff spot to a top 5 draft pick, largely due to inconsistent play in the defensive zone and sub-par goaltending, many fans and members of the media are looking for change. One name that has been rumoured to be on the move this off-season is Vancouver Canucks goalie, Roberto Luongo.

Luongo has played his last six seasons in Vancouver, however with the emergence of Cory Schneider, and the Canucks coaching staff leaning towards him in crucial playoff games, it would seem Luongo would be on his way out. But does he really want to play in Toronto? And how badly do the Leafs need a starting goalie? Well, let's look at the last decade of so of Leafs goaltending.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Who Is Ray Whitney?

Ray Whitney, #13 Phoenix Coyotes
PHOTO: nhl.com

So we all know who Ray Whitney is, and we all are finally realizing that he is good, but how good is he? Whitney was a name that was seldom mentioned even just a few years ago. Somehow he has managed to remain one of the most underrated players in the NHL over the last decade or so, and despite the fact that he is 40 years old, he is still putting up great numbers late in his career. 

Success in hockey came early for the Canadian-born Whitney. In his third year playing for the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League (WHL), he lead the league with 185 points and helped the Chiefs win the 1991 Memorial Cup. He was drafted 23rd overall by the San Jose Sharks in 1991, however his NHL career didn't start off as well as he would have liked. Whitney played the better part of two season in the International Hockey League (IHL). After four partial seasons with the Sharks, Whitney was sent down and split time in the American Hockey League (AHL) and IHL. It was only in the 1997-98 season, when Whitney was already 25 years old, that he started to play complete seasons and put up points just shy of a point per game.

On March 31st, Whitney became the 79th player in history to reach 1000 points in the NHL. He had 77 points in the regular season this year, and since the lockout has put up 468 points in 529 games. In total, he has 1003 points in 1229 NHL games. He also helped the Carolina Hurricanes win the Stanley Cup in the year following the lockout season. Despite the good numbers, and the ability to do so year after year, he rarely seemed to be mentioned in a conversation of top players in the league. In fact, in the last twenty years that he has played in the NHL he has never made more than $3.55M per season.  

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Philadelphia Flyers - Acquiring a goalie PART II

Ilya Bryzgalov pulls the puck out of his net as the Flyers
face elimination in the playoffs
When Paul Holmgren, the GM of the Philadelphia Flyers, acquired Ilya Bryzgalov, he thought all of the goaltending issues that plagued the team over the past few years were a thing of the past. But as time has shown, not only is there still have a ton of issues, but they are also shedding quite a bit of salary towards their goalies, mainly Bryzgalov, whereas in the past that wasn't the case. Holmgren made some aggressive moves in the summer to fit Bryzgalov's salary under the cap, and isn't getting his moneys worth, while Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, the big name players that he traded, are in the Conference finals with the Los Angeles Kings. I don't think Holmgren ever thought that he needed a backup plan for a starting goalie, but he definitely needs to figure something out for next season.

The last time the Flyers won the cup was 1975. While the Flyers have shown themselves as Cup contenders in recent years, goaltending has been a lingering thorn in their side. Since the lock-out, the Flyers have used several goalies from season to season, and even game to game. There have been eight goalies to play more than a handful of games, Antero Niittymaki, Robert Esche, Martin Biron, Michael Leighton, Ray Emery, Brian Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky and Ilya Bryzgalov. All of which have shown that they are not capable starting goalies. With the exception of Bryzgalov, they are either all back-up goalies or they aren't even in the NHL anymore.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Rambling on about Sheriff Shanny

Shea Weber smashes Henrik Zetterberg's face into
the glass twice

Brenden Shanahan is in charge of administering discipline to NHL players whose actions are not within the rules of the NHL and thus warrant punishment. The punishment is usually a fine, suspension or both.

Let us look at his role administering suspensions and fines thus far in the playoffs. Things started off really bumpy when Shanahan chose only to give Shea Weber a $2500 fine for his attack on Henrik Zetterberg in game one. Weber took Zetterberg by the back of his head and smashed his face into the glass twice. Since that decision, it seems Shanahan is determined to punish every player regardless of whether they are a superstar or not, which is something that should have been done from the start, but now leaves a void of confusion from player to player as to what will get you suspended and what will not.