Bleacher Report Article: Why Pens vs. Flyers is the Series to Watch

Check out my newest Bleacher Report article on the crazy Pens vs. Flyers series. It was featured on the Pens page of B/R last night (see below pic and link)!

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1151570-penguins-vs-flyers-why-it-is-the-series-to-watch-for-any-nhl-fan

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Penguins vs. Flyers, Game 3: Penalty Count Embarrassing

Not much to say about this other than it is embarrassing.

This wasn’t playoff hockey, it was a wrestling match.

NHL Awards Preview, Calder Memorial Trophy

As many of you know, last week I made the journey to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Overall, it was pretty impressive- all the greats, some awesome videos, and even a replica Montreal Canadiens locker room. One of the highlights of the trip was checking out the highly recognized NHL trophies. When I saw the Calder I made sure to take a photo, and I promised myself I would finally get to writing this article. But before I can discuss who should be considered for this highly-esteemed award, I need to discuss the award itself.

Right next to the trophy, was this displayed text: “Calder Memorial Trophy- An annual award to ‘the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League.’ Winner selected in 1 poll by the Professional Hockey Writers’Association at the end of the regular schedule. From 1936-37 until his death in 1943, Frank Calder, NHL President, bought a trophy each year to be given permanently to the outstanding rookie. After Calder’s death, the NHL presented the Calder Memorial Trophy in his memory. To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played more than 25 games in any single preceding season nor in six or more games in each of any two preceding seasons in any major professional league. Beginning in 1990-91, to be eligible for this award a player must not have attained his twenty-sixth birthday by September 15th of the season in which he is eligible”.

That might tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the Calder, but I think it is important to know the significance behind these awards (and how many stipulations there are- gees!). Many hockey greats and current superstars have won the Calder in the past. These players include Terry Sawchuk, Bobby Orr, Ken Dryden, Mario Lemieux, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Ray Bourque, Pavel Bure, Daniel Alfredsson, Teemu Selanne, Alex Ovechkin, and Evgeni Malkin.

But on to the candidates… There are 5 rookies that I believe are in the running to win the Calder. Each player has specific strengths that make them a great candidate for the trophy. The five players include (not in any order):

  • Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
  • Matt Read, Philadelphia Flyers
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
  • Adam Henrique, New Jersey Devils
  • Cody Hodgson, Buffalo Sabres

Points: Advantage Nugent-Hopkins

When looking at point totals and scoring, Nugent-Hopkins has the advantage. Nugent-Hopkins is tied with Gabriel Landeskog for the rookie lead with 52 points, even though Nugent-Hopkins has played 20 less games.

Goals: Advantage Matt Read

Matt Read had the most goals for a rookie in the regular season. He tallied 24 goals this season. Even more impressive was Read’s clutch plays. He scored a whopping total of 6 game-winning goals. He is an integral part of the Flyers goal-scoring team and is constantly converting his shots. He has a 15.5% shot percentage which is above all the other rookies in the running for the Calder this year.

 

Defense: Advantage Gabriel Landeskog

Landeskog finished the regular season with a +20 +/-. This stat just proves how cognizant Landeskog is when he is out on the ice. He is an all around player and is involved in both ends of the play. Landeskog clearly has the advantage in this category.

Powerplay: Advantage Cody Hodgson

This season, Cody Hodgson finished with 7 powerplay goals. This is especially impressive because these goals have been spread out between Hodgson’s time with the Canucks and the Sabres. He is consistent on the powerplay no matter who he is playing with. He has great vision on the ice, and is comfortable leading in the PP.

Shorthanded: Advantage Adam Henrique

Henrique converted 4 short-handed goals this season. He is the leader in this category among all rookies and is tied with only 2 vets for the lead (Cal Clutterbuck and Mike Richards). Part of this advantage is due to Zach Parise’s innate ability to strip players of the puck, but Henrique is always very alert and ready with a solid shot.

Opinions? Anyone think Hagelin should be on this list? Who do you think will win?

A 2nd Period to Remember, Spotlight Pens vs. Flyers, 2/18/12

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Today’s Pens vs. Flyers game was a great spectacle. The teams have an awesome rivalry that has just grown over time. Recently adding to the rivalry was Max Talbot’s trade to the Flyers and Jagr’s decision to pursue the end of his career in Philly rather than in Pittsburgh. Fans have also learned to love each team through their up-close actions shown on HBO’s 24/7. Both teams have hosted the Winter Classic, both have made it to the Stanley Cup final in the last 3 years and this season they are both contenders despite being plagued with major injuries to some of their star players.

The game today was close with goals continuously being traded back and forth throughout the game. The first goal came from Penguins’ forward Matt Cooke only 3 minutes into the game. His goal was overshadowed by the pair of goals from Jagr that finished out the 1st period. Yeah, you can imagine how bitter Pittsburgh fans must have been about that.

With the Pens down 2-1 after the first, they fought back in the 2nd period. The first goal of the second was an impressive short-handed goal by Pens’ center Jordan Staal. About a minute after Staal’s shorty goal, Cooke managed to do the impossible. He scored on a breakaway while the Pens were down 2 men! The Cookie Monster really came out to play!

Flyers players were visibly furious on the ice. If the 2nd period wasn’t exciting enough after two short-handed goals, the Flyers ended up getting a major break from Pens’ defenseman Deryk Engelland. Engelland tripped on the ice and let Wellwood get off a quick shot near the end of the 2nd period. Wellwood ended up scoring off Engelland’s major mistake. After Wellwood’s goal the 2nd period ended at 3-3.

After the excitement of the 2nd period, the 3rd turned out to be pretty lack-luster in thrill-factor (especially if you are a Flyers fan). The Pens scored 3 goals and left the Flyers goal-less until the last minute of regulation. Pretty exciting game overall and definitely a rivalry that is worthwhile in the NHL.

I will upload the individual play videos when they go public on YouTube, but if you want to see the game recap and the goals I am talking about here is a link where you can watch it! —> http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?hlg=20112012,2,865

20 Consecutive Home Game Wins for the Wings

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With tonight’s Wings win over the Flyers, Detroit is starting to look unstoppable. Tonight marks their 20th consecutive home-game win. The Red Wings have never accomplished this feat in franchise history. In fact, the only other teams to ever replicate what the Wings have done over these last 20 home games, were the 1929 Bruins and the 1976 Flyers. Impressed yet? It looks like Detroit has a lot going for them. Can you imagine what it could mean if Detroit kept winning like this until the Winter Classic and 24/7?

Tonight’s 4-3 win should be attributed to the effectiveness of the Red Wings powerplay (2 goals on the PP). PP goals were attributed to Kronwall and Datsyuk. Mike Babcock (the coach of the Wings) even said, “We got credit for two power play goals, but really (the Flyers) never got out of their zone on the third one at all, so we basically had three power-play goals.” Pretty impressive. Especially because different power-play units got the goals. Overall, a major congratulations to the Wings. Now, they just have to make sure to not let the wins go to their heads and stay focused for their next home game against the Dallas Stars (shouldn’t be too tough right?)