Hockey Talk – Oct. 5 2012

And here we are again… what’s new to report on?  NHL labour talks, of course!

So…  they had SECRET meetings today in Toronto.  Good.  I hear they had a joint news conference.  AWESOME.  They both acknowledge they are going to start making compromises.  FANTASTIC!

What changed?  Was it the players going over to the KHL and playing games?  Nope.  Was it the league losing millions due to cancelling pre-season and now regular season games?  Not a chance.

The fact is the KHL signing North American TV deals has changed the whole situation for the owners.  They absolutely do not want the KHL getting ANY kind of coverage in North America so it’s actually added more of a push on the owners to really start making compromises.  It does give the players more of an upper hand at this point but honestly I don’t care.  I want to see NHL games again.  I want to see my Leafs “make improvements” and then lose… I want to see my Sharks dominate then choke in the playoffs…

I am a little optimistic at this point… this is the first sign of progess I’ve seen this year.

Lockout League Results
Florida 4 vs. Tampa Bay 3
Philadelphia 3 vs. Pittsburgh 1
Columbus 2 vs. St.Louis 3 (Over-Time)
Vancouver 3 vs. Colorado 4
Boston 5 vs. Buffalo 3
Washington 6 vs. Winnipeg 4
Phoenix 1 vs. San Jose 4
Edmonton 1 vs. Minnesota 3
New Jersey 2 vs. NY Islanders 3
Detroit 0 vs. Chicago 7
Montreal 2 vs. Toronto 5
Anaheim 2 vs. Dallas 4

Hockey Talk – Sept.29 2012

Alrighty…  three items I wanted to cover tonight…

Katz apologizes:  ‘It was the wrong message to send.’  Well… actually…  the fans said they weren’t going to put up with your BS and gave the owner the finger for once.  As much as I love to bug one of my friends about being an Edmonton fan, I must applaud the fans with their solidarity over not dealing with strong-arm tactics from another owner.  Katz knows he’s busted…  so we put out a full-page ad to apologize.  Good for the apologies but you wouldn’t have had to do it if you weren’t trying to put the screws to city council.

Nash Injured: Yep…  he got hurt…  but I don’t think it’s going to be a bad one.  The article on SportsNet.ca says it was a shoulder injury and he actually played another shift after he got hurt…  he was pulled for precautionary reasons.  Sure.  Okay.  But when someone does get hurt…  and BADLY…  the players should already know they kiss any financial coverage good-bye from their NHL clubs when a deal finally gets worked out.  If the players are so “solid” against the owners they shouldn’t be playing at all.

CBA Talks: Is it any surprise that a private meeting between Bettman and Fehr got them nowhere.  Apparently the discussion today was to figure out HOW to come to an agreement.  If they can’t even agree on how to agree…  there are problems.  I’m pretty sure the whole discussion boiled down to Fehr trying to pitch his revenue-sharing idea while Bettman kicked his ass out the door reminding he wasn’t having any of that.  Anyways…  yipee…  looks like the NHL is going to be cancelling some of it’s regular season games soon…  article says to expect an announcement half way through the week.

HockeySim.ca NHL Lockout League Pre-Season Scoreboard

New York Rangers 0 vs. Philaadelphia Flyers 2
Ottawa Senators 2 vs. Boston Bruins 5
Columbus Blue Jackets 4 vs. Detroit Red Wings 5
Edmonton Oilers 2 vs. Colorado Avalanche 0
Buffalo Sabres 3 vs. Montreal Canadiens 6
Winnipeg Jets 4 vs. Washington Capitals 3
San Jose Sharks 1 vs. Anaheim Ducks 6
Minnesota Wild 3 vs. Calgary Flames 2
Phoenix Coyotes 0 vs. Dallas Stars 2
Pittsburgh Penguins 3 vs. New Jersey Devils 1
Tampa Bay Lightning 6 vs. Florida Panthers 1
Nashville Predators 4 vs. Chicago Blackhawks 1

The NHL Lockout League is hosted by HockeySim.ca using the Ultimate Hockey Simulator (UHS). We love hockey as much as you do… this is the closest we’re going to come to real NHL hockey any time soon. You can find all the stats and scores at http://uhs.hockeysim.ca/Leagues/lockout/. We will sim on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. You can support this NHL Lockout League by “Liking” our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/hockeysim.

Hockey Talk – Sept.28 2012

A bit of a change to our format here…  we’re going to start bringing back the hockey commentary (if you are interested in adding your own commentary, please contact me).  We used to do a weekly round-up of NHL action back in the day but time became a limited commodity in my household.  We’re aiming for shorter, quicker updates that will coincide with the Lockout League’s schedule: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday.

Today the NHL and NHLPA are going to be meeting for the first since the lockout started.  They put three days aside to try and hash things out…  this comes at the heals of the NHL announcing they’ve cancelled all of the season’s regularly scheduled pre-season games.  I keep hearing reports that there doesn’t seem to be the same animosity between Bettman and Fehr only that they have a mutual respect of one another.  I’m not sure I necessarily buy it.  The owners loved having the union broken and all this jockeying just screams to me both groups are trying to say their member is larger.

I am cynical about this whole process.  I would love to be wrong but I’ve already gone on record stating the whole season is going to be canned.  I would LOVE to be wrong…  I miss watching the Leafs play like crap and my Sharks choke in the playoffs.  The owners have made fairly large concessions already but it seems the union’s target has been to put out deals based on “creative accounting” designed to get the owners at each other’s throats.  Bettman cut their last meeting short when it was clear the union wasn’t moving away from their version of things.

I think this is really going to be determined by the union.  If a deal is going to be done, they’re going to have to see things the owner’s way and at least bargain using their methodology not something completely different.  From how things are going now it looks like the union has the upper hand…  players are playing overseas (yes, not all…) and the owners are just sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting.  You will NOT see the NHL play games with replacement players… that would be horrid and even bigger F-U to the fans.

When it’s all said and done we all want hockey back but I would hold your breath.  Let’s hope the news coming out of New York is good.

HockeySim.ca NHL Lockout League Pre-Season Scoreboard

Edmonton Oilers 2 vs. Vancouver Canucks 0
Ottawa Senators 1 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs 4
San Jose Sharks 5
 vs. Los Angeles Kings 4 (Shoot-Out)
St. Louis Blues 2 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets 5
Montreal Canadiens 4 vs. Buffalo Sabres 2
Anaheim Ducks 1 vs. Phoenix Coyotes 5
Winnipeg Jets 4 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 3 (Over-Time)
Calgary Flames 2 vs. Minnesota Wild 4
New Jersey Devils 1 vs. Philadelphia Flyers 3
Carolina Hurricanes 3 vs. Florida Panthers 0
Detroit Red Wings 3 vs. Nashville Predators 1
Pittsburgh Penguins 3 vs. New York Rangers 2

The NHL Lockout League is hosted by HockeySim.ca using the Ultimate Hockey Simulator (UHS). We love hockey as much as you do… this is the closest we’re going to come to real NHL hockey any time soon. You can find all the stats and scores at http://uhs.hockeysim.ca/Leagues/lockout/. We will sim on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. You can support this NHL Lockout League by “Liking” our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/hockeysim.

 

2012 NHL Awards Round-up

Here’s a round-up of this year’s NHL Award winners:

Hart Memorial Trophy – League MVP: Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins

Vezina Trophy – Top Goalie: Henrik Lundqvist – New York Rangers

James Norris Memorial Trophy – Top Defenseman: Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators

Calder Memorial Trophy – Top Rookie: Gabriel Landeskog – Colorado Avalance

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy – Most Gentlemanly Player: Brian Campbell – Florida Panthers

Frank J. Selke Trophy – Best Defensive Forward: Patrice Bergeron – Boston Bruins

Jack Adams Award – Top Coach: Ken Hitchcock – St. Louis Blues

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy – Perserverence: Max Pacioretty – Montreal Canadiens

Ted Lindsay Award – MVP as voted by players: Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins

Bridgestone Messier Leadership Award: Shane Doan – Phoenix Coyotes

NHL Foundation Award – Community-Minded: Mike Fisher – Nashville Predators

General Manager of the Year: Doug Armstrong – St. Louis Blues

Maurice Richard Trophy – Most Goals: Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning

Art Ross Trophy – Most Points: Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins

William M. Jennings Trophy – Best Team GAA: Brian Elliott & Jaroslav Halak – St.Louis Blues

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Bettman Makes the First Move

The Hockey News has run an article on the NHL giving the Players “notice” that they want to either terminate or amend the current CBA.  Their deadline was this Friday.  I can agree that the players are in a fairly good spot and would not want to terminate the notice although I’m sure Fehr wants the Players to have more say.  Let’s not forget what this is really about.

It’s a pissing contest.

From everything we’ve heard there is nothing really wrong with the CBA except for some loopholes concerning long-term contracts.  Fehr is new to the PA (well… he was kicked out… then brought back in) so he has got to make a statement to Bettman that he’ll be as good or even better than Goodenow.  But that’s ALL that this is really about.  As much as people hate Bettman and some of his decisions, overall he has done the league some good.  He is absolutely making the right decision by wanting to amend the CBA and clear up some of these loopholes.

And yes…  Bettman is also freely participating in said pissing contest.  He’s the “old dog”…  he’s not going to let some new guy come in and elevate the NHLPA when he gave them the smack-down last time around.

What this means is that we are closer than ever to having no hockey this October.

Fans…. please enjoy the playoffs….  it’s the last good hockey you’re going to get for a while.

Queue up WHL2, Amateur teams claim the Cup, etc…

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2012 NHL Draft – Young d-man being overlooked

2012 is an excellent year for defenseman prospects. You’ve got Ryan Murray, Matthew Dumba, Morgan Reilly, Cody Ceci, Griffin Reinhart, Matt Finn, Derrick Pouliot, Slater Koekkoek – no matter who’s rankings you’re looking at, you can probably find defensemen occupying almost half of the first round.

One guy who isn’t getting the attention he deserves, in my opinion, is Jacob Trouba. Yes, he’s universally ranked in the top-15 and usually in the top-10, but on most media rankings I’m looking at, you can find more than a couple of the above names ranked ahead of Trouba. I think that’s crazy.

There is almost literally nothing not to like about Trouba. He’s got good size – not huge, but at 6’1 – 6’2 and almost 200 pounds, he’s plenty big enough. He was Team USA’s best defenseman in the World Juniors this year – ahead of already drafted previous first round picks like Jarred Tinordi and Derek Forbort. Granted, Team USA was a disaster – but Trouba was very, very good in a tournament where the stars are usually 19 year olds – and he was more impressive than Murray was in the same tournament. He’s a fantastic skater and has good offensive capabilities, including a powerful point shot. He likes to hit – but he’s very smart about it and is rarely caught out of position defensively. He doesn’t panic with the puck on his stick and he makes very good breakout passes. This is one of the most complete, talented defenseman prospects to come around in a while.

This is no exaggeration. If it sounds like I’m saying Trouba has almost no weaknesses in his game, it’s probably because I am. His overall offensive game does need work, but the potential is obviously there. As it is, he’s probably a pretty safe pick – it’s hard to imagine he won’t be at worst a #5/6 defenseman somewhere – if he bulked up a bit, he could probably be that next year, although he would probably benefit from an extra year or two of development somewhere. But if his offensive game comes around and his development goes as expected, he is one of the few guys who could be a true #1 defenseman.

He’s drawn comparisons to Jack Johnson, which in my opinion are off-base – he’s going to be much better defensively than JJ, and his offensive game isn’t quite what Johnson’s is (though it could definitely get there). I think they’re a completely different type of player. Jack Johnson is known as an offensive defenseman.. Trouba is definitely a shut-down type guy first, although he can do it all. A better comparison I’ve seen is Jake Gardiner.. they have very similar playing styles and skillsets, though I think Trouba has a little more upside – which is saying a lot, because Gardiner is a very good young player.

With Dumba, you have an offense-first defenseman – though he’s a heck of a player and is not bad defensively at all. With Reilly, you have question marks about his injuries and also defensive ability to some extent, although there may not be a more offensively talented blueliner in the draft. No prospect is a sure thing, but every defenseman prospect in this draft has some question marks with the exception of Murray and Trouba. I don’t see how he can’t be the #2 defenseman in the draft – and I’d carefully consider putting him above Murray, too. He’s a top-3 prospect in my opinion, and I think a lot of people are overlooking this kid. The Jets are picking at #9, and I’m desperately hoping there are eight other NHL teams who overlook him too (and, of course, that the Jets do not). He’s going to make some NHL team very happy.

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2012 Stanley Cup UHS Sims

Stanley Cup Predictions

For the past two years we’ve put UHS to the test…  how accurate can it be…?  can it predict the outcomes of playoff games?  The last two seasons it was marginally successful…  I believe it scored around the 60% mark.  Definitely not something you’d want to start relying on to play Pro-Line.

Well…  we’re at it again…  These predictions were made using the line-ups found on DailyFaceoff.com…  a great site for finding out who the starting goaltenders are, who is injured and what the potential line ups are going to be.

After each game day, I’ll post up the pre-game roster sim results along with the post-game sim results… I’d like to use the actual game rosters to see how UHS compares.  I may not get to it after each game but they’ll eventually be done.

For these simulations please note:
– Chemistry is OFF.
– Out of Position Negative modifiers is OFF.
– Sometimes teams put a forward as a defenseman on a powerplay unit… in these cases we’ve had to place the next D-man in that spot as UHS does not allow forwards in defenseman spots.
– The games are based on the lines and starting goaltenders found on DailyFaceoff.com…  we won’t know if they are 100% accurate until the game has been played… but they’re going to be fairly accurate.
– NHL player’s height and weight fields are not accurate… this could plays a bigger part in determining check results and can affect the outcomes of games.

Preliminary Round

Vancouver vs. Los Angeles
UHS: Vancouver will take this series in 7 games.  Initially LA had a 3 – 0 series lead but the Canucks bounced back to eliminate the Kings.
James: Vancouver is thanking their stars they’re not going against Chicago, however, I think this series is going to come down to goaltending…  Luongo vs. Quick…  I’ll say Vancouver takes this series in 7, but not because of Luongo…  It’s a good thing they didn’t trade Schneider at the deadline.

St. Louis vs. San Jose
UHS: San Jose knocks of St.Louis in 5 games.  All the games were fairly close, so the RNG (random number generator) gods could certainly have favoured the Sharks in this case…  and it could certainly have gone the other way.
James: I know they’re the number 3 team in the league… but… it’s ST.LOUIS we’re talking about here.  My Sharks could certainly pull off an upset, however, I think overall, the Blues are going to take this in 6.

Phoenix vs. Chicago
UHS: Phoenix takes out Chicago in 5.  The simulator says that Phoenix will basically dominate the Blackhawks… only one win was decided by a single goal… the rest were 3 or 4 goal differences.
James: I have to disagree with UHS.  Chicago just has too much talent to get knocked off by Phoenix.  The ONLY thing they really have going for them is Mike Smith.  But I think Chicago’s snipers are going to make short work of him.  Chicago in 5.

Nashville vs. Detroit
UHS: Nashville beats Detroit in 7 games.  The home team won the first four games…  then the away teams won games 5 and 6.  Nashville takes game 7 in overtime.
James: I can agree with this.  Detroit is fading… and while they are introducing young players again…  they’re not the dominant force they used to be.  I will say Nasville in 6 games.

New York Rangers vs. Ottawa
UHS: Ottawa upsets the Rangers in 6 games.  The games were all relatively close… with the exception of game 3.. Ottawa won that one 8 – 1.. I imagine Lundqvist went down or something.
James: I really dislike both teams…  but I honestly can’t see Ottawa beating New York… even in 7…  I’ll go with New York in 5.

Boston vs. Washington
UHS: Boston beats Washington in 5 games.  More or less a complete dominance over the Capitals.  Boston even gets a 5 – 0 shut-out in game 3.
James: There are two questions here…  1. Will Tim Thomas put up the same performance as he did last year?  2. Will Ovechkin snap out of his ego-driven BS and actually lead the team?  I think the answers are 1. Yes and 2. No.  Boston in 6.

Florida vs. New Jersey
UHS: New Jersey takes this in 7 games.  This series was back and forth the whole way.  I was surprised that Florida put up that much of a fight.
James: Even though they are the number 3 seed it’s merely through a quirk of the NHL Playoff structure… hopefully the NHL will go to a top-16 format and let the teams have at it.  Anyway… back to this series.  I think New Jersey will take this one in 5.

Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia
UHS: Apparently the simulator doesn’t Philadelphia…  good… neither do I.  Pittsburgh sweeps the Flyers out of the playoffs.
James: This is going to be a battle.  Crosby is either going to shine or he’s going to get his head taken off.  If I have to make a pick… I’m going to give the edge to Pittsburgh…  Penguins in 7.

Quarter Finals

These are based on the outcomes that UHS predicted and continue to use the same rosters that they have now.

San Jose sweeps Vancouver out.  All the games were close except for a 4 – 0 victory in game 3.  While I would LOVE for this to happen, I don’t think the Sharks would be able to beat Vancouver…  unless they didn’t pull Luongo out fast enough if he started to crash.

Phoenix beats Nashville in 6.  Most of the games were relatively close… 2 goals but Nashville always won by at least 3 goals.  In the real world I think Nashville goes on… Mike Smith may be hot but it depends if that streak can carry on… Rinne is the real deal.

Ottawa upsets Boston in 6. There were a couple of big blow out games here, however, the remainder of the series was close.  This could be the act of the RNG gods at play here, but in the real world there is no way Anderson beats out Thomas.

New Jersey sweeps Pittsburgh.  I’d say this could possibly happen…  after a tough series with Philadelphia the Pens may not have enough stuff to go up against the Devils who likely had an easy ride against the Panthers.

Semi Finals

San Jose beats Phoenix in 6 games.  I think it’s unlikely this series would happen, however, the numbers say that Phoenix is the better team.  I again think it’s only because of hot goaltending.  While it can get you far (look at the Ducks) it’s likely due to fizzle out (look at Jon Casey – Minnesota v. Pittsburgh).  I would give this series to San Jose…  just cause they’re my buds.

New Jersey sweeps Ottawa.  Possibly.  What’s more likely to happen is that New Jersey could take these clowns out in 5 or 6 games.  Anderson will win them one or two but that’ll be it.

Stanley Cup Finals

New Jersey beats San Jose in 5 games.  Apparently the Cinderella post-season is over for San Jose.  New Jersey continues to get easy opponents and cruises to another Stanley Cup victory.  This series will at least save Doug Wilson’s job as GM.  In reality…  well…  I love my Sharks…  but I think New Jersey would ultimately win out in 7.

This is what I think is REALLY going to happen:
Round 1
Vancouver beats Los Angeles.
St. Louis beats San Jose.
Chicago beats Phoenix.
Nashville beats Detroit.
New York Rangers beat Ottawa.
Boston beats Washington.
New Jersey beats Florida.
Philadelphia beats Pittsburgh.

Round 2
Chicago beats Vancouver.
Nashville beats St.Louis.
New York Rangers beat New Jersey.
Philadelphia beats Boston.

Round 3
Nashville beats Chicago.
New York Rangers beat Philadelphia.

Stanley Cup
New York Rangers beat Nashville.

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Strike / Lockout Looming

The media has been saying for quite a while now… expect some kind of a work stoppage.

The hockey news ran an article about Bettman basically saying (and I’m paraphrasing here) “We’re ready to negotiate when you are…” and you know…  the NHLPA has been stalling.  Call me a cynic but I think that since day 1 Fehr has known he’s going down this road so he can basically prove he has a penis too.

In the end, yet again, the fans will lose out.

On the other hand… it could be a win.

How many small market teams are going to be able to survive this stoppage?  Don’t fool yourselves… it’s going to be a long one.  Think back to the last one.

Does Phoenix finally go the way of the dodo?  Who else would not be able to survive this?  Augh.

Hockey News article: http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/45660-Bettman-says-hes-ready-to-bargain-whenever-NHL-players-union-ready-contract-expires-Sept.html

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