My Two Cents for June 23, 2013
Logan’s Run Extended- Logan Couture has become unquestionably one of the most exciting players ever to don a San Jose Sharks jersey. Couture, 24, has developed from a young raw prospect with the Ottawa 67’s to a player that is truly destined to become the next Sharks Captain once Joe Thornton is done with his tenure. Couture is coming into his own and is becoming the true leader of this franchise going forward. General Manager Doug Wilson no doubt sees what is emerging with Couture and has rewarded him with a huge contract extension. The extension is a five year deal that will keep Couture’s tenure with team teal through the 2018-19 season. The deal being reportedly worth $30 Million with the contract to be signed on July 5th.* Couture in the lockout shortened season just completed had 16 goals for the Sharks and through three seasons has 89 total. Couture is on pace (staying healthy provided) to set many Sharks scoring marks before he calls it a career many, many years down the road. More than just a goal scorer, has 78 career assists, works well on the power play and penalty kill units, and is not afraid to block shots often times throwing himself into the opponents shooting lanes.
What Couture brings to the Sharks is stability and a player who is clearly becoming the “go to guy” of the team. The opponents know that whenever Couture on the ice he can score from almost anywhere at anytime and he must be accounted for each and every shift from the time he steps on the ice right up to the very split second his shift ends. Even with this Couture still finds many ways to beat an opponent with quick moves and a raw ability to handle and control the puck. This also takes the pressure off others players such as Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau because the opponents focus is on Couture. This is a big asset for the Sharks and one they cannot sell themselves short on. The team going forward has to be built around Couture to set him up to be successful. This is because Couture has that unique talent and ability to set up those around him to be successful too.
Looking ahead the Sharks have a huge draft coming up in the next few days and they need to make the most of what they will have in that draft given the number of picks they are getting. The scouting department of the Sharks organization must work tirelessly to find players that not only complement Couture, but the franchise as a whole. If you look at teams such as Chicago, Los Angeles, even Anaheim the one thing they have done over the past few years is use the draft as a tool to build their teams. All three of those franchise have been successful, and all three have Stanley Cup Championships. Couture is the type of player given the right cast of characters can one day lead a team to a title. The ball is now in the court of the Sharks management. Are they willing to build that team that can win a championship going forward? Couture is the first step in that direction. Many more steps need to be taken however this is a good start. Kudos to GM Doug Wilson for seeing this.
Raffi Re-Signed- The Sharks this week also re-signed Raffi Torres to a deal worth $6 Million over the next three seasons in a deal that will also become effective July 5th. Torres came over to the Sharks from the Phoenix Coyotes at the trade deadline this past season and made a huge impact in his short time with the team. Torres, who’s reputation in the league won’t make him a Lady Bing candidate anytime in the foreseeable future, showed that he can get the puck in the net and can light a fire under a team when it’s most needed. Torres in effect is now the number one enforcer for the Sharks now, taking over for Rayne Clowe who was traded away at the trade deadline (Clowe will be a free agent this offseason, but very likely wont return to the Sharks again). Torres despite his reputation though has done more than enough to impress GM Doug Wilson and Sharks management to warrant the deal. He has the backside of every teammate and will go to battle with anyone anytime, and anywhere.
Torres also has the ability to score goals that change games and has scored game winners in shootouts as well as in the post season. The downside is that Torres is clearly not Brendon Shanahan’s favorite player and never will be. Commission Gary Bettman does not care for Torres much either. Torres is someone who as we saw in the post season is on a very short leash with the league to where if he so much as sneezes during “Oh Canada” that’s five games worth of a suspension right there. Aside from the NHL’s Lords of Discipline, Torres only needs to be concerned about taking care of his business. That business is the business of being one of the Sharks leaders on the ice leaders. Torres has shown he is not only able, but more than willing. Torres has stated his goal in his career is to get his name on the Stanley Cup. Alongside Couture and others, you know Torres will be one of the players the Sharks count on the most to accomplish this objective. Re-singing Torres was the right move and the Sharks in the long run are better served for it.
Blackhawks vs. Bruins- Through five games of the Stanley Cup finals, the Chicago Blackhawks hold a 3-2 series lead over the Boston Bruins in this years battle for the Cup. The Blackhawks took game five of the series Saturday night defeating the Bruins 3-1 with two goals from Patrick Kane. This has been a series that has had everything a hockey fan could ask for from low scoring goalies duels to high scoring games, to overtimes and comebacks. There has not been a single game played this series where the fans didn’t leave thinking they didn’t get their moneys worth. Through two games you could tell this was going to be a classic battle between two of the original six teams and it certainly has lived up to it’s billing.
Both goalies, Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Chicago’s Corey Crawford outside of Game 4 have been very strong in the net. Whichever goalie ends up on the team that wins the Cup will certainly have more than earned his keep. Even the goalie who doesn’t win will come away from these finals knowing he did call he could put his team in a position to be victorious. Kane, who at times struggled through the first three rounds has found his game in the finals. His partner in crime Jonathan Toews has surprisingly only scored two goals in the post season. Toews however has still played a big role in getting pucks where they need to go and has 10 assist for the post season and had a key assist in Game 5. Marian Hossa has had a tougher go of it in the finals and missed Game 3 due to an injury during pregame warm ups. Hossa though when on the ice has remained a threat and someone the Bruins can ill afford to let beat them. Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Sharp meanwhile have been lighting the lamp for most of the post season and are a huge reason the Blackhawks right now sit within one game of their second title in four years.
The Bruins have had a successes in the finals however they also have had their share of struggles as has the Blackhawks. Boston had relied on players such as Bergeron, Lucic, Chara as well as David Krejci and Nathan Horton throughout the post season. The Bruins have also had clutch contributions from Daniel Paille, Johnny Boychuk, Rich Peverly which have either won games or kept them in games. Brad Marchand and even Jamomir Jagr have played significant roles too. The Bruins have the character of a team that fears no deficit and has a very strong will to fight to the last man and up until the last second. All one has to do is go back to Game 7 of the Bruins’ opening series against Toronto to know that if any team could beat the Blackhawks coming back from a 3-2 series disadvantage, it would be Boston. This team knows no quit and will not surrender the Stanley Cup without a fight for it to the bitter end. With Bergeron being injured during Game 5 it may be a bit of a tougher go for the Bruins. However don’t look for the Bruins to make excuses, look for them to come out of the gates in Game Six (and maybe Game Seven) fighting like a wounded bear and with all the determination of a team that can wait until this Friday for it’s summer to begin.
Interesting Stats/Notes from Game 5- Here are some key stats from Game 5 of this year’s Stanley Cup Final, some interesting stats of not from NHL.com:
0 — Minutes in this series in which either team has led by three or more goals. Both teams have had two-goal leads in two of the games (Boston in Games 1 and 3, Chicago in Games 4 and 5), but neither has been able to push the margin to three goals.
1 — Losses by Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask this spring in a game after allowing four or more goals. Rask had allowed four or more goals four times this spring before surrendering six in Game 4; he had won the following game all four times before Saturday.
2 — Assists by Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who helped set up both goals by linemate Patrick Kane. But Toews took a couple of big hits late in the second period and didn’t play at all in the third period.
3 — Empty-net goals scored by the Blackhawks this spring. David Bolland scored in the final seconds on Saturday night after the Bruins had pulled Rask. It was the first empty-netter allowed by Boston this spring.
4 — Times in the past five years in which the teams entered Game 5 of the Final after splitting the first four games. The home team has won all four — but on two of the three previous occasions, the losing team won Games 6 and 7.
6 — Consecutive years in which the Stanley Cup Final has gone at least six games. It’s the longest such streak since the NHL adopted the best-of-7 format in 1939. The longest previous streak was five years, from 1971-75.
8 — Hits by Boston forward Milan Lucic, the most of any player on either team. In all, the Bruins outhit Chicago 53-22. Boston has outhit Chicago in each of the past four games.
10 — Wins by the Blackhawks, without a loss, when leading after two periods in this year’s playoffs. The Bruins fell to 2-4 when trailing after 40 minutes.
11 — Victories for Chicago in the 14 games this spring in which it has scored first. That includes a 2-1 record in the Final. Boston fell to 5-4 when allowing the first goal, though the Bruins are the only team with a winning record when the opposition gets the first goal.
24 — Finals, including this year, in which the teams have split the first two games. Fifteen of the first 23 to be tied 2-2 were won by the team that took Game 5 — but since 2001, the team that lost Game 5 has won the Cup four times in six tries.
25 — Points during this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs by Boston center David Krecji who leads all scorers. Krejci assisted on a third-period goal by Zdeno Chara to extend his lead in the points race — he has already scored more than any player in last year’s playoffs.
33 — Faceoffs won by the Blackhawks, against 24 losses. It was the first time in five games that the Blackhawks won more draws than they lost against the best faceoff team in the League.
42 — Years since the Blackhawks have had a shutout in the Stanley Cup Final. The last one was May 13, 1971, when they beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 at Chicago Stadium in Game 5. Montreal won Games 6 and 7. It’s the third shutout in the Final in Blackhawks’ history — they had one each in 1934 and 1962.
49 — Seconds played by Boston center Patrice Bergeron in the second period. Bergeron appeared to be injured during his first shift of the period, played 16 seconds on a later shift and did not appear again. He was taken via ambulance to a local hospital during the third period after seeing a total of 6:06 of ice time.**
LA Kings-Toronto Maple Leafs Trade- The Los Angeles Kings and the Toronto Maple Leafs made a trade of significance Sunday. The Kings sent back up goalie Jonathan Bernier to the Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Matt Fratten and back up goalie Ben Scrivens. Bernier the last couple of seasons in Los Angeles was the back up goalie for Jonathan Quick, and his last appearance on the ice as a member of the Kings was in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals versus the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite having back-up status, Bernier was not just your average back-up goalie. This past season Bernier played in 14 regular-season games for the Kings. In those 14 games Bernier posted a 9-3-1 record with a goals-against average of 1.88 and save percentage of .922. In 62 career games with Kings, Bernier posted a record of 29-20-6 and was Los Angeles’ first overall pick in the 2006 draft.
Bernier, 24, is still very early in his NHL career in terms of age and is expected to compete with James Reimer for the top net minder in Toronto. Meanwhile Reimer had a fairly decent season himself going 19-8-5 this season with a 2.46 GAA and a .934 save percentage. He helped lead the Maple Leafs to their first playoff appearance in many seasons and fell 51 seconds short of upsetting the Bruins in Game 7 of the first round. In addition to Fratten and Scrivens, the Kings will also get a second round draft pick in either the 2014 or 2015 draft (that is still to be determined).***
Calgary Flooding- This week has been what is in all likelihood the worst week in the history of the City of Calgary, Alberta. This past week Calgary has been ravaged by record floods that most long time residence had never seen anything close to prior to this week. Many homes, business, and much of the downtown area of the city have been ruined. Entire streets downtown and in residential areas have been flooded out. The Calgary Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames and also the host of the annual Calgary Stampede has been flooded out as well. Flood waters have gone as high as the 10th row of the lower bowl of the arena. Locker rooms have been flooded out, and even the arena’s jumbotron which had been brought down for repairs over the summer has been destroyed. As far the city goes, over 100,000 residence have been displaced. It looks as if the Summer of 2013 in Calgary will be devoted to rebuilding the city and recovering from these disastrous floods. Communities around the Calgary area have been under evacuation orders also. Over 1200 Canadian Forces troops have been deployed to assist in the worst hit areas in the community.
The NHL has not decided what it will do about this since the 2013-14 regular season schedule wont be released for a few more weeks. It is unclear of the Saddledome can be repaired by October since the flood waters will have to be pumped out of the arena first, then it will have to be inspected. For many residence of the Calgary area though, understandably the Flames 2013-14 season is the furthest thing from their minds right now. Hopefully the community will be able to get back on their feet and resume a normal life as quickly as humanly possible.
Just My Two Cents…
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