- By BruinsbeerThe Bruins probably should have won Game One, but didn’t. The Blackhawks probably should have won Game Two, but didn’t. There weren’t any questions about who
- By Alex ThomasCraig MacTavish has a lot to do this summer. Finding Edmonton help on the blue line is arguably the biggest thing on his list. That task
- By Alex ThomasA lot has been happening in Oil Country the last couple of days. Craig MacTavish is a man on a mission and he started that mission
- By BruinsbeerThe Stanley Cup finals are finally here. The two teams left standing are the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks. In the Eastern Conference Finals the
- By Alex ThomasThe Edmonton Oilers made it official today, as they welcomed Dallas Eakins to the Oilers family as head coach. Its a move the media and fans
The Bruins probably should have won Game One, but didn’t. The Blackhawks probably should have won Game Two, but didn’t. There weren’t any questions about who should have won Game Three.
The Bruins were dominant in all phases of the third game of the Stanley Cup Finals, which was Tuukka Rask’s third shutout of the 2013 playoffs, and had Danielle Paille’s second game winner in as many games. Rasks 28 save performance on home ice was so spectacular I’m wondering if Gary Bettman would give serious consideration to handing him the Conn Smythe trophy before this series is officially over.
The Chicago Blackhawks collectively have a look of disbelief on their faces right now. They are playing their guts out, and it’s not making a difference. It’s not making a dent. It’s borderline ridiculous that the “Hawks have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at the Bruins, and Tuukka Rask, and the stingy defense, have neutralized their efforts.
The defensive effort was in full effect in net, on the blueline, and perhaps most importantly, in the face-off circle. If there is a word stronger than dominant, it applies here. The Bruins finished the night with 40 wins and 16 losses. The Bruins forwards won an astronomical 71.4% of their draws last night. My favorite game within the game stat was when Patrice Bergeron went 8 for 10 on face-offs against Chicago Captain Jonathan Toews, the man who beat him out for this years Selke trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward.
To be completely honest, the Bruins are two flukey goals away from being up 3-0 in this series.
The Blackhawks looked dejected in the locker-room and at the podium in the post game recaps.
I’m not ready to warm up the Duck Boats just yet, but it’s hard to not get excited about being two wins away from our second cup in three years.
A lot has been happening in Oil Country the last couple of days. Craig MacTavish is a man on a mission and he started that mission this past Saturday with his first bold move, firing head coach Ralph Krueger. In to replace him is Dallas Eakins, successful NHL assistant and AHL head coach.
MacTavish has also seen some player movement, signing defender Anton Belov from the KHL, while watching free agents Antti Tyrvainen and Teemu Hartikainen bolt to Europe. There are surely more changes to come with the roster and players in the system. There are rumors a plenty, and we discussed the most recent one on Monday night, which was Edmonton’s reported interest in defender Paul Ranger.
In the words of the legend Bob Cole “Everything is happening!”
Barons Off To Europe: OKC Barons leading point getter and Oilers prospect Marc Arcobello is the latest name to be rumored to be leaving the organization. A source has claimed that Arcobello could be off to the Swedish Elite league as Brynas has shown interest in the small and skilled center. Arcobello has come along nicely and been a key player for OKC.
Defender Garrett Stafford has interest from Farjestad and he too will be heading overseas for next season. He has signed a deal with the club this morning and will not be returning in 2013. Stafford was acquired at the deadline from the Capitals, and played a role in the Barons run to the West finals. The AHL veteran has been just that in his career, and has next to no chance to become an NHL regular. I will say however, I was expecting him to be the veteran brought back on the Baron blueline.
Goalie Niko Hovinen, who was claimed off waivers from the Flyers this past season, is also preparing to leave OKC and head elsewhere. Hovinen has already signed a deal with Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the KHL, and will not be returning to North America next season. Hovinen’s departure likely means Olivier Roy gets AHL backup duty next season.
Forward Antti Tyrvainen has already signed in the Finnish league for next season. He was a solid bottom six player for the Barons this past year, but provided little offense and had next to no chance of ever truly making the Oilers roster. Teemu Hartikainen signed a two year deal in the KHL on Monday as well, meaning he most likely won’t be wearing orange and blue for a while, if ever again.
Hartikainen has all the tools to be a solid NHL top nine option, but for whatever reason he was unable to truly translate his game. He was terrific in OKC, and took his game to another level this post-season. It’s really too bad he elected to go to Europe, because I think he really could have helped the Oilers.
Overall, I’d prefer Hartikainen stayed, and I hope Marc Arcobello stays on board. As for the others, they were long shots to ever play in Edmonton, and can easily be replaced with free agents and players in the system.
Horton On Oilers Radar?: Interesting comments on Boston sports radio last Friday regarding Bruins star RW and upcoming free agent Nathan Horton. On the Felger and Mazz show this past Friday, Bruins insider Joe Haggerty joined the show and talked about Horton’s future. He talked about how the Bruins want to keep Horton, but money might not let that happen.
He mentioned that the Bruins would probably max out at a $5.5 M per season deal for Horton, and there is a team willing to offer more for him. That team? The Edmonton Oilers.
Haggerty stated that he believes Edmonton would love to add Horton and that they would open the bank for him, essentially offering him what he wants. He believes that is around five years and $6 M a season. Haggerty also mentions that he thinks Edmonton sees Horton as the perfect veteran to help the young Oilers get to the next level.
Horton is the perfect free agent for Edmonton and would complete the Oilers top six. He’s a bigger player that can play that big style and provide some legit offense for this team. While $6 M per season on a long term deal is a steep price, Horton is a leader and a big game player and would no doubt help the young Oilers.
7th Overall Pick On Table: There shouldn’t be any doubt, the 7th overall pick is up for grabs at this year’s NHL entry draft. Craig MacTavish has hinted at possible movement here, and TSN’s Bob McKenzie added to that fire on Saturday afternoon, stating that the 7th overall pick, and multiple players on the Oilers roster, were available for trade.
There should be no surprise that the Oilers are looking to move this pick out. The team needs to compete for the playoffs this coming season, and moving the pick for an immediate impact player or a package including another pick and an immediate lesser player would help the team more than drafting 7th. I’ll personally be stunned if MacTavish steps to the podium to pick at the seven slot.
Horcoff Wants Contender: Oilers Captain Shawn Horcoff has played his last game in Edmonton. Horcoff has sold his Edmonton area house, couple that with MacTavish’s interview on the Mark Spector show last week, and it should say everything you need to know about Horc.
Horcoff is in Michigan helping MacTavish put the deal together. He has a full NMC until July 1st. The most likely landing spot for Horcoff is Detroit. He has worked out with Wings players before throughout the years, has a house in the area, and he also played his college hockey at Michigan State. It’s the perfect fit for Horc. I wouldn’t expect too much in return, maybe a role player.
Hemsky Front: Nothing really new on the Ales Hemsky trade front. The Oilers are looking to deal him and there are teams interested. Most interested parties are out east, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Hemsky moved at the NHL draft for a helpful piece.
Hemsky has more trade value than some might imagine. Couple that with a weak free agent class and I think people will be a little surprised with the return. I’m not saying it will be great, but it will probably be more than a 2nd round pick, as some are saying.
Associate Coach: Quick note, but I firmly believe that former NHL head coach Paul Maurice will be joining the Oilers coaching staff as the team’s associate coach. I’d look for an announcement within the next week. Looks like there will be a little Hartford Whaler flavor in Edmonton.
I’ll be back with more tomorrow. In the meantime, follow me on twitter @Alex_Thomas14
The Stanley Cup finals are finally here.
The two teams left standing are the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks. In the Eastern Conference Finals the Bruins knocked off cup favorite Pittsburgh in a four game sweep, and the Blackhawks took care of the defending cup champion Kings in five games out west.
This one’s going to be a classic.
Surprisingly, in the almost 100 year history of the National Hockey League, this is the first time these two cornerstone franchises have played against one another in the cup finals. It’s the first Historical Six finals matchup since the dreaded Hab’s dispatched the dreaded New York Rangers back in 1979. Others may incorrectly call it the “Original Six”, but since the Quebec Bulldogs and Montreal Wanderes don’t currently play in the NHL, I see no need to give in to some Red Bull drinking Marketing d-bags historically inaccurate monicker with regards to the formation of the NHL.
The Presidents trophy winning Blackhawks will have home ice advantage in this season first meeting of Eastern/Western conference opponents due to the lockout shortened season.
Both franchises have won Stanley Cups within the past three years after decades of failure. Both teams have won series this postseason that have gone to seven games and face adversity in the process.
Neither goaltender was the starting goalie for their teams most recent cup. The closest Tuukka Rask got was to remain on the bench while Tim Thomas played out of his mind in Vancouver. Corey Crawford wasn’t even the backup on the 2010 Chicago cup team, Cristobal Huet was along for the ride back then. Tuukka’s experience as a backup in 2011 when the Bruins obtained the cup will be an advantage over Crawford. It’s a small edge, but in a battle of extremely balanced teams, things like that actually matter.
Neither team has much of a power play, and for the first time in what seems an eternity, the Bruins are giving the edge in penalty kill to another team. Not just on sheer numbers, but factoring in the loss of defensive specialist Gregory Campbell cannot be overlooked. Chicago has allowed just three goals in fifty eight power-play opportunities during the first three rounds for an incredible 94.8 percent. The only number that might be crazier in these playoffs is Tuukka Rasks .985 save % during the Pittsburgh series where he only allowed two goals in 4 games.
Finally, it is the first finals appearance for Jaromir Jagr in 21 years. The longest span in any sport between appearances. The last time he won the cup was against Chicago.
As a hockey fan, I’m excited for this series. As a Bruins fan, I’m going to explode!
Drop the puck, and buckle up for one of the most evenly matched finals ever.
The Edmonton Oilers made it official today, as they welcomed Dallas Eakins to the Oilers family as head coach. Its a move the media and fans have been speculating on for days, and its a move that truly shuts the door on the Steve Tambellini era.
Eakins was all business at the press conference, much like MacTavish was on Saturday afternoon. Eakins touched on how he wanted the team to play, his coaching philosophy, and how much he values fitness. He also talked about how he wants to lay the foundation for a team that wins and competes every single season, and he wants to help bring the Oilers back.
Overall, Eakins was very well spoken and brought a sense to the table that he, like MacTavish, was on a mission, a mission to bring the Oilers back.
I already touched on my overall thoughts of the move yesterday (Short story: Two thumbs up MacT!) so today I’ll go over my thoughts on a few things Eakins said. Let’s get to it….
Coaching Philosophy: I found this especially interesting. Eakins talked about how he coaches individuals, not the team as a whole. It’s an interesting way to approach things, but it seemed to pay off big time in the AHL. What exactly does he mean by this?
I interpreted this as more of a motivational thing. Eakins said how he wants to learn the ins and outs of each player by talking to them, former teammates and even family to find out what pushes them and motivates them. This way, Dallas can push all the right buttons at the right time and keep his team motivated and ready to go.
It’s a daring philosophy, but it’s worked with young teams before and Eakins is comfortable using it. It will surely be different than anything Quinn, Renney or Krueger tried in Edmonton.
Multiple Systems: Eakins mentioned trying multiple systems and using them throughout the season, even trying two different forecheck plans during a single game. He mentioned in an interview with Bob Stauffer how pre-scouting and scouting allows teams to easily prepare now, so you need a backup plan.
Eakins is basically saying the Oilers will have a few different styles of forechecking, and a few different PP and PK strategies. This will allow the Oilers to switch things up and keep the other team on their heels. It’s something the best teams in the league use. Chicago did it against Detroit and LA did it this year throughout the playoffs, as well as last year. It’s the new way to go.
It’s something the Oilers haven’t used recently, and something that could help the Oilers five-on-five this season. They need some kind of change in style there, that’s for sure.
Other Highlights: Eakins mentioned a few times how surprised he was that the Oilers ended up offering him the head job. He talked about how great the four hour interview went, and how comfortable the Oilers made him feel, saying “It was just a few hockey guys sitting around talking hockey.”
Eakins also thanked a lot of people from the Leafs that helped him out, but mentioned Paul Maurice more than anyone else when speaking. He also talked about how they would like to add a veteran coach to the staff before camp opens up, so if you connect the dots, the sign is there. I’d say Paul Maurice is the most likely choice to be the Oilers new associate coach.
As for the current staff, Eakins said he’ll meet with them this week and figure out what he wants to do. I’d be shocked if Smith and Bucky stick around. This is truly a new era in Edmonton, and moving on from these two would be best. I’d imagine Eakins brings one Marlies assistant with him to Edmonton along with Maurice. My money is on Gord Dineen.
Overall, Eakins presented himself well and laid out his plan for the Oilers. This is a solid hire, and the first major step towards making the Oilers competitive once again.
Hartikainen To KHL: Oilers prospect and RFA Teemu Hartikainen has left the team and signed in the KHL with Salavat Yulaev Ufa. Hartikainen spent most of this season in the AHL with the OKC Barons. Harti told reporters at Barons locker clean out day that he wouldn’t be back, and we now know why.
Hartikainen has all the tools to be a solid top nine option for Edmonton, but appears to have gotten a little impatient. Harti’s game had yet to translate to the NHL, causing some frustration. Most would have preferred to see him work those kinks out in Edmonton next year, but that clearly won’t happen.
It’s unclear how long the deal is for Hartikainen. The Oilers hold his NHL rights if he decides to ever return.
This can’t be easy for the Oilers to take after investing so much in the prospect. Most had him penciled in the NHL roster this year too, so that’s another hole to fill. He’s the second Oiler to head to Europe, joining Antti Tyrvainen who signed in Finland last week.
Ranger To Edmonton?: Quick note here. Darren Dreger tweeted today that the Oilers could be interested in UFA defender Paul Ranger should he decide to return to pro hockey. Ranger is a defender that is mainly a puck-mover and has tons of potential. He keeps walking away from the game however, so there is some risk here.
Nothing concrete to this rumor just yet, but the Oilers would most likely be interested in the 28 year old puck mover should he decide to return to pro hockey.
Follow me on twitter @Alex_Thomas14.