To some, calling a third seed and strong division winner an underdog might seem a bit absurd. Yet when you get right down to it, that’s the most accurate way to describe the Boston Bruins as they head into the 2011 Stanley Cup finals against the Vancouver Canucks.
While many pundits will try to isolate their sporadic struggles as signs of weaknesses, the 2010-11 Canucks have been one of the most dominant teams in recent memory. They ran away with the Presidents Trophy and have taken less games to advance in each successive round (7 against Chicago; 6 against Nashville; 5 against San Jose.) It could be some time before we see a more complete team in the salary cap era. The Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler trigger an attacking offense, Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler power a deep defense and Roberto Luongo remains a truly elite netminder.
Speaking of elite netminders, Tim Thomas is the first goalie to be arguably the league’s best in both the regular season and postseason in quite some time. After breaking Domink Hasek’s single season save percentage, he hasn’t dropped off much with a 92.9 save percentage in the playoffs.
Thomas ranks as a big, flopping, unorthodox hurdle to the Canucks’ first ever Stanley Cup victory, but Zdeno Chara is an imposing obstacle in his own right. Chara and Dennis Seidenberg have been a strong top duo for Boston, but their defensive depth will come into question against a deep Canucks attack. The Bruins will need continued brilliance from their top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton along with steady contributions from Patrice Bergeron and other offensive players if they hope to make this a close series.
The preceding paragraphs capture our expectations for the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, but what do you think will happen? Could the Bruins pull off a significant upset or will the Canucks finally raise the Cup for the first time in franchise history? Let us know by voting in the poll.
Coyotes’ defensive makeover continues with Luke Schenn signing
“We are very pleased to sign Luke to a two-year contract,” New Coyotes GM John Chayka said. “He’s a good, young defenseman and we feel we can optimize his performance here. He will be a solid addition to our blue line.”
Chayka is making some significant changes to the Coyotes’ blueline, even if Oliver Ekman-Larsson is still the star of that group.
The Coyotes traded for and then signed Alex Goligoski. They possibly grabbed a falling star in the draft, too, as they selected Jacob Chychrun. Adding Schenn might not be the last move, either.
While Luke Schenn adds a valuable right-handed shot to the blue line, I'm not sure the Coyotes are done tweaking their D corps just yet.
Schenn isn’t necessarily an analytics darling, but a two-year, $2.5 million deal is reasonable even with some flaws. This contract seems even more reasonable when you consider the five-year, $18 million deal that just expired.
Holland is a solid player, generating 27 points in 65 games with Toronto last season. He’s a nice enough piece, but with the Maple Leafs in rebuild mode, they’re not exactly anxious to pay supporting cast members more than necessary.
With such a context in mind, it should be intriguing to see how much either side will budge.
At the moment, the Maple Leafs seem to hold the advantage.
Report: Flyers, Schenn disagree on money, term with arbitration looming
It sounds like the Philadelphia Flyers have some work to do if they hope to avoid an arbitration hearing with Brayden Schenn.
The session would take place on Monday, so the clock is ticking.
While the differences in opinion aren’t outright enormous, the Flyers still need to clean up their cap situation, so every $1 million counts. That – plus the length of a deal – seem to be the issue for the 24-year-old forward and the Flyers, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:
Brayden Schenn arb: PHI: $4.25M year 1 and just under $4.37 year 2. Player ask: $5.5M for one year
With the Flyers aiming for a two-year agreement while Schenn just wants one, it’s not quite as simple as merely saying “split the difference.”
Then again, that general logic could prove helpful. Perhaps the best path to a deal would be for the Flyers to edge closer to $5.5 million while convincing Schenn to sign for two years rather than one?
Of course, the Flyers could also offer Schenn more security in exchange for giving up some UFA years:
To be clear, those reported numbers are what was submitted to arbitrator. Doesn't mean they can't settle for longer term before Monday.