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2010 Stanley Cup Finals: Michael Leighton was expecting a pass

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Leighton5.jpgI am admittedly hard on goaltenders, especially NHL goaltenders in
the playoffs.

Many people wondered what Dan Boyle was doing when
he threw his own puck on net; me, I was all over Evgeni Nabokov for not
being square to the play.

Before the Cup finals began everyone was
all gaga over Michael Leighton and how great he was against the Bruins
and the Canadiens. While he was certainly better than expected, he’d yet
to play a team like Chicago when the pressure was at its highest.

Against
the Hawks, through six games, Leighton was good. At times he was great,
but for a team like the Flyers to pull off the upset against Chicago
they needed him to be incredible. In their biggest game of the season,
he was far from incredible.

It’s tough to blame the go-ahead goal
in the third period on Leighton — it was tipped in front — but his
positioning on that play was indicative of the problems with his game
all series. The real killer was the goal before, after the Flyers had
taken a stunning 2-1 lead after being grossly outshot. Patrick Sharp has
a good shot, but this wasn’t his best. It was a clean release, and
Leighton had a clear sight of the shot; somehow the puck found it’s way
through him from the short side.

It’s something that had happened
to Leighton all series long. Good saves, followed by a soft short side
goal.

I’m still trying to figure out what happen on Patrick Kane’s
shot. As a goaltender, you are taught to always stay square to the
puck. If the puck is along the boards, you hug your post and make your
leg pads into a wall. The first instinct is to anticipate a shot, but
your first responsibility is to the initial shot. Trust your defensemen
to cover that pass if it gets through. Unfortunately,
Leighton broke that rule. Per Chris Botta:

“(Kane)
walked out of the corner and there was a guy driving to the
net,” said Leighton, who stopped 37 of 41 shots over 64 minutes and six
seconds. “I thought Kane was going to pass it. He threw it at my feet
and it went underneath me.”

From that angle, Kane’s
goal should never have gone in. While you feel happy for the Blackhawks,
I am saddened that a Stanley Cup was won on such a soft goal like that
one.

It's official: New Jersey Devils move AHL afilliate back to Albany

With the Albany River Rats leaving for Charlotte, NC, the New Jersey Devils have formally been approved to move their AHL affiliate, the Lowell Devils, to Albany for the 2010-2011 season. The River Rats had been the Devils affiliate in the AHL from 1993 to 2006, before New Jersey decided to switch the affiliation over to the Lowell Lock Monsters in 2006.

It wasn’t exactly the friendliest departure either, as relations between the fans and the team had soured in the latter stages of the Devils’ affiliation with the River Rats.

Yet with the River Rats headed to Charlotte, and the lease with the arena expiring in Lowell, the Devils felt it was time to give it another shot in an area that should be a great town for minor league hockey. This new team will be called the Albany Devils, completely with a wholly generic AHL logo. Here’s the press release:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO
David
Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has
approved the relocation of the franchise owned by the New Jersey Devils
from Lowell, Mass., to Albany, N.Y., to begin play there this fall.

The Albany Devils will mark the return of New Jersey’s affiliate to New
York’s capital region and the Times Union Center. The Devils were the
parent club of the AHL’s Albany River Rats for 13 years from 1993-2006,
winning four division championships and the Calder Cup in 1995, the
same season the New Jersey Devils won their first Stanley Cup.

The River Rats played a total of 17 seasons in Albany before they were
sold and relocated to Charlotte, N.C., to begin there in 2010-11.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top
development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85
percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates,
and for the ninth year in a row, more than 6 million fans have attended
AHL games across North America during the 2009-10 season. The 2010
Calder Cup Finals are underway, with the Hershey Bears and the Texas
Stars tied at two wins apiece in their battle for the AHL’s 74th
championship. Game 5 is Friday night.

2010 Stanley Cup Finals Game 6 highest rated NHL game since 1974

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You knew the numbers would be big, but I don’t think anyone thought they’d be this big. As the Flyers tied the game and sent Game 6 into overtime, the call went out across the nation: there’s a Stanley Cup finals game in overtime, you have to watch this.

The ratings peaked in the third period and overtime, as everyone across the nation tuned in to see the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. Here’s the press release:

NEW YORK – June 10, 2010 – Last night’s
series-clinching Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final between the
Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers registered a 5.8/10 overnight
rating (8:15-11:15 p.m. ET), the best overnight for any Stanley Cup
Final game in 36 years (7.6/27, Boston-Philadelphia, Game 6, 1974 on
NBC).

The rating peaked for the final 15 minutes of the game (11-11:15 p.m.
ET) with an 8.0 rating and 14 share. The 5.8 overnight is up 41 percent
vs. last year’s 4.1/7 overnight for Game 6 between the then-defending
Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins,
featuring Sidney Crosby.

In last night’s game, the Blackhawks defeated the Flyers, 4-3, on a
goal by Patrick Kane 4:06 into overtime to give Chicago its first
Stanley Cup since 1961, ending the NHL’s longest championship drought.

TOP 10 MARKETS

1. Chicago 32.8/50

2. Philadelphia 26.8/38

3. Buffalo 13.5/20

4. Pittsburgh 9.7/14

T5. Detroit 6.3/10

T5. Indianapolis 6.3/10

7. Fort Myers 6.1/10

8. Minneapolis 5.9/11

9. Las Vegas 5.7/9

10. Boston 5.1/9