Tag: guest posts

St. Louis Blues v Nashville Predators

Predators roundtable: Which one of Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne is most expendable?


As we discussed earlier, the Predators are struggling to re-sign Shea Weber. Elliotte Friedman also points out that the team might have a hard time retaining the “Big 3” of Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne, a subject many people tackled already. It’s no guarantee that the Predators will need to part ways with one of those players (nor is it a guarantee that they will retain any of them), but in the spirit of discussion, we thought we’d ask four of our favorite Predators bloggers a simple yet challenging question:

If you had to let one of Weber, Suter or Rinne go, which one would it be?

Here are their answers.

Buddy Oakes from Preds on the Glass:

I think Friedman’s numbers are a bit high for Suter and Rinne and I’m still thinking that Weber will come in about $7 million since he has told me specifically that he wants to leave money for others to keep the team together.

It’s probably an extreme minority view, but I would let Weber go if I had a choice. He would be the most marketable for a trade and would result in the greatest return. Suter is a better pure defenseman and would have an offensive upside if not paired with Weber. We have seen that Suter plays better without Weber than Weber does without Suter.

Also, the Preds have a good stockpile of young D-men to filter into the system. In spite of having other young goalies, Rinne should have several more years as one of the league’s best and is the true MVP of the team.

Amanda DiPaolo from Inside Smashville:

I fall in the camp of doing whatever it takes, including dumping salary, to keep Rinne, Suter and Weber, but I’d let go of Suter if one was going to leave.

While Suter is a great defenseman, Weber is the face of the franchise and better all around. People like to say that Weber is so good because he has a Suter playing with him – you need the stay at home d-man to allow for the power d-man like Weber to play his game – but it’s a role Blum could play, making Suter more replaceable.

Keeping Weber is also important to the franchise from an outside perspective since the Predators have a reputation for developing solid players and then losing them to free agency. Rinne has continued to improve every season in net. I’m just not ready to hand over the reins to Lindback (or anyone else for that matter).

Dirk Hoag, managing editor of On The Forecheck:

If forced to let one of the Big 3 go, my choice would easily be Pekka Rinne. As beloved as he is here in Nashville, he has a shorter history of elite performance than Weber or Suter, and when you look at the evolution of the goaltending market over the last few years, tying up something like $6 million annually seems like a poor long-term decision.

Besides, the real MVP of the Preds is goaltending coach Mitch Korn; the team has enjoyed superior play in net pretty much every season despite rotating through a number of players after Tomas Vokoun left in 2007. Whether it’s through the maturation of Anders Lindback, or the budget-friendly acquisition of a proven veteran, it would appear that if you need to make a financially-driven decision that least affects the overall quality of the team, Pekka has to go.

Jeremy K. Gover, managing editor of Section 303.

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: Pekka Rinne is an all-world, elite goaltender (and those don’t just grow on trees). We know this not because he was runner-up for the Vezina, not because he should’ve won the Calder over Steve Mason in 2009 and not because he took fourth in the Hart voting either. We know this because he’s been giving the offensively-challenged Predators a chance to win every single game for the past three years. So Rinne’s out.

Shea Weber is the team captain. He’s the leader on and off the ice. He may not be the best quote in the locker room but he’s the closest thing the Preds have to a face of the league. So he’s out.

That leaves Ryan Suter. As much as he’s the first lieutenant in Weber’s army, he is the most expendable of the three. Nashville has other defensemen in the system who could eventually fill his role. So, while it would hurt (a lot!), the lesser of three evils is Suter.


So that’s two votes for Suter and one vote for Weber and Rinne. Personally, I’d lean toward replacing Rinne since the team has such a strong track record when it comes to generating quality goalies (and supporting them with great defense). As you can see from this study, it wouldn’t be an easy choice either way.

Hockey bloggers share their 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame ‘ballots’


Now that we provided our Hall of Fame choices and the choices of media experts, let’s get to some of our favorites from the hockey blogosphere. We’ll provide a “consensus” post later on, too.

Bryan Reynolds

1. Ed Belfour – Eddy the Eagle has to be a shoe in, or no one else can be. Seventy-six shut out, over 1100 games played, and a Stanley Cup? If those aren’t Hall of Fame numbers, the hall should just shut down.

2. Phil Housley – The best American defenseman ever born, and second highest scoring American ever. No Cups, but he had a 97 point season from the blue line in the clutch and grab era. The consummate Norris trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom topped out at 80.

3. Hakan Loob – Mostly because he has the best hockey name ever, and that seems to be about as good as any other reason the Hall chooses someone.

4. Adam Oates – He deserves to be there because if he doesn’t go this year, I am afraid of what Yerdon might do. Also, he was a fine player with multiple 100 point seasons, topping out at 142. It makes little sense how Oates has not been inducted already. Time to right a terrible wrong.

Joe Pelletier

(Pelletier’s note: There is a large log jam of Hall of Fame talent anxiously awaiting the induction announcements in 2011. With so many candidates, the biggest problem becomes the votes being split too many ways. With each inductee needing 75 percent support from the committee, it may be unlikely to see more than 2 inductees in the player category.)

1. Doug Gilmour – The hockey player’s hockey player. He has waited long enough.

2. Joe Nieuwendyk – Three words all beginning with the letter “C” best describe him: Classy, Clutch and Champion.

3. Sergei Makarov – Arguably the best Soviet player of the 1980s, and therefore top 10 player in the world in that time frame.

4. Adam Oates – Hockey’s most underrated superstar.

Honorable mentions: Ed Belfour and Eric Lindros.

Scotty Wazz

1. Doug Gilmour – Great leader and was able to adapt his style from high scorer into a grind guy

2. Eric Lindros – Despite the injuries, he redefined the role of a big forward in the NHL

3. Phil Housley – Always a solid defenseman with his teams, but could be handcuffed by his plus/minus stats

4. Ed Belfour – Most wins of eligible goalies and one of the best NHL goalies to come from the NCAA ranks.

Scotty Hockey

True Blue going all Red…

1. Boris Mikhailov – Russia’s Phil Esposito has been overlooked for far, far too long.

2. Sergei Makarov – Another oversight by the xenophobic selection committee, Soviet star won 13 golds internationally. Everyone talks about the transition to the NHL game and yet he stepped in and won the Calder with ease.

3. Pavel Bure – Mike Bossy and Cam Neely made it despite injury-shortened careers, Bure should too.

4. Alex Mogilny – Six time All Star, member of the Triple Gold Club,including playoffs played 1,114 games and had 1,118 points.

Monica McAlister
The Hockey Writers

1. Joe Nieuwendyk – His name is on the Stanley cup three times and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP not to mention that he held nearly a point per game average during his NHL career.

2. Adam Oates – Probably one of the most overlooked players for the HHOF because he never won the Stanley Cup. Has the most points (1420) of any eligible HHOF ballot members. After coming so close to winning so many different awards (Stanley Cup, Lady Byng, etc) isn’t it just time we let Oates be the bride and not a bridesmaid?

3. Alexander Mogilny – The original – alright, so he is not historically the first but we are talking hockey here – Alexander the Great. A Triple Gold Club (Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal, and a World Championship gold medal) member that just needs his Hockey Hall of Fame induction to complete his collection.

4. Mike Vernon – He still holds the Calgary Flames’ goaltending records. After years of battling it out with rival (Hall of Famer) Patrick Roy between the pipes, he finally pummeled him at center ice at Joe Louis Arena in a night known simply as “Fight Night at the Joe” on March 26, 1997. He finished that game with his 300th NHL victory before backstopping the Detroit Red Wings to their first cup since 1955 along with receiving the Conn Smythe Trophy.


1. Adam Oates – A 6-time Lady Byng finalist. Voters snub him because he’s too nice to raise a fuss.

2. Ed Belfour – Because he will burn the HHOF to the ground if he’s not in.

3. Boris Mikhailov – Just so we can revisit all Herb Brooks’ “Stan Laurel” jokes.

4. Rick Middleton – So we can torture Ranger fans a little more …

Ryan Porth

1. Pat Burns – There’s no way he’s not getting in this year. It should have happened last year. He’s one of the best coaches in the league’s history.

2. Doug Gilmour – He racked up over 1,400 points and was a complete player. He’ll eventually get into the Hall.

3. Ed Belfour – “The Eagle” won almost 500 games, won 2 Vezina’s and captured a Cup with Dallas. It’s only a matter of time for him, as well.

4. Joe Nieuwendyk – The current Stars GM won 3 Stanley Cups in his career and had 1,126 points in his long career. He is definitely HOF worthy.

The Sore Thumb: San Jose Sharks

Dan Boyle, Brian Rafalski, Jimmy Howard
1 Comment

With the Western Conference finals primed to kick off on Sunday night (8 p.m. ET on Versus, to be exact), we have a little more time to explore the two matchups. The NHL’s final four teams have plenty of strengths, but even these squads have a weakness or two. With that notion in mind, we asked: what flaw sticks out like a sore thumb?

To best answer that question, we provided our own hypothesis and also polled a blogger from each team.

Let’s take a look at the San Jose Sharks. (Click here to read the Vancouver Canucks version.)

Our choice: The Sharks’ defensive depth.

From a pure talent standpoint, Dan Boyle is the best defenseman on either the Sharks or Canucks roster. He’s not the world’s best player in his own end (though he’s more than adequate), but he’s one of the NHL’s most dangerous scorers from the blueline. Boyle is accompanied by a solid positional defenseman in Marc-Edouard Vlasic and a hard-hitting Swede in Douglas Murray.

Unfortunately, the rest of the defense isn’t so great. Jason Demers has some tantalizing offensive skill, but he’s not necessarily adept at shutting down an opposing offense. Ian White’s been better than expected, but he’s not an elite blueliner by any means. Niclas Wallin is a limited player as well.

I’m not saying the Sharks defense is downright awful, but against a team as good as Vancouver, that group could get exposed.

For a second opinion, we polled Mr. Plank from SBNation’s Fear the Fin.

The San Jose Sharks blueline has long been a concern for many following the team. It’s a unit that doesn’t have a premier shutdown player, relying instead on a strong team defense mentality to keep pucks out of their own net. With the Sedins and Alex Burrows going up against Keith-Seabrook and Weber-Suter in their wins over Chicago and Nashville respectively, I don’t think there’s any real surprise they’ve struggled as much as they have– those are world-class shutdown pairings. The Sharks just don’t have that type of firepower. Although I’ve argued for years that Marc-Edouard Vlasic is one of the most under-appreciated defensive defenseman in the game today, his partner Jason Demers hasn’t gotten there yet– Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray are also two excellent defenseman but both lack polish in their own zone at times.

That being said, where San Jose really flourishes and makes up for those shortcomings is with their forward group. Captain Joe Thornton has really set an example for the team this year with his attention to defensive play, and just about every forward under the California sun has followed suit. With the Sedins cycling the puck as much as they do you have to be sure that everyone is engaged in the play (especially your centerman), collapsing to the front of the net and helping out along the boards. If you don’t do that, the blueliners are going to be running around all night long and changing constantly after a prolonged stint in the defensive zone.

Vancouver’s forward depth isn’t as good as San Jose’s, but those top two lines are something special. No surprise there considering both Henrik and Daniel were nominated for the Hart Trophy in separate consecutive years. If the Sharks can hold the Sedins off the scoresheet I don’t think Vancouver has the offensive horses to run (swim?) with the Sharks depth. It’s just a matter of shutting them down consistently. That’s something that’s going to take a lot of work (and a little luck) to pull off.


So there you go, Mr. Plank and I agree: defense might be the Sharks’ biggest question. I’m more concerned with San Jose’s lower ranks while he has concerns about the group as a whole. San Jose has been tested already, but the Canucks present the deepest team they’ll face in the playoffs. We will see how their defense responds.

The Sore Thumb: Vancouver Canucks

Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin
1 Comment

With the Western Conference finals primed to kick off on Sunday night (8 p.m. ET on Versus, to be exact), we have a little more time to explore the two matchups. The NHL’s final four teams have plenty of strengths, but even these squads have a weakness or two. With that notion in mind, we asked: what flaw sticks out like a sore thumb?

To best answer that question, we provided our own hypothesis and also polled a blogger from each team.

Let’s take a look at the Vancouver Canucks.

Our choice: The Sedin twins’ health and productivity.

For a team that finds itself in the Western Conference finals, Canucks players have faced their fair share of criticism during the last month. In the first round, most of the critiques were lobbed at Roberto Luongo. The team’s goalie took a backseat to the Sedin twins against the Nashville Predators, however, as Ryan Kesler was forced to save the day.

While the typical sportswriter instinct would be to question their toughness or ability to handle playoff pressure, the bigger concern is about the Sedin twins’ health. Henrik Sedin, in particular, seems like he might be dealing with some kind of injury.

The team was able to survive against the Predators despite the Sedins’ struggles, but the San Jose Sharks present a bigger challenge. San Jose’s high-powered offense will likely force Vancouver to light up the scoreboard at least a couple times, so the Sedin twins will need to be their typically productive selves.

A near-week of rest might not heal up injuries that might require surgery, but at least Henrik and Daniel received some time to nurse their wounds. If you ask me, though, those two sore siblings might just be Vancouver’s sore thumb.

Now that you’ve read the PHT hypothesis, here’s Yankee Canuck from the SBN blog Nucks Misconduct.

The lone concern is goal scoring (having been outscored 33-30 so far) and that means the blame falls to the Sedins twins and, more specifically, Henrik. His struggles haven’t eluded anyone as he’s not been as strong on the puck as we’re accustomed to, which limits the opportunities for Daniel and Alex Burrows to fire some high percentage shots on net. With a beast like Murray potentially hounding him, it could get a lot worse and increase the pressure on Kesler’s line to carry the offensive burden.

A few days off to heal the wounds might do wonders for Henrik and the twins will remain huge threats on the PP, but even strength goal production has to be better. The same can be said for offensive support from the defense, which chipped in some crucial goals against Nashville.

All in if Vancouver can collectively flex their scoring muscle on pace with their regular season results, they’ll get their four wins.


So Yankee Canuck and I focused on the Sedin twins, particularly Henrik. It’s not a revolutionary observation to make, but their outputs will likely make or break Vancouver’s series against San Jose. This is their chance to show that they are genuine stars in the NHL. It’ll be fascinating to find out if they can pull it off.

The Sore Thumb: Tampa Bay Lightning

Washington Capitals v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Four
1 Comment

With the conference finals primed to kick off on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET on Versus, to be exact), we have a little more time to explore the two matchups. The NHL’s final four teams have plenty of strengths, but even these squads have a weakness or two. With that notion in mind, we asked: what flaw sticks out like a sore thumb?

To best answer that question, we provided our own hypothesis and also polled a blogger from each team.

Let’s take a look at the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Click here for the Boston Bruins’ version.)

Our choice: Tampa Bay’s defense.

Much credit should be given to Guy Boucher’s 1-3-1 trap. It bottles up offensive attacks and allows the Lightning to camouflage a pedestrian group of defensemen.

I’m sorry, but when Eric Brewer is most indispensable blueliner, you might not have the most talented D corps. That’s not to say that Brewer is outright awful, but the Lightning allowed 35.5 shots per game in the playoffs so far. Only the Buffalo Sabres (35.6) and Los Angeles Kings (38.9) gave up more shots per game in the postseason. You cannot say that the Lightning are just engaging in shot-happy games that throw off the numbers, either. They’re averaging just 26.7 shots per game, the lowest rate in the 2011 playoffs.

Then again, the Boston Bruins allowed 34.4 shots per game in their two series*, so perhaps both sides should worry about their defenses a bit (and thank their goalies Dwayne Roloson and Tim Thomas). It seems like Roloson saved their defense and bolstered Boucher’s system, but we’ll see if the 41-year-old goalie can do it again.

Speaking of Roloson, Cassie McClellan of the SBN blog Raw Charge imagines a Lightning world without the veteran goalie in her own “sore thumb” piece.

Who is Tampa Bay’s sore thumb? Two words: Mike Smith.

While no one was thrilled with the 10-day layoff between series for the Lightning, it did give 41-year-old goalie Dwayne Roloson some time to rest. And that one fact put a lot of fans’ minds at ease. The chances of Roloson getting injured are about the same as any goaltender left in the playoffs, so that’s not really the issue. However, the harrowing couple of minutes when Roloson went down during the Washington Capitals series after Alex Ovechkin grazed his windpipe with the blade of his stick was a wakeup call. It made everyone realize that, well, what would happen if Dwayne had to sit for a while? And the answer to that question horrified a lot of people.

Roloson is everything Lightning fans could’ve asked for in a starting goaltender. But at this point, if the worst-case scenario were to happen and he were to go down, I think fans would rather take their chances with fourth-stringer Dustin Tokarski (third-stringer Cedrick Desjardins is out with a shoulder injury) than with backup Mike Smith. That’s how little faith the fanbase puts in him – despite becoming a lot more consistent this past regular season.


So it looks like Cassie and I are worried about the Lightning in their own end. The biggest difference, obviously, is that she worries about Roloson going down with an injury while I worry more about his defense exposing him to another heavy barrage of shots. I’m unsure if Roloson can bail that shaky defense out for another playoff round, but Cassie is most concerned about any other goalie attempting to do the same.

*- The Bruins didn’t deal with the same glaring shot disparity, though, since they also fired 33.8 shots per game through 11 contests.