Monday, June 6, 2011

Video: Lucic Mocks Burrows Over Finger Biting

During Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Alex Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks bit the finger of Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins.  After not being suspended for the bite, Burrows went on two score twice, including the OT game-winner in Game 2.  During Game 2, Burrows teammate, Max Lapierre mocked Bergeron for complaining about being bit by Burrows.

Tonight in Game 3, it was the Bruins turn to get in on the mocking of the biting fiasco from Game 1.  Milan Lucic, following an Alex Burrows dive, punched Burrows in the head multiple times and towards the end of the scrum, with his gloves off put his finger towards the face of Burrows as if telling him to bite his finger this time.


Video: Tim Thomas Throws Hit On Henrik Sedin

The NHL does a lot to protect goaltenders from getting hit by opposing players.  Tim Thomas decided not only did he not need to be protected, but that he was going to take the contact to Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks.  Sedin would have had a great chance to score on the play, but Thomas took the body to stop him.


That is certainly one way to keep the puck out of the net.  One has to wonder if Thomas could have been called for an interference penalty because there was clearly no intent to play the puck.  If that is ruled legal, then one has to wonder if more goaltenders will start being more proactive in defending their crease as Thomas did.

Video: Brad Marchand Scores Spectacular Shorthanded Goal

With the Boston Bruins already up 2-0 midway through the second period of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Brad Marchand worked some magic while the team was shorthanded.  Marchand picked up the puck at center ice, played a pass to himself off the side boards which allowed him to get by Alex Edler and then he overpowered Ryan Kesler in the offensive zone and showed tremendous patience at the end to get Roberto Luongo down on his stomach before putting home a critical third goal with a shot upstairs.


Video: Nathan Horton Stretchered Off Following Late Hit By Aaron Rome

Hockey is a violent and sometimes brutal sport, but the sight of Nathan Horton laying prone on the ice was a scary one early in the first period of Game 3 tonight. Mike Murphy will have another decision to make in this series concerning supplemental discipline, but this one should result in a suspension.

At 5:07 of the first period Bruins' forward Nathan Horton was laid out by a late hit to the head by Canucks' defender Aaron Rome.  The NHL installed Rule 48 last offseason to protect players from blindside hits to the head when they are defenseless. 
A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted.
Tonight was a prime example of what the rule was looking to remove from the game.  After moving the puck just outside the Vancouver Canucks’ blueline Horton was leveled by Rome who left his feet, made first contact to the head of Horton while he was defenseless.  

For those who want to claim that Horton was at fault for watching his pass there is the issue of just how late the hit was.  The standard for a late hit is .5 seconds, while this one was nearly 1 full second late. 
TSNRyanRishaug: According to TSN newsroom aces, release of puck to hit was 28 frames, 30 is a full second, so substantially late as NHL standard half second
Aaron Rome was assessed a five minute major for interference and a game misconduct for the hit.  I would expect the combination of the hit itself and the lateness of it will result in a significant suspension for Rome that could last into next season.

Horton laid prone on the ice for several minutes before eventually being taken off on a stretcher.

Update from Bruins: Update on Nathan Horton: he has been transported to Mass Gen Hosp and is moving all his extremities. No further update at this time ^BB 


Sean Avery, the Horse, Wins Longfellow Stakes at Monmouth

The Rangers season might be over, but that does not mean that Sean Avery is not winning things.  Well, Sean Avery the horse that is.  Yesterday at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, Sean Avery improved his career record to 5-0-2 with his victory in the $75,900 Longfellow Stakes.  The 5-year old gelding is owned by John DeStefano of Black Swan Stables.  DeStefano is friends with the New York Rangers Sean Avery.

2011 NHL Draft Prospects: Matt Puempel

The 2011 draft now less than one month away, and the Rangers scouting and front office staff is looking through many prospects to see who they want to select with the 15th overall selection.  With the current state of the Rangers defense both at the NHL and prospect level one would expect that New York will look for offense in the first round of the draft hoping to find an impact scorer.  There are a number of offensive prospects that could be available at 15.  We have already looked at Mark Scheifele, Mark McNeill, Zack Phillips, Joel Armia Sven Bartschi and Ty Rattie for their potential fits for the Rangers.
Today we will look at a player who performed admirably given how bad his team was, but suffered a season ending him injury.  That player is Matt Puempel of the Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey League.  Puempel put up 34 goals and 35 assists in just 55 games for the Petes despite being keyed on every night and having little other talent to work with. This was following his OHL rookie of the year winning 33 goal 31 assist effort in 59 games during the 2009-10 season.
Kirk Luedeke of Bruins Draft Watch’s:
The 2010 CHL Rookie of the Year followed up his 33-goal first OHL season with 34 goals and 69 points in 55 games (to finish with the team scoring lead even though he missed 13 games) before suffering a hip injury that ended his season. His production was laudable because he didn't get a lot of help on his Petes team, but still managed to remain a threat to score even with a lot of checking attention on him. He has just average size at 6-0, 190 pounds, but compensates for that with his skating, hands and heavy shot that has pinpoint accuracy. Smooth stride and can gain separation; will go into traffic and the places on the ice where he must in order to score. He reads and anticipates the play extremely well, and is one of those guys who just seems to find ways to get himself into scoring situations. When all is said and done, he's probably one of the more underrated players in the OHL class, because given what he's accomplished in two seasons offensively, he's not on the tips of many tongues when talking about the top-10 guys in the 2011 draft. Puempel has a slender frame and needs to get stronger, but there are no issues with his high-end skills. He's been dinged for going through streaky periods where he isn't involved as much as he should be, but the reality is- he played hurt in the Ivan Hlinka (back) and still managed to be productive. He's probably got more skill and talent than several of the players ranked ahead of him and could be another one of those steals who, people will look back on and wonder how he lasted where he did in the draft.
Stock watch: Steady- no playoffs for Puempel, which means NHL teams who draft him will have to be confident that he'll come back from his hip injury as good as he was before. Given the advances in medical science that allow full recoveries and other injured players who have still been taken high in the NHL draft with injury concerns, Puempel shouldn't drop very far because of that.
The Scouting Report (Ranked 5, midseason):
Puempel has been a faller in many people’s eyes this season, but we’ve been impressed by his ability to be a dominant offensive player on one of the weakest offensive teams in the OHL. He’s got an elite release on his shot and exceptional offensive hockey sense, but he’s also showed more of an ability to create on his own this season. Still guilty of disappearing for periods of a game, but his innate offensive ability would look good on the top line of an NHL team.
Puempel's an interesting player available for this draft. I think the fact that he hasn't slid further in most rankings, is a testament to his talent level and potential. The Petes had a dreadful season and Puempel has to shoulder some of that blame (a large reason CSS has him lower on their list). Puempel also had to have season ending hip surgery, causing him to miss the Under 18's. But the good news is that the surgery on his hip isn't for a debilitating condition and he will recover. If Brett Connolly can still go high in the lottery with his injury trouble, Puempel has a chance too. Puempel is definitely one of the better goal scoring forwards available in this draft. Some guys were just born to be goal scorers. He's got a great shot and he can unleash it anywhere on the ice. He's also a very intelligent player and seems to find his way to loose pucks in front of the net. The next step for him will be improving his ability to take the puck to the net and create offense from any good goal scorer does. He'll also need to refine the rest of his game (play along the boards, backchecking, intensity). But you can't teach the skills he has. I think whoever takes Puempel will need to be patient with him (much like the Coyotes have been with a guy like Brett MacLean), but he definitely has top 6 NHL ability.
The best thing you can say about Puempel is that he is a pure scorer, which is something that the Rangers definitely need.  You cannot discount a player who has back-to-back 30 goal seasons, which might make him come off the board earlier than currently projected.  As of now he is seen as someone that you could trade down to the early 20's, obtain more assets and still have on the board. 

Rangers, Dubinsky Need Each Other So Contract Will Get Done

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote yesterday that Brandon Dubinsky was seeking $4.5 million per season during his contract negotiations this summer.  Many New York Rangers fans immediately sought to distance themselves from Dubinsky by seeking to minimize his contributions to the club because they thought the amount was too high and that it might lead to his departure.  The defense mechanisms are unnecessary as you can say that you don’t want to see the Rangers pay Brandon $4.5 million without discounting the value he has to this club or resorting to calling him greedy.

From Brooks…
Impending Group II free agent Brandon Dubinsky is seeking a multi-year deal at $4.5 million a year, we're told. But not only isn't he going to get it from Sather, his case became much, much weaker when Buffalo winger Drew Stafford -- whose numbers form a direct comparable -- re-upped a couple of days ago for four years at $4 million per.
I would agree that Dubinsky ends up near where Stafford did, but I would garner a guess that Stafford did not open negotiations at that number to end up there.  He probably began the negotiation process looking for more and the two sides concluded at the 4/16 deal.  To further the issue, Jesse Spector tweeted last night that any statements regarding the “demands” of the Dubinsky side did not come from him or his agent, which makes the whole thing a big exercise is nothing.
NYDNRangers: On the report out today that Dubinsky seeks $4.5M per year -- it didn't come from his camp.   
NYDNRangers: That doesn't mean he's not looking for $4.5M a year, just that it's not him or his agent taking the negotiations public. 
The one thing it did show however is that there is still a propensity for Rangers fans to think the worst of Dubinsky when it comes to contracts based on the holdout two years ago.  The immediate jump to blame him for what was said by Brooks and minimize his worth was frighteningly quick.  This is a player who led the team in goals (24), assists (30), and points (54) while playing part of the season through a stress fracture in his leg.  While his play tailed off in the second half, Dubinsky was clearly the team’s MVP during the first half when he played to a near All-Star level.  Having said all of that, the moment fans thought he wanted too much for his next contract he becomes useless?  We can do better than that as there is not another forward on this team who can help the team in as many ways as Dubinsky does on the ice, except for Ryan Callahan.

Furthering that if you look around the league, as was pointed out by RangerSmurf on twitter yesterday, the salaries of many comparable left wings in the NHL are very similar to the $4.5 million number that was floated by Brooks.  I am hopeful that the actual negotiations go smoothly and the Rangers can keep the deal under $4 million, but this is also what happens when you have a team that lacks offensive talent, as the Rangers do, as it makes each piece more valuable and creates some level of leverage.  The Rangers need Dubinsky for all that he brings them on the ice, and he needs New York for the opportunities he gets here that he would not get most other places.  The mutual need for each other is something that always helps in the end and when both sides see that it will be done.  In the meantime, take a deep breath and don’t jump off the cliff with every rumor, even if time is slow.