I mentioned the Jiri Hudler news about three weeks ago, but didn’t really get into my thoughts and expectations on the matter. Obviously, with him on board the Red Wings won’t need to re-sign Jason Williams or Todd Bertuzzi. Hudler is ready for the next step and barring injury I believe he will clear 65 points and possibly top 70. That’s a big statement considering the top scorer this season had 70 for them. But his presense raises the production of Datsyuk and Zetterberg, making them 90-point players again. Hudler is a threat on the second line and you saw that once the Wings had that (when Franzen returned), the Big 2 stepped up their production.
Joe Sacco, Dave Tippett, and Barry Trotz – all Western Conference – are up for coach of the year. I think Tippett will win, but I would choose Sacco. For the last three years, I have been hyping the Coyotes as “on the right track” with how they have been drafting and felt that they would be a team of the future. It happened one year sooner than I thought, so does that make Tippett a great coach? Of course it does. Probably second best in the league. But Joe Sacco took a bunch of promising kids, a few nobodies, and some kids who didn’t have top-shelf potential and he made them into stars. Injuries didn’t stop the Avs, they would just bring up another kid and make him a star. Never seen the likes before in my life.
The Leafs have signed another goaltender – Hobey Baker finalist Ben Scrivens to a one-year deal. They are really shoring themselves up between the pipes and now have five promising or proven goaltenders. If all have a strong camp and impress early on, I am certain Brian Burke will move one. But if one were to falter, than Burke still has his AHL and NHL squads covered.
Bryzgalov was putting on a clinic and I got the feeling that the Coyotes would win the game 3-2 or 4-3 despite being outshot 60-20. But there was a real heartbreaker when Tomas Holmstrom pulled down Adrian Aucoin in front of the net – and Aucoin got the penalty. The Wings peppered Bryz with shots throughout the power play and eventually scored, making a 2-1 game (with Phoenix showing signs of life) a 3-1 game. And then the ‘Yotes failed to convert on a 5-on-3 power play, Brad Stuart scores and that’s all she wrote. Couldn’t find the clip for this one, even the seven minute game highlights I found skipped right over that play. But it was a bad call by the ref and instead of Detroit outshooting Phoenix 60-20 and losing 3-2, the Coyotes had to change their style and play desperate. Shots ended up 50-33. I was just hoping for a tight game and was disappointed with a whitewash and you’ll never convince me that the whitewash would have still happened had Holmstrom gone to the box instead of Aucoin. Disclosure: I had Lidstrom and Bryzgalov in the game, so it is all the same to me who moves on, from that perspective.
Shane Doan did not get into the game.
Ian Laperriere is out for the playoffs with a contusion in his brain suffered when he took that shot off the face.
The Caps will be without Tom Poti indefinitely. Karl Alzner was recalled.
Vancouver recalled star prospect goaltender Cory Schneider from Manitoba. Manitoba was eliminated so I’m sure the ‘Nucks will also be recalling other farmhands such as Sergei Shirokov and Jordan Schroeder.