We've now survived a full two days without hockey. I'm already getting a bit zany (to the point that I actually made a 27 Dresses reference in this post). How the heck did we make it through an entire lockout?
There has been a lot of talk that Los Angeles will run away with the series now that they've taken game one. I'm not entirely sure. Lundqvist is arguably the best goalie in the world (I routinely switch back and forth between him and Rask) and should be able to help New York take at least a game or two. I'll be cheering for them to win at least three, providing us all with the enjoyment that can only come from a game seven.
On to today's ramblings…
Nothing is for certain, but it's looking like Gaborik has a reasonable chance to sign back in Los Angeles on a medium term deal. The Kings have been searching for more consistent scoring and he is a guy that consistently scores (347 in 810 games) – it's a nice match. With the cap going up this summer, and rumors growing that Mike Richards may be bought out, there should be plenty of mula available for everyone.
All of this has me thinking about that first line, specifically right wing. Justin Williams has been a fixture there, skating with Kopitar the last number of years. However, in these playoffs Los Angeles has experimented with Dustin Brown in that slot. Via Frozen Pool we can see that Brown has skated 52.8% of his even strength shifts with Kopitar and Gaborik. Compare that to the last 10 games of the regular season in which he only had 1.71% of his shifts there.
It creates a bit of a conundrum heading into 2014-15. Whoever ends up with the Kings' two big guns will win the fantasy lottery, enjoying a production bump across most categories. Conversely, it will be difficult to get yourself excited about the prospect of Williams taking a regular shift with Jarret Stoll and Dwight King.
A fun/frightening stat for you – Rene Bourque only had three assists in 17 playoff games. This after managing only seven in 63 regular season games. Yes, he had eight goals, three of which came via a hat-trick. But I don't believe any of this bodes well for next season. His playoff shooting percentage (15.7%) was more than double his number in the regular season. With even a slight bit of regression he'll be back to the old Bourque we've all come to know – a fixture on the waiver wire.
Jim Rutherford, former Hurricanes general manager, has been brought in to take over in Pittsburgh. He wasted no time, I mean literally no time, in removing Dan Bylsma as head coach. I'm not sure whether these recent changes in Pittsburgh will have any meaningful impact. Rutherford brings a tonne of experience, but his track record is a bit mixed, not unlike the man he is replacing in Ray Shero. It feels like change for the sake of change, a new "voice", who knows if it will help upgrade their on ice product.
Secretly I'm hoping that Rutherford feels pressure to make a BOLD (all caps!) move and ends up shipping Malkin to Detro