|06.14.10 at 5:01 pm ET|
If there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I live for draft projections. We had some moderate success mocking the NFL draft this season (the good: called Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Spikes to Patriots; the bad: had Ricky Sapp about 100 picks too high), so after years of doing NHL mocks elsewhere, it’s time I bring my projections to the Big Bad Blog. There’s been enough chatter about this draft (what the first two picks mean, whether the Bruins will move around with all their picks, etc.) that Bruins fans should be as prepared as possible before the 25th day of the month rolls around.
The Oilers can’t lose with this pick and quite frankly, neither can the Bruins in the No. 2 slot. Both guys are can’t-miss prospects with no visible flaws in their game and measure/weigh in the . They both figure to be up their among the league leaders in goals by the time they hit their prime, and they’ll at least be difference-makers at rookies. The fans in Edmonton prefer Hall, so it could be the difference in a remarkably close race.
Boo hoo, the Bruins don’t get the guy at the position at which they need the most help. Isn’t their biggest need a goal-scorer? Just because they’re loaded up the middle and don’t have impact scorers on the wing, doesn’t mean they won’t gladly take the guy who scored eight more goals than Hall this past season (48 G). As for the talk of trading up, the difference between these two guys isn’t big enough to warrant moving the 15th or 32nd pick.
3. Florida Panthers (77 points) Cam Fowler, D, Windsor (OHL)
Much like the top two forwards in this draft, there is a bit of uncertainty as to who the first defenseman off the board will be. Many feel that Erik Gudbranson will be the guy who goes third, but the Panthers might prefer the American-born goal-scoring blue-liner in Fowler.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets (79 points) Brett Connolly, LW, Prince George (WHL)
The Blue Jackets are one of the teams rumored to be interested in trading for Senators center Jason Spezza, and unlike many of the other teams reportedly involved in talks, they actually make sense as a landing spot. As a result, don’t be surprised if Columbus doesn’t end up selecting with this pick. If they stay put, however, they’ll try to add offense after recently signing 2009 first-round defenseman David Savard.
5. New York Islanders (79 points) Erik Gudbranson, D, Kingston (OHL)
Gudbranson would be a beyond solid pick for the Islanders because he, along with Blake Kessel once he signs, will help build a versatile stable of young defensemen. Gudbranson uses what size he has (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) and is your more hard-nosed defenseman, while Kessel is more offensive-minded and will help on the power play.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning (80 points) Brandon Gormley, D, Moncton (QMJHL)
The bad news for Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is that he won’t be able to get Seguin, who has been compared to the Hall of Famer by many, with the sixth pick. The good news is that the Lightning can’t get much worse than they were in ’09-’10 and that adding Gormley to a good young nucleus can only help. Gormley, who is more like Fowler than Gudbranson, is a good puck-moving defenseman who figures to be a top-four defenseman for years to come.
7. Carolina Hurricanes (80 points) Nino Niederreiter, LW, Portland (WHL)
The team could very well be on the verge of losing left wing Ray Whitney to free agency, and while the NHL is different from the NBA and NFL in that teams generally can’t plug in draft picks to replace lost talent, Niederreiter is the best left winger in this draft not named Hall or Connolly.
8. Atlanta Thrashers (83 points) Ryan Johansen, C, Portland (WHL)
Don’t be surprised if four of the first eight picks are Windsor Spitfires and Portland Winterhawks, as is the case here. Windsor’s Hall isn’t the only one to boost his stock with an outstanding showing in the playoffs, as Johansen racked up 18 points in 13 games in the postseason for Portland.
|06.10.10 at 4:31 pm ET|
As rumors swirl regarding what the Bruins may or may not be offering Steve Tambellini in exchange for the first overall pick in this month’s NHL draft, the Oilers general manager confirmed Thursday that he has spoken to his Boston counterpart in Peter Chiarelli — just not about the pick.
‘Last time I talked to Peter was the general managers’ meetings in Philly [between Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup finals]. Peter hasn’t thrown any names at me. No proposals. But I’m all ears,’ Tambellini told the Edmonton Journal.
‘I don’t know what it take to give up the first pick overall in this year’s draft. I know there will be proposals and I’m looking forward to seeing what they might be, but I don’t know if I would recommend to [Oilers president of hockey operations] Kevin (Lowe) or our ownership that we should move the first pick,’ Tambellini told the paper.
Hall of Fame writer Jim Matheson of the Journal writes in the report that Tembellini is “almost surely not giving up the first pick.” The Oilers brought highly coveted Windsor Spitfires left wing and anticipated top pick Taylor Hall in on Wednesday and were set to make him available to the media shortly after. If a trade isn’t made, the Bruins, who pick second, will take whomever is left between Hall and Plymouth Whalers center Tyler Seguin. Tambellini insists the team has yet to settle on who they will select.
‘I don’t think there’s a wrong answer here … There’s lots of reasons to go either way,’ Tambellini told the paper. ‘But it’s getting clearer as to what may be separating the players. We’re not making our final decision until the very end. We’ve told both kids we’re going to do that.’
The Bruins have already met with both Hall and Seguin and have ammunition for a trade in the form of the 15th and 32nd overall picks, as well as two picks in each of the first two rounds of the 2011 draft.
|06.10.10 at 10:31 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — Nick Boynton dreamed of a moment like Wednesday night since he was three. And finally, on the ice of the Wachovia Center, the 31-year-old Blackhawks defenseman was finally able to hoist the Stanley Cup over his shoulders.
There was a time when Boynton thought those dreams would be realized in Boston. After all, he was taken by the Bruins as a defenseman in the 1999 NHL Draft and there were those who thought he would be able to help replace the legendary Ray Bourque as a defenseman who could move the puck and kick-start the Bruins offense.
Originally drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 1997 NHL Draft, Boynton was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes just before his first camp with the Bruins but the disease did not keep him from pursuing his life-long dream.
His best season was 2003’04 with Boston, when he had six goals and 24 assists. During the NHL lockout season of 2004’05, Boynton played for the Nottingham Panthers in the British Elite Ice Hockey League.
“It’s hard to describe,” Boynton said. “But this is what I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid. It’s the greatest thing ever.”
He played one more season for Boston before being dealt to Phoenix for fellow defenseman Paul Mara. Since then, he’s bounced around, going to Florida, Anaheim and finally stopping in Chicago after being traded there this March.
What a break for him. He winds up with a ring out of it.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my career, starting with the Bruins,” Boynton said. “I love Boston and have so many friends back there. I’m a lucky guy. I head back to Boston every summer and I miss it. Those were my younger years and made me who I am today so I love it there.
“It was everything you expect and more. It’s been 31 years. Since I was three years old, I’ve been dreaming about this. It’s been a long time.”
|06.10.10 at 9:22 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — What if a team won the Stanley Cup and no one noticed? Not even most of the players on the team that just made history.
No, that’s no cruel joke or a shot at the NHL. That’s what happened Wednesday night at the Wachovia Center when Patrick Kane’s simple shot – a lesson in why you always put the puck on the net – got past Philadelphia’s Michael Leighton just over four minutes into overtime to give Chicago a 4-3 win and its first Stanley Cup title since 1961.
Without question, the ending to the 2010 Stanley Cup will go down as one of the most bizarre and surreal endings to a championship in recent memory.
Let the man who scored explain why.
“Well, I shot it, I saw it go right through his legs and it was sticking right under the pad in the net so I don’t think anyone saw the puck in the net,” Kane said. “I just booked it to the other end. I knew it was in right away and tried to sell the celebration a little bit and everyone came down.
“I think some guys were still iffy to see if the puck was in the net. I saw the coaches pointing at the puck and just jumping around. It’s pretty surreal right now, for sure.”
[Click here to hear Kane explain his Cup-winning goal and the ensuing celebration.]
[Click here to hear a stunned Leighton explain what he saw from his point of view.]
|06.10.10 at 1:28 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The team of destiny that made history in Boston went to the well once too often in overtime and it finally cost the Flyers their Stanley Cup dreams. Chicago’s Patrick Kane scored on a bizarre goal that few people in the building even realized went in just over four minutes into overtime and the Blackhawks claimed their fourth Stanley Cup with a 4-3 win over Philadelphia at the Wachovia Center in Game 6.
They then matched up against the No. 6 Bruins, and no one in New England needs to be reminded that ‘ up three games to none and 3-0 in Game 7 on Garden ice ‘ the Bruins let the Flyers come back to tie and win Game 7 and the series, 4-3, on a power-play goal by Simon Gagne with the Bruins serving a penalty for too many men on the ice.
It was in Game 4 in overtime when Gagne scored his first goal back from injury to re-ignite the flame for the Flyers.
Three wins later it was the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern finals. The Habs proved little opposition for the Flyers, who prevailed in five games.
Then the Chicago Blackhawks. The team that hadn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1961 won a shootout, 6-5, in Game 1 and another one-goal game in Game 2, 2-1.
The Flyers showed their character by winning Game 3 again in overtime and handling Chicago 5-3 in Game 4. After a 7-4 loss in Game 5 the Flyers were again on the brink, down 3-2 with 3:59 left in regulation when Scott Hartnell scored to force ‘ yep ‘ another overtime.
This extra session would be the heartbreak of heartbreaks for the Flyers. A weak shot from Patrick Kane, almost an afterthought, was thrown on Michael Leighton. The goalie didn’t see it until it went under him and the lip of the goal on the right side.
“He walked out of the corner, and there was a guy driving the net so I thought he was going to pass it,” Leighton said. “He just threw it at the net and it went underneath me.”
Bang. Game over. Stanley Cup over. Team of Destiny denied.
But still, this Flyers team will have its fondest memories of one of the most remarkable playoff run in recent sports rooted in Boston.
It was at TD Garden on May 14 that the Flyers became just the fourth team in major professional sports to wipe out a 3-0 deficit and win a series and the first to overcome a 3-0 hole on the road in Game 7 to do so.
“Yeah, you look back at a lot of games throughout the whole season,” Hartnell said. “The way we got in, the way we came back against Boston to beat a great goalie and New Jersey and Montreal was on fire as well. We have to be proud to a certain point but certainly it’s disappointing, too.”
|06.09.10 at 10:02 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — After falling behind for the first time in the game, the Blackhawks showed the kind of determination that makes Stanley Cup champions. As a result, they took a 3-2 after 40 minutes and stand one period away from their first Stanley Cup title since 1961.
The Flyers broke a 1-1 tie when Ville Leino skated into the high slot after Duncan Keith fell down. Danny Briere skated down the right wing with Leino, who fed Briere for a wrist shot that beat Antti Niemi for his team-leading 12th goal of the playoffs.
But Chicago has outskated the Flyers from the get-go and that continued even when they were behind. The Hawks used the open ice of a 4-on-4 to get Patrick Sharp a shot from the low right circle and he didn’t miss, beating Michael Leighton 5-hole at 9:58 of the second period to tie the game.
Then Andrew Ladd redirected a Niklas Hjalmarsson slap shot from the left point to beat Leighton and the Wachovia Center fell quiet with 2:17 left in period.
The Hawks are 1-for-5 on the power play while the Flyers are 1-for-4 on the man-advantage.
|06.09.10 at 9:00 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Blackhawks played the opening 20 minutes like they wanted to end a 39-year championship drought.
The Chicagoans outshot the Flyers, 17-3, in the first 19 minutes and registered the first goal of the game on a very questionable high sticking call on Flyers defenseman and emotional leader Chris Pronger.
With Blair Betts on the ice with a broken stick, the Hawks took advantage of what essentially was a 5-on-3 when Dustin Byfuglien stuffed a shot past Michael Leighton at 16:49.
But it was evident the officials had some remorse for helping set up Chicago’s first goal as the Hawks were whistled for two penalties in the final three minutes of the period.
First, Brent Seabrook was called for elbowing with 3:01 left in the first. Then, just as the Hawks killed off that penalty, Brent Sopel was called for an interference penalty near his own blue line. Sensing the desperation, Danny Briere shot a puck from the left circle toward Scott Hartnell, who was just getting to his skates after getting shaken up. Hartnell collected the loose puck and put a backhander past Antti Niemi with just 26.5 seconds left in the period to tie the game.
The Flyers used the momentum to fire the last four shots of the period, getting outshot, 17-7, for the period.