Tag Archives: Sharks

Bold, perhaps foolhardy 2011 NHL Playoff picks

There were some very long, tough deliberations going into a few of this year’s opening round matchups.  Its difficult to isolate a ‘Cinderella’ this year because every one of those teams have gaping holes; major issues.

If the Nashville Predators were facing almost any other team but the Ducks in the first round, I’d pick the Preds to finally solve the first-round victory equation.  The Preds must jump all over Anaheim at Honda Center in games one and two to have a chance.  Pekka Rinne is due for a coming out series and the Ducks will have to get by with Dan Ellis at least for the initial game or two.  It will be a long series though and the Ducks have too much firepower to bet against.  I’m already planning on regretting this, but…. Ducks in 7.

(1) Vancouver over (8) Chicago – 6 games

(2) San Jose over (7) Los Angeles – 5 games

(3) Detroit over (6) Phoenix – 7 games

(4) Anaheim over (5) Nashville – 7 games

The Canucks are deeper up front and their blue line will outperform the Blackhawks defensive six.  Corey Crawford had to start the Blackhawks’ final 27 consecutive games out of necessity and showed signs of wear in the last week.  If the Hawks do get under Roberto Luongo’s hair, the key to the series then becomes Alain Vigneault’s trigger finger.  In Corey Schneider, Vigneault has possibly an equally as good goaltender to Luongo in the back up position.  But if Vigneault waits too long to flip the card, the series’ tide could turn and it could be too late.  The Hawks are 18-10-1-3 versus Western playoff teams and five of those losses overall came to Vancouver and San Jose.  If they can somehow work their Van-magic again and pull past the Nucks, the Hawks could go on another run.  But the Canucks are too deep; special teams are too good and they’re primed to take this series.  In both previous Blackhawks’ postseasons, home ice in the first round was a pivotal factor and they don’t have it here.  Canucks in 6.

Phoenix gave the Red Wings all they could handle last season and now have another chance to pull off the upset.  The difference this year being Detroit has the home ice advantage.  Detroit struggled down the stretch and will start the series without Henrik Zetterberg (knee).  Jimmy Howard has been just ‘okay’ and he stares down the other end of the rink at Ilya Bryzgalov, who is capable of winning three or four games on his own.  Phoenix relies on him and a balanced scoring attack.  The Red Wings need Johan Franzen to get going again and guys like Lidstrom, Stuart, Rafalski and Kronwall must be better than they were in March and April.  Home ice will be a major factor.  Dave Tippett and Mike Babcock are two of the best coaches around.  Experience edge goes to eventual series winner… Red Wings in 7.

San Jose were the league’s best team during the second-half of the season.  Antti Niemi regained his 2010 playoff form and finds himself now behind another deep and top-end talent rich 2-seed.  Los Angeles will be without top center Anze Kopitar.  While Kopitar didn’t do much in the Kings’ opening-round loss to Vancouver last year, his absence is a stinger.  The season-series between these two teams did split 3-3, but the Sharks needed a shootout to win two of those games.  Jonathan Quick and Antti Niemi will wage an epic battle, so the games will be tight.  Which is where Kopitar’s loss looms bigger at a position the team isn’t strong at.  San Jose has two lines that can score every night and a third that will pitch in too.  The Kings secondary scoring line is now its first and thus draws the top checking assignment.  If LA is to win this series, they’ll have to do so with a string of 2-1, 1-0 type victories.  They can pull it off once or twice, but the Sharks are too explosive to shut down four over seven…. Sharks in 5.

(1) Washington Capitals over (8) New York Rangers – 7 games

(2) Philadelphia Flyers over (7) Buffalo Sabres – 6 games

(3) Boston Bruins over (6) Montreal Canadiens – 5 games

(5) Tampa Bay Lightning over (4) Pittsburgh Penguins – 6 games

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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TTMI~Radio, e.77, Everything Gone Wrong

The title isn’t probably what you’d think.

On this week’s show we review the Blackhawks 6-3 possible statement win over the visiting San Jose Sharks on Monday night.  As well as the three-game losing streak, which we did predict on last week’s show, leading up to Monday night’s win.

Also on this week’s show:

-Kudos to Joel Quenneville’s recent handling of the goaltending position and why
-Change in Quenneville’s philosophy
-Stan Bowman acknowledges team fortunate
-Potential playoff matchups and which favor the Hawks
-Why a series with Vancouver may not favor Chicago
-Toews for MVP
-Ridiculous reasoning for ruling out other Hart candidates
-A GM doing his job
-This site celebrates a 5th year
-Updates on Dave Bolland and Brian Campbell injuries
-Florida game
-Playing Crawford every night
-More on Campoli acquisition and his value
-Trouble if Bolland’s out
-Handicapping the week ahead
-Convincing Marcus Kruger & Alexander Salak to move to N.A.
-No success explaining new standings tie-breaker method
-Superstar hits the road, and the water
-Someone visits temporary sobriety
-Hossa & Kane get their Awesome on

We didn’t get to everything, but that’s nothing new.  The title of this show is a reference to the last two years of this web site.  Thanks to everyone as always for visiting and listening.  And for your incredible patience with us.  The show returns next Tuesday night, March 22nd @ 8pm central with Dieter Kurtenbach joining me as guest-host.

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ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Nov 29th edition of TheThirdManIn~Radio

On this week’s show, we discuss the Blackhawks 4-2-0 road trip; back-to-back victories this past weekend in Anaheim and LA; the mis-guided John Scott fight; Rockford’s mysterious ways; listener emails on Crawford, Byfuglien and Pat Burns; the ESPN power poll and Blackhawks word association.

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Our show returns next Monday night, December 6th, Live @ 8pm central

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Doug Wilson, Sharks Swoop in on Hjalmarsson

Today, one of the Chicago Blackhawks all-time great defenseman, and current San Jose Sharks general manager, Doug Wilson offered restricted free agent blue liner Niklas Hjalmarsson a 4-year, $14 million dollar offer sheet.  The Blackhawks defenseman signed and accepted.

What happens now is the Blackhawks have a week to match this offer of 4 years at an average cap hit of $3.5M a season.

This is a no-brainer for Stan Bowman and his superiors.  The Hawks must match.  Should they not, the return is a San Jose 1st round draft pick as well as a third.

The trouble with that is this situation is completely different than the one the Boston Bruins benefited from last fall when they dealt Phil Kessel (who Bruins teammates felt was addition by subtraction) to the Maple Leafs and found themselves with the #2 overall pick and Tyler Seguin on 2010 Draft Day.

With Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle it’s highly unlikely the Sharks next 1st rounder winds up in the Draft Lottery.  Any return on the Sharks next draft pick would likely be 2 to 3 years away from competing in the NHL.

A cap hit of $3.5M a year is a hard pill to swallow and could possibly result in a sign (match San Jose’s offer sheet) and trade or the end of Antti Niemi.  Another option would be putting Dave Bolland or Patrick Sharp on the trade market.  The Hawks were hoping to lock Hjalmarsson down at around $2M a season, or no more than $2.5.

One thing to consider when figuring the Hawks off season spending option is their ability to spend and carry up to 10% over the salary cap ($5.94M over the $59.4M upper limit).

While most everyone anticipates the Blackhawks will hide Cristobal Huet’s $5.6M cap hit (two more seasons) in Rockford this fall should they not find a willing taker in a European league, they cannot assign that contract to their AHL affiliate until October.  So, if Rockford winds up as Huet’s only option, this could prevent the Hawks from signer a key player before the first week of October.

There are limited options currently should Hjalmarsson wind up in San Jose.  Kim Johnsson (UFA) would be a good fit at a greatly reduced rate (more like $2M for a year or two), but his impending retirement won’t allow this.

Losing Hjalmarsson is probably not an option if you’re standing in Stan Bowman’s shoes.  The organization clearly made their long-term commitment to Duncan Keith this past off season.  Brian Campbell’s entering the third year of an 8-year $57M contract and he’s going to be tough to move at any point, but certainly before year five or six of that deal.  With Shawn Lalonde and Nick Leddy in the pipeline, Campbell’s successor is already on board.

This offer sheet may have the biggest implication on Brent Seabrook’s future.  Dylan Olsen, on display at this weekend’s prospect camp, is a good bet to takeover for Seabrook in 2011-12 if Seabrook’s financial demands are too much for the Blackhawks to bear in the end.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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