With Hayley off enjoying the
lovely warm not-currently-raining spring weather this long weekend, I took a look around the hockey world for a few items of interest for your holiday Monday. After the jump, the Blackhawks are headed to the Finals, the Flyers look like they're on route as well, and a good man of the hockey-sphere bids adieu to a friend.
Flames, present, future and (maybe) former:
Mikael Backlund concluded what must seem like a a very long year with a bronze medal in this year's World Championship. The Swedes defeated the host Germans 3-1 yesterday, with the Flame youngster finishing the afternoon +1. In the final, an underdog Czech squad upended a loaded Russian squad 2-1 to claim the title for this year. I'll have to confess that the wide-spread opinion that would prefer to eliminate this competition in an Olympic year resonates with me, because this year's event seemed a bit pale. Bruce Peter has an excellent overview of all matters international, including how this year's results will shake up the World Rankings over at PuckWorlds.
Greg Nemisz concluded a very successful junior career last night in Brandon after his Windsor Spitfires overwhelmed the host Wheat Kings enroute to winning consecutive Memorial Cups. The Flames' 2008 first rounder tallied 1 G, 1 A and completed his evening's endeavors with a shiny +4. His next stop is very likely the AHL, and based on what I've seen of his play over the last couple of seasons, working on his skating and spending some time in the weight room filling out his frame should be this summer's agenda.
Via Wysh, I saw that Craig Conroy had a chat with an upstate New York paper. Amongst a few topics, the voluble senior Flame discussed his potential future in Calgary, noting that he might have to play for a pretty small salary if he wants to continue his career. If he played in a fourth-line role, he could likely still be a useful guy to have around, even if his hands have mostly left him. Absent a playing role, I certainly wouldn't object to keeping him around the organization in some other manner, either as an employee or broadcaster.
Meanwhile, in the playoffs...
The Blackhawks dusted off San Jose in four straight, with Dustin Byfuglien once again administering the fateful blow. The series was contested on much more even terms than a sweep would indicate, of course, but the Hawks were just continuing what has been a season-long trend when they have Antti Niemi in net. I had a look at how they fared at EV when the game was tied, and beyond the normal excellent possession stats that one might expect from the Hawks (57.4% of Corsi events), they had some fortune as well. Their team PDO at EV/score tied with Niemi was 104.6 this season, including shooting 10.7%. As a fan of another team, I guess my question would be, "The bastards are already good. Do they have to be lucky too?" In fact, I'd expect that the Sharks are dealing with those emotions right now.
On the other side of the league, the Habs are facing the axe when they play in Philadelphia this evening. It's been a bit of a strange series for Montreal, as they've had a good bit of the play against the Flyers with limited results. Reversal of fortune and all that, I guess. Maybe they could try a bit more sand in the gears next time?
...and a few other things...
In Elliotte Friedman's weekly review, he suggests that the possibility exists that Stephen Weiss might be surplus to requirements in Florida. If that's actually true, he's the sort of solid player that I'd like Calgary to acquire. Whether they have the needed assets in place is, as always these days, an open question, but Weiss can play against top-six comp and do a job. He's not far off in terms of performance from where Daymond Langkow was around the time Phoenix decided to send him Calgary's way, in fact.
Gabe Desjardins has been doing terrific work over at Behind the Net as of late, and this morning's look at what factors affect shooting percentages is well worth a gander. Ah, blessed variance. What ever would the world be with out you?
Finally, I'd hope that, irrespective of team allegiances, one of your regular stops in the blogosphere is over at BlackDogHatesSkunks. Pat McLean is a terrific writer, offering the sort of hilarious slice-of-life-vignettes that are often the highlight of my day's reading.
Not everything in life is a laughing matter, of course, and this weekend he and his family had to say goodbye to their trusted companion. The farewell post to Ben is here. Condolences to Pat and his family.
That's all for this time around. Hayley should return tomorrow, and in a programming note, I'll have a feature on Ian White later this week. As always, if there's anything that caught your eye, feel free to link it in the comments.