NHL 2015 Playoffs – The Final Four

The 2015 NHL Playoffs are down to 4 teams now, NY Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning.

I did not watch the first game of either series this week but I watched game 7 Washington at Rangers.  It was an incredible game.  I was on a high for a full day after watching that game.  I thought the Capitals were the better team in the game but Lundqvist, along with Carey Price, are the best goaltenders in the world right now.  Just watching the athletes leave it all out there, every play important, was amazing.  Derek Stepan is a fantastic center for New York.  I followed the Rangers very closely all season as I was a bit of an admirer of Rangers coach Alain Vigneault when he was in Vancouver.  He maintains his composure very well most of the time and acts respectfully in dealing with others.

I think it will be a Tampa Bay vs Anaheim final with the Ducks winning.  The Rangers are ahead one game in the series and I did not watch game 1 but the Rangers have won 4 straight and odds are, they will falter here soon (more so I thought they were fortunate to get past Washington).

The Ducks have been on a mission since the playoffs started.  They expect to win every game and play like each game is just a small step in their overall goal.  Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler are leading the way.  They’ve played a determined, focused style since the playoffs started and, when the games get tight, they are at their best.  Perry is one the top 3 players in the world in my opinion.  There is not anything he won’t do to get a win and Kesler is similar.

Other NHL News and Notes

Seems Todd McLellan will be the next Oilers coach.  Feel bad for Todd Nelson as I thought he did a good job in the half season he was in charge.  Oilers have a terrible track record of treating coaches badly.  McLellan is a determined, hard working what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person.  Sort of like Jets coach Paul Maurice.  They are not arrogant people.  The Oilers have the cupboard stocked in terms of offense – it’s the defensive side where they are a freaking disaster.  Ben Scrivens can’t be your #1 next year.  I hear LA Kings back-up Martin Jones’ name mentioned as possibly ending up in Edmonton but I don’t think Jones is what the Oil need either.  They need a Luongo type – someone that’s NHL proven as a #1 or on the cusp of being a NHL #1.  Not sure who is available.  James Reimer in Toronto, his name is tossed around a lot but he’s not a #1.  Not sure who the Oilers can get.  Defenseman Oscar Klefbom impressed a lot of people around the NHL last year but the Oil need a couple proven NHL d men.

Heard the Leafs will sign a head coach before a GM which is backwards in my opinion.  Leafs brass were over in Prague at the World Hockey Championships and made UFA coach Mike Babcock an offer.  Buffalo and San Jose are also interested in Babcock.

In Leafs GM search, I heard the short list includes former Capital GM, George McPhee, Tampa Assistant GM Julian BriseBrois, Nashville assistant GM, Paul Fenton and another name I can’t recall; someone from the LA organization.  I called Julien BriseBrois as the hire when Nonis was fired as he is of the Kyle Dubas mold.  Young and forward / out the box thinker. I question these young up and comers that Shanahan favors as they are very short on NHL experience.  BriseBrois has been a management superstar for a while and is, I believe, a lawyer and MBA and about 35 years old.  George McPhee is an interesting name.  Spent 20 years as GM in Washington after being Brian Burke’s right hand man in Vancouver for a few years.  Not sure how it will play out but Shanahan, Dubas and BriseBrois, combined, bring about 1-2 years of NHL management experience.  I mean as a GM or higher.  Personally, I favor a bit of experience esp when you already have a 30 yo Kyle Dubas.

Starting to wonder if in fact Mke Babock will end up back in MoTown.  Not real crazy about Babcock, having an offer from the Red Wings to be the NHL’s highest paid coach, is playing this out in the media.  I just think how Wings owner Mike Illitch and Ken Holland feel.  You’ve employed this guy for 6 or so years and now offer him the highest salary of any coach and he’s out looking for better.  It’s his own business and, like a player, UFA is a time to explore your worth but why go on camera to discuss each step.  I’d rather he ponder in private and announce when he’s made a decision.

Free Agency July 1, 2015

Justin Williams in LA and Curtis Glencross are two names I am interested in as to what happens on July 1.  Williams is open about the fact he wants the money as this will be possibly the last chance in his life to get millions in a contract.  Glencross’ stock has dropped like a rock.  He’s still a good player but I would not be surprised if he ends up signing a short, such a 1 year, deal somewhere and go year to year contract-wise.  He needs a situation where he’d be in the top 2 lines and he won’t be that in Washington.

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