Archive for the ‘2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs’ Category

Here's Bergeron, clearly not suffering at all.

Here’s Bergeron clearly not suffering at all.

Teams are always cagey about injuries during the playoffs, but Boston took it to entirely new heights this year when they revealed that Patrice Bergeron had a body injury. Not upper body, not lower body, just body. The injury turned out to be multiple upper body injuries (a broken rib, torn cartilage, a separated shoulder, and a pneumothorax) none of which could be considered minimal by any standards, and none of which prevented him from finishing the series.

Cartilage! Ribs!

The fun started in game four when Bergeron tore cartilage in his chest on a check from Michael Frolik. He then left game five in the second period, due to what was later revealed was a broken rib and concerns for a spleen inury. The cartilage in your chest has an important job, namely holding your ribs onto your sternum. The cartilage is highlighted in red below to point out just how heinous the pain is when you tear it. Generally people with costochondral injuries (costo = rib, chondral = pertaining to cartilage) sit very still, breathe very shallowly, and try not to do anything that would move their chest in any way. Try that. It’s impossible. What do you do for the injury? Nothing. Seriously, nothing. You wait it out, you take pain pills, and you suffer.

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The Dino Ciccarelli Award is presented to the best rookie during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It is named in honour of Ciccarelli’s rookie record 14 goals during the 1981 postseason, scored in just 19 games. Candidates are not required to be a total jerk.

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Torey Krug and Brandon Saad were two of the only rookies left standing by the end of the playoffs. (Jim Rogash, Getty Images)

Of the rookies that made played in the 2013 NHL playoffs, none really pulled away from the pack for the Dino Ciccarelli Award. While there were many competent performances from this year’s crop of rookies, none of them set themselves apart the way that Brad Marchand did in 2011 or Ville Leino in 2010.

Emerson Etem led all rookies in points per game, but his Anaheim Ducks lasted just one round, so his 5 points in 7 games lack a larger body of work.  Like Etem, there are a number of other rookies that might have had a larger impact if their teams had played them more or gone further in the playoffs. Casey Cizikas, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Tyler Toffoli might have made an argument for themselves if things had gone differently for Islanders, Senators, and Kings.

By the time the Stanley Cup Final rolled around, there were just two truly impact rookies remaining: one for the Bruins and one for the Blackhawks. But between Torey Krug and Brandon Saad, there can be only one winner of the Dino Ciccarelli Award.

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In the battle between chronic shoulder dislocation and cup final, cup final wins every time.

In the battle between chronic shoulder dislocation and cup final, cup final wins every time.

The first thing that should come to mind when anyone mentions chronic shoulder dislocations is Mel Gibson throwing himself against a wall after escaping from a straitjacket in Lethal Weapon 2. TOTALLY REALISTIC (not really). While Nathan Horton hasn’t escaped from a straitjacket and nobody has seen him launching himself into walls, the Bruins have admitted he has a “chronic shoulder issue.”

Horton’s problems began April 20th when a fight with Jarome Iginla ended with him skating off holding his left arm awkwardly. The fight itself wasn’t much to see – A few punches, and Iginla dumped Horton to the ice. They were holding each other’s jerseys when he went down, which could explain the injury – the weight of one’s body on an outstretched arm is a great way to dislocate a shoulder. It’s also a great way to suffer a shoulder subluxation, a similar injury in which the shoulder comes partway out of the socket, and pops back in. The problem of course is that once you’ve had one injury in which you’ve dislocated (or subluxed) your shoulder, you’re very likely to do it again. The other problem is that nonsurgical management isn’t a great solution for someone who needs a working shoulder and uses it for hockey things like slamming into people and taking shots. The other other problem is if you’re a UFA you probably don’t have time for a six month recovery unless you’ve kicked so much playoff ass that your team can’t help but re-sign you.

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Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Seven

It was over a month ago now, but the memory of the great collapse remains as fresh as ever in the minds of Toronto Maple Leafs fans. The Maple Leafs, of course, famously squandered a three-goal lead versus the Boston Bruins with ten minutes remaining in the third period of Game Seven. To be even more specific, they blew a two goal lead with under a minute and a half remaining in the game.

It was the type of sporting rarity that we’re unlikely to ever see again. The type of thing one doesn’t usually see in his or her lifetime. Hell, it’s the type of thing that may occur once in sixty lifetimes.

You can joke to your heart’s content about how the Leafs were this close to marching to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup since 1967. Leafs fans aren’t laughing.

I took it upon myself to solicit stories from Leafs fans on their experiences from Game Seven. Not even trolling, I swear. I received scores of responses via email, Twitter, and even conducted a couple of old fashioned face-to-face conversations. The responses I received were reflective, sad, bizzarre, incoherent, and sometimes hilarious. Some names have been changed (when requested). Here’s a thorough sampling for your reading pleasure/despair. Read the rest of this entry »

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three

Mention that Jonathan Toews is playing poorly in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and an angry mob of advanced statistics people will march on your home carrying charts and graphs. Mention that Jonathan Toews is playing well in the postseason by pointing toward his Corsi and Fenwick numbers, and old sportswriters will roll their eyes and ask if you pay rent while living in your mom’s basement.

Trying to determine why in the heck a player as good as Toews has one goal in 20 playoff games is about as difficult juggling chainsaws with your feet, only instead of feet, you have stumps smothered in baby oil.

During the regular season, Toews was so good at the sport of hockey that he finished fourth in voting for the Hart Trophy. On the strength of a career-best (pro-rated) 23 goals and 48 points in 47 contests and excellent defensive game that won him the Selke Trophy, the captain of the Chicago Blackhawks also received the third-most first-place votes for the Hart.

The Blackhawks won the Presidents’ Trophy with 131.5 (again, pro-rated, obviously) points, which if you round up ties the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens for the most in a season. Sure, it happened over the course of 48 games so it doesn’t mean as much, but the Blackhawks put forth the NHL’s most dominant season in nearly four decades, and Toews was a major reason the Blackhawks brought hockey back the way Justin Timberlake brought sexy back in that neither brought anything back because it was already there. Read the rest of this entry »

Andrew Shaw ($577,500) punches Brad Marchand ($2,500,000) repeatedly (priceless). - Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Andrew Shaw ($577,500) punches Brad Marchand ($2,500,000) repeatedly (priceless). – Jim Rogash/Getty Images

It seems like NHL fans, media, and even some General Managers were big fans of After School Specials. After all, it’s not enough that a Stanley Cup Final is thrilling, tense, and exciting — we have to learn a lesson as well. Every Stanley Cup Final seems to turn into a teachable moment: forget all the other Finals, this is how you win the Stanley Cup.

In 2010, the lesson apparently was to go with a cheap goaltender so you can use your cap space elsewhere. And yet, in 2011, the two teams that made it to the Final had two of the more expensive goalies in the league. That year, the lesson was that you won through toughness and intimidation (rather than Vezina-calibre goaltending, apparently).

The lesson some got out of Anaheim’s Cup win in 2007 was that fighting and goonery was once again a viable way to win. The next year, the Detroit Red Wings had the fewest fights in the league enroute to winning the Cup.

With all that said, we can clearly learn something from the two teams that made it to the Stanley Cup Final this year. I got to wondering how exactly these two teams spent their money to get to this point? How did they divvy up their salary cap and is there something that can be learned from that?

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2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One

Night one of the Stanley Cup Final did not disappoint, with neither team coming out for so much as a period of “feel the other team out” hockey, instead opting for mutual blitzkriegs that resulted in a dizzying pace. I stayed off the Twitter machine last night (well, comparatively speaking) and took notes on the game so I could hopefully give you a unique takeaway or two. So, without further ado, here are 10 takeaways from last night’s game.


Early Game

1. Bruins lean on the in-zone escape

I’m not sure if they showed this on the NBC broadcast, but before the game CBC took viewers inside the dressing room for a chunk of both team’s pre-game speeches, which I thought was A) insanely cool and B) surprising. Nothing too crazy-informative was said or anything, but given the nature of the pre-game speech – little reminders of stuff you’ve covered in the past – I thought it was cool hearing Joel Quenneville remind his guys not to over-commit on the backcheck, because Boston likes to pull up and use the trailer off the rush. I watched for it, and boy, do they ever.

There was one play in particular (with about 12:30 on the clock in the second period, I believe) right before Horton took a penalty that Krejci had the puck down by the net and hit a trailer who was probably at center before he gave him a slow spot-pass at the blue for him to skate into. Keep an eye out for it, it’s a common safety valve of the B’s.

2. Chicago’s third line

The Blackhawks third line was naaasty good last night. If the Bruins want Zdeno Chara to maul Jonathan Toews and crew, it’s up to Chicago’s depth players to make some noise, and holy hell did they ever. There was a shift early in the game where Tory Krug and Adam McQuaid got straight punked by the line of Andrew Shaw, David Bolland and Brandon Saad (the latter moved around in the lineup a lot last night). But their energy was infectious from start to finish last night, so it wasn’t surprising to see them score the winner.  Read the rest of this entry »