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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dino Ciccarelli Elected to Hall of Fame

Congratulations are in order for Dino Ciccarelli who was just elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame [THN, HHOF Story, HHOF Profile).  It took a while after his retirement in 1999 to get elected, but his 19-season, 1,232 game NHL career always kept him in the discussion.  He scored 608 goals and 1,200 points along with 73 goals and 118 points in 141 playoff games.  He also appeared in 4 All-Star games and 2 Stanley Cup Finals and posted two 50-goal, 100-point seasons plus another 5 seasons of 40 goals, 4 of 30 goals, and 3 of 20.

He joins former Capitals Rod Langway, Mike Gartner, Scott Stevens, and Larry Murphy in the Hall of Fame.  Ironically, the Capitals traded Gartner and Murphy to Minnesota for Ciccarelli and Bob Rouse on March 7, 1989.  Dino's career with Washington ended after he was traded to Detroit on June 20, 1992, for Kevin Miller (brother of former Caps Kelly and Kip) in a move that was a massive win for the Red Wings.

Why Alexander Semin Needs a Center

Alexander Semin (Александр Валерьевич Сёмин, Pronounced "Syomin") is a remarkably talented hockey player.  He has a skill set to rival anyone's in hockey right now.  He has amazing puck control, slick passing ability, and a shot that most goalies don't see until it's too late.  Some people may question his desire and discipline, but that does not change his impact on hockey games:  he can blow a game open at any moment.  This forces opposing coaches to pay attention to him and draw some of the defensive pressure away from top-line winger Alex Ovechkin.

#28 Alexander Semin

Semin's greatest asset is his ability to create goals without a nice set-up pass.  He scores a large number of his goals this way, much the way Ovechkin did his first couple years in the league.

Semin Hat Trick

This begs the question:  if Semin is so good, why couldn't he score in the playoffs?  While Semin definitely had a few chances he should have buried among his first-round leading 44 shots, I would argue Semin did not have a playmaking center who could get him the puck in space to make a play.  My argument is if Semin had a regular center capable of producing at least 20 goals and 40 assists per year, Semin would be a 50 goal and 100 point per season player.  To make this argument, I examine Semin against his teammates and against a relevant example in the NHL.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NHL Awards

The NHL presented their annual awards last night in Las Vegas.  The full voting results are here.  At the end of the regular season, I made my predictions for the award finalists and winners.  Let's see how I did. 

The Vezina Trophy is an annual award given to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs.

Predicted order of finish:
1. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
2. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
3. Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix Coyotes

And the winner is:

Friday, June 4, 2010

What To Expect From Marcus Johansson

On paper, Marcus Johansson doesn't stand out in any particular way.  The Washington Capitals prospect nicknamed "Mackan" in Sweden is not the biggest player at 5'11 and 190 pounds and he doesn't have flashy numbers.  Even scouts who see him play will say that he doesn't have any particular facet of his game that stands out [Hockey's Future, NHL Draft Scouting Report, Scouting Report, Draft Story]. 

Marcus Johansson on draft day 

Rather, it is his all-around game that is his strength.  A left-shooting forward, he can play center and left-winger equally well.  He is a smart, fast player adept at both offense and defense and he usually comes away with the puck in the corners.  He likes to play with the puck and can usually find the open man with a pass, but he also has a nice shot selection he needs to use more often.  He has good stickhandling skills and good hand-eye coordination, skills that serve him well when he often plays in the heavy traffic areas.  He can be physical but doesn't usually seek contact, which is not surprising considering his 3 concussions, though there have been exceptions:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Anton Volchenkov: Future Capital?

Unrestricted free agent (UFA) hunting season begins July 1.  The Washington Capitals do not have tons of holes to plug that they can't fill from within.  They could stand to upgrade in a couple of important positions, most notably the #2 center position and some would argue the team needs the ever-elusive "shut-down" defenseman, also called a "minute-muncher" or a "crease-clearer."  The #2 center vacancy is real, but how real is the need for another defenseman?  I would argue the Capitals do not need another big-time defenseman and the real vacancy is at the #6 defenseman spot.