Monday, April 8, 2013

It's not an honor just to be nominated; Pens clinch, and other NHL thoughts

By Finesse

There's a part of you that knows you shouldn't take for granted that the Penguins clinched a playoff spot thanks to Buffalo's shootout win over New Jersey last night.  But then you look at the Pens' roster and realize that clinching a playoff spot for this team probably shouldn't even need to be mentioned, let alone celebrated.  Sure, we can be proud that the Pens aren't the Pirates, but if the Pirates had Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, the chubby guy on the Tigers, Steven Strasburg, and a bunch of other good pitchers whose names I don't know, then they could take the playoffs for granted, too.  Having lived through through the leaner years at the beginning of the century doesn't turn making the playoffs into an achievement in itself.  It just makes you appreciate that Dick Tarnstrom isn't the Pens' best player anymore.

- Speaking of the playoffs, break up the Caps!  Ever since we pointed out that Ovechkin's statistics had declined in his late 20s much more significantly than those of other all-time greats, he's arguably been the best player in the league and ... wait for it ... should start getting some legitimate MVP buzz.  He won't -- and shouldn't -- win, mainly because of how terrible the Southeast division is.  Unless the Caps end up with a point total that is more in line with other division leaders, it's too easy to point to that dog-crap division as the reason why they're in the playoffs.

Our post still stands, both as mathematically valid at the time and for recognizing that he was far from washed up.  Good for him for getting it together over the past month, but it raises the obvious question: what the hell happened the past two years?

"I have a theory on that..."
- The biggest surprise in the East has to be the dramatic decline of the Carolina Hurricanes.  When we did mid-season projections a month ago, Carolina looked like a lurking sleeper.  But since beating  the Caps 4-0 on March 12, they are 1-10-1 and have been outscored 46 to 18.  And they have to be disappointed in Jordan Staal, who has only 22 points in 37 games and is a -13.  That's a 49 point pace for a guy singed at $6 million/year for the next 10 years.  The good news for the Staal brothers, though, is that now at least two of the brothers can make the family vacation this year.  The one that starts in late April.

- Brandon Sutter, by the way, has 1 goal and 0 assists in his last 12 games. Or if you prefer, 1 point in his last three and a half hours of ice time.

- It's so tempting to stare at the standings and think about how the seeding will shake out.  The most enticing first-round match-up that's getting more likely by the day is Capitals vs. Rangers in the 3 vs. 6 match-up   They've played in 3 of the past 4 playoffs (Caps won in '09 and '11, Rangers won last year), every game is a nailbiter, and John Tortorella threw a water bottle at some dumb Caps fan who was probably trying to impress Chris Cooley.  Round 4 between these two clubs would be too fun.


- Who even knew Margaret Thatcher was still alive?

- Remember how we were supposed to be told a more definitive time table for Crosby's return late last week?  Any time now would fine please thanks.

- Ron Cook says Evgeni Malkin needs to play better.

1 comment:

  1. Ron Cook has a point. Malkin's play seems flat this season, for whatever reason.