Week 25 and Challenge Cup Final Get Underway

FYI, when entering the line-ups for the week I saw that I had only played 1 of the Vendetta's two TGs last week. I have corrected that so their total for last week is .5pts higher. This does not change the total for this week or impact the Challenge Cup Final which is now underway.


Jets may still be pipedream...

From Darren Dreger's blog;

"By changing the structure of the sale, Matt Hulsizer has improved his chances of closing the deal to buy the Phoenix Coyotes. Hulsizer confirmed in an interview during the Blackhawks-Coyotes game on Sunday night that he is willing to guarantee $75 million of the $100 million payment from the city of Glendale to all but eliminate future risk tax payers in Glendale may face.

The NHL had hoped to have the sale complete long before now, and sources say commissioner Gary Bettman expected a resolution last week, meaning the bonds which represent the backbone of this agreement would either sell, or the deal would fall apart.

However, the league, Hulsizer and Glendale have kept negotiations alive and according to source, Hulsizer's guarantee is just one of several efforts being made to get a deal done. "

The lesson here is never, ever, ever, never, ever count Gary Bettman out. If there is a way to save the Coyotes, he will.

Week 25 Line-up - Game One of Challenge Cup Final Between Scourge and Personal Vendetta

Week Ends With Scourge Extending Lead To 31 pts


Week 24 Stats as of Wednesday Night's Games

Sorry for the delay in getting these out earlier (very busy week coupled with the ravages of old age - thanks for all the Birthday wishes BTW, very much appreciated).
Challenge Cup Final starts next week


News and Notes

- Its Doug's B-day, send him your best wishes!

- At any given time, 1 out of 7 hockey players is out with an injury. Pleasing the injury gods has never been more important.

- Speaking of injury gods, they loathed the severed heads center position this year. Malkin (3x), Roy (for the season), Getzlaf, Gagner (for the season), and Gomez were all out with something at various stages of the season, and often overlapping segments.

- Steven Stamkos is going to have to get on his horse and score if the NHL is going to have a 50 goal scorer this year.

- By far the most interesting trade in the NHL this season was Erik Johnson and a 1st to St Louis for Stewart, Shattenkirk and a 2nd. The three players involved are all good young building blocks, and in EJ's case, a former 1st overall. Since the trade, Johnson has been playing much, much better in an expanded offensive role for Colorado, while Stewart has been plowing through checks and scoring Cam Neely type goals for St Louis. IMO it all depends on how that 1st rnd pick turns out vs Kevin Shattenkirk. Right now I'm calling it a small win for St Louis (EJ could still turn out to be a total beast), because burly goal scorers like Stewart are slightly harder to come by than minute munching #1 D-men.

- I'm now on board the Pavel Datsyuk for MVP train. The guy is simply unbelievable at both ends of the ice in a way we haven't seen since a young Sergei Fedorov. Only Toews is in his class as a two-way forward.

- That said, he's not my vote for Selke - that would go to Ryan Kesler.

- One of the oddities of our season has been the (relative) reluctance of top performing teams to part with prospects at the trade deadline. Typically someone will attempt to parlay most if not all of their future assets into a last minute push to the finish line. The Scourge did part with Fowler, but otherwise held fast to Eberle and Skinner - two players who could command serious buy out prices. The Bladerunners offered up some 2nd tier prospects, but were unwilling to move pieces like Couturier, Subban, or their own 1st.

(That the PV didn't make any moves involving prospects/picsk shouldn't be a surprise)

Remains to be seen how this will all shake out, but I'll be very curious if Brian doesn't feel he might have shorted his team of a cup if he should fall just short of victory. And what about the package he might have gotten for an RFA Stamkos? Would that have been worth it for Cup #4?

- Probably not a secret that I am pulling for Chris over Brian and Darrell. Not so much that I wouldn't trade with the latter two mind you, but I'd prefer nobody else get to 4 cups before I do, and a Scourge win would be a very bright spot for what has been one of the tougher luck franchises.

- With all the injuries to Severed Heads players this year, a late season push for the Omnivore is in the cards. That said, Chris has a big, big lead to carve into.

- What the hell is going on with Ovechkin? He's about 30 goals off his normal totals! My suspicions are some combination of the following:

- He's saving himself for the postseason
- The coach has the team playing defense first as a way of preparing for the playoffs
- Nik Backstrom has taken a step backwards/been injured
- Mike Green was missed more than they thought
- He's decided to play a 'complete' game.

Whatever the reason, he went from being a marginal favourite over Crosby as best player in the multiverse, to being out of the top 10 in scoring and a long shot to hit for 40 goals.

- Speaking of what the hell...what the hell is going on in San Jose? All of the big three (Thornton, Heatley and Marleau) have taken huge hits to their offensive numbers while all of the secondary characters (Clowe, Setoguchi, Couture) have seen big jumps. That kind of redistribution of points smacks of coaching decisions, most especially line combos and powerplay. And kudos to the Sharks big three that we haven't heard a peep from any of them in complaint.

- If Tim Thomas wins the MVP I will just about puke. Never has an argument for a defenseman being a Norris trophy candidate been more clear from a goaltenders numbers than how Zdeno Chara's case is made by Tim 'career backup' Thomas.

- Speaking of the Norris, is this going to be Lidstrom's swan song?

- Here's an interesting conundrum if you are anyone other than the Great Whites; you have two FPs, Staal and Green who are young and entering their prime. After a couple of down seasons Staal is once again a top 5 center, while the newly minted Green has had a horror show of injuries to all but wipe out his first FP season. The first guy is inconsistent, but for now is elite. The second guy was consistent till this year, but for now isn't elite. Which one do you move to make room for Carey Price as your new FP? The numbers say Staal will give you best return - but so far, crickets chirping.

- A similar problem for the Severed Heads but with an easier solution; they have former Art Ross winner Malkin on IR (for the second year in a row), former Richard winner Heatley barely cresting the 20 goal mark, and an RFA Patrick Kane all prepped to move into an FP role. Given the age difference Heatley is the obvious guy to move out, but is anyone else interested in him as an FP? If GMs aren't interested in taking on Erik Staal when he is in the top 10 in scoring, its twice as unlikely they will be into Heatley during an offensive off year.

- One player whose career is obviously a step closer to being finished is Chris Pronger. He just isn't able to play a full season anymore. Heck, he can't play a full month without something breaking down or falling off.

If I were the supreme commander of the NHL:

- Head checking would be an automatic misconduct and 5 game suspension.
- Ditto sticks to the head
- Ditto boarding
- Ditto checks into the turnbuckle/open bench door
- All penalties double should the victim miss games due to injury.

- Slim goaltender equipment to late 80 norms.
- Let goaltenders play the puck
- Goaltenders who play the puck outside of their trapezoid are fare game to be checked like everyone else. If you are going to act like a defenseman you can man-up and take a hit like one.

-Players who drop to one knee or otherwise leave their feet to lie on the ice to block shots will be assessed a 2 minute minor. If God had wanted all hockey players to lie in front of slapshots he would have made everyone goaltenders.

- Any pundit, commenter, former player or league official who complains that players don't have respect for the game like they used to will be forced to watch Mark Messier perform open mouth surgery on Rich Sutter, followed by a highlight reel of Messier elbows to unsuspecting players heads (Macoun, nameless Russians), a collection of Gary Suter's greatest checks from behind (Gretzky) and cross-checks to skill players heads (Modano, Kariya), before the offending commentator is then taken down to the ice where they will receive their very own 'Al Maki special'.

- Phoenix goes to Winnipeg, Atlanta goes to Quebec City. The only people who don't want this to happen are the aged, idiotic and infirm.

- Upon getting a team, Quebec City should pick a new team nickname - for two reasons; one, the Nordiques became the Av's, and last I checked the Av's are still in Colorado, and 2., Nordiques as a name just confuses American announcers and fans - and they are plenty confused enough already. That said, Nordiques is probably how it would go.

- With Phoenix moving back to Winnipeg the team MUST resume the name 'Jets'. No debate, no screwing around, its the Jets. Period.

- Speaking of the Coyotes becoming the Jets, the Goldwater Institute has launched its lawsuit against the Hulsizer deal.

The outcome of the Goldwater institute's suit isn't as important as the timing. The NHL isn't going to wait months for a suit to wind its way through court in a protracted public agonython.
Meanwhile Winnipeg has an arena that is adequate (barely) and one of the deepest pocketed owners in the world ready to make a go of it.

There are three possible outcomes to the bond issue; the GI institute wins and the Jets come back, the City of Glendale wins and the Coyotes stay, the NHL deadline for having an owner passes, and they announce that they can't wait anymore and the Jets come back. So as it stands, only a quick and successful trial will do to keep the Coyotes howling now.


Week 24 Line-ups

Scourge-Vendetta To Meet In Challenge Cup Final As Scourge Extend Predator Cup Lead

The Scourge lead in the Predator Cup is now 27pts after a dominating 54pt week gaining 20pts on the Vendetta and 24 on the Bladerunners. The only teams that even kept the Scourge in sight this week are the 5th place Severed Heads and their 42pt week and the Shadowmen and their 45pt week.
The Shadowmen's loss in the Challenge Cup match against the Scourge may also be a portent of that trophy's fate. The Shadow were swept in their two games (as were the Bladerunners at the hands of the Scourge's Challenge Cup Final opponent, the Vendetta) but in both games posted totals that would have won them their games against both other Challenge Cup Playoff Teams. With the Scourge holding an almost 30 pt lead in the Omnivore is Chris looking at winning not only his first FunHL trophy but the whole Triple Crown?
The Challenge Cup final starts next Monday.