Category Archives: Hockey News

Top 10 NHL Goalies

NHL Network featured who they believed are their top 10 goalies currently. Our guys, Connor and Austin list who they think the top 10 goalies are currently in the league.

Connor’s Top 10 NHL Goalies

  • Carey Price – I don’t think Price coming in at number one on my list is going to surprise anybody.  Price has proved year in and year out that he is the best in the league by carrying an average team further than they should go each year.  If it was not for Carey Price the Canadiens would be a bottom team in the Eastern Conference.  Although he may only have a .922 save percentage, the fact that has to be taken in is how much the team in front of him relies on him to carry their them.
  • Braden HoltbyThis past season, Holtby again showed why he is a top three goalie and, in my opinion, an easy choice for the second best goalie in the NHL.  Holtby turned in an impressive .925 save percentage this year.  Now even though Holtby has arguably the best team in the NHL in front of him that does not negate his preformance.  Holtby is one of the reasons his team is so good and seems to make hard saves look effortless in a similar way that Price does.
  • Matt MurrayThis choice to put Murray this high on the list may create some controversy among non-Penguins fans and Fleury fans.  However, with all bias aside including mine, Murray is easily a top 3 goaltender.  Although he is yet to play a full season he has accomplished more at the age of 23 than most goalies ever have.  Even with a team like Pittsburgh in front of him Murray still made a statement these playoffs.  He was leaned on heavily by the Penguins during some games in the regular season and during the playoffs.  He turns in an impressive .923 save percentage and like Price and Holtby, he makes most saves seem effortless due to his size and positioning.
  • Sergei BobrovskyIt may come as a shock to most people that the Vezina winning goaltender of the 2016-2017 season is placed in the fourth spot.  Bobrovsky turned in the best save percentage with a .932 this past year.  But stats are not everything. Bobrovsky’s play was very inconsistent and so was his teams.  When the team in front of him played well, so did he and vice versa.  And the thing that usually separates the top three goalies from the rest is consistency.  Because most goalies in the NHL look just as good as each other when they play at their best, but the best goalies can play at their best consistently.
  • Henrik LundqvistAt number five I placed Lundqvist, a wylie veteran who recently proved he can still compete with the best of them.  Early in the year Lundqvist struggled mightily and lost the starter job.  He eventually got it back and played the end of the year like he was out of his mind…in a good way.  He seemed to go back to vintage 2012 Lundqvist and backstop his team to the second round, where they ended up losing to the Senators boring, yet efficient, trap game. Lundqvist may be on his way out in the near future, but he is proving that he can still compete with the best of them.
  • Pekka Rinne At number six, I put the Finnish wonder Pekka Rinne, and yes I did say wonder.  When Pekka Rinne is on his game he is virtually a brick wall, but the thing that puts him at number six is his wildly inconsistent play.  Rinne has proved that he has trouble playing in away arenas in big games this past year as he also proved last year against the Sharks.  A factor that almost counteracts his negative of inconsistency is his ability to handle the puck with the best of them.  Rinne is similar to Martin Brodeur to where he is basically a third defenseman for his team and can play the puck with a ease and a level headedness.
  • John GibsonPlacing John Gibson at number seven on the list may surprise many people.  Gibson plays a very acrobatic and flashy style, which is almost obsolete in today’s game with the exception of Jonathan Quick. Gibson turned in a top 5 save percentage with a .924, however he did have one of the better D-cores in the league in front of him.  That being said, Gibson is a huge reason why the Ducks made it so far in the playoffs.  He came up huge when they needed him, and when he unfortunately got hurt it was clear that he was a key piece for their team.  It won’t be long until he cracks the top five for this list in the coming years.
  • Devan DubnykAt number eight I placed Devan Dubnyk of the Wild.  Dubnyk plays a somewhat calm game and turned in a .924 save percentage this year.  Dubnyk has one of the better D-cores in front of him as well, but when they needed him to step up he fell short in the playoffs.  Here we see the factor of consistency affecting a goalie’s rating on this list.
  • Cam Talbot Coming in at number nine we have Cam Talbot, who had a breakout year with the Oilers.  This year Talbot really solidified himself as one of the better goalies in the league.  Talbot turned in a .919 save percentage and backstopped the Oilers to the second round where John Gibson and the Ducks knocked them out of the playoffs.  Talbot’s statement was only enough to land him the ninth spot however due to the fact of some inconsistency as well as him showing characteristics of something known as the avalanche effect.  For goalies this is where when one goal goes in, others tend to follow suit and quite quickly.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury – Coming in at number ten, I have the new face of the Las Vegas Golden Knights.  Fleury, better known as “Flower”, had an interesting year.  He was going to start the year as a backup, but when Murray got injured Fleury stepped in as the starter.  However, when Murray came back he quickly regained the starter role and showed that he is an elite goalie on the rise.  As this happened Fleury struggled quite a bit, his save percentage was even below .900 at one point.  However when Murray went down with another injury at the start of the playoffs Fleury took the reigns and was a key part of the Penguins cup run.  Some people may be puzzled as to why Fleury is even on this list, and some may be puzzled at why he isn’t higher, and the answer is quite simple.  Fleury has something in common with a lot of the other goalies on the tail end of this list.  He is inconsistent, but not in the way that you may think.  When Fleury is the clear choice as the starter for a team he plays at his best, but when there is competition his game tends to take a hit as we have seen.
  • Honorable Mention

 Jonathan Quick- Some people may wonder why Quick was left off of this list and for good reason.  Quick suffered a major injury this year and missed a good part of the season, when he came back to play he jumped right back into his flashy style.  But this did not translate to much success for him at all.  He had an adequate .917 save percentage this year.  But in the larger picture Quick has not put up a save percentage over .920 since 2012-2013 when he has his best season of his career.  Quick has been given the benefit of the doubt by most analysts in a similar way that Lundqvist was where they keep saying he will return to his form.  Lundqvist has done that, Quick has not.  Quick is slowly on his way out of the conversation for the best goalies in the league and it does not seem like it will turn around anytime soon.

Austin’s Top 10 NHL Goalies

  • Carey Price– I highly doubt that anyone in the hockey community would argue this one. Recently signing an 8 year extension worth $84 million, I believe Price is worth every penny. In 2015 Price took home a number of awards, including the leagues MVP. Posting a .923 SV% last season, Price is the the back bone of the Montreal Canadians.

 

  • Matt Murray- Putting Murray so high on this list may cause some controversy, but how can you argue with back to back Stanley Cups in his first two years as a NHL pro? Yes, Murray’s career is very short lived, but with a 41-12-5 career record it’s hard not to put him so high on the list. Murray brings a very calm element to his game, very similar to Carey Price where he does not panic and gives his team a chance to win every game he plays. The kid is 23 with 2 Stanley Cups! I am very excited to see Murray as a full time starter this coming season, and have full confidence he will lead the Pens to yet another deep playoff run. (I truly believe that 2-4 can be interchangeable on this list)

 

  • Braden Holtby- Holtby cracks my top 3 for top goalies in the league. The argument could be made that he is playing in front of the best team in the league, and yes this may be true, but look at the pure amount of shots Holtby sees. Ever since becoming a full time starter in 2013 he has been steady on the back end for the Caps. Not to mention he has a Vezina to add to his resume.

 

  • Sergei Bobrovsky- Boy, do the Flyers wish they still had this guy, eh? Bobs posted insane numbers last season with a .931 SV% and a 2.06 GAA on a Columbus team that took the hockey world by storm. Winning 16 games in a row this year, Bobs was a huge peace to that amazing streak. CBJ finished 3rd in the Metro with a whopping 108 points, but fell short in the playoffs to eventual the champions, Pittsburgh Penguins. Bobrovsky also has two Vezina’s to his name and honestly could add more in years to come.

 

  • Pekka Rinne- Rinne lead his team to the Stanley Cup Finals this past season with a .930 SV% and a 1.96 GAA during their run. (not to mention 3 assists) Rinne has been consistent for Nashville over the years, and is just now starting to get the credit that I truly think he deserves. His puck handling skills are some of the best in the league, and his ability to make huge saves when needed make him an elite goalie. Rinne has been a Vezina finalist 3 times in his career, but has never won the trophy. I expect Rinne to start the season on a high horse, very similar to his playoff run last season.

 

  • Jonathan Quick- Some may think that Quick has fallen off a bit since LA’s last Cup in 2013-14, but I would disagree. Recently, his career has been plagued with injuries , but when healthy Quick is among the best. Only playing 17 games this past season, it is hard to judge his play with such limited time spent, but bringing in a Ben Bishop at the end of the season may of fueled the fire for Quick, and I expect him to be back on top of the league next season.

 

  • Cam Talbot- Talbot came on the NHL radar during the 2014-15 season when he stepped in for Lundvqist during his injury. The following season he became a full time NHL starter for the Edmonton Oilers, and this past season has taken his game to another level. Talbot finished the season tied with Holtby for most wins with 42. As an Oilers fan, I’ve seen time and time again Talbot steal wins for the Oilers. Posting a .919% SV% and a 2.39 GAA is not to shabby for the 30 year old tendy.

 

  • Henrik Lundqvist-  The King comes in at number eight on my list. Lundvqist has posted 30+ wins in every NHL season he has been healthy. Many can argue that the King has it easy in New York, playing in front of one of the best defense core in recent NHL memory. the main reason why I have Lundqvist at eight and not higher is because he has yet to take that next step in his career. Yes, he has a Vezina, but he has yet to win the trophy that everyone cares about.

 

  • Devan Dubnyk- Ever since being traded to the Wild in 2014, Dubnyk has turned his career completely around. The 1st round, 14th overall pick of the 2004 draft was one more bad season away from being run out of the NHL. In the 3 years spent in Minnesota he has had a .936, .918, .923 SV% years. Those numbers are among the best in the league and he’s even been in Vezina talk in recent years. Needless to say Dubnyk has completely revamped his career and is proving to be the goalie the Wild needed.

 

  • Cory Schneider- Schneider rounds out my top 10 list. He some what goes under the radar playing in NJ with no real superstars, or playoff success in recent years. But Schneider has played consistently well since being traded from Vancouver in 2013. His save percentage has been above .920 in every year since 2011, except this past season. (.908) NJ had a bad season this year but that is not to blame Schneider, he goes unrecognized around the NHL, but has been solid for regressing NJ team.

 

  • Honorable Mention -Martin Jones- Jones led the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015-16 , and was a key factor to their success. Posting a .925% that playoff run is a positive for San Jose moving forward to a new era in SoCal.  Jones recently signed a 6 year extension with a cap hit of $5.75 per year. Sharks fans, you have your goalie for the future.

Vegas Expansion Team Predictions 

We are coming down to the wire when it comes to the Vegas Golden Knights selecting their team. All of the protection lists have been submitted. Now with these submissions I selected the team I would make if I was Vegas. 

Forwards

Bobby Ryan, OTT 

James Neal, NASH 

Dale Weise, PHI 

Brad Richardson, ARI 

Riley Sheahan, DET 

Trevor Lewis, LA 

Devante Smith-Pelly, NJ 

William Karlson, CBJ 

Dimitrij Jaskin, STL

Kerby Rychel, TOR 

Jonathan Marchessault, FLA

William Carrier, BUF 

Jacob De La Rose, MTL 

Reid Boucher, VAN 

Mikail Grigorenko, COL 

Defense

Toby Enstrom, WIN

Sami Vatanen, ANA

Brendan Dillon, SJS 

Matt Dumba, MIN

Klas Dahlbeck, CAR

Trevor Van Reimsdyk, CHI

Calvin De Haan, NOT

Jamie Oleksiak, DAL 

Griffin Reinhart, EDM 

Joe Morrow, BOS 

Jake Dotchkin, TB

Bret Kulak, CAL 

Goaltenders

Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT

Antti Raanta, NYR 

Philipp Grubauer, WAS

Review

I assembled this team with some big names but prospects that can become something great.

Every team is built through the draft and I expect Vegas to be no different. The big names I picked up will fill the seats up during their inaugural season and get attendance and allow Vegas to compete.

Most of these expensive contracts will expire in a year or two so the Golden Knights won’t have cap issues in the near future. And they’ll have about $20 million in cap space post expansion draft. Adding stars like Bobby Ryan, James Neal, and Marc-Andre Fleury brings great advertisments around the city and a great product on the ice.

Even though this is what I would pick to allow for a competitive team. I would think Vegas is gonna make a lot of trades with teams to either keep a player or trade away one. I don’t expect my team to come close to the real team. But I do expect Vegas to have a handful of good talent on their roster next year. It’ll be a crazy next few weeks with lots of movement around the league. So everyone enjoy the fun off-season that will be commencing. 

Stadium Series: Good or Bad?

Our Austin Ulm and Ryan Pawloski debate whether or not the Stadium Series is a good thing or getting old.

Pros of the Stadium Series (Ryan P)

The Stadium Series was last Saturday, when the Penguins took on the Flyers. I’ve always wanted to go to an outdoor game ever since the first outdoor game when the Pens faced the Sabres.

I luckily got a chance to go down to Hienz field in the freezing cold weather to have an experience of a lifetime. The atmosphere was so cool with the snow coming down and the game itself.

The Pens and Flyers rivalry has always been a huge event, no matter the location. The outdoors added to this and created a great game.

The fans that were there, created a competitive atmosphere and the game followed that. The game itself was great and so were the fireworks.

But by far my favorite thing were the Penguins from the zoo that came out on the ice pregame. It was so cool to see that since the team hasn’t had actual living penguins cheer them on since they first started. It was one of the best sporting events I ever went to, and am extremely glad I went.

Cons of the Stadium Series (Austin)

The idea of the Stadium Series is a magnificent one. Who does not love outdoor hockey? Unfortunately the Stadium Series has not been all that great. Fans have voiced out about bad views, weather, and even the entertainment between periods. These are my top three complaints regarding the Stadium Series:

  • To begin, there have been so many Stadium Series games that the uniqueness of an outdoor game has been lost. I do not think that any Stadium Series game can ever live up to the excitement that the Winter Classic brings. Yes, they are both outdoor games, but there is just something special about the events that go along with the Winter Classic
  • Ticket Prices! The price for tickets started in the neighborhood of $150 per ticket. If I pay $150 for a ticket I would expect good seats, and a nice view of the game. Well, for a Stadium Series game $150 is not going to get you that. Lots of people have said the views for these outdoor games are not good, and often find themselves watching the game on the big screen.
  • GIVE US VARIETY! I love the Pittsburgh Penguins I do, but I think it’s time we take a break from outdoor games. As far as Stadium Series games, the Pens have played in two games, and have also played in two Winter Classic games. The Kings, Blackhawks, and the Rangers have also appeared in two Stadium Series games.

These Stadium Series games are fun to watch, and I truly believe they are good for the NHL, but the series is far from perfect. Between the number of games, ticket prices, and the teams involved it can leave a sour taste for NHL fans. Teams like the Blue Jackets, Predators, Jets, and Oilers have yet to appear in a Stadium Series game, and I hope to see some change in teams soon.

5th Annual Three Rivers Classic: Day 1

For the fifth annual Three Rivers Classic held at PPG Paints Arena, four NCAA teams battle it out to become the champion. The 2016 tournament features defending champions Robert Morris, #6 ranked Boston College, #14 ranked Quinnipiac, and Ferris State University.

To begin the evening Boston College, and Quinnipiac faced off in a fierce battle.

GAME 1: Boston College vs Quinnipiac

#6 ranked BC was short handed coming into this tournament, being without three top players as they are representing USA in the World Junior Championship.

To begin the first period, the Quinnipiac Bobcats had controlled play for most of the to start the game. At 11:20 in the first period it seemed like BC had finally got a good chance, and scored the first goal of the tournament, but a quick whistle by the refs waved off that goal. Alhtough the shots were only 8-5 with Quinnipiac having the advantage, they gave BC a tough time breaking the puck out, and getting any decent scoring chances. By far the best chance of the period came from BC off of a penalty shot that was stopped by goaltender Chris Truehl.

Quinnipiac netted the first goal of the tournament as Junior Tanner MacMaster scored at the 9:17 mark in the second period. The second period was a fast, and physical period. this was to be expected by this pair of top 15 NCAA schools. BC was able to tie the game with 34.6 seconds left in the period after they killed a penalty and hit the player coming out of the box, generating a two on zero against the goalie. Freshman, Graham McPhee made no mistake by barring the puck into the empty cage after some pretty passing by the BC players.

Bad penalties proved to be the difrecene maker in this one, as Quinnipiac had two power plays in the first 12 minutes of the third period. scoring on one of those power plays was sophomore Craig Martian at 11:56. Just 4 minutes later Bo Peiper netted another power play goal to put Quinnipiac  up 3-1. Quinnipiac was able to hang on to their two goal lead, and defeat the #6 ranked Eagles 3-1.
 

GAME 2: RMU vs Ferris State

From the drop of the puck both teams were flying. Speed, and physicality were clearly part of both teams game plans. RMU was unable to capitalize on two Ferris State penalties. Going 0-2 on the power play was RMU, but they generated a few good chances. Shots after the 1st were 14-9 in favor of RMU

Four minutes into the second period, RMU was able to take advantage of a bad turnover in the Ferris State zone and score the first goal of the game. Daniel Leavens was the goal scorer for the Colonials. RMU wass able to generate mulitple odd man chances on the PK, and at even strength but goaltender Darren Smith. Sticks in lanes were a huge for RMU, as the ended the second period having a shot advantage more than 10 over Ferris State. 29-18.

Into the third period the Colonials were able to lock it down defensively. Not getting to many chances offensively, but playing smart, and a trap style hockey to close out the game. RMU picked up the victory, and a big part of that win was goalie Francis Marotte who stopped all 30 shots from Ferris State.

RECAP

The first day of the Three Rivers Classic was full of speed, big hits, and even bigger saves. Battling for third place will be the Boston College Eagles, and the Ferris State Bulldogs. Looking to defend their title is the Robert Morris Colonials vs the Quinnipiac Bobcats. It is shaping up to be yet another amazing tournament in Pittsburgh.

Fighting To Keep Hockey Exciting

Let’s get this straight right now. The NHL is a business where fighting should be welcomed. The NHL is not an elementary or high school where it’s run by principals who look down upon fighting. In school, you’re suspended for fighting, even if you are standing up for someone or something. The suspension varies based on that school’s guidelines.

In hockey, you’re encouraged to fight when things go against what you believe in. When you or your team feels bullied, you stand up for each other and drop the gloves. What I’m not understanding is why the in the hell people want fighting extinct from hockey.

It’s a subject that has been discussed by fans for a few years now ever since the game is evolving into a more skill driven game. The services of guys like former Penguins Georges Laraque and Aaron Asham, and current Penguin Tom Sestito, are hardly needed. Laraque and Asham were pretty much never going to generate any offensive scoring chances, much like Sestito. They were there when you played your biggest divisional rivals and they would shadow your best player waiting for someone to slip up and do something stupid to put your star player in jeopardy. From there, they probably just flat out kick their ass because it was their job.

Terrible, questionable hits are still a part of the game and forever will be. The sad part is, many teams don’t have guys who have fighting skill AND playing skill. So usually a player who throws out a nasty, uncalled for hit is gathered around by a crowd of players who scream in his face and are broken up by referees within thirty seconds. Because the referees are so off-the-wall these days with some of their calls, everyone is afraid to retaliate and take an unwarranted penalty that can cost their team a game.

That is not at all how hockey should be played.

Players are now taught to fear the referee giving them a stupid penalty more than they are to fear a guy like John Scott chasing after them ready to pound their face in with his fists. And it’s quite sad because with the game changing to skill, guys who have made their money off beating the crap out of people are out of jobs. Teams don’t want their services anymore.

When I’m talking about fights, I mean clean ones. Two guys, one ice surface, both capable of landing a few fair punches. I’m not talking about fights like this mug job of Braden Holtby by Ray Emery.

I just think that hits like Ryan Callahan’s on Kris Letang during the Eastern Conference Finals is one that you don’t just let fly into the wind. Everyone knew Callahan’s intentions. Everyone knew Callahan had no plans of stopping, even though Letang’s numbers were facing him and he was already in a precarious position. But Callahan finished the game without anyone so much as challenging him to a fight. Partly because the game is all skill-driven and partly because the players in the NHL anymore are cowards softer than “Charmin Ultra Soft”.

It’ll probably never happen again, but you know the NHL needs fighting again when the damn commissioner is begging for it to comeback.