After a one week hiatus welcome back to the Weekly Plus/Minus here at Bladejobs of Steel. This edition will be slightly different, as instead of looking at the events of the past week, we’ll look at the events of the past two months or so. We will be looking at the good, the bad, and the ugly for the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Hit my banner!
Los Angeles Kings: Let’s get the obvious one out of the way now shall we?
The Kings were absolutely unbelievable this spring and could not possibly get enough praise. They lost a mere four games en route to their 16 wins, which is a third of the loses that last years Big Bad Bruins had by the way. They never once trailed a series, and had a stunning 10-1 record on the road. All of this while beating the top three teams in the Western Conference, and a “sixth seed” in the finals, that actually had the ninth highest point total in the league.
What’s even more exciting about this team is the fact that baring a complete overhaul of the CBA, they should be able to stay together for a long, long time. Kopitar, Doughty, Richards, and Carter are all locked up long term, with Jonathan Quick on the ticket for one more year and Dustin Brown on for two more years. It’s easy to think that this team could be a force for a few years to come. Which should be detrimental to the rest of the Western Conference.
Marc-Andre Fleury: Did anyone else’s reputation take a bigger hit this spring than his?
The narrative was simple, on one end you had the poised, playoff experienced net-minder who guided his team to the finals in 2008 and the Cup in 2009. On the other end you had a man who talked about bears and the size of the Universe. It was an easy pick in the most intriguing first round series.
Well things didn’t turn out that way at all. Both goalies looked bad in the Keystone State Showdown, but Marc-Andre Fleury was a new breed of terrible during those six games. Things were so rough that Penguins General Manager Ray Shero went out and acquired Tomas Vokoun to shoulder some starts next year and to provide effective relief.
Hopefully Fleury responds to the pressure like it was 2009 and doesn’t wilt under it like it’s 2012.
Ilya Kovalchuk: Of course the entire Devils teams deserves some love here, but special mention has to Mr. Job Security here.
After signing his massive, and sub-legal, contract in the summer of 2010, things did not go according to plan. Kovalchuk struggled in his first full season in Newark, as everyone cried that he was a “typical Russian” only playing for the money and would proceed to coast for the next 15 years.
Then something funny happened this year — he got better. This year, and especially these playoffs, Kovalchuk played better than he ever had before. He was suddenly a two way player who could be relied on in clutch situations. Sure his team lost in the end, but Kovalchuk finished one point behind the lead for playoff scoring, not bad for a coasting commie now is it?
Vancouver Canucks: Yet another wasted President’s Trophy for this squad.
This team was given the reputation as playoff underachievers after blowing a 3-2 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final last year. This year it was supposed to be different. They were supposed to show everyone what they were made of and win the Cup for the first time in franchise history.
But then things fell apart. They struggled to score, which was of course their goalies fault, and then completely fell apart, going down to the Kings in five games. If anything they were lucky that the Kigns plowed through everyone else, since it made them look a touch better…or should we say less bad.
Regardless of how well the team that beat them played, the fact remains this vaunted Cup contender is 2-8 in their last ten playoff games, which is hardly reason for optimism.
Braden Holtby: On the excellent Backhand Shelf blog, writer Daniel Wagner proposed the Dino Ciccarelli award for best rookie in a playoff series. The winner was pretty obviously Capitals goaltender, Braden Holtby.
Holtby started the first round as the third-string goalie after injured to both Neuvirth and Vokoun. Yet somehow he went toe-to-toe with last year Vezina winner, and this year’s probable winner. It was quite the shock to see how well he played throughout the entire playoffs, and it looks like the Capitals may finally have that starting goalie they’ve been looking for.
Phoenix Coyotes Fans: Seriously, where have these people been for the past three years?
As much flak as LA was getting for riding the band-wagon, that city has nothing on these guys….