Greetings one and all! After taking a couple of weeks off, welcome back to the Weekly Plus/Minus were we look at the best and worst in the ring and on the ice. With the NHL Playoffs well underway and the WWE being in a great post-Wrestlemania period, there is certainly a ton to discuss. Let’s get to it, shall we?
American Born Goalies: For the longest time Canada, and especially Quebec was seen as the Goalie Factory. In recent years, some have made the argument that Finland has supplanted French Canada as the new place to look to find a good back-stopper.
This post-season could end up as a bit of a coming out for American Born goalies. While Tim Thomas has taken a slight step back he’s still been very good. Scott Clemmensen has played very good in relief, Corey Schneider has been even better, and Craig Anderson has flown under the radar this post season, and has been keeping pace with Henrik Lundqvist since the 3rd Period of Game 1.
Of course the one American goalie who has been down right spectacular has been LA Kings netminder Jonathan Quick. This entire season has been a coming out party for Quick, but he has really upped his game against one of the best offenses in the league. If they awarded a Conn Smythe every round, Quick would be the runaway favourite to take it for the first round. Make no mistake here we are watching something very special here with Jonathan Quick, and it wouldn’t be very surprising to see them make it pretty far this Spring.
If you’re still not sold on the strength of American goalies, remember their 2010 Olympic Hero is out golfing. These guys are going to be very tough to score on in Sochi.
Goalies That Play in Pennsylvania: This series has flown in the face of all logical, sane predictions. Everyone expected the big names on Pittsburgh to run roughshod over the Flyers and give us a very long, intense series.
Instead we’ve had Claude Giroux and Sean Coturier top the scoring, we’ve had the Penguins blow two 3-0 leads, and we’ve had three straight blow outs that have been better known for the cheap shots and violence than the majesty on ice which we were all expecting.
At the core of it though, there are the men behind the net. Before the playoffs everyone was trumpeting Marc-Andre Fleury as a money goalie and that currency has certainly been devalued. Ilya Bryzgalov has (perhaps less surprisingly) been impossible to predict. On one moment he absolutely robs Kris Letang with the save of the year, and the next moment it looks like the Tupac Hologram would be a more serviceable goaltender.
Both teams were hyped as Cup contenders before the playoffs, but whoever wins this Keystate Showdown is going to be in serious trouble if they come up against Tim Thomas or Henrik Lundqvist in the future.
New Stars Rising: WWE Legend Mick Foley has recently been engaged in an on-line feud with prospect Dean Ambrose, these two calling each other out on Twitter has been blurring the lines between fiction and reality quite nicely. Apparently the plan is to give Ambrose a huge program right away and make him a major name very quickly.
Add in the fact that recently (re) debuted Lord Tensai got a huge win over John Cena, and it looks like we may finally be seeing some new stars come in. Sure it won’t be as big as the Class of 2002 which included Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista, and Shelton Benjamin, but it looks like we may finally be getting some new big names on the horizon.
It was boring and obvious filler before Wrestlemania, it’s boring and obvious filler for Extreme Rules, and damnit it’s boring and obvious filler in this column.
Orton deserves better, and so do you, Dear Readers.
While many would obviously question matching him up with Cena right away and not holding off until Wrestlemania, sometimes you have to strike while the iron is hot. Having him give an F5 to John Cena the night after Wrestlemania was an amazing way to have him return, and to have those two face off so soon really helps carry the post-Wrestlemania buzz even longer.
The possibilities for Lesnar going forward are incredibly exciting, and it’s fun to imagine potential matchups with The Rock, The Undertaker, Randy Orton, or CM Punk, and it’ll be even more fun to not have to imagine them anymore.
The complaint here is coming out of the Department of Player Safety. Brendan Shanahan has the hardest job in the league, and for the most part has been very good at it. However, some things here are a little strange.
Aaron Asham cross-checks a guy during play and gets four games while Niklas Backstrom gets only one game for a cross-check to the face when the clock ran out. The book will certainly be thrown at Raffi Torres for his late hit on Marian Hossa, but James Neal only got one game for obvious head-hunting. Shea Weber gets nothing for ramming Zetterberg’s head into the boards, but Andrew Shaw gets three for bumping a goalie, of a team owned by the league no less.
The message is clear, third and fourth liners are fair game for suspensions but people who have the ability to dictate the game like Neal, Backstrom, and Weber can get slaps on the wrist. This makes it seem like Johnny Laurinitus is in charge and all of these top liners are people like Mark Henry and Dolph Ziggler, and that’s in nobody’s best interest.
Prediction for the Week: Only one series goes to seven games.