Monday, April 7, 2008

Around The League.... Pens Looking For Revenge... Buffalo and Carolina Make NHL History For Failures

The Pittsburgh Penguins aren't worried about a sloppy loss to the Flyers yesterday. They want revenge against the Senators on the heels of last year's first round loss.

"It's payback," Staal said. "I think every player in this dressing room wants to give it back to them for what they did to us last year."

By sitting Sidney Crosby for the final game, the Pens made it clear that they're not afraid of playing Ottawa because a win yesterday would have allowed them to play 8th place Philadelphia in the first round.


The Washington Capitals have capped a remarkable comeback season (they were in last place when Bruce Boudreau took over at Thanksgiving) thanks to Alex Ovechkin's Art Ross, Maurice Richard and probably Hart Trophy winning season. They now go on to face the Flyers in the first round. But a lot of folks in D.C. are giving the proper accolades to Boudreau as well.

"Boudreau's NHL coaching debut came the day after Thanksgiving at Wachovia Center, where Capitals won, 4-3, on a goal in overtime by rookie Nicklas Backstrom. In the four and a half months since that victory, Boudreau, a coach of the year hopeful, guided the team to a 37-17-7 record, including seven straight victories to close the regular season, and the Capitals ascended from last place to division champion for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001. "

And don't forget what GM George McPhee did at the trade deadline, acquiring Sergei Fedorov and Cristobal Huet. He can also take credit for seeing through the decision to entirely rebuild only 5 years ago as Thom Loverro writes about in the Washington Times:

"When we got eliminated in the playoffs against Tampa that year, we talked a few weeks after the season," McPhee said. "Ownership felt at that time we should tear it down. We were probably going to have a lockout, so let's rebuild it. They asked me, 'Can you do it, and will you do it?'

"We were sitting in Ted's office. I said, 'Yes, we will.'


For all the talk of the Ottawa Senators fall from grace, not many took note of the Buffalo Sabres downfall. In fact, the Sabres made some history doing it and joined an elite list of teams who hold some notorious records in the NHL. Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News has the story:

"The Sabres became just the third defending points leader to fail to make the playoffs the next season in the expansion era (joining only the 1970 Montreal Canadiens and 1993 New York Rangers). Buffalo’s 23-point drop from last year’s 113- point finish is the third-highest among Presidents’ Trophy winners since the award was first handed out to the regular-season champion in 1985-86.

And by percentage of points earned, the Sabres’ drop is fourth-highest in the Presidents’ Trophy era. "


No one can be happier about the Carolina Hurricanes missing the playoffs than Ottawa GM and coach Bryan Murray. He has been taking all sorts of heat for the four player swap with the Canes that saw Joe Corvo leave Ottawa and excel with his new team while Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore have been perceived by fans and media to have played average (I still think it was a good deal for Ottawa - remember that Corvo had asked to be traded).

That criticism will now be blunted a little with Carolina's failure. Now the Hurricanes are the only team in NHL history to miss the playoffs two seasons in a row after winning the Stanley Cup according to Luke Decock of the News and Observer.

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