The big debate will continue to the end of the season. Who were the winners and losers on trade deadline day?
The pundits went for the obvious, picking Calgary in Canada and the New York Rangers in the US as the big winners. Both made significant moves at the trade deadline. As you know, Calgary picked up Jokenen and Leopold while the New York Rangers grabbed guys like Derek Morris, Nik Antropov and also picked up Sean Avery from the dead zone.
Mike Gillis, comfortable with the team he had assembled, declined to offer second round picks for rental players, or sacrifice the future for superstar-in-waiting Jay Bouwmeester. The ultimate judgment will be rendered sometime in June after some kids with Grizzly Adams’ beards parade the Stanley Cup around the ice.
But for now, we can see that Calgary has been embarrassed in the Southeast (where they like to call it ice hockey…and ice is a two syllable word) a couple of times on this past weekend. And the Rangers lost again tonight and suddenly finds themselves on the outside of the playoff race.
One of the points Mats Sundin kept talking about while studying the various offers he received was, how would he fit into a new team? What effect would he have on the dressing room psyche? Matty Ohlund said that that was pretty much Sundin’s big concern in that last ditch telephone conversation. Ohlund assured him it would be no problem. But the truth is, Mats took some time to get his game together and the team struggled to include the new guy in the top six. Coach V decided to promote two of his hardest working forwards in Kesler and Burrows and, thank the hockey gods, the Canucks turned it around. The big losing streak is now a vaguely uncomfortable memory and we are closer to catching the Hawks and the Flames than we are to missing the playoffs.
Now both the Rangers and the Flames may capitalize on the trades they made…but there is an integration process that a team goes through when new players are brought in. It doesn’t happen in a weekend or even a week. New personalities face new systems.
Lots of guys have said it and it’s true. The best trade might be the one you didn’t make.
Tonight we are facing one of the future powerhouses in the Western Conference. Yep the Kings might even make the playoffs this year…but for sure they will make the playoffs next year. The young talent on this team is outstanding and they are well-managed and well coached. And the Canucks are bringing thirteen Canuck Moms with them tonight…a great gesture.
But we’d better not take the Kings lightly tonight.
And we come out hard. First Sundin and then Pyatt have glorious chances. This just seems like one of those games that sees both teams as vulnerable…there is a bit of a waiting game to see who will crack first.
And after an icing call, Roberto whiffs a Gauthier shot and the Kings go up one zip on their first shot of the game. I felt this going in: this will be a game that tests our resiliency. The work effort seems to be there…but there is still a sense that they do not yet realize that these aren’t the Kings they played three months ago. This is a team with speed and determination. We’ll have to match that or they will bury us…we being hottest team in the league notwithstanding.
And a Kings PP adds another worry wrinkle. They are a great face-off team and we cannot clear the puck.
Old Oiler Stoll makes us pay.
There is a curious lack of synchronicity tonight. Every little choice is wrong. We hesitate when we should go. We one-time it and look silly on the whiff. We lose key face-offs. The only good thing about a two nothing deficit after one period is that…well, its only one period.
And the Kings come out in the second period and just own us. It’s not only the PP, but we can’t seem to get the puck over the redline. The puck is bouncing badly for us until, against the run of the play, Alexander the Great wires one from the blueline. Quick moves too slow and we are back in it.
But we can’t maintain it. We keep giving the Kings PP chances.
Back when we were losing we were taking a great many too-many-men penalties. The excuses were lame and simply a cover-up for lack of attention and discipline. We kill one PP but cannot kill the next one. The Kings are destroying us in the face off circle and once again Stoll bites us.
There are some unhappy Moms watching this one.
We buzz the net in the late PP but leave the period still down two. It’s clear that if we are to have a chance in the third we need to have three things occur. Lou needs to slam the door shut, we need to stay out of the box and then the most obvious: we need to score goals.
Pyatt answers the call on another weird goal and once again we are back in it. But we don’t follow up with sustained pressure. And one gets the sense that if we are to win it, that is exactly what we need to do. We finally find our legs in the last half of the period and we spend almost the entire time in the Kings’ zone. If we had played the game the way we played those last ten minutes we would have the double U.
We didn’t and the Kings are in the playoff race.