Sunday, April 15, 2007

Around the Rink 04.15.07

The intensity of the playoffs are here and there's no better example of that than in the Nashville/San Jose series. There has been controversy, fights, and scoring to appease any fan. However, the question that keeps getting thrown around when it comes to this series is respect. With incidents that involved Alexander Radulov get a one-game suspension for elbowing Steve Bernier from behind and Scott Hartnell get ejected for kneeing Jonathan Cheechoo; one wonders if respect is given enough in this game.

Though players want to finish their checks, there is a right way and wrong way. We have seen far too many "wrong way" to finish checks, which is why the respect thing comes into play. Players need to have common sense when thinking about finishing their checks. In both incidents, Hartnell and Radulov had the intent to finish their checks, but both wound up not letting up when seeing the opposing player in the vulnerable position, which led to injury, ejection or suspension.

As much as people like the action happening, something has to give or this could get ugly and not in a good way.

Are you as confused with Bob Hartley's decision to bench Kari Lehtonen as I am?? Lehtonen is the franchise goaltender on the team and is in the franchise's first playoffs. Why would you give him the hook after he help bring the team to this point?? Why would you break his confidence in this moment?? Lehtonen had a decent Game One, but the thing that has hurt the Thrashers all year, defense, is hurting now in the playoffs. Lehtonen faced 38 shots and in Game Two, Johan Hedberg faced 39.

If you want Lehtonen to grow as a player, you need to play him and back him up in every way, shape, and form. If he has a rough outing, don't bench him-- keep playing him in order to keep his confidence up and to let him know that there will be no knee-jerk reaction to a bad mishap. This could come back to bite the Thrashers if they are delicate in this situation.

In more Thrashers news, they did something pretty unique for the fans who attended Game One. They handed out scarfs as a giveaway, which I think is a pretty cool idea. Now, of course, it doesn't get cold enough for fans to actually use these; but this is akin to the European soccer fans with the scarves and their respective teams.

I, for one, would love to have one of these things; so you know I'll be surfing eBay for them or hope the Thrashers read this and send some over. The former seems to be the best bet, though.

Did you catch the 4 OT marathon in Vancouver?? I know I fell asleep after the 3rd OT, but it seems that many more watching Versus missed it due to no fault of their own. However, that's not what I want to discuss.

Since that double-hitter, it seems that these marathon games have become a concern to some, even prompting sites to ask the question whether or not we should change the marathon games. Isn't this what we wait all year for, the possibility of a marathon playoff game?? Look, the fact of the matter is that nothing needs to be changed for the playoff overtimes. It's something that has been out there forever and created more drama, joy, and heartbreak than anything in hockey could be.

The Chicago Blackhawks have the first pick in this year's NHL Draft. The big question is whether or not they'll pick a trainer with their first slot. The Hawks have been just a disastorous place to play both on and off the ice. Though some bright spots like Martin Havlat, Duncan Keith, Jeff Hamilton, and Brent Seabrook have shone through, the fact of the matter is that the Hawks are the most injury riddled team in the NHL.

It may be a death sentence for whomever goes to Chicago with this pick. However, in the "Shallowest.Draft.Ever" it's a crapshoot on who they are actually going to pick. Quite frankly, they don't need young defense, they need more help for Martin Havlat when he stays healthy.

The Phoenix Coyotes cleaned house firing GM Mike Barnett, assistant GM Laurence Gilman, and director of hockey ops Cliff Fletcher. While, this was a long time coming, as we said in the show, the real problem is behind the bench. Wayne Gretzky hasn't been a great or good coach, but the problem is-- he can't be fired unless the majority ownership pushes him out.

However, that's another story for another time-- the real question now is when or if the Columbus Blue Jackets will push out Doug MacLean. MacLean hasn't been able to produce much in ways of playoff caliber teams in Columbus, though the pick-up of Ken Hitchcock has helped him stay on life support for the time being. Whether or not something happens, we should know by the Draft; but it shouldn't surprise anyone if MacLean does get canned.

That's all for now. Make sure you check out the Show for all the fun and excitement, as well as the Message Board, which contains the Lyle/Orb: IV thread.

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