So many great games and performances, so little word space.
• It’s hard to believe the Los Angeles Kings were closing in on trading Dustin Brown Feb. 27. The guy has been their best player in these playoffs and, I’d argue, the best playoff player in the league so far this year.
When the Canucks faced the Bruins in last year’s final, we all know it was Boston’s brute force that helped tilt the scales in Beantown’s favor. Vancouver took a lot of heat for not being ferocious enough.
Vancouver came within inches of playing San Jose in Round 1 – a much more favorable matchup for them. But in getting stuck with the Kings, the Canucks face the very type of team that can beat them down and Brown has been the face of the 3-0 Kings edge.
It’s very early, so this question is pointless. But, you know what? I’m going to ask it anyway just for fun: Who is your front-runner for the Conn Smythe right now? I’d pick Brown.
Immediately after the trade deadline passed, Brown posted 11 points in nine games in an effort many thought was rooted in a motivation to prove his worth.
If he keeps up what he’s been doing for Los Angeles, it’s hard to imagine the team going back down the trade route with him this off-season. He’s been everything you want your captain to be.
• The St. Louis Blues, recognized as a defense-first club by many, but aptly described by our own Brian Costello as one of the hardest working teams, have been labelled a squad without a standout offensive talent.
While this is true, they’re closer to having one than many think.
Over the past two seasons, Andy McDonald has totaled 30 goals and 72 points in 83 games and now has two goals and five points through three games against San Jose. That doesn’t put him on the level of Jason Spezza or Ilya Kovalchuk, but 72 points would make him a top-20 scorer. The fact he was limited to 25 games this year due to a concussion makes us forget this.
• Earlier this year, THN ran a story about how the importance of the top-tier goaltender to success was waning (“The Death Of Dominance,” Jan. 30). The days when Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Dominik Hasek won series on their own was being replaced by an era in which Antti Niemi was a Stanley Cup-winning goalie and the Brian Boucher-Michael Leighton tandem came within two victories of the Holy Grail.
But boy oh boy, have top-notch goalies been the story so far in these playoffs, with the exception of those involved in the Philly-Pittsburgh series.
Jonathan Quick is delivering for the Kings, Mike Smith for the Coyotes, Pekka Rinne for Nashville, Tim Thomas for Boston, Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers – and it goes on. Even on teams trailing their series, the goalie has been lights out – Corey Crawford, Roberto Luongo/Cory Schneider and Braden Holtby.
Is the importance of the big netminder really disappearing or is there just a new generation emerging?
• Finally, those who tirelessly call for major change in hockey every time there is an incident say they are big hockey fans and have always loved the game.
I hate to be “that guy” who says they aren’t and they don’t – and it may be cliche – but it makes no sense to me because none of these incidents’ are new. I’ve thought about what the game would look like if all knee-jerk change requests were implemented – and I woke up in a cold sweat. How it would resemble anything close to what we call hockey I’ll hopefully never know.
Rory Boylen is TheHockeyNews.com’s web editor. His column appears regularly only on THN.com.
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