Wow. What a game, what a finish, what a series, what fantastic playoffs. Here are some general thoughts I have on this season, and what comes next.
What Lockout?: As angry as every fan of hockey was (and had every right to be) from August to mid-January, its hard to make a statement by staying away from the game when its that good. Maybe it was just on TV, but in a year where Gary Bettman should have been booed a record amount, it seemed merely token.
Best Finals in Recent Memory?: I'd certainly say so. That was some of the best hockey I've ever watched. Two incredibly talented, deep teams that played the game at an insane pace for six games. On aggregate, the Blackhawks only outscored the Bruins by two goals in the whole series, one of which was an empty netter. There was triple overtime, regular overtime twice more, and last night's OUTRAGEOUS finish. Pretty cool. Next year will have plenty to live up to.
Playing Through the Pain: You can always tell, when watching a series, who is "right" and who you are just waiting to find out what is wrong with them. Zdeno Chara hasn't revealed yet, but Patrice Bergeron played game six with a broken rib, torn cartilage and sustained a shoulder separation. Marian Hossa couldn't feel his right leg due to a disk problem in his back. Brian Bickell has a grade 2 sprain in his knee. Just insane what these guys will play through, especially when compared to other sports *coughbaseballcough*.
Buyout, Draft, Free Agency: As one season ends... the next begins. With the new CBA, the next couple weeks will be cool. The compliance buyout period has opened, and it will be interesting to see who (other than Danny Briere) is bought out. The draft is always an exciting time, and then free agency begins, but with a wrinkle. Teams will have the chance to meet with impending free agent players before the July 5th signing period. Will be interesting to see who Bryan Murray and the Senators target.
- Peter suggests that Ryan Malone could be a target for trade. I'm concerned about his ability to play in Paul MacLean's skating system. [SSS]
- Next round of Your Say! Posts. [Greening] [Dziurzynski] [Cowen] [Condra] [Conacher]
- Varada asks "Are the Senators a Cap Team?" and I answer; sadly, no. [WTYKY]
- Milan Michalek had a procedure done in Germany to treat his ailing knee recently. [Senators Extra]
- What is that procedure, exactly? Our own Peter Raaymakers, while investigating, found this explanation on YouTube. It sounds like a plausible treatement for Michalek, as it is known that knee surgery greatly increases chances of suffering from osteoarthritis, though this is typically later in life. [YouTube]
- Did you know the NHL draft is this Sunday? Here's some insight from Bryan Murray and Pierre Dorion on the past. Bonus video of Tim Murray scowling next to baby-faced Erik Karlsson! [Sens TV]
- Speaking of Tim Murray, he suggests the Senators will draft the best player available--the only practical strategy in Mark's opinion--and that at 17th overall, that player will probably be a forward. [Sens TV]
- And here's Dorion talking about the draft. I love this guy. [Sens TV]
- Varada wants the Senators to spend to the cap. There's certainly an opportunity, but the Senators got to this place through good financial management. Is a spending spree in the best long-term interests of the team? [WTYKY]
- Over at Bonk's Mullet, they assemble an All-Star lineup of former Sens who are UFA this season. They're very liberal with the term "All-Star" over at RBM. [RBM]
- The always awesome Elliotte Friedman is back with another 30 thoughts, including this interesting tidbit:
The other interesting one is Marian Hossa, who was very good until a back problem slowed him down. This is purely an educated guess, but I wondered if Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray might approach the Blackhawks to see if he is available. Things did not end well between Hossa and the Senators in 2005, but maybe time heals the wound. He would be a perfect fit for Ottawa, but that's harder to see now.
- Speaking of perfect fits for Ottawa, Vincent Lecavalier was bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Should the Senators sign him? Well... imagine Kyle Turris playing against opponents' third lines. [Lightning]
- The St. Louis Blues signed restricted free agent defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk for four years at a cap hit of $4.25M. That deal is going to look great for them pretty quickly. [St. Louis Dispatch]