This is the Rap Around for March 25th, 2009. Daniel and I will run down hockey headlines from the week with answers limited to one paragraph. Let's get started.
Alexander Ovechkin's "hot stick" goal celebration for his 50th of the season-- more, less or just as outrageous as Selanne's "skeet-shooting" celebration with the Jets?
Ovechkin's celebration was a little over the top. I enjoy big celebrations, but this one was just too far. I felt like I was watching a football game. I don't have a problem with good celebrating, I'm just saying I'm looking for more creativity from one of the premiere goal scorers in the NHL.
Everyone seems to be making a big deal about whether the Sharks or the Wings will walk away with the Presidents' trophy, so who takes the Presidents' and does it mean anything?
They both have easy remaining schedules, but a lot of those games are against division rivals. The Sharks were struggling, but they've seemed to regain their scoring touch. Still, I have to give the trophy to Detroit, who's up by 1 point and will only be on the road TWICE for the rest of the season. Presidents' Trophy doesn't really forecast anything. Cup success depends on how deep the team is, and who the 8th seed is that year.
Brad Richards came back from a hand injury just in time to injure his other hand, are the Stars out of the playoffs?
The Stars aren't done yet, but if they don't scare up some wins quick, they will be. Modano is done and Morrison is not the scoring answer they are looking for. I don't think they have the offense to get it done, but if Turco can steal some games and they hang around for another week, they're going to be a problem down the stretch, they're just too feisty to roll over and die. Of course that doesn't mean they won't choke.
Positions 7-12 in the Western Conference are only separated by 5 points with about 10 games left. Since we are clearly biased Ducks fans, and greatly concerned with magumbo, I will only ask this, if not us then who makes it in?
If the Ducks are out (huk huk), then on strength of schedule I have to say the Predators and Wild are out, too. The Wild are at home, but they don't get to play the Coyotes or Avalanche at all, so no free points. 7 and 8 on my Ducks-free bracket would be the Stars and Edmonton, respectively; I just don't think the Blues will have what it takes to close the gap with Edmonton.
Best Deadline Duck so far? Christensen, Nokelainen, Whitney or Wisniewski?
I call toss up, Nokelainen is great in the circle and has been a really solid force with Robbie on that line, and he's got two goals both of which came in wins, and the one against Nashville would have been a game winner if we didn't cough up the late lead. Whitney is so solid, he eats minutes and gives us an opportunity to have our second powerplay unit be a first unit on some other teams in the league. Right now I say Whitney only because he's locked up for the next few years and will give us more leverage in the offseason with Pronger and Niedermayer.
What move, or prospect that will come up, do you think will help propel us back into competition in the Pacific and keep us from having this dogfight for a playoff spot in 2010?
I think we called up a lot of the guys we might see next year. If we re-sign Beauchemin, you'll still likely see Mikk or Fest out there before you see Salcido or Bickel or even Mitera. Of course, Niedermayer's destiny will determine Pronger's and may shake up the pairings, if not the whole team. I think Murray will re-sign Todd and/or Rob, maybe trade Pronger, and then window shop in the free agent market. But with the cap likely going down the year after next, I expect to see a lot of one-year deals, which may have us back in the dogfight as early as 2011.