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20mar07_antropov

Dear Glen Sather: This dude is a beast. Love, 5-hole.com

It’s that time of the season again.  Yes, the annual trading frenzy as fading teams try to get something worthwhile for their unrestricted free agents.  The NHL trade deadline is March 4.  Take a look at this list of the top 50 UFA’s from the 8 worst teams in the league.  I like the Maple Leafs’ big power winger Nik Antropov.  And, with a cap hit of just over $2 million, I hope the Rangers like him too.

Let’s take a look at the games tonight.  We have some good matchups (i.e. Rangers-Ducks, Wings-Coyotes) and some complete mismatches.  Speaking of mismatches… in my opinion, the standard play for the *Gimmie* is to bet on the biggest mismatch, which would presumably be the safest bet.  Tonight, we have the Canadiens taking on the Thrashers (#5 vs #29) and the Capitals playing the Senators (#4 vs #28).  While we all agree on the picks (Habs and Caps), none of us picked either team as our gimmie.  Does that mean we smell upsets?  Or do we all just hate the Habs and we’re just too afraid to pick the inconsistent Caps on the road?  In other news, Eric picked the Hurricanes as his gimmie against the Penguins.  He must know something I don’t.

On to the picks!

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It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

On Jan 12, 2008, the Ottawa Senators completed their 43rd game of the season, and had a 29-10-4 record. Wow.

They finished the regular season 43-31-8, and then bowed out in a 4-game sweep at the hands of the Penguins.

If you do the math, that means over their last 43 games they had a record of 14-25-4. Ouch.

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The Rangers have now dropped to 7th in the East after Boston’s stunning 2-1 win today over the Capitals. What’s so stunning about a 2-1 win, you ask? Well, with the Caps winning 1-0 with 6:41 left in the game, Donald “Goon Extraordinaire” Brashear took a TRIPLE-MINOR!!! That’s 6 freakin penalty minutes. Technically, he was originally called for a double-minor for a high stick, but then he decided it would be a great idea to punch Boston defenseman Shane Hnidy in the face after the whistle to complete the trifecta. Boston ended up having two different 5-on-3 power plays during the course of those 6 minutes thanks to penalties committed by John Erskine and Tom Poti, and capitalized on both of the two-man advantages.

The Bruins and Rangers are tied in points at 79 but the Bruins have 36 wins to the Rangers 35. The two teams will meet in a Sunday matinee at the Garden tomorrow in a game that now has even more importance to the playoff picture. Game Preview coming soon!

I caught a replay yesterday of this year’s All-Star Skills Competition, which took place on Jan 29th. Behind the bench for the Eastern Conference: former Ottawa Senators Coach John Paddock. That was a definitely a little bit strange. It got me thinking, has there ever been a coach who led their team to the finals in one season, led the team to the hottest start in the league the next season, coached in the All-Star Game, and then got fired within a month?

CORRECTION (2:00 PM 3/9/08): Bryan Murray was the head coach that led Ottawa to the finals last year. After the end of the 2006-2007 season, the Senators fired general manager John Muckler and promoted Murray to GM. Paddock had been an assistant coach and was promoted to head coach. (Thanks to commenter j2i2m22 for pointing that out.)

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