When not caught up in predicting playoff matchups, or the logic of the latest suspension for a questionable hit, it seems everyone in the hockey media today is enjoying (and re-tweeting) these fascinating observations of Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman about his travels in Russia, focusing on separating truth from rumor when it comes to the KHL. Do not miss this! Postcard from Russia: Great people, crazy country - Elliotte Friedman
Friedman's travelog also provided my theme for today as we head into the final 9 days of the regular hockey season. No one seems to know for sure where the Hurricanes will be on April 11th, so I've put together an assembly of posts that sort through some possible destinations.
Looking toward the playoff season
2010 NHL playoff races: Handicapping who's in, who's out - ESPN can't quite ignore the Canes. Here's what they wrote: Funny to include the Hurricanes in a playoff-race primer, but it's a testament to their never-say-die attitude that they're on the fringe of the playoff bubble after bumbling through the first half of the season.
Southeast: Where division stands in final days - NHL.com - Division Notebooks NHL.com's Mike Morreale looks at the status of the Southeast Division teams as the regular season winds down. And if you're wondering if you're ready to swear off the Koolaid for good (or at least for this season), here's that graph.
Flyers sign another goalie | Frequent Flyers | 04/01/2010 The Flyers have signed goaltender Sebastien Caron from the Swiss Elite League in Europe, general manager Paul Holmgren confirmed.... Since he signed after the March 3 trade deadline, he won’t be eligible for the playoffs. (This would be goaltender #7 on the season. Michael Leighton's re-hab becomes priority #1)
Injury Only A Minor Concern For Caps' Walker Scott Walker has had some bad luck since he joined the Washington Capitals, but his family has been through much worse in the past year. And for those of you hoping to make that #8 seed, it would be the top-seeded Caps' Joe Corvo and Walker on the other side of the circle this year.
After the jump, some other places we might as well start exploring.
Looking forward to the Post post-season
Invitation list out for Scouting Combine - NHL.com - 2010 NHL Entry Draft NHL Central Scouting has sent out its coveted invitations to this year's Scouting Combine only to the 100 best prospects. And you wondered what we were going to talk about here in April and May and June.
If you somehow missed that this showdown of the two top-rated 2010 draft prospects had begun: Scouts converge on Plymouth Whalers-Windsor Spitfires OHL playoff series | freep.com | Detroit Free Press
Top prospects go head-to-head Video - Taylor vs Tyler on NHL VideoCenter The Windsor Spitfires battle the Plymouth Whalers in an OHL semifinal series starring top Entry Draft prospects Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin.
Speaking of hockey travels, before the Edmonton Oilers announce their choice at the 2010 Entry Draft in Los Angeles on June 25th, we'll be treated to the NHL's Annual Awards show, once again to be in Las Vegas (remember those dulcet tones of musical guest Chaka Kahn from last year and all of those trophies Evgeni Malkin brought home?) Already, some pundits are speculating on the likely and/or most-deserving winners. NHL Awards Picks - From The Rink Hart, Norris, Selke, Vezina, and Calder. Who should win each of these NHL awards? Check out FTR's picks.
Edmonton Journal: Oilers will be winners at draft lottery Since the draft lottery was trotted out in 1995, because the NHL didn’t want to see teams tanking it down the stretch as the Pittsburgh Penguins did to get Mario Lemieux in 1984, there have been numerous cases where being last didn’t mean picking first.
And then comes July, and those free-agent contract talks and the trade rumors go crazy again. We'll be looking at salary charts and using initials like UFA and RFA like salt and Splenda. Good news! It's not too early to get your feet wet and consider the what-ifs with respected rumor guru Spector here: The Hockey News: Rumor Roundup: Rumor Roundup: What's Carey's price? Are the Flyers looking at Price?; Will the Devils re-sign Kovalchuk and let Martin walk?; and can the Pens keep Gonchar?
The Sporting News maps out some scenarios for next season with For this year's bottom feeders, there's nowhere to go but up ... or down - Craig Custance. Regarding our Hurricanes, Custance states: But one of the bright spots in a rough year has been the emergence of Brandon Sutter.
Alphabet CIty: Hockey stories of interest from the NHL, NCAA, and AHL
Jared Staal takes brothers' advice seriously - NHL.com - AHL Update With three brothers in the NHL, Jared Staal has plenty of advisors for a pro career that is taking shape in San Antonio.
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg has boosted Bruins' play, but can Boston afford to keep him? - ESPN Boston It's obvious Seidenberg has quickly become comfortable in Boston, too.
A very good read: Scions of Ford and Ilitch Families Share Passion for Hockey - NYTimes.com The love of hockey lures the N.C.A.A. Frozen Four to Detroit.
Checking in with Albany
As Bob posted separately, recognition was given to the River Rat's defenseman Casey Borer by the AHL this afternoon: The American Hockey League | Borer wins AHL's Fred T. Hunt Award. The Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award is given to the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey. Here's the background story from the Rats beat reporter at the Albany Times Union: Rats defenseman Borer receives AHL Hunt Award
Samson's star shines bright - (Troyrecord.com) "Consistency is always something you look for," Jerome Samson said. "You always hear from coaches in Carolina and here … that you should bring your A-game every night and every practice. … It’s something that you look for and it really motivates me."
"River Rats will try to secure No. 2 seed" by Rat Tales : Schenectady dailygazette.com At least someone in the family has playoffs to count on.
Dalpe fitting right in with Rats - Times Union - Albany NY "For the first four or five games that he's played, Zac's fit right in," Rats coach Jeff Daniels said, "and the big reason why is that he can skate. You find kids coming in from college or junior, the pace has got to pick up, but he skates so well that he was able to adapt right away." Also this from closer to home: Dalpe off to Fast Start - Paul Branecky, TTS blog When it comes to beginning a professional career, Zac Dalpe couldn’t have asked for much more.
"Albany's depth remains, could soon grow" by Rat Tales "I like the depth we have on our team. Come playoff time, if we do get guys back, we're going to have some tough decisions to make, but we'll worry about that once we get in there," Jeff Daniels said.
River Rats reassign goaltender Morrison to ECHL Utah - timesunion.com - Albany NY With Mike Murphy ready to play back-up to Justin Peters, and Justin Pogge back from his injury and at practice in Albany as well, suddenly a surfeit of goalies.
TGIF: A trip on the Lighter Side
If you weren't at the Atlanta game here in Raleigh last weekend, you may not have caught this "Ask the Canes" segment which provided more than the usual giggles, at least for me. Carolina Hurricanes: Rod Brind'Amour's Favorite Snack?
Responding to pieces like this one, here's: Hurricanes rookie McBain sick of Simpsons references | Intent to Blow Carolina rookie Jamie McBain has heard all your stupid Simpsons references. He gets it, he shares a name with fictional movie star McBain. Now knock it off.
Grab your hanky and watch this happy reunion: Surprise Homecoming at Capitals Game | NBC Washington
In the spirit of "we're not laughing at you, we're laughing with you" :nudge nudge wink wink:, here's a brief highlight from the postgame last night featuring the games' #1 Star Jason Spezza's Nerdy Laugh (Part II) - April 1st 2010
Finally, don't forget to plan on attending Canes Country Closes out the Season: April 10th at Backyard Bistro Looking forward to meeting you there. (I'll be the one in the Underdog T-shirt.)