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03 March 2009

Changing Tides

So, in the midst of the trade deadline looming, we have been playing some great hockey. It has been two games now, and our defense has impressively improved. Granted, it was against two struggling teams. Dallas just fell out of playoff contention the night before we played them and Tampa Bay has been out of the picture for a while now. It does appear, though, that the defense is finally turning the corner that the offense did a couple games ago.
What timing! We are 9-4-1 for 19 of a possible 28 points since February 1st. This includes 6-1-1 under head coach Dan Bylsma. Before Bylsma took over, we were averaging 2.88 goals for and 2.98 goals against per game. After Bylsma, we improved to 3.37 goals for and 2.75 goals against per game. Obviously, this is a great improvement.
Marc Andre Fleury has been playing significantly better and has been making some incredible saves at all the right times to keep the momentum tipped in our favor.
2008-09 STATS
24-16-4 2.86 .909
These numbers are steadily improving. Like I said in an earlier post, I believe that the way MAF plays down this stretch run will dictate how far we will go in the playoffs.
How great does Ray Shero look now that Chris Kunitz has scored 3 goals and 2 assists in the 3 games since his trade. Kunitz is the picture perfect player that Jordan Staal and the rest of the team needed. He meshes so well with Tyler Kennedy and Staal that it will be interesting to see what Bylsma does when Sidney Crosby comes back. I wonder if he will test out a new line or not mess with the working lines.
This all might not even matter though with the pending trade deadline tomorrow at 3 PM EST. There is so many players that are going to be available and I want to guesstimate that about 85% of the trades floating around the rumor mill. I can't say I like them all, but I will give you a quick rundown of who I do like.

Chris Neil

Milan Hejduk

Marian Gaborik

Erik Cole

Jonathan Cheechoo

Martin St.Louis

Ryan Smyth

Alright, I will start with Chris Neil. He is more of a physical presence. He really doesn't have a scoring touch. He would be more of a protection clause for Crosby. I know that we were offering a pick and a prospect for Neil.

Milan Hejduk is a proven scorer, even without a line that has a playmaker as good as Sid. His biggest downside is his age. He is 33 which isn't too bad, but if we need to drop Staal for him, there would have to be a big package coming over with him.

Marion Gaborik is 27 and has an incredible upside of a 40+ goal season. His huge downside is his contract and his small problem of being made of glass.

Erik Cole used to be a perrenial 30 goal scorer until our own Brooks Orpik got ahold of him. He hasn't been the same since.

Jonathan Cheechoo has proven that he can put the puck in the net in the past but accumulating 56 goals a few years back. He is relatively young and is currently playing on the third line in San Jose. If we were allowed to choose, this guy would be my favorite for this team. He would be cheaper than the rest due to his recent inability to put the puck in the net.

Martin St' Louis is another older player that would be great for this team. I don't know if I want to see Staal go there for him, but outside Cheechoo, I think I like him best.

Ryan Smyth is another big threat, but reminds me alot like Gaborik in that he has a large contract. He would fit in well, but is too expensive.

To be completely honest, we really don't know what is going to happen, but I am still excited for the end product as always.


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