Archive for December 2012

30 Teams in 30 Stories

Moving Van

Stopping the puck will be a huge task for Jaroslav Halak in Vancouver this season.
It's been a lot of ups and downs for the Vancouver Canuck faithful over the years, and the hope is this isn't a fresh set of downward spirals coming this season.
The Cancks were once a model of inability to capitalize on a plethora of telent. Under the inaugural reign of General manager Iain Murray, the Canucks built up a strong team year after year, only to have it washed away with post-season failures, often at the hands of the Minnesota Wild. After Murray's tenure ended, the Canucks went through both highs and lows, the lowest being a few seasons ago when they inished dead last in the WCHL by a country mile, barely eclipsing 30 points.
In a geographic shuffle however, the Canucks were given a boost in fortunes, seeing the Atlanta Thrashers squad move to Vancouver, with the old Vancouver Canucks shuffling off to Winnipeg to become the Jets.
The Canucks effectively went from the league's worst team to a top 10 squad with the signing of a few league documents. Once again though, the Canucks were unable to make much happen with that talent, and now, after yet another General Manager change, the Canucks are hoping they'll find their way out of the desert quicker than Moses did.
Indeed, Vancouver is coming off a season in which they missed the playoffs by eight points, going 34-39-9, and did virtually nothing in the off-season. Now they find themselves at a significant crossroads, trying to get the most out of aging team while wondering if some of that team, including future Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Pronger, will be staying with the club long-term.

If Chris Pronger can be his all-star self, the Canucks could make a big move in the Western Conference.
The man tasked with guiding the ship is newly minted General Manager Dylan Schwark. He won't have an easy task in front of him, with a few key players set to be free agents after the season and a few others tied into no movement contracts. Several bloated contracts meanwhile have the Canucks with just over $1 million in wiggle room under the salary cap.
"We have the team in place now to make the playoffs, I know that," said Sedin sister Henrik. "We have a great top line, a great second line cetre in John Tavares, a very experienced defense, and a legit number one netminder in Jaroslav Halak. We have the pieces, but we could use to make some adjustments."
Those adjustments will need to come more significantly on defense. Oddly, with a blueline that features Chris Pronger, Alexander Edler, Ed Jovanovski and Brent Burns, the Canucks surrendered a whopping 276 goals last year, fourth most in the Western Conference. That number could be much better.

Opponents don't like playing aganst Alexander Edler. The hard-hitting defenseman is part of a very under-performing Canucks blueline.
Improving the defensive posture of the forward ranks would help, with very few players looking like Selke Trophy candidates, but the addition of Jamie Langenbrunner should help in that regard. Another positive would be the addition of a legitimate backup netminder. Andy Chiodo hardly proved very effective last season, and wasn't able to give Halak much support or time off.
While cap space is an issue, expect to see defenseman John Carlson get plenty of ice time for the Canucks this year as well. The young blueline stud figures to give the Canucks a boost now, and also down the road as the 20-year-old is only getting started and certainly would help Vancouver improve their defense.
There is plenty of reason to be positive in Vancouver, but there's no guarantee that this tea won't hit the skids again. The one who will decide whether that happens or not is Schwark.

For all the talk about improvement, the Canucks will only go as far as the Sedin twins can carry them.

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30 Teams in 30 Stories

Getting Iggy With It

For once the Leafs have a lot to celebrate... maybe.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been bad for pretty much the entire leangth of time the WCHL has existed. Making the playoffs has been a challenge and, outside of a miracle run to the WCHL finals one year, the Leafs have had no post-season success.
So one may find it interesting to see one of the games greatest all around players deciding to lace the skates up for the Leafs.
Jarome Iginla, arguably the biggest free agency prize this off-season, signed on the Leafs yesterday, inking a five-year, $5-million deal to suit up in the blue and white.

Jarome Iginla brings a big name to the Leafs for the first time in a while.
"Growing up in Canada, everyone dreams of playing for the Leafs someday, I'm glad I got a chance to do that, to make that dream come true. It was a great incentive to play in Toronto," said Iginla.
$9 million a season was also likely a great incentive as well.
While Iginla will fill a big void for the Leafs, he is one piece of a large puzzle that is still far from being filled.
The Leafs are likely still another four forwards and two blueliners away from having nearly enough depth and skill to make a legitimate playoff run in the uber-tough Eastern Conference. Remember, this is a conference which last season seen every playoff team finish with at least 100 points.
"It's going to be tough but we hope to have the players in palce to not just survive, but to thrive," said Leafs General Manager Tony Bezdeck.
Bezdeck has likely been the off-seasons busiest GM. Aside from the Iginla signing, Bezdeck has also been widely reported to be involved in bidding on other high profile free agents, and has swung several deals, sending out players such as Kyle Brodziak and Ales Hemsky. Ondrej Pavelec meanwhile is rumoured to be on the block as well, meaning the Leafs could have an entirely new look come next season.

Ales Hemsky sits dejected after hearing he has been traded to Boston.
"We had to make changes, said Bezdeck. "We finished well outside the playoffs last year, we weren't even close. We can't accept that, we have to do better and to do better changes had to be made."
Another important factor is that for once, the Leafs might actually have some depth in the farm system. with veterans like Tim Brent likely tagged for time with the Toronto Marlies. Having skilled players to recall in case of injury could go along way in helping the Leafs hold on in a playoff push.

Tim Brent expects to provide some valuable depth for the Leafs this season.
But it will all be for nought if the Leafs don't continue to pick up pieces in free agency. Rumoured involvement includes Pekka Rinne and Chris Kunitz, both of whom would cost a lot but also provide a lot to the Leafs.
"We're not done yet. I'd be shocked if we don't have another big announcement to make, maybe several," said Bedzeck with a smile.

Is Pekka Rinne Toronto-bound?

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30 teams in 30 Stories

Lightning Finally Strikes

It was a positive year for the Lightning for the first time in a long time.
After years of trying, but falling well short, the Tampa Bay Lightning finally reached the WCHL post-season this year.
And they picked a great year to do it, joining seven other teams in the Eastern Conference to reach 100 points, making it the toughest crowd of playoff teams in WCHL history.
"It was a proud moment for us," said Tampa Bay General Manager Mike Osterloh. "We worked hard at this, and everything sort of clicked this season."
A big part of that click was the play of netminder Jimmy Howard. The at times maligned goalie rallied to post a career year with the Lightning, and was a darkhorse contender for a Vezina Trophy nomination.

Jimmy Howard's play on the ice has been as hot as the women he's dated off of it.
"It was great to help the team win, and hopefully this is just the tip of the iceberg," said Howard.
While Tampa Bay didn't fare well in the playoffs, losing to the New York Rangers in five games in the opening round, Tampa Bay served notice they are the precipice of becoming another force in the East.
To do so though, they must not let this level of improvement go for waste. A solid core needs to be further augmented with support, and how Osterloh deals with that will be vital.
Some help on the wings would do wonders, and Tampa Bay must find a way to handle the volitile Dany Heatley situation. The veteran winger, who is also a veteran of trade demans, has issued yet another one, asking to be moved by the Lightning. Heatley's demand was made before the mid-way point of the season, yet Tampa Bay didn't let it become a distraction. Whether they can remained focused through next year is not a guarantee so expect Tampa Bay to move the sniper before the drop of the puck next year.

Dany Heatley can't wait to get out of Tampa Bay. He's also eager to get out of whatever team he gets traded to as well.
"I really don't like it here. Frankly I don't like it anywhere, but especially here. Tampa Bay sucks. Nothing but women in bikinis, 80-degree temperatures all the time, lots of sun and I play hockey for millions a season. This place stinks," said Heatley.
Flipping Heatley for a deal involving a winger is likely a key for the Lightning, who have little cap space to play with and have hardly even been seen on the free aget scene. This is in stark contrast from previous seasons.
"We don't think the answer lies in free agency. We'll see what can do to improve from within," said Osterloh.
Within includes the likes of forward Bobby Butler, defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti and netminder Anders Lindback.

Anders Lindback figures to be a key piece of the Lightning future.
"We think we can fill what we need from within, but we'll see what's out there as well and do what's best for the team," said Osterloh.
For the first time, that thought process worked last season. Will it work again?

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King of the Hill

Rangers Lonely No More

The New York Rangers are the Season 15 WCHL up Champions

For a while, Andrew Don must have been feeling like the jilted bridesmaid.

The New Rangers General Manager had spent several year forming a solid team built around a young, talented core of elite hockey talent. A few veterans were sprinkled in for good measure, such as Shane Doan, and it appeared all was in place for a Cup run.

But after several playoff failures, and two times being defeated in the WCHL Cup final, Don must have felt like maybe he was destined to be forever the bridesmaid; never the bride.

"It's hard not to doubt yourself," admitted Don. "We knew we had the right team but at times we started to wonder, are we missing something here."

If what was missing was consistency, the Rangers more than found that this year. After a bit of a bumpy start, the Rangers roared through the reagular season, destroying teams in their wake enroute to claiming the Presidents Trophy with a 126-point season. Unlike other teams who have had to face adversity in the playoffs, the Rangers dealt with none of that either, first besting the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games after taking a 3-0 series lead, then knocking off their cross town rival Islanders in round two. For the second straight year the Rangers swept the Islanders, this time using three straight overtime victories to seal the job.

"Even though we swept them, they were the toughest challenge," said team captain Shane Doan. "Usually you don't win three straight overtime games, and we could easily have lost one or two of those. We lose two of them, it's a 2-2 series, not a 4-0 sweep. We have to tip our hats to them, they re always a tough test."

The Rangers then topped the Ottawa Senators in five games before getting past the Calgary Flames in five games as well in the finals. Not surprisingly, the Rangers capped off their cup run with an overtime victory in game five against Calgary to seal their first WCHL title.

"This is incredible, I feel lik I'm on top of the world right now, I just can't describe this," said forward Tomas Flieschmann, who scored the cup clinching goal in game five.

Flieschmann was the teams top scorer in the post-season, scoring 23 points, including five goals. Of those five goals, three were game winners, helping to put him into consideration for the Conn Smythe award. But there was little doubt who would claim that award.

"Henrik Lundqvist, please step forward to accept the Conn Smythe award," WCHL Co-Commissioner Kurt Fulmore stated in front of a capacity crowd of 21,500 at the GWC Gardens. Outside of the roar which nearly blew the roof off the Gardens following Flieschmann's overtime heroics, the cheer for Lundqvist's Coon Smythe award was the loudest of the post-season filled with nothing but postives for the Ranger faithful.

The Flames had no answer for Henrik Lundqvist this time around, scoring just eight goals in the five game finals.

"This is amazing," said Lundqvist. "We've been striving so hard for so long to get to this point, this means so much to be a big piece of helping us get the WCHL Cup."

It is a season which will go down in the ages as one of the best of all time. Next year will be a hard act to follow.

"We're just going to enjoy the glow of this for a while, but then we'll get back to work. The WCHL never rests, so we can't either," said Don.

When asked about a possible repeat, Don was smug.

"I thought it would be hard, but I seen Ryan (McClanahan, Colorado General Manager) and Kurt (Fulmore, San Jose General Manager) do it, so it must be pretty simple."

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30 Teams in 30 Stories

Signing the Blues

Goals were hard to come by in St. Louis
After some high-priced dips into the free agent pool the past few seasons, the St. Louis Blues had high hopes for theis season.
Those hopes weren't realized however, as Season 15 turned into a disaster from the start.
St. Louis stumbled to a 4-15 start to the season and never recovered. While the club poted a valiant 30-25-8 record after that poor start, they could undo the damage that had been done, largely the result of some weak efforts from some high-priced players.
"We did not get the bang for the buck from some guys," said General Manager Jesse Funk. "We knew we overpaid to a degree, you have to to get someone in free agency, but we didn't come cose to getting what we paid for this year."
While forwards Marian Gaborik and Curtis Glencross finished first and fifth respectively in team scoring this year, the duo combined for just 57 goals and 109 points despite receiving $19 million in salary. That represents just under 30 per cent of the team salary cap going to those players, and not nearly enough scoring coming back. Add in $8.5 million for Niklas Backstrom and $5.65 million for defenseman Robyn Regehr and the Blues find themselves very top heavy with salary going forward and not nearly enough to show for it.

The Blues will need a lot more from Marian Gaborik and Curtis Glencross.
While Backstrom and Regehr performed admirably, those four players salary equates to $33.15 million, or over half of the salary cap. As a result, St. Louis is left trying to fill their lower lines with bargain basement salaries, and often the skill level matches the salary.
How St. Louis finds some cap room could be the ultimate question this off-season, as to do so would likely mean one of the big four salaries is on the move.
In the mantime, St. Louis needs to figure how to get more from their unacheiving offense which ranked 26th in goals last season. The powerplay would be a good place to start, as the Blues finished dead last on the man advantage, scoring at just a 10.87 percentage. Gaborik managed just six powerplay tallies all season.
Shots are also an issue, with the Blues finishing 26th in the league in shots for while ranking 24th in shots against. Comparing shots for versus shots against, St. Louis finished 28th, besting only the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks.
"We need to get more pucks to the net," said Gaborik, whose 215 was the top mark on the etam last year. "If we get the puck on net more often, maybe it'll stay out of our end as well."
St. Louis does have some players in the minors who are expected to challenge for a roster spot next season, namely Roman Horak and David Rundblad, but none are likely to stimulate the offense in their first season. With only $450,000 approximately in cap space as well. it's likely to the trading block the Blues shall go this off-season.
David Rundblad - 2009 NHL Draft Portraits
David Rundblad is a future face of the Blues franchise.
"We have to be creative. We don't hve a lot of wiggle room," said Funk.

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WCHL Finals

It all comes down to this...again

For veteran WCHL General Managers, this WCHL Cup final looks awfully familiar. It is also completely expected.

The Calgary Flames and New York Rangers renew acquaintances in the WCHL finals, four years after their last meeting. In Season 11, the Flames took on the Rangers, and in a shocker swept past the New Yorkers to claim the first, and so far only, WCHL Cup by a Canadian team. Calgary now becomes the only Canadian team to reach the WCHL finals twice in league history as well.

The Rangers are hoping the third time is the charm for them. After losing to the Flames, the Rangers returned to the WCHL finals last year only to get beat by the Colorado Avalanche. This year marks the third consecutive year -and fourth time in five years- that a New York based team has reached the finals, yet no New York team has actually ever won the title.

The WCHL traditionally has been home to countless upsets over the years in the post-season, making the Flames and Rangers runs even more remarkable. Both of the top seeded teams in their respective conference have made it to the finals, a rare feat indeed in the WCHL. It almost didn't come to pass after the Flames barely eked out a 4-3 victory in round one over the eighth seeded Columbus Blue Jackets; however both teams have been on a big roll since the first round. Calgary is 9-2 in their last 11 games, with one loss being in overtime, while the Rangers are 9-1 in their last 10 tilts, including four consecutive overtime wins at one point.

This could be a historic series in many ways; all positive for the Flames and all negative for the Rangers should Calgary win. Calgary would become only the third team in WCHL history with multiple cup titles, joining fellow Western Conference teams San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche. It would also mark the only time one team has lost three WCHL finals. With those facts, plus Season 11's finals still fresh in some player's minds, not to mention last year's defeat by the Avalanche, the Rangers have plenty of motivation to run the table on Calgary.

Of interest, this final almost happened last year as well. Calgary did reach the Western Conference final last year and held an early 2-0 series lead over the Avalanche before Colorado stormed back to win four straight games. Suffice to say, expect these two clubs to potentially have multiple WCHL Cup battles in the years to come.

Here's my prediction for the WCHL Cup final:

(1) Calgary Flames vs. (1) New York Rangers- The battle of the best is set to begin, as two of the most consistent and deep teams in the WCHL set to battle in what is arguably the best WCHL Finals on paper.

And while those games aren't played on paper, it's hard to figure out who will have an edge in this series. Going by the regular season, the Rangers have an edge, claiming the Presidents' Trophy with a dominating 126-point season and a 59-15-8 record. While Calgary finished third overall with 118-points and a 58-22-2 record, the Rangers had to battle through an ultra-tough Eastern Conference that featured eight teams with at least 100 points. Calgary meanwhile had their conference all but sown up by the mid-way point.

That's not to belittle the efforts of the Flames, who were very consistent throughout the regular season. While most Western Conference teams faced at least one stumble throughout the season, the Flames had a pair of four game losing streaks but ultimately rolled right through those and remained at the top of the conference pretty much from start to finish. While the Blue Jackets also gave the Flames a challenge, they are clearly back on track after demolishing the Avalanche and knocking off the Los Angeles Kings to reach the finals.

For the Flames, they will need Cam Ward to continue to play like Cam Ward. Shocking many with a mid-season swap of goaltenders with conference rival San Jose, the Flames brought in Western Canada's Cam Ward, and while he was at times shaky in the regular season, Ward has proved his worth in the playoffs, posting a .905 save percentage and a 2.13 goals against average. Also after a so-so regular season, Steven Stamkos has awoken has posted 20 points in 17 games to lead the Flames offense.

As always, the New York Rangers will be led by Henrik Lundqvist in net. The King has been a staple in net for the Rangers and was one of the players General Manager Andrew Don held on to to rebuild the Rangers squad when he took over. Once again not disappointing, Lundqvist has posted a .903 save percentage and a 2.34 goals against average. Johan Franzen meanwhile will be looked on to continue driving the offense, having scored 10 goals and 18 points so far in just 14 games.

While these two teams are built more around a strong defensive game, both clubs have oodles of firepower. Calgary can through Stamkos, Daniel Briere, Mike Richards and Jamie Benn over the boards, only to see Franzen, Anze Kopitar, Stephen Weiss and Thomas Fleischmann hop over on the other side. And if there were two teams which can win a game simply by rotating four strong lines, it would be these two clubs who are both ridiculously deep at virtually every position.

Blair Betts and Adam Pardy - Calgary Flames v New York Rangers
So far this post-season the Rangers have been the best offensive team, scoring 3.64 goals against, while the Flames have been the best defensive team, allowing just 2.18 goals against. Calgary has the best goals for/against ratio, scoring 1.51 goals per every goal they allow. The Rangers are right behind them, sitting second at 1.50. Even on shots the two teams fair pretty evenly, with the Rangers tops in shots for per game while Calgary is tops in shots against per game. The Rangers finished first in shots for/against ratio, taking 1.26 shots for every shot they allowed, with Calgary sitting second at 1.25.

Where there might be a crack in the armour for Calgary could be the special teams. The Rangers boast the second ranked powerplay and best overall penalty kill, as they have been deadly when not playing 5-on-5. Calgary, while not bad, only had the 10th ranked powerplay and fourth ranked penalty kill. That could be balanced out though by the fact Calgary is the third least penalized team this post-season, while the Rangers are the fourth most penalized.

Heading in Calgary's favor is the hitting game, something which has been the Flames bread and butter for years. Calgary ranked second in the post-season in hits per game, while the Rangers rank 11th. If physicality wins the series, Calgary should have the edge.

There should be plenty of close games in this series. On sheer star power, the Flames should have an overall edge, while the Rangers figure to have an edge on overall balance and depth. Both advantages are slight though. Expect a few overtime games, some great two-way play and a series which should go down for the ages. The lone real tipping point could be sheer desire and, nothing against the Flames in this department, but the Rangers have a lot of pent up emotions after twice getting denied at this stage. New York Rangers in six.

ACHL Cup finals:

(3) Peoria Rivermen vs. (4) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in five.

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30 Teams in 30 Stories

Jumping the Shark

In years past, the San Jose Sharks were the WCHL. Few teams could hold a candle to the Sharks, who ran rampant through the WCHL's Western Conference, claiming divisional and conference titles at will before winning the Western Conference championship five straight times at one point. Their dynasty ended with three WCHL Cup titles and a permanent ranking as the first dynasty of the WCHL, if not the greatest dynasty ever.
Today, it's not as if the Sharks have fallen into the abyss, but the days of dominance have faded away somewhat. While San Jose finished second in the Western Conference and again claimed the Smythe Division title with a 106 point season, going 49-25-8 along the way, that success once again could not be translated into post-season success. After two straight years of being bounced in the first round of the playoffs, this year San Jose reached the second round before being knocked off by the Los Angeles Kings in six games.
"It's not what we wanted, for sure," said Sharks GM Kurt Fulmore. "We really felt we should get to round three this year as a minimum, but we weren't able to get past Los Angeles. We still have a good core in pace and hopefully next year will be a different story."

Sharks General Manager Kurt Fulmore, seen here during game five action in round two against the Los Angeles Kings, says things can improve from within for the team.
Round three wasn't just a pipe dream for San Jose. Aside from a 7-2 beatdown in game three of the series with Los Angeles, the Sharks and Kings other five games were all decided by one goal, including a pair of overtime victories by the Kings.
"We split those overtime games instead of losing both and it's game seven then, and anything can happen in a game seven. I'd have liked our chances in a game seven," said centre Jonathon Toews who finished the playoffs with five goals and nine points in 11 games.

Jonathan Toews feels like the Sharks were much closer to another cup run than most people realize.
So really, the Sharks aren't to far away. With a youthful line up filled with the likes of Toews, Tyler Seguin, Chris Stewart, Zach Bogosian and Jared Cowen, and several solid prospects in the minors and developmental leagues, the Sharks are still more than capable of regaining elite status in the WCHL.
"We're still there. Some rules that have come into place over the years make it harder to stay that good, and easier for the lower teams to rebuild and move forward, which is good for the league, but for us, we just need to overcome those and move forward," assessed Fulmore. "We can do that."
Oddly enough, the lone area of concern for the Sharks is their discipline. Traditionally a good character team, the Sharks finished 26th in penalty minutes this year but taking 17.46 per game. That only increased in the playoffs where they were the second most penalized team in the post-season, taking 20.55 penalty minutes per game.
Not surprising then, that Los Angeles scored eight of their 21 goals with the man advantage, including two game winning goals, one of which was in overtime. Discipline alone could turn around San Jose misfortune.
Five players in total on San Jose averaged more than two penalty minutes per game, including three defensemen. Bogosian led the way with 40 in just 11 games.

Zach Bogosian, seen here in his Atlanta Thrashers days, will need to show more discipline on the ice after piling up 40 penalty minutes in just 11 games for San Jose, taking almost one-quarter of the teams total penalty minutes in the playoffs.
"I do take some responsibly on myself for that," said Bogosian. "Maybe if I stayed out of the box more often, things could have been different for the team."
Maybe things will be different next year as well. San Jose is in unfamiliar territory these days, playing as the team that is failing to live up to expectations. It will be interesting to see how long that continues.

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30 Teams in 30 Stories

In the Pitts
Profiles in Coaching: Michel Therrien
Don't expect much change to the Pneguins line up for next year, despite the rough post-season.
After several years of extended playoff runs, the Pittsburgh Penguins find themselves facing a longer then normal off-season.
The Season 12 WCHL champions were bounced from the opening round of the playoffs in just five games by the Montreal Canadians. It was the first time in several years the Penguins failed to move past the first round.
"It was tough to swallow for sure" said Patrick Matthews, before breaking into laughter after a fan in the background yelled "That's what she said."
It was the only laughing Matthews has done since the playoffs started. A strong finish to the regular season seen the Penguins overcome a tough first half to finish with home ice in the opening round and a 114 point season in a very tough Eastern Conference. None of that mattered in the playoffs, where the club allowed 19 goals to Montreal, getting soundly beaten in the process.
It will be interesting to see if the Penguins make any moves of significance in the off-season. On one hand they don't really need to, with a largely vetern yet still youthful team returning for next year. On the other hand, the club as always has a great influx of youth coming up from the farm, including the likes of Vyacheslav Voynov, Roman Josi, Artem Anisimov, David Savard, Matt Martin and Patrice Cormier. While only one or two will actually push for a roster spot, with there likely to be no change to the salary cap bringing up a young player or two could give Pittsburgh some flexibility to make other moves.

Sidney Crosby is expecting big things next year.
Expect Pittsburgh to push to add a veteran top four defenseman, and maybe upgrade at backup goaltender, but for the most part Pittsburgh looks set to try and overcome this hiccup of a post-season.
"We need to be ready to bring it and I think this year we got to much confidence from our finish to the regular season and from how well we've done in the past in the playoffs, esepecially the first round," noted star centre Sidney Crosby. "We can't let that happen again, it's what sunk us."
Pittsburgh really wants to have one more long run next year, as it could be the last for star forward Teemu Selanne. The Finnish stud has toyed with retirement in recent years, but would be coming back on a strong note after leading the team in scoring with 85 points, including a team high 58 assists.
"It was disappointing to go out like we did after so much hope, but we know we have the group in place to go all the way and it'll be interesting to see if we are able to build off of this," said Selanne, adding he won't make any final commitment on if he's going to retire or not until closer to training camp.

Will he be back or won't he? That's the biggest off-season question for the Penguins and Teemu Selanne.
Selanne's loss would be a big blow to Pittsburgh, and leave some serious question marks on the wings. Selanne only carries with him a cap hit of $3 million as well, meaning there won't be much cap space to fill his spot should he call it a career.
"We hope not to have to cross that bridge but if we must we will," said Matthews, adding that the club has a plethora of draft picks and prospects to use as bait.
In the meantime, the team will digest this defeat, and use the extra time off to refresh themselves for a better playoff push next year. It's likely only a matter of time before the Penguins manage to return to the top of the heap in the WCHL.

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