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The Penalty Box: Disagreeing with CTN

by Shawn P. Roarke / NHL.com



The Penalty Box crew certainly has their game faces on this week. Nobody, it seems, is brooking any guff from yours truly.

In the course of this mailbag, CTN is called to task – in no uncertain terms – for undervaluing the performances turned in by both Pittsburgh and Colorado in the first round, as described in last week’s Crashing the Net. The pile-on looks a little like the Montreal Canadiens going after Steve Downie of the Flyers, but CTN is a big boy and can handle the rough stuff.

Plus, CTN loves the passion that the playoffs bring and how it manifests itself in these missives. Keep them coming, boys and girls. If you have a rant about something CTN wrote or anything else hockey-related, feel free to drop CTN a line at roarkeblog@nhl.com. Include your name and hometown and you could find yourself in a future edition of the Penalty Box.

Now, let’s get down to business in this week’s mailbag:

***

Hi Shawn,

Love the article. Always good insight.

This time around, however, I found something disagreeable.  This last week (4/25), a gentleman by the name of Tyler wrote in saying that the Avalanche don't get the respect and recognition they deserve. You said that all sports fans feel shortchanged when it comes to respect and recognition. But seriously, in the four major sports, Colorado is the state that gets the shaft. And with hockey, Tyler's points are correct.

We, and by "we" I mean the Avs, beat Minnesota. And in one game, it wasn't even close. No contest, we took them down.  You said that we are one of the most respected and copied franchises in the NHL. Yeah, we are respected, but that's by other teams, not by the media. We ousted Minnesota in six games, completely dominating at least one game, and we got nothing. No recognition, no article about it, just all about how the other series went. And I checked. Constantly. Looking for some love. And we got nothing.

And this, in the last issue of CTN (4/25), you were handing out your awards. Best defenseman, where is some love?  Even mentioning Adam Foote or Kurt Sauer for completely shutting down Marian Gaborik, is that out of line? I did not watch the other series, but I do know that Foote and Sauer did a remarkable job of shutting Gaborik down, and deserved some sort of acknowledgement. Or what about Ruslan Salei? Was his play not worth mentioning? When I think of defensemen, I think of being able to shut down. And Foote and Sauer did nothing less than shut down and play *gasp* defense against Gaborik. I'm sorry, but if keeping one of the speediest skaters and most skilled players from only getting one assist in six games, including a game where he alone registered nine shots, is quite impressive. Show some love. You don't have to give the award to them by any means. But at least acknowledge their impressive series. 

And for coach, what about Quenneville from the CO as well?  He pieced together a unit that could shut down a high-powered offense, score key goals, and play consistent defense.  He had to figure out what line combos to use, putting Forsberg with who, figuring out what defensive pairings would shut down Minnesota, and find a way to keep his questionable goaltender in Theodore on top of his game.

I will give you credit in saying that Theodore deserves the best goaltender of the last series.  Thank you.  But it was kind of hard to say that a goaltender played any better than Theo.  So that was a given.

Just show some love, man.  Stop hatin' on Colorado.  Start being an unbiased writer.  Do that and I will keep reading. If not, you just lost a reader.

Keep it real.

-- Tyler Black, Durango, CO


Tyler, you want to keep it real? Ok, let’s keep it real. CTN hates to lose readers, but if you feel CTN is hating on Colorado or is biased in reporting, good luck in finding another hockey column to peruse. CTN wishes you the best.

Let’s take your points one at a time and inject a little reality into the equation. You, and by you, CTN means Colorado, played six games against Minnesota and five of them were decided by one goal, including three in OT. That seems like a pretty small margin for domination to me. A bounce here or there and the Avs are singing a different tune, my friend. Now, let’s discuss Gaborik and the masterful job that the Avs’ defensemen did on him. In the six games, Gaborik fired off 24 shots – more than any Avalanche player in the series. Jose Theodore did the job in shutting him down, if you ask CTN. Yes, Foote and Sauer did admirable jobs, but their performance was equaled – if not bettered – by others, including Kimmo Timonen. That may be opinion, but it is opinion that CTN can back up with empirical evidence. The same empirical evidence CTN can use to dismiss your contention that the Avs deserved some extra credit for shutting down a high-powered offense in Minnesota. The Wild scored 223 goals in the regular season, a total that was topped by 16 other teams in the League, including your Avs. Yes, Joel Quenneville did a fine job in neutralizing the Wild, but it was not as impressive as the jobs done by Philadelphia’s John Stevens or Dallas’ Dave Tippett.

Tyler, CTN shows love when love is deserved. There is no favorite-playing here. If that is not what you believe, you should probably move on. But if you can look at things objectively and not through such a myopic point of view, CTN thinks that Crashing the Net is the place for you and all hockey fans. CTN hopes you stick around, but best of luck either way!


***

Shawn,

Jose Theodore has proven his detractors wrong and showed he can be a starting goaltender again. Jose Theodore highlight video
I applaud you on your selections for first-round trophies, especially Jose Theodore for Vezina and runner-up for Hart/Conn Smythe. Theodore came into this season as a man playing for a contract. At the beginning of the season, no one was expecting him to have a job in the League next year, and now he has proven himself and is undoubtedly close to his Hart-winning form. When it comes to the triumphant underdog, it's hard to find a more deserving player than Theodore. His play throughout the first round, most notably shutting down Marion Gaborik, has put the Avalanche into a contender position. He'll have to hold up throughout the series with Detroit (and shake off that illness and that fairly horrid appearance in Game 1) but considering the consistency Theodore has shown in the regular season and into the playoff, I don't believe that will become an issue.
Keep up the great writing, and Let's Go Avalanche!

-- Melissa, Estes Park, CO


Melissa, CTN thought it was Sauer and Foote that shut down Gaborik? Just kidding! You are right, Theodore is one of the feel-good stories of the first round. He was absolutely brilliant at times, evoking crystal-clear memories of the miracles he used to pull off while wearing a Canadiens jersey in his heyday. No matter what happens this round, CTN thinks that Theodore has proven his detractors – and there are many – wrong – and has earned the privilege of being a starting goalie in this League again. It may not be with Colorado, but some team will take a chance on Theodore. His pedigree is far too good for him to be left hanging in the wind. Plus, he is just 32, which means he should be hitting his prime.

***

CTN, let me first say love the column. And to continue with the wonderfully accurate usage of song lyrics throughout the playoffs, I would like to switch gears from rock to country lyrics. Tim McGraw couldn’t have said it better when he said "I like it, I love it; I want some more of it." To me, this accurately depicts the first round. Everything anyone could have wanted to come out of it did, except, of course, a Crosby vs. Ovechkin matchup in the second round (thank you Joffrey Lupul).  Keep up the great work!
-- Rob, Gagetown, NB


Rob, let CTN first say that CTN loved the compliment. And as far as the switch to country lyrics, CTN is always game to go a little country. As long-time readers will attest, CTN has quite the country bent when it comes to music. So CTN is comfortable in that element, as well.

As for your contention that the first round delivered in spades, you are spot on. What wasn’t there to like about Round One? Three Game 7 affairs, including an overtime match between Philadelphia and Washington. Eight other overtime games. Too many one-goal games to count and brilliant individual performances. It was two weeks of sitting on the edge of your seat for far too long and sleeping far too little merely to get the opportunity to do it all over again this round. God, CTN loves playoff hockey!


***

When handing out your awards, you forgot one thing...
Daniel Briere has 11 points, sure, but it took him 8 games to get them! Don't forget the Penguins were the ONLY team to sweep the first round...and after only 5 games Sidney Crosby already has 10 points! Which gives him the HIGHEST average points per game, with Evgeni Malkin following him at No. 2! He also leads the NHL in assists, having played less games! His average assists per game blows everyone else away! Why is it that the Pittsburgh players never get the credit they deserve?

-- Kathy Lynn


Kathy , that’s a lot of exclamation points! Is this unappreciated bug catching? Last week, it was Tyler, followed by this week’s rant from a different Tyler and now you. Nobody ever said that Sidney Crosby wasn’t important or couldn’t contribute to Pittsburgh’s offense. But was he the MVP of the Penguins' first-round win against Ottawa? Hell no! Marc-Andre Fleury was. So if he isn’t even the team’s MVP, how exactly can he be MVP of the entire first round? Let’s put it another way. Do the Penguins win their first-round series without Crosby? There’s no way to tell for sure, but CTN is willing to say that Evgeni Malkin probably has it in him to carry the Penguins past a team that was self-immolating before our very eyes. And would the Flyers have won without Daniel Briere’s contributions? Not likely.  Philadelphia scored 23 goals against Washington and Briere figured in on 11 of them, including scoring a game-winner. CTN doesn’t think that either Crosby or Malkin were overlooked in this discussion. Pittsburgh made it look too easy in the first round to have a legitimate MVP candidate. Trust CTN; Sidney Crosby and the Penguins will get all the credit they deserve in these playoffs. You can count on that.

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