Puck Podcast – May 31st, 2008

In this week’s episode of the Puck Podcast we recap the first three games of the Stanley Cup Finals and preview the remainder of the series. We also hold our first ever Fan Face-Off as a Red Wings and Penguins fan talk some hockey and some trash with each other. We’re joined by Kings goalie and Puck Podcast Playoff Correspondent Jason LaBarbera to get his thoughts on the Finals, the disappearance of Evgeni Malkin, Gary Roberts impact on the series and the importance of scoring first. We’ll also talk about the tragic death of Canucks defenseman Luc Bourdon and the rest of the week in hockey.

MP3 File

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About Doug Stolhand 26982 Articles
Doug Stolhand is one of the co-founders and co-hosts of the Puck Podcast and has been a member of the NHL media since the show's inception in 2006.

56 Comments

  1. Awesome show! Probably one of the best ever! The best part was the Fan Face Off! I don’t know who those two guys were but you might think about getting them on the payroll! Nice job.

  2. So, the Wings looked like crap tonight in my opinion. Their passes kept missing, Datsyuk was shooting wide from 50 feet out looking like Chelios, the Wings kept taking penalties and retaliating when Pittsburgh actually got one… but then Fleury lets in a softy from Jiri Hudler, the Wings win, and you can wash the fork and get ready to put it right in the Penguins.

    Also, I feel like I’ve been around a lot of premature deaths lately (myself and two co-workers had deaths in the family), so my thoughts go out to Bourdon’s family.

    Lastly: Cuba (KYOO-bah), not Kooba 🙂

  3. on the Fan Faceoff, I was hoping for my arguments and heated debate from the Red Wings and Penguins Fans last night.

  4. Great show. The Fan Face Off was a nice touch. To be honest I thought that Mark was a 12-year-old so it was good to hear his voice.

  5. Doug – I want to return to the coaching discussion regarding Mike Babcock. Very few people have mentioned that the real reason is ahead in the Finals is that Mike Babcock has out-coached the Penguins. What evidence do I have? First, keep in mind that Mike Babcock has drilled into the Detroit forwards that their first responsibility is DEFENSE and they never leave their check on the opposing team. Match that against Pittsburgh where, at one point in the game, Malkin allowed the forward he was checking to skate freely into the Pittsburgh zone while he went to the bench for a change. This is the lack of discipline that loses games and Cups. Second, please note that Babcock is managing his bench much better than Therrien. Babcock believes in short shifts for his forwards so that they can maintain the energy necessary for his aggressive, forechecking style. Therrien leaves his players out much too long and, as a result, they get tired (especially Malkin). To back up my theory I have calculated the average shift time in Game 4 for several players. For Detroit: Datsyuk-39.3 sec; Zetterberg-43.5 sec; Cleary-39.5 sec; Filppula-40.0 sec; Draper-32.3 sec. For Pittsburgh: Malkin-66.9 sec; Crosby-54.4 sec; Hossa-57.6 sec. So, you can see that Babcock is doing a much better job of balancing his bench and is using all 4 lines, although the 4th line less than the others. (Note the game winning goal was scored by the 4th line). Therrien is relying on his star players and is doing a poor job of balancing his bench. I’m still working on convincing you that Babcock is the Coach of the Year and, when the selection is made by the NHL, I think you’ll find agreement with me.

  6. Great show as usual guys. My favorite podcast. A few comments though.

    Malkin says he’s tired. From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Malkin, speaking entirely in English, said yesterday he had “no problem” with Therrien’s decision to separate he and Sykora from regular left wing Ryan Malone.

    “I’m just tired,” said Malkin, who has scored one goal and totaled two points in his past five games. “Practice is long. The season is long. I feel bad.”

    In reference to the firing/hiring of Tortorella/Melrose, I was trying to figure out the connection. I had read that Melrose was friends with Oren Koules, Hollywood producer of the Saw series and likely new owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Here’s what I’ve found. Oren Koules owns a minor hockey league team in the Northern Pacific Hockey League called the Helena Bighorns. The president of the team is Mike Butters, whom Koules met in Hollywood and played along side in a mens hockey league in L.A. Anyway, Butters briefly played for the Adirondack Red Wings in the AHL during the Calder Cup winning season of 1991-1992. The team was coached by…Barry Melrose. I know it’s a stretch, but it’s something.

    Just like Doug was talking about tampering by negotiating through the media, I saw this about the Lightning and Melrose. A report in Wednesday’s Ottawa Sun speculated that Melrose would sign a three-year, $6 million contract with the Lightning when Koules takes over.

  7. Mat: Classy

    Clark: Here, here. Babcock is an enormous reason they are where they are. Listen to Jason LaBarbera from today’s podcast saying how Babcock is the smartest coach he’s ever known.

    Here’s to a blowout Monday, competition be damned, let’s get this over and let Malkin rest.

  8. I got it! I’ve finally figured out where I’ve seen Matthew’s screen name. I saw it on a cute little show on Dateline NBC called “To Catch a Predator” with Chris Hansen. Mat, how much internet time does the warden give you/day and is it influenced on how well you treat the hacks?

  9. I didn’t mean my statement to be an insult. I honestly thought that you were in your early teens. No one can claim that you are not a fan of your team that is for sure. As far as the warden, my wife yells at me to get off the computer sometimes if that counts, although I don’t seem to get any merits for good behavior.

    In regards to Malkin we saw this last season but then when he went to play for Russia he was all the sudden re-invigorated. When you look back at some of his odd behavior prior to coming to the US it makes a person wonder if there is a depression problem or something else going on mentally with Malkin.

    I said it in a few shows back when the show was considering Malkin better than Crosby that he just doesn’t show up for games sometimes. He has the potential to be the best player in the NHL. I really hope that he doesn’t turn out to be Yashin-lite. He will never be the total failure that was Yashin but he has so much potential that at this point is going to be wasted.

  10. Thanks for clarifying.

    I agree completely about Malkin with respect to depression or something that is certainly mental. Some guys have what it takes to go the distance and some don’t, and every one of them that does go the distance talks about the mental part. To say you’re tired is one thing but when you mean mentally tired, you have to wonder what his team is thinking about him and his impact on their future. I assume he makes the plane trip to Detroit but whether he has an impact in game 5 is seriously in doubt after this 15 minute “head in hands” episode he had in the locker room last night. If I were Crosby, it’s time to get him in the back of the plane for a “meet Jesus” meeting. Of course, if the guy’s injured, most of this goes out the window.

  11. I just had the cool experence of seeing Hockey on a 72 in Hi Def TV yesterda at a birthday party. I was the only hockey fan there. I threw on the game and before long I had 12 people watching the game with me and asking me more questions about the game.

    It was really cool just to see the people asking me how old Sid “the diver” Crosby was and why Detroit is called empty arena town oops I meen hockeytown

    I am extreamly excited to be attending the draft for the 9th year in a row and 12 out of the last 13 minus the lockout year.

    If any of you have questions about the draft let me know

  12. I just commented on this on the Pens message board but the kid bought a second ticket at $300 to get back in…

    The Pens should just let Detroit fans pay $300 to throw an animal on the ice and then take that money and give it to the Lemieux Foundation. That way instead of wasting money, a seat, and the life of an innocent creature…. the donations could help children with cancer.

  13. The life of an innocent creature? It’s not like it was killed with the intention of being thrown on the ice. It was going to be eaten. You pay the money for it, you do whatever you want with it. It’d be the same if I went to the grocery store and bought rotisserie chicken and threw it on the ice.

  14. Which doesn’t seem right either… I am not an animal’s right activist and I hunt every year. It would be wrong of me to shoot a deer and just leave it lying in a field to rot. Even if I didn’t need the meet I would still eat it out of respect for the creature. If you are going to take the life of an animal, which is fine, you should at least use it for sustenance, shelter, or something other than a few minutes of morbid entertainment. If you want toss octopi on the ice in America that is your prerogative – exercise your rights however you so wish. I just find it wasteful and disrespectful to the animal. If for throwing the animal $300 went to a charity that would be great.

    I am kind of wierd though. When the lawnmowers come on Saturday I always walk the length of the pond by my place and throw the turtles out of the way.

  15. Great stuff by all. Scott, I was watching Game 4 and saw the shot of the octopus behing picked up on the Igloo ice. Thanks for the link. I’ll read the story on the show this week.

  16. Mathew, I’m all for giving money the money to charity. I think that Mike Ilitch should just tell Al Sobotka to twirl the octopus around and pay the $10,000 fine. It all goes to charity anyway. He can certainly afford it, with the raised ticket prices and all. And I’m guessing that it’s tax deductible? Come on Mike!

  17. What a great show, Doug and Eddie. The Fan Face Off proves how committed you guys are to this being a fine product for the fans. And good to hear Mark in Hockeytown – even more well-spoken ‘in person’. Both guys were great to listen to. And Mark calling Game 4 proves his knowledge of the game and this series.

    I am 45 and a motorcycle rider for 22 years. Not a lot of traffic or twisties in Wichita, but always a dangerous, vulnerable activity. My thoughts and sympathy to Luc Bourdon’s family and friends.

  18. I LOVED the Fan Face-Off segment. It wouldn’t be as good if it was just 2 fans going at eachother, but with Doug and Eddie mediating (and somewhat provoking), it made for a good listen.

    Nice work to all of you.

  19. 11:46 and the game just ended. What a game. Great job to both teams. I feel blessed to be a fan. Detroit is so good and the game was stole by MAF.

  20. Doug cursed us with his post about this thing going 7 games! Now, I am in agreement and have no idea who will win a game 7 as I’ve said many times. The Wings were nervous in the first period and did not come out with the intensity a champion would display in an elimination game. Ozzy was awful tonight, as was Franzen and the refs. I think we can now fairly say that ALL goalies fall down like a lead balloon after Fleury’s 3 dives in OT. The Red Wings had every chance to put this away and Fleury kept them in time and again. I won’t give the Pens credit, I blame the Wings, they simply blew it.

  21. The two interference calls in OT were questionable but Fleury didn’t dive. Should the refs have called the interference penalties? Probably not. The only defense that I can give is that even if contact is unavoidable you need to make an attempt to slow or stop which did not happen. Luckily both penalties were killed and other than taking away offensive time from the Wings it didn’t affect the outcome of the game.

    Detroit’s defensive game is too good for the Pens to take 3 in a row. Everywhere but the scoreboard and between the pipes the Pens were outclassed. The Pens almost never, even during a penalty, had control of the puck in their zone. They had to dump it in, get it in front of the net, and hope for good things to happen.

    One thing that I find interesting is that the Pens don’t even try to control the puck in the neutral zone. when they pass it up the receiver will simply redirect the pass to avoid an icing call and then the Pens try to regain control of the puck. You used to see that in the 90’s but I have not seen it used regularly in quite somme time.

    One last note is towards the end of the game Malkin took a soft hit on the ribs right where he got hit in the series against the Flyers. He went down like a ton of bricks. It may have been fatigue as to why he got up slowly but it also hints at him hiding an injury.

  22. Right on, Mark. Pens don’t deserve any credit.

    Playing without their top defenseman, tying the game when their season was nearly 30 seconds away from being over, weathering shot after shot …

    Yes, the refs weren’t perfect, but they never will be — the game’s too fast. The important thing is their calls (or noncalls, as in the case when Staal’s stick was slashed in half right in front of a ref, who at least was nice enough to pick up the pieces) didn’t impact the outcome of the game.

    That game was epic. Let’s talk about the performance, not officiating.

    … BTW, gotta love Sykora telling Pierre McGuire he was going to score the game-winner.

  23. Here is a funny story that I heard about Pierre McGuire. Earlier in the season Pierre accused Crosby of embellishment after a high stick to which Crosby showed McGuire the black marks on his mouthpiece from the tape of the stick. Now this is completely hearsay from someone who sits by the players — but from what he tells me Ruutu and some of the other Pens now talk smack to McGuire from time to time when he is between the benches.

  24. Brian: Glad you finally agree with me, they don’t deserve any credit. As Mathew stated, the Wings dominated 5 of the 6 periods in this game. At no time were the Pens in control. You had one player do well last night, we all know who he was even though he’s a flopper. I don’t imagine they can keep cheating death, at some point the reaper gets you.

  25. Hubris, thy name is Mark in Hockeytown.

    I don’t know about most of the Puck Podcast listeners, but if I were to say a team “dominated” play for 5/6ths of a game, I’d expect that team to win handily.

    It’s no wonder Detroit has to play such great team defense. A .875 save percentage with the Stanley Cup on the line certainly needs all of the help it can get.

  26. Professor Brian: Enjoying that thesaurus from Christmas I see. Call it what it is, arrogance, we can afford to be that way here. Maybe after getting in the postseason for a decade in a row you might be entitled to that. I don’t know what game you were watching but your team was skating all over themselves for 5 of the 6 periods. The period I’m giving you was the first where the Wings were clearly nervous. But, as usual, the Pens failed to capitalize. Interesting that other than you in Pittsburgh, everyone else including Don Cherry and Melrose, etc. see no possibility in your birds winning the series, this is after yesterday’s OT blunder. Here’s to the refs calling Fleury for embellishing next game and us putting you where you belong.

  27. Good, good. Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you.

  28. As an unbiased hockey fan, I have a few comments:

    Fleury was trying to draw (dive) many calls in OT, that said, he was awesome. He committed highway robbery on Samuelsson during the 2 on 1 that injured Gonchar and stoned Cleary in the 2nd OT.

    I though Ozzie played decent. Hossa scored stick side. A power play goal and the 6 on 5 goal. Kronwall own goaling off Hall’s skate didn’t help matters.

    The refs did miss/blow a few penalties on both sides. The slash on Staal, the blown call on Datsyuk for a trip on Staal, and IMO, Franzen was interfered with when he passed in front of Fleury as the puck was going around the boards. He had never come close to touching the puck. The goalie interference on Cleary in the 2nd OT was a big buncha bull.

    Malone was gutsy coming back after being pucked in the face. The dude had a broken nose already!

    Mark, you say the Wings deserve all the blame and Pittsburgh doesn’t deserve any credit, but you yourself admitted that Fleury saved the day. I think the Pens deserve an awful lot of credit for not losing their composure after giving up 3 unanswered goals.

    Brian, you say lets not talk about the officiating, but you can’t help complain about the missed slash call on Staal’s stick. I agree, the game is fast and calls are going to be missed. The blown calls do stand out a little more during the playoffs.

    I don’t understand how everyone says that the missed calls didn’t have an impact on the outcome of the game. How do we know that either team wouldn’t have scored. Pittsburgh is almost 22% on the PP and Detroit is 18%. Plus, the Wings have 6 SHG to the Pens 1 in the playoffs.

    Here’s hoping to a great game 6 and possible exciting game 7 for the cup.

    OK, I’m done.

  29. Any Darth Vader reference is a good reference. Forget the hope for a game 7, don’t want it, don’t need it, let’s end it. I already admitted that Fleury was their best player, short of that, no one stood out but the refs. Malkin has moved from a missing persons resport to the side of a milk carton, but it’s progress.

  30. Detroit will take the Cup tonight. Just 36 seconds away from winning the Stanley Cup and to let it get away to lose in 3OT, they will not let it again. The Red Wings will take it tonight.

  31. Tanner: I am in agreement. There is no panic in Detroit or their coach. Detroit has outplayed them in every game, even the one’s they lost and they know it. As I said yesterday, eventually, this works itself out. It will end tonight.

  32. @Mark in Hockeytown: Regarding Malkin, I dunno if it’s necessarily a huge concern for the future if he’s mentally and/or physically fatigued after playing over 100 games in a season for the first time in his life. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that Zetterberg and Datsyuk weren’t considered playoff material, so I think that for now, anyway, there’s just not enough here to judge him harshly, injured or not.

    Also, missing Game 5 makes me very sad.

    Finally, I was originally going to put this in my email to Eddie and Doug, but it’s not very “radio-friendly,” and thought it might prove interesting to a larger audience:

    =====

    Can the hockey world at large please stop laying it on so damned thick regarding Johan Franzen? Has he been an important player for the Wings during these playoffs? Sure. Is he any sort of world-beater, beyond this limited context? I doubt it. I’m looking at this performance, and he’s just not a “special player.” He’s Fernando Pisani with a Swedish birth certificate. Some stats that may interest you:
    **His shooting percentage was 26.2% (27/103) from March 2 to May 8, and 25% (12/48) even in the first three rounds of the playoffs.
    **His shooting percentage the rest of the season was 8.33% (12/144, or approximately 17 goals if extrapolated over his end-season shot total of 199), and in the Finals through five games has been 5.56% (1/18).
    **His shooting percentages in his first two seasons were 10.1% (12/119) and 6.62% (10/151), for a career total of 8.15% (22/270) to that point.

    Now, it’s certainly plausible that he’s made some sort of step forward, but given that his pre-March shooting percentage lines up quite nicely with his first two seasons (as well as the League average, which is normally around 9%), and that his March-to-May shooting percentage is more than triple that figure, I’m thinking this little hot streak has been precisely that, and little more. I would lay down good money that he doesn’t come close to beating this season’s 27-goal output next year. (As an aside, I’d be willing to look up “San Fernando”‘s shooting percentage stats if you’d like, as a basis of comparison, but I’m willing to bet I’d find something eerily familiar, in terms of spike magnitude.)

    =====

    I’m sure someone might take exception, or think I’m picking on Franzen, so I’ll also take aim at Mike Ribiero of the Dallas Stars. Yes, he’s always had a fairly high shooting percentage (14.5% career mark, 19.4% peak prior to this year), but 25.2% is entirely out of whack, and almost certainly an outlier. I predict he’ll also take a step or two back in goal production next year, unless he can somehow find a way to top his career mark of only 130 shots.

  33. The rub on Malkin is fair. When Zetterberg and Datsyuk were taking flack as new players, it was that they were offensive powerhouses in the regular season and couldn’t produce in the playoffs. The difference with Malkin is that he’s just not tough mentally or physically to make it for the entire post season–he said it himself. This is why so many players dump the NHL and go play overseas, they play less games and have longer careers. With respect to Franzen, after your first paragraph, I fell asleep as stats tend to do that to me. Detroit loves Franzen because he’s a unique blend of scoring touch and hands with a physical side that makes him hard to move. The NHL and media like him because they need to grab on to someone each post season and the guy with the most goals normally gets that distinction. He’s good and will get better but he’s on a streak and that’s what post season play is all about.

  34. Good luck to both teams tonight. If the game is anywhere as good as the last three, even as a Pens fan, I will be happy with the outcome. Both teams have left their blood and sweat on the ice and both can hold their heads high when the final buzzer blows.

  35. @Mark: Fair enough. Perhaps I should have left it in the email, after all. As long as the core point is taken, that’s all I was going for.

    As for Malkin, I think mental toughness is certainly an acquirable trait. It can be gained with training and it can be gained with experience, so I don’t think his first deep post-season run, at age 21, is really the time to be writing him off, regardless of what he may be saying now. The Zetterberg/Datsyuk comparison may not be entirely apt, but it is convenient, as a way of showing how experience can smooth out early-career post-season issues.

  36. Jason: Agreed. There is no question that mental toughness can be attained, in fact, it’s rare to possess it at his age in the league. What I’d be concerned about is that he wasn’t “coached” through what this would be like at this stage. There is no excuse for that, after all, that’s what veterans do at this time of year. Maybe the language barrier is a problem but I guess it’s time to let the guy off the hook and look towards next season. You only become experienced over time.

  37. Mathew, that “let the hate flow” post made me laugh out loud. Mark, that was NOT a Darth Vader reference. Any self respecting nerd knows it was The Emperor that uttered that classic line to Luke Skywalker. In less important news, congrats to the Red Wings. They are an amazing team. There are a lot of guys on that team I don’t care for but Nicklaus Lidstrom is not one of them. He is a class act, a hell of a player and a worthy captain.

  38. My God! What a mistake, you’re right, and I love those movies! This will be fun the next few weeks seeing these guys around town with the Cup, great series! Not the most exciting game but for me, glad it’s over. Considering that much of the game was played 7 on 5 (5 Penguins plus two refs vs. 5 Wings)it turned out well. In all seriousness, anyone to ever wear the stripes has got to be embarrassed after those officials called what they called, another horrific game by the refs.

  39. Congrats to all Red Wings fans and espically to Mark in Hockeytown. Even though it’s kind of reletcunt because the Red Wings defatted my home town Stars. But, don’t worry, I think my Stars will be back winning the Cup soon.

  40. Grats Wings. They were such a great team this year.

    To think that the Pens accomplished what they did this season after being in last place just two season ago…

    Crosby 20
    Malkin 21
    Staal 19
    Fleury 23
    Letang 21
    Kennedy 21
    Talbot 24

    Pretty amazing.

  41. I have to agree with all of this. The Pens were fantastic and are a team to contend with in the future, no question whatsoever. Their youth and skill combined at this point are impressive and their time will come, soon. Dallas was also a force. The addition of Richards was perfect and let’s not forget, they defeated arguably the two best teams or favored teams along the way. This was a great season overall and I hope has put hockey into the national discussion a bit more.

  42. It just came out that Malkin had the flu for the first part of the series.

  43. Congrats to the Wings. And to the Penguins for that matter. What a series.

    Malkin had the flu, Crosby had injured ribs and groin. It seems the losers always have to provide the media with the some of the reasons they think they didn’t win. Hockey players play with injuries…period.

    Fans of both teams will always complain about poor officiating. Truth is, both teams had some terrible calls made against them. And as usual the NHL guys, Bettman especially, will defend the refs. I can’t wait to listen to the NHL Hour this week to see what Bettman will say. Better yet, I already know what he will say. Blah, blah, blah, the calls were justified.

  44. The reason why I noted that Malkin had the flu is because people were wondering why he went from the top performer in the playoffs to invisible. I don’t think that Crosby or any of the Penguins have given excuses. You hear about it after the end of the playoffs because if you release it during teams are going to take advantage of the situation.

    Incidentally I hadn’t heard the part about Crosby, in fact in an interview he was asked if he had an injury bugging him and he said no. That might have changed between last night and today though…

  45. @Mark: “Maybe the language barrier is a problem…”

    You wouldn’t think so, necessarily, with Gonchar there, but I guess you don’t get the full effect of Gary Roberts shouting, “Let’s go, boys, big shift here!” if it’s translated. 😉 Perhaps some English classes are in order.

    And while I’ve got your attention, congratulations on the win, and good on the Penguins for making it interesting in the last four games (especially the last two — holy hell that was close), though next time, I would advise the Pens to make a careful note of the schedule; I don’t think they fully realized that the series started on the road, unlike their previous ones.

  46. Jason: Thanks, I had nothing to do with it but it’s great to have the Cup back. I don’t mean to add fuel to the Pens fire but I’d recommend one additional thing: Michelle ought to replay the press conferences from Mike Babcock throughout not only their series, but all of the Wing’s series and take a lesson from Mike. He is arguably the most well-spoken coach in the NHL today. He makes no excuses, never whines, always give the other team credit, etc. This is in stark contrast to Michelle whining from game one to game six about everything. That display gives your players NO CONFIDENCE and in reality, backfired on him. He had a great role model in this series, he should take advantage of it.

  47. So, does Babcock making it after a near miss last year and by winning game 6 on the road, finally give him the edge for the Adams trophy? Besides, he even remembered “That guy’s” name. Admirable.

  48. Mathew, I wasn’t specifically saying that the Pens were making excuses. It was more of a stab at the media for trying to get the losing team to justify the loss by find out what injuries they had. I haven’t heard anything from the Wings as far as what injuries they were playing with.

    Dave, I still don’t think Babcock shouldn’t win the Adams trophy. It’s gotta be Boudreau. The awards are supposed to be for the regular season only. I understand that the Caps are in the Southeast, but to take your team from a mid season coaching change with a losing record and last place, to winning your division. Wow.

    Anybody watching the AHL finals? You could watch the Penguins lose again! The Chicago Wolves are up 3-0 on the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. Game 4 is tomorrow night at 7:30pm EDT on the NHL Network. It’s been a great series, except for the 3-0 lead. Gritty (sometimes dirty with a few slew foots), a few fights and a lot of hard hits.

  49. All voting for awards is done before the playoffs start so a game 6 win on the road will not have effect.

  50. I haven’t heard anything from the Wings as far as what injuries they were playing with.

    Turns out Franzen had a subdural hematoma. And for those of you who watch CSI and the like, yes, that is what you think it is; obviously, this was less severe than the sort you usually hear of on crime shows.

  51. Scott and Mathew – Thanks for the education on the trophy voting. And yes, Washington did have an amazing turn around this year.

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