Every Monday, the FTR crew will review the biggest hockey news from the past week.
-Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, are there any significant winners or losers following the week's activity?
Bob: I don't think there were any significant winners or losers. I do like Washington's pickups of Joe Corvo, Scott Walker, Eric Belanger, and Milan Jurcina because they should make an already loaded team, even better. The Penguins didn't obtain a superstar, but Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jordan Leopold should help. And I really like the Phoenix additions, although I don't see them going further than the opening round of the playoffs.
Mike: I think for depth purposes, Pittsburgh got some solid additions. Washington's additions add grit and secondary depth and that can only help, but part of me thinks that it'll be an excess of moves that won't contribute too much. I agree with Cory on Raffi Torres -- he's the perfect two-way gritty depth forward needed for a strong playoff run. For the long term, I'm thinking that the Phoenix/Colorado swap of Peter Mueller and Wojtek Wolski will be good for both teams.
FrankD: I think the Caps, Coyotes and Pens walk away winners. I thought the Flyers would be in need of a goalie at the deadline but a ton of no-trade clauses leaves them a loser in my book.
Bob: I have about as much confidence in Huet as Bob Gainey had. But I don't have much confidence in the Washington netminders either. If either of those teams win the Cup, it most likely will not be because of goaltending. But anyone could get hot.
Mike: We've seen teams win the Cup with steady but unspectacular goaltending. The problem is that those situations require the netminders to just make the obvious saves, and it usually comes with a high-powered offense. Chicago and Washington's skaters can fulfill their end of the bargain, but I see both Huet and Theodore as letting in softies at the wrong time. Niemi is an x-factor, though; sometimes, unknown goalies play out of their minds and frustrate everyone they face.
FrankD: If I have to pick any of the four guys to backstop my playoff run, I'm taking Niemi. I like that whole unknown factor, as Mike mentioned above.
-The Carolina Hurricanes continue their torrid play following Eric Staal's captaincy. They're only a handful of points out of a playoff spot, though there are plenty of teams to leapfrog. Can they make a miracle comeback?
Bob: The Hurricanes have come a long way, can they keep winning? They have won 13 of their last 17 and might have to do even better than that in their next 17. My gut tells me no, that is too much of a hill to climb.
Mike: If you're going by the general consensus that you need 93-95 points to make the playoffs, then the Canes have to win 16 of their next 17 with 17 games left. The intriguing thing for me is that the bunch-up from 7th to 13th involves a bunch of inter-divisional rivals (Montreal and Boston; Tampa, Atlanta, Florida, and Carolina). If the chips fall right and those teams fail to create a standout while the Canes remain hot, then there is an outside chance. Regardless, they should be happy with the effort considering the injuries early on.
FrankD: Much to their credit they aren't playing like the Carolina team that started the season, but I'm afraid October and November put them in too big a hole to climb out of.
-Which minor deadline move will we look back on as being a sleeper hit?
Bob: It was a minor deal, but I think Raffi Torres is a perfect match for the Sabres.
Mike: If Fredrick Modin can be healthy for the Kings, he's shown to be a very effective playoff performer. He's got a reputation as a solid locker room guy, has a booming shot, and can play in all situations. The key, of course, is that he's gotta be healthy.
FrankD: I can't pinpoint which, but I'd have to say one of the moves the Caps made. Had either of them been the only move at the deadline, I'd say the Caps didn't do much to bulk up the roster heading into the playoffs. But each little move contributes in its own special way that kind of makes me think they each stand as a sleeper pick of sorts. So while I'd like to say Raffi Torres like the majority here, I'm instead just going to go with a very vague reference and say one of those moves.
-Early returns on Versus broadcasts show a post-Olympic bump in ratings. What can the NHL do to sustain the momentum?
Bob: For starters, they could ensure that every league game is televised?
Joe F: Yeah this DirecTV/Versus thing needs to get fixed before we can expect to see any real changes.
Mike: Well, for one they could hope that the whole stupid DirecTV/Versus thing gets resolved. Outside of that, I think playoff match-ups and performance will do more for capturing the casual fans who were captivated by the Olympics. It's easy for the casual fan to get into something like a hyped Pittsburgh/Washington playoff showdown, but will they tune in to see a Phoenix/Nashville first round series? Probably not. The NHL lucked out last year with the way the playoff match-ups came around; they can only hope to be so lucky this year coming off the Vancouver 2010 momentum.
FrankD: If they want to work out a TV deal with a network, fine. But right now the extra coverage and attention on SportsCenter is a start, even if it does come off as contrived at times. Enough of people watched it to a point where enough will remain interested. I think the NHL was pretty considerate to those new fans when they offered up a free week of Center Ice following the Olympics.