Some notes from the Stanley Cup Final:
The Kings started every series on the road and won both games each time, something that was unprecedented. They beat the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd seeds in the conference with only one series going six games (New Jersey.)
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick had a 1.41 gaa and a .946 save percentage.
GM Dean Lombardi built the Kings through the draft (Dustin Brown-2003, Anze Kopitar and Quick-2005, Thomas Hickey-2007, Drew Doughty #2 overall-2008. He augmented the team--Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene-2008, Willie Mitchell-2010.
In 2009 he began bringing in Stanley Cup winners with the trade for winger Justin Williams CAR, 2006.) Lombardi also signed unrestricted free agent Rob Scuderi (PIT, 2009) that same season. He also picked up Colin Fraser (CHI, 2010) in 2011.
Last off-season Lombardi went all-in up-front by trading two talented youngsters to Philadelphia for Mike Richards on June 23. On July 2 he augmented his scoring by signing Philadelphia UFA Simon Gagne. He completed the Flyers triumvirate by acquiring Jeff Carter. Three top-six forwards added to the line-up.
A masterful job by Lombardi.
There are no former Sabres on the Kings roster, but there were three on the Devils--defenseman Henrik Tallinder, winger Dainius Zubrus and Steve Bernier.
Tallinder was out of the line up until Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. He played well on the second-pairing but was vicimtimized by a strong forecheck throughout Game 6.
Zubrus was a non-factor in the last two rounds of the playoffs with no goals and three assists in 12 games to go along with a minus-four plus/minus rating.
As for Bernier, former Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner's name is being frequently used with Bernier's.
Bernier was a part of the Brian Campbell trade at the deadline back in 2008. He came from San Jose' along with a 1st round pick (Tyler Ennis, #26 overall) for Campbell and a 7th rounder. After a ruckus first game with the Sabres he disappeared and eventually was traded to Vancouver in the 2008 off season for a 3rd rounder in 2009 (Brayden McNabb #66 overall) and a 2nd-rounder in 2010 (traded along with Nathan Paetsch to Columbus for Raffi Torres.)
Known more as an energy player than anything else, Bernier had a severe brain-cramp when he leveled Kings d-man Rob Scuderi from behind. He got a five minute major and a game misconduct.
“From my point of view, I don’t,” Bernier said when asked if the hit deserved a five-minute penalty. “I know he stayed down. It’s a fast game. There are hard hits all over the ice. You want to help your team win.”
The quote came from nj.com, in an article written to defend the player and direct the fans attention from rage to sympathy.
Rage may be a little strong. It's not like Boston in 1986 World Series when an 83 year Championship drought was on the line. The Devils having won three Cups in the last 18 years, took it all in stride as the champions they are.
No matter what anyone might say, though, it was a bone-headed move that cost the Devils the game and the ultimately the series. The Kings scored three goals on the power play which meant that the Devils needed four goals vs. Quick to win the game. They had scored seven goals total through the first five games.
And so it goes.
The Sabres are heading into the off season with four of the first 44 picks in the draft next weekend.
Director of Amateur Scouting, Kevin Devine, was on WGR yesterday saying that this is the most challenging draft he's had since becoming director.
Among the things he mentioned: injuries to the top prospects, the "Russian factor," and no player breaking from the pack.
Devine considers it a deep, balanced draft going as far to say that there's not much of a difference between their #12 and #21 picks. He also labeled the top five picks as "risky" and used that "risky" when describing the Russian players in the top-five.
The draft is deep with defensemen, an area of strength for the organization, but Devine goes on to say that the team should get two really good players with their first round picks. He mentions that there are some centers up their that look good to the team.
There will be a ton of mock drafts coming out in the next ten days, but Kris Baker of sabresprospects.com had his draft preview up last week. Among the players he has the Sabres looking at with the 12th pick are LW Teuvo Teravainen, D Cody Ceci and LW Pontus Aberg.
It's a good Sabres-centric read and some outstanding work by Baker.
The Sabres shook up the broadcast booth yesterday as well.
Rob Ray will be paired with play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret this season.
Make that Hall of Fame broadcaster, Rick Jeanneret . The long-time Sabres play-by-play man was awarded the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for Broadcasting and will be recognized at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto this November.
Ray will be Jeanneret's partner on the road from the booth and at home from his customary spot between the benches for home games.
He'll be replacing Harry Neale who moves to the studio to join Mike Robitaille for pregame and intermission reports.
Brian Duff will join the Sabres full-time as host for Sabres broadcasts and Kevin Sylvester heads to the WGR studios for a two-hour segment from 10AM to 12 noon called Sabres Hockey Hotline.
Ted Black on the Howard Simon Show this morning discussed the moves also saying that Jeanneret mentioning that he may have taken a little too much time off last season. So it would seem as if there will be more "RJ" this season. Which is good for Sabres fans.
Black also touched upon the needs for the organization mentioning that "they want to be a tougher team to play against," that they want to find "a top forward or top defenseman either through a trade, free agency, development within [the] system or perhaps some of the guys that didn't have the years that they had last year."
No mention of the draft in that statement, specifically no mention of landing a top-three/five impact player to help immediately. Couple that with Devine's "risk" aversion with the top prospects in the draft and it may be safe to say the the Sabres won't be trading into the top-five next week.
On other thing worth mentioning, Black had high praise for what GM Darcy Regier did in the trade with Nashville. He mentioned (without verification, he says) that in the past 30 years there were only 20 trade deadline deals that netted a team a first round pick and Regier got a first-rounder for Paul Gaustad, a "third/fourth line center."
The principals of the Sabres organization, according to Devine, will be meeting at Terry Pegula's place on Wednesday to discuss their plan of attack for this off-season which officially began with the Kings win last night.
Should be an interesting off-season.