So we’re back for week two of “Hot or Not” and it’s a fairly straight forward week. As we all know, the final game of the season was played, and the Blackhawks are the last team standing. Well done Chicago, the playoff performance was impressive and they certainly earned the trophy. Even if the win in the finals was less dominating than it should have been.
Now, who’s hot?
1. Chicago Blackhawks – OK, so this isn’t really a “who,” and is something of a cop out, but screw it. This is my column and I’ll do what I want. If you don’t like it, feel free to rage in the comments section (and really, if it gets you that worked up… learn to loosen up). Anyway, the ‘hawks managed to end a 49 year long Cup drought, ending the series in 6 games with an overtime win in the final game. Well done. The Blackhawks deserve a round of applause.
2. Jonathan Toews – Do I need to explain? OK, well to be fair his performance in the finals was less than awe-inspiring. Nonetheless, Toews added a Conn Smythe trophy to his ever expanding trophy shelf to accompany his Gold Medal (damnit) and Stanley Cup. Well, I guess he’s not probably keeping the Cup on his shelf, but maybe he’ll get one of those cool little replicas. The dude led playoff scorers and helped the Blackhawks surge through a tough Western Conference, and into the finals against the upstart Flyers. In all, a good performance and deserving of his spot on the list.
3. Antti Neimi – He’s the Stanley Cup winning goaltender, which should be enough to get him on the list. But Neimi performed very well in the final moments of regulation (as well as much of the rest of the game) and helped keep the Blackhawks in the game long enough for them to steal the win in OT. No doubt there will still be rumors about the quality of goalkeeping in Chicago, but Neimi has done enough to silence the rumors for at least a few weeks. It will be a welcome respite for the poor under siege keeper. And he’ll only have the Stanley Cup to console him. Pity.
1. Philadelphia Flyers – Yea they did well, and they certainly dramatically overachieved in these playoffs. While some experts did predict their appearance in the final at the beginning of the season, it looked like a lost cause during the first half of the season and it took an OT win in the final game of the season to even MAKE the playoffs. My best approximation is that they were better than the awful start, but not as good as the playoffs seemed to indicate. For the next several months, the Flyers are loser. Bummer to be losers, and sure it could have been worse, but still. Losers.
2. Chris Pronger - He was unable to do this on his own. He tried to carry the team, but the weight ultimately made him collapse and he failed to live up to the necessary level in the last two games. The last two games which cost him a Stanley Cup. For my part I’m pleased. I dislike Pronger more than just about any other player in the game. So I’m glad to have him in this list, and if it weren’t for my appreciation of symmetry he’d be #1.
3. Michael Leighton – So we’re going with the parallel lists today, though I promise that was unintentional. If Neimi silenced at least some of the critics with his win, Leighton has only made them worse. Some truly terrible goals allowed, including the game-winner in game 6 mean that Leighton’s time in Philly may be coming to a close. It’s hard to say so soon, but with Turco and other keepers on the FA market, the Flyers will likely be looking for a consistent upgrade.