Don't Miss

GUEST BLOG: Nick Howell: Three inches from greatness

Site Note: Nick Howell is one of many that call Cellblock 303 home.  He contacted about posting his thoughts on the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, as well as our former captain Kimmo Timonen.

I would like to take time to congratulate the Chicago Blackhawks on winning the Stanley Cup finally after 49 year old drought. I can’t help but wonder what if the Predators had beaten the Blackhawks how far could we have gone? It is a question that can never be answered.

From my perch in 303, I have watched many good players come and go on the Predators because of the team’s budget low. I would like to focus on one player that was traded away to due to salary issues: Kimmo Timonen #44! There has been heavy debate among the loyal season ticket holders of section 303 whether we would be better off if the Predators had kept our one time captain.

I do not deny that Kimmo was a good player for the Predators and is for the Flyers. The Fin is also an Olympian and a NHL All Star; furthermore, the Flyer has stayed virtually healthy his entire career, which is hard for any hockey player to do. Since leaving the Predators he has totaled 44 points (8g 36a) in 07/08, 43 points (3g 40a) in 08/09, and 39 points (6g 33a) this year. If still among the Predators defensive crew he would have finished first in points in 07/08, third in points in 08/09 and second in points this year. The Predators do need help scoring in the regular season. There is no denying that. And even more help on the power play!

Timonen has made the playoffs 6 straight years, three at his previous games in Nashville and three in his current city. Philadelphia went from dead last the year before he got there in 06/07 to fourth place in the East his very first year 07/08. He has definitely improved the play of the Flyers. Over his career, since he became a full time player in 00/01 season, he has averaged a very respectable 42 points per season for a D-liner. That averages to be the 18th best defensive scorer over those ten years. Getting to be as high as 11th best blue line scorer in the league in 06/07 for the Predators!

However, let’s take a look at his stats in the playoffs. During the six seasons, that he has made the playoffs, he averages .53 points per game. During the playoffs that number dips by 22% to .41 points per game. So what does that mean in real numbers? It means that during the season he scores a point usually every other game and in the playoffs he tallies a point in every third game. Not too much of a difference on the surface, except since series is only a maximum of seven games is huge. That one point difference per seven games can tip the balance a series win or loss.

I remember cringing watching Kimmo on the power play during the playoffs. He routinely let pucks slip under his stick while on the blue line during the power play. I remember counting as many as seven pucks slipping past him during one game. I have never played ice hockey and I do realize every one has lapses from time to time. But his lapses seem to keep him from morphing from a very good player into an elite player.

As I continued to watch the playoffs after the Predators were eliminated I continue to cheer for former players who were once on our team. Like watching Ryan Parent, Scottie Too Hottie Hartnell, and Timonen play on. I kept a close eye on Hartnell, and his hair, and Kimmo. As the playoffs wore on, Hartnell seemed to get stronger as a player. Starting off he had one point in the first series by the time of Cup Finals he had nine points (5g 4a). Timonen started off with a strong 3 power play points in the first round! However, he seemed to have peaked against the Devils, adding just one more power play point against both the Bruins and Leafs but none against the Hawks.

While the playoff wore on the old captain seemed spend less and less time on Phllies’ power play. In his 22nd playoff game, Game 6, Timonen scored a beautiful goal and got an assist. It was the first time he has notched a goal in a game during the entire chase for the Cup. It also marks the first time he had tallied two points in a game during all of the playoffs, but his scoring in Game 6 ended up not really amounting to anything in a 7-4 blown out loss. It seemed like whenever the Flyers needed a score their, second in points, defenseman just was not there for them or just was not even on the ice.

Oh by the way, the former captain finally got his first series win on home ice this year after beginning his playoff career at 0-5. Ole number 44 is 1 of 7 in series finally clinchers on home ice. True to form Chicago hoisted the cup, for the first time in 49 years, in Philadelphia this year on his home ice!

So do the Predators really miss our old captain #44 Kimmo Timonen?