Friday, January 22, 2010

The Green Men are Growing...

...and they're getting in Dave Scatchard's head.



Please, please, please bring more.

The Preds On The Forcheck are being good sports about it, for the original see this.

Very... studious.

Once Again, How Did This Not Get Any Play?

Truth be told, there was a lot of great hockey on last night. There was the anticipated matchup of the Caps and Pens that didn't disappoint, the Flames looked to rebound against the Hawks (but didn't), and the Flyers and Rangers heated it up in a big game against division rivals. Being on the West Coast I was forced to only listening to this one on the ride home...



Which was a real joy by the way. Kind of a 'who do you hate less?' kinda matchup.

But the one that caught some people's attention was this one with convicted felon Daniel Carcillo and Rangers offense Marian Gaborik...



Other than Joe Micheletti proving that he's an idiot, this strikes me as the same situation between Ovechkin and Steve Downie, yet no one stepped in to bail Gabby's ass out. Now neither Gaborik or Ovechkin asked for it, but you've got to step in and protect your goal scorers which is what Bradley did in Ovechkin's case.

I think we can all agree that Gaborik is probably a lot more frail than OV when it comes down to it, Alex is one big muscle. Which is probably even more reason why someone on the Rangers should have stepped in, but who? Brashear was out of the lineup, but Voros was nowhere to be seen, at least not in terms of getting in Carcillo's face for payback. No, who was the only Ranger who acted pissed off and wanted to get some revenge on Carcillo? Why that was standup guy Sean Avery, who else?

I'm not a Avery fan by any means but for once this ass clown did the right thing, and gave Carcillo a run for his money.



I almost see this as a changing of the guards here, in reigning biggest asshole around the League. Avery used to take that title hands down, but now Daniel Carcillo is stealing the show in Philly with antics like his fists raised on the way to the box a la Tie Domi, (King Piece of Shit).

We need an award for Best Asshole of the League, any ideas for a name?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Trade Deadline: 40 Days and Counting...

This whole post may as well be a Sky is Falling type post. Of course the only teams that usually get mentioned are the one's with lost seasons and available rentals, or one's that need to plug the holes in the hull on the way to the post.
Sheldon

Souray, aka Studley Wonderbomb (beautiful by the way, Matt), known for his manly good looks, heavy shot, and of course his babies's Mama, has been unofficially placed on the trading block. Of course, Mr. Souray has a NMC or NTC or whatever other cockblocking contract stipulation so he's not willing to go just anywhere. No, the Alberta native wants no part of the Eastern Conference, in fact he's going so far as to pull the Dany Heatley 'I only want to go to California' card.


(Aside: There's something about Edmonton that makes people want to go to California, or maybe its just a rite of passage in order to get to California, you have to go through Edmonton. Think about it... First, Pronger plays a year in Edmonton, leads the Oil to the Cup, (his wife) demands a trade, ends up in Anaheim. B, Dany Heatley demands a trade out of Ottawa, Tambellini makes a pitch that includes a promotional DVD about why you'd want to come to Oil Country (that runs for less than 3 minutes), says no, ends up in San Jose. Finally, Joffrey Lupul, one of the guys sent to Edmonton for Pronger, gets traded to Philly, and then gets traded again for Pronger, only to end up back in Anaheim. There's a conspiracy here.)


So if that narrows it down to the three teams in the Pacific, and you can probably rule out San Jose, I don't think they'll be tinkering with anything come deadline, and we're down to two. Realistically, he could go to either Anaheim or Los Angeles.


The Kings have the space for his pro-rated number this season, and they'll be pressed the following two seasons with his $5.4mil annually but it can be done. The Kings already have their top 4 defensemen with Doughty, Johnson, Scuderi, and Greene, but Jack has been suspect since he started in the NHL. O'Donnell is due to be put out to pasture, and Drewiske is coming along nicely. With that in mind, and the fact that the Kings will probably looking for more scoring (if anything), probably makes them a much less likely candidate than the Ducks.


Anaheim has been lacking that big physical presence since Pronger left for Philly on Draft Day this past summer. They seem lost without him, and after looking at him objectively, its easy to see why. Of course since the Cup run, the Ducks have also lost Beauchemin (TOR), and lesser role but solid defensemen like 'Sheriff' Shane Hnidy (MIN), and Kent Huskins (SJS). Its very easy to see now why the Pens faithful wanted Whitney out of town. In order to make this work however, Anaheim is going to have send something the other way. Maybe Lupul?


The other monkey in this wrench is that Bob Murray has recently been checking on the availability of current Oiler captain Ethan Moreau. In order to get those two, there's going to have to be a lot of bodies moving, and picks. Murray has collected quite a few conditional picks this season, but whether or not the conditions are right is another story, but he did grab a first rounder for 2010 for sure in the Pronger move. Moreau will most likely will have the same effect that Laperriere adds to Philly, a hard-nosed veteran that's willing to get dirty. But the Ducks are going to need the pull the trigger on something sooner than later considering they're sitting in 11th four points behind the 8th see with Dallas and Detroit ahead of them.




Gillis Crushing on Backes
I don't remember this and I don't know why (i.e. too many bonghits), but newly appointed Canucks head honcho Mike Gillis apparently offered David Backes an offer sheet of $7.5mil spread across three years. A pissed off Davidson ponied up the dough and matched the offer to which Backes couldn't put the ink on quick enough. According to this post by Matt Sekeres of the Globe and Mail, the Canucks have obviously grown tired of Pavol Demitra and apparently AV has had enough of Wellwood, and are looking for new centers. The part that sets all the alarms off on this post, the travel plans of the GM's of both teams.


Gillis was supposed to go to the CHL Prospects game in Windsor but instead went to Montreal to watch (Janssen launch into Price) the Blues. While Davidson was in Manitoba to scout the Moose, and apparently Cory Schneider. Ahh, I don't know if I buy the last part, but hey, its all speculation.


The post also talk about the potential of Vancouver looking to replenish their banged up blueline with the likes of aging veteran Darryl Sydor or Carlo Colaiacovo (to give Luongo some ginny company). That almost seems more likely than St. Louis parting with Backes. Nuck thoughts on it all.



Calgary Looks to Aging Veterans
Kent W. over at Matchsticks & Gasoline, always on the cutting edge of Flames analysis, put together his list of top 6 forwards on non-playoff teams that Calgary should be targeting. Its kind of sad that these are the type of guys you need to look to in order for the Flames to make some sort of impact. Let's go through them shall we? Quickly.


Paul Kariya doesn't strike me as a Calgary (i.e. Sutter) -type player in any way, shape or form. Not to mention the fact that he hasn't don't shit for the Blues with 9 goals in 42 games considering his past totals.


Keith Tkachuk, (apparently all the Blues are for sale, I guess that was obvious when Payne was hired), is more like hinderance than help on a Calgary team. Besides the Flames already have a hundred of this guy, you know, the medium sized guy in Nintendo Ice Hockey.


Ray Whitney is rumored to go everywhere. I could see this guy making an impact on the Flames but I don't see Daz beating out the other 28 teams looking to grab him, okay top 5.


Colby Armstrong I see as more of an addition defensively rather than offensively which is exactly a Sutter-type player but not what the Flames need at this point. They need scoring, can I get an Amen?


Alexei Ponikarovsky definetely adds offensive touch, but also adds Russian to the equation. Darryl would have to swallow his pride, and trick Burke to get him away from the Leafs. Both highly unlikely, one more than the other. Try to guess which one!


And finally, former Flame Alex Tanguay. When I first saw his name, and the thought of him returning to Calgary I said, 'youfuckincrazy?!' The more I think about it, the more it makes sense, and is certainly the best choice out of this list. Tanguay's been a shell of himself since he left Colorado, and respectively Calgary, but he was injured in Montreal (who's fickle as fuck anyway) and is stuck in purgatory on a team like Tampa. He worked well with Iginla way back when, and the way the Lightning are hemorraging money and faith, it might be the one possible scenario that could actually work.




The Sky is Falling In...

Carolina
Jim Rutherford has pretty much put everyone on notice with the exception of their young core including but not limited to, newly appointed captain Eric Staal, Brandon Sutter, Cam Ward, and Juomo Ruutu. Looking over that roster there are some pretty good veterans that can add some spice to a playoff lineup, and a lot of them own rings from a Championship not too long ago. Ray Whitney is the name most mentioned (as referenced above), not to mention Niklas Wallin, defenseman Joe Corvo, and Rod Brind'Amour will more than likely be put out to pasture.

The changing of the guard has raised some eyebrows around the League, some see it as half a season too late while others look at it as genius, allowing Staal to slowly transition into the leadership role, while giving Rod the opportunity to bow out quietly. To me, the eldest Staal brother has been ready for this role for years now, and was more or less the leader of this team while wearing the A. Sure, Rod 'the Bod' is the elder statesman, but his waning effectiveness has been speaking louder to this team than his words, as referenced in this seasons complete, and utter failure.


Chicago?!
When you're built for the run, someone is always going to point out the weakest points of even the strongest team. Goaltending is this issue in Chi-town, or is it? Huet was looking like absolute shit early on this season, but Niemi has been consistently playing well, pushing Cristo to pick up his game, which, to his credit, he has. They are probably the most formidable goaltending tandem in the League right now, but are still taking heat since they are the weakest link of this powerful Hawks team.

Blackhawk alumnus, and League loudmouth (even after retirement) Jeremy Roenick stoked the fire with his recent comments, and now everyone and their Mums has been speculating as to who the Bowmans' should acquire come deadline to sure up that soft spot. Considering how aggressive Chicago has been in acquiring free agents (Campbell, Huet, Hossa, Kopecky, Madden) its logical to think that they would make a move. Names that have been thrown about include soon-to-be Dallas exile Marty Turco, overachieving client Jaroslav Halak, underachieving Conn Smythe winner Jean-Sebastian Giguere, and even Tomas Vokoun. However, the chemistry issue keeps coming up when you talk about that young team and moving any of the pieces before the offseason, and that may be enough to hold off, considering how well Huet and Niemi are playing, and not to mention the fact that Huet was one of those assets that were brought in. They most certainly evaluated him to the point of bring him over for a Cup run, unless it was just that he was the best choice available at that time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tighten Your Belts

Can you tell me the three teams with the lowest payroll?

Take a guess its not that hard, you'll probably get all three.

Yes that's right, Phoenix ($42mil), Nashville ($44mil), and the New York Islanders ($44mil).

Now, can you tell me where those three teams sit in the standings?

Go ahead you can cheat.

Look at that, Phoenix is sitting 5th in the West with 61 points, with the Predators sitting just above in 4th with the same point total but one less game played. And leaguewide joke, the Isles are bringing up the rear in the East at the 8th spot with 52 points.

Chances are the Isles will eventually bow out of the playoff race with 32 games left to play, or at the very best, act as a 1st round doormat, (see 2006-07 Atlanta Thrashers). But the Dogs and the Preds look to be nicely entrenched in the West, but hey, anything can happen.

Just a quickie, I don't know, I thought it was interesting.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Believe It or Not, We've Got Heart

Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti
This is our family's charity of choice to help in the Haiti relief efforts, but its not the only way to help. Show some heart will ya?!

How Did This Not Get Any Press Today?



Your favorite, and my pal Mr., Steve, Ott. I only wish Harding had actually connected with one those waffles to the jaw. Josh had enough of this asshole in his crease, somehow the rest of the Minnesota defense didn't pick up on it until he did this. Even if Richards had thrown out Boogaard to chase after Ott, he probably would have turtled. I hate that piece of shit, in case you couldn't tell.

Trade Deadline: 45 Days Away, or so...

Pondering what laxative to try next or what to do with Kovalchuk? Or both?

Here we go, you ready for it?!

We are now officially less than a month and a half away from the trade deadline, and you know what that means... All that bullshit we've been talking about for the past few months finally comes to a head, and we are that much closer to the postseason.

What else does it mean?

Well it means the swill gets to stirring as all the ingredients of trade speculation get into a rolling boil. Yes, strike up the Lecavalier trade rumors (as if they ever cease), plot out what gaping holes in your team's lineup need to be addressed, and scan those impending free agent lists for potential trading pieces, mercenaries, or your new BFF. Luckily, we here at the Grip have worked tirelessly to prepare those FA lists by position for just such an occasion. We'll use those and all the other sinkers and floaters of trade potentials that we'll hear in the next few weeks to analyze their merit, and whether its worth pulling the trigger. As we get closer to the official cutoff date of March 3rd as the Trade Deadline, we'll take a look at the weak spots in, well, not all the teams, but those with even a speck of hope of extending their work schedule.

What makes this year more interesting, and the playoffs in a 'hurry-up-and-get-here-already' mode is the absence of the tedious All-Star break and the incorporation of the Olympics, which won't be handing out gold medals until the final day of February. Since the rumor mill kicked into overdrive today, or so it seems, lets take a look at those.

Kovalchuk or Bust
Now old news, the situation of Kovalchuk and the Thrashers looms with his impending free agency and the ridiculous price tag associated with it. Soon enough, someone is going to start producing 'What Would Waddell Do?' bracelets and make a fortune off it.

Of course the problem is that no one knows the answer, so all the difficult decisions you face in life would be unanswered, unless you accept 'sit on it' as a decision. The Falconer put Ilya on the table and was willing to at least hear what the rest of the SB Nation would offer to get a crack at the Ruskie. The fans of most teams are willing to part with a whole lot of nothing in order to put their arms around Kovy, smarter fans aren't interested, while others put together reasonable trade offers. Doesn't matter anyway, its all just for fun for us, and the man at the top of the page isn't having any fun trying to figure it out.


Turco Gets His Papers Ready
Word out of Dallas is that the Stars are ready to divorce their franchise goaltender Marty Turco, due to be a free agent at the end of the term, and earning $5.7mil this year. The skilled, puck-moving netminder is coming off the second of two disappointing seasons in which the former was blamed on Sean Avery's arrival and subsequent departure and a Stars team devastated by injuries, while it appears that the latter is being placed solely on the shoulders of the other Marty. Brandon Worley's excellent work on Defending Big D over at SB Nation has revealed that the Capitals have had scouts at the Stars practice sessions, while James O'B over at Cycle Like the Sedins has thrown his hat in the ring with a Turco for Giguere trade idea. Mike Heika, the beat writer of the Dallas Morning News for the Stars, has put together a list of who Nieuwendyk and the brass maybe taking a look at...


Jaroslav Halak, MTL
Corey Schneider, VAN
Kari Lehtonen, ATL
Pekka Rinne, NSH
Dan Ellis, NSH
Mike Smith, TBL
Jhonas Enroth, BUF
Leland Irving, CAL
Justin Peters, CAR

None of those names are true number one's to replace a goalie of Turco's stature with the exception of the two Nashville goaltenders (Rinne & Ellis) and maybe Halak, and they would still be a downgrade. But if this is really the list that Dallas is looking at, with all of these young, mostly untested goaltenders, then the Turco to Washington makes the most sense.

Washington's soft spot was thought to be defense but with Alzner's progress, and Schultz's recent +/- numbers, the opinion has now changed to goaltending with Var-LAH-mov out since early December with a groin injury. Michal Neuvirth has played in eleven games this season and five games last season and has been impressive enough for Dallas to consider, of course there's going to have to be a plethora of prospects and/or picks to go along with him. Of course the Stars are going to want Varlamov, but that's the Caps goalie of the future, I don't think they'd be willing to part with him. Then again maybe they would, if the thought is to win now.


Turco is probably too rich for Nashville's blood, unless he's hired as a Merc to get them over that postseason hump they perpetually have. And I don't think the Stars would want Giguere since he's looked worse than Turco lately.


Frankly, I think Turco is a good goaltender and despite his lows this season, I'm surprised the Stars are willing to part with him. Then again maybe all he needs is a fresh start in another town. I hope for his sake he goes to a team with playoff implications, so he can show Dallas what his mettle really is.


The Sky Is Also Falling In...


Columbus, sounds like they're ready to call it a year and start looking to next season. Freddy Modin, newly acquired Milan Jurcina, and even Raffi Torres coming off a two-goal game all look to be on the chopping block without contracts for next year. Maybe Howson should re-think retaining their biggest asset, Ken Hitchcock.



Calgary, after that woodshed beating they just took from the Sharks. Daz is speechless. There will be repercussions.


Philadelphia, when your Captain has had it up to his eyeballs with the local media. After a loss, the Philly media heaped it on Richards who had voiced his thoughts on them in an article in the Hockey News about the partying atmosphere of the young Flyers. It got heated and Laviolette had to step in to seperate Richards and his off-ice dance partner, Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer who was, by the sound of it, goading Mike into a fight. By the way, the Flyers are sitting in 11th place in the East behind the Isles, who are sitting in the 8th and final seed ahead by three points, Florida and Montreal who are one point ahead. That might have something to do with it.



We'll give you the latest in trade talk (that never actually happens) every few days until we hit March 3rd, or at least until you get your walking papers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More Things to Complain About

Goaltending Matchups


I've noticed quite a few games this year where two exciting teams matchup against one another only to find that the Head Coach has pulled a fast one and played the backup instead of having the two #1's faceoff against one another. Now I know that coaches tend to lay out their schedules and decide which games are played by which goaltenders before the season even starts, (or so they say). Of course there's always factors that change that, injuries, streaks, and poor play, but I think there's something else going on here. I tend to think that coaches do this to relieve some of the pressure that these games create, and take some of that air of the inflating balloon. But on the other side of it, I think it would give you a better idea of how you'd fare against these teams in potential postseason matchups. I don't know whether it makes the playoffs that much better since we're in suspense until we get to see these coveted matchups, or if coaches are just taking the piss out of our nights of hockey.



Replays

I've noticed this my entire hockey-watching life but I've never had the forum to voice bitching like this until now. Any idiot knows which plays need to be re-played, goals, penalties, and saves, but there are plenty of plays that are deemed "insignificant" that I want to see re-run, bullshit offside calls, subtle interactions between players, and things of the like that have no real outcome on the game but are so interesting in their minutia to us die-hard fans. These simple, unimportant replays would hopefully prevent us from listening to some shit-ass story about one of these fucknut announcer's day, what he ate for lunch, or his thinly disguised man-love for one of the players. Which brings me to my next whine...



Homer Announcers

Having the Center Ice package and getting your money's worth out of it leaves you subject to broadcast teams around the country. I say country because I don't hear the homerism that is so blantantly evident in American broadcasts, in Canadian broadcasts. This is probably due to the fact that Canadian broadcasts are on their national television channels (correct me if I'm wrong), while hockey games in the States are shown on the television stations that are largely subsidized (if not outright owned) by the teams they're broadcasting. Some are worse than others, but I think they're all biased towards their own teams, (like referees). Jack Edwards on NESN for the Bruins, is one of the favorites, although he's so over-the-top I've come to enjoy him. I think just about every regional FSN broadcast team is brutal, Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey on FSN Pittsburgh have reached new lows, as has Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond for FSN Detroit. Sometimes you just want to punch your TV trying to hit these idiots when they go on and on about how this player is such a tremendous humanitarian, and the sheer skill they possess when a shot goes off their helmet and into the net.

Anyway, I'm PMS'ing and I thought I'd share before I get cramps and become completely useless.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wizard... News of the Weird



Burrows Calls the Kettle Black
Well the big news this week is Alex Burrows calling out referee Stephane Auger. Here's what gets me, why are we all shocked and outraged as we pretend not to acknowledge that this happens all the time. Sure, this is the first time in a while where its so blatantly obvious, but bias is something that is a part of us all, no matter how impartial we claim to be. The only way to be completely impartial is to not give something any thought at all, but that's impossible in this case. I'm not letting Auger off the hook, because those calls were bullshit no matter how you slice it, but I'm not going to single him out either. Everyone in the world has favorites, preferences, dislikes, and outright hatred towards certain things, including refs towards particular players, coaches, or teams in general. Referees and linesmen have a tough job to do in the fastest sport, they are constantly screamed at, cursed at, in the line of fire, from pucks to punches. And yet its a big deal when we hear about referees cursing back at players, talk about a double standard. Auger's a shitty ref, but don't we think they're all shitty refs when they make the wrong call.



Kovalchuk Headed Anywhere and Everywhere
In the last few days, I think every team blog on SB Nation has had a post about whether their team should make a move for Kovy. Before the floodgates opened, when contract talks in Atlanta came to a screeching halt, I've heard some of the most candid, straightforward, and honest reasoning that I've heard in a long time from the Falconer at Bird Watchers Anonymous. This guy nailed it on the fucking head, and made me come to my senses with regards to what Atlanta should do with Ilya.

"Let's say Kovalchuk accepts the rumored offer of 12 years for $10 million each. Many fans would rejoice and proclaim their happiness--I'm not so sure. Can you win a Stanley Cup with 20% of your entire payroll invested in a guy who is great on offense but who contributes very little on the defensive side of the equation? Have teams won the Stanley Cup with one sided offensive players? Yes. Has anyone won the Stanley Cup with with a one-way player who consumes 1 out of every 5 payroll dollars? I don't think so. As a fan I'd trade one Stanley Cup for ten 50 goal seasons." - The Falconer, Bird Watchers Anonymous from the post Decision Day Looms for Kovalchuk, Waddell and Thrashers

The very next day he follows it up with a post the next day of two clear cut examples of why you don't lay down that kind of money for a blend of offensive brillance with defensive apathy. A post he titled, Would You Pay $10Million a Year for this Defense? Great stuff, I tip my hat to you sir.

Now I'll admit, I've been under the assumption that Waddell should pay this guy whatever the hell he wants, if nothing more than for the stability of the franchise. But after reading the Falconer's examples, that might do the exact opposite. But if he trades Kovalchuk and doesn't get enough value in the eyes the pundits, will that be better or worse than keeping him? On the other side of the coin, if Don does get what is deemed 'fair market value,' or better even, that doesn't guarantee success or at the very least, playoff presence, either.

Bottom line, Waddell is fucked. He's mired in indecision, he's in the middle of an ownership mess with a floundering franchise, and the best asset of said franchise ready to walk out the door. Kovalchuk doesn't care where he goes, he'll be rich as fuck wherever he goes, whether that's one of the other 29 cities in the League, or to one of the 25 (and soon to be more) teams in the KHL.


Lasergate
First off, dude, you're a fucking idiot. Its too bad the rest of the crowd sitting around you didn't kick the shit out of you, even if it was to give their team the advantage. Sutter should have made a bigger stink about this during the game, then we would at least have a name and a face for our venom. Read, over on hit the post, that supposedly green lasers are far worse than the red ones, able to burn through plastic. Whether that's hubris or not I don't know, WI is known to write her share (Ha!). Besides we want green man not green lasers!


FSN Pittsburgh Doesn't Share Footage
I don't want to get into this but, it was a goal, no question. It didn't matter, Philly still one, but still, its fucked up. My beef is why its the responsibility of the sports network to send their footage to the War Room. If this is really what the office in Toronto is using to determine questionable plays, then why isn't there an official in the broadcasting booth responsible for collecting it and distributing it to the review officials? Some producer gets fired, and we stop huffing, end of story.


Matt Bradley, Capital Hero
Steve Downie tried to goad Ovie into a fight in last night's game when it was clearly out of reach. Alex was a willing participant, dropping the gloves, and even removing the visored helmet (classy), but that was all before Matt Bradley came flying in from the bench to spare those magical Russian hands from denting Downie's stupid face. Ovechkin obviously never asked Bradley to step in and handle his light work, but I have no doubt Matt received direction from Gabby to do so. In the end, Bradley is seen as a hero in the Washington locker room, and idiots (like Downie in the video) will call Ovechkin a pussy. At least until he actually fights someone.

There's odds and ends but I'm tired, those are the big entries. Enjoy slobs.

Three Days Late, and a Three Dolla Bill Y'all

I wanted to get this up sooner, but life happened, so this one is now for the peeps.

I took diligent notes while carefully studying a combination of a 40" Samsung LCD and the bottom of several bottles of Molson Canadian. I was watching the Calgary @ Vancouver game on Saturday night, and it was a doozy. Probably one of the best games so far this year, as the cliche goes, it had playoff hockey written all over it. So without further ado...

1st Period
  • During the anthem, you could see Iginla talking to himself with his head down, and his eyes closed psyching himself up. He came out flying in that first period, and the Canucks helped him keep the fire going.
  • A lot of scoring chances right off the bat, but I thought that Giordano's stick check on the Sedin's two-on-one was pivotal, upon second look it appeared as if Henrik had lost the handle on his own.
  • I thought Mason Raymond (who I will now call RayRay) had the five-hole for sure when he put if off the post on the two-on-one with Burrows.
  • Programming related entry: Can you fuckers tell me why I can't get CBC HNIC broadcast in HD? The NHL Network was carrying the Buds/Pens game in HD, its the same fucking broadcast. Why not do a double-header? No American interest in two Canadian teams? What a bunch of bullshit.
  • Borq's goal was just pure determination. Around the defenseman, hard to the net, goes short side of the shoulder, and his momentum coming through the crease has him knock another Canucks down. Nice goal.
  • Samuelsson is pissed. That Swedish team snub really sent him over the edge, he fired that thing like he was trying to get it into the parking lot. Nice feed from RayRay from behind the goal line.
  • Burrows was fluffing up Phaneuf nice and early.
  • Lukowich's first night in a Canucks jersey? BC boy's lifelong dream? Really?
  • Prust vs. Rypien was a brutal fight, there was a lot of animosity in that one.
  • Vancouver was giving pucks away left and right.
  • Gio and Glass get into it at the end of the first, just bad blood.
2nd Period
  • Twin intuition? The Sedin's goal was awesome, just totally knowing where the other's going to be, and where to put (or leave) the puck.
  • Love the line combination of Kesler-Samuelsson-Raymond almost as much as Burrows-Sedin-Sedin.
  • Flukey second goal for Calgary, but as always, it looks good on paper.
  • J-Bouw has looked a little lost at times out there. I would just like to point out... Jay Bouwmeester - 2G-15A-17Pts - +12 - 2.6% Shooting - $6.68mil/yr., Mark Giordano - 5G-13A-18Pts - +7 - 8.9% Shooting - $892k/yr. Just sayin'.
  • Huge hit by Luk on Borq.
  • Ehrhoff's game is simple, he only goes for the puck. I'm not fooled by his +/-.
  • Kesler & Phaneuf tie up and then Kesler gives the linesman this look of 'get him the fuck off of me.'
  • Kipper makes a huge save on the Sedin tip. CBC flashes stats of Kip, in the last 20 games he went 11-6-3, has a .941 save percentage, and has allowed 2 goals or less in 16 of those 20. Ridiculous.
  • In the penalty box, you can see the official yell at Gio telling him to move over. Marko gives the official a look of death, then looks at Phaneuf, who's in the box with him, and is basically like 'who the fuck does this guy think he is?!' Hilarious.
  • Kipper makes an awesome save on D. Sedin on the power play, and then follows it up with a big stop on Ehrhoff's shot.
  • At the end of the second, there's the usual pleasantries exchanged. The interaction between Iginla and Luongo was pretty interesting. Phaneuf does his usual chest thumping. A-neuf.
3rd Period
  • Somehow 10minute misconducts were handed out to RayRay & Gio. I didn't even see them involved in the scrum.
  • It seemed like only a matter of time before Willie and Iggy would throw down. But of course we won't see it because this game's too damn close.
  • Nasty, nasty 3rd period.
  • Both Glass and Borq should have been penalized for their hits from behind, Borq more so, but Glass got it. Stupid retaliation in a game like this.
  • Is it me, or does Lu look out of shape or completely out of position at times? I know he usually does his fish out of water impression whenever anyone brushes past him, but I'm not talking about that. Half the time it seems like he's struggling to get back up after he ends up on the ice.
  • Bill McCreary is one of the better referees in the League, but he's missed a lot of calls so far.
  • The Flames have been going hard to the net all night.
  • What the hell was the Orangutan thinking by trying to cover the puck? There's too much time on the clock for that you Finnish idiot. I always think that's a bush-league manuever anyway.
  • The end of the third should have been followed up with a 20minute OT of 5 on 5, and then another, and another...
  • Every thing was going in in the shootout, could have gone either way.
All in all, a great game.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Snubs

I am the Snub-nose Monkey, and I laugh on your lapels.
snub
tr.v. snubbed, snub·bing, snubs
1. To ignore or behave coldly toward; slight.
2. To dismiss, turn down, or frustrate the expectations of.
3. to insult (someone) deliberately

Well Olympic teams got finalized while we were getting hammered on egg nog and fruitcake over the holidays. I get the feeling this year of Olympic hockey will be a lot more exciting than usual, it usually is the sleepy variety, with ridiculous scores run up against weaker opponents and rarely an upset. Maybe I'm lying, maybe Olympic hockey is exciting and I just can't remember four years ago let alone eight or twelve.

In any case, blog hero James Mirtle of From the Rink has the rosters with some notable exceptions on countries with players to spare. We'll go in order of date of release, and just mention the more interesting names...


Belarus
Four NHLers... Defenseman Ruslan Salei (COL) and forwards Mikhail Grabovski (TOR), and Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn (MTL/Hamilton Bulldogs). Thirteen players are from the KHL, with seven of those out of Dinamo Minsk the capital city KHL team. The last five players are part of the Belarusian Extraliga, the top hockey league of the former Soviet state, four of the five from Shakhter Soligorsk, and one from HK Vitebsk.

Russia
Fourteen NHLers... All three goaltenders, five of eight defensemen, and half a dozen forwards. All the rest are KHLers with four of those nine recent defectors of the NHL. FTH with the full roster and some potential line combinations.

Sweden
Nineteen of the 23 man roster are NHLers... Two of three goaltenders, seven of eight defensemen, and ten of twelve forwards. Three of the remaining four are playing in Elitserien (SEL) including Peter Forsberg, and the last, former Islander draft pick Mattias Weinhandl, playing for Dynamo Moscow in the KHL.

Here's the first team with necessary roster cuts, FTR with all the hits...

The guy apparently the most pissed off is Mikael Samuelsson of the Vancouver Canucks. His quote, “I pretty much have one comment and maybe I'll regret it. But they can go fuck themselves. That's what I really think.” I fucking love that. As I've said before I think Sammy is an elite talent, but there are times when he is on the ice picking flowers. Just real fucking lazy at times, especially defensively.

A few young NHL defenseman got left off the list, (Hedman, Ericsson, Hjalmarsson, Grossman, Edler), in place of much more experienced, and mostly better, older NHL defensemen (Lidstrom, Kronwall, Ohlund), although I'm not too sure about Douglas Murray or Johnny Oduya. I've heralded Oduya for his quiet skill in the past but he's shown nothing as of late, and Doug adds size and wobbly ankles if that's you're sort of thing.

Other forwards to note, Johan Franzen, coming back from injury was left off, as was Kristian Huselius who's had a good season on yet another dismal Columbus team, and just for old time's sake I thought I might see Markus Naslund, who's playing alongside Forsberg on Modo for free.

Latvia
Has only two NHLers, both defensemen, Oskars Bartulis (PHI) and Karlis Skrastins (DAL), but the team also includes two AHLers, forwards Kaspars Daugavins (Binghamton Senators [OTT]) and Martins Karsums (Norfolk Admirals [TBL]). Two more come from Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), the German Hockey League, forward Herberts Vasiljevs (Krefeld Pinguine) and Arvids Rekis (Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg), while the rest (15 of 17) hail from the KHL, mostly Dinamo Riga, the Latvian capital city team.

One notable exception, as James notes...
One of my personal favorites, Stanley Cup winner, and current Dinamo Riga team captain, Sandis Ozolinsh. Ozo's had his share of off-ice problems, including a drunk driving arrest, and at 37, I guess they're going with youth. Raitis Ivanans doesn't even qualify as an Olympian in my mind.

Norway
As I've mentioned before in an earlier post, Norway is short on producing quality pro hockey talent, with only one current NHLer in the lineup, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (CLB). Patrick Thoresen played for the Flyers in 2007-08, but is now in the KHL playing for Salavat Yulayev UFA. The most notable entry on the roster, Modo's Forsberg. Kristian Forsberg, that is. In fact most of the Norwegians picked play in Elitserien, eleven in total, with six from the Norwegian Hockey League, GET-ligaen, three from the DEL, and one more from the Finnish Hockey League, SM-liiga.

Slovakia
Thirteen NHLers in the bunch... Two of three goaltenders, five of seven defensemen, and six of thirteen forwards. Of course there's also the five NHL alumni, four now playing in the KHL, (Marcel Hossa, Branko Radivojevic, Jozef Stumpel, and Richard Zednik), and the fifth, Ziggy Palffy, playing in the Slovak Extraliga for HK 36 Skalica, the only member of the roster from that league. Eight players in total from the KHL, and from all four countries of the league, Russia, Latvia (Dinamo Riga), Belarus (Dynamo Minsk), and Kazakhstan (Barys Astana). There's also one forward Lubos Bartecko, who plays in the top Swiss League, Nationalliga A, for SC Bern.

So who got left out? Well only two pop up on Mirtle's radar...

Colorado forward Marek Svatos who's got 6 goals, 3 assists in 35 games this season and is out of the lineup injured at the moment. He's not getting much ice time this season under rookie head coach Joe Sacco, and there's speculation that his days are numbered in Colorado as his contract is up at the end of the season.

And the other... Atlanta defenseman Boris Valabik who's most famous for... wait for it... getting punched in the nuts by Sidney Crosby.

Canada
They could have picked two. San Jose wins the derby with four Olympians named to the team, (Thornton, Heatley, Marleau, and Boyle), while Anaheim (Niedermayer, Perry, Getzlaf) and Chicago (Toews, Keith, Seabrook) follow closely behind with three each.

Like everyone said, they could've put together two competitive squads, and both would have the opportunity to medal, so obviously there's going to be some pretty interesting snubs for the founding country. Jimmy knows best and weeds out all the nonsense, I'll throw out one name for D and O, and offer a substitute...
On defense, I'm taking off Brent Seabrook and putting in Jay Bouwmeester. For most people, I think this is a no-brainer, on the other hand, there's already a lot of smooth skating skill guys on the back end, (Niedermayer, Boyle, Doughty). But on the same side of the coin, Weber and Pronger are going to add more than enough toughness for Olympic competition, no need for Seabrook.
There's no way Mike Green should be allowed anywhere near this team, don't even mention his name in the same breath.

As for offense, there's plenty of great names to add, Carter, Smyth, Lecavalier, St. Louis, but I'm plugging in Shane Doan, and taking out Patrice Bergeron. Doan is just solid all the way around his game, and although the team has a lot of that veteran leadership already, I think he's pretty clutch. Martin St. Louis would be my second choice to plug in there, and Brenden Morrow would be my second choice out. Captain Canada has found a new home in LA where he's actually producing but he's still not good enough to make this team. Lecavalier normally is, but not this season, he's been flat out awful at times this year. Jeff Carter is young, and he'll more than likely be available in four years for the next team, just a victim of the numbers and the quality of talent in Canadian hockey.
Czech Republic
Sixteen NHLers in total... Two of three goaltenders, seven of eight defenders, and seven of twelve forwards. Three different NHL clubs are sending a pair, Ottawa (Michalek & Kuba), Atlanta (Kubina & Pavelec), and the Wild (Havlat & Zidlicky). There are five KHLers including Jaromir Jagr and Josef Vasicek, who is also a Stanley Cup winner, if you can believe that. And the last two are from the Czech Extraliga, goaltender Jakub Stepanek (Vitkovice Ostrava) and league scoring leader Roman Cervenka (Slavia Prague).
As for omissions, a couple of obvious names come to mind, Hejduk, Prospal, Smid, Plihal, Neuvirth, Skoula, Kreps, Frolik, Straka, Sykora, Spacek, Hanzal, Kotalik, Dvorak, Prucha, Olesz, Hudler, Hamrlik. A blend of players past their prime, and a handful just coming into theirs. Hejduk chose not to participate, but I think Hudler is probably the most glaring name in that group. I'm sure Vokoun had to wipe the tears away of more than one of his teammates.

Finland
Fourteen NHLers in all... Three of three goaltenders, five of seven blueliners, and ten of thirteen forwards. The Minnesota Wild get bragging rights by sending three (Backstrom, M.Koivu, & Miettinen), while Anaheim (S. Koivu & Selanne), Calgary (Kiprusoff, Jokinen), and Carolina (Pitkanen & T. Ruutu) are sending two. Four players are coming from the KHL including former NHLers defenseman Lasse Kukkonen (Avangard Omsk) and Ville Peltonen (Dynamo Minsk). And finally, defenseman Janne Niskala from the SEL, who plays for Frolunda Gothenburg.

This country is the new goalie factory. They are taking Kiprusoff, Backstrom, and Nittymaki, and they had to leave off Rinne, Rask, Lehtonen, and well Toskala, but that's well deserved.
Other omissions include mostly young guys just not yet good enough (if ever) to make the national team, (Korpikoski, Nokelainen, Leino, Koistinen, Jussi Jokinen).

Germany
Only six NHLers on Team Deutchland... One goaltender (Greiss [SJS]), three defensemen (Ehrhoff [VAN], Seidenberg [FLA], Sulzer [NSH]), and two forwards (Sturm [BOS], Goc [NSH]). The majority (16 in all) come from the German Hockey League, DEL, with one forward, Philip Gogulla, coming from the AHL's Portland Pirates, the farm team for the Sabres.
Christoph Schubert (ATL) and Jochen Hecht (BUF) are the only current NHLers to be left off the squad, probably for the less than spectacular seasons, but considering the rest of the lineup, you would think they would have made it. Heatley doesn't count anymore, and I don't think it would be enough anyway.

Switzerland
Two borderline four NHLers in the gang... Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller and Isles defenseman Mark Streit are the two bonafide NHLers. Defenseman Yannick Weber has spent most of his time in the AHL on the Hamilton Bulldogs but has appeared in three games for the Habs, while defenseman Luca Sbisa, who was part of the Pronger trade package that went to Anaheim, has appeared in nine games for the big club, but is currently injured for the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the WHL. Forward Andres Ambuhl is another AHL member, playing on the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers affiliate. Goaltender Martin Gerber is the only roster member from the KHL, playing for Atlant Mytishchi, while defenseman Severin Blindenbacher plays in the SEL for Farjestad Karlstad. The remaining sixteen members all play in the Swiss Nationalliga A.
Hey, its Switzerland, you can't snub anybody, they're neutral. Oh, there's David Aebischer, remember him?
United States
And last but not least... The second team completely dominated by NHLers, with the Kings (Quick, Johnson, & Brown) and the Devils (Parise, Langenbrunner, & Martin) each sending three. There's no way the US is filling two competitive squads, but there were some mistakes made in these selections by Burke and Wilson.
So who got left out? James has got the list once again, and I'm going to do my swapping, once again. I'm taking Craig Anderson (this year) over Jonathan Quick (every year), that's a glaring mistake to me, but it probably won't matter since we're talking about the third spot.
I see a lot of holes in the defense, but I don't know who you plug in instead, the American's just don't have a lot of exciting defensemen to choose from. The only offensive defensemen I see on that lineup are Rafalski and Erik Johnson, the rest are stay at home guys, or aren't smart enough to pick their spots (Jack Johnson).
Get Dustin Brown and Ryan Callahan the hell out of there! I don't get why everyone thinks Dustin Brown is any good, I've never seen him do anything, except for this. Take your pick with substitutes, Connolly, Oshie, Rolston, Umberger, Modano, even Tkachuk, I'll take any of them over those two. But we're going with youth this year, so staples like Modano and Tkachuk are sent packing. We'll see how well that works out.
And there you have it. Maybe I should have called this 'National Team Distribution with a Sprinkle of Snubs' but it works none the less. Hope you enjoy. If not, fuck off.

Hot or Not?

Looking at the games last night its easy to see who's rolling and who's toiling. At midseason, there's always the opportunity for redemption and to get your shit together, or for things to fall apart and bust at the seams. Based on the games last night let's check out who's hot and who's not.

Chicago 5 vs. Boston 2
  • Boston gave up a two-goal lead, and looked lost after that with no offensive spark. Is that due to the injury (?) to Savard? Is that going to be one of those injuries that looks like nothing and turns out to be a broken leg that puts him out for months?
  • Thomas got yanked after allowing four. I know he's an unorthodox goalie, but he's no Hasek, and his flopping is starting to look like a fish out of water that's about to get stepped on.
  • Miro Satan scored in his first game as a Bruin, that could be the start and end of hot streak for him.
  • Keith with two goals on wise shot selections from the point, a slapper from the point that was ripped, and a nice flutter for the second.
  • Kane is on a nine-game point streak.
Chicago is hot, Boston is not. Chicago will definetely make the post, Boston probably will too.

Ottawa 2 vs. Washington 5
  • Leclaire's good year in Columbus was a total fluke, he's a flunkie.
  • Cheechoo has his fourth goal this season, he's on pace for eight. That's four less than last season.
  • Backstrom is still growing into the game, that is fucking scary.
  • I think you could power a small city with the amount of electricity that Ovechkin creates when he has the puck.
Washington is hot, Ottawa is not. Washington's a sure bet, Ottawa not so much.

NY Rangers 1 vs. Atlanta 2 (SO)
  • Hot and cold, that's how the Rangers run. After that breakout game against Dallas, they follow it up with a stinker in Atlanta. I don't know how they're in the seventh spot in the Conference.
  • I don't think it could get any emptier in Atlanta. If Kovalchuk leaves, is there any reason to keep the franchise there? If Kovalchuk takes $10mil/yr. or some other ridiculous number, is there any reason to keep the franchise there? You can thank Waddell for that little scenario.
NY Rangers are lukewarm, Atlanta is not. The Rangers will probably make the post, just because the lower half of the East sucks, including Atlanta.

Florida 0 vs. Montreal 2
  • Halak is either giving Gainey fits, or making him very happy. Since Allen Walsh's tweeting, Halak has pushed Price to be better, and Price has been.
  • Florida is missing David Booth, and any type of consistency.
Montreal is hot, Florida is not. Montreal has a good shot, Florida has just about blown it.

Philadelphia 7 vs. Pittsburgh 4
  • What a shootout, and Philly actually had 8. That no goal call was bullshit. Richard's look back to the referee was priceless when he was getting an explanation.
  • Despite the call, Gagne has looked solid since returning with an assist in each of the last three games, not to mention the four point night he had his first game back with a hat trick.
  • vanRiemsdyk had two "breakaways" and finished with the exact same move, backhand through the five hole on Fleury and Johnson.
  • Crosby absolutely blasted that rebound past Leighton, he had no chance. Letang made a great move at the point to get that shot off.
  • This was definetely a Peter Laviolette-type game the Flyers played, lots of speed on the forecheck, more wide open, the score is the result. Its finally starting to come together.
As of right now, Philly is hot, and Pittsburgh is not. I think Philly starts to surge here and moves up the standings, the Pens would need a dramatic fall from grace to miss out.

Carolina 2 vs. Nashville 4
  • Nashville is second in the Central, 10 behind Chicago, 5 ahead of Detroit. They just keep pluggin' away.
  • Carolina has 11 wins on the season. Eleven. That's four less than Toronto, the second worst. Nothing is working.
Nashville is warm, Carolina is frigid. Nashville looks like they've got what it takes to make it to the dance, Carolina has got what it takes to get a good pick in the lottery.

Columbus 4 vs. Edmonton 2
  • Columbus breaks their four game winless streak by beating an even weaker opponent.
  • Where is Steve Mason? Steve not Chris.
  • Rumors swirl after Andy Murray was shown the door in St. Louis, that Hitchcock is next. Hitchcock is a good coach, but his style is not meshing with the type of hockey that needs to be played in Columbus. That is, exciting hockey.
  • Edmonton is lost, another rumor floating out there is Biron to Edmonton. Why?
Both Columbus and Edmonton are not hot. Columbus is not to far away from filling my prophecy of missing the post, Edmonton never had a chance.

Phoenix 0 vs. Vancouver 4
  • Burrows has his second hat trick in as many games. None of them were empty-netters or Power Play goals, one was shorthanded.
  • Luongo gets his third shutout of the year, and sits in 5th with 23 wins.
  • Vancouver is starting to come together, is it at the right time, or is it a little too early.
  • Phoenix is playing well sitting in fourth in the Conference, just not in this game.
Vancouver is hot, Phoenix has cooled a little. Both teams make it to the dance this year, which is huge for Phoenix.

St. Louis 2 vs. Anaheim 4
  • 'So Andy Murray wasn't the reason we were losing? Oh shit.'
  • 2003 Calder winner Barrett Jackman with a two goal night, one a shorty.
  • Bobby Ryan scores a goal, his first since a two goal night back on December 29th.
  • Jonas Hiller teetered on going .500 for the year, but got the win instead of going 13-13. 10th in the League in losses, not good in your contract year.
Neither team is hot, St. Louis is colder. Right now, neither of these teams are getting in.

Detroit 2 vs. Los Angeles 1
  • Jimmy Howard stopped 51 to get the win. Some ridiculous saves, but he got some bail out help as well. The Kings took 27 shots in the second, and didn't score until the third on a Power Play to tie it at 1-1.
  • Darren Helm with a great individual effort to get the game winner with 18 seconds left to play, you gotta watch the whole play (1:13). Detroit dumps it in from outside the blue line, Quick goes to play it but it doesn't make it to the trapezoid, so he tries to box out Helm who's forechecking hard to the puck. Detroit gets control, and Helm's mucking in the corner, gets knocked down by O'Donnell who allows him to get up and take it strong to the net. Awesome goal.
  • I don't know who's to blame on that one. Quick shouldn't have allowed it, but O'Donnell got blown by going to the net. I think O.D.'s days are numbered.
  • Ryan Smyth finally fits on a team again. Don't cry.

Detroit is starting to roll, they're hot, Kings are lukewarm. They need to pick it up if they want to make the post, I have no doubt Detroit will get in.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Starting to Payback the 20 Cents

Patrick Kane, infamously known for getting rowdy in the back of a Buffalo taxicab, famously known for good wheels and handling on the ice, is finally starting to pay it back, (not yet forward), to some of the kids that look up to him.

Kane, yet another viewer of the Winter Classic at Fenway, didn't flip to Spike TV to watch Manswers to find out the best way to have sex on a motorcycle after the game was over. No, he stayed tuned to NBC to catch probably one of the most important moments of his young life, to be named to the US Olympic team.

A lot of credit has been given to the braintrust at USA Hockey for the style in which the roster was revealed, using local youth hockey players to don the national jerseys with the pro's names on the back. Kane was so impressed by the show that he dialed up the powers-that-be in order to get the name of the boy who wore his so he could complete the memory for both of them by signing the jersey. A good thought on Kane's part, and a classy gesture.

A small step towards repolishing the reputation of being a bratty little cheap skate into one of being a big star and one of the best hockey players in the League.

Anywho, the original article can be found here in the Chicago Tribune, but it mainly uses Kane's kindness as a jumping off point to talk about how the Chicago sports teams, with the exception of the Hawks, have been sucking. But there are some interesting, if not obvious, quotes from Patty that I thought were worth re-posting.

First off the big one is, "If we don't win the Stanley Cup this year, we're not going to be happy, it's a pretty bold statement but... we know we have a good group in here and we can't get too full of ourselves."

Finally somebody on the team said it. Now that's pressure. Its bash-over-the-head apparent that the Hawks have put all the eggs in the proverbial basket to go for it all this year. Their roster will be dramatically different next year due to salary cap issues with the gargantuan contracts to Brian Campbell and Marian Hossa, and the resigning of the big three RFA's, Kane, Toews, and Keith.

Which ties in with the following quote, "I wouldn't mess with this team too much and I don't think they will either."

Its no doubt that the lineup changes after this season, but there have been many speculations about the Hawks going after that game changing rental player. The most mentioned name is Kovalchuk which has gained steam from Pierre LeBrun's mention on the Hotstove segment of HNIC.

Its hard to know whether a presence like that in the locker room will make any change in the chemistry, or be a worthwhile gamble on the scoresheet. Kovy is no doubt a talented offensive player, but his limited postseason experience, and his stats in those four games are less than impressive, (1 G, 1 A).

But the Hawks have offensive thrust, and at the beginning of the year, considering Khabibulin's departure and Huet's shaky play, that goaltending would be the chink in the armor. Biron is the most obvious name in terms of available goaltenders, but I don't think anyone's convinced that Biron is a goaltender that can lead a contending team to glory. Philly sure didn't. But Huet has picked up his play, and Niemi has been solid in relief, making the Indian a formidable opponent on every given night.

At the very least, the Blackhawks know what's expected of them, and that this may be their best opportunity to fulfill it, from young Kane on up.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Great Game!

The US Juniors take home gold in an amazing game against the reigning Champs with this goal...



That 'no look' was just brillant, fooled everyone on the odd-man rush.

All in all it was a great game, and the Canadians had just as much right to win it as the US if not more coming back again, from a two goal deficit to force it into OT.

Congrats to the USA Hockey program, with a big achievement to steal it back from the five-time Champs.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Contract Year Anomaly - The Pivots

Last but not least, we arrive at the most versatile position on the ice, the men who are held to be responsible offensively, as well as defensively. Yes that's right folks, we're talking about Centers.

Took me long enough right? Yeah, up yours.

Well I'll tell you one think I noticed when making up this fourth and final list, is the type of guy these centers are. They're commonly not your flashy superstars, they're you're grinding, everyman-type workhorse, rarely getting noticed, but contributing so much more than points or penalty minutes. Let's take a look shall we...

One-Year or Bust
Its hard to know whether these guys will be back for another year (or two) or whether they'll just hang 'em up, but they'll look for short-term deals to keep that flexibility. Damn, there's a lot of these guys this year.

Wila's waiting for me at home, I don't need this shit!
Mike Modano, C, DAL - $3.45mil - Modano's snub for this year's Olympic team could very well be the final insult. For the free-wheeling, leading American point-getter to not get a spot in a typically wide-open Olympic game (albeit in North America). He's already had the Captaincy taken away on the Stars, and has had to put up with the antics of Avery and Ott for too long.

Saku Koivu, C, ANA - $3.25mil - Saku's still got game in him, especially since connecting with countryman Teemu, who's also in a contract year. Their decisions will play off of one another, similar to previous years between Selanne and Niedermayer, who's also in a contract year. See the trend?

Craig Conroy, C, CAL - $1mil - Corduroy's getting long in the tooth, but he's a part of the glue in that Calgary locker room, I wouldn't be surprised to see Sutter ante up for at least another year.

Glen Metropolit, C, MTL - $1mil - Metropolit's another great glue guy in the locker room and on the bench. And he'll slap the shit out of anyone who says otherwise, or has a bullseye drawn on them.

Rob Niedermayer, C, NJD - $1mil - I guess anyone can thrive in a defensive system. And you're related to Scott.

Dean McAmmond, C, NJD - $500k - See what I mean? Except for the brother thing.

Doug Weight, C, NYI - $2.2mil - Isles will keep him because no one else will take their money. Unless you have bad hips or whine a lot and plan to move to Russia.

Robert Lang, C, PHX - $1mil - That achilles slice put his career in jeopardy, but Bobby's got too much grit not to get back in it. Smart signing for Phoenix, then and now.

Scott Nichol, C, SJS - $750k - Shrewd signing by Doug Murray to rebuild that 3rd line.

Manny Malhotra, C, SJS - $700k - See previous statement.

Jeff Halpern, C, TAM - $2mil - This is the anomaly. Just not this year.

Pavol Demitra, C, VAN - $4mil - I don't see anyone offering his groin more than a year, and I certainly expect Gillis to be done with him. KHL bound?

Brendan Morrison, C, WAS - $1.5mil - Supposedly he's had a resurgence in Washington, I don't see it. Not nearly the same player he was.

Payday
Blair Betts, C, PHI - $550k - You may not think so, but a guy like this is key to every team's success. He has quietly shown that he's not a throwaway on a team that has plenty of star power (just not showing it). Now he's not going to get paid a hefty sum, but he'll be paid at least double or triple what he's making now, and that's a deal for both parties involved.

John Madden, C, CHI - $2.75mil - Madden is the premiere defensive specialist in the league and ain't too shabby at taking draws either. I doubt if Chicago will have the space to keep him in the fold and he'll no doubt go to the highest bidder.


Don't try this anywhere.
Matthew Lombardi, C, PHX - $1.8mil - Lombardi is one of the reasons why Phoenix is coming together as a team. Again, this is a guy worth more than his point totals, he adds meat to a roster, but he's also putting up points too, now that he's got the ice time. Maloney will re-up if he gets the green light to spend.

I am part ape.
Olli Jokinen, C, CAL - $5.25mil - The only reason I throw the Orangutan on here is because I believe he will see a dramatic reduction in his pricetag. And yet, he and his agent will be looking for big numbers, and they may find it, on the Florida's and Phoenix's of the League. Calgary is none too pleased with the dividend from this move, and I fully expect him to be on his way out of town not being the fit the Sutter's thought they were looking for.

I'm going to take this puck and put it in the net.
Patrick Marleau, C, SJS - $6.3mil - Doug Wilson's loss is someone else's gain. This guy is what you want in a hockey player, and you won't have to spent 20% of your payroll to get him. 'Nuff said.

Odds and Ends
Steve Begin, C, BOS - $850k - There's a gap in between, where I end and you...
Adam Mair, C, BUF - $760k - Hard to see this guy playing anywhere else but Buffalo.
Brandon Prust, C, CAL - $500k - Utility guy in Calgary.
Matt Cullen, C, CAR - $2.875mil - Nobody looks good in Carolina this year.
Stephane Yelle, C, CAR - $550k - Boston's not the same without him.
Matt Hendricks, C, COL - $500k - Really impressed a lot folks in Denver.
Steve Ott, C, DAL - $1.425mil - Fucknut. Who wants him?
Toby Petersen, C, DAL - $550k - Working his way up the ranks.
Jason Williams, C, DET - $1.5mil - Seems like a lot for the return.
Mike Comrie, C, EDM - $1.25mil - Was returning to form before injury.
Dominic Moore, C, FLA - $1.1mil - Haven't heard him mentioned since he got traded to B-lo.
Kamil Kreps, C, FLA - $683k - Sounds like an STD.
Eric Belanger, C, MIN - $1.75mil - Another soldier in a faceless crowd.
Chris Higgins, C, NYR - $2.25mil - At least we got rid of Gomez.
Ryan Shannon, C, OTT - $600k - You stay classy.
Matt Stajan, C, TOR - $1.75mil - Whip cream on shit. Or is it the other way around?
Wayne Primeau, C, TOR - $1.4mil - Waaay too much money.
John Mitchell, C, TOR - $488k - Don Cherry is brokering a deal for him with Brian Burke.
Ryan Johnson, C, VAN - $1.1mil - More than likely replaceable.

Offer Sheet Bait
Bryan Little, C, ATL - $900k - Has played himself into a well-paying contract.
Vladimir Sobotka, C, BOS - $750k - Boston should have enough, right?
Dustin Boyd, C, CAL - $650k - Good depth player for a strong Calgary team.
Darren Helm, C, DET - 600k - Can't imagine Holland letting him go.
Sam Gagner, C, EDM - $1.625mil - Worth less than the guy below.
Andrew Cogliano, C, EDM - $1.13mil - Opportunity to step up in a lost season.
Marc-Antoine Pouliot, C, EDM - $825k - Arbitration Eligible - Injuries = playing time.
Ryan Potulny, C, EDM - $595k - See previous statement.
Gregory Campbell, C, FLA - $763k - Arbitration Eligible - Should get a better contract.
Nick Tarnasty, C, FLA - $525k - Arbitration Eligible - Shouldn't get a better contract.
Edward Purcell, C, LAK - $600k - Come on Teddy, step it up.
James Sheppard, C, MIN - $1.4mil - Hasn't he been on this team forever?
Andrew Ebbett, C, MIN - $500k - Arbitration Eligible - Ended up in purgatory.
Tom Pyatt, C, MTL - $850k - Habs have a hundred of these guys.
Maxim Lapierre, C, MTL - $688k - Arbitration Eligible - Supposedly good.
Marcel Goc, C, NSH - $550k - Trending downward.
Rodney Pelley, C, NJD - $550k - Arbitration Eligible - Lou?
Rob Schremp, C, NYI - $715k - Worked at Dunkin' Donuts last season.
Erik Christensen, C, NYR - $750k - Arbitration Eligible - Kicked around.
Peter Regin, C, OTT - $608k - You pooped in the fridge?
Jesse Winchester, C, OTT - $550k - Arbitration Eligible - Collect.
Darroll Powe, C, PHI - $520k - Pay up.
Peter Mueller, C, PHX - $1.7mil - Value's gone down.
Martin Hanzal, C, PHX - $980k - Not impressed.
Daniel Winnik, C, PHX - $600k - Him either.
Alexander Steen, C, STL - $1.7mil - Arbitration Eligible - Has played better, but...
Boyd Gordon, C, WAS - $761k - Take 'em or leave 'em.
Thomas Fleischmann, C, WAS - $725k - Arbitration Eligible - Will get more.
My mouth is always open.
Joe Pavelski, C, SJS - $1.638mil - Arbitration Eligible - I know he's a mouth-breather and all, but he's shown a lot more this season. He's got a hell of a shot, and his faceoff percentages have been getting better and better. He'll collect.
Sometimes, I look like a girl.
Nicklas Backstrom, C, WAS - $2.4mil - There's basically three guys on this team. One's signed for a shit ton, the second is in his contract year as well, and then you've got Backstrom. If Semin balks, let him walk, you want to keep Backstrom, he's only going to get better and better.
This is my best move.
Ryan Kesler, C, VAN - $1.75mil - Arbitration Eligible - I have no doubt that Gillis will get Kesler his contract. He's rounding out his game that already includes scoring, and pestering the shit out of the other team. Works nicely with the other signing(s) last summer.
Well, that's it, hopefully this will give us something to look at leading up to Canada Day, the most exciting day of the offseason. Looking forward to it.

Wanna Piss Your Pants Laughing?!

... on this anything but glorious Monday back at hell.



This had me losing my shit all day long. Kinda like the Juggernaut. Bitch.

Thanks to Vance at Bangin' Panger for the find, a little more background on it here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Midseason Gut Check

We're right about at the 42 game mark for all teams so lets take a look at where teams stand, and how our predictions are holding up.

In the West...
We flipped a coin with four for eight.

The Underdogs
I don't think anyone expected Colorado to do as well as they have, so that's a blemish in everyone's picks. Phoenix is the feel good story of the year, and a trip to the dance this season, in my opinion, will show the true colors of the love for the team, and its viability in Arizona. Nashville is always plugging away, Barry Trotz is a miracle worker in achieving more with less, and having two goaltenders playing for a contract will always make things competitive. Los Angeles has waited far too long for a trip, so it good to see this team finally come of age.

The Underachievers
Detroit has been riddled with injuries on key personnel and yet is still easily within reach, wouldn't worry about them missing out. Dallas has just been too inconsistent, firing Tippett and hiring Crawford was Nieuwendyk's first mistake. St. Louis could very well be poised to make their comeback, but instead they'll be reeling from Murray's dismissal, and their disbelief when they realize that he wasn't the cause of it. Anaheim has just sucked plain and simple. Hiller is not playing nearly as well as he should be, and their defense is just shit this year.

Right On
Chicago and San Jose are right where they should be, Calgary looks strong enough to secure a berth. Vancouver on the other hand should be playing better than they should, especially since they have that ridiculous roadtrip during the Olympics that's probably going to put a dent in their record. Then again, they could peak at that right time come Spring.

In the East...
Did a little better with six of eight.

The Underdogs
Buffalo has bounced back from last season's miss of the post with impressive play so far. Please address all Thank You notes to Ryan Miller. Ottawa's in it because Mike Fisher is hitting high notes with Carrie Underwood. I don't think they've got what it takes to stay in it, especially in goal.

The Underachievers
Well Toronto might have been a bit ambitious, then again they're only six points out of the last spot its anybody's guess as to who makes it in. Except of course for Carolina. Philadelphia is the real underachiever of the League, getting the passive coach axed with uninspired play, and more than enough talent to make it. I didn't mind Stevens as a coach, but he probably wasn't the right guy for that particular type of team, with their particular brand of hockey. Laviolette is a much better coach, but the results from the change in command have not been what the Philly brass is looking for. Losing the Classic that was handed to them by Thomas doesn't make it any sunnier.

Right On
As I mentioned before, the pack is still tight with nearly ten teams on the bubble. By the way, the three teams sitting just outside the eighth spot with just a point off, Isles, Thrash, and Bolts. Would you have guessed? New Jersey is in their typical form. Pittsburgh has been inconsistent at best, but good enough to make it in. Washington has too much firepower to be out of it, but will it be enough to overcome their defensive lapses? Boston has been shoddy at best, and lost more than it thought with the departures of Kessel, Axelsson, and Ward. Twit Allen Walsh has singlehandedly fired up the goaltending competition between Price and Halak, and Cammalleri has been lighting it up enough to keep them in the hunt. The New York Rangers will be in based on how good Gaborik and Lundqvist are against the other Eastern Conference bubble teams.

Individual Stats
  • Joe Thornton is ridiculously good at dishing the puck, especially when he's got two triggermen like Heatley and Marleau to give him all those helpers, (Marleau with 26 goals, Heatley with 24). He's got 9 to 10 more assists than his competition, and that includes those eerie Swedish twins.
  • Speaking of Marleau, have I mentioned him before? Letting Marleau go will be Doug Wilson's biggest mistake as GM of the Sharks without question.
  • No 50 in 50 this year. With all those injuries and suspensions OV couldn't do it. And if Gaborik actually had some more help he might have been able to do it.
  • Ryan Miller, is without question the best goaltender in the League thus far. Bryzgalov is showing that he is capable of being the number one and is providing the impetus for Phoenix to make the show.
  • No chance of Andy Murray winning the Jack Adams. Now.