- For all the right moves Stevie Y made in his first GM attempt in Tampa, the goaltending band-aid was the most over looked. Mike Smith was already in the stable coming off a banged up year, Niittymaki had left for San Jose on free agency, so Yzerman picked up Dan Ellis the same way. Smith/Ellis tandem didn't exactly create fear in opposing forwards and similarly probably didn't give the Bolts confidence from the back either. As you would expect, the two goalie's play has been mediocre at best all year, despite the fact that Lightning have been playing some incredible hockey with Stamkos and St. Louis at the forefront. So the immortal Wing picks up Dwayne Roloson, shipping what was left of the disastrous Dan Boyle trade from his predecessors, to the Island. Rollie pulls a 1-0 shutout in his first start, against the Caps no less, and then gets thrown in net the next night by Boucher for an 8-1 stinker against the Pens. Now you can't judge a trade based on two games, but at the very least they've added a veteran competitor who hates to lose, and hopefully in the process pushes either Ellis or Smith to get their shit together. My guess is that they'll be playing for the backup role regardless.
- As an aside, I think Friedman mentioned it, when Yzerman was asked why he didn't pursue Nabokov after the news that he had been released from his KHL contract, and instead pulled the trigger in Roloson, he stated that he didn't think Nabby would clear waivers.
Box Office Winter Ordinary
- HBO's 24/7 was a huge success in that it exposed the non-hockey fan to the game in an in-depth fashion, and allowed the rapid hockey fan to eat up all the nuances and intricacies of life between the periods for the players, coaches, and GM's. The selection of teams for the Classic was a yawn for most of us, chalking it up to a contrived rivalry, but it was genius for documentary using the two posterboys of the League to ham up the drama. The location was the real bust. I don't think Heinz Field strikes anyone outside of Pittsburgh as a truly memorable location like Wrigley or Fenway. The real disappointment in the series lies in the fact that it was only four episodes long.
- My next pick for the Winter Classic: New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings in Central Park. Think about it, Bettman's always talking about how the TV ratings drive the markets, well here's the two biggest cities in the U.S. going to head to head with youthful teams showing a lot of promise. There's not a real rivalry there, but who are you going to match the Rangers up with? The sadness that is the Islanders? Or Devils for that matter? I know it'll never happen in terms of feasibility, but the League's going to have to keep coming up with new ideas, and you might as well start literally thinking outside the box (of existing sports stadiums) and go with a venue shakeup. Bangin Panger had some good ideas on the next Winter Classic.
- Oh, and somebody else mentioned this and I wholeheartedly agree, don't show other games that day either. The only other game I was looking for was the Heritage Classic and that wasn't scheduled for another two months.
Cursing the Canucks
- Ryan Kesler has taken a huge leap in terms of becoming a complete hockey player. Always known as a defensive centerman, his production has seen a dramatic increase at the other end of the ice. And its not like his benefitting from the telepathy of the Sedin's either, less than half of his goals have come on the powerplay where he's paired with the twins. With 41 points in 42 games, he's learned to shut his mouth and hit 'em where it hurts.
- Vancouver is humming right now aren't they? Too early to peak? That whole roster is playing well right now. Torres is playing some of the best hockey I've ever seen him play, Malhotra is still lights out in the dot, Raymond is playing well, Bieksa has turned it into something positive. It would be scary if Samuelsson actually got the goal scoring going. Somebody needs to piss him off, maybe tell him to fuck himself.
- I'll tell you I could not care less about the All-Star Game. I haven't even looked at the rosters, despite it being plastered everywhere in some sort of greasy combination with fans bitching about snubs, media whining about how players asked not to be included so they could rest, and the League boasting it as an important marketing event. While the idea of "Captains" picking the teams is novel, the game needs a complete overhaul to make entertaining (and remotely interesting). And who needs Captains for an All-Star Game anyway? Let the players pick the two Coaches (can't pick their own), and let the Coaches pick the two teams. I know the Coaches don't have the personality (unless we're talking Ron Wilson vs. John Tortorella), but I can't stomach another Crosby vs. Ovechkin makeout session.
Do You Smell Something?
- How fucked is Ottawa? Completely dysfunctional. Murray wants to fire Clouston, and Melnyk tells Murray if he does that he's gone too. Frankly that's the best idea I've heard come out of that organization.
- Wanna see parity? Check out the glut in spots 1 through 12 in the Western Conference.
- Wanna see a distinct separation between playoff teams and non-playoff teams? Look at the Eastern Conference.
- The lowest scoring team in the West (Edmonton) has the lowest scoring team in the East (New Jersey) beat by 25 goals. And a -55 in goal differential I might add.
- This shit between Langenbrunner and Lemaire had to come to a head at some point after catching whiffs of it stemming from last year when Lemaire was at the helm before retiring. Again. I think it's pretty obvious that Kovalchuk's arrival rubbed Jaime the wrong way, and the $100million offseason and subsequent abysmal year following probably didn't help matters.
- The Pacific Division has three teams in the top 8 spots, Dallas (Leader), Phoenix, and Anaheim. Los Angeles and San Jose are on the outside looking in right now, how many of you would have predicted that even at this point in the season?
- And I don't mean to jump on the bandwagon with this, but this Guardian project is as bad as Chaka Khan at the Awards Show. Especially when they're all rip-offs.