Monthly Archives: October 2009

Red Wings Redux

They’re the Yankees of hockey, the Cowboys of the NHL and fodder for the media hype of a downed dynasty.  Red Wings fans are not worried. Panic just makes things worse, and in this case worse is not an option.  The team will be back, stronger than ever.  Bandwagon bummers can get off at the next stop.

 

Cautious hockey blogs are stating the obvious:  the Wings don’t look like the team that almost won the Stanley Cup.  They’re not!  The team lost three major players that had a direct impact on scoring:  Jiri Hudler, Mikael Samueslson, and Marian Hossa.  Evidently the trio made an impact, and while the Wings added players with strengths not all have NHL experience.

 

Transitioning perhaps, however, scouting and management decisions have brought some great talent throughout the years and this season is no different.  Sure, the younger guys are still squeaky, but by no means are Pavel Datsyk and Henrik Zetterberg past their prime.  The younger players such as Villa Leino and Jonathan Ericsson were hot during the Stanley Cup playoffs last season; one hopeful, Valterri Filppula will miss 4-8 weeks with a broken wrist.  They’ll get it back.  Detroit is always cautious about any game and expects the best.

 

Pleasure may be derived by some based on the Red Wings slow start, but with a 25-week season I’m not worried about the situation.  Even during down times in Detroit’s hockey history, the fans stood tall and behind their team.  I’m no exception.

 

This week was the tour of Canada, and the Red Wings sparked the team with their first road win in Vancouver coming from a 2-0 deficit to win 5-4.  The Edmonton Oilers know what it’s like to be down and were also discouraged by last season’s performance. With a new attitude the Oilers came out strong, stumping the Wings to a 4-0 deficit.  Wing goalie Jimmy Howard was in deep water, but the Wings rallied to tie the game 4-4 to gain a point.  In the end, a shootout won the Oilers the game.

 

This hard work and talent can move the puck creating the team that everyone loves to hate, yet respects because they play the game well and make a good opponent.   No one is debating the ability of the team, but with a Halloween game in Calgary, and Steve Yzerman being inducted into the Hockey Hall of fame on the same day, Red Wings fans are hoping for a treat, not a trick.

 

Glows and Blows- Week 3

Glows-

The Phoenix Coyotes who beat the Red Wings in overtime with an unexpected bounce of the puck off of goalie Chris Osgood’s stick.  Great game.

Sid the Kid played his 300th game with a power play goal, shorthanded goal and shootout goal to win over the Florida Panthers Friday.

Blows-

Oiler Sheldon Souray managed to bring the gossip to the NHL, with messy divorce and custody battle reports usually heard only in the NBA or NFL pages.

Sean Avery finally hit his limit when the New Jersey Devils came to The Garden clocking five for fighting with Mike Mottau.

Colorado Avalanche commentators for the Avs-Wings game Saturday, who showed their lack of hockey knowledge to suggest that the Red Wings era was over, and that the buzz in Detroit followed suit.  Have you been to Michigan?  Talk like that will get you in trouble.  Don’t Cross My Blue Line!

NHL Top 3, Week 3

Week 3 of the NHL season has created a contest of the top 3 NHL draft picks for top prize. But who has actually fared the best?

John Tavares landed with the struggling New York Islanders.  While he was a top choice in the draft, many fantasy owners were wary of taking him early or at all for their roster. Tavares topped lists of “do not draft lists,” including Puck Daddy’s own pre-rank.     Hoping he would bring fans to the games, Tavares has brought an excitement with his talent and skill to the fans with 3 goals and 4 assists.  The Islanders are not faring as well as hoped, sitting next to last in the Eastern Conference and last in their Atlantic division with a 1-2-1 home record, and sad 0-2-2 in road trips.  Tavares has done all he can, but the Islanders still seem disjointed.  It’s only the beginning and I’ve seen teams come from the bottom to make it to the playoffs.  Not so sure that the turnaround can happen, but Tavares has raised a star in his positive attitude and heart to help the team rebuild.

Second pick, Victor Hedman is listed with 4 assists and 10 PIMs for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has achieved the highest regard playing with Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone and Mattias Ohlund on the top line, but not as much of a buzz coming from the gulf coast as in Denver and the Island.  Not a huge fan of the beach leagues, but am admittedly interested in watching how this plays out as the Lightning are sitting in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference.  Home games are hot with a 3-0-1 showing but a tough break on the road with 0-3-1. Hedman will have to push it harder if the Lighting can make it closer to the top of the Southeast with Washington sitting pretty on top.

Matt Duchene, who most have claimed that he was the most NHL ready of the top picks, had made his presence know in his new home in Denver, Colorado.  Expectations have been rocky mountain high, and the fans just want the Avs to win.  Sitting firmly in first in the Western Conference with a record of 7-1-2, and undefeated on home ice.  Duchene’s season has begun with a bang posting 1 goal and 5 assists. There’s cautious talk in Denver regarding the playoffs; too soon to speculate, but Duchene is a rookies that has made the impact most teams dream of.  With the mentoring I saw at training camp from veterans Brett Clark, Darcy Tucker and Wojtek Wolski, I’m not surprised that the third overall pick is excelling in the Northwest division.

Colorado Avalanche’s lousy last season has turned into a spectacular turn around and Matt Duchene has made the impact any team would like to see in their top draft pick.  Tavares has great scoring potential, and in my two fantasy leagues he has a place on both rosters, but he needs to lift his team up in the ranks.  Victor Hedman is showing a 33% ownership in fantasy league, while Duchene is only 18% owned.  Tavares wins with 85% owned in fantasy leagues.  Glad to see these top rookies have delivered on their skills and created energy in the NHL for the fans.

Glows and Blows- Week 2

Off to a crazy start, this is how the glows and blows shook out:

Glows-

Nicklas Lidstrom’s scores his 1,000th goal with a win over the Kings.

Ryan O’Reilly who was rewarded by the Avs for scoring a game winning goal; his prize- Center on the opening line against the Detroit Red Wings.  He also added two assists in that game.  Matt Duchene scored his first NHL game during the same game and hobnobbed with Gordie Howe after the game in Detroit.

Blows-

David Clarkson of the New Jersey Devils who by my prediction had his weekly fight for five.  These are good blows for those fantasy PIMs.

The Vancouver Canucks who can’t seem to make the chemistry work, including goalie Roberto Luongo who just can’t catch his breadth.

NHL Oldies, but Goodies

Forging into the second week of the NHL season, all eyes are on the rookies, Islander John Tavares, Lightning Victor Hedman, and Avs Matt Duchene.   The young players are vital to the sport, but fans may want to divert their eyes a few seconds for the veterans skaters who may be playing their last year in the league.  They may be considered past their prime, but they show no signs of slowing down.

Legendary feisty Red Wings alumni, Chris Chelios, at age 47 did not want to stop playing the game he loved.  His team had other plans, however.  And despite the rejection and the lack of offers, Cheli remains out on the hunt for his next team.  With 25 NHL seasons with three different teams, and three Stanley Cups, Chelios was the NHL’s oldest active player in 2008-09 playing with the Red Wings during the Stanley Cup finals.

Chelios, a Chicago native, was captain of the Blackhawks from 1995-99. He was traded to Detroit in 1999. His NHL career includes 185 goals and 763 assists for 948 points.   The man wants to play hockey, and looks forward to the opportunity to play in a city he has ties with.  Practicing and potentially playing with The Chicago Wolves,  the Atlanta Thrashers’ top affiliate,  Chelios isn’t concerning himself with playing for his fourth NHL team if called up.

The Wings face some questions on the future of Captain Nick Lidstrom, 39, who dealt with knee surgery prior to the 2099-10 season. Two assists during the October 15th game with the Los Angeles Kings gave Lidstrom his 1,000-career point ranking eighth for defensemen in the halls of NHL history.   Lidstrom has played a total of 1,336 games, all with the Red Wings.

As quoted in the Detroit Free Press, “It’s been lots of fun for him, for sure,” Holmstrom said. “He’s been around for a long time so it’s good to see him get that milestone.”

Bill Guerin, 38, made some stink to be relocated out of the Island for his second Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Prior, he also won a Stanley Cup in 1994-95 with the New Jersey Devils.  Remember Ray Bourqe’s transfer to the Avs for his chance?  Great moment s are delivered to the fans, and these veterans get a shot because the league and players want to see it happen.  Fans feel the elation of players like Guerin and Bourque to fulfill their final goal.

Doug Weight, also 38, stayed on the Island and is now taking time to work with rookie John Tavares. Weight won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2005-06 season.  His influence is crucial for the rebuilding Islanders where mentoring is vital to the team’s cohesion.   Veterans are valuable to the growth and development of a player to adapt to a new style and to new teammates.  The veterans also get to see the innovations and fresh approaches of the new squad.

Boston Bruin Mark Recchi, 41, has played for half of the eastern seaboard and has landed in Boston for what could be his final fun.   On October 12, 2009, Recchi scored his 546th goal of his NHL career.  The “Recchin’ Ball,” has won two Stanley Cups: 1990-91 with the Pittsburgh Penguins and in 2005-06 with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Newly crowned Captain Adam Foote has tons of skills to bestow on the third pick in the draft, Matt Duchene.  Foote is no stranger to success, winning two Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001 with the Colorado Avalanche.   His leadership is adding excitement to this up and coming team in the Western Conference.

Dwayne Roloson, 40, stood out behind the net last year in Edmonton.  Far away from his family, the goaltender knew his years were dwindling.  The distance, the traveling, the tough play and hawkish puck monitoring can exhaust older players.  Hockey is a tough job.

With a flare for toughness, readiness and willingness, the NHL veteran players deserve our last look before they retire.  Joe Sakic’s retirement was painful for the Colorado Avalanche community, Steve Yzerman’s last game made me cry, and Gretzky’s last call was a national event.  Enjoy the season and the seasoned players before it’s over.

Glows and Blows

Week 1 of the NHL season is nearing its end.  Here’s my votes for the week:

Glows-

The Detroit Red Wings who won last night agains the Washington Capitals despite the devastating loss of winger Johan Franzen.   Center Valtteri Filppula and LW Ville Leino proved the depth of the Wings is not a hoax lifting the team to a 3-2 win.

Wojtek Wolski of the Colorado Avalanche with the highest points scored on the team and dispelling myths that he’s washed up.

Shark Devin Setoguchi who is proving that he is not overrated.

Blows-

The Phoenix Coyotes with a strong start to the season, posted a goose egg on their opening night in the desert.  The game was a sold out, white out, which made the loss worse for fans and the team

Maple Leaf ‘s “Monster” Jonas Gustavson who was placed on IR due to a groin injury adding further fire to the goalie controversy in Toronto.

Franzen Out: Wings Clipped

Two weeks into the NHL season, the Detroit Red Wings find themselves facing tough decisions based on unforeseen circumstances.  Powerhouse Johan Franzen suffered a torn ACL causing a potential devastating blow to the struggling Wings, as Franzen could be out a minimum of four months, and not return until after the Olympic break. In the last two seasons, Franzen has scored 61 goals during the regular season and revved 25 points in playoff games.

As of now, the plan is to place predicted breakout candidate Valtteri Filppula as left wing on the line of Danny Cleary and Ville Leino until final line decisions can be made. Filppula performed well last year tallying 40 points and 42 PIMs, showcasing his ability for scoring contributions.  Roster depth of the Wings also includes left-winger Ville Leino who was called up last year from Detroit’s AHL affiliate the Grand Rapids Griffins.  He only contributed 9 points and 6 PIMs but showed his dedication and hard work to bring the Red Wings to a game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Another Griffin, Justin Abdelkader, had been sent back down the AHL team, but has now been recalled to take Franzen’s spot on the roster.  Though not posting any points, The Red Wings have been watching his progress and he will get the opportunity to make the difference.

Another detrimental blow to the roster is Center Darren Helm who was placed on injury reserve with a sprained shoulder and is not expected to play immediately.  Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, who has dealt with a left knee injury, is expected to return sooner than later. Ericsson proved his worth last year bringing an energetic Wings style of play despite more PIMs than points during the playoffs.

The Wings’ recent acquisitions Todd Bertuzzi, Jason Williams and Patrick Eaves will be expected to take some of the slack as seasoned NHL players who can put the heat on the puck toward the net.

The Zen is back for goalie Chris Osgood as he will have to keep his meditation on ice truly centered.  Back-up goaltender Jimmy Howard had a slow start but should feel some comfort with his fellow Grand Rapids pals with him on the ice.

Winners and Weaknesses- Week 1.5

Wild West:

Are they for real?  The young guns of the Colorado Avalanche have come out and shocked the NHL community.  The bandwagon is buzzing in favor of Wojtek Wolski who stuck it to Puck Daddy with a productive weekend of scoring, who is on one of my fantasy rosters.

Rookie of the Year, according to Don Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada, goes to Avs’ Matt Duchene who showed his smooth moves and ability to play in tempo despite the awe of sharing the ice with his favorite team growing up.

Paul Stasny kept up the pace, as well as fighters Cody McLeod and Darcy Tucker scrapping their way to victory.

Can’t believe the Phoenix Coyotes Czech line with Radim Vrabta-Petr Prucha-Martin Hanzal who set up and scored.  The Coyotes home announcers were as shocked as I was on the upgrade in play.

The Detroit Red Wings are a bit injured after a slow start to the season with Jonathan Ericksson leaving with an injury and two losses in Stockholm where the fans love the Wings. The Detroit Free Press reported, “There may not be much to talk about when it comes to Ericsson. He took a shot off the unprotected part of his ankle, above the boot, after scoring his goal in the first period Friday and could go for only 1:03 in the second period before leaving the game for good.”  Darren Helm, and Villa Leino can step up due to the Wings depth of players. But can they repair everything?

Former AHL groomed goalie Jimmy Howard’s debut was not good as the Wings are showing off their new star power.

St. Louis Blues are 2-0 and leaders in the division; don’t read into the first few games, right?  Looking good with the return of Paul Kariya, veterans Keith Tkachuk, Andy McDonald, and energetic upstarts, as T.J. Oshie will make the Blues tough to contend with.

Players to watch:  San Jose’s Ryan Clowe with 9 PIMs.   Coyotes Radim Vrbata for solid scoring and Scottie Upshall for 6 PIMs

Eastern Promises:

The New York Islanders also debuted top pick John Tavares who was also drafted in both of my fantasy leagues.  Injured Kyle Okposo is back and playing with an awareness of the need for his skills to bring the team back to its former glory.   My pick Mark Streit proved a worthy early round pick for defense with a Gordy Howe hat trick against Pittsburgh, despite losing the game in OT.  But good fantasy points, nonetheless.    Excitement around the new team and the Lighthouse Project has the Strong Island fans happy for the 2009-10 season for now.

Can the New York Rangers live without Sean Avery– is he really needed?  King Henry had it under control as usual.  Donald Brashear threw a few punches for good luck.

The Montreal Canadiens are mourning on Day 1- Andrei Markov was a huge loss, enough said.

Toronto Maple Leafs’ huge Monster of a goalie, Jonas Gustavsson still could not hush the goalie controversy week one.  Vesa Toskala’s struggles have been well documented, but the urgency for the Leafs if more than just in net.  Canadian teams are falling short compared to south of the border.

Players to watch:  Zdena Chara had 14 PIMs and Milan Lucic added 5 PIMs in one game.   Columbus Blue Jackets had an impressive win over Vancouver in the Canucks home opener.