Monthly Archives: November 2009

Glows and Blows- Week 8

Glows-

Wonder guy Marian Hossa returned to the line-up for the Blackhawks Wednesday night.

 

Would the Windy City have something to be thankful for?  Hossa showed up with a short-handed goal and a goal, but by weeks end, three shots on goal weren’t enough to deliver Friday night.  Half glow, half blow.

Avs rookie Matt Duchene scored his first home-ice goal at the Pepsi Center Saturday, but not enough to beat division rival the Minnesota Wild, but staying in the hunt for tops in the West.

 

Sid the Kid roped up his fourth hat trick in a slugfest against the New York Rangers.

Blows-

A two game suspension for Flyer Daniel Briere for a hit on Avalanche defenseman Scott Hannan.  Those Avs fans were mad.

 

Buffalo Sabre Craig Rivet, 35, and Philadelphia Flyer Daniel Carcillo, 24, took out frustrations twice on each other posting 20 minutes for fighting. Carcillo topped that with a game misconduct call for 10.

 

Out 4-6 weeks winger David Clarkson is a huge deficit for the Deveils. But Clarkson isn’t the only bruiser; Saturday, the game tallied 20 minutes of fighting with Pelley vs. Thompson and Corrente vs. Jackman.  Deep bruisers.

 

The New York Rangers have been turning the fists and digging in.  First, fighting with Tampa Bay earlier in the week posting 8 for roughing, 20 for fighting and 30 for misconduct.  Next night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, both hooked for 15 for fighting and 30 for misconduct.

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Avery Again

New York Ranger Sean Avery has been at the top of my shit list for a few years, but this year, Flame Dion Phaneuf, has achieved the top status.  As I draft my fantasy team every year, I always pick up a New York Ranger.  I’ve drafted Dubinsky, Callahan, the best goaltender, Henrik Lundquist, even Sean Avery years back before the battle with his cheap shots and loose talk.  But my moment of humble pie set in when I had to draft two players due to IR status for David Clarkson and Joffrey Lupul.  Like a kid in a candy store, I was able to pick up two freebie players to try out for a few weeks to months.  My fist pick was Wayne Simmonds of the LA Kings whose impressive play stood out.  Wayne would take care of goals and assists.

The next best type of player to have on your team is the PIM guy, the fighter.  So I popped in the roster stats to PIM and found a list including Sean Avery.  Had I gotten over his behavioral issues with that chick from 24 who now ironically is with Phaneuf?  Did what he say really matter?  Isn’t he just like any New Yorker, whose attitude I defend because I like it and appreciated the bluntness and their matter of fact way?  Not exactly.

Before making any move I cruised the Rangers roster to make certain I wasn’t missing anyone I couldn’t live without.  Brandon Dubinsky was on IR, Ryan Callahan was taken in both leagues, and I’ve broken up with Chris Drury for good after last year. Del Zotto was gone and far away from my reach in my leagues.  Defensemen Dan Girardi, Michal Rozsival, and Wade Redden didn’t exactly have the chutzpah I was looking for in defending my blue line.  I wanted a fighter.

Earlier in the year I posed the question in my story, Juicing Up the Big Apple, was Donald Brashear, punk or player?  I went on to say: Really?  Some say he’s the best defenseman in the league, but all I’ve seen is bashing. I’m a fan of fighting when it’s making room for the players to play, but some of his antics seem bullying.  He’s tallied one point yet 54 penalty minutes.  Still wasn’t interested.

Sean Avery raged 19 PIMs Saturday against the Penguins and caught my attention. So, alas, he has taken a LW seat on my roster being challenged for starts against Alex Burrows, Michael Cammalleri, and Tuomo Ruutu.  With 11 points on the season and 44 penalty minutes, he’ll get his start on Monday.   I think Sean will have a few weeks to prove himself or it’s back in the bin.

Avs in the Morning

It’s Tuesday November 24th and for breakfast I slam down a cup of coffee and head to Avs morning skate. The best breakfast ever.  I was glad to see twenty-five fans in the stands.  Play was lively and a lot of smiles.  The Colorado Avalanche have found their chemistry on the ice.

Defenseman Kyle Quincey and superstar rookie Matt Duchene chatted amongst themselves along the boards, while Adam Foote was supervising puck drills.  J-M Liles repeatedly plowed the puck toward the net, but frustration was apparent, as his shots didn’t fire head on.  With Liles on the IR twice this year, his spot on fantasy teams has caused frustration, me included.  Wojtek Wolski seemed tired, as I observed for my fantasy line-up and his potential against the upcoming Predators.  He was smiling and talking with Duchene between drills, so I hope he can hold my LW spot for Wednesday.

I was impressed with defenseman Ryan Wilson who had good shots and was extremely persistent in achieving an accurate shot.  His puck handling skills were tight and skilled.

The last players on the ice were Ryan O’Reilly and Chris Stewart having a blast challenging goaltender Peter Budaj.

After the morning skate, I went to hang with the group of Avalanche fans eagerly waiting for the team to sign autographs and get pictures.  As each car crept through the gate, fans swarmed politely.  These Avalanche fans were very bonded in their love for their team and courteous to the players. As Budaj drove out of the gate, fans wanted to know if he would be starting against Nashville. He said he wasn’t.

I had a chance to give my blog card to Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly.  I approached Stastny as fellow DU alumni, while I approached O’Reilly with “you’re on my fantasy team.”  He liked that.  I asked them both to check out my blog.

Shout out to Cody McLeod who got out of his truck to take pictures with everyone.  We were all glad he didn’t fight with ex-Av Lappy on Monday against the Flyers.

I’m not the best photographer with my camera phone, but here’s a few photos of Cody McLeod, Darcy Tucker and Ryan O’Reilly.

Until next morning skate, don’t cross my blue line!

Glows and Blows- Week 7

Glows-

The November 16th issue of The Hockey News was devoted to the blue line.  Heading up the charge was top defenseman Niklas Lidstrom.

There were more blows than glows this week, which meant lots of fighting.

Blows-

Battle of Ontario was a slugfest between the Leafs and Senators, posting 40 PIMs for fighting.  Only one game misconduct was called.

Brad May has established himself at the new Red Wing bad guy.  Despite the acquisition of Todd Bertuzzi, May has evolved into the spirited old school scrapper Darren McCarty style.

A bad blow for the Red Wings as Niklas Kronwall is out 4-8 weeks due to a hit by Canadien Georges Laraque.

My roster said DTD, but Minnesota bad boy David Backes took 2 for roughing against the Coyotes.  Last week his brutal blows didn’t seem to stop this week’s intensity. Welcome back!

Chicago’s Brent Seabrook and Flame Dion Phaneuf battled it out Thursday night for a great match up right in front of the penalty box.

Dallas Star James Neal did his duty against Columbus posting 19 PIMs in one game.  His hit on Blue Jacket Derek Dorsett cost Neal a two game suspension.

Atlanta Thrasher Maxim Afinogenov was dynamite against Tampa Bay, posting 6 PIMs, 4 for roughing.

Who’s Got the Luck?

Week 7 of the NHL brings both talent and luck to the top of the Conference standings.   Shots on goal, staking claim on the blue line and goaltending has contributed to the unpredictable rankings as we move past the first quarter of the season.

Eastern Conference:

1.

The Washington Capitals top the Eastern Conference despite having lost Alex Ovechkin for a brief stint.  Enter Mike Green, Brooks Laich and Brendan Morrison, among the few who had an opportunity to keep their team afloat.

Goaltending has been a round robin with Jose Theodore and Semyon Varlamov netting the top jobs, but thirdster Michal Neuvirth stepped into a game this week against Montreal. Neuvirth’s opportunity fell short with a loss of  2-3.

My prediction preseason comments:

Washington Capitals- Alexander Ovechkin rocks, we all know that, but I’ll be watching to see if the young goalie, Semyon Varlamov can hold it together.  Critics doubt the strength of this goaltender for the full-season impact, but what I saw last year in the unraveling of the New York Rangers was impressive.   And, Don Cherry loves to rip on Ovechkin for his grandstanding.  How ironic.

2.

When you talk about the New Jersey Devils, Martin Brodeur gets the high five, but the Devils have a strong base and have climbed up in the Eastern Conference because of good play.   The depth of players such as David Clarkson has proven a wise investment with 7 goals, 8 assists and 33 PIMs.  Zajac and Parise have held a stake in the play, but new faces have emerged as pickups in the fantasy world due to productivity.  Right-winger Niclas Bergfors has 5 goals and 9 assists. Defenseman Andy Greene nabbed 3 goals, 6 assists, not the highest stats, but a name that is popping up more frequently in commentary during the game.

Goaltending by Martin Brodeur has been consistent and spot on with a 12-5-1 record.   With a 98% ownership in Yahoo leagues, he’s expected to be great and it’s showing.

Preseason scoop:

New Jersey Devils– So I’m more of a fan of those New York teams, but I have to give it up for the Devils.  Despite Brodeur, I like most of the players.  Travis Zajac, Zach Parise and David Clarkson have all caught my attention like no other New Jersey team in the past.  I’ll be watching and drafting from this team.

3.

The Buffalo Sabres should have won the Stanley Cup in 1999, and I still have issues with that, therefore I am elated to see the Sabres sopping it up in the Eastern conference sitting in third.  Players like Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy and Jason Pominville have provided a base, with Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford being picked up in fantasy leagues more frequently.

Ex-Michigan State Spartan Ryan Miller has been stellar for the Sabres.  His play has put the team where they are. His record stands at 12-3-2 with a GAA of 1.97 and two shutouts.

Didn’t see the Sabres as contenders but were interested in the team on my own accord.  My recommendations for Buffalo revolved around the D in Craig Rivet and Steve Mantador who have proven to keep the lanes clear for scoring.   Talent hidden in the depths of Buffalo

4.

Pittsburgh Penguins sits in 4th carrying a ton of injuries.  Sidney Crosby has done his best, but one man cannot carry it all. There are some lucky charms being utilized. Actually it’s amazing that they are holding on, but expect the Penguins to rise as soon as everyone is healthy.  Fleury could step it up a bit as his stats state 11-7-0 and a shaky GAA of 2.67.

My New York teams sit in 9th and 10th.  The NY Rangers were expected to perform better, but their talent is not delivering. One exception for the Garden is Michael Del Zotto with an impressive debut showing 4 goals, 11 assists, and14 PIMs.  The NY Islanders put a great deal of hope in rookie John Tavares and that has proven to keep the team as swimmers, not bottom feeders so far.

Western Conference:

1.

In the Western Conference many fans out west would like to see the San Jose Sharks break their bad playoff karma once and for all.  This year may be it by the hardcore play and dedication towards the playoff run.  That is said every year, but acquiring winger Dany Heatley was a gamble that has paid with 17 goals, 9 assists and 18 PIMs.  Center Patrick Marleau has 14 goals and 12 assists, then you have veteran Joe Thornton with 30 points. This type of scoring creates star power.  Plus, add great depth players in Manny Malhotra, Joe Pavelski, and a strong blue line headed by Dan Boyle co-starring Jason Demers and M-E Vlasic wins games.

Evgeni Nabokov gets respect because he can complete the task in net.  So far he’s achieved 13-3-4 but needs to gain ground in his 2.2 GAA.  Not bad, but could do better.

This was my scope for the Sharks preaseason:

The San Jose Sharks-Because who won’t be watching? Now that Dany Heatley is in, and ineffectual Jonathan Cheechoo is out, the team may have a chance.  Players like M-C Vlasic, Ryan Clowe, and of course, Joe Thornton will try to gain back the fierceness in the Shark Tank.  All hope is on Heatley.  But that may not be enough.  I’m watching from afar.  I’ll be keeping track of Dan Boyle‘s stats.

2.

Now that everyone is using the title of young guns for the Colorado Avalanche, seems the team is losing some ammo power slipping to second place. Much hype has revolved around the new overhaul and future accomplishments of the new and improved Avalanche.   Panic attack or another victim of injuries?  J-M Liles was on rotating IR for a few weeks, T.J. Galiardi was out, Adam Foote was out, and so on.  The Avs reportedly have the one of the lowest SOG and GAA stats.  Good defense and goaltending has helped keep the Avs in place.  And they’ve gotten some lucky shots due to Matt Duchene’s accuracy.  Fantasy owners were warned about picking up Wojtek Wolski , but lucky owners have benefited with 9 goals and 11 assists.

Peter Budaj was out with the flu, but did that really matter?  The star of the Avs is Craig Anderson who hit a 12-6-3 record, but a 2.52 GAA, which has slipped.

No one can dispute the Colorado Avalanche are performing well, but so many would like to see them fall down.  Is it that unbelievable that a better mix of players and management can make that much difference?  If you can get the right chemistry, there’s no telling what you can do.

3.

Chicago is a great town and an awesome sports town, so it’s a plus to see one of the Original Six teams doing well. In 3rd for the race, the past is the past and the Chicago Blackhawks are here in the now.  Though Marian Hossa is out, the Hawks have the train rolling.  Great players and I’m a fan.

My thoughts on the team preseason:

Chicago Blackhawks– Take no prisoners.  Out for blood.  Now that the Hawks have Marian Hossa the team should be amazing.  Right?  Let’s hope so after all the hoopla surrounding the team or Toews, Kane and Keith and some other good players that don’t get noticed as much: Dave Bolland, Andrew Ladd, and Brent Seabrook.  Deep dish pizzazz or digging deeper into a cheesy situation.

4.

Fourth place goes to the Los Angeles Kings who I enjoy seeing kicking the sand in everyone’s face.  A beach team has caught my eye with players like Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll, veteran Ryan Smyth and numerous guys I had never seen but introduced to by their notable play: Michal Handzus, Jack Johnson and Wayne Simmonds. Goalie Jon Quick is holding up with a 12-7-2 record, but will need to turn up the heat on his 2.62 GAA.

The St. Louis Blues got lost on their way to practice and sit in 13thplace.  David Backes has been a late bloomer and goaltending problems have been a shock to everyone.

Surprises?  The Detroit Red Wings rank 8th, while the Phoenix Coyotes are ahead in 7th.

Luck can be an amazing helper for teams with mounting injuries and sloppy shooters, but all teams have lucky games.  True skill and talent lie within all teams but don’t produce if the alignment is off or non-existent.  One top scorer can carry a team, but it’s the teams with depth taking it to the playoff run.

Glows and Blows- Week 6

Glows-

A beating by the Detroit Red Wings of their border rivals the Blue Jackets, ended in a 9-1 back on track win for the Wings.  The train kept rolling with Anaheim coming to town for a dazzling third period, including a Zetterberg hat trick and a 7-4 win.

Blackhawk Captian Jonathan Toews returned Monday with a power play goal vs. the Kings, and Wednesday had an assist against the Avs.

Defensemen Brent Seabrook finally broke free from his scoring sulk to net the GWG against the top of the West San Jose Sharks.

Anticipated match up, Calgary and Buffalo, led to a shootout.  The OT ranks as one of the best this season; high-powered puck play and goalies moving like slinkies.  The contortions resulted in a Sabres win.

Blows-

Red Wing bad boy Brad May started something in the first period of the crunching of the Blue Jackets with stinger Jarred Boll.

Blues RW Backes struck again blowing through 17 penalty minutes in the game against Nashville.   No win, but his hit on J.P. Dumont has bestowed the Backes triple upon the NHL with boarding, roughing, then straight to game misconduct.

A potential bout between Duck Cory Perry and Wings D man Jonathan Ericsson resulted in a respectful back away as Ericsson couldn’t get his helmet off.  Perry was praised for the lack of pummeling opportunities.

Yzerman’s Detroit Legacy

Last Saturday Detroit Red Wings’ Steve Yzerman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, and his contribution to the world of hockey is indisputable.  I always knew his role in hockey, but his imprint on me was validated when I had to fill out a questionnaire regarding my favorite hockey team for a website.  The question asked, “Who is your favorite player of all time?”  I didn’t hesitate with my answer, Steve Yzerman.

The banners in Joe Louis Arena display championships dating back to the 1920s when Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay were the “production line.”  Most associate Gordie Howe with Red Wings hockey greatness, but my time with the Wings begins in the Yzerman Era.

Stevie Y was drafted by the Wings in 1983 and became team captain in 1986. That’s when hockey became alive for me.  I didn’t keep track of his scoring rather his presence on the ice.  His leadership was from the heart and his commitment to the team and the city raised the bar.  He was my Mr. Hockey.

I remember family events would mosey into talk of how the Red Wings were doing this season.  No change since I was young. Recently at a cousin reunion in Ann Arbor, I was reminded of my “admiration” for Steve Yzerman.  It caused some great laughter.

My cousins would come home from their factory jobs at Ford and watch the Red Wings in their basement.  A few years ago, I traveled back for my Uncle’s funeral in Pontiac; my cousins and I felt the awkwardness of the day.  Our talk turned to the Detroit Lions, the Tigers and the Wings.  We all agreed that the Red Wings were our favorite.  We talked about Stevie Y and his leadership, representing the hard work and persistence found in Detroit.  In many ways the “production line” hadn’t quit.

Meeting old high school friends in Ann Arbor even raised the profound impact of the Red Wings.   I would be attending the Wings-Predators game that next afternoon at the Joe, and was excited to hear about others who had recently gone to the games. One friend recalled her dad taking her to Red Wings game as a kid.  She had that far and away look, “great times,” she said, “I miss those times just me and my dad. It was our special day.”

Steve’s portfolio is impressive leading in scoring his rookie year with 87 points and lifting the Wings into the spotlight after a long drought.   But what Detroit fans will always remember about Steve Yzerman is his stint as team captain from 1986-2006 making him the longest served captain for one team.  Detroit was proud of that bond with our captain and our Wings.  We considered him to be home, one of us.  He turned it around like the city had so many times, and graced us with three Stanley Cups.  He proved that hard work and strong bonds could create success and honor.  Steve Yzerman showed the world that the Detroit Red Wings was a family.  That’s his legacy.

Glows and Blows- Week 5

This week I had two tough fantasy match-ups, so most of my time was keeping track of my players. Thus, here’s the week’s overview:

Glows-

Canuck Alex Burrows, a winger with a punch, came out of his shell with an empty netter and shorthanded assist in a convincing win over the Minnesota Wild.

The Detroit Red Wings have delivered some great wins recently, including Chris Osgood’s 50th shutout of his career against the Boston Bruins.

Big D guy Zdeno Chara scored his first goal of the season, finally! He continued with a Gordie Howe hat-trick, an assist and 12 penalty minutes.

Minnesota Wild’s Marek Zidlicky scored his first goal of the season, incidentally the game-winning goal.

Blows-

Blues winger David Backes is back posting five for fighting despite the loss to the Calgary Flames.

Devil Clarkson took it to Islander Tim Jackman in the first 40 seconds of their match up. Clarkson took 7 PIMs for the hits.

Avalanche D guy J-M Liles is out again with a soldier injury.  I just got him off of IR.

Tricks or Treats- Week 4

Happy Halloween Week!

Tricks-

Fighting controversy has now exploded into boarding hit suspensions. Tuomo Ruutu was suspended for his hit on Darcy Tucker, while Mike Richards escaped punishment for his hit on David Booth. Even though suspensions are being handed out like Halloween candy, the Flyers-Canes game on Halloween posted 30 PIMs for fighting and 18 PIMs for roughing. Teams were fighting off the demons in the West with the Coyotes-Ducks game scaring up 30 PIMs for fighting and 4 for rouging. Crosby even came to the party with his dukes up. Treats- The NHL Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Luc Robitaille. New Jersey Devil’s legend Lou Lamoriello was also inducted.

The crazy roller coaster ride in the first four weeks of the NHL season with the Colorado Avalanche sitting on top of the Western Conference, followed in second by the Los Angeles Kings. In the Eastern pack, Pittsburgh and Washington dominate but Buffalo sits in the number three spot. Greatest hockey game watching ever!

Treats-

The NHL Hockey Hall of Fame inducted  Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Luc Robitaille.  New Jersey Devil’s legend Lou Lamoriello was also inducted.

The crazy roller coaster ride in the first four weeks of the NHL season with the Colorado Avalanche sitting on top of the Western Conference, followed in second by the Los Angeles Kings.  In the Eastern pack, Pittsburgh and Washington dominate but Buffalo sits in the number three spot.  Greatest hockey  watching ever!