Monthly Archives: December 2009

Rookie Review

Now in the twelfth week of the NHL season, it’s time to review the rookies scoring and impact on each player’s team.  The Colorado Avalanche have scored with three top rookies gearing up for their playoff run.

This season has produced some star talent for years to come.  Not only have these rookies energized the game of hockey, but also they energized the fans.  Despite some ups and downs for their respective teams, the rookie class of the 2009-10 season made signature strides of their future careers in the NHL.

John Tavares leads the pack and his team as point leader with 28 points- 16 goals, 12 assists.   His contribution to the New York Islanders is pure energy, despite their struggles on the ice.  The Islanders sit in 13th in the Eastern Conference right now; however a streak of flurry to reach the playoffs may spark the team.  Doubtful.  While Tavares brought excitement to the Island and brought media attention home, scoring slumps of the team has dragged players down.

Matt Duchene gave the Colorado Avalanche 24 points thus far with plenty more to come.  The chemistry of the Avalanche blows up all dire expectations representing the team.  But as in the West, you fight to be sheriff in town and the Avs are sitting in the top three behind Chicago and San Jose; impressive company.  This Center has made a huge impact.

Niclas Bergfors, right- wing for the scorching hot New Jersey Devils have headlined the depth of this Devils bench.  Points for Bergfors stands at 23 as of now, but his contribution to the team far surpasses his monetary value.   The Devils are contenders, and this player is rolling.

Jamie Benn total is 20 points.  And with a young and talented Dallas Stars team, Benn has played point on as left wing.  He fits right in and is reliable.

James Van Riemsdyk (LW) seems born to play as a Philadelphia Flyer.  He’s taken in most fantasy leagues for his 20 points and his can-do attitude on the ice.  Unfortunately, the Flyers are not performing to the expected standards, but James is a buzz.  Definite impact.

Michael Del Zotto was such a great pick.  The New York Rangers needed some fire up their…Not that 20 points isn’t good, but Z is good for the Rangers because he plays with heart and scores.  He’s the defenseman who is exciting on the Rangers.  Del Zotto raised a bar of energy the Rangers desperately needed.

Tyler Myers is a great pick-up if you play fantasy hockey leagues.  Myers is a workingman who has his hand in every game. He has 19 points in the year.  The Buffalo Sabres are a talented group including this defenseman.

Ryan O’Reilly(C ) was the rookie who caught everyone’s eye at the Colorado Avalanche training camp.  He leapt over other rookies who were expected to produce. Radar totaled 17 points this year and is one of the nicest players I’ve met.  He’s a good guy and the Avs like him.

T.J.Galiardi ( LW ) deserves to be seen.  Galiardi fought his way onto the team last year by creating frenzy around his play.  His contribution to the Avs is 15 points, but his hits are very helpful.  At training camp he came to play as if he was already on the roster.  The player to watch right now.

Artem Anisimov ( C) began his career last season near the end of the demise of the Rangers.  He’s’ been there, done that, so his 15 points should grow.  His youth and work ethic can get the job done.

Evander Kane ( LW)  Kane has  15 points and an impressive 29 penalty minutes.  Evander is very fitting as this rookie fights his way into the spotlight.  The Atlanta Thrashers are hovering in the middle, but a good team to watch.  So Kane has stepped up his performance because people are watching.

Not all rookies can make it into the NHL, yet alone survive when they get there.  So Victor Hedman D had a decent year with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 11 points, and a grand 38 penalty minutes.  And while he’s not on the top list, he deserves a nod on a good debut.

It was a great start to the season as the rookies foretold a new trend in the NHL. Just look at the excitement surrounding the World Junior Hockey championship coverage on the NHL station.  Fans want to know who’s the next Ovechkin or Crosby.  Younger and smarter players are getting into the game quicker and holding their own.  New equipment, techniques and the youthful eye build the smart skilled hockey player of the future.

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Coyote Christmas

Some people visit museums, go shopping or sightsee while on vacation, but not me. On my agenda visiting Scottsdale was hockey.  This year I went to visit family, who are also Detroit Red Wing fans, in the desert.   Monday morning my “sister” Sheila called the Phoenix Coyotes’ about times for the morning skate.  Tuesday was the day.  We got a slow start and when we got there the players were already off the ice.  Next plan was to wait with the fans for autographs and pictures, all two of them.

I had a great time talking with hockey mom Christine and her son Chris who are in the photo with Robert Lang.  Christine is in a fan group Hockey Moms for Shane Doan, and Chris is a big Illya Brzgalov fan.   The Coyotes were very friendly and happy to stop for Christine, who was flagging the players down as they drove out into the parking lot.

A dust storm was brewing and the skies were beginning to show signs of rain, but I stuck it out to see one of my favorites players, Petr Prucha.  Yes, been a fan since the early New York Rangers days when Prucha was a hopeful to side with Jaromir Jagr and bring the cup to NYC.  I’m not giving the rock and roll sign in the photo, rather trying to keep my hair out of his face and mine for a good shot.

Peter Mueller was priceless.  I approached him in a black min-dress, cowboy boots and my card.    I introduced myself as an NHL writer.  I write about the NHL.  Peter looked at me with a funny look, “you’re an NHL writer?”  I assured him I was.   “You’re an NHL writer,” he said again but with more emphasis in making sure he heard me right and that he wasn’t a victim of a prank.

Captain Shane Doan came out last, as usual according to Christine, and stopped to sign our program.   Doan was very happy to talk and appreciated the fans.

My Christmas was a Coyote howling great experience. Thanks Christine and Chris for being such great fans to hang out with. Thanks Sheila for supporting my hockey habit.

Petr Prucha and Heidi

Illya Bryzgalov

Shane Doan

Rober Lang

Hockey for the Holidays

As you share in your festivities and blessings, think of the great hockey games you can watch with relatives this season.  Nearing mid-season, the race is heating up.  Take some time for yourself between holiday shopping and holiday parties to watch some of these great games.

In the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres battle it out on Saturday the 19th to overtake first place Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference. Can goalie Ryan Miler keep Sidney Crosby out of the net?  With the Penguins’ list of injuries, the Buffalo Sabres have the depth to take the Pens apart.  But they’ll have to get by the New Jersey Devils first.

The mall is too crowded on Sunday, and you’d rather be home for the battle of the Great Lakes with Detroit coming to Chicago.  Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews will be taking it to ailing Red Wings.  Now with Henrik Zetterberg out for two weeks, veterans Todd Bertuzzi, Brian Rafalski and Pavel Datsyuk will need to play hard against the young Hawks.  Bundle up and watch out for the wind-chill factor.

On the 21st an inter-divisional rival match-up between the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild should be interesting.  Colorado has not done as well as they’d like against the Wild, so look for the depth of Colorado’s bench to heat up the ice and plow the Wild.

If you have your shopping done, then cozy in on the 22nd when Matt Duchene, Wojtek Wolski, and Ryan O’Reilly welcome the spunky Anaheim Ducks to Colorado.

The last day of hockey before the two-day holiday break presents the best of the East and West match-up on December23rd. Buffalo Sabres stealth goaltender Ryan Miler goes up against Alex Ovechkin and the punchy party of players in Washington. Then put your game face on when the Chicago Blackhawks come to the spastic crowds in Detroit for the second meeting for the holidays.  Do you really have to go to that holiday party?]

Happy Holidays and be safe.  No slashing, boarding or roughing!

The Many States of Hockey

I’m caught between two teams: my hometown team and my home team.  But, it’s an amazing opportunity to have been a part of both team’s histories and battles.  I feel lucky.

As a staunch Red Wings fan, I’ve been criticized for my lack of scope.  My hockey mom pal Michelle woke me from my one-sided love, “Oh Heidi, there’s more teams than the Red Wings.”  True.  She should know; she lives in Boston, is a Bruins fan, but loves her hometown San Jose Sharks.

So now that the Red Wings are pacing their stride in their division, the expectations that once were sky high have become a let down.  Meanwhile, the Colorado Avalanche are steamrolling through their division and have stunned many by exceeding expectations.   All of this doesn’t change the club, rather conveys the natural order of change.   I have been blessed with the Yzerman Era in Detroit, and the Sakic Era in Denver.  It is my sole purpose to glorifying two different types of hockey cities in this commentary.

Hockeytown will always be in Detroit.  The Red Wings are equivalent to the Canadiens for Montreal.  It’s just in our genetic makeup and we can’t be punished for sticking with the lifelong team, the team of our childhood.  My memories of hockey in Michigan are my foundation for my love for the sport and influenced my understanding of the game.  Respect is the name of the game in Detroit, and any hockey fan cannot forget that.  Detroit deserves a ton of respect, and that’s just good hockey.  Textbook hockey is what I hear from fans of the Red Wings.  Pure hockey fans love the Red Wings.  We’re the Yankees and Cowboys of the NHL.  But we’ve had our bumps.  The Wings went through a forty-year drought as a team, but the Wings fans held on.  Oh, and then there’s Gordie Howe.  Aretha Franklin wrote her iconic song Respect in Motown, Hockeytown.

When I saw Joe Sakic on a fire engine holding the Stanley Cup, I knew I was a fan.  Having moved from Ann Arbor to Denver, the Avs weren’t here yet.  A few years later, I was standing downtown watching the Stanley Cup parade go by.  What an awesome team the 1996 Avalanche were; truly, hockey at its best.  But Denver still isn’t a hockey town like Detroit.   I meet too many people who aren’t interested, yet the Avalanche fans are the most polite people I’ve ever encountered at a hockey game or hanging out with at morning skates.  When I tell them I’m also a Wings fan, they tell me they’re sorry, But they still talk to me about hockey.  DU Pioneer hockey has always been my link with Colorado, and the Pioneers just celebrated 60 years on ice. That’s tradition.

The series of playoffs games between the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche were an exhibition of old-time hockey greatness.  Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic together on the ice fighting for a right to represent the Western Conference starting in 1996, is classic.  The Avalanche came in as the new kid on the block facing the tested and true Wings.

Avs fans love to razz me about the Wings mediocre season, and the Wings fans tell me I’ve “gone to the other side.”  I’ve always been diplomatic in my approach to relationships, and this is no different.  I like the New York Rangers too because my husband gave me his Rangers jacket from the 1980s.   My nights are spent watching hockey and writing about the sport I can’t live without.  I’ll watch any game, any team.

Playing Rough Costing Players

Fines for players and suspensions are growing in the NHL, so is this a case of protecting the integrity of the game or funding the newly acquired Phoenix Coyotes?  Or something else?

Boarding, roughing, hits, that’s what you expect when playing hockey. Speed of the skater directly impacts his ability to control hits, but a skilled player should have the brake power necessary to avoid injury.  Things happen, though.

When Alexander Ovechkin became the latest player suspended for a hard hit, the debate turned to the physical type of play Ovechkin demonstrates.   He’s not a mean guy trying to take someone down, but rather athletically fast and dangerous.  Coach Boudreau has the greatest player today on his roster, but at what cost?  Ovechkin had to pay just shy of $100,000, however his reputation of being a good player hasn’t been lost.  Unlike other players whose paychecks include hits and big penalty minutes, Ovechkin should not be perceived as a fighter or bad guy on the ice.

Fans love the physical nature of hockey.  That’s why we watch Alexander Ovechkin play.

Don Cherry has criticized Ovi in the past for grandstanding, and his egotistical emphasis of his play.  But when you are born to play, the play becomes you.  Alexander Ovechkin maintains his identity in truth.  Some have jumped on this suspension as an opportunity to vilify one of the greatest players to play hockey, in other words, “we told you so.”   The stance taken is that Ovechkin would eventually crash and burn because of his charismatic style of play and his karmic attitude toward life.

The NHL wants to be a positive influence, especially for the younger crowd, so Ovechkin’s nonchalant attitude needs to be reprimanded before kids seek him as a role model. Too late.  Good sportsmanship is not Ovechkin’s problem.  His problem, apparently, is that he doesn’t care what others think about him.  To kids this means he doesn’t buy into peer pressure or conformity to be true to who he is and who he has become.

Yes, Alexander Ovechkin plays aggressive hockey and a suspension isn’t surprising at this point in his career.  But the villainous character of Ovechkin only exists in the imagination.  His hit on Tim Gleason is just many that will happen in his career.  For any player a hard hit will occur and a scandal will brew on whether it was a low blow or accident.  Hockey fans have lost count of the suspensions this year due to nasty hits, and frankly support those deserved suspensions.  But these players are not evil.

Hockey has always had the defenders as the tough guys; the blue line was the dangerous point of no return, but as hockey has evolved all players are expected to defend their zone.  Look at left-wingers Sean Avery and Daniel Carcillo, who are the scrappers and cause chaos on and off the ice.  Perhaps the NHL is trying too hard to present Disney on Ice rather than Rangers vs. Flyers, or Capitals vs. Canes.

Hockey Fan Bikes for Charity

Got this great email from Ryan Stotland, a habs fan, who is biking his way across South America for charity.  Check out his links:

His website is Ryan Stotland

Ryan wore his  habs jersey all over the continent and made a movie about it. check out the article at:

Habs Inside Out

The link to the you tube video:

Ryan’s Journey

You can also find Ryan on Facebook- become a fan!