Monthly Archives: March 2010

Wingin’ the Playoffs

The big question is whether the Detroit Red Wings can pull off the upset and work there way into the playoffs past the Calgary Flames and the Nashville Predators.But the Wings lost to the Flames 4-2, but were able to beat the Buffalo Sabres in OT, 3-2. Then the clincher came beating the Flames Monday night 2-1.Will the Wings maintain the momentum and give Motown something to cheer about?

Playoff rounds in Detroit are the norm.If there are no games this season, then the Frozen Four in Detroit will be only event rocking energy in the Motor City.The Red Wings know that not playing for the Stanley Cup is not an option, and has not happened since the 1989-90 season.President Steve Yzerman is taking his triumphs for Team Canada and pushing the pizzazz at the Joe. The Wings have won

The Wings have gone to the Stanley Cup finals the last two seasons.  Twenty continuous years in the playoffs is not an option for the Red Wings.They lost last year to the Penguins and won the season before that to those same Penguins.

So who’s to blame for this rumpling of the hockey feathers? Two stars, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk haven’t had the scoring seasons they have had in the past.

Zetterberg has clocked 19 goals as opposed to his 31 last season.His assists reign with 38.  Datsyuk has tallied 22 goals this year, while he had 32 last year.He also is doing well in the assist category with 36.But these guys were not signed on to be assist leader.Datsyuk has had a scoring run lately and has been revived- since March 1st, he’s scored three goals, and four assists. He scored six points in February.

No one can dispute the loss of Johan Franzen during most of the season due to injury.He’s had seven goals this year, while captain Nicklas Lidstrom has eight.But what happened to the confident spark of the Wings? Hossa, Hudler and Samuelsson evidently made more of an impact than originally thought.It’s like a Frankenstein created with all the best parts, but something went awry in the process.A few limbs were lost.The team clicked but it cost too much to maintain.Bargains are not always the best buys.

So who’s stepping up?Let’s talk Tomas Holmstrom with 20 goals, 13 assists and the gung-ho attitude expected of the boys playing on the ice at Joe Louis Arena. His late goal against the Calgary Flames burst the Wings into the eighth bunk in the Western Conference.

No one can debate the excellence of play in net for rookie Jimmy Howard, a Calder Cup candidate.But he may need more of a break.There is a huge debate in the Motor City on the Howard-Osgood goalie controversy.

With three Stanley Cups, 396 career wins and a 16-year career in the NHL goaltender Chris Osgood has been sitting, while Jimmy Howard exhausts his play in net.Remember last year when Ty Conklin was the hero going into the playoffs?The fans turned on Ozzie because of some downed games, but they were singing his praise as the Stanley Cup was in sight.Red Wings fans still love Ozzie.

Maybe there is no magic formula but the Wings have had the magic touch for years, making them one of the most despised teams in the NHL.Losing isn’t an option for the Wings and they will fight to the end to earn a chance to redeem their valor.

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Top Tough Guys

Every team has the player who is the scrapper, the guy who causes trouble for the opposing team.  But not only do some of the top tough guys cause problematic penalty points, these guys can score.

David Clarkson- New Jersey Devils

Never was a fan of the Devils, rather was a New York Rangers fan.  Anyone living in the tri-state area can tell you, it’s not an option to be a fan of both. My nephews played hockey in New Jersey and often met the Devils in their junior leagues.  Still wasn’t a fan.  Then, last season I picked up David Clarkson on my fantasy hockey team because he got into a fight every week; he was a guaranteed five for fighting.

After a lengthy stint on injury reserve, New Jersey Devil’s David Clarkson returned packing punches for ten penalty minutes for fighting twice with Calgary Flame’s Jamal Myers.  The right-winger has a total 16 points for the season, which may not seem like much but Clarkson can score with the best of them.  He has 54 penalty minutes thus far, but that stat should climb.

The NHL Network named David Clarkson one of the top tough guys, ever.  He’s not afraid to pick a fight to turn the momentum to his team and it’s showing as the Devils are heading into the playoffs in a comfortable fourth position in the Eastern Conference.   He has been the main reason I am a fan of the Devils, but will follow Clarkson whatever team he plays for in the future.

Sean Avery- New York Rangers

I put Avery on the list because he has 133 penalty minutes, and seems to get into a scruff any chance he can.  I’ve seen Adam Foote back down from a charge from Avery.  He has the ability to score as he has 25 points this year.  Though the Rangers are fighting an uphill battle this season sitting in ninth in the Eastern Conference and will most likely miss any playoff run, Avery hasn’t backed down. But Avery will have to take his energy elsewhere once the playoffs begin if the Rangers are not able to perform a playoff run miracle.  Perhaps his previous internship with Vogue magazine could offer him some part-time seasonal work.  The day Sean Avery works the runway at Bryant Park is a proud day for Rangers fans, at least the ladies.

Daniel Carcill0- Philadelphia Flyers

He taunts the crowd after he’s won the fight on the ice.  He’s a dude you want in your corner if you like the penalty minutes and tough energy.  Carcillo has 156 penalty minutes and 16 points this season.  He’s prone to suspensions, and is the bad kid on the team who behaves for a game or two then lets the fury out of the bag.  You either love him or think he’s overrated.

Colton Orr-Toronto Maple Leafs

As a Rangers fan, Orr was the other tough guy to complement Avery.  The NHL Network also named Colton Orr one of the best tough guys.  Orr ranks third thus far in penalty minutes with 170.  Scoring isn’t his priority with four points, so it’s safe to say he’s the pummel hound no matter what team he’s with.  Now with the Leafs, Orr has kept his image intact in Canada.

Alex Burrows- Vancouver Canucks

The Western Conference is riding high with top talent this year, and Burrows lays claim to the much of the Canucks’ success.  Having been moved to the top line with the Sedin brothers, Burrows has become one winger who can split the stats between plays and punches.

Alex Burrows fought his way to the NHL up through the ranks, and now boasts 55 points, 94 penalty minutes and an amazing plus-32 rating.  Though Burrows seemed to be in a slump early in the year, it’s been my experience that he heats up later in the year.  I picked him up when someone dropped him last year and have never looked back.

Cody McLeod- Colorado Avalanche

This is more of a personal choice because I live in Denver and know more about Cody McLeod from local stories, Avs skates and training camp.  McLeod is a true hockey player in the sense that he just wants to play the game and loves every minute of it.  He’s not into the flashy lifestyle as Sean Avery, rather he’s a Canadian boy who takes one for the team.  For fans, he’s available for autographs, usually walking right into the sea of fans to shake hands and pose for pictures.  Fans love to thank him for taking the punches and scraps against other players to defend the honor of the Colorado Avalanche; it’s just part of his game.

These are just some of my favorite tough guys, because without these guys hockey wouldn’t be the same.  Avery, Burrows, and even McLeod add some spunk to the competition and in many ways adds valor to the game protecting the honor of their teammates.  And there’s nothing better than a great hockey fight.