Monthly Archives: October 2010

Hat-tricks and Hits

The NHL and the NFL have come to a head, literally, with both looking at serious consequences for head hits in the game. The NHL has even gone beyond hits on the ice- they’ve gone to the fans. Suspensions came for taking aim at the fans taunting players, such as Rick Rypien who was suspended 6 games for grabbing a Minnesota Wild fan. Rypien was already in a bad mood losing to the Wild and double points for roughing plus a misconduct call. Though he didn’t apologize, Bettman did.

Daniel Alfredsson, Rene Bourque and Steven Stamkos scored hat-tricks early in the week. Alfredsson scored three times in a duel with Buffalo, and the first to score over 1K with a hat-trick. Good news for Ottawa. Up in Calgary, Bourque bounced three in the net rolling into Columbus. Stamkos scored three as a souvenir in Atlanta. Then Alex Semin strolled right in with a hat-trick of his own when the Caps met rival Atlanta over the weekend. The Islanders Tavares picked up a trio despite losing to the Panthers. But don’t forget Brad Richardson‘s triple threat over the Avs at the Pepsi Center.

In the East, The New York Rangers fought hard Saturday in Boston. Sean Avery powered a misconduct call with an instigator and fighting cherry on top. In the first period alone, 30 PIMs for fighting hit the stats. The Rangers are climbing.

The Buffalo Sabres slump is barely in its third week, but feels like a lifetime. Could the high expectations of Myers and Miller be setting the Sabres up for failure? Give it time for this all to work- because it will. Saturday saw a spark with a win by Miller and a goal by Myers.

New Jersey is fighting back, at least David Clarkson that is. Clarkson, who is guaranteed a fight a week met his quota this week with Travis Moen in Montreal. Last week he took on two fights when Washington got on his nerves taking it out on Jason Chimera and Matt Bradley. Another good slugger, Dan Carcillo, finally used the gloves and got his five for fighting in Toronto.

Way out West, cheerleaders will come to Canada, Edmonton sets the trend for some reason. Sad or sexy, obviously Taylor Hall isn’t performing the way they expedcted. So, maybe some T&A will help.

Franzen returned with a bang. Red Wings fans are happy. Detroit has its secret weapon back. The Wings are sitting in the standing nicely right now and should stay with strong play by the Mule. Zetterberg amd Holmstrom are hitting their stride to put the Wings back in a confortable place in the race. After the win at home against Anaheim, third straight win, the Wings goalie Howard continues to perform like a top netminder.

Colorado continues to have fun and maintain some wins, but hovering mid to low pack in the West. Don’t have too much fun if the job doesn’t get done. Even Liles has figured out that he’s a defenseman, so he posted five for fighting with Justin Williams. The Kings are just in front of the Avs, but look out St. Louis Blues hanging with these two talented young teams.

San Jose Sharks scrapper Ryan Clowe has risen from the dead and slugged for five. When Calgary came to town, it put the Sharks on edge, especially when the Flames went up 4-zip in the first.

So the story goes. Jumping into the third week will be an interesting jumbling of predictions that have been set aside for new ones. Don’t be surprised if your team slumps now and again as they all do. It’s a long season- hunker down with your remote and plenty of whatever keeps you going. Load up on candy too for Halloween.

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Surprises and Scares

Wow, the first week and a half of the NHL season provided some surprises and shocking situations. So much speculation has surrounded the Cinderella team Toronto Maple Leafs’ undefeated season. They’ve only played four games, so come on…they will lose and the Leafs may not be able to keep it up. The Tormented Toronto Maple Leafs can sing praise as their team has turned a corner with a 4-0-0 start to the season.

The Nashville Predators have just as good as a start as Toronto, as well as down in Dallas bouncing back without Mike Modano or Marty Turco. Impressive games have been played in Tampa Bay and Denver as well.

In the Eastern Conference, Toronto, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh lead the standings. Florida, Boston and New Jersey sit at the bottom. New Jersey was expected to be a contender but with all the drama, the team has been worn down. New Jersey has paid a high price to ensure a winning team but can they recover? Of course.

Pittsburgh’s goaltending has swayed to the No. 2 seat with some positive outcome behind Brent Johnson. Despite what seems like a slow start, the Penguins will fix any kinks as they do every year. Just wait.

The New York Rangers are down Marian Gaborik and captain Chris Drury after a loss to the Maple Leafs Friday. Hockey critics have kicked both the Islander and Rangers downstairs. Rangers D-guy Del Zotto has had a good start.

In the Western Conference, Nashville, Dallas, and Colorado sit supreme. Calgary, Columbus and Phoenix will climb as more games are played. Calgary is under great pressure especially after Toronto has seemingly turned their bad karma upside down. Calgary’s talent is undeniable with Mikka Kiprusoff in goal, Jay Bouwmeester on the blueline and Jarome Iginla leading the charge. The Flames are usually hanging in near the playoff run with the same expectations as last year to finish in the No. 8 seed just above the Colorado Avalanche.

The San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks look shaky as Cup contenders early on. Ryan Kesler posted 10 PIMs for a misconduct call after the LA Kings beat the Canucks again on Friday, but Kesler has been null in points. With Alex Burrows sidelined for the first few weeks, the Canucks lost some steam.

I’m still betting on some gained ground this season from Atlanta and St. Louis. With the youthful talent on both teams, the surge may come later in the season, but both are sitting in the middle of their division waiting and watching. Monday night the St. Louis Blues met up with the Anaheim Ducks and totaled a whopping 50 PIMs for misconduct, 35 for fighting 24 for roughing an 4 for slashing. Atlanta’s Anthony Stewart scored a hat trick to lift the Thrashers over the Ducks at home Friday.

In Los Angeles, the Kings are holding steady with Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson and active play from Dustin Brown over the Canucks, the beachfront view sits just behind Colorado in the West. Colorado’s T.J. Galiardi, Paul Stastny and Chris Stewart are strongholds for the team.

A new lease deal with Chicago investor Matthew Hulsizer will lead to a good deal for the Phoenix Coyotes to remain in Glendale. Last season, the Coyotes rivaled the Avs for young gun status but have a slow start. Watch the Czech line emerge in the desert plus great talent such as Stempniak, Wolski and Lombardi.

Detroit’s Johan Franzen went to Dallas and all he got was a hit by Mark Fistric. Franzen called it a concussion, but coach Babcock said it wasn’t that bad. Franzen was sidelined much of the latter part of last season, so is he being cautious or being a crybaby? Is Babcock cracking the whip and going forth for the Cup? Yes, the Wings are known for being tough and they cannot falter now.

Beware of counting the pucks yet. Shakeups are bound to happen when least expected. It’s too early to call the season yet.

Wings open season with Hockeytown style

The Red Wings will not go away despite the hope of many teams, including the Anaehim Ducks. Brawls came often to the crowd’s content, because no one comes into Joe Louis Arena without a fight. Too bad dungeon master Abdelkader is out with injuries. He would have loved this game.

Wings wowed the crowd in the first few minute of the season opener against the Anaheim Ducks. Johan Franzen and Mike Modano led the Wings early. Johan Franzen’s goal came from a set up from Filppula and Bertuzzi. Modano’s goal seemed effortless and slid the game to a scruff between Ryan Getzlaf and Tomas Holmstrom. The Captain of the Anaheim Ducks continued talk after reaching the bench, and winger Holmstrom was happy to talk back.

With the lead, the Wings continued to play nabbing another goal in the second by Pavel Datsyuk with an assist from Henrik Zetterberg. Praise the Red Wings. Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller got shot down by the Wings momentum. Holmstrom received a 10-minute misconduct as did Corey Perry. Roughing dominating the middle of the game as it should be to gain advantage the Hockeytown way. Datsyuk even threw some punches but no punishment. In a late period goal review, Cleary was able to get a season-opener to start the year from an assist from Datsyuk.

Up 4-0, the Wings hit it hard with Datsyuk getting some good punches in with Corey Perry.  Overall, the game tallied 30 minuts of misconduct calls,15 for fighting and 10 for roughing. Teams, don’t come to the Joe without your boxing gloves. Wings win with a Jimmy Howard shutout.

Packing up and heading to the Windy City, The Wings were the guests for the Hawks opening night. The game had quite a quiet first, until The Red Wings got things going with a nice combo by Bertuzzi, Franzen and Filppula, rousing a few boos from the Hawks crowd as Detroit scored first. Hossa had to spoil the fun and stuck it to the Wings with one in net to tie.

After the break, Bertuzzi, Stuart and Rafalski told the Hawks they were not going away and scored another for the away team. Then Chicago retaliated with a goal from Bryan Bickell.

Going into the third, the battle was won by a hard-core goal by Filppula, who will be one of my fantasy picks for the week. But just wait….it’s Filppula with a power-play goal. Hudler knocked out an assist to get back into the Wings groove again. Looks to be a great season.

Let the Season begin….

The Colorado Avalanche stunned the Stanley Cup champs in the Avs NHL season opener.  Predicted to finish low in the Western Conference standings, the Avalanche took it to the Hawks with a win on the first day of the 2010-11 NHL season.

Winger Chris Stewart scored first for the Avs with an unassisted goal, after an opening power-play goal by Bryan Bickell. Goals by Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny put Colorado up approaching the third intermission. Patrick Sharp rallied for the Hawks making the game even. Forced to go into overtime, Paul Stastny scored the game-winning goal in the Avs season opener at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Continuing the celebration in the West, the Edmonton Oilers debuted their new look and new rookies. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi took the ice in the season opener in Edmonton. The Oilers are counting on rebuilding their team and fan base by highlighting an exciting list of young players expected to make an impact in the NHL.    Eberle scored a short-handed goal in the third period to claim his first NHL goal and Edmonton’s first rookie goal. Hall and Paajarvi did not score, but logged significant ice time for fans to view their future stars.  The battle of Alberta wasn’t even close with a shutout by the Oilers over the Calgary Flames.

In the East, some gains and pains. Pittsburgh opened their new season in a new arena, but lost to the Philadelphia Flyers by a goal. Crosby failed to score. Minnesota’s Guillaume Latendresse scored the first NHL goal of the season, but the Minnesota Wild could not win over the Carolina Hurricanes. The success of the Hurricanes continued winning their second game over the Wild. Toronto passes a huge roadblock by winning over the Montreal Canadiens at home. New captain Dion Phaneuf assisted on the opening goal.

It was an exciting opening night and many teams have taken the first step on their road to success, others fell short.

Beyond Fantasy: NHL season comes to a TV near you

Thursday night, the NHL season kicks off with an afternoon game- so consider calling in sick if you are fans of Minnesota or Carolina. The Hurricanes must gain ground this year after a let down last season. Carolina cannot look bad hosting the NHL All-Star game, either. Minnesota has had some buzz. At the Colorado Avalanche training camp, I overheard a conversation suggesting that the Wild looked good this year. As I turned around to see who would make such a statement, I found myself talking with Brian Engblom. Maybe, you want to take a look at the Wild this year, just in case.

If you have to make it to work,then rush home to check in on the Penguins home opener at their new digs against in-state rival, the Flyers. With that talent on both sides, this should be the kick-off game to your season, especially if your fantasy team conists of Sidney Crosby.

Then the Candians let loose: Montreal fights to keep their powerhouse positioned for the playoffs and Toronto recharges with captain Bling. The idea of having Dion Phaneuf as the masthead of the Leafs brings pure in-your-face hockey back to Toronot. But I’ll be watching Edmonton’s Taylor Hall. Colorado did it with Duchene, and the Islanders did it with Tavares, and so shall the Oilers. This kid is nothing to sneeze at. Hall will make watching Oilers games fun and interesting.

To close out the evening, the Stanley Cup champs come to Denver to face last year’s pleasant surprise. The BlackHawks are down a few players, but the base is still strong. Colorado hopes to climb higher than last year and regain more praise from the pundits. Chris Stewart was the star of the Avs training camp and everyone knew it. Look for a competitive game to round out the evening.