Tag Archives: Backes

Summer Hockey Hype

It’s only August and the hype has begun. After the woozying trades and trash, this summer read like more like a gossip column. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were expelled from Philly for bad behavior, LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi  was irked when he was traded damaged goods by Edmonton, and just recently Sean Avery was busted by the cops in Hollywood for shoving an officer.  

If you are sitting by the pool, then you have plenty of time to begin building your fantasy team. Whether you play in a competitive keeper league or drafting an entirely new team, consider the teams who have revamped their lines. However, buyer beware that not all top players perform as well as expected. Duncan Keith’s award-winning 2009-10 season did not carry the same weight in 2010-11. Sidney Crosby’s health is tenuous- one big hit and he could blowout.

Eastern Conference best bets:

New York Rangers- resigning Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan were crucial. Both players have developed their game and are the workhorses of the team. With Brad Richards joining the mix, the Rangers will be a fun team to watch and get behind. With Avery and Brandon Prust, expect some tough guy presence stopping any intruders near Henrik Lundqvist‘s crease.

Philadelphia Flyers– sign Jaromir Jagr. Who knows what to expect? He could be great or gruesome, but you don’t want to be left behind on this one. He snubbed other teams to join the Flyers because of their Cup contention coup. Max Talbot, Claude Giroux and a roster full of hot taletn can be yours if you do your bidding carefully.

Buffalo Sabres- coach Lindy Ruff is still calling the shots on ice, and with newly acquired talents look out. In net, Ryan Miller is one of the best in the NHL. Christian Ehrhoff and Robyn Regehr will lend the blueline some direction helping Tyler Myers this season.

Carolina HurricanesJeff Skinner and Anthony Stewart are just two young players to watch in Carolina. Skinner, who won the Calder for rookie of the year, is first line, Stewart 3rd or 4th. Other young talent, Jamie McBain and Chad LaRose need to go on a watch list.

Tampa Bay Lightning– re-signing Steven Stamkos was a necessary requirement before GM Steve Yzerman could go golfing. With Stamkos secured, the Bolts will be out for blood this year. Vinnie Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis may be already drafted, so consider Ryan Malone and Teddy Purcell for a stong support system.

Pittsburgh Penguins- with or without Sidney Crosby, the Pens put the pedal to the metal. All energy, all the time. Kris Letang should be on your list. Tyler Kennedy rocked last year and must be a consideration, same for Chris Kunitz and James Neal.

Boston Bruins– I’d sweep up Dennis Seidenberg. Tim Thomas is an obvious choice, but secured by keeper leagues. If the Stanley Cup win was it, then don’t go overboard with the Bruins. However, there are some good bets here in Rich Peverley, Patrice Bergeron, don’t forget Brad Marchand. I’ve found Shawn Thornton, Andrew Ferrence to be good for fights and scruffy play. Milan Lucic and David Krejci have inconsistent seasons but make good trade fodder.

Western Conference best bets:

Los Angeles Kings-  has a great building process in Hockeywood.  Anze Kopitar will be ready come ice time, and with Mike Richards as the extra kick, look out! Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty are key defensemen. Jonathan Quick in goal is a great pick. Captain Dustin Brown didn’t let me down. Justin Williams was the sought after Kings player in our league rightly so.

Detroit Red Wings– always on the list due to the talent they foster. Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Nick Lidstrom are tops on any list if you can get them. Goaltender Jimmy Howard may be a task to acquire but worth if you can make a trade after the season starts- sell low. Johan Franzen and defensemen Niklas Kronwall should be noted for scoring and hits.

Vancouver Canucks– they just couldn’t wrap it up, but that has been their issue. Lessons learned may help Ryan Kesler and the Sedins in creative ways to win. Consider Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa and don’t be wary of goalie Roberto Luongo if you can get him.

Edmonton Oilers– I say this because the whole world will be watching the Taylor Hall/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins dynamic. Grab either player and be patient. Hall took some time to warm up and was passed all over fantasy leagues as owners became restless with his growing pains.

Chicago Blackhawks “Car Bomb”Carcillo  will explode in Chicago enforcing the Hawks second revival. This is a tough team who wants the Cup badly. Patrick Sharp is signed and you should do the same. He’s a quiet player who has his ups and downs, but delivers overall. If you can acquire Patrick Kane of Jonathan Toews, then work your magic. Andrew Brunette is a watch list candidate to see if he can generate something.

St. Louis Blues– I pick them every year due to the talent that passes through. Chris Stewart stands out for the Blues. David Backes is a sturdy candidate but can be unpredictable. Kevin Shattenkirk,Alex Steen and Andy McDonald did well last season and are good choices in the second to third-round. Remember to put Alex Pietrangelo on your list as a stellar young defenseman, and keep an eye on Matt D’Agostini.

Don’t see your team? Oh, well, take a look at some of the choice picks to find your best bet:

Logan Couture (San Jose Sharks)– The Sharks can beat the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs, but can’t seem to get further than that. Couture was nominated for the rookie of the year and deservedly so. Grab him before someone else does. Usually a second-round pick now that he’s on the radar.

Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars)– Benn broke out last year and was quite dutiful to fantasy owners. If he lands in your queue, consider if you need a productive 3rd liner.

Devin Setoguchi (Minnesota Wild) – great during the playoffs with the Sharks. Minnesota has been on everyone’s radar to be big but remains in the middle. Perhaps Setoguchi can spark some oomph.

Your dream team is in your hands. Not all goes as according to plan and your backup choices can make the difference in all areas from trades to suspensions of a key player. Study the new and improved rosters if you haven’t been keeping up with the transactions this summer.

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NHL All-Snub Game

Hey, NHL All Star Game– are you kidding me? His name is Jimmy Howard and you forgot to send his invitation.

Every year some player, who deserves to go, gets the snub generating drama to hike ratings. Red Wings fans are clambering for some justice. Right behind the Canucks in the Western Conference standings, the under staffing seems odd, yet the Canucks are sending three. With talent on both teams, it is strange that Detroit only has Lidstrom making the trip.  The NHL is bending backwards not to make this a Red Wings show, because they’ve slipped somehow and the injuries cannot look good for Detroit’s case. There is no doubt Howard has done his job and then some (22-7-3).

King Henry deserves a trip to Raleigh to showcase his tremendous skill for the promising New York Rangers but he’s propped up the Rangers for years. Fans of the Los Angeles Kings question the dismissal of goalie Quick, who has lived up to his name but not on the roster of All-Stars. Off to a great start, Quick has softened recently and reflects in his numbers (19-12-1).

The Western Conference rolls out Sharp, Kane, Keith and Toews in the Hawks section, who have the obligatory pass. Can’t snub the Stanley Cup champs. Patrick Sharp has had an outstanding year with 44 points. Vancouver gets a big nod with the Sedin brothers and Ryan Kesler. The Redemption for the NHL All-Star game this year is Dustin Byfuglien gracing the roster after last year’s snub.

The Staal brothers are well represented minus Jordan. Matt Duchene and rookie Kevin Shattenkirk will be there for the Mile High club. No Stastny listed either. With the absence of Chris Stewart in the line-up, Duchene has become a stronger leader on the ice. Stewart will be there next year or this article will be about that snub.

The NHL All-Star game really isn’t a game, rather a showcase light on the PIMs. Kesler and Backes could throw down for a few and I’d enjoy seeing that. Regards to the rookies who made it including Taylor Hall (EDM), Tyler Seguin (BOS), Cam Fowler (ANA) and Carolina Hurricanes own Jeff Skinner. San Jose’s rookie Logan Couture also made the cut, as he has become quite a catch in fantasy leagues.

Despite the snubs, someone is always forgotten. Semin, Zetterberg and Tavares are the hyped snubs this year. Western teams have excelled in play and popularity. Eastern players sell more jerseys. Since the NHL is based in New York, no stun in how this has been spun. Heading down south, the NHL is placing the southeastern pack in the forefront. Look what that division holds in Ovechkin, Stamkos, and Yzerman as the Bolts GM. Right time, right place. Load up on the BBQ and grits and take a gander at the skills competition, which really is the best part.

NHL Talent of Team USA

You’d think because Team USA won the World Junior Championship that the Olympic team would be rated better than they are. Perhaps the hype over hockey south of the border was a passing fancy, and the true champions of the sport reside in the frozen tundra of Canada, Russia and Sweden who are all ranked before us for Gold in Vancouver.

Sure, Canada has Sidney Crosby, Russia has Ovechkin and the Swedes have brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin.  Team USA has plenty of talent that is apparently being cast in fourth with no medal.  Interesting to watch for international fans, the players from the Home of the Brave are facing lowered expectations that they can accomplish the feat to bring home a medal.

Starting goaltender for the US will be Buffalo Sabres Ryan Miller who has had an outstanding year with a record of 29-14-6 including against teams with Crosby, Ovechkin and the Sedins.  Miller has the best GAA rating among all the starting goalies with a 2.01, as well as his save percentage at .936%.  He’s had hit a rough patch recently, but he leads with 27 shutouts.  If he can’t stop a puck then Team USA can start worrying.

Both Los Angeles King Jonathan Quick and Boston Bruin Tim Thomas will back Miller in the net.  Quick has had an outstanding year leading the Kings into a comfortable spot in the Western Conference, which no one anticipated.  Quick holds a 34-17-3 record having won in his last two meetings with the heavily loaded Swedish Detroit Red Wings.

Thomas has had a tough time with the ailing Bruins and a record of 13-15-7.  Controversial goaltender selections brewed over the selection of Quick and Thomas over the hotshot of the Colorado Avalanche, Craig Anderson.

Defending the net will be a chore for the Americans as they face some physical players from Russia and Sweden.  Detroit Red Wing defenseman Brian Rafalski will lead the charge with previous Olympic experience.  Rafalski’s resume is impressive with three Stanley Cups and two Olympics, winning Silver in 2002.  But Rafalski doesn’t wander from the blue line with the intent of scoring except for setting up for the assist so he’ll have pressure to lead the inexperienced players and play more aggressively.

The Johnson boys, St. Louis Blues Erik Johnson and LA King Jack Johnson will debut in Vancouver both displaying a work ethic that impressed the US selection panel.  Nashville Predator Ryan Suter will most likely be in the starting line-up with his strong play. Rounding out the healthy participants is Pittsburgh Penguins’ Brooks Orpik whose youth will be either an energetic positive addition or an inexperienced bad experiment. Orpik has experience playing with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, which could prove to be beneficial against Canada and Russia.

Two of the defensemen, New Jersey Devil Paul Martin and Toronto Maple Leaf Mike Komisarek are reported to be unlikely to play, and will need to be replaced due to injuries.  Martin is still holding out hope he could be ready by February 15th.  Possible replacements rumored have included Carolina Hurricanes’ Tim Gleason; Ryan Whitney of the Anaheim Ducks; Pittsburgh Penguins’ Alex Goligoski; and from the Atlanta Thrashers, Ron Hainsey or Zach Bogosian.

Putting pressure on the scoring line, only Chris Drury and Jamie Langenbrunner have Olympic games to back up their insight for their team.  New York Rangers’ Drury won Silver in 2002, while New Jersey’s Langenbrunner played in Nagano in 1998 with no medal.  Drury has been a bust this season and has disappointed in points, but has been able to be a leader.  Langenbrunner’s Devils have held on tight in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference sitting in second behind Washington and Ovi.

The list of forwards consists of what The Hockey News calls, “youth over experience.”

David Backes of the St. Louis Blues has steadily climbed his way into the limelight, for better or for worse.  Critics say he isn’t all that, but Backes has posted 34 points and 77 penalty minutes this season.  His strength is scoring, while his weakness is fighting.

Dustin Brown of the LA Kings has 40 points this season and 22 penalty minutes.  He is one reason the Kings have been able to dazzle the NHL and are holding steady for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Ryan Callahan’s debut on Broadway keeps outdoing each performance for the New York Rangers.  He’s on par to surpass last season’s scoring, and he’s been heating up lately despite the Rangers lack of pizzazz in the playoff hunt.  Expect Callahan to take the charge.

Patrick Kane is out of all the wingers, an anticipated star on the roster for crowds.  Playing for the talented young Chicago Blackhawks, Kane has emerged with 64 points this year and a plus 17 rating.  He’s good and doesn’t make mistakes.

Phil Kessel’s career in the NHL has matured into more scoring and less penalties.  Though his team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, may not be anywhere near a playoff contender Kessel keeps his play as if he were.

Joe Pavelski is as even on goals and assists as ying is to yang.  Pavelski makes his home with the San Jose Sharks and adds additional depth to the point machine of the Western Conference.

Ryan Kesler was a must have last year for fantasy hockey owners, so this year he was scooped up quickly. His presence in Vancouver was the secret ingredient for the Canucks.  Though he won’t be traveling far, this will benefit the US with one less jetlagged player.

Paul Stastny had an opportunity to play for Canada or Slovakia, but good for Team USA to have the commitment from this Colorado Avalanche assistant captain.  Stastny will draw international interest and hopefully draw plays towards the net.

Ryan Malone is a fantasy hockey owner’s dream with 42 points and 57 penalty minutes (if you’re in PIM leagues). The Tampa Bay Lightning knew Malone was something special and he’s proven he can keep up the points.

Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils is one player that was a must to represent the USA, though he sports a Canadian bloodline.  Parise is the second leading scorer for the Devils and synonymous with the new energy of the team.  It shows in their fiery style of play.  Teammate Jamie Langenbrunner will lend some helpful advice.

Bobby Ryan ignites his style with the Anaheim Ducks.  Ryan tallied 45 points and 57 penalty minutes so far this season.  Let’s just hope he scores rather than scraps.

Youth over experience could leave Team USA into overdrive. But beware; the lack of experience could be costly when confronted with players with more skill, more exposure and more scoring.  Mistakes can be costly with these high stakes, but it’s a great opportunity for these young NHL stars to be recognized as our team, Team USA.

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.