Tag Archives: Chara

Canucks’ luck or Bruins’s ruin?

The Vancouver Canucks’s Kevin Bieksa took a lucky shot and won a trip to the Stanley Cup final. Some say they were lucky and not deserving of the win. Hello, the Canucks won the President’s Trophy. Another view hoisted the Canucks as ruining the NHL market in the US….Americans have a long way to go before they are “in love” with hockey like the Canadians.

So do the Canucks just have luck or are they really all that talented? This hockey freak picked them to win it all. Vancouver will win in 5. Game 6 tops if Boston gets lucky with a skilled driller by Horton or Krecji.

Vancouver’s ability to close the deal has gelled. The Canucks top line, Sedin-Sedin-Burrows, have combined for more points in the playoffs than any other line. Throw in Ryan Kesler and it’s the cherry on top. The newbies, Chris Higgins and Cody Hodgson are call-ups who have stood up to the task. Defense from Alex Edler, Christian Ehrhoff , Dan Hamhuis and Aaron Rome will give the Bruins a run.

But really it’s about the goaltending between two Vezina Trophy finalist- Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas. Luongo has won an Olympic gold medal on home ice and has the feel for Rogers Arena. He has hit some slumps, but is usually consistent. Thomas flailed a bit early in the year but convalesced into the oompa loompa he is in net. I give this battle to Luongo. And the Vezina.

Vancouver has fluidity, while Boston can look clunky. Boston’s dangerous weapons are to be feared and revered by the Canucks if they want to win. David Krecji is one of those quiet underrated players who shouldn’t be considered in that manner. Nathan Horton has been a remarkable gift from the Florida Panthers. Not only does Horton score, but he strategizes with pizzazz carrying seven points in the series with Tampa Bay along with Krecji.

You can’t talk about the Bruins without mentioning their captain, the road block that is Zdeno Chara. He’s received some heat this season for not playing like a top defenseman and the embroiled Paciorety incident, yet he still has been nominated for the Norris. Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference have made a difference on the blue line to the net for Boston’s defense. Ference gets in there like a ferret.

The Stanley Cup this year will return to the Western Conference and to Canada.

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Summer is here

Red Wings fans have sobered up now that the Wings are gearing up for summer in Michigan. Time to get the boat out, head for the lake and fondly reminisce about what could have been. Next season for sure!

Lidstrom will surely retire after this season at age 41, six Norris Trophy wins and 4-time Stanley Cup winner. He’s won the Viking Award twice, which is given to the best Swedish player in North America. While Lidstrom may be bound for Sweden to retire, the Red Wings will be losing Mike Modano and Chris Osgood as well. The 2011-12 NHL season in Detroit will look different with new additions from Grand Rapids moving in.

Fine wine ages, and so must the Wings fledglings. This new flock will have their growing pains, but overall will maintain quality hockey for the fans and in the Western Conference. Detroit will not be in danger of sitting last in the race next year to make the playoffs.

Brendan Smith, Tomas Tatar are just a few who have had some ice time in Detroit. Notable Griffins not ready for prime time include Gustav Nyquist from Maine and Brandon Straub from Colorado College.

We still will have Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Franzen but how long will it be before Rafalski leaves? A few more productive years in Detroit, then he could be done or NHL rumors have focused on Rafalski as a trade option.

The new team will work under Babcock and Holland. Change is good so look forward to getting to know the 2011-12 team and think fondly of the 2010-11 Wings. Somewhat like the transition from Steve Yzerman heading to Tampa Bay, the triumph comes with perseverance. Detroit fans will not be denied a good game of hockey.

The playoffs continue with Tampa vs. Boston and the Canucks vs. the Sharks.

Boston is a Bunyan of a team with Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Zdeno Chara, and then some. Tim Thomas in net creates the beast within the Boston Bruins. I expect gritty games with incredible puck-in-glove action from Thomas. Boston bets: Marchand, Peverley, Recchi.

Tampa Bay boasts Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Vinny LeCavalier and in net, Dwayne Roloson, who has been on will-call for a Stanley Cup trip. Other names you need to know: Purcell, Malone, Bergenheim.  Tampa won the Cup in 2004, then the lockout derailed the NHL for years. The experience on the Lightning is just enough to take out Boston.

Tampa Bay takes the series because they shut down Ovechkin to get here.

Vancouver Canucks stands for Canada. Ryan Keler will also take out anyone who gets in his way of this Cup. He was gyped out of the Gold, so now he must conquer the Cup. The Sedin twins are expected to get the job done as well. Roberto Luongo is a proven winner in net and so is his opponent. Gentlemen’s duel. Canucks who can make the plays: Bieksa, Burrows, Torres.

The Sharks have carried some playoff baggage that needs to get tossed. With Logan Couture, Devin Setoguchi and Ryan Clowe, the Sharks look tough to beat. Clowe will clock Kesler I’m betting on that one. The Sharks have Joe Thornton. Plus, Dan Boyle has won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004.

Vancouver Canucks will move on, despite both teams having difficulty closing the deal.

Kisses from the All-Stars

With a fantasy draft divvying up the All-Star roster, both Eric Staal and Nick Lidstrom became team captains of Team Staal and Team Lidstrom. Hometown fans and Hurricanes’ holler wasn’t enough to pull out the win for Carolina Hurricanes Eric Staal’s NHL All-Star team, Team Staal, who lost by a goal to Team Lidstrom. The four-time Stanley Cup champion and six-time winner of the Norris Trophy, Nicklas Lidstrom, led his team to victory over Team Staal, 11-10.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were out with injuries, but we celebrate them all year. This game was a chance for the other players to gain their deserved recognition. And with that, here are a few highlights from the NHL portion in Raleigh, N.C.

Alex Ovechkin made the first goal of the night and the first faux pas for Team Staal. Ovechkin drew the first All-Star penalty shot when he threw his stick in front of the path of Team Lidstrom’s Matt Duchene on a breakaway. Odd play- looks like Ovechkin lost grip or made the sabotage allowing the stick to slide quite a distance on the ice right past the Avalanche forward. Duchene missed the shot against New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. If I were a cartoonist, I would have a blast sketching devil horns on Ovechkin and angel wings on Duchene. Or King Henry knighting Duchene as Ovi stretches on the rack.

And now to the defending Stanley Cup Champs time on the ice- Team Staal’s victory was Patrick Sharp winning a new car and named All-Star MVP for his goal and two assists. Chicago Blackhawks teammates, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane claimed the win with Team Lidstrom. Done.

Carolina Hurricane’s forward Jeff Skinner was the youngest NHL All-Star to play in the NHL at 18 years, 259 days, beating Steve Yzerman’s previous record in 1984 by just eight days. Many of the veterans tried to set Skinner up for a goal, but not go. Glad to see Skinner cheered by an awesome group of fans. If anyone doubts that the southeast can support hockey, I beg to differ. Raleigh and Charlotte have made a commitment to hockey playing within the zone of Ovechkin, Byfuglien, and Stamkos. A zone that has not yet been capitalized, teams with low attendance like in Atlanta need to grow or do more marketing. The rumors of Atlanta possibly shifting to Quebec or Winnipeg rouse the loyal in Canada. But if Bettman chooses to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, rather than support the Atlanta Thrashers, the commish must have tee time in Scottsdale often with the NHL players who have retired there.

All-Star games are a celebration of the best talent of the year. Anze Kopitar, Danny Briere and Loui Eriksson scored two apiece for Team Lidstrom. Adding one each were Toews, Dustin Byfuglien, Duchene, Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis. Staal and Letang each had two goals for Team Staal while Ovechkin Paul Stastny, Patrik Elias, Claude Giroux, Sharp and Rick Nash added the others.

Speed puck champ, Zdeno Chara, had two assists for Team Staal. Chara won the puck speed skill competition with105.9, shattering his old record of 105.4 in 2009.

Meanwhile, in Hershey with dancing mascots of chocolates kisses and a plethora of other chocolate delights, the AHL honored their best-of-the-best. Bobby Butler, leading rookie-goal-scorer of the Binghamton Senators was chosen MVP with a goal, 3 assists and a plus-4 rating. Amazing to note that last year’s AHL MVP was Tyler Ennis who now plays for the Buffalo Sabres, and a few years prior, Tampa Bay’s Teddy Purcell took the honors.

Bruce Boudreau, Olaf Kolzig and the current AHL President Dave Andrews reminisced on their time in the AHL and the importance of their experience. All commented on the friendships made while playing in the AHL and the torture of travel, notably the 14-hour bus trips from Halifax to Portland. Most AHL players will never get to the NHL, but if you get to play hockey as your job instead of sitting in a cubicle pushing papers, you’ve done good.

Top D-guys for Fantasy drafts

Draft day is approaching, and while I value the contribution of the offensive players the defenseman hold my attention. I usually take a gander at rankings from the top hockey outlets, but decided to forfeit their early suggestions and make a list of my own. Not all top ranked D-guys made my list; therefore I expect a few rumblings about key players not listed below. If I don’t want to draft them, they’re not on my radar.

Leaving off Dion and Pronger was no mistake. Just not a fan of their style. Avery has graced my roster a few times, but I can handle his style no matter how sticky it can get. The New York Rangers have a decent blueline if Avery can step it up and if Del Zotto can hold on. I wanted to find a powerhouse defenseman in the Vancouver Canucks, and I have to say that last year, Alex Edler was helpful in my playoff run. With the addition of Keith Ballard, maybe the Canucks will gel on the blueline.

Without further adieu, the suggestions below are a list of top defensemen that should be grabbed early.

Nicklas Lidstrom- Detroit Red Wings– Always at the top of my list for several reasons: he exemplifies leadership and the role of the defensemen, plus, he’s the captain of the Red Wings. At the age of 40, he’s coming back for one more year in Detroit to help shape the blueline for the future of the organization. Expect good things from him this season as he wants to leave on a legendary note.

Mike Green- Washington Capitals– Rank him high on your list. With 76 points on the year, a plus-39 rating and 54 PIMs, he’s an overall player. Workhorse and Norris Trophy candidate too.

Drew Doughty- Los Angeles Kings- Also nominated for the Norris Trophy, many expected Doughty to win. Scoring 59 points and 54 PIMs, you’ve just made two categories intriguing on your roster. His impact on the charismatic Kings has been noticed. The Kings have locked and loaded a talented group of players who will fight their way into the playoffs again. Recruit.


Duncan Keith- Chicago BlackHawks-
Norris Trophy winner is all I need to say. Along with his 69 points and 51 PIMs, Keith also has a plus-21 rating which is one niche that many fantasy owners disregard. Besides, who doesn’t want a D-guy who sacrificed numerous teeth for his team to win the Cup?


Dan Boyle-San Jose Sharks
– He had a rough time in the playoffs, but will bounce back from the mishaps. Though the media is cautious in claiming the Sharks will be in Cup contention, Boyle will play hard and keep the team in the zone. Strengths include his 58 points and 70 PIMs.


Tyler Myers- Buffalo Sabres
– Top rookie with 48 points, a plus-13, and 32 PIMs is a good call for this fresh face. Calder winner over Colorado’s Duchene and hot Detroit goaltender Howard. This is my absolute pick for D.


Sergei Gonchar- Ottawa Senators
– A new team, a new crowd to excite. Last season with Pittsburgh he tallied 50 points and 49 PIMs, but beware the under par rating for the plus/minus column.

Shea Weber- Nashville Predators- Team captain and on everyone’s wish list. Posting 43 points and 36 PIMs, he’s a solid defenseman to put on your docket. Nashville has made some moves to ensure the Predators break past round one and two of the playoffs.

Brian Rafalski-Detroit Red Wings– Olympic hero and hometown boy represents the Detroit blueline. Even if his numbers don’t hold at last seasons’ 42 points, a plus-23 rating, and 26 PIMs, he is the guy who sets up the brilliant net shakers and sees them through. If you are a Detroit fan, he’ll be on your roster.


Erik Johnson-St. Louis Blues
– I’m very excited about the Blues this season. Johnson was solid with 39 points and an impressive 79 PIMs. I only play on leagues with PIMs.

Zdeno Chara- Boston Bruins– Also a team captain, Chara was a bit of a let down last year. Not sure what happened, but I am cautious this year. But when you look at his stats, they’re pretty darn good at 44 points, a plus-19 and of course, 87 PIMs. Just watching Chara flatten and skewer opponents is enough reason to stick him on your roster. If you miss the game, check out all the fun on hockeyfights.com

Drafting defensemen is vital early. Depending on your league, you may have as many as four slots for defense; take two solid performers, then you are able to pick up at least two mix and match players on hot streaks. If you only have two, then make top picks that have depth into many categories, particularly on the power-play. Don’t forget your fighter either. Penalties can be bad, but the fighters who can score become the energy on your roster and great to follow. I have at least two bad boys on my team, but always room for more.

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.

Top Five Defensemen

According to the recent Sporting News hockey edition, the top five defensemen are:

1. Mike Green- Washington Capitals

2. Brian Rafalski- Detroit Red Wings

3. Andre Markov- Montreal Canadiens

4. Brian Campbell- Chicago Blackhawks

5. Nicklas Lidstrom-Detroit Red Wings

I’m glad to see Andre Markov as a top contender as a defender.  Last year, he was impressive despite his team’s lackluster in their performance.  Markov has been on my fantasy hockey roster for a few years,  and was a good player even before last year’s  raking in goals and penalty points.

Rafalski was one of my top D guys last year.  Not to mention he’s a hometown boy playing for his team- always a benefit when looking at players who will give their heart and sou for the fans.

Other notable defensemen in the top ten:

Dan Boyle, SJ Sharks, who posts blogs on my article site PlayerPress.com comes in at number six. He is itching to get back and ready to make the run for the Cup.

Boston Bruin captain Zdeno Chara ranks in at lucky number seven- he’s got it all.  Best pick for a fantasy team.  The media likes to illustrate his potency with terms such as “flattens” his opponent.  Gotta love that!

Which defensive player will top your list this year?

Best Defenseman?

Over the course of the year, the question of who the best defenseman arises.  Many hockey players consider Donal Brahshear to be the best.  My vote goes to Zdeno Chara.