Tag Archives: Crosby

National Hockey Lockout

Award for lameness. The lockout will have reverberations in varied degrees depending on its duration. If players are bailing immediately, the fans are sure to follow. Maintaining a billion dollar industry with no provider and no customer won’t hold back a backlash.

NCAA and AHL hockey will see a profit, and those neighbordhood junior leagues will benefit from new spectators. The fans want hockey. The game of hockey is why fans pay to see the game,  not to buy a pretzel and a key chain. Going to a game, supporting your team is tradition for most recalling classic memories. If food and trinkets call you to the game, then you really are not a hockey fan.

This work stoppage has sent Evgeny Malkin and Sergei Gonchar packing for home signing deals with Mettalurg of the Kontinental Hockey League. The Pittsburgh Penguins roster got lighter as Sidney Crosby’s agent made an inquiry to the KHL so Sid the Kid won’t hit a skid this season. Yannick Weber and Mark Streit sign in Switzerland, Christian Ehrhoff heads to Germany, so who will next to send a message to the NHL?  Pavel Datsyuk and Alex Ovechkin, that’s who. Patrick Berglund will play for free in Sweden and the exodus continues.

Shane Doan’s contract was wrapped up with a 4-year deal in Phoenix as the Coyotes arena deal looked positive and possible. Now, that’s all gone for those few fans who eagerly anticipated the return of their desert dogs.

The owners are the only people who really want this lockout. They lose money but hope to gain. This tactic is a way to keep the lid on grandstanding in the future with ludicrous multi-year contracts that escalate as the player deflates. Even NHL players are expendable. Perhaps this is a passive technique to rid the tough guy world of whiners and embellish-makers.

It’s a bittersweet farewell to NHL veterans Teemu Selanne and Daniel Alfredsson who will not get a grand farewell if the season isn’t salvaged.

We’ll all laugh about this went the lockout gives way by November, right? We’ll all be cautious and snagging some of those promotional tickets the NHL teams will have to fork over to win back the loyal.

The lockout is lame because it’s the same issue in any workplace- administration vs. staff. Rarely do the two sides ever see the same problem or the same solution. Negotiation must end on a win-win, and that is not happening soon at any percentage rate.

Gary Bettman and Bill Daly will forego salaries this season, and the NHL employees will go to a 4-day work week to save money. The Florida Panthers let go of their mascot and the damages to the profits continue. What was the point of all of this again?

Remember these great moments?

or this great moment for the Rangers/Devils fans?


National Hockey Lame. Positives in all of this: no Paulina Gretzky and Nickelback.

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Hockey Chutzpah and the Looney Lockout

Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Gary Bettman have infringed on the end of summer and there’s no end in sight. Summer isn’t over, yet hockey fans are wondering if they should pack up the sunscreen and swimsuits just yet for skates and snow gear. Training camp is just weeks away, or is it?

Kudos for  the Russian hockey “activist” Alex Ovechkin for making efforts to save the 2012-13 season and a chance to rebound. Representing the modern hockey god, Sidney Crosby has also put his actions to save the careers of many of his colleagues. Depending on Crosby’s medical clearance, he may not see much of a season despite his efforts.

This is about money, isn’t it? Yes, yes, it is.

Fans have been raging over ticket prices for years. Average Joe attends AHL or college games. Average Joe does not enjoy sitting in the rafters at Joe Louis Arena or Madison Square Garden. Really, they don’t. The real competition is the affiliates and training/development programs that feed into the NHL that will benefit from a lockout.

Let’s not even talk about the KHL or European leagues where many snubbed NHL players are making their livelihood.

The proposal is to spread the wealth. Successful teams needs to help the fledglings so the money is created equal. Slashing salaries of the players and limits to contracts still does not resolve the high cost of being an NHL fan.

As a hockey writer, the lockout will impede the progress made under the direction of…em…Bettman in the media. Tormented and despised, his tactics grew the sport’s popularity and TV deals proving the strategy is working. Authority figures ruining everything is not a new concept, but it’s not the coaches, announcers, trainers or any of the staff who have crippled the season. Ownership and investment calls all the shots and signs the paychecks.

All this is important to hometown hockey hooligans who cannot imagine life without hockey, but they will if a deal cannot be met by Sept. 15.

Crosby debut welcoming to Eastern Conference

Four points have Sidney Crosby back in the game. His debut on Long Island stunned  everyone leaving the Islanders blank. Was he that good or were the Islanders in awe of his return? Crosby’s return to the NHL was covered in the media as the celeb he is, humbled, but the pump was no fake. Sid the Kid delivered.

Meanwhile, in Washington the Caps are having Alex problems. When Alex Semin is a healthy scratch and Ovie lacks, where is the love in D.C? Good time to trade Semin in you fantasy league. Cup predictions for the Caps are in need of some serious tweaking.

The Rangers agitator Avery is back and the Blueshirts are tallying wins like the talented team they really are. If you are following the Brad Richards-Olivia Munn hoopla, then go read Puck Daddy who felt it was newsworthy. If you are a Rangers fan then the Avery bug bit you the most, not the love bug.

Now that the Eastern Conference has their guy back, let’s give some applause to the rest of the Penguins who have maintained the top sport despite playing without their top dog. Pittsburgh is rocking knowing that the Cup could be coming to their town if things hold up.

 

Don’t forget your Enforcers

Matt Cooke, Todd Bertuzzi and all of those tough guys with bad reputations are turning a new leaf; they have to or face public outcry and discipline. New NHL disciplinarian and ex-Red Wing Brendan Shanahan will make it so. If an illegal hit surmounts to a suspension, the league will release a video of the play, then break it down to formulate a proper decision.

Pittsburgh Penguins pesky winger has been the target of resentment from fans everywhere for his hit on Boston Bruins Marc Savard, who is still experiencing concussion-like symptoms. Bertuzzi has toned down his sock’em robot imitation after the Steve Moore incident, and touted his skills in Detroit significantly scoring last season.

Cooke has been a consistent 30 points scoring for the past few seasons with the Pens, but his reputation needed some TLC. Last season his penalty minutes climbed as his suspensions and poor public profile contributed to his need to reiterate that he was not a nasty guy rather a caring family man. As Sidney Crosby’s health has been disruptive to the Pens and its fans, Cooke still may drop the gloves or take a hit but his role as enforcer must tame for the success of the team. Giving up penalties won’t help Pittsburgh, particularly if Crosby sits out most of the upcoming season. Don’t shy away from Cooke, but give it time for his new face to form.

For Detroit Red Wings fans, the signing of Bertuzzi was a surprise and caused some grumbling. Bertuzzi put up a solid 40-plus point and often scored the game changer. As a fantasy league option, the winger was a hot pick mid-season. His numbers are expected to be fair for the 2011-12 season, yet the 36-year old may be running low.

Bertuzzi and Cooke will meet as the Red Wings travel to Pittsburgh Sept. 21 for a preseason game.

The unfortunate passing of Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien has brought a lot of attention to enforcer forefront. Though fighting and hits were not the cause of death for either player, it is a reminder to all hockey followers that these tough guys have a purpose and a place on the team. As the New York Rangers rebuild from the tragedy and acquire a tenacious team, both Sean Avery and Brandon Prust are ones to keep an eye on.

Avery has always been the Rangers bad boy
. From his “sloppy seconds” comment creating a surge of bad PR, Avery has rebounded to support same-sex marriage publicly and was recently redeemed from an interaction in Hollywood. Having a tough guy reputation attracts more trouble than these guys stir up. As a scorer, Avery had a great start to the 2010-11 season. His charisma boosts the Rangers to turn up the heat.

Brandon Prust excelled last year. Prust was Boogaard’s roommate on the road, so this season his play will be dedicated to the loss. Prust sat on my roster and produced with 29 pts., 160 PIMS, and 161 hits. If you play in a league that doesn’t reward for hits or penalty minutes, find a new league.

In Philly, your best bet is Scott Hartnell, who also snapped to it early in the season. New Flyers to take a look at include Max Talbot with 66 PIMS and 154 hits; Wayne Simmonds with 75 PIMS and 125 hits; and don’t forget your Chris Pronger who is capable of some enforcement.

In New Jersey, the Devil you may look at is David Clarkson. Though Clarkson tamed his temper last season, he still acquired 116 PIMS and 170 hits.

If you are still on the New York Islanders float, consider Travis Hamonic with 103 PIMs and 118 hits. Hamonic was a late addition to my team and he made the difference in those categories.

If you hold grudges and cannot get over Matt Cooke’s issues, then take Kris Letang as you Penguins pick. The defenseman posted 101 PIMS and 167 hits last season.

Defenders can supply your team with assists and goals, so don’t forget to support your local enforcers.

Turnpike Turnaround for the New Jersey Devils

It’s tricky. Working the numbers, place the bet and watch your pick head into the turn toward the finish line. That’s the race Lou Lamoriello ran with Ilya Kovalchuk. Just over the one-year anniversary of the controversial signing of Ilya Kovalchuk, the rejection of the deal by the NHL and the fines slapped on the hand and wallet of Devils GM/Preident Lou Lamoriello didn’t discourage in his efforts. Lou is hard at work this summer placing bets for the 2011-12 season. The race in the Atlantic Division will be a tough ride with Jagr in Philly, Richards in NYC and the Pens if Crosby return.

Devils fans can breathe a sign of relief at the signing of high-scoring left wing Zach Parise to a one-year-contract worth $6 million. Avoiding arbitration, the Devils secured their franchise player making room under the salary cap by shipping off Brian Rolston. Parise is the race horse the Devils GM had to sign.

Brian Rolston waived his no-trade clause to go to the Islanders, and in turn, the Devils pick up Trent Hunter. The forward spent nine seasons with the Islanders, compiling 99 goals and 229 points in 459 NHL games, but played just 17 games last season, scoring one goal, because of a torn knee ligament. The advantage in all of this is Hunter is a competitive third/fourth liner who is a two-way player, smart defensively and an option on the penalty-kill unit. Hunter is seen as a good fit for the Devils for his “smart, not flashy” style, but has bee plagued with injuries.

Coaching took a turn when Jacques Lamiere voiced he would not return for another season bail out, so the Devils went and grabbed former Florida Panthers coach Peter DeBoer, who was fired in April for failing to take the cats into the postseason. But Lou saw something in the 43-year old coach. The two have been chatting for the past few months. Lamoriello determined DeBoer to be “one of the best young coaches in the business, and his three seasons with the Panthers only made him a better coach.”

Can devildom reach its full potential or suffer in purgatory for the year? Hockey pundits have given New Jersey an average rating with a low playoff seed in the Atlantic Division. Top-rated teams in that division will be tough to race against, notably the New York Rangers who have made some splash this offseason. The Devils are building and the New Jersey fans will continue to believe in Lou because he has their best hockey interests at heart according to his PR staff, a.k.a Lou Lamoriello.

Let the playoffs begin…

Congratulations to the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, who won the Frozen Four Saturday. It’s the first national championship in men’s hockey for the Bulldogs beating Michigan in overtime, 3-2.

Despite Michigan’s loss, Michiganders still have hope as the Detroit Red Wings have made the playoffs as the third seed in the West. Let’s look at the playoff pairings in the Western Conference:

#1 Vancouver vs. #8 Chicago
The Blackhawks eked in from a Dallas loss and will face the winner of the Presidents’ Trophy. Goaltending in Vancouver will be difficult to diffuse as Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider took home the Jennings Trophy for goaltending tandem. Beyond that, the Hawks have their work cut out with Daniel Sedin securing the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s top scorer with 104 pts.  The Canucks have an opportunity to win big in the first-round edging closer to the Cup. Chicago has tough talent but has not been as steady through injuries and malaise. The Hawks could make it tough for the Canucks, but Chicago has lost their Mojo. Canucks should wrap up the series, 4-2.

#2 San Jose vs. #7 Los Angeles-
One of the best matchups in the playoffs. A must watch, especially for California viewers. Three teams from the Golden State have made it in illustrating the shift in power from the East to the West. The Sharks are at it again and seem more relaxed as they enter yet another playoff fun. The Kings are a tough crew with some awesome talent who are fun to watch. San Jose players who have upped their game include Ryan Clowe and Logan Couture who have given the Sharks some needed energy. The Sharks look poised this year. The Kings could be a spoiler, but still have some maturing to do. And without Anze Kopitar, the rest of the gang will surely fire back. Sharks could surprise the Kings with a sweep. The question is can Kings goalie Quick maintain his namesake in the series?

#3 Detroit vs. #6 Phoenix-
So many Coyotes fans are from Detroit. The Yotes have something to prove and could be a nasty pest for the Wings. Phoenix fans are pumped for the playoffs. Wings fans are confident, but without Zetterberg in the first game fans are concerned. Depth is key here- the Coyotes have played very well this year, while Detroit has had their ups and downs. Wings will take the series but Phoenix will fight and make it tight. Goaltending is a factor. Bryzgalov and Howard must play the best games of their lives to move on and both are capable. Tight race but Wings move on.

#4 Anaheim vs. #5 Nashville-
It’s the Nashville curse- they get in and lose. Anaheim has struggled but have dynamic players in Cory Perry, the winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer with his 50 goals. The Ducks are fighters and are scrappy. With home-field advantage, the Ducks could easily wipe out the Preds. Perry, Bobby Ryan, Cam Fowler and Ryan Getzlaf will score. Energetic play will keep this series one to watch. Too close to call, but Anaheim has more oomph to take control.

The Eastern Conference is looking extremely tough:

#1 Washington vs. #8 New York Rangers
A must watch for anyone. Ovechkin meets Lundqvist is a slice of heaven for any hockey fan. Washington has not done well in past Stanley Cup runs, but then New York wiped out last year against the Caps despite leading the series. This series will go down to the wire.

#2 Philadelphia vs. #7 Buffalo-
Philly rocked last year and could be heading to the Cup finals if they can hold on. Buffalo has fought to stay in the hunt. Goaltender Ryan Miller has to be top-notch to get past the Flyers. Flyers’ goaltending has been a revolving door. Great playoff history between these two teams will give this series some bite. The Flyers can win if the goaltending is stable and can beat Miller.

#3 Boston vs. #6 Montreal-
Can’t even begin to describe the fierceness of this rivalry, plus the animosity with the Chara-Pacioretty incident. A healing game on some level, but anyone’s game at this point. Price and Thomas are excellent in net, so grab a beer and pop some popcorn for this double-feature. This one will go to the end. Fighting is likely.

#4 Pittsburgh vs. #5 Tampa Bay-
Without Crosby and Malkin, the Pens have really shown the depth of their bench and that usually wins games. Staal, Talbot and Kennedy will continue the play that has kept them in the hunt. Tampa Bay lacks some playoff experience; however, with Martin St. Louis and Steve Yzerman as elder statesmen the Lightning will make the series tight. Yet, another good exhibition of players and punch and will come down to the wire if the Pens can keep it tight. Tampa Bay can do it if they shut down the Pens momentum.  Fleury is experienced and Roloson pulls out the stops.

Great games ahead and refreshing teams that have made it into the rotation make this year’s Stanley Cup run a must see.  Complete disappointment in Denver though. The Colorado Avalanche tanked this year after a good start. Recently, I saw Kevin Porter and Kyle Quincey on the day of Adam Foote’s retirement and they looked like someone had died. The loss of their captain in a losing year is a bummer. Better luck next year to all the teams who are heading to the golf course.

The coast with the boast

What’s with the love affair with the Western Conference? Los Angeles seems to be a hot bed for hockey now that Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson and Justin Williams is the supporting cast for Anze Kopitar- the depth of the bench holds great value. The youth movement hit teams like the Kings, the Avs and the Sharks. Couture is in, and the Blues are singing happy tunes.

The lowest team in the East lags behind the wins in the West by seven. Toronto’s fall from grace was heard around the league, yet the struggling Rangers pulled their team up with their groomed talent in Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky. The West takes bigger chances. The East sticks to tradition. There is more pressure in the East to win, not so in the West. Ebb and flow. Los Angeles chose to rebuild and invest in marketing and public relations with the other Heidi. Colorado got lucky with some smart picks who were willing to take a salary reduction. Numerous reasons have put the West into high gear for now. The population influx in western cities is evident, but few are relocating eastward. Old school hockey fans live in the West now and expect a higher level of play from their NHL franchise. That’s how it goes in Denver, where you will meet people from the cold northeast looking for 360 sunny days a year in the Mile High City, and a hockey team. It’s the people who influence, the demand for the product. It’s pure demographics and market research before investing in the product. If the population pressures the management, more will be spent on building.

The Western Conference used to stop in Detroit. Since Chicago stole the show and grabbed the Cup last season, the westward migration continues. Vancouver, Anaheim, San Jose and Phoenix speak to the newest generation of hockey fans. Don’t get me wrong- the East is not dead by any means, but the trend shifts west for now. A generation has turned more aware of hockey, growing up with Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman as the superstars in the West. Gretzy in Edmonton, Los Angeles, and St. Louis brought more attention past the Mississippi.

Montreal, Philadelphia and New York have emerged recently to wow fans. Washington and Pittsburgh are no slouches, neither are Overchkin and Crosby, who still dictate hockey stats. Stamkos has become the new face of NHL hockey, and he’s in the East, and a beach league to boot. The expectations in the Eastern Conference are fierce and that has caused the stern look at the differences. The Western Conference has been under rated for so long, that the shock of their revival emphasizes the weakening of the East. Right now in the standings, in the West, Vancouver has 31 pts. and sits in the No. 2 slot, while Tampa Bay also has 31 pts. but sits in the No. 6 slot in the East. The consistency in the West allows an evening of the race in standings almost weekly. The hold on the top spot is tighter in the West, thus more competitive match-ups regularly. More attention to detail and fewer mistakes is a must if your team is facing stiff competitors.

The West has stayed competitive to keep up with the Red Wings over the years. Yes, I said it. Every team wants to keep up with the Wings, now and in the past. But for teams truly in the west, it seems ironic as the West touts the lone gunslinger mantra, yet the team concept translates well. Teams work well in an ambush. The East develops individual talent, so the team concept has dropped in significance, some have suggested. The Flyers seem pretty tight, as does the Rangers. Benchwarmers in the East aren’t as NHL ready as they seem to be in the West. The Tampa Bay Lightning is an eastern team benefiting from the knowledge through Steve Yzerman’s leadership. Stevie Y. learned from the best franchise team both on and off the ice.

Best bets for the Stanley Cup have pitted the Detroit Red Wings against the Washington Capitals. Another speculation could be Tampa Bay and Los Angeles. Some exciting possibilities have been created in this fluctuating season sending fantasy teams into clunkers and numerous hat-tricks. Great games are great gifts for any hockey fan, so may the season be magical!

Rewards at the NHL awards

The NHL awards were held Wednesday in Las Vegas Wednesday. No surprises really, just a typical nice guy awards show without much hoopla despite the opening by Snoop Dogg.

The Calder Memorial Trophy:  Tyler Myers

Tyler Myers was an amazing rookie. I grabbed him as a free agent on both of my fantasy teams and was praising the guy all year. He wasn’t the Sabre player I expected to be the breakout candidate but his tenacity and wandering defense make him tops on my list. He clocked the most ice time of any Sabres player

Frank J. Selke Trophy: Pavel Datsyuk

The best defensive forward, no duh. Can he do anything wrong? He was criticized for the lackluster performance for the Red Wings, but he took off and kept the playoffs in reach. Can’t deny his talents and lasting abilities for the Wings franchise.

Ted Lindsay Award- Alex Ovechkin

The more Alex speaks, the more I like his nonchalant attitude. He kept talking despite the music, the next presenter and cues to leave the stage. Alex doesn’t care and wants his time because he’s earned it.

Jack Adams Award-Dave Tippett

This was a well-deserved award to the head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, who turned this group around with the vision to create a playoff team. The Coyotes have been decent in recent years, but lacked the leadership to take it to the next level. With the ownership and attendance woes in the desert, the players played with heart and determination to make the team noticeable.

Vezina Trophy-Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller fans that believed he was the best goaltender at the winter games felt losing the gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics was a blow. Miller knows he’s that good but is humble. He’s the best of the best.

Bill Masterston Memorial Trophy-Jose Theodore
With 23 straight games unbeaten, Theodore somehow flew under the radar on some fantasy teams. But not mine. Theodore has had a few bumpy years of play and personal tragedy that made this award a confirmation to his ability to maintain composure in net. Most of us would have completely checked out.

King Clancy Memorial Trophy- Shane Doan

Leadership on and off the ice, and just a nice guy landed Doan this award. I met Doan outside of Coyotes practice signing autographs with his son. Mothers love him because he is involved in the community and cares about the children and their growth. Fans love him because he cares for their community.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy -Martin St. Louis
It’s about time St. Louis won this recognition as the epitome of sportsmanship. Hard worker, solid numbers and great attitude make St. Louis a fantastic fantasy pick for you roster but get him quick.

Mark Messier Leadership award- Sidney Crosby

This is a new award and is evidence of how well Messier’s internship with the Rangers has influence the NHL. Any openings? Is Messier passing on his magic to Crosby or does Messier want some of Crosby’s magic?

Norris Trophy- Duncan Keith
Since the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, I’m not surprised with this pick. Any player who sacrifices seven teeth during the Cup run should get something big!

Hart Memorial Trophy-Henrik Sedin
Tough competition here- Ovechkin and Crosby. The Swede walked away with the prize and kudos for the great year that the Vancouver Canucks had.

Who’s Got the Luck?

Week 7 of the NHL brings both talent and luck to the top of the Conference standings.   Shots on goal, staking claim on the blue line and goaltending has contributed to the unpredictable rankings as we move past the first quarter of the season.

Eastern Conference:

1.

The Washington Capitals top the Eastern Conference despite having lost Alex Ovechkin for a brief stint.  Enter Mike Green, Brooks Laich and Brendan Morrison, among the few who had an opportunity to keep their team afloat.

Goaltending has been a round robin with Jose Theodore and Semyon Varlamov netting the top jobs, but thirdster Michal Neuvirth stepped into a game this week against Montreal. Neuvirth’s opportunity fell short with a loss of  2-3.

My prediction preseason comments:

Washington Capitals- Alexander Ovechkin rocks, we all know that, but I’ll be watching to see if the young goalie, Semyon Varlamov can hold it together.  Critics doubt the strength of this goaltender for the full-season impact, but what I saw last year in the unraveling of the New York Rangers was impressive.   And, Don Cherry loves to rip on Ovechkin for his grandstanding.  How ironic.

2.

When you talk about the New Jersey Devils, Martin Brodeur gets the high five, but the Devils have a strong base and have climbed up in the Eastern Conference because of good play.   The depth of players such as David Clarkson has proven a wise investment with 7 goals, 8 assists and 33 PIMs.  Zajac and Parise have held a stake in the play, but new faces have emerged as pickups in the fantasy world due to productivity.  Right-winger Niclas Bergfors has 5 goals and 9 assists. Defenseman Andy Greene nabbed 3 goals, 6 assists, not the highest stats, but a name that is popping up more frequently in commentary during the game.

Goaltending by Martin Brodeur has been consistent and spot on with a 12-5-1 record.   With a 98% ownership in Yahoo leagues, he’s expected to be great and it’s showing.

Preseason scoop:

New Jersey Devils– So I’m more of a fan of those New York teams, but I have to give it up for the Devils.  Despite Brodeur, I like most of the players.  Travis Zajac, Zach Parise and David Clarkson have all caught my attention like no other New Jersey team in the past.  I’ll be watching and drafting from this team.

3.

The Buffalo Sabres should have won the Stanley Cup in 1999, and I still have issues with that, therefore I am elated to see the Sabres sopping it up in the Eastern conference sitting in third.  Players like Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy and Jason Pominville have provided a base, with Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford being picked up in fantasy leagues more frequently.

Ex-Michigan State Spartan Ryan Miller has been stellar for the Sabres.  His play has put the team where they are. His record stands at 12-3-2 with a GAA of 1.97 and two shutouts.

Didn’t see the Sabres as contenders but were interested in the team on my own accord.  My recommendations for Buffalo revolved around the D in Craig Rivet and Steve Mantador who have proven to keep the lanes clear for scoring.   Talent hidden in the depths of Buffalo

4.

Pittsburgh Penguins sits in 4th carrying a ton of injuries.  Sidney Crosby has done his best, but one man cannot carry it all. There are some lucky charms being utilized. Actually it’s amazing that they are holding on, but expect the Penguins to rise as soon as everyone is healthy.  Fleury could step it up a bit as his stats state 11-7-0 and a shaky GAA of 2.67.

My New York teams sit in 9th and 10th.  The NY Rangers were expected to perform better, but their talent is not delivering. One exception for the Garden is Michael Del Zotto with an impressive debut showing 4 goals, 11 assists, and14 PIMs.  The NY Islanders put a great deal of hope in rookie John Tavares and that has proven to keep the team as swimmers, not bottom feeders so far.

Western Conference:

1.

In the Western Conference many fans out west would like to see the San Jose Sharks break their bad playoff karma once and for all.  This year may be it by the hardcore play and dedication towards the playoff run.  That is said every year, but acquiring winger Dany Heatley was a gamble that has paid with 17 goals, 9 assists and 18 PIMs.  Center Patrick Marleau has 14 goals and 12 assists, then you have veteran Joe Thornton with 30 points. This type of scoring creates star power.  Plus, add great depth players in Manny Malhotra, Joe Pavelski, and a strong blue line headed by Dan Boyle co-starring Jason Demers and M-E Vlasic wins games.

Evgeni Nabokov gets respect because he can complete the task in net.  So far he’s achieved 13-3-4 but needs to gain ground in his 2.2 GAA.  Not bad, but could do better.

This was my scope for the Sharks preaseason:

The San Jose Sharks-Because who won’t be watching? Now that Dany Heatley is in, and ineffectual Jonathan Cheechoo is out, the team may have a chance.  Players like M-C Vlasic, Ryan Clowe, and of course, Joe Thornton will try to gain back the fierceness in the Shark Tank.  All hope is on Heatley.  But that may not be enough.  I’m watching from afar.  I’ll be keeping track of Dan Boyle‘s stats.

2.

Now that everyone is using the title of young guns for the Colorado Avalanche, seems the team is losing some ammo power slipping to second place. Much hype has revolved around the new overhaul and future accomplishments of the new and improved Avalanche.   Panic attack or another victim of injuries?  J-M Liles was on rotating IR for a few weeks, T.J. Galiardi was out, Adam Foote was out, and so on.  The Avs reportedly have the one of the lowest SOG and GAA stats.  Good defense and goaltending has helped keep the Avs in place.  And they’ve gotten some lucky shots due to Matt Duchene’s accuracy.  Fantasy owners were warned about picking up Wojtek Wolski , but lucky owners have benefited with 9 goals and 11 assists.

Peter Budaj was out with the flu, but did that really matter?  The star of the Avs is Craig Anderson who hit a 12-6-3 record, but a 2.52 GAA, which has slipped.

No one can dispute the Colorado Avalanche are performing well, but so many would like to see them fall down.  Is it that unbelievable that a better mix of players and management can make that much difference?  If you can get the right chemistry, there’s no telling what you can do.

3.

Chicago is a great town and an awesome sports town, so it’s a plus to see one of the Original Six teams doing well. In 3rd for the race, the past is the past and the Chicago Blackhawks are here in the now.  Though Marian Hossa is out, the Hawks have the train rolling.  Great players and I’m a fan.

My thoughts on the team preseason:

Chicago Blackhawks– Take no prisoners.  Out for blood.  Now that the Hawks have Marian Hossa the team should be amazing.  Right?  Let’s hope so after all the hoopla surrounding the team or Toews, Kane and Keith and some other good players that don’t get noticed as much: Dave Bolland, Andrew Ladd, and Brent Seabrook.  Deep dish pizzazz or digging deeper into a cheesy situation.

4.

Fourth place goes to the Los Angeles Kings who I enjoy seeing kicking the sand in everyone’s face.  A beach team has caught my eye with players like Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll, veteran Ryan Smyth and numerous guys I had never seen but introduced to by their notable play: Michal Handzus, Jack Johnson and Wayne Simmonds. Goalie Jon Quick is holding up with a 12-7-2 record, but will need to turn up the heat on his 2.62 GAA.

The St. Louis Blues got lost on their way to practice and sit in 13thplace.  David Backes has been a late bloomer and goaltending problems have been a shock to everyone.

Surprises?  The Detroit Red Wings rank 8th, while the Phoenix Coyotes are ahead in 7th.

Luck can be an amazing helper for teams with mounting injuries and sloppy shooters, but all teams have lucky games.  True skill and talent lie within all teams but don’t produce if the alignment is off or non-existent.  One top scorer can carry a team, but it’s the teams with depth taking it to the playoff run.

Glows and Blows- Week 3

Glows-

The Phoenix Coyotes who beat the Red Wings in overtime with an unexpected bounce of the puck off of goalie Chris Osgood’s stick.  Great game.

Sid the Kid played his 300th game with a power play goal, shorthanded goal and shootout goal to win over the Florida Panthers Friday.

Blows-

Oiler Sheldon Souray managed to bring the gossip to the NHL, with messy divorce and custody battle reports usually heard only in the NBA or NFL pages.

Sean Avery finally hit his limit when the New Jersey Devils came to The Garden clocking five for fighting with Mike Mottau.

Colorado Avalanche commentators for the Avs-Wings game Saturday, who showed their lack of hockey knowledge to suggest that the Red Wings era was over, and that the buzz in Detroit followed suit.  Have you been to Michigan?  Talk like that will get you in trouble.  Don’t Cross My Blue Line!