Tag Archives: Duchene

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.

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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.

Praise the Porter and other Avalanche tales

Broadway bullets weren’t enough to stop Kevin Porter, who has five goals on the year. This is great. As a Michigan Wolverine fan, Michigan hockey fandom is awesome. It’s the same love of the game at DU Pioneer games without the rebellion. Michigan has claimed more NCAA hockey titles, 9, than any other team. Denver sits right behind Michigan with 7 titles. There’s nothing to do in the winter but partake in Palin winter sports. That’s why the pairing of former Michigan captain and Hobey Baker winner, Kevin Porter, makes a great addition to the young Avalanche corral. Porter has experience in the minors, not only with the Avalanche, but also with the Phoenix Coyotes. Porter has five game winning goals in seven games.

Matt Duchene has become as solid as a Crosby-esque mirage. No one is sure if he’s for real, but then the scoring says it all. Matt carried a goal and two assists when the New York Rangers graced the Pepsi Center. In other young gun news, Kevin Shattenkirk, former captain of Boston U has 5 points in 9 games. He sported two assists in Dallas. Though he looked shaky in training camp, the defenseman has taken his place in the NHL.

And then there’s David Jones, who has had great expectations met this season hitting all the fantasy columnists recommendations. Five points in the last four games suggests a talent unleashing. Last year’s frustrations reap this year’s rewards- “grab now or regret later,” the pundits preach.

Peter Budaj

Budaj fills in for Anderson

Craig Anderson is back, but Peter Budaj is staying close. The story of the back-up stint had a happy ending, with Budaj carrying a load all the way to the bank with an 8-3-1 record. Budaj stood ground in Dallas netting up a win. Best-case scenario is that the Avalanche have cemented a goaltender duo for a winning season. If you look at the standings, this week the Avs sit in the third seat in the Western Conference.

Rookie Review

Now in the twelfth week of the NHL season, it’s time to review the rookies scoring and impact on each player’s team.  The Colorado Avalanche have scored with three top rookies gearing up for their playoff run.

This season has produced some star talent for years to come.  Not only have these rookies energized the game of hockey, but also they energized the fans.  Despite some ups and downs for their respective teams, the rookie class of the 2009-10 season made signature strides of their future careers in the NHL.

John Tavares leads the pack and his team as point leader with 28 points- 16 goals, 12 assists.   His contribution to the New York Islanders is pure energy, despite their struggles on the ice.  The Islanders sit in 13th in the Eastern Conference right now; however a streak of flurry to reach the playoffs may spark the team.  Doubtful.  While Tavares brought excitement to the Island and brought media attention home, scoring slumps of the team has dragged players down.

Matt Duchene gave the Colorado Avalanche 24 points thus far with plenty more to come.  The chemistry of the Avalanche blows up all dire expectations representing the team.  But as in the West, you fight to be sheriff in town and the Avs are sitting in the top three behind Chicago and San Jose; impressive company.  This Center has made a huge impact.

Niclas Bergfors, right- wing for the scorching hot New Jersey Devils have headlined the depth of this Devils bench.  Points for Bergfors stands at 23 as of now, but his contribution to the team far surpasses his monetary value.   The Devils are contenders, and this player is rolling.

Jamie Benn total is 20 points.  And with a young and talented Dallas Stars team, Benn has played point on as left wing.  He fits right in and is reliable.

James Van Riemsdyk (LW) seems born to play as a Philadelphia Flyer.  He’s taken in most fantasy leagues for his 20 points and his can-do attitude on the ice.  Unfortunately, the Flyers are not performing to the expected standards, but James is a buzz.  Definite impact.

Michael Del Zotto was such a great pick.  The New York Rangers needed some fire up their…Not that 20 points isn’t good, but Z is good for the Rangers because he plays with heart and scores.  He’s the defenseman who is exciting on the Rangers.  Del Zotto raised a bar of energy the Rangers desperately needed.

Tyler Myers is a great pick-up if you play fantasy hockey leagues.  Myers is a workingman who has his hand in every game. He has 19 points in the year.  The Buffalo Sabres are a talented group including this defenseman.

Ryan O’Reilly(C ) was the rookie who caught everyone’s eye at the Colorado Avalanche training camp.  He leapt over other rookies who were expected to produce. Radar totaled 17 points this year and is one of the nicest players I’ve met.  He’s a good guy and the Avs like him.

T.J.Galiardi ( LW ) deserves to be seen.  Galiardi fought his way onto the team last year by creating frenzy around his play.  His contribution to the Avs is 15 points, but his hits are very helpful.  At training camp he came to play as if he was already on the roster.  The player to watch right now.

Artem Anisimov ( C) began his career last season near the end of the demise of the Rangers.  He’s’ been there, done that, so his 15 points should grow.  His youth and work ethic can get the job done.

Evander Kane ( LW)  Kane has  15 points and an impressive 29 penalty minutes.  Evander is very fitting as this rookie fights his way into the spotlight.  The Atlanta Thrashers are hovering in the middle, but a good team to watch.  So Kane has stepped up his performance because people are watching.

Not all rookies can make it into the NHL, yet alone survive when they get there.  So Victor Hedman D had a decent year with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 11 points, and a grand 38 penalty minutes.  And while he’s not on the top list, he deserves a nod on a good debut.

It was a great start to the season as the rookies foretold a new trend in the NHL. Just look at the excitement surrounding the World Junior Hockey championship coverage on the NHL station.  Fans want to know who’s the next Ovechkin or Crosby.  Younger and smarter players are getting into the game quicker and holding their own.  New equipment, techniques and the youthful eye build the smart skilled hockey player of the future.

NHL Top 3, Week 3

Week 3 of the NHL season has created a contest of the top 3 NHL draft picks for top prize. But who has actually fared the best?

John Tavares landed with the struggling New York Islanders.  While he was a top choice in the draft, many fantasy owners were wary of taking him early or at all for their roster. Tavares topped lists of “do not draft lists,” including Puck Daddy’s own pre-rank.     Hoping he would bring fans to the games, Tavares has brought an excitement with his talent and skill to the fans with 3 goals and 4 assists.  The Islanders are not faring as well as hoped, sitting next to last in the Eastern Conference and last in their Atlantic division with a 1-2-1 home record, and sad 0-2-2 in road trips.  Tavares has done all he can, but the Islanders still seem disjointed.  It’s only the beginning and I’ve seen teams come from the bottom to make it to the playoffs.  Not so sure that the turnaround can happen, but Tavares has raised a star in his positive attitude and heart to help the team rebuild.

Second pick, Victor Hedman is listed with 4 assists and 10 PIMs for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has achieved the highest regard playing with Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone and Mattias Ohlund on the top line, but not as much of a buzz coming from the gulf coast as in Denver and the Island.  Not a huge fan of the beach leagues, but am admittedly interested in watching how this plays out as the Lightning are sitting in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference.  Home games are hot with a 3-0-1 showing but a tough break on the road with 0-3-1. Hedman will have to push it harder if the Lighting can make it closer to the top of the Southeast with Washington sitting pretty on top.

Matt Duchene, who most have claimed that he was the most NHL ready of the top picks, had made his presence know in his new home in Denver, Colorado.  Expectations have been rocky mountain high, and the fans just want the Avs to win.  Sitting firmly in first in the Western Conference with a record of 7-1-2, and undefeated on home ice.  Duchene’s season has begun with a bang posting 1 goal and 5 assists. There’s cautious talk in Denver regarding the playoffs; too soon to speculate, but Duchene is a rookies that has made the impact most teams dream of.  With the mentoring I saw at training camp from veterans Brett Clark, Darcy Tucker and Wojtek Wolski, I’m not surprised that the third overall pick is excelling in the Northwest division.

Colorado Avalanche’s lousy last season has turned into a spectacular turn around and Matt Duchene has made the impact any team would like to see in their top draft pick.  Tavares has great scoring potential, and in my two fantasy leagues he has a place on both rosters, but he needs to lift his team up in the ranks.  Victor Hedman is showing a 33% ownership in fantasy league, while Duchene is only 18% owned.  Tavares wins with 85% owned in fantasy leagues.  Glad to see these top rookies have delivered on their skills and created energy in the NHL for the fans.

Glows and Blows- Week 2

Off to a crazy start, this is how the glows and blows shook out:

Glows-

Nicklas Lidstrom’s scores his 1,000th goal with a win over the Kings.

Ryan O’Reilly who was rewarded by the Avs for scoring a game winning goal; his prize- Center on the opening line against the Detroit Red Wings.  He also added two assists in that game.  Matt Duchene scored his first NHL game during the same game and hobnobbed with Gordie Howe after the game in Detroit.

Blows-

David Clarkson of the New Jersey Devils who by my prediction had his weekly fight for five.  These are good blows for those fantasy PIMs.

The Vancouver Canucks who can’t seem to make the chemistry work, including goalie Roberto Luongo who just can’t catch his breadth.

Tough Talk at Training Camp

Colorado Avalanche training camp started this week, and the players were working through last season’s poor exhibition in high-energy drills and skill.  NHL reviews for this season’s capacity of the Rocky Mountain team to perform is not on the list of high expectations.   Puck Daddy blasted the Avs for many problems, but what I saw on the ice was exciting and encouraging.

As rookie Ryan O’ Reilly shined at rookie camp, and Matt Duchene’s debut sparked energy within the fans attending the Colorado Avalanche training camp this week, the task will be to dig from the depths of a bummer season. The rumble on the rink eventually formed into a well-choreographed exhibition of speed and skills.  Rookies Ryan Stoa and Matt Duchene became the focal point, until the super stars sported gray and black jerseys for a scrimmage breaking in the rookies.

Defense for the Avs include Kyle Quincey, Jon-Michael Liles and Adam Foote. Most think the defense is in good shape.  With injuries and the lackluster play last year, one guy, Quincey needs to be the extra something needed.   He has had a lot of hype with 38 points last year.   The defense on the roster looks good, but may be deceiving.

Rookie Stefan Elliott’s accuracy must have been his key skill in the WHL.  Pick the puck, roll, shoot, bullseye!  Not likely to be part of the NHL until next season.  Bummer.

Rookies to watch include David Marshall and Brandon Yip who probably will not make it to the roster due to the overabundance of wingers such as Marek Svatos, and Milan Hejduk who must deliver on their experience and prove nay-Sayers wrong.

Tom Fritsche pulled some good moves in scoring but is a long shot for the season. Top lefty is Dan Galiardi who played toward the end of the season last year and is now on every Avs fan’s mind.  Having a laugh with his teammates after a drill, he came to play hard.  The sweet taste of the NHL is hard to resist.

Strong guy and left-winger David Koci will be the legitimate enforcer at the Pepsi Center.

Wojtek Wolski took his duties last year seriously, but fell short in his goal scoring numbers.  Training camp proved worthy of his summer break to reorganize his abilities into a leader. Puck Daddy took a dump on Wolski by comparing him to toilet paper.

The Avs are stocked down the line with abundant directors of play.  This should generate a streamlined style of play if the cohesion is right on.  Paul Stasny tops the bill, as well as top liner Wolski, returning T.J. Hensick and newbie Duchene.   Other notables were Phillipe Dupuis, who had played games with the Avalanche last season.

Former Minnesota team captain Ryan Stoa looks ready but may or may not see play on opening night.  Let’s hope so.

The Avalanche may not be the guts and glory of their former years, but then Denver isn’t regarded as the biggest hockey city either.  Rebuilding takes time and trying on players for size.  Unfortunately, some of these rookies who may not be eligible to play look like they’re getting close.  Overstocked with older players, the Avs unloaded half; the other half will be moving on in a few seasons so the newer talent can have their shot.

Training camp was serious and rightly so for a team that has fallen from grace since the team relocated here from Quebec to win the Stanley Cup in 1996.  Expectations were high.  Now with the stumbling of an older team, energy has been added by a few new rookies, free agents and roster depth down into the junior leagues.  The odds may be dictated by what veteran baggage will be brought, or shed from a heartbreaking 2008-09 season.  Regrouped and recharged will be the test for the Avalanche as the nation expects less and less each season from Denver.

This is the west, where hockey isn’t revered as competitive.  Too sunny and too laid back to really kick it on the ice; we’re the John Wayne of the NHL.  The Western Conference ends in Minnesota for the criteria of play.  Once great teams end up in the spotlight for harsh criticism.   That’s okay- John Wayne was tough and had the last word. Coolness, strategy and some firepower may just work.

Colorado’s biggest fall came from the retirement of captain Joe Sakic, who projected the nice guy image that the Avalanche emit.  Nice guys get lucky, but they also have legitimate talent that is glossed over for the dogging.  Other teams have been roughed up and dropped down in the ranks, but all have had their lucky streak alongside great skills.  A team can have both.

If the team has the cohesion they need to move into the playoffs, the bench will have to play deep. The new hockey edition of the Sporting News graced the corner of the cover with Milan Hejduk being the glue of the team.  But with a –19 rating last season he’s under fire as well; point were good with 59 but as co-captain he will want to raise the bar. Paul Stasny’s status of the other co-captain has been a hallelujah for the Mile High city.    Adam Foote’s new helm as captain creates a tougher persona and experienced swagger that could punch back at the critics.