Tag Archives: Pavel Datsyuk

Hey Hockey, What’s Up?

I’m really glad the NHL has returned. I missed the righteous slapshots of Pavel Datsyuk,the energy around Madison Square Garden on game day, the Enforcers, and my fellow fans- the best fans in sports.

Though I am wearing my Wings jersey, I really wanted to boycott the NHL and not watch a game. I don’t really care about all the past chaos, I’m just happy I can sit down and watch a game every night. All is forgiven. The lockout forced  me into a path that pays.

Blood, sweat and tears is the art of journalism. The drive is insatiable. No more up all night to hit the news wire, no more fantastic editors to work with….I’ve been so blessed, and no more play-by-play. I got a great marketing job, write for a local paper and get to interview people in sports, music and design….so, I think we’re okay.

I’ve covered the Colorado Avalanche, the Detroit Red Wings, the New York Rangers and will continue to follow. I’ve had the privilege to attend University of Denver Pioneers games, watching Matt Carle and Paul Stastny. Michigan hockey and the Detroit Red Wings have my allegiance. I can’t quit hockey.

Living on the east coast does provide the hockey fan with the best hockey coverage outside of Canada. Almost every night, I have a choice of watching a Devils, Rangers, or Islanders game. The only deprivation I face now is not getting enough Red Wings.

Fantasy hockey owners are scrambling to repair broken teams as players face injuries getting back on the ice. This is the time to watch out for the newbies on the roster. The fantasy hockey portion of my blog will be up next week.

Welcome back hockey fans!

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Hockey Holiday Highlights

Kicking off the holiday season, Chanukah starts tonight and the Christmas countdown has begun. Between your menorah lighting, your shopping panic and the family fun and frantic, the best gift to yourself is to take in some of the hockey highlights happening this week.

Hockey Santa
Tues. Dec. 20  7:00 EST
New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils– Classic Hudson Valley rivalry as the Devils are on a four-game winning streak. The Blueshirts of Broadway have held their own, but King Henry has been iffy in goal lately. New York’s pesky agitator Sean Avery and Jersey’s rock-em-sock-em David Clarkson could bump into a brawl at some point. Great rivalry for the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division.
Wed. Dec. 21 10:00 EST
Detroit Red Wings at Vancouver Canucks– Nothing is like watching the Red Wings at Xmas time. Santa suits on ice. Vancouver oozes talent with the Sedins, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. The Wings boast Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and goalie Jimmy Howard. The list goes on and even Santa can’t keep up.
Thurs. Dec. 22 9:30 EST
Minnesota Wild at Edonton Oilers-Two of the hottest teams going with young talent at helm. Watch top draft picks Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins host Dany Heatley and Kyle Brodziak. Both teams are currently on a four-game losing streak.

Thurs. Dec. 22 10EST
Anaheim Ducks visit Los Angeles Kings– With plenty of talent, the Kings need to shake off their poor start and impress their new coach. The Ducks have weapons in Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, but can they surpass the goaltending of the Kings Quick? If you’re up wrapping present, catch this SoCal battle.

Fri. Dec. 23 7EST
Philadelphia Flyers at the New York Rangers– Precursor to the Winter Classic. The teams are pumped, so this is a Friday night celebration. Flyers Jaromir Jagr, ex-Rangers captain returns to the Garden for a holiday shebang. Settle in and check your holiday lists or exchange your Chanukah gift.

Fri. Dec. 23 10:30 EST
Los Angeles Kings visit San Jose Sharks- It’s the battle of SoCal vs. NoCal. Still wrapping and up late, check out this showcase of Sharks with Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Dan Boyle as they blast their way to Hockeywood taking on Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson. Get warm and toasty and snuggle in.

No games on Christmas Eve or Christmas, but check your local listings for the week leading up to the Winter Classic on Jan. 2 when the New York Rangers travel to Philadelphia.

 

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.

NHL vs. KHL

The Detroit Red Wings lost Jiri Hudler, the New York Rangers said goodbye to Nikolai Zherdev, and rumors abound on Alex Ovechkin’s tug of war with the media on his loyalty to the NHL or the KHL. Olympic hockey teams have squared off, with top Russians player playing for the homeland the patriotic conflict has become a competitive nagging ache to the NHL.

According to an article in USA Today, “the reality is Russian players are disappearing from the NHL landscape. Only 23 Russians (and nine more from former Soviet republics) are playing full-time in the NHL today, compared with 87 total in 2000-01.” The Kontinental Hockey League in its sophomore year has enticed players to come back home. Such was the case with veteran Sergei Federov, who may have been seen as over- the-hill, despite the Washington Capitals desire to resign the three time Stanley Cup champ, who also was the first Russian player to reach 1,000 NHL points. Illya Bryzgalov has been in question whether he will stay in the league. In the same article he offers his view, “They are paying good money over there,” said the Phoenix Coyotes goaltender. “If you can earn as much as you can here, why wouldn’t you want be in your home country, with your friends and family watching?”

Will the Olympics bring tears to the eyes of the Russian players who may see another side to their homeland? Comradely could play an interesting role in next seasons NHL’s configurations. Bryzgalov is expected to start for Team Russia, along with Washington Capitals’ Simeon Varlamov, and San Jose Sharks’ Evgeny Nabokov. Other Russian starters include Detroit Red Wings’Pavel Datsyuk, Atlanta Thrasher’s Maxim Afinogenov, Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin, Capitals’ star Alex Ovechkin and former NHL star Sergei Federov.

Atlanta Thrashers’ Illya Kovalchuk has asked for more money to stay in Atlanta, but no contract extension has been signed yet. Rumors have indicated he may flee to the KHL if offered more money. If a player receives an offer from an NHL club, his KHL club has the right to offer him more (to leave the player in KHL) regardless of salary cap. The same if a KHL club wants to entice a player from the NHL – the salary of enticed player is not counted for salary cap. Interesting note, KHL’s President Alexander Medvedev visited with Kovalchuk, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently. In an article from the Toronto Star, “Hey, we can afford to pay more than the NHL right now,” a high-ranking executive with the Russian league said. “Our economy is commodities-based so we’re not going through the same problems that you have in America.”

Many players want to play in the NHL as opposed to the KHL due to rules and standards.  One blogger, KUN, from Canada on the International Hockey Forum indicated, “If the KHL copies everything exactly like the NHL, it will be nothing but a dupe or knockoff league. It won’t appeal to the larger extent of Europe possibly, a market they need. Smaller rinks will affect Russian style regional play, if the rinks become smaller, it’s a given. Do RSL supporters want that? When the WHA competed up against the NHL they had two distinctive things that made them popular. Fighting and Blood.”

A series of KHL brawls resulted in 840 penalty minutes causing the game to be called less than four minutes in when both teams ran out of eligible players. Players left the penalty box in a single-file line to join in the scrap, including former New York Ranger Jaromir Jagr, now a member of Avangard Omsk. Dropping his gloves. Jagr was good and pissed off, specifically at Darcy Verot, who started the whole mess earlier during warm-ups by shooting a puck at one of Jagr’s teammates. The players were fined as the NHL has implemented in fervor.

Check out the chaos at: KHL Brawl

I offer you an example of other rough play in Russian leagues: Russian Brawl

The NHL’s rule on head hits have been scrutinized and revamped based on crucial injuries and unsportsmanlike conduct in Bettman’s proper game. Alexander Ovechkin has been on the suspension side of rough hits because he’s a physical player. But NHL brawls have not achieved the unruly status of the KHL brawl. Hey, but then again it’s hockey. Whether in Russia, Sweden or the States, players will play for their love of the game or money. Really it’s a matter of a player’s individual preferences. The controversy of the NHL versus the KHL is good competition in a market where another hockey league can utilize more players. The NHL needs some stiff wake up calls to compete on a global scale, where hockey is celebrated as a national sport not a marketing nightmare.

Panic in Detroit?

This is the last thought that any Red Wing fan has at this time. With the Western Conference standings bouncing around, the Detroit Red Wings could climb.  Sitting in the nine spot isn’t where the Wings or anyone thought they’d be.  Amazing, yet perplexing is the continual attempt of the players to hang on to the reputation of the team.  Justin Abdelkader has that McCarty fist, Jimmy Howard has found his legs, and the stars are rising over the Detroit River, for now.

Power forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have not been on par this year.  Matter of fact, they’ve just disappointed. Both have contributed a combined 22 goals, 45 assists that should equal one average forward.   Fantasy league owners are miffed.  Formulas for improvement haven’t accrued, yet.  So how long do these two need to wait and condition to get their mojo back?   Right now, the outlook is to sneak into the playoffs and go from there.  The original first line with Lidstrom, Rafalski, and Cleary has stood up to the test just not quite getting the grades they should.

Injuries have plagued the Red Wings.  Franzen, Filppula, Holmstrom, Kronwall, and a rotating door of various key players have created buzz over the impact the AHL has and its infiltration of players that are standing out.  Justin Abdelkader has taken some limelight defending his big brother team with a decent 6 points and an impressive 31 penalty points, which adds up to a few fights along the way. Returning to the line-up is Valtteri Filppula, who was striking gold before his stint on IR.   His promise of the breakout candidate hasn’t been able to break out of the gate in the confines of 3 goals and 7 assists.

Minor league players can fly or faint.  Detroit doesn’t rush breaking in the rookies, rather growing maturity and experience. Thus is the case of Jimmy Howard.  Spending the past few seasons with the Grand Rapid Griffins, there was much hype about the Red Wing rookie.  It looked dim for Howard in the beginning, and veteran Chris Osgood performed well until the Zen knocked down Osgood’s stature.

Osgood had the same problem last year.  Last March, fans I talked to at the local bars in Detroit hid behind Osgood’s stroke of back luck and supported then goalie Ty Conklin.  Anything to win no matter who’s tending the net.  Now, over the mid-season hump, Howard has proven his ability to perform to the expectations of being a Red Wing.   Weary Howard fans sing his praise but know Osgood may be back if Howard falters.   And that’s what happened last season meandering into the playoffs; Conklin sank and Osgood swooped in to save the day.  Not performing goaltending duties since December 20th, Osgood stood in for the bombarded Howard on Long Island Tuesday.  The loss still came with a blow.

The early season prediction in the Sporting News rated the Red Wings as holding steady.  “Despite some cost-cutting, Wings still look like best in West thanks to young gun,” read the headline on the Wings page.  Young guns indeed, holding steady evolved into holding together with the glue kind of steady- sometimes it holds, other times not at all.    Just as the Avalanche forecasters said the Avs would drop, the crystal ball for Detroit is that the team will always climb.  Puck Daddy has glazed over the Wings waning season. The young guns weren’t dying out there on the ice, but keeping it respectable until the 6-0-shutout loss to the New York Islanders.  Yes, it’s an Isolated game that did not revive despite a 4-1 win over San Jose and a 2-1 victory over one bump up in the standings, Los Angeles Kings.   Stop the bleeding or get off the roller coaster.  Something’s gotta give.

In a recent article by Bruce MacLeod, a Macomb Daily Sports Writer, some hope was offered. “The Red Wings got many good signs for the future at Monday’s practice. Skating through drills were injured forward Johan Franzen and Jason Williams and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. The latter said that he might be able to return from a bone bruise in his knee (Dec. 14) as early as Thursday’s home game against Carolina.”

Franzen, “the Mule” needs to save us from our imprisonment of malaise.  Ericsson will play wandering defense just to get into the thick of the game.  The bench may be too timid to play with the big boys or they’re just not jiving.  With the Olympics around the corner, the season will roll into serious contention for playoff spots that will be torn apart and broken through to the other side.  It could get vicious.  Let’s hope so for Detroit’s sake that Johan Franzen is the savior and can revive faith in what was to be.

Is there panic in Detroit?  How about praise?  Talk last season took on teams taking a dive for the highest draft pick.  No one has suggested that of any team yet.  Not only insulting to the players and the game, hockey in Motown is taken seriously and no joking about that stuff.  If the ship were already sinking perhaps draft order would be of interest.  Haven’t arrived at that dilemma yet.  Recharged, retooled, rerouting takes the course of action to instill forging ahead not abandoning the cause.  Let your Red Wings flag fly!

Hockey for the Holidays

As you share in your festivities and blessings, think of the great hockey games you can watch with relatives this season.  Nearing mid-season, the race is heating up.  Take some time for yourself between holiday shopping and holiday parties to watch some of these great games.

In the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres battle it out on Saturday the 19th to overtake first place Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference. Can goalie Ryan Miler keep Sidney Crosby out of the net?  With the Penguins’ list of injuries, the Buffalo Sabres have the depth to take the Pens apart.  But they’ll have to get by the New Jersey Devils first.

The mall is too crowded on Sunday, and you’d rather be home for the battle of the Great Lakes with Detroit coming to Chicago.  Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews will be taking it to ailing Red Wings.  Now with Henrik Zetterberg out for two weeks, veterans Todd Bertuzzi, Brian Rafalski and Pavel Datsyuk will need to play hard against the young Hawks.  Bundle up and watch out for the wind-chill factor.

On the 21st an inter-divisional rival match-up between the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild should be interesting.  Colorado has not done as well as they’d like against the Wild, so look for the depth of Colorado’s bench to heat up the ice and plow the Wild.

If you have your shopping done, then cozy in on the 22nd when Matt Duchene, Wojtek Wolski, and Ryan O’Reilly welcome the spunky Anaheim Ducks to Colorado.

The last day of hockey before the two-day holiday break presents the best of the East and West match-up on December23rd. Buffalo Sabres stealth goaltender Ryan Miler goes up against Alex Ovechkin and the punchy party of players in Washington. Then put your game face on when the Chicago Blackhawks come to the spastic crowds in Detroit for the second meeting for the holidays.  Do you really have to go to that holiday party?]

Happy Holidays and be safe.  No slashing, boarding or roughing!