Tag Archives: Tavares

New York Skate of Mind

Finally, Rangers fans have their razzmatazz back on Broadway, or do they?  News out of training camp created an impeccable look into the metamorphosis of the New York Rangers. Despite a loss to the New Jersey Devils in preseason, the Rangers have an incredible group of players who will overcome any obstacle, particularly if coach Torts has anything to say about it. So why are they sitting last in the division?

Considered by The Hockey News for the Jack Adams award for best coach, John Tortorella won with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, and he will win again. With the cast of talent in New York, the playoff run will surpass the past few season. Filling in the gaps will bring the Rangers the stature the team, Torts and the fans expect from an Original Six team. Fan-fave Sean Avery was given the boot and possibly took the energy with him. While Torts and Avery clashed, the talent on the team now did surpass Avery’s abilities over the long haul.

The New York Rangers paid a pretty penny to secure dominance in the New York market with the addition of Brad Richards. Richards is excited to be playing in New York, but has he been distracted by the huge crowds eyeing his every move? Are the Rangers able to deliver on their preseason prowess or will they find Richards a bust in the Big Apple? Too soon to tell Rangers fans. Let Ryan Callahan lend his captaincy to the cause. The Rangers looked good and they have the tools to do it, eventually.

How about those Buffalo Sabres? Great team concept with Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, Christian Ehrhoff, Tyler Myers, Robyn Regehr and the entire cast of the Sabres who could become the New York team fans are cheering about on Broadway. Ryan Miller’s blueliners are showing more cohesion and so it was planned to stop that gap effectively showcasing Miller’s abilities. Be true Buffalo fans and allow those bandwagon fans to cheer because when was the last time that happened?

Tavares has brought the New York Islanders the franchise player the Island wanted. Not quite the fisherman of yore, but steering the boat nicely. The return of Evgeni Nabokov looks like a nice fit by the confidence in goal against the Rangers over the weekend. With Ricky D out again, anything can happen in net.

Fisherman logo

Islanders Vintage Logo

The New Jersey Devils are close behind with their confidence in their new coach and new system in play. The nagging issue remains in net with Martin Brodeur an iffy healthy mainstay. Johan Hedberg is no slouch. Hedberg served with the Penguins and is familiar with the demands in this division. Look for the Devils to add players as needed- recent rumor for Kyle Turris.

The Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins make this division an enticing race. With Jagr’s return and Sidney Crosby slated to return soon, the Pennsylvania teams will lace up and tighten the race for New York’s teams.

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.

Hat-tricks and Hits

The NHL and the NFL have come to a head, literally, with both looking at serious consequences for head hits in the game. The NHL has even gone beyond hits on the ice- they’ve gone to the fans. Suspensions came for taking aim at the fans taunting players, such as Rick Rypien who was suspended 6 games for grabbing a Minnesota Wild fan. Rypien was already in a bad mood losing to the Wild and double points for roughing plus a misconduct call. Though he didn’t apologize, Bettman did.

Daniel Alfredsson, Rene Bourque and Steven Stamkos scored hat-tricks early in the week. Alfredsson scored three times in a duel with Buffalo, and the first to score over 1K with a hat-trick. Good news for Ottawa. Up in Calgary, Bourque bounced three in the net rolling into Columbus. Stamkos scored three as a souvenir in Atlanta. Then Alex Semin strolled right in with a hat-trick of his own when the Caps met rival Atlanta over the weekend. The Islanders Tavares picked up a trio despite losing to the Panthers. But don’t forget Brad Richardson‘s triple threat over the Avs at the Pepsi Center.

In the East, The New York Rangers fought hard Saturday in Boston. Sean Avery powered a misconduct call with an instigator and fighting cherry on top. In the first period alone, 30 PIMs for fighting hit the stats. The Rangers are climbing.

The Buffalo Sabres slump is barely in its third week, but feels like a lifetime. Could the high expectations of Myers and Miller be setting the Sabres up for failure? Give it time for this all to work- because it will. Saturday saw a spark with a win by Miller and a goal by Myers.

New Jersey is fighting back, at least David Clarkson that is. Clarkson, who is guaranteed a fight a week met his quota this week with Travis Moen in Montreal. Last week he took on two fights when Washington got on his nerves taking it out on Jason Chimera and Matt Bradley. Another good slugger, Dan Carcillo, finally used the gloves and got his five for fighting in Toronto.

Way out West, cheerleaders will come to Canada, Edmonton sets the trend for some reason. Sad or sexy, obviously Taylor Hall isn’t performing the way they expedcted. So, maybe some T&A will help.

Franzen returned with a bang. Red Wings fans are happy. Detroit has its secret weapon back. The Wings are sitting in the standing nicely right now and should stay with strong play by the Mule. Zetterberg amd Holmstrom are hitting their stride to put the Wings back in a confortable place in the race. After the win at home against Anaheim, third straight win, the Wings goalie Howard continues to perform like a top netminder.

Colorado continues to have fun and maintain some wins, but hovering mid to low pack in the West. Don’t have too much fun if the job doesn’t get done. Even Liles has figured out that he’s a defenseman, so he posted five for fighting with Justin Williams. The Kings are just in front of the Avs, but look out St. Louis Blues hanging with these two talented young teams.

San Jose Sharks scrapper Ryan Clowe has risen from the dead and slugged for five. When Calgary came to town, it put the Sharks on edge, especially when the Flames went up 4-zip in the first.

So the story goes. Jumping into the third week will be an interesting jumbling of predictions that have been set aside for new ones. Don’t be surprised if your team slumps now and again as they all do. It’s a long season- hunker down with your remote and plenty of whatever keeps you going. Load up on candy too for Halloween.

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.

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.

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.