Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fishing On The Island

Well it is indeed time.....for the Islanders to get their comeuppance. They have had a hard time this year no doubt about it. However, with Ted Nolan in command, this team does not quit ever. At 18-15-2, they are treading water in the tough Eastern Conference race. Goal scoring has always kind of been an issue but it has been even more this year so far. The Isles are pressing at times and sometimes even when the goals come...the defense forgets the memo.

Well the MVP of this team IS Rick Dipietro. No doubt they rise and fall on his shoulders. He has 16 wins...a 2.47 GAA and a .910 save percentage. His puck handling skills bail out what many consider to be an average to below average defense. With all those years to go on that 15 year contract, he needs to stay healthy as their backup Wade Dublewicz is well just a 5-10 start guy right now it appears. For the most part, DiPietro has kept his team in the games most nights. Also, he has a winning record against the Devils and Rangers...pretty important things considering all the divisional play so far.

The Isles have cooled off some since their quick 9-4 has their offense led by Mike Comrie. Comrie had 12 points in 7 games...but only has 16 since. Yet he still owns the lead with 11 goals. Bill Guerin had a hat trick but then went on a 13 game pointless streak before connecting a few times recently. Ruslan Fedotenko leads the team with 4 PPG's along with Miro Satan, but his play really hasn't been that great according to Nolan. In fact, Nolan has felt his entire team has underachieved. Though I tend to disagree...I do think the Isles play their hearts out but they have been heavily hamstrung by their owner and his business-like approach.

The inability to sign a quality premier forward has hurt this team and although Comrie and Vasicek have been nice clearly hasn't been enough. The defense is not doing the greatest right now. It also hurts when your leading scorer is a -10. Chris Campoli has 16 points which is decent, but guys like Bergeron
and Berard should be producing as well. Both aren't. So that makes their defensive shortcomings that much more magnified? Bruno Gervais has probably been the most solid Isles D-man and he is only a +3 but has 9 assists. This team has to get more production from their defense. If they don' is going to be a very long season for Rick DiPietro.

DiPietro really has no margin for error at all. It almost seems if they don't get spectacular goaltending from DiPietro....they lose. Yet, they aren't too far off from the 8th spot...and hell they are only 7 points out of first in the division. So they are indeed still in it.....all it takes is a little scoring punch and another streak. Maybe GM Garth Snow can swing a move. One way or the other it hasn't been all bad for the Isles but they will need something more to contend in the tough Atlantic division and furthermore...the Eastern Conference.

So if you are a diehard Isles fan...let it be known what you think right here at our very own Islander Roll Call.

~ stevens8204

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Stop It And They Will Win

I wish I could sit here and tell you that the fact the Vancouver went 8-2-2 in November was because the team was a well balanced, efficient, playoff ready hockey team. But I can't. The Canucks went 5-7-0 in October for the exact same reason they are now winning.

Roberto Luongo.

When Luongo stops pucks the Canucks win, when he is average they lose. It doesn't get anymore complicated then that. Don't believe me? Well name me one other goalie, that in his last 12 games, has a GAA of 1.56 and a SV% of 0.940? There is none. There is only one goalie in the NHL today that can put up those numbers and he plays for the Canucks. Not to mention the 210 minutes and 24 seconds of shutout hockey Luongo played this month as well. As one writer this week already said, "With the way Roberto Luongo has been playing of late, it's little wonder that scoring is down again in the NHL."

Of course there has to be a token amount of offense from somewhere to still win a hockey game, and the Sedin twins and Markus Naslund are providing that on a consistent basis for the team. Frankly they are one of the most fun lines to watch in the NHL on most nights. The concern for the Canucks, in my mind, is the future. Like most Canadian teams, they haven't attracted big name Free Agents and I can't remember the last time I read about the team drafting a stud offensive player. The future of Naslund and Morrison with the hockey team is clouded at best and I don't think Peter Forsberg is the answer. Can the Canucks offense move backwards from here? If it does, I guess the real question is can Luongo be better?

Then again, this is just a damned opinion.



If you happen to be a fan of the Vancouver Canucks, drop in and give us your two cents.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Walking Through A Hurricane

How appropriate! The winds are howling up here well past tropical storm force. It kind of feels like a hurricane out there at times. So what better time to do a report on the Hurricanes...than NOW! The Canes are standing at 14-9-3....they did beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 last night behind 31 saves from Cam Ward. What can be said is the Canes are much improved from last year...though they have been .500 since their hot start. So what has gone right and what has gone wrong? Well away we go!!

The offensive MVP'S have to be Rod Brindamour and Cory Stillman. Both have 13 goals and 18 assists for a total of 31 points. Both have multiple game winning goals and Stillman's four leads the team. To think Stillman was kind of tossed out like yesterday's trash by the Lightning. He has probably been the Canes' best player so far. Even Eric Staal has contributed with 14 goals...and though he is not quite at a point per game, he is close enough leading many to think that last year's Sophomore slump is over. I think his stats will heat up as the season does. Hell Ray Whitney has 26 points in 26 is like the ageless wonders of this team are keeping it upright offensively....quite amazing.

Defensively....this group is fairly steady. However, they do not produce much in the way of points. Bret Hedican leads the corps with just 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists). The unit itself hasn't even produced 1 single power play goal. The physicality really isn't where it needs to be at times either with this group...but they do play hard. Their cohesiveness helps them overcome their lack of physical play which is very apparent against bigger teams. Commodore and Gleason are close to physical presences but Commodore has been injured of late and Gleason well doesn't always play enough to make an impact. GM Jim Rutherford may have to go the trade route to get an enforcer and an offensive defenseman perhaps or something in the middle because the D as it stands now is not good enough.

Goaltending didn't seem like much of an issue early on....but kind of has become one. I mean, Cam Ward, could not keep up that hot start...but he slumped for a good bit since. The first 10 games...Ward had a GAA of 1.93...the last ten Ward has been well over a GAA of 3. That has dropped his save percentage down to .909. Just to think, Ward basically has little protection in front of the net and most of his forwards are he needs to be on top of his game every night. There is little margin for error. His backup, John Grahame tries hard but face it, is no Ward and it shows. His 3.17 GAA is a testament to that..and his .891 save percentage prove why he is not a very capable 2nd netminder but he is serviceable at least. So until something develops in the Carolina system...this is what Rutherford has chosen to ride...not too bad really.

So what do the Canes really need? They do need some younger offensive depth. Will the older forwards be able to keep up like this? Sure but for how long? Ward with his lighter weight can keep the Canes in it for much longer now. His style is similar to Martin Brodeur's but his consistency is just starting to show slowly. The Canes can do well with a stud like this in net...but they turned back the clock to the run of 2006. Sometimes turning back the clock can be bad but so far it has been pretty good. This team knows work needs to be done and they need to play better and I think they me they look like the Southeast Division
champions this season.

Now what do you think....make your voices and opinions known if your a fan of Carolina or just a fan of the NHL right at The NHL Arena.

~ stevens8204

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Inside The Sabres

After a shorter-than-hoped-for walk down Stanley Cup Lane in the 2006-2007 season, The Buffalo Sabres had to endure an even worse experience. During the first few hours of the free agent frenzy, the team suffered through losing Chris Drury to the New York Rangers and Daniel Briere to the Philadelphia Flyers. Also, Dainius Zubrus went to the New Jersey Devils a few days later. A team that had visions of Stanley Cups dancing in their heads was suddenly a shell of itself.

One thing the Sabres still have going for them is the young and very good goaltender, Ryan Miller. Miller wanted to take over as the dressing room leader of the Buffalo Sabres. Though he’s still young at 27, he’s an established veteran. His teammates look to him for guidance on the ice and off it.

“I’m trying to focus more on my game,” Miller said. “Early in the season, I was probably too worried about what everybody else was trying to do, trying to be bigger than my role. I was trying to do too many things at once. I can’t be a captain-type leader and talk to guys at all times. I have to go out and just do my job.”

Helping Miller between the pipes is the "old man" Jocelyn Thibault, picked up during free agency. Only 32 years old, Thibault started playing at 18 with the Quebec Nordiques, and the 13-season veteran has years of experience. As the backup to Ryan Miller, Thibault doesn't see a lot of action, but together they average a 2.61 GAA and a .900 save percentage. Those are pretty good numbers that should keep the Sabres solid in net.

But, after twenty-one games, Buffalo is 10-10-1, ranked 13th in the conference and are fourth in their division behind the surging Bruins of Boston, Montreal, and last year’s Stanley Cup finalist, the Ottawa Senators. The Sabres average 2.90 goals per game while giving up 2.76 goals. They have a 20.2% rating on the power play, ranking them 10th, and they are in the seventh position with an 85% success rate on the penalty kill. All average numbers, and hence the .500 record.

Many players on this team are above average players and just may need some more time to gel. Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek, Jason Pominville, Brian Campbell, and Tim Connolly lead the team in point production with modest totals ranging from 17 to 14 points. Pominville may be the Sabres most versatile forward and his abilities are allowing the team flexibility when it comes to its power play combinations. Recently, he moved from his position near the net to the blueline. He's made the switch before and is comfortable with the situation. But more importantly, the team is comfortable putting five forwards on the ice with an opposing player in the penalty box because of Pominville's defensive skills. He's the team's quarterback on a unit that features Maxim Afinogenov, Ales Kotalik, Roy and Vanek and he is the squad’s last line of defense against an odd-man rush.

Something else “odd” about the Sabres is their rotating captaincy. Jochen Hecht was captain for a while and now Toni Lydman is the man wearing the “C”. This creates a lot of leaders and some different competition in the locker room. Each player, it seems, will have an opportunity to be captain based on leadership and play.

The Buffalo Sabres are in a tough division, but with continued growth and leadership, more wins will come. It’s a shame they lost so much during free agency, but seem ready to start again and are headed in the right direction. With a strong core of players, it won’t be long until we here about them fighting for the Cup once again.

So, herd up your friends and draw your weapons! Support your team with a rousing War Room Roll call!

~ ogre1kanobe

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Saturday Night Special: Let's Get Wild!

Saturday Night Live was made famous by two wild and crazy guys. Well the Minnesota Wild just drive the state of hockey wild. The team started out 7-3-2...full of promise and looking good but injuries to Niklas Backstrom...and the personal absence/retirement of Wes Walz has seemingly put the brakes on the Wild season. The Wild stand now at 11-9-2...still only a point out of first place in the wacky Northwest Division. Now Backstrom was a main reason for the early success playing incredibly the first two weeks of the season....posting both of his shutouts in that time. Then the injury bug hit....and there wasn't as much rejoicing.

First Backstrom went down....then Gaborik and now Demitra....the Slovakia glass groin syndrome has taken full effect. This undoubtedly has hurt the Wild offense.

They have to rely more on the goaltending and lately even that has taken a hit. In a 3-2 loss to Calgary, Backstrom had to give up one of the most ugly goals I have ever seen....which lead to the Flames win. In yesterday's game, Backstrom had two goals he would most certainly like to have back and a defensive turnover so bad I could have thrown a clock through the television. Who does that in front of their goalie? Don't answer that Devils fans! The Wild had an awesome goal differential of +16 after 12 games....but now has slipped all the way back to a -1.

Now Gaborik and Parrish share the team lead in goals with 7 and Pierre Marc-Bouchard leads the team with assists with 14. A defensive player that has been playing pretty well is Brent Burns...his last two games have been not so great but his 11 points and a +4 are pretty solid for a player with such high expectations placed on him by management, teammates, and even himself. This is a little excerpt from Doug Risebrough's Managing Expectations....very interesting indeed. Burns recently was awarded a four year extension for his hard work...and players can go two ways.....

A couple players in the last couple years have discussed, in telling ways, the pressure of a long-term, high-paying deal. I won't name the players. But here is what they said.

Player A: "For the first time in my career, I came to the rink as an underachiever. It really ate me up."

Player B: "I got an opportunity early in my career to fly under the radar and live with my and my teammates' expectations. It's something I'm getting used to. It's more responsibility."

This really makes you think. Burns is going to be the anchor of this defense. Sean Hill is a nice veteran presence and a good mentor to have but the Wild's fortunes on the backend ride on the youngster. The defense and goaltending are a staple of any Jacques Lemaire coached team. It doesn't hurt that the forwards, as a group, are one of the best backchecking groups in the league. The Wild have strayed away a bit from that...and their 4-6 record in the last ten games indicates it more than the injuries. Injuries are just an excuse and the Wild have to fight through it. Also, Backstrom has to right the ship a bit on his own end.

It will take a team effort from the coach down to the players to get the Wild back on board but if any team can pull back the reins and rise back up the standings in the Western is the Wild. They have the system in place....they just have to execute it. Do you believe the Wild will bounce back? Voice your opinion and GO WILD!

~ stevens8204

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Motor City Set On Cruise Control

Realistically, reviewing the Detroit Red Wings during the past 5-10years could be simple. You write a riveting piece about theirdomination of the Western Conference, and proclaim their ability tocontrol the game with their stymy defense, and then republish the samearticle year after year.

They have become one of the most consistent teams of the 21st century,and have been an utter surprise post lockout considering the dumpingof so much salary. They now boast one of the best and mostcomfortable teams, with plenty of cap room to spare. They have savvyveterans like Niklas Lidstrom and Chris Chelios to lead theirdefensive core, and one of the most prolific and obscure goaltendersof all time in Dominic Hasek, although he has struggled early tomaintain the necessary health to be a starting goalie.

No matter, as Chris Osgood has once again proved to the Wingsorganization to be a quality backup for as long as they need him, andwith the kind of defense the Red Wings play, he should really onlyhave to prepare himself for around 20 shots a game. Pending thehealth of Hasek, the Wings can segue into young prospect Howard to betheir next star in the crease. Another fantastic pick by the Detroitscouting, Howard will likely be the go to guy within three years.

Up front, the top three (Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Holmstrom) have comeout of the gate firing. Gaining the reputation of one of the NHLsmost potent offensive lines, they are probably only out classed byOttawa's ASH line. Zetterberg is well on his way to setting careerbests in basically all categories, and his offensive prowess has beenan incredible asset to the Wings, who have been outscoring andoutplaying every team thus far.

In terms of additional help, it was suggested that Detroit was seekingthe services of Peter Forsberg, pending he is capable of returningfrom a potential career ending surgery on his ankle. After quitting apractice with the Swedish National team, Forsberg has suggested thatthis latest embarrassment could in fact end his career pending adoctor's review, and this could change the plans in the Detroit frontoffice. There is no question a healthy Forsberg would produce an evenstronger offense, but with guys like Chelios, Hasek, and Lidstrom, whoare all playing close to or well over their career expectancies,Forsberg would only add to the fragile nature of the team.

The bottom line here is that Detroit doesn't need help with veterans.They boast one of the most knowledgeable defenses in the league, witha strong core of offensive threats. What they need to do is continueto build for the future of the franchise after the older playersretire or move on.

~ srotaneS


If you happen to follow the Detroit Red Wings, be sure to announce yourself in our Red Wing Roll Call.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Canadiens Roll Call

One, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 16, 18, 19, and 29.

Those numbers are very familiar to any Montreal Canadiens' fan. They all hang from the rafters at the Bell Centre where they play their home games. The Canadiens have a long and wonderful past to look back on. The names of great players, coaches and general managers are far too long to mention. It is this history that changes a player when they put on the sweater with those famous colors on it.

That is why when the 2006-2007 season ended and this team didn’t make the playoffs, it was like the world came to an end. Finishing seventh the previous year, hopes were for a longer playoff run, but the team finished tenth and sat at home watching instead of skating. Some players had off seasons as well. After scoring only 18 goals all season last year, the AK-27, Alex Kovalev, is back on track eager to forget last year.

With 10 goals already through 19 games this season, Kovalev has reached the mark faster than any Canadiens player in over a decade. Not since Martin Rucinsky scored his 10th goal in game No. 20 back in 1996-97, has a Habs player scored so many so fast. The Russian winger will crack the 40-goal mark for the second time in his 16-year NHL career, if he were to continue at this pace. The last time he did was in 2000-01 with the Penguins when he exploded for 44 goals on his way to his first All-Star Game appearance. He is sixth in the league with 6 power play goals on a team that is ranked number one with 30% power play efficiency. He, Saku Koivu, and Andrei Markov all have 17 points in this early season.

The team is also fourth in goals scored per game with 3.16 Goals/Game and only a small handful have a plus/minus ratings in the red zone. But it is not all about offense in Montreal. They rank ninth in goals allowed per game with a stingy 2.53 goals. This, in part, is due to their goaltending tandem of Cristobal Huet and rookie sensation Carey Price. Huet has a 6-4-2 record with a 2.23 GAA and a Sv% of .925, while his younger counterpart enjoys a 5-1-1 record with a 2.66 GAA and a .0914 Sv%. Price is making the departure of David Aebischer a faint memory.

The Canadiens lost a few big names over the summer, Sheldon Souray, Radek Bonk, and Janne Niinimaa to name a few. But they also picked up some with marquee talent; Roman Hamrlik, Bryan Smolinski and Patrice Brisebois for coach Guy Carbonneau to insert into his lineups. Carbonneau took over the coaching reins on May 5, 2006 after having played 13 seasons with the Canadiens, including five as the team’s captain, and was the winner of the Frank Selke Trophy three times.

Carbonneau’s second season behind the bench figures to be a much better one than his first. You see he’s one of those great Montreal Canadiens players of the past. And he won’t let this team fail.

So, stand up and help Guy Carbonneau push this team to the playoffs and beyond. Be a proud member of the team and shout your support in the Montreal Canadiens' Roll Call!!

~ ogre1kanobe

Monday, November 19, 2007

Colorado; The Rocky Road

I think it's safe to say that the one team most people expected a vast improvement from this season, would have to be the Colorado Avalanche. With their incredible playoff push late last season, which inevitably fell short, only the New York Rangers managed to put up a better 2nd half.

In the offseason, Colorado GM Francois Giguere managed to add two more pieces to his quickly rebuilding project in the likes of free agents Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan. Further allowing his fans to come into the 07-08 season with much to anticipate. And now that we've nearly reached the quarter pole of the season, we can take a deeper look into the Avs now vs. then.

Today the Avalanche sit in 2nd spot in the Northwest Division, just 1 point behind the Wild. Although with 1 game in hand. Their 23 points in 19 games also puts them tied for 4th in their Conference. And again, with games in hand. An obvious improvement you say? But of course, "obvious" is not what I've come here to talk about.

Right now, the Avalanche are on pace for a 99 point season. A mere 2 wins better than the season that saw them on the outside looking in, on a very rare occasion. 2 more wins would have made all the difference in the world, allowing them to surpass the 8th seeded Flames. But it still wouldn't have been enough to earn home ice advantage no matter who they faced or how many rounds they survived.

Why do I bring up home ice advantage, you ask? Well for one, the Calgary Flames who barely backed their way into a playoff round, knew full well about home versus the road. They were known as the Jeckyll and Hyde. A term that has now made it's way to the Rockies. Let's try and put this into better perspective...

Had the Colorado Avalanche played just .500 on the road this season, their current overall record would be 13 - 5 - 1. Good enough for 27 points, second only to the Detroit Red Wings. And yes, you guessed it... with a game in hand. Prorating that into an 82 game season, the Avs would end up with 116 points. A feat nobody in the league could accomplish last season, earning them the hypothetical Presidents Trophy.

And before someone suggests that I am putting forth a 'perfect scenario' here, please keep in mind that I said merely a .500 record on the road. Hardly an earth shaking expectancy.

So in retrospect, yes the Avs are moderately improved as a team, which was to be expected. But they are far from the team they should be, right now.

~ LeaferSutherland


I invite all Avalanche fans to drop by and put your own two cents worth on your team.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Strange Brew In Beantown

The Bruins were a team many had picked near or at the bottom in most hockey circles. I had remembered The Hockey News actually picking them 29th or 30th. Well thanks to some stingy goaltending and semi reliable scoring....they are actually 9-6-2 with a little over 20% of the hockey season complete. Boston was thought to be a walkover for most of the Northeast Division but they are finding out very quickly that this team indeed has some talent. They always have really but the question has been and always will long can they keep it together?

The season started off with a five game West Coast Trip...which the first game was a 4-1 disaster where nothing went right and it looked like Dallas was on a roll (funny how things change, right?). The B's then managed to come back and defeat Phoenix 3-1 the next night before losing 2-1 a few nights later to the defending champion Ducks. In what has become a bit of a curious pattern so far...the Bruins occasionally put up a crooked number after weeks of scoring so little. That was quite evident in their 8-6 survival of LA. Manny Fernandez was in net for this one too and eventually would go down with a knee injury...he still hasn't really since much if any ice time since. Phil Kessel's hat trick carried the way as the B's won again 2-1 against the Sharks completing the road trip at 3-2...not too shabby.

After wins against Tampa and the Rangers (Boston's lone shutout came via the shootout)....faceoffs or the lack of winning them came to a head again in an ugly 6-1 loss that many thought may spell doom for the Bruins. It definitely looked bad that 4 of the 6 goals given up came directly off defensive zone faceoffs....something that would make any coach unhappy, particularly Dave Lewis. Yet the turning point would come in a Saturday afternoon tilt against the Philly Flyers. In a 2-1 loss, Patrice Bergeron was going for a puck in his zone and Randy Jones came from behind and checked him into the boards. Bergeron was motionless on the ice for minutes as the crowd gasped in horror. Jones would later receive a 2 game suspension and Bergeron may not play again this season after suffering some fractures and a Grade 3 concussion. It seemed to give them a jump as they defeated Buffalo 4-3..but then the low scoring blues set in again.

For the next 2 seemed Boston could find the net but not be able to put enough behind the goalie and into said net. Scoring 7 goals in a 5 game span is not going to get you many wins (1-2-2 in that span). This led to many questions if the Bruins were going to trade Glen Murray among others who had not really produced and so far the answer is a resounding no. I am sure that may change but right now it seems the Bruins are sailing the ship with what they got. Sure enough when Toronto came to town last night....the B's put another crooked number on the scoreboard.....winning 5-2 to raise their record to the current 9-6-2. Tim Thomas made 34 saves and Peter Schaefer had 2 goals and 1 assist (both goals coming in the third). The four days off and watching tons of video on Toronto proved to be the difference. Players knew where to be....everything clicked at least for one night.

Team MVP: Tim Thomas. No doubt many thought Fernandez would be the starter but Thomas just finds a way to well worm himself into the picture. In 13 games, he has produced a 1.68 GAA...a stellar .950 save percentage and more importantly 7 wins. He has kept the team in games most nights they should have no business being in. He is the reason Boston is above .500 but his durability may also become a concern later. Right now Boston is just trying to find ways to win score just enough. Oddly enough, the goaltending and defense are there for the most part but the offense isn't....something you wouldn't normally associate with the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins are a team in flux right now....they spent their money and now they are stuck with it. The cap issues have hurt this team as far as being able to go out and get some scoring depth. Also, there aren't many takers for an aging scorer like Glen Murray who hasn't been the same since Joe Thornton was traded.....ahhh that T word. The Bruins as a franchise have been definitely hampered since that trade. Goaltending prospects haven't quite worked agents haven't either and not being able to string some games together with some decent goal scoring output may come back to haunt this team later in the season but right now they are making due with what they got...and so far that is good enough.

So do you think Boston is just a mediocre team or are they a couple players away from making the playoffs and maybe winning a round...give us your thoughts and don't mince them...right on The NHL Arena.

~ stevens8204

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Blue Streak

Blue Streak can mean one of two things when one talks about the St. Louis Blues these days. It could reference the streaky play of the team itself or quite literally mean the "Blue Streak" coming out of Blue fans on some of the nights to come.

The Blues stormed out to a 4-1 record to start the season back in October and if I remember right they outscored their opponents very handily in doing so. Since that fast start the Blues have gone on to lose 6 of their last 9 and have had issues scoring during that time. The two wily vets leading the charge for the team are long time incumbent Keith Tkachuk and the new UFA from the off season Paul Karyia. They each have 15 and 16 points respectively, those stats lead the team in offense. The picture isn't all bleak by no means for the St. Louis Blues. Many Legace has been solid in net, posting a record of 7-5 with a SV% over .910% and GAA of 2.33. Maybe the most positive thing about the Blues is that they are young. Real young. With an average age of 27 they are only going to get better. 25 year old Brad Boyes is third in team scoring and first in team goals with 9. Lee Stempniak, age 24, is coming off a 27 goal, 52 point, season from last year and has a tone of upside and a bright future. The blue-chip stud on the blueline is Eric Johnson and he is a plus player in his first year so far in the NHL at age 19.

The short and the skinny is that the Blues have 8 wins and 7 loses so far in this NHL season based on little production from their youth movement. Their future is their kids and when the kids start to carry their weight the Blues will start winning hockey games and it should be real fun to watch.

Then again, this is just a damned opinion.

~ damned


If you happen to be a fan of the St Louis Blues, we want to hear it!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Accepting The Capitals

If it were not for one of the most prolific scorers of this era of the NHL, the Washington Capitals could easily slip through the cracks into the basement without so much as a sniff from the average fan. Having
been there for multiple years, the Capitals are starting to become a household name when it comes to teams you play your backup against.

After repeated years of poor play, the Capitals started this year with the beat of a different drum. 3-0-0 after their first three games, and beating teams like Carolina, Atlanta, and the Islanders, things were looking up in the United States Capital, but that would be rather short lived.

After finishing October with a record of 5-6, they proceeded to lose five of their next six games, tying them with Buffalo and Edmonton for the worst record in hockey. The basement never looked so bad for a team with an all-star talent like Ovechkin.

They are effectively porous at home and away, with very similar records, and considering that, it shows that the problem is not in the players heads. Probably the most disturbing statistic would be the 91
shots number 8 has taken on net, which has a 36 shot gap between him and second place. If Washington wants to be effective with the puck, they are going to have to rely less on their star player, and more on
their secondary scoring.

While Kolzig has had streaks of brilliance throughout the initial stages of the year, they will need to find a solution in goal if they want to compete for a stop in the top 8. With eight more goals against
than goals for, the Caps are going to need to make some serious adjustments to one of the aspects of their game so it can make up for their holes elsewhere.

So where should the Caps turn for support? Alexander Semin has been out for most of the season because of injury, and Kolzig is performing, but not to the standards of the new NHL. Should they start considering a player move, or should they look to the coach and GM for answers? I think it is a tough call because Washington did
such a huge overhaul with their roster during the last couple years. Last year I considered it a lack of respect and teamwork, but maybe it is time to start considering it a growth issue. Washington did in
fact put money into the system this year, and the results have been rather pedantic to say the least.

One thing is for sure. Washington is not getting the help they need to compete with the rest of the league. Whether it is a financial issue, or simply a player production issue, the Capitals need a serious
change in their system to have any hopes of making the playoffs this year. If I was the one running the show in Washington, I would be sitting down with Hanlon and letting him know that his days are
numbered if the basement is where he is directing this team. I would tell him to take the players off their pedestal and go right back to the basics until they can work as a unit. Develop the defensive game
with the forwards, and continue to rely on guys like Ovechkin to score the individual goals.

Are you willing to accept the Capitals for who they have become, or are you ready to fight for a chance to watch them play for the cup? The NHL Arena wants to hear what you think.

~ srotaneS

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Oilers In Depth

The Edmonton Oilers’ General Manager Kevin Lowe has his team in position for a playoff run. Maybe not this year but in the years to come. After making a “statement” offer to Dustin Penner of the Ducks and signing Dick Tarnstrom during free agent time, it seems obvious that he realizes this may not be the year for his team. Sitting Tarnstrom in favor of youngsters Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov, may make him trade bait when defencemen Sheldon Souray and Joni Pitkanen return from injury.

Injuries surely haven’t helped the Oilers this season. Currently the are last in many categories in the Western Conference. They are last in goals scored, goals allowed and power play goals which leaves them last in their division and in the conference. Only three players on the team have a plus/minus rating of zero or higher. In addition, the goalie tandem of Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson have decent numbers, both having about a three goal allowed per game average and save percentages hovering around the .900 mark, but have only 7 wins between them.

And yet all the news is not bad for this team. Along with the youngsters Gilbert and Grebeshkov, the rookie line of Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Kyle Brodziak have looked good early on. There is also the play of Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff that give optimism for any Edmonton fan. Horcoff leads the team in goals, points, assists and power play goals.

Optimism may not be only thing going for this Oilers club. Remember, they were in the Stanley Cup Finals in the 2005-06 season, and having a rich history, with GM Lowe and coach Craig MacTavish, this team may go far in the very near future. As Jarret Stoll said after a loss to a very good Colorado Avalanche team, "We came out and showed that we cared, showed that we have respect for the organization." he said. "We weren't happy with our last outing. We played really hard and battled in every area."

It won’t be long before they are battling in the playoffs again. So, stop in the Edmonton Oilers forum and sign you name to the roll call and state your faith in a great hockey organization and a team for the future.

~ ogre1kanobe


If you happen to be a fan of the Edmonton Oilers, we want to hear it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Shame In Nashville

I can't help but feel for the fans in Music City. Even if there aren't enough of them to fill an arena. The franchise, which was born in 1998, deserves so much better one decade later.

What started off with a lucrative deal with the city shelling out over 25 million put forth to pay for it's entry fee into the league, while taking a hit on the operating costs for the arena, it's rather ironic that this team's failings have occurred in the business sector rather than a lack of fan base in these uncharted waters. That said, the Nashville faithful have been a far cry from the Pittsburgh natives that felt their pain not so long ago.

It's a shame to see a franchise barely stay afloat amidst talks of a deal that just doesn't seem to get done. In a city that knows how to entertain like no one else. And with a team that patiently built itself of draft picks and the astute signings and trades from Poile, not to mention the tutelage of head coach Barry Trotz.

Currently hovering around a .500 season with a new Captain named despite never holding that title in all of junior, a backup thrown to the wolves, and possibly the two greatest remaining scraps on the IR, which may or may not be having more affect on the team than the many high caliber players it chose to auction off in the summer. How does the Nashville fan get through the day? Knowing full well that it is not he or she that is the root of the problem, no matter how many of us in the north would pass it off as being that.

In a perfect world, the Nashville Predators would have won the Stanley Cup a year ago. For those in California could have survived on the glitz and glam that continues to bring big named talent to their western shores. But instead we watched, as Paul Kariya who came to this team when no one else of his caliber would, turned and went again, off on his way.

You might still have a team today Nashville. Perhaps even for 3 more guaranteed years if they ever get that straightened away. But what good is a team if it cannot compete?

I say stand up to the commercial side of your hometown. And don't be pressured to pick up those tickets to prolong the lease on your Arena. Instead, stand in your storefronts and demand that you have your team of promise given back to you. Let it be known that the only hardware stores you will be willing to do business with, are the ones buying boxes at the Sommet Center. The only cars that you will buy will be ones that are the official sponsors of your Preds. The only insurance companies will be those assuring you that your team will not only survive be be restored.

Do you love your hockey? Are you satisfied with just a win for every loss? Will you just sit back and allow them to rip your team to shreds?

Go ahead. Click the following link and tell me that your just some dumb Southerner that just doesn't give a rats ass about the game of hockey...

I dare you!

~ LeaferSutherland

Saturday, November 10, 2007

500 And More?

Good morning from the High Desert! is still morning here. That being said it is time to enjoy all that is Saturday Night Hockey. The rivals continue to face off against each other and better still...the Hall Of Fame Game is tonight between the Rangers and Maple Leafs. All that really means is that it is only two days till the induction of Scott Stevens as well some guys named Francis, Messier, and MacInnis. It is probably one of the, if not greatest induction classes ever to be seen. However, there is still some hockey to cover. Eleven games that will leave you screaming for more and some battles that could only be drawn up in a backyard playground.

A rare CBC tripleheader is scheduled for today. Gotta love those Canadian hockey folks just for that alone! Can Ottawa bounce back from their "hiccup" against the Habs? Well we will all find out at 3pm ET as that is today's matinee. Not for nothing but Montreal is off to a hot start (9-3-3) Ottawa (13-2) may have its work cut out for them....especially going up against the #1 Power Play in all the NHL. When you convert at nearly a 30% clip (even if its early)...that commands respect so Ottawa best stay out of the penalty box...something they have had problems doing the past few games. Ottawa is 6th in the league on the PK at 87% so this could shape up to be one hell of a game. The goaltending is right up who knows...maybe 3-2 Montreal in an upset....sounds good to me.

Then there is the Hall Of Fame game between the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs at 7pm PT. Something has to give here....the Leafs are abysmal at home and the Rangers are downright horrid on the road. Someone has to win as league mandates rule...but it makes you wonder sometimes. Toskala and Lundqvist will be in net tonight. So this may be just what the Rangers need...then again who knows...this could end up in a 0-0 tie heading into a shootout. I seriously doubt that however. There will be some goals scored tonight. Not only that...expect a Ranger road win for the first time this a 4-2 victory.....I am pretty sure I am going out on a limb here. Then again, that is what makes hockey fun.

Finally there is the Battle Of Alberta tonight at 10pm ET. Ah the joys of watching the Flames and Oilers slug it out...Vernon and Lanny against Gretzky, Messier, Fuhr...etc...etc. Oh wait....tonight's battle! Oops! Really it is just Hemsky and Rolo versus Iginla, Kipper and company in a steel cage err ice rink. Both teams come in reeling off 4 game losing streaks. Since getting that fat extension, Kiprusoff has actually been playing worse if that is possible. At some point, he has to snap out of it one would think...right?? The Calgary PK is awful at 74.7% while the Oilers PP is a calamitous 7.8%. These are numbers you can't make up but I do believe the Flames may be the ones more apt to get out of this funk tonight and they will with a 4-1 victory over the Oil.

Now there are other games like the Battle Of Pennsylvania tonight as the Penguins play the Flyers in Philly. Philly dominated in a 3-1 fashion in their first meeting of the season, avenging last year's Pens sweep. Can Philly bounce back from that humbling 4-1 loss Thursday night? I believe so. In another Atlantic Division war, the New Jersey Devils try for the 500 mark in more ways than one in Long Island against the New York Islanders. The Islanders won the last matchup 4-3 in OT as Billy Guerin scored with just seconds left. Martin Brodeur has the opportunity to become only the second goalie ever to win 500 games (Roy - 551). I really don't know who is going to win this one...honest. One thing is for sure.....and that is is going to be one hell of a night. So sit back...get your food and beer, and watch some hockey!!

~ stevens8204


For more stevens8204 insight, register up at The NHL Arena.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Big "E"xpectations

Unless you have been under a rock all week, you are aware of two things. It's Hall of Fame Week in the NHL and Eric Lindros has officially retired. These two things, to this point, have nothing to do with each other. But it's only a matter of time until Eric Lindros's name is on the ballet to be voted on for the Hall of Fame. The question of the week has been has been a simple one.

Does Eric Lindros belong in the NHL Hall of Fame?

My response immediately is yes. Lets just take a look at the numbers to start. 760 games played, 372 goals, 493 assists, good for 865 points. That breaks down to 1.13 points a game. Good numbers for any hockey player, but as we all know Lindros had a problem with his NHL career, he couldn't stay healthy. In 13 NHL season Eric Lindros only played 4 seasons that in which he didn't miss significant time. His last two season with the Leafs and Stars where nothing short of brutal. Yet, over his career, he averaged 1.13 points a game. He was one of the games best hitters, his only minus season in the +/- column came in his one year with the Leafs, he had 46 game winning goals, and in 50 games in the NHL Playoffs he scored 24 goals and had 57 points. Lindros could change the outcome of the any game he was in. He made other players better, for no other reason then they where playing on his line. In 13 shortened years in the NHL he is tied for 248th in goals, 420 in assists and 355th in points all time. Those rankings get even better if you just compare him to forwards overall in the NHL. Now the kicker.

What if he had stayed healthy?

Players can't change the fact they get injured and I for one give any player, not just Lindros, credit for what they might have accomplished if they where healthy. Lindros was one of hockey's best talents, an asshole, but he could play hockey. He should be in the Hall of Fame.

Then again, this is just a damned opinion.

~ damned

For more "damned' opinions, register up at The NHL Arena

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Buzzing At The Door

Count me in. Open the door to the bandwagon and let me hop on. Also, wake me, if it’s a dream but I think not. With the hockey season entering it’s second month, the Columbus Blue Jackets are a team with a purpose. And that purpose isn’t to sweep the cellar floors again this year.

After thirteen games, the Jackets have an 8-3-2 record and are in second place behind those pesky Red Wings of Detroit. They have done it with goaltending, Pascal Leclaire, who has led the NHL in goals-against average (1.12), save percentage (.957) and shutouts (five). And a defense, which is allowing fewer shots on goal. They have outscored their opponents, 37-23. Twenty-three goals (21, plus two shootout goals) in 13 games for a 1.77 GAA, and toss out the 5-1 and 4-1 losses and it’s much better than that. They have improved their penalty killing, which is at or near the top in the NHL.

And Rick Nash is, well, Rick Nash again. Nash has 10 goals, 2 game winning goals, 6 assists, and a 16.7 shooting percentage, placing him near the top of the list in a few categories. He seems to be enjoying himself and it is helping the team with some aggressive play.

Sergei Fedorov is riding a four-game point streak (1-3-4) and has points in five of his last six games (2-3-5) since enduring a six-game drought. Fredrik Norrena is quietly having an outstanding second NHL season as he has posted a 1-1-2 record with a 2.41 GAA and .919 SV% in four game. Manny Malhotra, Jason Chimera, and Nikolai Zherdev have contributed offensively as well and D Jan Hejda leads the club in plus/minus (+6) and hits (26).

Coach Ken Hitchcock defensive system and the overall Blue Jackets' aggressive play will keep them in the race for the Central Division title. But, all the teams in this division have improved over last year and this season promises to be no cakewalk. And then there are the Wings, who have owned the lease to the penthouse apartment for several years. They’re still not ready to pack up and move out just yet.

That being said, the state of hockey in the Buckeye State looks much better than in recent years. And they know the Red Winds can’t be on top forever.

Could they?

~ ogre1kanobe

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Saturday Night Special; Atlantic Edition

Well it is another Saturday Night but this one may be just a little more special as later tonight the clocks have to be set back. Oh no...we gain
an hour's sleep...wait that's a good thing.....more hockey!! Now I do admit being away this week really helped recharge things. I could relax..go where I wanted what I wanted to do and all those things that sometimes every person takes for granted. It was nice to see things and explore but more importantly I learned a lot about the area that I am eventually moving to (sometime in July more than likely). San Diego is a very cool place and not too far from Anaheim and I can't complain there. That being said, onward to the hockey!

Tonight is a bit of a rivalry night in the Atlantic Division with Border War 2 between the Devils and Rangers..then the Isles do battle with the Penguins. The Flyers have the night off after their win at the Phone Booth against the Caps last night. The Isles and Pens are both above .500 but have what you could consider many interesting subplots in development. The Isles have all sorts of issues with consistency which is unlike a Ted Nolan coached team. The Pens are in near chaos with Fleury the unofficial #2 and Sabourin a very unsure #1. The Isles eventually head into a stretch where they start actually playing some games...after this weird 4 games in 20 days bit. The Pens need a clear choice for a #1 goalie and the lines are so blurred that the coaching staff may starting wondering aloud to the GM...are you looking for somebody? I expect the Islanders Army to have quite a bit on this game afterward and as always Faceoff Factor has a bang up preview.

In other Atlantic Division rival action...the second installment of the Border War takes place at MSG tonight between the Rangers and Devils....both teams are coming off wins...both teams are 5-6-1. Will the Devils learn to cover Nigel Dawes? Will the Rangers score some goals? Will the Devils PK ever show up this season? So many questions and as always Devil and Ranger fans alike will try to answer them. The folks at Battle of New York have this all covered and perhaps there will be a liveblog of the events tonight. For all the NHL Arena fans....go right on to the Ranger forum for the GDT. Honestly, I expect another low scoring battle...hopefully this time the Devils figure it out a little better than last time and get some shots on net. That being said, I expect a gritty matchup with the return of Sean Avery tonight. Cue in Vishnevski to the front of the net please. I can't wait!

Another saucy matchup takes place in the Southeast the Canes do battle with the Panthers in Raleigh. Anyone who saw the last game on Halloween knows what happened...knows the history. Basically this has gotten ugly between Canes GM Jim Rutherford and Panthers coach Jacques Martin. The diving accusations aside....what was a dive, not a dive...etc. have made this not just another division game. The fine folks at Southeast Shootout have their insights on all means go take a look. Tampa also finally comes home...only to face Atlanta in another SE division game. Think Tampa is glad to come home? They haven't won a road game yet this season...and the tri-state part of the trip was a total disaster getting outscored 13-2 in those 3 games. Atlanta started off 0-6 but has gone 4-3 in their last 7 with improved goaltending and scoring so this could get very interesting in Tampa tonight. Kovalchuk vs. The Tampa Big is a game I will definitely be watching.

Finally, I just wanted to announce that we have our next four panelists for Hockey Around The Horn...they are LS, Rick, Dan, and Pogo. The questions will be hermetically sealed and sent out sometime tomorrow...and the episode should air on The NHL Arena sometime next weekend. So judges...get ready...this one will be more difficult than the last. Hopefully everyone enjoys all eleven games tonight and don't spill the beer or burn the house down after your team scores. Good hockey...good fight....good night!

~ stevens8204

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hang Up The Skates

Some people just don’t know when to quit. Athletes are extremely good at staying in the game too long. Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Franco Harris, Joe Montana, and many others tried to continue to do what they did very well, sometimes years after their skill diminished. Others tried to move in different directions within the same sport without success. This is one of them.

It is no secret that Wayne Gretzky was hockey’s greatest player, so far. Passing, shooting, puck handling, you name it, and he did it well, great in many cases. He owns or shares 61 NHL records (40 for regular season, 15 for Stanley Cup playoffs and 6 for All-Star Game). He was ranked No. 5 among North American athletes by SportsCentury's distinguished 48-person panel. Only Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown rated higher than Gretzky. Not many players can hope to achieve anything close to what he did. And yet he wanted more.

So he took the challenge of being Managing Partner in charge of all hockey operations, Alternate Governor & Head Coach of the Phoenix Coyotes on February 15, 2001. In his first full season, the 2001-2002 season, the Coyotes went 40-27-9-6, finished second in their division and made the playoffs. The next year they finished next to last in the division with a 31-35-11-5 record. They bottomed out in 03-04 with only 22 wins and started their three-year stay with Cinderella in the basement.

In the early stages of this season, Phoenix is 3-6 and doesn’t look like it’s going to turn it around anytime soon. What can be done to get into “Wayne’s World” and let him know he just doesn’t seem to have the skills required for coaching? Or management decisions for that matter? He was criticized for some of his choices of players in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. Wayne gave the nickname of “The Next One” to Sidney Crosby, stated that Sid would probably break a few of his own records, and then didn’t put him on the Canadian team. Why? Objecting to his own critique?

The sad part of this all is no one has the stones to tell him or fire him. Would you want to be the person to call Wayne Gretzky into your office and tell him he sucks? But, Wayne should know. He is a very smart person and we all are not great at everything we do. He should realize that what he’s done, what the organization has done, isn’t working.

It’s time for Wayne Gretzky to put away his ego, accept that he is human, and take this failure as something that happens to all of us.

It just took longer for it to happen to him.

~ ogre1kanobe

Monday, October 29, 2007

The New Boss

The NHLPA hired a new leader this week in Paul Kelly. His appointment has come with mixed reviews of course coming from opposite sides. The players feel they have the right guy, which makes sense, or why would have they hired him? On the other side of the fence some members of the NHL have said the NHLPA has found another Bob Goodenow. The thought of the players causing another labor issue at the end of the 08-09 season has even been brought up on some of the mainstream media's web sites. The players union can opt out of the CBA two years early if they wish. For now though Kelly is saying all the right things. He wants to have a positive relationship with the league. He wants to focus on the game, bring back old fans and develop new ones. He wants hockey to get more coverage in the United States. He wants to have a open and forthright relationship with Gary Bettman. Again, all the right things to say when talking to the media on your first day on the job.

But what does this all mean for the NHL?

In reading some of the players comments about Kelly being hired, it sure sounds to me that there are still some sour grapes from the last labor fight. After all Saskin got punted for being to "chummy" with the NHL. What's really disturbing is that this new CBA has put more money in players pockets then ever before because with the salary cap, came a salary floor. The players where also given shorter paths to Free Agency, which of course if your any good at this game, means more money. Yet that subtle feeling that the NHLPA isn't happy still simmers in the background.

I'll say it right now, if the NHLPA decides to bring down the current CBA and play hardball with the league anytime soon, it will destroy the NHL. Lets hope this Paul Kelly fellow is telling the truth when he says he wants to work with the NHL to make hockey better and that he will be able to make the players agree that needs to be the plan. After all they are supposed to be working for the same company.

Then again, this is just a damned opinion.

~ damned


Arena Hot Topics

Randy Jones Suspended

Officials Out For Boorgard?

Kipper Locked Up

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The End Brings A New Beginning

After nearly 25 years of play, the Devils move into a new place to dwell. Aptly named The Rock which symbolizes how the Devils have played during this long run of excellence...the new arena will opened last night amid a lot of fanfare and a little controversy. As always, have to have a little spice to go with the sugar. Now we'll throw the spice off a little to the side for now. Last night meant a ton to someone like me...someone who remembers the history of the franchise well.

There were the downtrodden times when the Devils couldn't buy a win....all those games when they were on a little tiny station (WWOR- Channel 9) out of Secaucus, New Jersey. However, even then, they were still our team...we stuck by them win or lose. I remember my father taking me to games and I was amazed at how fast it all was and yet I felt I could almost compartmentalize it. I understood the game and as my love for the game grew (it didn't hurt that I played hockey on some level for the better part of 20 years +), I learned to appreciate the finer subtleties and just to be thankful to be a fan. The Lloyd Lyndsay-Young hellos to all the Devil fans out there....when Gary Thorne took over the play by play from Peter McNab and called the Johnny Mac gamewinner that put us in the playoffs for the first time. When we moved to Sportschannel...we were usually relegated to the upstart NewSport or eventually FSNY2 for awhile but that wouldn't last all that long.

Then there was Lou Lamoriello who turned this franchise around...when he came aboard almost 20 years ago....the Devils were kind of a doormat if you will. Three Cups later, he is still widely considered one of the best GM's in sports. The marketing may be a bit of a sore spot but talk to any Devils fans and they will tell you how much they appreciate Lou....especially this one. Lou orchestrated the compensation when the Blues tampered to get Shanny and everyone knows who we got as that compensation...#4 Scott Stevens. The draft brought us Niedermayer and Brodeur and the rest is well forever ingrained in Devils lore. Madden, Pandolfo, Elias and a cast of characters came later. But without Lou and scouting director, David Conte, who knows if the Devils would still be in New Jersey. After years of playing hard ball with the state of New Jersey which for anyone who knows, can be a worse of a pain than divorce, child birth, or death....the Devils would finally get their new arena in Newark.

The arena has not been without its share of hiccups...there was the oringinal attempt after the near move in 95...and then after the 2nd cup in 2000...I got to the point where I started to wonder if there was ever going to be a new arena. Finally, ground was broken during the lockout and when they said The Rock would be open for the 2007-08 season...a smile came to my face almost as wide as when they won the first Stanley Cup over Detroit. Then when the schedule came out for this season...I saw the date October 27th and penned it in...I knew some way somehow (even 2900 miles away), I would see this game. So yes I am using the Tivo for it but it shall never be erased. Bon Jovi played to a packed out Rock the other night and the people that I have talked to that went said the music was great but the arena stole the show. Now it is the Devils turn to get the party and black style.

My brother got tickets for the game during the week and bought an extra one for the one person that got us all started on this crazy fandom as my mother still calls it. Hockey was the one sport we all agreed upon as a family and it was my dad who guided us that way. So yes, my niece sat in that seat but in a way my father was it a hunch. This is our day.....our Christmas!

A Devils Christmas That Is!

~ stevens8204

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Money Can't Buy Me Cups

Money. The root of all evil. The world revolves around it. Can’t live without it. Hard to live with a lot of it. Lottery winners, millions all at once, broke in two to three years. And what about sports teams? The “haves” spend a lot to get the best players; the “have-nots” struggle to get by with those they can afford.

The New York Yankees have not had great success spending billions over the last 15 years. Well, that’s what George thinks. Multiple playoff appearances and a couple of World Series rings isn’t enough when you have tons of money.

What about his hockey partner, the Rangers? Not nearly as “unsuccessful” as the Yankees, with only two Stanley Cup Championships since 1939-40, with their last one coming in the 1993-94 season. Having talent on your roster such as Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, Brendan Shanahan, Petr Prucha and they young goalie Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t enough for this team. Feeling the need for offensive production, management went out on “Free Agent Frenzy Day” and acquired the likes of Chris Drury of the Sabres and Scott Gomez from the Devils for around $80 million dollars.

So how’s that working out for you?

They are in last place in the Atlantic division with a 2-4-1 overall record, and yes I know it’s early. But what is more disturbing is the other numbers. Although Lundqvist has kept them in many games with giving more than three goals only once, the pathetic offense has scored only 13 goals in those seven games. Using superior math skills, that works out to about 1.85 goals per game, and if memory serves me, that’s under two goals a game. Lundqvist would have to be a four-foot by six-foot load of blob to win more games.

The other sad stat, is they have scored only six power play goals. And most of those goals came recently. They went, 0 for 16 at last recollection, and this with “Mr. Feed-it-to-me-in-the-slot” Jagr on the power play. Jagr has only one goal but he has assisted on seven others, leading his team in points, that being eight.

And how are the new guys doing? Gomez “leads” the team with two goals and only one assist and Drury has one goal and five assists. Offensive fireworks for sure!! Will these Rangers turn it around? Odds are they will. Don’t bet all your money, though.

Money can but you a lot of things. Houses, yachts, fancy cars and yes, even love, for a little while. But money can’t buy me rings and cups. You have to earn those.

~ ogre1kanobe


Arena Hot Topics

Kaberle For Hossa?

Lidstrom Close To Extension

Possible Drama Between Vigneault and Naslund?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

That Extra Edge

So Tory Weber, an Alberta resident, figures he has the next product that will revolutionize hockey. The man has created a heated hockey blade. The idea behind it being that the heated blade will provide a players skates with less friction between the blade and the ice surface. Of course this means the player should be able to skate faster and in the end also be less tired. They, being the creators, also suggest that the product might cause less injuries. The question I asked myself after reading about these heated blades was this.

Do we really have to revolutionize hockey?

Has it really come to that? Was Joe Malone, Gordie Howe, and Bobby Orr really that boring in hockey jerseys that weren't aero dynamic? Did Wayne Gretzky and Super Mario provide that bad of a show with wooden hockey sticks? Are Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin really at such a big disadvantage they need heated hockey skates? I think the answer is a simple no across the board. Players in the NHL are going to be the best in the world no matter what equipment we give them. Sometimes I wish we would keep things simpler so we could celebrate just how good these guys really are instead of being told "It must be the skates".

Then again, this is just a damned opinion.

~ damned


Arena Hot Topics

On Ovechkin's Nerves

Will Volchenkov Be Suspended?

The Beauty Pageant Submission Thread

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Lucky 13

As the Arrogant Worms used to say..."Me Like Hockey". Tonight me really like hockey as there are 13 games including well for us left coasters...
a 1PM matinee with the Rangers @ Boston to face the Bruins. The Devils play the Islanders in the never ending road trip that now is just a few bus rides...and HNIC has Hawks-Leafs and Oilers-Flames tonight for its should be glorious. Even Captain Caveman would have been proud.

So...what to watch? With so many choices....Carolina @ Philly is our Game Of The Week. I am not sure of Center Ice's blackout rules so I am more likely to get the Canes' Fox Sports South feed than Comcast. That being said expect a tight tussle between an angry Canes team who lost their composure for 3:00 last night and it cost them dearly...and a Philly team who is reversing last year's horrible showing in a big way with their consistent play. Biron Vs. Ward I am guessing and for the record Biron will not get a shutout tonight....too much forward talent in Carolina but you never do quite know what to expect. Both teams will come out
hungry but I do think the Flyers will pull this one out 4-2.

Onward to Long Island to see if Martin Brodeur can regain last year's form against the team he loves to play against...the New York Islanders. Didn't it feel
like Brodeur had at least 10 shutouts against the Isles last year? Well Isle fans certainly felt that way and I am sure Rick Dipietro felt the same considering in 5 of the Isles losses, he only allowed 11 goals....not too shabby. When will Sheldon Brookbank play? When will the Devils stop being the worst on the Penalty Kill? Where is the old Devils people are used to seeing? Better yet, are the Isles better than last year (post-Yashin)? Hopefully most of these questions will at least be answered and you can catch it all on FSNY.

Finally I do want to check out The Battle Of Alberta tonight in Calgary. As usual I am sure the bloggers with the same name will have some interesting insight
on the rivalry that is truly their own. Can Mikka Kiprusoff start playing like he did the last couple season? It just seems weird that a lot of big name goalies are off to very slow starts (Roberto Luongo included). Iginla and company and ready to take on Rolosson, Hemsky, Souray and all the Oil has to dish out. This has the makings of a nice little late night game to kick back, enjoy a 6 pack and salute some good Hockey Nite In Canada.

Now really really Saturday's blog will be a little I preview my upcoming road trip to San Diego in my quest to find hockey there and relax and all that good stuff....till then, enjoy and ME LIKE HOCKEY!!!!

~ stevens8204

Easy Come, Easy Go

If you haven't heard by now, Bob Hartley has been fired. After taking the Atlanta Thrashers to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, as well as clinching their first Southeast Division title, his thanks for a dry spell at the beginning of the season is a pink slip.

Granted, the Thrashers are 0-6. Their power play ranks 28th, and their penalty kill 29th. To add to their misery, they average a league worst 1.5 goals a game, and allow 4.5, also a league worst. It could be simply that the team isn't clicking as well as it should. It could be that they might have a playoff hangover, even though they went 4 and gone in the playoffs.

But for whatever reason, Bob Hartley is to blame for this travesty. It is easier to blame the coach, than the players or the GM. Don Waddell is a genius, so obviously it isn't his fault. Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk can divide by zero and stop the world from rotating by just thinking about it. Keri Lethonen is the final solution to cancer. There's nothing wrong with the team, and by all rights they should've been 6-0. Because Bob Hartley was behind the bench, they aren't.

The above paragraph sounds harsh, and it is. From the sounds of things, it's probably what some people are thinking.

Coaches have the worst job in the league. They aren't given the proper due when their teams are doing spectacular, and they're discarded when their team stinks up the joint. In the meanwhile, they're responsible for dealing with the possibility of locker room drama, making players happy with adequate ice time, and motivating their troops when they need it. The best thing that happens to them is a simple trophy that the media votes on called the Jack Adams trophy. Kinda makes you wonder why they're in it at all, doesn't it?

So this is an ode to whom I feel is still a good coach, Mr. Hartley. Good luck with your future endeavors, and I hope your next team treats you better than the last one. People soon forget you have banners in two cities, and rings from one.

That's something Mr. Waddell can't claim over you.

~ Atma


Arena Hot Topics

Trade Feelings

Rangers Searching For Offense

Goal Of The Year!

Thursday, October 18, 2007


The ’07-’08 hockey season has begun with a bang, lots of surprises and excitement for almost everyone. For some, such as Jesse Boulerice and Steve Downie, this year got off to a rocky start. The NHL has suspended both Philadelphia Flyers for illegal checks. The 29-year-old Boulerice was suspended 25 games by the NHL for cross-checking the Canucks' Ryan Kesler in the face, and earlier Downie, 20, was suspended for 20 games for his pre-season hit on Dean McAmmond.

Downie was demoted to the Flyers AHL affiliate where he was additionally suspended until November 3rd, from participating in any games there. Moreover, the demotion to the AHL cost him $63,101.60 US in salary. AND, if ever he is recalled, he will still have to sit the 20 games before he can begin play. Boulerice, on the other hand, was placed on waivers by the Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren who said the decision to waive Boulerice was “based on the team's need for more roster space while dealing with injuries.”

Both of these players face a long and maybe impossible trek’s back to the NHL. But, isn’t that what we want? Players who abuse the system, intentionally hurt other players and have no respect for each other don’t belong in the NHL. Has Holmgren found the solution to the growing problem of out-of-control players?

Not likely.

Not many general managers have the chutzpa to waive players because they know some other manager will pick them up. With thirty teams, the talent pool isn’t as deep as it used to be and few teams have the luxury to rid themselves of players once thought to be worthy of NHL status. Demoting players is a solution for some, but players have limits to the number of times they can be sent down and others have one-way contracts, not affecting them financially. This would work best for younger players, looking to make it to the big boys league and works almost like a “time-out” for hockey players. “Drink your milk and sit for awhile, daddy will let you go in thirty days.”

In reality, there is no “finite” solution for this problem. One-time offenders should be treated as such and repeaters need to learn the hard way it won’t be tolerated.

Cutting off their allowance? Time-outs? Grounding them?

Yeah, sounds like parenting a bunch of babies. Well, it’s close.

~ ogre1kanobe
The NHL Arena


Arena Hot Topics

Bettman Recovering From Surgery

Lehtonen Forced To Leave Game

Kovalev Blames Media

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hurry Up And Wait

The Ottawa Senators have once again rattled off an impressive start to their season, which is something they are beginning to make a habit of doing. (3 out of four years is not bad at all) Playing 7 games in the first 11 days of the season has taken its toll on the team, who are looking forward to a rest before continuing action Thursday. But wait. The schedule they see for the rest of the month only shows them playing a total of three more games in the month of October.

Forget about Martin Gerber's hot streak. Forget about the big three getting into a groove, and forget about Kelly and Vermette playing as though they have the same brain. Rewind a little bit to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Ducks. Sure, the talent on the Anaheim squad helped to quiet the team's hyper advancement towards the Cup, but that was not the only factor. After making short work of Buffalo in the conference finals, Ottawa sat around and waited, which I personally attribute heavily to their fast exit from the finals. Arguably the best in the East coming into their little break, Ottawa will have to reformulate their style to regain composure, and they will have to do it slowly.

This inevitably takes us to the structure of the NHL scheduling. Sure, I'm a little less than embarrassed that I sat in front of the television as though I was unable to move during the first week of the season, but this isn't baseball. Hockey teams will only wear down during these major periods of time where they are forced to play night after night, and they will get 'soggy' during the times that they are not playing enough. It is a delicate process, but I have a feeling someone will be able to get it right.

Players and coaches are not the only ones who suffer during these times. As a fan, it doesn't get much worse than a layoff of your favorite team. Sure, there is plenty to watch, but it doesn't have the same spine tingling excitement as compared to your 'home' team. Again this can go both ways. When the teams are playing every night, it makes it a lot harder to plan around so a fan can watch each game. Having that two or three days break between games really makes a difference.

They plan to work out the 'kinks' in the schedule and hopefully take away a couple of the divisional games in the next year or so. I propose that this is also something they consider. Don't wear teams down when it is not necessary. In the Senators case, I really don't think it is unheard of to remove one game from the first 11 days, and setting it inside the major layoff they are dealing with right now. At least that would add another game and get them placing twice a week.

~ srotaneS
The NHL Arena


Arena Hot Topics

Kovalev For Tanguay?

Could Quinn Take Over?

Markov To The Bruins?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saturday Nite Live

From the home office in Yucca Valley.... it is time for another Saturday Nite full of hockey.

There are 13 games...yes 13 big ones. Once again, there is the dilemma of what to watch and why. Oh wait, I almost forgot..... there is The NHL Arena's Game Of The Week! Everyone should check it out...

This week the Ottawa Senators face the New York Rangers in what might just be an early season playoff preview. Making it even better... the game will be at the world's most obnoxious arena, MSG. Gomez, Drury, Jagr, Lundqvist, and company versus Alfredsson, Heatley, Spezza, and crew... what a better way to crown off a Saturday Nite full of the Coolest Game On Earth!

I will be taping the Devils game... I don't know why I am bothering....since we tend not to fare too well against Atlanta... but I am a glutton for punishment, so why not. Maybe tonight the team will get it going... but I really think the Devils won't get it together till next month. Too many players are pressing and ironically they need some home cooking and humble pie to get it back on the right track. Hopefully Parise and Zajac can carry this team till the rest figure out what monkey crawled on its back and shake that crap off!

Pittsburgh travels to Toronto tonight.... now that should be fun. Both teams aren't exactly setting the world on fire just yet, which makes for an exciting, defense
optional type of game. Fleury and Toskala are not playing their greatest right now... and Sidney Crosby and company are drooling at a chance to play Toronto especially after last year's thrilling 6-5 OT win in Toronto. Sundin and Stajan did farely well in that game as well.... so I am sure there will be tons of chances
and plenty of offensive fireworks to go around.... a game I am definitely looking forward to see.

Another strangely intriguing battle is the first meeting between the Isles and Flyers at Wachovia or whatever you want to call it now Center. The Flyers are a much improved team and the Isles are turning heads with their usual gritty, competitive play. Better yet for the Flyers and their fans... they are coming in once again like the most hated team in the NHL.... the Battle of Pennsylvania has their take on it. So the Isles better watch out... but something tells me that Ted
Nolan will have this team more than ready for anything the Flyers dish out. I do want to see Sutton go at it with anyone and everyone... always a priceless
thing to see... beer, sandwiches, and hockey fights all on a Saturday Nite.

Finally, replies are coming in for Hockey Around The Horn.... so look for the first episode to be posted late Monday or at the very latest early Tuesday... as always, the opinions will be brash but come straight from the gut.... just as everything that does from The NHL Arena.

Have a great weekend and enjoy all the hockey!!

~ stevens8204
The NHL Arena


Tonights top links:

NHL Unfair?

Anyone Missing Julien Yet?

Ottawa Interested In Robitaille

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Real Lowe Down

When Brian Burke took the soother out of his mouth and once again whined about Kevin Lowe and the Edmonton Oilers last week, the debate about salaries and who is responsible for them sky rocketing was once again a topic of discussion in many forms of media. No one can deny that the Lowe and the Oilers overpaid for Dustin Penner. But keep in mind that if they didn't overpay the kid then Burke would have just matched the offer and Penner would have still been a Duck. But the argument that Kevin Lowe is the sole reason for salaries inflating in the years to come holds no water.

With a few quick searches on a good search engine you can find some interesting results.

For instance, Scott Gomez (10 Million), Patrick Elias (7.5 Million), Ryan Smyth (7.5 Million), and Chris Drury (7.1 Million) are players that have career point averages of 60-70 at best. Yet all of them will make more money then Jarome Iginla, Joe Thornton, and Marian Hossa this season. Did you know that Bryan McCabe (7.15 Million), Ed Jovanovski (7.0 Million), and Kimmo Timonen (8.0 Million) will make more then Chris Pronger in the 07-08 season? Oddly enough,that contract that Brian Burke has Pronger locked up under, was tabled by that two headed, league wrecking, bastard Kevin Lowe. For further thought also consider that Jose Theodore (6.0 Million), Thomas Vokoun (5.3 Million), Nikolai Khabibulin (6.75 Million), and Olaf Kolzig (5.45 Million) will all make more then Martin Brodeur for the year.

Oh, one more, Todd Bertuzzi is collecting 4 Million a season from the Ducks. A contract signed and delivered by none other then Brian Burke. Brutal.

Players will always be overpaid by GM's in the NHL so that player will come play for their respective team. Kevin Lowe just used a path less taken to do so. It's also possible to argue, and I have, that Lowe's move will bring down UFA salaries. Now that Lowe has opened "Pandora's Box" teams will have to pay their younger talent more, sooner or risk losing them by Offer Sheets. In a cap system, that means if more dollars are being paid to younger players there will be less dollars for the UFA market at the end of the day.

Then again, this is just a damned opinion.

~ damned
The NHL Arena

Time To Man Up

Part-time players have been a part of some sports for a few years now. Roger Clemens makes it a habit to only play roughly half a season for whatever team that is dumb enough to treat him like someone special, someone who need not abide by the rules everyone else has to follow. In his defense, he told teams up front what he was going to do and let them make the decision.

This is not the case most recently in the hockey world. Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Ducks, after helping their team win the Stanley Cup, announced they were unsure of their intentions for the coming season. Niedermayer has thoughts of retiring from the game and Selanne may want to return home to Finland. And both are certainly entitled to do just that.

But what they are doing is holding their team and their fans hostage by delaying their decision well after the season has started. This is very selfish and puts the team in a bad position. Roster spots need filled, line combinations worked out, and an overall team system needs to be designed. What happens to those players who earned a place on the team only to learn Niedermayer and Selanne decide in December to come back? “Thanks for keeping our seats warm boys, goodbye!” Very Selfish.

Then there are the Rob Blake, Saku Koivu, and Mario Lemieux’s of the hockey world. Blake recently found out he has a rare form of leukemia, a slow-growing cancer of the white blood cells. This disease is highly treatable and presents no immediate danger. Notice that it is treatable, not curable. He plans on staying with the team and working towards a preset goal.

"My goal has not changed since I heard this news," Blake said. "And that's come to Toronto, bring another piece of the puzzle and hopefully win a Stanley Cup here."

Koivu, the captain of the Montreal Canadiens recovered from abdominal cancer, missing most of the 2001-02 season, but returned for the playoffs, and Lemieux’s Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes, caused him to miss a part of the 1993 season. Both received treatments and resumed the game they love.

My point is this: these players have had to face incredible obstacles in their life and hockey career, and yet they felt it best for their family, team and themselves to make a decision, theirs to continue to play through the hardships. They made an unselfish decision.

Quite unlike Scotty and Teemu who have no sickness or treatments to weaken them or slow them down.

Time to make a decision, time to man up.

~ ogre1kanobe
The NHL Arena

Monday, October 8, 2007

Want Your Voice Heard?

You may have noticed over the last couple of weeks that I have a few new faces here at The War Room. A handpicked crew of some of my hard hitting members back at The NHL Arena to keep things interesting and a reason for you all to not be forced to listen to my 2 cents each and every day.

With ogre1kanobe, srotaneS, Atma, damned and Stevens8204, we basically have you covered on all the recent events and on going controversial opinions based around the NHL.

However, there are spots still open in which I am offering to all of you readers. Simply submit an article to me, and have a chance to voice your opinion to our thousands of readers.

Keep things hard hitting and creative. Think outside the box on current events and you just might see your name in NHL Arena lights.

Rattle the boards, people!



In other news...

Tonight marks the end of our Roll Call Cup Semi finals and when the clock strikes 12 PM EST, only two teams will move on to fight for the greatest NHL team according to

In the West, the Ducks will be hard-pressed to catch up to the dominant Sharks in a battle of California, but nothing is impossible. So get your votes in.

And in the East we have a real nail-biter going on. Will the resurging Flyers be able to squeak past the mighty Sabres and restore the pride of the fans? Only time will tell and only you can make the difference.

For the West,

Saturday, October 6, 2007

So much hockey....only so many DVR's

What happens when there are so many games on that you can't possibly watch them all? This is indeed an interesting dilemma....sorta like getting too much of a good thing. There are 14 games on with the free Center Ice preview, there is absolutely no reason to catch some of the coolest game on Earth. Now what to do you do if you're the unfortunate schmuck that has to work on a Saturday....well you get the DVR and Tivo working some serious OT. My plan....since I can tape off two tv's is to tape 2 early games (including the Devs of course). Then I will look at the best two late games and tape those. By the time I get home....I will be able to sit there with cider and pizza in hand and watch the Reader's Digest version of four games and not feel like I missed a thing.

Now for those who don't have such backup plans in place but can just sit home. Enjoy all the games and relax! Center Ice this year offers on one channel the ability to surf four games at once. Its like a kid in a candy store. I had to admit it was a very nice touch to see...and am looking forward to it as the season goes on. They also still have the scoreboard on the package with recaps so no worries sport fans...that did not disappear. So with that in mind....these are the four games I am taping and a little blurb why.

Montreal @ Toronto (Just for the HNIC Pre-Show really)

Devils @ Panthers (This is self explanatory)

Canucks @ Flames (Luongo vs. Kiprusoff...a must see)

Blues @ Kings (I want to see what the Blues look like)

Obviously I'll watch the Devils game first....gotta see how the hometown boys are doing...then the Leafs game....maybe I'll get to hear Saku Koivu's name once. Listening to the RDS guys say his name actually makes a Finnish name sound French....weird but true. Then it will be onward to the Blues-Kings game for a quick thirty minute rewind and finally the Canucks-Flames tilt. I am sure I can hear Erin, Andrew, and Sharon going at it already and to think it is only Week 2 of the
hockey season and already they are in top form. Needless to say I will be up very late but for NHL Hockey, it is always worth it. Thank you Center Ice for making that

Finally, I wanted to thank everyone that is making Hockey Around The Horn a reality. On October 15th, it will be on The NHL Arena for all to see. The questions will be going out sometime next week. The judges will need to be ready....these folks know their hockey. Have a good night everyone...loosen the belt buckle a bit
and enjoy the show!!

~ Stevens8204
The NHL Arena

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Breaking The Barrier

Hockey in most parts of the United States has become more of a fouled joke than a cult following, but for some hockey fans, that is what drives them. Sure, Buffalo and New York are fan crazy for all sports teams. Sure, the Philly fan cheers just as negatively at the Mets fan as he does the Rangers fan, but where does that leave those in between?

Being a Cincinnati based hockey fan isn't as exciting as it sounds. Bengals fans are ever reminding me of their inability to grasp the English language (who dey), and Reds fans are beating a 'Rose' bush that never fully blossomed in my backyard. The pathetic attempt to embrace two or three sports has forced this city to cheer for College teams they have never seen in person. So why does the Ohio State fan in Cincinnati neglect the Blue Jackets? Why does the Michigan fan in Cincinnati fan neglect the Red Wings?


Time Warner, not unlike Cingular, have their market convinced they see and know everything about everything. Versus, who has yet to sign a contract with Time Warner out of Cincinnati, causes even the fans who purchase Center Ice to tear their hair out as the playoffs begin and Versus games are blacked out. At first I blamed the local youth programs, but then I realized hockey is really not dead at all in Cincinnati. The inline leagues and ice hockey leagues for youths around here are ever increasing. Hell, they are easily triple the size of the adult leagues. Could it be that parents are too set in their ways to realize how great the sport of hockey is? Of course, because when their kid is scoring the tying goal in the championship game Sunday afternoon at 2.37pm, dad is busy in the bar staring down yet another school OSU is planning to obliterate.

One thing is for sure. Hockey does have its place in every market. Around here, the Indiana Pacers can easily be ignored, and the Cleveland Cavaliers are only mildly more interesting than the Cleveland Browns, who are a perennial favourite among those who like to swear. There is an entire block of there year where professional sports are basically stagnant in this region. Here is the perfect chance to come in and steal interest.

The one thing Cincinnati needs for hockey to grow is success. They aren't going to drive five hours to Pittsburgh to watch Sid because they don't know who he is. They aren't going to drive 4 hours to the Joe, because they don't know WHAT that is. They will, however drive to Nationwide. Not only does this arena have a fantastic district, it is a young and growing franchise. FSN Ohio is indeed broadcasted here, and fans can be treated to plenty of games each year if they can turn on a television.

So where am I going with this? It's simple. Columbus needs to get better. Guys like Howson who are putting a personal cap on a team who can not breech the post season are a disease to this league. It doesn't cost that much for success. Cut ties with the cash cows like Foote and Federov, and throw another seven million into the pot for a decent squad and let the prospects fill in the spots. This isn't rocket science, it is hockey. Hockey people want to see.

~ srotaneS
The NHL Arena

Game On!!!

As of this past weekend, the 2007-2008 hockey season began and gets into full swing today with games being played all around the NHL.

Expectations for the coming season and bitterness of what happened last year for some teams add fuel to a fire burning deep in the belly of hockey players, coaches and fans. The Senators want to take the last step in their long continuing journey to win the Stanley Cup, falling in the finals to a Ducks team that was not to be denied. Teams like the Red wings, Canucks, Sharks, and Devils want to make a return to the playoffs, again. Others, including the Penguins and Thrashers, want to erase the bitterness that was a very short run last year.

But last year is last year. A new year brings excitement and hope for a better result no matter how your team played or what transpired over the off season. The Flyers, Avalanche, Kings, and Bruins all made strides to improve their team and position in the standings. Stanley Cup finalists? Maybe. Who knows? That’s what is so special about the start of the season. All teams are equal as far as record goes, and all fans are equally excited.

The majority of the experts are picking the Red Wings, Sharks or Penguins to win it all this year. But it doesn’t matter what the “experts” think. It matters what the fans think. And we all think OUR team is the best.

So sit back tonight, get the friends and snacks together, and watch your Stanley Cup contending team play their first games of this new season.


~ ogre1kanobe
The NHL Arena

Monday, October 1, 2007

Dryden For Office

As the NHLPA takes their sweet time finding just the right man to lead their union, I am throwing out a name here. Ken Dryden.

Now my nomination might be said tongue in cheek, as it has not been brought about due to his legal resume. But what better person than a guy who could possibly represent the one group most hit hard by the latest collective bargaining agreement.

The goaltender.

Two years in and we have begun to see many patterns that can be directly tied in with the salary cap and other rule changes. But perhaps no more than the effect on the philosophy dealing with the men that happen to play the most important position on the ice. Between the pipes.

Gone are the days of the goaltending tandem. With cost saving measures brought to the forefront, general managers around the league seem unwilling to spend upward to a million dollars for second stringer. And the only teams that do happen to have two recognizable names on their rosters, prove to be the unfortunate ones that have previously locked into deals that went bad. Really bad.

Two seasons ago you might remember the joke that was the Atlanta Thrasher's goaltending situation. Going into a season with all their eggs in one basket, only to have the rookie Kari Lehtonen fall to injury in the preseason with little to back him up with.

Last season, it was the Los Angeles Kings debacle with Dan Cloutier, and the unwillingness of putting Jason LaBarbera through the waiver wire for recall.

Others such as Theodore, Gerber, Denis, Khabibulin and Raycroft have also hamstrung their teams with cap space and contracts.

This past offseason, we saw the San Jose Sharks trade away Vesa Toskala due to a new contract on the horizon. And now they are passing off a Cup contending team with ole'"what's his name" behind Nabokov. A theme mirrored by the Flames.

... and if one of the big men go down...?

There seem to be no teams willing to give the Belfours, Josephs, and Esches the light of day, nowadays. And yet 18 and 19 year old rookies are given the red carpet treatment, just prior to being fed to the wolves. Which used to be the #1 rule of what not to do.

It will be very interesting to see what unfolds for this third 'new' NHL season. Whether or not Jonathan Bernier in LA can handle the load. Or if Carey Price in Montreal will be able to perform with suitable playing time, so as not to rust on the bench. If Ward will bounce back from a sophomore hangover, while Lehtonen and Fluery respond from post seasons that exposed them for exactly what they were. Kids. And now with Toskala, Mason, Biron, Aebischer and Backstrom all being handed the baton for a complete season, the pressure cooker has never been greater.

Goaltending has always been a tough position to play, but now it seems it has become a tough career choice as well.

~ LS
The NHL Arena


Just now we have triggered the RCC Conference finals match ups and with your help we can determine what two teams will make it to the big show.

Vote for the Eastern Champs!

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