Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The LS Top 50

After reading The Hockey News' version of their top 50 projected players for the upcoming 07-08 season, along with The Puck Stops Here and Spectors take-offs, I felt obliged to create a list of my own. However, just cause I'm different, I've decided to divide the top 50 in 3 categories. The top 25 forwards, the top 15 defensemen and the top 10 goaltenders.

In retrospect, I've obviously chosen different criterea from the others, in order to formulate this list of the top 50 complete packages for the upcoming season.

You'll see what I mean.


1. J. Thornton, SJ
2. Alfredsson, Ott
3. Heatley, Ott
4. Crosby, Pgh
5. Vanek, Buf
6. Spezza, Ott
7. Datsyuk, Det
8. Iginla, Cal
9. Zetterberg, Det
10. Jagr, NYR
11. Hossa, Atl
12. Gaborik, Min
13. Afinogenov, Buf
14. Briere, Phi
15. Lecavalier, TB
16. St Louis, TB
17. Jokinen, Fla
19. Havlat, Chi
20. D. Sedin, Van
21. Sakic, Col
22. Nylander, Wsh
23. McDonald, Ana
24. Brind'Amour, Car
25. Marleau, SJ


1. Pronger, Ana
2. Lidstrom, Det
3. Schneider, Ana
4. Timonen, Phi
5. Campbell, Buf
6. Salo, Van
7. Visnovsky, LA
8. Whitney, Pgh
9. Kaberle, Tor
10. Hamrlik, Mtl
11. Bouwmeester, Fla
12. Phaneuf, Cal
13. Gonchar, Pgh
14. McCabe, Tor
15. Rafalski, Det


1. Luongo, Van
2. Brodeur, NJ
3. Backstrom, Min
4. Mason, Nsh
5. Kiprusoff, Cal
6. Dipietro, NYI
7. Emery, Ott
8. Giguere, Ana
9. Lundqvist, NYR
10. Vokoun, Fla

I suspect there will be non-believers to this list, but when the smoek clears at the end of this season, I will re-hash these names to show you how accurate I may or may not be.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The LSHL Keeper Pool

On September 23rd at 1 PM EST, The NHL Arena will be holding it's 1st LSHL Keeper Pool Draft.

Rules to this fantasy hockey game, can be found here

For $20 (Canadian), you can sign up for one of the greatest general manager simulation games known to man, where not only is building a Stanley Cup winning team your goal, but a dynasty.

For those of you that are interested, simply send me an email at nhlarena@hotmail.com for further details.

Let's see if you can beat LS at his own game!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Toskala Of Measurement

Inspired by a few debates circling around the Toronto Maple Leafs. The comparison between Vesa Toskala and Andrew Raycroft (albeit not much debate there), the over/underrated Leaf defense and the likelihood of a playoff birth due to a goaltending change. I decided to do a little number crunching...

Over the course of 4 seasons with the San Jose Sharks, Toskala has averaged a .914 SV%. Last season with the Leafs, Andrew Raycroft posted an .894 SV% for a difference of .020%. These numbers obviously make for a good measuring stick when comparing these two netminders head to head, but how do they relate to team success?

Should we grab Toskala's .914% and filter it into Raycroft's 1931 shots against, we can project 1765 saves over the course of the season. Which is 39 more saves than Raycroft managed last season. And of course that means 39 less goals.

If we factored in the 39 less goals against into last season's stats, the Leafs would have managed 258 goals for, versus 230 goals against. Giving them the 4th least goals against in the East.

The one team that had comparable numbers to these projections last season, were the Calgary Flames. The Flames managed 258 goals for, versus 226 goals against. It was good enough to earn them 96 points over the season. Had the Leafs managed 96 points (a mere 5 pts more than they did manage), they would have sat in the 6th seed in the East and paved a way to Atlanta for a playoff series.

And now I can hear the 'quality of shots' angle being thrown my way. What are the chances that Toskala can provide the Leafs with a .914 SV% considering their defense, as opposed to San Jose's? And when Marc Denis, Ed Belfour, Roberto Luongo, Manny Legace, Dan Cloutier and Andrew Raycroft collectively dropped .013 SV% last season while playing for their new respective clubs, this makes for a very valid argument. But really, this isn't about finding a foolproof way of predicting the Leafs chance of success next season. It's more to do with proving how much of a difference a measely .020 SV% can make on a team's success, and how it can instantly change the appearance of it's defense core.

While John Ferguson Jr., Paul Maurice and the Toronto media rave about Andrew Raycroft's 37 win season, or are ready to tar and feather the blueline, truer stats have been ignored.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Good Cause For DuckLoz

On a more serious note today as Commissioner of The NHL Arena, I would like to announce a good cause that we are partaking in to benefit one of our members.

DuckLoz (or Loren) happens to be a model member of our board. She is well liked in our community and consistently provides the type of respect for all fans, that we pride ourselves upon.

She also happens to be an 18 year old Anaheim Ducks fan from Sheffield England. And unfortunately it seems that she might miss a rare opportunity to catch her favorite team play their arch rivals; the Los Angeles Kings in a two game series starting on September 29th on British soil and at a decent time of night. And that is where we would like to step in.

We at The NHL Arena are starting a drive, asking for donations to allow Loren to catch her first ever live NHL game. And with the help of the greater online hockey community, we think we can make this dream come true.

True enough, this is not an attempt to cure cancer, or save baby seals, or a chance to give poor DuckLoz a transplanted kidney. Nonetheless, we do feel that this is a worthy cause and would like everyone the chance to be a part of this feel-good story. And if you wanted to take a second to find out a little more about our English friend, we think you'd agree.

Our plan is to scour the web looking for generous hockey fans who might have the luxury of catching a game more so than someone on the other side of the Atlantic would, and simply ask them for whatever they can contribute. All donations will be transferred into our paypal account in hopes of of acquiring a pair of tickets for one of the aforementioned games. Should we fall short of our goal, all donations will be refunded to the people that have made them, in good faith.

If you are interested 'A Good Cause For DuckLoz', please email us at nhlarena@hotmail.com . And if a donation is out of the question, you can still be a part of this by helping us spread the word around the world wide web.

Together, we can once again show the world why other pro-sports fans cannot hold a candle to those that love the NHL.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Can Crosby Design Our New Jerseys?


At the draft, having watched the unveiling of the Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets and the Washington Capitals new uniforms, I have to say that I was rather impressed. Prior to that, all the talk of the new Reebok designs had me skeptical to say the least. And at the All Star game, I was even more nauseous than usual.

Sure, I am a bit of a traditionalist by nature and when I saw the rebirth of the retro red, white and blue donned by the Caps I was quite pleased. Same goes for the Bobby Orr-esque new (old) Bruins look. And when the Jackets gave up on the CN Rail meets Honest Ed designs, things were looking up.

Since then I have also been somewhat impressed with the Kings new apparel, although I don't know how the chic look will go down with our Bloods and Crips.

The Penguin jerseys were adequate I suppose, but there just didn't seem to be enough room on the back for the numbers.

When NHL 08 began leaking footage of NHL teams wearing the new designs, I thought the Canes showed a little too much in the striping department. But little did I know that their unofficial look would only be a precursor to the Isles god awful reincarnation. Please Captain Highliner, come back!

I suspected that the Preds would have to say goodbye to their chrome sleeves, yet the new design was bearable. And the Panthers would have been fine if it weren't for some oddly placed elbow pit striping.

I'm satisfied with the new San Jose Shark logos, even if the inclusion of burnt orange reminds me more of the Dolphins than it does Sharks.

The Red Wings new look remains pretty much the same, other than the fact that the traditional captain's 'C' and alternative captain's 'A' will have to be placed on the players right shoulder rather than the left. And I apologize if I am coming off as petty, but that just looks WAY wrong.

The New York Ranger design has the words crushed to the center of the sweater, while having some bib-like thing at the bottom of the waist. Apparently this was added to keep the Ranger players' saliva off their shorts, while spitting on opposing team's ice girls.

The Ottawa jersey which was unveiled last evening reminds me of some after school public service special. I'd like to call it 'Captain Cartoon Condom Man'.

It seems that the more unveilings made available, the worse this new space aged Reebok advance jersey creation appears to be. I mean, what can we possibly expect next?

Will the New Jersey new jerseys brand a new logo representing NJ squared? Will the Broad Street Bullies add new splotches of red to give the impression that blood will not completely repel in a second flat? Could the Buffaslug get any worse? Might the Montreal Canadiens try to implement 24 Stanley Cups on each shoulder patch while linking the numbers below with some cob web-like image? Will the Maple Leafs wear tie dye designs, knowing full well that their fans will buy them up no matter how bad they look? Will the Thrashers keep their powder blue or go with something that might show up better in the spring? Will Tampa Bay ever come up with something a little more thought provoking than a lightning bolt? Will the Hawks try a blacked out look for home games? Will the Flames go with blazing red for home games while returning to the cowardly yellow for the road? Will the Avs try out some funky Colorado Rockies retro look? Will the Oilers see a need in making female fitting uniforms? Is anyone else afraid of what Reeboks version of 'Wild' might be? Might the Canucks be interested in Borat banana thongs? Will we have to listen to Brian Burke whine about his new uniforms? Can the Dallas stars come up with anything that could draw our attention away from Mike Modano's teeth?

Phew. Let me catch my breath here...

Would anyone like to bet what the new design for the Coyotes will look like?


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Care To Wager On That?

While the hockey world awaits the decision from the Commissioner on any future relationship between Phoenix Coyote assistant coach Rick Tocchet and the NHL, one has to wonder if Glen Sather was hired as a consultant to the case. It's saying something when the courts and a Mike Peca signing can come to a conclusion before the NHL can. Once the gavel does come down, I suspect it the Coyotes will be placing a job wanted ad. in their local newspaper.

Already I have heard Rick Tocchet compared to Pete Rose, Michael Vick, NBA officials, the entire White Sox organization and Tony Soprano. Osama Bin Laden won't be far behind. And while hockey fans worry about how the NHL will be perceived by Greater America, Americans are busy talking about dog fighting at the moment.

The truth is, that no matter what Bettman decides, this remains a non-story to almost everyone that is not already a fan of this league. In fact, the greater story is barely ever spoken and will inevitably be the deciding factor in Bettman's decision.

I suspect when the day comes, the Commish will speak of things such as ethics, and a hard-lined stance against sports betting in his NHL fraternity. He might also try to draw everyones attention to the 3 major leagues and the issues they are all currently dealing with.

The truth of the matter is that Rick Tocchet will be put on the proverbial walking plank merely because he is expendable and he will provide the easiest way for the NHL to sweep this whole mess under it's political rug. Had it merely been a question of Tocchet breaking the law, the NHL would also have to look at various others. Most of which have alcohol related rap sheets. And if it were indeed true that this was the NHL's way of separating themselves from the gambling world, why should it stop with Tocchet?

I know that the courts have decided to not press charges, or even release the names of the high profile players in Tocchet's gambling ring. But with names like Jeremy Roenick leaking out to the media, do you think this will keep him from becoming a well known TV sports analyst used to promote the league to those stubborn Yanks that have yet to jump on board? Highly doubtful. But even Roenick might be looked at as expendable, if need be, compared to the NHL's golden boy. Wayne Gretzky.

Now I know that it was implicated that Janet Jones Gretzky had ties to Tocchet's ring and not her husband. And plenty of theorists are quick to assume that all of this was done behind her wholesome husband's back. But really, what is the likelihood of her making substantial wagers linked to her partner's right hand man without his knowledge? And even if you could get your head around that one, do you really think if all this was done without Wayne's knowledge, that he would be campaigning to have Tocchet back?

There is no doubt in my mind that Gretzky shares the same gambling ethics his wife has been reported as having. And it shouldn't take too much digging on the NHL's part to find out for themselves. But of course, such a maneuver by the league would wake up the various TV stations and Sports Radio channels across the continent that are currently content talking about Michael Vick. And that is something Bettman does not want to do.

So farewell Rich Tocchet. Thanks for all those years, even if they were in a Flyer uniform. And thanks for showing us that bodychecks can happen in All Star games. Sorry you have to be the patsy here, but chances are, you'd never get another coaching job the day Phoenix let you walk anyways.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Belfour Goes Blonde

One of the more surprising aspects to this latest rumor of Eddie the Eagle soaring off to Europe to continue his lengthy career, is that he has seemingly chosen Swedish meatballs over Russian Vodka.

A report out of the Stockholm Expressen has Eddie Belfour signing with Leksand; a 2nd tier club in the SEL, almost any day now.

Looking back at the illustrious career of Belfour, you have the 3rd most career wins in NHL history. And considering his single cup win in his 1000 seasons of NHL duty, a case can be made that he pulled off his statistical dominance while on clubs less supportive than those of Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur.

Along with his one Stanley Cup ring, Belfour has a Calder Trophy, two Vezinas and Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award in his portfolio. Thus being an obvious choice for an induction into the Hockey Hall Of Fame once he gives in to retirement.

Sadly, Ed Belfour is known for his legal troubles and his abrasive temperament, more so than his talents. And even at the ripe old age of 42, his decision making abilities continue to come under question to this day.

Ironically, in the same offseason while legendary players like Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne contemplate retirement at the top of their game, Belfour refuses to do so three seasons too late. And to the best of my knowledge, not one of the 28 current Hall of Fame inducted goaltenders could be found guilty of rounding out their careers in a lesser league. So does this make Belfour even more of a laughing stock?

I suppose a case could be made that Belfour's competitive edge is keeping him from giving in to those not willing to take a chance on him in the NHL. Or perhaps he wishes to revitalize the Swedish Elite league with his star power. Much like Beckham is seen as doing for the LA Galaxy and the MLS. However, the likelihood of the decision to cross the Atlantic for any reason other than to desperately find a way back into the NHL at the age of 43 or more, appears to be rather dubious.

One thing that is certain, is that we will not be listening to, "Eddie, Eddie, Eddie" chants in an NHL arena this season. Instead, we might be lucky to dig up some YouTube footage of, a "put ze cheeken in de oven, bork, bork, bork" chorus instead.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

News This Weak

Based out of the hockey mecca that is known as Toronto, there has been much talk about local newspaper; The Toronto Sun's cover stories this past week.

First we had the breaking news of an informal practice featuring a handful of Leafs and Marlies scrimmaging with one another at Lakeshore Lions Arena. That epic headline was then followed up the following day with the news that Mark Bell pleaded guilty to a DUI and hit and run charge which would lead him to some Hilton-like jail time next summer. And of course, for the 3rd day in a row another astonishing hockey related story featuring a picture of a Swedish girl walking her dog; allegedly on a romantic date with Mats Sundin.

Much has been said about the lack of interest these 3 inside scoops have given the average NHL fan, but I would like to point out that in all 3 cases, these tabloid-like articles all happen to have been true. Which is something that cannot be said about past 'newsworthy' stories such as Balsillie being the saviour of Hamilton Ontario, Sundin's career ending hip surgery and Scotty Bowman's life long dream of becoming John Ferguson Jr's official babysitter.

NHL fans might have the shortest offseason to wait through, but they have always been the least patient. And it is nothing new that non-stories become huge scandals just to wet the appetite of the NHL fan in withdrawal. And it would be safe to say that the city of Toronto leads in that charge.

We have all been guilty of pulling our hair out over Gary Bettman's decision on the future of an assistant coach's future, on quite possibly the worst franchise in the league. We've chewed our fingernails down to the bone over what team the Mike Peca camp can convince he has something left in him. We're ready to tar and feather a player that couldn't squeeze out a 20 point career season, for choosing to fly off to Russia rather than honor his contract in Columbus Ohio. All the while we conjure up new rumors of possible trades regarding players with no-trade contracts and add to our Ray Bourque and Evgeny Malkin shrines. And finally, we all piss and moan about what Commissioner Bettman has done to our league, while we froth at the mouth in anticipation over the next upcoming season.

So, while Sundin's love life might not be the most informative piece of journalism I have ever read, neither is the backlash of the Toronto Sun's decision to put a picture of an attractive young blonde on their front page. It's not as if this was the first time they've done so. And who knows? Perhaps this unveiling revelation of the Swedish paparazzi might just be the thing that makes the normally reserved Mats Sundin, decide to go into hiding. Now THAT would be a story!