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Bissonnette, Mirasty, Gagne, Nielsen and Staal



White rabbits!  September’s going to be an AWESOME month.  And, for your reading pleasure, I start up at Puck Daddy in a week – Tuesday, September 7th.  Neat. O.


It’s “one-touch passes” time:

As it’s been mentioned on Deadspin, probably Puck Daddy, and most definitely noticed on twitter…. Twuperstar Paul Bissonnette is back in action: @biznasty2poiont0 .  Soooo, we all got that goin’ for us.  Crushasaurus, where you at, brotha?

BTW, I’m a big fan of the “BizNasty” nickname – right up there with another (minor leauge) hockey fighter, John “Nasty” Mirasty. 

I mean… Nasty Mirasty?  Sounds like a bad-guy character you’d create for your hockey movie.  (I just googled “Nasty Mirasty” to see how to spell his last name, and the guy has his own website, complete with a “store” that’s not yet running). 

I found the four-pic combo of Mirasty below on Google Image, no idea whose it is, soooo thanks to them.  It’s also worth noting that I’d still rather fight this guy than Yablonski.

Yep, that's what arms normally look like. Yes-sirrr.


Dude was STOLEN from Philly.

I got some good responses on twitter the other day to this idea: Basically, is there any reason to believe Tampa Bay will finish any lower than the 5-6-7 seed in the East?  Their top six are insane, maybe the best in the leauge:  Lecavalier, St. Louis, Stamkos, Gagne, Malone and Downie.  Deaaaammnnn.

If Ellis or Smith can put together a good year – and there’s a strong possibility that one of those two quality tenders will – they’re a scary group.  And with the pick-up of Kubina and a year under Hedman’s belt….  Again – deaaammmnnn.


Not the league's thickest dude.

Frans Nielsen of the Isles has been coming up more often in coversations as a guy could have a good year, which got me thinking…. is he strong enough to ever be considered someone who gets mentioned as one of the ”best third line centers in the NHL?”  That quote is from Brian Compton of, a guy who thinks he it’s possible.  (By the way, just because Jordan Staal is a third line center doesn’t mean he’s a third line center ….if you get what I’m saying)

He certainly has the ability, but he’s just so slight… you can be as talented and smart as all hell, but if you lose the majority of your puck battles, it kills your line and hurts your team.

I’ll have to check out his ”corsi” stats to see if we can get some  indication of his ability to control the direction of the game, but I’m honestly asking, Isles fans: Is he strong enough to make the jump from capable to premier?  I don’t watch enough Isles games to judge.


Dude's intense.

There’s not a whole lot of players in the NHL I’d rather have on my team than Jordan Staal.  Yet still, people insist that the Pens should trade away one of their three dominant centers for some support on the wings.  And to that I say, “no, no they shouldn’t.”

They have something no team can match with their 1-2-3 punch (major threat on three lines), which is a huge advantage.  You keep the option of having the toughest-to-stop final-minute three-man unit in the league.  Plus, a dozen teams are trying the “two stars and and a bunch of B-minus players” thing – making that trade puts you right back to where everyone else is.

With the additions of Martin and Michalek on D, to go with a couple other solid d-men, that team will be dangerous again this year.  In fact, they’ll contend every year – as long as they don’t do anything crazy.  Keep the three big centers, Pittsburgh.  Far more important to have those than great wingers.


Did you check out my first piece of the season for The Hockey News Monday?  Good.  I’ll have another one on Hockey Primetime later tonight.


23 Responses to “Bissonnette, Mirasty, Gagne, Nielsen and Staal”
  1. Nathan says:

    You’re spot on about Staal and the Penguins, but this season they’re planning on starting with Malkin on Staal’s wing. I’m ok with that, but come playoffs, rolling out Crosby, Malkin, and Staal lines puts shivers down my spine.

    Also, best third line centre in the league? Staal.

  2. Char says:

    Good grief, Patrice Bergeron is the best third-line center in the NHL. No contest.

    Strength and skill:

    Smarts and hustle:

  3. Derek says:

    Nathan: I think you missed the point about Staal. The guy is a number two center, who happens to be the 3rd center on a team with two number one centers. I think to answer that question you have to look at the teams individually. A lot of teams use the third line as a straight checking line, in which case you have guys like Pahlsson, but then you have teams like Detroit who roll three scoring lines and have Modano as their third line center.

  4. St. Cloud Gopher says:

    Fight card? “Nasty” is right. How long until VERSUS decides to put him in a ring with Kimbo Slice to lead into a no-one-is-going-to-watch-anyway Blues/Avs game. (Damn it VERSUS! Why am I doing the work for you?)

  5. jtbourne says:

    Yeah Nathan, I added the bracket on Staal during the Nielsen paragraph after – basically, just because he centers the third line doesn’t mean he’s a third line center…. or something like that.

  6. Derek says:

    I think Bergeron or Krejci (whoever is the third liner this year) falls into the same category as Staal. I think for legit third line centers Dave Bolland has to be in strong consideration, as he is a great checker but is better offensively than your Pahlsson’s and other checking centers. Although will Bolland be the second line center now? Or will Sharp play center full time?

  7. Cassie says:

    Coaching, chemistry, and goaltending will be the things to look out for in Tampa Bay. I’m cautiously optimistic, though. I’d shamelessly plug my site, but I’ll be nice. :o )

  8. Dominik says:

    As an official Frans Nielsen Evangelist, I’m obliged to say: Yes, he’s all that. Or at least, he routinely faces the toughest competition and yet drives the play in the right direction, no matter which teammates he has to tow around the ice with him. On the Corsi question, a reader on my site looked into what happens with and without him and essentially found that every Islander had better flow-of-play/Corsi results when lined up with him. Others have found the same:

    I am nervous about people expecting him to “break out” though. Is he on the verge of being a great scorer? I doubt it — as you suggest (I think), that might be where his frame hurts him more. Defensively though, I think he’s just one of those quietly valuable players whose contributions are hard to capture unless you have the luxury (or obsession) of watching him every game.

  9. jtbourne says:

    Check out Cassie’s site for more info on the Tampa Bay Lightning!

  10. Cassie says:

    Thanks, Justin. :o D

  11. Sherry says:

    Although I knew absolutely nothing about Stall (other than the gist of the family “legacy”), I was glad when the Pens drafted him (he’s was Stall and cute, in a Norse God kind of way – worked for me… :) ). And boy, he did not disappoint. I have always been baffled by talk of trading him (both by Pgh fans and in the media – I think Bucci even said that once, or twice), as it’s clear that his potential is so, freakin’, vast.

    Going to be really interesting this year to see how the top three lines roll out with the expected change of Stall to second line center. Obviously a little concerned with the talk of “setbacks” regarding his foot injury/surgery (hoping for an offical update today), but here’s hoping he’s fine by the end of training camp. If there is any way possible for him to start the season, he’ll be there – the dude is an ironman.

    Game on.

  12. Deirdre says:

    I wish the Staal down in here in NC had half the grit of his brother. Seriously, how are these two from the same family? I’m hoping Eric might have to straighten up and play smart now that little brother Jared is on the team as well.

  13. Neil says:

    I’ll second the Dave Bolland nomination but I’ve always thought he’d grow into the number 2 spot a la Ryan Kesler (I think he still will). I think Jochen Hecht is perpetually underrated. Sammy Pahlson’s best years are behind him but not by much. John Madden is probably my top choice (I couldn’t believe how little coverage his trade from NJ to CHI got. 3rd Stanley Cup, no biggie), gotta put Kris Draper up there to although he’s gettin old too. Then there’s the guys on the score-by-committee teams that arguably aren’t really “third line centers” like Steen and Goc. Anyways… I’d probably take all those guys before Nielsen if we’re talking 1 year deals.

    Congrats on the busy schedule this year Bourne!

    So who do you I take in the pools this year, Dan Ellis, Mike Smith, or neither because they’ll split the starts? Tampa is going to be damn good, and they play in a division that gives any decent team a 5-10-win head start on everyone else.

  14. Nathan says:

    A guy that played three seasons exclusively as the third line centre isn’t a “third line centre”? I know what you’re saying, but he’s been the perfect third line centre (on a ‘Stanley Cup team’ he’s a very borderline (they’d be looking to upgrade) 2nd line, on a ‘non-playoff/borderline team, he’s a 2nd line centre). When Crosby and Malkin went down for extended periods the last two seasons, he did not flourish as the 2nd line centre, and him centering two ‘scoring line’ wingers did not produce offensive results for him.

    “I think to answer that question you have to look at the teams individually. ”

    I think we’re in agreement here, look at the teams individually.

    Sherry, it’s two (a)’s, not two (l)’s in their name.

  15. Sherry says:

    o.m.g., how embarrassing. I *did* know that in some remote part of my brain, just didn’t execute. Thanks for saving me futher embarrassment Nathan.

    Soooooo, you’re not a big Staal supporter (as a second line center) then, is that it?… I don’t know, a lot of the team seemed a bit “off” (nice, technical term there) last year, and I am looking for them to better rested, more focused, and much better execution-wise this year. I think this season will say a lot about Staal (and others), and I’m looking forward to seeing him rise to the challenge.

  16. crushasaurus says:

    Right here, brotha!

  17. crushasaurus says:

    I have a feeling that BizNasty’s return may start becoming old rather fast. I mean, he’s human, he knows that the media lap his shenanigans up and he knows that the more he does it, the more positive light is shed on him from bloggers and MSM. It used to be a natural process where he’d do stupid stuff and we’d all laugh, but I have this horrible feeling we’re going to see a rise in quantity and decline in quality, tweet-wise, from our favourite Jersey Shore lookalike.

    I bloody hope not though.

  18. Nathan says:

    Sherry, In the past three years, no, I don’t think he would’ve made a good scoring line centre (though look around the league though at other team’s centre positions, and I would gladly take him over even some 1st line centres), taking into account how he fared when put in that position. Having said that, each year a player gets better and understands the game more and more, and this season with a guy like Malkin on his wing, and other added offensive responsibility (powerplay) will only make him fit better into that position. He was amazing defensively when he came into the league, but I think his development would’ve definitely been a bit hampered had he been counted on to score more often than not.

    So in the past I think no, but with the past and this season’s circumstances I think he’s definitely he’s grown into it, and if not, that would be very disappointing.

    This season is gonna be fun.

  19. Sherry says:

    Agreed Nathan (good god the season can’t get going fast enough!). I am pretty excited as I have arranged a trip to the Burgh (I live in San Diego) with my mom and brother (San Diego and LA) to see the Pens play at CONSOL at the end of Oct. Pins and needles!

  20. Nathan says:

    Awesome! Were you able to see a game at the Igloo? My brother a Flames fan and I were able to get there from BC in March ’09 for a Penguins/Flames game – 2-0 with a Hal Gill slapper after getting out of the penalty box.

    Next is to see the Consol with my brother-in-law who’s a Steelers fan. He went to Pittsburgh for a Steelers game in ’09 also. So Pittsburgh won two major championships the year we both went to visit, which is obviously a sign and an omen.

  21. Sherry says:

    Caught a game at the Igloo last year (was visiting some friends in Buffalo with my daughter, and dragged the mom – we both adopted our daughters in China at the same time and have been friends since) down to Pgh for an overnight (moms on a road trip – woo hoo! Good lord was I hungover the next day…) just to see the Pens play (also, used to live in Pgh and wanted to get back to the Igloo before it was gone). The game sucked (Devils, Oct 24), but we had seats 3 rows off the ice, so that was pretty cool (I could not believe the speed and “violence” of the game having never been that close at the NHL level).

    Yea, I’m a Steelers fan too (yikes, the beginning of this season could be a nightmare!). I’ve arranged this visit to specifically coincide with an AWAY Steelers game because last year the Steelers were in town and I *barely* got a hotel room in the city planning over 6 mos in advance (the city was crazy crowded). There will be plenty of TV watching of both Pens and Steelers on this trip tho’.

    Yea, that whole City of Champions thing is pretty darn cool. I think “we” (no longer live there but part of my heart will always be there) have a great chance to do it again with the talent on and management and ownership of both teams (providing Ben can keep his head out of his ass from now on).

    Geez, proably more than you wanted to know… :)

  22. Sherry says:

    Annnnndddd in a last ditch effort to see if you’ve seen this Justin (because I have no effing idea if my tweet replying worked)…


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