Bear with me, hockey fans… In my last blog, I made a couple football predictions – I said the Colts would beat the Jets 24 – 17 with a late pick thrown by Sanzchez: Colts beat the Jets 30 – 17 with a late pick thrown by Sanchez. I also said the Saints would win on a late field goal, 31 – 30: The Saints won on a late field goal, 31 – 28. Damn. I should make this a football blog.
Now that my back has been sufficiently patted, I’ll move on.
Dennis Wideman, a member of my fantasy hockey team, was minus three when he got hit in the face with a puck last night. He celebrated by returning and moving to minus four. I’m celebrating by publicly chastising him on my blog. Dennis Wideman sucks.
Spots 6 – 13 in the Eastern Conference standings are separated by three points right now (55 points to 52 points), with the Senators in 5th, ahead of the pack by five points (60). Unfortunately for Ottawa, they could be on the wrong side of the line come playoffs.
If we bring them into the mix, because lets face it, they are in the mix, that means there’s nine teams vying for four spots. Here’s the who’s out/who’s in predictions, according to my dumb self:
5th, Ottawa Senators, 53 games played, 60 points
As I just alluded to, I don’t like the Sens team this year. They’ve got one of the best lines in the NHL with Spezza and Alfredsson, but that’s really the only leg they’ve got to stand on. Mediocre goaltending, suspect D, and just not enough firepower to get it done (also, they have to play essentially shorthanded when Kovalev is on the ice notgivingafuck for a living). They’ll be in the battle for the eight spot in April.
6th, Philadelphia Flyers, 51 games played, 55 points
Didn’t I just write about them being a scary low seed? Apparently they made a push. Philly is definitely one of the teams who’ll stick, and with the return of Emery, I think they’re looking at the five seed, just high enough to “upset” a then-staggering Buffalo or New Jersey.
7th, New York Rangers, 52 games played, 55 points
I remember thinking the Rangers would finally be one of the leagues top teams this year, but with Torterella proving himself to be more of a yeller/motivator than a guy focused on strategy and keeping his team level, I’m not sure what to think. I can see them getting into playoffs as a seven seed, and, anytime you have a legitimate goaltender in playoffs, you’re going to stress out your opponent. Maybe they can pull it together by then.
8th, Montreal Canadiens, 53 games played, 55 points
I’m calling them “in”, but if I’m wrong anywhere, it’s here. I think we knew they’d be a team fighting for a playoff spot this year, so every night matters. That means they need to stay healthy to squeak in – either way, the Capitals are going to ROLL OVER them if they earn this spot.
9th, Boston Bruins, 51 games played, 54 points
The Bruins will make the playoffs, probably as a six seed, and why not: proven goaltending, some good d-men including shut-down defender and Norris winner Zdeno Chara, and enough pieces up front (when healthy) to put the puck in the net.
10th, New York Islanders, 52 games played, 54 points
My Isles need to fight tooth-and-nail to win every possible point on every possible night, cause it’s a long-shot. Coaching and goaltending are keeping them afloat right now, so two things have to happen down the stretch for them to have any hope (barring trading for Kovalchuk or someone else substantial): The d-corps will have to play way over their collective head (after Streit, their D are basically all 5th/6th d-men on most teams), and the young guns (Tavares, Okposo, Bailey, Moulson) need to find some way to keep/improve their pace as the point-getting gets tougher after Christmas…. It always does. Here’s to hoping!
11th, Florida Panthers, 52 games played, 53 points
Losing David Booth buried the Panthers this year. They’ve actually got a pretty squad over there – not many teams can afford to have a 30 goal guy miss the season (while banking six million of your teams money), especially not perennial strugglers like Florida. Their hopes hinge on him returning sooner than later.
12th, Atlanta Thrashers, 51 games played, 52 points
Only Carolina and Toronto give up more goals than the Thrashers, and they’re talking about trading the major cog in their offensive machine in Ilya Kovalchuk. They need Kari Lehtonen to be who he can be ASAP if they’re to have any hope. Which they don’t have much of.
13th, Tampa Bay Lightning, 51 games played, 52 points
Tampa’s a good team. I mentioned my “Tocchet is a bad coach” theory before, and after a little roster evaluation, I’m even more certain of this. Lecavalier, St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Stamkos, and Tanguay can all play, while they’ve got some good role players, average d-men and good goaltending. I see them battling for that 8th spot with Ottawa and Montreal come April.
That’s all folks! Agree? Disagree? Let’s hear it!
In one of the most epic goaltending performances I’ve ever seen, my ridiculously stacked rec league team generated 70 shots in three 15 minute periods, and scored six times. So kudos to that guy (and keep in mind, “rec league shots” tend to contain an unhealthy dose of breakaways).
A few thoughts from that game, before I move on to the NHL:
- When I decided to pack it in, and hadn’t really played since December, I wondered how long it’d be until I “lost it”, as in, being good. Well, what was the date yesterday? October 14th? So for those of you playing professionally right now, the answer is that it takes somewhere around ten months for the stick to stop feeling like an extension of your hands. Trying to stickhandle last night felt like the puck was a “reaction ball” made of some magnet’s north pole, and I was using a Bauer South Poll Xtreme, Modano curve.
- My rec team had caught a glimpse of my last post. Had the joke not been somewhat exposed in the locker room pre-game, it would have been hilarious that they came out calling for passes in strictly stick taps (commentor “PVeltkamp”: we’re in a small, albeit slightly fake fight – I talked to lots of people about the stick tap. If it doesn’t work, you look like a douche. If it does, you look like a douche, but you have the puck. A general rule to live life by has to be “avoid looking douchey”, doesn’t it?)
- Best two goalie related comments I’ve heard in awhile:
*In regards to a goalie who went down in a pad stack, and didn’t feel like getting up to face the rebound shots, a player referred to this elusive, rarely seen in the wild technique as “look, he’s doing the couch potato!” Just lying on his side, watching TV… with huge gear on.
* In regards to the goalie who so thoroughly dominated my rec league team calling for a timeout to fix his pad, our goalie skated over to the bench, looked over at the other goalie reaching behind himself to do repairs and said “Whassa matter, horseshoe fall outta his ass?”
Annnndddd (more than) enough rec league talk. Onto the NHL.
- I wouldn’t buy Jonas Hiller’s helmet at a second-hand shop (where I assume he found it) for a nickel. I’m willing to bet someone made $900 on that paint job. “OH GODIspilledallthepaint! Fuck it. I don’t have time to start over again”
- I had a reader send me this ebay widget (which he should give me large portions of money for directing traffic to if he sells stuff), and I actually thought it was pretty cool. It ranks the teams in the NHL by conference/division etc. based on how much of their gear sells on ebay. I was surprised at a few of the results (for example, Buffalo sells more gear than Toronto? What planet am I on?). Worth a gander if you’re literally just looking for ways to kill internet time – http://www.terapeak.com/nhl
- I know some reader is going to come back with the exact rule book answer for this comment, which is why I’m writing it. The “intent to blow the whistle” call kills me. It cost me goals as a player, then wasn’t called in the NHL last night.
Basically, when a puck is loose, and you’re trying to put it in, even if you dig it out and score before the whistle, the ref can (and often will) say he had “intent to blow the whistle” before the puck went in. So, the real whistle you hear is just the slightly later, audible version of the whistle that actually counts, the one inside the referee’s head.
Last night, the Rangers jammed around the Kings net, and as the ref clearly goes to blow the whistle, Prospal gets lucky and angle-banks one off Quick’s pad for a goal. They wave it off, then after review, come back to say “the puck went in before the whistle, goal”. Well WTF’s the rule then??
- Speaking of the Rangers, they look sick. If they have a good week, they could be in my top three for USA Today’s Power Ranking next week. Lord knows I need to stop blowing the Caps if they don’t feel like winning games/trading for a goalie.
- Coyotes sent Boedker down? And Turris is already there? I’m unfamiliar with the lineup here, but starting to get to know it better. So what’s goin on here?