Monday, October 30, 2006

Around the Rink 10.30.06

The Pittsburgh Penguins made the right decision today, saying that Jordan Staal would stay up on the Penguins squad for the entire '06-'07 campaign. Staal has recorded four goals and an assist, with three of the goals coming shorthanded. It may not look impressive in the start, but having a kid that young be so lethal on the PK could help out the Penguins.

Now, as much as my hatred for the Penguins is; I have to think Ray Shero is doing the right thing. Even though both Staal and Evgeni Malkin's contracts will come up at the same time, odds are that Staal won't command as much money as Malkin will, ultimately relieving the Pens of tough decisions. We'll see if this will be good for Staal or not as the season goes on.

Someone turn the lights out a Arena when they leave. The Phoenix Coyotes have been horrendous. They did sign face-off specialist Yanic Perreault to a 1-year deal worth $700k. Perreault is coming of abdomen surgery. While training, Perreault injured himself and required surgery.

Granted, this is a one year thing, but Perreault is really only good in the circle. Outside of it, he's a regular role player. The Coyotes have enough veteran centermen in Jeremy Roenick and Steven Reinprecht, that Perreault really isn't needed. Of course, they would need speed too, and Perreault definitely is lacking that.

There are teams who I don't understand what's going on with them. The Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers are two of them, but the Columbus Blue Jackets are another team that often leaves me scratching my head.

The Jackets, I thought, could have a shot a making the playoffs. Yet, for some unknown reason, they are having issues trying to get some wins out on the ice there. The fact they play once a week could hurt too, but they have talent. They shouldn't be out there not scoring or putting up shots. Against the LA Kings, the Jackets had only 14 shots on goal the whole game. They won 2-0, but for a team with Rick Nash, Nikolai Zherdev, David Vyborny, and Sergei Fedorov, they should be able to muster more that 14 shots; not matter how stingy the defense is.

The ship needs to be righted for the Jackets and quick. A team with that fire power should have more than 19 goals for the season.

I hate that I don't have Center Ice because watching Alex Ovechkin in Hockey Night in Canada was fun. A lot of people are freaking out wondering what's happened, but he's only one point behind where he was last season after 11 games. Ovechkin will get the wheels going again, but he needs something to spark him. I think the Western Canadian road trip did him well and should help him get things started.

Let's be honest, he's a dynamic player and the fact he doesn't leave the Eastern Time Zone the rest of the season. That can only be an asset for a guy who needs is the face of a team. AO will be just fine.

Make sure to check out Face Off Hockey Show each Wednesday at 9 PM ET or if you miss out, check out the Podcast. If you're bored, swing by the Message Board and check out all the neat stuff there.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Around the Rink 10.24.06

It really must suck to be the Chicago Blackhawks right now. They get off to a blistering start, and in one fell swoop during the weekend, fate rears its ugly head. Martin Havlat, who was leading the team with seven goals and 13 points, is out at least two weeks with a sprained knee; Nikolai Khabibulin, who was in a bounce back season, is out at least two weeks with a broken finger; and Michael Handzus, who had three goals and five assists on the top line, is done for the year with a torn MCL and ACL.

You almost had to suspect something was going to go wrong, especially when things for the Blackhawks were doing so well. Havlat's injury history is coming back to haunt him and I suspect that it'll happen again sometime during the season. Should be interesting how the Hawks actually handle this with their stars out; so we'll see what they are truly made of.

Was it any surprise about how quick the clean-out in Philly happened?? First, the firing of Ken Hitchcock and then the resignation of Bobby Clarke almost came as a surprise to some, but plenty in Philly were waiting for someone to get canned. Of course, the thought process was that Clarke would get the hook before Hitchcock, but they both went out at the same time. Now, Paul Holmgren is the interim GM and John Stevens is interim head coach.

Since Ron Hextall left, the big problem for the Flyers was the goaltending. They could never find a solid #1 starter to carry the team throughout the season and in the playoffs. Once that issue is addressed, as well as more mobile defenseman in the line-up, then things should fall into place for the Flyers.

News Flash: The Buffalo Sabres are good. They are on the verge of matching the record of the 1992-93 Toronto Maple Leafs by starting 10-0-0. Not even a Janne Niinimaa promise for the Habs to win can stop the Sabres. But is this a much different team than what we saw last season??

The answer, yes-- yes it is. While the main cogs remain, they are better. The scoring of the Sabres is coming in bunches and they are making the most of their speed, grit, and all-around play, and it's taking them to the top. Ryan Miller is having a Vezina-esque season; and yes I realize we're nine games into the season, but that's how I roll.

In some more injury news, Marian Gaborik is out with a groin injury......again. The Wild will keep Gaborik out for 10-14 days, as not to injure it more-so. With Gaborik's history of a wonky groin, it's better to keep him out and not try to push the injury to much, so they loss him for an extended period of time.

Ethan Moreau could have the worst luck. At the end of the Oilers/Red Wings game, Moreau hit Danny Markov and it looked like they were going to duel, but Moreau pulled up lame when the gloves were dropped. Upon review, when Moreau slapped Markov's helmet; he dislocated his shoulder. Big issue is that it could require surgery and Moreau could miss out on the rest of the regular season. What a way to lose a year.

One of the St. Louis Blues big free agent signings, Jay McKee, will be out up to six weeks after he had surgery on his hand. McKee got hurt, ironically enough, doing what he does best, blocking shots.

That's time for now, but make sure to check out Face Off Hockey Show this Wednesday at 9 PM ET or always on the Podcast. Plus, if you have something to say, say it on our Message Board powered by

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Around the Rink 10.19.06

It's been a while since the last update, but we're back to bring you some of the ins and outs of the hockey world, no matter how inane they may be.

The buzz is still around the Philadelphia Flyers after they got trounced 9-1 by the Buffalo Sabres. The day after, they waived Nolan Baumgartner, Petr Nedved, and Niko Dimitrokos to call up Ben Eager, Alexandre Picard, and Stefan Ruzicka. Nedved, and Dimitrokos cleared waivers and will head across the street to the Philly Phantoms of the AHL, while Baumgartner cleared, but stayed with the Flyers.

Owner Ed Snider still said there's work to be done....and will get done. The main thing about the whole 9-1 game is that the Flyers actually outshot the Sabres 38-37. It seemed like everything the Sabres put on net went in. Even with Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje, there's really no well rounded defenseman, outside of Joni Pitkanen; who's defensive zone coverage is suspect at best.

It's hard for Flyer fans who actually thought this could be a starting point to turn things around, but it seems that it turned out the be the beginning of a nightmare.

The Sabres, Minnesota Wild, and Dallas Stars are the only unbeaten teams in the NHL. Now, the Stars may not be a surprise, but the Wild and Sabres could be. Granted, the Sabres went to the East final, you wonder what the lockerroom would be like after the summer. The Wild are playing amazingly well and putting in plenty of goals, something where they were lacking.

If this trend can continue, you definitely should be on the lookout when it comes to April and beyond. These teams, Sabres and Wild, could be the finalist for the Cup; which would be scary for some, but great for these hockey markets.

Evgeni Malkin made his NHL debut and was the only source of offense for the Pittsburgh Penguins after he poked in a loose puck between Martin Brodeur's legs last night. Of course, the off-ice issues continue with Metallurg suing the Penguins and the NHL trying to get compensation for the loss of the Russian superstar.

Now, many feel this suit and the suits against the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are bunk; but we'll see how this all plays out. For some reason, with these Russian teams hiring American counsel for these suits, I don't think they would file unless they felt that something good could come out of it for their side of things. As always, we'll stay tuned for this.

Don't you think it odd that the minute that Rick DiPietro leaves the crease for the New York Islanders, they get better in front of back-up Mike Dunham?? Dunham is on a tear with a 2-0-1 record and 1.72 GAA. Sad part about this is, Ted Nolan won't pay the hot goalie even if he is leading the teams to victory.

With DiPietro coming back from a groin injury, the woes are going to continue if Deeps can't pick-up the play. I just hope that Nolan realizes who is better if Deeps struggles and Dunham keeps up the torrid pace. Plus, DiPietro will have 14 more seasons to right the ship of the Islanders.


That's all for now, but be sure to check out Face Off Hockey Show every Wednesday at 9 PM ET or anytime you want on the Podcast. Also, be sure to check out FHM's Fantasy Hockey Column every weekday with yours truly doing his part to make your team better. Plus, be sure to stop by the FOHS Message Boards for all the fun stuff happening there.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

NHL Bizarro World

Before I start-- I know, we're only three games or so into the season and I know this trend has a good chance of not continuing, but it's still fascinating, so we'll talk about it.

The fact that the Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, and Atlanta Thrashers are all the tops of there divisions right now proves that parity is a good thing. I think of those three teams, the Blue Jackets' climb is the most spectacular.

While the Wild have been to the playoffs and the Thrashers have been in the hunt showed that those two teams are going to be in the thick of it in the end, especially with the Wild playing in one of, if not the, toughest divisions in the league. The Jackets have never sniffed the post-season and have often been the laughingstock of the league. Who's laughing now??

The Jackets have all their great young stars (Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev) healthy and putting up points, their prodigy goalie Pascal Leclaire is proving he's a #1 in the NHL, and they don't even have their top center in the line-up. The scarier part is that they have a youngster in Gilbert Brule who isn't even playing and they are still getting points on the board. If their healthy last; they could be a threat in the Central Division.

Conversely, teams like the Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, and Nashville Predators have been sucking on ice. Granted, the Flames started out like this last season and went on to win the Northwest Division; but still, they have only scored 4 goals in three games. So much for that new look offense they were betting on.

The Sens and Preds are two elite teams that just don't seem to be clicking as they would hope. The Preds have scoring, but their goaltending hasn't been up to par, while the Sens aren't getting offense in key times and the goaltending right now is suspect at best. I guess missing Zdeno Chara really is a big thing in the grand scheme of things.

Like I said, it's still early and there's 70+ games left to play to decide it; but to have elite teams falter and formerly craptastic teams suceed (at least for the time being) only gives more appeal to the NHL and it's new look.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Opening Nights Thoughts

With all the teams playing their first games so far, it's easy to pick out some stories that are going to be looked at all season. Of course, right now-- it's a matter of how you look at it all, but here's some thing that I'm going to take a look at for the first part of the season.

-I'm sure those who care about the Islanders are under a suicide watch, especially after Rick DiPietro let up 6 goals in under 30 minutes of the Isles 6-3 loss to the Coyotes. Just to think, we're not even a month into the new contract and already it's a huge diasaster.

-If there is a darkhorse for the Rookie of the Year, it could be Anze Kopitar. Kopitar is the first Slovenian to play in the NHL and in his first game, he put up two goals in the 4-3 loss against Anaheim. Kopitar turned some heads in camp and really created a buzz for himself when the time came.

-Dany Heatley showed that someone can succeed when they get a change of scenary. Todd Bertuzzi is proving that theory right again this year. Big Bert put up four points (1g, 3a) in his first home game in Miami. It seems that he's put a lot of his past behind him and he's advancing through it all.

-Are the Buffalo Sabres really for real?? Well, they are certainly proving their critics that last season was no fluke. They have come back in both their wins to win in a shootout. However, the question is now, could they actually win in regulation and have the lead for some time.

-Something I have to say about Thursday night's opener for the Edmonton Oilers is the class they displayed. Instead of getting both teams out on the ice and doing the whole Western Conference banner ceremony, they waited until after warm-ups and unveiled it just for the fans. Very classy move from the team.

We're just about a week into the season and we've already have had some instant classic. Just imagine on how much more we can get for the rest of the season.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Nothing Like Opening Night

I have to say that this opening night was pretty decent, even though it only had three games scheduled. Granted, it'd be hard to top last season's 15 game opening night, but what can you do. The Carolina Hurricanes raised their three banners for the Stanley Cup, SE Division, and Eastern Conference; but they came up short losing to Buffalo in a shootout. Like Marc said on the show tonight, it's hard to tell if the Sabres are the Predators or Penguins in their new uniforms.

The Toronto Maple Leafs saluted three of their own. Hap Day, Red Kelly, and Borje Salming were honored in a pre-game ceremony. Now, I'm all for retirement of numbers, but make it reasonable on time. There's no doubt these players should be honored, but let's try not to take 45 minutes to do the thing, on opening night no less. Suffice to say that the Ottawa Senators weren't hurt, as they beat the Maple Leafs 4-1. Andrew Raycroft, though he made 33 saves, didn't look all that sharp. Patrick Eaves is earning his first line status putting up a goal and assist in the win.

The most exciting game had to be the last one. The Colorado Avalanche and the Dallas Stars looked like a lopsided one when the Avs scored 2 PPGs in a matter of a minute. However, the third was all Stars with former Captain Mike Modano and rookie Loui Eriksson scoring. In OT, after killing penalty, Marty Turco made an INSANE outlet pass to Darryl Sydor who was coming out of the box, and Sydor went roof-daddy on Jose Theodore (who looked solid through the game) and the game was over.

It was little on games, but high on excitement, that's for sure.

Well, it appears the Pittsburgh Penguins have been sold....again. Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie, CEO of Research in Motion; maker of the Blackberry, has reportedly purchased the team for between $160M and $175M. This is after Sam Fingold's bid to buy the team fell through.

The interesting part is that it seems that Balsillie has a vested interest in the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton. Reports have said that Balsillie is willing to pump a whole lot of money to renovate the Coliseum. However, with the partner that is the Isle of Capri to build a new arena should they get a slots license. We'll see how far that goes.

Wherever they end up, the Pens will have a good young core that people would want to see. Fact of the matter is that wherever they end up, they'll get the utmost attention.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Around the Rink 10.02.06

Trades dominate the talk, as the New Jersey Devils traded away one of their albatrosses. The Devils traded Vladimir Malakhov and his $3.6M contract to the San Jose Sharks for Alexander Korolyuk and Jim Fahey. Oddly enough, I found an article today from Sport-Express in Russia, where Malakhov said he is happy to be retired. Also, Korolyuk is lost for the season, as he has played in the Russian League already.

I don't know how he does it, but Lou Lamoriello finds a way to get out of jams, quick. With this move and the possible move that sees Alexander Mogilny's salary wrote off to injury, Sweet Lou has possibly gotten his cap number from somewhere at $46M to $38M in one fell swoop. Not only that-- they get a young defenseman like Fahey, who will in time, be a solid defender.

More defensemen were on the move, as the Carolina Hurricanes traded the rights to Jack Johnson and Oleg Tverdovsky to the Los Angeles Kings for Tim Gleason and Eric Belanger. Johnson had been persued by the Canes to leave college early three times, but did not budge.

You'll hear differing opinions, but this a deal that helps both teams. In the short term, the Canes get rid of the $2.5M contract of Tverdovsky, and get a solid d-man in Tim Gleason out of it. With Frantisek Kaberle out for up to 6 months, the help will be truly needed. For the long term, the Kings could have won out with Jack Johnson, should he turn into the player everyone assumes he'll be. This is a trade where we'll have to wait and see.

In a trade that is odd to so many people, the Montreal Canadiens traded Mike Ribeiro to the Dallas Stars for Janne Niinimaa. Niinimaa was the 8th defenseman for the Stars, while Ribeiro is the 2nd line center for the Habs.

There are some Hab fans that are happy, but why give up a 2nd line center for a guy who will probably be in the press booth more than he's on the ice?? I don't see why you may give up so much for so little, but I guess that's why I'm not a GM in the league.

That's it for now, remember to check out Face Off Hockey Show every Wednesday night at 9 PM ET. If you can't make it live, you can always check out our Podcast for anything you may have missed.