Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Season of Change: Is the Old Guard Done?

roberto luongo cory schneider
The old superpowers of the NHL crumbled in the first round of the playoffs and the league is undergoing a changing of the guard. Gone are the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Chicago Blackhawks, three of the past four Stanley Cup winners. Presidents' Trophy winners like the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks have joined them in searching for early tee off times. In their place, teams green to the upper echelon of the NHL like the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators.

This off-season represents an important crossroads for many of the former elite squads. Aging rosters are beginning to show cracks, especially when compared to the younger and hungrier rosters that bounced them. It isn't full-time panic mode for any of the teams, but moves must be made for each to remain competitive going forward.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Couturier's Sneaky Good Rookie Season

A smile only a hockey fan could love.
Despite my outward hatred for the Flyers, I have a secret to confess: They have a really likeable team. It is a team that has everything: size, speed, power, and finesse. Well, everything except goaltending that is. The only thing that isn’t likeable about them is that they are THE PHILADELPHIA FLYERS! Satan’s henchmen, I say.

But temporarily putting aside how loathsome the Flyers are as an entity, their players are awesome to watch.

Claude Giroux is fantastic, both offensively and defensively. He’s a great centreman, which is even more impressive considering he isn't your prototypical hulking centre. Philly could have 10 Zac Rinaldos and they would still be secretly likeable if they still had one Claude Giroux.

Wayne Simmonds is a big, strong, power-forward, who goes to the dirty areas and has even scored a goal with his face. I’m convinced that the only hockey player (not goon) that can counter Milan Lucic is Simmonds. We might even get to see that play out in round 2.

Danny Briere is a big-game, money player, which is always a cool narrative to see actually play out, unlike other “big-game” players (hint: Marc-Andre Fleury) that are only clutch in reputation.

Plus, they have Schenn the Good, or Good Schenn, depending on your dialect. Sure, watching him makes me a little sad on the inside as Nazem Kadri rots in the minors and Luke Schenn gets crushed by all the buses he’s under, but that doesn’t deter me from cheering for Brayden.

But the player that has most impressed me is Sean Couturier. It’s amazing to think the Blue Jackets traded both Couturier and Jakub Voracek for a couple months of Jeff Carter—a couple of injury-filled, petulant, unproductive months.

Read my latest post at The Good Point to find out what young Couturier has done to win me over.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Violence of the 1970s Returns to NHL Playoffs

sidney crosby claude giroux fight
The NHL playoffs have turned into a prison riot. As the referees started the post-season with their whistles in their pockets, the players took the opportunity to gain the upper hand by any means necessary. Now the inmates are running the prison and the guards are helpless to do anything about it.

There has already been 11 fights through the first few games of the playoffs. There were only 12 all of last year.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

2012 Alternative NHL Awards

wayne gretzky awards
The playoffs are already under way and by all indications it will be filled with plenty of drama to keep people up late into the night following double and triple OTs. But before the playoffs progress too much further it's time to hand out some awards from the regular season.

Evgeni Malkin might have the Hart Trophy locked up, but he's yet to win an Alternative NHL Award.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2011-12 Fantasy Hockey Players of the Year

Once bitten, twice shy. That's what fantasy owners who drafted Ilya Kovalchuk last year thought as they passed on the talented sniper before their 2011-12 draft. That's too bad because Kovalchuk had a major bounce-back year and some other owner reaped the reward. Fantasy hockey, like life, isn't always fair.

Fantasy hockey isn't always about drafting the best player in the first round either. You're supposed to hit a home run in the first round. It's more important not to whiff badly in the first round because it's a lot harder to win when the player you expected to hit 80+ points ends up with 30.

Sometimes you can make up for a poor start to the draft by having a few sleepers pan out or dominating the waiver wire. Pulling out a 70-point player or a 30-win goalie from the final few rounds of the draft makes you the Detroit Red Wings of your league of nerds, which means you were likely at the top of the standings.

However you did it, there are players to thank, for good or for bad. It's time to honour the players that helped you win your pool and condemn those that made sure you lost. Here are the best and worst fantasy hockey players from 2011-12.

All draft stats are taken from Yahoo! There could be some differences depending on the league you played, but for the most part they should be comparable.

Monday, April 9, 2012

2012 Torontonian Guide to the Playoffs

mark recchi bruins stanley cup
Some drink to celebrate; Leafs fans drink to forget.
This was a column I planned on retiring. For the first five months of the season it looked like I might get that chance. Then the Leafs went into an unprecedented tailspin­—described by Brian Burke as a 18-wheeler going over the cliff, but really more like if that 18-wheeler was carrying a nuclear warhead and decimated the entire city of Toronto on impact.

If you've totally given up on hockey and decided to become a widow until you get some irrational pre-season hope, I don't blame you. Baseball is here and the Blue Jays were a Spring Training juggernaut, which everyone knows is a guarantee for success (spring optimism!). Throw yourself head first into baseball and never look back.

If the only amount of interest you can muster is for the money you dream of winning in your playoff pool, well you might prefer to read this.

For the brave souls that wish to watch playoff hockey and need to find some team to give your temporary loyalty, while still letting those abusive Maple Leafs keep your heart, I present the 2012 Torontonian Guide to the Playoffs.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Breaking Down the NHL Playoff System

It is no secret that I'm not a big fan of the NHL's southern expansion. Call me old fashioned but putting ice in a desert just sounds stupid. Accordingly, anytime one of these southern teams does something, or is involved in something moronic I use it as fuel for my hate.

Today the Florida Panthers are grinding my gears. Have they seriously not clinched a playoff spot yet? And we're holding the No. 3 seed for them just in case they decide to back their way into the playoffs? Man, that's a flawed system.

Check out today's post at The Good Point to see why the NHL needs to revamp their playoff system.
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