Friday, November 15, 2013

10 Minute Misconduct: Pray for Stamkos

steven stamkos injury canada olympics
Steve Yzerman sits alone in a dark room, plotting his next move. "Lord Yzerman", his assistant meekly offers, "a decision must be made. What shall we do about S-s-s-s-s..." He can't bring himself to say the name. Yzerman looks at him with cold, steal eyes. "Bring me the head of young Douglas Hamilton."

1. Steven Stamkos, whhyyyyyyyyyyyyy!? Canada's second-most irreplaceable player next to Sidney Crosby going down in a horrific goal crease collision and breaking his tibia was horrible news. Since entering the league in 2008, Stamkos is tied for the league lead in goals with Alex Ovechkin with 222. The next closest player is Patrick Marleau with 175 (he does it really quietly, doesn't he). Canada is so deep that it isn't catastrophic news, but man it's a bummer.

2. I'm really worried that, as a generation, we are going to be deprived from watching Crosby and Stamkos play together much like older generations were denied seeing Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky play together for far too many high stakes events. The lone time Lemieux and Gretzky played together in a meaningful game, the 1987 Canada Cup, was some of the greatest hockey ever played, and the pair together was absolutely magnificent. Hockey gods, please don't let this travesty happen, grace Stamkos with a Wolverine-like ability to heal and deliver him unto us in time for Sochi.

3. You can't really replace Stamkos, but there are a number of names who can fill in and make an impact. Players once thought of as long shots because of the Olympic size ice, like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, start to look a little more enticing, especially considering they have combined for 43 points. And the door is open for younger guys like Logan Couture, Matt Duchene, Jamie Benn, and Tyler Seguin.

4. It's hilarious that Seguin was booed in his first trip back to Boston after being dealt. Wasn't this the same guy who made Bruins fans chant "Thank you, Kessel!" You know, the same Kessel that has 153 points over the last three seasons, the third most in the NHL.

5. Bruins fans are the worst, which I suppose they can't help considering they are Boston fans, and all Boston fans are the worst. It's amazing what one playoff series can do because I pretty much hate the Bruins as much, if not more, than both the Habs and the Sens right now (and those teams are terribly loathsome).

6. Minnesota is trying to kill Ryan Suter; he leads the league with 29:44 minutes of ice time a game, which is almost two-and-a-half minutes more a game than the next closest player. Over the last three games he has not played less than 35 minutes. He's already broken the 30-minute mark nine times on the season, one shy of his league leading total of 10 from last year. The next closest players only broke 30 minutes four times last season. At his current pace, Suter will finish the year with 2438 minutes. Since the NHL started recording time on ice as an official stat in 1998, only two players have ever played more than 2400 minutes in a season, Brian Leetch (twice) and Nicklas Lidstrom. Mike Yeo, the good Canadian boy he is, must be trying to give the Americans a worn-out version of Suter for the Olympics.

7. If Suter is gassed by the Olympics (doubt it, he's a horse) the US is in trouble because so far the American goalies have proven porous. Only two American starting goalies have a save percentage above the league average mark of .915, Ryan Miller (.916) and Ben Bishop (.930). What looked like a major strength for the US a few years ago with Jonathan Quick (currently hurt, and playing poorly) and Tim Thomas (recently discovered to be a kook, currently terrible) impersonating brick walls, has turned into a major question mark. Cory Schneider is even having trouble winning the No. 1 job from Canadian legend Martin Brodeur.

8. The country with the deepest goaltending so far this season is Finland. Tuukka Rask has a .948 save percentage; Kari Lehtonen has a .929 save percentage; Antti Niemi has a .918 save percentage; and Pekka Rinne has a .917 save percentage. Mercy! The rest of the team doesn't evoke quite as much fear, as Mikko Koivu is the country's leading scorer with only 13 points in 19 games, and the rest of the potential roster is getting older (Olli Jokinen, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, and Sami Salo) or are very young (Mikael Granlund, Aleksander Barkov, and Olli Maatta). Still, with goaltending like the Fins have, don't sleep on them, especially in a short tournament.

9. You can definitely go ahead and sleep on the Czech Republic, however. Sure, Jiri Hudler and Tomas Hertl have started the season on fire (or in Hudler's case, AFLAME... I'll show myself out), David Krejci is consistently solid, and old man Jagr still puts up points, but all that comes undone with Ondrej Pavelec in net. His below average save percentage of .913 is pretty much the best of his career. It'll be fun to watch the Winnipeg media try to defend Pavelec's inevitable blow up while somehow figuring a way to blame Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien.

10. We're officially one month away from HBO's 24/7 featuring the Leafs and Red Wings. But at this rate I'm not sure the Leafs are going to have anyone who isn't injured or suspended to be interviewed.

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