yankee hockey

RETURN OF THE NATIVE

Posted in New Jersey, This Weeks Questions, Veterans by yankhockey on January 12, 2009

Right now, as we speak, Brendan Shanahan is working on a contract that would bring him back into the game with the Devils. This is too too long in coming. Shanahan is one of the better players to play the game. He was a huge part in Detroit’s Stanley Cups back in the 90s. He is a player of incredible skill, grit, and intelligence, as well as being one of the better leaders in the game. He has 1340 points in his career, and still managed to sneak 25 pucks past goalies last year despite his his age. This isn’t a Sundin situation where Shanahan decided to sit out a good portion of the year, he’s been trying to get a contract since the beginning of the season and no one has given him a sniff.

Shanahan is just too good, and too important, to have been left hanging this long. There were certainly some requirements he had that limited the teams that could go after him, such as wanting to be near his family on the east coast, but there were plenty of teams that that could have snagged him. It’s not surprising to me that he appears to be headed to New Jersey. Back when he made himself available I suggested New Jersey as his likely destination. I knew they had some cap room, as well as a need for some extra goal scoring. If they manage to get him under contract they’ve done good, but why did they wait so long?

It’s not like they believed they would have goaltender Brodeur back early from his injury, it’s not like they didn’t know what kind of offense they were icing. They’ve been aware that both Shanahan was available, and that he was a perfect fit, for quite some time now. But now it’s the second week of January, and only now have they begun to hash out a contract with him.

Now, there’s could be a lot here that I am not privy to. There could have been attempts months ago to get him under contract and for whatever reason Shanahan was not interested at the time. There had been rumours that Shanahan was looking into going to St Louis, and that St Louis would have liked to have him aboard, and that may have stayed his hand for a bit. It may be that New Jersey came to him with an offer that he didn’t like, and thought he could get a better one somewhere else, only to find out that that was not the case. So it isn’t necessarily New Jersey’s fault for taking this long, but for those of us watching from the sidelines, as many Devils’ fans are, it sure seems that way.

What Shanahan will bring won’t be measured in point producing. He’s been out for a long time, and as good as he still is, it’s going to take some time to get accustomed to game again. Fans will have to be patient while he gets his hockey legs back. They’ll have to accept what he can bring, some assists, the occasional goal, and let he become acclimated to the ice again. Eventually they’ll see a change in this team thanks to Shanny. They’ll see his leadership and experience rub off on the younger players, and his cool, collected nature influencing  the vets. With Shanahan, and the eventual return of Brodeur, the Devils will be a force to contend with in the post season again this year

THIS WEEK’S QUESTIONS:

Will Sundin win some games for the Canucks? Will Boston still be the top team in the league come the All-Star break? Will the All-Star Game ruin a perfectly good week that could have been filled with actual hockey? Will the experience the young players in the NHL got during the World Juniors improve their play in the pros?


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CAPTAIN BLOOD

Posted in Retired Jerseys, Vancouver, Veterans, Washington, What Going Right by yankhockey on December 17, 2008

I would really like to delay this post, maybe skip today and do a special Thursday post, or wait until Friday’s, but with the Mats Sundin soap opera supposedly ending on Thursday there is just too much about to happen to delay today’s post.

I want to delay today’s post because the topic hasn’t occurred yet. Unless you’re reading it after seven on Wednesday the 16th of December in which case it’s certainly already happened, but not for me now in the present… Ok, temporal mechanics make everything more complicated so I’ll just stick with it hasn’t happened yet.

Tonight, before the Canucks take on the Oilers in Vancouver, the most worthwhile event to take place so far this year in the NHL will occur; the retirement of Trevor Linden’s number 16. For those of you unfamiliar with Trevor Linden he is possibly the most significant player in Canucks’ history. Yes, I’m aware of Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny, Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi, and Kirk McLean. They even had Mark Messier for a moment. But none of those players can hold a candle to Trevor Linden in Vancouver.

Trevor Linden was the second overall pick (after Mike Modano) in the 1988 draft. He quickly won the hearts of the fans with his skill, but more importantly, his heart and spirit for the game. At age 21 he was made their captain. In 1994, thanks in large part to his stellar post-season play and leadership, he brought the Canucks to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals, losing to the NY Rangers 3-2 (both goals being Linden’s). He gained the nickname “Captain Canuck”.

A few years down the road there were problems for Linden in Vancouver. New coach Mike Keenan didn’t take to his presence and made things difficult for Linden. Then they brought in Mark Messier, who only a few years earlier had been instrumental in beating the Canucks for the Cup. Linden was forced to give up his ‘C’ to Messier, an act many fans saw as sacrilege. Then came what is still known in Vancouver as “The Trade”.

In 1998 Linden was sent to the Islanders for Bertuzzi and Bryan McCabe. This was a different Canucks team now. Bure wanted out, Linden and McClean were gone, and the shuffle would cost the Canucks in the short run. After a bunch of disappointing seasons finishing out of the playoff race, Keenan was out, Marc Crawford was in, and Markus Naslund was captain. Meanwhile Linden found himself captain again in Long Island, where he once again was a fan favorite. Still, his heart belonged to Vancouver, a city he adopted as his own. The charities he began there he continued to run, he continued to visit hospitals there, make appearances where he was needed like a super-hero. To Vancouver fans he was still a member of their family, still Captain Canuck.

The Canucks were doing well again, with Naslund-Bertuzzi-Brendan Morrison making up the highest scoring front line in the league, the West Coast Express. In 2001 Linden was playing for the Washington Capitals after coming over from the Montreal Canadiens, four teams in only four years. Having trouble finding his scoring touch in Washington, the Capitals were happy to trade Linden, something the Canucks took advantage of. Canucks GM Brian Burke sent a first round pick toward Washington, and in exchange got Linden back in Vancouver. To say Canucks fans were excited would have been an understatement, Captain Canuck was back in town!

Back in Vancouver his scoring touch returned as he began to light the lamp with more regularity then he had in years. You could tell he was playing the game where he was meant to be. He played five more seasons with the Canucks, setting records for goals scored, assists, games played, and playoff points. The highlight of his return may have been game seven of the 2006-2007 playoffs against Dallas. In a hard fought and stingy series (Turco shut out the Canucks three times) Linden came out skating in that seventh game, scoring two goals, including the series clincher. He was the hero of the Canucks, as if the fans needed to be reminded.

After a 2007-2008 season where he put up small numbers, and which everyone agrees he was under-utilized, Linden retired, announcing it in the dignified and humble manner he had always held himself during all the years he was playing.

Linden was more then just Captain Canuck, he was respected league wide. He was made president of the NHLPA, a title he held for nine years which still hasn’t been refilled. He has gotten accolades not just in Vancouver but around the league for his charitable work. There isn’t a player or coach in the league (well, maybe Mike Keenan) who wouldn’t praise him on his leadership abilities, not to mention his hockey skills.

Linden loved the game. That’s what he brought more then anything. Every team he played for he got outscored by other players. While Bure was scoring 60 goals, he was scoring 30, while he was struggling in Washington, Peter Bondra was scoring 81 points. Still, regardless of where he played people loved and respected him. The reason is he played with heart. You hear that a lot, especially from hockey fans. You want a guy who plays with heart. You wanna know why Boston traded Joe Thornton? He didn’t play with heart. You wanna know why gritty guys who are missing teeth and can’t score a goal to save their lives get played over talented AHL scorers? They play with heart. Heart is a good commodity to have in the NHL and Linden had it in bunches.

Vancouver isn’t a team with a lot of history. If you don’t count their very sad 7th Man promotion (which has already been discontinued for reasons of stupidity), they only have one number retired; Stan “The Steamer” Smyl. Of all the players that have played for them, other then Linden, only two other names come to mind for possible future  honors; The Russian Rocket Pavel Bure, and former scapegoat and holder of all their points records Markus Naslund. Linden deserves the honor more then either of them. More even then Stan Smyl, though Smyl certainly should be up there. Linden was the very spirit of Vancouver hockey, even when he was no longer playing in Vancouver. And don’t think that just because he is retired that that has changed at all. Vancouver fans still hold a torch for this guy, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. I’d go so far as to say that Linden is to Vancouver what Gordie Howe is to Detroit, or Bobby Orr is to Chicago. Linden is that guy in Vancouver, the guy you tell your kids you saw play, the guy whose jersey you still wear long after they are gone, the guy who you think of when you think of hockey. This jersey retirement isn’t a promotion, it isn’t a gimmick, it’s exactly what the entire process of retiring numbers was created for, honoring those who have done what no other player could ever do again. So congratulations Trevor Linden, and Vancouver fans everywhere.

WHAT’S GOING RIGHT:

I’m sorry all your loyal Canadian (not Canadiens) fans out there. This argument has to stop, and I know you won’t like the result. Alexander Ovechkin is better then Sydney Crosby. I mean, like, WAY better. Crosby is a phenomenal player, he’s incredible. He reminds me very much of the man he used to play with, Mario Lemiuex, who is certainly in the top ten all time. But Ovechkin is just incredible. He’s more exciting, he’s more dynamic, he’s a bloody powder keg that can skate like Bobby Orr, shoot like Joe Sakic, hit like Scott Stevens, and stun you like a modern day Maurice Richard. I watched his team play the Islanders last night. He scored a gimme goal earlier in the game which looked like it would be the game winner until the Islanders tied it up late. Then in overtime he pushed his way just below the face-off dot and let loose a powerful and sneaky backhand that just went off the post and out. “Wow,” I thought, “What a play.” Then, less then a minute later he was back in. He slid into the middle and snapped a shot into the upper part of the net I just couldn’t believe. And the scary part is… he does that kind of stuff all the time! It’s not lucky or a fluke, he’s good. He’s really good. I’m willing to put forth that he is the best. Sorry Crosby, you’re just not that good.

INVISIBLE MAN

Posted in Carolina, Players, Surprise of the Week, Veterans by yankhockey on December 12, 2008

(Note: Today’s post will include many references to a particular player as black. I will be using this term instead of African-American for two reasons. The first reason is that I believe that the term African-American perpetuates the idea that there is a separation of peoples because of ancestry, which I strongly disagree with, while I believe the term black is a statement of cultural identity. Further more, the term African-American does not even come close to expressing the many African ethnicities that exist. Sadly due to the inhumane and tragic nature of the crossing of their ancestors, most black Americans have no idea what particular peoples they are descendant from. I do feel that every person should be proud of their background, and that any person who is intolerant to another simply because of color, gender, ancestry, or belief, is ignorant and immoral. We are one people as they say, and the fact that members of modern society still can’t figure that out saddens me to no end. The other reason I won’t be using the term African-American is that the man at the center of today’s entry is, in fact, Canadian.)

You might remember I made passing reference to a man named Willie O’Ree in my last entry. O’Ree was the first black player to play in the NHL in 1958 when Boston called him up from the Quebec Hockey League to replace an injured player.. He actually was not the first black player to sign an NHL contract, that being Art Dorrington in 1950 who signed with the Rangers.

Willie O’Ree is often called the NHL’s Jackie Robinson because he broke the colour barrier, or at least that’s what they say. It’s true that before him no black player played in the NHL, and it’s true that he came into the league eight years after Robinson came into baseball, but I’ve always wondered if there was an actual barrier in hockey, or if he simply was the first black hockey player good enough to get the chance.

Certainly there was racism in hockey. O’Ree himself said that he experienced racism on and off the ice. Even today there is racism in hockey. Sean Avery has been accused of making racial slurs towards black players, and anyone who has perused comments on hockey message boards on the internet has read their fair share of disgusting comments from ignorant bastards. The thing is, when O’Ree played his first game, as monumental as it was, there was much less interest in it nationally then there was for Robinson. It could be that, hockey being a niche sport, not enough people gave a shit. Or, it could be that, unlike Robinson, O’Ree had not previously been barred from playing in the NHL, so when he stepped on the ice he wasn’t breaking a barrier, he was just like the first Swede, Finn, or Russian to play.

I was not there, my father was 2 years old, my mother not even born, so I couldn’t say what the people in the arena must have felt when they saw O’Ree playing for the first time. Maybe it’s just a bit of optimism on my part, but I like to think it was similar to earlier this year when Jannick Hansen of the Vancouver Canucks played against Frans Nielsen of the NY Islanders marking the first time two Danish born players played against each other. I like to imagine that, like me when I heard about Hansen and Nielsen, fans were interested, but not shocked or dismayed.

Hockey has often been called a white man’s sport, sometimes in jest, sometimes in all seriousness, and in a way it kind of is. But hockey is not the most accessible of sports. Until recently it could only be played in certain regions only during certain times of the year. And until recently, with so few teams to play for, very few people got the opportunity to play in the NHL, white or black.

Willie O’Ree got that opportunity in the Original Six era not as a gimmick, but as a mighty skilled player. How skilled was he? He was so skilled that he played nearly his entire career blind in one eye after an accident with a puck early on, and not a single teammate or coach suspected. He was so skilled that he played 45 games for the Bruins, scoring 14 points, all against the best players in the world at the time. He was so skilled that his number has been retired by the San Diego Gulls, the team he was playing for when he retired. He wasn’t only a skilled player though, he was a great man too. He has been described by former teammates as one of the kindest, smartest, most admirable individuals they had ever met. He has often acted as ambassador to the game, and the NHL has put him in charge of youth development for their diversity task force. Not just because of who he was, but because of who he is. It was only his quiet humble nature that continues to keep his profile  so low.

Sports are often the most progressive force in matters of tolerance. I believe this is for two reasons: One, the goal of sports is to put the best team you possibly can into play. If this means signing a black player, or Asian player,  or Native American, then you sign that person before someone else does regardless of your beliefs. The other reason is that sports are universal. Go anywhere in the world and you’ll find sports being played. It’s not a European invention, or an African invention, it’s a human invention. You might be surprised to find that it doesn’t matter where you travel in the world, sports are being played with remarkably similar rules. It doesn’t matter what your background is, everybody loves sports.

Because of this I find there to be surprisingly few black players in the NHL, but I don’t believe it is because of an effort to keep them out. There are a lot of players fighting for positions in NHL teams, and many of these players come from European countries like Sweden and Finland that are very homogeneous. Still, the black players that are and have been in the league prove beyond a doubt that it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, anyone can play this game.

Willie O’Ree has the honor of being the first, and a more deserving man there may not be, but he was just the beginning. Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr played some amazing goal for the dynasty Oilers and deserved all the accolades he got. Jarome Iginla, who’s father was a native African of the Yoruba tribe, is the captain and face of the Calgary Flames. There are not many players in the league who are as respected or feared as Iginla. Rookie Kyle Okposo’s father was native Nigerian as well. There are even two native Nigerians associated with the NHL. Rumun Ndur was the first Nigerian to play in the NHL, playing for the Sabres, Rangers, and Thrashers, and Akim Aliu, born in Okene, Nigeria, was drafted 56th overall by the Blackhawks, whose fans are really looking forward to seeing this kid play in their sweater. In fact… here you go, a whole page on Wikipedia dedicated to African hockey players.

Race and racism is an uncomfortable topic to tackle. The previous entry was not meant to say “Hey look, blacks can play too!” It was meant to say “SHUT-UP!” to anyone who thinks differently. I guess the message is we all can play, we all can watch, because hockey such a wonderful exciting game, given half the chance, anyone would fall in love with it.

SURPRISE OF THE WEEK:

So Carolina is up 5-1 against the Flyers going into the third period. 5-1… a four goal lead… with twenty minutes left to play… and then they lost 6-5 in a shoot-out. Wow! Way to go Philly. But the real surprise is when I found out that Carolina’s mascot is, are you ready for this?: Stormy the Ice Hog. Yeah, that’s right, the Ice Hog. ‘Scuse me? According to my sources (read:Wikipedia), Stormy is a hog because of the abundance of pig farms in Carolina. Really? That’s what Carolina wants to be represented as? They couldn’t come up with some sort of anthropomorphic cyclone? Let’s see what other stupid mascots we can find. Kings have a lion… king of the jungle, ok. Toronto has a polar bear? Does Toronto even need a mascot? Calgary has a dog? You know, this is becoming a post all of it’s own so I’m going to stop here. But seriously… an ice hog?

3’S COMPANY plus VANCOUVER GOES BACK IN TIME

Posted in Chicago, Players, Retired Jerseys, Surprise of the Week, third jersey, Vancouver, Veterans by yankhockey on November 14, 2008

On Thursday the Chicago Blackhawks lifted number 3 into the rafters. They did this to honor two of the great defensemen in their history, Pierre Pilote and Keith Magnuson. Pilote played 13 seasons with the Blackhawks, and Magnuson 11. In total they scored just 637 points in the NHL, but that only proves that statistics tell only part of the story.

Pilote was an incredible defensemen, one of the best of his day. He won the Norris trophy three years in a row, and in an era of low scoring defensemen put up decent point totals his entire career. In 1961 he helped his team win the Stanely Cup. The next year he was appointed captain, an honor he would have for the next eight years. He was considered, even during his time, one of the more epic defensemen the game had seen. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969.

Magnuson was less of an offensive threat, he was really just a threat. In a period of play where big bruisers dominated the game, he was one of the most feared. He had only 14 goals in 11 seasons, but a whopping 1400 penalty minutes. His gutsy play, and leadership on and off the ice led him to be named captain in 1976, a title he would hold for three years. Though he never won a Norris trophy, nor a Stanely Cup, he helped the ‘Hawks reach the finals twice, and defined an era of Blackhawks’ hockey.

Pilote was there for the honor, unfortunately Magnuson was killed three years ago in a car crash. Both of these men were loved in Chicago, heroes in their own right. It is not for me to say anything bad about these two, or to imply that this honor was not well deserved. However I feel that the tradition of retiring numbers has become less and less exclusive these days. If you look at the history of retired numbers, until the 90s you didn’t get too many a year, if at all. Suddenly we’re having them by the truckload. This season we are having seven numbers retired. SEVEN. How can anyone feel like this is a truly exclusive, rare honor, with so many numbers going up into the rafters. Certainly these men do deserve to be honored, and Magnuson’s memory especially, but the last time either man played for this team was 1980, 28 years ago. You’d have to think if Blackhawk nation really felt that 3 should go up to the rafters that they would have put it up there already. Well, it’s made many Chicagoans happy so there’s just not much to criticize.

THIRD JERSEYS KEEP-A-ROLLIN’ OUT:

Vancouver released their third jerseys last night, and I wish there was a lot to say about them, but we’ve seen it all before. I feel for Vancouver, I really do. In the entire history of this franchise they haven’t found one decent logo. They love the stick-in-rink logo because it’s the closest thing they’ve had to a worthwhile insignia. The colors are great. I really think the blue and green says Vancouver, as well as being acceptable colors for hockey anyway. The logos they’ve trotted out over the years? Not so much. How great would they look with just a V? And I don’t mean that horrible black orange and yellow garbage they put out in the early 80s. I mean like the old Vancouver Millionaires that won the cup way back in the teens. Not only that, but burgundy and white are cool hockey colors too. There is actually one really awesome thing that came with these jerseys: Luongo’s new helmet (scroll through at take a look). Holy shit that looks awesome! He needs to wear that all the bloody time.

WHAT THE HELL ESPN:

Remember that article I wrote about goal scoring being up? Well it appeared on the ESPN hockey homepage yesterday with Pierre LeBrun as the author. Check it out. Not only is it the same subject, he even notes the exact same reasons I did for why hockey scoring has been up this year. He has one advantage, he gets to actually interview hockey players so he can quote them saying what I said. Like I said ESPN, if you want to use my writing on your site, just hire me. I’m sure I come cheaper then Mr. LeBrun.

THIS WEEKS SURPRISE:

I’d love to say Brian Burke stepping down as GM of the Ducks is a surprise, but anyone who follows hockey has seen that coming since summer. Roberto Luongo setting the franchise mark for shut-out minutes? No, that’s not a surprise, he broke his own record he set last year. How about the fact that so far, since they began testing, five players in the KHL have been found to have heart defects? That’s a helluva lot of players. I wonder if the NHL does similar testing. You can’t assume this is a local phenomenon in Russia, certainly some players here must have some possible problems as well. Of course, the danger is, can you allow someone with a heart defect to continue to play hockey? Certainly there have had to be many players, many good players too, who have played entire careers with heart defects. It’s very hard to say exactly what kinds of problems a heart defect can cause. There are different levels of heart defects, many of them somewhat benign. There are a lot of us sitting at our computers reading (or typing) this right now who were born with minor defects we aren’t even aware of. This will become on issue of rights of privacy because insurance companies will be wary of insuring hockey players with defects, even if those defects would never cause a life threatening condition. But at the same time, are we obligated to protect our players? We can only hope we won’t see any more deaths or the end of any careers, because if we do there may be sweeping changes that began to infringe on the rights of our hockey players.

SENIOR MOVEMENT

Posted in Philadelphia, Surprise of the Week, Veterans by yankhockey on October 24, 2008

I already gave some love to the youngsters in the league, but they aren’t alone in making an impact. There have been a few veterans this year who have shown that they can still play the game. A few vets have even shown that they can still be on the top of their game. Here are five players over 35 who are creating a real buzz in the NHL this year.

Keith Tkatchuk age 36: It’s been more then ten years since Tkachuk has scored 40 or more goals. This year, seven goals in six games. Are you kidding me? Keith Tkachuk? This isn’t the same Keith Tkachuk that arrived in training camp out of shape a couple of years ago, this is a Keith Tkachuk that aims to be one of the best players in the league again. Right now he’s on pace to beat Gretzky’s single season scoring record. Not that I believe he’ll even come close, but wouldn’t it be exciting if he could manage 50-in-50? I remember a commercial for hockey, possibly for a video game, where Tkachuk described his name as the sound of a puck hitting the back of the net. Well goaltenders, that’s true again this year, so be careful when playing against the Blues.

Joe Sakic age 39: Burnaby Joe Sakic has never had a bad season in his entire career. With eight points in seven games this year it doesn’t look like he plans on slowing down. He still has the most glorius wrist shot in the league. He’s still the scariest player on the Avalanche, and that’s saying a lot. This guy has been the face of the franchise since it was The Nordiques! In an age of heavy player movement, that’s is truly the most incredible part of his glorious career. I truly believe that this is Sakic’s last year, and not because he’s too old to play, but because I think he wants to move into the off-ice part of his career. Not only that, he doesn’t want to be like Brett Hull and go out with a whimper. If this is his last season he’s going to want to be huge.

Rob Brind’Amour age 38: With three goals and one assist in five games, Brind’Amour is poised to have yet another season of over achieving. The thing about Brind’Amour is that he’s been a pretty solid point producer his entire career, with a few off years, but no one really gives him much credit. At 38 he should be on the decline of his career, but this guy never declines. He won’t score more then 82 points, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a big part of this team if the Hurricanes are going to go to the post-season this year. He’s the best leader this team has had and there will be a large vacuum when he departs, but that won’t be for a couple seasons I’m sure, so he’ll have time to groom another.

Niklas Lidstrom age 38: I remember reading about how, when Olympic hockey comes to Vancouver in 2010, Lidstrom was going to be 40 years old. “40?” I said, “That can’t be right.” But sure enough, it was. I can’t believe this guy is already 38 because he plays like a teenager. He has so much energy, so much speed and strength, and so much innate skill, when you watch him on the ice he looks 20 years younger. When you look back through the years you suddenly remember that he’s been dominating this league for a long time, but then you watch him again and it’s like the first time. With two goals and four assists in six games it looks like it will be another point producing season for the old timer, but you must always remember with Lidstrom that it’s his defensive play that wins him the Norris Trophy every year.

Martin Brodeur age 36: Ok, I was fighting this because it just seemed to obvious. But what can I do? The best goaltender in the league is at it again, already posting two shutouts, a GAA of 1.30, and a win/loss record of 5-1. There’s no getting past the fact that Brodeur is the BEST player 35 or older playing in the NHL. He’s outplaying everyone this year, and I’d like to say I’m surprised, but the only thing that surprises me is when he gives up more then two goals. How can a goalie be that good? How many years are we going to measure every other goaltender to Brodeur? Everyone we’ve tagged as his successor; Luongo, Turco, Kiprusof… have been having way below par years, but Brodeur just keeps on rolling. That’s why he’s the ultimate hockey old timer.

Now I have a question for ESPN.com. Have you guys been reading my blog? Less then a week after my Youth Movement article, the front page of their hockey site has the exact same headline, though their articles are formatted differently. Still, is it merely coincidence that my interest in hockey’s youngsters pre-dated ESPNs by mere days? Well ESPN, if you are reading this, there’s no need to steal my ideas, you can always just put me on the payroll. And if you are not reading this, why not? It’s a good blog with a lot of cool hockey analysis, you should be reading it.

SURPRISE OF THE WEEK:

This weeks surprise are the still winless Flyers. This is a team I believed was going to be a contender in the East. Not that it’s too late, but going winless through six is no way to start off as a playoff contender. This is a better team then 0-3-3. They have some small goaltending issues, but their offense and defense are sound. They’ve been outplayed, badly.  They aren’t the only team off to a slow start, and as the year goes on things will begin to even out, but if it wasn’t for the World Series sports fans in Philly wouldn’t be too optimistic right now. Management may feel the need to shake things up, if I was John Stevens I’d be doing everything I could to inspire my team to grind out a win before I’m out the door.