Rant answers: Goonery, SO stars, more
Welcome back to another season of ranting, puckheads. We're not even a week into 2010-11 and there are already some annoyed people out there! Let's take a look:
HeWhoOwnsAll: It's week one and I'm already sick of the "sometimes" three-point game. Another column in the standings isn't going to confuse people? Give me a break. Make a W worth another point and maybe teams won't play for the tie as SOME ALREADY HAVE. Regulation win is three points, OT/SO win is two points, OT/SO loss is one point, regulation loss is nothing. Quantum physics and a Rosetta stone not required. Rant off.
My take: This is one of my favorite topics because I, too, am tired of the three-point game. I've brought it up in the past few years with NHL officials and the feeling there is they like the parity it creates in the standings and the exciting races at the end of the regular season. While I also enjoy those races, I still think the better teams in this league should be better rewarded for their superior talent. Three points for a regulation-time win would help the cream rise to the top. At least there's a new tiebreaker rule in play this season that eliminates shootout wins from the win column when deciding a tiebreaker in the standings at the end of the season. That was Columbus GM Scott Howson's idea, and it's a good one.
georgejhall: Why do the Flyers always seem to switch goalies? They have a 22 yr old rookie start on the road vs. Pittsburgh, he looks great, and by the next game, Boucher is back in net. They had a day off so it's not like he would have even been playing back-to-back days. Why not leave him in there? Who is really the starter?
My take: Well, it's Philadelphia, so of course there's a goalie story! Why would you want it any other way? The Flyers haven't had long-term stability in net since Ron Hextall's first tour of duty in Philly. It's been one goalie drama after another, and what's bizarre is the Flyers have remained a very good team despite that. But to answer your question, I have no problem with Brian Boucher playing the second game. The guy was solid last spring in the playoffs when Michael Leighton was injured, posting a .909 save percentage and 2.47 GAA. And how about Saturday night? Only two goals against and a .920 save percentage in an OT loss at St. Louis. Give him a break! Sergei Bobrovsky is an intriguing rookie pickup from the KHL and he's looked sharp, but he is a rookie. There will be ups and downs. Who's the starter? That's a 20-year-old question in Philadelphia.
RickPlaysStick: Ugh, the Ducks look like a lottery pick after this weekend's minus-7 point differential. Oh man, can Bob Murray get us a defenseman?
My take: Your wish is Bob Murray's command. On Monday, the Ducks GM signed veteran blueliner Andreas Lilja to a one-year deal worth $600,000, plus an additional $150,000 available in games played bonuses. The injury to Toni Lydman before the puck was even dropped this season was a letdown for a team already thin in that area. Plus, Scott Niedermayer's retirement came a year after Chris Pronger was traded to Philly. That's a double blow no organization in the league can ignore. The Pronger deal was a nice trade for Anaheim given everything the Ducks got in return, but in the short term, this is a blue line with real issues. Once Joffrey Lupul returns from his injury, that will give the Ducks another top-six forward. I suspect they'll look at dealing from their area of strength in order to beef up the blue line.
Hulkymon: A lot of people seem to be doubting Chara and his ability to play after 40 and say the Bruins overpaid. There is no way the Bruins overpaid for a guy who will not shrink, and is an athletic freak. There are plenty of blueliners that have played their best (and smartest) hockey of their careers, namely Ray Bourque, Chris Chelios, and that list goes on.
My take: I totally agree regarding Zdeno Chara's durability. I wrote that in my weekend blog, but I have no issue with the long-term deal here because not only do I think Chara will pay until he's 41 as the new extension calls for, but I also think he may play past that. He's in incredible shape. And besides, if he does retire before the end of his extension, the rest of his deal wouldn't count against the cap since the new deal kicks in before he's 35. No risk here on the Bruins' part.
Kavashaforlife: Another day, another Islander injured, this time the supposed savior John Tavares. Time to research the top prospects for this year's draft, Garth. Signed, Hopeful Islander Fan.
My take: Hey, at least your team got a big win over the rival Rangers on Monday! Still, it looks like another long season ahead. The arena issue needs to be resolved once and for all. Their current home is a total dump and an embarrassment to the league and a franchise that has a rich history on Long Island. On the ice, I like some of the young pieces, but the injuries to Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit are especially difficult to take given the lack of depth.
djs2714: urgh, lebrun! I'm not too happy with my team the penguins. their defense looks new and improved, but I still don't think Alex Goligoski should be on the roster. He's just too inconsistent. not to mention the awful power play. pass to gogo, pass to crosby, pass to malkin. they all take slap shots and miss, or it gets saved. pass pass pass pass pass pass. no shooting on the power play. they look for the perfect play every single time. they need to just shoot and stop worrying about it.
My take: Hopefully Monday's 3-1 win over the Devils helped calm you down a little. It's early in the season, my friend. Sergei Gonchar is a huge hole to fill on the power play and it won't happen overnight. Paul Martin will be key there as time goes on and he gets used to his new teammates. He's calm with the puck and has terrific vision. The Pens' power play will be fine; move on to other concerns.
Ihatedallas4: Pierre, longtime reader and I'm hoping you'll address this for me. What was up with Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond headhunting a 20 year old rookie? I understand teams fight when they're down to prove a point, but what point are you proving when you snatch up a kid in his second NHL game? I have no qualms with fighting in hockey, but Johansson was quoted as saying he declined the fight. Why didn't he, I don't know, pick on someone his own size? Or maybe someone who wasn't a teenager last week?
My take: I thought it was gutless. For those who haven't seen it, the big meathead goes after a rookie. Well, gee, you're so brave Pierre-Luc. I ask: Why is this guy even in the league? Tough guys are supposed to fight tough guys. Anything else is total garbage. It's embarrassing for such a model franchise like the Devils, run a by GM in Lou Lamoriello that I have so much respect for, to have a thug like him in the lineup.
Fingers00: McIntyre's KO punch to Ivanans in the late minutes of the Edmonton/Calgary game made me wonder about the role and consequences of goons in today's NHL. In the 80s, without the instigator rule, the team enforcer would "police" the way they saw fit. Today, the enforcers are 250lbs-plus (compared to the 200-215lbs of the 80s guys), are woefully underskilled compared to the rest of the team, are responsible for the vast majority of the "cheap shots" that they are supposed to be "policing", and only fight each other. It's time to put an end to goonery (not fighting entirely) in the NHL before someone dies from one of these bare knuckle matches between huge human beings.
My take: I thought Bob McKenzie had a terrific blog on this last week, one which I totally agreed with. I haven't gotten to the point where I think fighting should be totally banned from the game because I think it still keeps people honest. But I don't understand, at all, the point of two goons going at it late in a game that was already decided. One solution that's made the rounds in recent years is the theory that if you reduced NHL rosters by one player, teams would likely drop their goons. It's an idea that has got merit.
Dashmasterflash: I'm a lifelong Edmontonian born in Toronto, and for once, I have nothing to rant about.
My take: I thought that was funny. Indeed, heady times for the Oilers and Maple Leafs early in this season! The 29th- and 30th-ranked teams from last season are a combined 4-0-0. The Leafs are getting saves and appear to have fixed their special-teams issues. The Oilers are gushing with their three-headed rookie monster. Ah, the giddiness of October victories.
jchen16: Just one game into the season and I already need to get this off my chest. After all the hullabaloo from the Canucks' opener against the very well-dressed Kings and the celebration of its 40th year and the revealing of Henrik Sedin as captain, I cannot believe coach Alain Vigneault stapled Sedin to the bench in the shootout. According to Vigneault, neither of the Sedins are great shootout players (but of course, they only have a sample size of 9 shots since the introduction of the SO), but what better way to show off your Art Ross-winning captain by giving him a chance? I don't get it.
My take: Daniel is a dismal 3-for-16 in career shootout attempts, so that's why you didn't see him. Henrik is 0-for-2 in his career, so you've got a point there in that he certainly hasn't tried it much.
"Look at their stats," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told the Vancouver Sun in Monday's edition. "They're great players on the ice when there's opposition in front of them, but when they seem to be alone against the goaltender, it just seems to be a little more challenging for whatever reason. It doesn't mean we're not going to use them. Sometimes players like that find a way in pressure situations to get it done. But their stats, shootout-wise, have not been very good."
Sometimes star players just aren't good at this trick event. Paul Stastny is 0-for-8 all-time, Bobby Ryan is 1-for-11, Jeff Carter is 3-for-17, Martin Havlat is 3-for-18, Dany Heatley is 4-for-25, Eric Staal 2-for13, and so on. On the flip side, some non-star players have been huge in the shootout, players such as Jussi Jokinen, Frans Nielsen and Erik Christensen. Go figure.