Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Rant answers: The King goat, stealth Selke guy and highway robbery
By Pierre LeBrun
When it comes to ranting, you puck heads never disappoint. Let’s take a look this week:
harry2299:: Pierre, being a Kings fan I can't have too much to gripe about as they've looked pretty strong to start the season, but there are two things I need to vent about. First, I've watched every game and Dustin Penner has been INVISIBLE. I make a point to watch him when he's on the ice and he seems to be skating aimlessly at the blue line in the defensive zone or turning the puck over when it happens to find him. I read before the season he was devoted to being in shape for this season after Lombardi called him out is he a lost cause? Also, what is it gonna take for Slava Voynov to earn a spot in the Kings lineup? He tore it up in Manchester last season and in his brief call up this year looked poised and ready for the NHL. Thanks. Less
The Wings will need Pavel Datsyuk to turn it on if they hope to win the West again.
kingscrash23: Pierre, is there or has there ever been a bigger waste of space then Dustin Penner?? He should never, EVER cash one of his checks. He doesn't earn a dime of his money. His complete lack of effort and intensity is painful to watch. He plainly just doesn't care. Jonathan Bernier?? Man, he has been overrated since day one. … gotta be the dumbest goalie in the league. He's been playing how long and still can't figure out don't kick rebounds into the slot, stop swimmin outta control and get pucks to the corner if ya don't stop em!! Penner, Bernier, Drewiski and a pick to CBJ for Carter and Mason and bring back Slava. … what's the kid gotta do to stay??
My take:Two Penner rants! With one assist in nine games, Penner is off to the worst kind of start. It is indeed tough to figure this guy out. If there’s ever a season you’d look for him to bounce back, it’s this one: He actually devoted himself more to working out this summer under the watchful eye of the Kings. He’s in a contract year, eligible to be an unrestricted free agent July 1, and coach Terry Murray handed him the keys to success by starting Penner on a line with Anze Kopitar to begin the season. And even that didn’t help. It really is a head-scratcher because Penner loves living in SoCal, so you would think he would be doing anything he can to stay there. It’s only a month into the season, but so far the results aren’t promising. I don’t see the Kings keeping him around past this season unless there’s a drastic turnaround in his play.
Still, the Kings see a player who wants to improve and has the potential to help the team.
“He's working through some injuries but is learning to work,'' Murray told ESPN.com via text Tuesday. “He needs to get closer to the net; he's looking to pass the puck into it.''
tj703: It is really hard to actually complain with the last 20 years the Wings have given me as a fan. However, the compete level has been pretty embarrassing in this four-game losing streak. The call up of Nyquist is a good sign; I hope Tatar shows up in Detroit soon as well. This letting guys come along slowly makes sense when people are working hard for their jobs. Bertuzzi, Holmstrom and Hudler aren't really doing that. They also need to sit Cleary, his upper body injury is hampering him. It wouldn't be terrible to see Holland pull a trade or two and shake up the locker room again. It might help Mike Babcock get his message across.
My take: Wings fans have high standards after two-plus decades of being the NHL’s model franchise. This is still a very good team, but gone are the days of being that much better than the rest. The NHL’s salary-cap system has achieved what it wanted seven years ago -- evening out the talent bases across the league. Look at the standings today; they’re so close. It’s a total crapshoot. Wings fans don’t want to hear that, but it’s the truth. All you can hope for is to get into the playoffs again, which the Wings will, and then take your chances from there.
Having said all that, the Wings can play much better than they have of late. No better poster boy for that than the incredibly talented Pavel Datsyuk -- who is minus-8 in his past six games. You know that trend isn’t going to continue. His name isn’t on the Selke Trophy three times for no reason. Take a deep breath, Wings fans. Your team isn’t this bad.
xcirclex: So Dave Bolland is back from a preseason injury and has racked up 5 goals and leads the league with 2 short-handers. The question is: Why is his name never mentioned when Selke trophy conversations take place? I have a hard time thinking of a forward who has been more in the limelight when defensive play becomes critical (i.e., the playoffs).
Especially after Henrik Sedin's legendary "just another player" remarks prior to the 7-2 drubbing in Game 4 last year. A series where post-Bolland, the Sedin's racked up a combined 5 points and a -13 +/-, while Bolland finished with 6 points and a +6. You can go back to the year prior for more of the same.
My take: I’m a huge Dave Bolland fan (you may remember I chose him for my daily video blog during 2010 Stanley Cup finals). Probably the biggest reason Bolland hasn’t garnered Selke attention in previous seasons is because Jonathan Toews is on his team. You saw what Toews did at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. There are few better two-way players in the entire NHL than Toews. And that right there is what hurts Bolland’s chances. But perhaps if he keeps this up he’ll get more recognition this season. He certainly deserves it. He’s a courageous shot-blocker and a tenacious puck-battler and drives the opposition batty. One of my favorite players in the NHL -- bar none.
Alpamayo91: Pierre, normally your highest-paid player should be your last concern in terms of performance. However, what to do with Scott Gomez? Plekanec-Desharnaies-Eller-Nokelainen have definitely given life to the Montreal forwards. Can you buy back such contract? Can you send him to Hamilton? Or do you keep him for the sake of depth (MTL has no other center should one of those above get injured) and risk ruining the chemistry? Can you play such contract on a 3rd or 4th line?
My take: An NHL scout recently told me about Scott Gomez: “You know, if that guy made $2 million, they’d love him in Montreal.’’ That’s because Gomez does hustle. He works his butt off. Problem is, his cap hit is $7.35 million, and there’s two more seasons after this year on that deal (in real life, his salary dips to $5.5 million next season and $4.5 million in the final year). His production has never lived up to that monster contract. I see two options for the Habs: 1) Next summer a team finds itself desperate to get to the cap floor and needs a contract with a big cap hit but not a big salary. As I mentioned above, Gomez’s salary actually dips next season, even though his cap hit remains high. 2) In the new collective bargaining agreement next year, the NHL possibly allows once again for a one-time buyout window, where it doesn’t count against the salary cap. Bingo.
joedirt113: Fire the coach, trade Lucic, Marshand needs to go, Krejci overperformed, Chiarelli traded out best prospect for that bum Kaberle, Pouliot aka "the biggest disappointment in league history", they drafted Seguin with a congenial hip what the heck? and McQuaid is a pylon. Those are all the words of wisdom in the office today. Rewind back to game 70 of the 2010-2011 season to replay panic...prior to winning the cup. Hmmm the lifecycle of a Boston sports fan. Julien has gone from goat to hero, to goat in a period of 4 months.
My take: Yes, I do agree B’s fans need to take a deep breath. Look at Montreal last week. Habs fans were ready to burn down the city before three straight wins calmed everyone down. The Bruins do have some issues. I think some of their players did not come ready for this season, but overall I still believe in the Cup champs and their ability to make the playoffs and contend this season. If this doesn’t turn around soon, the GM has cap room and flexibility to force change. He won’t sit on his hands, believe me.
JanneyShanny: What in the world happened to Jaroslav Halak? More importantly, why have the St. Louis Blues not put a solid goalie between the pipes for a full season since Grant Fuhr? With the inevitability of Brian Elliott not keeping up this pace; it looks like the Blues are in for another year of mediocre goaltending, which usually leads to a disappointing spot in the standings.
My take: I still think Halak will bounce back, but I will share this with you: When the Montreal Canadiens decided to trade Halak and keep Carey Price -- a decision that was highly criticized and polarizing in hockey-made Montreal -- a source told me that the Habs’ front office had zero hesitation in its decision. It was Price all the way, without a moment’s hesitation, despite Halak’s heroic 2010 playoffs. The feeling was that though Halak was a very good goalie, Price had the potential to be a great one. So far that decision by the Habs has been spot on.
kevin23610: Winter Classic ISSUE; I'm tired if people pushing this event down our throats as something that "promotes" the game. If they're doing this to promote the game then why does it cost SO much to go to? It cost an AVERAGE Flyers season ticket holder (and I'm sure It’s VERY comparable to the other places it’s been held) $502 dollars just to get mediocre seats. It would cost Joe Blow, on average, about $400 a ticket just to see the game. I don't think this is even in the realm of a reasonable price. This will only get people with high disposable incomes and (already) hardcore avid fans to the games, NOT newcomers. This is just another hockey game on TV to the "on the fence" fans. If you put aside the GREED and made it affordable enough then the on the fence fans might actually come out and have the game mean something to them. Seems to me this is more for the pocket-lining of team owners and TV advertising revenues than it is for the fans.
My take: The NHL views the Winter Classic as its Super Bowl experience. Hence, the ticket prices. Let’s be honest, the moment the outdoor game became a huge hit in Buffalo you knew the league was going to maximize its potential and rake in everything it could before the event got stale (which will happen one day). So yes, the average fan is getting gouged. No surprise there.