Sunday, November 30, 2008
Mind you, I like Schneider. I do, but maybe it's just time to send him away for something. This will definitely happen, probably at the deadline. EC needs to go, but I don't know who would want him. Thorburn hasn't done really anything. Slater is never going to be more than what he is.
I like seeing the Wolves come up because even if they are losing up here, they are working hard and want to be here. I would love to see Kulda up here; we need a solid stay-at-home defenseman. Maybe Stuart should come back up to create some new energy. Maybe it's time to get some of JA's old guys from the AHL. They understand him and listen. I'm not saying they're going to start winning, but it'll be something different. We just don't need "passengers," as X said.
In terms of the staff, I would hope for some revamping. The coaching staff is solid, and they are the right guys. I think we need new scouts and a new GM. It's just been too long for DW. I defended the guy, but something needs to happen. The greatest gift that could come to this team would be if someone like Arthur Blank took over ownership. Hell, maybe he can take over. Look at how the Falcons are doing. We don't need a group of people making decisions for this team. We need one person, with money, in charge. Ted Turner was that way with the Braves, and we all remember those wonderful days.
This team needs something. We (the fans) need something. This city needs something. Apparently the Hawks are good this year; good for the Spirit on that one. Why can't they fix us? They have created a stagnant franchise that is losing all the talent it ever had. Will Kovy be the last one from that generation to go? Or will something happen, whether players get dropped, scouts get hired, the GM's office changes, and the owners work out their issues and allow both of their teams to flourish, finally?
Who makes the finest trade bait on your melancholic Atlanta Thrashers? There are two ways to look at this, of course: a) a situation that involves trading the Czar, and b) a situation that doesn't.
I'd prefer Option B, of course, so let's start there:
The Pittsburgh Penguins are looking for a hard-shooting defenseman to help them out on the power play, as Sergei Gonchar is out with an injury. Perhaps Mathieu Schneider could be of some service. The Thrashers could perhaps send Schneider, Eric Perrin, and some other losers to Pittsburgh in exchange for the totally awesome Jordan Staal.
Meanwhile the Thrashers trade Kari Lehtonen and Boris Valabik and/or Garnet Exelby to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Jason Spezza.
Our first line would be Kovalchuk-Spezza-Staal, surely the finest in the NHL and featuring that hard-hitting power forward that your Chronique de Bleuland editor so ardently wants at the right wing.
This is completely insane and will never happen, of course, so let's look into Option A:
If the Thrashers traded Kovalchuk, they would inevitably get a massive return, and there are plenty of teams around the league that would be more than happy to trade for him. A few possible destinations might include Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.
Sidney Crosby needs a high-scoring winger, and Kovalchuk would fulfill that need and easily earn us Jordan Staal or Evgeni Malkin.
Philadelphia would love to have him as well: the Thrash could get Jeff Carter, surely.
Not sure what Toronto would offer us.
There is one more option, of course. We could simply trade everybody--Kovalchuk, Lehtonen, Kozlov, White, Schneider, Moose, everybody--and get a huge helping of draft picks and young'ins. That would mean that everything Don Waddell has ever done is a gigantic retarded disaster, of course, and honor would compel him to resign. Presumably.
It's not that DW didn't have the right idea at the beginning: Ilya Kovalchuk, Dany Heatley/Marian Hossa, Kari Lehtonen, Braydon Coburn (or Dion Phaneuf, if scouts were clairvoyant), and additions like Marc Savard, Slava Kozlov, Greg de Vries, and an aging-but-effective Peter Bondra add up to an excellent team.
It's just that everything went wrong. Not all of it was DW's fault, perhaps not even most of it. But everything went wrong. Everything.
Don’t hold on too tightly to your Thrashers roster. By the time the team returns to Philips Arena next week, it could be obsolete.
Thrashers coach John Anderson has had it with losing and has had it with some of his players.“We’re going to look at the whole situation, look at what we have, what we have in the minors and figure out what steps need to be taken,” Anderson said Sunday after the Thrashers’ sixth loss in their last seven games, 4-2 to the St. Louis Blues.
Ooooh, sexy. In other words: The problem is not the coach and his system; the problem is the players. Some of them, anyway. It's obvious who executes and who achieves on this team, or at least tries to: the Kozlov-White-Little three-headed beast, Ron Hainsey, the Swedish Defensemen, the Czar (yeah yeah I know he isn't scoring enough, but the man is a factory that manufactures excellent, creative passes that his talentless line-mates can't complete), the Party Line, and that Pavelec fella. Schneider has loads of talent but doesn't always seem interested; players like Exelby and Slater try hard but don't have a ton of talent.
What to do?
I can't imagine we'd miss much by replacing supposed tough guy Eric Boulton with that other one.
And Kovalchuk's line-mates are hopeless.
Worst of all, the people that own the Thrashers are disgusting non-fans and the GM is clueless. I don't see the Thrashers being moved out of Atlanta. I see them staying in Atlanta and staying bad, forever.
It was heart-warming to watch Keith Tkachuk get his 1,000th point and listen to all the arena cheer.
But the Chronicle is in an abusive relationship with this team.
I'd like to say I've totally lost interest in this team, but in fact I'm unhealthily attached. I demand to be traded.
We have got to find a way to start winning some games instead of finding a way to lose them. Got the Blues today. Maybe we can do something. If not, then this thing is going to be over by Christmas.
Great Coach's Corner last night. Morty will be un-pleased due to his boy Mike Grier getting called out. But he deserved it. And you gotta love the, well love, for Brendan Witt. Anybody that wears number 32 for Dale Hunter is good in my book.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
JIM, Birmingham: E.J.!!! Please, give me some GOOD NEWS about the Thrashers. It may take a while, but I'm sure you can muster something positive up.
EJ Hradek: They've played OK so far this year...they had a streak of, I think, four wins. Their offensive production is spread out a little more. Byron Young is producing some offense. I still see this as a team that has work to do and a long way to go before they are a strong team, but I guess you already knew that.
Byron Young, M.D. Our hot young goal-scorer. Apparently he was Professor of Neurology at the University of Kentucky before he started lighting the lamp for the Atlanta Thrashers.
Seriously, though, why does this remind me of when my fellow provincial Americans can't name a single foreign leader? I make an effort to know the main players on every team in the NHL. I make an effort to be aware of who's performing well and who's not. And to, you know, learn their actual names. Is this too much to ask?
Thrashers coach John Anderson, back home in Toronto, entertained a pack of reporters (I counted five video cameras) with stories of the days he and Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson were teammates with the Dallas Black Hawks and the Leafs. They got hazed together as Leafs rookies.
“Instead of shaving our heads, they kind of cut pieces out of it, so we looked like the Sex Pistols,” Anderson said. “They called me Johnny Rotten. They called him Sid Vicious. I said hello to Sid today.”
Amazing. That would make Anderson's tenure as Thrashers head coach the P.I.L. years, then?
Today Knobler writes:
Have arrived in DC after my 4:15 a.m. wakeup call in Toronto. News here is that the Capitals will be without seven starters tonight against the Thrashers, including forwards Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Semin. Other missing players: defensemen Mike Green, John Erskine and Jeff Schultz and forwards Chris Clark and Boyd Gordon.
The Capitals called up four AHL players, all of whom are expected to play tonight.
Is it time to give this line a name yet, or are line names dead? Little to Kozlov, to White. Fantastic pass by Slava Kozlov from behind the net to feed White on the doorstep for the short-range one-timer.
In the last week, the Chronicle has complained about the following:
1. The Thrashers aren't physical enough.
2. The Thrashers aren't winning of late.
3. Kovy isn't scoring goals.
1. They sorted themselves out tonight. The Czar was godlike: I loved his rowdiness. His scraping with Ian White was totally justified, and more importantly it was great fun. The goal he scored, after skating around and around the Leafs defense like a shark waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike, was a classic.
2. The Thrash played rugged and aggressive all night. Kovy's fights were the highlight, of course, but Armstrong, Exelby, and Slater all knocked down Leafs in entertaining ways tonight.
3. The Toronto chattering class is all upset about Colby Armstrong's hit on Jason Blake, of course. A player from the Atlanta Thrashers running into a Leafs player is an abomination against the Canadian Beaver God (who they believe created all of Canada); a vicious hit like Kris Letang's on Todd White, however, is a-okay. Such superstitious people, those NHL media types. I mean...BEAVER GODS! Have you ever HEARD anything so silly? This is what they believe, though, the people at TSN.
4. Speaking of Todd White....by the end of the game your Chronicle editor was putting on his night-robe and slippers, lighting his pipe and pouring himself some brandy, getting in the mood for a Todd White hat trick.
Didn't happen, of course, but a fine pair of goals.
5. Moose ruled. He gave up two fluky goals and one where he was screened by twenty people. Otherwise he Moose-danced and Moose-checked his way to glory. How about that one save?
6. Dear God I love the Czar. I was worried when he didn't score on that breakaway, but he cured all my anxiety when he scored that ridiculously precise goal and roughed up the entire Vegas Maple Leafs. The Chronicle staff happened to be watching the game on the TV machine together, in the same place (a rare occurrence); Big Shooter poured some shots of vodka and we toasted the Czar. Long may he reign.
7. All you schlmazels who think Boris Valabik is better than Mathieu Schneider are silly folk indeed. Probably anti-Semites too.
8. The Thrash are scoring pretty finesse goals and ugly point-blank garbage goals. This is fantastic. Bryan Little has that insane finesse thing going on; how about his lovely move in tonight's game? The Thrash have plenty of finesse (Kovy's goal, Little's move, Slava all the time), but tonight they let us know they're not above simply charging the net and banging in garbage goals (cheers, Chris Thorburn!).
9. Check out the game recap on TSN's main page. The Czar's statement of resolve at the end is priceless. "Always ready to answer back." To the bitter resentful guy with the 70s Berlin mustache. "He's gonna get what's coming to him." What an asshat. The Czar is a badass.
10. Can't wait 'til the Leafs are relocated to Vegas.
11. Keep it up, Thrashers, keep it up.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
It's November 25th, two days before Thanksgiving, and, strangely, there's as of yet no Erik Christensen-for-Ryan Clowe trade on the horizon.
Meanwhile, your whimsical Atlanta Thrashers play the future Las Vegas Maple Leafs tonight, in Toronto. Playing in Toronto is significant for the Grand Mongoose for a few reasons: for one, he comes from there (next time you're in Toronto, don't forget to stop by John Anderson's Charcoal Broiled Hambugers in the North York neighborhood); and secondly, he actually used to play for the Vegas Maple Leafs. He scored 30-something goals several seasons in a row. Impressive.
He's a bit hidden in this photo, but he looks more or less the exact same, plus a mustache. The Chronicle are big fans of the Leafs' egomaniacal, barking insane coach Ron Wilson, but we're bigger fans of JA and his delicious charcoal broiled hamburgers.
Monday, November 24, 2008
So here's my question: what would the Thrashers have to give up to add Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan, or Nik Antropov to their lineup?
The Birds need grit up front, and they need it on a scoring line. With Kovy and Kozy holding down the top two left wing spots, that means it is going to have to come from a center or right winger. We all love what Todd White is doing with the puck on his tape this year, but he proved in the Pittsburgh game that he's not the most durable guy on the ice. Crusher is willing to fight for position in front of the net, but he's not all that effective once he gets there.
With natural centermen already playing on the wing in the lineup, it makes the most sense to go out and get a natural right winger to put opposite one of our Russian goal scorers (assuming that the Czar does indeed decide to become a goal scorer again). That right winger needs to be able to lower the shoulder and dish out some physical pain along with the emotional pain delivered by Kovy and Kozy lighting the lamp. I'm not saying the Thrashers need a talentless goon on a top line, but a legitimate power forward would add an element that the team has been lacking for some time.
A physical forward adds a threat of a big check in the offensive zone that gives defending players one more thing to juggle in their mind while trying to follow the play. He can plow through a defenseman and leave him out of the play for crucial seconds while a sniper comes in for an odd man situation. He can energize the team with a hit or a fight. And he can stand up for our stars when it's needed without having to change lines to send in Boulton, or risk losing a d-man to the penalty box. It's great that Kovy is a tough guy and will stick up for himself or his teammates, but that's not the role he should have to play. He's the superstar. Let him make plays and light the lamp and bring in somebody else to put a little quiver into the yapping voice of the opposition.
Dustin Brown leads all right wingers in the NHL with 69 hits, and has also potted 8 goals so far this season. Ryan Callahan has been the most exciting player for the blueshirts for the past year, is still a fresh faced newcommer, and had proven 6 times already this season that he can score goals while racking up 61 quality checks. Nik Antropov has significantly fewer hits at 25, but that's still in the upper echelon of right wingers, and he also has 7 goals to his credit this year. Jarome "The Perfect Hockey Player" Iginla has more goals than anyone else in the top 20 hitting right wingers, but something tells me we can't afford what Calgary would want to give him up, even though he obviously isn't really a big part of their gameplan or team identity or anything.
Heck, let's get Keith Tkachuk back in here and find some way to de-age him by 10 years. For that matter, somebody find us a good neurologist and get Adam Deadmarsh on the line.
For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey grasping at straws for ideas to improve this team.
Maali over at Fire Wagon Hockey lays into Ben Wright.
The Falconer lays into Ilya Kovalchuk.
YEAH! Civil war! Pretty soon Niclas Havelid will write a scathing blog post criticizing me for the uneven quality of my posts at the Chronicle. What a mean bastard!
Well, this is Patrick's other son, Frédérick, indenting the face of a dude named Vincent Bourgeois. Frédérick must be some kind of militant Marxist.
Via Puck Daddy.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
1. While not an unqualified success (more about that below), John Anderson's style has improved the Thrashers' play. The breakout of Bryan Little and the Kozlov Renaissance are thrilling indicators of a team-wide improvement in scoring, offensive pressure, and simple entertaining, fun-to-watch panache.
2. The Thrashers have always been a wildly erratic and streaky team, but the good points of the Anderson era have just further highlighted the inconsistency of the team's play, not just game-to-game but period-to-period. As we all know, the Thrashers can dominate one period and crumble in the next one.
3. Something strange always seems to happen in the third period that generates a scoring chance for the opposing team. I'm not sure how a team corrects something like that...cutting down on turn-overs might help.
4. While Anderson's style has improved the team, so far it's not been effective against defense-minded teams like New Jersey, Minnesota, and Columbus. The Thrashers can beat highly skilled teams like Buffalo and Washington, and come dramatically close to beating teams like Pittsburgh and Boston, because those teams play an offensive style based on puck possession and wide-open, back-and-forth skating and scoring. For reasons of size and style, the Thrash can't compete with teams that play a checking game.
5. Speaking of size, the Thrashers are more or less a small and soft team. I don't mean this as criticism, necessarily; it's just demonstrably true that the Thrashers don't play a very physical game. It might help them if they became slightly grittier. I'm not saying they should imitate the Calgary Flames, which would be impossible anyway, but that a level of hits similar to Pittsburgh's, say, would go a long way.
6. The team has proven that it can grow and improve. Hopefully we haven't seen the culmination of the 08-09 Thrashers' growth. Anderson has said he wants to continually mold and shape the team; let's hope he's successful.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
It must be hilarious to be Ken Hitchcock. Aside from Rick Nash, he's working with zero serious talent. He wins the occasional game by playing that stupid uber-defensive checking style...and the Thrashers let him have his way with them because...because...because they can't do that thing where you play the Hockey.
The Czar isn't getting it done. Why?
I'd recommend trading a goalie for a top six forward. My position. And shit. Lehtonen for Frolov or Spezza.
What a wretched sport.
Rick Nash is a big deal, but he hasn't gone on a scoring tear at this point in the season.
The Czar scores a hat trick tonight. Guaranteed.
And by "guaranteed" I mean "not guaranteed at all but Lord the God wouldn't it be amazing?"
Ron Hainsey's going to do something important tonight.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Put it this way: ten years ago, if I told you your team was two games under .500 and three points out of a playoff spot, would you panic? Probably not, but because of the gradual increase of parity in the league over the past decade, that sort of record will put you in the cellar.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that the traffic jam in front of a team with that record is closer than you think. So standings aren’t a reason to panic yet, not for Ottawa, St. Louis, Florida, or any other team finding them in the lower half of the leagues standings. What are genuine reasons to panic?
If you’re a team like the Tampa Bay Lightning, you look at goals-for. When you’re barely scrapping past two goals a game, that’s a problem.
If you’re a team like the Dallas Stars, you look at goaltending. When your goalie’s “improvement” is reducing his goals-against from 3.9 to 3.4, that’s a problem.
If you’re a team like the Ottawa Senators, you look at secondary scoring. When your secondary scorers are all bunched in the 4-6 point range, that’s a problem.
If you’re a team like the Columbus Blue Jackets, you look at special teams. When your power play is barely scrapping the bottom of the barrel and a sniper like Rick Nash isn’t producing, that’s a problem.
If you’re a team like the New Jersey Devils, you look at primary scoring. When you can’t rely on Martin Brodeur to steal games, players like Patrik Elias need to step up. When they don’t, that’s a problem.
Interesting. The Thrashers have solid goal-tending. They're getting all kinds of scoring chances, occasionally even scoring, and honest to goodness in the games where they're (we're) losing they're (we're) going down by one goal. And we did kill a 5-on-3 penalty last night. Just saying.
Joey Crabb, called up from the Chicago Wolves, replaced Todd White at the Thrashers’ practice Friday morning after White took a blow to the head in Thursday night’s 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh.
But I'm clean now.
Now then. Every Friday since the one last week the Chronicle has been publishing installments in a series called "Know Your Blogger." We kicked it off with Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy and this week it's going to be nobody, as this week I didn't get it together long enough to choose a blogger and send them the questions. Sorry for my incompetence, folks; I know your Friday won't be the same.
Know Your Blogger will continue next week, though. I promise.
Meanwhile, I still loathe the officials from last night's game. And Kris Letang. And Sidney "I'm the most boring hockey personality alive" Crosby. Here's a song by the Smiths. If you imagine the word "DJ" replaced by "NHL official" it sort of makes sense.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The Penguins did not win that game. There should have never been a power play in the third period.
It'd be nice if the following people chose to live in a chemical fire:
1. Sidney Crosby
2. The officials who handled tonight's game
3. All the smug balding types wearing Lemieux jerseys tonight.
4. Kris Letang
5. Miroslav Satan
Just kidding. I DON'T want these folks to live in a chemical fire. I just hope Crosby gets eaten by a giant carnivorous possum. Letang likewise.
Any sanctimonious pricks with "Oh you horrible thug how could you ever wish death on a pleasant young man like Sidney Crosby" comments shouldn't even bother; you'll be deleted immediately.
Why are you even reading a hockey blog, anyway? The bars are still open; step across the street and find some leggy blond sipping a bluish-green cocktail and smoking a cigarette out of one of those long cigarette-holding things. She might be a countess or a spy.
Seriously, stop reading. There's more to life than hockey. Myself, I'm going to wander out into a darkened park and buy ten pounds of cocaine.
Not that it was all the refs' fault. Erik Christensen couldn't put the puck in the net if his life depended on it. Solid performance from Pavelec, though. Solid performance all 'round, really. Except for Christensen.
Jesus I hate the refs. Letang too. Chemical fire. Possum.
Yes, they might look cute, but they need to be destroyed.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are good at the Hockey, as you may or may not have heard. They have several excellent young players, the best probably being their raucous 1-2-3 punch at center:
Left to right: Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, and Sidney Crosby.
The Czar is a big fan of Malkin, being a Saudi Arabian and all. Speaking of the Czar, the Pensblog has already called attention to the fact that the Czar has a colorful history with the Penguins:
Still the most awesome thing that's ever happened anywhere ever.
It's too bad Jarkko Ruutu doesn't play for the Pens anymore. Someone really needs to exact revenge for this shit:
What a one-timer. Canucky broadcasters are fucking idiots.
A few excellent pieces today.
- Sean Leahy on some silly journo who stepped on the Penguins locker room logo. Superstition or great tradition or whatever, the team symbol is sacred.
- James Mirtle links to an Edmonton Journal article on the uselessness of the +/- stat. The Chronicle has been harping on this lately. We're with you, James. Junk it.
- Greg Wyshynski on the vilification of "free-thinking athletes," a la Vincent Lecavalier being worried about his reputation because he more than likely complained to the management about Barry Melrose. Good stuff on Henrik Lundquist pulling himself from the game against Vancouver last night; Wyshynski makes the argument that franchise players like Lundquist and Lecavalier should have serious clout, sometimes equal to that of the coach. I agree.
- Nice article by Mike Knobler on Bryan Little buying himself an apartment. The Chronicle complained about Knobler back during the summer...we're morons, of course; Knobler's been doing an excellent job.
Prediction: Colby Armstrong, Chris Thorburn, and Erik Christensen all score goals.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Even more telling is a quotation from Anderson that Knobler couldn't quite work into his article but shares on his blog:
“Ilya is inherently shy,” Anderson said. “He almost gets embarrassed with success, embarrassed with greatness. I think he has a big ego, because you have to have an ego to score that many goals, but he doesn’t want to convey that to everybody. I think he has a shyness, a humbleness inside him. He has a humbleness that’s refreshing, but it somehow inhibits him a little bit from stepping out beyond the norm.”
I think that's the heart of the matter. Everyone who's really, really good at something--like Kovy--has a big ego. That doesn't mean than that a big ego and humility can't co-exist in the same person, though. The Czar has massive self-belief, and that's where his emotional intensity on the ice comes from: his palpable frustration when he misses the net or screws up a play, his jubilation when he scores a goal. The intensity, of course, leads to the cliches about him being a selfish and showboating player. He is a great showman at times, no doubt, but I don't think anyone who actually pays attention to his play could judge him a selfish player.
He's also a naturally introverted and somewhat shy person, and doesn't want to be seen as somehow "above" his teammates off the ice. But as the Grand Mongoose says:
“I don’t want to push him over the edge with it, but as a team leader you have to have that ability to step out and say, OK, here we are, and what is it that I need to do, and what is it that I need to say and know how to say it,” Anderson said.
It's becoming clear that the main reason the Thrashers don't have an official captain is because everyone is waiting for Kovy himself to assume his throne. He needs to make it clear that 1) he's ready to lead, and 2) he wants to stay in Atlanta. It's possible we won't know how he feels about either of those things for a while, of course. In the meantime the Thrashers just need to do that thing where they win several games.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Well, I've just read it. Great stuff. As in the now-infamous Semin interview, the interviewer asks interesting questions and the hockey player responds like a thinking human being with actual feelings and opinions. If you're tardy like me and haven't read it yet, do so now.
"Crosby, Kane, Semin -- all those players mentioned in the interview -- are world class players. And each has their own opinion that should be considered. Without the hysteria. Sasha [Semin] is proving to everyone this season that he is an excellent forward. And [let them] take him into consideration. And [let them] fight against a cliché opinion that is usually born out of a crowd."Dear God I love this man.
Coach Anderson is certainly getting more out of this lineup that any other coach in Thrasher history. His players pressure the puck and are allowed to be creative. Their style is evolving into an exciting brand of hockey. Sure, they still make mistakes and they've had a couple of rough periods here and there, but they play much more like a team than past Thrashers clubs. They play with much more energy and fluidity than past Thrashers teams. The old Thrashers seemed to labor just to get the puck up the ice and and the offensive zone, while the current club keeps getting better at making quick outlet passes and explosive breakouts that put pressure on the opposition defense.
Meanwhile, Rawhide answers some important questions which tortured us all in the off-season:
Bryan Little: “Is he finally ready for the NHL on a full-time basis”?
Well, seeing that he has 9 goals and a team-leading 17 points, I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and say the answer is… “YES”!
Oh, and did I mention he leads the team with a +8?
Slava Kozlov: ”Was last season just an aberration”?…”Were his injuries the major contributions to his off year”…”Could he play this year more like the Slava of old”?
Well, I would venture to guess that the answers seem to be…”YES”, “YES” and, “YES”! His 10 goals tops the list for this team and he has 16 points overall. That puts him on a pace to almost double last year’s 41-point production.
Yes…the Slavinator is baaack!
Ron Hainsey: “Was this UFA signing worth what the Thrashers paid for him”?
Ummmm…I’ll take “Not Only YES, But…Oh HAY-yell YES” for a thousand, Alex!
What more could one ask of from this guy? He has been one of the most stabilizing forces to grace this blueline in many moons. He has contributed offensively with 3 goals and 6 assists, is a +1 with only 2 PIM. Not only is he NOT looking like one of the top five worst signings of 2008… there are even some out there who would consider Hainsey captain material.
- Speaking of the Sharks-Preds game, the Sharks added another two points to their record. Setoguchi scored his 11th goal of the season, and Thornton and Marleau continue to rack up the fantasy points. Good.
- Even though the Edmonton Oilers lost 4-0 to the Detroit Red Wings last night, they did that Oilers thing where if you're losing by several points and it appears there's no hope of coming back, you drop the gloves and engage in some rock 'em-sock 'em. So much heart, those Oilers. Meanwhile, Shawn Horcoff hasn't scored a goal in forever, and the Dustin Penner situation is still up in the air.
- Paul Stastny signs a five-year extension with the Av's.
- I recommend you take a look at this fascinating post by James Mirtle, about the New York Islanders' overall situation in general and problems building a new arena in particular. Say what you will about the Islanders, but I love the idea of a huge skating rink outside a hockey arena. With a gigantic Christmas tree. The idea just fills me with Dickensian warmth.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Then there are the Bruins. I did not expect them to be this good. Like the Sharks, they are 8-1-1 in their last 10. I wonder what it's like to be a fan of a team that has that kind of record?
Former Thrasher Marc Savard is assisting as we all know, but now he is scoring as well. Deadly combo you might say. Then you've got Lucic who put it to us in that heartbreaking game in Boston. Phil Kessel, who Big Shooter and I thought might have been a possibility back at Hossagate when we thought about trades, is playing very well. Bergeron is healthy again and playing very well, similar to the situation of Simon Gagne coming back healthy for the Flyers and fitting nicely back in to the roster. Then there is Marco Sturm who is a reliable force on the team for point production like Milan Michalek is for the Sharks. Impressive offense you might say.
1.78 GAA, .944 Sv%, 7-2-3. These numbers can only be associated with one man: Tim Thomas. Shocked? Surprised? Impressed? I am. This is obviously another factor in this Bruins success.
Both of these teams deserve a good look and recognition. They are two teams that are admirable and deserve their success, in my opinion. Like Morty, I love the Sharks. They are a cast of characters that aren't scary in terms of toughness, but they are scary in terms of their skill. The Bruins are an original six so there is old-time hockey love. I like Marc Savard as well, and Lucic gained my respect after that terrible loss earlier in the season. Both teams are fun to watch and likable, and how cool would it be if they met in the Finals? It'd be something.
686- Rod Brind'Amour -13
685- Andy McDonald -12
682- Sergei Samsonov -10
679- Todd Bertuzzi -9
677- Keith Tkachuk -9
676- "Big" Greg De Vries -9
M. Schneider with -11 at 683
As we know players like Tkachuk and Brind'Amour will never be regarded as great players and will never be in the Hall of Fame. These players have never helped a team in the playoffs and get in them (Thrashers) or help win a Stanley Cup (Canes). And, Boris Valabik with a +1 will be up there with Bobby Orr and Nic Lidstrom as one of the greats and get this Thrasher team to drink from the cups of all cups.
P.S- Boris is a fine 3rd pairing defenseman. I just can't think he is better than a guaranteed Hall of Famer like Tkachuk or Brind'Amour.
Just in, Ladies and Gentlemen: Boris Valabik has better +/- than Henrik Zetterberg, who has a rating of -1, and Jarome Ignila with a rating -2. Why don't the Red Wings and Flames want Valabik?
Editorial Position: DW, make a trade for one of the two because obviously Boris is a better player based on this very accurate perfect statistic we call the +/-.
Bryan Little has been a revelation. Slava Kozlov is on a pace to score more than 40 goals. Ilya Kovalchuk can do things very few other humans ever have. Ron Hainsey has been an excellent addition to the defense, and, despite what happened on the game-winning goal Sunday night, Niclas Havelid has been having a wonderful run lately as the steady, calming defenseman every team needs. So, how can they look as lifeless, out of sync and sometimes flat-out careless as they did in the first period Sunday night?
Not a bad question. I've been wondering similar things for a while now. I'm not worried, though. Some Philadelphia witch doctor has clearly put some kind of ancient Peruvian monkey curse on Thrashers-Flyers games; I think we can set off on another big winning streak come Thursday.
Good news: Mathieu Schneider is close to returning. Boris Valabik can...leave.
Mixed feelings here. It was a mistake to hire Melrose, a mistake made by management and ownership. Puck Daddy is right to note Barry's cringe-inducing "forced cool" in this interview (Sinatra? "My Way?" Really?). But Barry's not wrong to attack the ownership and management. They've made some hideous decisions (Dan Boyle, Radim Vrbata), and the poor play of the Lightning this year is primarily to due to their silly trades and signings. Melrose certainly didn't help the situation, but he more than likely wasn't the main problem. We'll see what happens, I reckon.
Elsewhere, at the Boston Globe in fact, Kevin Paul Dupont rages:
This is really atrocious. Again, I'm emphatically not a "purist" or traditionalist, as I came to the game after the lockout and I enjoy the luxury of having shootout heroes like Slava Kozlov on my favorite team. But I think it would do Dupont and other "purists" some good to consider how the game has changed throughout its history and how sometimes what they imagine to be upholding the purity or integrity of hockey tradition is really just knee-jerk fundamentalism. I certainly don't mean to say that ALL efforts to conserve hockey traditions, and all efforts to resist new features that the NHL has implemented, add up to a rigid fundamentalism, but I think some of the melodrama over shootouts and the overtime point (with the gratuitous dig at those dastardly Canucks and their communistic hatred of having clear-cut winners and losers) is just that.
NHL purists, the few who remain, hold a general disdain for all things related to the shootout. It's a gimmick, a guarantee to send one team home a winner and the other team home a half-loser. What else can we call it when it's awarded with a "1" in the "
You lose, but not really - sort of the NHL's equivalent of scoring 300 on the SAT just for showing up, or everyone in youth soccer going home with a trophy at the end of the season, even if they played on an 0-8 team that scored two goals all season.
The NHL just can't seem to accept pure winners and pure losers. Must be some Canadian thing.
In fact, I am a traditionalist in certain areas: I hate the instigator rule, for instance. I'm just not a tradition-fundamentalist, in that I don't think everything old in hockey (whatever that might be, since the NHL has changed so much in so many ways over the century) is automatically good and everything new is automatically bad.
Some of my favorite hockey moments have been in shoot-outs, and I think they do a lot in the way of highlighting the achievement of individual players, shooters and goalies alike. Shootouts could generate even more excitement and attention to the league if the shooters were forced to remove their helmets. There's really no point in wearing a helmet during a shootout, right?
Well, I've added my sixpence. What do you kids think about the shootout?
- Le Chronique Bleuland just wants the Thrash to beat the Penguins. We can't wait to see the recap on the Pensblog when they do.
- I assume you all know about the free-for-all that unfolded in Chicago last night. If not, you should. Crazy flip-flopping game between the Blackhawks and the Sharks, which SJ eventually won, featuring a Jeremy Roenick goal. Classic.
- Seriously, why can't we beat the Flyers? A thrilling comeback in the third period and we allow a silly Joffrey Lupul goal? I think something supernatural might be at work.
- Doesn't Razor Catch Prey have a fine radio voice? Hope you all enjoyed the Chronicle's very first podcast. If you didn't, you must be a miserly, withered soul that bothers sheep in the night. And impotent, too.
- Craig MacTavish Craig MacTavishes Dustin Penner's girlfriend. According to the Edmonton Journal, Mac-T thinks Penner hasn't put up the performance that the Oilers organization expected from him when Kevin Lowe signed him for 80 billion dollars and twenty draft picks.
Owwwww ooooooh that hurts. James Mirtle wonders if this tough love strategy ever really works. I don't think it did in the case of Patrick Marleau vs. Ron Wilson last year. But we'll see. Remember, Craig MacTavish is Craig MacTavish.
"When we signed Dustin we thought he'd be a top-two-line player," said MacTavish as the team prepares to face the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night.
"We thought the contract ($4.25 million average for five years) was a starting point for him, but he views it as a finish line. I can't watch it, certainly not for another 2 1/2 years," he said.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Barry Melrose. I thought he was going to turn that franchise around, until I saw what the owners were like. What a joke of a franchise. Really. Vinny went complaining to management after 16 games and boom. Bye bye Barry.
Ah, I love seeing Ron MacLean and Don Cherry discuss Looney Tunes:
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Alright, the in-depth interview, then:
What's your favorite hockey team? How long have you been a fan, any key experiences/memories with the team, etc. etc.
Favorite hockey player of all time? (we'll accept up to a 3-way tie here)
Favorite current NHL player? (ditto)
Would you consider yourself a fan of other sports? If so, which ones? Favorite teams in those sports?
What's the biggest problem with today's NHL?
Is there any hockey-related issue about which you've changed your mind? For example: Visors, the instigator rule, the merits of this or that player, etc.
What are your favorite hockey blogs?
A partial list of favorites: Cake, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Flaming Lips, Wilco, Weezer, Garbage, 1980s alternative rock, The Stones, Elvis Costello, Blur, Gogol Bordello, The Ravonettes, Public Enemy, Urge Overkill, R.E.M., ... pretty much everything on my iPod and my XM pre-sets. Especially that movie soundtrack channel. Oh, and of course Springsteen. I'm Jersey.
I have a bathroom in my rec room completely decorated with "Star Wars" swag. For inspiration: "Ed Wood." And since you didn't ask about TV, I'll just go ahead and say that nothing in pop culture has shaped my world view more than "Mystery Science Theater 3000."
I really don't read enough books. Mostly just on vacation, and mostly non-fiction. I read Ken Dryden's "The Game" every year before hockey season. Party ritualistic, partly because it's that damn good. There's nothing like it, and I hold it in as high a regard as a hockey book as I hold "Slap Shot" as a hockey film. I'm also a comics guy; I've been plowing through Brian K. Vaughn's "Ex Machina" lately.
There you have it, kids, in all its soul-probing glory. Next week we'll be interviewing....I'm not sure yet, but another actual hockey blogger.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I normally don’t get on the “Come Out If You’re A Real Fan” soapbox. The way I see it, you are all big boys and girls and can decide on your own how to spend your money. But I gotta say…if you are one of those who have been taking a “wait and see” attitude about this Thrashers team, then maybe…just maybe…you need to wait no more and come out and see them for yourself this Friday.
Of late, this Thrashers team has been playing some of the most exciting, entertaining hockey that I’ve seen in many, many moons. I can just imagine how pumped this group of players would be to skate out to the roar of a sold out Philips Arena…and quite frankly, these guys deserve it the way they’ve been performing.
Think about it… you’ll get a chance to see a hard-working team that has played some very inspired hockey of late, it’s a Friday night, you’ll get the first look at the new third jerseys, plus…well…it ain’t gonna be on TV.
As I said, it was the tail end of practice, and everybody seemed to be having a lot of fun out there. Coach Anderson and the assistants took a turn or two on a couple of the drills and guys were yapping at each other when they would either score a nice goal or would get robbed by Pav. Boris Valabik in particular seemed to be having a good time and was playing very well, scoring on a couple of one timers from the point and making nice passes in the drills. He looked very confident for a guy who has been bouncing back and forth between Atlanta and Chicago.
Havy looked happier than I think I've ever seen him before. He was grinning the entire time he was on the ice and was talking it up with his teammates in line and with Pav after his shots. I'd never noticed it before, but with his helmet on, Havelid actually looks a decent bit like Chris Tamer. For that matter, Bryan Little looked a lot like Slava Kozlov out there. You could tell the difference by the tufts of curly hair sticking out of his helmet and the fact that his face actually had an expression on it.
Though you can't judge much based on the fun drills at the end of practice, it was good to see that the team seemed to be having fun out there. I doubt that was the case in practice during the six game losing streak earlier this month.
For the Chronicle, I'm Razor Catch Prey.
I'll believe it when I see it.
The Canes suffered another loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals last night: Ovechkin, Green, and Backstrom all scored goals, while Alexander Semin continued to urinate on everyone from a height of several miles by having a two-goal, five-point night.
Which means the Canes don't intend to lose two games in a row to the Caps and two games in a row to us in the space of a week. The funny thing is, though, they will. Hopefully. The Thrashers had better destroy them tomorrow night, and all Thrashers fans within a 30-mile radius need to come out to bay for blood at Philips Arena. The boys have a four game winning streak; if we win tomorrow night, I believe they'll have something historians and scientists call a "five game winning streak."
That would be nice.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen reinjured his back on Tuesday, missed practice Wednesday and might not be able to play Friday against Carolina.
Fans attending Atlanta Thrashers/Hawks games at Phillips Arena can purchase 64 oz. adult beverages for approximately $8 in the food court area of the adjoining CNN Center.
Puck Daddy is impressed. But I find it even more impressive that you can buy megalithic beers from Gorin's in the CNN Center for the price(s) of $5-6.
1. Monsieur Catalogues (50)
2. Razor Catch Prey (43)
3. Big Shooter (40)
4. Mortimer Peacock (31)
1. tie: Monsieur Catalogues/Mortimer Peacock (83)
3. Razor Catch Prey (68)
4. Big Shooter (62)
1. Razor Catch Prey (28)
2. Monsieur Catalogues (27)
3. Big Shooter (25)
4. Mortimer Peacock (-17)
1. Razor Catch Prey (129)
2. Mortimer Peacock (127)
3. Monsieur Catalogues (108)
4. Big Shooter (80)
Power Play Points
1. Monsieur Catalogues (57)
2. Razor Catch Prey (47)
3. Big Shooter (46)
4. Mortimer Peacock (44)
Short Handed Points
1. Monsieur Catalogues (6)
2. Razor Catch Prey (4)
3. Mortimer Peacock (2)
4. Big Shooter (0)
Game Winning Goals
1. Monsieur Catalogues (10)
2. tie: Razor Catch Prey/Mortimer Peacock (6)
4. Big Shooter (5)
1. Razor Catch Prey (18)
2. Monsieur Catalogues (15)
3. tie: Big Shooter/Mortimer Peacock (13)
1. Mortimer Peacock (56)
2. Big Shooter (57)
3. Monsieur Catalogues (70)
4. Razor Catch Prey (79)
1. Monsieur Catalogues (5)
2. Big Shooter (4)
3. Razor Catch Prey (1)
4. Mortimer Peacock (0)
It's a slow day at the Chronicle's main office.
Anyway, the point is that from time to time we like to have some friendly challenges, be they hockey related drinking games, drinking related drinking games, marathon 20 question matches, or in today's case, fantasy hockey.
Shooter and myself have been following NHL hockey since the 1993 Western Conference finals. We were the only kids in Georgia high schools wearing LA Kings, Boston Bruins, and Washington Capitals gear in gym class. Frenchy and Morty have picked up the greatest game on earth much more recently, but have thrown themselves into it with such passion, that their knowledge at least rivals that of us old guys.
The problem that we have had with fantasy hockey in the past is the day to day labor that most leagues require. So I set up the Chronicle league to be geared more to us ADD types. It is more to test our ability to predict in the pre-season who will have a good year and who will not. All our players are "on the ice" every night, so we don't have to change our bench and roster around every day depending on who actually has a game that night. We can each only make 4 roster moves throughout the year after the initial draft, and that is only so we can dump a player who has a catastrophic injury.
The points are a little different than most leagues as well. Extra points are awarded for game winning goals and powerplay goals. Goalies get 3 points for a win, but also lose a point for every goal against. So if your goalie wins a game, but gave up 5 goals, you end up with a -2 for the night from him. However, if you have Toby Keith Enstrom and he only scored one goal in a night, but it is the game winner, he got you 3 points.
So, a month into the season, here are the rosters and the standings of the first annual Blueland Chronicle Fantasy Hockey Challenge.
Currently in First Place: French Catalogues with 561 points
Centers- Crosby and Malkin
Wingers- Zetterberg, Nash, Vanek, and Semin (You'd think that would cause locker room issues with Semin and Crosby)
Defense- Lidstrom, Rafalski, Visnovsky, and Boyle (Frenchy obviously has no shame)
Goalies- Luongo and Price
2nd: Razor Catch Prey with 497
Centers- E Stall and Stastny
Wingers- The Czar, Hoss, Cheechoo, and Cory Perry
Defense- Campbell, Pronger, Souray, and Weber
Goalies- Nabokov and Kipprusoff
3rd: Mortimer Peacock with 437
Centers- Joe Thorton and Savard
Wingers- Boyes, Doan, Hejduk, and Marleau
Defense- Phaneuf, Markov, Bouwmeester, and Thomas Kaberle
Goalies- Lundqvist and Fleury
4th: Big Shooter with 422
Centers- Datsuk and Spezza
Wingers- Ovy, Iggy, D Sedin, and Sharp
Defense- Chara, Green, Niedermayer, and Duncan Kieth
Goalies- Shooter has taken advantage of the system and dropped both of his goalies in favor of 2 more wingers- Selanne and Getzlaf
I made it through the first period. By the start of the second I was passed out on the couch, not to wake up again until after the game. Something about bull-riding cage-fighters or whatever non-hockey stuff VS. screens.
I had no idea who'd won, so I turned on the trusty Internet to see what NHL.com had to report.
Mortimer=stunned. A Pens victory. A 7-6 score. A Jordan Staal hat trick in the third period. Overtime. Staal with the assist on the game-winner. Unbelievable.
There have to be ways to cut down on sleep.
Sean Leahy's take on Puck Daddy here. A priceless recap from the Pensblog here.
The ballot is retarded, of course, as it doesn't have places for Teemu Selanne, Devin Setoguchi, Slava Kozlov, or Bryan Little. But because the people who run the NHL aren't total morons, they've included a nifty write-in option that allows you to write in any old NHL player you want.
I know I'm being all righteous about Selanne and Seteoguchi and our own Kahlua Line, but the only player I wrote in was Lubomir Visnovsky, for some reason. My choices, if you must know, were as follows:
Lubomir Visnovsky (write-in)
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
OK, I suppose I'll get to the point. Knobler has a great story on what the guys listen to in the locker room. Interesting it comes on the same day Buccigross has a nice piece about AC/DC. For those of you too lazy to click on the link to Knobler, the victory song goes a little something like this:
For The Blueland Chronicle, I'm Big Shooter.
Whether or not they have seen combat, everyone who puts on the uniform of our armed forces takes the risk that they will be called upon at some point to risk their life to ensure the freedoms promised in the Constitution. Making that commitment is an act of heroism in and of itself, which is accentuated by any further acts that a soldier is called upon to make in the line of duty.
It is not only our freedom as Americans that our veterans have sacrificed to protect, but also the freedom and well being of people they would otherwise have never met. American soldiers have fought for freedom in almost every continent of the world. Only Antarctica is left off the list because the vast penguin legions have proven capable of defending their own interests without our help.
So proudly enjoy your freedom today and thank every veteran and/or currently serving member of our armed forces for that privilege. Listen to Big and Rich sing about the 8th of November, and Merle Haggard extol on his Fightin' Side.
I suppose this is the best course of action for now. Kari is our #1 guy, and Moose has proven he's still a capable back-up. Obviously, if things fall apart again we can make a move via trade. For right now, though, things look good.
The Thrashers sent Ondrej Pavelec back to Chicago in what Johan Hedberg had made a predictable move with his play in the third period at Buffalo and throughout the game at Carolina. Hedberg proved himself capable of still being a quality NHL goalie, and if the plan is to have Kari Lehtonen as the No. 1 it makes sense to have Pavelec in Chicago where he can play.
That leaves the Thrashers with 20 healthy players pending the returns of Mathieu Schneider (sooner) and Zach Bogosian (later). There’s no need to rush to bring up spares, based on the the schedule for the next couple of weeks: Three home games, one road game, no back-to-backs and the road game is in Philadelphia, which is very easily accessible should the Thrashers need a last-minute call-up.
The next time the Thrashers might want an extra forward around is Nov. 25 and 26, when they play at Toronto and Washington back-to-back, with a Nov. 28 home game making it three games in four days. Might Brett Sterling be back for that, or Mike Hoffman, who should be ready to fight by then? How about Hoffman vs. Donald Brashear?
Some people in the comments section over at the AJC have raised the question of whether the Thrashers should bring in Brett Sterling to play semi-permanently on the fourth line. This would send Eric Boulton to Chicago, I reckon. I can understand the argument, as Sterling would give our fourth line some scoring punch and perhaps generate even more energy, which is exactly what a fourth line should do. Sterling and Slater seemed to play well together in the game against Detroit.
The problem with this, though, is that our fourth line has actually been playing quite well in the last few games. They're doing what they're meant to do, namely keeping the other team pinned down in their own zone. And you can't say that Eric Boulton doesn't generate energy. Yes, the man's a penalty machine, but he fights! Fighting creates energy.
In a press conference a few weeks ago John Anderson told journalists that he wanted goals from the top two lines, goals and the prevention of goals from the third line, and energy from the fourth line. In the last four games, especially in the last two, each line has done exactly what it was supposed to do. If the Party Line (the new unofficial name for our third line) can keep scoring goals, the Thrashers will only get better. Even without the goals, the line wins shifts like nobody's business and prevents the opponent from scoring.
And like I said, the fourth line does what it's supposed to do. Unless something goes drastically wrong I don't think we should tinker with the line-up. It appears that that elusive thing, chemistry, might be setting in.