Zetterberg ICON SMI

 

This month, I take a look at Mason Raymond’s recovery, Josh Harding, Henrik Zetterberg’s struggles, why I hate the shootout, and more.

 

This column is a part of the month-long contest the Province newspaper is having. Please go to this link and give it the thumbs up!


1. Considering how spotty his defensive play is, it is amazing Marc-Andre Bergeron has been able to make a nice career for himself in the NHL. It just goes to show how potent his point shot is (arguably the best in the league). He is a power play specialist in every sense of the word – Bergeron’s shot forces teams to respect it, which opens up ice for the likes of Stamkos, Lecavalier, and St. Louis. What other players around the league have been able to carve a career out of one or two elite assets?

 

2. The word underrated gets tossed around a lot, but one player who deserves the status is Florida’s Jason Garrison. Garrison was the most reliable defenseman on the team last season, pairing with Mike Weaver. He didn’t contribute much offense overall (18 points in 73 games), but he did show a few flashes throughout the season. This year, the offense has arrived (five goals in 12 games). His two best offensive traits are his shot and his ability to jump into the play. He doesn’t have the vision to be a power play quarterback, but he’s developed into a very good top four defenseman who can play in all situations. Oh, and he’s an unrestricted free agent next summer. He’ll be in line for a nice raise from the current $700,000 he makes. Using Dale Tallon’s logic, I’m seeing a four-year, $20-million contract for Garrison.

 

3. Mason Raymond’s training and rehabilitation is going very well. He’s been able to do a lot of dry land based stuff, including some explosive lateral movements and Plyometrics (which is great, as it shows his back is able to support external resistance and create power). His skating is still in the basic stages, but he’ll be back at 100% at some point this season. He’s a restricted free agent next summer, and it will be interesting to see where he fits in to the lineup upon returning.

 

Cody Hodgson has been very good in the past few games, but he’s quite obviously a natural center. Raymond wouldn’t likely get tossed right onto the second line, though. Expect him to be eased back into even strength play on the fourth line, while seeing a regular shift with the second power play unit.

 

4. Where does Eric Fehr fit in to the Jets lineup once he is healthy? The Ladd-Little-Wheeler line has been decent, but they haven’t been able to consistently create offense, which isn’t good enough from a top offensive unit. Little is still contributing in other ways, but I’m not sold on Wheeler there. Fehr could give that line a similar look – size and scoring. The second line with Kane, Burmistrov, and Antropov is starting to click, and I don’t see Claude Noel splitting them up.

 

5. Why has Ville Leino struggled in Buffalo? A lot of times players try to do too much when they receive large contracts with a new team. Leino’s bread and butter is winning puck battles and creating offense down low and along the half wall. He has looked uncomfortable at center (as many Flyer fans expected he would), and the Sabres have many similar players on the wing.

 

Because of his contract, he’ll be given a longer leash to pick up his play. It isn’t fair to other players in the organization, but it is just how these things go. Teams want to show that they didn’t make a mistake with a signing or trade, especially early on. Leino, on paper, should settle in nicely as a second or third line winger contributing 15-25 goals and 45-60 points. Is that worth $4.5 million per season? Probably not, but Buffalo knew they were making an overpayment when they signed him.

 

6. Troy Brouwer’s offensive production through 10 games hasn’t been overwhelming (five points), but his overall game has been very solid. He leads the entire league in hits, and he’s opened up a lot of open ice for Ovechkin and Backstrom thanks to his physicality and strong board play. Brouwer is trending up right now and I’d be looking to acquire him in both one-year and keeper leagues.

 

7. What is going on with the Islanders goaltending situation? Rick DiPietro made his third straight start last night. Al Montoya served as the backup, as Evgeni Nabokov sat out with a minor injury (although it sounds like is very close to returning). I try to avoid goaltending situations with two goalies competing for one spot, as it is very frustrating to project starts. A situation with three goalies is even more difficult to get a read on.

 

Nabokov strung together a few very good starts before his injury, and DiPietro is as unreliable as it gets. If I had to pick a goalie for this year, I’d go with Nabokov. If I had to pick one for a keeper league, I’d go with none of the three. I like Montoya, but it isn’t a good strategy to wait around for a goalie who may not even be a backup (in his case, due more to circumstance than skill).

 

8. Why is the shootout so much worse than the penalty shot? This article sums it up nicely:

 

  • It's not a part of the game.
  • The other team didn't do anything wrong for you to get that attempt at the net. It's just the way it is.
  • The goal, if scored, does not count as a goal on the scoreboard. It's some other quasi-scoreboard.
  • There's the whole "wait, how's this game worth three points when if it ended five minutes ago it'd only be two points?" thing. But that applies to overtime as well.
  • The rarity of it? There have already been 160 shootout attempts taken in 27 shootouts this year. And it's only early November. There were 1,059 attempts at the net in 149 shootouts a year ago, and those numbers were down from the year prior.

I wonder how long it will take for the NHL to ditch the shootout and go to 10 minute overtime – five minutes of four-on-four and five minutes of three-on-three? If they end up doing so, I’d try and get Scott Niedermayer to come out of retirement. Imagine him skating around with only five other players on the ice?

 

9. Anaheim winger Emerson Etem is off to a blazing start in the WHL. Buzzing the Net, one of the best CHL blogs on the ‘net, takes a look. Etem has 22 goals in 16 games, and he’s been held off the score sheet only once. He has a shot at being the first 60-goal scorer in the WHL in the last 11 years.

 

Etem is apparently one of only five players in the past 16 years to be averaging a goal per game this far into the season. Over this time, there has been only one other player with a similar total.”


Etem is going to star for the United States at the upcoming World Junior Championships – if you want to trade for him, you better do it quickly.

 

10. Henrik Zetterberg is off to an awful start this season, with only two goals and four points in 11 games. After a great first couple of games, Detroit as a team has struggled mightily, as well. The two are not merely coincidental – Zetterberg is arguably as important to the success of the Red Wings as Datsyuk and Lidstrom are. Detroit lost two veteran coaches this past summer – Paul MacLean to Ottawa, and Brad McCrimmon to the KHL (McCrimmon tragically died in the fatal Lokomotiv plane crash). Brian Rafalski retired, but Detroit lost no other notable players last summer.

 

Back to Zetterberg – he’s a proven star who had a full summer to train (his first in a while). Detroit is finding out that it isn’t easy to win consistently in the NHL. I’d be looking to buy low on him. Obviously basing predictions entirely on the past is far from a perfect strategy, but it is one that proves to be true more than 50% of the time. Apply it consistently and you’ll be winning more often than not.

 

(Zetterberg had a goal and three shots on goal last night after I wrote this.)


11. Josh Harding started his fourth straight for the Wild last night. Has he managed to spark a bit of a goaltending controversy? Nik Backstrom makes $6 million and has a no trade clause, but Harding is letting his play do the talking. I had a chance to acquire him this past summer for a small return, and am kicking myself for passing on the opportunity. He’s an injury risk but the talent has always been there. As I mentioned above with Leino, salary often comes before performance when teams decide their lines and starting goalies, but Harding will play more this season than most people had expected. Hockey Wilderness takes a look:

 

“The Wild have used a goalie tandem before. Heck, for years it was Manny Fernandez and Dwayne Roloson. Then, Roli the Goalie was traded, and Manny the... um... emotional basket case goalie took the reigns. Even then, Harding was to be the new backup. Then Harding's back injury forced the Wild's hand and they inked Backstrom. It wasn't long until Backstrom outplayed Fernandez and the team was his.


Then, the long term, high dollar contract with the no-trade clause that reads something statistical about him not being able to be traded while he is still the number one in town.


At this point, it is very, very early, but Backstrom is not currently the number one on this team. To think otherwise is foolhardy. Eventually, Harding is going to need a break, and Backstrom will play. What if he shuts out the opponent? Does Harding go back in? Does Backstrom? Is it a "ride the hot hand" situation? Is it now a tandem?”


12. Carolina fans, feel free to chime in. What, exactly, is wrong with Eric Staal?

 

13. Pekka Rinne’s contract is a big one, not only in dollar amount ($49 million over seven years), but also in regards to how it affects the rest of the Nashville lineup. I have a hunch Shea Weber is gone within the next year, and I think that move may be sped up if one of two things happens:

 

  • Ryan Suter signs a big contract extension in the next few months
  • Nashville struggles and misses the playoffs

 

The former is more likely to happen than the latter, especially with Rinne around. Nashville was in a bit of a Catch-22 situation here. They want to prove to their players (like Suter and Weber) that they are serious about winning. Signing one of the best goalies in the world for the next seven years certainly shows that. However, they also committed a significant portion of their salary budget to Rinne, and now there is less of the pie to go to the likes of Suter and/or Weber.

 

14. If you were in a fantasy hockey pool with the following rules, who would you rank as your top three?

 

  • Only defensemen
  • Keeper league
  • Only goals and assists count
  • No salary cap

 

My picks (in no particular order) – Keith Yandle, Erik Karlsson, and Kris Letang.

 

15. Jamie Benn is going to be a contender for the Art Ross Trophy at some point in the next five years. He is the total package.

 


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Comments (26)add comment

Sanstanya said:

sanstanya
@Lee Majors I Agree 100% - that model is terrible. I only used soccer as an example to show that regulation ties don't seem to have a negative impact on fanship for that sport, and the shootout is constantly sold as an innovation that drives broader fan interest for hockey. I'm sure that it can, I just don't think it's required, or that it adds any true value to the game. Seems like a lazy way to expand the market (and therefore profits) at the expense of the actual integrity of the product.
November 07, 2011
Votes: +0

Lee Majors said:

Colt_Seavers
Shootouts I'm pretty apathetic when it comes to shootouts. 3 on 3 would prob be more exciting though. But anyway, I don't think soccer is great example for shootouts. They settle tied World Cup games with penalty kicks! At least the NHL only uses it in the regular season. Settling important games with a shootout (where it's so easy to score too) is truly crazy. You often see lesser teams playing for a tie and hoping to go to penalties. And that is soooooo boring to watch.
November 07, 2011
Votes: +0

Sanstanya said:

sanstanya
ties vs shootouts not even a debate for me. Shootouts are the lamest gimmick ever in a major sport since the glowing fox puck, adn that dind't impact the game on the ice just fans respect for it. Shootouts are just circus-sideshow pathetic.

As others have pointed out, hockey is NOT the only major sport to have had ties, as soccer does the world over and doesn't seem to be hurting for fans. So there is ample evidence that ties in sports are not inherently evil. Also, as others pointed out, there are multiple ways to implement different point systems so that it is worth "going for the win" instead of playing for the tie. The tie was never the problem; the previous point system, in combination with boring clutch-and-grab hockey, was.

In the larger context, unfortunately, they never gave the "new NHL" a chance to show how it could make the old game different - instead the league made 19 rule changes at once and now it's next to impossible to measure the effect of each.

The biggest test of any rule change for me is intent: the loudest case I hear for the shootout is that it appeals to more people and therefore "grows the game." But if you have to make circus-like rule changes to attract new fans...well really, do I need to finish that sentence? If baseball's popularity was waning and the league panicked and implemented a home-run contest to decided games tied after 9 innings wouldn't you think "what a 2-bit league" and/or "way to sell out the storied tradition of your game?" I don't give a rat's ass about baseball but even I now that shouldn't be messed with. Why does hockey havhe to be the franken-sport?

Highlight the skill, improve player safety, leave the rest alone.

Just because I couldn't let this go...3 on 3 is more "hockey" than a penalty shot because you're still playing hockey - passing, hitting, everything that normally happens in play. The acceptability of a penalty shot during game play relies entirely on the fact that the call is only made when a player has made an infraction that stopped a scoring chance on an outright breakaway (created during normal game play). So the guy gets his breakaway back. Basically tit for tat - it's a compensatory call. Just like a freethrow in basketball, which will never be used to decide outcomes of games because the NBA knows how stupid that would be.
November 07, 2011
Votes: +0

dave k. said:

dkilburyhockey
voting Jeff, you had 96 ups when I went to do the 97th...it changed momentarily and then reverted to 96...tried several times..no luck.

Dave
November 07, 2011
Votes: +0

Ryan Lenethen said:

DarthVain
12. Carolina fans, feel free to chime in. What, exactly, is wrong with Eric Staal? Well for starters he is -16... smilies/smiley.gif
November 07, 2011
Votes: +1

Draft Dodger said:

steve_oshp
Ties are OK Might be splitting hairs, but I think the problem is not that a game ends up tied, it's that teams play for the tie. Even the shootout hasn't changed that very much. Teams will play for the regulation tie, then try for the win in OT or the shootout. I agree with 3 points for the win, 1 for a tie. Keep the 5 mins 4 on 4 if you want but no point for the loser. Nothing wrong with a hard earned tie between 2 even teams.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +1

B. W. said:

SavageGardener
3-1-0 3 points for a win (regulation or overtime), 1 for a tie (after overtime), 0 for a loss (reg or OT). Would love to see the top teams fear "dropping points" against the weaker teams, and then they throw everything at the latter in a tie game, in order to keep up with their rivals who just won their own game and took all 3 points.

TOCanadaFan has it dead-on. Football (soccer) had it figured out eons ago.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +1

David said:

OceanMon
Shootouts I like shootouts. I find them exciting. I love it when players do sweet moves. Or when goalies make sweet saves. They should extend it to best of 5 rounds.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +1

Katharsis said:

Katharsis
Re: Staal's struggles... Not a Carolina fan, but, as I've said before on the forums, I think Eric is struggling because his mind is still on Marc. Hasn't been the same since that hit, and I don't think it will improve until Marc does.

I'm basing this on an earlier thought or tweet from EF I think, I can't find the thought so it must have been on twitter. Were it anyone else I'd file it under hearsay but EF is EF. And it just makes sense really...
November 06, 2011
Votes: +0

sentium said:

Dakkster
... Oh, I forgot... I read a blog post over at Kukla's Korner, one by the immensely dimwitted PuckStopsHere. He wrote, and i quote, "The way he is playing, Marc-Andre Bergeron is a Norris Trophy contender.". If that's not the stupidest thing you've read all year, then please point me to whatever is even more stupid, because I could use the laugh. PuckStopsHere has made it into an art to annoy KK readers by posting shit that makes it obvious that he NEVER actually watches hockey and is the biggest statwanker ever. My jaw is still on the floor after reading that sentence.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +0

sentium said:

Dakkster
... You left out the two biggest losses for the Wings from last year. Draper and Osgood were more important to the Wings' backbone than most non-Wings fans realize. They were great motivators and their voices are missing in the locker room and on the bench.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +0

TOCanadafan said:

TOCanadafan
... Football (soccer) figured out how to deal with the tie years ago when they started awarding 3 points for a win. It's time hockey ditched the shootout and overtime and award 3 points for a win (giving each team only 1 point for the tie)
November 06, 2011
Votes: +2

Big Ev said:

Big Ev
... Actually Heaton you are very much wrong on the gambling point, as you can bet on a tie, just line in soccer.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +0

Heaton said:

Heaton
Hah, 'NA fans' Does no one remember the boring 1-1 ties that happened all the time prior to the shootout? There was no 'go for it!' mentality prior to the shootout, teams would settle for the tie and be happy with it.

Seriously, people are so anti-shootout that they would rather go back to something that was a problem but it's viewed as less of a problem. Come up with a solution since shootouts and ties are terrible.

Having a winner in every game helps a lot of things. 1) Wins are better than ties. 2) You cannot bet on games that end in ties, whether or not you gamble is irrelevant, gambling is a mammoth thing in sports 3) It has nothing to do with bragging and everything to do with making the game better. All of the comments like 'well it was good for X amount of years!' Yes, a lot of things were in place for a long time, doesn't mean it was the best thing for it.

I think a hybrid is the way to go, fix the point system, add some minutes to the overtime with less players and if all of that fails, go to the shootout.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +1

UKflames said:

UKflames
Tied games I love how you NA fans cannot handle a tie smilies/cheesy.gif "What you mean both teams scored the same amount of goals and have to share the points but but there has to be a winner, how can I brag to my mates at work if we tie"

I hate the shootout and they should just go for more overtime but i don't see the problem with a tie. Believe it or not it might actually make both teams go for the win if they thought they couldn't secure an extra pont, 82 ties isn't going to get you enough points to make the playoffs.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +0

Jeff Angus said:

November 06, 2011
Votes: +0

Heaton said:

Heaton
Yeah, but... It doesn't have to be a tie OR a shootout, just come up with something else. There has been a debate that if a shootout isn't good enough for the playoffs, why is it good enough for the regular season? So then the question would be if a tie isn't good enough for the playoffs, why would it be in the regular season? Why not go crazy and come up with some point system where the team that accumulates the most points in the post season would be considered the cup winner? Probably because that's a terrible idea, the Cup winner wins because they win games.

The shootout sucks, ties suck and continuous OT is not plausible for the regular season. There has to be some way to get a winner every time.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +1

Big Ev said:

Big Ev
... Shootouts blow and only appeal to casual fans (like the poster below said, girlfriends and such). I would rather see a tie then award another point for a crapshoot gimmick like the shootout.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +0

lusshouse said:

lusshouse
Shootout I have to disagree with you about shootout.

1 - They are exciting.

2 - Even my girlfriend, who dislikes hockey, enjoys watching the shootout.

3 - Ties are the worst thing possible. I'd agree, though, to ditch the extra point given to the losing team. This makes no sense at all.

4 - Even during playoffs, I'd rather watch a shootout and not miss the beginning of the West game or get the opportunity to go to bed -- instead of falling asleep during the 2nd OT of Chicago @ Vancouver and miss the winner altogether.

5 - I don't see how 3-on-3 is more "hockey" than a penalty shots. Penalty shots are part of the game too, you know.

6 - What they did to deserve a penalty shot? Played well enough during 65 minutes, but not well enough to beat the other team, so you get a shot and you give away a shot. As simple as it is.

7 - Individual prowesses vs a team sport? How about free throws in basketball? Have you ever watched the final 3 minutes of a tight basketball game? Free shots are actually more important than the previous 57 minutes of the game. How about football OT, where a team does not have to score a TD, but only make it to the 35-yard line to have a kicker send the ball between the posts for the extra 3 pts.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +0

Heaton said:

Heaton
Perhaps 1. Perhaps, but there needs to be a guarantee of a winner and a loser, sports are meant to create that.

2. Not really. Detroit has played poorly at times over the lockout, this team is much weaker than the previous 5 or 6 but the struggle to stay good isn't lost on the organization. I understand the point you were trying to make but to me, it implies the Wings haven't had any recent struggles, which isn't the case.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +0

Jeff Angus said:

angus
... 1) Ties are not the worst thing in sports. Having the games decided by something with zero relevance to the rest of the game is.

2) What is meant is what I wrote - winning in the NHL post-lockout consistently is tough. A lot of parity. Perhaps - "Detroit is getting a reminder that..." would have been more appropriate?
November 06, 2011
Votes: +1

Heaton said:

Heaton
Few things 1) The NHL will never ditch the shootout until there is another way to guarantee there won't be ties. Ties are the worst thing in sports and why no other league has them. Football maybe has one tie every year and their own players (McNabb) don't even realize they exist because of the rarity. The shootout may suck, but the tie is worse.

2) It may have just been a poorly written sentence but what exactly is meant by 'Detroit is finding out that it isn’t easy to win consistently in the NHL.' You think Detroit found it easy to make the playoffs for 20+ seasons and be the most successful team in the NHL for the past 15? I think the Wings knew how difficult it was even before the 6 game winless streak.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +0

GMGates said:

GMGates
... Beauty edition. This is a stellar series.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +0

steve laidlaw said:

metaldude26
Etem I assume you meant to say he is going to star for the US at the World Juniors. Great stuff otherwise.
November 06, 2011
Votes: +0

Jeff Angus said:

November 06, 2011
Votes: +0

John said:

MinorityReport
... You mean Etem is going to star for the United States?
November 06, 2011
Votes: +0
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