Just wanted to wish everyone on the site (writers, readers, and of course the boss man himself) a very Happy New Year. 2011 has been the busiest year for me yet, as I have taken on a bigger role here, as well as a few other writing gigs as well (in addition to my "real life" job). Writing and following hockey are both passions of mine, and it has been extremely rewarding to turn those passions into something I get paid to do.
I have grown immensely as a writer, thanks in large part to feedback from my readers. For people that want to get into writing, practice really is the best way to get better. The year wasn't a great one for hockey (concussions and some untimely passings...), but we saw some great hockey in the playoffs. The best teams in the league (Boston, Vancouver, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh) all play exciting and different brands of hockey.
There is no set way to build a team any more, which is great. Some teams beat you with depth, goaltending, and physical play (Boston). Some outskate you (Chicago), some out skill you (Detroit) and others force you to take penalties and make you pay (Vancouver). Elliotte Friedman touched on the different strengths of each elite team in his recent 30 Thoughts column, as well.
For how big the site has become, it is amazing that we have managed to keep the 'community' feel. There are minimal fires to put out (and our mods do a great job of cleaning up), and people are extremely supportive and genuinely interested in helping each other out. We all share a love for hockey (and fantasy hockey in particular), and that shines through each and every day. I hope everyone has a terrific weekend (Canucks/Kings on the tube, potluck with some friends, doesn't get much better for me) and a great 2012 year - Angus
Roberto Luongo, a player who usually on the receiving end of criticism from many (including myself), is delivering right now. In December, he has gone 9-2-1 with a 1.87 GAA and a .934 SV %. He won't shed his reputation until he can deliver consistently in the playoffs, but he has regained his status as one of the best goalies around. Just needs to get those awful starts figured out...
Was awesome to see Eric Lindros in Flyers colors skating around today. Certain players "are" the team they play or used to play for. That is exactly the case with Lindros and Philadelphia.
Down Goes Brown unveils their NHL year in review piece for 2011.
"June 23 - The Flyers trade popular stars Jeff Carter and Mike Richards to free up cap space to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a massive contract, according to an announcement from someone who looks suspiciously like the casting director for HBO's 24/7 series wearing a Paul Holmgrem mask."
Nick Backstrom has six points in his last five games.
Perception vs. Reality - the Alex Burrows Story. Give my latest piece a read.
One day left in 2011.... check out my year in review from last week right here.
Luke Adam had only two goals and two assists in 13 December games.
Christian Ehrhoff will be out for weeks after fighting Troy Brouwer, according to coach Lindy Ruff. You can’t take the Canucks/Blackhawks rivalry away, apparently.
Ovechkin scored twice last night and finally surpassed Jason Chimera for the team lead with 14 goals.
Regarding prospect Yevgeni Kuznetsov:
"He should here next year," Washington general manager George McPhee said.
Taking a gander at the NHL hits leader board…. Gabriel Landeskog is leading all rookies league hits with 100.
Another great read from the forums - 10 fantasy thoughts on the impact of the recent coaching changes in the league.
Among rookies, Habs defensive missile Alexei Emelin is close behind with 98 – is he the new Kasparaitis? Throws unique and devastating hits.
Funny and totally irrelevant story – Kevin Bieksa was dared by his teammates to drop the phrase “milk hotdogs” into his pregame interview yesterday. Bieksa, of course, obliged them. For his troubles, he received $300. Here is the video evidence.
A great read from the Copper & Blue regarding the way Ales Hemsky has mistreated by Edmonton’s media (especially compared to other injury prone players).
“Hemsky has struggled with his health since injuring his shoulder on this boarding from Michal Handzus. Prior to that hit, Hemsky played 443 of 517 games, 86% of all games, or 71 games per season. Since that hit, Hemsky has played in 69 of 174 games, 40% of all games, or 32 games per season. His shoulders have betrayed him to this point, but he's finding his way back to health this season, though probably slower than both he and Edmonton management would like.”
Anze Kopitar has zero goals in his last 17 games. Ouch – I don’t own him in any leagues and don’t see the Kings play all that often – had completely missed this one.
Kevin Connauton (Vancouver) leads all AHL defensemen in goals with nine. His defensive game has looked better this season, and he’s a huge asset on the power play.
I managed to catch some of the USA loss to the Czech Republic yesterday – as you probably now, the Czech goaltender (Petr Mrazek) was ridiculously good. He stopped 52 of 54 shots fired his way. The Red Wings picked him in the fifth round of the 2010 draft.
Andy McDonald skated yesterday, but he still isn’t symptom free. In his own words:
“I'm not symptom-free. I'd say I'm 90-95 percent right now. I felt, and a decision was made with the doctors and the training staff here, that it was safe for me to go out and skate and try to take it to the next level. But I'm not symptom-free and the hope is, with practice and a little bit more time, it will progress to 100 percent."
Don’t take my word for it, but Mike Green is apparently getting close to a return.
Matt Duchene will be out for the next month with a knee injury. Terrible news for the Avs, even if Duchene was struggling recently.
Evgeni Malkin leads the league in shots on goal per game with 4.8. In fact, three of the top four are Penguins (James Neal and Crosby, although Crosby’s sample size of eight games isn’t much).
Some unsustainable shooting percentages (minimum of 30 games played):
Jordan Staal (22.4 percent), Curtis Glencross (22.2), Valtteri Filppula (21.4 percent), Milan Michalek (21.1 percent), and Milan Lucic (19.4) among others.