Monday, January 28, 2013

NHL 2013, The Stories So Far, Eastern Conference

So were about 5 or 6 games into the season (depending on your team).

You know, forget about the wins and losses, goals, assists, points, goals against average and save percentage!

There is something else that always brings me in about the NHL: The storylines!

Already there are plenty, and if this continues, this just might be the most talked about 48 game regular season since 94/95!

So right out of the gate, you have Florida, Philly and Washington struggling. All three teams made the playoffs last year, Philly and Washington each won a playoff round, Florida didn't, but finished in first place in the Southeast.

Ovie isn't scoring, at least until his last game, Bryz isn't consistent, Florida, well, are we going to write last season off as a fluke?

Buffalo and Toronto meet tomorrow. Both started out fast, but have since faded, a game each below .500. The Leafs are young, and much of this season, I suspect is going to focus on Mr. Kadri. Depending on your source, he's either amazing or just a AHLer disguised as an NHL. We will see this year. In goal, Scivens has played well, but the Leafs are hoping that James Reimer, a good (but inconsistent) goalie can be Mr. #1!

Buffalo has some scoring, but just some. And it's like back in the Hasek era: It's just not enough support for the goalie, Miller in this case, whose numbers are excellent. Now granted, they have Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville off to tremendous starts, (and even Cody Hodgson, too) but other than that? Not much. And once these guys come down to earth, who picks up the slack?

Carolina (otherwise known as Team Staal) and New York are a little sub par, as the play of Jordan Staal and Rick Nash will be closely followed by everyone.

The Islanders are actually at .500 exactly, but can they go (and stay) above it. It's kinda sad, knowing that they will be leaving in a few seasons. But at least it's not much of a move. Still, they need to make the playoffs, or they will not have fans no matter where they play!

Pittsburgh is doing a little less than what I'm sure is expected. You know, so many have said that the Pens, with a healthy Sid, should do well, at least in the regular season. You know, with Sid there for just 22 games last year, the Pens won 51 games. But with Sid there in the playoffs, they won only two.

See, problem here is, the Flyers exposed in last year (a long time ago!) what is apparent about Pittsburgh: when they lack discipline, they are a very beatable team, no matter who you have in there. I watched the Pens two losses this year to Toronto and Winnipeg. They were right in the game, 2-2 vs Toronto, 2-0 vs Winny, and they started playing dumb hockey: givaways and penalties galore!

Three Canadian team, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Montreal, are rolling right along behind some great goaltending. Anderson is proving that last year was no fluke, Price keeps reminding you that he is light years older than his apparent 25 years. Pavelec is also 25 years old, off to one of his best starts, maybe his best start, of any season.

So, aside from Price's goaltending, Michel Therrien (he's come full circle, now) back behind the World'.s Toughest Job, anything else in Hab country.

Oh.

Yeah.

P.

K.

Okay, how is this going to play out. Well, it's an unecessary distraction, like Luongo in Vancouver. Thing about the Habs is, never put yourself above the team. Granted, it's been 20 years since the Habs have won the Cup, and more than 30 years since the Habs OWNED the Cup, but Montreal still has that tradition. You play for the team, you care about Montreal. Somehow, I think some of the guys there are going to think that PK doesn't really want to be here, thus leading to his ouster.

I'm not sure about that, but the longer this thing goes, the harder it's going to be for PK if he returns to Montreal. Were he a vetran, or had a proven track record of exceptional play, maybe. But he doesn't, so don't be surprised if we see a trade.

Marty Brodeur is 40 years years old, and will be 41 on May 6th. And I will continue to hear how overrated he is, how he faces easy shots, how he wasn't even close to the best of his time.

And I will continue to see him win, win, win.

And shutout, shutout, shutout.

So keep up whatever you have to say about him. He's winning, he's got another shutout.

And did I mention his GAA is 1.69? Heeeeeeeere's Marty!

Now, is Tampa Bay a surprise? They've got Stamper, Lecavalier, and St. Louis. But they also have Conacher and Purcell! Add that up and they are first in the league in goals for with 24. Plus Anders Lindback in playing well enough, Mathieu Garon played excellent in his first game. Only 4 teams in the East have allowed fewer goals, and 3 of them have played 1 fewer game. Lightning could strike them!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Now That Hockey Is Back

...and me being Canadian born an raised, I guess things are back to normal for now. NHL season, I welcome! I touched on this before. But that was before hockey came back. There was a real question of if!

Plus I've had some time to think about what I miss in hockey and what bothers me in hockey.

So, I felt like it was time to ask you, with hockey back now, officially, what you would like to see this season?

But for now, here's what I'm really looking for:

1) I hope we don't have another strike for the rest of my life. Honestly, I've been through four. Four, and no more please.

2) Less injuries. I guess I should have just said concussions.

3) Less fighting. Look, if needs be, fine, go ahead and fight. But these staged fights (outlawed, btw, in the WHL) have got to go. I mean, it just slows the pace down.

4) Longer suspensions for head shots. I guess we can see #2 up there. But really, if we came down harder on these elbows and cross-checks, and even shoulders, to the head, we would see less concussions and head injuries in general. And I don't care if the guy comes back the next day and scores 5 goals, or gets a shutout. You hit to the head, you're gone for at least 10 games!

5) More offence. Ah, being a child of the 80s and loving those 8-7 shootouts were so much fun.

6) More East VS West. So were not getting an All Star game, right? Wow, even baseball has inter league play. Hockey doesn't for this year. Yeah, I know, this will just be a dream for this season, perhaps I should skip it altogether!

7) At the end of the season, a team in Quebec. I think that's the third time I've mentioned it. Hey, I watch classic hockey games, you know. And I can tell you, there was magic in the building (Montreal or Quebec) in the battle of Quebec.

8) Less homerism by commentators. Jack Edwards, please go away!

9) More respect. You know, we'd have less of #2, #3, and no reason to worry about #4 so much.

10) Leafs in the playoffs. About time, don't you say? Actually, I'd like to see all Canadian teams in the playoffs. We'd get one step closer to #7 if it happened.

 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013 BBWAA, Part 4: Whose Votes To Pay Attention To

So from what I have read and heard, looks like everyone is sticking it to Bonds and Clemens. So, there's them and who else that the voters should take a look at, positive and negative:

There are two leadoff hitters: Tim Raines (6th time) and Kenny Lofton (1st time). Although not exaclty sluggers, they weren't exactly singles hitters either, as both his over 150 homeruns. Raines' OBP (.385) is the 5th highest of anyone on the ballot this year. Lofton stole more bases (622) than anyone else on the ballot except Timmy (802), and Raines played about 400 more games.

Personally, I'd have no problem with either of them making it. But somehow I don't think this year. Loften will probably have to wait at least 7 years. By then, hopefully, Raines will be in. Voters will vote this year for them, you just watch!

Then, as mentioned in an earlier blog, there are the big three pitchers: Morris, Wells, Schilling. Now all won less than 300 games, but all won more than 200 and all were great postseason pitchers. Granted, the lowest of the three's ERA was Schilling's 3.46. But the postseason success of all three, plus there is no PEDs here, should see them get a lot of votes this year. I doubt Morris and Wells will make it this time. Schilling might, because pitching the Red Sox to a World Series, gets everyone's attention!

Starters? How about closers? We have three very fine candidates in Lee Smith, Jose Mesa and Roberto Hernandez. All have over 300 saves. But like the above big three pitchers, all of them have high ERAs.

How about Dale Murphy? It's his last year on the ballot. And while I think it's a real long shot, because, note the irony here, he was so nice, and the guy who wasn't (Bonds) is also on the ballot for the first time. This makes me think he will get a lot of votes.

Now how about Alan Trammell? He had some power (185), hit a more-than-respectable .285 and was an excellent defensive shortstop. It's his 13th year on the ballot.

The guy with the highest OBP (.418), next to Bonds, is Edgar Martinez. Next is Jeff Bagwell (.408) and Larry Walker (.400).

My bet to get in this year would be Bagwell, since there is no steroid accusations, over 400 homeruns (449), an average around .300 (.297) and a high OBP. His 1529 RBIs is second to Fred McGriff (I think Freddie will make it in about 5 years) among non-steroid users. He'll get a lot of votes for that.

The other player who should make it is Mike Piazza. Again, no steroid use. 427 homeruns as a catcher is eye popping. And he batted over .300 (.308). The voters can't overlook a catcher that great.