Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Breaking down Brandon Dubinsky's comments about Jody Shelley

"That's what he'll look like by the time I'm done with him." - Dubinsky (not actually a quote.)
Photo from Broadstreethockey.com

Last year's HBO 24/7 series featured Bruce Boudreau and some colorful language.  Well, Boudreau is now unemployed, but Brandon Dubinsky is doing his share to hype up this year's 24/7 series.  In case, you missed it, here are some of Dubinsky's comments regarding Jody Shelley and what he really meant to say (you can read the original article here).

Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky fired back at Flyers enforcer Jody Shelley, who called him a "weasel" in HBO's 15-minute "24/7" teaser.

"For the first time in the Gary Bettman era, NHL players expressed emotion."

"It won't be long before he's out of the league, because he's a terrible hockey player," Dubinsky told the New York Daily News on Monday.

"My buddy Prust has been warming up his elbows for our next game against the Flyers."

Dubinsky, who led the Rangers in scoring last season*, continued to blast his former teammate.

*Not a difficult thing to do last season.

"First of all, if I was him, I'd keep my mouth shut if I don't play, especially since I never see him on the ice."

"BizNasty plays more than this guy."

"He's usually just yapping from the bench, and I guess now he's yapping from behind the video camera. So that's about all I have to say."

"I follow BizNasty on Twitter, but I would never follow Shelley.  Take that, Jody!"

But he didn't stop there. The 25-year-old forward also called Flyers antagonist Zac Rinaldo "an idiot.*"

*Upon further review, Dubinsky's comment about Rinaldo is, in fact, a fact.

"I think he's an idiot.  He's not really a good hockey player. So if that's what he does to try to get under our skin, I don't think it works very well. He's not very effective at it. I think they should just keep putting him on the ice because he's a liability against us."

"This Rinaldo guy is exactly like Sean Avery...oh wait, you didn't hear that!"

Monday, November 28, 2011

Top 10 Video Special - Coaches who lost their first game

Welcome to the 12th edition of DGA's Top 10 Video Special.  Earlier today, the Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals both announced new head coaches to their hockey teams: Kirk Muller and Dale Hunter, respectively.  Since I'm an optimistic person, let's take a look at some head coaches whose first game with their teams didn't go so well.  Note the theme of Atlantic Division coaches in this countdown. 

#10 - John Tortorella (New York Rangers)

Tortorella's coaching debut with the Rangers ended in a shootout loss.

#9 - Jack Capuano (New York Islanders)

The Islanders had lost 10 in a row before Capuano came in, and well, things didn't really turn around.  They still haven't.

#8 - Jacques Lemaire (New Jersey Devils)

What would a coaching countdown be without some representation from the Devils?

#7 - John MacLean (New Jersey Devils)

Okay, how about two from the Devils?

#6 - Scott Arniel (Columbus Blue Jackets)

It isn't susprising that the Jackets lost, though, is it?

#5 - Paul MacLean (Ottawa Senators)

MacLean's first game as a coach resulted in a loss.

#4 - Peter DeBoer (New Jersey Devils)

Did I mention the Devils change coaches a lot?

#3 - Jacques Lemaire...again (New Jersey Devils)



#2 - Claude Noël (Winnipeg Jets)

Well, as Jim Hughson says, the Jets really won this game because they got their team back...

#1 - Peter Laviolette (Philadelphia Flyers)

Lavy watched as the Caps had one of the longest power plays in NHL history during his first game in Philly.

So there's my Top 10.  Didn't like it?  Have a better idea for a Top 10 special?  Comment below, e-mail me (downgoesavery@aol.com) or tweet to me (@DownGoesAvery).  I'm always looking for new and better ideas.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NHL Power Rankings - Week of November 27th, 2011

Here we go: Week 7 of the 2011-12 season and DGA's Week 7 NHL Power Rankings.  Absolutely nothing worthy of discussion happened this week, so let's start.

1. Boston Bruins (+8) - If Tyler Seguin wins the Selke Trophy and Phil Kessel wins the Art Ross, Rocket Richard and Hart Trophy, does that mean the Bruins won the trade by Claude Julien's logic?

2. Detroit Red Wings (+4) - Datsyuk and Zetterberg are back to being their superhuman, partially robotic selves again, thus restoring normalcy to the world.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins (--) - So when does Crosby come back?

4. Minnesota Wild (-3) - They recently signed a 51-year old fan to an amateur contract as an emergency goalie, which is something a franchise such as Philadelphia or the NY Islanders would do.

5. San Jose Sharks (-3) - "The Sharks really miss Dany Heatley." - nobody.

6. Chicago Blackhawks (-2) - "Chelsea Dagger" is the most played song in the city of Chicago.*

*Not confirmed.
7. New York Rangers (--) - Henrik Lundqvist's 37th career shutout (against the Flyers this past Friday) moves him within 79 of Martin Brodeur's shutout record.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs (-3) - Considering that the Leafs sustain more injuries in a week than a dummy at a military target practice, Brian Burke hasn't overreacted and started trading for every player on the market.

9. Philadelphia Flyers (-1) - Paul Holmgren watched as the Wild signed a fan as the emergency goalie and may have gotten some ideas from that.  Maybe that's why the Flyers are holding a goaltending tryout session this week which is open to the public.

10. Florida Panthers (+7) - Jason Garrison has twice as many goals as assists...and he's a defenseman.  Also interesting: his 8 goals in 23 games this season are more than his goal total from his entire 113 previous games combined.

11. Phoenix Coyotes (+4) - The Coyotes will be taking the rejects from the Flyers goalie tryouts and turning them into Vezina candidates.

12. Vancouver Canucks (+6) - Roberto Luongo managed to get his goals against average under 3.00 this week.

13. St. Louis Blues (+6) - Ken Hitchcock has revitalized the Blues thanks to one word: defense.

14. Buffalo Sabres (-4) - Lindy Ruff's Milan Lucic punching bag really fires up the team before every game.

15. Los Angeles Kings (-3) - Perhaps the Kings acquired the wrong Richards last summer.

16. Nashville Predators (-5) - Fact: Pekka Rinne has more assists than Jerred Smithson this season.

17. Dallas Stars (-3) - Well, losing your starting goalie isn't the end of the world.  Look at the Buffalo S...okay never mind.

18. Washington Capitals (-5) - Don't worry, Bruce, Alex Ovechkin and Semin don't hate you enough to torch your car...yet.

19. New Jersey Devils (-3) - The NHL's newest anti-Devils strategy is to wipe out any game-tying goal with under 5 seconds remaining in the third period.

20. Tampa Bay Lightning (--) - Upon asking about acquiring Jonathan Bernier, Steve Yzerman laughed hysterically when Deam Lombardi asked for Victor Hedman, but then realized Lombardi was serious.

21. Montreal Canadiens (+3) - Andrei Markov is almost ready to return to the Habs' lineup, which means they'll have a quality defensemen for about two weeks, before Markov inevitably crashes into the boards and injures himself again.

22. Ottawa Senators (--) - As it turns out, Paul MacLean doesn't suck as much as the last NHL head coach with his last name did.

23. Winnipeg Jets (+2) - Dustin Byfuglien is the best defensemen in the league who never learned to skate backwards.

24. Edmonton Oilers (-3) - Now that Taylor Hall is injured, Steve Tambellini plans to have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle scratched in order to restore his annual 1st Overall Draft Pick Party in June.

25. Colorado Avalanche (-2) - That Semyon Varlamov trade probably wasn't the best goaltender acquisition in Avs' history...

26. Calgary Flames (--) - Jarome Iginla is definitely getting traded this year, just as he was last year and just as Brett Favre definitely retired four years ago.

27. Carolina Hurricanes (+1) - Tomas Kaberle is on the trade block...again.  He's bound to draw at least an 8th round pick in return...

28. New York Islanders (+1) - They finally got their first road win of the season, thanks to Michael Grabner's 700 breakaways in two games against the Devils this week.

29. Anaheim Ducks (-2) - Perhaps we have a new Fail for Nail favorite destination?

30. Columbus Blue Jackets (--) - It was tempting to move the Jackets out of 30th this week.

First Quarter NHL Report Cards

Most NHL teams have now completed 20 games of the 2011-12 season, which is the traditional quarter mark of the season.  As usual, the so-called "experts" have been wrong about lots of things during this season and will continue to be wrong as the season moves on, but it's time to give out first quarter grades to some NHL players.  Have a look.

Phil Kessel - Kessel is showing that he's the most offensively gifted player the Leafs have dressed since... (I'm thinking...wait for it...), okay well I'm not that old!  He's the best Leafs player in a long time.
Grade: A+

Alex Ovechkin - Alex has not produced at his typical pace this year, in fact, if this continues, Phil Kessel may want to get his camera out for the All-Star Fantasy Draft in Ottawa.
Grade: C

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Calling RNH the best Oilers teenager since Wayne Gretzky is a bit pre-mature.  I mean, let's wait for this kid to establish himself, such as recording his first hat trick or 5-point game or...oh, I see.
Grade: A+

Jonathan Toews - It seems that Toews matures as a player and as a leader every season.  This season, he's learned to score goals at a higher rate and how to apply different facial expressions.
Grade: A

Pavel Datsyuk - It took Red Wings management a few extra weeks to change the batteries on the Datsyukian machine, but now it's fixed and working pretty well.
Grade: B

Brad Richards - Interestingly enough, it didn't take Brad Richards as much time to get used to John Tortorella's tactics and rants the way most new acquisitions do.
Grade: B+

Sidney Crosby - If you think about it, Crosby is off to a tough start this season.  He's only averaging a point per game on the road through one game and if he keeps letting his elbow fly, he'll be on his way to Brendan Shanahan's office.
Grade: A+

Eric Staal - The fact that Staal is suddenly on pace for about 40 points this season, while he's usually around 80, has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he injured his brother.
Grade: D

Dustin Byfuglien - One thing Byfuglien seems to consistently lack from his game as a defenseman is the ability to play defense.
Grade: B-

Ilya Kovalchuk - Kovalchuk loves to be involved with offense when he's on the ice.  Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily mean he's always helping the Devils do the scoring...
Grade: C-

Corey Perry - Perry insisted that he could improve as a player coming into this season, even after scoring 50 goals last season.  The problem is, other than in penalty minutes, his numbers are down.
Grade: C+

Steven Stamkos - If Stamkos can put up these kinds of offensive numbers under Guy Boucher and the defensive 1-3-1 system, imagine what he could do under Bruce Boudreau...or maybe not.
Grade: A

Nicklas Lidstrom - When defensemen like Lidstrom keep improving every season, you wonder how good he'll be when he reaches the prime of his career.
Grade: A+

Wade Redden - Just 5 assists for Redden this season.  And he's in the minors.
Grade: F (for FAIL)

Rick DiPietro - The Islanders have an injured goalie not named DiPietro.  Jack Capuano's new strategy of only playing him once a month seems to be doing wonders for Rick's health.
Grade: D+

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sidney Crosby's return day schedule of events

It seems Crosby used his time away from the game to work on his facial-hair-growing ability.

Unless you either live under a rock or are so devastated about the NBA lockout that you refuse to watch anything having to do with sports, in which case you probably wouldn't be reading this blog post, you are aware of Sidney Crosby's sensational return to the NHL last night, because after all, CBC and Versus interrupted their scheduled programming to broadcast the game nationally in Canada and the U.S., respectively.  Crosby had two goals and two assists as the Penguins beat the Islanders, 5-0, but there was more to Crosby's day yesterday than just the hockey game.  Take a look at some of the other significant events of Sidney's return day.

9:18 AM - After waking up, Crosby performs his daily morning routine, which includes telling the media that sits outside his house to stop waiting for him, because he has no news to tell them.

9:19 AM - Crosby leaves his house out the back door.

9:42 AM - He arrives early to the morning skate so he can be cleared for the final time by doctors, including concussion expert Mark Recchi.

9:47 AM - The final test Crosby must clear in the presence of doctors is the getting-elbowed-in-the-face-by-Matt-Cooke survival test.

10:08 AM - As Crosby's linemates arrive for the morning skate and realize that he's officially in the lineup, they pop dozens of bottles of champagne to celebrate.

11:33 AM - Crosby is the last player off ice for the morning skate, but he finds it difficult to navigate back to his locker due to an unusual increase in the media presence at the arena.

1:09 PM - After escaping the media at the Consol Energy Center, Crosby calls Alex Ovechkin and tells him, "I'm back, so you might want to think about starting to play hockey yourself."

4:04 PM - The Islanders' team bus arrives at the Consol Energy Center.  Rookie goaltender Anders Nilsson bursts into tears in joy that so many extra media outlets came to witness his first career start.

4:05 PM - Kyle Okposo corrects Nilsson and tells him why the media is really at the game: to watch his return to the lineup.

4:06 PM - Islanders coach Jack Capuano tells Nilsson and Okposo to stop arguing with each other because only lousy hockey teams have such bad chemistry.  This is followed by a long awkward silence.

4:30 PM - Gary Bettman picks Crosby up to leave for the arena in a dented old sedan.  When Crosby asks why Bettman showed up in that car, Bettman start sweating and said "it'll disguise us when we park."  (Truth be told, it's Bettman's real car.*)

* Not factual.

5:06 PM - Every media member asks Crosby the same exact question just so they can say that they had a unique question for him.

5:22 PM - A group of NHL scouts arrive to watch the Penguins' new center in action.  Coincidentally, all of them have been sent by Glen Sather, who plans to offer Crosby a massive contract in July, despite Crosby not being a free agent.

6:29 PM - Right before pre-game warm-ups, Mario Lemieux pulls Crosby aside and jokingly says "whatever you do, don't do better than I did in my return game."

6:31 PM - As warm-ups begin, the local earthquake center is informed of a report that there is a tremendous amount of ground-shaking in the proximity of the Consol Energy Center.

7:06 PM - Seconds before puck drop, Crosby goes to the refs and reminds them about the usual procedure: any time a player pulls to within a foot of Crosby, it's a penalty.

7:20 PM - The earthquake center receives a report of extreme ground shaking, again coming from the Consol Energy Center.  Incidentally, Crosby has just scored his first goal on his second shift back.

7:23 PM - Every American officially calls Crosby's "return" goal the most important goal he's ever scored.

7:23 PM - Every Canadian officially calls Crosby's "return" goal the best goal he's scored outside of Vancouver.

9:30 PM - Anders Nilsson skates off the ice following his team's 5-0 loss to the Penguins and asks his coach "so that Crosby guy...is he always that good?"

9:34 PM - The media again bombards Crosby with pretty much the exact same question over and over again.

10:12 PM - As Crosby leaves the arena, he sees a text message from Alex Ovechkin: "haha, I got an assist tonight!  How'd you do?!"

Picture: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Sidney-Crosby-anxious-for-hits-whether-giving-?urn=nhl-wp17927

Monday, November 21, 2011

NHL Power Rankings - Week of November 20th, 2011

It's that time of week again!  It's time for NHL Power Rankings for Week 6 of the 2011-12 season.  There's another #1 this week, but unfortunately, not a new #30.

1. Minnesota Wild (+8) - The Wild are among the worst teams in the NHL offensively.  In other news, the sun is still bright and Zdeno Chara is really tall.

2. San Jose Sharks (+5) - Antti Niemi is determined to win another Stanley Cup this season, contrary to the rest of his team, since every time Niemi talks about the Stanley Cup, he teammates keep asking "who's Stanley?"

3. Pittsburgh Penguins (-2) - There is absolutely nothing new to report from Penguins camp this week.  I think...

4. Chicago Blackhawks (-3) - The only thing red hot about the Blackhawks right now is Joel Quenneville's temper.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs (+3) - Phil Kessel's superhuman act this season has forced the rest of the Leafs to be mediocre in order to balance things out for a while.

6. Detroit Red Wings (--) - It was nice of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to return to Detroit after an extended summer break.

7. New York Rangers (-2) - Martin Biron is known as an excellent backup goalie, but you'd never know it if Saturday's Rangers/Habs game was your first ever hockey game.

8. Philadelphia Flyers (+2) - I've decided to exclude all games against the Winnipeg Jets when considering the Flyers' power ranking position.  At least they won't have to deal with them in the playoffs.

9. Boston Bruins (+7) - Angered by their 2-1 shootout win over Columbus, they decided to destroy their next awful opponent, the Islanders, at home, although some people claim it wasn't a Bruins home game...

10. Buffalo Sabres (+2) - Tyler Myers spent his day off as a healthy scratch kissing up to Brendan Shanahan to avoid being Shana-banned after any apparent head-shots.

11. Nashville Predators (+6) - Following an embarassing overtime loss to Columbus at home, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are duking it out to see who gets to leave Nashville next off-season.

12. Los Angeles Kings (-1) - Jonathan Quick hasn't had a shutout in quite some time, which begs the question: is the world ending?

13. Washington Capitals (-10) - Caps' second line left wing Alex Ovechkin has 14 points in 18 games, which is good for a second line winger, but I'm sure the coaches are concerned about his -6 plus-minus rating.

14. Dallas Stars (-10) - If the NHL season was based entirely off of the first month of the season, the Dallas Stars would be perennial Stanley Cup contenders.

15. Phoenix Coyotes (--) - Steve Mason has reportedly been in contact with the Coyotes lately, because he heard that Phoenix is hallowed ground for an NHL goaltender.

16. New Jersey Devils (+3) - David Clarkson's shooting percentage is double that of one year ago and he has more goals than Zach Parise.  It's the craziness of the NHL, folks.

17. Florida Panthers (+3) - The Panthers have turned average top-6 forwards into star players this season, rather than their tradition of turning top-6 forwards into washed up scrubs.

18. Vancouver Canucks (-5) - Pretty much every Canucks skater has a negative plus-minus rating, and Roberto Luongo is determined not to change that.

19. St. Louis Blues (+3) - The Blues are at the bottom of the league offensively and the top defensively.  Why else would Ken Hitchcock agree to coach them?

20. Tampa Bay Lightning (-2) - Since the Flyers game, teams have actually tried to beat the 1-3-1, and unfortunately for the Lightning, they have been quite successful in doing so.

21. Edmonton Oilers (--) - If Sam Rosen was the Oilers' announcer, he'd have said "And this one will last a lifetime" after beating the Blackhawks, 9-2 the other night.

22. Ottawa Senators (+1) - I don't know why everyone is so high on Milan Michalek this season.  He's not even the best forward that plays in the province of Ontario...

23. Colorado Avalanche (-9) - Avs "phenom" defenseman Erik Johnson is a -12 this season. 

24. Montreal Canadiens (+1) - Scott Gomez started to get going offensively this past Saturday, courtesy of Martin Biron.

25. Winnipeg Jets (+3) - Many people say that every Jets home game feels like a playoff game, which would explain why they beat Washington the Philadelphia so convincingly.

26. Calgary Flames (-2) - The Flames are on pace to have approximately zero 60-point scorers this season, yet people are still baffled and confused as to why this is a terrible hockey team.

27. Anaheim Ducks (-1) - When all else fails, it's time to start the overhaul in Anaheim.  Luckily, they can build around guys like Teemu Selanne.

28. Carolina Hurricanes (-1) - Eric Staal, Joni Pitkanen, Tomas Kaberle...this would have been a good team in 2006.  Oh wait, Carolina was a good team in 2006.

29. New York Islanders (--) - CBC and Versus will be nationally televising the return of Kyle Okposo to the Islanders lineup and Anders Nilsson's first NHL start tonight.

30. Columbus Blue Jackets (--) - Steve Mason's apparent injury only hurts helps the Jackets.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Inside a Shanaban hearing: Tyler Myers' hit on Dainius Zubrus

To celebrate the one year anniversary of Down Goes Avery (November 20th, 2010), I've decided to do something crazy for today's post.  I won't bore you with the details, but this is the first-ever original Down Goes Avery video, presented by XtraNormal.com.  I hope you enjoy it.

This past Wednesday, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers knocked out New Jersey Devils forward Dainius Zubrus on a hit that many thought was questionable.  Well, Brendan Shanahan did review it, and as it turns out, he met with Tyler Myers and had a private hearing with him.  Luckily, I stole Down Goes Spezza's super spies for the day (shh, don't tell him...) and had them take a video of what they saw at the hearing.  Here it is.

So there you have it: inside a Shanaban session. As it turns out, Tyler Myers never made to Boston to beat up Milan Lucic, but hopefully the rematch of that Bruins-Sabres game will entertain. There will probably be another Shanaban hearing the day after that game.

Thanks for watching, I hope you enjoyed this DGA video. I'll go by ratings and comments whether or not to make another one.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NHL Power Rankings - Week of November 13th, 2011

It's time for Week 5 of the DGA NHL Power Rankings.  There's another new #1 this week, but the #2 team remains second for the third straight week.  The Blue Jackets also climb back up to 30th.  Check it out!

1. Chicago Blackhawks (+2) - The Blackhawks mock every franchise that's ever wasted a dollar over the minimum for a franchise goaltender.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (--) - Sidney Crosby could play in Pittsburgh's next game.  Or the game after.  Or the game after that.  Or the next time the Penguins get into another Winter Classic...so likely next year.

3. Washington Capitals (+1) - Alexander Semin really does care, he's just much better at caring from the bench, according to Bruce Boudreau.

4. Dallas Stars (-3) - They will be honoring Joe Nieuwendyk and Ed Belfour's induction into the Hall of Fame by forcing people to sit in the stands so it looks like people in Dallas care.

5. New York Rangers (+12) - The Rangers have the fewest regulation losses in the league.  John Tortorella now feels useless, since he has nothing to scream to the media about.

6. Detroit Red Wings (+9) - Ken Holland realized no Red Wings are going into the Hall of Fame this year, so he may force Nicklas Lidstrom to retire soon.

7. San Jose Sharks (-1) - Not that they need a goalie, but I heard Evgeni Nabokov is on the trade market...

8. Toronto Maple Leafs (-3) - Phil Kessel is only averaging a point per game in November, compared to the 50 points per game he seemed to average in October.

9. Minnesota Wild (+5) - Darroll Powe has more goals than Mikko Koivu this season.  That's a bit of a problem for the Wild.

10. Philadelphia Flyers (+2) - They seem to have their goalie situation resolved...for the week.  Unfortunately, their strategy involves doing absolutely nothing on the ice.

11. Los Angeles Kings (-4) - How could a guy (Jonathan Quick) who has a 1.96 goals against average and  .933 save percentage only win half of his 14 starts?

12. Buffalo Sabres (-2) - When a player runs over your franchise goalie and gives him a concussion, is it classy or stupid to not retaliate?

13. Vancouver Canucks (+3) - Alex Burrows vows to defend Roberto Luongo if he ever gets run over (by someone other than his own coach) by biting them.

14. Colorado Avalanche (-5) - The Avs are reportedly interested in bringing some guy named Roy back between the pipes to help the team.

15. Phoenix Coyotes (+5) - If Wayne Gretzky still coached the Coyotes, Mike Smith's goal against average would probably be over 3.00, which ironically was about average for goalies during Gretzky's playing days.

16. Boston Bruins (+7) - While the knock-the-other-team's-goalie-out method is effective, they completely stole the concept from their division rivals from Quebec.

17. Nashville Predators (-6) - Barry Trotz and David Poile have been with the Predators for all 1,000 games in the franchise's history.  Interestingly enough, both claim they remember every single goal in the franchise's history.  Then again, we can all count to 10...

18. Tampa Bay Lightning (-5) - Tampa Bay had a very successful week, in the sense that annoying the hell out of Philadelphia is success.

19. New Jersey Devils (+2) - The Devils have perfected their formula for winning on the road this season: fall behind 2-0, win game in the shootout.

20. Florida Panthers (-1) - Kris Versteeg notched a hat trick in the Panthers' recent win in Winnipeg.  Yes, the Panthers are supposedly aware that a hat trick implies scoring three goals...

21. Edmonton Oilers (-13) - Nikolai Khabibulin's goals against average took a blow with his loss to his former team, the Blackhawks, but it's still half of what it has been with Edmonton the past two seasons.

22. St. Louis Blues (--) - Brian Elliott continues to be the best former Ottawa Senators goalie in the NHL this season, although that isn't particularly difficult to be.

23. Ottawa Senators (-5) - The Sens did drop 5 spots in the power rankings this week, but nobody thought the Sens would actually be able to fall at all when the season began...considering they started 30th in most people's rankings.

24. Calgary Flames (--) - The Flames executed their let's-get-a-4-goal-lead-and-try-to-blow-it strategy perfectly in Colorado, except they hung on to win.

25. Montreal Canadiens (+3) - Brian Gionta thanks Milan Lucic for taking the people-who-have-injured-goalies spotlight off him this week.

26. Anaheim Ducks (-1) - Teemu Selanne was Anaheim's only player who remembered that the season actually started already.  He's also the oldest.  Age doesn't matter...

27. Carolina Hurricanes (-1) - I thought Tomas Kaberle retired at about the mid-season point of last season...

28. Winnipeg Jets (+1) - In their most recent episode of "How to Humiliate Our Fans," the Jets lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

29. New York Islanders (-1) - Evgeni Nabokov wants out of Long Island...again, meaning Rick DiPietro might actually have to stay healthy and play some games for the Islanders.

30. Columbus Blue Jackets (+30 - here's why in case you missed last week's post) - They're not tanking, they're just conveniently trading all of their NHL quality players away.

*Note: This is the 100th post in DGA history.  Thanks for being along for the ride.  I'm looking forward to the next 100!

The next HHOF members

Tonight, Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe and Joe Nieuwendyk will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.  All of them had admirable playing careers, and deserve their play among hockey's immortals, but there are more guys who people are excited about getting into the Hall of Fame eventually.  Here's a preview of who might be Hall of Fame bound soon.

Richard Matvichuk - Not only did he win a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999, but he was also Lou Lamoriello's salary cap relief when the Devils buried him in the minors in 2007.  Players who are involved with the Devils' salary cap problems are usually star players.

Trevor Linden - Sure, he's known as one of the great Canucks of all-time, but Linden was more than just goal scoring for Vancouver: he almost made the yellow and black "V" jerseys enjoyable to watch on the ice.  The key word there is "almost."

Derian Hatcher - He would have been the greatest NHL bad boy to have never played for the Flyers, but the Flyers made sure that didn't happen, so they signed him late in his career.

Pat Burns - He obviously wouldn't go in as a player, but Scott Stevens is prepared to knock out a voter who doesn't vote Burns into the Hall of Fame, and he's also prepared to say "You're next" to any other voter who isn't convinced after that.

Brendan Shanahan - He's not eligible for the Hall of Fame yet, but he's pretty sure he can pull some strings with the NHL to change that.

Wayne Gretzky - Even though he's in the Hall of Fame, some people think he should go in again since he put up so many more points than anyone else.

Dave Andreychuk - Following his retirement as a player, he was named "Vice-President in charge of fans."  It's too bad the Vancouver Canucks don't have someone like that.  He would be been quite useful last June.

Peter Forsberg - Many people think Forsberg will eventually get into the Hall of Fame, but others are worried that he might injure himself on his way to Toronto.

Nicklas Lidstrom - He'll get into the Hall of Fame someday, barring he ever actually retires.

Eric Lindros - He's one of many NHL veterans who ended up with the Rangers late in his career, and most of them are Hall of Fame bound.

Adam Oates - Only three players in NHL history have reached 100 assists in a single season, and Oates wasn't one of them.  He did come close on many occasions and has won the most of playoff games of any player to never win a Stanley Cup.  If he doesn't get into the Hall of Fame, perhaps it's because he coaches the Devils power play...

Jaromir Jagr - He's almost Hall of Fame eligible, since he hasn't played in......oh, he's back in the NHL?

Dominek Hasek - Assuming he doesn't return to the NHL, he should be a lock for the Hall of Fame.  After all, the NHL does love those guys who helped lower scoring throughout the league.

Claude Lemieux - His four Stanley Cups and clutch goal scoring could get him inducted into the Hall of Fame someday, unless the voting panel is made up entirely of Red Wings fans.

Pavel Bure - While he never won a Stanley Cup (which makes sense when you consider he played for Vancouver, Florida and the NY Rangers), he did help the Florida Panthers reach the Stanley Cup Finals, which is as remarkable as Roberto Luongo winning a playoff game at the United Center.

Alexander Mogilny - He's hockey's original Alexander the Great, but also the last Russian superstar winger traded to New Jersey that had a great deal of success.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Major problems in the NHL

Boucher: "Marty, your skate clipped the blue line in the defensive zone!  That is unacceptable!"

With the NHL General Managers meetings coming up soon and with what occured in last night's Flyers-Lightning game, I thought it would be a good time to look at some problems in the NHL and what can be done to fix them.  Take a look and tell me what you think.

The 1-3-1 Neutral Zone Trap

How the problem started - Guy Boucher decided he didn't want his 21-year-old Rocket Richard Trophy winner or his former Hart Trophy winner to use their offensive skill, so he developed a frustrating defensive system to annoy Gary Bettman.
Why it's a problem - The Flyers, completely unaware of the concept of dumping the puck into the zone, realized that they couldn't beat the 1-3-1 trap, so they stopped moving.  Except Chris Pronger.  Barely.
How to fix it - The Flyers need to call 28 other NHL teams, because the Lightning are the 24th best defensive team in the NHL, so apparently their trap isn't that good.

NHL teams in financial trouble

How the problem started - Team owners making short-sighted decisions, such as signing someone to a contract that consists of more years than Pierre McGuire is capable of counting.
Why it's a problem - It's not like this is Joe Paterno signing a long contract.  Oh wait, that wouldn't be good either right now...
How to fix it - Lock out the NHL for an entire season and then come back next year.  That worked last time, didn't it?

Player Visors

How the problem started - A seemingly high number of NHL players have taken pucks, sticks or rocks* to the face this season  (*not confirmed; only for individuals who wear police uniforms and work at Penn State University).
Why it's a problem - Goaltenders started playing the butterfly style, so practically nothing gets by them low anymore, forcing players to shoot high.  Damn those goalies...
How to fix it -  Either ban goalies, force players to wear visors or have Brendan Shanahan meet with every player that shoots high.

Breaking hockey sticks

How the problem started - Some guy on the Chicago Blackhawks started to curve the blade of his stick in the 1960s and well, the rest is history...
Why it's a problem - Bobby Holik retired.  Nobody uses wooden sticks anymore.
How to fix it - Tell your opponent you'd like them to play the 1-3-1.  That way you can't take any shots on goal!


How the problem started - The threat of a suspension has always existed for players who injure other players, but Colin Campbell just wasn't very intimidating.
Why it's a problem - If NHL teams run out of players, they won't be able to play, which likely means listening to Mike Milbury more.  That would be bad.
How to fix it - Brendan Shanahan has to make sure players don't hit others from behind, use their elbows when they hit or use Brian Gionta to hit other players.

Division Re-allignment

How the problem started - Some genius idiot thought it would be a good idea to put a hockey team in Atlanta.  Now, they've re-located to Winnipeg.
Why it's a problem - Having Winnipeg in the Southeast division works as well as trying to get good goaltending in Philadelphia: it doesn't.
How to fix it - Put all 30 teams' names into a hat and pick divisions that way.  It works for the MLB and NFL.


How the problem started - Since people don't like to see ties in sports, the NHL added a skills competition to determine which team got make an excuse to give the Penguins an extra point.
Why it's a problem - "Old school" hockey fans, goaltenders not named Brodeur and Ranger fans don't think the shootout is a fair way to determine
How to fix it - Force three players on each team to trip each other on breakaways and then call three random penalty shots for each team.

Low scoring games

How the problem started - Guy Boucher modified the notoriously hated, yet commonly used neutral zone trap invented by Jacques Lemaire.
Why it's a problem - Despite Henrik Zetterberg saying it isn't a problem, players get bored when they play the trap, and they think they're in a skate-in-circles dancing competition.  Just ask Chris Pronger.
How to fix it - Have the Flyers play the Winnipeg Jets every other night and force both teams to start any goalie on their rosters.

Collective Bargaining Agreement

How the problem started - In 2005, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to a new CBA after cancelling an entire season.  In the summer of 2012, that CBA expires.
Why it's a problem - The last CBA was a disaster for the NHL.  I mean, worse than Rick DiPietro's contract disaster...
How to fix it - Don't let anyone from the NBA negotiations enter any NHL CBA meetings.

*Picture is taken from http://bigbadblog.weei.com/sports/boston/hockey/bruins/2011/05/09/fun-with-1-3-1-how-the-lightning-beat-teams-in-the-neutral-zone/guy-boucher/

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Biggest surprises so far this season

Parise: "Hey Adam, could you slow down a little so it looks like I'm still the best player on the team?"


By this point in a season, players who have gotten off to hot starts have cooled off a bit and players who started slow have found their rhythm again.  However, there are some surprises as well this season, and some of them might not go away as many had predicted.  Well, here's what I mean.

Adam Henrique - He has brought a unique dynamic to the Devils' lineup, as apparently he's the only player in on the team who enjoys scoring goals.

Nikolai Khabibulin - His resurgence has brought hope to the Edmonton faithful.  Now fans are simply hoping he doesn't get himself into legal trouble, such as getting arrested for a DUI.

Ilya Bryzgalov - Has surprised many in his first year with the Flyers as Roberto Luongo's biggest challenger as to who can keep a save percentage under .900 the longest.

Eric Lindros - He surprised Flyers management after saying he actually wants to be associated with the organization again by playing in the Alumni Game and knocking out John Leclair...okay, so he didn't exactly say that...

Dany Heatley - He continues to surprise everyone every time he enters the defensive zone.

Jeff Carter - Being traded from a team you've signed long-term with can be devastating, especially to Columbus, but Carter is actually quite happy right now, but only because he isn't playing for the team.

Tampa Bay Lighting - Marc-Andre Bergeron and Martin St. Louis are both averaging at least a point per game, which has many General Managers calling Steve Yzerman and asking how he cloned St. Louis.

Dallas Stars - They've surprised many people by being so good early on, but also by their selfishness of making hockey fans memorize a player's name other than Loui Eriksson.

Rick DiPietro - Has surprised almost all Islander fans by playing his fourth game of the season before April 1st, granted he didn't actually play a single minute of regulation or overtime in one of those games...

Dustin Penner - He surprised many people last night following a multi-point game, and also saying "well, it's not like I'm Ville Leino."

29 NHL teams - Have surprised many by not sending dozens of scouts to Nashville Predators games to watch Ryan Suter and Shea Weber.

Phil Kessel - He surprised the entire hockey world by stealing Tyler Seguin's jersey Saturday and wearing it for the entire game while his team lost, 7-0.

Brian Burke - It's November 9th and he hasn't made an Earth-shattering trade yet.

Darryl Sutter - It's November 9th and he hasn't made a stupid trade yet.

Flyers and Leafs' 2012 First Round Draft Picks - Have surprised many by existing without any trades.

Lou Lamoriello - Surprised many by saying he will not re-acquire Jason Arnott again to fill the team's hole at the center position.

Carolina Hurricanes - Have surprised many by seeming disinterested in playing hockey this season, outside of Jeff Skinner.

Ty Conklin - He's been a surprise since he's only two points behind Todd Bertuzzi this season.

Jaroslav Halak - He's been a big surprise, but only because he's allowed double the amount of goals that Brian Elliott has, while making almost the same number of saves as Elliott.

Monday, November 7, 2011

NHL Power Rankings - Week of November 7th, 2011

Welcome to the 4th weekly installment of DGA's NHL Power Rankings for the 2011-12 season.  It was another eventful week in the NHL, and a week filled with some high-scoring games.......and of course, some low-scoring games to make the goaltenders happy and the league insane.  Here's my top 30.

1. Dallas Stars (+2) - They don't have Hull and Modano, and they'd prefer to beat you 2-1, but if they have to, they can beat you 7-6 as well.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (--) - Perhaps the Pens are keeping Sidney Crosby out of the lineup to prevent disruption to the team's chemistry right now.

3. Chicago Blackhawks (+6) - Patrick Kane apparently ran into one of the Sedin twins last night, so presumably, the Sedins own a taxi company.

4. Washington Capitals (+1) - Bruce Boudreau should just stop @#$%ing trying to be a @#$%ing defensive team and just use the @#$%ing offenive talent he has.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs (-4) - They got Seguin'ed.  Again.

6. San Jose Sharks (--) - Their comeback win against the Penguins was good for the Sharks, but not for fans who were trying to convince management that their black jerseys have to go.

7. Los Angeles Kings (-3) - Dean Lombardi has truly prevented this team from being elite.

8. Edmonton Oilers (--) - You think Paranormal Activity is weird?  How about the Edmonton Oilers owning the NHL's lowest goals against average?

9. Colorado Avalanche (-2) - Perhaps the recent snow woke Matt Duschene up from his summer hibernation.

10. Buffalo Sabres (+3) - There's no goalie problems in Buffalo.  What idiot said that??

11. Nashville Predators (+6) - The coming months in Nashville will be full of speculation: Suter or Weber?

12. Philadelphia Flyers (+2) - They definitely took advantage of their Saturday night game against the not-so-great Blue Jackets to fix some problems.

13. Tampa Bay Lightning (+3) - Tampa Bay had a few comeback wins this week, and Steven Stamkos decided that it's time to hunt down Phil Kessel.

14. Minnesota Wild (+5) - The stellar of play of Josh Harding makes Minnesota once again relevant.

15. Detroit Red Wings (--) - The unimaginable losing streak in Detroit is over, courtesy of a 5-0 win over Anaheim, but Red Wing fans have been humbled through this experience.

16. Vancouver Canucks (-4) - The Blackhawks hosted the Canucks last night and they kept playing Roberto Luongo's favorite song: Chelsea Dagger...

17. New York Rangers (+11) - Sometimes, Marian Gaborik stays awake on the ice and when he does, the Rangers are actually not a terrible team.

18. Ottawa Senators (-7) - The Powerhouse Sens (that's my official 2011-12 nickname for Ottawa, regardless of result) hid a bit of a bump in the road, but hey, they're not dead last right now, which is where they probably should be on November 7th.

19. Florida Panthers (-9) - Some teams fans like the shootout.  The Panthers don't, and their fans don't either.

20. Phoenix Coyotes (+1) - Mike Smith is having a great year in Phoenix so far.  He'll absolutely hate Philadelphia when he signs there.

21. New Jersey Devils (+6) - Adam Henrique might be the newest Jersey hero since Snooki.

22. St. Louis Blues (-4) - Not even former Powerhouse Sens goalie Brian Elliott can get a win right now.

23. Boston Bruins (+2) - I'd love to know what Claude Julien told his Bruins before they went into the ACC and shredded the Leafs on Saturday, and humbled Leafs Nation along the way.

24. Calgary Flames (-1) - Knowing the Avs had just played in a game featuring 13 combined goals, the Flames beat Colorado, 2-1 on Sunday.

25. Anaheim Ducks (-3) - Not even the Elder Great 8 can keep the Ducks afloat right now.

26. Carolina Hurricanes (-2) - Eric Staal is a lot better than 5 points and a -16 rating over 14 games.  He hasn't been the same player since he realized that his hit on his brother Marc severely injured Marc.

27. New York Islanders (-1) - Despite a win over Washington on Saturday, John Tavares is due for a hat trick, just as Rick DiPietro is due for...well, never mind.

28. Montreal Canadiens (-8) - The Habs and Leafs seem to have switched roles this season.

29. Winnipeg Jets (--) - All of those New Yorkers booing the Jets on Sunday seemed a bit unusual.

30-59. The Teams of the AHL (Not Ranked) - Are some AHL teams better than the Winnipeg Jets?  That is up for debate.

60. Columbus Blue Jackets (-30) - Steve Mason has been inducted into the One Year Wonder Hall of Fame this past week.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NHL 2011-12: Contender of pretender?

We're far enough into the NHL season (every team has played at least 10 games...except the Islanders) where we can begin to seperate the contenders from the pretenders.  These are the teams that we're not really used to seeing in prominent positions in the NHL standings.  I think you know where this is headed: I've created a guide to help you decide whether a team is a contender of pretender.

Toronto Maple Leafs: 8-3-1 (17 points: 2nd in NHL)

Why they're contenders: The magic of Phil Kessel, who leads the NHL in every category other than most goaltenders injured.
Why they're pretenders: Kessel's 23.8 shooting percentage and MacArthur's 26.7 shooting percentage is as inflated as the real estate market was four years ago.
Verdict: Does the Leafs' planned parade route stop by the Hockey Hall of Fame? ... Sorry, force of habit...

Dallas Stars: 8-3-0 (16 points: Tied for 3rd in NHL)

Why they're contenders: Dallas has revived Sheldon Souray and Jamie Benn scores goals that make Blue Jackets players wonder why they're even in the NHL.
Why they're pretenders: Didn't they get off to a good start last year too?
Verdict: Even if they lose every game for the rest of the season, they'll be the 3rd best team of the 4 major sports in the Dallas area.

Edmonton Oilers: 7-2-2 (16 points: Tied for 3rd in NHL)

Why they're contenders: Two first overall picks in a row probably will make your team better, eventually.
Why they're pretenders: Linus Omark was sent down to the AHL, so the Oilers have no incentive to win shootouts now.
Verdict: Nail Yakupov could really help them long-term...

Phoenix Coyotes: 6-3-2 (14 points: Tied for 8th in NHL)

Why they're contenders: As long as they're coached by Dave Tippett and have a goaltender who knows what pads are, they'll be decent.
Why they're pretenders: The Coyotes' owners apparently tend to cancel things and lose a lot of money for a lot of people.
Verdict: The team's shooting percentage is 9.7%, which is approximately the percentage of seats that have ever been filled for hockey games at Jobing.com Arena, give or take 9%.

Colorado Avalanche: 7-5-0 (14 points: Tied for 8th in NHL)

Why they're contenders: Ryan O'Byrne has already scored a goal this year.  To clarify, it was a goal for the Avs...
Why they're pretenders: If they keep waiting on the potential of Erik Johnson, they'll be waiting longer than Islander fans waiting for Brian Rolston's stick to strike the puck when he loads up.
Verdict: Somehow, the Avs are 7-5, but the team is a combined -37 in terms of +/- rating.

Ottawa Senators: 7-6-0 (14 points: Tied for 8th in NHL)

Why they're contenders: They've played 13 games, and they don't have 13 losses yet.
Why they're pretenders: Sens players have reportedly talked about winning some huge silver Cup this year.  C'mon, the Calder Cup isn't that big...
Verdict: Losing to the 2nd worst team in the NHL normally wouldn't be unusual for Ottawa, since they're usually right behind that team.  That wasn't the case this week.

Florida Panthers: 6-4-1 (13 points: Tied for 12th in NHL)

Why they're contenders: They renovated their roster coming into this season by signing every free agent available.
Why they're pretenders: Their signings of guys like.......oh, so they didn't really sign anyone good?!
Verdict: It's about quality, not quantity...unless you're talking about getting fans to attend home games.
Minnesota Wild: 5-3-3 (13 points: Tied for 12th in NHL)
Why they're contenders: They've had some dramatic moments already this season, and even Dany Heatley seems exciting to be on the team.
Why they're pretenders: Heatley hasn't experienced a Minnesota winter yet.  That's when trade rumors could surface.
Verdict: They're still the only team in NHL history to have never outshot their opponent in any game.  Okay, that's a minuscule exaggeration...
Carolina Hurricanes: 5-4-3 (13 points: Tied for12th in the NHL)
Why they're contenders: They're always in contention...at least until the last day of the season when all they need to do is win one home game to make the playoffs.
Why they're pretenders: Eric Staal is a -13 and Tomas Kaberle still thinks he's good.
Verdict: As a side note, Jeff Skinner told his team he was participating in No-Shave November.  The team is still laughing at him.