by Patrick Hoffman on 01/25/11 at 07:30 PM ET
The well-known hockey blogger Justin Bourne was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to give us his thoughts on the NHL season just past the half-way mark as well as let us know what he is up to these days.
PH: So, most teams in the National Hockey League are past the half way point of the NHL season. What are some of your general thoughts?
JB: My general thoughts are that playoffs are going to be spectacular. I feel like the top half of both divisions sport some insanely good teams, and I can’t wait until we get down to the nitty gritty and separate the best from the best.
Also, I’m worried about injuries. We’re seeing so many, and like I said, I want to see the best play the best, so I hope we don’t run into a situation where one team is depleted at the wrong time.
PH: Which teams/players have surprised you the most in a good way? Why?
JB: I think Dallas is by far the biggest surprise the season, team-wise. Funny, when I was doing pre-season predictions, I was torn on how to order them and Anaheim in their division. I ultimately ended up going with Anaheim fourth and Dallas fifth, because of Anaheim’s fantastic top line, but I remember thinking I couldn’t find a major weakness on that Dallas team and trying to talk myself into the fact that they’d suck, I’m not sure why. Turns out they don’t, and I look like an idiot, even though I had the answer right in front of me: no major weakness.
As for players, I’m constantly surprised by Brad Richards (keeping with the Dallas theme) ability to maintain his success. He’s good, I just constantly underrate him. Also on that team is Loui Eriksson, who’s over a point a game, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t recognize him in a line at McDonald’s, so it’s safe to say he’s a surprise too.
PH: Which teams/players have been disappointments? Why?
JB: I thought both the Ontario teams would be better than they are. Toronto’s d-corp actually isn’t all that bad on paper, and Ottawa certainly has enough to compete, but both have looked just horrible. And of course, people picked New Jersey to win the Stanley Cup, and now they’re in the hunt for a lottery pick, so that’s never good either.
As for players, obviously Ovechkin hasn’t had the type of stellar season we’re used to seeing out of him, and Kovalchuk has been playing well below his potential. it’s a shame too, cause they’re poor play is denying me the highlight packages I’d gotten accustomed to seeing from their games. They’re really hosing me here.
PH: Why do you think the Devils have been so terrible this season? What does GM Lou Lamoriello have to do to right the ship in the coming years?
JB: The best part about them being awful is that it’s so tough to place, because it keeps the WTF-factor high. They’ve been a lot better lately though, they just left this push too late. I was still predicting they’d claw their way out of this in November/December, but they just turned on the after-burners way too late.
This team will be fine in coming years, I just can’t explain what happened at the start of the season.
PH: What did you think of the Winter Classic? What do you think the league could/should do to make it even better?
JB: I always love the Winter Classic, and 24/7 made this year’s all the more compelling. It’s like the All-Star Game for me: it is what it is, and you have to enjoy it for that. Even if it is minorly flawed (some people don’t like the camera angles), it’s majorly awesome. I enjoyed the unique camera views, because really, the whol scene is like admiring a sunset or something, it’s just pretty to stare at.
I have no advice for the event coordinators. I think they do a tremendous job.
PH: Please remind our readers where they can find your work these days.
JB: The majority of my work can be found on Puck Daddy (Tues, Thurs, Fri), but I also contribute to USA Today and Hockey Primetime (Wednesdays). I also periodically post on my blog at www.jtbourne.com.
PH: Any other thoughts you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
JB: Yeah, follow me on twitter under the handle @jtbourne, and thanks for reading! I’ve appreciated all the support this year.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.