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The Winter Olympics is a little more than a year away, but its never too early to start planning ahead for the Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament. Ice Hockey is one of those rare team sports like soccer where you have a great international tournament and a number of competitive teams. Soccer has its World Cup and Ice Hockey has the Olympics. Since the United States is usually an afterthought in Soccer, Ice Hockey is one of those rare team events were you can root for the U.S. and they might actually win. Baseball has no real international tournament (and no I don’t count the crappy World Cup they threw together) and Basketball has seen the U.S. dominate (less so in recent years, but still not all that competitive).
How competitive is the Winter Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament? The modern NHL has allowed its athletes to go to the Olympics only three times, in 1998, 2002, and 2006. In 1998 the Czech Republic defeated Russia for gold. In 2002, Canada nipped the United States. And in 2006, Sweden beat Finland. Three different champions and no country has even managed to make the finals twice.
To get you excited, Gunaxin.com is previewing the best possible teams for each country. Let it be clear that these teams are the best case scenarios. Certain players have retired from international play, some have chosen not to play in the past, some may simply opt out or be injured. We don’t know for sure what each player will end up deciding a year from now. But countries are already formulating their squads, so we’ll look at the best possible team to give you an idea as to who will show up in Vancouver in 2010.
In this eight part series we’ll profile the “Big 7”, plus have an extra post outlining players to watch on the other squads in the tourney. Per International Rules, each team is allowed to select 23 players, including 3 goalies. Each player is from the NHL unless otherwise noted.
- Russia - November 25th
- Slovakia - Coming Soon
- Czech Republic - Coming Soon
- Sweden - Coming Soon
- Finland - Coming Soon
- United States - Coming Soon
- Canada - Coming Soon
- Other Players to Watch - Coming Soon
The 2006 Results:
Over a series of three submissions (depending on interest) I would like to touch on an issue which has taken on some recent momentum, the rights of hockey bloggers in general to expect and receive access to the media boxes of NHL teams.
In this first article I will attempt to clarify the parameters of the issue through a step-by-step analysis of what the bedrock issues actually are, and through this explanation to perhaps solidify the nature of the debate and provide some insight on where strides can be made on either side. In two subsequent articles I will then touch on to what degree bloggers meet those amorphous standards of acceptance, whether or not that access is even something bloggers ought to be seeking, and some suggestions on how I think they may be able to accomplish those goals.
Part I: What are Bloggers Rights?
Poor Jiri Hudler. Poor Kid. He has been patient for 3 seasons to get top 6 forward minutes, and just when it was about to happen, Marian Hossa decides to take a pay cut to join the Wings. Which forces Hudler from the 2nd line to the 3rd line. Despite lining up with Valterri Filppula and Kirk Maltby every night, Hudler has 18 points in 19 games! It doesn’t end there. Because of the Red Wings’ depth, Hudler is only getting an average of 12:31 of ice time. Hudler notches a point every 13:22, which is second in the league for players who have played at least 15 games, behind Alex Semin (11:22). Let us understand this: Hudler is a 3rd line winger, getting half the time of any top winger in the league, and is scoring at almost a point per game rate. Whoa. Take that Dan Carcillo (who scores a point every 194 minutes).
Fantastically, I don’t see why Hudler shouldn’t be owned in your league. He is one injury away from cracking that top-6. Tomas Holmstrom isn’t exactly made of steal, Johan Franzen has had his problems, so has Henrik Zetterberg. Injury is the last case scenerio we want to see Hudler getting more time, hopefully his play will eventually force Mike Babcock’s hand in sending Hudler out more often.
If you have a buddy who is a casual sports fan and you want to get him hooked on hockey, today is the day.
A number of NHL matchups today/tonight have the potential to feature some serious battles.
Here the skinny (team fights in parenthesis; potential fighters listed by team):
Vancouver (21) @ Pittsburgh (10) - 1:00 est
Vancouver: Hordichuk, M Brown, O Brien, Davison
Hordichuk/Godard could be a pretty nasty tilt.
Potential - Highsticking minor
NY Rangers (15) @ Ottawa (7) - 3:00 est
NY Rangers: Orr, Voros, Dubinsky
Ottawa: Ruutu, Bass, J Smith
Get your rear ends in your seats. Jarkko Ruutu is in for a long night against a team of Rangers that want blood. This past Monday night, Ruutu missed on a penalty shot. Instead of going back the bench, he retrieved the puck in the corner and fired it at Rangers’ goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist. Bad move. Rangers tough guy Colton Orr wanted to get at Ruutu after the game; but the referees kept everyone separated. It’s been less than a week… the memories are fresh.
Potential - Two fights at one time… ejection. Keep an eye on Voros who matches up nicely with Ruutu.
Boston (10) @ Montreal (12) - 7:00 est
Boston: Sh Thornton, Lucic, Chara, Hnidy
Montreal: Laraque, Kostopoulos, O Byrne, Begin
Superheavyweight Georges Laraque was brought into Montreal for a number of reasons, one of which was to keep the Bruins’ Milan Lucic from running Habs’ players. Laraque has been less than successful. Lucic ran Alexi Kovalev last game and beat the snot out of Mike Komisarek in a one-sided fight. Komisarek is now out for at least a month with a shoulder injury. Laraque asked Lucic to fight him; but Lucic politely declined and went about his way. Laraque force the issue today and jump Lucic. He should have did it last game when the Bs were blowing out the Habs. Maybe he was saving up for a performance on home ice today in Montreal?
Potential - Line brawl. Very nasty game.
For the rest of the matchups, make your way over to Twominutesforblogging.
With the recent suspensions to Montreal Canadien Tom Kostopolous and Ottawa Senator Jarkko Ruutu for head shots, the NHL’s disciplinarian, Colin Campbell recently sent out a memo to all 30 teams reminding them that the league is not going to take head shots lightly.
An excerpt of the memo stated, “We cannot and will not tolerate blows to the head that are deliberate, avoidable and illegal.”
There is always a lot of talk about how the league doesn’t approve of head shots and that they need to stop, but yet it seems that every week a player is being helped off the ice with a concussion after a dirty hit to the head. It’s time for the NHL to step up to the plate and do something about it as opposed to sitting in the dugout hoping for a rain delay.
When looking for someone to blame, it’s easy to blame the player who committed the hit but it’s time for the NHL to look into the mirror and take responsibility themselves. They have the ace up their sleeve that can trump the entire situation. Take out the instigator rule.
As it is now, people skate around like dogs without a leash taking runs at people because they can get away with it. Players know they have free reign to do whatever they want to an opposing player and the opposing team cannot do anything. Sure they can stick up for their teammate but the player will just turtle and take the five minute penalty while the injured player is forced to leave the game. Penalizing players for sticking up for their teammates contradicts everything teams preach
I guess a lot of fans in Montreal now miss Mark Streit after his departure via free agency to Long Island.
Montreal had last year’s number one power play in the NHL, but they are now sitting 26th with a poor 14.6% success rate, while the Islanders power play has improved slightly from 29th to 25th overall. Streit has 12 points (he would be the Habs’ 5th scorer) in 18 games, with only six of them coming with the man advantage.
Many thought Streit would struggle as a full-time defenseman, but he’s only minus-2 on a very ordinary islanders team. Streit has logged the ninth most ice time in the NHL with an average of 25:53 each game, including over six minutes on the power play.
Meanwhile, Ryan O’Byrne and Patrice Brisebois, who play with Roman Hamrlik, Streit’s former partner on defense, have a combined 1 goal and 4 assists in 27 games this season…
Streit was the shooter on a very effective 1st unit last season along with Markov, Kovalev, Plekanec and A. Kostitsyn. This season, newly-acquired Alex Tanguay is also manning the point with Andrei Markov.
The latter was asked to be the shooter without great success, Markov being more of a passer than a shooter, as shown by his 1 goal and 13 assists in 17 games this season. As a result, the Habs have became very predictable on the power play, and the defensive team is putting much more pressure on Koivu (0 goal on the PP) and Kovalev (1 goal on the PP).
Guy Carbonneau has yet to adjust his strategy and the problem is more and more evident recently as the Canadiens have lost 4 of their last 5 games.
Will Carbonneau change his strategy or will Bob Gainey pull the trigger and acquire a power play specialist with a hard shot (Philippe Boucher anyone)? From: http://www.nhl-northeast.com
Ten games into the season, Ales Hemsky looked like he was going to finish the season at a point per game pace. Satisfying? Not quite. He may have finished the season with 82 points, but it looked like they were all going to be assists… on the powerplay, no less. However, come game 11, not only did he start scoring goals (notice: plural), but he started showing why critics have been so harsh on him in the past: he has the talent to score not just 82 assists, but 82 goals, but has failed to put it together in a full season.
For his opening act, he dangled through Braydon Coburn and then proceeded to give Martin Biron headspins. The second goal of that game was a sequel of the first. The next 3 games, he continued to score. These goals were not cheap either. A rocket over the shoulder Steve Mason, a one handed poke after a steal by Marc-Andre Fleury, and 1 vs 4 against the Devils defense. Four games, five goals (even some even strength!), and 5 TSN Highlight of the Night candidates. I have watched TSN since a child, and I don’t think any other player in NHL history can make this claim: their first 5 goals of the season were all HON candidates.
Hemsky has given the boost that the Edmonton Oilers needed to endure the season long 7 game road streak that they just completed in New York, where Hemsky provided the shootout winner, and kept the Oilers’ within the top 8 in the competitive Western Conference. Not only this, but has also supplemented the scoring that has been missing from sophomores Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner.
We are now at 15 games into the season. Hemsky has 15 points, with 5 goals - 5 more than I expected him to have. He is on pace for 27 goals. The question remains: can he possibly have 27 HON candidates?
Coming from back-to-back wins in New Jersey and New York, where he blocked 77 of the 80 shots he received, Jean-François Drouin-Deslauriers is starting to turn heads.
The young Oilers netminder is slowly making a name for himself and vying for more starts in the NHL’s only ménage à trois with Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson.
In 4 games this season with the Oilers, Drouin-Deslauriers, has 3 wins to go with a 1,71 GAA and .951 Save %.
The 24 year-old goalie from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, spent the past two seasons in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penguins where he won a total of 48 games.
The 6’4’’ 200 lb Drouin-Deslauriers was drafted by the Oilers in the 2nd round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. He signed a one-way two-year contract with the Oilers worth $1,250,00 M ($625,000 per season) this summer. Therefore, Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini had to keep him in the NHL to start the season.
Deslauriers’ emergence will allow Tambellini to shop Dwayne Roloson before the trade deadline, without fear of going with a Garon-Deslauriers tandem in the playoffs (should the Oilers make it).
Drouin-Deslauriers is only owned in 2% of Yahoo’s Fantasy Leagues, so it’s time to pluck him off waivers.
Some sound advice to the NHL: get rid of the f’n cliches! Every sport uses them, but the NHL’s marketing group cannot afford them.
Jeremy Roenick mentioned it at the start of the season when asked about Sean Avery’s criticism of the NHL’s lack of success in term of marketing: more and more players, especially the younger generation are becoming too robotic during press opportunities. This is part of the reason why the NHL’s marketing schemes have not been as successful as they’ve liked. Since Sidney Crosby was drafted, the NHL has focused their energy in marketing him, and rightfully so. He has been dubbed the “next one” since he was 8 and when you have a talent like that, you have to take advantage of it. However, the other part of the NHL’s marketing problem is not their problem at all - it is the players’.
Hi, hockey fans
I’d like to make each of you aware of my new hockey book, which will be available on December 1 from the publisher.
I’ve been a goalie for almost sixty years, and still play weekly against great young players around Washington, DC and in seacoast New Hampshire.
In the late 1950s, I backstopped the Rye (NH) Seahawks, a small town team of grizzled WWII veterans who played in the fabled town team leagues of northern New England, and made it to the Boston Garden to play in NH and New England championships in the early 1950s. I was just fourteen when I became the Seahawks’ netminder.
The book is a history of that vintage hockey team and era but also reflects on the great WWII generation, pond hockey, black ice, the hockey towns and teams of New England, and the aging process for those who play contact sports.
Dave Bidini, author of Tropic of Hockey and The Best Game You Can Name, strongly endorsed Seahawk : “A fine literary descendent of Jack Falla’s Home Ice and Peter Gzowski’s The Game Of Our Lives. Like any good hockey book, it teaches us more about the world than hockey itself.”
“SEAHAWK : Confessions of an Old Goalie” can be purchased in pre-publication from the publisher. Send $20 ($17 + $3 S&H) to : SEAHAWK, Peter E. Randall, Publisher, Box 4726, Portsmouth, NH 03802. The book will also be in the Spring 2009 NBN book catalogue and available in bookstores everywhere and on Amazon.com by early summer.
Hope you enjoy reading Seahawk as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Email : email@example.com
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