So en lieu of writing an actual column today I'm just going to throw out some thoughts and predictions. I'll make this a weekly thing if it works out...
-It is a bit difficult when the last Avs game was Saturday. I can only write and read so many "whaddya thing Forsberg's gunna do" pieces before I want to stick my head in the oven...but here's my prediction:
Peter Forsberg will find a way to NOT play tonight. One thought though, is it me or did his English get a lot better since his last tour with the Avs? What happened? He almost sounds, excepting the donchaknows, kind of like a Midwesterner. Odd. A few more years of that and he'll be able to telepathically communicate with my Minnesotan relatives.
"So...ya comin' over fer supper? We got pop in the fridge...or Leinies if ya want..."
-Ovechkin got a trick last night to get to 52. That man is a god. If he keeps this up he's clearing 70 before the end of the season, and I may be forced to build a small shrine to him in the garage. What happens if he clears 80 goals? That would be unthinkable at this point, but hey it's Ovechkin.
-Alexander the 8's trick was a great thing to watch, but fantasy wise I'm hoping that it doesn't shatter Carey Price's confidence. He's been a boon for my team "The Iron Mullets" and has covered up for the fairly erratic play of Lundqvist and Backstrom.
-One more thing on fantasy. I'm stoked Brian Campbell went to SJ and didn't lose anything from his game. The trick with fantasy is to get defensemen who at least for periods of time score like forwards, and Campbell is keeping up the pace. If you have a "leeg" on Yahoo you might be able to understand the frustration surrounding Yahoo's policy of not counting hits and blocked shots, as finding consistently scoring defensemen is more difficult than finding a contact lens in the goalie crease...
-It might just be me but Joe Thornton scores like a super defenseman. All he ever seems to get are assists, and then seemingly only on the power play. Does anyone else see that?
-Don't look now but the Ducks are probably going to win the Cup again. A healthy Douggie Weight will allow them to roll two great power scoring lines. They have the defense to make Giguere look like a top 5 goalie, and Teemu is firing on all cylinders. I'm waiting for the first round of Brian Burke conspiracy books to come out wherein the tactic of having guys "retire" to save Cap room is discussed at length.
-Would it be too much to ask Detroit to get healthy and start playing well? I'd like a good match up with the Avs in the first round. An Avs upset would re-ignite the rivalry.
-This probably won't be the first time you'll hear it from me, but the Hawks are my dark horse favorite to win the Central next year...if they can hold on to Havlat and get him healthy.
Their glaring weakness is in net. Khabibulin is old and has a bad back so that throws the job to Lalime. And if I'm not mistaken wasn't that Marvin the Martian blowing the Conference Finals for Ottawa a few years back? My point is that the Hawks are young and will develop fast, they need a brick wall for a goalie if they are to develop correctly.
-Interesting Avs game tonight against Vancouver. The fever over the arrivals of Foote, Salei and Forsberg is starting to wane a bit, so it will be quite telling if the boys keep up the good work.
-I haven't seen one yet, but where is the yearly article lamenting how Olli Jokinen is still stuck in Florida, followed by umpteen blogs from "true" hockey fans demanding the Panthers be moved out of state?
-Innnnteresting 180 over the last week by the Toronto media about Mats Sundin. I understand that I might become a hockey reactionary if the Avs didn't win a Cup for a few decades, because I DID do this up until 1997 with the Broncos. But you can't go flipping on your Captain for sticking around. For the love of God, get management to load up the squad with talent and you won't be compelled to scream at Mats every 3 weeks.
-One final thought. I was leafing through Kukla's Korner yesterday and one of the columnists threw out the idea of sticking glass in front of the benches to prevent Ryan Smyth-like injuries from happening. My only problem with that is figuring out how to make quick line changes happen through the doorways, rather than having the guys leap over the boards.
Hockey is hockey and injuries like Smyth's happen. Sometimes they are very scary, but ultimately they are pretty rare. This season we've seen guys get cut by skates, run into crossbars and put off of lightly padded turnbuckles...but we still watch. I asked a few people why they watched the game, and hitting, scoring and fighting are thrown down as reasons to pay attention. Shoot, it's even a Tribe Called Quest lyric from back in the day, "When I watch hockey I just look for the brawl".
So until the day comes that we are all walking around in cushy bubble suits and eating nothing but rainbows and happiness hockey is going to be a violent sport because we expect it to be a violent sport. Lamentably we are having to deal with the consequences more this year than in others.
I'll be back tomorrow with my review of the Avs-Canucks game. Until then, puckheads.