Friday, February 15, 2008

Hoss-ay Can You See?

After spending the morning breaking down the Atlanta Thrashers pre-trade deadline situation with the Red Wings fan I sit next to at work, I've come to the conclusion that there is almost no scenario in which Marian Hossa isn't a Wing within the next 10 days. It just makes too much sense!

With Cleary out Detroit needs a top 6 scoring winger. They already have their share of talented youngsters and gritty grinders on top of a thorny defense. So all they really have to do is swing a young guy or three, or maybe a couple of prospects and Hoss goes north.

Face it, the Red Wings this season are not only the team to beat, they are virtually indistigushable in composition from the super teams of the 90's. Yes, there is no Yzerman or Shannahan providing Hall of Fame leadership from the forward position. But all you have to do is look at Lidstrom, Chelios, Rafalski, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, Datsyuk, Hudler, and Fillpula to understand the the Wings of this year could go toe to toe with any of the great teams of the past, especially when Dominik Hasek begins playing every game.

In fact, if it weren't for running into the utterly stacked Ducks last year we would be having to deal with another round of annoying Red Wings championship crap from fans who don't seem to have anything better to do with their lives.

Every year there are a couple players on the block that everyone knows are going to be moved. This year's glamour couple include Hossa and Mats Sundin. Rarely do players of that caliber end up in situations where they don't have a shot at a title (thus what seems to be Sundin's insistance on choosing where he goes). The Wings are one piece away from becoming not only one of the best defensive teams in hockey, but possibly the best offensive team as well.

Marian Hossa fits the bill, and Wings fans are hoping he lands in Detroit and returns to form as a scoring machine rather than devolving into another Robert Lang.

I'm betting he'll flourish.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Sun also Rises

for my #5 pick in the West I'm going out on a limb and picking the surprise team in the west:


Who'da thunk that one man could make the kind of difference that Ilya Bryzgalov has made for the Coyotes this season.

For years I'd been wondering why the Ducks hadn't gone with Ilya more until I remembered that J.S. Giguere had somehow managed to parlay one incredible playoff run into a Stanley Cup a few years later behind one of the best defensive pairings of the last 20 years, in Pronger and Niedermayer. And good for him. It's nice to see 17 shots a game and get paid mad scratch along the way.

So when Nieds came out of retirement the Ducks couldn't find room for a goaltender like Bryzgalov, who in my opinion was actually better than Giguere. Well along came the 'Yotes to sweep up the best backup nobody wanted and the rest is history. These days the Coyotes are actually *gasp* respectable.

Shane Doan, believe it or not has become somewhat of a semi valuable fantasy player along with the likes of future superstars Peter Mueller, and when he heals up Martin Hanzal. Who as it turns out might actually be gaining popularity among an otherwise sleepy...lets face it, comatose Phoenix fan base.

In the words of Will Ferrell in Zoolander "That Hanzal is really hot right now"

Life gets to be kinda slow when the mercury is leg humping 120 degrees farenheight for 8 months of the year. And it's hard to drive through the gridlock out to middle of nowhere Glendale to see hockey played on the only existing large sheet of ice for 1000 miles in any direction. I get it. It's desert hockey. Feel the heat!

Despite the natural obstacles the addition of Bryzgalov was nothing short of a boon for the team as it allowed Phoenix's forwards to focus offensively. Wayne Gretzky seems to have rediscovered the hard way that hockey is much easier to play when you have a good goalie and aren't constantly backchecking. Shocker!

The future may be arriving a bit sooner than expected in the Valley of the Sun, and I have to admit, it's kind of exciting, if not still embarrassing every time they beat the Avs this season. I mean they did have the only sweaters I've ever seen which mildly offended an entire culture (that stupid southwestern style hockey coyote) while also being completely crappy.

Look for the Yotes to surprise a few people and make a spirited run into the playoffs...and yeah I never thought I'd be writing that...

Avs Update

I figured it was time to pile on an Avs update in the middle of picking the 10 teams that will finish the best. So here you go, I'll follow up with my #5 pick in the West later:

-Looks like Smitty is back with the Avs and ready to go. In the meantime, Stats tweaked a groin as he was preparing a return and may be out a couple of weeks.

-Sakic should be back the first or second week of March. Adept fantasy leaguers are trained to notice things like "he's tooling around in practice". Sports hernias take time to heal, so Joe is most likely skating for conditioning purposes. No real need to rush him back since the Avs are playing a great team game these days.

-I think with Clark's shoulder dislocation against the Ducks (It didn't look that horrible to me when it happened, but oh well. I think it was more a case of a Sharks player landing on him hard as they both hit the boards) may prompt the Avs to look harder at a D-man.
Theo is actually back to his old self. And by that I mean Hart Trophy levels of play ('bout time!)so with Clark out probably the rest of the season I'm betting the Avs might look at swinging Svatos or Wolski. Svatos has shown a ton of guts lately, and leads the Avs in scoring, so he has a lot of value right now.

-Speaking of d-men Dan Boyle is being shopped, but anyone who's been paying attention knows that he and St. Louis will be the first to go should Tampa's ownership decide they need cap room.
I'm betting the Rangers end up with Boyle, who could help even though Rozsival seems to be a fairly productive OD already. This still wouldn't solve the Rangers chemistry problem, as a pouty, slacking Jagr has torn more than one team apart in the past (re: Pittsburgh, Washington)

-Failing and Avs d-man trade I'm anticipating more playing time for Kyle Cumiskey, who remains the most under used player on the team because of his experience, even if he might be the best skater on the squad.

Frankly I haven't seen an Avs defenseman skate that well since The Messiah. Once Cumiskey gets regular time I expect to see him lauded for his fluid skating along the lines of Rob Niedermayer, who is still the best skater in the sport.

-One side note: J.R. Smith on the Nuggets is regularily being called "Smitty" by announcers and teammates. For some reason this bugs me. There can be only one Smitty. His name is Ryan and he has a classic mullet along with being the only player in history to score two natural hat tricks for a team which also ended up being the only goals scored by said team (Edmonton) in winning those two games.

It's an obscure stat, but an interesting one.

That's all for now. More later!