A Bottle Full of NHL Thoughts

Well let me preface all of this by saying that I will reply to any posts that people make warranting a reply. I would have thought this could go unsaid, but it seems that every “new” writer (and even some old) on this page is under the impression that they should just write an article and never reply to people. If people write a comment ripping your article, then either you had no backing when you wrote your article and are afraid of getting shot down, in which case you should have never written the article in the first place OR you are confident in what you wrote and just afraid of getting pushed around. I guess there’s the possibility that people just aren’t reading comments, but what’s the point of writting an article then. Articles are far better when the writers actually check back and reply to the comments. I get so annoyed when I take the time to write a reply to someone and I never get a word in response. Maybe that is because I am so darn good that no one has anything to say back, but I know there are others on here who can battle words with the best of them, so that’s probably not the case. Anyway, let’s get commenting because this place is a hell of a lot more fun when people go at it right?

Firstly, I guess I have to apologize to the 5 Penguins fans on the site. I was responsibile for the mid-season report, but then had computer difficulties, and then, well, frankly lately I’ve just been struggling for motivation to write something about the Pens. I promise an all encompassing end of season report to those same 5 fans, and the 300 other Pens bashers….

The Upcoming All-Star Game:

The player choices were pretty good, I would have to say that this season, more than most other recent seasons will represents THIS season’s finest players. However, the rosters are not completely void of mistakes.

Mark Messier: I just don’t like this, I mean what for? Seriously? “Well, maybe it’s his last season!” Yea, and maybe it’s Stevie Y’s, maybe it’s Peter Forsberg, maybe Ron Francis gets hurt and its his last, I mean come on, there’s just no reason.

Keith Primeau: I don’t care if Hitch has said he’s been the best player on their team this year, he doesn’t deserve to be here. Marc Savard over Keith hands down. Maybe Daniel Briere also.

While Nick Boynton is a good Dman, there is by far a more deserving one. Dick Tarnstrom should be in the All-star game. There is no question that Dickie got snubbed, I mean the guy leads Dmen in PP goals, leads his team in overall points, and has been a steady defensive player as well. How someone like Nick Boynton made the team over him is beyond me, but hopefully it will just light a little fire under him to work harder to get there next year.

Additionally, Brian Mccabe may be a better choice than Wade Redden or Brian Rafalski. At least Toronto has another representative though, unlike the Pens. Now I am by no means an advocate of the ‘one player from every team required’ rule, I think that in a situation where there is even a borderline player (which I think Tarnstrom is far above) the league ought to make the game fun for the fans of every team.

I realize maybe the NHL was trying to give Buffalo something putting Derek Roy in the Young Stars game, but come on. I realize that it may seem like a bit of Penguins bias coming out, but Konstantin Koltsov deserves to be there. He is the fastest skater in the league and probably the hardest worker on the Pens. His point production is up there among other players that were placed in the game, and he is just fun to watch.

I do realize this would give the Penguins 3 players in the game, but hey, that would maybe give the fans some hope. I disagree with the common criticism of players like Brooks Orpik and Garnett Exelby being in the game, as they are often called “goons”. Both guys are having very solid seasons and should be rewarded with the selections. Also, there’s not to pick from in the way of young Dmen, BUT Jordan Leopold should be there, and Marc-Andre Bergeron should be there instead of his teamate Alexei Semenov, but hasn’t been playing lately. Brett Mclean over the overrated Ruutu in a second.

I recently read John Buccigross’ 10 suggestions for improving the game (Top Ten Things to Enhance the Game http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/columns/story?columnist=buccigross_john&id=1725371) and I would recommend it to everyone, as I find Bucci’s comments to always be both entertaining and insightful.

Here are my thoughts on his suggestions:

1) Make the net six inches wider and four inches higher: I think that the net does need to be made bigger. The shutout numbers are onpace to blow away the past few seasons this year. The devaluing of records does concern me, but I think that Buccigross’ comments on that are right on, that all the professional sports have been evolving since the beginning and many things are different than they were when these games started. I guess to me it comes down to whether we have a slightly tweaked game that is in great shape, or whether we have a consistent game that is struggling to stay afloat financially for years.

2)Move the Nets back closer to the endboards

Well, it is easier to use the nets as picks on dmen when they are closer to the boards, but I like the idea of the great passers of the game having that extra room behind the cage. So many beautiful saucers come from back there, and I have noticed it more since the change a few years ago.

3)Removing the two-line pass

There’s just no question, breakaways are exciting. The thing that I find especially beneficial about this change is that to take advantage of it, most teams would have to alter their defensive game somewhat, and even if the number of breakaways didn’t increase dramatically, maybe teams would open things up a bit more in the attempt to capitalize on the rule change.

4)Shootouts

Right on. Why not? The Ad campaign that the NHL could have this offseason or next if it introduced shootouts would be great. Can’t you just see highlights of the Skills Comp. breakaways, some of the shootouts in the WJC, and then a caption reading “Now available in the NHL” or something. The “well the skilled teams will have such an advantage” stuff is total BS. If the talent is so watered down that teams don’t have enough talent to send 5 guys up for a Penalty Shot, then there are problems elsewhere. 5 out of 12 NHL fowards should be able to do something decent on a breakaway. While 1 or 2 Dmen out of 6 should be able to do the same.

*could the NHL be upping the Penalty Shot frequency as a kind of experiment with this idea?

5)25 Seconds between faceoffs

Hate it. I really think that until the product put on the ice by the game has improved, that delaying every faceoff will just bore the common viewer.

6)Goalies are fair game behind the blueline

Absolutely. Forechecking is greatly hindered by the play of goalies behind the nets, and the grinding of power fowards is something common viewers like to see. I agree with JB’s statement that this “fair game” status should not be extended anywhere but behind the net.

7)Serving the full two minutes on PP’s.

Maybe, but I personally think penalties need to be called correctly before anything should be down to penalty rules.

8)Mandatory Visors

Nah, make high sticking penalties more severe if you want to protect faces…

9)Fewer Games, Shorter seasons

Maybe. I’d say only if after other changes are made it impacts the players. There is plently of energy and spunk left in guys for the playoffs with the schedule as is.

10)No Legal Hooking on Players leaving the zone

Well, I really hate suggestions that have stipulations like this. I mean last year I remember someone saying that the trap should be an “illegal defence” hmm…I just don’t think the refs need something this complicated to work on calling when they are struggling so mightily with what we’ve got.

Anyway, I thought I’d throw all that in cause there have been lots of articles on game changes recently.

I think that was all for any orderly information I wanted to write, so here are some random thoughts that I hope will just encourage this article to be one that gets lots of conversation going.

Jaromir Jagr will prove to be the catalyst that pushes the rangers into the playoffs. Final seedings shape up as

1 Ottawa

2 Tampa Bay

3 Philadelphia

4 Toronto

5 New Jersey

6 Boston

7 Montreal

8 New York

1 Vancouver

2 Detroit

3 San Jose

4 Colorado

5 St Louis

6 Calgary

7 Nashville

8 Dallas

Vincent Lecavalier will not be a career Bolt. He needs a change of scenery and Feaster will bide his time and jump on a great deal, not this season, but maybe next offseason this deal happens.

Peter Forsberg will be done after this seasons, and better not ever be inducted into the HOF before Cam Neely.

The Flyers will acquire Sean Burke and it will cost them dearly.

The Leafs will deal Colaiacovo in a package that brings them a solid defensive minded dman, as they will get outbid for any foward that they go after.

If Jeff O’Neil gets traded people will be shocked at the high price he commanded. His trade will acquire a package similar to what the Sharks got for Nolan IF he goes

The Pittsbugh Penguins will finish with the worst record in the league and their future as a franchise will truely come down to the Draft Lottery. If the Hockey Gods meant for there to be a team in Pittsburgh for years, they will win, and if the Canadian ones have their way they will lose and there goes the Pens. Please everyone say a few Hail Stanley’s for me!!