I'm Baaaaaaaack!

I’m back and I’m loving this game!You’d think that I would be a slacker living in Florida, with pina coladas and just hanging loose on the beach, and you’d say “that’s the reason why this guy is not showing up!”

That’s not me…… sort of….

Anyway, I have been without my computer, which died completely, for almost a month. But, I have watched games and so far I’m a happy customer.

First of all, I want to thank the Season Preview Staff for writing great previews and showing a lot of effort. I enjoyed working with all of them and they gave HTR one of the best season previews ever.

I will also apologize to all of you HTR members. My goal was to have a complete Season Preview and it was incomplete. I did not finish writing a preview for the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. I did not write my own column as part of the preview, and we were also supposed to have other columns. My schedule got busy, but when my computer went dead there was not much to do.

But, it was a good season preview nonetheless.


So far I like the game and the new rules. The two line passes are effective and the penalties have been handed out correctly thus far. Some surprises, some disappointments in teams. These are my first impressions of teams:

New York Rangers: I must give credit where it is due, and it starts from management. Finally Glen Sather gave up on the mercenaries in the off-season and concentrated on his youth program. Aside from solid young players, Tom Renney and the coaching staff are turning the organization completely. Yes, Sather takes responsibility for missing the playoffs, but in the meanwhile he changed the scouting staff (so far so good), hired Renney, and did well in the firesale of 2004.

The Rangers have lost three straight, but they showed up each game. The players work hard and Henrik Lundqvist has been quite a show. The Marcel Hossa trade is looking good. Kondratiev was definitely the better choice over Carlo Colaiacovo in the Leetch trade. Dominic Moore, however, has been the most oustanding youngster. Jason Ward was a very good solid addition.

The Rangers future is bright, and in the minors, draft picks such as Montoya, Holt, Jessiman, Dawes, Immonen, and Graham are starting to emerge. This team has a decent chance to make the playoffs if they continue to work hard each game. Tom Poti may be on the way out soon as he has been a healthy scratch for two games. The Rangers are moving in the right direction, and credit is due to Sather, Renney, and all 18 skaters.

New Jersey Devils: How could this team lose to a struggling Atlanta Thrashers team? The Devils had a 3-2 lead and were shooting at a rookie goalie coming out of college. As I mentioned numerous times about a month ago, the Devils lack the offense and Marty Brodeur will not be the same goalie. Brodeur played with a Grade A defense in front of him, and now he plays with a Grade B defense. He is facing a lot more shots, and just gets beat. Ever since losing 4-1 against a young Rangers team, with a rookie goalie, the Devils show their weakeness. They are in desperate need of Patrick Elias, but once he returns, the Devils need to slash salary, which will further weaken their depth. Also, the Devils have a weak minor league system, which will not help them throughout the season.

San Jose Sharks: I expected this team to be better. Why? Because it is the SAME team. The Sharks PP is horrible to look at. The defensemen are as good as Swiss cheese, and when on the PP, they allow the penalty kill unit to be a threat. Something has to be done in San Jose.

Edmonton Oilers: Yes, they are struggling, but this team needs to pull itself together and shake it off. I still like this team. I like the goaltending, I like the offense and defense. It may take them a while to get back on track after a 3-0-0 start, but Oilers fans should not worry too much about the team’s six straight losses. Give them time. They have Pronger and Peca, give them time.

Florida Panthers: I enjoyed going to their home opener and the game versus the Lightning as well. I must admit that besides Roberto Luongo, Rostislav Olesz is one of the most NHL-ready rookies I have ever seen. People mention Crosby and Ovechkin, but Olesz is showing the offensive goods, but best of all is his readiness in any situation. He plays a lot of minutes, kills penalties, plays on the PP and has a wicked shot. He is not the kind of forward a goalie would like to face on breakaways. Jay Bowumeester has been decent, not showing much. I can see Mike Keenan run out of patience and shop him around if he does not step up his play during the season.

Ottawa Senators: Well, I’m shocked. This team is perfect thus far. Still, it is early in the season and it will take a team to bring these guys back down to earth. No flaws so far, though. This team is near perfect.

Other teams I like to mention are the Calagry Flames and the Nashville Predators. The Flames have Dion Phaneuf, who I believe to be the best defenseman I have ever seen in ages, at his young age. No young defenseman in past years that I have seen comes close to this guy. Outstanding in almost every area. His shot is a blast, his physical force is present and skates quite well too. I believe we’re looking at the NHL’s top defenseman in the league, possibly, in a few years. The Predators have also been a cool team to watch. They work hard, and Sullivan makes a big difference. Sure, Kariya was an excellent addition, but without Steve Sullivan this team goes nowhere. What a horrible loss for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Which brings me to say, Chicago is the worse owned team, and managed team, in the league.

Thank you for reading, and it’s good to be back (of course I got a hurricane coming my way now)!

Micki Peroni

32 Responses to I'm Baaaaaaaack!

  1. wingerxxx says:

    From what I’m reading, Poti is apparently pretty miffed at Renney for scratching him against the Sabres. Poti’s comments about playing “awesome” hockey after he was scratched the first time are evidence that he really doesn’t get it yet. It’s hard to believe he’s a former All-Star. But Renney is giving him the right treatment in my opinion. Hopefully it’ll get Poti riled up and playing better when he is dressed…even though Strudwick didn’t have a great game last night. I’d really love to see Poti showcased and gotten out of New York finally. Moore is a great kid to watch. Lundqvist is looking more and more like the future of the franchise though…that’s a big thing to say after so little time, but hopefully he can sustain his level of play.

  2. thatleafsguy says:

    whats there to love all the physicality has been taken out of the game. sure its nice to see great plays and nice goals, but it looks like well marketed shinny out there. no hits no emotion no physical play and guys standing around nets wide open, there are pros and cons but i think the cons are outweighing the pros at this point.

    A) get rid of restricting the goalies ability to play the puck B) allow players to be physical in front of the net C) CALL DIVING PENALTIES D) lose the shoot out. E) the player shooting puck over glass delay of game call needs to be reworked.

  3. wingerxxx says:

    I’m seeing lots of big hits actually. It’s the hooking and obstruction that is being phased out, there’s a big difference. In Washington’s first game, Ovechkin almost killed some poor Columbus defenseman (Suchy I believe) with a hit that rocked the whole flippin arena. And it was clean. Some players are being a bit tentative with their hitting, but that will change. The games are much more exciting now, and I think that the majority of hockey fans will agree with that. Dives will definitely be called more as the season wears on, some of them are simply too flagrant.

  4. 19AVSFANFoLIFE19 says:

    i expected a little bit less from san jose because there not a high offensive team and thats not going to help them in the new nhl. and now nabokov will have to take on more shots.

  5. GretzNYR99 says:

    Glad to see you back, Mick. Always a good debate with you.

    I’ll start off on the home front…

    – Is it me, or do we desperately need a sparkplug in the lineup that doesn’t take dumb hooking penalties like Niemenen? Hello, Ryan Hollweg?!?! What is Renney doing not playing this kid? We need someone to go to that net and screen a goaltender, and this kid with the icetime he would be getting, and doing that, could be scoring 20 goals in this new NHL.

    – I wanted to see Nigel Dawes, but Hossa is more game ready than Dawes is. We need a scorer, and if things go bad, I could see us making a move for Martin Havlat if Ottawa is willing to deal him out, later on in the year.

    – I hate Tom Poti, but he’s the only defender we have that can lead a rush, but if we’re going to get a better defender in return, I’m all for dealing him. He needs to go, he’s been atrocious aside from Thursday night’s game, which I went to.

    – I’m absolutely pissed off at Weekes crying the race card. He’s right, it wouldn’t happen if it was Khabibulin or Theodore… because they’re both FAR AND AWAY BETTER than a goalie who hit a hot streak for a couple of weeks 3 years ago. Bulin has a cup, and Theodore has a Hart Trophy. When you have either one of those, then maybe you’d have reason to be pissed, but until then, outplay Lundqvist (which is nearly impossible), and then you’d have a case.

    – I love Dom Moore, he’s been brilliant for us. I just wish he’d get more top 2 line time, because he can be a real sparkplug, score some goals, and set up some plays.

    – I want to see Jeff Taffe play, if you ask me, we got the better in this deal. Taffe is a bigger player who uses his body more, and can win faceoffs, and is more sound defensively than Lundmark.

    Travelling up north to Ottawa…

    – You’re right, this team is perfect, Jaques Martin implemented a transition game in the coaching, and it worked great in the old NHL, and it’s the PERFECT style of play for this new NHL. They make great first outlet passes to forwards who are on the move constantly, and with the plethora of talent in Ottawa, it’s hard to stop them. They’re one of the deepest teams I’ve seen in years, and Heatley who is a bit better defensively, and can make plays better than Hossa is an upgrade for this team. Jason Spezza has come around after absolutely DOMINATING the AHL, and is living up to most of the hype that surrounded him when he played in Windsor for the Spitfires. I have center ice, and these guys are one of the most exciting teams to watch, it’s hard not to root for them, except if you’re a fan of one of the other Canadian teams…

    If the house is a rockin’, don’t bother knockin’…

    In Nashville, the house is a rockin’. A perfect start for a team who made the right move in picking up an elite talent in Paul Kariya, and a rock solid defender in Danny Markov. This team has all the speed in the world, and is very deep. A great goaltender in Tomas Vokoun, a great group of scorers in Sullivan, Kariya, Legwand, Johnson, Hartnell, and Walker, and a great core of defenders in Markov, Timmonen, Zidlicky, Hamhuis, and a rookie with great hockey lineage, Ryan Suter.

  6. Bretzky says:

    lol, I actually agree with every single point you made. And it’s good to see both of you back here.

    One point I need to get off my chest is that the Rangers vs Buffalo game the other night showcased some of the worst officiating I have seen in years. Don Van Maasenhoven refuses to go upstairs because he rules that he blew the whistle before the puck went in the net, or was “in the act of blowing it.” However, on the replay with sound, it showed that the puck went in for almost a full TWO SECONDS before he blew the whistle and I don’t think it takes 2 full seconds to blow a whistle when you’re “in the act.” Clearly, he thought that the goalie had the puck and then the puck dribbled in, but of course he was wrong. It is absurd that he would not go upstairs to check it out. I’ve seen much more obvious calls checked out. Ridiculous. Furthermore, I saw two occasions where Buffalo’s goaltender Ryan Miller had one of his feet slightly over the line of the restricted area while playing the puck and nothing was called, warned, or even said. Probably the most ridiculous of the officiating was when the Rangers were given a 2 minute penalty for delay of game because 2 forwards were kicked out of the faceoff circle. I am sick and tired of linesmen playing games when they drop the puck. What’s with FAKING the drop and then getting players to go for it and kicking them out? Just DROP THE F’IN PUCK!!!!! It’s not a game. The referees and linesmen today seem so overly egotistical than in years past. I see this in other sports as well and it’s just ridiculous. Referees should be held accountable for doing something blatantly wrong. I’m not talking about missing a penalty, but calling BS like that and basically deciding the game more than the players themselves is ridiculous and should not be tolerated. Players and coaches are always expected to publicly apologize for even “saying” the wrong things. Refs should be held to the same standard when they so obviously screw up a game with their inconsistent BS that’s already starting. They’re not calling the same penalties they were in preseason all the time. But sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. This is killing the game. Sorry for the rant, I just needed to vent.

  7. Bretzky says:

    Oh also, Weekes sucks. Poti sucks. Malik may be the slowest player to ever play in the NHL. And Rucchin needs to wake up.

  8. GretzNYR99 says:

    I wrote into NHL.com… I know it’s pretty much futile, but I wanted to get my point across, and even a response as to where and who to write to could give me a door. That non-call was RIDICULOUS. I told RangerSteve that the challenge option should be implemented in the NHL, there’d be so many refs who’d get their jobs taken away with the missed calls and the screw ups.

  9. Tapeworm says:

    i really like the play from Jed Ortmeyer, he works hard every shift

  10. mikster says:

    I agree with you to some extent that the physical part of the game has gotten weaker, but finally the goons who should not even play at the NHL level are no longer used, except for a couple or so (Boulton and Brashear).

    I like that goalies can only play in a certain area behind the net. creates more offense and prevents goalies from skating along the boards near the corners where they should get hit, but if they do then the opponent player gets the penalty and the goalies whine. “We’re not protected enough”.

    So many calls should be made in front of the net. Players get crosschecked easily in front of the net and in the past few years, that’s what prevented players from picking up rebounds and scoring.

    A crosscheck in front of the net was the same along the boards, except it was never called. Now they are.

    Sticks get held too.

    This allows players to drive towards the net more.

    Diving penalties are called. I saw Afinogenov get called for a dive last night, and that was the only call as the Ranger did not get one.

    The shootout offers so much more excitement to fans, it keeps them in the stadium longer and intensifies the atmosphere. Keep them.

    e) absolutely not…. i even think that players freezing the puck with their skates along the boards should be called for delay of game.

  11. mikster says:

    Well, you’re right. They are not that good offensively, but they should be good enough to win games and not get bombed.

    Their defense is their main weakness right now…..they need to get a PP QB of some sort (i think Poti can work out for them) and a forward.

  12. mikster says:

    Strudwick is going to have a tough year as a 7th d-man. I think something bad happened to his family, not sure if i got that right, and that’s why he was back in Edmonton and Lampman played that one night.

    Poti is a good player. I have nothing against his skills. He is a smooth skater, good puck handler…and can be smart. He is not physical, that’s his problem.

    But, i believe he has the potential of being a top scoring d-man in the league.

    It won’t be with the Rangers, though, and not in the East. Though the difference are much less apart from East to West play, the Western Conference still has a better flow to the game.

    Move Poti out west. He’ll do fine on another team. I’d like to trade him to the Sharks for Davison and a mid-rounder.

    It’s the same with Lundmark. The guy has great skills. He’s got a very nice wrister, good skater..speedy, fiesty. He is fit for the West, not for the East.

    We’re going to end up losing Poti anyway after this season. He has always been a headache as far as contracts….and you expect a player like that to be disgruntled if he gets in the coach’s doghouse.

  13. Bretzky says:

    Definitely. I can see Ortmeyer or Moore being the future captain of this team.

  14. Beckfan5 says:

    Honestly, the only thing I think the Rangers are missing so far in this young season is a Q.B. for their P.P.

    Theyve shown hustle almost every shift, except for the game on the Island Thursday night, their P.K. has be excellent and Lundquist looks stellar.

    Screw Weeks, screw Poti and get rid of the two! Get a back up goalie for Lundquist, id perfer a veteran, find a way to get a P.P. Q.B. and get a gritty, in your face, sparkplug type.

    Oh, and put Purinton in for a game or two, perferably against the Islanders this Thursday night.They need a fight to get some adrenaline going after a few losses. Shit, call up Worrell if they have to!

  15. BruceWayne says:

    Yep, your back. But so is the bird flu…….and so am I and better than ever!

  16. mikster says:

    Always good to talk to you bud!

    – No way. First of all, Hollweg will be more likely to take bad penalties, moreso than Nieminen. Ville had one bad game of penalties, it happens. But this guy’s resume proves that he does not take that many penalties…. and he is a hitter and a grinder. He needs more icetime, which Renney should give him. If he sits on the bench too much, then plays a shift where his line most likely gets outworked with an opponent line that has been playing every shift…… he gets a penalty. That’s expected.

    Hollweg is a cool player and he will be our future Nieminen-type of player. But he will not score 20 goals. If he scores 20 than Moore should score 30.

    – Dawes is a very special project, almost like Jessiman. These two CANNOT be rushed in the NHL. They have to prove themselves at every level before making it. Jessiman may have an edge since his size and skating abilities can be more useful on a 3rd line, but these two are long-term projects. They know how to score, but they need to be schooled. I like Dawes too, i just hope he will turn out as a 25 goal scorer in the future.

    – Let Tyutin skate up. Poti will never be a significant factor with the Rangers, or in the Eastern Conference. Don’t forget, we also have Tomas Pock who is a good skater…. a very good skater. Poti will be traded at some point before, or at, the deadline. He will definitely not re-sign as a Ranger.

    – Taffe will be used sometime soon. Maybe the Rangers are still waiting on a deal, and Purinton may be the one to go. He got called up to serve his ten games after they assigned him to Hartford.

    I agree with you and the rest, although give Moore a full year of NHL experience before putting him on the 2nd line. Rucchin has done a good job there thus far.

  17. mikster says:

    Give Weekes some time. He is a VERY good goalie when he is on his game. He missed a year…, groin’s bothering him. Give him time and he has a character where he wants to prove himself.

    I think Lundqvist has got a quick pair of legs. His lateral movement is very quick. He needs to watch out for high shots and he MUST improve his rebounds.

    That’s the one area where Montoya may take advantage on as he is very good with rebounds.

    Purinton is serving a 10 game suspension. The Rangers sent him to Hartford after that decision was made, and two games later they recalled him so he can serve his 10 games.

    Why? I don’t know…., he may get traded???? Who knows….

  18. Beckfan5 says:

    I think Lundquist is very good with rebounds. hes much much better than Weeks is. Weeks is like a friggin pitch back, remember those?, when it comes to rebounds. Listen, I aint saying Weeks is a bad goalie, hes just not #1 material.

    I like Purinton. He sticks up for his teamates. But let me ask you this, who the hell would want him in this league?

    THEY NEED A PP Q.B. BADLY!!!!!!!!!!! 🙁

  19. robinson19 says:

    If you’re not seeing hitting you haven’t seen much hockey this season. For fans of the skilled young teams, who can actually keep up in order to hit, the new rules offer more hitting, more offence, and a better product generally. I’m not pretending it’s perfect, but most of the complaints come from fans of teams who simply can’t keep up. How can these lumbering grandfathers hit when the intended target is already long gone up the ice?

    You now have to be fast as well as tough to hit, not just tough, and while that hurts the big, old teams, it’s great for talented teams, and makes for exciting hockey.

  20. WYflyerfan says:

    You sound like that idiot don cherry after the Flyer leafs game. When was talking about how players could stand in front of the net without being touch and on the sreen it was showing Knuble getting cross checked in the back. What a JA. Then he was complaining about shots from the point. That was on the power play. Does he even watch hockey. But I would like to see less weak penalties called.

  21. Neely4Life says:

    I wrote something way back about how the Devils are in for a tough year. I am not surprised by this one bit, in fact, i called it. Brodure is facing a workload like he never has seen before, Elias cant provide the scoring, and they lost 2 of their 3 leaders. Id have to disagree about their farm system, they always have a good young player, but you cant teach them expierence. And with all the new crack downs on hookin holding,and all that jazz, they r getting more penalties too. So, Devils, right where i expected them to be. But it’s still early.

  22. NjDEVSFN says:

    “How can the Devils lose to a struggling Atlanta team?”

    Simple. They arent a bad team! Atlanta is one of the most improved teams on paper. The Devils had a 3-1 lead and took 6 penalties in 15 minutes. Atlanta can put out one heckuva PP. The Devils were LUCKY (and good) to be 5-6 on those PKs. Brodeur also shouldn’t have given up goal #2.

    “They are in desperate need of Patrick Elias, but once he returns, the Devils need to slash salary, which will further weaken their depth.”

    Weakness in depth? Albany may not be great, but it is far from lacking depth! The Devils have 8 NHL caliber Dmen in the system (6 in the bigs). Sean Brown and David Hale are the non-starters. The Devils have plenty of forwards to call too: Barry Tallackson, Aleksander(sp) Suglobov, Ilkka Pikkarainen, Tuomas Pihlman, Petr Vrana.

    Will the team be more inexperienced when Elias comes back? Yeah, since theyll need to dump experienced players making the $.

    You have been challenged.

  23. Beckfan5 says:

    See Pittsburgh

  24. Neely4Life says:

    I dont think Atlanta is very good right now with both their goalies out, and honestly, i just think the devils really suck this year. Atlanta is a better team than NJ, but by no means a good team. Average or a bit below

  25. thatleafsguy says:

    well, i’m a fan and i think the shootout is ridiculous, why is there such a problem with a game ending in a tie? i’d rather see a 10 minute ot rather than a shootout.

    the problem with the delayof game penalty is guys are getting penalties for what are so obviously accidental shots going over the glass. why should a player be penalized if there was no intent on shooting the puck over the glass.

    the lines behind the goal line look ridiculous and limiting a players ability is just nonsensical to me these goalies work on these puck handling skills and then have them takin away for what? how much more hindering of the goalie can they come up with? its no wonder why gaa’s are up all over the league.

    when i say physicality in front of the net i do not mean crosschecking and stick grabbing, i mean fighting for position, caliming your space and clearing the front of the net.

  26. thatleafsguy says:

    the nhl is supposed to be a pro league not an extension of junior hockey. Nhl is a mans league not a boy’s league, if you wanna watch firewagon pond hockey go watch a junior game. and if you’re implying that the leafs are old other than belfour name an old guy on our team. that was the leafs of 03-04, get over it.

    belfour 40 sundin 34 domi 35 lindros 32 allison 30 mccabe 30 kaberle 27 o’neill 29 klee 34 khavanov 29 berg 28 belak 29 tucker 30 steen 20 stajan 21 wellwood 22 wilm 29 kilger 28 antropov 25 ponikarovsky 25 tellqvist 26

    nhl was never a young mans league its a league for good players, the new rules that have been implemented favour the fast good skaters not neccessarily the most talented players.

  27. Neely4Life says:

    Lundquist will be the next big thing in NYR. I hate the Rangers, but this kid is gonna be a star, and they need to ride him right now, and his popularity. Weeks is an ok goalie, hes never really found a home, hes just not consistant enough to be a starter. Lundquist is what the rangers have needed for a long time, and i think they could trade Montoya for someone solid too up front! They drafted well in the last few years, and traded for youth. A backup is always easy to find.

  28. NjDEVSFN says:

    It is also 8 games into the season. If it was January, sure, a team can be defined “good” or “bad”

    Rangers fans are currently holding their breath waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  29. wingerxxx says:

    What bothers me about Poti is his latent potential, which he still hasn’t realized. I’ve never questioned his skill level, as it’s obviously very high, and he can skate like the wind. But when he makes comments like he made after he was scratched, it’s obvious that he needs to take a long look in the mirror (and the video tape), acknowledge some faults and really work on them. I do like Renney’s tough love on him though…Lecavalier was given the same treatment in Tampa, and it made him a better player all-around. That’s what Poti needs. But you’re right, the West is a better fit for a player like him. Tyutin is our high scoring defender, but hes still very much a work in progress.

  30. Neely4Life says:

    ur right, its is early, and i dont like NYR, or Nj, so i got no preperance, but, i really did think this was going to happen to NJ, thats all.

  31. Mullet says:

    this new nhl sucks! no hits no grappling no fights its just that european hockey crap! oooh lets watch this little guy weave through the ice cause no one is allowed to touch him. i liked better when it was lets watch this little guy weave through the and bam he gets smacked with his head down. the new rules are causing players to hold back so they don’t get a penalty. plus all these penalties are tickin me off. i can only stand to watch a team ice the puck on the penalty kill for so long.

  32. NjDEVSFN says:

    really just poking fun at his button, but i didnt expect it either…but hey, they still have no excuses, and i will agree with ANYONE on that

    if they still play this way when theyre healthy in mid-January, then there is one helluva problem

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