Well, I Can't Come Up With the Headlines….So…..Just Read, OK?

For us hockey lovers who love watching, hearing, and reading about the sport….all of this may give you a long lasting orgasm.

I know, that was sick. No, really though, there is a ton to talk about as far as trade rumors and speculations. So, it’s a long read….and hey, take your time to read it. Take a break for a couple of hours, come back to it, whatever you want.

How have 2003’s UFA players turned out so far?

Annnnd, no off-topic rant this time, again, but there is something that made me laugh.Well, this season is starting to get interesting since the playoff race in the East is quite close. I’ll actually look at the standings and give my view about it. But, before I go on writing about anything…….I must discuss Trade Rumors.

Thanks to Spector’s Hockey, it’s much easier to elaborate on this.

In Spector’s Mailbag, he was informed of Larry Wigge reporting of Jackman’s season ending injury, and claiming that the Blues are looking at Eric Brewer.

And, Eric Brewer looks back at them and winks. Hey, Blues are a great team, I would not mind becoming a Blues player myself. Still, Brewer does not come at a cheap price. The guy is young, talented, and solid all-round. There’s a problem withthe Blues when it comes down to trading player, they have none that could interest a team like the Oilers.

So, I doubt Brewer would become a Blue, or even get traded at all in the first place. One bad season and oh my God! He must be traded!

ST. PETERSBURG TIMES: Damian Cristodero reported yesterday the prolonged slump the Tampa Bay Lightning have been struggling through in recent weeks is leaving the team feeling a little uneasy. After a recent 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators the players expressed concerns over making the playoffs while GM Jay Feaster warns changes could be made if the club doesn’t improve soon.

Well, no one should have believed that the Bolts would have continued that hot start to the season. Although I have my sole opinion as to why they are slumping, they are not such a superb team. I really don’t want to waste your time by giving you my opinion, but if you inisist….

I believe that Head Coach John Torturella has been overrated and is the reason why the Bolts are not scoring. Give me a friggin break Johnny! The only ones who make you look good are Grahame and St. Louis. Though Brad Richards has 6 assists in his last 5 games, last season he recorded 74 points in 82 games. Now, he currently has just 27 points in 41 games. He is ON PACE TO POST A CAREER LOW POINT SEASON!

And so we move on to my cousin Vinny. Scoring 78 points last season in 80 games, and just 23 points in 41 games.

The Bulin Wall is definitely one of the game’s top goalies, and how is it that his stats are not good, at least…..Tortarella says so. Khabibulin has faced a total of 751 shots in 28 starts, has a pretty decent GAA of 2.16 and an excellent SV% of .921. Grahame on the other hand has faced 316 shots in 15 starts, a GAA of 1.62 and a SV% of .927.

Do you see something wrong? I do. In 13 games, would a team allow 435 shots on goal? Just about if it were to allow an avrage of 30 shots a game. But the Lightning allow a circa an average of 25 to 26 shots a game.

So, Khabibulin has faced the most shots against over Grahame. Especially during the time when the Bolts were struggling at both ends of the ice. So, how does Grahame really beat Khabi and steal his number one spot?

So once again, something is not going right and I definitely think that John Tortarella is an overrated coach that does not know how to teach, much like Mike Keenan with the Florida Panthers (hello Nathan Horton http://thefourthperiod.com/fla34.html).

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Richard Durrett reported on Wednesday Stars owner Tom Hicks says his club is facing a big month coming up, saying if the Stars aren’t in position to be a playoff contender in 30 days, changes may have to be made. While the club has shown improvement in recent weeks, Hicks says the team is “teasing” the fans with their inconsistency, noting that a younger, cheaper team like the San Jose Sharks has out-worked and out-played his club, which has the third highest payroll in the league.

Now this gets VERY interesting. A couple of things to say about the Stars and then I’ll expand this situation a bit further.

The Stars are not a bad team, at all. They have all the tools they need, it’s just that someone has to step it up, and though he is injured, Modano just needs to explode. Right now they are just 2 points out of the playoff picture. Their defense is not all that bad, and it’s their offense that is not clicking. Why not make changes then? Well, it’s not easy since the Stars carry hefty contracts.

This brings me to say that if the Stars fail to reach what’s expected of them this month (so far 1-2-2) then a fire sale may most likely happen. Howdy Billy Guerin. This may hold Sather’s attention on Jaromir Jagr and may go after the guy who would have become a Ranger if Bobby Holik did not sign. Eric Lindros is playing fantastic hockey for the Rangers as of late (hitting a lot -watch out E- and scoring). He should need an upgrade on his wing, most likely the right-wing since Matt Barnaby has pretty much shown up only when the Rangers play the Islanders. Why not get Guerin? The guy’s contract not as horrifying as Jagr’s, he brings a great style of play for the Rangers and is a good fit with Lindros, along with Simon on the other side.

The problem: What’s Billy’s price tag as far as trade market value? Hey, Anson Carter may work quite well in Big D, a black player wearing a Star? Happened in Blazing Saddles.

ESPN.COM: On their Boston Bruins page, reported the Bruins and Red Wings did hold talks on Curtis Joseph back in December. Bruins GM Mike O’Connell admitted having several discussions with Wings GM Ken Holland, but ultimately he decided to stick with the goaltenders he presently has.

I really wished that Cujo would have been picked up on waivers or traded for. I don’t care which team could have picked him up, but damn would the Red Wings be in deep parasite poo poo if it wasn’t for Cujo. Bruins do need upgrades and Burke, or Brent Johnson, if they decide to go cheap again, are available.

And speaking of Burke, maybe it wasn’t that good of an idea for the Flyers to trade Boucher? They got Handzus, but goaltending is a real mess over there in Philly.

FT. LAUDERDALE SUN-SENTINEL: Michael Russo reports the Florida Panthers nearly had a deal in place to re-acquire forward Mark Parrish from the NY Islanders prior to his being sidelined by an ankle injury.

And I am glad it never happened since I never liked Parrish. He may be a good fit for Nathan Horton, or Jokinen, but what was going to go the other way? Dudley is no stupid man, but Huselius would have probably gone the other way. I like Huselius a lot, very skilled player, still young…I am not too fond to see him get traded.

CHICAGO HERALD: Bob Fultman reports nine scouts were in attendance at a recent Blackhawks game, fuelling speculation a trade by the club could be in the works. One player who might attract interest from “upper-echelon” playoff clubs is centre Alexei Zhamnov, who’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Well, not a bad idea to trade the guy, but that will define “quit” for the Hawks this season. Why not New Jersey?

Interesting goodies from CBC’s Hotstove:

Al Strachan noted there was a clause in Anaheim Mighty Ducks winger Sergei Fedorov’s contract that would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent after one season. Strachan claims to have heard a rumour that Fedorov would use that to try to return to Detroit, but doubts the Red Wings have room for him.

Of course the Wings would say no, but not only that. Fedorov said he just wanted to get out of Detroit. Why come back after one season? Bad move for his reputation. By the way, Murray once again destroys a good team. He should be fired.

John Davidson noted one player who’d love to go to Detroit is Chicago Blackhawks centre Alexei Zhamnov. He also noted that the Tampa Bay Lightning have been scouting the ‘Hawks of late and might be interested in Zhamnov.

Who wouldn’t want to? They have a hot chance to win it all again. I don’t think the Hawks will trade him to Detroit, and it’s not GM Mike Smith anymore who picks up dirt from the other team. If the Wings want Zhamnov, they will have to trade valuable assets. As for Tampa Bay….why? So Zhamnov may score 4 points in 10 games?

Jacques Demers noted the strong play of Lightning backup John Grahame of late might make starter Nikolai Khabibulin expendable by the March trade deadline. Strachan noted the Bolts have a one-year club option at $6.5 million on Khabibulin and might opt to deal him rather than lose him to free agency if they feel Grahame has taken over the starter’s role in Tampa Bay.

Not easy to move Khabibulin, since the goalie market is tough out there. But, I say the Flyers will be the big player on this one. First they will have to dump Hackett somehow. Horrible pick up by the Flyers in the first place, should have gone for Cujo. Deja vu, Cujo or Beezer?

Also mentioned was Sean Burke. Rangers starter Mike Dunham has played two very good games in a row (needs to control he rebounds though). You never know, if Dunham keeps it up….good and no change. If he doesn’t then Burke may be picked up. Boston may pick him up as well.

And more……….. Demers went on to say that Hasek may be on the block. Now, this is just too funny. Yeah, let Holland trade Hasek. The guy is damaged goods and man-o-man would it be interesting to see Hasek get kicked out of Detroit. Not gonna happen though.

The discussion went on saying that speculation of Yannic Perreault traded to the Flames for Gauthier. John Davidson dismissed it, as did I a while ago. Why does the media have it with Denis Gauthier? The Flames have established a superb young defense and it will only get better once Phaneuf makes it. Next couple of seasons, New Jersey may not be the best defensive team in hockey.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers may look to sign a veteran free agent defenceman, rather than promoting someone from their farm club, as a fill-in for the injured Greg de Vries, who’s out with a sprained right MCL. Brooks suggests Oleg Tverdovsky, Dmitri Yushkevich and Richard Smehlik as potential targets.

Been a while, eh Larry? As Spector pointed out himself, the Rangers can’t call up Fedor Tjutin since he is out with an injury, as are a lot of the Pack players (again). Tvedovsky cannot be signed since he signed a contract that would not allow him to play in the NHL for this season. As for Yushkevich, he is a hard working defenseman but his career is 80% minuses. Doesn’t that tell you something? Smehlik would not be a bad idea at all, also Bill Houlder, though old….he has decent +/- ratings with an expansion team.

LOS ANGELES DAILY TIMES: Matt McHale reports the recent season-ending injury to Zigmund Palffy was yet another in a long line of blows to the Kings roster this season, which could force GM Dave Taylor to shop around for a trade to save their season.

Yes, and also Straka is now injured. No, this will not force a trade. Maybe a “one last chance” shot by acquiring someone like Anson Carter or who knows, but I think that this season is just not meant to be for the Kings.

ESPN.COM: Jim Kelley reports the recent weak play of Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Jeff Hackett (1-7-2 in his last ten starts as of January 8) might spark rumours that head coach Ken Hitchcock wants a goaltending upgrade. Hitchcock recently told reporters he’d refuse to comment on his goaltending until May, which Kelley points out hardly sounds like a vote of confidence for Hackett. While Robert Esche has played well, his lack of playoff experience could be a concern. Kelley noted Buffalo Sabres netminder Martin Biron, the subject of trade rumours since last season, has played well and might attract the interest of the Flyers, although he has less playoff experience (zero) than Esche (30 minutes).

Well, in the end it may not have been such a good idea to trade away Cechmanek for squatto, and sign Hackett. I said it before, the Flyers should have gotten Biron. He has talent and I think that he is having a Ruff time with the coaching staff and with the whole Sabres goaltending fiasco. I believe that Clarke will get a much better goalie that will push them in the finals against the St. Louis Blues.

Hey! Our Buddy from the Ottawa Sun, Bruce Garrioch.

The Ottawa Senators are interested in Edmonton Oilers tough guy Georges Laraque but the Oilers are seeking a player who can help them now or a top prospect.

The Senators keep looking for toughness, but all they really need are just some good aggressive grinding forwards. Doesn’t really matter though, they’ve been kicking ass lately and passed the Devils.

The Canadiens, Senators, Maple Leafs, Stars and Hurricanes are all believed interested in NY Islanders captain Michael Peca.

Bruce, you already mentioned this before. Hey, let’s add the whole damn league interested in Peca while we’re at it, eh? Peca is not going anywhere.

The Colorado Avalanche might be interested in Buffalo’s Martin Biron or Phoenix’s Sean Burke as a backup for David Aebischer. The Avs are believed shopping defenceman Martin Skoula.

Well, neither of those two are back-ups. If anything I’d call them insurences and a confidence killer for Aebischer. I would pick up Brent Johnson or Hackett in March.

The Washington Capitals will likely trade defenceman Sergei Gonchar before this summer, as he has salary arbitration rights and could end up with a big payday.

The whole team is up for sale. I doubt Gonchar will be traded, but if so….I say the Blues should acquire him. Or, he may be part of a crazy deal with the Rangers along with Jagr. Just a longshot speculation, that’s all.

BUFFALO NEWS: Bucky Gleason reports we “shouldn’t be surprised” if Clarke pursues either Buffalo’s Martin Biron or Detroit’s Manny Legace to upgrade between the pipes.

I say yes to Biron and no to Legace. I don’t think Legace is capable of playing a 55 game season as starter and be a top playoff game saving goalie. He is just ultimately the best back-up in the league who can start anytime you want him to.

Last thing….Brent Johnson on waivers. WOW! This was the guy who the Rangers wanted when all those Richter to Blues talks were going on a few years back. Amazing huh? I like Brent Johnson, I liked what I saw in him last season and he has enough tools. I say the Hawks or Bruins should pick this guy up.

And now, How have the 2003’s UFA players turned out so far?

July 1st:

Chad Kilger re-signed with the Canadiens and…….he’s turned out badly this season.

The Predators re-signed Rem Murray after trading Mike Dunham for him. Rem’s a good guy and a solid player to the team. He is an ingredient to their pretty good season so far.

Andrew Cassels re-signed with the Blue Jackets. Well, he hasn’t helped….

The Flyers traded away Cechmanek for a reason, playoff bust. So Clarke thought and thought, and thought some more of acquiring the right goalie for the team to succeed and make the Stanley Cup Finals! AND! He signed Jeff Hackett to a two-year deal for $6M. Ouch. So far, he’s been horrible.

July 3rd:

Todd Marchant wanted too much money from the Oilers and Rangers, so the Blue Jacks offered him the most and he has not helped one bit to make them a better team.

Derian Hatcher signed a big contract with the Red Wings, and he was doing pretty well until an injury came up. Can’t judge him yet.

Big day in Colorado. Avs signed Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne. Great additions and if healthy for more games, they’ll be an awesome team. Scary part is, they already are awesome!

July 7:

Trent Klatt signes with the Kings. Been an awesome addition for them.

July 8th:

Wesley comes back to Carolina only to see his coach get fired.

July 11th:

The Maple Leafs signed Bryan Marchment, so far a very good addition.

July 12th:

Don Sweeney signed with the Stars, nothing much to say.

July 14th:

Greg de Vries signed with the Rangers and he has done a great job so far, tied 3rd for best +/- defensemen.

July 17th:

The Polish Princess signed with the Islanders to have a great start and then just disappear. Who is he running away from, the puck?

The Ducks signed Vaclav Prospal, ultimately a horrible pick up, just 21 points in 42 games after a great one hit season.

July 19th:

The Ducks let go of Kariya before, so they go after Fedorov, who has only given them a subpar season so far.

July 24th:

Kings sign their old franchise player, Luc Robitaille. Not a bad season for Lucky Luc, and a good finish to his career.

July 25th:

Rangers signed Chris Simon, having a pretty good season. Has stood up for his teammates, has been working hard, though sometimes gets stupid penalties. Such as: One time a ref made a horrible call on Simon, he really didn’t do anything, and Simon skates towards the penalty box with the ref right next to it and watching it from the TV I hear “You ****ING FAGGOT”. Though very funny, he got an extra two.

July 26th:

Smart move by the Thrashers to re-sign Kozlov.

July 29th:

The Blue Jacks decide to pick Marchant over Whitney, so Whitney goes to Detroit to help them win. 20 points in 30 games is not bad at all.

July 30th:

Rangers re-signed Brian Leetch. Not 100% healthy, again, was playing well with de Vries, Poti having a bad season, Leetch is getting old and not doing as much offensively, neither are the forwards though. He is meant to be a Ranger forever, unless he gets traded in March this season or next one.

Aug 25th:

Yzerman re-ups with Detroit, having a solid season.

Aug 29th:

Rangers welcome back Martin Rucinsky and Jan Hlavac. Hlavac has not been good at all. The Hlavac-Nedved-Kovalev line did not work so, Jan’s pretty much done in the NHL after this season. Rucinsky has been an awesome addition again. Twenty-eight points in 41 games and a +19. Plays well with Holik and Kovalev. Would like to see him re-signed, hoping the CBA is resolved.

Sept 3rd:

Bruins go cheap and sign Potvin to make him sit on the bench and watch Raycroft get better.

Sept 6:

The great Moose returns to MSG. Unfortunately, some….and some is too many, Rangers fans keep criticizing him for any kind of mistake he does. They call him Grandpa and make fun of him and it really has gone to a point where I consider those Rangers fans pathetic hockey fans, disrespectful hockey fans, and an ambarrassment for me as a Rangers fan. I don’t care if you don’t like him, stop bitching about the guy almost every game, even with a little mistake. What fans criticizes his/her leading goal scorer and captain?

Sept 9:

Panthers sign veteran defenseman Lyle Odelein. Not a bad addition, but Luongo should be getting honored for facing over 40 shots 11 times, and we’re only about halfway!

Sept 10:

The Devils sign old Russian man, Igor Larionov. They are not doing as well, slipping, but can’t say he is a bad addition.

Canucks signed Marcus Arvedsson….eh, expected more, no?

Maple Leafs signed Joe Nieuwendyk, I like him…..he fits very well as a Leaf, great pick up, especially come playoff time, he will be very significant in the playoffs and I am not only looking at goals and assists. You’ll see once we get there.

Sept 27:

Leafs make another move and sign Ken Klee, great pick up.

So that’s that. I mentioned I was going to take a look at the Eastern Conference standings for the 8th playoff seed race and around other seeds. Looking at the Eastern Conference Standings:

3) TB – 45
8) NYI – 44
9) ATL – 44
10) NYR – 43

All so close. Tampa Bay played 41 games, Islanders 42, Atlanta 44, and Rangers 42.

The Isle’s have the best record for the last 10 games (6-3-1-0) out of that group, and they lost a key game to the Rangers, they will play them again on Tuesday night, hopefully it will be as exciting as the previous one. Isle’s have some injuries issues, but are lucky that Garth Snow has picked up his game lately and Rick DiPietro as well. Rangers hope that Dunham will continue what looks like a “getting his game back” situation. Islanders are having issues with some of their guys to step up, especially on defense. They have four very good defensemen yet their defense is almost just as decent as the Rangers one. Probably they would have gotten Huselius in the deal for Mark Parrish, and I think he would be a great addition once Yashin comes back. Huselius needs a lot of space to shoot and Yashin may be just what he needs. Their next three games are tough playing against the Rangers, Senators, and Buffalo. I think the Isle’s will make some good additions via trade and they will make the playoffs.

Tampa Bay is 5-4-1 in their last ten games, and are battling with the Thrashers, soon with the Panthers too, to win the division title. They have the advantage of 3 games in hand against the Thrashers, but unless their key players step up, Tampa highly risks of failing to make the playoffs. Their next three games are quite easy, but challenging (PIT, CAR, FLA). Two division rivals and the worst team in the league. They win all three, they put themselves in a much better position.

It was only a matter of time for Atlanta to slip. Goaltending has been mediocre and they were never that good of a team, so that’s starting to show. But, Hartley is in there and they can turn things around. I think it’s time for them to make a move to shake things up. Watch out Atlanta, the Ice Kats are chasing you! So, fix up the defense.

The Rangers are having a pretty decent stretch by going 5-3-0-2. This is their most important month of the season, and so far they’ve been great against their own division. They only lost one regulation game, against the Devils, one loss in OT against the Flyers, and as for the Isle’s and Penguins, won all games. A reason why they are sitting just a game above .500. Defense has not been such a major issue as it was the previous years. I hate saying this, but the bigger blame for not so good defense has been Mike Dunham. He just let in way too many shots he could have saved. But, de Vries (IR) has been great, Kasparaitis has been very solid, and Malakhov and Mironov have picked up their game, now both are even. Most Rangers forwards are plus rated except for Anson Carter (worst minus on team -9). He definitely needs to go. Next three games are very hard and they must win against the Islanders, they just cannot afford to lose that game, the very least is a point in OT. The Devils have been streaky, and they should take advantage of that. Dunham must control his rebounds against the Devs. Rangers must get a point against the Devils. Then they face the Montreal Canadiens, who are hot.

Very tough schedule for the Rangers throughout the rest of the month, and the big deciding factor of making a trade. Rangers may get either Jagr or Guerin between this month and in February.

We’ll check it out again ten games from Tuesday night, and compare it to this current standing.

So, I know this has been a very long article, and I hope you took your time to read it, heck…take two days!

Anyway, about what made me laugh. I was watching South Park the other night and I saw this commercial of a medication called Herpecin-L. It’s a medication used for fever blisters on your lips and I mean……the name just doesn’t sound right, does it?

http://www.chattem.com/products/herp.asp

Lips, Herpec(in-L). That’s just wrong…..so……wrong. “I use Herpes-in L and my lips feel a lot better.” Nowadays, a lot of things have double or even triple meanings and somehow sexuality is mixed into it. It was just pretty funny watching this woman smile and talk about it. Yah, anyway…….

…….before I end this, don’t forget TheFourthPeriod.com’s Radio Show. This time it features Team USA player Patrick O’Sullivan, quite interesting and it’s a good show. Hope you all enjoy that.

I also want to thank Lint07 for giving a lot of effort on HTR’s Fantasy Hockey Section. Not enough members though. But, we may have found a way to welcome all of you guys. Hey, I mentioned to get Ryder a while ago and if it was too late for you to pick him up in a Yahoo (or similar) league, you should have joined.

Thanks for reading hockey earthlings!