QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC – Since Gary Bettman and the boys settled their differences in January, I’ve been able to finally transition from Pigskin to Pucks; going from making NFL Picks to talking hockey with you Puck Heads. Today’s post is a Zamboni-like effort will scratch the NHL surface, analyzing the favorites of the MTM Staff and most frequently heard from fans. Apologies to Rangers fans – I covered your team two weeks. And for those that like the Fishsticks, [gasp] I talked Islanders last week.
The Los Angeles Kings have been adopted by Monday contributor West Coast Craig as he embraces the NHL once again after a lengthy divorce caused by Les Nordiques’ move from Quebec to Colorado. As Craig crashed the net by joining a fantasy hockey league, the Kings were slow in their enthusiasm for the 2013 season but are currently the hottest team on frozen pond at 9-3 (last 12) despite the nowhere near Vezina form of Jonathan Quick another Jonathan, Bernier, has been the team’s stalwart in net. Top six forward skill is pretty damn good and often gets relief from a defense capable of filling the score sheet. Slava Voynov is a fantastic defensemen nobody has heard of and once Quick gets going they’ll challenge to defend their title.
Singing the blues… black and blue… Blues Brothers… Say it any way you want but Cam James’ St. Louis hockey team looks like the #4077 M*A*S*H unit, as veteran Jamie Langenbrunner, rookie Vladimir Tarasenko, along with Assistant Captains Andy McDonald and Alex Steen are all on Injured Reserve. Team chemistry took a further hit in the off-season as well when Jason Arnott and enforcer B.J. Crombeen weren’t retained. Wade Redden looks like the guy who toiled in the minors the past two years while collecting a fat-a$$ paycheck from the Rangers. Why Blues brass decided not to re-sign a younger defensemen, Carlo Colaiacovo is plain old dumb. This team is in deep doo-doo.
Angry is a fan whose team leaves an original American hockey hotbed in Minnesota for… Texas. Angry Ward’s loss was Dr. Diz’ gain, I suppose. Wednesday’s ace has been a bit slow in his fervor for the Wild who play in St.Paul and not Minneapolis like the North Stars did, while occupying the old Met Center. Since the franchise’s birth, the Wild remain offensively challenged but still find themselves competing for a Northwest division title with the Canucks despite okay goaltending by Niklas Backstrom and a defensemen (Ryan Suter) second on the team in scoring. Cinderella runs in the playoffs have happened before in Minny and as recently as the Wild in 2003. Get back in the game Ward! This should get your blood boiling…
buffalobilly84 and DJ Eberle: the Sabres cupboard is somewhat bare. Game by game the defense loses whatever the first line forwards produce twofold. Management would be wise in trading Ryan Miller while still a commodity in order to restock the shelves. Every game is a drive-by for Miller whose GAA and Save% is misleading due to an average of 33 shots per game and leads all goalies in saves by over 100. Nightly fusillading requires the obligatory cigarette and blindfold prior to puck drop.
West Coast Craig, tomorrow.