10.13.2008

NHL Quick-Check

Thanks to Columbus Day, I have today off from school. So, in order to take full advantage of it, here's a look at some news around the NHL:

- The Sharks may have found the perfect balance between an overloaded platoon system (Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov, especially in 06-07) and over-working Nabokov (77 games in 07-08). Sharks coach Todd Mclellan made the smart move yesterday, going with Brian Boucher in goal even though Nabokov had won his previous two games. The results? Boucher was named second star of the night for the entire NHL after posting a 21-save shutout against the Los Angeles Kings. Sharks rookie Lukas Kaspar made sure Boucher would get his win, scoring the lone goal of the game for his very first NHL goal, and first game-winner as well.

- The New York Rangers were perhaps the one team in the NHL to recieve so many different opinions in the off-season. Some said that acquisitions Markus Naslund, Wade Redden, Nikolai Zherdev, Dan Fritsche, and Dmitri Kalinin would push the Rangers over the top and into the Cup Finals. Others said that the Rangers had simply picked up some past-their-prime players and would collapse because of their lack of skill. Still more said that the Rangers would be the same team as last year, Naslund becoming the new Jaromir Jagr, and the other new guys making no difference whatsoever.
I don't know who will eventually turn out right, but as of right now, it's leaning in favor of the ones who say New York will win the Cup; the Rangers have started their season at 4-0.

- This seems to be the year of losing defensemen. The Flyers have been ravaged the worst, losing Ryan Parent and Randy Jones, two defensemen who would've been in their top-six for sure. Bryan McCabe is out for Florida, and the Blues lost Erik Johnson and Jeff Woywitka. The Maple Leafs lost Jeff Finger for a little while, and the Stars are missing Sergei Zubov temporarily, and I suspect these won't be the only blue-line injuries to ravage the league. On the plus side, we might see a heck of a lot of goals scored throughout the year. I mean, if the Islanders can score five on St. Louis, you never know what might come next.

- Despite all the rumors of the Sedin twins wanting to take off to another team if the Canucks struggle again this year, it hasn't stopped them from playing well. Daniel was one of the 'Three Stars' of the week for the NHL, scoring 2 goals and 3 assists in 2 games, while Henrik has a goal and 3 assists in those same 2 games. These numbers are still following the pattern of Henrik being more of a play-maker while Daniel is the goal-scorer.

Rookie Report: Didn't See Him Coming:
Some of the more surprising rookies of the first week in the NHL-
Rick Rypien- This rookie center for the Vancouver Canucks has taken a long and hard road to the NHL. He recieved call-ups totaling up to 29 games in 3 seasons before 08-09, which I believe cancels out his Calder eligibility, but this year, his performance appears to be paying off. Rypien (pronounced Rippin', like, he's rippin' shot after shot at the net) is tied for the rookie goal-scoring lead with 2 goals in his first 2 games.
Kevin Porter- Originally thought to be too far down on the Coyotes depth chart to make the team, Porter instead jumped into the line-up and has been solid for Phoenix. Currently, through 2 games, he's tied with Kyle Turris for the rookie lead in assists with 2.
Chris Porter- Another young Porter (although I believe the two are unrelated) was a surprise addition to his St. Louis Blues team after only scoring 12 goals and 37 points in 80 AHL games last year. However, he cracked the line-up for the Blues and enjoyed his first NHL assist when the Blues defeated the Predators in their first game.

- On the subject of rookies, what the heck happened to Steven Stamkos??? After playing two games in Europe against the Rangers and displaying potential by ringing a shot off the crossbar, he's been off the map. Sure, it's only the first week, but his team played two weeks ago, and had a game in this past week! With Kyle Turris topping the scoring lists for rookies and several other young guys making big impacts, the Lightning's first overall pick in the 2008 draft better pick up his play (scoreless in 3 games with a -1 rating) if he really wants that Calder trophy.

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