October 22, 2010

Oilers and Fans Bound to Spring a Leak or Two with Addition of New Cheer Team

"If only we had a cheerleading team to make this moment that much better!"
Apparently a youth movement on the ice leads to immaturity off it.

The Edmonton Oilers, a team that has earned high marks so far this season for being entertaining to watch despite low overall expectations, are set to become the first Canadian team to boast a cheerleading squad. No date for their debut has been specified, but it will reportedly come at a home game later this year.

As per TSN, 23 NHL teams already have one, which, I suppose the Oilers are taking as a sign to jump off a bridge because everyone else is doing it. Gotta love that mob mentality. Call me and most other Canadian fans purists, but, while undeniably a step towards the mainstream, it’s a step the Oilers don’t need to make. The team has sold out every one of its home games in each of the past five seasons. The last time the team didn’t average Rexall Place’s capacity of 16,839 was ironically in 2005-2006, the season in which the team reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Now the implications of such a fact aside (that Oilers fans apparently love watching their team lose), it in all honesty seems at the very least somewhat odd that the team is just now deciding to improve their “in-game experience” for fans. Oilers President Patrick LaForge says that fans have been asking, but I want names, because it seems a little outlandish that anyone would willingly find a way to fit such a request into what could only have been an awkwardly worded email.

“Dear Mr. LaForge,

I love the team’s chances this year, but I think scantily clad women in the stands would really add to the game. God knows making the playoffs is a struggle each and every year for this franchise, but it can never be too hard enough, if you catch my drift... therein lies the true entertainment value of a family outing to an Oilers hockey game.

An Anonymous Oilers Fan

I will not get into the undeniable merits of employing a cheerleading squad, because, frankly, this is a hockey site and not an ogling-at-beautiful-women site, which admittedly can be construed as a sport in its own right. Still, Canadian hockey fans clearly do not need added incentive to attend a hockey game. Cheerleading cheapens it all, especially when the fans actually understand and want to watch what’s going on in the game and don’t need an attractive distraction to take their minds off the mediocrity of it all.

To add insult to injury to fans looking to hold onto the last bit of Canadiana left in a quickly-becoming-Americanized sport (remember that glowing puck on FOX?!), a cheerleaders’ calendar is set to be released near Christmastime, apparently made to be the perfect gift for that special perverted someone in everyone’s life.

While some Canadian teams already have girls equipped with shovels to clean up on-ice snow, this latest bit of news is taking the trend too far, like the aforementioned long walk off a short pier. Maybe LaForge, himself, could use the trip to cool off a bit.

Ice Angels?

Hockey snow angels @ Yahoo! Video

It's the latest craze (apparently) taking over the hockey world, celebrating a goal snow-angel style! Soon everyone will be doing it, including Bogeyman Derek Boogaard of the New York Rangers. I mean, his only two career goals came five years ago, so he probably will never actually get the chance, but it's the thought that counts, right?

Why There's a Such Thing as Video Review... Pay Attention Baseball Umpires

The New York Islanders escaped with a victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night thanks in no small part to a video review that revealed that Matt Moulson has scored in overtime to give his team the 3-2 victory. Play was allowed to continue until officials were given a chance to take another look at the play, which showed that while Lightning goalie Dan Ellis was able to corral the puck, he only did it a split second too late. Kind of takes the spirit out of scoring a goal, when the goalie makes a spectacular save but it still crosses the goal line, but rules are rules.

October 21, 2010

Preview: Why the Devils Will Beat the Habs Tonight

"You mean this isn't a practice? You can understand my confusion, though, right?"
If there was ever a cure-all for what’s ailing the New Jersey Devils’ early this season, it should come tonight in the form of the Montreal Canadiens.

The Devils are an abysmal 1-4-1 this season, which must be especially disappointing after the much-hyped and much-groaned-about off-season acquisition of superstar Ilya Kovalchuk (two goals, five points in six games). Enter the Habs and the fact that the Devils are 7-1 against them in the two teams’ past eight encounters and 16-4 in their last 20. This goes beyond psychological warfare. If there were such a thing, it would be a psychological natural disaster of epic proportions, most notably because, short of simply bracing for the inevitable, the Habs seem powerless to do anything to counteract the Devils’ dominance over them.

Like clockwork, it’s happened without fail nearly every time. The Devils either score the first goal or eventually get a lead and then collapse into the defensive shell for which they’re best known and the Habs in turn just collapse under the pressure. Sure, they might get their chances here and there, but for the most part it starts to look a lot like an entire team of Benoit Pouliots just going through the motions after a while. It's not exactly pretty to watch, even if you’re a Devils fan.

The only solace for Habs fans going into tonight is that when this most recent woeful eight-game stretch started two seasons ago, they had 10 different regulars heading to unrestricted free agency. The eventual acquisitions of Mike Cammalleri, Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, etc. make this a very different team that theoretically shouldn’t let supposed curses and superstitious nonsense get them down. And then there’s Devils goalie Martin Brodeur who always seems to bring his ‘A’ game against his hometown team. Brodeur’s got a career 38-16-5 record against the Habs with a 1.78 goals-against average. With numbers like that, you’d be justified to question their accuracy and my ability to properly research historical statistics. But I assure you the only thing worth questioning is the Devils’ sub-par record so far this season.

Technically, at 3-1-1, the Habs are the better team, but on paper the Devils are in spite of their inexperienced defense with Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador both injured. It doesn’t matter how it gets done, meaning while the Habs will likely outplay Jersey at the start the end result of this game is almost pre-ordained.

Brodeur will get his swagger back if only temporarily at the ripe old age of 38, Kovalchuk will get back to the point-per-game pace to which he’s grown accustomed, Zach Parise will lead his team to victory, and the Habs will fold like a fresh load of laundry done by your mother at Thanksgiving, your freshman year at college. The one thing the Habs will be thankful for after tonight will be the two months until their next game against the Devils.

Doughty Injured by the Injury-Prone Erik Cole... Ironic That

Apparently all the doling out of mere fines has, surprise, surprise, caught up with the NHL with the number of blind-side hits increasing exponentially. Now, one of the game's brightest young stars in the Los Angeles Kings' Drew Doughty is injured thanks to this collision from Carolina Hurricane Erik Cole on Wednesday night. I would say Cole should get suspended, but when Phoenix Coyote Shane Doan makes a case as to why he shouldn't have been suspended for his clear-cut illegal hit on Anaheim Duck Dan Sexton last weekend, it kind of makes you wonder if discipline for this kind of thing is a waste of time and energy on the league's part. Doughty will reportedly not be able to play in the Kings' Thursday game against, ironically, the Coyotes.

Luongo Shows His Overratedness... Is Overratedness a Word? If not, It Should Be, to Describe Luongo

In case you missed it on Wednesday night, here's Vancouver Canuck goalie Robert Luongo essentially losing the shootout for his team against the Chicago Blackhawks. Had he actually made the two saves he should have made, the Canucks would have won the game and snapped their three-game road losing streak. Instead it hit four games, with Luongo gettisng outplayed by back-up goalie Cory Schneider. Luongo makes an average of $5,333,333 per year and is 1-3-2 on the year so far with a 2.92 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. Schneider makes $900,000 and has a 0.75 GAA and a .974 save percentage.

October 20, 2010

The Best of Begin

With Steve Begin signing a one-year, $550,000 contract (two-way) with the Nashville Predators on Wednesday, I thought it would be nice to honour one of the game's true warriors. Nothing Begin has ever done has been pretty (as evidenced by the only goal of his I could find on YouTube being an empty-netter), but bringing it every shift was his trademark. As such, I give you one his better hits, one of his better fights, a hit combined with a fight, and, just for good measure, that one goal of his that was apparently worth posting online.

Rypien Awaits League Hearing after Taking a few too Many Punches to the Head over His Career

Standing at 5’11”, 190 pounds, Vancouver Canuck Rick Rypien is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the NHL. The hilarity of there being such a thing as a "best pound-for-pound fighter" in a hockey league aside, nobody in hockey has as much disregard for his body as The Ripper.

He’ll take on anybody... hype him up with enough Red Bull before a Boston Bruins game and he may just fly up (it gives you wings, you know) to meet the monster that is the 6’9” Zdeno Chara eye-to-eye in the hopes of getting him to go toe-to-toe with him. After all, what’s five minutes in the penalty box if the other team’s best player is off as well?

Taking into account this fact, he still made a huge mistake on Tuesday night when he opted to take on a Minnesota Wild fan. After earning a 10-minute misconduct, Rypien, seemingly unprovoked, went after a fan in the stands on his way to his team’s dressing room.

Now, Rypien was clearly in a foul mood. His team was in the midst of losing to the woeful Wild by a score of 5-1 (the final score ended up being 6-2), goalie Roberto Luongo apparently got caught up in thinking he was in Vancouver and interpreted all the applause as a sure sign that his deathly accurate impression of a sieve was being enjoyed by all and, to top it all off, Rypien’s inability to get anything going for his team was compounded by his inability to get free of the weakling referees holding him back from the Wild’s Brad Staubitz. However, none of that is an excuse to go after a fan. If anything, it’s one to go after Luongo between periods (how the phrase “chase the goalie” came to be).

Really, there is no excuse to go after a fan, period. Even if the fan is yelling “Yo Momma” jokes all evening long, you just take it for three periods... and then wait for him in the parking lot. Considering all this fan did was clap his hands at a Canucks player getting sent to the dressing room, not even that is necessary. No one’s honour is on the line there, least of all that of your mother, Ripper. But after your made yourself look like an idiot on television for all the world to see, she did apparently raise a fool (please don’t meet me in any parking lot; I’m sorry).

Rypien got suspended indefinitely on Wednesday, and for good reason. The league can’t have the safety of fans needlessly put at risk, or the legal ramifications would be insurmountable. Just think back to when Mats Sundin was suspended one game for throwing his stick into the crowd back in 2004. And just for giving one lucky fan a souvenir. Imagine what’s in store for Rypien for trying to give a not-so-lucky one a knuckle sandwich.

Ovechkin Giving Himself a Helping Hand

In case you missed it from last night, Alexander Ovechkin scored a goal that was immediately waived off for obvious reasons... doesn't make it any less fun to watch, though.

Cormier’s so Dirty he Needs to Take a Long Bath... and Other Jokes Having to Do with the Justice System

Atlanta Thrashers prospect Patrice Cormier will not get a criminal record, despite admitting to doing something illegal. Kind of makes you think, huh?

On Tuesday, after pleading guilty to assaulting Quebec Rempart Mikael Tam last season, Cormier received an absolute discharge, allowing him to travel between Canada and the United States, a requirement of his profession, which, apparently, is that of a head-hunter, and not the human-resources kind.

Now, normally, it would be cool to give someone the benefit of the doubt, like Detroit Red Wing Todd “Big Bird-Brain” Bertuzzi, after he broke Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore’s neck in 2004. It’s become clear since then that Bertuzzi isn’t a dirty player, just a dumb one... a really, really dumb one. However, in the case of Cormier, there’s no such luck, most notably due to the fact that the hit on Tam represented his third dirty hit in about a month, as the below video will show. Excuse the French. The translation to each slide is below the video. For just the Tam hit, please visit our affiliate site, GetReal Hammered.

Slide one: Patrice Cormier is a good hockey player, but he throws too many dirty hits.
Slide two: He threw three elbows to the head in less than a month... bravo (no need to translate bravo, right?)
Slide three: The first one took place at the World Junior Hockey Championships on December 20, 2009.
Slide four: The second took place during the same tournament two days later.
Slide five: It all culminated on January 17, 2010, when he delivered the most vicious hit in QMJHL history.
Slide six: The victim was Mikael Tam.
Slide seven (after Tam hit): Among other injuries, Tam suffered serious head trauma.
Slide eight: Tam is thankfully alright now.
Slide nine: Now, the only thing left to do is hope that Cormier receives a punishment equal to the pain and suffering he has caused (some editorializing on my part, here).

Cormier received a year-long suspension by the QMJHL, but, after being drafted by the New Jersey Devils, he is now a member of the Atlanta Thrashers organization. What’s funny about that is, before being a part of the Ilya Kovalchuk deal last year, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said he had no problem with the hit. Just one more reason not to be able to take him seriously, I suppose. Aside from the initial Kovalchuk deal, it’s important to take everything Mr. Lamoriello says and does with a grain of salt. His exact words were: “There is no issue from my end of it.” Apparently enough of an issue to eventually send him packing, though.

The takeaway from all of this? If a player isn’t good enough to play for Lamoriello, who has reached out to players big (Scott Stevens) and small (Mattias Tedenby), young and old (Brian Rolston), greedy (Kovalchuk) and selfless (Anton Volchenkov), good (Zach Parise) and not-so-good (Dainius Zubrus), and finally clean (Travis Zajac) and not-so-clean (Adam Mair), then there’s a problem.

One can argue that Cormier was just part of a trade and that he’s not necessarily that dirty of a player, but the evidence speaks for itself. He deserves a fair shot at a hockey career, but clearly he’s already burned it thanks to the numerous cheap ones he’s delivered over the course of a very short career that cannot be short enough.

October 19, 2010

The Top Five Surprises of this Young NHL Season

Obviously, these storylines are about as likely to change as the Toronto Maple Leafs fortunes so far this season (#2), but that doesn’t make them any less fun to read about. Take for example number five, which reads like a success story but is most likely to derail into one of an ended career burst aflame like a $2-million mansion for the insurance money, once its owners realize that the housing market was as much a fad as Britney Spears, Crocs, and New Jersey Devil Ilya Kovalchuk’s wanting-to-go-to-Russia phase. But I digress...

5) Anthony Stewart: The Atlanta Thrashers have somehow, at least temporarily, managed to find the talent in this one-time promising Florida Panthers prospect turned preyed-upon deer carcass by the roadside. Apparently there was something there after all, with Stewart scoring his first-ever NHL hat trick on October 15 against the Anaheim Ducks. What’s most impressive is that before this season he only had four goals total scattered throughout a total of 105 games in parts of four previous seasons in the NHL. Therefore, the real surprise is not necessarily his four goals in five games... it’s the fact that he made the team in the first place.

4) Ondrej Pavelec collapsing: Sticking with the same team, goaltender Ondrej Pavelec suffered a fainting spell in the Thrashers’ first game against the Washington Capitals. No one was near him on the ice at the time, giving the incident an eery air of mystery. There’s nothing funny here, except for the fact that he must have had a premonition that the Thrashers would actually win that game (4-2) and got so shocked he got a little too lightheaded. Thankfully, he’s okay now, at least okay enough that we can joke about it. He’s rejoined the Thrashers, but his teammates aren’t letting him in on the fact fact that they actually have a winning record for obvious reasons.

3) The Philadelphia Flyers and their goaltending situation: We all knew it was bad, but to hand the starting job to an unknown Sergei Bobrovsky over Brian Boucher, once Michael Leighton went down with injury? Really? The plan has admittedly been somewhat successful, with Bobrovsky currently 2-1, but that lasting is about as likely as defenseman Chris Pronger ever getting his hands on the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, any way short of knocking out Detroit Red Wing with a clothesline and stealing it from his that is. Datsyuk earning a Gordie Howe hat trick against the Anaheim Ducks a while back just narrowly missed our list.

2) The Toronto Maple Leafs and their quick start: It’s actually their quickest start since the 1993-94 season, during which they won their first 10. Nobody is predicting the Leafs to stay undefeated during regulation the rest of the season, right now at 4-0-1, but credit is definitely due their way after it took them eight games to earn their first win last year. Are the Leafs for real? Well, let me answer that question with another: Do pigs fly? Do flying pigs eat bacon all the while flying around in this little fantasy world made up of sunshine, lollipops, and gumdrops? Technically that’s two questions, but I think I made my point.

1) Marian Gaborik getting injured: just kidding. Really, goalie Tim Thomas regaining his number-one spot with the Boston Bruins: It’s still early in the year and anything can happen, but it looks as if either the hip surgery he had last off-season has really helped or Tuukka “Two ‘U’s, Two ‘K’s, Two Points” Rask has lost head coach Claude Julien’s confidence and is poised to suffer through a sophomore slump after allowing four goals in the team’s first game. Thomas has conversely allowed just one goal in two games played. Whatever happens, it’s clear that the Bruins have great depth and either goalie makes for a very risky choice in your fantasy pool, whether you’re a Bruins fan or not. I think that would be akin to Torontonians snatching up Clarke MacArthur, ignorant to the fact that his early-season scoring binge can’t possibly last.

"I'm back, baby!"

Why Kris Versteeg's Goal Shouldn't Have Counted

All of a sudden, it would seem that Toronto Maple Leafs fans, no longer satisfied with an unbelievable and unforeseen 4-0 start this season, can't leave well enough alone. Their unbeaten season came to an end last night, as the team lost 2-1 in overtime to the New York Islanders. If you ask a die-hard citizen of Leafs nation, though, the Leafs were robbed of a win in regulation thanks to two waived-off goals.

While Colby Armstrong's marker in the third period never did cross the goal line (as video evidence proved, along with the fact that Islander John Tavares only touched the puck with his glove in the crease and didn't cover or gather it), Kris Versteeg did manage to find the back of the net in the second period. Unfortunately, it was only after he got control of the puck thanks to a high-sticking violation, meaning the goal shouldn't have counted. Many might argue that his stick wasn't higher than the crossbar when he touched the puck, but after watching the video five times and going to the eye doctor four just to make sure my eyes weren't deceiving me in between views, it's very clear that the referee made the right call.

Again, many Leafs fans may argue correctly that video replay cannot be used to call a high stick, at least not when that high stick is not directly responsible for a goal being scored. In Versteeg's case, the high stick came in the lead-up to the goal. As such, Leafs fans are right here. However, no video replay was used and the goal was called back based on the referee's on-ice decision. And even though the referee's whistle may have come after the puck crossed the goal line, rule 31.2 of the NHL rulebook officially states:

"As there is a human factor involved in blowing the whistle to stop play, the Referee may deem the play to be stopped slightly prior to the whistle actually being blown. The fact that the puck may come loose or cross the goal line prior to the sound of the whistle has no bearing if the Referee has ruled that the play had been stopped prior to this happening."

As a result, you have quite the convenient rule that covers referees' backsides pretty well, but an inconsequential one this time around, seeing as it wasn't a good goal to begin with. Cheer up, Leafs fans. Your team is still unbeaten in regulation time, a fact you will no doubt rub in the face of every other Canadian fan 10 times or so at least until Thursday, when the Leafs face the New York Rangers.

Penguins Don't Fly, They just Dive and Score Pretty Goals

While at first glance the goal may not be all that pretty, wait until the replay to witness a brilliant second effort by Pittsburgh Penguin Evgeni Malkin as he dives and beats Ottawa Senator Brian Elliott on Monday night. Overrated or highlight-reel material? You be the judge.

October 18, 2010

The Life and Times of Fabian Brunnstrom

Two years and three days ago, a bright-eyed rookie made his NHL debut along with a huge impression by becoming just the third player in NHL history to score a hat trick in his first game.

Now many might think I’m getting the date wrong, because New York Ranger Derek Stepan became the fourth player to accomplish the feat earlier this season. Unfortunately, though, I’m talking about the Dallas Stars’ Fabian Brunnstrom, who, since then, has been unable to build on the success of that one game. So much so that last week he was recently placed on waivers (and cleared them), meaning the marriage, which was once characterized by a drawn-out courtship, during which Brunnstrom became the object of many NHL teams’ affections, has now become a trial separation.

Looking back, it was maybe to be expected that Brunnstrom would not turn out to be a star. For one, neither of the other two players to score hat tricks in their first game went on to become superstars in the league. Many could say that Quebec Nordique Real Cloutier (1979) was a legitimate star, scoring 344 points in just 317 games, but Montreal Canadien Alex Smart only played a grand total of eight NHL games, all in 1942-42. For his part, Brunnstrom has scored 40 points in 99 games. That isn’t to say that his career is done, but any hopes of a lengthy, decent one most certainly are.

Brunnstrom essentially got replaced on the team’s depth chart by the likes of Jamie Benn and James Neal. I mean, there’s no shame in it... oftentimes players’ skills will degrade with age. It just so happens that Brunnstrom’s did by the time most others are entering their prime. Okay, there’s a little shame in that. I mean, Neal and Benn are two and four years younger than Brunnstrom, meaning he’s got to feel like a retirement home resident surrounded by teenagers at a frat party. Now that he’s being sent away, he’s more like one whose family doesn’t even bother to visit.

This will be Brunnstrom’s third stint in the minors, but all three times beforehand were more like conditioning assignments. I guess the retiree simile is more apt than I initially thought. All he needs now is a walker, some meds, and a television with Matlock on and he’ll be set.

"I hope this feeling never ends!"
In all seriousness, it speaks to his inability to cut it when he can’t even stick with a team most are picking to miss the playoffs. They lack the solid goaltending, they let the face of their organization in Mike Modano walk in the off-season, one of their stars in Mike Ribeiro seems to have forgotten the memo that he’s a grown-up, and one of their alternate captains is Steve Ott! Steve Ott, nicknamed the Rat not because he has a long tail, although, accompanied by a pitchfork in his hand, that would explain a lot of things!

Now, obviously the Stars are undefeated right now, (very) early in the season, but anyone thinking that dominance will last should look at the Eastern Conference and the top of the standings there. That’s right, folks, the Toronto Maple Leafs are unbeaten as well! Now, anyone thinking the Leafs have a realistic chance at remaining number one in the East had better check themselves into a psychological treatment facility, stat! Because that’s not going to happen... Oh, how I love to get in one extra kick in on the league’s favourite perennial doormats.

The Stars are better than the Leafs, that’s for sure. And Brad Richards has been a revelation this last year and half-month. But there’s only so far a player in his contract year can take a below-average team. Case in point: the soon-to-be restricted-free-agent Brunnstrom. Something tells me the Stars don’t plan on re-signing him next year.

Doan Does the Trendy Thing and Lays out Sexton

"Wow, so this is what it's like to be on the receiving end. Not so sweet."
The saying is “Another Day, Another Dollar”, but, seeing as NHL salaries have skyrocketed in the recent past, maybe that’s not so apt an expression... at least as it would apply to professional athletes. In fact, even taking into account the $2,500 fine imposed on Ottawa Senator Nick Foligno, I would hazard a guess that he’s doing quite alright. So, if we’re looking for a true expression of the times, how about this: “Another Day, Another Dirty Hit”.

Sure enough, only two days after Foligno got fined on Friday for his hit on Carolina Hurricane Patrick Dwyer, Anaheim Duck Dan Sexton got blind-sided by Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan. The hit was to the head, it was late, it was illegal. Case open and shut. Or at least it should be.

I’m not naive enough to think that if the NHL would have suspended Foligno on Friday instead of just taking away his lunch money that Doan wouldn’t have hit Sexton. I apparently was born recently enough, however, to think that if the NHL had got it right with Foligno, we wouldn’t be having this one-sided conversation right now because the right precedent would have been set and everyone would know what was coming.

Unfortunately, because the league decided that illegal hits to the head are the less-expensive NHL equivalent to pre-game tweets in the NFL, Doan can now argue that he should be fined as well because he too has never been suspended. Maybe he can tweet it out and see what the league does in response. I’m guessing league senior vice-president Colin Campbell is writing the strongly worded letter as we speak.

Well, it would seem we’ve run into a classic catch-22, where a player can never get suspended because he has never been suspended. It’s a shame this thought process was just in its infancy way back when Steve Downie gave Dean McAmmond a love tap behind the Ottawa Senators’ net just a few short seasons ago. If only he had the good sense to argue that he had never been suspended by the league either!

Another illogical argument would be that because neither Dwyer nor Sexton were injured neither one of the perpetrators should have been suspended. While you can’t penalize a player based on his intent in general (you can’t penalize someone for missing a flying elbow if it lands 10 feet wide, as entertaining as it would be to watch), you can for deliberately trying to injure an opponent. Injury a result of someone’s actions or not, they need to be made to face the consequences, even if those consequences are becoming increasingly laughably lenient as time goes by.

Really, forget the players. It’s time for the league to take a long hard look at itself in the mirror - maybe not Gary Bettman; we don’t want him to mistake himself for a troll and get frightened – and ask itself if it wants to sell a product that consists of second-rate AHLers scoring garbage goals because all the actual talent is in the infirmary ward.

Now, Doan should get suspended, but, again, I thought Foligno should have gotten 10 games. Taking into account the deflationary phenomenon on lengths of suspensions that is Mr. Campbell, Doan will likely get two games. If he doesn’t, you can take one of two things to the bank:

1)      The NHL brass has taken numerous illegal checks to the head itself recently.

2)      The NHL just doesn’t care.

Considering it’s likely been years since anyone of any importance has played full-contact, competitive hockey, I would say number two is the best bet. But we will wait and see. It’s sad when the league’s response to the hits and not the hits themselves are the most shocking part of the sport. In this case, I would be truly shocked if the league did the right thing.

One Goal-of-the-Year Candidate and One So-So Goal that Has Been Getting Goal-of-the-Year Accolades

If you've seen this goal from Saturday's action by Brent Burns of the Minnesota Wild, then you've probably heard it all too, the buzz, that is. NHL.com has already taken it upon itself to call it a goal-of-the-year candidate. Now, while it is somewhat pretty to watch, it was pretty much 50% presence of mind to put the puck on net and 40% luck. That other 10%? Hype.

If you want a bona-fide candidate, look no further than Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers, whose goal will make its second appearance on our pages:

That right there is skill, being able to keep control of the puck as you're falling down. That right there is a goal of the year (at least potentially). Burns's? Barely nightly highlight reel material. I mean I'm no hockey player and I could score that bad-angle goal. Granted I would have to be at an actually decent angle in order to accidentally bank it off Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Mathieu Garon, but the point still stands.