Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Puck Stop - Episode 2

Welcome once more to The Puck Stop, featuring your Lords of the Rink, Glen and Troy were we present our always informed opinion on the world of hockey. Sit back and enjoy...

Topic #1: The Senators have locked up Jason Spezza for seven more years. This follows the news that they have re-signed Danny Heatley for six years, and also many other key parts of their team are signed for the next 5 years. Is this the making of a dynasty or a disappointment?

Troy says: Well past experience leads me to feel this will be a disappointment however considering how close Ottawa came last year this certainly has the makings of a dynasty. We must realize of course dynasty means something much different in today NHL. Twenty years ago a dynasty meant winning 3 or 4 cups in the row but today winning two would probably suffice. If Ottawa can give their top guns a solid supporting cast then this could definitely be the birth of a dynasty.

Glen says: Regular readers will know that I may not be the most objective person when it comes to the Senators, so allow the fan in me to speak for a moment....WOOOOOOOOOOO MOVE THE CUP TO OTTAWA BECAUSE IT IS NEVER LEAVING!!! SUCKS TO BE A LEAFS FAN!!!!!!

But on the other hand, it's hard to deny that the Sens should have won at least 1 Stanley Cup in the past 5 years, and the fact that they haven't scares me quite a bit. I was sort of expecting them to blow their team up and start again over the next few years, but am surprised by the recent turn of events. I worry that they may have Tampaed themselves, by signing a few big names to big contract they may not have room to sign much in the way of a supporting cast. The new NHL has shown that you need a solid group of cheap young players, and I don't think that the Sens have that. They'll probably win one in the next few years after being disappointed many, many times on the way. One more note, good for Bryan Murray for front loading Spezza's contract to take advantage of the strong Canadian Dollar.

Topic #2: We appear to be in the last year of the post-lockout schedule, as owners are rumbling to change. Is it time for a change in the schedule, and if so, what is the best option?

Glen says: It is definetly time for a change in the schedule! This year is the first time that fans in the Northwest division have been able to see Sidney Crosby, and fans in the Central have been able to see Ovechkin. That is simply horrible marketing for the NHL!!! There is no better way to expand the game than to make players like this as visible as possible! The Detroit Red Wings have been proposing an 84 game schedule, which sounds really good, but I doubt that you would ever get the players on board without giving them a raise. So instead I think that the best bet is: 5 games against your division opponents, 3 against the other conference opponents, and 2 against each out of conference opponent, with 2 "wild-card" games against out of Conference opponents. It's much more balanced and will stop teams like the Red Wings and Nashville Predators from having as huge of records, and let everyone see Crosby and Ovechkin once a year.

Troy says: I have a few conflicting thoughts when it comes to the NHLs schedule. On one hand I like the idea of every team playing every other team at least once a season but on the other hand I think even 82 games is unnecessarily long. Personally I like the pre-lockout schedule where teams played 6 games against their divisional opponents, 4 games against their remaining conference opponents, 1 game against teams in the opposite conference and then 3 wild card games against the opposite conference. It's relatively simple and each teams plays every other team. I agree with Glen that the current schedule is a horrible marketing system for the NHL. The Red Wings proposal is definitely interesting as it would allow for a home-and-home with each out-of-conference team. I think everyone can agree that the current schedule needs to go.

Topic #3: It appears that the World Cup of Hockey is not going to happen in 2008. If it were to happen though, what would Team Canada look like this year? (World Cup Teams were allowed to dress 20 skaters and 2 goalies, with a Taxi Squad of four other players)

Troy says: Alrighty, the goalies are relatively easy to pick. I went with two proven veterans. Marty Brodeur and Roberto Luongo. How can you argue against these two goalies? Both are still at the top of their game and have a wealth of international experience. In my team Brodeur would get the majority of play but I would have no problem starting Luongo.

Glen says: Yeah the goalies are a pretty easy pick. It would take an idiot to not take these two as #1 and 2. There is some discussion as to who would get the starts, but I agree with Troy and would go with Brodeur as the guy. As a starter he has won 3 Stanley Cups, 1 Olympic Gold Medal, and 1 World Cup, plus his suberb puck-handling abilities really play into the fast international game.

As for the Defensemen, I went with the following seven (pairings included):
Pronger – Phaneuff
Redden – Campbell
Boucher – Bouwmeester

I wanted a mix of veterans (Pronger and Redden) with youth (Phaneuff and Bouwemeester), and Defensive ability (Boucher) with offensive ability (Campbell and Souray). I put Souray as the 7th man, because he is a defensive liability but would be perfect to put out there for every Power Play and the odd even-strength shift when you need a goal.

Troy says: I went with 7 Defencemen as well.

Blake - Pronger
Phaneuf - Foote
Redden - Phillips

I stuck with the old fogies for the most part because experience is crucial, especially in short international tournaments. I put Blake and Pronger together as my number one pairing because they can be offensive yet are not likely to make mental mistakes. I put Phaneuf with Foote as I thought Foote would help out the young Phaneuf. Redden and Phillips were and easy call because of their previous chemistry and this is very important in a tournament such as this. I picked Jovocop as my 7th Dman so that if I need an offensive or energetic boost I can throw him out there.

My defence may be old, but it is definitely responsible and able to provide offense when necessary

Glen says: As for forwards, I had a really tough time picking them, our country is blessed with a lot of talent up front, so after a lot of thought I went with...

Thornton – Crosby – Iginla
Heatley – Spezza – Briere
Sakic – LeCavalier – St. Louis
Smyth – Richards – Doan
E. Staal

With three former Art Ross Trophy winners, the first line really is meant to be super-scoring line. The second two rely a lot on pre-existing chemistry as Heatley-Spezza and LeCavalier-St. Louis are two of the top duos in the NHL. I added Briere with the two Senators since he is exceptionally fast and is one of the few players in the league who could keep pace with Heatley and Spezza. I added Sakic (the Captain of my team by the way) with the two Lightning, because I think that he is a solid mix of passer and finisher, and could easily play off of his linemates strengths. I put the fourth line there as a checking line, that can still score with ease. They would see a lot of time against the Forsberg's and Ovechkin's of the world. I left Eric Staal as the 13th forward not as an insult but as a huge compliment, I think that he could easily slot into any position on any line and not miss a beat.

Troy: I, along with Glen, found picking the forwards to be quite difficult due to the depth we are fortunate to have in Canada. Here is who I went with:

Nash - Sakic - Iginla
Heatley - Thornton - Spezza
Lecavalier - Crosby - St. Louis
Morrow - Smyth - Doan

The first line is meant to score and all three certainly have the credentials. This line also contains two thirds of that magical 2002 Olympic line. In my second and third lines I went a long the same lines as Glen and used chemistry to my advantage. I put Thornton between Heatley and Spezza because he will complement them with his toughness and tenacity and be able to dig the puck out of the corners. Crosby is magical and putting him between two finishers with innate chemistry seemed like a no brainer. On this line Lecavalier will be the sandpaper and open up some room for Crosby and St. Louis. My fourth line is a checking line and similar to Glen's, it can score at any given time. I put Briere as my 13th forward because I feel he can fit in any line and compliment it. He would be amazing on a power play with his speed.

I tried my best to put a power forward, a playmaker, and a finisher on each line.

With my taxi squad I decided to go with 2 forwards, 1 defencemen and a goalie. My goalie is Marc-Andre Fleury. He is talented and young and I think being part of a tournament like this would be a great learning experience for him. My defencemen is Campbell. He is quick and can provide some offense and I definitely wouldn't hessitate to dress him if one of the guys aren't pulling their weight. My two forwards are Eric Staal and Brad Richards. I like Staal because he can do pretty much anything and would definitely be able to slide right in with any line in any situation and Richards is similar. He also gives me the option and having the entire TBay line if need be.

Glen: took a pretty different approach to my Taxi Squad to be honest. As much as I wanted my goalie to be Carey Price, I took J.S. Gigure instead. He's a proven winner and I wouldn't been even a little bit uneasy if two freak injuries led to him getting the start in the finals. On D, I went with Dan Boyle, who I almost had on my starting seven, but I didn't want to put too many Offensive D-Men, so he was a no-brainer for the taxi squad. As for the forwards, I went with Ryan Getzlaf and Jonathan Toews. I think that sometimes it is important to look forward, and both of these guys should be huge parts of the 2010 Olympic team, so why not give them the international experience when given the opportunity? Even if there were an injury or two, I wouldn't be worried about giving Toews limited ice-time, as he did very well last year in the World Hockey Championships, despite his age and size, plus you can always rely on his amazing ability in the shoot-out.

Troy says: I desperately wanted to find a place for Paul Kariya. He has been there for Canada so many times and has always been great but there is so much young talent that was just too hard to pass up.

Glen says: I feel the same about Paul, but he really gets bumped since there are so many other, better playmakers in this country (Crosby, Spezza, Thornton, St. Louis). But I felt the worst about cutting Rick Nash and Jordan Staal, I really wanted to put Nash with the Tampa Forwards, and I wanted to put the Staal brothers on a line with Crosby, just to see what would happen. Ah well, there's always 2010 for that.

So to summarize, our rosters are as follows:

Team Troy:
Forwards: Briere, Crosby, Doan, Heatley, Iginla, LeCavalier, Morrow, Nash, Sakic, Smyth, Spezza, E. Staal, St. Louis, Richards, Thornton
Defensemen: Blake, Campbell, Foote, Jovanaski, Phaneuf, Phillips, Pronger, Redden
Goalies: Brodeur, Fleury, Luongo

Team Glen:
Forwards: Briere, Crosby, Doan, Getzlaf, Heatley, Iginla, LeCavalier, Sakic, Smyth, Spezza, E. Staal, St. Louis, Richards, Toews, Thornton
Defebsenen: Boucher, Bouwmeester, Boyle, Campbell, Phaneuf, Pronger, Redden, Souray
Goalies: Brodeur, Gigure, Luongo

Topic #4: After a season of chasing, Glen is now officially three points ahead of Troy in their hockey pool. What are your thoughts on this?

Troy says: It stinks. I'm going to have to write the Yahoo Hockey pool people because that can't be right.

But in all honestly, it's a long season and I was fortunately to be holding the lead for a while and now it's Glen's turn. His team has stepped it up a notch but we'll see who's still standing in the end.

Glen: Yeah I know the feeling, I hated it so badly when you were so far ahead, but my guys have made quite the charge. Troy has been Mr. Patience in the pool, making only 5 Roster Moves (compared to my 11, Ryan's 17 and Chris's staggering 25) and that kind of patience tends to pay off in hockey pools, so I'm not going to get too comfortable...yet...

Well that concludes the second installment of The Puck Stop, hope you enjoyed it…

Until next time,


Appendix 1: Roster Changes to Hockey Pools

Drops Radulov, adds Nylander
Drops Avery, adds Kopitar
Drops Nylander, adds Rolston
Drops Hasek, adds Legace
Trades Visnovsky for Parise and Liles
Drops Gomez
Activates Boyle from IR, drops O’Brien

No changes since last posting

Appendix 2: Current Hockey Pool Rosters

C- Crosby, Jokinen, Kopitar, Savard, E. Staal, Roy,
L – Ovechkin, Frolov, Parise, Tanguay, Kovalchuk, Semin, Vanek
R – Iginla, St. Louis, Rolston, Michalek, Pominville
D- Boucher, Timonen, Gonchar, Aucoin, Liles, Boyle
G – Lundqvist, Nabokov, Legace
IR- Souray, Schneider

C- H. Sedin, Marleau, Sakic, Richards, Briere, Stastny
L – Heatley, Malkin, D. Sedin, Huselius, Zetterberg, Gange, Brunette
R – Satan, Naslund, Demitra, Perry
D – Lidstrom, Capbell, Ry. Whitney, Ohlund, Phaneuf, Zubov, Pitkanen
G – Luongo, Fleury, Backstrom

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