Happy New Year!

Hey everyone, just wanted to wish everybody a Happy New Year. I am taking the day off from posting to celebrate New Years Eve with some friends. I plan on getting pretty loaded, so I am excited for that.

There are some pretty big games in the world of hockey tonight, Canada vs USA in the World Juniors, Toronto vs Winnipeg in the NHL in a battle between the 7th and 8th place teams in the Eastern Conference, as well as a return to his home province for James Reimer. I will cover these stories plus a lot more hopefully when I post tomorrow as I recover from a night of drinking. In fact, I imagine lying in bed in front of a computer will be all I’ll be able to do tomorrow.

So enjoy your night, with whatever you may have planned, and I hope to see some more hits to my website in the weeks to come. I am currently at 8 hits (pathetic), and I would certainly like to see more.

Many Happy Returns!

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Fantasy Hockey – Players to Watch

I am big into fantasy sports. Fantasy football and hockey are big pass times for me, and I love getting really into building my teams into winners, mainly because I hate to lose, even at fantasy sports. Now that the Fantasy Football season is over, all of my focus is going toward my hockey team, which is doing pretty well so far. I am in 2nd place overall right now, and I have some all-star players on my team, including Jonathan Toews, Claude Giroux, Patrice Bergeron, and Dion Phaneuf. However, I do have those spots on my roster that rotate from week to week based who I pick up on waivers. Watching streaks and trends and being able to read who is going to have a big week is something I pride myself on, so here I present to you the players to watch for the upcoming weeks.

F Nazem Kadri – Toronto Maple Leafs – (7 GP – 3 G, 1 A)

With this most recent call-up, Kadri is starting to look like he may belong with the big club on a more permanent basis. In his last four games Kadri has scored 3 goals and added an assist to continue on what has already been a successful season for him in the AHL. It looks as though his game has matured enough to where Ron Wilson can rely on him a little bit more, as his turnovers and defensive mistakes become fewer as he progresses. Look to pick him up in your league if your looking for some offense and have a roster spot available.

F Alexandre Burrows – (36 GP – 14 G, 11 A)

If Alex Burrows is still available in your league, you would be smart to pick him up now. The Canucks just keep winning, and with Burrows playing on a line with the Sedins right now, the points are sure to come. Burrows has 10 points in his last 8 games, including two assists against the Ducks on Thursday night. Already having 14 goals before the 1st of January, look for his scoring trend to continue and hit the 30 goal plateau this season.

D Jared Cowan (37 GP – 4 G, 7 A)

While the points may not be coming as of yet, Jared Cowan is starting to show that he has what it takes to be a top four NHL defenseman. His ice time per night continue to rise, and with the that the offensive output will improve. If you are looking for a defenseman, take a good hard look at Jared Cowan, especially if your league awards points for ice time.

G Mathieu Garon (25 GP, 10-9-2)

Garon seems to have taken over the starting job in Tampa Bay from soon-to-be senior citizen Dwayne Roloson. Roloson has struggled this season and I predict that Garon will start to get the bulk of the starts from here on out, unless Steve Yzerman decides to find a suitable replacement through the trade market. Garon has a goals against average under 3.00 and a save percentage above .900, so if continues to get starts, he is solid pickup for a number three goalie on your roster.

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Tonight in the NHL – 29/12/2011

Here is the first edition of what will become a daily post, where I will update you with scores and news from around the NHL.

Calgary Flames    1   –   3    New York Islanders

John Tavares had a two point night to help lead the NY Islanders to a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. Calgary currently sits in 11th place in the Western Conference, while the Islanders sit in last place in the Eastern Conference.

Philadelphia Flyers    4   –   2    Pittsburgh Penguins

Jaromir Jagr scored a big goal against his former team to help the Flyers win a big one for the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night. Jagr was returning to Pittsburgh for the first time since he signed with the Flyers during the office season.

Toronto Maple Leafs    3    –    4   Carolina Hurricanes    (OT)

Another goal by Nazem Kadri, his third in four games, was not enough to help the Maple Leafs get a victory over Carolina. Carolina had goals scored by Brandon Sutter, Zac Dalpe, and two by Eric Staal, including the overtime winner.

Montreal Canadiens    3   –   4   Tampa Bay Lightning

Steven Stamkos and Vinny Lecavalier both scored for Tampa Bay as the Lighting defeated the Canadiens by a score of 4-3. Montreal continues to struggle as they remain outside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.

Edmonton Oilers    3   –   4   Minnesota Wild

With Dany Heatley scoring the game-winner, the Minnesota Wild were able to gain a victory over the Oilers Thursday night. Minnesota also got a goal by the hands of team captain Mikko Koivu on way to the victory.

Los Angeles Kings   0   –   1 Winnipeg Jets    (OT)

The only goal scored in this game was by Evander Kane in overtime, which lifted his Jets to victory of the Los Angeles Kings. Ondrej Pavelec earned the shutout and only adds to has already impressive season.

Columbus Blue Jackets    4   –   1 Dallas Stars

Rick Nash scored two goals for the Blue Jackets to help lead his team to victory of the Dallas Stars. Kari Lehtonen returned in this game from his concussion and was shelled for 4 goals on 29 shots.

Phoenix Coyotes    2   –   3   Colorado Avalanche

Mikkel Boedker had 2 goals for the Coyotes, but it wasn’t enough to earn a victory against the Avalanche, who pulled out a 3-2 win on Thursday night. Martin Hanzel missed his second straight game with an upper body injury (facial lacerations).

Vancouver Canucks    5   –   2    Anaheim Ducks

Daniel Sedin had 2 goals, his brother also scored, and goals by Cody Hodgson and Mason Raymond helped to lead the Canucks to a convincing win over the struggling Ducks. The Canucks currently sit in 2nd place in the West, while Ducks currently sit in 14th place in the West.

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WJC – Denmark vs Canada – Post Game Reaction

Talk about a blowout.

Tonight’s against Team Denmark was another easy contest for the Canadian squad, winning 10-2 in what was clearly a throw away game for this team, with the only positive being that it shows that this team has an offense to be afraid of. Something that might become a problem for this team is overconfidence, as they have not been tested thus far in the tournament, but will face the always dangerous Team USA Saturday night in the annual New Years Eve game. Canada will have to keep their head planted firmly on their shoulders and play smart hockey if they want to beat the Americans this weekend and move on to the medal round with all the momentum.

The offense came from many different sources, with D Brandon Gormley scoring two goals and D Scott Harrington adding a goal and four assists. Mark Stone, the offensive standout of this team so far in the tournament, added two goals of his own, as he continues his torrid pace. Also scoring for Team Canada were Quinton Howden, Brett Connolly, Ryan Strome, and Freddie Hamilton.

Denmark struggled to build any sort of offense during this game, only mustering two goals, coming from Nicolai Meyer and Emil Kristensen. Denmark was outshout 51-26 by the streaking Canadians.

In what continues to be a goalie controversy for the Canadian squad, Mark Visentin got the start tonight and was impressive when he needed to be. With the Americans as their next opponent, expect Scott Wedgewood to get the start against the more difficult opponent after his impressive shutout Wednesday against the Czech Republic.

Canada currently stands at 3-0-0 in the WJC and have already clinched their spot on the medal round. They will look to finish the preliminaries when they face Team USA Saturday night at 8:00 PM EST, which can be watched live on TSN, TSN Mobile, and TSN.ca.

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Leafs @ Hurricanes – Failed Live Blog Attempt

Realizing that I have no followers as of yet, I have decided to indefinitely postpone my live game blogs for the time being. It just seemed like a waste of time to live blog when no one is reading. Here is the transcript of what I covered during the first period of the Leafs-Canes game. Once I get some regular followers and some more hits to the website, I may try again. Thanks to the folks over at Cover It Live for the use of their great live blogging software, it even works with my android tablet.

Thursday December 29, 2011

well id say sorry for being late but I doubt anyone is reading this… anyway, Hurricanes have an early lead from a goal by Brandon Sutter.
lots of former Leafs on this Carolina team… Tim Brent, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Jay Harrison…
2 minutes for interference for Matt Frattin, Leafs penalty kill struggling the season…
Lupul is hooked on his way to the net, penalty for the carolina hurricanes…
just realized that Gustavsson is in it for the Toronto Maple Leafs… wasn’t Reimer supposed to start???
nevermind, it is Reimer in net, I must have heard Joe Bowan say Gunnarson…
Leafs seem to have a hard time hitting the net on a regular basis…
delay of game penalty for the Canes, Leafs back to the power play…
This broadcast would look much better in HD…
Lupul is always dangerous…
hey Tim Connoly, hit the fucking net…
Leafs are 0-2 on the PP tonight, need to get their special teams going…
1 minute left in the first period, Toronto will need to pick up the pace in the second…
Carolina outworks Toronto in the first period, poor effort by the Leafs thus far… seeyah in 20 min for the start of the 2nd!
scratch that, this really pointless until I get some followers… I’ll try another Live Blog when its worth my time, PEACE!

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Leafs @ Hurricanes Live Blog

I will be attempting to live blog the Leafs @ Hurricanes game tonight, so check out the link below to follow along and get involved!

Click Here

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Leafs @ Hurricanes – James Reimer Interview 29/12/2011

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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29/12/2011 – Maple Leafs @ Hurricanes – Game Preview

When the Leafs take the ice in Carolina on Thursday, James Reimer will be the man between the pipes. Reimer struggled in his last start, Tuesday against the Florida Panthers, and it interesting to see that he will start again Thursday in Raleigh. Reimer will look to get back on track and will be aiming to put in an impressive performance against a team that is near the bottom of the NHL standings. The Maple Leafs have won 2 of their last 3 and will look to continue this trend against the Hurricanes.

For Carolina, their season hasn’t been going the way that they had planned. After a terrible start, Jim Rutherford was forced to make a change, relieved Paul Maurice of his coaching duties and replacing him with Montreal Assistant Coach and former Canadiens captain Kirk Muller. However this change has not had the effect that management had hoped, as they are still struggling. The Canes are 4-8 in the month of December, and many of their star players, including Eric Staal, have been unable to produce on a consistent level. Trade rumors are abound in Carolina, as talks of Eric Staal being shipped out of town become more commonplace as the trade deadline approaches (with the main rumor being Staal to Toronto). The Hurricanes could use a couple of wins going into the New Year, and they will need big performances from Eric Staal, Cam Ward, and every other player on their team.

In Toronto, Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel continue to be ranked among the top scorers, being ranked 4th and 7th in the league respectively. Dion Phaneuf is looking a little more like his old self, being 13th in scoring among defenseman, with 5 goals and 17 assists. James Reimer will get the start in net for the Leafs. Having missed much of the season due to injury, he has looked impressive in many of the games he has played. His record stands at 7-3-3.

In their last meeting against the Maple Leafs, the Hurricanes were outplayed for the entire game, but with a final score of 2-1, its pretty easy to see that Cam Ward was the man responsible for keeping the Canes in the game. Ward was fantastic in his last outing against the Leafs, and if he gets the start, he will look to have a similar type of performance. With the offense of the Canes struggling, Ward has a lot of added pressure on him to perform to the peak of his ability on a nightly basis.

The concussion epidemic has impacted both of these teams, with both the Leafs and Hurricanes missing each 2 players do to concussion or concussion like symptoms. The Leafs will be without RW Colby Armstrong and D John-Michael Liles, while the Canes will be without D Joni Pitkanen and C Jeff Skinner.

Game Time:

Thursday December 29th, 2011 – Toronto Maple Leafs @ Carolina Hurricanes – 7:00 PM – Live on Leafs TV – RADIO: AM 640

Starting Goalies:

Toronto      –       James Reimer                              [7-3-3]

Carolina     –      Cam Ward (Unconfirmed)               [12-14-5]

Toronto Injuries:

  • Matthew Lombardi – Dislocated Shoulder – Day-to-Day (Could Play Tonight)
  • Mike Brown – Out Indefinitely – IR
  • Mike Komisarek – Out Indefinitely – IR
  • Colby Armstrong – Concussion – IR
  • Philippe Dupuis – Upper Body – IR
  • John-Michael Liles – Concussion Like Symptoms – IR

Carolina Injuries:

  • Patrick Dwyer – Upper Body – Day-to-Day (Questionable for Tonight)
  • Joni Pitkanen – Concussion – IR
  • Brian Boucher – Lower Body – IR
  • Jeff Skinner – Concussion – IR

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WJC – Canada Shuts Out Czech Republic 5-0

After coming off an 8-1 win against Finland earlier this week, Team Canada continued to impress with a 5-0 win over the Czech Republic Wednesday night. Scott Wedgewood took over in goal for this game and was impressive, making 26 saves and earning the shutout on route to their second victory of the tournament. Mark Scheifele scored 2 goals in the third period, with Ryan Strome, Brett Connoly, and Mark Stone scoring the other tallies. It was a good game by the Canadians, as the game was not indicative of the score, with a tough Czech team forcing Canada to give it their all. In the end, it was Canada with the victory, and they look forward to their game tomorrow night against Denmark, where they could potentially clinch first place in Group B, even before they match-up with the Americans on Saturday night.

I’ve Got to say that Team Canada has impressed me thus far in the World Junior Championships. I was worried about this team coming into the tournament, not a lot of experience, very few returning players, questionable offense, but they are proving my doubts unwarranted, and are putting on a pretty good show so far. With games coming up against Denmark, and then the big game against the Americans on New Years Eve, the team is going to have to keep up the offensive pressure and put the peddle to the metal.

Mark Scheifele is showing that he has what it takes to be a superstar in the NHL someday. With 2 goals in the third period, Scheifele was a big part of Team Canada’s offense tonight, and I am sure the management team in Winnipeg were quite happy with what they were seeing. Scheifele easily could have played the whole year with the Jets in the NHL if GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has wanted him to, but having another year in junior, and the opportunity to play in this tournament will only help this young sniper develop into a more complete player.

There may be a goalie controversy with the Canadian team after this game. With Mark Visentin being the favorite for the #1 spot coming into this tournament, and after a very nice game for him against Finland a couple nights ago, Scott Wedgewood came into this game and showed everyone that he has what it takes to take this tournament to a gold medal if he is given an opportunity. With 2 more games before the preliminaries are over, it will be interesting to see which goalie steps up and claims the #1 job for the remainder of the tournament. But Canada isn’t looking that far ahead; with what should be a fairly easy game against Denmark tomorrow night, and then the big New Years Eve game against the Americans, Canada needs to take this one step at a time.

Upcoming Games : Thursday December 29th, 2011 – Canada vs Denmark – 8:00 pm, TSN

Saturday December 31st 2011 – USA vs Canada – 8:00 pm, TSN

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Concussions in the NHL = Epidemic

Since the beginning of this NHL season, there seems to be an increased interest in the concussion problem throughout the league. It really all began when Penguins forward Sidney Crosby was forced to miss the second half of last season, however the discussion has really ramped up as of late as more and more players continue to be sidelined with concussions, including the aforementioned Crosby, as he has missed a majority of this season as well.

This season there have been dozens of NHL players who have suffered from concussions and have been forced to watch their team from the press box. While a lot of discussion during the summer seemed to move toward the NHL enforcer and their role on the ice in relation to brain injuries, many of the concussions this season have been centered around other types of players, most notable several superstars.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux, who is currently among the league leaders in scoring, was forced to miss 6 games with a concussion, and his teammate and Flyers captain Chris Pronger will miss the remainder of the year. In Pittsburgh, Crosby is out once again with a concussion, with his return to the Penguins only lasting a few games. In Ottawa, Milan Michalek, who was the league leader in goals when he was injured, is only just now returning from his concussion after missing a few games. In Toronto, both Colby Armstrong and John Michael Liles are out with concussions with no table for their return. While this above list may already seem sizable, it is only a small portion of the true number, as there are at least 33 players currently in the NHL out with concussions.

In my opinion, this is a very difficult problem to discuss, and it is even harder to fathom some sort of solution. I am big fan of hockey, and having once been a tough-guy defenseman during my playing days, having body contact and fighting as part of the game of hockey is a necessity. However, something must be done to protect the players. It is bad for the NHL to have its superstars, such as Giroux and Crosby, out with concussions, and while Giroux is back playing with the Flyers now, who knows if any type of permanent damage was done, or if he is more likely to be easier concussed in the future.

It is clear that Gary Bettman and the NHL General Managers need to have a serious discussion and come up with some way to protect their players. I would love to say that I have the cure for this epidemic, but I am just one man typing on his computer. Those in the NHL that have some sort of say in how things are run need to sit down and come up with some sort of solution, even it comes down to taking some of the violence out of the game, because in the long run, the safety of the players is the most important thing.

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