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01/19/2010

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Alexander


The Man Behind the Mask: Jon Quick

01/09/2010
USA Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Orientation Camp

The second installment of “The Man Behind the Mask” takes a look at the road to the National Hockey League for Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. We hope you enjoy this weekly installment only on NHL Hot Stove.

Jonathan Quick rose quickly through the ranks on his road to the National Hockey League.  Born in Hamden, Connecticut on January 21st, 1986, this east coast native now shoulders the load for the youngest team in the League.

Selected in the third round (72nd overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Quick emerged as one of the leagues young, up-and-coming netminders in the game today. So much so that  Team USA selected the 23-year-old with hopes of him getting his feet wet in international competition.

His journey began on his high school team in Hamden where they named him to the New Haven Register All-Area Ice Hockey team.  He then starred in the famed Avon Old Farms hockey, similar to another famous USA Hockey Hall of Famer, Brian Leetch.

While at Old Farms,  Quick led the team to two straight New England Prep Championships holding the all time New England prep school record for most shutouts in a season (9) during his senior year.  His stay there showed signs of things to come.

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The Ken Hitchcock Effect

01/08/2010
Florida Panthers v Philadelphia Flyers

If the words of Nikita Filatov are not enough to describe how much of an effect Ken Hitchcock has on his young players, then you will definitely want to read this.

The young Russian said in a recent interview, when questioned on his decision to return to the NHL, “I highly doubt it. But [moving] Ken Hitchcock can really help it.”

There is a pattern and we will show you it.

On January 8, 1996, the Dallas Stars appointed Hitchcock’ as their head coach. This team displayed a nice mix of veterans and youth with promising players like Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, Jamie Langenbrunner, Richard Matvichuck (acquired via trade), Trent Klatt and Darryl Sydor.  This same team found chemistry together eventually leading them to a Stanley Cup Championship just three short years later.

However, in his first season, the kids barely saw the ice. Outside of Modano and Matvichuck, forwards Lehtinen, Langenbrunner and Klatt played a defensive checking role. Lehtinen was not drafted to be a defensive type player. Yes, he developed into a very good two-way player but a lot of his offensive potential lied to rot with Hitchcock not using him in a more offensive role or in a more offensive system.

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Storybook Ending to Another Great #WJC

01/05/2010
U20 Game - USA vs Russia

With the stage set Team Canada and Team USA faced off for the gold medal in the 2009-2010 World Juniors Hockey Championship.  With the home team slightly favored to win, it appeared to be an uphill battle stopping Canada’s gold medal run.

When the tournament first kicked off, many were not sure what to expect from the Team Usa while most projected the Canadians a lock for the gold medal game.  The scoring went as follows:

Canada 1 – USA 0

USA 1 – Canada 1

USA 2 – Canada 2

USA 3 – Canada 2

Canada 3 – USA 3

With the score knotted at three, starter Mike Lee pulled in favor of 17-year-old 2010 draftee Jack Campbell.  The latter posted a 1-1 record with a 2.40 GAA and a .912 SV% with 1 SO in the tournament. Lee just let in 3 goals on 7 shots.
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Will the Red Wings Make the Playoffs?

01/04/2010
Stanley Cup Finals - Pittsburgh Penguins v Detroit Red Wings - Game Five

Coming into last year, the Detroit Red Wings looked stronger than ever.  Fresh off a dominating cup win they added arguably the best sniper on the market and seemed poised to create another dynasty, even in this cash strapped salary cap era.

This year certainly seems to be another story.  Gone are Marian Hossa, Tomas Kopecky, Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson amongst others leaving the team with roughly 31 percent of the offense to replace.

Who did they bring in?

Todd Bertuzzi, Drew Miller, Jason Williams and Patrick Eaves amongst others.  Those four combined for a whopping 54 goals last year, a little more than half of the 89 goals that left this past offseason.  If you subtract 35 goals from last year’s totals the team still would finish 7th in scoring and not first.

GM Ken Holland planned on using rookies and young players such as Ville Leino, Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm in scoring roles, hoping it would force them to step up their games and make up the remaining 35 goals needed.  What Holland did not expect were injuries.  Injuries and injuries alone could derail all hope this team had to make the playoffs, let alone another return to the Stanley Cup.

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Power Rankings Week Ending 01/03/2010

01/03/2010

NHL Power Rankings presented by The Hockey Guys. These rankings will be released every Sunday directly following the show and summarize the thinking of Anthony Curatolo, Brandon Augienello and Dustin Leed.

Sharks' Thornton and Heatley celebrate goal against Blackhawks in Chicago

Legend: Team – Record – Position Change (Last Week)

1. San Jose Sharks – 27-8-7 (4) +3  Winners of 8 straight have propelled the Sharks to the top of the THG Power Rankings. Best team in the league deserves the best.
2. Chicago Blackhawks – 28-10-3 (2) N/C The Hawks will not go away this year and look really strong. Don’t expect a drop out of the top five much at all.
3. New Jersey Devils – 29-10-1 (1) -3 Mr. Brodeur is the best in the game, and his Devils are atop the East. Need we say more?
4. Colorado Avalanche – 24-13-6 (12) +8 The Avalanche have made strides this season and are showing that not only was it a hot start to keep them where they are.
5. Nashville Predators– 25-14-3 (6) +1 The Preds have been coming on strong, more so as of late.  Dark horse in the West? Absolutely.
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Here's to a New Year Without Head Shots

01/02/2010
New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Five

I am certain that an opinion piece of this nature will upset each team’s fans but these head shots have got to stop.  Of course, we are all hockey fans and love the big hit, some live for it but there needs to be a line drawn with the increasing speed to the game.  These hits need to stop or else hockey becomes a survival of the fittest in which young players stand little chance of establishing a career due to playing scared due to footage from the last gruesome head shot.

While the League’s general managers mull over a rule change, I would like to propose a rule change of my own.  Repeat dirty hits will lead to a permanent suspension from the League.  The OHL instilled a similar rule when they banned Michael Liambas, a notoriously dirty player, from playing in their League following a career ending hit against Ben Fanelli.  This instance marked just another time Liambas made a questionable hit, you cam see another one on first overall pick John Tavares here.  The NHL made a similar move with former NHL pugilist Ryan Hollweg, essentially calling any hit remotely borderline until he played his way out of the league.

The moral of my rant will be that these types of players simply do not deserve a paycheck in the National Hockey League.  A League where the rest of the world comes to play and play for the sport’s greatest trophies.  What kind of message does it send when careers start to end due to these injuries? Do we need Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin seriously injured before we start to see lifetime bans?

My nominees for a lifetime ban…

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The Man Behind the Mask: Dwayne Roloson

01/02/2010
New York Rangers v New York Islanders

Welcome to the 1st installment of “The Man Behind the Mask” series. Throughout the course of the year, we will be taking a look at the players who mean the most to the game. The Goalies. Our first article will be on none other then New York Islanders goaltender Dwayne Roloson.

In 27 games played this season the 40 year old netminder for the Islanders has been able to obtain points in all but seven of his starts. He has helped the Islanders, currently, to exceed expectations. Although the season is still closing in on the half way mark, the Islanders have a lot to prove but Roloson has provided more then enough of a boost to have the Islanders squeak into the playoffs.

Plenty of hockey left to play for Roloson and his Islanders this season and at this point anything is possible. Who knew that Roloson would be the veteran piece to have these New York Islanders, projected to be a lottery pick team again, fighting for a playoff spot? Aside from Garth Snow, no one.

Roloson brings a history worth discussing to Long Island.

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When is it Time for a Change? Apparently Now

01/02/2010
NHL 2009: Hurricanes Defeat Blues 2-1

After Thursday’s three goal meltdown by the St. Louis Blues, on HOME ICE, is it time for a change?  Apparently so as they fired coach Andy Murray this morning.

The Vancouver Canucks erased a three goal deficit in order to come out on top with a 4-3 win on the road.

Murray, aside from last seasons second half resurgence, in which the Blues made a miraculous turn around posting a record of 25-9-7 after the All-Star break, now hears his name circulating around the NHL.

Last season was the only playoff birth that the Blues received since his time with the team began.  This year a miracle season seems highly unlikely. The Blues, who many had as a lock for the playoffs, have not been able to do much of anything in a positive manner. The team can not win on home ice, they can not hold leads, and there is no sense of urgency.

A closed door meeting between the team and the organization’s brass led to a decent streak of getting a few games in the “W” column but now it’s right back to the same old Blues.

The city of St. Louis now blow their collective horns and sing exactly what the team is named after.

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Power Rankings Week Ending 12/27/2009

12/27/2009

NHL Power Rankings presented by The Hockey Guys. These rankings will be released every Sunday directly following the show and summarize the thinking of Anthony Curatolo, Brandon Augienello and Dustin Leed.

Ottawa Senators v New Jersey Devils

Legend: Team – Record – Position Change (Last Week)

1. New Jersey Devils 26-9-1 +2 (3) Brodeur makes it difficult to defeat them. 8-2 over their last ten games.
2. Chicago Blackhawks 25-9-3 -1 (1) The Hawks gained a lot from the playoffs last year. It’s showing this season.
3. Pittsburgh Penguins 26-11-1 +1 (4) The two headed monster and a very talented Marc Andre Fleury could have repeat written on this season.
4. San Jose Sharks 23-8-7 -2 (2) Second in the West for a reason. Depth and a sick top 6; and Nabby is great in the regular season.
5. Washington Capitals 24-8-6 N/C (5) It seems as if it doesn’t matter who plays net in Washington, they know how to Win.
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