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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Lunch with Brian Burke

12/26/2009
NHL Board of Governors Meeting

Earlier this afternoon, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke discussed numerous topics on Leafs Lunch – Leafs Nation Edition with Dennis Bayak.  With the Leafs playing much better than their winless start, they may make some noise during the trade deadline or as Burke alluded to before it.

Personally I have always admired Burke’s honesty in discussing his teams.  He usually gives his fans a perspective on what he plans to do while playing his cards close to the chest.  The GM of the 2010 Team USA program also announced he will release the roster on Monday, December 28th.

Lets break down some of the topics discussed.

On the State of the Team

  • Thinks the playoffs are realistic and notes the team work ethic has been great to date.
  • Reemphasized not winning their first seven games really hurt their chances of climbing the standings.
  • Would like to see both goalies healthy and in rhythm.  Wants two weeks with both Jonas Gustavsson and Vesa Toskala healthy so he can assess the situation and rely on one of them down the stretch.
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Christmas Spirit Yields Big Returns

12/19/2009
Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders

Today, we will see two big name players return to the lineup.  Are these guys the Christmas present their teams have been waiting for?  Most likely, but who now gets coal in their stockings with their returns.

Andrei Markov makes his long awaited return after missing every Habs game since October 1.  A victim of unfortunate circumstances, the veteran defenseman cut his leg on the skate of goalie Carey Price, a scary and freaky play to say the least.

Now Markov returns and should soon return to form, but at the expense of both recent call-up and subsequently recently demoted Yannick Weber and Marc-Andre Bergeron.  A recently sent down Weber adds to his frequent flier miles while Bergeron finds himself skating on the fourth line, a situation he is not used to being a natural defenseman. The 29-year-old journeyman defenseman, mostly known for his prowess on the powerplay, will have trouble keeping up his torrid scoring pace now that his playing time will be greatly diminished.  Fantasy owners should be in full blown sell mode.

Could this make Bergeron expendable to the Habs and available to a team in need of a solid powerplay QB?

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Hungry Preds Avoid Injury Bug

12/18/2009
Nashville Predators v Colorado Avalanche

So far in this season of the National Hockey League, injuries have been a plenty. Across the board every NHL team featured a substantial injury or two.

However, there has been one team able to avoid the issue of a long term injury to a key player or players.  That team is the Nashville Predators.

Aside from the team being one of the hottest teams in hockey as of late, they have been gifted by the hockey gods. Up to today, the Predators lost a total of 60 man-games due to injury or illness, one of the lowest number of man-games lost in the entire league.

The list:

Jason Arnott – Missed from October 21st to October 31st

Wade Belak – Missed from November 14th to November 19th

J.P. Dumont – Missed from October 8th to October 14th and then missed November 5th to November 10th.

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Flyers NOW Turning the Corner?

12/08/2009
New Flyers coach Peter Laviolette

A few days ago Puck Daddy did an article about the Flyers and their coaching change.  Until tonight, the article appeared very wrong.  After tonight it reads oh so well.

Say what you will about the Islanders, they are a very competitive team.  In fact, before the game they were ahead of Philadelphia in the standings.  Now they are tied and that should be the closest the Islanders get to the Flyers all year.

Their new coach, Peter Laviolette, moves from the press box to the bench, giving them a strong leader who most likely will push them over the top.  Although there were rumors of no fighting and a less physical team I would like to remind you these are still the Broad Street Bullies.  Dan Carcillo felt no need to tone down his game, and it looks like Chris Pronger won’t either (see Boarding call on Tavares).

For this team to be successful they need to maintain their physical nature while feeding off consistent production from their top two lines.

This is why this game is a true turning point.

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What’s Eating Steve Mason?

12/08/2009
Jackets vs. Flames

Has the ghost of Jim Carey come to haunt last year’s Calder Trophy winner?

Say it isn’t so!

For those unfamiliar, Carey was a star NHL netminder in Washington for two brilliant seasons in the mid-90s, before being traded and subsequently fading into hockey obscurity faster than you can say….uh…er…Jim Carey.

Speaking for Canadian hockey fans everywhere, there were visions of greatness for the lad from Oakville, Ontario as he ascended the stage last June at the NHL awards ceremony to accept his trophy. With a humbling level of modesty and graciousness, he bowed to Tim Thomas in the Vezina race but we all believed that one day his day would come.

Could the script have been written more perfectly?

As a Canadian kid with a stellar hockey pedigree he dominated and won gold at the 2008 WJC. He started last season in Syracuse recovering from off-season knee surgery, logically it would take a year in the minors for development and tuning. However, a month into the season and after only a few minor league starts, he got the call to Columbus due to Pascal Leclaire injuring his ankle.

After winning his first NHL game, he went on to get his first NHL shutout several games later. Through November and December Mason played brilliantly, winning Rookie-of-the Month honour for both months. The wins and shutouts began piling up and Leclaire, having returned from injury, had a front row seat from the bench. Coach Ken Hitchcock rode the hot hand through the season and Mason’s hand never cooled down. In March ’09 GM Scott Howson traded the injury prone Leclaire to Ottawa, confident that their goalie of the future was in fact their goalie of the present.

How could this fine specimen of a goaltender NOT be the real deal?

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Quarterly Review: Projected NHL Trophies

11/23/2009
NHL Awards Presentation

With Atlanta playing their 20th game last night, the first quarter of the 2009-2010 season is officially over.  Seeing as this is a milestone within the season we thought it would be a good idea to discuss the trends emerging around the NHL.

The article’s intent is to show who would win the NHL awards if the season finished today.  Of course these players will most likely NOT win the awards, NHLHS just likes having fun with small sample sizes and hot streaks.

Whether it be injury or inability there are plenty of surprises when compared to preseason predictions.  Teams such as the Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings and the Buffalo Sabres find themselves at the top of the standings, surprising most pundits.

We will outline the NHL trophies and why we think these players as of right now are deserving of them.  In addition, we will include the projected nominees so you can see our train of thought.  We hope you enjoy this mini-series which should continue throughout the NHL season.

Click the link below to see our award winners and tell us what you think in the comments section!

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