Friday, October 29, 2010

What Is Wrong With Marc-André Fleury?


Just what is going on with "Flower"? Marc-André Fleury is one of the more divisive players in the NHL today.  Divisive not because of his personality or attitude, but because of his play.  Fleury has never been a stats guy.  He has not posted stellar save percentages. He has never wowed anyone with his GAA.  However, the one department that Marc-André Fleury has nearly always impressed is in the win column.  


There are two camps in the MAF battle.  The Critics/Haters, who have always believed that Fleury surrenders too many soft goals, and has been the beneficiary of playing with a talented cast of skaters.  Then there are the Loyalists/Apologists.  This group clings to the Stanley Cup runs, his incredible athleticism, Pittsburgh's offensive-focused style of play and the "Secret Service Save."


Regardless to which camp you belong, Marc-André Fleury has begun the '10-'11 Season with a 1-4-0 record, a slightly scary 3.41 GAA, and an abysmal .861 save percentage.


Why?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Adam Burish Backs Off Post Game Pronger Comments

Moments after the Chicago Blackhawks had defeated the Flyers in the 2010 Cup Final, a NBC reporter tracked down one of the more colorful characters on the Hawks, Adam Burish to ask him to divulge his true feelings regarding Chicago's new public enemy Chris Pronger.


In case you have forgotten, here is what was said:



Unless you are a Flyers fan, it made for great tv; and it certainly opened a floodgate of discussion. 

Then, Sunday night on NHL Network's "NHL On The Fly", Burish talking to host, David Amber: (as transcribed by Travis Hughes of Broad Street Hockey)
Amber: What's the significance of February 5th?

Burish: February 5th. I have no idea.

Amber: Alright, well let me tell you. It's your first game against the Flyers and Mr. Chris Pronger. How would you characterize your relationship with Chris Pronger at this point?

Burish: You know what, I said some stupid things I probably shouldn't have after that game. It was just a spur of the moment thing and I'm not gonna sit and make an excuse about it because what's said was said. I've got a lot of respect for the guy. I think he's a Hall of Fame defenseman, one of the best that's ever played the game. Probably one of the hardest d-men to play against. He does everything well.

I really, truthfully didn't mean anything personal by it. It came out personal but it shouldn't have been said. I was embarrassed about it. I got a lot of respect for the guy and that team is so dangerous. They will be again this year. It was a heck of a series, it was a heck of a Final. Whatever happens moving forward happens but for me, I don't try to mean anything personal by it. It was a spur of the moment kind of thing.

Amber: No sweat.

Burish: I've moved on and hopefully, I'm sure they have too. I'm don't think a guy like Chris Pronger, a Hall of Fame d-man, is really too worried about a guy like me has to say at the end of the day.

Amber: Well, we'll find out on February 5th. *slightly maniacal laughter*
So Burish stated that he regretted what he said, then went on to establish Pronger's credentials, etc... Why?

Burish was so "embarrassed" by his own, not-so-off-the-mark comments, that he had to practice Pronger's HOF presenters speech?

Come on! Burish should have felt perfectly within reason for his remarks.  He should have hated Pronger.  The guy who stole the game winner pucks from Burish's teammates in the first two games of the Cup Final.  So what if Burish was a "black ace" for the Cup clincher?  Any spectator could assess that Pronger was indeed "terrible" in the games that Philly lost. What was he? A minus-bazillion in those loses?

Does anyone think that Pronger will apologize for his comments about Burish?




We have never been impressed with Pronger's "leadership" tactics and media manipulation.  However, we will freely admit that Burish was correct in his "...Probably one of the hardest d-men to play against. He does everything well..." remarks/apology.  


Regardless of his success, Pronger's skill and grit has always been marred, and to a degree, overshadowed by, cheap shots and distasteful behavior. Which, when his career comes to a close, should land Pronger somewhere between Dino Ciccarelli and Chris Simon in the NHL's pantheon.

By design, Pronger is a divisive character. Burish is doubtlessly not the only guy in the league to express a dislike for the guy.

Pronger is also entering the twilight of his career. After 16+ seasons on NHL punishment, guys, regardless of how talented they might be, are going to have some bad games.

After the shenanigans and verbal sparring of the Finals, Chicago players were entitled to think Pronger a big "idiot".  After some poor games, they were entitled to call his play "terrible".  It's part of competitive sports.  It's part of a game of aggression.What was so wrong with Burish's verbal jabs?

We say Burish did the wrong thing by trying to do the right thing.

Adam, the next time you feel "embarrassed" by the healthy hate that exists in this game, take some advice from Jay in 40 Year Old Virgin:
Of course it don't feel right! What has felt right for you doesn't work! You need to try some wrong, dawg!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rippin' Rypien

It's the story everyone is talking about.  Rick Rypien of the Vancouver Canucks "attacking" a Minnesota Wild fan in the stands. Reactions around the media range from Rypien should be burned at the stake to he lost his cool for a moment and should not be suspended for much more than the minimum five games.

At the moment, Rypien has been suspended indefinitely by the NHL.

If you haven't already watched the incident:



Observations:

As he left the ice surface, Rypien interacted with his coach, and there was an attempt by his captain Henrik Sedin to talk to him.  Rypien was clearly worked up, but with all that was going on around him, he would have had to consciously chosen to focus on the apparent heckling fan he grabbed. It also appears that he shoved Sedin aside to lunge at the fan.

A big time no-no!

Watch it again and you see Sedin is really the only one of his teammates with a clear look at what Rypien did.  While Malhotra and Bieksa further exacerbate the situation, Sedin gives a look of frustrated disgust and skates off camera.

On Wednesday, Michael Russo of the Star Tribune reported:

Just got off the phone with 28-year-old James Engquist from Mendota Heights. He is the fan who Canucks forward Rick Rypien grabbed last night as he was leaving the ice...

Engquist attended the Wild-Vancouver game with his brother, Peter, getting seats directly behind the visitors' bench as a gift from their father: "I was just standing straight up applauding as he was getting kicked out. He was out of control. And then I said, 'Way to be professional,' and he obviously didn’t care for that comment and decided to grab me and almost dragged me over the rail. If my brother wasn’t grabbing me and the other player wasn't grabbing him, he probably would have dragged me over the edge."

As Mike Chen very astutely pointed out in "From the Rink":
I bet what the Minnesota fan said to Rypien is nothing compared to what Sidney Crosby hears in Philadelphia.
Chen, it seems, was correct in his assumption.


Again we say, Rypien was agitated. It is human nayure to get caught up in the moment, but he chose to lash out like he did.  It could not be more evident that Rypien does not respect the line walked by a professional.  The League would be wise to sit him until he learns better.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some Gag On Wisniewski's Suspension


If you haven't already seen it, here is the vid of Wisniewski not-so-subtly telling Sean Avery what he thinks of his manscaping and Vogue Magazine internship:



For his effort at some modernized vaudeville Wisniewski received a 2-game suspension, which caused a bit of a minor stir around the interwebs.

The backlash centered around the fact that it was "more than was enforced on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Boynton during pre-season action, when he made a throat-slashing gesture in the direction of a Tampa Bay Lightning player." ... and the idea that "It's not a safety issue; it's an image issue".

There is no fault in the reasoning of those who question the severity of the Wisniewski's punishment.  However, more important than how this is viewed by fans and "impressionable" youth is how this kind of sexually explicit taunting is view by the NHL's sponsors.

Anytime that an incident like this occurs there is surely an automatic call to the League offices by Verizon, Geico, etc... "THIS, is what our name is attached to?"

Thus a suspension is warranted...  Add to the list of don'ts.  Don't hit a player in the head. Don't hit a player in the knees.  Don't swear on TV.  Don't question the officials.  Don't threaten the Commissioner's life (that's you Chelios), and don't mess with the league's sponsorship money.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

...and the (dirty) Hits keep on Coming

The last few years have seen a major crackdown on dangerous hits to the head and knee, which have even instigated a few rule changes and a myriad of suspensions.

However, just like the real world, the criminals always remain one step ahead of the law on the ice.

The '10-'11 season has now had it's first questionable hit on Monday, which resulted in an injury:



Clearly it was a hit against the rules. Hjalmarsson received a 5-minute major for boarding, and a game misconduct for his part.

Although he doesn't have a cheap shot history, Hjalmarsson, according to TSN "is scheduled to have a hearing with NHL disciplinarian, Colin Campbell at 1pm et."

"Everything happened so fast,"  he said after the game, but as the Buffalo announcers point out in the broadcast, Hjalmarsson saw nothing but the numbers on Pominville's back as he approached him.

On the video you can see that Hjalmarsson starts toward the area where that hit occurred from the blueline.  He coasted toward Pominville before he propels into him for the hit.  How fast could it have happened while gliding 20 feet or so while looking at the guy's back?

In no way does it look like a malicious hit, but careless plays endanger other players just the same.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

FWR Feature Videos: Ovechkin's Car Commercial, Carey Price is a Cowboy



See below for Jeremy Roenick's much more sensitive side.


As the 2010-2011 NHL season gets underway tonight, let's check out some of the more recent NHL-related videos from television and around the web:


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

2010 - 2011 NHL Predictions

The 2010-'11 season begins tomorrow. Woooo! Seems like the Hawks hoisted the Cup forever ago.  We want to kick off the new season with our own set of predictions by conference.


East

 1. Capitals - Washington brings same offense. They win a lot of fun and gun contests, but not by the margin they did last season.

 2. Penguins - Pens got better on defense and may have solved their wing issues by moving Malkin there and adding even more grit with Asham and maybe a big surprise in Comrie.

 3. Sabres - Essentially the same team from last season.  Not much better, but not any worse either.

 4. Flyers - Flyers will compete for a top spot in one of the best divisions in hockey.

 5. Bruins - Boston is already dealing with injury issues and the season hasn't even begun.  Otherwise we would have liked them to take the division.

 6. Devils - Jersey invested too much in Kovalchuk and Arnott, but will still have scoring issues. Volchenkov will give them a Scott Stevens-type impact on the blueline, yet they will take a step backward in the division and conference too.

 7. Rangers - The Blueshirts were eliminated by the Eastern Champion Flyers on the last day of the regular season in a shootout.  They were that close.  They won't miss out this year.

 8. Thrashers - Chicago South with make it to the post-season for only the second time in franchise history, but will have even a tougher time gaining the franchise's first playoff win in round One.

 9. Senators - Ottawa isn't getting any younger, and certainly not any better.  They will miss out which will cause a major stir in the nation's capital.

10. Canadiens - What Montreal fans already know: Carey Price is not as good as Halak.  What they don't know yet: No Halak means no post-season.

11. Maple Leafs - The Leafs will be improved from last season's debacle, but not enough to get the team back into the playoffs... next year!

12. Lightning - Yzerman won't get them back to Cup contention overnight.  However, he may make us regret picking Tampa to finish this low in the standings.

13. Islanders - Big injuries to Streit and Okposo will cost the Isles any chance to improve on last years' finish.

14. Hurricanes - The Canes went with youth.  They will be tough to play against, but won't win much.

15. Panthers - Florida will flat out suck from the start despite Vokoun's acrobatics each night.


West

 1. Red Wings - Jimmy Howard will be even better with a season under his belt.  The Wings have an embarrassment of riches at nearly every position.  Only catastrophic injury issues keep them from the top spot.

 2. Canucks - Vancouver added to their strength on the blueline and got rid of some dead weight up front.  They will be in command all year long.

 3. Sharks - San Jose will find out quickly how much Evgeni Nabokov was worth to them.  Their tandem in net will be inconsistent, but they have too much forward firepower to fall far.

 4. Kings - The Kings will be right with the leaders all season, but may just wait in the weeds until playoff time to do their real damage.

 5. Blackhawks - The Hawks kept their core intact, but the won the Cup last season because of the peripheral pieces they just sold off during the summer.

 6. Coyotes - Phoenix might be even better than they were the season prior, but without the regular season fanfare.  The guys they added in the summer were playoff players.

 7. Blues - The Blues added the piece they needed to get them over the hump.  They got very good goaltending last year, but Halak gives them a miracle worker in the pipes.  St. Louis is back in.

 8. Flames - Calgary added some retro-fits, nothing more, really.  But they get back in to the post-season because the teams in front of them last season will regress a bit.

 9. Predators - Nashville is always under estimated, and they most likely will be our regret pick in the West.  Where will they get the goals from?

10. Avalanche - The Avs surprised a lot of people last season, even though they faded down the stretch.  Their rookies from '09-'10 hit the sophomore slump, and so goes the team.

11. Ducks - The Ducks just couldn't be as bad as they were for much of last season, could they?  We just don't see any improvement from them this year.

12. Wild - Scoring will still be an issue in Minnesota.  Bad news for a team that wants to play an up-tempo Pittsburgh style game.  They are the Penguins without Crosby and Malkin... it doesn't add up.

13. Oilers - Edmonton will be much improved thanks to their super rookie trio of Hall, Eberle and MPS.  They all will battle for the Calder and the rookie scoring crown.

14. Stars - Dallas is a mess financially and it will probably translate into getting worse on-ice, before it can get better.

15. Blue Jackets - Columbus needed some fresh faces to improve.  They didn't get any.  How many ping pong balls will they get?


Trophies

President's: Detroit Red Wings

Art Ross: Sidney Crosby

Rocket Richard: Alex Ovechkin


Playoffs

ECF: Penguins over Capitals

WCF: Canucks over Kings

SCF: Penguins over Canucks

There ya go.  Have at it!