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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The HD Corner - HNIC Numbers

The numbers are in for HNIC, and they aren’t too pretty as far as the Oilers are concerned. According to the Globe and mail, 409,000 viewers tuned in for the Oilers – LA Kings late game this past Saturday night. As the Globe notes, this likely could be attributed to the World Series being shown that night. More accurately, it could be due to the fact that the Oilers were one of the teams “competing” in this game. It’s not too often that a team’s go-to defenseman is Steve Staois. Ouch. It could be a long season Mac-T and friends. Or maybe this late game drew so poorly simply because P.J. Stock was conducting studio analysis along with Ron and Sean Burke. Burke was actually quite good, making some interesting points of how as a former goalie, he never judged his teammates by their salaries and only focussed on what they bring to the table each and every game. Stock on the other hand was so incoherent that he must have been on some kind of hallucinogen. I’m pretty sure there is an ECHL team out there that can use 7 assists and 150 PIMS for their team this season. As if the Wheeling Nailers can't use him. Please take him off our hands.

Finally, William Houston has written an excellent article about the one and only Bob Cole that I suggest everyone check out for a good laugh. Apparently, Ralph Mellanby has some dirt on the legendary broadcaster in his new book. Mellanby is of course the former executive director of HNIC (and father of Scott Mellanby). In 1987, Mellanby fired Dave Hodge for throwing his pen up in the air, while on camera no less, in protest that the CBC wouldn’t cut to an in-progress playoff OT game instead of The National. Dave Hodge is officially my idol. Mellanby’s book supposedly details how Bob Cole once actually said “don’t ever touch me again” to John Davidson in the broadcast booth years ago. If that can’t convince you to check out this article and buy Mellanby’s book, I don’t know what will. Caution: the co-author for Mellanby’s HNIC book is the one and only Mike Brophy. If you have seen Brophy’s work on Sportsnet you’ll know what I’m talking about. He has made Nick Kypreos look like a Rhodes Scholar in past broadcasts. And yes, this is the same Kypreos who made that racist Vincent Lecavalier – Michael Jordan remark years ago.

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News You Can Use Late in the Day

Due to a large number of late day transactions at my place of business, this post is wayyyyy late. The good news is that we will have some exciting new features very shortly. Until then, here are a few late night tidbits.

-Jason Spezza has suffered a groin pull and is day to day.
-Derian Hatcher could miss a month with suspected cartilage damage in his knee.
-NHL.com looks at the emerging talent in the Swedish Elite League.
-Predators owner Craig Leopold has extended the deadline for a local group to purchase the team.
-The excitement is growing in Chicago.
-Bruins goaltender Jordan Sigalet, who suffers from MS, has been recalled from Providence.
-Paul Maurice bag skates the Maple Leafs.
-Saku Koivu forced to defend his lack of French language skills. Montreal fans should thank their lucky stars Esa Tikkanen isn't their captain. Could he speak any language?
-Pierre Lebrun with a list of best and worsts from the first month of the season.
-Eddie Belfour wins his Swedish Elite League debut.
-Matt Greene is out for 3 months with a broken ankle. The Oilers are about 1 injury away from scouting the Adult Safe Hockey League.
-Scott Morrison says there will be no easy answers in the Rick Tocchet situation.
-Inside College Hockey looks at the early favorites for the Hobey Baker.
-The Score notes that Jannik Hansen is expected to be recalled by the Canucks. Do they really need a soft Dane with few offensive skills that badly?
-Ontario man may have the puck that won the 1972 Summit Series.
-A rash of injuries will test the Oilers depth.
-Adam Proteau with a vain attempt to tie Halloween to Hockey.
-The Clarkson Cup, awarded to the top women's team in Canada, faces an uncertain future.
-TJ Oshie is the WCHA Player of the Week.
-Solid drafting helps the Wings win in the salary cap era.
-Harvey Rosen with a look at the accomplishments of some Jewish hockey players.

For Illegal Curve, I'm Kyle Kosior

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Cold Hard Rants

It’s scarier than another night vision video starring Paris Hilton. It’s spookier than Illegal Curve’s own Adam Gutkin sans un chemise. It’s more frightening than a movie that has spiders, snakes (on or off a plane), and people with saws. I am speaking of, for the umpteenth consecutive week, a controversy surrounding the NHL, its players, and their actions’ on the ice. (In the interest of fairness, it’s nice to see a sports league that has the thug actions on the ice, and not on AND off the playing surface like in the National Felons League and the NBA.) I am speaking of the on-ice incident involving Randy Jones and Patrice Bergeron.

As I am sure most readers are well aware, there was a very scary incident involving Mr. Jones hitting Mr. Bergeron head first into the boards. It looked bad from the start, and even worse as Mr. Bergeron was taken off the ice on a stretcher without moving any of his extremities. Fortunately, Mr. Bergeron was not seriously injured, and suffered no paralysis, when it appeared upon first reaction that it might have been a distinct possibility.

Seeing as how ultimately, Patrice Bergeron will be all right, I am going to venture into dangerous territory and say that as culpable as Randy Jones is in the incident, Patrice Bergeron is also somewhat responsible for putting himself into the vulnerable position. Although my hockey career was undistinguished and (as some would say) an embarrassment to the game, I did know the proper way to protect myself on the ice, and not to stand a foot away from the boards, facing the boards. If I knew it, and considering I could barely control my body on the ice due to an inability to skate, then an NHL player should know it too. If I knew where to go while playing no contact house league hockey at River Heights Community Centre (Go Buzzards!), then an experienced hockey player knows not to do what Bergeron did.

My esteemed colleague, Richard Pollock, wrote yesterday that the NHL needed to come down hard on Jones. With all due respect to Richard, whom I readily admit knows substantially more about hockey than I, I disagree. Rarely do I agree with the tall foreheads at the NHL offices, but in this instance, I feel as though the punishment fit the crime. Jones had to make a split second decision, and I do not believe that his intent was malicious. Whether Bergeron turned into a more vulnerable position at the last second, or the Jones-Bergeron interaction was an instance of bad timing all around, I do believe that Jones was punished appropriately.

And if the NHL is serious about combating hitting from behind, I urge them to be proactive and follow the educated lead of Junior Hockey and post a stop sign on the backs of player’s jerseys. Alas, we know that the aforementioned tall foreheads in the NHL offices would never do something so simple and so smart. They specialize in reacting after the negative publicity, and to expect differently after this near miss would be foolish.

For Illegal Curve, I am Andrew M.

About the writer: Formerly a speech writer for a Canadian Federal Politician, Andrew will be bringing his unique take on the hockey world to the illegal curve blog once a week, or more often if the rage needs to be released in a manner other than clobbering a referee over the head with a whiskey bottle. Mainly because he doesn’t have enough empty whiskey bottles at his disposal.

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Euro Curve takes a look at the latest international hockey headlines.

Colorado Avalanche rookie forward Jaroslav Hlinka hasn't registered a point in his last eight games after bursting out of the gate earlier this season. Hlinka signed with the Avalanche this past summer after leading the Czech Extraliga last season in scoring with 19 goals and 38 assists in 46 games played with HC Sparta Praha, his hometown club.
Milan Hedjuk had a lot to do with the Avs signing of the 30-year-old center as he basically told team management that this guy could Get 'R Done. He started the season with two goals and 1 assist in the first three games, but has since cooled right off (11 games played, 1 goal, 2 assists). He started the season playing with super sophomore Paul Stastny and Andrew Brunette, but has since been bumped down to the third line.
Hlinka is rather small by North-American standards but has a low center of gravity and is solid for his size. He is an extremely gifted playmaker with loads of international hockey experience. He has played profesionally in the Czech Republic, Russia and Switzerland. Hlinka has represented his country at the World Hockey Championships on six different occasions (winning gold medal in 2001 World Championship with Team Czech Republic).

- New York Rangers 2006 4th round Draft Pick David Kveton (104th overall) is looking good in the Czech Extra Liga this season for HC Ocelari Trinec. The 19-year-old center has 7 goals and 2 assists in 16 games playing in a league stacked with veterans like Petr Nedved, Pavel Patera and Jaroslav Balastik.

According to the Central Scouting Report: Kveton is a good Skater with acceleration, quickness and balance … soft hands – controls the puck very well … a smart player with very good vision … a very creative offensive minded player … has a good reach … very good overall skill level … a finesse type of player.

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.

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Prospect Pulse: Lars Eller

I realized far too late that I blew my chance for a Halloween appropriate Prospect Pulse when I profiled Ben Blood a little too early. Since no team has a Jack O'Lantern in their Top 20 prospects, I went with the Blues' Lars Eller.

Eller, a Danish product who learned the game in Sweden, was taken 13th overall in last June's draft. With that selection, the Blues made him the highest drafted Danish born and trained skater. He possesses a North American style game that is sound technically (his father is a former Danish national team member and current Danish Elite League coach) and defensively responsible.

That being said, he is not the 2nd coming of Mats Lindgren, the erstwhile Swedish grinder. Eller is a good playmaker and is adept at finding room to make a play. He has a good touch around the net, but by his own admission he would rather shoot than pass. In his draft year, the Dane put up 18-37-55 in the defense first Swedish junior league and helped his team to the championship.

In addition to the offensive prowess, scouts rave about Eller's work ethic. He apparently will never give up on a play and can give opposing defensemen fits with his tenacious forecheck. Though I can find scant mention of any weaknesses, Euro hockey websites note that he could improve his play without the puck. Eller is spending this season in Europe in the Swedish junior league, but may see time in the Elite League and will most definitely get some ice with the Danish National team.

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Fantasy Watch: Scouring the Waiver Wire

F Jiri Novotny, Columbus Blue Jackets
Only playing 64 career games with Buffalo, Novotny never lived up to expectations, as the forward only managed a disappointing 8 goals and 16 points. Traded to Washington in the deal that brought Dainius Zubrus to Buffalo, Novotny got off to a fast start with his new club, but ultimately slowed down, totaling only six points in 18 games. Signed this past year by Columbus, Novotny has exceeded expectations scoring four goals and four assists in 10 games.
Fantasy Take: Novotny is heating up, scoring 5 points in his last three games. Right now, the former first round pick is only a lower end fantasy forward, but things could change if he continues to play at a high level.

F Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens
After having a career year last season, Plekanec is starting right where he left off, scoring 10 points in 11 games. The fourth year forward has played a major role in Montreal's success and is currently second in team scoring. It's rather unlikely that Plekanec will keep up with this torrid pace, but expect the Czech to surpass his career highs set last year.
Fantasy Take: Plekanec's 10 points are rather inflated after the forward scored four points in one game. If you look closely, all of Plekanec's points have come in bunches, so only use the forward as a short term option.

F Alexander Steen, Toronto Maple Leafs
Steen had a disappointing year last season, as his scoring decreased 10 points from his rookie season. Looking to improve on last season's failure, Steen has come out of the gate firing. Fourth in team scoring with nine points, Steen has had his share of great games this season, including a three point outburst against Pittsburgh this past week.
Fantasy Take: Like Plekanec, Steen's points have come in bunches. Until he can become a more consistent scorer, look for other options.

F Devin Setoguchi, San Jose Sharks
Setoguchi made his NHL debut on Monday and didn't disappoint, scoring two goals leading the Sharks to victory over Dallas. Playing on a line with Joe Thornton, Setoguchi capitalized on the opportunities given, and should make San Jose feel a little better about losing Ryane Clowe to injury. With no timetable set for Clowe's return, Setoguchi may be in the league for awhile and could prove to be a valuable pickup later on.
Fantasy Take: Before jumping on the bandwagon, pay attention to the Sharks next game to see how Setoguchi performs. His previous goals were scored on nifty passes from Thornton, so if the rookie is not playing with Thornton, then expect his output to drop.

For Illegal Curve, I'm Jonny Remis

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Morning Musings

Here are the national morning papers:

Here are the Eastern Conference morning papers:

Here are the Western Conference morning papers:

For Illegal Curve, I'm Richard Pollock.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nightly Recap - Crosby Busts Out

-Sidney Crosby busts out with four points and Evegni Malkin adds three, the Penguins take the Wild 4 - 2.

-Freddy Sjostrom scores the winning goal with 2:58 to go as the Coyotes defeat the Blues 2 - 1. Brad "My Favourite" Boyes scored his 9th goal in 10 games, he has really gelled with linemates Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya both assisted on Boyes' goal tonight.

-Ilya Kovalchuk scores another shootout winner for the Thrashers as they beat Carey Price and the Canadiens 3 - 2. Alex Kovalev had two points. The Thrashers goals tonight were scored by Eric Perrin and Slava Kozlov. Starting out the year with an injury, Marian Hossa has been invisible so far collecting 3 points in 9 games. He is getting regular minutes each night, coach Don Waddell expects him to come around eventually.

-Henrik Zetterberg scored his 10th goal as the Red Wings edge out the Oilers 2 - 1. The Red Wings continue to minimize the amount of shots their goaltenders face. Osgood stopped 15 of 16 and moves to 6-0, he has yet to allow more than 2 goals in a game this season.

-The Flames take their turn beating up on the Predators 5 - 1. Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay had 3 points each, Daymond Langkow, Matthew Lombardi and Kristian Huselius had 2 points each. When did the Flames become such a high powered offense? Miikka Kiprusoff celebrated his new contract by stopping 39 of 40.

Tomorrow's Games (all times Eastern)
7:00pm TB@NJ (TSN)
7:30pm CAR@FLA
8:30pm CHI@DAL
10:30pm CLB@LA

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News You Can Use Late in the Day

-Tampa Bay called up former UND defender Matt Smaby.
-Rick Tocchet will meet with Gary Bettman this week.
-A look at Sportsnet's Goals of the Week.
-Who's Hot and Who's Not in the CHL.
-INCH looks at the benefits of a 2-referee system.
-The Bruins and Devils take big dives in this week's Power Rankings.
-The Canadiens call for a rule change in the wake of Boullion's injury.
-Simon Gagne is still hampered by concussion-like symptoms.
-Robbie Ftorek takes over as the head coach of the Erie Otters. No word on the status of his awesome sweaters.
-Hockey Rants examines what ails the Ducks.
-The WHL Power Rankings courtesy of Taking Note.
-Ted Montgomery of USA Today profiles his 10 Most Overrated Players in the NHL.
-A Q and A with Chris Vande Velde.
-Fanhouse notes that there are problems brewing in Vancouver.
-A profile on Islanders prospect Jason Gregoire.
-Anaheim GM Brian Burke is a proponent of the bear hug.
-A look at top-rated WHL prospect Zach Boychuk.
-Claude Julien wants to change attitudes on the Bruins and make them tough to play against.
-The Omaha Lancers are dominating the USHL.
-Jeff Gordon sees the Brad Boyes deal as one of the keys to the resurgence of the Blues.
-A story about the travels of a Thrashers' fan.
-Sidney Crosby returns to Minnesota.
-Pierre Lebrun with a look at back at October in the NHL.
-Mason Raymond has been sent back to Manitoba.
-The Score notes that Jonathan Toews has a 9-game point scoring streak to start his NHL career.
-A rumor roundup from the Hockey News.

For Illegal Curve, I'm Kyle Kosior

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Prospect Pulse: Michael Frolik

Frolik, or Baby Jagr as the Czechs call him, is a 2006 Florida first rounder. A player who exhibits some of the same traits as 68 Senior, Frolik can display all-world talent one night and then do a D.B. Cooper the next night.

A gifted playmaker, Frolik can dominate the game from the blue-line in and make sick plays at full speed. While he does seem to favor the pass, Frolik nevertheless possesses a quick and accurate wrist shot that he will use from anywhere. The former 10th overall pick adjusted to life quickly in the offense first QMJHL and compiled 73 points in only 52 games. Frolik has started slow this year, with no points to show for his first 3 contests.

The 19 year old Czech, who compares himself to Patrick Elias, can play any of the three forward positions. Said to prefer Left Wing, Frolik dropped to 10th overall in his draft year after some scouts expressed concern about some off-ice issues and a drop in production. The Panthers were unconcerned with the production, as he was playing on a bad team with limited offensive help.

Once thought to be a Top 5 Pick, Florida was extremely pleased to have him available at 10th overall. They feel his smart, NHL-style game and lethal shot will make him a fan favorite in South Florida. Though he competed in the Panthers camp this fall, expect Frolik to finish the season in the QMJHL and then get some seasoning in the AHL.

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Numbers Game

In this week’s Numbers Game, I looked at team goal scoring. Obviously, in a team game where you win by scoring more goals than the other team, the more goals your team scores the better chance you have to win. It should come as no surprise that teams that scored more goals in each of the last 5 seasons enjoyed greater team success. Only 4 teams that qualified for the playoffs last season (Dallas, Minnesota, New Jersey and the New York Rangers) did not finish in the top half of the league in goals scored.

Some people would suggest that teams that score more 5-on-5 goals would likely rank higher in conference standings. In most games, teams play the majority of the game at even-strength. Conversely, power-play opportunities are not guaranteed and are determined by the subjectivity of the referees. Logic would therefore dictate that teams that are able to score more goals on even-strength instead of relying on power-play opportunities would be more likely to win.

The numbers, however, would suggest otherwise. With the exception of last season, over the last 5 seasons, a higher ratio of even-strength goals to power-play goals was not a strong predictor of overall team success. While teams that scored more even-strength goals and more power-play goals were more likely to qualify for the playoffs, it did not matter whether they had better success in either category.

As a result of these findings, it becomes apparent that success at even strength is no more telling than success on the powerplay. Therefore, teams are probably better off stressing the equal importance of these on-ice situations instead of stressing the importance of one over the other.

For Illegal Curve, I'm Adam Gutkin.

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Morning Musings: Randy Jones got off easy

We could talk about this ad nauseam, but the suspension to Randy Jones has been deemed fair by most people in hockey circles. I have to say, I wholeheartedly disagree. I do not particularly care that Jones is not a dirty player. Furthermore, I don't exactly understand how Colin Campbell can decipher whether someone "intended" to hurt someone or not. I saw the hit, and Jones drove Patrice Bergeron's head straight through the end boards. There was no let-up, no backing off; instead, he clearly followed through with a punishing hit from behind. As well, Bergeron did not turn at the last second as some have suggested; rather, he was standing with his back to Jones the entire time. A suspension of two games sends little if any message to the rest of the NHL players. I have just one question: Would Jones have only received a two game suspension if Bergeron had been paralyzed?

Here are the the Eastern Conference mornings papers:

Here are the Western Conference morning papers:

For Illegal Curve, I'm Richard Pollock.

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Euro Curve takes a look at the latest international hockey headlines.

- According to the Globe and Mail,
Unrestricted Free Agent Forward Peter Forsberg will join the Swedish National Team for the upcoming Karjala Cup Tournament.
The Karjala Tournament, also known as Karjala Cup, is an annual
ice hockey event held in Finland. The tournament started in 1996 is part of the Euro Hockey Tour (EHT) in which Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden participate. (source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karjala_Tournament).

Peter Bondra officially announced his retirement from the National Hockey League today, ending weeks of speculation within the hockey world. He has been named general manager of Team Slovakia by the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation. Bondra was previously unsigned this year after scoring 5 goals and 9 assists in 37 games for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2006'07. Bondra finishes his stellar career with some pretty impressive stats: 1,081 games played, 503 goals, 389 assists, 892 points, 761 Penalty Minutes. He also had 56 points in 80 career playoff games. I think the true sign of his greatness is found in his nine 30-goal seasons, including two 50 goal years ( '95-96, '97-'98). Is Bondra a Hall of Famer? His 503 goals and nine 30-goal seasons make him a contender at the very least. He is hurt by a serious lack of hardware. The closest Bondra came to sipping from Lord Stanley's Mug was in 1997'98 when the Washington Capitals made it to the Finals, only to be swept by the iconic Detroit Red Wings.

Here are your updated Russian Super League Leaders ( courtesy of russianprospects.com)

Super League Leaders
Morozov, Alexei 24 (10+14)
Sushinsky, Maxim 22 (11+11)
Alexandrov, Viktor 21 (9+12)
Atyushov, Vitaliy 21 (4+17)
Mozyakin, Sergei 21 (12+9)

Saprykin, Oleg 13
Mozyakin, Sergei 12
Dobryshkin, Yuri 11
Kulemin, Nikolai 11
Sushinsky, Maxim 11

Atyushov, Vitaliy 17
Morozov, Alexei 14
Zinovjev, Sergei 14
Zaripov, Danis 13
Alexandrov, Viktor 12

Svitov, Alexander 69
Piganovich, Oleg 67
Nikulin, Ilya 53
Vorobiev, Dmitri 48
Saprykin, Oleg 47

For Illegal Curve, I'm Ezra Ginsburg.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Nightly Recap: The Rangers score some goals

-The Rangers finally received some offensive output and were 3 -1 victors over the Lightning. Jaromir Jagr, Chris Drury and Brendan Shanahan had two points each and Vinny Lecavalier scored on a penalty shot. Henrik Lundvquist continued his spectacular play by making 21 of 22 saves.

-I wonder what the Toronto papers will be saying tomorrow morning as the Washington Capitals explode all over the Toronto Maple Leafs 7 - 1. Michael Nylander lead the Caps with 3 assists and Alexander Ovechkin had 2 goals. Olaf Kolzig was solid in between the pipes stopping 32 of 33.

-Devin Setoguchi scored two third period goals to spark the Sharks to a 4 - 2 win over the Stars.

Tomorrow's Games (all times Eastern)
7:00pm PIT@MIN (Versus)
7:30pm ATL@MTL (TSN)
8:30pm PHX@STL

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Breaking News You Can Use Late in the Day

-TSN is reporting that the Calgary Flames have signed goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff to a 6 year, $35 million dollar contract extension. The deal is apparently front-weighted.

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News You Can Use Late in the Day

-Philadelphia's Randy Jones gets a 2 game suspension for his hit on Patrice Bergeron.

-Petr Bondra retired today to become the GM of Slovakia's national team.

-Sam Gagner is profiled in the nhl.com's Rookie Watch.

-The Penguins are looking for consistency.

-Bobby Ryan is adjusting to pro hockey with the Portland Pirates.

-The Prudential Center opened its doors Saturday night in Newark.

-Inside College Hockey has its newest Power Rankings posted, and North Dakota falls to 3rd place.

-Eric Duhatschek wonders if Zetterberg is the NHL's best player.

-The Capitals admit that their hot start wasn't a good indication of their team's skill.

-Though Kane and Toews are hot, a few Hawks are struggling.

-Jason Labarbera is named the NHL's First Star of the Week.

-Fanhouse notes that Ron Wilson is on the hot seat in San Jose.

-Stan Fischler wishes the Toronto media would leave John Ferguson Jr. alone.

-Taking Note with a roundup of Sunday's WHL action.

-Kevin Lowe and Brian Burke fail to kill each other in Anaheim.

-Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic have found some chemistry in Colorado.

-The NHL Notebook from the National Post.

-Fan Nation wonders if its time to resurrect the Broad Street Bullies nick name.

-The Halifax Mooseheads get creative with their nicknames.

-Five Big Games for the upcoming week.

-The Weekly AHL report.

-The Sharks made a number of transactions yesterday.

-Ken Campbell of the Hockey News feels that 2 games for Jones isn't nearly enough.

-Shanahan, Doan and Gaborik are all struggling early on this year.

For Illegal Curve, I'm Kyle Kosior

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Prospect Pulse: Theo Peckham

Theo Peckham, a 6-1, 216 pound defender is the property of the Edmonton Oilers. One of only 7 defenseman in Canada to not play on the Oilers blue line last year, Peckham is currently playing with the Springfield Falcons in the American Hockey League. Having played only 4 games at the AHL level, the 19 year old Peckham is still trying to establish himself as an everyday player.

He has had a strong start, however, and Coach Buchberger has stated that he gains confidence in Peckham every time he hits the ice. Not a gifted offensive player, the OHL graduate has nevertheless scored 1-1-2 in his 4 games and is an even. His loan goal came on the powerplay and was a game winner.

Peckham was known as more of a fighter in junior, where he regularly amassed more than 200 PIM's a season. That being said, he is still a smart hockey player who makes good decisions and can contribute to a team in other ways. Able to make solid open ice hits and a force in front of the net, Peckham fits nicely into the mold of tough stay at home defensemen that the Oilers seem to covet.

The Oilers are said to see Peckham as part of the new breed of enforcer, in that he can fight and still contribute to the team. Any player that makes the safe decisions and doesn't get noticed too much will be a favorite of MacTavish's. Though Peckham has NHL size right now, he will likely spend a couple of years in Springfield working on his skating and quickness.

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Fantasy Watch: Top Performers of the Week

Week of Oct 22nd – 28th

F Rod Brind'Amour, Carolina Hurricanes
5 G, 4 A +6

Brind'Amour has been on an absolute tear to start the season, scoring 18 points in 12 games. He currently leads all Canes in scoring and is riding a nine game point streak. Brind'Amour has certainly silenced all the critics who argued that the 37 year old would not be able to keep up his point per game average as he did last year.
Fantasy Take: Brind'Amour was probably overlooked in many drafts as a drop off in production is sure to happen sooner than later. Nonetheless, the 37 year old has been fantastic and should be starting in all formats.

F Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
2 G, 5 A, +1

Scoring only one point in each of Washington's first six games, Ovechkin has heated up as of late, registering seven points in his past three. The forward leads all Capitals with 13 points and has owners less worried about a season long slump.
Fantasy Take: As long as Ovechkin doesn't get hit by the Capitals recent injury bug, the third year forward should reach 90+ points for the third consecutive time.

F Paul Kariya, St. Louis Blues
1 G, 5 A, +2
When Kariya signed with St. Louis many expected his production to go down, as his former team, Nashville, was clearly the more talented club. So far this has not been the case as Kariya has scored 13 points in nine games, leading all Blues. His highest output came earlier this week when the former Anaheim Duck scored one goal and assisted on three others, leading St. Louis to victory over his former team Anaheim.
Fantasy Take: Kariya has been very efficient in his first nine games and is a must-start in all leagues.

F Ray Whitney, Carolina Hurricanes
5 G, 3 A, +6
Whitney has been playing fantastic hockey as of late, scoring a goal in each of Carolina's last four games, while chipping in three assists. The 35 year old now has seven goals on the season to go along with 12 points. Showing no signs of slowing down, Whitney is more than likely to reach the 80 point plateau for the second consecutive season
Fantasy Take: Whitney may be getting old, but the points are still coming. Expect the same output that Whitney produced last year.

For Illegal Curve, I'm Jonny Remis

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Morning Musings

Here are the National morning papers:

Here are the Western Conference morning papers:

Here are the Eastern Conference morning papers:

For Illegal Curve, I'm Richard Pollock.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Tonights Games: Detroit rides to a 5 game win streak

-Colorado 3, Minnesota 1 - Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic have found some chemistry, they had 2 points each

-Edmonton takes Anaheim to a shootout and wins 3 - 2. Ales Hemsky scored the winner for Edmonton. The Ducks have now lost 4 in a row, equaling their longest losing streak of last season.

-Detroit continues to ride as they defeat the Canucks 3 - 2. Chris Osgood was busy for the Red Wings tonight stopping 27 of 29 shots. I'd like to note that tonight the Wings allowed more shots than the past 2 games combined. Detroit is now on a 5 game win streak.

Tomorrow's Games (all times Eastern)
7:00pm TB@NYR
7:30pm WSH@TOR
8:00pm SJ@DAL

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Morning Musings: When will players learn to respect each other?

If you haven't seen it already, here is a clip of Randy Jones' hit-from-behind on an unsuspecting Patrice Bergeron. After watching this clip, I don't even know what to say. I mean, this hit was just plain ruthless. Jones followed through on the hit and buried Bergeron's face directly into the end boards. Now, some people have said that this isn't Jones' game; that the defenseman doesn't play this dirty style of play. Even so, that is irrelevant in my opinion. Past history of dirty play or not, this hit deserves a severe suspension. Think about it, Bergeron could have broken his neck. In my opinion, there is no dirtier hit in hockey than a hit-from-behind. It is cowardly, cheap and completely unnecessary. If the NHL wants to put an end to these ridiculous hits, they will give Jones at least a 15+ game suspension and set a strong precedent that would discourage other players from hitting-from-behind.

Here are the Eastern Conference morning papers:

Here are the Western Conference morning papers:

For Illegal Curve, I'm Richard Pollock.

Ballhype: hype it up!