Archive for the ‘Central Division’ Category

Certain players could not care less that yet another lock-out is plaguing the National Hockey League. Why is that? They already took the liberty of joining various leagues across Europe before the issue became inevitable and forthcoming.

There have been some incredible talents to come and abruptly go in the NHL, as money, playing time and a lack of consistency persuaded them to continue their careers elsewhere.

Tax-free terms on a contract, which the Kontinental Hockey League offers, are something most of us can only dream about. You can’t blame a guy for trying flying to those stipulations. (more…)

Advertisements

If Teemu Selanne is the ‘Finnish Flash‘, Ville Leino is coming dangerously close to being recognized as the Finnish flash in the pan.

Undrafted, but an accomplished player in Europe, Leino’s first North American contract was with the Detroit Red Wings. Those days in ‘Hockeytown’ didn’t last long and he has since received a look from two other organizations, showcasing mixed results.

Hardly a model of consistency, this puck-mover has played with the emotions of clubs that seen him as a suitor and for the most part, hasn’t warranted a place in their line-ups. While the Philadelphia Flyers saw Leino at his best, at least so far in his career, Detroit and Buffalo cannot share the same opinion.

Obviously, Leino’s status as a controversial and confusing figure aren’t without reasoning, which is why we shall dissect the curves in his National Hockey League dossier.

How does one exactly summarize a career that is merely 220 games old?

Honestly, it’s like one of the rides available at a fair or carnival being held in a mall parking lot: you get excitement, uncomfortable feelings and the occasional vomiting. (more…)

Nicklas Lidstrom does not need an introduction. If anything, people are likely running out of superlatives to describe him with.

Put together on one sheet of paper, everything he’s achieved is nothing short of remarkable. Four Stanley Cups, seven Norris Memorial Trophies, one Conne Smythe award, 12 All-Star Game inductions and one Olympic gold medal place him amongst the legends of the sport.

The Calder Trophy was one of the few awards he failed to claim, but that was because his competition was one of the most electrifying players of all time in Pavel Bure. In a dual between a natural scorer and an unflappable defenseman, the scorer was voted as top rookie. It just goes to show you, even a performer with the pedigree of Lidstrom can’t win them all.

Steve Yzerman’s introduction signaled the start of something special in Detroit and Lidstrom is a huge factor in its continuity. Two decades have flown by since the veteran was first positioned into the line-up, during which the Red Wings are yet to come up short of reaching the postseason. Few matters are automatic in this day and age, like someone being fairly suspended by Brendan Shanahan for intolerable violations. One thing you can count on though is that Lidstrom’s name is synonymous with success. (more…)

The 2003 NHL Entry Draft, perceived as one of the best in league history, churned out a bundle of cornerstone players in the first round–a few were also snagged in round two. And to think, such a coveted collection of players was forced to be put on hold for one year due to the lock-out. That distinction should have went to the class of 1999.

Going No.1 overall, Marc-Andre Fleury was chosen to fill the void in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ net. Ask, and you shall receive. The 27-year-old has decently done what he’s supposed to–the Philadelphia Flyers beg to differ– after a rookie season that saw much trial-and-error experimenting within the club.

As the second player to have his name called, Eric Staal went straight to work with the Carolina Hurricanes by amassing 100 points as a sophomore and sparking the group towards a Stanley Cup. Florida picked up Nathan Horton and while he wasn’t exactly a leader, he wasn’t a bust either. Nikolai Zherdev, as talented as they come offensively, didn’t solidify his selection with the Columbus Blue Jackets. (more…)

Wrong guy, wrong place, wrong time.

This, or something along the lines of it, is the thought that races through the brain of anyone who Niklas Kronwall has caught with their head down. Unsuspecting of any danger, they look at the puck to collect it. Then, in a matter of seconds, No.55 lines them up and lays them out emphatically.

While the legendary Scott Stevens mainly put the hurt on forwards in the open ice, Kronwall’s heaviest and best-known hits have occurred close to the side boards. The puck will go around the net or there will be an outlet pass, which is when the target waits for the puck, glances downwards or both.

That first pass for the ongoing rush must be tape-to-tape, otherwise the player is destined for a thundering collision and a dizzy state that prevents them from regaining their feet immediately. If one did stand up and skate away unscathed, they should always consider themselves lucky. (more…)

Some players, no matter how hard they try or how well they constantly perform, go through their careers as under-appreciated and overlooked athletes.  While the same superstars hog the spotlight year in and year out, their media attention is in stark contrast to others who silently finish their shifts on a positive note.

Take Kimmo Timonen for example, a defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers who is lauded by teammates and opponents alike. It’s his 13th year in the National Hockey League and yet he is still somehow hidden from the microphones and televisions too routinely. Maybe it’s his 5-foot-10 frame that makes him hard to find in a crowded dressing room. Maybe the reporters want to interview those with last names that do not have to be double-checked for spelling. We can’t all have fancy, simple names like Mike Richards and Bobby Ryan.

Although he may not mind his underrated label, it is unjust for a hardy veteran to be so overshadowed by better-known players. Perhaps Zdeno Chara will have improved Timonen’s publicity after he was the first rearguard to be hand-picked by the Slovakian’s team in this year’s All-Star Fantasy Draft. But the Finn is merely one of many.

Then there is Ray Whitney. (more…)

Surprises aren’t appreciated by everyone; these people are insistent on being told if something is in the works behind their back. With the National Hockey League’s latest campaign coming upon us, it’s a chance to pour over the players who shattered their expectations—if they had some to begin with—and whose presence graced an organization. For someone to be included in this list, it had to be their career-year to date; that goes without saying.

Next, the leap in their maturation must be a significant one—we’re not exactly going to cram in individuals who raised their highest production by ten points. And the key words are the ‘regular season’, as the playoffs are not why we’re gathered here today. No disrespect is intended for Sean Bergenheim or Joel Ward, who fired all calibers of bullets round for round during the postseason.

If surprises aren’t to your liking, do not read past this point. (more…)