Around the league - Dec 24 2009

Jason Gregor
December 24 2009 10:09AM

Merry Christmas to all our loyal Nation readers, with your help we continue to grow and we look forward to bigger and better things in the New Year. In less than a week the most anticipated announcement of the Olympics will occur: Steve Yzerman will announce the players for the men’s hockey team.

I’m sure you will be inundated with prognostications of who will be on the team, so before I go I thought I’d get a jump on things.

I think there are some easy choices that everyone will have on the team. The goaltenders will be Martin Brodeur; he will be the starter, Roberto Luongo and Marc-Andre Fleury. There are no other realistic options.

Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Rick Nash, Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton and Ryan Getzlaf are locks to make it up front, while Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Jay Bouwmeester and Shea Weber are sure bets.

That is 13 guaranteed spots, which leaves ten.

There are other guys who you could consider locks, but there will be some minimal debate on whether they deserve to be on the team.

Rather than pick who I think Yzerman will pick, I will fill out the remaining ten spots with the seven forwards and three defensemen I would take, although I suspect most of these ten will make the final squad.

Corey Perry will make it. He is an ass to play against, has won a Cup, is having a great season and has chemistry with Getzlaf.

I’d take Patrick Marleau because rather than pout about losing his captaincy he has flourished in San Jose, and he is underrated defensively. And with only one practice Mike Babcock can put him with Heatley and Thornton and they won’t need anytime to gel.

Mike Richards is my fourth line centre. He is physical, has good enough hands and he has the ability to change the momentum with an energy-type shift.

Brad Richards is finally healthy again, has proven he can be a clutch player and is versatile enough to play any forward position.

Vincent Lecavalier is having a decent season, but it’s his size and grit side that I’d like on my team. He would be my third line centre and thrive playing with Getzlaf and Perry.

I want Eric Staal because last May he was one of the most dominant players in the game. His playoff record shows he performs when it matters most, and he could easily play the wing. I know he hasn’t had a great season, but I still want him on my team.

Jonathon Toews with his speed, versatility and youthful exuberance makes the squad. He could easily play on the fourth line because if Babcock asks him to be defensive-minded his game is well-rounded enough to do.

Some guys who will be disappointed include: Dustin Penner, 39 solid games aren’t enough this time around, Jeff Carter, no room for a guy who misses the net one out of every three shots and Shane Doan, a great role guy, but Perry and M. Richards are better at this point.

Dan Boyle is the most underrated D-man in the game. He has incredible hockey sense, has won a Cup and is just as comfortable running the PP as he is anchoring the PK.

Duncan Keith’s skating ability and elite puck-moving skills make him a must on my squad.

Drew Doughty is only twenty but this kid is the real deal. The only reason he doesn’t make the team is because of his age, but he has proven he is mature beyond his years plus he looks like he is 30. I think within two years he will be a perennial Norris Trophy candidate.

I don’t need a one-dimensional D-man like Robyn Regehr on my team because Weber and Pronger have that nastiness if you need it. Mike Green’s defensive game could be dicey in the medal rounds, despite is unreal offensive game. He is the best offensive defenseman in the game, but in a short tourney that isn’t enough.

The debate won’t end on December 30th when the team is announced, but it will continue until the Olympics start, and if Canada doesn’t win the Gold then the debate over what a difference “this guy or that guy” would have made will be epic.

ICE WOMEN OF THE WEEK

I will be in Costa Rica for the next two weeks, so ATL will take a break until my return, so to make up for it I’ve added a few extra women as an early Christmas present. The Stars girls really like their job based on their smiles. Here is a blonde,  a brunette and an auburn just for you.

 

RANDOM THOUGHTS

  • I won’t lie, I can’t think of anything good this week because all I’m thinking about is the sand, sun and babes of Tamarindo.
  • But I will leave you with this….As you make a wish list for who you’d like to see your team add in 2010 here are some guys who will most surely be moved before the trade deadline.
  • Ray Whitney will be an excellent depth player for a team that needs a bit more offence and some help on the powerplay.
  • Saku Koivu has started to play better in Anaheim and unless the Ducks have a huge turnaround he will be on the move.
  • Andy Sutton is 6’5” and one of the top teams will want some depth and size on the backend.
  • Ethan Moreau and Steve Staios could be a small piece of a big puzzle if a team wants guys with limited skill, but lots of effort and heart. Moreau could use a change of scenery and Staios would welcome a shot at a ring.
  • The Leafs will have a fire sale with guys like Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers, Lee Stempiak and Garret Exelby all being available and they have some, albeit limited, cache for the right team. Mayers is solid 4th liner, while Exelby could be a sixth D-man on a team lacking in grit. Stajan has leveled off in Toronto, but I could see him potting a few key goals for a team down the stretch.

LEADERS THROUGH THE SEASON

Here are the top ten in pts, goals, assists and other stats.

Goals:
26: Marian Gaborik
24: Alex Ovechkin
23: Patrick Marleau
22: Sidney Crosby and Dany Heatley
21: Ilya Kovalchuk and Steven Stamkos
19: Jarome Iginla, Dustin Penner and Rick Nash

Assists:
41:
Joe Thornton
36: Tomas Plekanec
34: Martin St. Louis
32: Brad Richards
31: Henrik Sedin, Ryan Getzlaf and Tomas Kaberle
29: Paul Stastny
28: Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green
***Same ten guys for third consecutive week****

Points:
51:
Thornton
49: Gaborik
47: H. Sedin
46: Crosby
44: Ovechkin
43: Plekanec
42: Backstrom and B. Richards
41: Heatley, Getzlaf and St. Louis
***Plekanec has nine points this week and has been great for a month**

Plus/Minus:
+20:
Parise
+18: Ovechkin
+16: Jonathon Toews, Christian Ehrhoff and Jeff Schultz.
+15: Pavel Kubina and Brendan Morrison
+14: Crosby, Marleau and Mike Green
*** Rod Brind’Amour still leads for the Green Jacket with a whopping -20, but Patrick O’Sullivan and Brendan Witt are close at -19. In fact the Hurricanes (Aaron Ward -17, Joni Pitkanen -16, Chad Larose -14 and Sergei Samsonov -14), Islanders (Witt and Richard Park -16) and the Oilers (O’Sullivan, Shawn Horcoff -18 and J.F Jacques -14) have ten of the worst eleven +/- ratings. Only Ales Kotalik from the Rangers makes this group at -16. ***

PP Goals:
Twelve:
Gaborik
Ten: Heatley
Eight:
John Tavares, Niclas Bergfors, Andrew Brunette and Kovalchuk
Seven:
Teemu Selanne, Tomas Holmstrom, Mason Raymond, Stephane Robidas, Mike Richards, Stamkos, Crosby and Ovechkin

Hits:
139:
Stephane Robidas
137: Cal Clutterbuck
126: Ryan Callahan
120: Dustin Brown
119: Matt Greene
118: Andrew Alberts
116: Brooks Orpik
113: Brendan Morrow
112: Steve Ott
110: Justin Abdelkader and Dustin Byfuglien

Shots:
161:
Jeff Carter
157: Parise
155: Ovechkin
152: Rick Nash
135: Crosby
133: Vincent Lecavalier and Gaborik
132: Evgeni Malkin
131: Radim Vrbata and Henrik Zetterberg

FINAL POINTS

Just a heads up to all the guys out there who have a wife or girlfriend, be prepared to have to go see the movie Valentine’s Day. It will be released just prior or on Valentine’s Day and is a romantic comedy with a bunch of good looking people all looking for love or who are in love. It is inevitable boys that if you want to be or stay in the good books that you’ll have to take her, or at least most women will want to see it.

If you are wondering what the hell this has to do with sports it was a preview prior to The Blind Side. Great sports movie by the way.

A Merry Christmas and all the best in 2010 to those in the Nation! Talk to you in a few weeks.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Shapeman
December 24 2009, 10:34AM
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Merry Christmas Gregor don't get shot in Costa Rica!

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#2 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 24 2009, 10:36AM
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Hey Gregor, how do you feel E Johnson stacks up with Doughty?

Also, without much backing it, I'm going in with the mind set that Hall is more or less the same caliber of prospect that Kane/Stamkos were at this point. From what you've heard from scouts is the consensus that he's better/as good/worse then those guys? What about Seguin?

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#3 Word
December 24 2009, 10:53AM
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JG, are you in Tamarindo the whole time or prowling around the rest of Costa Rica?

If time permits it, and once you're done with the surfing, try to tuck into the interior rainforests. They're pretty impressive and full of monkeys, sloths and caymans... and buckets full of 30 degree celsius rain storms.

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#4 Ilya Byakin
December 24 2009, 11:09AM
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^^^^ What he said... the interior is gorgeous in some places...

Check out Rin Con de la Vieja if you can. Beautiful hiking, volcanic hot springs, etc. I spent 10 days there a few years ago...

Very worth the trip out to Liberia...

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#5 SpeedDemon69
December 24 2009, 11:17AM
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Hmm. So you picked:

Crosby Thornton Getzlaf Lecavalier E Staal B Richards M Richards Towes

What do these guys have in common? They are all centers. Oilers Nation today, Mensa tomorrow, hey Gregor? Man this was the worst team Canada list I've ever seen.

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#6 Horcsky
December 24 2009, 11:26AM
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@SpeedDemon69

Just keep in mind that most of Canada's elite players are centres. We are ridonkulus deep up the middle. Which of those four would you leave off in favour of worse wingers?

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#7 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 24 2009, 11:39AM
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Horcsky wrote:

Just keep in mind that most of Canada's elite players are centres. We are ridonkulus deep up the middle. Which of those four would you leave off in favour of worse wingers?

I don't see Toews making it. He's good, but not team Canada good in my mind.... the guys only a 65 - 70 point guy so far.

I thought Vclav was off, but he's been heating up, with his track record I could now see him making it.

I would bet at least one of Stall/B Richards is off... maybe both.

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#8 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
December 24 2009, 11:40AM
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SpeedDemon69 wrote:

Hmm. So you picked:

Crosby Thornton Getzlaf Lecavalier E Staal B Richards M Richards Towes

What do these guys have in common? They are all centers. Oilers Nation today, Mensa tomorrow, hey Gregor? Man this was the worst team Canada list I've ever seen.

how about you grow some stones and put your team canada list out there for us to see

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#9 RossCreekNation
December 24 2009, 11:41AM
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I remember a little blip you gave us on The Blind Side in the summer (?). Seen the previews for it lately and it looks good. Prob have to check it out.

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#10 RossCreekNation
December 24 2009, 11:45AM
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Staal-Crosby-Iginla

Marleau-Thornton-Heatley

Nash-Getzlaf-Perry

Morrow-Toews-St. Louis

B. Richards

Niedermeyer-Pronger

Boyle-Weber

Bouwmeester-Keith

Seabrook

Brodeur

Luongo

Fleury

**Not so much the lines & pairings**

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#11 RossCreekNation
December 24 2009, 12:20PM
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An interesting look at some 'Western Conference trade bait' from The Hockey News here. Andrew Cogliano's name was mentioned! As was one Jason Chimera.

The Eastern Conference here.

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#12 Librarian Mike
December 24 2009, 01:13PM
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Hey. Merry Christmas everybody. Hope you all have a wonderful time with your family and friends.

Jeanshorts is graciously hosting an outing at the Pint on the 28th so we can get together and watch the Oilers lose to play the Flames. See you there maybe!

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#13 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
December 24 2009, 04:43PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

Hey. Merry Christmas everybody. Hope you all have a wonderful time with your family and friends.

Jeanshorts is graciously hosting an outing at the Pint on the 28th so we can get together and watch the Oilers lose to play the Flames. See you there maybe!

He's hosting the outing? Does that include airfare?

Merry Christmas to you too, Mike!

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#14 Sandra
December 24 2009, 07:25PM
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Merry Christmas everyone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wzof-Q4awHU

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#15 Tayranchula
December 25 2009, 12:48AM
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Nash-Crosby-Iginla Heatly-Thorton-Staal Toews-Getzlaf-Perry Morrow-Richards-Doan Marleau Sleeper: Mike Fisher

Pronger-Neidemeyer Weber-Bouwmester Seabrook-Keith Boyle

Sleeper: Stephan Robdias

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#16 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
December 25 2009, 06:40AM
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Merry Xmas to all. I just want to state for the record my wife would rather sit down and watch the Oilers with me and discuss who sucks and who is playing good on a sucky team rather than watch a crappy chick flick.

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#17 Harlie
December 25 2009, 08:52AM
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Merry Christmas to all and to all a great holiday (and Hockey) season!

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#18 TigerUnderGlass
December 25 2009, 09:11AM
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@Max Powers - Team HME Evans

I can't believe you'd bother posting with your wife looking over your shoulder like that.

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#19 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
December 25 2009, 10:46AM
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@TigerUnderGlass

K she's gone now, call the police... she beats me.

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#20 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
December 25 2009, 11:15AM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

I can't believe you'd bother posting with your wife looking over your shoulder like that.

i just assumed his "wife" was a guy

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#21 jokerr
December 30 2009, 06:48PM
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Brownlee it's about time you stopped hanging off the dairy cow. We need a new group of vetern's, we need to seperate the contender's from the pretender's and we need to start looking in the mirror (Old boy's club, you know who you are!). Let's stop riding on our laurel's of past and start a new regime in Edmonton, one that will lead by example and not perform on some sadistic form of entiltlement!!!

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