Seeing how the inaugural post mentioned Sturm and Samuelsson in the negative and both now find themselves skating for dinner money in Florida, it leaves me to (correctly) assume I have remarkably perceptive powers. Borderline mind control. Not bad for a basement dwelling blogger with a suspiciously low amount of Hot Pockets.
This week we praise one American, wave a nagging finger at #3 and haze the new guy. Hopefully they’re still all on the team by Halloween.
Living High Off The Hog
> Chris Higgins: Higgins has been a pleasant surprise as we near the end of the opening month. He and Hodgson are the only forwards providing (relatively) consistent secondary scoring. He’s facing some tough competition but has managed to rattle off at least one shot in every game, leads fowards in blocks (6) and got the A-OK from GMMG to bump Hodgson to the third line when David Booth arrived. More please and grow that playoff beard back while you’re at it.
> Alex Burrows: It says something when the "third Sedin" actually outplays the twins themselves. Mr. Everything has been getting nearly as many offensive zone starts as the reigning Art Ross champ in addition to joining Lapierre, Hansen and Malhotra as the key PKs up front. His 34 SOG is good enough for 4th highest in the league and, like Higgins, has been the strongest player on his line the past few games. On some nights he plays like the only guy giving a damn.
Your Sins Will Find You Out
> Kevin Bieksa: Take your pick: the team worst -9, the team lead in PIMs (23), mysteriously pinching and blowing the play, his single point in ten games. None of this is good. It’s not a great sign when your best defenseman of the previous season hits paydirt during the summer and returns to the ice only to stink up the joint. Juice has to get to the KISS philosophy which, honestly, is what half the roster needs too.
> Roberto Luongo: Calm down, I didn’t say trade him for anyone on Tampa because THAT WOULD BE JUST SILLY. We can toss out the "he has bad October" line all we want, but the fact is following the Cup run this isn’t a normal October for anyone donning the Orca. It’s not Luongo’s fault he’s playing behind a team that suddenly can’t score and the 21st-ranked defense to boot, but the Oilers’ second goal (bobbled behind the net from a possible miscommunication between the netminder and Hamhuis) is exactly the type of play that will draw the steak knives out from the masses. Some calm, cool collective netminding will go a long way to righting some of the early season wrongs.
The Spirit Is Willing But The Flesh Is Weak
> David Booth: Yup, I’m going there. Everyone loves that you’re here, but the honeymoon is rapidly closing. You’re judged by the company you keep and, so far, the AmEx line looks sexy but does little else to relieve the pressure off the Sedins. Love the speed, hate the shot selection. Love the offensive rushes, hate the finish. Love the hair, hate the hair. A mere one goal will change all of that, but until then this is the pressure of playing in a
hockey-mad market anywhere but Florida. Welcome to the party.
> Dan Hamhuis: He phoned in the performance against the Blues (-3) and hasn’t showed that tenaciousness we saw last season. Maybe he’s having some post summer surgery complications as well? Not all bad: he’s leading the PK TOI duties and while his GAON/60 on the kill is high (though not nearly as high as Volpatti’s), that’s more reflective of the overall slump the Canucks are mired in. Making it worse is that both he and Bieksa playing off their games shatters the overall defensive make-up. Salo can’t do it all on his own. Just like Bieksa, Hammer needs to get back to the basics. Fast.