Thursday, November 26, 2009

NHL teams say thanks


This is not an original idea. I can't remember when I first saw this type of column, or who wrote it, but someone else did it before me. Just getting that out of the way now.

But, on this American holiday, let's take a look at each NHL team, even the Canadian ones, and see what they are thankful for on this day.

Anaheim: Corey Perry. Without him, the Ducks might be even further back in the standings than they are now.

Atlanta: The staying power of Rich Peverley as a legitimate scoring option. A waiver-wire acquisition from Nashville last season, Peverley notched 35 points (13 goals) in 39 games for the Thrashers last season and has eight goals and 24 points in 21 games this year. Together with Ondrej Pavelec's emergence could play a factor in Ilya Kovalchuk staying in Atlanta. That would be what the Thrashers would be most thankful for, but maybe that's going to have to be a Christmas present.

Boston: The doctors who worked on Patrice Bergeron. After consecutive seasons of 70+ points, Bergeron had his career nearly derailed by a concussion stemming from a check-from-behind from Philadelphia's Randy Jones, who received a two-game suspension. Bergeron played only 10 games from that hit in 2007-08. The following year, he played 64 games, and while he posted only 39 points, he appears fully recovered now and has become Boston's top scoring threat (seven goals, 18 points) during Marc Savard's absence.

Buffalo: Ryan Miller, who if voting were conducted today, should be one of the top candidates for the Hart Trophy. He has been phenomenal.

Carolina: That the Hurricanes don't play in Toronto, Vancouver or New York. The media isn't as harsh in Raleigh.

Calgary: The end of October. It's a testament to how good Jarome Iginla is that nine points (four goals) in 12 games in the opening month is considered sub-par. Since the calendar changed months, the captain has exploded for 12 goals and 14 points in 11 games with three November contests to go.

Chicago: It's probably too harsh to say the death of owner "Dollar" Bill Wirtz, but when fans of the team of said owner actually boo during what is intended to be a moment of silence and ceremony to honor him, that's a rather telling statement as to how he mismanaged (misowned?) the team. Since his death in 2007, coincidence or not, the Blackhawks have re-emerged as a force in the NHL, potentially dominant for years to come.

Colorado: Florida not re-signing Craig Anderson, who should be the MVP if the season ended today. I don't know why there's all this love for Chris Pronger as MVP; Philadelphia was fifth in the East last season without Pronger and it's fifth right now. The Avalanche, however, were dead last in the West last season - and it wasn't all that close - and are now third. Most of it is on Anderson's shoulders.

Columbus: Rick Nash signing a lengthy extension to stay in town. He's really really good.

Dallas: The health of Brad Richards, who has a team-high 30 points in 22 games, which is fourth in the league.

Detroit: That it's only November. The Red Wings are 10th in the West right now but there's plenty of time for them to get healthy and climb in the standings.

Edmonton: Dustin Penner finally living up to the big contract he signed several years ago.

Florida: Tomas Vokoun, who faces shot after shot each night and, like Miller and Anderson above, gives his team a chance to win.

Los Angeles: Ryan Smyth, who has elevated Anze Kopitar's game to a new level. Hopefully for the Kings, Smyth doesn't miss too much time.

Minnesota: That Doug Risebrough is no longer employed. Things may not be going well this season but they're more likely to change for the positive under Chuck Fletcher than Risebrough.

Montreal: That Toronto threw a lot of money at Mike Komisarek, who would be the worst free agent-signing if voting was conducted today.

Nashville: Pekka Rinne winning the goalie competition with Dan Ellis. He's been one of the forces behind Nashville's current seven-game win streak.

New Jersey: The ageless Martin Brodeur. Healthy again at 37, he has returned to the workhorse form he's provided for so long and doesn't appear to be missing a beat.

New York Islanders: Winning the lottery and being able to draft John Tavares, who for the most part has been living up to the hype and has given Islanders fans a reason to watch.

New York Rangers: Bob Gainey for taking Scott Gomez off the Rangers' hands and providing cap room to sign Marian Gaborik.

Ottawa: That the Sens ran that bum and locker room cancer Dany Heatley (18 goals, 29 points) out of town. Milan Michalek does lead the team in goals with 11 but Jonathan Cheechoo has only four points.

Philadelphia: Ray Emery, who's proving all his doubters, and there were many (including me, yes) wrong.

Phoenix: Wayne Gretzky's resignation as coach. Sorry; no one's questioning his skill as a player, but that doesn't mean he'd make a good coach. Under Dave Tippett, the Coyotes are a much more competitive squad.

Pittsburgh: A red-hot October that made it easier to accept an injury-plagued losing streak that appears over, both the losing and the injuries.

San Jose: That Ottawa ran that headcase Dany Heatley out of town, enabling the Sharks to find a taker for Cheechoo's contract (two years, $3M cap hit for little-to-no production.)

St. Louis: That Erik Johnson didn't play golf in the summer.

Tampa Bay: The "bust" label attached to Steven Stamkos lasted for just half a season.

Toronto: That Boston preferred to pay big bucks for Milan Lucic and not Phil Kessel.

Vancouver: That one of the top American skaters (Ryan Kesler) plays in Canada.

Washington: Semyon Varlamov, who after a mostly-sluggish start is starting to show that his 2009 playoff form wasn't a fluke.

Perhaps on Black Friday, a list of what teams are NOT thankful for.


Anonymous said...

Cliff? ; )

KiPA - Kevin in PA said...

Ha! FAIL on my part. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Komisarek is not the worst free agent signing... we Montreal fans want him back