With the NHL in full shutdown mode, and the Olympics underway it’s difficult to stay focused on the NHL standings and the teams that make up said standings. So we won’t – and I’m sure the Canucks vacationing in Barbados won’t bat an eye. Instead it’s time to shift our criticism and expertise to the team that holds the weight of a nation on their shoulders. As Allen Iverson once claimed- “We talkin’ bout Team Canada” (or something along those lines). Now, if you think that the term “Team Canada” refers to a certain blue and white colored jersey adorned by players such as Phil Kessel and Dion Phanuef – you’re an idiot. The Canadian Olympic team is set to play Norway on February the 13th and is looking to get a good start to a tough tournament.
Courtesy of Wikipedia
While the Norwegians don’t pose too many threats, at least in terms of superstars, there will be plenty of other teams and plenty of others players who will try their darndest to take our red and white heroes down. Here are the biggest threats to another Canadian gold medal in Olympic Men’s hockey.
5) Ryan Kesler (USA) – Kesler may not be the most offensive or skilled player on Team USA but one could argue he loves beating Canada more than anyone. He has been a thorn in Team Canada’s side since his days in the World Juniors and scored two goals against Canada in the 2010 tournament.
4) Henrik Zetterberg (SWEDEN) – An excellent two-way player and a natural leader Sweden will look to Zetterberg to take the team under his wing with Henrik Sedin injured. Zetterberg is always dangerous and is very crafty on the big ice.
3) Pavel Datsyuk (RUSSIA) – Another two-way player with tremendous skill, Datsyuk will thrive on the open ice. Datsyuk is still very much a Russian at heart despite playing in Detroit for over a decade. Look to him to be a stoic leader in the Russian locker room, keeping the emotions at bay.
2) Zdeno Chara (SLOVAKIA) – With Chara anchoring the back-end, Slovakia has dark horse written all over them. Chara will be the best shut-down d-man in the tournament. Expect an upset at an unlikely time for the Slovaks, similar to the performance they put in at the 2010 games.
1) Alexander Ovechkin (RUSSIA) – This guy will be the most fired up player in the tournament, maybe even the entire Olympics. Expect goals, goals and more goals from Ovi. Oh and maybe a thunderous hit here and there too.
For his hit on Kyle Clifford, Byron Bitz was suspended by Brendan Shanahan for the next 2 playoff games. No issues here. Like I said yesterday, it wasn’t necessarily malicious, but it was still a dangerous hit on a player in a vulnerable position.
Now compare that to Shea Weber’s *ahem* play on Henrik Zetterberg:
For grabbing Zetterberg’s head and slamming it into the glass a la Blake Griffin, Weber was issued a $2,500 fine.
I have three words to describe this: What. A. Joke.
Late last season, the NHL swore to take steps to eliminate head shots. To underscore the point, they suspended Aaron Rome for an unprecedented 4 Stanley Cup Finals games – the equivalent of 48 regular season by Sheriff Shanny’s own calculations. In the preseason, they suspended players for 5, 7, 8 games.
All those seem like faded memories now.
Watch the video again.
Weber makes no play on the puck. He doesn’t throw a check. He doesn’t even to pretend to. He goes straight for Zetterberg’s head, grabs it and smashes it against the glass hard enough that Z’s helmet cracked.
In this era of supposed heightened awareness on concussions and player safety, this merited a mere $2,500 fine, which Weber will pay off by about the 2 minute mark of tonight’s game.
In honour of the season, we got together and thought we’d give you a lump of coal …err, a festive edition of our Fantasy Hockey Pool update.
How did our rankings shape up as of Wednesday morning? Read on:
Goose is my Wingman (Chris) – 89.5 points (current rank: 1st)
If there is one thing that I’ve learned during my meteoric climb to the top of the standings, it’s definitely humility. I’ve been called a drunken boater by Lizz, had my strategic draft process mocked by Ed, seen my definition of an A-list actor trashed by Tom, and pretty much been knocked at every corner by all the writers here at CHB. So you probably would forgive me if I were to take pot-shots from the high ground, but I won’t sink to that level. Instead, I’ll just bask in the warmth and glow that first place provides to a select few.
And seeing as it’s the holiday season, I want to share with you two holiday videos that not only share the warmth I’m enjoying but correlate to my journey in the pool so far.
Yes, good ol’ Billy Mack (as played by Bill Nighy – definitive A-list actor). Just like Billy, I was disrespected early on but eventually found my way to the top of the charts. And seriously, is there any better movie to watch at Christmas?
And while my super strategic draft mechanism has me in the position I am today, I have been accused of drinking a bit too much of the Egg Nog this holiday season. But who might have spiked it? Yes… who exactly spiked the Egg Nog? My guess is Lizz. I mean… she called me a drunken boater and I sense that she’s bitter I’m on the top of the pool standings.
But I’m beyond all that. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Auto Draft… err… New Year!
Just like another famous second-place finisher (George W. Bush), I’m demanding a recount. Losing to Chris in this pool would be like like losing a tennis match to a blindfolded Reba McEntire – shocking, yet strangely arousing. Hmm. Perhaps I’ve said too much.
For those have you who’ve been away, here’s a summary of all the NHL-related headlines through the first 2+ months of the season: concussions; concussions; concussions; concussions; concussions; Sidney Crosby; concussions; concussions; concussions; concussions; coach fired; concussions; coach fired; concussions; coach fired; concussions; coaches fired; concussions; concussions; concussions. There, now you’re up-to-date.
One final note – as a true gift to you: The perfect Rum and Egg Nog recipe (must be over legal drinking age to continue reading):
1. Get one clean glass (you’d be surprised at how many people get this wrong by going with a dirty glass or, in some cases, an old boot).
2. Inside the glass, toss in three ice cubes (they should clink in the glass. If they don’t, start over).
3. Put in the glass – 1 part rum (eyeball it. If you go over one part, might as well continue to two parts).
4. Two and a half parts egg nogg (eyeball it. Basically, if you pour egg nogg to the point your cup runneth over, well, first you’ve been watching too many episodes of The Borgias - who says “cup runneth over” anymore? Secondly, you’ve clearly been drinking too much. Call a cab. Even if you’re in your own house. Call a cab).
5. Nutmeg shavings (no, contrary to what your hairy roommate might tell you, shaver shavings are not a suitable substitute).
Welcome to flavour country.
Mr. Haiku (Clay) – 82 points (current rank: 3rd)
The recent rash of concussions has hit this team hard as both Jeff Skinner and Kris Letang have been out for quite a while now. However, I’ve managed stay in the top 3 thanks to the stellar play of Daniel Sedin, Marian Hossa, and Tim Thomas.
In the spirit of Christmas, I give full props to Chris “I Don’t Need to Show Up at the Draft” Golden who has taken over first place. I wonder how the other poolsters feel that his auto-drafted team is way ahead of theirs. And thanks and congrats to Tom, who is comfortably in second place and for putting these recaps together. And to the other 5 poolies who continue to make me look good.
And Merry Christmas to all of you loyal CHB readers. You must be loyal indeed if you’re even reading this hockey pool post!
I’ve got the Washington Capitals of the CHB hockey pool. Wildly inconsistent with subpar goaltending. While my boys might be terrible one week, they could put up 15 points in a day and shoot up 7 points in the standings but one way or another, they’re not living up to expectations.
…I guess it was no coincidence I started the year with three actual Washington Capitals on my roster.
But then maybe we’re all just doing this wrong. I mean, Chris doesn’t even have a 4th defenseman and he’s in top spot. Auto-draft to victory!
The Hamhuis Ballards (J.J.) – 73 points (current rank: 5th)
Just like Batman has The Joker and Jenn has Angelina, Santa has the Grinch.
And on my CHBWFHP team, I have a couple of grinches.
Henrik Zetterberg has 23 points in 33 games, which puts him on pace to finish with 57 points – or roughly the same pace Kyle Wellwood is on.
After 34 games, Christian Ehrhoff has 16 points and one less goal than Aaron Rome. He’s also a minus-11 – only seven defensemen in the entire league have a worse plus/minus rating.
Looks like I’m still second to last, which is keeping with my “just finish not last” mantra.
I think part of my problem is that I really need to pay better attention to injuries. When my players get hurt I seem to clue in about a week later that maybe I should bench them, so I should work on that. I also made some changes to my line up for the first time, dropping Brandon Sutter and Michael Grabner, while picking up Alex Steen and Ilya Kovalchuk.
I think my team’s leading in penalty minutes, which means they’re either dirty or scrappy, but I’ll take it either way, since it’s also the only stat I’m leading in. By the way guys, I’m still not sure I understand how scoring works. I’m fairly certain I’d have been better off letting a computer make my picks like Chris did.