Jamming the crease
The angry mobs gathered up the pitchforks, oiled the torches and stormed the SI.com castle in the wake of last week's
Judging by the accents (and the nature of their grievances), most of the rabble hailed from Philly:
If there were a breakthrough player award, Richards would definitely be the leader in the clubhouse. At 22, he's providing leadership and two-way play that goes beyond his years. But as impressive as that may be, he's not bringing as much game as
I also received a number of e-mails wondering why I left Richards out of the Selke discussion. It's a fair point, because he's earned a spot at that table with his smarts and his work ethic. He's one of those rare skaters who can be used in any situation not out of necessity, but because he's proven himself to be a reliable option. My bad for overlooking him.
Honestly, there's no tougher field to narrow down than the list of coaches doing some solid work, so additional kudos to
That said, I'm not all that sold on the argument that Stevens has played the pivotal role in the turnaround. (Take a bow,
Not saying Stevens hasn't contributed, but he's been the beneficiary of a major talent infusion, primarily in net and on the blueline. Just as Stevens wasn't as bad as he looked last year when beach balls were floating merrily past
And you can count me among those who place most of the blame at his feet for his team's scofflaw antics this season. His teams played that same style in the AHL, so clearly he believes that recklessness is more effective than simple intimidation. If this wasn't part of his overall game plan, the Flyers wouldn't be tied with the rest of the league combined in terms of supplementary discipline.
Sorry, but I'm not a fan of what he's done in Philly. He deserves a suspension for his approach far more than praise.
He might be a bit of a late bloomer, and he might have the name recognition of
I like Thomas now for the same reason I did then: I don't think there's any goalie in the league who battles harder and more consistently than the Boston stopper. And while he's benefited from the improved team play in front of him, no one's mistaking these Bruins for the 1972-73 Canadiens, making his league-leading .938 save percentage all the more impressive. Hey, put him behind a more defensive-minded squad, the Wild, for example, and he'd probably be batting .950. He's been that good.
Thomas won't win any style points, but his play is the biggest reason for Boston's success this season (apologies to coach
Hold on there, boys. I don't recall dropping even the slightest suggestion that this American squad was strong enough to beat Team Canada at the World Juniors. That's not to say they couldn't-anything can happen when these rivals meet in a one-off -- but I wouldn't bet on it. Even without the six NHLers, Canada has more depth than any other country, and they have a sizable advantage between the pipes in
That said, it doesn't detract from the point of the story, which is that the Americans are, in fact,
And don't put too much into that summer Super Series against the Russians. They're in a bit of a development trough right now. I'd venture that an eight-game series against the Americans would have been a far more competitive and entertaining affair.
Not sure I'd say he sucks, but he may be the most snakebit player in the league right now. Here's a guy who's led the team with back-to-back seasons of 30 goals, and with the number of shots he's getting (75 and counting), he should be lighting the lamp with a bit more frequency. Your frustration is justified, but honestly, you have to think it's just a matter of time before he finds a groove.
It's also worth remembering that no team ever gets better by selling low, and Ryder's value at the moment doesn't suggest he'll return someone who would make an immediate impact for the Habs. If they plan to move him -- a strong likelihood given he's unrestricted after this season -- they're better served by waiting until he gets his game in order.
It's been a couple years, but I've done a list like this in the past. Maybe it's time to get some feedback from the readers, and see who floats your boat, and who you think comes off like fingernails on the chalkboard. Send in your thoughts, and maybe we can work something up.
For the record, I'm with you, at least partially. Still think
So, let's hear who you like.
I'm right there with you. Rivalries are built in the heated battles of spring, not through overexposure in December and March. Amazing how something so obvious could escape the grasp of the Board of Governors.
I was talking about rivalries with an assistant coach a few weeks back, and I asked him about a team that was widely perceived as his club's most hated opponent. He corrected me pretty quickly. "Honestly, I don't think we have a real rivalry with anyone right now. There's not one team we want to beat any more than any other."
Kind of sad, isn't it? But the way things are set up, that's pretty much the extent of it. Two points are two points.
Although I'm not crazy about expansion, it is inevitable. There's too much money involved for it not to happen. And if the end result of adding the Las Vegas Gamblers and the Houston Oilers (hey, two teams with the same name works in the CFL) is that we get back to a meaningful divisional setup that teams have to battle through in order to advance, then bring it on.
Brother, I'm from the pre-Pong generation. Beating me at a video game would be like whipping up on your grandmother at the 100-meter dash-heck, considering the state of my battle-scarred knees, I might lose that challenge, too.
Now, if I could get my seven-year-old son to stand in for me, then it might be interesting. He'd probably be a more compelling get for your brother, too. That kid has some hot sports opinions ...