Monday, December 12, 2005


Potpourri for the extra point, Alex

- We finished just out of the money in the Canadian Blog Awards. Considering the original competition, 4th ain't bad. Thanks to all our readers and everyone who voted for us.

- TB has the stats for interleague play so far: the West is kicking ass and taking names with a 32-16-8 record (East is 24-22-10). In games decided in regulation, the West has 22 wins against 16 for the East.

You may note that these stats show that 18 of 56 games have been tied through regulation, an incredible 32.1%. Last season, a total of 25.6% went to extra time; this season, with more goals being scored, we're down to 21.0%.

Why is the West on top? I think it's a better conference, but that's kind of a lame "explanation". However: Dallas, Vancouver, Phoenix, and San Jose are all perfect v. the East; the Sharks have a particularly impressive 5 regulation wins thus far. By contrast, only the Lightning is perfect (3-0-0) v. the West, and one of those was in a shootout.

- Good piece on Ray Emery in the Ottawa Citizen (├×OddMan). We were checking out his mask on Saturday night, and while we couldn't see the details, we did basically decide that it looked like the goalie mask equivalent of a gold tooth. Turns out that wasn't a very original observation.

- Jardine is a little grouchy about the Sens' first losing streak of the season:
I think the Sens mojo is still circulating the baggage carousel at YVR.

A 65+ win season isn't in the cards, but they'll probably still win the East (I'd say Tampa Bay is the only team with the chops to give them a run, and they still have a lot of catchup to play). This is not intended as an insult or a compliment, just an observation, but the Senators look to me like the Canucks, with better goaltending. Is that good enough to win the Stanley Cup? Who knows.

- Olympic Roster Update! Bob McKenzie had his latest Insider Report on Saturday night, and has the same 7 D and 3 goalies as me ("if Curtis Joseph is not on the roster, consider it a major surprise"). As usual, the fun comes at the forward positions.

Bobby is claiming that there are 11 spots that are essentially "settled" and 2 that aren't. Guess which unshaven, West Coast lawsuit respondent is occupying one of his 11 settled spots? I'll believe it when I see it.

Bob is saying that Iginla, Sakic, Gagne, Richards, Lecavalier, St. Louis, Thornton, Doan, and Heatley are locks. Gretzky has said he wants Bertuzzi on the team, so he's in. They want a prototypical two-way centre, so Draper's in.

Notably missing here: a mulleted fellow from Alberta's capital frequently dubbed Captain Canada. Bob says Spot #12 is between Rick Nash and Ryan Smyth, and is mostly dependent on Nash's health. Spot #13 is Crosby, Spezza, or Staal (or maybe Smyth if Nash goes): Bob gives the edge to The Show.

Permit me to sound like the closeted Oilers fan that I'm occasionally accused of being, but leaving Smyth off the team while he's playing as well as he ever has would be a travesty. I don't buy it. Same with worrying about whether Nash will have his touch back, or whatever the concern is. Bah - it's been virtually unanimous that Nash was Canada's best player at (A) the Worlds in April and (B) at the warmup camp in Kelowna in August.

Summing up, here's the competing guesses at Canada's forwards for Torino:
Matt: Crosby, Nash, Shanahan, Smyth
Matheson: Mario (oops!), St. Louis, Spezza, Smyth
McKenzie: Crosby, Nash, Bertuzzi, St. Louis
Unanimous: Iginla, Sakic, Gagne, Richards, Lecavalier, Thorton, Doan, Draper, Heatley


St. Loius is in for sure. He had a tough first few weeks but he's been Tampa's best player since then.

Bert will be watching from home. So will Nash.

Doan doesn't deserve it but he'll be there. Ditto for Draper. (Sakic, Iggy, Smyth, St.Louis - to name a few - can all play both ways, take faceoffs, penalty kill)

Both Smyth and Shanny deserve to be there, but deserve's got nothing to do with it. I'd like to see both of them there, but I think only Smyth will go.

Spezza's injury this week will keep him home. Staal is older, but Crosby can play any forward position. It's a toss up and Canada won't lose from having at least one of them there.

Can't really lose with any lineup. My problem is with the goalies. Brodeur and Louongo suck, and not just a little bit. Cujo was hot whenever he was allowed to play in Detroit (playoffs especially), and has been great this year, so it's pathetic to hear that he might be fighting just to be third string.

Yeah, it looks like I screwed up (Disrespect!) leaving off St. Louis. I should change my Shanahan pick to him (although I'd rather send him and keep
Doan home).

Regarding Bertuzzi, here's ESPN's John Buccigross' comments on Bertuzzi, which would be right at home on Canucks message boards:

" Todd Bertuzzi is largely invisible. With his size and speed, he should be the most recognizable player on the ice. He plays a soft game and has had no impact. His salary this year is $5,269,080. I understand he hasn't played much hockey the last 19 months, so we'll give him a couple more months. But there is no way he will be on the Canadian Olympic team...

...Naslund has been playing by himself for most of the game...

...I'm appalled at the effort of Bertuzzi. He's hardly even bending his knees. I would scratch him after this effort. Or trade him. Or something."


Bert needs to get his act together. He should make an appointment to that shrink Mike Weir was using a couple of years ago. I'd be dissappointed if he made the team over all the others mentioned.

One other player who should get a look is Tanguay. Man he's good. But he's not flashy, or even vocal about his deserving to be there (ie. Spezza - I'm starting to not like that guy).

Good call on Tanguay, but if memory serves me correct, there was debate on Tanguay vs. Gagne before the last Olympic games, with Gagne coming out the winner, and apparently the loss still affecting Alex's chances this year.

I have to say I can't see Shanahan or Bertuzzi on the team.

To me the bigger question is who will wear the "C", I guess Sakic, but from how everyone seems to be talking about the job Lemieux did, how does quiet ol' Joe get the "C" for a bunch of players who apparently need a vocal leader?

Congrats anyways, you deserved at least 3rd.

Sakic or Niedermayer gets the C. The other guy gets one A, the other A is probably Pronger (although everybody on the team except Heatley and Crosby are candidates).

And I'm not a Spezza defender, but it's not his fault that the Canadian media ask him about the Olympics several times a day. (He wants to go. We get it. Now leave the kid alone.)

I was a little disapointed in Don Cherry on the weekend, he said leaving Spezza off of Team Canada would be as big a mistake as having Gretzyky on the bench for the shootout in 1998. I mean, wow, what a thing to say. That sounds like a political statement.

But then again, the amount of times that Spezza gets asked if he hopes to make Team Canada, are eerily reminiscient of the constant badgering of Stephen Harper over his "hidden agenda."

I believe Cherry coached Spezza in the OHL for a year (Mississauga), so he's just sticking up for his boy. If Grapes is one thing in this world, it's LOYAL.

Cherry is right, Spezza does deserve to go and it will be fairly dumb if we leave one of the league's best players thus far this year behind based on what others have accomplished in the past.

Additionally, if Doan goes ahead of Smyth..that's another travasty. Shane Doan only wishes he could have a mullet half as cool as Smytty's.

The whole mess would be a lot simpler if Smyth were left off the team, and speaking as an acolyte of the Sacred Mullet it's been a long time since I thought of him as a rock-solid qualifier for Canada's 'A' side. I hate to say it, but his only serious qualifications right now are the nickname and the track record (which amount to just the one).

Aren't you the guy who was tsk-ing the Flames for turning over so much of their roster? Team Canada will have 4 or 5 returning D from the 2002 team, but without Smyth, you only have Sakic, Iginla, and Gagne, out of 13 forwards, returning from that team.

Yes, it's been 4 years, and there's since been a World Cup where a few guys (e.g. Lecavalier) cemented their spots on this team. But remember also that the 2002 team had to recover from some adversity, whereas the 2004 World Cup team didn't even trail on the scoreboard for the entire tournament: any chance that'll happen again? Bringing back members of that 2002 team has value.

One other thing: this is Hockey Canada, and they also have to put together the Worlds teams. There's value in demonstrating to young players that dedication to (and success with) those teams, like Smyth has shown, is a point in favour when selecting the Olympic team.

Did you just argue that the 2002 Oly team was superior to the '04 World squad because the earlier edition couldn't find its ass in the dark for two weeks?

Yeah, I think you did just argue that.

Plus you also advocated sacrificing talent on the Olympic squad for the sake of attracting players to the Worlds. I daresay that to most of us this is like a baseball manager planning his World Series roster to make it easier to recruit for next year's All-Star Game. The Worlds are fun, even delightful. The Olympics are war. There's no comparison or commensurability.

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