Monday, January 31, 2011

And the last pick of the 2011 NHL Fantasy Draft is.....

Yeah i saw it just like everyone else but i did not like it one bit. Of course I'm talking about the 2011 NHL Fantasy Draft in Raleigh. Don't get me wrong i loved the new format with the draft and all and i also enjoyed the skills competition and the all star game but the Fantasy draft really annoyed me. If you didn't watch Phil Kessel from the Toronto Maple Leafs, my favourite player from my favourite team, was picked last but that was only part of it. He and Paul Stastny from the Colorado Avalanche were the last two remaining  in the Fantasy draft and you could see Kessel was a bit nervous.

This is were one thing happened that really irked me. Eric Staal's team had the next pick and Staal announced the selection: "Since there's no hockey market in Toronto, we're going to take Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche. I understand the all star game is suppose to be "fun" and i have absolutely no problem with that, in fact i enjoyed the fun atmosphere around the all star game. My problem is with Eric Staal announced his selection. He could have simply said "with our final pick we take Paul Stastny from the Colorado Avalanche, sorry phil" and at the same time give Kessel a friendly smile. That would have been so much simpler and the fun would have been still there. Why in the world would Eric, a Thunder Bay Ontario boy use that opportunity to take a jab at the greatest hockey market in the world and a jab at down-to-earth, shy, but deadly goal scorer in Phil Kessel, even if it was in a joking matter? There was absolutely no need for that and I don't think he cares and I don't care if he does but Eric Staal lost a lot of respect from me for that remark.

Now on to another thing that pissed me off. Ironically enough this time it was the other captain, Lidstrom, who i had a ton of respect for and still do but my respect for him diminished a bit. The problem i had with Lidstrom was how he handled the whole "last pick situation". James Duthie from TSN, who was a great, great host by the way, asked Lidstrom at least 5 times to make the selection of Phil Kessel, "the last pick". If you saw it live or if you watch the video on youtube ( *i will post a link) you can see Lidstrom does not budge whatsoever! He does not move! He has no interest in picking Phil Kessel. After James Duthie finished asking Lidstrom for the 5th time, Lidstrom simply said "ok" and did not budge to the Mic. Instead Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks made the selection. Lidstrom hung Kessel out to dry. Totally unacceptable. A real classless move by a once classy player in my opinion.  Props to Kessel who handled the whole situation extremely well. He had a smile on face the entire time but no one except for Phil himself knows what he really was thinking on the inside. I loved the new format of the Fantasy draft for the all star game. I thought it was a great idea and should definitely be continued in years to come but they really need to change the format of "last pick(s) for future games so players don't get hung out to dry like poor Phil did.

So now what does this mean for Phil from here on in? He has got to realize that everything that happened to him at the Fantasy Draft in Carolina has a deeper meaning to it. He has got to realize that the league and the players around it have a "hate" for the Maple Leafs Franchise and anyone that plays for them, so that includes Phil himself. Fact is that both the Maple Leafs and Kessel have to start getting better before they get any respect in this league. For the Leafs and Brian Burke, they have to realize that building through the draft is success formula for gaining respect around the league. Trading away draft picks will never help you win, it rarely does. All the successful franchises today, The Penguins, the Capitals, the Red Wings have built through the draft. As for Phil himself he needs to start becoming a less predictable player and a more dynamic player. He needs to make the team and the players around him better. How can he do this? Focus on the defensive aspect of his game. You could see it at all star game. This was Phil Kessel's type of game, all offense, no defense, but correct me if I'm wrong Phil Kessel did not register a single point. A reason for this is because Kessel just doesn't play defense. He sort of plays like me (no wonder hes my favourite player!) when i partake in sports. He just waits in the defensive zone, just standing there, waiting for a pass instead of going to  where the puck is and aggressively taking it out of the defensive zone and into the offensive zone. Imagine if Kessel focused on his defensive game as much as he focused on his offensive game. He would be more of an unstoppable player then he is currently. Phil Kessel playing defense would also help the Toronto Maple Leafs a ton 1) it would give them a greater chance of clearing the puck during times of an offensive onslaught by the other team (far too many seen in recent years) 2) it would help create chances for the Leafs and Phil Kessel himself. Think of it this way, if Kessel plays defense and strips the puck he can easily take it the other way with the speed he has and turn the play into a odd-man scoring chance for the Maple Leafs. So i guess you could say there is a third thing: 3) Creates more opportunity for Phil Kessel=more goals=more points= maple leafs winning=maple leafs in the playoffs=happy Leafs fans =).

Sure it's easy for me to sit here and say how Kessel needs to improve. I'm not the one playing in the tough NHL everyday, but he is my favourite player and i want him to be the best he can be. After all, he is only 23 years of age so there is lots of time for improvements for both Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Feel free to comment, hope you enjoyed my post

*Here the Lidstrom link i was talking about earlier (from 0:35-0:50)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A blessing in disguise

As the title of the blog says "a blessing in disguise", it is just that for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Losing their 2 best players in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, it seemed that the Penguins were done for. Playing without their 2 superstars for the first time since 2006-2007, a span of 437 games, im sure Penguins fans don't want to reminisce the state of their franchise before these two superstars arrived (with the exception of the Lemieux era). Without Crosby and without Malkin, the Penguins are trying to desperately to stay aloft in the tightly-congested Eastern Conference, and they are doing a good job so far. The Penguins, as of Jan.30.2011, have gone 5-4 without Crosby in the lineup (out since Jan.1.2011) and 2-1 without Malkin in the lineup (out since Jan 19.2011). The records are average but nonetheless they are still winning records and in this league that is all that matters. The Penguins, as of Jan 30.2011, sit 4th in the Eastern Conference, 1 point away from the 2nd place Tampa Bay Lightning, pretty impressive if you ask me. The sole reason as to why the Penguins have been able to stay alive in the East is because of their depth players. Players such as Kris Letang (41 pts, 2nd behind crosby) Chris Kunitz (33 pts), Alex Goligoski (26 pts) have been able to step up and provide valuable points game in and game out for the Penguins. In fact the Penguins (without Crosby and Malkin) have 12 players in double figures (more than 10 points). With injuries to Crosby and Malkin, these role players have been stepped up big and have kept Penguins fans believing again.

As I stated at the beginning of the season, more in the off season, the Pittsburgh Penguins will win the 2011 Stanley cup. They will beat the Vancouver Canucks in 7 games in the final. I personally was very impressed with the moves the Penguins made in the off season with the additions of Martin, and Michalek, after losing Sergei Gonchar to Free Agency and i believe that they got stronger as a team, even more stronger than when they won the cup back in 2008-09 season.

The "Blessing in disguise" for the Penguins comes in the form of the injuries to Malkin and Crosby. Casual fans will right away assume that injuries to the two superstars are devastating but fans with a love and sense for the game will ponder all possibilities of the injury and the effects on the team before coming to a rational decision. This is exactly what i did. I pondered and pondered. At first i too was guilty of thinking that the injuries were "bad" for the Penguins but then i gave it some thought: "With all the hockey that these two play, with a special emphasis for Crosby, the injuries might not be a bad thing after all because it gives these two players some very much needed rest" It is evident how much and how hard these players play. Just watch Crosby's NHL Commercial on Youtube where he is working on balancing on the board and simultaneously catching a ball. Also another funny example i found was on The Hockey News website. One of the cool features of this website is that it lets you find any player's strength and weaknesses, past or present. Its called "player bio". For Crosby one of his weakness ( i know shocking) is the fact that he works himself too hard. This is taken directly from the website, under weaknesses: " Could stand to pace himself a little." And this true. Between all the hockey he plays during the regular season and the deep runs in the playoffs with the exception of last year, and coupled with playing for Team Canada at the Olympics in Vancouver, Crosby definitely needed some rest one way or another.

With the Injuries to Malkin and Crosby and the Penguins managing to keep aloft in the Eastern Conference, the Penguins are looking to make yet another serious run in the playoffs. We all know for a fact that they will make the playoffs its just a matter of how far they are going to get. And think of it this way, a healthy and well-rested Crosby and a healthy and well rested Malkin come post season time is just what the "doctor" ordered for yet another cup for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

I'd like to hear from you. What are your opinions and ideas on the injuries to Crosby and Malkin? Do the Penguins have enough for another cup run?

Please feel free to comment and hope you enjoyed my post

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Just a guy trying to make a living on the internet. Have had no luck with other jobs.