Monday, October 8, 2007

The Sin Bin

Hockey players are cool. They’re usually humble, they’re absolute cliché experts, and they come from wholesome families with parents who drove them to 5:30 a.m. practices toting coffee and donuts.

Unfortunately, hockey players aren’t particularly literate. So someone has to pick up the slack and report on the NHL. Why not Spirit of Jake Plummer? We played hockey as kids (though we shouldn’t put to much stock into that; Phil Mickelson “dabbled in modeling” as a child) and love the sport. So why not mix stereotypical hockey chatter with dick jokes once a week?

With that, we give you the first installment of The Sin Bin, SOJP’s weekly NHL rundown…

Random thoughts of the week:

• Sitting Vesa Toskala for the Leafs’ first regular season game was an absolute PR nightmare for John Ferguson Jr. It doesn’t matter if Toskala’s save percentage was .014 in the preseason; if you ship off the 13th overall pick in the draft for a goalie and don’t start him, you’re telling everyone, “Yep, I’m a moron. I mean, odds are this deal wasn’t going to work out in the long run, but who woulda thought we’d know this soon that we fucked ourselves?” Thankfully, Toskala stole the game from the Habs on Saturday, so he may have flopped his way into a secure starting job.

• The San Jose Sharks' new unis are train wrecks. Maybe they were designed by that little kid who draws a random pattern of squiggles on a page and tells you “It’s a spaceship.” Note to every team: just because Reebok gave you those tight-fitting jerseys doesn’t mean you have to change their design and throw hideous stripes and colored shoulders over everything. Some teams look better (Sens, Leafs, Capitals) but most turned their unis into (a) glorified practice jerseys or (b) hideous, busy getups straight out of a beer league that may as well have “Doug’s Auto Repair” stitched on the front.

• Eric Staal’s a good bet to bounce back this year, but we don’t know how he does it. He’s not a particularly good skater or shooter, and he doesn’t really use his big frame to push people around. He’s one of those “always there at the right time” guys who has a sixth sense and finds the puck. Gretzky had the same quality – to the power of 10, though.

• Larkin claims Staal reminds him of “Marlowe Feltmate, this guy who always won the scoring title in my house league hockey. He wasn’t that good but he was so lucky. He’d get a hat trick but two of the goals would be off defensemen’s skates. Man. And who names their kid Marlowe?”

• Ryan Getzlaf is a MAN. A man-child. He just looks bigger than everyone, but also faster, with a bigger stride, and he tosses checkers off him like a youth coach who joins the scrimmage but gets pissed off after one of the kids slashed him and decides to dominate.

• The Carolina Hurricanes didn’t sell out their home opener. A team one-year removed from a Stanley Cup didn’t sell out its home opener. Gee, do you think it had anything to do with putting a hockey franchise in the birthplace of NASCAR? Fuck, Bettman. Wake up. Forget Vegas and Kansas City and give a team to Saskatchewan. There’s nothing to do up there but sniff glue and smash mailboxes with baseball bats.

• Is it just us, or is the Anaheim Ducks' opening schedule borderline criminal? Back-to-back games in England, followed by three more games last week. Five games in seven nights? And a flight across the pond and back? Maybe it’s a conspiracy theory. The schedule maker could be a Canadian trying to end the streak of southern-city-that-barely-knows-what-hockey-is champions.

• The Islanders will indeed lick choda this year, but maybe their top line is for real. Mike Comrie, Bill Guerin and – for Christ’s sake – Ruslan Fedotenko aren’t top-end talent, but the Comrie-Guerin connection is a classic playmaker-trigger combo. And we can’t put it past Garth Snow, Charles Wang and Ted Nolan to claim they’re “trying the basketball thing” and play that line for 40 minutes a night.

• If Peter Stastny is Archie Manning, Paul is Peyton. And Yan is Eli.

• There’s some cool Darwinian shit happening with enforcers in the new NHL. Only the fittest will survive. George Laraque showed up to camp lighter and actually looked like a hockey player in the Penguins opener, forechecking and controlling the puck on purpose. Guys like Wade Belak – a.k.a. nightclub bouncers on skates – were healthy scratches last week.

• Good for Edmonton for (a) keeping rookies Sam Gagne, Andrew Cogliano and Marc-Antoine Pouliot and (b) sticking them on a line together. Why the hell not? The Oil will probably be buried in the Northwest, arguably hockey’s toughest division, so why not develop the kids? John Ferguson Jr. should think about doing the same with guys like Jiri Tlusty and…oh yeah. The Leafs have 0.0. offensive prospects.

• Martin Havlat has to be in the running for most brittle athlete on the planet. Who can rival him? Griffey? The Bears' Mike Brown? Anyone who touches him in a fantasy hockey draft belongs in Special Ed.

• Dear lord, Daniel Briere. The little guy rivals Alex Ovechkin in the goals-that-could-actually-cause-blood-to-rush-to-our-penises-because-they’re-so-ridiculous category. Anyone see him split the D on Saturday? It’s insane that he’s never played for Canada in the Olympics.

• Two goals for J.R.? Bet you he doesn’t hit 10 this season.

Power Rankings

  1. Ottawa Senators – rolled through Rangers and Gerber’s playing like he wants Emery’s job

  2. Every other undefeated team is a pretender, so fuck ‘em.

Cutesy-wutesy undefeated team who everyone’s gushing over but will crash back to Earth shortly:

Washington Capitals. Ovechkin? Sick like the teenagers call it. The new unis? Sick like the teenagers call it. Their chances of this early season run holding up? Sick like a pre-teen boy after playing with a dead dog he found in a hazardous waste dump.

Guys we want to see more of:

1. Mike Cammalleri and Anze Kopitar – these kids have crazy vision and hands, but they don’t play until 10:30 p.m. and that’s pre-bed bubble bath time for us.

2. Corry Perry – looks like he’s ready to make a jump this year. Should be fun.

3. Nicklas Lidstrom – we’ve seen a ton of him but we want to soak in some more before he retires. If Bobby Orr is on your all-time NHL first team, does Nik deserve consideration over Bourque for the other D spot?

Devastating lines who are devouring everything in their path right now:

  1. Alfredsson-Spezza-Heatley, Ottawa: surprise, surprise.

  2. Fedotenko-Comrie-Guerin, New York Islanders: The Game Plan was No. 1 at the box office last week, too. Move along.

  3. Stastny-??? He played with Andrew Brunette and Czech import Jaroslav Hlinka early in the week, but it looked like he was with Milan Hejduk last night. Meh. So maybe he shouldn’t count on this list.


Scott said...

Forget Vegas and Kansas City and give a team to Saskatchewan. There’s nothing to do up there but sniff glue and smash mailboxes with baseball bats.

Do they grow jimson weed in Saskatchewan? I hear it's making a comeback.

In all seriousness, any week that you don't include Bettman in the Douchemeter is an affront to Canadians and common sense. Now I read that they're considering giving 3 points for wins because the single point awarded for overtime losses is leading to too many overtime games. They could fix this by admitting their mistake by simply canceling the dopey-dumb OL rule, but yahweh forbid that Bettman admits it's a stupid rule. Say what you will about my beloved NBA, but Stern was humble enough to switch back to the old ball halfway through last season when most of the league was all, "Dude, WTF?"


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Split45 said...

When my co-worker was bragging about awesome his hockey pool team was and I saw that he took Havlat, I knew he would have his foot in his mouth sooner than later.

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