Sunday, October 30, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Los Angeles Kings, 10/30/11

Know The Enemy: Los Angeles Kings (6-2-2, 14 pts); lost to Phoenix in OT 3-2 last night.

Key On This Guy: Kings center Superman, who uses the powers granted to him by the Earth's yellow sun to dominate and torture the Avs game after game, year after year. I have long believed the Kings have an unfair advantage by having Superman on their team. Wait, that's NOT Superman? The guy wearing 11? "Anze Kopitar"? Yeah okay, maybe thats his EARTH name. Avs fans know better though.

Laugh At This Guy: Tubby underachiever Dustin Penner, who has bounced in and out of lineups in Anaheim, Edmonton, and now Los Angeles due to a questionable work ethic. Penner would counter that he runs every day and lifts five times a day. What he WON'T tell you is that the "running" is to Burger King, and the "lifting" refers to forkfuls of birthday cake. It's not always his birthday, but hey, SOMEBODY'S birthday is today, right?

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Rookie blueliner Slava Voynov, who has gotten his NHL career off to a red-hot start, justifying dunderhead Kings GM Dean Lombardi's decision to fuck with franchise defenseman Drew Doughty's head all summer over a lousy $200,000 a season. So GREAT WORK, DEAN.

Fact About The Kings That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Previously referenced idiot Kings GM Dean Lombardi has not finished tweaking his roster, after adding former Flyers captain Mike Richards and pursuing free agent pivot Brad Richards over the summer. Before the trade deadline, expect Lombardi to attempt to sign free agent hooker Denise Richards to shore up the team's shaky "lesbian kissing", which ranks 29th in the NHL.

Celebrity Prediction: 2006 NAACP "Man Of The Year" Recipient, actor Michael Richards

"How am I going to pick against the team that traded that colored fellow for my namesake? Kings 4, Avs 1...giddyup."

Friday, October 28, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Edmonton Oilers, 10/28/11

Know The Enemy: Edmonton Oilers (5-2-2, 12 pts); beat Washington 2-1 last night.

Key On This Guy: Sophomore studmuffin Taylor Hall leads a group of young Oiler talent up front that rivals the Avs youngsters. Despite being a talented hockey player, do not entrust him to help you figure out a tricky Twitter password.

Laugh At This Guy: Vagabond shitheap Ben Eager, who was the first NHL player to sample the menu of the vaunted "Gary Roberts Diet", which consisted of a series of left hands and crushing humiliation.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall's young running mate, who once played really well for Canada in a World Junior Championship. You can be forgiven if you didn't know that, as the musky cloud of mancrush the entire nation has on Eberle only extends down as far as remote areas of Montana and Detroit, where nobody lives.

Fact About The Oilers That May Or May Not Be Made Up: In an effort to make young stars Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins feel more "at home", the Oilers encouraged all their veteran players to take a hyphenated last name. Popular examples inclue Andy Sutton-Expert, Shawn Horcoff-Albatross, and in an especially impressive show of selflessness, Nikolai Khabibulin-Designated-Driver went with the double hyphen.

Celebrity Prediction: Lauren Pronger, wife of former Oiler Chris Pronger

"Where are they playing? Because if it's in Edmonton, both teams and all the fans will be lucky to survive, between the freezing temperatures and hungry wolves roaming the tundra, much less worry about a stupid hockey game. Can't they go play somewhere relatively nice in comparison, like Anywhere Else In The World?"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Calgary Flames, 10/26/11

Know The Enemy: Calgary Flames (2-4-1, 5 pts); lost to Nashville 2-0 on Saturday.

Key On This Guy: By process of elimination, Flames captain Jarome Iginla, who is gonna look like a million bucks wearing a jersey of an actual contender sometime before the end of his illustrious career. Los Angeles, perhaps?

Laugh At This Guy: Windup-toy-on-ice Curtis Glencross, who would be an extremely effective NHL player if he didn't have a "Quaker Oats" logo tattooed on his forehead. If NHL players had to take the Wonderlic test, "GlenX" would be able to count his final score on one hand. That is, if he knew how to count.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Designated facepuncher Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, who might be a lousy NHL player, but his name gives me a boner. Projects to be a Baron or a Count once his NHL career is over.

Fact About The Flames That May Or May Not Be Made Up: The Flames play their home games in Calgary's "Saddledome", which was named in honor of its proximity to all the horse's asses that have played for the organization over the years.

Celebrity Prediction: Asshole Flames Fan Streaker From 2002

"Despite the fact that I cant BARE the thought of another Flames loss, the NAKED truth is with DANGLERS like Olli Jokinen, our Flames can't lose tonight! Final score Flames 4, Avala..."<slips on ice and is knocked cold>

Saturday, October 22, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Chicago Blackhawks, 10/22/11

Know The Enemy: Chicago Blackhawks (4-1-1, 9 pts); beat Colorado 3-1 on Thursday.

Key On This Guy: Jonathan Toews, popularly known as "Captain Serious", and half of the two-man comedy team of "Captain Serious and Admiral Tickles". He'd drive a knife through your face to win a hockey game.

Laugh At This Guy: Ladies man Daniel "Daddyfingers" Carcillo, a guy I'd worry about if I had a daughter. Actually, I'd only have to worry about it if my daughter was into guys that look like Gaddafi's autopsy photo.

Dont Sleep On This Guy: Andrew Brunette, who has been the most confounding combination of hero and villain in Avalanche history. He's scored huge goals both for and against the good guys, so don't bet against the slow-footed "Bruno" to tap dance on Avs fans hearts tonight.

Fact About The Blackhawks That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Former Blackhawks dimwit Jeremy Roenick, after famously being admonished by Avs goalie Patrick Roy during the 1996 playoffs, had to be convinced that jamming his high school class ring and his wife's engagement ring in his ears was not quite the same thing that Roy had referred to.

Celebrity Prediction: Peter Cetera, former lead singer of Chicago

"The final score for tonight's game will be either 25 or 6 to 4."

Monday, October 17, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Toronto Maple Leafs, 10/17/11

Know The Enemy: Toronto Maple Leafs (3-0-0, 6 pts); beat Calgary 3-2 on Saturday.

Key On This Guy: Former Avs defenseman John-Michael Liles, who looks to join an illustrious group of former Avs defensemen who magically transform into Bobby Orr the first time they line up with the opposition.

Laugh At This Guy: Leafs captain and former Flames star Dion Phaneuf, who can ask Sean Avery to tape his sticks for him any time he goes into a scoring drought.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Former Avs forward Phillipe Dupuis, who may as well be Mario Lemieux tonight based on the Liles Corollary noted above.

Fact About The Maple Leafs That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Leafs GM Brian Burke and coach Ron Wilson were teammates (and roommates) in the 1970s at Blowhard Arrogant Asshole That Nobody Likes University, a small college in Rhode Island.

Celebrity Guest: Bigoted, Cheap, Misogynistic Former Leafs Owner Harold Ballard

"Wait, Kessel is getting paid HOW much? <dies again>"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Montreal Canadiens, 10/15/11

Know The Enemy: Montreal Canadiens (1-2-0, 2 pts); lost to Calgary(!) 4-1 on Thursday.

Key On This Guy: Defenseman PK Subban, one of the most electrifying young players in the entire NHL. You know he's good, because every fanbase in the Eastern Conference hates his guts.

Laugh At This Guy: Grammatically-challenged center Tomas Plekanec, who has been playing an elaborate prank on fans and media alike by making us believe his last name is pronounced "Plekanits". It's actually pronounced "Nets-cash".

Don't Sleep On This Guy: winger Max Pacioretty has come back from being stanchion'd by Bruins' Gargoyle Zdeno Chara late last season to start the season with the Canadiens. Pacioretty has been one of the team's most consistent threats that is taller than 5'2".

Fact About The Canadiens That May Or May Not Be Made Up: The motto painted in the Habs' dressing room is the French "Nos bras meurtris vous tendent le flambeau, à vous toujours de le porter bien haut.". The literal English translation of this motto is "Thank GOD the Nordiques moved right before they got good, and in a show of gratitude, they can have Patrick Roy for a bag of magic beans."

Celebrity Prediction: Yee Sook Ree

"Truly a sight to behold. A franchise beaten. The once great champ, now, a study in moppishness. No longer the victory hungry stallions we've raced so many times before, but a pathetic, washed up, aged ex-champion. Former Nords 3, Montreal 2."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Ottawa Senators, 10/13/11

Know The Enemy: Ottawa Senators (1-2-0, 2 pts); beat Minnesota 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday.

Key On This Guy: Second-year defenseman Erik Karlsson is a slick, puck-moving defenseman in the mold of his teammate, 37 year old Sergei Gonchar, whose skates and stick coincidentally seem to be covered in mold.

Laugh At This Guy: Forget laughing AT Jason Spezza. Let's laugh WITH him.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson, unlike teammate Gonchar, still has some gas left in the tank. Look for "Alfie" to be a difference-maker come playoff time on Sidney Crosby's wing in Pittsburgh.

Fact About The Senators That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Ottawa will debut their alternate "throwback" jerseys tonight: a black uniform featuring a blend of red and cream colored striping with an "O" logo featured on it. The "O" stands for "O MY GOD GONCHAR HAS 2 YEARS AND $10 MILLION LEFT ON HIS CONTRACT???"

Celebrity Prediction: Ambiguously Gay Ottawa Spartan Pre-game Guy

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Columbus Blue Jackets, 10/12/11

Know The Enemy: THE Columbus Blue Jackets (0-3-0, 0 pts); lost to Vancouver 3-2 on Monday.

Key On This Guy: Jackets' captain Rick Nash, the closest thing the NHL has seen to a one-man team for the better part of a decade. Looks like a fratboy, which helps him blend in around town.

Laugh At This Guy: Bait-and-switch victim Jeff "Poo Nanny" Carter, who definitely would have signed the same 11-year contract for reduced money with the Blue Jackets as he did with the Flyers if he was high on drugs and self-loathing.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: The Jackets employee in charge of firing that fake cannon in the arena when the team scores a goal. This guy bangs and gets paid for it every night. Sort of like Jeff Carter, amirite?

Fact About The Blue Jackets That May Or May Not Be Made Up: The young franchise wanted a nickname that reflected the impact the state of Ohio made during the Civil War. The two final candidates were "Blue Jackets" (Ohio produced the navy uniforms worn by Union soldiers), and "Girls That Gave Stonewall Jackson Chlamydia".

Celebrity Prediction: Christopher Columbus

"The word 'Colorado' is a Spanish term that means 'ruddy' or 'red'. You know, 'red', like the skin of the natives in this new land. BURN AND PILLAGE THEM, BOYS. 3-1 JACKETS."


Being an east coaster, I always like to take a road trip or two (or three) every season to see the Avalanche since I don't get the chance to see them regularly out west. I usually get to attend one (or both) of the Columbus games, I'll make it up to Detroit once every couple seasons as well (you can tell which years I went, because their attendance is 28% higher).  The Avs usually have an early east coast road swing every season, and this year is no different. I decided to make the 10+ hour trek to see the Good Guys take on the defending champs in Chowdtown, and as usual, I AM NOT DISAPPOINT. After paying $40 to paaahhhk my caaahhh, I deserved a little satisfaction, right?

One of the most prominent features outside the TD Better Homes And Garden is this bronze statue of the iconic Bobby Orr goal that sent the Bruins to the 1969-70 Stanley Cup championship.  This playful statue is shown here attacking the gentleman in the black shirt and his son. Terrifying scene.

Pictured here is the Bruins 2010-11 Stanley Cup banner. The original version of the banner was much larger and hung nearly to the ice, as it listed the name of every player, every coach, every trainer, the stick boys, season ticket holder names, and all the names on the 2010-11 Canucks roster followed by the words "YOU SUCK" in 188 point font.

The game itself was encouraging. The Bruins were clearly a beat or two off, but it's still the defending champs, and it was in their barn. Semyon Varlamov was the obvious story, as he made three or four spectacular stops when the B's had their best chances, but other players stood out as well. 2008 Octopus Hurling Champion champion Cody McLeod wore the third "A" (Stastny and Hejduk wore the other two as usual) and played a very feisty game, being credited with nine hits and generally being a painful nuisance to the Bruins. Matt Duchene was a threat every time he had the puck on his stick, using quickness to force Boston Gargoyle Zdeno Chara into taking an early penalty, and deftly pretzelling Dennis Seidenberg in front of the B's cage to get a prime scoring chance. Stastny played an intelligent game, and newcomer Jan Hejda played the type of game the Avs had lacked on the blueline last season.  This isn't to say there arent areas that are going to require improvement (Shane O'Brien's defensive play is going to cause me to go into therapy), but my first personal experience with the 2011-12 Avs left me encouraged.

Drink to victory... hopefully the first of many this season!

Monday, October 10, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Boston Bruins, 10/10/11

Know The Enemy: Boston Bruins (1-1-0, 2 pts); defeated Tampa Bay on Saturday night 4-1.

Key On This Guy: Pivot Patrice Bergeron, the B's top two way performer and a concussion survivor.

Laugh At This Guy: Gregory Campbell, Bruins forward and son of former NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell. Just make sure nobody at the league office hears you laughing at him, unless you want to be on the receiving end of a persnickety, vaguely threatening email.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: super sophomore Tyler Seguin, who had a quiet rookie season before he exploded on the scene during the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa, and simultaneously exploded heads all throughout the Toronto Maple Leaf fan base.

Fact About The Bruins That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Cam Neely based his Dumb And Dumber character "Sea Bass" on former Bruins player and coach Mike Milbury, who presented a tough exterior but secretly enjoyed late night encounters in men's room stalls with other NHL GMs.

Celebrity Prediction: Chuckie Sullivan

"If you think ow-ah fackin Hawkey Sawx ah gonna lose to fackin Calarada, you gaht a fackin screw loose. We ah the fackin Stanley fackin Cup champs. Ray Boah-que who??? HAWKEY SAWX 5, AVS 2."

Saturday, October 8, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Detroit Red Wings Presented By Amway, 10/8/11

Know The Enemy: Detroit AmWings (1-0-0, 2 pts); defeated the Ottawa AHL Senators 5-3 last night in their season opener.

Key On This Guy: "Dangling Through The Stars" champion Pavel Datsyuk, who is one of the premiere two-way players in the game today despite having the head-to-body ratio of a ventriloquist's dummy.

Laugh At This Guy: Grinning Idiot Justin Abdelkader, who is likely to spend another year agitating players before realizing his team doesn't have a heavyweight to back up his mouth. Has a taste for glove leather.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Rookie Cory Emmerton, who scored his second career goal in his third NHL game last night, which means he hasn't been wearing the winged wheel long enough for me to find things to really hate about him. Except his stupid rookie face.

Fact About The AmWings That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Amway is not the first official sponsor the Wings have had. In the past, they have been sponsored by Tylenol, lead-based paint, serial killer John Wayne Gacy, and asbestos.

Celebrity Prediction: Each Avs game this season, a MAJOR CELEBRITY will offer words of wisdom regarding the upcoming tilt. To honor tonight's "man of the hour" Peter Forsberg, here instead is an outstanding Youtube tribute to Peter the Great.

How else would an Avs game against Detroit end on Peter Forsberg night? How about a dramatic overtime game-winner from our next Swedish star, Gabriel Landeskog? Sounds good to me.


Poison Pen: 2011-12 olorado Avalan he Q and A

Hey there, Avs fans! Yes, I promised this was going to be an AVS blog, not just another smartass cracking wise at the NHL's easiest targets (Reboundo Luongo, Don Cherry's suits, the irony of BRENDAN SHANAHAN being in charge of disciplining dirty players, etc). Sure, there will be liberal doses of potshots taken at a wide array of other players, officials, executives, organizations, and even bloggers; at the end of the day, however, we know what we're here for. With that in mind, I present to you my preview of OUR 2011-12  olorado Avalan he.  Let's start with a question from the audience:

"Uh, are you using Paul Sheldon's laptop? Where's the 'C's?"

Ah ha. See what I did there? Where's the "C", indeed.  Plenty of "A"s, you'll notice, and it's likely that's what coach Joe Sacco and GM Pierre Lacroix's Ego noticed as well. After all, how else to explain the Avs finding themselves with no captain to begin the season? The team announced they would begin the season with three alternate captains: stealthy vet Milan Hejduk, "future Maple Leaf" Paul Stastny, and Erik "Red Ass" Johnson, with the latter being announced as the third alternate yesterday afternoon. It doesn't do your heart very good to consider that the team's brass doesn't believe there's a player worthy of wearing (or willing to wear) the captain's badge, does it?

Another, over there, dabbing barbecue sauce from your mouth with your Peter Bondra jersey:

"How many points is Nail Yakupov going to throw up there next season with Alex Ovechkin on his line?"

Oooooo. SICK BURN, BRAH. The Caps, of course, traded their ECHL affiliate's backup, the fragile and unworthy Semyon Varlamov, to the Avalanche for the foregone rights to 2012 uberprospect Nail Yakupov, two dates with Mile High Megababe Robin Carlin, the rights to Peter Forsberg's next comeback, and a lifetime supply of Pez. Naturally, the consensus was that Pierre Lacroix's Ego was fleeced badly by wizard-like Caps GM George McPhee. Of course, we need to sit back and see if Varlamov (and UFA pickup JS Giguere) are able to stay healthy; if they are, then the Avs don't need to worry about losing a lottery pick to the Caps, because they will have replaced last year's goaltending buffet o' backups with a potential franchise goalie as well as a solid veteran backup with playoff experience, chops, and a ring with his name on it.

George McPhee, by the way, committed nearly $10 million in cap space to Brooks Laich, Joel Ward, and Troy Brouwer this past summer. We may want to hold off on anointing him the next Sam Pollock.

One last question from the crowd before I make my call on this season for our burgundy and, way in the back there, the little guy with the hopeful look in his eye:

"How's Dutchy gonna do?"

Glad you asked, kid. I hope Avs fans realize how lucky we are to have Matt Duchene to build this franchise around. This kid is bright, talented, and has a passion for the organization and for playing the game. Watching him grow into a leader for this team over the next few years is going to be a real treat. There are going to be less long nights this season than last, but there will be long nights. Those are the games to focus on Duchene, and appreciate watching him grow in front of our eyes. It's not all about the destination, folks. Enjoy the journey.

So, how are they gonna do? So many ifs: IF Varlamov can stay healthy, IF Erik Johnson's desire to prove the Avs right for taking a chance on him drives him to realize his potential, IF Gabriel Landeskog can contribute at this level at the tender age of 18, IF Peter Mueller's late-2010 performance wasn't a fluke...IF. I'll say this...

Two years ago, nobody expected the Avs to be competitive. On opening night, they played Western Conference contender San Jose, and retired the number of a legend: slick Canadian centerman Joe Sakic. That night, the boy who idolized Joe Sakic, a slick 18 year old Canadian centerman named Matt Duchene, made his debut in a 5-3 Avalanche win that propelled the team to a surprising playoff berth. Tonight, the Avs again face a Western Conference contender, Detroit. Tonight, the Avs retire the number of a legend: Swedish power forward Peter Forsberg. Tonight, the boy who idolized Peter Forsberg, 18 year old Swedish power forward Gabriel Landeskog, makes his debut.

Why not? 7th seed in the West. We'll see you tonight, Detroit. We'll see you in April, too.

Go Avs go.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Poison Pen: Season Preview, Northwest Division

Calgary Flames
2010-11 Lazy Review: The Flames got off to a putrid start and never recovered, despite coach Brent Sutter's constant exhortations of "HEEEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYY YOOOOOOOOUUUUUU GUUUUYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYS!!!!!!"

2011-12 Gut Reaction: <muffled giggling>

2011-12 Informed Reaction: <not even trying to hide the giggling>

2011-12 Prediction: Flames fans need to spend some time getting familiar with their blue-collar, lightly-skilled team, since they all have 7-year contracts and no-movement clauses and will be around for quite a long time.

Colorado Avalanche
2010-11 Lazy Review: A true Jeckyll-and-Hide-your-eyes team, the young Avs battled injuries and cheapskate ownership as I battled alcoholism.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: "So wait, Peter Budaj is in Montreal and Brian LOLiott is in St Louis? I LOVE OUR GOALTENDING! Who did we get to replace them?"

2011-12 Informed Reaction: I'll be providing a more in-depth look at the Avs on Friday, and the words "can it really get any worse?" will figure in prominently.

2011-12 Prediction: Avs rookie stud Gabriel Landeskog will prove himself worthy of the roster spot he's earned coming out of training camp, and will provide leadership to his new teammates, most of whom are two or three years younger than he is.

Edmonton Oilers
2010-11 Lazy Review: The Oilers struggled to another last place overall finish, and earned the right to the first selection in the entry draft. Once again, the Oilers provided the comic relief as they went to the podium and announced they were using that pick to select center Wayne Gretzky of the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: Edmonton's dynamic young core, led by snipers Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, will be entertaining to watch. Also entertaining to watch: Edmonton fans in the stands, as they start layering on long underwear, sweaters, coats, hats, gloves, and boots, midway through the first period in anticipation of having to walk back to their cars at the end of the game.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: "Last six guys that show up to the rink play defense tonight, fellas!"

2011-12 Prediction: Oilers' equipment manager Jeff Lang will run out of jersey nameplate materal by mid-November.

Minnesota Wild
2010-11 Lazy Review: The Wild did a bunch of stuff. Played in some games, probably? I'm sure they won some of them. Come to think of it, I dont remember seeing any highlights. Wait, they're still in the league, right?

2011-12 Gut Reaction: Minnesota comes into the new season after an offseason makeover that saw them trade their two best players to San Jose in exchange for the Sharks' sixth and seventh best players. Shrewd.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: The Wild expect 2003 Motorist Of The Year Dany Heatley to reinvigorate his career riding shotgun to Wild captain Mikko Koivu: a fine player, but not the premiere setup man in the league that Heatley played with in San Jose.

2011-12 Prediction: The sight of 18,000 fans in the Xcel Energy Center who are actually excited to see the Wild play will amaze me every single time I see it. Approximately 5 minutes later, I'll be asleep.

Vancouver Canucks
2010-11 Lazy Review: The Canucks rewarded their long-suffering fans with a team they could be proud of.  Of course, pride is all relative, as the players they're proud of are ne'er-do-wells like Alex Burrows, Maxim Lapierre, Kevin Bieksa, and approximately 72% of the rest of the grinning, smirking assholes in the NHL.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: Vancouver returns most of the key players from their Stanley Cup finalist team, including scoring sensations Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Selke candidate Ryan Kesler, and goaltender Roberto Luong...gah...gasp...ggggghhhhhhhhhh <turns blue>

2011-12 Informed Reaction: The Nucks figure to be one of two or three teams that have the ability to come out of the competitive Western Conference, along with the Sharks, Kings, and Blackhawks OMIGOD PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEEEEEEASE LET SOMEBODY ELSE BEAT THE BLACKHAWKS.

2011-12 Prediction: Alex Burrows suffers a season-ending tongue injury in December, leading GM Mike Gillis to stroll behind Rogers Arena and pick another asshole off the Canucks' fruitful Asshole Tree. Past harvests have included Gino Odjick, Todd Bertuzzi, Jarkko Ruutu, and Matt Cooke.

Poison Pen: Season Preview, Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks
2010-11 Lazy Review: The 2009-10 defending champions succumbed to the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover. Actually, the 6 or 7 players that remained from that championship roster suffered from it, but you get my point.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: The Hawks reloaded some after a year in salary cap hell, adding quality depth up front in Andrew Brunette, regular depth up front in Jamal Mayers, and Fingerbangin' Daddy's Little Girl depth up front in Daniel Carcillo.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: A weakened Chicago squad pushed perennial playoff bitch Vancouver to a sphincter-tightening Round 1, 7th game overtime period before succumbing. The Hawks combine a superior mix of good coaching, veteran talent, and championship experience with the firm knowledge that they can make the defending conference champions shart in their breezers at will.

2011-12 Prediction: Patrick Kane realizes the ironic mullet/stripes combo is sooooooo 2010, and brings back the rat-tail for the playoffs.

Columbus Blue Jackets
2010-11 Lazy Review: The Jackets introduced a spiffy new alternate jersey, going with an innovative blend of navy blue and powder blue, along with a circular logo featuring a cannon. This marked the first time the NHL had seen a  navy/powder blue jersey with a circular logo introduced in nearly three days.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: The Jeff Carter era in Columbus got off to a tremendous start, as the newly acquired star spent approximately two weeks convincing himself that no, this isn't part of some elaborate practical joke designed to make him cry his own tears.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: Columbus hopes the addition of Jeff Carter, in tandem with franchise winger Rick Nash, will give the team the coolest sounding crime-fighting duo name in the NHL. My guess: Carter is the badass, Nash is the sensitive one.

2011-12 Prediction: RJ Umberger will try to escape the five year contract extension he signed with the team this offseason, using the "I went to Ohio State, I never even learned to count to five" defense.

Detroit Red Wings Presented By Amway
2010-11 Lazy Review: "Hockeytown"s finest once again demonstrated their commitment to sharing and fair play by graciously allowing themselves to be gutted by San Jose in the second round for the 2nd season in a row.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: The AmWings spent a tumultuous offseason saying goodbye to surefire Hall Of Famers Kris "Look At My Face" Draper and Chris Osgood, and replacing them with surefire Hall Of Famers Fabian Brunnstrom and Ty Conklin.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: Hall Of Fame GM Ken Holland and Hall Of Fame coach Mike Babcock will again lean heavily on aging robot Nick Lidstrom and Hall Of Fame late-round draft picks Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk to carry a team loaded with Hall Of Fame underachievers like soft-hearted Jiri Hudler, future KHL allstar Valtteri Filppula, and horsefaced china doll Johan Franzen.

2011-12 Prediction: I will get at least 5 angry, semi-literate emails from Detroit fans who took their fingers out of their mouths long enough to bang out angry missives explaining why their team's sellout to Amway will help them build a new arena somewhere in Rochester Hills.

Nashville Predators
2010-11 Lazy Review: After spending the past five seasons as the NHL's darling "Little Engine That Could Not Escape The First Round Of The Playoffs", the Predators finally broke through the glass ceiling and won a round. The organization decided to celebrate by blinding the rest of the league with lemon-colored jerseys.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: Did you know that Shea Weber is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season? Did you know that? Because there are 29 other NHL GMs with napkins tied around their necks who know that.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: Preds GM David Poile has figured out the formula to remain competitive without having to overspend: draft nothing but defensemen, scour European leagues for mutant goaltenders with names that sound like sauna farts, and employ a head coach that looks like an adorable (if not gruff) nesting doll.

2011-12 Prediction: Nashville will shake up their struggling team with a mid-season trade, dealing defenseman Ryan Suter to the New York Islanders for a package of players who hate country music and just don't know it yet.

St. Louis Blues
2010-11 Lazy Review: The Blues reminded the rest of the NHL that they still exist with a blockbuster trade, sending former first overall draft pick Erik Johnson to Colorado for a package including Chris Goddam Stewart and shifty puck-moving blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: St Louis projects to be a frisky opponent on any given evening, provided their talented-but-scatterbrained young players like TJ Oshie are focused on playing the game, rather than shiny objects hanging from the rafters.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: The Note has the potential to be a playoff party crasher this season. The team has been patient with young studs like defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and forward Oshie, and could see that patience rewarded once the organization hires a head coach to replace the pretty rock they've secretly placed behind the bench hoping nobody would notice.

2011-12 Prediction: The Blues and Avalanche will again find themselves talking major trade, this time with St. Louis sending their iconic arch to Denver for an 8.6 mile stretch of the Rocky Mountains.

Poison Pen: Season Preview, Pacific Division

Anaheim Ducks
2010-11 Lazy Review: Anaheim battled its way into the playoffs behind Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry, strapping center Ryan Getzlaf, rookie sensation Cam Fowler, and dizzy goalie Jonas Hiller.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: With Mark Recchi's retirement, Getzlaf tries to fill his shoes as the NHL's premiere "Please, just shave your friggin head and be done with it already" star player.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: The Ducks will again be in a tightly contested hunt for a playoff berth, but are the clear favorites to win the "Soap Opera Character or NHL Player?" game, with rostered players named Luca Sbisa, Emerson Etem, Andrew Cogliano, and Francois Beauchemin.

2011-12 Prediction: Teemu Selanne will celebrate his first trip back to Winnipeg by scoring a goal, tossing his glove up in the air, pretending to shoot it down with his stick, then having sex with the mayor's wife.

Dallas Stars
2010-11 Lazy Review: The Stars wrapped up their 19th year in Texas with a soul-crushing loss in their former home state of Minnesota that knocked Dallas out of playoff contention. Elated Minnesotans celebrated by being very polite and Nordic-looking.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: After several harrowing years of financial tightrope-walking, the Stars have emerged from bankruptcy with a new owner, Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi. Gaglardi has immediately declared his hometown Canucks as the team he'd like to model the Stars after, and will be signing as many smirking assholes as he can fit on the roster.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: The Stars won't be the most interesting team to follow, but a game to watch will be when they will renew their inexplicable feud with the Bruins on December 31 in Dallas. Watch as Jack Edwards has a little too much champagne and tries to kiss Darryl Reaugh at midnight while a simmering Ralph Strangis fumes in the corner.

2011-12 Prediction: The Stars will be forced to trade captain Brendan Morrow and promising young stars Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn when it's discovered a clerical error caused Mike Modano's one-day "retirement" contract to be registered as a $99,999,999 cap hit.

Los Angeles Kings
2010-11 Lazy Review: The Kings finally rounded into form as a legitimate postseason threat. Of course, by Kings standards, a "legitimate postseason threat" is defined as "being a mildly inconvenient first round speedbump for a real team".

2011-12 Gut Reaction: GM Dean Lombardi went about tweaking his roster with the acquisition of former Flyers captain Mike Richards, and tweaking his franchise defenseman Drew Doughty over a lousy $200,000 per season. Gotta save your pennies for Matt Greene.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: The Kings eliminated purple from their uniforms this season, opting for a sleek silver and black palette that will make the Kings players the envy of all the other golfers in May.

2011-12 Prediction: Los Angeles takes advantage of the NBA lockout to make a splash by signing Lakers star Kobe Bryant to replace head coach Interchangeable, Unsuccessful Murray.

Phoenix Coyotes
2010-11 Lazy Review: The Coyotes defied the odds and exceeded the expectations of fans, pundits, and critics alike by continuing to exist.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: The loss of unorthodox goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will be mitigated by head coach Dave Tippett's sound defensive system, emerging shutdown center Martin Hanzal, and the relative batshittiness of everybody else affected adversely by the dry heat of the desert.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: Once again, the Coyotes will only go as far as everybody else's money, time, and resources take them.

2011-12 Prediction: The Coyotes' October 15th matchup with the Winnipeg Jets will confuse the bloody hell out of a group of time travelers from the year 1997.

San Jose Sharks
2010-11 Lazy Review: San Jose was able to reach game 5 of the Western Conference final one year after being swept in the same round by the Blackhawks, which puts them on pace to finally win a conference championship by 2014.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: Out: Dany Heatley. In: Martin Havlat. Sick: Ottawa Senators fans.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: The Sharks improved their standing in the Western Conference drastically on the night of the draft, acquiring stud defenseman Brent Burns from Minnesota. Once Burns learns that "playoffs" means "those games that all the other players got to play after my season ended", he will be a key player on the Sharks' blueline come late April and May.

2011-12 Prediction: Joe Thornton will reveal he was hesitant to accept GM Doug Wilson's offer to become the captain of the Sharks because he thought it meant he would have to fight Roy Scheider.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Poison Pen: Season Preview, Northeast Division

Boston Bruins
2010-11 Lazy Review: Zdeno Chara almost killed a guy. Tim Thomas is older than you, better than you. The big silver thing? They won it.

2011-12 Gut Reaction:  Boston hasn't failed to defend a Stanley Cup championship since the 72-73 season. HISTORY IS ON THEIR SIDE.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: The ESPN Magazine curse has already struck down the Red Sox, Tom Brady's hair, and the Celtics' season. Are the Bruins next?

2011-12 Prediction: Unless the Bruins' petition to the league to allow Roberto Luongo to play in goal for whoever they face in the playoffs is somehow granted, the defending champs may be facing an uphill battle as Pittsburgh gets healthier and Washington gets less chokey.

Buffalo Sabres
2010-11 Lazy Review: Ryan Miller and Tyler Myers drove the Sabres' clown car to the playoffs, but were unable to overcome a team of ACTUAL clowns in the first round.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: $ome people con$ider the $abres a$ part of the Ea$tern elite. Most of those people work for and are paid by the Sabres to think nice things about them.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: The big money additions of Christian Eeeehhhh-rhoff and Ville Leino may be enough to propel the Sabres deeper into the postseason this year. Oh wait, they didn't make the first round a best-of-9? Nevermind then.

2011-12 Prediction: Buffalo will once again be that smurftastic team that allows you to use fun terms like "Gerbe" and "Ennis" as cute verbs, but will be pushed around by the Gargamels of the world. Unfortunately, in a conference full of giants, the hamster-like Sabres will be spinning their wheel toward another first round exit.

Montreal Canadiens
2010-11 Lazy Review: Opposing fans hate PK Subban. Home fans hate Carey Price. Despite their first round 7 game loss to the eventual champs, the Habs remain the Bruins' kryptonite, and a team to avoid in April.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: Can you see a team coached by Jacques Martin winning a Stanley Cup? Me neither. (ed. note: stolen from 2010-11 Bruins Gut Reaction; replaced "Claude Julien" with "Jacques Martin".)

2011-12 Informed Reaction: The success or failure of the Habs hinges almost exclusively on Carey Price's fragile ego. If the team starts slowly, does Price start drowning under the expectations of the most needy fan base in hockey?

2011-12 Prediction: Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta, PK Subban, and an injured Andrei Markov are your Eastern Conference Allstar starters after Montreal fans kidnap Stephen Hawking, force him to write an online ballot-stuffing algorithm, and steal his wheelchair for Markov to use.

Ottawa Senators
2010-11 Lazy Review: Nick Foligno (of the hockey playing Folignos) was the team's third leading scorer. He had 34 points in 82 games. Aaaaaand, scene.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: A full season with Craig Anderson in net will provide the Sens with the goaltending stability they've lacked since Percy LeSueur manned the net for the Sens. In 1914.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: Craig Anderson defines "a full season in net" as "all the games that happen before I remember I'm wildly underpaid and underappreciated". So, that's about 25 games.

2011-12 Prediction: Hey, maybe Nikita Filatov will develop into a player who can score thirty FIVE points in 82 games. Maybe?

Toronto Maple Leafs
2010-11 Lazy Review: Once again, a team full of underachieving young players and overpaid declining veterans struggled to produce under the demands of coach Ron Wilson. Oops, my fault: that's the Lazy Review I wrote for the 02-03 San Jose Sharks.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: Much like the Hallowed Ghosts that followed the rival Canadiens from the Forum to the Bell Centre, the Leafs will play in front of Ghosts at the Air Canada Centre. They all seem to sit in the lower bowl.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: The Leafs are counting on last year's rookie goaltending sensation James Reimer to continue developing into a promising young goalie they can eventually use as bait to re-acquire Andrew Raycroft.

2011-12 Prediction: With stars such as Drew Doughty, Evgeni Malkin, Paul Stastny, and Tyler Seguin all having elite seasons, Leafs fans will be very pleased with the progress of the team they thought they could have had if Brian Burke had just listened to them and traded Carl Gunnarsson, Tyler Bozak, the rights to Mike Palmateer, and a 2016 second round pick to acquire them.

Poison Pen: Season Preview, Atlantic Division

New York Islanders
2010-11 Lazy Review: The feisty young Islanders made sure nobody would take them lightly, similar in fashion to the way Paul Kersey made sure street trash would not take HIM lightly.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: A promising group of elite youngsters such as John Tavares, Nino Neiderreiter, and Calvin de Haan will be backstopped by a franchise goaltender, Rick DiPietro.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: The "franchise" I referred to regarding DiPietro is MedExpress.

2011-12 Prediction: Islanders fans suffering through years of relocation talk will take solace when common sense prevails, and everybody realizes that neither Kansas City nor Quebec are islands.

New York Rangers
2010-11 Lazy Review: John Tortorella made f---ing sure his f---ing team was prepared every f---ing night, regardless of what the f---ing media and that a------ Brooksie thinks.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: The Rags once again dove headfirst into the free agent pool and emerged with the most coveted free agent available, What's Left Of Brad Richards.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: While most of the hoopla surrounding the Rangers is for the newly-acquired Richards and overpaid ice-dancer Marian Gaborik, the Blueshirts will rise and fall on their superstar goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, and his backup, Some Guy That Might Play Three Times All Year.

2011-12 Prediction: The new catwalk seating area that hangs over the ice at Madison Square Garden will lead to a spate of season-ending neck and back injuries suffered by gawking players on "Ladies Night".

New Jersey Devils
2010-11 Lazy Review: In hindsight, Lou Lamoriello's title change to "Vice President Of Who Gives A Shit, I'm Out Of Here Whenever Brodeur Quits" should have been a clue.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: A healthy Zach Parise should help the Devils remain competitive enough that they won't get anything in return for Zach Parise when he leaves as an unrestricted free agent next summer.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: 39 year old Martin Brodeur will once again look to handle a workload of 70+ games this season, and the reason definitely won't be because he's desperately trying to pad his stats LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME I HAVE MORE WINS THAN PATRICK ROY WHY WON'T YOU LOVE ME????

2011-12 Prediction: The Devils will once again miss the playoffs, leading Lou Lamoriello to gas new head coach Peter DeBoer at the end of the season and replace him with Ilya Kovalchuk while sneering at Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek.

Philadelphia Flyers
2010-11 Lazy Review: Led by captain Mike Richards and star Jeff Carter, the Flyers claimed their first Cup championship since 1975. Unfortunately for long suffering hockey fans in Philadelphia, the Cup championship was Flip Cup.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: It's a good thing Wayne Simmonds didn't think that a banana being thrown at him meant that idiot in London was calling him a "fruit".

2011-12 Informed Reaction: A healthy Chris Pronger and a motivated Jaromir Jagr give the Flyers an outstanding chance to compete for the 1999 Stanley Cup.

2011-12 Prediction: Newly acquired goaltender/nature lover/eccentric Ilya Bryzgalov will question his decision to sign long-term with the Flyers when he realizes "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" is the name of a TV show, and not a legitimate weather forecast.

Pittsburgh Penguins
2010-11 Lazy Review: Pens head coach Dan Bylsma willed his depleted team to an impressive run, as rising stars like Kris Letang and unheralded youngsters like Mark Letestu and Ben Lovejoy stepped up to the challenge of answering questions about Sidney Crosby's health every single hour of every single day.

2011-12 Gut Reaction: The performance of the Penguins' other superstar, Evgeni Malkin, will be heavily scrutinized by hockey fans everywhere, being that 78 of the team's 82 games will be shown on Versus, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA, MTV, Nickelodeon, or The Home Shopping Network.

2011-12 Informed Reaction: The reality of what separates the Penguins from the other elite contenders will become evident when Sidney Crosby returns to action, and is once again able to use his Medusa-face as a weapon against cowering referees.

2011-12 Prediction: Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will be sorely missed until his return in January, after a three month stint playing on the Steelers' offensive line.