Wednesday, November 30, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: New Jersey Devils, 11/30/11

Know The Enemy: New Jersey Devils (12-9-1, 25 pts); lost 3-2 to the Islanders on Saturday.

Key On This Guy: Criminally underrated Patrik Elias. He never gets the love that teammates Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise do, but Elias has quietly led the Devils with 20 points in 22 games. He always reminded me of his countryman and friend Milan Hejduk, two players who, when retired, people will look at their stats and say "Wow, I never realized they were that productive."

Laugh At This Guy: Chubby dickhead Martin Brodeur, whose selfish insistence on playing 70-75 games per season to pad his lifetime statistics even as his body has broken down due to age has led to hilarious moments such as this:

You can't carry Patrick Roy's jock, pal.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Surprising rookie Adam Henrique, who leads the Devils in game-winning goals so far in 2011. Perhaps even more impressively, Henrique has managed to get away with having a jaunty letter like "Q" in his name under the watchfully tightassed ways of Lou Lamoriello.

Fact About The Devils That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane modeled psychotic infant Stewie Griffin after the Devils dour GM Lamoriello. See for yourself:

Celebrity Prediction: David Puddy, facepainter


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Vancouver Canucks, 11/23/11

Know The Enemy: Vancouver Canucks (10-9-1, 21 pts); beat Ottawa 2-1 in OT on Sunday.

Key On This Guy: If it has a Sedin on the back of it's jersey, kill it with fire. The creepy twins have tortured the NHL in tandem...IN THE REGULAR SEASON. Unfortunately, tonight is the regular season.

Laugh At This Guy: That would be the entire Canucks fanbase. Where Detroit fans are loathsome in a crazy uncle conspiracy-theorist sort of way, Canucks fans are united by their belligerence, undue sense of entitlement, and repeated failure. Watching Canucks fans building themselves up for glory and then falling victim to new and creative ways of blowing it all gives me the same sense of joyful deja vu I get seeing Charlie Brown lining up to kick the football, and watching Lucy yank it away. The only difference is, if Charlie Brown reacted to his inherent victimhood the way Canucks fans do, he'd beat Linus within an inch of his life and torch Snoopy's doghouse. I feel safe making fun of these farm animals, because they can't burn down or smash the windows out of my blog.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Danish dickhead Jannik Hansen, a product of a recent harvest from the Canucks' fertile Asshole Tree. Don't be fooled by his low profile; on any other team, Hansen would be seen as an agitating presence with a demonstrated ability to score timely goals. Hansen flys under the radar in Vancouver  because this Canucks squad is the 1927 Yankees of Jerkoff-itude.

Fact About The Canucks That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Former Canucks bench boss Roger Neilson is given credit for "inventing" the waving of white towels in the playoffs after a tantrum thrown during a series with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1982. Not to be outdone, another former Canucks head coach, Marc Crawford, invented the "idiot coach jumps around barking and clapping like a seal" maneuver.

Celebrity Prediction: A Giant Ass

"Are you kidding me? Gotta go with my favorite team! Canucks 4, Avs 0!"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: San Jose Sharks, 11/20/11

Know The Enemy: San Jose Sharks (11-5-1, 23 pts); beat Dallas 4-1 last night.

Key On This Guy: Avs-killer Joe Pavelski, who in the time it took me to write this sentence has scored two game winning goals and fucked Joe Sacco's wife. One year, I dressed as Joe Pavelski for Halloween. I looked terrifying.

Laugh At This Guy: Ye olde Ryane Clowe, a fine chap to have the pint of ale with before the derby. Seriously, jackoff, spell your goddam name right. PS: please don't kill anybody tonight.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Sharks leader Bernardo, who is handy with a switchblade and is definitely NOT someone to trifle with. This fulfills my obligatory West Side Story reference, which means I don't have to do one for the Jets primer.

Fact About The Sharks That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Sharks GM Doug Wilson had to overcome a major obstacle during his efforts to acquire star center Joe Thornton in late 2005: his inability to get the words "Wayne Primeau", "Marco Sturm", "Brad Stuart", and "THAT'S IT????" out of his mouth without having paralyzing fits of laughter.

Celebrity Prediction: Andy Samberg, host of Shark Week 2011

"Uh, I'm not Andy Samberg. Although I've played the same number of NHL games as him since January 6th. Try again."

"Really dude? Another lookalike joke? Didn't you JUST do one of these this week? Sharks 4, Avs 0."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Minnesota Wild, 11/17/11

Know The Enemy: Minnesota Wild (10-5-3, 23 pts); beat Columbus 4-2 on Tuesday.

Key On This Guy: Hmm. Let me think about this for a second. Marian Gaborik doesn't play for Minnesota anymore, right? Wow. Okay, lets think harder. Well, Dany Heatley plays there,'s not 2003 anymore. Sigh. Alright, let's look at the stat sheet to see who's the leading scorer...

...and it's Matt Cullen. Jesus Christ. Wild fans, really? Matt Cullen? Alright then, I guess Matt Cullen is the guy to key on.

Laugh At This Guy: Dickhead rodeo clown Cal Clutterbuck, widely renowned around the NHL as the biggest chickenshit in the entire league. Nobody had ever even heard of "Buttercup", mainly because he plays for a team with exactly 18,064 fans, until Don Cherry put him on blast on Coach's Corner:

Since then, Clutterbuck has been known by fans for two things: first, his comically inflated hit totals, thanks to the friendly hometown stat-keepers in Minny, and second, for being the only Wild player that anybody can name.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: ersatz sniper Dany Heatley, because if you DO fall asleep, by the time you wake up he'll already have been traded to another different team.

Fact About The Wild That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Minnesota's original ownership group chose "Wild" as the new club's nickname because they wanted one that was easy for Minnesota's fans to spell. They also considered "Minnesota Egg", "Minnesota Cow", "Minnesota Hurt", and "Minnesota Xyz".

Celebrity Prediction: Minnesota Wild fan Rip Van Winkle


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Pittsburgh Penguins, 11/15/11

Know The Enemy: Pittsburgh Penguins (10-4-3, 23 pts); lost 5-3 to Carolina on Saturday.

Key On This Guy: Force of nature Evgeni Malkin. "Geno" is perhaps the total package, blending size, speed, good hands, and a command of the English language second only to Marlee Matlin.

Laugh At This Guy: Winger James Neal. No, seriously:

Winger...James Neal.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Pig-snouted pest Tyler Kennedy, who uses his physical tools to beat defensemen and stun goaltenders. By "physical tools", I mean "face".  Kennedy is expected to return to the Pittsburgh lineup tonight after being out of the lineup for the past month with a concussion. ONE MONTH. NOT ELEVEN MONTHS. ONE.

Fact About The Penguins That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma is the winningest coach in NHL history whose last name starts with five consonants.

Celebrity Prediction: Satan

"I don't give a shit who wins, I still get Lemieux's soul. We had a deal, re: Crosby. Pens 5, Avs 1."

Saturday, November 12, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY SPECIAL: A Look Back At The Chris Drury Trade

The date: October 1st, 2002. It's about 5:30 PM, and I'm still at work, listening to the local sports radio station. The news jock is doing the half-hour update, the usual local dreck about the Steelers/Pitt football/Penn State football (aside: this is right around the time when...well, you know what), and then this little nugget slips in at the end:
"...and in NHL news, the Colorado Avalanche trade Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle to Calgary for Derek Morris, Dean McAmmond, and Jeff Shantz."

I must qualify that by saying I didn't hear about 70% of what he said, because my brain melted when I heard the words "trade" and "Chris Drury". I can safely assume the radio guy named the other four players, but I'm not sure, because at that point, a large gray fuzzy cloud had settled in my head, the kind that only comes when you get such unexpected and unwelcome news. One of my co-workers was observant enough to glance over at me, and I'm sure the look on my face is what caused him to say "Oh man...oh god, I'm so sorry." I can honestly say that it's one of the three worst moments of my sports fan life.

The only two men in the world more upset about this trade than I was.

I was born in 1977, and I grew up playing baseball, not hockey. I played from age 5 tee-ball all the way into high school, and at one point, baseball was my life. Thus, it's no surprise that I had heard of Chris Drury long before he became a star in the NHL. It was 1989, and a group of kids my own age from Trumbull, Connecticut had shocked the dominant entry from Taiwan in the Little League World Series. I don't need to re-hash the details, because it's been beaten into the ground since then that Chris Drury was the star of that team, and was the winning pitcher in that final game. Drury ended up turning to hockey after a wrist injury derailed his baseball plans, and in 1994 he was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques. This excited me to no end, as I saw a contemporary of mine, a kid I could personally identify with, drafted by my favorite team. Drury went on to star at Boston University, winning the 1998 Hobey Baker award. The 1998-99 season opened with Chris Drury making the Avs roster, a training camp survivor, and it closed with him winning the Calder Trophy. Drury was the first player to win the Hobey Baker award AND the Calder Trophy, and his exploits through his rookie NHL season bore out that this kid was the real deal. Another strong performance in the 1999-2000 season cemented Drury as a part of the Avs future, and the following year he became a Stanley Cup champion. In 2001-02, Drury became a regular alternate captain, and mentally, I had pencilled him in as the next captain whenever Joe Sakic decided to hang up the skates. He was tough, he was talented, he was clutch; in short, he was everything you wanted your next captain to be. When a big goal needed scoring, Avs fans knew Chris Drury was going to be on the ice and more often than not, coming through.

Then came October 1st of 2002. Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle to Calgary for Derek Morris, Dean McAmmond, and Jeff Shantz. Pierre Lacroix and his massive ego decided that the team needed a stud defenseman to fill the hole that Ray Bourque's retirement had left, despite already having two stars on the blueline in Rob Blake and Adam Foote, in tandem with the solid Greg deVries and young Martin Skoula (who we didn't completely realize at the time was a black hole of suck). Now in fairness, Derek Morris played extremely well for Colorado, scoring 11 goals and notching 48 points in that first season, and played a smart, physical game besides. I liked Derek Morris as an Av, and I always wished him well when he left. Dean McAmmond was a place-filler (despite a two goal, first star of the game effort in a game against Pittsburgh, which always earns brownie points with me) before being moved back to Calgary later in that same season. Jeff Shantz was the first Colorado Avalanche player that I actively disliked, and Clark Griswold articulates my feelings about Jeff Shantz better than I ever could. The loss of Stephane Yelle proved a tough one to overcome, as he went to Calgary and was a valuable, dependable checker and penalty-killer for several good Flames teams in the subsequent years. For me though, it keeps coming back to Chris Drury. Drury spent one unhappy season in Calgary before being traded again, this time to Buffalo, where he spent three productive years, leading the Sabres to a President's Trophy and consecutive Eastern Conference Final appearances. He signed a massive contract with the New York Rangers, his boyhood team, and spent the remaining years of his career being underappreciated by the typically-lunatic Rangers fans before retiring this past offseason, rather than trying to hang on elsewhere.

There have been many players that have come and gone from the Avs over the years since the trade. Legends like Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic retired after Hall Of Fame careers. Rob Blake left via free agency. Adam Foote and Peter Forsberg, despite eventually returning to the Avs, were forced elsewhere after the 2004-05 lockout, and were never quite the same players. All that being said, October 1st of 2002 was the beginning of the end for the mini-dynasty the Avs had created since moving from Quebec in 1995. With Drury, the team had gone to the conference finals four consecutive times, and won a Stanley Cup. Without him, the team hasn't been out of the second round since, and their record in the second round is 2-12. I keep thinking about all the blown chances and missed opportunities: games 6 and 7 against Minnesota in 2003, both overtime losses; a 1-0 Game 3 loss to the Sharks in 2004 that could have kept the Avs in that series, an overtime loss in Game 3 to the Ducks in 2006 under similar circumstances. Chris Drury lived for those situations, came through time and again for Colorado, and Pierre Lacroix threw it away chasing after something he ended up not getting anyway. After the trade, I remember the words of John Buccigross: "Chris Drury is a leader and a winner. You don't trade a leader and a winner." He couldn't have been more right.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: New York Islanders, 11/10/11

Know The Enemy: New York Islanders (4-6-2, 10 pts); lost to Boston 6-2 on Monday.

Key On This Guy: Up-and-coming John Tavares, the top overall pick in the 2009 entry draft, off to a hot start with 8 goals in the Isles' first 12 games. One of the youngest alternate captains in the league, Tavares has been doing an admirable job as a young leader, even managing to bond with Rick DiPietro despite the restraining order taken out by Garth Snow forcing the accident-prone DiPietro to stay at least 1000 feet away from Tavares at all times.

Laugh At This Guy: The unfortunately-named PA Parenteau, who has spent the better part of the last week having to explain it's "Parenteau", not "Paterno", and no, no relation, no seriously I dont even know the guy and GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY FRONT YARD.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Disappointing Josh Bailey, at one time the top Islander prospect, who has one lousy assist in 12 games and therefore is the exact type of player that will drop a 2-1-3 +3 on the Avs tonight because thats just how it works and explains very well why my eyelid twitches all the time.

Fact About The Islanders That May Or May Not Be Made Up: The "final piece of the championship puzzle" for the Islanders dynasty teams of the early 80s was jack-of-all-trades Butch Goring, acquired from the Los Angeles Kings, and known for wearing a helmet made out of blue peat moss. While Goring proved to be the player that got the Isles over the hump, GM Bill Torrey was forced to settle for Goring after trying to acquire players with tougher sounding names than "Butch Goring", including North Stars defenseman Jake Jackhammer, Blackhawks right wing Big Terry Rockfucker, and Winnipeg center Hammer "The Bulldog" 69man.

Celebrity Prediction: Islanders 1992 honorary captain, Ralph Macchio

"Think if Mr Miyagi and I switched places with Charles Wang and Rick DiPietro, anyone would notice? Islanders 3, Avs 2."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY SPECIAL: Poison Pen Presents a Hater's Guide To The Detroit AmWings

As a fan of a team involved in a lapsed rivalry, sometimes it's easy to forget why you ever hated your rival in the first place. Years pass, the names of the backs of the sweaters change, new rivals emerge. Some rivals, however, will always have a place in your black little heart; their words forever spoken with a forked tongue, their misdeeds numerous and appropriately grievous. I present to you, along with their spiffy new OFFICIAL SPONSOR, AMWAY, tonight's opponent, the Detroit Red Wings.

How did we get here?  Oh sure, everybody points to Kris Draper's facial reconstruction as the catalyst for the Avs/Wings bloody war of the late 90s. It dovetails nicely with the lazy "CLAUDE LEMIEUX IZ A CHEAPSHOT ARTIST!!!11!!1!!1!!!" narrative, doesn't it? That's why we don't remember the actual genesis of the bad blood: Slava Kozlov going all WWF turnbuckle with Adam Foote's head during game 3 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals.

Shocking video proof! This actually happened. Doesn't jive well with the official "Hockeytown" version of the story, does it? So, as any honorable man would do, Claude Lemieux went out and evened the score with a nice little how-do-you-do to Kozlov, perhaps to remind Kozlov that you don't do that to a teammate of CLAUDE FUCKING LEMIEUX. Oh, and then the Draper thing. Draper was ugly anyway.

March 26, 1997. Yeah, we remember that too. We remember all the mousy Detroit players playing with their tails tucked between their legs (plenty of extra space there that other men don't have, you'll note) during the matchups played in Denver prior to March 26th. Somehow, the mild-mannered, well-behaved Red Wings magically turned into...cheapshot artists? No, of course not. When the Red Wings do it, it's REVENGE, right? And revenge is what they got, as Darren "8-ball" McCarty suckerpunched Claude Lemieux from behind, Mike Vernon gashed Patrick Roy with a buckle from his goalie equipment, and Detroit scored a 6-5 overtime win on a McCarty goal. Wait, did you say McCarty scored the goal? What was he still doing in the game after being involved in a fight that featured him suckerpunching his opponent? What was he still doing in the game, indeed.

What's with the tinfoil hats?
Jokes circulate hockey blogs regarding Detroit fans and their built-in persecution complex. The commissioner is out to get them, TV analysts are out to get them, referees are out to get them, fans of other teams don't respect them.

What's outstanding is the fact that the Red Wings get more sloppy lubbins than any team in the NHL from the referees. For years, Detroit's patented "pick" plays have been allowed, regardless of the fact that "pick" plays are what 29 other teams get penalized for under the term "interference". It's a trend that began under legendary Detroit sourpuss "Cheapshot Scott" Bowman, who held sway over referees like no other coach in NHL history. Somewhat inexplicably, it's continued under the reign of Kermit The Frog soundalike Mike Babcock. In addition to these "pick" plays, can we think of anything else Detroit routinely gets away with that no other team in the league does? Hmm, let's think really hard here...

"Do you have any idea how hard it is to skate with a goalie growing out of my asshole?"

Why yes, it's our longtime friend, the least-talented player in the NHL, ratfaced little Tommy Holmstrom. The next time you see the Red Wings, make sure you pay attention to number 96. He's easy to find: he skates directly to the opposing goal and stands there like he's frozen in carbonite, just waiting for a puck to bounce off of him and past the impeded goaltender. Detroit fans, naturally, don't see it this way. Detroit fans see it as "Homer" doing his job. Just for shits n' gigs, ask a Detroit fan their opinion of Ryan Smyth or Corey Perry. Then, bottle that opinion and label it "Hypocrisy Concentrate". Listening to a Detroit fan bitching about the 5 or 6 times a year "Homer" DOES get nailed for goaltender interference is the same as listening to the rich kid bitching about having his Mercedes taken away for the weekend.

Speaking of rampant Detroit hypocrisy...

KRONWALLED! That's right, "Macho Man" Niklas Kronwall and his "legal" flying elbows/charges. Of course, Kronwall isn't unique. He's just following in the footsteps of another Detroit thug, Vladimir Karma-ntinov.

"Hockeytown! Mr Hockey played here, so this must be HOCKEYTOWN! Let's paint it in the middle of our ice so everybody knows this is a Town of Hockey! Paint it REAL BIG, in REAL BIG BLACK LETTERS, even paint it OVER TOP OF OUR LOGO! Make it REALLY REALLY NOTICEABLE to viewers at home, and maybe nobody will notice that 60% of the visible seats in the building are empty!"

I could keep going very easily. I could fill up 90 inches of valuable interwebs detailing my disdain for everything about this franchise, the organization, the players. But I won't. Don't need to. If you're an Avs fan and you're reading this, you probably have 50 things of your own that you loathe about this whining pack of hypocritical dogs. Every now and then, though, it's nice to reaffirm to ourselves that the disgust we developed over a simmering 6-8 years was not without merit.

And dare I say, fun? We'll see you on the other side of your impending rebuild, you bitches.

Friday, November 4, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Dallas Stars, 11/4/11

Know The Enemy: Dallas Stars (8-3-0, 16 pts); beat New Jersey 3-1 last Saturday (seriously, great job NHL schedule makers)

Key On This Guy: Leading scorer Jamie Benn, who is developing into a fine young player, and seems destined to be someone who, 30 years from now when you're reading the record books, you'll say "Wait, WHO was their leading scorer? Wow, really? What the fuck ever happened to that guy?" about.

Laugh At This Guy: Marc Anthony lookalike Mike Ribeiro, known pantywaist, and this will never not be funny. Bob McKenzie's comment is McCarver-ian in its insight.

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Sniper Loui Eriksson, a direct descendant of Leif Ericson, who is regarded as the first European to set foot in North America. Sabres fans reading this, replace "Leif Ericson" with "Brett Hull", replace "first European" with "Dallas Star", replace "North America" with "the goal crea..." know what, nevermind. Sorry Sabres fans*.

* - ed note: I'm not really sorry.

Fact About The Stars That May Or May Not Be Made Up: When Norm Green (SUCKS) moved the Minnesota North Stars to Dallas in 1993, his original intent was to rename the team the Dallas South Stars. When he found out that "South Stars" was the name of a seedy strip club in Dallas notorious for drug abuse, rape, and shady activity, he decided to rename the team the Dallas Cowboys. To his surprise, he discovered that "Cowboys" was also taken, by a football team in Dallas notorious for drug abuse, rape, and shady activity.

Celebrity Prediction: Bambi Woods, star of "Debbie Does Dallas"

"I see a tense, tight game, where offensive thrusts are countered slickly by filling gaps and pushing harder until one side penetrates the zone and slides it in the wide open cage harder and harder and and AND AND OMIGOD...AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH DALLAS WINS 4-1"

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

AVS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Phoenix Coyotes, 11/2/11

Know The Enemy: Phoenix Coyotes (5-3-2, 12 pts); beat Los Angeles 3-2 in OT on Saturday.

Key On This Guy: Coyotes leading scorer Ray Whitney, who had scored goals in three consecutive games prior to Saturday's win over the Kings. The wizened Whitney has always struggled against the Kings, dating back to his unsuccessful attempts to overthrow Charlemagne.

Laugh At This Guy: Internet Enforcer Paul Bissonnette, prolific tweeter and alleged porn star wrecker. "Biz Nasty" has carved out an entertaining niche for himself, tweeting verbal blumpkins from the can, which he refers to as "twooping".

Don't Sleep On This Guy: Underrated Martin Hanzal, one of the most efficient defensive forwards in the NHL. Hanzal also has a developing offensive arsenal, and if he had played on a team that anybody actually paid attention to, would be compared favorably to Penguins pterodactyl-on-ice Jordan Staal.

Fact About The Coyotes That May Or May Not Be Made Up: Before placing their new arena in the suburb of Glendale, the former Coyotes ownership group led by Steve Ellman searched for a site located closer to and more convenient to downtown Phoenix. A list of these sites includes Las Cruces, New Mexico; the site of the former Koresh Compound in Waco, Texas; the inside of a dormant volcano in Oahu, Hawaii; and New Zealand.

Celebrity Prediction: Wile E. Coyote

Oops, sorry...that's his prediction for the fate of the franchise in Glendale.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

POISON PEN: Month In Review, October

Record In October: 7-4-0, 14 pts (Overall 7-4-0, 14 pts)

The Good: Colorado's third line was touted by no less a source than penis-shaped TV blowhard Regis "Pierre" McGuire as the best in the NHL. Daniel Winnik, Ryan O'Reilly, and rookie Gabriel Landeskog are a formidable threesome that have dominated the opposition in the offensive zone with strong cycling and intelligent spot-picking with their shots on goal. O'Reilly in particular has been impressive, winning nearly 61% of his faceoffs, many in key situations. A revamped defense and drastic upgrade in goal has paid dividends, as well. New goaltending tandem Not Peter Budaj and Not Brian Elliott have combined to provide an actual barrier between wide-eyed shooters and the gaping net that last season so often welcomed pucks like a pushover party host. In addition, defensive acquisition Jan Hejda has not been Matt Hunwick, which is a nice change of pace from Matt Hunwick, who WAS Matt Hunwick. Ryan Wilson leads the squad at a +7.

The Bad: The Avs play at home has been lacking, losing their first three games at Pepsi Center before finally getting their first W against Los Angeles on Sunday. Defenseman Erik Johnson has been an able quarterback on the power play, but has yet to register a goal, and has thrown up a dash 7 on the plus/minus while occasionally making questionable decisions with the puck. Fellow blueliner Shane O'Brien gets points for battling Oiler rat fink Andy Sutton for Sutton's elbow to the head of Gabriel Landeskog, but he's taken several cringe-worthy penalties. TJ Galiardi still has his own key to Joe Sacco's Chateau Bow-wow, and not undeservedly.

The Ugly: Jesus Christ do I hate to do this...but until Sunday's win over the Kings, Matt Duchene has been spinning his wheels. He's been all over the ice and involved, but hasn't been producing. In all fairness, he's been saddled with sketchy linemates, but Dutchy has also not been able to take advantage of the chances he has gotten. He's a slow starter, it seems, but for a kid who really seems to get down on himself when he struggles, it's important that he snap out of his funk sooner, rather than later.

Oh, and that opening night 3-0 shutout loss to the Detroit Red Wings Presented By Amway was also Presented By Baskin Robbins, as it sucked 31 flavors of balls.

October MVP: Tight one, as it's tempting to give this to rookie viking Landeskog or his running mate, Ryan O'Reilly, but October's co-MVPs are the goaltending tandem of Semyon Varlamov and JS Giguere. I'm not a stats guy to begin with, and this is one instance where stats aren't as important as the eye test. This is a team that had no confidence in its goaltending last season, and you could see the entire squad sag after a weak goal against. This year is different, as the Avs seem to have much more trust in their goalie duo, and as a result have been able to play with more confidence and aggression, without having to worry constantly about the result of a rush going the other way ending up in the back of the net.

NHL Vittles: Take your time coming back, Sidney Crosby. Skip a few more games, maybe don't come back until after November 15th...Andy Sutton, expert piece of shit...Flyers captain Chris Pronger nearly lost an eye after an accidental high stick from Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski. Had it been against the Blackhawks, I would have expected Patrick Kane to skate over, pick up the eye, and throw it away after the game...Defending Stanley Cup champion Boston has struggled mightily out of the gate, only winning three of their first ten games. In all fairness, they lost the first 6 of those games because their lengthy opening night ceremony didn't end until October 19...Toronto sniper Phil Kessel started off the season with a bang, putting up 10 goals and 18 points in the first month. This is in sharp contrast with last year's All Star Draft, which Kessel almost ended with a bang until an alert Jonathan Toews wrestled the gun away from the embarrassed Leafs forward...the AmWings started out 5-0, but have now lost four straight after being ground into a fine paste by Washington to the tune of 7-1. I know they're old, but are they already spent after nine games? If there's a God...Welcome back, Winnipeg.