Friday, September 10, 2010

2010-2011 Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton has enough problems without me tossing a cute line at them.
The most underrated player in the NHL
Previous Year's Team Stats

27 wins, 47 losses, 8 OTL, 62 points, 30th overall in the league.

Team Analysis

It's been a bizarre odyssey in the City of Champions as the Oilers have become the Charlie Browniest team in recent memory. The Oilers have largely in the basement since a miracle run to the finals in 2006. The wheels on the bus finally came off last season as antiquated relic Pat Quinn was dragged out of a local bar to coach the team in a bizarre tandem coaching deal with former Ranger head coach Tom Renney named as "associate" coach. The team finished last place in the league when encountering long-term injuries to several core players. However the night is darkest just before dawn and the Oilers finishing with the first overall pick last season hopefully signals a new day approaching in Edmonton. The Oilers are entering this season with a lot of positives going for it. The youth movement in Edmonton is starting to bear fruit with several promising prospects due to make their debut for the Oilers this season. This will be another season of hard knocks for the Oilers however it will be an entertaining one as a couple of future superstars take their steps in the NHL.

Leading the youth movement is hockey prodigy Taylor Hall who was the 2010 first overall pick. Hall has been labeled as a future superstar since he was 15 (I remember Don Cherry saying Hall was going first overall when he was 16) and looks to be the next great teenage hockey god to enter the league. Taylor Hall already has a world-class skill set and it will be interesting to watch him mature from game one to game 82. Some hockey pundits are even more excited for the debut of former 10th overall pick Swedish winger Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson. Paajarvi has a game likened to that of future hall of famer Jaromir Jagr and will debut this season in Edmonton after spending last year in the SEL. Jordan Eberle has already become one of the most accomplished international players in the world before legally being able to drink. The former Regina Pats' star has been praised for his vision and his ability to rise to the occasion in big games. Eberle will likely debut on the right wing for the Oilers this season.

The one good thing about the Oilers' campaign last season was the emergence of power forward Dustin Penner who's the most underrated player in the league right now. Penner was scoring two points a game and was arguably the best player in the game for the first quarter of the season. However his linemate Ales Hemsky suffered a season ending injury around the quarter mark which caused Penner to cool off. However the big man finished the season strong as the team's leading scorer. Ales Hemsky has developed into one of the finest playmakers in the NHL since being drafted in 2001 and has been the catalyst for Edmonton's offense for the last few years. Hemsky suffered a season ending injury last year after only 22 games but Hemsky will be entering this season healthy. Another key member of the youth movement is 21-year old former sixth overall pick Sam Gagner who already has three seasons in the NHL under his belt. Gagner has shown flashes of brilliance on largely woeful Edmonton squads and is being penciled as the future first line center of the Oilers. Look for Gagner to center a kid's line in Edmonton this season.

The 23-year old Gilbert Brule has had a rocky NHL career being drafted sixth overall with much fanfare by the Columbus Blue Jackets. However Brule had some issues adapting to professional hockey while having his development mismanaged by the Blue Jackets. Brule was traded to Edmonton for a much needed change of scenery and had to start over in the Oilers organization. However Brule has slowly developed putting his first respectable season in the NHL together last year while showing the flashes of brilliance that made him such a coveted prospect. Brule also found excellent chemistry with Penner until the duo was inexplicably broken up after about 15 games. Look for the bust jokes to end about Brule this season as he solidifies himself in the Oilers top nine. Likely competing for top six minutes at center with Brule will be the worst player in the NHL Shawn Horcoff who was awarded one of the fattest contracts in the NHL after the miracle run in 2006. Horcoff is a fair top six center, however his game imploded last season with 36 points and a -29 rating in 77 games. Despite being the Oilers' highest paid player signed for another four years look for Horcoff to begin falling down the depth chart this season. Yet another member of the youth movement in Edmonton is 23-year old former 25th overall pick Andrew Cogliano who's been praised as the fastest skater in the NHL. There's been some whispers in the past that Cogliano could be moved sometime in the near future as he's slowly becoming redundant in Edmonton and has regressed offensively each year since his impressive rookie debut. 

Filling out the offensive core this season will be depth power forward Ryan Jones who the Oilers acquired off of waivers last season. Heavyweight punching bag Zack Stortini put together a very respectable season for a pugilist last season and will again see a significant amount of games on the fourth line this year. The Oilers also traded for defensive center Colin Fraser sending a sixth round pick to Chicago for his services this season. Gritty banger Jean-Francois Jacques will also see a significant number of games for the Oilers this season. 

The Oilers have fallen pray to a series of ridiculous media driven dramas that this organization just can't seem to shake. One of most recent ones is marquee defenseman Sheldon Souray throwing a temper tantrum bad mouthing the team in the press this off-season and demanding a trade. Unfortunately for both parties, Souray's injury history, huge contract, and public displays of affection towards his employers have dissuaded any potential suitors for his services. At the time of this writing it appears that Souray will start the season with the Oilers but your guess is as good as ours to how this drama will play out. Souray is one of the best power play defensemen in the league owning perhaps the most powerful slapshot in the league. However Souray's future is very much in the air at the moment. 

The defense in Edmonton will largely be by committee this season. Leading the charge in Edmonton on the backend this season will be offensive defenseman Ryan Whitney who was acquired in a deadline deal with the Anaheim Ducks last season. Whitney has been chastised in the past for having holes in his defensive game however Whitney remains quietly one of the better blueline point collectors. Look for his role to expand in Edmonton this season. Also likely to get top minutes in Edmonton this season is minute eating defenseman Tom Gilbert who also has quietly become one of the better three zone defensemen in the game. Gilbert rode out the injury plagued Edmonton campaign as the Oilers' number one defenseman last season.

Ladislav Smid has blossomed into a very respectable defensive defenseman in his time with the Oilers. Smid unfortunately has run into a plague of injuries in his four years in the NHL. However, Smid is entering this season healthy and will get the bulk of defensive and penalty kill minutes for the Oilers this season. Likely playing with Smid on the second pairing will be recent UFA signing Kurtis Foster who cashed in on a monster season last year. Foster has bounced around professional hockey for nearly a decade before exploding for 42 points with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. Look for Foster to get the bulk of powerplay minutes in Edmonton this season. 

Filling out the defense will be gritty defensive defenseman Jim Vandermeer. 23-year old trainwreck Taylor Chorney. 22-year old defensive defenseman Theo Peckham. Gritty veteran depth defenseman Jason Strudwick will also likely play several games this year on the Oilers' backend. 

Speaking of ridiculous dramas... As if the Oilers' marquee defenseman committing one of the gravest sins in professional hockey wasn't enough, their starting goaltender might very well wind up on the MSNBC prison documentary "LockUp" to open the season. 37-year old former Stanley Cup winning goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin only managed to play 18 games in an injury shortened campaign last season. However the bad got worse this off-season when Khabibulin was sentenced to 30 days in jail for a DUI conviction. There were rumors that the Oilers would try to nullify Khabibulin's contract however that hasn't come to fruitation. Once Khabibulin gets out of jail, he should the Oilers starting goaltender... that may be one of the funniest sentences I've ever written.

26-year old Jeff Deslauries got the bulk of games in net for the Oilers last season in Khabibulin's absence. Deslauries is a big positional goalie who did a respectable job last year but realistically will never be anything more then a backup in this league. Look for Deslauries to get a fair number of games this season as the drama in net shakes out. The Oilers also signed notable backup goaltender Martin Gerber who will also see a fair amount of games this season. 24-year old huge goaltender Devan Dubnyk will also likely see a few games this year.

Team Trending

There's finally some light at the end of the tunnel for the Edmonton Oilers as their forward group is really beginning to look promising with a steady collection of uber talented youngsters and a couple of seasoned vets leading the attack. However this team's defense and goaltending has got some serious problems and will likely lead to much frustration in Edmonton this season. However while this isn't a playoff team, this team is going to be enjoyable to watch for the crop of future superstars debuting with the Oilers this season. I see the Oilers coming in somewhere between 23rd and 27th overall in the league.

BVB Projected Opening Night Line-Up

Balls' note: This line-up is difficult to project with the influx of young talent and the scattered nature of this team at the moment. However at the time of this writing the Oilers training camp opens in a few days and we'll begin to get a more clear idea of how their lines will look.





Player Projections


Dustin Penner - 27 G/30 A 57 P

Gilbert Brule - 20 G/24 A 44 P
Ales Hemsky - 18 G/52 A 70 P

Taylor Hall - 30 G/32 A 62 P 
Sam Gagner - 17 G/36 A 53 P
Jordan Eberle - 23 G/24 A 47 P

Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson - 29 G/22 A 51 P
Shawn Horcoff - 10 G/18 A 28 P
Andrew Cogilano - 14 G/22 A 36 P

Jean-Francois Jacques - 5 G/9 A 14 P
Colin Fraser - 6 G/10 A 16 P
Zack Stortini - 5 G/9 A 14 P


Ryan Whitney - 6 G/34 A 40 P

Tom Gilbert - 6 G/25 A 31 P 
Ladislav Smid - 2 G/10 A 12 P
Kurtis Foster - 6 G/20 A 26 P
Jim Vandermeer - 0 G/6 A 6 P 
Jason Strudwick - 1 G/5 A 6 P


Jeff Deslauriers - 13-21-5 | 3.25 GAA | .900 

Martin Gerber - 10-16-4 | 3.37 GAA | .890
Nikolai Khabibulin - 7-5-1 | 3.10 GAA | .905

Thursday, September 9, 2010

2010-2011 Detroit Red Wings Preview

The Detroit Redwings
Leading the World in Hockey and Homicides.

I'm only a few years from being able to order off the senior menu at Denny's

Previous Year's Team Stats

44 wins, 24 losses, 14 OTL, 102 points, 12th overall in the league.

Team Analysis

The Detroit Redwings have been one of the finest franchises in all of pro sports since owner Mike Ilitch bought the team in 1982. Carefully cultivating a winner by hiring some of the best minds in the sport, the Red Wings have won four Stanley Cups and made the playoffs 19 consecutive years under Illitch's reign. The Red Wings enter the 2010-2011 season the oldest team in the league but a well oiled machine of hockey mastery. There isn't a doubt that the Red Wings will be a playoff team this year, the question will be can this certain mix of players gel to go deep in the post-season?

Detroit's offense is led by one of the finest duos in the NHL. Swedish center and former Conn Smythe winner Henrik Zetterberg is one of the finest two-way players in the game. Zetterberg scored 70 points in 74 games last season. Centering the first line will be Pavel Datsyuk won who his second Selke Trophy last season. Datsyuk is arguably the best north-south center in the game while boasting world-class vision and stickhandling. Datysuk scored 70 points in 80 games last season. Completing the first line this season will likely be goalie antagonist Tomas Holmstrom who's made a career standing at the top of the blue paint. The 37-year old Swedish winger has slowed in recent years but will remain one of the most potent weapons on the Red Wings powerplay. Holmstrom scored 45 points in 68 games last season.

The Red Wings are fortunate to have one of the finest second lines in hockey. Anchoring this line will be Swedish winger Johan Franzen who has gained the reputation as a post-season performer. Franzen had a rough season last year only managing to play 27 games (scoring 21 points) and has missed nearly 100 games due to injury in his five years in the league. However Franzen did return for a spectacular playoffs scoring 18 points in 12 games. The Swedish power forward has the potential to be 40 goal scorer and one of the best secondary players in the league if he could just put together a complete healthy campaign. Occupying the opposite wing is controversial power forward Todd Bertuzzi. The talented big man found a home in Detroit in General Manager Ken Holland's career rehabilitation program. Bertuzzi chipped in 44 points in 82 games last season for the Red Wings. Likely centering the second line will be Valtteri Flippula who finally won the second line center role for his out-standing play coming out of the Olympic break. There's a lot of speculation among the hockey media that this is the year Flippula will break out and become the next in the lineage of elite Detroit homegrown centers. Filppula scored 35 points in 55 games last season.

Likely centering the third line will be future Hall of Famer Mike Modano who signed with his hometown team after spending his entire career with the Stars organization. Modano will be counted on to contributed secondary offense this season while playing his 21st and likely last season this year. Modano scored 30 points in 59 games last season. The addition of Jiri Hudler has been cited by several hockey experts as perhaps the best under the radar move made this off-season. The talented Russian winger bolted to Dynamo Moscow last year scoring 54 points in 54 games in the KHL. Hudler should be a very respectable complimentary player who might even surprise with his offensive game. Completing the third line will be power forward winger Dan Cleary who's another player that found a home in GM Ken Holland's career rehabilitation program. Cleary scored 34 points in 64 games for the Red Wings last season. A lot of the Detroit fan base, bloggers, and Red Wings management has commented on their excitement for the offensive potential of this third line.

Detroit's fourth line will likely be occupied by a rotating cast of young (by Red Wings standards) and veteran players. Centering the fourth line will likely be hard working 23-year old grinder Darren Helm. Occupying one of the wings will be versatile two-way winger Patrick Eaves who was another NHL refugee who found success in Holland's career rehab program. Also seeing significant time on the fourth line will hard-working role player Drew Miller. Getting spot duty this season will be senior Red Wings Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby. Young 23-year old scorers Mattias Ritola and Justin Abdelkader could also see time on the NHL squad this year.

The defense in Detroit has been carried for over a decade by future Hall of Famer and captain Nicklas Lidstrom. The world class Swedish defenseman has just about every accolade possible including winning the Norris trophy six times. The 40-year old Lidstrom seemed to lose a step with the Olympic modified scheduled, however the future hall of famer regained his elite form down the stretch finishing with 49 points in 82 games. Lidstrom will again be the catalyst from the back-end for good things in Detroit this season. Lidstrom's partner this season will be talented offensive defenseman Brian Rafalski who received some criticism for his defensive game last season. Rafalski has always been one of the more talented offensive defensemen in the league and will again look to be a central component to the Red Wings powerplay. Rafalski scored 42 points in 78 games.

The second pairing in Detroit will be led by hard-hitting uber-talented Swedish defenseman Niklas Kronwall. The gritty Swede also features an impressive offensive game and stickhandling skills from the blueline. The biggest knock again Kronwall is injury concerns as he's never been able to stay healthy for a complete 82-game campaign and has some concerns with reoccuring knees injuries. Kronwall scored 22 points in 48 games last year. Pairing with Kronwall will be talented defensive defenseman and former no3 overall pick Brad Stuart. Red Wings fans raved about Stuart's play last season often citing him as their best defensemen from game to game. Stuart scored 20 points in 82 games for the Red Wings last season.

Detroit's bottom pairing saw a rotating carousel of several defensemen last season, however this season should be a little more consistent. Bob McKenzie's favorite defenseman Jonathan Ericsson completed his first full season in the NHL last year scoring 13 points in 62 games. Ericsson was the source of much ire for the Red Wings as he had a rocky sophomore season in Detroit. Long-time NHL veteran defensive defenseman Ruslan Salei was brought in this off-season partially to mentor Ericsson and partially because he worked well in his previous tenure with Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock. Salei will likely see spot time as the Red Wings' sixth defensemen. Likely filling in as the seventh defenseman this season will be Red Wings number one prospect Jakub Kindl.

Last season saw the emergence of 26-year old Jimmy Howard as the Red Wings number one goaltender last season. Howard had an absolutely specutacular debut winning 37 games in 63 appearences. Howard stole the starting job from 37-year old three time Stanley Cup winning goalie Chris Osgood who faltered out of the gate. Osgood has since stated in the press that he's ready for a complimentary role in Detroit and will look to support Howard this season.

Team Trending

The Detroit Red Wings will once again be an elite team in the NHL this year. The Red Wings feature one of the most complete and balanced teams in all of hockey. However the Red Wings ran into a plague of injuries last season to key players and the oldest team in hockey just got another year older. Expect the Red Wings to come in anywhere from third to seventh overall in the league. We'll see how the Red Wings do when the real season begins in Detroit this April. Also don't be surprised if you see the Red Wings make a move for a right winger at some point in the season, 

BVB Projected Opening Night Line-Up




Player Projections


Henrik Zetterberg - 30 G/49 A 79 P
Pavel Datsyuk - 33 G/61 A 94 P
Tomas Holmstrom - 21 G/19 A 40 P

Johan Franzen - 33 G/31 A 64 P
Valtteri Filppula - 18 G/45 A 63 P
Todd Bertuzzi - 20 G/25 A 45 P

Jiri Hudler - 17 G/26 A 43 P
Mike Modano - 14 G/26 A 40 P
Dan Cleary - 17 G/19 A 36 P

Drew Miller - 5 G/10 A 15 P
Darren Helm 13 G/16 A 29 P
Patrick Eaves - 13 G/9 A 22 P

Kris Draper - 1 G/6 A 7 P
Kirk Maltby - 1 G/2 A 3 P


Niklas Lidstrom - 8 G/36 A 44 P
Brian Rafalski - 7 G/33 A 40 P
Niklas Kronwall - 5 G/26 A 31 P
Brad Stuart - 3 G/20 A 23 P
Jonathan Ericsson - 3 G/15 A 18 P
Ruslan Salei - 1 G/6 A 7 P
Jakub Kindl - 1 G/9 A 10 P


Jimmy Howard - 39-20-7 | 2.35 GAA | .918 Sv%
Chris Osgood - 7-7-2 | 2.85 GAA | .904 Sv%

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2010-2011 Dallas Stars Preview

The Dallas Stars
We'll take the high road and refrain from all the jokes we could make about Texas.
They can feel me but they can't see me LOL
Previous Year's Team Stats
37 wins, 31 losses, 14 OTL, 88 points, 22nd overall in the league

Team Analysis

The Dallas Stars have had a rough go in the last two years. Going from perennial playoff team, to the Sean Avery Sideshow, to a team that finds itself in a rebuild. Rookie GM Joe Nieuwendyk has instituted a youth movement in Dallas by letting his four oldest players walk while significantly reducing the team's average age in his short tenure with the Stars. Nieuwendyk also hired head coach Marc Crawford last season in what can only be described as a masochistic move. All of this with strong rumors about the Stars ownership having financial problems forcing them to sell the team. It's a difficult time for the Stars faithful as the team will look for it's youth to carry the load and hope this team can rise above it's internal turbulence. 

Up front the Stars boast a talented group led by former Conn Smythe trophy winning center Brad Richards who tied his career high for points last season. Richards scored 91 points in 80 games for the Stars last season and will again carry the first line in Dallas. Opposite Richards will likely be 25-year old right winger Loui Eriksson who had a career year last season. Eriksson emerged as a legit first line talent scoring 71 points in 82 games while receiving rave reviews from Stars fans last season. Playing on the opposite wing will be 23-year old power forward James Neal who became notorious last season for destroying Blue Jacket youngster Derick Brassard in a fight last season. Neal offers a rare blend of size, grit, skill, and tenacity that will make him a favorite in the league once fans discover him. The young power forward scored 55 points in 78 games in his sophomore campaign last year and will look to solidify himself as a top line NHL talent this season.

The Stars have one of the better second lines in the NHL. Leading the way is captain and Olympic Gold winner Brenden Morrow who's considered one of the best two-way players in hockey. Morrow had a disappointing season by his standards scoring 46 points in 76 games last year after returning from a season ending injury the previous year. It wouldn't be hard to imagine Morrow improving on those numbers given his track record and the talent around him this season. Centering Morrow will be talented pivot and Passion of the Christ understudy Mike Ribeiro who's been impressive in his time in Dallas. Ribeiro scored 53 points in 66 games last season and will look to be the key set-up man behind Richards. Last season saw the surprise emergence of former 129th overall pick Jame Benn. The 21-year old made the Stars straight out of Juniors last season impressing with 41 points in 82 games in his rookie debut. Benn will be another young forward to watch as he'll look to improve on his numbers this season and compliment the second line.  The emergence of Jamie Benn has given the Stars an interesting problem. Fabian Brunnstrom became one of the most highly sought after free agents in hockey after a THN article fluff piece (do they get anything right?) drove the hockey world insane. Brunnstrom wound up in Dallas after being pursued by several teams and has promptly dropped off the face of the earth. The 25-year old Swede scored 11 points in 44 games in Dallas last season and has been given a commitment of playing time by the Dallas management. Look for the Stars to work Brunnstrom into the line-up when they can. 

The third line will be carried by talented pest Steve Ott who's gained the label of "elite agitator" in his time in Dallas. Ott scored 36 points and tallied 153 penalty minutes in 73 games last season and will look to anchor what will likely be a rotating cast on the third line. Centering the third line will likely be 23-year old Swedish import Tom Wandell who scored 15 points in 50 games last season. Wandell at the time of this writing remains questionable for training camp with a knee injury and would seem to be doubtful for any kind of consistent season this year. Occupying the right wing on the third line will likely be 27-year old Brandon Segal who bounced around the minors for several years before finding a home in Dallas. Segal is something of an enigma scoring 12 points in 44 games last season but going through a serious six points in six games hot streak to close the season. Your guess is as good as mine as to what Segal's future is right now. 

The fourth line in Dallas will likely feature three talented role players and two former Stanley Cup winners. Brian Sutherby was on his way to becoming an elite grinder in the league before a streak of injuries derailed his career. The former 26th overall pick only managed 8 points in 46 games in another injury plagued campaign last season. The main question for Sutherby who offers a sublime blend of grit and tenacity in the bottom six is can he stay healthy through an entire 82 game schedule? Defensive center and Craig MacTavish's BFF Toby Petersen will look to anchor the fourth line this season. Petersen turned in a respectable bottom six performance last season scoring 18 points in 78 games. Former Blackhawks fan favorite and Jerry Springer security Adam Burish will likely occupy the right wing on the fourth line this year. Burish scored 4 points in 13 games last season and was general manager Joe Nieuwendyk's only significant skater signing this off-season. Gritty tough guy Krys Barch will also look to get time on the fourth line this season. Barch got 6 points and 130 penalty minutes in 63 games last season.

The Stars' blueline is led by unheralded veteran Stephane Robidas who quietly had the best season of his career last year. Robidas scored 41 points in 82 games last season and led the Stars in ice time averaging over 24 minutes a game. Pairing with Robidas this season will likely be 25-year old defensive defenseman Niklas Grossman who averaged over 19 minutes a game last season and scored 7 points in 71 games last season. Grossman's defensive oriented game will allow Robidas to play a more offensive game.

The second pairing this season will likely be anchored by iron defensive defenseman Karlis Skrastins who was the de facto shutdown defenseman in Dallas last season. The Latvian defenseman is a shot blocking machine and is the NHL record holder for most consecutive games played. Skrastins scored 13 points in 79 games last season. Playing with Skrastins will likely be 26-year old offensive defenseman Trevor Daily who scored 22 points in 77 games last season for the stars.

The defense will be filled out by 23-year old offensive defenseman Matt Niskanen who scored 15 points in 74 games last season. This will be a career defining season for Niskanen as he will look to work his way up the depth chart in Dallas. Likely starting with Niskanen will be 24-year old Mark Fistric who's quietly become one of the better defensive defensemen in the game. Fistric scored 10 points in 67 game last season and offers a gritty tenacious game while facing challenges with his skating. The Stars seventh defenseman this season will be NHL veteran Jeff Woywitka who scored three points in 36 games last season.

One has to wonder if the Stars have anything in common with a certain metal battlefield vehicle with how Nieuwendyk has handled the goaltending situation in Dallas. Nieuwendyk made an eye brow raising decision to bring in former second overall pick Kari Lehtonen to be Dallas' starting goaltender. Lehtonen who's showed flashes of brilliance over his rocky career has only been able to play one complete season in the NHL tenure. Lehtonen would get injured walking against the wind and has had strong criticism for not taking his conditioning seriously. It has to be a serious question mark whether Lehtonen will be able to carry the bulk of the work load in Dallas. Likely platooning with Lehtonen will be former Calder Trophy winning goalie Andrew Raycroft who had a career renaissance in Vancouver last season. Raycroft despite being cast in bad light unfairly from a hellish tour in Toronto will be an adequate 1B in Dallas and will likely get 30 or more games in Dallas this season.

Team Trending

With only a vague concept of what defense is (a hallmark of Crawford teams) and some serious questions in net for the Stars it's hard to imagine this team being on the rise. This year will likely be about the youth in Dallas improving and for this team to assemble more building blocks in the rebuild they find themselves in. It's also hard to imagine with this team's upheaval in the ownership and management that this team will add much to improve. Look for the Stars to come in somewhere between 25th and 30th this year.

BVB Projected Opening Night Line-Up




Player Projections


Brad Richards - 25 G/55 A 80 P
Loui Eriksson - 27 G/40 A 67 P

James Neal - 32 G/30 A 62 P
Mike Ribeiro - 20 G/42 A 62 P
Brendan Morrow - 28 G/30 A 58 P
Jamie Benn - 26 G/20 A 46 P

Steve Ott - 16 G/23 A 39 P
Tom Wandell - 7 G/13 A 20 P
Fabian Brunnstrom - 6 G/10 A 16 P

Toby Petersen - 7 G/5 A 12 P
Brian Sutherby - 5 G/9 A 14 P
Adam Burish - 5 G/5 A 10 P 


Stephane Robidas - 9 G/27 A 36 P
Nicklas Grossman - 1 G/12 A 13 P
Trevor Daley - 8 G/21 A 29 P
Karlis Skrastins - 1 G/10 A 11 P
Matt Miskanen - 5 G/14 A 19 P
Mark Fistric - 2 G/12 A 14 P


Kari Lehtonen -   20-18-6 | 3.05 GAA  | .907 Sv%
Andrew Raycroft - 15-19-4 | 3.30 GAA | .896 Sv%

Three Cheers for Balls Vs. Bettman

Rock the F on BVB!

Wow... I just checked the hit count for yesterday while finishing up this Stars article, a lot of people are reading these ridiculous ramblings. Almost an uncomfortable amount of you out there are visiting this site now on a daily basis and that puts a lot of pressure on me... and I don't respond well to pressure. Sorry, I was channeling Lewis Black there for a second. Seriously though, this blog and website was created to create discussion about hockey and maybe get a few cheap laughs. It's very gratifying to know that we seem to be doing... something...

Also since people actually read this blog (which I honestly never thought would happen) now would be a good time to tell you that BVB is on a completely different time schedule from the rest of the world and is usually updated between 11 PM and 6 AM Pacific Time this off-season. However look for this blog to explode in activity during the hockey season, when we finally have something to talk about and I don't have to manufacture dramazzz.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A moment of whimsy

I'm like Hockey Aids. Once I join your organization, your team dies.
I just realized that I'm going to get to write about the Marc Crawford led Dallas Stars tomorrow. It's a shame I don't use four letter words in my articles or make boundless accusations. However I'm sure it'll be quite tasty whatever I write about that... lovely warm human being. God I hate Marc Crawford.

2010-2011 Columbus Blue Jackets Preview

The Columbus Blue Jackets
Imagine being able to be whisked away to Columbus... Hi... I'm in Columbus...
One day... I'm just going to snap... but since I'm in Columbus, no one will notice.
Previous Year's Team Stats
32 wins, 35 losses, 15 OTL, 79 points, 28th overall in the league

Team Analysis

Contrary to popular belief there is a NHL team in Columbus, Ohio. Most of us just don't know about it because of a decade of woeful mismanagement and a largely disinterested ownership group. With the organization entering it's tenth season this year the Blue Jackets are beginning to make steps in the right direction. Just one year removed from the franchise's first playoff performance,  the Blue Jackets unfortunately crashed and burned last season finishing 28th overall in the league. Former Columbus head coach and 1990s relic Ken Hitchcock was fired mid-season. Hitchcock's replacement head coach Claude Noel was fired this off-season and switched places with highly sought after AHL head coach Scott Arniel. The Blue Jackets also signed uber successful juniors coach Bob Boughner to be an assistant. The Blue Jackets are a team that has a lot of young talent with much potential that just haven't been able to put it together yet. The question in Columbus this season will be can the youngsters find consistency and can the new coaching staff get this team to put in a respectable performance?

The Blue Jackets are led up front by captain Rick Nash, former number one overall pick and franchise winger. Nash had a poor performance by his standards last season only scoring 67 points in 76 games. Nash will look to return to the point per game pace he normally exhibits this season. Anchoring the top line will be Antoine Vermette who's blossomed into a legit top six two-way player in Columbus. Vermette had a career year last season scoring 65 points in 82 games. Vermette will again look to take the top line duties and be the Blue Jacket's main offensive pivot. Likely beginning the year on the top line will be streaky scoring winger Kristian Huselius who popped 63 points in 74 games for the Blue Jackets and will battle to get first line ice time. One of Huselius' competitors will be R.J. Umberger who has a career year last season scoring 55 points. Former 16th overall pick Umberger received rave reviews from Blue Jacket fans last season and could see significant offensive minutes this season.

The Blue Jackets have an impressive trio of young prospects who will play significant roles for the team this season. The most interesting of these may be former sixth overall pick 20-year old Nikita Filatov who some experts have drawn comparisons to Daniel Alfredsson in terms of play style and potential. Filatov was the subject of much e-ink last year for stealing head coach Ken Hitchcock's morning donut and was chased to Russia for the season in a highly public drama. Filatov managed to score 22 points in 26 games for his KHL club and will look for a fresh start in Columbus under new head coach Scott Arniel. Former sixth overall pick 22-year old Derick Brassard will look to center the second line. Brassard had a disappointing season last year only scoring 36 points and going -17 in 79 games. However Brassard did show flashes at the end of the season managing eight points in 15 games and played dramatically better out of the Olympic break. It will be interesting to see if Brassard's play improves under a youth oriented coach and a more balanced schedule. Former seventh overall pick 21-year old Jakub Voracek had a solid season for the Blue Jackets last season scoring 50 points in 81 games. Voracek's game has been compared to Marian Hossa's and has drawn favorable reviews from Columbus fans. Look for Voracek to crack the 60 point barrier this season under Arniel.

Columbus has always been a team that believes in having established grinders occupy their bottom six. This group will be led by one of the best defensive centers in the game Sami Pahlsson who has a reputation as a playoff performer. Pahlsson who scored 16 points in 79 games last season signed as a free agent in Columbus and will look to take the bulk of defensive minutes up front. Veteran winger and former Capitals captain Chris Clark will look to fill in on the bottom six. Clark who scored 20 points in 74 games last season is nearing the end of his career but will look to provide a honest grinder's game and leadership this season. The Blue Jackets also have former Oilers captain Ethan Moreau who found a home in Columbus after having to flee Edmonton with only what he could carry. Moreau who scored 18 points in 76 games with the Oilers last season was the subject of trade rumors at the deadline but was eventually claimed off waivers by the Blue Jackets. Moreau will bring a similar game to Clark's and will fill out the bottom six.

The bottom of the bottom six will likely feature scrappy enforcer Jared Boll who had 21 fights and 7 points in 68 games last season. Getting time on the fourth line this year will likely be agitating middle-weight Derek Dorsett who had 105 penalty minutes and 14 points in 51 games last season. Down the middle will be defensive center Andrew Murray who had 7 points in 46 games last season.

The defense is led by surprising three zone defenseman Fedor Tyutin who scored 32 points and averaged over 23 minutes of ice time in 80 games last season. Tyutin will again look to receive the bulk of playing time on the Blue Jackets' back-end. Likely to be Tyutin's partner on the first pairing this season will be Jan Hedja who's quietly become one of the better defensive defensemen in the game. Hedja who averaged over 20 minutes of ice time a game scored 13 points in 64 games last season and will look to be the de facto shutdown man in Columbus again this season.

Likely to be featured on the second pairing this season will be frustrating Rostislav Klesla who had a disappointing injury plagued campaign last year. A former fourth overall draft pick, Klesla scored eight points in 26 games last season. Klesla has confounded Columbus fans since his NHL debut with a tantalizing skill set, however Klesla hasn't been able to stay consistent or healthy in the NHL. Klesla has averaged 30 games played the last two seasons and has to be doubtful as a consistent performer for the Blue Jackets. Big defensive defenseman Marc Methot will likely be a fixture on the Blue Jackets second pairing this season. Methot scored eight points in 60 games last season and will look to take the defensive assignments when Hedja is on the bench.

The bottom pairing in Columbus will see two young offensive defensemen and a veteran defensive defenseman battle for ice time this season. 23-year old Kris Russell had a strong campaign in his third year in the NHL scoring 22 points in 70 games while being the only Blue Jackets defenseman to have a positive +/- rating. Look for Russell to move up the depth chart this season while having a breakout year.   Defensive defenseman Mike Commodore had a rough season last year achieving 11 points, a minus nine rating and scorn from Blue Jackets fans. Commodore will look to have a bounce back year and get significant defensive minutes if he can stay healthy. Offensive defenseman Anton Stralman had a up and down campaign in his first full NHL season in Columbus. Stralman scored 34 points in 73 games while displaying a vastly underwhelming defensive game. Look for Stralman to get significant power play minutes and sheltered even strength minutes this year.

The Columbus Blue Jackets thought they had a franchise goaltender when a young Steve Mason exploded into the league straight from juniors with a Calder Trophy winning performance. However Mason dramatically fell back to earth last season with a largely disappointing sophomore campaign. Observers of the Columbus Blue Jackets feel this is largely because the team fell apart under Hitchcock. While it's not hard to think Mason will have a bounce back season this year under a new coach and a new system. It's hard to imagine Mason regaining his rookie form with largely the same team in front of him that crashed and burned last season. Backing up Mason will be long time 1B Mathieu Garon who will look to get significant minutes this year if Mason falters. Garon played 35 games last season for the Blue Jackets and could see quite a few games again this season if Mason falters.

Team Trending

While the Blue Jackets should improve with the arrival of youth oriented coaches Scott Arniel and Bob Boughner, this team simply doesn't have the talent to be much of a threat in the league. Columbus also plays in one of the toughest division in hockey right now with 16 games against the two former Stanley Cup winning teams and another eight against a perennial playoff contender. This year will be exciting to see what Arniel can do with the youth in Columbus and to see just how much this team 180s with their former failure head coach gone. Look for the Blue Jackets to come in somewhere between 23rd and 27th overall in the league.

BVB Projected Opening Night Line-Up




Player Projections


Rick Nash - 42 G/40 A 82 P
Antoine Vermette - 25 G/40 A 65 P
Kristian Huselius - 22 G/34 A 56 P

Jakub Voracek - 24 G/40 A 64 P
Derek Brassard - 15 G/30 A 45 P
Nikita Filatov - 23 G/25 A 48 P

R.J. Umberger - 25 G/30 A 55 P
Sami Pahlson - 5 G/15 A 20 P
Chris Clark - 8 G/14 A 22 P

Ethan Moreau - 5 G/10 A 15 P
Andrew Murray - 6 G/6 A 12 P
Jared Boll - 4 G/4 A 8 P 


Fedor Tyutin -  5 G/25 A 30 P
Jan Hedja - 2 G/12 A 14 P
Kris Russell - 8 G/20 A 28 P
Rostislav Klesla - 3 G/12 A 15 P
Anton Stralman - 7 G/28 A 35 P
Marc Methot - 3 G/10 A 13 P


Steve Mason - 27-25-10 | 2.87 GAA | .906 Sv%
Mathieu Garon - 10-8-2 | 2.94 GAA | .902 Sv%