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The 4th Line Banger
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Posted - 11/06/2011 :  11:22:16  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
- About a month from now we will have a really good idea who are the pretenders and who are the contenders this season. Generally speaking, the teams in playoff positions at American Thanksgiving are likely the teams who are in the playoffs in April. At least that is the case about 80% of the time. It will be interesting to see if teams like Edmonton, Dallas, Toronto, and Ottawa will stay near the top and will teams like Boston, Vancouver, Detroit, and Tampa Bay still be left out in the cold.

-What's the deal with Georges Laraque? First he made statements after the tragedies of the summer about enforcers abusing drugs and alcohol to cope with having to fight. Now he has written a book and in it he makes bold statements about the NHL having an issue with steroids and human growth hormones. Why didn't he saying anything about these issues while he was in the NHL? Did it have something to do with the millions of dollars he was getting to play hockey be an enforcer and fight? Now that he is no longer playing this smells a lot like he is looking for another paycheck by making accusations. Sounds a little Canseco-like, doesnít it? I'm not saying there is or is not an issue with drug and alcohol abuse or use of performance enhancing drugs in the NHL. However, I lost any respect I ever had for Laraque in the past few months. It takes a real man to insist on change when the change would be a negative impact on a personal level. What kind of man does it take to reap the rewards for a behavior and once the rewards can no longer be received they campaign for change?? Classless.

-Another area to pay attention to this NHL season is the 100% special teams. Historically, few teams have been successful when their penalty kill percentage and power play percentage do not combine to be more than 100%. It doesnít matter if the PK or PP is near the top of the league or not. Simply put, a great PP will overcome an average PK, a great PK will overcome an average PP, and a great PK and PP almost always equals success.

-Anyone else think that the standard Shanahan set in the preseason has continued into the early start of the regular season?? Suttonís suspension was absolutely deserved and it looks like what Campbell was afraid to do before is exactly what Shanahan is doing now. Sutton did a dangerous hit and the player who he hit was not injured. Regardless, he received a 5 game suspension. Finally the NHL discipline is based on action first and outcome second. Outcome does have an impact on the severity of the suspension but it should not be the qualifier. Well done Shanahan!

-I was dead wrong about Crosby. Luckily no one wanted to bet me!! Hopefully he is back sooner than later.

-The great thing about this season so far is that there is not a ton of drama off the ice to discuss so we have all been able to enjoy the product on the ice. There have been some great games so far.

-Here comes by controversial statement for the week: are you all ready for the annual Leafs November slide! They extended their traditional hot start to the season by more than 4 games this year but we are watching the beginning of the end. That game against Boston last night was very telling about what that team does when facing adversity. Secondly, as discussed earlier in the blog, special teams directly impact a teamís success. A combined 86% and the worst PK in the NHL often do not spell success. With the exception of the Bruins and the Caps, the Leafs do not have many tough match-ups in November but I am predicting a sub .500 month and the Leafs to be hanging on to a playoff spot by a string.

-Sadly, Edmonton will have the same fate as the Leafs. With only 4 home games in November couples with some tough road games against the like of Boston, Detroit, and Chicago I fear the Oilers run will be slowed to a crawl. Khabibulin will have to be even better for the Oilers to keep pace and that just isnít possible. No goal scoring means few wins.

Finally, I would like to thank those posters who commented on my last blog. I appreciate any and all feedback as it will only make the blog better. Hopefully this product is more to your satisfaction. See you next week.

Have an opinion on The Fourth Line Banger's article? Let us know. Just hit reply below and post your thoughts. Anything goes...but keep it clean.
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4809 Posts

Posted - 11/07/2011 :  06:40:32  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
1) Agreed, I have heard that American Thanksgiving stat before, and I would even trend it upward from that for the post-lockout era. It is sooo close now between the teams that make it and don't, and by the end of November, most teams have had a decent sample of home and away games against a variety of competition.

2) 100% diagree.
I personally wouldn't guess that you would do what you think Laraque should have done, nor do I think that you or most other people would be so reflective and proactive and honest, even after your career is done and you made your millions. After being entrenched in that hockey culture, as a very integral part of your existence . . . I think it took brass balls for Georges to come out and talk about these things.

In many ways, if he had done that during his career (you do remember he didn't want to fight anymore the last year and a half, right?), he would have been doing the ignoble and classless thing by causing unnecessary trouble for his teammates.

No, I still hold Georges in very, very high regard.

3) Well, that goes for any year really . . . but as always, it's an indicator, not a predictor. Bruins, last year's Stanley Cup champs, for instance: 2010/11 pp% - 16.2%, pk% 82.6%, adding up to a total of 98.8.

Just sayin'.

4) Agreed. Shanahan is doing a very good job so far IMHO.

5) Fair enough.

6) Agreed . . . but it was MUCH needed after a summer of a heck of a lot of drama involving the deaths of so many ex players at such a young age.

7) It's not controversial at all to predict a November slide for the Leafs. In fact, as a Leafs fan, it's all I've heard ever since the Leafs compiled such a great record early on - that they are not for real, they suck, etc etc etc. The hate-on for the Leafs is league wide, and it's easy to pile on them after years of disappointment and failure. So yeah, it's not like you piling on is going to be controversial in any sense of the word, lol.

Not that you don't base your opinion on some decent stats and observations - that's fair enough, and it's an opinion that has merit.

But myself, based on how they have already responded to adversity ("saviour" goalie out for an extended time period, an earlier blow-out to Boston, Connolly only playing a few games to this point, etc etc) I'd say they are set to stun the world with what kind of character they actually have.

That, my friend, is controversial!

8) I agree on a slight Edmonton slide - the goaltending cannot last forever, and not enough scoring from their streaky forwards, and that unheralded defence can't keep it up forever, I think. Especially against hungry, good teams.

"Take off, eh?" - Bob and Doug
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Posted - 11/08/2011 :  13:19:07  Reply with Quote
If Edmonton gets some of their glass cannons like Whitney and Hemsky back relatively soon, I wouldn't put it passed them to keep doing well...
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