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The 4th Line Banger
Top Prospect

38 Posts

Posted - 11/28/2008 :  13:26:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
by The 4th Line Banger

As I rocked my way through the unique and interesting opinions on Pick Up Hockey thinking of what to discuss in my overdue blog I stumbled upon a preseason ranking thread from some time ago. I though that a ľ way through the season report card on teams and players would be a nice way to spend my time while locked in a hotel room away from Mrs. 4th Line Banger.

Iím not going to go into detail on each team, but there are three real surprises at this still early point in the season. I would venture to say most of us would have bet against Vancouver and Boston being in the top 5 teams in the league. As well, most of us would have not bet on Dallas being the 2nd worst! Now granted, it will more than likely not be like this at the end of the season, but WOW!! Luongo going a lifetime without allowing a goal didnít hurt Vancouver much and the goaltending in Boston has been wicked-awesome as well. But, both Boston and Vancouver are in the top 5 scoring teams in the league. Both teams are playing far better than anyone expected them to.

Even more shocking is Dallas. A team that many considered one of the best last year figured to be in a great position to complete with SJ and ANA in the Pacific at the start of the season. Who would have guessed that steady as a rock Marty Turco would have forgotten how to play hockey and that pretty boy Mike Modano would have taken such a total dislike to Mr. Avery?? Brad Richardís has also not done much and Fabian Brunnstrom (the future??) had a hat trick on opening night and exactly 4 points in his next 16 games.

There are others that are either over or under achieving such as Columbus, Los Angeles, and Ottawa, but no teams are doing better (or worse) than Boston, Vancouver, and Dallas. Itís hard to think that things in Dallas are going to improve until Morrow returns from injury and Brett Hull finds a way to unload Avery to a Russian team. I wouldnít think that any NHL team would want that knob in the dressing room after seeing him nearly single handedly dismantles a Cup Contender. It will also be interesting to see Vancouver continue their results with Luongod out for what is reported at potentially 4-5 weeks. Boston, well, their tools are all there to continue.

We shall see.

Now, for my ľ way through the year player awards:

Norris Trophy Ė Shea Weber

This is a pretty easy pick for me. Not only is he leading all defensemen in points and goals, but he is also top 5 for defensemen in +/- on a pretty average team. Heís doing a solid job of blocking shots and ultimately, has not shown any weakness in his game. Heís making a solid pitch of not only making the 2010 Olympic Team but might be a top 4 d-man on that team if his play continues. Just a solid defenseman who can put points on the board.

Calder Trophy Ė Kris Versteeg

19 games played, 20 points, +11, 8 PIM, 2 PP goals, a shortie, and a game winner in less than 18 minutes a game. Hereís a player I donít think anyone hear of before this year. Not much else to say.

Vezina Trophy Ė Roberto Luongo

How can anyone argue with what Luongo has done to this point? He went 7 games allowing only 7 goals on 222 shots before he was injured. Thatís a .968 save percentage and facing just a shade under 32 shots a game. Over all, 11 wins, .928 save percentage and an vomit-inducing 5 shut outs in 19 games. That gave him an outside shot of the single season shutout record of 22 which has been held for an amazing 80 years by George Hainsworth. An honorable mention would go to Tim Thomas as he has done the same for Boston, but Luongo has done as much playing in more games, playing more minutes, and facing more shots.

Jack Adams Trophy Ė Ron Wilson

No one outside of the diehard Leafs fans would have predicted that their team would have done anything this year. Even those diehards were not very optimistic. I would say that Wilson is the reason for any success the Leafs have seen to this point. He has that team playing hard nose hockey and really pushing the play in most of the game this season. Heís not afraid to call out his players and sit the stars when they are not performing to his expectations. But the thing I respect most about Wilson is the way he handling the very difficult Toronto media. He speaks his mind and tells it how it is. Heís definitely exceeded my expectations to this point in the season.

Hart Trophy Ė Roberto Luongo

See above. No one means as much to his team as Luongo has. Vancouver has given up 30 shots a game and Luongo has done enough for Vancouver to have the 3rd least goals against in the league. Sure, Vancouver is scoring more than expected, but absolutely no one expected them to be as good as they have been. That all starts and ends with Luongo. I think the next month will show that with Luongo out of the line up. No one means as much to their team as Luongo does to Vancouver.

Have a Great Week!

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PickupHockey Pro

499 Posts

Posted - 11/28/2008 :  14:11:35  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Ron Wilson for Jack Adams? Come on! Yes he has turned heads and definitely exceeded my expectations but he is NOT Jack Adams material! How about Claude Julian? He's got the Bruins playing FAIRLY good hockey! And for that matter, Todd McLellan, WIlson's replacement, has the Sharks playing FANTASTIC hockey, even with Nabakov hurt! Setoguchi, Clowe, and Marleau have all been flourishing under McLellan's guidance. Also, the Canucks have been playing very good hockey, even without Luongo. Now we'll see how long that lasts but if it does keep up, then Alain Vigneault should have consideration.

"I'm not dumb enough to be a goalie."
Brett Hull.
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