Sick Hands Sunday – Crosby’s Dominant Week Leads Canada to the WCOH Finals.

Alright as we get back into the swing of things, hockey-wise that is, I decided to start a new weekly based series! As you can see in the title, it is going to be called “Sick Hands Sunday”. Basically, what I’m going to do with this is provide an article each Sunday recapping the player with the “hottest” hands in the league. Although the NHL is not back for another two and a half weeks or so, I am going to pull one player from the eight World Cup rosters who I think deserves the award.

Honestly as big as a hockey fan that I am, picking just one player is extremely hard to do. Especially when you look at how stacked each team is, primarily Team Canada and Team North America! Before I pick my player, I want all of you hockey fans out there to see how hard it was for me to pick someone.

92a27e99c54cb01c3919d260df65b788.jpg
Team Canada’s powerhouse leaders Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton celebrate a goal. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For example, even though Team Canada’s Sidney Crosby, who leads the tourney in points, tallied a whopping seven points (3G, 4A) in four games, there was still competition below him. In second place, Brad Marchand of Team Canada registered five points (3G, 2A) in four games and is right behind Crosby.  Amazingly, there was a jaw-dropping 11-way tie for third with four points! The players included in the 11-way tie are Team Canada’s Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron, Matt Duchene, Logan Couture, John Tavares, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Team North America’s Shayne Gostisbehere and Johnny Gaudreau. Team Sweden’s Nicklas Backstrom and Erik Karlsson and last but not least, Team Europe’s Mats Zuccarello. So even though the list of players under Crosby have fewer points, they all played very well on their respective teams.

Now on to the good part, the winner of this week’s “Sick Hands Award”. Like I said above, it was difficult to single out a player. Saying that, as I go back and watch the highlights of each game to help me pick, I am going to have to go with Canada’s top center, Sidney Crosby. As much as this pains me to pick him being a die hard Flyers fan, he has been just incredible in Canada’s first 3 tournament games and their semi-final game against Russia. When I say incredible, I honestly mean that because no team could contain him at all. It was truly insane to watch him basically control each game.

In Team Canada’s opening round 6-0 dominate win versus Team Czech Republic, Crosby recorded three points (1G, 2A) including the game’s first goal at 8:26 of the first period. Crosby showed relentless pursuit on the play by picking up the deflected shot and quickly wrapping the puck around the net and banking his shot in off of Czech goaltender Michal Neuvirth. Below you can see the play resulting in Crosby’s goal.

Surprisingly, Sid the Kid did not have a point in Canada’s 4-2 win against rival Team USA but he was a big threat the whole game. Crosby’s one game scoring “drought” did not stop him from having another solid game. Crosby, once again, scored Canada’s opening goal against Team Europe in a solid 4-1 win. He grabbed the deflected shot behind the net, quickly skated to the other side, and beat Slovakian goalie Jaroslav Halak short side with another wrap around. Sid the Kid’s dominate speed was on display and it provided a great boost for the goal as you can see below.

Again, Crosby had a commanding semi-final game against Team Russia. He tallied three points (1G, 2A) along with, believe it or not, the opening goal 7:40 into the first period. Crosby was sent in on the forecheck into the corner to get the puck. He sneakily stole the puck from the Russian defender in the slot. Then Crosby quickly went in on a mini-breakaway on his backhand, made a tremendous backhand move, dekeing Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovsky out of his skates and roofing the puck for the first goal of the game. He then went on to tally two beautiful assists to linemate Brad Marchand to seal the win for Canada. Below you can see Crosby’s fantastic goal along with his two great assists.

Hands down the most effective player in the first four games for any team. If you don’t agree with me, then you might be crazy! In close second, taking home the honorable mention for the week is Team Canada’s Marchand. Brad played great in all four games picking up a goal and two assists in game one, no points in games two or three, and scoring two clutch goals in their semifinal game. It was a close fight between Crosby and Marchand, but picking Crosby in the end, was the right call!

 

Down the Frozen River Podcast #36- 2016-2017 Season Preview: Pacific Division

The Down the Frozen River crew fills you in on all of the biggest offseason moves in the Pacific Division and previews how each team in the division will do in the upcoming 2016-2017 season. Also discussed, a general disgust for Team USA’s World Cup exit and who the crew thinks will make the Championship game.

Join Colby, Connor, Frank and Nick as they discuss several of the Pacific Division’s offseason’s biggest acquisitions and other tidbits of information. As always, stayed tuned for weekly coverage of the latest news and notes around the NHL every week on the Down the Frozen River Podcast.

Colby’s Corner World Cup of Hockey Predictions

This year the World Cup of Hockey makes its long-awaited return and it has many excited. It’s an eight-team spectacle and show of nationalism on a different platform than the usual tournaments.

world cup of hockey

The eight teams are Russia, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, USA, Canada, Team Europe and Team North America. Team Europe is made up of all of the best players from Europe, who don’t have teams represented in the tournament. Team North America is made up of American- and Canadian-born players under the age of 23.

All of these teams played three exhibition games against the other teams. Most of the teams finished with a record of two and one, except for team Finland, team Russia and Team Europe, as all three teams went 1-2.

With all of this being said, I am here to share my final four teams and who I think the favorite is to win it all.

My first semi-finalist isn’t a big surprise as I have Canada.

Canada is the powerhouse in all of the national tournaments and will be in the semis, and I don’t think anyone will argue with me on this point. Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Toews all on one team. These are three of the best leaders in the league and they are all one team.

Not to mention the best goaltending issue ever, they have Braden Holtby, Corey Crawford and Carey Price. I think I wouldn’t mind any of these goalies being my number one goalie. However Canada is not my favorite to win it all. Sorry Canada!

My second finalist is kind of surprise as I’m backing the young guns with Team North America.

North America is going to surprise a lot of people when they make the semis of this tournament. Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Dylan Larkin and others have a point to prove as the youth movement is coming and they can compete with these vets. They are extremely fast and I think will blow the doors off some of these aging teams.

They have Aaron Ekblad, a kid who plays like 10-year veteran. They also have the hottest goalie in the NHL in Matt Murray. I don’t think he’ll have any issues in this tourney, but again, North America isn’t my favorite to win it all.

 

My third finalist, and my favorite to win it all, is team Sweden

Sweden is my favorite to win it all strictly because they are the best-rounded team in my opinion. They have Henrik Lundqvist in goal, and we know how good he is at the start of the year. They have the strongest defense core with Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson looking to lead the way.

Let’s not forget the Vancouver 1st line with the Sedin twins (Daniel and Henrik) and Loui Eriksson. I think this will be the best line of the tournament and you will see them in the end with the highest point totals. Sweden will win the tournament and they will get back on the top of the world.

 

My fourth finalist was the hardest to pick, however, I’ll take team USA.

I choose USA based off of heart and grit… No I am not Don Sweeney! I chose USA because they have a point to prove. They aren’t the biggest underdog, but many people don’t think USA will have a good showing in this tournament.

The best part of team USA is John Tortorella. He is a quote machine and makes a good tournament from a media perspective. A lot of team USA’s hope will rely on Patrick Kane, and after a 100-plus point season, I am interested in finding out if he can do it again.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #35- 2016-2017 Season Preview: Atlantic Division

The Down the Frozen River crew is back with yet another week of exciting hot takes and a preview of every Atlantic Division team for the 2016-2017 season. Join Colby, Frank and Nick as they discuss several of the Atlantic Division’s offseason’s biggest acquisitions and other tidbits of information. As always, stayed tuned for weekly coverage of the latest news and notes around the NHL every week on the Down the Frozen River Podcast.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!

Down the Frozen River Podcast #34- 2016-2017 Season Preview: Central Division

The Down the Frozen River crew is back with yet another week of exciting hot takes and a preview of every Central Division team for the 2016-2017 season. Join Colby, Frank and Nick as they discuss several of the Central Division’s offseason’s biggest acquisitions and other tidbits of information. As always, stayed tuned for weekly coverage of the latest news and notes around the NHL every week on the Down the Frozen River Podcast.

*Editor’s note: Due to another technological issue this week, a big change may be coming to the podcast. Stay tuned.*

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!

 

Colby’s Corner Sabres’ Swords In the Playoffs

If you have been following the blog at all or just me personally you know I am a huge Buffalo Sabres fan. With this being said, it has been a year since I have written an article about them, so it’s about time for the Sabres update. Unknown-2

The Sabres roster looks a little different going into this season as Chad Johnson, David Legwand and Carlo Colaiacovo’s contracts have expired and they are no longer with the team.

At the 2016 draft, Tim Murray made another trade as the Sabres acquired a top four defenseman Dmitry Kulikov for Mark Pysyk. Another trade at the draft was a 3rd round pick for the negotiating rights of Jimmy Vesey. Jimmy Vesey was due to become a UFA on August 15th when Murray acquired him. This gave the Sabres a few weeks to talk with Vesey before that date. In the end, Vesey decided to become a UFA and eventually chose the New York Rangers as his new team.

The team continued to get better as they landed a top free agent in Kyle Okposo for a 7-year, $42 million contract. This figures out to be a six million dollar average annual value (per year cap hit). The Sabres added a few AHL players for Rochester in free agency, the biggest name being Justin Falk, who will fight to be the depth guy in Buffalo. Most of the Sabres offseason was trying to re-sign their current players.

The Sabres gave one-year deals to Zemgus Girgensons, Marcus Foligno, Daniel Catenacci, Cole Schneider and Johan Larsson. Jason Kasdorf, Casey Nelson and Nicolas Deslauriers got 2-year deals. Jake McCabe got a 3-year deal with $1.6M average annual value. There is only one RFA left and that is Rasmus Ristolainen. Not to worry, though, he is expected to sign a big long-term deal keeping him with the Sabres for a while. (As for why Murray is waiting, I have no clue and I am as frustrated as you are.)

So with all of these moves plus adding a top six winger and top four defenseman, what does this mean for the Sabres this upcoming season?  

Here are my thoughts on the subject. The Sabres need to be playoff-bound this year for a few reasons:

First, the Atlantic division is completely up for grabs this year. Looking at the division, there isn’t one clear winner like years past. Boston and Montreal have questions defensively to figure out. The Florida Panthers have a lot of new faces, but will they all fit and work together right? Tampa might be the strongest team in the division after keeping Steven Stamkos.

Photo Credit: Bill Wippert
Photo Credit: Bill Wippert

Second, if the Sabres don’t make the playoffs, it could be the end of Dan Bylsma in Buffalo. Bylsma wasn’t Murray first choice to be coach of this team, and if the team doesn’t improve at the rate Murray wants them to, there could be big changes and Bylsma could be one of them.

Finally, do it for Marcus and Zemgus. Folgino and Girgensons had a few question asked of them about production last season. If the team doesn’t make the playoffs this season, these are two guys who could be playing their last season in Buffalo unless their production jumps up dramatically. You may call me crazy for this thought, but it really does hurt me knowing that my favorite player (Girgensons) may be traded at some point.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #33- We’re Baaack!

The Down the Frozen River crew returns as Colby, Frank and Nick discuss several of the offseason’s biggest stories, including Las Vegas, the day hockey Twitter erupted and some of the best and worst free agent signings. As well, the DTFR crew talks about some World Cup of Hockey replacements. As always, stayed tuned for weekly coverage of the latest news and notes around the NHL every week on the Down the Frozen River Podcast.

*Editor’s note: Due to a technological crisis that was averted, this episode was recorded on Friday of last week and finally salvaged to being released this week. We’ll have another episode that should go smoothly this Friday. Oh and don’t mind the flushing toilet sound in this one… Connor’s not our next door neighbor anymore so stuff like that might happen because we can’t control strangers (please come back Connor).*

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!

Reflection

By: Nick Lanciani

Five years ago, the hockey world suffered collectively from several of the greatest tragedies in the history of the sport. In the warm months of 2011, the hockey world lost Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak and the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL) team over the course of one offseason.

In the summer of 2011, I personally was celebrating the success of my favorite NHL team’s Stanley Cup championship. I had grown up dreaming of one day seeing them raise the Cup, but none of that seems to matter when you remember that at the end of the day, every player of the game is human.

Hindsight is 20/20 and we could say that there were warning signs and better ways we could’ve helped players like Boogaard, Rypien and Belak, but the fact of the matter is that nothing can bring them back and we must move on, remembering them, and committing ourselves to doing more. We have to do more.

Enough is enough when it comes to senseless fighting in the NHL. It’s not the 1970s anymore.

But even I seem to battle with the existential question of whether fighting in the NHL should be allowed to continue. In some respects it sets apart the sport from any other (but it is after all, still a penalty). In others, I can see where it is deemed barbaric.

If the league were to follow a protocol similar to the OHL’s newly introduced rules on fighting, I do not think it would be all that bad for the marketability of the sport. Hockey, in its purest form, will always go on. And the NHL will always be the top league in the hockey world for talent and superstar work ethic, skill, coaching and leadership.

Especially at the Junior level, we all have to remember, the players are just kids.

When Marc Savard suffered an estimated six concussions in his Junior days alone, we should’ve realized when to step in and step up. Sadly, new studies and discoveries about the brain are too late to repair the shattered and fragmented careers of far too many Junior players who went on or did not go on to see the days of life in the NHL.

Likewise, it’s too late to undo what’s been done to those former NHLers now suffering from Alzheimers, dementia and other debilitating diseases caused, in part, by head trauma.

In the summer of 2011, I was riding the highs of victory, but the dark shadows cast by the losses of Boogaard, Rypien and Belak cemented the fruition of what my eyes only see when I look at any player on the ice— another human.

They’re not heroes in the sense that they are far above me as an individual or that they are superhuman, but every NHL player is ultimately just another human being with a right to a life after their career. They are heroes in the sense that they get to play a game for a living that I’m sure most of us could only dream of ever doing for a living.

They are heroes in every win and every loss, but not every win or loss should come in the form of winning a lawsuit for the loss of a life.

The dark days of 2011 were only blackened some more when the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash occurred.

How could such joys of watching a team win the Cup be mirrored with the lows of tragedy?

I remember watching Karlis Skrastins, Pavol Demitra and Ruslan Salei at one point or another in person or on TV. I had never seen Brad McCrimmon play, but I remember hearing about him and his short stint with the Boston Bruins from 1979-1982.

I think of every member of that team, their families and that entire organization every September 7th. I remember how a community came together to memorialize them all and mourn as one family. I remember that so much good has come from so much bad and horrible memories of the summer of 2011.

We owe it to every player to do more. To be more as they’ve been more. To be with them as they’ve been alongside others.

Our lives are short. We never know when the last time might be.

But there is always time for a first time for a better tomorrow. And I want to see us live it well.

It sickened me when I heard last year that cocaine abuse in the NHL was on the rise. Both the NHLPA and the NHL have to do more to help their players— their colleagues, their friends, their fellow humans.

It disgusts me that NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, continues to deny a link between CTE and head injuries. The emails that were leaked earlier this year show that Brendan Shanahan should really be commended for speaking out and starting the conversation for change.

Even the NFL is beginning to take things seriously as they give studying head injuries a second thought.

The league has to do more. I’m not interested in whether or not the league accepts blame or admits defeat at this point, but rather that they will commit themselves to doing more to protect their players and help them move forward with their lives after hockey. Let’s start talking about solutions instead of finger pointing and blaming.

Let’s always remember the good times we had with Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak.

And let us never forget the tremendous people of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, the tremendous hockey players, coaches, trainers and more, that were killed five years ago today.

As we reflect, we move forward in their memory.