- Holy Olympic Crap. With all due respect to the Men's Gold medal winning team, the Canadian Women's team was the story of the Olympics. Their come from behind victory over the US placed themselves in the pantheon of all time amazing performances by Canadian hockey players on the world stage. It wasn't the strongest team (previous Canadian entries were much more dominant) - if anything, Canada was a serious underdog to the US who were bigger and faster than our girls. But; a fluke goal, a giant dollop of whatthefuckery from the refs, an empty net, a two inch post of metal, a game tying goal with seconds left, more referee calls that originate from deep uncharted space, a Donner party like reduction in the number of skaters on the ice, and, finally, a powerplay snipe that murdered the souls of every American girl on the ice as they realized they were the Starks and this was their Red Wedding.
- While the Women were claiming their gold medal through a combination of blood sacrifice and dark sorcery, the Men were scientific and surgical in their efficiency. Aside from a hiccup game vs Latvia where the Canadian offense went AWOL, the 'nucks were just bigger, stronger, and faster than everyone else - especially on defense. They even had a few lucky breaks go their way when the Finns took out the Russians - a team whose strengths, depth, and familiarity at forward might have proven a difficult test for the team. A 5am game start that meant we all heard about an airless 3-0 throttling of the limping Swedes was more mercy killing than Gold Medal game.
Their 'real' gold medal game would be against the US, and for a while at least it looked like the US had the kind of team that could hang with Canada, especially at forward and in net. Until Canada scored that is. Once there was a lead, Canada spent the rest of the game slowly, and inexorably, strangling the US team in the neutral zone, until the US forwards bore the expression of low-paid extras on 'The Walking Dead'. Clinical, and maybe even a bit dull, but the Canadian boys were full marks for their wins and their gold.
- There are no fewer than 7 teams (!) within 35 points of the lead, making this one of the tightest races I can recall. Given I once won a cup coming back from more than 40 points in arrears after WD2, everyone of these 7 teams could claim a legitimate shot at the title is in hand. What makes things interesting is that with such a wide field of contestants 'buy-out' deals are going to be harder to come by with the glut of buyers vs sellers.
- I took some heat from Mike (justifiably, I left out Tyler Seguin from my evaluation) when I wrote a review of his team suggesting it was weak at C. Seguin, Duchene and Brad Richards have been helping float the Barbarians to the top of the standings, but IMO, there is likely to be a drop off in production from the trio as we move forward. Dallas and Colorado are both unlikely to make the playoffs, and I have a hard time seeing them busting ass (especially Seguin) as the year winds down and the futility sets in.
- Have to believe that the Barbarians MVP this year is Phil the Thrill Kessel. Especially in the 3rd quarter of the season he's simply been shooting the lights out.
- Odds of the Barbarians hoisting their first Predator Cup? 1 in 3. With a 20point lead, he has to be the favourite.
- The PV are in a world of hurt. Losing Zetterberg for the rest of the year isn't going to help them stay competitive, and I suspect that Datsyuk has been playing through a crap-tonne of minor injuries prior to the Olympics, and will miss time now that the nationalist fever has abated. Turris and Hodgson are just not going to cut it as heavy lifters at C with the heat on.
- Odds of the PV hoisting the Cup, again? 1 in 12 (and falling fast)
- The Shadowmen have built themselves a juggernaut of a defense core, but their forward lines have holes all over the place. In particular, they are in desperate need of a legit top-line option LW. If they are rolling with Andrew Ladd after the trade deadline as their top portsider, they could be in serious trouble.
- Odds of the Shadowmen putting a ring on finger #4? 1 in 5 (he'll fix the holes - somehow)
- Two of the more interesting stories for the Knights Templar this year are the arrival (finally) of Victor Hedman as an offensive force, and the continuation of Jagr's dominance over, well, everything and everyone. Hedman has had a long apprenticeship, but it has paid off - in spades. The 6'6" 220lb Swede has been a force of nature for the Bolts this year and is indisputably the teams anchor on the blue. All Jagr has done is lead the Devils in scoring. By a wide margin. At age 41. I stopped finding his exploits ridiculous a long time ago, but c'mon, this is getting silly.
- Odds of the KT drinking Jagermeister for free at our awards ceremony? 1 in 8.
- Barring a miraculous recovery by Steven Stamkos, the Bladerunners are just not going to have the horses to hunt down the leaders. Sure, they might catch one or two of them, plus those that fall off by selling off, but he can't catch everyone ahead of him absent his top sniper. Unless....he trades Stamkos (not going to happen, but it would be cool if it did).
- Chances of the Bladerunners taking a victory lap? With Stamkos healthy, 1 in 15. Without him, 1 in 50.
- Sitting 33 points out of first at WD2 isn't a terrible thing. Being in 7th place that far back is. Without a doubt, the teams biggest weakness is at RW where Chris 'Nylan' Neil is the teams best winger...ugh. Major surgery might improve the teams chances, but far more likely is the GM makes a sell-off timed for the deadline to maximize his return. That's just how he rolls.
- Chances the Fin-heads can catch and eat all the fish swimming ahead of them? 1 in 20.
- The Knuckledraggers are a 'mere' 43 points out of first, and are the first team I would suggest simply cannot win the pool given the standings and their distance back, regardless of what moves they make. Tavares is hurt for the season, Alex Steen is his best LW, and Daniel 'Methuselah' Alfredsson is his top RW. It's over.
- The Scourge have been absent from the race for a month or more, and their roster tells that tale. The Scourge are loaded at prospects, have a tonne of RFAs, and don't need anymore 1st round prd picks. Going to be interesting how his roster sell-off plays out - if it even does, as it looks like there is a real chance the buyers won't have anything he wants or can even use.
- The Kilt-wearing Dirtfarmers have good reason to be more focussed on the FUNBA playoffs than on any FUNHL hardware. The most interesting question to me is; 'what is he going to do with Anze Kopitar'? Kopitar is a weak #1 C, and as such, a weak FP to carry around. The presence of Crosby at least has Kopitar playing a role he can dominate (#2 C), but its hard to see Doug preferring to build his team around a guy who isn't a reliable PPG at a position that all but demands that as a standard. A trade seems likely, but barring that, a replacement at the next draft is the next most likely event.
- The Edge have a nice base to build on with FPs Ovechkin and Kane, but the trade of one of them (both RW) to achieve more balance on the roster seems like a good idea to be pursued in the off-season. Free advice, don't trade either for Kopitar.
- The move to select Drouin as an FP is still defensible (I think he'll be awesome - eventually), but any time a team replaces two FPs at the draft, and then has one of them returned to juniors for the season, you kind of know it is going to get ugly. And it is. Drouin though, has 24-60-84 in just 39 games. Like I said, he'll be awesome - eventually.
Well all the Olympic excitement is over and NOW the real battle begins! 2 Line-ups to the the March 10th FUNHL trade deadline and and the Barbarians with double digit lead with 7 weeks to go. With more buyers than sellers, it shall be an interesting ride!
It's Monday and Line-ups are due...
Please post here.
With the Barbarians building a modest lead and 5 Teams are within 17 points; and then Teams 6-8 are 20 pts behind the 5th place team. Hence the Empire pursuit image as we enter the Olympic break and WD2.
Final drops due Friday,Feb. 14th at 6pm MST. Prov. drops with Week 19 line-ups would be nice but not necessary, yet. WD2 will either be on the 15th or 16th! Since I'll be in Calgary, I hope some of us can Gather for WD2.
The Winter Olympics should be fun! Go Canada!
Please post your line-up here !