Minor Meal Ticket

The last time I wrote, the NHL regular season was still in session, and the baseball season wasn’t even in diapers yet.  At this point, however, the sports world has ramped up the energy and it is by far the best time to be a sports fan – especially for me.  While my hockey brethren give me plenty of crap for it, I will always admit – baseball is my first love.  I was never very good at it, and it definitely took a back seat to hockey, which i found I had much more of a knack for.  Yet, every once in a while I will comment on how I would give up playing hockey if I could go back, take baseball more seriously, and have kept playing through high school.

But that isn’t the focus of this post; no, its on something even better about the upcoming summer and all the baseball and hockey yet left to play.  For those of us who are fans of the minor leagues and all it’s glory, I am talking about ballpark food!  Yes indeed, there is fewer places on earth then a minor league ballpark to try some twisted delicacy.  In fact, I am probably writing this two months too soon, as I will be going to a White Caps game on my birthday, and I will most definitely be ordering the 5/3rd Burger with my brother.  If you have never seen this beast, watch Man vs. Food – Baseball Edition for details.  I will not be attempting the challenge, but I want to try to finish that thing with a couple other people helping!

This is just one example of things you find in minor league stadiums.  That previously mention M vs. F episode also centered in on Charleston, SC, and their team, the Riverdogs.  Honoring the “dog” in that name, the stadium has 3 different concession stands dedicated to various forms of hotdogs – and they are quite various.  Chicago style, Pittsburgh style, New York style, chili-cheese hotdogs the size of – nope, not giving you an opportunity to make this gross!

Recently on MiLB.com, Ben Hill wrote an article on the Richmond Flying Squirrels and their year-long promotion with the Eastern League.  The team will honor their opponent’s home town by offering a delicacy from that area.  The range of things served includes funnel cake with marinara sauce (yuk), crab cake sandwich’s (yum), and The Pittsburgher: roast beef, coleslaw, french fries, and cheese on a burger bun (AWESOME).

I wrote last year on the intricacies of the minor leagues, and this is just one example of the fun you can have their.  At any given park, there is something unique and interesting to find, which is half the fun of going to the game.  I know I will visit at least one White Caps game this year, but if at all possible, there are five other teams within driving distance I can go see, which begs me the question: what other things can we find?  More to come this summer!

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Potential NHL Team Wanted in…Milwaukee???

As a writer, you can sometimes go through long spells where you don’t have good ideas (writer’s block), you don’t have the time (job and life), or like me you’re in school and the fact you’re already doing a bunch of busy work for clowns who make more than you do doesn’t trend into writing for pleasure (and all my English professors would burn me up for this long, run on sentence right now).

But in the absence of writing, ideas do suddenly come to mind, one of which has been on my burner for a while now, beckoned by none other than the start of baseball season and Spring Training.  I will forever be a hockey player and it will always stand as number one for me, but baseball is near and dear to my heart and takes seat 1A in that equation.  I am a fantasy baseball geek, pouring over magazines and scouting reports all season long because to me, fantasy baseball is like a chess match, where a subtle move can make or break your chances of winning.  Sitting in my classes, while a professor drones on about god-knows-what, I make up mock lineups and drafts.  Being the biased fan I am, I usually have about 4 or 5 Milwaukee Brewers on my team, this season more so with Zack Greinke arriving in town.  I have been to Milwaukee and I love the town and the passion the entire state of Wisconsin has for its teams.  The Brewers have not been very good in years (barring the playoff appearance a few years ago), but the Packers just won the Super Bowl, the Wisconsin Badgers compete for titles in nearly all major college sports, and the Bucks – never mind, basketball isn’t a real sport.

So what does this have to do with hockey?  Well last Tuesday, me and my buddy Rick are sitting at the ice arena watching a Thrashers game on T.V. and he says “man, look at all those empty seats, no one there cares”.  The Thrashers might not be the number one team in the NHL, but they have a young, exciting team on the rise, and even when they have made the playoffs, no one in Atlanta really gives a shit.  The talk went to the possibility of Atlanta folding and moving to Winnipeg, which anyone who knows hockey would drool at the thought of, especially those in Winnipeg.  Quebec just built an NHL ready arena and has made trips to Long Island to build a case for moving the [pathetically managed] Islanders to Quebec.  Lastly, the Phoenix Coyotes are in a major lawsuit regarding their staying in Scottsdale and the millions they have lost every year since moving to the desert.

So many teams with so much talent, and no one cares.  Bettman doesn’t want to put another team back in Canada, forging ahead in an effort to get U.S. viewership up to that of the other major sports.  My question is: why has the town of Milwaukee never come up?  Wisconsin is a breeding ground for hockey players, with the Wisconsin Badgers being one of the best in the NCAA.  Climate wise, you can’t get much better hockey weather then a winter in cheese land.  The town of Milwaukee already has the AHL Admirals, who are a formidable team as minor league teams go.  So why is there never any talk of putting a team in Wisconsin?

Doing a little research, the only legit answers I could find were A) too small a market and B) too close to other more popular NHL markets.

Cop-outs, plain and simple.  The state of Wisconsin has proven that its fan base is loyal and solid, or else the Brewers would’ve been gone years ago.  Even at their worst, fans routinely came out to the game.  Green Bay is right next to the last circle of hell in the winter time, and yet fans continued to show up, in the bad times, and now in the REALLY good.  Even the Bucks are a contending NBA team.  All this gibberish of small markets not making it is irrelevant when considering the NHL, because all over the league there are small markets with good NHL teams: Carolina, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Nashville, New Jersey, Buffalo, etc., so I don’t buy the “not enough people to make sense” argument.

The second argument is that Milwaukee is too close to other big name markets.  I don’t see how this is a bad thing!  Picture the border rivalry you could build between Minnesota and Wisconsin (who incidentally played each other in an outdoor version of the Winter Classic for a huge outpouring of fans).  Too close to Chicago?  That’s what makes the Brewers v. Cubs games so fun – one could take the train up and see either team in either city.  Putting a team in Milwaukee and shifting the divisions to have them in the west would build lots of intriguing match-ups.  Take Nashville and stick them in the southeast division, which is much closer for all these teams to play one another, and move Atlanta to Milwaukee, placing them in the central division.  Tell me that doesn’t make some sort of sense.

Maybe I am biased because I really do like the city of Milwaukee and I have been a Brewers fan for my whole life.  Maybe I just want to see an NHL team relocate to an area where people actually CARE if there’s a team or not, instead of being exciting, talented, and performing at the top of its game for people who don’t give a rats ass (I’m looking at you Phoenix).  And yes, I’m sure there are other places for a team to go in the U.S. that could offer more money and more people.  But as I have tried to make clear, money and market don’t always make the best fit.  If hockey wants to survive, the NHL needs to look at the places where the tradition and foundation already lies, and this is especially true if the NHL wants to be a success in the U.S.

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Giving this a shot

I just found out I can post to my blog on my iPod touch. Cool, although using the keyboard is far more difficult. If I were more important this would make more sense but I’m me so it’s probably not logical unless I’m really board haha. Later!

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In The Doldrums

(First, an amendment to my last post:  Nabokov get claimed on waivers by the Islanders, and then refused to report…more as this situation continues)

For someone that plays a sport whose season is based almost entirely during the winter, it seems backwards that I am continually wishing for the months to speed by till spring gets here.  Don’t get me wrong, I love hockey and will play year round as long as my schedule allows it, but I am not a fan of Michigan in the winter.

Just because you have AWD, doesn't mean the roads care much

My fellow blogger Rick and I were discussing this very fact and it occurred to me just how deep the sloth can run in the winter months.  Rick blogs quite often, far more then myself, and even he said he has hit a spot in the past month where he just didn’t want to write anything – lack of content, busy schedule, and a growing writers block.  I too have had the same problem, and I started to think about how much more writing I did in the summer months, when I still wanted to be outside enjoying the weather.  What occurred to me is just how far down the veins of a depressing winter can get to people and how hard it is to really motivate yourself to do, well, anything!  I feel bad for my dog, who would love nothing more then to go out for a walk, but trying having a 100lb. Golden Retriever pull you along like a rag doll on sidewalks that have ceased to be shoveled anymore.  Just going to class at this point is a chore, because you have to find a space in a parking garage that is jammed packed with clowns that cant seem to park straight once there’s snow on the ground.  News flash – snow on the lines doesn’t give you the green light to park like an asshole, I drive a large SUV and I can get it in the lines better then half the people with Honda Civics, so don’t tell me “Oh, I could see the spots”.

How many of us try and make a New Years resolution to get back in shape after the holiday’s?  Resolve to work harder at school, job, fitness, family, etc.?  The fact is that, for many of us, it’s unrealistic because the dreariness of the outside world keeps us couped up indoors, not wanting to face it.  It’s far easier to stay inside and keep warm then bundle up, still get cold and wet, and be more miserable.  God, I’m depressing myself right now.  The fact is that in Michigan, you almost know that between the months of December till late March (and sometimes April), your going to be dragging ass.  Energy levels are low, motivation is nil, and trying to stay warm without your gas bill being 300 dollars is the most daunting task of all.  Sound familiar?

Here’s the great thing though – once we make it through this discouraging season, we are treated to some of the best summers of anywhere in the country.  Florida has it good right now, but it’s sweat soup come June.  Las Vegas is a hell of a place to be in December, but come summer, your better off turning a blow dryer on high and pointing it at your face.  In Michigan, we have steady temperatures, and abundance of lakes and beaches, some of the most fun golf courses in the country, and being that it is Michigan, you can still shoot the puck around all summer long – the ice doesn’t melt in the arena.

I thought I’d write this to give some perspective to myself as to my state of mind right now, but also to remind us all (and myself) what is coming down the road.  We live through these winters because the reward at the end is fantastically great.  That first warm weekend in South Haven when Captain Lou’s opens up and you can sit outside, drink a beer, eat some dinner, and watch boats go by is something you can appreciate only if you have to go through winter hell first.  I know I won’t get any sympathy from the rest of the mid-west or north-east, and I shouldn’t because they have all dealt with as much or more B.S. then anyone, but maybe on some level, those people can say “yeah, we’ve had it worse, but I at least know what your talking about”.

Looking at the calendar, January is just about over and soon enough, we’ll be looking at the final bad month to get through before we can start looking down the home stretch.  I certainly guarantee, while I may not have the moxie to accomplish much of anything right now, the end of winter can reinvigorate even the deadest of souls.

Keep your eyes on the prize my friends.

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Redwings sign(?) Nabokov; Tim Thomas Continues to Make Getting Old Look Fun

Halfway through winter – or somewhat close – and I can honestly say I am ready for a slight warm-up.  Not that I don’t enjoy my winter sports, but I’m terrified to see my next heating bill, and I want to be able to go out and do things.  ANYTHING but sit in the apartment and rot.  But what better way to eat that time up then to post something new, right?

Two separate subjects, one that’s been on my mind for a while, the other we happened to be talking about last night.  First the new:  The Detroit Redwings have signed Evgeni Nabokov to a 1 year, $250,000 dollar deal.  However, he still needs to get through waivers to be eligible, which is quite unlikely.  In one of the weirder (and in my opinion, dumber) rules of the NHL, if a player is making a comeback, he has to go through waivers, which means that the team who originally tried to sign him may never get him (check this article out for a few examples).

Ok, first things first:  I asked Rick Shanley and his goalie buddy how this makes sense for Detroit.  Howard is obviously the starter, something Nabokov may not want to deal with since he was the man in net for so long in San Jose.  But even as a backup, why get him now, it isn’t like Detroit is in need of a saving, they’re doing just fine, and if Osgood is out for the year, Joey MacDonald is a capable backup.  The guys answered my questions with some scenarios I had thought of: one, Detroit signs him and keeps him from going to another Western Conference contender who could do some damage with a solid goalie.  Second, he comes cheap, so even if Osgood is out, who wouldn’t like Howard-Nabokov as their two-headed monster for the price they get him?  The Redwings would have as dangerous a duo as anyone. 

So that’s one thing going on right now, but I am sure that story will get even more interesting with the whole waiver wire bullshit.  Right now all the Redwings can do is speculate about what they’ll do if they get “Nabby” – and that’s a BIG if.

Now, onto another topic, one I’m sure that, if you have followed any hockey this year, you know who Tim Thomas is.  Folks, I have found my inspiration, not because he is an NHL goaltender, but because he obviously has proved that the whole Benjamin Button disease Brad Pitt gets in that ridiculously long movie exists.  Tim Thomas get older by age, yet somehow his body gets younger!  Timmy, draw some blood, test that stuff out, bottle it and market it!

Thomas’ numbers this year are what you get playing NHL 11 at rookie level – he leads or is tied in every major statistical category of goaltending, and second in wins by only one.  Earlier on this year, Thomas’s diving, highway robbery glove save is probably the winner of save-of-the-century.  Oh, did I mention he is doing all this on a surgically repaired hip?  Tim Thomas is an anomaly in the hockey world, a guy who isn’t supposed to do what he’s doing, but just does.  Even though he won the 2009 Vezina Trophy, he was hurting so bad last year that he eventually gave the reins over to Tukka Rask as the starter, and hockey pundits everywhere were going “see, it was a fluke, he’s too old, and there is no way he was going to repeat”.

This year, they earned a fat, punch in the face from Thomas.  He is playing better than his Vezina winning season and doing so after having hip surgery which required him to adjust his “style” of play – basically, he can’t drop and butterfly as much, so he rolls around like a pillbug (you know, those rollie-pollie gray bug things?) and makes saves without any actual style at all.  To further this idea, Pascal Dupuis of the Penguins was asked what the book on a guy like Thomas is, to which he replied: “Do you have one? Seriously, do you, because I would really like to read it”.  That said, there is no book or scouting report – you can’t pick your spots or find a weaknesses because he defies all norms of hockey.  In an age where guys from Finland have goalie coaches their whole life, to the products of Quebec that consistently produce the Brodeur’s and Roy’s, in walks Thomas.  A guy from Flint, MI who likes to hunt and fish, and looks like a stack of boxes more than an athlete, and just happens to play hockey.

I call him my inspiration because regardless of playing adult rec leagues the rest of my life, he’s proving you can still have fun and not have to hang’em up because of age.  Thomas is making 36 look like the new 26, and that gives me hope that if I take care of myself, I can continue to have fun and be active much later in life.  Plus, if a 36-year-old can do it, then none of us have any excuses to bitch now, do we?

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Welcome to the Family

It has been forever and a day since I posted anything new
up, but the long break has been good. I found myself with
both writers block and a general lack of motivation to sit down and
write anything. In that time, I also found myself doubting my
will to keep playing hockey, something I used to love with a
passion. After one particularly bad skate, I was convinced:
time to quit, time to hang up the pads and just tapout. I
took it too seriously, and to me, any little failure was magnified
in my mind.

Amazing what a little time off and being lazy will do

I took a couple of weeks off from skating and just relaxed,
started a new job (at a hockey store, ironically), and finished up
my second to last semester of classes. I went on vacation to
Florida, worked out a little, drank a lot, and really paid no
attention to writing or to hockey. It was in this time,
though, that I was reinvigorated by a number of small, seemingly
insignificant experiences that brought back my motivation and
helped me realize why it is we skate.

Since starting work at the hockey shop, I have been immersed in hockey, but the guys I work with (all previously friends of mine as it is), that’s not all they talk about, it doesn’t control their life. If they have a bad game, they don’t let it consume them, they don’t doubt
themselves. They come to work the next day, and talk about what they did after the game, what they’re doing tonight, the game that was, the girl in the stands, etc. Basically, they play because its fun, its camaraderie. The same goes for the guys I skate with on Sundays – a mainly core group of guys in all age brackets skating for 90 minutes for the fun of it, no one keeping tabs on who did bad or good, just playing to play.  Afterwards, the bar upstairs is populated with all of us talking about whatever and drinking a few cold ones as a after-skate treat. In the last month, I took it all too seriously, thought every time someone took a shot, it was going to go in, started thinking about every mistake I could make, and generally stopped having fun… Last night, I got asked to play goal for a team full of guys I didn’t know, who didn’t know me…we lost, 3-1 (at least one I’d like to have back), and we did so with only seven skaters. The goalie I filled in for plays on the WMU club
team and is definitely better than me, but the guys on the team didn’t care – they were happy to have someone fill in and take time out of their night to play for them. Afterwards, we went upstairs, had a few beers and some pizza, and talked about nothing. It was then that I realized something, something that you can’t get in nearly any other adult league team sport – ice hockey is a family, and a close-knit one at that, and I’m happy
to find myself a part of it, even if I did have my doubts. You meet so many people through the network of the leagues, and at any given time someone could call you asking you to play. You see guys up at the bar with the given team they played for that night, and
you talk about the game, and if their skating with you that weekend. You joke about the goal they scored on you, or the save you made on them, and its all forgotten after that.
There’s no grudges, no animosity, because none of us are going to the NHL, we’re just playing to be with friends and have a good time, get some exercise – and yeah, have some bragging rights over someone else, at least for a week.

I forgot all this, and it took taking a little time off to realize that it does no good to beat
yourself up over something like that. Hockey is more than just a sport, it’s a family of brothers (and sisters, let me not discriminate!), getting together to shoot around on the ice, to forget about school, jobs, bills, etc., and just have a little while to be away from the real world and just hangout. It’s the same thing many of us did in the summer when we would put the nets up in the road and play street hockey till it got dark out, or the pond that you go out to and play till it gets dark, only to have someone turn their car lights on and risk running out the battery just so you could have one more hour to keep going. I
am truly glad I remembered all this, before I gave up on something I really do love. Even more so, I don’t want to give up the friendships with the guys I skate with, the people I’ve grown to know well, even if only at the rink and nowhere else. There’s a picture I now have on my desk, a small paragraph that reminds me why I keep playing. It says:

“From the moment we
laced up our first pair of skates, we were hooked. The
digging, the dangles, the top-shelfers, and the tilts.
Morning, night, and in our sleep, we play because once we take the
ice, we forget that anything else exists. No problems, no
hassles. Only the hits and hat-tricks, one-timers, slappers,
sick-saucers & backhanded toe-drags. We play for the
glory of the best game on earth. We play because we are
privileged to be able to. We
play for the greater game.”

I am glad to be

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Something Old, Something New

For whatever reason, an article I wrote and posted about 3 to 4 years ago has suddenly been picking up steam on the internet.  I randomly receive comments from people who either adamantly hate it, or ones that cheer me on.  I’m posting the link to it here and I would love it if you read it and let me know your opinion.  I’m just amazed that 3+ years later it is still creating a stir, so I wonder what you all think too.  Thanks!


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Fight On, Fight On For Western!!

Oh, today is a good day.  I don’t care if its only 10 games into the CCHA season, for the first time in 10 years I have optimism about WMU sports.  In todays USCHO.com national rankings, WMU is now No. 17, just behind No. 16 MSU, who they just got done sweeping over the weekend.  “So what?”, you may ask, “its number 17, and the season has barely started!”.  Well, let me give you a little background on WMU and its athletics in general.

Every school knows that the big-ticket draw is football.  The Broncos used to have a decent football team, but has never been known as a powerhouse program.  This year, the program seems to have regressed, and with yet another defeat to hated rival Central Michigan, people seem to have lost interest.  Waldo Stadium rarely has what one would call an “impressive” crowd.

Basketball at one time was a flagship program, even making it to the Big Dance one year, bringing WMU’s name to the national front.  Of course, this was only one year, and basketball has become all but an afterthought here, especially after the recent graduation and departure of MAC All-Everything player David Kool.

Baseball here has no following – sorry, but no one cares here, much to my chagrin.

Then there’s hockey.  Western Michigan hockey has always faced some of the very best competition in the nation – Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Miami of Ohio, etc.  These are not po-dunk teams, these are the best of the best, year after year.  That said, Western’s efforts in the CCHA against the best have usually fallen short, and the team has been a cellar dweller for much of the past 10 years…

…and yet the fans continue to come?

How do we explain it – a team that constantly finishes towards the bottom has sellouts and a packed house nearly every game?  We owe this much to the fact that Lawson Ice Arena is rated one of the hardest – if not THE hardest – arenas to play in all of college hockey.  The “Lawson Lunatics” as the student section is known is one of the most raucous, hostile, and passionate fan bases in hockey.  Finally, this year, with a new coach and a new attitude, they are giving life to the hockey team and to the fans, which combined make a devastatingly dangerous and beautiful pairing.  New coach Jeff Blashill has instilled confidence and potency back in this program, something it has lacked for years.  Naming Ian Slater captain has also proved smart, as he is as charismatic as he is talented (seriously, you should see the artwork this guy has done on him – how a college kid can afford that much ink work beats me!).  Lastly, as good as goalie Riley Gill was last year and in the past, his predecessor Nick Pisellini has proved to be even better, giving the Broncos reliability and strength behind them every night.  The team as a whole is showing that everyone in the lineup, defense and wingers alike, can score on any given night.

So a sweep of MSU is impressive, yes, but it certainly isn’t the end of the work for the Broncos.  There is still a lot of hockey left and one series doesn’t make a season.  Let’s not forget, though, that the Broncos also tied heavily favored Notre Dame early on when everyone expected a blowout.  If the Broncos can keep up the momentum from the MSU series, they have a chance to make real noise this season.  They will need all the help they can get against also newly ranked Ferris State this coming weekend, and after that a home matchup against No. 4 Miami (eek!).

The bottom line is that at Western Michigan, you get used to mediocrity with any of your sports programs.  Kalamazoo has never really been known to have dominance in the sports field, but this year gives reason for hope.  Even if everyone says football is the flagship of any college athletics department, I firmly believe that WMU is a hockey school, and Kalamazoo is a hockey town.  This is the year to make everyone believe it.  Fight on, fight on for Western!

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The Handbook

Really no introduction necessary, I found these rules a number of years ago to be quite helpful in my outlook on life (thanks to Matt Good and his book, “At Last There Is Nothing Left To Say ” for these phrases…the list has been cut down to the ones I found most applicable to life):

Rule #1: Morality extends no further than acceptability.

You will go as far as you’re willing to go.  One man’s evil is another man’s amusement park

Rule #2: Ignorance belittles those around you more then it does yourself.

Ignorance and the Ebola virus are comparable in three respects:

1. They’re both invisible

2. They’re both infectious

3. They both kill

Rule #3: Everybody gets a shit-kicking.

Maybe just to ensure that you don’t spend your life thinking you’re better than those who get shit-kicked everyday of their lives.

Rule #4: Death is the working class’s luxury

Some people take vacations.  Others spend their lives working towards a prolonged leave of absence.

Rule #5:  The past is a minefield.

Follow only those footsteps that don’t end at the edge of large holes.  To ignore the past is to prolong its mistakes.

Rule #6: Supreme beings and pets are alike.

They make you feel better when no one else will listen.  Strangely enough, neither can respond…The need for something more then yourself ultimately diminishes the need for yourself.

Rule #7: Freedom is just a word.

If freedom is fraught with regulations, then why not just call it “regulated freedom” and stop trying to convince yourself otherwise?

And finally, my favorite, a rule I will always live by:

Rule #8: No one remembers who you weren’t, just who you were.

The realization of your true self far outweighs the consequences of unpopularity.

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Back to Action – Suprises of the New NHL Season

Those of you who though that the new NHL season would start the way it has, raise your hand.  If you have your hand up, you are full of it!  The new season has been pretty topsy turvy so far, and to be honest I hope it continues on this path.  Lets get right to it and start looking at some of the more startling aspects thus far:

1. New York Islanders tied for 1st in Atlantic – Josh Bailey shows his 1st round pick talent:

Not that I am unhappy about this one, but when you have a history like the Isles have had recently, this is not exactly a gimmie.  If you look at the players the Islanders lost before the season even really started, its even that much more amazing: Mark Streit (No. 1 D), Kyle Okposo (1st round, 1st line winger), John Tavares (No. 1 center), and it still remains to be seen if Rick “Glass Man” DiPietro can stay healthy.  So how are they doing it?  One reason is Josh Bailey, the Islanders #1 pick in the 2008 draft. Thus far he has 7 points in the first 5 games and is showing he can be the player the Isles expected, drafting him 9th overall.  One other reason has been the tremendous play of Dwayne Roloson who at 41 is showing no signs of age and is making life in net much easier for the Isles while waiting for DiPietro to mend to 100%

2. Toronto Maple Leafs – Undefeated??

This one is shocking considering where the Leafs finished last season, missing the playoffs for the 5th consecutive year.  Key acquisitions of last season seem to be paying off in the form of Phil Kessel, Clarke MacArthur, and J.S. Giguere, but still, the Northeast division is no cake walk, and I am REALLY skeptical of the Leafs maintaining this.

3. Martin Brodeur, Marty Turco, Michael Neuvirth, Kari Lehtonen…The goalie world is upside down right now.

Brodeur has recently shown to be human as he is 1-4, although the Devils have pretty much been God awful to start the season.  Turco still seems to be adjusting to life in the Windy City, but he should settle in eventually.  Lehtonen will not lead the league in wins, because once the injury bug bites him (and it will), the Stars will be left scrambling.  Neuvirth may just take this job and run away with it because if Seymeon Varlamov cant stay healthy, the Caps have seemingly found the right man for the job.  All in all, a lot of goalies are putting up very surprising numbers early on (see: Tim Thomas, Anders Lindback, guys mentioned above) and it will be interesting to see how the trend levels itself out.

So those are three surprises early on that I personally think stick out amongst others, but as stated earlier, the season is still in diaper
s and it will be a long ride here on out!

Now, for my K-Zoo areas guys, a little HHL post game recap:

The white team was pretty dominant early on with the “A**hole Line” comprised of Billy Marks, Trevor McLeod, and Drew Polak, while just for kicks Matt Comer was back on D…this grouping was obviously a computer error because there is no way they should have all been on the same team.  I, however, only retract this statement when Doug Hattan and myself switch sides and they were in front of me.  The afternoon was fairly evenly matched with both sides getting a win until Polak was pulled down on a breakaway and had a penalty shot against Joe Law, which he put low-post for the win…the final half of the afternoon was a 0-0 tie till less then 5 minutes left, Gary Langbo scored a “beautiful” goal, having whiffed on a backhander that slowly and calmly slid under Law’s pad.  All in all, though, it was a fairly even day with some good goals and good defense on both sides, with lots of guys getting good ice time.  Till next time!

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