Thursday, November 10, 2005
HOCKEY FRIDAY, featuring....
Picturered: Tomas Holmstrom, Terry Sawchuk
Who's hot. Who's not. The ghost of Terry Sawchuk. The best things to eat while watching the game. Plus, the Top 10 Defensemen of all time!
HE'S HOT: TOMAS HOLMSTROM! Holmer is making the most of playing on line 1A with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterburg. 7 goals in his last 5 games. Not content with junk rebound goals anymore, he is starting to take more shots, especially from around the face off circle. Turns out he has a much better shot than anyone thought!
HE' S HOTTER: Peter Forsberg is just on fire! 3 goals and 13 assists in his last 5 games. Comes out of nowhere to pass Eric Staal and Daniel Alfredsson for the league lead in points.
THEY'RE SMOKIN'!: The Detroit Red Wings are still red hot! 29 points (best in the league), their record is 14-2-1
SO ARE THEY!: How about those 'Canes? They've now won 8 in a row!
NOT SO MUCH: The Nashville Preds. The last team in the NHL to be unbeaten, they've now lost 3 of 6!
COLD: The Devils have lost 4 in a row. This is the first time in 20 years New Jersey has been below .500 after 15 games!
COLDER: After setting a torrid coal scoring pace, Jaromir Jagr went goaless in 4 games last week.
FREEZING OVER HADES EVERY GAME NIGHT!: The Blues, Blackhawks, and Jackets are the only teams in the Western Conference with losing records. How bad must they be? The answer: terrible! A lot of teams are fattening their records against these guys.
THE GHOST OF TERRY SAWCHUK
For the last forty years 40 years, Detroit has been known as a death trap for goal tenders. A lot of very talented goalies have wilted under the pressure of playing there. Stars like Glenn Hall and Roger Crozier couldn't take the heat for more than a couple of years. Ditto Cujo. Dominic Hasek was mostly mediocre in his one year there (until he got hot in the playoffs). The number of very talented young goaltenders whose careers tanked in Motown is legendary. Think Tim Cheveldae. Even Mike Vernon struggled mightily there, till he won the fans over taking on the much bigger Patrick Roy in the infamous brawl with the Avalanche. Vernie then went on to backstop the Wings to their first Cup in 40 years.
So why all the pressure playing in Detroit? Simple, the ghost of Terry Sawchuk. In North America's most rabid and knowledgeable hockey town, only the names Howe and Yzerman are more revered than Sawchuck. Sawchuk was considered the best goalie in NHL history, and won 5 Stanley Cups. Red Wings fans have very long memories. Sawchuk is the standard that all goalies in Hockeytown are held up against. Tough to stand up to best of all time. Roy Edwards managed for a few years. But really, only Greg Stephan managed to prosper in Motown for any given length of time.
Which makes Chris Osgood a special kind of guy. Traded out of Detroit a couple of years ago, he was actually dying to get back. Excited about it! You have to be tremendously laid back and thick skinned to thrive in Detroit. Osgood and his goaltending partner, Manny Legace, fit that bill to a T. Both have very similar personalities. They are close friends, and each is the ultimate team player. Which at least gives them a chance to survive Sawchuk's ghost. But, the jury is always out in Detroit!
WHAT' TO EAT DURING THE GAME?
When I was a kid, back in the days before UHF television, you only got to see 1 game a week on TV. HOCKY NIGHT IN CANADA was the only show in town. You always saw either Toronto or Montreal. Which means you only got to see the Wings play if they were playing one of the Canadian teams, and if that was the featured game. On those special nights, there was a ritual in the Spurrier household. Early light dinner. Then dad would go into the family room and build a fire in the fireplace. Mom would set out a bowl of apples, along with the apple slicer and salt shakers. Then she would fire up the popcorn popper. This fare was served with either Vernor's over ice, or cocoa. We would then spend the evening listening to the dulcet sounds of Foster Hewitt as he broadcast the game. To this day, there is nothing I like better than popcorn, apples, and Vernors during a hockey game.
TOP 10 DEFENSEMEN OF ALL TIME
1. BOBBY ORR- The most amazing player I ever saw. He revolutionized the game of hockey. Watching Bobby's end to end rushes, his fluid skating, his ability to thread a pass through an opening nobody else would even see was just breathtaking to watch. Possessed not only of a blazing slapshot, but a powerful, extremely accurate wrist shot, he was an offensive force. Even so, his speed and ice awareness meant he seldom got caught caught up ice. As a defenseman, he was always in position to make a play. 8 straight Norris Trophies, 2 Conn Smythe Trophies, 3 Hart Trophies, 2 Stanley Cups. In 1971 he was an amazing +124. Complete Bio
2. DOUG HARVEY - Maybe the most complete player to ever play the game. He was a tenacious, physical defenseman, a great shot blocker. But he also was as good as any defenseman (except Orr) in history at leading a counter attack or quarterbacking a powerplay. Just his presence on the ice intimidated people. 11 straight years an All-Star, 10 first team. 7 Norris Trophies in 8 years. 6 Stanley Cups. Complete Bio
3. EDDIE SHORE - probably the first defenseman in history capable of completely taking over a game. He was tough, mean as hell, and played hockey with a 'hell bent for leather' style that earned him the nickname "old blood and guts". His first year in the NHL he set a record for penalty minutes, and also scored 12 goals. He is the only defensman in history to have won the Hart trophy four times. After his playing career, he remained in hockey and had a long, successful career as an owner and executive in the AHL. 4 Hart trophies, Lester Patrick trophy, 7 times first team All-Star. 2 Stanley Cups. Complete Bio
4. DENIS POTVIN - Led the Islanders to 4 straight Stanley Cups. A big, bruising, punishing, physical defenseman, could drop the gloves with the best. But he was also a great skater and goal scorer. He was the first defensman to reach 1,000 points. He also scored 56 goals and 124 assists in his playoff career. Calder trophy , 3 Norris Trophies, five time first team All-Star. Complete Bio
5. LARRY ROBINSON - Known as "Big Bird" (the physical resemblance was striking), Robinson holds the NHL record for consecutive seasons in the playoffs, twenty! A very steady player who played the body, was always in good position, controlled the corners, and moved the puck well, he could contribute on offense too. 6 Stanley Cups (plus one as a coach), 2 Norris Trophies, Conn Smythe Trophy, 6 time first or second team All-Star Complete Bio
6. VIACHESLOV (SLAVA) FETISOV - Considered the best defenseman in the world during the 80's, Fetisov is one of the most respected men, both as a player and person, in the history of hockey. A 9 time All-Star in the Soviet Union and 5 time Best Defenseman at the Senior world championships, he played on 9 World or Olympic Championship teams. He didn't arrive in the NHL until age 31, where he was three times an All-Star, and won two Stanley Cups. He won another Stanley Cup as an assistant coach for New Jersey. He is currently Minister of Sports for the government of Russia. Complete Bio
7. RAY BOURQUE- He played 22 seasons, and he was a star from the very first, when he was both Rookie of the year and and First Team All-Star. An outstanding skater and puck handler, his skills at quarterbacking the powerplay rival those of Orr or Harvey. He was selected to the All-Star game 17 times, but didn't win a Stanley Cup until his 22nd and last season. Bourque was a great two way player and very durable. The legendary Scottie Bowman said of him "I always felt Bourque was very similar to (Denis) Potvin. Both were great passers, had a terrific feel for the game and they were strong. Nobody ever would push them around." Only Orr and Harvey have more Norris Trophies than Bourque's five. Ray also has a Calder Trophy, a King Clancy Trophy, and a Lester Patrick Trophy to his credit. Complete Bio
8. PIERRE PILOTE - A small man, but one of the most feared defensemen in the NHL. He once knocked out both Maurice and Henri Richard in the same altercation! Pilote was a superb two way player, and very durable. At one stretch, he played in 376 straight games! He won a Stanley cup in his first year as Captain of the Blackhawks. He won three successive Norris Trophies, and was an All-Star 7 straight years. Complete Bio
9. BILL GADSBY - Gordie Howe once said of Gadsby, "he could skate faster backwards than most players could forward". A perennial All-Star, he played the game with reckless abandon for 20 years. He received over 800 stitches in his career (he was insured, and got $5 a stitch), an indicator of his style of play. Probably the best defenseman never to win the cup. Complete Bio
10. NICKLAS LIDSTROM - A superb rusher with a powerful shot and excellent puck handling skills. Runs a superb powerplay. He isn't a physical player, but knows how to put a body on someone and finish a check. His hockey intuition is incredible, he always anticipates the play. He has three Norris Trophies to go along with with a Conn Smythe. 8 straight All-Star games, 6 first team. Three Stanley Cups. So far! Complete Bio
Part of the problem is that we don't see hardly anything of the eastern teams here.
But I promise I will mention the Sens., and Daniel Alfredsson in particular, next Friday!.