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I'll See You On The Ice
by Michele Christopher
It’s a distinct smell. A combination of stale popcorn, fresh pain, artificial ice, testosterone, motor oil and sweat socks. There’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world, the only place you can find it is in an arena, a hockey arena.
That’s right children; Hockey is back and the entire country of Canada sighs in relief, while some Americans look confused until you tell them it’s ICE Hockey, and then they just look bored.
Today I want to talk about the Big Boys; the ones who have paid their dues and made it to the big show, the National Hockey League (NHL). The
Love ‘em or Hate ‘em here’s my take on the prospects:
You like me! You Really Really Like Me!!! (Top 4 picks)
CAROLINA HURRICANES: Carolina has a solid core of veterans, bolstered by younger faster players and has solid goal keeping from Ward. Last year’s Stanley Cup champions are looking to repeat this year. No one has done it since Detroit in 1998-1999, which doesn’t seem like that long ago, but then again – I live in Toronto we haven’t won since 1967 – my perception may be a tad skewed.
OTTAWA SENATORS: These are my boys. After their HUMILIATING loss in the playoffs last season (against the SABERS) they made some changes. Got rid of their goalie and lured Gerber away from the Canes, good move. Defensively they’re solid, but have a big hole to fill as they traded Chara (who’s freaking huge and a great defensive player) to Boston. Offensively they are going to have to start getting production out of their bottom three lines and quit relying on their captain (Alfie) to do everything.
DETROIT RED WINGS: They finished first in the Western Conference and then were eliminated in the first round by *pause* The Mighty Ducks (a team that no matter how well they play, I cannot take seriously). They may have lost two major players (Shanahan to the Rangers and Yzerman retired) but they have strong players in Lindstrom, Schneider and Chelios. Those boys are going to have to step up and lead by example. The big weakness is in goal, Hasek. Apparently he’s healthy but I’m sure something real or imaginary will happen and he’ll pull his groin again. Isn’t that every mans dream? Osgood, the back-up goalie is well, let’s just say when he’s good he’s very very good and when he’s bad, I could be playing goal and no one would notice.
CALGARY FLAMES: Damn Ducks knocked them out too. They’ve got a new coach, less dead weight and a faster team. Kiprusoff was the top goalie in the league last year and with Iginla on defense, teams better keep their heads up and sticks down.
The Sneaky Freaky Mothers Sneaking in from Behind (Teams to Watch)
BUFFALO SABRES: No big names, a break-out goalie, solid production from all lines and positions, and a freaky ability to knock bigger and better teams on their asses.
ATLANTA THRASHERS: I like their name, even if they are talking about a bird. They missed the playoffs last year, but they have my “MOO” on the team (Marian Hossa, one of the up and coming stars of the NHL) and they are a fast young team, perfect fit for the new NHL.
SAN JOSE SHARKS: a breath away from the Stanley Cup finals last season, they have two solid goalies and Joe Thorton.
ANAHEIM MIGHTY DUCKS: It PAINS me to say this, but they have a shot. They had a great post season and really need a new name.
But for now you’re only someone that I used to love... (Das SUXORS)
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: They make my head hurt, seriously. Their captain said after their defeat on Wednesday, “It’s tough to lose the home opener, but I don’t think it’s as bad as the score sheet says.” DUDE! I watched the game, it was WORSE. No defense and no offense. The only reason that the score was 4-1 instead of 20-1 was the goalie. Raycroft stood on his head. We like him, the rest of the team... I fart in their general direction. Take responsibility, stop making excuses and play the fekking game.
MONTREAL CANADIENS: Zut alors! Last season they showed flashes of brilliance mixed in with a merde load of the, how do you say, keystone cops. There is always hope though, I notice that 80’s fashions are coming back into style; maybe their dynasty will come back too.
COLORADO AVALANCHE: Blake is gone (Kings), Theodore couldn’t stop a cantaloupe last year, lots of untested players and ones who haven’t “lived up to the hype”, yeah I’m looking at you Arnason. It’s either going to be really good or spectacularly bad. I’m rooting for the latter.
EDMONTON OILERS: Internal conflict, all the big name players deserting after the failed Stanley Cup run... yeah, um, no.
Any questions? Any answers? Anybody got a mint?
Deb is Canadian, which makes her an authority on hockey and poutine.
*we don't all get to ride in deb's time machine -ed.