Michael Finewax

The Week Ahead

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The Hall of Fame

Friday, December 27, 2013


I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas and here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year. For those in the Greater Toronto area, spreading eastward towards the Maritimes, as well as in Maine and the Northeast United States, I hope you have power and heat in your home as that was one bad ice storm. I was without power for 49 hours and it wasn’t pretty but it certainly was cold as the temperature in the house eventually fell to 39 degrees. Fortunately I stayed at two of my brother’s houses as they had power.

 

While this is a fantasy column, with the ballots supposed to be done by the end of December for the Baseball Hall of Fame, I thought I would comment on the Hockey Hall of Fame’s lack of inclusion of the two greatest teams in North American sports, Team Canada 1972 and the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team.

 

The most famous event in sports in Canada was the eight game series against the Soviet Union in 1972. The series was supposed to be an easy eight game sweep by the Canadians but the Soviets quickly showed they were every bit as talented as Canada as they won the opener 7-3 in Montreal and were 2-1-1 in Canada before heading home for the last four games in Moscow.

 

The Soviets won Game 5 and the heroics of Paul Henderson, who scored the game-winning goals in the last three games for Canada made him a national hero back home. A little known fact is that the 1972 team was the first to use Team before the name of the country, a practice that that continues to this day. The whole country shut down for the September 28th game that began at 12:30pm in the East.

 

The unbelievable upset for the 1980 American Olympic hockey team is just as great in the States. It was named the top moment of the 20th Century by Sports Illustrated and it brought relevance to hockey in the United States as plenty of kids wanted to emulate Jim Craig (pictured above), Mike Eruzione, Neal Broten and the rest of the young Americans. The upset win over the Soviet Union (a common theme in this article) was remade into a couple of movies with the movie Miracle starring Kurt Russell as the great Herb Brooks.

 

The point is that this is the Hockey Hall of Fame and there have never been two more famous teams on this side of the pond in sports. Basketball puts in teams to its Hall of Fame (1992 Dream Team and the 1966 Texas Western college team that won the NCAA championship to name a couple).

 

It is time for Hockey to do the same for Team Canada 1972 and the 1980 US Olympic team.  They play an alumni game before the induction of the Hall of Famers and wouldn’t it be nice to see these two teams face off before too many get too old.

 

Perhaps they could get Al Michaels to announce the game for old times' sake.

 

C’mon guys.  Get it right!

 

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, and follow @Rotoworld_ HK and @mfinewaxhockey on Twitter.

 

I’m going to feature hits and blocked shots this week in the column.

 

Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF DECEMBER 30-JANUARY 5

 

4 Games- Carolina, Chicago, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Nashville, Philadelphia, San Jose, Vancouver, Winnipeg

 

3 Games–Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Washington

 

2 Games - Calgary, Florida, Toronto

 

Philadelphia plays all four games away from home.

 

Anaheim, Boston, Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota and Phoenix play three games at home.

 

Columbus, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Nashville, the New York Rangers, San Jose, Tampa Bay and Winnipeg play three games on the road.

 

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a $2,500 Fantasy Hockey league for Friday's NHL games. It's $10 to join and first prize is $500. Starts Friday at 7pm ET. Here's the FanDuel link.

 

INJURIES

 

Marian Gaborik suffered a broken collarbone and is out as much as two months. (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

 

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

vs. San Jose, vs. Edmonton, vs. Vancouver

 

Rested team: vs. Edmonton (Friday), vs. Vancouver (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Ducks play the back half of a home-and-home series with San Jose on Tuesday so look for Tim Jackman or Bryan Allen to pick up some penalty minutes if there are any fights.  Cam Fowler leads the Ducks with 79 blocked shots while Ben Lovejoy leads the way in hits with 93 and is second in blocked shots with 66. Hampus Lindholm continues to impress as he has three goals and 13 points and a league-leading plus-22 in 36 games. Not too bad for the 19-year-old rookie defenseman who is worth owning in all keeper leagues. This will be Teemu Selanne’s last season in the NHL and the 43-year-old has been slumping this season with only 11 points in 30 games but he does have a goal and four points in his last four games.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, vs. Nashville, vs. Winnipeg

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Milan Lucic tops all Bruins in hits with 119 and Dennis Seidenberg is first in blocked shots with 64. Daniel Paille has missed the last seven games with a concussion but could return to action on December 27. Reilly Smith has been a pleasant surprise, especially when many thought he was a throw-in in the Tyler Seguin deal. He has 12 goals and 28 points in 37 games for the Bruins and is a top-six forward in Boston. Ryan Spooner had three assists Monday and now has seven helpers in 10 games.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

@ Winnipeg, @ Minnesota, vs. New Jersey

 

Rested team: vs. New Jersey (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Steve Ott has 120 hits this season to lead the way for the Sabres and Christian Ehrhoff is tops in blocked shots with 57, five ahead of Tyler Myers. After a very slow start in which he had one goal and six points in 25 games, Zemgus Girgensons has three goals and seven points in his last 11 games. The sophomore center was selected 14th overall in 2012 and has impressed coach Ted Nolan with his play. The flu was going through the Sabres dressing room on Monday as Ville Leino, Linus Omark and Marcus Foligno were hit by the illness.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia, vs. Tampa Bay

 

Rested team: vs. Philadelphia (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Dennis Wideman is first on the Flames in blocked shots with 42. Kris Russell has 105 hits which is five better than fellow defenseman Chris Butler. Jiri Hudler got off to a red hot start this season before slumping but has four goals and eight points in his last 10 games to give him 33 in 37 tilts. The Flames goaltending is still in flux as Reto Berra and Karri Ramo are fighting it out as to who is number one. Russell is out of action for the next four-six weeks with a second degree MCL sprain.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

vs. Montreal, @ Washington, @ New York Islanders, vs. Nashville

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Hurricanes play three games in four nights and Anton Khudobin is getting close to returning to action as he has been out since October 13 with a lower body injury, so it still may be Cam Ward and Justin Peters in goal for Carolina but Khudobin could force his way in there. Tuomo Ruutu has 104 hits to lead the Hurricanes while Justin Faulk is first in blocked shots with 58. Alexander Semin had a goal and an assist Monday and now has 12 points in an injury-riddled season that has seen him play in only 25 games. Jiri Tlusty scored a couple of goals Monday, stopping an eight game goalless streak.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, @ New York Islanders, @ New Jersey, vs. San Jose

 

Rested team: vs. San Jose (Sunday)

Tired Team: @ New Jersey (Friday)

 

Notes

The Blackhawks play four times this week including three games in four nights so Corey Crawford (if healthy) should play at least twice with Antti Raanta or Nikolai Khabibulin figuring to see action as well. The Blackhawks take on San Jose Sunday and if Antti Raanta starts against the Sharks Antti Niemi, it will be the first time in NHL history that two Antti’s face each other in net. Brent Seabrook is leading the way in hits with 96 and Niklas Hjalmarsson is tops in blocked shots at 76. Patrick Sharp has 36 points in 39 games and has scored 10 times in his last 14 contests.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

vs. Columbus, vs. Philadelphia, vs . San Jose

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Gabriel Landeskog has 82 hits this season to lead the Avs while Nate Guenin has 82 blocked shots.  Andre Benoit has only one point in his last 15 games. Ryan O'Reilly has eight points in his last seven games. Matt Duchene was the third star of the week with two goals and nine points in four games. All charges against Semyon Varlamov were dropped in a domestic dispute and he has stopped 78 of 84 shots since then as he is 0-0-2 and 16-8-3 this season. Landeskog ended a 10 game goalless streak on Monday.  

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

@ Colorado, @ Phoenix, @ St. Louis

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

It looks like Nathan Horton will return to action in early January as he has almost recovered from off-season shoulder surgery. He could have a tough time of it the rest of the way as that happens on many an occasion to players returning after missing half a season including training camp. He’ll look a lot better next season. Blake Comeau leads the Blue Jackets with 108 hits and Jack Johnson is first in blocked shots with 62. Brandon Dubinsky played left wing on Monday, alongside Artem Anisimov and Cam Atkinson. Sergei Bobrovsky, who hasn’t played since December 3, could return this week.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Montreal, vs. Detroit

 

Rested team: vs. Los Angeles (Tuesday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

If you own Valeri Nichushkin in a keeper league, you have to love what Jaromir Jagr said about him. Jagr said that Nichushkin could become the best player in the world. Nichushkin is only 18 but is now playing on the top line with Tyler Seguin and Jamie although he is not seeing first power play time. Nevertheless, he has 19 points in 35 games and has five goals and 11 points in his last 11 games including his first power play marker of the season Monday. Brenden Dillon is first on the Stars in both hits and blocked shots with 82 and 69 respectively.


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Michael Finewax is entering his 10th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.
Email :Michael Finewax



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