Toronto Maple Leafs 2017-18 Season Preview

The Toronto Maple Leafs are my favourite team, if you haven’t been able to figure that out yet from me mentioning them in almost every preview so far.

I’ve seen the good years, the bad years, and the “just okay” years.

After many years in a dumpster, the Leafs are finally good again and I couldn’t me more excited.

FORWARDS

The Leafs forwards are centred around three sophomores. We haven’t seen young talent like theirs since Steen, Wellwod, and Stajan 1673, or something. All three could end up being consistent 70+ point scorers. I’m drooling at the thought.

Auston Matthews – He had 40 goals in his rookie season last year. Four of which were in his first career game. He is a superstar already. What’s equally impressive is his commitment to defense. Leaf fans still can’t believe he’s on our team. The honeymoon phase might last his entire career.

William Nylander – Free Willie! He is Matthews’ running mate on the top line. He’s a tremendous passer and has great speed. He finds a way to hide from the defense on the ice. Perhaps it’s because Matthews has their attention.

Mitch Marner – Sometimes I think he could be the next Johnny Gaudreau, and other times I still think he’s 12 years old and snuck on the ice somehow. He could be one of the premiere passers in the NHL within the next few seasons, if he isn’t already.

Nazem Kadri – He’s slowly turning into Ryan Kesler and I’m loving it. He’s a physical, offensive threat, who has turned into a reliable defender.

James van Riemsdyk – Still hard to believe we got him for Luke Schenn. Thanks, Philly. JVR likes to try and put the puck between his legs and roof it into the net, while standing in front of the goal crease. It never works anymore, but he always tries it.

Connor Brown – What’s not to like?

Zach Hyman – He scores shorthanded goals.

Patrick Marleau – OH MY GOD WE GOT PATRICK MARLEAU.

Leo Komarov – He speaks about 46 languages (slight exaggeration) and none of them are coherent.

DEFENSE

Morgan Rielly – Mike Babcock didn’t play Rielly on the power play that much last season and it didn’t make much sense to me (Babcock wanted him to become better defensively first). This season, he is, and has 17 points in 20 games. His career high is 36 points. He also has a 0 rating, which is much improved from previous seasons of -20, -17, -16, -13, etc.

Jake Gardiner – He’s a great skater and good offensively, but he can make you yell at the TV screen sometimes (many times?)

Notable: Ron Hainsey, Nikita Zaitsev

GOALIES

Frederik Andersen – The best goalie the Leafs have had since Ed Belfour in 2006. Chris will read this and scream “James Reimer” at his computer screen. Sorry, Chris. Ain’t so. I finally trust our goaltending. Thanks, Frederik.

Curtis McElhinney – He’s been a solid backup since coming over from Columbus last season. He isn’t a pushover, so that’s encouraging.

FUN FACTS

1. They will always be better than the Montreal Canadiens. I don’t care how many Cups Montreal has won.

2. The Leafs made the playoffs last year in an 82-game season for the first time since 2003-04. The playoff appearance in 2013 has an asterisk, since they only played 48 games (Thankfully! They normally struggle down the stretch.) 

3. The mascot is Carlton The Bear. He wears #60 because their old arena – Maple Leaf Gardens – was located on 60 Carlton street. He once startled me by banging a drum right behind me. Good times.

4. If you want overpriced food, all you have to do is look at the concession stands at the Air Canada Centre. A pizza slice and drink will cost you about $12+, and a limb to be named later. Save your money, buy an entire pizza after the game for the same price.

5. The Air Canada Centre is being renamed Scotiabank Arena next year. I’m not a fan.

6. The Leafs haven’t had a Captain since they traded away Dion Phaneuf in February 2016. Auston Matthews better be will probably be named Captain for the next season.

WHAT CHRIS THINKS

Toronto is just so good. I can’t believe two years ago, the season was just waiting to see how bad the team would finish to see where they would draft in the summer. Curious to see what happens with JVR and Bozak, and wouldn’t mind seeing another defensive defenseman.

LAST MINUTE OF PLAY

The Leafs went from rebuilding to “win now” mode as evidenced by the signing of Patrick Marleau.

The Leafs gave the Capitals a scare in the first round last year, taking them to 6 games before being defeated. We were actually winning the series at one point.

I think Mike Babcock brings a paternal characteristic to this young team and the players are hanging on his every word because they don’t want to let him down.

The Leafs will make the playoffs this season and I hope they win at least one round. How far they go, I don’t know.

But for the first time since the early 2000s, a Stanley Cup doesn’t seem that far away.

The Leafs might be the best team in Canada (insert evil laugh).

ONE WILD PREDICTION

Six Leafs will score at least 20 goals this season.

POST-GAME

Last Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning
Next Preview: Vancouver Canucks

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Tampa Bay Lightning 2017-18 Season Preview

The Tampa Bay Lightning got new jerseys a few years ago. They now look like a bootleg version of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Who’s idea was this? Get your own team colours.

FORWARDS

The Lightning have a lot of depth up front.

Steven Stamkos – I was crushed when he re-signed with Tampa instead of coming to Toronto. He’s one of the best players in the league and is out to prove it this season, after having another season cut short last year due to injury. He already has 35 points in 19 games. Look out.

Nikita Kucherov – I passed on him twice in my fantasy draft because I wasn’t sold on him being a superstar. His name value wasn’t there for me. I will regret that decision for the rest of the season. He has 17 goals in 19 games, and 33 points. Ugh.

Vladislav Namestnikov – He’s the third member of the death line, with Stamkos and Kucherov. He’s benefitting quite nicely and is well on his way for a career season.

Notable: Brayden Point, Alex Killorn, Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat

DEFENSE

Victor Hedman – Hedman has really developed the offensive side of his game over the last four years. He now seems like a lock to hit at least 50 points each year. Last year, he had 72.

Mikhail Sergachev – GM Steve Yzerman worked his magic again and stole a young defenseman from Montreal because Montreal is infatuated with trying to get a first line centre (Drouin). It didn’t hurt that Drouin was from Quebec, either. Sergachev has 14 points in 19 games and is still only 19 years old.

Notable: Jake Dotchin, Dan Girardi

GOALIES

Andrei Vasilevskiy – The 23-year-old has taken over the starter’s role in Tampa Bay and he could hold it for the next decade if he wants.

Petr Budaj – He came over from LA last season and will serve in the veteran backup role.

Note: Tampa recently picked up Louis Domingue from Arizona to give themselves some depth in case of injury.

FUN FACTS

1. As mentioned earlier, Steve Yzerman is the General Manager of the team. I once did a presentation in Grade 12 about Steve Yzerman. Showed a picture slideshow with music and everything.

2. The team won the Stanley Cup in 2004. One of my former campers said the Lightning were his favourite team because they won the Cup the year he was born. Whenever we played hockey, he gave a name to everyone on the team. He was normally Stamkos and I was Hedman.

3. The top 10 scorers on the team are all 27 or younger. That’s impressive.

4. They play out of Amalie Arena, which has 351 touchless faucets. “Touchless” is their word, not mine. I don’t think it is actually a word.

5. If you’re hungry at a Lightning game, you can go check out Holy Hog BBQ.

WHAT CHRIS THINKS

At the beginning of the season in my fantasy league, I did not want to pick Kucherov because I felt he would not be able to come close to his production last year. Already looking bad on that prediction.

LAST MINUTE OF PLAY

I really like Tampa Bay. They have a lot of young talent and seem to be building towards a run at the Stanley Cup. They need Stamkos to be healthy though.

I think Tampa Bay can win the Eastern Conference this year, or at the very least, the Atlantic Division.

I’m interested to see if Kucherov and Stamkos can keep up their torrid pace.

ONE WILD PREDICTION

Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov will both eclipse 100 points this season.

POST-GAME

Last Preview: St. Louis Blues
Next Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs

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St. Louis Blues 2017-18 Season Preview

I have two quick stories that pertain to Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis – two former defensemen for the St. Louis Blues.

1. One of the first hockey sticks I ever owned is signed by Chris Pronger on the handle. It’s one of those signatures that is printed onto the stick, rather than actually being signed in real life. I still have the stick. I still use it. Yes, it’s a wooden stick.

2. I have a collector’s coin from McDonald’s to commemorate the 1998 Olympics. On one side is a picture of Rob Blake. On the other side is a picture of Al MacInnis. McDonald’s needs more fun collectibles and less plastic toys for children.

Those are my stories.

FORWARDS

Vladimir Tarasenko – If you haven’t been paying attention, Tarasenko had 73, 74, and 75 points, respectively, in his last three seasons. He’s a superstar and he’s only 25.

Brayden Schenn – He came over from Philadelphia in the off-season and is off to a career-best pace, with 25 points in 20 games. This could finally be the team where he shines offensively.

Jaden Schwartz – He plays on the top line with Schenn and Tarasenko, which means if he stays healthy he’s looking at 65+ points this season. He doesn’t get enough recognition around the NHL.

Alex Steen – The Leafs traded him to St. Louis in 2009 along with Carlo Colaiacovo (didn’t even have to look up the spelling), for Lee Stempniak. That was a controversial trade within my friend group at the time. Ask Chris.

Notable: Paul Stastny, Robby Fabbri (Out for the season)

DEFENSE

Alex Pietrangelo – The captain has established himself as one of the NHL’s best, as a defensive and offensive force. He has 18 points in 20 games so far, which puts his career high of 51, at risk. I say he surpasses it.

Carl Gunnarsson – Still not sure why the Leafs traded him. He’s normally on the positive side of the plus/minus category.

GOALIES

Jake Allen – I drafted him for my fantasy team, so he better be good. And he is! The 27-year-old has the Blues at the top of the Western Conference. Don’t get hurt, Jake.

Carter Hutton – He’s 4-0-0 this season and has allowed 8 goals in 5 games. Not bad for a backup, though he’s not the kind of guy you want to put in the net on an extended basis. If you read this, Carter, I didn’t really mean that.

FUN FACTS

1. Their team mascot is named Louie. I didn’t understand why at first. Now I realize – I’m the fool.

2. In my last university presentation, my group had to act as a restaurant trying to sell a hockey team on a sponsorship. The presentation was marked out of 10. Two of those marks were for humour. I took care of that by mentioning that we would like to name our food after players. One food I mentioned was the “Pulled Pork Pietrangelo”.

3. The St. Louis Blues have never won the Stanley Cup.

WHAT CHRIS THINKS

I feel like St. Louis could end up being the new San Jose Sharks – a really good team that just doesn’t have enough to win a Cup.

LAST MINUTE OF PLAY

The St. Louis Blues are a really good team, but I liken them to the Washington Capitals. They have a really good regular season, but never make it to the Stanley Cup Final.

Perhaps this is one of the problems with a winger being your best player? (Ovechkin; Tarasenko?) I don’t know.

I fear if they don’t win a Cup within the next 3 years, they’ll have to reconstruct the makeup of their team. Heck, they might have to do that anyways.

ONE WILD PREDICTION

The Blues make an impactful trade before the trade deadline.

POST-GAME

Last Preview: San Jose Sharks
Next Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning

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Let Me Be Right

If you stay in the boat long enough, it’ll start to turn
The dark room you hide in will be filled with light
The frame on the floor and the picture by the door
They will shine brighter than ever before

This optimism can be a bit unnerving
Feel the shivers explore every inch of your body
Hold tight when you can’t stop shaking
I bet it feels like your heart has gotten used to the aching

Stretch your fingers to touch everything within reach
No one is there, go back to sleep
The slow songs find a way into your life
They speak to you like a future wife

You took all your time and purchased a life you’re still looking for it
The coins fell from your pockets as you cut the tags
Everything had been used, the smell was fresh
How in the world would you find a way to mesh

The collision is grand, you know
Not like the opening of a new store, bigger than that
But if you just hold on and stay within reach
One day this will make a heck of a speech

I think I’m right, please let me be right
Everything I do can’t always be an apology
Let my truth be real, no surprise
Good things can be found beneath a disguise.

The Adventure – Angels & Airwaves

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50 Thoughts XV

1. People get so excited for “Patio Szn” and “Wedding Szn”. I’m thinking of creating a new “Szn” called “Bedding Szn”. Basically, we just nap. Who’s in?

2. The uppercase letter “G” is my least favourite letter to write.

3. I draw the number 6 starting from inside the loop. Apparently this is abnormal?

4. Riverdale is getting a bit hokey, isn’t it?

5. Italy didn’t qualify for the World Cup which means I don’t have to pretend to like soccer next year. Phew.

6. Carol from The Walking Dead is the best. I want to be her friend. Don’t know what we’d talk about, but I won’t be bitten by a zombie under her watch, so that’s good.

7. Imagine the plural of “Goose” was “Gaase”.

8. Is Santa Claus related to Santa Barbara?

9. To the non-Canadians reading this who have never been introduced to All Dressed chips, you are missing out.

10. Can we go just one Wednesday without someone mentioning that it’s “Hump Day”? You don’t think we know by now?

11. Onion rings are the worst.

12. Scalloped potatoes are also the worst.

13. I hope the wrestling business gets to a point where talent can roam freely from company to company.

14. I’ve had six matchups so far in my fantasy hockey season. Of which, I have three ties. THREE. It’s killing me slowly.

15. In the song, “Stroke Me” by The Squire, I always thought the lyrics were, “Something’s cooking” but they are actually, “Stroke me, stroke me.”

15.5 I’ve been meaning to mention this one since August 2016 but never knew how to just throw it in a blog post without it being weird.

16. Advertisements on YouTube videos are a waste of time and money, let’s be honest.

17. Shout-out to Catherine at One Big Stressball. She can read my mind. And you should read her blog.

18. If you haven’t watched Last Chance U on Netflix, you probably should. Unless you don’t like football, or documentaries, or football documentaries. But it’s a good show! Watch it. Tell them Paul sent you.

18.5 They have no clue who I am.

18.75 Who would you even tell? It’s Netflix.

19. I don’t know who invented the couch, but they’re a genius.

20. People who wear their socks to sleep are probably the same people who are okay with sleeping with the door open.

20.5 Please leave a comment below telling me you wear your socks to bed, but would never leave the door open. I’m hoping to get at least 7 comments like this.

21. Ever since I wrote a rant complaining about my iPhone battery, it’s been lasting longer. A few weeks ago, it went 40 hours between charges. That is a modern day record in my age bracket.

22. Eenie meenie miney mo (is this english?), catch a tiger by the toe (hell no), if he hollers let him go (no kidding), eenie meenie miney mo (french?). Not because you’re dirty (phew), not because you’re clean (sniffs armpits), just because you kissed a girl behind a magazine (but the magazine was blocking…). So out you go come back tomorrow (see ya then). Repeat x10

22.5 And that’s how we decided who was “it” for tag back in elementary school.

23. When we say numbers out loud, most of them are just a combination of two numbers. “Twenty” and “three” is known as twenty-three. Why didn’t they get a couples name, like people do? Like, “Twenree”.

24. Twour.

25. Twive.

26. TWIX (are for kids).

27. That last thought was a pun, a chocolate, a joke, and a Halloween reference. I only needed four words to do it. Bow down in awe.

28. I’ve never been in a hammock. I don’t think I’d ever get off if I were to ever get on.

29. Clearest Blue by Chvrches is really good.

30. I want a new hobby. Something small and simple and beneficial. Last year my “new hobby” was solving Sudoku puzzles. The year before that, it was donuts.

31. Shouldn’t there be another “n” on the end of “banana” just to make it even with the letter “a”? Let’s start a petition.

31.5 Pronounced: “Buh-nan-nan”.

31.75 Try getting that out of your head.

32. I’m just here to make the world a more observant place. And if no one notices me, I’ll have proven that my cause is worthy.

33. The people I follow on Twitter aren’t as funny with 280 characters. Someone tell them.

34. When I picture animals on a farm arranging a social event, I picture a planning committee with one of each animal. And when they go around suggesting events, the cow always says “Moooovie Night” and everyone else rolls their eyes because it’s like, “Really Bessy, movie night again?” And then there is just a lot of resentment and anger and they reluctantly settle on board games night, which no one really wants, but everyone agrees on because it’s simple.

35. What if shadows didn’t exist?

36. I was honoured and humbled to have my post about Roy Halladay featured on WordPress Discover last week.

37. I was going to say that nothing rhymes with “country” but then I realized that “one tree” rhymes with country, so this thought is now moooooot.

37.5 Sorry. Bessy got loose.

38. Why can’t we all agree to not drive like maniacs?

39. If fish live in a fish tank, does that mean humans live in a human house?

40. I’ve been trying to find the right time to start season two of Stranger Things, but haven’t found it yet.

41. I have a tendency to overplay the same song for a week and then scramble to find a new song to fill the void. There is nothing worse than not being able to find that new song.

42. None of my favourite celebrities have been outed as disgusting human beings. Then again, Jimmy Kimmel, Jerry Seinfeld, and Kristen Bell are the only three I care about.

43. I’m about to watch Part 2 of the Elizabeth Smart documentary on A&E. Kudos to her for telling her story. Part 1 was startling, to say the least. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google her name.

44. In 5-10 years, we’ll probably have to use our eyes to unlock our iPhone. That’ll be a heck of a marketing campaign. They’ll probably rename it the iiPhone.

44.5 Get it? Because we have two eyes? I’m sorry. So, so sorry.

45. Why be Cookie Monster for Halloween when you can be Cookie Monster every day?

46. Who here watches Survivor? I tried to do viewing notes for the show like I do with The Bachelor, but I realized I enjoy the show too much to be distracted by a computer screen (and the witty comments in my head) the whole time.

47. Woodchucks are only famous because of a long, drawn out, hypothetical question. What a life.

48. The phrase “bear with me” is so strange. “Pig with me” I could understand. It means you want someone to eat with you. But, “bear”?

48.5 And if you use “bare” by accident, then you’re in trouble.

49. Things I Don’t Like #476: When Person X asks Person Y a question and Person Y doesn’t give an answer, but instead, belittles Person X for not already knowing the answer. Can we cut that nonsense out of our daily life? If someone asks you a question, answer it. I don’t care if it’s a stupid question.

50. We can dance if we want to. We can leave your friends behind. Cause your friends don’t dance, and if they don’t dance, well they’re no friends of mine. We can dance, we can dance, everybody look at your hands.

That song has been the first thing in my head each morning for the last two weeks. Why?

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San Jose Sharks 2017-18 Season Preview

When the San Jose Sharks get a power play during a home game, they play the Jaws theme over the loudspeakers and the fans use their arms to mimic a shark chomp. It’s all very cute.

The Sharks have been a really good team lately. I thought they were at their best during the 2013-14 season and didn’t think anyone could beat them. Then they lost in the first round and missed the playoffs completely the following year. What do I know?

But in 2016, they made it to the Stanley Cup Final, before ultimately losing to Pittsburgh.

Now, it feels like their window of opportunity is closing.

FORWARDS

Joe Thornton – His beard might be bigger than his face. He is a legend. He is a future hall of famer. He is one of the best passers to ever play in the NHL. He is starting to slow down so don’t expect any more 70 point seasons from him, but he could still put up a respectable 50-60 point campaign.

Joe Pavelski – After Patrick Marleau and Thornton had their run as Captain, Pavelski took the torch. I don’t think people talk about him enough. At his best, he can reach 30 goals/40 assists. I don’t know if he’s at his best anymore, though.

Logan Couture – He’s been a solid second line centre for the Sharks for his entire career. More of the same this season.

Notable: Tomas Hertl, Joonas Donskoi, Kevin Labanc

DEFENSE

Brent Burns – His beard might be bigger than his face, too. He’s one of the best defenseman in the NHL. He had 76 points last season and 75 points the year before. I don’t think he’ll reach 70 for a third straight season, though.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – They call him, “Pickles”. He’s been an Olympian. He’s been a steady defensive, and sometimes offensive presence for the Sharks since 2006.

Tim Heed – He’s a 26-year-old rookie from Sweden who has found time on the first power play unit. The Sharks normally went with 4 forwards and 1 defenseman on the top PP unit, but Marleau left and Heed came in. Hey, when opportunity knocks…

Notable: Justin Braun, Brenden Dillon

GOALIES

Martin Jones – After being a backup in Los Angeles for a couple of seasons, he was traded to Boston. Boston then traded him to San Jose because LA would never do that. That was in 2015. Since then, he’s been one of the best goalies in the league. I’m just surprised Boston still does business with San Jose after trading them Thornton and getting (pretty much) nothing back.

Aaron Dell – He got a shutout last night and has a 1.94 Goals Against Average this season. Solid backup.

FUN FACTS

1. Their mascot is named SJ Sharkie, which I’ve always felt has been a cheap nickname. You don’t see the Leafs naming their mascot, TM Leafie. Or the Devils naming theirs, NJ Devil. Just seems like a cop out.

2. The Sharks have missed the playoffs only 6 times since they entered the league in 1991.

3. They play out of the SAP Center. There is a food place called Armadillo Willy’s inside, where you can get beef brisket, pork spareribs, BBQ chicken thighs, and spicy peanut slaw. Hungry?

WHAT CHRIS THINKS

The Sharks are a mess. Their fowards are too old and not skilled enough, and they spend too much money on defense. Even worse, the Sharks have already parted with their second and third round picks for this upcoming draft.

LAST MINUTE OF PLAY

I think the Sharks are just barely holding on to what they’ve got, it doesn’t make a difference if they make it or not, they’ve got each other and that’s enough for love, they’ll give it a shot.

Seriously though, their best players are getting older and I know they’re bringing in young talent like Donskoi, Hertl, and Labanc, to help ease the transition, but I don’t see any of them becoming superstars.

I think they’ll make the playoffs, but I don’t expect them to do much.

ONE WILD PREDICTION

Armadillo Willy’s will run out of food during one home game.

POST-GAME

Last Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins
Next Preview: St. Louis Blues

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Pittsburgh Penguins 2017-18 Season Preview

It’s not fair that Pittsburgh has Sidney Crosby and Edmonton has Connor McDavid, when a few decades ago, both teams had Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky, respectively.

Is there some rule that says only those two cities can have the once in a generation players?

I’m calling shenanigans. No more cahoots!

FORWARDS

Sidney Crosby – He’s alright. He’s scored over 100 points in a season, five times. He’s 30 years old and could be in the Hall of Fame yesterday if he wanted. He’s won everything. People say I look like him.

Evgeni Malkin – That 04/05 lockout really transformed the Penguins. They were able to take Malkin in ’04 and Crosby in ’05. If there were no lockout, I don’t think Pittsburgh would’ve owned the 1st pick and had the chance to take Crosby. See, I told you there were cahoots. Malkin is great – injury prone, but who isn’t?

Phil Kessel – The Best.

Jake Guentzel – The Future.

Notable: Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist

DEFENSE

Kris Letang – Hard to believe he was a 3rd round pick in 2005. He has 399 career points, which is 8th most for his draft class – 1st is Crosby; 9th is Hornqvist. CAHOOTS, I say. Yeah, Letang is great too.

Justin Schultz – He left the Oilers and the Penguins turned him into the player everyone thought he could be. He’s an offensive threat and a weapon on the power=play, as if they needed more.

Olli Maatta – He’s 23-years-old and is apart of the younger generation of Penguins that inhabits this team. He’s also a good hockey player. Surprising, huh?

GOALIES

Matt Murray – He’s been in the NHL for two years and has won two Stanley Cups. He’s only 23-years-old. So yeah, he’s better than you, me, and almost every 23-year-old ever.

Tristan Jerry – This was supposed to be Antti Niemi but he stunk and is now in Florida. Jarry is 22 and is getting thrown into the fire here. Methinks the Penguins will look for a veteran backup before the trade deadline.

FUN FACTS

1. The Penguins scored 282 goals last season – most in the NHL.

2. They were 31-6-4 at home and 50-21-11 overall.

3. They play out of PPG Paints Arena. You can get a pizza from Fox’s Pizza and then wash it down with some Dunkin’ Donuts because America runs on Dunkin’, or something.

4. The Penguins have won 5 Stanley Cups: 1991, 1992, 2009, 2016, 2017.

5. The Penguins former arena was nicknamed, “The Igloo”. I liked that.

6. Phil Kessel loves hot dogs.

WHAT CHRIS THINKS

Penguins the Penguins. It’s hard to have Crosby and Malkin and not be competitive. Hard to believe Crosby, Malkin, and Letang are all over 30 now. It will be interesting to see if this team ages like a fine wine, or a stinky cheese.

LAST MINUTE OF PLAY

They’ll make the playoffs. Yada yada yada. They’re great. So many weapons. Etc.

They need to be careful, though. If Matt Murray gets injured, or struggles, they have no one else to go to. Well, they do. But no one that has proven to be reliable.

If penguins can hold their breath, they better be holding it right now.

ONE WILD PREDICTION

Evgeni Malkin will play at least 70 games – something he’s only done 4 times in 11 seasons.

POST-GAME

Last Preview: Philadelphia Flyers
Next Preview: San Jose Sharks

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Philadelphia Flyers 2017-18 Season Preview

The Philadelphia Flyers are a far cry from their Broad Street Bully days. Heck, they’re a far cry from the early 2000s when they had guys like LeClair, Recchi, Roenick, and Brashear patrolling the ice.

The NHL has changed and so have the Flyers.

FORWARDS

Claude Giroux – He’s coming off a down year in which he recorded 58 points. He’s better than that. Perhaps the players around him had gotten a bit stale, or maybe not. Maybe his stats will continue to slide. That being said, I think he’s capable of 70+ points this season.

Jakub Voracek – I get the sense that no one really talks about him outside of people in Philadelphia and his fantasy hockey owners. He’s normally a lock for 20+ goals and 40+ assists.

Wayne Simmonds – He would’ve fit perfectly on the Flyers in the early 2000s. He’s a throwback to the power forward days. He’s big, strong, and will score 30 goals.

Notable: Sean Couturier, Nolan Patrick

DEFENSE

Shayne Gostisbehere – “Ghost Be Here” is not how you pronounce his last name, unfortunately. He came out of nowhere two seasons ago and has been an offensive bright spot ever since.

Ivan Provorov – He’s 20. It’s his 2nd NHL season. And he’s already logging 25 minutes/game. He’s going to be really good, both offensively and defensively. Look out in a few years.

Radko Gudas – He has a reputation around the NHL of being dangerous. Gudas is the epitome of Team Iceland in the Mighty Duck movies. Simple as that.

GOALIES

The Flyers needed a good goalie yesterday. Nope. Scratch that. They needed a good goalie about 20 years ago.

Brian Elliott – He’s only started more than 50 games, once in his career. For a 9th round pick in 2003, he’s carved out a nice career. I just don’t think he’s the answer the Flyers have been looking for.

Michal Neuvirth – He’s shown small glimpses of being good, but ultimately, he’s a backup goalie in the NHL.

FUN FACTS

1. The Flyers play their home games at Wells Fargo Center, which is also the home of the Philadelphia 76ers (NBA) and the Philadelphia Soul (AFL).

2. They lost in the Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, when Patrick Kane scored in overtime and no one saw the puck go in the net but him.

3. Ron Hextall is the General Manager. Dave Hakstol is the Head Coach. Names are fun.

4. They finished last season with a record of 39-33-10. They had a 2.4% chance of ending up with the 2nd pick in the NHL Draft. Well, they ended up getting it. They selected Nolan Patrick.

WHAT CHRIS THINKS

The Flyers seem to have had the same team for the last 5 years, but evidently that is not true. Curious to see how Brian Elliott survives the team Ilya Bryzgalov described as, “goalie hell.”

LAST MINUTE OF PLAY

Goaltending will hold this team out of a playoff spot. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. I don’t know how, where, or when they’ll get a real number one goalie, but until they do, they won’t win anything.

ONE WILD PREDICTION

Claude Giroux scores at least 30 goals for the first time in his career.

POST-GAME

Last Preview: Ottawa Senators
Next Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

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Roy Halladay

When I was a kid, I wanted to be like Roy Halladay.

Yesterday, Roy “Doc” Halladay died in a plane crash. It was his plane. He was the only one on board. Halladay was only 40-years-old, and leaves behind a wife and two boys.

I didn’t know how to react when I heard the news. It didn’t seem real and it still doesn’t.

Halladay was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1995 and pitched for them from 1998 – 2009. That is my childhood right there.

When he requested a trade and the Blue Jays obliged by sending him to the Philadelphia Phillies (2010-2013), it was bittersweet. I was happy that he would finally get the chance to play in the playoffs, but deep down, I wished he could’ve done that here.

I grew up watching Halladay, who was oftentimes the only bright spot on an otherwise poor Blue Jays team. Every fifth day he pitched felt like “guaranteed win day”. He was that good. He was that dominant.

I’ve learned not to idolize athletes because, most of the time, they’ll end up disappointing you. However, I idolized Halladay. He never disappointed me.

Unlike most professional athletes, he never made the game about him.

My favourite thing about him was his disposition on the mound. It never changed. He was locked in and serious the entire way through. No moment was bigger than another.

If he got a big strikeout or his team made a big play, he didn’t stand there celebrating. He would just turn around and walk to the dugout, knowing it was only one play and the job was not done.

That’s why I wanted to be like Roy Halladay.

As a kid playing softball, I found myself pitching more often than not.

When my teammates made a big play behind me or I made a big strikeout, I didn’t stand there celebrating. I didn’t scream. I didn’t wave my hands in the air. I didn’t jump around.

Halladay didn’t, so I wouldn’t.

One of the only times I remember Halladay being over-expressive on the field was in a game the Blue Jays played in Tampa Bay. One of Tampa’s hitters hit a slow roller up the first base line.

Halladay picked it up thinking it was a foul ball. Unbeknownst to him, the umpire call it a fair ball. The batter reached first base safely. And then Halladay got mad. He was yelling at the umpire. He was animated. He was fighting for what he thought was right.

I even remember the broadcaster saying at the time, something along the lines of, “If Halladay is arguing, you know he must be right.”

That moment stuck with me for some reason.

When the coach told us to run off the field after an inning, I’d walk off from the mound because that’s what Halladay did. Granted, most major league pitchers walk to the dugout to conserve their energy, so this wasn’t unique to Halladay. But I pretended that it was.

Halladay was better than you, but wouldn’t rub it in your face. He’d make you look silly, and then quietly walk off the field. I loved that.

We’re in an era where starting pitchers throw six innings and are happy. Halladay wanted to go nine innings every single game. In his career, he had 67 complete games. That is unheard of nowadays.

He was in a class of his own, both on the field and off it. He donated $100,000 of his contract each year he was in Toronto to the Jays Care Foundation.

No one cared more. No one worked harder.

I feel terrible for his family. I feel terrible for his friends. I feel terrible for his former teammates. I just feel terrible, in general.

A quick glance at his Twitter feed tells you that he loved flying and his family.

You’ll hear stories from his old teammates who will say that Halladay would be finished his workout and dripping in sweat before anyone else even arrived.

You’ll hear stories about him going in before 5AM and staying late after games, just to get his work in.

You’ll hear stories about how on game day, everyone knew not to say a word to him because he wouldn’t reply. He was locked in.

In his second career game in the majors, he was one out away from a no-hitter. I remember watching that game back in 1998 as a 7-year-old boy.

All of a sudden, Bobby Higginson of the Detroit Tigers hit a home run over the left field fence. The no-hitter was gone.

After that, things got worse before they got better for Halladay. He was sent back down to the lowest level of the minor leagues to re-invent himself with pitching coach, Mel Queen.

All of that feels like just yesterday to me because I still remember it.

When he made it back to the Blue Jays, he established himself as one of the best pitchers of his generation. Maybe he didn’t get the recognition he deserved because he was playing in Canada, but the fans here knew he was great. And the players around the league knew it too.

Derek Jeter said Halladay was the toughest pitcher he’s ever faced. That says a lot.

Halladay is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019. It saddens me that he won’t be there to make a speech and go in as a Blue Jay.

Roy Halladay was one of the best, and not just because he was a great baseball player.

Thanks for the memories, Doc. You were one of a kind.

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But If

Take me to
a place where
I don’t know
your name there
this is it
I do declare
find a place
we can share

but if

I start to
care now
you will take
your final bow, wow
and still expect
me to care, how
that was three
we’re out now.

Forget Me Not – Brian Fallon

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