Tag: hockey

Antti Raanta has not lived up to Arizona’s expectations…

It was summer of 2017, when the Arizona Coyotes finally decided to shake up things a little bit and so they traded number one goaltender Mike Smith, who led them to 2012 Western Conference finals, and went a little bit younger, with trading for Antti Raanta.

His later signing was not the same as Scott Darling´s one. He was good enough not to just stay as a back-up goalie in his current team, so a needy team like the Coyotes gave him that opportunity to be the starter. Raanta has been solid and in terms of goaltending, John Chayka, GM of the Coyotes, is not regretting making him a number one goaltender.

In his first year in the desert, Raanta played just 47 games, while missing several weeks with many injuries. Raanta has posted a .093 save percentage and allowed just 2,24 goals against per game. That was good enough to convince Arizona to extend his contract until 2021 and paying Raanta $4,250,000 per season.

His first year was good, but Raanta and his whole team showed up when it mattered the least, at the end of the year, when the Coyotes were playing just for the pride. Well, Raanta was playing for a bigger contract and he got it.

Goaltending situation in Arizona: not solved at all

What about his first year since the new contract? Raanta recently underwent a procedure on lower-body injury that revealed more damage than originally thought. So just after playing 12 games this season, he might be done for the remainder of the campaign.

And that is not ideal, not at all. The Coyotes have picked up Calvin Pickard off the waiver list, as they have their former back-up netminder Darcy Kuemper injured as well. Good news for the Yotes is that Kuemper should be back really soon and Adin Hill has been terrific so far, althought Arizona lost last two games with giving up 9 goals against in total.

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Antti Raanta during his time with the Rangers

It may not be that much important to try to solve current goaltending situation of the Coyotes. Let´s look at the overall overview. Being Arizona, you traded away Mike Smith in order to change the momentum for him and for yourself as well, signed Raanta in search of a stable number one goaltender and he is going to play just 59 games throughout his first two years? I will repeat myself, but that is not ideal!

Surely it seems like the goaltending woes have not been solved yet. When Raanta comes back for next season, he will already be 30 years old. I will speculate now, but if gets injured once again after his return, Arizona may hit the panic button (nothing to do with their forward Richard Panik) and redo that 2017 summer all over again.

McDavid or Crosby? Who is better? Comparing two NHL superstars

Since Connor McDavid came to the NHL, it seems like many experts are saying that he is the best player out there, but don‘t forget about Sidney Crosby, who is also considered as the best player in the NHL. Well, only one of them can be the best, of course.

So who is the best? Or at least who is better? If we take a look at their first years, that is something incomparable, because meanwhile Crosby scored 39 goals, McDavid, limited to play just 45 games because of an injury, managed to score “only” 16 goals. But Crosby played fewer games in his first NHL campaign – 53.

Prominent stars set to dominate NHL for years

But the very next season McDavid scored 41 goals. This number was never achieved by Crosby in his first three years in the NHL. In his first three seasons, Crosby scored more points than McDavid, he beat him in this category 294 to 256 points.

Head-to-head:

  • 1st season comparison : McDavid averaged 1,07 point per game, Crosby 1,26 point per game.
  • 2nd season comparison: McDavid averaged 1,22 point per game, Crosby 1,52 point per game.
  • 3rd season comparison: McDavid averaged 1,32 point per game, Crosby 1,36 point per game.

In their respective first three years in the NHL, both McDavid and Crosby participated twice in the NHL All Star game. Both players won one Hart Trophy, McDavid won two Ted Lindsay Trophies compared to Crosby‘s one. McDavid won two Art Ross Trophies for the most productive player, Crosby “just” one.

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Can any of them challenge Wayne Gretzky one day?

Well Sidney Crosby is exactly 10 years older than Connor McDavid. Crosby won three Stanley Cups in total and also won the MVP honor in those playoffs. Crosby has achieved more collective trophies, two olympic gold medals, World Championship title and World Cup title. So far McDavid has won “just” one gold medal from World Championships.

Based on these numbers and stats and maybe more importantly, based on your own eye-test, please feel free to decide for yourself who is the better out of those two. If you cannot make a decision, please feel free to join our club, you are welcome!

Is Marian Gaborik considering retirement? His time seems to be up in the NHL…

Do you even remember Marian Gaborik? A very skillful Slovak winger, who used to be star of the NHL. Now, being 36-years-old, he has turned out to be a mystery man. Gaborik was dealt last spring from Los Angeles to Ottawa, but there he just played 16 games posting seven points in process.

Gaborik underwent back surgery in mid-April this year and was due to return to the ice in approximately eight weeks. But that was not necessary as it was deep in the off-season for Ottawa. In September, when training camp was knocking on the door, Senators´ GM Pierre Dorion said, that Gaborik is still meeting with specialist in Los Angeles and his return is up in the air.

Former NHL star may not return at all

Nearly eight months have passed from the moment, where Gaborik should have needed just eight weeks to return. Last time Gaborik spoke to media, it was in his home country Slovakia. He could guess the date of his return, mentioned November or December as possible.

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Will Marian Gaborik retire as a Senator?

It is believed, according to Slovak medias, that Marian Gaborik is not coming back to play hockey for the Ottawa Senators this season and he is considering a retirement. Since his legendary years with Minnesota and New York Rangers, Gaborik was more injured than healthy.

He changed up the scenery across America a lot. From Columbus to Los Angeles and finally to Ottawa, in Canada of course. Former NHL star played 1035 games in total and recorded 815 points. The best and shiniest moment of his career came up on his decline, when he out of nowhere posted 14 goals in the play-offs, helping the Kings winning the Stanley Cup in 2014.

Now, he may follow the steps of his good friend and countryman, Marian Hossa. Hossa has not played for more than a year before admitting his retirement. Beyond this year, Ottawa still has to pay almost 5 millions dollars to Gaborik over the next two seasons. It surely seems Gaborik can be thankful for that 2014 revival year, not only for the Cup but also for a seven-year contract he received from Los Angeles.

Take note NHL! Buffalo and Colorado climb to the top from the bottom in 19 month

The Buffalo Sabres are at the top of the league. And it is not a joke. Colorado Avalanche went from the worst team in hockey to one of the best in just few months. We take a look at the standings and looking back just to the April of 2017… It is quite unbelievable.

When the regular season 2016/17 ended in the April of 2017, the Avalanche were dead-last in the standings, posting only 48 points, being -112 in the process. The Sabres were not much better, they finished fifth from the bottom with 78 points. In just 19 months circumstances have changed drastically. Buffalo is leading NHL and Colorado has 30 points to sit sixth overall in the standings.

Buffalo has missed every play-off opportunity since 2010, the Avs had miserable year in 2016/17 being 21 points short of 29th place overall. Now Colorado is a play-off team from last season and it seems like they are not stopping anytime soon. The Sabres have won 9 straight games in attempt to battle their franchise records. A team not being a play-off team for eight years is leading the league and it is beyond Thanksgiving.

From bottom-pit to the very top in a flash

It is always so nice to see new teams with fresh young players dominating the game. But these stories are nearly jaw-dropping. You may be very honest with yourself and admit, that whenever your team plays the Sabres or the Avs, you say ´Oh, come on! We have to win, it´s just Buffalo!´.

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But it has been quite opposite so far this season. Sabres are firing on all cylinders, leading the standings, winning NINE games in a row, scoring ton of goals… They are used to play exciting style of games, they scored 76 goals and gave up 66, it is not like Buffalo dominates hockey, but they never give up and always seem to find a way. Like yesterday in Detroit, Sabres won that one in 7th round in the shootout.

Colorado is being led by its´ terrific top line. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen have combined for 99 points during current campaign. Rantanen is leading the league race in points with 38 points, just three points ahead of… Nathan MacKinnon. Gabriel Landeskog leads the league field in plus-minus with +16, his linemate Rantanen is +14.

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Everything has been like in one sweet dream for Colorado and Buffalo so far this season. Will it continue? Will they always find a way? How will they respond to tough challenges like injuries or bad luck? One thing is for sure – they are young and here to be self-confident and courageous enough to overcome any kind of trouble.

Perseverance pays off for the Bruins, Halak continues his monster season

The Bruins have currently played four games without top leaders Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron and so far they obtained at least a point in each of those games. Boston has trailed just for 7 minutes and 31 seconds so far in these games. A perseverance, never give up mentality and secondary scoring helped the Bruins a lot.

When head coach Bruce Cassidy inserted Connor Clifton and Jakub Zboril into the lineup last Friday in Dallas against the Stars, it was a forced move. Young D-men from Providence in AHL were just making their NHL debuts. Their families were probably very excited, Bruins fans maybe not so much.

Tough stretch no problem so far for Boston

But there was nothing to worry about, no blowout loss came in that mentioned game in Dallas, the Bruins nearly shut out the Stars, in fact they did it, but only in regulation period. Stars, Coyotes neither Red Wings are the best teams in the league, but it is not easy to play tough roadies in those buildings, taking in note that Detroit were 9-1-1 going to a head-to-head matchup with the Bs.

Facing the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night was not easy either. I was so much surprised when I saw the betting odds and the Pens supposed to be favourites! It surprised me a bit that the Bruins are regarded as underdogs, okay I know it’s the Pens but… They have lost eight out of their last ten games and the Bruins are playing at home, where they are 8-0-1 in last nine home meetings vs. Pittsburgh.

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Boston Bruins can thank their goalies for their success this season.

At the end of the day, the Bruins prevailed in overtime. Well, with 1-4 record in OTs against a team like Penguins, who have some valuable weapons like Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and so on, that turned out to be a surprise Boston won it with… Joakim Nordstrom netting his first career OT goal!

Keys for Bruins keeping up pace with the giants in the Atlantic division

Secondary scoring has helped the Bruins quite a lot. Chris Wagner scored a goal in Detroit, which was only his second goal of the campaign. Nordstrom´s OT winner was his third of the year and Jake DeBrusk scored his ninth, but young forward was held for just three points throughout first 14 games of the season.

Besides scoring from unlikely sources, goaltending has been there once again. Jaroslav Halak continues his shiny play, Slovak netminder stopped 36 of 37 shots on goal. In his last five starts, in four wins he faced 149 shots on goal and stopped 145 of those and gave up four goals in the process. Then in the only loss of this stretch he allowed six goals on 26 shots on goals. Exception confirmed the rule here for Halak.

Penguins Friday night seemed to be okay with playing up to the Bruins notes. Boston is trying to establish a bit of new style, they know it is not possible to play back-and-forth games, they have to keep a very slow pace temp game. Penguins, just like Red Wings and even the Stars last week, agreed on this style. Pittsburgh was convinced an overtime win is coming up, but hey, Torey Krug already scored one OT game-winner at TD Garden against the Pens. This time he set up Nordstrom for a tap-in.

Penguins, Red Wings or Stars settled down on Bruins terms, but how it will look like, when the Bs are going to play in Montreal and Toronto in very heated battles? That´s up to be resolved and answered next. Huge games coming up for the Bruins upcoming days, but so far in a very tough run with injuries, tactically they have mastered.

An Unforgettable Ride… For The Boys

JJ Santagata The Last Ride

I have never really thought of this, for so long I always thought “oh that will never happen to me” or when the time comes I’ll be fine. It’s not that big of a deal. I never imagined I would be sitting here looking back on my career, the ups, the downs, the blood, sweat, and tears put into this sport. The broken bones, bruises and playing through injuries. All the bad that has happened this sport always kept me around. All because this sport asked me to give it my all, so I gave it my heart. I never really thought much of it, when numerous coaches would tell me “I wore my heart on my sleeve”, I thought my sheer ruthlessness, emotion, and love for the game was normal and at times, I would question myself and think am I crazy or do people not love the game as much as me. I can confidently say, I have probably said a thing or two to hurt a teammates feelings or put down a coach, nothing I am proud of, but that is what happens when I allow my emotions to overcome me and control me. Most of the time, in between periods I have no idea what to say, for those who have played with me, when I sit there quietly sometimes, it is not because I am thinking, it is because I legitimately have no idea what to say. But as a leader, you expect me to speak and step up and that is what I will do. You always think I say the right thing or do the right thing on the ice or in the locker room. But remember at times I have been lost and I have been completely unsure of myself in certain moments and games. I have made mistakes and I have lost games or caused turnovers. Leading a team is not easy and it was nothing I imagined to do, but with this opportunity, I was given to lead this 20 some odd guys alongside two great captains as well, you all have given me the confidence, support to always know what to do or say.

Now, you see many times this season we all have agreed that this year has been a bit different than years past and I would have to agree. See, my freshman year was an amazing time but I was young, irresponsible and had nothing to worry about. Nor did I truly appreciate those moments enough, I was not present enough to cherish those times. My sophomore year and junior year I put a lot of pressure on myself and dealt with my own personal problems. Now, my senior year after coming into it knowing that this could possibly be my last year with this team, this organization and certain players, a sense of awareness and urgency hit me. “The enjoy it while you can” moments hit me, the “it goes by fast” moments hit me. And I realized through my three years I probably was not the best role model nor teammate. Therefore I strived to be that, I strived to be the best teammate, captain, role model, person for all of you. When a team believes in you as much as you guys do, it changes my perception of many things. I don’t enjoy waking up Sunday mornings not being able to feel my body, or bruised from head to toe, or coming off the ice after a game ready to throw up. But. when I have a team like you guys, it makes all the negatives of this sport a positive. I am blessed to be able to wake up bruised, because I know that bruise was for you guys, I am blessed to wake up not being able to feel my body because I know plenty of you feel the same way and we worked our tails off and I am blessed to come off the ice ready to hurl because at the end of that 60 minutes I gave it my all, I played like it was my last shift and it was all for you guys. I know you all look to me for answers or to be that role model that is always there but remember boys, I too once was lost, unsure and thought I could not handle the pressures of a leadership role. I faked my way through many days in the past and I put on a mask so many of you would not see me struggle. That is why I cannot be more blessed to be apart of this team because you all have allowed me to break through many barriers in my life, be the real me, show compassion, kindness, and understanding without judgment, and fully supporting everything I do or say.

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I want you boys to look back on this year and remember all the good times we had, the feeling we all shared after a win, the late nights after games, the bus trips, the constant arguments we would get in, the yelling the screaming, the crying, everything about this season remember and cherish it. I want you boys to realize how much this season has meant to me and what has done for me personally.

This season I like to think it reminds me a lot of how that USA team was in the movie Miracle, the brotherhood that team displays in that movie is one of a kind and I wanted to bring that feeling here to you boys. Remember during that movie, when they were doing the secret Santa and everyone was just sitting there cheering having a good time, those times I’ll never forget with you boys. Remember the time, when they all shared the gold medal platform together and they are standing there, together on that small platform, smiling ear to ear, raising their hands with their fingers pointing high in the air. I want those times for us, after a win, when we get in that locker room and start dancing our face off, I think back to the time Team USA won that gold medal game and they shared the platform together.

Every moment, every win, every loss and every time I step on that ice with you boys I will cherish for the rest of my life. We are only guaranteed so much time together, one more full semester to battle every single night with the best group of men. I have not had this type of love for hockey in the last five years, you all have sparked my love for the game back and I cannot wait to absolutely leave it all out there, one last time. 

 

What Hockey Means to Me…

They tell a young child, not to worry, you have your whole life ahead of you. At a young age when we are starting a sport, they tell you to cherish each moment because you never know what could happen. They never tell you the feeling that you will feel or the thoughts that will rush through your brain, the day that final game comes. I always tell myself, life happens quickly so be sure to remember the good times.

When I first started hockey, I never knew the effect this sport would have on me or the energy that I would devote into to it. For me, it all started a little untraditionally, I started out in roller hockey playing in an outdoor league, with my cousin and brother. I never thought about ice hockey until my mom signed me up for skating lessons, and age 10, I put on ice skates for the first time. For four months I dedicated my blood, sweat, and tears into private lessons and learning to skate. After four months, I played in my first in-house league, through in-house I was asked to play on a travel team. And after one full year on skates, I played travel hockey. I now look back at that moment and realize how truly gifted I am to be able to play this sport. For some, it takes several years to make that leap but for me, I was lucky enough to go right into travel hockey after a year.

That first year of travel hockey fully convinced that this sport is the greatest sport on earth. Not because of the team, and playing but because of the off-ice support from parents, the road trips, the hotel mini hockey, the team bonding. Everything that happened that year carried on me with me forever, I will never forget those years. After two years with that team, I was forced to leave due to financial problems, so at age 13, I was scrambling to find another team and the team I had joined for a short period of time, made me despise hockey. I went from the most loving, and supportive set of teammates and parents to a team that resented me and hated me. I remember the team would shoot pucks at me, even the coach, or they some would not dress in the same locker room as me.

The reason, I bring this up because the bad times I have faced during my journey in hockey, all the good times make up for that. I was cut several times from teams, told I sucked, was never good enough to play here nor there, or just plan out hated for no reason. Hockey can be a tough sport, and a sport that is not made for everyone, it takes a special type of person to shed off the hateful words coaches and players say to us, or endure some of the things like failure, rejection, or disappointment we feel. But at the end of the day, when we look down that bench and we see 20 plus guys playing for the exact same goal, for the exact same purpose, it makes it a little easier to gear up and play through whatever is going on.

Hockey was an escape for me for 10 years, and I’m sure it has been an escape for many others that play the game, but from my experience, the reason hockey was my escape back then has a different meaning to it than many others. An escape can be something we use to get away from a nagging girlfriend, school work, social life, parents, stress, etc. But for me, it means something different, and I continue to fight back the urge to type this because, it is something I am truly ok with, and have accepted and have learned to be a better person from. For me, hockey is my escape because when I was in middle school, I was tormented, bullied and felt like I had nowhere to go in life. I missed days of school, from the fear of seeing my attackers, I feared to go out in public, I feared to make new friends. I was resentful and simply have given up on myself, I stopped playing the sport I loved and took off a full year of hockey. What happened to me caused me to let go of the one thing I loved in life. When I got back into hockey the following year, my freshman year of high school, I was scared to play and scared to be on a team again, one because of what happened to me during my middle school years both off and on the ice, I got bullied at school and at hockey.

My freshman year, my mother forced me to play again, and since then I have not looked back, sure I can sit here and say what if I didn’t stop playing, what if I found a different team, what if I tried to make friends with the team that hated me. But after that freshman year of hockey, I knew I my clock was ticking and my time in the game had only just begun, but was ending so soon. Through three years of high school playing juniors and varsity high school hockey, I never was my true self, I never allowed others to fully see the real me, I often hid behind a mask, weather I was being the team clown, or filled with rage. Through those years I had faked an attitude and persona that carried on me with me until college.

Entering my first year of college, I had no idea what to expect and I fell flat on my face, I failed miserably, and again tried to run from my problems, after freshman year of hockey, I thought it would be a good idea to try out for junior teams. After doing so, I was legitimately considering Canada or staying at school, when you live a life, constantly unsure of how to control your emotions or control how you react, situations like this are common. Now that I look at it, how stupid could I have been to considered this. Luckily I did not do that, I stayed and played at Rider my sophomore year, a year that I had struggled mentally and physically, I was always afraid to be a burden on others with how I felt, I did not want others to think I was a pansay, or complaining all the team, so I kept everything inside me. It affected my ability to connect with my team and others. Fast forward to Junior year, after being named the assistant captain and coming in physically ready, I thought the year would be different, unfortunately, it was a year filled with constant up and downs, and a team that was just not fully bought into a common goal, a goal to play for each other and not themselves.

Well, move onto my final year of hockey, the greatest year of my life. A year I will never forget and a year that has not even ended, but through 19 games and four months together with this group, I tear everytime thinking about this. To bring you back to my escape, this team is the reason why hockey has not been an escape for me anymore, it is the reason why I do not need to hide who I am from anyone or anything and I can be myself 24/7 and I know whatever I do, the guys to the left and right of me will be there to support me and cheer me on. This team has given me the confidence to do so much in life. It has allowed me to open and break the many barriers in my life, they have allowed me to tear off the masks I used to hide behind and show them the real me. Sure, there are days where I feel down or out of it and I am not fully there, but the moment I see this team or come out for a practice, the world and my thoughts wash away like water on the beach, and in the blink of an eye, I am standing there thanking god for giving me these 25 teammates. The days, I do not feel great or upbeat, I used to just throw it in a box and lock it up, with this team they allow me to open up and tell them how I really feel, what I am really scared of when I feel lost or unsure. This team has been the singular focus in my life at the moment. This team has allowed me to unleash a whole new perspective in my life, put my best foot forward and strive to accomplish anything I dream of. They have given me the power to do more than I was ever capable of and have not given me confidence in myself. To all 25 guys, from top to bottom, this team means the world to me, thank you for everything.