Hockey Around The Horn: The DUEL!

Yes we had a few mail screwups but now it is time for…..

THE LAST 2007 HATH: The Duel!!!!

HOCKEY AROUND THE HORN

BEEP! BEEP!!

Welcome everyone…I am your host Chris Wassel…today we have a special Duel-like edition of Hockey Around The Horn with two of our favorite experts….Money and Oilers4Ever….expect the sparks to fly as well as a little of everything else.

Time to get right to it……

FIRST WORD

Let’s introduce these two shall we? Okay….we shall.

In THE BLUE CORNNNERRRRRRRRRR….first up!!!!

So a baby seal walks into a club… haha. Now that I got your attention, most of you know me as Oilers4ever – but you can call me O4E or Kevin, whatever tickles your fancy! I was the original GM of the Edmonton Oilers message board here on the NHL Arena and I’m glad to be a part of the community and this wonderful game show!

And in the red cornnnnerrrrrrrrr……..we have Money. Anyone got that Pink Floyd song on cue? NO? Damn!!

Well, I’m a former junior hockey player from Canada, now living in Buffalo. My family is pretty big into hockey (Dad coached junior, Uncle played pro). I was basically raised around the game. I’m a grad student studying sports administration with plans to get into the NHL.

Ok…ok…enough of this jibber jabber crap…time to muck into the ice and see some blood!!!!!

NEWS OF THE WEEK

1. Alright….it has been talked about at length, but what is the toughest division in the league right at this moment and why?

You guys don’t waste any time with all these hard questions eh? There’s no doubt in my mind that the Atlantic Division, this year, is by far the toughest division in the National Hockey League. And I’ll explain by process of elimination…

The Pacific Division, and Northwest Division can’t be considered. While competitive, there are a couple of weak teams that fail to make a dent in how the division will play out (Phoenix and LA in the Pacific, Edmonton and Calgary in the NW).

Over in the Central Division… the Detroit Red Wings are not even in the same class as the rest of the teams. Again, highly competitive division, but the Wings are just too good which really makes it a dog fight for second.

Washington is in the Southeast Division… that right there rules that division out.

As for the Northeast Division… it’s very close and very competitive. But in the long run, I just don’t think the Buffalo Sabres will have what it takes, to remain competitive enough to make some noise in this division.

Which brings me to the toughest division in the NHL… The Atlantic Division. Just five points separate first from last. All five teams are battling tooth and nail for a playoff spot, and at this point of the season, you can’t honestly determine how this division will play out. — Oil

Thats a tough question. In the Western conference, I’d have to say the Central division. They obviously have Detroit, the best team in the league, but the rest of the division is good too. Chicago and Columbus have developed faster than people anticipated, and St. Louis and Nashville are also tough. That is the one Western Conference that doesn’t have a weak team. In the East, there are two divisions like that: the Northeast and the Atlantic. The Atlantic has one of the best collection of goalies in the league (Lundquist, Brodeur, Dipietro) plus Crosby and the Pens; and the now tough again Flyers. The last place team in the Northeast was the regular season champs last year. If I have to name one division, I’d have to go with the Atlantic because of the goaltending. A tough goalie is difficult to overcome, and it can effect you mentally as well. Playing a guy like Brodeur is different than someone like Raycroft. One goal against feels like a lot more against Brodeur. — Money

2. Did anyone happen to catch the 9-5 win by the Avs on Sunday night? Will we see more of this as the season goes on?

Considering I have Milan Hejduk in one of my hockey pools, I sincerely hope we see more of this! But in all seriousness, this is a rarity in the NHL and we won’t see much more of that.

In today’s day and age, goaltenders are a lot better and teams have been able to play smart defensive hockey. What happened in that 9-5 game is that you had two teams who struggle in between the pipes, and a game where defence really went out the window. You just won’t see that very often.

Will we see more 5-4, 6-5 games… probably… but 9 goals… that’s a heck of a lot. I don’t see that happening very often.
— OIL

I didn’t catch the game but from checking out the box scores, it just looks like poor goaltending. Neither team cracked 30 shots on net, meaning it might have been fast-paced, but no more than normal. These type of games can occur when you have two guys like Theodore and Toivonen facing off. Both are talented guys who are prone to lapses where they play horribly. Anytime two goalies like that face off you have the chance for a barn burner. — Money

3. Now who is going to be that breakout player that comes charging out of the All-Star Break or will it be someone we know very very well?

This is a tough question to say the least. Jarome Iginla has a tendancy to come on strong late in the season, so that’s very much a possibility. On the other hand, I think after a slow start plus some injuries… Alexander Frolov may be ready to explode offensivly if he can remain healthy. Like anything else, this is very much a crapshoot… it’ll be interesting, none the less. — OIL

Thats tough to say right now. The biggest things I look for when trying to find a break out player is shots on goal and ice time. Players who have been getting opportunities but not cashing in on them are likely to begin scoring more of them later. A couple of guys that I would expect to see higher offensive output from would be Brendan Shanahan, Jason Blake, Chris Higgins, Patrick Elias and Chris Drury. These guys have been getting a lot of offensive opportunities but haven’t been cashing in on them.
— MONEY

4. As the Holiday Trade Freeze approaches….will anything happen before or after…or will it just get dull until the trade deadline?

Nothing will happen until it gets closer to the trade deadline. In today’s day and age, the Salary Cap will prevent teams from making trades until the last moment possible, that way they won’t have to pay as much salary to that player. Not to mention the fact that there’s still a lot of hockey left to be played, and unless you’re the Washington Capitals, you still have a realistic chance at making the playoffs. So General Managers will wait till February to break loose and have some fun. — OIL

Well now that Recchi has found a home, and the Weight-McDonald deal has gone down, I don’t see anything further. I think the big action will be coming later when the trade deadline hits. — MONEY

Now time for a quick commercial break……

HEY YOU! YES…YOU…in The NHL Arena….think you are some awesome predictor of games but just getting the team right isn’t enough for ya….why not check out The Bottom Line in the Arena Arcade section. The daily line is touted out right in front of you…all you have to do is get the spread right. So if you think you have the Arena Prediction Contest down…how hard could The Bottom Line be? Well why not find out today!!!!!

Ok…ok….time to get to the next round……..

OUT OF BOUNDS

Alright….here’s one with a twist…..your fantasy hockey team has clinched a playoff spot (You’re in a head to head league). To top it off…you are playing a team in 7th place needing a good showing to sneak into the top 6 to make the playoffs. Say you go and trounce the team you’re playing to make a statement heading into the playoffs. Are you out of bounds for doing that or is it part of the game?

Out of Bounds? hahahaha that’s laughable at best. If someone thinks that scenario is out of bounds, they may as well be holding Mommy’s hand and are better off playing Go Fish or something like that. I mean first of all, you can’t control how the players do anyway. Sure you can bench them… but what if your benched players go on a hot streak? That stuff is all out of your hands.

As for making a statement… hell yea! That’s what competition is all about… you’re going out to win at all times. In fact, if you were to take it easy on that team, you’re showing some major disrespect to them and in essence saying that they’re no competition. At the end of the day, in a hockey pool you’re out to do one thing and one thing only… WIN! — OIL

Its a part of the game. Well I can’t say I wouldn’t be upset if I was the team fighting for the playoff spot, but its the only way for everything to be fair. Basically, its unfair to the other teams fighting for the playoff spot. They all had to play the top teams at full strentgh, so it is only fair that everyone does. — MONEY

OVER OR UNDER

Alright….the over/under is 3 goalies will win 40 or more games…..over or under?????? And why?

Under. There are only four goalies capable of winning 40 or more games anyways… Brodeur, Luongo, Nabokov and Lundqvist… at the rate they’re going, it’s almost impossible that they’ll be able to pull out all those wins. Nabokov currently leads the NHL with 15 wins… the Sharks have played 28 Games. That means Nabokov will have to win 25 games in the next 54 games in order to get 40 wins. Take into consideration that it’s unlikely he’ll start in all 54 remaining games… and it’s hard to imagine getting the big 4-0. — OIL

I’d go with the under. Brodeur seems to be the only hands down forty game winner this season. I figure Nabokov will for sure, and possibly Kipper if both him and Calgary can pick up their play a bit. I’d say Luongo as well, but his injury scares me a bit, hopefully it doesn’t linger. Either way, there are too many good back up goalies in the league, and too many teams that have a hands down starter aren’t going to give their goalie enough chances to win. — Money

Cue up Metallica’s The Ectasy of Gold….because it is time forrrrrrrr……….

THE SHOWDOWN

Alright…these two have battled toe to toe all evening…now its time to settle the score and lock the cage down for the steel cage part of the showdown…two men enter…once one comes out unscathed!!!

1. Who is that one team that you expect to go to hell in a handbasket in the second half? How bad will they do?

Does Washington count? I mean, they’re already sinking faster than the Titanic… can it get much worse? I think so… they’re just a terrible team. Sure they’ve got Ovechkin, Backstrom and Semin… and Kolzig is decent between the pipes. But aside from that… it’s a young, inexperienced squad that will struggle to string together some victorious as the season progresses. Unless they pull off some major deals at the deadline, I don’t see them getting any better… and if it’s possible, they may even get worse! — OIL

I think the teams with the biggest room to fall are the younger teams that have been playing well so far. I would say Columbus, Chicago and Boston will be teams that have been playing playoff calibre hockey that will fall out of the race. — Money

2. Who will ultimately be the starting goalies for this year’s All-Star Game…..now who should be?

I think this is a no brainer… Roberto Luongo in the West… Henrik Lundqvist in the East. Luongo is the real deal is arguably the greatest goaltender in the NHL at this very moment. Lundqvist has had a solid year and deserves the recognition. I’d give some heavy consideration to Evgeni Nabokov in the West… but in the end, I think Luongo is the better goaltender and deserves the nod… but make sure Nabokov is in the mix! As for the East…after Lundqvist… Brodeur and Ward should be considered. — OIL

I would say Brodeur and Luongo based on their reputations. They are thought of generally as the best two goalies in the league, and usually the all star game reflects the common thought. I would however put Lundqvist and Nabokov are the more deserving goaltenders. — Money

3. If there is one alcoholic drink you want more with you at a hockey game more than anything….what would it be??? Do elaborate without slurring.

I’ll have an ice cold beer any day… but to be honest, I just don’t wanna pay $5.75 for a glass of beer, that half the time is warm by the time you get it in ur hands. So I don’t drink while attending hockey games… but when I’m watchin it with the boys at the bar… let’s get some Alexander Keith’s flowing from the tap and I’m a happy guy. And when the Oilers score… let’s have a shot of Oilers… in other words, I look at the bartender and tell him to mix something blue and orange together and let’s do er up!

But please remember… if you do drink at a hockey game or a bar, do yourself and all of us a favor… don’t drive home.
— OIL

A beer. Just about any kind, preferably of Canadian make. You know how Canadian beer is like moonshine. However, at hockey games I like to get some shelled peanuts to go with my beer. Its a good combination. — Money

Well this one was tough but using some strange form of scoring known only to the judges…we came up with a winner for this special DUEL-like edition. Money bloodied Oil heavily in the late rounds but Oil just barely saved it in the showdown giving him just enough points to yank out the victory…..

And with a final score of 31-28…(football score maybe?)…Oil…..this is your face time….so USE IT!!!

I’d like to thank all the little people out there… without you, watching Little People, Big World, wouldn’t be as entertaining. In all seriousness, it’s an honour to win and I’m proud to be one more reason why the City of Edmonton is the City of Champions!

A man of many words…so choked up by winning…..he could only muster a couple sentences!!! Well that is how hard Hockey Around The Horn is…it is so draining yet satisfying. Now Oil….get some of those cuts looked at….it looked like a real war out there!!!!!

Stay tuned for the next Hockey Around The Horn….a special one year anniversary Bloggers Edition coming in January…till then I am Chris..your host…..good fight…..GOOD NIGHT!!!!

About Chris Wassel

Simply I am a hockey writer who is a jack of all trades. Whether it is draft, fantasy, NHL, KHL, AHL, etc...I probably can write about it. The challenge in hockey is to be able to step out of your comfort zone and write like you are still there. Hopefully you enjoy the humor in the writing on the site and tell your friends. Thanks for reading!

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