– Gagner keeps scoring. And lost among all of the noise is that Eberle is currently 8th in league scoring. Some good players on this team.
– But as Justin Bourne points out here, we have some real special players. And not in a good way.
– Nuge was hit and is out for another 7 to 10 days.
– Like his opinion or not, you have to admit Mc79hockey‘s new banner is pretty awesome.
– But I do happen to like his opinion (and BlackDogHatesSkunks) on Hemsky. Seems silly to run him out of town like he has been. And why people think that one bad year means his career is done.
– Next year, the outdoor game will be going to Detroit. And will include the Laffs.
– Not NHL, but the Giants won the super bowl. I lost money.
– Gomez hasn’t scored in over a year!
– Holy crap is this awesome.
Question of the Week
Hypothetically, should the Oilers finish 29th and end up with the 2nd pick, what should they do? Draft BPA (Grigorenko?), draft for need (Murray or Dumas) or trade down and pick up an extra asset while drafting for need.
Fight of the Week
Still a 5 teams enter, 1 leaves scenario. Steve-O bet is that Phoenix makes it.
FHL: JANUARY SUMMARY
Another monthly chapter of the FHL has been closed, but I’ll be here to provide you with the Sparknotes version of the events. While it was not quite as static as December, the standings are now clearly fragmenting into a group of contenders, a few chasers and a pack who cannot fight and cannot flee. Though the championship has sailed…pause…for a number of teams, the league has yet to become stale – proven by several significant jumps and drops. Most notably, perhaps, was the the Serpents who overtook 5 teams in the process of putting up a solid 219 points, which was third best in the FHL. Similarly, the bottom dwelling Devils had an offensive outburst that put them 5th overall in January, though they remain just 20th in the total standings. Let’s take a more detailed team by team look at how things went last month.
Ktown’s Heatwave evicted the Rhinos from the throne to gain their first ever FHL lead. Their January best 238pts provided a pinch of legitimacy to the usurpation. There’s no question that the Heatwave are an FHL powerhouse and they are arguably odds on to win the inagural season too. Ktown continues his undaunted approach to making trades. He started the pre-season by moving his first rounder and top talent like Kessel and Burns. He has remained incredibly active, making both minor moves and complex exchanges that may only be settled by someone here passing the bar exam. His December capture of Jimmy Howard has begun to pay off too: his goalie tandem put up a new record of 45pts in January.
Ktown also went back to the Laker well to reacquire defenseman Brent Burns (who was moved out prior to the season), as well as taking on several other rentals. Rumour has it that the Heatwave’s trade for waiverees Sami Salo and Steve Sullivan foiled an attempted claim for these players by at least one unnamed top club. His aggression and taste for pre-emptive strikes puts Ktown somewhere between Saddam Hussein and George Bush Jr. in the political spectrum. In the hockey world, however, he is top dog. Will his mercenaries be enough to win the final battles?
He was temporarily set back, but Gas will have plans in place to make the first spot his Stalingrad. The Rhinos experienced some supply problems in January, and their point total of 192 was near the league median. When our resident analysts look back on this season upon its completion, they will likely define December 21st as its El-Alamein. We can only wonder if Gas regrets moving stellar netminder Jimmy Howard to his arch rival the Heatwave for future assets. Patrick Marleau and Alex Pietrangelo were able to cover for some of the losses, but the lack of delivery from the likes of Jagr, Jokinen and Kunitz meant the Rhinos could not complement their fine December performance. Despite the loss of position, the Rhinos remain fully capable of mounting a comeback – though it might require some scrambling to do so – with only 28 points separating the top two franchises. Will Gas fuel up before the trade deadline?
According to the highly reliable and esteemed “uncyclopedia”, the ‘Trogdor þæm Bærnettamber’ poem was lost for centuries before it was found again. History does not mimic its (dubious) art, for the Burninatorsare still very much present at the top of the FHL. They may not be burninating peasants, but they scorched the opponents with strong overall performances from an array of players. Consistency is the word that best describes the Burninators. Will they be able to surpass their own level to take the title?
December’s incredible 13- spot jump marked the voyage into striking distance for the Vikings. Now they are creeping upriver to seize the league’s most prized positions. With the second best score in January, just a point behind the Heatwave, Norwegianoiler’s Vikings overtook the Tigers to gain 4th place. The Vikings carry a solid core of forwards, though they are proving quite streaky on a month-to-month basis. For that reason, GM NorwegianOiler added veteran Shane Doan (and Alexei Ponikarovsky) to his squad for the price of Jarret Stoll. Despite their additions, it will require some crafty navigation from the Vikings if they are to close the 57 point gap to the top.
The Tigers put up an average month for their GM, Saevel, with 188 points. Their regular scorers Datsyuk, Callahan, Benn and Foligno keep pouring points into the vault, but injuries and slumps meant Jordan Staal, Kris Versteeg and Zach Bogosian did not contribute enough to hold ground in the league. Saevel possesses a nice pool of talent, but it appears it might not be supplemented with sufficient depth players up front. Hall, Adams and Kostopolous were more lambs than Tigers in January, though Saevel keeps up with far more expensive outfits in the FHL.
Although the Raiders produced just a slightly above average month at 197 points, good enough for 9th in January, their GM Steve-o must be content that they actually climbed one spot in the standings. That was however, more a result of the Lakers’ apocalyptic drop than due to the Raiders’ own device. In February, the Raiders anticipate the return Jeff Skinner and Marc Staal, in addition to perhaps getting back the ‘real’ Ryan Miller. Skeptics will argue that if the Raiders are to become more than a hit-and-run force, they might have to dip into the trade market and raise a bigger army. With Hemsky having delivered his best month yet for his new boss (though only a modest 10,6pts), Steve-o could be tempted make bids for other favourites of his.
At lucky seven we find the illustrious Bombers, whose manager Racki must be pleased to see his team climb five spots in January. He lost Ales Hemsky, but the Bombers’ GM was treated to a nice collection of performances from the likes of Backes, Read, Hudler, Pacioretty, Kopitar and Wideman. Pekka Rinne dutifully assembled 24 points on his own sweet own. As if that wasn’t enough fortune for the Bombers, their main rivals, the Mustangs, dropped four spots. This turn of events can only mean we’re about 2/3s of the way through a universal replay of the 80s classic, Youngblood. All the world’s a stage. And all the men and women merely players; in this obscure live reindition. Oh, and Christian Ehrhoff only has eight years remaining on his deal.
The Rattleheads have dug in at 8th and did not impress particularly in January. General manager Crott has assessed the chances of significant improvement in the standings as slim. His sober evaluation may have hit the skull beneath the skin with a distinct rattling effect. Few of his players, forwards or defensemen, managed to follow their solid December months with similar outputs in January. Forward Derek Roy has explicitly been made available for trade.
The British Expeditionary Force from Nottingham, the Panthers, made up for their drop in December by climbing back into the top 10. Alan-NottsUK’s side cap off the trio of teams from 7th to 9th that are only separated by 4 points. That’s competitively close after 4 months of action. Even without injured Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and inactive Andrew Cogliano (who scored 4g 5a +2), the Panthers put up an above average 191 points. With just two and a half months to go, the Panthers harbour no hope of winning the title, but they should be poised to make a predatory leap toward the top five. Can Alan impel his beasts to complete such a feat?
At 10th, Samson is still some way short of slaying an entire army, or even man-handling a lion, but his team, the Thunder, have made inspiring progress by jumping five spots in the rankings. Their 206 points were good enough for seventh best in January, a result built chiefly on the team’s strong defensive performances. The FHL second best 61 blueline points were nicely complemented by a strong 34 point service from his netminders. If Samson can stave off the barberous teams behind him, his Thunder has an outside chance of making the top 5. Should his forwards continue to fail him, however, he could be forced to shed his locks and look toward next season sooner rather than later.
Another rising team that hit the 200 point mark in January was the Ice Dogs. Rhbdken’s outfit has slowly crept up the rankings since November and find themselves just 4 points out of the top ten. The success was in no small part due to the endeavours of Russian superstar Evgeni Malkin, whose 25,2 points added valuable wealth to rhbdken’s tray. Nonetheless, the recent departure of starting netminder Nik Bäckström have ignited speculations as to whether or not the Ice Dogs intend to make a bid for the top 10 at all. The tandem of Budaj/Mason does not appear strong enough to sustain further ascent, but there is still time to amend the situation before the trade deadline. If nothing else, rhbdken has a sizable selection of picks and roster spots available. So, the trade with the Stingers has provided him with a number of options for the future.
The Youngblood protagonists the Mustangs have evidently arrived at the conflict part of this season’s plot. Their GM, Mr.Majestyk, was coldheartedly betrayed by the performances of Henrik Sedin, Mikko Koivu (IR), and Ondrej Pavelec. The latest Triumvirate conspired against their manager wielding weapons of subpar scoring, injury and collapse under pressure. Unable to withstand this vortex of failure, Mr.Majestyk saw his otherwise strong outfit drop 4 spots into 12th. His team is still a strong one, but the Mustangs will have to shift from trot to gallop to catch up to the rest of the herd in front of them.
The biggest positive in the FHL in January were arguably the Serpents, ruled by the secretive MG10. His team put up third most points in the FHL, overtook five teams and gave their boss good reason for optimism. The Serpents’ rise got its legs from a league best defensive corps that put up 64 points. Carey Price and Jonas Gustavsson combined for a strong 38 points, which means the Serpents have improved every month since the start of the year.
Unable to circumvent Newton’s Third Law, the Rebels dropped as the teams below took a step up. Mlab90 can partly attribute the meagre 153 points with a persistent influx of players to the injury list. Among the casualties were skilled forwards like Simon Gagne and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Moreover, among the Rebel forwards, only Krejci, Moulson and O’Reilly qualified as anything else than miserable. The rest were either injured, atrocious, or both.
Though several other teams had poor months in January, they are all eclipsed by the Lakers, governed by haboiler. The team spent little time achieving terminal velocity and fell through the month and finally landed 9 spots below their December position, finishing at an ugly 15th place. The Lakers 130 points is only a fraction better than the worst-ever month suffered by the Tanners, who picked up a scarce 127 points back in October. Haboiler is now in the process of rebuilding, evidenced by his involvement in four of the seven deals made in January. He sent away several players to shed salary and open roster space. What seemed a promising start has been completely undone, but the core of the team is still full of young talent.
Another forlorn team is the Flares. Five months ago, iCanada proudly selected Sidney Crosby 1st overall in the draft. Concussion issues accounted, he could have done nothing differently. Still, the price will be failure in this inaugural season. Now, not even Sidney could have saved the Flares, unless his abilities included healing fragile defensemen like Mike Green and Chris Pronger. There’s always a remark to be made on failure, call it an explanation or an excuse, but it is likely that everyone will take notice once iCanada can ice a fully healthy roster again. In the meanwhile, fine performances from Hamonic, White, Neil and Hiller are worth next to nothing.
Jfrizzio77’s Militia are equipped like Marines, but fight like Boy Scouts. With a forward lineup sporting Nash, Toews, Cammalleri as well as solid supporting players like Ribeiro, Johansen, Little, Setoguchi, Whitney, Jfrizzio commands a strong lineup. Nonetheless, the Militia foundered and delivered a pungent 143 point deuce in January. Directed by his heart, Jfrizzio drafted a number of Blue Jackets and it appears his Milita has caught a rotten case of Jacketitis. Nevertheless, there is reason to believe in the Militia, which comprise of much young talent that have yet to reach the NHL.
Lurking in the bushes at 18th are the Chiefs, whose January output of 154 points has left much to be desired. To Zackman35’s frustration, the Chiefs continue to plummet, having once held 4th place in the FHL, they are now 221 points out of first place. Much like the Milita, the Chiefs harbour a wealth of untapped potential that cannot get going. Consistent underperformers like Penner, Niederreiter and Reimer are prime candidates for the gallows bird of the month award. Mike Fisher, on the other hand, played with purpose and helped the team with his 23,5 points. The Chiefs are a team in desperate need of a conductor to orchestrate a concerted effort from their many top players.
Since dropping 6 spots in November, the Bulldogs have experienced intertia. Gr8one’s side have not moved from 19th since December 1st. Their January total was actually 11th best in the league, but the effort was just good enough to put them 6 points out of 18th. There is no unprecedented reason why the Bulldogs aren’t higher in the standings – the problem appears to be that every player stops short of a very good month. Gr8one has yet to get a 20 point month from any forward, and only once has a defenseman cracked 15 points. With All-Stars like Spezza, Getzlaf and Letang in the mix, hoping for better individual performances is not asking too much.
The Devils, led by mrgod2u, finally cracked the 200 point mark and produced a month good enough for 5th in the FHL. The impact it had on the season standings, however, was diminutive. The salary heavy ghouls were led by excellent performances from Vinny Lecavalier, Dan Boyle and not least record-shattering John Tavares, who forced his way to an amazing 33 points on the month. Once mrgod2u figures out how to fit all his well-paid players into the same active roster, this team may start to do some real damage in the FHL.
As of this month, the struggling Wildcats are no more. Splat will be relieved of his duty and the challenge of herding his cats will be handed to a new general manager to be unveiled soon. Left to their own devices, the Wildcats did manage to climb one spot in the standings, amassing 173 points on the month.
Chucker has yet to find a cure for the ailments of the Stingers. His team could muster just 149 points and were thus unable to prevent a drop to 22nd in the league. One would think that a team rooted to the bottom of the league in late January would begin to plan ahead for the upcoming draft, but no such plan was contreived by the Stingers. Instead, they dealt the lot of their 2012 picks to the Ice Dogs for netminder Niklas Bäckström! In related news, Suncor Energy has paid an undisclosed fee for Chucker’s balls, which they intend to replace the pathetic industrial diamonds used in their drill crowns.
There is work to do in Stinger land, and Chucker clearly intends to do it. Without draft picks, it is likely that he’ll look toward free agency to replenish some of the lost talent on his roster.
At the very bottom of the league we find the newly established Dragons (formely Tanners), run by no other than rtsen, who previously controlled the Rhinos (780 All Stars). Working from the principle that “Adversity reveals the genius of a general; good fortune conceals it”, rtsen now begins work on a team that has been 20th or worse all season. While the Dragons may not have a lot of points, they have an abundance of two elements imperative to a rebuild. Roster space and cap room. Expect rtsen to be actively pursuing deals before the deadline.
The Barons still sit first in their conference, however have dropped to 2nd in the league behind St. John’s IceCaps (sponsored by Timmeh’s perhaps). They have 65 points in 47 games, and are up by 5 on the next team within the conference.
Ryan Keller is still leading the team in scoring with 37 in 45, and sits 29th in the league. Goalies sit 1 and 2 in the league (Danis and LenNeveu respectively).
Oil Kings still sit first in the conference with 78 points in 54 games. They are 6 points up on the next team in the conference.
St. Croix sits 5th in league scoring with 84 points in 54 games and Wruck sits 12th with 69 in 54.
Brossoit sits 4th in league goaltending.
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