Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mirtle's mailbag

I don’t know if it was the Thanksgiving long weekend up here in Canada, or if people are just starting to really get into the NHL season, but I had a whole whack of e-mail come in over the weekend. Here’s a look at some of the best ones:

Hey James,

What the hell is wrong with Tomas Vokoun? I haven't seen much of either game he's played (sure, they were high-scoring "river hockey" at its finest), but has he ever given up 13 goals in two straight games (to Chicago and Minnesota, of all teams?!?) in his career?

I thought for sure he was a lock for a good goalie in my pool — I took him in the second round (17 people drafting; 21st overall) and he was behind only Kiprusoff, Brodeur, Luongo and Turco — but I'm so disappointed (yeah, it's been two games). Even Raycroft is looking like a better pick at this point.

Have you read anything that I'm not seeing about his blood clots? Did someone run over his cat or something? I'm starting to think we may be better off blaming the blueline's lack of muscle (i.e. Markov and Witt) more than the goaltending, but I'm scared that might be wishful thinking. I'm considering dropping him already... I had such high expectations for the Preds this year, I'm just totally shocked.

I know, I know... it's only been two games... but if he can't stop more than 80% of the shots he faces, it's going to be a long year in Music City. I'd love to hear your opinion.

Dan P.

I think the main thing is that it has only been two games. Still, the craziest stat to come out of Nashville’s season so far is the fact they are only 30 per cent on the penalty kill, and seven of the 13 goals Vokoun has allowed have come on the power play. Throw in a shorthanded goal against, and there’s a lot more going on with the Predators than simply their goaltender letting them down.

There are two things I’d point to: Coach Barry Trotz is breaking in more new defenceman, and Kimmo Timonen is the only blueliner on his crew with more than two years NHL experience. Players like Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Mikko Lehtonen and Greg Zanon are all still being worked in, and I don’t think you can expect a contender with a defence that’s that green.

The other thing happening, at least in the early going, is that teams like Chicago and Columbus are showing they’re not going to rollover like last year. If so, Nashville has a much tougher test in the Central Division, and instead of worrying about catching Detroit, they’ll have to think about who’s coming up behind them.

Throw in the fact that Vokoun’s been merely average (not awful), and things don’t look so good in hockey-man Tennessee. Nashville’s got a soft schedule coming up, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities to run things around. No one has indicated health problems have been part of the equation, so I wouldn’t drop him just yet.

Hi James. I drafted Stanislav Chistov in a fantasy game this season on the basis that he had signed a two year, one way contract with the Ducks and was thinking that he could make quite an impression, being small and quick. So far there has been no trace of him this season yet and he is not listed on NHL.com.

I was wondering if you knew what has happened to him... I hope I haven't wasted a solid draft pick :-(

Stuart R.

One-way contract or not, Chistov’s in tough on this team and he’s been a healthy scratch so far. The Ducks have two set offensive lines that have been working well, and the little Russian’s just not the kind of player coach Randy Carlyle wants on his checking lines — especially not when he can put horses like Sam Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer and even Todd Fedoruk out there.

Chistov didn’t impress anyone in his first stint in North America, as he managed just 38 points in his lone full AHL season, and he was invisible in the preseason. With Anaheim humming along at 3-0 right now and no one injured, I doubt he gets into the lineup any time soon.

I’d dump him, Stu.

James, I very much enjoy your blog and I am hoping you might be able to answer/confirm the following statement. Recently, someone indicated that a team captain-ed by a European star, i.e. Alfredson, Sundin, Lidstrom, etc.. has never won the Stanley Cup during their respective tenure.

Alex B., Go Leafs Go!!

Nope, it has never happened. And Derian Hatcher is the only non-Canadian captain to have done it.

This is a tidbit people bring up all the time in this city, as if it somehow indicates Mats Sundin shouldn’t be the team’s captain, but given Europeans have only been named the captain of teams with regularity in the last decade, it’s not really a surprise. With players like Jaromir Jagr and Nicklas Lidstrom now captains, I think it’s only a matter of time before one of them leads his team to a Cup.



At 3:26 p.m., October 10, 2006, Anonymous Anshu said...

Isn't Mike Modano the only non-Canadian captain to win a cup? I thought he wore the C in Dallas when they last won.

At 5:13 p.m., October 10, 2006, Blogger girlysportsrant said...

It was Hatcher. Modano became captain in 2003


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