Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2016-2017 National Hockey League Prognostications

Title self explanatory as I will predict the division by division standings, seed the playoffs based off of my standings outcome and once that is complete I will delve into my individual Award predictions.  I hope you thoroughly enjoy!

*=Conference Regular Season Title


1.Pittsburgh Penguins*
2.New York Islanders
3.Washington Capitals
4.New Jersey Devils(W1)
5.Philadelphia Flyers(W2)
6.New York Rangers
7.Columbus Blue Jackets
8.Carolina Hurricanes


1.Buffalo Sabres
2.Tampa Bay Lightning
3.Detroit Red Wings
4.Ottawa Senators
5.Florida Panthers
6.Boston Bruins
7.Montreal Canadiens
8.Toronto Maple Leafs


1.Chicago Blackhawks
2.St.Louis Blues
3.Winnipeg Jets
4.Nashville Predators(W1)
5.Dallas Stars
6.Minnesota Wild
7.Colorado Avalanche


1.Los Angeles Kings*
2.Anaheim Ducks
3.Calgary Flames
4.Edmonton Oilers(W2)
5.San Jose Sharks
6.Vancouver Canucks
7.Arizona Coyotes



Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers= Pittsburgh in six
New York Islanders v Washington Capitals=Washington in five
Buffalo Sabres v New Jersey Devils=New Jersey in six
Tampa Bay Lightning v Detroit Red Wings=Tampa Bay in seven

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators=Nashville in six
St.Louis Blues v Winnipeg Jets=Winnipeg in five
Los Angeles Kings v Edmonton Oilers=LA in five
Anaheim Ducks  v Calgary Flames=Anaheim in seven


Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals=Pittsburgh in six
Tampa Bay Lightning v New Jersey Devils=New Jersey in seven

Winnipeg Jets v Nashville Predators=Winnipeg in six
Los Angeles Kings v Anaheim Ducks=Los Angeles in seven

Conference Finals:

Pittsburgh Penguins v New Jersey Devils=Pittsburgh in five
Los Angeles Kings v Winnipeg Jets=Winnipeg in seven

Stanley Cup final:

Pittsburgh Penguins v Winnipeg Jets=Pittsburgh in five


Conn Smythe-Sidney Crosby(Pittsburgh)

Hart Trophy(M.V.P):

Sidney Crosby(Pittsburgh)
Drew Doughty(Los Angeles)
Connor McDavid(Edmonton)

Calder Trophy(Top Rookie):

Auston Matthews(Toronto)
Alex Tuch(Minnesota)
Zach Werenski(Columbus)

Norris Trophy(Best Defenceman):

Drew Doughty(Los Angeles)
Victor Hedman(Tampa Bay)
Alex Pietrangelo(St.Louis)

Jack Adams Trophy(Top Coach):

Dan Bylsma(Buffalo)
Randy Carlyle(Anaheim)
Mike Sullivan(Pittsburgh)

General Manager of the Year:

Doug Armstrong(St.Louis)
Pete Chiarelli(Edmonton)
Ken Holland(Detroit)

Selke Trophy(Best Defensive Forward):

Patrice Bergeron(Boston)
Ryan Kesler(Anaheim)
Frans Nielsen(Detroit)

Lady Byng Trophy(Sportsmanlike + Ability):

Jack Eichel(Buffalo)
Mikko Koivu(Minnesota)
Anze Kopitar(Los Angeles)

Vezina Trophy(Top Goaltender):Bishop,Halak,Murray

Ben Bishop(Tampa Bay)
Jaroslav Halak(New York Islanders)
Matt Murray(Pittsburgh)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Where's Kerry Collins?

Fans of Los Angeles, there's a disconnect between ownership and the coaching administration, correct?  Jeff Fisher has been through the ringer while accounting for his years of experience on the sidelines with the Tennessee Titans and now the Rams organization is a veteran bech boss that has no desire to develop their first overall pick Jared Goff. There's some history in previous stops of Coach Fisher doing this. Lest we not forget the handling of Vince Young in Tennessee. The uninitiated correlate the Texas Longhorn alum as one of the games biggest busts but those same individuals forget that he was once named to the Pro Bowl. Injuries and some poor off field decisions eventually cost Young the starters position but after leading a comeback effort in 2007 in what started as a disastrous campaign for the Titans turned fruitful when Young utilized his legs and advanced Tennessee to the Wild-card game.  His reward, a 2008 benching in favor for the ageless wonder Kerry Collins. This was a backwards organizational move, one endorsed by Titans ownership and requested by coach Fisher but the type of move as we put Young's career in a retrospective was a confidence shatterer as his mindset was never the same. Could a comparison be drawn between Young and Goff? Absolutely. So why was Goff brought in with the first overall selection.......well it's not difficult to ascertain why. The Coliseum was going to play home to a NFL franchise for the first time in twenty two years so the ownership group wanted the 'sexy' selection to draw recognition to the franchise. The problem is though, at some point there wasn't pertinent communication as to the coaches feelings on Goff.  Hot take(not really) Case Keenum is unquestionably the worst current starting quarterback in the NFL so it's not as if he's playing behind a Aaron Rodgers type. Do I think the Rams have a capable collection of receivers, well not exactly but given the proper tutelage Tavon Austin has number one potential so why not attempt to build chemistry between a young receiver and an even younger quarterback.  This division is ripe for the taking, and I firmly believe with the defence implemented by Gregg Williams that the Los Angeles Rams have playoff aspirations so I'm pleading with Rams management to put the faithful who pay good money to attend a game at the Coliseum out of their misery by fielding a competent quarterback and although we can't say for certainty that Jared Goff is competent, what I can say with complete certainty is he's spades ahead of Case Keenum.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

#bb18 Power Rankings(Week of September 11th)

The final five is upon us. For those disgusted at the move Nicole and Corey made this week, give your head  a shake as in what universe would a pair knowingly take another pair  to the final four? Answer in no universe is that acceptable. This season has entered into a unique dynamic as from this bloggers vantage point, the returning players are the houseguests who have been rendered with having no chance and my rankings will reflect such.

5.James- James is safe, has smartly aligned with Corey and Nicole but it doesn't alter my thoughts towards his general demeanour.  What James does is, and this has been touched on several times on certain RHAP broadcasts is he airs his dirty laundry to the other houseguests giving off the "poor is me" perception. Anyone familiar with feeds is aware James brings that upon himself and the decision by CBS to portray Natalie as the bad egg in the relationship was completely unjust. What he says in the diary room opposed to how he conducts himself do not correlate. James talks about how his sole purpose of re-entering the  house was to win the 500K but his actions tell a different story. Was he all about winning the money when if Natalie would've treated James with a more endearing attitude he would've fell on his  sword for her? Was he all about the money when in a pivotal Head of Household competiton he bowed down because Nicole wanted a letter from her family while sacrificing Michelle in the process. It's the contradictory comments that I have no time for.

4.Nicole- I'll be the first to admit Nicole's game play in the last few weeks has been stellar, it's been her lack of jury management skills that is cause for concern. A lot of the now members of the jury internally have suggested that Nicole's reputation precedes her of hiding herself in a room until it's time for competitions and that has alienated her with the majority of females. Us the viewer can visibly what she's doing and unless you're pressed down watching live feeds 24/7 the houseguests will have good of a view as any and these alienation tactics will come back and bite her if she's fortunate enough to reach the final two. Another point I want to explore is who Nicole envies to sit next to in a final scenario, I just feel like she's subtly hinting how Corey is "so loved" or has so many friends in the jury that she's dropping clues that she may not aspire to take Corey to the final two if the responsbility comes her way. I have this hunch that she feels that she stands a better chance beating James for which I don't blame her as that's her best strategical maneuver. Corey could leave devastated but say what you want about Nicole, her personality and antics are aggravating but has quietly gaming hard the entire season.It's the amount of people that she can beat has me resorting her to the fourth ranking.

3.Victor-Bragging about the quantity of competition wins is something that if I could walk in the house and coach Victor, I'd advise him to stop that ASAP. For myself personally, I'd have  a difficult time awarding him with the cheque at the end of the day. This however will be a tough thing for the jury to hold him on as he easily presents the most genuine personality in the house. There are so many things to appreciate about his character, the friendship he has shown Paul has been commendable but I feel like his undoing may be his black and white approach. The  premise of the game is to be deceitful. The problem with Victor and Paul is they're too upfront about anything and for the life of me I don't understand how they didn't see these latest nominations coming. Even thought Victor will be the one that I'm reading will likely receive the boot, I don't view that as "Nicorey's" best move as the relationship forged between Paul and James is stronger than James and Victor. With Nicole gone his game is, to reference Zingot, "El-donezo".

2.Paul-Acculumatively when I tally up my weekly ranking he has the lowest  count but due to circumstances of how this week's played out, I was forced to drop him a spot. Nicole won Veto which means barring last minute strategical conversations the Sitting Ducks will be down a member with Victor going home, so we must look at how Paul can get back in the other's good graces. I briefly touched on how Nicole has been very complimentary of Corey and Corey winning the America's Care Package when he did may falsely have Nicole prescribing to theory that Corey is beloved by all and want to target him in the final three/four. If that happens, then Nicole is as delusional as James but save for that actually happening, Team Friendship will have to re invent himself. I have one plausible theory that could open a hidden door for Paul. We have long thought that Corey considers Nicole as his unbreakable bond but what if Paul uses complicated logic to Corey by breaking down the possible jury by proclaiming that Nicole has more friends on the jury than anybody and can't be beaten Would it be enough for Corey to open his eyes and contemplate Nicole as expendable, For Corey this would be a devastatingly bad move as Paul's the one guy who will give him a run for his money but worth a try because from an outside perspective if Paul doesn't win the Final four H.O.H or veto then his days are severely numbered.

1.Corey-I hope everyone will read this and read back to my very first ranking, one constant has remained and that's my admiration for Corey's game. If you believed the edit as it's presented then you're of the opinion all Corey does is sleep and not converse with anyone not named Nicole. This ascertation could not be further from the truth. He's always around the communal area clowning around with whomever's around and because of that, Paulie comes to mind as houseguests that consider Corey one of the stronger players whereas we the public view him as an afterthought. Why is that you ask, well it's all about the edit. CBS wants us to believe he's an afterthought but due the dwindling numbers, it's no coicindence that he's being shown in a more serious manner because productions is probably panicking that he may actually win the game. And for those in the RHAP community reading this, it's only fair that I get a shout-out on one of the after shows or Rhappy Hours as I've maintained this pro Corey stance from pretty much week one. Corey Brooks is going to win the game and I'll be one of the few unsurprised when this happens.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

2016-2017 Western Hockey League Award Nominations

In conjunction with the league preview I just finished, I will now distribute some of the major awards for this upcoming season. The format I'll use is as follows: For each respective club, I'll nominate  their player of the year candidate, top forward because even though it's not an officially recognized award in some cases the player of the year and top defenceman will be one of the same, top defenceman, and top rookie. Once that is concluded, I will announce my conference finalists for each award while adding my observations for who I surmise will land the conference's top goalie and coach honours. A subjective entry yes but one I'm looking forward to penning. The teams will be listed alphabetically.

Brandon Wheat Kings:

Player of the Year: Nolan Patrick(Winnipeg,Manitoba)

Top Defenceman: Kale Clague(Lloydminster, Alberta)

Top Forward: Patrick*

Top Rookie:Baron Thompson(Lakeville,Minnesota)

Calgary Hitmen:

Player of the Year: Jakob Stukel(Surrey,British Columbia)

Top Defenceman: Jake Bean(Calgary,Alberta)

Top Forward:Stukel*

Top Rookie:Ty Prefontaine(Saskatoon,Saskatchewan)
Edmonton Oil Kings:

Player of the Year: Aaron Irving(Edmonton,Alberta)

Top Defenceman:Irving*

Top Forward:Artyom Baltruk(Belarus)

Top Rookie:Baltruk*

Everett Silvertips:

Player of the Year:Eetu Tuulola(Hameenlinna,Finland)

Top  Defenceman:Kevin Davis(Kamloops,British Columbia)

Top Forward:Tuulola*

Top  Rookie:Tuulola*

___________________________________________________________________ Kamloops Blazers:

Player of the Year:Collin Shirley(Saskatoon.Saskatchewan)

Top Defenceman:Nolan Kneen(Duncan,British Columbia)

Top Forward:Shirley*

Top Rookie:Carson Denomie(Regina,Saskatchewan)
Kelowna Rockets:

Player of the Year:Nick Merkley(Calgary,Alberta)

Top Defenceman: Cal Foote(Engelwood,Colorado)

Top Forward:Merkley*

Top Rookie:Jack Cowell(Winnipeg,Manitoba)
Kootenay Ice:

Player of the Year: Zak Zborosky(Regina,Saskatchewan)

Top Defenceman:Cale Fleury(Calgary,Alberta)

Top Forward:Zborosky*

Top Rookie:Keenan Taphorn(Yorkton,Saskatchewan)

_____________________________________________________________ Lethbridge Hurricanes:

Player of the Year:Brayden Burke(Edmonton,Alberta)

Top Defenceman:Nick Watson(Delta,British Columbia)

Top Forward:Burke*

Top Rookie:Calen Addison(Brandon,Manitoba)
Medicine Hat Tigers:

Player of the Year:Mason Shaw(Wainwright,Alberta)

Top Defenceman:Kristian Rubins(Riga,Latvia)

Top Forward:Shaw*

Top Rookie:Baxter Anderson(Langley,British Columbia)
Moose Jaw Warriors:

Player of the Year:Noah Gregor(Beaumont,Alberta)

Top Defenceman:Dmitri Zaitsev(Togliatti,Russia)

Top Forward:Gregor*

Top Rookie:Zaitsev*

Portland Winterhawks:

Player of the Year: Caleb Jones(Arlington,Texas)

Top Defenceman: Jones*

Top Forward:Skyler McKenzie(Sherwood Park,Alberta)

Top Rookie:Jake Hobson(Prince Albert,Saskatchewan)

Prince Albert Raiders:

Player of the Year:Brendan Guhle(Sherwood Park,Alberta)

Top Defenceman:Guhle*

Top Forward:Simon Stransky(Ostrava,Czech Republic)

Top Rookie:Josh Maser(Houston,British Columbia)

Prince George Cougars:

Player of the Year:Justin Almeida(Kitimat,British Columbia)

Top Defenceman:Tate Olson(Saskatoon,Saskatchewan)

Top Forward: Almeida*

Top Rookie:Reid Perepeluk(Yorkton,Saskatchewan)
Red Deer Rebels:

Player of the Year:Adam Musil(Delta,British Columbia)

Top Defenceman:Josh Mahura(St.Albert,Alberta)

Top Forward:Musil*

Top Rookie:Alexander Alexeyev(St.Petersburg,Russia)

Regina Pats:

Player of the Year:Sam Steel(Sherwood Park,Alberta)

Top Defenceman:Connor Hobbs(Saskatoon,Saskatchewan)

Top Forward:Steel*

Top Rookie:Nick Henry(Portage La Prairie,Manitoba)

Saskatoon Blades:

Player of the Year:Libor Hajek(Smrcek,Czech Republic)

Top Forward:Cameron Hebig(Saskatoon,Saskatchewan)

Top Defenceman:Hajek*

Top Rookie:Jantzen Leslie(Lloydminster,Alberta)


Seattle Thunderbirds:

Player of the Year:Matt Barzal(Vancouver,British Columbia)

Top Defenceman:Ethan Bear(Ochapowace,Saskatchewan)

Top Forward: Barzal*

Top Rookie:Elijah Brown(Edmonton,Alberta)

Spokane Chiefs:

Player of the Year:Kailer Yamamoto(Spokane, Washington)

Top Defenceman:Tyson Helgesen(Fairview,Alberta)

Top Forward:Yamamoto*

Top Rookie:Ty Smith(Lloydminster,Alberta)

Swift Current Broncos:

Player of the Year:Riley Stotts(Winnipeg,Manitoba)

Top Defenceman:Max Lajoie(Calgary,Alberta)

Top Forward:Stotts*

Top Rookie:Stotts*

Tri-City Americans:

Player of the Year:Parker Wotherspoon(Surrey,British Columbia)

Top Defenceman:Wotherspoon*

Top Forward:Michael Rasmussen(Surrey,British Columbia)

Top Rookie:Carson Focht(Regina,Saskatchewan)

Vancouver Giants:

Player of the Year:Ty Ronning(Burnaby,British Columbia)

Top Defenceman:Matt Barberis(Surrey,British Columbia)

Top Forward:Ronning*

Top Rookie:Marcus Kichton(Spruce Grove,Alberta)

Victoria Royals:

Player of the Year:Tyler Soy(Cloverdale,British Columbia)

Top Defenceman:Marsel Ibragimov(Kazan,Russia)

Top Forward:Soy*

Top Rookie:Matthew Smith(Saskatoon,Saskatchewan)


Dunc McCallum Coach of the Year Award:

East:March Habscheid-Prince Albert Raiders
West:Mike Williamson-Tri-City Americans

WINNER: Williamson

Del Wilson Top Goaltender Award:

East:Cody Porter(North Vancouver,British Columbia)-Calgary Hitmen
West:Conor Ingram(Imperial,Saskatchewan)-Kamloops Blazers

WINNER: Ingram

Jim Piggott Rookie of the Year Award:

East:Riley Stotts-Swift Current Broncos
West:Ty Smith-Spokane Chiefs


Bill Hunter Top Defenceman:

East:Brendan Guhle-Prince Albert Raiders
West:Tate Olson-Prince George Cougars


Four Broncos Memorial Player of the Year Award:

East:Mason Shaw-Medicine Hat Tigers
West:Matt Barzal-Seattle Thunderbirds



Monday, September 5, 2016

2016-2017 Pre-Season Western Hockey League Report(Team 1)

1.Seattle Thunderbirds-The time has come, I present to you the number one team heading into the 2016-2017 campaign, the Seattle Thunderbirds. From battling their way to the league final a year ago, they gained valuable experience that will lend itself well to the adversity the league favourite will inevitably face.  This is a nasty group that General Manager has assembled. Speed and size kills in hockey and they tons of it. Clearly, the numero uno ranking that I've associated with the T-Birds would drastically change if Matt Barzal isn't returned from New York Islander camp but all indications are that Garth Snow and company will allow Barzal another year of junior with the opportunity to be one of the catalysts for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championship. They have the size and speed down pact, but my one worry heading into this season is if there's enough skill to go around to match the wits of some of the leagues more skillful squads.

Part of the reason why I selected the Thunderbirds as my team to beat this coming season was due to the depth they possess with the forwards. Sure, most of the gossip will center around Matt Barzal but stalwarts such as Nolan Volcan, Alexander True and Scott Eansor lead a supporting cast for Head Coach Steve Konowalchuk that few if any across the league can match. Ryan Gropp who's signed by the New York Rangers I anticipate will begin the season in the American Hockey League which has me presuming that Farwell will scour the market for another top six forward, Tyler Benson at the right price or Brayden Burke stand out at me as possible acquisitions that could decimate the scoring deficiencies this team MAY be faced with. Before you shoot me for throwing out the name Burke, let me explain. Everywhere I read, there's a lot of positivity hovering over the Hurricanes chances but this blogger isn't as optimistic, not anywhere close. The ownership group may look not to sell regardless of record around the trade deadline but I honestly believe unless the Hurricanes begin to add a scurry of pieces quickly, this organization will be fighting for a playoff spot, not a Conference Championship. While adding a piece may be that necessary evil to continue skating along as the top dog, it's critical that Konowalchuk not stray away from the very facets that make this team successful, using the size to create advantages with the board play, and bore teams to sleep with an effective cycle game. Speaking from experience, team that enter a season with lofty expectations tend to pay too much attention to the stat sheet and become more invested in padding their own personal numbers as opposed to concentrating on team fundamentals. I noticed that a little last year especially during the second half of the season where at times Ryan Gropp and Matt Barzal were split up periodically. When placed on the "second" line, Ryan Gropp stopped driving the net and began attempting to make plays individually without using his linemates. The detriments to team prosperity were minimal at best as like any staunch WHL fan knows, the T-Birds trapped the opposition all the way to a league final appearance before bowing out to the Brandon Wheat Kings but with scoring at more of a premium, utilizing linemates to the best of their abilities HAS to be emboldended or else these low scoring games, and trust me there will be plenty will cause frustration amongst players  if a proper structure isn't implemented. To begin the player profile section, someone who primarily played on the third line but will be promoted within the top six will need to step up offensive production, and that's Nolan Volcan.  It wasn't a coincidence that I hinted about the imperativeness of buying into the team concept because that's an area where Nolan needs vast improvement. For somebody who I imagine will  be the second line left winger this winter,  his aptness for skating through the blue line with the puck only to find himself in unenviable positions leaves coaches frustrated. He has decent speed but has to learn to slow the game down as when a play is ripe for the making, make it and don't pull a Bantam maneuver where you think you can skate past all suitors.  It's unfortunate that Nolan didn't have his name called in this past summer's entry draft but hopefully this will serve as motivation to grow his game and fingers crossed have his name called for the 2017 draft. The following likely won't transpire but to get him going offensively, I'd love to see him get minutes with Matt Barzal. With Matt not expected back until Mid to late October as he'll assuredly receive a nine game regular season tryout with the Isles so that experiment may have to wait but Volcan has comparable speed to Barzal so he wouldn't find himself behind the play ever. It's worth a try and in lieu of that, allow Scott Eansor and Alexander True to play together on the second unit fully understanding that True and Barzal spent large chunks together last year.  I just think, and this isn't a notion necessarily shared by most within hockey capacities that having your two best offensive weapons on the same line, as would be the case this year with True and Barzal  is the recipe for success as dispersing the wealth is  more advantageous. Barzal doesn't need linemates that will raise his level, his level is already higher then his WHL counterparts so why not get Nolan going to bolster secondary scoring?  Scott Eansor the new Tyler Johnson??? Not so far fetched if you ask me. Eansor, like Johnson is a Western League rartiy in that there are very few twenty year olds who return for their overage season after playing in the WJHC the year before.  Eansor undoubtedly is one of the league's best penalty killers evidenced by Scott fulfilling the role on the American junior team. It's fitting that he hails from Engelwood, Colorado as that's also thve hometown of former Milwaukee Brewer Chris Narveson. I have a wealth of knowledge pertaining to baseball and the book on Narveson is he wasn't the most talented pitcher but had a workmanlike attitude that went unmatched. He fought his way through A ball only to finally catch on with the Brewers Big League club and was entrusted as the long relief option. Similarly with Eansor no one will ever attempt to sell you that he has Martin St.Louis-esque pedigree but his wheels will create chances and I felt his 5 on 5 play improved slowly through last season. Even though Scott is again the second line center thus some offence will be required, the beautiful qualities of his skill set are that he can comfortably match up against the top line centers and easily hold his own. When they suit up against their rival Spokane Chiefs, Yamamoto will be seeing # 8 all night long, same goes with  Michael Rasmussen as well.  There's simply not a better shutdown option league wide. Now, let's ponder this premise as to why Eansor remains without a National Hockey League contract. I truly don't have a good answer for ya'll as I can't envision his lack of puck skills are enough for teams to keep him off their draft boards. If it's an attitude concern, that goes far beyond my pay grade but in all seriousness we live in a society where the Tampa Bay Lightning expended a first round pick on Anthony DeAngelo so if their is a character void, precedent has been set that he can be worked with and modeled to your liking. Here's what I do know however, if he puts forth a performance such as last year and can once again elevate the Thunderbirds to the final, a NHL contract will come calling next spring and a temporary home in the American Hockey League will be guaranteed. I know player polls are conducted by league governors throughout the dub, not one I can find but I know they're out there and I can safely assume that in the category of "Hardest player to play against", Eansor would win the vote unanimously.

Losing the "Twin towers" to graduation in Jared Hauf and Jerret Smith will be tough to overcome. Jared and Jerett were admittedly not the most skilled defenceman in the world but brought the sheer toughness to the rink which wreaked havoc for some of the league's smaller players.  Ethan Bear is the household name for this group but as is the reputation of this preview, I don't care to spend much time on the featured commodities, let's analyze someone like Bryan Allbee. The Landon Bow trade acqusition from the trade deadline steals the thunder but one of the more understated moves last year was Farwell's decision to bring over Allbee. Bryan was beginning to fade into obscurity as a member of the Kootenay Ice(who doesn't?) and the transaction reinvigored a dissipating career.  Will likely skate aside Jarrett Tyszka on the second pairing but where Tyszka thrives offensively, Allbee takes pride in his shot blocking and net presence. A great compliment if I do so say myself! For Bryan, it's all about confidence. He's entering his third full season and what I'd like to see out of him in 2016/2017 is being more proactive in the oppositions end. Not citing one example particularly but there was a few highlight packs I was privy that as per usual Barzal was working his magic down in the corners and when the forward responsible for covering the d-man collapses, Allbee stays put when he's got to provide Barzal a passing lane. There's no  bigger pet  peeve of mine when the label "defensive defenceman" gets thrown around. For me, a defensive defenceman is reliable in his own zone but just because you excel when clearing pucks, that doesn't excuse not contributing on the scoresheet.  Coach Konowalchuk has to instill confidence in Bryan as a top four defenceman you can't afford to be so one dimensional. His defensive partner from last year Schuldhaus will be clamouring for increased responsibility so it's not as if Allbee's name is carved in stone. In some what call one of the dumbest trades in recent memory the Saskatoon Blades shipped out Turner Ottenbreit in September 2014 for a twenty year old in Adam Henry who spent a whole thirty two games with the organization. Ottenbreit at the time was seventeen and starting to come into his own and it's completely unforgivable that they give up on a player so quickly at the expense of a brief stop gap.  Here's my thoughts on the trade, I recall seeing reports that Turner was unhappy getting demoted as a sixteen year old and you do mull over whether the Ottenbreit family requested a move(wouldn't be the first Blade). Regardless, he's Thunderbird property now and is expected to be one of the go-tos, the go-to while Ethan Bear is away at a NHL camp. Being called mean is generally met with negativity but defining Turner as a mean hockey player is a humbling descriptor for the Yorkton native. When ask myself which past WHL player does Turner remind me of, the name of former Lethbridge Hurricane Ben Wright comes to mind.  Uses excellent stick work to gain positioning and most importantly he;s not afraid to lay a hit. Let's not kid ourselves by surmising that Seattle will find themselves in a lot of low scoring contests so having someone like Turner who can clog up the neutral zone is more beneficial than someone that can lead the rush. Kamloops and Seattle will win games in similar fashion and it's a far cry from the way modern teams breed success but perhaps the Blazers and Thunderbirds are turning a new leaf and bringing the old adage of defence wins championships back. By my count, barring a miraculous return from Ryan Gropp the T-Birds will be in the market for a third twenty year old and on top the wish list that includes either Brayden Burke or Tyler Benson, a veteran old puck moving defenceman would be a premium get. Although not twenty, Giants defenceman Brennan Mennel has asked to be moved and a player of Mennel's elk could be exactly what the doctor ordered in Seattle,

I remember previewing Thunderbirds last season feeling confident that Logan Flodell could handle the every day duties. As it turns out, T-Bird management thought otherwise electing to bring in Landon Bow from Swift Current. It was a genius resolution as Bow was the missing link that backstopped the Birds all the way to the final. With Bow exhausting his junior eligibility, the question that we must once again pose is can Logan be the trusted presence in net to lead a team with championship aspirations? His numbers last season, 22-13-4 with a .904 SP behind a brickwall of a defence could be construed as stellar and due to the fact they again bring back a rock solid defensive core, he won't have to singlehandeldly win a lot of these games. His focus will be to ensure he doesn't allow the untimely marker that kills momentum. Flodell's numbers were respectable and if he continues,the adminstration won't blink an eye handing him the reigns however early struggles will force their hand and with a plethora of quality goaltenders on the market compounded by the teams soaring goals, mediocrity won't be endorsed and he could be headed to the back up chair sooner then he may like. Internally at camp right now, goaltender Ryan Gilchrist poses no threat to his starting position and basically it's his job to lose. The proverbial ball is in his court. A lot of people had doubts about Jordan Papirny headed into the Wheat Kings illustrious season and those doubts were put to rest so it's time for Flodell to replicate these statistics and if I've read the climate correctly will be one of the first to raise the Ed Chynoweth Cup in May 2017,

Sunday, September 4, 2016

#bb18 Power Rankings(Week of September 4th)

After a hiatus from sharing my thoughts last week, I'm back at 'er with another dosage of the critically acclaimed Big Brother eighteen rankings. Michelle, affectionately known as Big Meech succumbed to sleeping while she should've been strategizing last week. Michelle's ouster has largely benefited Corey and Nicole as Michelle was public enemy # 1 but how does her eviction effect the climate and alter my rankings? Keep reading to find out.

6.James-The spoilers have been read and I'm now aware that after Victor won Head of Household, Corey followed that up by winning the Power of Veto. James along with Natalie were nominated and clearly at the cost of exposing Nicole's spot, Corey simply can't use the veto. I really have no idea who the house will end up targeting, I suspect James will be who it is but even if Natalie ends up getting chopped, I still refuse to rank James anywhere but last. His game play becomes more disgusting by the week. For starters, and this has been discussed plentiful that a half competent player, for which he is not would've pondered that with the unsuccessful Round trip ticket twist that production would've off set the failed twist with another one, hence the second buy back. Also, to be adament in his conversations with Natalie that Nicorey wouldn't flip against Michelle is shortsighted. Michelle called out Nicole multiple times with speeches so why would Nicole willingly leave an arch rival in the house? I'm not seeing James logic here....does anybody? The only saving grace for James and I should stress that he has 0% chance of actually winning would be if Natalie goes and he slides in with Nicole and Corey and scoots his way to the final three.

5.Natalie-I'll give full credit to Natalie, she's becoming perceptive in a sense that her intuition is now telling her that James has run her game into the ground.  I genuinely feel bad for her because when she exits the house she's going to rewatch the season and immediately turn off the television petrified that her pre-game strategy of riding with the girls wasn't exactly spotlighted on the show. Especially early on the show portrayed her too reliant on James when in reality I'm not sure if it passed the smell test. I have this theory that not many will stand behind that in her preferred final three which would've consisted of herself, James and Michelle that she would've taken Michelle to the final two irregardless of her feeling towards James. I do often perplex(ok so maybe not often) what her game would've looked like without the Big Brother 17 AFP's presence.  I honestly without his admittance, we're looking at Bridgette and Natalie as power players because those two along with Bronte were the only ones that would stand up for their beliefs and by them pushing the envelope it could've posed a formidable foil to Paulie's insistence to run with the men. Touching base with reality, the wide eyes she started displaying towards the men is why there are two individuals with no chance unless they're sitting with each other in the final two which we now know not to be the case, and that's the "Jatalie" duo.

4.Nicole-My outlook on Nicole has dropped the past week. Her winning H.O.H last week was only imperative in the sense that Mchelle did not win, but truthfully having even Corey land the reign would've been a much more beneficial maneuver for her game. Now, with Nicole in power, if the rest of the house didn't already have this impression which they may have, Nicole is looked at as the bigger threat between her and Corey and when the time comes, and best believe it will, Nicole will have to pull out a veto win or else she's done. I don't know how many more times I can state that strategically, and you can rag on his personality all you want, but Corey has been more sound. Corey's in tighter with the guys, and Natalie is more fearful of Nicole but I digress as this is the Nicole analysis. I'm not doubting the move to target Michelle for  a second however she doesn't currently have a good read on the house if she's content with Victor, Paul and Corey by her side in the final four. She loses to everybody that I mentioned above so if she could take off the Corey blinders for one minute, convincing the house to evict Natalie thus aligning with James is her only winning move left. She like many others this season may be shocked with the reception they receive this season but strictly from a game level, her seclusion with Corey will have cost her a lot more than fan support, a potential cheque for $500,000 has passed her by too.

3.Victor- From my vantage point, and although it's a matter of subjectivity, I felt like the edited television show have Paul too much credit whilst not giving Victor enough in the proposed final four deal they struck with Corey and Nicole. Victor was as influential as his own partner in crime. but the way the edit is being portrayed, he looks like someone guiding Paul to victory. The strengths of Victor's game are that even though he's a big buff guy, he's not seen as intimidating and he associates himself strategically with the ladies. Even though is plan is flawed wanting Paul alongside him in final two, his unflappable loyalty may earn him so jury votes and if Paul is voted out before finale, who knows maybe their's a "winner's edit" in Vic after all.

2.Corey- "So, I was looking the items,I saw three sets of eight, and that's how I came up with my answer". Because I'm  Canadian, I'm not privy to a lot of the live feeds but from what I've seen and reports I've read, he's widely seen as a well-liked goof ball so this Austin Matelson-esque edit he's receiving has been troubling. I think I've figured out why Corey was cast. From the out set, he's provided no content of any substance for the television audience, but simply I don't think he cares. If ever given the opportunity, I wouldn't play this way as I view it as a wasted opportunity but when you break his game down strategically, aside from the vote that sent Paulie home which I still maintain was more of a sympathy vote, he's been on the right side of the numbers, he's locked up beside a returnee and he's won enough competitions to be deemed a competition dominator. The beautiful thing about his position is although in most scenarios such as the way Big Brother eighteen is being played out, there would be internal pressure for him to cut the returnee to ensure victory, hence what Danielle Murphree should've done in the final four of Big Brother 14, in this particular case taking Nicole to the finals is his best bet. Too much of the jury has had a bad taste left in their mouths from Nicole and whether Corey has the luxury of taking either Nicole or James to the final two, this season has set a new precedent that the returner is the goat. Unless it's Corey/Paul final two, he's winning the game. Not intending to act as a Corey apologist but from Big Brother "insiders" the entire season, he's received zero respect for his game and if or when he wins, I want the masses resorting back to this blog as every week I've ranked him admirably.

1.Paul-The assertion that Paul is the clear cut favourite can't be argued. If you choose to, I don't know what Big Brother you're watching. Paul was in danger in week two, and I'm sure if the men that led the charge to evict Bronte could ask for a do-over, Paul likely would've been axed because even though keeping Bronte in the game would've bolstered Natalie's side like I mentioned a bit earlier, she lacks the persuasive skills that Paul has. Paul is a public speaking giant and will talk your socks off if he's fortunate to land in the final two. He has that understated combination where he's not taken seriously compounded by the fact that he is very loyal. Nicole and Corey as far as I know trust the final four deal that was made, and the reason they do is because he's never faltered in his word. If James and Natalie are the next two boots, two compadres who I expect would publically express Paul as their target, he may as well do jumping jacks because he could beat these four in his sleep.

Friday, September 2, 2016

2016-2017 Pre-Season Western Hockey League Report(Team 2)

2.Regina Pats-Let's be honest, for any millennial out there, we haven't seen the Regina Pats field a competiitve entry in our life time. Sure, those that have loyally followed the Pats through the past twenty years or so, we've seen names such as Josh Holden, Brett Lysak and Jordan Eberle sprinkled in but the permissibility of any of these stars catapaulting the club to any tangible team success just wasn't realistic as whether it was due to a lack of team depth, coaching limitations or lack of commitment from management to engage in the necessary acquisition, Pat teams of yester-year were always held back for one reason or another. I'll be the first to admit that after the 2013-2014 season had completed and the ownership change was in the process of being completed, I was skeptical when they came to the decision to release Malcolm Cameron from his coaching threshold and hired an individual who had a bundle of experience coaching professionally but was unfamiliar with the junior climate in John Paddock as the coach and General Manager. The hire has obviously turned out wonderful but after  a 2013-2014 season that saw the Pats lay claim to the Eastern Division crown, it was an interesting time to be a hockey fan in Regina as the casual was up in the arms for why we handed a pink slip to somebody that reached a near pinnacle but truth be told, the brilliance of Paddock is in his player development. He rolls four lines constantly, as opposed to Cameron's reluctance to roll anything out but his top unit, and players have thrived because of it. Austin Wagner and Adam Brooks jump out in this analogy as both were after thoughts under Cameron but now are two of the most feared players in the league. The times keep getting better in Regina.

In this strenous journey otherwise known as the WHL off-season, from the people I've spoken to and I certainly have the luxury of being right here in Regina the consensus seems to be that the Pats could use one more top six forward. It's an interesting debate as the need is no longer as severe with the announced signings of both Nick Henry and Bryan Lockner, Henry particularly was heavily weighing an offer from a NCAA program so securing his services was paramount and it signals the respect hockey pendants across Western Canada have for the program Paddock has implemented. The 2004/2005 Pats would've not been able to land a player of Henry's magnitude. The first forward I want to spend some time with is Lane Zablocki. Shortly before the commencement of the 2015/2016 season, this blogger was not a happy camper when news broke that Jesse Gabrielle had been sent to the Prince George Cougars for Lane Zablocki. From my vantage point for an organization that was ever so close to climbing over that bridge it was a risky proposition to deal away a capable point producer entering his eighteen year old year for a soon to be seventeen year old who had yet to step foot in the dub. My worries were slowly but surely put to rest as Zablocki came as advertised, He's not afraid of the rough stuff, and is a terrific compliment for what Pat fans hope to be his center again in Adam Brooks, although not guaranteed as that will dictated by Toronto Maple Leaf management.,Lane is someone who if I had to pick out a weakness it would be his shot. Even though his bio doesn't indicate he plays with a bulkier frame and for someone that plays a "heavy" game a more brazen shot would be expected. It was either inaccuracy or rolling pucks onto the net that prevented him for reaching his self imposed statistical goals. A clear improvement through the campaign was that he began to use his linemates more effectively. I found early on in the process he was far too willing to accept a pass, and either try to beat the defender individually or dump and chase it himself which often resulted in a turnover because his shoddy skating stride wasn't leading to puck retrievals. I'm assuming(and you know what they about making assumptions) that at some point close to Christmas Paddock has a heart to heart conversation with Lane because what Pat fans were privy too in the first half was a far cry from what we saw as the stretch run approached, for the better. Something that a lot of Junior hockey players fall victim too is they start to read their own press and in the pre-season there was waves of undeserved positive praise because a lot of uneducated Regina sports media read the clips that Zablocki is a heralded prospect and thus the forecast was that he could immediately replace the production from Gabrielle. The misnomer was that Zablocki wasn't a 'A' prospect, in all actuality he was better suited as a 'B: and if this would've been widely reported a lot of people in an around Regina likely would have tempered expectations. Once Zablocki finally woke up and realized that he wasn't going to be handed a first round slot in the 2017 NHL Mock Draft, he instantaneously morphed into a dangerous player, someone that could be trusted in a top six role. An area that I intend to pay close attention to is the skating prowess. As it stands right now, if this were Bob McKenzie's yearly draft ranking, under the skating category he would be handed a "C". Lane has found himself on a squad that has now strengthened it's wing depth by the aforementioned Lockner and Henry signings so the assurances aren't as set in stone. If Zablocki gets off to another sluggish start he could easily find himself on the third line. Championship teams don't settle for mediocrity and there are too many players chomping at the bit for coach Paddock to settle for unresponsive combativeness.  Anyone that has watched the Pats over the last couple of seasons will attest that the forwards revolve around team speed, Zablocki doesn't necessarily fit in within that culture but Austin Wagner certainly does. I was going to profile a different player because I generally stay away from stalwarts that accompany an important role on their respective team but my fascination with Austin spreads too deep for me not to analyze this future NHL star. In the past, I've considered him the fastest skater in the Canadian Hockey League and while this cannot definitively be proven I can say with full certainty that Wagner is the fastest skater in the WHL.  He reminds me, drawing back to my fandom of the Mighty Duck trilogy, of the great Luis Mendoza. He may have the capability of stopping but his effortless, Darren Helm-esque skating fortitude while possessing hands of steel drive home this comparison. I said it after the 2014/2015 season and again after the 15/16 campaign, "how good could he be if he had hands?".Everyone lauds the performance of Adam Brooks last year and rightfully so but I should fairly point out that alot of open space Brooks found was due to the respect opposing defenceman had to show towards Austin. There was one game specifically against the Brandon Wheat Kings, where a standard two and two rush was developing, Brooks had the puck on his stick just reaching the center ice rush, it was at that moment that Wagner turned the jets on and went full speed ahead. The defenceman covering his side of the ice, I believe the left side, followed proper protocol and stayed with Austin but it was the right side defenceman that was forced to respect the top flight speed of Austin and began to lean his way thus backing off Adam Brooks, and keep in mind this was a late season regular season contest, so the same Brooks who was contending for the scoring race.  The reverence opposing coaching staffs have for Austin is through the roof and will only substantiate as he grows stronger. Adam Brooks is a talented kid, statistics speak for themselves and his ability to pick apart a defence is extraordinary so it begs the question, has the need to pair up Brooks and Wagner  subdued?  I'm starting to think that Brooks doesn't need Wagner and vice versa. If I was filling out the lineup card, I'd give strong consideration to having Wagner skate with Jake Lescyshyn to reinvogorate his offensive potential while sliding up a less talented winger, somebody like Rykr Cole if he sticks with the team on a line with Brooksy.  Creating more balance could go a long way.

Defensively, the Pats employ less "names" but arguably more depth. Connor Hobbs is an unquestionable stud and will be looked upon to anchor the back end, but the pieces behind him shouldn't be overshadowed, One of my curiosities entering this year is how patient will John Paddock be with some of these younger kids on the back-end, specifically Dawson Barteaux?  In doing research for this piece I was surprised to find out for the  last six seasons or so Dawson was affiliated with Regina hockey legend Mike Sillinger while playing on different AAA teams so you could entertain the notion that it may have been Sillinger who recommended the selection of Dawson to the Pats. I like what I see out of Dawson. From my viewings, I'm not sure we're looking at someone that will ever surpass the thirty point plateau in this league but for a sixteen year old won't run into the  physical drawbacks that associate a player of his age, The last sixteen year old defenceman that came in with such a renowned physical toolbox was probably Swift Current's Dillon Heatherington. In a highlight video I witnessed, albeit a while back I came away with amazement that for being so young that his reads off his defensive partner were so professional like, I love the anticipation that he always accounts for. When Dawson delivers a shaky pass, he knows to stand back because he's able to prepare for the puck remaining in his own end. Another sound trait he occupies are his pristine passes. Tape to tape, crisp and I keep retrograding to the way he thinks the game. Putting on weight was a goal of Dawson heading into the off-season and if he put the appropriate time in the gym he'll be able to fulfill a consistent shift at the Major Junior level. Barteaux is young, but one of the few "defensive" defenceman John has at his disposal, the other one, and his veteran experience is invaluable is Russian Sergei Zborovoskiy. Sergei's at his best when he simplifies his thought processes. At times last season I took issue when he would try to individually breakdown the neutral zone clog. He has the skating propensity to outskate most but doesn't have the requisite puck skills to accomplish his. His patented off the board to himself play wore thin to the coaching staff because that was contributing to abundance of goals against, a number of 253 that will need to be cut back this season. There are so many characteristics to like which attributed to the New York Rangers expending a third round selection, but call me hard to please if you wish, I think there is sooooo much more that he could offer. I hate ragging on junior aged players, something I've stated on more than one occasion but most nights I leave frustrated watching Sergei not withstanding his admirable statistics. I can't exactly pinpoint why I feel this way, is it because he exudes such disinterested approach? I alluded to Connor Hobbs being the leader of this back end but for the sake of clarification Zborovskiy has the best chance of succeeding at the next level. Some motivation is needed and what's greater than seeking the opportunity of suiting up for your native homeland at the World Junior Hockey Championships?  The WJHC is the great equalizer for players that don't feel the Major Junior scene is challenging them enough, think back to Mitch  Marner last year Mitch would've been a lost puppy if the carat of a World Junior appearance didn't exist and I'm forming the impression that Sergei desperately needs that international exposure to stay fresh. I have no idea where he sits on the Russian defensive depth charts but it would great news for the Pats if he got to play in Toronto/Montreal as it could set up a tremendous second half.

If you read this blog enough, you'll understand my reservations when any team in the sport of Hockey drafts a goaltender in the first round. It grinds my gears to no end. The Pats continued this tradition in 2014 when Jordan Hollet was a first round choice of the St.Patricia's. Tyler Brown will be given ample opportunity to seize the load again which opens the door for an interesting possibility. I've ranked Regina #2 for a reason and that's because they have the desired scoring, serviceable defence and a capable number one netminder, I'm not really seeing a spot for seventeen year old Hollet, are you? With Kurtis Chapman and even Paddocks nephew Max waiting behind him, if I was involved the hockey operations department I'd be dangling Jordan in a pursuit to land another top nine forward. If this ownership group is serious about fielding a winner pronto than having a seventeen year old goaltender backing up defeats the purpose. An organization such as Vancouver Giants who coincidentally reside in Hollet's home province would be a great fit and maybe just maybe the Giants have that forward that could immediately pay Regina dividends.