With most of Massachusetts closed down due to the snow, it is a great time to reflect upon the goings-on in the world of hockey … a show-day edition of Hockey Blog in America:
Boston’s Patrice Bergeron continues to evolve and improve as a player. Now three years removed from a concussion suffered from a vicious hit from behind, Bergeron continues to be one of the most reliable players in a Bruins’ uniform.
The 25-year-old center has always been admired by players, coaches, and general managers for his ability to win faceoffs, create offense with his puck-handling, and his play in the defensive zone. Steve Yzerman surprised a lot of people when he selected Bergeron for the Canadian Olympic team last year, but Bergeron played well, helping the team earn gold.
His development was, of course, slowed by the concussion that caused him to miss nearly the entire 2007-08 season. Because Bergeron has struggled a bit offensively since his return (8-31-39 in 2008-09 and 19-33-52 in 2009-10), people often forget that the Quebec native had 70-plus points in his second and third NHL seasons, including 31 goals during the post-lockout year of 2005-06.
During the two-plus seasons since his concussion, Bergeron has developed into one of the league’s best two-way centermen. A cerebral player, he understands things that need to be done on the ice. His hockey IQ is about as good as anyone’s in the league, and he has turned himself into an outstanding defensive player who should merit some consideration for the Selke Award.
In the last few weeks, Bergeron (13-19-32) has amped up his offensive production. He has 7 goals and 6 assists in his last 10 games, including a hat trick against Ottawa Tuesday night. More impressive is his plus/minus rating of plus-16, especially considering Bergeron often draws the opposition’s top center.
Ironically, Bergeron likely needs to continue to score to increase his odds of winning the Selke. Pavel Datsyuk has won the award the past three seasons, and the Detroit superstar netted at least 27 goals in all three of those seasons.
While we are on the subject of the Selke, great piece by Sean Leahy on Selke favorite Ryan Kesler, who is quietly making a bid as league MVP: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/The-dark-horse-Hart-Trophy-candidacy-of-Ryan-Kes?urn=nhl-306270
Kesler will never win the Hart for three reasons: Sidney Crosby’s unbelievable season, the fact he is overshadowed by the Sedins, and the fact he plays on the West Coast. Many fans have not seen Kesler play enough to understand just how good he is, or how valuable he is to the league-leading Canucks.
First, I believe the All-Star Game is something all leagues should eliminate. They are boring, pointless, and do not help the league in any way. I guess it creates a day or two of people discussing who made/did not make it, but really, does anyone care about this game? About the only good things I can say is it occurs on Super Bowl bye week, so maybe a few people will watch since there will be no competition for the game, and that the new format of drafting players will at least make the pre-game festivities a bit more fun.
Next, the league needs to get rid of the rule that forces the game to have at least one player from each team represented on all-star weekend. Do the New Jersey Devils deserve to have a player at the game? Does Phil Kessel and his minus-15 rating deserve to be there? Ales Hemsky deserves to be an all-star ahead of Henrik Zetterberg, Teemu Selanne, Mike Richards or Daniel Briere? The answer to all of these questions is no.
Heck, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson asked “How?” when he was notified of his all-star selection.
- Good luck and best wishes to Chris Osgood, who had surgery to repair a hernia and is out 6-to-8 weeks.
Congratulations to Toronto coach Ron Wilson, who earned his 600th career win against hid old team – the San Jose Sharks – Tuesday night. Only six other coaches have won 600 games: Scotty Bowman (1,244), Al Arbour (782), Dick Irvin (692), Pat Quinn (684), Mike Keenan (672) and Bryan Murray (620). Jacques Lemaire should get there, as he sits at 590 wins – although the Devils may struggle to win 10 more games this season!
- I must admit that shootouts are getting more exciting, but I’d still rather see them go away. I like a modification of Ken Holland’s plan: extending OT to 10 minutes, playing 4-on-4 for the first five minutes and 3-on-3 for the next five. If it’s still tied, keep it a tie.
- Nice move by the Rangers acquiring Wojtek Wolski from Phoenix for defenseman Michal Rozsival. Wolski has a ton of talent, but has been inconsistent throughout his career. If he can’t pull it together in a major market for an Original 6 team with a coach with a history of working well with young players, he may never reach his true potential.
- I’m not the GM or the coach of the Bruins, but if it were up to me, I’d be making sure Tuukka Rask got more playing time the second half of the season. You don’t want Tim Thomas burning out, and it wouldn’t hurt to keep the competition level of both goalies as high as you could get it. Just a thought …