I've noticed a lot of different NHL players, especially young players, wearing number 91 lately. Paajarvi, Stamkos, Tavares, Turris, Kadri, Marc Savard, Brad Richards...
It's always been a moderately popular number. Fedorov wore it, most famously. But with 4 or 5 young NHL stars--or would-be stars--wearing it this year, I have to wonder what the significance is. Is it just cool? Is it because it's 19 inverted, and 19 is traditionally worn by skilled scorers? Is it because it's the birth year for some of the young kids? (If so, will we see more 92s and 93s in the coming years? I doubt it.)
I dunno. Just something I've noticed.
I've always loved the idea of playing the drums, but I've never really had consistent access to a drum kit. I still don't, really, but lately I've had a few opportunities to play, and I've found that my own sense of rhythm has imbibed with playing Guitar Hero's drums to actually give me a pretty good skill base. I can play a lot of simple beats, though my repertoire of fills is pretty sparse, and adding in complications can throw me off a bit.
Now all I want to do, musically, is play drums and practice, but I still don't have that many chances to do so. I'm hoping to get in on drumming in church sometime in the near future, but guitar players are in short supply, so it's more important for me to help that way.
But if anyone has a basement and a drum kit and wants me to come over and make a bunch of noise for a while, let me know! :)
The Canucks have not had a good start to the 2010/11 season. They're 1-2-1, which isn't nearly as bad as it could be, but their actual play has been discouraging at times. In their first three games, the Canucks could say that they were getting their chances but not getting the bounces they needed, and their defensive play was pretty decent, other than a couple of mishaps that the other team was able to take advantage of.
But the "We're playing well, just not getting lucky" excuse can't extend too much further, especially after last night's 4-1 loss to the Kings. The Canucks looked out of sync, they made poor passes, they had trouble clearing the defensive zone and entering the offensive zone... Combine that with an average night from Luongo, rather than a star performance like he had in the first two games, and you have the recipe for an ugly loss.
I'm not sure what they need to do to work their way out of this. Kesler needs to start hitting the net with his shots (and, to be fair, so does everyone else). Henrik needs to start looking to shoot a little more, but we've known that for his entire career. Besides, Daniel is on a goal-per-game pace, with Henrik helping to set up most of those, so criticizing the Sedins isn't really fair. We can't expect them to be in on multiple goals every game, really. Raymond is shooting, but not scoring. Samuelsson is... I'm not sure what he's doing. Not a whole lot. Hamhuis has been solid, but Bieksa has been making dumb mistakes. Alberts hasn't been too noticeable, which is good for him, but last night he made a couple of mistakes, too. Torres has been playing hard but taking too many penalties. In fact, the whole team has been in the penalty box too much.
It's lots of little details like this that have to start going the Canucks' way. Score more, take fewer penalties... They'll put it together somehow. They're too good of a team to be playing this badly. Maybe the first couple of games just made us think our team wasn't going to have another one of their traditional slow starts. We got our hopes up, and now we're getting unnecessarily disappointed.
Hopefully things will be better a month from now.
Here's the view from my couch. The camera makes it look darker in the room than it actually is. I have the lights on. Really.
I have one game on TV, and the other game is streaming online through NHL Gamecenter, which I've subscribed to for a second year. On a busier night. I can have four games running in splitscreen on my computer. I'm going to cancel my cable subscription, but I can still watch Hockey Night in Canada online, as well as Canucks games on Sportsnet, so I'll still be running the multiple screens a lot of nights.
Except when I'm busy away from home, of course. But with this much hockey to watch, when would I ever want to be away from home?
This is going to be a bit briefer, since I haven't paid quite as close attention to these teams, but here are the things I think the 4 through 7 teams I'll be following this year have to be concerned about.
New Jersey's forwards should fill the net, and their D should be strong in their own end. I don't know if the Devils have enough grit and team toughness, though. Also, their defence may have some trouble moving the puck up the ice offensively, as they don't look to have a great balance of defensive- and offensive-minded defencemen. Luckily, they have Brodeur in net, and he's one of the best puck-handling goalies in the league. On the powerplay, look to see forwards playing the points as a rule, especially Ilya Kovalchuk. Now that he has more familiarity with the systems and roster of the Devils, he should (hopefully) be better at producing on the PP without giving up so many odd-man rushes the other way as a result of irresponsible risk-taking.
Where to begin? Outside of Phil Kessel, Toronto's first line would have a hard time breaking into most teams' second lines. They just don't have enough scoring. Depth at centre is a particular concern. Their defense should do alright, if Phaneuf plays like he did three years ago, but he hasn't really proven that he's as good as he should be, and at the moment he seems really overrated. Many people in Toronto are hoping for a trade that sends Kaberle out of town and brings in a legitimate first-line forward to help the team gain a little balance between its forwards and its defence. What the Leafs really need, though, are a couple of years of good drafting and a bit of organizational patience. At least they're handling Kadri correctly...
The Panthers seem to lose strong players to free agency every year without getting a whole lot in return. Their GMs always seem to come out on the short end of trades and make poor decisions. As a Canucks fan, I am keenly aware of this. Look up the Pavel Bure and Roberto Luongo trades. The Panthers sent Ballard to the Canucks in a trade this summer, reducing their depth on defence, and Michael Grabner didn't pan out, getting picked up by the Islanders on waivers. Florida will have trouble scoring goals, though a healthy David Booth should certainly help on that front. With three first-round picks this year, it's clear Dale Tallon is trying to build from youth in the coming years. It's going to be two or three before the team sees the results.
The Kings should have enough scoring and they have a good young defensive core. There's reason for optimism with their goaltending, but there's just as much opportunity for a down year in net as there is for a really strong year. I'm also not convinced that they have the depth they need to weather any kind of meaningful injury situation.