Archive for the ‘Mats Sundin’ Category

All-Decade Team: Worthy Centers

January 14, 2009

As we consider how the All-Decade Team will be determined, let’s get started on considering candidates for each position. For each player listed, there will be relevant stats and awards with a dash of opinion thrown in. It’s important to not try to sway opinions too much but we still need to have a little fun with this.

See a glaring absence? State a case for that player in the comments.

Joe Sakic

Stats from ’99-’00 to current: (656 points from 250 goals and 406 assists in the REG; 94 points from 41 goals and 53 assists in the playoffs)

Awards from that period: Hart Trophy (2001); Pearson Trophy (2001); First-team All Star (2001, 2002 and 2004); five All-Star appearances

The amazing thing (actually, one of the many amazing things) about Sakic is that he scored almost 1,000 points before the time frame of consideration. As difficult as it may be, try to consider Sakic’s most recent decade of work instead of his entire career.

Besides, Sakic still brought a level of grace (a “quote-less” grace) to the game that is rare for even a hockey player. Most people will remember Sakic for his wicked wrister, but he was also a very good playmaker to boot. An absolute clutch performer, Sakic is one of the best centers of his era.

Joe Thornton

Stats from that period: (760 points from 232 goals and 528 assists in REG; 48 points from 11 goals and 37 assists in the playoffs)

Awards: Hart trophy (’06); Art Ross (’06); First Team All-Star (’06); 5 All-Star teams

One of the leading point producers of the decade, the common knock on Joe Thornton remains his playoff output. Many would counter that Thornton’s post-season play is quite good since coming to San Jose (30 points in 35 playoff games).

Regardless of playoff critiques, Thornton is one of the NHL’s most consistently dominant players. His combination of size and playmaking are a nightmare for defenses. With a career average of 2.14 shots per game, it’s usually pretty obvious what Thornton is going to do on offense.

But like a pick & roll between Karl Malone and John Stockton, knowing what Thornton is going to do and stopping that act are two enormously different things.

Vincent Lecavalier

Stats: (612 points from 277 goals and 335 assists in REG; 33 points from 18 goals and 15 assists in playoffs)

Awards: Richard trophy (’07); three All-Star games

It took awhile for Lecavalier to become a star caliber player and that whole “Michael Jordan of hockey” thing probably will not come true. Still, the 6’4″ Lecavalier is the prototypical franchise center. He has great size, skates well, can make plays and is terrifying on a breakaway.

How much does playing on a Tampa Bay that – excluding their Stanley Cup run and a season or two around that time – is middling at best and awful at worst affect Lecavalier’s numbers?

Mats Sundin

Stats: (608 points from 260 goals and 348 assists in REG; 41 points from 16 goals and 25 assists in playoffs)

Awards: Four All-Star games

Before the free agent soap opera that eventually took him to Vancouver, Sundin was known as a big, talented Swede and a model of consistency. Even on a Toronto Maple Leafs team that failed to make the playoffs since the 03-04 season, Sundin still managed to record nearly a point per game. And unlike many franchise centers, he rarely had a quality winger to finish the scoring chances he could create.

Peter Forsberg

Stats: (445 points from 121 goals and 334 assists in REG; 92 points from 33 goals and 59 assists in playoffs)

Awards: Hart trophy (’03), Art Ross (’03) First All-Star Team (’03) and two All-Star teams

At this point, we’re entering a quality versus quantity discussion. Even though injuries kept Forsberg from putting up massive overall numbers, he’s only two playoff points behind Sakic and was one of the most captivating playmakers the hockey world has ever seen.

He also was like an injury prone Alex Ovechkin in that his game was extremely violent for a player of his star quality. Sadly, that tendency toward ultra-violence probably lead to a fragility that only Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr can relate to.

Still, when Forsberg was healthy he’s arguably the best forward of the decade. Is that enough to overshadow the fact that he missed so much time?

Guys who are just too young/don’t have enough games under their belt: Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin

Honorable mentions: Mike Modano, Marc Savard, Scott Gomez, Brad Richards

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From the "out of left field" department

December 20, 2008
Patrik Elias is having a sneaky good year.
  • After reading all those New Jersey season obituaries after Marty Brodeur injured his elbow, you’d think there would be just as many headlines about the Devils’ astounding offensive run. According to the awesome highlight show NHL on the Fly, the Devils have scored 26 goals in their last six games. That’s more than 4 goals per game.

It’s been a banner year for the fascinating blog Brodeur is a Fraud and hockey pundits who downplay the importance of a franchise goaltender. Seriously, Tim Thomas?

  • Couldn’t find a high quality version of David Krejci‘s spectacular goal one night after the fact, but this video still includes it. One of my absolute favorites of the year.

Who saw Krejci coming? It seems like he’s legitimately good, too: his 32 points in 31 games is pretty unreal for someone who’s supposed to be a third-liner. Seriously, he’s hotter than Carla Gugino right now. It’s pretty hard to top 23 points in 13 games and points in all but one.

  • The NHL Network, NHL ’09 and the hockey blogosphere are like a potpourri of crack for a puck nerd. Until the NHL Network, it looked like NHL Center Ice would be for next year but now my addiction is too severe.
  • Late 2008 is, dare I say, an almost unprecedented period of cross-sport regular season dominance.
Not since the days of Big Van Vader have we seen such dominance

Even though they’re floundering in a worrisome way now, the New York Giants were steamrolling teams week after week. The Sharks’ reign of terror broke a few irrelevant “at 30 games played” all-time records. Last but not least, the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics are on paces that challenge the best video game seasons in ridiculous winning percentages.

It looks like 2009 might be “reality check” time, although that probably won’t be the case in basketball. The Lakers and Sharks going on the road more often will give those teams their truest tests.

  • Everyone probably knows this already, but make no mistake about it: Mats Sundin went to Vancouver for money. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong or that the Canucks aren’t worthy, it’s just hard not to roll your eyes when people try to paint any other picture.

Surely, having a shit load of Swedes doesn’t hurt either.

The digi-impact of Mats Sundin

December 19, 2008

When the Mats Sundin saga finally came to an end with the announcement that he would join the Sedins, Sami Salo and Mattias Ohlund in Vancouver, most people were thinking of his real life impact. Will the ‘Nucks go top-heavy with a three ‘dins line? Will they spread the wealth by putting Sundin with some of their hard working, offensively-challenged wingers?

But after just a few moments, I wondered: will the addition of Sundin make for a new digi-power in NHL ’08? The Sedin twins, Sundin, Demitra, Kesler and Wellwood is actually make a halfway decent group of forwards. At least when you consider the fact that Luongo’s alongside Brodeur as the best goalie in the game.

Here’s a completely biased list of the best teams in NHL ’08. Where do the Canucks fit in?

Detroit Red Wings

Would be totally unfair if it weren’t for that flopping sonofawhore Osgood. Stacked with stars, depth and straight killahs in the faceoff circle.

San Jose Sharks

Hate to admit it but they’re kinda cheap too. Two stars, some very solid depth guys, interchangeable D and an elite goalie. DAMN, Gina. Damn. Gina.

Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens seem like a team for NHL 09 connoisseurs. They don’t have one outrageously good forward, D or goalie and the lack of top scorer does hurt them sometimes. But their real life breakneck style translates well into the digi-arena.

Anaheim Ducks

Not my first choice, but they’ve got some good forwards, two ridiculous D and an elite goalie. They were once the ultimate cheese team but they’re not so bad now.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils are the ultimate video game team. Let that sentence soak in for a moment.

They’ve got a bizillion solid forwards: Elias, Parise, Madden, Rolston and Holik (really). The D’s better than last year and Brodeur’s still a beast.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Even though they’re my boys, the Pens aren’t my team. They are just AWFUL at faceoffs and I can’t seem to ever get their lines right.

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So, those are the best teams in the game IMO. Which teams do you like to use? Is it best to use your favorite team, the best team overall or to take the high road and use a more workmanlike digi-group?