Lots Happening Today

Just some thoughts for the day and tonight’s games including AO’s return, more goalie stuff, the KHL, 2010 Olympics and more….

With Alex Ovechkin finally returning to the lineup tonight, there has been news that Jose Theodore will miss some time due to family reasons. Looks like Simeon Varlamov will get his chance to carry this team much earlier than I expected yesterday.

After signing Manny Legace to ease the pain of Cam Ward’s injury, the Canes will start Michael Leighton for the second straight game. I would have thought they would have just allowed him to take over with the Ward injury. Oh well, I have seen weirder things in the development of young goalies….like with this team….

Vesa Toskala will start tonight in Game 2 of the Battle of Ontario. I definitely thought they would go back with the Monster tonight, after his early exit on Saturday. There is not a much better way to show confidence in your goalie of the future than putting him back in after a game like that. Especially when the goalie has never really experienced this situation in his short time in the League. It seems weird to me that they would go back with Toskala, a guy who is a UFA at the end of the season, and pretty much everyone knows he will not be back. This is the point in which they needed to make a decision as to what is more important: do they want to try to boost Toskala’s trade value as much as possible? Or do they want to show some confidence in the goalie that they fought tooth and nail to get in the offseason?

Good job Ken Hitchcock. Nikita Filatov has signed a one year loan deal with CSKA Moscow of the KHL. I have been trying to write a blog about Hitch’s misuse of this rookie for about a week, so this happening gives me even more reason to do so. Let’s hope he is back next system and ready to fit into the Columbus system; that or Hitchcock is fired.

Speaking of the KHL, right at the top of League scoring are former NHLers Alexei Yashin and Alexander Radulov. Radulov has got to be a lock for the Olympics, but I would think this play from Yashin will give him some consideration. It might not matter who Canada has in net with this projection of Russia’s top three lines:

  1. Ovechkin-Malkin-Kovalchuk
  2. Semin-Datsyuk-Radulov
  3. Kovalev-Frolov-Zherdev

Back to the NHL and their feel good story of the first month; Craig Anderson has allowed 22 goals in his last seven games….uh oh.

Word out of Carolina says that Eric Staal could return next week, which is why I am going to trade for him right now.

In making my predictions, I thought that putting the Tampa Bay Lightning in a playoff spot was my bold move of the year; but I thought they definitely have the offense, and as long their practically brand new defense came together and formed some chemistry, I thought they had a good shot. What I did not expect was their goaltending to be as good as it has been. They currently sit 11th in goals against per game, which can be attributed to the absolute stellar play of suspected backup Antero Niittymaki, who is second with a 1.93 GAA in 10 games.

For a team that has been pretty thin in terms of offensive defensemen in recent years, the New York Rangers have three excellent options in their system. The spotlight has constantly been on Michael Del Zotto due to his fast start out of the gate. He has definitely slowed down, but his ability to pick up points as a 19 year old can only be a good sign. Matt Gilroy, the 2009 Hobey Baker Award winner, hasn’t garnered as much early attention as Del Zotto, but is far more experienced and likely will not suffer the same degree of the sophomore slump that Del Zotto will. And now the guy Del Zotto beat out in training camp, Bobby Sanguinetti, is fourth in AHL scoring with 19 points in 17 games. Thank god for this because Wade Redden and Michael Rozsival are definitely not the option for the future.

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