Tag Archives: Jordan Staal

10 overrated hockey pool picks

Yesterday, I listed 10 sleepers that can win you a hockey pool.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Zdeno Chara should not expect to get 40 points this year.

But bad drafting will take you out of a hockey pool pretty quickly. No amount of sleepers can make up for a three or four bad picks, or picking guys too early.

Below, in no particular order, you’ll find 10 overrated players when it comes to your pool this year.

Zdeno Chara- There are several reasons why you should stay away from Chara. He played a long season last year, and he’s in trouble of a Stanley Cup hangover. I think he finished below 40 points.

Alex Tanguay- Had 69 points last year, so someone will draft him three rounds too high. Don’t be that person. Expect him to finish in the 50-55 point range.

Jordan Staal- Sure, he’s always ready to break through. Every season, he’s expected to play with Crosby or Malkin, but it never happens. He’s a great third-liner, but will finish with below 50 points once again.

Mike Richards- He’ll get more points than he has the past few seasons, but that’s mostly because he’s playing with Anze Kopitar. But he’ll still finish with about 70 points, so don’t draft in rounds when you can get 80-point guys.

Derick Brassard- With the BlueJackets bringing in more offensive help, he’ll probably slip down the depth chart. With less ice time, expect less points.

Michael Grabner- Had a great rookie season last year. But with Kyle Okposo back from injury, Mark Streit back and taking up a lot of powerplay time, and rookies Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Strome possibly making the team, Grabner’s ice time will be taking a big hit.

Eric Staal- Easily the most overvalued player. People treat him like a 90-point player, but his true value is in the 70-point territory. Don’t believe the hype and draft him too early.

Logan Couture- Won’t be able to replicate what he did last year. Expect a small setback.

Marian Hossa- Battling too many injuries the last few years. If healthy, could get 65-70 points. But more realistically, expect 50 points and 65 games.

Milan Lucic- Came really out of nowhere to score 30 goals and 62 points last season. He’s a bruiser, a brawler and a Bruin. Don’t expect a repeat of those numbers.

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Pittsburgh Penguins preview

Overview: The Pittsburgh Penguins are once again going to struggle to find someone to play alongside Sidney Crosby.

Every year, it’s the same questions going into the season: Who’s going to be on Crosby’s wing? Who can help take some pressure off of him?

The Pens brass try to get cheap help for him, and Crosby excels despite that. Imagine how good he would be if he had a Jari Kurri-type player to feed the puck to, or a Nicklas Backstrom to take some of the attention away.

But once again, Crosby doesn’t have that luxury. And despite that, he’ll still be among amongst the league leaders in points.

Best offseason move: Signing Paul Martin. Martin, along with freshly-signed Zbynek Michalek, will be counted on to shut down the opponents’ top lines. They’re both young and healthy enough that this isn’t a killer deal for the team in a few years.

Worst offseason move: Not replacing Sergei Gonchar. Gonchar wanted too much for too long, so letting him walk was a smart move. Maybe they’re hoping Alex Goligoski can lead the team on the powerplay. But Goligoski won’t be playing a lot of regular shifts, which means they don’t have someone who can give the outlet pass during regular play. It’s underrated, but you can see how bad the Pens powerplay is when Gonchar was injured. Having that d-man with the big shot is a big help, and it will be interesting to see how the rest of the team copes without it.

Dark horse trophy candidate: Evgeni Malkin for the Rocket Richard

Pool pick: Jordan Staal. He’s never scored more than 49 points, as he’s the team’s top checking forward.  But he’s due for a breakout year, and probably more powerplay time. I expect him to finish with about 65 points. Who to stay away from: Mike Comrie. Please, if you can only take away one piece of advice about hockey pools, make it this: Never draft a player that, in the preseason, people are saying is going to be playing with Sidney Crosby. That person will kill your hockey pool.

Sporcle quiz: Can you name the Pittsburgh Penguins Leading Scorers?

Best hall of fame choice: Sidney Crosby. Stanley Cup. Check. Gold medal at world juniors. Check. Olympic gold medal. Check. Rocket Richard trophy. Check. Art Ross trophy. Check. Hart trophy. Check. A player fans of opposing teams would pay to watch. Check. All he needs now is the numbers, but considering he’s already got 183 goals and 506 points (and he’s only 23), he’s pretty much a shoo-in.

Blog to follow: The Pensblog

My Prediction: First in the Atlantic, third in the East

Famous celebrity from that city: Julie Benz

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2009 preview: Pittsburgh Penguins

Last year, the Pittsburgh Penguins won a game seven Stanley Cup final to win the title for the first time since 1992.

Now, as defending champions, everyone will be gunning for them. Teams will try to build confidence, and a regular season victory over the Stanley Cup champs will be seen as a victory for some teams.

The Pens will have to stay on their toes for the rest of the season.

Story of the season: Will there be a Stanley Cup hangover? Many teams have trouble staying motivated the season after winning the Stanley Cup. The intensity of games are lower, losing a game doesn’t mean as much and you don’t see the same team for days on end. The penguins, a young team, could be in trouble by becoming loose as the season wears on. As we’ve seen from countless other teams, intensity isn’t a switch you just turn on and off: You need to build up to it.

Former Habs: None

Blog to follow: The Pens Blog

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Pool Picks: Jordan Staal. Last season, he scored 49 points. He’s locked up to a long-term high-salary deal, so he won’t be there just to play defence. Expect an offensive break-out year from him. Stay away from:As I warned last year, stay away from any one you may hear that will be playing with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. The lines switch so often, you may only get a few good games at your winger before they get moved to the third line.

Award nominees:Jordan Staal for the Selke trophy

Expected Finish: First in the Atlantic, Second in the east

Cheerleader: Not sure who this is, but it’s the only photo I could find.

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NHL predictions, round 3

With round 3 of the the NHL playoffs about to begin tonight, I figured this would be the perfect time to give my thoughts on this round.

In the last round, I went three-for-four, only getting the Boston Bruins-Carolina Hurricanes series wrong.

Chicago Blackhawks vs Detroit Red Wings

This is one of those matchups that showcases two extremes. Chicago is a young team, making their first playoffs in seven seasons and only second time in 12 years. Detroit is the Staley Cup champions, and has won four Stanley Cups in that time while not missing the playoffs in more than a dozen seasons.

Detroit against Chicago is an original 6 matchup.

Detroit against Chicago is an original 6 matchup.

Detroit spent about $2 million on their goalies this past season, while Chicago spent more than $12 million on theirs.

The list goes on and on. But despite all the experience Detroit has, this series has a Blackhawks win all over it.

These are the top two powerplay teams in the league in the playoffs (with Chicago being the best), but Chicago has the advantage on penalty killing (even the Montreal Canadiens had a better penalty kill so far this playoffs than the Red Wings). So look for the Blackhakws to take advantage of the Red Wings on the powerplay.

The other advantage Chicago has is its goaltending. Going into the Vancouver series, Canucks goalie Roberto Louongo was seen as the top goalie in the league. But the Blackhawks destroyed him. Even a three-goal wasn’t safe with the Blackhawks coming at him. In a must-win game 6, Luongo let in seven goals on 30 shots. They kept coming, and wore  down Luongo until he started letting in plenty of third period goals.

So if the Blackhawks can do that against the best goalie in the world, then what will they do to Chris Osgood. Sure Osgood has looked good in these playoffs, but that is following a weak regular season. Throw in the fact he has had two easy series (where the Red Wings swept an overmatched Columbus BlueJackets in the first round, and went to a seventh game against an Anaheim Ducks team that would get about 20 shots a game).

The Blackhawks can roll three scoring lines at Osgood, and will pepper him with quality scoring chances until he gets tired (like what happened against Luongo) and end up winning most of the games.

Because of that, Chicago will take this series.

My prediction: Chicago in 6.

Carolina Hurricanes vs Pittsburgh Penguins

Both teams are coming off game 7 victories over higher-seeded teams, but it’s the Hurricanes that pulled off the bigger upset, defeating the top seeded Boston Bruins.

Who will win in a battle of Staal vs. Staal?

Who will win in a battle of Staal vs. Staal?

People have been counting Carolina out for every series they have played so far. Can they pull off another upset? The simple answer is no.

If they were meeting on more even terms, then a Carolina victory would make more sense. But the fact is, they have played two tough game-seven series’ in a row. Lots of overtime games, lots of hitting, lots of back and forth action.

I look for Carolina to start getting tired. They have no time to recover from their injuries or to rest.

The Bruins would try to match up with Carolina, but I think the Pens won’t care as much. They have too much talent to try and line match. If you want to beat Pittsburgh, you have to line match against them.

Plus, Sidney Crosby looks like a man possessed out there. He has definitely taken his game up a notch in this year’s playoffs.

Also, look for the Pens’ Jordan Staal to be chacking his brother, Eric Staal, the whole series. We all know what it’s like to be matched against your brother. They’ll know exactly what to say and do to goad the other into bad penalties or to take them off their game. It will be fun to watch.

The key to Pittsburgh though will be Sergei Gonchar. If he’s playing, their powerplay will be able to click. If he’s too injured to play, the team will suffer with the man advantage, and make it that more difficult to win.

Regardless, the Pens have too much firepower, and the Hurricanes will start to slow up as fatigue sets in the longer the round goes.

My prediction: Pittsburgh in 6.

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Pittsburgh Penguins preview

I may have started making my picks too early.

Last week, I was confident the Pittsburgh Penguins would win the division and the conference, even with the loss of some key forwards, such as Marian Hossa and Ryan Malone. But then the news came out that their top defenceman Sergei Gonchar is out until March with an injury. And their second-best defenceman, Ryan Whitney, is out until for three months.

You think that would be enough to shake my confidence in this team. But no, even with their losses and their injuries, they still have enough talent to win most of their games.

Forwards: Before last season, this was seen as Sidney Crosby’s team. If anything happened to him, the franchise was doomed. But Evgeni Malkin stepped up his game last year when Crosby went down with an injury. Malkin scored 47 goals and had 106 points to lead the Penguins to the division title, and only one point out of first in the conference.

And despite their losses up front, they still have a good young core of players. Jordan Staal is a beast on the ice, and is a great penalty-killer. He’ll pick up a lot of the slack left behind. Matt Cooke is a good fourth-liner that can play on any line if need be. And Petr Sykora should be good for close to 30 goals again.

Defence: Anyone else not worried at all that their top two defencemen are injured? With Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney out, all the pressure falls to the other defencemen, but they should pull through quite well. They won’t be expected to score goals, so they’ll be able to rest when the powerplay in on the ice.

Brooks Orpik is a solid defensive defenceman who will help shut down the other team’s top lines.

Hall Gill’s career was reborn once he was traded to Pittsburgh from the Toronto Maple Leafs last year. Who knew he knew how to play defence?

And young Kris Letang (he’s 21 years old) will get a chance to mature this season.

Darryl Sydor will help with the leadership back there, as he’s been there before and has won a couple of Stanley Cups.

Plus, Gonchar is set to come back a few weeks before the playoffs. So he’s healthy, rested and raring to go during the stretch drive.

Goaltending: It looked like Marc-Andre Fleury’s career was going to be ruined at an early age. He was thrust into a bad situation in Pittsburgh, and he got hammered. A goalie is a special breed of player. Once he loses his confidence, he’s sunk. It was only two years ago where he won 13 games out of 50 and had a goals against of 3.25. But he’s been improving every season. His save percentage has gone up and goals against has gone down every single year since he joined the NHL. He’s now turned into a quality netminder, and he is now seen as one of the on-ice leaders of the team.

Pool picks: Jordan Staal may not be selected in many drafts, thanks to his 28 points last year, but he is worth a late-round draft pick. He was used mostly as a defensive player last season, but may get a chance to play with Evgeni Malkin. If that happens, watch for his point total to go up. Stay away from any player you may be hearing will be playing with Sidney Crosby. Crosby’s linemates change every other game as the coach tries to match lines. Miroslav Satan may sound like he’s going to play with Crosby, but then one day the head coach will think, “Wait, Miroslav Satan? Seriously?” and will then proceed to switch things up.

Miscellaneous:It must play with your mind if you’re a player on a team that went to the Stanley Cup finals, just to see your team almost get dismantled. Gone is Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Jarkko Ruutu, Georges Laraque, Marian Hossa, Adam Hall and Ty Conklin. The hardest thing to replace out of those players is the leadership Roberts brings to the game. But those players had to go, or else the Penguins would not have been able to keep their top superstars. But that’s life in the new NHL.

Expected finish: First in the Atlantic division, first in the Eastern conference

Overall: Even with all the losses, the Penguins will still have a great year. If healthy, Crosby will get about 130 points and 40,000 endorsement deals. Gonchar will come back in time to lead the team to a 13-1-1 record in the last 15 games. And Jordan Staal will break through to prove that he is the best Staal brother in the NHL.

So Pens fans, there’s no need to worry. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

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