NHL’s Most Hated Players

Every sport has their heroes and villains both on and off the field/court/ice.  More often than not, the heroes and villains are also the sports’ superstars and/or one and the same.  Let’s look at one example in Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.  He is a hero in Pittsburgh, leading the team to three Stanley Cup victories during his captaincy thus far.  He is a superstar in the NHL being the recipient of 2 Art Ross trophies, 2 Harts, 3 Ted Lindsey awards, 2 Maurice Richard trophies, and 2 Conn Smythes.  Crosby also ranks highly on the list of NHL’s most hated players due to his success, game play, and “cry baby” antics.  Superstars tend to be in the media constantly which draws more attention to their mistakes and mishaps, such as Crosby slashing off Methot’s finger, or more recently Malkin taking batting practice with Raffl’s head.  If Tanner Pearson would have committed either offense, most people would be like “who?” and then not care after the sentencing occurred instead of bringing it up time and time again.

Other heroes, superstars, and villains in the league that hold at least one of those titles include:

Alexander Ovechkin, enough said.

Brad Marchand, I mean who licks opponents just to do it?!

Tom Wilson, his suspension history is reason enough.

Ryan Reaves, is a bully really a bully if they’re bullying a bully?

P.K. Subban, he’s at the middle of all the dramatics and theatrics but yet he’s always the innocent one.

Drew Doughty, his play is as unruly as his hair.

Evgeni Malkin, don’t poke the Russian bear.

TJ Oshie, he skates a fine line between playing hard and playing dirty.

Corey Perry, he’s an accomplished aggravator.

James Neal, same as Oshie with questionable hits and actions.

Ryan Kesler, he plays a big game and talks a bigger one.

Antoine Roussel, he plays a physical game with a short fuse.

Andrew Shaw, described as dirty, reckless, and dangerous with cheap plays and one-liners.

Milan Lucic, credited as a protector of his teammates and takes on fights and penalties so they don’t have to.

Zac Rinaldo, known for his head-hunting abilities who loves a short 5-game vacation and takes them frequently.

Scott Hartnell, mostly when he was with the Flyers and Blue Jackets.  He’s kind of dropped off the radar since then.

Many say Matthew Tkachuk, but I believe Brady Tkachuk will quickly replace his brother on these lists.

They say if you have haters, then you must be doing something right.  I would say that if you have haters based on your performance and successes on the field/court/ice then you must be doing something right.

Did I miss anyone who deserves to be on the list?  If so, reply in the comments with your additions, deletions, and opinions!

Thanks for reading! Keep it classy JMSO followers.

-A. Kam

 

Reference:

https://www.hockey-reference.com

2019 NHL All Star Game Preview

Tonight is the 2019 NHL All Star Skills Competition and the NHL All Star Game is set for tomorrow.  The six categories for the skills competition are as follows:

Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater

Enterprise NHL Premier Passer

Ticketmaster NHL Save Streak

Gatorade NHL Puck Control

SAP NHL Hardest Shot

Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting

With some new names attending their first All Star Game, it’s going to be fun seeing who will be competing in which event and the victors.  My picks for each would be Connor McDavid for Fastest Skater as he has won it the last two years.  I’m going with Giroux for Premier Passer and you gotta go with Fleury for the Save Streak.  Johnny All Star is taking home Puck Control.  After that slash, Keith Yandle for Hardest Shot and always take Sidney Crosby in an Accuracy Shooting competition.

As for the All Star Game, the Metropolitan Division seems to be the favorite going into the weekend.  However, the Pacific Division has the players to put up back to back wins.  I’m going with the Metro versus the Pacific in the finals and as long as Letang is defending for the Metro, the Pacific is winning it all.

Here are the full rosters for each team.  The coaches leading from the benches this year are Jon Cooper, Paul Maurice, Todd Reirden, and Bill Peters.

Atlantic

Jack Eichel, Sabres

Nikita Kucherov, Lightning

Auston Matthews (C), Maple Leafs

Jeff Skinner, Sabres

David Pastrnak, Bruins

Steven Stamkos, Lightning

John Tavares, Maple Leafs

Thomas Chabot, Senators

Keith Yandle, Panthers

Jimmy Howard, Red Wings

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning

Central

Patrick Kane, Blackhawks

Nathan MacKinnon (C), Avalanche

Ryan O’Reilly, Blues

Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche

Mark Scheifele, Jets

Blake Wheeler, Jets

Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche

Miro Heiskanen, Stars

Roman Josi, Predators

Devan Dubnyk, Wild

Pekka Rinne, Predators

Metropolitan

Sebastian Aho, Hurricanes

Cam Atkinson, Blue Jackets

Mathew Barzal, Islanders

Sidney Crosby, Penguins

Claude Giroux, Flyers

Kyle Palmieri, Devils

John Carlson, Capitals

Seth Jones, Blue Jackets

Kris Letang, Penguins

Braden Holtby, Capitals

Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers

Pacific

Johnny Gaudreau, Flames

Clayton Keller, Coyotes

Connor McDavid (C), Oilers

Joe Pavelski, Sharks

Elias Pettersson, Canucks

Leon Draisaitl, Oilers

Brent Burns, Sharks

Drew Doughty, Kings

Erik Karlsson, Sharks

Marc-Andre Fleury, Golden Knights

John Gibson, Ducks

Jake Guentzel

Jake Guentzel has always been good, but this season he has taken his game to another level.  Already, he has surpassed his goals total for a season and we’re just at the halfway point.  He was named NHL’s 3rd star of the week for this past week.   Not to mention his contract extension that made us all smile and seemed to kick start an offensive streak in him.

Guentzel is all over the ice: defending well in his own zone, putting pucks in the net, and providing support to his linemates.  Last year it seemed that he was always getting hit, hit hard, by opponents.  This season he takes hits better and doesn’t leave himself as exposed when on the boards and in corners.

He’s embraced his spot on the team and in the city of Pittsburgh.  We’re loving what he’s giving and can’t wait to see what the remainder of the season has in store for him.

NHL Countdown: Tonight is the Night!

First things first: Tom Wilson was finally suspended for a reasonable amount of time for his offense.  Although, I don’t see how he is allowed to continue to play in the NHL, or why he would want to.  As the league mentioned, Wilson has not made any attempt to adjust his playing style.  I don’t understand how he would want to play in a league he clearly does not respect.  It’s not just an isolated incident or directed to just one team or player, he intentionally throws illegal hits at every opponent that dares to skate near him.  Maybe this will be a wakeup call for him to change his game.  Hopefully he’ll decide the NHL is no longer for him and move on.

Sadly, the Calgary Flames started the season with a loss while going 0 for 7 on the powerplay.  It seems that this is a recurring issue as they draw penalties left and right (many thanks to Johnny Gaudreau) but they just can’t seem to capitalize on them.  It wasn’t all bad though with Mony back, feeling and looking good on the ice.  Also, with the freshly stitched “A” on his chest, Tkachuk put a tally in the goal column last night.

Finishing up the preseason yesterday morning, Haie put up a good fight against the Oilers, who ultimately won in overtime.  It seemed that the Oilers would dominate after the first minutes of play, but Haie came back and their rookie goalie made some big saves in his league debut.

With a quick first goal to start the night, Comtois put the Ducks on the board in his league debut.  Not even Erik Karlsson on the blue line was enough to keep the Ducks from defeating the Sharks 5-2.

With the great John Tavares and Auston Matthews keeping his first game streak alive, the Toronto Maple Leafs topped the Canadiens 3-2 in overtime.

Tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins are tasked with holding off the Capitals, who shut out the Bruins last night with an impressive 7-0 score.  I believe the Pens are ready for the task.  They know what to expect from the Capitals: a hard-hitting, fast-paced game with big goals and a lot of shots.

The Penguins’ lines are stronger than ever and hopefully Murray worked on his glove side during the offseason.  There’s a lot of talk about Sprong being placed on the fourth line, but I believe it’s the best place for him at this point in his career.  He didn’t have the strongest training camp and still has a lot of learning to do.  Being on that fourth line with Matt Cullen is the best opportunity for him to grow his game, gain some grit, and really show his work ethic.  Besides, who would you take off of the first line for him to play with Crosby?  Certainly not Hornqvist or Guentzel.  Hornqvist is ready to go and always lives up to his name and his game.  His net-front presence is unmatchable and compliments Crosby’s ability to get the puck to the front of the net.  Guentzel’s stickwork and passing skills work extremely well alongside Crosby as well and he has certainly earned his spot on the top line.  One last note, I fully believe that Chad Ruwhedel has earned his spot on the team and should be paired up with Maatta for opening night.

That’s all for now!  LETS GO PENS!!!!

NHL Countdown: Meet My Teams & Players

Teams:

Pittsburgh Penguins

I grew up a Penguins fan but didn’t start to seriously follow them until I was around 13 years old.  Since then they have won 3 Stanley Cups, made many playoff runs, and drafted/traded for some big names, a few that are still in Pittsburgh.  No matter what happens, I will die a Penguins fan (unless they ever hire John Tortorella as a coach then I’m jumping ship and losing all respect for the organization).

Calgary Flames

I didn’t start following the Calgary Flames until Johnny Gaudreau joined them after his time at Boston College.  It also worked in their favor that they had Deryk Engelland at the time.  Since then, the organization has grown on me and I have liked the majority of their players, trades, and acquisitions.  My favorite that occurred over this past summer was trade that brought Noah Hanifin to Calgary.

Carolina Hurricanes

Jordan Staal being a Pittsburgh Penguins was ultimately what starting my being a fan of the Canes.  Through Jordan, I started to follow Eric and in turn the Hurricanes.  Jeff Skinner kept me a fan of the Hurricanes along with Jordan being traded to them for Sutter and the youngest Staal, Jared, playing for their AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.  I have not been a fan of their trades recently as I don’t believe they are smart moves for the organization.  I would hate to be Sebastien Aho, playing on a team with high expectations for you that isn’t trying to put together a winning team around you.

Boston College Golden Eagles

While not an NHL team, the BC Eagles are why I’m a fan of many NHL players.  I started following BC when they played in Robert Morris University’s 1st annual Three Rivers Classic.  Johnny Gaudreau, Patrick Brown, and Kevin Hayes impressed me with their on-ice presence and skill and I’ve been following them and the Eagles ever since.

 

Players:

Olli Maatta:  He is the epitome of Finland’s development program, has overcome so much in his young career, and continues to improve his game.

Jordan Staal:  J. Staal was an easy Penguin to like.  He was always a dependable third-line center that produced and could kill a penalty.

Sergei Gonchar:  Gonchar was my very first “favorite player” and Penguin.  I don’t know why I initially started to like him but his well-rounded game play is why I continued to follow him even after he left the ‘Burgh.  He wasn’t gone for too long though and very few people were happier than I was to see him hired on as a defensive coach.

Johnny (Hockey) Gaudreau:  Johnny Hockey loves the game and plays it well.  His work ethic is what made me notice him at the Three Rivers Classic.  He was all over the ice while still complementing his teammates and setting them up for opportunities.  Despite his accomplishments and phenomenal collegiate turned NHL career, he remains humble.

Marc Andre Fleury:  I have never, nor will ever, understand how any fan of hockey can hate on Fleury.  The guy is a magician on the ice, a trickster with his teammates, and the ultimate family man.  I will forever be thankful for all Fleury and his family have for the city of Pittsburgh both on and off the ice.

Beau Bennett:  Beau Bennett had such promise, but his injuries definitely had a significant impact on his career.  I liked his game play with the Penguins, now I admire how he has acclimated to his changed career path and his sense of humor/personality through it all.

Noah Hanifin:  Hanifin is a BC alum and an up-and-coming defenseman in the league.  I enjoyed watching him on the ice for BC and the Canes and I can’t wait to see what he will bring to Calgary this year.

Conor Sheary:  aka Lil’ Conor worked hard every second he was on the ice and rarely lost a battle in the corner boards despite being quite smaller than some of his opponents.  I’ll miss seeing #43 in a Penguins jersey.

Honorable Mentions: Jeff Skinner, Matt Cooke, Deryk Engelland, Brian Gibbons, Matt Niskanen as a Penguin, Jayson Megna, Cam Atkinson, Eric Staal, Brandon Sutter, William Nylander, Kevin Hayes, Bobby Farnham, Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Alex Tuch.

 

The Olli one that Maattas!

My absolute favorite active player in the NHL is Olli Maatta, if you didn’t already know.  Today, August 22, 2018, just happens to be his 24th birthday.  I’d say he definitely accomplished and overcame a lot in his life thus far.  A defenseman from Finland, Maatta has his haters, but they just don’t appreciate the progress of his career.

  • He played in multiple World Junior Championships and many other international competitions both for Finland’s U18 and U20 teams.
  • He was the youngest player to ever play for Finland’s World Junior team
  • While in the OHL, he and his team made it to the Memorial Cup championship game not once, but twice.
  • He finished in fifth place for Calder Cup voting after his rookie season with the Penguins.
  • He won a bronze medal with Team Finland in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
  • He was selected to Finland’s team for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
  • Olli Maatta has played a part in the Penguins winning back to back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.

Mind you, he achieved those two Stanley Cups after overcoming a shoulder injury that required two separate surgeries about six months apart.  In the midst of that, he was diagnosed with low-grade thyroid cancer which kept him off the ice for only two weeks after surgery.

The kid has only gotten better over time.  His skating, which everyone complained about it being an issue his first few seasons, has improved greatly and is no longer a hindrance to his game.  He has been relied on to step up with alllllllll of the injuries that have plagued the Penguins’ blue line over the last few years.  Maatta is steady and secure in his game.  He’s not one to get in his own head and let one bad shift affect the rest of the game.

It’s been exceptional, tremendous, enlightening, and just really, really cool to watch him grow his game and develop as a player over the last few years.  He’s the one that really introduced to me to the greatness of the developmental program that Finland has created and maintained.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him and hope he stays in Pittsburgh for a long, long time.

 

 

 

 

Sources that helped out with some of the stats:

https://www.nhl.com/player/olli-maatta-8476874

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olli_M%C3%A4%C3%A4tt%C3%A4#Junior

Cullen & Kids

Pittsburgh and Penguins fans could not be happier to have Matt Cullen, aka “Dad”, back for one more season.  However, Cullen and his sons might be even happier to be back in the ‘Burgh and with the Penguins organization.  Joey, Wyatt, and Brooks Cullen love Pittsburgh and their dad’s Penguins teammates.  Over the summer, since he signed back with the Penguins, the Penguins media crew met up with the Cullen’s and did a series on them.  In one picture, his son could be seen wearing a Penguins shirt but not with his dad’s name on the back.  Instead, the Cullen kids wear Pens gear with their favorite players on the back such as Evgeni Malkin and of course Sidney Crosby.

Crosby is a bit of a legend in the Cullen household.  First off, the oldest Cullen boy, Brooks, has a huge Fathead wall display featuring Crosby in his bedroom.  Also, part of the media series covered knee hockey tournaments in the Cullen’s basement with special guests.  Crosby was named the “best goalie” and Hornqvist took home the title of “best player” while Phil Kessel wasn’t as good as his sister, Amanda, and Carl Hagelin was too “slow”.

It was cool to see into their lives outside of hockey (although their lives outside of hockey still contains a lot of hockey).  Matt Cullen will always be the Dad of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh will always be a second home for this Dad.

 

Sources:

https://twitter.com/penguins?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

https://www.nhl.com/penguins/news/cullen-enjoying-dad-duty-during-offseason/c-299704722

Skinner vs. Kunitz

Jeff Skinner or Chris Kunitz?  It seems to be the biggest trade rumor when it comes to the Penguins and their fans this off-season.  With Skinner, you get a strong left winger whereas with Kunitz you get a city-loved veteran.   Skinner would be new blood in Pittsburgh with new energy and a ready-to-go mindset.  He finished the past season with 49 points in 82 games but could add to his defensive game as he was      -27 on the season.  Although, seeing as he was with the Hurricanes, it was probably a team-wide issue.  At this point in his career, I see Kunitz being a third/fourth-liner if he comes back to Pittsburgh.  He knows the game and the city, if not Sullivan’s system.  He brings a lot of grit to his game while still producing on offense.  Now with Sheary and Hunwick on their way to Buffalo, it looks like we may just see Kunitz back in the ‘Burgh or invite Skinner for a long-term visit.