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Friday, January 25, 2013

Puckmania Weekly Blog: Cranking It Up for Week #2

Wild on Sports

Puckmania Weekly Watch
Cranking it up for NHL Week #2
By Wild On Sports NHL Insider Erin Gilman
 January 25, 2013

Looking Back at Last Week:
       With the exciting but at times horrible opening week behind us, we can now move on to the next week of games and hope that the competition improves even if just a little. Touching briefly on last week; as suspected the Bruins vs. Rangers and Penguins VS Flyers games were exciting from beginning to end. All games you could see the players have to attempt to get back in to the swing of it, dust off the rust and get their game legs back. With those games it happened with in the first period but the Vancouver VS Ducks game.... I think the Canucks just forgot to show up.

        The goalie war I spoke of seemed to be very evident in the games last Saturday as well.. Tukka Rask was amazing in net, with several incredible saves. He looked very comfortable in the starting position. Cory Schneider on the other hand in my opinion had no business being in net, at least not yet. While he improved slightly in the shoot out win over Edmonton he did not improve enough to have Vancouver fans confident in his abilities to carry this cup contending team in to the playoffs. With the trade rumor mill buzzing this week on the uncertainty of Roberto Luongo's future in Vancouver we are going to have too see a lot more from Schneider before anyone will be comfortable with a trade choice by Mike Gillis.

Key Match Ups:

        This week is looking to be a very exciting week as well, with some great rivalry match ups scheduled. I picked four of the best rivalries for my key match ups this week. Starting with the battle of Alberta on January 26th. Edmonton and Calgary have had a long standing rivalry, actually this is more than a rivalry these two teams hate each other. It could be in large part to the regional proximity between Calgary and Edmonton, but whatever the reason this game is sure to be action packed right from puck drop. My player to watch in this game is Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with 18 goals last season in his rookie year, I expect big things from him this season.

        Next we have the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks,   In the entire history of the NHL these two teams have met more times over the course of a season then any other teams. This rivalry is more then just a hockey rivalry it actually has caused fights and animosity between the two cities as well. This is going to be a loud and very hostile game for the Detroit fans attending the game in Chicago. Both these teams have mostly established rosters but I think we should keep our eye out for Detroit Red Wings right winger Todd Bertuzzi. His sometimes controversial play always makes for an entertaining game. His dislike for this Chicago team began to burn years ago when he played for the Canucks, only adding over the course of his career with the Red Wings. So keep your eyes out for him, and expect to see some fights.

        Buffalo Sabres will travel to the TD Garden on Thursday January 31st. Though this rivalry is not one of the NHL’s 10 biggest rivalries it as quickly become one to both Bruins and Sabres fans alike. It was secured last season when Ryan Miller, goalie for the Sabres called out the Bruins Milan Lucic and referred to him as a “punk” enraging both Bruins players and the Bruins fans. Because of this I would choose Lucic to be the player to watch on the ice this Thursday. Known for his need to “settle the score” he will be out for blood in true Bruins style. This game is going to be intense.

        Finally we have the Chicago Blackhawks visiting the Vancouver Canucks for the first time this season on February 1st. Another rivalry that has not yet made it to the NHL’s top 10, but it is definitely a contender worth mentioning. The Canucks have had the Blackhawks eliminate them from the Stanley cup two years in the past three, only getting there pay back in the 2011 Stanley cup run where they went on to face the Bruins for the cup. This rivalry has caused full on line brawls and its become a rivalry both Blackhawks and Canucks fans can count on. I expect an intense game from beginning to end, and an even better game if Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider decides to play his best this game. My choice for player to watch this game is a combination of the Sedin Twins for the Vancouver Canucks. Having yet to accomplish much (still a little rusty maybe?) I expect good things from the twins.

Notable players to watch this week:

Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues, with 5 points and 3 goals already this season and a plus/minus rating of plus 3 this rookie is just getting started. He is definitely heading towards rookie of the year with his skills and puck handling. Someone to keep an eye on this season.

Cory Conacher of the Tampa Bay Lightning, already leading all rookies with 3 assists this season I expect great things from this center. I for see his first goal when the Winnipeg jets visit the lighting on February 1st. If not before when the Panthers visit Tampa Bay on Tuesday the 29th of January


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