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Friday, February 15, 2013

Puckmania Weekly Blog: End of an Era

Wild on Sports
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Puckmania Weekly Watch: End of an Era
By WildOnSports NHL Insider Erin Gilman

It was an exciting and even depressing for some this week in the NHL. As a born and raised Canucks fan I must say it is with a heavy heart that Canucks nation says goodbye to a fan favorite. Manny Malhotra was “guided” in to what is being called an “early retirement” Last season Malhotra missed the majority of the season with an eye injury, and according to GM Mike Gillis “His health is of the outmost importance to the organization” Manny never fully recovered from his injury only gaining back 70% of his eye sight. Though too proud to admit the troubles he has been having it is clear to his teammates and management alike. Malhotra has been asked to remain in the Canucks organization though his roll is still yet to be determined. He is a strong member of this club and fans will be happy to know he will remain, though no longer in his jersey a Canuck none the less. But some good news for this saddened organization and fan base, forward Ryan Kesler makes his season debut tonight against the Dallas Stars.

Some other notable events from this passed week; Chicago has still yet to experience a regulation loss and have moved to 13-0-3 for the season. Roberto Luongo has moved to the top goalie spot and is putting his “replacement” Cory Schneider to shame. Todd Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings has been placed on the injured reserve for ongoing “back issues” and Thomas Vanek is leading all offensive score boards still with a very impressive 23 points over all and a plus minus of 11 falling short of only one man, Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes with a 12 plus minus rating over all.

Key Match Ups this Week:

Vancouver Canucks vs Chicago Blackhawks
One of the greatest rivalries in sports today. I have been to these games and there is no courtesy, no friendships and no holding anything back. These two teams HATE each other, and their fans are no better. I have actually seen fans removed from these games, and I have been to Boston vs Montreal games, and anyone that knows hockey knows about that rivalry. With Kesler back in the forward position he will be a player to watch, as according to Kesler he “has to make up his absence to his fans” I also suggest keeping your eye on the goalies of this game. As Luongo and Schneider battle for the start and Blackhawks goalie Crawford looks to keep his team in their “no regulation loss” run (However Crawford is currently listed day to day for an undisclosed upper body injury we can hope he is back in time) Kevin Bieksa will be another player to keep your eye on, with less penalty minutes this season then any before I expect to see some fights from him.

Boston Bruins vs Winnipeg Jets
Not a regular rivalry YET, But still one I expect to be exciting from beginning to end. As a Boston Bruin player you don’t necessarily hate teams as much as players on those teams. Players that come on the ice with a BIG target on their back. I expect the target this week to be Dustin Byfuglien. As a known “instigator” he normally has a large target on his back and this Bruins team is far too strong to want that. Its also a great game between these two teams when we see Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart take on their old team mates. I expect a high scoring game and a lot of penalty minutes.

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