When the Bruins visited the Canadiens on December 4th 2013, a friend of mine was attacked on the subway. He was on his way home from the game when he was confronted by two clearly inebriated Habs “fans” wearing Canadiens jerseys. They began verbally assaulting him before pushing, shoving, and eventually punching him. Thankfully, a bystander came to his defense and threw the two instigators out of the subway cart. He went home with a couple of bumps and bruises, the worst being a swollen left eye.
The reason for the attack? My friend was wearing a Bruins jersey.
There are far too many stories of fans attacking one another, based only on the colours on their backs (although alcohol consumption may be a contributing factor). This by no means isolated to hockey; both baseball and football have had recent incidents which will forever leave marks on the sport. The most extreme cases, such as soccer in Europe, unfortunately lead to many people getting injured or even killed, all because people support different teams.
Since when does being a fan of sports involve violence? Is it not enough to respect each other’s allegiances with sports teams, or is it now the duty of fans to belittle opponents with violence and intimidation? I find it extremely alarming that the lifestyle of some fans now resemble that of street gangs when it comes to rivalries. I know you cannot compare the violence between the Bloods and the Crips in L.A. to the violence between sports fans, but the hostility is still there. It’s sad that one person can end up hating another over the knowledge that the other person supports a rival team.
I don’t consider people who disrespect opponent’s supporters as fans. It goes completely against what sports is supposed to represent, which to bring people together and enjoy a display of skill and entertainment. There is no need to include violence or abuse for any reason. The fact that some cities have developed reputations for being some of the most hostile venues for visiting fans is a cause for concern. Buffalo and Philadelphia, from what I’ve heard in the news and through word of mouth, are two of the scariest places to be as a visiting fan. A friend of mine went to a Buffalo Bills game to watch them play against his team, the Miami Dolphins. He was told by his friend not to wear his Dolphins jersey, or even cheer when Miami makes a good play or scores a touchdown. That’s sad. Something is terribly wrong with the fan mentality if one fan can’t wear his team’s jersey without fearing a backlash from the opposition’s fans.
What is encouraging is that it is a very small minority of people who use fandom as an excuse to be violent. Many professional sports teams and leagues try denounce and discourage all forms of fan abuse, whether it be verbal or physical. I recall a few years back during a Canadiens-Bruins playoff series when a surprisingly large group of Canadiens fans booed the American National anthem (video HERE). The following game, the announcer introduced the Anthem singer and named all the Canadiens players that were American. That incident is more an example of mob mentality than anything else, but the team’s response demonstrates an effort to try and eliminate the lack of respect among sports fans.
Fans should not have to live in fear when they support their team. Everyone has the right to be a fan, and people need to learn that. Even though the Habs and Bruins have been fierce rivals for decades, there is no reason a Bruins fan and a Habs fan can’t sit on the same bus, in the same restaurant or in the same arena without throwing slurs or punches. Hockey is about respect, and it’s about time fans started showing some to one another.
Here’s a link to an article I wrote for my University’s paper, The Concordian. Feel free to comment!
Today is a wonderful day. Training camps are officially OPEN! That means hockey is only a few weeks away, and it couldn’t come any sooner.
With this being a day to celebrate, I thought it would be the perfect time to write up a summary of all the NHL stories from the summer. I don’t want to simply regurgitate what you’ve heard over and over again all summer, so I’m going to do my best to put my own little twist on all the stories. Attempts at humour will be made, but there is not guarantee of success. Enjoy!
Kovalchuk “retires”, but finds a new job in KHL
Well, this was unexpected.
Kovalchuk surprised everyone when he announced that he was retiring from the NHL. What was far less surprising was when it was announced a few days later that he had signed with a team in the KHL. Many Russian players during the lockout made it clear that leaving the NHL for the KHL is never out of the question When the possibility of NHL players participating in the Sochi Olympics was in question the tension between the NHL and their Russian players only grew. Kovalchuk is not the first to leave the NHL to return home, and he definitely won’t be the last.
To be honest, I don’t necessarily blame the guy. I’m thinking about it in this context: I get offered a great job in…China, for argument’s sake. Although I am making good money at a job I enjoy, I am away from home for almost the entire, year, except for vacations. I’ve been working at this job for over a decade, when a similar job becomes available in my home country. I miss home. I want to be with my family in my home country. Although China has been very accommodating, it will never be the country I call home. Even though I have a contract with the business in China, I decide to breach the contract and head home.
The only true issue I have with his decision is the timing of it. With his announcement coming once free agent frenzy had come and gone, the Devils were then left out to dry. They have lost their superstar, with very little chance of replacing hime. If Kovalchuk had announced his intentions earlier, the Devils could have at least made a splash to try and replace him. Now Kovalchuk is gone, and the free agent well has run almost dry. Maybe there were reasons for the timing, I really don’t know. But I don’t blame Kovalchuk for wanting to go home, where his heart is. I don’t agree with how he went about returning home, but I don’t blame him for doing so.
Canucks finally trade a goalie, but mix up names and accidentally trade Schneider
I think Mike Gillis is trying to make a bid to become the most unorthodox General Manager of all time.
Gillis had a rare opportunity that all general managers would love to have: two stellar goaltenders. It’s the type of conundrum teams would love to have, because no matter who you trade, you have a solid number one to take over for good. And somehow, Gillis managed to make the situation a complete nightmare for everyone involved.
After openly stating that the Canucks were “listening to offers” for Roberto Luongo and his massive contract, Gillis was unable to move the expensive netminder. Draft day comes around, and out of almost nowhere Gillis trades Schneider to the Devils for their first-round draft pick. Not only that, Gillis had the audacity to say that his intention was always to develop Schneider into a trade-able asset.
Imagine how awkward things between Gillis and Luongo will be from now on. “Hey Roberto, ol’ buddy ol’ pal. Remember that whole ‘we’re trying to trade you’ thing? Well…you just got PUNK’D! C’mon man, you know you’ll always be my number one guy, right? It’s not that I couldn’t get anyone to take your massive contract or anything. I was just playing mind games with the other GMs. C’mon buddy…”
Luongo has barely spoken to the media since the trade, and to be honest I can understand why. A few members of the hockey media think he’s being a big drama queen. If my team just spent the better part of a year trying to trade and then suddenly turn around and call me their number one man, I’d feel pretty skeptical about the whole thing.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how this whole thing turns out in Vancouver. No matter how long it goes on, there will always be the “what if we kept Schneider” theories. Being from Montreal, I am constantly hearing the comparisons Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak. Some people still think the Canadiens traded the wrong guy, and others think they could have gotten more for Halak. Vancouver fans, expect a few years of those same conversations.
Iginla signs with Boston, redefines the meaning of the word ‘irony’
And so the plot thickens.
This is the only proper to ending to what has been a half-year saga with Iginla. The story could have easily ended when Iginla’s Penguins were swept by the Bruins, the very team he turned his back on, and many fans would have been satisfied with the weird ways of the Hockey Gods. When free agency came around, Iginla decided to shock everyone by signing with the Bruins. That could have been a season finale’s cliff hanger on a TV show.
To be serious for a second, I do think that Iginla will fit in very nicely with the Bruins. These guys are professionals, and I would be shocked if any of the Bruins players felt any animosity towards Iginla. He made a decision, and that’s that. No hard feelings. I’m excited to see Iglina in the Black and Gold. If my math is correct, the Bruins became 12.6% more likeable after Iginla signed with the team. Let’s be honest, no one can hate this guy. He is just too nice.
Horton wants out of spotlight, decides on Columbus, since Delaware doesn’t have a team
I’ll admit, I’ve never been to Delaware. This is more of a tribute to Wayne’s World and their first experiences with the green screen. “Or imagine being magically swept away to….Delaware. … Hi. …. I’m in Delaware…”
I like what Columbus has done in the last few off seasons. They’ve been able to slowly but surely add pieces to their puzzle, and they are becoming a force to be reckoned with. They now have a Vezina-winning goaltender, a few solid defensemen, and some great players in return from the Rick Nash trade. They now add Horton, a proven, gritty goal scorer. Although I don’t think the team will be winning any cups in the next few years, I wouldn’t be surprised if they make the playoffs. Let’s not forget, they’re now in the Eastern Conference. That means they have to battle with teams like Buffalo, Florida and Carolina. They’re odds are definitely turning in their favour, however they still can’t manage to escape the wrath of the Red Wings. Trust me, they are going to be a force to reckon with this year.
Montreal signs epic moustache, man behind it can also fight
George Parros has some of the best facial hair in the business. I honestly believe his mustache may be more popular than his hockey skills! There are theories that Parros is the great-grandson of the “overly manly-man” meme (internet people will understand). If the Canadiens’ goal was to add toughness to their lineup, they succeeded in picking up the ‘Stache. Adding Danny Briere is a step backwards in terms of getting bigger, however Briere is no wuss. He is gritty, he battles in the corners, and he scores the ugly goals. Although the Canadiens are still going to be one of the smaller teams in the league, I don’t think they’re going to be pushed around and bullied like they have been in years past. I believe that last year’s playoff humiliation by the Senators was a big wake up call to the “Habitants”. We’ll see how tough they are on opening night against the Maple Leafs, a team that is quickly becoming a very physical opponent.
ESPN shows 7 seconds of Stanley Cup Parade after covering what Lebron James had for breakfast
He had eggs. They were sunny side up, and they were delicious,
Chicago thanks Bolland for Stanley Cup winning goal with an all expenses paid vacation to Toronto… for a whole season
Although it wasn’t exactly the firesale the Blackhawks were forced to go through after their Stanley Cup win in 2010, this was as close second.
In 2010, the Blackhawks were forced to let go many of the key components in the Stanley Cup victory due to salary cap restraints, and they were not exactly the same team at the beginning of the next season. Only days after scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal, Bolland was traded to the Maple Leafs. I’m sure Bolland is happy to be joining his hometown team, which is in the middle of becoming a semi-decent contender. However, I find this a strange way to show your thanks to a player who had played an important energy role for the team, during both the regular and post season.
Alfredsson leaves Ottawa, signs with
Swedish Elite League Detroit Red Wings
It is going to be extremely odd to see Alfredsson in anything but a Senators jersey. Many people think that Alfredsson should have stayed an retired as a Senator, however I don’t think he owes the team anything. He has fulfilled his contractual obligations, and the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement for a new contract. He signed a good deal with the Red Wings, who are quickly becoming the practice squad for the Swedish Olympic Team. Alfie has always been one of the classiest guys in the league, and I don’t think anyone deserves to look down on him for signing with a different team. He gave the Senators 110% while he was there, and that’s all you can ask for from a player, nothing more.
Florida does absolutely nothing, prepares for next year’s first overall draft pick
Last year, Columbus were at the bottom of every hockey joke and every expert’s season predictions. The Florida Panthers are the new Blue Jackets. They did nothing in this year’s off season, besides attend the draft. They’re “big signing” in the off season? Scott Gomez. I’m fairly confident that Florida’s management has accepted that they have to rebuild. I’m just not sure that they know they still have to play all 82 games this season to qualify for the draft.
Vigneault and Tortorella star in special episode of “Trading Places”, but plot twist is they never switch back
I found this story to be particularly amusing. I’ve never seen a literal coach switch, and they might as well have simply written it up as a trade instead of separate hirings and firings. I do think that both coaches are going to excel in their new cities. They’re both proven coaches who know how to string together wins. Torts coached his team to a Stanley Cup Championship, and Vigneault was one win away from winning his own. I think Tortorella is going to give the Canucks the kick in the behind they need, and make sure they become a defense-first, fight for the win kind of team. Although incredibly talented, their superstars were easily pushed off their game in the past. Tortorella is going to make sure this team doesn’t get bossed around, which is what they need.
As for Vigneault, I think he’s just happy to be coaching a team that has a clear number one goalie!
Alright, I’m going to start by saying that I wrote these predictions before the playoffs began, but I never got around to posting them on the blog. I’m telling the truth! You’ll know because a couple of my predictions seem a little silly after the first few nights of games *cough* LA *cough*. Anyways, here we go:
1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Islanders
This is one of the easier picks in my opinion. It is difficult to argue that Pittsburgh is not the best team in the East. They have a solid goaltender, a quick defensive group, and one of the most skilled groups of forwards in the league. Even before picking up Iginla and Morrow (players who will really help a long playoff run, in my opinion), this team was still one of the best in the East. The islanders played amazing hockey to make it into the playoffs, however I think the penguins are just too powerful for the Islanders to deal with. If the Penguins shut down Tavares, the Islanders don’t have much else to answer with.
Prediction: Penguins in 5
Montreal Canadiens vs Ottawa Senators
Unlike the first prediction, this one was one of the more difficult picks. Ottawa and Montreal are very similar teams. They both have young, superstar defensemen (Karlsson and Subban), and two of the best goalies in the league, even with Price’s recent struggles. Scoring is divided through at least three lines, with neither team have a “Superstar” forward, especially with Spezza being sidelined. In my opinion, this series will come down to which goaltender plays the best. This series will probably come down to one goal, much like the Boston-Montreal series in the 2011 playoffs. Anderson has the upper hand at this point, but if Price can play the way everyone knows he can, this series can easily go to either team.
Prediction: Senators in 7
Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers
This is another tough one. The Rangers have had their struggles throughout their year, with many of their key forwards under-performing for much of the season. Lundqvist was good, but not nearly as great as the Vezina-winning goaltender from last year. Rick Nash seems to have found his stride at the end of the year, but Brad Richards still has yet to find his rhythm Many are hoping he’ll excel in the playoffs to make up for his below-average regular season. Washington looked as though they would miss the playoffs altogether, until their captain Ovechkin took his game to an unworldly level, helping his team steamroll their way to third in the Eastern conference. If Ovechkin can keep his game elevated to where it was right up until the end of the season, they Capitals are going to be difficult to contain. Braden Holtby also has to be solid, but he proved last post-season that he can steal a few games for his team.
Prediction: Capitals in 7
Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Many people are putting a lot of focus on the Kessel/Seguin story. In my opinion, that topic has been gotten waaaaaaaay too much air time in the last couple of years. I don’t really remember the last time a traded players (or traded player and the drafted player from that trade) have been compared for so long. These teams are much more than just those two players, so that’s what I’m going to talk about. Toronto have toughened up their team this year, and a few times they flexed their muscle to help tilt a game in their favour (just ask the Habs in the first few games they played). The leafs are talented, but they are still very young. The entire team has only 12 games more playoff experience that Boston’s Jaromir Jagr. Reimer has been good throughout the year, but the playoffs are a different animal, something he has never experienced before. The Bruins, on the other hands, are still made up of most of the parts from the Stanley Cup-winning team of two years ago. They are extremely deep, and can roll 4 lines throughout the entire game. Both Tuuka Rask and Anton Khudobin have been very good throughout the year, and their defense is as solid as ever. I think that the Leafs are going to have a tough time dealing with a very solid Bruins team.
Prediction: Bruins in 5
Chicago Blackhawks vs Minnesota Wild
Let’s face it: Chicago is the team to beat. They were the best team in the league by quite a large margin, and they don’t look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon. Both of their goalies have been incredible, all four lines have been contributing offensively, and their defense is tough and stingy. They best forwards (Toews, Kane, Hossa and Sharp) have been their best players. This is a complete team, and they’re going to be tough to beat. The Wild made two massive additions over the summer with Suter and Parise, but I feel that the team is simply missing two or three key players to be a contender. Until then, they’re in for a wild ride with the Blackhawks.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 5
Anaheim Ducks vs Detroit Red Wings
This is going to be a great series to watch. The ducks have exceeded all expectations this season, and they were consistent all season, whereas many people though they might fizzle out towards the end of the season. They have played with great energy and determination, taking many teams by surprise. They are blessed with four or five superstars, and they have been contributing a lot this season. On the other hand, the Red Wings only just crept into the playoffs. This is a team that is used to being an elite team in the West, and I don’t think they enjoyed having to fight for one of the last spots of the playoffs. The Red Wings feel like they have something to prove, and I’m sure they want to bring Anaheim’s stellar season to an end very quickly. Both of these teams are going to battle hard, and I think it’s going to go all the way.
Prediction: Anaheim in 7
Vancouver Canucks vs San Jose Sharks
I think it’s taken a while for Vancouver to get over losing in the Stanley Cup Finals two seasons ago. This year, they want to hush all the critics, especially after being eliminated last year in embarrassing style. The Canucks are going to want to make an example of the Sharks, but they are missing one of their best goalies: Corey Schneider. Luongo is still a great goalie, and there is every possibility that he can help the Canucks win the series. The Sharks are a very talented team, especially with their top two forward lines. This team can easily score 4 or 5 goals a game, but they are a little vulnerably defensively. Niemi will have to be outstanding for the Sharks to win this series, because the Canucks have 4 deep lines that can all contribute on the score sheet.
Prediction: Canucks in 7
St. Louis Blues vs Los Angeles Kings
I’m going to admit something on this pick. Have you ever taken a multiple choice test, and gotten 2 or 3 questions in a row with the same letter answer? You feel like you’ve made a mistake, and almost try to make the next question be a different answer. Well, that’s kinda what I did on this pick. For the first three Western Conference picks, I went with the higher seed. I didn’t like the idea of picking seeds 1-4. And to be fair, this series is going to be that close. You could basically flip a coin on this one. Is Quick going to take his game to the next level like he did last post-season? Or will Elliott play the way he did last season, putting up some of the best statistics in NHL history? I feel that both teams are pretty even from top to bottom. They both have some great players, and both teams can be really stingy when it comes to goals against. Even though there might not be a lot of goals, I think this series is going to be very entertaining.
Prediction: Kings in 7
What would your picks be? Do you think there is anything I overlooked? Feel free to comment with you picks, or who you think is going to really step it up this post season!
Earlier this week, I wrote about agitators and enforcers over the last 40 years, and the changes in their productivity (HERE is the link to that post). The statistics showed that players are almost half as productive as they used to be 30 years ago, and they are also taking fewer penalties. I found these results very interesting, and I had a few theories as to what has changed, although I had no proof to back them up.
What could account for the transition in statistics we have seen over the last 40 years? I decided to get in touch with someone who has first-hand experience in the field, Montreal Canadiens’ former tough guy Chris ‘Knuckles’ Nilan. Chris is a former Stanley Cup champion (in the 1985-1986 season), and is one of only 9 players to crack the 3000 PIM milestone, with a total of 3034 penalty minutes. He showed up in my research 6 times, topping the league in PIM in the 83-84 and 84-85 seasons. If anyone knows about high penalty-minute players and their roles on the team, it’s Chris.
I asked him about the clear changes in the statistics over the last 40 years, and what has changed. “Well, I think that the rule changes that the league has made over the years has had an impact on the way tough guys can play the game. They have made rule changes to tone down fighting, such as the instigator rule, because they want to discourage the staged fights. Taking out the red line also sped the game up. There are rule changes to make the game faster, and that makes it difficult for the tough guys to keep up.” He also pointed out that there has been a change in the way the game is played. “In today’s NHL, to be competitive you need to have 4 functional lines. You can’t have a guy who sits on the bench, and only goes out and fights. It’s difficult to win when you have players who you can’t put on the ice for 10-15 minutes.”
He also touched on the fact that players who can both fight and play are rare. “There’s players like Neil, Clarkson, Lucic, Prust. They can all fight, but they can also score. Back in the day, teams liked to have three or four tough guys on their team. In Boston, they usually had about five, and they still do. They have Lucic, Chara, McQuaid. These are all guys that can fight and play at the same time. You’re lucky if you have players like that. It means that they can react to what happens on the ice at any time. Before, you had to wait until the next shift to put your goon out. These days if Lucic is on the ice, he can respond if a player on the other team crosses the line.”
I asked Chris if, as an enforcer, he felt that his role was to simply bring energy and defend his teammates, or if there was still an emphasis on producing offensively. “Well, first and foremost, I was a hockey player. I had a role on the team. I knew my role, I knew how to do my role, and I liked my role. As an example, when I played with Guy Carbonneau and Bob Gainey, we were always put up against the other team’s first line. We had a defensive role, which was to shut down their best players. But when you could help the team offensively, I did. And I was effective for the team offensively. I scored 21 goals (In the 84-85 season) and 19 goals (in the 85-86 season), so I also helped the team when I could.
I then asked Chris what he thinks the future holds for the enforcer role. “To be honest, I don’t know, I can’t predict the future. But I don’t see them banning fighting anytime in the near future, I think they would have a hard time justifying that. I think we might start seeing less and less emphasis on the role of enforcer. Unless they change the rules again, I don’t see it going back to the way it was in the 80s. “
“The NHL doesn’t like showing fighting on their networks or in the highlights. It makes them look violent. No other sport has fighting like that, except for boxing. Showing fights also bring up the debates about fighting in the NHL.”
“It also seems like these days, guys are dropping the gloves at all the wrong times. Every time a guy does a clean hit, they have to defend themselves. It’s almost as if teams are on edge, and that they’re too eager to drop the gloves, even after a clean hit. On the other hand, players don’t always go after another team’s player after a cheap shot. When I was playing, if a guy gave a cheap shot, he was damn sure he’d pay for it. And in those days, we didn’t see the types of concussion problems we have in the current NHL. It might be the speed of the game, but how fast has it really sped up? Maybe it’s because guys aren’t afraid of retaliation after cheap shots. They can get away with it without having to pay the price.”
I just want to thank Chris Nilan for doing this. I think it’s worth sharing how I got the chance for this interview. I emailed the information section of his website, asking for his opinion on my research. I suggested an email or I could meet him in the coming weeks. The next morning I check my phone, and I see that there is a voicemail. The voicemail was from Nilan himself, saying that he wanted to talk about the article, and to call him back. He then gave me a ten-minute interview, answering any questions I had. He had no obligation to help me, and he took time out of his day to help an amateur blogger with an article. He is an incredibly nice man, and I really appreciate the time he took to help me. I just thought you should know how nice of a guy ‘Knuckles’ is. He is the kind of guy who’s heart is as big as his fists.
GALLAGHER SCORES SHOOTOUT WINNER, RASK TRIES TO SHOW HIS FRUSTRATION AND FAILS
Tuuka Rask of the Boston Bruins has a history of post-shootout meltdowns (and by a history, I mean two incidents). When Brandon Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens scores the shootout winner against Rask, he tried to show his frustration, and failed. It’s right at the end of the video, so be patient.
Now this isn’t nearly as funny as his meltdown in the AHL a couple of years ago (link HERE), but it’s still a good one. Hockey players will tell you that goalies are a special breed. They’re usually the quiet one in the corner with the strange pre-game rituals. So when they get angry, they usually show it in a strange (and often hilarious) manner. I’m allowed to say that, cause I’m a goalie (but don’t tell my girlfriend that we’re weird, she doesn’t know yet!). I think that broadcast companies should have a camera for each goalie, just to capture their meltdowns. 99% of the footage would be useless, but that 1% of solid gold would be totally worth it.
KASPARS DAUGAVINS SHOWS GUTS IN HIS SHOOTOUT ATTEMPT AGAINST TUUKA RASK
If you ask hockey fans about the shootout, it’s pretty well divided as to whether it’s exciting or not. A lot of people think that it’s a crappy way to win a hockey game, while others think it’s a really exciting way for the team’s to decide a winner. In my opinion, what makes it exciting for me is when people try different moves or tricks to score. Kaspars Daugavins of the Ottawa Senators, tried something new against Tuuka Rask of the Boston Bruins.
Daugavins has been highly criticized for this shooutout attempt in the hockey world. A lot of people are saying that it’s making a mockery of the shootout, and that it’s ridiculous and cocky for him to try it. I disagree. I thought it was highly entertaining, and it took guts for him to try that in an actual shootout. This isn’t just a trick he decided to try out, he actually works on it a lot in practice. And as you can see, Rask has to come over and make a very difficult, acrobatic save. If he had scored, we wouldn’t be talking about whether it was stupid or not.
Just a side note, Rask and Daugavins are now teammates, with the Bruins picking up Daugavins off waivers earlier this month. My theory is the Bruins picked him up just so his new teammates could make fun of him even more for the shootout attempt!
CROSBY BREAKS JAW, PENGUINS LOSE TWO IN A ROW
While playing against the New York Islanders, Sidney Crosby took a puck to the face, breaking his jaw. The puck was shot by Brooks Orpik, but it took a deflection and went right at Crosby’s jaw. This is bad news for the Penguins. They won that game, making it their 15th win in a row, but the next two games without Crosby, they lost badly. First it was a 4-1 loss to Buffalo, before a 6-1 thrashing by the New York Rangers. It’s a little ironic, because everyone was ready to give the Penguins the Cup after acquiring Brendan Morrow and Jarome Iginla before the trade deadline. Since picking up both players, they’ve snapped their winning streak and are suddenly having trouble scoring. They’re still a team to be reckoned with, and I wouldn’t want to face them in the playoffs. When Crosby gets back, it will be interesting to watch this team at full capacity. Hopefully none of their other stars fall before that.