The Rangers and Islanders return from the Christmas recess in an hour. The Blueshirts host the Hurricanes looking to snap a three-game skid. They've dropped four of their last five on Garden ice.
The Islanders are a couple of points behind the Rangers with two at hand and host the Maple Leafs. This should be sort of special as former Islander Jason Blake returns for the 7:30 ET start due to TSN. Figure a video tribute for the gritty wing who's battling Leukemia.
As for our poll, it's hard to fathom that Zach Parise has eight of the nine votes. Sure, he's good but he is up against pretty stiff competition. Zach's a very good player but he's not having a better season than Mike Richards. And what's more. Richards is a guy who can play any situation- particularly dangerous shorthanded and will drop the gloves. Will we ever see Parise do that? That remains to be seen. It should be a fun debate for the future as to which young emerging forward you'd rather have.
What's even more odd is that Sidney Crosby has no votes. Granted, this is a BONY blog but come on people. You'd have to be oblivious not to realize the rating Hart winner's impact. The Pens have been a weird team all 2007-08 yet find themselves five points behind the division-leading Devils because Sid the Kid (16-32-48) is once again carrying his inferior team.
I would've expected such a poll to be a little more balanced. Heck. All five guys are having good seasons leading their respective teams. Take Scott Gomez away from the Rangers and they'd be plain offensive. Ditto Rick DiPietro on the league's lowest scoring team. He might not get the press which Martin Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist receive but let's be honest here. The Islanders aren't a great defensive team while the other elite netminders have better teams in front of them who play eerily similar boring styles to be effective.
It's very difficult to narrow it down to one player per team but we had no choice. You easily could put Marty and Henrik in. They'll both most likely be nominated for the Vezina with Vancouver's Roberto Luongo.
Now to a couple of news items around the league:
1.The Red Wings have given top defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom a two-year extension worth $15 million through 2009-10. This is a no brainer as the league's top blueliner continues to defy logic. At age 37, the five-time Norris winner shows no signs of slowing down. The Swede ranks second among defensemen with 32 points and his 29 assists are tied with Stars' defenseman Sergei Zubov.
With 900 career points in 15 seasons, Lidstrom is the highest scoring Red Wing defenseman. Amazingly, he was selected by them in the third round back in 1989.
"Nick has been the best defenseman in the world for several years," Detroit GM Ken Holland noted to the Associated Press earlier today. "He's a great captain and role model who does everything right, both on and off the ice."
Just how great is he? In 1,212 career games, he's totaled 205 goals and 695 helpers for 900 points along with a gaudy +360 rating including +22 this season.
The man is so consistent and can work with almost anyone on the blueline. He's been there for all three Stanley Cups and also taken home a Conn Smythe. We're talking about one of the greatest defensemen to ever play. From the beginning of his career through, Lidstrom has quietly gone about his business dominating on the blueline since his rookie season in 1991-92.
Congrats to the career Red Wing on a deserving Christmas gift.
2.The Caps dropped the "interim" label on new coach Bruce Boudreau. Since he was promoted from AHL affiliate Hershey taking over for Glen Hanlon, the Capitals have posted a respectable 7-5-3. That's a solid improvement from the 6-14-1 mark they had when Hanlon was axed.
Though their 13-19-4 overall record still leaves them last in the conference, they have gotten more offense increasing from 2.2 goals/game to 3.0 GF/gm.
This seems like the right move going forward.
Enjoy the games tonight. We'll be sure to have some updates later.