Who knew I'd get bored with only two days off between games? Thanks to my NHL Center Ice package though, I've been checking out some the teams that are now icing former Canuck players who were supposed to have taken this team to the promised land and beyond. So, enough talk of Luongo, the Sedins and "Mr. 301" Naslund for now, let's take a look at how this early NHL season is treating:
At 3-1-1, Auldy is playing as we Vancouver fans likely guessed he would. He's a good goalie but, like Cloutier (who we'll get to shortly), was prone to mental hiccups, giant rebounds and the occasional boneheaded play that would make you punch a wall. Sadly, my first real view of Auld this season came last night as Semin and the Caps just abused him for four first period goals before he got yanked for Ed "shit he's still playing?" Belfour. Auld's poor game lowered his GAA to 3.10, or rather 24th in the league. So Auld is still doing his thing...almost unbeatable in Toronto last week and Swiss cheese this week.
Speaking of Swiss cheese, Cloutier has a new mask, a new team and the same coach down in the land of fake breasts and mudslides. Sadly for Cloutier, at least Auld has some semblance of a team in front of him; the Kings, rather, have Blake, rookie rockstar Kopitar, Visnovsky, Frolov...and purple uniforms. That can't bode well for a goalie like Dan who is known to implode with little to no warning. So far, Dan is 1-3-1 on the year with a GAA of 3.02 (that's 23rd in the league, right next to Auld. Aww, sweet irony). It's going to be a long year for the Kings (to speak nothing of the fact they are fighting for Cali bragging rights with the likes of the Sharks and Ducks) so Dan may want to start eyeing a backup career in his free time and, as a former inhabitant of LA, my suggestion would be porn. Danny Cloutier in "A Goalie and 5 Holes"? Great, I'm going to hell now...
Down in the desert, the 2-4-0 Phoenix Dogs are likely still smarting from a rather comical 9-2 blowout to the Red Wings last week. But Jovo has two goals and two assists and, shockingly, is +2 on the season with just 6 PIMs. I was willing to bet, before I looked, that he would have been -10 by now but maybe he's learning (or injured, you can never tell). Some really smart pundits out there thought Phoenix would be a dark horse to watch this year and they very well still could be, but it's been a rough start so far and they have two key injuries (Reinprecht & Ballard) already so whenever the perennial Jovocop injury comes around it'll only hamper them more.
Being one of the defensive rocks in front of Auld, Allen is currently tied for the most Panther PIM's (guess who he's tied with...c'mon, just guess), but his offense has been limited to a single assist and he's -3 early on. But hey, Salei, Bouwmeester, Mezei and Jackman are all suffering in the plus/minus category as well so Allen's keeping with the Panther defensive concept that Luongo was used to for years; namely "we have a goalie back there so quit worrying so much".
Oye...the Philly braintrust and local papers talked this guy up like he was a great first round pick (wait, he was a first rounder. Never mind) all summer. But $1.2 million is a bit steep for a guy with one assist and a whopping 21 PIM's (maybe it's that stat which led Clarke, despite trying to shake him loose on waivers, to keep him around should no team take him). The Flyers are tied for the worst team in the league right now and who knows what's going to happen night to night, so it's a safe assumption that Nolan may just miss his evenings manning the powerplay with Ohlund. Who knows.
The Penguins have a really fun team with Crosby and Malkin and, if someone is going to take a run at either star, they'll have to deal with our favor former superpest. Jarkko has one goal and one assist on the season and 10 PIM's so he's doing about what I'm sure the Pens expected of him. When watching the Devils/Pens game last night, during a strange moment of silence, Mike Emerick noted that Ruutu has many enemies around the league. And he wasn't even on the ice! See? That's why I miss Ruutu. Hilarious.
This entire summer was spent seeing where the hell Carter would end up and, in a shocker, he ended up in Columbus who, sadly, have far more depth at forward then the Canucks do. That's where the praise for Carter ends; Zherdev's return from the Siberian coal mines pushed the former Sedin linemate down to the third line and likely reduced icetime. Carter so far has a single goal and is -1 with four PIM's. And I don't care what he or the Sedins say, the three of them would be better off having another season together. I can't say I'm crushed to see Carter toiling on the Blue Jackets third line...he can have his millions and I'll take schadenfreude.
Last, but certainly not least, is big Bert or, as the media took the summer explaining again and again, "that guy who hit that other guy and seemed really moody ever since so he probably needs a fresh start in a state with lots of sun and the occasional CAT 5 hurricane". Bert’s had a great start with seven points (one goal, six assists) which is second best on the team. On the flip side, he's -4 so far (that's second worst) and tied with Allen for the most PIM's. Oddly, Bert also only has eight shots on net (the same as the vaunted sniper Salei does) so teams must be doing a great job of shutting him down. In last night's game Bertuzzi lost a battle for a puck the corner that allowed Matt Bradley to beat Belfour on the first shot he faced. So early reports would indicate Todd is still good ol’ #44.