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Preview: Chris Yarbrough's Taking One For The Team

Chris Yarbrough's Taking One For The Team

Updated: 2018-03-05T20:06:23.882-05:00


Thank You Igloo


It's not quite time to say goodbye, but we all are anyway. I've never physically been inside the Igloo before, but that doesn't mean I've never been there.

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And Another Piece Of My Youth Dies...


(image) A hearty farewell to Joe Sakic. Probably my favorite non-Penguin ever. Hockey won't be the same without him.

Here's a little something extra to remember Joe by:
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In Stores Today...


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CBC Comes Through One Last Time


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Playoff recap coming soon...

Never Doubted For A Second



There's A Storm A Brewin'


(image) H/T to Puck Daddy via Pensblog

As an aside, I am starting to feel really good about tomorrow night...

Money In The Bank


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2009 Conference Finals Predictions


A day late again, and I am feeling not so good about my Western Conference pick after watching yesterday's game, but in the spirit of honesty...

Eastern Conference
  • (4) Pittsburgh over (6) Carolina in 5
Western Conference
  • (2) Detroit over (4) Chicago in 7

Take Notes VS


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2009 Second Round Predictions


Okay, I am sort of a day late with these... so sue me! Here are my picks for the second round:

Eastern Conference
  • (6)Carolina over (1)Boston in 7
  • (4)Pittsburgh over (2)Washington in 6
Western Conference
  • (8)Anaheim over (2)Detroit in 6
  • (3)Vancouver over (4) Chicago in 7

2009 First Round Predictions


Back from the dead... and just in time to deliver my picks for the first round of the 2009 playoffs (which get underway tonight on Vs. and TSN for those so inclined).

Eastern Conference
  • (1)Boston over (8)Montreal in 7
  • (7)Rangers over (2)Washington in 6
  • (6)Carolina over (3)New Jersey in 6
  • (4)Pittsburgh over (5)Philadelphia in 6
Western Conference
  • (8)Anaheim over (1) San Jose in 7
  • (2)Detroit over (7)Columbus in 5
  • (6)St. Louis over (3)Vancouver in 7
  • (5)Calgary over (4)Chicago in 6
Alrighty then... let's drop the puck!

More Than Just Two Points


Going into last night's showdown between the Penguins and the Red Wings I had pretty easily convinced myself that it was, despite all the hype surrounding the game, 1 out of 82 games the Penguins will play this season and nothing more. I'm not one of those people who thinks beating a team in the regular season after they beat you in the playoffs the season before is any kind of revenge, so that angle was lost on me. It was 2 points just like any other game.

Somewhere in the third period last night that all changed. The Penguins came back from 5-2 and 6-4 defeceits in the third period on the road against one of the best teams in the NHL. That counts for a lot more than just two points. This will be one of those moments that this team can look back on for the rest of the season and remember that even when they are down, they are never out of a game. Even under some of the worst possible circumstances.

Here are my thoughts on the game:
  • Have to start with Jordan Staal. The way he played in the last 10 minutes of the third and OT was a dominant a performance as you will ever see from any player. Jordan made himself a lot of money this offseason with this game. And it was not lost on me that #11 had the game of his life on 11/11 and set up the OT winner with 1:11 remaining.
  • Red Wings fans are a joke. Nice of them to show up in time for the second period.
  • Letang and Goligoski both looked really good to me. They did not have mistake free games, but they both looked really poised down the stretch.
  • I know he had 2 assists, but really... did Marian Hossa even play last night?
  • Mike Zigomanis may be the pick-up of the year. His dominance on face-offs can not be overhyped as it is a big boost for the Pens both in the defensive zone and on the power play. If he doesn't win that offensive zone draw at the end of the third I'm writing about a 6-5 Detroit win right now.
  • Red Wings fans are a joke. This game was so big and such a statement while they were winning, but as soon as Fedo sent them packing in OT it was just another regular home game against some random non-conference team.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury was much better than the numbers tell. The Hudler goal was the only one he had any chance of stopping. The bottom line is that right now if MAF can see it he is going to stop it 99% of the time.
  • Red Wings fans are a joke. They love to go on and on about how good Datsyuk and Zetterberg are defensively and all the turnovers they create and then turnaround and dismiss Staal picking Datsyuk's pocket in overtime as lucky or a fluke. Just watch Zetterberg flop around on the ice during the Pens' 5-on-3 goal and then explain to me how great he is defensively.
  • I have never been happier watching one of my fantasy goalies give up 7 goals.
  • Hearing Hossa getting booed on his "home" ice was priceless. Penguin fans definitely had the edge at "The Joe" last night.
  • Red Wings fans are a joke.
And this post would not be complete without a highlight package:

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Sympathy For The Devil


Miroslav Satan scored a highlight reel goal against Edmonton last night that was very similar to one scored by Rick Nash last season. The only problem is that while the hockey world was abuzz after the Nash goal, I have yet to here a peep about Satan's beauty. Coincidence? Anti-Penguin bias? Anti-Euro bias? People forgetting that there are players on the Pens not named Crosby, Malkin, or Staal? Whatever the cause, sit back and enjoy this beauty.

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That Satan signing is looking pretty good right about now. As always, in sHERO we trust.

Error Jordan?


Every season in recent years for the Pittsburgh Penguins it seems like there is some storyline bubbling just under the surface and 2008-09 is no different as all eyes seemed to be focused on 20-year old Jordan Staal. Many Pens fans, and I am guessing people within the organization as well, are wondering just what the Penguins really have in Staal. Jordan set the bar (too?) high in his rookie campaign scoring 29 goals and 42 points in 2006-07. Last season Staal's totals sagged to a modest 12 goals and 28 points. As Jordan enters the final year of his entry level contract it remains to be seen if he can rediscover his scoring touch or if he continues to plug along as a third line center.I said as early as the start of last season that it could be a while before Jordan approached 29 goals in a season again. His rookie season just felt a little too good to be true to me. It was like almost everything he threw at the net just found a way in. Having said that, I do think he can produce more offensively than he did last season or so far this season.Offense is just one facet to Staal's game however. While centering the Penguins third line for almost all of last season Staal found himself serving as one of the key pieces to the Penguins defensive puzzle. Jordan thrived in this role, even if his stats may have said otherwise, and was a key contributor in Pittsburgh's trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.Staal's defensive contributions can not be taken lightly, but as many NHL media outlets continue to suggest that Staal should command an annual salary around $4.5-$5 million one has to wonder if that is enough. The Penguins are flirting with the salary cap and can ill afford to pay anywhere near those dollar amounts for a third line center. At this point I would argue that Max Talbot, another Penguin headed for free agency, is more valuable to the Pens and could give them everything Staal does at a much more affordable price. If you came to me right now and said the Penguins can only keep Talbot or Staal heading into next season I would start asking who the Pens were planning to trade Staal too.That brings us to the second part of this discussion... did the Penguins make the right move in drafting Jordan Staal? For the sake of simplicity I will only consider the eight players taken after Staal in 2006 who rounded out the top 10 picks. Here are some of the guys the Pens could have nabbed instead of Staal:Jonathan Toews - Toews does not even have a full season worth of NHL experience, but he has already been named the Captain of the Blackhawks and is (along with Patrick Kane) the face of the franchise. For the record, Toews has one fewer goal than Staal so far this season... zero.Nicklas Backstrom - Another player with a grand total of zero goals so far this season, Backstrom had an outstanding rookie season with 69 points in 82 games, yet he is probably best known for a goal he scored for the opposition. Very much a playmaker, Backstrom wouldn't add anything that the Pens don't already have.Phil Kessel - Kessel has had a turbulent start to his pro career, but he is quietly developing into a top notch goal scorer. He only has 37 goals in 164 career games, but he also has 7 goals already this season in just 12 games. Kessel was also strong for the Bruins in the playoffs last April.Derick Brassard - Brassard has just 28 NHL contests to his name, but he has 11 points through Columbus' first 11 games this season and is the team leader in scoring. He was also just named the Rookie of the Month in the NHL for October. Brassard may yet prove to be the jewel of the 2006 draft.Kyle Okposo - Okposo is another player just getting his feet wet in the NHL, but it has been so far so go[...]

A Cold Day In Hell?


(image) TSN is reporting that New Jersey Devils netminder Martin Brodeur will be out for the next three to four months after having surgery to repair a torn bicep tendon in his elbow. This is a huge blow for the Devils who were already starting to come back down to Earth after a hot start in the Eastern Conference. Could this pave the way for a Nikolai Khabibulin to New Jersey trade, or are the Devils going to simply write off this season?

I really do not see a way for the Devils to keep pace in the Atlantic Division without making a move to shore up their goaltending. Kevin Weekes is a decent backup, but he is simple not good enough to carry this Devils team for the next three or four months.

This injury will also put a hold on Brodeur's assault on the NHL record book as he was looking to become the NHL career leader in wins and shutouts this season. Martin is currenly seven wins behind all-time leader Patrick Roy.

October 2008 NHL Team Of The Month


It has been a while, but I am back and here with the first Team of the Month for the 2008-09 NHL season. The first month of the season is in the books and it is time to name the best players at each position in the NHL for October.
  • Left Wing: Alexander Semin - Alexander Ovechkin has been nearly invisible during the first month of the season, but the Caps have survived in large part thanks to the scoring of Alexander Semin. Semin has paced the Caps with eight goals and eight assists through nine games and has given Washington fans cause to wonder just who their top left winger is.
  • Center: Brandon Dubinsky - The Rangers were the NHL's best team in October and Brandon Dubinsky was a big reason why. His 12 points are not leading the league, but his three game-winners do. If the Rangers can continue to get this kind of production from Dubinsky while getting their higher profile players going they could be real tough to catch in the East.
  • Right Wing: Marian Hossa - The big prize of the free agent market has fit right in with his new club, as his six goals and nine assists would attest. After getting off to a bit of a slow start Hossa may just be the hottest player in the NHL right now. I can sense NHL GMs getting their offers ready for next July already.
  • Defense: Filip Kuba - Not much was made of Kuba moving to Ottawa in a trade with Tampa Bay, but Kuba has been huge for the Sens as his 11 points (all assists) are tops among defenders in the NHL. Kuba will undoubtedly come back to earth at some point, but he is more than capable of continuing to shine on the point of the Senator's power play and helping them stay in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference.
  • Defense: Shea Weber - Weber has had a great start for Nashville as his four goals and 11 points are both tied for the lead among defenders. Weber also has an excellent plus/minus rating of +5. The Predators could have a tough time staying afloat in the competitive Western Conference, but continued excellence from Weber will be a big boost for them.
  • Goalie: Henrik Lundqvist - As previously stated, the Rangers were the toast of the NHL through the first month and one of the biggest keys to that has been Lundqvist. He has yet to record a shutout after leading the NHL in that category last season, but he is pacing the league in a much more important stat... wins. King Henrik has eight wins to go along with his 1.99 GAA and .928 save percentage. Lundqvist was my pick to win the Vezina this season and so far that pick is looking on target.



(image) Better luck next time Flyers.

That picture pretty much says it all from last night's game between the Pens and Flyers. After a ho-hum 1st period (with the exception of Godard beating down Riley Cote) the Pens carried the play for most of the rest of the game. Big props to Brooks Orpik for hitting a wide open Pascal Dupuis in OT and not passing to the equally open Sidney Crosby.

Also, VS. is already in mid-season form... their announcers were pretty unbearable last night. At least they have finally learned about the invention called the instant replay. Baby steps...

It's A Great Day For Hockey!


The Penguins have unveiled their new marketing campaign for this season and they could not have made a better choice:
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Anything that brings up memories of "Badger" Bob gets an A+ in my book!

Anyone Feel A Draft?


Before things really kick into gear with the NHL season I thought I would take a moment to reflect on my two fantasy hockey drafts. I am in one of Sean's Going Five Hole head-to-head leagues as well as my own sponsored TOFTT roto league. Two very different leagues and two very different draft experiences as you will see. Picks are listed by round with overall selection place in parenthesis.

Team: Black n' Blue Line (GFH league)
  1. (3) Jarome Iginla
  2. (22) Sergei Gonchar
  3. (27) Chris Osgood
  4. (46) Brenden Morrow
  5. (51) Johan Franzen
  6. (70) Miroslav Satan
  7. (75) Cam Ward
  8. (94) Ilya Bryzgalov
  9. (99) Teemu Selanne
  10. (118) Jordan Staal
  11. (123) Duncan Keith
  12. (142) Braydon Coburn
  13. (147) Ryan Whitney
  14. (166) Michael Ryder
  15. (171) Joe Sakic
  16. (190) Robert Lang
  • Taking Iginla at #3 was pretty much a no-brainer for me. No offense Geno.
  • This draft was the night after Gonchar got hurt, which explains why I took him in the 2nd round.
  • My plan was to take either MAF or Henrik Lundqvist in the 2nd round, but they were both gone. MAF was the 6th player off the board.
  • Osgood, Franzen, Morrow, Satan, Staal, and Coburn should all be steady producers.
  • Teemu at 99 should be a steal. Why won't he score at least 40 goals this season?
  • I'm not looking forward to another season of Cam Ward, but I didn't have a lot of other options at that point.
  • If Ryder can regain his form under Claude Julien he is a great value pick, as is Sakic at 171.
  • I've already dropped Robert Lang to pick up Andy McDonald.
Team: TOFTT Again! (TOFTT league)
  1. (5) Dany Heatley
  2. (18) Dion Phaneuf
  3. (27) J.S. Giguere
  4. (40) Carey Price
  5. (49) Jason Pominville
  6. (62) Derek Roy
  7. (71) Mike Ribeiro
  8. (84) Brent Burns
  9. (93) Petr Sykora
  10. (106) Pascal Leclaire
  11. (115) Jordan Staal
  12. (128) Daniel Carcillo
  13. (137) Marek Zidlicky
  14. (150) Tomas Plekanec
  15. (159) Teemu Selanne
  16. (172) Sean Avery
  17. (181) Patrice Bergeron
  18. (194) Alex Goligoski
  • Heatley could be a beast this year. I could end up regretting not taking him in my other draft.
  • I could not be happier that "The Dion" fell to me at 18.
  • I am set between the pipes with Giguere and Price. Leclaire isn't a bad third option to have either.
  • If Buffalo makes the playoffs Roy and Pominville push me to an easy title here.
  • I will own the PIM column with Avery and Carcillo. And they can both provide some offense too.
  • Selanne at 159?!?! Somebody pinch me, I must be dreaming.
  • If Patrice Bergeron is back to 100% he could be a nice asset to trade down the road. Plekanec could fall into that category too.
So there are my teams. Initially I was pretty down on my GFH league team, but I am feeling more upbeat about it now. I could not be happier about my TOFTT team. I felt better at the end of that draft then I had at a draft in a long time. Probably since my fantasy football heyday. I would seriously be shocked if I don't win that league. Knock on wood...

The 08-09 NHL Prediction Experience


It is the first of October, and that means the start of the 2008-09 NHL regular season is just a few short days away. Like any respectable hockey blogger, I need to chime in with my predictions for the season to come, so without further ado...Pacific Division Champ: Dallas Stars - This is going to be a tight division as the Stars, Ducks, and Sharks are all built to win now. While I really like the Ducks' chances this season, I really like what is going on in Dallas and I think they will eek out a division title.Northwest Division Champ: Calgary Flames - This division is down right now. I think the Wild and Avalanche have regressed a bit, the Oilers are still a year or two away, and the Canucks just are not that good. That leaves Jarome Iginla and the Flames to come out on top. Iginla should get serious Hart consideration again this season.Central Division Champ: Detroit Red Wings - I hate picking them to win, but there is not another team in their division strong enough to challenge them this season. Maybe next year Blackhawks fans.Southeast Division Champ: Carolina Hurricanes - This was a tough one to call for me at first. After giving it some thought though I think Carolina comes out on top. I think the Capitals will regress a little bit under raised expectations and there just isn't enough defense/goaltending in Tampa for me to pick them. I think the Hurricanes will take advantage of being able to fly under the radar for a bit and claim the 3 seed in the East.Northeast Division Champ: Ottawa Senators - Everyone and their mother is picking the Canadiens to run wild over the rest of the Eastern Conference this season, but I just don't see it. For some reason I can not explain I think the Sens are going to make one more go of it before their Stanley Cup winning window officially closes for a couple years.Atlantic Division Champ: Philadelphia Flyers - The Flyers are getting their franchise back on track and look to benefit from some addition via subtraction thanks to Derian Hatcher's injury status. I think this will be the most competitive division in hockey (again) this year, and I see the Flyers ending up on top. I think the Rangers will get off to a bit of a slow start as all of their new faces start to gel, and I think the Penguins will hit too many bumps in the road to win the division. Between the Europe trip and their injuries on defense I think the Pens will be hampered enough that they will have to settle for the fourth or fifth seed in the East.Hart Trophy Winner (MVP): Sidney Crosby - You will get some argument over this, but I think Sid proved last Spring that he is the best player in the game today. I think the defeat in the Finals will drive Crosby to take his game to another level, something that I am sure is a scary thought for the rest of the NHL. I think the Penguins as a team will have their struggles this season, but I do not expect many for their captain.Vezina Trophy Winner (Top Goalie): Henrik Lundqvist - I think this will be the year King Henrik breaks through and takes his first Vezina. I expect the Devils to drop off enough to deal a blow to Brodeur's chances. Then again, if Marty can get this year's Devils squad back to the post-season he may be deserving of some more hardware. Hopefully this is the year Marc-Andre Fleury gets his name into the Vezina discussion.Norris Trophy Winner (Top Defender): Dion Phaneuf - Much like Lundqvist with the Vezina, I think this will be the year Phaneuf breaks Nicklas Lidstrom's hold on the Norris trophy and starts a run of his own. P[...]

NHL 09 Review


It is finally time for my review of NHL 09. It has taken me much longer than anticipated to write this, but that is because NHL 09 is that hard to put down. I could easily have written this post on any of the last few nights. The problem is that every minute spent at my keyboard would be one less spent on the virtual ice. That last sentence probably tells you everything you need to know about NHL 09.Last year's NHL 08 was simply an achievement in sports video games and easily the best game of fake hockey since the glory days of the NHL franchise on the Sega Genesis. The good news for fans this season is that not a whole lot has changed on the ice this year. The couple team-play games I have played went a lot like last year, but with better opposition AI. So if I have only played a "couple" of team games, what is all this talk about me playing so much?The big addition in NHL 09 is the addition of the Be A Player (BAP) mode. Early on I was very skeptical about BAP. Admittedly this was mainly because I had tried it out in FIFA 08 and did not enjoy it much. BAP mode translates much better to NHL though, and from the first time I stepped into Sidney Crosby's skates in the demo I was hooked.The real meat of BAP mode is to create yourself and then embark on your pro hockey career. You get to choose which AHL team you start out with and then begin your quest to make it to the NHL. I made myself as a playmaking center and as such decided to join up with the Minnesota Wild's affiliate the Houston Aeros. Obviously I would prefer to be on the Penguins, but I think cracking that lineup as a young center could take a while. Playing as a single player in a hockey game is so much fun you wonder why it took this long to happen. Even sitting on the bench between shifts is bearable as you regain your strength quite quickly and can then manually call for a line change to get back on the ice. The only real drawback is that by starting out on the third line of an AHL team you don't exactly have great talent around you. That was especially tough as a playmaker.I worked around my teammates' shortcomings though and managed to work my way all the way up to the first line on the Aeros. Then last night, after my 16th game with the Aeros, I got word from the GM that I had been called up by the Wild and would be playing in their next game. This news was tempered by the fact that the Wild also traded for Brendan Morrison, which put another playmaking center between me and first line duty. I played my first game with Minnesota and there was a noticeable step up in difficulty at the NHL level, which was a pleasant surprise. After lighting up the AHL for 16 games I was shut out in my NHL debut against Phoenix. It was still a blast though. BAP is the best thing to happen to hockey video games since making Gretzky's head bleed.Glove save, and a beauty!To compliment BAP online, EA has introduced the EASHL (EA Sports Hockey League). This is really what convinced me to buy NHL 09 (and sign up for XBox LIVE as well). EASHL basically allows you to form a team of up to 50 players and then meet up online to take on other teams. You can have anywhere from 3 to 6 players per team in a game and you pick your position and stick to it for the entire game. As someone who loves the team part of hockey this is heaven to me. I have been fortunate enough to get on an awesome team with likeminded people who know the game and play it the "right way". Admittedly there have been some kinks in the system on EA's [...]



Don't look now, but the boys are back and their gloves are golder than ever! Head over to Faceoff Factor for some top shelf training camp coverage.

(image) Just to give you an idea of where things are currently at with me... I am totally engrossed in NHL 09 and The Originals in particular. That said, I will have an NHL 09 review up here some time this week and then next week I will get into season prediction mode.

In other exciting news, I got my Pens/Stars tickets yesterday! March 1st can't get here fast enough.

The Hits Keep Coming


I have to say that arguably the best part of NHL 09 is the new hitting engine. It is so gratifying to lay out an opposition player with a big check that I have, from time to time, found myself running a little out of position to land a big hit. Especially on the forecheck. With that in mind, here are a couple of my big hits for your viewing pleasure. (object)




Goodbye World


So after much anticipation (and about four trips to Best Buy) NHL 09 is finally here, and more importantly in my possession. Among other things, this means that there probably won't be much content showing up here in the next few days.

I will at some point in the next week or two be posting a "full" review of the game here. I put quotes around full there because I will probably be playing the Be A Player mode exclusively. I played a few games offline last night and it is as fun and addictive as I had hoped. I also jumped online and played a couple games with my EASHL squad The Originals. It was a lot of fun and all the guys on my team who I have played with so far seem really cool. I also managed to snag the shootout winner in the second game I played in. The only problem is that there is some kind of bug in the online play currently so neither of my games were recorded either for myself or the team. Hopefully EA comes up with a fix for this soon, but in the meantime I think I found a workaround on the EA forums.

Until next time, I'll leave you with my first ever goal. The words "warhorse with hands of silk" spring to mind...(object)


No Running By The Pool!


It is update time! First I'll hit on fantasy hockey. Yahoo is back up and my league is open. I still have plenty of spots open currently so if you want to join up:
  • League ID: 5752
  • Password: LetsGoPens
Now, on to NHL 09. The response to me trying to start up my own EASHL squad was less than desired. Because of that I have scrapped my GM plan and have signed on with the EASHL squad The Originals. So if you are playing NHL 09 online and want to throw down, look for us.

While we're here, I guess I will give my thoughts on the NHL 09 demo. It is freaking awesome! I am loving Be A Pro way more than I thought I would. I tried it out in FIFA 08 and wasn't that impressed by it, but I think it translates way better to hockey than soccer. My one complaint with the demo is that you can't choose your position. It is not that bad since I will be playing as a center when NHL 09 launches, but I was looking forward to the chance to strap on the pads and give goaltending a go. I guess that will have to wait a few days...

Look at what I just found...