I would have loved nothing more than to have my introductory article be one of joyous news, rife with articles detailing how the lockout has finally come to an end. Sadly, I can do no such thing. At least, however, we can talk about hockey games that are actually being played.
With the second day of the Juniors completed, The big 3 teams of Canada, USA, and Russia all have wins under their belts. If you're like me, and you will be cheering for the USA, remember that if they make the podium at all, it will be a great victory for them. Of course, they always do seem to thrive in underdog situations, so I'm interested in seeing how they do.
The real competition, though, should be between Russia and Canada. The rivalry has always been great, and it seems that both sides are amped up and ready to go for their game against each other on Monday. In fact, it seems that there is a bit of smack talk going on between the two sides.
Nail Yakupov, one of the many number one picks the Oilers have had recently, had this to say about his upcoming game against the Canadians:
I understand that I will have to keep a cool head and ignore provocations. Especially against the Canadians. These guys play dirty. We got used to that, we played a few games in the North America, so our team is ready.
Sounds like it should be a good one. The game will be played Monday morning at 8:00 AM, if I'm reading the schedule correctly. If you're off work on the 31st, and you have the ability to watch it, I highly recommend it.
Also in today's links: A few more looks at the WJC, a recap of last night's Texas Stars game, Kari Lehtonen makes the Stars proud, and how can the NHL possibly make it up to it's fans?
- If you're not as interested in the teams in the WJC as much as the Stars prospects, Mike Heika gives you a breakdown of the three players to keep an eye on as the tournament. Brett Ritchie will probably draw the most attention, since he's been on an absolute tear this season. Oh yeah, and playing top minutes for the Canadian team always helps too. [Dallasnews.com]
- If you don't want to bother with paying attention to the tournament itself, and would rather go ahead and see how each team will place, all you have to do is read up on Todd Maternowski's final predicted standings. Although it's possible his opinion is being affected by his dislike for Ikea furniture. [Thursday Morning Cup Check]
- Not sure if you guys have heard, but there's currently a lockout going on. Unfortunately, just about everything that we know has already been discussed up to this point. The only update I have is that the two sides aren't meeting, and currently don't have any meetings scheduled. However, the NHLPA can decertify on Jan. 2nd, so we might see some fireworks after that. [NJ News]
- If you're so upset with this lockout that you could spit, you can always vent to PuckDaddy, who will offer you a pat on the shoulder, a tip of the hat, and an understanding nod. [PuckDaddy]
- LeBrun has some great advice on steps that the NHL can take in order to try and woo the fans back. A few of them are interesting and should be mandatory (Free GameCenter/CenterIce anyone?), but a couple of others are ridiculous. See if you can spot the idea that's the most infuriating to those of us who live in a southern market. [ESPN]
- Jamie Benn is the NHL's 3rd star of the week, scoring 2 goals and 4 assists in 3 games for Dallas. The Dallas Stars are also currently in 8th place in the conference with 40 points in 36 games. Wait, what? [ESPN]
- The Texas Stars lost to the OKC Barons last night with a score of 5-4. They had some issues staying out of the penalty box, and allowed the Barons to go 3 for 8 on the power play. It's hard to win when you're shorthanded for any length of time when you're playing the likes of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Despite the loss, they are currently in 5th place in the conference. [HundredDegreeHockey]
- Finally, PuckDaddy has compiled a list of the top 10 saves of 2012, and Kari has made us proud by nabbing the #1 spot. I bet if this season was under way, he could have had at least 3-5 of the top ten saves. And I say that as a completely impartial judgement, right? His video is below, but make sure to check out the other top 10 saves. They're all fantastic. [PuckDaddy]