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NHL-MID SEASON-THE GOOD-WEST

NHL- MID-SEASON-THE GOOD-WESTERN CONFERENCE

2017-18 POPSICLE BROTHERS REPORT- #9

By Gary Norris Gray, – BASN NEWSROOM- Staff Reporter

OAKLAND, CA.-Mr. McClean, Mr. Ingram, and Mr. Gray aka “The MIG Line” take the ice again as the NHL comes to its midway point of the season with some great surprises and new competitive teams.

The biggest surprise comes from the city that what happens there, stays there; the Golden Knights might change that theme. The Knights have uplifted the city after the horrible mass shooting at the start of the season. Americans have always rallied around sports and this is just another example. The Golden Knights could set the record for most victories by an expansion team with their outstanding 19-3-2 home record and 13-9-2 on the road.

The Golden Knights are doing this with a mix of veterans and rookies. They also have two goalies that are still upset with their former team.

THE VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS

Vegas and their Golden Knights are winning. The Knights have overcome the multiple injuries starting five different goaltenders. This month will be the first time starting goaltender  Marc-Andre Fleury and Goal Brother Malcolm Subban. They are both healthy and on the ice at the same time. Fleury wants to prove to his former team the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins that he is still an All Star Goaltender, while Malcolm also wants to show his former team Boston Bruin that they too made a terrible mistake letting him go west. Malcolm has played and won more games in Vegas then in Boston (4-years) and Subban only been three and half months with the Knights.

This expansion team is like no other because of the way the Vegas executives looked at the expansion draft last year. They can allow their young stars in the minors to play every day and grow, centers Cody Glass, and Nick Suzuki along with defenseman, Erik Brannstrom are examples of this. These first rounders in Portland (Western Hockey League) are playing well while the parent club battles for the Pacific Division Title. Most expansion clubs would have thrown these kids to the wolfs. Meaning they would have to either sink or swim playing with seasoned opponents.

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The Knights with Goal Brother Center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare from the Philadelphia Flyers has seven points and five goals. Bellemare and the Knights should make the playoffs this year but they will also be making NHL history with the most points by an expansion team. They will do this by beating the established hockey clubs  in the west, The Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Winnipeg Jets, and Nashville Predators.

The Vegas Golden Knights are the example of how to build an expansion team through careful drafting. The Knights could be a force in the west for many years to come if they continue picking talented players.

Forward William Karlsson continue the Knights surge with two goals over the Columbus Blue Jackets and a 5-2 Vegas victory Tuesday night as the Golden Knights win their 32nd game of the year.

THE WINNIPEG JETS

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The Winnipeg Jets are battling for first place with the Nashville Predators for the Central Division as they move two points ahead of the Preds with 5-4 overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Jets are on the West Coast-California trip this month and will be in Anaheim this weekend. Forward Blake Wheeler has hit his stride with 54 points and leads the club with 40 assist. The Jets are a scoring machine with forward Patrik Laine scoring 21 goals. Goal Brother defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is working overtime as he is logging in over 24 minutes a game this year bouncing opposing forwards off the boards and off the puck.

The Jets may have finally found a goaltender in Connor Hellebuyck with 27 victories and four shutouts. This might be the glue to put Winnipeg into the second and third rounds. The Jets also can count on the two headed monster with Goaltender Steve Mason from the Philadelphia Flyers if Hellebuyck fails. Mason has not played since January 9th due to concussion syndrome and might not get into the lineup until mid February because this is his second one of this season, the Jets will be very careful with Mason entering the Winnipeg nets.

THE SAN JOSE SHARKS

JOEL WARD

The San Jose Sharks finally have put it together in the Pacific Division after a very slow start. Currently they are in second place behind the upstart Vegas Golden Knights.

The Sharks are still trying to win their first Stanley Cup after winning the President’s Cup twice and losing in the Finals . The Men of Teal made a major move sending center Patrick Marleau to the Toronto Maple Leafs and letting young goalie Aaron Dell stand in net backing up stalwart Martin Jones. The Sharks might have an advantage when the playoffs arrive with two solid goaltenders and the playoff experience

Goal Brother Center Joel Ward guides the second line could be playing his last year want another shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup. This team could be putting the pieces together at the right moment.

The Sharks have the best combination of a good penalty kill unit and very skilled power play unit. The Sharks have shutdown many teams’ power play units and that has kept them in many games this year.

The big line of Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Tomass Hertl with center Joe Thornton have to step up to get the Sharks to the Finals.

San Jose will have to wait at least 4-6 weeks for Thornton to return to the ice as he had orthopedic surgery on his knee.

When defenseman Brent Burns hit the ice with center Joe Thornton it looks like Robin Hood and his men have come back to San Jose with their huge beards.

The Sharks are re-tooling on the fly with young center  Chris Tierney, forwards Melker Karlsson and Timo Meier. The Sharks will be challenging the Vegas Knights and fending off the Los Angeles Kings for the last few playoff spots.

THE NASHVILLE PREDATORS

P.K. SUBBAN IN LAVINDER JERSEY

The Predator fans are calling the gold and blue Smashville for the hit music in Tennessee. The Predator defense are also smashing opponents against the boards.

The Nashville Predators are now fighting for national press time with the Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets winning. All Star Captain Defenseman Goal Brother P.K. Subban might have to drag and pull the Predators to the playoffs this year. The Western Conference like the NBA has become tougher  so it has become difficult for Nashville to return to the Finals. Goaltender Pikka Rinne and P.K. Subban will play in this year’s All Star Game.

P.K. Subban will make history being the first Black player to be named captain of an All Star Team as he will head the Central Division.

The Predators can close the scoring door on any team in the league just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins and forward Sidney Crosby and they have one of the best power units with P.K. Subban at the point shooting laser shots at the goaltender.

One thing they have to fix, the team has taken too many penalties because they get lazy on defense leaning on Ellis, Subban, and Rinne backing them up. The Predators welcome defenseman Ryan Ellis back after six months with a knee injury. This should help Nashville in the defensive zone and give Subban needed relief before the playoffs start.

Love the productive scoring line of forwards Viktor Arvidsson, and Kevin Fiala with center Ryan Johnsen.

It’s going to be a wild finish in the Western Conference. This should be the final four in the west.

NEXT:- THE EASTERN CONFERENCE-MID SEASON-THE GOOD

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian, Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston, Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email Glcgray@gmail.com

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod

 

 

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Uncategorized

NHL-MID-SEASON-THE GOOD-EAST

NHL- MID-SEASON-THE GOOD-EASTERN CONFERENCE

 2017-18 POPSICLE BROTHERS REPORT- #10

By Gary Norris Gray, -BASN NEWSROOM- Staff Reporter

 OAKLAND, CA.- The National Hockey League’s All Star Games passed with the showcase of emerging hockey stars in the Eastern Conference. The Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions are now in a penguin march behind the Tampa Bay Lightning which has more wins and more goals than any team in the east. There is only one dominant team in this conference. The other organizations are packed so closely together that one victory on any night or one loss on any other night might be a ticket in or out of the post season. Just ask the New Jersey Devils who were in 8th place at the beginning of the week and are now in second place in the Metro Division.  This is the way the Eastern Conference will be the rest of the year. Philadelphia, New Jersey, both New York metro teams and Carolina will fight for those wild card spots.

Mr. McClean, Mr. Ingram, and Mr. Gray aka “The MIG Line” moves east to check out the Eastern Conference.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

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The Bolts are the Golden State Warriors on ice scoring from everywhere, and from every position on the rink. Tampa Bay is first in the league in scoring with forward Nikita Kucherov and center Brayton Point have 20 goals each and firebrand center Steve Stamkos could be the Draymond Green for the Bolts with his 40 assists along with Kucherov’s 37 assist. These guys know where each other is on the ice and can hit each other on the move.

The Big Four- Nikita Kucherov, Steve Stemkos, Brayden Point and forward Vladislav Namestnikov may carry Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The only question in Western Florida who would be their goaltender-Andrei Vasilevskiy or Peter Budaj? Can these two stop the opponents for the Cup?

The high flying Winnipeg Jets stopped the Lightning’s 4 game winning streak 3-1 Wednesday night Jan 30th with stingy Jet defense. This could be Tampa Bay’s weakest link.

Question, Where is Goal Brother J.T.Brown ? Is he being punished for raising his Black fist during the National Anthem?

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

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This could be the last hurrah for the Washington Capitals as the veterans forwards T.J. Oshie, and Tom Wilson with All Star left winger Alex Ovechkin and Goal Brother Devante Smith-Pelly.  At the start of this season scoring was so easy for this team in our nation’s capitol.

Number eight-Ovechkin went on a scoring tear with 30 goals at the halfway point and on the way to another 50 goal season. Is it enough to win the Stanley Cup?

The Caps do not want the Presidents Cup this year they want Lord Stanley’s Cup. The Washington Capitals have won the Presidents Cup twice but have never made it to the Finals. This year they have to beat the offensive machine in Florida or the re-surging Pittsburgh Penguins to reach the Finals.

Smith Pelly is having one of his better season with 14 points and 7 goals and playing in 46 of 50 games. He wants to end his career a winner.

Goaltender Braden Holtby is also having one of his better seasons and could get the Capitols to the finals. In the playoffs goaltending is everything and Holtby seems to fade at the end of the season and disappears during the playoffs.

 Washington has to stop holding, slashing, tripping, and boarding to reach the finals, too many penalties right now and the team needs to clean up their act before moving forward.

Viewers must watch wingers T.J. Oshie and Jakub Vrana for the secondary scoring punch.

The Capitals will host the United Arab Emirates Women’s National Hockey Team this month before the Olympics in South Korea. The NHL continues to expand into the world markets and the Washington Capitals are leading the way.

 

BOSTON BRUINS

 O'REE

The Boston Bruins will live in National Hockey League history being the first team to have a Black player on the ice. The Bruins celebrate hockey legend forward Willie O’Ree. This year will be 60 years that O’Ree broke the NHL color barrier. O’Ree made his debut for Boston in a 3-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. The Gray Leopard Cove and Soul Tree Radio salute original Goal Brother Willie O’Ree.

 

At the midway point of the season the Boston Bruins are on fire as they have moved up 7 spots in 4 months with 1 2/2 months to go, but they still have to catch the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Baby Bears are a brick wall and will not let teams score. Defensman and Captain Zdeno Chara is carrying the Black and Gold into the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Bruins are number one in goals against and are a brick wall and with their penalty kill and power play units are very difficult to score against. Remember defense wins championships and the Boston Bruins are well on the way this year.

The Big Bruins bang players against the boards and make them give up the puck in their offensive zones.

The Boston second line of forward Jake DeBrusk, center David Krejci, and forward Ryan Spooner bring their own part to the Bruin game and score too.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS   

 This is the home of the other Canadian Matrix Man Frederik Andersen, he may not be as cool as the original Matrix Man Ottawa Senator Craig Anderson but he gets the job done in the Leafs net.

 At the beginning of the 2017-18 season the Leafs were the odds on favorite to win the Eastern Conference with their young stars center Auston Matthews, forwards Matt Martin and Zach Hyman. The Leafs have fallen to third place in the Atlantic Division but have righted the ship and are on a four game winning streak.

The addition of forward Patrick Marleau from the San Jose Sharks has put firepower in the Leafs front line. With his many years of playoff experience Marleau could instruct the young Leafs at crunch time.

This past week the Lightning blew out both New York teams beating the Islanders 5-0 on Wednesday night and then the next night shutting out the Rangers 4-0 Thursday night.

 

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

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The two time defending champion were on the ropes at the beginning of this season and had some work to do. The Pens started slowly and ended up at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division in October, November, and early December before they started playing championship hockey.

The six foot 225 pound Goal Brother Ryan Reaves from the Saint Louis Blues organization fits right in with this rough bunch and he is assigned to defend Malkin and Crosby on Pittsburgh offensive rushes.

Matt Murray does not have to share the goal net with Marc Andre Flurey this year. Murray has the job all to himself and is beginning to show the Pittsburgh faithful why.

The Pens have moved to the top of the Metro Division through their number one power play unit. Veteran centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have pulled the Black and Gold into this year’s playoff picture with their power play goal scoring.

The Pittsburgh Penguins remind many of the old Wayne Grezky Edmonton Oiler teams, volatile deadly offense with no defense. They are currently third last in defending their goal and this could undo their 3 peat challenge in 2018 only goaltender Murray can reverse this trend.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

 

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In October everybody in the east thought the Blue Jackets would make the playoffs. They started the year 9-4 and in first place in the Atlantic Division. Columbus is the youngest team in the NHL and it is beginning to show with sloppy defensive play in the third periods. The Jackets went into a tail spin in December losing 10 of 16 falling into a Wild Card position in the east.

Goal Brother defenseman Seth Jones continues to improve on the ice as his team continues to struggle to score goals.

Blue Jack City has put forwards Cam Atkinson and Brandon Dubinsky on the same line and they are beginning to score goals again and moving back up in standings.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

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The Devils are in a very strange position with the trade deadline closing in. The team is on a roller coaster, up one week down the next. The New Jersey Devil brain trust has to make decisions whether to keep the kids or trade to make the playoffs this year. It’s been five years since New Jersey has played in April, this could be the year if they keep this team together.

Goalie Cory Schneider has the spot all to himself with the ghost of All Star-Hall of Fame Goalie Martin Brodeur banished from the Prudential Center. Young gun Keith Kinkaid is waiting in the wings in net and playing well behind Schneider.

Forward Taylor Hall is the super star on this team with 50 points and 18 goals. The Devils have to find more offense from somewhere to move into the second round of the playoffs. Centers Travis Zajac and Brian Boyle have to produce goals in the second half in order to make post season

I love feisty center Adam Henrique from the Anaheim Ducks who has 30 points and 15 goals. If forward Brian Gibbons gets hot look out Eastern Conference.

Goal Brother forward J.T. Brown moves from Tampa Bay to New Jersey. Brown moves away from the controversy of supporting Colin Kaepernick in the south and gets a new start with the New Jersey Devils.

Philadelphia Flyers

WAYNE SIMMONDS

Next question can Goal Brother Wayne Simmonds and the Flyers or the Carolina Hurricane make the mad dash to the playoffs the next two months. The Flyers need goalie Brian Elliott in net for them to make the playoffs goalie Michal Neuvirth is o.k. but Elliott is just better. The only good thing currently in the City of Brotherly Love, are the Philadelphia Eagles defense and the Flyers power play.

Carolina Hurricanes

The reason why the Cains are where they are today is sloppy play in the offensive zone and committing too many penalties. Goalies Cam Ward and Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks cannot not stop opponent’s power play.

Center Jordan Staal and forward Jeff Skinner cannot do it all for the black and red.

Look for the Cains to be in the trade market in the next three weeks.

This also could be a year that both the New York Rangers and New York Islanders do not make the playoffs, if that happens look for the Blueshirts to blow up the team in Madison Square Garden and the Islanders to move back to Long Island because of the lack of interest in Brooklyn.

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian, Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston, Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email Glcgray@gmail.com

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod

 

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