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Hockey questions...


CZzyzx41

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After the 2002-2003 season and the great run by the Ducks in the playoffs, I became a real huge hockey fan. In this sense I mean of the sport itself. Sure I know who Gretzky, Orr, and Lemieux are. I know Modano. I remember Roy and Bourgue but I don't really know any current stars by name. I'm a Flames fan only because my wife is. Since I'm more a San Diego Gulls fan perhaps it's more appropriate that I root for the Ducks. Gee I miss the NHL. This would definitely have been the year I went to my first live NHL game. Instead it's a season of ECHL. AA Hockey...just like AA Baseball. Young or old but still not major league. Regardless it's still hockey.

ANYWAYS...

I was wondering since a lot of you here are big hockey fans could someone give me a list of the top 5-10 players at each position...in order...players any basic NHL fan should know.

Same with the ECHL. I know the Gulls players but I don't know the stars of the league. if anyone knows that would help. I basically only get to see the western division play but I'd like to know who I'm rooting against and which players I should hate the most, you know?

Now...to learn how to skate. I wanna play!

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this actually shows how little known most nhl stars are. the average mediocre to non hockey fan has very little knowledge of even the stars. where as in the NBA, NFL, MLB, College NBA-NFL everyone knows even the scrubs of the league.

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After the 2002-2003 season and the great run by the Ducks in the playoffs, I became a real huge hockey fan. In this sense I mean of the sport itself. Sure I know who Gretzky, Orr, and Lemieux are. I know Modano. I remember Roy and Bourgue but I don't really know any current stars by name. I'm a Flames fan only because my wife is. Since I'm more a San Diego Gulls fan perhaps it's more appropriate that I root for the Ducks. Gee I miss the NHL. This would definitely have been the year I went to my first live NHL game. Instead it's a season of ECHL. AA Hockey...just like AA Baseball. Young or old but still not major league. Regardless it's still hockey.

ANYWAYS...

I was wondering since a lot of you here are big hockey fans could someone give me a list of the top 5-10 players at each position...in order...players any basic NHL fan should know.

Same with the ECHL. I know the Gulls players but I don't know the stars of the league. if anyone knows that would help. I basically only get to see the western division play but I'd like to know who I'm rooting against and which players I should hate the most, you know?

Now...to learn how to skate. I wanna play!

i know nothing about the ECHL, but i've been an NHL fan since i was a little kid... 1993-94 to be exact (i'm only 20 now).

i became a fan when the north stars moved to dallas, where i've lived since 1st grade. been a diehard fan of the green and gold ever since.

there's no way anyone can list the top at every position, without having a LOT of arguments, so i'll just list some of the players that top my list of best at their positions... in no particular rank or order, since it's all subjective anyway.

goalies:

brodeur is widely considered to be the best goalie in the league, but his critics credit it largely to the fact that he's played his entire career behind the best defensive hockey team in the world.

luongo is a young goalie, who's been highly touted for years as a prospect, but has officially come into his own in recent years. he may not have the best stats, but he plays behind an awful defense in florida, and faces more quality shots than any goalie i've ever seen. watching luongo highlights are like watching the "rapid fire" event in skill competitions.

turco has been statistically an elite goaltender ever since he came into the NHL. he's statistically the best goalie in the history of college hockey, and during his first season as a starter, he set a record for lowest goals-against-average, played in the all-star game, and led the dallas stars to the playoffs. he's arguably the best player on the dallas stars, but his critics point to his lack of playoff success.

kiprusoff is a goalie that some consider to be elite, but others are waiting until they see more of him to be completely convinced. he broke turco's record for GAA in his first season as starter, but he played less than 1/2 of his team's regular season games, which can skew the impact of the record. like giguere, he had an awesome playoff run, but fell short of the cup... we'll have to wait and see if he bounces back better than giggy did.

khabibulin is often overlooked, but he recently won the cup with tampa. he's been steadily one of the best goalies in the world for years, but his lay-off between phoenix and tampa really hurt him. lately though, he's regained his form, and is easily one of the best in the league.

defensemen:

rob blake is a complete package. he's flawless in his own defensive end, and he's useful on offense from the point. he's got a cannon of a shot, and he can crush you with a check... his critics will bring up his loyalty or leadership, based on how he handled the move from the kings to the avs.

nick lidstrom is easily the best defenseman in the league. he's generally considered an offensive defenseman, but he's rarely ever out of position defensively. he never throws the big hits, but he'll defend you flawlessly without ever touching you. he's got great leadership skills, and can act as a 4th forward when needed.

derian hatcher is my personal favorite. he had an off season last year, with all the injuries, but when he's at 100%, he's one of the most feared men in the league. what he lacks in speed and offensive flair, he makes up for in defensive positioning, body checks, and intimidation. he's the only non-canadian captain of a stanley cup champion, with dallas in 99.

chris pronger is a more pollished version of derian hatcher. like hatcher, he's absolutely huge, and perfect in his own zone. he doesn't have the same mean streak as hatcher, which can be considered either good or bad, depending on the situation. he's got pretty good offensive skills as well, but he doesn't use them as much as some people would like.

scott niedermayer is another offensive defenseman. he acts as a 4th forward more often than he acts as a 2nd defenseman. he's pretty good at just about everything, but not amazing in anything in particular. his fans are loyal to the death, but his critics are sometimes bitterly jealous... i'm personally not a fan myself, but i can see why he's so popular.

wingers:

kovalchuk is a great offensive talent. he came into the NHL a few years ago, and was touted as a sniper with a slight mean streak, but we haven't seen much of that. he's got moves on top of moves, and there may not be a better 1-on-1 player in the league. it's scary to think how good he might get. one of the most fun to watch players in the league. defense has been suspect, but bob hartley is quickly fixing that.

tkachuk is a throwback to the old days. he's got a loud mouth, a bucket of knuckles in front of the net, and an all-around game to boot. he borders on dirty. you love him if he's on your team, and you hate him if he's not.

naslund is one of the best offensive players in the game, but his defense is enough to make his critics completely ignore him in MVP discussions. he's a great passer. he knows how to finish plays. but when the play gets down to his own end, he's just going through the motions, looking for a chance to speed up ice for another goal. he's popular, and he gets loads of points, but his +/- ratings make you wonder just how much it helps for him to be on the ice.

bertuzzi is the best power forward in the game. only the biggest, baddest, meanest defensemen in the league can handle him in front of the net. he's got scoring touch, leadership, and a mean streak... he's hated all around the league because of his blatant and vicious cheapshot against the avs last year, that gave hockey more negative publicity than it deserves. bertuzzi has got great skills, but it's easy to see why he's only loved by his home town fans.

st. louis is a tiny little dude, who is the stereo-typical "under sized kid with a big heart, that no team wanted to take a chance on, who eventually beats the odds and wins it all". he's the MVP. what he lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and scoring touch. his size keeps him from being the complete package on both sides of the puck, but he's a character player who deserves all the credit he gets.

guerin is another big name power forward. he's like tkachuk in a lot of ways, only tends to be more of a pure sniper. he never needs or wants to actually carry the puck. he'll take it, then pass it off, or he'll take it and then shoot it. his critics will call him greedy and dirty, and his fans will call him hard-nosed and lovable.

hejduk is by far the most under rated player in the league. he puts up outstanding numbers, but is often over-looked because of the other big names on colorado. again, he doesn't do anything really great, but he does a lot of things really good. it all comes together in a great package for him.

iginla is another of the pure power forwards, like guerin. he's a great leader. he's got a mean streak. he's somewhat of a streaky scorer, but he always seems to put up numbers when it matters. he's a sniper, and one of the biggest names in the sport, but he's not afraid to drop his gloves to defend a teammate.

heatley is another young power forward. he's had the worst luck of any person i've ever seen in the last few years, from the car wreck, to the puck in the face. with kovalchuk on his line, they make one of the best 1-2 punches in the game, and considering that they are both in their early 20's, they're only going to get better.

lehtinen is still one of the most under rated players in the league. he's won multiple selke trophies as best defensive forward in the game. he's one of the voices of reason in a dallas locker room that has been shaky since hatcher left. he's widely considered the best defensive forward in the game, but he's also lead the dallas stars in scoring, and has been one of the most consistent offensive players on a roster of high-priced scorers.

centers:

fedorov is one of the best players in the league in my books. he can play anywhere on the ice. while with the wings, he regularly played center, either wing, and defenseman. he's an all around great player. he generally gets mentioned for his offensive prowess or his speed, but people tend to forget that he's won the selke for best defensive forward.

thornton is a young power forward at center. he's got all the skills you'd look for in a center, and he'd be one of the best choices you could make if you had 1 player to build a team around. it took him a long time to come into his own, as the bruins threw him into the mix at an age that may have been too young, but he's made up for it with stringing together a few great seasons.

sakic is one of the oldies but goodies in the league. quietly leading the all-star team that is called the colorado avalanche. good at everything he tries... the avs are obviously his team in every way, and there's not much that he can improve upon, but somehow, he still comes up second to the next man on the list...

forsberg is the best player in the world today. he does everything at a high level. sakic IS the avs... sakic is the number one center. sakic is the captain. somehow forsberg is the greatest player in the world today, but he's not even considered the best player on his own team... either way, i'm sure you know a lot about forsberg... i can't say enough good things about him. complete package.

modano is a player that could be considered the best american player of all time, but lately he's been average. he's not the greatest captain on the planet, but he's very fair and loyal. he's bigger than most people think he is, for his size and skill set. he's also got a cannon of a shot, that most people don't seem to notice. when you think of modano, he's a pure set-up man, with a solid defensive base. he can be much more, and has been much more for stars fans everywhere for years... but lately, he's been lackluster.

roenick is a loud mouth, who might be considered a locker room cancer wherever he goes. he makes public jokes about wanting to get traded, then retracts them... then brings them back up. he's got a skill-set that anyone would kill for, but on occasion, he acts as if he's bigger than the game, which turns off many of his critics. either way, he's a force to be reckoned with on the ice... like him or not, he makes an impact.

richards had a great playoff run last year. richards and lecavalier are joined at the hip, it appears, so i'll merge them into one summary. they've been good buddies since they were young, and somehow ended up on the same championship team relatively young in their careers. lecavalier started out slowly, and made some noise about wanting to leave tampa when they were building their team and losing games... but we all see how it turned out when he had the captain's C removed, and he was told to sit quietly and wait for the glory years.

sundin is a lot like modano. a lot bigger than he's percieved to be. solid in both ends of the rink... he's a great leader. does a lot of things well, and has few true flaws. a lot of people dislike him, largely because he plays for toronto... but when it comes down to it, everyone love big mats.

hope this helps... i love spreading the gospel of hockey to new fans, so if you've got any more questions, just post them up, and i'll see if i can help.

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Excellent work Cole. Although there's minor things many could disagree with, you got most of the top guys.

yeah... like i said, it's very subjective, so everyone's going to have a different list, and a different description for each guy.

as a hatcher fan, i hate roenick and tkachuk, and i'm sure all roenick/tkachuk fans hate hatcher, etc... it's hard for a real hockey fan to be unbiased when asked to sum up the stars of the league :) like it or not, hatred of the enemy is a big part of the game :)

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Thanks so much Cole for your analysis. I was familiar with most of those names but some of them are new to me and I'll start by studying these guys and other old names then watching for younger talent. That is IF we ever see the NHL play again.

Do you guys have any opinions of the following players:

Mike Garrow

Trevor Koenig

Mark Pederson

Mathieu Chouinard

Sylvain Deschatelets

These guys are now on the Gulls and are stars here. I know Chouinard and Pederson are former NHL players (though I think Chouinard only played 1 game for the Kings last year)

Stat questions:

+/-

PIM

What do these mean?

Also I notice that certain lines are always changing throughout the game. I assume this is to reduce fatigue or for various strategic reasons. Can I assume then that fans often yell at the coach not only about when they make the change but which line they choose to take over? I also noticed every so often a player will be in a bad position so when there's a line change it leaves the team disadvantaged for a few seconds.

I can only assume this is completely enfuriating.

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+/- is a stat that says how many goals a player was on the ice for ersus how many against--but only goals scored when the teams are at even strength count (so not power play & shorthanded goals)

So if you're on the ice while your team scores 4 goals--whether you scored them or not, but also on the ice while the other team score 2--then you would have a +2 (4-2)

PIM is Penalties in minutes or how many penalty minutes you've been assessed...

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yeah. you get a +1 for every goal your team scores while you're on the ice. you get a -1 for every goal the opposition team scores when you are on the ice. it's not a stat that should taken TOO seriously, when comparing two players from two teams... but when comparing players on your own team, it can show you just what generally tends to happen when your player is on the ice :)

and about line changes... i'm not quite sure i understand what you're asking.

i've never heard anyone yell at the coach about a line change. a line change happens about every 40 seconds anyway.

i'm not sure exactly how much you understand about hockey, so if my below explanation is too dumbed down, don't hate me... just trying to help...

on the ice for a team is 3 forwards (a center, and 2 wingers), 2 defensemen, and a goalie. the goalies aren't part of the usual line change. defensemen and forwards are 2 seperate entities. they don't always change lines at the same time. every team has 4 forward lines (4 sets of 3 forwards), and 3 defensive pairs (3 sets of 2 d-men). since there is one more forward line than defensive pair, it wouldn't make sense to combine defensemen and forwards into 1 five-man line... also, if this were the case, then you'd have zero players on the ice during a change, because all 5 skaters would be heading to the bench, out of position.

so, as i said, each line's shift is about 40 seconds, give or take, depending on the line, the team, and the situation. defenseman shifts usually last a little longer, because there are fewer defensemen on the team, and they generally don't skate as far or as aggressively as forwards (because if they do, they'll be out of defensive position, which is their #1 objective). line changes happen so often, that fans don't even think twice about them. i've been to minor league hockey games (in fort worth, with the CHL's brahmas), and several NHL games (in dallas, with my stars)... and i've never seen fans try to tell the coach who to put out on the ice or anything line-change related. it's just such a routine deal... and if you leave your best line out there too often, then they'll get dead tired, and then be completely useless. every line has it's job.

the first line, is generally considered your scoring line. when you absolutely have to score now, they are almost always on the ice... but in some cases, like the 1999 dallas stars (first line was hull-modano-lehtinen), your first line is also your shut-down defensive line that you put on the ice to play defensive hockey, and shut down the top line of the other team. your second line, is generally also considered a scoring line first and foremost. your third line is generally called your checking line. they generally (again, generally) go out on the ice and play defensive hockey first and foremost... but again, every line does play both sides of the puck. just certain lines have their strengths and weaknesses. you put your third line on the ice against the other team's first line, a lot of times, because the 3rd line has so many grinding defensive minded forwards that it can slow down the other team's scoring line. then your fourth line is generally your "energy" line. players like aaron downey, steve ott, jordin tootoo, and other players like that play on an energy line. they go out there, and go wild. they try to pump up the tempo, and light a fire under everyone's ass. they do their best to stay within the rules, of course, but they tend to play a balls-to-the-walls fast paced, hard hitting game to either change the tempo of the game, or bait the other team into a stupid penalty.

now don't let the numbers of the lines fool you. your first line is generally where the best players on the team go, but that doesn't make the second line an insult. players very often will get shuffled between the top 3 lines to find chemistry. someone like a lehtinen or a stu barnes (sorry for all the stars references... it's habit) can play anywhere in the lineup, and won't complain about it... but just because a first line will have your best players, generally, that doesn't mean that they are always your starters. some teams like the energy line to take the openning face off. some teams will try and match up against the other team's scoring line by making their checking line take the ice for the openning draw.

and like i said, each shift is about 40 seconds. line changes are so frequent that no one thinks twice about them... the shifts are so short, because ice hockey takes a LOT out of you. if you've ever played, you know that after 40 seconds of grinding along the boards, you're ready for a couple minutes of gatorade and heavy-breathing. someone might end up looking stupid if they go to a game and yell "put the 1st line back out there!" if they just ended a minute long shift. the coach knows what he's doing. hockey isn't like football, where you'll hear fans screaming "go for two!" or "go for it on fourth and short!"... the game just doesn't lend itself to that sorta stuff. you'll find yourself screaming at a player telling him to dump the puck in, or a goalie to cover-it-up, or a defenseman to just clear the zone and take an icing, well before you'll find many people yelling at the coach to put in a different line.

and yeah, sometimes players are put in a bad position by a linechange, but that shouldn't be taken too seriously. it happens ALL THE TIME, on both teams. especially in minor hockey. you roll with the punches, because if you get burned by it one game, the next game, you might score the game winner on the same situation. consider it an occupational hazzard.

ok, now as if i'm not rambling enough, i'll try to explain what each position's job tends to be, since it sorta fits into the linechange idea.

centers- they take faceoffs. they generally quarterback the team. they carry the puck on offense, passing to their wings to help them make it up the ice, but for the bulk of the play, they've got the puck on offense. on defense, their job is to act as a 3rd defenseman. they tend to have more defensive responsibilities than wingers. they try to disrupt the play before it gets into the defensive zone. they go anywhere on the ice that they need to go. sometimes you'll see a team's center "shadowing" the best player on the other team's offense. this is a huge compliment, as it means that you're dedicating one player to disrupting the production of the other team's big name. centers are usually just utility players on defense. whatever special job needs to be done on defense to help that team win, the center usually does it.

wingers- generally need to be left handed as a left winger, and right handed as a right winger. left wingers play on the left side of the ice, so they need to be left handed, generally, so they don't have their back to the play. if you're right handed on the leftwing, then passes would have to be made from your backhand, which is NOT something you want to happen. a right-handed left-winger is said to be playing on his "off-wing"... the downside is that they have their blindspot to the ice, and their passes would be off the backhand. the benefits to playing on your offwing is that you've got more net to shoot at. you're at a better angle to score, and a better angle for one-timers... but again, what good is that, if you turn the puck over on a backhanded pass before you get into scoring position? you'll see players on their offwings way more during a powerplay than at any other time...some players can get by with playing offwing all the time, but i'm just giving you general information, not a blanket statement. on offense, a winger's job is to exhange passes with the center to get the puck up the ice... they also tend to be the players who dump the puck into the offensive zone, since they're at a better angle to do so, on the wings. on defense, the wingers job is to basically cover their couterparts. each wing defends a wing on the other team... the center goes everywhere to break up the play before it enters the defensive zone... and once it gets to the defensive zone, the centers tend to act as a 3rd defenseman.

defensemen- there are left-defensemen and right-defensemen, but you don't hear those terms as often. the same thing applies to defenseman as for wingers, as far as handedness goes... it may actually be more important for defensemen, since turnovers by defenseman are much more crucial (because there's nothing but a goalie behind you). on offense, a defenseman's job is to stay parked at the "points". just barely on the offensive side of the offensive blue-line. their job is to make sure the puck doesn't get cleared from the zone. they'll take passes or shots on occasion from the point, just to change the point of attack. offensive minded defensemen will often times "pinch" closer to the net with the forwards, to try and cause a mismatch, by sneaking in before they can get covered by the other team. when this happens, it's common for the most defensive forward to drop back to the blueline and play defenseman until the real defenseman gets back. also on offense, during a powerplay, the defensemen normally carry the puck up the ice, instead of the centers, so the centers can get into a more effective position to score goals. on defense, a defenseman's job is to disrupt the offense. from an outsiders view of the game, many people think that to disrupt the play, you either have to knock the puck carrier on their ass, or steal the puck from them. that's not always true. i played defenseman before i had my big knee injury, so i'm partial to them :) now to disrupt the play, they just pester the puck carrier, and help guard the net. good defense isn't all hits and steals. you use your stick to disrupt the puck-carriers stick handling. if you can't steal it, just bump the puck. bump his stick. those little inches count, and really make it more difficult to set up the offensive play. basically, just do anything you can to disrupt the play even slightly. keep your stick in the passing lanes, and keep your body in the shooting lanes. just make the offense EARN their goals. you WILL get scored on as a defenseman. just make sure that the other team deserves the goal, and it's not from a mistake on your part.

goalies have a simple job... stop the puck. keep it out of the net. it's not an easy job, but it's a simple job. on offense, some of them, like brodeur or turco, can handle the puck as good as a defenseman, so they can get the play started by making a good first pass to the defensemen, and saving their defensemen a little bit of skating :)

like i said before, if you want me to clarify anything, or explain something else, just let me know... for some reason, i enjoy talking about this junk... i'm strongly considering coaching peewee hockey :)

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After the 2002-2003 season and the great run by the Ducks in the playoffs, I became a real huge hockey fan. In this sense I mean of the sport itself. Sure I know who Gretzky, Orr, and Lemieux are. I know Modano. I remember Roy and Bourgue but I don't really know any current stars by name. I'm a Flames fan only because my wife is. Since I'm more a San Diego Gulls fan perhaps it's more appropriate that I root for the Ducks. Gee I miss the NHL. This would definitely have been the year I went to my first live NHL game. Instead it's a season of ECHL. AA Hockey...just like AA Baseball. Young or old but still not major league. Regardless it's still hockey.

ANYWAYS...

I was wondering since a lot of you here are big hockey fans could someone give me a list of the top 5-10 players at each position...in order...players any basic NHL fan should know.

Same with the ECHL. I know the Gulls players but I don't know the stars of the league. if anyone knows that would help. I basically only get to see the western division play but I'd like to know who I'm rooting against and which players I should hate the most, you know?

Now...to learn how to skate. I wanna play!

No real stars of the ECHL have emmerged for this season. There was Brian Eklund last season who set the saves in a season record and the saves in a plaoff games (85 shots, 83 saves, 2 OT loss in the playoffs in Game 5 of round one of Pensacola @ Louisiana).

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yeah. you get a +1 for every goal your team scores while you're on the ice. you get a -1 for every goal the opposition team scores when you are on the ice.

Unless there is a power play occuring when the goal is scored.

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Again Cole, thank you a lot! Like I said I don't know a lot about hockey yet but I've fallen so much for the sport I'm soaking up all I can. I think at this point I'll say I like Hockey more than baseball and for me that's saying something. I could call myself a baseball expert and i hope to gain the same kind of knowledge with hockey.

Anyways. I'm printing all this out and I'll keep reading it to remind me. Since I know you love talking hockey would it be ok if I deferred to you for questions?

Thanks again for all your help!

Daniel

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I'd add in Robin Regehr to the defensemen...

and throw Ed Belfour into over-rated goalies...

(a new category)

Come-on!

Don't be such a Homer... The topic is not your FAVOURITE / most hated players...

While Regehr has potential to become a household name, he is still not in the top 10 in the League.

And the only reason because you put Belfour's name there is because like every Canadian (and maybe few Americans too...) outside of Toronto, seing such a great player waste his talent in a blue-and-white shirt on.

Belfour WAS the MVP of the REGULAR season last year ( I give tyou Kiper for the playoffs) without him, the Leafs wouldn't even have made the playoffs...

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Again Cole, thank you a lot! Like I said I don't know a lot about hockey yet but I've fallen so much for the sport I'm soaking up all I can. I think at this point I'll say I like Hockey more than baseball and for me that's saying something. I could call myself a baseball expert and i hope to gain the same kind of knowledge with hockey.

Anyways. I'm printing all this out and I'll keep reading it to remind me. Since I know you love talking hockey would it be ok if I deferred to you for questions?

Thanks again for all your help!

Daniel

yeah. i'm always available to talk hockey.

i'm a fan of all the major sports, from football to soccer to basketball... just look at my avatar... but many of those sports i've only followed for a few years.

i've grown up around the game of hockey, and there's no doubt in anyone's mind that it's my #1...

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