In the dead of summer, you have nothing to do but look forward to camp and what will be at stake. Last year we didn’t know who would be filling D roster spots and if Kyle/Mikkel/Brett/Teek would make the team. While it would be surprising for any major roster shake-ups this year, there will be big questions going into the season.
Mike “The ‘Fro” Smith vs. The Russian Ghost
Everyone knows the biggest question is whether Mike Smith can fill the skates of the departed Bryz. With the Lightning, Mike played 22 games, and had a 2.90 GAA and .899 save percentage, going 13-6-1. Eeeeek! Keep in mind, Tampa is not exactly like Tippett’s grinder D system. Bryz had a 2.48 GAA and .920 save percentage in 68 games, where we went 36-20.
Important note: In 3 playoff starts, Mike was 1-1 with a .958 save percentage and a 1.00 GAA and Bryz ………. hahahahahahahahahaha.
AJ’s Winner: Mike Smith. If we get off to a shaky start and Yotes fans start lamenting about the departure of Bryz, I’ll blow them up. Bitch wanted 10 million and talked crap about the fans. I’ll put my stock in the upstart kid with something to prove.
Oliver Oscar Emanuel Ekman-Larsson vs. David Schlemko
Being completely impartial, I am, by far, the best person to objectively discuss the battle for the 6th Dman roster spot. Since I never play favorites, I am able to tell you that in 43 games, 24 year old Schlem was 4-10-14 with 47 shots, was +8 and had 24 PIMS. 20 year old Oliver Oscar Emanuel Ekman-Larsson, 6th overall pick and future Norris Trophy winner, was 1-10-11 in 48 games, +3, had 80 shots, and 24 penalty minutes.
Let’s start by saying, I like Schlem. I do. But you dumbasses talking about Olli taking too many penalties, Schlem had the same PIMS in LESS games. I’d feel better with OEL on my power play than Schlem. I feel better about Olli’s speed, shot, and……. umm…. everything? He was a freaking All-Star last year ;) Also, did anyone see Olli’s kickass shootout attempt at the All-Star game? We may have a new “Closer”. Now if we can just convince Tippett that Olli is actually older so he can get some ice time…….
But Schlem is no slouch.
Maybe this discussion should include Dmo. 5-11-16 in 77 games and ended being a -2. La la la nothing to see here ;)
Kyle Turris vs. The Expectations Of Being The Third Overall Pick
The expectation of being in the first couple picks of the first round of the NHL entry draft is big. In Turris’ year, Patrick Kane and JVR were picked before we took Kyle. It’s rough yo. I used to tell people:
Patrick Kane – Cup winning goal………… JVR – Cup Finals experience…….Kyle Turris – My Facebook friend.
While I have some kickass facebook friends…………. ouch. Other #3 picks include Jack Johnson, Matt Duchene, and some guy named Jonathan Toews. No pressure right?
Turris took a firm step forward last year, especially at the end of the season and playoffs, but with our glaring lack of a #1 center, his growth needs to continue.
AJ’s Winner: Kyle. With additional on-ice protection, Kyle will increase his point production and take a bigger role on power play. Also, have I mentioned that #TurrisIsSoSick?
Bizz vs Torres
The purpose of Bizz having a roster spot was to have someone who could drop ’em if needed to protect the skill guys and keep the other team halfway honest. Now that we signed Satan, it’s up in the air how many games Bizz will see from the bench instead of the press box.
Torres played 80 games and had 29 points and 78 PIMS with 115 shots. In 23 playoff games, Raffi was 3-4-7 and had 28 PIMS and 20 shots.
Bizz was 1-0-1 in 48 games and had 71 PIMS and 18 shots.
With as many grinders and primarily defensive forwards that we already have, can we afford to have a roster spot for a player whose job is taken care of by a player that also has skill? Does Torres’ brand of protection differ from Bizz’s? I guess we will see.
AJ’s winner: I’m not a big fan of either, but I’m scared we’ll be starved for goals so I guess I’m going with Ginger Satan.
Lee Stempniak vs Pissed Off Lee Stempniak
When Lee came to Phx from Toronto, people had been saying some pretty shitty things about him and he was piiiiiiiiiiissed. What did he do with that anger? He had 14 goals on 48 shots in 18 games. THE GOAL MONSTER IS IN THERE. WE HAVE SEEN IT. Last season, Lee had a very serviceable 19-19-38 in 82 games on 199 shots.
Lee, we have the lurve for you, we do! But we will be starved for offense. We got rid of Uppy! We need Angry Lee. We need the goals. We know you can do it! In order to get you mad, I came up with these insults:
By becoming a hockey player instead of pursing business after your internship at Goldman Sachs, the economy is all your fault.
Your starched khakis look like they came from Macy’s instead of Neiman Marcus.
Your dog loves your wife more than he loves you. Yeah, I said it.
Angry? GO MAKE THE GOALIES PAY SON.
AJ’s Winner: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE HOCKEY GODS, GIVE US ANGRY LEE.
Over the pre-season and start of the regular season, we’ll see how these battles end up shaping up.
Here are some honorable mentions of battles that didn’t quite make the list:
Derek Morris vs The Law of Inertia – Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. It’s the law. Sorry Dmo.
Petteri Nokelainen vs The Pressbox – With Marty, Kyle, Boyd, and Lauri all being able to play center, I’m worried that Nokie is going to be this year’s Prucha……. which leads us to:
AJ vs Tippett – Steel Cage Match — Watch out bucko, I’m not above pulling hair.