1) Eller’s Spin-O-Rama
Montreal forward Lars Eller already had a hat trick against Winnipeg when he was held near the Jets’ net and awarded a penalty shot. What happened next is only what I consider the goal of the year, no big deal. It was his fourth goal of the night, doubling his total for the entire season! It’ll be tough to top this one.
2) Malkin Clutch Goal Crushes Canadiens
Montreal should have been ready for the spin-o-rama after Eller’s goal against the Jets. Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin continued his Hart Trophy campaign with an unbelievably dazzling goal against Habs star Carey Price, nearly leaving the TSN announcers speechless.
3) Malkin’s Amazing Effort
superstar Evgeni Malkin is at it again. He had to do a whole lot to get this goal against the Avalanche. He first banged an Avs player into the boards to get his team possession. Then he got the puck back on a pass, put the puck between the feet of defenseman Gabriel Landeskog and then did a nifty deke move to push the puck past the goaltender. Just spectacular!
4) Doughty Beats The Clock
There have been other buzzer-beating goals in the NHL this season, but LA defenseman Drew Doughty beat the clock from his knees. There were 0.3 seconds left when Doughty rushed in from the left wing on a rebound, dropped to one knee and rifled it past Columbus goalie Curtis Sanford.
5) Bobby Ryan Schools The Islanders Shorthanded
Ducks forward Bobby Ryan was on the penalty killing unit when he went up the ice with temmate Corey Perry. Perry slid Ryan the puck, and Ryan did the rest. He maneuvered around two New York players and completely deked out Isles goalie Evgeni Nabokov for the shorthanded tally.
Dropped Out of the rankings- Ribiero Preys On Predators
Veteran Dallas forward Mike Ribiero was on a two-on-two in the Nashville zone when both Preds defenders tried to pry the puck from Ribiero’s stick. Ribiero then went around both players and put a backhand past world class goalie Pekka Rinne. Take a look.
Now that news has broken on the 2013 NHL Winter Classic, it’s time to start speculating on could play on the Maple Leafs’ alumni team. With such a long history, the team will have plenty of names to choose from. Who would really make the fans go wild? Let’s see a roster breakdown.
Mats Sundin – The all-time points leader in Maple Leafs history and one of the biggest fan favorites in recent memory. His number is being retired by the team Saturday night. A definite choice for the game.
Doug Gilmour – One of the most beloved players and captains in Leafs’ history. He came back to Toronto late in his career to retire a Leaf.
Ed Olczyk – While only on the Leafs for a couple of years, he had his best statistical seasons in Blue and White.
Wild Card: Darryl Sittler - Sittler is no spring chicken anymore. By the time the game rolls around, the second all-time Leaf in points will be 62 years old. It would be great to see him lace up even for a ceremonial position.
Wendel Clark - Tons of points and tons of penalty minutes. Clark was loved for his hands – both in stick handling and in fist form. He would be one of the most obvious choices and one of the most exciting to see take the ice again for the Leafs.
Steve Thomas - A great team player and leader during his time in Toronto (two different stints), he would be a great addition to this alumni game.
Dave Andreychuk - Awesome player and leader who scored 99 points with Toronto – his career high.
Wild Card: Tiger Williams - Tiger is on the older side, but seeing him as a Leaf again would bring back the memories of his tenacity and willingness to fight with anything that moved.
Lanny McDonald - The return of the mustache! Who wouldn’t want to see Lanny in Blue and White again?
Rick Vaive - A solid player and leader for the Leafs over eight years in the prime of his career. I met him once at the Air Canada Centre – really great guy.
Darcy Tucker - Gritty, talented and an exciting player. Would love to see him play.
Tie Domi - Yet another fighter who was LOVED in Toronto. He would be amazing in this game and will prove how little guys can play just as well as anyone.
Wild Card: Paul Henderson - one of the greatest figures in Canadian hockey history, Henderson was also a great Leaf. It would be awesome if he could make it.
Borje Salming - A LEGEND in Toronto. He was a beast on the blue line and could score as well as anyone. He helped forge the way for Europeans to crack the NHL rosters.
Dmitry Yushkevich - Not a household name outside of Toronto, but he was a hard-working player who was always there to be counted on.
Ian Turnbull - Drafted by Toronto and played nine years there. Amassed a large number of points in Toronto for a defenseman.
Todd Gill - Another Toronto draftee, played 12 years and over 600 games for the Leafs.
Larry Murphy - Only played a short time in Toronto, but is a legend nonetheless.
Wild Card: Brian Leetch - 15 games as a Leaf, 15 points. Goaltender Curtis Joseph is already said to be courting him for this game.
Felix Potvin - Felix the Cat was Toronto’s great goalie of the 1990′s. An amazing talent who deserves to start this game.
Curtis Joseph - A huge fan favorite in Toronto, CuJo was the shining light after Potvin left.
Mike Palmateer - Solid netminder for Toronto when the overall team wasn’t amazing. He helped keep them afloat.
Ed Belfour - Number nine all-time for Toronto in wins, and played at leasttwo2 seasons less than everyone above him. Great goalie.
Grant Fuhr - A Hall of Fame talent known for playing with the Edmonton Oilers, but a great Leaf as well.
Those are some pretty impressive names. Great players and great Leafs. This could be one hell of a team if a lot of these guys accept the invite to play in the Alumni Game. Wow, I’m getting excited!
Who else do you think could be invited for play for the Alumni Leafs? Send in your thoughts!
Follow Adam Davis on twitter @adavis_29
Thursday night I was watching the Lakers play the Celtics at the Garden. Boston isn’t the team it used to be, but neither are the Lakers. Both teams shot below 40 percent from the field. It was a classic LA vs. BOS grind it out game. And I loved it even though I’m a diehard Clippers fan. But it didn’t start out that way. Kobe Bryant forever altered my life as a basketball fan.
Ever since I can remember, I had been a Laker fan. If you were born in the late 80′s and frequented The Great Western Forum in the mid-90′s, you were a Laker fan. I went there so often, at the tender age of eight, I could name you the entire roster of the purple and gold. I would make my way down the arena to meet Vlade Divac postgame – which happened often back in the day – that is, players forming a relationship with those responsible for their large salaries.
A seven-foot Yugoslavian was, well, not too intimidating. He looked like a giant lovable panda bear – all bearded and pale. That is the Laker team I miss. The one that fielded the likes of Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones in the backcourt. Cedric Ceballos on the wing, Elden Campbell on the block. I was even at the game where Magic attempted a comeback. It was odd seeing an overweight guy in short shorts and a Laker jersey, but unfortunately, he was before my time. He actually managed to have a pretty remarkable game for someone who was not just positive, but HIV +.
I attended a game where Grant Hill, then with the Detroit Pistons, hit a ridiculous heave to send a game into double-OT (which the Lakers won). I saw the Lakers play the Seattle Sonics in the playoffs, down 20 at one point in the game, only to storm back and wipe the floor with Seattle’s tears. I was a Laker fan. HUGE LAKER FAN. I hated Boston with a passion, mainly because Paps would make certain that no one in his house would ever root for a Boston franchise. It worked.
Then came Kobe. The 1996 NBA Draft. The Charlotte Hornets drafted the son of former NBA player, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant out of Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia with the 13th overall pick. The GM at the time, former Laker great and “The Logo”, Jerry West decided to strike a deal, one that would forever change the landscape of the Lakers. The team that had yet to recover from the loss of Magic. The franchise that hadn’t won a championship since the 1987-1988 season, quite a dry spell for the second largest market in America.
I remember quite vividly that for my 10th birthday in 1998, my dad took me to the NBA jersey store at Century City Mall – when the Submarine restaurant was still thriving. We entered the store and I was immediately in heaven. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been one of the biggest jersey advocates ever. Ever. Dad turned to me and asked, “Which one do you want?” I responded confidently, “Eddie Jones.” Now this was a big moment in my sports fan life. Would I follow the trend and go with the young prodigy, the number eight Kobe Bryant jersey?! Or would I stick with the dude who I had seen light up the Great Western Forum for a few years already?
Then came ‘The Conversation’. Dad took me outside of the store, got down on one knee to make sure he was eye level and simply asked “Are you sure you don’t want Kobe?” To which I again, responded “No, I want Eddie Jones.” We re-entered the store, purchased the number six (because the Lakers retired Gail Goodrich’s 25 after Jones had already been wearing it for a few years, forced a change in number) as well as a pair of Laker shorts – and I had it all.
To this day that decision may haunt me, but I stick by it. I grew up watching my Lakers. They were my team, my first NBA love. Kobe’s arrival on LA soil didn’t seem to bother me because I didn’t know what was about to happen. How could I?! I was only 10.
Vlade was the first of many casualties for my beloved Lakers. Ceballos was a virtual non factor in the league after his LA departure. Shaquille O’Neal, a seven-foot behemoth, came in from Orlando – and that was the end of my team. Van Exel and Jones remained Lakers for a few years as Kobe was only 18 and coming off the bench for the coach at the time, Del Harris. A few years passed and Van Exel was gone, Jones was shipped to Charlotte (go figure?!) for Glen Rice, and the rest is history.
The Lakers hired Phil Jackson to replace Harris and they went on to win three straight titles from 2001 to 2003s, with Shaquille sweeping the Finals MVP awards. At this point I had already moved on from the Lakers, I had to. I was a young, uninformed NBA fan. I loved the players I grew up watching. To see a completely different team wear the purple and gold was devastating. So I began following the latest sensation, Jason Williams in Sacramento, while subtly attending LA Clipper games at the Sports Arena.
Since Kobe came into the league, he has, without question, been the hardest worker in the game. And that may come as a surprise because he already had the talent to be the same type of player as Tracy McGrady. But he wanted more. He was hungry. This guy had three rings playing alongside the most dominant force in the NBA. Not only three rings, but THREE STRAIGHT RINGS. The last time a team had a three-peat? Michael Jordan’s Bulls. Everyone knows that.
Kobe Bryant then drove Shaquille out of Los Angeles after a dysfunctional, court-date-laden year blew up in Lakers’ PR face. Headlines were all about the internal rift, rather than the team steadily progressing through the NBA playoffs. It all came apart in the Finals when they went down to the Detroit Pistons in five games.
Kobe’s face buried in his ‘Forum Blue’ Laker jersey in the Sports section is still posted on my bedroom door to this day. Seeing him fail has always brought a smile to my face. Finding ways to hate on his late game performance, his shots per game, and the like has been my goal ever since his arrival destroyed my team.
I love to see Kobe Bryant fail, but my jaw drops every time I see him play. Without question. The shots that he can hit? There isn’t another soul on the planet who can do what he does. After 15 seasons in the league, the things he can do are literally mind boggling. “I hate you Kobe Bryant, but god damnit do I respect you.” I pinched myself real hard while typing that out. I have to inflict some type of physical pain upon myself when giving Kobe props. Because he killed my Laker love. I’ll always be a fan of LA first over everything, though.
I met Kobe over the summer, and to my dismay, he was actually a chill dude. He was trying to get a table at Joe’s – an upscale restaurant in Venice, CA at around 2:45 p.m., but the kitchen closed at 2:30 – restaurant policy. They turned him away. To my dismay, I saw him leave while eating there on my boss’ dime – I quickly ran out to meet the guy that turned me off my Lakers.
Not only was he a nice guy, but because the girl who attempted to capture my first photo with him failed – he was nice enough to take a second. Not only that, I also told him after the first (failed) picture that the Clippers will be taking over LA. AND HE STILL TOOK THE PICTURE. AGAIN. I hate this guy because his mere presence destroyed my team. But after being turned away for a late lunch and a failed first picture attempt, AND having taken a shot at the Laker pride, he STILL felt inclined to take yet another one. I have a newfound respect for him as a person. His play on the court is another story, however. He is a legitimate assassin. Unstoppable.
Back to Thursday night’s game, there was no way I could actually root for the Celtics to win that game even though I hate the Lakers. I hate Boston too much. I’ve only been there one time, and it was less than 25 hours, and I will forever hate that city. It’s encoded within my DNA. My psyche was messed with as a child. LA pride will always stay with me. Maybe that’s why I drifted toward the (formerly) pathetic Clipper franchise. They were still LA.
On Thursday, I was consistently in awe of Kobe’s shots, even though he missed a few and was bailed out by Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol tip-ins late in the game (and yes, as he missed, I smirked). But after 15 seasons and a miraculous knee surgery in Germany, Kobe is as good as new.
You have to respect this guy. As much as I will never get over the fact that his arrival marked the ultimate exit of my favorite Laker – that’s you Eddie Jones!!! – his game is literally a mirror image of Jordan’s. If there is ever someone to compare to His Airness, it’s Kobe. Kobe has proven time and time again (along with his five rings) that he comes through in the clutch. The Lakers travel to New York and you know he will kill it. And you know what? I can’t root for New York either. EVER. So Friday night I will be rooting for Kobe and the Lakers. If not for him, for LA pride.