Yeah, I'm slackin'. I know. My head is hanging in shame over here.
Does buying tix today redeem me in some way? Yes? Well, I'll join the Philly faithful at the Wachovia Center (will it become CitiGroup Center now?) for the home opener in 209. Feel free to stop by and say hello. I'll be the chick with a beer, a pretzel, and her pen and paper ready to go for note-taking.
On to the real business at hand...part two of the heavy passes required to garner my attention for the established guys this season. For your review tonight: the forwards.
If you like stacked, this is the frontline for you. I mean, we had seven guys with 20 or more goals last season...a league best. And whodda thunk that of the Broad Street Bullies, right?
Mike Richards: Really, do I have to write something here? Love the guy. Like K+B on the D, Richie makes the super sexy plays and the everyday ones, too. He's the captain. First place I'm going for the home opener is shopping. This is one of two Tshirts I'll be picking up that night. Pretty much says it all. (And I'm going to squee so hard when he faces off with Cindy Crosby at some point this season...*sigh*)
Daniel Tiny!Briere: I propose a deal. I'll try to reduce the number of my verbal smack-downs on him if Danny tries to improve on his +/- rating. (Seriously, how bad must it have been to see that -22 hanging around on the site all summer long?) My biggest hope is that getting his first season in, building better communication with the "new" team, and now forming part of the core will boost him into being what we're paying him to be. Yeah, shutting my mouth now.
Simon Gagne: Ah, yes, the question mark. I really want Gags to be back in a big way. Heck, I'll actually take an average way. Practically anything is better than watching his cranium resemble an egg shell. It just seemed wrong to not see him flying around sans helmet in warm-ups and pushing pucks into the net.
Joffrey Lupul: The curly hair! The blue eyes! The back-to-back hat-tricks! The absolute nightmare of Hatch's attempted first degree homicide by mistake! Last season, Lups had a little of everything going for him: skill, talent, hardship. Is it wrong to say I can't wait for the second season?
Scott Hartnell: I kind of like Scott, even when his points come from open net goals. (Somebody has to score them and they count just like the really pretty ones, which is not to say that Scott didn't have a some pretty ones last season.) I also appreciate the hustle and the stick-to-it-ness. Then there are the times when he's clearly agitating the hell out of someone...
Riley Cote: Riley is perhaps the best the person to model a double black-eye in the NHL. If you need someone crazy enough to take on the crazy guy from the opposing team, Riley is your man. Looking for hockey to really cross over to MMA? Riley has been working on that for a little while now.
Mike Knuble: My favorite Latvian-descended American born in Canada! Knuble hangs near the front of the net and sets other people up or bounces one in on his own. Every team needs at least one of those around. Another role he fills for the team: cheerleader. Mike stays positive in his interviews and speaks well of his teammates.
Scottie Upshall: I'm a bit ambivalent about Scottie. He's speedy. He likes to score. He's just a teensy bit undisciplined. The truth is it's a contract year and he'll be an RFA. You know what that spells? Potential trade bait. Sucks, but true. If Scottie plays like he did last season, management may have to reconsider shipping him off to another team.
Jeff Carter: Blondie! Break out the tasteful gray suits and fire up a playoff round so we can see the return of the most well-kept beard in the NHL. Carter has stepped up his game each season. He filled in when we had point-scoring leadership gaps due to injury. He also had times where he was the poster child for my consistently inconsistent rant. Jeff's off-season price tag came to 3-years, $15 million. I think he could be worth it if his moving-on-up trajectory continues, but it won't take much for me to pull out some lines usually reserved for Tiny!Briere during the 2007-08 season.