James Wisniewski was suspended for two games yesterday, for making a lewd gesture toward Sean Avery. That's right, I said Sean Avery. It's probably the only time in his career Avery will be on the opposite side of an incident like this. When asked about the incident, Wisniewski played the dumb puppy routine, claiming that he didn't remember enacting the gesture and saying "A lot of actions on the ice are regrettable, I've been given a suspension from the league, and I'm going to accept it and move on from here." At least he is taking it and moving on. Avery spoke out on it earlier saying ""Can you imagine if I did that? They sent me to rehab the last time I did something. It's crazy." He is right though. He himself created the double standard he now sees.
Niklas Hjalmarsson was also suspended yesterday, for an identical two games, albeit for a completely different incident. The incident in question was a hit that was called boarding in the game. The sentence was handed down and it was very much based on the injury Jason Pominville received from the hit. As much as fans don't like it, the league does (as Bob McKenzie pointed out) suspend based on injury. Should Hjalmarsson have been suspended? Maybe, but McKenzie made a good point. Since this is Hjalmarsson's first offense, if you suspend him, its a lot more likely that he changes his game as a result and becomes a smarter player in that situation 20 games down the road.
Some teams are getting absolutely hammered by injuries. The Calgary Flames are probably at the head of this. Missing Ales Kotalik, Daymond Langkow, Rene Bourque, Matt Stajan and David Moss only two games into the season. That's a huge glut of forwards to lose and it really hurts. The Devils had to ice 15 skaters as a result of the cap and injuries (the NHLPA is now investigating) and other teams are also dealing with loses of key players. The Islanders lost Streit, then Okposo and now Tavares, further hurting their chances at playoffs. Other key players out are Savard, Staal, Lupul, Kuba, Prospal (whispers even mention his career being over) and Peter Mueller.
Some possible breakout candidates who are more established (played more than one season in the NHL) include Eriksson, Kessel, Stastny, Hanzal and Perry. Eriksson is one of the most underrated wingers in the league and could push his point total up to 80 points this season. Kessel, with a full season and more established chemistry with Bozak and Versteeg, could hit 40 goals this season. Versteeg with extra time on the top line, could hit new career highs. Paul Stastny has the ability to be an 80-point center and some experts believe he has what it takes to jump up to 90 points. Hanzal will get time on the Coyotes top line and could push past his personal best of 35 points. Perry could push himself into the league's elite wingers. While many will point to having two seasons in a row of 70 points, he did not have a full season with Getzlaf last year and having that this year could push him upwards of 80 points, even going towards 90 points.
49 rookies made opening rosters across the league this year (thank you hockeysfuture.com). Seguin, Hall, Burmistrov, Fowler, Skinner and Niederreiter made their respective rosters straight from the 2010 draft. Hall headlines an impressive rookie trio in Edmonton, which also includes Paarjavi and Eberle (if you havent seen Eberle's goal yet, check it out). These three alone give Oiler Nation incredible hope and are enough to make every team in the NHL jealous). Derek Stepan also made a name for himself, by becoming only the fourth player in league history to score a hat trick in his NHL debut. The rookie class this year is very strong and could make the run for Calder as exciting as it has ever been.
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