Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Kerrzy’s Notebook: The Gift of Gab

Marian Gaborik made his return to the Minnesota Wild lineup on December 17th after missing 27 games with an unspecified “lower body injury,” and guess what? He’s already been out again with an injury.

The oft-injured Slovakian sniper has five points in six games this season, but has a groin made out of wet paper – creating a problem for real and fantasy General Managers alike.

Here’s the thing – despite missing 83 games since the lockout, Gaborik has still managed to put up 211 points in 195 games (as of the Christmas break), including an amazing 113 goals (22 of them game winners)...and his contract is up after this year.

If you’re the GM of the Wild, do you stick with your club’s first ever draft pick and offer him a big-money deal? If Minnesota passes on Gabby and you’re the GM of any of the 29 other NHL teams, do you take the risk?

He’s got the statistics in the games he actually plays to demand big money, but he is always injured.

Only Alex Ovechkin and Dany Heatley have a higher goals-per-game average than he does since the 2005-06 season…but only Peter “Robo” Forsberg has a weaker groin!

Speaking of band-aids, New York Islanders goaltender Rick Dipietro also missed 27 games before the Christmas break this year and is already back on the shelf too.

After recovering from knee surgery, DiPietro was healthy just long enough to record a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Boxing Day (his first win since February 28th), but is now out with a sore groin.

In that 28-save win, the 27-year-old also notched his 14th NHL assist, moving him past Billy Smith on the Isles all-time franchise list for points by a goaltender.

It’s a shame he’s out of the lineup again, the Islanders need all the offence they can get right now!

Columbus Masonry

Masonry: Walls built by a Mason, using brick, stone, tile or whatever they make goalie pads out of.

Steve Mason started the season on the injured reserve of the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, the farm team of the Columbus Blue Jackets, but since being called up to the big club he’s been nothing short of amazing.

When I sat down to write this, Mason had a 11-7-1 record with a league-best 1.78 GAA, a second place .935 save percentage and four shutouts, also good enough for second behind only Roberto Luongo…not bad for a rook!

Speaking of Bobby Lou, Mason’s four shutouts give him the highest total for a rookie since the 2000-01 season when Evgeni Nabokov had six, Luongo had five and Brent Johnson had four.

Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets though, they found out this past week that the second half of their dynamic rookie duo would have an early end to his season.

Hull, Quebec’s Derick Brassard was told he would need season-ending shoulder surgery just before the Christmas break. Through 31 games, the 21-year-old Brassard was leading all rookies in scoring with 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists).

That’s a tough break.

Let’s Make a Deal

We’ve all seen Mats Sundin’s dumb PokerStars.net commercials…

The NHL has seen them too, and they’re apparently looking into his contract with the poker website.

According to an article I read in the London Free Press, the league says no one involved with a team can be linked to an outfit or competition that involves handicapping or predicting the scores of its games.

Pokerstars.net is a “free” site, while their sister site Pokerstars.com is one of the most successful cash poker rooms on the web. The sites often have commercials that look (to me) like them trying to convey poker as a legitimate “sport,” next to other actual sports.

Sundin should be okay on this front though, because thankfully for him, his biggest gamble was signing on to play for the Canucks!

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