Five best Christmas TV shows/movies:
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Goes without saying that this is a holiday classic, and note the hockey reference (even if it is a Chicago Blackhawks jersey).
- A Charlie Brown Christmas – More hockey references in the Peanuts cartoons, and the piano interludes are catchy.
- The Grinch Who Stole Christmas – No one waxes poetic like Dr. Seuss.
- Scrooged – My father plays this movie every Christmas. Doesn’t Bill Murray play the classic jerk?
- Love Actually – A bit of a chick flick, but it’s the movie my wife and I can agree on every Christmas. There are several storylines in this movie, including a washed-up English rocker named Billy Mack who is hilarious.
If you prefer the classics, there’s always Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Carol, the Alistair Sim version.
Five best Christmas songs:
- Happy Christmas (War is Over), by John Lennon – Simply the best Christmas song ever.
- Twelve Days of Christmas, by Bob and Doug McKenzie – I’m a Canadian hoser, eh?
- Christmas in Hollis, by RUN DMC – Just a catchy tune, and I liked RUN DMC growing up.
- Blue Christmas – The Elvis Presley version is good. The Porky Pig version, even better.
- Do They Know It’s Christmas, by Band Aid – A reminder of what the holiday season is all about.
If you prefer the classics, there’s always any song from the White Christmas album by Bing Crosby and It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams.
Five players who will improve after Christmas:
- Ilya Kovalchuk – It can’t get any worse, after all.
- Drew Doughty – Too much natural ability to be putting up the kind of numbers he has this season.
- Martin Brodeur – Three of his five wins are shutouts, so the Devils’ struggles aren’t entirely his fault.
- Tyler Myers – Showing signs of improvement in December (+4), and gelling with new defensive partner Andrej Sekera.
- Taylor Hall – Getting better and better as the season is going on, and so are fellow young Oiler teammates Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, and Linus Omark.
Five players whose production will drop off at least a little after Christmas:
- Dustin Byfuglien – See if you can flip him for an elite player.
- Tim Thomas – He’ll continue to post solid numbers, but Tuukka Rask will factor into the goaltending equation more.
- John-Michael Liles – Already slowing down a little, and the Avs are starting to rely on Kevin Shattenkirk even more.
- Ondrej Pavelec – Prove to me that you can rely on an Atlanta Thrashers goalie for an entire season.
- Milan Lucic and Claude Giroux – The NHL’s two leaders in shooting percentage, who will experience a resulting drop in goals once the inevitable shooting percentage decline occurs.
Five players who are for real this season:
- Carey Price – Not just because he played hockey in my hometown, but also because the Canadiens are a top four team in the Eastern Conference in my opinion.
- Kris Letang – A perfect example of a post-hype sleeper.
- Logan Couture – Leading the Sharks with 15 goals. Expect him to be a Calder Trophy finalist this season.
- Ryan Kesler – Now that you can add first-unit power-play time to his arsenal of weapons.
- Ryane Clowe – Even if his production slows down a little, you can still count on him for penalty minutes.
Five players who will continue to struggle:
- Sergei Gonchar – Injuries over the last few seasons plus the emergence of Erik Karlsson mean that the Sens probably regret this signing.
- John Tavares – While we’re on the subject, how about the whole Islanders team as well?
- Marty Turco – This year’s Cristobal Huet.
- Alexander Frolov – I don’t see it happening this season. Still owned in far too many leagues.
- Dion Phaneuf – He might be a good match for the Leafs on a real-life level, but not on a fantasy level.
Five second-half sleepers:
- Kevin Shattenkirk – Surprisingly, there’s still time to grab him in some leagues.
- Magnus Paajarvi – As mentioned earlier, the whole Oilers team is improving, and he is the youngster most likely to be available in leagues.
- Corey Crawford – This year’s Antti Niemi.
- Max Pacioretty – An AHL scoring star this season, he will either be a top-6 forward in Montreal or back in the AHL. I’m not sure which one yet.
- Evgeni Nabokov – He’ll end up somewhere this season. Don’t add him yet, but keep a close eye on where he lands.
The five most interesting stat lines:
- Ryan Whitney – 31 games, zero goals, 24 assists (sixth in the NHL in assists)
- Ilya Kovalchuk – (-18) – It’s like he’s still playing in Atlanta.
- Zenon Konopka – 29 games, one goal, three assists, 107 penalty minutes, 268 faceoffs won
- Nikolai Zherdev – 30 games, 11 goals, two assists
- Brian Rafalski – 20 games, zero goals, 16 assists
It’s time to start my Christmas shopping, so I’ll wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happy holidays! If you wish to debate, you may do so below.
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