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Penalty Box: The Christmas Rush

by Shawn P. Roarke / NHL.com

Obviously, Crashing the Net readers are procrastinators of the same order as CTN himself. How else to explain the small mailbag this week? Surely, the loyal Crashing the Net crew must be out fighting the mobs at the mall to find those last-minute gifts for the loved ones. CTN still has a number of gifts to procure for the special ones in his life, but it will get done. Hopefully, the e-mails will pick up again after the holidays. Don’t forget, you can pay a visit to the Penalty Box by sending your e-mail to roarkeblog@nhl.com. Remember to include your name and hometown. Until then, it’s not about quantity, but rather quality. This week’s mailbag revisits the standings’ conundrum that has been a running them for the last three weeks and also addresses on several levels the upcoming World Junior Championships. Happy Holidays to all the Penalty Box loyalists.

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Shawn,

With the institution of the shootout, the NHL declared that there will be a winner and a loser in every game. The next sentence in that press release should have been that the points’ format was going back to two points for a win, none for a loss. Under the current system, the League awards points for an "almost win." What's next? Half a point on your stats for hitting the post on a shot? Half a shutout for letting in the only goal of a game in the last minute? Maybe a player should only get a one-minute penalty for shooting the puck out of the defensive zone if he is off balance.

If you want a system where there is a winner in every game, award the points accordingly. Sure, you won't have many 110-point seasons, but what does it really matter? 55 wins is 55 wins. Win, 2 points; loss, 0 points. End of discussion. Oh yeah, and how about playing each team in the League once at home and once away?
Regards,
-- Jeff Edlund

Jeff, CTN thinks you have overstated your position for emphasis sake. At least CTN hopes that is the case. CTN still doesn’t understand though what the big deal is about the points’ system in place. It is the rules the teams play by and they know it going in -- so it is fair. And, the League does not offer a point for an “almost win.” Rather, it offers a point for a tie achieved in regulation time, something that has gone on for longer than CTN has been following hockey. In CTN’s humble opinion, there should be a tangible reward for playing your opponent evenly for a full 60 minutes. CTN would be loathe to eradicate that incentive.

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You forgot about Sweden's Patrik Berglund in your prospects’ column. The kid's an absolute stud. He'll be a first-line center for the Blues in a couple of years. NHL, be warned.
--Marcus

Marcus, my friend, thanks for the warning about Berglund. CTN, however, did not forget Berglund. Last week’s Opening Faceoff was not about the best 15 players at the World Championships; but, rather, it was 15 players that CTN is looking forward to seeing take their game to a new level and seize the “Hero Time” placed before them. Berglund does not need to do that. He is already a star and has a NHL contract in his back pocket. He most likely will join the NHL next year after finishing his current season with Vasteras in the Swedish Elite League. Berglund will, unquestionably, be one of the stars of the tournament if Sweden hoes to contend for a medal.

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Hi CTN,
Just wanted to say thanks for the coverage of the WJC in your column. In Canada, this tournament is as much a part of Christmas as Santa Claus and snowball fights, and I look forward to the puck dropping on Boxing Day. It seems that internationally, even in the US, the WJC is an often-overlooked tournament. I feel that people consider it to be "just kids playing" and don't get too involved in it. But it's such a fun tournament to watch! Especially when you see the WJC stars from last year making their mark on the NHL this year (Carey Price, Jonathan Toews, Pat Kane...). Anyway, thanks again for bringing this fantastic tournament to the forefront. Just for fun, what do you think Canada's chances are of making this year a four-peat?
Go Canada Go!!
-- Greg, Montreal, QC

Carey Price

Greg, thanks for the compliment. As usual, any kind words are appreciated by CTN. Anything that CTN can do to spread the word about the World Juniors, CTN will do. The tournament is one of the special events in hockey, although CTN fears that it is almost becoming too big. In the end, we do have to remember that there are just kids playing – extremely talented kids – but kids, nonetheless. Yet, with that said, it is near impossible not to get excited about the thought of seeing the NHL’s future on display today. There will be so many talented players at this year’s tournament that it is hard to pick out one or two to rave about. This year, NHL.com will have its best coverage to date of the tournament. NHL staffer Brad Holland will be in the Czech Republic and we will also have a stable of freelancers at the event. Our previews begin later this week, so stay tuned to NHL.com for all your WJC needs.

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I was reading your article about the WJC top 15 prospects and I was surprised that you left Kyle Okposo out of the article.
-- Doug Fletchers

Doug, as CTN explained to Marcus earlier in the mailbag, last week’s Opening Faceoff was not about the 15 best prospects at the WJC – a list Okposo would certainly qualify for – but a list of 15 players CTN would like see step to the forefront. Okposo was one of the layers that carried the United States in last year’s tournament and CTN expects him to be even better this time around. He has owned college hockey for the past two seasons and can join the Islanders – as a top-two line forward – virtually whenever he decides. Okposo will be one of the most exciting players on display in the Czech Republic and will likely lead the Americans in scoring. With those qualifications, Okposo did not really qualify for CTN’s Opening Faceoff list of unsung players that are in position to take center stage at this year’s World Juniors.

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