2010 was one of the better years in recent memory in terms of hockey. We had the Winter Olympics, where the stars came out to play over an unforgettable two weeks in February. John Carlson became an American hockey legend with a gold-medal winning overtime goal in the World Juniors. We had the Windsor Spitfires, stacked to the brim with future NHL talent, run through the CHL en route to a second-consecutive Memorial Cup title. We also had the deep, young, and exciting Chicago Blackhawks capture the greatest trophy in professional sports, the Stanley Cup.
In the fantasy hockey world, a lot happened as well. The "big three" (Crosby, Ovechkin, and Malkin) became the "big four" (Stamkos) for a while, but that was quickly replaced by the "big one," as Crosby took the Penguins on his back for a wild 25 game ride. The Sedin twins showed that not all players are finished developing in their late 20’s by taking the leap to superstardom at the age of 29. We saw a rise in the number of teams opting to go with the two-headed goalie attack. Ilya Kovalchuk was the story maker of the 2010 offseason, and the fallout has been an interesting saga to say the least. Let's get to it…
10. The Price is right, after all.
Hindsight is 20/20, which makes writing year-in-review pieces very nice. Montreal was lambasted for trading playoff hero Jaroslav Halak this summer. Carey Price had struggled under the enormous pressures faced in Montreal for the past two years, and he showed no signs of breaking through last season. The Habs had a hunch he would turn things around. Throughout his career, Price has been praised for his mental toughness. He has the Grant Fuhr mentality – it doesn't matter if you stop every shot as long as you find a way to get the win.
Price dominated the AHL as a rookie, and he rose way ahead of schedule to the NHL. His hot start at the top level created unrealistic and unattainable expectations in the minds of many, and he was being set up by himself to fail. Halak taking the starting spot away was a wakeup call. Being handed the starting spot back this summer after failing to earn it was probably a bigger one, though.
9. Washington's shifting philosophy.
After another playoff disappointment, the Capitals vowed to change their team style heading in to 2010-11. The high-octane offense was effective during the regular season, but in the playoffs, Washington struggled to battle through the stifling checking and sublime goaltending possessed by the Montreal Canadiens. You can bet more than a few Capitals were doing a happy dance upon hearing about the Halak-to-St. Louis trade news in the summer.
We are approximately halfway through the season, and the results in Washington have been mixed. Mike Green is struggling, as his risky offensive style has been dialled back. Trying to restrain Green is foolish – let your Ferrari’s be your Ferrari’s. Alex Ovechkin has unpurposely morphed into a playmaker – he seems to be playing with less confidence than in years past. The Capitals finished last season 16th in goals allowed, and they currently sit 11th in that category – a small success. However, this is a team that really be placed under the microscope until April.