The key players you should know about while watching the world's fastest sport.
As we all know, the Olympics are happening! Winter hats are in style, it’s not considered xenophobic to sport USA-branded everything, and if you’re up at 1AM you can flip on the TV and catch a bunch of Norwegians shooting rifles while cross-country skiing. Best time of the year. But there’s only one true reason why we love the Winter Olympics, and that’s ice hockey. But since this is America and not Canada, you probably don't know jack shit about hockey. Lucky for you, we're here to help with a cheat sheet to the best players who will face-off this week.
(Photo: Scott Audette / NHLI via Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2014)
Kessel started his NHL career with the Boston Bruins in 2006 and was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009. In 60 games this season he’s got 31 goals (second in the NHL) and 65 points (fourth in the NHL). He seems to be hitting his stride this year, and is on pace to break his season-high record of 37 goals from 2011-2012.
Right now, Patrick Kane has 63 points, fifth most in the NHL. He’s only five points away from the second place Ryan Getzlaf (and Sydney Crosby is too far ahead of the pack at this point to even be part of the conversation). In the last Winter Olympics, Kane finished six games with three goals and two assists. Since then, he’s won two Stanley Cup Championships and the Conn Smythe Trophy (the Stanley Cup MVP for you n00bs) in 2013. As long as Kane can stay out of trouble in the athletes' village, he should make a difference for Team U.S.A.
Other Americans you should know: Keep a lookout for John Carlson, T.J. Oshie, Kevin Shattenkirk, Cam Fowler, and James van Riemsdyk. We think these young guys are going to make some big plays this year.
(Photo: Frederick Breedon / Getty Images | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2014)
Disclaimer: We are not including Sidney Crosby here for two reasons: 1) He is the face of the NHL, and 2) We're still bitter about his 2010 overtime goal to defeat America in the gold medal round.
Getzlaf is a seasoned veteran. He’s been in the NHL since 2006, and has been a captain for the Anaheim Ducks since 2008. He also led the Ducks in scoring during the franchise’s first Stanley Cup win in 2007. This season he’s racked up 67 points (second in the NHL) and 29 goals (fourth in the NHL). It looks like Getzlaf will be playing alongside fellow veterans Patrick Marleau and Corey Perry in Sochi. Getzlaf and Perry have played together on the Ducks for years and will surely use that chemistry to net a few goals in the upcoming weeks.
Corey Perry led the league in scoring in 2010-2011 with 50 goals. That year he also won the Hart Memorial Trophy, which is given to the MVP of the NHL for the regular season. His career hasn’t tailed off since then either. He’s got 30 goals and 30 assists, making him third overall in total goals and sixth overall in points. He’s got a Stanley Cup under his belt and a whole lot of chemistry with his Canadian brethren, who won the Gold in 2010. Perry is definitely a name you should remember if you’re trying to pick up that girl in the Canada jersey.
Other Canadians you should know: Drew Doughty and Shea Weber are two of the best defensemen in the NHL today, and we anticipate John Tavares, Jeff Carter, and Patrick Sharp will also make some noise on offense.
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