Boring but valuable
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Mark Eaton's 2006-07 statistics won't get you excited:
Games Played: 35
Not exactly numbers that will have you consider dropping Nicklas Lidstrom from your fantasy squad.
And if this were a true indicator of how noticeable Eaton is on the ice, a search for "Mark Eaton" on YouTube yields only these two one-ice "highlights" of the Penguins blue-liner:
Getting tripped by Sergei Gonchar.
Getting ridden into the boards by San Jose's Jonathan Cheechoo.
But Eaton's lack of flash certainly doesn't mean he isn't one of the team's most valuable players. You could even make an argument he was their most valuable based on last season's numbers.
Statistics prove the Penguins were a far better team last season with Eaton in the line-up than they were out of it:
Additionally, Eaton is far and away the team's best shot blocker. Compare Eaton's shots blocked per game average last season to the other top six shot blockers on the Penguins:
In our book, shots blocked is perhaps the most underrated statistic in hockey. It's not something you accomplish do by "being in the way." It's requires a sense of timing and a lot of guts.
We're certainly not campaigning for you go to buy a Mark Eaton jersey anytime soon. (Although we would shake your hand if you did.) All we're asking is for you to just be aware of what this guy means to the Penguins.
Shelly Anderson helped us get to know Eaton a little bit better today.
EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS
Sidney Crosby has a sore groin. Time to fire Ray Shero.
From the Who Didn't See This Coming Department, the Islanders beat the Rangers in a fight-filled overtime game, 5-4. The preseason contest was the first meeting between Ryan Hollweg of the Rangers and Chris Simon of the Islanders since March 8 when Simon tried to chop Hollweg's head off with his stick. At one point, all six players on the ice, including the goaltenders, were brawling.
The best part of this was Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro seemingly instructing his counterpart with the Rangers, Al Montoya, how to remove his equipment in order to fight.We really think the Rangers just wanted to beat the snot out of anyone willing to wear anything as ugly as the Islanders' new uniforms.
Don't expect to see former Penguins defenseman Darius Kasparaitis in a Rangers uniform this season.
For what it's worth, we wouldn't be very eager to see him back in a Penguins uniform either.
The Bruins traded forward Mark Mowers to the Ducks for two minor leaguers.
Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, defenseman Mathieu Schneider and center Sami Pahlsson will begin the season on injured reserve for Anaheim.
Forward Bobby Ryan, the player the Ducks took with the second overall pick in 2005, will open the season with Anaheim. He's spent the last two seasons in the OHL and AHL. The player chosen before Ryan has had a slightly better career up until this point.
We're willing to bet Colorado's T.J. Hensick isn't at the top of your fantasy league depth charts.
Patrick Kane, the player chosen first overall by the Blackhawks in this year's draft, has some pretty lofty aspirations for this season.
Scott M. Reid of the Orange County Register recently wrote a report on concussion in the NHL. It's some pretty eye-opening stuff.
Also from the Orange County Register, columnist Mark Whicker wonders what the heck the NHL is doing by opening the season in London. We're betting the Register's sports editor will wonder that too when they file this month's travel budget.
On the hand, Sportsnet's Pierre LeBrun, and of the Canadian Press, thinks it's a good idea.
Before the play the Ducks in London the weekend, the Kings will play in an exhibition tournament in Austria beginning today.
James Mirtle put together this fantastic map of every city in North America with a professional hockey team. For some reason he included Philadelphia.
(Editor's note: Yes we know that the Phantoms of the AHL also play in Philadelphia so the joke really doesn't work because of that, but shut up. It's funny.)
Check out some of the brilliant artwork of Ken Henderson that lampoons the NHL. (Kudos to EN reader Gianni Vitucci of Hamilton, Ont. for spotting that.)
From the What's the Insurance On That Department, Islanders center Mike Comrie bought a $100,000 car for his girlfriend, actress Hilary Duff. Because you know she probably can't afford to buy it on her own or anything.Without EatonWith EatonGames4735Record22-16-925-8-2Points5352Winning percentage.564.743Shutouts24Goals For156121Goals Against15489Goal For Per Game3.323.46Goals Against Per Game3.282.54PlayerGames
Per GameSergei Gonchar821381.68Josef Melichar701311.87Ryan Whitney811181.45Brooks Oprik701141.63Rob Scuderi781091.39Mark Eaton35832.37Alain Nasreddine44741.68
First Published September 25, 2007 3:51 am