NHL Moment: Goal & Rats

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Well boys and girls, the offseason is winding down and only a few weeks sit between us and the new NHL season. Team Canada and Team USA have already opened their Olympic camps for the winter games in Sochi, Russia, and the wheels of the hockey world are beginning to turn. While only being about a month away from hockey, there is still not too much going on in the league, so we’re going to continue our look back at some of the best moments in the NHL’s past. For one of our last installments, we take a trip to South Florida to visit with one of the NHL’s youngest franchises and perhaps a fanbase’s most unique celebration.

The Lead Up:

The Florida Panthers are not the most prestigious NHL franchise to say the least. The team has been a perennial basement dweller with a sprinkling of success mixed in. The team’s most successful season by far was 1995-96. In fact, from the very beginning, it was clear that this season would be very different from years past. While preparing for their home opener against the Calgary Flames, a rat was running amuck in the Panthers locker room. As you could imagine it was probably a comical scene, until veteran Scott Mellanby showed the rat the business end of his hockey stick, shooting it across the room and killing it. That night, using the rat-murder weapon, Mellanby scored twp goals and the Panthers defeated the Flames, 4-3. After the game, All-Star Panthers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck referred to the locker room incident and Mellanby’s resulting game by saying, “He just missed the hat trick, but he got the rat trick.” Coincidentally, 1995 was the Chinese “year of the rat,” and South Florida was well onboard with that. After the Panthers scored a goal in their next game, a lone plastic rat was tossed to the ice by someone from the hometown crowd, and each home game and home goal after that, the amount of rats increased.

The Moment:

The Florida Panthers rode the wave of the rat all the way to the Stanley Cup Final that season. After every home goal for the Panthers, the fans would litter the ice with plastic rats, causing a long delay and opposing netminders to crouch inside their net for protection from the decorative rodents. Once in the Stanley Cup Final, the Panthers quickly went down 2-0 in their series against the Colorado Avalanche, before returning home for Game 3. This moment is a bittersweet one for Florida fans (both of them), because the largest rat toss that Florida ever saw happened on June 8, 1996 when Jamie Sheppard scored a goal to tie Game 3 at one. While at the peak of the playoff run/rat wave, thousands of plastic rats were tossed to the ice, causing an extended delay while 25 members of the stadium crew dressed up as Orkin Exterminators (Orkin paid a pretty penny for this sponsorship) picked up the rats. In his typical fiery and defiant nature, Avs’ Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy refused to take shelter in his net, and went as far as to speak to the team at intermission and declared “no more rats.” True to his word and fitting his illustrious career, Roy did not allow another goal the entire series as the Avalanche went on to sweep the Cinderella Panthers.

Remnants of the “Year of the Rat” can still be seen today during the rare occurrence that the Panthers make the playoffs. Every time the team wins a playoff game, you can still see a handful of plastic rats tossed to the ice at the end of the game. It seems that the extremely small die-hard fan base in Florida respects traditions as much as any other (albeit larger) fan base in the league.

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Pat Davis
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Fantasy “Start Em Or Sit Em”

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Ahh it’s time to offer up some “Start em Sit em” advice and though its not as epic as offering pre draft insight it’s still fun. The obvious weekly basis starts  (Brees, Peterson, Megatron, Graham etc.) will not be mentioned.

 

– Note: This was done before the Thursday Game but did not run on the site !

 

Start em

QB

Matt Ryan: Matty Ice is playing in New Orleans. I repeat, Matty Ice will be going up against the Saints defense. Expect a shootout between him and Brees. ‘Nuff Said.

Andrew Luck: Luck’s starting his sophomore season off against Oakland at home. You can expect him to try and get ahead of the Sophomore slump whispers and the opportunity to take advantage of what will most likely be a lack luster defense, is only going to help.

 

RB – I think outside the obvious RB 1’s there are some sweet starts to either plug into that RB2 or your flex slot.

Shane Vereen: At Buffalo you can expect the Patriots to do two things offensively. Run the ball, and get Tom Brady on page with his new weapons. I think Vereen will get a few carries, more receptions, and close to 100 total yards and a TD.

Daryl Richardson: Going up against Arizona DRich isn’t exactly a safe bet, but look for the Rams to split him out wide. He’s the Rams starting RB. I think he comes out and shows he deserves that role. I bet you he catches 50 passes this year as a nice little bonus for PPR owners.Ben Tate: If you’re searching for a nice RB 2 or flex option Ben Tate is another worthy start.  Adrian’s not getting a full workload the first game according to Gary Zubiak. Tate’s gonna get more touches than usual, and he runs really well in that zone run system.Ahmad Bradshaw: I like his chances against Oakland. I like anyone’s chances against Oakland but Ahmad is a good back. Indy will always look to establish the run whether its with Bradshaw or Ballard is a different story. This week I like Bradshaw.

 

WR

Hakeem Nicks: Nicks hasn’t been getting the love he deserves in drafts, many owners have him as their 3rd WR and/or flex guy. Nicks is in a contract year and football players like getting paid. He’ll want to start well and despite common belief, Nicks is Eli’s favorite target especially in the red zone.

Danny Amendola: His value really shot up by the time owners were drafting so he may be a WR1 in most cases inevitably making him an obvious start making him a guy who should go unmentioned. I don’t care some got him as their WR2 and some guys even have him as their flex. So here it is. Start Amendola, he may not play a full 16 game season judging by his injury history. But he’s playing this game, and he’s going to score points.

Kenbrell Thompkins: Another Patriot receiver. The hype is oh so real. Start the man if your flex is still up in there, just play him. I’m thinking he’s a sure bet for 6-8 receptions and maybe more. PPR gold as I’ve said before. TDs may be his only downside due to the Pats love of the play action pass to the TE. But he’ll score a few.

Greg Jennings: This is a bit of a weird one. I find it funny he’s somewhat of a no name fantasy receiver this year. Jennings can play, his QB is horrible but the Vikings’ intentions are clear. They desperately need to make defenses respect the deep ball even if its just a little bit. Giving Adrian a little more room will pay off big time, they drafted Patterson who I think will be involved, but Jennings is the proven receiver. I think they’ll try to get him the ball deep right off the bat in week 1 to get it on tape for opposing defenses coming later in the year. I think he catches a TD in this game, and a long one.

 

TE

Zachary Sudfeld: While I’m not exactly sold on this guys hype despite my bias being a Pats fan I think if you’re going to play him, nows a pretty good time. Ron Gronkowski isn’t expected to play and any time that’s the case Sudfeld should probably make your lineup.

Julius Thomas: Again I’m trying to stay away from obvious guys to play. I think if you have a choice between say Greg Olsen and Julius Thomas you should start Thomas this week. Olsen is playing Seattle and Thomas has been drafted as a backup pretty consistently in fantasy drafts this year. If not check your waiver wire and get him. More on Olsen in the sit em part of this spectacular article.

 

Defense/Special Teams

New England: They’re playing Buffalo and though they’ll struggle with Spiller like any defense they should have fun with the EJ Manuel experiment.

Tampa Bay: Tampa for two reasons. Darrell Revis gets his revenge on the Jets and Geno Smith is absolutely horrible and is starting for NY. This should be a ridiculous year. Play any defense playing the Jets every week!

 

Kicker

No one should have backup kickers! Play who you got sonny!

You never see specific predictions like this! Cover 4 baby.

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Sit em

QB

Both Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton will have their worst weeks this season in week 1. But you really can’t sit Rodgers and in many cases you can’t sit Cam either. Both are playing the best defenses in the league (Rodgers @SF, Cam has SEA at home) so if you have excellent backups with good match ups then I don’t blame you. I’m scared for Rodgers’ life going against the best pass rusher in the game in Aldon Smith with a rookie left tackle to boot, and Cam well, he likes to run so he’ll be taking hits from a very physical Seattle defense no matter what. Scary stuff. If you drafted right you start whomever you took first at the QB position however these are two guys to look at.

 

RB

Arian Foster: Head coach Gary Zubiak has said they will gradually get him involved in week 1 considering he didn’t play a snap in the preseason. Ben Tate may be getting more carries in this one or the Texans may be bluffing. I like Tate more than Arian week 1.

DeAngelo Williams: Please don’t play this guy against Seattle, please don’t.

Eddie Lacy: Welcome to the NFL rook, have fun against San Fran, Pat Willis and company.

Isaac Redman: If you don’t have to I wouldn’t. He is going to start for PIT for awhile while Bell is out but he’s a fill in at best. That’s something you shouldn’t have to worry about week 1.

 

WR

Wes Welker: I’m not so sure Peyton is impressed and I think he’d probably even rather have Stokely I’m the slot considering he’s worked with him for so long. Give Welker time to get accustomed to what Peyton wants from him I don’t think you’ll get much from Wes early.

Steve Smith: Smith is facing one of the better cornerback tandems in the league in Browner and Sherman. They are massive compared to Smith and just as fast. He’ll struggle. If you’re sensing a theme you’re getting it, stay away from Carolina guys this week with Seattle in town.

Cecil Shorts: Love the guy but he’s simply not as talented as Blackmon and Gabbert is awful. Play KC’s defense is very underrated and should have some fun playing Jacksonville.

Anquan Boldin: I hope you didn’t draft this guy to start him. Don’t think you’ll be happy this year. He’s a big physical guy who will help block for the run game. He’s very similar to the type of player Hines Ward was.

 

TE

Greg Olsen: Carolina guy taking on Seattle. Olsen is far from a safe bet. However I do think if anybody scores on Carolina not named Cam Newton, it’ll be this guy.

Owen Daniels: I’m so over this guy as a legit starting TE for fantasy teams. He’s so boring.  Never anything spectacular you’re better off going for someone with high upside like a Sudfeld or Pettigrew. Maybe even Rob Housler from Arizona.

 

Defense/Special Teams:

Buffalo: I think they’ll be improved this year but they have Tom Brady in week one. If they’re defensive line shows up they’ll do alright.

Atlanta: Enter Drew Brees.

 

Kickers

Enough with the kickers already!

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Oh yeah, tell your friends too!

Christian Stinchfield
Sports Activist for The Cover 4
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