When news came out that Peyton Manning was going to be missing the entire NFL season, most people kissed any bets they made on the Colts goodbye. It seemed pretty simple, no Manning= no Super Bowl. However, not too many people expected them to fall this badly. Yesterday they lost again and are now 0-10. With every loss the legend of Peyton Manning grows (hang with me here, I know this is a hockey blog)

Yesterday I started thinking, is there a Peyton manning in the NHL?

No I don’t mean is there a really good player who will eventually go down as on of the best ever. What I mean is: Is there a player that is so good they are fooling us into believing a mediocre team is good?

As good as Sidney Crosby is, the Penguins are tied for top spot in the NHL without him (and did pretty good last year without Sid AND Malkin), so he is not a candidate.

Just to make it fun, we will look at past and present.

Here are some candidates:

Pekka Rinne- Nashville

Is there a more mediocre team than the Preds? Since the lockout, their leading scorer has averaged 66 points (The last two years have been 50 and 51) . There are many that believe that Rinne has put himself into the NHL elite goaltender category, I am one of those people. They have the 18th ranked offense in  he NHL yet are somehow 8-5-3. Last year the Preds had 44 wins: 17 of those wins came when they scored just 3 goals, two wins came when they scored just 2 goals, and they had one game where they gave Rinne a single goal of support. Without him, this team could be last in the conference.

Tim Thomas- Boston

I know this seems like a really obvious answer, but Bruins fan may not agree. Remember the question is if you take the player away, do they have a chance to plummet to the basement. Tuuka Rask is widely regarded as a really good back-up goaltender, but lets not forget, he LOST the starting job last year. In fact, he was 11-14-2. However, the Bruins did have a top-5 offense. If Tim Thomas had a season ending injury in training camp last year, do they win the Cup? Probably not. Do they finish last in the East: Probably not again.

Mario Lemieux- Pittsburgh

Mario is in that Peyton category as “one of the best ever”.  However,  Mario is in the category of “missed a ton of games in his career”. He had some great Pens teams surrounding him in their best years (One player can’t win 2 cups on his own) . Lets look at one of the greatest individual seasons in NHL history: 1992-93. Mario and the Pens werr on a crazy pace for the first 40 games going 27-9-4. Then Mario announced he had to leave the game because he had cancer. He missed 20 games and the Pens were 11-8-1. Hardly a plummet to last, but a drop nonetheless. When he returned for the final 20 games: 15-4-1.

Martin Brodeur- New Jersey

Here we have the age old question: Were the Devils successful because of Brodeur or the trap? Would they have won 3 Cups if say Chris Terreri was forced to  be their starting goalie? Would they even make the playoffs? Lets not forget the Devils are one of those rare teams that missed the postseason the year AFTER winning a Cup, and Brodeur played 77 games that year! He is a definite Peyton possibility.

Even after writing this , I see there is no clear answer. Help me out…do you have any NHL Peyton Manning’s? Comment or tweet @robpizzo


To the links we go

A lot of eyes have been on the Sabres over the last couple days…will they respond and “Man Up”? (Pro Hockey Talk)

Hey, did you know Battle of the Blades is almost over? me neither (Puck Daddy)

Want to get hammered while watching tonight’s Habs-Sabres game: Here’s how (Barry Melrose Rocks)

Score Nation reminds us that we shouldn’t forget about Marc Savard

Are the Caps dipping into Hershey for some help on their blueline? (CSN Washington)

FREE LUCIC! (Days of Y’Orr)

I’m a big fan of cheesy hockey headlines, and so are the guys at The Royal Half

The dude who painted Brent Johnson’s helmet failed English…that’s Unpossible (The Pens Blog)

What exactly is the Role of Sean Avery? Blue Shirt Banter takes a look

and your “Man that had to hurt” moment