There are people who are put in our lives to inspire us. Who make us realize life really isn’t that bad. The kind of people who take the bad things in life and build upon them turning them into something beautiful and inspiring. Nowadays those people are a rare find  kind of like a shooting star. You search for them. You hope for them. One day you find them and they change your life. Today you can put your search on hold for I am introducing all of you to an inspiration. A young man who has taken a bad thing and molded it into something good.

I would like to introduce you to Roger Morris Ice Hockey Alum and current Bakersfield Condors player Chris Kushneriuk. While training for the current 2012-2013 season Chris began to have stomach pains that gradually worsened. What they thought were kidney stones turned out to be testicular cancer.  Most people would become depressed upon realizing their life is hanging in the balance. On top of  that the thing Chris loves the most, playing hockey, would have to be put on hold for the duration of treatments. Most people would have a hard time coming to terms with this situation. Chris Kushneriuk is not most people. His outlook on having cancer is incredible. In an October interview with Gary Heeman, writer at Uscho.com, Chris Kushneriuk stated :

When something like this happens, you really look at life in a different light and you see things differently. I really appreciate things more like family and friends — the true finer things in life, not the material things. I wake up every day excited for having another chance to fight this.

It doesn’t stop at this statement either. If you take a look at Chris’ twitter (@stonecoldkush )  you will see what kind of person he truly is. Chris leaves treatment updates. He tells people he’s never met to have a blessed day. Chris thanks all of those who send him well wishes. He tries to keep his attitude on the situation positive. This man took something so horrible, so dreadful, so ugly, and turned it into something beautiful. Chris is taking delight in his weakness and making it his strength.

Tomorrow Chris will have a round of stem cell treatments and will begin high dose chemotherapy on Wednesday. Unfortunately these life saving treatments do not come cheap. ECHL players do not make much money. If you have the money please consider donating to help the Kushneriuk’s pay for treatments.  Below are a few options.

  1. The Robert Morris University Men’s hockey team is selling blue bracelets for $5 that say  “RMU HOCKEY KRUSHES CANCER.” You can send a self addressed envelope and Check or money order to :
    RMU Men’s hockey
    6001 University Blvd
    Moon Township, PA 15108
  2. You can make a donation through chriskushneriuk.org
  3. If you live in or around the Ottawa area there will be a fundraiser at the Great Canadian Cabin restaurant on December 15th. There will be many items up for auction including a Robin Lehner goal stick signed by the Ottawa Senator’s farm team the Binghamton Senators. The restaurant is located on York Street in the ByWard Market. Please consider going.

Every dollar helps. If you can’t give money please give your support and strength. Please consider taking a moment to pass this story around. It takes a minute to retweet, post this to facebook, or tell a friend about this incredible young man. Please keep him in your prayers, thoughts, hearts, and mind. Especially this upcoming week.

If you would like to learn more about Chris Kushneriuk I’ve placed a few articles and sites below:

 

 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

This is a broad look at the playoff picture with just over twenty games to be played by each team. There is still much hockey to be played but let’s dream while we can. So here is an overview of where teams currently stand and which teams I think will be the eight in the playoffs come April.

As of Sunday night, divisional leaders are the league leading Detroit Redwings(84), Vancouver Canucks(82), and San Jose Sharks(69). Similar to the Eastern Conference, there is one division leading the rest. The Central Division commands the 4th through 6th seeds, all of currently surpass the Sharks in points. The St Louis Blues, sitting in 4th with 79 points, were just recently rated by the players as the most underrated team in the league. Players Poll here. Nashville(74) and Chicago(71), who have not been great as of late, are still staying ahead of the surging Coyotes(67). Calgary(65) is sitting in 8th is just above four teams: LA Kings(65), Dallas Stars(62), Colorado Avalanche(62), and Minnesota Wild(61). The Ducks have also managed to make themselves slightly relevant over the past twenty games, climbing to within five points of the playoffs. Since this is a playoff discussion, the one and only time Edmonton and Columbus will be mentioned is in this sentence, stating that they will not make the playoffs.

Detroit has been unstoppable at home this year. 26-2-1 over the season at home and currently on a record setting twenty-three game streak. Away from their dome, the Redwings are much more mediocre, 15-15-1. For the love of everyone outside of Detroit, someone (yes, all of us in Central) needs to go on a huge hot streak so that the old guys in red have to travel away from Michigan to play their games. But otherwise, short of a few of their guys dying of old age, Detroit is a lock for their 21st consecutive post-season trip.

Vancouver is 8-0-2 in their last ten. Bobby Lou is playing well recently, which contributes to their battle against Detroit for the lead. They have no worries about seeing games in mid-April with Calgary, who is 17 points behind, is the 2nd team in the Northwest Division. Hawks fan’s need not worry about this team to the north, as Bobby Lou will fail as usual.

Swimming along in mediocrity, the Sharks are third in the conference only because Phoenix had a rough beginning part of the season. They are a good team but can’t seem to put together consistency this season. The red-hot Coyotes are surging along and will overcome San Jose by the end of the season. The only question is whether they can keep the lead over the Sharks once they take it. My guess is no and the Sharks will remain in 3rd.

The Blues will see the playoffs this year and most likely have a first round home advantage in the playoffs. As the most underrated team, they are a strong, defensively focused team that has improved on their scoring from last year. The Blues have the lowest GAA in the league and will rely on that strategy to pull them all the way through. To make any headway through the playoffs however, they will need to step up their scoring just a little bit.

Nashville is playing great, but not wonderful. They are holding onto 5th and will make it into the playoffs. Their scoring is slightly better than the Blues, but they allow many more goals against. Surprisingly, the Predators, with one of the best goalies, Rinne, and their highly touted defensemen have let in more goals than Phoenix. Their pickup, Hal Gill, will improve their defense and their PK. They could hang onto 5th but more likely end up at 6th.

The Blackhawks should regain their early season form and climb the rankings once again to overtake Nashville. The Hawks only downfall is their lack of depth on defense. After taking a 9 game losing streak, they have won three straight. Things that I have seen are an increased willingness to block shots, an improved PK which has been great over the past 4 or 5 games and not letting in any while shorthanded, but Chicago still cannot seem to score with the man advantage. If they don’t correct that soon, they will have a very tough time advancing in the playoffs.

This leaves us with our 7th and 8th seeds. Currently occupying those spots are Phoenix and Calgary. A quick reminder to who is sitting right underneath them; LA Kings, Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, and Anaheim Ducks. With information from the Stars that they traded Nicklas Grossman and Starstud’s article on how the Stars will be selling over the next week, you have to think if they have given up already, despite being just 3 points behind. With the trade deadline looming in just over a week and so many teams still in the hunt for a playoff spot, which other teams are going to toss in their hat this season and continue to build for the future. I see the Avalanche and the Wild joining the Stars as sellers over this next week. Anaheim will continue to make a run for it as well as the Kings.
Now, as far as which of the four teams will make those last two spots; Phoenix will not, as they were hot too early and will stop just short in the end, LA Kings will find some scoring over the next few weeks and pick it up to end up in 7th. Can Anaheim climb a 5 point deficit over Calgary with 24 games to go? Yes, and they will have made a run from 14th spot to 8th to let Teemu Selanne have one last chance at the cup. Unfortunately for them, they will be playing the Red Wings in Detroit.

Here are the playoff standings to where I see them sitting come April.
1. Detroit: 116
2. Vancouver: 114
3. San Jose: 99
4. St Louis: 111
5. Chicago: 103
6. Nashville: 99
7. LA Kings: 96
8. Anaheim: 95

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