For the first few editions of the new and improved Hump-day Report, I’ll be describing what each segment represents and what its title means. Once a new segment is introduced in later editions, it, too, will be described under the header.

The different segments, and their descriptions, will be added to a link and posted at the bottom of future columns. I hope everyone enjoys!

The HCMT Floating “A” Award

Awarded to the player who plays like a leader for a prolonged period of time, but doesn’t have/deserve to be wearing an A on his chest full-time. Named for the only man who could (or, technically, couldn’t) pull off something like this: former head coach Michel Therrien.

Bill Guerin

Now I know that Bill Guerin was the captain of the New York Islanders before coming to Pittsburgh, but the absence of a letter on his chest puts him back into the category of the enlisted men. Guerin is the epitome of the HCMT Floating “A” award.

This was captured best in one of Pittsburgh’s games last week against the Los Angeles Kings when Guerin came up to the guys that were developing in a scrap after the period. He told the guys that it was no big deal and it was nothing to worry about, especially since Pittsburgh, at that point, had a 4-0 lead.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that he’s recorded 10 points in nine games played for Pittsburgh.

So, Mr. Guerin, you’ve earned the inaugural HCMT Floating “A” Award.

Tap of the Stick/Drop of the Gloves

Who gets respect in the hockey world (tap of the stick) and who deserves a good punch in the face (drop of the gloves).

Tap of the Stick: Martin Brodeur

I know this is old news, but I’d like to give a tap of the stick to Marty. In passing Patrick Roy with his 553rd win, Martin Brodeur became the winning-est goalie in NHL history. Brodeur is still two shutouts behind Terry Sawchuk for leading that all-time column as well.

Drop of the Gloves: Alex Ovechkin

Now I’m not going to focus on his celebration ethically because it’s been beaten to death lately. Nay, instead, I will be focusing on it choreographically. Let’s break it down:

Ovechkin used his stick as a prop. Come on! This is old school: riding it, using it like a shotgun. Don’t you have anything new and fresh? How about a moonwalk? I mean you’re already on skates…so that shouldn’t be difficult. What about acting like the puck is a biscuit and butter it up…something unique.

In all seriousness, though, any player celebrating what Mike Milbury accurately described (for once) as a “me goal” is uncalled for regardless of who scores it…be it a top line sniper or a defensive minded player who averages 2-3 goals a season.

Now I’m no Don Cherry, but I do know that the last thing the NHL needs is a wide receiver.

Stanley’s dishwasher

The team(s) whose performance shows they don’t want to make the playoffs.

Buffalo

The Buffalo Sabres have proven to the rest of the Eastern Conference that they do not want to make the playoffs. Going 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, Buffalo has remained in tenth place however has dropped to 76 points. This puts them five points behind the ninth place Florida Panthers, whom they play tonight.

On a side note, goaltender Ryan Miller has begun to practice, once more, with the Sabres.

Dallas

The mirror image of the Sabres in the West are the Dallas Stars.

They’re riddled with injuries and are struggling between the pipes. Marty Turco has been having a tough time keeping pucks out of the net, while Mike Ribeiro has been treated like an over-worked dog to compensate for the losses the Stars have taken.

Dallas has gone 7-12-1 in their last 20 games. In a jumbled Western Conference playoff picture, that’s not going to be good enough. If the Stars don’t stop dropping games faster than one can say “Sean Avery,” then they are going to be spending the playoffs with the Sabres as Lord Stanley’s Cup washers.

Barrel of Monkeys

What team has really come together, recalled by one of the 80s and 90s greatest, most entertaining toys.

Columbus

The Blue Jackets are the team that I believe have earned the first Barrel of Monkeys award. Their mold of youngsters and veterans is a mirror image of successful teams nowadays who have succeeded using the same format (i.e. Pittsburgh). Columbus is 14-5-1 in their last 20 games played, excluding last night’s overtime loss in Tampa Bay. This is one of the league’s best stretches all season.

Rick Nash has ignited with his teammates that have been provided by GM Scott Howson. Not only that, but his leadership has greatened as well. Youngsters turn to Nash for guidance…and he’s no old-timer himself at the ripe age of 24. I know I’d take advice from a guy with 188 goals, 155 assists, and 343 career points in his sixth NHL season.

Another thing bringing the Jackets together is the goaltending of Steve Mason. Few would’ve thought that this guy was going to be a household name at the end of the season (well, in those households that pay attention to hockey anyway). Mason has 9 shutouts along with a 2.23 GAA and a .919 save percentage. Not too shabby for a rookie.

These things combined have the Columbus Blue Jackets in sixth place in the Western Conference, where they hold a four point lead over Edmonton. Columbus, you’ve come together like a barrel of monkeys.

Killer Whale

What’s been killing the Penguins lately, named for the real Penguins’ most feared hunter.

Blue shirts

I enjoy a change in the usual every once in a while. And I love to see hockey, especially the NHL, getting back to its roots. But I think the Penguins’ third jersey has proven itself a curse. Now don’t get me wrong, I think they’re a great thing for the team but every time they need to win a key game, and they wear the powder blues, they lose (that rhyme was unintentional).

The latest of these incidents occurred Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers. When they showed the crowd, there was an identity crisis. Half wore blue, half wore black and gold (then there was the pink flash of the cotton candy man, but that doesn’t count). I don’t suggest they stop wearing them, as that would be a huge loss in marketing…but maybe we can cut it back a bit as to how often the Pens wear them.

You might be saying to yourself that I’m being too harsh. I think Stevie Wonder put it best when he sang “Very Superstitious.” It’s a little known fact, but that song is actually about hockey…Wonder is a closet hockey fan.

Well, I hope this week’s column was informative and entertaining for all. I’ll be back next week: same time, same place.