Not a pretty game, that’s for sure.
In the pre-game show, we get to see a nice little piece on Kyle Turris, the superstar freshman at the University of Wisconsin. Seems as though his father, Bruce, is a former professional lacrosse player and he taught his son the game, but Kyle ultimately chose hockey for a career. We also learn that Bruce Turris is an economist, but Kyle couldn’t say it when he was a kid, so he told all his friends that his father was a ‘communist.’ Classic story to tell the kids someday…
Coming into today’s game, goalie Julius Hudacek was the story for the Slovak team. He went undrafted in the NHL, but he played incredibly well yesterday against the Swedes, stopping 46 of 50 shots in a heartbreaking loss. The only goals that he allowed against Sweden were of the power play variety (3) or shorthanded (1). He was expected to continue that performance in today’s game against the Canucks.
Yesterday’s game against the Czech’s saw the Canadians take penalty after penalty, and I’m happy to say that the penalty total for the red and white was lower this time around, but that doesn’t mean that the refereeing was any better. More on that later…
This game wasn’t exactly the best game to watch. It seemed as though neither team could really get things going. Sure, there were a few players who played great – Kyle Turris and Drew Doughty come to mind – but the overall play by the team was not stellar. This team is known for winning faceoffs to control the play (they won 68% of their faceoffs in the first game, with a number of players winning more than 80%), but I don’t think they won half of their faceoffs today. And then there was Brandon Sutter…
I will start off by saying that Brandon Sutter is one of my favourite players on this team. He doesn’t score a lot of goals, but he is normally great on faceoffs, and I believe that he will be one day win the Selke in the NHL because he plays a great defensive game. He blocks shots, makes big hits, and causes the opponent to turn over the puck. However, he hasn’t been that great in this tournament yet, and I believe that it’s because he is hurt. Sutter hit Michael Frolik yesterday in the first period and hurt his arm/shoulder. He came back for the 2nd period, but he hasn’t been the same. Pierre McGuire noticed this too, and said that he is definitely hurt but playing through the pain like any Sutter would do. Today, it looked like he hurt his shoulder again, and potentially hurt his leg as well. He is one courageous kid for playing through it all, but I wonder how effective he will be in the long run. Hartsburg already gave Turris faceoff duty because Sutter doesn’t have the strength to win faceoffs. Team Canada does have a 13th forward in Tavares, but he doesn’t have the defensive mindset of Sutter. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, for sure.
As you will notice at the top of this piece, Canada did manage to score two power play goals. The first, from Turris (Alzner and Doughty) came in the second period while Canada was up on a 2 man advantage. The insurance goal came late in the third period when Drew Doughty was skating in the neutral zone, made a nice spin-o-rama play to avoid the Slovaks and get back into the offensive zone, identified Kyle Turris going to the net and made a slick pass that Turris lifted over Hudacek.
The Good about the Canucks – A Defensive Minded Team
It’s a little hard to lose a game when you don’t give up any goals. Canada’s defensive core is solid, and the goaltenders have been the best players on the ice. It’s not often that goalie will earn a 44-save shutout, and then sit out the next game, only to watch the other goalie earn a shutout of his own. Here’s the million dollar question for Hartsy – who’s the starting goalie? Bernier or Mason?
The Bad about the Canucks – Where are the Goals?
Sure, Canada is winning, so it’s hard to really be down on scoring, but these last two games were games that Canada was ‘supposed’ to win, and the results could have gone either way. The power play is working pretty well, although it looked a bit flat at times today, but the Canucks only have one even strength tally in two games. If their offensive unit doesn’t start to make things happen soon, then the winning streak may snap before the end of the tournament.
The Ugly – The Striped Buffoons are in Europe too
Remember how I said that neither team could get things going? Well, do you think that 19 penalties could have an effect on the flow of the game?
Granted, some of these penalties are justified, but a number of them made you want to yell obscenities at the television or computer. Sure, the Europeans don’t like the North American style of hockey with all of the hitting, but they were dishing out penalties to players – Slovak and Canadian – for stupid reasons, and the Slovaks got the dirtier end of the stick today. The refs truly seem to want to take any kind of physical play out of the game of hockey. As McGuire likes to say, “That was 2 minutes for being strong.”
And how’s this for a stupid penalty: the puck goes up and over the glass (which is a measly three feet high), and Turris goes to the box for delay of game. This one had me scratching my head because, in international hockey, it’s not a penalty. And it’s not as though Turris did it on purpose.
Three Stars of the Game
(1) Kyle Turris, with 2 power play goals
(2) Steve Mason, with the shutout
(3) Julius Hudacek, with 32 saves and keeping his team in the game
To close things up, here’s a Team Canada stat – they haven’t allowed an even strength goal for more than 375 minutes of play. The last one scored on Canada was by Bill Sweatt in Game 2 of last year’s WJC.
For more WJC coverage, make sure to check out Faceoff-Factor.com
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Not a pretty game, that’s for sure.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
This game was a lot closer than the score suggests.
Before the game, Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire gave us a little history lesson. At the WJC, Canada has an 8-0-2 record against the Czechs, and the last time they didn’t win was back in 1993 when the game ended in a tie.
So, to the game we go. The Czechs aren’t believed to be contenders for the gold medal, but they still have some firepower up front. Michael Frolik is making his fourth appearance at the WJC and is one of the most dangerous offensive players on the Czech team. Pair him with Jakub Voracek, and you have a line that is hard to contain, so Coach Hartsburg matched that line with his shutdown line of Brandon Sutter, Stefan Legein, and Wayne Simmonds.
Stamkos took an elbowing penalty not long into the first period, and the Czechs looked energetic on the PP. It actually turned into a 5-3 PP after Logan Pyett took a hooking penalty, and the Czechs managed to have several great chances, but Jonathan Bernier was solid from the very beginning.
Speaking of Bernier, he was the reason why Canada managed to get through the first period without giving up a goal. The Czechs were strong and had 13 shots on goal going into the intermission. The Canadians, however, were jittery in the first period, turning over the puck to the Czechs time and again. Drew Doughty seemed a bit nervous and he had a hard time controlling the puck, even turning it over to Voracek at his blue line, giving Voracek a great scoring chance.
The second period saw Canada score its first goal, with John Tavares scoring on the power play (from Steve Stamkos and Logan Pyett).
Canada extended its lead in the third period thanks to an even strength marker from Matthew Halischuk (Josh Godfrey and Steve Stamkos) and another power play goal from Tavares (Stamkos).
I have to give a lot of credit to the Czechs, however, for playing a great game. Goaltender Michal Neuvirth was solid and kept his team in the game with some big saves. Frolik and Voracek really tried hard to solve the problem that is Bernier, but they fell short this time. I truly believe that the Czechs could have won this game had Bernier been a little shakier in net.
The Good about the Canucks – Special Teams Rule
Although it was a slow start, they found their groove in the second period, especially on the power play. They scored twice on five power plays, and they managed to sustain pressure on the Czech squad.
The penalty kill was superb, as it was in the Super Series. The Czechs had 9 opportunities, but Canada shut the door on each one.
The Bad about the Canucks – Discipline Problems
This is always a problem for Canada in international competition: discipline. International rules are different from North American rules, and Team Canada always seems to parade to the penalty box. Some of the calls are complete and total phantom calls that make you want to yell at the refs for being stupid (and those seem to happen with more frequency in international games), but Canada took a lot of dumb tripping/hooking/holding penalties. It’s one thing to kill a penalty for a big hit, it’s another to kill a stupid obstruction penalty. My guess is that Hartsburg will stress this to his players between now and tomorrow’s game against the Slovaks.
The Ugly Whistles
There was nothing particularly ugly about the Canucks right now, but what I don’t care for are the whistles in the crowd. In North America, when something happens that we don’t like, we boo, some louder than others. In Europe, they blow whistles. Can you see the problem here?
The exact problem that I am thinking of actually happened back in May 2007 at the Men’s World Championships in Russia when Canada was playing Finland. Someone in the crowd blew a whistle and the Finns stopped playing because they thought that the refs blew the play dead. They didn’t, and Canada scored. The Finns were upset, and rightfully so – I wouldn’t want my team to give up a goal based on a rogue fan blowing a whistle.
Three Stars of the Game
(1) Jonathan Bernier, stopped 44 shots for the shutout
(2) Steve Stamkos, 3 assists
(3) John Tavares, 2 goals, even though he was limited to just a few power play shifts
This game was particularly important for Hockey Canada because it was their 19th consecutive win at the World Juniors, a streak that dates back three years and is now a tournament record. Prior to tonight’s game, Canuck goalies have had a save percentage of 0.951, and the Canadians have outscored their opponents 86 to 20 in 18 games.
For more WJC coverage, including recaps of each game, check out Faceoff-Factor.com.
Monday, December 24, 2007
With the World Juniors just days away - less than 2 days, in fact - I thought I'd share some stories that I found on TSN.ca from past WJC. The TSN crew that normally covers the WJC - Bob McKenzie, Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire - all answered a series of questions about past Championships that they have covered, and there were some good stories.
Here's the cream of the crop (and all in their words, from TSN.ca):
What was the best or worst place you ever spent the holidays while covering the World Juniors?
McKenzie: It is difficult to rate the best or worst but I can say this: There is perhaps nothing quite like a New Year's Eve in Helsinki, which is to suggest the level of imbibing there probably exceeds anything I have seen anywhere in my life, but in terms of a "you had to be there to believe it" Christmas or New Year's Even moment it was in Ostrava in the Czech Republic at the 1994 WJC.
We were staying in a nice hotel in Ostrava, which is a mid-sized industrial type city, and it was New Year's Eve and TSN had purchased tickets for all of us for a New Year' Eve dinner/dance in the hotel ballroom. The dinner was quite nice, a band, sort of an Eagles knock-off, was playing and the place was packed with a big cross-section of people. There were obviously some local people, as well as a bunch of NHL scouts and management types, many of whom had their families in tow, as well as a rather large TSN group.
Late in the evening, an hour or so before midnight, the band took a break and some sort of "show" began. If I recall, the first act was a pair of flamenco dancers or something like that, followed by a magician of sorts. The next act involved a woman, in what can best be described as an I Dream of Jeannie outfit, doing some sort of impressionistic dance. Adorned in many chiffon scarves and such, one by one they seemed to be disappearing. At one point, I said to the guys at our table, "Is it possible this woman is doing a striptease?" No, everyone said, because as we looked around we could see that there were many families in the ballroom and some teenage children. No way.
Uh, yes way. One thing to led to another and suddenly this woman was prancing around the dance floor entirely naked and if that weren't enough of a shock, she pulled out a large wicker basket and unleashed a very large and long live snake onto the floor. This being a family website and all, what happened after that is left to your imagination.
Eventually, the "show" ended and the traveling troupe exited the hotel into the Ostrava night. It goes without saying that the entire place was in a state of shock, almost as surprised as when much later that evening, while in the local "disco," the same flamenco dancers showed up there, only to be followed the same "show" that was put on at the hotel.
Ask anyone who was there at the 1994 WJC in Ostrava and chances are they have a story about the "Snake Lady."
As for one of the more memorable "forgettable" moments, if there is such a thing, was at the 2000 WJC in Skelleftea, Sweden.
New Year's Eve of a new Millenium was, of course, greeted with great fanfare worldwide. Skelleftea is located in northern Sweden, not too far from the Arctic Circle and is subjected to about 20 hours of darkness each day. Gord Miller and I plus some others were doing our best to ring in the New Year and the new Millenium.
Just after the stroke of midnight, Gord turned to me and said, "You know, Bobby, all my life I wondered where I would be when the year 2000 began and, with all due respect, I can assure it wasn't spending it with you in northern Sweden."
No argument there.
What is your favourite off-ice memory from the World Juniors?
McKenzie: I don't know that I would call it a favorite memory but I will not soon forget how cold it was in Saskatoon for the 1991 WJC. I have never been anywhere in the world - not Alaska, not northern Sweden near the Arctic Circle, not even Winnipeg -- where it was colder for longer than it was in Saskatoon that year.
Scouts still talk about that as "coldest ever." The warmest it got was minus-27 Celsius on one afternoon and most of the time it was minus-40, which is where Celsius and Farenheit meet. This wasn't a case of some thin-blooded Easterner not being able to handle prairie cold; it was cold for anyone. There was an outdoor rink across from the hotel and in the entire time we were there, some 12 days, I never saw a single kid skating on it. Their ears would have fallen off.
I remember on New Year's Eve, trying to walk three blocks downtown to go to dinner with my wife, son and nephew, and having to seek refuge in a building lobby after two blocks because the kids were almost crying it was so cold.
Other things that come to mind: the Great Alaskan Bush Company in Anchorage (don't ask); New Year's Eve in Helsinki; New Year's Eve in Gruyere, Switzerland (yes, where they make the cheese); New Year's Eve Y2K in northern Sweden; and, the LiquorDome in Halifax (Ed note: Ahhh, the Dome in H'fax...I've heard stories...haha). Are you sensing a pattern here?
What was the best individual performance by a Canadian player in the tournament?
Miller: Roberto Luongo had the best tournament I've ever seen from a Canadian player. The 1999 Canadian Junior team was goal-challenged (to say the least) and Luongo carried them to the gold medal game, which Canada lost in overtime to the Russians. Luongo was heroic in that game, and that tournament.
After the game, a reporter (not from TSN) asked Canadian coach Tom Renney if he thought Luongo was shaky on the OT goal. Renney almost jumped off the stage and strangled the guy.
What is your favourite off-ice memory from the World Juniors?
Miller: There are so many great off-ice moments, many of them spent in far-flung places with Bob McKenzie and Pierre McGuire, but one of my favourites is from the 2005 tournament in North Dakota.
Thousands of Canadian fans from Manitoba and Saskatchewan drove down for the games, but one night the highway was closed due to a snowstorm, meaning the fans could not return home. Local officials opened the domed football stadium, and nearly 5,000 fans spent the night there.
The officials later reported two things: that the Canadians pitched in and cleaned up the next morning, leaving the stadium in immaculate condition, and that they sold more beer that night than they sold in an entire season of North Dakota football.
I'm not sure which of those two things makes me prouder.
What is your favourite on-ice memory from the World Juniors?
Miller: My favourite on-ice memory is from the 1995 tournament, where the Canadians played the Czechs in front of a sellout crowd in Calgary.
After battling back to tie the game 5-5, Jamie Rivers - who had been driving the coaches crazy with his reckless decisions - decided to step up from the blue line and grab a loose puck. If he missed it, there were three Czechs, including Milan Hejduk, going the other way.
With coach Don Hay screaming "No!" from the bench, Rivers moved in and scored what turned out to be the game winning goal.
"Hero or zero," he said afterward.
What was the best or worst place you ever spent the holidays while covering the World Juniors?
McGuire: Let's start with the positives. The best one would probably be between Halifax and Vancouver. Those were two spectacular places. The fan-base in Halifax was so energized and the response was so positive. And in Vancouver, it was just such a big league environment and a spectacular array of buildings with a team that most people didn't think had a chance to win the World Juniors. And with a bunch of 18-year olds they really stepped up. That was arguably Brent Sutter's best coaching job on the international stage. He was spectacular in Vancouver.
The worst place I've spent the holidays? Well, there probably isn't one. Even Grand Forks, North Dakota - as cold and as harsh as it was - it's where my father was from and I brought my Dad there. I learned a lot about my family's history that trip - my Dad even pointed out his family's homestead where they lived.
I remember we walked around one night with Gord Miller Bob McKenzie and it was probably -45 Fahrenheit. As we were walking across the bridge over the Red River, my Dad looked at me and said, "The last time I walked across this bridge was VJ Day in 1945." He had three brothers that were serving overseas at the time. They were shooting fireworks off (to celebrate). That was the last time he'd been on that bridge.
That floored me.
He also told me about an uncle of mine that drowned in the river below years before.
So as tough as it was in North Dakota, for me, it was an unbelievable learning experience, one that I'll never forget.
What was the best individual performance by a Canadian player in the tournament?
McGuire: There's so many, that's really a tough one. I would say Dion Phaneuf and Shea Weber as the shut down pair for Canada at the World Juniors in Grand Forks. They just kept throwing them out there and throwing them out there. They were phenomenal, I mean, those guys were scary good. It was amazing to see how mature they were and how physical they were, especially when they had to face the Russians with Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin. They just destroyed those guys.
So I would say the two of them in an unheralded way. Everyone focuses on the point-getters, but these guys were so good defensively, so mature defensively, you just knew they were going to be impact players in the NHL pretty quick.
For a non-Canadian performance, Ovechkin would probably be the best one. Ovechkin was phenomenal (seven goals in North Dakota, which made the performance by Phaneuf and Weber even more impressive).
Another guy who was great in terms of an individual performance was Zach Parise in Helsinki the year the Americans won the gold medal. He was the Player of the Tournament that year. That was amazingly impressive.
What is your favourite off-ice memory from the World Juniors?
McGuire: Before game one in Finland, producer Jon Hynes saying in my earpiece that the (production) truck had blown up, and that every replay we were going to do was going to be blind. So I had to pick the replay out and tell them exactly what I wanted to show. Then they had to tell me when the tape was rolling and I just had to fly blind - without using a video monitor - for about a period-and-a-half to two periods.
What I really remember was the composure level of the staff. I remember how composed Franklin Rubenstien (stats) was, and how composed Gord Miller was, and Jon Hynes (producer) and Paul Hemming (director) in the truck, and Jamie Brannigan in replay, Mike Mills (tape) and all those guys. I'll never forget that.
All Jon said was, "Pete, I've got bad news for you. The truck just blew up!" Nobody ever talked about it so I don't think anybody at home ever knew.
This is the important thing for me. It's such a privilege to do (the World Juniors), it's something you never take for granted. We've become an interesting little family that does a lot together. All the guys are all in it for the same reason - they love Canada, they love Team Canada and they love bringing the games back to Canada.
We've become each other's family, not by blood, but by work. We've had the same crew for a long time and we've seen a lot of different places - and nobody ever complains.
So with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas. I'll be back on Boxing Day (December 26th) to keep you up to date on the WJC - and be sure to check out Faceoff-Factor.com for WJC coverage.
Back on Thursday, November 15th, I wrote this:
[P]art of me is hoping that the Pens don't get past the Quarterfinals of this
year's Stanley Cup playoffs - assuming that they even qualify for the playoffs. A
really big part of me is hoping that they get the boot...
Since then, this is what has happened:
- Max Talbot and Marc-André Fleury have sustained high ankle sprains
- Ryan Malone has a leg infection
- Mark Eaton may be lost for the season with a knee injury
- There were a few embarrassments, like that Philly game. Ouch.
Is this my doing? Because if so, this wasn't what I was wishing for...
What's next? A pandemic raging through the entire dressing room - twice?
Thursday, December 20, 2007
The International Ice Hockey Federation has named the 2008 Hall of Fame inductees, and the list includes a new group of people: women.
For the first time in history, women will be inducted into the IIHF HOF. It's about time.
The list of players to be honoured in May at the World Championships include:
Angela James of Thornhill, Ontario
Geraldine Heaney of Weston, Ontario
and Cammi Granato of Downers Grove, Illinois.
Oh, and someone named Mario Lemieux will be honoured as well. I hear he was a pretty good hockey player.
This year’s Junior team has been in Europe for almost a week to do some team bonding activities – like give each other nicknames, or impersonate TSN legend Gino Reda (I’m talking about you, Stefan Legein). Oh, and they have also played a couple of exhibition games to iron out the ‘kinks’ in their play.
Let’s briefly recap these two games, shall we?
Game 1 vs. Red Bull Salzburg in Austria.
Final score: 5-0
Alternate captain Brad Marchand had two assists and was named player of the game on the same day that he was traded from Val d’Or of the QMJHL to Halifax for a 17-year-old player and 5 (!) draft picks.
Game 2 vs. Slovakia.
Final score: 6-1
Seventeen-year-old superstar John Tavares had two goals and a helper, and the other 17-year-old phenom Steve Stamkos is quickly making a name for himself as a solid two way player.
If you’ve ever watched Team Canada play in an international game, what quickly becomes apparent is the so-called lack of discipline by Canadian players. Referees in the international arena call the game differently, and the Canucks typically find themselves in the box for committing offences that wouldn’t be punishable in North America.
It really tests a team’s abilities on the PK, and it can make for some frazzled fans.
As usual, these two exhibition games saw the Canadians parade to the penalty box as if Santa himself was in there giving away an Xbox 360 to all who come and visit. Thankfully, the PK (penalty kill, not defenceman PK Subban) was money, just like it was this summer in the Super Series.
In fact, this year’s team appears solid all around – goaltending, defence, and offence. With so many players returning from the Super Series, and the new players adapting so well, I firmly believe that the Canucks have a great shot at the four-peat. They may not have Jonathan Toews, Marc Staal, or Carey Price, but they do have one fine group of young hockey players with tons of potential who want to win – badly.
"There's definitely a lot of pressure but we got a close bunch here and we know what we want to do together," said Matthias. "We want to bring home a fourth consecutive gold medal.
"We're going to do everything we can to make Canada proud."
And we are all pulling for them.
Next up: a third (and final) exhibition game against Finland on Saturday.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
What is the best hockey movie you have ever seen?
Mighty Ducks? (I dunno, some people think so...)
How about adding The Rocket to the list? It is a movie about the life of Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, and is definitely one of my favourites. I bought the DVD last Christmas and I've watched it over a dozen times. You can read a review of the movie at the PensBlog (in fact, it was their review that made me want to promote the movie even more).
While the lead actor is Roy Dupuis (who also played The Rocket in a Canadian Heritage commercial and in a TV biography), there are also a few NHLers making appearances.
Sean Avery as Bob Dill, an Englishman who hates French people.
And Vincent Lecavalier as Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau.
And Ian Laperrière as HHOFer Bernard "Boom Boom" Geoffrion.
Great movie. Get it. Watch it. Love it.
Friday, December 14, 2007
The Pens and Sabres will meet on January 1st to play an outdoor game at the Ralph Wilson Stadium. Sweet.
I originally wanted to make the trip to Buffalo and experience Ice Bowl in the flesh, but I thought about it – it’s not called “Ice” Bowl for nothing (or ‘Winter’ Classic, as the NHL calls it). It’s gonna be frickin’ cold, sitting there for three, four, five hours.
Just ask Georges Laraque.
Laraque was an Edmonton Oiler when the team played the Habs in the Heritage Classic on November 22, 2003, and it was c-o-l-d….-29C cold. But according to Laraque, it felt like -50C with the windchill. Ugh. That’s ‘snot freezing on your face’ cold. Not a pretty sight.
The guys had to wear toques under their helmets to keep their heads somewhat warm, they wore three layers of long-sleeved polypro underwear (instead of one layer), and few of them actually wanted to play.
"It was a game where you would rather be sitting on the bench than playing because we had heaters at our bench," Laraque said. "It was the only game I've ever been in when guys didn't mind being bench warmers! And, no one was complaining about a lack of ice time. On that day, it was not a bad thing to be sitting.”
Thankfully, Buffalo isn’t like Edmonton, so it is less likely that the temperatures will dip that low – but it is winter, so who knows. Maybe it will be a blizzard, or maybe it will be 10C outside and the ice will melt (roller hockey, anyone?). In any case, the weather will certainly be the story going into the game.
Laraque won’t be the only outdoor hockey veteran playing in “Ice Bowl.” Never mind the virtual Canadian tradition of playing pond hockey all winter long – I’m guessing a lot of players have engaged in this kind of fun stuff growing up – but Ty Conklin (current Pens backup) was the starting goaltender for Edmonton, and Ryan Miller (Buffalo goalie) and Adam Hall (Pens forward) played in the “Cold War” while studying at Michigan State in 2001.
What might be a bit concerning for Pens fans is the “Classic Curse” – the Oilers were on a roll going into the Heritage classic 4 years ago, but then lost 9 of the following 10 games, and had a 3-9-4 record over the following 16 games.
They missed the playoffs by 2 lousy points. Ouch.
But we can’t start worrying about that, otherwise it will certainly happen. No need to jinx things. We should just anxiously await this event, start planning the party…
I’ll be sitting in my room, watching the game on TV with a nice cup of hot chocolate, while thousands of people freeze their asses off.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Sidney Crosby, of course.
I think my post a couple of days ago was enough to help Crosby clinch the Award from the others. I am just that good. haha
But seriously, this is just the latest in a long list of awards that Crosby has won this year, and deservedly so. His competition for "Canadian Athlete of the Year" was stiff too:
Steve Nash (Victoria, BC): finished 2nd in NBA MVP voting
Erik Guay (Mont-Tremblant, PQ): won 5 medals on the World Cup skiing circuit
Adam van Koeverden (Oakville, ON): World Champion in the 500 m kayak
Steve Molitor (Sarnia, ON): defended his IBF super-bantamweight title in boxing...twice
But Crosby has them beat with his Ross-Hart-Pearson hat trick.
Monday, December 10, 2007
If you are looking for coverage of the 2008 World Junior Hockey Championships, I will be writing a series of articles for Faceoff Factor.
Tournament Schedule? Check
TSN Broadcast Schedule? Check
History of the Tourney? Check
Team Rosters? Check
Game Recaps? Check
You checking out the WJC coverage on Faceoff-Factor.com? Check
Ok, that's me being lame again...but seriously, I hope you check it out.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
This week, the media people will vote on the winner for this year's Lou Marsh Trophy (aka Canadian Athlete of the Year). It seems that it will be down to Sidney Crosby and Steve Nash.
Who will win?
Nash is an incredibly great basketball player. Two time NBA MVP. No question, he deserved the award when he won in 2005. But...
It's Crosby's year. He cleaned up at the NHL Awards in June. He was one of the major forces that led the Pens to a playoff berth last season - a season that saw a 47-point improvement over the year before. He is the face of the league, the youngest to be named a permanent captain of an NHL team, and the youngest in North American sports history to lead his league in scoring.
The last hockey player to win the Lou Marsh was Lemieux back in 1993. Canada is a country that takes pride in hockey (it's pretty much our religion), so why not honour the best player from 2007?
I truly, honestly can't think of another Canadian athlete who had a bigger year than Crosby, and I say that without bias.
So, media peoples of Canada: vote Crosby to win the Lou Marsh Trophy. You know you want to.
Now all we need is to find some Canadian athlete with the last name Stills....I know, that was lame.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Okay, I'm a bit of a nerd. I'm one of those freaks that will notice spelling mistakes and the occasional grammatical error (though sometimes I am guilty of those...)
I can also pick out a factual error now and then, and this one caught my eye as I was reading an article about Clara Hughes.
For those who don't know, Hughes is a Canadian athlete who started out in speed skating, switched to cycling, and then switched back to long track speed skating. She's also one of Canada's most decorated Olympic athletes.
At this weekend's World Cup event in Russia, Hughes placed second. Here's what CBC wrote:
Hughes claimed silver in speed skating's team pursuit at the Olympics in Turin
last year, to go with two bronzes she won in cycling at the 1996 Atlanta Summer
Games and a bronze in speed skating at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.
Okay, all of the above info is true. Hughes did win two bronze medals in Atlanta in cycling, a bronze in speed skating in Salt Lake, and a silver in Torino. But how in the world did they miss her GOLD medal in the 5000 m event in Torino??? I can still see her collapsing from exhaustion after her race.
Looks like somebody needed a fact checker for their article...
Friday, November 30, 2007
Eh, hiatus schmiatus. I'm bored and there's too much interesting stuff happening to not write anything.
So, here's a quick recap of this week in the NHL:
- Wearing black apparently means you're a thief. Tuomo Ruutu of the Blackhawks was arrested earlier this week after he was spotted jogging a mile away from the scene of an armed robbery, and he fit the description of the criminal. No worries though, as the Chicago PD realized they had their wrong man when they started questioning him. Kinda hard to miss that Finnish accent...Luckily, Ruutu thinks the whole ordeal is hilarious.
- The NHL's superstar goalies began the season on a sour note (think Brodeur and Luongo), but now they are playing like superstars again. Luongo has three shutouts in three games (whaaa??) and Brodeur's Devils are on a roll, blanking the Habs tonight. I guess they call these guys franchise goalies because they always rebound from a shaky game - or a shaky stretch of games.
- Speaking of Brodeur, his shutout against the Canadiens was his 94th career shutout and, when added to his 22 shutouts in playoff games, he is the all-time record holder for shutouts. Sweet.
- Pens win tonight, beating the Stars 4-1. I guess their little break did them good. Three-game winning streak, back at .500, Leafs game tomorrow night on HNIC...good times.
- Speaking of the Leafs - JFJ is still kickin' in Toronto. I'm a little surprised, as I thought Peddie's comments, although unprofessional, signaled a change to come. Sure, that change could come tomorrow, but I figured it would come earlier in the week.
- Ottawa's in a free fall. Five-game losing streak, Alfie out with a groin injury, and now Volchenkov is out for a month with a broken finger. Nothing like losing one of your top D-men to make a bad situation worse. The Sens better hope that Alfredsson's groin heals itself quickly.
Update (01 Dec): Ottawa lost to the Rangers. Alfie came back, but was the invisible man - except for a couple of secondary assists. That would be 6 straight losses, my friends...bad times.
- Party's over in Phoenix. The Coyotes had a great stretch of games when they got their hands on Bryzgalov, but the Russian goalie showed his human side tonight when he allowed 5 goals on 7 shots in the first ten minutes in a game against the 'Hawks. Chicago went on to win 6-1.
- Caps are still the worst team in the NHL. Twenty-five games, 8-15-2 = 18 points. Their closest 'rivals' for basement dwellers are the Kings and the Oilers, with 21 points a piece. I shouldn't bash them too much, though, since the Pens aren't all that far ahead..
- Gary Bettman, commish extraordinaire of the NHL, announced this week that the League may not allow players to play in the 2014 Olympic Games. His reason? Those Games are in Sochi, Russia, so it won't really benefit the NHL (like the Vancouver-Whistler Games), and the time change might be too rough on the players...funny, isn't this the professional sports league that is starting to play regular season games in Europe and is thinking of expanding across the pond?
I know a lot of people don't like seeing professional athletes compete at the Games, but I like to see the best of the best compete for the gold - if they happen to be pro, so be it.
- In probably the only 'real' change in the NHL this year, the League has decided to change the schedule for next season. Now, each team will play every other team. Here's the breakdown: 6 games against division teams (24 games total), 4 games against conference rivals (40 games), 15 games against the 15 teams in the other conference, and three 'wildcard' games. I am dubbing this the 'Sidney Crosby Schedule Change,' because Western teams have been complaining about only seeing Crosby in their respective cities only once every three years, and I agree with their reasoning and actually think that the schedule could divided so that each team plays in every other city. Oh well...
Enough from me...hiatus, continue.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
It's the end of November, and all students know what that means - FINAL EXAMS!!! ugh...I think I just threw up.
So considering what's ahead of me (exams, papers, presentations, blah blah blah) in the next 13 days, I decided to take a little break from the writing (not that I've been doing much lately anyways...I'm really sorry about that). After all, I want my $6,000 to not go to waste by failing the semester. That would be ideal...
With that thought, au revoir until the week of December 10th.
....but watch me break my own hiatus by writing something about JFJ's firing. We all know that Toronto's getting a new GM for Christmas, because the 'powers that be' in Toronto said that hiring JFJ was a mistake - not exactly the kind of thing you say if you plan on keeping him around. Mark my words, it'll happen this week (if not today), and it will be all over the news. Craziness...
Friday, November 23, 2007
I know, long time no post. What can I say, the semester is winding down, which means papers and assignments and presentations and exams. Lovely.
But that doesn't mean that hockey stops! In fact, I've been keeping an eye on things this last week. Here's what has happened so far:
- Capitals fire coach Hanlon and they hope to climb out of the basement of the League. Maybe it'll happen, maybe not - Edmonton, Buffalo, and Los Angeles aren't that far ahead of Washington. But I will say one thing: Ovechkin will have lots of time this summer to work on his golf swing. And hey, look at Philly in 2006-07, and now in 2007-08. Not the same team...literally.
- Penguins lost to the Devils and MT gave the evil eye to all who watched the post-game presser. I think he wanted to sucker punch some poor journalist to (temporarily) relieve his frustration.
- Penguins won against the Senators! The SENATORS, for crying out loud! Way to show up, fight through two 2-goal disadvantages and win a game against the best team in the NHL. Now let's see if the guys can do it again.
Now, let me talk about something that has me scratching my head. It's called diving, and not the diving you do in the pool. I'm talking about diving on the ice.
Ruutu, who scored the game winning goal in the shootout, was assessed a 2-minute minor for diving after being hit in the face/throat. Here's the kicker - Shean Donovan was also assessed a 2-minute minor at the same time for roughing when he hit Ruutu.
It's something I see time and time again...Player A will get a penalty for tripping Player B, and Player B will get a diving penalty for falling to the ice. I just don't understand it...it's not like they're all Sean Avery:
Is it just me, or does this seem a little stupid?
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Bryzgalov, the brand new goalie for the Phoenix Coyotes, must be glad that he's staying in the 'Sun Belt' of the US...Who knows what he would've done if Kevin Lowe had a chance to snatch him up. Probably run away like Pronger, Nylander, and everyone else.
The Vancouver Canucks finally found their offence and broke through Minnesota's defensive system to win Friday night's game 6-2. This was only the third win at home (in 10 attempts) for Vancouver.
The great thing about Vancouver's game was that the offence was spread out among the players - 6 goals by 6 players - rather than having the Sedin twins do most of the offensive work.
Defenceman Luc Bourdon, former Moncton Wildcat who was recently called up from the AHL, scored his first NHL goal - a power play tally late in the third.
As the entire hockey world must know by now, the Anaheim Ducks placed backup goalie Ilya Bryzgalov on waivers yesterday. Apparently GM Brian Burke tried to trade Bryzgalov, but there were no takers.
"Ilya Bryzgalovhas won three playoff rounds for us and has played very well. But we've committed ourselves to two other goaltenders in Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jonas Hiller. I told him if I couldn't find a place to play, I would put him on waivers. I gave his agent Don Meehan a time frame, and we're keeping our word to a player. As an organization, we find that to be important. He's a good kid, we know he'll get picked up and he'll play well wherever he goes. He's done his part for us over the last two seasons, and it's time we kept our word," said Burke.
That being said, I'd be absolutely shocked if Bryzgalov went unclaimed. He has a career GAA of 2.48, a 0.908 SV%, and a 26-23-7 record. He definitely helped the Ducks win the Cup last season when Giguere took time off to be with his family. Bryzgalov would be an asset to any organization looking for a goalie - and there are a few teams looking for a bit of an upgrade.
I could see Atlanta GM/Coach Don Waddell making a phone call or two. Perhaps Ray Shero? I guess we must wait and see what happens.
Tonight: Pens and Rangers. There's only one player (that I can think of) that I truly dislike and that would be Sean Avery. I hope Laraque suits up and teaches Avery a lesson. Punk...
I'll be watching the Ottawa/Toronto game on HNIC. The "Battle of Ontario" has the potential of being a funny game...good times.
Update: And Bryzgalov goes to......drum roll please......the Phoenix Coyotes! Alex Auld and Mikael Tellqvist have been splitting goaltending duties for Gretz, but Bryzgalov will likely become the number one goalie in Phoenix. Good on ya, Ilya. Just don't play like you did in knob hockey. Time to shut door, time to close 5-hole...
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Just read this in Bob McKenzie's 11/14/07 entry to his blog and I had to re-post it here. Simply hilarious.
Only in Canada.
It was one of those "you had to be there" moments last night at TSN.
That's Hockey, with Gino Reda, was wrapping up and I was on the set answering One Timers, you know, short, snappy answers to a rapid-fire succession of questions.
One of them was asking if Hall of Famers Al MacInnis and Scott Stevens constituted the best junior hockey tandem ever when they played together on the 1982 Memorial Cup champion Kitchener Rangers.
Not having time to do any research of course, the easy or pat answer would have been to say, yes, they are, and as a matter of fact I was at that Memorial Cup week in Hull, Que., watching them and marveling especially at Stevens' take-no-prisoners physical edge that bordered on out of control at times.
But no, I decide to get glib and cute. I responded, MacInnis and Stevens were great, but I'll go with Bobby Orr and whatever stiff he was playing with on the Oshawa Generals."
You get the point. I was saying Orr was so good by himself that it didn't matter who he was playing with, that tandem would be the best. Plus, I didn't know who Orr's partner was in Oshawa.
The show ended and producer Geoff Macht told Gino and myself to sit tight for a moment because our audio guy was going to talk to us. There seemed to be a bit of a commotion in the control room and I immediately thought, I don't like the sound of this. Last time something like this happened, I found out what I thought was an off the air remark, a bit of an eff bomb, went out over the air.
So the audio guy, Grant, comes on and says, "That stiff you talked about was my Dad."
Turns out Bobby Orr's partner in Oshawa was one Chris Roberts, who just happens to be the father of TSN audio technician Grant Roberts.
Grant was laughing. The rest of the control room was howling, especially when they recounted Grant's initial reaction as soon as the words came out of my mouth. He exclaimed: "That's my Dad."
Chris Roberts played four years in Oshawa. He wore No. 4, Orr No. 2. A stay at home defenceman, Roberts had seven goals and 39 points and 205 PIMs in four seasons between 1963 and 1967. He is not credited for having played pro hockey after that, but suddenly, my "stiff" comment had a name and face to it and his kid was in our control room.
I told Bobby Orr about this morning. He laughed, long and hard. Grant was going home to tell his Dad about it. I hope he laughed, too. Nothing personal, Chris.
And that, my friends, is what Canada is all about.
You go on the air and make some obscure throwaway reference to a nameless, faceless "stiff" in junior hockey from the 60s, and the guy's kid turns out to be in the control room.
Only in Canada indeed.
I must be a horrible, horrible person. Or at least a horrible, horrible Penguins fan.
See, part of me is hoping that the Pens don't get past the Quarterfinals of this year's Stanley Cup playoffs - assuming that they even qualify for the playoffs.
A really big part of me is hoping that they get the boot...
It's not that I have suddenly lost all faith in the Pens due to their recent slump. No, I haven't jumped ship and hopped on the Flyers' bandwagon (do they even have a bandwagon??)...And it's not because I want the guys to gradually make their way up to winning the Stanley Cup, pay their dues and all that jazz.
No, my reason is much more selfish than that.
The reason I want the Pens to not make the Semi-Finals is because I want some of those guys to play in the World Championships next May. Halifax is co-hosting the event with Québec City, and Halifax has a preliminary pool that includes Canada and the USA.
And guess who just bought a 4-game pack of tickets?
Guess who's going to the Canada-USA game and has great tickets overlooking centre ice?
Yep, that would be me.
I don't get to see pro hockey - ever - unless it's on TV. I don't get to see Crosby, Staal and Whitney play in 'real life', and this just might be my only shot.
Forgive me if I'm not absolutely crushed if the Pens' season ends a little early. It's not that I don't want them to play well, it's not that I don't want them to win games, and I'm still frustrated as heck that they haven't won a game in awhile, but I'd like to get a little glimpse of what everyone else gets to see. Can you really blame me?
Here's to hoping for another golden year in 2008.
Some people go to Europe for the summer after graduating...I'm staying here and going to see a few hockey games. Sweet.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
McCabe is back in the Toronto lineup, so you know what that means...
The Boo Birds are back!
Well, McCabe has actually been back for a few games after sitting out a few weeks with a groin injury, but I'm betting that his play last night at the ACC got the Boo Birds going.
Rewind back to October 15th, Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres. Overtime. Bryan McCabe tries to clear the puck, but he ends up shooting it behind Raycroft and into his own net. Cue the Boo Birds.
November 13th, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montréal Canadiens. Overtime. Bryan McCabe's giveaway leads to a breakaway. Komisarek scores on Raycroft. Cue the Boo Birds (again).
The guy just can't seem to catch a break, can he?
Well, it doesn't help that he's one of the highest paid defencemen in the NHL, plays on a very high profile team in front of unforgiving fans, and these unfortunate mistakes seem to be not-so-rare.
Given all of this, I came up with three easy ways for Bryan McCabe to (partially) redeem himself in the big T.O. Listen up Bryan...
Step one: get rid of the fu manchu. It seemed to work for Talbot (at least for the first bit of the season), but it ain't working for you. Looks creepy, and no one wants a creepy guy on their team.
Step two: take a lot less cash the next time you negotiate a contract. Insist on it, and have someone leak this tidbit to the press. Look like you're not sure of what to say and try to deny it, but when they keep pressing, confirm the truth. Give them the shy and humble face and say that the team is number one and, in a salary cap world, sometimes a pay cut is in order so that the team can get some big-name/big-talent guys. The fans and the media will appreciate it...as long as they never know that you were the one who leaked the info. If they find out, ask for a trade for a far away land where there is no hockey media. Like Florida.
Step three: give Lidstrom a call and ask him to give you a few pointers. Or, better yet, ask Niedermayer to drop by Toronto and so you can get some one-on-one extra help. Again, don't let the media/fans find out, because you will never hear the end of it. Should they find out, run to Florida with your stick between your legs.
Got it? Good.
Fans have been calling for a big-time trade since, well, forever but sorry pals, that's just not going to happen. I figure that doing anything to improve the Maple Leafs seems to be way down on the 'to do' list of MLSE since they can't seem to stop fans from supporting the team - as evidenced by the club being named the League's most valuable franchise - despite not winning the Cup since the days of the Original Six. The MLSE big-wigs have so much control over everything that happens with the team that I honestly believe that a 2-year-old child has more autonomy than JFJ. That's not a dig at JFJ's managing abilities, because I think he could do a lot with the team if Big Brother was hands off. As it stands, we don't know what JFJ can do as a GM.
In other Leafs' news, rookie Jiri Tlusty was left to explain himself when nude photos of him were uploaded to the Internet. I feel bad for the kid - this is not the way you want to introduce yourself to the Toronto media.
What caught my eye in the TSN article were Wade Belak's comments:
"It's tough in this city to censorize anything. I've been known to take out the trash naked from time to time. (Ed. Note: whoa, buddy, wayyy too much info. You'll have the stalkerazzi hanging outside your house now, waiting for the next Leafs "scandal", and that is not something we need to be exposed to. No pun intended.) Now with all these allegations with Jiri I don't know if I'm going to feel safer out there."
"It's obviously the price of being a young guy, coming in and playing for a month, having some success and having someone try to knock you down and embarrass you. We've lent our support to him and it's not a big deal, everyone's been caught with their pants down." (Ed. Note: Hey, speak for yourself, Belak.)
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Another day, another loss... To the Devils and their backup goalie, Weekes. It wasn't even Brodeur between the pipes.
And now the Pens are kickin' around the basement of the Atlantic division.
It wasn't long ago when the so-called experts said that the Pens were going to win the Cup this year. I wonder what they're thinking now....
Not to say that they won't win the Cup - anything's possible, eh? - but this wasn't how most people thought the team would kick off their season. Me, the eternal optimist, thought that the guys would be near the top of the division, duking it out with the Rangers. Hey, it could still happen come March, but right now, I think I'll settle for a good, solid win...and that means winning by playing 60 minutes, not skating around confused for 30 minutes and winning thanks to a few lucky bounces.
One good game, that's all I'd like.
And I'm sure it's all the Pens would like, too.
I vow that I won't be Chicken Little (yet), and that I will be confident that the team will turn things around. Staal will find the net more than once this season, Recchi and Roberts won't play their age, Laraque will not be a trade deadline bust, Army and Fleury will find their way back into the lineup, and Therrien will stop acting like he doesn't know what he's doing.
On a positive note, at least Crosby and Malkin are stepping up offensively as most of the team falls apart. I do believe it is now a 17-game points streak for Sid...not too shabby.
Next game: Thursday. New York Islanders.
Here's to hoping for decent officiating.
Nah, didn't think it would happen. I'm not that optimistic.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Crazy times in the Maritimes. Lots of traveling, playing NHL07 with the bro (Sens over Caps, 20-3...AO sucks), and four (FOUR!) hockey games in a little over 24 hours.
That last point, my friend, is the ultimate sweetness.
Except for when the Pens lose...again. I'm sure us fans aren't as frustrated as those guys, but it's getting there.
The only solace we have is knowing that it's November, the Pens haven't completely sucked and lost all of their games, and a winning streak must surely be coming our way. Right? Just agree with me.
Coach T gave the guys the day off yesterday in preparation for today's game against the Devils. I'm hoping for a little déjà vu tonight. Another 5-0 win...not very likely, but a girl can be optimistic, eh?
I finally got my battery charger for my digicam back. What kind of idiot leaves the charger at home? Oh wait, that would be me. So, I thought I'd take a pic of what I woke up to yesterday morning in Monkey-Town...
Seriously, isn't it supposed to be November, not the middle of January? What's up with the 15 cm of snow bit? Ugh. I hope this ain't a sign of the winter to come. I can see it now, another 5' snow storm, à la 1992...maybe that'll jinx it into not happening.
Lovin' my new WWGRD wristband, even though the Pens are 0-3 since I got it...and I do believe I have the skinniest wrists in the world.
I make a 6-year-old look like a freakin' giant. Maybe a little growth hormone is in order.
Anyways, big game tonight. Devils. Penguins. Me in my new Pens jersey, updating the boxscore on NHL.com every 2 minutes. Good times in the Maritimes...
Friday, November 9, 2007
I was looking around NHL.com, wasting time, and I took a glance at the standings. Now, at the beginning of the season, many (including yours truly) thought that the Islanders would be the crap team in the Atlantic.
Are they this so-called 'crap team'?
Hmm...they are currently 3rd in the division, with a 8-4-0 record for 16 points in 12 games. The Pens are right behind them with 15 points (7-8-1) in 16 games.
It's not time to panic or anything (I mean, we're not even halfway through November), but something has to change. The last 2 games were bad on behalf of the Pens, and great for Philly and the Rangers. Something's wrong in Pens-country, and the longer it drags on, the worse it could get. They may need an attitude adjustment, hard-ass coaching from MT, a new player or 2 (trade maybe?) or maybe a new coaching staff altogether. Still not on the fire Therrien bandwagon, but he's not helping himself.
And what's going on with MAF? He's the number one goalie, so he should be getting the ice-time. I can see benching him now and then if he has a few off-games, but to bench him for game after game does nothing for his confidence. He needs to be able to shake off bad goals or bad games without thinking that he's going to get the ax. Like loser chris said over in commentorblog, how can MAF shake off bad goals if he's wondering if that play will get him benched? If they keep treating him like this, he will take off, join another team and be their franchise goalie.
It has been known for months, reported for 3 days, and now it's official: Eric Lindros is done. Fini. At 34, his playing days are over.
It's about time.
Don't get me wrong - Lindros was a good player. Really good. But those 'really good' days ended years ago. He was a dominant player in the NHL in the 90's, and he even has a Hart Trophy to show for it, but injuries really messed up his career (well, that and the off-ice drama that was Eric Lindros' life). The last few years have been especially painful to watch. Hopefully Peter Forsberg is paying attention and will avoid this mistake.
In a move that probably surprised a lot of people, Lindros donated $5M to the London Health Sciences Foundation on the day of his retirement. Say whatever you will about the timing of this donation, but that's a lot of cash, and it's a good hospital. Hopefully it will be well spent.
What happens when you retire at 34? Well, I guess Lindros is heading to the NHLPA (gasp! this is an absolute shocker). Me, I'd take a nap.
The debate around Lindros' "Hall of Fame-ness" has dominated the media in the last week. Does he deserve to be in the HOF? Bobby Clarke thinks so (this really is surprising, given their relationship in the past). Me? I wouldn't be overjoyed if he did, or absolutely ticked if he didn't. Maybe if there's a year when there's no one else who's good enough to get in...but definitely not in three years' time.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
That, my friends, would be my brand spankin' new Pens jersey. Just came in the mail today! The guy behind the jersey would be my little bro, who was ever so kind to send me this photo. You see, the jersey is at home and I'm, well, not at home. Only a few more days now before I take the long bus ride home. Mmmm real food...I could cry in excitement at the thought of eating stuff that's not from the cafeteria.
'Nuff about that, on to hockey stuff...
Looks like Dan Boyle (D) of the Lightning will be out with his wrist again. Remember how he slashed his wrist with his skate back in September? Well, I guess the surgery didn't go so well and he needs to go back under the knife.
Peter Forsberg's in a similar situation in that his surgically repaired feet are not really repaired. Who knows what he may have to have done in order to play hockey again. In fact, who knows if he'll even be able to play again. This may be it for Forsberg.
Tonight is Mark Bell's official debut with the Leafs. I guess we'll see if he can make an impact. I hope so, because this guy needs something good in his life right now.
Last night's game against the Devils was thoroughly enjoyable. I listened to the last two periods on the internet (while attempting to read...attempt would be the key word) and was happy. Now, hopefully they can do the exact same thing when the Pens play the Flyers tomorrow night on TSN and again Saturday on RDS. Gotta love it when you hear, "Le tir et le buuuuuuut!!!!!"
Good times in the Maritimes...
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I think Rick DiPietro would rather forget some of the things that happened this year. First, he suffers two concussions only 12 days apart - that was back in March. Then, he had surgery on his hip in the off-season. Now, an eye injury.
In the second period of last night's game against the Penguins, Martinek's stick lifted Crosby's stick and the blade just happened to go in the cage of DiPietro's mask and cut his eye. What rotten luck.
DiPietro left the ice and came back a few minutes later to show the refs that he was cut, so the refs reversed their 2 minute goaltender interference penalty on Crosby and gave him a high-sticking double minor. It was odd how it all played out...well, the whole game seemed a bit odd, but that's another story.
I guess DiPietro's injury isn't that bad. Probably just a scratch. Anyways, he's listed as day to day, so he should be back before you know it, helping the Isles not suck this year.
As for the Pens, another hard loss. What gives with all these blown leads? The whole team seems confused...and frustrated...and things are almost erratic. It's like watching a team that has no identity. You know, the whole "fire Therrien" bandwagon is firing up and I'm considering jumping on. I'll see how this week's games go before I really make up my mind.
It could be a long November.
Friday, November 2, 2007
This is Noel. Noel isn't very nice. He has killed a lot of people, and now he's heading straight for me.
Out of curiosity of this post-tropical whatever thingie that's coming at me, I read a CTV article on the subject. A few things jumped out at me:
The CHC issued a statement from Dartmouth, N.S., Friday saying that "despite being in a post-tropical stage it is expected to carry hurricane force winds as it passes."
Officials are comparing the storm to Hurricane Juan in 2003 and expect to see surf and waves as high as 10 metres off Nova Scotia.
Umm...thanks CTV for inducing panic. I wasn't around for the disaster that was Juan, but I saw the pictures - half of Halifax's forests were destroyed. I am currently surrounded by forests...a tree branch through my window is not how I envisioned a face-to-face meeting with Noel. I was thinking more of a, "Hey, Noel, I can hear you out there. Keep it down, I'm watching TV. Thanks buddy."
As long as Noel doesn't mess with my electricity. I'll be pissed if I miss Hockey Night in Canada. Leafs and Habs are playing
The Ottawa Senators have locked up superstar centre Jason Spezza for the next 7 years, at a price of $49M.
Spezza's deal works out to $8M a year for the first five years, then $5M and $4M in the last two years. This means the cap hit will be $7M a year.
So the Sens have Spezz and Heater for the long haul, and they both have no-trade clauses in their shiny new contracts. Sens fans must be thrilled to have the trio together for the next several years, and to have Spezza/Heatley for the next 6 years. They should be a Cup contender for awhile...but we all know that predictions are always wrong, especially when I'm the one making them.
The only way Spezza's week can get better is to get rid of the groin problems.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Ok, so I'm French and I get the whole "gotta keep the culture alive" thing. And I'm completely fine with that. All the power to the people who speak French as their primary language and all that jazz. Especially in Québec and New Brunswick, the two provinces that have French as an official language - the people living in these provinces have a right to French materials, especially materials of the government kind.
What I don't get is the whole separatist movement in Québec. What I hate is when Francophones think that they are better than Anglophones. This whole thing is just reeking of prejudice. They accuse Anglos of being prejudiced, but they should look in a mirror.
Today, the separtists decided to focus their attacks on the non-Francophone Habs players, and they specifically mention Saku Koivu. They say that the players should basically be forced to learn French. They criticize Koivu for not speaking French to the media, even though he has spent the last 12 years in Montréal. Sure, Koivu does speak French, and he uses it at home and when visiting sick kids, but why should he be forced to speak it to reporters? I don't blame Koivu at all for wanting to stick to English in interviews. The Montréal media people are always in the Habs' business, and they are always poking around. If I was a little insecure about my language skills, I wouldn't want to be using them in the spotlight. I bet Koivu doesn't want his words to be twisted and the likes, especially as the captain of the team.
Besides, who are these idiots for telling him what language he can and cannot speak???
Why not give him credit for learning English when he came over to North America?? Why throw him under the bus to further a political cause? Why not talk about the good things that he's doing with his charities?
The separatists make me sick. They whine and cry about how Québec is different from the rest of Canada, but they take all kinds of tax money from the Canadian government. Don't they realize that, should they get a country of their own, Canada won't be lining their pockets with cash? And France ain't gonna give a crap, either.
Separatists say that Québec should decrease multiculturalism, and basically make it a uniform race of people in order to preserve their culture. Hmm...where have I heard of this before?
02 Nov 07 - I have read many articles/blog entries on this subject in the last few days, but none are as well written as this one, on the Four Habs Fans site.
I get excited when I see the crows outside my window. Okay, not really, but I get more excited about that than the Grey Cup, or football in general.
However, there was a headline on my homepage that caught my eye. It said "Bombers' fan vows to change his name to Mr. Grey Cup."
See, I guess there's this 24-year-old kid who's a 'super fan' of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who decided that he was angry at all the abundance of playoff tickets available. So, to 'motivate' the team, he has declared that if they win the Grey Cup, he will legally change his name to 'Grey Cup' the very next day.
And he's not kidding. He got all the details from the Vital Statistics office and they were fine with it. No biggie.
His family isn't so crazy about it. They think he's an idiot. As do I.
And I'm not being biased against the football fans out there, and I know there are plenty of you walking around. I'd have the same reaction to someone wanting to change their name to "Stanley Cup". Or "Memorial Cup". Or "Olympic Gold Medal".
My guess, though, is that this kid just wants to get his 15 minutes of fame. I'd like to see if he actually goes through with it if the Bombers win the Grey Cup on November 25th.
He'll probably chicken out.
Who knows, maybe he's one of these guys with the blue cheese heads. My guess is the guy with the jersey.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Well, except for the whole pink sign, the shirtless-ness, and the paint...yeah..that's why I wrote 'almost'
Next up: Sakic, Smyth and the rest of the Avs. Go Pens!
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Boston Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron was hurt in this afternoon's game in Boston. He was hit from behind by defenceman Randy Jones of - guess which team? - the Philadelphia Flyers and went face-first into the glass.
He fell to the ice and showed little movement. Medics cut away his jersey and shoulder pads, put him in a neck brace, strapped him to a stretcher and took him to hospital as his parents watched.
Jones will certainly be suspended for his actions. He used his forearm to drive Bergeron's head into the glass - how can he not be suspended?
What will be interesting to see is how Coley deals with the Flyers. This is the third time that such an incident has happened - this season! Now, I have to have faith that GM Paul Holmgren and Coach John Stevens do not want this thing to happen, but enough is enough already. There is something going on in the Flyers' organization and it needs to be stopped. They are having a great season, but this mess is just taking away from all of that success.
Perhaps it's time for the organization to be slapped with a hefty fine for apparently not keeping their players in line.
Update: Coley and the NHL big-wigs have suspended Randy Jones for 2 games. Wow. Harsh...and in other news, Bergeron might be out a month or longer.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Third period meltdown - that describes the Pens' game against the Leafs on Thursday night.
By all accounts, the guys were playing well in the first two periods, then something happened to lead to a collapse. Perhaps Talbot's injury took the wind out of their sails. One bad thing, then two, then the game was over and the Leafs won 5-2.
Michel Therrien decided to blame the players for the meltdown. Hmm...maybe he should invite himself to the blame party. How can the players develop chemistry when MT juggles the line combinations game in, game out, and from shift to shift? I've never been so lucky as to play hockey before, but seems to me that you'd need a little bit of time to adjust to new linemates. You know, to get timing and communication right.
My advice to MT? Give the line combos some deep thought. Think about how each player is playing and where they deserve to be playing. Once you get a lineup, keep it as is for a few games to really see how things work, then if something needs to be changed, take it one step at a time.
Now it's not like the Pens would've won all 82 games this season, so I'm not suggesting that they should win every game. However, last year proved that teams can miss the playoffs by one game - one point - so if the Pens are going to lose a game, I'd much rather it happen with them playing their hearts out for 60 (or 65) minutes. And I'd rather that MT not panic and switch things up every 2 seconds.
For the record, I give the Leafs a lot of credit for scoring 4 goals in the third last night. They have been huge so far this season when it comes to scoring goals - unfortunately for them, the goals have been coming on both ends of the ice.
Thumbs up to Jiri Tlusty, the young kid who scored two goals in his first NHL last night. Not a bad debut, if I do say so myself.
Tomorrow's a new day and a new game for the Pens. They will meet the Habs for game 2 in the season's series with Montreal. And take a wild guess who the starting netminder will be...
Let's hope the Price is wrong.
Update: The Price was right...again. I bet Carbo will start Price each and every time the Pens are in town, mark my words.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I'm not a puckbunny,
Or a cheerleader.
And I don't wear pink jerseys,
Mini-skirts, or booty shorts to the Arena.
And I don't know Sidney, Jordan or Geno from the Pens,
Although I'm certain they're really, really nice.
We have a Commissioner
NOT a leader.
I speak English, French, and Hockey
And I pronounce it 'Bee-ek-sa'
I can proudly sew the Pens' logo on my backpack.
I believe in forechecking, NOT goalie interference.
Shot blocking, NOT shots to the head.
And that Lemieux is a truly proud and noble owner.
A 'biscuit' is a puck,
A 'sin bin' is a penalty box,
And it's pronounced 'Pie-yay', not 'Pale', 'PIE-YAY'!
Hockey is the second greatest passtime! <-- 2nd only to sleeping
The only thing to watch on Saturday night!
And the greatest sport in the World!
My name is Ashley, and I AM A HOCKEY FAN!
Monday, October 22, 2007
Just to make myself clear, I hate using the phrase "female hockey fans", because it somehow gives the impression that girls are less knowledgeable, less enthusiastic, etc. about hockey. That being said, I'm going to use it today just to differentiate between guys and girls.
That girl in the middle, holding up the "Priceless" sign: what's your impression of her? For that matter, what's your impression of female hockey fans in general?
I bet someone out there will say, "Oh, that puckbunny just wants to get with Dion Phaneuf." I know you people exist, and I'm giving you all The Glare (TM).
It's a problem that girls face every day when others realize that we love the game. We can't possibly love hockey, right? Only guys go crazy over sports. We're the 'fans' who don't know what an offside call is, but who would love to get 'onside' with one of the players, eh? Uh, no.
You could fill a stadium with people who have given me odd looks when I told them that I love hockey. It's not as bad if I say that the Canadiens are my team, because that's just accepted in this part of the world - if you love hockey, you're either a Habs fan or a Leafs fan. Things get interesting when I mention that I love the Penguins. I bet you can guess what comment they make then, eh?
"Oh, you just have a thing for Sidney Crosby."
Um, what the frig??
My hypothesis is that when I tell people that I am a Habs fan, they just assume that I inherited this from my family - which may be partly true since I'm French-Canadian and all of my uncles are Habs fans - and that I don't really know anything about hockey. It's kind of like saying you're 'French', but your vocabulary consists of 'oui', 'non', and 'voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?' - but you're not even sure of what the last phrase means.
Saying that I'm a Pens fan, however, is different because I am going against the grain. People in these parts are not naturally Pens fans, so if you're a fan of that team you must either (1) be a legitimate hockey fan who appreciates the team, its history, and so on, or (2) a puckbunny who would like to get up close and personal with a certain someone on the team. Since it is against nature for girls to be hockey fans, the correct answer must be reason 2. Naturally.
The NHL doesn't help matters by offering these hideous 'jerseys':
Seriously, is this some kind of a joke? Apparently not, since I see girls on TV wearing these and bouncing around like lunatics. If I'm going to spend what little money I have on a jersey, I want to buy the real deal - or an exact replica of the real deal. I want it to be in the team colours. This pink and white thing just screams, "I want to be fashionable when I go to a hockey game." Well, guess what. Hockey jerseys are not meant to be 'fashionable'. We buy them to show our allegiance to our team. It is wrong to have a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey that is not black (or white) and gold.
Would you want to a green Canadian flag, or a perhaps a purple and pink American flag, to fly outside your home?
Didn't think so.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Today, right around 4pm, I listened to the news on the radio and they mentioned the Pens/'Canes game tonight. That was all fine and good - until the guy talkin' said something that made me frown and scratch my head. He said that this was the first time the two Staal brothers have met in a game this season. Um, huh? This is the 2nd game in as many weeks between these two teams. Somebody was fed the wrong info..
Anyways, after the New Jersey Disaster the other night, the Penguins needed something to go right in tonight's game against the 'Canes. Anything.
With Sabourin in goal, I thought I'd better keep my fingers crossed and pray for a miracle.
I didn't watch the game, and I didn't listen to Mike Lange's play-by-play online, but I read a few recaps and it seems like it was a hard-fought game. A game that saw the Pens win 4-3 in a shootout - by scoring on all three attempts. Not too bad.
The news flying around in the last day or so is that Ray Shero is looking to maybe, perhaps, pick up another goalie. A trade? A free agent signing? Who knows. And who knows if this story is even true.
No, I'm not saying that TSN's Bob McKenzie is feeding us a bunch of lies in the hopes that we gobble it all up. What I'm wondering is how serious Shero is about this potential goalie trade/signing thing. Is this something that he is actively pursuing, or is he just kind of throwing it out there and hoping that MAF is scared into playing better hockey? Or maybe Shero said no such thing and it was just someone in the Pens organization overheard talking to himself. I guess we'll find out in the coming weeks. If he makes changes to the goalies, then we'll know he was serious.
Tonight (or, I guess last night since it's now Saturday morning) was the 50th anniversary of the Rocket's 500th goal. He was the first to do it, as he was the first to set many scoring records. He was, and always will be, one of the greatest players to have ever played the game.
Tomorrow night, Pens and Caps, in DC, in front of a crowd of Pens fans (haha).
I'll be here watching Leafs/'Hawks on HNIC, waiting for next week's matchup - Habs/Pens. Sweet.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Tonight, I found myself alone and yelling at the TV. Yes, it may be a sad sight, but I was mad. Not at the TV, but at the game on TV. The Pens/Devils game. Or, more specifically, the refs at the game.
What in the world was THAT? Did the NHL decide to make a video on how to not ref a game? Maybe they have an issue with the Pens, or maybe they wanted to give the Devils a little boost while they're on their 9-game road trip. Who knows, and who cares. The only thing that matters is that the refs cost the Pens the game.
First, Sykora was called for "hooking" - though you could argue that his stick didn't even touch the guy - just as Sid was breaking away for a shot on Brodeur. If that was the only issue, then fine - I could have lived with it.
Then Malkin scored a goal, which was promptly taken away because the Pens had too many men on the ice. Okay, fine, I get it and I understand. I'm not going to argue that call. What I will argue, however, is the fact that New Jersey had about 10 guys on the ice involved in the action around the benches. The Devils should have been penalized too.
After that, Gionta decided to make his way into the crease and wound up on top of Fleury and in the net, while everyone else pounded away at the puck and the Devils scored. MAF had absolutely no chance at making that save because Gionta was practically sitting on his face and pinning him to the ice. The ref, who had a perfect view behind the net, should have waived the goal off. But no, of course not, that would've been the right thing to do.
And to cap it all off, the Devils interfered with Army right around the time the Malone penalties expired, but the refs turned a blind eye yet again.
But alas, there are some good things about this game.
First, Crosby was ON FIRE! Tonight, TSN stood for "The Sidney Network." - (c) McGuire. He was Pierre McGuire's Monster of the Game, and I would have to agree. That hit on Parise near the end of the third - nice. Those absolutely sick passes around his back or while sprawled out on the ice...I swear, he's better than last year. Thank goodness he's playing for my team.
Second, who would've ever thought that Talbot would be leading the team in goals? Good on him.
Third, Gary Roberts. He lays down the law after the opening faceoff, scores a PP goal late in the first to tie the game, has an assist to boot, and gives Asham a taste of GR anger in the third after Crosby is crosschecked and punched. Asham's lucky to still be walking.
Fourth, Malkin. Two goals tonight, but only credited for one. Add an assist to that total. Not too shabby.
On the minus side of things, MAF needs to work on rebound control. He's a great goalie who can make some incredible saves, but when the pucks keep bouncing into the slot, he's going to get beat.
I think I have vented my anger and frustration...for the time being. Morton and LaRue should be ashamed of themselves...
Oh, how I love to pick on the Leafs...
So I found this video someplace the other day. I'm not quite sure where it was posted (maybe pensblog? commentorblog?), so I apologize to whomever for not giving you a shout out, because this video seriously made my day.
This needs to be released to radio or something... or maybe shown on MuchMusic. I see it as a number 1 video.
Bob Hartley, Head Coach of the Atlanta Thrashers, will be looking for a new job. GM Don Waddell fired Hartley today after the Flyers handed the Thrashers their sixth consecutive loss of the season last night.
The news of Hartley's firing was not particularly surprising. In fact, what would have been surprising is if Hartley had stayed. I know it's still very early in the season, but Atlanta's in a tailspin. They ended the 2006-07 season on a high by winning their division, but they were promptly swept from the playoffs by the NY Rangers, and now they are the only team without a win (or a single point) under their belt this season - every other team in the NHL has at least 2 wins and 4 points. The team needed a shake-up, and that's what they got. Waddell should hope that improvement is on the horizon (I mean, how could you get worse?), because the next one to be shown the door will likely be him.
Yesterday, I wrote about the big Habs/Panthers matchup on TSN. Indeed, the Panthers seem to be Habs-killers.
It seemed as though the Canadiens were going to take the game 1-0, after Kovalev scored on the powerplay less than 3 minutes into the first period. Montreal fans must've been going nuts as the seconds counted down in the third period....and then Horton tied the game with 11 seconds left.
What a way to kill the mood.
Just to make sure the Habs were really dead after that, Florida won the game in a shootout. I'm sure there were grown men crying over that one.
Even Kovalev was upset over that loss, and he chose to vent his anger by criticizing Coach Carbo for not calling a time out late in the game. Frankly, I'm surprised by Kovalev. He went a whole 5 games before criticizing Carbo and the team.
In other Habs news, RDS is reporting that Carey "The Next Patrick Roy" Price will be starting in goal tomorrow night for their game against red-hot Ottawa. Wow, what a way to test the kid. First, you put him out on the ice to face the Penguins, and now he has to face the top line in the NHL of Spezza/Heatley/Alfredsson. Should he put in another great performance, Habs fans nationwide will certainly be lobbying for his promotion from backup.
If Habs fans are going nuts over their shootout loss to Florida, then Calgary fans are probably rioting in front of the Saddledome. Why is that, you ask? Well, last night, the Flames were up 4-0 against the Avs - and it was an away game! Imagine that, it looked like the Flames were actually going to win a game away from Calgary.
Then things fell apart. Colorado started to play.
The Avs scored. And scored. And scored. And scored again. All 4 goals game in about 13 minutes, give or take, and only one was a PPG. The game went to a shootout, with Wolski getting the game winner for Colorado. Ouch.
I wouldn't want to be in practice with the Flames today. Iron Mike wouldn't be too happy, and I'd prefer to live.
Tonight is TSN's Eastern Conference Matchup Part 2: Pens and Devils. The Pens had a breakout game in Toronto last Saturday, and hopefully they'll catch Marty Brodeur on a bad night tonight. I also hope that the D is a little better tonight than they have been so far this season. Always room for improvement there.