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.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Eh, hiatus schmiatus. I'm bored and there's too much interesting stuff happening to not write anything.
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.