Monday, March 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Mr. Hockey

Happy 80th Birthday, Gordie Howe :)

Pens fan Susie to provide playoff predictions

One week.

That is all that is left to the season before the playoffs.

Pretty soon I'll have to dig up my pre-season predictions and see how horribly off-base I was in September. I shudder when I think of it.

In the meantime, Pens fan Susie has agreed to provide her predictions for the playoffs. She believes that she can do better than TSN's Maggie. After all, who really thinks that a monkey can accurately predict the outcome of one playoff series, nevermind 15 matchups. Everyone knows that a dog can (and will) do better.

So, once the playoffs begin, I will offer my prediction, Susie's prediction, and Maggie's prediction (if she dares to return to the TSN panel). Maybe I'll also put what the so-called 'experts' think too. Something tells me that the Maritimers will win.

Go Pens!

(Susie says that you'll clinch the division...)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A few more 'whatever' games for the Leafs before golf season

The Toronto Maple Leafs were officially eliminated from playoff contention earlier this week, and fans at tonight's Montreal/Toronto game were seen wearing bags on their heads.

Here's a stat that rubs salt into Leafers' wounds: this is the first time in 80 years that Toronto has failed to qualify for the playoffs for a third consecutive season.

It should be interesting to see how the home crowd reacts to the Leafs.

It should also be interesting to see whether this will be Mats Sundin's last Hockey Night in Canada at the ACC.

Richard Peddie, the CEO or whatever of the Leafs, talked to Elliotte Friedman for his Inside Hockey segment on HNIC and seemed thoroughly pissed off with how things are going. He even acknowledged that this team is so far from even thinking of the Stanley Cup because they don't have any stars in their system to feel good about.


I wonder how this frame of mind will influence what happens this summer. The Leafs are still in the market for a GM, and I wouldn't be surprised if they blow up the team this summer, à la Philadelphia '07.

One bright spot in the Leafs' future (well, as bright as it can get for the Leafs) is Toskala, who is making his 30th consecutive start tonight. I guess that means Raycroft is a bit expendable.

As for Mark Bell, the other half of the deal that brought Toskala to Toronto, I feel bad for the guy. He's facing a crappy off-season in jail - which he deserves - and he has played the season as well as anyone could have hoped. He broke his orbital bone in a fight with Ryan Malone just after New Year's and was out a few months. He's now back and wearing a mask, and tonight he got a puck in the neck just after the opening faceoff, thanks to a pass from McCabe. He's back on the ice, but what rotten luck.

It's hard to truly feel hate or even dislike for the Leafs this season - not that I typically do, anyways. I'm a Montreal fan that makes fun of the Leafs in a joking way, like one would joke around with a sibling, but things have been so sad for the Leafs this year. I truly hope things are better in the fall.

Several months ago, Bob McCown said that the Raptors will win an NBA championship than the Leafs will win the Stanley Cup. I think you could add the Jays to that, too, and I don't think that's a good thing.

One of the reasons why people hate Toronto is because they have the attitude that they are the centre of the hockey world. CBC's HNIC always shows a Leafs game on Saturday night. TSN also contributes much air time to what's going on in Toronto. Well, what do you expect when Canada's most popular hockey team is the Maple Leafs? They are considered to be 'Canada's Team', and now they are faltering.

The Leafs have the opportunity to make so much money, and they are screwing it up. They have, arguably, the largest fanbase in the entire NHL, yet they are alienating that fanbase. It is nearly impossible to get a ticket to see the Leafs live at the ACC, and those tickets cost an arm and a leg and a kidney. Add to that a team that underperforms year after year after year, and you have a lot of fans choosing to spend their hard-earned money on things that are not Leafs merchandise. All of this means less money for the NHL.

If the Leafs make the playoffs and actually have a shot at the Cup, the NHL can only benefit. Imagine the revenue from ticket sales and merchandise - it would beat the revenue pulled in by any of the teams that have won the Cup in the last decade.

Like them or hate them, the NHL needs the Toronto Maple Leafs to succeed.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

And the hammer comes down

Gilles Courteau, the commissioner of the QMJHL, announced his decision today regarding the brawl between the Quebec Remparts and the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. Six players and two coaches will sit out between one and seven games.

In a statement, Courteau said, "The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League finds the events which took place over the course of last week-end's games deplorable and unacceptable. We are deeply troubled by the incidents. In closing, I'd like to warn organizations that these types of incidents will not be tolerated and that should any more occur, steep fines will be handed out."

Here's how it all breaks down:

Jonathan Roy (QUE) - 7 games, $500 fine
Sebastien Rioux (CHI) - 6 games
Maxime Lacroix (QUE) - 3 games
Marc-Olivier Vallerand (QUE) - 2 games
Charles-Antoine Messier (CHI) - 2 games
Antoine Roussel (CHI) - 1 game

Patrick Roy (QUE) - 5 games
Richard Martel (CHI) - 2 games - automatic suspension because one of his players left the penalty box to engage in a fight.

Each team was also fined $4000.

Is it just me, or does the penalty for Jonathan Roy seem a little light? I realize that he was handed the toughest sentence of them all, but I was absolutely sickened by his behaviour. Maybe the Q was a little more lenient because J. Roy apologized for his hand gestures to the crowd and stated that he would never behave that way in the future - though he failed to say anything about the fight.

I just hope that Chicoutimi sweeps Quebec the rest of the way to rub it in. If the Remparts are able to hold on and play well until J. Roy returns, then how much of a lesson will this be? How much of a deterrent will the suspension be? I think of Pronger and his flying elbow antics last year and how the Ducks won those two games when he was out of the lineup. Lesson learned? Nope.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Patrick Roy: Still a "Saint"?

They called him "Saint Patrick."

He won the 1986 Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in his rookie year, and again in 1993. He won the Cup two more times with the Colorado Avalanche.

He was quite the character, and was a quotable player now and then, with Stanley Cup rings plugging his ears.

He even fought on occasion

Quirky? Yes. He never skated on the blue lines, he often talked to the goal posts, and he didn't talk to reporters before a game...but aren't all goalies a bit quirky?

However, one could also say that he has a certain lack of class. Trouble just keeps following him around.

After retiring from the NHL, Roy made the leap into coaching. The Remparts lost the QMJHL Championships to the Ted Nolan-coached Moncton Wildcats in 2006, but since Moncton was hosting the Memorial Cup that spring and already had a berth in the tournament, the Remparts were invited to participate. The rookie coach led his Remparts to the finals against the Cats, and won the Memorial Cup. That was a highlight in his career as a coach.

Unfortunately, he hasn't had many more shining moments since hanging up his goalie pads. In January 2007, there was an incident between Roy and the co-owner of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Pierre Cardinal. Roy apparently threw punches at Cardinal after a crowd of fans surrounded the Remparts' bus after a game between the teams. Cardinal filed a claim of assault with the police, but later withdrew his complaint. Roy claimed that the media displayed prejudice against him by saying that he didn't show remorse over the incident and even contemplated resigning as head coach and co-owner, though he eventually decided to remain with the club.

Just this past weekend, another incident happened between Quebec and Chicoutimi. It was Game 2 of the best-of-7 playoff series between the two teams, and the Sagueneens were up 7-1 at the end of the second period when Christophe Poirer of Quebec and Joel Champagne of Chicoutimi collided and a brawl ensued. Jonathan Roy, Patrick's son and Remparts goalie, challenged Chicoutimi goalie Bobby Nadeau to a fight. Roy Jr. bolted down the ice and jumped Nadeau, pounding him even though he had fallen to the ice.

As the younger Roy was being led off the ice, he decided to give a few one-finger salutes to the crowd, after which Chicoutimi d-man Sebastien Rioux jumped him.

Coach Roy said that he did not encourage his team to fight the Sagueneens, and that he "can't control the reactions of [his] players in the heat of action."

He also went on to say that he did not encourage his son to fight Nadeau, and that his son likely saw Nadeau at the blue line and saw it as an invitation to fight - even though the video clearly shows Nadeau in his crease when Roy charges over and attacks him.

His son also said that he was not instructed to fight the Chicoutimi goalie.

"Patrick looked at me and told me to calm down," Jonathan Roy said. "I said to myself, `He doesn't want me to go', but when the line judge released me, I said to myself . . . `I'm going."'

I'm not saying that Patrick Roy is completely responsible for the latest incident because the players themselves decided to release some of their anger and frustration on the Sagueneens. That being said, a coach must also accept a certain amount of responsibility for what his players do on the ice, and the actions of his son were completely unacceptable. A goalie-goalie fight is (somewhat) fine, but don't keep punching the guy after he has fallen to the ice. And don't flip off the crowd. Jonathan Roy's actions proved him to be an immature little show-off.

However, this is not the first time that Patrick Roy has been in the news in the past few years. Every few months or so, you hear about Roy and his altercations with various people in the Q. I sometimes wonder if the Quebec media will grab onto anything and everything that happens with Patrick Roy and blow it out of proportion, or if the truth is being reported. Either way, Patrick Roy is one big distraction for his team. If you thought that Ray Emery and his antics were distractions, imagine having your head coach/GM/owner, who just happens to be one of the best goalies in history, getting in fights (verbal and physical) on a regular basis.

The saying is, "Like father, like son." I suppose this is true when it comes to the Roy family, and I guess you could also say, "Like coach, like players."

At the end of the day, the Remparts' dressing room is home to an immature crew that doesn't know what it means to be a classy player that shows respect. Chicoutimi may have been beating them badly, and Quebec needed to demonstrate that they weren't going to roll over and die, but to do it like they did was entirely unacceptable.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Amazing Playoff Race

With only two and a half weeks left in the season, and with teams playing divisional rivals, we should be treated to a series of good hockey games leading into the playoffs. Each game is a four-point game and teams are trying to pass each other in the standings.

Pittsburgh and New Jersey are trying to win the division...and the conference

Montreal wants to stay on top of Ottawa...and the conference

Ottawa wants home ice advantage

Washington and Buffalo are breathing down Philly's neck for the final playoff spot.

Minnesota is hanging onto the division lead...barely...and Vancouver/Calgary/Colorado are also in the top 8.

Edmonton is currently on the outside looking in, but their current 8-2 record has them dreaming of the possibilities. Maybe a repeat of 2006 is in store?

San Jose became the second team to clinch a playoff spot, thanks to their great 11-game winning streak, but Dallas wants to reclaim top spot in the Pacific.

What about those Ducks? I hope they crash and burn and find themselves on the golf course in April.

Detroit clinched the division about 20 years ago and are currently the only Central team in the top 8, but Nashville is trying to save their season. They are 9th and sit 4 points behind Colorado for the final spot, but have Edmonton and Phoenix breathing down their necks.

My, it's going to be a great couple of weeks as we see how the final standings shape up and how dead wrong I was in my pre-season predictions.

Good times.


Long weekends rock. Yep. Four days of doing n-o-t-h-i-n-g productive.

Happy Easter. I'm off to Monkey-town.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Stoosh said over at Pensblog that he believes that Malone is McLovin.

I think he may be right - look what I found...

The Penguins are Popular

Can't be upset at the Penguins for beating the Cryers 7-1. I always like seeing games like that - except for when Richards tried to decapitate Malkin.


Last Friday on campus we had our annual "Wish Day" where we had a 16-hour ball hockey tournament in the parking lot, a silent auction, entertainment, and all that jazz, all in support of the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada.

I took some pretty sweet pics of local kids playing hockey outside my window - they were on March Break, so they played I watched the two goalies for a few minutes; one was a kid who just had a normal hockey stick, whereas the other one was obviously a competitive goalie because he had ALL the gear and he was diving after those balls like it was the Stanley Cup Finals.


Okay, so we've had this little promotion thing with the cafeteria for the past few weeks. If you buy a Kraft product, you get a scratch card, and if you scratch two Kraft logos, then you win an NHL pennant. It's all in promotion of Kraft Hockeyville.

Me, being the hockey fan that I am, have been getting up early and going down to the cafeteria to get toast with peanut butter (because the only Kraft products we have are PB and Cheez Whiz, and I am NOT eating plastic 'cheese'). I'll even get toast with PB for dinner. Each time I ask for a card, and each time it mocks me by not showing two logos.

Today, I was down at the other cafeteria and got a scratch card. Oooooo look at that...TWO LOGOS!! I was so excited, I could've cried. The lady at the cash asked me what my favourite team was, and I proudly declared, "The Pittsburgh Penguins!!"

The girl next to me - "Sidney Crosby, eh?"
Me - "Yep." (but hoping that these strangers don't think I'm a puckbunny.)

Cafeteria lady - "Sorry, I don't think we have any left. (looks in the stack) Nope, no Penguins pennants left."

Me - "Any Montreal?"

Cafeteria lady - "Now, I do know that we don't have any Montreal left."

The guy behind me - "I bet there are tons of Torontos left!!!!" (hahaha)

Cafeteria lady - "No Toronto."

So here's what I ended up getting....

I guess that's what happens when you live in a city that is Montreal and Toronto crazy, but is also the hometown to the best player in the world - and current captain of the Penguins.

First, I lost out on a Mooseheads hat signed by all of the players (I made a bid on it during the silent auction on Friday, but some staff guy outbid me. Stupid him), and now I lose out on a Penguins pennant. Sigh.

Let the jobbing begin..

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Leafs are d-o-n-e

You know it's bad when you're watching the Leafs-Sabres game and CBC breaks away to catch Markus Naslund's penalty shot in the Canucks-Stars game, and then CBC decides to not go back to the Leafs game.

Yep, that's the sign that the season is done in Toronto. Just givin' up on their team.

There were 3 games on HNIC tonight, and we in the Maritimes actually didn't get to see the entire Leafs-Sabres game! Imagine that...we saw the Habs shutout the Islanders 3-0. Those goalie kids are crazy in Montreal. Add up their ages and they are still younger than Hasek. haha

After the celebration in Montreal, CBC cut to the Leafs, who were desperate for a win to stay in the hunt. They were down 5-2 with more than 3 minutes left and Toskala on the bench for the extra attacker. Then Tallinder had to take the 180-foot shot and get the empty netter, his first goal in 82 games. The silence from the crowd was deafening. It was shortly thereafter that CBC went down to Dallas to see the Canucks hang on for a 4-3 victory.

That Willie Mitchell...what a warrior. He took a puck to the mouth in the third period, stayed on the ice, blocked a shot with his ankle, and when he went to the bench, his jersey was covered in blood. He stayed on the bench, got the trainers to stop most of the bleeding, and went back out to play. You could see the blood in his nose and mouth, but he played his heart out and helped his team earn the win. He may not be offensively gifted, but it's guys like that who will win you a Cup.

Tomorrow is Pens-Flyers on NBC. Big game if we hope to stay close to New Jersey for the division/conference lead.

Sitting Duck

Well, well, well, it looks like Chris Pronger has been suspended after all. The NHL brass has handed him an - wait for it - eight game suspension for stomping on Ryan Kesler's leg.

Wow. Can somebody say double standard?

On the one hand, you could say that at least the NHL did something, but isn't 8 games a little light considering what they gave Chris Simon? Hmm...8 games vs. 30 games. No wonder Simon is angry.

Sure, the situations are a little different. The Simon/Ruutu incident happened at the bench and Simon basically knocked Ruutu to the ice and stomped on his foot. The Pronger/Kesler incident happened on the ice after Kesler fell to the ice and Pronger stomped on his leg. The common factors here are that (1) both are dirty players and (2) both stomped on their victims leg.

I wanted to see Pronger gone for at least the remainder of the regular season and into the playoffs, but he'll be back for the last game of the season.

I wonder, did the NHL not suspend Pronger for any longer because they think of him as a superstar that should be with his team as they enter the post-season? Did Burke call up Campbell and say, "Don't you dare take away our captain for the playoffs!!!"

Think about it. How many people are looking at the Ducks and saying that they could repeat as champions? How many new fans does Anaheim have? How many people like the rough and tough game that the Ducks play?

Meanwhile, you have players like Chris Simon looking at the situation and wondering why he was treated so harshly for basically the same incident. Was it because he has less talent? Or is it something deeper...I don't think you could blame Simon for wondering if racism was involved.

People always talk about karma, that 'what goes around, comes around,' but will it ever come around for Pronger?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Who's a dirtier player than Chris Simon?

My vote goes to Chris Pronger of the Anaheim Ducks.

In case you have been living under a rock, or you just didn't watch SportsCentre, Pronger stomped on Ryan Kesler's leg in Wednesday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks. It was very reminiscent of Chris Simon's stomp on Jarkko Ruutu's leg in December, except there is one teeny, tiny, microscopic difference.

Simon was suspended for 30 games. Pronger gets nothing.

Now, when I look at the video of the incident, I see Pronger look down at Kesler and try to stomp on Kesler's leg twice, catching him the second time. There is a point where Pronger's skate makes contact with Kesler's calf, lingers there, and then pushes it away as he skates off.

If you look carefully, Pronger is looking down towards the ice. He's not looking down the ice. His attention is directed towards his feet, or very close to them, so he must have known that Kesler's leg was there. Some argue that he was simply trying to untangle himself, but I don't believe it.

Now, the reason why I say that Pronger is dirtier than Simon is because of his 'superstar' status in the NHL. He is one of the best defencemen in the League and he is a future Hall of Famer. Simon is not - not in the least. While Pronger has a reputation of being dirty, with 7 suspensions to his name (including 2 during last year's playoffs), he will not receive the same type of scrutiny that Simon faces and he will not receive the same punishment.

Is there a chance that Pronger will not 'think twice' next time because the consequences are minimal? Yeah.

Will Pronger be given chance after chance after 245th chance simply because of his status? Will coaches, GMs, officials, and the NHL turn a blind eye because, at the end of the day, Pronger is a superstar who sells tickets? For sure, and because of that, more players will be hurt due to his absolute lack of respect.

After the Simon incident in December, we all wondered what would happen if 'a Chris Pronger' had done something like that.

Well, now we know what would happen.


I think the only way the NHL would care would be if the victim was not Kesler, but rather one of the biggest names in the game, someone bigger than Pronger - like Crosby or Ovechkin. But it shouldn't be that way.

The NHL has decided that they will not suspend Pronger, but I say we raise hell and call for a suspension anyway. They probably won't do it, but in light of the recent video that shows the incident more clearly (the one above, which was not made available until last night - after the NHL's ruling), perhaps the League will pay more attention to Pronger's activities on the ice and act accordingly the next time something like this happens, and believe me, it will happen.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Rick Mercer prepares for Beijing 2008

I realized that some people may not know the awesome TV personality that is Rick Mercer. Well, he is a comedian with his own show "The Rick Mercer Report" and his passion is politics. He travels around the country (and the world, sometimes) to do interviews with politicians, from the leaders of the opposition party to the Prime Minister.

He also does mock commercials, and he does many features that place him in situations where he is a 'fish out of water.' These situations quite often include him participating in sports: professional lacrosse, professional football, and even cheerleading.

However, this video is of Rick Mercer with Alexandre Despatie, one of the best divers in the world. Alex teaches Rick how to dive, and it is seriously some of the funniest stuff I have ever seen on TV - especially when he gets hurt in his 'bathing suit place.'

Rick Mercer tries wheelchair basketball

Several weeks ago, Seeker sent me a video of a sledge hockey team and I think we can all agree how inspiring it is to see people with disabilities play sports.

Here is a video from the Rick Mercer Report that features Canada's wheelchair basketball team - the 2-time Paralympic Champions. AND the three-point man is from my home province (the Maritimes gets all the best athletes. Sid, Brad Richards, Russ Howard, and now this guy!)

Rick Mercer > Jon Stewart

Maybe later I'll post a video of Rick Mercer diving with Alexandre Despatie. Absolutely the best YouTube video ever.

"He shot that in his own goal" Ringtone

Snoop over at "The Sidney Crosby Show" made a ringtone of Sid's celebration after Backstrom scored to give the Pens the game winner.

Check it out if you want to relive the celebration day in, day out!

Go Pens Go!!

NHL pre-season 2008-09: Pittsburgh ---> Moncton? Please?

Announcements are being made about the 2008-09 NHL pre-season games, and I am waiting to see what's going to happen.

Here's what I know for sure:

Monday, September 22 - Montreal vs. Boston
Thursday, September 25 - Detroit vs. Boston
Halifax Metro Centre
Ticket packages = $160

I also know that I will be in Moncton at that time, and if I'm on internship then I won't be able to make the trip to Halifax.

However, Moncton is hosting the training camp for the New York Islanders, and the Isles are playing a pre-season game at the Coliseum. They say that the other team will be Boston but I haven't been able to confirm this. I'm still hoping and praying that Pittsburgh makes it back to Moncton so that we can show Malkin that we're not that bad a city. He may have bad feelings considering his last visit to the Hub City...Besides, it's looking like Crosby won't be available for Worlds. I'd still very much like to see him play live and in person -- not just on TV.

Please, Penguins people, please come back to Moncton!

You give me Penguins, me love you long time...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

He shot that into his own net!!!

---Thanks to Flyer Hater over at Pensblog for sharing this video on C-blog---

With the game tied at 2 and less than 1 minute left, what happens? Sidney Crosby scores the game winner (his second of the night) after Nicklas Backstrom shoots it into his own net accidentally-on purpose. A teeny little piece of me feels bad for Backstrom because he is a rookie and made a mistake that may have cost his team a playoff spot. It's just not quite the same as the McCabe goal last fall.

I am really happy to see Crosby back on track after that injury. He really seemed to be flying out there this afternoon. I'm also glad to see that MAF played a solid game. He faced 38 shots (including 22 in the second), and only allowed 2 power play goals. He has been criticized endlessly, and has been in the shadow of Conklin. I hope that Fleury and the entire team takes something positive from this game and goes on a nice, long winning streak leading into the playoffs.

Go Pens!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

There was Toronto!

Rick Mercer = the best.

Yes, better than even Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

You know someone's not playing when...

I have several fantasy hockey teams with Yahoo, and today I was bored and decided to take a look at which players are on other people's teams. I clicked on the team that occupied the basement of one league, and I immediately determined that this guy hasn't logged on to change his starting lineup since the beginning of the season.

How do I know this??

The fact that he still had Sean Avery on IR tipped me off. That joke hasn't been on the IR list since December.

But I was convinced when I saw that Manny Fernandez was his starting goalie. Manny hasn't played since October.

Oh well, that's one less team that I have to worry about in my quest to take over the league.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Stanley Cup will never go to Ottawa?

I should preface this by re-stating that I am a fan of the Ottawa Senators. Not as much as the Penguins, but a fan nonetheless. Also a fan of the Montreal Canadiens and (gasp) the Toronto Maple Leafs, but that's beside the point.

A year or two ago, I found a music file online that had a song called "Sens Suck" or something to that effect. It was created by a radio station in Toronto (99.9?) when the Leafs and Sens used to meet in the playoffs. The song reminds me quite a bit of Adam Sandler's 'Hanukkah Song' and the lyrics are as follows:
'Sens Suck'

Here's a little story
About a hockey team
Who may just win the Stanley Cup
But only in their dreams.

The team is from Ottawa,
The Senators is their name,
Soon to be inducted in the golfing hall of fame.
They say they'll beat our Leafers, ha!
Now there's a funny joke
'Cuz every year at playoff time
The Senators always choke.

So, three cheers for Ottawa
A real team they are not-awa
They can give all that they got-awa
But the Stanley Cup will never go to Ottawa.

Now Ottawa has their Parliament
And MPs in the news
And it's kind of like their hockey team
They talk a lot but don't produce.
They're not the brightest either,
I really have to say,
When the capital of our country
Spells "Canada" with a "K".

(Hey, that's Kanata!)

Oh, three cheers for Ottawa
They think they've got a shot-awa
But they must be smoking pot-awa
'Cuz the Stanley Cup will never go to Ottawa.

You better press your plaid pants
It's that time once again
To hear that familiar Ottawa Senator saying,
"Tee off is at ten."
So get ready for the crying,
Take our your handkerchiefs,
You're about to get your ass kicked
By the Toronto Maple Leafs!

Oh, three cheers for Ottawa,
A lesson they'll be taught-awa,
Hossa and Havlat-awa,
You'll soon be golfing a lot-awa.
What the hell else rhymes with Ottawa?
Not a whole heck of a lot-awa.
They're the team we've already forgot-awa,
'Cuz the Stanley Cup will never go to Ottawa.
Now, at the beginning of the season, I laughed at this and said to myself, "Oh, how the times have changed." Sure, the Leafs are out of playoff contention right now, but look at how the Leafs are currently playing and look at how the Sens are currently playing.

Last 10 games:
Ottawa is 3-5-2
Toronto is 7-2-1

It's amazing how the Senators started the season so well (comparisons were made to the '70s Habs teams), and yet have fallen apart as of late. They have lost 4 of their last 5, and what about this current tour through the Pacific Division. Sharks? No. Ducks? Nope. Kings? Shutout loss.

So does that Toronto radio station have a good point? Is Ottawa a team that chokes season after season? Can we even say that after last year's run through the East?

And will the Stanley Cup never go to Ottawa? Logic says that Ottawa will win the Cup before the Leafs, but things aren't looking good. The Senators will have to do some serious soul searching if they have a prayer of saving their season.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Greatest Player Returns

These kids have just heard the news....

Sidney Crosby is BACK!

and so is Peter Forsberg, but who cares because...


I'm so excited, I don't think I can handle this news. The Al Gore is definitely going to crash with all the traffic.

Woooooooo hooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!

And now, I found this photo and thought I should share with the world:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

What the hell happened to hockey?

"They'd rather shoot rats at the dump."

Oh Rick Mercer, you are my hero.

That's right, hockey started right here in Halifax with a twig and a frozen pile of cow dung.


The Pens haven't been playing very well in the last week or so, but before you go and hang Elmo, just take a moment, sit back, and think. Think about what has happened in the last few months.

Think about that turnaround game against Ottawa in late November - the Thanksgiving miracle.
Before that game, the Pens were well out of a playoff spot in the East. But since then? Can you really complain?

Think about the overall record. Is it something to get upset about? If you say yes, you're a joke.

Now think about Marc-Andre Fleury. When he hurt his ankle, I certainly thought that the team was screwed. Dany Sabourin had only played what, 14 NHL games before this season?

And Ty Conklin??? Just thinking about him brought back ugly memories, flashbacks if you will, of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. My thoughts were something roughly similar to this:

Who would've ever thought, EVER, that he would come in and stand on his head?

Now think about Gary Roberts. He may be the 'old' guy on the team, but he is a force on the ice and in the dressing room. Where he goes, others follow. And then he broke his leg to get out of the Winter Classic.

Did the Pens roll over and die? No. Gary Roberts would never allow something like that.

Now think about Mark Eaton. When he went down with a torn ACL and we heard that he was out for the season, we got a little panicky, didn't we? After all, he is our best defensive defenseman, and he blocks shots like no other. How would we be able to survive that?

By others stepping up, that's how.

Now think about Sidney Crosby - the best player in the world. That was the toughest loss, by far. It's one thing to lose Roberts - dare I say that he's not the best player on the team (please don't hurt me Gary) - but Sid?? He may be one of the youngest guys on the team, but he's the one everyone turns to. This is his team, and without him, what would happen?

We all knew that Malkin was a great player, but he has never really stood out like Crosby. Malkin was drafted to be the franchise player, but he lost that status when the Pens won the Crosby sweepstakes in 2005. It suits him just fine, considering he's a little shy and his English language proficiency is, well, not very proficient. We really didn't have any idea that he could truly carry this team on his back and lead the way to the top of the division and a tie for the Eastern Conference lead (though Montreal currently has one game in hand).

So the Pens may be fumbling the ball a little right now, but their play in the past few months has pretty much given them permission to do so. Every team goes through a dry spell at least once a season (just look at Detroit - ouch) but it's not as though the Penguins are fighting to get into the playoffs or keep their playoff spot. No, the fight right now is for top seed in the East. I don't think that fight is terribly important, and for the team to be a little wobbly as they continue to lose players is okay.

Most teams would find a slump at this time of the year to be worrisome, but Penguins fans shouldn't be overly concerned. Pretty much half of the current team is made up of players who started the year in the AHL. Ty Conklin, Kris Letang, Tyler Kennedy, Jeff Taffe...what other team can say that they can do this? The Edmonton Oilers are having injury problems, and look where they're sitting. The Vancouver Canucks had injury problems on their blue line, and they went a stretch when they could hardly win a game with an AHL defence.

And now we're getting Crosby and Hossa back in the next few weeks. And Gary Roberts may make an appearance before the end of the season. And Marc-Andre Fleury is getting his game back.

These injuries just may turn out to be a blessing - yes, a blessing - in disguise. Other teams have crumbled, but the Pens were able to overcome adversity and win. Each player has stepped up his game. I think what we're seeing now is partly the inexperience of some players, and partly the fatigue of others who had to carry the team, and partly a lack of chemistry because of all the changes due to trades and call-ups. Once you bring back some of the more talented players, get more experienced players into the lineup, allow the guys to get to know each other, and let some guys catch a breather once in awhile, the Penguins should only get better.

Hang Elmo? Nah. Not today.