Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Hart Race: A Bold Prediction

PuckDaddy recently did an update about the race for the Hart Trophy, and specifically listed 5 players as mainstream runners for the award. These players were Ovechkin, Crosby, Miller, H. Sedin, and Bryzgalov. Stamkos and Parise were fringe nominees.

Really? Stamkos as a fringe nominee? Sure Tampa Bay is pretty much eliminated from playoff contention, but the only reason they are in the playoff conversation and not the lottery pick conversation is Stamkos. He's resurrected St. Louis' career, and made a hell of a player out of Steve Downie. He gets more ice time than Lecavalier, has 5 times as many power play goals as Lecavalier, took the pressure off of Vinny, and while he's led the team to playoff contention has all but eliminated any talk of Lecavalier trade rumors. All in his second season at the ripe young age of 20.

It is definitely hurting him that he only has 4 game winning goals for his team, which is good for third on the squad. But there's no way for me to check how many game winning goals he was on the ice for. I'd bet it's more than anyone else on the team.

He is the most valuable person on his team, and at 20 years old, it's going to draw some favorable season's ending votes. Maybe he won't win, but he's my top choice. Sorry Ov.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

USS Flyers Playoff Chances

All Aboard Mateys!

Remember when they were one of the heavy favorites in the preseason with the Pronger acquisition, Carter's emergence, and a fiery, playoff proven goaltender in Emery? Well two of them are out for the season, and the third just put in the game winning goal in OT tonight. For the Wild. Fuck.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pens* at Caps 3/24/2010 Observations

What, son?

I'm not a Caps fan, but today I needed them to win. The Pens* rolled into the big phone booth (the Verizon Center) looking for 2 points. Unfortunately the NHL scoring system is also bullshit, with some 2pt games and some 3pt games with overtime. Tonight was a 3ptr, decided by an artificial gimmick illustrating individuals instead of the team. For once, I actually did enjoy the shootout, with shooters like OV, Semin, Crysby, and Letang showing off what they could do IF they got a penalty shot during the actual game. Fun, yes, but not something that should decide the game - just like the NFL changed it's "coin-flip to win the game rule". With as much talent as these two teams have, it makes you wonder how much truth there is in Boudreau's self-proclamation of coaching ability.

Anyway, unless your team was playing tonight, you should have been watching this game. Featured on ice, a potential ECF matchup. Granted, listening to Craig Laughlin's color commentary is marginally more tolerable than sticking a drill in your ear, but if you can filter him out (you probably are deaf - in which case turn off CC) you're in for a real treat. The Pens* ran an overload to one side to get defenders moving that direction, and kick out to the single player opposite the overload. PP was a 4-man net crashing system. The Caps used their typical defenseman pinching offensive system (probably because Mike Green sucks at defense, but is solid at scoring). PK later in the game challenged the Pens* high defenseman, which let directly to a freakin' sweet Semin shorthanded goal. The standard operating procedure of the NHL officiating was in full effect again, making the Pens* seem like they could do no wrong, though nothing too obnoxious was let go (5 Caps penalties, 1 Pens*).

One nice tidbit from the TV feed, Peter Bondra (former Cap, not that many "fans" know these days, now GMs the Slovakia olympic hockey team) hires Glen Hanlon for four years leading up to the Sochi Winter Olympics. Hanlon is the guy the Caps fired one year too soon (hiring Boudreau), after making him suffer through those 'draft collecting' years. I guess everyone needs a fall guy.

We'll close off with a quiz question:
What might Gretzky, Orr, and Ovechkin have in common after this season is completely all said and done?

Three consecutive MVP trophies!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Simon Gagne did WHAT?

Today's Philly@Ottawa game brought out the absolute worst in the NHL's joke of officiating and war-room reviews.

Exhibit 1: Anton Volchenkov clobbers Gagne into the boards (0:56 mark)

How is it that goes totally uncalled, the Sens get a goal (which if it was a penalty, whistle is blown once a Senator touches the puck), and then Simon fucking Gagne gets double-minor instigator (face shield/visor rule), 5 for fighting, and a 10 min misconduct - Volchenkov only gets 2 minutes? And the Sens keep the goal. And then a 7 minute PP. If they got the call right in the first place, none of that crap happens.

Exhibit 2:

Unavailable at the time I'm writing this, but it seems literally everyone not in Toronto's "war room" for replays could see the puck over the goal line, and a Senators defenseman close his hand on the puck to pull it out of the goal. Yeah, there's a few things wrong with that one too. So for now, I'll just link you to a thread on, since it has less bias than I do.

Exhibit 3:

No penalty.

The Washington Steroiders?

First, the AP article talking about the VA doc who claims to have provided Washington Capitals and Washington Nationals players with steroids (via Yahoo! Sports).

Finally, me. This is bullshit, and the guy is grasping at straws that aren't there. Around half a dozen Capitals played in the Vancouver Winter Olympics, which tests blood for nearly everything from performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to red blood cell count. Positive for steroids? Banned. Positive for masking agents? Banned. Hormone levels don't seem right? Temporary suspension and retest a few days later. The point here is hopefully pretty clear. The players on the Capitals (at least the good enough ones to make the Olympics - the same ones who carry their club team) are clean and this doc is lying.

Then again, the Nats could probably use it...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Interesting fight: Scott Hartnell/Jim Slater

Jim Slater is not a fighter. Entering this weekend, in his first 323 career regular season games, Slater accumulated six fights. Then he encountered a home and home with Philadelphia.

On Saturday, Slater fought Dan Carcillo, who has quite a few fights under his belt. I'm not sure who started the fight, but Slater looked to be pretty aggressive in initiation from the camera angle I saw.

Then on Sunday, a pretty funny fight happened. Slater pressed the issue with Scott Hartnell. Hartnell got a few good shots in; nothing looked to really land solid, but he was throwing well. The two separate, Hartnell takes off his elbow pads, and as he is taking off his visored helmet, Slater dives right in and tackles Hartnell. The two squared up and instead of letting Hartnell remove his protection from his face, Slater just jumps on top of Hartnell.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bruins/Penguins yawnfest

Good on Matt Cooke to not only stand up for himself on his first shift of the night, but to do so against Shawn Thornton. And actually square off too.

Decent first period, but the rest of the game was boring. No hitting, no emotion. The Bruins played like doormats. They don't deserve to make the playoffs.

The most ironic call of the night was at 16:28 of the 3rd. The Bruins were called for too many men on the ice. I'd say they didn't have enough men on the ice.

The ball is in your court, NHL

Everyone's been talking about the Bruins and Penguins game tonight. EVERYONE. I mean, even ESPN (you know, the network that dropped NHL hockey because people stopped watching).

This is a coast to coast news story, in both the US and Canada.

This is a game that will be televised nationally in the US (granted, on the NHL Network, which doesn't have quite the same oomph of NBC, but that's for another post).

And what does the NHL do?

Drop the ball. At least so far.

According to, both NHL head disciplinarian and famed balldropper Colin Campbell, and director of officiating Terry Gregson will not only be in attendance, but will also speak to both GMs, head coaches, and locker rooms prior to tonight's matchup. Why? "In an effort to keep things under control."

So the NHL is in a position where it has one of its biggest stars and an Original 6 team involved in a game making this much press in the US. And it's swift response to is attempt to quell one of its biggest draws before it even has a chance to develop.

And no folks, for once, I'm not talking about fighting. I'm talking about rivalries. Remember when the Red Wings and Avalanche had a real rivalry? One that was marketed so well in the US and had passive Americans turning on their televisions to hockey. Well, it started because of this hit. Matt Cooke's hit wasn't nearly as gruesome, but we will see how many more games Savard misses compared to Draper. That should fuel the fire in Beantown, amongst the fans, players, coaches, management, and ownership. But the NHL is striving to avoid this fire at all costs.

Does the league not know what's good for it? This is one of the first times that America is paying attention to hockey in a long time. And for good reason. We want blood, we want carnage, but most of all, we want a good hockey game. Not a game with a marathon to the penalty box in the first period because of iffy interference calls, resulting in three quick power play goals. We want a good back and forth game, with strong forechecking, some fights, and most importantly, the referees' whistles in their pockets.

But we all know that'll never happen. Because the NHL is its own worst enemy.


In other news, kudos to James Wisniewski for rocking Brent Seabrook. There probably should have been a penalty call on the original hit given the standard of officiating in the NHL (it was a high hit on Perry), but since there wasn't, Wisniewski took justice into his own hands. He knew Seabrook wasn't going to fight, so he made sure he felt the punishment for his crime.

Kudos to Duncan Keith for stepping up for his partner. Keith entered the game with four fights in his NHL career, including one in the preseason, for a whopping .010 fights per game. Wisniewski isn't exactly Bob Probert, but he has a decent amount of fights (14 in 248 games, or .056 per game). Wis isn't exactly fighting scrubs either. Not the best card out there, but he's not known as a fighter.

Not sure why this wasn't called an instigator, as this was the textbook definition of the penalty:

47.11 Instigator - An instigator of an altercation shall be a player or goalkeeper who by his actions or demeanor demonstrates any/some of the following criteria: distance traveled; gloves off first; first punch thrown; menacing attitude or posture; verbal instigation or threats; conduct in retaliation to a prior game (or season) incident; obvious retribution for a previous incident in the game or season.

Not that I'm complaining. Keith did the right thing, and for once, the referees let the players take care of their own, for the good of the game.

Eight games is pretty stiff in my book, but his hit was malicious. I don't understand though; Cooke doesn't get suspended even though he blindsided somebody, Ovechkin gets suspended for hitting someone who saw him coming from behind/the side, and Wisniewski hit someone who was looking right at him. The first two resulted in severe injuries; the second one resulted in a minor injury that probably won't cause any games missed.

In the first case, the NHL chose not to suspend a dirty player who acted with some degree of malice and caused a major injury. In the second case, the NHL chose to suspend a questionable player who acted with no malice and caused a major injury. In the third case, the NHL chose to suspend a clean and responsible player who acted out of character, with malice, and caused a minor injury.

I understand suspending for malicious intent, but I think this is a bit much. I'd rather see no suspension, since no injury occurred, but a hefty fine instead for recklessness. It's a tough call, but the standard is unclear on this one.

Bruce Boudreau is a Moron

Here's an excerpt from a solid article:

Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau said he wasn't particularly shocked by the announcement, nor was he particularly happy about it.

"You knew the possibility was there, obviously," Boudreau said. "I think sometimes it's the problem of having the most popular player in the world on your team. It gets also the most publicity.

"I'm really disappointed for Alex. You try to look at this from an objective view and I can see where, if you're not a Washington fan or a part of Washington, you're sitting there, 'Yeah suspend him, suspend him'," said Boudreau. "If you're looking at it from our point of view, people keep calling it a reckless hit and to me it was a push from behind that, if he had have gone straight, he would have gone on the ice.

"I didn't think it was the right call but I've been wrong almost every time on these and I know how tough a job it is for (Colin Campbell)," Boudreau added. "Holy smokes, I wouldn't want to have his job when he wakes up and sees that hit."

Boudreau added he didn't think it was necessarily a great move for the game of hockey.

"If this was Sidney Crosby doing it, everybody outside of Pittsburgh would have cried foul. 'Suspned him for the year!'," said Boudreau. "I don't think it does the game any good to have Alex suspended, but that's just me, that's just my opinion. He's so much fun to watch that I think the game is hurting when he's not playing."

So wait, because it's your player, Alexander Ovechkin, he shouldn't be suspended? He's too good for the sport to suspend? The best part of having a blog is the chance to do stuff like this:

Bruce Boudreau, go fist yourself.

PS: I'm actually a HUGE Ovechkin fan, and didn't think he should be suspended, especially with incidents like this going on with no penalty. Consistency, ain't it a bitch? Sure is for the NHL.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Philadelphia Flyers Goaltending - Worst. Luck. Ever.

Well fuck...

Let's take a look at the depth chart, shall we:

RankPlayer's NameLeague | TeamStatusInjuryDuration
1Ray EmeryNHL Philadelphia FlyersLTIRhipout for the season
2Michael LeightonNHL Philadelphia Flyersinjuredhigh ankle sprainunknown, possibly a few weeks
3Brian BoucherNHL Philadelphia Flyersinjuredfluunknown, possibly a few days
4Jonas BacklundAHL Adirondack Phantomsinjuredunknownunknown

Seriously, that sucks. Jeremy Duschene (ECHL Kalamazoo Wings / AHL Adirondack Phantoms), come on down, you're the next contestant! Who the hell has to call up a minor-minor leaguer to potentially START IN NET? I guarantee you Dallas is licking their chops, this could get UGLY. At least he's kind of a local guy from Silver Spring, MD.

Maybe Ed Snider shouldn't break a mirror over a black cat's head under a ladder next time...

Monday, March 15, 2010

A typical Dion Phaneuf play

Dion Phaneuf throws his elbow at Kyle Okposo after the latter becomes aware of Dion's presence and sidesteps the bodycheck. The Phaneuf gets run from behind.

Good. Glad someone else noticed how dirty he is, and unaccountable he is. Hide behind that visor Celine. Run boy, run.

Sean Avery

A picture is worth a thousand words. That's Avery now, here's what I expect the last two games of the season:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

In response to the below post

This is a longer response than is justified in the comments box.

This is Ovechkin's third GM this season. He had one a few years ago for boarding Danny Briere.

He will not be suspended:

When a player or goalkeeper has played in 41 consecutive regular League games without being assessed a stick-related major and a game misconduct penalty according to Rule 20– Major Penalties or Rule 22 – Misconduct Penalties, he will have the previous game misconduct penalties removed from his current record. They will remain part of his historical record.

This is his 42nd game since. Go figure.

I agree that this should not be a game misconduct, or even a major. A double minor is out of the question because it is not in play for a boarding penalty, but a minor would suffice. My understanding of the rules is that a major is reserved for intentional, negligent, or otherwise dangerous plays. This was a hockey play. Ovechkin pushed Campbell a la Apolo Ohno on Ahn Hyun-Soo. Ovechkin is too big, too strong, and was skating with too much speed, so he had his way with Campbell, who succumbed to the momentum and fell awkwardly into the boards.

The rule states that a boarding penalty is to be imposed when a player is thrown violently into the boards after being checked. This was clearly the case. However, the rule also states that the player with the puck must avoid putting himself in a compromising position, which clearly did not happen.

Now, my theory is that the NHL brass wanted Ovechkin to be tossed to avoid any confrontations on the ice in a nationally televised game. The players have been fed this nonsense about not retaliating, and trying to get the other team back by scoring goals, and for this trick to work the player in question has to be removed from the picture. If Ovechkin stays in the game, he will get in several confrontations, which is against the NHL's ideal image.

The Blackhawks should have responded by clobbering Green on the very next shift, and for the rest of the game. Hit 'em where it hurts. Maybe they would've won. Instead Green had 2 assists, a +2, and a shot on goal, and continues to be among my best fantasy performers.

Alexander the Obliterator

First of all, that's a legal hit. That isn't a major, double-minor, or even minor penalty. Campbell is too far away for it to be boarding. AO absolutely crushed him, and in today's sissy NHL, players go down a little easier than a drunken senior-year sorority girl at last call. Man up and try to fight AO off, and there's no penalty and no injury.

The problem here, is the referee penalizing the RESULT instead of the ACTION. If Campbell doesn't fall, there's no foul - pretty hard to deny here. Pierre's disgusting love-fest for OV is a little unsettling, but he has a point. Ovechkin is strong. The NHL used to be a league of manly men with grizzly beards and jack-o-lantern grins, not this diving to draw a penalty crap.

The worst part about this, if my memory serves me right, is that's the great eight's third game misconduct. Automatic suspension under that rule, before the "supplementary discipline depending on whether I like you or not" from Colin Campbell comes thundering down from Mt Olympus. That sucks for AO, and the game of hockey. Let's hope this doesn't turn into an Evgeni Malkin incident from the playoffs...that might make this already deplorably-handled situation worse.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A letter to the NHL GMs

To whom it may concern,

If you want to stop hits to the head, prevent them on the ice. Punish the Matt Cooke's, the Dion Phaneuf's, the Jarkko Ruutu's, the Steve Ott's, and so on. But not with suspensions. Punish them on the ice. Send someone to take their heads off. I bet they'll stop then.

Where were you when Lindros was crushed all of those times? At home, watching it on tv, cheering for the big hit. But now that there is no one pressing the issue on the ice (everyone wants to "get back at them by scoring the game tying goal" - which, not surprisingly, is a lot harder to do when your best player is injured), these hits keep racking up. Why punish players like Doug Weight for his perfectly legal hit on Brent Sutter? According to the new proposal, this lateral hit will become illegal. Smart? Of course not. But that's the world us hockey fans now live in.

"The following language was agreed to unanimously by the group: "A lateral, back pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted.

A violation of the above will result in a minor or major penalty and shall be reviewed for possible supplemental discipline."


Waning hockey fans everywhere

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How To Lose A Hockey Game (Presented by the Columbus Blue Jackets)

This might seem painfully obvious, but I don't think five shots on goal through two periods is going to cut it, especially when the goalie's last name is Quick. Kings up 6-0 over the Blue Jackets through two. Rumor has it, the Kings goalie stayed on ice during the mites intermission game to warm back up for the third. Coincidentally, he also faced five shots.

Unfortunately, only half of that was made up:
CLS @ LA Box Score

Monday, March 8, 2010

Congratulations to Jarome Iginla

In scoring his 30th goal last night (and his 28th and 29th, for his 10th career hat trick), Iggy has now scored 30 or more goals in the last 9 seasons. He barely missed the mark in 98-99 and 99-00 when he scored 28 and 29 goals, respectively.

Iggy has 348 goals and 369 assists in 696 games dating back to the start of the 2000-2001 season. Not bad numbers for a guy who's never played with a true number one center, and has only played on a defensive minded team.

Thanks for being one of the pistons that makes my fantasy team's motor run.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trade Deadline

The trade deadline is Wednesday, March 3, at 3 PM noon EST. I will unfortunately be at work, so I will not be able to provide a steady stream of information, but I highly recommend as a prime source of information. It's not quite as fast as local news agencies or team websites, but it's reliable and quick, and chock full of top notch sports analysts.

Here's to hoping the Caps upgrade defensively and physically. Steve Staois could be a good fit.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Big Difference - NHL vs International Hockey

After watching some fantastic international hockey in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver (some of you may heard of it), going back to the NHL is kind of a bummer. Don't get me wrong, I love hockey, but the differences are painful to the game:

  • The NHL's Trapezoid Rule (aka the Martin Brodeur is too good rule) - The trapezoid behind the goal line / goal is the only place that the goalie can play the puck in the NHL. If he plays it outside this, it's a 2-min minor penalty. There was none of this nonsense in international play. If a goalie thinks they're good enough to play the puck, let them try. They screw up - a forechecker gets an easy shot at a goal. The original excuse for starting this rule was to "increase scoring" by preventing the goalies from playing the puck in the corners.
  • Hits to the Head - Why the NHL still hasn't made this a penalty is beyond me. Two minutes is easy, and at least simpler than the subjective, arcane suspension system in place with Colin Campbell in place.
  • Penalties - Look at a box score one day. Why does the NHL feel the need to call seemingly 10 penalties a game? The Olympics had better flow because they let the players play, and called penalties to keep control of a game - not decide it. A man advantage in a 5 on 5 sport would be like having to play an 11-man football team with 9 guys.

We'll see if the NHL/NHLPA can get some of this sorted out next season. The penalties do go down in the playoffs, but it should be like that every night. And if they can't get their acts together, and they decide to stop sending NHL players to the Olympics, at least we only have 2 years until the end of the world...

Philly @ Tampa, 3.2.10

I got out of class just in time to catch the midpoint of the third period. As I turn on the tv, I see Carcillo just settling into the box. It turns out that due to poor camera work, despite being on national television, that the fight was not even aired.

About three minutes later, Konopka and Asham fight.

And in typical newNHL fashion, the linesmen jump in way too early. Big surprise. The players don't even protest it, but they are visibly upset. Right when the fighters really get swinging, the linesmen jump in. As I recall, the linesmen are supposed to only intervene when it is safe to do so, if the players are done fighting, or if there is an obvious disadvantage for one player.

Whatever. Sharks/Devils now. Hopefully Gary Bettman's all tucked into bed now with his teddy bear, and we can see an actual fight...

First post!

This is a new blog, dedicated to sports. Especially hockey. Specifically, NHL hockey.

If anyone wants to be a blogger, let me know, and I will invite you. If you post like an idiot, then I will delete you.