Saturday, April 02, 2005


Weekend News & Notes

I just witnessed the outdoor charity game they played in Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, in which Team East (aka Team Gilmour) beat Team West (Team Staios?) by an 11-8 score.

Despite the total lack of defense and intensity, I have to admit it was mildly entertaining to watch. They had the goalies (Brodeur and Joseph) miked and Randork/Healy were often conversing with them during lulls in their respective ends.

It was interesting to see a mix of current stats (Todd Bertuzzi, Ryan Smyth, Mike Comrie) mixed in with some retired stars (Mike Gartner) and some 'other' retired players (Steven Rice, Joe Cirella...odd choices. Did Tyler Wright turn them down?)

It was also strange to watch the game where the rink is surrounding by an empty football field. You couldn't see the fans in the stands unless they panned up far enough. The lights really glared off of the ice and it was very hard to see the lines and the puck. The players were also skating about 3 miles an hour, but there were quite a few breakaways and scoring chances. For once, Martin Brodeur did a fairly good job behind a crappy defense.

It was also raining during the game and the players had to battle with water and wind...yeah, you heard me.

The Vancouver Giants return home to Vancouver tonight facing elimination. The Kelowna Rockets won a fight-filled (after regulation time, anyway) 3-2 game on Friday night. As has been the case with every game this series, last night's game was thoroughly entertaining and a nail biter right down to the end. If the Giants should fall to the Rockets, this series will surely remind Vancouver fans of the 1989 1st round series against the Flames. The underdog Canucks took a powerhouse Flames team to seven games before succumbing to Joel Otto's controversial OT goal.

TSN's Bob McKenzie says we should brace ourselves for some pretty radical rule changes when the NHL stats up again.

Everyone knows changes are coming to the NHL's on-ice product, once it gets back on the ice, of course. Whether it's in the form of wider blue lines or more penalties being called or the introduction of the shootout or smaller goalie equipment, all these changes are coming, of that there is no doubt.

The big question, though, is how much further will the changes go.
How much further? How about BIGGER nets?

Is this picture of a proposed net a clever April Fool's Joke or more of Gary Bettman's bright ideas to fix the NHL's on-ice product.

Meanwhile, the AHL says the rule changes aren't really working for them. Watching the on-ice product, and noting the the Goals Per Game is only a little bit higher than previous seasons, it's obvious that the AHL rule changes are more cosmetic than anything.

Really, I'd figure the small increase in AHL offense is an effect of having a higher quality pool of talent (Guys like Jason Spezza, who wouldn't normally be there) and little to do with slightly wider lines.

Czech/Slovak League Playoffs Update

*ding**dong*, The clock has struck midnight

Hame Zlin fought back from a 3-1 series deficit in their series against Vitkovice thanks to a Game 7 win by a 4-1 score.

The game started well enough for Vitkovice. A dumb penalty by Vaclav Varada gave a penalty shot chance to Petr Cajanek just 4 minutes into the game, but impish Vitkovice backstop Marek Pinc stuffed Cajanek's solo effort,. Later, Varada made up for his blunder by giving Vitkovice a 1-0 lead in the 2nd period.

Vitkovice's lack of discipline would finally cost them as Petr Hubacek and Pavel Kubina both took penalties at 18:19 of the 2nd period. Petr Cajanek, still seething from missing his penalty shot chance, buried the biscuit to tie the affair in a easy 5-on-3 combination.

Petr Hubacek (The ex-Flyer) took another bad penalty early in the 3rd period, and Martin Erat made him pay with another Power Play goal. Cajanek would add 2 more in the period and notch a hat trick to send Zlin to the finals against Pardubice.

Before this game, Cajanek was really struggling offensively with just 2 goals and 4 assists in 12 playoff games. It's about time he got going, because Pardubice has a lot more fire power to deal with than the tough Vitkovice squad.

Over in Slovakia, the mighty Dukla Trencin machine fell in Game 7 to evil Slovan Bratislava by a whacked out 8-2 tally!, thanks to 3 goals by the devil himself (Miro Satan). Satan now has 13 goals in 12 playoff games and leads all playoff scorers with 18 points.

Despite the fact that $lovan kept changing goalies every 10 minutes during this series, they were able to effectively break down the usually tight Trencin defensive shell and hold the Big 3 off of the scoreboard just enough to win the series.

Marian Gaborik was the only effective player for Trencin in Game 7 with 1 goal and 1 assist while Pavol Demitra was -4 (with 1 assist) and Marian Hossa was -2 and pointless. It's such a shame that Trencin was blown out so badly in Game 7, but it also exposed the lack of quality goaltending on Trencin's roster.

Now the finals are set as HKm Zvolen (Handzus, Orszagh, Zednik), who have cruised through the playoffs so far, take on Slovan Bratislava (Satan, Visnovsky, Ciger) in a battle of the Top 2 teams (Both finished with 107 points this season).

It should be pretty obvious which team I'll be cheering for ;)

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