Friday, March 31, 2006
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Canucks Go Wild while Vancouver Doesn't
Sounds exciting, doesn't it?
Too bad for us that the game was on frickin PAY PER VIEW.
I realize the Canucks are a for-profit enterprise and they have every right to try and maximize their revenues. Just don't give me this BS about "The networks don't want the games."
What was SPORTSNET showing during the game? NBA Basketball.
Not just any NBA basketbore, but Golden State versus New Orleans.
Umm...K. I'm so shure that Sportsnet told the Canucks "I'm sorry, but we can't possibly show the Canucks tonight when we have one of the premier NBA matchups between two teams nobody gives a rat's ass about"
In reality, it's Sportsnet basically saying "We don't have Canucks hockey tonight, so we're not even going to bother to try and get viewers to watch our channel"
As my friend Duc suggests, we need to have an organized boycott of Canucks PAY-PER-VIEW games. Let Orca Bay know that we're cheapskates and we want our hockey free DAMMIT!!!
*SIGH*, we'll just have to wait for the eventual bandwagon exodus.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Jaroslav Balastik: "Automatic"
From the Columbus Dispatch:
On a Blue Jackets team with highly skilled players such as Rick Nash, Nikolai Zherdev, Sergei Fedorov and David Vyborny, the first player on coach Gerard Gallant’s shootout list is unheralded winger Jaroslav Balastik, a rookie from the Czech Republic.Hmm, well the New NHL does have room for a shootout specialist on a roster, if you stretch your delusion a little. I'm just glad he's been able to find some measure of success in a rough rookie season.
"I’ll go to him (first) every time," Gallant said recently. "Why not get one on the board early?"
Call him Jaroslav Automatik.
Balastik had the shootout winner in Saturday’s momentous 5-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings in Joe Louis Arena.
It was Balastik’s third shootout winner and the fourth time overall he’s won a game for the Blue Jackets, who play host to the San Jose Sharks tonight in Nationwide Arena.
"It makes me feel very good, of course," Balastik said, "like I’m part of the team."
Balastik is 6 of 8 (75 percent) on shootout attempts, the second-best rate in the NHL. Only Dallas’ Jussi Jokinen (9 of 11, 81.8 percent) has a higher percentage with at least eight attempts.
Now, does Jaroslav come back next season? Or go back to Zlin?
Balastik’s sniper skills are undeniable. On Saturday, he turned Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood inside out with a wicked little wrister inside the near post.One other area which I believe has held back Balastik has been his reluctance to be the bane of goaltenders. Back in Czechia, Balastik hacked, whacked, and smacked goaltenders around on a routine basis. He was chippy, dirty, and just a plain pain in the ass around the goal crease. Jaro might be more afraid of the physical retribution he'd receive in the NHL. The Extraleague doesn't have many goons and enforcer types.
But Balastik’s game has some shortcomings.
He is not a gifted skater, often lagging behind the play. He’s not a physical player, despite being 6 feet 2, 205 pounds.
And, away from the bigger ice surfaces of Europe, Balastik has had trouble creating space for himself.
MacLean said he’s leaning toward bringing Balastik back, but there has "got to be a major commitment by him to improve his skating and his strength."
(Assist to Tara for the linkage)
Speaking of silky-smooth shootout artists, check out today's video clip of Michal Handzus' first shootout attempt of the season.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Well, Shiver me Timbers!
So, every so often I'll come across a stat line or number that completely blows my mind.
Jonathan Cheechoo - 45 goals
45!! Cheechoo?? WO RLY!?
His high back in the OHL was 45 goals. He's got a real chance for 50...did you ever picture Johnathan Cheechoo as a 50-goal scorer? I sure as hell didn't.
Other stats that blew me away, although not quite so much:
Matt Stajan - Leads the league with 8 shorthanded points.
Joe Thornton - 81 assists! I know he's the big reason why Cheechoo is scoring a lot of goals, but we haven't had too many nice big totals like this in quite some time.
Toronto Maple Leafs - For all of the codding they get for scheduling on Saturday Nights, they sure don't do well with a 9-12-1 record. Mondays? They are 8-1-1.
Tomas Kaberle - 40 Power Play assists to lead the league.
Got any others that kinda shocked ya?
Adjusted Standings: F the OT
This isn't meant to be all that scientific, but it is interesting nonetheless...
1. Ottawa 121
2. Carolina 111
3. NY Rangers 98
4. Buffalo 103
5. Philadelphia 95
6. Montreal 82 (up from 7)
7. Tampa Bay 81
8. New Jersey 79
9. Atlanta 75
10. Toronto 72 (up from 11)
11. Boston 69 (up from 13)
12. Florida (down from 10)
13. NY Islanders 67
14. Washington 49
15. Pittsburgh 39
1. Detroit 122
2. Dallas 104
3. Calgary 97
4. Nashville 101
5. Anaheim 99
6. Colorado 93
7. Vancouver 89
8. San Jose 88
9. Los Angeles 82
10. Edmonton 82 (down from 7)
11. Minnesota 78
12. Phoenix 68
13. Chicago 46 (up from 14)
14. Columbus 45
15. St.Louis 42
Dallas, even with it's awesomeness in the shootouts, still rocks even without those bonus points. Edmonton, on the other hand, has really benefitted from the OT points and Vancouver and San Jose can't be pleased about that.
Drinking Crown Royal in Vancouver
After a long 21-game drought, hard-working rookie Alex Burrows had his first career hat-trick and combined with Ryan Kesler and Todd Bertuzzi on a very effective and physical line. It also helped that Mathieu Garon was teh suck.
I know it's cliché, but every one of these games now feels like a playoff game. With each loss by the Canucks, and each win by Edmonton, San Jose, and Anaheim, the tension and anxiety grows. With each win, it's a little bit of ecstacy. Every regular season game is worth just as much as any other (well, with OT loss points, it's not really, but you know what I mean), but the games just have more 'urgency' to them when each win, loss, and tie is magnified and the number of games remaining shrinks.
PS: Somebody kneecap Teemu Selanne. He's helping my boss in the office pool and helping the Ducks.
As for grumpy Todd Bertuzzi, it's been a la-la-la-la-long-long-li-long-long time since he's worked this hard. Was he infected with the youthful enthusiasm put out by Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows? Or is it simply his time of the month? Whatever the case may be, Bertuzzi needs to put that kind of effort out more often.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Allison. Injured. Shocking. YA RLY!
Before the season, Leafs GM John Ferguson was clearly over his head and up the creek without a paddle.
In a fit of desperation, he signed some cheap vets with some shaky histories to some one-year contracts. With little cap space and a need for players that didn't suck so bad, plus the lemmings to placate, it made sense in a 'patch-the-tire-with-scotch-tape' sort of way. Those 3 guys? Eric Lindros, Jason Allison, and Jeff O'Neill.
Despite all the flak the Leafs took for signing those 3 flunkies, the Leafs actually got a decent return on their investment. Signing these 3 players is not the reason the Leafs are not in the playoffs at the moment.
By the numbers:
Jason Allison - $1.5mil salary
66GP 17-43-60 -18 76 PIM
Despite his defensive suckiness, and the fact that his skating is painfully slow, Allison was a stone-cold point producer. With 39 Power Play points, Allison proved that he is deadly with the man-advantage, and provided the Leafs with a pretty good 2nd line center for most of the season. His offensive prowess overshadows his defensive weaknessess and $1.5mil in salary rarely gets you a 60-point player.
Allison has proven that his is over his concussion history and has proven he can still be a playa in the NHL. He may have earned himself a nice contract with another club next season.
Eric Lindros - $1.55mil salary
33GP 11-11-22 -3 44PIM
The Leafs probably recouped half of that salary in sweater/merch sales alone. Lindros is obviously far from a dominant player, but he was on pace for around 50 points. His defense on the wings isn't too bad, and he can still throw a big hit or two (and then he shatters). Obviously, a big chunk of the $1.5mil doesn't count towards the cap. For his production, and the risk/reward, the Leafs got a good deal out of this one.
If Lindros wants to return to the Leafs for about the same price (cheap), the Leafs should strongly consider it. Even Lindros must realize that he's not going to do better on the open market, and Toronto is where he wants to be. Expect Eric to be a Leaf next year.
Jeff O'Neill - $1.5mil salary
64GP 16-17-33 -20 56PIM (12 PPgoals)
It seemed too good to be true. Jeff O'Neill proven NHL goal scorer taking a hometown discount to play with the Leafs after the death of his brother.
Well, sometimes you get what you pay for. Other than the fact that O'Neill got a bunch of PP goals early in the season, he's actually been a detriment to the Leafs with his horrible defensive indifference and his bad penalties.
Contrary to what many mediots think, players like O'Neill are actually better off in the press box than on the ice. O'Neill is not very productive at even strength, and he gives up so much as a defensive liability (through goals and penalties) that this signing has been worse than a bust for the Leafs.
Given O'Neill's past history, he was actually a riskier signing than Lindros and Allison. With Eric and Jason, you simply worried about injuries more than anything. With O'Neill, you have to worry about his actual level of play. Even in his best years, O'Neill was highly overrated.
So, Leafs lemmings ought not to swear all that much about these 3 signings. Sure, Allison and Lindros got injured...that was to be expected. O'Neill was a detriment, but at least his salary wasn't a killer.
If you analyze the $4.5mil-ish salary the Leafs paid for these three players and what the Leafs got out of that salary, they got a good return on their dollar (one turned out very well, one turned OK, and one kind of sucked). Not only that, but these players aren't tied up in long-term albatross deals.
I mean, they could have paid Nikolai Khabibulin $6.75mil a season for eternity to suck eggs.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Jes's Secret Video Collection: Part Two
Petr Svoboda of the Czech Republic scores the lone goal in a 1-0 Gold Medal victory over the evil Russians at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. The feed cuts to the old town square in Prague, where people are up watching the game.
I can remember cheering quite loudly when Svoboda scored this goal. I had adopted the Czechs as my team after they beat Canada, but I had liked them throughout the tournament. Seeing a lot of strange unknown names like Jiri Dopita, Pavel Patera, Milan Hejduk, and Jaroslav Spacek (this was just before I started following Czech and Slovak hockey closely) plus the return of VLADIMIR RUZICKA and FRANTISEK KUCERA was just too awesome.
Trouble in Lotusland: Who's the Rat down south?
Steve Gorten, some reporter/journalist/columnist nobody outside of his apartment has heard of, was discussing the infighting among the Canucks players and how this team is going to hell, etc etc
The biggest issue remains Bertuzzi's apparent disinterested play and its effect on fellow forward Markus Naslund. There is a sense that Bertuzzi, notorious for his vicious hit on the Avalanche's Steve Moore in 2003-04, and Naslund have formed their own confederacy within the team and are choosing to spend less time with teammates. That's significant because Naslund is captain and Bertuzzi an alternate captain. Neither had a point in five games until Friday, when each had an assist.*yawn* OK, nothing new there.
Crawford told the Vancouver Sun: "There certainly is no division in our group. It is a strong group. Because we haven't performed well, yeah, we're a little bit fragile."Hmm, so if this Steve Gorten isn't lying out of his ass, then we have a rat on our hands.
Despite those assertions, one former Canucks player, who started the season in Vancouver, privately told a Canucks reporter the situation is 10 times worse than one might think.
Who's started the season in Vancouver and is no longer there?
There are the numerous AHLers who have been promoted and demoted to the AHLs Manitoba Moose. These suspects are very unlikely to talk to a reporter from Florida. Also, they aren't truly 'former' Canucks since they are in the organization.
So, guys like Rob McVicar, Lee Goren (who would be the likely candidate to be bitter, if any of these guys were), Tyler Bouck, and Nathan Smith could be suspects, but it's highly unlikely that it would be them.
Who's been traded or waived from the Canucks this season?
Unless I am missing anyone obvious, it's a pretty damn short list.
Fedor? He has no love for the Canucks thanks to his stormy relationship with former GM Brian Burke and the fact that the Canucks actually wanted him to work hard and break a sweat. Could it be likely that he'd be the 'rat'? Somewhat, but he hasn't played in the NHL since October. I doubt this reporter is talking to AHL guys.
Tomas Mojzis? Hmm, the Blues play in the Central, and he's a pretty quiet Czech guy. He has never struck me as the kind of guy that would go around whispering about his club. I doubt he has too many bad things to say about Vancouver, since they gave him a real first shot at the NHL and he was quite happy to be here.
Steve McCarthy? *DING*, We *MAY* have a winner.
Plays near Florida? Check. He's now with Atlanta.
Reason to be bitter? Check. Crawford rarely gave him more than a few minutes of ice time every game and their relationship didn't seem to be a good one. It was Steve's childhood dream to play with the Canucks, and now that is gone.
If this exercise seems a bit silly, well it is. Does it matter who made a rather blase anonymous comment to some writer from a South Floridian newspaper? Not really. Does it feed the fire? Somewhat, but how many Canucks fans care what a reporter in Florida thinks? The talk-radio shows here have far worse gossip from 'closer' sources.
On the other hand, it was seemingly pretty easy to narrow the candidates. Remember when the NHL Players poll asked NHL goalies to comment on who they thought where the best goalies among their peer group? The two Colorado goalies (Aebischer and Budaj) both commented anonymously and both commented with the same answer. If you are going to use anonymous sources, try to hide them a bit better than that. Really, it's like saying an anonymous Prime Minister of a North American country thinks poor people should go to hell and die.
Could we get a refund or a return on these trades??
Eric Weinrich: 8GP 0-0-0 -7 6PIM
Keith Carney: 8GP 0-1-1 -3 4 PIM
Mika Noronen: 2GP 0-1-0 3.94GAA 86.1 SV%
Friday, March 24, 2006
Jes's Secret Video Collection: Part One
I have quite a stash of videoclips saved on my computer. YouTube now allows us to upload the videos and then post them on our websites. Brilliant, and free!!
I'd thought I'd share this beauty from Geoff Sanderson from the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals.
Why was Ed Belfour way out of his net? Because, dummy, Geoff Sanderson's one and only move is to shoot the puck from the wing. Sanderson finally caught wind of the fact that "Hey, maybe I should try something else", and the fake-shot worked wonderfully.
Who wants a Beer Bath?
Oh, those crazy Czechs!
It's not enough that they drink hella more beer than anyone else, but now they want to bathe in it!
Prague - A spa - believed to be the world's first beer health centre - has opened in the cellar of a family brewery in the Czech Republic.
On offer are beer baths, beer massages and beer cosmetics at the spa at the Chodovar Family brewery in Chodova Plana.
The converted cellars include seven huge baths inspired by Victorian design where guests can swim in beer while sipping a pint at a bathside bar.
For a £80 weekend package, guests can indulge in a range of health treatments such as beer wraps, starting at £12 per session.
The spa's owner, Jiri Plevka, said: "Beer can treat a range of conditions, particularly skin conditions, and the health centre should appeal to men who are put off by 'posh' traditional spas."
Beer Health Centre?
Just imagine how nasty the average Czech guy would smell after dousing themselves in beer for an hour. Wouldn't you be tempted to start drinking the bathbeer?? This is just conflicting on so many levels.
Pavol's Getting Some Work Done
Contrary to what certain numbskulls may be sayin', Pavol ain't soft. Pavol don't sit out games with a bruised hand. Getting concussions from hits-from-behind and pucks in the face is just plain bad luck.
Well, now Pavol is truly a Los Angelino thanks to the fact that he has to get some work done on his face. Maybe he can meet a few celebs while he's in the recovery romper room.
From the LA Times:
As the Kings were practicing Thursday for the first time under interim Coach John Torchetti, the much-missed Pavol Demitra was scheduling surgery for today.Face it, Queens fans, your team is done. D-O-N-E like plum Dim Sum in your tum. No Pavol = No Playoffs. Oh, and my office pool is wrax0red thanks to Milan Jurcina. >:(
"Right now there are just too many problems and they don't really know which one is the problem," said Demitra, who also has been experiencing headaches.
"It's either my eye, a mild concussion or a sinus infection. I tried to skate the last two days but I can't really breathe through my nose. They're going to fix that and clean out the sinus infection, and then we'll find out if it's the concussion that's keeping me from playing."
The high-scoring Demitra has missed every game but one since returning from the Winter Olympics, where he was hit in the face by a puck while playing for his native Slovakia — suffering a fractured nose and bleeding behind his right eye. He came back against the Coyotes on March 14 but was hit hard and left the game. The King forward was diagnosed with a concussion and missed the last three games.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Photo of the Day: Jiri Dopita Comes Out!
In a bid to inspire his Znojmo teammates in their playoff series against Vitkovice, Jiri Dopita dons a blonde wig and threatens to do a striptease if they lose the series.
Fortunately for his teammates, it worked and they took the series 4-2.
If I were an NHL player, I'd be...
Although the easy answer is to say 'any' player's career (playing hockey for money, why be picky?), I'd want the pick of the litter.
Why would I want to have the career of Chris Kunitz? Struggling to find a position in a lineup and being waived and shuffled around doesn't seem like that much fun. Eric Cairns? I'd rather not have to be smacked around by Zdeno Chara. Mats Sundin? Why would I want the immense pressure of Leafs Nation, much less the curse of looking like a troll.
Pavol Demitra? Well, the bald look wouldn't ever go well with me, and I'd like not to be injured every five minutes.
Thinking long and hard for about 2 minutes, I'd want to have the career of the goalie I hate the most: Martin Brodeur.
"Brodeur? That must mean you really like him! HA HA!"
Why Martin? Easy. Who wouldn't want to be the man with the golden horseshoe up his ass? Sure, I'd need to buy a lot of Vaseline, but it'd be worth it. I would love to be an above-average goaltender who has had everything go right for him.
1. The Money - Martin gets paid $5.237 million per season at the moment, and was getting over $6mil before the lockout. I'm not all that materialistic, but I would love to make enough money to really retire at 35.
2. Achievement - Martin has had the great fortune on being in the right place at the right time for his entire career. Team Canada gold, a Vezina, and 3 Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils. Yeah, I'd hit it. Before his career is over, Brodeur should have the gold standard for career victories, even as the Devils decline from their dynasty years.
3. Health - Apart from taking a Stephane Richer slapshot to the balls in a pre-game warmup (which shattered his cup and gave him quite a nasty bruise), Martin has had very little happen to him in his career. Martin can play 75 games a year and look none the worse for wear.
4. Looks - Hockey players are pretty nasty creatures, but Martin is a fairly decent looking guy. He appears to have all of his natural teeth, and I'm sure the French-Canadian women swarm him when he cruises the Montreal nightclubs.
5. Fame - Apart from the realists who know Brodeur isn't as good as his superficial numbers (Wins) and know he has never deserved a Vezina Trophy, most mediots and fans go googoo over Brodeur. Brodeur is going to the Hall of Fame, and he doesn't need to buy a ticket. Hockey has been berry berry good to Martin.
6. New Jersey? I'm sure there are nice places in that state for the rich folks to live. If it was so bad, he would have fled the first chance he had. NJ is close to New York and Philly, so there are always good places to travel to in a short distance. During the season, there is rarely any long travel as most games are within a short flight or train ride distance.
Being a very private individual myself, I'd probably appreciate the anonymity I could have in New Jersey. If Brodeur played in Vancouver, he'd have to deal with the insane negativity of the fanbase, and couldn't go out and buy groceries without being asked 1,000 times to pose for pictures, sign autographs, and spare some change.
What? You thought I'd pick Sidney Crosby? Have you seen his teeth?
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Oh Todd Bertuzzi, where art thou?
Since the Olympic Break, a tournament in which Bertuzzi did little of anything except watch figure skating, "Bert" has been one of the chief reasons why the Canucks are choking like a Buffalo sports team in the finals of any sport.
11 games, 1 goal, 4 assists, -9, and 12PIM.
Only 1 of his points has come at even strength.
Bertuzzi is now 4th in scoring on the Canucks. FOURTH!!!
His -17 is tied with Markus Naslund for the team's worst, and they are way below anyone else.
Naslund? He hasn't been great, but he's doing a lot more and firing a lot more shots. He'd probably be better off without the 245lbs of hairy weight hanging off of his neck every night.
Since he sat at home and watch his countrymen win gold, Markus has 3 goals and 3 assists in 11 games with an awful -9. It's crappy, but he's had 43 shots on goal and seems to be just firing blanks.
Bertuzzi is SO gone this offseason.
Player Poll: King of the Faceoffs
Not surprisingly, Yanic Perreault, the king of faceoffs, won with 17 votes.
The #2 man in the league, Rod Brind'Amour, walked away with 7 votes.
The other nominees?
#3 man Joe Nieuwendyk picked up 2 votes
#4 man Jarret Stoll (yes, Jarret Stoll) picked up a vote from Brendan Morrison
Mats Sundin, ranked 20th, also received a vote from former teammate Kevyn Adams.
The strangest nominations? Jason Arnott and Steve Rucchin.
"There's a bunch, but Jason Arnott is pretty good." -- Jarret Stoll
Pretty good? D00d is 568 and 550 for a 50.81%. He's not THAT good.
As for Rucchin, he got the vote from Tim "the Tool Man" Taylor.
I always thought of Rucchin as a good faceoff artist, but D00d has taken a hard fall this year, winning just 47.78% of his draws (451 and 493)
The season before the lockout, Rucchin was at 53%. At this rate, he'll be asking Sidney Crosby for pointers.
Video: Golden Helmet Finals
For those who may not remember or are new to the sight, the Czech (Tipsport) Extraliga has a sponsored contest each week during the season.
The top 6 plays/actions of the week are voted on by the fans (via SMS, phone, or the website) and the winner gets to wear a shiny gold helmet around and be the target of vicious bodychecks. The usual categories are Stickhandling (Klicko), Save (Zakrok), Pass (Prihravka), Shot (Strela), Combination Play (Souhra), and a "Free" category for anything else (Volna). I really wish the NHL could do something like this.
I don't know how the hell they chose the representatives from each month of this season, but they sure chose the wrong ones. For each of the months below, I can think of at least one play that was a lot more spectacular.
Anyway, here's the action:
1. Roman Malek, Flyers prospect and part-time Keebler Elf, lifts his little leg to rob Slavia's Petr Kadlec on the doorstep.
2. Roman Turek, the big BARGE who did the Flames a big favour and retired from the NHL, sprawls to make a pokecheck save. Thanks to his fine goaltending, they upset the league champion Liberec team in the first round of the playoffs.
3. David Moravec, a one time (very briefly) Buffalo Sabres forward, wins a faceoff and Dusan Andrasovky wires a quick one-timer. Dusan should have gotten the nod for his shot, rather than Moravec for simply winning a faceoff. WTF?
4. Jaroslav Kracik, a great young player who had a breakout season with Plzen, shows you kids how to go hard to the net and follow up on the play. It's a good hard-work play, but a highlight reel one? No...
5. Liberec's Petr Vampola (coolest name in the league) gets tripped up, but fires the puck on the way down for a sweet goal. This one gets my vote.
6. Angel Krstev isn't very angelic as he knocks down his teammate with a booming bodycheck on Tomas Harant.
So far, it's a neck and neck race between Vampola and Turek. Stuff a vote for Vampola, would ya?
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The Legacy of Dallas Drake Will Live On
Millstadt has never produced an NHL hockey player -- but the small town does have a pair of twins named after St. Louis Blues forward Dallas Drake....and it's too bad that you didn't like GARTH BUTCHER!
Chris Wessel thought long and hard before deciding to float the idea to his wife, Trish. According to their ground rules, Chris controlled naming rights if the twins were boys and Trish would provide the names for twin girls.
"My wife thought everybody was going to think we were crazy," said Chris Wessel, an avid Blues fan for years whose favorite player is the hard-working Drake. "I've always liked him since we've had him and have always thought he was such a hard worker. It's gone over really well, but it's a good thing I didn't like Wayne Gretzky."
If I have a twin boy/girl combo, I definitely want Pavol and Demitra as their names.
Jozef Stumpel: The New Sharpshooter?
One of the hottest players since the Olympic break, and the one you haven't heard a peep about, is Florida Panthers centerman Jozef Stumpel. You know, the Slovakian version of Craig Janney.
Before the Olympic Break, Stumpel had played 56 games and put up a modest 7 goals and 23 assists with an EVEN +/-. Jozef's decline hasn't been steep, but it has been somewhat noticeable since his best days playing alongside Zigmund Palffy.
Since the break, Stumpel has been on a tear. In 11 games, he has 6 goals and 12 assists with a +13!!!
What's the big secret?
More Power Play time? Hardly... Stumpel has only 3 of his post-Olympic points on the PP, and had only 10 of his 30 pre-Olympic points with the man-advantage.
The answer? HE'S SHOOTING THE DAMN PUCK!!!
For years, I've stated that Stumpel has a pretty fine arsenal of shots, but he never ever wants to use them. Like Craig Janney, Stumpel has this frustrating habit of ALWAYS looking for a passing option unless he has a perfect shot opportunity. Rather than the 'unselfish' tag that most playmakers get, I find this kind of attitude a bit 'selfish' in that these guys pass off decent scoring chances, looking for assists rather than just doing what it takes to get some goals.
Pre-Olympics: 72 shots in 56 games (1.29 shots per game)
Post-Olympics: 29 shots in 11 games (2.63 shots per game)
Good things happen when you shoot the puck. It's too bad Stumpel never learned that lesson earlier.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Tim Thomas: Finally, some respect!
Still, Tim Thomas is a name you should get to know. He's a fantastic goalie, and after a LOOOOOOOOOONG and winding road, it looks like he's finally achieved him dream of becoming an NHL goalie and staying there.
Earlier today, the Boston Bruins did something right for a change and signed Thomas to a three-year contract extension.
Thomas' numbers in his short NHL career are quite impressive: 28GP, 2.42GAA and 92.60SV% behind the crap that Boston calls a 'defense'.
Are they really surprising? hardly.
Back on January 25, 2005, Tim Thomas was presented with Eurohockey.net's European Player Award for December 2004 and I wrote:
Thomas has been absolutely awesome in his European career, but hasn’t had a great opportunity to make it in the NHL. You’d have to think that one NHL team would be bright enough to give Thomas an opportunity as a cheap backup. Players like Christobal Huet (in LA) have proven that you can get quality performances at cheap prices without overpaying for ‘experience’ and such.Well, after Andrew Raycroft totally lost his game and Hannu Toivonen suffered some injuries, Thomas was FINALLY given his chance and he's made the most of it.
Tim Thomas had this to say back in Dec/04:
He only had a short spell with the Bruins, but Thomas didn’t feel he lacks NHL qualities. ‘I think it has been more a question of timing and opportunity. In four games in the NHL I have 3 wins and 1 loss. I think I made the most of the opportunities I did have.’ Thomas knew the path towards the NHL wouldn’t be paved for him. ‘Not being a high draft pick or having a one way contract makes it more difficult. Basically I needed to be in an organization where a long term injury occured to another goalie to get my chance. It never happened.’Hmm, how prophetic ;)
Over at The Puck Stops Here, Cartman has his own look at Tim Thomas.
Is Tim Thomas going to be a flash in the pan and disappear? We can only guess on that. Given his age (31) he is not likely in the longterm plans of any team. However, if he continues to play well, he can have a good career for several years in his 30's (much like Dwayne Roloson who is now with the Edmonton Oilers).Now, Roloson was given chances in Buffalo and he completely sucked. Only after finding himself behind the wall that is the Minnesota Wild's trapping and high-octane defense did his game flourish (and his discovery of some padding that absorb rebounds like Charmin' soaks up OJ).
Obviously, Toivonen and perhaps Raycroft (barring a deal) are the true future of the Bruins. For now, Thomas has himself a little job security and a chance to have a good NHL career for himself. With the lighter workloads he had in Finland, his body shouldn't be as worn down as other 31 year-old NHL goaltenders.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Forward Ryan Potulny of Minnesota and defenseman Matt Carle of Denver were among 10 finalists named Thursday for the 2006 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, the top honor in college hockey.
Potulny leads the nation in goal scoring this season with 34, but Carle edged him out Thursday for WCHA player of the year honors. Carle leads the country in assists with 42.
The other Hobey Baker finalists are: Chris Collins of Boston College, Brian Elliott of Wisconsin, Andy Greene of Miami (Ohio), Greg Moore of Maine, Scott Parse of Nebraska-Omaha, 2005 winner Marty Sertich of Colorado College, Brett Sterling of Colorado College, and T.J. Trevelyan of St. Lawrence.
The finalists were selected by a vote of the 59 NCAA Division I head coaches, along with online fan balloting. The winner will be decided by a selection committee made up of coaches, scouts, media and a representative from USA Hockey, as well as fan voting.
The top three finalists will be named March 29, and the winner will be announced April 7 in Milwaukee, the day before the championship game of the NCAA Frozen Four.
Of course, given the "analysis" that I did about past Hobey winners, those finalists may not want to win all that badly and suffer the Hobey Curse.
Claude Lapointe and the Playoff No-Shows
(Edit: the story is about MARTIN, not Claude...d'oh!)
Lapointe has always struck me as somewhat of an unlucky hockey player. For all of his tireless efforts, he rarely ever gets a chance to play for the Stanley Cup. Being stuck on those crappy Islanders teams for so many seasons and then now signing with the Blackhawks (it was his choice, though) doesn't leave a whole lot of playoff experiences to tell the kids about.
Checking his stats, I can see Lapointe, since his debut in 1990-91, has played 879 regular season games compared to just 34 playoff games, 13 of those in one season with the Flyers. He averages about 2.27 playoff games per year. Ouch!
“It’s a great city, great people. I live in the suburbs and my kids love the area. They can walk to school and have a park in front of the house where they can play. My wife and I can go downtown and have a nice dinner. I really like the guys on the team as well. It's been a great experience so far.”So, obviously he's not losing a lot of sleep over missing the playoffs. He's probably used to have a nice early off-season, so while spoil precious golfing time?
To find some more unlucky bastards, we can look at his former Islanders teammates for 'inspiration'.
Ex-teammate Kenny "Pizza Face" Jonsson played 686 NHL regular season games and had only 19 playoff games to show for it. Now he has an Olympic Gold Medal, so booyah to Claude!
Marty MacInnis, a useful 2-way player in his own right, had just 22 playoff games versus 796 regular season tilts.
Tommy Salo? Oilers fans won't forget his playoff adventures, after he never had a single playoff game during his years on the Island. Tommy finished his NHL career with just 21 playoff games compared to 526 regular season contests.
Outdoing them all is ex-teammate Scott Lachance, a crappy defenseman that has managed to secure a regular roster spot to the tune of 819 regular season games. Match that up with just 11 playoff games, and we might have a winner! (or a loser...) Scott played a whopping 6 back in 2000-01 with the Canucks and just 5 in two other playoff series. Congrats, Scott!
When it comes to a real hard luck case, none of them could match up to Marcel Dionne, the puny Hall of Famer who played 1348 regular season games over 18 years and only 49 playoff games. His Los Angeles Kings made it out of the second round and the most he ever played in the second season was 10 games in 1981-1982.
A few others of note:
Sandy McCarthy - 736 vs. 23
Alexei Zhamnov - If not for the 18-game run he had with the Flyers in 03-04, Zhamnov would have been a king for non-playoff experience. Overall, Zhamnov has 807 regular season games versus 35 playoff games. Prior to the run with the Flyers, Zhamnov was at 783 versus 17!
Steve Dubinsky - 375 vs. 10
Derek Armstrong - the longtime AHL star and current LA Kings forward (who has done well this year) has 267 vs. 0!
On the flip side, Peter Forsberg has 133 playoff games versus 630 regular season games. Playing on good teams, being a great player combined with severe long-term injuries and some good/bad luck have given Forsberg the best looking ratio I could find in my quick searching.
(Edit: It's a good thing I'm taking this weekend off to go skiing. This job of mine plus jugs of coffee has obviously fried my brain more than the drugs of my youth.
Obviously, the NHLPA story is about MARTIN, but Claude was the one that came to mind and thus the post came to be.)
Thursday, March 16, 2006
The Cost of Trading Places
As someone who appreciates stability in my life, I can empathise with players who really dread Deadline Day. You have to hear about yourself being traded to numerous other cities and not have the comfort of knowing where you'll be sleeping in a week's time.
As I've grown older and more mature, I no longer get upset when a player uses their "No-Trade" Clause. They negotiated it into the contract, and the team knew what they were getting into when they signed the deal.
Why should we get made or angry at a player who actually choose to use this clause? It's amazing to me how many people get personally upset and label a player 'selfish' for using a contract clause they had included for a reason.
So, Keith Tkachuk doesn't want to be 2,000 miles from his family to play on a 'contender'? More power to him! If you had a wife, mistress, and kids, would you wan't to be 'dealt' to a different city and have to spent days and weeks without them? Hockey players already spend a lot of time on the road, so you'd think they would understand and cherish the time they do have to spend with their familias.
Back to Vansterdam, there was a bit of gushing over the fact that Eric Weinrich and Keith Carney were once roommates and linemates back in Chicago.
That's all well and good, but that was back in 1998. 1998!! A LOT can change in over 7 years. People grow apart and people change. Were Weinrich and Carney even good pals? From one interview I heard, Weinrich made it sound like he and Keith really didn't keep close contact with each other.
Anyway, the local Georgia Straight ran one of those Human Interest stories about Carney and Weinrich and how they deal with the toll of being traded way out here to Vancouver. (Article Linkage)
For Weinrich, a 39-year-old Yarmouth, Maine, native acquired from St. Louis for a prospect and a draft pick, this was the sixth time he’s been dealt and the fifth time it has happened during the season. But this is the first year in his 16-season NHL career that he’s lived apart from his family, and after the trade to the Canucks, his loved ones are now that much further away.The school factor must loom large for hockey families. If you are a player like Weinrich who gets traded a lot (hmm...), you don't necessarily want to rip your kids away from the friendships they have established. It's easy enough for a player to move away, at least temporarly, but it can extremely hard for the children. I can remember my own anxiety of moving to Vancouver (from dinky little Cranbook) when I was a kid and having to 'start over'.
Weinrich and his wife, Tracy, made the decision at the start of the season that she and their kids—Emily (11) and Ben (nine)—would stay in Philadelphia while he lived and played in St. Louis. Although rumours had been swirling for weeks that Weinrich would be coming this way, there was a part of him hoping that if he was going to be on the move, it would be to a team closer to home.
“It’s really tough. This has been the hardest year of any pro year I’ve had. I’m across country now, where before I was a two-hour flight away in St. Louis. I got to see my family a couple of times a month and when I could, I’d go home,” he told the Straight the day after being acquired by the Canucks. “I’m sure now they’re going to make just one trip out—and make it a long one, hopefully—but that will be it for me seeing them this year until we’re done. It’s never easy getting traded, but on the good side of things, they’re not moving and they’re in a familiar place, so that was basically what we had in the back of our minds in case anything did happen this year: they’d be in a familiar area and they’d be close to friends.”
Swiss 2005-06 regular season champion SC Bern has set a new all-time attendance record for a club team in Europe. The club from the Swiss capital recorded an average of 15.994 fans in 22 home games in the 16,789 BernArena, to top all European clubs for a fifth consecutive year. The Swiss league plays a 44-game schedule.The Top 25 is pretty much dominated by the evil Swedes, Finns, and Germans with a bit of Austrian and Czech blood thrown in.
This is the first time a European club closes in on the 16,000-barrier, only a season after Bern became the first club in European hockey to surpass the average of 15,000. The club recorded 15,360 fans per game during the 2004-05-season. In 2000-2001, the season the IIHF started the Top-25 list, Bern averaged barely over 10,000 fans per game.
It was generally believed that the attendance figures in the European leagues would decrease following the extraordinary 2004-05 season when over 380 NHL-players signed with European clubs, but that proved not to be correct. Not only did Bern record an increase, but also the second and third placed clubs on the IIHF-list, Kölner Haie (Germany) and Frölunda Indians, Göteborg (Sweden), had higher spectator numbers than in the previous year.
For all of the big $$ thrown around by the Russian clubs, only 2 of Top 25 are Russian hockey clubs. Then again, would you really want to watch the type of hockey where a 2-1 game is considered high scoring and offensively loose?
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Now, I am not a radio listener these days, but I did listen to games on the radio in the past, especially before the advent of televising so many games.
In a move that sent shockwaves across the airwaves, CHUM Radio lured the Vancouver Canucks away from CKNW.
The Team 1040 will air radio broadcasts of the NHL team after signing a six-year deal for the rights yesterday. The deal takes effect at the start of next season.
"That's a pretty phenomenal coup," said Barry MacDonald, a Team 1040 morning host and 24 hours' columnist. "We know what defines sports in Vancouver. Canucks are the meal ticket."
CHUM vice-president and general manager Neil Gallagher said luring the Canucks away from 'NW has always been part of the station's strategy
"This is probably the biggest plum for sports in Vancouver - it is hockey after all," he said.
"It's just fabulous."
The move tips the scales in Vancouver's sports radio wars, which pits CHUM's Team 1040 against MOJO 730, owned by the Corus Radio network, which also owns CKNW.
"People who are serious about sports already lean to Team 1040 over Mojo, anyway," said Joe Leary, a long-time radio pundit. "This gives them an automatic increase in audience, certainly in male numbers, no question about it."
Canucks play-by-play host John Shorthouse and colour commentator Tom Larscheid may go to 1040 but that's between CHUM and the broadcasters. Team 1040 also has rights for the B.C. Lions.
CKNW is a talk-radio station, and was pretty much Vancouver's only station in that game for many years. Until MOJO and Team 1040 came along, Sports Talk (Dan Russel's show) was basically CKNW or FM station ROCK 101. CKNW is not a sports station, while Team 1040 is all about sports.
CKNW has generally had good production values and a quality pre-and-post game show.
Team 1040? Think of the bad things you hear on and about sports-talk radio, and Team 1040 has them all. I've listened to Team 1040 a few times, but between David Pratt and the rest of the no-nothings, I'd get more useful information from the crazy guy asking for change at the corner of Thurlow and Robson.
If CHUM can't lure away Shorthouse (leave Larscheid behind for all I care, he's a goof), then I fear the quality of Canucks broadcasts will be severly dimished. Team 1040 is a very Torontoish product (It's a spawn of the TEAM concept across Canada) and not of very good quality.
*bleh*, I'm just glad I don't need radio broadcasts to enjoy hockey. If I need to listen to a PPV game, I'll do it at NHL.com and get the visitor's feed.
The Vancouver Canucks Really Suck
Wow, it seems those trade deadline deals didn't help the Canucks any :(
The last 5 games...
5-0 LOSS to Nashville
4-2 LOSS to Dallas
2-1 LOSS to Dallas
3-2 OTLOSS to Nashville
4-1 LOSS to St. Louis
5 losses by a combined score of 18-6
I guess Dave Nonis forgot to get everything he needed at the trading deadline:
1. Magic offensive pixie dust for the forwards. What the hell has happened to Naslund and Morrison?
2. A new heart for Todd Bertuzzi.
3. A new coach that isn't constantly overmatched and can fire up his troops.
*SIGH*, I can't find one thing redeeming about the play of this team lately. The Canucks aren't just losing, but they are losing badly. The team seems to lack any confidence and can't get an offensive foray going to save their own lives.
Mika Noronen? His first start saw him give up 5 goals with an 81.5SV%. The fault wasn't completely his, but he certainly didn't do any better than Maxime Ouellet. As a Canucks fan, I am extremely nervous right now. If the Canucks don't start winning some games, they could easily miss the playoffs.
Scheduling quirks? The Canucks play 3 straight (THREE STRAIGHT) games against Edmonton on the 21st, 23rd, and 25th of the month. With both teams fighting for a playoff spot, I'm hoping for some playoff-style hockey.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Star Political Contributors
You wouldn't expect many NHL players under the ATHLETES section, especially since most of them are foreigners down there in the USoA.
Gary Bettman - $2,000 (Democrats)
Gordie Howe - $1,000 (Republicans)
Mario Lemieux - $500 (Republicans)
How does Mario expect to get a new arena if all he's given is $500?
Look at some of the other dudes who know how to grease the wheels, like the NBA's David Stern, who's given $781,780(!)
...and, isn't it funny that the union members (at one time) are supporting the anti-union party and the anti-union guy is supporting the Demos? O_o
And, to nobody's surprise, most of the celebrities donate to the DEMOCRATS rather than the REPUBLICANS. Shocking, I know...
Monday, March 13, 2006
New York Islanders: Crapped Out
The Islanders had a big 3-1 win in Boston on Saturday. Back home at the old arena in Uniondale, it was a different matter.
A sewage pipe burst in the Islanders' dressing room at approximately 7:45 on Saturday night. It is the second time broken pipes have caused damage to the Islanders' room in the Nassau Coliseum in the last year. In August the damage was major. This time, the damage was devastating.
The Islanders' workout room has been almost completely destoyed. It is estimated that over one million dollars of damage has been done. Luckily, the Islanders are on the road next week so preliminary repairs can begin, but there's little to no chance the room will be ready when the Islanders return to home ice on March 21.
Prior to the start of the 2005-06 season, Islanders ownership made the latest in a series of significant improvements to the team's locker room facilities at their own expense. Now when the damage is finally cleared, the team will be starting all over again.
It looks Mike Milbury can't stand the taste of his own management *yukyuk*
If the pipes already burst once and were kind of old, don't you think they should have been replaced? As a condo owner, I am well aware that a pipe replacement (and costly one at that) is needed every couple of decades of else you are going to get a very expensive accident and pay for your cheapness.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Bernard "Boom Boom" Geoffrion dead at 75
Bernard (Boom Boom) Geoffrion said he invented the slapshot as a youngster, swiping at pucks on a rink in a churchyard near his home in Montreal.
Others have also claimed the invention, but there is no question that Geoffrion was the player who popularized the shot that would give him his nickname.
Geoffrion died in an Atlanta hospital on Saturday of stomach cancer. He was 75.
Bernard Andre Joseph Geoffrion, born on Feb. 16, 1931, was dubbed Boom Boom by sportswriter Charlie Boire of the Montreal Star while he was playing junior hockey for the Laval Nationale in the late 1940s.
One boom was for the sound of his stick striking the puck; the second was for when his rocketing shot hit the boards.
Geoffrion was known as a battler throughout his NHL career, but it seems this was one battle that he could not win.
A bit of history, from HickokSports:
One of the first players to use the slap shot as a primary scoring weapon, Geoffrion was a major player on the Montreal Canadiens' formidable power play during the 1950s. Usually a right wing, Geoffrion played the point on the power play because of his blistering shot. Even if it didn't go in the net, it was so hard for a goalie to control that the rebounds often set up easy shots for his teammates.Hmm, so it seems he'd been having stomach problems for almost 40 years! He had to have part of his stomach removed and he never did recover fully.
When he was fourteen, an assistant coach on his junior hockey team told him to forget the sport because he'd never make it to the NHL. That simply made Geoffrion more determined than ever and five years later he went to the Canadiens without ever playing in the minor leagues.
A freak injury in a 1958 practice session sent Geoffrion to the hospital with a ruptured bowel. He was given the last rites of the Catholic church and, after emergency surgery saved his life, he was told to forget about hockey until the following season. Less than six weeks later, he was on the ice for the Stanley Cup final series against Boston. In the sixth game, he scored the first Montreal goal, assisted on the second, and scored the winner in a victory that brought the Canadiens their third straight Stanley Cup.
Geoffrion retired in 1964 but returned to hockey with the New York Rangers in 1966 to play two more seasons. He became coach of the Rangers in 1968 but stomach problems forced him to quit before the season was over and he moved into the front office.
With 822 points in 883 regular season games and 118 points in 132 playoff games, Bernard was a big part of the Canadiens dynasty, although he rarely got the same accolades as the Richards. When it comes to the slapshot, you often hear the name of Bobby Hull more as the pioneer of that weapon than Geoffrion.
The TSN story has a nice bit of history on him, so now is a good chance to learn a little more about a hockey pioneer (of sorts).
Friday, March 10, 2006
Media Errors: A boo-boo on Boom Boom
Poor guy has to deal with stomach cancer and bad headline grammar.
As the for story itself, I'm amazed that they waited THIS long to retire the guy's number. I know the Canadiens are going buck-wild with number retirements leading up to the 2009 anniversary, but now the poor guy will hear to read about it on TSN or some other website.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Assessing the Deadline Day Deals
(How evil is Sweden? I'm blogging to ABBA's "Waterloo". It's true.)
Like the accountant I am, I prefer to let the dust settle, the bodies dry up, and the cleaning crew start their work before I assess the damage.
I'm just glad to see that the salary cap hasn't killed Deadline Day madness and the desperation of GMs around the continent. As useless as deadline deals can be for clubs, I love seeing deals done as much as most fans do.
Now, doesn't it seem like a weak draft plus the lowered value of draft picks would actually lead to more rental deals? Teams certainly were eager to part with those draft picks for a rental veteran just as much as they always were. So much for the New NHL having a tame deadline (Not that I believed it, but some rhetoric flying around was about the league trying to make the use of rental trades decline).
Break it down. Hammer time!
I was quite nervous given Dave "No News" Nonis' history as GM of the Canucks. Given the situation the Canucks were in with injuries, a lack of tradeable assets, and salary cap restrictions, I'm quite happy with the Canucks' moves. Nonis plugged the gaping holes on the roster, didn't give up a ludicrisp amount to plug those holes, and got the Canucks some pretty solid talent.
Before any moves were made, it was necessary to note that the Canucks have a very good top-4 defense with Allen, Jovocop, Salo, and Ohlund. Any newcomers must be able to play well and also add something when these dudes return (Salo's injury may be worse than originall thought, though).
- Vancouver Canucks acquire defenceman Eric Weinrich from the St. Louis Blues for defenceman Tomas Mojzis and a third-round pick in 2006.
- Atlanta Thrashers acquire defenceman Steve McCarthy from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a conditional pick in 2007.
- Vancouver Canucks acquire defenceman Keith Carney and the rights to defenceman Juha Alen from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in exchange for defenceman Brett Skinner and a second-round pick (originally NY Islanders) in 2006.
- Vancouver Canucks acquire goaltender Mika Noronen from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a second-round pick in 2006.
Keith Carney, even the older and slower version, is a great pickup for the Canucks. He's always been criminally underrated as a defensive defenseman and will really give a boost to a weakened defense. Weinrich has been very solid for a poor Blues team this year and is a good skater. If the Canucks get their 6 d-men back and healthy, we'll have one of the better units in the whole league.
The price? Well, the upcoming draft is weak and today's freer market does mean that picks aren't worth quite so much as they used to. Steve McCarthy was just awful here and Tomas Mojzis never seemed to be in the Canucks plans.
Oh, It doesn't surprise me that the Canucks traded the lone Slav on their roster >:(
Mika Noronen? A little expensive but necessary. Coach Crawford has as much confidence in Maxime Ouellet as American bankers in have in their own economy. Noronen provides a good backup netminder for the short and possibly long term. A tandem of Auld/Noronen lacks experience but not talent. This will allow the Canucks the option of dealing Dan Cloutier for a bag of pucks in the offseason.
Mike Keenan had himself a pretty good trade deadline, and he really didn't do much trading (Crappy prospect Taticek for crappy defenseman Ric Jackman). First, he re-signed Chris Gratton to a 2 year deal at $1.5mil a season. Gratton isn't the great shakes he was in his first few seasons in the league, but he's provided 30 points in 57 games and some size up front for the Panthers. At this price, he's a good signing.
Keenan wasn't done there, as he answered a lot of rumours and questions by re-signing Olli "Pig Face" Jokinen to a 4-year deal for $21mil total. Jokinen has turned himself into a fine offensive player (66 points in 62 games!) plus he's big and very strong defensively. Jokinen is one of the more complete players in the game, and he's good value for the contract he signed. This deal should also help to convince goaltender Roberto Luongo that the Panthers don't intend on sucking forever.
I don't feel sorry for Avalanche fans, who must want to jump off that bandwagon they've been on for the past decade after what's gone on over the past 48 hours. I won't rag on the Theodore deal again, but I will mention that Marek Svatos is not the guy with the shoulders you ever want to put the weight of the world on.
''Marek sustained a fracture in his right shoulder, which was discovered during an MRI and the subsequent result is that he will require surgery,'' said Avalanche Head Trainer Matt Sokolowski. ''We expect him to make a complete recovery in four to five months.'' Sokolowski added: ''It's important to note that this injury is to the right shoulder while both of his previous shoulder injuries were to his left shoulder.''*sigh*, Poor Marek.
They made a good move today in trading the frustrating, but talented, Brendan Bochenski and a second round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for Tyler Arnason, one of the few players on that team that doesn't suck.
Arnason is a Oklahoma boy. As Oklahoma boys are prone to be, Tyler is kind of a lazy, pudgy doofus.
Still, he is offensively talented and fairly productive. He had 41 points in 60 games for a poor Blackhawks team and he will have lots of talent in Ottawa as he slots in as the second line center.
Sens fans should be fairly familiar with Arnason as he's basically a clone of a young Brian Smolinski, albeit 2-3 inches shorter. Arnason is only 26 and entering his prime, so it's not as if the Senators are getting just a rental.
Both guys are late round picks that proved the naysayers wrong and have been productive throughout their pro careers. Both players are frustrating for various reasons. Ottawa needed the upgrade now and got a proven producer at the NHL level. The Hawks can start over and hope Bochenski can explode in a new environment. Given that Arnason has proven himself at the NHL level and Bochenski hasn't yet, I'll give the edge to Ottawa.
You know, I was a little harsh to Kevin Lowe before. Sure, I'd never have him run my NHL franchise, but the guy is a stone cold playa. Gone are the days when poor Oilers fans had to watch almost every player with some measure of talent (save for Ryan Smyth) go elsewhere due to 'budget' restrictions. Now, the Oilers have been able to play with the big boys with names like Pronger, Peca, and now Sergei Samsonov. The Oilers acquired the oft-injured, but uberly talented forward in exchange for Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny, and and 2nd round pick.
I remember Reasoner from his days as a Bluenote and he always struck me as lazy garbage. He had the smug smirk on his face all the time and never did anything productive. Yan Stastny has good bloodlines and was good in the German league, but has struggled a bit in the AHL. He may become a good player yet, but when you get a proven master of disaster like Sergei Samsonov for this price? You deserve kudos. I think Sergei will love the fast ice in Edmonton and will happy to be out of Boston.
(Edit: I forgot that Sergei is set to be a UFA, so this could be a pricey rental. Still, Reasoner is garbage and the Oilers are better off by dumping him. >:] )
I like Brendan Witt, although not nearly as much as I used to. He was once a pretty damn fine defensive bruiser, although he relied heavily on the skill of Calle Johansson to cover for his forays into Bodycheckland. Witt was grumpy and wanted a trade, and he got it. It's too bad Witt is not nearly as good as he thinks he is, or as good as he once was, because Nashville paid an awfully high price for a rather average-at-best defenseman who takes quite a few bad penalties.
I could see the justification for the Oilers giving a 1st round pick up for Dwayne Roloson. The Oilers wouldn't have a chance in hell with the goaltending they had, and they gambled to fill a glaring hole. The Predators aren't going to get the same boost the Oilers expect to get, so adding Witt for that price was just too expensive.
Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Tom Benjamin puts it much better than I could:
Brian Burke's actions were even more unfathomable, given that his team has a chance to make the playoffs. He made five trades, sending out Keith Carney, Juha Alen, Sandis Ozolinsh, Joel Perrault and a 2nd round pick to get back Jeff Friesen, Brett Skinner, Sean O'Donnell, a 3rd round pick and a 2nd round pick.My guess is that this will help Anaheim's payroll a bit, which was the main reason behind dealing Fedorov earlier in the season. Burke must think his club has no change to win the cup, so he's tweaking his roster a bit to prepare for the future. If I don't look confident in that assessment, it's because I'm not. Maybe Ducks fans can shed some light on WTH Burkie is doin?
I can't imagine why he would help Vancouver by coughing up Carney. To gain what? Knowing Burke there is method to his madness, but I can't see it. Surely he doesn't think he helped his team this year. How has he helped himself going forward?
First, what the hell happened to Doug Weight? 1 assist in 10 games heading into tonight is hard to fathom for a guy who usually gets 5 assists in that time frame merely by accident. Since when did he turn into Jan Hlavac?
Second, acquiring Mark Recchi was a good move for a team that really does have a good shot at taking the East.
The price? Krys "Konkussion" Kolanos, who they won't miss, Niklas Nordgren, who is Swedish and won't be missed, and a 2nd round pick. Forget Recchi's +/- rating, he's been a soldier for the Penguins this season and has put up 57 points in 63 games. He isn't the same type of player as Eric Cole, the guy he'll replace, but he'll add a similar level of skill and perhaps rediscover Doug Weight's missing offensive touch. "Rex" has usually been money in the playoffs, which will really help the Canes who know Cory Stillman will probably disappear in a month's time.
Now that the deals are done, we can sit back, try and get used to see SAMSONOV on an Oilers sweater, and gear up for the playoffs. (Unless of course you live in Chicago, where by the time of year, you are probably getting pumped about the White Sox or Cubs instead)
The Evil Swedish Plot Exposed!!!
I know today is Deadline Day (I'll comment/rant when the dust settles), but out there, the shadow of Sweden continues to lurk and spread evil around the world.
You've seen me rail against evil Sweden for months, but I always get these kinds of comments:
"How is Sweden evil?"
"You are just jealous, Slovak!"
"How could Sweden possibly be evil? They are such great socialists?"
"No, YOU'RE ebil!"
"Are you Finnish?"
etc etc etc... few people believe me. Am I just a crazy lunatic who rambles to himself? NO! I mean, isn't the existance of Ace of Base, Peter Forsberg, and Volvo proof in itself?
If you didn't believe me before, you will now.
Thanks to Slovakia's olympic hockey victory over Sweden, Swedish blogger Ingmar Bergman (who goes under a pseudonym to protect his identity), has put his life on the line to expose the evilness of Sweden.
From the mouth of the devil himself, "WHY SWEDES ARE EVIL!":
We Swedes have an agenda of our owh(sic) that's that Dick Cheneys supposed evilness, Al-Qaeda & Skulls & Bones pale in comparison.
Here it comes...
We are responsible for the current wave of Mediocrity sweeping the minds of people around the world...
We Swedes are responsible for...Britney Spears.
Little did the world know that such a horrific red menace would sweep the world into a current state were everybody embraces mediocrity in our culture.
Oh, the horror!!! You can trace the downfall of society directly to Sweden!
and it doesn't end there! That was just one in a series of evil deeds.
You can find the full details on his website. I suggest you read and spread this information to all of your friends. Warn them of the danger of shopping at Ikea and eating their meatballs.
Do you believe me now? 0_o
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Trade Deadline Eve
As I peruse the news, a few thoughts spring the hamster in my head to get running.
1. It's a sellers' market. The teams that appear to be getting the better end of the deals are the weaker teams selling off their rental assets for a nice juicy market. Want a 36 year-old goaltender with little playoff experience? It only costs a FIRST ROUND PICK! The trade deadline tends to be a sellers' market since the few teams giving up are outnumbered by the number of playoff contender... but..
2. The amount of teams that believe they have a real shot at the Stanley Cup seems to be greater this year. You know what? They (whoever they are) are right. We've seen that any team can make a good run...all you need to do is make the damn playoffs and have the stars align right. There are few teams that are so far above everyone else and every playoff-bound has a legitimate shot (Except the Canucks, since they'll never do anything). This is creating a hungry market for the few sellers out there.
3. There have been a LOT of contract signings before this deadline. In the past, the player would simply wait until the offseason and then gouge the GM's through arbitration, holding out, or being unrestricted. The unrestricted market was always small and drove up the costs, while holding out for RFA's was generally giving them a lot of leverage.
With the salary cap in place and a larger pool of potential UFA, it seems the players aren't quite to eager to test their worth on the market.
Now, the GMs have played a part by opening up the chequebooks. $4+mil per season for Norstrom? GMs seem to be afraid of losing their players on the open market and would rather have their player back in the fold rather than turning over a large chunk of the roster and disrupting that precious chemistry. Teams seem to be paying a premium to retain 'certainty'.
Some deal analysis...
1. Canadiens trade G Jose Theodore to the Colorado Avalanche for G David Aebischer.
This appears to be a straight-up swap with no $$ involved. I'm definitely not the only one who thinks Colorado got reamed like RuPaul on this one. Although Aebischer was playing very well after an atricious start, Theodore is injured and was sucking eggs before his injury, the Avs felt the need to swap goalies.
2003-04: 62GP 32-19-9 2.09GAA 92.4SV%
2005-06: 43GP 25-14-2 2.98GAA 90.0SV%
Theodore2003-04: 67GP 33-28-5 2.27GAA 91.9SV%
2005-06: 38GP 17-15-5 3.46GAA 88.1SV%
Does GM Pierre Lacroix expect Theodore to find himself after he gets out of the media spotlight and away from his mafioso family? It could happen, but Theodore has his monster season *4* years ago. Jose also comes with a contract that is very expensive and will hamstring the Avalanche for the future. The d00d is not Patrick Roy, redux.
Good job, Gainey!
2. Los Angeles Kings acquire forward Mark Parrish and defenceman Brent Sopel from the New York Islanders in exchange for defenceman Denis Grebeshkov, forward Jeff Tambellini and a conditional third round pick.
Parrish is going to be UFA this summer and Sopel has one year left on his deal for around $2.5 mil. Grebeshkov and Tambellini are very highly touted prospects, so this is a very expensive rental for the Kings. I like Sopel from his Vancouver days, but he seems to have struggled this season as he was expected to do more for a weaker Islanders club. Parrish is a very good, albeit streaky, goal scorer. He needs to have a good playmaker on his line, but will be the key man in front of the net on the Power Play. This deal doesn't get made if Dave Taylor doesn't think his team has a real shot at the cup.
The Kings are giving up two very good prospects. I think Isles GM Mike Milbury made a pretty good haul (for once)
Parrish: 57GP 24-17-41 -14 16PIM
Sopel: 57GP 2-25-27 -9 -9 64PIM
3. The Coyotes on Wednesday agreed to terms with Derek Morris and Steve Reinprecht on three-year contract extensions with Morris getting a deal worth $11.75 million and Reinprecht signing for $6 million.
Derek Morris was set to be a UFA and is the cornerstone of the Coyotes defense. I think that deal is reasonable for his skill level and for the Coyotes. Reinprecht is a bit pricey for a fairly average player, in my opinion. Overall, the Coyotes do alright for themselves.
Now, is Canucks GM Dave Nonis going to be able to get a defenseman? I hope he doesn't get suckered into paying a ripoff price for a veteran like Eric Weinrich. Draft picks are fine, but don't go giving away Cory Schneider or Luc Bourdon.
Oilers Rolling the dice on Roloson.
Now, we know the Oilers have sucky goaltending and Kevin Lowe was looking to improve in that area.
Still, desperate times do not necessarily call for desperate measures. From TSN:
The Edmonton Oilers have a new No. 1 netminder, acquiring Dwayne Roloson from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a first round pick and a conditional draft pick.A 1st, and maybe a 3rd as well, for a 36 year-old goaltender that is not a game stealer? Wow, Lowe got jobbed.
The conditional pick is a third rounder if Roloson re-signs with Edmonton.
Now, Rolo has done a fine job behind a well-coached team in Minnesota. He won the Crozier Award for best SV% two seasons ago. He's an upgrade on what the Oilers have now. He is just not worth a first round pick.
Roloson is 36 years old and isn't the quickest goalie on the block. If you are going to give up such an asset, you need to get someone who is more than just an old and expensive rental. Lowe should have been able to pluck another goalie from another team for a cheaper price. If the Wild weren't willing to come down, then go elsewhere. Roloson seems like the perfect candidate to get exposed behind a much more loosey-goosey team like Edmonton.
At first glance, it appears Lowe simply panicked and got his ass handed to him again. We saw how he overpaid for Mike Peca and handcuffed the Oilers with some big (Chris Pronger) salaries.
PICTURE OF THE DAY
Mike Fisher getting his bodyfat tested. A little beefcake for ya.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Team Canada: Caption This!
Monday, March 06, 2006
Mattias Norstrom: A King's Ransom
LOS ANGELES (CP) - Chalk off yet another big name from this summer's free-agent market.I like Norstrom and I'd like him on my own team, but this kind of deal is just foolish. Norstrom is 34 and not getting any faster (not that he ever was a demon) and he doesn't produce much offense at all. He's a good defensive defenseman, but he's not worth $4.25mil in today's salary capped environment.
Veteran star defenceman Mattias Norstrom has agreed to an $8.5-million US, two-year contract extension. "We're happy to have Matty continue his career with the Kings," president and general manager Dave Taylor said in a statement. "We appreciate his leadership, dedication and commitment to our organization."
Norstrom, who will earn $4.25 million a season just like (Tomas) Kaberle, has spent the last 10 seasons with the Kings after beginning his career with the New York Rangers. He has three goals, 19 assists and a plus-4 rating in 58 games this season.
Kaberle at $4.25mil seems expensive, but justifiable. Norstrom? The Kings are paying for past performance, if that. Sure, Norstrom might have made that on the open market, but that's a good reason to let him go.
Just another fine example of how the salary cap hasn't prevented GM's from making poor decisions.
More of the Same
First, the Blues beat the Canucks once again.
I just don't get how the hell the Blues, of all teams, pwn the Canucks like Saudi Arabia owns the USA.
My friend Duc was at the game and shared some thoughts on his journal.
I was cautiously optimistic when I had my ticket validated. I mean, the Canucks had their heads presented to them on a gold-gilded silver platter the past few times they faced the Blues. I thought, "could this be the end of the Blues' dominance over the Canucks?"It's too bad the game was on PPV in Vancouver, so I had to settle for the damn Oscars (I'm still mad ever since T2 was gypped out of a Best Picture Award). Oh, and John Stewart > Whoopie Goldberg.
The Blues played a very strong, hardworking game. The Canucks, being the overhyped, overrated, and overpaid idiots that they are, did OK, but most of the time they were outworked by the tenacious Blues. My St. Louis Blues are one of the worst teams of the NHL, but you couldn't tell this night. I do admit, however, that the officials (led by Mr. Kerry Fraser) may have been a tad biased towards the Blues; that "hit from behind" from Richard Park didn't look that serious at all. Oh well, we'll take 'em as we see them, I guess.
Theoren Fleury is in trouble...again!
Belfast Giants player Theo Fleury’s future in the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) is unknown following Saturday’s game against the Basingstoke Bison.*sigh*, what a doofus!
Theo Fleury had to be forced into the penalty box in the second period
After being in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons a few weeks ago for his alleged verbal abuse towards hooligan fans and his recent tirade in late February, the Belfast player was thrown out of the game.
He was called for a straight forward two-minute minor penalty for elbowing by referee Mike Hicks, but Fleury argued the call and refused to take his place in the penalty box before being assessed an additional 10-minute misconduct penalty.
Later when the Bison scored an empty-net goal in the closing minute of play, he retrieved the puck and fired it at Hicks, reportedly missing the referee’s head by inches. Hicks replied by assessing game misconduct and match penalties, which expelled Fleury from the game.
HockeyRefs.com’s correspondent for British hockey says the ex-NHLer and 2002 Olympic gold medalist then lost it and proceeded to threaten the officials, resulting in a second match penalty.
Friday, March 03, 2006
St. Louis Blues: February Report
I'm just amazed at how well the Blues have played since Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger were traded. While the Pittsburgh Penguins play more and more like the Keystone Cops (and prove that Michel Therrien, once again, sucks as an NHL coach), the Blues are playing with hustle and showing good teammwork and cohesion. It's too bad they weren't this good back in October.
The fire sale began early for the St. Louis Blues.
On January 29th, Mike Sillinger, who was playing a great 2-way game for the Blues, was dealt to the Nashville Predators for Timofei Shishkanov, who was prompty sent to the minors 3 days later.
The bonanza continued as they sold away playmaking specialist Doug Weight to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a 1st round draft pick, Magnus Kahnberg, and Jesse Boulerice on January 30th.
Amazingly, the team responded with a 4-1-1 record in February, including wins over Dallas, Edmonton, and Vancouver, before the Olympic break broke up that short-life burst of life.
The Torino Winter Olympiad saw three Blues in action:
Christian Backman played a key role for the gold medal Swedes with 1 goal and 2 assists in 8 games.
Keith Tkachuk was the most disappointing of a disappointing American team. Keith finished with 0 points and a -5 on the big ice.
Petr Cajanek was also rather unimpressive in a smaller role for the Czech Republic, finishing with just a goal in 7 games.
As the Blues return to the ice for March, there is little left to ask but “Who’s next?”. Keith Tkachuk, Vladimir Orszagh, Eric Weinrich, Scott Young, and Dean McAmmond could all be useful parts to a contending team.
LIGHTIN’ THE LAMP
Scott Young did not seem to miss Doug Weight’s playmaking very much as he took it upon himself to dish a few nice passes of his own. 1 goal and 5 assists in 6 games for the old winger was quite unexpected.
Petr Cajanek, now the lone creative playmaker on the Blues, really kicked his game into high gear during February with 2 goals and 6 assists in 6 games. With Weight gone, Cajanek is being counted on to create chances for his teammates and will get all the offensive ice-time he can handle. Cajanek is also centering Tkachuk, which will greatly help his fantasy value.
Keith Tkachuk was a dud at the Olympics, but continued his fine play with the Blues. When healthy, Tkachuk has been one of the best offensive performers in the league this season. Overall, Keith has 23 points in 16 games. His February totals were 3-5-8 in 6 games.
Offensive defenseman Dennis Wideman continued to produce with 1 goal and 3 assists in 6 games while improving his defensive play. With 21 points in 42 games this season, Wideman has provided good fantasy value for anyone smart enough to snag him from the waiver wires and free agent pools.
Lee Stempniak continued his blazing hot/cold pattern with 5 goals and 2 assists in 7 games after earning a callup from a month-long AHL exile. If his pattern holds, he’ll probably get maybe 1-2 points next month as the adrenaline wears off.
Newcomer Vladimir Orszagh finally readjusted to the NHL and provided 3 goals and 3 assists in 6 games. As the anchor on the second line, Orszagh has been counted on to provide more offence that he was in his days with the Nashville Predators. Orszagh is also getting loads of Power Play time, so now might be a good time to pick him up in your league if nobody else has.
After a torrid November, defenseman Kevin Dallman saw a major decrease in his ice time and cooled considerably, finishing with just 1 assist in 5 games.
Eric Weinrich, has not produced much since losing his Power Play time to the likes of Dennis Wideman. Weinrich had his second straight tough month offensively with just 1 assist in 6 games. He provides a steady defensive presence, but his offensive value continues to shrink.
Barret Jackman continues to be THE ROCK on defence, but his offensive value continues to be almost-nil after another quiet month (2 points in 6 games).
Despite putting up a great 4-1-0 record in the month, starting goaltender Curtis Sanford actually had his worst month this season. In 5 games, Sanford had a 3.55GAA and 88.1SV%. Fortunately for him, the Blues have been scoring so many goals that it hasn’t mattered.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
After playing great and having nothing to show for it, Sanford managed to find wins after playing some of his worst hockey of the season. Sanford has been entrenched as the #1 netminder and has provided stability and competence to this position.
However, Patrick Lalime found himself promoted to the big club after his exile to the Peoria Rivermen (AHL) and could make things interesting down the stretch. Lalime started one game and played in another for the month, finishing with a 2.34GAA and 93.0 SV% in his short sample of playing time.
Youngster Jason Bacashihua was put on the Injured Reserve on January 22nd due to a faulty left shoulder. His January was not one to remember with a 0-2-0 4.04GAA 86.3SV% performance, and he did not play at all in February. Jason continues to show his great athleticism, but also his lack of fundamentals. If Lalime is with the Blues to stay, expect “Cash” to get a demotion upon his return to further develop his game.
ATTACKING THE ZONE – FORWARDS
The Blues success in February came mainly from their forward corps going on an offensive binge after the trades of Sillinger and Weight.
With those two gone, Vladimir Orszagh and Petr Cajanek moved up to the first line to play alongside Keith Tkachuk.
Veteran Dean McAmmond was shifted to center and now anchors the second line, a very unusual position for him. Scott Young and young Lee Stempniak provided a surprising amount of offence on the second line along with Dean.
The third line of Mike Glumac, Jay McClement, and Dallas Drake was both defensively responsible and offensively productive. After a brief AHL demotion earlier this season, McClement has reasserted himself as a useful 2-way player.
The fourth line sees the likes of Trent Whitfield, Ryan Johnson, and Mark Rycroft. The ‘energy’ line provides little offence, but above-average physical play.
Jamal Mayers was put on the IR on January 31st with a fractured right foot. He should be back in the lineup and back on the third line by mid-March.
PRESSURING THE PUCK – DEFENSEMEN
The defence managed to lose another defenseman to injury as Bryce Salvador and his -24 went down due to a left shoulder injury.
In his absence, and that of Eric Brewer’s, the defence corps has actually solidified with 3 steady offence/defence pairings.The first pairing of rock Barret Jackman and the offensive rookie Dennis Wideman continued to be an effective combination for the second straight month. While Jackman may be a big ZERO offensively, he is quite content to let the surprising Wideman create the offensive chances.
The second pairing sees the steady Eric Weinrich paired with new partner Matt Walker, who returned from a strained knee injury. Both defensemen provide little offence (1 point between the two of them for the month), but provide the best overall defensive presence between the two of them.
Struggling offensive-minded rookie Kevin Dallman was demoted to the third unit to play alongside Christian Backman, who has managed to stay relatively healthy after a nightmare first half of the season.
The ineffective Steve Poapst remains the team’s seventh defenseman and finds himself in the coach’s doghouse after his poor play and defensive miscues. Steve played only two games in February and doesn’t figure to draw into the lineup unless Kevin Dallman continues to struggle.
THE BLUE LINE – SPECIAL TEAMS
The Blues Power Play slipped a bit despite the offensive explosion, falling from 21st to 24th with a 15.80% success rate. Dennis Wideman (2PPP) continues to be the main man on the point, especially with Doug Weight traded. Petr Cajanek (4PPP, all assists), Keith Tkachuk (4PPP) and Scott Young (5PPP) were the main contributors with the man advantage.
After excellent on the PP during January, Dallman did not register a single point with the man advantage during February. The second unit of Vladimir Orszagh (1PPP), Lee Stempniak (1PPP), and Dean McAmmond (0PPP) get their offence during even-strength situations. This is always a cause for alarm, as players who rely purely on even-strength situations for their offensive numbers don’t tend to carry hot numbers for the long haul.
Interesting stats: Jamal Mayers has 21 points this season, none of them with the man advantage. Scott Young has 27 of 37 points on the PP this season for a team high 73%.
The Penalty Killing unit improved after three straight months in 22nd place, and now sits at 19th spot overall with a success rate of 81.1%.
The Blues remained 30th overall in the NHL with a collective -51, which represents a 0 +/- from January. It’s strange to see that the Blues did not move up the charts in this area despite the fact that a lot of their offence came at even strength. The defensive and goaltending lapses account for much of this lack of movement.
After a quiet February, March was feature a condensed schedule of 16 games in 31 days, all against Western Conference opponents.
The schedule is fairly balanced with 7 away and 9 home games, and 2 games apiece against the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, and Columbus Blue Jackets.
In the midst of this intense schedule will be the numerous trade rumours and rookie tryouts that will make the Blues roster more fluid than water. It will give fans a chance to get a good look at the Blues rookies and prospects as they get more of a chance to shine. If any of the veterans should be traded, they could easily explode and produce even more with their new squads.