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Monday, March 31, 2008

NHL Headlines 3/31/08

This was a long and hectic weekend to say the least. I had plans of getting a post up on Friday, but thanks to laws requiring me to have a license to drive that idea went out the window. No, my license wasn't suspended or anything, I just needed to renew it. Still a complete pain to do.

Anyway, now that my bracket is officially dead thanks to Texas losing to Memphis yesterday I can once again devote all my attention to hockey.

Here's a look at the day's headlines.

Wild Clinch Playoff Berth With Win Over Avs

Congrats Minnesota on a fine season thus far. Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra have stayed healthy for the majority of the season for the first time in history it seems like. Figures that the one year I don't take him in the fantasy world, he actually stays healthy. Side note: If you even have someone you want to see injured or miss some time to help your fantasy match-up, drop me a line. I swear I'm a hex. In football alone this season I went through 8 QBs.

Anyway, Minnesota will clinch the Northwest Division title with one more point or a Colorado loss of any kind. They currently hold a four-point edge over the Avs with two games remaining for each squad.

Here's the highlights from tonight's game.

Yes, the Flames have a snowball's chance in the fiery pits below to win this thing, but they'd need to win out and get a lot of help.

Sharks Kill Fighting Gretzkys Playoff Hopes

Phoenix fans should be very happy with how this team played this season and should be excited about seeing these guys again in the Fall. They now have a goaltender who can actually stop pucks in Ilya Bryzgalov, with a kid in the wings in Al Montoya who will be able to step in and play solid games as well.

The Sharks continue to impress with their play and utter dominance lately. This was the Sharks 17th win in their last 19 games. You always hear talk about teams getting hot at the right time. Well right now there's none hotter than the Sharks.

Joe Thornton has been a machine of late, which is helping one of my other fantasy teams put up a respectable fight in some consolation game. Not even sure which right now as I'm only focusing on knocking Gopher off his pedastol.

Side note: The finals are a two-week marathon. After week 1 I control all 8 of our goaltending categories and hold and 11-4 lead after week one. Really all I need to do now is pick and choose which games I want my goalies to play and get some production out of the offense and I'll be hoisting my mini Stanley Cup in 7 days.

McCarty Makes Return To NHL

Welcome back Darren. I was never a big fan of this guy because I'm not a Wings fan, but you have to give credit to a guy who realized his life was going down the tubes and made the effort to get things back on track.

I have a lot of respect for people, not just athletes, who realize they have a problem of any sort that is ruining their lives and relationships and do something about it.


Side note: If you haven't seen the Britney Spears episode of South Park go look it up online or Tivo it ASAP. If she doesn't end up suing Comedy Central I'd be shocked. It's that hilarious/wrong.

I have to say something here. I absolutely hate pop music and hate how these supposed "stars" get so much coverage when they screw up. Do you have any idea how many people get DUIs everyday? Why is it news when Spears, or Paris Hilton get caught breaking the law like anyone else? WHO CARES?!

Anyway, back to hockey.

Koivu Could Miss 4 Weeks

What a blow this is to the Canadiens. Compound that with the loss of defenseman Mark Streit and this could potentially be the equivilant of pushing the self-destruct button.

This is the time of year where teams face and overcome adversity, but how will the Habs respond to losing these two guys. Especially Koivu for what could be about a month.

Both players will be evaluated later today and at that time perhaps a timeframe of return will be announced. In any event, both players sat out their game Saturday against Toronto. It's not quite panic time yet, but it could be very soon.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Penguins Reclaim Top Spot In Eastern Conference

This is turning out to be one heck of a battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference isn’t it? I’m not one to say that things are in the bag, especially after seeing my Red Sox come back from 3-0 down to beat the Yankees in 2004, but I think it would be safe to say that the Penguins are the 2007-08 Atlantic Division champions right about now.

The Devils do have a shot to catch them, but the Pens have a six-point lead over the Devils with the win this afternoon against the Rangers. The Pens have three games left and the Devils have four, so it is possible that the Devils could win the division is they win out and the Pens lose their final three.

The Penguins play the Rangers again tomorrow, this time in New York and close out the season with a home and home series with the Flyers who are looking to hold on to a playoff spot with the Bruins, Capitals and Sabres also looking to get in.

Right now the Flyers are the 7-seed in the Eastern Conference with 91 points, Boston is the 8-seed with 90 points, Washington has 88 points and the Sabres have 84.

While the Sabres chances are slim they do have a crucial game with Boston later today. The other thing they have going for them is the Pens playing two games against Philly. A Penguins sweep could knock the Flyers out of the playoffs and give the Caps and Sabres a chance to sneak into the playoffs.

Anyway, back to the game the Pens played against the Rangers today.

The Rangers got on the board first after a slow start to the game by the Pens. Brandon Dubinsky hammered home a rebound shot past Marc-Andre Fleury on an initial shot by Jaromir Jagr.

The Pens struck back just minutes later on an absolute laser to the shelf over Henrik Lundqvist by Marian Hossa. I’ll admit this was a total lucky bounce for Hossa since the initial pass by Sidney Crosby was meant for Pascal Dupuis. The puck bounced off Dupuis’ leg right to Hossa who wasted no time in slapping it home.

Later in the first, Crosby drew a slashing penalty on Fredrick Sjostrom setting up the eventual game winning goal by Evgeni Malkin. I still can’t get over how much Malkin has elevated his game this season.

Malkin received a pass at the point and took a slapper that went high and wide only to have Gonchar feed him right back again. A one-timer to the shelf by Malkin and the Pens took the lead 2-1 on the powerplay.

The rest of the game was more of a defensive battle as there were only a handful of chances traded by the two squads.

Here’s The Highlights

What surprised me today was the physical play of the Penguins. I don’t recall which of the three NBC announcers pointed this out, but they said that the Penguins were playing with a playoff mode physicality. I would completely agree and it all started with who else but big Georges Laraque who throttled a Rangers player.

That hit started a chain reaction for the Penguins. Kris Letang threw two checks of his own just seconds after the Laraque hit. Tyler Kennedy followed suit. I started getting nervous seeing that kind of play going on as it appeared that they were only concerned with putting Ranger players through the boards.

The last time I saw that mentality take over for the Pens was in that 8-2 blowout loss to Philly that we’ve looked at often. The difference this time was that this was controlled emotion and it paid off.

If the Penguins play with this kind of intensity in the playoffs, they will be a very difficult team to play against. They showed today they can play a tight one-goal game and limit the opposing team’s scoring chances and we all know they can score goals almost at will at times.

Final notes: Fleury was once again brilliant in the net for the Pens especially in the second period when they were outshot 11-4. Max Talbot slammed the door on the Rangers with just under one minute to play in the third when he deposited the loose change into the back of the net.
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Pens Take Over 1st In East With 3-1 Win Over Isles
March 28th, 2008 by sheashu

Yes, this will probably be short-lived but I’m going to bed tonight knowing that the Penguins are the number one seed in the Eastern Conference with only four games left to play.

Before play tonight, the Penguins had a four-point lead over the Devils and a six-point lead over the Rangers. Ironically, those two played tonight and the Rangers won in regulation. This dropped the Devils six points back and the Ranger remain six points back as well. Things are starting to fall into place for the Pens to at least win the division. Now we just need some help from the Canadiens and we could have home ice throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

As more good news, Sidney Crosby returned tonight and played on a line with Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. That line did not score in the game, but it’s good to see Sidney back on the ice.

Now for the bad news, Hossa left the game in the third period with an undisclosed upper body injury. I hope this doesn’t turn out to be a big deal and that he doesn’t miss any time now that Crosby is back. I want to see these guys play together for longer than 40-plus minutes. We gave up enough to get Hossa, so I think we all deserve at least that much right?

Anyway, back to the game. Malkin got the Pens on the board with his 45th goal of the season on the powerplay in the first period. The Pens seemed to play a much sounder game tonight against the Isles, which I was expecting after the suckfest they put on the other night.

Also, Jarkko Ruutu had three points in the game. No, that’s not a typo. Jarkko assisted on Malkin’s goal and then scored a shorthanded goal on a beautiful wraparound in the second period. That goal proved to be the eventual game winner.

He also set up big Georges Laraque for the insurance marker in the third period. I was actually pretty impressed with the big fella’s hands and backhand roof job over Dubie.

Here’s The Highlights So You Can See For Yourself

The Pens now lead the Canadiens by one point in the Eastern Conference standings. The Habs play Buffalo tomorrow night, so I think I speak for all of Pens Nation when I say, Let’s Go Buffalo!

The Sabres are fighting to make the playoffs right now, so this is a huge game for them. I’m not saying they’re going to make it, but they are 5 points back of Philadelphia and Boston for the final spot. They are also three points behind Washington who is also trying to sneak into the playoffs.

Up next for the Penguins is a home and home series with the New York Rangers. The first game of the series is Sunday at 12:30pm. This has been picked as NBC’s NHL game of the week so be sure to tune in and watch what should be a great game.

One final note about tonight’s game. Ryan Whitney is now playing wing. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, coach Michel Therrien is looking for Whitney to be more consistent on defense. The reason for the shift to wing is due to the return of Rob Scuderi who has been a pleasant surprise as a stay at home d-man this season.

I used to get nervous every time I saw Scuderi on the ice, but that feeling has shifted to Hal Gill. I’ll save ripping on him until I have more physical evidence about why I’m nervous.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

NHL Headlines 3/27/08

I'm only going to throw a few headlines at you today as I'm still exhausted from working last night. I'd actually still be asleep right now if it weren't for the construction on the apartment next door to us. This has been going on for about three weeks now and I've about had it.

Anyway, time to talk pucks.

Crosby To Return Tonight Against Islanders

Boy am I glad to hear this. Granted I was aware of it yesterday as I'm sure most of you already were as well. He says he feels good and wants to get back out on the ice, so if he thinks he's good to go I have no reason to doubt him.

As expected he'll be on a line with Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis who has missed the last two games to be with his wife in Atlanta who gave birth to a baby girl.

This is a redemption game for the Penguins after they pretty much tanked the last meeting with the Islanders on Monday night. No one showed up to play and Ty Conklin's slump continued.

Heading into tonight, the Penguins have a four point lead on the Devils in the Atlantic Division and trail the Montreal Canadiens by one point for the overall lead in the Eastern Conference.

Tortorella To Coach Team USA At IIHF Tournament

I know the list of American coaches is pretty short. Just read the article and you'll see my point, but it seems like Tortorella is getting this job by default. To quote Homer Simpson "The two sweetest words in the English language, de fault, de fault"

Anyway, I guess I'm OK with having him as the American coach. Afterall, he did coach the Lightning to a Stanley Cup victory a couple years ago. His recent success or lack there of worries me and I question how good of a coach he'll be with what will undoubtedly be a young team.

Anyone remember his rant on John Grahame during the playoffs a couple years ago? He totally threw him under the bus and honestly, I don't blame Grahame at all for the Bolts losing in the first round.

I was unable to find a clip of this outburst in which he breaks out the "25 percent rule" in reference to Grahame's save percentage during the series, but here's a gem interview he gave after Game 5 against the Devils last season. WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE IS USED.

Gagne To Sit Out Rest Of Season

Aswith any athlete this is subject to change, but he isn't ruling out playing in the Stanley Cup Finals should the Flyers make it that far. Sorry Simon, I know the bells in your head continue to ring and has given you some false hope, but your team isn't going that far this season.

I applaud the Flyers on making a franchise turnaround in one year from the worst team in the league to a team battling for one of the last spots in the playoffs. I really do, but injuries have killed this team and that's what is going to keep them from making a deep run in the playoffs.

I don't know if anyone knows the single season record for most concussions suffered, but if Lindros doesn't own it Gagne must with his three this year. The difference between Gagne and Lindros is that Gagne is sitting out the time he needs to recover. Lindros on he other hand rushed back from one of his 30 something (I know that's an exaggeration, but doesn't it seem like that many?) concussions and almost had his life cut short by Scott Stevens in the playoffs.

The sad/funny thing is that I called that hit during the pre-game broadcast when it was announced that he was suiting up.

Morrison Done For Season

As if the Canucks needed any more bad news about their playoff chances, now Brendan Morrison is out for the season with a torn ACL.

Morrison has only played 38 games this season so on paper this doesn't really seem like a big loss. The biggest problem here is that he is one of the veteran leaders on this club and you don't want to lose guys like that at this time of year.

The Canucks are currently the 8-seed in the Western Conference with a two-point lead on Nashville and are three points up on the surging Oilers.

If they do manage to hold on to the final spot, I don't see them getting by the Red Wings in the first round. Roberto Luongo may be able to push the series to six games, but even as good as he is that would be no small feat.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Top 5 Western Conference Goalies

I'm lucky to even be writing this right now after seeing the Penguins win 2-0 over New Jersey last night to clinch a playoff spot and move four points ahead of the Devils in the Atlantic Division.

It was a huge win and you can read more about it Here if you like.

Anyway, as promised here is part two of yesterday's installment. The top five goalies in the Western Conference.

#5 Miikka Kiprusoff - Calgary Flames

Now I would rank him higher on this list, but it's kind of hard to do so with how many great goalies there are in the Western Conference.

Had the Flames officially been awarded the Stanley Cup in 2004, I had said I was going to buy a Kipper jersey out of respect for how he carried them to the finals. I also said the same thing about Roloson during Edmonton's Finals run in 2006, but then he got hurt and it didn't seem worth it anymore had they actually won.

Anyway, Kipper is an elite goalie who anyone would want for their fantasy teams. He did struggle early on this season, but is currently 38-23-10 with a 2.67 GAA and a .907 save percentage. He's 6-3 in the month of March and seems as if he's regaining his form just in time for the playoffs.

I had a suitemate in college who was all about landing any Finnish goalie he could for our fantasy league. Didn't really pay off for him until this year as he's now fighting for he bronze trophy.

Kipper should hit the 40 win plateau for the third straight season, but his numbers have ballooned up a little this season due to the slow start. During his Vezina Trophy winning season in 2005-06 he went 42-20-11 with a ridiculous 2.07 GAA and a .923 save percentage.

By no means do I think that his numbers from that season were a flash in the pan. Miikka has hall of fame potential and should continue to be a dominant goalie for many years to come.

#4 Marty Turco - Dallas Stars

I really like this guy and I don't think he gets enough credit. Mainly this stems from his lackluster playoff performances over the years. I'm still convinced had the Stars won in Game 7 against Vancouver last year that they could have made a run to the conference finals.

Turco and Roberto Luongo put on a goaltending clinic for seven games. It was one series I did not want to end.

On the year Turco is 30-20-4 with a 2.31 GAA and a .910 save percentage. He has struggled recently though going 1-7 in March. The lone win in March for him was a 3-0 shutout over Colorado on March 9. Not really sure who to blame for the Stars struggles of late. The last time they scored more than three goals in a game was Feb. 28 in a 7-4 win over Chicago.

What sets Turco apart is his ridiculous athletic ability. He's not an overly big guy at 5-11 185 pounds, but his will to win isn't matched by many. He's a scrappy goaltender that may not make every save look pretty, but he still makes the saves.

#3 Roberto Luongo - Vancouver Canucks

Aside from Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist who I discussed yesterday, Luongo is third on my personal list of goalies. I felt so bad for this guy while he was in Florida facing record numbers of shots over the course of a season and he was still putting up very respectable numbers.

In his last season with the Panthers he went 35-30-9 with a 2.97 GAA and a .914 save percentage. Last season with the Canucks he didn't surprise many when he finished the year 47-22-6 with a 2.28 GAA and a .921 save percentage.

As of right now, Luongo is 34-24-9. This may look like a dip in numbers here, but his GAA and save percentage are actually better than they were last year at 2.22 and .922.

This guy is the complete package in net. He's a big body who can explode post to post or out to cut down an angle. When you think you have him beat, he takes it away at the last second. I'm fully convinced that the only reason he and the Canucks aren't being talked about as Cup contenders is due to the severe lack of offense.

They have a great system that keeps them in many games, but you can't ask you going to go out every night and only give up one or two goals. Yeah, that's what you'd love to see every night, but the truth of the matter is that it's not going to happen.

#2 Evgeni Nabokov - San Jose Sharks

Nabby deserves at least a nomination as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy this season. He's got a record of 43-20-8 with a 2.13 GAA and a .910 save percentage. He's been absolutely on fire over the last month and a half going 12-0-2 in his last 14 starts. The last time he lost in regulation was way back on Feb. 18 against the Islanders in a 3-2 game.

This guy has literally carried one of my fantasy teams this season in which I saw Fleury go down and Emery become irrelevant. Nabby has been the rock for my team and has back stopped the Sharks to a five-point lead over the Ducks in the Pacific Division.

No one has been hotter than Nabby and he is one reason the Sharks could represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup finals this summer.

I know that is kinda short and only contains one highlight, but tell me your jaw didn't hit the desk you're sitting at when you saw that.

Gopher had been taunting me about having Nabby going against Phoenix last night since we're playing each other for the championship and I wasn't quick enough to get Nabby in the draft. Based on tonight's goaltending stats, I may just take the whole thing since Nabby gave up 4 and Ryan Miller gave up 5 whilemy boy Fleury pitched a shutout against New Jersey.

Eat your heart out Gopher.

#1 Jean-Sebastien Giguere - Anaheim Ducks

I know this is going to annoy all Red Wings fans out there who are going to say "how can you not throw Hasek and Osgood into this list?" Here's why. Yes, they have been impressive this season, but I'm looking at these guys based on raw talent alone and Osgood has been awful lately and Hasek is suffering from old age and will probably retire after this season anyway.

Anyway, Giggy has been unreal since the calendar changed to 2008 and has been a major reason that the Ducks have made a charge in the standings to solidify their playoff hopes.

Since the start of 2008 Giggy has gone 18-6-3 with three shutouts. One didn't really count due to the Ducks losing in a shootout.

I have been completely impressed with this guy since he carried the Mighty Ducks to within one game of winning the Stanley Cup in 2002-2003 when they lost to New Jersey in Game 7. That Finals run was one of the greatest displays of goaltending I have ever seen. He singlehandedly got the Mighty Ducks that far and deserved winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Flash forward to last season when the Ducks won the Cup and he was once again brilliant in the playoffs. This guy is a big game goalie. Not just because he wins the big games, but because he's a huge guy and has serious game.

On the year he's 33-17-6 with a 2.11 GAA and a .923 save percentage which is tied with Ty Conklin for the league lead. How that's possible with how poorly Conks has played over the last few games is beyond me, but whatever.

If there is a team that could defend the Stanley Cup, it's the Ducks this year. Look out for them and for Giggy in the playoffs because it should be something to see.

So there you have it, the top five goalies from both conferences. Stay tuned as I will be breaking down the playoff matchups once they are finally determined.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Top 5 Eastern Conference Goaltenders

This idea just sort of hit me while I was ranting on my Penguins blog about their loss to the Islanders last night. Mainly I'm upset with how Ty Conklin has been playing as of late and wonder why we keep putting him in the net when Dany Sabourin hasn't seen action since mid February. Check it out if you have a couple minutes, but it got me thinking about about the playoffs and who some of the best goalies in the league are.

Before we get into the top 5, I want to direct your attention to a new link in my frequently visited sites. Gopher introduced me to a free sports betting site. Seriously, it's free and you can win real money. Here's how it works. The site gives you a dime in ad money that they receive for you to place bets on real games with. Once you reach 10 dollars, you can cash out. If you lose the 10 cents, just reload and try again. I'm dead serious. It's free to sign up, so if you want to check it out here's the link to

Rather than pick the obvious best five from the entire league, I'm going to do this by conference and include highlight videos of each guy for your own enjoyment. So here we go.

#5 Cristobal Huet - Washington Capitals

I still can't get over how the Caps plucked Huet away for next to nothing. On the year he's 24-16-6 with a 2.46 GAA and a very impressive .917 save percentage.

He's been absolutely fantastic for the Capitals as well. He's splitting time with Olaf Kolzig, but has been a big reason the Caps may make the playoffs. As of this moment, the Capitals trail the Bruins by two points for the final playoff spot in the East.

Huet has started seven games for the Caps, going 5-2 with a 1.93 GAA and an amazing .927 save percentage.

I'd be willing to bet that Huet fantasy owners were none to impressed at the deadline with seeing their number one goalie traded to a non-playoff team. I'd also bet if you talked to them now they would be happy with his performance so far and only slightly annoyed that he splits time.

If you are in a keeper league, you have to love the prospect of having this guy around for a couple years at least.

Couldn't find much of his highlights as a Capital, but I'm sure this video explains the point a little better.

#4 Marc-Andre Fleury - Pittsburgh Penguins

Is this kind of a homer pick? Slightly. I'd rank him higher on this list, but I'm sure you would all jump down my throat on it so I think this is a fair placement given the rest of the Eastern Conference goalies.

What you don't get a full appreciation of while watching Fleury on television, is just how quick he is. I remember the first time I watched him play on tv and I was blown away by how quick his legs are. I honestly don't think there is a guy with quicker legs in the league right now.

The kicker is that he looks even quicker in person and it's not just his legs. Let's flashback to NHL re-launch night. The Penguins were in town to play the Devils and it was Sidney Crosby's NHL debut. Three of us got tickets the day of the game. Shocking right? Not for Devils games it isn't.

Anyway, at one point there was a 2-on-1 for NJ. I don't remember the players specifically, but a pass was made over the sprawling defenseman to Fleury's left. In one motion Fleury moved over and plucked the rocket of a one-timer out of the air. Upon further review he actually caught the puck behind him and held on for the whistle.

Had it not been for the high-ankle sprain he suffered this season, he would be up among the league leaders in wins. Currently he is 15-9-1 with a 2.61 GAA and a .913 save percentage. Since returning from the injury he is 6-1.

I chose that video for two reasons. First, I love Godsmack who performs the song heard there. Secondly I was in Boston for the save you see and I about dumped my drink on the person sitting in front of me when he made that save.

#3 Ryan Miller - Buffalo Sabres

Here's a kid I feel bad for right about now. He's seen almost his entire defense corps go down to injury and yet he's still going out every night and battling the best he can.

I don't care who you are, without a team playing defense in front of you and clearing away rebound chances and such, you won't be putting up good numbers. Even Patrick Roy was getting shelled in Montreal before he demanded a trade.

I am happy that come 2010 when the NHL pauses mid-season to send guys to the Olympics that Miller should be on the roster, if not the starter for Team USA. He really should have gone to the 2006 games as well, but I digress.

On the year Miller is 33-25-9 with a 2.60 GAA and a .909 save percentage. I'm still shocked he's putting up those kind of numbers with half the team they had from last year. The Sabres are only three points out of the playoffs right now. Now, I don't exactly see them getting in and even if they do it would be a quick trip due to lack of depth, but it would only be because of Miller that they even make it.

Though I question the musical choice for that video, Miller is another young guy who will be in the league for many years to come. I'm sure he'll get his name on the Stanley Cup at least once before he hangs the skates up. He's already shown that he's got the goods to be one of the best for many years. He just needs some bodies in front of him to help him out a little.

#2 Martin Brodeur - New Jersey Devils

I know what you're saying. "Oh please, you just hate the Devils and hate Brodeur so of course you can't admit he's the best goalie in the league and probably the best goalie of all-time."

While you're right about my dislike of the Devils, you cannot convince me that he is the best goalie of all-time. Will he have most of the records by the time he retires? Probably, but that doesn't take away from the fact that the Devils play a system in which an average goalie could be a star and a stud like Brodeur rises to levels unseen before.

Never once have I said that I don't think he is a great goalie. He is. However, I question how he would have been on a team such as the Penguins when they were one of the worst teams in the league and acquiring the guys you now see playing for them in the draft.

I credit most of Brodeurs wins to the system and the Devils management who has been able to find guys to play into the defense first system year after year. As frustrating as it is for me to see them be successful every year, they have some brilliant minds running the organization.

Now back to the greatest goalie of all-time point. I would rank guys like Roy, Jacques Plante and Bernie Parent over Brodeur. Yeah, going old school on this. If you haven't seen or heard of these guys, Wikipedia is a wonderful way to get caught up.

Had to take that video due to Metallica being the musical choice. Again, Brodeur is a great goalie and is one of the best of all-time, but to me he's not the best regardless of what the stats show. Numbers don't always show the full picture.

Which brings me to my number one goalie in the Eastern Conference.

#1 Henrik Lundqvist - New York Rangers

This should make Gopher proud. For as much as I rip on him during the season, I really respect King Henrik. If I wasn't such a die-hard Penguins fan, I'd probably end up rooting for either the Leafs or the Rangers just because half the Rangers team are former Penguins anyway.

The day the Rangers let Henrik go, is the day they drop to the bottom of the standings. He's that good. Again, he's a young guy with quick pads like Fleury but I think what distinguishes him is his ability to read plays.

Fleury has gotten a lot better at reading plays and controlling his rebounds, but I think I've only seen Lundqvist leave a few bad rebounds in his career. It's uncanny how well he sees and eats the puck.

He's also proven that he can put a team on his back and carry them deep in the playoffs. Look at last season, the Rangers struggled mightily to score in the playoffs, but Henrik kept the puck out of his own net and gave the Rangers a chance to win every night.

That's just a sample of what this kid is capable of and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he starts putting up Brodeur-like numbers in the near future. The only difference there is that Lundqvist will face more than 20-25 shots a game due to a weak defensive unit in front of him. If it weren't for their forwards backchecking and having the sense to get back all the time, this season could have gotten ugly for New York.

Well there you have it, the top five goalies in the Eastern Conference. Check back tomorrow as I look at the Western Conference.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Championship Game/Headlines For 3/24/08

After a couple days off I'm back with your daily dose of headlines. I would have had something up sooner, but I was out of town for the last couple days. It's always good to get away.

Before we get into the headlines here's a quick fantasy hockey update.

Well it's late March so that can only mean one thing. Championship round of fantasy hockey. For the third straight year, yours truly is fighting for the championship.

As you may already know, I'm 0-2 in the championship round in this league and I'm pretty tired of seeing my team fall in the finals. I normally put together one of the best teams in the league and romp through the playoffs only to come up short.

Year 1 I lost to Cheech, and last year Gopher got a lovely scoring change 30 minutes after the conclusion of the last game of the NHL regular season to give him the win.

Heading into Sunday's play I was once again leading comfortably over Cheech. I took him out last year in the semis as well. So I just had to sit back and see who I'd be playing. Gopher's team had been very quiet all week long and as a result he was down big. He decided to dump half his team Saturday evening to give him more players for Sunday in a last ditch effort to defend his title.

Wouldn't you know it, the lucky guy got it done. For a second straight season it'll be Gopher and I battling for the golden trophy to add to our Yahoo trophy cases.

I'd say I'm about due to win this thing finally. As always I'll keep you updated as this goes along.

Crosby To Sit Out Tonight, May Return Tomorrow

As a Pens fan, I am loving this news. Finally we'll get to see Marian Hossa play with Sidney Crosby.

I don't like all the hype the Pens are getting right now. I know they are one of the best teams in the East and when they get Crosby back, they'll be even better. Here's why I don't like it: It makes me think that everyone will think anything less than a Stanley Cup is a disappointment.

I disagree. A first round exit would be a disappointment, but look at how young this team is. If they don't win it this year, they will in a couple years. At the very least they will be a dominant team for years to come.

Check these highlights from Saturday's game against New Jersey.

Connollly Out For Season

If I was a Sabres fan, I wouldn't even want to make the playoffs right now. This makes injury number four in the last two weeks to key players.

If they were to make the playoffs they'd be out quicker than the fat kid in dodgeball. Ryan Miller is a fantastic goalie, but even the best goalies need some help in front of them.

Sorry Buffalo, your season is now officially over.

Bruins' Bergeron Back On Ice After Concussion

As a general hockey fan, this is great to see. I don't root for anyone to get hurt in any sport and this is good news that his career may not be over.

Now, I do blame him for the injury. One of the first things coaches teach about checking, is not to turn your back to try to draw a penalty.

Bad things happen when you turn your back to someone who's already committed to hitting you. Get up against the boards and take the hit and move on.

OK, notice how he looks over his shoulder and then turns ever so slightly and puts on the brakes 3 feet from the boards as Randy Jones throws the hit.

Yes, Jones should have let up when he could only see Bergeron's numbers on his back, but Bergeron shouldn't have turtled .

Forsberg To Play Tonight

Anyone wanna give me 3-1 odds that since Peter Forsberg is playing tonight, he'll sit out the next 2-3 games because of a bum ankle?

There's really not much to say here other than, this is turning out to be a great million dollar investment. Hey Avs management, my ankles are fine and I could give you as many minutes or more than what Forsberg has given you so far. I'll gladly take a million bucks to have a couple personal trainers get me back in shape.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Off Day

I'd post something today, but for once my NCAA bracket is actually looking good. So like the rest of the country I'm going to be glued to my tv for the forseeable future.

Here's the Final 4 picks: UNC, Georgetown, Texas, UCLA.

I've ridden UCLA to the Final 4 for the past 2 years and won this whole thing when they made the championship game in 2006.

Also, to set myself apart in my office pool which is dominated by people taking UNC to win it all, I went against the grain and took Texas.

After Day 1, I'm sitting at a respectable 13-3 record. Lost on Kentucky, Kent State and Arizona. I also had Arizona beating Duke in the 2nd round. Yes, I'm a Duke Hater. I'll admit it.

If you didn't see the Belmont/Duke game last night, go out and rent it somewhere and sit back and enjoy.

Enjoy the games this weekend and may all your brackets be well.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Western Conference First Round Nightmare Scenarios

There is no way I cannot do the Western Conference scenarios after the way the Eastern Conference Nightmares were received. We got a big boost in traffic from and Greg Wyshynski, of FanHouse and The Fourth Period with his latest article It's Those 190-Foot Goals That Always Getcha

Check it out and scroll down to the end of the article for the link he graciously put to yesterday's Eastern Conference scenarios.

That's enough sentimental stuff. You're hear because you want to see what Gopher and I were able to come up with for the Western Conference. So here you go.

Detroit Red Wings

Let's get sentimental here for a moment shall we? Who didn't stay up late to watch these two teams go at it in the playoffs?

I don't care who you are, Colorado has to be scaring the top teams in the West right now with their deadline acquisitions. They practically re-assembled the cup team of 2000-01.

Here's the reason why Detroit would be a little upset about facing Colorado. These teams absolutely hate each other. Hate may not even be the right word. It's much deeper than hatred. I wouldn't be surprised if Lidstrom had to choke back some bile when talking about the Avs.

Anyone remember this classic bout? Expect more of this if these two see each other in the opening round.

I'm not saying Detroit would lose to Colorado, none of these nightmare scenarios are meant as predictions of winners unless otherwise stated. This pick is more selfish than anything as I would tape every game and watch them during those lonely summer nights without hockey.

San Jose Sharks

The first team that came to mind was the Vancouver Canucks.

Vancouver hasn't exactly lived up to the expectations I thought they would achieve at the beginning of the season, but that still doesn't mean that they don't have one of the best defensive teams in the league.

The problem with Vancouver is that they have no offense to speak of outside of the top line of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and whoever they decide to put alongside those two.

However, even without the offense and a solid defensive scheme we cannot forget who is backstopping this team. Roberto Luongo.

I would not want to face Luongo in the regular season let alone the playoffs. He may very well be the best goaltender in the league. Here's a fun montage of some of the things Luongo is capable of done to a song from one of my favorite bands, Breaking Benjamin.

Note the final save shown against San Jose. Was it lucky? Of course, but it's things like that that could give the Sharks fits.

Minnesota Wild

How about a classic offense against defense series with the Calgary Flames. Now before you start jumping on me for saying the Flames are all about offense, they do have a much scarier offense than the Wild.

I look at the Wild and I see a team that reminds me a lot of the Devils. They play the same trap system, but the only difference is that Niklas Backstrom is not Martin Brodeur and there in lies the weakness.

On paper there is no question that Miikka Kiprusoff is the all around better goaltender even if he hasn't had the best of seasons.

Calgary isn't just going to have to bank on Kipper in net. They also have one of the most dynamic players in the league in Jarome Iginla. These two guys are capable of taking over a series in an instant. Let's not forget that they lost in the Stanley Cup Finals in Game 7 against Tampa Bay.

Here's some highlights of that great series in 2004.

(Side note: For those of you who remember Game 6 of that series in Calgary you'll remember it went to overtime and there was some controversy. Martin Gelinas appeared to be the first player in NHL history to score the series deciding goal in every round when he appeared to get the puck behind the Bulin Wall. The "goal" went upstairs for review and came back down as inconclusive which was a total crock. Congrats Flames fans, I award the Stanley Cup to you. I still believe the NHL went into a lockout because the Bolts won the Cup and that it had nothing to do with money whatsoever. That's my opinion and this is my blog so deal with it.)

Anaheim Ducks

I've been saving my personal pick at this very moment that is subject to change in the upcoming playoff previews for both conferences. The team the Ducks do not want to see in the first round is the Dallas Stars.

Anaheim earned their second win of the season against Dallas tonight in a hard fought 2-1 game. This was the seventh meeting of the season between the two clubs and Dallas still holds the 5-2 advantage.

This could quite possibly be the best series of the entire first round if we are lucky enough to witness this.

Who wouldn't get excited about J.S. Gigeure going up against Marty Turco? You'd have to be legally dead to not get pumped up to see two of the top goalies in the league go at it for potentially seven games. Think back to last year and how much fun the Canucks/Stars series was that went the distance.

Here's some Marty Turco heroics.

There is no more physical team top to bottom than the Ducks. That's what got them the Cup last year, but the Stars have had the Ducks number this year and could easily represent the Western Conference in the Cup finals this year.

Of course this will come down to whether or not Turco can shake the playoff demons that have haunted him over the years. By no means am I blaming last year on him, he played great. He just came out on the short end of things.

So there you have it. The nightmares for the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference. Time to sit back and wait to see how many of these nightmares become a reality as we go down the stretch to the playoffs.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Eastern Conference Nightmare First Round Scenarios

OK, yes this is going to be a painful post for me as I can't stand the New Jersey Devils. The objective journalist in me, as well as Gopher, begged me to do something about this since there is a real possibility the Devils end up as the 1-seed in the Eastern Conference.

Why stop there though? Gopher and I put our minds together and came up with the idea for the nightmare situation for the top 4 seeds in the East.

New Jersey Devils

Right now there is a chance they could play one of about five teams in the first round. Those teams are: Boston, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Florida and Washington.

Washington getting into the playoffs would be a great story wouldn't it? Also, of the five teams listed there, I think New Jersey might have a small collective accident should the Caps get in.

Here's why, Cristobal Huet and Alexander Ovechkin. Do I really even need to explain this? Huet has been a wall since being traded to the Caps and Ovechkin is the current NHL points leader.

In case you've been under a rock for the last couple years and haven't seen what Ovechkin is capable of, here you go:

New Jersey will fall to a team who can control the pace of the game and get them out of their trap defensive scheme. If the game becomes an end to end game, the Devils cannot and will not prevail. They win games by playing lockdown defense and scoring goals off turnovers in the neutral zone.

Philadelphia, Boston, Buffalo and Florida should they make it stand no chance. There's not much explanation needed here.

Buffalo has lost three defensemen in the last week.

Boston has some serioulsy shaky goaltenders though Auld has played well lately.

Florida's hopes would solely rest on the shoulders of Vokoun.

Montreal Canadiens

Who would give the Canadiens fits int he first round you say? How about a fellow Original 6 team? The New York Rangers.

If there is a team in the playoffs right now who should be able to put up 5 goals a game, it's the Rangers. Not to mention Henrik Lundqvist has proven that he can be an absolute machine in net and can take over any given game.

There's a reason he's got the nickname of King Henrik. Here's just a sample of his jaw dropping ability.

I know I keep harping on this point, but Montreal has an inexperienced goalie in 20-year-old Carey Price. If he falters even a little bit, how long will the Habs stick with him before going to Jaroslav Halak?

The Rangers have guys that would have no problem getting into his kitchen and trying to rattle the young guy. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Sean Avery camped in his crease and taking extra hacks after the whistle every chance he gets.

Carolina Hurricanes

Picking this one proved rather difficult as I don't believe the Canes should even be a 3-seed. See my earlier post on how I'd restructure how teams qualify for the playoffs for further details.

Sorry Canes fans, but I'm taking the field on this one. Take your pick of teams to finish as the 6-seed, doesn't matter.

Calling this now. Whoever plays the Canes in the first round is moving on. Period. Both of the other divisions in the East are top to bottom better than the teams in the Southeast division.

I couldn't come up with any snazzy highlight video for this one, so here's one of my all-time favorite clips and since I work in news here you go:

When will the NHL wake up and stop rewarding mediocrity? I for one hope it's soon.

So to recap, Carolina's nightmare is making the playoffs.

Gopher's reaction to the above is simply this: "The nightmare isn't just making the playoffs, but also missing out on a lottery miracle."

Pittsburgh Penguins

This may sound a little unorthodox here, but I'm going to draw on my personal experience of growing up near Boston and seeing the Penguins play roughly a dozen times over the years in person up there.

The Pens have a serious mental block against the Bruins. It seems like they cannot beat them. Ever. Especially in Boston. I think my career record in Boston is 1-10 when in attendance for a game between these two. That one win came last March. I'm still in awe that it actually happened.

I had to watch these highlights again just to be sure it actually happened. Side note, when I was doing my worst announcers post I entirely forgot about this crew. Consider them No. 6 on the list.

Are the Pens a better overall team than Boston? Yes. Do I think the Pens would probably prevail given the recent injuries and shaky play of Tim Thomas? Yes. Would I literally have a heart attack during this series? You can put money on it.

You may all be thinking that Ottawa would be a worse nightmare in the first round, but I really think the Pens could avenge last year's early dispatching despite being 1-3 against the Senators this season. We were 3-1 against them last year and were gone in five games against them in the first round.

It's pretty simple right now in why the Pens would beat the Senators.

Martin Gerber.

Gerber has been playing very well lately, but no one can keep up that kind of pace. Just look at how Ty Conklin has done over his last few games. When Gerber returns to Earth, he will be a slightly above average goalie. He has yet to show the Gerber that got the Hurricanes into the playoffs where Cam Ward took over and won the Cup since coming to Ottawa.

Not to mention, Ray Emery may be the unofficial biggest headcase in the NHL.

Anyway, if my theory about Pitt being unable to win in Boston for whatever reason, the Bruins would only have to win one of four potential games at the Igloo.

So there you have it, the Western Conference nightmares will be up next. Check back tomorrow and thanks for reading.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

NHL Headlines 3/18/08

Pretty sad that I'm about 99% Irish and couldn't celebrate my heritage yesterday because I had to work.

Oh well, that's how it goes I suppose being in the "real world" and out making it on my own.

Let's get into what's going on in the world of pucks.

Hatcher, Umberger Out For Stretch Run

Should the Flyers hold on and make the playoffs as the 8-seed they will be without the slow-footed Derian Hatcher. It was announced that Hatcher is out for the season with a broken right tibia.

Also as another blow to the Flyers is being without R.J. Umberger who will miss at least the next two weeks with a strained MCL.

At this point I think the bubble has burst on the Flyers. They've had too many injuries this season and shown that the guys they have in their farm system are not quite ready to play in the NHL. I give them a lot of credit for turning the franchise around after finishing last in the entire league last year though.

The loss of Umberger is going to be felt mainly in their last two games of the season. They play a home and home with the Penguins. Any of you Flyer or Penguins fans know that Umberger was a big reason why the Flyers were 4-0 to start the series against Pittsburgh this season.

Canucks Win 3-1 Over Coyotes

I'm not one to comment much on individual games every day, but this was a huge win for the Canucks.

Heading into last night's game the Canucks were the 8-seed and had a five-point lead on the Coyotes who are trying to make the playoffs for the first time under Wayne Gretzky.

Henrik Sedin scored a pair of goals, which got my fantasy team off to a great start against Cheech this week. What also helped in terms of my match-up was that Cheech has Ilya Bryzgalov who took the loss and gave up three goals. Hooray for me.

As a result of the win last night, the Canucks are now the 7-seed in the Western Conference. They are tied with the Colorado Avalanche, but hold the the tie-breaker over them.

Enjoy these highlights from our good friends at

Halak Looking To Take Over No. 1 Role

You have got to be kidding me! I'm going a little off topic here and explaining why this might annoy me over the next couple weeks.

As I said yesterday, it's playoff time in my fantasy league. All year long I've had Ray Emery waiting patiently (by this I mean cursing him out at least twice a week) to return to form. It hasn't happened and now Martin Gerber is the clear No. 1 heading into the playoffs.

This gave me the excuse I needed to drop him and somehow Carey Price was available on the free agent list. I don't know how, but I took it as a sign from the fantasy gods.

Flash forward to this past Saturday in what was supposed to be Price's glorious debut for me. Wrong. Three hours before the game informs me that Halak is getting the nod.

Fine, Price can't start them all. I get that. Of course Halak goes on to pitch a shutout and now I'm reading this junk that he may contend for the starting role. He'll be in net tonight again so if you yourself have Price and have other options in net tonight, put them in.

Okposo To Make NHL Debut Tonight

Get used to the name Kyle Okposo especially if you're an Islanders fan.

I'm sure this isn't the scenario he wanted to make his debut in, but he's going to play up with the big boys for the rest of the season to get a taste of the NHL.

This move is the equivalent o waving the white flag on the season. I was actually surprised that the Islanders were as competitive as they were for most of the season and looked as if they would make the playoffs after ripping off six straight wins in February. What killed that was going 2-9 over the next 11 games. Better luck next year boys, but until then enjoy watching Okposo.

The kid is only 19-years-old, but is the best prospect the Islanders have right now.

He will make his debut tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That's going to do it for the headlines today. It's a pretty quiet day s far. If anything comes up, you know I'll be commenting on it so keep checking back.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Kicking Off The New Week

I would just like to say that no, I didn't forget about this blog over the last couple days. If you knew the kind of week I'd had you'd understand why I needed a couple days to just unwind and get my head back.

Also, my playoff preview post for Apryl DeLancey is up and has been for a couple days. Like I said, I've been unplugged for a couple days so Here it is.

Cheech was in town this weekend so we went up and hung out with him and The Nurse for the first time in who knows how long. There were intentions of getting a post up yesterday, but between watching the Penguins beat the Flyers like a rented mule and it being selection Sunday, that went out the window.

Anyway, it's Monday so here's what's going on in the world of pucks.

Pronger Suspended 8 Games For Stomping Incident

So I suppose I should take pride in the fact that I ranted about Pronger all last week and he finally does end up being suspended. Look out, cause I feel very little vindication.

Colin Campbell, are you kidding me? Seriously? Eight games? That's it?

In the grand scheme of things, what does an eight-game suspension even do to the Ducks? Here's your answer: NOTHING.

Pronger will be back in time for the playoffs and back in time to get a couple games under his belt before the playoffs start.

How can you justify giving Chris Simon 30 games for the same thing and then give Pronger only eight?

Granted Chris Simon has done more malicious things on the ice than Pronger and is a dirtier player, but Pronger is also a repeat offender when it comes to suspensions.

I was calling for at least 10, but upon further review and discussion with Cheech about this, he should have gotten 15-20. The Ducks are going to the playoffs regardless of how these final games go. That's a given.

When the team is healthy they are one of, if not the most dominant teams in the NHL. Losing Pronger during the playoffs would hurt the Ducks in my opinion, but losing him for almost all of the regular season isn't sending him a message.

Boo to you Campbell in letting this happen, but at least you broke out the ruler to slap him on the wrist like a Catholic school nun.

Simon has even spoken out about this claiming that there are two sets of rules. One for the gritty tough guys and one for the pretty boys like Pronger.

Read More Here

Forsberg May Return Tonight

Honestly, who didn't see Forsberg getting hurt here? Anyone?

Anyway, getting Forsberg back and Adam Foote back should help this team get into the playoffs. If I had to pick a darkhorse in the Western Conference it would be these guys.

When healthy this team can flat out play. The only question mark to me is if Jose Theodore can keep up his play of late in the playoffs. If he can, the Avs could be a team to look out for.

Sundin, Antropov Out Tonight

Cheech looked at me this weekend and said "Why do my beloved Leafs do this to me every year? They play like crap all season and then decide to show up in March. Th make a run to get back in the playoff hunt, getting my hopes up. I know what the eventual outcome will be, but this is ridiculous."

He had basically mailed in the season back in December when the team was 14th in the Eastern Conference. Who could blame him? Then all of a sudden the Leafs start playing solid hockey and have been one of the hottest teams in the league over the past month and a half.

With nine games to go, they sit six points out of a playoff spot as the current 12-seed in the East. Any chance they did had is now probably gone with Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov being injured.

Both of those guys lead the Leafs in points. If there is any chance of getting in, the young guys need to step up and start carrying the team. If I was a Leafs fan, I'd be getting the golf clubs ready.

Oilers Snap Sharks' 11-Game Win Streak

With a shootout win last night the Oilers ended the Sharks' 11-game win streak. Winning 11 straight in the NHL is something to be proud of and not many teams can say they've actually done it. Some of you my be saying "Oh well look at the Houston Rockets, they've won 22 straight so what do you have t say to that?"

A 22 game streak is impressive, but here's my problem with the NBA. There's no contact. I don't call the little bumping while going up for a rebound or taking a charge contact. Plus, for the most part they just stand around on the court looking for the one guy on the team that any sports idiot could name.

Try playing for 60 minutes and getting drilled into the boards and battling for every inch of ice and then tell me that the NBA is a physical league. Please. These guys bend a finger back and are out for a month. Cry me a river, guys in the NHL could have a broken bone in their foot and if they can get it in a skate they play on it.

I'm much more excited to watch March Madness than see whatever goes on in the NBA playoffs.

One final note today. As stated throughout the week, this was the opening round of the playoffs in our fantasy league. I have to say this because Gopher had a blog of his own ready for me to post should I have gone down in the first round.

All week I trailed, then Saturday came and I took a marginal 8-6 lead into Sunday. Thanks to some stellar play by the Penguins and Marc-Andre Fleury I ended up winning by that same margin.

That's right, the Runner Up Superstars are marching on to the semi-finals where they will face Cheech for the third straight year.

This should be a fun one.

Friday, March 14, 2008

NHL Headlines For 3/14/08

I've just finished a massive playoff analysis for Apryl DeLancey's Women Like Sports blog so be sure to click on over and check it out as it should be up soon.

Anyway, I've calmed down a bit after yesterday's rant on Chris Pronger so let's get right into it.

Red Wings Lock Up Playoff Berth

This was only a matter of time, but with last night's win over the Dallas Stars they also now have 100 points. Ladies and gentlemen, the race to 100 is over.

The only thing left for them to lock up is the No. 1 seed and there's no reason to think that won't come by this time next week. They hold a 10 point lead over the No. 2 seeded Sharks currently.

Welcome back to the show boys and good luck in the playoffs.

Coyotes Blank Canucks 2-0, Keep Playoff Hopes Alive

OK, this cannot happen. I refuse to admit that the Coyotes are even in a playoff hunt. Why you might ask? Does anyone remember the "White Out" they did a few years back? I'm still amazed that this trend was started.

In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, fans were encouraged to wear white shirts. If you didn't wear a white shirt, you were handed one on the way in and told to wear it. Did they really think that this would be effective? I'm still baffled at how this started showing up around the league and in other sports.

Anyway, the Coyotes (or as we affectionately call them, "The Fighting Gretzkys") are the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference, but trail the Canucks by three points.

Crosby To Miss A Week

And the injury woes continue for the Pens. Crosby is expected to miss the next three games with soreness in his ankle. Dare I say that the Pens might get Marian Hossa back for Sunday's game against the Flyers? I don't because everything I've said about this team over the last week has come back to bite me.

The good news in this is that the Pens have proven they can still win when Crosby is out. Evgeni Malkin has stepped up and flourished in the spotlight when Sid went down and I don't expect this to change.

New Video Shows Pronger's Stomp Clearer

OK apparently I was calm until I saw the pictures contained on that link. Don't read any more of this until you click the above link from They have two video stills that show the apparent stomp.

Go ahead, I'll still be here when you get back.

(Jeopardy Theme)

Welcome back...

At the risk of sounding like a broken record...

Are you kidding me?! How does he get off for that? That is a more blatant stomp than Chris Simon's on Jarkko Ruutu! How did the entire Canucks bench not empty to slay him for that?

Colin Campbell if you read this, grow a pair and suspend this guy for at least 10 games. Pronger is one of the dirtiest players in the league and seems to get away with murder all the time. If he were to pull a Todd Bertuzzi, would you suspend him then?

For those who haven't seen the Bertuzzi play I'm referring to here you go:

Laraque Suspended 3 Games For Elbowing Incident

To continue on with the above rant.

Mr. Campbell you have got to be kidding me. What justification do you have for suspending Laraque for three games here and not giving Pronger anything? I agree that Laraque should be suspended for the elbow, but I don't think there was a blatant attempt to injure someone like Pronger did.

Can you only be suspended now if you actually hurt someone? If Kesler would have has his career ended because of what was done would Pronger then face some disciplinary action? This is unbelievable. You suspend Steve Ott for three games for a hit up high and allow Pronger to skate away clean? Come on. Either the rules apply to all or none, make up your mind.

Here's the apparent elbow in slow motion.

That to me looks like Laraque went to put a hit on and Paetsch moved out of the way and caught the follow through in the head. Yes, it's still a penalty, but I don't see a clear attempt to hurt the guy. Again, the fact that he's suspended and Pronger is allowed to walk away disgusts me.

I think I need to go take a walk and cool off, but check back tomorrow for more headlines!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Headlines For 3/13/08

This one's going to be a little shorter as I'm working with Apryl DeLancey, writer of the "Women Like Sports" blog you see under my frequent links section, on a playoff contenders blog. When that posted I'll link to it from my newest post as well. I'll also be doing something similar for this blog in the next couple days for your enjoyment.

Here's today's headlines!

Ovechkin Scores Goals 55,56, Kolzig Gets 300th Win

Anyone who says Ovechkin is overrated has something wrong inside their head. The more I look around message boards the more I see a raging debate about who's the better player, Sidney Crosby or Ovechkin.

Here's the thing, for the most part this is like comparing apples to oranges. The two have different styles of play. Ovechkin plays more of a run and gun game and isn't afraid to knock someone into next week. His larger than Crosby frame allows him to play this way.

Crosby on the other hand has one of the greatest hockey minds the game has ever seen and he's only going to get better. Crosby sees things before they even happen out there and his passing skills are far superior to Ovechkin. When their careers are over we'll be able to look back and say "Ovechkin was a better goal scorer while Crosby was one of the best playmakers of all-time."

What we need to do is stop arguing about who's better. Each player is better than the other in certain respects. Just sit back and watch two all-world players do what they do best and enjoy it.

Also, congrats to Olaf Kolzig. You've come a long way from your days in Portland, Maine backstopping the Capitals then AHL affiliate Pirates.

Leafs Keep Playoff Hopes Alive With 3-2 Win Over Philadelphia

Is anyone else seeing the uncanny resemblance to last season with the Leafs here? Could this possibly come down to the final day of the regular season where the Leafs need one team to lose to get into the playoffs as the 8-seed? Remember how the Devils sent in the B-squad and didn't start Marty Brodeur in their last game of the year against the Islanders? If the Islanders lost that game, the Leafs make it in. Instead, Scott Clemmensen gets the nod and gets picked apart in an eventual shootout and my buddy Cheech went into seclusion for a week.

Pavel Kubina scored the eventual game winner for the second game in a row against the Flyers. The Leafs NEVER beat the Flyers, let alone twice in one week. Now I'm not saying the Leafs will get into the playoffs, but the math is still there. They trail the Flyers by five points with 10 games remaining.

Pronger Gets Off Clean After Stomp On Kesler

Are you kidding me? Didn't Chris Simon do this to Jarkko Ruutu earlier this season and got 30 games for it? Granted Simon is a repeat offender, but like I said yesterday about hitting up high, there is no place in hockey for this. This is a complete disregard for another player and just plain dirty.

How the NHL doesn't take action on Pronger is baffling. I call shenanigans and the next time Pronger does something questionable he better be made an example of.

Sabres' Paetsch Helped Off Ice After Elbow

Here's where I'm going to end up going off the handle in the next 24 hours. Georges Laraque was assessed a five-minute major for elbowing Nathan Paetsch during the second period of a 7-3 win last night. Paetsch was helped off the ice after being out cold for several minutes and is out indefinitely with a concussion. This makes three defensemen the Sabres have lost this week.

Now here's why I'm going to be pulling my hair out. Laraque will inevitably be suspended or have some action taken against him for this hit. Now go back and read the above story about Pronger again.

Here's how the math plays out here:

Pronger + Stomping on Kessler = No Action

Laraque + elbow to Paetsch = Probable suspension

In the grand scheme of things, these two plays are both worthy of some disciplinary action. However, I don't think Laraque intended for the elbow to come up as bad as it did. There is clear intent to injure written all over an attempted stomp on another player.

Stay tuned for the eventual rant on this.

Sens' Alfredsson Could Return Tonight

I can't say much more than "YESSSS!" This reaction is strictly from a fantasy standpoint as mentioned yesterday. I need this guy back playing in the worst way right now as I trail 8-6 overall.

Also according to, the Sens are confident in Martin Gerber being the starter from here on out. So if you own Ray Emery (me) go out and find someone else. I just picked up Carey Price...for the fifth time this season.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you all next time.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Headlines For 3/12/08

It seems as if the headlines post from yesterday was a hit and as promised I will continue to put up a few headlines from each day and give the witty commentary that you've all come to know from me.

So let's get right into it:

Oilers' Cogliano Scores 3rd OT Game Winner In A Row

It's times like this that I realize why I love sports in the first place. Andrew Cogliano set an NHL record last night. Did you know this record even existed before I just told you? Unless you're the Schwab, I don't think you did.

I'm actually very impressed with this, but if you're the Blues and you know that the kid has struck in overtime in each of the previous two games, how do you let him get open in the slot like he did last night?

Edmonton's recent streak keeps them in a playoff fight, though their chances are pretty slim of getting in. They are currently seven points out with 12 games to play.

Price Blanks Devils 4-0

OK, some of you may recall my rant on the Habs for trading away Cristobal Huet and going with Carey Price who's only 20. I am beginning to think I may have been a bit hasty.

His recent play is mirroring how well he played earlier this season when I picked him up for the first time in my fantasy league. However, I will not fully retract the rant until I see how he does in the playoffs. He has all the tools and makings of being an absolute stud in the NHL, but careers are made and broken in the playoffs.

Crosby, Talbot Out Against Buffalo, Sykora Questionable

This is basically going to be an AHL battle between two teams that have been plagued by injuries.

The Sabres lost two defensemen most likely for the year over the weekend in Jaroslav Spacek and Dmitri Kalinin. Spacek is out indefinitely with a chest injury and Kalinin could be out a couple weeks with a shoulder problem.

Sabres enforcer Andrew Peters has been suspended for one game which he will serve tonight against the Penguins. Peters' suspension stems from the team's last game against the Rangers and an altercation with Colton Orr.

The Pens will be without Sidney Crosby and Maxime Talbot tonight and Petr Sykora is listed as questionable. Crosby expects to play in the team's next game against the Flyers where Marian Hossa is expected to return as well.

Stars' Ott Suspended For 3 Games

The NHL has suspended Steve Ott for three games after a vicious hit on Avalanche defenseman Jordan Leopold.

I'm glad the NHL is taking action like this. This was another hit to the head incident. The concussions in the league are bad enough already (just ask Simon Gagne who's suffered three this season alone) without guys going at each other's heads. There is no place in the game for hits like this at all.

Heatley's Hat Trick Sinks Bruins

I'm approaching this from my fantasy match-up standpoint. I have Daniel Alfredsson who normally plays with Dany Heatley. Alfie has sat out the last few games with back spasms, including last night. Seeing Heatley go nuts last night was bad enough knowing that I missed out on some points that will no doubt come back to haunt me later in the week.

As if it couldn't get any worse, the guy I'm playing in the first round of the playoffs has Heatley. This was the final kick to the groin that left me whimpering last night and Gopher gloating like he actually won the championship already despite being on bye this week.

Congrats Heatley on the hat better get Afie his due when he comes back this week to make up for last night.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Headlines For 3/11/08

I think I'm going to start doing more of these. Here's how this is going to work. I'll pick a few headlines every day and write a quick little reaction to them. These will not be the only posts I ever make. On the days that have a normal full length blog, I'll push these headlines to the bottom of the post. If any of you have suggestions on what you'd like to see me comment on feel free to leave your ideas in the comments section.

Jarome Iginla Sets Flames Scoring Record

This is wonderful news. Iginla is one of the best players in the league and doesn't get enough recognition for it. He's a natural leader that can put the puck in the net, but that's not all. How many other guys have a skill set like him and still throw down to defend his teammates?

His 365th career goal passes Theo Fleury (legendary pest) and secures his name among the all-time greats that have suited up in Calgary.

Congrats Jarome I know you've made Gopher proud.

(Side note: This week marks the first week of the playoffs in our league. Gopher has the 1-seed. I finished as the 3-seed and missed a first round bye by 10 points in the standings. There will be a post coming soon about how the week is going for me soon.)

Rangers Win Again, 8-0-2 In Last 10

As stated in a recent post, will the Rangers continue to play at this level or is this just another big streak before the inevitable downfall?

Henrik Lundqvist has been playing out of his mind recently. Did anyone see the game against the Bruins on Sunday? He was saving goals that even a blind kid with one leg and one good arm should have been able to hammer home. There was one sequence where he dove across the crease with the glove and makes the save on Glen Metropolit only to see the rebound bounce out into the slot where he made another save ON HIS BACK! I don't care who you are, you have to be impressed with that.

Upon further review, that also gets my nomination for "Save of the Year" to go along with Cristobal Huet's save on Jordan Staal from the same day.

Hossa Hopes To Return To Penguins This Week

All I can say about this is "YAY!" Yes I'm a Pens fan and not even Gopher can roll his eyes about this one since he has him on his fantasy team.

The Pens only have 2 games this week, Wednesday against Buffalo and Sunday against Philadelphia. Both games are at home and as expected he will be on a line with Sidney Crosby. Stay tuned for more updates on this as they come in, but getting him back in the line-up could help the rest of the team in the shots on goal department.

And lastly for today we turn to baseball...sort of.

NHL Considers Yankee Stadium For Next Outdoor Game

Let's get this out in the open now before baseball season gets into full swing. I am a Red Sox fan so naturally I loathe the very existence of the New York Yankees and everything that goes with them.

Except this.

How cool would it be to send Yankee Stadium out with a real bang and not the implosion scheduled after the season? Just to keep the theme going with the Boston/New York rivalry, the Bruins and Rangers should face-off in the next installment of NHL Outdoors. It doesn't get much better than two Original 6 teams from two cities that hate each other in an iconic stadium where a standing room only crowd will witness an instant classic.

To Gary Bettman I say this: Please for the love of hockey get this done. The Winter Classic this year was amazing and couldn't have been scripted better than the game turned out. It's a brilliant marketing tool and can only grow the game even more.


Thank you.

Well that's it for now, but check back tomorrow for the latest headlines!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Pens vs. Caps 3/9/08

After a long night Saturday and seeing my clock instantly jump an hour into the future, I dragged myself out of bed and stumbled to my desk in the basement to watch quite possibly the best hockey game of the season so far.

I don’t know if I would’ve tuned in for the start if I wasn’t a Pens fan, but boy am I glad I did. From the opening draw this game had a playoff feel. Bodies were flying everywhere and the intensity was just like a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Pens and Caps both needed this win today, but the Pens prevailed 4-2. The win gets the Pens within one-point of idle New Jersey for not only the top spot in the division, but the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

A win for the Caps would have pulled them within five points of idle Carolina for the division lead and four points back of the 8-seeded Philadelphia Flyers.

The game came down to one play with just under 30 seconds to play in the third period. Sidney Crosby seemed to take over the game in the latter half of the period and wouldn’t you know it, he gets credit for the game winning goal.

Sid threw the puck to the front of the net looking for anybody to hammer it home. Caps rookie sensation Niklas Backstrom got his stick on the loose puck in the crease and attempted to fire it to the endboards out of trouble. Seems like the logical play when you have three opponents looking to pick up the garbage. Only problem was that he missed the endboards and fired it into his own net.

NBC had a camera focused on Alexander Ovechkin who was on the near side of the ice as the puck crossed the line. The anguish on his face was undeniable. He dropped to his belly and lay there for several moments. The kid had been flying all game long, registering 10 shots on goal and two assists in the game. You could tell he died a little inside to see that effort go for naught.

The hitting was like out of a video game for most of the contest. I lost count on how many guys Jarkko Ruutu sent flying. Crosby alone took about 7 big hits in the opening frame and bounced right back up every time. He’s got no fear at all. He was willing to do anything to win today.

Marc-Andre Fleury played very well. He had a little trouble with his rebound control in the second period which led to some more scoring chances for the Caps. All in all he came up big when he needed to, including making a sprawling breakaway save while shorthanded in the second period. The play goes back the other way and Crosby tucked the puck under Huet on a goalmouth scramble to give the Pens a 2-1 lead just after the powerplay expired.

Huet wasn’t tested early, but he was incredible on several occasions. I’m nominating his save on Jordan Staal as save of the year. Max Talbot made a great pass through traffic to Staal who had slipped by to the far side of Huet unchecked. Staal fires the one timer and Huet goes spread eagle to rob him with the pad. If Staal elevates the puck, it’s in no question, but I’m not taking anything away from Huet here. My jaw hit the floor, I put my head down and let out an exasperated whimper.

My heart rate was through the roof as the third period wound down. The Pens finally stopped trying to be fancy and cute with the puck and started throwing it on net every chance they got. Again, Huet was brilliant in the third period and it’s a shame for the Caps to lose the way they did.

Here’s the highlights of the game in case you haven’t seen it yourself. Pay attention to Doc’s voice. If you don’t get excited listening to him, have someone check your pulse to make sure you’re still alive.

Moments after the save on Huet, Sergei Gonchar tees it up from the point and drills the crossbar. At this point I’m nearly on the floor feeling like someone just kicked me in the groin. As a fan you start thinking, “this isn’t our day at all.” This would have followed suit with the rest of the weekend for me. (Quick side note: I’m a bowler. Yeah I said it. Since I work a night shift and can’t play hockey, I bowl. Have since I was a kid. I average about 175ish and since getting two new balls that’s going up. Friday night is league night and I had it going on this week. Only problem is that the pins weren’t cooperating at all. My final two games should have been 230+ games but ended up as 187 and 156. I was not impressed.)

Anyway, I ran upstairs as the Pens go down a man for a too many men on the ice penalty to finish getting ready for work. I put the television on in the bedroom and started jumping up and down like an idiot when Backstrom potted the game winner for the Pens. My girlfriend comes running in asking what happened, but I might as well have suffered a stroke. There’s no way she understood a word I said. All she said was “Come on put your shirt on, we have to get going.”

She witnessed the final nail in the coffin with Evgeni Malkin making an unselfish pass to Staal to give him some vindication for his hard work all game, who ripped the empty net twine.

This was nuts. My father called me in the middle of the game to discuss going away on vacation later this year and I don’t think he could even understand me on the phone. I suppose I should call him back now that the game is over and who doesn’t like vacation?

Going forward, the Pens need to stop giving up 35+ shots a game. At one point today they were down 27-9 in shots and ended the game 38-25. They need to cut these numbers down if they are going to make a deep run in the playoffs. Also, stop being cute with the puck. Throw it on net and crash for the rebounds. That's how you score goals this time of year.

Anyway, should be a fun stretch run for everyone, but I felt compelled to write something about this fantastic game.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Top 5 Hockey Movies Of All Time

As with any sport, Hollywood has made movies about the coolest game on Earth over the years. These movies have reached out and targeted various age groups. Some had made us laugh and cry and other have made us run for the hills. One particular film comes to mind, keep reading for what that gem of pestilence is.

As a special bonus, I have enlisted the help of the infamous Gopher for this list. After spending countless minutes debating these films here is what we were able to come up with.

Note: Some of the below might have some similarities. Long have we discussed how much we think alike. Yet again we were shocked to see how some of our answers played out here.

#5 Mighty Ducks 2

Shea: This is obviously a classic, but it's not as good as the original. I'm more of a believer that the original is usually the best film and the others are usually disappointments. The best example of this from a recent trilogy would be Pirates of the Caribbean. First one was great, second one was ok, third was just plain weird with not enough Keira Knightly.

I had a couple problems with D2 which is why I rank it 5th. First off, final game against Iceland. Iceland? Really? Why not make this more believable Disney and put a country who actually has a legitimate hockey program like oh I don't know...Finland, Sweden, Russia, Czechs, etc.

Also from the final game, what's up with Gunner Stahl going up to Charlie Conway and saying "good game captain duck." Last I checked Conway didn't even suit up for that game! Here's what you do Gunner. Hand Conway some pom-poms and then congratulate him on being the youngest male cheerleader in history.

Not to mention the knuckle puck. Are you kidding me? Anyone who's ever played hockey or had a puck lying around the basement has tried this and immediately said "What the #$%#?" It doesn't work. Not even close. Not even like the puck dances at all. It goes about three feet and dies.

Final note on the knuckle puck. How on Earth does Bombay get Ross Tyler on the roster? Don't the rosters have to be submitted prior to the tournament beginning? Also, THE KID CAN'T SKATE! What coach puts a kid who can't skate for beans on the ice and makes him play defense? Coaches always put the worst skaters on the wings. It takes the focus off the kid.

Also, his goal at the end crosses the line of movie magic, stomps all over the line of Disney movie magic and enters the realm of absurd. Not even with 10 people helping you could you take off goalie equipment and put it on another person that quick. I played goalie for a couple years. It takes a solid 15-20 minutes if you're hustling and have someone handing you equipment. Last I checked, hockey timeouts were 30 seconds. You explain that to me. If it were me I would have called Congress to test those kids for performance enhancers.

Gopher: Shea and I disagree on this one, due to the fact that I believe this is one of those few sequels that outshines the original. Godfather II, The Empire Strikes Back, and Major League II are the others. (The plot was better in Major League I, but Bob Uecker in Major League II deserved an Oscar.)

If you can’t get pumped watching TEAM USA in the Junior Goodwill games, check your pulse. The additions of Dwayne, Kenny, Julie, Portman and Luis outweigh the subtractions of Karp, Petey, Tammy, Tommy, and Terry Hall. (Sidebar: D2 basically put the Sandlot on skates. Jesse Hall = DeNunez. Mendoza= Benny the Jet Rodriguez. Dwayne = Bertram. Great move by Disney.)

Better characters plus national pride on the line equal a much higher sense of tension and in the end, a better movie. Plus is there a better goal call ever than “Wu Wu Wu Kenny Wu!” I think not. One other thing; every kid in the universe, and my guess, most NHL players, have at one point or another have tried the knuckle puck. It has revolutionized the glass industry due to the number of windows that have been shattered since its inception.

There were minor issues here as with D1. First of all, despite whatever promises you make to the girl from Bangor, Maine, no self respecting coach would ever put in an ice cold Julie the Cat against the leading scorer of the tourney. It would never happen, plus one would think Goldberg would have put up more than a fight. Secondly, despite its comedic value and absolute surprise, Dwayne would NEVER have his rope already in a lasso waiting for him on the bench. It makes no sense. Plus the penalty call should have been too many men on the ice, not roping.

Finally, Guy would have been pissed Dwayne was honing in on Connie. There would have been a fight on the bench if Guy had any pucks (for lack of other words). I realize with a name like Guy Germaine, no one would ever think of you to be tough. With that said, show some pride and stand up for your girl.

Despite my minor quibbles, D2 is still a movie that I could watch daily.

#4 Mighty Ducks 1

Shea: Instant classic. I grew up playing hockey and after watching this movie I started including the triple deke into my own repertoire. You wouldn't believe how much it actually works if pulled off to Gordon Bombay perfection. I've since modified it to a 2 1/2 deke with a nasty shoulder fake. Works every time.

Here's my reasoning for ranking this ahead of D2 aside from the above theory. Who doesn't like coming back and sticking it to someone who wronged you as a child. Am I that petty? Hell yes I am. I'm that guy who can't wait for his high school reunions to go back and shove my success in their faces and the final "screw you." I'm not saying that I didn't like anyone I went to school with, I did. It's just those certain few people who always thought they were better than anyone that I want to stuff success down their throats, which is exactly what Bombay does through Conway in this movie.

Plus it was easier to relate to this movie because until I got into high school, I somehow ended up on one of the worst teams in the league. I remember we made the playoffs as a 7-seed one year and knocked off the heavily favored 2-seed in the first round. That's my real-life Ducks moment.

Gopher: Mighty Ducks was the best kids’ sports movie to come along since the Bad News Bears. Everyone loved the underdog story and the comeback of the Ducks, led by Charlie Conway (who I actually wrote an essay about in college) and the famed triple deke. As a child, there was little better in life than quacking along with the crowd and pulling for the Ducks.

The quality on this isn't great, but it's the best we could find.

As an adult, (not really, more like a 5 year old with college graduate logic) I keep finding mini flaws in this movie that continually irritate me.

First of all, in any playoff system that has ever been devised, the top seeded Hawks would have played the bottom seeded Ducks. The climactic face-off in the finals pitting mentor versus pupil with Bombay vs Reilly in a Star Wars-esque like manor (I've been waiting for you, Reilly. We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master) is a must for movie purposes.

The same tension is necessary with Banks facing his former team. Movies can make any playoff brackets they want. If this was to happen in real life though, it is the worst playoff format in the history of sports. Secondly, I realize how popular hockey is in Minnesota. I just highly doubt they would have radio broadcasts for 10-year old regular season hockey games. If any Golden Gophers can help this regular gopher out and correct me, that would be great. If I get no response though, I’m going to assume this is bogus and does not happen in real life.

As a children’s movie, Mighty Ducks gets the highest marks. As an adult looking back on it, I still love it. I just hate the fact that I found those flaws.

#3 Slap Shot

Shea: Does it get any better than the Hanson twins running around hitting anything that moves? I don't think so. The overwhelming number of fights is hilarious. Until you actually have played on a team that has a couple guys like the Hansons, you can only appreciate their antics at face value.

I clearly remember one guy who could have been a stunt double for the Hansons. This kid hit like a Mack truck and always got penalized for hitting people "too hard." I didn't know that was possible, but he was singlehandedly responsible for sending at least 10 kids to the hospital.

During that same season we actually had a for real Slap Shot 5 on 5 brawl that turned into 10 on 10 or more I don't remember the numbers as I was too busy wailing on some guy. Guess who basically started the whole melee. Yup, the kid mentioned above. His buddy got head-butted off the draw with 5 seconds to go and pounced like lion on the weak antelope. The rest is one big blur.

With that said, I couldn't do much but laugh throughout the entire movie.

Gopher: This is Paul Newman’s third best movie behind Cool Hand Luke and The Sting in that order. I will not debate this. Anyone who disagrees can refute it in the “comments” section and we will have a back and forth throw down. With that said, that’s not a bad list of movies to be behind and his acting in this as player-coach Dunlop is amazing.

The thought of a minor league hockey player-coach is brilliant and not used enough in the real world today. What would you give to have Mike Keenan as an enforcer picking a fight with Zdeno Chara? I’m actually giving 3-1 odds to Keenan on this one. If anyone in Vegas could set this up, I’d greatly appreciate it.

The same would go for Gretzky vs anyone. I would take the wimpy Marek Malik with one hand and one skate blindfolded vs Gretzky. Unless Gretzky had one of his goons come off the bench to protect him, I’d like to see his head bleed like in Swingers.

The key to Slap Shot is of course the Hanson Brothers. This tandem has enabled many begrudging males to come up with a last second Halloween costume as long as they owned a hockey jersey, black glasses, and tape. On top of the comedic look for hockey players (Something tells me Rec Specs would not have done), they take cursing and fighting to a new level. The only problem with this movie is you can’t watch it on television unless it's HBO. I get excited when I see it, but the first use of the phrase “You mother-brother” is a turn off worse than fat chicks whose bellybuttons you can see underneath their tight white shirts. Overall though, a movie masterpiece with comedic genius.

#2 Mystery Alaska

Shea: The only thing I didn't particularly like with this movie was that Russel Crowe was the grizzled veteran who ends up leading the team to a sort of glory, if by glory you mean taking pride in losing despite how hard you tried.

Last I checked a loss was still a loss.

Anyway, how many people sat open mouthed when Connor Banks rings the crossbar as the longest 3 seconds in the history of the world expires? I for one was shocked.

How cool would it be to skate around your town and have endless sheets of ice at your disposal? This would be heaven for me. The opening shots of Mystery are amazing. The whole town is playing hockey, from little kids right up to the traditional Saturday Game. It's pond hockey at it best. Just throw the sticks in the middle and have a neutral party toss them to either side to establish teams.

Hank Azaria is the guy I am going to be in a couple years with the reunion thing above. The aspiring writer who left the town of Mystery who couldn't skate to save his life, comes back to town bringing the New York Rangers to play the boys of Mystery Alaska. He comes off as a pain for most of the movie, but his drunken ride on the stolen Zamboni was priceless.

Plus as an added bonus we get one of the greatest pissed off rants of all time by the Price World rep.

Gopher: It is on my list of movies to see, but I am going to come clean here and say I have never seen this movie. Instead I’m going to trash the 3rd leg of a trilogy that never happened. D3 was an embarrassment to hockey, movies, and high school. Emilio Estevez saw it coming and merely took a cameo and a huge paycheck. Joshua Jackson entered the “I can’t act” part of his life. Connie Moreau wasn’t hot anymore and Julie the Cat got fat. Hans died. Awful plot decisions.

Other issues:

1. No school would change its name if the JV beat the Varsity in hockey based on a student negotiated bet. There is no way the Warriors would become the Ducks. Plus what did all of the other athletes think? Did the football team, baseball team, and soccer team okay this? Did the board of regents? Did the school store? I call shenanigans.

2. Even if number one was an oral contract, there is no way the school would have ever laid out the money to pre-order and hang a banner in the off chance that the JV did win.

3. Paul Kariya comes to be the color announcer to a 14 year old at a high school intra-squad hockey game? Really? He didn’t have other things to do during hockey season?

4. When their goon goes through the glass (which would never happen) he goes skate first into the third row. Two skates with flying shards of glass hurling towards a sold out crowd would have caused injuries and massive bleeding. I saw none of this. I realize its Disney and all, but if Gary Bertier can get paralyzed in a car crash and die in Remember the Titans, we can see a little Richard Zednik action. (I realize I’m going to hell for that last comment, but he is okay now, and I’m already going for so many other things.)

I have more, but Shea wants to keep this relatively short. This movie was a shame. Enough said.

#1 Miracle

Shea:The 1980 United States Olympic hockey team is why I got into writing in the first place. How? Going back to my junior year in high school I wrote am in depth report on the game against the Soviets. My teacher at the time pulled me aside before handing the paper back to me and asked what my plans for a career were. At that time I had none. She gave me the nudge down the road I currently walk and I have her to thank for that. Thanks Lasante!

My love affair with this team didn't stop there. As a senior in college I had to do an original research paper as my thesis. Guess what I chose yet again. The more I researched this team the more I understood what the win meant. Yes it's the greatest upset in sports ever. (If you try to tell me the Giants beating the Pats in the Super Bowl that never happened is a bigger upset, I'm sending the men in white coats to take you away and get you the treatment you so deserve.)

Not to date myself here, but I wasn't alive for the "Miracle on Ice" so this movie was about the closest thing I could get to actually living in the moment. How many movies have you been to where people start cheering in the middle of he film? I can't think of any I've been to. Miracle was the only one.

The theater exploded when Mike Eruzione (Patrick O'Brien Demsey)scores the eventual game winning goal in the third period. I got chills watching this. I've seen the actual game 100 times and that goal never gets old. Ever. (Side note, it just won ESPN's Greatest Highlight as voted on by the people. It faced off against Boise State/Oklahoma. Had it lost to BSU I would have boycotted ESPN forever.)

I loved how as the final seconds ticked off the clock, they seamlessly transition into the actual call from Al Michaels. "Do you believe in Miracles?! YESSSS!" I just got chills typing that. To borrow from Bill Simmons, Al Michaels' call belongs in the pantheon of greatest calls of all time.

I was sold on Mystery Alaska being the best hockey movie ever made until this came along and knocked it down a peg.

Gopher:This movie is the real life D2 on a bigger stage titled around the single greatest sports call of all time. Kurt Russell portrayed Herb Brooks with utter brilliance and accuracy. The use of actual former television broadcasts added authenticity to this highlight of American History. In addition, using Al Michaels to broadcast the semi-final versus the USSR was quintessential to success of this film. This is his greatest performance, narrowly edging out BASEketball. Finally, using relatively unknown actors for the players was perfect due to the fact that all of the players on the team were relative unknowns at the time too. Kudos to the casting director here.

Getting back to the movie, Miracle truly recreates that moment in time. So many movies “Based on a True Story” don’t truly get the audience’s heart rate going. Therefore directors add scenes and take liberties to keep the viewer entertained. The best part of Miracle is this is kept to a minimum. The director knew the story would sell itself, so why embellish? The tension between the U.S. and the USSR is palpable, and the viewer continually creeps towards the edge of their seat. Some people say based on real life is boring because we know the outcome going in. This was my rationale to not watching Titanic. The boat sinks, get over it.

Miracle avoids this cliché. The theater I was in when I watched this movie actually erupted during Eruzione’s go ahead goal and counted down with Michaels during the final call. Corny? Perhaps. But this movie captured the national pride felt in ’80, and helped all of us who didn’t get to witness it live, feel a fraction of what was truly flowing through America’s blood during the real thing.