Sunday, January 27, 2008

Can't take the All-Star fiasco

I was watching...and not really enjoying...the skills competition last night, when they cut to an interview with Scott Neidermeyer. Scott told us during that interview that the All-Star weekend is, "a nice break in the middle of the season." Um, Scott, you've played 19 whole games. You didn't even start playing until the middle of the season, you need a break already? Maybe you shouldn't have un-retired if you're that worn out by this point.

Toss in Leclaire-gate, and is the point of the All-Star game to showcase the games' current stars, or the stars the NHL thinks should be stars? Neidermeyer getting added after Zubov went down is supposed to be rewarding him for his career as an all-star. OK, then why not take Sergei Fedorov? Mike Modano? Mats Sundin? Rob Blake? I mean, is it this season's all-stars or isn't it?

I understand it's an exhibition, and one that's gotten less entertaining over recent years. It's more of a pond-hockey-embarass-the-goalies type event than a "game." I'm fine with that aspect, but let's at least reward the guys who have survived and excelled the first half of the grind that is the NHL season.

There are two guys getting much needed rest right now rather than hamming it up in Atlanta which they're first half outputs say they should be doing: Brian Rafalski and Pascal Leclaire. Rafalski doesn't really need the rest to propel the Wings into the playoffs, but the days off could help Leclaire push the Jackets into the top 8.

Oh, yeah, the skills competition from last night, I only have one thing to comment on: Artistic merit has zero place in hockey. The rest of the skills comp went downhill from there.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Trade winds blowing

The Calgary Flames are in a unique position in that they believe they have a Stanley Cup contender this year, but they are in a position to remain a good team for years to come. Kiprusoff, Iginla and Regehr are all locked up, at a discount, for the next 5 years. That is great, but they have glue guys such as Langkow, and to a lesser extent Conroy, coming up for unrestricted free agency. Kristian Huselius, who has been Iginla's best sidekick this season, is also up for UFA and is due a big raise. This is all without mentioning that satring all-star defenseman Dion Phaneuf is a restricted free agent at the end of the year and will no doubt be looking for at least a 5 year, likely towards a 10 year, contract.

So what to do? Well, right now, the Flames have enough cap space to bring anybody in to help with this year. The media up here is almost trying to talk the Flames into trading for Sundin. A line of Iginla, Huselius and Sundin would be near unstoppable. The Flames are also rumoured to be following Peter Forsberg's situation closely, though I can't see him choosing Calgary over Colorado, Nashville, Vancouver or (gulp) Detroit. If either of these guys are picked up, look for Sutter to add a depth d-man, a la Adam Foote (if the Jackets are out) and call the team ready to go for a run.

Whether they do this or something else, one thing that has become evident is that Tanguay is as good as gone. He makes $5 million a season and is a second line, 2nd PP and PK guy with the Flames. Don't get me worng, there is nothing wrong with his play, but that money is needed to sign more important pieces mentioned earlier. Montreal seems to be the most common link here, but look for Sutter, if he trades Tanguay, to trade for an upcoming UFA that he will have very little chance, or need to resign. Sergei Federov, a prospect and a pick anyone?

Stay tuned.

P.S. My apologies for not posting after Canada's big win over the U.S. I did however leave Tim a nice voicemail of the Team canada juniors singing the national anthem. I am sure he had tears in his eyes.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Nash's red mouthpiece not an issue...

As noted last night, the signature red mouthpiece was missing from Ricky's mouth. Apparently, it wasn't the source of his mojo....

Thursday, January 17, 2008

My patience has worn thin...

While the Jackets are playing well, I'm running out of patience for Malhotra and Chimera.

This post is coming mid-second period where I've seen Malhotra not see a wide open Dan Fritsche for a probable scoring chance. Or, worse, he saw him and didn't make the effin' pass. That was followed not long after by Chimera trying to chip the puck up the boards and failing to get it by the d-man, but he then just gave up on the play. Then a mere seconds later Manny has the chance to clear the puck by getting his body in front of it and...WHIFF!

Rumor has it the Rags want one or both of these guys...take them. Please.

Also of note from tonight's game, Nash doesn't have his signature red mouthpiece in. Maybe it's been a few games for him with the clear one, but I just noticed it tonight.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Canada v. US recap...US version

Zukes has said he will give the Canadian side, so while I'm holding my breath for that I'll write up my thoughts...

I thought Mason in net and the Canadian defense clearing the few rebounds he gave up were the key. The US had a lot of firepower, but they were getting no second chance shots. Every time the US would get a decent scoring opportunity, it was swept to the corner before it was a serious threat. No traffic in and around the goalie at that level spells bad things for you on the scoreboard...4-1 bad.

The other thing I noticed, was that once the Canadians went on top, they just wanted it more. As the game wore on, that came through all over the ice. Not that the US kids didn't want it, but they hadn't trailed very much in the tournament so far, so getting behind and staying behind took its toll. Snapping the shutout was a moral victory at best, but moral victories at the World Juniors doesn't win you gold medals.

So, once again on the the bronze medal game for the US kids. They'll play Russia, a team the handled pretty well last week in a 3-2 victory. Can they do it again and get the bronze? We'll find out in the morning. (10am Eastern on the NHL Network.)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New favorite play-by-play phrase...

With the Jackets out west and FSN Ohio not wanting to put Rimer and Gare on a plane, I'm watching the Ducks feed on FSN West.

During a power play for the Jackets, Klesa moved in and got a good shot off that sailed high, which prompted the play-by-play announcer to say:
"And Klesla gets a good shot off as he walks all the way into the ladies tees!"
It probably sounded funnier than it reads, but I hadn't heard that one before and got a good laugh out of it.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Karma's a funny thing...

As I left the house last night, I grabbed a white Jackets hat off the coat rack by the door and commented to Wendy, "I hope somebody gets a hat trick tonight so I can get rid of this thing." Since the Jackets hadn't had a hatter at home since before the lockout, I figured on coming home with my most recently purchased and least favorite Jackets hat.

Then Rick Nash netted his second of the evening, a power play goal off a rebound. A rather Nashesque goal. With only 3 minutes left and a one goal lead following that goal, myself and about 16,000 other people figured we'd see Nasher on the ice with an empty net.

Unlike two nights earlier when Zherdev passed to Beech for the EN goal, thus passing up a hat trick of his own, Nash had nobody to pass to. His one option was to shoot it, setting off a flurry of hats from the stands. From my perch in 209 I took my hat off, looked at Wendy and said, "Honey, I get rid of this thing!" With that I launched it towards the ice.

Physics and wind resistance pretty much ensure I'm not going to get it to the ice, so we in the upper bowl rely on the kindness and hockey mindedness of others to get our hats to the ice. I followed it as it progressed towards the ice. It took three more throws, and it got to the second row. Then the guy in the second row picked it up, looked it over, and tucked it under his arm.

That's right, a hat destined for Rick Nash, or more specifically the hat bin in the concourse, was picked up by some cheap-ass in the second row, looked over, and determined to be a good find. On New Year's Eve, no less. If you're supposed to eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year's Day for good luck, what's stealing a hat trick hat got to do for the upcoming year?

The obvious hygiene concern of putting another, unknown person's hat on your head aside, that's just beyond poor hockey etiquette. The hockey gods will not look on this favorably, and hopefully they make the little scrote that kept Nash's hat pay and pay dearly...