Sidney Crosby will be named Pittsburgh's new captain at a press conference tomorrow afternoon, making him the youngest captain in NHL history...
...maybe now Mario will let him stay up until 10:00 on a school night.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Anyone who has watched more than one playoff series in their lives knows that Game 1 isn’t supposed to be that good – at least when compared to the rest of the series. The two teams are feeling each other out, learning the buttons to push and the tricks to use, adapting to and adjusting for the other teams’ strengths and weaknesses. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals is usually even worse because you have two teams that have barely played one another, especially under the new NHL scheduling.
Well, someone forgot to tell the Senators and Ducks. Because if this game is the worst of the series, I’d say we’re in for a hell of a ride.
It’s not that it was a perfect game. There were mistakes and fluky bounces. There were bad goals and missed calls. There were timid moments to be sure.
But all in all it was pretty breathtaking. It was a close game throughout regardless of who held the lead and you just knew that one bounce, one penalty, one laser of a shot, and the lead could flip in an instant. It was physical, it was intense, it was full of animosity and hatred unheard of between two teams that haven’t met in over a year and a half...everything you want in a playoff game.
It’s no secret that this postseason has been great, at times spectacular. It’s only fitting that this series, as a culmination of the performances from these two teams, should be a treat for the eyes. To all you lucky people who were in attendance last night and to everyone holding a ticket for any of the games down the line, I have only this to say – hold on to those ticket stubs. You’re witnessing an instant classic, and those don't come along everyday.
- Stepping aside from the sappiness for a moment, I'm pleased to announce that the Round 3 winner of the First Annual Blogger Playoff Pool is...
Ah, a Caps fan. There's only 253 of us in the pool, you'd think one of the Caps' faithful would have won before, but what can you do.
Anyways, keep an eye out for loving tributes to the Caps from the following people:
And as always I've got a pretty spreadsheet all ready with the current standings: Round 3
(By the way, compare these standings to Round 2 and tell me this isn't anyone's game...)
Sunday, May 27, 2007
These are some happy teams, these Ducks and Senators. It's time, therefore, to determine once and for all who the Stanley Cup Champion will be tonight by virtue of their smiles.
Not bad, not bad...a little leering, but nice. Teemu? Your turn:
Also a little creepy, so...we'll call it 1-1. Spez-
Dammit, Pronger! Take your maniacal laughter elsewhere please.
It's just not normal for a hockey player to have such perfect teeth.
2-1 Spezza. Batter up!
That one just looks painful...still 2-1.
Nice. Relaxed. Easy. 3-1.
Come on, Teemu, don't make it a rout, show me something good!
Aw, see? Was that so hard? 3-2. Sens-boy:
Now that's a man who looks ready for the Stanley Cup, isn't it?
One last shot, Teemu, give us your best...
Okay, it's no contest - sorry, Finnish Brad Pitt, when engaging in a battle of smiles always leave the creepy stuff at home.
The winner and still champion...Jason Spezza!
Looks like the Cup is coming back to Canada after all.
...but shucks, we knew that already...
(Anyone else ready for this damn series to start?)
Saturday, May 26, 2007
It's so quiet right now I swear I just saw tumbleweed fly across the NHL website. It's that calm before the storm where everything about the upcoming series has been said, all the matchups analyzed and overanalyzed, all the key factors pointed out and pounded into our brains, and now all we can do...is wait.
Tap our fingers impatiently on the table.
Watch bad reality television.
Maybe hum a little tune.
Or we could *gasp* watch hockey! Now bear with me, because this may sound a little crazy, but did you know that not only is there hockey being played this very night, but said hockey is also of direct interest to Caps fans?
Capitals-related postseason hockey. I kid you not.
Tonight the Hershey Bears look to close out the sweep of the Manchester Monarchs and advance to the Calder Cup Finals for the second straight year. At the same time the Hamilton Bulldogs will attempt to take care of some unfinished business and do what they couldn't do last night - eliminate the Chicago Wolves.
It's just very exciting, kids. Lots of layers to this one, too:
- The Bears have only lost two games this postseason, both in overtime. Their opponents, the Manchester Monarchs, had up until this year never won a playoff series...so you have to think that everything else is just gravy and they'll just roll over. (Hey, a girl can dream.)
- Meanwhile out West...ish...Hamilton is en route to their third Calder Cup Final appearance in franchise history, provided they can take care of those pesky Chicago Wolves, although we know them better as the baby Thrashers.
- Fun fact that I uncovered - the Bulldogs clinched their first appearance in the Finals with a win over Albany exactly ten years ago tomorrow. Their opponent in that championship series? The Hershey Bears. Freaky.
- More semi-interesting tidbits -
- 3 of the top 10 scorers in the AHL playoffs so far are from Hershey. That's not completely unexpected, but consider the fact that the Bears have played 13 games, fewer than any of the other three remaining teams. The top two scorers are both from Chicago, while Manchester has 2 of the top 10 as well and poor Hamilton only has one. The Baby Pens and the Baby Bruins each somehow snuck a player in to the top 10...go figure.
- Of the top 20 scorers, Hershey has five: Fleischmann, Barney, Wilson, Steckel and Mike freakin' Green. Love it.
- In the last two postseasons, Hershey has lost only 7 games - 3 of those losses came in overtime (including both losses this year), 2 losses were by one goal, and 2 were by two goals. Only once were they shutout. Is that good? That seems good to me. I don't know.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
The Hershey Bears coming within one win of the Calder Cup Finals? The Stanley Cup Finals between the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks? Brian Leetch's retirement?
What about...the top ten reasons I hate Sidney Crosby? Yes!
Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Besides, with the Pens long gone from the playoffs I haven't gotten to pick on them for a while and frankly I'm getting a little restless waiting for preseason to roll around. h/t to Amanda for the idea
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
- I'm sure everyone knows by now that Nicklas Backstrom has officially signed with the Caps and was introduced to the local media Monday afternoon. I was still out of town for that one but I did catch him on Washington Post Live yesterday and was pretty impressed.
Not with WaPo Live - holy crap, is that show booooring...
Anyways, Backstrom is obviously not going to be the flamboyant, spotlight-grabbing player that Ovechkin has been since day 1. You could tell he was nervous, but he was poised and modest, with a fair grasp of English to boot. Not a bad pitch out at RFK this weekend, either - did anyone make it out to the ballpark who can report back?
This is an exciting time for Caps fans, so naturally the local mainstream media is completely ignoring it - I won't babble on about how unjust that is because as usual the boys at OFB beat me to it (and naturally did a better job than I would have...). NBC4.com did post their coverage on their website - a nice 2 minute segment with interviews and photo ops that you can see here. Check it out if you need a little MSM hockey fix.
- The Bears continue their AHL madness by taking a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals...on the other side of the bracket, we have the Hamilton Bulldogs going up 2-0 in their series against Chicago. I don't want to jump the gun here, but a potential Calder Cup Final between the Baby Caps and the Baby Habs?
- So it looks like we have a few days off before the big show commences Monday night: Sens vs. Ducks, for the whole enchilada...
East vs. West...
US vs. Canada...
Former Capitals assistant coach vs. Former Capitals coach...
Once crappy expansion team vs...well, once crappy expansion team...
Of course, this means we have at most seven hockey games left until we are plunged into a summer of darkness. Boo.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Ladies and gentlemen, we have our Stanley Cup Final matchup as the Ducks take out the Red Wings in six - and with the exit of the Red Wings, I feel it is appropriate to offer this fitting tribute to craggy ol' leatherface himself, Dominik Hasek.
What is it about this guy that just makes me want to hurt someone? Could it be the horrifying stickhandling? What about the extra fluorish and jazz hands he adds to standard saves? Maybe it's the whining and yapping...or maybe I'm still bitter about that blocker toss at Peter Bondra all those years ago.
Whatever it is, this mutant strain of human who evolved with no spine gets far too many accolades for what I feel is sheer dumb luck. Sure, he makes the occasional sparkling stop, flashes the leather to get the crowd all excited, risks dislocating a hip with his cross-crease dives. But come on, the other 95% of the time he doesn't even see the puck. He just does his insane snow angel, flopping around in the crease like a trout, praying that the puck just finds him.
Good plan. Wonder how it will look from the golf course.
Don't believe me? Check out footage of the second and third goals scored by Anaheim tonight (and this is not to take away from what was a terrific game by the Ducks). He lies down long before the play has stopped and merely waves his glove helplessly at the spot where he hopes the puck is - meanwhile a sneaky Anaheim player has retrieved the puck and calmly skated it around the flailing limbs.
It's reminiscent of something, I just can't put my finger on it...what could it be...hmm...
Yup, that's it. Creepy, eh?
Sayonara, Dom. Can't say I'll miss seeing your leathery face in the Finals.
(By the way, this post serves as further proof that I should not attempt lucid thought or unbiased posting when operating on minimal sleep. My wholehearted apologies to fans of Peni-, er, Hasek.)
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go
'Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane
Don't know when I'll be back again...
"Leavin' on a Jet Plane" by John Denver
Okay, so that's a bit of a lie. I do know when I'll be back again. But the rest, unfortunately, is true. I am headed off to attend to real world duties (damn this working for a living thing) and will be away for about a week. I'll do my best to check in from time to time on the off chance I'm able to:
a) see a hockey game in Charlotte, NC, land of NASCAR and
b) stay awake long enough to write about it
Odds are slim that either will happen, so as usual check out the growing list of assorted hockey bloggers for your ongoing coverage of all things hockey in my absence. Or, as a sign of solidarity to me, go on a hockey fast until I return - you know, avoid the 14th page of the Post's sports section, keep flipping past Versus, tear your clothing...the normal stuff.
Of course I'm missing the one playoff game I'm dying to see, and that's tonight's Buffalo-Ottawa game. I'm taping it, though, and hopefully I'll catch a bit of it on NHL.com. In the meantime, be sure to check out Heather B.'s
Well, maybe not so secret anymore :)
So I ask that you all think of me kindly as you're sitting on your couches watching tonight's game, or when you're settling in for a nice relaxing Saturday morning lie-in. Hopefully the good thoughts will travel south and help propel me through the next six days.
Happy hockey watching!
(Oh, and welcome back to our wandering blogger crew + Spike Parker - great job, guys!)
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Did anyone see this piece in yesterday's post? (Special thanks to my dad for passing this along as he works on becoming my next super junior reporter in the field...)
I'm not all that familiar with the author so I did a little e-archaeological dig and skimmed some of his past columns - he's mildly funny and not nearly as obnoxious as Kornheiser (although admit it, who really is?) but he's clearly not a hockey fan.
That's fine, it's the Post. The day they pay more than one hockey fan on staff is the day Ann Coulter says something intelligent.
But do you ever get the feeling that sports columnists use hockey as a go-to source when they have nothing else to write about? Football season is over, the Nationals are the Nationals, and basketball playoffs are more sleep-inducing than the Stars-Canucks series. When in doubt, pick on those funny men with sticks. Brilliant.
But that's not what I want to complain about. I'm used to columns picking on my sport, it's a way of life in DC and the bread and butter of Tony Kornheiser.
[To be fair, this column is clearly not aimed at me or at any other true fan of the sport, nor is it meant to be serious...I hope. I know the author is trying to be funny, I'm just trying to keep the pro-Sens gloating to a minimum for one day and picking apart snarky attacks on my beloved game is what I came up with. They target hockey, I target them - that's my little slow news day trick.]
So Mr. Chad suggests in his tongue-in-cheek way that the following changes should be made to save hockey on TV:
1. The game needs to be televised north-south, not east-west.
2. The game needs to eliminate one intermission.
Okay, let's pick apart #1 first - keep the cameras behind the net and film the action coming towards you. That way you can see the goals when they go in; never mind that you miss all the action that actually leads up to the goals. Please. You wouldn't watch a football game just for the touchdowns, a baseball game just for the home runs, a basketball game just for...
...okay, that last one is a bad example.
But yes, brilliant idea, let's keep the cameras on the net. Then we'll move the cameras into the end zone, focus the lens straight down at home plate, and just have a camera perched over the mouth of the basket. Sounds like good viewing, doesn't it? Wheee. Just eliminate all that pesky playmaking that gets in the way, seeing what went into the points being scored and you have got yourself the makings of a true TV sport.
On to #2.
Two 30-minute halves? Are you KIDDING me? Watch an intermission interview sometime and see how sweaty and out of breath the players are. That's after 45-60 second shifts, usually totalling no more than 10 minutes. If you think the action gets sloppy in triple overtime, wait until you see the action in the last 5 minutes of that half-hour period. Not to mention the fact that an already slushy ice surface like the one at the Phone Booth would become nothing more than a really cold pool.
If people want to flip away, they'll flip away. If the game is good, they'll come back - if they're hockey fans, they won't leave. If the game is horrible and the person isn't a hockey fan, what are the odds that they'll stick around until intermission in the first place? What, did they end up on Versus hoping to see a little fast-action bass fishing?
In all seriousness, I do have an idea for turning hockey into a televised sport - take every single person in the country to a live game. More than one. Take them to all 41 home games and throw in a few road games for good measure. Let them see Ovechkin dancing down the ice from just a few rows back; let them gasp in awe as Olie's glove hand robs the other team; let them feel the energy of overtime hockey and celebrate when the home team scores.
Then take them home, plop them down on a couch, hand them a remote and flip on a playoff game.
It can't miss.
Now if only we could find someone to bankroll this little endeavor, we'd be all set.
So I have to ask the question that I'm sure is on anyone's mind who has watched the Ottawa-Buffalo series to this point - who are these strange men in blue and yellow, and what have they done with the Sabres?
Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the 'Slugs fall from grace, really I am. But is this really the team we expected to see? Not just in this series, but in the entire postseason I've yet to see them really break out with the talent and skill we all know they possess. They've looked simply normal, average, somewhat dazed at even being in the postseason, and horribly outmatched by a Senators team that is playing amazing hockey.
And this Sabres club is not an average team - it's a well-oiled machine, a dominating presence, a deep, offensively talented, defensively responsible team.
Or it was.
I guess it begs the question, is it just the eternal choking dog syndrome that has plagued Buffalo, preventing them from reaching the holy grail of hockey? We here in DC certainly know a thing about playoff collapses, so it's not out of the realm of possibility.
Or is it maybe the fact that Ottawa has been so dominant as to completely throw the Sabres off their game? Are the Sens simply shutting down the Sabres like no team has managed to do consistently to this point?
Could be a little of both. Whatever the reason, the Sens squeak by with a 1-0 victory tonight (which could have been much more lopsided save for the freakishly good performance by Ryan Miller, your hippie dippie goaltender). They take a 3-0 lead in the series, with another game on home ice in two days. Every single player in the red and black is firing on all cylinders. Everyone is involved and everyone has to be involved. As I've mentioned before and as we've seen so many times in the past, the postseason is when depth is the most important.
Buffalo was supposed to have that depth too. This series was supposed to go seven games and who knows, it still might. It was supposed to be a hotly contested, tightly played, evenly matched round, one for the ages, and we've seen glimpses of it. But right now Buffalo is on the ropes and the Sens are flying high.
Game 4, Wednesday night...
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Well, it appears the crazy lunatic ranting hockey chick has gone into hibernation for a while, but that's okay. If you want real analysis of Ottawa's triumphant, history-busting OT win there are a myriad of places you can look, so I'm not to concerned that I'm leaving people high and dry. In fact, I'd like to take this time to discuss an issue that has been on my mind over these past few weeks, spurred on by endless hours spent watching hockey broadcasts on Versus.
Mr. Erin Esurance (yeah, I have no idea what his real name is)
Con: He's a little whipped to be honest, spending the majority of his time staring dumbstruck at a certain pink-haired lady, and he's never able to be the one saving the world - just the one who calls for help. Probably was (is?) a total mama's boy.
Verdict? I'll play the non-computer-generated card once more and say pass...but if they made him in human form? Yowza. Think Rick DiPietro with a better hairdo.
Pro: He's very, er, happy. Snappy dresser, nice smile, a hell of a golf swing, and apparently successful in every aspect of his life - on paper he's the perfect man. Who doesn't love a cheerful guy, right?
Con: You know the old wives' tale, "if you keep making that face it's going to freeze that way"? Bob apparently didn't heed the warning and now his face is oddly contorted, giving him a somewhat dim expression. He's got kind of a one-track mind, too.
Verdict? Setting aside the obvious benefits of a guy like Bob, he's hopelessly devoted to his '50s wife and seems in no rush to move on. And that haircut has to go. I'll say no for now but I'll make a barber's appointment for him and keep an ear to the ground for divorce rumblings...
Pro: Deceptively smart and civilized, with a love of mango salsa and racquet sports that belie their under-evolved exterior. The rock and roll hair is a nice touch as well, and you just know those arm muscles have to be well-defined from wielding a club all these years.
Con: Bitter and angry guys with emotional baggage and inferiority complexes are trouble...not to mention the fact that these guys are in serious need of an eyebrow waxing.
Pro: A healthy guy is always sexy, and Jared has that down-to-earth appeal of a guy next door that seems safe and unintimidating. He can sucker you in with those good guy vibes and get you free sandwiches to boot. What could be better?
Verdict? Jared, we're all proud of you for losing 700 pounds...but not that proud. Sorry.
Con: Beef jerky breath could ruin the mood, as could his lack of a sense of humor. I'm not sure he can string a full sentence together, either, so who knows what the potential for sparkling conversation would be; I'm thinking lots of grunts and monosyllabic words (although I'm not sure how different that would be from some guys I've known...)
Verdict? A little shave, a little breath mint, we could really have something. Plus did I mention what they say about guys with big feet?
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Whew. Long time gone, eh? Sorry about that - aside from the constant annoyance of life getting in the way, I've somehow, somewhere down the road, temporarily lost my will to rant. Maybe seeing the twin geriatrics in Detroit take down yet another team that I like just pushed me over the edge, I don't know.
The urge to babble on about everything and nothing at all will return, though, of that I am certain - until then, I'm sure everyone is just itching to know who won Round Two of the First Annual Blogger Playoff Pool, right?
Sunday, May 06, 2007
The word coming out of the World Championships today is that Ovechkin was ejected and later handed a one-game suspension for what was being termed a hit from behind in the game against the Swiss team.
I saw the replay of the game and was initially surprised that the hit in question was given such a strong punishment. It was a relatively innocent play - Ovie steps out of the box just as the Swiss player skates by with the puck, head down. Ovechkin lays him out with a hard shoulder check that knocks the other player down and shakes him up a bit.
But I didn't see the malicious intent, the hitting from behind, anything noteworthy other than the fact that it was around the head.
As I think about it a bit more, though, it's a good call and consistent with the standard set to this point at the World Championships. Just a few days ago, Shea Weber was suspended for an elbow to the head of a German player, now this. The IIHF is setting a standard that the NHL would do well to mimick - cracking down on hits to the head, regardless of intent or whether the player's head is down, seems like a good idea to me.
And luckily for Ovie and the Russian team, his suspension falls on a relatively meaningless game against Sweden, as Russia has already qualified for the next round.
For continuing coverage on the World Championships, check the widget above...
- Splattered octopus on the ice = gross. Hasek skating over to look at a splattered octopus = absolutely disgusting. Slinky-backed freak of nature.
- If the annoying trumpet guy in Detroit doesn't learn how to play "Hava Nagila" correctly, I'm going to take his horn and shove it down his throat. (For those of you curious as to how it should sound, click here. And please resist the urge to yell "Charge!" at the end. I promise no one does that at weddings.)
- Ron Wilson needs to find the fire that has propelled his team through the standings and into the postseason, because it certainly wasn't there today. They looked sloppy in the two periods that I saw, and while Detroit may not be as scary as they once were, they're still a damn good hockey team. Sloppy just isn't going to cut it. Neither is consistently giving up a lead. Or bad puck movement by the goaltender. Let's face it, 99% of what they did today needs to be reversed upon returning to the Shark Tank or they'll be golfing with the Devils faster than they can say "Jaws".
- Are there different rules in Motown about standing up during play? Every time the camera pans back to reveal the crowd, people are moving in and out of the rows freely as though nothing was going on. It's pretty funny to watch the camera guys try frantically to find an angle that doesn't include people's heads, though. Lots of extreme close-ups at the Joe.
- Ray Emery got into a fender-bender on his way to the airport and for some reason its making headline news. Must be a slow news day.
- Say what you want about guys like Emery, Alfredsson, Heatley, and their importance to this Ottawa team, but in my mind the unsung hero of the Sens' run to this point would have to be Chris Neil. I love to hate him and he does have a penchant for those questionable, borderline hits, but the guy is a momentum shifter and can be a heck of a hockey player when he wants to be. He is the quintessential checking line forward and worth his weight in gold so far this postseason. Plus I like watching him grin with that huge gap in his teeth, it makes me giggle.
- John Vanbiesbrouck gets my unanimous vote for tonight's Mr. Pessimistic Award. From about the 10 minute mark of the third period on, he was railing on the Devils - picking on Lamoriello, their defense, Brodeur, and the team in general. It's strange, too, because they were only down by 2 goals - not an overwhelming gap by any means, especially in the postseason. I'm no Jersey fan, but even I was getting annoyed with Beezer (although I always get annoyed by Beezer).
- Tonight's NJ-Ott game really brought to light the fatal flaw in the Devils time-tested game plan. It's all well and good to focus on defense, rely on your future Hall of Fame goaltender, and muck up the neutral zone. But what happens when your vaunted defense gets sloppy and slow? What happens when a potent offense breaks through the sludge at center ice? What happens when your goalie not only can't make the big saves but also lets in some softies? We saw what happens...you get knocked out in 5 games. Live and learn.
- I didn't get to watch this one at all, but it looks like the Bears shut out the Baby Pens 2-0 in Wilkes-Barre to take a stranglehold 3-0 series lead. Get out those brooms, I wanna see a sweep! Ready? All together now...B-E-A-R-S Bears Bears Bears WOOOOOO!!!
- And finally, the most important question of the night: what the HELL happened to Peter Schaefer's hair??
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Friday, May 04, 2007
They say with age comes wisdom.
Well, today I officially become one year older...and yet I feel no wiser.
Sure, I know not to eat yellow snow or look a gift horse in the mouth. I can spout tired clichés about a bird in the hand saving nine or a rolling stone healing all wounds. I can quote Shakespeare (although not accurately), I can build Ikea furniture (and clean up after it falls apart), I can even change a tire (no really, I can).
But is that wisdom?After all, I still believe in the magical healing powers of a chocolate chip cookie. I still believe that booing Jaromir Jagr will cause him to mess up/fall down/get hit. I still believe that setting my clock ahead 7 minutes will help me to wake up on time. I still believe that people who claim to like NASCAR are making it up (they have to be making it up...right??)
And I still believe that the Caps will be hoisting the Stanley Cup within the next decade.
Looks like that wisdom may take another 25 years.
(By the way, take a moment out of honoring my mere presence in the world and check out OFB's ongoing coverage of the IIHF World Championships below...the lucky dogs.)
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
This headline is eerily familiar: US Defense Exposed in Close Loss.
Where have you heard this before?
"But there are a lot of things we can build on. Our competitiveness in the third period. Our willingness to battle back was encouraging. It's a testament to the character of the players in our dressing room...[a]s young as this team is, we have a lot of leadership."What about this quote from captain Chris Clark?
"This could be a building block, a stepping stone to better things."Or even something similar to this?
Jaroslav Bednar scored the winning goal after the...defense failed to clear the puck out of its goal area.How about the fact that the oldest defenseman on the US team's roster is Brian Pothier, who just turned 30 years old. The oldest forward is Chris Clark, at the geriatric age of 31. The oldest player in general? John Grahame, nearing the old folks home at 32. In fact, only 6 players on the entire team were born in the 1970s, and no one earlier than 1975. That's a young team, folks. When your "veteran presence" was barely out of training pants during the bicentennial, that's a young team.
Anyone else see the striking resemblance to the Caps? Granted, their young'uns are still more seasoned then some of the sprouts patrolling the Capitals' blue line this past season, but still...creepy.