27 February 2007

More than just an annoying song.

Heart and soul.

Sure it's contrived, it's overused, it's maybe even a little over the top - I mean can one player really be the "heart and soul" of a team? - but there's no denying it, Ryan Smyth was something special to the Edmonton Oilers. Ryan Smyth was the kind of guy who kept you going even through this miserable season, who never let it get him down, who wanted nothing more than to see everyone around him love what they were doing as much as he did. Ryan Smyth went out there and playing hard hockey every night he could and loved every single minute of it.

And now he's an Islander.

I admit it, I came into my Oilers love late. Last season I still hated them - when they crushed Detroit's hopes of breaking that straight wins record I was furious with them, I cursed them, I couldn't stand them. When they took us out of the playoffs in the first round, when Ales Hemsky who stands as one of my two favorite NHL players of all time now, then still unknown to me, crushed Manny Legace's (who it should be noted for the record is the other favorite player - ironic much?) dreams of leading the Wings to a cup victory after all those years as backup, I cursed at them, I hated them, I wanted them to get murdered in the next round. And then something changed. It started with just wanting a Canadian team to win. Calgary lost. Ottawa (ew, I know, but I was desperate!) lost. And then the Oilers were poised to take on the Ducks and suddenly I realized that not only were they Canadian, but if they won the cup, Detroit would look a little better. Maybe, just maybe, they'd resign Manny, even. So Elly and I caught the last game of the series together in Toronto and cheered for the Oilers, and they won, and it was Oilers/Canes for the cup.

I didn't know any of the Oilers then. I heard a couple names, I knew a few faces, but really know them? No, I had no idea. But I watched game one, beer in hand, and I fell in love. From the second Chris Pronger (I know, I know) made that penalty shot. From the second I watched Dwayne Roloson in net and then not in net. They became my team. And I kept watching. I promised Fernando Pisani children for that playoff magic he worked. I cussed out Ty Conklin, I marveled at Jussi Markkanen, I yelled at Hemmer to shoot the puck (but that he looked pretty even when he wasn't). But most importantly, I noticed Ryan Smyth.

He wasn't the captain (nothing against Gator who I love with all my heart), but I didn't even realize that at first. He was always there, chatting with everyone, giving advice, wishing luck, just out there playing as if there wasn't a single other thing in the world he'd rather be doing.

I cried with everyone else at the end of the season over the miserable Pronger Trade. When the team started to fall apart, when everyone started leaving, Peca, Spacek, Samsonov, all those players I fell in love with, I worried, I panicked, but I didn't give up on the Oilers because they had players who were loyal, players who were determined. They had Ryan Smyth. When this season started out and they jumped out to a great start and defied everyone's expectations I couldn't have been happier, especially when my Red Wings were worrying us all. And when they started to slip, when they started to fall, when we realized it was downhill from here and our hopes that the Oil would pull this off somehow started to wane dangerously, we believed in Ryan Smyth.

And now he's gone. The one man that no one worried about, the one man who, despite all the rumors, everyone believed Kevin Lowe would somehow sign. They wouldn't let the heart and soul of the Oilers leave.

I can't pretend I understand the reasons behind it, whether it was money and cap space issues, whether (and I cling to this hope) Lowe decided to go all in as a seller and throw him out there as a playoff rental and he'll sign back with the Oil in the summer, whether it was something no one's going to guess or ever even know at all. But Smytty, our beloved Smytty, is an Islander, maybe for month, maybe for the long haul, maybe only until summer but then to be grabbed by someone else anyway.

But I can't even imagine it. I can't picture him in any other jersey, playing for any other team. When I went to the game last Friday, when I scrambled down to the boards to watch the Oilers practice, he wasn't the first thing I saw (for the record, it was Horc making a really amazing face). But it was when I looked up and saw Ryan Smyth's hair, his ridiculous wonderful hair, flowing along behind him and the smile on his face just because there he was with his friends and his teammates and doing the thing he loves more than anything else in the world, that's when I knew this was the Edmonton Oilers. He hasn't had twenty years to grow with a team, and he wasn't even the captain, but losing him hits as hard as losing Steve Yzerman did. Even more, in a way, because at least Stevie was fair, at least we knew Stevie was doing what he had to. But Ryan was that kind of player. Ryan was synonymous with the Oilers in the way you think Stevie when it comes to the Wings, Sundin when it comes to the Leafs.

Trade deadline day hurt like usual in little pangs all over, from Marty Biron to Ty Conklin to Todd Bertuzzi (WHY?) to little things like Jiri Novotny. But this one broke my heart. All I can hope for is that wherever Smytty goes, he's happy, and doing what he loves. And that maybe, just maybe, somehow he'll come back. Until then, we will miss you Ryan Smyth, please, if you don't come back, find someone who loves you, somewhere you can mean as much as you did to Edmonton, and to me, this summer. For now, this just looks so wrong.

Edit: I think this recap of the game tonight pretty much sums it up all too well. And what irony that it's Gretzky's team they were playing like this against too. That quote from Gator though just tears me up.

What the hell?

Gary Roberts has officially come to Pittsburgh, along with Laraque....and Dominic Moore has left for Minnesota. While I think the trades were fair (with the exception of Moore), I'm honestly not looking forward to seeing Roberts and Laraque take to the ice as Penguins. There's a bunch of forwards, and now the obvious question is: who gets bumped? The vibe between the teammates is a good one, they work well together (for the most part), and I'm wondering how the two new additions will fit in...and I'm thinking that while they'll be fine, they won't fit as well as the people who were there before. Of course, as long as they win, I suppose that doesn't matter. It'll be something to see how much oomphf they bring to the Pens...which really, I doubt will be much. Trade time is always strenuous, it must be difficult for the players to be moved about like that.

Although the Ryan Smyth trade is more surprising and rather distressing (what a completely and utterly awful trade...I can only hope that Lowe is renting him and then plans on signing him in the offseason), I am rather surprised to see Moore go. He was a good player, and while we do have a lot of forwards (more now, thanks Shero), he was not one I had pegged to pack his bags. We didn't even get anyone for him, just a pick. Moore, you will be missed, I hope the Wild treats you well.

Oh, and Biron to Philly? I've heard that he's happy to go, and that he's going to be starting there...but man oh man, that'd be just about the last place I'd want him to go. I like Martin Biron, I don't want him in Philadelphia. To be basically replaced by Ty Conklin must also be a kick in the nuts (seeing him in a Sabres uniform is weird).

NHL.com has decided that any media on that site no longer works with my computer. I have only to refresh my screen to see the scores, but it isn't the same. Anyone else having this problem?

On an ending note: Langenbrunner, no matter how much I like you, I might have to kick you in the ass. GET A GOAL, GUYS.

Go Pens!

EDIT: Sonofabitch. I really don't like the Devils.

Can you believe his luck?

Ty Conklin, having been kicked out of Edmonton after a crushing game one last year, to Columbus where we all laughed at his luck and then might have just bust a gut when he got knocked down to the Syracuse Crunch and honestly died over his lackluster record with them even, is, as of this morning, a cup contending Buffalo Sabre (while Marty Biron heads over to the Flyers).

Someone explain the world to me, it all just stopped making sense.


  • Detroit Red Wings pick up Todd Bertuzzi for a draft pick and a prospect so far undisclosed - uhhhm....
  • Toronto Maple Leafs pick up Yanic Perrault for Brendan Bell and a 2nd round pick - I'm a little more okay with that.

More dickering than a used car salesman

As with everyone, I've been reading the trade deadline rumors, and so far the Penguins have been rather quiet on the trade front.

At least, until now, with the recent speculation about Georges Laraque, and more recently, Gary Roberts. He has said before that the only thing that will make him waive his no-trade clause is a deal by Ottawa or Toronto so that he can be closer to his daughter who lives up in the big T. It seems, however, that of this morning he has been rumored to have waived said clause and it in the process of finalizing a deal with the Pens to move to Pennslyvania. What made him change his mind? It certainly couldn't have been the bait, a one Noah Welch, who hasn't been doing much of anything with the Pens as of late...but then again, Toronto is only a measely 5 hour drive from Pittsburgh, and apparently Ottawa and Toronto haven't given any nibbles on the hook for him. Who knows, but it sounds like the Pens are leaning that way at the moment. Right now he's got 13 goals and 16 assists, but he was also out with a hip problem earlier...he's also on the far side of playing and might be looking at retirement soon. However, these problems aren't really a huge deal (except for the hip), as it sounds like he would be a rent-a-player for the playoff run and I'm sure that Therrien has no problems duct-taping him up and shoving him back out on the ice. You've got the whole summer to heal, right? The Pens could do worse, but really, the issue is where would you put him? It doesn't sound to me like he's 1st line material, so who gets booted out of the 2nd set up? 3rd line, perhaps? Guess we'll find out.

I won't go on about who's been traded where too much, because you can just go and find it plastered all over the internet on espn.com and nhl.com (oh, and TSN has said that they are going to be showing a little marathon tomorrow for the end of the trade deadline with commentary and apparently cheerleaders), but there are a few things I've heard that surprised me:

-No deal yet for Ryan Smyth. I can't imagine that they would trade him after all this, but I suppose that if a deal can't be worked out, they'd send him out the door. People are speculating that Sykora and possibly Lupul and Torres are headed out as well. I've even heard that Jussi, who is a UFA at the end of this season, might also be dealt. This makes me very sad, not only because I love the man, but because I think he and Roli make a great goalie team, and he's a solid backup for Roli (most of the time). It's sad that the Oilers are about 10 points out of the playoffs right now (behind Minnesota and Calgary), but unless they start one hell of a drive, they aren't going to make it. Well, maybe they have a chance, let's see what games they have coming up...oh look, Minnesota...Calgary...Tampa (bastards)....Anaheim...well, maybe next year?

-Rumors have started to float around that the Rangers are considering dealing Jagr. True, he's slowed a bit this year, and the Rangers have taken a nose-dive (12th in the East, and tied with Boston, surprisingly, with 64 points), but with his record and effort I would have expected him to be a Ranger for the rest of his career.

In other news around the NHL, Tampa Bay, after handing the Pens their asses on Sunday, are in 3rd with Ottawa and the Pens trailing after in 4th and 5th. The boys have a nasty schedule coming up, packed with a lot of divisional games (Flyers, Rangers, Devils), and 4 back to back games. I hope they're eating their Wheaties, because this month is going to suck. Hopefully they get back on the horse after Sunday (wtf, why does Tampa just not work for the Pens? They haven't won there in 4 years), and beat the crap out of the Devils tonight.

Against the Rangers this season the Pens are even at 2 wins and 2 losses, and the Devils we're behind with 2 wins and 3 losses. Ottawa we've lost the one game we've played, and Boston has shown the Pens some Beantown magic by beating us both times this season. We're playing Boston twice in the last week of March, neatly sandwhiching a Washington game. There are a few Montreal, Toronto and Atlanta games thrown in there, but the ones against the Devils, Rangers, Sens and Bruins will be telling (not that they're not all important at this stage, but...). Really, the Pens are looking at a hard month, and not only from the packed schedule. Yes, I like to state the obvious. If things keep going like this, and I'm sure that the Penguins' hold on a playoff spot will become more tenuous (only 5 points out), the last game on April 7th against the Rangers might be a deciding game. Good thing I got tickets.

No word on an arena yet, at least, that I can find, but I did hear that they were taking deposits on tickets for next season...at the Mellon. I don't even want to speculate.

Some other Pens news:

-Nice little comparison article that tells us that Sidney is a good hockey player. No kidding. The attempt at a scientific approach was nice to read, though.

-Fleury to start tonight. Also, I never noticed this before, but there are random segements on nhl.com that have little gems like Fleury getting locked in his basement. Really.

On the subject of Marc-Andre, this article brings up a good point: what if Therrien's bashing of Flower damages his mental stability between the pipes? He's got the skills, but he's been notoriously soft after psyching himself out if he lets in a bad goal or three. On one hand, it's a good thing that he goes, 'oh shit, I should have had that. Damn damn damn...' (probably all in French), because that means that he's noticing what he should have done, and hopefully trying to rectify whatever issue that led to the goal...and then let is roll of you and get back in the game. Sometimes, however, garbage gets in no matter what you do, and if the defence isn't there to help and clear away rebounds/get guys out of scoring position, then there are only so many miraculous saves that can be made before one slips past those toxic yellow pads (the last Boston comes to mind, although more dramatically on Sunday in Tampa Bay). I'm not a goalie, but hearing your coach rag on you publicly, mulitple times, has gotta do something to your mind set. Hopefully something good, in this case.

Penguins and Devils tonight at 7:30 at the Igloo. Go Pens.

26 February 2007


Hey guys, VERSUS, who are right now as I type this butchering what should be standard commentating on the Atlanta/Boston game, just wanted us all to know (this was brought about by a discussion of Scott Mellanby's contributions to his team which of course devolved into mentioning that he's doing good "for his age") that Dominik Hasek is 42.

I wasn't sure everyone out there had gotten that message yet, as it only gets mentioned three or four times every Wings game regardless of which channel is broadcasting it, so I just thought I'd pass that along for all of you (and don't forget, Cheli's old too!).

Honestly, this even needs to get talked about at games that are just about as far from hockey as you can get from Detroit now? Is it really the sort of thing worth being so focused on? I understand the mention of age in regard to it being impressive to see the level of hockey still being played by some of these guys - and sure, Dom and Cheli are great examples of this, and it is impressive to see that they've been able to condition themselves to still be able to play strong at an NHL level for so long. But does it need to be brought up every game? Do we need to be looking at them in terms of how good they are for being as old as they are? It seems like we've stopped being impressed and have just started toting those numbers around as oddities, as if we're just waiting with bated breath to see them finally fall, as a "can you believe it?" Guess what - we can! We do! We get it! Now stop.

(Also, I am pretty sure "plomped" is not actually a word at all, let alone a verb a goalie is capable of. Oh, VERSUS.)

Oh yeah, and GO LEAFS GO!

Update: Wings trade left wing Jason Williams to Chicago for right wing Kyle Calder, who had just been acquired from Philidelphia for Lasse Kukkonen and a 3rd round pick. Huh...we were just joking about what Williams ever did aside from score goals in shootouts at the game on Friday, but that's not what I would have expected.

24 February 2007

The Oil is still slick (and Ty Conklin...well...he tries?)

I've been slacking lately with all the hockey that's been going on in my life, so I'm willing to bet this post will escalate into something ridiculous, length-wise. Most importantly I was at the Red Wings/Oilers game last night, which probably turned out to be the best NHL game I've seen all season. I wasn't taking notes, but I do have observations - though most of the are admittedly Oil based since (ashamedly) I was paying more attention to them, but hell I can see the Red Wings anytime!

  • Seeing that Yzerman banner up there with the little C on it for the first time...I think I teared up again. Not to take any credit away from Nik because he's doing wonderfully and I couldn't have asked for a better replacement, but I'll never stop missing Stevie Y.
  • I'd seen earlier in the day that Pisani and Tjarnqvist were likely to play that night, but when I went down to take pictures during the warmup and saw them both my heart just rose a little bit - the Oilers needed that.
  • Smid is SO TALL. I've known this, but seeing it in person was still ridiculous - for some reason as babyfaced as he looks I just picture him to be like...well at the very least no more than Ales height, and then he's got another four inches. Also he was really feisty last night in a good way, picking little scrums all over the place and sticking up for his teammates - though I think my favorite was him bitching at Cleary (the word fuck was involved) and then immediately quipping "...sorry" and kind of glowering and nodding his head adamantly at the guy.
  • Ryan Smyth is SO LOUD on the ice. I was up 15th row off the faceoff circles and I could hear him yell "HORC! HORC OVER HERE!" like he was standing next to me.
  • The Oil started off worrisome - after two quick goals from the Red Wings I was starting to panic a little - even though honestly if my home team won I wouldn't be that upset - and wondering if I'd be getting to see Jussi play tonight. But then they pulled it back together and stopped taking inane penalties (what on earth was that mess in the first period? Though Raffi did take two unnecessary penalties later on to cut off Oil powerplays, as per usual.) played defense. I know, I know, the Oilers played defense! And strong defense too - these looked like two evenly matched teams out there.
  • I really think announcers should be forced to learn IPA and all player names be given to them thusly. Ryan Smyth with a long i sound on the y, Valtteri FilPPULA after he explicitly asked them to place the stress on the other syllable, Toby Petter-son, and most importantly Alexis (ALEXIS!?) Hemsky didn't need to happen, especially with the frequency they did.
  • Hemsky is just beautiful to watch on ice. I couldn't actually believe it when he fell over on that quasi-breakaway at the end, because he'd just been that fluid and gorgeous with the puck the whole rest of the night. (I will refrain from making the "needs to shoot more" comment because I know by now that he will not.)
  • It could be argued that Dom cost the Wings this game in a way - that take out at the knees poke check move of his is impressive when it works, but lately...well, it hasn't. And Marty Reasoner got a garbage goal for his attempts this time. And then he tried to do a similar ridiculous thing in the OT which had us all out of our seats SCREAMING at him (the guys behind me had a brilliant hilarious conversation that included the line, "GET BACK IN THE NET YOU FUCKING RUSSIAN!" Geniuses).
  • Roli baseball-batting the puck at the end of regulation - I love him so much. I wish I'd gotten to see him do it in play, but I wonder, considering he cites Dom as where he learned this from, if he did it on purpose because of that.
  • I was almost surprised to see Hemsky get a shot in the shootout but it was amazing to watch all the same, even though Dom stopped it. Smytty, of course, pulled off the only goal the whole time. What surprised me, though, was the way the Wings played the shootout at all - Zetterberg flubbed his shot, but then Pavel came out and tried to pull off the EXACT same move (which Roloson played beautifully), an admirable attempt if he was thinking that maybe Roli wouldn't expect the same thing twice - but then Williams did the same thing too? That one I'm not quite sure I could buy.
Overall a great game, a win the Oilers needed and a point to put the Red Wings up still on top of the Predators. (Speaking of whom, it's nice to note, which I only have because it was mentioned at On the Wings, who will also probably have a more Wings-centric, less Oil-biased recap of this game sometime today, that Peter Forsberg wasn't on the ice for any of the Preds five goals in their last game, and is, in three games with Nashville, without a point and -1. It makes me happy inside - let's hope we can hold up playing them tonight.)


In other news of my hockey ventures, on Wednesday I dragged a friend of mine up to Grand Rapids to catch a Griffins game against the Syracuse Crunch....namely because the infamous Ty Conklin would be in net for them and I was not about to pass up that chance (and with perfect timing, too, as he got called up to the Blue Jackets the next day). I confess, I have this latent pity-filled love for him ever since...well actually I'm not sure when the hatred turned into love. And as Griffins tickets are about $10 and you can generally move up all the way to the glass (we did, right up against the Crunch bench) why not?

I haven't been to an AHL game since I was younger and used to catch Marlies games sometimes, but this one was an excellent game to be at. It fell in somewhere between NHL action and the CCHA Broncos games I'm used to (speaking of which we are kicking ass; five straight wins to head off into the playoffs), and the fans around us really got into it. Ty played an admittedly good game (I PANICKED whenever he went around behind the net - that, I don't think, will ever stop) even though it ended in (barely) a shootout loss, and only one of the goals he let in was sort of awful - and everyone looked like they were having so much fun. Popperle looked good in warmup and Konopka laid on a few nice hits. The Griffins were sharp as well; Matt Ellis is going to be quite the player and Syvret was playing good as well.

This felt almost painfully symbolic.

It was nice seeing the farm team play - a little like looking into the future. I'm hoping to get up there and catch a few more games this season now.

The important ending to this story is that yours truly, after wandering around the stadium about five times in hopes that we would miraculously find the players leaving the building, stumbled on Ty and a Crunch friend heading out the front gates - and actually, after a minute of staring senselessly at my luck, nabbed him to chat for a few minutes and take a picture. Friendly guy, ridiculously cute in street clothes, and more than willing to help out a girl who made him a ridiculous sign (Elly said she wouldn't be happy unless "You can Ty me.....to your BED" happened - so it did.)

Not that I've forgiven him or anything. But seriously. It was pretty hilarious.


Lastly, as the trade deadline looms ever closer players are getting thrown around really weirdly (Anson Carter for the Canes' fifth round pick?) but a few signings have brightened my day that I never thought would - the Bruins keeping Sturm being one of them, but namely the St. Louis Blues picking Manny up for two more seasons! If you would have told me that at the beginning of the year I would have cried a little....but after seeing what he's done for that team and how he's getting a chance to prove himself (and doing it!) I'm ecstatic to see he'll retain the starting position he deserves and get the chance to turn this team around. Also, here's a really touching article about him.

And that's it for me, finally - GO WINGS!

Why can't we just cuddle?

Prepare for a rant.

I've learned a lot these past few years.

I learned that there is a whole hockey community on the internet, that I can talk with other Penguins fans (and after growing up in the deserted island that is Vermont with nothing but Bruins news and anything to do with John LeClair (who, although I liked for being a Vermonter in the NHL, I hated for the Legion of Doom), being able to learn all of the things I missed in my younger years was incredible), that there are OTHER hockey fans, that are women and not painfully stupid, veterinary school is terribly hard to get into, Pittsburgh is a really cute city, driving to a Pens game takes 13, not 10 hours (mapquest, you are a lying bitch), having two cats and a dog are enough to drive anyone insane, and that beer and Wild Turkey and pepsi do not mix.

Recently, I have added a few more things to that list. Through a series of conversations and some careful internet research, I have discovered that the NHL and the men who play/run it are not as innocent and upstanding as I had once thought. Wayne Gretzky was involved in a gambling scandal, players have been accused of drug usage, drunk driving, and multiple sexual scandals. I've heard this all before, but I treated it as I might as news of someone hitting a deer: it happens, it's almost common, but not something that would ever effect me or the ones I loved.

Well, I've run over the deer, its trashed my car and my insurance isn't covering it. I know the exact moment it happened, I was reading a blog, just a quick post about someone, a Penguin, doing something he shouldn't have...and the deer stepped out into my headlights and it was all over.

Professional sports is riddled with things like this. Scandals (especially drug/sex related) are ever-present, especially since most men are horny bastards, with constant physical exercise only exacerbating the situation. But for hockey players, I never once thought that they fell into that group. It's the same old story, I've had many relationships, football, nascar, soccer...but with hockey, my childhood sweetheart, I thought it wasn't like that, that hockey wasn't like all the other sports...that it was different. Turns out it's just like the rest of them, and I can't help but be disillusioned and disappointed.

I've loved the game of hockey since I was little, and the Penguins since I was in grade school, but my knowledge was slim growing up, and my thoughts of them tainted by childhood rose-colored glasses of big, tough guys protecting shining heroes, like Jagr and Lemieux. How could these men do anything wrong when they are so noble, so brave and strong, fighting for that shining Cup, that grail of hockey righteousness? The first crack was when Jagr left (Mario retiring just broke my heart. I knew that he didn't want to go, but that he had to), and I bitterly hated him for a few years. As time went on, I matured and my sources expanded. I found out that Mario took a day to go golfing when he was supposed to be on IR for his back (although I don't blame him, really, golfing is a far cry from being checked into the boards), another Penguin knocked up a girl and paid her to be quiet, Ulfie wasn't just a 'tough guy', and how could they go bankrupt when there were so many people who loved them? I was willing to forget it all, however, in the fact that they were my team, and any news of them, good or bad, was at least news. Besides, this was just a few things, surely not all of the NHL slept around and did bad things under the cover of night...or in gas station bathrooms...right?

I suppose one word to describe my take on pro hockey players is 'naive', but why is it a bad thing to want to believe the best of people that you grew up idolizing? I knew the NFL was like this, just go to espn.com and you'll see stories of an illicit affair that a player had, a DUI arrest, and I saw on Sportscenter about a player who was pissed at his girlfriend and killed her dog. I never heard anything like this about hockey players, and although I knew that they weren't squeaky clean, I never expected to find the horrible wealth of information out there about their transgressions. People are people, and they make mistakes, but I'm going to focus on one particular, and seemingly most popular, choice of immoral activities: the sexual use of women in the NHL.

First of all, I'll state that I have nothing against puckbunnies and their ilk. They irritate me, and they give real female fans a bad name, but it's their choice of lifestyles and that is up to them. Yes, I do find hockey players attractive (there is seriously just something about goalies), but will I throw myself, panting and fawning, at the feet of the first man I see in pads and skates? Absolutely not. Attractive men add to the game, but they are not THE game. Do I think Sidney is cute? You're damn right I do, and I will admit to having a crush on the kid, but it is just that, a crush. I have a crush on pretty much the entire Penguins team, just like I have one on Lemieux (I don't care that he's twice my age), and Jagr, and Francis...because their looks, their nice shoulders, are secondary to their on ice skills and personalities. Would I still love Sidney just as much if he was a horseface? You betcha, just as long as he could pull off those incredible goals, sick passing skills, move his feet like he was on air, and be sweet and charming for the cameras and in the community.

It's the team, the men trying their hardest and sweating, bleeding, and crying for their wins and losses that make me, and other female fans, fall in love with them. It's the passion for the game that makes women fans devote themselves to a player, a team, instead of the puckbunnies, who are too busy imagining what a particular forward would look like naked to yell about a blown call or notice icing. Examples? Going from the Pens, T-bo is doing okay, but I still don't know if I'm going to hop on his bandwagon. He is, however, rather handsome. Army, on the other hand, I love dearly (that game winner the other night was a beaut), and while he has something cute about him, he isn't someone that you'd pick out on the street. More examples? While I certainly don't mind watching Malone (and hello, check out those tattoos!), he is sometimes painful to actually watch on the ice (he is on the better side of a +2 right now though....hopefully he can keep that climbing. Another hat trick?). I have nothing on Sidney, though, he's an incredible player and cute as hell - the man has it all.

I digress, but the point is that even really unattractive players will get tons of women throwing themselves at them....and I suppose that I had never considered that almost all of them aren't able to resist and keep it zipped. Hockey players are mulleted, toothless yokels with concussions that love throwing a shoulder and tussling with other men...when did this change to mulleted, toothless yokels with concussions that like to throw a shoulder and are attractive? There were always a few, Lemieux, Gretzky, but it seems like nowadays that the entire NHL is populated by them. Look up the Canucks' roster, the Pens, the Blue Jackets Magic Wands...with a few exceptions, they're all handsome. Is this what is attracting female fans to the game now, a cute guy with a tight butt and great shoulders? What about the checking, puck handling, fantastic acrobatics by goalies (not to mention goalie fights!), and some good trash talking? Girls go to games dressed up, make-up and hair done perfectly, in an effort to catch a player's eye. Is it a vicious cycle, the players encourage it so the girls do it, or do the girls do it so the players take advantage of it? Both?

People cheat. I sometimes don't understand exactly why, but it happens, and it happens fairly regularly. It isn't just professional athletes, but everyone. Out of five of my friends, I know three that have, at least once. For players, I suppose it's rather easy, a girl in every city to keep them company. But, as with drugs, I'm just boggling that no one seems to worry about, disease, STDs, or the effect that this will have on their game. Playing hockey is their job, and sleeping with Betty-sue one night, and her friend the next, exposes them to all sorts of risks. I'm sure that they aren't all 100% careful, or ask for an STD test before continuing into a physical relationship (Magic Johnson, anyone?), and one little misstep can end their career, not to mention their lives. Even the diseases that aren't fatal are still harmful, and can be spread even with the use of a condom....maybe even to other teammates, if there is a bit of passing around. How would a player explain that his nighttime adventures just gave half the roster HIV?

Another aspect of this that I thought was interesting was not the players themselves, but their wives and families. How much of a lack of respect does it show to them that the men can go out and sleep around and the come back to open arms? Even if the wife knows, it's disrespectful to them, and to the women that they use like old tube socks. Do they care that they can potentially give something life-threatening to their wives? Most STDs take 6 months to present, and a lot of slumber parties can happen in that time. To be fair, I know people who have open relationships, and it works for them...but they aren't famous NHL stars that travel across the country, and really, if their wives/girlfriends are okay with it, then good for them...but the risk of infection is a lot greater in an unknown environment. I've even heard that some wives/girlfriends of the players go so far as to not only condone this, but actively participate in the sexual merry-go-round in the teams (ride a penis, sit in a little boob-shaped cart?). Whatever happened to having a little self control and just having lots of sex with your partner?

I'm sure that there are more things going on than I know, naughty pictures, orgies, who knows, but I still just can't believe that it happens in the NHL as often as it seems to. My brain is having a difficult time grasping the fact that my team, my hard-luck Penguins, do this too (although Sidney, as far as I can find out with my meager gossip skills, has no dirt on him...meaning he's either a real good boy, or he's a really good boy), just like the rest of the league. Do I find players attractive? Hell yes, I'm not blind after all, but I can't imagine actually living in this supposed lifestyle of hedonism and not going crazy. Am I wrong? Have I taken this new-found information and gone way out in left field with it? I can rationalize quite a bit, I can even excuse a long-standing mistress, but blatant girlfriend swapping and random sex? Seriously, when do they have TIME for this? Between practice, games, traveling...hell, I don't have to sleep some nights, but then again, I'm just a peon, a lowly student and waitress.

Through bad management, terrible coaching, retirements of the best, angry partings, dismal scores, even worse season records, and completely awful playing, I've been a Penguins fan....a hockey fan....and it makes me sad to think that all of this hasn't upset me as much as finding out that the players aren't as lily-white as I thought they were. I will always enjoy the game of hockey, it's the best sport you can find, but I feel slightly jaded about the NHL now. I enjoy the game, and I enjoy following the players and their interactions with people and other players, but now I can't help but wonder what else they're 'interacting' with. I'll get over it eventually, since it really doesn't effect me personally, but I don't think I'll ever watch hockey with such pristine eyes again. The glasses are off now, and maybe the gloves too, but I think I've lost this fight and will just go to sin bin along with the NHL. 5 minute major for naivety.

19 February 2007

The joys of Comcast and slacking in class

Due to some (seriously ridiculous) issues regarding my television set, I missed the first period of the Wings running over the Coyotes Saturday night - I rectified this almost immediately and there was beer and stale cupcakes for all involved, but I didn't get to blog about it like I intended. (I did, however, go to a party wearing my Legace jersey and get called "Manny" by two drunk boys all night long.) Really, though, there wasn't much to say - nice to see Hasek back and not whining about his sore wrist anymore, and we played fairly decently.

Once again all our goals pretty much come off of that first line though - that's going to start being a problem, and I'd venture a guess to say quickly. The other lines, despite how we lauded ourselves for being a four line team earlier in the season, for having all this depth that was what kept us floating when everyone thought we'd fall back this year, have sort of...stopped. I've forgotten what it looks like to see someone other than Hank, Pavel, or Holmstrom nail a big one. Maybe Babcock needs to try mixing it up a little - give the Young Guns some more time, they certainly seem to produce when they're allowed to. As amazing as the Eurotwins are, if we do nothing but rely on them heading into the playoffs we're headed for the same choking as always...


I'm encroaching on Elly's territory here, but I've been watching a lot of the Pens lately. I caught NBC's Saturday game, though I didn't take notes, and this afternoon (in the middle of my Studies in the Novel class, I might add) comcast live was showing the Pens/Islanders game and despite the fact that I was oh so thoroughly interested in a riveting discussion on the land of the Houyhnhnms, I thought I might maybe give the game a chance. I only saw a bit of the first and the later two periods, and it was awfully hard to tell what was going on with no sound, but in the way of observations I ended up with:

Both teams were looking feisty - and rightly so, the Islanders needed this to maintain pace with Toronto, who they're now tied with, though they have a game in hand. It was a very physical game going on, in a sort of scrappy sense. Lots of storming the net and people falling over - and fighting on top of DiPietro - and what was that little jab of his on Talbot?

Ohhh. Marc-Andre Bergeron. How weird it looks to see you in an Islanders jersey... The Oilers only tossed him out yesterday in exchange for Denis Grebeshkov, who they won't even actually acquire until he's through playing this season with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, in what looked like a sort of odd move on Lowe's part. Speculation continues - has he given up on the season? Are the Oilers officially sellers? Was it to free up cap space to resign Ryan Smyth? Either way he looked good this afternoon with two assists to either spite the Oil, or just prove to the Islanders that sometimes he can do something right. Either way he's looked better in 60 minutes as an Islander than as his last several games as an Oiler.

Islanders exploded out in the second - something made them realize this was a game they wanted to win. Somewhere in here I laughed at the Islanders girls.

That first Isles goal at the beginning of the third right over Fleury's shoulder was weak and he probably should have had that (from what I saw anyway) - and I missed Malone's hat trick thanks so much lecture on Crime and Punishment.

MAB actually just had some really nice puck handling in the third. And when he finally fell over he even got the thing to another ISLANDER, I'm so proud!

The Pens have been making a habit of these back and forth games lately. Okay maybe really I'm only thinking of two, but still. They usually manage to pull out on top of them somehow, though not tonight. That last goal was another Fleury maybe should have had, but the way they came at him you can't necessarily blame him, either. The whole bench was just looking at the ice like "There's no way that just happened."

And Bergeron experiences another thing he hasn't been doing with the Oilers. Sigh.



Lastly, this has been cracking me up all day. Take note (and definitely enlarge that image or you won't get the full impression) of Ovechkin's sticks. And if that isn't enough to make you laugh (and give the kid some endearment points), there's an article that gives a bit more insight as Alex explains his little drawings. Maybe those "hockey players are just like us" commercials have the right idea?

16 February 2007

A different type of post

I understand that this blog has much of what other blogs do: posts about hockey, rants about statistics, player trades, interactions between the teams, and a whole lotta love towards the teams we support...and that's fine. There is, after all, only so many ways one can talk about a subject, especially as a fan of a sport.

Normally, if I have time (parasitology, you are killing me right now. NO MORE CHARTS, just take your worms and leave me alone), I like to do a little recap/pregame rant about the match up, the players, and points of interest because no one around here wants to hear me talk about them. Tonight, since I have to run to the bar to watch this and then drive 2 hours after, I am going to do something a little different: I'm going to type what I would like to see happen tonight for the Penguins. These are in no particular order.

-I'd like to continue to forget that our defense is on the ice.
-Sidney, you need a goal. I'm sure that he knows this, but I'd still like to see one happen.
-It would be nice to see more of a leader-role from Malkin. He's got some serious skills, quick feet, and an amazing way of just being where he needs to be...sneaky like a ninja...and he needs to express it more.
-Continued action from Talbot/Thorburn/Oulette/Armstrong. They've been pulling some major support for the headliners and proving that it's a team effort...and I'd like to see more of it. The 4th and 3rd lines are showing some real pep out there, and you can't argue with results.
-A clean win. No overtime.
-A radiograph of Fleury's spine, showing that indeed, it is a slinky. Also a bit better control on the rebounds.
-I'd say a goalie fight, but as much as I love Fleury, I wouldn't want to meet Brodeur in a dark alley. Marc-Andre scoring a goal, now that would be nice.
-The Devils crying at the end of 60 minutes.
-Keep improving the PK.

Go Pens!

14 February 2007

Even the cheap seats are good

I dragged a friend to Boston last night for the Bruins' game against the Oilers. It was a nice little ceremony in the beginning to honor Bucyk, with some of the greats there, like Cam Neely. I was disappointed that Orr didn't make it, though. Good game, but a little on the tame side.

Some points:

-The Oilers forgot to play for about half the 60 minutes, and the first goal was a terrible accidental-kick from Steve Staios. I would not want to be the Oilers after that.

-Sturm netted 2, Bergeron (the Boston one) got an assist.

-Watching the Oilers in person, I could really see some of the holes in their defense. I know people always talk about it, but they had some downright horrid turnovers and their passing was not up to par. They play better than this, I'm just going to count this as jet-lag.

-Hemsky was a joy to watch skate in person. That kid has some moves.

-Sitting behind the Oilers bench on the balcony, all I had to do was lean forward to get a clear view of the bench...I spent the last 10 minutes watching Jussi Markkanen watch the game and talk to his teammates. That man is adorable...what is it about goalies?

-Chara is unmistakable anywhere on the ice.

Overall, a good game. It was nice to see the Oilers in person, especially since they don't get over this way very often. We were up in the less-expensive seats, but at center ice and had a great view of the game (except for when people kept getting up during the game, leaving half way through, or getting beer). The Pens are playing down at the Garden on the 29th of March, and it'd be great to go...can never have enough Penguins games!

Next game is against the Devils on Friday. Haven't seen them in a while, and I certainly wouldn't be sorry to take two points away from them to add to the Pens total. Go Pens!

EDIT: Pens win tonight, which brings them even with Ottawa and two points behind Atlanta. Am I dreaming?

13 February 2007

I'll pretend it didn't happen if you will.

Yeah, yeah, I watched it. On the Wings did a really nice recap that mine would probably not measure up to since I was also trying desperately to finish homework and cook dinner, but the couple points I have are:

  • If you really want to know what my recap would have looked like, scroll back two or three entries, and read every instance of "Flames" as "Wings".
  • Philly absolutely dominated us size-wise. This doesn't usually seem to be such a problem for us, but it was definitely damaging last night.
  • Joey MacDonald continues to look good (despite always seeming to suffer little breakdowns in the third) but why is it that in front of a goalie like Hasek we play crazy defensive hockey to the point that the announcers are always commenting on how little work he has to do and how few shots other teams get off on us - and then we put the kid in the net and all bets are off?
Out of curiosity, anyone have any opinions on the Wings seeming to fall fairly often to teams we expect them to beat with ease? I really don't have any ideas myself, unless it's some sort of overconfidence thing, but I've noticed it happening a lot - the teams we expect to be shoe-in victories (St. Louis, Philidelphia, Columbus) have been teams that have hung us out to dry with a decent enough regularity to make me point it out. (Or is it just that I'm just overplaying this because they're teams everyone expects us to beat?)

Boston takes on the Oilers tonight and Elly's down at the game - all I have to say is (while I do love Boston) GOILERS!

(And of course a bit of GO LEAFS GO!)


PS just in case there's anyone in the hockey blogosphere who hasn't seen this yet...

The NHL will never cease to provide amazing commercials, will they?

12 February 2007

Monday morning bullets

In case anyone who has ever read this journal wonders, yes, I do completely suck at titles.

Anyhow, some interesting things around the NHL this morning.

-Ray Emery is suspended. I didn't see this since I was too busy watching the Pens beat up on the Leafs, but it isn't too often you see a goalie get suspended. It'll be interesting to see how Gerber does (8-10-1) coming up against some decent opponents in the next week.

-Neat article on the new equipment types to hit the NHL recently. I don't play much, but I've always liked wooden sticks. This is probably because that is what I grew up with, and composite ones always make me think they're going to break, but if I had the money I'd like to play around with one of the sticks that Datsyuk uses (with the holes in the shaft). Really, though, it doesn't matter what you use if you can't hit the net. There's been some discussion about expanding the net size, and even someone mentioned reducing the goalie's blocker in order to make shots easier...but how much of an advantage do you want to give to the offense? I'll be the first to admit that I am not good with stats, but it seems like the games have been increasingly higher scoring in the last few years. Just take a peek at Saturday's games and you'll see some fairly beefy scores (6-5, 5-3, 5-2, etc.).

Of course, not all games are like that (Dallas beat Anaheim 1-0), but it just appears to be heading in that direction. There isn't anything wrong with higher scoring matchups (except perhaps frustrated goalies), but is hockey going to expand out of it's traditionalist roots and become a sport that relies more on equipment than technique and skill? Someone at HLOG made a good point a few days ago: you don't see any unfit, overweight, or slow players, and it's one of the few sports that can say that (soccer and basketball are the others I'm thinking of). In combination with this new equipment, larger nets would be overkill. Yes, it's always nice to see a goal scored, but one of the reasons it's so exciting is because it doesn't happen every five minutes. When your team scores, it's a hard-fought battle to the net, past the defenders, past the goalie, and then a credit to the shooter's skill to be able to fit a little piece of rubber into small, everchanging gap with a wooden stick (or aluminum, composite...). The point is, when does it change from equipment upgrades, which are essential to any living, growing sport, to changing the rules of scoring?

One last note to this mini-rant is a quote from the article above,

'“It’s a lot of word of mouth,” Garcia says. “These are pro players and they are pro athletes, but a lot of them are young kids. They watch what each other is playing with. They know when (Mike) Modano is using a Warrior stick. But the biggest ones are the Russians. They all know each other ... these guys are like a sewing circle.”'.

A sewing circle? Somehow I cannot see Malkin and Ovechkin sitting in a circle doing needlepoint, as amusing as that would be (now there's an idea for one of the 'hockey players are just like you' commercials). It is a good point, though, and I'm going to have to pay attention to what the Russian players are using.

-The Stars pick up Ladislav Nagy from the Coyotes for Tjarnqvist and a draft pick

-Even though Steph already said a few things about this, I can't believe how badly the Flames lost last night against the Red Wings. Kiprusoff was pulled, if that says anything to the severity of their loss. I've looked around a bit, and couldn't find any post-game notes or interviews to speculate on why they lost so badly, but at least McLennan got a bit of time on the ice. Spotting Noodles in the net is like catching a glimpse of the Loch Ness monster- spoken about but hardly ever seen. At least that was a tidbit for goalie Flames fans. I also heard Yelle was smacked in the same foot he broke earlier this season...hopefully the Flames can get over this and keep on truckin'.

A few Penguins notes:

-Article about how kick ass the Pens are right now, with Jordan Staal. Really, I'm just happy to see some attention from the media that isn't about the possible move or how much the Penguins suck.

-A little article off the website about how much Crosby's teammates think he rocks.

-The Pens are waiting tables tonight as part of a charity dinner to benefit a cystic fibrosis fund. If only I had money to go to that...who the best waiter would be? They're all very personable, but I'd probably lay my money on Fleury or Recchi. Fleury, because he'd have good hands being a goalie, and Recchi because he's older and has done this a few times around. I don't think it needs to be said how much fun it would be to watch Sidney wait tables.

Go Pens! (And good luck, don't drop anything tonight)

11 February 2007

This Ain't a Game, it's a God! Damn! Massacre!

Any day now I'll stop making unclever titles out of bands I don't even particularly care for (Fall Out Boy today, in case you were curious). Anyway between all the homework I've been (not) doing and all the cleaning of my apartment, I didn't get to sit down and watch anything all that in depth tonight - but I've got a couple quick recaps for a few different games these past couple days.

Elly already elaborated on the Leafs vs. Pens last night, and of course the Pensblog always does a nice job with that too - I couldn't get the game at all and only heard the last few minutes on Leafs Radio. Sounds like it would have been a good one though - every time I refreshed the box scores there was a new goal. Even though I'm mad we didn't win, hey, we got a free point! And I'd be lying if I said I didn' t love seeing the little Staal pick up that hat trick (for more than just a ridiculous inside joke we have, really). I never disliked the Pens, but lately I've really gotten attached. There's just no denying how fun a team they are to watch.


Tonight I did watch the Wings vs. Flames which is where the dumb title came from - at least to start. Kiprusoff letting in those three goals so early was unbelievable. I don't think I've ever seen that man get pulled before. It was just what the Wings wanted though, and they came on strong after getting shut out in St. Louis the other night and started off beautifully, which is something they've struggled to do lately. I don't know why this game was such a blowout though - other than Calgary's admittedly awful road record. The Wings looked like the were 300% more in this game than the Flames, who were making bad plays, bad turnovers (and tons of them), bad giveaways...

They did finally start to pull it back together at the end though with that little three goal rally - I admit, for a minute I started to think maybe this game was going to be some big cosmic joke on Joey MacDonald and what looked like a sure victory (finally!) would end up being a ridiculous come from behind Flames win. Luckily I was wrong, because I might have had to go bitch out the hockey gods for being that mean to someone who's been playing so well and deserved it so much lately. For better recaps, I'm willing to bet On the Wings will hook you up sooner or later.

Stats to note:

Henrik Zetterberg: 4 points - will he ever make it to five? I am optimistic!
Kristian Huselius: Ruins is 15 game points streak, does not contribute to my fantasy team. Damn you!
Joey MacDonald: Finally a win!
Nashville: Has reason to worry again.
Dom's age: Mentioned twice, even though isn't even playing.


Then, after an hour or so of struggling, I managed to catch the last period of the Oilers vs. Thrashers, which turned out to be just the game I wanted to see the Oilers play. It's been tough, these past few weeks, being an Oil fan and watching them struggle, especially after learning to love them through last years playoffs where they seemed like they could do no wrong (unless you're talking about Ty Conklin), but this was the first game in a long time that they looked like the Oilers I knew. They were skating fast out there, and hard, and coming up big for it. I don't have much else to say because let's face it I saw one period of this game on a three by three inch screen that froze up every few minutes and looked more like little blue blurs than hockey players, but I have to say go Roloson! The guy was getting harassed here and there all game long - and it was just beautiful to watch him get up after being bowled over by some Thrasher and just leap on the guy.

More stats:

Joffrey Lupul: 1G 1A - Look at that, a contribution!
Petr Sykora: 3A - Keeps the point streak rolling.
Ales Hemsky: 2A and some beautiful attempts
Dwayne Roloson: Gets a mention just for trying to kill a man, and because I feel bad for how many times the refs tried to molest him.


Last but not least, nothing official has been said about Manny Legace after he pulled himself from the game the other night and Sanford started in net when the Blues were taken down by the Flyers yesterday, so I am still officially worried, though it's probably nothing. But nhl.com has run an article on him that does a great job showing exactly why I love him so much. Some of it I'd never heard before either, like how he'd been so discouraged from trying to be an athlete when he was younger, but I was especially impressed by the way he talked about playing against Detroit - he never came out and said it, but you can tell how much those games mean to him from what he did say. I even love the way he comes across still a little vindictive - he wants to win those games against Detroit to prove that he isn't just a goalie who looked good because he started behind a good team, and it's a little unexpected out of him, and I love that.

Here's to hoping he's all right - I'm still looking for updates.

Bada bing, bada boom

What a game. A baseball-like score of 6-5, a hat trick, a fight (get well soon, Newbury), and an exciting over time made this the most recent in a series of great Toronto/Pittsburgh games. So far, the Pens are 3 for 3 with the Leafs this year, and are still sitting pretty in 4th place.

Some thoughts:

-Fleury was fairly solid, but I was surprised at what he let in. His butterfly is usually more together than that. Still, his performance this year has been markedly improved from last season, and I am not going to complain.

-It was nice to see Talbot get on the board again, as well as Malone. Crosby has been a little quiet recently, but he got an assist. I thought Armstrong looked pretty good as well, and of course, Staal looked great.

-Seeing Jordan get dogpiled on and then whitewashed was a thing of beauty.

-Does anyone know why Don Cherry was dressed as a normal human being and not wearing something that looked like a cat threw up on it?

-The Pens are looking solid, fluid, fresh and a have a great energy on the ice and with each other. This is the type of team that can make an impact in the playoffs. I don't think they'd get the Cup this year, but the playoffs are definitely in the picture. Of course, I wouldn't be sad about being wrong about the Cup....

Next game is a Valentine to the fans on the 14th at home against the Blackhawks. Go Pens!

10 February 2007


Pittsburgh is in 4th in the Eastern Conference.

I can hardly believe it. It seems like yesterday that they were struggling to make the 8th spot, and while they can just as easily fall back there (only 5 points separate them from Toronto and the last spot, who they play tonight), they're looking good right now.

Some attribute their recent success to the return of defenceman Mark Eaton (nice picture, Mark) , and they wouldn't be wrong. The Pens have had a strong offense this year, but have had some troubles along the blue line. While I would like to see them beef up a bit there, Eaton has definitely made his presence felt. There is still talk of the enforcer business, and while I will agree that Sidney and Co. are no slouches, I'd still like to see a bit more of a physical presence. I'll admit, I was all for getting a brute after the Blake jab, but I will also admit that I didn't think of some of the consequences of that move - like disrupting the camaraderie and the flow that the team has put together with their current lines. Really, it would just be nice to keep seeing the players stick up for each other, and not let people get away with cheap hits and nasty checks.

I know I'm way behind on the news, but so far there has been no word on the arena talks.

The Penguins are going into Toronto with a pretty decent record for the last month and a half. It should be an interesting game, with the last two being rather feisty matchups. The crazy Leafs fans will be out in force, I just hope that there is a decent contingent of Penguins' supporters as well. Fleury's been hot, but so has Raycroft...with solid Pens defense, I call a 5-4 win for Pittsburgh. Tied all the way up till the end of the third, where a loose puck gets banged in. Go Pens go!

09 February 2007

Panic! At the Hockey Game

St. Louis Blues shut out the Red Wings for the first time in 176 games - it could have been, should have been, wasn't Manny Legace. I watched the game in my jersey feeling very conflicted and pained to be hoping we scored on him, and wishing they'd played Sanford instead for that reason - but not like the way it happened.


Joey MacDonald looked good right away, blocking his first shot nicely and even being bold enough to venture out and play the puck (more successfully than Dom last night, might I add). It's nice to see the extra energy everyone is putting in to get the kid a win. 0-5 doesn't feel good for anyone even if you aren't necessarily at fault. Only five minutes in he'd already made some really impressive saves.

Of course he had to make so many saves beause the Blues played some really strong aggressive hockey for the first five minutes and got off a half a dozen shots while Detroit did almost nothing. Not a strong start for a game we really want to win in a blowout, but the Wings didn't look particularly slow or sloppy either. Overall a really weird period.

Datsyuk was looking nice tonight on the Wing's first good scoring opportunity, always playing the puck instead of the body. The puck went right through the opposing Blue's legs and the guy was just waiting for a hit, but Datsyuk ignored him completely, knocked the puck up to Zetterberg, and there by the grace of Manny went the Blues.

I already said it, but damn, MacDonald really did look good. Halfway through the first, the Wings were hardly doing anything past the red line - offense needs to step it up. Instead, Lebda took a penalty. Fortunately the Blues were 0-31 on the pp against us....and then 0-32.

The announcers took a break to talk about Jiri Fischer and brought up an interesting point about how Chelios' role has changed since last season, and how much the Wings would benefit from the depth he would give their D right now - and also how we've lost two D men (Konstantiov and Fischer) in not all that many years. Makes you wonder what could be different.

Stempniak and Schneider started a little bit of a scrum near the end of the period and the two of them and Holmstrom (taking Schneier's second two) all got tossed in the box, putting the Blues back on the pp again, which they once again don't capitalize on - but not for lack of trying. At the end of the first, there was still no score, but the shots on goal were disgustingly uneven - 16-3 St. Louis, one of the most lopsided we've seen all season with the Wings on the bottom end.

At this point in the evening I began insisting that if I saw the Absolut Pear vodka commercial one more time I might scream louder than I did when I said the same thing about the obnoxious Heinecken commercial during the Cup Finals last year. THREE TIMES in one commercial break. (I do, however, admit that I am intrigued and might want to try it.)


The Blues came out strong right away with a good scoring chance not even two minutes in off of a weird bounce, and MacDonald made another nice save.

Some of the most interesting play to be seen tonight at this point came from the really limited playing time of the fourth line - Hudler and Filppula got off some nice little moves back behind the net shortly into the second, trying to fix the stalemate the game had been so far, but nothing came of it.

MacDonald let in his first goal at 14:59 left in the first period when Chelios gave the puck over to Kronwall, who misplayed it and didn't clear it, allowing Guerin to knock it in off of Chelios and up over MacDonald, making it 1-0.

The fourth line gets another bunch of nice shots off right after, namely Langfeld and Filppula, but Manny stays strong. Guerin misplays the puck right to Kronwall, but he stumbles and goes down before he can pull anything off. A minute later Schneider knocks the puck right to a Blue and Joey has to make another really nice save - but he does. I like the guy.

Doug Weight and Maltby have a little bit of an attempted scrum shortly after and end up playing a game of "who can get the last hit in" which gets us a pp after Weight can't let bygones be bygones and throws a blatant hook at Malts. We did nothing with it.

Before the game tonight, Holmstrom commented, "He's so little but he's so focused," about Manny Legace. Too bad he wasn't small enough - Holmstrom went down hard and kneed Manny in the head despite trying to jump out of the way as best as possible. He took a long time getting up (and looks remarkably cute with messy hair and no helmet - I'm done I swear) but eventually ddid - and only played until the next whistle before skating over to the bench and pulling himself out of the game.

The announcers, in the meantime, go on to tell a little story about him that I will now rehash because I love Manny and it was adorable. Basically he said something about being used to old equipment, (his chest pad was 15 years old!), and while he was out with a concussion his teammates bought him new pads. He said he'd never use them because he hates change, but ended up trying them - and being four pounds lighter, ended up continuing on with them, saying he felt a lot quicker with them. Before the concussion he was 5-10-1 and since then he's been 13-5-4. The announcers made jokes about being lighter in the head now, and I am not sure they were funny.

Manny said post-game that the puck was blurry after that hit, and that his neck hurt, and he decided it was best to leave the ice because "Against these guys, if you're a second too slow, the puck will beat you. I thought it was better for the team to get me out of the net."

Anyway, Sanford who makes a nice cold-turkey stop on a good shot by Jiri Hudler (who really couldn't seem to do anything right at first tonight, causing two icings and an offsides up to this point, though finishing with some nice chances).

At the end of the period, Zetterberg and Tkachuk decide they need to fight for a few minutes. What?


Right off the bat MacDonald makes a beautiful stop on a two on one - and luckily; it would have been a game saver if the Wings could have pulled off a goal. If MacDonald weren't playing solid tonight the game would have been over in the first period. Babcock started playing blender with his lines, giving the Eurotwins crazy ice time, but also running the Filppula-Hudler-Williams line quite a bit more than I would have expected. Filppula manages to hit a second shot off the goalpost - he really wanted it tonight. And Jiri even got a faceoff.

A few short minutes later there was discussion of Brewer and a mention of the Pronger trade. I was completely, utterly confused until I realized that THAT Pronger trade wasn't the only one that's ever happened.

The rest of the period went by worriedly. Everything I ever said about Wings fans not worrying until we get to the third period scoreless sank in and I panicked for our no shutout streak. So many beautiful chances and somehow NOTHING went in.

Datsyuk had a nice breakaway, but couldn't let the puck settle down before taking a shot and Sanford makes what would have been a beautiful save if I weren't too panicky and hateful to care. Joey continued making some really amazing stops and keeping us in the game, but we just couldn't generate the offense we needed to pull it off. At around a minute left the Wings used their time out, pulled MacDonald, and just narrowly avoided the shame of an empty netter.

With 11 seconds left our last ditch hope happened with a Blues holding penalty that left us six on four, but it as too little too late.

At first I thought Zetterberg had that, in that last second of the game. My roommate thought someone had snuck into my room and slit my throat, hearing the noise I made upon realizing it didn't. My kitten, who will honestly sit and watch hockey with me, is now petrified at the sight of me within five feet of him. I am now going to go drown my sorrows in caffeine, brownies, and Ms. Pac-Man, while I dream of our 176 game shutout streak and our 68 points to take over the division. If Manny would have been on the ice for that, some bitter little part of me would have spitefully laughed at Ken Holland and not even minded the loss because if anyone deserved to be responsible for ending that streak it was Manny Legace. As it stands, I'm just upset.

PS Toronto I hate you. 5 games straight and you couldn't keep one more going for me?

The Absolut commercial has almost brainwashed me into thinking that would be a better option for drowning.

(In other brief NHL news, Sidney scored the Pens' shootout winning goal? Seriously?)

08 February 2007

Red Wings Post-game/Pre-game Bonanza!

Following yesterday's innocuous little win over the Phoenix Coyotes, the Wings have moved into prime position to steal the Central Division title away from the Nashville Predators (and return balance to the universe). It was a game that might have had us worried for just a few minutes in there, but like the Red Wings fans we are, we remembered that scoring first against us means literally next to nothing, and stood strong. I saw the game but didn't get a chance to do a good full review of it - Matt of On the Wings has it covered though, if you're so inclined (and you should be!). I do seem to love to hear myself talk though, so here are a couple points I can't resist bringing up about the game:

  • I can't remember a time span in my life in which I have yelled "DOM. NO." with such frequency. I mean, I give Dominik Hasek a ton of credit - he's been damn good this season. He plays like a crazy man, sure, but we've come to accept this and (when he pulls it off) even love it about him. I admit I've even found him strangely endearing thus far this year (something that may have been helped along by such uncharacteristic and oddly cute things as sending Joey MacDonald encouraging text messages and taking his defensemen and PK teams out to dinner for his birthday - oh sorry, "because he's had a few shutouts"). And there's something to be said about a goalie who can make a play like this one and get away with it. But we all know that Dom still sort of, well, sucks at playing the puck. I think the guy just gets bored in net (he certainly doesn't seem interested in the Islanders girls) and wants to wander a little. And admit it, you love seeing him rush out and take some poor innocent defenseman out at the ankles. But the sheer amount of times that hasn't worked lately is reason enough to stop trying it once per game - and the end result of tripping up your own defenseman and causing a ridiculous empty net goal like this should only serve to reinforce that.
  • During the game, Ken Daniels mentioned that Wayne Gretzky said something about Henrik Zetterberg being one of the most underrated players in the league. And after seeing what the one-two Henrik/Pavel team have been doing lately, I don't think there's anyone willing to debate that, especially after these past few games. It's nice to see him getting a bit more credit at least within the Wings club if not the league - even if it took Yzerman and Shanahan leaving.
  • Our announcers just make me really happy sometimes, and last night was very much one of them. Most especially when they were interviewing Draper, who is still getting over some kind of illness and is thus still having problems with his voice - "Let's be honest, it's from all that chirping at Brendan wasn't it?"
As for tonight, we take on the St. Louis Blues to pass up Nashville, take over the lead in the Central division and the Western conference and tie Buffalo (who has a game in hand on us right now) for the number one spot in the league. Overall this season, my sheer loyalty to and love for Manny Legace has led me to spitefully want to see the Blues run us over. But by this time in the season, and with the race so close, I now find myself instead hoping they for some godforsaken reason start Sanford tonight (oh come on, I have to at least a little cater to my Manny love) and we steamroll them. Earlier in the season I might have expected as much, but Manny's come out strong against us, and the Blues might be looking to treat this game as their last ditch playoff-making effort, so they'll come out hard. We'll be starting Joey MacDonald, who has had some rough luck when it comes to wins, but not through any real fault of his own - let's hope things turn around for him tonight. Maybe Dom will send him some more text messages.

My (completely unbased) prediction is 5-1 Wings, two for Datsyuk, two for Zetterberg, and one from someone on that fourth line (I'd say Hudler but it'd make me look biased, wouldn't it?). Look for a recap at some point after the game.

Go.......Leafs! (Come on it's in everyone's best interest to see them nail the Preds right now!)

07 February 2007

Anything You Can Do...

MC79 brought up an issue over at his blog the other day that's always a touchy one at least among fans I've known the other day - the dynamic of the East versus the West.

I've long argued on the part of the Western Conference, and in fact, I think it's the quality and the excitement of the play on that side of the league that made me such a Wings fan to begin with, even growing up with the Leafs. I bash Eastern Conference hockey with the rest of them; it's boring, their style of play sucks, c'mon have you ever watched a Devils game, etc., etc. - and a lot of it is just good fun. Never once did I actually consider the Western conference to be so much "better" than the East (though I admit, give me a good Western team matchup and I'll watch them in a split second over Eastern).

But what about the argument being made here - is the Eastern Conference really on such a completely different level than the Western? Does that explain why everyone's always bashing Eastern hockey? Even though current standings-wise (and here is where you can picture me raging about the current interdivisional-heavy play schedule if you'd like) show both conferences running even with each other, the truth is:

As of the All-Star Break, the East is at 34-51-12 against the West, a .412 winning percentage. They’ve scored 244 goals and allowed 292. That’s GF/GA ratio of 0.84.
A pretty convincing stat, and one that's not only the worst it's been since the 1985/1986 season, but one that's also been perpetuated for seven years. So okay, the East has a terrible record against the West, and I'm sure anyone can come up with any number of reasons why that make as much sense as the next one. And okay, the East is playing horribly against the West this season too (cue a bunch of whining on my part about the schedule and how all this interdivisional play against teams each as weak as each other isn't going to help).

But this is the first year I've taken an major interest in Eastern Conference hockey outside of the Leafs. Why? Because the East, with their struggling and falling all over each other trying to catch the West's coattails have wound themselves up as the teams with the breakout players - they're the young teams, and, let's face it, even if they can't keep those players in town when their contracts are up, they're the teams that are hosting the new faces of the NHL. There isn't a hockey fan alive who can't tell you they like Crosby or Ovechkin better.

So sure, statistically, it's the same as it has been for seven years. But the difference that's hitting now? You can argue that it doesn't change anything and that it's not necessarily a good thing overall (and it isn't, of course I want to see things even out), but it doesn't change this fact: Anyone who's had any interest in the NHL as a whole and not just their one little team has been all but forced to pay attention to the Eastern Conference this season, even if it's just for the players.

And would you look at what we found - there's hockey, Eastern hockey, that's fun to watch.


First off I have to mention how the Penguins beat the Preds last night 4-1. Am I dreaming?

Mario and co. have let the deadline come and go without a peep out of the Penguins' office. My ulcer continues to grow and the Pittsburgh newspapers' websites are refreshed an amazing 238 times a day. I am not sure I want the news to come or if I can't wait another second. Finding out that the Pens are leaving could deal a huge blow to the team and their play.

In other news, you just can't seem to get away from the trade talk (although next year's is going to be interesting with Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury's contracts coming up), so I won't even try. Here is an interesting article breaking down the needs of the teams around the nhl. The Penguins could use some more fluffing up on the blue line, but Eaton strapping on his skates again recently has helped quite a bit. What would the Pens look like with a few extra great defensemen? Probably like this.

Speaking of D-men, the Ducks are reminding me why I don't like them. At least they're not in bright teal anymore.

Back over on the East side, Rangers' GM Sather says, 'wtf?' to Messier's talk of taking over the GM position in New York.

Tuesday the Bruins will retire the Chief's number in an appropriately titled night of hockey fun when they host the Edmonton Oilers. Yours truly has tickets, and is trying to decide if it's appropriate to wear a Penguins jersey in downtown Boston. I am personally rooting for the Oilers, just so that the Bruins won't get any more points and have a chance to over take the Penguins...and possibly just for the hopes that they will put Jussi in net. This might also give Stuart a chance to look at his future team, since the Oil has been sniffing around him lately. Should be an interesting game.

The next game for the Penguins happens to be our old friends the Flyers. The Pens, who are a strong 63 points, will hopefully be 65 on Friday after a trip to Philly.

Go Pens!

05 February 2007

Wings v. Rangers Liveblog (And hey, Happy Birthday Don Cherry)

The game a lot of Wings fans have been waiting for all season: the game against Brendan Shanahan. Sure he's no Chris Pronger, but the way he up and left us after this season, leaving everyone stunned in the wake of his disappearance, having not remotely let on that he wanted out, still stung. And he's certainly not happy about how this season is going - unless the Rangers step it up, it'll be the first time he hasn't made the playoffs since before he wore the winged wheel at all. Personally I think it's sort of hilarious - and I'm willing to bet we'll see him do something tonight. If only the game were at the Joe.

(PS I think the Rangers are playing a game called "LOLOLShanahan" - signing Sean Avery?)

Period 1!

Zetterberg's HAIR, jeez. He really is giving Smytty a run for his money when it comes to the hair blowing in the wind.

Dom's going to have an on night, you can see it already just from those first two saves.

Shanahan knew that was going in. And there I am proven right in only two minutes - the guy's out to have a big night. He's pissed and he's got to want to take it out on us.

...I lied about Dom. I really hope that was a fluke.

Mathieu Schneider is so funny looking. It distracted me from catching that off the pole shot, but damn Lang came close.

We are letting far too many chances get far too close to our net undefended, but I don't really see our defence making any big mistakes either--and there's the Eurotwins making it happen for us. Pavel doesn't even know what's going on behind him but he rushes the net anyway and Lundqvist can't see that Zetterberg shot clearly. The announcers inform us that "pucks and people at the net at the same time will lead to goals like this." And, nicely, Datsyuk even got a piece of it, giving me a fantasy point against Elly tonight.

The announcers just treated us to a recap of the pregame skate wherein Jagr apparently asked Cheli, "You're still playing?" And Cheli replied, "I have to, I'm the only one that can stop you." I'm not sure that rings all that true for either of them anymore - but what a cute exchange.

The Rangers play even weirder music at their games that the Bruins do. Was that just the doorbell noise?

I would be much more okay with these goals if Shanahan wasn't on the ice EVERY time. But jeez, could Dom have looked any slower trying to nab that? He usually doesn't have a problem with his top shelf, either.

Explain this announcer segue to me: "Lalala someone has the puck, SPEAKING OF DISAPPOINTMENT, not the Predators!"

I want to start a count of how many times per game they feel the need to mention Chelios' age.

That three on one breakaway redeemed Dom for me a little bit, but damn is he ever looking slow tonight. He's making some giant saves, but letting in some crap, too, and he just isn't moving. Let's hope he finds his game in the next fifteen minutes.

Intermission in which Versus tries to entertain us

Jamie Langenbrunner offensive player of the week with more points than anyone else in the league 2 goals 5 assists. Elly would be happy, you know, if she admitted to liking Devils.

Andrew Raycroft, meanwhile, gets the defensive award and with a 4-0 week involving a 1.23 GAA and a 9.61 SV% and is kicking ass for my fantasy team mere weeks after I considered dumping him. Aww. And he's cute.

The picks for players who have exceeded expectations (Crosby, Drury, Bieksa, Lang...feld?) and those who haven't (Samsonov, Cloutier) were very unsurprising (Sidney Crosby doing well? No way, thanks for telling me, VS!), proving once again that Versus should just stick to...well actually, nothing would be nice. Also, hahahahah Cloutier.

Period 2

It's like Schneider. Even if he is funny looking. Does Kronwall actually do anything out there on the ice?

I think they had to wait on that faceoff about three times because Draper being all hardcore coaxed the Ranger into fighting with him. Draper cracks me up.

Mike Babcock says they need to shut the door. I giggled like a schoolgirl. Which I suppose I technically am. Does that mean I have an excuse?


Lang just won a nice faceoff. The puck then promptly went through about three Wings' legs.

Mention of Cheli's age count: 2. (Sure it was just a mention of his birthday - but still.)

Skye of MWORAO mentions to me that the Wings look off tonight. I reply that we play third period hockey and that Red Wings fans don't panic unless we don't have a goal before that point - and then we're really just worried that someone will wreck our shutout streak. It's nice that even this season with all the worrying hasn't ruined that mentality.

Dom plays the puck properly behind the net. The announcers realize this and remind us that he's got about six minors for sucking at puck control. So far tonight he's knocked almost everything behind the net for someone else to pick up - at least he realizes it.

Versus has a new secret strategy: Talk about Sidney Crosby as much as possible and maybe people will forget you suck. I would like them to know it is not working.

Lang plays the puck beautifully behind the net there.

Holy shit Hasek. I still can't believe how that guy still plays sometimes.

Versus is still trying to be interesting!

Hahaha. No one is thrilled about Avery.

"The NHL is a game for men, not for boys". Should someone tell the Pens that? Anyway there's that feature on Sidney...which is basically just three or four shots of different players nailing him and a four second discussion on whether or not the Pens need an enforcer. Wow, Versus. Way to carry that one through.

Period 3!

Announcers calling Dom hyperactive makes me laugh. Dom turning over yet another puck because he insists on playing it does not.

Henrik Lundqvist decides to play the puck behind the net like his good friend Ty Conklin (oh come on we haven't put that link up in a while). Luckily for him there was no Rod Brind'Amour to beautifully wrap it around an in - instead there was little Jiri Hudler with the ugliest goal in his career with the Red Wings banging away at it in front of an entirely empty net while pretty much falling over still behind the net until it finally finds its way in. But look how adorably happy he is about it anyway.

Dom makes a beautiful save a second later that was more than likely a game saver.

I'm going to start counting how many times they mention Dom's age too. That was one.

"Someone ought to tell Lundqvist he doesn't get extra points for how difficult he makes the save." Ahaha. That was almost a KRONWALL goal though! I would have had to admit he could contribute.

Dom covers the puck like ten feet outside of his net. At least he didn't give it away again. I swear he just gets bored in net and feels like he has every right to wander out and do something about it.

We look like we're skating better this period. Not so much of that sloppy crap. We don't like losing. It would be nice if we'd realize that at the start of the games, though.

Kronwall just made a nice play, I will admit it. The Wings do nothing with it and it results in a Jagr shot on goal that Dom blocks. Jagr's hair is better lately. So has Hasek's playing, these last few minutes.

I just heard ONE fan yell out "LET'S GO RED WINGS!"

LANG! Beautiful lucky little poke right through Lundqvist's pads. He's such a good strong hard-working player, always gets in there and does what needs to be done. I'll be upset if we do lose him after the season. I reiterate what I said about the third period. Now let's just hold down the fort. A win tonight means passing up Anaheim tying Buffalo for second in the league.

Ward gets nailed and we're on the PP - and the Rangers mishandle the puck like jerks and Zetterberg bounces it in getting nailed with a hard slash in the process - but there we have it, go ahead goal 4-3 with seven minutes left.

Ortmeyer needs lessons in where the net is. But not as badly as he needs singing lessons if he's ever going to be mic'd up again.

Okay someone needs to just sit Hasek down and tell him NO. Slap some magnetic skates on him that will repel him if he moves out too far out of the crease or does it too often.

Rangers empty net....and failure. 9 wins in the third period to top off the league as we move two up on Anaheim to tie Buffalo for second in the league and take over second in the Western Conference.

About the only other thing I have to say is that I hope someone youtubes that Hudler goal because it was hilarious.


AND! CHOPPER! Oh I have missed you Ethan, come back soon please.