29 June 2007

In case you thought it was safe to believe...

A year ago Thursday Jussi Markkanen landed back in Finland after having helped push the Oilers within one game of being Stanley Cup Champions and being touted as "a real Jussi success story" for having stepped up in place of the injured Dwayne Roloson. He was confident he'd get more playing time this season after proving himself - and so were we. In fact, during some of the more depressing bits of the Oilers season (see: most of it), the one thing that kept Elly and I going.

The Oilers, however, had other ideas in mind. They kept him over game one disaster Ty Conklin, but he only got sixteen starts this season, a fourth of which happened within the last few games of the season, when a loss was almost guaranteed. Then during draft weekend, Kevin Lowe admitted they'll be looking for a backup during the offseason.

Anyone who saw his end-season interview (I'd link, but I think the Oilers site has eaten all of these) and heard him state that he thought he could be a starter, but that he didn't think he'd be given a chance already had their hearts broken once. But we bounced back by hoping at least the Oilers would keep him. Instead, he'll join the ranks of UFA goaltenders and even says he might find himself back in Europe: "There's only 60 jobs so it's a little easier to count what teams might have openings," he said of the free-agent frenzy that gets underway on Sunday. "At the same time, there's going to be more goalies than jobs so some of us are going to end up out of the league."

Doesn't bode well for Jordi's jersey promise.

Think that's enough? Nope, optimistic but sad-sounding little Jussi has to make it worse.

"When I left Edmonton (after the 2006-07 season), I felt like I would have an opportunity to come back. But I didn't even know at the time what I was going to do," said Markkanen, who earned $850,000 US last season.

"I really did enjoy my time there -- hockey-wise and lifestyle-wise -- and my family really liked it. Of course last year wasn't the best hockey-wise, but we had a lot of good years in Edmonton.

"It's always tough to leave thinking you're going to find something better when you know everything is already pretty good where you're at."

I guess it just wouldn't be summer (or any trade season, for that matter) without the Oilers making me cry. Mark my words Edmonton, you resign Sykora or it's all over.

28 June 2007

Everybody Hates Pronger.

After seeing Margee's latest post inspired by all odd the search hits she gets (more importantly, the post itself was a nice montage of should-be-shirtless hockey players, but I digress, as that doesn't go to my point), and Earl Sleek's collection of most common searches for the month over at Battle of California, I realized it had been a while since I'd looked up ours.

Having done so, and thrown out the boring ones, I've found that most likely 50% of hits on our blog come from people who hate Chris Pronger. In fact my number one most common hit last month, after the inevitable "no pun intended" was indeed "I hate Chris Pronger". Followed by variations on such things like Pronger sucks, rumors, affairs, trades, Edmonton, Lauren, and Christy Chorley.

But that's boring, and we've all heard it before, right? Don't worry, I've got some better ones:

"Where does Chris Pronger train?": Fairly innocent, sure, but don't let Lauren find out you're googling that. I doubt she can get past the idea that there's someone out there who doesn't hate him yet. Besides, you probably don't really want to know, anyway. I'll be she's there supervising.

"Chris Pronger ugly picture": Has been brought up many a time before. But there it is yet again, and I have yet to feel capable of passing up a reason to throw out this picture.

"Pronger kicked out of hockey": We could hope. I'm willing to bet we couldn't get so lucky.

So okay, I've seen better. And really, none of those are all that hateful, right?

Unless you're the guy out there searching for "Chris pronger heart stops beating". Sorry we couldn't help you out there.

(And while we're on the topic of search results, anyone who wants to clue me in on why people care if Rod Brind'Amour has a girlfriend - I hear I'm not the only one getting those - , just who is using the word "hunk" in relation to "Sean Avery", and most importantly, just what the story behind "pittsburgh penguins goalie that ran over cats" is, now is the time to do it.)

23 June 2007

And so begins the season of desperation and anxiety

Let's face it, the draft is mostly boring. The kind of boring that finds itself second chair to Kenny Rogers' first start of the season with the Tigers. The kind of boring where you're cursing the Red Wings for being good when it's nearly 10:00 and they haven't gotten their first pick yet and all you want is Vancouver and Calgary to just forget they were supposed to show up for a few minutes so you can see who your team wins and then shut the damn thing off and have a beer.

But we watch it anyway. It's arguable if this is because we're curious about the maybe near, maybe far off futures of our teams or if it's because by the end of June we're all so starved for hockey that we're frequently flipping our TVs to Versus in hopes that we'll happen to inexplicably catch the NHL roadtrip commercial or something. Anyway, after those long hours of everyone else picking, the Wings finally got in a few of their own:

Round One 27th overall: Brendan Smith
In his post-draft interview, Smith, a 6'1" defenseman who idolizes Scott Niedermayer and will play at the University of Wisconsin this season admits he was a Leafs fan (his younger brother's favorite team was Detroit), so I like him immediately. He wears #14 because Shanahan is his hometown hero, so coming to Detroit is huge for him.

The NHL Draft Media says:
A skilled defenseman with good puck skills… has good mobility and a good skating stride… able to join the rush well and is creative with the puck… needs to make better decisions with the puck and move it quicker… needs to improve the consistency of his physical play.
And the Detroit News reports:

He can move the puck, is a great skater, quarterbacks the power play, and even though he lacks some size now at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, he's not afraid to throw his body around.

In 39 games with St. Michael's of the Junior A League (a step below the Ontario Hockey League), Smith had 90 penalty minutes in 39 games.

"I like to be gritty," Smith said. "You have to be chippy in the corners and I'm not the biggest guy."

Round Three 88th overall: Joakim Andersson
There were rumors that the Wings would take 6'2" center Joakim Andersson in the first round. When he got passed up, few expected him to last until our second pick, 88th overall, in the third. Unsurprisingly, we ended up with a Swede - but Andersson is all right with that, stating that Detroit is his favorite team, and Zetterberg his favorite player. On further investigation I have determined that might have dreamy eyes, and he might take dramatic pictures of himself and post them on silly myspace-type sites with the caption "Konnichiwa, Joakim Andersson desu." (I have a feeling that second one is most assuredly not him, but I can hope.)

MyNHLdraft.com says:
A physical two-way center that is strong on the draw. He plays a simple game and is strong in all three zones. Enjoys the physical aspect of the game, is good at creating room for his teammates. Protects the puck well when driving to the net. Is a good all around decision maker, showing good playmaking abilities as well as leadership qualities. Needs to work on his skating and mobility.
Hockey's Future looks at his potential:
Andersson is a very complete two-way center in the Samuel PĂ„hlsson mold. It's a comparision that has come up frequently the last two years, as Andersson has emerged as a top prospect.
Looks like the Wings approved of Anaheim's style of play, taking two young kids who aspire to play like two instrumental Ducks in the playoffs this year.

Round Five 148th overall: Randy Cameron
Cameron, a 5'11" center with the Moncton Wildcats, finished 15th in scoring in the QMJHL, and only 6 goals fewer than Blue Jackets first pick (7th overall) Jakub Voracek (who in that picture looks a hell of a lot like Petr Hemsky). There isn't much available on him, being this deep into the draft, but he looks like a potential solid pick.

Round Six 178th overall: Zack Torquato
The Wings seem to be hoping Torquato will be their late sleeper hit. The kid looks a little more like he belongs at some ivy league prep school than in the NHL, but reading up on him, he's rather endearing. A pre-game nap and a pre-game meal of chicken and pasta are part of his game-day rituals, and he patterns his game after Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche. Don't let appearances fool you though, he also pled guilty to assault and served two years probation when he played with the Saginaw Spirit. Now I really feel like he probably belongs the rich snobby kid in some coming of age movie. (He also coincidentally looks like my childhood best friend's younger brother...weird.)

His coach with the Erie Otters (who have an really unfortunate logo) speaks well of his work effort and compares him, in that regard, to Brad Boyes. He also says, "He's capable of playing against everybody's best players and it seems like he thrives on that."

The Central Scouting Report says:
A skilled forward with good versatility... plays a consistent high-energy two-way game... has a good wrist shot and able to make passes through traffic... needs to improve his skating stride... needs to be more consistent around the net.
Sportsnet, at the beginning of the OHL season, reported:
Jack of many trades, but a master of none. Isn't a natural scorer, but has the ability to finish and make plays. Smart and heady, makes few mistakes. Is aware defensively, but needs to apply himself more in his own end. Good skater, with a smooth and efficient stride but could stand to work on his quickness. Doesn't wow you with his skill set, but gets the job done. Good vision and creativity but lacks that 'bring you out of your seat' component to his game, which separates him from the top-end guys this year. Should be a very solid all-around player in the future.
Round Seven 208th overall: Bryan Rufenach

The Wings went off the charts to draft 5'11" defenseman Bryan Rufenach for their final pick. He played 31 games last season with the Lindsay Muskies (what on earth is a Musky?) of the OPJRA but he was a point a game producer.

He signed a letter of intent to play with Clarkson this fall, and the press release included the following:
Bryan is the kind of the offensive-defenseman that we have been trying to get here for quite some time. He will be a young defenseman in the ECAC, but in time he should be very good. Bryan will provide a spark to our power play and we look for him to join the rush offensively.

So there we are, two days later and we're really and truly down to no more hockey until the fall. I thought about going through the Oilers' picks too, but CiO did a nice job of it - and this took long enough. Time to abuse youtube and pretend the light isn't so far off.

Meanwhile, the Tigers won yet again! I've found my new good luck charm - I managed to talk Earl Sleek from Battle of California into cheering for them, and it seems to be working. We haven't lost since! Go Tigers!

18 June 2007

Someone already said Capital Punishment but...

Quite a while back I was subjected, thanks to the friendly requirements of CapsChick's blogger playoff pool and the fact that Flamesblog writer Duncan was the one to win round one, to write a big old Flames lovefest. I thought the pain was over. Considering that we had just ousted them, it wasn't even that hard to do! And then the finals come around and the winner is a Capitals fan, so now the whole lot of us have to write glowing posts about the Caps.

I didn't think it would be so bad. I mean, they have Ovechkin who makes hilarious commercials, sings painfully badly, and golfs uh...not quite as badly? And that's good, right? Right? Except oh, what was that, Elly used all those already? I knew I shouldn't have helped her out when she had to do this last week or two weeks ago or whenever. Well since we're on the topic of Ovechkin, I can bring up those ridiculous little stick drawings of his, right? Crap, the other Ellie got that already?

Well okay. What's left? Outside of the fact that if you wander over to their website right now you get a weird little black and white jersey striptease (seriously) - not much, right? They only even have one Czech! But one is better than nothing, so there's a starting point. Jiri Novotny (though you've all excuse me when I say Hudler is still better, right?), gets a few points just for his first name. Even better, his best friend is Ales Kotalik - and we all know how I feel about certain other players bearing that name. Tragically he was stolen away (along with a first-round draft pick) from Buffalo (who got Dainius Zubrus and Timo Helblin in return) at the trade deadline this year. While a lot of Buffalo fans seemed to go crazy for Zubie, Novotny didn't really do a whole lot. With 6 goals and 13 assists this season his numbers aren't anything spectacular - but six of those assists did come in a span of 17 games after joining the Caps, second on the team to only Semin (with 9) in assists during that time. And at 23, he has plenty of time to improve, even if he was...okay, all but (and that might even be pushing it) forgettable this year. If only he had as good a season as the Czech soccer player of the same name?

Well, that attempt to find something to love in the Caps might have failed kind of miserably...but it still counts, right? Oh come on cut me a break, I'm doing the best I can. If nothing else, I found myself a reason to like the Caps - and don't you doubt me for a second, after the debacle that is Ty Conklin you should know me at least that well.

16 June 2007

Shopping is the universal cure-all!

Yesterday (and again this afternoon) the Wings hosted a sale at the Joe. I got there, if a little late (and sunburned - who knew sunroofs could do so much) thanks to astronomical failure at parking. Unfortunately Christy couldn't make it down, but she asked me to note the prices of some of the game-used sticks and other available items, and the experience was interesting enough that I thought I might as well share it.

It was incredibly odd to see the Joe so empty - though there were quite a few people there for the sale. We had to stand in line for about forty minutes, as they were letting only a certain amount of people in at once. In the meantime, about a million hockey-playing kids walked by with brand new sticks that were the players' extra at the end of the year, which were being sold for less than the cost at an equipment store. An interesting aspect of the sale, as I would never have even thought about it.

Once inside, the first wall was entirely made up of game-used sticks:

  • The rookies, Jiri Hudler (who must secretely hoard all of his, there was only one in the entire display), Tomas Kopecky and Valtteri Filppula were going in general for around $100 apiece. There were some from the end of the season when Filppula started using those RBK sticks of Pavel's as well - $225.
  • Kyle Quincey's sticks were going for around $50 (I nearly picked one up), along with most of the other Griffins kids' (Meech, Himelfarb, Ericsson). Inexplicably, Danny Markov's were also, for the most part, $50.
  • Robert Lang had by far the widest variety of sticks. I couldn't at least four, ranging from insanely long gold-painted ones for around $80 though most were around $150. Unbeknownst to me, he actually also used the RBK sticks at some point in the season, and they were $225 as well. Mikeal Samuelsson had a similar range, mostly between $125-$200.
  • Henrik Zetterberg's ranged between $250-$300 and some, as did Pavel Datsyuk's. Unless you wanted an RBK of Pavel's - then you'd best be prepared to shell out $350.
  • I didn't get a good look at the goalie sticks, but Liv and Howard's looked to be going for around $100. Hasek's, on the other hand, got as high as $300. Unfortunately I didn't notice Osgood's at all.
Of course, sticks weren't the only thing for sale:
  • Game-worn gloves covered the table next to the sticks. For the most part, a pair was around $245, and the single ones were somewhere around $125. I didn't notice much difference with regard to player, though I would assume the players I looked at (Schneider, Cleary, Samuelsson) would have been around the same price range if they did.
  • The difference in prices because of the player was really apparent especially in the game-worn jerseys (unsurprisingly). A game worn Hudler jersey from the second half of the season was going for $650. Datsyuk? $1800.
  • Goal-scored pucks went for around $245 each, though I believe they were different based on who had scored as well. While I was looking at these, a guy behind me asked the woman working if they had any "milestone" pucks. She gave him a very perplexed look and said, "Sir, the players tend to keep those."
  • Also for sale were game-used skates ($245 for a Quincey pair, I didn't note anyone else's), shorts and helmets (neither of which I could get close enough to to price - sorry Christy!).
The pro-shop was open as well, with the regular wares (including those great red Detroit D hats), and two discount tables - for $5 you could get such things as nice Cup run 2007 t-shirts (including ones with rosters, Ride the Red Wave shirts, and the Duck Season shirts), and for $2 there were various pucks and pins. And of course the bobbleheads - $5 for Zetterberg, Lidstrom, or Lidstrom in a suit with the Norris (tempting); $2 for Shanahan, Hull, Hatcher, Whitney, or Fischer (I caved on that one - I miss Fischy. I wanted to post a picture, but my computer's rebelling.).

Overall, even though I didn't buy much, it was definitely worth going - I had no idea how much most of these things would be priced at, and it was really interesting to see just how all the prices varied, too. Seeing people blowing entire paychecks was fun too - maybe next year! Just being in the arena was a nice way to combat this hockey-drought - and I treated myself to a coney dog at Cheli's afterward.

12 June 2007

We age well. Like wine. Just go with it.

Dominik Hasek has made his decision about returning next season (thanks Christy for the tip), and Chris Chelios just signed a one year contract as well.

What does this mean for the Detroit Red Wings? Well, providing Hasek's decision is to return, it means a whole lot of breathing easier and the ability to go out and really start trying to resign a lot of other players, with the confidence that our goalie situation is settled. Hooray! (On the topic of Wings UFAs, this week's HLOG topic was a discussion of your team's UFAs and their situations - rather than crossposting I'll just link you to mine.)

What does this mean for everyone else? Still assuming Hasek stays, that we the viewers will not, after all, be deprived next season of such enlightened commentary as "the forty-five year old defenseman Chris Chelios plays the puck blahblahblah" (by the time this entire sentence is said Cheli probably no longer has the puck at all and in fact could be dead of old age) or of constant comments about the respective ages of both players and of the team in general during (but not limited to!) every Wings game. It also means the NPI game liveblogs will not go without their precious stats of just how many times each gets mentioned (hey let's make it a contest next year!). It also means that you non-Wings fans' lame player-based reasons to hate our entire team stay intact. Jerks :b


It is also my duty to report that I have been given the task by Elly to inform you all that her recent absence is due to theraputic retreat to recover from the end of the season. Truth be told, we talked a little too much about Prongers' lack of pants and her computer imploded at the thought, or something along those lines. No really. Don't make fun of Prongs around your electronic devices, I've had a phone and a laptop fritz out on me. Either way, she's predicting a week or so until her timely return. Why timely? I don't know. Go with it.

09 June 2007

Red Wings Season End Sale

Well, the season is over, and not with a bang, but with a...well, I'm trying to come up with the best onomatopoeia for vomiting and while I might not be succeeding, I think this picture sums up best the effect the game had on my gag reflex. You were warned, don't be bitching at me if you click and regret.

So what's the best way to deal with the pain? Well since Elly's computer was overcome with Pronger winning the Cup and subsequently ceased functioning (I know how it feels), I've had to stop whining to her and fall back on the old standby - shopping, of course!

This Friday and Saturday (the 15th and 16th) the Wings will be hosting a sale at the Joe of game-worn jerseys from the 2006-2007 season and other merchandise. Outside of these (sadly much too expensive for me) jerseys, other things for sale include:

  • Game-used and new skates, sticks, gloves, goalie pads and helmets
  • Autographed goal-scored pucks
  • Autographed player photos
  • Autographed pucks
  • Autographed books
On top of this, the pro-shop at the Joe will be open as well, and the website is promising such curious things as "discounted bobbleheads". I'm hoping to be able to head home for the weekend and check out on one of the two days - anyone else planning on stopping by?

07 June 2007

Fair thee well, 2006-2007 season

That's it. Done. Finis. End. Over. I can hardly believe it's gone so fast...and there are some long months till the guys hit the ice in October.

Even Ducks fans must admit: that was a pitiful way to end the season. The Senators, for all their inspired play earlier in the playoffs, failed to put anything together since they hit the ice in Anaheim. Bounces went bad, turnovers turned into goals, checks threw players off the puck at cruital times, and some potent rebounds shuffled between Emery's pads and into the goal. Overall, it was lacking play, bad luck, and some fine hockey on the parts of the Anaheim Ducks that won it. I would have rather seen the Sens take the Cup home, but with the way they played last night, they didn't deserve it...and no matter who you root for, who you want to win, and who does win, you're not a hockey fan if you don't get goosebumps every time the Cup is awarded (I even smiled when Selanne got it, you just can't help appreciate that). Congratulations to both teams, it takes a lot to get to the finals, and they both did something fantastic through making it all the way to June. See you next year, guys.

So, instead of recapping last night's fiasco of a game, I'm going to look ahead to the 2007-2008 season and some things that Penguins' fans, and all fans of the wonderful game of hockey, can look forward to.

-Sidney's first year as captain. It will be interesting to see if an extra C on his uniform will make any difference in the leadership he's already shown.
-Further development of the Penguins as a whole, working, ass-kicking, Stanley Cup winning, blowout team. Did I mention I'm getting Center Ice next year? This next season I can't miss.
-The Oilers coming back as something that does not resemble a frat house the Morning After.
-The Bruins! Hey, I love the Bruins, shut it.
-Where Ryan Smyth goes: the trade of the summer.
-How will the Senators look next season? The Ducks? Will they follow in the Canes and Oilers' footsteps?

So, woeful Sens fans and those that hate Anaheim, think of those points (as well as many others, I'm sure), and know that there is a light in the darkness! A shining pool of water to quench your hockey thirst next season! New terrible metaphors to be made! A whole summer of baseball!

As always....go Pens.

I had a dream...

That Chris Pronger took the Cup back to Edmonton out of pure spite and just as he was waving it around in Smytty's face, Roli stepped in and nailed him right in his stupid gap teeth with it. And then they walked away and left him on the ground bleeding and whining for Lauren.

I woke up wondering if they'd work the gap into his fake teeth, too.

06 June 2007

The hockey devils (not New Jersey) have won

Nauseated. Dizzy. Angry. Frustrated. Confused. Disgusted.

Just a few words to describe the end of the Cup finals for 2006-2007. An anticlimactic and poorly-played last game to see the fans into the summer...unless, of course, you are a Ducks fan. I'll have more on this later (as I am sure that Steph will as well), but the consolation I take from this is that watching those west coast fowl raise the Cup over their heads...I can easily picture another team, another set of young players with tears in their eyes, hoisting that chunk of silver to a screaming crowd in western Pennsylvania.

Next year.

It's do or die time.

One year ago tonight I didn't hate Pronger. In fact, one year ago tonight, I was putting aside my hatred for the team that knocked us out in round one, I was cheering for Prongs after that penalty shot goal in game one, I was just on the verge of learning how much I loved Jussi and hated Ty, and most importantly, I cared about the playoffs.

I'm going out with some friends to watch the game anyway, though, which leads me to plead the following: please, please, Ottawa, please don't make me cry in public. Please don't let me have to sit in a bar and watch Chris Pronger lift that cup over his head because I will, and I am not joking, I will get kicked out for what comes out of my mouth if that happens. I don't like you either, but I am willing to accept your victory if it comes hand in hand with Pronger's downfall.


(As a sidenote, it makes me very happy to announce that the sheer amount of hits our blog is getting right now for such searches as "Giguere straw" [SEE, OTHERS ARE NOTICING TOO!], "I hate Chris Pronger", and my personal favorite, "Chris Pronger ugly picture" - does this work for you? - is ridiculous. Awesome ridiculous. I love you all.)

05 June 2007

Cocky Awards; Stanley Cup games 3-4

Man, with so much cockiness flying around, it's hard to pick just one person from each game! Last year's finals saw some words exchanged, but this series is hard to match from the sheer egos sitting on the ice.

Game 3: What a game! Of course, I missed quite a bit due to a birthday party, but alls well that ends well (are you listening, Ottawa?). The winner for this game? Undoubtedly Chris Pronger, not for his blatant elbow to the head, but for the lack of penalty following it.

Game 4: Oh, where to start on this game. Could it be Ryan Getzlaf, for his sneering grin and cheesy game play, Chris Pronger, for being...Chris Pronger? Perhaps Corey Perry and Dustin Penner for throwing their weight around? McDonald for scoring those clutch goals? A one Mr. Heatley for finally being in the right place at the right time?

No. No ego on the ice could compare to the two that were above it. In his scheduled scarring of the American public, Don Cherry came on NBC (in a tasteful suit, imagine that) to sit beside Brett Hull in possibly the loudest, and most ego-ridden broadcast to hit the hockey airwaves since they announced that desert climates were about to receive the gift of men on skates. I think what put the icing on the cake was Cherry calling out Hull with a well-placed jab about his foot in the crease. Please check it out here. Classic.

Onto game 5 tomorrow! While I'd like to see the Sens win (courtesy of Vermette's hair), I won't argue that the Sens suddenly finding themselves in the place of certain other teams that they beat out to get to where they are, oh, like the Penguins, doesn't give me a bit of warm fuzzies. Seriously though, get with it, Ottawa. Where was all that divine inspired play that we saw in the first rounds? Don't fall prey to the evil forces afoot!

Go Vermette's hair!

03 June 2007

This just in: Pronger still a big huge jerk.

I'd say it was karma, spiting Chris Pronger and his ugly smug face for having gotten to the Cup finals for the second year in a row, but doing it at the expense of his former Oilers team...but no, the truth is, it seems Pronger really is just a big huge douchebag. After last night's elbow to the head of McAmmond (who briefly lost consciousness before being helped off the ice and apparently "doesn't look promising" as of now), Pronger's been suspended once again. Seems the guy just really doesn't like game fours. I hope for the sake of Vermette's hair that the Sens capitalize on this absence more than my Wings did.

The article documenting his suspension also shed a little bit of light on the decision-making process:

"This one took a lot of thought," Colin Campbell, the NHL's executive vice-president and director of hockey operations, said at a news conference. "It wasn't an easy one. It didn't jump out at us right away."
Does this mean they spun the Wheel of Justice very slooooooowwwwwly? Or maybe played best out of five? The world may never know.

It's too bad we don't get to see his reaction (though I'm sure it just involves blaming the Canadian media again). I can only hope that maybe he'll pull a minor league baseball manager Phillip Wellman and throw a huge tantrum. Am I the only one who would pay to see Prongs go crazy, crawl up to the net on all fours, rip it from its posts and proceed to throw pucks like grenades?

So this is what crow tastes like

As per the rules over at the lovely blog of a certain Capitals' fan, as part of the playoff pool (which I forgot to enter for the last round, go me), the winners can pick three people to write nice things about their team and have them publicly posted humiliated for all to see.

I got picked by a Caps fan. That's all you need to know.

Ahem. So, in order to get myself into the mood for writing a bit about one of the Penguins' rivals in the joyous times of the Patrick Division, let's learn a bit about their history, shall we?

The Washington Capitals were part of the expansion that gave us the Kansas City Scouts (aka: The New Jersey Devils) in 1974, which gave them their rookie year a record of 8-67-5 (almost looks like the Penguins last year). Not a good start, to be sure, but with only room to move up they hit playoff contender status in 1980 and 81, making an appearance in the postseason in 1983 after some smashing trades with the Canadiens that proved that they were a contending hockey team and saving them from the same fate as the Scouts (who wants to end up in Jersey, really?). They have only gotten better from there, making regular appearances in the postseason and forging a nice hate of the New York Islanders like any self respecting Eastern Division team in the 80's.

The Caps have had some stellar talents come through their doors, including Larry Murphy, Robert Lang, Sergei Gonchar, and some guy named Jaromir Jagr that would probably get his ass beat if it came to town outside of a tour bus. There is one player in recent years that stands out among the crowd (I'm not talking about their recent recruit from Ravenclaw...tell me that kid doesn't look like he just came from Hogwarts) that even a Penguins fan can get behind: Alexander Ovechkin.

Aside from Ovechkin's choice in desserts and sides to sandwiches, he can play hockey (made better by the addition of Metallica), talk to Marty McSorley, give funny interviews, he golfs in his spare time and translates things for his good friend, Evgeni Malkin (couldn't find a link to it, but their interview was on OLNUSUS and worth a look). He even gets along with Sidney (and really, that video is great just to see them together having fun with Shanahan and lighting a cake with a blowtorch. Good thing they both rock at hockey, though, because they suck at singing)! Or maybe not.

On a more serious side, number 8 has all the skills and the moves of a great hockey player, and he shows them on the ice regularly. The Capitals have gone through a rough spot, but they're on the move up, and behind some good talent (Semin, Muir, Beech) and a solid goaltender (Kolzig is nothing to sneeze at, certainly), they'll make a better showing in October when they come back in retro style.

They've even got a great AHL team!

So in conclusion, the Caps are worth a watch in the coming years, even if all you take away from it is a good show of some of Ovechkin's stellar moves and his stylish yellow crocs.

The end!

(And since this has taken me three days to write, I can now add the footnote of, 'Yay! Way to go, Vermette's hair!' and, 'Chris Pronger, you suck')

02 June 2007

Finally, Cable! (AKA Vermette's Hair vs. Prongers Gaptooth Game 3)

Vermette's hair appears to be trying to break free. Will it give the Senators the edge tonight?


I don't think I can properly convey just how great a reacquisition this has been, even if it came after a long, somewhat miserable week full of moving to a new apartment. But now we have cable and I've been basking in the world of Detroit Sports since Thursday - not that they've given me anything to be particularly excited about, after the Tigers continue their 0-6 losing streak against the Indians so far this year, and the Pistons depressing double OT loss to the Cavaliers Thursday night (Detroit Bad Boys covered it best). It's lucky for the Wings that Cleveland doesn't have a hockey team.

At any rate, my goal, especially since Sherry won't be around to do it tonight, and it's not fair to place the whole effort on the IPB girls, was to liveblog the game. And then I realized that the Tigers game starts at 7, Antoine Vermette's hair takes on Chris Pronger's stupid gaptooth at 8, and the Pistons at 8:30. So this might turn more into a liveblog of how fast I can swap channels. Anyway!

7:15 PM: My buddy Mik interrupts my searching for FSN (so I don't know my cable channels yet, shush, this is a new thing) by lamenting the finals once again with me. I tell him where my loyalties now fall and he replies:
Darok Echo: I love the way girls look at hockey honestly
Darok Echo: no male commentary matches up to "I'm cheering for that guys HAIR"
I inform him that finding reasons like this is how I am sleeping at night.

7:21 PM:
The Tigers are down already. I decide I really shouldn't break out the booze yet, at least not until dinner, so I watch a few minutes of Scrubs, flipping back and forth to see if it's getting any worse. Hey, Elly uses it to ease hockey pain. It should work for baseball too.

7:28 PM: FSN shows LeBron James walking around. I hiss on reflex.

7:45 PM: While I throw some dinner together (chicken in some sort of "Montreal" seasoning - think it'll help Canada out?), the Tigers manage to score a run and tie it up. I refuse to be optimistic yet.

7:54 PM: Maggggliooooooooo! Just in time to switch the channel - or try to; I have no idea what number NBC yet either.

8:04 PM: Is that Pronger with some scruff going on? I didn't think Lauren would let him. Regardless it still took a lot of restraint not to break my newly acquired cable box by throwing my remote at it to make Prongs go away.

8:07 PM: They're interviewing Chris who's about a foot taller than the interviewer, which is making the poor guy look really silly. His hair has really irritating cowlick and it mesmerizes me so I don't actually hear anything he says. Mik tells me all I missed was ""looooook at mah fat head, looooook at it." I don't doubt. Now we get a cut to the goalies - or rather, Giguere and half of one of Ilya's pads - in the lockerroom. I curse at Giggy and wonder how long before I have to start hating his stupid straw. We have Capri Suns in my fridge and I think about throwing them at the TV next time.

8:10 PM: Ilya sighting! I decide to hate NBC a little less for that, even though it was followed with about a million shots of the Wings getting scored on.

8:14 PM: That Dodge Avenger commercial where the guy plays Smoke on the Water comes on, and the guys I'm watching the game with get into a big debate over whether it would be possible. No, seriously, they're still going into the anthems. I think it concerns them more than the hockey does.

8:20 PM: Chapel announces first that he would like the anthem singer to get stabbed, and that he wantes to see Dallas in the finals just to hear them yell the STARS bit of the anthem. He then wins my undying love for the following statement:
xdreadnaught: Ray Emery, the only man to have Don Cherry envy his wardrobe.
Mik points out that there's a Leafs jersey in the crowd. I whine that if there's going to be a fight, someone should take out Pronger. I'd agree to like the Sens for at least a game then.

8:27 PM: Redden takes a penalty and we're told that Gillette has brought us this pp. We are all amused at a company known for making razors sponsoring something to do with the Cup Finals. Everyone starts booing Pronger and it makes me like Ottawa a little more.

8:29 PM: Okay seriously, must they murder Beauchemin's name so hard? BOWshuhmon? The guys I'm will start joking that they're pronouncing it like "Pokemon" which evolves (no pun intended) into "MY BEAUCHEMINS LET ME SHOW YOU THEM!" I begin to wonder why I'm friends with these people.

8:30 PM: Selanne plays the puck behind the net out to MacDonald who throws it in while Emery's stick is caught in Volchenkov's equipment somehow. Ducks PP goal and the evening starts out upsettingly already. Chapel's contribution: "FLYING V BITCHES!" I wish he were not many miles away and retribution could be had.

8:37 PM: STRAW SIGHTING #1! As expected I cuss out Giguere and totally miss what happens for the next few minutes. I also come to realize that I really don't know Ottawa's lineup outside of the top line and damn Emery. I actually have to go open up the Sens website in an attempt to spell names properly.

8:40 PM: Chapel trying to convince me my loyalties should lie with Ottawa.
YourPianoDrowns: I just can't get behind Pronger.
xdreadnaught: that's what he said?
YourPianoDrowns: touche
8:44 PM: Matching minors for Fisher and Moen. All I saw was a bunch of pushing and shoving like little girls. I'm starting to realize liveblogging games you hate the idea of watching is less a good idea than one might have thought. Emery is really lucky there were no Ducks in front of the net just now.

8:45 PM: Vermette has the puck! I start a rousing cheer for his hair. No one joins in. They're too busy laughing at NBC's announcers discussing what happens when you're playing "man on man" (I do believe they meant "four on four".)

8:51 PM: Ottawa goal! Unfortunately neither Vermette nor his hair had anything to do with it - but I always like seeing Giggy screw up. Of course it's followed up by a shot of that RIDICULOUS STRAW again. This is almost directly followed up by a Baby Nieder shot on goal at which I tell the room that should he score on this, it will mean I am done watching this game. He does not. Big surprise - he only scores on terrible bounces that glance of his skate, right?

8:54 PM: On the commercial I flip to the Tigers game which is now tied 4-4. However, I'm treated with Ordonez praise and Pudge Rodriguez knocking him home with his second double of the night. The more I watch the hockey game the more interested I am in baseball. Flipping back, Dustin Penner decides he'd rather take out a defenseman than shoot the puck.

8:57 PM: The Name That Squirt is, inexplicably, Mario Lemieux? What? I find myself hoping that Elly saw this from the party she's at.

8:58 PM: Ottawa storms the net with twenty or so seconds left and Giguere is inexplicably missing, for a second. They manage to not score regardless, and the period winds down. We're promised an interview with Crosby during the intermission - I think I'll watch basketball.

9:05 PM: Crosby's replaced Hull (who is apparently on the CBC broadcast according to my Canadian friends) and I find myself wishing they'd let him stay there if meant Hull being gone. Unfortunately I'm missing out on Cherry saying things like "Volchokeoff". I miss CBC. Why don't us poor Americans get to see Hull and Cherry argue?

9:17 PM: For some reason there is a giant delay on the Pistons/Cavs second quarter...because the clock isn't working. The announcers treat us to the information that "It's showing the score as 0-0. This might be okay in the Anaheim/Ottawa Stanley Cup Finals game...but not here." Um...thanks for that?

Period 2!

9:18 PM: The announcers let us know "Vermette goes hunting for Beauchemin." One friend kindly suggests "My Beauchemins, let me show you them?" Seconds later Antoine and his glorious hair have a nice opportunity, but fail to make anything of it.

9:21 PM: We're treated to Kelly and the most boring Sounds of the Game ever. I mean I know we can't all be Marty Reasoner, but...

9:23 PM: The NBC announcers think they're clever saying "sweater" instead of "jersey", or something. Either way, Spezza's just got ripped up in a scrum - now, now, boys, save that for after the game. And what, now they can't find another jersey for him? As he's sitting around wearing one of Eaves', my roommate says they should just go up in the stands and get one there - NBC echoes this sentiment a second later.

9:28 PM: Anyone says hand pass and I still look around for McGeough.

9:29 PM: Perry knocks in another Ducks goal. I think I need a beer - and the fact that I think I need a beer over the Sens losing makes me think I need several MORE beers. Ugh. The announcers tell me that a forward in front of the net is thinking: "TAKE IT TO THE NET." Why thanks. They show Giguere and his fucking straw and I yelp "STRAWY!" I have no idea where that Y came from, but I'll roll with it.

9:31 PM: Volchenkov, who for some reason I do not hate as much as some Sens, evens it up right off of a faceoff and subtracts a few beers from my quota. Which then probably just adds a few more. Sigh. This is rough. I flip back to baseball just to see how it's going, and the Tigers lead 8-4. I feel a little bit better.

9:36 PM: Just as I'm commenting about how Getzlaf looks like a douche and how much I inexplicably dislike him, he pots one in behind Emery to bring the Ducks up 3-2. I start whining about how much I miss last year's finals and really having a team to cheer for. Everyone tells me to shut up and calls me a traitor for being an Edmonton fan. I turn my whining to Jordi, who lets me know of course I'm bored by finals without Hemsky. So much more understanding.

9:42 PM: "J.S. Giguere has Chris Pronger right in front of him - a comforting thought." I shouldn't laugh, I shouldn't laugh, I shouldn't laugh...nope, we're laughing. Apparently Giguere can get behind Pronger just fine. Wow, sometimes we really are twelve.

9:46 PM: Giguere made a (gack am I saying something nice?) nice glove stop. The announcers say something about Corvo. Hey, he went to my college.

9:50 PM: Why oh why does NBC feel the need for the fast forwards and the circus music? Also, I admittedly stopped paying attention for a good few minutes and now Ottawa's on the pp - and they score! I feel conflicted, as Antoine again has nothing to do with this - but before I can decide if I'm happy or not, the play's under review. I've learned after that crazy call in game six last year not to trust NBC to wait before calling goals, but I'm told CBC calls it in and I believe them. 3-3.

10:01 PM: PUT IN ILYA COME ON DO IT. By which I mean Giguere was out to lunch leaving Ottawa right there to...give the puck to Pronger to score for them? Immediately Chapel, Mik, most of my living room, and Bethany ask if I'm happy now. I reply yes, take back everything I said about disliking this game and in fact have begun to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Someone in the room said "he's no Lidstrom," referring back to that amazing stop during the Sharks season - damn right.
YourPianoDrowns: man I wish they'd talk to Pronger now
xdreadnaught: "how do you feel about giving ottawa the lead?"
Darok Echo: "chris will your wife snap the leash and move you again in a week?"
Unfortunately the period ends and we do not get anything so awesome.

10:11 PM: Checking the baseball game, I see we're up 9-5. And we're being told that with a "five" (can they count?) run lead you can take some chances. Did they see yesterday's game, Mr. Friendly Announcer?

Period 3!

10:24 PM: Nice chance for Ottawa, but Giguere makes the stop. I'm too distracted by the shot of his goal where you can see his stupid waterbottle and his stupid straw(y) to care about anything else.

10:28 PM: Pronger you douchebag - there he goes looking for yet another suspension, elbowing McAmmond in the head. Unfortunately this means we're treated to some really hideous closeups of Prongs spraying water all over himself and looking smug. As if the Hockey Gods feel bad for me having to watch this series, Getzlaf picks a fight and gets his ass handed to him. We get some more awful closeups of his creepy grin and I'm distracted by half of the Ducks bench cowering and hiding behind their gloves. Um. What?

10:36 PM: Emery wanders around behind the net and my roommate starts going on about how he's in the "pentagram". I inform him that he means "trapezoid", and furtively wish I could make this into something more clever. Seconds later Emery makes a great stick save - I feel a little sick having to praise him, but it was brilliant to watch.

10:42 PM: Thanks in part to my dear Vermette's hair, Volchenkov buries another one!

10:48 PM: After wandering over to IPB to check out their liveblog, I realize that I finally have cable...and there is no Baby Crunchy out there. I am never going to get to use this nickname! Menawhile Getzlaf takes another stupid penalty.

10:50 PM: And the Tigers win it 9-5! We're treated to a cute little Magglio/Granderson bounce-hipcheck looking thing and I am happier about my life. Even as I go back to hockey where I have to admit that this is a good game - a really good game. Except that I keep wallowing in that I don't care who wins, which sort of ruins it.

11:01 PM: Some stuff happened. The announcers are talking about how soon Giguere will be pulled - the prediction is shortly after the pp is over. Unfortunately for them, the Senators are pretty intent on keeping the puck in the Ducks' zone and preventing this. He finally gets out with around 1:31 left. The camera has decided that a giant waving Sens flag is more important than being able to see anything on the left half of the screen.

11:05 PM: NBC gives us a shot of the "Action Line". I squee over the hair of my illicit Sens mistress Vermette (there has to be a better term for this) who's got one assist tonight. Meanwhile, the Sens take the game and I am unsure if I'm happy or not. And so I flip to the basketball game where the Pistons are down by 9 with 10:04 left in a do or die game that could end their season. Bah.

11:39 PM: .....wow Pistons. Way to suck. Guess my days of watching basketball are over - I certainly don't care enough to pay attention to these finals.