News (the spooky edition!):
-Bergeron is out of the hospital, but not out on the ice again for at least a month. Scary news for Bruins fans. Maybe can join his teammates in trick-or-treating instead?
-Peter Bondra retires. I'm not sure this classifies as 'scary', more like, 'thank god he's not playing against the Penguins anymore'. CapsChick, as always, has a great take on it from the Caps fan point of view.
-Tonight could be the night for Preds fans to see if they get to keep a team or not. Take some antacids, Nashville fans, and my condolences, we know how you feel. Fanhouse has a take on the Nashville situation, with a mention of a possible move to the dreaded 'KC'. I have more sympathy for Nashville every minute.
-Speaking of Fanhouse, they also have a nice write up on Malarchuk's breakthrough moment to usher in the plastic throat guard for goalies. There's even a youtube link, but be warned, if you don't like blood, don't watch it. Also, I have to agree with the writer here - Sidney, keep with the evil look. It's fun, it's Halloween time, enjoy it. Don't get me wrong, the honest and open thing is much appreciated as a fan, but sometimes it's good to let the bad boy side out too.
-P.S. Happy Birthday, goalie mask! I am a little sad there is no giant man-eating flower on Fleury's mask this year, though.
-Not scared yet? The Flyers, who I preferred as awful, pitiful wretches at the bottom of the Atlantic, are now topping it out. Second place? Penguins. Last in the East? Devils.
-Ottawa is in control on the East for the time being with 18 points. Want a frightening comparison? Detroit leads the West with 21.
-In not-so-frightening news, the Staal brothers (well, two of them) went up against the Hanson 'brothers' at the opening EA Sports NHL 08 in Toronto. I think J.Staal had it right - their first problem was picking the Hurricanes.
Scariest thing of all? These two gentlemen. The Wild certainly think so.
Next game in Colorado, Thursday at 9pm.
(and Happy Halloween!)
31 October 2007
News (the spooky edition!):
29 October 2007
Even in Vancouver, it seems we are still not all Canucks, as the Wings grab another victory, albeit a much closer one, over Luongo and the Canucks.
I missed the first few minutes of the game watching the Oilers shootout, and a good chunk of the middle catching the Red Sox sweep the Rockies to win the World Series in four (go Sox!) but I caught the important highlights:
- The Canucks struck first as Matt Cooke potted his first of the season, but the Wings and Tomas Holmstrom struck back only twelve seconds later to tie it up. Unsurprisingly, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg both assisted on the goal, which brings Z's point streak to 12 games and 21 points. Keep it up, boys.
- The second goal came on a nice two-on-one rush where Valtteri Filppula managed to fake Roberto Luongo out of position before tipping the puck over to Mikael Samuelsson who tossed it in to put the Wings up again.
- While the Sox were busy winning the World Series, Markus Naslund evened the score up again, but Jiri Hudler came back with some nice stick work and a highlight-reel goal - unsurprisingly, it was right top shelf, just where he likes 'em. Way to go, kid!
- Chris Osgood looked excellent as usual up until the last minute when he tried to score a goal on the empty net, and ended up giving the puck right to a Canuck who nearly pushed it past him - he stopped the shot but was the pushed into the net, resulting in what the crowd thought was a goal, but it was waved off. Come on, Ozzie, you've got two assists already this season, don't be greedy.
- Patrice Bergeron has been released from the hospital after the hit that left him lying motionless on the ice and saw him carted off on a stretcher with a neck brace Saturday evening. While there is no other new information on his condition, the word is it's nothing more than a concussion and a broken nose. Get better soon, Patrice, we miss you.
- A while back the lovely HG shared these extremely excellent only-in-Canada Chef Boyaredee masterpieces and proclaimed that, "I am willing to bet that the 15 minutes or so I spent exclaiming over the NHL shaped Chef Boyardee at Costco last night, wondering what it would be like to pick out all the Flames shapes and eat the rest TOTALLY led to the Flames' OT win in Dallas." If that's the case, then I bet my friend Sam in Edmonton's need to find and pick out the Oilers shapes just to photograph their existence TOTALLY led to the Oilers' shootout win over Anaheim:
I mean, how cool are those?
- Finally, a message to all eight-six of you out there who have dedicated yourself to scouring google for "ryan malone tattoos" and "malone tattoos penguins" - courtesy of Empty Netters, here you are. Happy? Okay. Now find something new to search, I like you guys much better than whoever it is still hopped up on finding out about "rod brind'amour's wife".
It took Ales Hemsky a few games, but the kid is hot stuff after all, potting two goals (one of which was highlight reel worthy) in Thursday's game against the Wild (sorry Kirsten!) and winning it in the shootout with an unlikely mess-up that snuck its way past Josh Harding - watch for the look on his face as he turns the corner.
He swears he didn't mean to - in fact, he even says he didn't realize it went in at all until he heard the cheers. Not content, he showed up against in yesterday night's game against the Ducks to put the Oilers on the board first, and while it was Andrew Cogliano who played hero, tying the game up shorthanded in the last few seconds, Hemsky won the game for them yet again, with a shootout goal that more than made up for his last attempt.
Uh, for $8.99? Count me in! (Excuse the poor photo quality - I found that at the bar the other night and only had my cell phone on me. Capitalization is a dangerous thing, people.
28 October 2007
-Is it just me or does this figurine of Malkin look a bit like Lemieux?
-Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins was taken out by, you guessed it, Flyers' D-man Randy Jones last night. He is stable and staying at Mass General for tests to assess the damage. He suffered a concussion, broken nose, and was not moving for several moments, and the responding doctors were forced to cut off his sweater and equipment.
The Bruins official article.
Scary stuff. Get well soon, Patrice!
-Guess what? Tyler Kennedy is back! For how long is anyone's guess.
Yes, this post is rather lame, but after a busy week, the morning after a long long Halloween party, and the fact that Center Ice is blocking me out of certain games (how does Boston count as local? I am in another state, people!), I haven't got much that other people haven't already said. I will link one last thing, and it is a great article about women bloggers that was posted to HLOG by the lovely CapsChick of A View from the Cheap Seats, who was interviewed for it.
Pens play Minnesota on Tuesday on OLNUSUS. Go Pens!
26 October 2007
Since the playoffs this past season the Sharks and the Wings have had this interesting brand of rivalry brewing, making for some really fun to watch, interesting, and generally close games. Tonight's mostly fit the bill on those first two points but missed the third by quite a bit.
The game started on a high note, as this afternoon Kris Draper signed a three-year contract extension that will wind up him up presumably retiring as a Red Wing. Considering his fourteen years of efforts and the start he's had to this season, I'm thrilled to see it.
Dominik Hasek was out with an "irritated hip", so Chris Osgood was in net, though he was slated to get the start tonight regardless. Jimmy Howard has been called up to back him up through the western Canada road trip, but Hasek will be traveling with the team as well, so hopefully it's only a minor setback. Osgood continued to look great tonight and had the crowd chanting his name.
Valtteri Filppula finally broke out, scoring not only the Wings' first goal of the game (a backhanded flip similar to his first NHL goal ever) but also added an assist to Andreas Lilja's goal, the second of the game. It was great not only to see him rack up some points, but also to listen to the announcers gush over him. At one point he lost his helmet and they went on about the fans getting a kick out of "watching that Finnish blonde hair in the wind". Later they referred to him as "Fine Finnish Filppula" - and on a more serious note, Mickey Redmond declared him the young Red Wing he thought was most likely remain with the team for a long time.
The Wings not only came out strong tonight, but also looked disciplined, taking far less penalties than they have been as of late. Aaron Downey was impressive again, in a similar vein, goading Rob Davison into instigating a fight - the Wings game recap proclaims that the two "threw more shots during their fight than San Jose managed to sent at the net through 40 minutes." Probably true, as the Sharks really started to deflate as the game progressed. At the beginning of the third, the Henrik Zetterberg/Pavel Datsyuk/Tomas Holmstrom line had more shots on net (9) than the entire Sharks roster (6).
Speaking of, Holmstrom scored the third game of the night, and Zetterberg continued his point streak, now at 11 games, by notching the fourth goal of the night. He would have had two, but the second was waived off, as Holmstrom who is currently the most penalized player in the league with 12 minors and 4 goals called off at his expense (enough to provoke the announcers to suggest the Holmstrom Hat Trick - a goal, an assist, and a goal called off). By that point in the game the Wings were clearly dominating and had so much momentum that it looked like most of the players on the ice were just laughing about the call-off. Datsyuk wasn't left out of the fun - the flashy Russian has apparently earned himself the moniker "Houdini", which he certainly proved tonight. His pass that set up Zetterberg's goal involved drawing three men to him and deking the puck around of them, and later on he slipped between Mike Grier and another Shark so quickly that the two actually bowled each other over while Datsyuk skated harmlessly away. Only the young Marc-Eduoard Vlasic, known as "Pickles", had any real luck holding him back, stopping what could have been a nice breakway for Datsyuk early on.
After the first four goals, the Sharks pulled goalie Evgeni Nabokov, whose evening did nothing to improve his already suffering stats against the Red Wings, and put in backup Dimitri Patzold who is, weirdly enough, from the exact same city as Nabokov. I only wish I were from a place named Kamenogorskorsk. The move did did little for the Sharks though, as Kirk Maltby scored on the Wings first shot against him.
The Sharks did manage to ruin the shut out when Alexei Semenov's shot from the point made it past Osgood, but it was the only success story for the Sharks all night. The Wings outshot them 39-11 and their goal differential is now an astonishing 138 - the highest in the league and the only in triple digits.
- The Oilers took a win over the Stars last night with help from Ales Hemsky, who tallied two goals. I was at the bar catching the Sox game, but I received no less than five text messages about it - thanks you guys and everyone else! He also picked up the win for the team in the shootout despite actually losing control of the puck at the last second. When asked about it later, he swears he didn't do it on purpose and that while it was ugly, "I'll take it!" The game also marked Ladislav Smid's return to the NHL.
- Speaking of Oilers, or ex-Oilers, Ryan Smyth scored 23 seconds into overtime to win the game in Calgary for the Avalanche. The colors still look terribly wrong, but it's nice to see him back in Alberta.
- Ex-Wing Danny Markov finally signed a contract - with Dynamo Russia. It's believed to be a two year, $4 million contract with an out-clause for next summer, which is less than he might have been able to receive here in the states.
25 October 2007
One day, I will learn to save my game notes. One day, I will learn that it is not smart to try to upload a 500mb file which my computer has overheated twice trying to do previously, while leaving a bunch of unsaved things, like game notes, open.
Unfortunately I did not learn this lesson last night. I was also trying to study throughout the game, and switching back and forth to that, you know, big baseball thing that's going on right now, so rather than a full recap (for a great one, hit up Gorilla Crouch as usual), I've just got a few quick notes:
- A game against the Canucks can never go by without seven hundred and twelve similes about what a bad deal the Roberto Luongo trade was for Florida. I don't have the direct quote anymore, but the one that John Keating stumbled through last night was so bad that even he couldn't quite get it out properly. I believe it came out something like "The last time someone made a decision...this poorly was when, ah, someone at... Someone at Enron starting thinking out of the ah, box." Stop trying. Please.
- Henrik Zetterberg continued his point streak, now at 10 games, although all he tallied last night was an assist. You know what? I'll take it.
- Speaking of point streaks, Matt Ellis, who notched the second goal of the game, is up to four. The more he plays, the more he produces, and it looks like he's finally managing to crack the roster. In an intermission interview he insisted that neither goal was spectacular, but that they're sort of dirty, gritty goals he generally scores - I'll be he was pretty excited about them regardless. You know what? I'll take that too.
- Despite the score winding up with a close 2-3, the Wings out shot Vancouver 39-15, and there were a couple very close calls (one in particular was absolute highway robbery on Nick Lidstrom) that had Luongo making a few spectacular saves to keep the Canucks in the game.
Their next match up is against the Sharks, at home this time, on Friday at 7:30 - I'll try to remember to save my notepad file.
24 October 2007
I bumped into this post over at Battle of California earlier today and it got me thinking. Despite that whole growing up with the Leafs thing, I consider myself very much a Western Conference fan first and foremost - that isn't to say I don't care at all about the East, but I certainly would have been just as miffed if this had happened to, say, a Wings game because VS wanted me to see no one but the Penguins (no offense, Elly/ies and Teka!) during the two and a half hours they were playing.
The same thing happened earlier in the year when a Wings/Ducks game going to a shootout resulted in the first seven or eight minutes of the following Dallas game not being shown, so the "VS has a stupid crappy EC bias" argument doesn't really hold up, but it still left me curious about the VS schedule in general.
Last season, which was before I moved past the stone age and found myself the joys of Centre Ice, it felt like every non-Wings (and therefore televised by VS) gameI watched was an EC match-up. I lost track of how many times I saw the Pens and the Capitals go at it again, but I chalked it up to my bias rearing its ugly head and not VS'. Still, I was prompted to go look up just what the numbers were, and there results were interesting.
Over the course of the season, VS' current schedule lists 56 NHL games of which the teams are already set (and one other TBA). Of these:
- 34 are EC match-ups
- 19 are WC match-ups
- 3 involve one team from each conference (Pittsburgh/Minnesota, Detroit/Montreal, and Carolina/Nashville).
- 9 times: Pittsburgh
- 8 times: Colorado, Philadelphia
- 7 times: Buffalo, Detroit, NY Rangers
- 6 times: Boston
- 5 times: Carolina, Montreal, NY Islanders
- 4 times: Atlanta, Dallas, Washington
- 3 times: Anaheim, Minnesota, New Jersey, St. Louis, Toronto
- 2 times: Chicago, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Vancouver
- 1 time: Calgary, Columbus, Edmonton, Florida, LA, Nashville, Ottawa, Phoenix
(And you know, I understand Detroit being so high up there, considering the turn out the Wings get in arenas across the country has led to things like the Coyotes jacking up prices when we're in town, but...Colorado? Really?)
I've got a few hockey notes, but there is something else going on tonight that needs to be addressed.
I finally, finally, got Charter and Center Ice to meld and create beautiful hockey on my television....it only took me three weeks and about four hours on the phone. Thanks for the phone bill, guys.
However, the Pens weren't even on extended cable tonight but on OLNUSUS, and so through fuzzy and static-ridden television, I tuned in, finally, to a Pens game on tv.
Too bad it was boring.
Seriously, what happened with the Rangers? They played well, it was a physical game, but it looked like they were skating through quicksand at some points. The goal and the last 5 minutes or so were the only part worth watching. Even the Pens fans sort of died out booing Jagr.
On a related note: people, leave Fleury alone. Yes, he's got some technical issues, and he knows it. He's working on it. Stop calling for questions on a new goaltender (really, at less than 10 games in?Have some patience). He, like the rest of the human race, is not perfect, don't expect him to be. He was solid when I saw him in Toronto, and he was good last night, and until he starts really throwing off his game, I'll say the same thing: let him be.
Another Penguin note: NHL.com has a great little story to continue with their month of cancer awareness with the savior of the Penguins, Mario Lemieux. Read it.
What is tonight? No, not an exciting game with the Flyers and the Panthers, but the start of the World Series. Now, being an A's fan, it is hard to live in the outskirts of Sox nation (especially since Yankee's fans are heartily sprinkled in), but I manage. However, when it comes right down to it, I have a healthy love of all things Boston, especially the Sox and the Bruins. It just comes with growing up here. So, to deviate from the normal hockey for a moment and just wish the Red Sox good luck - they're going to need it. Colorado is a nasty team right now, just ask Arizona.
21 October 2007
The Edmonton Oilers want you to know that even though these past few games haven't been what they'd hoped, they're still happy.
We know this because they've broken out of the name and number listing new nhl.com style roster lists and gone back to their much loved yearbook-style format, complete with new pictures for everyone wherein they seem to have refused to let anyone leave until they smiled, or held guns to their heads or something. Some of these turned out brilliant (It seems that without Sykora to carry them like last year, the Oilers realized something needed to be done about those hideous things they called roster photos. I'm also willing to bet having the monstrosities pointed out all across television helped.). Some, well...
Jarret Stoll has somehow improved his looks over the summer. I don't know either, but every time I see him this year, I find myself impressed. Steve Staios, meanwhile, has this cute quirky smile going on that I didn't know he had in him, and someone told Ales Hemsky to shut his mouth for once (although I give him credit; he didn't in his regular roster photo and the result still made me happy) - the result is pleasant. And then of course Ladislav Smid - come on guys, bring him back. How do you say no to a face like that? (Other honorable mentions include Marty Reasoner, who has now redeemed himself twice over for the horror that was last year's roster photo, and Ethan Moreau, who doesn't count because he's always beautiful.)
Mathieu Garon looks like...I don't even know what. Happy, but that sort of cross-eyed crazy happy where you're pretty sure he's going to hide in your closet with a knife and make "I'm in your house" phone calls. This makes Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Mathieu Roy his idiot henchmen. Come on, French Canadians - does Jose Theodore have to show you how it's done?
I couldn't bear to put Dwayne Roloson's in the "ew" category but...someone should maybe tell him Smytty hair only works for Smytty. (And how is it that even when he smiles he looks like a deer in headlights?)
In conclusion, okay seriously Red Wings, time to get on the ball - the Oilers now have TWO new roster photos for everyone and you can't even be bothered with one set? Lame.
Edit 7:56pm est: Tracy has chronicled the game from a 'yotes point of view over at HLOG, complete with a lovely shot of yours truly looking like an idiot. Thanks Tracy!
As mentioned, I was working both Bronco football (a pitiful loss) and Bronco hockey (a brilliant win) yesterday evening and didn't get home until halfway through the second period of the Wings/Coyotes game, so this post will be a little on the sparse side. Fortunately for me, what it is sounds like I missed was the shakier first period play on the Wings' part, and by the time I got home they settled in nicely and pulled out the victory.
Tomas Holmstrom was the victim of what everyone I've heard from is calling a horrible penalty call that robbed Henrik Zetterberg of a goal in the first period. I mention this because even though I didn't see it, it seems like the pinnacle of the trashy calls we've been getting lately and I can only hope it goes downhill from here. Fortunately, even though the game could have been 6-2 instead of 5-2, we still won it in the end, and Zetterberg came back with a late goal (you guessed it, a gorgeous Datsyuk to Holmstrom to Zetterberg hammer-in)to make up for this one. His point streak and phenomenal play continue through nine games now.
My rookie Jiri Hudler notched his first goal of the year in the first period as well playing now, with Mikael Samuelsson back and Dallas Drake being sent home to rest after the nasty McLaren hit that broke his cheekbone, on a line with Aaron Downey and Matt Ellis (both of whom also looked good tonight trying to seal spots on the lineup). The other goals came from blissfully unlikely sources - Kirk Maltby with two and Chris Chelios with the third. It's always great to see the Eurotwins put on a show like they have been, but games like this that prove our scoring depth are a big relief and will prove to be a big asset to the team.
Coyotes blogger Tracy was texting me from the game, which she attended despite the Coyotes jacking up prices for Wings games, the last of which was "Now I cower at your team's feet." That's what I like to hear.
There are whispers of Igor Grigorenko getting the call up for the Wings soon, and the belief is that Downey would be the one sent back to Grand Rapids, especially after the way Ellis has been playing so far this season. I have to agree with Matt from On the Wings on this one:
"Quite frankly, I’d rather the Wings keep him. Downey, along with Ellis, brings an energy to this team that Grigorenko seems incapable of providing."I'll hold judgment until I see Grigorenko's play of late (I was hoping to catch a Griffins game before this call-up, but I don't think I'll be able to make until November 1st), but it seems like a shame to continue putting so much energy into Grigorenko, who is starting to feel like the guy given way too many chances because the team really wants him to work out.
The Wings' next game is Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks - bring it, Hannah!
For other, likely more in depth recaps, check out:
- Charter Cable seems to have Center Ice functioning now, at least in my area. I called yesterday (why no, I haven't been calling every day for the past few weeks) and was met with an "Oh! We do have that now!". Not only are they carrying it, but so long as you ask, they're crediting subscribers' accounts with $20 for the discount that Center Ice was giving if you ordered the programming early enough in the season. I even managed to talk my way into prorating so the three weeks of games we missed don't end up costing me anything. Good luck to anyone else still trying to get it! I watched the Oilers/Flames yesterday and was treated to a spectacular shot of Ales Hemsky looking around after getting, well, smushed. It was worth all that pain.
- The WMU Bronco Hockey Team swept Bentley College this weekend, winning 5-2 Friday and 3-2 yesterday evening. Sophomore goalie Riley Gill looked outstanding and had the whole crowd bowing to him more than a few times. The kid is hot. Next weekend the boys are off to Niagara for a series there - let's hope this keeps up, as we're now 2-0 on the season and undefeated including the exhibition game against Windsor.
19 October 2007
Wings 4, Sharks 2
Edit 7:22AM Sat.: I'm not sure how I forgot this the other day, but I think the most important thing to be gleaned from this game is that I never need to hear "Joe Thornton's going to feed him a juicy one from back there" ever ever again.
Sorry this is late - I was iffy on staying up for the game at all since I had a monster Japanese test this morning, and even after I decided I would I was stymied by my computer overheating midway through the second and wrecking all my game notes to that point. And because of that, sorry if this is a little choppy - if I miss anything, Chisty (here at Winging it in Motown) and Matt (here at On the Wings) have my back, I'm sure.
We were told at the beginning of the game that despite the buzz about injuries to Nick Lidstrom (ribs) and Henrik Zetterberg (hip flexor), both would be playing - good news for us, especially since Zetterberg went on to continue his point streak at 8 games - a career best for him.
The first period was frustrating, and looked a bit bleak, with a penalty right off the bat leading to Mike Grier scoring the first goal and giving the Sharks their only lead of the night. The penalties continued and the wings spent 6 minutes on the PK in the first period, but the worst penalty-related issue of the game was the non-call on Kyle McLaren and his dumb yellow visor, who rode Dallas Drake into the boards before he even touched the puck. Drake immediately left the ice and was taken to the dressing room at the end of the game. He didn't return, and will be tested today to see just what the extent of he injury is. McLaren made his presence known again later in a fight with Aaron Downey, who's quickly becoming popular in Detroit. The announcers commented that it was nice to see him take his helmet off to make it a fair fight - something we've been seeing a bit too little of lately. Downey ends up shirtless in the penalty box (hmm, I don't think "Aaron Downey shirtless" is going to garner too may google hits yet...but I'll restate it just the same), and we're treated to an example of just how easily the new RBK jerseys do indeed tear. We're informed that "The Wings do carry an extra set of jerseys on the road...we think." Well they did - apparently they learned from Ottawa's mistake.
It was a good night for Red Wings defense, with Nik Kronwall notching his first goal of the season to tie the game at one, Brian Rafalski picking up three assists on the evening, and Andreas Lilja even playing well - maybe he's heard the buzz about his actions as of late, because he certainly showed up, making two great shot-blocking plays and later on taking a really good penalty. Related to defense, Chris Osgood continues to look phenomenal - he looked extremely confident, coming far out of the net to play the puck a number of times, and stopped 23 of 25 shots including a few stand-out saves yet again, and has looked better thus far than Dominik Hasek, who is a notoriously slow starter and will hopefully pick his form back up soon.
The top line of Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Tomas Holmstrom continued its dominance, being responsible for two goals, the second and fourth. Their combined numbers this season? 13G, 19A and a +/- of 17. The third line also looked strong last night, despite Draper's goal streak coming to an end, but the second line - the Money Line, though I haven't heard them called that lately, of Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler, and Tomas Kopecky needs to step it up. Filppula was projected to have a great season this year, but so far hasn't put any points up - as mentioned by the announcers (complete with a nice little squiggly line graph of just where his shooting lanes were), he needs to stop looking for the pass and shoot the puck more. Maybe he needs to have a chat with Ales Hemsky? He did get a really nice chance, but the goalpost denied him. "What does this kid have to do," the announcers asked, "to pick up a goal?" You and me both. The other goal came from the unlikely source of Matt Ellis, who captained the Grand Rapids Griffins this year (Kopy gave a nice interview on how Ellis used to yell at him and Hudler for playing ping-pong in the locker room before games). It was his first NHL goal, and Hudler scooped the puck out of the net for him to keep - no hard ping-pong feelings, I suppose.
Overall the game was good, despite the sketchy first period - both teams looked good, there was a substantial amount of scoring, some nice plays, and a fair share of scrums and pileups, and it ws great to see the Wings dominance of the Sharks continue past last season's playoffs.
The next game is against Phoenix Saturday evening at 10:00 PM. It's Homecoming weekend at Western and I have to work hockey tonight, football tomorrow afternoon, and volleyball in the evening, so I might not get a chance to see most of it. As always, BtJ, On the Wings, and Gorilla Crouch will have any news I can't get to. Tracy of True Coyote Love will be covering the game from the other side of the pond - hey Tracy, we're coming for you!
Around the League...
- The nhl.tv feature has been an interesting new addition to all the teams' websites, even if it's very hit or miss. (CapsChick has a great preview of highlights and lowlights). Of course I checked out the Wings' and more specifically the video highlights of practice the day of Henrik Zetterberg's (who does, all you google searchers, appear shirtless along with Nick Lidstrom - come on guys I'm just trying to get you to try for things that aren't "Rod Brind'Amour's girlfriend") birthday. Kris Draper nailing him with shaving cream is great, but the best part of the video in my opinion comes from the follow exchange between Chris Osgood and Kirk Maltby:
- Osgood: It's Hank's birthday? Pav and Hank? Pav's going to dance for Hank 'cause they're in love.
- Maltby: Well if one celebrates, the other's gonna - they're the Eurotwins!
- Osgood: Pav and Hank are going to dance to Total Eclipse of the Heart.
- So I know there was a big (and rightfully so) hullabaloo about just how amazing it was that Kevin Weekes felt the need to include porno music on his website (why does his guy have a website?) when it was first discovered, but now I'd like to invite you all to check out the man's new pads. Um. What? Seriously?
- And speaking of players with their own website, Zetterberg's store is now open, full of lots of expensive black clothes, red T-shirts and sweatshirts, and free posters bearing intense photos of the guy. But someone tell me, where's my I (heart) Hank shirt?
- Elly's going to be away for the weekend yet again. She told me to mention "a different" Penguin. I'm working on it.
18 October 2007
While perusing the recaps from the Penguins faithful, I went (after reading the gut-wrenching recap by the Pensblog. Nobody does the angry, die-hard Penguins fan, with by the balls recaps like the Pensblog does) to Empty Netters and was delighted to see that our dear HLOG sisters Pookie and Schnookie were featured for a lovely email they wrote about their trip to the Igloo for the game. Way to go, ladies, and I'm glad to hear that the Pens fans were respectful! Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip.
On a slightly related note, I went to Toronto this past week to visit my friend, Beth, and go see the Pens play the Leafs on Saturday night. Now, a quick recap of the game basically consisted of me looking, and failing to find, any Pennsylvania plates on the 401, crying over the unfairness of life and the world in general when they called Sabourin in net, and being one of about twenty Penguins fans in attendance, and therefore being subjected to many the odd look and whispered mutterings.
I have never been to the ACC before, and although I have been to Mellon when the Leafs came to visit (and boy, did they ever visit), the Leafs fans have always been a bunch of good-natured, if loud and boisterous, group. Perhaps this is because I usually attend Leafs games in the company of Beth, who has been a Leafs fan for some time (rumor has it 'Go Leafs Go' were the words she greeted the doctor with, fresh from the womb), but they have never given me much trouble aside from the random cat-call and rowdy challenge towards the Pens.
Well, this changes north of the border.
I had a good time, and the fans were mostly polite, but I thought that a fan clapping when Armstrong got a puck to the chops, and (perhaps the same fan) a call of 'that's what you get for Eric Cole!' in the dead silence that followed Orpik's nasty hit into the boards, was uncalled for. Yes, we've all done that one cheer, that one ribbing, that we wish we could take back, but I have never been happy about someone being injured on the ice. Joke about it after? Maybe. Do I really want someone to get hurt? No. I don't know these people from Jack, and aside from pissing off the dejected Penguins fan in me, they have done nothing wrong to me personally other than being good at their job. Not even Sean Avery deserves that.
On the whole, I enjoy Leafs fans. They are rowdy, they cat-call, but they always bring a good time to their games (if sometimes a bit too much of a good time). On my final word on this subject, I will illustrate probably one of the most amusing, and insulting, interactions I've ever had with opposing team's fans:
Beth and I were walking outside the ACC down the side of the building, post-game. I walked proud and tall in my Malkin jersey, ignoring the looks from the bitter Leafs fans along the sides while Beth, I am sure, contemplated feeding me to the homeless bum across the street. As we walked, we passed a group of about 4 or 5 teenage Leafs fans. They immediately lit into me, calling out ribs and jokes about my team, but in a funny, teasing way. I smiled and walked by, then turned around and said, 'Wait,' they stopped, like the polite Ontarians they were, 'who won the game?' I then smiled and turned around to the laughter of the surrounding Leafs fans, who obviously could take a clean joke. The boys started right back up again, calling and saying so many things I couldn't understand them, only the general 'Pens suck' tone of it.
Now, during this time, Beth and I walked up, and back, a total of about 5 to 7 minutes...and they kept at it the entire time. I was impressed, really, but as we were walking back by (to shouts of, 'hey miss, miss! Burn that jersey!') they apparently hit a low blow:
They shouted at me to name three players on my team.
Now, this isn't a big deal, normally, but what gets my goat is that they were labeling me as a female fan who didn't know her hockey, just because I was wearing the sweater of a popular team (and presumably not responding to their earlier taunts). I did not hear them do this, I was informed about it hours after by Beth, who was surprised I didn't kill them. If I had heard them, I just might have. I would ask, 'Is this something common? Do people really stereotype when they see a girl in a Penguins, or any other team's, jersey?' which of course, the answer would be yes. I do it. Beth does it. Hell, I bet Sidney Crosby does it (and he has reason to be afraid of the girls in the sweaters, I'm sure), but that doesn't mean I have to like it, or think it's a good thing to do. I try to combat the urge to shake my head at the pretty girl in the Crosby shirt, but it's a hard thing to do when wearing 87 is more of a fashion statement than a team support method.
My favorite part of this? Beth's response to those pimply blue and white lovers, 'Oh yeah? Name three of yours.'
Moo-stache count for Talbot: 4 goals in 5 games. Go Max!
And, of course, go Pens.
EDIT: Forgot to mention that I added some new links to the sidebar now that I'm catching up on blogging. Does anyone else find that there are more and more solid, reliable, and interesting blogs out there than there were last season?
17 October 2007
Yeah, good times. Apparently TSN also remembers, and brought me this little gem on the sidebar stats this morning:
'On Tuesday, the Flyers beat the Thrashers 4-0. The win was the Flyers fourth of the season. They didn't win their fourth game last season until November 15.'
Where are those Flyers now? First game with those jerks is on November 7th. Let's hope they bring last year's game.
In random Penguins news, Talbot loves his facial hair. I love his three goals so far. There is lots of love all over.
Not for Charter Cable though.
Pens v Devils (finally, a game, and a divisional game at that), home at 7:30.
16 October 2007
This is a little bit of a diversion from the normal hockey ranting as I am asking for help.
Help with what, you might ask? Well, according to a lady at Charter, the only cable company in my area, they will not be offering Centre Ice this year. Why not order it online? Well, for some reason that the techies can't figure out, streaming online video doesn't work on my computer. The streaming radio doesn't either, so Mike Lange is out as well.
Aside from my (and Steph's, since she is also a victim of Charter) righteous anger over this (I had to wait an hour before writing this post), I am also out of options, which brings me in a long-winded manner to my point: Does anyone have any ideas/other options/mafia connections that could help a college student get hockey? For that matter, what are the ways that people watch hockey? Do you go to the bar? Are you lucky and able to watch it locally? Hockey Night in Canada?
In a slightly different and less frustrated and raging vein, one of my favorite bands, the Dropkick Murphys, are the NHL's band of the month.
The Murphys are great sports fans of the Boston persuasion, and if you haven't heard their hockey song, 'Time to Go', have a few incarnations of it courtesy of youtube:
To start off, the only Bruins-ish version I could find on youtube. Really, Boston fans? The only one?
A video illustrating my take on the chorus 'go go black and gold'.
Something a little different. Warning, there are a bit of spoilers in this video for Resident Evil 4 if you know what you're looking at.
I'd wear that hat.
Go Pens. Hopefully some day I'll be able to watch you play, Penguins.
I'll even type so that it's in a sort of box-like shape and add color.
And maybe tomorrow morning Blogger will have gotten its act together.
But as I have to work at 8:30 I don't feel like fighting it at the moment.
During the Red Wings Live pregame show, John Keating made the comment, "If Anaheim is the City of Angels, tonight's lineup is heavenly." (I know, I cringed too.) Unfortunately the way the game panned out it didn't look like there were many angels on either side of the ice - the entire game devolved into alternating powerplays and penalty kills, which made for a pretty exciting game, but not necessarily the outcome I was hoping for.
The Ducks struck first as Kent Huskins got away from Valtteri Filppula who looked rather shaky tonight in general - he's had a rough start to the season (0G, 0A, +1) after proving last year that he has the potential to make a strong impact on the team. Shortly after the Wings tied it up thanks to Kris Draper, who extends his goal streak to five games. Unfortunately, the Ducks weren't done, and nailed us again on a five on three. At the very end of the first period, I looked away for thirty or so seconds, and when I turned back there were three penalties and the Ducks were on the powerplay yet again - seems to be the story of the game.
The Wings' defense looked a little lacking tonight as well - for a good portion of the evening they looked more like they were reacting than going out and making plays, definitely not a smart way to play against a dangerous team like the Ducks. Especially, as every broadcaster will tell you fifteen or sixteen times, now that they've recovered from their strenuous season start.
At the start of the second things started looking up - the announcers got a bit ahead of themselves at first ("Datsyuk SCO - oh wait did that not go in?") - but the Wings rallied to tie the game off of a goal by Zetterberg and one by Brian Rafalski that looked as if it could have been tapped in by Zetterberg as well. Following that frenzy, Zetterberg played like a man possessed, and only by the grace of Ilya Bryzgalov (who looked great tonight) did he not score about five consecutive goals. He did score what would have been another goal on a wide open net, but it came after a whistle and was discredited immediately Even without those, he extends his point streak and continues to lead the league with fourteen points thus far - "After a while you just lose superlatives don't you?", say the announcers. Yeah, you do.
Unfortunately, what looked like it could have been a brilliant comeback fell short when Earl Sleek's favorite Sammy Pahlsson notched a shorthanded goal that took the Ducks up once again, and they never looked back, scoring two more (one an empty netter) before the game ended. At least Corey Perry's on one of my fantasy teams.
Despite the end result, the Wings didn't look bad tonight either - in the third period they crushed the Ducks 15-2 with regard to faceoffs, and Draper is pushing 70% on his draws. The Eurotwins weren't as visible as they were in yesterday's game, but they still come on strong - the momentum turned for the Wings in the second as a direct result of their efforts. At one point Pavel Datsyuk even got into a little scuffle and lost his helmet.
Interestingly, at one point Andreas Lilja held the puck behind the net for what seemed like honestly forever - and the Ducks fans started booing him. Shouldn't you guys still be happy about what he did for you last season? And what he proceeded to do about thirty seconds later? I wonder if we'll be seeing Derek Meech step in for him on a trial basis sometime soon - Lilja's errors are starting to rack up consequences.
And on the topic of Ducks fans - what exactly is it they're yelling out there? The Honda Center is loud enough, but when it comes right down to it, it sounds like what they're yelling is something along the lines of "LET'S SKLJFLKNEWRNCKKKAFFFAO..asdf..fdlii...kkkkszhhh". Uhhh. I know "Let's go Ducks" might not really work that rhythmically, but take a cue from the Leafs and try on "Go Ducks Go" maybe?
Last but definitely not least, Captain Elbows, where were you tonight? I was looking forward to hearty Pronger-booing, but he didn't even do anything more offensive than get some yucky close-ups. Yeah I said it. Yucky.
Next up, the last of the California bunch this Thursday!
14 October 2007
Having missed the last Wings game due to work (well, that's a lie, I came home just in time to see Robert Wing Killer notch the game winner, but let's forget about that), and not been able to catch anything else recently because, well, Charter you still suck, I finally got to sit down tonight and catch the Wings take on the Kings in the start of their first Western road trip of the year.
This particular road trip was a scary one last season, wherein the Wings dropped three of four games and couldn't score more than one goal in any of those losses. Unfortunately, the one team they did beat was the Kings, in the first matchup of the trip - but let's try not to think about that either.
Going into tonight, the Wings had won thirteen of their past fourteen games against the Kings - a nice feel-good stat that made me even feel good about Chris Osgood getting the start tonight. Luckily that stat has improved to fourteen of fifteen, and Ozzie had a brilliant evening. Midway through the first period he made a flurry of amazing saves where just about every player on the ice was swarming his crease, and kept it up all night long, absolutely robbing Michael Cammalleri, who did eventually net the only Kings goal, at least twice.
The Kings goalie of the evening, Jonathan Bernier, looked pretty solid for the first few minutes, only fumbling the puck once on a second one-timer from Lilja (lucky goalie; he held onto the puck with a little bounce-move that if he'd stumbled over would have almost definitely been a goal, as there were two or three Wings waiting there to tap it in), and even looked all right after recovering from the tag team Eurotwins PP goal. Unfortunately for him, he started to crumble a little a after Kris Draper, who is currently red hot, notched a shortie on him after he went down too early and couldn't move across the net fast enough to stop it.
With those two, the Wings started the game off with a 2-0 lead, the first , which has been a scary number for them lately - and after Andreas Lilja took an untimely penalty that gave the Kings (who had scored seven PP goals to this point) a two man advantage for twenty second, allowing Cammalleri to move the Kings within one, it looked like that might be the case again. Luckily for us, the hero line of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Tomas Holmstrom decided they weren't standing for that. Despite Babock's goal, at the start of the season, to keep the duo of Datsyuk and Zetterberg on seperete lines, injuries to Johan Franzen and Mikael Samuelsson have forced them back together - and what a show they are. Holmstrom scored a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal that proved he's not only a grinder and that he can work with finesse sometimes too, putting one right past Bernier to lift the Wings ahead by two again, and Zetterberg added the fourth shortly after on a brilliantly patient wraparound play. Datsyuk assisted on both, bringing their totals for the night as a line to 3G, 5A. Think that's impressive? Individually on the season their numbers look like this:
- Datsyuk: 1G 6A
- Zetterberg: 4G 8A
- Holmstrom: 5G 2A
They weren't the only three making an impact tonight - in the first period Babcock ran the gritty line of Dallas Drake, Matt Ellis, and Aaron Downey, inserted with the injury to Samuelsson, quite a bit, and the Money Line (two Czechs and a Finn!) from last year of Val Filppula, Jiri Hudler, and Tomas Kopecky were together for a good chunk of the night. None of them broke onto the scoresheet, but Babcock commented that they were effective in the postgame.
While the game was enjoyable, I was disappointed with the lack of Jack Johnson, having been excited to see him again after watching him play my WMU Bronco's with U of M last season. I only even heard his name twice! Hey Kms2, where was your boy tonight?
Last night was the first game of the season for my WMU Broncos - well, an exhibition game to be precise, but exciting nonetheless. They took on the U of Windsor Lancers, and while they got off to a 0-2 start, they rallied with the help of freshman Max Campbell who led the team with two goals and an assist and ended up winning 5-2. Considering we lost our number one rookie from last year, Mark Letestu, to the WBS Penguins, seeing someone step up to that role was a relief.
As usual the game was a good time - between Jeff LoVecchio chatting with us from the penalty box and helping us cheer on Frank the Tank and Jonathan Lupa getting a game ejection for a great fight, the season started off great.
- Elly told me to mention the Penguins while she's off in Ontario. So could Ty Conklin look a little more ridiculous in this year's Baby Pens roster shot? (Oh and the Pens won with what looks to have been a good 6-4 showing at the ACC yesterday night, too.)
- Petr Hemsky, forgotten brother of Ales (read: he failed out of the OHL), scored the game winning goal 4:59 in to overtime for his current team Srnsi Kutna Hora (home of the Sedlac Ossuary - possibly the coolest thing I saw in the Czech Republic). Way to do something, other Hemsky!
- Looks like Jason Smith really does love his Timmy's - and also like he's very disinterested in, well, Lupul's existance.
- Some sports recap of some football game (yeah, I was paying a LOT of attention to my TV) just used the phrase "He throws like Ernest Hemingway writes." Best. Sports metaphor. Ever.
09 October 2007
Having just gotten off the phone with the fine people at Charter Communications yet again, I've learned that the reason they are not yet offering Centre Ice is because they haven't finalized their contract with the NHL. Um, big news right, we all knew that. The girl I talked to today was actually helpful, however, and informed me that apparently the hangup is over the NHL wanting them to bundle the NHL Network with Centre Ice, thus increasing the price, and Charter doesn't like this plan. (So, do we all start blaming Bettman instead of Charter? Better yet can I blame Chris Pronger?)
Personally, hey, if they did it, I'd go for it. But as it stands, they're still arguing the details. Hang in there guys, we'll have hockey...eventually. You know. Maybe by the playoffs.
08 October 2007
Thanks to work and night class I've missed two of the three Red Wings games thus far - and thanks to Charter extreme demonstration of failure, I still don't have the necessary Center Ice to watch anyone else's games, either. Needless to say, I'm feeling rather restless and hockey-deprived. A lot, however, has still been going on in the league:
- The Wings started off the season with a shootout win against the Anaheim Ducks which I did see - if I had to hear "the Ducks are just tired from their trip overseas" one more time I might have puked. They followed this up with a a shootout loss against the Blackhawks, and an regulation victory against the Oilers this evening. Henrik Zetterberg leads the team with seven points already. Meanwhile, the first injury of the year has struck, as Johan Franzen is out three to four weeks with a knee injury.
- This evening's game against the Oilers was interesting in that both Oilers goals came from former students of Michigan Colleges. Shawn Horcoff, who went to Michigan State University notched the first one, and Andrew Cogliano, whose U of M boys played my Western Michigan Broncos quite a few times last year and whom I yelled many an expletive at, potted the second.
- On the topic of players returning to old homesteads, Saturday night Jason Smith returned to Edmonton for the first and only time this year. The Oilers, the fans, and Craig MacTavish himself gave him a warm welcome in the form of a really nice tribute and a standing ovation that definitely had the gritty ex-captain sniffling. We miss you, Gator.
- This Sunday afternoon I was subjecting myself to the Lions game when the announcers happened to make a comment to the extent of "Look at the injury reports per week after three or so hockey games and compare it to the injury report after just one football game" - the goal seems to have been to insist that football is indeed the rougher sport withthe more devastating injuries. Perhaps the NFL doesn't much appreciate those Dallas Stars billboards?
- NHL.com's frozen moment today is one of those really beautiful shots of Roberto Luongo in the stands from last season.
- The Oilers' new roster photos are up - and a 300% improvement on last year's. Even my favorite chronically far from photogenic Ales Hemsky looks adorable this year! The Wings, however, have yet to get on the ball, except with....Dan Cleary? Huh.
- The Grand Rapids Griffins faced off with the Erie Monsters this past Saturday as well, facing off against NHL goalie Jose Theodore on a rehab assignment. The Griffins managed to win 3-2 which...well, I'll let that speak for itself. (I'd also like to point out the cheesy inclusion of "Jose, can you see" as the tagline for the event on the Griffins website.)
05 October 2007
This is a bit off the beaten track here, but I thought I'd relate a quick story so others would not be completely screwed like I was and continue to be.
I ordered Center Ice, had someone come and install the cable box today, only to turn it on at game time, Pens sweater on and Blue in hand, to find that it wasn't available. Now, I have the worst luck with it comes to things like this, so after 15 frustrating minutes of fiddling with the damn thing I called my cable company thinking that a moose fell on the transformers or something (because that is a possibility) and they told me that Center Ice wasn't available for purchase yet because they haven't signed a contract with the company. They didn't know when it would be available, and no, there would not be any notification.
So, for everyone out there with Charter cable or any other afflicted companies, don't buy it yet! I didn't see any notice on nhl.com or cable sites, so if there one, forget this notice, but don't waste your money yet!
Just on a personal note, my computer refuses to play nhl material. Nothing through the online preview, game radio, or yahoo.com, and apparently it is such a bad problem that the tech support people need to contact their reps in New York. Great. I'm going to try the Pensblog cure next. If it wasn't for the kind play-by-play of Teka, I wouldn't have gotten through tonight, although perhaps with the spanking Carolina dolled out, it might have been better to live in ignorance. Thank you, Teka!
Tomorrow is a different day.
03 October 2007
This should tell everyone how busy I've been: I had no idea that the 2007-2008 season opened tonight.
Who's up tonight:
Montreal at Carolina
Anaheim at Detroit
Ottawa at Toronto (this should be good)
Dallas at Colorado
The only two I'd really care to see are Montreal and Ottawa, and since CBC is neglecting both of them, I'm screwed (since the season opens for the Pens on Friday, that's the date I'm marking on the calender anyhow). It would be nice to see how they both come out in the beginning, especially since the Pens are going to have a bit of bad blood for both teams (Montreal a bit more deeply, which is looking like a nice up and coming rivalry).
Will I be doing a season preview? No. If you haven't seen it already, nhl.com has a cookie-cutter look at the Pens, but the best one so far has to be courtesy of the Pensblog. It captures a bit of what it's like to be a Pens fan: the nausea, the heart break, the wracking sobs, the trips to the ER after beating yourself unconscious with an empty pizza box after watching particularly stroke-inducing games. It's interesting to think about what a difference a year makes: this time last October the only news you read about the Penguins were tentative hopes about Malkin's recovery, and a recap of the dismal season past, if you could find anything at all on them. Now, Sidney, and the reported 'Big Five' (who comes up with this stuff?) in the form of Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Whitney, and Fleury, are splashed everywhere alongside words like 'contenders' and 'Stanley Cup'...not something fans have been treated to reading since the 90's (not unless it was followed by 'lacking' and 'not again for 20 years'). Someone even mentioned 'dynasty'. While I am thrilled that there is so much attention being paid to such a wonderful and deserving team, isn't that a bit premature? Let's make it past the first round of the playoffs and we'll see. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that this team is going to be something to watch in the ensuing years (and just imagine Crosby in 5 years, hell, in 2 years....if that. Screw it, imagine him now, here in this season. Euphoric), just no bragging. Yet.
On a slightly different vein, I have scrapped my giant women's' rights in hockey rant that has been sitting on my computer for a week and a half in an effort to stop beating a slightly wobbly, if not dead, horse, but I'd still like to just say a few quick words on the Penguins upcoming 'Hockey in Heels' event scheduled for female fans.
I'm trying to keep an open mind, and the activities for the event, which range from a sitting with the author of that book, Lisa Ovens, seems genuinely interesting, and I wouldn't mind a full encompassing tour of the Igloo, but I fear it may be sending the wrong message to both male and female fans. The Capitals did something very similar earlier, and as well as tour they gave a Q and A session with a few players, a nice touch, but after that was a 'hockey 101' lecture about what icing and off-side calls mean, and then an on-ice lesson in hockey. Oh, did I mention the door prize of a cosmetic bag? It's nice that they are trying to reach out to more fans with internal genitalia, but doing so in this way seems insulting and degrading for women fans and is possibly geared more towards the stereotypical female hockey fan of today = a woman with little to no hockey knowledge that is more interested in players stretching than a play on the ice. Would you include a talk on what the neutral zone is to a room full of male hockey fans? No. If you did, I'd bet money that they would find it insulting, why should women fans feel any different? We don't need our hands held through games, thank you.
I know I'm generalizing a bit, but why assume that women would want a cosmetics bag at a hockey arena? Besides, I've seen women in heels at hockey games: they fall down. Give us more of the Q and A sessions, a look at how plays are reviewed and come up with, players and trainers routines for getting in shape or how they choose their equipment (styles, companies, that sort of thing). How do they train? What do they work on to become the top-quality players they are today? Hell, let us talk to the Zamboni driver about ice quality and thickness! But please, remember that while we do view sports in general a bit differently, that doesn't mean we don't have the ability to understand it's intricacies as men do.
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, there is but one thing to say:
02 October 2007
Jason Smith, a favorite hockey personality and gritty D-man formerly of the band once known as the Edmonton Oilers, was traded this offseason, along with paper weight Jeoffrey Lupul, to the Philadelphia Flyers. Try as I might to ignore this tragic piece of news and hope to be able to blank out Smith donning the puke orange and black, fate seems to have other plans.
Meet Jason Smith, captain of the Flyers.
While I am very happy for Smith, who was an excellent captain, a little piece of me died reading that. (link, and terrible news, courtesy of my favorite bearer of bad news: Steph) Not only do I just like Smith as a player and leader, but he's actually a good leader...which means that the Flyers will now be benefiting from his leadership instead of free-falling deeper and deeper into the depths of the Eastern Conference as I prefer.
In other, less whiny news, TSN has a nice article on just some miscellaneous questions and issues put to another captain: Pittsburgh's. Very much in the style of a press-conference, but not bad. One interesting tidbit: it seems as though the NHL wants to continue on their 'let's bring the NHL to places in Europe!' kick by scenting the wind with the Pens and the Lightning in Prague next year. I hear Prague is nice (ask Steph), and they do love hockey, but does it have to be the Lightning? Just the way to start off the season: with Tampa Bay somehow beating up the Pens overseas.
It's down to the wire now: Friday is the first (Pens) game. The cable man is coming at noon to install my Center Ice. Hockey is in the air.