Friday, October 29, 2010

All Thing Hockey 2010-2011; Edition 1

(Wait, is that…)
(Oh damn, I think it might be)
(Yeah it definitely is)
(That must be…)
THAT’S THE SOUND OF ALL THINGS HOCKEY, BABY!  Damn, it feels good to be back.
I have to be honest, this offseason didn’t seem to drag on quite like some have in the past, in fact it felt like it went by fairly quickly, but that is for the best.  Hockey is in full swing, and, luckily, it is still freaking awesome (good news!).  There is a lot to get to, and my dad thinks that these were always too long last year anyways, so let’s get right into it. 

BACK IN THE USSR (and Germany, Sweden, the UK, and the Czech Republic)

(First things first:  No I will not stop using the same Beatles reference every time that Russia is involved.  Glad we cleared that up.)
Hockey is truly a global game.  With increasing numbers of players and fans coming from overseas, the season openers in Europe are an ample opportunity for the NHL to reach out to this fan base.  It is great to see the league tapping this resource in the age of globalization and ensuing a worldwide fan base going forward, because after all, the days as America as the end all be all of major sports will not go on forever.  Look at the premier league or the champions league in soccer.  They are based out of…
Yeah.  I can’t do this.  Sorry.
I hate the NHL opening on the old continent.  There are so many things I hate about it.  I hate that it means that the teams traveling have 40 home games rather than 41.  I hate that the Sharks opener started at like 12:30 PM on a weekday.  I really hate that it means that the Sharks home opener is 13 days, an entire Cuban missile crisis, after the opening day of the season.  I hate that it is impossible to tell if the games overseas are exhibitions or regular season games.  I hate that it means that I only get to see the Blue Jackets come to San Jose one time (just seeing if you are still paying attention).  I hate that the teams have to ‘defend the honor of the NHL’ or whatever, against DEL and KHL teams, just days before they start an 82 game schedule.  I just hate the whole thing.  Did I mention that I hate it?  Because I hate it. 
The whole thing is pointless, too.  Are we really going to hook a generation of Swedes or Czechs because there was a single regular season game in Stockholm or Prague?  Of course not.  And the stadiums (at least in Sweden) were half full at best.  (THIS IS WHY OBAMA MUST BE STOPPED!  SOCIALISM CANNOT SUPPORT PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY! )  God, it just makes no sense to go this far out of our way to play games in front of foreign ECHL crowds. 
Really, the only games that were somewhat interesting were the SKA-Carolina game, and the San Jose-Manheim game.  Even though it wasn’t quite full speed, it was interesting to see the NHL teams go up against the Euros.  Fine.  Keep them, and if you want, send multiple teams, and you can even have games over there between NHL teams.  But do it in September, and make them exhibitions.  This is dumb.

Jersey Short, A Situation

Best. Title. Ever.

Anyways, the Devils went into a couple of games already this year with just 15 players dressed.  The most important thing to take away from this is that it is freaking hilarious.  The Devils messed up their cap so badly (while losing their best defenseman), that they couldn’t afford to call someone up for league minimum for a couple of games.  Ha and ha. 
The part where people lose me, though, is when they suggest that somehow New Jersey has broken the rules, or that they should be punished.  This is ridiculous, first and foremost because it is not a rule.  18 skaters is a limit, not a quota, so there is no way the league could actually take action.  As for if they should, playing with 15 players is a penalty in itself.  Is it cap circumvention?  Sort of, but it punishes itself, so there is no need to take action. 
Worst (or best, depending on your perspective) of all, is that the cap and roster issues may not even be the biggest problem in New Jersey.  The team is a mess.  After watching them in San Jose on Tuesday night, I remarked that I had never seen a team that looked better when you saw the names in warmups, and worse when you watched them on the ice.  They really are as bad as their record right now.  They have no chemistry, questionable team defense, and absolutely zero idea how they should use Kovalchuk.  My reaction was naturally that their new coach, John McLean is in over his head, and is lost with this team.  When I told this to people who might know about the situation, I was told that McLean isn't the problem.  Jersey has a weak blueline, an aging goaltender and forwards who can't get along (all things I should have seen).  That might be worse.  It is way easier to fix a coaching problem than a disfunctional roster.  
Before the season, I loved this Devils team, since they seemed to be extremely entertaining with a lot of skill, but without the backend to be a serious threat to win it all.  It turns out that they might not even be that. 


Obviously, if you ever have a hockey question or topic that you want me to address, you should email the blog at  I’m not sure why exactly you would direct a question at me, but nonetheless, I like responding to people, so please feel free.  More to the point, though, I am changing the way that I am doing Sharks games this year.  The last two seasons, I had 10 game ‘Shark Packs.’ This year, I’m going on a game by game basis.  My buddy picked up tickets to the second home game of the year, because when the Carolina Hurricanes come to town, you drop what you’re doing.  Then, we went to see the Kovalch- er, Devils last night. 
Anyways, moving forward, I am trying to figure out which games are worth throwing down for.  The Oilers and their awesome CHL team are a must.  The Penguins with Crosby and Malkin are an obvious one, and the Caps are another no brainer.  Beyond that, who else should I be looking for.  Send me teams that are worth seeing, and why.  Let’s get our democracy on.

Homer Note of the Weeks

What 4 Random People Would Say If They Cared About the Sharks (and agreed with me)

Drew Magary

Scott Nichol is terrible.  He is less equipped to play on an NHL team than I am to be a parent, which is not at all.  Seriously.  He is FUCKING TERRIBLE.  Watching him play makes me want to burn down planet fucking earth.  Goals?  No.  Assists?  No.  Dumb penalties?  Fuck and yes.  He is the Sharks version of superaids.

Upcoming Games

Sharks vs. Devils
Is there anything better than a shitty Devils team?  I say no.  Can you imagine if the Devils missed the playoffs in Marty McCheatonwifewithwifessister's  last season and he had to retire in April?  That would be awesome and my HEAD WOULD FUCKING EXPLODE.

Sharks vs. Ducks
I went to the cafe where I buy coffee while I’m at work today and I saw that they had a basket of cliff bars at the counter.  I’m in a big cliff bar guy, so without looking at what kinds they were I ordered one in addition to my coffee.  Imagine my dismay when I looked down and saw that my options were black cherry almond, raisin walnut and pecan pie.  PECAN FUCKING PIE!  What the fuck?  WHAT EXACTLY WOULD HAVE BEEN WRONG WITH CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER?  I have no use for your shitty nut/fruit combinations.

Sharks vs. Oilers
Reader Hambone:

Was Eve good looking?

That’s a solid fucking question.  Was Eve hot?  I bet Eve was hot.  And Adam totally hit that.  Nice.  Solid work by him.  That’s great hustle.

Bill Simmons

I was talking to my dad the other night about the Sharks playoff demons and he said that he had fallen asleep during all of the west coast games, which makes it absolutely obvious and self evident that the games need to be shorter.  Anyways, my buddy J-Bug and I agreed, that as Red Sox fans, we know everything that there is to know about losing and tortured franchises.  Usually, according to the VP of common sense, it takes a cosmic shift in the luck of a city for things to turn around.  Maybe the Giants and their awesome fan base, which keeps me interested in the baseball games even though they are too long becuase I’m 42 which is totally old and I fall asleep watching them at the same time as classic Larry 'basketball jesus' Bird games on NBA TV and St. Elmo’s fire after TMZ wraps up on VH1, can bring the Sharks some momentum in the playoffs this year.

Peter King

Sitting on the set of Football Night in America on Sunday, I put down my venti Half-caf mochachino turned to my friend Tony Dungy, and asked him what he thought about Joe Thornton’s captaincy so far.  Dungy thought (something self-righteous and blowhardy that no one really cares about, edited for space).  Once I was done being in awe of the fact that I know the great Tony Dungy, I thought about it myself while I was texting Keith Brooking, perhaps the best inside linebacker in the league, although he is old and slow and probably not as good as Brian Urlacher, Ray Lewis, Demeco Ryans and John Beasons, all of whom I am also friends with.  Here’s what I think that I might think that I may have thought about possibly considering thinking about Joe Thornton.
The captain has
1. The letter on the sweater which is
2. At this point mostly a token responsibility
a. because it is assigned by the coaches and
- not given from a vote by players, but
b. leadership is a more organic process
i. stemming from the room itself
ii. regardless of has the C.
3. And Joe has been a leader in the room for a while so I don’t think that a. it is going to be a problem, or b. it is that much of a change.

Don Cherry

Look at this good ol’ boy, Logan Couture.  That’s a Canadian for ya.  None of that dipsy doodle crap you see from a lot of the younger players in the game these days.  It isn't becuase he doesn't have the skill.  This is a blue collar guy.  And I tell ya what, HIS FATHER CHET IS A FIREFIGHTER BACK IN GUELF.  Boy, I tell yah, Ron, he must be a proud guy right about now.  (McLean opens his mouth and tries to say something, but is immediately cut off)  Look at Logan go to the net here.  Watch this here.  Where is the video?  I thought we had the video.  Oh, there it is.  Bam!  You think he plays like that because he doesn’t have the skill to dangle around the edges?  Of course not.  That’s how they taught em back in the London Knights.  Junior in the Ottawa 67s.  He knows that you have to go to the nitty-gritty to be a REAL hockey player.  If you want to score, you go to the net.  ATTA BOY LOGAN!

/(that was ridiculously fun and needs to become a running feature…)

Goal of the Week

Did I mention it is good to be back?  Because goal of the week reminds me that it is good to be back.  Ladies and gentlemen Jordan Eberle.

'The guy scores a couple of lucky goals in world juniors a couple of years ago, and first game he is looking off our captain on a 2-1.  It's pretty disappointing actually.

What else could it have been?

Pass of the Week
I thought that this was Zach Parise the first five times I saw it.  It is actually Danis Zubrus.  I blame the Devils jerseys for having 8 and 9 look the same with tucks.

New Feature; Quintessential Goal
I’m going to do something different this year, where I count down some of the best scorers in the league, and demonstrate how sick they are (scientific term used), by showing what I would consider their most typical awesome goal.  Is it because I feel like we need a definitive list of the best scorers?  No.  Because you need to know which of Ilya Kovalchuk’s 341 goals best exemplify him?  No.  It’s because when I put more videos of sick goals on here, nobody loses.  Except for goalies.  Goalies lose.  But that’s how we like it.

Top Tier


This exemplifies the Lightning star's rocket shot, and ability to make plays in traffic, serving as a good representation of his skill set.  


Ilya brings great speed, can make a move or two with his hands, but his shot is what makes him special.  While a quintessential goal would have been from the top of the circle, top glove with a wrister, this one is more fun.  It also is appropriate that rather than deak the goaltender or go low like 90% of the league would have, Ilya acts like a badass, which he is, and snipes to glove.  Sick. 


Ovechkin is about a combination of finishing creativity, and speed, all of which were on display here. 


Dude has the skill.  He has the hands.  He has the speed.  He knows when to go.  And he will never freaking quit.  You can't sum all of that up better than this play does.  It's why he is the best in the game.  

New Feature: Player Montage

Self explainitory…same logic as above.
Goals, hits, hardcore/punk music?  Yes please.

We'll start with the Cros.

Top 8 / Bottom Eight

This is a balancing act at the moment.  It is hard to determine to what extent results, and to what extent potential should be weighed.  Ultimately, this is leaning towards prediction, but certainly is influenced by what has happened so far.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins- They have the scariest roster, and 12 points through Wednesday morning, tied for second in the league. 
2. Vancouver Canucks- The results don’t quite bear this out with their 4-3-2 record, but Vancouver looks like a team that could put it together.
3. Detroit Red Wings-  God, I thought this might be the year that they were going to just go away.  I guess not.
4. Nashville Predators- Still unbeaten in regulation.
5.  Washington Capitals- They’ll figure it out…
6. San Jose Sharks- I defy anyone to claim that they aren’t a top 6 NHL team.
7. Montreal Canadians- Cary Price?  Really?  Ok.
8. Calgary Flames- 12 points, without an OT decision

23. Anaheim Ducks- 9 points, sure, but they have played a league high 10 games.
24. Buffalo Sabers- Just 7 points, also in 10 games.
25. New Jersey Devils- -18 goal differential can’t be ignored.
26. Phoenix Coyotes- If for no other reason than because I still don’t approve of Arizona.
27. Carolina Hurricanes- What do you mean they handled the #6 team at home?  They still totally suck.
28. Edmonton Oilers- Making me look bad, thus far.
29. Florida Panthers- Just…brutal.
30. Minnesota Wild- Woke up after a bag skate, but they don’t have the talent to hang.

Award Watch

This entire column is an exercise in futility, but even I won’t go as far as to pick the awards after about 9 games per team.

Shorter Hockey Thoughts

This has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever seen.  Either there is no point doing power rankings after 2 games, or they should be influenced fairly strongly by how you think teams are going to finish.  The Leafs at 4?  Really?  The Stars jumped 17 spots based on 2 games?  The Penguins down 20?  This is the very definition of pointless.

Who among us has not wanted to tell Sean Avery exactly what James Wizniewski did?  Ironically, I think that Colin Campbell has probably wanted to do that more than anyone.  (Wait, why am I defending Wizniewski?  God, why couldn’t they have just fought to the death or something?)

‘The Key to controlling the puck is to posses the puck.’  Kevin Weeks said that.  He actually had that thought, then decided that it would be a good idea, and a worthwhile practice, to look into a camera, and say that to America.  God, I’m glad he is here.

HE JUST DESCRIBED THE ANDY SUTTON INJURY AS ‘A HUGE HOLE IN THEIR BACK END!’ HE REALLY SAID THAT!  Was it intentional?  It had to have been intentional.  God, I hope he has no idea how funny that is, though.  That would make it ever better, if he had no idea.  I really am glad he is here now.

Me: (sees kid wearing a HILL shirt) did you go to Hill School in PA?
Him: Yeah
Me: (excited) Patty Riss!
Him:  What?
Me: (walks away, pissed that he doesn’t know who Patrick Rissmiller is)

Tyler Myers doesn’t look the same has he did last year.  Watching the Sabers, this is somewhat apparent.  He is getting beat more.  He is out of position more.  He is relying on his size and reach, not playing like a smaller player which is what made him so effective last year.  I wondered aloud about this to my buddy Austin, and wanting to see if I was imagining things, I looked his numbers up.  Don’t let the 3 point blasts fool you, Myers is a -9 on the season, just a brutal number.  Size is such a huge advantage on the point, and Myers has the skill set of a puck moving defenseman, something that you almost never see in a guy who is 6 foot 8.  For that reason, I thought he could control the Norris for the next few years. Something hasn’t clicked yet this season, though, and the Sabers need him to figure it out. 

While I’m not sure how they settled on lavender for breast cancer awareness (shouldn’t it have been pink, or are we just arbitrarily throwing out feminine colors now), but I liked what the Blue Jackets did by wearing them in warm-ups rather than just practices, as the Sharks have done (and other teams I’m sure, although those are the ones that I have seen).  Wouldn't the whole point of wearing the special practice jerseys be to get them seen?  Wearing them on gameday is way more effective to that end.

Looking Forward

I’m more intrigued by the teams at the bottom of the league right now than I am by the top.  I know that Toronto and Nashville aren’t two of the premier units.  But is New Jersey the worst?  Will Edmonton STOP MAKING ME LOOK BAD DAMMIT!  So, yeah, those are the two teams I’m going to keep an eye on.  And the Sharks, obviously.

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