Buffalo 2, Carolina 1 Final (OT)
This is as it should be.
If you aren't watching this game on Thursday, then you either A) have no soul B) are an irretrievable moron with no concept of what constitutes an entertaining sporting event C) don't get OLN (in which case, you're welcome to come over to my place*) or D) you are, perhaps, not a sports fan.
*Not really, though. If you show up at my apartment, I will probably call the police.
End of 3rd Period
Carolina-Buffalo, 16:09 3rd Period
Few things in the world annoy me more than fans in the front row at hockey games who feel compelled to bang on the glass. The preponderance of this phenomenon at HSBC Arena tonight is causing me to almost root for the Whalers, in spite of the fact that they are a division rival.
Carolina just tied it, by the way.
Not just for slapshots anymore
End of 2nd Period
Score still stands at 1-0 Buffalo. Still an exciting, physical, fast-paced game. I don't care if these are two small market teams, this is some of the most exciting hockey I've seen in a while.
Also, for those who wanted to know, I ultimately went with egg salad for dinner.
Carolina-Buffalo, End of 1st Period
Wow... great pace to this game. Buffalo is on fire.
It is exceedingly difficult to watch hockey with the melodious aroma of my roomate cooking his "top secret" barbecue sauce. I don't think I've ever smelled a more gorgeous smell in my life. I was going to fix myself a sandwich for dinner, but suddenly anything I could make pales in comparison to the big vat of amazing barbecue sauce sitting on the kitchen counter.
Happy Memorial Day
I can totally relate to this.
Ever since I was born, I have never gone a full NHL season without attending at least one Capitals game. Only one time did I ever come close to breaking this streak: In 1998, the Capitals entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs as a fourth seed and I figured the streak was bound to end, as I had no plans to attend any first round games (and since when do the Caps make it out of the first round?). Of course, the Caps just kept winning in the playoffs that year, and I will always believe that they did it specifically for the purpose of allowing me the chance to keep my streak alive. I finally got a chance to go to a game on June 2, 1998, Game 5 of the conference finals against Buffalo. A game the Caps lost 2-1. Having finally helped me to accomplish my task of attending a game during the 1997-98 season, they subsequently managed to win just one more game before being swept by the Red Wings in the franchise's only appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. To this day, there is still a part of me that hasn't forgiven myself for going to that game, as well as a part of me that considers never attending a Capitals game again. At least, not until they've at least won their first Stanley Cup.
Vindication at last
Ha! I knew someone must be reading this thing. Always nice to know somebody agrees with (or, at the very least, appreciates) my half-crazed obsession with wider ice rinks.
The Washington Nationals I knew and loved in 2005 seem to have finally returned to RFK Stadium, after capping off a 7-3 homestand to move to within nine games of .500 (They're also only ten games out of first). I'm excited to see how they'll do against the Phillies, ostensibly the second best team in the NL East.
Interesting note in the AP article regarding yesterdays game. "Nationals INF Matt LeCroy received a cortisone shot for his sore right elbow and is day to day." Could Frank be manipulating the media to protect the ego of his one time third string catcher?
Labels: Washington Nationals
A beautiful day for a hockey game
It was something like 80 degrees outside here in Washington. Perfect hockey weather, no?
Great game between the Whalers and Sabres that simply couldn't have done anything other than go to overtime. This series needs to go seven games.
Props to whoever was producing for OLN. Immediately after the game-winning goal, they cut first to a shot of 'Canes coach Peter Laviolette celebrating on the bench, and then to the penalty box just as the official was opening the door for J. P. Dumont. It was incredibly poignant (I thought). Very "thrill of victory, agony of defeat"-esque.
Life just gets in the way
I'm sure lots of stuff happened today. I missed all of it while attending my brother's high school graduation and then performing.
Congrats to the Oilers though. The fact that they are an eight seed has never even crossed my mind because they have been so good. I'm especially happy for Edmonton fans, who, from what I can tell on TV (as well as this), may be the best fans in the NHL.
Oh, the possibilties.
A modest proposal
The NHL needs to expand the ice surface. I know I just touched on this in my last entry, but I've done some of the math and I just don't see any reason not to.
Obviously, the main reason the league has yet to adopt the IIHF standard for rink size is the simple fact that all the rinks currently in use have already been built to NHL standards, and it would be costly (and probaly not possible in some cases) to refit 30 stadiums with larger rinks. Many people fail to realize, though, that the cost would be offset by the (in theory, at least) increased ticket sales resulting from a larger number of front row seats. By widening the rink by twelve feet and lengthening it by ten, the total increase in size of the perimeter of the rink would be 44 feet. Assuming that, at the front, there is one seat for every two feet along the boards (a pure guess, but it sounds right enough), that is an extra 22 front row seats. I once had the pleasure of recieving one of these VIP seats to a Capitals game, and the price printed on the ticket was staggering ($200 per seat). So let's do some quick math:
22 new seats x $200 x 41 home games = $180,400. Per year.
This is assuming there are no price increases, as well as assuming that the size of the second and third rows are not increased. Once you take into account that the people sitting in those front row seats are more likely to spend alot of money at the concession stands, the overall value of the increased rink size becomes even more apparent. Especially since I haven't even mentioned the playoffs yet, or the fact that the Capitals are toward the lower end of the league in terms of ticket prices. I would guess that the real financial benefit would be at least double that.
Four man hockey
Thanks to the ArmchairGM blogroll, I came across this.
Personally, I'm not a fan of going to four-on-four full time. But, reading that article, I feel like I could probably be swayed. There can be no question that blocked shots have been a recurring theme in this year's playoffs, and I hadn't noticed the so-called "Playing-Card Five" that was causing it.
Unfortunately, it'll probably never happen. First of all, the players union would likely never allow it, as I'm assuming that reducing the number of players on the ice also would mean reducing the number of players on the roster (I, on the other hand, am all for decreasing roster size to increase the average amount of talent on the ice at any given time). Second of all, I don't think Gary Bettman can be trusted to not screw up. It took him ten years and a season-cancelling lockout to finally adequately deal with the neutral-zone trap. I won't even mention the fact that expanding the size of the ice surface to standard international rules would open up the ice probably as much as taking a guy off the ice, because there's no way in hell Bettman will ever be able to pull that off (I'm not sure anyone could, in spite of the fact that a larger ice surface equals a larger perimeter equals more front row (i.e. $$$) seats).
Things that make you say "Huh?"
Jose Guillen of the Washington Nationals, left tonight's game against Houston because of an eye injury caused by his batting glove. Also, Nats catcher Wiki Gonzalez left the game with a concussion caused when he got hit in the head on an opposing batter's backswing.
Just as bizarre, I think, the Nationals won their fourth of their last five games. Rookie pitcher Mike O'Connor gave up just three hits and one run over six innings, lowering his ERA to 2.65.
Sabres 2, Whalers 1
I'm not going to lie and say I managed to catch anything that happened in tonights Carolina-Buffalo game. Therefore I have no insight or opinion, other than to say I'm sure it wasn't nearly as exciting as last night.
Instead, I'll simply spend some time waxing nostalgic about the best sports uniforms ever. Am I the only one who thinks so? Is it just because I like green so much?
What is wrong with you people?
Eight goals in the third period tonight in Edmonton. One of the most exciting hockey games I've seen in a long time. Yet, apparently no one saw it.
Sure, if you read Rovell's article, you might come away with a pretty dismal impression of the NHL's prospects for the future. Ratings a fraction of what they were two years ago; getting beaten in the ratings by poker. And the WNBA. The WNB freakin' A. All in spite of one of the most exciting playoffs the NHL has seen in a while. Looks pretty awful, right?
Sure, getting beat by the WNBA is pretty bad. Getting beat by poker may be even worse. But there are so many factors that affect this I don't know where to start. Let's put it this way: Imagine how the WNBA would do if all their games were aired on OLN, with half of those games running past midnight on the east coast. Ask yourself, which would you be more likely to stay up past midnight for: Los Angeles Sparks vs. Sacramento Monarchs or the San Jose Sharks vs. Edmonton Oilers. (Answer? Neither, probably, unless you're a die-hard hockey fan whose going to be awake anyway, like me.)
Ultimately, I sincerely doubt that the NHL will ever sink to the depths of the WNBA or Arena Football in the national sports consciousness. Obviously, not having games carried on the Worldwide Leader hurts, and the sport will never be on the same footing as the NFL, MLB or NBA. But the fact is, people who are hockey fans love hockey. People who are watching the WNBA or the AFL are generally people who just happen to like basketball or football and are just mildly interested or intrigued.
Compare and contrast
Dwayne Wade's shoe commercial:
And the response from an intrepid hockey fan (Foul language included):
Please note that the first clip in the Ovechkin video is from the time Ryan Whitney of the Pittsburgh Penguins delivered a hockey stick directly to Alex's *ahem* groin.
IHWC Update: Once more, with feeling
I have been exceptionally lax in my updates the past few days, due to the fact that my show opened this weekend. If you want to know what you missed, go to the the IHWC web site. All I'll tell you right now is that Sweden, this year's Olympic gold medalists, won the whole thing, becoming the first country to win the IHWC and Olympic gold in the same year.
Battle of the Beltway(s): Mascot Issues
Screech is bad enough. But during today's telecast of the Orioles-Nationals game, I also saw a bizarre looking big blue thing in a red, white and blue top hat. What the hell was that thing? Also, why was the O's mascot also at the game? That seems sort of silly.
My loyal reader(s) will notice a new feature on this here blog. There is now a little statistic on the left side of the page telling you how much my blog is worth. Currently: $0.00.
For comparison, the "value" of some of my favorite blogs (as well as some other notable blogs):
- Mark Cuban's Blog - $1,194,566.64
- Deadspin - $1,119,482.82
- The Mighty MJD - $115,730.70
- Ted's Take - $110,649.84
- Off-Wing Opinion - $103,310.82
- Capitol Punishment - $38,953.26
- DC Sports Chick - $12,984.42
Round 2 Round Up
Once again, I send you back to my playoff preview post (alliteration, heh) to help you understand what I'm talking about.
1) Enforcement: I feel like the officials have finally found a good balance. There have been an inordinate number of goaltender interference calls, but overall it seems like they are doing just enough to keep the flow of play at a new-NHL brisk pace, but without going overboard on the interference and obstruction calls. Some of this, I imagine, can be ascribed to the players' adapting to the way the refs have been calling it. Edmonton-San Jose was exactly the kind of playoff series I was afraid I might never see again in "myNHL".
2) OLN/NBC: Just keeps getting better. Hijacking the CBC feed for Edmonton games is the best thing to happen to ice hockey on TV in America since Fox stopped airing games.
3) Young guys: I had expressed some concern over the boom of young, inexperienced goaltenders coming into the playoffs. I even used goaltending experience as my criteria for picking the Finals, going with the two most battle-tested goalies in the bunch, Martin Brodeur and Mikka Kiprusoff. I am, apparently, not so good at the prognosticating. The four goalies still standing had a combined 16 playoff appearances between them. Which is a misleading stat, since all of those appearances belong to Dwayne Roloson of the Oilers (my new favorite to win it all, by the way).
4) Old guys: Are mostly gone at this point. The formula that is having alot of success is one or two older veteran guys (Rod Brind'amour in Carolina, Teemu Selanne in Anaheim) surrounded by younger, speedier guys. Teams centered around a large core of veteran stars, like the Avalanche, are already playing golf.
5) Shootout: Nevermind.
I think it interesting to note that if you went out on the street and asked a random person to name every active professional hockey player they could, you would be hard pressed to get someone to say the name of a player still alive in the playoffs. Even if you happened to stumble across a reasonably knowledgable hockey fan. The only player left with any sort of name recognition at all is Teemu Selanne. Unless you're any sort of hockey fan at all, then you've got Michael Peca and Chris Pronger in Edmonton and Brind'amour in Carolina, and even those guys wouldn't be anywhere near the top of my head if I was naming active players. Aside from that, it is all new faces, playing for teams from non-traditional markets and/or Canada, and I have to imagine the ratings for the next two rounds are going to suffer pretty heavily because of it. Not that I care about TV ratings.
Labels: NHL Playoffs
The USA was made to look silly by Sweden, taking a 6-0 beating on one day's rest. Meanwhile, our neighbors to the north eliminated Slovakia with a three-goal third period. Canada and Sweden face off on Saturday in the first semifinal match. Tomorrow's matchups are Finland v. Belarus and Russia v. the Czech Republic.
Labels: IHWC Update
One thing I couldn't help but notice during the Oilers' win over the San Jose Sharks tonight: Jim Hughson has to be easily the best play-by-play guy in all of sports. In all seriousness, I could listen to him say Fernando Pisani's last name over and over and not get bored. I genuinely believe he could call me pouring cereal in the morning and still make it the most exciting thing ever.
The USA beat the Czech Republic!!! No matter how much I may get worked up about Alex Ovechkin and Team Russia, rest assured that, ultimately, I am firmly entrenched on the home team's side.
Speaking of Russia, the loss means the Czech team falls to the fourth seed in Group E and will have to take on the red hot top seed out of Group F. The USA grabs the third seed and earns a date with second seeded Sweden. In other news, Belarus defeated Switzerland in a semi-upset to earn a berth in the playoffs, while Slovakia trounced the Ukraine to move on and send the Swiss team home. Belarus faces Sweden on Thursday, while Slovakia takes on Canada tomorrow.
Labels: IHWC Update
The Olympics? We're still talking about those?
HockeyDirt has an excellent post regarding the impact the Olympics had on this years NHL playoffs. Make sure to check out the first comment for an excellent rebuttal.
I think NHL GMs have a legitimate complaint when arguing against the NHL's participation in the Olympics. However, I enjoy watching the best players in th world all on the same ice too much to agree with them.
Canada dealt Finland their first loss of the tournament, and in doing so clinched the top seed in Group E, with Finland grabbing the second seed. The final two seeds from that group, the US and the Czech Republic, play tomorrow. The US can pass the Czechs for the third seed with a win. Latvia and Norway also face off tomorrow in Group E in what is the day's only meaningless game.
In Group F, Russia remained the only undefeated team in the tournament, salvaging a tie against Sweden on a goal by Alexei Mikhnov (it's okay, I don't know who he is either) with just thirteen seconds left in the game. The tie locks Russia and Sweden into the first and second seeds, respectively, in Group F.
Tomorrow, though, is where all the action is in this group, with three teams vying for two spots. Belarus and Switzerland are currently tied in the third spot, with Belarus holding the tiebreaker advantage due to goal differential, and the two teams face each other. Meanwhile, Slovakia is just a point behind them both and has a game against the sixth seeded Ukrainian team. Slovakia is likely to win that game, which means that Belarus-Switzerland will basically be a playoff game for the two teams, with the loser getting knocked out of the tournament (
Labels: IHWC Update
Goaltending. Goaltending. Goaltending.
The three teams to advance to the third round in the NHL Playoffs so far? Anaheim, Buffalo and Carolina. Their respective starting goaltenders? Ilya Bryzgalov, Ryan Miller and Cam Ward. If you've never heard of any of them, you're not alone. Between them they had, before the start of the postseason, a grand total of zero (0) playoff games under their belts. Zero. In the one series that is still undecided, Vesa Toskala is in the same boat, having been on the bench behing Evgeni Nabokov in 2004. Dwayne Roloson is the only remaining goaltender with any previous playoff experience (just fifteen appearances for a 6-7 record). So, should San Jose prevail in their series, it will leave us with four goalies who had never played a playoff game in their careers. This is a big deal. This means something. I'm just not sure what. It could just mean that the one year layoff resulted in an extra large group of extra talented young goalies. 2005-06 has already been dubbed "The Year of the Rookie" and this could perhaps be an extension of that. Or...
Or it could be an indication of how little impact the goaltender has on the game in the new NHL.With all the added focus on offense, all the new rules meant to reduce goalies' abilties to stop the puck (not to mention the Martin Brodeur rule) and the long overdue crackdown on obstruction, has the position of goaltender in the NHL been rendered obsolete? It used to be, there would always be at least one team that would grab the coattails of a hot goaltender ('98 Capitals and Olie Kolzig, '03 Mighty Ducks and J.S. Giguere, '04 Flames and Mikka Kiprusoff) and I just don't see it this year. Bryzgalov has certainly been excellent, but he has not really been the key to Anaheim's success. The starting goaltenders for the last five cup-winning teams? Nikolai Khabibulin in 2004, Martin Brodeur (twice: 2000 and 2003), Patrick Roy (2001) and Dominik Hasek (2002). You have to go back to 1998 when the Detroit Red Wings won it with Chris Osgood at the helm to find a situation similar to what we'll see a few weeks from now. And before that it was Mike Vernon, Brodeur, Roy twice and Mike Richter.
I'd like to think that this is a changing of the guard of sorts, as most of the goalies listed above are now retired (or in Hasek's case, a hobbled, crippled version of his former self). Looking at the league, there is really nobody left other than Brodeur that has any sort of history of success, so I suppose this may have been bound to happen. The only problem is that none of the goalies currently alive have been all that impressive, in my opinion. I view Bryzgalov's success as more of an abberation than an indicator of how he'll continue to play. Miller, Ward and Toskala have all benfited from prolific offenses, while Roloson has, in Edmonton, what I think is the best defensive team still playing.
Granted, one year is only a small sampling. It may be too early to draw any sort of conclusions. So far, though, it seems to me that in the new NHL, goalies just don't matter as much as they used to.
EDIT: Four goals in the first five minutes of the third period of Edmonton-San Jose. See?
Russia defeated Switzerland 6-3 to remain undefeated in the tournament and clinch the top seed in Group F. Canda suffered their first defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic, allowing Finland to move into the top seed in Group E on the strength of their 3-0 win over Norway. Norway's loss also means that the USA has clinched the final spot in the playoff round out of Group E. Canada and Finland play tomorrow, and Canada needs to win to wrest away the top seed in Group E. In Group F, the top three seeds are set, while Switzerland and Slovakia are vying for the fourth and final seed. Switzerland is in the drivers seat, but a Swiss loss or tie against Belarus coupled with a Slovakian win over the Ukraine would push Slovakia into the playoff round. It's all very exciting and I really wish there were some way I could actually watch these games. Russia-Sweden tomorrow could be exciting as all hell.
Maybe I'll just fly to Latvia.
Labels: IHWC Update
Pitching. Pitching. Pitching.
I must say, I'm really quite annoyed by the fact that San Jose-Edmonton is on at the same time as Grey's Anatomy. (Not as annoyed as I am by the fact that Anatomy's season finale is a two-part episode with the second half airing on Monday)
I'm having a hard time deciding who to root for in this series. On the one hand, how can you not get excited about an eighth seed making it all the way to the conference championship round? Especially these Oilers, who are especially fun to watch and have some exceptional fans in their building. On the other hand, the Sharks are coached by Ron Wilson, the man who led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998, and I've always had a soft spot for him. Not to mention the fact that Joe Thornton and Johnathan Cheechoo are the NHL's points and goal scoring leaders, respectively, and I love to see great players succeed.
Maybe I can just stay neutral. Can I do that? Or root for both teams. Is that allowed?
On Thursday, Russia ousted the Ukraine, winning 6-0 in their first qualifying round game on the strength of a goal and two assists from Alex Ovechkin. The same day, Canada blew Latvia out of the water (or ice, rather, as it were) to the tune of 11-0. Jason Williams, of the Detroit Red Wings, had a goal and three assists, while Sydney Crosby added a goal and an assist (Caps' up-and-comer Matt Pettinger had a goal as well).
For comparison's sake, Sydney Crosby is leading the tournament in scoring, with a line of 5-4-9, while Alex Ovechkin is currently tied at seventh, with a 4-2-6 mark.
Oh, right... the US lost on Friday to Finland, and won today against Latvia. As near as I can tell, the USA will clinch a spot in the playoff round with a loss by Norway tomorrow. Speaking of Norway, the IHWC website has an article spotlighting their third string goaltender which has an exceptionally entertaining picture/caption. Another article of note on the tournament's official site: a Q&A with Sydney Crosby in which we discover that he enjoys country music and will soon be getting a puppy.
Labels: IHWC Update
Just put 'em out of their misery.
Once a playoff series goes to 3-0, I feel like they should just end it right there. As much as I like the New Jersey Devils (or, at least, respect them), I couldn't help but root against them today because I just wanted the series to be over so we could all focus on San Jose-Edmonton. The same is true of Ottawa-Buffalo. The fact is, these series are just not compelling. Barring some sort of miracle, neither New Jersey or Ottawa have any chance at this point.
I know, I know... "2004 Red Sox!" you say. "'75 Islanders! '42 Leafs!" you protest. Whatever. Because those series represent three of the over 200 times a team has fallen behind 3-0 in baseball, basketball or hockey. That's three out of over 200. Also known as roughly a 1% chance for the Devils or Senators.
Sure, the Devils and Senators have both won a game now, so there's always the chance that things could get interesting, but, ultimately, there's very little reason to expect anything from either of these teams, and I would much rather focus my energies on the intrigue on the West Coast. So, let's go Sabres. And (ugh) Hurricanes.
The trials and tribulations of an actor.
After his hat-trick to open the WCs against Khazakstan, Alex Ovechkin has been held scoreless in two straight games while Russia has gone undefeated to win Group C. The USA, meanwhile, went 2-1 in the preliminary round, with wins over Norway and Denmark and a loss to Canada, to move on to the qualifying round.
Is it wrong that I'm more interested in the fortunes of Team Russia, because of Ovechkin and Alex Semin, than I am Team USA?
Labels: IHWC Update
Overtime is a two-edged sword
I give up. I really need sleep. As much as I love overtime, I wish someone would score, so i can sleep in peace without wondering who won the Edmonton-San Jose game. But, at the end of one OT, I won't be getting that satisfaction. Although, at the rate they're going, the game may still be going when I wake up tomorrow.
Vesa Toskala is playing like a madman, and he is the MVP of the game so far. Right now, before going to sleep, I'm going to predict that San Jose wins this game. We'll see how prescient I am when I wake up.
The Nats are one Livan Hernandez quality start (a long shot, I know) away from winning their second straight series after handing it to the NL Central-leading Cincinnati Reds. (I'm kind of ashamed to admit that the only way I can ever spell "Cincinnati" correctly is by singing a song in my head from this movie.)
Impressive. Most impressive.
OLN is showing highlights from the Detroit Red Wings 1998 Stanley Cup Championship. And I am dying a little on the inside.
EDIT: Seriously, why are they doing this to me? Totally not cool.
Labels: 1998 NHL Playoffs
7-6 vs 2-1
With both series entering into their second game tonight, I ask you, my valued reader(s), which you think was more exciting? The 7-6 Game 1 in Ottawa, or the 2-1 Game 1 in San Jose?
I wish I had been able to see the Buffalo-Ottawa game, so as to adequately compare and contrast the two games. Obviously, the game up in Ottawa was an example of everything Gary Bettman wants to see from the post-lockout NHL. I noticed in the Edmonton-San Jose game, though, that the officials were letting play go alot more than I had previously seen in this year's playoffs. As a result, the game had more of a pre-lockout, hard nosed, classic NHL Playoffs feel to it, and I loved every minute of it. The die-hard hockey fan in me keeps telling me that this is how the game was meant to be played. Not that there's anything wrong with a game that features 13 goals, but the thing I've always loved about hockey is that every goal carries so much weight. Used to be, in hockey, a one goal lead was a big deal, far more than a one run lead would be in baseball, or a seven point lead in football. (Don't even get me started on basketball.) I fear that if the NHL turns into a league where every game features double-digit goal totals, the importance of a single goal will be significantly diminished and, as a result, some of the excitement will be lost.
Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin, both members of the Washington Capitals, each had hat-tricks in Russia's 10-1 win over Khazakstan in Russia's first game of the IIHF World Championships in Latvia. Evgeni Malkin, who will be a rookie with the Pittsburgh Penguins next season, added a goal and three assists. Very encouraging. If you thought Ovechkin vs. Crosby was exciting, just wait until next season when we get Ovechkin & Semin vs. Crosby & Malkin. I really think the NHL should find a way to realign the divisions so as to put the Caps and Pens back in the same division.
Sidney Crosby, by the way, had a goal and three assists in a 7-1 win over Norway.
Labels: IHWC Update
And with that, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks take a 2-0 lead over the Colorado Avalanche. That's three straight shutouts for Ilya Bryzgalov. An incredible accomplishment by Bryzgalov, to be sure, but alot of credit has to go to the Anaheim defense. In game one, the Avs were completely unable to gain the zone, and they had very few really good scoring opportunites. Today, gaining the zone was no problem (at one point, they were skating the puck across the blue line at will), but the Ducks did an excellent job of forcing shots to the outside and clearing the zone.
Ultimately, I think this series will end up being closer than it would appear based on the first two games. It'll be interesting to see what happens once (if?) the Avs finally score a goal.
Apparently, I have no soul.
Awards for Everyone!
When I was a kid, playing youth league baseball, every kid got a trophy, regardless of wins or losses. That's kind of what the NHL Post Season Trophy Extravaganza feels like. But I love it anyway, because I'm fairly certain its the only way the Capitals have ever won anything. Here's my thoughts on the nominees, who were announced today:
Hart Trophy - MVP, as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PWHA): Jaromir Jagr, NY Rangers; Joe Thornton, San Jose/Boston; Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary - San Jose's dramatic improvement after Thornton joined the team should, in theory at least, make this a no-brainer... In fact, I think it absolutely does. I was going to rant about how there's no way a player that gets traded in the middle of the season can be MVP, but he has just had too much of an impact, and there is simply no way to argue that any one other player was more valuable to his team. Joe Thornton.
Vezina Trophy - Best goaltender, as voted by the general managers of all 32 NHL teams: Martin Brodeur, New Jersey; Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary; Henrik Lundqvist, NY Rangers - Only one of these goalies is also up for MVP. This is a slam dunk. Miikka Kiprusoff.
Calder Trophy - Best rookie, as voted by the PHWA: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh; Alex Ovechkin, Washington; Dion Phaneuf, Calgary - Much has been made of the strong rookie crop created by the lockout-induced one year lapse. It's a shame only one guy can win this thing, because there were so many outstanding performances. Phaneuf was amazing, and compared to the last two winners (Andrew Raycroft and Barrett Jackman) it wouldn't even be close. But instead he's up against arguably the two best rookies the NHL has seen in a decade. There is no question this boils down to Crosby v. Ovechkin, and Ovechkin came out on top in virtually every offensive category (Crosby had more assists). In addition, Ovechkin brought a physical presence that Crosby lacked (although you wouldn't know it from all the unnecessary PIMs Crosby racks up). The only thing Crosby has working in his favor is that he is Canada's native son, and the NHL has been hyping him as the savior of the league since August. Will this be enough to sway votes his way? Maybe, but it really shouldn't be. Alex Ovechkin.
Norris Trophy - Best Defenseman, as voted by the PHWA: Niklas Lidstrom, Detroit; Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim; Sergei Zubov, Dallas - All these guys are from Western Conference teams. As a result, my East Coast Bias prevents me from having a real opinion on this one, other than to say that I hate the Red Wings and the Stars. Scott Niedermayer.
Selke Trophy - Best defensive forward, as voted by PHWA (*Editor's note: I will never accept that this is a real award until they create a Bobby Orr Award to award offensive defensemen, and retroactively award it to Sergei Gonchar for every year he was a Washington Capital): Rod Brind'amour, Carolina; Mike Fisher, Ottawa; Jere Lehtinen, Dallas - Once again, in this category, if you were looking for even a remotely informed opinion, you are out of luck. My critereon for this award? "Which one of these guys single handedly saved my fantasy hockey team?" Jere Lehtinen.
Jack Adams Award - Best coach, as voted by the NHL Broadcasters' Association: Peter Laviolette, Carolina; Tom Renney, NY Rangers; Lindy Ruff, Buffalo - Lindy Ruff is a whiny bitch and I hate him. All Tom Renney did was cater to Jaromir Jagr's every whim, and we can see now how well that worked out. (I know, I know; the awards are based on the regular season only. Either way, falling from third to sixth in one day? Pathetique.) All Laviolette did was take a team that had been a bottom feeder in the worst division in the league to a legitimate threat to win the Eastern Conference. Peter Laviolette.
Lady Bing Trophy - I'm not even going to bother with this. This award is stupid. It has no meaning whatsoever. Any player that wins it should be ashamed.
Lester B. Pearson Award - Most Outstanding Player, as voted by the NHLPA: Jaromir Jagr, NY Rangers; Alex Ovechkin, Washington; Joe Thornton, San Jose - Again, I think the Rangers' last two weeks of the regular season preclude Jagr from winning this. After that, I think it could be a toss-up between Ovechkin and Thornton. Because it's the players voting, Ovechkin could get alot of votes based simply on his wow factor, which has impressed many of his peers. However, Joe Thornton still has the "I single-handedly saved an entire team" factor. Ultimately, I think that Ovechkin gets punished, so to speak, for being a rookie. Joe Thornton.
P.S. - I love Google Image Search
Lebron = Gilbert's Daddy
I would love to know what Lebron James was whispering to Gilbert Arenas as he was taking his free throws with 14 seconds left in OT. Arenas subsequently missed both free throws, followed by a three from Damon Jones (who had not yet played in the game prior to the final 14 seconds) and the Wizards are headed to the golf course. As my friend would say: "Free throws win ball games, ladies."
How did this happen?
It bothers me to no small degree that I was up until 1:30 AM. To watch a basketball game. I don't think I have ever watched a professional basketball game in my life that didn't involve the Washington Wizards. (That said, what a great game. I may even watch game seven on Saturday.)
In other news, the NHL announced the nominees for all 78 of its post-season awards. You can expect a full round up (with predictions) soon.
#22 in your progaram, #4 or 5 in your heart
Why am I rooting so hard for the Colorado Avalanche, you ask?
Former Washington Capitals captain Steve Konowalchuk, who had been out since November with a broken wrist, has been cleared to play in Friday night's series opener against Anaheim.
Close, but no cigar.
Anaheim @ Calgary. Game 7. Live!
10:10 PM EDT - Teemu Selanne opens the scoring at 5:12 of the second period. What an amazing shot.
10:12 PM EDT - The Flames fans' "Sea of Red" thing is really impressive. For a split second I thought all the seats were empty, then I realized it wasn't the seats that were red, but the people. I doubt any team in the US, in any sport, could pull off something like this.
10:16 PM EDT - Chris Simon is kind of a badass, and I really miss having him here in Washington.
10:25 PM EDT - The Flames get their first shot of the second period... At 12:42.
10:34 PM EDT - Directly over Flames' coach Darryl Sutter's shoulder? A Red Sox cap. They're everywhere.
10:36 PM EDT - Ruslan Salei scores to make it 2-0 at 19:01 of the period. Wow.
10:38 PM EDT - Huge save by Kiprusoff against Chris Kunitz on a breakaway to close out a dismal second period for Calgary.
11:08 PM EDT - Sorry folks. Got distracted. But I'm back now.
11:16 PM EDT - At the start of the game, I was impressed with the constant-ness and volume of the "Go, Flames! Go!" chant at the Saddledome. Now, with the Flames down 2-0, there are two horn guys trying to prompt a chant and no one is buying it.
11:19 PM EDT - Atrocious. Just atrocious. I have no dog in this hunt, but I have to say that the officiating has been questionable at best, and it seems to be favoring the Ducks moreso than the Flames.
11:34 PM EDT - Former Capital Jeff Friesen with the empty-netter at 19:40 of the third period to provide the final score of 3-0 Anaheim, as the Ducks move on to face Colorado in the second round.
11:37 PM EDT - I wanted to say something blasting the flat-footed, unemotional showing from the Calgary Flames, but the fact of the matter, I think, is that Anaheim just wanted it more. Every loose puck ended up on a Duck's stick, and Teemu Selanne came up big when it mattered. Its entirely possible that Calgary was flat and unemotional, but to make a complaint about it would be to take away from the excellent performance by the Mighty Ducks tonight.
So far the NHL playoffs have offered excitement (and minor penalties) at a level not recently seen in the sport's premier tournament.
At least, I'm assuming as much. For me to actually find time to watch the games would simply be to easy. Instead, I've managed to catch very little of anything, but that's not going to stop me from reviewing the now (nearly) completed first round, by taking a look at the points I raised back before it all started.
1) Enforcement - As near as I can tell, penalties seem to be way up. Perhaps too much. It seems, as I've noted before, like officials are almost eager to find an excuse to send a guy to the box. Sometimes, their reasoning is *ahem* suspect. (Not that Don Koharski would ever make a mistake.)
2) Coverage - Like I said, I haven't had many opportunities to catch these playoffs, but from what I've seen, OLN is a huge improvement over ESPN/ABC. If only for the fact that there has been a game on when I get home at 11:30 PM every single night. In the days of ESPN/ABC, virtually none of the first few rounds were nationally televised, and the fact that I could be watching Detroit-Edmonton (if I didn't need so badly to sleep) is very comforting.
3) Young guys - Henrik Lundqvist is out, but he played really well. San Jose and Carolina have both advanced on the strength of unproven commodities, while Anaheim has gotten remarkably strong play from Ilya Bryzgalov.
4) Old guys - The Red Wings are out. With them go Steve Yzerman and Chris Chelios.
5) Shootout - Dallas lost three games in OT against Colorado. Given their proficiency in the shootout during the regular season, one must assume that these are games they would have had a significantly better chance of winning if the shootout had been in place. Granted, the first two losses came via Avalanche goals in the first five minutes of OT, which would have been a loss during the regular season as well, but not having that safety net at the end of five has to have had an effect on Dallas' play.
Here's hoping that the last two periods of Anaheim-Calgary are as exciting as I hope they'll be. Potential Live-blogging to follow..
Labels: NHL Playoffs
Why do I need to know these things?
This (via Jaunted (via Deadspin)) is perhaps the strangest thing I've ever seen. As you read it, please keep in mind that, probably, at least five different people had to go through this and think that it was a good idea. Not to mention that someone had to actually sit down and come up with it all. Germans scare me.
(I will refrain from pointing out the comedic potential of the similarities between Pille the talking football, and Wilson the smiling volleyball from Castaway, because imagining Tom Hanks inside that lion suit is just more than I can handle at the moment.)