Archive for April, 2009

Nibbles

April 20, 2009
  • So, it’s official: I’ll be in California for a full week (this Wednesday to next Wednesday). Questions remain: how many games can I end up going to? What should I do when I’m not watching hockey?

Either way, there might be times when I don’t have the chance to write for the blog. Thankfully, we’ve got some of the mini-blogs teeming with life. Cornelius put together a nice preview today for Boston-Montreal, Rudy’s been following the Pittsburgh-Philly series closely, with Sha Sha from Vancity we now have a Blues and a Canucks perspective at the VAN-STL blog and Ashley wrote her debut post (as an official contributor) for the Canes-Devils blog.

Just a lot of great stuff going on and we might even have the venerable Chris Kontos returning (if he hasn’t decided to live in Japan, that is) in the next week(s). So stay tuned.

  • A Philly fan guest-posted at Bangin Panger, submitting a thought provoking post asking why hockey fans consider themselves part of a team when they win (“we kicked ass”) but then suddenly distance themselves when the going gets tough (“they really sucked ass”).

Epic jersey fouls and a hockey adventure in Boston

April 19, 2009

Fantastic stuff from Cornelius of the great Bruins-oriented Hockey Blog Adventure. Just a priceless group of photos from his experiences going to Game 1 and 2 of the Boston-Montreal series.

Keep your eyes peeled on all the miniblogs because we’re adding contributors left and right. I’ll do my best to drop links up on the main blog, especially when it’s a first-time contribution, but there might some posts that go up while I’m away from the ‘ol laptop.

Great stuff from Cornelius at the Boston-Montreal blog.

How could ESPN be any worse for the NHL than NBC? Tell me. Honestly.

April 19, 2009

Is there any doubt remaining that the NHL needs NBC like a shotgun blast to the head?

The latest in a murderer’s row of terrible PR moves comes with NBC deciding to cockblock the Penguins’ savvy and fan-friendly tradition of allowing people to watch games on a Big Screen outside of Mellon Arena. It was a bottom line-based decision, as the marginal loss in ratings would be too much for the soul-less suits at NBC to stomach.

But in such a marginal ratings grab, couldn’t NBC impress advertisers by showing how much of an “event” their telecasts can be? At this point, it is pretty obvious that hockey games are a largely regional affair. Is a fraction of a decimal point really worth it for NBC, when they can show advertisers that they have an engaged audience?

Or is this just a case of “any press being good press?” Does the constant insulting of the NHL – from moving a heated OT playoff game off the network for a horse race preview show to showing no hint of consistency to slapping hockey fans in the face at every turn – not tell you everything you need to know about this “partnership?”

Hockey fans are the ground beneath the feet of out of touch executives. For every good move – putting the incomparable “Razor” Reaugh on national telecasts – there’s a counter-move of imbecility.

People bash the idea of ESPN covering hockey, but the four-letter network would bring plenty more to the table than NBC. At this point, ESPN’s in a ton of households and would do a much better job of raising awareness for their NHL games (as Puck Daddy and others have stated, the network is a self-promoting brand obsessed whore at this point). You have to be a hardcore hockey fan to be able to follow NBC’s on-again off-again regular season schedule. Honestly, even I was surprised that the network was carrying the Washington-New York Rangers game this afternoon.

You get the feeling that Bucci cares more about hockey than everyone at NBC combined.

Yes, it’s clear that hockey isn’t a ratings force to be reckoned with, but it’s also clear that the league is making baby steps to regain traction with American audiences. If the league isn’t happy with just being a big fish in a little sea, then why not at least stick with a big unfeeling corporate entity that knows how to market the product?

I’d rather have the league give up its shitty, joke of a national TV partner in NBC for the corporate, sports culture dominating behemoth in ESPN. Even if it means going from network TV to cable.

Could ESPN be any worse than NBC?

Rudy on Pens-Flyers Game 2

April 18, 2009

Good stuff from Rudy Kelly on last night’s exciting Pens-Flyers OT game. Rudy discusses the possibility that the Flyers may, in fact, be the better 5-on-5 team … and how that might be rendered irrelevant if they keep taking bad penalties.

Penguins-Flyers Blog

Sundin’s nasty shiner

April 18, 2009

Nasty little shiner for Mats.

Keep your eyes on the sidebar and make sure you bookmark the miniblogs (especially if you’re particularly interested in those series). Naturally, you can also subscribe/”follow” them too.

Our two newest additions

April 17, 2009

We’re proud to announce our two newest editors:

The infamous Rudy Kelly from Battle of California fame is covering the Penguins-Flyers series.

Penguins-Flyers blog

And frequent contributor Laura from Wazzupwitchu will cover the Blues-Canucks.

Blues-Canucks blog

The Boston – Montreal blog is still up for grabs and we might also need some help with New Jersey-Carolina. Drop me a line if interested. (jamestobrien@hotmail.com)

Cream dreams: Which teams would the NHL like to win each first round series?

April 17, 2009

We’ve already discussed which series are the most interesting, but those thoughts were polluted with the heart beats of hardcore hockey fandom. Now let’s ask another question: if the league (as a whole) had it’s way, which teams would win each series? Feel free to state counterarguments in the comments.

1. Boston vs. 8. Montreal
Since the league is a slave to NBC, it’s pretty obvious that most of the suits would like to see the Big American market Bruins make it through to the second round. We think that it’s good to have Canadian teams make runs through the playoffs (American ratings be damned), but let’s admit it: the Habs have been a mess.

NHL’s cream dream winner: Boston

1. San Jose vs. 8. Anaheim
Both teams are familiar to hockey fans. Both play in markets that are considered somewhat small and niche. It wouldn’t be a disaster for the Ducks to advance, but the lure of a Detroit/San Jose conference finals is hard to deny.

NHL’s cream dream winner: San Jose

2. Washington vs. 7. New York
This isn’t a cut-and-dry case because the Rangers are a big market team. But let’s face it, the league hopefully learned a thing or two that Boston-San Jose was such a big ratings success for Versus. Big Stars trump Big Markets, IMO. And there isn’t a bigger star than Alex Ovechkin. The league needs him to advance and draw more eyeballs.
NHL’s cream dream winner: Washington

2. Detroit vs. 7. Columbus
Duh.

NHL’s cream dream winner: Detroit

3. New Jersey vs. 6. Carolina
Let me take you inside an NHL executive meeting:

(A bunch of old white dudes sit around a table more expensive than a full year of producing NHL On the Fly)

Random Exec: So, the Penguins made the playoffs and so did the Caps.
(Gary Bettman drinks from a cup full of blood)
Random Exec: We’ve got a lot of gr–
Bettman: Fuck it. At least we’ll get rid of the Devils or Hurricanes early.
(Awkward silence)
NHL’s cream dream winner: New Jersey

3. Vancouver vs. 6. St. Louis
How powerful is the preference for American markets? That’s the big question with this one since the Blues are still a relative unknown to many hockey fans. We’re going to go slightly off the beaten path and say that the league would be better off with Luongo, the embattled Sundin and the Sedin twins than with the St. Louis market.

NHL’s cream dream winner: Vancouver

4. Pittsburgh vs. 5. Philadelphia
This series is the complete opposite of New Jersey vs. Carolina. Two great, historic hockey markets brimming with stars and interesting elements but only one can advance. If you don’t know who the league would prefer, you haven’t been following ANYTHING.

NHL’s cream dream winner: Pittsburgh

4. Chicago vs. 5. Calgary
Lllllllet’s see. On one side, you have an original 6-franchise in one of the biggest American markets, with one of the brightest American stars in ages and an arena that can hold 20,000 insane fans. On the other side, you have the dude who’s banging Elisha Cuthbert, the beloved star that Sean Avery called out for being boring and a legion of rambunctious Canadian fans.

NHL’s cream dream winner: Chicago

***

So, oddly enough, the league’s probably rooting for an upset-free first round of the playoffs. Agree? Disagree? Offended that I’d mock the act of drinking blood? Do tell.

A few quick notes

April 17, 2009

Joe’s already started in his new space, with post-game thoughts on Detroit vs. Columbus. Make sure to check it out.

Also, you can find all of the fantastic entries in the “Five Questions” series in the Special Sections now. We know there were a lot of posts going up at the same time, so that section can let you catch your breath, gather yourself and read all the GREAT contributions from some great bloggers.

Things are going to be a bit closer to normal on the main blog now that we have those great guest contributions under some semblance of control. I have a few ideas for running features and will know better soon. Obviously, though, there will be regular updates to point you to good stuff at our satellite blogs.

Although this is subject to change, we have Joe for Detroit-Columbus; Clare from All Hawks editing Chicago-Calgary; Abel covering Washington-NYR; perhaps Michael covering New Jersey-Carolina.

Would you like to edit Pittsburgh-Philadelphia, Vancouver-St. Louis or Boston-Montreal? Would you like to help out with the other satellite blogs? Drop me a line at jametobrien@hotmail.com.

Let me also remind you that it’s a GREAT idea to send me and the editors your blog posts (at least the ones you think are above average). This is a growing stage for the satellites so it’s a great opportunity to publicize your blog.

Versus gets its right Thursday night

April 17, 2009

We LOVE beating up on the cattle-rasslin’, MMA-loving, Brian Engblom-employing Versus network but let’s give them a little credit: their crazy “in progress” scheme actually worked out really well tonight.

Detroit crushing Columbus —> Segues nicely to the second half of Chicago/Calgary —>Martin Havlat politely ends the game immediately in OT (third quickest ever)—>Finally, the night ends with the last two periods of the Battle of California.

Versus-o-meter: 1 out of 2

Five Questions: Couch Tarts (Sharks)

April 17, 2009

(Our pals at Couch Tarts sent a Five Questions our way for the Sharks, so even though we’re not going wall-to-wall for the BoC at CLS, we at least will have a hearty bowl of preview soup for the two teams. Make sure to follow the saucy pairing as they follow the strongest San Jose team ever.)

What will your team need to do to beat the Ducks?

Gray: Brass knuckles. Someone needs to put Pronger and Perry in their place. Also, airbags for Nabby. When Perry tries to tackle him (and he will) the airbags will shoot out protecting Nabby in a comfy, airy bubble while Perry gets knocked back into the Stone Age. I’m also in favor of anti force field spray for whichever of the two Ducks goaltenders gets the start.

Mina: The Sharks need scoring from at least their top two lines. They need to make sure they keep their special teams playing the way they have been late in the season. But most importantly, they need to score even strength. They have not scored an even strength goal in goal in almost 3 games and that needs to change in order to secure victory.

They need to match the Ducks in physicality and make sure not to take any stupid retaliation penalties. While it’s true that the Sharks are benefited from a closely called series, they need to no panic if the refs let the Ducks play their game. The Sharks are big and powerful and they can stand up to any team in the playoffs. If they don’t let the Ducks push them around and have their scorers score, the series could be short. But it won’t.
What would need to happen for the Ducks to win?

Gray: Perry sits on Nabby and deflates him. Pronger’s elbows go on a rampage and take out half the arena, including fans in attendance.

In all honesty, the Sharks need to respond to what will likely be physical play from the Ducks. No sitting back, no getting beat by a few rough hits. Hit back and keep going. Also? Score more.

Mina: The Ducks need to play their game. By physical, create space for their scorers, and hope that the refs let the players play. A free-for-all series will help the Ducks to win. Both of their goaltenders can steal a series and the Ducks need that too. Even though they look different from the Cup winning team, they aren’t a long way off from that group. If they get scoring from all lines and keep the Sharks on the ice with physical play, they and their goaltenders can steal the series from the Sharks.

Fan Favorite

Gray: Sharks fans have so many people to choose from. From the loveable brick wall that is Douglas Murray, the ever puzzled and slightly worried Captain Patrick Marleau, to the awesomeness that is Seto. Not to mention JR, who has settled in well here and has a huge fan base in SJ. Shelley and his can of beans perhaps?

Can I say everyone?

I’d love to highlight some of our rookies, but I’m not sure which of the woo-sta Sharks will be seeing playing time. (Go McGinn!)

Mina: The Sharks fans love themselves some JR big time. Since arriving with the Sharks last season, he has been an injection of pride and passion into the team. Plus having a guy who has so much fun with every game gets the fans excited. I love myself some Doug(las) Murray and owe him $1 for every big hit that he gives (a promise that I made last year). But I have made no secret I would love to see Torrey Mitchell get into the game sometime during the playoffs. He is my favorite and the favorite of many of the ahem..younger girls. (I would rather see the Sharks win than see Torrey play though.)

Your team’s Goat-to-Be:

Gray: I think most people would choose Semenov, since he’s been the fans favorite whipping boy all season. But I feel kinda bad for the guy so, I’m going to say Semenov’s beard instead. His beard is an independent entity. It will take an important 2 minute penalty and cost the Sharks a goal.

Mina: Despite improved play from both of them, both Alexei Semenov and Christian Ehrhoff look ripe for goat hood. Semenov has had his issues: the glove of doom, being a teal traffic cone, and just all around looking like he doesn’t belong. But somewhere in the middle of the year, the Russian Bear really picked up his game has and has had some impressive moments. But the moment he takes a stupid and costly penalty, the fans will forget all that good work and remember the old Alexei.

And despite a career year (8G 34A), Christian has an amazing and terrible shot. Sometimes it hits the net, the goalie, or even goes in, but more often it goes somewhere miles from the net. If he continues to shoot wildly, he may hear some boo birds.
Top storyline:

Gray: The brutality that will be shown in this series. If the brawl at the end of the last regular season match-up between these two teams is any indication, this is going to be an MMA style match up.

Mina: Can the Sharks show the promise that they showed during the regular season and dispatch the Ducks in a manner befitting of the President’s Trophy winner? (In all honesty, I expect this series to go at least 6 or 7 as the Ducks aren’t really a typical 8 seed.)