Archive for the ‘News cycle’ Category

We feel kinda bad now: Chicago fires Tallon

July 14, 2009
Mirtle used this photo first, but we had to use it because of the obvious foreshadowing.

So far, we’ve seen posts from Second City Hockey, St. Louis Game Time, Puck Daddy and James Mirtle regarding the firing of Dale Tallon. After waking up from a profoundly bizarre nightmare, let’s leave it at that right now. Perhaps we’ll update this with a more extensive round-up/link dump if the hockey blogosphere justifies it.

Obviously, the excuse for firing him was the QO debacle (perhaps we should call it FedEx-gate?), but next season is one of the most pivotal in Blackhawks’ history and the decisions they make will have an impact on the next decade. They might as well go with the guy(s) many assumed were inevitably going to be in charge anyway.

It will be an interesting story to follow and no doubt about it: the Blackhawks are, at the moment, the story of this summer.

For the hell of it, here are our posts regarding Chicago’s salary cap situation:

Losing Kane, Keith or Toews: a crushing inevitability.
Bashing the Hossa signing.
The Blackhawks’ salary cap situation looked worrisome as early as mid-March

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Game 4 Gumbo

June 4, 2009
Credit: On Frozen Blog

Some scattered thoughts/links/musings as we await what could be a very interesting Game 4:

1. I read somewhere that Chris Osgood lost some Conn Smythe thunder to Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen. This got me thinking, though: if the Penguins push this series to 6 or 7 games, could Geno Malkin be the logical choice even if Pittsburgh loses? The Red Wings score/win by committee approach hurts individuals and Malkin’s point production already ranks him among the most volatile scorers in playoff history.

Seems worthy of consideration, I’d say.

2. This clip has been embedded on numerous hockey blogs already, but it’s funny so why not:

3. Note to blogs out there: if you come up with something this clever and it’s Miracle on Ice related, you’ll probably get linked here. Fantastic stuff from On Frozen Blog.

4. Ray Bug Eatin’ Emery to Philadelphia? Am I DREAMING?

5. While I think Jacques Martin did a good job in Ottawa, he obviously continued a long tradition of idiocy in Ratland. Interesting piece from Litter Box Cats on Martin’s less-than-sterling system in Florida.

6. Scotty Hockey, one of our favorite bloggers, provided some great coverage that made me want to visit Pittsburgh. Quite a few posts to check out from his trip, particularly his Game 3 thoughts.

(Note: there’s a chance I might add to this post or put together one more pre-game/instant analysis post today so keep your eyes peeled kids. Also, I’m going to start getting some really fun stuff together for the draft [hopefully] so business should pick up soon.)

Judging Jordan (and other playoff nuggets)

May 27, 2009

Be careful what you wish for?

Maybe. If you would have told Penguins fans they’d make the SCF in February, most would have looked at you funny and mocked your turtleneck. Yet here they are after a resounding sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Some scattered thoughts from the playoffs:

  • It’s not fair to blame Cam Ward and Eric Staal for the series loss. Both had some low moments (Staal being held to a mere sprinkling of points; Ward allowing that ugly Max Talbot goal), but they need some help. Ray Whitney was abysmal. The Hurricanes’ D couldn’t handle Malkin or Crosby. Media members always want storylines, but a lot of times one team is just deeper, meaner and more talented.

The Hurricanes should seriously consider going after a quality offensive free agent to ease some of the burden off of Staal.

  • After witnessing Rob Scuderi limiting Alex Ovechkin toward the end of their second round series and playing very well against the Hurricanes, I was prompted to check his contract status. Rut roh: he’s an unrestricted free agent for 2009-10. Could this be a problem for the Penguins?
  • Rudy Kelly rightly pointed out that the Penguins might have been wrong when they passed up talents like Jonathan Toews and Phil Kessel to draft Jordan Staal. Still, Kessel is injury-prone and Toews might be too great to keep under contract (or as the third banana). Staal’s lack of finishing touch can be really frustrating, but he’s still an extremely impressive player who’s willing to play a lesser role alongside the Penguins other blue chip centers.

His size and defensive instincts give you the impression that he could be an amazing asset going forward. It’s hard to say, really. Would it be better to put a Todd Marchant-type cheaper veteran in Staal’s spot and put the $4 million toward a younger winger who could finish all the great opportunities created by Crosby or Malkin? Or could Staal continue to blossom into a player who could allow the Penguins to more or less roll three great lines all game long?

  • This year’s Penguins team is more of an adventure than last year’s runner-up. Last year, they didn’t even go to a game 6 (until the Red Wings claimed the Cup on Mellon Ice, the bastards). Yet this year’s scrappy bunch almost missed the playoffs, went down 0-2 to the Capitals and won a Game 7 on the road.

This team has really grown on me. Even to the point that I think I like this team more than last year’s version. In 08-09, Ryan Malone played with marshmallows sticking out of his nose, showing an undeniably endearing amount of grit.

This time around, it seems like everyone is willing to put it on the line. Even Miroslav fucking Satan looks like he’s expending energy out on the ice each game. They’re also less “stacked” without Hossa and some other solid supporting players, making them about as close to an underdog as a team with Crosby and Malkin can be.

Will some extra sand paper and an extra year of experience be enough to overcome (probable opponent) Detroit? Probably not. But either way this Penguins team is special.

Zdeno Chara: a seven foot goat on skates? (and other playoff thoughts)

May 9, 2009

Zdeno Chara isn’t a hockey player, he’s a big angry tree who can slap a puck through my soul. Please don’t take this as a concentrated attack on the big Z.

But let me take you back to a fuzzy age for many of you young ones. You see, there was a time when this team named the Ottawa Senators roamed the earth as near-dominant hockey dinosaurs. While it never really worked out for that team, they were just loaded with talent.

During this period, the Senators chose Wade Redden over Chara and allowed the Big Z to sign a huge contract with the Boston Bruins. It’s hard to believe this really happened, especially since Redden’s play dropped horrifyingly enough to make him become an absolute whipping boy … for the New York Rangers.

Most would say Chara was the obvious choice for the Senators, but it’s more than a bit off putting that he might once again be a scapegoat for a team’s playoff disappointments.

I say “might” because it hasn’t been possible for me to watch much of Chara’s performances. We all know that plus/minus and offensive scoring do not necessarily define a defenseman, but without knowing his Corsi rating and his totals for goals for/against during the playoffs , those stats still tell you a somewhat disturbing story:

If you don’t feel like clicking on that image, Chara’s been held scoreless against Carolina with a -5 rating in the last three games (+1 in Boston’s dominating game 1 victory). Overall in the playoffs he has 1 goal and 1 assist. He’s also been on the ice for some dramatic goals, most noticeably Jussi Jokinen‘s OT GWG in Game 3.

Surely, the blame cannot fall only on Chara’s gigantic shoulders. That being said, don’t be surprised if the Norris Trophy-level D gets a big bowl of blame barring a near-miraculous turnaround.

  • Maybe the Carolina Hurricanes have found the perfect formula: only make the playoffs when you can make a dramatic run.
  • Whether you like the Alex Ovechkin knee-to-knee hit or not, there is NO WAY the NHL is going to have the cajones to suspend him. Even if the Penguins make it to the Conference Finals, truly threatening for the Cup is unthinkable without Sergei Gonchar.

From a “headaches for the league” standpoint, they are probably hoping that the Penguins advance without Gonchar. If not, the league’s in a lose-lose situation: if AO does get suspended, the Caps were screwed; if the Penguins get bounced then Yinzers will claim that we live in a godless society where the (talent) rich are above the law.

Let’s hope this controversy doesn’t mar what has been a true dream series for the NHL.

  • Even though Jonas Hiller had a superhuman performance against the Sharks, I keep finding myself expecting J.S. Giguere to play the role of Ghost of Playoff Goalies Past against the Red Wings. Weird, huh?
  • Finally, make sure to keep your eye on the sidebars.

The Ducks-Red Wings and Penguins-Capitals blogs have been especially busy lately and we also have plenty of goodness going on in the Hurricanes-Bruins and Canucks-Blackhawks blogs. I’ll try to keep a better eye on them as the series go deeper, but don’t let their great (no, make that superior) work slip under the radar.

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”).

Random bits: Day 1 of the Playoffs

April 16, 2009
  • It’s WAY too early to know for sure, but that Penguins – Flyers game did indeed feel a lot like last year’s series. Our worrisome side kept thinking, “Surely, the Flyers will make a run at this one.” (and then some asshole trots out the “My name isn’t Shirley” joke from “Airplane.” That asshole)

Alas, the Flyers just didn’t have it last night. The bottom of their depth chart might be their undoing: players like Aaron Asham and Daniel Carcillo seem like they will only make knucklehead moves. Matt Carle also looked pretty awful on Tyler Kennedy‘s surprising (and eventual game winning) goal. It’s unfair to pin all the blame on Marty Biron since the team played like a bunch of emo kids once they went down 2-0: shoe (or would it be skate?) gazing around.

  • It’s only been one day and already Versus chose the wrong game, but let’s be fair: there was only one game worth watching tonight (Washington – NYR, silly). Pittsburgh – Philly was over by the second period, Vancouver-St. Louis was a yawnfest and New Jersey – Carolina only needed to exist for Zach Parise‘s awesome goal. Still, because Versus continues to employ Brian Engblom we’re forced to be mean, petty and cruel to them.

As it stands the Versus-o-meter: 0 for 1

Can someone tell me why VAN-STL is getting wall-to-wall coverage while Chicago/Calgary and Boston/Montreal fight over the table scraps? It doesn’t seem like you can hang your hat on “American media hates Canada” either since the Canucks – to me – are probably the least marketable Canadian team in the playoffs. Sure, CHI-CAL/BOS-MTL are on a different schedule but this still seems all wrong.

Is it just a time slot thing?

  • What happens to the Alex Ovechkin love fest if his Capitals fail to make it past the first round for the second year in a row?

They already committed the high-hockey sin of losing a Game 7 at home last year, but at least then you could make excuses for experience and whatnot. What excuse is there if the Caps can’t knock off the Rangers? Goaltending, we’d guess. It’ll be interesting to see if the Church of Ovie takes a hit if it all comes crumbling down.

(Naturally, the Caps probably won’t lose another game in the playoffs. I’m the kiss of death.)

  • My favorite beard of the day goes to goaltender Chris Mason of the St. Louis Blues. If St. Louis makes a deep run he might be able to support herds of bison with that thing.

Afternoon Cycle: Sometimes we’re wrong (except about NBC)

April 6, 2009

A few concessions are in order this afternoon.

  • First, it looks like the Tim Thomas contract is not nearly as Bruins-friendly as it originally seemed.

As mentioned at Stanley Cup of Chowder, the elder Swede’s dude from Michigan’s (thanks: SCoC) deal is considered a 35+ contract so if he gets injured, retires or turns into the second coming of Roman Cechmanek then too bad so sad for Boston. Thomas has been great this season – without getting deep into research, he might be our gut reaction Vezina winner – but Mirtle astutely points out that the NHL isn’t exactly heavily populated by older goalies these days.

Ultimately, the contract should be judged by how it affects the future of the B’s. Will they have the cap space to retain Phil Kessel, David Krejci and – eventually – guys like Milan Lucic and Marc Savard? Time will tell, but Krejci/Kessel might be sacrificed to the offer sheet gods before this is all over.

  • Our other concession: Alex Ovechkin probably deserves the MVP. For quite some time, we’ve been promoting Evgeni Malkin as the Hart winner but Ovechkin’s goal scoring ability is more of a “game breaker” than Geno’s all-world passing. Not to say it isn’t a very close match and we could always pull a 360 if Malkin scores 8 points this week.

But, really, the question is: will either be worthy of the “Staal” trophy?

  • One thing we have a hard time imagining: CLS ever pumping up NBC when it comes to NHL coverage.

It’s bad enough that NBC decided to show Minnesota vs. Detroit, a game that managed to be bland on two levels: the “familiarity” of seeing the Red Wings again combined with the tedium of watching the Wild. Could we call NBC “talented” at sucking? At least Bettman and NBC had to eat some crow, though, because Puck the Media reports that the game was NBC’s lowest rated match of the season. Shocking, we know.

  • Oh, but it gets MUCH worse.

You may or may not have heard that, in a move that’s just another slap in the face in a series of injustices, the peacock will be televising Games 1, 2 (good) and then 5, 6 and 7 if necessary of the Stanley Cup Finals. That’s right, the NHL might not even have the raising of the chalice on an American national network. Unbelievable.

After NBC’s stunning decision to move a heated Eastern Conference Finals overtime game to Versus for a horse racing preview show, they pretty much were dead to us. But give NBC credit for finding new and exciting ways to pour salt in the wounds of hockey fans.

Illegal Curve makes a good point about another flaw in NBC’s programming decisions: the lack of anything resembling consistency. A casual hockey fan truly can never know if they’re going to get to watch a game each Sunday as there is no clear reasoning to indicate when the NHL will be on NBC and when it will “take the week off.”

With the continued struggles of Versus to find a uniform home on basic cable, finding the NHL is starting to become like a sad sports version of Where’s Waldo. Despite what crazy Boston announcers tell you, the NHL needs one nightly ESPN game so people can at least find one game per week.

Ugh.

Interesting to see that Don was once considered “Dick’s brother” in their home town. You have to wonder if Don Cherry never reacts to being called a dick simply because he assumes the person’s trying to scream at his bro instead.

GHL has some other great posts too, with a look at the evolution of the Cup and also a discussion regarding a female hockey player who looks A LOT like Owen Hart.


6. Columbus
7. Anaheim
8. St. Louis

In case you’re wondering what my voice sounds like (most common response: “Do you have a cold?”) you might get the chance.

Look for a link, unless it ends up being a disaster. If that happens I’ll claim it was a different James O’Brien with the same lust for puns and disregard for personal hygiene and tact. Seriously, there’s about a million James O’Briens/Bryans/Brians out there.

Afternoon Cycle: You are fooorrrrgiiiiiven

March 30, 2009

Note: If you haven’t read Chris Kontos’ Hockey in Japan piece, make sure you do that first. It is absolutely essential reading.

  • There might not be many of you out there with the privilege of seeing much of the NCAA hockey tournament, but it’s been pretty awesome.

Still, deep down, as ESPN U or whatever affiliate covers these games, there’s this other feeling: the strong urge to plead for the NHL’s return to the four-lettered network. Admit it, you thought that as ESPN’s beautiful HD washed over you and creative, interesting camera angles came about.

Now, don’t get us wrong. ESPN left hockey bruised and battered entering the lockout. What’s the best parallel? Should we go to that Rhianna getting roughed up by Chris Brown well again? Or maybe kick it old school with a Bobby Brown-Whitney Houston or really really old school with Ike and Tina Turner?

(It’s amazing how many abusive music industry relationships involve people who either go by only their first name or don’t share a last name. Is the modern era hyphenated last name trend a catalyst for violence? Of course not, but it’s always fun to establish arbitrary reasoning for such things. Violence = not funny; outlandishness = quite funny.)

Either way, it’s obvious that ESPN’s sending subtle little flowers to hockey at work. A hockey highlight prominently displayed in the Sportscenter Top 10? Ohhh you shouldn’t have! Mentioning a hockey player other than Sidney Crosby? Maybe you can change!

Mike Chen, the wily veteran that he is, beat us to the “ESPN should televise NHL games on Thursdays” soap box but it still deserves to be mentioned. Think about it: Thursday is not a designated day for any sport, really. The NHL has three days of the week where the games are bountiful: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Versus covers Tuesday, Hockey Night in Canada owns Saturday … so why not Thursday Night Hockey on ESPN?

They wouldn’t even have to leave Versus, a cable channel we’d compare to an overweight, slightly dopey wife with a heart of gold. Sure, you can’t really brag about her with your office buds at the water cooler. And her production values are pretty terrible. And she never seems to rent the right movies/pick the right games. But she loves you and needs you. That’s got to count for something.

(Ugh, OK, no more bad analogies … until the next bullet point. Ho ho gotcha suckers!)

  • NHL Network was showing Game 7 of the Carolina Hurricanes – Edmonton Oilers SCF, which seemed shockingly old since it was in the pre or early HD era.

Still, it’s stunning just how much energy permeated every cell of that game. Dirty hits were thrown about like 10-cent tacos. Scoring chances abounded. Naturally, there were some GREAT playoff beards.

It really got us pumped for the playoffs. The long grind is almost over, everyone. Are you as excited as we are?

  • Does every NHL season see so many random, out-of-left field surges as this one? At any given time, there seems to be at least one or two RED HOT teams. Right now, the Pittsburgh Penguins are hot but they have big name stars so that’s not too shocking.

The two biggest surprises are the St. Louis Blues and the Carolina Hurricanes. We might take a deeper look at those two teams if possible. Either way, it seems like an odd trend but maybe we’re just paying closer attention these days.

  • Despite only recording one assist between eight guys on Saturday, the Funkillers managed to pull the tights and put their legs on the ropes to advance on to the fantasy hockey finals. The hero of Sunday was Roberto Luongo whose shutout, literally, was the only way this fictional team could win.

We know you don’t care, but just look at how close this was:

Bits and Pieces: Malkin’s ‘struggles,’ Ovechkin’s celebrations and falling giants

March 20, 2009
  • Boy, it sure is amazing how much a bad Stanley Cup Finals performance can hurt you.

Just ask Evgeni Malkin, the man who likely would have been “The Staal Trophy” winner last season with a 100-plus point performance in the regular season and a fantastic playoff run. Until the SCF, of course.

While Malkin clearly struggled against the Red Wings, his performance was slightly inflated by playing against some fairly weak Eastern opponents in previous rounds. The Penguins cruised through the playoffs (only two losses in three rounds!) so easily that they must have been shell shocked once they played against a team that was actually more talented.

Still, the idea that Malkin will lose Hart trophy votes because of last season is pretty stunning. It’s not like he has a small lead on Alex Ovechkin. Nine points is a tremendous lead.

But that’s a debate for another day. If people penalize Malkin for SCF struggles, maybe they should consider the fact that Ovechkin never even sniffed the second round of the playoffs yet.

  • Speaking of the anointed saint of hockey media, Ovechkin’s Jimi Hendrix goal celebration is getting some heat.

Frankly, for us it’s not really that he taunted his opponents. As fans of Ric Flair, we are huge fans of tormenting opponents as you defeat them (especially if you hook the tights).

No, instead, our biggest beef is that the celebration was kind of lame. If you’re going to do the Hendrix burning guitar gimmick, you really have to sell it. Kneel on your knees. Take off your gloves so you can really pantomime that “smoke coming from the stick” effect. Hell, get one of your teammates to find you an afro wig.

After all, Ovie never had any issues with using props, right?

While everyone can agree Ovechkin is awesome, it’s only fair that he gets a little cheap heat since people are always frothing at the mouth to tear apart Crosby.

  • So, the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks might not be the dominant forces – or at least not as dominant – as they were believed to be.

After holding a huge lead in the Eastern Conference, the Bruins are taking on water and may in fact relinquish the No. 1 spot to the New Jersey Devils or Washington Capitals. Injuries are wreaking havoc on the Sharks roster. When you combine that issue with an increase in road games, the mighty seem only strong.

The Bruins have the least to worry about, on some level. Let’s face it: this team was not necessarily primed to dominate just yet. There may be a lot of pressure on the Bruins to succeed, but this season should still be a success with or without a Cup. Of course, if they lose in the first round of playoffs, then that tune would change quite a bit.

The Sharks, on the other hand, must be wondering if their window is about to close. Although there are some great young talents in their nucleus, trading for Dan Boyle and signing Rob Blake made San Jose take a “win now” position. Sharks fans must be hyperventilating right now.

  • Finally, a lot is being made about the Montreal Canadiens having a plethora of unrestricted free agents, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. The Habs can re-construct their roster next season, focusing on good value (and maybe a headliner or two) instead of their current “big talent, high speed, no heart” model.

With the cap ceiling becoming a serious question in the short term future, the Canadiens have a chance to build a winner while remaining cap flexible. This will be an envious position sooner or later.

Afternoon Cycle: Brodeur and Friends

March 16, 2009

  • Before we get to the meatier portions, CLS must acknowledge its namesakes when they are in the news. In case you were unaware, the Sedin twins are at some sort of impasse with the Vancouver Canucks when it comes to twin contract extensions. (Spector by way of Puck Daddy)

The Sedins are more than a novelty act, but my feeling is that the pairing should probably knock a million off their asking price if they want to continue to be a package deal. And it would be wrong if the two were split up. Wrong and foreign. Like a pair of male ginger twins dancing at your bachelor party.

Two three-year contracts for $5.5 million per year strikes me as a reasonable compromise. I mean, they only have one digestive system anyway, right? RIGHT?

  • Things might be a little light on the contributor front for the next week or so. Chris Kontos is going on a wild’n’crazy five week adventure, our other contributors are possibly kidnapped in a trunk somewhere and the Next Decade team process will be pushed to the summer.

Hopefully my limited brain power can produce a few worthwhile posts in the meantime. Please don’t leave me. This world is cold and lonely.

  • With an malnourished inbox, the quest for the best Brodeur clips will just have to amount to what I’ve come across so far. However, if you stumble on this list and feel your work is missing simply drop me a line and it will probably be updated. Probably.

Perhaps the most comprehensive Brodeur study was made by friend of CLS Joe Pelletier. He did a great job of breaking down Brodeur’s career against the work of his best contemporaries Patrick Roy and Dominik Hasek.

Eyes on the Prize featured an amusing take on the Brodeur vs. Roy debate: “Ten Things Martin Brodeur will never have on Patrick Roy.”

James Mirtle picks Roy by a hair at From the Rink.

John from in Lou we Trust points out that while career milestones are nice, the goal for this season is for the Devils to raise their fourth Cup. He also makes the point of saying, “what good is a 2.00 GAA if you only win 20 games a season?”

Much like ESPN following Barry Bonds until he broke Hank Aaron‘s home run record, NHL Network will follow Brodeur until he slides above Roy for the all-time wins record. At this point, I love NHL Network to the point that if it beat me up, I’d be back the next day with sunglasses to mask my black eye and a fresh “I fell down the stairs” excuse. Yup, it’s my umbrella.
Whenever someone quits an online NHL 09 game early so my team cannot record a shutout, my message is always a snarky “Stay Classy.” Apparently, Frozen Fiend shows that you can use the term in a non-derisive fashion. Go figure.

The New York Times hockey blog rightly questions Greg Millen’s strange statement made right after Brodeur tied Roy’s record: “You think this isn’t a hockey market?” Finally, the Montreal Canadiens show that hockey can work in Montreal, the NASHVILLE of CANADA! Seriously, though, what was Millen thinking? People rioted in Montreal after they won a first round series. Hopefully Millen was drunk.

Maybe the “but he has shootout wins!” argument would matter more if this was Brodeur’s retirement tour, but MB will probably pad his record pretty comfortably as long as he remains durable. Can we please stop with this argument unless he retires with less regulation wins? Please?

Lastly, the Program has some Brodeur videos for your viewing pleasure.