Archive for the ‘Ovechkin-Crosby rivalry’ Category

NHL 10 Wish List: Fantasy Draft

July 16, 2009

As the anticipation for NHL 10 mounts, we will put up a weekly post related to the buzz. Perhaps one week we’ll take a look at what the 2K series could do to gain some ground against EA, but for the most part we’ll list an item on our “Wish List.” This could either be an additional feature or a glitch we hope is burned in the flames of polygonal hell. Feel free to share your personal Wish Lists, too.

To start things off, we’d happily like to share the fact that NHL ’10 will feature something we’ve been clamoring for since the series moved to next-gen consoles: a “Fantasy Draft.” (H/T to Fear the Fin for RT-ing that.)

For those of you unaware of what a Fantasy Draft is, we’ll first say that it is as nerdy as it sounds. It’s also kind of cool, if you’re dorky enough to imagine it happening in the actual NHL.

Basically, though, the Fantasy Draft allows users to put EVERY NHL player in one big draft. The fun comes in many forms: who do you pick first? Do you go with Ovechkin, Crosby or Malkin? Perhaps you appeal to your inner Lemaire and draft a defenseman. Then again, sometimes a great goalie can really tip the digi-scales.

If the NHL decided to re-draft its league, would one of these guys be your #1 pick?

Either way, these are pretty fun little activities to do with friends. No longer can your buddy complain that his team sucks since, after all, he’s the one who picked the players. There’s also a “lottery” aspect to it: if I choose player A will player B still be around later?

Anyway, it’s pretty fun and could be excessive/a real blast if they are available in online leagues. Could you imagine screaming at people to hurry up and make their 15th-round pick already? Gold!

Since this first addition of the Wish List feature lacks suspense, check out Gross Misconduct for a fun little post where he took screen shots of newly minted free agents playing on their new teams. (It’s kind of weird seeing Gionta in Montreal)

Not to “bury the lead” here, but if you were starting a team and the league did a real-life Fantasy Draft, who would you pick? Ah, the potential Crosby bashing that will ensue …

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The Final Countdown

May 13, 2009

Not much to say about Game 7 of Penguins-Capitals that hasn’t been said yet. I’ll (unfortunately) be watching the game on a two to three hour delay so obviously there’s no sense starting a liveblog tradition tonight. Here’s a big collection of links about the game that will start in less than an hour (and stop many hearts).

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.

Rudy Kelly’s sweet, sweet hate

May 2, 2009

Rudy Kelly breaks down everything (and everyone and every reason) to hate about Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and more in the Capitals-Penguins series. Click on the beefcake photo (or right here) to read it. Here’s a couple highlights:

Hate Marc-Andre Fleury… because his name is Marc-Andre Fleury. Don’t you have a joust to get to or some peasants to beat, you landed fuck?

Hate Sergei Fedorov… because he has boned Anna Kournikova and now he looks like he has AIDS or tuberculosis.

Hate Jordan Staal… because people are lazy and say, “Crosby, Malkin and Staal” when it should be, “Crosby, Malkin… and then that one weird albino with the pinhead.” Also, hate him because Penguins fans refuse to admit they made a mistake drafting him instead of Jonathan Toews or Phil Kessel because he plays defense, which is like saying, “Yeah, I’m glad I went blind because now I have a good sense of touch.” Wait, it’s not like that at all. Moving on…

Round 2: Who’s under pressure?

April 30, 2009

With the second round set to begin in Vancouver tonight, the stakes are rising for the remaining 8 teams. Still, expectations and future outlooks play a huge role in how a team’s playoff run is evaluated. Taking that into account, which teams have the most to lose (and gain)? Are there any teams “playing with house money”? Let’s take a look.

1. Boston vs. 6. Carolina

Both teams defied expectations this season. For the Bruins, that came early, as Boston went from being a nice little 8th seed last year to a squad good enough to make people wonder if they could go toe-to-toe with San Jose and Detroit. In Carolina, the Hurricanes went through most of the regular season looking like their typical selves (limping through stretches, remaining thoroughly mediocre … the ultimate bubble team) and then all of a sudden became arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Hockey fans will probably remember the Canes stunning two goals in 1:20 to shock the Devils for years to come. At this point, Carolina is the perfect foil for a number one seed: they’re playing their best hockey of the year and just seem to have everything falling in place. If they lose, no sweat, really. Right?

One thing that stands out for Boston is that they have some tough salary cap decisions to make. David Krejci and Phil Kessel are RFAs this summer. Marc Savard only has one year left on his contract and will certainly command a bigger cap hit than his current $5 million.

The B’s are a nice story, but the startling depth that made them such a juggernaut won’t last forever.

Bruins have way, way WAY more to lose than the Hurricanes.

2. Detroit vs. 8. Anaheim

The second of two “behemoth vs. Cinderella” match-ups, although the Ducks have more to lose than the Hurricanes (and the Red Wings are probably yawning at the pressure of being heavy favorites).

Anaheim will have a lot of questions to answer this off-season, particularly when it comes to Scott Niedermayer. Could this be the last year of the Norris brothers?

Still, the Ducks can’t sweat it too much when they look at their young forward trifecta: Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan make up quite the nice group of sub-25 threats. With Getzlaf and Perry wrapped up for a long time at a low cap hit, Anaheim isn’t crazy to wonder if the sky is the limit.

And if they get bounced, it will at least make Jonas Hiller easier to re-sign.

It’s difficult, however, to muster much fervor for the Red Wings. Yes, it would be a letdown if Detroit blows this series but they won the Cup last year. They have a mountain of talent wrapped up for below market value prices. If they screw up this year, they’ll be a top-3 seed for the next decade anyway.

Ugh.

Detroit has more to lose than Anaheim, but they both have bright futures.

2. Washington vs. 4. Pittsburgh

No doubt about it, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have a lot to lose in this series. They are the two faces of the league and will suffer from harsh Photoshops, mouth-breathers in comments and a predictable “I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!11” mentality. Evgeni Malkin can obviously swoop in and show that perhaps he should be the Hart trophy winner instead of Ovechkin.

Hell, even Alex Semin has plenty to prove after his “Kane over Crosby” comments from earlier this year.

If you had to choose, the slight edge in pressure might go to the Capitals. They are the higher seed with home ice advantage. After barely beating the Rangers in a 7-game series – and getting, honestly, severely out-played at times in that decisive game – the Capitals need to show that they’re not just a weak willed collection of gorgeously talented Europeans.

The Penguins have “been there” before, putting up a cute little fight against the Red Wings in the SCF last year. In some ways, that means that they have quite a bit to lose, as they don’t have the excuse of inexperience.

The Capitals and Penguins face extreme pressure to deliver on all the media hype, with a slight bit more on the Caps’ shoulders. Either way, someone’s getting flamed in a message board before this one is done.

3. Vancouver vs. 4. Chicago

The Canucks are an odd story this season. On one hand, you have disappointments like Mats Sundin and the hot button issue of re-signing the Sedin twins. There’s also the oddness of Roberto Luongo being the first goalie to be a team captain since the railroad industry was thriving.

That being said, there’s the “aha!” season of Alex Burrows and the assorted flavors of hard scrabble two-way forwards this team provides. Will Kyle Wellwood make you pay for that fat joke? Shall Ryan Kesler show us why he’s a Selke finalist? Lots of sneaky good guys on this team.

One story I promise to beat to the ground is that the Chicago Blackhawks shouldn’t be so loosey goosey this year. Everyone seems to think that the BLACKHAWKS ARE A TEAM OF THE FUTURE. While that would be great, it might not be so easy.

Martin Havlat and Nik Bulin are all but gone, barring some crazy hypnosis-based contract signings. As I wrote before, the team might have a devil of a time re-signing its talented trio of Kane-Toews-Keith between now and the 2010 summer.

Yes, the Hawks are still in their cliched “losing to learn how to win” season, but they might want to think about skipping that process altogether. Things might get a lot tougher for this team in the future.

The Canucks are under more pressure, but the Blackhawks are under more pressure than you’d think.

How to steal a series or Gary Bettman is ruining his trousers right now

April 29, 2009

Martin Brodeur might be thinking that life is a fraud after tonight.

It seemed like Brian Rolston‘s crazy slap shot goal was going to allow the Eastern Conference to fall in 1-2-3-4 order until Tim Gleason‘s sprawling play kept the puck in the zone for the Hurricanes, which allowed Joni Pitkanen to set up Jussi Jokinen (of all fucking people) for a stunning game tying goal.

Then, out of nowhere, Eric Staal scored the series clinching goal with a little more than 30 seconds left in the game. Just a stunning series of events that ended an incredible (and odd) season for the New Jersey Devils.

With that, Gary Bettman‘s devil horns are probably ejaculating at the thought of a Ovechkin-Crosby clash (yes, we know Malkin exists but we know how this series will be marketed). The Capitals-Penguins series surely will bring out a trolling onslaught like we’ve never seen before.

Get your helmets, kids. Shit’s about to get real.

Hockey Orphan: the Puck Huffers on the Pittsburgh Penguins

April 12, 2009

Riiiiiiight

April 10, 2009

Sorry, Bruce Boudreau, but Washington is not the “New Hockeytown.” In three and a half months of an internship that took me all around the Capitol building, there was not one single mention of Alex Ovechkin. Even when I said “I’m a big hockey fan.” Not one. Of course, that was in the fall of ’07, before everyone could hop on the bandwagon.

Well, since Hockeytown is taken, let’s see what we have in storage. *Dusts off Carolina Hurricanes 2005-06 Flavor of the Month T-shirts*

(Maybe we can re-consider their application when the Capitals fail to sell-out playoff games. Hey-oh!)

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.

Let me say this again: Enjoy it

April 3, 2009

In Bill Simmons’ recent mailbag, he discussed the NBA’s great 1-2-3 MVP race between Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade. I couldn’t help but think of hockey’s 1-2-3 MVP race of Ovechkin, Crosby and Malkin. Say what you want about those guys, they deliver. Don’t forget that you’re witnessing one of the best generations of NHL talent in a long, long time. Sometimes the Internet babble can make you forget what’s really important. We’re able to watch something great.

The Heatley-Thornton-Lecavalier generation is/was fun and all, but make no mistake about it. We’re living in the next golden era.