Saturday, April 29, 2006

Hooray for Hockey-Wood

So, I was browsing through and I came across a story out of the Wall Street Journal, which talks about how the National Hockey League is trying to get "A-List" celebrities to attend NHL games and be at rinkside so the cameras would be able to spot them easily. As of the time I'm writing this, both George Clooney and Steve Carell have declined.

The last time we have heard celebs endorsing the NHL has been as recent as Kiefer Sutherland and Denis Leary doing new and (I must say) improved commercials for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but only as voice-overs. Even Elisha Cuthbert has been doing some blogging for the NHL and seen around town with Sean Avery. Then, going back a little further, Whoopi Goldberg and Cuba Gooding, Jr. were in attendance for the 2003 Finals, which Gooding was way too excited for and, not so much. Of course, I can let Gooding go, seeing as he is a very avid hockey viewer, player, and even has his own mini-rink in his backyard. It goes back even further with Mike Meyers, Michael J. Fox, and so on.

I think the real question is whether or not this is really needed for the NHL to do. Let's face it, I don't think anyone who is a borderline fan is going to see someone like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and think if it's cool for them to do it, why am I sitting here watching it?? Of course, the chance to stalk Jolie is a perk, but that's another story for another time.

There's not more exciting than seeing a game in person, and I think a lot of people know that. However, I don't think just because Hollywood celebrities are at the games, it will boost the popularity of the game. If anything, the NHL should invite guys like Paul Newman (Slapshot), Emilio Estevez (Mighty Ducks), and anyone else who has been in a hockey movie. Now those are people who will actualy enjoy being at a game, seeing as they spent a while doing scene about the game in a movie.

However, it seems that it helps in some markets, like Atlanta, where Lil' Jon (YEEEEAAAAAHHHH!!!) had a photo-op with the Stanley Cup and it allowed more celebs like Evander Holyfield and Chris Tucker to show up, while in St. Louis and Nashville, Nelly and Montgomery Gentry have been in attendance, but I'll let you figure out who went where.

It's not a bad thing for the NHL to get the game out everywhere, I'm not disputing that; however, I don't think it's going to really boost the popularity of the sport that much, mainly because it's still a niche sport, albeit, a higher niche sport than it has been in a while. Give out some passes to those celebs who have been there and let them take some of their buddies. It's the method our show has been using for the five years we have been on air: you tell two friends, then they tell two friends, then they tell two friends....

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Game(s) Three Notebook

The first half of Game Fours are up tonight, but there are no chances of a sweep. Whereas the next set of games do have the possibility of two sweeps, the Avs over the Stars (who saw that one) and the Devils over the Rangers. However, before we look into the future, we have to step into the past.

-Isn't it great to see what the Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames can do when they really can play up to their full potential. Both the Sens and Flames took control of the game in game three and both won by at least three goals. With guys like Kristian Huselius and Peter Schaefer coming through in the clutch, the pressure is not on the stars to be the only means of offense.

-The Avs are playing great hockey and I'll be one of the first to admit I was wrong about the series. They have Jose Theodore to thank. It's not for his stellar play, because that's an oxymoron-- the Avs are playing better to compensate for the awful play of Theodore. The Avs blew leads in the past two games, but luckily were able to pull it out in Overtime. Plus, we get to see Milan Hejduk actually play to his potential.

-The Edmonton Oilers are playing like they should: with nothing to lose. Like said last night on the show, I hate both the Red Wings and Oilers, but I'd like to see a Battle of Alberta in the playoffs. That would be just an amazing atmosphere. Note to Edmonton fans, stop wasting Alberta beef by throwing it on the ice. It's a waste of good beef.

-The Flyers/Sabres series is going to be a riot. With Denis Gauthier's goonish ways, it could get very bloody, very quickly. Of course, Lindy Ruff could put Andrew Peters out there so it gets settled, but it could turn into a Gauthier turtle-fest. Also, the chants of "USA-USA-USA" really confuse the hell out of me. I understand that Ryan Miller got snubbed, but I don't see how it's really relevant to the series. Whatever, mang.

-The loss of Saku Koivu could be a big hit to the Habs. That, and the fact that former Red Deer Rebel Cam Ward is now the miracle goalie of the playoffs. The young kid is a stud and if he's allowed to keep playing in net, he could actually steal the series for them. Didn't we see this before with the Canes in the playoffs??

-The Sharks/Predators series really is a battle of who-could-care-less in the media. It's the bastard step-child to anything in the East and West, while it does have some great match-ups. Vesa Toskala playing amazingly, Chris Mason trying to fill Tomas Vokoun's shoes, the special teams, the speed, the's a great series, if anyone knew about it outside of Nashville and the Bay Area.

Gear up for Game Four folks, this could be a make or break games for many of the teams in the series, which could cause for some freaking out going on in some war rooms.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Denis Gauthier not suspended

It was revealed today by the NHL that Denis Gauthier of the Philadelphia Flyers wouldn't be suspended after his hit on Thomas Vanek during Game Two on Monday Night (game highlights, courtesy TSN). Gauthier was given a five minute major for checking from behind and a game misconduct. Vanek was fine and played the rest of the game.

Now, the big question is why the NHL didn't do anything about it. It's not like Gauthier is an angel. Hell, he was suspended for two games at the end of the regular season for a questionable hit on Toronto forward Kyle Wellwood. It seems very odd that a repeat offender would be able to get out scot-free from Colin Campbell's wrath.

The only thing I can think of is that the NHL is thinking that since Vanek was able to play the rest of the game, then the thought process is that Gauthier should be able play because Vanek can play. Granted, that is true, but someone with a rap-sheet like Gauthier's should be dealt with harshly, because there's a good chance in a high-emotion time of year, that it could happen again and whoever is on the receiving end of the next hit, probably won't be so lucky.

You can bet that some conspiracy theorist in Buffalo are saying that the NHL is out to screw them. First, the hit that Darcy Tucker put on Jochen Hecht which put Hecht out for the regular season, but seems to be doing fine now. Now, the Gauthier incident which you have to give full marks to Vanek for somehow flipping around near the boards without injuring his neck or something else which could have been much worse.

Game(s) Two Notebook

Like with Game(s) One version, this will be pretty much like the same. It was an interesting trend as all of the Sunday games has series tied up at one, whereas the games Monday, all teams went up two games, which could spell doom for certain teams.

-I have to say, the Avalanche are a whole lot better than I thought they would have been. They got out to a 3-0 lead, then lost that lead, but never game up and won 5-4 in OT on Monday. It could be the fact Joel Quenville behind the bench, or the fact they have to play harder in front of Jose Theodore, but they are getting the job done.

-The Roman Turek award for best regular season performance resulting in a choke-job in the playoffs has to be Marty Turco thus far. Turco was supposed to be the man in Dallas that would get them ahead to another Stanley Cup. Apparently, Turco didn't get that memo and has been playing like he did when he hit that slump after he signed his big deal. I wonder if Johan "The Moose" Hedberg could see some time.

-I wonder how many bilingual chants of "Overrated" will be yelled out at the Bell Centre for Game Three. The Hurricanes aren't playing like they should be second in the East. What's scarier is that Cam Ward played a whole lot better than Martin Gerber in Game Two. What the Canes need now is Erik Cole, but I'm not sure we'll see him for a while.

-Whoever lit a fire under Alex Kovalev, my playoff pool thanks you. Kovalev has played like his old self in the past two game. Three goals and two assists in his two games so far and he seems like he could score from anywhere.

-The Senators need their star guys to get on the scoresheet more often. Daniel Alfredsson has been invisible while Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza have been barely visable. Peter Schaefer and Mike Fisher have been the best players on the Sens this series. Conversely, Marty St. Louis has played exceptionally well for the Bolts. St. Louis is returning to his MVP form and could be a deciding factor in a possible #8 over #1 upset.

-The power play will be the death of either the Predators or the Sharks. All the goals by the winning team in that series have been on the power play. It has created for exciting hockey, but will somehow end up with a team being up in arms about the calls being made.

-The Flyers should receive a "warm" welcome from their fans when they play on Wednesday night. After keeping it close in Game One, the Flyers....well they phoned it in on Monday night. As passionate about sports the Philly fans are, I'm sure that Robert Esche is not the most wanted man in Philly....dead or.....well dead.

-Some people didn't expect the Flames/Ducks series to be as exciting as it is. First, a 3-0 Ducks lead, including an amazing play by Scott Niedermayer short-handed. Then the Flames re-upped it to 3-2, but a defensive break down made it 4-2. Dion Phaneuf got a power play goal let to get within one, but time ran out. After an exciting overtime game in Game One and a back and forth in Game Two, the rest of this series should be very, very interesting. Remember, Miikka Kiprusoff was 6-0 after giving up 4 or more goals in the '04 playoffs, plus that was the first time Kipper gave up more than three goals since January 7th against Vancouver.

-Unless Martin Brodeur loses a limb, I don't see how the Devils will lose their series against the Rangers. If it's not Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta, or Scotty Gomez, it has to be John Madden. BOOM!! The gritty forward had a hat trick in Game Two and showed that the Devils have more depth than they give them credit for.

-Plus, much props to the Rangers defense, for how not to do things. They allowed two short-handed goals in the same guy, but the same guy. Without Jaromir Jagr, Darius Kasparaitis, and Henrik Lundqvist-- it looked like the Rangers were lost out on the ice. It could be curtains for the Rangers, especially if they are without their stars.

-Finally, could the Wings be back on their heels?? The Oilers have played great hockey against the Wings and Chris Pronger is showing his Norris Trophy form. However, the Red Wings are the best road team in the NHL and heading into Rexall Place hoping that they don't slip and fall on their own self-confidence. For one reason or another, the first and grind lines for the Wings have been bringing in the goals and have been playing the best hockey out there. The rest of the Wings don't seem to make a big impact on the game, one way or another.

The Game Three festival begins on Tuesday Night with most of the West and one game out East going on. They should be as exciting as the previous games, but you'll just have to watch to find out if that's true or not.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Playoff Viewing Do's and Don'ts

Granted, this has no scientific value to any of this, but we have all been there. You're at your house, someone else's house, or even your local drinking establishment trying to watch a playoff game, but there's one thing or another that is not allowing you to enjoy the game to it's fullest potential. Hopefully, this handy-dandy method can help you out of those binds and make it easier for you to enjoy the game, without having to be "that guy/girl" in the process.


1a. DO show up in your team's gear: The playoffs are a sacred time, and you should be putting your alliance out there. You don't want to be called a bandwagoner when you've been down since day one, right?? Then show up in your hockey best and make sure you tell people loud and clear, without saying a word. Of course....

1b. DON'T pull a David Puddy: There is too much of supporting your team. We all remember that "Seinfeld" episode where David Puddy joins the gang for a Devils/Rangers game and goes a little too much in "supporting the team."

2. DO help out when it comes to refreshments: If you're heading over a buddy's house to watch the game, make sure you pick up something to bring to the table. Whether it be a case of liquid refreshments or some bags of chips, make sure you put something out on the table to help the cause.


3. Unless it's about the games, DON'T talk: It's all well and good to have something to say about some other topic, but if the game is going on; please be respectful to those who are trying to watch the game and keep your conversations until intermission or after the game. Some people actually like to hear what those jobbers are talking about in the booth.

4. DO vote on games (multiple game situation): If there are two games on, take a vote of those there to see what you will put your focus on. If the game you are watching is a blow out, then by all means, change the channel to the other game if it is close. If the game is not close in the second one, take another vote. However, if your team is the ones getting blown out-- then you probably don't want to watch that monstrosity.

5a. DO be vocal (residency only): There's going to be a lot of armchair coach's out there in the playoffs, so it's going to be hard not to keep your emotions to yourself. Plus, since you're in a tight knit group with your buds, then they'll understand, especially if they are rooting for the same club. Just remember Rule 3 and don't let the frustration take over too much.

5b. DON'T be obnoxious (outings only): If you're in a bar or other places where there is a TV with the game on, make sure that you try and keep your thoughts to yourself. Not everyone in the place is watching the game, and if they are, its' very rare they want to hear what you would have done (or did do in your day).

6. DO give warnings when play is back on: Nature calls when it is least wanted. That's why you have to be a good host or bud and yell out a warning when the game is back on. That way, whoever is out can stop short or hurry up and finish. Plus, they won't be a bitter bear when they come back and the game is going on.

7. DON'T talk when Don Cherry is on (CBC Games Only): I know I said earlier that intermissions are a good time to talk, but, whether it be the suit or the "what is he going to say next", Grapes is a great way to let the intermission just wash away.

8. DO walk out of the room if a spouse/family member calls: If it's your place, don't talk over the game if a spouse of family member is calling you. Be curtious and walk outside of the viewing area in order to get the discussion done. Sure, you'll miss a little bit of the game, but you will be able to let the others enjoy the game while you handle your business.

9. DO celebrate a goal or big hit: Don't be shy when it comes to your team scoring or laying out a big hit. You're already in the team's gear, may as well show your team spirit and not be a wallflower in the process.


10. DON'T gloat about your team's win: If there are like-minded fans out there, then give a couple of high-fives, take it in stride, but don't overdo it, especially if there is someone in your clique that is a fan of the other team. This pretty much goes with Rule 5b up there. Yet, if this is a rivalry game/series, then no-holds-barred in the insults or gloating.

11. DO chip in for a round (outings only): If you're feeling really good after your team's win, then help out the bar by chipping in for a couple of drinks afterwords. It's all in good fun, but make sure you have enough help in order to cover the tabs.

12. DO help clean up (residency only): If you're out at someone else's house, at least attempt to chip in cleaning up or make it a little more organized than when you came in. You don't have to do everything, but at least clean up your mess and something that someone overlooked. You would want someone to help you out after a big mess, wouldn't ya??

13. DON'T be stupid if you've had too many: It's a long haul out there for everyone, don't be a jackass and think you can drive home when you have had too many wobbly pops in you. Since you're at a place you know, call a cab and get yourself home safely. You can pick up your car tomorrow. Especially since the coppers will be out there with checkstops, it's better safe than sorry.

These 13 steps are just the start. If you have a suggestion about what should be added, drop us a line at the Show and we'll review and add accordingly. To be really on the nose, put in where your rule would go in the whole scheme of things.

Like I said, this has no scientific involvement in it, this is just past occurrences and occurrences of others that I've pulled this from. I'm sure you all have been in some kind of situation whether it's been in hockey or otherwise.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Game(s) One Notebook

It was an interesting two-days when it came to the game one-- here's what I took from the adventure:

-Did everyone really underestimate the strength of the Oilers?? Dwayne Roloson played on his head and did an outstanding job. If not for a fluke goal, the Oilers could have won that game in double-OT. Is the loss of Pavel Datsyuk that telling on the Wings' gameplan?? I don't expect to see the same slacking off on the Wings bench in Game Two.

-It's going to be a goaltending clinic in the Anaheim/Calgary series, I'll well you what. Ilya Bryzgalov and Miikka Kiprusoff played amazingly in Game One with Darren McCarty being the unlikely hero in OT. The question still remains if the Ducks will be this strong if J-S Giguere is out for an extended period, but Bryzgalov looks up to the task, if need be.

-I think Sean-O was right when he mentioned that Jaromir Jagr would pack it in if he didn't win the Art Ross Trophy. Outside of his one assist and injury he inflicted on himself, he was rarely a factor in the game. Of course, NBC was tracking his every move, but these are the same people who had the "floating heads of death" in their first season of Nascar coverage.

-Note to the Sharks-- if you stop taking stupid penalties, the Predators won't score on you at will. I have to say I'm surprised at the Preds output with Chris Mason in net, but I should know better than to count out a Paul Kariya team.

-Both Ray Emery for Ottawa and Cristobal Huet for Montreal were outstanding in their first starts of the Playoffs. They may not have experience on their side, but they have great teams in front of them to help out and give some goal support in the process. Martin Gerber on the other hand....not so much.

-If there is a more obvious reason for kids to keep their heads up when skating the puck, then the hit that Brian Campbell put on R.J. Umberger should be the visual aide. It is also a demonstration on how to give a clean, hard check with your opponent's head down. God speed to Umberger and his recovery. Which leads me to a "thumbs down" to the Sabres' video crew for replaying the hit in the arena. Sure, you want to get the crowd into it, but you don't want to give the opposing team more fuel for the fire. It's an unwritten rule and was a classless act.

-Gary Bettman said the refs should call everything, and they are-- sans a couple of too-many-men and other calls. It seems that they aren't putting the whistles away just because it's late in the game or in OT. At least they didn't do that for the Flyers/Sabres affair. Discipline play will be key, so it shouldn't come as a surprise if you see a couple of GWGs on the power play in overtime in the near future.

We have all-day action tomorrow for Game Two, which I should have some commentary about or what-have-you afterwords, maybe with a "FOHS Do's and Don't Of Playoff Hockey", but only if you're good. Enjoy the games.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Quinn Canned After Leafs Fall

It almost seemed like an inevitibility, but the Toronto Maple Leafs finally pulled the trigger on firing Pat Quinn as head coach of the team. There are some people split on the decision, but right now, I feel it's the best for the team to have a chance-- especially since the fact of the matter is that the youth movement wouldn't be Quinn's strongest point. Who I think will take over in a minute.

First, Quinn's legacy with the Leafs will probably be remembered for missing the playoffs, but in his tenure, Quinn was 300-196-52-26 as the bench boss in Toronto. He has some good years leading the Leafs to the Conference finals, but never being able to get them further than that. The gripe about Quinn that he was loyal to a fault, sticking by his older players even when they were slumping. That caused a logjam in the minors or caused the trading of many young, talented players away from the team so they could succeed there instead of Toronto. However, that time is over now, and it's time to move on.

Who's going to be the successor to the throne at the Air Canada Center??

Paul Maurice.

It may seem a little odd, but when he helped coach the Toronto Marlies in the AHL to the playoffs, you can only guess what he could do for the youth movement program the Leafs are installing. Maurice coached most of the kids that were called up at the end of the year, so he won't need any time to learn their style of play, learn where to put them, or get their full potential out of them. Not only that, but he has coached the Whalers/Hurricanes franchise for a number of years, the same franchise who beat the Leafs in the Conference Finals in 2002 playoffs. It's almost a no-brainer to hire from within.

Of course, the ability to have someone like Andy Murray could be a tempting option as well. Murray has been pegged for such jobs like the opening in New Jersey and possible openings in Boston and now Toronto. Yet, somehow I think the hiring from within route is the one that the Leafs will go for.

We'll have to see how it all pans out, but it'll be an interesting summer in Leafs land, much like it always is. This time, it's not all about free agents, it's finding someone who can steer the team back into playoff contention once more.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Quarterfinals: Eastern Conference

Much like the West, I'll be taking on the East. For some reason, I think that the East will be a little harder to choose, since there is a chance for many upsets in the first two rounds, which could lead to the Finals being a little out of whack. Of course, you can get that in the West, but it's a little less likely. Once again, your results may vary.

(1) Ottawa Senators vs (8) Tampa Bay Lightning : Ottawa wins in six games
Though you can never count out the champs, the Senators up and down have a better roster output from their guys. The top trio of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, and Jason Spezza has trumped that of Martin St. Louis, Vinny Lecavalier, and Brad Richards. With both goaltenders being suspect, it should be down to who can score more, and with that-- I have to go with the Sens.

(2) Carolina Hurricanes vs (7) Montreal Canadiens: Montreal wins in six games
I know it's a bold choice, but the way the Habs have been playing, they look like the same team that took out the 2nd seeded Bruins in '04 coming back from down 3 games to 1. If Alexei Kovalev, Saku Koivu, and Michael Ryder can come out firing, they should be able to go far. That's not to go against the experience of Mark Recchi and Doug Weight with the brilliance of Eric Staal, but I like the way the Habs look with Cristobal Huet in net, as opposed to Martin Gerber in Carolina's net.

(3) New Jersey Devils vs (6) New York Rangers: New Jersey wins in six games
The Rangers have mucho fire power with Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, and Michael Nylander, but the Devils have an 11-game winning streak coming into the playoffs, as well as Martin Brodeur. Brodeur has the most experience of any goalie in the NHL Playoffs this year and that experience, combined with that of Scott Gomez, Brian Rafalski, and Jamie Langenbrunner, should help the Devils take themselves a long way. The Devils are also my pick to take the East.

(4) Buffalo Sabres vs (5) Phildelphia Flyers: Buffalo wins in six games
Though it's hard to go against the play of Peter Forsberg and Simon Gagne, the Flyers goaltending hasn't been as good as usual. Robert Esche and Antero Niittymaki have shown their cracks, while Ryan Miller and Martin Biron have improved from their late-season slump. Add that to Tim Connolly, Chris Drury, and Daniel Briere heating up down the stretch, it could be a long, high scoring series, going to the Sabres in the end.

I know, I'm using six games a lot, but I like to give them the benefit of the doubt. With the new rules, any team can take control of the game at any time. Plus, the home crowd can sway a game if the energy is just right in the rink.

It should be a great playoff for sure. Of course, anything is better than having nothing last April/May/June, though the World Championship kind of help the Canadian fans along they way. So, sit back, enjoy, and make sure you listen into the Show tonight and throughout the playoffs to get our takes in a 2-hour form.

Also, if you're a fan of playoff beards, check out, where Cap'n Bosh will take you through those who have fantastic beards and those who need some lessons or hormones to help their progress along.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Quarterfinals: Western Conference

The West has been won, as we know all the match-ups for the first round, also known as the Quarterfinals. It seems like a clear cut chances for the teams and no divisional rivals will be playing each other in the first round, which will create for some less hostility than it would have been if divisional rivals met. I'll just give a little synopsis of the series and give a prediction for each-- your results may vary.

(1) Detroit Red Wings vs (8) Edmonton Oilers: Detroit wins in five games
The Red Wings are having a record season and it's all thanks to the emergences of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Oldies like Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman aren't doing too shabby either. The Oilers don't have the horses they thought they would have. Though they have Chris Pronger on the blue line, the forwards haven't been as good as many thought. Dwayne Roloson's subpar performance since getting traded doesn't give the Oilers much hope in gettng far in this series at all.

(2) Dallas Stars vs (7) Colorado Avalanche: Dallas wins in six games
The Stars have quietly jumped up into the top of the West on the back of Marty Turco's great play. Also, Mike Modano has been bouncing back after his very subpar season in '03-'04. Jere Lehtinen has had the quietest 30-goal season on record, while Brendan Morrow continues to become the quintessential role player. The Avs haven't gotten all they could out of Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk, but the big problem is in net. They were doing fine with David Aebischer and Peter Budaj, but Jose Theodore has yet to impress while being in an Avs uniform. That will be the key factor in this series.

(3) Calgary Flames vs (6) Anaheim Mighty Ducks: Calgary wins in six games
Though the Ducks have been surging on the play of Teemu Selanne and J-S Giguere, the fact of the matter is they don't have enough horses to carry the load. The Flames have been playing playoff hockey all season and have the best goalie in the NHL, Miikka Kiprusoff, on their team. With their defensive game plan and ability to get the best out of everyone, they will be doing their damnedest trying to get back to the Cup finals and win the Cup this time.

(4) Nashville Predators vs (5) San Jose Sharks: San Jose wins in six games
The Predators have a good team and really showed they could be an elite team. That said, with Chris Mason in net instead of Tomas Vokoun, I don't know how much of a shot I give them. There's only so much scoring that Steve Sullivan and Paul Kariya can do to match Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo's output. Plus, Vesa Toskala has been a work horse and shows he could be a starting goalie in this league. Granted, that will get the ire of Evgeni Nabokov, but you have work hard to get the best spots-- something Nabokov hasn't done consistantly enough.

That's the way I see the West. If you have any qualms about it, give us a shout at the Show and we'll see what you have to say. The Eastern Conference match-ups will become reality tonight, so tomorrow, I'll have a tad breakdown about those series and what could happen there.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Not Left But The Shouting......and Seeding

On Monday Night, the Washington Capitals defeated the Atlanta Thrashers 6-4, eliminating the Thrashers and finalizing the 16-teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Though the seeding is not final, there's obvious some hot and cold teams coming into the playoffs. Conversely, there are plenty of cold teams as well. How does it pan out?? Let's look, shall we??


-New Jersey Devils: The Devils are 10-0-0 in their last ten. Martin Brodeur has found his groove just in time for the playoffs. Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez could be the most underrated tandem in the NHL today. All this, plus they have a chance of winning the Atlantic Division under a cloak of darkness, overshadowed by the other New York Metro area teams. For a team that has won three Stanley Cups in the last decade, they are going to be a threat to be reckoned with.

-San Jose Sharks: Since Joe Thornton has come on the team, the Sharks have been a totally different team. If Thornton does not win the MVP, there's a fix in the NHL Awards voting. He has not only make the team better, but he has single handedly made Jonathan Cheechoo a primer player in the NHL today. Add that to Ron Wilson's hockey mind behind the bench, the Sharks could be a sleeper in the West.


-Ottawa Senators: Talk about a bad time for the injury bug to make an relapse, this is it. Though they have played well without Dominik Hasek, there is only so much Ray Emery can do without getting the proper support. The top line of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, and Daniel Alfredsson need to kick their game into gear and hope that the defense is healthy enough to shoulder some of the load that could be heading their way.

-Edmonton Oilers: There were high hopes for the Oilers this year, but they didn't live up to expectation. Their goaltending carousel hurt a lot and the trades for Dwayne Roloson and Sergei Samsonov have has mixed results. The Oilers backdoored their way into the playoffs with the Vancouver Canucks blow-up, but I don't think we'll be seeing much of the Oilers in this post-season, especially since they have to play the Detroit Red Wings.

That's just a brief overview of the playoffs. On Wednesday afternoon, with the seedings all done, there will be a little more in-depth look at the series, but until then. Just hold tight and listen in. If you have any questions or comments, go ahead and email us at the Show and we'll do our best not to bore you.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Destroying Only For Rebuilding

For the past couple of week in this playoff grind, many fans in some Canadian cities have been rooting against their own team. The reason for this, mainly is because they want some changes in their line-up and front office. In some cases, this could be a good thing, but in other cases-- it's not the best route to go.

One set of fans got their wish, that being the Vancouver Canucks. Many Canuck fans on some fan boards have already completely gotten rid of some key players and front office personnel in order to make their team better for next year. Names going around included Todd Bertuzzi, Marc Crawford, and even Markus Naslund. That's kind of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but some fans are just that devoted.

Another set of fans, the Edmonton Oiler type, were hoping not to get in so they would be able to get rid of Craig MacTavish and get a new, and some think more qualified coach, behind the bench. With the Canucks losing, that gave the Oilers their spot, so it will be at least until the summer time before MacTavish is on his way out.

The third set is the Leafs fans. Some have hoped they failed in order to run Pat Quinn and John Ferguson Jr. out of town. The big issue is now with their 7-0-2 streak going down the stretch, is it harder to get them out than it was if they were 4-4-1?? Of course, unloading guys like Ed Belfour and Eric Lindros could bring some more of the youth movement in, but with the Leafs, you never know what could happen next.

The biggest question will have to be if this is the right way to go about things to get results. It's easy to demolish a team when things are down, but it's never easy to keep it the status quo into the next season. In some cases, sure-- a regime change or some player changes could be needed, but in most cases, they are the worst thing that could happen. Especially if a team is close enough to reaching the Cup finals, then destroying the team is the worst thing that could happen, because the whole "what if" thing comes into play if the departed players start to rip it up again.

So, if/when these things do happen, is it always for the best?? You can give us your comments at the Face Off Hockey Show email and tell us what you think is the best way to go about a high potential team not making the playoffs.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Kicking It Old School

For one reason or another, I have been thinking about the older, "vintage" jerseys that have come and gone. I think most of it has to do with TSN's Top Ten when it comes to hockey, then they show the old school jerseys. So, I have turned to the fantastic site, NHL Uniforms. I must say, this is a site that has been a long time coming and Andrew Greenstein has done it perfectly-- so much props to him. In no particular order, here is my list of top-5 great vintage jerseys.

1. Washington Capitals (1974-1995): This jersey has a special meaning to me. It reminds me of the times me and my dad would head down to the Capital Centre to catch our game of the month. This jersey was worn for the majority of the time we went, with the exception of the '95-'96 season. This was also great because of the stars and patriotic theme that went with it, but the change was apparently needed. These are still pretty sharp duds.

2. Hartford Whalers (1992-1997): Not only is the logo classic, but it's a bit easier on the eyes than the old green jerseys. The addition of navy blue and grey make this jersey a slick design with a modern, fashionable appeal to it. Anything to get over the Cooperall debacle of the '80's.

3. Home Yellow Jerseys (1967-1989): Whether it be the Vancouver Canucks (version one and version two), the California Golden Seals, or the LA Kings (version one and version two); the home jerseys in the color yellow was something different. It got away from traditional whites and gave it some pizzaz. Whether it worked or not is debatable, but it was very memorable. Honorable mention the Boston Bruins old jerseys and recent third jerseys, as well as the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sunday jerseys.

4. Phoenix Coytoes (1996-2003): When they moved from Winnipeg and became the Coyotes, these jerseys were out there, but they meant something. They has almost a Southwestern feel to it and a decent design to the logo and all that jazz. I liked it, but some within my family were not so fond of it. I still wish I hadn't given away my jersey to a Baltimore radio personality.

5. Colorado Rockies (1976-1982): This jersey is pretty much an evolution of the KC Scouts jersey the team had when it was in Kansas City, but this one help incorporate the Colorado flag into the jersey, as well as keeping a pretty interest color scheme to it, as well. Of course, they moved from Denver to New Jersey to become the Devils.

Honorable Mentions
-Winnipeg Jets (version one and version two): You can't go wrong with this beauty
-Calgary Flames (1980-1994) Though they have nice ones now, this brought the ATL with them
-New York Islanders (1995-1998) Good thought in premise, hunger for fishsticks in hindsight
-Pittsburgh Penguins (1980-1992) Classic look and color, skating penguin a plus
-Minnesota North Stars (1988-91) Sleek logo with new black pants

So what's your favorite jerseys from the days of yore?? Ship us an email at the Show and tell us all about your favorite jersey and why. Also, you could berate me for making this picks, so do it.

As an aside, you all need to check out for the upcoming playoff push. Not only is it informative, but Cap'n Bosh has put out a Guide for Grading Playoff Beards that definitely something you should be able to check out and enjoy. So do it.....

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lucky Luc Leaving League

You have to love the usage of alliteration. But, today, Luc Robitaille announced he was going to call it a career at the end of this season. Though his game had slowed down this year, he brought a leadership and ora to the Kings lockerroom that couldn't be beat. What he does for leadership on the team is something that 29 other teams wish they were able to have on a daily basis.

In 1984, the Kings took a chance with Robitaille with their 9th Round pick, since they really had nothing to lose. His lack of skating ability and ability to be pushed around in the corners easily made his stock drop to 171st pick, but it paid off greatly for the Kings. After two more years playing for the Hull Olympiques in the QMJHL, Robitaille came to the Kings and tore it up as a rookie. With his 45 goals and 39 assists in 79 games, Robitaille took the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year and never looked back. After recording 392 goals and 411 assists in his first stint with the Kings, Robitaille played on the Penguins and Rangers for three years total to limited success (70 goals, 89 assists), Robitaille returned to La-La Land to reel off three straight 35+ goal seasons after a slumping first year back.

Robitaille signed with the Detroit Red Wings in the summer of 2001, with hopes of gaining a Stanley Cup. Robitaille was a big player in the Red Wings' run at the Cup in 2001, registering 30 goals in the regular season and finally getting his Cup that summer. The second year in Detroit was a disaster, which lead him back to LA. Though he has been benched in the past months, Robitaille is doing what he able to do for the betterment of the team. This January, Robitaille broke the franchise records for goals with 500.

However, what he has done on the ice isn't all this stellar player has done. This past off-season, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Robitaille and his wife Stacia opened up their home to four families affected by the Hurricane and opened up Shelter For Serenity. Because of that, and other charitible causes he has done, Robitaille is up for the Bill Masterson Trophy this season.

Looking back, the 171st pick in the 1984 Draft turned out to accomplish plenty in his career. Whether it be his 668 goals, his 726 assists, his eight all-star appearances, his five first team All-Star team bids, his two second team All-Star team bids, or his work off the ice; Robitaille is a class act and real loss to the game. Someone mentioned on a message board that they had wished Robitaille did this earlier so they could honor him throughout the year. The thing is, Robitaille is not the kind of guy to make a big to-do about it. He's going out on his own terms and doing it his way. If only there were more players like Lucky Luc out there.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Predators Becoming the Prey??

If you haven't heard by now, Tomas Vokoun is done for the year with a blood ailment which will leave the Nashville Predators in a very bad position when it comes to making a run in the playoffs. Of course, before I go on to rant and rave about what's going to happen next in Music City, USA, best wishes out to Vokoun, who was having a decent season this year, and will have to battle more than pucks on his road to recovery.

So, what's next for the Predators. Vokoun was a big reason they were doing so well. Now, the debate will begin on what the Preds will do. Right now, Chris Mason is the defacto starter. Though he hasn't gotten much time to prove himself, Mason could be ready to go in for the long haul in the playoffs, but as of late, his performances have been subpar at best. With two losses coming to the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks, the Nashville fateful will have to be holding their breathe come playoff time.

With the floundering of Mason, the big question is if coach Barry Trotz will go with Mason, or try out Pekka Rinne to see what he can do. The big cliche is that a goalie could be the "next Miikka Kiprusoff" in the playoffs when they come in with little experience. It could be an interesting experience, but just because they are both Finns doesn't ultimately mean that it could be a repeat performance. Yet, the Preds could be out of options if Mason decides to crap out on them. Plus, Rinne has had plenty of playing time in the AHL this season, recording 30 wins in 51 apperances this season for the Milwaukee Admirals.

The good thing that Preds have for them is that they have a pretty potent offense that could hold off any on-slaught that the opposition could put forth, but the playoffs are all about defensive play. The Preds have a fairly young defense that could get exposed early and often by whomever is facing them. This is where building from a young team could become a problem. We'll see what happens though, as we all know that strangers thing have occured before in the NHL Playoffs.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Hindsight 20/20-- Western Conference

If you thought that the East was a little out of whack, then you may want to sit down for the West. Now, it's not as bad as some would think, but there are some choices out there that would make you scratch your head and want to kill whomever wrote this up. If you're really interested, email the Show and we'll pass along some information.

So, here's a look at the THN's Western Conference preview. The parenthesis are place where they stand as of Sunday Night:

1. Calgary Flames (3rd)
2. Detroit Red Wings (1st)
3. Anaheim Mighty Ducks (5th)
4. San Jose Sharks (T-7th)
5. Colorado Avalanche (6th)
6. Vancouver Canucks (9th)
7. Los Angeles Kings (10th)
8. Edmonton Oilers (T-7th)
9. Dallas Stars (2nd)
10. Phoenix Coyotes (12th)
11. Chicago Blackhawks (14th)
12. Columbus Blue Jackets (13th)
13. Nashville Predators (4th)
14. St. Louis Blues (15th)
15. Minnesota Wild (11th)

The thing I don't understand is how a team like the Predators, who had an amazing season last year, could be counted out so quickly. They have some above average goaltending in Tomas Vokoun, they were able to get Paul Kariya and Steve Sullivan on a line, plus Marek Zidlicky and Kimmo Timonen were amazing last year. Add that to the incoming of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter and you have a pretty good defensive crew to counteract the speedy offense.

The Stars are another team I don't really understand how they pegged so low. Sure, injuries and off-ice issues took their toll in '03-'04; but regardless of that, Mike Modano and Bill Guerin should still be considered premier forwards. Add that to the silence scoring machine Jere Lehtinen and gritty play of Brendan Morrow and you have a good combo to have a winning club. Not only all that, but Marty Turco can be a Vezina worthy goalie when he wants to be and with his 40 wins this year, that is something that backs it up.

Luckily for the author, the rest of the list isn't as asinine as the Eastern Conference was, but when you have a Toronto writer do the East, then you know it was going to be out there.

Everyone knew the West was going to be tough, but I think in the end it was pretty much assured what eight teams would be in, it was just in what order is the only thing to really be determined. I'm sure next season would be a little easier to gauge with the game actually back in action

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Hindsight 20/20-- Eastern Conference

As I was rummaging through my old Hockey News from this season, I came across the season preview for this season. Amazingly enough, it had the prediction of where the teams would finish at the end of the year. The reality of it is that it couldn't be further from what is actually happening, but who can blame them. I don't think many could have thought of some teams doing what they are doing. So, here's the breakdown of THN's picks with where they actually are in the standings in parenthesis (as of Saturday Night). Here's a look at the Eastern Conference today, with the West coming tomorrow (damn east coast bias):

1. Philadelphia Flyers (5th)
2. Tampa Bay Lightning (T-7th)
3. Ottawa Senators (T-1st)
4. Boston Bruins (13th)
5. New Jersey Devils (6th)
6. Pittsburgh Penguins (15th)
7. Atlanta Thrashers (9th)
8. Toronto Maple Leafs (10th)
9. Florida Panthers (11th)
10. Montreal Canadiens (T-7th)
11. New York Islanders (12th)
12. New York Rangers (3rd)
13. Buffalo Sabres (4th)
14. Carolina Hurricanes (T-1st)
15. Washington Capitals (14th)

Now, to be honest, you couldn't have predicted that the tandem on Broadway (Kevin Weekes and Henrik Lundqvist) would be as dominant as they have been, but surprises come in odd situations. The other New York teams in the mix, Buffalo, has just been like the team that made it to the Cup in '99, a gritty, win at all cost team; however they haven't had the best of luck down the stretch, but it's getting better.

The Hurricanes are a team that had a ton of talent and a ton of unknown variables. Martin Gerber, who some thought outplayed J-S Giguere in Anaheim, has shown his top game; Eric Staal is living up to his high Draft status, while guys like Aaron Ward and Mike Commodore have been quietly having superb defensive seasons.

However, the Bruins all but threw away their chances with the trade of Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov, which resulted in Mike O'Connell having to find a new job, which could be the first of many for the B's.

The Penguins were a team that loaded up around Sidney Crosby looking for a renaissance. That, obviously, didn't happen. Though they looked good on paper, the weakness was on defense and in goal. It was alright that they could score 5 goals a night, like everyone else in the league, but a good offense does not a winning team make. If I'm the Pens and I get the first choice of the Draft-- I go after Erik Johnson to shore up some defense for the years to come, even if they aren't in Pittsburgh.

Of course, the old saying is hindsight is 20/20, and this is proving to be true. No one could expect what the new NHL would have brought. Obviously, the tides have turned and some players who plenty thought would have given up has found their stride and are tearing up the league. It's an odd animal in the new NHL, but it almost shows even more parity in the game than there already is.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Team Teemu is Back

At the beginning of this season, many people email me about who I think would be a darkhorse in making some noise in the their fantasy game. I thought about it for a little, thinking about the people who could come out of utter obscurity and I came up with one name: Teemu Selanne. Some people looked at his stats in Colorado (16g, 16a) and thought I was crazy. Thankfully, he is proving me right.

Whether it be the location change back to a familiar place or the pressure of not having to win or if it was just the ability to play more-- Selanne has gotten back to his old ways. So far in 74 contest, Selanne has 38 goals and 46 assist for 84 points. Ironically enough, that's his highest point total since the end of his last tenure with the Mighty Ducks in '99-'00. And back then, he was with his buddy Paul Kariya.

The big mistake that Selanne made was going to Colorado with Kariya. We all know the Avalanche are a deep, talented team, but it's for that reason that neither Selanne or Kariya could get their game started. They were lost amongst the other talented players on the roster and got lost in the fold.

However, Selanne was able to latch onto the Ducks with Brian Burke, which was his best career move yet. Along with the young talent like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, the Ducks are on the verge of getting clinching a playoff spot and could be a team to beat in the playoffs with how well they've been playing in the last month or so. So, poolies-- if the Ducks get in, I wouldn't count out Selanne as one of your top picks.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The King of Old School

Now, I'm not talking about Steve Corino, though he is one guy who is great at promos and a helluva straight shooter, but I'm talking about Josh Harding. For those who haven't seen Harding when playing for the Houston Aeros or in his NHL debut against St. Louis, Harding is big on the old school of goaltending. His mask has an homage to those before him in the full faced mask. Now, his pads have taken it a step further:

I have to say, those are one of the cooler sets of pads out there. The set goes well with the Wild jerseys and for the fact that Minnesota is the "State of Hockey." Also, it's another form of retro that some may have no seen before. Though Andy Moog did try to resurrect the brown pads back in '93-'94, but it didn't work too well for him.

However, in the end, it shows that Harding doesn't forget those before him and that he respects the heritage of the game he is playing. Some players in different sports can wear retro unis and clothing, but not really know about the actual heritage that comes with it.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Logo Madness

If you haven't been able to see it yet, the Anaheim Ducks reportedly had a leak of their proposed new logo and wordmark for when the name change happens at the end of this season. Chris Creamer's Sports Logos Community was all over it. The picture below is what is being circulated around the web. This shot was apparently taken by a Kings fans on his phone and posted on the Let's Go Kings boards, which explains the quality:It looks a little odd, for sure, but you have to give points for originality. The webbed-footed "D" and different colors is a change of pace, but like my wife said-- we need to find the laughing dog to help this duck hunt along. Of course, I went as far as saying that they need sponsorship from Bass Pro Shops, but you get the idea.

This could be the start of the a whole slough of changes for some teams either logo wise or jersey wise, but I don't know if it will happen. With RBK not going the "swift" design route like some have thought, it will definitely be interesting to see what the actual jersey and logo looks like when they unveil it either before or after the Cup Finals.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Heeeeerrrrre's Johnny

If you have been watching the Washington Capitals games as of late, you haven't seen the normal #37 of Olie Kolzig in the net. However, with his play in net, it would be pretty hard to tell Kolzig's play apart from Brent Johnson's play. Johnson must really like it in the Capitals organization, because it seems he has been playing to stay on the team after his contract expires this summer.

In his past four starts, Johnson has made 167 saves in 176 shots on net. In those games, he is 2-2 with a 2.25 GAA and .949 save percentage. Though the Caps are long out of it, if they can get Johnson re-signed; it could prove well for the team as a whole to have two quality keepers at their disposal. However, it hasn't been all great for Johnson in the past couple of seasons.

Early on, the Blues looked to Johnson to be the future of the club in between the pipes. After a 19-9-2 record in 31 games during the '00-'01 season, Johnson took over the starting duties in '01-'02. It proved to be good for the Blues as Johnson went 34-20-4 and went on to collect three shutouts in the first round of the playoffs. However, after that, it started to slide for Johnson.

After a sub-par '02-'03 campaign where he went 16-13-5, the writing was on the wall for Johnson in '03-'04. At the '03 trade deadline, the Blues were able to acquire Chris Osgood from the New York Islanders, who took over the starting gig for the Blues. Johnson made only 10 appearances for the Blues in '03-'04 before he was shipped off to the Phoenix Coyotes for Mike Sillinger. In eight games, Johnson's slide continued going 1-6-1 in his games.

After the lockout, the Canucks signed him, but has to waive him, in order to get him sent to the Manitoba Moose in the AHL. The Canucks were not so lucky, as the Caps picked up Johnson for his experience. The Caps were without a back-up goalie with any kind of experience in-between the pipes. It didn't pay off at first, but slowly and surely, Johnson is coming up as a steal for the Caps. Granted, this won't get their younger goalies any NHL PT, but I think the more experience the better for the Caps.

If Johnson will stay with the Caps is yet to be determined, but Johnson is definitely getting noticed after this little stretch. And looking at it, it couldn't happen to a better person. Through the entire mess with the Blues, Johnson has been able to work through it and get back his form and back on his winning ways.