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December 31, 2011

Good Riddance 2011...Hello 2012...I'll talk to y'all next year...

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3:58 PM: End of the 1st...still 2-0 Flyers alumni...

I'll be spending New Year's Eve with some family members...out with the old in with the new...so enjoy...

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3:47 PM: Shjon Podein picks up the Rick Tocchet garbage and makes it 2-0 Philly...one too many moves for Tocchet...he must still be thinking of his recent trip to the Bahamas (or the $18,000 that was seized by customs officials, or so the report said)...

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3:44 PM: Been a long time since we've seen Lindros feed Leclair for a goal...Mark Recchi, completing the Legion of Doom, pasted Pat Hickey into the glass to set up the play...easy to see Recchi is just recently retired...1-0 Philadelphia...

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3:37 PM: The 66 year old Bernie Parent played 5 minutes, and made a good save on a Ron Duguay breakaway...now it's Mark LaForest in net for Philly...John Vanbiesbrouck is the Rangers goalie...Dan Blackburn is the backup...

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3:31 PM: Alumni game in Philadelphia - the biggest ovations at Citizen's Bank Park were for Bernie Parent, Eric Lindros, John Leclair and Jeremy Roenick...biggest boos were for Mike Keenan and Mark Messier...

I've seen Lauren Hart sing along with a recording of Kate Smith's "God Bless America" many times, but having them do it in a much bigger stadium outside was simply surreal...

I can't believe Ken Linseman still has those goggles...he claims they're prescription?!?

 

December 30, 2011

11:52 PM: The plot thickens at the World Juniors...the Czech Republic beat the Americans 5-2, meaning Canada officially clinches first in the pool and will get an automatic bye to the semi-finals...as if this wasn't good enough, Team USA would need Denmark to come up big against Finland to guarantee them a spot in the quarterfinals...yeah, it wasn't going to happen...the Finns crushed the Danes 10-1...and the Americans are OUT...tomorrow night's New Year's Eve clash between Canada and the US means nothing...but you know we'll do our best to try and pour some salt in the wounds...and the Americans, they'll be playing for pride...

One less nemesis to worry about...and one less game to play...should bode well for Canada's quest for Gold...because in this country, winning Silver is not an option...

Another Daniel Alfredsson milestone complete tonight...as the Sens played host to the Calgary Flames...and it was all Calgary early...not even 30 seconds into the game Rene Bourque was credited for an Eric Condra own goal, and it went downhill from there...it was 3-0 Flames after one, but the Sens clawed and scratched their way back into this one, finally tying it 3-3 in the 3rd...they would need overtime, where Alfredsson would score his 400th career goal, and the game winner...Erik Karlsson scored to tie the game and registered an assist on Alfie's winner...Flames get away with a point and will probably wonder how they let that one get away...Sens can breathe a sigh of relief after one turkey of an effort against Montreal on Tuesday...Jarome Iginla still sits at 498 career goals...

Alex Ovechkin finally appears to have some life, as he scored twice in a 3-1 win against Buffalo...Nick Backstrom with the icing on the cake, and Jochen Hecht the only goal for the Swords...

The New York Rangers cruised to a 4-1 win over Florida, in their last game before the Winter Classic...five different goal scorers, including Brad Richards with his 13th...

Martin Erat does it again for Nashville in a shootout...they went to a fifth round against St. Louis, and get the 2-1 shootout victory...Erat just seems to have that knack for coming up big in these things...Matt Halischuk and T.J. Oshie with the regulation time goals...

And in the Windy City it was Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook for the Hawks, Justin Abdelkader and Todd Bertuzzi for Detroit...3-2, Chicago...

Action gets going early tomorrow, as the Edmonton Oilers are on the Island for a 12:30 start...and at 3 PM it's the Philadelphia outdoor alumni game...2/3 of the Legion of Doom will be there...Eric Lindros and John Leclair...Mark Messier and Nick Kypreos are just two expected to suit up for the Rangers...it'll be an all star lineup, for sure...the Rangers squad will be mostly made up of members of the 94 Stanley Cup team, minus Glenn Healy and Mike Richter (John Vanbiesbrouck will be there)...Philadelphia has alumni from every decade represented, right up into the Lindros era...should be fun to watch...it's too bad that Mikael Renberg, who now works as an analyst for SVT state television in Sweden, most likely won't make it as he is tied up in Alberta at the Juniors covering the Swedish team...Puck Daddy reported earlier this week that Renberg's producer Tweeted directly at Lindros something to the effect that he already has a previous commitment to the tournament...must be hard finding good hockey analysts that can speak Swedish...

 

 

December 29, 2011

11:26 PM: It wasn't pretty if for Denmark, but did we really expect anything less?  10-2, Canada wins...they've now out shot their opponents 23-3 in 3 games...a loss for Team USA tomorrow and Canada officially clinches the pool before the two even hook up...the tournament, however, is just getting started...it'll really start to heat up after Saturday...

A busy night in the NHL...was a very spirited affair in Minnesota for the 6th and final meeting of the season between the Oilers and Wild...a 4-3 Wild win...this game came down to a three goal 2nd period for the Wild, 2 of them scored 19 seconds apart...Dany Heatley with the GWG...two big scraps between Darcy Hordichuk and Matt Kassian...and Ryan Smyth almost started a brawl at the final buzzer as Nick Backstrom cross checked him in the back, and as always, Smitty didn't back down...Wild snap an 8 game skid, but oddly enough, ties Vancouver in points, for now...the Canucks are in Anaheim...and leading 4-0...

Just watched the only goal of the Winnipeg-Los Angeles game, which was more or less a goalie show between Jonathan Bernier and Chris Mason...this one was scoreless after regulation...Evander Kane got the winner in overtime, the Jets win a big one, 1-0...already holding down the 8th and final playoff spot in the East, the Jets will move into 7th, tied in points with Toronto...they're only 4 points back of Florida for the Southeast Division lead!!...it's going to be a lot of fun if that team makes the playoffs...never mind the fact that they're playing in the Eastern Conference...the Leafs will invade MTS Centre on New Year's Eve...Toronto's penalty kill is brutal, and so is Carolina's power play...something had to give tonight, and it did...Canes get a rare power play goal to beat the Leafs 4-3 in OT...it was already going to be a fun game, but now the two will be fighting to gain an edge in the playoff race...

Hey when was the last time we had a three way race for the final two playoffs spots, and all of them Canadian teams?!  Winnipeg, Toronto, and Ottawa...Sens trail Toronto by 2 points for the last spot...all three teams have played 37 games...we won't see it again, so bring it on!!

Philadelphia wins 4-2 in Pittsburgh thanks to Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot both scoring on their former team...

Vinny Lecavalier got the GWG in a 4-3 score against Montreal...but it's two controversial goals that the Habs will be complaining about...one that was called a goal, even though the referee "intended to blow the whistle"...another goal from Martin St. Louis was a borderline high stick, but was ruled to be below the cross bar...the sky is falling in Montreal...and so are their playoff hopes...

Calgary was 3-1 worse than the NY Islanders...Flames are in Ottawa tomorrow night...

And stop the presses...the Columbus Blue Jackets win their first regulation road game of the season...4-1...against Dallas??  They'll take it, but it won't help their cause too much...Jackets remain in the NHL basement...but, hey - at least they won a game on the road before the calendar year changed...

Aside from the Canucks laying a beating on the Ducks, the Desert Dogs are in Denver, and down 3-2 in the 2nd against the Avs...

You can see the intensity already taking it up another notch...the stretch run is on...well, maybe not yet...but it's definitely heating up out there...with the exception of Anaheim and Columbus, it's still pretty much up in the air...

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8:28 PM: 15-1...that's how much Team Canada has outscored their opposition so far in the 2012 Under 20 World Junior Hockey tournament...and that's only after about 2 1/3 games!!  About 5 minutes left in the 1st period between Canada and Denmark, already 2-0 for the good guys...was a 5-0 shutout against the Czechs last night, and an 8-1 drubbing of the Finns on Monday...Canada can win their pool before New Year's Eve...but the annual Canada-USA tilt never disappoints...a bye to the semifinals is on the line...so far so good...

Also keeping an eye on Philadelphia-Pittsburgh and Edmonton-Minnesota...it's Jaromir Jagr's first return to the Pitts as a member of the Flyers...naturally, they're booing him at every touch of the puck...Flyers still lead 3-1 near the end of the 2nd...aside from Pronger, Philly is getting back some of their walking wounded...and of course, Mr. Sid is still out for the Pens...still listed as day to day...I really hope he can make it back for the All Star Game...

Better make that 3-0 Canada...Mark Stone, the Brandon Manitoba native and Ottawa Senators' prospect, has his fifth of the tournament...scored a hat trick in the first game...

 

Christmas Day, December 25, 2011

2:48 PM: Well, what do you say, what do you know?  As the old John Lennon song goes, another year over, a new one just begun, and so this is Christmas...

I have to confess, 2011 for me, aside from a couple of weeks when I was on vacation, has been very trying both personally and professionally.  There has been no shortage of bad news, whether it be the earthquake and tsunami over in Japan, whether it's the abnormally large amount of losses in the hockey community, the Russian plane crash notwithstanding, or whether it be added pressure in an already stressful job, or even shocking family news...just seems to me that every time the calendar changes to another day there's something else out there to worry about...just before Christmas, in fact, we got news that a distant relative from Alberta had suddenly passed away...this year, for what it's worth, has simply been relentless, and I for one am happy to see it coming to an end...especially if what they say is true about 2012, what with the whole world coming to an end and all...;)

Of course, as every year, we make the most of it, and gather with family, friends, and look forward to better times ahead...today my immediate family are keeping things low key...tomorrow, my cousin has decided to have the big gathering...and in the past weeks, there has been no shortage of the usual gatherings on my better half's side of the family, including the usual Christmas Eve get together...uLAr's little one, Ethan, although only a year and 4 mths old, is growing up so fast, and is at that age where he's just about to start talking...kids are so innocent at that age, when they just start to grow and start to recognize people and things...he's been such a blessing...we all can hardly wait for future Christmas gatherings, when he'll undoubtedly be the most excited of all of us for Santa Clause...

It's my wish for both myself and everybody reading this, that 2012 brings a lot of health, a lot of good times, and, dammit, maybe even a lot of money if we're lucky enough...whoever you are, whatever you celebrate, enjoy, and most importantly enjoy responsibly...we've all worked hard and we're all in this together...

So, barring any more unforseen circumstances, I promise this blog will see more regular updates over the coming days and weeks as we gear up for my favorite time of year aside from the Stanley Cup Playoffs - the World Junior tournament...held this year in Edmonton and Calgary...Team Canada once again looks good, and you know revenge against the Russians will be uppermost on their mind, but, Team USA is still looking strong as they still have the core of their 2010 championship team intact...Finland and Sweden are always dark horses...no better tournament on the planet in my opinion, and it gets underway tomorrow, alongside the NHL's return from a short Christmas break...although we won't see Ryan Nugent-Hopkins play for Canada, he's definitely earned the right to be where he is...I'll bet the Team Canada brass regrets cutting him a year ago...they could have definitely used him in the third period of the Gold Medal game, but what do I know?...

 

December 7, 2011

10:31 PM: Brutal giveaway by Marc-Andre Gragnani to the NHL's 2nd leading scorer...Claude Giroux...goal...Flyers win in OT, again...1G 3A for Giroux...

Jeff Skinner scored on the power play late in the 1st...another funny play as Jeff Petry was trying to clear the puck around the boards, it went up, hit a stanchion, hit the back of the net and right into the slot...a gift for Kirk Muller and company...it's 1-1 after 20 minutes...

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10:04 PM: Another goal review...this one is deemed good...they're giving it to Magnus Paajarvi, but it deflected off Eric Belanger's skate and off the top of Cam Ward's stick...1-0 Edmonton...

Drew Stafford tied the score 4-4...overtime in Buffalo...

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9:54 PM: Oilers look like a team that hasn't played since Saturday...

Chad LaRose thought he had scored but the replay clearly shows a distinct kicking motion...looked like he was just regaining his balance, but those are the rules...goal was disallowed...although I kind of like Ray Ferraro's take on...as long as you don't throw it in, if it crosses the line it should count...

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9:42 PM: John Carlson, empty netter...5-3...

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9:41 PM: Can't tell if Vokoun or Karl Alzner made the save...but Alfie can't believe it...

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9:36 PM: 6 on 4...23 seconds left in the penalty...

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9:35 PM: Joel Ward...slashing...Jesse Winchester sold that one...and the referee took the bait...

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9:34 PM: Alex Semin, another Washington player in the doghouse, took an undisciplined hooking penalty, and Milan Michalek made him pay just 5 seconds into the power play...4-3...5th goal in as many games for Michalek...17th of the year?  Takes over the league lead in goal scoring...

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9:29 PM: Make that 9 for Ovie...as he looked skyward...then Troy Brouwer went right back and scored again...4-2, Caps with under 5 minutes left...as fans head to the parking lot...why, I'm not sure, when you consider some of the late game heroics the Sens have managed to pull off this season...

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9:16 PM: I'm not too sure I like the "Dale Hunter" stamp on the Washington Capitals...they're taking a few too many liberties for my liking...

Ever since the Ovechkin spear on Chris Neil the fans at Scotiabank Place have been booing him...not bad, two Capital cities give him the Bronx cheer...

Nick Backstrom ties it 2-2 on a power play, his 10th...so far Ovechkin has only been able to equal the number on his jersey...so you might say he's off to a slow start, but consider this - 8 goals 11 assists for 29 points in 26 games...Sidney Crosby has only played 8 games, has 2 goals, 10 assists for 12 points...now you might say, well he's still averaging more than a point per game...difference is Crosby is a +7, Ovechkin is -7...Craig Anderson has stoned him twice in the 3rd, though...look out...

End of the 2nd period in Buffalo...

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9:13 PM: Jaromir Jagr is almost halfway to 20...his 9th...4-3 Flyers...what the hell is with that goal scoring salute?

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9:08 PM: Tied 3-3 in Buffalo...seems Scott Hartnell is always there when the Flyers need him...his 12th...

Milan Michalek just missed scoring on a breakaway...the Nick Foligno goal was not a power play goal after all...penalty ended 3 seconds before the puck went in...

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9:02 PM: Ryan Miller can't catch a break...got run into by his own player, and then in the 3rd got his helmet knocked off by a Flyers' player...

Philly is within 1 goal...it's 3-2 with about 8 minutes left in the 2nd...3rd period in Ottawa just underway...

Pittsburgh is keeping Sidney Crosby out of action for at least the next two days for "precautionary measures"...not too sure what that means, but he did have a pretty rough game against Boston...call it day to day, for now...or...call it the Philly Flu...Pens meet the Flyers tomorrow night...

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8:41 PM: Nick Foligno, on the other hand...marked improvement over last year...didn't score his first goal last year until November (against Edmonton, go figure)...now he already has 9...maybe he'll take after his father after all and become a perennial 20 goal scorer...

Power play goal, Sens lead 2-1...

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8:39 PM: So, Mr. Murray...tell me again, just how long is Sergei Gonchar's contract!?

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8:37 PM: 5 on 3 Ottawa...Washington was serving a too many men penalty, and somewhat of a sketchy hooking call...make up call!?!?

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8:27 PM: Triple header Wednesday on TSN...double header on the main network, and another game on TSN 2...Washington is playing Ottawa for the second time since Saturday...Philadelphia is in Buffalo...and later on, rematch of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final as the Carolina Hurricanes visit Edmonton...

Chris Neil will have Alex Ovechkin in his sights...earlier, an Ovechkin got Neil in the stomach with the blade of his stick, but when Neil went down he got the unsportsmanlike diving penalty?...was 1-0 Caps thanks to Jeff Halpern's 2nd of the year, but Erik Condra has just scored to make it 1-1...it's getting a little chippy out there, and I'm not talking about the ice!!  Tomas Vokoun didn't even see Condra until the puck was in the net...

In Buffalo, a 1-0 Sabres lead is now a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes...

 

December 5, 2011

11:53 PM: Well, Gary Bettman hinted on his XM Satellite Radio show that the league wanted to address the realignment issue before the All Star Break...well, it got done before Christmas!!

The board of governors met today and managed to come to a consensus on what we can expect beyond this year...the league is moving away from a 2 conference, 6 division alignment (about time!), to a four conference alignment based on geography...it had become abundantly clear a long time ago the old way just wasn't working anymore...(I've only been saying it for years)...now with Winnipeg getting Atlanta's old team, they just couldn't have the team playing in the same division as Florida, Tampa, Carolina and Washington beyond this season...then you have to address the Detroit and Columbus situation, they're in the Eastern time zone but play in the Western Conference...then you'd potentially have to deal with Colorado...do they want to play in an all Canadian division, if you move Minnesota out and Winnipeg in?  And, more importantly...how do you accomodate potential future expansion/relocation?

Well, here's how it's going to break down...the conferences themselves will eventually get names, I'm sure, but for now it's going to go like this:

Conference A: Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver (West Coast?)

Conference B: Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis, Winnipeg (Central?)

Conference C: Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto (North/Southeast?  Could call it Northeast if not for Florida and Tampa...East Coast A?)

Conference D: Carolina, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington (East Coast B, but, realistically, Raleigh is no more East Coast than Charlotte...Pittsburgh as well, is not on the coast...)

2 of the as yet to be named conferences will have 7 teams, the other 2 will have eight teams (you can start the expansion/relocation rumors/debates now!)...for now, the teams will play other teams within their conference either five times or six times, this will rotate every year...this will guarantee that every team will play against every team at least twice...should be interesting...as for the naming, probably won't be able to name them based on the region as the alignment still isn't 100% geographically perfect...

The only thing I could imagine that would make sense is the league maybe names them after a recent former NHL legend?  Like Conference A could be Conference Gretzky (no contest)...Conference B could be Conference Yzerman or Conference Chelios...Conference C could be Conference Andreychuk or Conference Muller or Roy...even Gilmour or Neely could get a nod there (hell, even throw "May-Day" into the mix)...and Conference D could be Conference Lemieux or Conference Messier...even Conference Stevens, Niedermayer, or even Lindros...

Notice Conference C...7 teams...who's missing?...Quebec?  Hamilton?  Kitchener?  Or a second team in Toronto?  You could easily slide Quebec into either division C or D...one has to think the league and its board have strongly considered expansion or a future relocation...one can look at Conference D, and ask the question, with teams returning to Minnesota and Winnipeg, do we get a team back in Connecticut?  Do we expand to Baltimore (well...maybe not)?!  Does the league take a risk and put a team in Las Vegas?  All questions we're sure to see answers for in years to come...one thing is clear with this new alignment - the NHL, whether Bettman will admit it or not, is building towards a 32 team league...

And of course, the most important question...how will the playoffs work?  Just like they did before the 1993/94 season, when the NHL went with the present day top eight in the East or West, regardless of seeding...under the new alignment, just like it was in the days of the old Wales and Campbell conferences, top four in each Conference qualify...1st plays 4th, 2nd plays 3rd...no more concern about four teams in a five team division making the playoffs, versus only one or two in another...never really thought that was fair, to be totally honest...so, after a Conference champion is crowned, one can ascertain that the winner of Conference A will play Conference B and the winner of Conference C will play Conference D, with the winners of those series meeting in the Stanley Cup final...might actually be cool if they mix it up...pit Conference A against Conference C and then Conference B against Conference D...but that would go against the grain of what the league is trying to accomplish here...a better regional alignment that is more travel friendly than ever...but, once you get to the final rounds, who cares?  Want to win the Cup?  Bring it on...

Sure, there isn't any perfect alignment...two conferences will get 3 Canadian teams...Winnipeg will be by themselves, and by today's standards at least, will have arguably the toughest division to play in...so you have to think they won't be happy, but, they will have a much easier travel...I guess if you want a team back in Manitoba should be just happy that they are there...

Who should be happiest?  The two Florida based teams/fans/season ticket holders...Canadian snowbirds, who must easily make up at least 25% or better of the season ticket base in Sunrise and St. Petersburg (you could even argue 50% or better), may get to see Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa one more time per season depending on the rotation...and consider this...there are 3 original six teams in the same division with Florida and Tampa...yeah, Florida got a sweet deal here...should help boost interest down there...I have to tell you, it's a joke how the two Florida teams are received down there...I pointed out to no less than three people who told me they don't follow hockey in Florida that they have two teams?!

And if the league was looking to amp up the Pittsburgh-Washington rivalry, looks like they succeeded...

For the most part...looks like the NHL hit a home run...like I said, there isn't any perfect alignment, and there are sure to be many critics over what has been decided (particularly in Winnipeg)...but so be it...suck it up, lace 'em up and let's go...I have even seen one game under the new alignment and I already love what they've done (no more Minnesota in Edmonton's division - THANK YOU!!!!)...maybe I'm old school, but this gives it a modern flair...now hopefully they'll listen to me on the naming convention...they kind of have to, don't they?

We'll see...

Oh yeah, and there were some games tonight too...;-)...Boston wins again...3-1 against Pittsburgh...14-0-1 since November 1 are the Bruins...Ottawa doubles up on Tampa 4-2, Florida edges Washington 5-4...Toronto snaps their losing streak and the Rangers winning streak with a 4-2 win...and Phoenix wins 4-3 in a shootout against Chicago...

And...get this...Matthew Barnaby was charged with DWI...they will never learn, will they?  Enjoy responsibly folks...we want to talk to you, not about you...

 

December 4, 2011

10:37 PM: So with last night being the first of what should be several holiday family gatherings, I watched with great disdain the Calgary Flames' come from behind (twice) win against Edmonton...you could tell the Oilers played Friday night, and seemed to use up all of their energy in the first five minutes...after that, the parade to the penalty box ensued...Calgary scored on theirs, Edmonton could not even muster a shot...a couple of positives, though - both Darcy Hordichuk and Sam Gagner got their first goals of the season...Gagner especially looked relieved...he hadn't scored in more than 20 games...that made it 2-0, but it was all downhill from there, and in a real hurry...

Although...one that probably deserved a call but didn't get one...Shawn Horcoff took a brutal cross check to the ribs in the 2nd period...no call...yet, in the 3rd period, Ryan Smyth did the same thing to goalie Kiprusoff, who had way more chest protection, and he got called...can't touch the goalie but it's OK to try and hurt the captain...Horcoff did stay in the game, but you could tell he was in pain...

Anyway, it was the Flames' 100th regular season win against the Oilers since the franchise moved from Atlanta to Calgary...the Battle of Alberta all time record, 100-81-18-3, in favor of the Flames...shocking when you consider how loaded the Oilers were in the 80s...but then again, so were the Flames...

Last night in St. Louis, Ken Hitchcock was so impressed with the play of David Perron, it made him quip "we could use four more of him and we'll be fine"...Blues lost 5-2 to Chicago, but Perron scored in his first game after a 97 game absence due to a concussion...

Nashville's Jordin Tootoo can thank his lucky stars his team doesn't meet up with the Buffalo Sabres again this season...Ryan Miller returned to action after having also missed some concussion time, and all Tootoo could do was run roughshod over him...bad idea...not only did Miller go after him with both of his fists (with his glove and blocker still on!), the rest of the players on the ice went after him...least of all, the coach, Lindy Ruff, was not impressed...we'll have to keep our eyes open for the 2012-13 schedule...

And you can put the Markov rumors to rest...ie, the rumors that say he's coming back to the Habs' lineup...he is set to undergo yet another knee surgery...why do I get the feeling the once stalwart defenseman may not ever return?

 

December 3, 2011

12:37 AM: How could they not win?  Claude Giroux, his 14th of the season...in OT with the Flyers 4 on 3, wins the game 4-3...Philly comes all the way back...can you believe it?!  Safe to say, the referees helped decide that one...not to mention they helped spoil Bruce Boudreau's Ducks debut...ouch!!!

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12:32 AM: Double minor to Getzlaf...in OT...2 for the trip, 2 for unsportsmanlike for chirping at the ref...I don't know if I've ever seen this...I've seen 5 on 3, but never a double minor in a 5 minute overtime period...Flyers will get the rest of OT save for about 19 seconds on the power play...4 on 3...

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12:30 AM: OT at the Pond...or is that the Garage (Honda Center)?

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12:27 AM: 1:37 left and the Ducks are going on the power play...Voracek got called for the hook on Smith-Pelly...

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12:24 AM: 10th of the season for Scott Hartnell ties it 3-3...3 minutes left...lot of players hitting the 10 goal plateau tonight...

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12:04 AM: Well Hemsky looked pretty good on his 3rd of the year to make it 5-3...assist from Horcoff...and he would add another as he fed Jones for the empty netter and the hat trick goal...

6-3...that is now a final...

Jagr has scored his 8th and 2nd of the game as it's now 3-2, Ducks...that one could be interesting...but don't ask me how Jagr even has 1 goal after he couldn't even realize the puck bounced off his skate in the slot...doesn't look like much happening here with about 10 minutes left...

 

December 2, 2011

11:48 PM: So who's gonna get the shower of hats? - Jones, or Dorsett...his second of the game...it's 4-3...

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11:42 PM: Ryan O'Reilly got the shootout winner...Avs beat the Blues 3-2...

And then along came Jones...Ryan Jones...his 2nd of the game...4-2, Oil...seconds later he almost turned the trick shorthanded...

2nd intermission in Anaheim...

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11:37 PM: It took Ladislav Smid almost 2 years to score a goal, now he has 2 in less than 2 weeks...3-2...Oilers are buzzing...

Hemsky can still throw a hit, though...lowered the boom on Fedor Tyutin!!

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11:35 PM: Is it just me, or does Ales Hemsky have a hard time handling the puck this year?

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11:29 PM: Colorado tied their game 2-2...and they are in OT...Ryan O'Reilly with his usual 3rd period heroics, again...looks like that one is headed to a shootout...

Chicago shootout win...Jonathan Toews with the only goal for either side in a shootout...Toews with 1G, 1A, and the shootout winner...

Ryan Jones just tied Columbus with a wraparound...2-2...

And last I checked it's now 3-0 Ducks over Philly...make that 3-1...Jagr just scored his 7th...

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11:01 PM: Overtime in Chicago...

I love Nick Kypreos' comment about Wisniewski's lost tooth...what time is his dentist appointment tomorrow?  Two-thirty...(Tooth...hurty...har har har...)...

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10:53 PM: What?!?!  Dorsett shorthanded!??!?  2-1 Jackets...and this team is in last place!??!

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10:39 PM: Watching Columbus' first meeting with Edmonton this season...and it's clear the Oilers haven't forgotten what happened last time these two teams met at Rexall Place...that was the game Taylor Hall got into a fight with Derek Dorsett and effectively ended his season...

Of course, Hall is still out with that shoulder injury, but is expected back either before or after Christmas...

It's "once an Oiler always an Oiler night" as tonight they salute Grant Fuhr...they'll be doing a few of these...I still want one of those Ryan Smyth bobbleheads...guess I could always get out the Team Canada one...

Jared Boll and Darcy Hordichuk got into a good tilt...it was really no contest...Hordichuk got him down with one punch...and got an extra unsportsmanlike for excessive celebration...Darcy, Darcy, Darcy...then adding insult to injury, a too many men on the ice put the Jackets up 5 on 3 and Mark Letestu made them pay...

It's deadlocked 1-1, nicely into the 2nd...Jordan Eberle got the first goal just 21 seconds in on an early power play...he already has 10...Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has his 29th point of the season...should easily have at least four players with 20 goals by the time the year is finished...maybe 5...

Curtis Sanford just stopped a good Smyth-Eberle rush...that was going to be a beauty...despite Columbus' abysmal record, Sanford is posting the 3rd best GAA in the league...it's clear he hasn't played too many games...

Oh yes...and it has not been an easy time for James Wisniewski this year...started the season with a suspension...and tonight, lost a tooth thanks to a Ryan Jones errant high stick, one the refs didn't see...somebody on the Oilers' bench was taunting him...if you can read lips you won't have a hard time figuring out what his reply was...

Islanders and Hawks are in a 4-4 deadlock...8 different goal scorers there...about 10 minutes left in the 3rd...

Don't know if it's the Boudreau effect, but the Ducks are up 2-0 on the Flyers...Andrew Cogliano already has his 6th...he only scored 11 all of last year...

2-1 Blues in the 3rd against the Avalanche...final scores, Detroit was 4-1 better than Buffalo, and Minnesota are once again #1 after beating New Jersey 4-2...the Wild have been trading places with and keeping up the pace with Pittsburgh over the last few days...they're separated by a point...Kyle Brodziak had 2 more tonight...I really wonder where that offense was back when he was in Edmonton...

 

December 1, 2011

5:42 PM: Good night, and good luck...to one Mr. Mike Grier...he has today announced his retirement from the NHL after 14 seasons...the 36 year old gritty winger played 1,060 regular season games, recording 162 goals and 221 assists...Grier also played in 101 playoff games, making it to the post season in 11 out of his 14 seasons...not too shabby my friend...drafted by St. Louis, he was traded to Edmonton while attending Boston University - Grier was an Oiler for the first six years of his career, and hit the 20 goal mark twice...he has seen stops in Washington, Buffalo and San Jose before finishing the last two seasons back in Buffalo...

Seems Kirk Muller has added former Devils' coach and former team mate John Maclean to the Hurricanes' coaching staff...Rod Brind'Amour, Tom Barrasso and Dave Lewis remain on as assistants...

And, according to Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos, Bobby Ryan was approached by Ducks' G.M. Bob Murray today and told he is not on the trade block...read into that whatever you will...

Tonight, the Ovi-Sid rivalry writes another chapter...lucky for Sid, David Steckel is no longer a member of the Capitals...but even still, he better keep his head up...

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3:09 PM: As promised, here I am, back in blue...

I would have been back sooner...but what can I say, November was a very wacky month...one would have thought I could have gone on vacation for two weeks and then back to business, but not so...gotta love how real life gets in the way sometimes...

Seems November was equally as wacky both on the ice and off...

Let's see...we had four coaches fired (well, technically three, one of them was rehired last night!)...we had the defending Stanley Cup champions finally show up to the party (Boston went 12-0-1 in the month of November, after an absolutely unacceptable start for ANY team, let alone the champs)...the ongoing debate about headshots/suspensions continues (what can I say, being head disciplinarian is a thankless job)...

So first of all, I want to thank uLAr for texting me the games every weekend while I was away, allowing the weekend picks to continue...although it's obvious how little exposure I had to hockey, as I didn't fare very well...well plenty of time to catch up...

Anyway, it was during the 2nd weekend away that he advised me that St. Louis had fired their coach and hired Ken Hitchcock, which so far has proven to be a good move as the Blues players appear to have bought into his system...for now...

Then, this week, not one, not two, but now, three more firings...Bruce Boudreau was let go in Washington, as it had become apparent that he was no longer getting through to the team, particularly one Alex Ovechkin...his replacement was none other than one of the greatest players to ever don a Washington jersey, Dale Hunter...that situation is interesting - Hunter left behind a good position as head coach of the London Knights of the OHL, and only signed a one year (rest of this season) deal as head coach of the Caps...so, my guess is if he is not happy behind the bench in Washington, then he can always fall back on the Knights...of course, depending on how well or not the Caps do at the end of the season will probably weigh very heavily on both his and the team's decision to keep him around...once considered a contender again, not looking so much of late...but we're still early...

Same day, Carolina let Paul Maurice go (again), and hired former Habs' bench boss Kirk Muller...

And then, late last night, despite winning their first game in awhile, the Anaheim Ducks let Randy Carlyle go and hired the aforementioned Bruce Boudreau...Duck Duck Bruce as the headline on NHL.com says today...plenty of speculation going on over Carlyle's treatment of star play Bobby Ryan, which led many to speculate a trade or a coach firing may be imminent...well, I guess we know our answer...don't, however, rule out a Ryan trade...looks like the Ducks will require another Corey Perry Rocket Richard-like season to make the playoffs again...

Of course, probably the biggest hockey story over the last several weeks has been the return to action of one Sidney Crosby...the first game back was a Monday night extravaganza against the NY Islanders, and showcased on HNIC, of all places...Sid does not look like a player who had not played since January...he stormed out of the gate with four points in his first game...and so far after only 5 games played he's already got 11 points (2G 9A)...this puts him 9th on the Pens in scoring...there are some players out there, no names mentioned (Sam Gagner) still looking for their first goal...Crosby is a special one, no doubt...so far it's looking like picking him in my hockey pool might pay off after all...

And staying with Pittsburgh for a second...they were in Montreal last Saturday taking on the Habs...late in the game Max Pacioretty blindsided Kris Letang with an elbow or shoulder to the head (you be the judge)...now he ended up getting 3 games for the play, and Letang came back and scored the eventual GWG, but Pacioretty, of all people, should know better...you have to love the karma, though...he gets 3 games for a blindside hit, and Zdeno Chara doesn't get suspended for almost taking his head off last year...not so sure if that would have been the case this year with Sheriff Shanahan in town...

So, those have been my takes from the last little while...still plenty of hockey to be played...and nice to see Edmonton actually in the hunt...now if only they could actually win a shootout...against Minnesota or anybody for that matter...hey Kyle (Brodziak)! - where was that offense a few years ago?!?  Anyhow, I know uLAr called it after the first 10 games, and I'm starting to believe it now - barring any unforseen circumstances, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will win the Calder trophy this year...he's built himself a comfortable 10 point lead in the rookie scoring race, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down...his youthful exhuberance has helped Jordan Eberle's game, not to mention Ryan Smyth's...and he's only 18...seems to me I've seen this movie many years before...but I'm not complaining...

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