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September 28, 2011

12:11 AM: Unbelievable finish...unbelievable collapses for Boston and Atlanta...down to their last out, Baltimore rallies to win 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th, and the Red Sox lose the crucial last game...Atlanta, needing to score to keep alive, sends up Chipper Jones, who strikes out...and then, double play to end the game...Braves lose 4-3...and St. Louis clinches the National League Wild Card...then, bottom of 12 for Tampa, and Evan Longoria is the hero of the day...lead off home run, the comeback is complete...the Rays erase a 7-0 deficit, and win it 8-7...with the Red Sox loss, the Rays win the American League Wild Card...

Braves were up 8 1/2 games to start September, Red Sox were up 9...both meltdown at the wrong time...

Somehow, the Yankees and Phillies still made it...division playoffs start Friday...last possible day to crown a World Series champion is October 27...to get started, Yankees get Detroit, and the Rays get the Texas Rangers...Philadelphia gets St. Louis, and it's Arizona returning to the post season, against Milwaukee??  You can tell I don't pay close attention, can't you?!  Well, we do know this much - no repeat for San Francisco...

The Brewers will be interesting to watch...they have that guy who wears his sunglasses at night...you know, Corey Hart...only relation to the 80s singer from Montreal is the name...the player was only 2 years old when that song came out...

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11:29 PM: If you think the Boston Red Sox stretch slide is remarkable...how about the Atlanta Braves?...losers of 12 of 17 games down the stretch, and now tied with the St. Louis Cardinals...Cards won huge, 8-0 against Houston tonight, putting them up temporarily by 1/2 a game, and the Philadelphia Phillies are up in the 13th inning against Atlanta...if Philly wins that, the Cards win the NL Wild Card...

Sox and Orioles have resumed play and are in the top of the 9th...

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11:01 PM: I can't believe the Tampa Bay Rays were 9 games behind the Boston Red Sox, and managed to tie up the race with one game left in the season...and what's even more remarkable, they still can't sell out Tropicana Field...tied 7-7 in the 10th inning between the Rays and the Yankees - Yankees were up 7-0 in that game...and the Sox are up 3-2 in Baltimore in the 7th - that game is suspended because of rain...

If necessary, a one game playoff tomorrow to decide the AL wild card...

And some idiot outside thinks he's trying out for NASCAR...

OK...more suspensions...yesterday, former Oiler and present Anaheim Duck Jean-Francois Jacques was given five games and the rest of the preseason for leaving the bench and instigating a fight with Mike Duco of the Vancouver Canucks in a game on Sep 24...starting a fight in the last five minutes of a game carries with it an automatic 1 game suspension....despite getting ejected from the game, Jacques was given additional discipline for leaving the bench, which is a big no-no anytime...

And today, Sheriff Shanny (has a nice ring to it don't you think?) lowered the boom on Tom Sestito of the Philadelphia Flyers for charging New York Rangers' Andre Deveaux...rest of the preseason and 2 regular season games...

Shanny decided Chris Neil's hit on Mikhail Grabovski does not warrant a suspension...Neil retaliated for a hit on Peter Regin in a game between the Senators and Leafs last night...Regin will be OK...

And thanks mostly in part to social media, London Police have caught and charged 26 year old Christopher Moorhouse for the banana incident...since they can't charge him with a hate crime because it was unclear if the incident was racist in nature, the charge is "engaging in a prohibited activity under the Trespass Act"...wow...that's gotta be a first...if convicted, Moorhouse faces a fine up to $2,000...YOWCH!!!  That'll buy a lot of bananas...hell, they were on sale two weeks ago for 29 cents/pound!!

Caught the 3rd period of tonights Carolina-Winnipeg game...with the Canes up 1-0, the Jets, with their 6th man, the crowd, rallied to a 3-1 win, on the strength of 2 goals from Evander Kane, one of them an empty netter, and former Bruin Blake Wheeler scored the GWG...despite the loss, Brian Boucher had an awesome game for Carolina and could have got out of the MTS Center with a shutout...

 

September 26, 2011

9:19 PM: So, it was a 3-1 Winnipeg Jets win over the Ottawa Senators at Kraft Hockeyville 2011 at the Mile One Center in St. John's, Newfoundland...of course, Conception Bay South, about 40 KM away, was this year's winner of the highly coveted hockey community award of $100,000 in arena upgrades and an NHL preseason game, along with the prestigious honor of being named Kraft Hockeyville...the game capped off a weekend full of festivities, including a meet and greet with HNIC personalities Ron Maclean and Don Cherry...not to mention fans got to get up close and personal with the Stanley Cup...

The players seemed to get into the spirit as well...fans were allowed on the ice after the game for autographs...I must have seen Alfie sign about 6 Sens jerseys with his name and number on it...

Last year, Navan, Ontario, which is literally a 2 minute drive from my house, entered, and were among the top ten finalists...not sure if they'll enter again this year, but if they do, I couldn't even imagine what the experience would be like if ever they were to win...not sure if they could ever garner enough votes...we already have an NHL and an OHL team here (Sens and the 67s)...usually the voters give the nod to communities where NHL hockey would be a real treat...although, I have had visions in my sleep of the CBC trucks rolling past my house and down Trim Road towards the yearly site of the summer Navan Fair...the dream is always the same...I've just finished mowing the lawn, I'm kicking back with a beer on my step (which faces the road)...and along comes the big trucks, then a motorcade with Ron and Don waving...almost like a parade of sorts......I guess you just never know...

OK...so the Wisniewski and Staubitz decisions came down today...Staubitz, the rest of the preseason and 3 regular season games...Wisniewski, the rest of the preseason and 8 regular season games...both players are repeat offenders, but it's Wisniewski's history over the past couple of seasons that really factored into the decision, that and the fact the game was over...

As for Staubitz, he got former Ottawa Senator Cody Bass real good...hadn't seen either hit until I watched the decision, but I'm a little surprised Staubitz didn't get at least one more game, since Bass appeared to suffer a facial injury on the play...the way he lunged at him it's surprising he wasn't hurt more...

I have to say, I am really enjoying Shanahan's video explanations...they're professional, to the point, and show the play in question...

And we had even another suspension on Saturday...Buffalo's Brad Boyes was given 2 preseason games for a head shot thrown in a game against Toronto on Friday night...since Boyes had never been suspended before, seems Shanny went easy on him, but warned going forward he will be considered a repeat offender...Boyes will be eligible to return for the regular season opener, which the Sabres are playing in Helsinki against Anaheim...

Anyway, today, the worst kept secret in the NHL was made official - Philadelphia and the NY Rangers will play at the Citizen's Bank ball park on January 2 in the next Winter Classic...like in Pittsburgh, the park is right next door to the actual arena, so if weather conditions were ever so bad that they couldn't play outside, they could always move inside to the Wachovia Center...I doubt that would be necessary, but, unlike Pittsburgh, Philadelphia is near the Atlantic coast, so you never know what kind of weather Mother Nature will throw your way...it'll either be really cold, or mild with snow, or freezing rain...Dan Craig will have his hands full again, you can be sure of that...

Oh yeah, and HBO's "24-7" will return...completely missed last year's...I might have to get my TMN subscription back...still haven't seen this "Boardwalk Empire" yet...

And finally, Montreal announced they've signed free agent defenseman Chris Campoli...1 year, $1.75 million...fuelling speculation that Andrei Markov still isn't fully recovered from the knee injury that kept him out most of last season..."The Ghost", Pierre Gauthier, downplayed the speculation, but wouldn't confirm with 100% certainty that Markov will be available for opening night...never a dull hockey news day in Montreal, is there?

 

September 24, 2011

3:18 PM: Didn't get to see a lot of hockey last night...wasn't anything on the major networks...but it would appear Brendan Shanahan is about to "layeth down the smack", again...

In a game between Columbus and Minnesota, James Wisniewski slammed heavyweight and known agitator Cal Clutterbuck into the glass head first...Wisniewski, as well as Brad Staubitz, are both suspended indefinitely following a hearing...Wisniewski was assessed a minor penalty for the head shot at the end of the game, and Staubitz, a major as well as the gate for a checking from behind play in the 3rd...Staubitz for sure, having received the match penalty would have come under review...as for Wisniewski retaliating, even if it was Clutterbuck, that probably shouldn't have happened...

Shanahan is taking his new job seriously...good to see...the players will have to learn one way or another - however, the Devil in me is saying Clutterbuck probably had this coming, but definitely not under these circumstances...his condition is unknown, but we'll probably hear more in the coming hours...I haven't seen either hit, so perhaps my attitude will change once I do...

How soon can HNIC start!?!?  When was the last time I wanted to see the Hot Stove in the Preseason!?!?

 

September 23, 2011

6:03 PM: The Twitter-verse is abuzz today after an incident during last night's Detroit-Philadelphia game, that was actually played in London, Ontario.  Some bonehead who calls themself a fan decided it might be funny to throw a banana on the ice at Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds while he was making a shootout attempt...it's not known if the fan was a Detroit fan or if the intentions were much more sinister...one would hope in this day and age and in a league featuring many Black players that racism wasn't at the root of this, but this is what people are speculating about today...

Simmonds had this say: "I don't know if it had anything to do with the fact I'm black.  I certainly hope not. When you're black, you kind of expect (racist) things. You learn to deal with it."

Former NHL Goaltender and HNIC analyst Kevin Weekes: "For those that asked: I'm extremely disappointed with what happened to Wayne Simmonds tonight in London Ontario.  We've taken HUGE steps to grow the game of hockey, as I speak Willie O'Ree and I are in D.C. attending the Black Congressional Caucus on behalf of the NHL & ironically this takes place."

San Jose's Logan Couture: "Simmonds is a good friend of mine.  To hear what happened to him in my hometown is awful.  No need for this in sports or life."

St. Louis' Chris Stewart: "The incident that happened in London tonight involving my best friend was simply disgusting, its 2011 ppl need to grow up"

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "We have millions of great fans who show tremendous respect for our players and for the game. The obviously stupid and ignorant action by one individual is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London, Ontario."

Comcast-Spectator president and COO Peter Luuko: "Unfortunately, we weren't able to identify the individual.  We certainly don't condone such a foolish act (like this) as a player could potentially be seriously injured. This is the ninth time we have played here in London and the fans have always been wonderful to us. The Flyers consider this our 'home away from home' and that's because this city, the fans and this spectacular arena have been so supportive of the Philadelphia Flyers." 

(The arena in London where the game was played is operated by Global Spectrum, a subsidiary of Comcast-Spectator...the Flyers make it a point to play an exhibition game there every year...)

London Mayor Joe Fontana: "As Mayor, and on behalf of Londoners, I am sending an apology to Wayne Simmonds and the Philadelphia Flyers organization regarding the incident at last night's exhibition game. It was a stupid and mindless act by a single individual, however it reflects badly on our entire community. London is a diverse and welcoming city and we like it that way."

Hard to believe in 2011 we're still having to live with stupidity and possible bigotry like this...I gave up trying to figure out people a long time ago, but this just makes no sense whatsoever...of course, nobody ever said throwing Octopii on the ice made any sense either...but at least in Detroit they don't throw them directly at the players...home or opposition (although I must admit, during Game 7 of the 2009 Detroit-Pittsburgh Final series it might have been funny as hell to see somebody hit Sid with an Octopus...hopefully he'd be wearing his helmet...can you imagine the headlines?  Sid out with a concussion...blindsided by an Octopus while he was hoisting the Cup...fan responsible taken into custody for questioning...)...

I'm simply left scratching my head over this...
 

 

September 22, 2011

11:36 PM: 2-1 is the final from Rexall...certainly not the greatest display of skill, but some flashes of what's to come...Nugent and Smyth both had opportunities to tie the game late...Smyth watched a perfect feed to him in the slot skip over his stick...so the Canuckleheads will take this home to face Anaheim on Saturday night...actually a HNIC double header this weekend...a rare pre-season treat...plus don't forget Kraft Hockeyville on Monday features Ottawa and Winnipeg in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland...when they planned this whole thing I don't think they had planned to see two Canadian teams...originally it was Ottawa-Atlanta...should be a good game...note the start time - 4:00 PM EST...5:30 in Newfoundland...

Other scores tonight - Pittsburgh 4-1 over Chicago...Minnesota with a 1-0 shutout over St. Louis...Detroit with a 4-3 shootout win over Philadelphia...and Dallas was 5-2 better than Colorado...

Still early for everybody...

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11:07 PM: 2nd fight of the game between Darcy Hordichuk and Todd Fedoruk...this time Hordichuk takes the extra 2 for slashing...

One has to think the Oilers' penalty kill will be much improved with the return of Smitty as well as the addition of Eric Belanger, who isn't playing this game, but shouldn't have any problem cracking the opening night roster...

I guess after you finish last overall for two straight seasons, the only way to go is up...

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10:45 PM: 2nd intermission from Rexall Place...both teams traded goals late...Vancouver went up 2-0 on a shorthanded goal by Mike Duco at 19:07...and then just 17 seconds later, Jordan Eberle converted a beautiful feed from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to make it 2-1...all goals in this game so far came on special teams...

Interesting to see Theo Peckham wearing Steve Staios' old #24...now the Oilers' blue line is pretty full, so I doubt it would happen, but pending the outcome of his tryout with the Islanders, if somehow the Oilers offered him a contract, would Peckham have to give the number back?!  Can't see it happening with Cam Barker and Andy Sutton already signing with the team...

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9:52 PM: Jody Shelley gets the rest of the preseason, and 5 regular season games...amounts to a 10 game total suspension, as opposed to what amounts to 5 total games for Letourneau-Leblanc (4 remaining preseason games and 1 regular season game)...Letourneau will forfeit about $7500 worth of salary, while Shelley will forfeit about $75,000 worth of salary (preseason doesn't count)...

The new sheriff is in town...we needed somebody with enough cajones to lower the boom...Shanahan was very vocal when he played, and I like how he actually explains his decision on video instead of just making a press statement...

Watching the Oilers-Canucks preseason tilt...and it's really turning into a tilt...already 3 fights...Vancouver has dressed a team full of heavyweights, including Owen Nolan, who has the game's only goal...Edmonton, however, has mostly a team full of regulars...they're taking a good long look at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who is playing with Ryan Smyth...

Battle for Edmonton's 6th-7th D will be between Jeff Petry and Taylor Chorney...the Canucks are getting a good look at former 67s Mark Mancari, a former Buffalo draft pick that has yet to make it out of Rochester of the AHL, as well as Cody Hodgson, who is probably getting his last possible chance to crack the lineup...had a nice feed to Nolan for the goal...with Ryan Kesler out until at least November, he has a good shot...

Todd Fedoruk, whose real life battles off the ice have been well publicized, is looking for a spot on the 3rd or 4th line...another name San Jose, Ottawa and Phoenix fans should recognize - Niko Dimitrakos...another Canuck on a tryout...

The only Vancouver player on the ice tonight from the Game 7 lineup?  Victor Oreskovich...

In nets - Dubnyk for Edmonton, Eddie Lack, who played last season in Manitoba, is in for Vancouver...as is customary in preseason, we'll probably see backups Yann Danis and Manny Legace at about the halfway mark...

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6:25 PM: Well there's one way to go out in style - Mike Modano has signed a one year contract with the Dallas Stars worth a reported $999,999 - which will really amount to one day, as Modano will officially announce his retirement tomorrow - under the terms of the CBA, a team can do this and not take a cap hit, so long as the appropriate paperwork is filed...not a bad pay day if you ask me...Joe Nieuwendyk, a former team mate and present G.M., wanted to give Mo the opportunity to retire with the team he spent all but half a season with...

Seems Brendan Shanahan had more than just the Shelley hit to review - a suspension came down today for Calgary's Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond - the rest of the preseason and one preseason game, for a hit on Vancouver's Matt Clackson in a game on Tuesday night - since Letourneau is a repeat offender, and since he violated the new rule as it pertains to boarding (essentially the rule better defines and calls for zero tolerance on boarding and head shots - every team was sent a DVD on what the league will be looking for), the suspension was warranted...now, Letourneau was suspended for one game last October for a similar incident...Shelley's last suspension was for 2 games, and he has a much longer history of similar conduct...it'll be interesting to see what happens...should hear something tonight or tomorrow...I have a feeling this season we're going to see a big change in how suspensions are handed out and the length of them...if the league is serious about reducing the number of concussions and bad injuries along the boards, then it's the only way...

Carolina extended the services of one Jim Rutherford for four more years...

And a massive press event is planned for Tuesday in Philly at the ball park...hmmm...wonder what that's about?...

 

September 21, 2011

10:02 PM: By the time the regular season starts, it won't amount to a hill of beans, but for now, Bryan Murray and the Ottawa Senators' scouting staff are looking like geniuses for picking Mika Zibanejad with their 6th overall pick in the 2011 draft...he scored the GWG in OT - Sens 2, Bruins 1...for once Brian Lee had a great game...

A lot of talk, however, that Zibanejad will finish his European contract before signing an entry level deal with the Sens...we might see him for the first 10 games, though...

Same score at MSG, as the NJ Devils escape with a 2-1 OT win over the Rangers...Patrik Elias with the winner there...of note, Petr Sykora is attending Devils camp on a tryout basis, he scored the first goal of the game...it'll be interesting to see if he can earn himself a roster spot...

4-3 Blues over the Bolts, 4-3 Jackets over the Caps in OT, 4-2 Leafs over the Flyers - payback for last night's 4-0 shutout loss, Sabres beat the Habs 3-1, and Pens over the Wings 3-2...Kings and Coyotes are playing a split squad game, and the Sharks are at the Pond to play the Ducks...

Looking forward to tomorrow night's Vancouver-Edmonton game...first chance to see the Oilers in HD...tried to watch the split squad last night as they played Chicago and Minnesota, but the online feed was too choppy for my liking...

Loving those Mr. Big advertisements featuring Alex Ovechkin...

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9:12 PM: Brendan Shanahan's first test as head disciplinarian will come tomorrow...we'll await word on whether or not Jody Shelley of the Philadelphia Flyers will get a repeat offender suspension for a hit on Toronto's Darryl Boyce...the official call was boarding...5, 10 and the gate...Jay Rosehill got 2, 5 and 10 for instigating a fight after the fact...you'll recall Shelley served a 2 game suspension last season for a similar hit on Boston's Adam McQuaid (man, that guy had a tough year, didn't he?)...

They're happy to see Max Pacioretty back in Red, Blue and White in Montreal...the Habs are in a 1-1 deadlock against Buffalo...

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8:43 PM: Just nicely into silly season action...got my eye on the Senators-Bruins game...Lane MacDermid for Boston, Brian Lee for Ottawa...1-1 halfway thru the 2nd...MacDermid is a fourth rounder from 2009...

1st game of the preseason for the Champs, 2nd game for Ottawa...Sens lost 4-2 on Monday night in Toronto...next up for Ottawa is Montreal on Friday and Saturday, Boston heads home to play the Islanders...

Well, the big news of the day wasn't just Winnipeg's 6-1 thrashing (pun intended) of the Columbus Blue Jackets in their first preseason game in 15 years last night, but today, Mike Modano, former Minnesota Northstar/Dallas Star/Detroit Red Wing, announced his retirement from the NHL...Modano finishes his career as the highest scoring American born player of all time...561 goals, 1,374 points...he announced his decision via Facebook...a news conference is expected Friday...

Speaking of Columbus, a five year extension today for R.J. Umberger...

And the Islanders named Mark Streit their new team captain...the 13th in their history, and 1st ever Swiss-Born player to be named captain of an NHL team...of course, Streit replaces Dougie Weight, who announced his retirement at the end of last season...

 

September 16, 2011

1:04 PM: Training camps open this weekend...yay!!!!

Apparently Sidney Crosby is cleared to take part in no-contact practice...

It was interesting going into this week as some key restricted free agents had still not signed new deals - now all but one of them are under contract...Brad Marchand, Zach Bogosian, Luke Schenn and Drew Doughty, just to name a few, had not signed as of Monday...now, all but Doughty are under term...it's unclear if Doughty will be signed in time for camp...

As for 41 year old Teemu Selanne...he is back with Anaheim for one more year...we'll have to see if this is it for him...

There are still some intriguing names that remain unsigned (Ray Emery, I'm looking in your direction)...not sure why Patrick Lalime is still on the Buffalo free agent list when he already announced he is going to be a TV analyst...I guess he hasn't officially retired?

Anyhow, as promised, I will be leaving the Free agent links at the top of the page and front page until the season gets underway...after that, the few people that don't sign I'm sure we'll hear about...

Really enjoying the ability to play NHL 12 with a Legends team - there is a mixture of some of the biggest names to ever play the game - Gretzky, Lemieux, Yzerman, Howe, and Roy (with Luongo as backup, oddly enough) mixed in with recent Stanley Cup finalists/winners - Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, Zdeno Chara, Crosby & Malkin, St. Louis and cover athelete Steven Stamkos...makes for an interesting game...played the Legends vs the Cup champion Boston Bruins...substituted Chara with Mike Green (don't ask me why he's there) - was a pretty good game...went to OT, and almost a shootout, but managed to get Gretzky in his office to set up Lemieux in the shot, with seconds left, to win the game...

My online game, however, still needs a lot of tweaking, but I seem to be in games a lot more than I used to be...the first game 10-1 drubbing notwithstanding, I'm not sure if that's a testament to the game developers or if I'm just better at playing the game...guess I better get practicing...

 

 

September 14, 2011

6:41 PM: Just attempted another game...played with Boston, opponent chose Ottawa...lest my opponent should think I quit, my system completely froze up at the end of 40 minutes...anyway, I was losing 2-0, no thanks to Boston's anemic power play...it continues to amaze me that this team actually won the Stanley Cup without the ability to score with the man advantage...that part they got right with the game, I can assure you...they still can't score on the power play...and now with Joe Corvo giving away the puck on D, they're even worse...I'll be absolutely SHOCKED if the Bruins repeat...

So now I'm 1-3...not a great start, but it's still training camp for me...;-P...

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2:22 PM: Well!  It's that time of year again - the yearly foray into Hockey Video Game supremacy - it's EA Sports' yearly offering, NHL 12, and offers up more of the same, but some more of what we want...

I managed to get in three online games last night, and have a record of 1 and 2...1st game I got absolutely schooled (because try as I might, I just CANNOT use the new school controls, that was rectified next game by changing to Classic controls...again...)...played Edmonton, the other player used Pittsburgh, and it wasn't pretty...10-1 was the final score...is it fair to play with Crosby if he isn't going to be playing for the foreseeable future?  Just wondering...

Second game, I decided to play with Winnipeg...my opponent chose Montreal...was a tight affair, and the winning goal was a puck that had eyes that saw the back of the net, trickled in off Price's pads...imagine if that happens for real during their home opener?  Anyway, I'll take the close 2-1 win...that was a lot of fun...

Third game I was back to Edmonton, and my opponent chose Toronto...started out on my heels, but managed an awesome highlight reel goal from Tom Gilbert of all people...looked like Paul Coffey...grazed the post and went in...but I ended up losing that game by yet another close 2-1 margin...

An individual by the name of "Reskin" (I think his handle is actually Reskin77) from the Edmonton Oilers website forums has released a couple of custom covers for people to print and put in place of Stamkos, if they so choose...I hope if he sees this he doesn't mind me posting them here, because they are way cool...

Eberle

Smitty

Haven't had a chance to play around with the "Be A Legend" part of the game, yet, but the premise is so cool it almost justifies the purchase...despite the graphics being relatively the same as the last few seasons, the gameplay is much more fluid, and the controls, despite me using the old school set up, seem easier to coordinate an offensive zone attack...

The Winter Classic from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh appears in this game...they've done a marvelous job of portraying that...

A few subtle differences in game play...you can knock nets off their moorings a lot easier than you once could (making things a little more realistic), and you can actually run right into goalies (and knock them out cold in some areas)...even the masks come off!!!...game physics, albeit more realistic, are still at times utterly ridiculous...twice during my game between Winnipeg and Montreal, my opponent hit both posts and out - if not for that, he would have beat me...must be the whole karma of getting a team back in Manitoba...maybe I'll start using that team more in my online endeavors...at least until they officially become a divisional rival...would be nice, however, if we could get the actual Winnipeg jerseys...they've loaded in the old school ones, which are fine for now, but they have the black "NHL" jerseys that they wore at the draft as their home sweater, and the away jersey is a white version of it...perhaps, as in past years, the new ones will be available in an update and with a special code that you enter in...

In certain cases, the game seems a little too animated...I don't recall Edmonton before games with fire above the Oil Rig that the team skates on the ice under...but maybe I just hadn't noticed...

One thing I do have to give EA kudos for is not taking up a crapload of space on the hard drive...one would think with BluRay discs being able to support up to 25 GB that the system wouldn't necessarily require a lot of information to be installed - all the game did was install a few trophies, the rest is done off the disc...bravo...

I don't know what it says about me, but in less than a day I've actually played this game almost half as much as I played NHL 11 and the Wii's NHL Slapshot combined...perhaps I'm more excited about having Ryan Smyth back than I know...or maybe it's just the allure of having Winnipeg back...

A nice touch would be putting in the KHL...although I can understand with it being a direct competitor of the NHL why it's not there...(then again, I haven't checked to see what other leagues are in the game, so I could be speaking for nothing...I assume the AHL/CHL and Elite Leagues from Sweden and Finland are still there)...

So, once again - EA Sports has the only hockey game in town...unfortunately, 2K Sports has scrapped NHL 2K12 in favor of Michael Jordan and NBA2K12...probably a good thing, considering their improvements were also subtle and unnoticeable since about NHL 2K7...

 

September 12, 2011

10:50 AM: Still hard to digest, even 5 days later, that we lost a whole roster full of players, coaches, equipment staff, etc, in a matter of seconds...

Well more bad news this morning...Alexander Galimov, the only player survivor, has succumbed to his burn injuries and passed away...they had induced a coma to allow the injuries a chance to heal, but after sustaining 3rd degree burns to about 90% of his body, I guess it was inevitable...hopefully he, and all involved, are in a better place today...

One thing we know for sure...the KHL will rebuild the Lokomotiv in Yaroslavl, but it's not expected to be this year...there had been talk of a draft to replace the players on the team after they take a much needed five day break, but now they aren't going to do that until either later on in the season, or during the off season...how do you even play a season after this?

I've heard, too, that even if Yaroslavl doesn't have a team, that the city/arena may end up being a neutral site for some games...

And I already took a little flack on Facebook for this, but, remembrance and never forgetting the horrific events of that day notwithstanding, doesn't it seem like just a tad bit of overkill the coverage 9/11's 10th anniversary received?  I mean, I get it, it's been 10 years since our world changed forever, and I get that people lost loved ones, and I get that we have to be vigilant and never forget - hell, I'm even willing to give the memorial it's hour or two in the spotlight...but almost two weeks leading up to it, specials here and there, and then the day of, all day specials/reminders of what happened...to me, just a little bit too much - imagine how overwhelming it must have been for those who were directly involved?  I could only look at images on the news of people who made the trek to New York to get a first glimpse of the new memorial and the looks on their faces...grown men brought to their knees...again...it was just too much...

Simply put - it was a horrible thing that happened, but if we don't close the book on it and move on, then the cowards responsible have essentially won...never forget, and keep the victims in our hearts forever, that's important...but we have to find a way to move on...whatever is left of life for the rest of us is just too short not to...

So sometime later today or sometime tomorrow I'll be able to pick up my copy of NHL 12.....teams had their rookie camps this past weekend...it's so close you can smell it...

And despite my announcement of putting the Puckin' Around article on temporary hiatus, I will have at least one more offering coming up sometime this week...the topic?...well you'll just have to wait and see...

 

September 7, 2011

6:40 PM: Just a horrid, horrible day...

While nobody knows for sure, pending a full investigation...some suggestions have been made that the plane that crashed this morning was sub-standard...while it's true Russia does not have a great air safety record, I'm going to be careful about buying into that sort of thing until the experts who investigate these incidents reveal their findings...

The roster - ...not listed there are the assistant coaches, 2 names you'll also recognize - Igor Korolev, and Alexander Karpovtsev...

Right now, I think Mike Babcock got it right...all we can do is pray for the people we've lost and their families, that they will be well taken care of going forward...

While we can all be thankful nothing like this has ever happened here, many aren't aware of this, but the NHL does have an emergency response procedure for in the unlikely event it ever did...it's unclear what, if anything, the KHL is prepared to do to rebuild the Locomotiv...whether they go through a draft to replace players, or just go through the season without them, honor their memory and then restart the rebuilding process next season...too many unknowns right now...

What I do know is this - we better get the NHL season underway, soon...it's been a crazy summer, to say the least...

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Most recent team photo, taken sometime in August...

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1:15 PM: Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek, Jan Marek and Alexander Vasyunov are all confirmed among the lives lost...it's been more or less confirmed the entire team was on board the flight...35 players, coaches and team staff, along with 8 crew members...there's speculation Ruslan Salei may have already been in Minsk, but there are conflicting reports that he too, may be among the casualties...he has not, however, been confirmed on the passenger manifest, which the media is just getting information about now...

You've heard of the day the music died?  What about the day Hockey died?  This is just unbelievable...

Josef Vasicek, former Carolina Hurricanes player, won the Stanley Cup with them in 2006

Karel Rachunek...if you've lived in Ottawa for as long as I have and follow the Sens, you won't soon forget Rachunek...was solid on the blue line, and most often paired up with Wade Redden...

Alexander Vasyunov - a New Jersey Devils prospect, saw limited action last season, wanted to go to Russia to get more playing time and then return to North America...

2011, the summer hockey died...literally...

Players throughout the NHL have been Tweeting their thoughts, and NHL.com has shared them all, here.

Gary Bettman: "Though it occurred thousands of miles away from our home arenas, this tragedy represents a catastrophic loss to the hockey world -- including the NHL family, which lost so many fathers, sons, teammates and friends who at one time excelled in our League. Our deepest condolences go to the families and loved ones of all who perished."

Oh yes, and Sid is expected to make a full recovery and return sometime this season...when, exactly, is unclear...so the moral of that story, we don't know any more now than we did prior to the conference...doctors, however, were very good to explain what a concussion is and why recovery can take so long, yada yada yada...

Unfortunately this report takes a back seat...while we're being reminded of the 10th anniversary of 9-11 all week, just as we're coming to grips and making sense of the whole Wade Belak thing...this whole Russia plane crash is too much...

So, get well, Sid, and get back, while you still can...

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12:18 PM: Brad McCrimmon, who was the Lokomotiv's head coach, and best known as a player to fans of the Calgary Flames, and as an assistant coach of the Detroit Red Wings...Pavol Demitra, former Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks sniper, are two confirmed on the ill fated flight...the lone player survivor, Galimov, is not expected to recover, which would leave the crew member as the lone survivor...this reported by The Fan 590 in Toronto, simulcast on Rogers Sportsnet...

Any other names being bandied about are not confirmed yet...however, the CBC reports they spoke to a player agent who had received word from a KHL league official that the entire team was on board...

What do you say?  I'm speechless...

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11:29 AM: News is still grim, but at least one Canadian player listed on the Locomotiv roster, Riley Armstrong, brother of Toronto's Colby Armstrong, is confirmed safe and well in St. John's as he tweeted "I'm safe but thanks for the kind words.  Pray and think of the players and the families on that flight"...Riley is attending camp for the Winnipeg farm team...death toll is now up to 43...

Russian officials have advised player Alexander Galimov along with a crew member have survived the disaster...they are evidently the only known survivors, and are listed in critical condition...

Unaccounted for, is another former Canadian junior star, Ramzi Abid, who played 68 games for Phoenix, Nashville, Atlanta and Pittsburgh between 2002 and 2007...

As we await an update, CBC's Elliotte Friedman suggested some of the names being speculated are from an old roster, it's possible the team's website hasn't been updated..."Let's wait a little.  What an awful tragedy"...

More as I know it...Crosby conference at 12:30...

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9:53 AM: While we anticipate the worst possible news in the wake of the crash in Russia, we are expected to learn more today about Sidney Crosby's progress...he will hold a news conference and touch base with everybody on how he's doing and when he expects to lace them up again...Crosby suffered two concussions in less than a week in January and hasn't played since...recent reports have suggested he consulted a specialist...

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9:35 AM: I'm following a breaking news story out of Russia with great interest this morning, as I'm sure a lot of you are...a small passenger jet taking off out of Yaroslavl this morning crashed as it was attempting to take off...they're saying anywhere from 34-36 people have been killed, only 1-3 survivors...there were supposedly members of the KHL's Locomotiv team on board...the plane was headed to Minsk in Belarus for a season opening game...

Important to note - none of these names are yet confirmed to have been on board, but just unbelievable hockey tragedy if even ONE of these names ends up to be no longer with us - Brad McCrimmon...Pavol Demitra...Karel Rachunek...Karlis Skrastins...Ruslan Salei...Josef Vasicek...those are just a few names from former NHL teams...but, again, there has not yet been any confirmation just who was on board...

This summer has already been dubbed by some to be the summer hockey died, this would just be the icing on the cake, wouldn't it?...unbelievably sad and shocking losses if reports turn out for the worst...there is evidently a higher power looking to rebuild their hockey team...how else do you explain what's gone on this summer...how do you even put it into words?

I'll be on top of this all day...

 

September 4, 2011

Hope everybody's enjoying their Labor Day weekend...the unofficial end to summer as we know it...at least for those younger folks heading back to school...

We had about a work week worth of cooler than normal weather while Hurricane Irene was making its way up the East coast, and last Sunday while it was raging through New York, Boston, and Vermont, we had some very windy and somewhat rainy weather here...but shortly after and heading into this long weekend, it's been back to hot, humid, muggy, and chance of thundershowers type of weather...no complaints here...I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'll take a thunder and lightning storm over a snow storm any day...

OK...so I'm going to get this out of the way, before I kill everybody with suspense...(drum roll please)...

I have decided, this season, I am going to go on somewhat of a hiatus and possible semi-retirement as it pertains to Puckin' Around - the article that is...the reasons for this are pretty simple - Technology is now such that I can blog or hit the social networks with something much more quickly and efficiently than I ever could when I started this whole thing...I look through last season and there were times when I would go a month, two, or even three before I would even come out with a formal article...and by the time I did, the playoffs were here...even this summer I was guilty of it...I wanted to get out a final end of season wrap up, but next thing I knew, it was August (that's what happens when you head to Bermuda for a few days to catch up with people you haven't seen in 20 years)...but, coincidentally a quick hit on Facebook or Twitter and I can say what's on my mind instantly, in less words, and start a pretty good conversation...information as we know it is at our fingertips 24-7, and nobody wants to read old news, even if it is a fresh perspective...

To me, there is nothing more frustrating than pouring your heart and soul into an article, only for it to become irrelevant or incorrect by the time I get around to releasing it, just because something has happened, or a player gets traded, or, dare I say it given recent events....somebody dies...

Puckin' Around, the website, will still very much exist...not having to worry about what to write next in a formal context will allow me more freedom and time to concentrate on this blog...something I've learned I really enjoy doing, especially during the playoffs...training camps are opening soon, so there will be some young players to evaluate...some veterans will get tryouts, or one last kick at the can so to speak...and before we know it, we'll be in high gear for the regular season...as usual, we'll have the weekend picks where uLAr and I go head to head every weekend to see how well (or how not so well) we can pick the winners...

As for the articles, as it has been for about the past few seasons, I'll only put out a formal commentary when one is warranted...I'm sure you can see it's no secret I haven't been working on them as much as maybe I would have liked...but believe me, when I have something to say, as always you'll know pretty quickly....

Next up for me is the once again highly anticipated NHL video game - NHL 12...Sep 13 is the big day...and while summer unofficially comes to an end and our favorite frozen sport gets back at it, I can look forward to yet another vacation...despite already having gone to New York, Atlantic City and even Bermuda this year...I'm heading back to Orlando first week of November...doing the Disney Cruise this time...St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Castaway Cay...what once again seemed like it was a distant memory is actually happening in 2 short months...needless to say I'm getting addicted to the whole crusing thing...much to the delight of the various cruise lines eager to have me aboard for a few short days...2011 is already quickly becoming a memory in itself...shortly, even the Stanley Cup will go back in its case, and the Boston Bruins can begin working on defending it...

If Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak and countless others have taught us anything this summer, it's live life, while you still can...so get out there, spend time with your families, your significant others, friends, anyone and everyone...whatever is important to you - do it...everything else, even the game of hockey, is secondary...

Talk to y'all later...

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For questions, comments, disagreements, or just to say hi, please send E-mail to puckin45@puckinaround.net

 

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