December 2, 2007

Puttin' On the Foil - A Weekly NHL Recap 12/2

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Ho, ho, ho! Christmas and Hannukah are within reach. New Year's and the Winter Classic are right around the corner. Can you believe how quick the season is going? We're two months in already and patterns are beginning to develop. That number one goalie you planned on riding to the playoffs isn't playing so hot (Pittsburgh Penguins). That hot seat just got hotter for your general manager (Atlanta Thrashers). That so-so roster you had coming into the season is producing quite nicely (New York Islanders). That bag full of money you spent in the off-season isn't working out yet like you had planned (New York Rangers). It's close to becoming panic mode for some teams and general managers. The next few weeks will show each team who they really are.


MONOLOGUE
The NHL announced they are changing up the schedule beginning next season to make it so that every team plays everyone at least one time. That means the Western Conference will play against Sidney Crosby either home or away in 2008-09 and then the opposite in 2009-10. Divisional games have been reduced from 8 to 6. I think it's a step in the right direction as I've always been a big fan of playing a home and away against the other conference. It's very crucial now for the NHL to show off their young players like Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Paul Stastny, and Henrik Lundqvist to cities that have yet to even see them in person.

Forget promoting the game to places like London or possibly Prague and Stockholm netx season. The NHL has to focus on promoting the game within Canada and the United States. Fans in Vancouver should see Sidney Crosby once a year. For me, living on Long Island, I would love to see Joe Thornton, Jarome Iginla, and Mike Cammallari visit the Nassau Coliseum and Madison Square Garden so I could watch them in person, instead of on Center Ice every night.

I believe eventually the schedule will evolve back to that, possibly as early as the 2009-10 season. There's an incredible amount of young and old talent in the league that isn't being displayed to as many eyeballs as possible.

NEWS AND NOTES
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Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment President Richard Peddie said this week that hiring John Ferguson Jr. was a mistake. Could it get any uglier than what's going on up there? Sheesh and they say the New York media is tough on players and executives. Toronto is it's own soap opera and of course, if things on the ice were going a little better, this "news" would all be a side note.


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A Toronto (again? I know) sports talk radio station will be issuing a retraction to the story they reported about Sean Avery making disparaging comments about Jason Blake's leukemia. Avery's attorney served a notice of libel last month and FAN 590 reporter Howard Berger, who reported the story, will provide the on-air retraction. Good to see some credibilty within the media. And they say bloggers are uncredible.


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The long, winding saga of the Nashville Predators has seemingly come to an end when it was announced this week that the NHL has approved the sale to David Freeman, who headed a local group. Surprisingly, throughout the entire Preds ordeal, Kansas City was never a viable candidate. The talk was always of Hamilton and Jim Balsillie. I guess Kansas City was too focused on trying to land the Penguins.


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A bus carrying the ECHL's Elmira Jackals crashed causing injuries to the bus driver and players. The bus struck the back of a tractor trailor and went down an embankment, causing the driver to become trapped and tossing the players around inside. No players were hospitalized, but the driver was air-lifted to a nearby hospital where he was in serious condition.


AROUND THE BLOG WORLD
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Off Wing Opinion'sEric McErlain has a good post over at The Sporting News regarding the newly announced NHL schedule for 2008-09.


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Barry Melrose Rocks piles on to the Toronto debacle.


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The Hammer breaks the news about who really won the 2005 Stanley Cup


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Has removing the red line done more harm then good? Canuck's Corner's Tom Benjamin throws that question out there.


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Like photoshopped, creative NHL jersey designs? Well, The NHL Tournament of Logos put up an amazing version of a Winnipeg Jets sweater. The blue jersey I love. It makes me miss the days of Thomas Steen.


LET'S GO TO THE VIDEOTAPE!
In case you missed the Hockey Night in Canada pre-game show last night, they did a piece on hockey bloggers, specifically what the Capitals have set up in their press box to accommodate them. It's a really great piece and definite kudos to Ted Leonsis for spearheading this project.


Some love for the goalies, here's the top saves of the week.


Some hockey history as we learn a little bit about Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion.


"Coach's Corner" featuring Don Cherry and Ron McLean of Hockey Night in Canada discuss the hot topics around hockey.


PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Roberto Luongo played in three games this past week and was perfect. Really he was. Luongo recorded three shutouts, three wins, and obviously, a 1.000% save percentage since Sunday.


UPCOMING GAME OF INTEREST
San Jose Sharks at Colorado Avalanche, Monday, December 3rd, 9:00pm EST
Two of the league's best, Joe Sakic and Joe Thornton square off in a battle of Western Conference teams trying to secure points towards a playoff berth. For some reason, I enjoy watching both of these teams play. It could be because of the nice mix of young and veteran talent on both clubs.


GRATUITOUS PITTSBURGH PENGUINS RELATED AWESOMENESS
A Mario Lemieux hat-trick, against the Flyers, via NHL '94. Sweet!


I'll check you out next week for more "Puttin' On the Foil"


Ballhype: hype it up!

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