March 31, 2008

NHL Stars Get Preferential Treatment? Get Out of Town!


There's times when I read a newspaper columnist or listen to a television pundit spew a controversial subject and think, "Do they really believe that? Or are they just trying to get some publicity?"

That's what I thought when I read John Dellapina of the NY Daily News yesterday after the Penguins-Rangers matinee. Mr. Dellapina was upset over some embellishment of certain calls by the Penguins and Sidney Crosby, mainly the "...tap to the hip that Scott Gomez gave Crosby, drawing that head flop and a high-sticking penalty in today’s third period."

Now, me being a Penguins fan, I'm not going to defend Crosby and say he never embellishes. But, here's the thing, it happens all over the NHL on a nightly basis. Some dives are a little more obvious than others. It also sounds like sour grapes when your team loses and the opponent you accuse of embellishing fouls to draw penalties goes 1-8 on the power-play.

My favorite paragraph of the entire article:

"But even more mystifying is how Jaromir Jagr could have begun his career in Pittsburgh, developed into a superstar here and never learned the diving and face-clutching and horrified equipment shedding that has been part and parcel of Pens hockey ever since Mario Lemieux decided to shame the league into enforcing its obstruction penalties by embarrassing all officials who didn’t do so."

Shame the league? Did you enjoy watching the clutch and grab-fests pre-lockout? If you want to talk about shaming the league, how about the Rangers giving past-their-prime players ridiculous contracts (hello Bobby Holik and your 5-year, $45 million contract, which they later bought out with two years left) while missing the playoffs for seven straight seasons? Where's the thank you to the NHL for implementing the salary, thereby helping turn the Rangers into a respectable team again?

Oh, and it's one thing to call out other players for embellishing calls, but least mention hometown divers, too.




It shouldn't be shocking that big-name NHL players get the benefit of the calls during games. You don't think Wayne Gretzky drew calls because of who he was sometimes? Referees are human. They miss calls, make the wrong calls, and give benefit of the doubt to players who are credible. It happens. If you're going to cry over player embellishment, you're going to need to examine the league as a whole and not just pick on the game's biggest star.

UPDATE: Mr. Dellapina had written somewhat of a retraction regarding his previous blog post.

"First things first, no, I never saw a reverse-angle NBC replay that some of you say showed clearly that Gomez's stick hit Crosby in the face. If I missed that, I apologize to yesterday's referees. But that doesn't change my larger points."

Doesn't change your larger points? Wasn't the entire basis of your post to begin with? "Crosby embellishes calls, so let me pick apart the entire Penguins history." Now that you've hypothesis has been disproven, I'm supposed to try and give credit to your other points?

"4. But that brings me to what I guess was my larger point and has been for a while: If Crosby is going to get such benefit of the doubt, why doesn't Jaromir Jagr?

To this point in their careers, Jagr is the far more accomplished player. What's more, I would think that his refusal to dive or even flinch when being fouled would stand him in good stead with referees, who never have to worry about him pulling one over on them."


I would give this as an explanation. Jaromir Jagr is 6'3, 245lbs. Sidney Crosby is 5'11, 200lbs. Jagr is bigger and stronger than Crosby. You would assume it's much easier to knock Crosby off the puck than Jagr. I remember hearing stories about Jagr when he was a Penguin, that after practice, he'd skate around the ice with a 100lbs sandbag on his back to build leg strength. I think that's the difference. It's the same to say it's easier to knock Patrick Kane off the puck than it is Zdeno Chara.

Ballhype: hype it up!

NHL's "One Play" Commercial


There's something about this commercial that makes me feel like the NHL marketing department got "it"

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Happy Birthday Mr. Hockey

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Gordie Howe turns 80 years young today.

Some facts about Mr. Hockey you may not know:

-He's the member of 11 different Halls of Fame.
-His physical play also earned him the nickname "Mr. Elbows".
-He played professionally in six different decades.
-The famous "Gordie Howe Hat Trick"? He only has one.
-His first signing bonus was a Red Wings jacket.

Ballhype: hype it up!

March 30, 2008

Puttin' On the Foil - A Weekly NHL Recap 3/30


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MONOLOGUE
I love Don Cherry, but sometimes he doesn't make sense. During tonight's Coach's Corner (as seen below), he was talking about the suspension of Patrick Roy's son, Jonathan, and then segued into suspensions for guys like Chris Simon and the non-suspension for Torrey Mitchell. He argued that the "victims" of some incidents missed 0 games.

Am I wrong to think that Cherry firmly believes in "eye for an eye" and nothing else? Just because Ryan Hollweg was not injured when he on the opposite end of Simon's stick swing, the former Islander tough guy should not be punished? If the NHL is to suspend players based on whether or not an opposing player was injured, then the amount of incidents will be on the rise with no worry of repercussions. The league should not suspend a player based on an injury, but based on the act.

NEWS AND NOTES

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Things are looking good for the Oilers in terms of them getting a new rink. A committee has determined a rink downtown would be "feasible and desireable" for the city of Edmonton. The arena is expected to cost around $450 million.

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Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Tortorella will coach the US at the World Championships in May. The 2004 Stanley Cup winning coach was an assistant in 2005 at the tournament in Austria.

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Montreal announced that defenseman Mike Komisarek will miss 3 weeks with a lower-body injury. It's unsure how much of the playoffs the West Islip, NY native will miss. Coach Guy Carbonneau has said Komisarek will be evaluated after the second week and the team will decide at that point when the hard-hitting blue liner will return.

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Almost six months after open-heart surgery, Teppo Numminen continued his comeback this week skating with his teammates this week. He had originally joined the team in January, but doctor's told him he wouldn't be able to play until at least March to allow his sternum to heal. Numminen is also in the middle of a grievance case after the Sabres suspended the veteran defenseman without pay earlier this season.

AROUND THE BLOG WORLD

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Greg Wyshynski of NHL FanHouse tells us about the possibility of ESPN and the NHL not becoming BFF's anytime soon.

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Like goalie masks? Then be sure to check out the NHL Tournament of Logos. Chris over there is holding a tournament where you can vote on the best current NHL goalie mask. Along with user-created jersey concepts, you can easily get lost over there for hours.

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I wasn't the best at math, so thankfully the crew over at Puck That Hit knows their stuff. They break down the numbers and compare quality shots against crappy shots and which teams benefit more.

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Lyle Richardson of Spector's Hockey discusses the races in both conference for the final playoff spots.

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A message to team owners regarding bloggers from Eric McErlain of The Sporting News


LET'S GO TO THE VIDEOTAPE!
Jose Theodore completely robbed Dustin Penner on Friday night.

Kyle Okposo's first NHL goal.

Here's the trailer for Mike Myers upcoming movie, "The Love Guru".

Coach's Corner from last night's Hockey Night in Canada.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Joe Thornton kept the Sharks' winning ways alive with 5 goals and an assist this week, helping San Jose clinch the Pacific Division title in the process.

UPCOMING GAME OF INTEREST
Calgary Flames at Minnesota Wild, Thursday, April 3, 8:00pm EST
The battle for the Northwest Division comes to a head as both teams are vying for the third seed in the Western Conference. With the final week of the regular season upon us, now is the time to get on a roll as you head into the playoffs. There is also a good chance both teams could find each other in the first-round.

GRATUITOUS PITTSBURGH PENGUINS RELATED AWESOMENESS
Michel Briere's first goal as a Pittsburgh Penguin.

Next Sunday is the final day of the NHL regular season and also the final "Puttin' on the Foil". It'll return next October when the 2008-09 season begins.
Ballhype: hype it up!

March 29, 2008

Avery and Crosby Iso-Cams During Tomorrow's Game


These Iso-cams are becoming a pretty popular addition to broadcasts.

For tomorrows Penguins-Rangers tilt, NBCSports.com will gives both teams fans a chance to view an Iso-cam online of either Sean Avery or Sidney Crosby during the game.

"When New York's Sean Avery is on the ice, the Rangers-cam will follow him, while the Penguins-cam will focus on Crosby during his shifts."

Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Ovechkin both had dynamite games when they were put on the Iso-cam. We'll have to wait and see how Crosby and Avery do tomorrow afternoon.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Rob Ray: Not a Fan of Those Who Invade the Ice



Ballhype: hype it up!

March 28, 2008

NCAA Hockey Tournament Begins Today


After looking for someone who knows much more about NCAA hockey than I do, Eric Gittleman has been kind enough to be my college hockey correspondent. Over the next few weeks, Eric will be reporting on the NCAA hockey tournament all the way through the Frozen Four.

Neither Vermont nor Boston University won the Hockey East tournament, so they are both out. Boston College won it and clinched the automatic bid. However, Princeton won the ECAC tournament and snagged a bid that somebody else would have earned as an at-large. Nonetheless, Wisconsin still got in with a record under 0.500, because they played a tough schedule, were beaten up in conference by the other WCHA teams, and had a better record against top 25 teams than the other, well, pretenders. ;-)

Another interesting quirk is that unlike the basketball tournament, which prevents teams from playing in a regional that they host, the hockey tournament automatically places a team in a regional that it hosts, so the Badgers will be playing in Madison. The hockey selection committee believes that attendance concerns are more serious than anything else, and they do have a point, as college hockey is a regional game. Also, let's be honest here: home-ice advantage doesn't really matter; if a team has a hot goaltender, they are going to win regardless of where the game happens. That's part of the reason why the Sports Guy gave up on the NHL, although he is a tad misinformed, but that's another story. Still, it doesn't exactly seem fair that a below-0.500 four seed gets home ice for a national championship.

The following is the NCAA Men's Division I Ice Hockey Championship schedule:

East Regional in Albany, N.Y., Friday, March 28
(2) St. Cloud State (19-15-5) v (3) Clarkson (21-12-4) 4:00 PM
(1) Michigan (31-5-4) v (4) Niagara (21-10-4) faceoff 30 minutes after the conclusion of the previous game

Regional Final Saturday, March 29

West Regional in Colorado Springs, Colo., Friday, March 28
(1) New Hampshire (25-9-3) v (4) Notre Dame (24-15-4) 6:30 PM
(2) Colorado College (28-11-1) v (3) Michigan State (24-11-5) 30 minutes after the conclusion of the previous game

Regional Final Saturday, March 29

Midwest Regional in Madison, Wis., Saturday, March 29
(1) North Dakota (26-10-4) v (4) Princeton (21-13-0) 3:00 PM
(2) Denver (26-13-1) v (3) Wisconsin (15-16-7) 30 minutes after the conclusion of the previous game

Regional Final Sunday, March 30

Northeast Regional in Worcester, Mass. Saturday, March 29
(1) Miami University (32-7-1) v (4) Air Force (21-11-6) 4:00 PM
(2) Boston College (21-11-8) v (3) Minnesota (19-16-9) 30 minutes after the conclusion of the previous game

Regional Final Sunday, March 30

The official bracket is here. There are a number of players to watch in the tournament, including the nation's leading scorers: BC forward Nathan Gerbe (all 5'8 of him! Just like Brian Gionta), Michigan forward Kevin Porter, and St. Cloud State forward Ryan Lasch. Also of note are the goaltending leaders: North Dakota's (Jean-) Phillipe Lamoreux, Miami's Jeff Zatkoff, Colorado College's freshman Richard Bachman, Minnesota's freshman Alex Kangas, Notre Dame's Jordan Pearce, Michigan's much-maligned Billy Sauer, and Kevin Regan of UNH.

In all honesty, I haven't seen every team play, so I can't really do any full-scale predictions here, but I think it's going to be a good tournament, even if BU's not in it. However, you always have to take a look at goaltending, and Lamoreux, Zatkoff, and Regan have all been tested. It's possible for freshmen to stand on their heads, but more than likely, they will end up playing like freshmen. Let's also not forget the defending national champion in Michigan State; they want to prove that last year was not a fluke.

Ballhype: hype it up!

March 27, 2008

Vote Now in the Mike Lange Tournament of Quotes!

Voting for the first round is now open. You may vote as many times as you'd like until Thursday, April 3rd. The second round will begin next Friday April 4th.

Below are the individual bracket pages where you may go and vote.

Ronnie Francis Bracket


Eddie Johnston Bracket


Kevin Stevens Bracket


Michel Briere Bracket



UPDATE: Round 1 voting is over. Go here to view the round 1 winners and second round pairings

Ballhype: hype it up!

March 26, 2008

Introducing the Mike Lange Tournament of Quotes

If you're a Penguins fan, you definitely know who Mike Lange is. Since 1975, he's been a vital part of the Pittsburgh hockey scene and the voice of the Penguins, having never missed a broadcast. In the summer of 2006, FSN Pittsburgh had a brainfart and decided to go "in a different direction", firing Lange. Two months later, the Penguins signed him to do their radio broadcasts. Most known for his "Lange-isms", he's a beloved icon in the city of Pittsburgh. There's even a movement afoot to bring him back to television.

The man even has his own t-shirts! That should tell you something.

In honor of Mr. Lange's contribution to the sport of hockey and city of Pittsburgh, Going Five Hole is proud to announce the "Mike Lange Tournament of Quotes".

Thanks to the brilliance that is Wikiquote and the Internet, I've been able to gather 64 "Lange-isms" and form an NCAA-bracket style tournament that you can vote on.

Here's how the voting process will work:

1st Round:
Friday 3/28 - Thursday 4/3

Round of 32:
Friday 4/4 - Thursday 4/10

Samuelsson's 16:
Friday 4/11 - Thursday 4/17

The Errey 8:
Friday 4/18 - Thursday 4/24

Semifinal:
Friday 4/28 - Thursday 5/1

Final:
Friday 5/2 - Thursday 5/8

Here is how the brackets break down:

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MICHEL BRIERE BRACKET
(1)Well, shave my face with a rusty razor! v. (16)Great balls of fire!

(2)She wants to sell my monkey! v. (15)Go ahead, make my day!

(3)It's a...HOCKEY NIGHT in Pittsburgh! v. (14)I've seen that fish before!

(4)He left the defensemen on the parkway going to the airport! v. (13)He
takes the heat out of a hot kitchen

(5)You ain't nothin' but a hound dog! v. (12)Get that dog off my lawn!

(6)He gave 'em more moves than Mae West. v. (11)They are buzzin' like
beeeees around a hive!

(7) He smoked him like a bad cigar! v. (10) You can spit-shine your shoes,
'cause the Pens are going dancing with Lord Stanley!

(8)Good shot...better save by (Insert Goaltender Here) v. (9)He's
smilin' like a butcher's dog


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KEVIN STEVENS BRACKET
(1)Buy Sam a drink and get his dog one too! v. (16)How much fried
chicken can you eat?

(2)Michael, Michael, Motorcycle. v. (15)Hallelujah Hollywood!

(3)Oh no, Eddie Spaghetti! v. (14)And the kitchen is closed!

(4)Heeeeeeeeeee shoots and scores! v. (13)He's all over 'em like a new
pair of shoes.

(5)Lord Stanley, Lord Stanley, bring me the brandy! v. (12)He put
(insert player name) on his wallet!

(6)Hop in the Cordoba baby, we're going bowling! v. (11)If you missed
this, shame on you for six weeks.

(7)He's got more patience than Mercy hospital. v. (10)He picked his
pocket like he was walking down 5th Avenue

(8)He should get 5 to 10 for that v. (9)Never sit on a bald man's hat.

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EDDIE JOHNSTON BRACKET
(1)Call Arnold Slick from Turtle Creek! v. (16)How about them apples?!

(2)He doesn't know whether to cry or wind his watch v. (15)I'll be
cow-kicked!

(3)Scratch my back with a hacksaw! v. (14)It's time to buy new shoes!

(4)He hasn't scored since the eighth-grade picnic. v. (13)You'd have to
be here to believe it!

(5)Let's go hunt moose on a Harley! v. (12)It would take a miracle on
Grant Street to come back from this deficit.

(6)That was a million dollar move, but (Insert Goaltender Here) had two
million in his pocket! v. (11)They threw everything at him but the
kitchen sink!

(7)Donna needs a donut! v. (10)Oh, slap me silly, Sidney!

(8)He put it in the top shelf where grandma keeps the cookies v. (9)Go
for it, Mario; go for it.

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RONNIE FRANCIS BRACKET
(1)Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left the building! v. (16)Stop
the press!

(2)Look out Loretta! v. (15)Puttin' on the ritz.

(3)He beat him like a rented mule! v. (14)The old two niner

(4)Get in the fast lane Grandma, the bingo game's ready to roll! v. (13)He's like a bull in a china shop!

(5)He's handing out checks like it's the first of the month! v. (12)Never teach a pig to sing!

(6)He got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. v. (11)The turkey is
on the table.

(7)He hit him so hard his kids will be born dizzy! v. (10)There is a 211
in progress at Mellon Arena.

(8)Book 'em, Dano! v. (9)He went right down Broadway and then some!

Voting will begin Friday at 12:00 a.m. ET! Make sure you vote early and vote often! The polls will be listed on the right-hand side of the page, so you can find them easy.

UPDATE
VOTE NOW - FIRST ROUND!


Ronnie Francis Bracket


Eddie Johnston Bracket


Kevin Stevens Bracket


Michel Briere Bracket






A huge thank you to the boys from ThePensBlog for creating an amazing looking bracket.



The final results



Phil Bourque handicaps the final on the 5/1 Crash the Net segment during the Penguins-Rangers Game 4 radio broadcast.


Phil Bourque reveals his favorites for the tournament in-between periods of the Pens-Isles game on 3/27 during the Crash the Net segment.




UPDATE #2: Round 1 voting is over. Go here to view the round 1 winners and second round pairings

UPDATE #3: Round 3 voting is now underway
Ronnie Francis Bracket- 3rd round


Eddie Johnston Bracket- 3rd round


Kevin Stevens Bracket- 3rd round


Michel Briere Bracket- 3rd round



UPDATE #4
Round 4 voting is now underway


UPDATE #5
We're down to the Final Four! Check out the Final 4 match-ups and vote now!


UPDATE #6
The final two are here. Voting is underway


UPDATE #7
A champion has been crowned.

Ballhype: hype it up!

Pens Clinch! (Photos)

Not the prettiest of games tonight, but the Pens got the job done and clinched a playoff spot for the second consecutive year. Hossa may have gotten the empty-netter at the end, but did anyone see the ferocious back-checking he was doing all night?

Let's not talk about that Islander game on Monday night. Yikes. Here'e some pics:

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Penguins about to not show up against the Isles.
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Prudential Center from the outside.
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The division/conference championship banners.
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Action shot.
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Fleury already thinking shut-out.
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Can a Devils fan please explain to me why there's two sets of retired numbers for Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko?
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Sour Patch: a boards advertiser. Awesome.
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Billy Tibbetts!
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Such a beautiful site...and the scoreboard's not bad either.
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Couldn't remember if this was after the game or during the first period. Look at that crowd! (Joke! Relax folks)

Finally, the highlight of the night...meeting #25 Kevin Stevens.

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What a guy.

Was waiting for the train back to Penn Station, when this huge guy walks in front of me and I immediately recognized #25. After asking for a photo, we wound up BS'ing for about 20 minutes waiting for the train to come. Unfortunately, due to the fact that New Jersey should be revoked from the Union, the tracks where the trains were going got mixed up according to the monitors and Stevens took off for the nearest one, not realizing it was going to South Jersey, not New York. Before I could turn around and tell him to follow me, the doors closed. I sure hope there was a local stop on the train he was on, otherwise he had a 30 minute trip in the wrong direction ahead of him.

Ballhype: hype it up!