April 30, 2008

Ryan Malone Interviews Geno, Taffe, Whitney


Ryan Whitney, not a big fan of the guerilla interviews, eh?
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NHL Draft Preview: Kyle Beach Profile

Player: Kyle Beach
Position: Left Wing/Center
Height: 6’03
Weight: 203
’07-’08 RS Stats: 27g, 33a, 60p, -4, 222 PIMs
’08 PO Stats: 5g, 6a, 11p, Even, 19 PIMs

Beach has the attributes that liken him to almost a mix of Keith Tkachuk and Sean Avery. He’s someone who can hit, agitate, score, and set-up his teammates. Beach has been consistent in his first two full seasons in the WHL. Beach took home Top Rookie honors in the WHL for ’06-’07.

The Silvertips were hurting in scoring this season, but Beach stayed consistent with his stats from last season. Plus, with another year experience, Beach has become even more hated in the WHL—which draws the comparisons to Avery. Beach has known to constantly chirp-off at opposing players, but be able to back up his words with his actions; whether it is a game-breaking play or dropping the mitts.

The best thing about Beach is that he could step into the NHL right now and not have to worry about adjusting to the speed and size of the veterans he’s playing against. Many will question his character, but under the right guidance, he should be able to flourish as a quality player in the NHL.

Check out Scotty Wazz on the FaceOff Hockey Show LIVE every Wednesday night from 9-11pm EST or download their podcast wherever you get your podcasts.


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Avery Done for Season

From TSN:

"Sean Avery has a lacerated spleen and will be out the remainder of the season, sources tell TSN.

The source went on to say that the laceration was detected with a CT scan after Avery was taken to hospital following the Game 3 with the Penguins."


Meanwhile the NY Daily News is reporting:

"Rangers bad boy Sean Avery, unconscious and not breathing, was rushed to a Manhattan hospital Wednesday in cardiac arrest just hours after his team's playoff loss, sources said.

Avery, 28, arrived at St. Vincent's Medical Center about 3 a.m., a hospital source said. Five hours earlier, the Rangers lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Stanley Cup playoff game at Madison Square Garden.

He remained in the intensive care unit this afternoon, the hospital source said."


Hopefully this is nothing too serious.

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April 29, 2008

Pens-Rangers Game 3 Thoughts


Grasp away


You knew Madison Square Garden was going to be a madhouse tonight. An electric crowd would greet the Pens, but like I said in the post-game thoughts in Game 2, an early goal for Pittsburgh would be great to take the fans out of it. Sure enough, just over a minute in, Marian Hossa makes it count for an early lead. This morning, the boys over at ThePensBlog predicted #18 would notch one tonight.

Now, just a win away from a sweep, it's time for the Penguins to step on the Rangers' throats. New York is going to be deflated heading into Game 4, but allowing them to get back in the series could be costly. Yes, only two NHL teams and three sports teams in history have come back from 3-0 deficits, but those are just statistics. That's why you play the games.

More thoughts from a big-time win:

-Ron Duguay in between the benches was somewhat insightful at times. Good to see him again. If you would have told me he was the newest member of Bon Jovi, I wouldn't have flinched.

-The Marc Staal hit on Jordan Staal was fantastic. No love for brothers. Reminds me of the fight between the Primeau brothers.

-Speaking of Jordan's older brother, Marc is going to be one solid NHL defenseman. What a stud.

-Thank you Joe Micheletti for telling me 13,000 times that the Rangers first goal was indeed a goal. From the multiple times and angles that the MSG Network showed the replay, it was obviously a good call. No need to remind us over and over again Joe.

-12 goals allowed in three games from one of the Vezina Trophy candidates.
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-Right before Georges Laraque's goal, I noticed Petr Sykora and Evgeni Malkin out there, then Laraque rushing in. I wondered where the hell Ryan Malone was, maybe caught in the change. Three seconds later I wasn't caring when BGL went top shelf.

-Pittsburgh's penalty kill has been awesome. Very composed and patient.

-Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux have got to be two of the best "no-angle" shot takers of all time. Jagr's goal tonight was unreal.

-Shots on goal: Pittsburgh 17, New York 39. The Pens only had 8 in the final two periods. So Marc-Andre Fleury still isn't a good goalie?

-How important are faceoffs? Ask Evgeni Malkin, who won a faceoff in the Rangers zone early in the 3rd period which led to the fifth Pittsburgh goal. The Pens still lost 32 of 59 faceoffs.

-I've been hammering home all along how important depth is in the playoffs. What a great addition Adam Hall has been. Not a full-time player, but when he plays, he brings his size, faceoff ability, and great penalty killing. This guy was left for dead and was only invited to the Penguins training camp on a try-out because he knew GM Ray Shero from their Nashville days.

-Are we done with the conspiracy theories now? How many more power-plays do fans want the Rangers to not score on? 0-5 tonight was New York.

-Sidney Crosby had a quiet two assists tonight and that's fine. Evgeni Malkin was again a beast with two goals and an assist.

Game 4 is Thursday night. It'll be hard for the Pens not to think ahead to the Conference Finals, but it's important to finish the job at hand. Crazy things have been known to happen in the playoffs. Take care of business on Thursday night, then rest up and be healthy for what lies ahead.

Let's Go Pens!

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More Yahoo! Today


Two posts today over at Yahoo! Sports, check them out:

Woo-hoo! Baby Penguins are goin' streaking!

Dallas Stars pimp a ride, help a family in need

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April 28, 2008

Wacky European Goalie Goal


I don't know what the hell is going on here, but this is video from a Polish League game where the white team's goaltender joins the rush and scores on a 2-on-1.

From what I can deduct, the dark team is on a power-play and empties their net. Then, a delayed penalty is called on them, so the white team's goalie notices and rushes up up to join the play and scores.

International hockey law forbids goaltenders from crossing the center-ice redline, so unfortunately, the goal did not stand. Somehow, the dark team was awarded a penalty shot from all that.

Like I said, I really have no clue what happened there. If anyone follows international hockey and is familiar with the above events, please fill me in and let me understand.

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Aside from all the Crosby-diving / Referee-biasing / Bettman-fixing talk that's dominating the Pens-Rangers series, what we have here is playoff hockey and the rekindling of an old Patrick Division rivalry.

Both fan bases hate each other right now.
The tension on the ice is incredibly high.
Players are starting to get fed up with one another.

How do you not love playoff hockey?

SIdney Crosby Playoff Beard Watch: Day 20


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Ooh boy Sid. That thing's getting bushy. I can imagine how itchy it must be.

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April 27, 2008

Brendan Shanahan Does His Best Sean Avery Impression

No, no he didn't turtle, he took a page from Avery's book in trying to screen Marc-Andre Fleury.
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TSN has the video highlights.

Now, I'm one who thinks the "Avery Rule" is ridiculous. When I first saw him doing that, I thought it was brilliant and wondered why it hadn't happened more often. As long as the player in front is not physically interfering with the goaltender, it shouldn't be illegal. Just because you're not facing the play isn't unsportsmanlike to me.

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Pens-Rangers Game 2 Thoughts


2-0 and far from over.

There were 9 goals in Game One on Friday. You knew both teams were going to clamp down this afternoon and it showed. The Penguins and Rangers tightened up in the box and tried to keep the shots out to the points and not in slot.

Now the series shifts to Madison Square Garden, also known as a house of horrors for Pittsburgh. The Pens were winless in four trips to New York this season, but as we've seen so far, the regular-season does not matter. As much as Pittsburgh enjoyed the home ice, the crowd in New York City will be intense and loud. The Rangers will no doubt feed off of the home crowd and have a "backs against the wall" mentality on Tuesday night. As long as the Penguins can take the crowd out of it, maybe with an early goal, they'll have a good chance to succeed.

Other thoughts that my brain processed during Game Two:

-How many times did Mike Emerick refer to Sidney Crosby as Jarko Ruutu? I know it might be tough to differentiate a 37 from an 87, but one time he misspoke on a Penguin power-play.

-Are the Marc-Andre Fleury doubters shutting up? He's looked tremendous since his return from a high-ankle sprain. Fleury's positioning and most importantly, rebound control is what's keeping his team winning.

-I was weary about the Hal Gill/Rob Scuderi pairing on Friday. Today, I've changed my mind. They played physical and tough, especially along the boards. Scuderi is definitely an underrated defenseman on the Pittsburgh blueline.

-Hopefully there will be less bitching from the Ranger faithful about diving and more concern for their power-play. New York was 1-3 in Game One and 0-6 today, including a man-advantage late in the third period. They dominated on face-offs winning 37 of 57, but managed only 26 shots, with the amount decreasing each period.

-Remember that guy Atlanta threw in in the Marian Hossa deal? Yeah, Pascal Dupuis? What an animal today. He was all over the ice and did a tremendous job on the penalty-kill. He brings such energy to the lineup and he compliments a guy like Max Talbot well.

-Good to see Sean Avery finally involved, too bad for New York it was after the final buzzer. I'm very surprised to see he's not involved more in scrums and getting under the skin of Penguin players. Could it be he feels the refs are keeping a closer eye on him and might be quick to call a penalty?

-The no-call goal on Marty Straka was a good call. Referees are instructed to blow their whistles when they either lose sight of the puck or feel the goalie has it covered well. This call happens all the time in games. Of course, it happened against the Rangers today, so there will be some moaning about that. Even Tom Renney said it was a good call in his post-game press conference. He said he heard the whistle before any sort of goal indication.

-If this playoff is truly a game that Gary Bettman is playing, then why did Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals lose in the first-round? A win would have setup a dream Sidney-Alex match-up in round two. Also, I'm no television executive, but I would think a Stanley Cup Final involving the Rangers would draw a better rating in the US than the Penguins, you know, because New York is the largest television market in America.

-One of the biggest reasons for the Penguins success so far has been their depth. The third and fourth liners give the top two lines nothing to worry about when they take a much needed rest. Guys like Talbot, Ruutu, Tyler Kennedy, Adam Hall and Georges Laraque do a fantastic job of containing the opposing forwards and keeping the puck deep. Teams who win Stanley Cup's always have a great depth.

-Marian Hossa needs to score on that breakaway early on. That's why the Pens got him. He's had his chances in the two series so far. If Hossa is truly the sniper he's advertised as, he needs to capitalize on those opportunities.

Tuesday night could be the series.

Let's Go Pens!

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NHL Network US to Carry Memorial Cup


Next month, the NHL Network in the US will carry the prestigious Memorial Cup, a tournament featuring the champions of the three Canadian Hockey League member leagues as well as the host CHL team.

The winners of the Western Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Ontario Hockey League (Belleville Bulls) will battle for the biggest honor in junior hockey. It is a round-robin tournament that will culminate with the champion being decided on May 27th.

Yet another great move by the NHL Network. Many hockey fans in the US have not seen a lick of junior hockey other than on YouTube. Showing the Memorial Cup is a great addition to the programming lineup. I can't wait for the games to begin and see a lot of guys that will be drafted come June in the Entry Draft.

UPDATE: Here is the Memorial Cup schedule with dates and times for those with the NHL Network in the US.

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April 26, 2008

Anatomy of a Call

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From the stills, Crosby doesn't even look to his right to even realize Straka is there. Also, if look at the first still, the positioning of Marty. He makes a diagonal stride towards the puck carrier and in the path of Crosby. Why? Gomez is already about to meet the puck carrier.

There's no need for Straka to make contact with Crosby's while he is skating forward.

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April 25, 2008

Pens-Rangers Game 1 Thoughts


Don't wake the beast.

What a start to the highly-anticipated series. Maybe it's the Penguin fan in me, but I knew, even after Sean Avery's goal, that the game was far from over. There was 36:23 left in the game. More than enough time for anything to happen. All Pittsburgh needed was a goal to jump start them. As it always seems to be in sports, a lucky break went the Pens way after Jarko Ruutu's pass went off Michal Rozsival's skate and into the net.

Who knows what else would have gone the Penguins way if Jaromir Jagr's pass from behind the net would have been stopped by Marty Straka, instead of out to Scott Gomez for a beautiful wrister past Marc-Andre Fleury.

Other things popping up in the brain:

-Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi is not going to work. I don't know how long Michel Therrien has used them in practice over the last nine days, but neither looked comfortable with the other. There was at least two times they collided into one another and both seemed out of position at times.

-I have always loved to watch and root for Jaromir Jagr. He still scares me when carrying the puck. How many spin-around passes across the middle did he have tonight? Almost all of them created a scoring chance for New York.

-You have to believe that will be the worse game for both goaltenders this series.

-Can the New York media cry about preferential treatment if a Sidney Crosby isn't involved in drawing a penalty?

-The Chris Drury "high-stick" call was a good one. The replays from Versus were inconclusive. To me, it was almost an illusion the way he moved his stick downward to tip it. It looked like the puck hit the bottom of his shaft where it meets the blade, but his downward tipping motion deceives the eye into thinking that's when he hit the puck. Either way, good call.

-Petr Sykora was the best free-agent acquisition in the off-season from a dollars/production sense. What a sniper.

-The refs did not blow a 3-0 lead on 4 even-strength goals.

-Game 2 will be a battle and a half. The Rangers will not let this game out of their memory anytime soon. They're coming out fast and hard and eager to capitalize early on any mistakes. The Pens might be on their heels early on come Sunday afternoon.

-Speaking of Game 2, how huge of of a game is that for Pittsburgh? Home ice. Coming off of a great comeback and the chance to take a commanding 2-0 lead into the "House of Horrors", Madison Square Garden. Therrien's going to have to work on his defensive pairings again if he wants to avoid another multi-goal night for New York.

Let's Go Pens!

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GFH's Mock Draft Board

As the resident Draft Guru here at GFH, I've given you a taste of what the lotto picks for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft may look like. Now, with time and some effort, I've compiled a look at the top-14 composed of picks of teams who are already out of the playoffs. Keep this page in mind, as we'll be adding the rest of the board when the time comes.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning: Steve Stamkos, C, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Great hockey sense, great vision of the ice, and leadership. Stamkos is the real deal and should be able to learn from the other franchise player, Vincent Lecavalier.

2. Los Angeles Kings: Drew Doughty, D, Guelph Storm (OHL)
Doughty’s ability has some questioning whether he could be a #1 overall pick. If he falls to the Kings, they’ll bolster their defense with him and Jack Johnson, sans Curious George.

3. Atlanta Thrashers: Luke Schenn, D, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
After losing Braydon Coburn, the Thrashers need to build their defensive defensemen, which Schenn can be. His play is simple, but effective and should fit the Thrashers for years to come.

4. St. Louis Blues: Kyle Beach, LW, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Beach can be described as another Blues’ left-winger by the name of Keith Tkachuk. He can score, muck it up, and be a leader. He’ll be a great asset for the Blues’ youth movement.

5. New York Islanders: Zach Bogosian, D, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Bogosian has raised his stock this season by expanding his game into a well-rounded one. Not only will he be a force along the boards, but he’ll help start the rush up ice after winning the battle in the corners.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets: Tyler Myers, D, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
The Jackets don’t have too much in blue chip defensemen, but Myers could change all of that. He’s a shut-down defenseman and once he fills out his 6’7 frame, should be the cornerstone to the Jackets’ blue line corp.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs: Alex Pietrangelo, D, Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)
Pietrangelo is a mature defenseman who shows plenty of poise under pressure and lets his hockey sense make up for a lack of physicality.

8. Phoenix Coyotes: Nikita Filatov, LW, CSKA-2 (Russia)
Though getting Filatov out of Russia could be a hassle, he is worth it. He has amazing hands, can stick-handle in a phone booth, and has the ability to create time and space for himself.

9. Nashville Predators: Mattias Tedenby, LW, HV 71 (Sweden)
Likened to Martin St. Louis, Tedenby is small in stature, but has the game-changing ability just by his ability to create offense.

10. Vancouver Canucks: Colin Wilson, C, Boston University (NCAA)
After a year at BU, Wilson shown that he can be a very effective centerman, something the Canucks needs to build up for the future.

11. Chicago Blackhawks: Kirill Petrov, RW, Kazan (Russia)
With a quick first step, Petrov has been looked at as a deadly sniper. Though he may not like to dish the puck that much, Petrov’s speed and ability to make defenders look silly will help his cause.

12. Anaheim Ducks: Colten Teubert, D, Regina Pats (WHL)
Teubert has been touted as the next Chris Pronger due to his size, physicality and frame; it’ll serve the Ducks and Teubert well to be brought up in an defense that has plenty of future Hall of Famers on it already.

13. Buffalo Sabres: Cody Hodgson, C, Brampton Battalion (OHL)
Hodgson has been moving up the draft board thanks to his ability to be used in any situation on the ice and to recognize and adapt to situations very quickly. It also helps that he can score from almost anywhere.

14. Carolina Hurricanes: Zach Boychuk, C, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Boychuk has plenty of speed and skill to put out onto the market and has been amazing since stepping on the ice as a 16-year-old. His display at the Top Prospects game could put him even higher, but for now—he’ll sit in the middle.

For more Draft goodness including mock drafts from other sites, check out DC Pro Sports Report, who has also listed GFH's mock draft on their site.

Check out Scotty Wazz on the FaceOff Hockey Show LIVE every Wednesday night from 9-11pm EST or download their podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

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Over at Yahoo! Sports Today...


I remind Islander fans of the night, back in 1995, when they were introduced to the Fishsticks.

Look What Arrived in the Mail...


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Just in time for tonight

Mike Lange Tournament of Quotes Final Four Voting Open!

Voting ends at 3am, Thursday, May 1st!




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April 24, 2008

From the Enemy Side of Things


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For a perspective from the other side, I recruited Patrick Hoffman to give us a preview of the Pens-Rangers from the Blueshirts side of the ice. Patrick has covered the NHL since 2003. He has worked for a variety of hockey media sources including: Stan Fischler, Spector’s Hockey, HockeyBuzz.com, TheHockeyNews.com, McKeen’s Hockey, Blueshirt Bulletin, NY SportsDay, and HokejaVestnesis.com. Check out his Rangers blog over at The Hockey News

For the first time since the 1995-96 season, the New York Rangers will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Back then, the Rangers had a lot to handle as the Penguins had Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis, Petr Nedved, Tomas Sandstrom, and Sergei Zubov. If anyone remembers, the Rangers were blown out of the water in that series as the Penguins defeated them in five games thanks to their high-powered offense and some splendid goaltending from Ken Wregget.

This season, the Rangers are in a similar situation as they get set to take on a Penguins team that has an explosive offense with guys like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marian Hossa, Petr Sykora and Ryan Malone. However, unlike the 1995-96 season, I believe the Rangers will defeat the Penguins in this year’s playoff bout.

To start, the Blueshirts won five of the eight games between the two clubs this season, including four wins at Madison Square Garden. Despite Pittsburgh’s offensive lineup, the games were relatively close and the Rangers did a solid job of shutting down the Penguins’ top offensive players and were able to get big performances out of their own offensive stars in Scott Gomez, Sean Avery, Chris Drury and Jaromir Jagr while also getting solid goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist.

Yes, I know that you fans out there will tell me that the regular season means nothing when it comes to the playoffs but all I am trying to say is that if the Rangers can implement the same style they used against the Penguins in the regular season, they have a good chance of upsetting the Penguins in the second round.

Secondly, the Rangers’ offense is nothing to slouch about. With guys like Jagr, Gomez, Avery, Drury, Brendan Shanahan, Martin Straka coupled with the team’s youth in guys like Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Nigel Dawes, this team can score goals. Sure, the Blueshirts may not have the arsenal that the Penguins have but in the playoffs, it’s all about timely goal scoring and with all the veterans mentioned in the previous sentence, the Rangers have plenty of guys that can come through in the clutch.

And although the Rangers’ defense may not have any Sergei Gonchar’s or Ryan Whitney’s or Darryl Sydor’s, they still get the job done where it matters the most: their own zone. During the regular season, the Rangers were fourth in the league in goals against with a stingy 2.32 goals against per game while the Penguins were 10th in the league with by average 2.58 goals against per game.

Lastly, let’s not forget that the Rangers have Lundqvist, a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist, in goal. He may not be as flashy or as quick as Penguins’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, who is playing the best hockey of his young career, but Lundqvist knows how to make the big save and has a lot more playoff experience than Fleury does. This season against the Pens’, Lundqvist was 5-3 with a 1.86 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. Those certainly aren’t bad numbers against a team that was seventh in the league in goals scored.

Again, the Rangers may not be as fast, as young or as offensive as the mighty Penguins are but they have the right tools and chemistry that can help win big playoff games, something a lot of these Penguin players have never been a part of.

As such, I predict that the Rangers will knock out the Penguins in six games. If I’m wrong, I will be the first to admit it and will root for the young Penguins as they go forward in this year’s Cup tournament.

For questions, comments and hockey talk, feel free to e-mail me at patrickhoffm@gmail.com.

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Mike Lange Tournament of Quotes 4th Round Winners


The Final 4 is upon us. After weeks of voting, the 64 quotes have been whittled down to a mere four. Voting will begin tonight at midnight and run through next Thursday, May 1st.

Here are the Final 4 match-ups with their winning percentages from the 3rd round:

FRANCIS BRACKET
(1) Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left the building! 54%

VS

JOHNSTON BRACKET
(3) Scratch my back with a hacksaw! 73%




STEVENS BRACKET
(4) Heeeeeeeeeee shoots and scores! 52%

VS

BRIERE BRACKET
(3) It's a...HOCKEY NIGHT in Pittsburgh! 67%


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