October 31, 2008

This week at Yahoo!

What the NHL can learn from its 'Super Saturday' fumble

Tampa Bay owner accused of 'coaching' Bolts by hockey 'insider'

Our movie-inspired mask suggestions for goalies; what are yours?

Card Bored: Elderly Red Wings and the great Wayne Grizzly

Also, be sure to head over to One For the Other Thumb where I took part in their "Meeting People is Easy" feature, similar to the pop culture grid you see in Sports Illustrated.

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Friday Five: Things That Need to be Changed at Ranger Home Games

Having attended New York Ranger games frequently for the past six seasons, there are five things that I wish fans/the arena would stop doing during the games. You die hard Ranger fans may hate me for a few of them (one in particular) but believe me, it’s for the best.

1) Stop chanting “Potvin Sucks” a thousand times of game

Folks, this cheer has been around since the early 80’s when Denis Potvin nailed Ulf Nielson and knocked him out of the 1979 playoffs. Yes, it was a cheap hit and yes, Potvin deserves the wrath of Blueshirt fanatics but enough is enough. Ranger fans chant “Potvin Sucks” at least 10 times a game and what’s more, they do it every single game, not just when they are playing the New York Islanders or the Florida Panthers (broadcaster of the team). Ranger fans should save the chant for only those teams, not the Carolina Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators or Tampa Bay Lightning.

2) Dancing Larry needs a dance partner

If you haven’t heard of him already, “Dancing Larry” tries to get the team going in the third period by dancing to the 90’s hit “Strike it Up”. It seems he’s been doing it forever and while it’s fun and gets the crowd pumped up, it’s getting awkward watching a man dancing by himself. The arena needs to find a beautiful woman for him to grind with, something I’m sure most fans would agree with.

3) There is no need for a “Let’s Go Rangers” chant during the middle of the National Anthem

I understand that fans are pumped during the National Anthem as they are anxiously awaiting the puck to drop. However, this does not mean that they need to do a “Let’s Go Rangers” chant during the middle of it.

4) Rangers Trivia needs to stop being so easy

Whenever they have a fan attempt to answer a trivia question during a TV timeout, it always seems like he or she gets the answer right. This is because fans in the background and arena officials are helping him or her just so they can giveaway a free team “goody” bag, if you could even call it that. How about they make it harder by having an arena spotlight shine directly on him and requesting the crowd to be silent? Now that would be pressure packed!

5) Stop chanting shoot during the power play

If the Rangers’ power play wasn’t bad enough, the team has to hear its fans chant “shoot” every second. Yes, I claim to do this too but realized that it’s absolutely pointless. These guys know what to do with the puck and need to be a bit more patient.

For more puck talk, email Patrick at patrickhoffm@gmail.com and check out his blog, the "Goal Line Report".

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October 30, 2008

Halloween Costume Suggestions for NHL Players

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you have your costume picked out for tonight’s festivities. Myself? I’ll be going as a “Guitar Hero” with my GH guitar, rock star hair, and assless chaps. It’s going to be gold.

Since today is a fun holiday, I’d like to offer costume suggestions for players around the NHL who should enjoy some trick-or-treating after practice or their games today.

The Tick – Sean Avery
Small in stature, but large in annoyance.

A sieve – Marty Turco
Insert beach ball-going-into-goal photoshop here.

Devil – Miroslav Satan
Because it’s just too easy.

Sperm – Alex Semin
Again, easy and why not have some fun with your last name?

Frankenstein – Evgeni Malkin
Tall, lurching fellow. If you look closely, Malkin has the same bolts coming out of his neck.

Rock Star – Alex Ovechkin
Has the charisma and personality of a front-man.

Monster – Milan Lucic
Puts guys through the glass and then pots a hat-trick a few nights later. He’s a beast.

Scream painting – Barry Melrose
The former ESPN analyst looks like he just wants to go nuts behind the bench at times.

Crutch – Martin Havlat
“Mr. IR”, as he’s affectionately known around here, probably
just needs to look in a closet for his costume.

Geico caveman – Michel Ouellet
Would like the roast duck with the mango salsa.

Greg Louganis – Mikael Samuelsson
Diving expert after this shameful attempt to draw a penalty.

Ghost – Maxim Afinogenov
Where did this guy’s scoring touch go?

Ginger kid – Mike Commodore
Because I am a ginger as well and because this photo frightens the hell out of me.

Got your own Halloween costume suggestion for a NHL player? Let your voice be heard in the comments.

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Like Old Hockey Cards?

Then you'll enjoy my new feature at Puck Daddy entitled, "Card Bored", where I take a look back at the best of the worst hockey photography.

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Best Captain in the NHL Tournament Round Two

Round one is finished and there were at least 650 votes in each pool. You can see the winners and voting totals along the right-side.

Voting for round two will begin tonight at midnight and last through next Thursday, November 6th. Be sure to visit often and support your team's captain.

Sidney Crosby v. Joe Sakic

Saku Koivu v. Chris Drury

Roberto Luongo v. Jarome Iginla

Scott Niedermayer v. Nicklas Lidstrom

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Bogus Jay Feaster Rumor Spreads Like Wildfire

It's amazing how quickly message board rumors spread. A poster on the LetsGoPens.com wrote that Jay Feaster was on NHL Live today and said that the Pens and Thrashers were in talks about a "major" deal. Obviously, looking at the Atlanta roster any "major" deal would have to include Ilya Kovalchuk, who will be a free agent in 2010. The rumor spread mightily, caused Pens fans to get their hopes up of a top-flight winger for Sidney Crosby and say their goodbyes to Jordan Staal. It obviously peaked my interest as I was curious to see how the dollars would work within the salary cap.

I went to NHL.com and found the Feaster interview and awaited to hear exactly what he had to say. about this deal.

I'm still waiting. Feaster never mentioned the supposed deal and another internet rumor was born.

You can listen to the interview HERE.

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October 29, 2008

Therrien Juggles Lines for Phoenix Game

In an effort to create some sort of offense after an otherwise dismal 11-shot performance last night in San Jose, Penguins coach Michel Therrien is once again juggling the lines. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be broken up for the time being. Ruslan Fedotenko will now be moved up to the first line along with Pascal Dupuis and Malkin will center a line with Petr Sykora and Matt Cooke on the wings. Jordan Staal, who is still struggling to score and hasn't potted a goal since March, has been moved down to the third line with Miroslav Satan and Tyler Kennedy.

Many were concerned about the Pittsburgh defense after Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar went down, but the blue line along with Marc-Andre Fleury has been good. The team is 6th in the league with 21 goals allowed, averaging 2.10 a game. The offense is what's concerning Penguin-nation. Through last night's games, Pittsburgh is 20th in the NHL with 24 goals for with Satan leading the way with four goals.

What's been worrying me is the fact that Sidney Crosby is playing unselfishly way too much. He may lead the Penguins in shots with 36, but there are far too many times when Crosby is flying down the wing he pulls up too look for a pass or does his spin-o-rama-backhanded pass across the defensive zone that goes to no one. With the team struggling offensively like it is, it's time for Crosby and Malkin to play hockey like they were playing in the NBA, selfishly and all about themselves. Pittsburgh isn't getting 200 points between guys like Dupuis, Fedotenko, and Max Talbot, it's getting them from it's two offensive leaders in Crosby and Malkin. Michel Therrien can do his usual juggling act with the lines, but eventually he's going to have to let them be to create some sort of chemistry between the players. I agree with breaking up Crosby and Malkin, otherwise the Penguins might turn into the Ottawa Senators as a one line time. Staal could be the key in all of this as a winger to help either the first or second line, but by looking at the lines for tomorrow night's game in Phoenix, it seems as if the coaching staff wants to mold him more as a defensive-center than a productive one.

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"Fantasy Faceoff" Debuts on NHL Network Tonight

"NHL.com's Fantasy Faceoff Powered by Yahoo!" debuts tonight on NHL Network at 7 p.m. ET. No word yet on who will host and be involved, but it's good to see NHLN getting some fantasy coverage on. Following the fantasy hockey show will be the 2008 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductions honoring Brett Hull, Cammi Granato, Brian Leetch, and Mike Richter.

For those still on the fence about getting NHL Gamecenter Live for their computers, the NHL is offering one last free trial this Thursday, October 30th. You'll have twelve games to watch tomorrow night including Montreal-Minnesota, Boston-Calgary, and Detroit-San Jose.

UPDATE: Just found this on NHL.com by Rocky Bonanno from Monday.

"Exciting news here on the fantasy front. Coming Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET on the NHL Network is the debut of the new television series, "NHL.com's Fantasy FaceOff Powered by Yahoo!," bringing you even more fantasy news from around the League. Also as part of the 30-minute show, myself and several hockey-loving celebrities will go head-to-head in the Fantasy FaceOff Show Yahoo! league. Members include actors Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters) and Eddie Cahill (CSI: NY); musicians Dierks Bentley, Scruffy of the Dropkick Murphys, and The Zambonis; Hockey Hall-of-Famer Pat LaFontaine; E.J. Hradek and Don LaGreca of NHL Live!; Carrie Milbank and Steven Lee of The Hockey Show; and Fantasy FaceOff show host Rob Simpson."

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October 28, 2008

Jody Shelley v. Eric Godard

These two heavyweights dropped the gloves early in the first period of tonight's Pens-Sharks game. Shelley won the fight as he was able to get the jersey over Godard's head and then land two big blows to finish him off.

These two aren't strangers to one another as they squared off in February of 2007 when Shelley was with the Blue Jackets and Godard a member of the Flames.

The voters on Hockeyfights gave Godard the win in this one.

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Highlights From Tonight's Capitals-Predators Game


that's all.

How the Caps didn't see this coming and move the game up to 7:30 p.m. ET to avoid the Versus-blackout restrictions is beyond me.

NCAA Round Up

Goon’s games to watch this weekend

Northeastern @ New Hampshire

This should be one of the top matchups in college hockey to watch this weekend. In the early going, Northeastern is on fire going 5-0-1 for the season and has already beaten defending NCAA champion B.C 4-3, laying 4 goals on Jon Muse. In goal for Northeastern, junior goaltender Brad Thiessen has been solid between the pipes going 5-0-1 with a goals against average of 1.32 with a .957 save percentage.

New Hampshire is led upfront by super sophomore James van Riemsdyk who has 3 goals and 2 assists in five games.

UNH will be looking for some redemption after losing to St. Lawrence 4 – 1 on Sunday night. Even though UNH loss to SLU, UNH has also beaten upstart Boston University 2-1on the 19th of October.
Prediction: Split

C.C. @ Denver University (Home and Home)

The fight for the Gold Pan, one of the most heated rivalry in college hockey. Colorado College is the odds on favorite to repeat as the regular season champion in the WCHA. Denver on the other hand is picked by many to finish second in the WCHA right behind C.C.

If Denver University has a weakness, it’s their sophomore goalie Marc Cheverie who is 4-1-0 with a goals-against average of 3.21 and save percentage of .905. Denver University known for its defense has given up four or more goals in 3 of 5 games this season. Denver University is led up front by super sophomores Tyler Bozak and Kyle Ostrow who are both 3-5-8 on the young season.

Colorado College, which is led up front by senior Chad Rau 5-5-10 in six games, is supposed to be an offensive powerhouse, managed to score only three goals for the whole weekend against Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY. Rau from C.C. scored two of those three goals. C.C. is led by super sophomore goalie Richard Bachman 3-0-2 has been rock solid with a goals against average of 0.97 with save percentage of .963 with two shutouts on the season. With Richard Bachman in the net the Tigers have given up 5 goals in 5 games.
Prediction: Tigers sweep

Wisconsin @ University of North Dakota

The Wisconsin Badgers (0-5-1) have given up an unimpressive 5 goals or more in five of six games this season. Wisconsin usually known for it airtight defense is looking more like Swiss cheese, full of holes. It will be interesting to see what Badgers team comes to Grand Forks, ND this weekend.

Up front the Wisconsin Badgers led by freshman Jordy Murray (1-3-4) and junior Michael Davies (2-2-4). Incidentally the top point getters for the Wisconsin Badgers are a couple of defenseman Sophomore Ryan McDonagh (2-3-5) and much heralded freshman Jake Gardiner (0-5-5).

North Dakota on the other hand has one win to its credit in four games and has given up an unimpressive 16 goals in 4 games. In the goals-against column those numbers will need to improve if the Sioux are going to make another run to the Frozen Four this season. In goal for the Sioux much heralded freshman Brad Eidsness has been the better of the two goalies (1-1-0) goals against average 4.00 and a 0869 save percentage. While his numbers are unimpressive he did play better in his second start against Minnesota State.

Upfront for the Sioux are led by 2007 Hobey Baker winner senior Ryan Duncan (1-2-3) and Senior Ryan Martens (2-1-3)
Prediction: Sioux 3 points

Minnesota State @ Minnesota

On paper this should prove to be a good series. This series is the rematch of last season’s first round WCHA playoff series between the Mavericks and Gophers. The Gopher hooked, slashed and held their way to win the series when all three games went to over time. Both teams are lead by stellar goaltenders so expect two low scoring games.

MSU-M is led by rock-solid senior goaltender Mike Zacharias (3-1-0) goals against average 2.25 save percentage of .928, who has been a solid reliable goaltender in 3+ seasons at MSU-M (34-25-10). Zacharias was undefeated until the Mavericks lost a 4-3 game to the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota two Saturdays ago.

Minnesota is led by sophomore goalie Alex Kangas (3-0-1) goals against average 1.72 and a save percentage of .936 who has been pretty sharp so far this season stopping 103/110 shots.

The Mavericks are an older team and the Gophers have 13 freshmen on this season’s roster.
Prediction: Split

Princeton vs Brown at the (Ivy Showcase)

Normally I would say this match-up is a yawner but this is will be the first official game for both teams. While the Princeton Tiger have yet to play a game, they seem to be the media darling of the 2008-2009 season. In the latest polls Princeton is ranked 8th by the Inside College Hockey and 10th by US College Hockey on Line. In my opinion Princeton is no where near the 8th or 10th best team in the country, but they would probably be a top 15-20 team.
Prediction: Tie

Goon’s Top Ten
6.)New Hampshire
7.)Denver University
9.)Michigan State
10.) Miami

For more from Goon, check out Goon's World.

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Fantasy Frenzy: Is Left Wing The New Right Wing?

For the last 15-ish years the NHL's scoring ranks have been largely imbalanced between left and right wings. While Jaromir Jagr, Pavel Bure, Teemu Selanne and the like were tearing it up along the right side in the 1990's, big time scorers on the left were hard to find beyond guys like Luc Robitaille and Kevin Stevens (in his prime in the early '90s). Pondering some of the players who have gotten off to hot starts this season got me to thinking if there has been a shift in power between the two wings. Let's take a deeper look at this with stats through Sunday's play.

Top 5 scorers among left wings:
  1. Alexander Semin - 14 points (7g-7a)
  2. Paul Kariya - 12 points (2g-10a)
  3. Thomas Vanek - 11 points (8g-3a)
  4. Zach Parise - 11 points (6g-5a)
  5. Patrick Sharp - 11 points (5g-6a)
Top 5 scorers among right wings:
  1. Brad Boyes - 11 points (7g-4a)
  2. Marian Hossa - 11 points (4g-7a)
  3. Jarome Iginla - 10 points (6g-4a)
  4. Milan Hejduk - 9 points (6g-3a)
  5. Nikolai Zherdev - 9 points (4g-5a)
There does not appear to be a big advantage by one side over the other at first glance. Dig a little deeper and you will realize that most of the big name left wingers (Ovechkin, Zetterberg, Kovalchuk, Nash, and Heatley) have been relatively quiet so far this season and you start to get the feeling that the left side is the new wing of choice for fantasy owners and should be for the next few seasons.

What does this mean going forward? It means there is less depth on the right wing (obviously), which makes someone like a Hossa or an Iginla that much more valuable. Consistent scoring from the right wing could be tough to come by this season, and that should weigh into any personnel decisions you make going forward.

Fantasy 3 Stars of the Week
  1. Jarome Iginla - Five goals, two assists, and a +3 is about all you could ask for in one week. Although the zero in the PIM column was a bit of a downer for Iginla owners.
  2. Patrick Sharp - Sharp and his teammates in Chicago have apparently responded to the coaching change in the Windy City. Sharp led the way with three goals, three assists, and a game-winner. Of Sharp's six points this week, four came with the man advantage.
  3. Marian Hossa - Hossa had a great week for the winged wheel, a week that included a pair of goals in his first game against Atlanta since being traded last February. In all "Benedict Marian" managed three goals and three assists to go along with six PIM and a +4 rating.
Chris Yarbrough is the GFH Fantasy Guru for the 2008-09 season. You can read more from Chris on his own blogs, Taking One for the Team and The Flower Shop.

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Adam Mair Not a Fan of Jarkko Ruutu

During last night's 5-2 victory by the Senators over the Sabres, Jarkko Ruutu was being his pesty self and getting under the skin of his opponents, namely Adam Mair. During a line change, it seemed that Ruutu tripped up Mair, but before he could get to the former Penguin, the referees stepped in and skated him to the Buffalo bench. That was not the end of things:

"After Neil, Mair, the Senators' Jarkko Ruutu and the Sabres' Patrick Kaleta got kicked out of the game at 18:12 of the third, Mair came down the hallway near the Ottawa dressing room, still in uniform, calling for Neil.

Ruutu went out and a scuffle started. It was quickly broken up, but the episode could lead to suspensions or fines. It didn't help that the incident was caught on TV or that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in the building."

The end of the scuffle was caught on video here with Mair yelling to Ottawa's Luke Richardson about protecting Ruutu all season being a joke.

In the end, you can say what you want about Ruutu, but he does a great job of taking opponents off their game. He's part of that class of players that you love when they're on your team and hate when you're playing against them.

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