Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kings Gameday: That Seemed Pointless

LA Kings (Oof!) @ New York Islanders (24-21-6, 8th in Eastern Conference)

4:00 PST, FSN West

Last year the New York Islanders were fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. In order to secure that spot, they traded Robert Nilsson, Ryan O'Marra, and their first round draft pick to the Edmonton Oilers for Ryan Smyth. Smyth did help them get into the playoffs, scoring 15 points in his 18 games. The Islanders were defeated in the first round by the top-ranked Buffalo Sabres and then watched as Smyth signed a long-term deal with the Colorado Avalanche. This season, 22-year old Robert Nilsson has tallied 22 points with the Oilers, 20-year old Ryan O'Marra is playing in the AHL, and their first round draft pick (defenseman Alex Plante) is playing significant minutes for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. The Islanders? They're currently in 8th place, fighting for a playoff spot.


Now, my question to you is: what the fuck was the point of trading for Ryan Smyth? Did he promise to sign with the Islanders, only to renege? Because otherwise I honestly can't understand why they'd mortgage a good part of their future for the right to get their asses kicked by Buffalo. Anyone?


Of course, I should point out that the Kings did the exact same thing in 2006, trading Jeff Tambellini and Denis Grebeshkov to the Islanders for Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel in an attempt to make the playoffs. Parrish scored 8 points in 19 games for the Kings before signing with Minnesota in the off-season, while Sopel played admirably with the Kings for 2 seasons and then was traded last season for the draft pick that would eventually become Wayne Simmonds. Tambellini looks like a bust (he hasn't caught on in New York at the age of 23), while Grebeshkov is currently playing in Edmonton.

Whoops, Part II

The trade ended up not hurting the Kings (Simmonds could end up being the best player out of everyone), but that doesn't mean it was a good idea. I see the merits of a team like Detroit or Dallas making a deadline deal, but what's the point of making these deals just to get into the playoffs? Sure, they work occasionally (Edmonton in 2006), but most of the time it just ends up closing a team's window of opportunity too early.

(Wait, does me saying this reduce the number of suitors for Blake and Nagy? Umm, nevermind, the Rangers should definitely try to get Blake.)


I can't find the link now (someone want to help me out?) [SLEEK EDIT: Here ya go, pal.], but yesterday there was a Canadian columnist that proposed a bunch of trades he thinks should happen. Among them: Devin Setoguchi and a 1st round pick for Rob Blake and Ladislav Nagy. I would just like to say that I wholeheartedly support this trade. Make it happen, Doug!

Prediction: Have the Kings been playing good hockey lately? I actually think so. Kings win, 4-2. Goals by Frolov, Handzus, Blake and Brown.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Holy Freakin' Crap

Or, more properly said, Holy Fucking Shit:

Patrick Marleau: +1
Joe Thornton: -3
Owen Nolan: 3 goals

Revenge is best served in Minnesota

Minnesota > Earl.

Ducks Gameday—A History Lesson

Anaheim Ducks (27-20-6, 4th in west) at Minnesota Wild (28-19-3, 5th in west)

First off, tip of the hat to Steve Lepore from KK for offering this info: tonight's Versus telecast will be called by John Ahlers, John Vanbiesbrouck, and Jack Edwards. I remember when I first heard about Ahlers, the Ducks' regular play-by-play guy, getting a Versus gig. Somebody had started a thread at a Ducks messageboards in all caps: "AHLERS ON VERSUS!!!"

When I first saw the thread title, I thought, "Hey, that's really cool. I never pay attention to the AHL because it's never televised down here. Finally, some AHLers on Versus!" Boy was I suckered.

Oops. The Hockey News will have to do a new cover with Selanne now.

At any rate, Ducks play Minnesota tonight for the last time this season, and in some ways, the Wild may be getting lucky. They managed to play the Ducks the last game before Scott Niedermayer made his debut, and the way things are looking they might be playing the last game before Teemu Selanne reassumes his #8. Of course, Wild fans hate the Ducks, and tough to blame them. Twice they've made the playoffs, and twice the Ducks have soundly beaten them.

This may sound hollow (and maybe on some level it is), but I do sympathize. You see, the first two times the Ducks made the playoffs, they met their demise at the hands of their archnemesis, the Red Wings. Detroit swept Anaheim in the second round of the 1997 playoffs and again in the first round of the 1999 playoffs. Two playoff appearances, two brutal deaths at the hands of the Red Wings.

So I guess the message I've got for Wild fans is that there is hope (and for Ducks fans, there is worry). Sure, now that the Ducks have added Selanne a lot of experts have been calling them favorites, and on paper, there's a lot to support that. Still, history offers a lesson that to my eye is way too parallel to ignore: 2003 playoffs, first round, Red Wings vs. Mighty Ducks. Detroit came in as the defending Stanley Cup champs with a history of beating the shit out of the Ducks (sound familiar?), and dressed a roster loaded with superstars (good enough to lead the league in scoring).

So what happened in this parallel tale? Another sweep, except of course this time things were different; this time the Ducks came out winners. Even though Detroit was the better team nearly every minute of that series, Giguere and the Ducks willed their way to a tight victory. And another. And two more. Four one-goal wins against a team that hadn't lost even three straight all season. Three years later, the Ducks eliminated Detroit again, evening the franchise score.

Of course, both Wing eliminations were made all the sweeter by the previous history, but here's the question: Could the Mighty Ducks of '03 have beaten that Red Wings squad if it didn't have that history of losing? Was there extra incentive for Anaheim, enough to will those wins? Was it a case of karmic due?

It's never that simple, of course (Giguere is a huge wrinkle in the bitterness theory), but the fact remains: I am very, very afraid of that eventual next series against Minnesota, whenever it occurs. Sure the Wild have been humiliated in the past and I've certainly enjoyed our end of that, but having seen both sides of the equation, I don't know if any team is as emotionally ready to overthrow the Ducks in a best-of-seven as the Wild are. And I don't think any team, even twice-beaten Detroit, is as due.

Prediction: This could be the Ducks' last game with an all-North-American lineup. I don't expect Selanne to play, and I guess Pahlsson's not up to snuff either. The Wild will be ready to battle, so let's hope the Ducks are, too. Ducks 3, Wild 1. Goals by Getzlaf, Marchant, and Beauchemin.

Go Ducks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sharks acquire Jody Shelley

Why? I believe this is the reason:

Ron Wilson: "Patty, if you don't start playing consistently, Shelley will beat the shit out of you."

Patrick Marleau: "Oh." (furrows unibrow with confused apathy)

Sharks/Oilers Frozen Gameday

Born and raised in California, I am the first too admit I don't know what cold is. I am the idiot who wears ski jackets and ski pants while travelling to the East Coast. What do I know about cold you ask? I watch Packers games in the snow and shiver while sitting in a 70 degree house. What do our boys encounter in the first game out of the All-Star break? -24 degrees F are you kidding me? This short 2 game Alberta road trip before coming back to the tank for 6 in a row at home. This game being on Versus we have to endure announcers that are not our beloved Randy and Drew. Tonight we get John Forslund, Daryl Reaugh and Bob Harwood calling tonight's game for Versus. (Thanks to Steve Lepore at Kukla's Korner for the info.)

No word on if McLaren is back from his knee surgery a week ago. Coming off 2 wins I would guess Ron Wilson would stick with his lineup from last week as he rarely changes the lineup after a win. Hopefully Cheech can keep up his strong play and it will rub off on Marleau.

Kings Gameday: Manchester 90210

LA Kings (oof) @ Philadelphia Flyers (27-16-5, 2nd in East)

4:00 PST, FSN West

(We've been busy recently, so make sure you check out the posts on shitty commercials and all the Teemu stuff from yesterday.)

While the Kings have been relaxing and taking a much-needed break from the long grind of the season, the Manchester Monarchs have been embroiled in one controversy after another. This gives me a flimsy pretext to showcase my unhealthy knowledge of Beverly Hills 90210. Hey, I have an older sister, give me a break.

First, Petr Kanko was arrested last Wednesday for getting all Ray Pruit on his wife. Specifically, I guess he allegedly pinned her up against a wall by her neck after a disagreement over an upcoming vacation. The best part? He played the same day he was arrested. (At least he scored?) Hey, it’s better than when Joe Corvo punched that chick in a bar and then kicked her in the stomach while she was on the ground; he got promoted.

Of course, this may come as no surprise to those who have seen a picture of Petr Kanko:

I mean, c’mon, look at him! He looks like the Wolfman meets serial killer. They should cut out the middle man and just put him in prison right now. Save some time, you know?

(I love the guy in the comments of that article who says, “What about Mrs. Kanko hitting Petr?” That’s what I’m worried about too.)

Secondly, Teddy Purcell played in the AHL All-Star Game and kicked ass, potting a hat trick and later scoring the game winner in the shootout. It’s pretty cool that a year ago Purcell was an undrafted college player and now he has arenas chanting his name. Nice going, Teddy. I haven’t been this pleasantly surprised since Tiffani-Amber Thiessen replaced Shannon Doherty (her eyes are weird) and immediately became all slutty and awesome. Hopefully Purcell can keep it up. (He doesn’t have to become slutty, although it doesn’t hurt.)

Finally, Daniel Taylor, a British goaltender who was toiling in the ECHL, got called up to Manchester due to injuries and quickly became a fan favorite. In 11 games he posted a GAA of 1.90 and a save percentage of .939. He had 3 straight shutouts and was 33 minutes, 47 seconds away from setting the franchise record for shutout play. Everyone was really excited… and then they started Dan Cloutier. What did Dan Cloutier do? He let in 2 goals on his first 3 shots.* The opposing team only had 16 shots on the night (and none in the 3rd period), but Manchester ended up losing, 3-2. My favorite part? This quote by Cloutier:

(About letting in 2 of the first 3 shots on goal): "Weird, not the way you want to start your comeback," said Cloutier. "But we found a way to battle back."

Really, Dan? It was “weird” that you let in the first few shots you faced? Funny, because I seem to remember it happening a lot last year. Maybe you’ll be able to stop those in the ECHL. Ruin another franchise’s hopes and dreams. I tried to come up with a 90210 equivalent to you, but I couldn’t. The nearest thing I could come up with was this: your goaltending career is about as successful as Brian Austin Green’s musical career. (Don’t worry, my sister will think that’s harsh.)


The Kings begin an 8-game road trip tonight in Philadelphia against the Flyers. (Like they’re going to play the Devils?) I said earlier that the Kings would make the playoffs if they played in the Eastern Conference, so now they have a chance to make me look like a jackass by losing their next 4 games. Tonight’s game also reunites Jack Johnson and Steve Downie; Johnson, of course, infamously elbowed Downie in the head during the 2006 World Juniors and faced the wrath of a thousand angry Canadians. Now it’s been revealed that Downie is a huge douche bag and probably deserved it. Johnson will accept your apology any time, Canada.

Prediction: Kings win, 5-4. Goals by Kopitar, Frolov (x2), O’Sullivan, and Purcell (assuming he gets called up).

*If I wanted to be fair I’d point out that the first goal was on a 5-on-3, but since Cloutier pretty much ruined my life last year I say fuck ‘im.

Even the Shirtzooka is working against the Kings

Nice attempt JT, but the non-remix Eastern Motors ads are in a class by themselves. This shirtzooka ad for I'm not sure which company, sums up the Los Angeles Kings season pretty well.

Best hockey ad alltime is still a tie between the Nike French Canadian cabdriver and the Nike Mats Sundin vs Mats Sundin fan ad. Honorable mention to the ESPN Ball of Hockey knowledge ad.

Best hockey ad out of San Jose was either an eye doctor one with "NHL Super Star" Stephane Matteau, if a board could act its name would be Stephane, and an old Sportschannel ad that just had a loud fuzz pedal guitar riff and guys dropping pucks on bubble hockey players. Joe Thornton is making a run at the top spot with his Do these pants make my Butt look big and toaster ads.

Some of the best (or worst) commercial cameos with sport stars

In case you haven't been trolling the hockey blogosphere, the unintentionally hilarious performances of Colby Armstrong, Maxim Talbot, Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin have generated a lot of harsh criticisms from some of the most respected hockey bloggers. If you haven't seen it you owe it to yourself to watch it (I think I watched it about 7 times in a row out of amazement). Another big find by the unbeatable James Mirtle.

But I have to say, Eric McErlain was being a little unfair to the Pens. After all, DC is home to perhaps the most absurdly entertaining local ad campaigns I've ever seen in the form of the Eastern Motors commercials. Behold:

I thought I'd also include Troy Aikman's Wing Stop commercials since I've probably made 2-3 jokes about it on this blog. And hopefully to make anyone who's reading this around lunch uncomfortably hungry. You're welcome.

(Now THAT'S how you nail a local spot. Be the only person in the ad who isn't cripplingly corny. Only "considerably corny" by my count)

Anyway, I'd love people to link some of the funniest BoC area spots they've seen. Since this should be about the Stars I'll concede this half decent Brendan Morrow commercial from the Dallas Stars All-Star voting promos which also included Sergei Zubov making a stilted Office Space reference:

(Note to self: in order to complete my evil plan of becoming Stars co-GM, I must rise to the position of Ambassador of Fun. Screw all that Assistant GM/law school nonsense!)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Non-Teemu news

Bla bla bla, Teemu Selanne's back. Ok, I'm just being a bitter Sharks fan. You know what would be great? If Patrick Marleau -- the real Patty, not the Bizarro Evil Patty we've seen this season -- came back. And speaking of Patty, Drew Remenda was on XM earlier today. If you missed it, here's a summary of the Sharks gossip...

-Drew believes that Marleau and Ron Wilson have pretty much buried the hatchet. However, Drew thinks that Marleau's in such a big hole that he's kind of stuck where everything he does is ultra magnified and put in the context of his awful season.

-Drew also thinks that Marleau's trade value isn't very high right now. At the same time, he also says that Doug Wilson believes that this season is an aberration and the real Marleau will re-emerge sometime.

-Drew has no explanation for the home/away discrepancy and thinks the usual excuse of "We try to do too much at home" is just a lame cliche. I agree.

-Drew acknowledges that Doug Wilson would love to get some help on the blueline. He also thinks the forwards will sort themselves out with Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo getting it going (and Cheechoo has looked gradually better over the past few weeks) but the blueline doesn't have the luxury of two underachieving All-Stars.

So I suppose the biggest revelation is that Doug Wilson isn't standing pat on the whole "I believe in our young defensemen" company line. What does that mean? EJ Hradek, the host of the show, suggested a Marleau for Brian Campbell swap, which is interesting and I don't know how I exactly feel about it.

On a non-Sharks/non-Teemu note, if you're bored out of your mind tonight, tune in to the Team 1200 Ottawa between 7-9 PM PST. I'll be featured as my alter ego "Mike Chen, writer for FoxSports" to ramble on about the All-Star Game, Ray Emery, and other stuff. I've pretaped the interview because I have a beer league game tonight, so I can already tell you BoCers that I tried to give props to Anaheim/San Jose as one of the top rivalries in the league, but I just couldn't commit to it because of our Sharkies' piss-poor showing in big games so far. *SIGH* Anyways, you can listen online here. See if you can catch where I almost threw in the usual curse words I use when talking about hockey!

And I'll close this post with one Teemu bit of news. I saw this quote from his presser:

"After that, I thought I would start skating and see how I feel. Every day I started feeling better and better. Then I called my agent and asked him to see if there was a deal available."

Gee, Teemu, you didn't know Burkie had a contract ready for you in his top desk drawer? If you believe that, then I've got a plot of land I'd love to sell you.

Finnish Flashback

I don't have time today to write an excellent post on this subject yet, but I did make a nice graphic. Anyways, per TSN, Teemu Selanne has come to terms with the Ducks on a contract for the remainder of the season and should be re-joining the team this week.

There's probably two major points I want to bring up, for starters, and I'll delve a little more into these on later posts:

  • First off, in terms of salary cap management, the delayed season starts for Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne do wonders for Anaheim's postseason roster; quite frankly the Ducks should ice a pricier playoff team than they could have afforded for an entire regular season. If I were a rival fan, I'd probably be pissed. I mean, it's all well within the rules of the CBA (as Oiler fans loved to bring up during criticisms of the Dustin Penner offer sheet, or Devils fans with the Alexander Mogilny demotion), but it still was an advantage for Anaheim only—neither player was considering any other teams, it seems. And even if other teams wanted to engineer such a cap trick to their own advantage, it seems unlikely that they'd be able to pull it off with two such future hall-of-famers and difference-makers. I'm not really ready to put Brian Burke up for GM-of-the-year yet (he got a clear advantage in Scott & Teemu's one-team focus), but it is still very impressive the way he was able to manage salaries and keep availability for both players, even to the ridiculous point where the Ducks will ice both players and their offseason replacements.

  • Even though I expect rival fans to be irrationally bitter about this, there will still be valid complaints about what this means for the integrity of the league and its regular season. While everything that's transpired has been CBA-legitimate and seems sincere, any time the league's best players are voluntarily not playing in regular season games, that's bad news—even if it does end up serving the player and team's playoff interests. Even though I believe both players were genuinely considering retirement (as opposed to just milking a CBA loophole), the fact remains that the retirement loophole has now been explored and demonstrated; should the Ducks succeed this postseason it will be very interesting to see if any other player or team tries to mimic this formula, and if so, whether the league will act to try to curb it.
So, good for the Ducks' cap situation and bad for the league. And really, before we go claiming how successful the semi-retirement strategy is for a team, we really should see how the Ducks end up finishing this season and playoffs; a lot of people see the roster upside here without really recognizing the desperate straits the Ducks were in before the first of their wafflers came home. It's still going to be a tight points battle down the western conference stretch, one that perhaps a full-year Ducks squad might have been able to avoid, but at least now the Ducks have two more superweapons in their arsenal.

Feel free to comment on either of these issues in the comments, or if you like, tell me what your fully-healthy Anaheim forward lines would look like with a dressed Selanne (and Pahlsson).

Anze Iscariot!

You may not know this (I hide it well), but I don't like the Anaheim Ducks. I wouldn't go so far as to call it hate... well, yeah, I kinda would. So imagine my shock, my horror, when I read this quote in today's L.A. Times:

"We actually became good friends," [Kopitar] said Sunday. "It doesn't really matter if we're Kings and Ducks. They're good guys off the ice. On the ice that's the job and we kind of have to maybe hate each other, but now we can respect each other."

What?!?!?!? It doesn't matter if you're a King or a Duck? You know who else had that kind of attitude? Romeo and Juliet, and we both know what happened to them. (Maybe, do they read Shakespeare in Slovenia? Have they even invented paper yet?) Ridiculous, just ridiculous. We pay you millions of dollars to play a simple game, Anze, the least you can do is assume our irrational hatreds.

At least one King knows where his loyalties lie:

Also, Ryan Getzlaf is balder than my dad.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sharks-Blues photos

A non-mic'd Manny Legace.

Tomas Plihal #39 finished +1 in his second NHL game this season.

Raise your hand if you are the top Vezina candidate from the Western Conference.

Left wing #19 Dwayne King drives past #3 Douglas Murray.

Did not get a chance to post any photos from the Sharks 4-1 win over the St Louis Blues. Here they are.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Scanner Dorkily: Sketches on Selanne

Brian Burke: "I told [Selanne's] agent, if he makes any decision before the All-Star weekend is over, I'm going to wring his neck."

Teemu Selanne: "Right now, I feel there’s a very good chance I’m going to come back. When? That’s the question. When I feel ready. Every week, I’ve been feeling better and better and better."

I'll have more on this as it officially develops; in the meantime, here's some silly sketches I scanned:

Yeah, yeah. Not the best quality. Next time I'll use a thicker pen.

Semi-live blogging the skillz competition (part 1 of 3)

Note: This live blog unexpectedly became Chara-big, so I split it up into digestible pieces. Enjoy.

Well, since I'm watching this thing on-and-off I thought I would leave the occasional brain droppings on this thing.

The highlight so far is happening as I type: the fastest skater competition which features a hilariously anticlimactic match that stupidly took Ilya Kovalchuk out for Brian Campbell at the last minute. Way to kick the fans in the balls, silly NHL.

It's always fun to see the introductions as well. After watching those I must say that this might be one of the ugliest group of All-Stars in NHL history. I think Horcoff has taken one too many blows to the head.

It's funny, I was going to say the All-Star game would be cooler if the players went without their helmets, but after looking at these guys I might have to back off on that one.

Other highlights so far:

Nicklas Lidstrom's
semi-awkward Versus interview. He's asked, after 10 years, if the All-Star game still means the same to him. Since Lidstrom is all class, he does not provide what would have been my answer ("Ummm... of course not you floozy") and instead remarks that he was "more nervous" during his first All-Star game.

Tim Thomas's "shots" were pretty hysterical. That goofy, confusing obstacle course seems like it was made for Marty Brodeur but apparently he had some barbecuing to do or whatever.

Finally, I must ask, what the hell does that stupid McDonald's commercial mean? Why is it "cold" to ask someone about french fries? God, I hate McDonald's.

Update: Shootout

Nifty goal by Dion Phaneuf. Nifty non-goal by Vincent Lecavalier (C'mon, I thought that the Michael Jordan of hockey would show up in hockey's version of the slam dunk contest).

Ribeiro got stooooned. (boy that sounds bad).

Scotty Goalmez comes through.

Woof, Dipietro somehow made a save on Marian Scaborik. Yikes, in the interest of ratings don't zoom in on him. Whenever I see a closeup of Dipietro's mask "America...fuck yeah!" starts playing in my head.

The other Penguin undresses Chris Osgood. Man, I really need to work on my hockey metaphors. Right now it's just sex, drugs and hockey pucks.

Ricky D justfies his lifelong Bret Hart/Magic Johnson contract with some on-ice humor. Marty Turco still owns him from last year.

I like Eric Staal, but was he really the #1 choice for the NHL 08 cover? Really, after a monster 70 point season? Whatever.

Kimmo scores a beauty while looking just wrong in a Flyers jersey.

Uh oh, Elimination Round time. This would be more suspenseful if elimination meant getting dropped from a board room table into molten hot lava. Oh well.

Dion Phaneuf isn't just for charging and slap shots anymore. I'll be damned.

I'm happy those two guys are getting a little limelight, but seriously, Tim Thomas and Manny Legace are All-Stars? Meh.

They should have gone with the behind the goaltender camera because it was really hard to tell if some of those shootout attempts were goals. The worst camera work was the obstacle course, though, which will now formally be known as The Clusterfuck Course.

Semi-live blogging the skillz competition (part 2 of 3)

Update 2:

A round of applause for the Ryan Miller Amp Energy Drink Commercial. It's like Wild'N'Out with...goalies. By the way, I know that I'm not the Kings correspondent anymore when I have no idea who that goalie is. I'm embarrassed.

So, I might or might not add some comments about this Young Stars competition. We'll see how this goes.

The East:

Featuring Marc Staal, Nicklas Backstrom, Kris Letang and wow, we've now entered the obscure zone.

They didn't list the Western guys, but I recognized Gagner (OK, so maybe I only know him because of Covered in Oil) and the only real big name is Patrick Kane. It's nice to see the Chicago Blackhawks and not be completely depressed for a change.

Update 3 (!)

Alright, I'm in. I know I'm not the first person to make this joke, but you have to admit it's hilarious that the YoungStars feature two older than dirt goaltenders. Could they not get a hold of the other Backstrom (Minn.), Henrik Lundqvist, even Al Montoya or Bernier in LA?

I'm liking this. It's like video game hockey. Patrick Kane just scored a sweet breakaway goal. I predict the score will be 50-46.

That was one weak sauce breakaway move by Erik Johnson. Come on, Johnson. You're the future of American hockey, dammit!

Paging Eric Lindros. The renaissance of #88 has begun. Seeing how good Patrick Kane and even Phoenix's Mueller look, could it be possible that Lindros won't even be the best player to ever wear that number by the end of Kane's career? Weird.

Update in the second period of the YoungStars game

The first Sportscenter worthy moment, with Letang (Pitt) setting up Clarkson (NJ) for an amazing backhand that Legace stops. Legace sets up a Patrick Kane breakaway goal. GREAT moment.

As comically video game-ish as this game is, I'm liking it. Legace's funny enough that I take back my mean spirited remarks about his All-Star worthiness.

Holy Monkey. Kris Letang is fun to watch. Has there ever been a more Penguin-like "defenseman" than Letang? Legace: "Whoa another Marty Brodeur save!"

I have to admit I have no idea who won. The East, I guess? Who cares it managed to be the opposite of last year's YoungStars game (I actually want more!!!)

So far, so good overall. Although I could use a little more clarity in these events.

Update 5(?!?!)

At first I thought Chris Simpson was totally awful and not particularly good looking, but I have to say she's sort of grown on me. She's now a certified Cougar.

Wow, anyone that saw that Marc Savard interview with random correspondent guy. Wow. That was awful. Another point for Cougar Chris Simpson just for not being involved.

Unless you are an Oiler fan, can you really find a reason to hate Jarome Iginla? Great guy. Can't lie, I was rooting for the Flames in their Cinderella run and I still argue if Giguere is the Conn Smythe on a losing SC run then Iginla deserved it too, damn it. OK, I'm in hardcore tangent mode time to get some food.

They just ran a promo for tomorrow's all-star game. If you can name last year's AS MVP you deserve a cookie.

Coming up, my favorite events the accuracy shooting competition (now a very fun video game staple) and the hardest shot (Al Iafrate memories come to mind). Sweet. This is a quality skills competition. Does this mean the NHL is getting smarter? Kinda doubt it.

Semi-live blogging the skillz competition (part 3 of 3)


I've dropped off the NHL 2K series since NHL 07 brought out the skill stick (that sounds dirty too doesn't it) so I must ask the blogosphere: do they still have that sweet accuracy challenge where you have to hit shots in 9 different spots? That was a proud moment in nerdy gaming for me.

Could people be a bit more excited for
Kaberle's 4 for 4? That was like golf announcing. The guy's even raising his trade value in the All-Star game. That's impressive.

Eric Staal fucking destroyed one of those accuracy cameras.

I bet Kovalev could go 4 for 4 blindfolded.

You could see the camera dangling when Arnott graced one of the accuracy buttons.

Wow, Kaberle was a hair from going 8 for 8. Are you watching, Doug Wilson??

And Kaberle wins going an amazing 8 for 9.

Jeez, this thing is stupidly long. I obviously don't have the self control to live blog responsibly. And I'm not even drunk! Oh well, the damage has already been done...final update:

Haha, Ricky D's cracking me up. On 100 mph shots: "They really hurt." After "only" a 95 mph shot from Ovechkin he says "that's OK he has 40 goals already." Good stuff from the Real American Goalie.

Since when were goalies allowed to be funny? What happened to the days of Battlin' Billy Smith?

Another funny Dipietro joke: "[Lecavalier] uses the Bowflex. I'm trying to get an endorsement with Bowflex or Chuck Norris's total gym." They mic'd up the right guy. I knew with a goalie shooting competition that
Ron Hextall would have to be mentioned and Ricky D finally brought him up.

Al MacInnis reference and the third Iafrate reference. Wow!

Zdeno Chara = certified beast. 103 mph slapshot, second behind (well you know, Iafrate).

Hockey Slam Dunk Contest

Good move getting Dominique Wilkins on this one. Not sure if this gimmick is going to work but give them points for creativity.

(Then the announcer uses my exact phrase for St. Louis's attempts. Argh.)

Haha, advice: light the puck on fire, do a back flip then go top shelf. Ricky D needs his own reality show.

Ryan Getzlaf made two really cool, And1-ish moves, none of which were goals. This sort of makes me pine for Marek Malik. They just showed that awesome 9-year old goal. That goal just blows my mind.

Wow, did Scott Mellanby really just retire? He looks incredibly old.

Gaborik just tried the Malik shot. Good God Gaborik is fast.

Ovechkin almost pulled off something really cool. But it's not like he'd ever top The Goal anyway. No doubt about it, Ovechkin is one of the most beloved hockey players right now.

Overall I would give the All-Star Skills Competition a B+. Good stuff.

In Defense of the All-Star Game

I love the All-Star Game. I do. It's one of my favorite parts of the season, a chance to see hockey players not as faceless drones, but as people having a good time. Not many other people feel the same way, though. Even my friend, mentor, and former domestic partner (he knows what he did) Earl Sleek hates the All-Star Game. Honestly, I can't understand it. It's hockey! On TV! You got Owen Nolan picking out his shot, Marty Turco taking an interview while he's making saves, Rob Blake failing in the fastest shot competition every year, it's awesome!

A common complaint is that the All-Star Game used to be great, but now it has lost its luster. I don't buy that. It's not like guys in the '80s tried harder or anything. If anything, the game is better because we're watching the best athletes ever to play the game. I think it's just that in the past the game was new to them, and now it's the pretty much the same thing every year. But you know what? So is New Year's. So is the Fourth of July. Just because something is similar every year doesn't mean it's not great.

I think people might be taking this hockey business a little too seriously. I mean, yeah, it's a billion dollar industry and everything, but at the end of the day we don't watch the game because of wins and losses. We watch it because it's the most beautiful game on the planet, and the All-Star Game celebrates that. Sure, Martin Brodeur won't be there, and neither will Sidney Crosby, but I thik I'll forget that right about the time Ilya Kovalchuk is scoring his 4th goal. We (hockey bloggers and sportswriters, I mean) take this game very seriously, because it's very important to us. We constantly worry about this guy's contract situation or our goalie's recent slump. For just 2 days, I don't think there's anything wrong with just celebrating the game and the people who play it.


Anze Kopitar will be the Kings' sole representative here at the All-Star game.* I'm very excited about his inclusion, because I think he's going to surprise a lot of people. Like, MVP-level surprise people. We've all seen what happens when Kopitar gets room to move in space, and the All-Star Game gives people a lot of space. My only request? Don't put Kopitar on a wing. Let someone else take the face-off, but then let Kopitar play center. He needs the puck and I don't think he'll get a chance to do his thing if they have him on the wing. (My ideal line? Gaborik-Kopitar-Arnott.)

Also, do you think Getzlaf and Perry will throw a hissy fit if they don't get to play together?

*Jack Johnson is in the YoungStars game, but it's 3-on-3 so he'll probably have to stay back and play defense the whole time. Although, I think it's half-court, so I don't know what the fuck. He'll probably get a penalty, though.

Daydreaming about the 2008 playoffs...

After watching PJ Swenson’s great Stanley Cup interview and with the (weak) hubbub surrounding the NHL All-Star game, I couldn’t help but think to a few months from now when the games start to matter again.

With all that in mind, I thought it would be fun to conjure up the most appealing Western Conference playoff matchups that are within the realm of reason (sorry Kings and Oilers fans).

Detroit vs. Colorado

After all these years, the Red Wings still are the gold standard of the NHL and Joe Sakic is still considered the face of the former Nordiques franchise (even if this season is marred by injuries).

But chances are, at least in the case of Quoteless Joe, that the times will be changing soon enough. So wouldn’t it be nice to watch one last battle of the NHL’s greatest modern blood feud? Hell, maybe we can even get Claude Lemieux to turtle on the ice during the ceremonial first drop of the puck.

For the record, if the playoffs started today, this would be the first round pairing.

Minnesota/Columbus vs. Dallas

I lump those two teams together for a simple reason: both teams bring Ghosts of the Stars Hockey Past. The atmosphere in Minnesota when the Stars came to town during the playoffs, with former North Star (can you believe he actually skated with an N on his jersey at one point?) Mike Modano would be surreal. And that would be good, because aside from a Ribeiro deke here and a Gaborik breakaway there, the games would probably be bland enough to put Mario Lemieux in a trap induced coma.

The Columbus Blue Jackets would bring The Ghost of Stanley Cup Past in the form of former head coach Ken Hitchcock. Could the formerly mustachioed former coach lead his ragtag group of upstarts past his older, more talented former team? That would be an interesting storyline, no doubt.

Detroit vs. Vancouver

The best team in the league against the league’s best goalie…it really doesn’t get much better than that. Also: could the Sedin twins use their super secret Swedish doppelganger tricks to bedevil mechadefenseman Niklas Lidstrom? (No)

Calgary vs. San Jose

Joe Thornton vs. Jarome Iginla; Kipper vs. Nabby; Mike Keenan vs. Ron Wilson; a big, talented offense against a big, tough defense. This series would feature enough contrasting elements that people would grow ill from Irresistible Force vs. Immovable Object references.

Detroit vs. Anaheim

It would be a travesty if the best series from last year’s playoffs didn’t take place again. If I were a gambling man, I would put money on that being the WCF for a second year in a row. Who would win? That’s hard to say.

But the Ducks would have the man curse that is Bertuzzi on their “side” this time around.

As great as all of these matchups would be, the only battle that has to happen is the one you saw coming a mile away

San Jose vs. Anaheim

This needs to be the year that the Battle of California takes place. Come on guys, seriously. Stop teasing us.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

61 pts But Still Underachieving?

Can you call a team that has the 3rd most points in the league underachieving? After demoralizing losses at home to Dallas and Detroit, the Sharks ended the pre-Allstar break with 2 victories. Granted, the 2 wins were against Chicago and St.Louis, but that just tells the story of the season. Beat up on the lesser teams (good) and lose to the elite teams. (bad) Fans can complain all they want about what trades we need to make, what is wrong with Marleau, and should Ron Wilson be fired but look at the standings and there you see San Jose at the top of the West standings. You can still see signs of inconsistency but the Sharks must prove they can beat the elite in the league. If you watch Dallas, Detroit and Anaheim play the Sharks, all you see is domination and the Sharks not playing up to that level. By watching these games , one wonders how any of these teams ever loses a game. (In Detroit's case it seems to be true). With one month to go till the trade deadline, the playoff push starts next week.

You Can't Tell Right Now...

...but I'm busting.

Oh, and Sutherby, Brad Stuart knocks the wind out of Travis Moen and you respond by trying to fight him? That's not the Anaheim way, c'mon. What you do is, you wait until there's a little bit of a scrum and then you sucker punch a guy like Jeff Giuliano or Matt Moulson. Don't worry, you're still new, the goonery will come.

Kings Gameday: What Can Corey Perry Expect to Make?

Los Angeles Kings (Won 4 of their last 6! That's something, right? Hello?) vs. Anaheim Ducks (0-2 in last 2 games)

7:30 PST, FSN West

Corey Perry is the most prominent restricted free agent in California this off-season (unless San Jose fans are staying up at night worrying about Steve Bernier), so I thought it might be fun to look at how much he might make this off-season. It's way too early to do this (I'm sure Earl will have a much more in-depth look when the season's over), but I wanted to do it because I love shit like this. Probably the best way to go about it would be to find a like player under similar circumstances and see what kind of contract they signed. If only there was a player like that, anyone we could compare to Perry … quiet, Dustin Brown, I’m trying to think… dammit, Dustin, leave me alone! ...wait, come back!

It's like he's in space.

Dustin Brown and Corey Perry are fairly similar players. Don’t believe me? Why not? I wouldn't lie to you. Look, I’ll show you:

Both were drafted in 2003 (Brown 13th, Perry 28th)

Both have played in around 200 games (Brown played in 30 games before the lockout and only tallied 5 points; Perry didn’t make his debut until 2005)

Both have roughly the same point-per-game totals (Brown .5, Perry .6; if you remove the 30 games Brown played when he was 19, it hops up to .55)

Both have roughly the same progression in points from year to year [Brown went from 28 to 46 to 39 (in 48 games so far); Perry went from 26 to 44 to 45 (in 52 games so far)]

Both have roughly the same breakdown in points this season (Brown has 24 goals to 15 assists, Perry has 26 goals and 16 assists)

Both look humorous.

Dustin Brown looks like Spike from Land Before Time.

See, I told you they were similar. If you want to apologize, you can. Of course, there are a few differences. Most obviously, Brown is considered more of a power forward while Perry is characterized as a sniper. (Which seems weird to me, because Brown is a finesse-y power forward while Perry is a physical sniper; doesn't that make them the same?) Dustin Brown also plays on the penalty kill and leads the league in hits by 58 (the gap between him and the 2nd place guy equals the gap between the 2nd place guy and the guy in 23rd.) Plus, Dustin Brown is third in the league in penalty plus/minus behind Sidney Crosby and Anze Kopitar, while Perry has seen his penalty total rise every year. (He’s behind Brad Stuart in penalty plus/minus, if that tells you anything.) Plus, Dustin Brown was an academic player of the year in Juniors and is a great character guy while Corey Perry looks like the dickhead from Salute Your Shorts and is the biggest diver in hockey. But still, they’re pretty similar.

I think Perry should grow his hair like that.

The thing is, most projections for Perry’s salary predict he’ll get a $4 million/year (or more) contract this off-season. I don’t think it’ll be that high. Dustin Brown signed for an average of $3.175 million over 6 years; Perry will get more than that because by all accounts Brown took a discount and Perry has an All-Star selection and Stanley Cup under his belt. But Brian Burke is on record as saying that Ryan Getzlaf is better than Corey Perry and Dustin Penner combined, so I think he’ll be arguing that most of Perry’s value derives from his constant pairing with Getzlaf.

My prediction: I think we’re looking at a 3 or 4-year deal for around $3.5 million a year. That’ll put him below Milan Michalek and Dustin Penner, but above Brown. If he gets more than that I’ll be very disappointed in Brian Burke. Either that, or Perry goes to arbitration and gets dicked over like Mike Cammalleri did. Or, hilariously, someone offers him an offer sheet and the Ducks get fucked for the 2nd year in a row. Please oh please let it be that last one.

Game Prediction: I have a hunch that this is one of those games where the Kings inexplicably play great. Kings win, 4-2. Goals by O’Sullivan, Visnovsky, Moulson, and an empty netter by Brown. (This pretty much guarantees a 7-0 loss.)

BoC Gameday—It's King-hunting season!

Anaheim Ducks (27-19-6, 3rd in west) at Los Angeles Kings (19-29-2, 15th in west)

I'm always inspired whenever the line between blogging and cartooning gets blurred, and my latest inspiration in that regard is Covered in Oil's mike w, who's not only been bringing his skills to the CiO pages, but has even branched out to start his own focused blog, Chamber of Comics. I think mike w and I are in a bit of mutual envy about each other's "artwork", but make sure to check out his stuff; it's high-quality mixed with high-larity.

In the meantime, the Ducks play the Kings tonight in each team's last game before the All-Star break, and I'm hopeful for a good bounce-back effort after some tough games against the Stars and Wings:

Speaking of the All-Star weekend, last year I introduced a new shot accuracy contest for the skills competition, and in that same nonsensical spirit I also present this week’s PuckToon. I'll apologize in advance for a so-so rendition of Jarome Iginla, but as always, enjoy it.

Prediction: The Kings are still looking to beat the Ducks for the first time on U.S. soil this season, and I think they'll be putting up a strong effort in front of their long-suffering fans. Still, these Kings have yet to see post-retirement Niedermayer on the other side of the ice, and that probably makes the difference. Ducks 4, Kings 2. Goals scored by the All-Stars: Getzlaf, Perry, Pronger, and Niedermayer, countered by All-Star Kopitar and Young-Star Johnson.

Go Ducks.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Face time with Stanley

I asked Hockey Hall of Fame Keeper of the Cup Mike Bolt a few questions about the Stanley Cup Tuesday at the 2008 ECHL Allstar Skills Competition in Stockton. More notes about the video are available here, and a link to the video is up on youtube here.

There is just enough room for a non-Anaheim Californian team on the lower ring. Bolt also mentioned that a few of the names that were carved on the inside of the Stanley Cup have been removed, and that those happened before the Cup had a 24-hour escort from the HHOF.

Ducks Gameday—Scoring Trends Part 2

Detroit Red Wings (36-10-4, 1st in west) at Anaheim Ducks (27-18-6, 3rd in west)

This summer, I took a graphical look at leaguewide scoring, week-by-week, since the league came back with its rule changes. Seeing as this season is past its halfway point, I thought I'd update that graph.

Essentially, all I've done is group games by week; each week represents roughly 45 games. For each week, I've averaged the total goals scored per game, the total power play goals scored per game, and the power play opportunites per game. All are plotted below with a straight-line trend, but as before, I've divided the PP opportunities by six; this approximates the PP conversion rate fairly well. This time I've added an extra green line—the non-PP goals. This is really the difference between the red and blue points, but I think it's worth seeing on its own.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Really there's two main things I want to point out:
  • The first is really what I highlighted before; there is a pretty clear decline in scoring, but it's not difficult to pinpoint its source. There has been a steady decline in power play goals that correlates well with the decline in power play opportunities awarded. Probably some of that comes from referee standard relaxation and some from teams adapting their systems, but in either case that seems to be nearly the entire scoring story; non-PP scoring per game has remained incredibly consistent.

  • There is another aspect to this chart, though. Moving left to right the trend is a decrease in power play opportunities, therefore a theoretical increase in even-strength time. Yet despite a decrease of 5 or 6 power play opportunities in a game, the number of non-PP goals has not increased; instead it has remained static. The non-PP scoring rate, therefore, has decreased—there is more even-strength time available, but the same amount of goals are being produced. This is meaningful, I think; could it be that teams began to devalue 5-on-5 scoring in the face of initially-increased power plays?
Anyway, I really want to present the chart without too much judgment. That is, I really don't want to use this scoring trend as evidence about whether the game is more or less exciting than it once was. In hockey, quite frankly, excitement isn't measured in power play goals. For perspective, though, here are the comparative numbers: In 2003-04, the year before the lockout, the NHL averaged 5.14 goals per game, 1.40 power play goals per game, and 8.48 power play opportunities per game. This season, those numbers are at 5.51 goals per game, 1.57 power play goals per game, and 8.75 power play opportunities per game.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Anyways, I don't really know why I decided to pursue that topic instead of focusing on tonight's game against the Red Wings. Since Scott Niedermayer's return on December 16th, Detroit's the only team that has picked up more standings points than the Ducks, and in that regard, it should be a good matchup between titans-of-late.

In fact, there are lots of posts I need to write: how Bertuzzi became worthy of his salary, does this team need Teemu?, the surprising All-Star selection of Scott Niedermayer (to go with Pronger, Getzlaf, and Perry), the big contract extension signed by Ilya Bryzgalov, and I also wanted to link to a nice Mirtle interview that PJ did.

But that's what's odd about old Earl, I guess. A match-up with two top teams in the west with a relevant playoff history and tons of available storylines, and I get caught up in league scoring charts instead. Oh well; comment on whatever topic you want in the comments.

Prediction: The Ducks have taken 3 of 4 points against Detroit early this season, but a huge factor in each game was a crazy Russian named Bryzgalov. Of course the Ducks have improved a great deal since October, but it's still tough to tell where they stack up against the Wings, who've murdered the west despite injuries on their roster. I still get the sense that for the Ducks to win a lot of things have to go right, and fortunately, that's what happens tonight. Ducks 4, Red Wings 1. Goals by Rob Niedermayer, Bertuzzi, Weight, and Perry.

Go Ducks.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More Razor, more Canucks

The Montreal Canadiens are clubbing the Boston Bruins like baby seals at the moment, up 6-1, and it got me thinking about Versus coverage once again. I know that the NHL looks at Canada as ratings poison, but it’s a real pleasure to watch games where the crowds treat an NHL game like American fans treat an NFL game. As we learned from the Outdoor Game on New Year’s Day, atmosphere plays a huge role in the buzz a televised sporting event takes, so would it hurt to throw the occasional Ottawa-Toronto blood feud our way?

Yeah, I know that’s a pipe dream so I’ll propose a more reasonable idea: more Darryl Reaugh. That’s right, folks: it’s time Darryl. You’ve served the Stars well with your SAT words and silly banter, but the NHL needs a great broadcaster and Reaugh is a guy who can keep people watching.

The one thing I can say about Reaugh is that he has a distinct voice: there is no NHL broadcaster that sounds like him. I knew the second I heard his voice that he was getting one of his rare national (well, if you consider Versus national) announcing gigs.

He keeps his analysis pretty simple, yet he’s clever when compared to John Madden and people of his “no shit” ilk. And besides, there aren’t many NHL announcers who make references to Napoleon Bonaparte.

So I think we’ve found the ideal replacement for John Davidson beside Doc Emmerick: and he’s announcing Stars games.

And don’t worry, quality play-by-play guy Ralph Strangis. You’ll need a replacement, and hey, look, I’m looking for a job as we speak! Talk about a seamless repla…hey? Where are you going…?

Kings Gameday: There Goes the Goodwill

Los Angeles Kings (Bad) vs. Detroit Red Wings (Good)

7:30 PST, FSN West

The Kings have played pretty well lately; they've won 4 out of their last 5 and only need to win 2 more games to actually finish above .500 for the month. Unfortunately, the Kings now play two games against the Detroit Red Wings and the Anaheim Ducks. On the one hand, they're the probably the two teams I fear playing the most and the Kings will get them back to back. On the other hand... well, he's scared too. I mean, we could always win one of these games, but I'm not very optimistic.

Michal Handzus will be very important against the Red Wings. He, along with Calder and whoever else they seem fit to place next to them, will need to stop Detroit's top line of Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Holmstrom. The line created 2 goals the last time the Kings played them and Handzus will have to work hard to prevent that from happening again. Can he do it? I don't know, I just write for a blog. Wait for the game to start and don't be so anxious.

Against the Ducks, the important line will be Kopitar's. I mean, they're always the most important line because they're our best, but they're especially important against the Ducks. The last time the Kings played in Anaheim, Carlyle placed Getzlaf's line up against Kopitar's and it worked pretty well. Getzlaf's line cycled the puck in the Kings' zone the entire time, giving Kopitar and Brown no puck possession time. I imagine the Ducks will try that again and it's up to Brown and Patrick O'Sullivan to get Kopitar the puck with room to move.

Of course, all of this is moot if Labarbera plays like he did against the Flames (because we'll lose) or against the Canucks (because we'll win). Forgive my pessimism, but I think it's probably unrealistic if I did something retarded like predict the Kings win the next 2 games. We're not as bad as our record suggests, but we're definitely not good enough yet to beat the two best teams in the Western Conference.

Prediction: Kings win, 4-2. Goals by O'Sullivan and Blake.

Note: Any Detroit fans want to posit any offers for Rob Blake, feel free to do so in the comments.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sharks vs Detroit Red Wings photos

Detroit came in and dropped the hammer on San Jose 6-3, and as they say the game was not as close as the score would suggest. Leftover photos on Battle of California, more are up on Sharkspage.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How to fix Marleau/Wilson

Ok, it's just my own opinion, but I think you could point to tonight's home game against Detroit as The Most Important Game Of The Season. Yeah, there are games against Anaheim, but this represents a battle against 1) the best team in the league 2) the Sharks' own home woes 3) the team that smacked them down last season. And by now, everyone knows that Patrick Marleau and Ron Wilson are still in the middle of some passive-aggressive hissyfit.

If I'm Doug Wilson, I fix this tonight by inviting the two into my office for an afternoon meeting. In my perfect world, the following conversation takes place between three grown men. Actual spoken words in quotes, subtext in parentheses.

Doug: "Dudes..." (Dudes, what's wrong with you?)
Ron: "Dude!" (It's not my fault. It's Patty's fault.)
Patty: "Dude. Seriously." (Dude, not this again.)
Ron: "Dude..." (Dude, get over it.)
Doug: "Dudes!" (Stop it. Be grown ups. Talk to each other)

Doug gets up and goes to the door. "Dudes." (Dudes. Work it out.) Doug leaves.
Patty: "Dude?" (Hey Ron?)
Ron: "Dude." (Yeah?)
Patty: "Dude. Seriously." (Man, the way you keep throwing me under the bus sucks. I mean, I know I'm not Mike Grier, but I've got a pretty good track record of being a quality NHL player. I'm a human being too. I have emotions. Work with me here. I need some positive reinforcement.)
Ron: "Dude...dude." (You're right. I have been bitchy to the media. That's my bad.)
Patty: "Dude?" (Honest?)
Ron: "Dude." (Yup. It's my bad. But I need you to step up too.)
Patty: "Dude!" (You're right. It starts tonight against Detroit!)
Ron: "Dude!" (Damn straight. You're our captain. I need you and Joe to lead the charge.)
Patty stands up and puts his hand out. "Dude." (All right. We're committed to winning this together.)
Ron stands up and takes Patty's hand. "Dude." (Yup. Here we go.)

Doug opens the door. "Dudes? We cool?"
Ron: "We cool."
Patty: "We cool."
Doug: "Dudes." (Let's go get Detroit.)

Kings Gameday: Uncle Kracker?

Los Angeles Kings (hepsch) @ Vancouver Canucks (25-17-5, t-6th in West)

7:00 PST, 1150 AM

At the beginning of the season I had a great idea to read through player bios and then decide if I like them more or less based on that information. It was a fun, quirky way to get to know the players a little better. Of course, I do that once and then the website I was getting the information from (lakingsjunkie.com) never updated again so I couldn’t continue the series. But you know what? Fuck it, I’m still doing it, I’ll just use the old bios from LaKings.com instead. I already judged Frolov and Cammalleri (which you can find here), so today I will be judging Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Scott Thornton.

Anze Kopitar

What I like: His favorite movie is Happy Gilmore, he likes Jessica Alba (who doesn’t?), and an interesting fact you might not know about him is that he loves pancakes… wait, HE DOES??? Holy shit. My mind is blown right now. That is the most interesting fact in the entire world.

What I don’t like: His favorite recording artist is Uncle Kracker. Who the hell likes Uncle Kracker? I don’t even think Uncle Kracker’s mom’s favorite recording artist is Uncle Kracker. There’s a couple other things that bother me about him, but this one is really all I need.

Overall: I like him less. Honestly, Uncle Kracker? Get the fuck out of here.

Are they scissoring?

Dustin Brown

What I like: His favorite movie is Fight Club, his favorite action hero is Batman, he likes Las Vegas, and he supports Leukemia. No, wait… he supports fighting leukemia. Sorry, I read that wrong.

What I don’t like: He likes World of Warcraft (nerd), he listens to Tim McGraw (what is this, baseball?), and his favorite TV show is King of Queens. The last one will be removed if he only likes it because of Leah Remini.

Overall: I like him more. I can’t dislike a guy who enjoys Fight Club. Plus, maybe he’ll read this and invite me to Vegas.

God, Mike Ricci is freakishly ugly.

Scott Thornton

What I like: Pretty much everything, but some of the highlights are that his favorite band is Social Distortion (see, that’s a hockey band), he hates slow drivers and yappy dogs, he likes The Godfather, his favorite actor is Ed Norton… basically, Scott Thornton is the coolest dude ever.

What I don’t like: Umm, I guess his nickname: Thorty. Honestly, hockey players are the laziest people in the world when it comes to nicknames. Why not, like, “The Godfather” or “Healthy Scratch” or something like that?

Overall: I like him more. I wish Scott Thornton was actually good at hockey because he sounds like a guy I’d want to have a beer with. He’s like Craig Conroy without the talent.

Prediction: Kings win, 3-1. Goals by Brown, Lubo, and “The Godfather.”

Friday, January 18, 2008

Three lightly researched nuggets

Here are some somewhat random NHL and BoC thoughts of varying quality:

  • The Kings have been on the brain ever since I foolishly compared the Marc Crawford – Patrick Roy Avalanche to the early 90s Cowboys. After some (reckless) thought, I think the Kings need to try to engineer their own version of the Herschel Walker for a bunch of draft picks that stocked the Cowboys dynasty trade.

OK, enough with that analogy: the Kings need to take a page from John Davidson’s playbook and make a trade deadline feast out of their short term players. The Kings indeed should follow the Blues' lead by giving up their dead weight for quality draft picks (just look, the Blues even like their former coaches!)

Rudy did a fantastic job detailing a player who is there biggest bargaining chip, Rob Blake. When you consider the rarity of a tough, skilled veteran D-man compared to the loafing mediocrity of a Bill Guerin or Keith Tkachuk, the Kings theoretically could get a helluva package.

Smaller names include Ladislav Nagy (what the hell happened to him?) and Brad Stuart. You know, more or less every recent FA signing.

  • There is talk out there about a possible Jaromir Jagr trade. Now, I don't know how feasibly the polarizing Czech superstar could fit into the Sharks payroll (am I guessing wrong that they'd have to finally legitimize the Patrick Marleau trade rumors by moving him for the formerly mulleted wonder?), but that still gets the old imagination tingling.
Again, I'm too lazy to get into the nuts and bolts of the salary cap in this deal. But could your feeble minds conjure a more terrifying line combination than Joe Thornton + Jaromir Jagr + fire hydrant?

That would be one of the most talented and often mocked super-lines in recent NHL history.

  • This isn't really BoC specific, but after watching the Winter Classic game and learning that the Buffalo Sabres' merchandise outsells that of the Buffalo Bills, can't we all agree that a good Sabres team is good for the NHL?
It's really depressing to watch such a high flying, good-for-the-game group unravel like this. Even though it probably falls at the feet of Sabres management, let's just blame it on that stupid Buffaslug logo.

Ducks Gameday—An x-ray of Pronger's knee

Anaheim Ducks (26-17-6, 2nd in west!) at Minnesota Wild (26-17-3, t-5th in west)

Last year when Chris Pronger broke his foot, I produced an exclusive x-ray photo of the injury. Cut to last night's game in the first period at Nashville, when a Shea Weber point shot hit the outside of Pronger's knee; he left the game, apparently suffering a contusion and is day-to-day.

So, without further ado, to the right is the x-ray I received of the current injury. You can see the extent of the injury by the excessive number of lightning bolts.

On that note, it's probably appropriate that the Ducks go to Minnesota tonight, a regular source for injuries as I noted in last spring's series preview. Between the regular season and playoffs, Ducks-Wild games in the last season-and-a-half have produced the following injuries:

  • Marian Gaborik (groin, 35 games)
  • Todd Fedoruk (broken face, never the same again)
  • Chris Pronger (broken foot, 10 games)
  • Francois Beauchemin (jaw fracture, 1 game)
  • Kim Johnsson (suckerpunch to the face, 1 game)
  • Todd Bertuzzi (concussion, 14 games)
We'll see what happens tonight. One thing to watch out for -- this will be Brad May's first game in Minnesota since the Johnsson suckerpunch. May already fought Boogaard in Anaheim, but I have a feeling he might have to answer the bell again in front of the Wild fans.

Prediction: The Wild have already beaten the Ducks twice in Anaheim this year, the last win coming on the game before Niedermayer's return. If there's any solace, it's that the Wild scored the first seven goals in the season series, but the Ducks have scored the last two (to be fair, that game was well out-of-hand, so this isn't that encouraging). Still, the Ducks are rolling, and I'm believing. Ducks 4, Wild 3. Goals by Kunitz, Weight, Pahlsson, and Beauchemin.

Go Ducks.

Kings Gameday: Don't Feel Bad if the Kings Beat Your Team

Los Angeles Kings (yuck) @ Calgary Flames (23-17-8, 7th in West)

6:00 PST, 1150 AM

One annoying thing about being the worst team in the league: you never beat someone. Every time the Kings win, fans of the other team will decry their team’s lack of effort, or complain that the team was caught looking ahead, or some other gibberish. Just think about it: the Kings have already cost one GM his job, the Maple Leafs started looking for a change after losing to the Kings, and this article was written after the Oilers got their asses handed to them. It gets kind of frustrating.

Look, I get why it happens. People look at the standings, see the Kings are in last place, and just assume their team will win; when they don’t, it must be because they didn’t try hard enough. But the Kings aren’t your typical last place team, at least in my opinion. Sure, we’ve lost 7-0 to Nashville, but the Kings have also blown out a few teams. They’re inconsistent, but if everything is clicking the Kings can be a pretty devastating team. Some times you’re going to lose to them, but other times you’ll roll over them easily. That’s just how it goes. Against Edmonton, Dustin Brown and Lubomir Visnovsky both scored and Anze Kopitar had 2 assists. It wasn’t a fluke that the Kings beat Edmonton; the fluke is that they haven't done that more often.


Something kind of cool: I was listening to the game on the radio and Nick Nickson said, “Now Handzus’ line is heading out on the ice.” I knew exactly who he was talking about. That hasn’t happened very often this season.


Where does Cammalleri play when he gets back?

1) Cammalleri resumes playing with Kopitar and Brown, while O’Sullivan plays with Handzus and Calder. Purcell is sent back down.

2) O’Sullivan centers a line with Frolov and Nagy while Cammalleri plays with Kopitar.

3) Cammalleri centers a line with Frolov and Nagy.

I’m not sure what the best solution is to this little quandary. I’d like to see Cammy with Frolov and Nagy, but I’m not quite sure if Cammy can still play center. I think having your best players play together is a good idea (Armstrong can center the 4th line, where he’s actually above average), but we’ll have to see what Crawford thinks. It should be interesting.


Because why not:

Prediction: Kings lose, 3-2. Goals by Kopitar and Frolov.