Detroit Free Press art director Rick Nease sent this Stanley Cup box office poster parody to the Sports Designer blog. "Extinction is just a goal away", a truely inspired tagline.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette designer Ben Howard was responsible for this Indiana Jones-Sidney Crosby takeoff. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is one of the most bizarre sequels ever to come out of Hollywood. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas wanted to make a sequel to the X-Files and National Treasure, but with Harrison Ford and the Indiana Jones franchise they made Crystal Skull instead. 124 minutes of my life I will never get back.
Movie equivalent for the Sharks failed Stanley Cup run this season: Aguirre, the Wrath of God. The 1972 film written and directed by eccentric filmmaker Werner Herzog featured Spanish conquistadores in a brutal and grueling quest down the untamed Amazon river in search of the legendary city of gold. The quest does not turn out well, and many of the soliders end up on a raft floating aimlessly towards nowhere.
Nominate your films for the Ducks and Kings seasons in the comments.
[Update] We Bleed Teal noted earlier that Ryane Clowe was a "monster" in front of the net against Calgary. A Cloweverfield monster.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Every once and a while, I try to imagine what it would be like to be a professional athlete.
It's pretty run of the mill to dream of having the goal scoring ability of Mario Lemieux or being infinitely clutch like Michael Jordan, but a lot of times it goes a little deeper than that for me. Walking a day in the shoes of a hamandegger seems way more interesting.
Imagine what it felt like to be Darryl Sydor, watching helplessly in street clothes for most of the playoffs, but at the same time being very well compensated (if you ignore the fact that, at least literally, players "aren't paid" in the playoffs).
One name that will always stand out is Aaron Rogers of the Green Bay Packers. I can't help but wonder: is this guy cursed or subtly lucky? After sitting in the NFL Draft Day green room for what must have felt like an eternity, Rogers basically became a verb (example: Angelo Esposito got Aaron Rogers-ed in the 2007 Entry Draft, when he fell all the way to the Pittsburgh Penguins). Then, he got the extra bad luck of having Brett Favre stay in the league a year or two longer than expected.
Falling so far in the draft and getting barely a whiff of football outside of the preseason would make you think that some spurned high school cheerleader ex-girlfriend must have placed some kind of voodoo curse on the guy. But then again, the guy is collecting 1st round draft pick money...but instead of getting squashed by 300 lbs. defensive linemen, all he has to do is hold a clipboard.
Anyway, this kind of sidetracked from what I originally planned on writing about:
I wonder what it must feel like to be a crappy athlete. Sure, when a guy makes millions, he basically becomes a public figure and if we couldn't lampoon professional athletes...what would be the point of following sports?
Ryan Leaf, Dan Cloutier, Alexander Daigle, Tommy Salo and a litany of other jersey wearing punchlines take a lot of (mostly lighthearted) abuse. But I wonder if these guys just outright avoid sports web sites. Seriously, if I were Leaf I would bug Ted Leonsis to develop a special snarky 1st round draft bust article blocker, so that I could safely surf the Al Gore without stumbling on a site that would make me want to hang myself.
Seriously, if you were Leaf, wouldn't you hate stumbling on things like this from ESPN Page 2:
It just goes to show you that as much as many of us envy sports athletes, there are times when they wish they would blend in to the crowd. Imagine having your worst moments at work frozen in time on YouTube and constantly cited by TV shows and smartass sports blogs.
"Before the introduction of passing windows in the very first "Madden" for the Sega Genesis, playing virtual quarterback was about as intuitive as stepping under center for an actual team while wearing a LEAF #16 jersey. Point-and-pass systems were crude and inaccurate."
And, because I'm a dick
Yahoo's Puck Daddy blog by Greg Wyshynski is holding a poll to nominate the slogan for Chris Pronger's page on hockey-reference.com for the next year.
Sleek's entry, "When authorities take away your right to elbow, don't forget that you have stomping options. -- by Earl Sleek" is in third place with 27% after 1062 votes.
Vote early, and if you are deceased and reside in Chicago, vote often.
[Update] Also watch this highlight video of Sunday's Formula 1 race in Monaco. I turned down an opportunity to travel to Monaco this year to cover the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was worth it.
[EARL EDIT: As you may know, Rudy is off traveling the world, but he has left some Kings post for me to post to help us pass the time. I'm still on my blog break until the cup finals are over, but I'll note that my distractions are coming to a close: I've passed all the story missions in GTA4 and am ready to start Season Three in Battlestar Galactica. In the meantime, here's a PuckToon to prove that I'm still alive and watching hockey. Anyway, here's Rudy...]
78 GP, 33 G, 27 A, 60 pts, -13, 55 PIM, 311 hits
Nicknames: Spike, Sawed Off
Last Season: In terms of overall achievements, Dustin Brown probably had the best year of any player in the NHL not named Alexander Ovechkin. Coming into the year, much was expected of Brown. He had played on L.A.’s top line the previous season and had shown a sign of progress. Still, much of his success could be attributed to the stunning debut of Anze Kopitar and not Brown himself. At the end of that season, however, Kopitar had gotten hurt and Brown had responded by actually improving his play, tallying 11 points in 11 games. Brown continued to progress his play this season, setting a career high in points and leading the league in hits. It wasn’t so much the raw totals that impressed me, though; it was the way he got them.
Brown has always been known as an impressive and devastating hitter. My favorite memory of Dustin thus far has been a game he had against Anaheim. Chris Pronger had the puck and came out of the corner where he was met by Brown, who promptly knocked him flat. Pronger hacked him in the leg (at least he didn’t step on him) and said some unkind words. A few shifts later, Pronger had the puck along the boards and Brown knocked him off the puck, took it into the slot and scored a goal. Brown is a quiet guy* but he definitely has a little bit of asshole in him that helps make him a better player.
*Brown’s wife talked way more than he did on his In My Own Words special. Also, she was kind of a nag to him. You'd think a woman named Nicole Brown would show a little more deference to her L.A-based, professional athlete husband.
This season, though, Brown was able to focus his hitting a little better. The big difference this season is that he didn’t try to make a hit to affect the play; he tried to affect the play by making a hit. It seems like semantics, but there is a difference. Brown didn’t go out of his way to make a hit, but instead made the hit that was available to him. He didn’t have as many giant hits as you’d expect, but he had hits that affected games. That made him a much, much more effective player than he was the previous year.
Another difference in Brown’s game was that he became a much better diver. I’m not talking about the kind of diving that Corey Perry does, where you flop where there is no call. I’m talking about the type of flopping that Shaq does, where he flops because otherwise a penalty would go unnoticed. Brown is so strong* and so balanced that opposing players would be able to hook and hold him with impunity. According to On the Forecheck, Brown ended up drawing 65 penalties this season, tops in the league and directly in front of Crosby, Ovechkin and Datsyuk. His penalty plus/minus was also tops in the league. Of course, Crosby didn't play the whole season, but he's also a whiny bitch so fuck 'im. The ability draw penalties is a very important and underrated part of the game, and it's a part of the game Brown excels at.
So, to recap: Brown led the set career-highs in goals and points, led the league in hits and penalties drawn, signed a 6-year, team-friendly deal, and had his first child. He’ll probably become the captain of this team in a few years and was a major contributor on a young and improving U.S. National team. Nice year.
*Kevin & Bean would classify him as “retard strong.” He should hang out with Eli Manning.
Next Year: Brown will turn 24 next year and continue his development. He’s managed to find a nice balance between getting to the front of the net and creating space for Kopitar and also creating his own play when Kopitar is tied up. What would I like to see Brown work on for next year? I’d like to see him become more of a force in front on the power play. This is just anecdotal evidence, but it seemed to me that the Kings had far fewer tipped goals than other teams we played. If Brown can become a power forward who can also get those garbage goals in front, he’d really open our power play and give Kopitar and Visnovsky more space to create opportunities. Other than that, he just needs to keep getting better. In a season full of negatives, Brown was definitely a positive.
Have a problem finding the puck when watching an NHL game? Don't have HD and you have had three too many Bigfoot Ales from Northern California's finest? Don't understand technical hockey terms like: puck, pass, shoot, and goal? Fan of the Anaheim Ducks?
Then NBC's newly developed puck tracker technology is for you. Created by German engineers, a handy red circle magically follows the puck around the ice and holds your hand during the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins quest for Lord Stanley's Cup.
Condescending, arrogant sarcasm not included.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals made you wonder if the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks switched jerseys with the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins. They were that lifeless and one-sided.
But, to the luck of the NHL and NBC, the first game on NBC was a doozy. I'm going to have to do some drinking to calm my nerves.
And the blogosphere eagerly awaits what Pensblog has to say (clearly, the headline was
a total ripoff more than a little bit inspired by their writings).
Monday, May 26, 2008
- Good stuff from Spector at The Hockey News regarding the off-season for the Dallas Stars. There are a lot of supporting cast players who might be wearing different jerseys next year. The most important re-signs are Trevor Daley and Steve Ott, two glue guys who won't nab any headlines but are important elements of the Stars.
I wouldn't be surprised if this is the end of the line for the lovable Stu Barnes. He missed half of the second round and all of the Red Wings series with concussion-like symptoms and must be wondering if he really wants to put his undersized body through any more abuse.
Mattias Norstrom would be worth re-signing, but it would have to be at the right price.
- The Stars wisely signed Dave Tippett to a three-year contract extension. Tippett's success extends beyond a great playoff run this year, because he kept the Stars right around the top of the Pacific Division even as juggernauts developed in Anaheim and San Jose. Considering that the Stars are long on grit but just about average on scoring talent, his success is indeed impressive.
- One player to watch in the SCF is the Pens' big American power forward Ryan Malone. He's got the size, wheels, grit and finishing ability to fit in well in the Western Conference. I could see him fitting in well with Joe Thornton or on a Kings team that could use a little snarl and size to go along with its promising (but small) young talent. Hell, even the Stars could use him.
Plus he's funny.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The referees in the NHL have never been better. They're professionals, they don't travel with the players, they are judged on every game the officiate, and they have a review system that allows them to check calls whenever they feel it's necessary. And yet, to hear fans tell it, this is the worst refereed playoffs in the history of the NHL. I'm here to say, "Shut up." Nobody cares that your player was called on a high stick in the 2nd period when the replay clearly showed that the opposing player simply snapped his head back. Nobody cares that a photograph revealed 18 hours after the fact clearly caught the puck go an inch over the line, yet the video officials refused to overturn the call because they didn't have clear evidence. Nobody cares. I'm not even going to say that referees should always look to improve and every call should be right, because that's never going to happen. So just shut the fuck up and watch the game.
I think whining in hockey (and in all sports) has increased in the past few years for 2 reasons: video review and the internet. Video review means that people can slow down the action, see the play from 8 different angles, and come to a determination on what really happened. Refs don't have this luxury. Have you ever reffed a game before? It's really hard. Most of the time you're not really focusing on the puck. You're focusing around the puck, watching the stick of the defender while also keeping one eye on the trailers of the play to make sure they're not interfering with one another, while having a third eye on your partner to make sure you're getting the best coverage of the play possible. I'm not amazed refs get calls wrong; I'm amazed they get so many right.
The internet bothers me because it serves as an outlet for many of these whines. Not to get all Buzz Bissinger on you, but people use the internet to vent frustrations they normally would rant to their roommates about, or maybe beat their wives over. Wasn't that a much more pleasant time, mostly because it didn't affect me in any way? Now, I have to listen to Blues fans complain about how the NHL wants the Blackhawks to win, while Chicago fans complain that Detroit is clearly being favored in this game, while Detroit fans are gearing up to whine about how much favor Crosby gets. It's stupid and pathetic and in no way enhances the game.
So, in conclusion, stop whining. There is no NHL conspiracy to get one team to the Stanley Cup Finals (I never understand why people claim this AND claim Bettman is incompetent), and there is no conspiracy to help one team win the Stanley Cup. I'm trying to enjoy watching one of the best NHL playoffs in recent memory but your constant bitching has me more frustrated than Michael J. Fox trying to use a pair of binoculars. It's all luck and no one knows what the hell is going on. So just watch the game, enjoy it, and the next time you feel like ranting about officiating just do us all a favor and eat some rancid meat or something. Thank you.
I'm taking 2 weeks off starting Saturday as I'm off to visit Norway, the land of my ancestors. I plan on getting to the bottom of this whole hockey thing and figure out why we're getting our asses kicked by Finland and Sweden. (Plus, I'll need to get out of the country for a few weeks after that Michael J. Fox joke.) I'm also headed to England, which should be fun; it'll be nice to be the tannest, fittest person on an entire island. I've got a few posts lined up while I'm gone and I'm sure Earl and co. will keep you entertained 'til I get back. Ha det!
I know I've been awfully quiet lately on this blog since the Ducks were eliminated, but I figured that since I had to carry the playoff post load last year, I'd let the "my teams are playing" guys manage the posting this time. It's actually been a nice little break from blogging, which is loosely depicted to the left.
I'm still not quite ready to talk that much about the Ducks, though; there's nothing too pressing that needs to be discussed before the postseason ends, at least. I'm not even that qualified to talk about these Cup Finals. I haven't watch either Pittsburgh or Detroit a lot to begin with, and I was at my baby brother's graduation this past weekend and missed both conference-clinching games.
What's also complicating things for me is a pair of obsessions I've recently developed that are interfering with these playoffs. One of them is GTA4, which I've been playing so much I used it as an inspiration for this week's PuckToon. I've been solidly into the series since GTA3, and I have to say I really like the mission set in this game a lot. It's a good thing, too, since they've taken the fun out of free-rampaging. What's the point in getting six stars if there are no tanks?
If that weren't enough of a drain on my free time, I finally got talked into watching SciFi's Battlestar Galactica, and now I can't shut up about it. I think I spend about five hours a day worrying about the fate of the humans on that show. I've kept up with this latest season's storyline, and have just started to watch Season One, and on each end of the spectrum it's a pretty damn solid production.
So yeah, I'll get to writing about the offseason Ducks soon enough, just as soon as I'm assured that the humans are free of Cylons and Liberty City is free of cops. I'm such a frackin' nerd sometimes it hurts.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
First off, if you haven't heard already, Jeremy Roenick is back for another season with the Sharks. If you go to the Sharks website, they've got a little video of him talking about it. I love JR, but I can't condone the hat that he's wearing. It reminds me of one of those Men On Film guys from In Living Color. "Dollars didn't prevent us from doing our job," the G.M. said. The first question from the crowd had to do with ticket price increases averaging between 7 and 8 percent, and Jamison said that didn't surprise him. "There's an expectation that we will put a quality team on the ice," Jamison said, "and to be brutally honest, that's going to cost us a lot more."
But anyways, there was little news of note from the annual State of the Sharks bitchfest according to those in attendance. I skipped this year's, as it's usually just a bunch of diplomatic bullet-dodging (though Ron Wilson used to get visibly frustrated at the stupidity of some of the questions, and his snarkiness proved to be entertaining).
A few blurbs from the Mercury News seemed to show that either A) GM Doug Wilson and President Greg Jamison weren't briefed on the company line or B) they've got completely different views on their roster.
From Doug Wilson:
Wilson reiterated what he has said in the past, that he has enough money to build a Stanley Cup winner.From Greg Jamison
So the GM says that he has the dollars to put a CUP WINNER on the ice but the President says that they need more money from fans to put a QUALITY TEAM on the ice. Um...ok, well, which is it?
The only real thing to note seems to be the fact that Doug Wilson anticipates a payroll increase of about $8 million and some form of roster change. Sounds great, but when you put together the salary bumps of Patrick Marleau, Milan Michalek, Joe Thornton, and Matt Carle, along with the anticipated raises for Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe, and Christian Ehrhoff, that's your $8 million (give or take) right there. If that number's set in stone, something's gotta give, especially since Wilson's already started negotiating with Brian Campbell's agent this week (they were set to speak this past Monday). I'm guessing Wilson will be dangling Matt Carle at the draft, but I wonder who will take him after two disappointing seasons.
"Dollars didn't prevent us from doing our job," the G.M. said.
The first question from the crowd had to do with ticket price increases averaging between 7 and 8 percent, and Jamison said that didn't surprise him.
"There's an expectation that we will put a quality team on the ice," Jamison said, "and to be brutally honest, that's going to cost us a lot more."
On the front page of ESPN.com, there's a new article about goons and the people who love them. I liked it, but I was a little confused by the top image. Among the "goons" that men love are photos of Bobby Hull, Joe Nieuwendyk, and Jonathan Cheechoo. It's obvious they chose the pictures because 2 of them were bloodied and 1 is missing his teeth, but isn't it a little disingenuous? Both Nieuwendyk and Cheechoo have been in a grand total of 4 fights (2 a piece). I don't know about the number of fights Bobby Hull was in (do I count the ones with his wife?), but the first thing you think of when you think "Bobby Hull" isn't fighting. To show pictures of men who were injured by sticks and pucks to try and give the impression that hockey fighting results in copious amounts of blood and tooth loss (and it can, but not that often), is incredibly misleading.
(There's also a picture of Marty McSorley talking shit to Matt Norstrom, which tripped me out. I thought for a second they were on the same team.)
In other news, Rick Nash has been named to the cover of NHL 2K9. Runner-up? A player who deserved it.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Well, that was decisive. The Red Wings left no doubt about which team deserved to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals tonight, with a brutal 4-1 win over the Stars. If I had to point to one person in this series, it has to be Henrik Zetterberg.
With all the publicity Ovechkin and Crosby get, Zetterberg tends to slip under the radar for casual NHL fans. But he's absolutely one of the best forwards in the NHL. Plus he looks a lot like Jared Leto.
A hearty tip of the cap goes to Stars fans, many of whom sat through what must have been a tough game to watch in order to bid the Stars a fitting adieu. Dallas fans get a lot of guff for being front runners (sometimes deservedly so, although you could say that about any fans, really). And hockey in Dallas is often treated as a joke.
But tonight Stars fans showed a lot of character by sticking around to give Morrow & Co. a salute. Sometimes, fans match the team. Both showed plenty of heart this year.
Sure, it must hurt to get this far and not go all the way, especially for older guys like Modano and Zubov. And Marty Turco plays with the daring of a young man, but he's a lot older than he seems.
But it's hard not to be positive about this team's future. Ribeiro and Morrow developed into one of the best lines in the Western Conference. Stephane Robidas scored the last goal of the Stars season and raised his game substantially. The team's young defense looks like it will ease the inevitable loss of Zubov. And maybe most importantly, from an annoying storline standpoint, Turco shook a ton of supposed monkeys off his back.
Morrow proved the worthiness of his captaincy with Thor-like power.
There's plenty of questions going into the 2008-2009 season. Will Modano retire? Can Ribeiro stay focused and remain in the second or third tier of scoring forwards? Is Phillipe Boucher still alive? And can the Stars manage to sign a finisher for Mr. $5 dollar shake, Brad Richards?
I'll be around to offer puns and observations along the way. Who knows, maybe next season I'll be butchering the English language as part of The Battle of the Pacific? We'll see.
Also, I threw my name in the hat at the Live Blog at the FanHouse today. That Liveblog thing is the cat's pajamas, really. (Sure, I mostly talked about Ray Emery eating bugs and hockey video games, but give me a break the game was over by the 1st period!)
So, this isn't really goodbye. Just see you later...
Still, I don't think Cammalleri should be dismissed for $.50 cents on the dollar. Lest we forget, Cammalleri tallied 80 points last season on a line with Alex Frolov and Derek Armstrong. And, if we're being completely fair, Cammalleri wasn't too far off his career numbers before he got injured (26 points in 34 games). I would think the drop in points can be related to the fact that Cammalleri was now playing on a line with Kopitar and was no longer responsible for carrying the puck into the zone.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
The Stars made like The Undertaker and sat up unexpectedly against the Red Wings (I can almost imagine Ken Hitchcock as Paul Bearer - all you need is an urn and some makeup). So, for the second time in this playoffs, I have decided to break out some lucky charms:
...And the combined might of Dave Tippett and Hitch's 'staches!!
Beat that, Ted Nugent!
Glovezilla Ravages Canada, Nabokov, Kovalchuck, Ovechkin and Semin lead Russia over Canada 5-4 in OT for gold
Glovezilla Evgeni Nabokov made 25 saves, Ilya Kovalchuck and Alexander Semin scored two goals apiece as Russia earned a gold medal in the 2008 World Championships with a 5-4 overtime win over the favored Team Canada. The defending champion Canadian squad wilted under sustained offensive pressure from the Capital Offense line of Ovechkin-Semenov-Federov, and Kovalchuck scored a power play goal 2:42 into extra time to ice the gold medal.
The Russian fans in attendance went beserker as Kovalchuck performed glass pullups after scoring the game tying goal late in the third period, and they did a few repetitions of their own after his game winner in overtime.
"You can never make a sick glove save on a shot not taken" - Aristotle.
[Update] Evgeni Nabokov made an acrobatic stop on Mikko Koivu's point blank shot in the semifinals, video from WCSN.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I just heard John Buccigross on ESPN Radio as I was driving home tonight and I have to say, can we get this man on radio? Maybe it was just the fact that I rarely hear decent hockey conversation on the radio (even a deep playoff run doesn't really make a huge difference in Dallas sports radio), but hearing Bucci artfully pontificate about Sidney Crosby and the attendance issues in Detroit was truly a gift.
This makes me ask the blogosphere: what are the best non-traditional (aka Internet-based/streaming) hockey radio sources? I'd love to hear some silly banter about the NHL, especially from Pittsburgh, Detroit, Philly and (most of all) Canada. Reading is just oh so overrated...
It's good that the Stars won today, but damn if I didn't realize that the game would be on at 1:30 ET. Silly little me, I thought the networks and NHL might develop consistency or predictability in their broadcast schedule. Silly little me.
Honestly, when I slept like a college student today (till frickin' 3 p.m.), I thought I would feel guilty for wasting my day. But instead I feel angry that I missed a spirited showing from the Stars.
Ultimately, it's my fault for missing the game today. But would it be too much to ask that the TV schedules be a little bit less erratic? Last weekend, the games went from NBC in the mid-afternoon to Versus in the normal 7:30 ET time slot. Then it up and changed again.
On the bright side, the Stars are back in the series (or at least earned some respect). It sure would have been a nice thing to see...
Friday, May 16, 2008
You might have heard buzz about Detroit assistant Todd McLellan rumored for a number of head coach positions. Well, his philosophy fits in with what a number of teams want to do, including one particularly squad in San Jose. From the Denver Post: "I've had a chance to coach under some very good mentors," said McLellan, who then alluded to Minnesota general manager Doug Risebrough and coach Jacques Lemaire. "If you look at the Minnesota organization and the number of Stanley Cup rings they've won, and perhaps the type of game they play, that would be considered more of a defensive style. "Then you come to Detroit and see the number of Stanley Cup-winning people around here, and the type of game they play. It's a very good mix, and to steal from both would be something I think a wise coach would do. "I think there's a balance. I really like the way the Detroit Red Wings play. "So I'd like to coach a high-tempo, fast, puck-possession type team."
I'm guessing McLellan's already on Doug Wilson's short list.
"I've had a chance to coach under some very good mentors," said McLellan, who then alluded to Minnesota general manager Doug Risebrough and coach Jacques Lemaire. "If you look at the Minnesota organization and the number of Stanley Cup rings they've won, and perhaps the type of game they play, that would be considered more of a defensive style.
"Then you come to Detroit and see the number of Stanley Cup-winning people around here, and the type of game they play. It's a very good mix, and to steal from both would be something I think a wise coach would do.
"I think there's a balance. I really like the way the Detroit Red Wings play.Coming here as a coach, you hear about it and you're not convinced until you actually see it. You see the way the hockey club plays, the way the puck means so much to them while they have it.
"So I'd like to coach a high-tempo, fast, puck-possession type team."
I spoke briefly with ESPN analyst and former Kings coach Barry Melrose today to see if he was still interested in coaching, if he would be interested in the opening with the San Jose Sharks, and if he thought the lineup in San Jose was more talented than the Detroit Red Wings or Dallas Stars. His answers were yes, yes and yes.
The full post is on Sharkspage here. At the State of the Sharks question and answer session next tuesday, President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Jamison, Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson and Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo will be available to answer questions.
71 GP, 9 G, 22 A, 98 PIM, -19, 144 SOG (I'm assuming 3,204 shots missed)
*Note: you're never going to get a reasoned opinion on Rob Blake, but I'm going to give it my best shot. This will be purely about his ability on the ice, not his character. And I'm not even going to delve into the whole trade deadline thing because it's been done. Let's try to keep it civil.
Rob Blake's season can best be split into 3 stages:
Blake's value is on special teams. He's probably a little to slow at this point to be a valuable 5-on-5 player (Johnson, Visnovsky and Kopitar all averaged more Even Strength TOI last season), but I think Blake can thrive in a role similar to Brad Stuart's. Let Blake get around 13-14 minutes at even-strength and then let him take heavy minutes both on the penalty kill and the power play.
If the Kings could sign Blake to a 1-year deal for around $2.5 million, I would be stoked. I imagine the Kings are going to see a lot more young defensemen on the team for at least a cup of Snapple next season, and Blake is a great locker room presence simply because he's Rob Blake.* Blake does not have to be (and really can't be) the Kings' best defenseman anymore; hopefully, everyone realizes that.
*I mean because he's one of the best defensemen of the turn of the century, not because he has mystical pedagogical techniques. If David Fincher gives you advice on making a movie, it's going to carry more weight than if it came from Uwe Boll.#
#Brian Willsie would be Uwe Boll in this situation.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The Sharks next head coach search will one of the most intriguing stories going into this year's off-season, especially considering the fact that there aren't really a ton of big names in free agency.
I'll leave the SJ bloggers to decide whether the Wilson (non)brothers possessed the shared vision, open communication lines and other intangibles it takes to make a good GM-coach tandem (I assume they thought pretty similarly, but that's just because they share the same last name). It's certainly helpful that Doug Wilson will get to choose his own coach, but it's important to remember that a well-run franchise can still hit a brick wall after making foolish coaching decisions.
As much love as Loophole Lou gets in New Jersey, he obviously lacks the ability to find coaches who can satisfy his considerable ego. His late season firing tendencies show that an ill-advised coaching hire can mean big problems.
I think that's one reason why Dallas and Detroit have maintained such high levels of success. Detroit wisely chose Mike Babcock, easily one of the best coaches in the NHL. And the Stars stood behind Dave Tippett even though people listed him as one of the scapegoats for the Stars' first round exits year after year.
The stability of Tippett and the all-around brilliance of the Red Wings' management should stand out to copy cat teams, rather than their playing styles. Though top-to-bottom competence requires a disciplined, intelligent plan of action.
So don't expect to see that happen with teams like the Panthers or Islanders.
Check out this interesting article, which is actually on the higher profile GM-coach dynamic in the NFL (most hockey GMs are vaguely anonymous by comparison).
One quick aside: Brian Campbell is not worth $6M. It has to be said and I will say it many, many times.
Well, I don't know what to make of it just yet, but apparently Ducks owner Henry Samueli is in a bit of hot water. He was named yesterday in a civil fraud complaint against the Broadcom Corporation, and has subsequently stepped down from his position of chairman.
I don't know what this really means for Samueli or the Ducks going forward, but that didn't stop me from making it (and other Duck legal troubles) from being the subject of today's PuckToon at Fanhouse. Enjoy, and if you are inclined, feel free to discuss Wild Wing's legal qualifications in the comments.
I'd like to preface this carefully: this has been a really, really good playoff year. Aside from Earl Sleek, Emilio Estevez, Chris Pronger's wife and Brian Burke, I think most folks would probably say that this year's playoffs have been way more entertaining than last year's.
That being said, there's been just some outright atrocious decisions made by NHL management/officiating/whatever. It honestly feels at times like hockey is such an outstanding product that it overcomes the idiocy that surrounds it.
The most despicable enterprise in hockey might just be the "makeup call" (no, wait, the most despicable enterprise is Sean Avery*. My mistake).
Holmstrom got away with goalie interference in Game 1 and therefore Detroit was improperly stripped of a goal that might have lowered the broom on the Stars in tonight's game. Is it "fair"? I guess, maybe. It might not take away the Stars win or the slight momentum it developed, but it's got to worry you about their chances in Game 5. Either way, the league's pin-the-tale-on-the-donkey approach to allowing or disallowing goals is getting downright old.
Then again, it could be worse:
It's going to take me a while to get over that one. Seriously, could the universe have picked a better coach to be a victim of such a ridiculous call than Angry John Totorella? Maybe Pat Quinn, but that would only be better because his cheeks would probably become rosy with anger. You owe it to yourself, as a hockey fan, to watch the clip under the "Unbelievable" link. (The Finnish goal scorer's reaction is particularly hilarious)
Honestly, the Stars simply don't have an answer for Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Every single time Zetterberg touches the puck, it feels like something bad is going to happen. And it pretty much does.
It's interesting how quickly the Stars are assuming the exact same stance that the Sharks did (although the Sharks had the extra carrot of a Home Game 7). The Stars have a lot of heart, but I do wonder if they'll simply get destroyed in the next game.
It'd be nice if tonight's win was more than a moral victory, but it's hard to imagine.
Then again, it has been 33 years since the last reverse sweep...
*I swear, I've almost misspelled Sean Avery by calling him Steve Avery at least 10 times this postseason. I guess if the confusion caused the former NY Mets pitcher to get Elisha Cuthbert in the sack he wouldn't complain, but otherwise the association would probably bother him...
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Inside the NHL's Dan Moriarty chats with Anze Kopitar earlier this season prior to a game with the San Jose Sharks. Not a huge amount of substance, but Anze does talk about having enforcer George Parros as a landlord. Video via NHL Network Online.
With the Red Wings and Penguins turning the Semis into a preseason morning skate, there is not much to talk about except for the Sharks new coach. The San Jose Mercury News has 2 separate articles saying that the "perfect" candidate is Pat Burns. Ex-Cop, Stanley Cup Winner, 3 time Jack Adams winner, Ties to Joe Thornton, it all makes sense. With the majority of the team in the prime of their career, it makes no sense for Doug Wilson to bring in a 'young" coach who will take 1-2 years to integrate his system. The only issue is that he is still under contract to NJ till July 1st. Does Doug Wilson want to wait that long to find a coach? Does Burns really want to move West? Those are things that Doug Wilson needs to find out.
The coaching search is not the only issue to resolve. Changing the coach and not the players will show that Ron Wilson was used as a scapegoat for the season. With the cap expected to rise, the Sharks will have plenty of cap space (10 million plus the rise of the cap). Most of that money will go to Brian Campbell if he decides to re-sign. Raises will be expected for restricted free agents Pavelski and Clowe. But that still leaves enough money to sign another scoring forward and some more blueline help.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Well, that was fast. I mean, didn't Doug Wilson say that he was going to do his customary cooling-off period before making any key personnel decisions? Was that all lip service or was that his honest opinion -- and if it was his honest opinion, what made him change his mind?
Whatever the case, Ron Wilson's gone (though as of now, Tim Hunter and Rob Zettler remain). I'd posted my thoughts on the situation on my blog last week, and I haven't particularly changed in that regard -- I'm still thinking that the right situation is a player's coach. That is, a motivator instead of a disciplinarian.
How is this going to affect things? Whoever Doug Wilson hires, it's absolutely imperative that he doesn't turn this speed/skating-based team into a trapping machine a la Minnesota. That means trap-enthusiasts should be out of the question; however, if someone with a history of trapping (such as Paul Maurice) approaches the Sharks with a little bit of sensibility to understand what assets he'll be working with, then that's ok.
I think Doug Wilson's got two things he needs in his new coach. First, he's gotta be a brilliant leader. Leaders don't necessarily have to be buddy-buddy with everyone, but they've got to generate that level of inspiration that forces teams to want to go through the wall for them. Countless players under Ted Nolan talk about him with that kind of reverence, and it's unfortunate that Nolan has another year under his contract with the Islanders. A leader like this not only binds a team together, but inspires them to try to elevate their game -- and when you have sheer talent that doesn't always seem harnessed, tapping into that can be rocket fuel for success.
The second key trait is that he's got to be a brilliant tactician. And that goes far beyond writing down X's and O's on a white board. While I always thought Darryl Sutter was too stubborn for his own good, one of the most brilliant lineup moves I can remember was replacing Jeff Friesen (back when he was good) on the Owen Nolan-Vincent Damphousse line with grinder Dave Lowry. Why did he do that? Because Sutter knew that going against the powerhouse St. Louis Blues, one of the keys to success was getting then-captain Chris Pronger agitated and off his game. Since Pronger was going to be matched against Nolan, Sutter placed Lowry on the with the sole mission of hitting Pronger every chance he got, wearing him down until he started taking dumb penalties.
That sort of adjustment is different from the way Ron Wilson's "If it ain't broke..." mentality. While I understand you should go with something that's working, that simply doesn't always work in a playoff series. Different teams have different specialties and strengths, and if you can't properly adjust to those -- either by proactively shifting lines or changing defensive schemes -- you'll wind up shooting yourself in the foot. That doesn't mean you can't play to your own strengths or stick with your own system; it just means that it's better to be proactive and augment things in anticipation of your opponent rather than reacting to what they throw at you.
Unfortunately, the best person at combining those two traits is the one unemployed guy who probably would be impossible to coax into coming to Silicon Valley and that's Scotty Bowman. After that? Well, if you'll recall my last piece for FoxSports, recent history shows that a long NHL coaching record isn't eactly necessary to find success. We'll see.
Dustin Brown oomfed Jussin Jokinen at the World Championships right as the final horn sounded. It was probably unnecessary and rude and all that stuff, but it wasn't against a King so I don't really care. The real story was after the hit (around the 2:00 minute mark), when Teemu Selanne came out of nowhere to throw his fists in Brown's face. Brown did not take kindly to it and repaid Selanne a little bit later in the clip. Should make next year a little more interesting. This means that the only Pacific team that has not been involved in an international incident so far is Dallas, for obvious reasons... although, I guess Jokinen used to play for them. Screw it, that counts. The Pacific Division: More Harmful to International Relations Than the Assassination of Franz Ferdinand!
To almost nobody's surprise Ron Wilson was relieved of his duties today. I don't necessarily blame him but this had to be done. I don't know if the players had stopped listening to him but a new voice was needed. I have faith in Doug Wilson so he is sure to have some names in mind. I just hope it is not one of the retreads...Burns, Maurice etc. I don't think giving the job to Tim Hunter or Rob Zettler is the answer.
I like Ron Wilson, he knows his hockey and brought high-tech teaching techniques to the Sharks, but there comes a time when the voice in the room needs to be changed. There are stories around that Ron was rough with the players and even called them out in front of the rest of the team. There is one story I read where he wrote Carle, Vlasic and another player's name on the board and bluntly told the rest of the team that those guys were letting everyone else down. If true, no wonder Carle and Vlasic regressed this year. I immediately don't have a successor in mind but I am sure the names will be flying and this will be a well-sought after job with the talent on this team.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Some clever blogger(s) decided that the NHL uses an arbitrary wheel to decide suspensions, but after watching Brenden Morrow and Sidney Crosby get robbed of goals because of context (or cowardice or stupidity), I'm guessing that the Toronto video goal judging looks a lot like this:
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I stumbled upon a really interesting article about the salary cap that I thought I'd pass along. Sharks and Ducks fans might want to root for a couple more 7-game series (although at least one of them looks like it might be done in the blink of an eye).
I was unable to do a pre-game post, but I'm kind of glad because it would have been soaked in too-soon panic. But it's funny that my plan was to try to evoke the ghost of Battlin' Billy Smith. Low and behold, Smith's name was brought up as Turco was going semi-ballistic on Holmstrom and others. (Whichever Red Wing embellished in the second period Turco trip should get the gold medal for diving. He seriously looked like he got shot out of a frickin' cannon.)
Being down 2-0 is pretty terrible, but the Stars should keep the NBA playoffs in mind and remember that they can turn this series around with some clutch home wins. They now know that they can skate with the Wings, so they need to get it done (and for the love of God, get it on the net).
After an entertaining but still heartbreaking game 2 loss, it's time to play a little game of Good News/Bad News.
The Stars powerplay looked pretty good and featured a nice powerplay goal by Robo-das.
The Red Wings powerplay scored another goal, making it four on the series. And their other powerplays looked pretty scary. Basically, when the puck goes to Nicklas Lidstrom, every Stars fan's sphincter gets uncomfortably tight.
Mike Ribeiro was fantastic in this game. He was able to stickhandle past Red Wings defenders all. game. long.
On McRib's two breakaways, Osgood closed the 5 hole faster than a cocktease and made it look easy. And Ribeiro might get suspended on top of all that.
The Stars were able to create plenty of scoring chances in the beginning of the game.
When the Red Wings decided to shut the game down, the Stars were basically buried in the third period.
2-0 is always hard to come back from, but I don't think the Stars are completely dead just yet.
Really Bad News
It was so obvious the Red Wings were going to win this game, the writing of this post began in the middle of the third period.
And I never doubted it. So that can't be good. My pre-series prediction was busted purchasing smack by an undercover cop shortly after the game.
Not sure if this will make anyone feel any better, but maybe you can distract yourself with this Vertigo-inspired music video by my favorite band from the state of California, Faith No More.
Friday, May 09, 2008
So, Joe Quenneville is jobless now. There's already Toronto Maple Leafs rumors.
Now, the Kings aren't anywhere near the glamor (glamour if you're Canadian) job so if he had to choose I'm sure he'd go for the Leafs. But if there's any hesitation from that bizarre conglomeration of cooks in the kitchen, I say the Kings ditch Crawford (or did they already?) and pick up Joe Q. Why?
1. He's a coach who excels at getting the most out of flawed teams, which the Kings most certainly are (especially in net).
2. He's experienced in the Western Conference.
3. Spelling his last name is an arduous task.
4. He would bring the stylish mustache back to the Pacific Division.
Sounds like a winner to me.
Wow, did the Stars get a beating on Thursday night or what? I'll try to squeeze in some suggestions/Hail Marys and maybe even a good luck charm or two tomorrow.
But my prediction's already looking wobbly to say the least.
There's an article in today's OC Register (way to go, Earl) comparing the NHL playoffs and the NBA playoffs. While I could do without all the "NBA players are selfish, NHL players are great" (it comes across as vaguely racist to me), he does bring up a good point about how much more intense the NHL playoffs are than the NBA. You'll see more physical play after one whistle in hockey than you'll see in an entire NBA game. I don't know, I think I like that feeling that at any moment, someone might get punched in the face. There's that line that other sports don't cross that makes them less appealing to me. I'm a barbarian, I guess.
This also reminded me about a soccer match I was watching the other day. Two guys were going for the ball in the corner and one kind of shoved the other to the ground. The guy who got shoved bolted up and got in the other guy's face. There was no one else around, though, so they both kind of looked around after a while as if to say, "Hey, someone break us up." Finally the ref made it over and pulled them apart while they were still jawing. I'm sorry, but I can't respect a sport where guys aren't giving it every last thing they got.
Mike's article earlier is another point: guys don't sit out NHL playoff games because they're in pain. The judgment call isn't if it hurts, it's if they can't physically play. For example, a broken foot? You play because you can still do everything you need to do physically. Basically, the only things you're going to miss games for is if your head or your knees are fucked up. Anything else? You man up and lace up your skates. In contrast, Kobe has been lauded as a warrior because he is playing through an injury to his pinkie. That wouldn't be brought up in hockey because you're expected to play through something like that. That's why hockey is awesome.
Inside the Kings has 2 awesome posts about Kevin Westgarth, the enforcer for the Manchester Monarchs (AHL). He's a Princeton graduate and has long hair... who does that remind me of? The first link is a couple videos from his fights (I recommend the Boulerice fight), and the second is a pretty enlightening interview on the method behind fighting. It's pretty interesting, even if you're not a Kings fan. Here's an excerpt (bolding mine):
Question: So is hockey fighting a science, a skill or a bit of both? Westgarth: I think it is definitely both. There is definitely a lot of technique to it. In a big way it is almost a mindset. It is just something where you have to overcome that fear of being hit. I'm always honored when a younger guy is going to come up and ask me for advice about it. We had some guys come up this year out of college and they asked me for some pointers, and we'd go through some stuff where you are just holding on and working on balance. But honestly the most important thing that anyone can learn is that it doesn't hurt to get hit. That is the biggest thing to get over, because if you get tapped and you get hit you can't freak out. You just have to get through it.
That is pretty awesome. I doubt Westgarth will make the team next year since we have Ivanans locked up for 2 more years, but one of the two could be used as trade bait. Or maybe the Kings can just say, "Fuck it," next year and put Westgarth and Ivanans around Brian Boyle and try to intimidate their way to victory. Either way, it's nice to know we have someone ready to protect our guys if anything happens to Raitis.
Courtesy of Working The Corners:
TO UNDERGO SURGERY:
Devin Setoguchi: Left shoulder, sports hernia.
Mike Grier: Right knee.
Patrick Rissmiller: Sports hernia.
Kyle McLaren: Knee, plus recovery from groin injury.
SCHEDULED FOR MRI:
Brian Campbell: Knee, shoulder.
Craig Rivet: Wrist, knee, elbow.
Patrick Marleau: Shoulder.
Joe Thornton: Right knee (hurt in final playoff game).
Curtis Brown: Left hand.
Christian Ehrhoff: Ankle sprain.
Milan Michalek: Shoulder injury (hurt in final playoff game).
Douglas Murray: Wrist pain.
Jeremy Roenick: Rib cage.
Jonathan Cheechoo: Knee sprain.
Happy 2nd birthday, blog!
I know the unwritten code for hockey bloggers is to avoid unnecessary profanity, but HOLY FUCKING MONKEYSHIT! IT’S BEEN TWO YEARS?!
Hard to believe, right? What started as one of uberblogger James Mirtle's internet pranks has escalated into this collection of assholes?! Amazing.
Well, what can we expect from BoC in its Terrible Twos? If child development is any indication, we’ll probably see an increase in temper tantrums, control-freak tendencies, and aggressive testing of our boundaries.
Frankly, that sounds fantastic. I can’t wait.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Well, while the Stars and Red Wings resume playing hockey tonight (see below for O'Brien's preview), the rest of us have some time to reflect on other things than "Please oh please don't lose tonight!"
Greg Wyshynski, now of Yahoo! Infamy (apparently now he's known as "Puck Daddy"), has put together a “Eulogy” feature to help remember teams that have been eliminated from playoff contention. Instead of having guest bloggers lament their own team's disappointing playoff exit, he instead has solicited rival-team bloggers to help celebrate the passing of the deceased teams. I think it makes for a better read: why focus on the pessimism of playoff elimination when in other corners of the hockey world rival fans are cheering?
So in that light I was selected to help commemorate the passing of the 2007-08 San Jose Sharks. When Greg contacted me before the postseason started, I didn’t realize it would be such a workload: I had to be prepared for a possible Sharks elimination in Game Seven of the first round, and then Games Four, Five, and Six of the second round, and even then the Sharks pushed their demise until quadruple overtime.
So, without further ado, I point you to Eulogy: Remembering the 2007-08 San Jose Sharks, penned by yours truly. Mainly, it’s a silly look at some of the ways that the Sharks tried to copycat tactics from the Ducks’ cup win from last year, and how even those changes couldn’t get the Sharks out of their annual second-round demise. Also, I take a brief look at some of the salary struggles the Sharks will have this coming offseason: how much more will this same Sharks team cost next year? Feel free to discuss in the comments.
But hey, Wyshynski's not all about Shark-bashing at Yahoo!; he's equal-opportunity. For embittered Shark fans (or other Duck-haters), why not enter Greg's caption contest to assign a Stompy-bashing label to Chris Pronger's Hockey-Reference.com player page? I predict that a Red Wing fan wins this, though; it's going to be tough to match the bitterness of a loud-and-proud fanbase that Pronger eliminated two years in a row.
*I'm not dismissing that motivation and heart doesn't play a role in determining a series, but it's pointless to try to predict it. Usually, whoever won the series becomes the team that wanted it more. Has a team ever wanted it more but lost?
Still, there's a chance for the Stars. The Stars excelled at getting the puck on Evgeni Nabokov even though the Sharks were 2nd in the league at limiting shots. Chris Osgood isn't as good as Nabokov, so they should not have trouble scoring. I don't know how their defense is going to be able to handle Datsyuk's line,* but I'm sure Dave Tippett can think of something. Oddly enough, this series may end up being the more high-scoring series than Pittsburgh-Philly. Plus, the Stars still have Marty Turco.
*You know what's crazy about Detroit? Their top line 5-on-5 is Holmstrom-Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Rafalski-Lidstrom. Their top power play unit? Those same 5 guys. Their top crunch-time penalty kill? Same guys, minus Holmstrom. That's pretty awesome.
Is Chris Chelios about to kiss Zetterberg? I bet that happens to Henrik all the time.
Prediction: I think I'm going to have to break James' heart and go with the Red Wings fairly easily... 5 games? Sorry guys, but Sweden>Finland at hockey.
Pittsburgh v. Philadelphia
This series is weird for me because the city of Philadelphia is waaaaaaaaay better than Pittsburgh, but I like Pittsburgh's hockey team waaaaaaaaaaaaay more than Philadelphia's. I guess I'll cheer against Philly because I hate their style of play and Daniel Briere looks like Jack White. Plus Ben Franklin was a overrated philanderer and invented way too much shit. Give someone else a shot, man, don't be greedy. Also, cheesesteaks? What the fuck is that? What else is Philadelphia famous for, heart disease?
Prediction: I'm going to go out on a limb and say that someone in Philadelphia complains about the officiating. Just a little.