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

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween--goalies explain their masks

This was shown on the Edmonton telecast last week. The first part with J.S. Giguere is fairly boring, as he doesn't really address the reason why he wears the worst mask in the league.

However, the real highlight is an out-of-breath, broken-English Ilya Bryzgalov, who does his best to explain the cartoon-logic of his yet-to-be-updated mask design. A lesser Russian might just identify the cartoon characters and move on, but the always-entertaining Ilya likes to elaborate and tell why each character (Disney or not) is appropriate to capture his happy-go-lucky attitude, as well as his desire to be a rich superhero.

Way to go, Bryz, and Happy Halloween, everyone.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ducks winning by committee

Top-of-the-west Ducks? Even I don't believe it.

Anaheim has picked up points in all 12 of its games thus far, winning 7 in regulation and going 2-3 in the shootout. It should be noted that it has been a somewhat soft schedule; 16 of the 21 points thus far have come from opponents who missed the last playoffs.

It of course is a franchise-best start, but I kid you not, it was also a franchise start when the Ducks won their first two games.

But still, check out this scoring balance, which features no forwards among the NHL's top 50 scorers (and includes only one goal off the stick of Teemu Selanne):



























S. Niedermayer-Beauchemin


















So far results have been encouraging, but probably the real test for this team will be how it handles games against San Jose and Dallas, which represent more than 20% of Anaheim's remaining schedule. Can the Ducks maintain their outstanding goaltending (1.94 GAA, .934 Sv%), and keep up this scoring balance?


Though not noted in the above table, offseason signing Shawn Thornton got called up from Portland two games ago to replace Boogeyman victim Todd Fedoruk. How long he stays with the big club remains to be seen, but for now at least, the Battle of the Thorntons is officially on, baby.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ducks get spooked by the Boogeyman

Thanks to Kukla for the link to the video. 3 pieces of advice here:

1. Don't fight the Boogeyman Derek Boogard, as both Shane O'Brien and Todd Fedoruk (YouTubed) learned.
2. When you ignore Advice #1, try not to take an instigator penalty also, as both Duck challengers also put Anaheim shorthanded in their comical attempts to die.
3. (Fantasy advice) Like Boogard, go ahead and drop Fedoruk. This could be Stan Chistov's chance to crack the Anaheim lineup.

At any rate, the Ducks (7-0-3) did continue their “Just like the Sabres, except we suck at shootouts” campaign, coming back again to tie a game in the 3rd period to force another shootout loss. The positive here has to be penalty killing, as the Ducks transformed Minnesota from an upper-echelon PP team (21% overall, 30% at home) to a much more middle-of-the-pack squad (18% overall, 24% at home) in one penalty-filled, penalty-killed game.

It was weird at the end of regulation to see both Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer in the Ducks penalty box, as it prevented coach Randy Carlyle from pulling his "Prestige"-ish late-matchup magic, as demonstrated at the end of this tied game in L.A.

Why play one Scott Niedermayer, when with a little cloning magic, you can put another one out there three seconds later?

Last note: I would like to propose a hockey term that has been used around the Sleek household that might gain popularity. Manny Fernandez, by stopping all three shooters in Anaheim's lineup, got a shutout in the shootout, or as we call it, a "shoutout".

Friday, October 27, 2006

In Kazakhstan, we say...

What do you think Borat would say if he had a conversation with fellow Kazakhstan native Evgeni Nabokov?

Nabokov: "I can't believe I still have to share the crease with Vesa Toskala."

Borat: "In Kazakhstan, we only have one number one goalie. The backup goalie is sold to the so-called gypsies for trading the candies during the professional sports match."

Nabokov: "Vesa is a nice person, but I wish he wouldn't steal my job."

Borat: "The goal protector who steals jobs shall be ground into mush and fed into the anus of a cow."

Nabokov: "Why is my defense letting the other forwards get tips and screens? They should play better! Especially Josh Gorges!"

Borat: "In Kazakhstan, our defense on the line of blue carries hand grenades to prevent the other team from tipping the cylindrical ball of rubber into our net. "

Nabokov: "At least I have a huge contract from the Sharks. Maybe they will trade me to the Bruins."

Borat: "Yes, is good to have many gold coins for eating the head of shark with friends. We say in Kazakhstan, where the weather is cold, the fishing is not so good, to eat the gold coins from the mouth of a shark is a fine delicacy, only better than being polished and having sexy time with the many virgin daughters of wild gypsy women."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Preaching to the Choir

Reading the always-entertaining American Hockey Fan Blog I was reminded of just how tired I am of the lack of NHL highlights, especially on ESPN.

Look, I know that ESPN loves to piss on hockey. They love to make jokes about obscurity, and why wouldn't they? The NHL is often the opposite of ESPN: it makes little sound about things that everyone should see, while ESPN makes a lot of noise about games that are bland and stories that are blown out of proportion.

Fine, DON'T ever lead Sportscenter with hockey. I can understand that. But one request: if you're going to have a Sports Ticker, can you at least get NHL scores up there once EVERY TWO COMMERCIAL BREAKS? I know, I know, there's the Internet, but what about people with shabby access? Do I have to go to a fuckin' computer lab every time I want to know if the Kings just lost or got trampled?

Anyway, after venting a bit, I have a half-baked idea that would be beautiful but undeniably impossible. The NHL needs to acknowledge the greatness that is YouTube, or something of its ilk.

Since they're too cheap/shortsighted/lazy/stupid to actually produce an NHL 2Night-lite, why not let the teeming blogosphere/YouTube savants make their own low-budget wrapup shows?

I'm not going to act like I know how this would actually work logistically, but shit, if YouTube was big enough when I wasn't painfully employed, I'd be all over that shit. The league could provide rudimentary highlight clips for the public on NHL.com - like ESPN Motion or something. I could wear the same suit every night and barely comb my hair, spout Berman-sque nicknames (Todd "The Uzi" Bertuzzi...Ha..Ha..haha...fuck you) and have a grand old time. And I imagine at least 5 people (family included) would also be entertained.

Hell, to fill in the inane wrapup show editorializing gap, I can even rush to judgments and say that without a doubt, the Thrashers and Sabres will meet in the Eastern Conference Finals...Forsberg's done for good...Drury will win the Richard trophy...Toskala-Nabokov should be awarded a siamese Vezina...whatever.

OK, so maybe this is actually a dumb idea. But this would all be solved if the NHL/Versus/some opportunistic American media outlet made a nightly wrapup show, like American Hockey Fan and many others are clamoring for.

Please? Pleeeease? Can the NHL sort of listen to the fans sooner, rather than their vaunted "Wait 'Til Next Year if We Do It At All" marketing strategy?

Fantasy Hockey Tips: Some of the best info available

Despite the fact that the response was, well, not-so ecstatic, I've decided to give it a go and provide a few priceless nuggets of fantasy hockey knowledge for you.

In case you were wondering, I'm still quite BoC-heavy, with the San Jose goalie platoon, Mark Bell for the Sharks and Selanne, Niedermayer (Scott) from the Ducks.

Anyway, as a first post, I thought I'd share some of my "secrets." By secrets I mean some of the sites/features I go to when I have a fantasy waiver wire or trade conundrum. This might not necessarily be the most comprehensive list available ... in fact, feel free to leave some of your favorites in the comments and this post can keep rearing its ugly but helpful head.

Great feature: SLAM! Sports' Chris Nichols


For the first month of the season, I went back to the way it was in the bad old days: I made panic moves without a voice of reason. What, like you expect me to trust OTHER TEAM OWNERS?

Thankfully, Nichols is back and he's here to answer (pretty much) all of your fantasy hockey questions. Brevity is the key, as you only get 500 letters (including spaces, so paragraph breaks be damned!). Still, this guy answers just about every question you can think of. While a lot of fantasy hockey writers will answer one question or five questions in a mailbag format, I genuinely cannot remember Nicholls NOT answering one of my inane questions.

Plus, according to his mini-bio, he's currently residing in Southern California. Awesome.

Great feature: Yahoo's Matt Romig's "NHL Skinny"


If you're in Yahoo! leagues, you probably already know about this feature. At least, I hope. There are definitely times in my league where I say: "God, I hope all of the league's owners are too busy talking about designer handbags to read these little breakdowns."

It's a nice thing because it's a good read, the "Goalie Hot Seat" is FANTASTIC, and it has a little bit of everything for overworked fantasy poolies.

Great site: FOXSPORTS/ROTOWORLD/Brian Rosenbaum

Link for Rotoworld

At first, I was foolish enough to think that Foxsports.com deserved all the credit for their (suprisingly) effective fantasy hockey coverage. So naturally, I read a little deeper and realized that their content comes from Rotoworld.com. It has great features, including it's waiver wire that gives letter grades for hot topic-waiver pickups. Not only does it say "Possible Pickup A" is good, it gives you context into whether or not "PP A" is better than "PP B."

I also love the week ahead, which gives you a great resource to plan your week, especially if you have a limit on starts per position (a headache I've gladly avoided).

Brian Rosenbaum seems to be responsible for some of the best stuff. With Rotoworld, there's certain features that you have to pay for. That goes for a lot of these resources - only pay if you WANT to.

Great site: Hockey Informer


When I used to write weekly Injury Reports for Fantasyhockey.com, Hockey Informer was one of my five favorite sources for information.

But beyond injury reports, this site is the bible for goalie starting questions. If you have three goalies (possibly) playing on one night and only two goalie slots, this will help you know which goalies might be starting.

It's also a very nice resource for something even more important: the heartbeat of which goalie will ultimately keep the starting job. Hockey Informer takes a bunch of newspaper previews/reports and gives you a one-stop source for that consistently annoying question. Even if you have a goalie platoon like I do, it still helps – why waste your two goalie spots when only one will start?

Naturally, it's not 100 percent accurate, but it's more than 90. That's a whole lot better than throwing a dart at a trading card, or whatever you normally do to decide which goalie to start.

Other sites I might write more about later
ESPN.com - damn Insider straight to hell, but Tristan Cockroft is good. Even if I think that's not his real name.
Rotowire.com - great site, too much exclusive stuff though.

More to come soon...

Ducks Gameday-Oilers

Of course this is a tribute post to Battle of Alberta, where Sacamano, Grabia, and sometimes Cosh make an overblown hoo-ha of all things Edmonton, especially early-regular-season power plays. I’ll try not to get too irritating, lest they dislocate their shoulders in an effort to punch me.

  • This is the first game between the teams since last May, when the Oil eliminated the Mighty from the Ducks in Anaheim while I drank my wallet’s weight in beer. Looking back on my early posts back then, I am inspired by this resulting post title: “I didn’t say Ducks in seven; I said Ducks in ’07!!!” Comic tragedy.

    I only bring it up since either the Detroit Tigers or the St. Louis Cardinals will be losing soon, and after that series ends this one-liner won’t be good for another 100 years. Use it now while you still can!

  • Of course a lot of the focus tonight will be on Chris Pronger, Edmonton’s version of Paul Kariya, and rightly so. Pronger has not played against the Edmonton Oilers since March 30, 2004, posting an assist on the game’s only goal. However, bear in mind that this will be the first time Petr Sykora plays against the Anaheim Ducks since March 8, 2002, and the first time ever for Joffrey Lupul.

  • The Oilers’ “defense” will probably be putting a lot of pressure on Teemu Selanne tonight also, but the Finnish Flash has been sputtering anyway. He’s got one goal this year (493 career goals), and has been limited to one assist over the past five games. Against the Red Wings, he put a beauty backhand past Hasek only to find out that the net was ever-so-slightly off its moorings. Against the Kings, for the first time in over a year, he was held shotless (though he did score in the shootout).

  • In fact, no Duck is really on any point streak, and even though the team boasts a powerful 24.4% PP percentage, it hasn’t scored a PPG in the last two games (0 for 5). Defense, though, has been pretty spectacular, thanks to player-of-the-week J.S. Giguere.

  • If you don't regularly watch the Ducks, pay attention to the Sammy Pahlsson line, with Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen. I would have given this line all three stars in the victory over Minnesota, as the Slovaks spent all their ice time in their own zone trying to retrieve the puck. I think Marian Gaborik might have pulled his groin trying to play defense.

  • Edmonton thus far is 1-2 on the road, losing in Calgary and Vancouver, winning in Denver, all without surrendering a PP goal. Last year the Oilers led the league by going to OT in 32% of its regular season games, but this year’s Oilers have yet to play an OT game.

    Maybe it’s Pronger. Ducks have been to OT in 3 of their first 8 games (38%).

  • Did you know? In the five games of the WCF, Anaheim outshot Edmonton a combined 183-121. And that was with Pronger on the other side. We’ll see how today's squads compare, though. One thing I know about Sykora and Lupul, they shoot a lot. Both goalies (I’d assume Giguere and Pop-o-Mask Roloson) should expect a fair amount of rubber.

  • The Ducks and Oilers are somewhat cruising, both having won 6 of their first 8 games. A loss tonight won’t set anybody back too much, so it’s pretty much a pride game, and that should be pretty fun.

  • Prediction: 7-3 Anaheim. Selanne gets all seven to join the 500-goal-club, and everyone wins free ketchup. Pronger allegedly impregnates beat reporter Alice Hemsky.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sharks missing out on international love

Jeez, Technorati just won't leave us alone.

First we find out that there's a Ducks blog from Brazil (in Portuguese, no less), and now there's a Kings blog from Poland (this time in English, though).

But hey, at least there's Bart, musing about the Sharks from Riverside, CA.

C'mon, SJ-loving world. Isn't there a Cheechoo fan in Tokyo or something?

[Update from PJ] Check out Pess2k for Sharks/A's blogging in Japanese, and nhlkorea.net for a good Korean NHL hockey website. There is also a Czech Republic Sharks website with a nice design I don't have a link for at the moment.

[Update from Sleek] Un-fucking-believable. I can't believe you came through on that one, PJ.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Stars, Sharks, and Ducks, Oh My!

Well, this is pretty much how it’s starting, three teams off to ridiculous starts, and two others to varying degrees falling behind.











































There are only 5 combined games involving Dallas, San Jose, and Anaheim where these teams didn't come out with two points, and 2 of those 5 instances were when Anaheim hosted Dallas and when San Jose hosted Dallas.

I should note that Anaheim has enjoyed a very easy travel schedule thus far, having made but one trip to Phoenix and one trip to Los Angeles.

Speaking of which, yesterday the Kings got an early 2-0 lead on the visiting Ducks, breaking two early-season streaks. Up to that game, Anaheim had scored first in every game, and had yet to surrender a first period goal.

However, Anaheim's key streak was maintained: points. For the third time in three tries this season, Anaheim rallied from two goals down to force a shootout.

Except this time, Anaheim won it. Yee ha.

Next up, whiny Edmonton. Storied Edmonton. Cool, Calculated, Lusty, Narrative, Irreverent Edmonton.

This may be a team getting wins purely on the strength of its blogosphere.

(Bonus: The Ducks don’t even have to go anywhere; another game at Honda Center.)

(Double Bonus: This time Pronger won’t have to apologize for knocking Smyth’s teeth out.)

The Sharks are NOT trading for Glen Murray

Ok folks, ignore the moronic Boston media (and any fraudulent rumor frauds spreading this) -- Nabokov for Glen Murray will NOT happen. Why in the world would the Sharks trade for a struggling top-line forward? Sure, Murray had great chemistry with Joe Thornton, but in 3/4 of a season, Jonathon Cheechoo had more goals than Murray did in his best season with Joe Thornton. And where would you put Murray? You're not going to pay several million for him to be on the third line. You're not going to take Cheechoo off the Thornton line. You're not going to break up the Marleau unit. There's no space for someone making that much money on a team that's this young and this fast and this talented on the top-two lines.

Another thing -- why would the Sharks trade for a forward when they obviously need a veteran defenseman? Right now, the Boston media is just throwing ideas out there because they make sense in a half-assed kind of way:

"Who do you think would trade for Murray, Bob?"
"I don't know, Jim. What about the Sharks? They like to trade with the Bruins."
"Good point Bob! And Glen Murray is friends with Joe Thornton!"
"That's it, Jim! And they want to trade Nabokov!"
"We've got it! Murray for Nabokov! Print it and send it to all the moron rumor frauds of the NHL!"

The ONLY way the Sharks get Glen Murray is if they turn him around immediately in a three-way deal. Remember, Doug Wilson wants to keep the team young and fast. Murray's not going to replace any of the top six forwards under that philosophy.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Attendance issues in Southern California

Gary says I shouldn’t be writing about this, so of course I will.

Home Game Announced Attendance Anaheim:
G1 vs. Los Angeles: 17,174 (100%) (Fri 7 pm)
G2 vs. St. Louis: 13,889 (81%) (Mon 7 pm)
G3 vs. NY Islanders: 12,394 (72%) (Wed 7 pm)
G4 vs. Dallas: 15,269 (89%) (Sun 5 pm)
G5 vs. Detroit: 14,767 (86%) (Wed 7 pm)
G6 vs. Minnesota: 13,430 (78%) (Fri 7 pm)

Home Game Announced Attendance Los Angeles:
G1 vs. St. Louis: 18,118 (100%) (Sat 7:30 pm)
G2 vs. NY Islanders: 14,394 (79%) (Tue 7:30 pm)
G3 vs. Dallas: 14,167 (78%) (Thu 7:30 pm)
G4 vs. Dallas: 17,052 (94%) (Sat 7:30 pm)
G5 vs. Detroit: 17,417 (96%) (Mon 7:30 pm)
G6 vs. Minnesota: 14,617 (81%) (Wed 7:30 pm)

One disclaimer, Anaheim’s moving its start times to 7 pm is traffic murder, especially for a sucker like me who decides to live and work in L.A. Plus I’m really fond of my couch and my DVR.

Two options for the comments:
(a) Are we a bad market for NHL hockey? (Screw you, SoCal!)
(b) Are we a savvy market for recognizing the declining entertainment value of attending an NHL game at today’s prices? (Screw you, Gary!)

Feel free to offer both, if you’re grumpy enough.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Anyone want to predict Minnesota’s record after this weekend?

Hmph. The 6-0-0 vaunted offense-style Minny Wild are in Anaheim (4-0-2) tonight and in San Jose (6-1-0) tomorrow night. Now I’m not going to go off and say that the Wild hasn’t been a good team this young season, but there’s a lot of Malkinesque hype going for this squad:

  • Yeah, they’ve won their first six games, but only twice have they been able to win in regulation. 2 OT wins and 2 SO wins do well to inflate a team’s record.
  • Anaheim and San Jose, on the other hand, each have only twice NOT been able to win in regulation.
  • Yeah, they’ve got a PP clicking at 27.8%, but you should consider that a large part of this was that they went 5-for-8 against a “wait, the season has started?” Nashville squad, who started the season by killing 3 of their first 10 penalties.
  • Anaheim (27.8%) and San Jose (26.9%) are right there with them, at any rate.
  • Yeah, they’ve got a perfect road record, but that was only a 2-1 OT win in L.A.
  • Anaheim and San Jose have a combined home record of 7-0-2, outscoring opponents 31-16.
  • Yeah, they did take 6 of 8 games against the Ducks and Sharks last year (including 2 shootouts).
  • Um, not much I can say against this, except that the Sharks and Ducks took both decisions after the Olympic break.
Hey, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Wild, though. It was very nice of them to advance to the 2003 WC Finals and score exactly one goal over those four games.

J.S. Giguere 2003 WCF: 4-0, 0.22 GAA, .992 S%, 122 saves on 123 shots, 3 shutouts.
At any rate, some high-profile games coming today and tomorrow. Though all three squads have started with fairly easy schedules, the numbers look good: 3 teams, 2 games, 1 regulation loss.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Referees beat the Red Wings in Anaheim

Ducks 4, Red Wings 1

Somebody tell these kids to respect their elders. Led by rookie Shane O’Brien’s Gordie Howe hat trick (including the game winner), the Ducks got goals from two 21-year-old sophomores, one 23-year-old rookie, and a 27-year-old veteran named Kunitz.

Though it is always sweet beating the winged wheel, the real story of this game unfortunately was the officiating on both ends of the rink, as terrific as I’ve ever seen. There were two boarding calls that hardly involved the boards at all, an interference call immediately after touching the puck, a roughing call with minimal contact, and quite a few hooks and trips that really were terrible calls.

Fortunately for the Ducks, their special teams were good (and fortunate), while Detroit fell to the other end of the spectrum. Actually, penalty killing was really good on both ends of the rink, but the Ducks got enough chances and bounces to put in their pucks.

This is not to say that our victory was undeserved—far from it. I think the Ducks were really on top of their forecheck last night and Detroit hardly looked dangerous, but overall, I would have been much happier had there been zero refs last night instead of two.

Of the 19 goals the Ducks have scored thus far this season, 10 have been on the PP and another has been shorthanded. That’s’ 58% of Duck goals on special teams, so maybe I should get a little more appreciative of phantom refereeing.


Dallas, San Jose, and Anaheim all have 10 points through their first six games. All have decent obstacles to adding to that, however. The Sharks host the Red Wings tonight, the Ducks get the 6-0 Wild and the Stars host the Hot Hawks, both on Friday.

The Ducks have scored first in all six games they have played thus far, and also have the league’s best power play differential at this point (10 GF, 0 GA).

I was going to title this post, “Take that, Michisota!”, but the Kings (for the 4th home game in a row) failed to make their one-goal-per-game stand up against Minnesota. Rob Blake hasn’t scored a point for the Kings since February 14, 2001. Only Wade Redden is being paid more this year to be scoreless from the blueline.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Exclusive Battle of California Sharks vs Stars photos from Tuesday night

Exclusive Battle of California Sharks vs Stars photos from Tuesday night. More on the game here.

Top regular season teams, calendar year 2006

With the Sharks and Stars starting the season with lofty 5-1 records, the Ducks will need two points tonight against the Red Wings to keep pace with the Pacific Division leaders.

And as much as I like bashing Detroit, you gotta hand it to them, they are a regular season monster, weak Central Division or not. Here is a listing of the best regular-season records (.600 and above) since January 1, 2006:










New Jersey














San Jose



































Ever since last year, when the NHL adopted its division-heavy schedule, there’s been a lot of talk about “What’s the toughest division in hockey?” Frankly, I’m not that concerned about it; I think it’s generally a mechanism to make fans feel better about where their team sits in the overall standings.

However, if you were to make that judgment, what would it be based on?
a) The best team from the division (a Central argument)?
b) The worst team from the division (a Northwest argument)?
c) The most dominant teams (a Pacific argument)?

Let’s hear it, people: what is the toughest division in hockey and why?

Everybody hates/loves Evgeni

I love it when a plan comes together. I was putting together a post about how everybody in Sharkdom seems to hate Evgeni Nabokov right now, and then he pulled yesterday's awesome performance out of his ass. Maybe I consider ranting about Josh Gorges too and he'll turn into the second coming of Brian Leetch.

It's funny how quickly the Sharks fans have turned on Nabby. If you go to the store at the Tank, no Nabokov merchandise is there, it's all Toskala stuff. The weird thing is I didn't see that many Toskala jerseys around this season. I think people are gunshy with buying one because he might be traded.

For most of last season and this season, when Nabokov was announced as the starter, there'd be a healthy chorus of boos. That can never feel good when you're a home player, but it's got to feel worse considering that Nabokov's carried the load for over five years now.

Well, how quickly things turn around. After the first breakaway stop yesterday, some fans tried to start the old "Nab-By!" chant and at least in my section, people were trying to boo to counteract that. But by the end of the night -- especially after the sliding pad stop -- everyone was firmly in Nabokov's corner.

This was the total opposite of last season. He had his angles, he had his rebounds controlled for the most part, and he looked extremely quick. Nabokov was quick to blame last season on a variety of injuries and likes to point to his stellar Olympic performance; after two shutouts and one game which had its share of freaky deflection goals, I'm ready to believe once again.

All's I know is that both Nabokov and Toskala's trade value have to be going up, especially with all of the shenanigans in Boston, Philly, and Ottawa. I hate to use a stock quote from Doug Wilson, but it really is a good problem to have.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rocket Ride

Not exactly California-related, except for consistently torching the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks, but here is my first attempt at video editing. A Pavel Bure highlight video.

Waiting for Sleek to turn his artistic powers towards video.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sucking at shootouts: Perspectives from two continents

Ducks lost again yesterday to the shootout-specialist Dallas Stars, Anaheim's second straight SOL. I guess if there’s a bright side, it’s that in each of the last two games the Ducks rallied back from a 2-goal deficit to force OT and a shootout. Also, with the free “loser points”, the Ducks kept pace with the Sharks (8 points through the first 5 games).

Really, if there’s one area where the BoC is really L.A.-dominated, it is in shootouts. Shootout records since the start of last year:

L.A. W-L: 6-1, GF: 10-20 (50%), GA: 3-21 (14%)
Ana W-L: 3-9, GF: 10-40 (25%), GA: 16-39 (41%)
S.J. W-L: 1-7, GF: 7-29 (24%), GA: 14-29 (48%)
I’m not sure that it’s all bad being a terrible shootout squad. Anaheim and San Jose have both lost only 3 points in the standings (measured from a .500 shootout team) over this year-plus stretch, and our horrid shootout record really saves me the trouble of getting my hopes up before the shootout starts. Still, it is a desperate situation if Carlyle is throwing Sammy Pahlsson (pictured) in the 3-man lineup.

But why take my word for it? I haven’t even watched the DVR version of yesterday’s game yet. Instead, here’s a good recap of the shootout (I think) from a new Ducks blog (I think) from Brazil (I think): In Thin Ice.

"Ironicamente, Giguere esteve na meta dos Ducks em todos os shootouts disputados até hoje pela franquia. Infelizmente, para os Ducks, ele não é bom neles. Pior ainda para o Anaheim (melhor para os Stars), Marty Turco é... e muito!

O melhor lance da partida na minha opinião foi justamente no shootout. O 360º do garoto Ryan Shannon e a posterior defesa de Turco. Absolutamente fantástico. Para o torcedor dos Patos essa valeu o jogo, apesar da derrota. Para o torcedor dos Stars, essa valeu a vitória."
Yeah, what he said (I think).

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sharks losing in Edmonton? Isn’t that how this blog got started?

Well, I’ll hand it to Mr. Chen. It takes a lot of nerve to throw a taunt Anaheim’s way the day his Sharks play in an Edmonton arena that quite frankly, hadn’t been too kind to them last spring.

So I figured, rather than (cough)Ryan(cough)Smyth(cough) comment about this latest Shark loss, why not just reopen some wounds?

Remember back at the start of Round 2 last playoffs when the first-ever BoC postseason matchup seemed so in-the-bag? Both the Sharks and the Ducks had taken the first two home games against the Oilers and Avalanche, respectively, and were headed on the road to close out the deal.

Well, read the history books, kids. Two games later, I posted (drumroll) the first ever BoC cartoon. The shark covered in oil could be a little better-drawn, but I still stand by the taunt.

Meanwhile, back in California…

So because a California team ruined the Battle of Alberta,it's suddenly OK for an Alberta team to ruin the Battle of California?

Time to respond, Sharks. Don't get all King-y on us.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Kathy Lee...you're my sexual fantasy (hockey player)

After a response from Finny, I thought I'd throw out a little question: would anyone want mayhaps a weekly fantasy hockey post?

Granted, I'm not saying that I'm THE expert or anything like that. At the same time, with my current job, my Kings viewership will be mainly limited to: Versus appearances and Dallas Stars games. So, in order for me to write bad jokes and entertain the masses, I think that fantasy hockey advice would be the best route until ... oh, mid December or so.

Credentials, you ask? Well, I did write for fantasyhockey.com last year (I wrote LA Kings reports and a weekly "IR" report). I also reached an unfathomable level of fantasy hockey dominance when my team (Team Pants) was #1 for a full year in the last season before the lockout.

I should have won last year, if not for the dual shutout fluke that was Crystal ball Huet. My team included: Cheechoo, Heatley, Spezza, Gomez, Lundqvist, Elias, Eric Staal and Rob Blake to name a few.

Still not convinced? Here's my fantasy hockey team, pick-by-pick:

7. I. Kovalchuk
14. E. Staal
27. H. Lundqvist
34. S. Niedermayer
47. Z. Chara
54. V. Toskala
67. T. Selanne
74. S. Gomez
87. K. Tkachuk
94. C. Stillman (my dumbass realized he was injured, so consider this pick Ray Whitney. No honor in this draft. Sheesh.)
107. C. Drury
114. N. Zherdev
127. M. Hejduk
134. J. Bouwmeester
147. I. Bryzgalov
154. B. Seabrook (dropped for Henrik Sedin)

Still not convinced? Then ask someone else, you assholes. Anyway, I'll start next week if the feedback is positive...

Ducks LOSE (kinda)

Who stands tall in the Battle of California?

Sharks beat the Islanders 2-0
Kings beat the Islanders 4-2
Ducks LOSE to the Islanders 5-4 (yeah, yeah, it's a shootout, but I'm trying to talk shit here) -- also with Mike "14 years less on my contract than Rick" Dunham in net!

So much for Anaheim ruling the west! All hail the non-Pronger/Niedermayer teams from California!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Belated Memories of Game One

Sorry I haven’t reported in with my at-the-game antics from last Friday’s BoC-inaugural Kings-Ducks matchup, but I was pretty drunk while at the game, and was cut off from my computer for the weekend.

At any rate, my three highlights from the game (aside from anything really on the ice) were:

1. Meeting Girl with a puck after the game and impressing her with my slurred speech and general tallness

Now I got it easy sitting up front three games a year and yelling at players and all, but she’s a real dedicated Duck fan-blogger. If I’m not mistaken, she was in the very last row of Honda Center Friday night yelling at passing planes. In fact, stop reading my site and go see how a real fan feels.

She could not, however, produce an actual puck upon request. She had good enough excuses (“It’s in my purse, which is in the car”), but I’ve still got my doubts as to the validity of her blogger name.

Then again, my name’s not really Earl Sleek, so I guess I’m fucking bullshit (see below).

2. Sitting one row back and a few seats over from baseball scandal legend Mark McGwire.

I’m very bad with sports that don’t rhyme with “bockey”, but even I know the Big Mac when I see him (not to be confused with Andy Mac). As my photo-shooting friend Damndaze learned during an intermission “chat”, Big Mac was in the house to support his St. Louis buddy Chris Pronger, and to sip his beer and enjoy the strange ice-sport before his eyes.

Hey, maybe the guy is a hockey fan. He never really seemed distracted or disinterested, but I strongly suggest his front-row presence and his Pronger jersey had more to do with a personal invitation than, say, an interest in the sport or the team.

I even got in on a shot with him, though (mostly because it’s a bad shot and I've still got a day job) I’m maintaining Eklund-level anonymity at this point.

So that was cool, but I’m stalling. For me, these things paled in comparison to…

3. Teemu shocks us all with his dirty diving mouth

Now I didn’t really see the play very well where he got called, but once we heard it was a diving call, we naturally tried to cheer up our good buddy Teemu. “Baloney call!”, “No way, ref!”, and things like that.

But then Teemu (who I think wasn’t drinking) decided to take it up a notch.

I shit you not. God’s honest truth. E5. Not under his breath, either; he belted it.

Don’t get me wrong. I see plenty of swearing in the box, and I’ve been admonished by security about controlling my own beer-inspired tongue, but I've never heard a dirty peep from Teemu. Teemu's a nun with a wicked wrist shot.

Here’s a list of things I would expect to say “fucking bullshit” before Teemu would: a newborn baby, an unwatered plant, a passage in the bible, a freshly-lit cigarette.

You get the idea. We were fucking floored.

Our little Teemu is now an adult. Welcome to the twenty-first motherfucking century.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hitchcock's horror

After stewing over the fact that my No. 1 fantasy hockey goalie Henrik Lundqvist let in 4 goals in 2 periods against Pure Evil (the Flyers), I noticed something even more horrifying during the Versus intermission show:

Ken Hitchcock shaved his moustache!

I now believe that Hitchcock's moustache is Groundhog Day-ish: bad things are in the wind, folks. Goal scoring is down. Henrik Sedin, a flippant waiver pick, has four times the points of my first fantasy pick, Ilya Kovalchuk. North Korea apparently is going to blow up all of our major markets. Things, folks, are not looking good.

Please, Ken, we need you. Grow back your moustache. Don't be selfish. Restore order to the universe. (And make sure that the Flyers remain Cup-less since Bobby Clarke was an asshole player, not GM, if you don't mind...)

Heckling guide - lite

I'm working on a much bigger heckling guide that should come out (relatively) soon. But for now, whet your appetites with the one I geared toward Dallas fans (sort of) in The North Texas Daily. It appeared in the October 4th edition, if you're wondering.

Note: Because of space limitations, teams including the Kings were taken out. In the full-on Heckling Guide, expect "Full House" jokes aplenty. Or at least one.

NHL heckling guide

Since the baseball playoffs started last night, people might miss the flowing mullet sneaking past the radar. The NHL is back in action tonight after a surprising comeback last season.

You don't have to be a hockey expert to enjoy a Stars game - after all, it is about a 45-minute drive and nosebleed tickets often go for around $10 a piece. This guide can help you heckle several teams coming to Dallas this season.
For teams that come more than once, their first appearance is listed in parentheses.

New Jersey Devils (Saturday)
The Devils and Stars play each other in the Stars' home opener, so the atmosphere should be close to playoff-level. And considering the fact that the Stars never make it past the second round anymore, you might want to breathe it in for as long as you can.

Vancouver Canucks (Oct. 23)
Last year, the Canucks were more fun to heckle. Not only did the team trade outright villain Todd Bertuzzi this summer, it also fired coach Marc Crawford, owner of one of the funniest haircuts in the NHL. Double bummer.

Detroit Red Wings (Oct. 27)
Do you hate old people? Then bring a walker to the AAC when the Red Wings come to town and heckle 44-year-old defenseman Chris Chelios.

St. Louis Blues (Nov. 1)
Keith Tkachuk made headlines last year when he came to training camp well overweight. The posters and jokes just write themselves, but if you need a hint, call him "Ka-chunk."

Nashville Predators (Nov. 22)
Many fans will remember former Star Jason Arnott for getting thrown out of a 2006 game against the Avalanche with a face full of blood.

Minnesota Wild (Dec. 2)
Jacques Lemaire's wicked comb over used to be the only thing interesting about this team. It beefed up its offense, so now it might be worth watching. Not to take anything away from Lemaire's comb over.

San Jose Sharks (Dec. 4)
Joe Thornton is the NHL's version of Peyton Manning. It's a guilty pleasure to watch him crumble under pressure in the playoffs.

Phoenix Coyotes (Dec. 6)
The Coyotes are the latest home of perennial loudmouth Jeremy Roenick, infamous in the Dallas area for injuring Modano and then promptly getting his jaw broken by former Star Derian Hatcher.

New York Rangers (Dec. 14)
If you have a mullet wig, put it on when the Rangers come to town. The team's biggest star, Jaromir Jagr, once sported one of the most legendary mullets in the history of the NHL.

Anaheim Ducks (Jan. 11)
The Ducks are giving hockey fans everywhere a reason to snicker, and this time around, it's not because of Emilio Estevez jokes. Chris Pronger's wife is the NHL's answer to Yoko Ono. Heckling him should be worth the price of a $10 nosebleed ticket.

Pittsburgh Penguins (Jan. 26)
Sidney Crosby might be the closest thing to the next Wayne Gretzky. Let's hope that is without the whole Mafia gambling scandal.

Toskala or Nabokov?

Ron and Doug Wilson seem to have the best of both worlds right now -- they've got both goalies looking sharp and they've got a number of teams out east with imploding goalie situations. I gotta think that at least preliminary "Oh crap" calls are being made to Doug's office, but assuming that both goalies are healthy, who should the Sharks try to keep?

On the surface, Nabokov's big contract makes him the easy choice to let go. However, I don't see the issue here being the cap hit for this year -- or even next year. Here's the problem:

Nabokov: 2008/2009 $5.25 million cap hit
Toskala: 2008/2009 UFA
Marleau: 2008/2009 UFA
Thornton: 2008/2009 UFA

So, both goalies are roughly the same age, and assuming when healthy, can put up roughly the same stats. If the Sharks internal budget is essentially set for this year -- and I have to think that it would be considering the Vladimir Malakhov transaction -- then Doug Wilson probably has the green light to move either goalie.

The question then becomes, how much will Toskala ultimately be worth? Will he want $5.25 million when he becomes UFA or will he want more? Consider this -- Tomas Vokoun got a four-year extension averaging just under $6 million cap hit and Rick Dipietro's ridiculous contract has a cap hit of $4.25 million per season. Assuming that there is some general level of inflation, it wouldn't be surprising for Toskala to get around $6 million at the end of the 2007/2008 season.

Assuming both goalies are playing to the best of their abilities, keeping Nabokov might actually be the smarter thing to do in the long run. With Nabby, at least Doug Wilson has some certainty in the numbers he will be dealing with when it comes to re-signing both Thornton and Marleau.

Monday, October 09, 2006

BoC Notes, Oct. 9

1. Sleek’s dream comes true—Sammy “God” Pahlsson signs a 2-year extension.

You might have to be an Anaheim commenter at HF Boards to fully appreciate this, but the Swedish shadow Sammy Pahlsson (my favorite Duck) signed an extension that will reportedly increase his 2006-07 $650k to a much more appropriate $1.4 M in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

I’ve always had a man-crush on Sammy, who’s an unbelievably hard worker and a smart defensive forward. But at HF Boards (where I stole that image), he’s a god. This offseason, Pahlsson finished 2nd behind Selanne in popularity in an HF poll, including my vote.

Brian Burke on Pahlsson: “The foundation for any successful team is that they keep the puck out of their own net. You’ve got to watch the game very closely to appreciate what he does. The casual fan will not walk about the building saying, ‘Boy, Sammy had a great game.’ We say it with regularity.”

2. Ducks beat Phoenix…again.
Thursday will mark the 3-year anniversary of the last time Phoenix and Anaheim played a game without Anaheim gaining any points in the standings. That’s 14 straight regular season matchups.

But hey, Gretzky’s only been head coach for the last 9.

3. Niedermayer and Pronger anchor league’s worst defense, and other early season oddities.
The Ducks right now are the worst team in the league at preventing shots against (39.5 per game).

Then again, the league’s best offense belongs to Chicago (6 gf/gm), the league’s best defense belongs to Atlanta and Pittsburgh (1 ga/gm), the 5 best power plays belong to teams that didn’t qualify for the last playoffs (Minnesota, Chicago, Florida, Columbus, and Vancouver), and the 5 teams yet to score a power play goal are surprisingly Pittsburgh, Dallas, NY Rangers, Detroit, and Calgary.

4. Selachophobia (n) - the scientific name for an abnormal and persistent fear of sharks.

I saw this on the opening Sharks telecast and had to reprint it, with a little extra:

Mark Bell—6’4”, 220 lbs, 26 yrs. old, drafted 8th overall 1998
Joe Thornton—6’4”, 235 lbs, 27 yrs. old, drafted 1st overall 1997
Jonathan Cheechoo—6’1”, 200 lbs, 26 yrs. old, drafted 29th overall 1998
Milan Michalek—6’2”, 225 lbs, 21 yrs. old, drafted 6th overall 2003
Patrick Marleau—6’2”, 220 lbs, 27 yrs. old, drafted 2nd overall 1997
Steve Bernier—6’2”, 235 lbs, 21 yrs. old, drafted 16th overall 2003

Avg height (entire team): 6’1.7” (T-4th tallest)
Avg weight (entire team): 214.8 lbs (1st heaviest)
Avg age (entire team): 26.4 yrs. old (1st youngest)


5. AHN-jay KOH-pi-tar. Learn to say it.

This kid Anze Kopitar the Kings got is young (19 years old), big (6'4", 220 lbs.), and explosive (5 points in his first 2 NHL games). Plus he’s from Slovenia, which in NHL terms means he was raised by wolves. When interviewed, however, I was impressed at how solid his English was, and he seemed to have a really good attitude.

Depending on how much he is played this year, he could force Malkin to join Crosby as Calder also-rans. In fact, each BoC team probably has a legitimate candidate to outbid hype machine Malkin in Calder voting (L.A.’s Kopitar, S.J.’s Matt Carle, and Ana’s Dustin Penner). Keep an eye out.

Marc Crawford on Kopitar: “He’s a big-time talent, no doubt about it. The big thing is, he is very teachable. You tell him once and he goes out and does it. He’s a coach’s son and he has that type of upbringing.”

6. Pacific starting well…too well.

The Ducks get their first-ever 2-0 start to the season, and it gets them nowhere.

1. San Jose, 2-0, 7 GF, 4 GA
1. Dallas, 2-0, 6 GF, 3 GA
1. Anaheim, 2-0, 6 GF, 4 GA
2. Los Angeles, 1-1, 7 GF, 5 GA
2. Phoenix, 1-1, 7 GF, 5 GA
Sure it’s early, but thus far Pacific's 6-0 against non-division foes, and all five teams in the division are outscoring their opponents.

Tough league.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

You be the California Coach

I’ve got an L.A.-at-Anaheim summary coming tomorrow, but first, take this quiz:

Game 1: Friday vs. Los Angeles. J.S. Giguere allows 3 goals on 44 shots to win 4-3.
Game 2: Saturday at Phoenix. Ilya Bryzgalov allows 1 goal on 35 shots to win 2-1.
Game 3: Monday vs. St. Louis

Los Angeles
Game 1: Friday at Anaheim. Dan Cloutier allows 4 goals on 32 shots in a 3-4 loss.
Game 2: Saturday vs. St. Louis. Mathieu Garon allows 1 goal on 36 shots to win 4-1.
Game 3: Tuesday vs. NY Islanders

San Jose
Game 1: Thursday vs. St. Louis. Vesa Toskala allows 4 goals on 35 shots in a 5-4 OT win.
Game 2: Saturday vs. NY Islanders. Evgeni Nabokov allows 0 goals on 26 shots for a 2-0 win.
Game 3: Monday in Calgary

So the three-part question: which goalie would you start for each team's Game 3?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Another bloody mouth in Anaheim

Jeez, it appears that everyone in Anaheim is inspired by Teemu’s cut-to-the-mouth (and his resulting point increase). From the OC Register:

"With Pronger absent from practice because of flu-like symptoms, Ducks hearts skipped more than a few beats when a deflected puck struck Scott Niedermayer in the face."
Don’t know if that’s enough to make Grabia’s day, but hey, it’s a start. Pronger’s sick? Check. Niedermayer’s hurting? Check. Teemu’s jaw is wired shut? Nah, he’s got that mutant healing factor going for him.

(By the way, one guy in Anaheim who knows a thing or two about bloody-mouth-syndrome is radio colorman and former enforcer Brent Severyn, who is gaining local notoriety about his off-the-wall phrases, affectionately known as Severynisms. Check out the new message board devoted to his fisticuff-altered colloquialisms—it’s a dandy.)

Get well, everyone. Regicide starts tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

WAA!! Gimme back my superstar!

You know, I’ve made a pretty strong effort to stay out of the Chris-Pronger-out-of-Edmonton scandal, but I also don’t go telling the bank when the ATM spits out too much cash.

But along comes Andy Grabia, who (near as I can tell) has been replaced on the Oiler end at Battle of Alberta, but the kind of replacement where you keep on blogging regularly. He unleashed a little Duck-bashing today, to remind us all that indeed these games do count again and oh yeah, I hate your team.

All this despite the fact that (a) we don’t even play Edmonton until after Thanksgiving United Nations Day, (b) I traded Petr Sykora to Grabia in our fantasy league, and (c) uh, we lost to you in the playoffs, remember?

Do I sense an pent-up case of ProngeRage?

Now, let’s be clear. I don’t have any “insider info” on Pronger or anything, and this Friday will really represent the first regular season game where I actually root for Pronger. I’m not sure that I’m a Pronger groupie just yet.

Even so. Let’s set this straight.

Your underdog team rides a late-season-surge goaltender to 3 improbable upsets and gets to a heartbreaking game seven, one twist of fate from being cup champs. Days later, your hopes at any momentum are shattered as your superstar leader decides he’d rather play elsewhere. And he ends up going to an already-decent-showing team, turning them into cup favorites.

Yeah, sounds pretty fucking sad. Pardon me if I don’t grab you a Kleenex.

Oh, let’s flash back to the distant past, say 2003. The Mighty Ducks also had those 3 improbable upsets against better teams using a hotter goaltender. And though the team had warned their superstar that he wouldn’t be given a $10 million qualifying offer, it was generally understood that Paul Kariya would sign a deal for something like $8 million instead (he also made many references to “next year” at the postseason parade). There was even some speculation that the extra money could land someone like UFA Teemu Selanne.

But then, the first goddamn day of free agency, Kariya landed Anaheim with a solid “fuck you” punch when he signed a one-year deal with the goddamn Avalanche for a “double fuck you” cost of $1.2 million. Oh, and “triple fuck you” Selanne went too.

So yeah, Edmonton? You have it rough? Well, the main differences I see are (a) you got players and picks, we got a postcard, and (b) we still gotta pay Pronger a superstar price. Goddamn Avalanche.

Good news for you? That Kariya-and-Selanne-on-talent-laden-Colorado thing didn’t work out.

Bad news for you? Neither did our Fedorov-and-Prospal-can-be-just-as-good thing.

Odd news for all of us? A fucking Duck fan knows better how to deal with this loss than the boo-hoo Oil fans.

Maybe just because we’ve been kicked and spit on from day one, but Duck fans are pretty thick-skinned to taunts by now. That said, Grabia’s dead right about one thing (though not until Nov. 28 Oct. 25 for Anaheim-Edmonton)—these games do count. Enough screwing around and being all offseason-friendly.

Pronger prefers Anaheim. Wipe those tears and deal with it. Yeah, I got some sympathy for you, but don’t play “poor us” against Duck fans. Fans of this franchise have pretty much got you covered on every level.

The only thing we got going for us, apparently, is that we don’t have to live in the frozen outpost of Hoth. Oh yeah, and we got Pronger, nyah nyah.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

This Friday: Game One, Row Two

In the nearly 5 months this blog has been under operation, we have yet to actually see a meaningful game between the Battle of California constituents. Well, patient readers, that all changes this coming Friday, when the new-look Anaheim Ducks open their season by hosting the new-roster L.A. Kings at Honda Center (the arena’s new name becomes official today).

And, as I just found out this morning, I will be in attendance in my three-times-a-season Row B seats, drinking my eight-dollar beers and yelling at multimillion-dollar players. As always, player taunt suggestions are appreciated, both for Kings on the ice or Ducks in the box.

Look out, Kings. The Ducks are opening up the can of Wup Ass, and you're first on the list.

Damn I can't wait.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Uh oh...now I actually might root for the Sharks and Ducks!

After a grueling and emotionally crippling draft that clocked in at almost four hours, I now have to contemplate my fantasy hockey team. And whether it was fate or just the deck that was handed to me, my team (The Lawn Pigs) is fairly loaded with BoC'ers. Sadly, due to the untimely selection of Alex Frolov, I'm Kings-less.

Here are the Californians that are on my team, pretty much in sequence of when they were picked (not counting guys on non-Cali teams):

Scott Niedermayer

Vesa Toskala
Teemu Selanne
Ilya Brzgalov

My main questions to the masses:

1. Is Vesa Toskala going to be the starter for San Jose?
2. Is Bryzgalov going to start for the Quackers?
3. Will Lightningbeard prosper with Prongher, or will he ease up with the lockbox'd Orbs?
4. Finally, will Teemu Selanne go back into hibernation after his LL Cool J-inspired (Don't call it a) Comeback?

I'd especially appreciate an answer for questions 1-2, folks. Otherwise I'll have to make one or two of my classic early panic add-drops. Last year I briefly dropped Eric Staal for Tuomo Ruutu. Yeah, that could have been bad...

J.S. Giguere: worst goalie helmet ever?

This is what happens when teams forget to have logos.

It's not that I'm against mask artwork or even the concept of a T-1000 cyborg duck, but Giguere has alluded to a lot of things in his new helmet design without really paying homage to any of them.

The character looks like it's missing drool. Yech.

Where's Disney when you need 'em?