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A hockey fan in the Nation.

July 6, 2011

I know I’ve been neglecting this blog and every season I make the resolution that I’m going to keep it up, and since have not, but maybe, just maybe I’ll get consistent with writing every hockey whim again.  I like writing, and I should write about hockey more, considering, you know, it’s what I want to do later.  You know, might be a good idea.

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while, mainly because I’m weird.  I don’t know what most hockey fans do after the second week of June, or the first day of July, but for me, the summer is way too long to not care about any sports ever.

That, and I kind of live in a special place in the sports world.

In the winter, I live in Buffalo, a hockey hub that is a fantastic place for a hockey nut to live.  I love Buffalo, and I love how Buffalo loves the Sabres.  But…when the summer comes, I often question what there is, you know, outside of hockey when it’s still -3 outside.

And that’s why it’s awesome that my summer home is right in the middle of New England, where we have the New England Sports Network, that plays one thing, and one thing only as soon as April hits.

Red Sox Baseball.

Now I’m an interesting character in the fact that I love one of the most exciting and violent games in the world…and…one of the most boring.  Let’s be honest, one of Baseball’s charms to me is that it’s really easy to follow.  I can do other stuff as I watch a Sox game.  I only really have to look at the TV every 30 seconds and I don’t miss much.

That doesn’t mean I do other things, I’m saying I can.  One of the great things about watching a game with me, is that the amusement people get when I watch a hockey game, doesn’t go away, it just becomes a lot more absurd.  I take the intensity of watching hockey to a 3 hour baseball game.  And go figure, cause you can’t be intense about baseball, or anything, for that long.

It’s funny because in particular, that no one really sees me watch baseball, or give a damn about baseball.  Dad commented yesterday with an impressed tone “You’re really getting into baseball huh?”  Not getting into, I like baseball, because I get weirdly excited about it!

For example, we know I love nicknames, and sometimes, players have AWESOME nicknames.  Like Dustin Pedroia.  I will NEVER bore of screaming “CHARGIN MY LAZAHHHH” when Dustin “Lazer Show” Pedroia walks up tot he plate.  No I’m serious, that’s his nickname.  The tiniest fucking player on the team, and he’s got the nickname Lazer Show.  It’s AWESOME.

You have the standard “Big Papi” for David Ortiz, and either Cap’t or ‘Tek for Jason Varitek…but then you can have fun with it.  Like when I heard Kevin Youkilis is teased by teammates and gets “Jelly” written under his initials on his bat.  Yes…someone realized that they can start playing on poor old Youk by calling him a sexual lubricant.  And I jumped right on that gravy train.  Now, if I’m home and watching my favorite bald headed slugger coming out of the dugout, I no longer howl a low “yooouuuuukkkk”  but instead shriek a much more amusing “JELLLAAAYYYYYYYY.”

And my indomitable enthusiasm for this team, is what makes it fun for me and fun for other people.  Boston fans wonder why I’m so weird, but find a little girl loving a team endearing.   And I’m pretty sure people in general just like seeing a girl get into sports.

Yankees fans simply wonder how anyone could be enthusiastic about the sox, and just look on with amusement (and potentially a little fear, because people quickly realize that if anyone will be killing anyone after a loss, it’s probably the insane chick screaming obscenities at a screen.)

And the obscenities.  Does anyone in this universe hate Jarrod “I cant throw a fucking baseball and I’m useless” Saltalamacchia than me?  No?  Good.  If you wanna watch some chick scream a slew of death threats at a catcher, watch a game with me.  I want the man run over by a slow moving vespa (only because, the more I threaten him, the more likely he is, by the grace of god, hit something…and score a run for us.  I’m 3 for 3 with Saltalafuckyou hitting it out of the park when I threaten his life to some denomination.) (Yes, I really have an do call him Saltalafuckyou.)

I watch almost every game and every inning, and the obscenities always fly, and that’s why baseball is awesome for my offseason.  It keeps me honest, and, frankly, if I’m not a Sabres fan barking at Ottawa fans, why not be a Sox fan, barking at Yankees fans?

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God Giveth, God Taketh Away!

September 2, 2010

It seems even the Bulin wall is permeable to some things, Alcohol, for Nikolai, seems to be the biggest noise maker in recent history.

Charged with two accounts of drunk driving after being pulled over for speeding in Arizona on Superbowl weekend; Khabibulin was sentenced with 30 days in jail and fines reaching up into the 5,000 dollar mark.  The Oilers have since refused much commentary, but it’s known that Khabibulin will appeal, and they are expecting the goaltender at training camp.

Giving us first round pick, taking the veteran goalie….that’s kind of a little bit of harshness from the upstairs of hockeydom, and a good example of “God giveth, God taketh away.”  But for the past few post seasons that have left Oilers fans, watching with envy as the season carries on without them, it is a wonder as to what could happen should the Bulin Wall not make training camp this year.

What do I say?  He hardly made it last year!

Khabibulin isn’t young.  To think he is, is really just kidding yourself.  Plagued with injuries and back problems, the 37 year old goalie only played 18 games last season before ending it with back surgery.  He ended the season with a none too shabby 7-9-2 record, which, compared to the rest of the underwhelming net minding squad for the Oilers, is actually good (the only goalie with more wins than losses on the Oilers roster…is Martin Gerber…which kind of makes you realize how bad this team needs some confidence between the pipes.)

Even the less than stellar 3.03 Goals against Average is better compared to the other two net minders the Oilers saw last season.  Delsauriers clocked in at 3.26 and Dubnyk in his equally short 19 game seasons posted 3.57.

The Oilers goaltending is weak, and it was a real scar on the season last year.  With an equally weak offensive group, we were looking at a team that really couldn’t produce on the very object of hockey: score more than the other guys.  The fact that an aging netminder and someone who played 12 games for the Leafs last season currently have better records than our young prospects, is really scary to a fan.  Gerber and Khabibulin are ticking down, as if injuries last year didn’t make it obvious enough.

Pumping up the offense with Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi will only get you so far in a sport where goaltenders can make or break games.  They can add to the score, and make games more even, but you’re looking at a team that wasn’t losing in close 1 goal games.  Looking back on the schedule, I remember 2, 3 goal deficits being the norm, with the Oilers on the losing side.

We can only hope that somewhere in the offseason, Dubnyk and Deslauriers did some big training to try and make their game a bit more reliable.  Deslauriers has spent much of his career as a backup goaltender to the likes of Dwayne Roloson, who at 40 is still posting numbers to be proud of with the Islanders a conference away.  You can argue that this was his first real season to ‘The Show’ and that he may be a little nervous.  Buf 48 games of nervousness?  Resigned for a year, he’s got one more chance to prove himself, and this drama with the Bulin Wall is his chance to turn heads and win back the faith of Oil country again.  Assuming appeals in court go well, I can only hope that Nikolai can come back for another season and maybe take the lead once more, giving Deslauriers and Dubnyk more time to adjust, but the fact remains, something needs to change on the blue ice in Edmonton.

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Women’s Ice hockey! In the World Hockey Summit!

August 26, 2010

The 2010 world hockey summit has been going on in Toronto…wait what?

What is the world hockey summit?  Well let’s start from the beginning.  If you are following the same dudes I am on twitter, you are undoubtedly having your feed being blown up near constantly by the big guns.  Guys at Puck Daddy, The Hockey News, Hockey Night in Canada…they’re all there, and they’re all tweeting about it!  So many are tweeting about it, in fact, it’s starting to make my brain hurt a little bit.

So what is the hockey Summit?

It’s kinda like Comic Con…but better…because every who’s who of hockey is there, doing panels, giving opinions, and possibly making a difference in the game.  Going onto the website is nothing short of overwhelming, and I suggest if you have the mind to check it out, free up your calendar because there’s a lot to go through.

Something really close to my heart is going under the knife on the last day of the Summit.  Women’s hockey.  Now if you didn’t watch women’s hockey during the Olympics, you’re a fool.  FOOL.  And not even the kind of respectable fool in Hamlet.  You’re not a foil of any intelligence…FOOL.

And that is directed at everyone who teased me during my intense screaming matches with my TV during USA/Canada, USA/China…USA/The Universe.  Girls hockey is awesome.  It’s the speed of your little zippy forwards, the finesse of your well honed Canadian and Russian poster boys (no names) and the overwhelming scoring that makes games versus salary strapped teams so much fun.

That scoring deficit may just be the downfall of Women’s hockey in the Olympics.  When you look at the difference in scoring between Canada and the US, in comparison to eastern teams in Finland, Sweden, China and so forth, you see that there’s a bit of an embarrassingly large deficit.  Let’s be honest…the riff is about as big as the one  between California and China (…the pacific ocean, if you didn’t catch that.)  There’s almost no competition.

And that’s not me being cocky about my home continent…IOC experts are saying that too.

Fanhouse posted an article citing the end of Olympic competition to this very problem…they bring up numbers and even show an interesting statistic.  Of all the Olympic contests, USA and Canada are the only gold medalists in women’s sports.  The Scandinavians come next…but it’s a little bit of a drop down from there (in 2006 Sweden took silver and USA got bronze.)

Instead of just cutting it all together, it seems like the people upstairs want to use the examples in Canada and the USA to launch these other programs.  Great…but will it work?  Hayley Wickenheizer, Captain Canada (AKA- cool as ice lady) is pushing for just that.  According to worldhockeysummit.com she’s the only speaker at the panel.

So what do you guys think?  How many of you actually watch Women’s hockey?  Do you know about USA vs. Canada on the estrogen stage?  Did you watch it in the Olympics?

This is a pull away from my title-9 hate.  I slam title 9 all the time, but really, girls need sports just as much as testosterheads do.  If I didn’t have the Lady Ice Bulls, you all know I’d be batshit insane.  Just sayin’

So, gimme your thoughts.  What do you guys think will happen to an international stage for Women’s Ice Hockey.  There’s an up and coming league now, who just had their first draft.  Would you go to a women’s ice hockey game?

Hell. I would

-PJ

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MARVEL AT THE POSSIBILITIES

August 1, 2010

It’s nearly 6 AM on a Sunday Morning, way too early to be doing this shit…but here I am….

Let me just say, nothing irks me more than waking up Sunday and there being no milk for cereal.  That’s why my dad is awesome.  A restless marine, he’s usually awake long before I am on any given morning, and by the time I get up on a Sunday, he’s not only made breakfast, but he’s usually gone to go get milk of some sort and grocery shop.  And while he said he’d be home early this morning from his weekend golf excursion to…one of the Carolinas (I don’t even recognize them as different states anymore.  I mean…The Cane’s aren’t discriminatory as to geographic location…why should I?) He’s obviously not home early enough and instead of vanilla milk and frosted flakes, I’m having banana bread oatmeal, which I’ve been in better moods about.

Also the fact that I’m wearing a snuggie has got me a little…meh.  After having a reversed fever of 97.7 Friday night, I’ve spent more time wrapped up in blankets than any sane/residing under the Arctic Circle person should in the end of July.  If you live in Alaska, or are a Penguin (…a REAL penguin) you can have tons of snuggies.  I’ll even buy them for you.

I swear to you, there WAS a point to all of this.

In my early wake up call to the bathroom, and battle the outer ear infection that’s been bothering me for the past forever, I tried to do what any normal person would do at 5 AM on a Sunday morning.  Read The Hockey News on their Blackberry phone and try to lull themselves back to sleep with thoughts of the upcoming pre-season drifting through their head.  This did nothing but really just get me excited, and start to think on some fairly controversial stuff, damn heresy when you talk to any Sabres fan.

The blog I read was titled “What if Thomas Vanek became an Oiler?” By John Grigg.  MIND BLOWN.  First off, we know why I’d read something like this, my two teams all lined up and ready to do some trades.  I don’t know about anyone else, frankly, I don’t think anyone cares…but the Oilers and the Sabres are kind of like secret lovers when it comes to off season trades.  There’s a lot of back and forth between these clubs and it really gets me excited.  Not TOO much mind you…but there’s a trend of it.  Seems that a lot of our best players at one time or another came from the Oilers (I’ve said this more than once…Jochen Hecht and our old pal Spacek were once Oilers…to bring up two)

And holy shit my coffee is bitter.  What the hell is up with that.  It’s because it’s 6 AM on a Sunday morning.  The coffee gods are pissed at me for abusing their gift to mankind.

Anyway.  This blog talked about a trade possibility that was rumored in 2007.  This was before my time so I had no clue that there even were 30 teams in the NHL and one had manage to draft my favorite player (fuck yeah 89!).  Edmonton wanted Vanek, and was planning to shell out for it.  The big guy upstairs (not God…Darcy Regier) said that he’d eagerly match anything Lowe gave Vanek.

Well…Shame on Darcy.

Lowe was also, along with shelling out the Benjamins (or…What’s Canadian currency…Bordie’s?  And my one Canadian reader leaves the room).  They were prepared to shell out draft picks too.  In fact, they were shelling out four…draft picks.  First round draft picks.

Now since we’ve already broken the fuck barrier, allow me to make this concise.  Hold the FUCKING phone.

You mean, first round draft picks from 08, 09, 10 and 2011?  The phone…I’m holding it.

You mean…the first round draft pick that Buffalo got from Edmonton in 2008 ANYWAY to acquire Tyler Myers 12th Overall? (12th went from Edmonton, to LA, and then Buffalo traded 13th to LA for 12th).  The Same draft year that Edmonton Acquired Eberle?  The very draft year that between Sabres first pick at 12, and second pick at 26,  two are currently playing in the NHL, Four have won Gold in the world Juniors with, 6, at least medaling in the WJC?  Yeah!

Imagine if Buffalo could have retained their 13th pick…and had that 12th.  MARVEL AT THE POSSIBILITIES.  Jordan Eberle!  On the Sabres!  WHAT?!

What about…You mean, the first round draft pick in 2009, Where The Oilers selected 10th overall, that Swedish kid…with too many names and too many A’s in them (I know his name really is Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, I just like making fun of his name.) who admittedly I know almost nothing about, but garnered a lot of excitement!   A silver and bronze WJC medalist.  Averaging 81 points in 74 international games…Oh my god stop me before my heart gives out.

MARVEL AT THE POSSIBILITIES!  WE LOVE SWEDES IN BUFFALO!  WE DO!  ESPECIALLY ONES THAT PLAY…AND PLAY WELL!

Developing that thing with our pick of Zack Kassian?!  I can’t look!

But…no…don’t tell me…the first round pick in 2010.  That could be ours too?  Really?  You tease!  You lie!  Nay Nay!

And what possibilities are open for 2011?  Only time will tell what can be done with the struggling Oilers in the regular season…But when your scoring powerhouses of Alex Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff  not producing (Admittedly, Hemmer was injured, but  13 goals and 23 assists for Horcoff in 77 games?  Tottally unacceptable!) you can wonder if this will change, and how far they really will go.  A solid D-squad holds promise, with a trigger happy first line of Gilbert and new recruit Ryan Whitney.  The Loss of Sheldon Souray seems almost imminent come October (He wants out and he wants out NOW) but there’s a just as punishing and eager Theo Peckham in the wings ready to move up and take his place on the Physical line with Ladislav Smid.  There’ve been changes in Edmonton…but not huge ones that would leave me to really expect a HUGE overhall that would result in a much higher draft pick.

So, say that this trade did go through, you can’t even tell me that this is something to even consider, right?  I mean, Vanek would have added SO much to the front end of the Oilers that, well, let’s not even look at this.  Sabre’s had no chance of getting Taylor Hall (*nervous/shamed laugh*) Right?

WRONG!

The Oilers wouldn’t be where they are without Dustin Penner.  Chances are, without Physical Pens, those 12 and 10th overall picks would have been first overall (ish.)  Penner, especially in 07 and 08 was a damn good player, a big body that you could not see around in front of the net.  He was the best door (not window)  in the west.   Pens only came to be after Regier refused Lowe, and he took his money elsewhere (…to Anehiem) and I’m pretty much quoting the article from Grigg word for word here because I had no clue any of this went on, so bear with me.

Apparently, Vanek’s numbers aren’t SO great that Penner’s aren’t totally comparable.  And…unless the guy is Ryan Miller and he’s in your net, one man can’t lead a hockey team to greatness on his own.  The Austrian Savior is a long shot.  Like…100 yards long shot.

So…Sabres lose one of our best forwards…Around 34 goals a season for the past 3 seasons (comparably, Penner was scoring about 24 goals a season, so you see how Vanek wouldn’t have helped the Oilers…MUCH)…Someone would undoubtedly fill in…we’d need another top 6 forward…and….

MARVEL AT THE POSSIBILITIES.  ALL UR DRAFT PICKS ARE BELONGING TO ME.

My head hurts.

So…What did I think of this Trade, well, I thought…and thought…and thought…and thought a little more.  And tried to find a comparison at 5 AM on a Sunday morning that would make sense…

Phil Kessel.  Little Philly from Down the Lane.  You make my life so easy sometimes.

In his two preceding seasons before the imminent trade that gave me two fist sized bald spots on either side of my head  during a blustery preseason;  Phil Kessel scored 19 and 36 goals respectively in addition to playing on the US World Championship team (the team did not do much, understandably…but he was there.  For this feisty sniper…ONE first round draft pick and ONE second round draft pick

NOT FOUR FUCKING FIRST ROUNDERS.

I love that I broke the fuck barrier early.

I think what is attractive to me about this kind of opportunity, a low first round pick, is the ability that you can definitely build around it.  While most of the time you don’t know until you get on the floor what you’ll end up walking away from a draft with, you can build with a first round pick, tailoring the pick to your game’s style.  We can say that Vanek makes our teams style, but sometimes, I truly wonder how much ONE man really makes the style.  I think that the flourishing embellished plays of Derek Roy, the close up defense, and  the passing is what makes our style.   For a team with the back checking power of our forwards…I wonder how Vanek’s eagle eye high on the blue line really works.  And while only Lindy Ruff can say what he wants out of his players, it’s not impossible to see how any coach would love to have some new material on their hands, rookies with whom they can mold to perfect team players.

I know there’s a lot of Vano faithful out there, but looking at this trade, you can really find yourself lost in it’s possibilities.  The offensive power of four first rounders can easily overwhelm that of one, especially when looking at what could have been expected from the oilers in late 2007.  The oilers again fell short that season, granting them the 6th round pick of Sam Gagner.  It was the start of a trend…

What do you think you would have done?  John Grigg in the end of his post said that he’d make the trade in a heartbeat.  Personally…I think I would have done the same thing.

Habs mittens to beg for commissions. Moneys is nice :)

-PJ

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IN THIS CORNER….A Look at KovalGate 2010

July 23, 2010

I’m not going  to lie and say  I haven’t put this off for a bit…I have, but the battle Royal in the NHL has to be talked about at some point.

[Announcer]

IN THIS CORNER…WEIGHING IN AT A VERY LARGE AMOUNT OF WEIGHT, YOUR PLAYOFF MAKING, LOSING IN THE FIRST ROUND TO THE PHILADELPHIA FLYERS…

THE NEW JERSEY DEVILS! *cheers*

AND IN THIS CORNER, WEIGHING IN SLIGHTLY LESS…THEY ARE THE BIG, THE BAD, YOUR FAVORITE SPORTS LEAGUE…

THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE *cheers*

Brick: Nice to see you Chet

Chet: Happy to be here Brick.

Brick: So what we’re looking here are two really strong contenders.  The New Jersey Devils prove to be a real heavyweight among the members of the league these days, known for strong defense and quick feet to keep the punches off of them, they bring here a true charm from Russia in their Ilya Kovalchuck Combo.  The NHL should look out when that’s coming their way, it’s a powerful asset to the Devil’s strategy.  By toting this 90 point powerhouse, they’re looking to really take a chunk out of the competition.

Chet: Right you are Brick, but let’s look at the NHL for a moment.  To combat the Kovy Combo they’ve got a really oppressive defensive move to keep him from having his way in the ring.  In a surprise move, the NHL can and will bring out the Collective Bargaining Agreement powerhouse move.  The CBA can effectively nullify anything that the New Jersey Devils throw at them.  Also one thing to note is the coach for the NHL, Gary Bettman, standing just over…oops, I’m sorry, you can’t see him, appears he’s shorter than the height of the ring.

Brick:  haha, don’t worry about that Chet, we all know who Big Pockets Bettman is.

Chet: Alright.  Well I’d just like to mention how cutthroat he is in the rink.  Bettman will pressure the league use the CBA at any way it can to wear out the NHL’s opponents and have the Devils tap out.  It’s really a dominating strangle hold of a move.

Brick:  That it is Chet, and it’s good to point out that Bettman will often have the NHL alter the move a little bit to always have the opposition on their toes.  But without further adieu, let’s get underway in this Battle Royal, Jersey Devils against the National Hockey League.  The fight will start after a quick message from our sponsors.

I LOVE CHEESY POOFS YOU LOVE CHEESY POOFS IF WE DIDN’T EAT CHEESY POOFS WE’D BE GAY.

[Announcer] LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLEEE!

Brick: Welcome back, and we’re underway.  The Jersey Devils are really ready to go.  The Devils, while not normally known for making the first move, seem to have taken some advice from Team USA and Canada, and have loaded their fighting moves with traditional offensive matches as the Langenbrunner and Parise…with defensive blocks from the Brodeur.  But Here, they come right out and ready to dance!  This is gonna be an exciting fight folks!

The NHL starts with some free-agency combos, but the Devils are ready.  They Block with a Vochenkov and Oh did you see that Chet?!

Chet: Sure did Brick.  That was a classic example of a Contract with a block.  It’s a charging blow that can minimize the force of a punch, and make the block even more effective.  And if you add that onto a combo like a Kovalchuck?  Oh boy…

Brick: The NHL recovers quickly and oh, another free agency blow!  Jersey is shaken, but not stirred, this is what we’re used to out of this fighter, an easy, defensive start before they pounce.  And we see that Contract move AGAIN with another Henrick Talinder block!

Chet: This isn’t anything new, Brick.  To see a team that loves to use the contract add on will often warm up with a few simple blocks before really getting in to using it in an offensive move.  It’s really a difficult move to master and balance, so you need to warm up and start using it early before you try and take a heavier blow with it.

Brick:  Do you think that they might try to make an easy meal of the NHL and use it with the Kovy Combo?

Chet: watching how the Devs are playing with a lot of blocks, it looks like they’re going to try and use it with a finishing blow while the NHL is confused and tired.  Usually a fighter with the cap to use a contract will warm up just like this and hang on…see what opens to them.

Brick: Saving your energy.  The NHL isn’t really playing as varied a game as the Devils, oh, but they’re getting power from other teams.

Chet: you see the Board of Commissioners around Gary Bettman ring-side.  This is what Bettman uses as a sort of Assistant Coaching spread, and it really pays off for a great fighter like the League.  They are the ones who know how to manipulate a big move, the NHLPA that is very unwieldy.  But really, Bettman promotes a simple game from the NHL.

Brick: And the Devils are starting to look a bit restless.

Chet: you can see the Kovy Combo starting to come out.

Brick: Yes it is!  Ladies and Gentlemen, Pay witness to one of maybe the hardest moves to complete, with competition from Los Angeles to be the first to complete this, you can really see how special that a completion a Ilya Kovalchuck Contract combination would be game changing in the history of the sport.

Chet: Last year, we saw Atlanta attempt this move and fall short…The Devils actually bought rights to train with this move from the southern fighter.

Brick: And Bettman is calling a time out.  The fighters go to their respective corners and talk to their coaches.  We’ll return to this Battle of the Century, with another short message from our sponsors.

JOIN THE RCMP. GET A POODLE. GO MOUNTIES

Brick: Welcome back!  And the action is already heated up!  The Jersey Devils start right where they left off, going at the NHL with the Contract Kovy Combo!

Chet: now remember, this is a very long and complex move, at any time can the NHL try to interrupt it and spoil this for the Jersey Devils.

Brick: And that seems to be what they’re doing!  The NHL is actually using the CBA.  However, the combo continues.  The contract goes, still fighting, avoiding any jarring blows until the NHL actually Flips the Devils out of the Ring!  The fight is stopped, and coaches are screaming.  Fans are throwing food from the stands!

Chet: The NHL is trying to call a disqualification to the Ilya Kovalchuck Contract!  Gary Bettman is standing on the edge of the ring, Saying that the Devils circumvented the CBA by leaving the rink.

Brick: This could be very bad for the Devils.

Chet: What the problem seems to be is that the Devils were flipped out of the ring only by the actions of the CBA.  They broke no rules while inside the ring!

Brick: Looks like they’re calling additional eyes from more refs to decide on this matter.  This is a history-making fight.  It’s not ending soon.  Until Next time, I’m Brick Heafty

Chet: And I’m Chet Later.

Yeah…that’s  pretty much what’s going on.  Blog post when this all settles down!

-PJ

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And all the good girls go home with broken hearts

July 7, 2010

…CAUSE I’M FREEEEE! FREE…agent…

It works…and yet…it doesn’t…because a lot of good girls did go home with broken hearts on July 1, 2010…a lot of them Chicago fans…and Sabres fans.

Chicago? What’s up with Chicago? Well other than cleaning house and absolutely obliterating all real hopes for a repeat of last year, not too much. After the Stanley cup raises and contracts the team is in a bit of a problem. The spring (summer?) cleaning is well underway at the expense of some big players, many of which going to the southern team of Atlanta (Ladd, Byfuglien, Sopel and Eager) I believe that the statistic lies with about 1/3 of the team gone in trades and to free agency, significantly marring any real chance of a science fiction double feature for the team. But with how last season ended in a bang, I’m thinking that this might give the team some fire, to try and make a good run of things.

Confidennncceeeee! (it can really only get you so far.)

Sheldon Souray was left to the wayside by waivers and his fate hangs in the balance. It was interesting to see no one pick up Shelly Wonderbomb (anyone remember during a certain Oilers game, Shelly getting that name for his wonderful shot?) With the bomb he has, it’s a wonder he hasn’t been piced up. The Oilers are doing a nice turn around with their players, losing Patrick O Sully Boy and Robert Neilson. What makes me really excited?! Stevie Mac is back with us! I loved this little wrecking ball from hell when we last had him, and you bet your ass I’ll love to see this little homewrecker soon!

Tambelini’s decision to start rebuilding from the ground up after last season doesn’t really come as much of a surprise to me. When a team does as unfortunately bad as the )ilers did, you need to kind of start at square one and make things right. Making things right, although painful for some of the fans, starts with a killer plan to make things happen, and what better building blocks are working with an already moderately young team, and at the helm, a first rounder?

If there’s one thing I’m kind of drawn on it’s the letting go of former captain Ethan Moreau to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Ethan has proven to be an almost perfect captain, standing up for his teammates when needed and being able to rile the team to a success. To toss away someone who’s proven himself so well really was a bit confusing to me. I’m not happy to see Ethan go in the slightest, and I can’t say I fully understand the motivations there…

The Sabres have been a little slow on the trade circuit, mainly dealing with resigning, we saw our two Vets, Sushi (Lydman) and Hook (Tallinder) leave us for two new (and hopefully more successful…for their sakes at least) markets, the Ducks and Devils respectively. Seeing as neither of these guys were kept, I now even further support Darcy I his decision to draft a D-man for pick 23. It looks like if we continue any track record like this, we’ll need one. To take one of their place, Jordan Leopold was signed. He’s got some expericnce in the game, 7 years where he played a pretty healthy season and averaging around 20 points a season. That’s 20 good points, and is on par to take Hook’s place. Though Sushi was a little better for the team, we need a little bit more of a defensive scorer. Maybe Sheldon Souray could fill his place? I’d be more than happy to see Darcy steal him off waivers at the beginning of the season!

I’ve come to find that the Sabres fans like to be discontent regardless of the situation. It is only normal to be uncomfortable with change, losing our strongest D-Men is nothing but unnerving. Who is reliable enough to take their place? But I have found that they are looking less to the future, excited about what we may obtain, but more nervous and worried. Maybe it has been the track record with Darcy that really is a hope breaker. I usually try to err on the side of hopefulness , and would like to think that someone is going to take Sushi’s place effectively, maybe better. The Sabres now have an opportunity to make the team stronger than ever…Trade deadline is a time to run up to these oppurtunities and greet them with eagerness, to maybe not fully trust your GM, but trust your team…that October will start you off brighter, happier, and just as ready to cheer on your boys as you ever were.

What keeps me so optimistic? Lord knows if I know, but I think constantly being in a state of making something and being a little distracted…and always content…

The knitter strikes again!

These are made as a surprise to one of my close friends. Believe it or not, I’ve never made mittens before, and I’m so happy as to how these turned out. I have been thinking about doing hockey-inspired commissions, so if you want one of these in theme of your team, just e-mail me at thenetwrub@yahoo.com and I’ll see what I can do for you!

That’s all from your favorite juicebox!

-PJ

h1

DRAFT…DRAFFTTT…DRRRRAAAFFFTTTT

June 28, 2010

One day. One arena…One man…wait…no…nevermind…how many kids are waiting to be drafted, like…hundreds? It’s gotta be something like that. Christ.

In a world…where one team…gets the first choice. One team, can impact the entire hockey world for forever…

That team came in last this season.

I’m really killing the suspense here. I’m a murderer of suspense!

Anyway, if the hints didn’t tee you off, the NHL Draft was last night in Los Angeles. There were some surprises, and some shocks, but most of all, it was a great time held by all. Fans were going insane at home, I was getting a text play by play and making a total ruckus at work. Did you expect anything less? So here’s a recap of the key points of the draft, and a little commentary for it.

First overall the Edmonton Oilers selected Taylor Hall, long putting an end to the back and forth questions of Taylor or Tyler. Is this all that shocking? Not terribly. There’d been talk of Hall by Edmonton for a good long time…more than I’d heard of Seguin. They never really gave any indication that there would be a switch from one intention by Tambelini. You get a familiarity between already established Oiler-in-the-wing Jordan Eberle, who’s just about ready to break out for the Oilers as a permanent player (it’s about time Eh? He’s been doing wonderful things out in the international stage, and for chrissakes, the poor kid was just in the IIHF World Championships. Think he MIGHT Be ready?). Assuming how quickly Hall gets in the roster, he’ll be awesome for this young team as a potential leader.

Second overall, the Boston Bruins got this lucky break after that famed trade to Toronto (you can see my less than glorified reaction here: ) This is gonna make Boston FUCKING powerful next season. And if I need to bring up a dead post and a dead catchphrase, because this might have screwed the Sabres…YOU DON’T TRADE WITHIN THE DIVISION…ESPECIALLY WHEN FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICKS ARE INVOLVD. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU ARE THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS AND YOU HAVE A FANTASTICALLY HIGH CHANCE OF GETTING A FANTASTICALLY HIGH DRAFT PICK. NO…NO…YOU DON’T DO IT.

Will Boston get into the playoffs next year? Oh I nearly guarantee it. And will that mean hell for the sabres? You bet your little scrawny ass it does. I hope my readers aren’t capped at Sabres fans because we’re all going to end up in a big old hate hole. Hole of hate. Filled with hate.

You don’t date within the division, you don’t trade within the division. Done.

So as you can guess, this is a good move by the Bruins. Theyr’e gonna be a total powerhouse next season.

Florida selected Erik Gudbranson 3rd overall. Reports say he’s consistent…a bigass piece of eye candy that their hoping to pair with Dmitri Kulikov, their first round pick from the 2009 draft. Kulikov sounds like some dangerous fucking weapon (…what is the alternative name for the AK-47? Kalishnikov. Fuck…) Basically this equals a bigass (6’4”)…gun. War machine. This is a Moltov cocktail waiting to happen in the southern state. Not only do we see Gudbranson going there, but proven success in Steve Bernier and Michael Grabner went to Florida along with some prospect depth in a 23rd over all pick. And what did this cost Florida? Ballard and Oreshkovich. This is a pretty badass situation for Florida. They really took this draft by the horns and did something about it. With their 23rd pick the Florida panthers gathered Quinten Howden, and on day two, 15th ranked John McFarland joined the totally exciting Florida system. This ended with a great 13 picks for Florida. They actually kind of look like a northern team now!

The first of a record breaking 11 American picks, Jack Campbell was drafted by the Dallas stars. The star goalie of the 2010 gold medal World Juniors team, I really forsee him being useful for Dallas in the upcoming years. Notorious for having the well established Turco, we are all aware he’s coming to the end of his warrantee, and Dallas is very much be in the market for a goaltender soon, and Jack was selected at a point so he can slide right in when that position frees up. HURRAY FOR JACK (I love Musie more than you but I’ll learn to love you too!)

So let’s take a moment to talk about the little record breaking here…Jack was the first of the most Americans to ever be drafted in the NHL. Now let me just put up my American flag and put my uncle Sam suit on and parade for the red white and blue. This came out to be a pretty even spread for the countries. It kinda worked out to be a 1:2:3 among the first 30 teams, 5 Europeans, 11 Americans and 14 Canadian teams. WHAT? That’s awesome. I think as the game evolves, you’ll see this spread get more and more even…which makes me so happy!

Remember. Hockey is for everyone.

Now I want to talk to everyone about the Sabres trade. Mainly because I know the Sabres best and I have to say that…Sabres fans are never happy. Darcy Reghir’s first round pick was to defenseman Mark Pysyk…now what everyone really said was “OMFG…A D-MAN?”

These people understandably so, wanted a forward, wanted someone to score for the team. This is very understandable, we like goals. Goals are fun. But when you’re drafting up at spot 23, you’re looking for a long term commitment…now, you don’t always need a quality forward that you can invest tons of time in, because you always have space for a 3rd line forward. You want to tailor and invest in a D man. Now aside from this, let’s talk about the future need for a D-Man. Right now, we’re looking at having two Free agents in Lydman and Tallinder. In two years (2011-2012) we’re looking at Rivet, Montador and Sekera as free agents…now, Pysyk is obviously gonna need a few years to develop, and with Monty and Ting gonna be up in age come their free agent time, our new little rookie will be hopefully ready to come in.

And, I’d always like to say, goals don’t matter as the w. When you got a guy like Fern in the back…you can really think about having a more defense-forward team…like what you see in Jersey to make Marty Brodeur the goalie monster he is with all his wins and shutouts…and maybe I’m a Fern banger, but I would so love that for him!

Any surprises, well to me it seemed like a really quiet draft. I really expected Brian Burke to move Kaberle or someone like that for a draft pick (I say Kaberle just because there was so much talk about moving Kaberle…) When he didn’t, and kept by the fact that he was proud of his decision to not have a first (or second round) pick for that matter…I was pretty happy about that…and impressed. I can see a lot of people bashing their head against the wall about it…calling him a bit arrogant maybe? That seemed to be the idea of most people who commented on how optimistic I talked about the leafs in my latest PJ&B TV video. But really. If he was my GM…and not Darcy…that kind of confidence in a decision might comfort me (…or infuriate me) it kind of makes you feel like he has control of the situation (or is telling people in a burning building not to panic) (or manning the sinking titanic). But…Burke is a curious character…really. (or a complete idiot…notice this negativity here!)

So, thoughts? I think that this was really an interesting draft. I don’t think the instant appeal is there…the only really NHL Ready kids are probably Taylor, Tyler and maybe Erik, one, two and three, but outside of that zone, I think that the draft holds future appeal with real talent that can be tailored by the NHL coaches to bring up some great new talent that can really make their teams great. The key is to not rush it, and take your time…these guys have some awesome appeal that I really want to see not squandered. Kids like John McFarland and Mark Pysyk who really have this talent and promise, and just need some minor time to be pushed and developed in the right way. With the NHL right there, they really have the motivation to drive themselves and make themselves awesome!

That’s your draft report…

102 days until the first game of the season!

-PJ

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