Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy New Year / Explainations...

Alright, it's apparently been over a month since I've blogged. And, I guess I don't really have an excuse. Life got busy - in good ways, I assure you. Time got away from me. I apologize for that. And I also apologize because I'm not sure how quickly that may change. I hope it does, but I don't want to promise.

So, as if I wasn't already, I'm taking a more formal hiatus from Natural Hat Trick Productions. Not a formal closing as I certainly hope and expect to be back, so let's just call this a hiatus. I hope to check in from time to time, but apparently even my best intentions of promising simple new entries have fallen flat. So no promises, but I do hope to check in soon!

I wish everyone well and look forward to a happy, hockey filled New Year in 2011! Best wishes everyone and Happy New Year!

Oh and Go Rangers!!

**P.S. Although also more infrequently updated than before, @NHTProductions is still on Twitter. Visit me there.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In Case You Missed It - Paul Bissonnette. . .

Presenting a new segment at Natural Hat Trick Productions. So many times, a day goes by and you're too busy to check updates on Twitter, the blogs, etc. (Goodness knows I've been, hence the regrettable lack of posts in either medium).

So...every day (or realistically every whenever-I'm-able-to) I'll post something cool that you may have missed. It may be one thing, or two, three on a rare occassion. But just random, fun things that you - may have missed.

To start, In Case You Missed It:

Paul Bissonette interview in the Vancouver Sun

Really fun look at the man behind PaulBizNasty or @BizNasty2Point0 - as he's known on Twitter. From my having watched the Coyotes quite a bit over the last few years, I feel like I certainly know him more than those who only know him from Twitter. But, after reading this interview, I feel like I know him even better. Seems like a really human, very relate-able, down to earth type guy. He's gained fans on Twitter because he's so likeable. Because he gets it. And he doesn't try to pretend. And I certainly respect that.

And, plus, you know, he's got personality. It's been said here - I like that in my hockey players.

Enjoy the man behind the name. You just may learn something.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Five Things About the Rangers/Oilers....

Granted, please note, we know this was against the Oilers, but...

1) Gaborik! Gaborik! Gaborik! I know you've been gone seemingly forever, and I'm so glad you are back. But 3 goals! Yay for Gaby! Let's keep it going!

2) How much did I love Christensen going over to Gaborik when Gaborik scored and went into the side of the net (collective sigh/distress at MSG) and give him a hug. Amazing how much more comfortable a player Christensen is with Gaby in the lineup. Think about it.

3) How good was that Frolov, Christensen, Gaby line. I mean Gaby was Gaby, but Frolov looked like the season started, Christensen looked happy and included. It was a good thing - ney, a great thing - for the NYRs to have another line, save Dubinsky/Anisimov/Callahan scoring.

4) Can't be overlooked how important Boyle's secondary scoring has been. He's using his size and talent more. And he's confident. All of which makes for a threat. 8 goals on the year on November 14th. Who would have thought he'd have 8 goals all year. Cheers for Boyle!!

5) As long as no one gets hurt, I love the scrappy fisticuffs that went on in the tail-end of the game. Avery/Smid, Prust/Stortini, etc, etc. It's good. It's good to show a pulse. And, frankly, every once in a while it's good to just enjoy the spirit of a team fight, a team game. It may not have been good hockey, but it was entertaining!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

HNIC Wrap-Up. . .

(Apologies - there have been no Five Things for the recent games. And it's really too late now, so...you get this instead):

Boyle on HNIC's Inside Hockey talking about training with skater Barbara Underhill:


Goodness knows all Rangers fans can see the difference this has made! And good for Boyle. Like this guy a lot. Right attitude. And effort. And now results. Great to see.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Five Things About Rangers/Bruins and Rangers/Devils (Games 6/7 - 2010/2011). . .

A little behind here, but I'm forgiven because the Rangers won both weekend games (and 3 in a row...), right?

Well, regardless, a combined 5 Things:

*Two pretty solid defensive efforts from the NYRs the last two games. And equally importantly - two pretty solid team efforts. Sticking up for one another. Skating. Passing. Puck support. You know, the good things.

*I was kinda surprised the Boston/Rangers game on Saturday was so nasty. Bruins/Rangers games since the lockout have been low scoring affairs (1-0, 2-1 shootout, the like; St. Patrick's Day Massacre of '07 notwithstanding). But this Saturday's game not only had goals (5 of 'em) but nasty stuff. I seriously do not remember as much of this in a long time. Sure, Boston didn't like it when Avery skated into Thomas with his characteristic "what," but Sjostrom took a punch to the face, and it was over...right? Who knows. Kinda made it fun to watch, though. So long as no one got hurt.

*Speaking of hurt. Accidents happen. It's a fast game. When Prust went down, bloody, and thrashing, that hurt to watch. Thank goodness he was okay. And kudos to him, coming back for Sunday's game, and playing a career high in time on ice. Good stuff.

*I know it should get old, Hank outdueling Brodeur. But you know, it doesn't. Why? Because for so long (re: too long, TOO long, embarassingly TOO long) the Devils owned the Rangers. I have no problem that the Rangers seemingly have control over the rivarly for the moment. It's kinda fair. Now, I still prefer a Rangers/Devils rivalry that is, indeed, a rivarly. Close games, intensity, fight from both teams. And, thankfully, these have remained so. I like six games a year, much better than the eight though. There is a such thing as too much of a good thing.

*Special teams. Hmm. Rangers scored a powerplay goal in each game. Allowed one in Boston. Held NJ scoreless yesterday. The bad: They are taking way too many penalties, and so far, their penalty kill has not been as essentially perfect as the last two years. The good: Their powerplay, even though it's not scoring, does not look as bad as it has in years past. They are moving the puck! Puck. Movement. Amazing, right? Also, getting some shots on net from the defense never hurt, now did it? They may just have the right idea. Now they just need to work on capitalizing on it.

A bonus video for you all. The lovely GWG against Boston from Marc Staal, who although taking too many silly penalties recently, still looks great with the "A" on his sweater:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Five Things About the Rangers/Leafs (Game 5 - 2010/2011). . .

Alright, and here we go:

*Yay for Marty Biron! Really happy for him. I had a hunch (expressed on Twitter) that it was right to start him in TO. Hank, for whatever reason, does not have his best games in Toronto - well, most of Canada - so why not give Biron the go. Not only did he win, he played well. And stopped what has been a hot Maple Leafs team. Good for him, - a really good guy. Congrats on his first win as a NYR.

*Ruslan Fedotenko led the Rangers with 5 shots on goal and got his first goal as a Ranger tonight. But, he had the right idea. The big thing is winning. And if more guys can produce on the goal sheet, the Rangers will do more of that winning thing.

*When Anisimov scored on the feed from Rozsival, and was right on the doorstep to do so, I asked myself - why is that so uncommon. Perfect scenario. Perfect looking goal. Kudos Anisimov for making it look smooth, but Rozsival has impressed in the small ways so far this year. Shots from the point. A few crafty passes. I think - maybe - he's finally back on track. Worth $5 million. No way. But a serviceable part of this team. He can be.

*Despite all the Avery/Komisarek/Gaborik/Armstrong talk going into tonight's game, the only true revenge would be to do exactly what they did - win. Win for themselves. Win for their team. And win to get themselves on track, and the Leafs off of whatever track of success they've been on. 2 points. Much needed.

*Kessel had 3 shots in over 20 minutes, and was a -1 on the night. Guess we can give some credit to Marc Staal for playing the shutdown role on him. Pretty effective job.

OH and speaking of Kessel. This is horrible, but it's really funny. I saw this floating around on Twitter. Down Goes Brown has some amazing stuff, and this is one of my favorites:

Leafs Delivering Tickets



Meanwhile, in Coyote land, Petr Prucha has been scratched two games in a row, bringing horrible visions of Tom Renney to mind, and making my twitter explode in dis-satifaction. Not good for his confidence. Hope this is not a pattern, or we'll see lovable ball of fire playing in Europe next year. :(

Has It Really Been Two Years. . .

I realized once I got back and ran around like crazy for a week or so, that I'd somehow missed this anniversary. I didn't hear as much about it this year as we all did last year, but I found this really nice write up I wanted to share on Alexei Cherepanov.

"It's been two years now, and I often wonder how he would have succeeded in the NHL. Would he be playing alongside Marian Gaborik? Maybe leading a line of his own? Would he have broken any offensive records for a rookie? These are all questions, unfortunately, we will never know the answer to. The two years ago seems like it was yesterday--- it is incredible how fast time flies."

MVP Gotham

Wanted to link back to some finds from two years ago.

Hard to believe it's been two years, and still hard to believe it happened at all.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Five Things About the Rangers/Avalanche (Game 4 - 2010/2011). . .

Okay, much belated Five Things here. But we'll try to get some thoughts down here.

*Marc Staal was given the A, as voted by the coaches, at least in the absense of Vinny Prospal. I am obviously a big fan of this move. I think it shows good things to give this kind of confidence to the young guys, the important pieces of the team. And as proven by his contract, the team is buying into Marc as a key member of the team. Happy to see this, I hope he does well.

*How disheartening are Colorado's two goals in like 30 seconds? The Rangers didn't appear to play bad to start the game, but, they can't do that. Deflating. And that has just been the story for years with the Rangers. They have mental collapses at bad times. Hard to recover, especially when you aren't scoring goals...

*What happened to the goals? I mean, look, I get it. Gaborik is not there, but correct me if I'm wrong, Gaborik was not the main source of offense so far - this year. Last year - 20% of it! But this year, guys like Stepan, Fedotenko, etc. Now, granted, Stepan is young. It's not like he was going to score 3 goals every game. So he's forgiven. But I'd like to see that line and the Dubinsky/Anisimov/Callahan line spread some goals out between them. This team is not going to win if they don't score.

*The penalty kill has not been as good as it used to be. Can it really all be Drury's absence? I...don't think so. And not for not having faith that the Captain is good at that, but I just can't reach that far. Something else isn't right on the defensive side. And it shouldn't be Drury. He may be one of the top penalty killers, but as I've said before, so many have been able to do it, and do it effectively (and without breaking fingers). I'm going to watch closer next game and see what's up. No matter how pathetic the powerplay has been for years, the NYRs have had a very impressive penalty kill for years now. They can't afford, and I don't want, to see them getting away from that.

*Colorado is a good team. They were last year; I think they'll be again. Liles is having a great start to the year. And Stewart is becoming quite a player. (Glad I have him on fantasy. - As much as I hated his two goals for the sake of the game, I took them for my "other" team). Interesting to see where they net out, in the competitive Western Conference.

A few more random league thoughts tomorrow. I've been ignoring the league! Oh no!

But again, I'm really just realizing that hockey season has started. I love getting home from work and turning on XM radio and there's a game on. Any game. It's a great feeling. Hockey. I <3 it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

5 Things About Rangers/Leafs (Game 3 - 2010/2011). . .

Alright. The Rangers home opener came and went in style. What kind of style...not quite sure yet. Some thoughts...


*I know we've seen some dreadful periods in the past from the Blueshirts, especially in the second frame, but - damn - that must have been one of the all-time worst. Ron Wilson was right - the Leafs could have/should have scored a lot more the way the NYRs were skating.

*Speaking of the Leafs, I was tempted to tweet last night: So, someone told the Leafs they could play hockey - brilliant! (Or something along those lines). The Leafs, to me, in the last handful of years, were this big team. Literally, as in big. Tall, forceful, but doing very little with either. Last night, I saw that big, tall team - do something. Skate, pass, and play as a team in a way I haven't in about 8 years. Good stuff. Not for the NYRs and for the rest of the East, if it keeps up, but we all had to figure Burke had a plan. Maybe this is the year it finally takes shape a little more.

*So I spent the days leading up to the Rangers home opener dreading Drury on the first line with Gaborik. - Guess I really didn't need to worry too much about that, huh? Horrible. I like Drury the person, so I hate that he fought to come back only to go right back out, for what may be double the time. But, I can't lie, I hate that 20% of last year's goals went out of the game with him in Gaborik. Horrible. I hope they both recover quickly - Gaborik super quickly. I can't remember walking out of a home opener feeling so disappointed in a long time.

*Without two players, the fact that the Rangers made it a game in the 3rd period was a credit to them, if a small credit. Doesn't make up for sleepwalking through the second. Doesn't make up for the stupid mistakes. Toronto may be a good team, but...anyway. Credit for the night goes to Brian Boyle - a marvelous effort for him and another example (like half of Toronto) of guys who are big/tall and can learn to use their size. So happy for him that he is. Vital for his place on the team, but a guy we like to cheer for in our own right. Number two on this list of credit - Sean Avery. Not a perfect game from Sean, surely, but one of the more visible Rangers for sure. He's got to keep this momentum up. He's too important, especially now with all the injuries depleting the team.

*Finally a question. Where did the offense go? The team leading in offense in the league going in, mustered what, like, 9 shots through two periods? If Boyle didn't have an offensive show for the ages, and the Rangers come back in the 3rd to make it a more respectible total and - quite honestly - steal a point, that may have just been one of the worst offensive efforts I've seen in a while. True, Toronto may have a goalie right now in Giguere, but he wasn't tested. I'd say nearly enough, but I mean at all. The Rangers are not defensively strong enough to win 2-1, 1-0 games anymore. They are going to have to win the 6-3, 5-2 way. But to do that, you need to score goals. Simple as that.

Alright, another game come and gone. Rangers look middle of the road right now. I'll be curious to see how they do Monday against the Avs, and in facing Toronto two more times real soon on the schedule. They have some pieces, and I still do really like this team - but last night was not endearing. I'm not going to lie and pretend in any way that it was.

Monday, October 11, 2010

5 Things About Rangers/Islanders (Game 2 - 2010/2011). . .

Welcome back! =)

Before I get to any of the Coyotes/Prague stuff (which I will) just wanted to start with some comments on today's NYRs game. I was not able to see Saturdays. Sounded like a fantastic game. And as upset I couldn't see Stepan's amazing performance live - simply thrilled for the kid. He has been impressive and this is only the beginning. Great stuff.

Meanwhile, there was a game on the Island today. I just finished watching in its entirety, hence the delay.


* Again, I didn't see Game 1 of the season, but both Callahan and Dubinsky looked much improved to me in today's game. Untimely penalties aside, of course. These two players need to be two of the team's most important. I saw almost indifferent play (indifference, Callahan? I know, I didn't think it possible either), from both in most of the pre-season that I saw. Glad to see they've stepped up a bit. Everyone else was doing so and proving themselves; these staples to the team had no choice but to do the same.

* I thought the team, for the majority of the game, passed well. After so many years of watching a collection of epic lack of connective passes, this team has a good sense of where their teammates are, and I'm liking what I'm seeing. We all know Gaborik can stickhandle with the best of them, but how nice to see, for example, the connection formed between Stepan, Avery, and Fedotenko. Three guys in serious question going into camp about where they stood. Three guys that in the pre-season and today's game that I feel really good about. Stepan needs some form of stability because he's a rookie. Avery needs some form of stability because, well, he's Avery. Good things all around.

* Speaking of Avery. I was on twitter earlier and desperately wanting to see the link everyone was posting. I just now watched after the game was over. Look. I never loved what Avery did two years ago. It was certainly not necessary and certainly distasteful. But I was clear in defending the fact that he is not a criminal, not a villian - any more than the anyone else in this league - and that his suspension was in my opinion both excessive and unnecesssary and certainly having to do more with who he was than what he did. I still don't doubt that. So we take Wisniewski. Crude - yes. Unnecessary - probably. Worth six games - no. Worth anger management - certainly no. But, for the league to do nothing would be wrong. If Avery's remarks were crude, hurtful to Dion Phaneuf and his girlfriend, and unbecoming an NHL player, how can the NHL disciplinarians look at what happened today and say that Wisniewski's actions were not a) crude and b) unbecoming an NHL player. To me that's clear as day. So I'll be very curious how this shakes out. The NHL has already looked foolish in their a) suspending Avery so harshly in the first place and b) being so biasedly unwelcoming in his return to the NHL later that season. If they make no example of this, they pretty much prove what we already know - do what you want in this league, just as long as your name isn't Sean Avery.

* A shame that the Rangers took those untimely penalties late in the third that allowed the game to get away. And a shame that it was Marc Staal, arguably the Rangers best 5-3 penalty killer (next to Hank) that was in the box for the high-sticking call. Still doubting how valuable he is? I'm not saying the Islanders don't score on the PP there, but I'm kind betting they don't score twice.

* Speaking of the defense, how beautiful is it to see the shots coming from the point, like evidenced in Girardi's and Del Zotto's goal. The Rangers have the guys that can do this (Staal hit a post in the game, and Rozsival has been known to hit the net from time to, well, time). They have to do it. I see this team being more offensive than last year, but it has to come from the defense. The NYRs started last season getting those contributions, and then it disappeared for most of the year. It can't happen. Look at successful teams, and know, it can't happen.

What can I say - I like this team. I - for the first time in a what seems like a really, really long time - like pretty much every person on this team. So far they've looked good, shown good work ethic, quickness to the puck. I like it - a lot. I like them - a lot.

But, point is, let's not get ahead of ourselves. One, because two games never does a season make. Obviously. And two, because, for the last two years the Rangers, too, have started the season well - amazingly well. And, then proceeded to stumble and flounder and go up/down, up/down, up/getting the picture here...? So, it's early. It's still early.

More on the NYRs when I get around to watching Saturday's game on Tivo, or when the league makes a comment on today's gesture of the moment. And more sometime this week/weekend on Yotes as promised.

=) Happy Hockey season everyone!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

2010-2011 Eastern AND Western Predictions. . .

Alright, for the first time ever, I may just be quick and to the point. No time to think, no time to write, but I have a rule - you have to predict finished standings before the season officially starts and since I won't be here later this week - well, I think you get where I am going with this...

Eastern Predictions:
1) Washington
2) Pittsburgh
3) Buffalo
4) Ottawa
5) New Jersey
6) Boston
7) Flyers
8) Rangers
9) Tampa Bay
10) Montreal
11) Carolina
12) Atlanta
13) Toronto
14) Florida
15) Islanders

Western Predictions:
2)San Jose
6)Los Angeles
8)St. Louis
9) Nashville
15) Edmonton

(Note: Only the top 8 count per conference for official purposes. But hell, if I ever were to get them right, like I'd argue?).

For the record - really wasn't sure I'd make NYRs a playoff team - but I feel so much better about them than I did a few weeks ago, so what the heck...;)

And who knows, maybe my doing this on the fly will mean I'm better than usual with this? Eh, or not.

Coming before the Rangers and Coyotes home openers - previews of those teams and what I'm looking forward to around the league in this 2010-2011 season!

**Natural Hat Trick Productions will be out of blog-o-sphere for a week. And looking forward to some great hockey when I return! Everyone enjoy! Hockey is FINALLY here!!!**

Monday, September 27, 2010

Help Me Out Here / Pre-Season Edition. . .

Alright, going to throw some stuff down here and see where we net out. I'm confused, Rangers fans. See if you can help me make sense of it all....

So, say our defense are among:
Del Zotto


And our centers are among:


And therefore our wingers are among:

Not. Really. Fine.

In the case of wingers, am I the only one not seeing how one of the above, except Boogaard, should not be every day player on the team?

I'm taking it Boogaard, despite the contract - (but, well, who agreed with that besides Glennie boy?) - will not play every night. A thought I've always had, but I could be wrong, of course. But when a guy like Prust can fight, and skate, and score more than a goal a year - to me, Boogaard is not needed versus every team.

Therefore, my question is when Drury comes back, and Boogaard needs to play because it's Philly...just who sits for him??

I starred the players I don't think will be sitting. That leaves Prospal, Prust, and Avery.

Take 'em one by one:

Prospal, even though older and perhaps more prone to injury, was the team's alternate captain last year and their second leading scorer. This guy was vital to the team moral and frankly to the score sheet. Unless he resorts to the one year great, next year not so great pattern he has been known for in the past, I don't see how you bench him.

Prust was one of my favorite players since he came to New York. Spunky, hard-working, a good team guy, and deeply underrated as a player. He was not just a fighter - he skated, played, and scored better than many during the final month of the season. Above all, he worked hard and exhibited an enthusiasm and work ethic too few Rangers have shown in the last decade, so I don't know what message it sends if you bench him.

Avery. What can you say about Avery. If Avery is Avery, true AVERY - electric, cunning, quick, and smart - he is as vital to this team as almost anyone. We've seen it since he came to New York. We saw it on Saturday versus New Jersey. If he's not that guy, yes, then he should be on the bench. But if he is THAT guy that Rangers fans embrace and need and want, I don't see how you bench someone with such heart.

So, Rangers fans, - just what the heck does this team do???

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Thoughts on Pre-Season Games 2 and 3. . .

How wonderful has it been having some hockey to watch? Two games, one weekend. I was a pretty happy hockey fan, I won't lie.

Some thoughts:

*Am I the only one VERY excited for every NJ/NY matchup, even beyond normal excitement, because I think Avery/Kovalchuk is going to be worth the price of admission every time. He may have a $100 million dollar contract, but something tells me that Ilya has not quite gotten over Playoffs 2007.

*I'm excited having watched these new players the last few games: Frolov and Stepan. And these returning players: Del Zotto, Anisimov, and Boyle, who looks much improved. (Gaborik and Staal are always on my excited to see them play list). Overall, I think having levels of competition for spots is playing into the Rangers favor. I like what I've seen. These guys look ready to play.

*Without repeating everything I wrote about two entries ago, let me just say this. The Rangers finally have that depth at center. They are going to be turning centers away. I know Drury hasn't been playing center. (Yes, I know, the $7 million penalty killer who is not even able to play his natural position...) But it seems a shame to me, even now, three games into camp, to send down another winger in favor of Drury. Did you see Frolov and Anisimov on the penalty kill today versus Detroit? I think he's a nice guy, but tell me the team REALLY needs him?

*Tell me that Roszival didn't suddenly jump to the most useful of the three horifically overpriced salaries the Rangers haven't gotten rid of yet? (Au revoir Scotty Gomez and Bon Voyage Wade Redden). This may seem wrong and it may be wrong, but if Rozsival plays the way he did for half of last season - he is more useful to the team, even at $5 million, than Drury, if what he did last year is what we are to expect from him. Clean slate, notwithstanding.

Okay, before I get further into the bash-Captain Mumbles mode, I'll leave off. Not a bad guy, but now that Gomez AND Redden are gone, without a doubt, the guy that - to me - has to do the most to justify his being there. (There, I said it; don't hate me.)

More later in the week. Go Rangers! =)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Belated Thoughts on 1st Pre-season Game and...Redden...

Before we get to the news of today, let's get to the news of Thursday night.

I didn't get to see as much of the game as I wanted to - would have liked to spend more time studying the new guys like Zuccarello and Stepan - but what I saw, I liked. I liked the way the team looked, even if it was just pre-season. Even if it wasn't a Hall of Fame goalie the Rangers faced in net for NJ.

Oh wait, that was future Hall of Famer Brodeur?

Then just how nice were those goals by Frolov and Boyle huh? I loved that!!

Overall though, Stepan played with poise and looked quite comfortable in his role with top players - Frolov and Gaborik. In my mind, if he's good enough and almost close enough - let him do it. We may just be lucky enough to have that good a talent that young. (Makes me all the more mad we have to make room for Drury when he comes back - see last post - but it makes me all the more happy we have a guy like Stepan on the way).

Boyle had a good game, and showed two sides of his game: ability to step in and fight, and ability to use his body to gain position. His goal was actually pretty sweet. Brodeur wasn't given a ton of help from defense - it seemed at times - but, he was beaten by Boyle here, and Frolov, and both were very nice goals.

Frolov made a nice first impression, Gaborik (2 goals including Game Winner) picked up right where he left off. Prust had a very nice fight. Staal played almost 30 minutes in the game - what else is new?

Very happy, and very excited hockey is back!!


It'll be said a hundred times today about Redden:

Well deserved!
About time!
Thank goodness!

Redden needed to go to Hartford, this year, if not last year. It was too much money to tie up in one player that was certainly not worth it now, was maybe never worth it. We expected it would happen, but we weren't sure it would. Although given the math, we didn't see how it could possibly not happen. This morning, it finally did.

And many such variations.

However, I don't think many people will be saying this, so I will:

While it is Wade Reddens' responsibility that he's not playing up to his contract, - it is NOT his responsibility that it was given to him. He didn't ask for the $39 million Sather threw at him, undeservingly though it may be. No one would ever have expected him not to take it.

So while everyone is happy today that he has finally been waived, the NYRs can finally move on, a small part of me feels bad for Redden the person. He did what almost every human being would do - took what was given to him. And now, his life will change because of something he never really had control of.

I know that's business, and I know that's life, but a small part of me feels for the guy beyond the athlete and beyond the Ranger.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Drury on the PK = Ouch!. . .

Hello Rangers Fans!

Like many of you, I've been eagerly grabbing up tweets from training camp. Anything written is proof that the season is, thankfully, upon us.



So today, among the tweets was that the captain, Captain Drury that is, had broken his finger blocking a shot.


No, and I don't mean seriously as in no way!, how? - How In The World Could That Ever Happen!? - because, well, let's face it; I know better.

Chris Drury, the Rangers overpriced captain and penalty-killer extraordinaire, - too much? Well, what am I supposed to put here... - well, he tends to do this often. If it's not breaking something, it's getting hit, falling, wincing in pain, and hobbling/stumbling/crawling to the bench.

And we applaud because, well, he's a good guy, and that's what he gets paid to do.

Not the hurting himself part, but the penalty killing part.

Blair Betts, Lauri Korpikoski, Jed Ortmeyer, Brian Leetch, Jeff Beukaboom and every other Rangers penalty killer from present day back through history - they never seemed to have a problem with this.

And yet, on an almost regular basis, Drury does.

Silly, isn't it?

I'm not stupid enough to wonder why he still penalty kills - okay, seriously, maybe I am. Really now, I know he has to because, well, what else is he going to do.

He's not going to skate fast.
He's not going to be effective on the powerplay.
He's not going to score 70, 60...or if last year is any indication...even 40 points.

He's going to block shots.

And probably with his hand.



Look, Drury is a good guy, a good team guy, and many would argue a good captain. I'm not his biggest fan. If you've been reading here, that's no secret.

So for one minute when I read he got hurt, I wasn't upset. (Please note, I really don't like players getting hurt, so that's not what I'm getting at here).

But for that one minute I thought, gee, well, someone else will get a chance. Someone that may score goals, may set up teammates, may - gasp - justify his existence on the ice with more than just a once-a-year emotional outburst and a nightly insomnia-worthy in-game interview.

Yeah, and then I woke up and realized no matter who takes his place, no matter how good they may be, no matter how they fit with their linesmates, no matter how many points they score - when Drury's ouchie gets better, he'll be back and they'll get the bench, the press box, or Hartford.

Because you:

a) can't bench your captain.
b) can't bench a guy making the over $7 million a year. (Unless you have a really, REALLY good reason for it).

Which, yes, is part of the game, and part of the business. But it's still kind of a shame though, isn't it?

So with that, Captain Mumbles, get well soon. Because, honestly - it probably doesn't make that much of a difference anyway...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Last Staaling...The Boy Has Signed!...

Marc Staal has officially signed with the New York Rangers - a nice, 5-year contract! Very happy day here at Natural Hat Trick Productions.

With that, here is one final video - Marc Staal's Greatest Hits:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Late Holiday Staaling Edition. . .

I've been a bit awol from Staaling and the computer in general. But in the meantime, to make up for the last five days, all four Staal brothers again - from Thunder Bay. Enjoy and hope everyone had a good Labor/Labour Day! #SignStaal!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Staaling - Bauer Profile. . .

And for something a little different:

It's September already Sign Staal!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Staaling - Was that Brian Leetch. . .?

Commentary is actually pretty ironic, here. Say defense needs more shots. And Marc Staal steps up. His 3rd goal in 3 straight games. And what a beauty:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Staaling - Revenge Edition. . .

Now who doesn't love this goal by Marc Staal?! After Game 3 did not go as planned (the game winning goal for New Jersey going in courtesy Marc's skate), it was this Staal brother who got almost instant payback against Brodeur and the Devils in Game 4. Check it out:

Delayed Weekend Staaling. . .

Well since I essentially slept through three days of the weekend and missed individual Staaling segments, maybe this will count. A video with more than ONE Staal brother! In fact - you get all four! A funny video, for sure:

Sign Staal!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Still Staaling. . .

No Marc signing = another video of my favorite Staal brother.

Now, I normally wouldn't post Devils broadcasts, but in this one, Chico somehow was gracious to the Rangers and complimentary of the play. (I know, I was suprised too). Enjoy Marc's first NHL goal. How awesome that it was against Brodeur. =)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When It's Been a Month Since You've Posted...

...you should probably get a new hobby! Or...realize it's summer.

A thousand apologies (and no one cares, I know), so I won't list excuses. I have every bit of hope, confidence, etc, that come the season I'll be in better state to update more frequently. Until then, it just may have been the busiest summer at work ever. I suddently got more responsibility, but that left little time for anything else, like sleeping, and breathing. I haven't listened to sports radio in 3 weeks!! (Falling apart slowly...) Wait, I know, I said no excuses. Anyway, I sincerely hope to and promise to be better.


So today I was reading my copy of The Hockey News Yearbook. Vital because a) it rocks and b) there was so much random player movement, I'm going to need to keep that near me until December to keep straight all these 3rd and 4th liners and where they are.

Anyway - it's August 25th, just less than a month to pre-season hocke, and I'm saying now, before having seen anything, I think the Rangers would be hard-pressed to make the playoffs. Stranger things happen, and they sure do, but the Rangers - good, bad, or indifferent - have a much stronger East to compete with. They just do. That, and their own inconsistencies, may prove too much to handle.

But that, ladies and gentlemen, are why they play the games. Why we watch. And why we are fans.

Now, it's August 25th, and the NYRs still haven't signed Marc Staal. I know, I know, I'm sure it'll get worked out. But how good will I feel on that day when I open Twitter, or turn on XM radio, and find out my favorite current Blueshirt has re-signed with my favorite team? VERY VERY VERY HAPPY!

Why? Because I still think he's worth it. Seriously, even if you are a Dan Girardi fan, you can't tell me Marc Staal shouldn't be asking for more money than him? Right! By the NYRS giving Dan Girardi 3.325 million, Staal's price easily hopped up to $4 million at least. Easily.

But...what can you do? Me, nothing. Except wait and hope and, oh yeah, post fun Staal videos each day until he's signed!!

Here's a personal favorite:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Charity Call-Out - Pancreatic Cancer....

Mike Komisarek and I come from similar back-grounds in that we have similiar ethnic backgrounds, and have had close family members that have battled cancer. I can do no more and no less than to give support to his cause here:


Please support Pancreatic Cancer research.

More soon, more eventually...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Brief Thoughts Post Tums&Tylenol Day. . .

Yes, brief. Because no time whatsoever this morning...

The Good:

I like Biron. And I think if he and Benoit, les francophones, can be on the same page, that is a good thing for the team. He was an above average goalie.I think he can get back there. And he's a very good guy.

Christensen and Prospal returning. Prospal - due for a bad year in the good/year bad/year return, may just buck the trend because he's comfortable. And as I stated on Twitter yesterday, his bad is better than most of our teams good, so... As for Christensen - was I thrilled when he didn't take the first offer, no. Do I get it, yes. Kinda like Dubinsky...it's a situation,in my mind, where as a player you see the outrageous contracts the NYRs have handed out. You're smart enough to know you are not getting something outrageous. But if you aren't the guy making $7 million but you are the ONLY guy that seems to be able to play with your superstar Gaborik, I can kinda see why he'd want a little more $. I can. Glad they are back.

The Bad:

I don't want to try to pretend that the Boogaard thing bothers me like the Brashear thing did exactly one year ago. But...it isn't a good thing. To me, it's like you had Orr, that wasn't offensive, you got rid of him for Brashear, who was??, and paid him more. That worked splendidly. You have Shelley, who was more offensive than 95% of the team during the home stretch, who is a really good locker room guy (and in this locker room, yes that IS important), but you let him go to Philly to sign this guy from Minny - and at upwards of $1.6 a year! It feels to me like doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same result. Insanity?

The only benefit here is it's not insulting, like the Brashear move was. I have no problem with Boogaard as a player. I just think that on a team that overpays for players who have one or minimal roles, a guy that will not score, not contribute to that in any way, to pay him so much to defend Hank, may be a lot of money. We'll see how it goes. We have four years.

Around the League:

So upset Z. Michalek went to the Penguins. (Meanwhile as I groaned about the NYRs yesterday, adoptive team took a few body blows). One, because I do think he's a great player. Two, because we all know how I feel about Pittsburgh. They just got much better.

Nothing else surprised me too much. It'll take me til November to realize what goalie plays for what team - a yearly task in fun.

But before I go, a comment on Malhotra, who took a lot of heat for his contract in Vancouver. 3 years, 2.5ish per year, NMC. I'm with everyone, I don't get the no movement. (I mean I understand why Manny'd want it after being on his 3 team in 3 years. I don't know why they'd give it.)

But here's why I think the contract is more fair that people thing. He's not overly offensive, true (although I'd take 14 goals from anyone on my 3rd or 4th line)... but it's everything else. 60+% faceoff winning percentage. If this guy is not tops in the league, he's always top three. That makes whatever team he's on, top 5 in faceoffs in the league on a consistent basis. May not mean much to the Rangers, but on a normal team, that is vital. He's the guy taking defensive draws in important moments. He's the guy PKing. He's the guy that even though he played mostly 3rd and 4th line with Columbus, also played with Rick Nash during one of the better portions of his playing time two years ago. Last year, I think we saw how vital he was in San Jose. He was +17. He was durable. They looked to him.

Again, not the flashy look-at-me model, but the I get things done.

The NYRs are paying Drury $7.05 million a year to win less faceoffs, score just as many goals (14), and be just as effective a penalty killer. And for 5 years.

Is $2.5 for 3 years for someone so dependable really that outrageous?

This isn't a knock Drury fest. Again, he has intangibles, because goodness knows it isn't his speed or scoring abililty he's getting paid for.

But I think, in my opinion, Manny is just as valuable to his own team as Drury is here.

Just my thought.

*Heading out of computer range. No more blogs. Will follow weekend on Twitter. I hope that I read Kovalchuk goes out West. And that the NYRs have buttoned up Staal to a nice, fair offer.

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thoughts on the Eve of Tums & Tylenol Day. . .

Dubbed three years ago by yours truly as Tums & Tylenol Day (seriously, they should be sponsors, no?), Free Agency Day is a day of much excitement for many, yet for many Rangers fans, much dread as well. Why you ask? Look no further than the Gomez/Drury, Redden/Rozsival tandems that have worked oh so well in the recent past...


Alright...this will be short and making no guarantees of sweet. ;)

Tomorrow can be happy, successful if:

NYRs don't trade away any of the guys that have been good to them, good for

NYRs sign a backup goalie. I was fine with Auld. Have always had high
respect for Hedberg. Big fan of Biron too.

NYRs don't follow past Sather patterns and trade anyone - good, bad, or
indifferent - in order to, or sign anyone in general, that offers a cap hit
of significant proportions or a term of more than a couple/few years.

NYRs sign a center that does not go against any of the above. And it
wouldn't hurt if he could win a faceoff now and again. Oh and not make $7 million a year....

That's pretty much it. This team is not good enough to go for the world,
not bad enough to blow it all up. So even if they do nothing tomorrow...I'm
happy! To be honest...we all are.

So let's reiterate:

No big contracts people don't deserve.

No getting rid of our youth.

None of it!

And if Shelley, Prust, Christensen (a little confused w/actions today, I'll be honest) can be kept - go to it!

But most important is keeping Marc Staal, your BEST defenseman, happy, and, oh yeah, on the team!

That is all. Happy Tums & Tylenol day everyone! Enjoy the madness!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why I'll Hurt Glen Sather if Marc Staal Is Not In Ranger Blue Next Year. . .

Where to begin? Well, I think I'll begin with the following quote from the comments area on the Puck Daddy post I just read:

"How much did Sather give Redden and Rosival? The only chasm is between Sather's ears." (Tony)

It made me laugh really hard...until I stopped because it made me want to cry instead.

Oh Glennie Fisher Price Sather - what ARE you thinking?


Look, no secret here, I'm a huge Marc Staal fan. (See, the photo!). And not just because he's a Staal, or I've always had appreciation for defensemen. And actually not just because he's one of the best players on this team and arguably one of the best defensmen the Rangers have seen since...

Anyway, not just because that. Because the kid is good. The kid has gotten better and will continue to get better. The kid does what he's told. The kid takes direction well. The kid goes into any given season wanting to get better, wanting to add new facets to his game. The kid promises to work hard to play well, learn, and improve his game. And the kid keeps his promises - to himself and to his team.

(Which, sadly, in contrast, we know all too many players do not.)

I wouldn't want to see this player go anywhere for any reason. He's vital to our team now and I believe he'll be vital for the next decade plus.

But to know the reason he's a) having problems with negotiations, b) potentially being low-balled in his offer is because a) the GM is an idiot and b) the GM has given all the team's money to other idiots - well, that will drive me crazy to no end.

The Redden and Rozsival contracts suck and they suck the life from this team. Sather may be the only one who didn't know what when he extended them 2 summers ago. (Cause goodness knows myself and the rest of the hockey world did). And they sucked, not just for the money, but for the length of term.

It was said, if those contracts didn't screw the Rangers in 2008-2009, they'd come back to haunt them in a year and for years to come.

Well, welcome to the future here.


Sather has made dumb moves (see above and add Drury, Gomez, etc, etc, to the list) over the years. But the only thing dumber than him making another pointless, crazy high-priced free agent signing, - would be his not properly taking care of the guys already playing on his team.

The guys that want to be Rangers.
The guys that deserve to be Rangers.
The guys that play like they get what those two things mean.

The guys like Marc Staal.

He may not be perfect, and he may still have room to grow, but the kid, at 23, looks like the best defenseman this team has had in...forever.

Rangers fans know - know! - this team can't afford to screw over the few, precious players that "get it" and play like they "get it."

Some players, who will remain nameless, - (I'll let you think of your own examples here) - never got it. They accepted the money, continued to accept the money, but never played well here because they a) couldn't handle New York or b) didn't even bother to try so long as they were getting paid.

It's been too precious few that have gotten what it means to Be A Ranger!, to play in New York, to earn the right to wear the jersey and to realize that it was (or at least it damn well should be) a priviledge. Too few.

And unless Sather can swallow his pride on the Redden thing, stop making stupid moronic, mathmatically incompetent decisons, and keep the few players on the Rangers who are worth their money around - we'll be forced to watch the same thing over and over, season after long season.

Marc Staal was and is an example of refreshing, home-grown change. I hope - I hope! - Sather realizes he can't be a) moronic, b) cheap, c) insulting, here.

I hope - I hope! - he ponies up to pay one of our best players, umm, like he's one of our best players.

Hmm. What a novel concept.

Friday, June 25, 2010

And The 2010 NHL Entry Draft Random Thoughts Are. . .

And now, some post 2010 NHL Entry Draft Thoughts:

Bettman being booed. Such a lovely sound. So comforting in it's familiarity.

The only point he had is not an original one, but a good one nonetheless. Amazing how many hockey programs there are now in California, through the three NHL teams and otherwise. Such a great thing to see. And who would have thought before The Great One went to the Kings it would have been possible. Sometimes that's all it takes...

Onto the Draft - -

**So Taylor or Tyler ends with Taylor Hall going #1 to Edmonton. A Flames fan growing up, he said he is now 100% an Oilers fan. I mean of course, and he means it. But makes me wonder how it is to be a hockey prospect and just have to give all that up. Gladly, of course. Because you become a member of the team. I guess you have to be that way. And if you happen to get drafted by your team, it's rare. That's why the Jordan Eberle and Matt Duchene stories were extra special.

**The story on the father of Florida's pick Erik Gudbranson was a good one. Says he will wear whatever jersey of whatever team his son ends up playing for. But he'll wear his Habs jersey underneath, because that's the only jersey he'll let touch his skin. Heavy! Those are Montreal fans, peole. Now Erik "did his research" and wanted to go to Florida. Amazing how Tallon has made this a place to want to go to. (Again, I always root for them!). And great story about his brother overcoming leukimia. I like this kid a lot. Very well spoken. My favorite of the first round by far.

**Brett Connolly got his hand in a gate. Ouch. Must have taken perserverance to get back from that. One question. He says he's ecstatic? He's the least estatic looking person I've ever seen!

**Jeffery Skinner. Happy kid. good personality, self depreciating. And a former figure skater. Good stuff!

**Okay, so the Russian kid that the Thrashers took - Burmistrov. TSN graphic said he was comparable to Scott Gomez. Seriously, that's still something people WANT to hear? Or should that be taken as a warning?

**Time for the Wild. His son is here, but oh too bad Cliff Fletcher wasn't here yet. We so loved our talks in year's past. Oh wait, lucky us! - got him on the phone just now.

"Hello Cliff?"
"What month is it?"
"Month, Cliff, it's June. We're at the NHL Entry Draft."
"Wait a minute, who did I call? What is this ringing sound?"
"Phone's done ringing, Cliff. And we called you. How are you doing?"
"Umm, good. Why you ask?"
"Cliff, buddy, just checking in. I thought you guys had an early pick this year...eh, but I could have been wrong."
"What are you getting at?"
"Nothing. Nothing at all. Tyler Seguin looks good in black and gold, doesn't he?"

Guess the phone conversations don't roll as smoothly as the TV interviews do, huh? We'll get you next year, Cliff.

**Love Minny's jersey. Not a lot of green in NHL uniforms. (Why is that by the way?) But nice. Reminds me of the scripted Anaheim in purple, before they went to the ugly orange uniforms. No offense, but not a fan of their uniforms. (Oh, maybe I'll make another promise to do another random jersey blog someetime THIS summmer. Oh me and promises....)

**Okay hold the phone (No, not you Cliff!). What the heck did the Rangers do? OH what else is new? @TonyMarinaro called them brain dead. Yeah, probably true.

I get that they may have wanted to do something, um, creative. And that they'd want a stay at home, big d-man. But as I wrote on twitter (NHTProductions)...do they think he'll be Jeff Beukeboom? If so - great! But do they really?

I just get concerned when the TSN panel say things like "doesn't have a lot of skill" and "doesn't make quick decisions." You know, things that are not AT ALL vital to hockey. And when they are completely dumbfounded. All of them. That always makes me feel good.

Oh NYRs, you make it fun. You do make it oh so much fun.

(Meaning of fun here is up for debate, of course).

**So Bobby Ryan used to babysit Beau Bennett when he was nine. Awe! And apparently a good pianist as well. Pretty good speaker too.


Overall, not as enthused by this year's draft as last year. I want more interviews with players! I want to see them talk, because, as NYR fans know, we may never see these kids play for us. (Hugh...) Give them their moment.

In other thoughts, it's interesting to me how much the NBA and NHL Drafts differ. At the NHL, the GMs or Scouts or Team Operations guys make the announcement, where at the NBA Draft it is David Stern every time. (I guess that works for the leagues respectively. We know it'd be all boo-ing if Bettman were up there that much.) The set up in general is different too as NBA green rooms are hidden while NHL tables are all gathered in one area, front and center.

Lastly, because I'm too tired to think much more, I must say again what I've been saying the last few years. What a pleasure here in the States to get this footage now on TV. I remember all the years we didn't. And Draft was this foreign thing that we, as fans, couldn't see. Now between Twitter and TV, we're getting it all firsthand and it's wonderful. A day of such hope and dreams for these young kids. Glad I get to see it. I really am. I make an event out of it every year. Maybe next year I'll go to a Draft Party and see it with other fans. It's just really refreshing that such things are now possible. Growth of our great game.

I will be out of state tomorrow; anyone watching tomorrow's rounds - enjoy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

2010 NHL Awards - Post Show Thoughts. . .

One of my favorite nights of year. 80+ degrees. Beautiful night. And we're inside celebrating the best of the best game there is - the NHL Awards Show.

And would we have it any other way, hockey fans?

Now, the random thoughts of a random hockey fan...

* I actually like Jay Mohr. I think he's pretty funny. However, we must assume that - 70%? of the nominees - have no idea what he's talking about. Because they're European...of course.

* I consider myself above average at naming Canadian celebrities. I am pretty sure I had no idea Natasha Henstridge was among them. Points to her. And bonus points for being from Newfoundland.

* Again, not being a fan of Detroit, I lack the ability to have non-biased opinions towards the Datsyuks and Zetterbergs of the league. And as much as I hate the same player winning something over and over...I have to say, I look forward to Pavel Datsyuk making speeches because, well, he's just too damn adorable. Seriously, how cute is he, although, thankfully, his English does get better every year.

* I'm really not a fan of changing names of long standing NHL Trophys, I'll say right now. So I may be caught calling the Ted Lindsay the Lester Pearson for the next year, two, ten, twenty - old habits die hard. Regardless...

* Ovechkin won. Which is always a plus in my book. Why? Because he is dynamic, he is fun, and he is talented. No one can deny that. That being said, do you think, after the last three years of Ovechkin winning this award that a statement has been made? I mean Crosby won, and the next 3 years have been Ovechkin, regardless of the fact Crosby won hockey's holy grail last year. Ovechkin, his peers keep saying, is really - that good. Just saying...

* Meanwhile, that may have been one of the most up and down, backwards and forwards awards speeches ever given, that Ovechkin. I had never heard the story of his brother; obviously that's not new news here. But regardless, well deserved, and again, the peers are speaking here. Dynamic Alex, he is the most valuable player in the league.

* Oh good, someone from the Daily Line. The one that knows something about hockey, I hope...oh nevermind. Selfish promotion. Guy has no clue, and to be honest, jokes were not funny.

* Why does the NHL not do more of the skits like the Ryan [Getzlaf], [Bobby] Ryan variety. Hilarious. And showcases one of the many reasons we love hockey and its players...they are human, and they are damn funny. Great stuff! Getzlaf with his backwards cap. Poor Bobby Ryan getting no love, but yet, Jersey represent. I repeat - great stuff. We need more of this!

* As much as I sometimes loathe Sidney Crosby facetime...because, honestly Sid...loosen up a bit - I love Stamkos face time. He's so refreshing. You know, just like vanilla, which I've heard, he loves, even though he, umm, isn't vanilla in personality, you know. ;)

* And who had the time on when the first Ghost Whisperer connection joke would happen? Oh wait, I'm the only one that watches the show. Too bad. Good stuff.

* Funny that Brodeur, Bryzgalov, and Miller all wear #30. And which #30 would win? The Canadian? The Russian? Nope. The American! Big fan of Ryan Miller and not, NOT!, just because of the fantasy points he's garnered me over the last few years (although thank you for that Ryan). Because he's one of the good guys. And good goalies. Well deserved Vezina there. And good speech too.

* I pause to thank the NHL Awards show for showing the bestest commercial ever...you know, the one that features Pete in a goal celebration hug with his teammates. Thank you fans...THANK YOU NHL!!

* I love the Masterton Trophy for these moments. Had to tear up for Jose Theodore. Did a great job speaking of something that is obviously very difficult. Thoughts are with him. On more personal notes, watched the injury to Kurtis Foster, and what he did takes guts and perserverance. And as a HUGE Jed Ortmeyer fan, major props to him. Many others would have turned it in, but he wants everything to be on his terms. One of my favorite Rangers, and favorite hockey players. They get it. They all get it.

* We <3 Shane Doan. Why? He may have been humble - as he always is - but Shane Doan is one heck of a leader, one heck of a captain, and one heck of a human being. Hats off to Shane Doan here. A very deserving King Clancy Award winner, and one of my favorite captains. A great guy. Who doesn't <3 Shane Doan?

* Well, there you have it folks. Not an awards show complete without a highlight reel image of a New York Ranger...looking foolish. Thank you Michal Rozsival.

* Few people probably know who the guy who awarded the Lady Byng Trophy was. I am all too familiar. Let's give it up for Kevin Zegers...the kid from Air Bud. Ontario native and huge Leafs fan. It's nice they let real hockey fans present at these award shows, no? You could tell, he was thrilled to be on stage with Martin St. Louis.

* Speaking of Marty...I still don't get the Lady Byng. And not for reasons you may think. It's just that - these guys are awarded for being great players and taking like, what, 6 penalties a year. Look, I'm a Rangers fan. Most of these guys take 6 penalties in a weekend home and home. So I am fundamentally unable to process, yet I admire from afar. Marty had a good speech too. Christmas cards to the refs, courtesy Brad Richards. Be home for dinner tomorrow. Good stuff.

* The night was going so well until...well. Look. We all knew Crosby had to win something. Because well...yeah. It's just painful to have him stand next to Messier. It is for me. At least he said he looked up to him for his leadership, for a moment. You know, until he went on to Yzerman. I beg to state the obvious here. Crosby, were you even alive when Messier was doing his thing in Edmonton? Yeah, not really. Just saying...

* JR said we'd all cry if we were stuck with Mike Milbury for 4 hours in a row...Well, you know, he has a point there.

* As much as we all respect Nick Lidstrom - and if we don't, we should - it is nice to see a new crop of players being honored with nominations for the Norris. All well deserving and names we'll see for years. Duncan Keith, wonderful to see. "Keep your hands off, Ovie." Oh sigh. Just a shame that they cut off his speech. Unfair, really. What else could be so important. Congrats Duncan.

* Nice to see Miller get more recognition. I say, not as a Sabres fan, but as a Miller fan, this is a guy who gets it, who is VERY involved in the league, and in the community. He gets it. And we should embrace that and thank him. Good show for Ryan Miller. Long overdue.

* Happy Henrik (and yes I can tell them apart) Sedin won the Hart (and not, you know, just cause Crosby didn't), but because new blood. New blood. And he thanked so many wonderful people. Naslund, who again, Rangers fans didn't really get to see, but was a decade long fixture in Vancouver, and very vital to that team's growth. And of course, a personal favorite of mine in the great Trevor Linden. Good show. A shame the poor guy felt rushed to give his speech for one of the top awards, but well deserved.

So overall, a very good show. Highly entertaining. I said two years ago, when this blog started, that I felt the NHL Awards were becoming Americanized. I still, to some degree, hold to that. And it's a fact. But this year was very entertaining. Too entertaining perhaps to be held to an hour and a half. I find it slightly embarassing that they had to cut off speeches to keep the show to an hour and a half. What Goldie Hawn movie was so important that it had to air at 9pm precisely, I don't know. But overall, an enjoyable show.

As a hockey fan in the States, we've been blessed as the years go on with more coverage of the sport we love. I remember when the airing of the Awards show on a feed from the CBC is all we got, and I was so greatful. Now we get NHL Network and Draft Night coverage and I feel...overwhelmed in being so blessed. This used to be it for fans like me, a night like tonight, and now, thankfully, it is one of many nights we get to enjoy.

The point here is, something I always felt strongly about on this night, and feel tonight just as much - We are priviledged. Priviledged to call hockey our favorite sport. Priviledged to have this sport define so much of what is good in our worlds.

Things change in our lives, but hockey remains. A solid, unifying force connecting us all. Nights like this remind me of that.

As we watch Guy Lafleur and Duncan Keith, Martin St. Louis, and Dave Tippett, I am presented with the fact that there are only a select group of people that a) know who these guys are, and b) appreciate what they stand for.

I'm always humbled and proud to stand among that select group of hockey fans. So much changes from day to day, week to week, year to year. Hockey remains. I'm thankful for the one ever-changing, yet never changing, element in my life. It's a connection I feel, and a connection I embrace. I am so thankful for hockey. And so thankful for all those that feel that connection too.

We <3 hockey.

Thank you for the game we love, the best game in the world.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Charity Call-Out - PROCURE.CA Walk of Courage. . .

This month, in honor of Father's Day, just wanted to help get the word out about prostate cancer testing and early detection. Every male, age 40 and above, is encouraged to get screened for the disease. Prostate cancer is much more treatable the earlier it is detected.

Earlier today on The Randy Tieman Show (Team 990) he had former Montreal Canadien Robin Burns on to talk about PROCURE.CA, a Quebec based non-for-profit designed to raise awareness, support, and education for prostate cancer. According to Burns they've raised around $5 million in the last four years. He also pointed out it takes $1 million a year to keep one of their Biobanks (support network of hospitals, research facilities, and universities) running for a year.

Their 4th annual Walk of Courage will take place June 20, 2010, on Father's Day. The Montreal teams - Canadiens, Alouettes, and Impact - have helped support the non-for-profit and this year, former Canadien Yvan Cournoyer will act as co-president of the event.

Everyone is encouraged to join the walk, in honor of fathers, grandfathers, brothers, sons. To make a donation, register to walk, or learn more, please visit PROCURE.CA

For those living in the States, to find out more about screenings and prevention of prostate cancer, please visit The Prostate Cancer Foundation

Speaking of The Stanley Cup Playoffs and More. . .

So much for quick timely blog directly following the end of playoffs this year, huh?

Apologies aside - won't even try to make excuses - let's take a trip back and think about what a great Stanley Cup playoffs and Final we were treated to this year. It was simply fantastic. The most enjoyable I've experienced in quite a while.

My Favorite Shocking/Interesting/Amazing Moments of the Playoffs:

* Sharks made it out of the 2nd Round! It looked shaky there for a while, yes, there was an ugly game winning goal for the opposing team (courtesy Boyle and Nabokov), yes, but somehow they made it one step closer to the promised land - before getting swept by Chicago.

*Speaking of the eventual Stanley Cup Champs, they didn't look so confident in Round 1, did they? Sometimes I truly think Round 1 can be the toughest for some teams to win. How many times did Detroit barely make it out of the quarter finals only to sail the rest of the way. However, in this case, I truly feel it was a situation where no one gave Nashville any credit. Yes, the Hawks needed time to find their legs, but the Predators are a much better team than people expected.

*Speaking of teams that many knew nothing about for most of this season - the Phoenix Coyotes! Look, it didn't go the way I wanted, and perhaps the way it should have. But how wonderful was that series? Phoenix completely dominating Detroit on two national Sunday afternoon games, and the one in particular where Petr Prucha took #1 Star honors. The whole series that everyone thought Detroit would dominate. And they did dominate...Game 7. But I'd take a 7-game well fought series over a sweep any day. Regardless of how it ended too quickly, seriously now, just how wonderful was it that they were even in the playoffs.

*Speaking of how wonderful it was for a team to be in the playoffs. How nice was it to see les fabled, Les Habs, back in the playoffs and back with a surprising vengeance that perhaps no one saw coming. First knocking off the Capitals - which I think maybe .01% of all hockey fans would have predicted, maybe - and then knocking out the defending champ Penguins - in a moment that may have just ranked #1 of the entire playoffs for me, the Canadiens made a story where there quite possibly was none. That's what makes the NHL playoffs great. Key injuries should have kept them down, but big game performances by a now healthier Michael Cammalleri and a never-given-credit-until-you-need-him-and-he-carries-you Jaroslav Halak made the Habs a genuine force this spring. Some of those games that Halak had were performances for the ages. And unless you are a Leafs fan or a Bruins fan, why wouldn't you like to see that from one of hockey's storied franchises.

*Speaking of hockey's storied franchises, the New York Rangers. Oh wait. What? They didn't make the playoffs this year? Oh, silly me. I almost forgot. That other team that they played on the last afternoon of the regular season won the final necessary point in a shootout and made the playoffs instead - (and went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final!)

*Speaking of I-Still-Can't-Believe-That-Happened, how about how that Bruins/Flyers match-up in the Conference Finals panned out. I mean whether you like or dislike either team or were just a non-biased observer - what a thing to see, a team coming back from 3-0 down to win a series. Many of us weren't alive for the previous two times this happened in hockey. And given how uncommon it really is, who knows when we will see it happen again? There is a reason it's only happened now 4 times in sports, and 3 times in hockey. Simply not easy to lose that type or lead or to take it back and win. Just isn't. And as much as Rangers fans may hate the Flyers, I still say, you have to tip your cap to them in this regard. They did something special. Something 3 times in history special. 1942 Maple Leafs. 1975 New York Islanders. 2010 Philadelphia Flyers. That's how history will read.

*And speaking of History Being Made! - congratulations to the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks! We were treated to what was a highly entertaining Final, one I thoroughly enjoyed. And I enjoyed not just because it wasn't Detroit and Pittsburgh, again - although goodness knows I was thrilled this was the case - but because it had a crazy 6-5 game in Game 1, a tight 2-1 matchup in Game 2, an overtime win in Game 3, and another in Game 6 to award the Cup! Essentially a very even series. The Flyers had already made their history coming into the Final, but they couldn't overcome the 49 years of history the Blackhawks were clawing to overcome. Couldn't have asked for more and for the first time in a while it seems, I was right in predicting something - Hawks in 6!

More on the Final and what it means:

In the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup Final, it meant a couple things for our New York Rangers.

We all know that the Rangers famously held the longest Stanley Cup drought from 1940-1994 (54 years). Chicago had held the next longest - less infamous - drought from 1961-2010 (49 years). Now the Maple Leafs hold the dis-honor of longest drought from 1967-present (43 years and counting...)

With Chicago's 4th Stanley Cup, Chicago now ties the Rangers in Original-Six Cup winning mediocrity. (Les Habs lead the other way with 24, and then follows: Toronto - 13, Detroit - 11, Boston - 5). However, Chicago has 15 division championships to the Rangers 5. And considering Chicago has a much greater chance of winning the Cup this century, I'm going to give the nod to them as the more successful Original-Six franchise.

But hey, the Rangers still have Pride, Passion, AND Tradition, right?

Oh, what the heck. I'm still a fan. And I always will be. At the rate they are winning, I'll never run out of room for storing playoff and championship team merchandise, now will I? See - bright side!

And finally...

On the other bright side, I just feel this was such an entertaining playoffs and Final, and I couldn't have been happier to be a hockey fan. Everything went wonderfully (no thanks to Bettman & Co., who probably were crying when they wouldn't have Detroit and Pittsburgh again...even though ratings and merchandise sale and everything were higher this year!) and I didn't want it to end. I tried to watch as much hockey as I possibly could this year and I wanted to watch MORE. Was angry that I couldn't. And look forward to next year when I hopefully can watch even more.

From the start of the season (the Rangers happy time), to the World Juniors surprising win by the Americans over Canada, to the joy of Olympic hockey (four years sometimes seems much, much too long), to the end of the season (the Rangers scrape together and try time), and through to the final game of the Final - what an entertaining and amazing display of hockey we all enjoyed.

What more can you ask of your favorite sport? Getting to enjoy all this amazing hockey and still wanting more.

Hockey is in a great place right now, it really is. No question about it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

2010 Stanley Cup Final Prediction/Preview. . .

Well...this is it. As early as a week from tomorrow (or as late as two weeks from tomorrow) we will have our 2010 Stanley Cup champion crowned.


Well, yay from me because the Champion will not be:

a) Pittsburgh

b) Detroit

But, I'm not going to lie, the idea of it being Philadelphia raising a banner next fall does not exactly inspire warm and fuzzy feelings for a Rangers fan.

Either way, I am excited for the Final.

Not as excited as I'd be if Les Habs could have continued their "Feels like '93" drive-for-25 journey, but...

instead we have:



I will not take credit - much - for this but I did pick Philadelphia to win their division this season. So, on some level, I did think they'd be better than a team that was struggling to gain entrance to the playoffs on the last day of the season (yeah, you reading, me typing - still painful). Anyway, I thought they'd be good. Without care for major details here, just 3 seasons ago they finished the season dead last. 30th of 30. The following year they were one of the four final teams standing, before they lost to eventual runner-up Pittsburgh in the Eastern Finals. They bowed out to Pittsburgh early last year, before the Penguins,

(oh stop, I can't type that too; I'm trying to get through this).

Anyway, point is, Paul Holmgren and co must be doing something right. Teams don't go from so bad to so good without someone capable in charge do they? (Other example, please see Phoenix Coyotes, Don Maloney, Dave Tippett).

The Flyers are in the Final because they are a good team, whether we want to believe it or not, but probably more importantly, because as cliche as this is, they believed in the why not us, mentality. And hell of goalie performances (how great were Boucher and Leighton for this team? Those are great stories!) for a team that has - well quite honestly - for the last few decades had goalie situations about as stable as Glen Slather's understanding of simple math.

But I digress...



Chicago is the team that we wish would win, as Rangers fans. They are young, they are fun, and they are a pleasure to watch. In fact, my only regret (if I can name one) in watching both a West and an East coast team on such a regular basis, is that I have no real chance to watch Chicago as much as I would like to. They are a treat.

Probably one of the unique stories in sports for me, I was too young to know or appreciate the Blackhawks when they were good. In fact, the Blackhawks have not existed for me until 2008. (As some may say is true for those in Chicago as well). They've had a renaissance, part because of drafting well, and part because of the timely death of their principal owner who had many antiquated thoughts. Until three years ago this team didn't show home games on TV! Until they made the playoffs and went on a run to the Western Final last year - they had made the playoffs once in the previous nine seasons!

They, as Rangers fans may or may not know, are the only Original Six team to be less successful - if true success is measured in Stanley Cups) - than the New York Rangers themselves. Both around since the 1926 campaign, the Hawks have only lifted Lord Stanley's chalice 3 times. The Rangers, thank all that is wonderful and holy, finally won their 4th in 1994.

Interesting to note, however, the Blackhawks have won 14 division titles to the Rangers 5, and 2 conference championships to the Rangers 1. (Guess we really do know who is the most un-inspired of the Original Six, now, don't we. Sigh).

Anyway, the Blackhawks raised from the ashes on the backs of two young forwards in Kane and Toews. And they may just complete - what I would assume - is one of the greatest turnarounds in franchise history. 9 years of obscurity, to a Final 4 appearance, to a Stanley Cup appearance to....


Well we'll just have to wait and see now, won't we. ;)

Even though the Blackhawks winning would make the Rangers that much more unsuccessful, I'd like to see the Hawks do it. And not just because I really don't want to see Philadelphia win it, but because I want to see their story completed. The right way.

I want to say this will end in fewer games, but I do not want to take credit away from Philadelphia, because they've been mighty impressive.

Final Prediction: Hawks in 6!

Monday, May 24, 2010

And Your 2010 Final is....

Chicago Blackhawks and...Philadelphia Flyers.

yeah. Take a breath.

Look, I picked the Flyers to win the Division. They barely - NYR fans close your eyes/ears - made the playoffs. And yet, on for the chance to win Lord Stanley's chalice they go.

I take small, very small, solace, that the Flyers ended up where they were. I mean, because I thought they'd be a good team in the first place. Not, because, I thought they'd get there as the season rolled, or in the end. Neither.

They did. Credit them. Credit all of them. As much as we hate it. And credit Leighton. He's a good story. Injured. Back. And remarkable in the semi-Final. Credit him.

Credit too, les Habs. They did not have a good round, but I will forever be thankful for what they did last round. For taking out the Penguins, I owe them.

We all owe them for making a little history. Not a ton, but a lot. Taking out Washington, taking out Pittsburgh.



Pyatt, Lappy, Moore.

We owe them. For making a series, for making a playoffs, of what perhaps would not have been so.

Thank you Montreal. As much as I do love you in some respect, I did not, in any way, believe, that you'd be there, 3rd team remaining out of 30! No way. No way at all.

Thanks for making it remarkable.

So now, Chicago, we root for you. Because, really, as NYR fans, as much as what PHI did was remarkable, we don't really, in all honestly, think we're rooting for you! What you did was remarkable, yes, but Chicago, we root for you. Kane, Toews, Niemi, et all. We Root for YOU! Go Chicago! Go Hawks Go!


On a side note, made it to Warren tonight. Will not take it seriously that the girl in the tables in back cheered WILDLY when the FLYERS scored, despite the FACT she was wearing a HABS hat!


Good atmosphere. Had sound on. AND arguably best burgers (sliders) I have ever had.

Cheers to that!

Too bad the game did not roll the way we wished.......

Sunday, May 16, 2010

2010 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions - 3rd Round . . .

**The other blog I was writing upcoming. With best intent. I the meantime, I realized I need to get these predicts done before 3pm!**

MTL/PHI - Habs in 6. As much as I have to seriously helmet tip to Philly (come on, you really do), I'm going with the Halak, Cammalleri combo and saying Habs will win out, in continuation of one of the true miraculous playoff performances I've ever seen!

SJS/CHI - Chicago in 7. This is harder for me to predict. I honestly feel like I could have flipped a coin. Sharks have finally proven they can make a statement, and play together this playoffs. Chicago has done that already over the last two years, but will the Sharks prove too much for them this time around.

Overall, I think both series will be very evenly matched, and a hell of a ride. I'm very excited. Either team winning out West will be fine with me, be it Chicago because they are Chicago, or the Sharks because of Manny and Jed! And I'll continue to root for Les Habs here in the East.

<3ing these playoffs!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Random Hockey Thought of the Day - Is It Over For Detroit?. . .

**Please note, this was written before Game 4. I've just been without internet access for a couple days and could not post. Attribute any inconsistencies to that, or well, you know, just to me not being perfect. ;) **


I just got done reading a bunch of comments from Sharks fans, Detroit fans, non-fans, and I'm baffled. The Sharks fans are crediting their team's different play and more heart this year. The Red Wings fans are complaining that the referees are the reason their team is in a 3-0 hole after last night's third consecutive 4-3 loss in this year's Western Semi-Finals. And the non-fans are split down the middle.

Okay, maybe I'm not so baffled after all.

Look, I'll say it right here, right now. I don't like the Red Wings. It used to be a case of my not liking them because they were the anti-Rangers. An Original 6 team that did it the right way - drafting well, adding key pieces, having a system that everyone who was there or was called up knew how to follow perfectly. They did it right. As a Rangers fan, a fan of a team that seemingly could do nothing right, I hated them. As an example of what my team so clearly was not. Successful.

That dislike didn't come about right away. In 1995 I was, of course, devastated that the Red Wings got swept by the Devils and I, as a Rangers fan, had to hear for a month just how wonderful New Jersey was. I appreciated Detroit in 1997 and 1998. Again, a team that did it right. A team that had guys that I liked. Think back to 1998 and the Cup celebration with Vladimir Konstantinov and tell me that doesn't make you remember how good it once felt to watch Detroit win. I do remember that feeling. I certainly do.

But after those two Cups and even after the one in 2002, things would go on to change for me. There came a time when it seemed like the same teams were winning the Cup every year. What, wait? You mean that did happen? Sigh. Yes, it did. And I could (and maybe will another time) go on to explain how horrible a time I thought that was and how I came to dislike Colorado and NJ for the same reason, but we'll pause on that. Frankly, it just got to be too much.

And if it wasn't already too much, it certainly became too much in these recent years where it seemed like the Red Wings became the chosen team. The team that was always there, again. And even if they weren't, they should have been. They were perfect. And I get it, I get they are good. But the whole Hockeytown mentality and the NHL seemingly loving it, and literally shoving it in everyone's faces, became a lot to handle.

So I began to root, mightily, for the Red Wings to fail every year. When the Oilers knocked them out of the first round in 2006 en route to that Stanley Cup push, I was elated. When Nashville failed to do the same to them the following year, I knew it would end badly (ie; Cup for Detroit. Another year of how great everyone is). That in fact, was the only year, that I rooted for Detroit. Why? Because they were - ironically - playing the only team I wanted to see win the Cup less. Pittsburgh. And in 2009, well. I was mad at Detroit for not taking care of business for me there either.

Before I get trampled here, let me give credit. Nick Lidstrom is one of the rare, amazing talents. We may never see another exactly like him again once he retires. Steve Yzerman was someone I always highly respected, as long as they didn't refer to him as the greatest leader in the NHL, only the greatest captain. (Mark Messier had that distinction in my mind). There is nothing I can say against Detroit. Once Chelios left the team and Hasek left the NHL, I disliked no one on it. Datsyuk, Zetterberg, those are amazingly talented guys that with the exception of Selke's and Lady Byngs, will get no recognition.

That's almost ironic really. Besides Lidstrom, who on Detroit gets real, honest to goodness, credit for being so good, from the masses. And yet, Detroit, the team, the ownership, the organization gets so lauded.

Anyway, point is. Detroit is good, has always been good. A machine, if you will. No one is denying that. I'm certainly not.


However, now in 2010 we have Detroit on the brink, the 3-0 brink of elimination to San Jose. And it feels good.

Why? Honestly. It just would feel so good to see another team represent the West this year. Chicago, San Jose, Vancouver. I'll cheer for any of those teams - happily.

Does that mean Detroit is evil? Does that mean I truly hate them? No. and No. It just means I got tired of seeing the same guys do it over and over again.

And, even worse, if the fans feel some entitlement. The team is good. We get it. TRUST us, we get it. But they, for the first time, in a long time, did not have an easy road to the playoffs, let alone the Final. They made the playoffs for 19 straight years. They are never out of anything. They are arguably one of the greatest teams - collectively over the years - of NHL history and certainly the most successful of my lifetime.

I just hope another team can be better this year. I just really, really, really! need someone new to root for.

Rather than the same two teams to root against.

**Note. Obviously Detroit didn't get swept. But to expect that would have been probably too much. I'll be curious to see how tomorrow goes. Obviously you know who I'll be rooting for there.**

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Random Hockey Thought of the Day - Vancouver Canucks and What May Have Been. . .

I was listening to Team990 this morning. (On a side note, I'm still suffering through the loss of PJ Stock on the station as he was my favorite 3 hour listen every day, but who doesn't enjoy Montreal radio when the Habs are in the playoffs, surprising people and doing well?).

Anyway, Tony, the host of The Montreal Forum, said that even though he's a Habs fan, he'd want the Canucks - Canada's only other representative team - to win the Cup if the Habs got knocked out. I get it. I'm sure many people would feel the same. I'm not a full-time Habs fan or a Canadian, but I know I rooted for Calgary in 2004 and Edmonton in 2006. I mean, why not see a Cup back in Canada if the team is able to win it, right?

His reasoning was interesting though. He said he'd root for them for all they'd gone through. Luc Bourdon's motorcycle accident (two years ago this month, unbelievably so). Coach Alain Vigneault's up and down trip to the NHL. And the tragedy of Taylor Pyatt's (who noteably no longer plays for the Canucks) fiance dying last year.

Now, granted, I didn't understand the last one. While I do understand Pyatt was well liked by his teammates and I'm sure they sympathized with their friend, I'm not sure a year later that is going to be a reason. This takes nothing away from the importance of Pyatt to either the Canucks (or the Coyotes he played for this season) or the extend of the tragedy, which was extreme, but I'm still not sure I connect the two.

Regardless, it got me thinking why - even though I'd surely love to see the Hawks win a Cup. I mean unless you hate them, why wouldn't you? - I wouldn't mind if one of these years turned out to be Vancouver's year.

I'm a Rangers fan, was a Rangers fan in 1994. Obviously I wanted 1994 to go exactly as it did. The good guys won. The guys that needed to erase a 54-year curse. Magic. And it may never happen again. Especially if the last 16 years are any indication.

But, I always hoped in the back of my mind that the Canucks would get back there. Probably in the early stages of my hockey watching I assumed that they'd be right back there next year. I mean why not, right? They came as close as you could to winning it all. I'm still curious how that happens, even though we've seen it before. Ask the Florida Panthers of 1996. Sometimes you just get there and no one knows why, and you don't get close since.

If you look at the Canucks though and the years that followed (and it's worth it) it was an odd journey.

The 1995 shortened season saw the team struggle, but make the playoffs to lose in a 4 game sweep to Chicago in the 2nd Round. In 1996 their leading scorer Pavel Bure was injured early in the season, struggles continued, and the Canucks didn't make it out of Round 1. The following year, 1997, they didn't even make the playoffs. They, as Rangers fans know, ushered in the Mark Messier years in Vancouver, which as we also know, didn't really go well for either team. They made the playoffs every year after that experiment, but never made it out of the 2nd round.

Post lockout, they'd narrowly miss the playoffs in 2006, causing the team be torn apart and re-made, and the start of the Roberto Luongo Era in Vancouver. They make it to the 2nd round in 2007. They narrowly missed the playoffs again in 2008, and the great Trevor Linden retired from the NHL. In 2009, the Canucks made the playoffs, swept St. Louis, before going on to lose the heartbreaker in Game 6 to the Blackhawks and Patrick Kane's hat trick.

So, what this tells us is that, not including this year or the full lockout year, and since 1994, the Canucks made the playoffs eight out of fourteen years, but never made it out of Round 2. Never came even close to getting back to where they were in 1994. (Although besides the blip of 1997, neither did the Rangers, if we're being honest).

Just goes to show you, there really are no givens or guarantees in professional sports. You may really never get that chance again.

I think of those Canucks that I really liked, those that aren't there anymore. Legendary good guy Trevor Linden. Former Canucks turned Rangers Kirk McLean and Pavel Bure, who carried the team that playoff year. Even though those guys aren't there anymore today, I felt for them afterwards. Not many I've ever liked more than I like and respect Trevor Linden.

As for the current team, there are certain things you have to admire about them. Luongo, may not be perfect, but he's damn good at times. And he, last year when things went badly, stood up through tears to speak to the media post game. Only 2 players did. The Sedins (who I am actually pretty sure I can tell apart if I met them both face to face) are a great story. Not long ago, it was all about their contracts and how many years, and how much $$. Proving a few people wrong now, aren't they? A very well deserved Hart nomination for Henrik too. Alex Burrows, like him or hate him, is a good story, of a kid that was playing ECHL hockey years ago and is now playing alongside two of the league's best.

So, honestly, if the Canucks end up winning the Cup...I'm not disappointed. It may have just been a long time coming.

And...as we've just proven, sometimes you don't get a second chance.

**Note: This was not one of the segments I planned when I went into this season and said I had new, fun segments. You know the plan I had every intention of following unti life got in the way. We'll see how this goes. Also, major helmet tip to Sports Encyclopedia Vancouver Canucks for the info. What, you thought I remembered every single year of Canucks history over the last 16? If you did, I love you for it, but you gave me way too much credit. Great site, great info.**

Friday, April 30, 2010

Keep Your Heads Up, Coyotes. . .

So the season that was successful, ground-breaking, and franchise record
setting, came to a not-so-happy ending for the 2009-2010 Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday night.

So what.

Woah, now, don't confuse the passive attitude with non-interest or disrespect. It's

Rather I don't want in any way to disrespect the team for all they did this season. To focus on the end and not the journey, in this case, would take away from all they accomplished. (And, man, did they accomplish a lot!)

Look, we'd all be in a much better state of mind if the Yotes powerplay didn't go dry in 5 out of 7 games, if regular season Lee Stempniak didn't forget how to score in the playoffs, and if Shane Doan didn't get so seriously hurt.

But...that's not the way it rolled. Sometimes all good intentions and better teams just don't get you there.

I think the Coyotes played well, and on many nights, as well as they could have. Games 5 and 7 didn't follow that mold. Many people thought they'd go down in 4 or 5 games.

Instead a squad of young, mostly inexperienced players took the two time
consequtive Western Conference champs to 7 games.

Hell, I thought the Coyotes would win in 6 games. Felt very confident in fact. Sometimes the good, and perhaps the better, teams fall.

Just ask Washington.


Anyway, think of the positives of the playoffs.

Shane Doan got back there. True it was only for 2+ games and he was severely injured. But think back to game 1. When he was told to have fun before game 1 he said, "don't worry I will," with his trademark, glorious Doan-ish smile.

Keith Yandle took a big step towards joining the next ranks of breakout defensemen in the league. His game 1 performance was dominant. The only bad news, he won't be a silent weapon much longer. He's too good.

Matthew Lombardi and Martin Hanzal stepped up in the faceoff circle. Vital parts of this team. Hanzal, in fact, had a masterful performance, even in games the Coyotes did not play well. Guy is sometimes a little penalty prone, but he is young and learning.

Ilya Bryzgalov may not have had his best games at all moments but the guy
carried the team as best he could when the once steady, well-disciplined
defense in front of him fell. He will only grow from this. He's too good a goalie to not get the chance to experience more playoffs and improve in big games.

And Petr Prucha, the oft-scratched, rarely counted upon in do-or-die situations in the past (well, at least in New York), had the best night in his young playoff career in Game 3. A key assist on his tempo-setting first shift, a goal that undressed 6-time Norris winner Nick Lidstrom, and a well deserved first star of the game honor. All on a nationally televised game. And when their captain was injured, it was #16 that skated with Lombardi and Woltek Wolski. Think someone has gotten
their confidence back?

Anyway, I think we should focus on that. Not the powerless powerplay, not the
defensive lapses, not the things we can't control. (And that seemingly the team could not control either).

They got a taste now. They will be hungrier next year. Get the nerves out of their system now, and work to fix what they can - like the powerplay. This team will be in good shape. I'm confident.

And the cool thing about it all. They did get there. It may not have been MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, but it was mission accomplished.

A team no one thought would even contend - did. And they did all of their fans proud - the fans that have supported for years, the fans in Phoenix, and the fans from afar. They did us proud.

So bravo to them. And thank you. I don't think we'll ever forget this season in the desert. It was truly something to marvel at and there are no words to describe how happy I was and satisfied I am to have been one of the many taking their journey with them.

Thank you, 2009-2010 Phoenix Coyotes. We'll see you next season.