Wednesday, March 2, 2011

box scores, trade madeness, boo boos

Wow, five games last night ended up 1-2 (three in shoot outs, one in OT). I wonder if that is some sort of record.

As you may know, there is this thing out there called Twitter. All three of the writers here have accounts - but as I told one of my cohorts who found glee in jobbing me when I showed up on the 28th, I have my twitter for two days: Trade deadline day and Opening day of Free Agent hunting season (every now and again, I look around and find a gem.... green gun, green knife, green something. [don't worry if that doesn't make sense, Nutmeg and I are cracking up]). So when I logged on to Twitter Monday, I was there with a purpose.

One of the bloggers I follow in Tweetville is Down Goes Brown - if you don't read it, really you are only hurting yourself. It's brilliant. But when he posted about having everyone tweet about a player being moved, he was up front about it and made it very clear it was not a hard and fast fact. The problem was that once it started, certain websites picked it up as the truth. Then the talking heads got duped (that and fake twitter accounts). Then DGB got lumped in with all the parodies. Which was too bad. If you want a more detailed account of the madness, please check out ChuckAPucker favorite, Puck Daddy

Look, I get it that we as a society have this almost desperate need to know everything first. Breaking news and first alerts are jammed down our throats but look. There is this thing called fact checking. Reporters used to do that (well aside from that whole "Dewey beats Truman" thing) but now, any hint of a rumor is splattered as fact. And that should be more disappointing.

Both the Pens and Sabres were quiet on deadline day which I'm ok with. The Slugs in essence, replaced Craig Rivet with Brad Boyes (I'll take that anyday); I wished they could have gotten Connely's salary off the payroll but that day is coming. And with the new owner in place? Maybe July 1 will be a happy day in the Queen City.

The Guins took a different approach and went proactive. Picking up Alex Kovalev for peanuts was a great move. He's showed his worth already. Then trading Goose for James Neal and Matt Niskanen (who shares my birthday) who are both under contract was a smart move. Nicely done GMRS.

From the Pens site on Yahoo:

Brooks Orpik Feb 24, 2011 Injured Reserve Broken finger
Nick Johnson Feb 18, 2011 Injured Reserve Concussions
Eric Tangradi Feb 12, 2011 Injured Reserve Concussion
Chris Kunitz Feb 8, 2011 Injured Reserve Lower-body injury
Evgeni Malkin Feb 5, 2011 Injured Reserve Torn right ACL, MCL
Arron Asham Feb 2, 2011 Injured Reserve Concussion
Sidney Crosby Jan 6, 2011 Injured Reserve Mild concussion
Mike Comrie Nov 26, 2010 Injured Reserve Hip surgery

Riddle me this: at what point does Sidney Crosby lose the "mild" in front of his concussion tag? He's not played a game in two months for something that was supposed to keep him out a week or two.

So on that note, I'm going to go eat my mild breakfast.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Double You Tee Eff!?

Okay... I would like to know what in the world is going on in Pittsburgh? Yet another member of the black and Vegas gold was added to the M*A*S*H unit last night when Brooks Orpik got hit in the hand with a puck during the 2nd period. So, with that, I think that just about every member of the Pens has now been hurt save Disco Dan, Katie O'Malley and Iceburgh. I know that teams sometimes go through rashes of injuries... it's normal in an 82 game season, that also includes a few weeks of preseason games, things are going to happen. You will have bumps and bruises, a torn ACL, and even a concussion or two; but honestly, I have never seen it as bad as it is for this team. Even the situation with the Canucks defense pales in comparison to this bullshit.

With this, I have several thoughts on the situation: What in the hell pissed the hockey gods off so much that they would drop their reign of terror over one team? Were they mad that the Pens looked really good on 24/7 and showed what a shit show the Craps are? Was it Gretzky playing with voodoo dolls because Sid was starting to pull away from the rest of the league and would break some of his records? Did Bettman get a little too into his Ouija board and brought up Fruma Sarah and she is a Flyers fan? In all seriousness, it could be as simple as with Jordan Staal out, others tried to pick up the slack and that was like a rock chip in the windshield. Comrie's hip goes, then Malkin's knee got banged up the first time, which was followed by Bing's head getting pounded not once but twice; and we get a domino effect. All I can say is that I'm glad that they have a GM like Lord Rejean who can wheel and deal and has a plethora of good talent in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Wheeling.

Speaking of Wheeling, I love how GMRS dealt with an unhappy situation. A couple of weeks ago, it seems that one of their prospects, Casey Pierro-Zabotel who used to play for the Vancouver Giants, has a wife and she was unhappy with the way she perceived the Nailers were treating her husband. So she voiced this displeasure all over Twitter, including calling the Pens a "shit organization", until a Pens fan who I follow nailed her on it. Of course, she tried to back track and say it wasn't about Casey or the team; but less than two days later, her account was gone and so was her husband to Cincinnati on a loan. Don't fuck with the bull son... you'll get the horns!

But anyway... the Penguins have made two trades in the past week: one with Dallas for Neal and Niskanen and just this morning Alexei Kovalev was brought back from the Sens. These additions will be helpful to a team that somehow is still in 2nd place in the division and 4th in the conference; but hopefully we can see some of the other boys come back soon or even with these guys, it's going to be a very short playoff run.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

WTF is happening here?!

It all started yesterday with the goalie swap.

I understand that Craig Anderson wasn't performing the sort of Superman heroics this season as he did last season. But does that mean he's not a number one goaltender? No, it doesn't. I maintain that there were a few factors in Anderson's less than stellar season. The first are the knee and groin injuries he had early on in the season. I just don't think he fully regained his timing after coming back. The other thing that I think most people forget is that we have a new goaltending coach this season. Not that I know much about Kirk McLean, but I don't think it's coincidence that we change goaltending coaches and both of our goalies go to hell. I also think that coaching decisions overall played a hand in the turn around. Last year, Sacco would let Anderson work himself out of those situations and Anderson was better for it. This year, Sacco just didn't seem to trust that Anderson could do it.

Not that Peter Budaj is a terrible goaltender, and I don't know enough about Brian Elliot, because the Senators are admittedly a team that I don't follow and truthfully don't care to follow (part of it goes to being a Leafs fan), to know whether or not he's an adequate replacement for Craig Anderson. What I do know is that the last time the Avalanche relied on Peter Budaj to be the number one goaltender, we drafted Matt Duchene 3rd overall and went out and found Craig Anderson. And I still don't care what Joe Sacco says - Peter Budaj is not a number one goaltender and he DOES NOT give that team the best chance to win on any given night. Despite his struggles, Craig Anderson was at least able to make clutch saves when he needed to to either keep the Avalanche in the game or allow them to keep a lead.

As for the Chris Stewart, Kevin Shattenkirk trade ... I'm still trying to decide what I think of this. I understand you have to give up something of value to get something of value, but I'm just not sure that Erik Johnson and Jay McLement are worth a former number 1 draft pick in Stewart and a promising defenseman in Shattenkirk. Although, I suppose the conditional first rounder in either 2011 or 2012 is a good toss in.

It wasn't a surprise that one of Liles, Cumiskey, Hunwick, or Shattenkirk was going to be moved. Cumiskey, by sheer virtue of being injured is guaranteed to stick around through the end of the year. Hunwick hasn't done anything since coming over from Boston that would endear teams to wanting to give anything up for him. And Liles, with his salary and partial no trade clause, makes Shatty sort of the odd man out on that. It sucks to lose both Shatty and Colby Cohen to trade this year, but we do still have a decent crop of defensemen coming up in the system. It's also still possible that another one of our defenseman is moved before the trade deadline. Personally, I think I'm about ready to put John-Michael Liles on lock down.

Needless to say, the next couple of months are going to be long here in Denver, and it's going to be an even longer summer. I'm just hoping that the management, led by yet another accountant turned GM, figure out what they're doing, because right now, it doesn't seem as though they have a plan at all, and if they do, it seems they are grossly over estimating how much guys they are interested in are worth.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Bloody Valentine

I think next year, the Avalanche is going to skip Valentine's Day.

First, Forsberg retires. Then, about ten seconds into the game Calgary scores from the point. Matt Duchene goes down with a hand injury at the end of the 2nd, then in the 3rd, rookie defenseman Cameron Gaunce takes a puck off the foot (depleting an already depleted defense corps). And, oh yeah, while all this is going on, Craig Anderson replaces Budaj, who replaces Craig Anderson, who replaces Budaj and the Flames just keep scoring.

9-1. For their 8th straight loss. And while Iginla helps my fantasy team, he could have picked another game to be his usual awesome self.

There are a lot of perks to having such a young and inexperienced team. That 'why not us?' attitude that they had earlier in the year was one of them. But somewhere over the last couple of months, they went from a pretty cohesive unit with a why not us mentality to a group of 20 individual guys who are so damn afraid to make mistakes that mistakes are all they make.

I will say this, though (and I can't believe I'm going to). Watching the post-game tonight, and seeing Paul Stastny interviewed (which I gotta give him and JM Liles props for; I can't imagine they actually wanted to talk to anyone, let alone a guy with a mic and a camera in their face), I was shocked at just how honest he was. These were exact phrases he used: Unacceptable, embarrasing, every guy who put on that jersey ...

This from the guy who never sounds as though someone ran over his dog in interviews following losses (that is usually JM Liles and Matt Duchene). That doesn't mean I like the guy now, he has to be better, and if he wants to be the cornerstone of this team like he's been made to be, he has to start putting the team on his shoulders, saying screw it, and getting things done on his own. He doesn't do that on the ice. But for him to step up and call each and every one of those guys out, himself included, earned him some kudos.

Hopefully, though, tomorrow comes with a 'reset' button. For everyone.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Goodbye, it's the saddest thing to say

Peter Forsberg officially announced his retirement this morning.

I know that when he first announced that he was going to skate with the Avalanche to determine if a comeback was possible, I was a bit harsh in my feelings, and those feelings haven't gone away. But despite Forsberg not being my favorite Avalanche player (that honor, admittedly, goes to Joe Sakic), I would be remiss to not appreciate his career with the Avalanche.

I don't know the numbers off the top of my head, but I do know that having Forsberg in the lineup almost guaranteed you a win, and more often than not, if he had a point, the Avalanche did win. And before groin, abdominal, and ankle injuries derailed his career, Forsberg was a force to be reckoned with.

He could split an opponent's defense at will, and he wasn't afraid to hit and be hit, and his hockey sense was unequaled by almost anyone but Joe Sakic. Which is perhaps why Sakic and Forsberg made not only a terrific duo at center, but as a tandem no opponent wanted to play against when they did pair up on the same line. I remember one play in particular in the 2004 playoffs. It was game five against San Jose, in overtime, and Forsberg dug the puck out of the corner and made a blind pass behind him that landed perfectly on Sakic's tape for the OT game winner. It was a beautiful play.

Two Olympic gold medals, two Stanley Cups, a Calder, Hart, and Art Ross trophy to his name ... that is what Forsberg's legacy should be. It should be those plays where Forsberg just knew where the puck needed to go. It should be that shootout goal that earned him the honor of being immortalized on a Swedish postage stamp.

I can't say that know exactly how Forsberg felt when he announced his retirement, but after repeated attempts to make a comeback, I can imagine how hard it had to be for Peter to finally admit defeat. That will to win, that will to battle made him the player that he was.

Now all that is left is for the Avalanche to set the date for Peter's number to be retired. And while he wasn't my favorite, and he could frustrate the absolute hell out of me, you can bet that I'll be there.

Peter will be missed. But Avs fans, even this one, will always have plenty of memories of a player who had so many gifts and who brought so much to this game.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What in the world is going on?

So Matt Cooke will have a disciplinary hearing today with the NHL brass from a hit in the game last night against the Jackets. I did not see the game so I can't comment on the hit but I'm thinking something along the lines of this - it's a reputation call. Granted this is not some shocking revelation but I'm just laying it out there. Now here is what gets me.... where on earth is the consistency? Fine call him for charging but how about the league's precious Rule 48? Personally I'd like to see that called a hell of a lot more.

Down Goes Brown is just about one of the best places to go for a hockey laugh and they deliver EVERY. TIME. Reading it today, I see a lovely comparison to the Super Bowl and a regular season NHL game and I see this:

The Super Bowl: Expect to hear plenty of references to ex-Packer Brett Favre, the former superstar who embarrassed himself with one too many comeback attempts and eventually became a running joke in the sports world.

Regular season hockey: Thankfully, it's been years since Peter Forsberg… wait, he's what? You're kidding. Good lord, please say you're kidding.

Yes he's back. And singed to a year contact. With a no trade clause. Because that makes a whole lot of sense. I'm sure teams will be knocking on that door. Good luck on that one boys. I'm sure he's totally the same player he was 12 years ago.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Old Milwaukee and cheese versus Primanti's and Iron City!

Good day my friends! It's that time of year again... it's Super Bowl Sunday; and for most hockey fans, hopefully you watched the games that were on this morning because there ain't none on tonight. I, however, do like football a lot and will be watching the game. Not sure who I want to win though, because I'm still pissed about the Seahawks having their rings stolen five years ago against the Steeler; but the Packers are not only in the NFC, but they had Brett 'SwampThing' Farve for a million years. So, I'm sure I'll be watching mostly for Troy Polomalu and his glorious hair and that's about it. :)

In the spirit of Super Bowl XL and the two teams involved, I have two candidates for Boy of the Day, one from each state: David Steckel out of Milwaukee, WI and George Parros from Washington, PA.

Dave Steckel, drafted by the LA Kings as the 30th overall pick in 2001, played one season with the Team USA Developmental team and the US National team before heading to Ohio State University. Four years later, Dave joined the Manchester Monarchs where he spent one season. The next season, he signed with the Washington Capitals where he played a few games spent the rest of the season in Hershey. The next season, he made the big club and he's been centering the third line along with being a top member of their penalty kill.

George is a boy who combines brawn as well as brains as a forward for the Anaheim Ducks. Also drafted by the Kings as the 222nd overall pick in 1999, he graduated from Princeton University with a degree in economics and was voted 4th smartest professional athlete. He's also very involved with charities including growing his hair each season to be donated to Locks of Love; and his teammates love him so much, the Ducks petitioned to have his name added to the Cup in 2007 even though he hadn't met the game criteria.