Monday, May 31, 2010

Is Padawan Niemi turning into the Master?

Anyone even remember back in October when the Chicago Blackhawks were in Helsinki, Finland playing the Florida Panthers? No? Probably because the games were also on during the week at midday because of the time zones.

As an unemployed student at the time I was home and able to watch and remembering in game two Chicago decided to play this 'unknown' rookie goalie that just happened to be from Finland. The game started off with just that feel good feeling of 'awww they are letting him get his NHL debut in his home country' but turned into 'wow this kid is actually pretty good' and further into "Wow this Antti Niemi just recorded a shutout in his NHL debut in his home country."

For the life of me I can't find the article but someone had asked Niemi if he was going to take over the number one spot from Christobal Huet. I believe his answer was along the lines of "I'll try".

In the words of Yoda "Do or do not ... there is no try."

Young master Niemi did and now he is leading the Blackhawks into Game Three of the Stanley Cup finals as a rookie goalie (who was not nominated for Calder) with a 2-0 series lead.

May the force be with you...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Winter Classic 2011: Penguins to host Capitals?

Winter Classic fever has hit!!! It is only May 25th but there is a buzz on the Internet right now about the Penguins hosting the Capitals next year.

Every year the Winter Classic is becoming a bigger event and putting Sidney Crosby vs Alex Ovechkin - does it really get any bigger right now for the NHL?

I'll be honest. I don't remember much from this years Winter Classic; however, I was taken to the Emergency Room that morning with abdominal pain and spent the day in the ER before being admitted to what turned into a two week hospital stay.

What would be something fantastic to add to this spectacle that has become the annual Winter Classic on New Years Day? Having and outdoor set up for fans in the home city for the visiting team.

I grew up in Michigan and I remember watching the 2009 Winter Classic with my family back in Michigan and thinking how much fun the atmosphere is and how I bet The Penalty Box (Red Wings' themed bar in Fenton, Michigan) was packed.

So - NHL - why not add an outdoor rink for the Capitals fans to join in? There has to be away to set up a rink and some screens in the National Mall. What a back drop that would be - especially if there is snow anything like this past winter in the District.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Trading Ville Leino wasn't a mistake for Detroit

With the sudden surge of Ville Leino with the Flyers in the post season many have started to ask: Did Detroit make a mistake when they traded Ville Leino?

If you want to look at the here and now with Detroit out of the playoffs and that the Flyers are up 2-1 in their series with the Canadiens then I guess you can say it was a mistake; however, if you want to look at the bigger picture I say no.

Ville Leino was resigned by Detroit over the summer for two years on a one way deal after his one year 'trial' contract was up. Leino was never drafted and the Red Wings picked him up after the 2007/2008 season which he spent in the SM-liiga (Finnish Elite League). After spending most of his first contract in the American Hockey League with the Grand Rapids Griffins he was given a shot to make the big team with the second contract.

At the start of the 2009/2010 season for the Red Wings the Ville Leino/Valtteri Filppula/Jason Williams 3rd line was the best line the team had. They were on fire. Then Williams broke his leg and Filppula broke his wrist. Leino never got back to form with the Red Wings.

Coach Mike Babcock tried Leino with a number of differnt player combinations but it just was not clicking like Detroit needed Leino to click. Ville just wasn't fitting the system. This isn't to say Leino isn't a good player. He is a very good and highly skilled player you don't need me to mention his 2008 Lasse Oksanen trophy to understand that (basically the SM-liiga equvelnt of the Hart Trophy).

With all the injuried the Red Wings faced in the regular season players were being asked to have a bigger impact than expected. Players were even brought in like Justin Abdelkader (who was project to spend the season with the Grand Rapids Griffin's in the AHL spent the majority of the season with a Winged Wheel on his chest instead) and Drew Miller (brother of Buffalo Sabres and Team USA goalie Ryan Miller) was claimed off of a wiaver from Tampa Bay Lightning. When players started coming back from being on long term injured reserve Detroit had to clear up the cap space that was now being used to get other players back. So what did Detroit do first? Traded Ville Leino to the Flyers for Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a 5th round draft pick in 2010. Doesn't seem like much for a highly skilled player like Ville Leino (especially since I have read that Tollefsen has now signed with MODO of the Swedish Elite Leauge), but who knows what Detroit will do with a 5th round draft pick - odds are they wont "get lucky" but they'll just find another Henrik Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk. I mean really they found Leino who was never drafted.

Trading Leino meant that the Red Wings would not have to put players on waiver (other than Brad May who did clear and made it to the Griffins) or trade anyone else to clear up cap space with Johan Franzen and Andreas Lilja came off of LTIR. Kirk Maltby was the only player other player to be displaced. On the last year of his contract and late in the grinders career Maltby decided to opt for surgery and cleared up the last of the space needed so that no other players would be lost. Maltby took one for the team and for that has my greatest respect.

The lose of Leino from the Detroit system that he wasn't fitting in with for the ability to keep players that are fitting the system and getting another late round draft pick that the Wings' have made it their office to find talent.

The real question is: When Flyers get their injured players back (ie Cater) where does he fit into the system there?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cap 4 Life

This morning it was announce that the Washington Capitals have signed Swedish forward Nicklas Backstrom to a 10 year deal worth $67 million.

The Capitals signed Alexander Semin to a one year deal earlier in the season.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Habs keep on keeping on

I honestly don't even know how to start this. Nothing I can think of after my 2 hours of sleep comes close to the awesome greatness of the Habs beating the Pens in game 7 last night. Sorry Pens fans I know the pain of your team washing out in the second round, my favorite team did too. But any fan of the sport has to look at what is going on with the Canadiens right now and be impressed.

For a team that had so man injuries in not just their regular season but started in their preseason and keep rolling though the playoffs I am impressed. At the start of the season it was said that the Habs were "too small" because their players are smaller build than the rest of the league as a whole. As I read on a Twitter post last night (wish I could remember who it was at the moment) the Habs are no longer the underdogs but are now "the little team that could".

I give the Habs my full support for the play offs. Who doesn't like a good underdog story? Besides making it 25 on the 100th - maybe it is just destiny.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sami "Sisu" Salo

What is there to say that hasn't already been said about Salo coming back to play in the next game after having his testicle ruptured by a blocked shot.

He may not of had the best game, and the 'Nucks may have lost the series but you can't deniy the heart that Finn has. The Finns would call it Sisu. From Wikipedia (yeah I know)
Sisu is a Finnish term loosely translated into English as strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. However, the word is widely considered to lack a proper translation into any language. Sisu has been described as being integral to understanding Finnish culture. The literal meaning is equivalent in English to "having guts", and the word derives from sisus, which means something inner or interior. However sisu is defined by a long-term element in it; it is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain an action against the odds. Deciding on a course of action and the sticking to that decision against repeated failures is sisu. The noun sisu is related to the adjective sisukas, one having the quality of sisu.

I think it's save to say Salo has guts - just maybe not balls.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means Tampa

A friend of mine is a die hard Tampa Bay Lightning fan and has often voiced his frustration in why there is so much talent on the team but they can't pull it together and win anything (just want to point out Steven Stamkos did win the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy this season; but he has to share it with the-more-well-known-totally-over-hyped-to-the-point-that-the-other-29-fan-bases-can't-stand-him Sidney Crosby).

Want to know why with the talent they can't pull it together - here is a hint - Respect. Don't tell me you've never heard of it Tampa - Aretha Franklin had a hit song about it in the 60's this is not a new conecpt.

The news that has come out about how Stephane Veilleux is having to fight with the organization to get them to help with medical cost for a surgery is just down right sickening. How does a team turn its back so blindly to their players? Really I am asking HOW does this happen. I don't have an answer of this.

There has been rumor of Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman (yes it is still great to say that and not have to say 'future') being interested in the newly opened General Mangers position with the Lightning. As a Red Wings' fan I have never wanted to see him go anywhere else; but for the love of hockey and all that is great about this sport Stevie the Lightning clearly need you to go down there and do a total overhaul. If anyone can represent what is honorable and great about this sport it is you.

For more information on the Lightnings ultimate FAIL please read:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Do not go gentle into that good night

Montréal Canadiens and the Phildelphia Flyers may have been down in their series but they will not lay down and let their season come to an end.

Flyers were up 1-0 over the Bostom Bruins tonight when goalie Brian Boucher twisted to make a save and had both teammate Ryan Parent and Bruin Marioslav Satan fall on top of him. The incident lead to Boucher throw off his blocker (which made it impressivly almost to the neutral zone) and grab his left leg. After laying on the ice for several minutes he was helped off the ice by teammate Chris Pronger and game back up Michael Leighton came into the game. Leighton had missed the past 21 games after suffering from an injury himself.

Leighton went on to stonewall the Bruins to allow the Flyers to win the game 4-0 marking only the second time in history that a goalie pair has shared a shutout on a playoff game. The only other time was back in 1955 when Charlie Hodge and Jacques Plante lead Montreal to a 2-0 victory over Boston. Will we see another "History will be made...
video thanks to the Bruins? I'm sure of it.

As for the Canadiens. Wow. There was nothing gentle about the game at the Bell Center tonight in Montreal.

The Canadiens have managed to take a second straight series to 7 games in which they have been looked at as the underdogs. Maybe it is time to take the Habs serious. After all of the injureied the team has suffered not even though the playoffs and the regular season but started in the pre season. All season they were looked at as being too small. Guess it goes to show - it really isn't about the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.

By the way - where the heck have Ville Leino and Scott Hartnell been hiding?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A picture is worth 1,000 questions

Foreshadowing - a literary technique used to provide clues to be able to predict what might occur later. In other words, drops hints about the plot and what may come in the near future.

Has the time come that Lidstrom retires and Zetterberg steps forward as the 'King of Hockeytown'?

2010 Detroit Red Wings

What a season!

It feels like it has been forever since that trip to Stockholm where the so called "Swede Wings" got swept by the Blues in the Globen. How memorable that trip must of been for the team, especially the mass amount of Swedes that don the Winged Wheel.

It was a rough season for the Red Wings' no doubt about that - I think I heard 50 times a day how the Red Wings are washed up, they are too old, and my 'favorite' that the Dead Wing Era has returned. Though injuries and rookies not living up to potential the Wings pulled it together. Even after having a rough start to the season rookie Jimmy Howard played a huge roll in getting the team to the play offs. Something that had been written off by so many.

One of the most touching things that most hockey fans probably didn't even take not of was that Kirk Maltby took one for the team. A player that has been so dedicated and played a huge roll for Detroit since his arrival in the Motorcity opted to go have surgery (rather than wait until the off season) to free up cap space to allow Andreas Lilja to come back without bumping another player to waiver/trade. To you Kirk Maltby I say THANK YOU. Thank you for all you have done for Detroit and not just on the ice; but your work with charity and just being a great roll model for the next hockey generation.

The Olympic break came and went. Three Olympic medals were given to the Red Wings for their efforts. Coach Mike Babcock won the gold with host team Canada, while defenseman Brian Rafalski played a huge roll for the young Team USA (which no one had any faith in winning anything - so noted by the NHLPA who booked all their flights home to take place BEFORE the gold medal games - thanks for the confidence!) and of course Valtteri Filppula who came out and showed the rest of the hockey world that he is a force to be reckoned with - won the bronze with Finland.

After the Olympic break the battle for a playoff spot was red hot. The Flames and the Red Wings battled it out almost to the last regular season game. However hard the road traveled was they still made it. 19 straight years - and Lidstrom has never missed making the post season.

Now that the season is over you would think that unknowing stressful feeling of 'what if' would disappear. You know that feeling - the one every hockey fan loves but hates about the playoffs. This time that feeling has not gone away, in fact, I think it has only grown more heart wrenching. Now the 'what if' is 'what if Lidstrom doesn't return to the ice' I have never known hockey without Norris Nick - they go hand in hand. My first jersey was a Lidstrom jersey - I have worn it to every game I've attended and they've always won. My two year old daughters first jersey was also a Lidstrom jersey and during the Olympics when he wore the Tre Kronor she ran to the tv and pointed screaming "Lidstrom! Lidstrom!" Could moments like that really be over? Only he can decide.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Americans Don't Watch Hockey

As I sit here on day two of the World Championships for ice hockey I can’t help but feel a little annoyed that I have had to resort to either an automatically refreshing webpage off of the IIHF website or some feed I can find online.

Maybe I just can’t navigate NBC’s Universal Sports page to find the feed for the games. If I missed them I half heartedly apologize - yes only half for they should be easier to find if they are there.

I was asked more than once in my sports management classes why I watch hockey (clearly I do not live in a hockey area - though they do have an NHL team and the fans want to call themselves a hockey town). Anyway WHY I like hockey is not the point right now, it is the fact then when I ask them “well have you ever really watched a hockey game?” and more often than not the answer is “no”.

So why don’t people watch hockey? It’s not that they don’t understand the sport - how many people just sat and learned about short track speed skating earlier this year because of Apolo Ohno? - its because it’s never on tv. There is no United States coverage of the sport. Versus tries - but they only air two regular season games a week and then NBC plays one every Sunday in the middle of the day, oh and the Winter Classic. Until play offs you can’t find hockey on tv unless it is on your local sports channel. Many cable company packages don’t come with Verses - remember that Directv issue. Also I never had Verses and had to upgrade my package to get Versus just to see play off games in 2008. Americans just don’t have the access to the games unless they are already hockey fans and know where to look.

The Winter Classic was a great idea - I even watched the 2009 Winter Classic from a hospital bed and gave nurses and doctors basic hockey 101 in the ER. Keep in mind like I said above I live in an area where the fans want to call themselves ‘hockey town’ (sorry that name belongs to Detroit and the Ilitch family even owns the rights to it so find your own name - maybe the Ovechkin District - see what I did there… awesomeness).

Something else that might help with getting new fans to watch hockey - get Pierre McGuire off of NBC really. I am so tired of him. JR is awesome - keep him (especially if he does end up punching Mad Mike Milbury).

As for worlds - I will have to keep looking for internet feeds to watch other teams - including the recent Olympic gold and bronze medal winning teams (Canada and Finland in case you forgot) because Universal Sports is not airing them (unless they are in a game with the US).