Wednesday, May 23, 2007

This is why Jim Kelley is a Dope

Check out the article written by Sportsnet's Jim Kelley. After reading about the professionalism of bloggers versus paid writers over at Off Wing, I couldn't help but leave a comment stating that paid writers make mistakes all the time.

Well thank you to "Beat Up as a Kid" Jim Kelley for being a timely example just one day later.

According to Jim:

Wasn't it just two days ago that the Ducks got a two-man advantage in the final minutes of Game 5 in Detroit, a five-on-three that produced the game-tying goal that propelled them to an overtime win in what proved to be the most important
win in the series?
Ahem... someone let Jim know that the Ducks pulled their goaltender to make it six-on-four advantage.

Jim then follows up with his gem:

The Ducks didn't deserve all the calls that went against them in Game 5 Tuesday night, but in the split-second world of decision making sometimes the calls that go against you are the ones where the officials think that you did it because you always do it.
Ahem... it was Game 6 Tuesday night Jim.

Maybe Jim should be demoted to a blogger if he can't live up to the professional standards that paid writers apparently have.

More on Kelley:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Baby Time and NHL Playoffs

Wierd combination eh? Well, let me tell you what that equals... very little time for blogging. The wife and I had our first child on May 8th, Lucas Alan. He came into the world at 7 lbs, 7 oz and 21 inches long. A pretty good size, especially when he came three weeks early.

Lucas broke mom and dad in early by developing a nice case of jaundice. It kept us in the hospital for an extra four sleepless nights. Since coming home, he has been an absolute angel. The kid only cries when he is hungry, cold, or needs a diaper change. He's a good looking kid too. I know, I know... I'm a little partial. But take a look for yourself.... lots of hair. A masculine baby as a good friend put it.

Lucas has been introduced to the sports world early with lots of Sports Center and baseball and NBA playoffs. I gave him a taste of the NHL playoffs, but he promptly dozed off.

While he was sleeping, I took in some of the Wings/Ducks game. It certainly is a fast-paced game. But unless you have a team left in the playoffs, truly, how exciting is it to watch playoff hockey? Not very in my opinion. The games are lackluster... not even the rugged Ducks can get the Wings riled up for an intense series. Was anyone else sickened when the Wings players just stood there as Holmstrom was decked from behind and bleeding from the head? That is playoff hockey at its finest folks... don't protect your teammates. My estrogen levels soared watching the game. I promptly turned it off for fear I would be shopping for a training bra the next day.

Anyone catch the NHL's should-be next Commissioner on the Jim Rome Show? It was actually not very newsworthy. He admitted that he had a tough team and that they like to grind out games and fight if need be. Brian Burke is a breath of fresh air in the new-PC-NHL. Other GMs and owners would be smart to listen to some of his ideas.

Tomas Backstrom threw out the first pitch at the Nats game the other day. Look out NHL... this kid is going to be good. And add him to a young nucleus of OV and A. Semin in Washington and you are looking at a team with three young future stars in the NHL. Backstrom was interviewed during the game. The language barrier, which is a reason NHL players are so hard to market, seemed to be a problem for Tomas. "Very exciting" and "yes" were as much as he could get out. Uncle Ted took over shortly after and said the Caps would be adding three to five veterans in the off-season. With other big name clubs, like the Flyers, looking to spend money, I just hope the Caps can get what they want without overpaying. Chris Drury would be a perfect fit in the Washington... he has the workman's attitude that has come to define DC hockey. If the Caps get Briere, I might lose my cookies. Simply put, he is top ten in the NHL in hit-and-run hockey. Stay away Caps!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

For me, it's over

There was a time in the past when no European captain had ever won a Stanley Cup. In fact, no European captain had ever even taken a team to the Stanley Cup Finals. We now could be as little as five games from not only having a European captain in the finals, but having a European win the Cup.

As far back as 1999, I had said I would stop watching the NHL altogether if a European captain ever lifted the Cup. And now that we're on the brink of disaster, I stand by my word. If Nicklas Lidstrom and the Detroit Red Wings or Daniel Alfredsson and the Ottawa Senators win the Cup this season, I will never watch another NHL game.

Go ahead, call me a racist. Call me a xenophobe. Call me an ethnocentrist. Even though I'm none of the above, if it makes you feel better, then go ahead and say it. I have more reasons than this not to watch the NHL. Let's just say it's the last straw. The camel's back has been threatening to break for a while. And this is the one thing that will shatter it.

It's not just an increase in European players. It's more than just that one part irking me. It's the instigator rule. It's the ever-rising sticks with no retribution. It's expansion to places like Miami, Nashville, and Atlanta. It's the loss of the Whalers, Nordiques, North Stars, and Jets. It's the fact the Smythe, Norris, Adams, and Patrick divisions are gone. It's the desperation to increase offense. It's TV ratings in freefall. It's empty arenas. It's the proposed Victoria Cup. It's the overall lack of passion in the game.

There was a time when winning the Cup meant something to every player on a team, and more than just the fact they met one of the incentives in their contracts. It was the fact that they had reached the pinnacle of the hockey world. And now, it means so little to so many players.

There was a reason no European captain has won a Cup. So many European players are the stereotypical, me-first, all-about-the-money players. Yes, Messrs Jagr, Yashin, and Alfredsson, I'm looking in your direction. And now, teams with these types as captains but whose real leaders don't wear an A or a C are preparing to lift the Cup. Wearing a letter on your jersey used to mean you were a leader in all facets of the game. Now it just means you're the leading scorer or have the biggest contract. It's a joke; a shell of its former meaning.

In three weeks, there's a 50% likelihood the Cup will be skated around an arena by a Captain from overseas. But while it's happening, take the time out to remember when the Cup wasn't carried by someone over here because of a better contract. Remember when it was carried by someone playing in the NHL simply because he loved the game. By someone who was a true leader rather than just a scorer with a huge contract.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Second Round Thus Far; All Finesse, All Boring

The local radio sports show, The Junkies, talked some hockey this morning. This is worth mentioning because the foursome rarely talks NHL happenings. But not this morning. Yes, they brought up the Rangers/Sabres series, specifically the abysmal ratings that they have received thus far. Of particular note, they mentioned that NASCAR, what some might call a southern sport, beat the Rangers/Sabres playoff game in New York. Pretty bad eh?

Not one to disagree with their assessment of the NHL’s poor television ratings, I’ve maintained that the second round of the playoffs have been boring and emotionless for many reasons (see a few entries down for these reasons). To sum it up, teams have understandably blocked out everything other than winning; rivalries are put on the back burner; players turn the other cheek when there are dirty hits. When you add it all up, you get boring hockey. It all falls in line with my assertion that fans absolutely crave rivalries, and yes fights, in the game. Without rivalries, and everything that comes with rivalries, hockey isn’t exciting enough to capture the casual viewer.

So to back up my statement about the boredom that is the second round, I decided to take a peak at the penalties called in each series. To me, finesse penalties (e.g. holding, hooking, tripping, etc.) translate to boring hockey. Physical penalties (e.g. roughing, high sticking, kneeing, etc.) translate to elements that could possibly lead to a brewing rivalry; the start of which most often involves a fight of some sort. Of course, that hasn’t occurred in the second round… not one.

The officiating in the Rangers/Sabres series has been highly criticized throughout, capped off by a Lindy Riff tirade and subsequent fine from the league. Interestingly enough, the Rangers have actually been whistled for six more penalties than the Sabres thus far in the series (26-20). 70% of the Sabres and 73% of the Rangers penalties have been finesse calls, leading to a rather tranquil series thus far.

The Devils/Senators series has been an absolute snooze fest. A mere 34 penalties have been called, 16 for the Devils and 18 for the Sens. 88% of the Devils and 72% of the Sens penalties have been finesse calls. When you add it up, you are left with hockey that could make Andy Stitzer sleep like a baby on his wedding night.

The Red Wings/Sharks series is almost a carbon copy. 34 penalties have been called, 18 against the Wings and 16 against the Sharks. The Wings and the Devils could be red headed siblings in different divisions; 83% of the Wings penalties have been finesse calls. 69% of the Sharks calls have been finesse. Someone would have to pin my eyes open to watch this series.

On to the Ducks (God bless the Ducks)/Canucks series. 61 penalties have been called in this series, 28 against the Ducks and 33 against the Canucks. This is surprising to me actually as I would think the Ducks would have a bull’s-eye on their back because of the bad boy persona they carry. And while the Ducks are true to that persona, with a mere 54% of their penalties being finesse, the Canucks are the sleeping pill for this late afternoon nap, with 76% of their penalties being finesse.

So sorry folks. But there is little chance that we will see any signs of a brewing rivalry in the second round. There hasn’t been in one single major penalty, let alone a fight thus far. And with the teams zeroing in on the prize, you can forget seeing any physical hockey until next season… that is unless the Sharks/Ducks advance and a fire is lit in the Western Conference finals.