Saturday, April 16, 2011

End of Red Wings' octopus tradition?

Here's an interesting article I came across, courtesy of the Toronto Star:



DETROIT - The tentacles of the NHL have targeted the tentacles in Detroit.
The Red Wings' fans long standing tradition of throwing octopi on the ice is getting the attention of the NHL and Detroit police. In Game 1 on Wednesday police charged a man with throwing an octopus on the ice. He was fined $500.
The Red Wings released a statement which indicated the NHL has asked authorities to charge anyone they see throwing anything on the ice. The police officer would have to see the person throwing the cephalopod.
"The throwing of objects onto the ice surface is prohibited by the National Hockey League and persons caught doing so may be subject to prosecution for violating local and state laws," the statement said.
Predictably, the reaction of many fans and players was outrage.
"Do they want everybody to come to the rink and sit on their hands not doing anything? People are taking it a little too seriously," said Wings' goaltender Chris Osgood.
But some fans, not just the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, are sick of seeing it happen continually. In fact, the NHL has a rule that allows for a penalty to be assessed the home team if objects are thrown on the ice during a stoppage in play.
By the way, the tradition started in the 50s. The octopus' appendages represented the eight wins needed to win a Stanley Cup back then.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin

Let the chase for the Stanley Cup begin.
The NHL's final playoff matchups weren't set until the 1,230th — and final — regular season game was completed on Sunday night.
A 5-3 victory by Minnesota over Dallas put an end to the playoff hopes of the Stars, who fell two points short of Chicago in the Western Conference. As a result, the Blackhawks will have the opportunity to win their second straight Stanley Cup.
They are among 16 teams who are still alive. Here's how the first-round matchups stack up:
EASTERN CONFERENCE
Washington (No. 1) versus N.Y. Rangers (No. 8)
Season series: Rangers went 3-1-0.
Upset in the first round a year ago, the Capitals put all of their focus this season on getting ready for the playoffs. The most notable change was a decision to focus on defence, which saw coach Bruce Boudreau's team allow 36 fewer goals.
On the flip side, they scored at a much lower pace — averaging 1.14 fewer goals per game — a trend that is reflected in Alex Ovechkin's career-worst totals of 32 goals and 85 points.
The Rangers backed their way into the playoffs and are dealing with an ankle injury to heart-and-soul forward Ryan Callahan. However, goalie Henrik Lundqvist led the league with 11 shutouts and offers them the best chance at an upset.
Philadelphia (No. 2) versus Buffalo (No. 7)
Season series: Flyers went 2-1-1.
It's playoff time again so that can only mean one thing in Philly — there's uncertainty in goal.
Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky will start the series as the No. 1 man but could be replaced by Michael Leighton if he stumbles. Leighton, recently recalled from the AHL, helped the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup final a year ago.
Veteran defenceman Chris Pronger has missed 16 games with a hand injury but might be ready to return to Philadelphia's lineup.
Buffalo has been one of the hottest teams in the NHL since the all-star break and had Ryan Miller back in net over the weekend after he missed time with an upper-body injury. The Sabres are looking to advance past the first round for the first time since 2007.
Boston (No. 3) versus Montreal (No. 6)
Season series: Canadiens went 4-2-0.
Somewhat lost in all the focus on bad blood — and make no mistake, there is plenty of it between these teams — is the fact the series will feature two of the NHL's top goalies.
Boston's Tim Thomas is the favourite for the Vezina Trophy after setting a NHL record with a .938 save percentage while Montreal's Carey Price tied for the league lead with 38 victories.
With those two on top of their game and the fallout from the Zdeno Chara-Max Pacioretty incident sure to be felt, this promises to be a physical, low-scoring affair.
“They play with a lot of fire,” said Price. “It's just going to be good old-fashioned hockey.”
Pittsburgh (No. 4) versus Tampa Bay (No. 5)
Season series: Teams split 2-2-0.
The Penguins managed to hang tough despite playing without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for almost half a season.
They've relied on scoring by committee without their star players and will lean heavily on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Crosby has yet to be cleared for contact in practice and is unlikely to make an appearance in the series.
Tampa returns to the post-season after missing the last three years and should have the edge offensively. Veteran forward Martin St. Louis finished the season with 99 points and is complimented nicely by Steven Stamkos and a resurgent Vincent Lecavalier.
Dwayne Roloson is a somewhat of a question mark in goal. The 41-year-old hasn't appeared in a playoff game since helping Edmonton reach the Stanley Cup final in 2006.
WESTERN CONFERENCE
Vancouver (No. 1) versus Chicago (No. 8)
Season series: The Canucks went 2-1-1.

Nothing short of the Stanley Cup will do for the Canucks, who captured the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy.
They'll have to overcome familiar foe to make it happen. Chicago dispatched Vancouver from the playoffs the last two years but will find itself as an underdog this time around.
On paper, this is the strongest Canucks team ever with three players inside the top-15 in NHL scoring — including Art Ross Trophy winner Daniel Sedin — and goaltender Roberto Luongo coming off one of his strongest seasons. Another piece of good news came over the weekend when defenceman Dan Hamhuis returned from a concussion.
Chicago was fortunate to qualify for the playoffs after failing to beat Detroit on Sunday and will be in tough to win a second straight championship. It will be the first NHL playoff series as a No. 1 goalie for Corey Crawford, who spent last year in the AHL.
San Jose (No. 2) versus Los Angeles (No. 7)
Season series: Sharks went 3-1-2.
Goaltender Antti Niemi leads the Sharks into the playoffs and will be looking to win the Stanley Cup for the second time in as many years.
Niemi, signed away from Chicago last summer, had a strong second half of the season. The Finn won nine of his final 11 starts.
San Jose's big three forwards — Patrick Marleau (73), Joe Thornton (70) and Dany Heatley (64) — each finished with lower point totals than a year ago and will need to step it up for the franchise to finally get over the hump.
Los Angeles enters the series without leading scorer Anze Kopitar, but is hoping to get Justin Williams back from a dislocated shoulder. He's been cleared to return to practice this week.
Detroit (No. 3) versus Phoenix (No. 6)
Season series: The Coyotes went 2-0-2.
A rematch of a first-round series from last year, which was won by the Red Wings in seven games.
Detroit earned 100 points for the 11th straight season and is seeking its fifth Stanley Cup in the last 14 years. However, the Red Wings stumbled down the stretch and forward Henrik Zetterberg remains questionable for the start of the series with an apparent knee injury.
The Coyotes put together another solid year despite only having one player (Shane Doan) reach 20 goals. Ilya Bryzgalov has been a rock in goal and could end up being a key to this series.
Anaheim (No. 4) versus Nashville (No. 5)
Season series: The Predators went 3-1-0.
The Ducks roared into the playoffs thanks in large part to Corey Perry, who scored 19 goals over the final 16 games to put himself in contention for the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
Dan Ellis, Anaheim's third goaltender, could get the call in Game 1 because Ray Emery is battling a lower-body injury and Jonas Hiller continues to struggle with vertigo.
The Predators finished the season on a 9-2-1 run, but failed to clinch home-ice advantage by losing to St. Louis on Saturday night. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has been the team's top performer with a .930 save percentage and 2.12 goals-against average.
Nashville is hoping to advance past the first round for the first time in franchise history.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Marty Turco's 5 Dollar Faux Pas


The NHL is aware of a story that Chicago Blackhawks backup goaltender Marty Turco placed a wager with a fan during Tuesday's game against the Canadiens in Montreal.
"We are following up to understand the circumstances, but no, I would not term it a formal investigation," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.
There's a Twitter photo of Turco, sitting at the end of the Blackhawks' bench, apparently accepting a $5 bill from a fan.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville smiled Wednesday while addressing the incident.
"It's something that happened, we're handling it internally," he said.
Someone describing himself as a Canadiens season-ticket holder called a Montreal radio station and said the bet was made after Mike Cammalleri put Montreal up 1-0 in the second period.
"I bet him after the Canadiens scored that Chicago wouldn't score again," the caller said.
After the Blackhawks' Patrick Kane tied the game minutes later, money allegedly was exchanged.
"When they scored ... I gave him five bucks," the caller said. "I slipped it through the glass. He took it with no questions whatsoever. I wrote on the $5 bill with a Sharpie, 'Habs rule.' "
"I went triple or nothing after the second period, nobody scored. Into the overtime, I went, 'Marty, I'll give you 5-to-1 the Canadiens win the game.' He took the bet. When the Canadiens scored in overtime, he handed me back a wad of $5 bills. And inside ... was the $5 bill that I gave him that he crossed out 'Habs rule,' and wrote 'Turco rules.' "
In a text to ESPNChicago.com, Turco said: "I gave back his five, and wrote something back, yeah."
The fan told the Chicago Tribune that what he said was that it was a wadded up $5 bill.
The defending champion Blackhawks are fighting for their playoff lives. After beating the St. Louis Blues in overtime on Wednesday, Chicago holds the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with two games to play -- both against Detroit.
Turco signed a one-year, $1.3 million contract with the Blackhawks, who walked away from Antti Niemi last summer when an arbitrator awarded him a $2.75 million judgment.
It has been a disappointing season for Turco, who is 11-11-3 with a 3.02 goals-against average.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ex-Yale stalwart Mandi Schwartz dies


Mandi Schwartz, a Yale women's hockey player who was the subject of a continent-wide search for a bone-marrow donor, died on Sunday after a battle with leukemia. She was 23.
Schwartz died at 1:35 p.m. ET on Sunday, surrounded by her loved ones after an illness of almost two years.
She was a forward on Yale's women's hockey team and had a string of 73 consecutive games played, a player known for her tenacity and spirit.
She was also the sister of St. Louis Blues' 2010 first-round draft pick Jaden Schwartz.
"From the entire St. Louis Blues organization, our thoughts and prayers are with the Schwartz family during this difficult time," Blues president John Davidson said in a statement.
Schwartz, who had acute myeloid leukemia, found out in April 2010 that the cancer, which had been in remission since May 2009 had returned. A test earlier that month showed the cancer was back in remission.
Yale said marrow drives on behalf of Schwartz had, as of last September, added over 4,200 people to donor registries in the U.S. and Canada. Schwartz was a native of Wilcox, Saskatchewan in Canada.
She started playing hockey at 6 with her brothers. She was captain of the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame women's team in Saskatchewan before enrolling in Yale's Class of 2011.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Prospect Profile: JP Anderson

The Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors have been one of the top teams in the CHL all season long. Management had put together a strong core of both forwards and defensemen prior to the beginning of the 2010-11 season, but it has been J.P. Anderson, in his third year with the club, that has been perhaps most important to the Majors’ success. Anderson finished the season with a 38-10-1 record to go along with a 2.36 goals against average and a .911 save percentage, and while finishing the season strong in March helped his bid for Prospect of the Month, it has been his playoff performance that has earned him the honor. After giving up a goal in his first game of a best-of-seven series against Belleville, Anderson went on to record three straight shutouts to help bounce the Bulls from the playoffs in four straight games. 

It has been a banner year for Anderson; despite going undrafted, he chose to sign a contract with the San Jose Sharks earlier this season, he has been named CHL goaltender of the week on three separate occasions, and if his play in the first round of the playoffs is any indication, his Majors appear headed to a birth in the OHL finals – not to mention, as the host team, they receive a selection in the Memorial Cup regardless of playoff standing. 

He was a final cut for the 2011 Canadian World Juniors; however, still eighteen until the end of April, Anderson is eligible to play for team Canada again next year, and judging from his strong play to end the season and an impressive playoff run to date, he’s certainly the early favorite to stand between the pipes on the national stage next year in Alberta. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Jets fans rally for NHL revival in Winnipeg

More than 100 Jets fans gathered at the 4Play Sports Bar on Portage Avenue this afternoon for a sit-in rally supporting the possible return of the team.
Fans dug into plates of nachos, drank beer and watched highlight reels and recorded games of former Jets glory at the low-key event, while playing trivia and sharing the occasional speech.
"I don’t feel that we have to prove anything. We’ve done everything," said Jets fan Alex Snell. "We’ve sold out World Junior games out in Winnipeg, in Grand Forks. We’ve sold out events at the MTS Centre, every time we have something important here.
"We don’t need massive rallies."
Snell and friend Ryan Abbott believe the MTS Centre, Canada’s strong dollar and the NHL’s new structure, which includes a cap on player salaries, play well into Winnipeg’s favour – something that didn’t exist when the Jets left in 1996.
"We’re kind of seeing a perfect storm. It almost has to be next season, if not the season after that," said Snell.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Congratulations, Vancouver!

After four decades of futility, the Vancouver Canucks have reason to celebrate. The franchise claimed the President’s Trophy, given to the team that finishes the NHL regular season with the most points, for the first time in their history last night. It was fitting way to crown the 40th year of the team playing in the NHL. Having begun life out in the PCHL back in 1945 before moving to the WHL in 1952, the Canucks stepped up to the big time in 1970. In that time they have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals twice, being swept by the Islanders in 1982 and going down 4-3 to the Rangers in 1994.
Winning the Presidents’ trophy far from guarantees a return to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011 for the Canucks. The Red Wings, in 2008, are the only team to win both the President’s Trophy and Stanley Cup in the same season since the lockout. Finishing the year on top does still have its perks. Finishing at the head of the class will give Vancouver’s players a massive confidence boost ahead of the post-season, as will the all-important home ice advantage that comes with it. Right now the Canucks are the best around and it’s going to take a good team to bring them down.