A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The home stretch starts

Today, the McPaper had a pretty cool special section devoted to the NHL. It's chock full of good stuff, including report cards, a list of things to watch out for in the remainder of the season, and a cover story on my beloved Canes.

In other news, If Detroit wins its game tonight, the Penguins will be mathematically eliminated from contention for the President's Cup. Not that they're a contender, but it could become official tonight. Speaking of which, please note the "Who will win the President's Cup" poll I have set up in the sidebar. You can cast your vote once per week.

Monday, February 27, 2006

the people responsible have been sacked

Moments ago, I inadvertantly posted something here that was meant for my non-hockey blog. I apologize profusely for the mistake. I have fixed the error, and I assure you it won't happen again.

The people responsible for that oversight have been sacked.

Good news on the Vasicek front.

I damn near cried with joy when I read this article(photo from hurricanes.com) in the Raleigh News & Observer, about Josef Vasicek's recovery process from his knee surgery. In November, he was forced to undergo surgery to repair an MCL tear to his left knee. He was deemed "out for 4-6 months". The front end of that estimate would put him back in the lineup just as the season is winding down. According to the article, he's progressing quite nicely, and should be closer to the front end than the back end of that estimate. Hopefully, then, he'll be not only in the lineup, but back up to speed by the start of the playoffs.

I know he's still a ways off, but it's great just to hear that he's actually practicing with the team. And that he's eager to get back. I'm not going to foolishly hope for anything other than a "late March" return. If that ends up being the case, he'll get about ten or twelve games before the playoffs start. Hopefully, that'll be enough time to find his legs and get in a groove.

There are those who will say "It ain't broke, so don't fix it!". And I will say that I would have absolutely no problem sending Andrew Ladd down to Lowell, where he would give them a better chance at winning the Calder Cup. I love Andrew Ladd, and he's going to be a huge part of this organization for years to come (I hope), but when Big Joe comes back, the best place for Ladd will be Lowell. He likes the bars there, anyway.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Congrats, Sweden

Congratulations are in order for team Sweden for their gold medal victory over Finland. Both teams had a phenomenal tournament, and it truly is a shame to see it end.

Amid all the talk about reverting to using amateurs in the Olympics, it was really nice to see the genuine elation on the faces of the Swedes and the heartbreaking devastation on the faces of the Finns. Honestly, as they were receiving their silver medals, they looked like they had just been told that they had won the lottery, but that their wives had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

I wonder who's more unhappy. Jes Gölbez, or the Finns.

NHL play will resume on Tuesday, with 12 teams in action. The Canes will resume their schedule with a home game against Boston on Wednesday.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sometimes it's hard work being a hockey fan

Being a hockey fan is great. I wouldn't trade it in for any other sport. Sometimes, though, it can be work. We all have had the experience of explaining the offside rule to our non-hockey fan friends. We have to explain the difference between a legal check and an illegal one. We have to explain line changes and delay of game. We have to explain all sorts of things that our friends have questions about. And we do it with a smile on our faces because we think we're going to convert someone to hockey. Education is key, and we're glad to do it. Sometimes, though, we all get engaged in "explain this to me" conversations that we loathe. I've recently been in a few such conversations. The following are actual excerpts from actual conversations I had last week.

Mike: Hey, aren't there two hotshot rookies this year?
Me: Yeah. Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
Mike: Yeah. I knew there was a Russian and an American.
Me: Canadian.
Mike: Huh?
Me: Canadian. Sidney Crosby is Canadian.
Mike: No. No. I'm pretty sure he's American. They keep talking about a Russian and an American.
(this goes back and fourth a couple of times)
Me: (sternly) I'm telling you. He's Canadian.
Mike: (annoyed) Well, anyway... how 'bout that goal that the Russian scored?
Me: I guess you mean the one when he was laying on his back. Yeah. That was sweet.
Mike: No. It was like a shootout or something. The game was on the line and he went betwe...
Me: (interrupts) Marek Malik.
Mike: Huh?
Me: That was Marek Malik. In a shootout, in the fifteenth round. He shot the puck through his legs. Technically it should have been disallowed, but that's a hair-splitting issue that I'd rather not get into.
Mike: Nope. It was that rookie. They keep showing it and talking about him versus the American.
Me: Canadian. And (sternly) I'm telling you. That goal you're talking about was by Marek Malik. It was sweet as hell, though.
Mike: You're sure?
Me: Yeah.

And then this one:
Tripp: (points to my Hurricanes hat) You been to any games this year?
Me: Yeah. I've still got season tickets.
Tripp: What are there, like 50 games?
Me: There's 41 home games, and my package includes 24 of them. Sadly, there's only five more games that I get to go to in the regular season.
Tripp: Do you have playoff tickets?
Me: Well, I'm given right of refusal on my exact seat, and I'm gonna get the tickets. (goes into lengthy explanation of how playoff priority works)
So far, there's nothing wrong with this conversation, but it takes a turn here

Tripp: Do you think they'll do it again?
Me: (slightly puzzled) Well, it looks like we should make a deep run in the playoffs.
Tripp: That would be nice if they can get another one.
Me: Another one?
Tripp: Win the Stanley Cup again.
Me: We haven't won it before.
Tripp: Yeah. Just a few years ago.
Me: Ohhhhh. That was the Prince of Wales. We won that in 02, but lost to Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals.
Tripp: You sure? Cause I could have sworn...
Me: Yeah. I'm sure.
Tripp: Well, I guess you would know.
Me: (arrogantly) Yeah.

There was one other conversation that I can't recall the exact exchange (after all, I'm not Truman Capote). That third conversation started out with someone asking me "Why do we (Team USA) suck so bad?". I hate questions like that because there's no way they'll be satisfied with any answer. The question is too aggressive. It isn't like "hey, what do you think is the biggest problem".

Like I said, I'll answer questions about offside all day long. I'll explain the dynamics of a line change to the best of my ability. When I get annoyed is when I get in conversations like the first one. When someone who is out of their element doesn't want to hear the answers to their questions.

Is it because I acquaint myself with some really stubborn people, or does this happen to other people?

Friday, February 24, 2006

I am a dunce

I have been trying to make a nifty table showing the stats of all the Canes players from their play in Torino. However, something was going awry, and Blogger was leaving a huge space between my text and my table. I thought I got around that by disabling the "line break" thing in the template settings, but that took ALL line breaks out of the previous posts as well. It looked like crap. Without doing that, the post with the tables wasn't going to work, but I don't want to have to type the <br> and </br> commands every time I want a line break.

Any advice?

I know, another option would be to create a table in Excel, save it as a jpeg file, and upload the "image" to blogger, but that seems like a silly way to do that. Seriously, I'm at a loss here.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Modo pitches fit, leaves Torino.

By now, everyone's heard about Mike Modano's sharp criticism of Team USA's management and of coach Peter Laviolette. He wasn't pleased with the roster. He wasn't pleased with the travel arrangements. He wasn't pleased with the time-out taken early in the first period of the quarterfinals loss to Finland. He wasn't pleased with being benched in the third period. He wasn't pleased with the results. I don't know anyone who was, but that's beside the point. He spent a lot of time on Wednesday night railing the coaching staff and management.

Then, on Thursday morning, he skipped the final team meeting and flew home on his own. As unimpressed as I was by the play of team USA throughout the tournament, I am doubly unimpressed by Modo's act of childishness.

I'm not sure what else to say about this.

final four determined, Canada not there.

Surprisingly, Canada was ousted from the tournament on Wednesday when they got shut out by Russia 2-0. Since the US had already been knocked out, Canada was the next logical choice of a team for me to root for. However, that went by the wayside as well.

I think Finland will win the tournament. However, I'll be aggressively rooting for the Czech Republic. Finland will take on Russia and Czech will take on the "evil" Swedes on Friday to determine who will play for gold.

In support of Canes defenseman Frantisek Kaberle, and in support of injured winger Josef Vasicek, I'll be giving 101% of my support to team Czech.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

USA eliminated

On the 26th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, team USA lost to Finland 4-3 and was eliminated from play in the Olympic tournament. It was, though, very nearly another miracle. Finland was heavily favored to win, and despite having a two-goal lead twice, they had to fight off a furious rally by USA and narrowly got out of there with the win.

One thing I want to point out before I move on to the good stuff is that Derian Hatcher hurt team USA. I don't mean with the double-minor high stick. Actually, I think we got hosed on that call. On the third goal by the Finns, Hatcher had lost one of his gloves behind the American net. As the Finns worked the puck in front of the net, Hatcher retreated to get his glove, taking himself out of the play. The Finns were already on the power play, so this gave them a de facto five-on-three. Before he could get back, Jokinen found the net. Later, still in the second frame, Finland would cash in on a five-on-three to get what proved to be the game winner.

The Americans would battle through discipline problems to make it 4-3, and had lots of good chances in the final minute, but they couldn't tie it.

One thing that I liked, both as a team USA fan and a Carolina Hurricanes fan is that Erik Cole was a beast out there. He assisted on one of the goals, made some really great passes, created scoring chances. He was also really aggressive with his checking. He played a very inspired game. Also, down the stretch, as we frantically tried to tie the game, Doug Weight won every face off. Throughout the game, he was also up to his usual stuff, putting his team in a good position to score. He also picked up one assist.

The consolation for team USA is that it scored more goals against Finland than their previous five opponents COMBINED. They also became the first team to score a power play goal against Finland. Small consolation, I know.

Practices resume today for NHL teams, and the Hurricanes will be back in action a week from today in Boston.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I'm not saying I'm wrong, but...

So I jumped the gun on accusing Ricky Williams of having pot in his system. Now I regret that. You have to admit, though, it was a fair assumption to make. It was still wrong to make the assumption, but it was logical.

I have said this before about other athletes (most recently Rafael Palmiero), and I'll say again that these people should take more care in paying attention to the substances going in their bodies. When they have a list of chemicals they're not allowed to have, they should check ingredient lists on dietary supplements. If they have already flunked three drug tests, they should take extra care to keep those chemicals out of their bodies. Yes, there's a chance that whatever the substance is, it entered his body unbeknownst to him. I still maintain, though, that it's his responsibility to pay attention.

Now it may turn out to be some ingredient in Ricky's Propecia, or some ingredient in his Paxil. Or maybe even too much water in the urine. All they're saying now is "a drug other than marijuana". But we all remember how quickly the "it was Propecia" news followed the "Jose Theodore tests positive" news.

Again, I'm making an assumption here, but I think that they would have already told us about it rather than maintaining a silence about it.

Actually, this information should have never been made public since there are still some unknowns. But football fans need something to talk about, and this is certainly selling newspapers. Especially in Miami and Denver.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Oh, Ricky....

It seems like no other bloggers are writing about this, so I'll go ahead and take the plunge.
Ricky Williams is a complete and utter moron. He has flunked yet another drug test, his fourth. He sat out four games this past season after flunking his third drug test at the end of the 2003 season. He then spent a year in exile, hanging out with Lenny Kravitz and getting high every day. The Dolphins took a huge chance by letting the freak back on the team after he abandoned them, not to mention his previous drug problems.
Now Williams faces a mandatory one year suspension from the league because of his fourth positive test. There was no indication as to what he had tested positive for, but his past would suggest marijuana. Before anyone gets on their high (no pun intended) horse, I will mention that I do not smoke pot but I am in support of the legalization of it. That's a whole other issue. That notwithstanding, marijuana is currently illegal, AND (unlike the NBA)it is on the list of banned substances in the NFL. Sorry, but that's the way it is, and you know the rules.

I think the one year suspension is too light, actually. Williams has proven that he doesn't care about the sanctions that have been placed against him. He has made fools of the Dolphins front office for giving him another go. He is perhaps making a fool of Paul Tagliabue.

I'm sure that the Dolphins will tell him to take a hike, but I really do think that the league needs to tell him to take a permanent hike. This isn't about a guy getting busted with some weed. This is about a guy who repeatedly violates rules, repeatedly bitches about the sanctions against him, and repeatedly proves himself to be unworthy of the second, third, and fourth chances that were awarded him. If this isn't handled in a more aggressive fashion, it could turn out to be a Steve Howe-type situation. No, smart ass, not the guitarist from Yes. Same name, different guy. I mean the Steve Howe who was a baseball pitcher in the '80s. He tested positive for cocaine SEVEN TIMES, and ended up making a complete mockery of baseball and its then commissioner Fay Vincent. Vincent had handed Howe a lifetime suspension after the seventh positive test, leaving many to wonder why he took so long to make that move. However, after Vincent was forced to resign, Howe was able to pull some strings and got the suspension overturned. He indicated that he needed the cocaine to treat his Attention Deficit Disorder. Somehow, they accepted this, repealed the ban, and he was back in the saddle within months. Got that? Cocaine. To treat ADD. As if methylphenidate (Ritalin) doesn't do the trick.

Actually, even if they do suspend him, I'm sure he'll come up with some "Oh, I've been smoking reefer to treat my Social Anxiety Disorder. You don't want me to be ill, do you?" excuse. He's been using Paxil to counter the symptoms, but he's also been know to claim that marijuana makes it less prevalent.

Seriously, the NFL needs to call a turnover on downs on this issue. Williams failed to convert the fourth and twenty-seven. Sorry, buddy, but you don't get another chance.

End of rant.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Oh Canada..., where art thou?

Canada just got shut out for the second straight day. Granted, Finland has had a remarkable tournament, and has only given up TWO GOALS!!!!, but the team that nearly everyone was expecting to win gold is now in a tough spot.

At 2-2, they hold the third spot in the A pool, but their last game will be versus a very good Czech team on Tuesday. In fourth place is Czech, who is also at 2-2, but is behind Canada on goal differential. It should be a great game between those two teams on Tuesday.

I'm not sure what has happened to team Canada, but after scoring 10 goals in its first four periods, it has scored just two in its last eight periods.

USA can't get it done, but will back into medal rounds.

For the second straight day, team USA came out with the pedal to the metal. They looked much sharper and more focused than in the first couple of games. Both Saturday and Sunday, though, they lost 2-1 games, and have put themselves in danger of not making the cut. Granted, that "danger" is very slim, but it is present.

On Saturday, the Americans could only muster one goal on 30 shots versus Slovakia. Peter Budaj was having a great game, making lots of huge stops. However, he was leaving lots of juicy rebounds that we just couldn't convert into goals. Sure, part of it has to do with the way international hockey is officiated differently than NHL, and part of it has to do with a European style of defense versus a North American style, but in the end, we just couldn't put it in the net.

Sunday was a similar story. USA created lots of chances and they were in high gear for the whole game, but they only scored one goal on 25 shots against Sweden. USA even had two lengthy five-on-three sequences that they couldn't do anything with. The plays are there, but the goals aren't. And things aren't going to get any easier, as the boys will take on the en fuego Russian team on Tuesday to wrap up round-robin play. Unless they lose by more than 17 goals, they'll make it to the elimination round, but with a disappointing fourth seed out of the B pool. Honestly, few people expected USA to win a medal, but I don't think anyone would have guessed that they'd barely qualify for the medal round.

Things will get really tough in the first round of elimination play, as they'll have to go against Finland, who has been by far the best team in the tournament. As I write this, they're well on their way to handing Canada it's second consecutive shutout loss. There may be a whole other post about Canada's disappearing act.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A tip of the cap to the Cap.

Between 1999 and 2004, the Carolina Hurricanes were blessed to have Ron Francis as their Captain. He was one of the greatest and most underrated players in the history of our sport. This season, that role was taken over by Rod Brind'Amour, who has had a sensational season, playing with a verve that belies his age. For once, the rest of the league is taking notice. Even if the powers that be with Team Canada didn't.

The Doug Weight trade notwithstanding, the Whalers/Hurricanes franchise hasn't been known for making aggressive trades. The trade that brought Rod Brind'Amour to Carolina was sort of aggressive, sort of a cancer removal. That needs some backstory.

The Ron Francis Trade (version 1.0), which sent Ulf Samuelsson and Francis to Pittsburgh in 1991 for spare parts, was one of, if not the worst trade in the history of the NHL. In a sweet karmic twist, Francis would return to the Canes as a free agent in 1998. That season, however, Keith Primeau, the man who would eventually be trade bait for Rod Brind'Amour wore the C.

Primeau had replaced Kevin Dineen as Captain for the 98-99 season. He scored 62 points (30/32), which was tops on the team. During the off season, contract negotiations were rocky at best, and Primeau ended up holding out. The season started, and Primeau was unsigned. November came and went. December came and went. Primeau turned down offers of $12M/3 years and $20M/5 years. He was looking for $17M/4 years. Gary Roberts, then with the Canes, was fed up with the extensive holdout, and knew the damage it was doing the team.
"He has hung this entire team out to dry."

Peter Karmanos, Canes owner was furious, and put it a little more bluntly:
''We refuse to pay a prima donna, a petulant, pouting player who had 30 goals last year the same money as Toronto is paying Mats Sundin or Pittsburgh is paying Jaromir Jagr, who are consistent 100-point-a-year players or at least one-point-a-game players.... We didn't think Keith would refuse to play, but as we go on we learn our lessons just like everybody else.''

That is actually one of my favorite all-time hockey quotes.

You may not know all the details surrounding that Primeau/Brind'Amour trade. You think you do, but you don't.

Here's what you didn't know: The Hurricanes were this close to making a Keith-for-Keith trade. They had Keith Tkachuk, then of the Coyotes, on the hook. The only thing was that Tkachuk had one of those crazy escalating salaries which would have gone from $4.3M in 1999-2000 to $8.3M in 2000-01. Karmanos yanked the deal off the table, chiming in again with another gem of a comment:
"Keith Tkachuk has a stupid contract.... The reason (the Coyotes) would think about trading Tkachuk is because they don't want to carry his contract. I would not want to take on his contract, but that doesn't mean I don't want to put a competitive team on the ice."

There were a number of other trade possibilities. Another one involving Phoenix was Jeremy Roenick. There were a couple of other deals rumored to have been in the works with Philly, but none of them ever became serious.

Fortunately for the Canes, the deal that ultimately worked out ended up being better than any of those might have been. On January 23, 2000, the Canes sent Primeau and a draft pick to the Flyers for Rod Brind'Amour, a pick and Jean-Marc Pelletier. Neither player made an immediate impact on their new team.

In 2000-01, Primeau had a great season for the Broad Street Bullies, scoring 73 points (34/39) in 71 games while Brindy had 56 (20/36)in 79 games. Between 2001 and 2004, the players have put up similar numbers to each other, making it difficult to determine which team got the better deal.

If you take this year by itself, however, the Canes have to be ecstatic with their side of the deal.

With 53 games played thus far, Brindy has 49 points (23/26), and is on pace for a 72 point season. His 16 power play goals are a career high, and put him in fifth place in the league in that category. However, it's the less glamorous stuff that makes us really love our Captain.

For instance, Brindy has taken a staggering 1,484 faceoffs, and has won 899 of them. The 60.6% is tops in the league. Nobody is even close to those numbers. Joe Thornton is second with 1,230 faceoffs taken with 646 won. Among forwards, he is first in the league with a monstrous average of 24:39 ice time. The next closest is Ilya Kovalchuk with an average of 22:31. He is second in the league among forwards for blocked shots with 64. As evidenced by his 16 power play goals, Brindy is a key member of the power play. He's also been key on the kill. Carolina has been the fifth least penalized team in the league, so there hasn't been much penalty killing to speak of compared to previous seasons. Brindy does have two shorthanded points (1/1), and has been a big part of the team making a big improvement on the kill from 03-04 to 05-06. These are the things that make him a wonderful candidate for the Selke trophy.

Then there's the intangible stuff. The way he carries himself on and off the ice. The way he is the first person to show up for practice and the last one to leave. The way he leads by quiet example. The way he never makes waves. The way he plays hurt.

I'm completely baffled that Brindy wasn't even on the long list of Team Canada candidates.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Rough day for USA Women

Today was a rough day for the USA women's teams in curling and hockey.

The hockey gals suffered a tough loss to Sweden. After taking a 2-0 lead, they let the game get away, eventually taking it to a shootout. They were then shut out in the shootout, and handed their first ever loss to any country not named "Canada". This means that the best they can do is bronze. This is a major disappointment, and quite frankly, a big shock.

The "curl girls" also suffered a setback today, losing a very tight match to the Russian team. The almost crushworthy¹ Cassie Johnson made a terrific throw on the last stone to force an extra end, but the Russians prevailed in the eleventh. The loss today makes it extremely unlikely that they will be able to medal. Not only would they have to win the remainder of their round robin games, but they would need some help as well.

Meanwhile, on the men's side, they continued to roll with a decisive victory over Switzerland. With three games remaining in the 9 game round-robin, the American team is tied for second place with four wins and two losses. They have a very good shot at a medal.

The men's hockey tournament took the day off. On Saturday, team USA will have a big test against the high-powered Slovakian National team. Puck drop is at 2:00 eastern.

¹ It should be noted that although Cassie is incredibly cute, and a good athlete, she chooses to listen to Korn. Thus, her value drops dramatically.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

US tops Kazakhstan

Team USA looked good on Thursday in their 4-1 victory over the overmatched Kazakhstan team.

John Grahame was replaced in goal by Rick DiPietro, who was apparently pitching a fit about Grahame's #1 status. He looked good, but he only faced 12 shots.

Kazakhstan was too busy taking penalties to mount any serious offensive threats. They had ten minor penalties to only five for the United States. However, the USA was only able to convert two of the ten power play chances. Both of those came in the first frame.

Carolina Hurricanes representatives Doug Weight and Erik Cole each had one assist, and both looked really good out there. Poor Keith Tkachuk had about seventy million great chances, but he just couldn't find the net. He looked very good as well.

With three points, USA finds themselves in second place of group B. The going is going to get really tough from here on out. On Saturday, the boys play Slovakia. Sunday, they will play Sweden, and on Tuesday they'll finish up round-robin play against Russia.

Speaking of Sweden, how strange is it to see the Sedins out there without Anson Carter?

a day full of surprises, so far

I've had the day off, and when I started watching Sweden-Russia, I heard the surprising news that Switzerland had defeated Czech Republic 3-2. Unfortunately, the Swiss didn't have Martin Gerber in goal with a chance to redeem himself. They were very happy with the play of David Aebischer, who stopped 40 of 42 Czech shots.

Finland continued their romp through pool A with a 6-0 pasting of Italy. They've yet to yield a goal, but their road will become much tougher when they face Czech Republic on Saturday.

Russia sort of dominated Sweden after a scoreless first period. It ended up 5-0, but loudmouth Ilya Kovalchuk was held pointless. They will face Kazahkstan on Saturday.

I started flicking back and forth between the Sweden-Russia game and the USA-Sweden Men's curling. It was a really good game, and USA ended up with an upset victory thanks to some great rocks by Pete Fenson in the ninth and tenth ends.

Actually, before the USA-Kazakhstan hockey game, I ought to be watching the Women's curling versus Sweden. Yes, I'll admit that part of the draw is that our team features the Johnson sisters, who are quite good looking. I'm upset that the Canadian team doesn't feature any of the girls I developed crushes on during last year's Tournament of Hearts.
Edit: That curling match isn't on TV. Alas...

Put that in your crack pipe and smoke it, Ilya!

After running his mouth about how "not up to standard" the Slovakian goaltenders were, Peter Budaj got his just desserts by stopping 20 of 23 Russian shots en route to a 5-3 upset victory for Slovakia on Wednesday. Ilya Kovalchuk had one assist and no goals against the supposedly inferior Slovakian goaltender.

With a very difficult match against Sweden on Thursday, Russia could find itself in an impossibly deep hole. I, for one, would find it very funny after all the smack Kovalchuk talked.

The Russia-Sweden game will come on at 10:00 am eastern time. I'll be watching. Rooting for the "evil" Swedes. Technically, I'm rooting against Ilya Kovalchuk, but who's counting?

Arturs Irbe pleads his case

Team USA may have outplayed Latvia on Wednesday afternoon, but where it counted, they played to a 3-3 tie.

Early on, Arturs Irbe, the former Hurricanes netminder, showed that he wouldn't be easy to solve. Somehow, though, USA got out to a 2-0 lead midway through the first period before giving up one to make it uncomfortably close at the first intermission.

Before the tournament started, Irbe said that he wanted to play in the NHL again, and would use the Torino Games to showcase his skill. I know it's only one game, but I'd say he did a great job. The Americans threw 42 shots at him, including 19 in the third period, and he stopped 38 of those shots. Without such solid goaltending, USA would have easily won the game and earned the two points. Instead, USA will have to work a little harder throughout the remainder of the round-robin.

I didn't get to watch the whole game. I watched the first period from home, then I got to watch about half of the third period while I was at work. At work, the volume was off and the captioning on. I should mention that USA Network has the WORST. CAPTIONING. EVER. Throughout the game, the person typing in the captions was mistakenly typing Q for S and A for C. It was really distracting until I figured it out, and then it was just downright annoying.

Take for example, this little bit. There was an incident in which the door to the Latvian bench was broken. The refs stopped play and had a maintenance guy fix the door. What the announcer said was "They can't resume play until they get the door secured." What the caption-typer typed was "THEY CAN'T REQUME PLAY UNTIL THEY GET THE DOOR QEAURED" Maybe it's just me, but it was a major distraction.

Aside from that, I HATE the way the NBC Network, including the USA Network doesn't have the time/score constantly on display. It's annoying to have to wonder how much time is left in the power play, or how much time is remaining in the period. We need to have this stuff visible to us at all times. Incidentally, this is the same complaint I have about NBC's coverage of NASCAR. They don't keep us updated on the running order or the laps remaining or any of this. Not that I'm a huge NASCAR fan, but they have cruddy coverage.

Anyway, Team USA came out looking pretty good despite not having any time to practice together. They just came up against a goaltender having a fantastic game. I hope for Archie's sake that someone takes notice and gives him a job in the NHL.

I can't really say, since I didn't see the whole game, but Erik Cole looked really good. One sequence I saw, he stole the puck at the USA blue line, carried it all the way into the Latvian end, and put a good shot on net, but Irbe answered the bell. Aside from that, it looked like he was playing a really balanced game. If he continues to play well, he should find the net many times in the remainder of the tournament.

On Thursday, USA will take on Kazakhstan at 3:00. I have the day off, so I'll spend it watching hockey.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Kolzig shines in 4-1 loss.

Team Czech defeated Germany 4-1 on Wednesday afternoon, but the game was much closer than that. Thanks to some fantastic goalkeeping by Olie the Goalie, Germany was able to keep it close until the final minutes.

On his 34th birthday, Jaro Jagr picked up a goal in the eighteenth minute of the third period on a bad bounce. He came in across the blue line and ripped a wrister on goal. Kolzig stopped it, but somehow it trickled through his pads and in the net. Out of 100 times, he'd stop that shot 99 times. This was just a bad break. Two minutes later, with an empty net, the Czechs got another goal. This one from David Vyborny, who has represented Czech in many international tournaments, but never before in the Olympics.

So despite the 4-1 score, the game was much closer than that. Make no mistake: the Germans have a good team. Certainly if Kolzig is on his game, they can compete with anyone. And he was very much on his game.

Kudos should be given to Tomas Vokoun, who stepped in to replace the injured Hasek. He did an outstanding job as well, stopping 20 of 21 shots.

I noticed, by the way, that Tomas Kaberle's English is much better than his brother's. It's really painful to watch an interview with Frantisek, but Tomas speaks English very clearly. I also noticed that the announcers refuse to say his name correctly. I'm not going to go all Gölbez on this, but it isn't difficult. It should be pronounced like "toe-MOSS" rather than the anglo "TAH-miss". It's not hard.

At 2:00, the Russians take on the "substandard" Slovakians. At 3:00, USA takes on Arturs Irbe and Latvia. Unfortunately, I'll have to miss all but the first period.

Ilya Kovalchuk runs his mouth again

This won't come as a surprise to anyone, but Ilya Kovalchuk is an ass.

Apparently, he has told Russian newspapers that the Slovaks are no good. Today, Russia will take on Slovakia at 2:00 eastern. I don't have a link to the actual comment, but according to the commentary during the Czech-Germany game, Kovalchuk has told Russian papers:
The Slovakian goalies aren't up to standard. They should be a trump card for us

Jeez. Maybe he should just go ahead and call his shot. Point to the left field bleachers.

The last time I checked, Yvgeni Nabokov is having a less than stellar season. Khabibulin is hurt. The other netminder for Russia, Ilya Bryzgalov, certainly isn't capable of carrying the load. So the Russians aren't looking rock solid in net.

Anyway, I'm hoping that the Russians get shut out today, just to teach Kovalchuk a lesson about running his stupid mouth.

Team USA ready to play

Finally, all of Team USA has arrived in Torino, and they actually managed to work in a one hour practice, but that's all they've seen of each other. Due to the massive snowstorms on the east coast of the United States, everyone's travel plans were pushed back, giving the team little time to prepare. They will open play this afternoon at 3:00 et versus Latvia.

Already today, gold medal favorite Canada undressed host Italy with a 7-2 romp. Iggy scored twice. Dany Heatley, Brad Richards, Shane Doan, Martin St. Louis, and Joe Thornton added a goal apiece. Italy, who has nine Canadian born and two American born players, managed to tie the game at one early. However, they never really posed a serious threat.

Another contender for gold, Sweden, enjoyed the same fate. They defeated Kazakhstan 7-2. They don't have the services of Foppa, and they started their third string netminder, but they still got the job done against the eleventh seeded team. Daniel Tjarnqvist had two goals, while Daniel Alfredsson, Mats Sundin, P.J. Axelsson, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin each had one goal. Foppa, who is nursing an injured groin, may join the team on Friday.

The Czech-Germany game is in progress, and tied at one in the second period.

Yesterday, in Women's action, the Canadian team finally surrendered a goal, but easily beat Sweden 8-1. The United States also gave up their first goals, and had to rally from down two goals to win. However, they did so commandingly, finishing off Finland 7-3. As expected, Canada and USA head into the medal round seeded 1-2. The Women's medal rounds will begin on Friday, and the finals will be on Monday. It would take an upset of massive proportions for the gold medal game to be anything other than Canada-USA.

Update: Tomas Kaberle has scored his second goal, putting the Czechs up 2-1. However, there is bad news for the Czechs. Dominik Hasek was forced to leave the game in the first period due to a leg/groin injury.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

After the break, a very strange home stretch.

While the NHL takes a pause for the Olympic Games, everybody gets a chance to rest up their groins and "upper bodies". They get to hang out with family and friends. They get to watch what should be a great tournament.

When the break is over, most teams will have 24 games left on their plate. Carolina will have 25 games to protect their 14-point divisional lead, and their narrow three point conference lead. 11 of these 25 games will be at home. The Canes will have one five game road swing, one four game road trip, and another string of three straight road games. The five game trip and the four game trip are interrupted by a lone home game against the Rangers on March 14. The tail end of the five game swing features two consecutive games at Florida on March 10 and 11. The four game road trip takes us to every Northeast barn except Ottawa, who we played four times in the first half of the season.

It looks like most teams will be having a division-heavy final stretch, and Carolina has 11 of their final 13 games against Southeast opponents. This will give everyone else a chance to catch up, or hopefully, give Carolina a chance to really distance themselves.
Included in the 11 Southeast games:

  • Five games against the Caps. Three of those will be consecutive games (April 3, 5, 7), including two consecutive games (April 5, 7) at the MCI Center.
  • Three games against the Bolts, including a consecutive-night home-and-home. April 14 in Raleigh, and April 15 in Tampa
  • One game at home against Florida
  • Two games at Atlanta.

The Canes will close the season at home against the Sabres, who will be vying for a top spot in the conference.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Canes bounce back against Sabres, earn 82nd point.

On Sunday evening, the Hurricanes bounced back from a two game skid to defeat the visiting Buffalo Sabres in shootout. It was a terrific game from start to finish.

Before the game, we raised banners to the ceiling in honor of our seven players heading off to the Olympics, and of course head coach Peter Laviolette. Each banner has the players' name, his nation's flag, the Torino Games logo, and the Hurricanes logo. As far as I know, these banners will only be temporary. Like the Francis sweater, these hang directly above me, so I had to wait until the game was over to get a good shot of them. Note the final score on the scoreboard. Click the photo for an enlargement.

Nic "the Secret Weapon" Wallin started things off at 16:16 of the first with a blast from the point on an errant clearing attempt by the Sabres. The unassisted goal got just over Miller's shoulder on the glove side, and somehow, under the crossbar. That would be the only scoring in the first.

J.P. Dumont knotted it at one at the 7:36 mark of the second on a really nice play that started with a long pass from Paul Gaustad. Maxim Afinogenov then centered it to Dumont who easily beat Gerber from the right faceoff dot.

Exactly one minute later, Erik Cole potted his 26th goal of the season when Cory Stillman found him all alone in front of the net. Cole was, as Canes radioman Chuck Kaiton would say, shaking hands with Ryan Miller, and when he took Stillman's pass, he had time to settle the puck, pick his spot, and lift it backhanded over Miller's glove side shoulder. Truthfully, it didn't matter where he shot it because Miller was spread-eagle face down. Something about a rented mule. Eric Staal picked up the secondary assist on the play. It was the 39th helper of the season for both Staal and Stillman.

At 16:58 of the second, J.P. Dumont struck again, with his second goal of the game and his tenth of the season. He got about forty thousand whacks at it as Gerber couldn't freeze the puck after Kotalik's shot from the right point had the Canes netminder handcuffed. The secondary assist on the power play goal went to Campbell.

Once again, there was another goal less than a minute later. This time, though, it was the Sabres with the follow-up. Derek Roy got his seventh goal of the season at 17:35 after a sloppy clearing attempt by Carolina's Oleg Tverdovsky. Afenogenov got the only assist on the goal.

At 5:37 of the third, Viva tied the game at three when he redirected a Ray Whitney shot from the left point. In real-time, it looked to me like it was redirected off Weight, then Brindy, but they said Viva. Cullenator X got the other assist.

There would be no scoring for the remainder of regulation.

The overtime period was DOMINATED by the Canes, but they couldn't put one in. In the five minute stanza, they tested Miller seven times, while the Sabres only fired upon Gerber once.

And so it went to shootout, where the Canes had a record of 5-1 to the Sabres' 4-3.
It went to six rounds, and in the bottom of the sixth, it was Staal who got the winner.
I still think the player with the winner should get credit for a "game winning goal", but they don't even count the "goal" for personal stats.

It was a fantastic game that had a great ending. There was a full house, and we ended our mini-slump. When we come back from break, there;s just 25 games to go. Buckle up, 'cause this is gonna be a wild ride.

With 82 points, the Canes head into the break atop the Eastern Conference. They are one point behind Detroit, with a game in hand on the Wings.

During the break, I'll be shifting my focus to the red white and blue. Get all your Olympic hockey coverage right here. Atleast if it concerns team USA. I'll make an effort to write about Women's hockey too, but I can't make any promises.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A little house cleaning.

I'll write something about Carolina's 4-3 shootout victory over the visiting Sabres. First, however, I did some house cleaning that's worth mentioning.

The "Andrew Hutchinson hot dog with cheese monitor" is gone. Hutch surpassed the eight points required for my reward of a really nasty looking hot dog with cheese. There's no point in taunting Jes any further.

I took down the poll about the Doug Weight trade. There were 24 total votes cast. 63% (15 votes) said that Carolina got the better deal; 25% (6 votes) said that Doug Weight got the better deal; and finally, 13% (3 votes) said that St. Louis got the better deal.

I have posted two new polls. One for who will win the Women's hockey gold, and one for who will win the Men's hockey gold.

A few minor changes to the blogroll.

I moved the link to my e-mail to the top of the sidebar. More than a couple of people have had difficulty getting in touch with me through the preferred e-mail address.

Please keep in mind, if you try to make a comment to the blog, I have employed the robot detector, so you'll have to jump through one hoop. Some comments from Sunday never made it through the filter, so you may need to try again.

As always, I'm open to suggestions for improving the page. Feel free to offer any tips or suggestions. Unless, of course, your suggestion is "start rooting for the Kings".

Speaking of Kings, if anyone wants to earn some cool points, there is a former Kings player in the photo on the masthead of this page. If you can name the player, name his claim to fame, and point out the connection that his claim to fame has to the Hurricanes, you'll get mega-cool points. If you really search the archives of this page, I've written about it before, but didn't specifically mention that he's in the photo.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ted Leonsis only thinks he is a real person.

I just read over at Japers' Rink about the "public release" of Ted Leonsis' blog. I thought I would go over there to check it out. In case you don't know, Leonsis is the owner of the Caps and vice chairman of AOL.

At first, I was kind of impressed by the way he comes off as a normal guy. He wrote a little about the night that he hosted JP and his wife in the owner's box. He has links to Japers' Rink and Eric McErlain's Off Wing Opinion, who was also a guest of Leonsis.

He's written about how he likes the Georgetown Hoyas. He's written about the Superbowl commercials. He's written about what's playing on his iPod. I was impressed with that, by the way. I like that he's into the Dandy Warhols and the Breeders.

So he seems a little bit like a normal guy.

That is, of course, until I clicked on the link about his 101 goals in life. Most of them have something to do with sports. Many of them (far too many) have to do with money, material possessions and world domination. He's a self-proclaimed philanthropist, but only six of those 101 goals have anything to do with helping anyone whose surname isn't Leonsis. Even then, one of his "charity" goals is at least partially self-serving. Goal #39:
Have a building/perpetual memorial named after the family

The whole list, to me, reeks of arrogance. Especially the way he checks them off the way a leathery bar whore adds notches to her lipstick case. Maybe he's a really swell guy, but you lose your "normal guy" cred when one of your goals in life is
15 Net worth of one billion dollars, after taxes

Granted, one of his goals is:
38 Give away one hundred million dollars in lifetime

.... but it's much further down the prioritized list than the perfect symbol of decadence:
30 Own a Ferrari

When my parents first got married, they made a list of their goals in life. They were really simple goals. "Have two children". "Own a home". "Go to graduate school". Things like that. I've seen their list, and I've seen Ted's. I'm not impressed. What would impress me is if he took "make a billion dollars" off the list, unchecked the "own a Ferrari" thing, unchecked the "own a yacht" thing, unchecked the "own a jet" thing, and was able to check off the "give away one hundred million dollars" thing.

I'd also be impressed if he were to invite me and my friends to his box for a return visit to the MCI center. I don't know if it would change my opinion of him, but if nothing else, I'd love to hear him talk about the Jagr-for-Carter-for-Jared Aulin trade. That's been bugging me for a long time, and anyone who's read this blog for a while has seen me reference it.

Ted Leonsis, normal guy? I don't think so.

EDIT --- February 14: Mr. Leonsis no longer owns the Ferrari. He found it to be an item of sheer decadance, traded it in for a SUV, and used the remainder to fund the construction of two Habitat for Humanity homes. Since he took the time to e-mail me on that point, I figure he can't be all bad.

Canes drop second game in a row despite Staal's big night

On Friday night, a very lackluster Hurricanes team lost to the visiting Penguins by a 4-3 tally. The loss was their second in as many days following the 5-3 loss at Tampa on Thursday night.

The two losses, though, were not similar in any way. On Thursday, the Canes played well, and just got outplayed in the end. As coach Laviolette summed it up "Maybe it just wasn't meant to be". The Canes got off to an über-quick start when Aaron Ward scored a goal at 00:23. Later, Babchuk would score at 4:00 of the first to make it 2-0, and the boys were seemingly off and running. After the Bolts surged back to tie it, Erik Cole netted one at 4:08 of the second, which sent Sean "Wife Choker" Burke to the showers. Carolina immediately put pressure on John Grahame, who came on in relief of the former Hurricanes netminder. However, it was to no avail, as Grahame would turn away all 28 shots he faced. It was really an amazing performance by the USA team member. If he can play like that in Torino, and if Gretzky's involvement in Wagergate can be enough of a distraction to team Canada, then the USA may have a great chance.

Seriously, I have to tip my hat to Grahame for absolutely stealing that game for the Bolts. Carolina did everything they could, but they just couldn't solve Grahame.

Friday was a completely different story. They came in flat-footed. Lethargic. Lackluster. Pluckless, Sans verve. Whatever you want to use to describe a bunch of guys who were scarcely even "going through the motions". Somehow, they managed to get 36 shots on goal, but I would still characterize their play as listless, dull and uninspired. I wonder if fatigue was a factor. They played on the road just 24 hours previous, and had in fact just gotten in from a three game road swing. I wonder also if the looming Olympic break had something to do with it. I don't know, but I wasn't happy at all about the way the boys played against the worst team in the league.

Cam Ward was rotten. He didn't have control of his rebounds, and he failed to ice the puck in key situations that led to Penguins goals. He only faced 26 shots, and he let four of them in.

There was one thing that I liked about the game. Eric Staal had a hand in all three goals. He scored his first goal at 19:59.6 of the first after Caron denied Viva on an excellent breakaway chance. The goal just beat the horn. In the second, he assisted Cory Stillman on a blue line blast for a power play goal to tie it at 2. Then, late in the third, while the Canes were on a five-on-three, Staal scored his second goal of the game .

After the three point night, Staal has 36 goals and 38 assists for a total of 74 points. With 26 games remaining, 100 points is well within reach. He totaled 31 points (11/20) in '03-04.

The game was refereed by Kerry Fraser. In the wake of Propeciagate, I wonder if aqua net is on the banned substance list.

Up next for the Canes will be a Sunday matinee against the visiting Sabres. My dear friend Amanda will be there rooting for her Sabres. I won't be sitting next to her.

After that, the NHL takes a two week break for the Olympics. During the interim, you may has well call this place "red, white and blue hockey".

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I will not be writing about Operation Slapshot, except to say "I will not be writing about Operation Slapshot"

Earlier today, I wanted to write a tiny little piece about Janet Jones' implication in the gambling ring. I wanted to include a sleazy photo of her, from when she was on the cover of Playboy with a pipe in her mouth. It would have been a brief, tongue-in-cheek post about her. However, I realized I didn't care enough, even about that.

I want to encourage everyone to read Jes Gölbez' excellent post on why he doesn't give a shit about Tocchet. And I will silently echo his sentiments.

I'll be brief about my thoughts on this, and then I'll write nothing more of it.

I think Wayne Gretzky is involved. There's no way he's not involved. Tocchet is already on "indefinite leave" and will surely be removed from his post. When the dust settles, and The Great One comes forward saying that he had to hide assets and/or launder huge sums of money, he will probably step down.

It's a shame, and some people will be disappointed. Is this going to be a "black eye"? Is this going to be "irreparable damage ... to what little image the NHL has left"? No. Absolutely not. This "scandal" isn't about hockey at all. Even if it was, I would point to the 1919 Chicago White Sox and also to Pete Rose. Both were involved in gambling scandals involving not only their own sport, but their own TEAM. Baseball wasn't injured by either of these. Our lot has already shown that it'll take more than a couple of "black eyes" or an entire season lost to a labor dispute to get us to walk away from the sport we love. I don't think this gambling thing will send any fans packing. The people who already hate hockey will still hate it. So what?

I am curious, though, as to why Gretzky was using his wife to launder a half million dollars.

That's all I'm going to say about that. Let the normal hockey blogging resume.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

a little break

I may not post anything for a couple of days. The Hurricanes are on a three day break. Team USA has already made the anticipated announcements about the roster adjustment and taxi squad.

Also, today is "The game". By that, I mean round one of the home-and-home Duke-UNC basketball series. Even if you're not from around here, you know about the Duke-UNC rivalry. Although UNC lost their top seven scorers from last season's National Championship team, they're playing better than most people expected. Also, no matter what, both teams rise to this occasion.

So tonight, at 9:00, Duke will travel the 10 miles to Chapel Hill for the biggest game of the season for both teams. On March 4, they'll do it again in Durham.

For the record, I was born in Chapel Hill, and that makes me a Tar Heel.

I plan, however, to write a longwinded post at the other place about some of the reasons that hockey is superior to football. I know I'm preaching to the choir here.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Canes presence on team USA quadruples.

With the Doug Weight trade, an injury, and the unofficial announcement of Team USA's taxi squad, the Hurricanes went from having one member of team USA to having four.

On Monday, the Canes acquired Doug Weight. You know all about that by now.

On Saturday, team USA indicated that Hurricanes defenseman Bret Hedican will replace injured Aaron Miller of the Los Angeles Kings.

Also, Team USA made a preliminary announcement about the taxi squad. The three players to be named will be Buffalo's Ryan Miller, Carolina's Matt Cullen, and defenseman Paul Martin of the New Jersey Devils.

None of this is official, but according to this NHL.com report, the announcements will be made Monday morning.

Ryan Miller has had a sensational rookie season between the pipes for the Sabres. The only thing that prevented him from making the big roster was an early season injury, from which he returned quicker than anticipated. As the "emergency" fourth backstop, it isn't likely that Miller will even travel to Turin, but there's still time for some developments that would lead to a roster spot for him.

Speaking of speedy injury recovery, there's more good news for the Canes. Matt Cullen did not need surgery on his jaw. He was expected to miss six weeks, but is now penciled into the lineup for Thursday's game at Tampa.

Canes win, Dougie makes splash

On Superbowl Sunday, the Carolina Hurricanes defeated Boston 4-3 by virtue of the shootout. Newly acquired Doug Weight got the game deciding "goal" in the fourth round of the shootout.

Details in the works.

Maybe I was wrong

I'm big enough to admit when I'm wrong, and maybe I have been.

Maybe I was letting my emotions get the best of me with respect to Scott Stevens. Maybe I should rescind all of my "I hate Scott Stevens" and my "Scott Stevens was a dirty player" comments.

After watching the #4 sweater retirement ceremony on Friday, maybe I should change my tune. Obviously I'm aware of all the milestones he reached, and I've always been respectful of that. However, I might want to revise my opinion about the way he played the game and the kind of person he is.

The fact that the Canes were on the bench to watch the ceremony says something about that. If they didn't respect him, they wouldn't be there. In fact, Rod Brind'Amour went out of his way to visit with Stevens at the tail end of the ceremony. The ceremony itself was nice, respectful, and subtle. I hope that teams will take a page out of that book and the Ron Francis retirement book rather than the Mark Messier book. In fact, I think Messier night is still in progress.

Here's where I will say what I was already thinking, and what the Canes TV announcers would not say. SHAME ON THE ATLANTA THRASHERS! For some unknown reason, the Thrashers stayed in their room during Ron Francis night. Francis was perhaps the classiest player ever, and there was no reason for them to abstain. In fact, that was a good opportunity for them to witness a bit of NHL history. But they decided to be the assholes that they are by not showing their respect.

The game ended unfavorably, but the ceremony was pleasant, and maybe I will look at Scott Stevens in a different light now.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Weight to debut tonight.

While the Devils will be celebrating the career and sweater retirement of Scott Stevens, the Canes have an unveiling of their own. Doug Weight will make his Hurricanes debut tonight.

When Weight joined the team for practice in Montréal on Wednesday, he was met with a media blitz. Loads of national and international media outlets were there to get the first glimpse of Weight donning the red and black. According to a story in the News and Observer, Andrew Ladd couldn't get to his locker because the room, and specifically Weight's stall, was so crowded with reporters.

Unlike most traded players, Weight was not asked to join the team immediately following the Monday trade. He spent an extra 48 hours with his family in preparation for the two week trip to Turin and the extended "road trip" that will be his stay with the Canes. It's no secret that Weight and his family love St. Louis, and that he may well return there next season. Although some crybabies over at the Canes forum are all bent out of shape about it, I have no problem with hiring a gun for a deep playoff run. No, this is not the Florida Marlins. We're not a whole team of hired guns. Yes, it would be great if we could sign him on for two more seasons, but if he wants to go back to St. Louis after this season, so be it.

Although he wasn't with the Canes on Tuesday night when they pasted the Habs 8-2, Weight watched the game on TV. Afterwards, he playfully expressed some regret for not joining the team immediately:

"I feel bad," Weight quipped. "Obviously they needed me."

I'm excited about his debut, but I'll be working tonight. I'll have to DVR the game and watch when I get home. Please don't send me text messages with score updates. I want to watch it like it's live.

Some very good news came yesterday. Aaron Ward will be activated from the IR for tonight's game. With Andrew Hutchinson going to surgery today, we'll have to press AWard back into service and hope for the best. No word on the return of Mikey Commodore.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

more goofing around with words

After reading Ingmar Bergman Shoots and Scores, and with my previous post still fresh, I decided to go over to metagrams.com to use the phrase anagrammer to see what I could come up with for the Hurricanes players.

If you are into Scrabble at all, this site is invaluable, mainly for its anamonic stem builder. Also, the anagramming tool is pretty neat for stuff like this.

I plugged in the name of each Hurricanes player. Some of them came back with thousands of anagrammed phrases. Some came back with only a few. Almost all came back with something cool. Without further ado, these are some of my favorites.

Eric Staal ----- Raise talc
Erik Cole ----- Creek oil
Justin Williams ---- Sunlit jail swim
Rod Brind'Amour --- Did run barroom
Martin Gerber --- Big Ten marrer
Chad LaRose --- chased oral
Cory Stillman --- Crimson tally
Ray Whitney --- Wintery hay
Mike Commodore -- Mimed coke room
Josef Vasicek --- Jocks vie safe
Kevyn Adams -- Masked Navy
Craig Adams -- Dig mascara?
Oleg Tverdovsky -- Sky got revolved
Frantisek Kaberle -- Streakier bank elf
Anton Babchuk -- Bacon bank hut
Andrew Ladd -- Landed Ward
Bret Hedican -- Hid Cabernet
Doug Weight --- God! Huge wit.

What do we learn from this? Brindy used to be a bartender. Craig Adams is into wearing makeup. Andrew Ladd has something going with one of the Ward boys. Bret Hedican is a practical joker when it comes to your wine. Doug Weight is one funny dude. Chad LaRose likes to be pleasured. Cory Stillman likes to keep stats for the University of Alabama. ....

Try it out with the players on your team, or try your own name. It's lots of fun.

Caveat: if you don't have an account with metagrams.com, you'll have limited use of the site. It's free to sign up, though.

The unintended benefits of the Doug Weight trade

A couple of weeks ago, I started to really geek out by drafting a post that broke down the rosters of all 30 NHL teams in terms of how many players' surnames would be valid plays in Scrabble.

Yeah, I know.

When I drafted the post, every team had at least one player who met the standard, except Pittsburgh. Since then, they have added Cory Cross to their roster. Players have gone down and come up since I wrote that, and it was WAY dorky in the first place, so I opted not to post it.

Also, when I wrote the draft, Carolina (with five) was second only to New Jersey (with six). Since then, Carolina has added Doug Weight.

Point being, Carolina now has six players whose surname would be a valid play in Scrabble:


Obviously, you wouldn't be able to play COMMODORE or STILLMAN without playing through some stuff already on the board.

Under an absolutely perfect set of circumstances, you could play COMMO__RE at 1A, 1O, A1, or A15 through an existing DO, for a bingo, hitting a triple-triple, with the second M on a double letter square. That play would be worth 221 points. But that's in a perfect set of circumstances.

For the record, my highest score on a single word was 212 for QUEUEING. One of the E was a blank, otherwise it would have also been 221.

Oh yeah. Then there's that whole thing about how none of you give a shit.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Reason # 4043 why the Blackhawks suck

I've been sitting on this for a while. Now that the 'Hawks have officially given up on this season, I figure it's okay to bring it up.

You can blame the Blackhawks' woes on a number of things. Most folks blame Nikolai Kabhibulin's collapse. Some folks blame piss poor management.

I blame hookers.

The following comes from the blog of my friend Hans. Hans lives in Chicago and is a server at a somewhat fancy restaurant.

Recently we had some guests come into the restaurant who were professional sports players from a certain well-known sports organization. My friend John waited on them, and I swear, this happened:

JOHN: How's the halibut?
JOHN: How did that compare to the halibut?

No word on whether the hooker was of the slot-machine variety.

For some unknown reason, Hans decided to protect the identity of the team with vague language, but he told me in IM that it was the Blackhawks. No word on which player had the hooker/halibut combo.

Visiting hookers and bragging about it to strangers is no way to make your team better. Less time in the red light district, more time in the practice facility.


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