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

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Weber suspended, Seidenberg out

In yesterday's Canada versus Germany game, Shea Weber delivered a head-high hit with an elbow against Yannic Seidenberg. I already wrote about this and congratulated the IIHF rules committee for having a ban on hits to the head and neck area. Weber was thrown out of the game.

After the game, Seidenberg was diagnosed with a concussion and has been deemed unable to play. It's likely that he'll miss the rest of the tournament.

Today, the IIHF threw the book at Weber. A 22-member directorate voted 19-3 to suspend him. The initial proposal was for five games, but the directorate decided three was enough. Weber will miss the remaining two round-robin games and the first game in the elimination round.

Here's the full report.

Gary Bettman, Colin Campbell? Are you paying attention?

USA cruises to 5-1 win, assures good seeding

On Sunday, the United States crushed Belarus 5-1 in IIHF play. They remain unbeaten, and have assured themselves a good spot in the elimination round. On Tuesday, they will meet Czech Republic -- who is also undefeated -- in the final game of round robin play.

Chad "Sharpie" LaRose (Fraser, MI), who barely missed scoring a goal on Friday, scored one. Defenseman Jack "I hate Carolina" Johnson (Indianapolis, IN) from the Kings scored the first goal of the game. St. Louis Blues winger Lee Stempniak (West Seneca, NY) scored two -- including the game-winner, and leads Americans with 3 goals in the tournament.

John "Crackers" Grahame (Denver, CO) was in pipes for the USA, and picked up his second win. So far, he hasn't really been tested. Certainly he will be on Tuesday.

The top three teams from each pool advance to the elimination round, and the US is guaranteed to finish no lower than second.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates from the IIHF World Championships.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sabres take 2-0 lead, Ruff pitches fit

On Friday night, the Sabres had to work hard late in the game to cling to a 3-2 lead, and now hold a 2-0 series lead over the Rangers as the teams head into Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon.

I was working, so I missed the game, but I talked to a Rangers fan out in the street late last night and he told me all about the heroics of Ryan Miller. In particular, the insane save he made against BitchJaro Jagr late in the third.

None of the game recaps mentioned it, but Sabres coach Lindy Ruff exploded on the refs late in the game for what he thought was a missed too many men call and a blown off-side call. He was apparently given a gross misconduct penalty. There's no record of a bench penalty for abuse of officials, so I'm guessing that it came in the tunnel after the game, in the style of Jim Schoenfeld v Don Koharski.

Anyway, Ruff has been fined an "undisclosed" amount. Neither the Buffalo News nor the New York Times mentioned this in their respective home-team coverage of the game, but it's all over the hockey websites.

I searched all over for some mention of it, or maybe some video of Ruff screaming at the officials. It was all to no avail. However, I did find this clip of Ruff which I will childishly post here. I am fully aware of the fact that this is hateful and juvenile.

For the record, I am also aware that Lindy Ruff had a productive career as a player in the NHL, while the coach of my team had a very short and unproductive (read : 12 games) career in the NHL.

Someone posted Ruff's little outburst. I don't know what precisely led to the fine and gross misconduct penalty. I'm guessing he referred to one of the officials as a cork soaker. Maybe it had something to do with something he said in the post-game presser. Anyway, here's the clip of Ruff screaming, then stomping off, then throwing things.

Canada squeaks past Germany

In IIHF play today, Canada just barely got past Germany 3-2 in the opening game of the Group C round robin. Germany, who has zero NHLers on its active roster, wasn't expected to have any chance, but thanks to a big mistake by Dwayne Roloson, they found themselves right in the thick of things against the favored Canadians.

Eric Staal had one of Canada's goals, and it was assisted by Justin Viva Williams. So far, then, four of Carolina's eight participants in the IIHF tournament have tallied points, and John Grahame picked up a win for USA. Only Mike Commodore and Chad LaRose have yet to make a mark. And Cam Ward didn't play. For some reason, Frantisek Kaberle isn't on Czech Republic's team.

Early in the game, there was a call that I wish would happen in the NHL. Shea Weber, who was second among Predators defensemen with 40 (17/23) points in 06-07, delivered a high hit to the head of Germany's Yannic Seidenberg (little brother of Carolina's Dennis) as the German was coming through center ice. The call against Weber was five minutes for checking to the head and neck area and a game misconduct. It's the penalty specifically for hitting to the head and neck that I like. In many leagues at every level, and in international play, it is illegal to hit a player in the head. The NHL stubbornly refuses to ban that type of hit, and its disciplinarian routinely defends players who deliver high hits by blaming the victim for "not skating with his head up", or "failing to anticipate the hit". I don't think we'll see any NHL rule changes any time soon with respect to that, but I'll keep bitching about it.

Apparently, Dwayne Roloson fell asleep for a second, and allowed a goal from a center-ice shot. This made things very tense, and it wasn't until midway through the third that the Canadians got the go-ahead goal.

Also, in early games on Saturday, Switzerland beat Latvia 2-1 in group A play. Two other games are in progress. Sweden is playing Italy in group A, and Slovakia is playing Norway in group C.

For all the info you need on the IIHF World Championship tournament, go here.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Team USA off to good start in IIHF World Championship

The IIHF World Championship tournament started on Friday with a round of preliminary games. In Group B play, the USA drubbed Austria 6-2. This means that they will have three standings points in pool play and will be able to control their own destiny with respect to advancing to the elimination round.

Johnny Crackers was in net for the Americans. He stopped 14 of the 16 shots he saw, and picked up the easy win. Erik Cole had a goal and an assist. Andrew "Hot Dog with Cheese" Hutchinson had an assist. Chad "Sharpie" LaRose had nothing. Jack Johnson had nothing.

Also in Group B, the Czech Republic crushed Belarus 8-2.

In Group D, Finland destroyed Ukraine 5-0 and Russia smoked Denmark 9-1.

Pools A and C will kick off tomorrow, with Canada the clear favorite in group C and Sweden the favorite in group A.

On Sunday afternoon, the US will take on Belarus. Then they will finish round robin play against the Czechs on Tuesday.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hossa, Demitra in pairs skating

Assists to AQuietGirl at Hockey Will Tear Us Apart and Jes Golbez at Hockey Rants for this.

All I know about this is that Orange is a mobile phone and internet service provider in the UK, Europe and Africa. It's a subsidiary of France Telecom, and was recently voted as the worst ISP in the United Kingdom.

Anyway, this is in Slovak, so I have no idea what they're saying, but it's funny because it's Maid Marian Hossa and Pavol Demitra.

Imagine Jeremy Roenick and Mike Modano doing this for Verizon Wireless. I don't think so. Actually.... I can see J-Ro doing this kind of thing. Maybe I'm onto something there.

Sabres, Ducks take early lead

On Wednesday night, both the Sabres and the Mighty Ducks crushed their opponent and took 1-0 series leads. Buffalo trounced the Rangers 5-2 while Anaheim whipped the Canucks 5-1. Each team won on their home ice.

The Rangers' game plan was to irritate and frustrate the Sabres and cause them to take penalties. However, it was the Rangers who had discipline issues. They took more penalties than did the Sabres and they failed to convert a full two minutes of five-on-three.

The Blueshirts will have to be more focused if they want to have any chance in this series.

In the second period, the Rangers lost defenseman Michal Rozsival to a leg injury. He didn't return. As is typical in the playoffs, no details about the nature of the injury are available. He's listed as "day-to-day". During the regular season, Rozsival led Rangers defensemen with 40 (10/30) points. He had totaled three (2/1) points in the Rangers four game sweep of the Thrashers and was third in the league with a +/- rating of +5. This will be very bad news for the Rangers if he is unable to return.

In the West, it was just about the same story. The Nucks had discipline issues and couldn't take care of their own scoring chances. Although the Canucks struck first blood, they were unable to do any damage. Andy McDonald netted a hat trick for the Ducks in what turned out to be a very one-sided game. Vancouver is going to have to make some big adjustments. This isn't Dallas anymore, and the high-flying Ducks won't let you beat them with just two goals.

Tonight, the Wings host the Sharks and the Devils host the Sens. I think the Detroit-San Jose series should be very good. The New Jersey-Ottawa series will be extremely physical, but I think it will be all about Marty Brodeur. I don't think the Devils will have much trouble.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Nucks grab last spot

On Monday night, the Vancouver Canucks, wearing their third sweater, finally finished off the Dallas Stars 4-1. There were two empty net goals, so it wasn't the blowout that the score might suggest. Finally, the playoff picture for the second round is complete.

In the first round, I correctly predicted six series winners and missed two. Last year I correctly picked only three in the first round. For comparison, Maggie the Monkey correctly picked four in this season's first round. I'm half again as smart as a monkey!

I hope that I'll take a close look at each series, but for now, I'll just cut to the chase and make my second round predictions.

So without further ado, after re-seeding:

I agonised over the Sabres-Rangers series. For the reason that there are about 7 former WhalerCanes on the Rangers roster, I have to pull for them. As long as Ryan Miller stays healthy and effective, this should be a great series that will go the distance. The only problem with rooting for the Rags, though, is that Jaro Jagr comes with that territory.

Nucks-Ducks and Sabres-Rags will start on Wednesday while Devils-Sens and Wings-Sharks will begin Thursday.

Monday, April 23, 2007

seven teams in, one more spot open

Tonight, the last of the first round takes place in Vancouver. The Canucks will have one more chance to finish off the Stars.

I have correctly predicted five of the first round winners, and Vancouver will make it six when they win 3-1 tonight.

I'm working, but I should be home in time to watch everything after the first intermission.

For a look at the East's most intriguing matchup, stop by BFLOBLOG for the Sabres side of things. Mark is running a "get to know the Rangers players" feature that could be quite interesting.

More peeks at other playoff bloggers will follow. For now, I'm late.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

more teams advance

I haven't been able to keep up with the playoffs as well as I had hoped. Being in a wedding last weekend, then working a lot this week, then opting for the company of a woman over the Pens-Sens game the other night. A lot has happened on and off the ice.

In off-ice matters, former Hurricane Sean Hill has been suspended by the NHL 20 games for substance abuse. The 37 year old defenseman is the first player to be suspended under the League's new substance abuse policy. Although few details are available, the "substance" is alleged to be a performance-enhancing agent. Hill and the Islanders learned of the suspension just hours before game 5 of their series with the Sabres. He did not travel with the team. The suspension will begin next season, assuming Hill is in the NHL next season. He is scheduled to be an UFA in July.
Although we don't know the details, Isles GM Garth Snow was quick to throw Hill under the bus. He spoke to the media for 30 seconds on the matter, and the meat of it was:
''The New York Islanders do not support the use of performance-enhancing agents in any form,''

Funny. Sean Hill gets busted using a yet-to-be-announced "performance enhancing" drug. It could very well turn out to be Propecia. Anyway, he gets busted, the League hits him with a big suspension, and the Isles say, essentially "He got what he deserved" and made no effort to come to the defense of its player. After the Chris Simon incident, the club was quick to say that it supported its player and made a mountain of excuses for his appallingly violent act. I don't understand this.


In on-ice matters, five teams have advanced.

The Rangers made quick work of the Thrashers. I predicted the Rags in 6. They only needed 4.

The Sabres finished off the Hill-less Islanders on Friday night. I predicted the Sabres in 7, but they did it in 5.

On Thursday, the Senators got through by completing their dominance of the Penguins. I picked the Penguins in 7, and was way off the mark. Sens won in 5.

Also on Thursday, the Ducks eliminated the Wild. Again, I was way off the mark with that one. I predicted the Wild in 6. In actuality, it was the Ducks in 5.

On Friday, the Sharks advanced by beating the Preds. I thought it would take 6 games, but it only took 5.

Vancouver could advance with a road win tonight against Dallas.

So far, I am 3-2 in my predictions. Maggie the Monkey is a dreadful 1-4.

Unless the Lightning make a startling comeback in their series with New Jersey, the Sabres will play the Rangers in round two.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Nucks poised to finish off Stars

Tonight in Dallas, the Canucks will have the chance to finish off the Stars and advance to the round of eight. Meanwhile, Ottawa will have that same chance against Pittsburgh.

I can't claim to be an honest-to-goodness Nucks fan. Sure, I bought a hat. Sure, I wear it. Sure, I've been keeping a close eye on them in the playoffs. They're still a distant second to my Canes, though.

Recently, one of my hockey-loving coworkers was baffled by my new lid and didn't think I was for real. He said "okay.. aside from the Sedins, cane you name even two players from the Canucks?" I think he expected me to name one and admit that I'm a fraud. First off, I'll openly admit that I'm a fraud and a charlatan, but I was still able to reel off a few without hesitation "Roberto Luongo, Markus Naslund, Mattias Ohland, Matt Cooke, Trevor Linden, Rory Fitzpatrick, ummmm. ummm..." I'm trying, though. Heck, I don't think I could name that many players on the Capitals, and they're in the freaking Southeast division.

Anyway, the Nucks will look to advance, and I'll be looking to hone my Nuck fan skills.

Take the time to check out The Crazy Canucks, which is a Canucks roundtable. It's run by (among others) JJ Guerrero (Canucks Hockey Blog) and Alanah McGinley (Canucks and Beyond), who are two of my long-time favorite hockey bloggers. As part of this project, they have a podcast which you can listen to and subscribe to from the site. They were featured on TV in Vancouver for their efforts.

These are good peeps, and while I can't physically be there with them to root on the Nucks, I'll be raising a pint for them.

Later, I'll give due props to some of my other favorite playoff hockey bloggers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rags advance to round of eight, Thrash out.

On Wednesday night, the Rangers polished off the Thrashers, defeating them 4-2 and sweeping the series. They are the first team to advance to the Conference Semifinals.

Last season, the Rangers were themselves swept by the Devils in the first round.

Matt Cullen, who won the Cup last year with Carolina scored the game- and series-winning goal at 2:06 of the third. Bitch Jaro Jagr scored an empty netter to seal the coffin.

Now, of course, the second-guessers will come out in full force. I didn't mince words at all on this issue back in February, but the proverbial shit is about to hit the proverbial fan on the Keith Tkachuk issue. Proverbially.

The Thrash gave up a LOT to get the 35-year old left wing:
  • 1st round pick in this year's draft
  • 3rd round pick in this year's draft
  • 2nd round pick in next year's draft
  • Glen Metropolit

Metropolit is a spare part in this trade, but that's a lot of draft picks. As I said in February, this would have been worth it if the Thrash had gone on to win the Cup, but now they're playing golf with the Canes. Instead of trading away their future for a championship, they have simply traded away their future. Additionally, the trade just got worse. Suddenly the "not so bad" trade of a potentially low first round pick has become a "pretty bad" trade of a middle round first round pick.

Tkachuk is at the end of a contract which paid him $3.8M this season. Everyone understood this to be a "rental", and I just don't think that Atlanta could pay him even if they wanted to keep him.

The Thrash will have a very busy summer ahead of them. 12 players will be UFA and two more will be RFA. They pressed hard up against the cap this season, and it will be difficult to keep this core group and remain under cap. Both goaltenders, and all of the star players are under contract, but they will have to downgrade in some areas, and they won't have the benefit of a first round draft pick.

Look for them to visit the bargain basement and to sign some undrafted players.

Look for the natives to get restless with Don Waddell.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

not about hockey

Sometimes, I have to remind myself that the sport we all love is "just a game". Even in the playoffs, hockey is still "just a game". In the wake of the horrific events that unfolded in Blacksburg, Virginia yesterday, this is one of those times.

I did not go to Virginia Polytechnic Institute. I have never even been to Blacksburg. I don't have any friends presently there. I have some friends who went there in the '90s, and some second-degree friends who presently go there. They're all fine. As a human being, though, this is a very dark day. I watched a bit of the convocation ceremony on television this afternoon, and the looks on the faces of those kids was unbearable.

We, here at RBH wish to express our condolences to the family and friends of the victims, and to anyone close to the matter. Today, we're all Hokies.

Side note #1. It's really unfortunate that this son of a bitch turned the gun on himself. After killing 32 people execution-style, self-inflicted death is not enough of a punishment.

Side note #2. One of the victims was a holocaust survivor.

While it is true that hockey is "just a game", one of the reasons we care about hockey, or sports in general is that it gives is an escape from the real world. Though are hearts may be heavy, we can still enjoy the game. We may even forget, for a second, why our hearts are heavy.

Tonight, there's a full slate of games.

The Rangers will try to go up 3-0 on the Thrashers with the first of two games in MSG. We think they will take that 3-0 lead

Pittsburgh will try to level the series score at 2 with a home game against the Senators. They will.

Dallas will try to level the series score at 2 with a home game against Vancouver. They won't.

The Wild will try to stave off elimination with a home game against the Ducks. They will.

Finally, the Flames will try to get their act together with a home game against the Red Wings, against whom they are down 2-0. They will.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"The Wizard" to stay in Raleigh

On Friday afternoon, the Hurricanes checked off the most important item on the "summer to-do list". Ray Whitney was re-signed to a three year deal which will pay him $3.55M per season. This past season, Whitney posted a career high 83 points (32/51). He earned a bargain basement $1.5M paycheck from the Hurricanes and also received $1.2M from the Red Wings as part of their 2005 contract buy-out.

I was away all weekend (in a wedding, and piss-babbling drunk the whole time), unable to get hockey news (other than scores), so I have a lot of catching up to do. This was a very good thing to come home to.

Although both sides were clear about wanting to keep Whitney in Raleigh, there was still some anxiety among the natives. Whitney was slated to become an UFA on July 1, and would have been one of the hottest commodities. There was some speculation that he would get offers in the $4M + range, but neither side wanted to waste time getting re-signed.

The Caniac Nation is breathing a collective sigh of relief as the fan favorite is locked in at what is still a very good price.

Next, the Canes need to focus on getting Scott "Remo" Walker re-signed. He earned $1.52M last season after being acquired from Nashville, and he tallied 51 points (21/30). The 33-year old, who quickly became another fan favorite here, can expect to make about $2M next season.

Josef Vasicek and Anson Carter are also on the "to do" list, but with them, it's not nearly as pressing. Anson Carter wouldn't be missed. "Big Joe" would be missed, but only for sentimental reasons. Both players are replaceable.

Glen Wesley will most likely retire (although I said that last summer, too) and Bret Hedican will most likely not exercise his player option. His back/knees/ "lower body" can't take it anymore.

Carolina will have to get some defense and a third line center out of free agency. They will need to get defensemen and goalies in the draft. The cupboard is exceptionally bare in our minor league system.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

holy overtime! playoffs get off to great start

After one day in which two of the four playoff games one went to overtime, all I can say is "Wow!"

Of course I watched the Nucks-Stars game. However, to answer what has been a very popular question today, no. No, I didn't stay up for the entire game. I actually wussed out during the first overtime, but it turned out to be a good call since the game didn't conclude for another couple of hours. By the time Henrik Sedin scored at 18:06 of the fourth overtime, it was 3:30am here. Of course this brings into question the strength of my loyalty to my "second team". I don't have an answer for that.

There is no doubt that both the Nucks and the Stars came ready to play in that one, and is should be a ton of fun to watch this series pan out. It's also clear that they're going to be calling these games tight. Tight, but balanced.

I didn't catch any of the Pens-Sens, but from what I've been told (by a hardcore Pens fan) the Pens are not ready. At least they weren't last night. Will they be able to respond in game two? Are they physically unprepared? Game three should be the real telling game in that series.

Ugh. Preds-Sharks. There were some ugly moments in that game. Chief among them was the kneeing incident involving Scott Hartnell of the Preds and Jonathan Cheechoo of the Sharks. Hartnell was given a game misconduct, but Barry Trotz disagreed with the call. Cheechoo will undergo an MRI (presumably today). He also lost a tooth and bashed up his face in the collision. There's no word just yet on whether there will be additional disciplinary action against Hartnell. According to NHL rules, what happened in the regular season is wiped clean, and your rap sheet starts over with each round.
That game also went to overtime, and the guy who could have been the goat for San Jose ended up being the hero. Patrick Rissmiller, whose turnover late in regulation allowed Nashville to force overtime ended up getting the game winner eight minutes into the second overtime.
If Cheechoo has to miss more than one game, this series will be over very quickly. They played the majority of the game without him last night, but they won't be able to do it for a whole series.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

playoffs start today. RBH picks the winners

The 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs are starting tonight, and I can't analyze each series in detail, so I'll just make a pick for each.

For comparison's sake, Maggie the Monkey picked
Detriot, Minnesota, Vancouver, Nashville, Buffalo, New Jersey, Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Ed Belfour is a toolbag (v 6.11)

As if we needed anything else as evidence of Ed Belfour's character, the Miami Herald has reported that Belfour has been arrested again. Essentially, he refused to leave a nightclub after he had been cut off and kicked out. When police arrived, he still refused to leave. When he was placed under arrest, he resisted.

It sounds stunningly like the incident in Dallas in 1999. There is no word on how much money Belfour offered the Miami police, but he reportedly offered officers in Dallas "One billion dollars" not to arrest him.

This time, Belfour had to be subdued with a taser after he approached officers "in a fighting stance" and refused orders to place his hands behind his back.

The full police report is viewable here

Sunday, April 08, 2007

season ends with a bang

Although Carolina and Florida both had absolutely nothing to play for, the final game of the season played out as if it was a playoff game. Carolina came out flat in the first period on Saturday night, and didn't look much better in the second, but in the end, they really turned it on.
I hate to feel the love between us die
But it's over

After a first period in which both teams could only muster seven shots on net, Florida had a 2-0 lead on goals by Ville Peltonen and Olli "guarantee" Jokinen. I sent a text message to a friend, who stayed home, saying "If you stayed home, you made the right call. We're playing with so much apathy." His response was "Last night was just as bad", referring to the 4-1 loss to the Thrashers in which they just went through the motions.

At 5:46 of the second, David Tanabe made a steal and wrist shot to cut the lead in half and bring the crowd to life. However, it didn't last long.

Moments later, Jay Bouwmeester gave the Cats their two goal cushion again with an assist from Jokinen.

Still a few minutes later, all the air went out of the building when the former Cane Martin Gelinas tapped one in for a 4-1 lead at 12:14 of the second. That's how it stood after 40. Our season was down to 20 minutes, and most of us just wanted the misery to end.
Did you say "This can't happen to me!"
Did you rush to the phone to call?

David Tanabe got another goal at 5:31 of the third. Suddenly, there was some hope. At least there was hope that for the second straight year, and the third out of four, we would have a hat trick on Free Hat Night. Last season, Eric Staal recorded a hat trick on Hat Night. In 2003-04, the Canes were beaten by the Red Wings 4-1 on hat night. In 2002-03, Jan Hlavac scored a hat trick against the Red Wings on hat night.

For the rest of the game, fans sarcastically screamed "shoot it!" whenever Tanabe was in posession of the puck.

Erik Cole finished a tic-tac-toe play with Andrew Ladd and Eric Staal to make the score 4-3 at 12:13. Although the season was over, this game wasn't.

The oldest Staal brother got his 30th marker of the season at 15:37, and the place went nuts. The game was tied. Meanwhile, Jordan Staal did not score for Pittsburgh, so he finished with 29 goals.

Nothing happened for the rest of regulation, but Carolina got off 20 shots in the third frame. They played like the 02-03 Canes for a week, for a month, for a season. Then when it doesn't matter, they play like the 05-06 Canes.

It's over. It's over

As is par for the course with the Panthers, the game went to overtime. And also par for the course was that a Panther committed a penalty early on.
  • On December 23 in Florida, Jay Bouwmeester was guilty of tripping at 0:30 of OT, and Erik Cole won it at 1:59.
  • On January 16 in Florida, Mike Van Ryn was guilty of holding at 1:30 of the OT , and Viva won it at 1:47.
  • On April 1 in Florida, Bryan Allen was called for hooking and Ed Belfour for unsportsmanlike conduct giving the Canes a five-on-three at 1:06 of OT. Ray Whitney won it at 1:30.
  • On April 7 in Raleigh, Bryan Allen was called for kneeing at 0:27 of OT. The Canes didn't win on the power play. Allen had a chance to redeem himself with a penalty shot, but failed.

Allen committed a turnover in neutral ice, giving Rod Brind'Amour a breakaway. It wasn't pretty, but he finished it, and for the fourth time this season, the Canes beat the Cats in overtime.

After Brind'Amour's goal, the hats came cascading down. Of course it wasn't a hat trick, and nobody thought it was, but it was a neat way to finish the season. A shower of hats.

After the game came the traditional "Sweater off my back" promo. Every year, the Canes have a promotion where the players give their sweater to a fan. The fans are chosen at random during the game, and in a short ceremony, the players literally take the sweaters off their backs and present them to the fans. I've never been lucky enough.

For a while now, I've been considering my options for next season. From a financial standpoint, I might have to scale back to a 10-game plan. Unfortunately, they don't let you select your exact seat for that package. Therefore, I had to say my last goodbye to that third-row seat. I should still be able to get a decent seat in the lower bowl, but nothing that good. I still have a few months to make the commitment, so I might still make the 24 thing happen, but I have to assume that I won't be sitting there anymore. I won't give up season tickets entirely, and after spending four seasons downstairs, I don't want to go back upstairs.

No matter what, I won't be going back to the RBC Center until October. Now I'm sad.

Buffalo wins President's Trophy, date with Islanders

Despite being beaten by the Flyers on the season's last day, the Buffalo Sabres have won the 2006-07 President's Trophy for having the best record in the NHL. Congratulations to them for being a dominant team during the regular season.This is the 21st time the President's Trophy has been awarded and the first time Buffalo has been the recipient.

However, they shouldn't make plans to serve Beef on Weck out of the Stanley Cup just yet. They may have won 53 games in the regular season, but they still need to win 16 more. Last season, I urged Detroit fans not plan a parade route just yet after they won the President's Trophy. They lost in the first round to the eighth seed Edmonton Oilers.

Out of the 20 previous winners of the President's Trophy, six have gone on to win the Stanley Cup:
  • 1987 Edmonton Oilers
  • 1989 Calgary Flames
  • 1994 New York Rangers
  • 1999 Dallas Stars
  • 2001 Colorado Avalanche
  • 2002 Detroit Red Wings

The playoffs are a completely different animal from the regular season. There could be some surprises in store. However, Buffalo clearly is the team to beat. In the East anyway.

In a related story, the Islanders won in a shootout over the Devils. This catapulted them over the Leafs and into the eighth spot in the East.

At some point, I'll have a playoff "bracket" and my first round picks.

Carolina wins meaningless game, Olli Jokinen writes a check his ass can't cash

Last Sunday, after Carolina snatched victory from the Panthers, many of the players angrily accused Carolina of being divers. It was the second time in a row that Carolina won a game against Florida on a power play goal in overtime.

Among other things, Jokinen told the Miami Herald that in order for the Panthers to beat Carolina they would
``have to play within the rules, and sign five or six guys who can dive every time you touch them.''

Then he went on to say that they wouldn't let it happen again. At the time, Carolina still had a chance to make the playoffs. The Panthers were ruled out and he at least wanted to spoil Carolina. He stopped short of using the words "Guarantee" and "Win", but that's pretty much what he was doing when he said:
'We have to make sure . . . they don't make the playoffs,'' Jokinen said. ``We have to get two points out of there.

``This team has stolen so many points from us, we have to win that last game and make sure they don't go anywhere. I'd rather see Tampa and Atlanta make it than this team.''

So anyway, among the silver linings that can be found in missing the playoffs, there's this:

Carolina overcame a 4-1 third period defecit to force overtime against the Cats. Carolina got regulation goals from Eric Staal, Erik Cole and two from David Tanabe. Florida got their goals from Ville Peltonen, Olli Jokinen, Jay Bouwmeester and Marty Gelinas.

Early in the overtime period, Bryan Allen was called for kneeing, which gave the Canes a man advantage. It was Allen's hook on Sunday that made Belfour lose his composure, which gave the Canes the two man advantage. I don't know about the kneeing call, but Carolina couldn't convert. In fact, Allen had a chance to wipe it all away when he was awarded a penalty shot just after coming out of the box. He missed his chance, though. As time wound down in regulation, Allen found a way to be the goat anyway. He turned the puck over to Rod Brind'Amour in neutral ice, and the Captain cashed in on the breakaway gift.

Unfortunately, Ed Belfour wasn't in nets for the Panthers.

More stuff about the game, including pictures later.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Staal battle coming down to the wire

Much has been made of the emergence of the Staal family as a dominant clan in the NHL. Many people are saying that the four Staal brothers are this generation's version of the Sutter brothers. Many more are saying that they will be better than the famed set of six Sutters.

Presently, there are two Staal brothers in the NHL, and another "in the system". Of course you know that Eric is with the Hurricanes and that Jordan is with the Penguins. Marc Staal, the second oldest of the pack, is a defenseman in the system with the Rangers after being selected with the 12th overall pick in the 2005 NHL entry draft. He's presently with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL. Also on the Sudbury Wolves is the youngest of the four, right wing Jared Staal. Jared is only 16, and won't be eligible for the NHL draft until next summer.

The Staals are not related to Kim Staal, a Danish player who is in the Predators organization.

Jordan is off to a much quicker start than his that of his older brother. Eric scored 11 goals and had 20 assists in his rookie season. Jordan has 29 goals and 13 assists in his own rookie campaign.

After scoring 45 goals and 55 assists last season and setting the playoffs on fire with 9 goals and 19 assists, Eric has cooled down this season. Although 29 goals and 39 assists is nothing to sneeze at, it's a significant drop.

So both brothers, who are extremely competitive with one another, have 29 goals. Both have one game remaining.

Tonight, Eric and the Hurricanes will take on the Panthers while Jordan and the Penguins will take on the Rangers.

Eric won't play again until October, but Jordan will have at least four games in the "second season".

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

(I know) It's over

... I can feel the soil falling over my head
And as I climb into an empty bed, oh well...

Carolina had a very steep uphill climb starting with a Tuesday night game in Tampa. They knew that they would have to win the remainder of their games and get a bit of help from the likes of Montréal, Toronto, and even Tampa if they wanted to sneak their way into the playoffs.
For about 28 minutes, it looked like they were on their way to helping themselves.
... I know it's over, still I cling.
I don't know where else I can go...

The Canes got a first period marker from Ray Whitney and an early second period goal from Rod Brind'Amour to build a 2-0 lead. Things were looking up for the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

Eric Perrin gave the '04 Champs life at 8:33 of the second, but after 40 minutes, Carolina still led 2-1. Things were still looking good.

Vinny LaCavalier tied the score at 1:20 of the third, and suddenly things were not okay. This was one of those "backbreaking" goals. Less than two minutes later, things went from grey to black. Danny Boyle scored what would prove to be the game winner at 3:13 of the third.

I know it's over
And it never really began
But in my heart it was so real

Carolina had a couple of quality chances very late in the game, but it was already a foregone conclusion at that point. The tiny consolation is that Carolina was not getting the help they needed anyway. Montréal defeated Boston 2-0. Either outcome made the other moot in terms of Carolina's wafer thin playoff hopes.

When the final horn sounded, it became official. Carolina will not make the playoffs. They'll be on Pinehurst #2 while 16 teams fight for the holiest of all grails.

Love is natural and real
But not for you my love.
Not tonight my love

This is the first time in the history of the NHL that both Stanley Cup finalists from the previous season fail to qualify for the playoffs. This, of course, will be cannon fodder for some fans who think Carolina was gifted the Cup last summer.

Still, though, there is nary a Maple Leaf who was even alive the last time Toronto won the Cup. And there are fourteen active franchises who have never won it.

This summer, I'm hoping that Vancouver can be crossed of that list.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Kooking with Kaberle (v 2.0)

It is a well known fact that Frantisek Kaberle, defenseman for the Carolina Hurricanes, scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Canes last June. He's widely
respected as a well above average defenseman (although not as dominant as his brother) and is a fan favorite wherever he goes.

The reason is pretty plain. Frantisek Kaberle is much more than a hockey player. He's a freakin genius at everything he does.

As Greg from Post-Pessimist Association rightly points out, he is the author of several incredible novels including Underworld, White Noise, and Libra. He also wrote (but refuses to admit) a rare and out-of-print mock-memoirs entitled Amazons: An Intimate Memoir By the First Woman to Play in the National Hockey League. It's a memoir written from the perspective of a fictional woman named Cleo Birdwell, who broke the gender barrier in the NHL before Manon Rheaume. Anyway, Kaberle skirts the issue when anyone talks about this book and he refuses to autograph it, claiming "I didn't write that book. Cleo Birdwell did". Whatever.

F. Kaberle is also widely believed to be the original author of the joke around which the documentary film "The Aristocrats" is based. At a season ticket holder's event, I heard Frantisek riff on the joke for about 25 solid minutes. It was incredible. Even in his broken English, that was hands down the funniest thing I have ever heard.

Kaberle is also an accomplished violinist, is fluent in 9 languages, and can hold his own in just about any professional sport. He has three times defeated American tennis Superstar Andy Roddick in straight sets, most recently this past September at Roddick's home. Former Formula 1 champion Mika Hakkinen has never defeated Kaberle in their semi-annual road race, which will have its 9th renewal this August. The list goes on and on...

To the point here. Frantisek Kaberle is also an award winning chef. He has appeared on "Iron Chef" three times. He defeated Iron Chef Chinese Chen Kenichi in a lobster challenge, lost to Iron Chef Japanese Masaharu Morimoto in an eel challenge, and he defeated Iron Chef Italian Masahiko Kobe in a lamb challenge.

Thanks to a post at Post-Pessimist, I got my hands on one of his recipes.

Here's what it calls for:
1 chicken breast fillet, boneless and skinless.
1 medium onion, chopped (I omitted this)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon paprika
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups water (I substituted one bottle of Pilsner Urquell)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp flour

Of course, I modified the recipe to suit my own taste. I figure if it's good enough for Frantisek Kaberle, inventor of Velcro™ brand hook and loop fastener, then there has to be a way for me (a hopeless loser) to improve upon it.

Greg recommends placing a photo or reasonable facsimile of Frantisek Kaberle somewhere in the kitchen whilst preparing the meal. I used a signed puck, and that worked out just fine.

I used a Harris Teeter brand chicken breast, roughly eight ounces. The original recipe called for Butterball brand chicken, but we ain't exactly talking about high end electronics, are we?

The recipe says to brown the onion in the butter, but I hate onions, so I skipped that bit, and just started with a pan and melted butter. I diced the chicken into 1/4 inch cubes, added to the pan with salt and paprika, and browned it. This only takes a few minutes at medium heat. The recipe calls for this to be covered with a cup and a half of water and simmered for about 40 minutes. For the preparation of this meal, I thought it would be appropriate and more Czech to have some Pilsner Urquell on hand. After one sip, I quickly remembered how much I dislike that beer, and in an effort to get rid of it quickly, I decided to substitute it for "water" in the recipe. I mean, it practically begs for the use of beer. 12 ounces? C'mon! Anyway, I dumped the entire contents of one bottle of Pilsner Urquell into the pan, turned the heat down, covered and went back to the game.

Here again, PPA recommends the consumption of vodka limeade during the 40 minutes of simmering. I drank the Pilsner Urquell instead. I don't think actual Czech people drink Pilsner Urquell, but I didn't have time to go to the fancy beer store.

The recipe calls for this dish to be served over pasta, but I substituted risotto instead. I was quite pleased with the results on that front.

I also decided to include bacon. I dare you to name one thing that cannot be improved by adding bacon. While the chicken was simmering and the risotto was cooking, I quickly fried some bacon, cut it into bits and added to the chicken.

After about 40 minutes, roughly half of the liquid had cooked out of the chicken pan. In a separate dish, I mixed the sour cream and flour into a paste, and I diverged from the recipe a bit. It calls for the chicken to be removed from the pan, then the paste to be added to the pan, then the "gravy" simmered for a few minutes, then everything piled on top of pasta. That sounded silly to me. I mean, this is pretty much a variation on beef stroganoff, and I always cook it all in the same pan when I do that. Accordingly, I did all of this in the pan without removing the chicken. It worked just fine.

After a few more minutes of cooking it all together, I poured the whole thing over a plate of risotto and enjoyed the exciting conclusion of the Canes-Cats game.

Huzzah to Frantisek Kaberle for assisting on the game-tying goal and for finishing with a +2.

If I do this again, I might not use Urquell where it says "water" I was quite pleased, though, with my decision to use risotto.

Please note that some of the things I have said about Frantisek Kaberle aren't entirely true.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Canes back from the dead, Belfour is a retard

On Sunday afternoon, the Hurricanes battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the third to send it to overtime. Early in the fourth frame, Bryan Allen took a hooking penalty, then Eddie "I'll give you a billion dollars" Belfour lost his mind. He skated way out of his crease and in front of the referee out by the half wall. He made a bunch of diving gestures and was given an additional unsportsmanlike. This afforded the Canes a rare overtime five-on-three. I've never seen it before, but the rule in overtime is that instead of going four-on-two, the non-offending team gets to put an extra skater out there. Just 23 seconds into the oddball power play, Ray Whitney banged in a rebound to give the Canes the win.

here is the official scoresheet. I'll fill in the details later.

Here's a really cruddy view of Belfour's theatrics. I wanted to get something posted, and the only way I knew how was to use really inferior techniques and sub-par equipment. I apologise for the extremely low quality, but here it is.

I imagine he'll also draw a fine from the League because he continued to berate the official as the penalties were being sorted out. He's a good goalie, but that was just sheer stupidity. You simply can't show up the referee, especially in overtime.

That cost the Panthers the game, and their very slim playoff hopes are washed away.

The win buoys Carolina's hopes, but they are still very much against the wall.

Also of note in this game is that Rod Brind'Amour scored a shorhanded goal and that Chad "Sharpie" LaRose scored his sixth goal of the season to tie it up.

Also, I prepared and ate Frank Kaberle's Chicken Paprika while watching the game. Assist goes to the Post-Pessimist Association for that. A full write-up on that culinary experience later.

Josef Stumpel scored two goals for the Cats in the first period.

The RBH three stars:

THIRD STAR: Chad LaRose, CAR -- goal
SECOND STAR: Josef Stumpel, FLA -- 2 goals
FIRST STAR: Ed Belfour, FLA -- unsportsmanlike penalty in overtime

Seriously, though ...

FIRST STAR: Ray Whitney, CAR -- game winning goal


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