Friday, March 9, 2007


QUICK NOTES about the NHL . . .

The Rangers/Islanders home-and-home this week was pretty enteraining. Monday's contest was a barnburner, with a total of 87 shots on goal between the two teams, including Rick DiPietro making an Islanders record 56 saves in the Rangers 2-1 shootout win. There was one sequence with about 14 minutes left in the 3rd where the Rangers were peppering DiPi with shot after shot after shot, and the Isles looked like the Barr Flys desperately trying to clear the puck, and failing--it was phenomenal hockey. (Of course, it was broadcast on the crappy-looking non-HD Versus, although we got Doc Emrick calling it as a bonus.)

However, last night's game on the Island ended ugly. It's not going to be in the "highlight machine" (sorry Kris 'The Biggest Sabres Fan In France' Salo) but that Chris Simon hit on Hollweg last night was disgusting: he basically crosschecked him across the chin with his stick. I'm surprised, because he's a tough player but not a dirty one (same could have been said for Bertuzzi). I'm actually glad the Rangers responded by scoring the winning goal on the ensuing power play, but that penalty was just plain stupid. Along with the Devils' Cam Janssen "finishing his check" against Kaberle, this crap has to stop. It's not hockey, it's garbage. (BTW, the 8th place Rangers can thank me for saying they were DONE back on 2/21.)

As for players NOT USING THE STICK AS A WEAPON, Henrik saved the day for the Rangers by swatting away an Isles shot in the final minute. To me, the puck looked like it was across the line, but of course, the officials don't get to see it blown up and in high definition like the home viewers (why, I'll never know). Not only that, but the officials (along with the "home office" in Toronto) spent about 20 minutes reviewing this, and in the one camera angle that could help, the one from above the goal, there was a WATER BOTTLE IN THE WAY. Are you kidding? I think it's time the NHL went to the Food Network (check out this hilarious Onion article), even the Iron Chef has a better replay system. "Ladies and gentlemen, you're looking live at a sold out Kitchen Stadium for the game featuring the Detroit Frank's RedHot Wings and the New Jersey Devil Dogs . . . "

Speaking of the Devils, they're in the #2 spot in the East, only 3 points behind the Rochester Americans--uhm Buffalo Sabres, whom they play tomorrow night. They've looked a bit shaky lately (giving up 5 goals to Philly, losing to Toronto, "winning" in a shootout last night @ PIT despite a game-tying giveaway with 3 minutes left), and I think this is a game where they get ambushed. For some reason I'm seeing a 5-1 Sabres win at the Crossroads Aud Marine Midland HSBC Arena.

This one came out of nowhere: the Pittsburgh Penguins are actually considering going to Las Vegas? This may just be a negotiation tactic, but if they actually relocated there it would be a complete joke. Of course, I can easily see it happening because this follows the old Bettman logic: don't bother putting a team where there are hockey fans, put it where the money is. Short term it will be an interesting novelty, but in the long term it will be a disaster. The perfect sport to move there would be the NBA, because just like Vegas it's flashy, loud, and has no substance.

With the playoff races heating up, I realize that without ESPN carrying the NHL that I barely get to see any of these Western Conference teams play. Back in the day I would tune into the odd midweek or Sunday night game featuring San Jose, Colorado, Vancouver, or Calgary, and now I realize that I haven't seen these teams play ONE GAME all season. Despite the fact that the NHL is dying for viewers, they continue to make the NHL Center Ice package is a huge ripoff. It's currently $119, which is not much of a bargain, considering 80% of the season is over and the full season price is $169. There's also no way to find out how many of these games will be in HD, and cable subscribers don't get HD games AT ALL. And what happened with NBC showing games on the weekend? So far, I've seen maybe 3, and last week's was in SD. Ugh.

One last note: everyone please stop saying "Luongo gets team record 39th win" and "Marty with another 40 win season". Because there are no ties in the NHL anymore, THESE MILESTONES ARE NOW MEANINGLESS! They give out a win for every game, so these records are not important, and neither are team point totals. Thanks.

In closing, in Bettman's NHL it's all about MARKETING, and this may be the best NHL related product I've come across lately. I don't think I can get it shipped to me in time for St. Patrick's Day, though. the NHL SHAMROCK FLASK!

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