Tuesday, February 26, 2008


(Please bear with me: I've got a lot of hockey stuff on my mind.)


If you're a hockey blog fan, you've probably seen this picture already. No, it has nothing to do with Zednik's neck, and unfortunately Gary Bettman wasn't run down at center ice and dragged to his death right after exclaming "You are the best fans in the world!" (although it would have been the first time his presence elicited cheering). This is a dying Zamboni spilling transmission fluid onto the ice in Pittsburgh. Luckily, it gave the concession stands an additional 30 minutes to sell Iron City beer. Yecch.

With an OT win on Sunday afternoon, the Devils are in first place in the Wales Conference all by their lonesome for the first time since 2001 (unless you count the final day of the season in 2006, when they hilariously passed the Rangers). Some "experts" even predicted this team would miss the playoffs (like Don LaGreca, who has the weakest show on XM Home Ice next to Bettman's, and also serves as Michael Kay's whipping boy on ESPN Radio). But here they are, and they're not going anywhere just yet. Somewhat ironically as far as this blog is concerned, the Devils would play the Sabres in the first round, if the season ended today. In fact, why doesn't it end today? I think 60 games are more than enough to determine who's the best in each conference. So how about we wrap this thing up before baseball season and the Masters starts?

Once again, I guess I can no longer question Lou Lamoriello's shrewd decision making. He's somehow managed to make TWO (2) teams better this season: the Devils have responded to Coach Brent Sutter's new forechecking scheme, and the Bruins are playoff bound under ex-coach Claude Julien. It's trading deadline day, so will he trade for a center or defenceman before the deadline? Maybe get Brian Campbell from Buffalo? Lou certainly never does what you expect him to do. But all I can say is whatever he does (or doesn't do) is fine with me.

Since Rob no longer does his illustrious Rangers in the Night column, let me just say that this is the most ponderous and enigmatic incarnation of this team that I've ever seen. They shit the bed vs. the Montreal Canadiens by allowing an historic comeback where they rallyed from 5-0 down to a 6-5 shootout win (yet they still somehow earned a point), and then turn around and wax the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers. I'd say "you don't know which team is going to show up", but that's not a battered enough cliché. Let's just say this IS the team that's going to show up every night: a wildly inconsistent and frustrating one. That Montreal game is a microcosm of their season: from champs to chumps in the blink of an eye.

In other news, Teemu Selanne was named Player of the Week. The guy decides to take 5 months off, possibly playing pinochle with Niedermeyer, and suddenly unretires and he's fresh as a daisy--how does he do it?!? This week, Peter Forsberg has to come back from his sunless stay in Purgatory (Sweden) and play for the Avalanche. I even heard Susyn Waldman shriek, "Goodness gracious! Fawsberg is in the ownah's bawks!" So who's the next "hired slapshot" going to be? Can the Devils talk Scott Stevens into lacing up the skates again for a playoff run? These unretirement parties have got to stop. It's borderline bullshit, if you ask me.

Strange things are afoot in the Campbell Conference. Mirroring Ottawa's fall from the top of the charts, Detroit's once insurmountable lead has been cut to a mere 6 points, and now they are looking over their shoulder pads at the Dallas Stars. At least they can't be accused of crapping out in the playoffs, since they got an early start this season.

I've gone back and forth with the latest NHL points system, where no team is truly out of the race and you can still collect points even if you lose 20 straight OT/SO games. How about we ditch the points system altogether and go to straight wins/losses? Who cares how many points a team gets any more? The NHL has rendered it utterly meaningless.

I agree with Mick Kern from XM: don't put ads on the jerseys. It's cheesy, and Bettman has raped NHL tradition enough already.

Flyers fans weren't booing, they were saying "Booo-iere!" Seriously, did I mention this team can't lose enough for me?

Nike is pulling out of the hockey business. Back in 1994 they bought Bauer, and targeted their products towards the high-end market, even having their marketing department sign Sergei Federov to cram $400 skates down the hockey world's throat. Now that they've effectively increased the price of ALL HOCKEY EQUIPMENT (and recently released skate retailing for a ridiculous $899), Nike has decided that their work is done. Seriously, go fuck yourself, Nike: just do it.

Ending on a positive note: nice move by the Prudential Center to showcase pee-wee hockey jerseys, along side the high school jerseys already hanging from the rafters in the prominade. It's a nice touch, and hopefully inspires more young fans to pick up the sport. The Rock is also be the home of the NJ high school state championship, which might be fun to attend.

(In other hockey news, the previously undefeated Suffern Mounties sadly and shockingly lost their first game in the playoffs to Mamaroneck on a goal in the final 15 seconds, ending their hopes for NY state championship run. This loss was positively Patriots-esque. I feel really bad for the kids, because they only get a chance to do something like this once in their lives, unlike pro athletes.)

UPDATE (1:30 PM): The Sabres traded Campbell to the Sharks for Bernier and a 1st round 2008 draft pick. Hopefully, the draft pick doesn't turn out to be a daft prick. Thanks, I just wrote that.

Also: Devils get defenceman Bryce Salvador from the Blues for goon Cam Janssen, and the Capitals get a real goalie in Huet.


UPDATE (3:15 PM): It looks like the Pens won the Maryanne Hossa sweepstakes. Dammit, they are going to be even tougher down the stretch, esp. with Crosby coming back TO SAVE HOCKEY.

UPDATE (4:00 PM): Sergei Federov was traded to the Capitals. It would be interesting if he anchors an all-Russian line of Federov, Ovechkin, and Kozlov: the FOK line!

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