Wednesday, March 12, 2008

WRIST SHOTS: HOW MANY TIMES MUST CROSBY SAVE HOCKEY?

Sidney "Sid The Kid" "Bing" Crosby saved hockey once again by singlehandedly beating the Evil Russian Kapitals on national TV on Sunday afternoon. He scored a goal, and using his mind bullets, he even forced Li'l Nikki Backstrom to score one FOR him: the game winner into his own net. This faux pas reminded me of Edmonton's Steve Smith banking one into his own goal off of goalie Grant Fuhr in Game 7 of the 1986 Smythe Division finals vs. the Calgary Flames. Luckily, YouTube has a (predictably shitty quality) clip of it.



What a shitty way to end a playoff series, and the season.

The later game on Sunday, Boston vs. Rangers, was the case against anyone saying a game has to be high scoring to be exciting (like Bettman, who is trying everything in the world to increase scoring and who, consequently, sucks): a 0-0 tie in regulation eventually won by the Rangers in a shootout. The 3rd period was crazily entertaining, and while Auld was solid Henrik was out of his head. Now the Rangers are on fire, winning 10 of their last 13 games. I'm saying this hoping to jinx them going into their game at THE ROCK vs. the Devils next week, who are currently winless on the season against them.

This blog asserts that "New York is a hockey town at last" after good ratings for the Sabres/Rangers game on Monday night. Yes, overall ratings are up 100% in the New York area, but what else was there to watch on a Monday night in early March? Please, once baseball is back or the Rangers go on a mini-slump, the viewership will start to erode. But at least it's a good sign for Versus, even though their broadcasts are still sub-par and the channel doesn't devote a single second to hockey during the regular season, outside of the Monday and Tuesday games.

However, the VS broadcasts look like Spielberg productions when compared to those of NBC Sports. It's one thing to promote the games bright new stars like Crosby and Ovechkin, it's another thing entirely to slobber sycophantically all over them. NBC: you need to get out of sports all together, because you suck at everything. You can keep the Olympics, because I don't give a crap about them unless (it's the winter).

Okay, I'm going to come right out and say it: the Devils are a strong team, as long as Marty has a good night. I know, this is like saying "human beings need oxygen to live". But I really worry about this team, as I don't see them winning the Cup as it stands now. Their power play is just too anemic, and they seem to play down to their competition more than any other team. The Toronto and Tampa Bay wins that they manufactured this past weekend are a microcosm of this season, and how they lack that killer instinct. Yes, I know they've been in first place in the Wales, or right around it, for the past month but I don't know how deep this team can go. After a lackluster effort up in Montreal, this mini-roadtrip at MIN and COL will be telling.

Despite Kris' insistence that the Sabres will make it to the playoffs (and lose in the 1st round), I don't see it. This week is a tough one with 4 games on the docket: they got 1 point vs. NYR, and now have @PIT, CAR, @TOR. By Sunday morning I think we'll know where they stand. As long as they don't go on another 10 game "winless" streak they have a chance.

Meanwhile, out West the Sharks are tearing everyone a new five-hole, recording 10 consecutive victories (2 in a SO). I pick this team to make a run in the playoffs every year, but it never materializes. Until they win the Cup, I don't know the way to San Jose and I don't care. The Ducks, after a rough Niedermeyerfree and Selanneless start, are still the team to beat in my eyes.

In closing, here are some highlights from NHL 94, one of the greatest videogames ever. EVER. (NHLPA 93 might be better, since if you check a guy just right, there will be blood. But there are no one-timers.)



There were so many quirky glitches, and the goalie AI was so stupid (see 1:05 and 1:28), but it just added to its charm. EA has never made hockey as fun as they did with these Sega Genesis era games. I especially love the guy getting beaned by an errant puck after the whistle at 3:14, the 3-car pileup at around 3:20, Pavel Bure being thrown across the ice at 4:08, and the Gretzky breakaway (penalty shot?) at 5:42. (I also enjoyed the video namedropping of former Devil #25 Valeri Zelepukin.)