Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Penguins

Goonbye!

Goons are quickly becoming extinct in the NHL. After years of reports on head injuries, concussions, and depression, the pestilence players have been demoted for their own safety. Bummed but not bruised.

The announcement glares from the hockey headlines that the Fourth Line needs skill, not sucker punches.

When a head coach puts a goon out on the top line to take a face-off, it can only mean one thing: an all out brawl. Goons know that is their workload. Goons starting the game sends a clear message to the opponent. However, it’s not a sportsmanlike message but a dirty one.

Goons are not to be confused with the Agitator or the Enforcer. Agitators skillfully stir up trouble, Enforcers fight when it’s a necessity. Both have a skill beyond the fighting. Goons were the guys who could typically skate and play, but the skill level wasn’t at the highest. Often, the Goons got their spot on the roster because of their brutality. There just isn’t enough room on the bench for the Goon in today’s game.

Sure, we’ve seen Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby fight, but he’s not known for that. Crosby isn’t a Goon.

Detroit Red Wings Niklas Kronwall is known for his hits per his namesake. Kronwall- not a Goon.

Agitators are forwards like Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler who likes to taunt players into starting something. Kesler isn’t a Goon, but some would debate that.

The NHL has drawn a larger audience and the demographics have changed. Youth leagues will not tolerate the fighting and expect a higher level of skill in all areas of the game. Women’s leagues are flourishing, and that’s all breadth of skill. The popularity of the NHL and its affiliates challenge the game to become more than just pond hockey.

Who is your favorite Goon?

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National Hockey Lockout

Award for lameness. The lockout will have reverberations in varied degrees depending on its duration. If players are bailing immediately, the fans are sure to follow. Maintaining a billion dollar industry with no provider and no customer won’t hold back a backlash.

NCAA and AHL hockey will see a profit, and those neighbordhood junior leagues will benefit from new spectators. The fans want hockey. The game of hockey is why fans pay to see the game,  not to buy a pretzel and a key chain. Going to a game, supporting your team is tradition for most recalling classic memories. If food and trinkets call you to the game, then you really are not a hockey fan.

This work stoppage has sent Evgeny Malkin and Sergei Gonchar packing for home signing deals with Mettalurg of the Kontinental Hockey League. The Pittsburgh Penguins roster got lighter as Sidney Crosby’s agent made an inquiry to the KHL so Sid the Kid won’t hit a skid this season. Yannick Weber and Mark Streit sign in Switzerland, Christian Ehrhoff heads to Germany, so who will next to send a message to the NHL?  Pavel Datsyuk and Alex Ovechkin, that’s who. Patrick Berglund will play for free in Sweden and the exodus continues.

Shane Doan’s contract was wrapped up with a 4-year deal in Phoenix as the Coyotes arena deal looked positive and possible. Now, that’s all gone for those few fans who eagerly anticipated the return of their desert dogs.

The owners are the only people who really want this lockout. They lose money but hope to gain. This tactic is a way to keep the lid on grandstanding in the future with ludicrous multi-year contracts that escalate as the player deflates. Even NHL players are expendable. Perhaps this is a passive technique to rid the tough guy world of whiners and embellish-makers.

It’s a bittersweet farewell to NHL veterans Teemu Selanne and Daniel Alfredsson who will not get a grand farewell if the season isn’t salvaged.

We’ll all laugh about this went the lockout gives way by November, right? We’ll all be cautious and snagging some of those promotional tickets the NHL teams will have to fork over to win back the loyal.

The lockout is lame because it’s the same issue in any workplace- administration vs. staff. Rarely do the two sides ever see the same problem or the same solution. Negotiation must end on a win-win, and that is not happening soon at any percentage rate.

Gary Bettman and Bill Daly will forego salaries this season, and the NHL employees will go to a 4-day work week to save money. The Florida Panthers let go of their mascot and the damages to the profits continue. What was the point of all of this again?

Remember these great moments?

or this great moment for the Rangers/Devils fans?


National Hockey Lame. Positives in all of this: no Paulina Gretzky and Nickelback.

On the Road to the Stanley Cup

Heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs, there’s a little for everyone. From traditional old-school matchups like the Pens and Flyers, to irksome bumps a team must get over like the pressure Nashville faces with Detroit. An interesting pairing in the West puts the Kings and Canucks in a must-see series.

The season starts here and now with a clean slate heading towards the coveted Stanley Cup. Whatever the ranking,the odds, the previous wins, teams have this chance once no matter what happened a few days ago. It’s now or never. The honor of making it to the playoffs can change the course of any team’s season.

East:

(4)Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5)Philadelphia Flyers– One of the best series to follow. The battle of Pennsylvania is always a regular season blowout. The Flyers have the talent in Claude Giroux and the moxy of Scott Hartnell to take on the challenge. With Sidney Crosby back for the Pens, Pittsburgh has the extra power-forward to take the points. Goaltending seems balanced in both nets. Pittsburgh can’t lose with Crosby. Pens win in 5.

(6)New Jersey Devils vs. (3)Florida Panthers The Devils have done a tremendous job this season rounding out their talent and finding ways to win. Though Brodeur was shaky in net early on, goaltending looks fixed for now. The Panthers have the momentum and the spirit to clinch this series. Panthers in 4.

(8)Ottawa Senators vs. (1)New York Rangers– New York clinched the East, so that would make this an easy series win…..not so fast. The Senators have had an upswing that could have them be the upset team. The Rangers may have some concerns and could take this for granted. Henrik Lundqvist wants this and has the tools to finish it. Rangers in 5.

(7)Washington Capitals vs. (2)Boston Bruins– Ovechkin and crew made it by an inch. Boston knows the path and with the depth, even top players for the Caps can’t get it done. Bruins in 4.

West:

(4)Nashville Predators vs. (5)Detroit Red Wings– Nashville always comes to face the Wings in the playoffs at some point. Detroit is the Preds’ brick wall. This year, with home-ice advantage, Nashville have the opportunity to swing it their way. Don’t underestimate the Wings performance this season. Hockeytown finds a way to win. Wings in 7.

(8)Los Angeles Kings vs. (1)Vancouver Canucks- Winner of the President’s Trophy, Vancouver is on a journey to win their destiny. Last season, the Canucks  lost in game 7 releasing chaos into the streets of Vancouver. Canucks can’t afford to lose again. The Kings have made an impressive run and will be formidable opponents. Quick can beat Luongo. Carter, Richards and Kopitar can beat Kesler, Burrows and at least one Sedin. The Canucks will take the series, but not without a fight in 6.

(7)San Jose Sharks vs. (2)St. Louis Blues– St. Louis will win. That’s all I can say. The Sharks have been a disappointment in many areas. The Blues have been an amazing team this season. Blues sweep.

(6)Chicago Blackhawks vs. (3) Phoenix Coyotes– Tight fight. The Coyotes just seem to find a way to win, but mostly goaltender Mike Smith has found a way to win and a nod for the Vezina. Chicago may not have it. The momentum going in to the series will determine the outcome. Coyotes in 7.

With the Western Conference team surge, the competition is fierce. The Eastern Conference has been the victim of sharp criticism for the sagging efforts of the traditionally winning side. New York serves as a good measurement of the talents of the Eastern teams. The West is growing in strength and the race was tight. The East brings the skill and sharpshooters,  while the West brings the intensity and passion play. What a great season it has been! Good luck to your playoff team and enjoy the games.

New York Skate of Mind

Finally, Rangers fans have their razzmatazz back on Broadway, or do they?  News out of training camp created an impeccable look into the metamorphosis of the New York Rangers. Despite a loss to the New Jersey Devils in preseason, the Rangers have an incredible group of players who will overcome any obstacle, particularly if coach Torts has anything to say about it. So why are they sitting last in the division?

Considered by The Hockey News for the Jack Adams award for best coach, John Tortorella won with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, and he will win again. With the cast of talent in New York, the playoff run will surpass the past few season. Filling in the gaps will bring the Rangers the stature the team, Torts and the fans expect from an Original Six team. Fan-fave Sean Avery was given the boot and possibly took the energy with him. While Torts and Avery clashed, the talent on the team now did surpass Avery’s abilities over the long haul.

The New York Rangers paid a pretty penny to secure dominance in the New York market with the addition of Brad Richards. Richards is excited to be playing in New York, but has he been distracted by the huge crowds eyeing his every move? Are the Rangers able to deliver on their preseason prowess or will they find Richards a bust in the Big Apple? Too soon to tell Rangers fans. Let Ryan Callahan lend his captaincy to the cause. The Rangers looked good and they have the tools to do it, eventually.

How about those Buffalo Sabres? Great team concept with Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, Christian Ehrhoff, Tyler Myers, Robyn Regehr and the entire cast of the Sabres who could become the New York team fans are cheering about on Broadway. Ryan Miller’s blueliners are showing more cohesion and so it was planned to stop that gap effectively showcasing Miller’s abilities. Be true Buffalo fans and allow those bandwagon fans to cheer because when was the last time that happened?

Tavares has brought the New York Islanders the franchise player the Island wanted. Not quite the fisherman of yore, but steering the boat nicely. The return of Evgeni Nabokov looks like a nice fit by the confidence in goal against the Rangers over the weekend. With Ricky D out again, anything can happen in net.

Fisherman logo

Islanders Vintage Logo

The New Jersey Devils are close behind with their confidence in their new coach and new system in play. The nagging issue remains in net with Martin Brodeur an iffy healthy mainstay. Johan Hedberg is no slouch. Hedberg served with the Penguins and is familiar with the demands in this division. Look for the Devils to add players as needed- recent rumor for Kyle Turris.

The Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins make this division an enticing race. With Jagr’s return and Sidney Crosby slated to return soon, the Pennsylvania teams will lace up and tighten the race for New York’s teams.

Juggling UFA’s and Jagr

To the chagrin or cheers of hockey fans everywhere, the mulleted wonder that is Jaromir Jagr has returned to the NHL. After snubbing a deal offered by his original team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jagr signing a deal at the other end of Pennsylvania resulted in a sweet deal for the Philadelphia Flyers and Jagr. The Flyers’ deal is worth $3.3 million.

Jagr Mullet

Jagr returns

The 39-year-old Jagr spent the past three seasons playing in Russia, but had kept the hockey world abuzz with rumors of signing with various NHL teams including the Detroit Red Wings and the New York Rangers.

Jagr’s decision to play with the Flyers was a result of the savvy intentions to create a Stanley Cup contending team. Adding Ilya Bryzgalov in net boosts the Flyers ability to maintain a quality netminder and not succumb to the turnstile of past years. Perhaps this is the team where Kris Versteeg will land for longer than a stint. The Jeff Carter trade to Columbus brings Jakuc Voracek, while the Mike Richards trade brings two great players in Wayne Simmonds and top prospect Brayden Schenn.

Former Dallas forward, Brad Richards, will don a New York Rangers jersey as Chris Drury exits. The Rangers will be contenders this year and get past the first-round of the playoffs. The Eastern Conference will be compelling with Jagr, Richards and hopefully Sidney Crosby in the mix. Now the question is whether Patrick Kane’s mullet wearing for the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs will make a return,  if Jagr can get the Flyers back in the playoff  fun.  Let the players   rock the business-up-front, party-in-the-back look.  Let’s hope  the beard gets a rest.

Let the Season begin….

The Colorado Avalanche stunned the Stanley Cup champs in the Avs NHL season opener.  Predicted to finish low in the Western Conference standings, the Avalanche took it to the Hawks with a win on the first day of the 2010-11 NHL season.

Winger Chris Stewart scored first for the Avs with an unassisted goal, after an opening power-play goal by Bryan Bickell. Goals by Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny put Colorado up approaching the third intermission. Patrick Sharp rallied for the Hawks making the game even. Forced to go into overtime, Paul Stastny scored the game-winning goal in the Avs season opener at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Continuing the celebration in the West, the Edmonton Oilers debuted their new look and new rookies. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi took the ice in the season opener in Edmonton. The Oilers are counting on rebuilding their team and fan base by highlighting an exciting list of young players expected to make an impact in the NHL.    Eberle scored a short-handed goal in the third period to claim his first NHL goal and Edmonton’s first rookie goal. Hall and Paajarvi did not score, but logged significant ice time for fans to view their future stars.  The battle of Alberta wasn’t even close with a shutout by the Oilers over the Calgary Flames.

In the East, some gains and pains. Pittsburgh opened their new season in a new arena, but lost to the Philadelphia Flyers by a goal. Crosby failed to score. Minnesota’s Guillaume Latendresse scored the first NHL goal of the season, but the Minnesota Wild could not win over the Carolina Hurricanes. The success of the Hurricanes continued winning their second game over the Wild. Toronto passes a huge roadblock by winning over the Montreal Canadiens at home. New captain Dion Phaneuf assisted on the opening goal.

It was an exciting opening night and many teams have taken the first step on their road to success, others fell short.

Beyond Fantasy: NHL season comes to a TV near you

Thursday night, the NHL season kicks off with an afternoon game- so consider calling in sick if you are fans of Minnesota or Carolina. The Hurricanes must gain ground this year after a let down last season. Carolina cannot look bad hosting the NHL All-Star game, either. Minnesota has had some buzz. At the Colorado Avalanche training camp, I overheard a conversation suggesting that the Wild looked good this year. As I turned around to see who would make such a statement, I found myself talking with Brian Engblom. Maybe, you want to take a look at the Wild this year, just in case.

If you have to make it to work,then rush home to check in on the Penguins home opener at their new digs against in-state rival, the Flyers. With that talent on both sides, this should be the kick-off game to your season, especially if your fantasy team conists of Sidney Crosby.

Then the Candians let loose: Montreal fights to keep their powerhouse positioned for the playoffs and Toronto recharges with captain Bling. The idea of having Dion Phaneuf as the masthead of the Leafs brings pure in-your-face hockey back to Toronot. But I’ll be watching Edmonton’s Taylor Hall. Colorado did it with Duchene, and the Islanders did it with Tavares, and so shall the Oilers. This kid is nothing to sneeze at. Hall will make watching Oilers games fun and interesting.

To close out the evening, the Stanley Cup champs come to Denver to face last year’s pleasant surprise. The BlackHawks are down a few players, but the base is still strong. Colorado hopes to climb higher than last year and regain more praise from the pundits. Chris Stewart was the star of the Avs training camp and everyone knew it. Look for a competitive game to round out the evening.