Sunday, April 29, 2007

Canada edges Germans for first victory at World Championships

For whatever reason, Canada always seems to have problems getting untracked at the World Championships. The tournament which features a number of NHLers who unexpectedly found some free spring time on their hands, got underway over the weekend.

Canada gained its first victory on Friday with a hard earned 3-2 result over a German squad that once again proved to be troublesome for the Canadians. Germany which has seen a marked improvement in the quality of play in the last few years, always seems to get up for games against the Canadians and this year was no exception. They scored first and didn't shy away from the physical nature of the game.

The opening game was a hard hitting match, too hard hitting in one instance as Canada's Shea Weber found himself out of the game after only a minute and a bit after a hard hit to the head of Germany's Yannic Seidenberg. A definitive size differential and a poorly placed elbow caused the problematic hit which resulted in Seidenberg sliding down the ice in obvious distress, eventually to be helped off the ice destined not to return to the match. It has since been determined that he suffered a concussion and will not be available to the Germans for the rest of the competition.

Weber was kicked out of the game and later in the weekend on Sunday was given a three game suspension for the hit, despite the fact that the on site referee had not ruled the hit to be one with intent.

Canada finally secured the lead and eventual victory when Jamal Mayers put the third and winning goal into the net at the eleven minute mark of the third period. Canada managed to shut down the German attack after than and held on for victory number one.

Canada next plays Norway on Monday morning. The games are being broadcast on TSN and on its Broadband service as well, which will feature the puck drop at Noon ET, 9 AM PST. Bosses can expect production to decline in those offices which have computer access!

Canucks powerless at GM Place

The Vancouver Canucks can only look at the state of their anemic power play, to understand the kind of hurdles they have ahead of them in their series with the Anaheim Ducks.

The Canucks have been woeful when given the man advantage, compiling a horrid 1 for 20 record in this series thus far when offered the chance to go on the power play, a strange situation that seems to render them incapable of finishing around the net, providing the puck actually makes it that far.

Once again the Canucks seemed to have the Ducks where they might like them, only to let them off the hook. Shots whistled wide, went over the top of the net or were routinely handled by J. S. Giguere, whatever the reason, few of them found a spot behind the Duck goaltender.

At the other end of the rink, Roberto Luongo gave proof that he is mortal after all, while still a major presence for the Canucks he found the Ducks troublesome on a couple of instances with goals he no doubt wishes he could have back.

Anaheim’s 3-2 victory gives the Ducks home ice advantage back and it’s an edge that may come in handy, as the play from the last two games dictates that these two teams may need all seven games to settle up accounts.

The loss will be a frustrating one for Vancouver, who controlled a good portion of the play for a fair amount of the game, despite giving up an early goal they battled back and gave the sold out crowd at GM Place cause for hope that a home ice win was in the cards.

But credit to the Ducks who not only killed off a high number of penalty situations, but who also took the play into the Vancouver end and as is the case were rewarded for their efforts in fore checking and facing the abuse that comes with play in the trenches. More importantly they took full advantage of their man advantages, scoring two goals on the way to their 3-2 victory Sunday night in Vancouver.

While Vancouver will have to learn to not take costly penalties at key moments of a game, the real work tomorrow at practice will be on the power play a portion of the game, a most important aspect of the game that has gone missing in Vancouver.

All the big defensive plays and stellar goal tending will help with the goal of advancing in the playoffs, but without goals that advance stands a very good chance of being sidelined.

Ranger relief in double OT

The hockey Gods finally smiled on the New York Rangers Sunday, the Blue shirts who played a spirited and impressive game in this third match up in the best of seven with Buffalo, seemed fated to lose game three in a most unfair fashion.

The Rangers, who were denied a goal on a questionable redirection call during regulation time, stemmed the flow of the Sabre attack to until the middle stages of the third period. It was at 12:14 of the third that the Daniel Briere of the Sabres picked up the equalizer and prepared the Madison Square Crowd for overtime.

The Rangers who had been taking the play to the Sabres for the previous periods must have been wondering just what does it take to take a win from the upper New York state visitors. When they weren’t finding problems beating Ryan Miller

The first overtime gave both teams ample opportunity to finish off game three and take home a win, but as has been the case for most of this series both Ranger goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and the Sabres Miller held up their end of the bargain, keeping opposing scorers at bay for the first twenty minute OT.

The second OT was just as exciting, both teams had chances and hit posts or just wide shots were there to torture the crowd. Finally the Rangers managed to pick up the winning goal mid way through the second OT when Michal Rozsival put a shot through a crowd from just past the right point which found its way behind Miller.

While the two OT’s were entertaining there did seem to be a sense of justice that the Rangers were the victors, having had the bulk of the chances through the five periods of hockey they no doubt felt that the net result was deserved.

From calls that went against them, to more amazing work from Miller in the Buffalo goal, it was a desperate Rangers team that kept on the mission to win back a game from the Sabres.

It could proved to be a major confidence booster for the Rangers, who showed signs of life in game two but came up just a little short. Now that they have a win under their belts, it could be the moment of momentum change that every series seems to find.

The Sabres will be looking to retake that mood with game four on Tuesday, a match that could go a fair way to showing which team is willing to claw their way through to the next round.

World Championships 2007

We'll provide the scoring summary pages for the World Championships Tournament.
Canadian games highlighted in red, USA games higlighted in blue, all others green.

May 10 FINLAND 5 - USA 4
May 8 No games scheduled
May 7 CANADA 6 - USA 3
May 5 USA 3 - GERMANY 0
May 4 RUSSIA 3 - ITALY 0
May 2 ITALY 4 - LATVIA 3
May 1 CZECH REP 4 - USA 3
April 30 CANADA 4 - NORWAY 2
April 30 SWEDEN 8 - LATVIA 2
April 29 FINLAND 6 - DENMARK 2
April 29 CZECH REP 6 - AUSTRIA 1
April 29 RUSSIA 8 - UKRAINE 1
April 29 USA 5 - BELARUS 1
April 28 CANADA 3 - GERMANY 2
April 28 SWEDEN 7 - ITALY 1
April 28 SLOVAKIA 3 - NORWAY 0
April 27 USA 6 - AUSTRIA 2
April 27 FINLAND 5 - UKRAINE 0
April 27 RUSSIA 9 - DENMARK 1

Brodeur provides the Devils right hand

The New Jersey Devils clawed their way back from the abyss on Saturday night, having squandered a 2-0 lead and having given the majority of the momentum to the Ottawa Senators, the Devils still managed to take away a double over time victory.

A win which tied the best of seven series at two a piece with games three and four heading for Ottawa and promises at least one more home date for the residents of the Meadowlands swamps.

For the most part the game was played on the terms of the Senators, a fast skating game which ignored the trap as best it could.The Senators must have felt that time was to be on their side, as they peppered Devil goaltender Martin Brodeur with shots from the second period on, coming close on a number of occasions to ending the game and perhaps the Devils season.
Instead, Brodeur playing masterfully continued to provide his team mates with opportunities to stay with the Senators and hopefully gain a lucky bounce.

At the other end of the rink, the Sens Ray Emery played a solid game as well, however two of the Devil goals he may wish to have had back. Especially a dying second goal in the first period that gave the Devils a two to nothing lead, that goal which proved to be a tad controversial came about as the last ticks of the clock were counting down, though in the Ottawa dressing room they’re wondering what the result might have been if the timer had started the clock at the same instant as the puck drop. But before they launch a judicial inquiry into the missing ticks of the clock a better question might be what the defence was thinking, when they allowed a number of Devils to have free range in front of the Senators net.

Still, the opportunity for victory was there for most of the third and the following over times, the Senators controlled the play and had more than enough chances to put the game away. Only Brodeur, featuring all new goal tending equipment stood in their way and he loomed large on Saturday.

The hero of the night was Jamie Langenbrunner, who took advantage of an Ottawa miscue in the neutral zone and streak down the ice to score the winning goal midway through the second over time frame.

For the Senators it’s time to regroup and prepare for game three back home, frustrated by a win that got away from them on Saturday, they will have to put it all behind them and concentrated on taking down the Devils at Scotiabank Place. The job of moving to the next round just got a little more difficult with the loss, allowing the Devils to gain a life in the playoff run is always a dangerous ting, especially when their all star and one day hall of fame bound goaltender plays as though he still has much to prove.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Canucks earn well deserved victory

It was a result that not only seems fair, but gives hope to any team that plays the game. Hard work and guts will in the end provide you with a favourable result. For the fourth time thus far in the 2007 playoff season, the Canucks took a game into overtime, another double OT affair that showcased Roberto Luongo’s talents and left Duck fans silent.

The Vancouver Canucks evened up their best of seven playoff series with a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night, thanks mainly to a never say die attitude and an ability to keep the pressure on the Ducks even as the roster looked ready to add more names to the injury list.

Vancouver came out flying much as they did two nights ago, the only difference is that they kept that pace for all of the sixty minutes of regulation time, and while the pace slowed a bit into the second overtime period, they still managed to keep pressure on the Ducks and collect the victory.

Roberto Luongo and J S Giguere battled hard through the four and a half periods of play, staving off attacks, making amazing saves and suffering the bashes of opposing forwards straying top close to that blue paint.

In the end it was an ugly little goal that settled the game, a redirection at 7:42 of the second overtime by Jeff Cowan of a Trevor Linden pass that deflected off of Giguere’s skate and into the net. Considering some of the earlier opportunities that the Canucks had and the ones that Giguere turned away, it must have been a relief for the Canucks to finally sneak one by the Duck goaltender.

Game Two showcased the Canucks as their fans remembered from earlier this year, an attacking squad that created many chances to score and began to hit again in the corners, creating turnovers and opportunity.

After Game one, many had already conceded the series to the Ducks, Friday night the Canucks provided an answer that maybe they’ll play out the series anyways just for fun.

It was a gut check for Vancouver, already down by two defencemen; Alain Vigneault must have had his heart in his throat when Willie Mitchell appeared to twist his knee in the second period. Mitchell went under the stands to walk out the problem, and while it’s suspected he wasn’t playing at full potential, he did return to the ice and played a pivotal role in the Canucks battle for the win.

Once again though, it was the goaltending of Roberto Luongo that provided the Canucks with the platform to take the win. He held off waves of attacks from the Ducks and suffered more than a few skate bys that the Ducks used to try to knock him off his game.

It didn’t work out for them however, as Luongo stymied many Ducks over the course of the night.

The win for Vancouver should do much in changing the momentum of this series towards them, in what seemed like an impossible situation, they kept to their team approach, the fourth liners contributing as much as the first line, a patchwork defensive corp, playing for their lives and sending a message to the Ducks that any thoughts of a four game sweep just weren’t on.

Game Three in Vancouver should be much of the same, two teams trying to build on previous success; Vancouver’s a little more recent and much more dramatic.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ducks too much in game one

A well rested Anaheim Ducks team spotted the Vancouver Canucks ten minutes of free wheeling and a goal, before the speed and physical nature of the Ducks attack took over the game.

Vancouver suffering injuries to key members on both forward and defensive lines seemed to be skating in quicksand by the middle of the second period. The quick start from the Canucks of the first ten minutes of the first period was quickly forgotten as the Ducks wheeled into the Vancouver end of the rink time and time again, winning the battles on the boards, taking control of the neutral zone and sending many more shots at Roberto Luongo than he had to worry about in the opening series against Dallas.

The Canucks gave their fans a glimmer of hope early on, with a pressing attack in the Ducks zone that resulted in Jeff Cowan’s early period marker, a lead that didn’t last long and wouldn’t be seen again on Wednesday night.

The Canucks looked tired by the second period, the cumulative effect of a hard grinding seven game series with the Stars which ended on Monday night. The Ducks who had taken the weekend to rest and recuperate looked fresh once they got their skating legs, the flow of the game moving their way through the latter stages of the first and for the remainder of the next forty minutes.

Vancouver had a few chances to scramble back into the game, but missed shots wide or broken plays left them with few chances, those that they did take were quickly handled in a workmanlike fashion by Ducks goaltender JS Giguere. Who while not overly tasked on Wednesday, made key saves that frustrated and shut down the Canucks.

The Sedin line struggled as it did in stages of the Dallas series, the undermanned defence made mental errors that gave the Ducks too much possession time deep in the Vancouver end.

There was no such struggle over at the Anaheim bench, Andy McDonald proved to be a one man wrecking crew as he picked up three goals and an assist on the way to Anaheim's 5-1 victory Wednesday. The Anaheim attack providing for more than a few opportunities for the Ducks to capitalize on and taking its toll on a tired looking Canucks squad.

Game one was most likely considered a gimme for the Ducks even before the puck drop, any
team that fights through a seven game series as the Canucks did, will have a problem picking up the focus for a new series.

The loss to Anaheim last night will serve to remind the Canucks that a new series is underway, one that is going to be significantly different in style and flow than the one with the Stars was.

Game two is the one that Vancouver will want to get back on track for, with faster skating, harder hitting and the need to think smarter on the ice. Anaheim is not a team that you wish to provide opportunity to, mental errors and untimely penalties will give the Ducks more than enough chances to score.

Vancouver’s assignment is to play as they did in the first ten minutes of Wednesday, but carry it through for the remaining fifty, anything short of that is just an invitation for the Ducks to take 2 games to none lead for the Vancouver leg of the first four games.

Upper New York State gets the Upper hand in game one

The New York Rangers found out first hand what all the talk was about this past season, after a first twenty minutes of feeling each other out, the Sabres launched a scoring blitz in the second period that left the Blue shirts reeling by the time forty minutes had elapsed.

Three Sabre goals were tallied within five minutes in the second, a rapid push that left the faithful dancing in the aisles as the Boys of Broadway struggled to find their legs and make any kind of counter attack.

Though the truth be told, most of the Ranger misfortune came at their own hands, penalties took their toll on the Big City New Yorkers as they spent far too much time serving penance for their sins and less time taking the puck to Ryan Miller.

Sean Avery, who has quickly become public enemy number one in Buffalo, was his pesky self but also proved to be problematic for his own team. His style of play not only attracted the attention the Sabres hockey club and their fans, but also seemed to make him heavy on the radar of the officials.

Avery was called twice for infractions, leaving his team mates to kill off pointless penalties, a common occurrence from more than a few of his fellow team mates. Far too many selfish penalties left the Rangers on the defensive for a good portion of the night, when they could have been working on an attack that was missing a few sparks on Wednesday and in need of a tune up.

The Sabres didn’t exactly outplay the Rangers, though they certainly outscored them. Taking advantage of Ranger miscues, Buffalo was in firm control of the game by the time the third period rolled around and the 5-2 victory was secured.

The Rangers had a brief window to jump back into the game with a two minute block of time where they had a five on three advantage, but the team that dismissed Atlanta without much trouble, couldn’t muster much of an attack against the speedy and hard hitting Sabres.

The Big city Rangers will regroup and try to figure out how the handle the Sabres speed, physical play and goaltending magic. For the Sabres, game two offers up another chance to keep the Rangers off balance and take a two game to none lead off to the Big Apple.

In the battle of New York State the northern cousins are feeling pretty good after one game and they and their fans are more than aware that taking care of the Rangers as soon as possible is the best possible scenario.

The Rangers, who have more playoff ghosts of things gone wrong hanging around their locker room than most NHL teams, will want to even things up fast. Too many things can go wrong when your competition gets too far ahead, time can run out and so can your luck around the net.
Game two should prove to be a pivotal match in the family feud of New York State, a key moment that could prove to be where the series is destined to go and which team has plans to make the full journey.

Quest for Stanley: Second Round results

We archive the results from the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.


Sun May 5 Game Six Buffalo 5 - New York Rangers 4
Fri May 4 Game Five Buffalo 2 - New York Rangers 1 (1 OT)
Tues May 1 Game Four New York Rangers 2 - Buffalo 1
Sun April 29 Game Three New York Rangers 3 - Buffalo 2 (2 OT)
Fri April 27 Game Two Buffalo 3 - New York 2
Wed April 25 Game One Buffalo 5-New York Rangers 2



Thurs May 3 Game Five Anaheim 2 - Vancouver 1 (2 OT)
Tues May 1 Game Four Anaheim 3 - Vancouver 2 (OT)
Sun April 29 Game Three Anaheim 3 - Vancouver 2
Fri April 27 Game Two Vancouver 2 - Anaheim 1
Wed April 25 Game One Anaheim 5-Vancouver 1



Sat May 5 Game Five Ottawa 3 - New Jersey 2
Wed May 2 Game Four Ottawa 3 - New Jersey 2
Mon April 30 Game Three Ottawa 2 - New Jersey 0
Sat April 28 Game Two New Jersey 3 - Ottawa 2 (2 OT)
Thurs April 26 Game One Ottawa 5- New Jersey 4



Mon May 7 Game Six Detroit 2 - San Jose 0
Sat May 5 Game Five Detroit 4 - San Jose 1
Wed May 2 Game Four Detroit 3 - San Jose 2
Mon April 30 Game Three San Jose 2 - Detroit 1
Sat April 28 Game Two Detroit 3 - San Jose 2
Thurs April 26 Game One San Jose 2 - Detroit 0


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Round Two

Here are the thumbnail sketches for each of the four semi final series, which are set to begin on Wednesday and Thursday Nights.

From schedules to regular season results, statistical match ups and video offerings, the links will take you to the pages and their treasure trove of information for the next round of the Quest for Stanley's Cup.


GM 1: Wed. April 25 at Buffalo
GM 2: Fri. April 27 at Buffalo
GM 3: Sun. April 29 at New York
GM 4: Tue. May 1 at New York
*GM 5: Fri. May 4 at Buffalo
*GM 6: Sun. May 6 at New York
*GM 7: Tue. May 8 at Buffalo
* If necessary


GM 1: Wed. April 25 at Anaheim
GM 2: Fri. April 27 at Anaheim
GM 3: Sun. April 29 at Vancouver
GM 4: Tue. May 1 at Vancouver
*GM 5: Thu. May 3 at Anaheim
*GM 6: Sun. May 6 at Vancouver
*GM 7: Tue. May 8 at Anaheim
* If necessary


GM 1: Thu. April 26 at New Jersey
GM 2: Sat. April 28 at New Jersey
GM 3: Mon. April 30 at Ottawa
GM 4: Wed. May 2 at Ottawa
*GM 5: Sat. May 5 at New Jersey
*GM 6: Mon. May 7 at Ottawa
*GM 7: Wed. May 9 at New Jersey
* If necessary


GM 1: Thu. April 26 at Detroit
GM 2: Sat. April 28 at Detroit
GM 3: Mon. April 30 at San Jose
GM 4: Wed. May 2 at San Jose
*GM 5: Sat. May 5 at Detroit
*GM 6: Mon. May 7 at San Jose
*GM 7: Wed. May 9 at Detroit
* If necessary

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Empire state feud heats up

The Rangers weren’t saying particularly nice things about the Sabres on Tuesday and the Sabres for their part weren’t paying much in the way of attention.

The Battle of New York gets underway on Wednesday night, with game one of the Eastern semi final set for Buffalo at 7 pm (4pm PST). For the Sabres it's a simple matter of changing the suburban competition for the downtown squad, teams from the same metro area but as different as Mets from Yankees.

On paper as they say, it should be a no contest for the Sabres, they defeated the Rangers in all four contests in the regular season, skated to the top of the conference and for the most part were considered the team to beat going into the first round of the playoffs.

All of which seemingly has no effect on a Blueshirt squad that came alive down the playoff stretch and rolled over the Atlanta Thrashers in four straight games.

Tom Renney provided the bulletin board material with his declaration that he’s not sure that the Sabres are the cream of the crop, while Sean Avery guaranteed that the boiling point will be reached quickly when he said that he “hated all of them already”, and he hasn’t even take to the ice yet!

Buffalo which found the Islanders a little harder to handle than perhaps they anticipated, most likely won’t be taking the Rangers possibilities for granted. A team on a hot streak is always a scary thing for a front runner, one win can set them off again and make your task a very miserable lot.

Expect the Sabres to try and get off to a fast start, grab a few quick goals and then shut down the Rangers. Considering some of the heated disputes that Buffalo had with Ottawa during the regular season, any silly stuff from the Rangers will most likely be met in kind.

It’s thought that a steady parade to the penalty box might be more beneficial to the Sabres than the Broadway boys, so the Rangers may find themselves reined in a fair amount of the time so as not to give the Sabres the chance to do some freewheeling.

It’s an anticipated match up for the state, one which is going to provide the newspapers with enough material to keep the newsstands popular places for the next few weeks.

NY Daily News--Rangers won’t be Buffaloed
NY Daily News--Dellapina’s Blueshirt blog
NY Post--Brash Avery to Sabres: I'm gonna to hurt you
NY Post--Sabre Rattlers
NY Sun--Rangers must keep pace with speedy Sabres
Newsday--Rangers: Not so fast, Sabres
Newsday--Sabres: Extra wait OK
New York Times--Renney, Rangers’ Cool Hand, Is Smoothing the Rough Edges
New York Times--Sabres Choose to Let Skates Do Their Talking
Buffalo News--Hockey frenzy ratchets up to next level
Buffalo News--Sabres edge blog
Buffalo News--Ruff won't play match game

Järn Mike se take anklaga av Tre Kronor

Upcoming training camps in Stockholm won’t be for the weak of heart, nor for the lazy, as the new no nonsense Senior Advisor to the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation takes up his duties.

Mike Keenan is on the move again, the long time coach and GM of many an NHL squad is taking his interpretations of hockey to Sweden. Keenan was named today as kind of a development czar for Swedish under 20 and under 18 hockey.

The news was relayed today on TSN, but seems to have first surfaced back on April 12th considering this afterthought found on the sportsnet site.

Regardless, it would seem that 11 days in between reports didn't change the end result and Keenan will soon be keeping a watchful eye over the tre kronors kids.

He has been tapped to observe the talent, make recommendations and assist the Swedes in fine tuning a system of evaluating and developing players for the national teams.

This after Sweden has suffered a few early exits from international competitions over the last few years. While he still has designs on an NHL job one day again, he felt that the time to get back to watching hockey players and developing a program had come around again.

Should a suitable NHL program come looking for his guidance, his agreement with the Swedish federation has an escape clause.

One wonders if the players on the Swedish rosters have the same option…

Keenan joins Swedes as hockey advisor
Darren Dreger
4/24/2007 9:37:39 AM

When it comes to Mike Keenan, the hockey world has learned to expect the unexpected. With that in mind, Keenan is about to add a new chapter to his storied career by returning to hockey management, but not with a National Hockey League team, at least not for the moment.

Keenan, most recently a hockey analyst with TSN, has accepted the position of Senior Advisor to the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation. His primary role will focus on Sweden's under 20 and under 18 programs, working on coaching development and player development, while helping Swedish officials fine tune an evaluation system for the selection of players. "

To be involved with a group and a country who have performed so well on the world stage with a strong emphasis on improving is very flattering," Keenan told TSN. "I'm looking forward to another opportunity to learn more about hockey and I'm humbled they respect me and the Canadian perspective enough to ask me," Keenan added.

"It's all about new ideas. Both for Sweden, and for me."

Keenan was first approached by the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation in early February, but he didn't accept the offer in anticipation an NHL position would surface.

It hasn't, so rather than wait for the phone to ring, the veteran coach and executive decided to add some International flavour to his resume. However, Keenan's contract with the Swedes will not impede his ability to return to the NHL at any point during the year and much of his responsibility will be completed from North America.

His first assignment will be to observe Sweden's performance at the upcoming World Men's Hockey Championship in Moscow.

BC develops an outbreak of Canuck fever

The forecast is calling for rain for most of coastal British Columbia today, but in the hearts of Canuck fans it's nothing but a sunny day, with the promise of more to come.

From Fort Nelson to Cranbrook, Fort St. John to Prince Rupert, the Okanagan and Thompson valleys, and Vancouver Island to the Lower Mainland, the steps seem quicker and the smiles brighter. That after the Canucks eliminated the Dallas Stars in game seven of their opening round showdown.

To give those outside the province a sample of just how much Canuck fans have been longing for their heroes to move past a first round. We reprise an item we put together earlier today for our local portal, a town called podunk, our blog of items of interest to this part of the province.

Today, as the TV commercials go, it would seem that "we are all Canucks".

Cautious fans that they are, Vancouver Canuck fans had to make sure that the Stars were dead, before they could begin to move the bandwagons down the road.

They began to believe when Trevor Linden deflected that Mattias Ohlund shot for the go ahead goal in the third, they heaved a sigh of relief when Roberto Luongo stared down Stu Barnes and denied him a goal, and then they truly began to believe God was on their side when Mike Modano rattled a shot off the cross bar. They officially took the parking brake off the bandwagon with one minute to go in the game, when two empty net goals sealed the victory.

With the traditional handshakes signaling the start of the parade, across the province they streamed out into the streets to celebrate some long forgotten territory in BC, the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Vancouver police kept a wary eye on Robson street revelers mindful of a similar exhibition a few years ago, which got far too out of hand and stained that city for years.

Richmond RCMP, apparently not used to crowds, called in reinforcements from other lower mainland detachments when a crowd on the Richmond/Delta border grew from 400 to 700 strong. (We wonder how the officials in Richmond might fare during your average salmon season or all native basketball tournament both of which attract numbers larger than that, with much less in the way of local resources!)

Reports from all corners of the province have local residents honking their horns and waving their flags in celebration of the home province squad advancing in this years playoffs.

Here in Podunk the traditional caravan of the believers were finally secure in their hopes that they could hit the streets. Released from their personal shackles and now able to do the 2nd Avenue circle tour and wave their signs in rapture in front of Tim Horton’s.

It was a wise corporate buyer at Shoppers Drug Mart that stocked up on those Canuck flags and windsocks currently on sale (or maybe sold out by now). The bandwagon is officially underway now and anything with a Canuck logo is soon to be as good as gold, wanna make a buck this week, list your Canuck stuff on eBay or htmf, you’ll find a buyer.

The next step for the believers will be the corner gathering of young children with their honk for the Canucks signs, you can begin to watch for them to grow in larger numbers on Wednesday night on street corners city wide.

To get a true understanding of the relief of a near disaster turned to victory, here’s Ed Willes article from today’s Vancouver Province.

It’s a wonderful walk down the lane of disappointments past and a fine primer as to why the fever has struck again across the province. Podunkians will be intrigued with his shout out to Rupertites, steeped as it is in the oldest of Prince Rupert stereotypes…

We may be wet and soggy, but you can bet that there will be many waving those flags no matter what the conditions are!

Fans finally have Luongo to float their hopes
Trade with Florida was aimed at exorcising demons of Cloutier et al
Ed Willes
The Province
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Vancouver Canucks fans, who are preconditioned to expect disaster the way the citizens of Prince Rupert are preconditioned to expect rain, refused to believe it could happen this way because so many catastrophes are burned into their memory banks.

Why, just three years ago, they watched their team cough up a 2-1 lead to the Calgary Flames. And the year before that, they watched in horror as their team blew a 3-1 lead to the Minnesota Wild. And the year before that, they watched their heroes piddle away a 2-0 series lead to the Detroit Red Wings.

Did we mention on all three occasions the Canucks were eliminated on home ice?

So given recent history, to say nothing of a larger pattern of futility which has cursed this franchise since its inception, it's no wonder the faithful approach occasions such as Monday night the way a man approaches a proctology exam.

Right now, the image of Dan Cloutier or Johan Hedberg or Alex Auld fishing the puck out of the net is just a little more powerful than the image of Roberto Luongo at work. But give them some time. They might get used to this new guy.

On Monday night, the man who's changed so many things around this city changed the run of black luck the Canucks have endured since 1994, beating Marty Turco and the Dallas Stars 4-1 in a series that didn't provide much in the way of high art, but did produce one of the most mesmerizing goaltending duels in recent playoff history.

OK, this win had as much to do with the Sedin twins, a Canucks power play that picked an opportune time to climb out of the deep freeze and a Dallas Stars lineup depleted by the loss of diabolical defenceman Sergei Zubov. But the Canucks have been in this position so many times before and always found a way to break their fans' hearts.

This time it wasn't going to happen. More to the point, Luongo wasn't going to let it happen. He made that his mission statement when he arrived here from Florida via a trade of incomprehensible good fortune for the Canucks. On Monday night, he made good on his promise. He also had considerable help from his teammates.

With the 172nd straight GM Place sellout whipped into a frenzy, the Canucks came out in the opening 20 and played tighter than the skin on Joan Rivers' face. They handled the puck like it was radioactive. There was no purpose or confidence in the game.

The Stars, admittedly, weren't much better, but when rookie Joel Lundqvist scored -- he of the three regular season markers -- beat Luongo with a laser, an eerie sense of foreboding descended upon the throng.

And then it happened. Early in the second, whatever fog the Canucks were in dissipated and they started to carry the play.

The precise turning point came during a 48-second 5-on-3 in which they didn't score, but pelted Turco with five shots and engaged the crowd. From that point to the final horn, the ice tilted towards the Dallas goalie with Henrik Sedin, on a seeing-eye pass from his brother Daniel, finally beating Turco after he'd blanked the Canucks for almost eight periods.

Old-folk Trevor Linden then scored a goal for the aged, tipping in Mattias Ohlund's power-play point shot seven minutes into the third period and from there the Canucks turned to the shutdown game, which keyed their regular-season success.

It helped that the Stars, who were clearly whipped and a step behind over the final 40 minutes, were forced to take a series of penalties over the final frame.

It also helped that Mike Modano's fluttering one-timer went off the crossbar with four minutes left. But Luongo also provided the defining save of the game when he robbed Stu Barnes from the kill zone midway through the third and even threw in saves off Trevor Daley and Stephane Robidas in the final two minutes for good measure before empty-net goals by Taylor Pyatt and Bryan Smolinski inflated the final score.

The heartbreak hotel was closed for this night. For once, Canucks fans unconditional level for this team was returned.

© The Vancouver Province 2007

Round Two set for debut on Wednesday night

Vancouver won't get much of a rest, they leave the glow of GM Place on Tuesday to travel to Anaheim and begin their Western Conference playoff round with the Ducks on Wednesday night. A matchup that CBC will broadcast across the nation starting at 7 pm PST, 10 pm EST and 11:30 for the hockey mad residents of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Canucks game is the night cap of the round two debut, earlier that night TSN will resume its playoff coverage with the Battle of New York State as the Rangers travel upstate to play the Sabres.

Thursday finds the Devils and Senators on the CBC as they launch their playoff series at 7 pm (4 pm PST), half an hour later the Sharks and Red Wings take to the ice at the Joe Louis arena broadcast coast to coast on TSN.

The second round has proven to be a more successful outing for the CBC in the NHL boardroom, NBC seems to have selected the Sabres/Rangers and Sharks/Red Wings as their high profile match ups.

Leaving the Sens and Canucks games to the CBC and prime time exposure in Canada including the holy grail broadcast night of Saturday's Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, which will feature the Sens and Devils at 8 pm EST, 5 PM pacific.

William Houston, dug up the details of the backroom talks and how the second round will appear on your television sets.

CBC has its wish granted
Globe and Mail Update

April 24, 2007

Hockey Night In Canada has been given back its traditional Saturday night time slot for the second round of the National Hockey League playoffs.

The CBC complained at the start of the post-season when it was denied a Saturday prime time game on the first weekend.

The network will air the second game of the New Jersey Devils-Ottawa Senators series Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT.

The fifth game, if needed, is scheduled for the following Saturday, May 5, in prime time. The CBC draws a larger audience on Saturday nights than it does in the afternoon.

The other good news for the CBC was the Vancouver Canucks advancing to the second round.

The Canucks, playing Anaheim Ducks, will give the CBC a second series involving a Canadian team.

In the first round, the NHL schedule-maker gave NBC the Saturday afternoon spot for the second game of the Pittsburgh Penguins-Senators series because the U.S. network wanted to showcase Penguins star Sidney Crosby.

The CBC viewed that decision as unfair given that it pays the league a $65-million rights fee annually while NBC pays nothing in a profit sharing arrangement with the NHL.

In the second round, NBC will air on Saturday and Sunday afternoon games involving Buffalo Sabres-New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings-San Jose Sharks.

TSN's second-round coverage will focus on the Sabres-Rangers and the Red Wings-Sharks series. The Sabres and Rangers play their first game Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Red Wings-Sharks series starts Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

The first telecast of the Canucks-Ducks series is Wednesday at 10 p.m. on the CBC. Game 1 of the Ottawa-New Jersey series, on the CBC, is Thursday at 7 p.m.

The CBC will shoot all the games in the Ottawa-New Jersey series in high definition television. Games 3 and 4 and 6, if necessary, of the Vancouver-Anaheim series will be in HDTV.

Jim Hughson and Harry Neale will stay in the West to call the Vancouver-Anaheim series. Bob Cole and Greg Millen will provide play by play for the Ottawa-New Jersey series.

TSN will provide HDTV for all second round telecasts. Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire will call the Rangers-Sabres series. Chris Cuthbert and Glenn Healy will be in the booth for Red Wings-Sharks.



A Big Save, a goal post and a much desired victory.

The scoreboard doesn’t correctly identify the drama of a Monday night in Vancouver.

With a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars, the Vancouver Canucks have advanced in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but make no mistake this was a nail biting, nervous tic, no trip to the bathroom 2-1 victory. The two empty net goals in the waning minute of play, a mere closing door for the Stars season.

For Vancouver fans it was a roller coaster ride of emotions, the Canucks once again coming out in the first period and playing far too tentatively, afraid to take chances, not taking the Dallas zone, in fact it was a first period that resembled far too much of this series, a plodding, boring affair that threatened to do the unthinkable put an audience to sleep in a game seven showdown.

Dallas once again got off to an early lead, and in a series that produced few in the way of goals, there were many no doubt thinking that a 1-0 lead thanks to Joel Lundqvist was all that Dallas would require to put away the Canucks for another season.

It was the second period that proved to be the turning point of the series, a welcome change of attack for Canuck fans with a much desired result posted after sixty minutes. It was careless penalties that proved to be the downfall of the Stars, allowing the Canucks to begin to untrack a power play that had been held off the board for far too long.

The Sedin’s not only had been held scoreless for most of the last three games, they had been rendered almost invisible, with the Stars parading to the penalty box in the second the twins began to find the room that makes them effective and the result was a Henrik Sedin wrister that beat Marty Turco, tying up the game and returning the GM Place crowd back to its boisterous best.

From that point on the Canucks seemed for the most part to take control of the flow of play, the bulk of which seemed to be in the Turco end of the rink. The Stars goaltender who had been under the microscope for most of the series, had nothing to be ashamed of after his game seven appearance. His goaltending was the only thing left in the Dallas arsenal to at least keep them close for 59 minutes, time and time again he was called on to knock down a blast from the point, deflect a streaking puck for the corner or rescue a dribbling puck goal line bound.

If anyone in Dallas is tying the can to the Stars goaltender for the series loss, then they probably haven’t watched too many hockey games. If they feel that Turco is to be a scapegoat in Dallas, we’re pretty sure that there are at least 26 other NHL teams that would be drooling at the prospect of him donning their colours for next season.

The Stars lost when they spent far too much time killing penalties and not near enough time directing shots at Roberto Luongo. The Canucks who took their own share of pointless penalties at inopportune times, seemed to fare better when it came to keeping the Stars at bay, and when they failed Luongo was there to bail them out.

In the third period, Luongo became a Canuck of legend with his nerves of steel save on Stu Barnes, a Star left alone in the slot with a gaping upper right piece of net waiting for his shot, a shot which Luongo somehow snared much to the disbelief of Barnes.

Moments later, Luongo would hear the re-assuring clang of a cross bar hit and a puck deflected out and away from the nets, an oh so close miss that pretty well defines the margin of victory in a game that was everything a playoff game could be for two of its three periods.

Trevor Linden the long time workhorse of the Canucks and perhaps one of the teams most popular players added to the fan club on Monday, his redirection of an Ohlund shot from the point would be the winning goal, a fitting candidate for perhaps one of the more important game seven goals in his long and illustrious Canuck career.

The two empty net goals late in the third, were but the siren call for Canuck fans to breathe again, the Stars tired, frustrated and defeated could only watch on as the clock ticked off the final seconds and they prepared for their game end handshakes.

The final scene at centre ice post game was a moment that no doubt few in GM Place will forget, as Luongo and Turco met to acknowledge each other’s contribution to a low scoring and goaltender dominated series, which saw Turco record a remarkable three games of shut out hockey before the Stars surrendered the hard fought ice they had conquered in games five and six a remarkable comeback that came up just short.

There will without a doubt be many conversations about penalties in the wake of the game seven decision. The Stars will be feeling rather victimized by the NHL zebras, while the Canucks will counter that they to had some calls made against them that were not helpful to their cause.

If nothing else, the officiating of Game Seven will send a message to the league that penalties will be called, regardless of the timing, the flow or the criticism of the teams.

For teams like Anaheim and San Jose that have made regular pilgrimages to the penalty box in the opening round, the message is out there, transgress at your peril, if in doubt ask the Stars…

Monday, April 23, 2007

Super League planned for Europe

The move to increase the awareness of European hockey has begun, with plans announced last week that a new Champions League will begin play in 2008-09.

Up for grabs will be a prize pool of 15 million dollars, with the European winner collecting close to 1 million of it.

There is also a hope that there will be NHL participation in late September, as an NHL club team would travel to Europe to take part in challenge matches with the top European finishers.

The details were outlined by Rene Fassel on Friday , with round robin qualifiers and such planned to set the participant pool for the Super League, while participation of the NHL was left as a rather far off possibility, it was stated that discussions were continuing for North American Club team participation.

It's doubtful that a Stanley Cup champion squad would be designated as the travel team, for one thing with NHL free agency and such each end of season brings many changes to even a Stanley Cup roster and more importantly the NHL may not wish to run the risk of it's Stanley Cup champion suffering an unexpected defeat.

However, the idea of a European super league is a long sought project for hockey. Perhaps just another step to an eventual European Division for the NHL, which would offer more options for marketing and provide a new twist to the game.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Stars not dead yet!

It was a one goal game and as many suggested it would be first goal won.

Dallas and Vancouver played out game five of their best of seven series and the Stars went home victorious with an OT goal by Brendan Morrow to put away the win and live to fight another day.

The game had many chances through the three regulation periods for Vancouver or Dallas to take control, but as has been the case through most of the series, tight checking and cautious play at times combined to make sure that this one like two others in the series goes on to extra time. Both Roberto Luongo and Marty Tucker played amazing hockey in their respective nets, featuring many game saving saves that forced the issue to overtime.

At one point in the game. the Hockey Gods seemed to be mocking the Stars, as a wild pass careened off the boards in a missed pass to the point, as it travelled down the rink it went just wide of an empty Dallas net, which had been vacated for an extra attacker due to a penalty call in progress.

Had it travelled into the empty net, it very well may have been the exclamation point on both the Canucks and the Stars seasons. As things worked out however, it was a matter of hard nosed hockey and stick to itiveness.

The Canucks still lead the series 3 games to 2, with game six scheduled for Saturday night in Dallas. While the home folk might be disappointed in the loss Thursday and the chance to celebrate in Vancouver's stadium. It's probably better for all concerned if the Canucks could put the Stars ways for good with the next game.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

More time for road hockey Sidney!

Senators 3-Penguins 0

The Ottawa Senators picked up their much desired fourth win and dismissed the Penguins from further play in this years Stanley Cup.

David Naylor captured the series winning game for the Globe and Mail.

Senators march on
Canadian Press
April 19, 2007
OTTAWA — Aside from the fact it took five games and not four, the Ottawa Senators' first-round Stanley Cup playoff series with the Pittsburgh Penguins went about as well as they could have hoped for.

And so it will be a confident and well-rested group that prepares to meet one of the New York Rangers, New York Islanders or New Jersey Devils when the second round begins next week.

The Senators ran away from Pittsburgh in only the first and final games of the series, but held the overall edge every way it can be measured: special teams, goaltending, scoring chances and overall team discipline.

That's significant, because the talented young Penguins hit the playoffs riding a wave of enthusiasm from an unexpectedly good season and as one of the hottest teams in hockey.

While the Penguins displayed tremendous talent from young players such as Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin during the series, it was experience and depth that won the day for Ottawa.

Pittsburgh put up its best effort Tuesday night in Game 4 but looked defeated by the middle of Game 5 when Ottawa had a 2-0 lead en route to a 3-0 win and a first-round victory for the second year in a row.

The Senators got goals from Dany Heatley, Antoine Vermette and Chris Kelly during a three-goal second period before shutting the Pens down in the third in front of goaltender Ray Emery, who got his first playoff shutout.

"I definitely felt more confident as the series went on," Emery said.

This series will no doubt be recalled as Crosby's playoff baptism but it might best be remembered for the way Ottawa's depth players seized the day. In a series that included some superstar talent, forwards such as Kelly, Mike Comrie, Christoph Schubert and defenceman Joe Corvo were as important to Ottawa's victory as anyone.

Comrie and Kelly combined for six goals, the same total as Malkin, Crosby and Staal combined. Meanwhile, scoring from Pittsburgh's secondary forwards was non-existent.

While Crosby had his moments, the defence tandem of Chris Phillip and Anton Volchenkov held him to only one game-changing moment, that in the third period of Game 2, which turned out to be Crosby's only meaningful goal.

"We took away his drive [to the net]," Murray said. "I thought our defence really did a fine job there."

Crosby attributed his team's loss to its failure to capitalize at key moments. At the top of that list would be scoring only one goal through two periods of domination in Game 4 and failing to score on two five-on-three power plays during the opening few minutes of Game 5.

"We gave them chances to hang around the last couple of games," Crosby said. "If we'd scored a couple of big goals, [the series] is 3-2 for us. It's just a matter of us not executing at key times. [This season] was a big turnaround. We're proud of the way we prepared for this season and really came together. Maybe [losing] is something that needed to happen."

The Penguins had scored more power-play goals than any team during the regular season. The Senators countered that by avoiding bad penalties and then holding Pittsburgh to only four power-play goals on 28 chances during the series, including none on 17 chances in the final three games.

"Look at the regular season and they got a lot of power-play goals against us and that was the difference," said Ottawa forward Mike Fisher. "When we shut down the power play that's a huge part of their offence. We kind of frustrated them."

Also of note is the manner in which Ottawa remained calm in those few times against the Penguins when things didn't go their way, showing no signs of bending under the pressure of expectations. One of those instances occurred during first 10 minutes of Game 5 when Pittsburgh held a 7-0 shots-on-goal advantage.

"That's where you find out a lot about your team," Murray said. "Pittsburgh came out strong in Game 4 and we weathered that and came out with the win. Tonight we took penalties early and were not as poised as I wanted, but it tells you a lot about the group the way we dug down."

Does the D in Big D stand for Defeat?

The sounds coming out of Dallas aren’t particularly comforting if you’re a fan of the Dallas Stars, as the team faces possible elimination from the Stanley Cup derby tonight in Vancouver, the obituaries seem to almost be ready to print.

The Dallas News features a number of stories today that seem to indicate that the white flag is about to go up and the Stars are set to disappoint their faithful once again.

From the spell that Roberto Luongo seems to have over the Stars, columnist Tim Cowlishaw has all but ceded the required fourth and final win to the Canucks tonight.

They examine the taming of Mike Modano, a Star who has not shined very brightly in this series and who is quoted as saying that this series seems a lot like the first round of last year. Dallas historians will remember that was a series which saw the Stars eliminated in five games. Not exactly a rallying cry to get the boys moving.

And Captain Brendan Morrow pretty well nails the coffin shut with his sound bytes that the team is playing scared and lacking in confidence. A brush fire that head coach Dave Tippet was trying frantically to extinguish today as his team gets set for tonight’s puck drop.

All in all, it’s not a mood which resonates with the sound of a team ready to launch an improbable three game comeback to steal a series that the Canucks seem to have all but won.

The first ten minutes of tonight’s game five match up will tell the story, Dallas will need to come out flying, hitting, shooting and scoring fast. Should the Canucks score first and better yet put a couple of goals in early, then all that is left is the post game handshakes and newspaper post mortems on another disappointing season in Big D.

In fact, they seem already to have moved on to more important issues in Dallas. Hockey which never has been a high profile sport to begin with, seems to already to be banished to the back end of the paper. On Thursday, the desperate struggle of the Stars was overshadowed by the real news of the day in Big D.

The annual Texas/OU football extravaganza will remain at the Cotton Bowl, an event of much more significance to Texans, than the stumbling ways of their gypsy like hockey team.

Reaper’s Post season, spring cleaning list

With the playoffs winding along towards their eventual date with destiny with Stanley, the also rans are beginning to get the brooms out and sweep those unwanted management bodies out of the house.

Here's the tally thus far, of job openings and job seekers out on the NHL and international market.

MAY 29--The Columbus Blue Jackets continue to fine tune their list, whittling it down to five potential General Managers, with talk that they may have an announcement by Friday.
MAY 29--Mike Milbury has resigned his position as senior vice president of sports properties, but will remain with the Islanders as an advisor to owner Charles Wang.
MAY 29--The Phoenix Coyotes reached across North America to bring Don Maloney to the desert as the new GM of the underperforming squad.
APRIL 19—With Atlanta providing little in the way of a fight on the way to a 4-0 sweep by the Rangers, the Dallas Stars fighting amongst themselves as they head to Vancouver and Nashville struggling once again in their series with the Sharks, we suspect that the list of job seekers is about to increase very shortly. Stand by for more resumes and highlight reels…

APRIL 18—Doug MacLean’s’ six years of overseeing the Blue Jacket empire came to an end, as majority owner John H. McConnell held a lengthy post mortem of the season at an exclusive golf course in Columbus. At the end of the day, even the prospect of having to pay MacLean 1 and a half million dollars didn’t sway the executive jury from issuing their sentence of expulsion and asking MacLean to turn in his Blue Jacket and key to the executive washroom.

APRIL 11—Two days before Friday the 13th, Jason swept through the executive offices of the Phoenix Coyotes and upon the completion of his mission, only Wayne Gretzky (who had the benefit or burden of part ownership we guess) was left as a recognizable name in the Dog house. Let go were Gretzky confidant and Coyote GM Mike Barnett, assistant GM Laurence Gilman and Cliff Fletcher, senior executive vice-president of hockey operations. As well the day before the management team was dismissed, assistant coach Barry Smith made sure his passport was up to date and packed his parachute accepting a position to coach in Russia.

APRIL 2, 2007—Even before the season came to an end, Lou Lamoriello decided to get a head start on his spring cleaning. In a move that surprised everyone but the players on the bench, Lou advised Claude Julien that his services were no longer required with the Devils. Lamoriello took over the team himself, currently piloting them to what is now a best of three showdown with Tampa Bay.

Blue day for Blue Jacket boss

The Doug MacLean era has come to an end in Columbus, he was relieved of his duties after a lengthy meeting at a Columbus area country club. MacLean who joined the Blue Jackets in February of 1998 was the only GM the franchise has known.

The Columbus News Dispatch had an extensive article on the firing on the web today, including a review of his six seasons in management which were punctuated by questionable free agency signings that never seemed to live up to their potential. It appears that the handling of his players and how they fit into the long range plan for the team would be the final problem that caught up to him on Wednesday.

Of even more concern to the the owners will be the details on an expected financial loss of several million dollars this season for the Blue Jackets and the prospect of declining attendance.

With another sad finish and no playoff appearance to build interest in the team, it is expected that the team will see a hit on season ticket sales this off season. Thus, it would seem that there is a need to show that the team has plans to go in a new direction and improve their product.

It won't come cheap for majority owner John H. McConnell, he has to pay out a good portion of McLean's newly minted contract which to be bought out will give McLean at least 1 and a half million dollars, a lovely parting gift we must admit.

In addition to having to shell out now for a new GM, one who will no doubt command a high salary considering the job ahead. It will be interesting to watch and see who surfaces on the horizon to take a look at the state of Blue Jackets and what it might take to make them a better hockey club.

Cue the farewell tape!

Out shot, out scored, out played and now just OUT!

It was a quick and painful four games for the Atlanta Thrashers, the promise of the regular season and their debut in post season action laid to waste in four successive no shows in the playoffs.

The Thrashers never seemed to be inclined to take their shot this time around; instead they were schooled on hockey at the hands of the New York Rangers, who only made a serious run at the playoffs in the last month of the season.

Now they sit back, rest up and await the winners of the other series, while Atlanta tries to figure out what went wrong and who will be around to fix it in 2008.

The series was all New York from start to finish, solid team play that covered all the aspects of the game, the Thrashers with time on their hands now may wish to review the tape, then again perhaps they would just rather burn it.

Atlanta never seemed to have their heads in the game, whether due to poor preparation or just a singular lack of interest in their fate. Whatever the reason for their non appearance, they’ll have a fair amount of time to think about how they burned out in four straight games.

Bob Hartley may feel some heat for some of his personnel decisions this series, but the onus should be squarely on the players. Who when put on the stage they had battled all year to reach, suddenly develop a horrid case of stage fright and departed as fast as possible.

Don Waddell may also find his stewardship questioned, he made a number of moves during the season to build up the Thrasher line up, only to see little come of his work, a disappointment for sure, but one which he may survive due to the relative low profile that hockey has in the city.

Still, if they had hoped to build on the season and attract new fans, they have surely lost their window of opportunity. For now it’s time to push play and view the always popular end of season salute to the fans.

It debuts more than a few weeks earlier than Waddell and Hartley might have hoped for or wanted.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

No Bull, Habs may soon belong to Red Bull

There are a few media reports making the rounds on Tuesday, that the venerable former house of Molson; Les Canadiens, may soon change hands from American George Gillet to Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian billionaire who among his interests owns the Red Bull energy drink operation.

"Top Secret" (though apparently not quite so secret after all) negotiations are said to be taking place between Gillet and Mateschitz, which will see the charter member of the original six, become a part of the Meteschitz sports empire, which also includes both MLS and European soccer teams, two auto racing teams and a European hockey team.

Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette posted his story on the Gazette website, which traced some of the background on the potential deal. Including word on the disappointment of Gillet that his Habs stumbled in the stretch and missed the playoffs.

It could be that his disappointment is such, that he has decided to recoup his 275 million dollar purchase price plus whatever extra he can grab and bid adieu to hockey and Montreal.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Sunday smorgasbord of shinny

It was almost wall to wall hockey from 10 Am PST TO 10 PM PST on Sunday, with a brief interlude between 1 and 3 to replenish the beer fridge and make sure the provisions were laid in for the afternoon and evening’s entertainment.

If the NHL had worked the Ducks/Wild game a little better into the schedule they wouldn’t have ended up the unused dinner place at the table. As it turned out Anaheim and Minnesota provided only the briefest of bridges between the Canucks and Stars showdown in Big D.

The day started off with the Sunday Brunch special a 10 am start for pacific dwellers that tuned in and watched the Red Wings tune up the Flames. With an outrageous shot difference of 50 to 15 and tendency for the Flames to take penalties at the worst possible time, it’s no wonder that Calgary finds themselves on the downward slope out of the playoffs, a convincing 3-1 victory by Detroit left no doubt as to which team is in control of this series.

Calgary have been taken completely off their game, they have no desire to hit in the Detroit end, frequently give up the puck and are woefully disinterested in their own end. Facing fifty shots and only allowing three goals tells you that only Flame doing his job on Sunday was Mikka Kiprusoff.

Detroit is in complete control, they can roll the lines nicely; Hasek makes saves on that rare occasion that somebody on Calgary shows an interest in taking one. Game three is at crisis mode for the Flames, the first five to ten minutes will tell us all whether they have any interest in finishing off the playoff round or just waving the white flag and wishing Detroit well.

With a couple of hours to re stock and grab some fresh air, we settled in for the late afternoon and evening’s entertainment. Ottawa and Pittsburgh take to the ice for the second time in two days, after having gone two days between games one and two, only the NHL can construct such a strange way of showcasing their most important time of the year.

The Pens who had taken home ice advantage away from the Sens on Saturday in Ottawa, come out on the fly in the first period and pack away a goal in the first 50 seconds of play, a missed assignment on the Defensive side that allowed that old Senator thorn Gary Roberts to open the scoring and send the Mellon heads into rapture in Pittsburgh. It makes for a shaky start for the Sens, but as they head to the second period they have begun to reclaim the ice and take charge of the game. It was a rough bit of hockey at times, marked by a crushing hit from Colby Armstrong on Patrick Eaves that sent Eaves off the ice on a stretcher.

The physical play is a result of Ottawa’s domination of the play through the second and into most of the third. The Sens returned to the kind of play that helped them control the flow of game one. Led by their captain Daniel Alfredsson, the Sens took advantage of their opportunities and made the best of them. If they ever can get their power play untracked they could add even more to the total. By the third period the game is well in hand, the Sens with a 4-1 lead need only keep the pens hemmed in their own end and this one will fade to black nice and quick. However, Ottawa being Ottawa, there’s always a hard way to do things, the Sens briefly give the Penguins hope with a stupid penaltyby Christoph Schubert late in the third, allowing Pittsburgh to pick up a goal and contemplate a comeback, for Ottawa however, it’s not hard to get back on track and they shut the Pens down again, taking a 4-2 victory and a 2-1 lead in the series, reclaiming home ice advantage.

While we all anxiously wait to see if the crew in Dallas can transform a basketball court into a hockey surface in time for the drop of the puck, we graze over at TSN with the Ducks and Wild. It’s looking like a typical contest between the two clubs, low scoring, tight checking and a fair amount of hitting. We don’t linger long with the Canucks and Stars about to get to work, but while we watch it appears that the Ducks are more in control of the game. It’s an observation that perhaps explains the 2-1 victory, which leaves the Wild in a desperate place down three games to none and on the verge of elimination. Saturday night TSN won the national viewing lottery, with Hockey Night in Canada forced to offer up the Jersey/Lightning opus, TSN countered with the drama of Ted Nolan's return to Buffalo. And to make the evening complete Nolan's Islanders played hard all night to take a surprising victory out of Buffalo. It's safe to assume that the audience totals between the two nights will be significantly different.

Vancouver and Dallas prepare to light up the scoreboard as is their tradition. It’s another defensive match up as the two teams plod along in their ways, occasional forays into each others zone, tempered by congestion at centre ice provides the temp for the first half of the game. The two sides trade goals By the second period a little nap prepares us for the frantic play of the third and a subsequent overtime period. Canuck fans take a collective gasp in the third as Ladislav Nagy appears to run over the catching hand of Roberto Luongo, the dominating force of Luongo languishes on the ice for a bit, attended to by a trainer before slipping on the catching glove and facing down the Stars once again.

Later in the period, Marty Turco will take some Willie Mitchell ice shavings in the face and likewise find medical attention on the way in the form of eye drops. Having faced 25 shots to Luongo’s 29 by games end, perhaps the visine helped to get most of the red out, with the exception of the red light soon to come of Tyler Pyatts overtime marker to give the Canucks a 2-1 victory and 2-1 lead in the series.

For Stars fans two things should provide a bit of a worrisome trend, one that ability of the Canucks to dominate most of the third period out shooting the Stars 15-4 and the sudden burst of energy that came from combining Markus Naslund with the Sedins. If not for Turco’s acrobatic efforts, the game may never have made it to OT, as both the Sedins and Naslund came just short of ending the match before the sixty minute mark. For the second time in three games the two teams prepared to begin the long trudge through any number of extra periods, but the Canucks picked up where they left off in regulation, taking the play deep into the Stars end, at 7:47 of the first overtime Taylor Pyatt paid his penance for a lackluster regulation effort by taking a one timer from the face off circle off of a Brian Smolinski pass and parking it behind Marty Turco.

No need for oranges and bagels, Gatorade and IV drips this time, just barely into an OT sweat the game was done and the Canucks were once again in the driver’s seat. The game ended a few minutes short of 10 pm on the west coast, finishing off a twelve hour block of hockey that should deliver some decent ratings to the CBC for their Sunday shinny showcase.