Saturday, February 6, 2016

I Watched This Game: the McDavid Version

This edition of "I Watched This Game" is the first time I will have seen Connor McDavid in NHL action, as in an entire game as opposed to just the highlights. The Edmonton Oilers, McDavid's team, travelled to Ottawa to take on the Senators in a Thursday night tilt, and it ended up rather one-sided.


  • Canadian national anthem courtesy of Constable Lyndon Slewidge. It went as well as his other performances of the national anthem in Ottawa.


  • The Oilers waste little time getting on the board, as Mark Fayne fires a laser past Craig Anderson to put the Oilers up 1-0.
  • McDavid is a threat with or without the puck. Case in point: Jordan Eberle shot the puck instead of giving it back to McDavid on an odd-man rush and Eberle was rewarded the first of two goals to double the Oilers' lead. 
  • Former Senator Eric Gryba gets into a fight with Max McCormick. Not much of a fight, just a lot of clutching and grabbing.
  • Chris Neil goes to the box for interference, and the Oilers make them pay, thanks to an on-the-tape pass from McDavid to Eberle that ends up finding the back of the net and puts a premature end to Anderson's night.
  • The Senators get an opportunity to get back into the game when Benoit Pouliot goes off for hooking. Mike Hoffman makes good on this opportunity and cuts the lead down to two.
  • The Oilers got off to a hot start, and that is good enough for a 3-1 lead after one period.
  • Mark Stone fires a puck at the net, which Cam Talbot saves initially, but the puck manages to cross the line before Talbot could knock it away. The Senators are within one.
  • Fayne is a dirty hooker, so he's gone for two. However, the Senators can't capitalize, and it marks the beginning of the end for their chances to win.
  • Zack Kassian fires a shot from the left circle, which zips past Andrew Hammond and restores the Oilers' lead to two. If Kassian can provide secondary scoring like this and play to his size, he will be a shrewd pick-up for the Oilers this season and possibly beyond.
  • Former teammates go at it, as Gryba and Zack Smith have their dance. It was a lengthy one, and both threw some good shots. They get five to cool off.
  • Darnell Nurse is heading to the box for interference.
  • Both teams exchanged goals in the second period, which means the Oilers still have a two-goal lead heading into the final frame. It almost became a one-goal lead, but Talbot made a last second save to preserve the lead.
  • Shane Prince trips Justin Schultz, so it's off to the box for him.
  • The Oilers seem to be firing every puck with eyes, as Andrej Sekera finds the back of the net from the blue line on the power play.
  • Leon Draisaitl gets in on the act, as he scores on a one-on-one to give the Oilers six goals on the evening.
  • McCormick is fighting again, this time against Nurse. Nurse pretty much dominated this fight, and both get five to relax, with Nurse having a bag of ice on the hand.
  • Shortly after leaving the box, Nurse heads back there thanks to a high-stick.
  • Chris Wideman roughs up McDavid, so he sits for two minutes.
  • Brandon Davidson tacks on the extra point, as he fires a shot from the blue line past Hammond.
Overall, this was a game in which practically every member of the Oilers contributed in some way, shape, or form. McDavid's points all happened in the first period, but it was clear that his presence took the pressure off his teammates, and they put together their best effort of the season. Exactly how long it lasts (note: it imploded in today's game at Montreal) remains to be seen.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mavericks Report: Back to Work

Last week's Mavericks Report was not put up, since I was preparing for NHL All-Star Weekend in Nashville, and there will be things mentioned later about that. This week's Mavericks Report will cover the past week and the week I missed.

On January 22 and 23, the Mavericks concluded their road trip in Tulsa, winning the first game 2-1, but losing 6-3 Saturday after allowing a third period barrage in the latter game. The Mavericks came home last week to take on the Evansville IceMen on Tuesday, and in a wild affair, the Mavericks managed to eke out a 6-5 win in overtime. Friday and Saturday, the Mavericks continued their dominance of the Wichita Thunder in a 2-1 win Friday and a 5-2 win on Saturday.

The Mavericks take a brief road trip to Tulsa on Wednesday before coming back home for a Saturday tilt with the Colorado Eagles.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Heading in Opposite Directions: Redux

Before I get to today's topic, the weekly Missouri Mavericks report will return next week, as I am preparing for this weekend's NHL All-Star weekend.

Today, there are two teams heading in opposite directions, one of them in the WHL and the other in the OHL. Heading up is the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes, who are three points clear of Kelowna for the top spot in the league and are in the midst of a 10-game winning streak. They are the best offensive team, which has been a dramatic turnaround from the last two seasons in which they were terrible in just about every way possible. The Hurricanes will have a chance to extend that winning streak on Friday as they visit the Victoria Royals.

On the other side is the OHL's Flint Firebirds. It's been an eventful first season for the team formerly known as the Plymouth Whalers, as they've had to deal with the embarrassment of having their players walk out after the owner fired the coaching staff, only to rehire them a few days later, as well as a water crisis in the city. Currently, they sit nine points out of a playoff spot, but haven't won since December 18, when they beat Oshawa that evening. They have also only managed two points in that drought, getting overtime losses in both instances. The Firebirds are the third worst offense in the league, as only Guelph and Sudbury are worse, with leading scorer Will Bitten in a bad funk, as he scored last game, which ended an eight game goal scoring drought. It hasn't helped that Josh Wesley, Alex Nedeljkovic, and Connor Chatham were all traded prior to the trade deadline. The Firebirds hope to get back in the win column this Friday at Sarnia.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

New Faces for the Mavs

In an effort to bolster their push for the Kelly Cup, the Missouri Mavericks made some moves yesterday. Zach Cohen and Garrett Ladd will join the Mavericks while Scott Wamsganz will be joining his third team this season after the Mavericks traded him to the Alaska Aces for future considerations.

Cohen comes from the Rapid City Rush with a score line of seven goals and nine assists. Ladd will make the Mavericks his third team of the season after splitting time with both Adirondack and Elmira, notching three goals and three assists. Wamsganz had been acquired from Orlando a few weeks ago and suited up for five games before being sent to Alaska.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mavericks Report: Coming Home and Then Some

The last leg of the Missouri Mavericks road trip happened last week, and for most of it, the Mavericks came out on top. Tuesday, the Mavericks bested their cross-state rival Wichita 4-1.  Friday and Saturday, the Mavericks wrapped up the road trip with a split in Colorado, winning 5-4 on Friday and losing 5-3 on Saturday.

The Mavericks come home this weekend to take on the Tulsa Oilers in back to back games on Friday and Saturday.

Because of early deadlines for this week, the next week's games will also include Evansville coming into town on that Tuesday before Wichita comes calling on Friday and Saturday.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

From Last to First

As of this current writing, the WHL season sees the Lethbridge Hurricanes as the top team in the WHL, standing three points clear of Kelowna. At this time last year, the Hurricanes were cleaning up the mess left behind from the Brad Robson/Drake Berehowsky era.

It was thought that when Peter Anholt took over as General Manager and head coach, the latter role relinquished prior to this season, things could only go up from there. Just how far they've gone up this season was not what anyone expected, as Anholt and Brent Kisio, who was Anholt's hand-picked coach, have put Lethbridge not only in position to end a playoff-free streak that has spawned three regimes, but also a chance to claim the Scotty Munro Trophy for best regular season. Having a +63 in goal differential this season in contrast to a -102 goal differential last season is a big part of it, but now, we're seeing what talent such as Giorgio Estephan, Tyler Wong, and Stuart Skinner can do when competent people behind the bench and in the front office are present.  It's a new day in Lethbridge, and they're not finished yet, as they could be a team that makes a deep playoff run even in a tough Central Division that features Calgary and Red Deer.

Friday, January 15, 2016

I Watched This Game: It Was Wretched

On this episode of "I watched this game," I will examine the mess that was the Vancouver Canucks taking on the Washington Capitals. Because it was a mess, today's thoughts will be done as if the WWE stable New Day were penning this, so with that in mind, "It's a New Day, yes it is!"

  • "Ohhhhh, Landover! Don't you dare be sour! Clap for your new 500 goal scorer, and feel the powwwaaaahhhh!!!" The Capitals held a pregame ceremony for Alex Ovechkin in honor of him joining the 500 goal club. The usual highlight package was mostly scrapped for some of the other 500 goal members (plus Pavel Bure) sending their congratulations. This would be followed by the Caps front office and Ovechkin's parents and fiancee joining him at center ice for a presentation of a specially made stick. In all, it was nice, but then the game started.
  • No New Day references for the first period, as nobody scored or took a penalty.

  • Holy smokes, somebody found Tom Green!
  • Alex Edler sits for two minutes, as he gets called for a penalty.
  • The Canucks manage to kill off the penalty, but Edler turns the puck over, leading to a two on one the other way that sees Evgeny Kuznetsov put the Caps up 1-0.
  • Linden Vey high sticks, and that is a no-no, so two for him in the box.
  • Nicklas Backstrom gets called for a trip, but Edler also goes for bad acting.
  • Another defensive lapse by Vancouver leads to Karl Alzner bring by himself at the blue line, where he fires a laser past Ryan Miller to put the Caps up 2-0.
  • Backstrom gets called for a hook, but Vancouver can't put one past Braden Holtby.
  • Period ends with Vancouver down two and with little life offensively. Of course, Derek Dorsett is playing with the Sedins, which is proof that even they can't make everyone better that plays on the same line as them.
  • Third period begins, and just two minutes in, Tom Wilson scores to make it all but over.
  • Marcus Johansson and Brooks Laich take penalties less than a minute apart, putting Vancouver two men up, which they manage to score just as the two man advantage was up thanks to Radim Vrbata scoring.
  • Kuznetsov puts in an empty net goal to seal the deal for Washington.
Overall, it was an effort that can be best described as "booty." Miller played fairly well in his return from the injured list, but the defense let him down, with Matt Bartkowski and Edler at the forefront of the problems this game. Nothing worked offensively, either, as Willie Desjardins kept mixing lines (e.g. Vey-Cracknell-Burrows) to no avail. To conclude this segment, I'd like to end with what best describes the game last night: 

"This. Game sucked. This. Game sucked. This. Game sucked."