Monday, February 28, 2011

Trade Winds for Vancouver

In dissecting the trades that Vancouver made this day, there are many things to consider.  However, before doing all that, I would like to say that I thought the team should have stood pat and given Cody Hodgson and Victor Oreskovich a chance to make their hay on the fourth line.  However, seeing the trades Vancouver made has me thinking a little different.  Why?  Let's look at the trades:

*Picking up Chris Higgins from Florida for Even Oberg and a 3rd round pick.

*Picking up Maxim Lapierre and MacGregor Sharp form Anaheim for Joel Perreault and a draft pick

In both instances, Vancouver really didn't give up much to pick up the players that can help right away.  Neither player given up was truly going to be a factor in the long term for the Canucks.  This aspect earns a passing grade, especially since they still have Hodgson, Jordan Schroeder, Sergei Shirokov, and any prospects that will figure into the team's future.  Draft picks from 2012 and 2013 were also sent to Anaheim and Florida, respectively, which likely are going to be a down the road deal.  For a team that wants to win now, this is a small price to pay for that.  As for the new guys:  Chris Higgins is a former 1st round pick that hasn't lived up to expectations.  A low risk deal, he doesn't have the same pressures that he had when in Montreal, NY Rangers, Calgary, or Florida.  Lapierre will fill a fourth line role, and won't have the pressures of Montreal or Anaheim.  If Lapierre adds toughness like I think he will and stays focused, the fourth line will look even better.  As for guys like Hodgson and Oreskovich, they'll get their time in Manitoba, but I would have liked for them to get some playoff experience on the NHL level, or at least some meaningful games with the Canucks.  In any event, both deals worked out as well as anyone could hope for: two players that provide depth and a need without giving up significant pieces to the puzzle in the future.

More Deadline Madness

Here is the Eastern Conference and the teams battling for the last few spots in that race.


7. New York Rangers:  Acquiring Bryan McCabe was good because they didn't give up much to get him.  However, the good could be undone if they do in fact, go for Brad Richards.  The Stars are asking a lot for him, and the Rangers look like the most likely suckers to go for the bait there.

8. Carolina Hurricanes: The most likely 8th seed at the moment, they would love another veteran presence to go along with recently acquired Cory Stillman to take some of the pressure off of rookies such as Jeff Skinner.

9. Buffalo Sabres: Acquired Brad Boyes in hopes of getting some offensive firepower.  Last time they tried to get offensive firepower (Raffi Torres last year), it did them no good.  Let's hope this time is different because Ryan Miller can only carry a team so far.

10. Toronto Maple Leafs: Despite being sellers, they're well in the playoff chase.  Two questions here: how long can James Reimer hold up and do the Leafs think about trading Phil Kessel?  Whether the Leafs make the playoffs or not, they look like they're setting themselves up for the future quite well.

11. Atlanta Thrashers:  Falling out of the playoff race fast, the Thrashers desperately need offense, something missing since Tobias Enstrom got hurt prior to the All-Star Break.  Perhaps being sellers would be good, since they don't nearly have enough to be contenders this year.

12. Florida Panthers:  Sell...big time!  Florida fans are delusional if they think the Panthers are playoff contenders.  If I were them, I'd entertain offers for Tomas Vokoun...right now.

13. New Jersey Devils: A long shot to make the playoffs, it's a miracle that they're even in the playoff hunt.  Too bad they still have to jump over a lot of bodies to get there.  Trading Jason Arnott doesn't necessarily mean they're out of it, but it would offer some relief on the cap space and maybe a prospect or two from that deal could help.

Deadline Madness

Today is the trade deadline in the NHL, and I have no idea who will be moved, but in an effort to help, I will be offering some "sage" advice to those teams wondering if they should be buying or selling.  This will cover the bubble teams, otherwise known as the 5-12 teams in the Western Conference and 7-13 teams in the Easter Conference (which will be covered in the next piece) within earshot of the playoffs. (Numbers reflect where team stands as of this morning)


5. Los Angeles Kings: They've been looking for that goal scorer on the wing, and Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner of Edmonton are rumored to be on their wish list.  Question is...what would the Kings give up to get either one?  They have to think about resigning players on their team, and both carry hefty price tags.

6. Calgary Flames: They've played their way back into the playoff chase, and having some scoring options would really help here, especially in the middle.  Question you mess with team chemistry that's been developed in recent weeks?  They're one of the hottest teams in that time, and clearly would benefit from a trade.  However, do they do that at the expense of chemistry and the future?

7. Minnesota Wild: They're in the hunt because of their goaltending and opportune scoring.  Do they make a move for more offense or try to maintain team chemistry?  A team that relies heavily on goaltending needs breathing room on offense, but do you pull the trigger if the right deal presents itself?

8. Chicago Blackhawks: Signing Brent Seabrook to a five year extension just might sink this team beyond this year.  Yes, they're still in the playoff hunt, but was signing him to that deal now necessary?  If they  don't make the playoffs, be ready for another fire sale.

9. Dallas Stars: The $10 Million dollar question is what the Stars do with Brad Richards.  Yes, they're still in the playoff hunt, but do you move him to get prospects or do you keep him and risk getting nothing for him in free angency?  The crystal ball says the Stars will likely fleece the Rangers into trading a blue chip prospect for Richards.

10. Nashville Predators: Always near the bottom of the playoff ladder, their need has been the same since the beginning of their existence: offense.  Trading from their wealth of blue line prospects would be good, but in the long term, the Preds have to worry about resigning Shea Weber, their best defenseman.

11. Anaheim Ducks: They've already made moves before the deadline, but will it be enough?  I don't see how Dan Ellis will solve the goaltending hole that Jonas Hiller left due to injuries.  The Ducks will be a tough out in the playoffs, but they have to get there first, and I just don't see that with their goaltending situation right now.

12. Columbus Blue Jackets:  They should be selling.  Too many bodies to jump over, and not enough firepower on the blue line to really make a difference.  Their goaltending isn't that great, either.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

At Long Last...

The gentleman you see here is Hugh Jessiman, and before you start the "Hugh Jazz" jokes, let it be known that it took me a while to reach that one before all of the other ones about how he never got a sniff of the NHL...until tonight.

Yes, it has been a long time coming for the former 1st round pick of the New York Rangers in 2003.  In fact, he never suited up for the Rangers in a regular season game.  Drafted while playing in Dartmouth, he never replicated the numbers that got him drafted in the first place.  Even worse, the Rangers had the ignominious distinction of being the team that passed on Dustin Brown, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, and Zach Parise, with the last of those four drafted by the New Jersey Devils.  Jessiman's journey would take him to the Predators' farm system and eventually Chicago's farm system before a trade to Florida would lead him to this point.  Think about this, Shawn Belle, he of 11 games in the NHL, even has had a sniff of the NHL.  As for Jessiman, he should take some time to appreciate the work and sometimes, the pain of getting to the NHL.  Even if he never plays another game in the NHL, all of the perseverance that got him to one game will have paid off.  At least he will have an interesting story to tell his kids when he gets older.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Garage Sale in Ottawa

The Ottawa Senators are continuing their sell off of players, as Alexei Kovalev was sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional 7th round pick in the 2011 draft.  Before getting into what it means for both teams, it should be noted that Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Brian Elliot, and Jarko Ruutu were also traded in the past weeks.  Who could be next?  Chris Phillips or Nick Foligno are decent options, and if the Jason Spezza troubles flare up again, he could be on the block.  That last one, obviously, is dependent on what management says, as opposed to Spezza, since the last time it happened, management shot down Spezza's trade request in the offseason.

Now, about the Kovalev trade, it is another salary dump for Ottawa that they would gladly take, since Kovalev has produced very little for them.  Like Dany Heatley and Spezza before him, Kovalev has also had issues with coach Cory Clouston, and Clouston's situation bears watching at the end of the season.  For Pittsburgh, a 7th round pick was all they gave up to get Kovalev, which means Pittsburgh isn't likely to lose much if he doesn't pan out for the playoff run.  The gamble here is that Kovalev replicates his first run in Pittsburgh, albeit in a rental role, as opposed to a full season.  Ottawa is clearly in a rebuilding mode now, and it's likely going to take a long time, especially since they have no dependable stay at home defenseman since Anton Volchenkov left for New Jersey and their goaltending is a perpetual mess.  Oh, and captain Daniel Alfredsson can't carry the team forever, as he is nearing 40.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ashes in Her Eyes

Gather around, kids, as yet another horrifying story from the mind of Alan Spencer is upon us.  This time, it's about what happens when the cremated ashes attack, specifically by entering the eyes and take over a body.  That's what you get with his third novel Ashes in Her Eyes.

The novel begins when crematorium worker Stephanie Garris accidentally gets ashes of a killer into her eyes after they spill out of an urn she was carrying to a different place.  It is after that where there are three different stories intertwined into one: Becky Lowen and her friends worrying about Stephanie/Michael Demner killing her, Stephanie's husband Ryan worrying about Stephanie's sudden change in habits such as smoking and drinking, and Michael's attempt to escape the cremated world by taking over Stephanie's body and mind.  The take over is gradual, which lends itself as far as developing the story and suspense factor.  Along the way, there are also some gruesome murders, which are told in a fair amount of detail, as well as the fraying emotions of both Becky and Ryan.  The end of the book is not lacking in excitement, as the frantic moments add to an already intense read.

Ashes in Her Eyes has an interesting plot that is carried out quite well, despite the silliness of the premise of ashes taking over someone's body.  Then again, logic has to be thrown out the window for horror books.  The characters are fairly well developed, though when Becky's boyfriend got smashed into pieces, I wasn't shedding any tears for they guy.  And the novel has one of the best one liners after he bites the dust: "God-Damn, Becky, your boyfriend stinks.  I think he shit himself on impact."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Semi-Annual Relocation Talk

The following is some fantasy talk.  All arguments are encouraged, so as long as it stays on the subject at hand.

As a hockey fan in the Midwest, I feel sad knowing that there isn't an NHL team in Kansas City.  There was one (Scouts) that completely bombed in the mid-70's.  There have also been teams in the lower leagues (IHL's Blades, CHL's Mavericks, etc.) but too often, the lack of advertising locally makes it difficult to really get behind those teams.  So, what makes me think that Kansas City deserves an NHL team now?  Besides a new arena, some good advertising savvy and a marketable star would be good starts.  The latter is obviously dependent on the city getting a team.  To that end, I'd like to extend an invitation to the Atlanta Thrashers to make their home here should they decide to move.  Now, whoever owns the team is likely going to make that decision in a few years, but for the sake of argument, let's say that I decided to buy the team and move it to Kansas City.  Now, how to sell the city on the team?  Let's start with...

*Every team needs a star to promote, and the Thrashers have a good one in Dustin Byfuglien.  Recently signed to a new deal that keeps him for five more years, it's likely that if the Thrashers do move in a year or two, Byfuglien is coming along, and even though he's not on the level of Sidney Crosby, he's been the most marketable player in Atlanta.  A similar marketing campaign surrounding Byfuglien would work in Kansas City.

*Atlanta has had trouble attracting either shot at the NHL.  Atlanta also has the notoriety of not being such a great sports city.  Even with the two year stint as an NHL city, Kansas City has had a reputation as a good sports city, particularly when it comes to the NFL's Chiefs.  Though the hockey team would have to compete with the Chiefs for the first part of the season, they wouldn't have much in the way of competition for fans, unlike Atlanta, where the NBA's Hawks take up the second half of the season, and the Hawks are preennial playoff contenders now.

*It would likely reignite a Kansas City/St. Louis rivalry that has grown stagnant in recent years, with the "haves" and "have nots" in both baseball and football.  Plus, the likelyhood is that the Nashville Predators would move to the Southeast Division to accommodate the move, which means the Kansas City team would have rivalries with other Midwest teams in the Blackhawks and Red Wings.  Rivalries make everything interesting, and Atlanta hasn't had much in the way of a rivalry.

Odds are that for as long as Gary Bettman is in charge, the Thrashers are going to be pressured into staying there.  However, the bottom line is the bottom line, and the Thrashers are not drawing.  There is also talk about possible moves to places like Winnipeg and Portland, OR.  However, Kansas City has everything in place to make it a reality should a team decide to relocate.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend of Hockey

Last weekend was dubbed "Hockey Weekend in America" by the powers that name these kind of weekends, and certainly, it was worth the name.  Today will be mostly about the Heritage Classic, but before getting into that, here's what happened over the weekend:

*Taylor Hall notched his first NHL hat trick in an Oilers victory over the Thrashers, who are clearly needing offense and a healthy Tobias Enstrom.

*Todd Bertuzzi scored the shootout winner in Detroit's victory over Minnesota.  It was his 1,000th game in the NHL, which is proof that he's moved on from the near-career killer in 2004 (Those who follow the Canucks know what I'm talking about).

*Even though the Islanders want to shed the sympathy label (as evidenced by the 2/11 brawl vs. the Penguins), there's no way that I can do that.  John Tavares will be good, Matt Moulson is proving that he is indeed, a 30 goal scorer, and don't look now, but Michael Grabner is making the Florida Panthers look stupid for putting him on waivers before the season.  And yes, I do know Grabner was traded from Vancouver before that, but what were the odds of him breaking the top two lines?  I'll be dealing with that in detail another time.

Now, to the entrée of the weekend, the Heritage Classic.  Except for the ice conditions, which were as such that the Zamboni couldn't be on there, for fear of breaking the surface, it was everything that I would have hoped for.  A spectacle in and out of McMahon Stadium, it was well received, and Flames fans went home happy, too, as the Flames shut out the Montreal Canadiens 4-0.  So, what can make this game better?  How about having it in either December or January?   Granted, the weather was cold enough to make it work, but February is a little too close to playoff contention time.  As for the ice issue, if the Zamboni couldn't be on the ice, why not have some of the players who were willing to clear the ice do so?  It would really add to the atmosphere, and it was worth is to see the likes of Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky do that when the Heritage Classic was in Edmonton in 2003.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Swap Meet

The "Huh?" moment of the 2010-2011 NHL season happened Friday night into Saturday morning, when the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche pulled off the surprise trade of the season.  Going to the Blues were Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk while the Avs received Erik Johnson and Jay McClement.  For two teams that are on the outside looking in, and with playoff hopes looking bleaker by the minute from injuries to key players (Jaroslav Halak for the Blues and Matt Duchene for the Avalanche), they both believe that a shakeup will do them good.  Now, before getting into the nuts and bolts of the trade, it's 1-0 Blues after the games last night, as the Blues got 2 goals from Stewart in a 9-3 win over Anaheim while the Avs were shut out by the Sharks 4-0.  Obviously, one game does not define a trade, but one wonders why either team would really want to make this trade.

First, a look at each of the players.  Stewart was coming off of a 28 goal season for the Avs last year, and was well on his way to 30 goals this season before a fight injury cost him a few games.  Since coming back, he had only scored 2 goals before the trade.  Last year was the first really good season for Stewart, who has been rather enigmatic, to say the least.  Shattenkirk is in his first pro season, and although he has put up decent numbers, he is also deemed expendable in the sense that the Avs have some young talent on the blue line that are waiting to be called up, and seemingly, Shattenkirk isn't going to be a superstar.  McClement is a dependable third-line player that you know what you're going to get day in and day out.  Johnson is the former 1st overall pick in 2006 who had missed a season due to injury, and was on the US Olympic team in 2010.  However, he has not put up the numbers expected of him in a Blues uniform, and given that Alex Pietrangelo is looking to take the top spot on the blue line, maybe it was time for Johnson to find his game elsewhere.

Now, for the questions to be asked.  Why would the Avalanche give up 30-goal potential in Stewart, even though he isn't always guaranteed to do so with the effort he puts up?  Is Johnson really an upgrade over Shattenkirk?  How exactly does the trade affect the futures of the coaches, since Joe Sacco is being rumored to be out the door in Colorado, and Davis Payne is likely on a short leash after the year's expectations have fallen short?  The questions will all likely be answered by the end of the year.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Nightmare is Over...

At long last, the nightmare is over!  Yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs finally (FINALLY!) traded away defenseman Tomas Kaberle.  For some time now, the Maple Leafs had wanted to trade him, but due to the no-trade clause and/or the lack of finding a good deal, have not been able to do so.  Now, Kaberle is a Boston Bruin in a trade that sees the Leafs get Joe Colborne and two draft picks.  What does this do for both teams?  Boston gets a puck moving defenseman who will relieve Zdeno Chara of some of the offensive responsibilities, as well as a player that can offer some credibility to the blue line.  The Leafs get to stockpile draft picks for either trade bait (as they have been known in the past to do) or to pick players that can help them down the road.  Colborne is another prospect that figures into the Leafs' rebuilding process and also fits the need for a center, something they tried to address last offseason when they inquired about (wait for it) Marc Savard.

Now that the nightmare is over, Kaberle is Boston's problem at the end of the season, and given that they have cleared some space in trading away Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik, it's conceivable that Kaberle could be signed by the Bruins when he does hit free agency after the season.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wheelin' and Dealin'

Today marks ten days until the NHL deadline, and already, some big deals have gone down.  One of the sellers in the market is the Ottawa Senators, who have, in a matter of days, traded away Mike Fisher (Nashville), Chris Kelly (Boston), and Jarko Ruutu (Anaheim).  Also selling, despite being six points out of the playoff race as of this morning is the Toronto Maple Leafs, trading away Francois Beauchemin (Anaheim) and Kris Versteeg (Philadelphia), with the ever-eternal Tomas Kaberle trade rumors hanging over their heads.  Now, Toronto is obviously trying to right a few wrongs from the previous regime that traded away prospects and draft picks left and right, something that began with the Dion Phaneuf trade last year.  All of that will be rendered moot if either Phil Kessel gets traded before the deadline or Tyler Seguin and whoever becomes the pick Boston has this year turn out to be superstars.  Who else could be selling?  Well, the New York Islanders are in a seemingly eternal rebuilding mode, and have already traded away Dwayne Rolosson to Tampa Bay.  Potentially on the trading block?  Milan Jurcina would be good for a team who needs blue line depth, and well, that's about it, since the Isles are mostly youth.

Need goaltending?  Tomas Vokoun could be on the market.  Florida doesn't look like a contender, and unless they feel that they can make a run, Vokoun is a trade candidate.  After all, he is in his walk year, and Jakob Markstrom is waiting to take over the goaltending reins.  Even though Craig Anderson is having an off year, he's another player to look for.  Colorado is fading fast in the playoff race, and now, without Matt Duchene, Colorado's playoff hopes are all but gone this year.

Edmonton isn't making the playoffs this year, but you already know that.  So, who could be on the trade block?  Dustin Penner could help a team, as he is the leading goal scorer on the team.  30 goals is the norm for him in a season, but he was woefully miscast as a first option on offense.  If he's healthy, Ales Hemsky could be traded, and he could be a contributor for a team in need of offense.  The key word: if.  In a perfect world, the Oilers would be able to trade Nikolai Khabibulin and get out from under the contract that looks bad in hindsight.  However, it's not as easy as it sounds, as Khabibulin is 38, and has been inconsistent since winning the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004.

Ten more days to go, and speculation as to who will be going is already running wild.  Better fire up the coffee machine because it will be a long one.

UPDATE: Craig Anderson was traded to Ottawa for Brian Elliot.  I figured Anderson would be traded, but not to a non-contender.  I call this one a push.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Almost Here...Again

This Sunday will be the second outdoor game that the NHL has held this year, this time being in Canada.  The participants are the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames and will be held at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.  As of this writing, I do not have the weather report for Calgary on Sunday night, so please, don't ask.  However, the jerseys that each team will be wearing this game have been revealed (for some time).  Without further ado, here are the looks that each team will be sporting:

As you can see, the Canadiens are wearing essentially the same jersey, with the notable difference being in the numbers, in which the outline butts up against the numbering, as opposed to the current jerseys, which sees the red outline separated by some white before getting to the numbers.  Montreal could have broken out any number of jerseys from its Centennial anniversary, and it would have been a marked improvement and at least, a A for effort.  Calgary's jersey is an updated version of the Calgary Tigers team that challenged for the Stanley Cup in the 1920's.  Now, for all intents and purposes, let's just say that Ronald McDonald was blown to pieces on this jersey and the jokes will write themselves.  I don't know about you, but McDonalds should look into the Flames jersey as inspiration should they ever get into the hockey jersey business.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Peter the Great

Yesterday marked the end of Peter Forsberg's NHL career, as he officially announced his retirement after a comeback that lasted two games.  Like all of the other times that he contemplated retirement, it was an injury that made the decision for him.  However, all of the injuries that he incurred over the years could not keep him from a likely Hall of Fame induction down the road.

A first round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1991, he was a part of the now-infamous trade to Quebec (you know, the Eric Lindros trade).  He gained fame in 1994 as he netted the gold medal shootout winner in the 1994 Olympic Games for Sweden, a feat that was commemorated on a postage stamp in Sweden.  His first NHL season was in the lockout shortened year of 1995 and saw him win the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year.  The following year, he won his first Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche (ex-Quebec Nordiques) and gain recognition in subsequent years for playing with everything he had.  That style of play would cost him the latter half of the 2001 playoff run that saw the Avs win another Stanley Cup and the entire 2001-02 regular season.  He returned to the team for the playoff run and had the Avs even made the Stanley Cup Finals that year, he would have almost certainly taken home the Conn Smythe Trophy.  The 2002-03 season saw him take home the Hart Trophy as the MVP, but not the Pearson Trophy (MVP as voted by the players), as fellow Swede Markus Naslund took that honor.  After the lockout of 2004-05, he signed with the Flyers and play with them for a year and a half before being dealt to Nashville prior to the deadline in 2007.  He returned to the Avs the following season, but injuries made him half the player he was in his prime. His latest comeback this season lasted two games and didn't have the impact that he wanted, thus the retirement.

Forsberg was the second banana to Joe Sakic in the Quebec/Colorado franchise, but he could have easily been the superstar everywhere else.  His aggressive style of play, combined with a scorer's touch around the net, were a perfect compliment to Sakic's wrist shot, and combined, they gave other teams fits with two scoring lines capable of scoring at will.  Is Forsberg a Hall of Famer?  I'd say so because he had the ability to dominate the game at will, as evidenced by his 2002 playoff run.  Injuries played a factor in him not reaching the ceiling that he could have (sounds familiar for Lindros), but winning two Stanley Cups should push him into the Hall of Fame.

Monday, February 14, 2011

One Year Old? Already?

Today is the day when people overspend on things with hearts on them just to make their significant others happy, but today is hardly about that for me.  Today marks the one year anniversary of this blog that you may or may not be reading on a regular basis.  So, what is there to write about on the day that this blog started?  How about something that went under the radar over the weekend in the midst of the beer review week and Friday Night Metal: the Islanders and Penguins Fight Night on Friday.

The entire Islanders/Pens fight began in earnest in the previous meeting between the two teams, which you will recall included a goalie fight that saw Brent Johnson knock out Rick DiPietro, resulting in DiPietro being out of action for 4-6 weeks.  Fast forward to Friday, and the Islanders had it in for the Penguins.  The primary targets?  Maxime Talbot and Johnson, and the primary participants in the brawl were Trevor Gillies, Matt Martin, Michael Haley, and Eric Godard, oh, and Talbot and Johnson were also involved.  The final damage saw both teams amass 346 penalty minutes, 10 ejections, and both teams with benches resembling ghost towns.  Gillies, Martin, and Godard all received suspensions for their roles in the fight, and the Islanders were also fined.  Now, looking at that game and the Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens fight on Wednesday, there are two things that separate the two:  first, the Isles were clearly there to give the Penguins payback for the DiPietro injury, and had their enforcers out there to do such things, as Gillies' shift times amounted to about 16 seconds for six times on the ice.  The Bruins and Canadiens have some recent history, too, only it wasn't premeditated like the Islanders' plan was; the Wednesday game had about half of the penalty minutes, and only when the game was almost over was blood shed.

I'm not excusing either incident, but one can clearly see intent when it comes to the Friday night game, as opposed to the Wednesday night game.  I'm not surprised the NHL acted quickly on the Isles game as opposed to the Bruins game, but I would have hoped for just a little more action taken on that game, namely the Gillies hit on Eric Tangradi that ignited the third period brawl.  I would have added five more games to the ten that Gillies received, and Haley should have gotten something for the fight with Johnson.  The Islanders have been out of the playoff race for some time, now they have reached a new low with Friday night's game, something that Isles fans should be embarassed about.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Guy de Lombard

The last beer of the six from last weekend tries to capitalize on the Monty Python name, entitled the Monty Python Holy Grail Ale, from the Black Sheep Brewery Company.  The best way to describe my feelings on this beer?  Ric Flair...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

McSorley the Traveller

Today is a special two for one deal, as there will be two separate things that will be written about today: today's beer and the Death Angel experience.  First, the beer: McSorley's Irish Black Lager.  Normally, I would like something that has the look of a strong beer.  However, McSorley's doesn't offer enough of a punch for me to really go back to it often.  For a lager though, it's definitely worth the shot.

As for the Death Angel experience, it was good, save for a few of the asshats that had too much to drink (namely, the shirtless guy).  Given the number of bands on the bill, the show began at 7:30.  I only caught part of the Vanlade set, as the Hammerlord interview cut into the time.  If there was any rust from nine months of not doing in person interviews, it didn't show...for the most part.  And the Hammerlord set proved that the band is worth the press that they get locally.  The national support acts were alright, but nothing really special, though.  To be fair, I only really had two objectives, and they were accomplished by the end of the Hammerlord set.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Portland Brew

From the state of Oregon, the land of many great brews, comes the Bridgeport Kingpin beer.  The double ale is a solid tasting brew that isn't on the level of another Oregon brew in the Rogue Dead Guy Ale, but more than holds its own compared to other beers in the United States.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Korea's Less Taste

Number three in the weekend purge is a Korean beer called Hite.  For an import, I was quite disappointed in this one, as it tasted way too similar to Bud Light or any other mass produced American beer.  It's best as a one try and done kind of deal, as it's not really worth having more than one.

Bedlam in Boston

Clean up, with credit going to AP for the photo
I'm taking a short break from the drink reviews to post the events of last night in Boston.  The event in question is the Montreal Canadiens versus the Boston Bruins, an original six rivalry that experienced a sudden explosion in more ways than one.  Yes, the final score will read that Boston won the game 8-6, but it's more than just the offense for both teams that came to life.  The first signs of the big explosion happened at the end of the first period, where the two teams had some shoving around the net.  Everything began to unravel in the midst of a goal scoring frenzy that had the announcer not even finish all of the scoring until after the last goal in that flurry...which just so happened after the first free-for-all that included a goalie fight between Tim Thomas and Carey Price.  Neither one got hurt, which is good, but you could tell that the two got into it just to feel included in the game (because everyone that saw the game knows that they weren't doing much to stop the scoring onslaught).  The big to-do happened with about a minute left in the game which saw all of the following happen: David Krejci leaving with an injury (in a fight he shouldn't have gotten into, as coach Claude Julien was mouthing when Krejci was going off the ice), PK Subban leaving the ice (mercifully) after being targeted by the likes of Brad Marchand and Shawn Thornton, Travis Moen beating Andrew Ference within an inch of his life, Tom Pyatt getting bloodied, Jaroslav Spacek getting it handed to him, and a grand total of 11 skaters left to finish the game (5 for Boston, 6 for Montreal).

The game itself is exactly what the league has been missing: a bitter rivalry that has its fans into the game, regardless of outcome.  Not since the Red Wings/Avalanche rivalry in the late 90's has a rivalry been worth every penny.  The Penguins/Capitals rivalry is dependent on the Crosby/Ovechkin rivalry, meaning that it's the superstars that have to carry the day, a fact evident by the Penguins missing Crosby and Malkin.  The Bruins and Canadiens reignited a rivalry last night, and it looks like the flames will be fanned even further if the two meet in the playoffs, if not sooner.  No superstars necessary for this rivalry, just good old fashioned hatred for one another.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Apple Mills and Apple Sauce

Continuing the theme of drinks, today is a trip to the apple cider mill, or more specifically, the hard cider mill.  Today's drink is the Hornsby's Hard Crisp Apple Cider.  As you likely figure, finding a good hard cider in the Midwest is a difficult thing to do, especially one that offers flavor.  Hornsby's Crisp Apple offers some flavor, and is relatively easy to drink.  It's one of the best in the random six draw from last weekend.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Genesis of...

I teased it yesterday, and today is the delivery date for what I have decided to do for the one year anniversary of this blog.  This week starts the talk  Yes, that alcoholic beverage that comes in many forms.  Today will be all about the Fuel Cafe, the coffee flavored stout made by the Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, WI (incidentally, I got the location right, unlike Ron Killings on WWE TV last night).  The ABV is 5.93 percent, which is relatively low for a stout.  As for how it was overall, the smell was distinctly of the coffee kind, as was the taste.  However, when drinking, the stout went down a little too easy for what it was supposed to be, and if you're a stout lover, normal stout beer is meant to be sipped, not chugged.  Other than that, the beer was relatively good and I would try it again if it was put in front of me.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Another Vamp!

Today was going to be the start of something special, since this week is the one year anniversary of this blog being created.  However, that will have to wait until tomorrow, since I finished a book and the review is demanded out of it.

Today's book review is Necroscope II: Vamphyri, which is another well-written piece by Brian Lumley.  Having read the first book in the Necroscope series, I had high expectations for the second book.  The story behind the second book involves the series' hero Harry Keogh, who was killed in the physical sense at the end of the first book.  However, the incorporeal version of him lives on in the Mobius Continuum and soon, he learns of a new threat in England in the guise of Yulian Bodescu, who becomes a Vamphyri.  However, that's just one of the threats he has to deal with, as we find out that Ivan Gerenko is wanting power within the Russian E-Branch, and will do just about anything to get it.

Like the first book, Vamphyri has a lot of backstory on the characters, especially Yulian and Thibor Ferenczy's role in turning him into one of them.  The horrors in which the deaths and transformations occur within the book are not for the faint of heart, though, so this is not light reading nor is it for the faint of heart.  Lumley is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, and after reading the first two books in the Necroscope series, it becomes evident why.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Out of the Snow

Fresh from digging out of the blizzard that put everything to a standstill on Tuesday, it dawned on me that the one year anniversary of this blog is fast approaching.  So, what is it that I should do for the next week?  Well, there is a movie that I have seen that I have yet to write about, and a book that I'm nearing the finish and I hope to finish it in time to start reading another book (a toss-up between World War Z, which I've started on a few pages, and Ashes in Her Eyes, the third Alan Spencer novel that was released not too long ago).  Decisions, decisions...

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Week for Fighting

In the last two days, there has been reason to call this week the Fighters' Week.  On the heels of what was a notable All-Star Game, there has now been some notable fights, namely the goalie fight that saw Brent Johnson of the Pittsburgh Penguins level the New York Islanders' Rick DiPietro with a left (above).  Now, for the even worse news for Islanders fans: DiPietro is now out for 4-6 weeks due to injuries suffered in the fight. Again, I ask, can the Islanders ever catch a break?  And how's this for starting a game: three fights in the first four seconds of last night's Dallas Stars/Boston Bruins game.  Participating in the fights: Steve Ott, Krys Barch, and Brian Suterhby of the Dallas Stars and Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, and Adam MacQuaid of the Bruins.  The week isn't over, and the Canucks and Blackhawks are playing each other tonight...hmmm....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Birthday Mashed Potatoes

Since today is the birthday of this author, one would expect a more lively picture to go along with this piece.  However, how exactly do I make an exciting picture when I share a birthday with the author of this celebration:

Yes, today also marks Tiger Williams' birthday.  A known fighter who has the all time record for most penalty minutes, Williams is best known for the stick riding goal celebration after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game.  And did you notice something weird about the jersey I have on in the picture?  Yes sir, that is my Holy Grail of jerseys, otherwise known as the Islanders' "Fisherman" jersey.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Back to the Rink with You!

Today begins the run to the playoffs in the NHL, and since I'm snowed in today, there's some time to talk about a few things.  First, the idea of having so many teams still in the hunt for the playoffs, which exclude the New York Islanders, New Jersey, Toronto, Ottawa, and Edmonton.  And as you likely figured, the Western Conference is one big struggle for the last playoffs spots.  All the trade talk will begin as the deadline nears.  And on the jersey front, the Tampa Bay Lightning will be sporting new jerseys next season, as well as a new logo.

Going with a blue and white motif, as well as a simplified Lightning logo, there are a few things I'd like to say about this makeover: first, the logo is alright, and getting rid of the unnecessary shadowing on the lightning bolt is a good start.  Second thing is that the blue as the home jersey idea is long overdue.  However, I would have liked for the black to remain as part of the color scheme in some capacity.  The lace collar is being overdone nowadays, which does set this jersey back to a degree.  Still, it's worth the makeover and who knows, maybe this jersey will be associated with Steven Stamkos as the previous design was for Vincent Lecavalier.

And one other thing: the Holy Grail of jerseys is finally in my hands.  Pics will be forthcoming.