Tuesday, January 31, 2012

AHL Madness

The All-Star Weekend wasn't necessarily limited to the NHL, as its minor league system American Hockey League had its All-Star weekend festivities in Atlantic City, NJ.  The West swept both the Skills Competition and the game itself, with the latter going into a shootout.  The weekend also saw four new inductees into the AHL Hall of Fame: coach Joe Crozier, Jack Gordon, who excelled as a player, coach, and manager, John Stevens, who also excelled as a player and coach, and is currently on the Los Angeles Kings coaching staff, and Zellio Toppazzini, a great player in the league for a long time.  As for players participating in the AHL All-Star Weekend, it was a mix of players on their way up and those who for one reason or another, never stuck in the NHL.  Whether it is former first rounders who needed refining such as Thomas Hickey and Zack Kassian, or AHL lifers such as Darren Haydar, or players who could never stick in the NHL such as Krys Kolanos and Yann Danis, the AHL All-Star Weekend provides a nice mix for fans and even team scouts who just might be at the game to see who could get the next call-up.  While it's not nearly the glamorous spectacle that its NHL big brother is, but the AHL All-Star weekend is definitely a nice compliment to the NHL version and provided that you can get the game on television, something to satisfy the hockey void until the next regular season NHL game.

Monday, January 30, 2012

No-Vi? No Problem.

All-Star Weekend wrapped up with Team Chara taking the game 12-9, and Marian Gaborik was named the MVP of the game.  The weekend certainly didn't miss Alexander Ovechkin, who opted out of the festivities, citing his three game suspension for leaving his feet for a hit on Zbynek Michalek a week ago.  The Breakaway Challenge saw Patrick Kane pull a Superman impersonation, Corey Perry almost pull a Ned Braden, and Carey Price play goaltender with his back turned to the shooter and "Tebowing," though not both at once.  The weekend was obviously about one player: Daniel Alfredsson, who managed to be the third hardest shot in the competition (Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber are not getting dethroned anytime soon), and even net a couple of goals in the All-Star Game.  How much did the weekend mean to fans?  Well, all of the Senators got standing ovations, with Alfredsson getting the loudest cheers, anyone wearing a Maple Leafs sweater got booed mercilessly, and Zdeno Chara, Marian Hossa, and Brian Elliott, all former Senators, got cheers that equaled those of the current Senators.  The 2013 game will be in Columbus, and given the state of the Blue Jackets, the city will have a lot of ground to make up if it even wants to have the success that Ottawa did.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Got Skills?

With the All-Star Game today, yesterday was a nice time for all of the participants in the game, as well as the rookies chosen to participate in skills competition.  A quick rundown of the results sees Carl Hagelin of the New York Rangers win the Fastest Skater competition, Patrick Kane win the Breakaway competition, Jamie Benn win the Accurate Shooter competition, Zdeno Chara break a record en route to winning the Hardest Shot competition (though no plexiglass was broken), and Steven Stamkos win the Breakaway Elimination challenge.  Team Alfredsson took the overall competition, but will the same hold for today's game?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Deschutes Double

Earlier this month, Deschutes Brewery made inroads into Missouri, which made this writer very happy.  The primary beers that will be sold are the Mirror Pond Ale and the Black Butte Porter, both very good at a reasonable price (depending on where you get them).  Today, the beer review will focus on two of the Deschutes products that are available for a limited time (seasonal).  The first beer you see is the Hop Henge IPA.  At 8.5% ABV, it is one of the better IPAs around, but unlike the Boulevard Double Wide, is only available for the first third of the year, which is the only reason why it's not closer to the top of the IPA list.

From the Deschutes Reserve series comes The Abyss, and rather than try to explain what it's about, I will let the Deschutes folks explain this one:

A deep, dark Imperial Stout, The Abyss has almost immeasurable depth and complexity. Hints of molasses, licorice and other alluring flavors make it something not just to quaff, but contemplate.

As for the great "drink it now or let it age" debate, we stand clearly on the fence. Distinct and delicious on release, the flavors meld and fuse into an entirely different pleasure a year on.

With an ABV of 11%, the Abyss is guaranteed to be a beer that is best enjoyed slowly.  The aroma from the beer is one of the best, and every sip and sniff is clearly one that is worth enjoying right to the very end.

Let's Get it On!

Last night, Zdeno Chara and Daniel Alfredsson picked their teams, and to the surprise of no one, all of the Senators are on one side and all of the Maple Leafs are on another (care to guess who's on what side?)  There were a few shockers in the draft, such as Pavel Datsyuk being the first guy picked, but it is hard to argue with success, which was what Chara went with.  Chara did pick Evgeni Malkin, who I thought should have been the first player picked, right after Datsyuk and Tim Thomas (big shock).  Alfredsson's first three picks?  Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, and Jonathan Quick.  The first two were practical no-brainers, and Quick has been the best goaltender in the Western Conference.  Chara already had Joffrey Lupul on his team as an alternate captain, so to complete the Leafs, he picked Phil Kessel (8th) and Dion Phaneuf (13th).  Milan Michalek completed the Senators contigent with Alfredsson's 12th pick.  This year's fat kid that got picked last?  Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks, and like Kessel last year, Couture got a nice haul, as in money for charity and a new car.  Maybe we get more of this from him:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Carter Watch

The Jeff Carter Watch is officially on.  According to Yahoo, the article cites sources familiar with the Columbus Blue Jackets that Carter is on the trading block.  The same article also cites the sources that team president Mike Priest and general manager Scott Howson could be retained after the season.  Now, according to Michael Arace at Blue Jackets Xtra, fans are planning a protest on Saturday in front of Nationwide Arena, which would put it directly in the middle of All-Star weekend.  The timing of this protest aside, this move is clearly an indication that there is still a fan base in Columbus that cares about the hockey team, even with the rumors of superstar Rick Nash being on the block.  Now, Carter being on the block is not entirely unexpected, but the idea of the Blue Jackets wanting to trade Carter months after acquiring him speaks to the decision-making of the Blue Jackets front office, which is to say not very well at all.  As for whether the protest will work or not, if you're a Blue Jackets fan, you certainly hope for the best...just not with John Ferguson, Jr (more rumors are circling around about him possibly being named to a spot in the Blue Jackets front office).

All-Star Weekend

The time has finally come for the All-Star Weekend festivities in Ottawa.  Voting in the first six players had a bit of an Ontario feel (more specifically, a hometown feel), and some selections raised some eyebrows.  Tonight, the fantasy draft begins, as captains Daniel Alfredsson and Zdeno Chara, with help from alternate captains Henrik Lundqvist and Joffrey Lupul, will pick their teams.  The rookies that are participating in the festivities will be divided into two teams of six, and one of the rookies will decide who goes where after round 15.  All goaltenders have to have been picked by round 10 (sorry folks, Carey Price is not going to be the last one picked, despite the fact that it would be well deserved), and defensemen by round 15.  So, who will be picked last?  I'm going on a limb and will say Dennis Wideman.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Geno's Place

Yesterday afternoon, Evgeni Malkin scored the game winning goal in overtime to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Washington Capitals 4-3.  However, it wasn't the goal that make me take notice, as the video evidence will show:

Notice his moves before passing off the puck to a teammate?  Rarely do I have a loss for words on a hockey play, but Malkin's ability just to keep the play alive in Washington's zone before finding the open man elicited a "Wow!" from this blogger.  If Malkin wins the Hart Trophy at the end of this year, I will happily point to this moment as the one that defines his season, and that's not even including the fact that he's been an integral part of Pittsburgh's push for a playoff spot.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eye Test

Ever wonder why ESPN gets blasted for their (lack of) hockey coverage?  Well, one column writer for the ESPN website gives New York Islanders announcers Howie Rose and Butch Goring some ammunition when responding to the snub of John Tavares in a recent article about the best 25 players under the age of 25.  Who does the list include and who does it exclude (besides Tavares)?  Well, ahead of Tavares would be Patrik Berglund, Bryan Little, and Sergei Kostitsyn.  Not on the list?  Tyler Seguin, Matt Duchene, Jamie Benn, and Jeff Skinner.  Now, the stats this "sports columist" uses are those that the conventional sports fan wouldn't even begin to use, ignoring the ever accurate "eyeball test."  Tavares is currently 12th in points IN THE LEAGUE!  Yes, the entire NHL, despite playing for a piss poor Islanders team that has seen Rick DiPietro suffer yet another season ending injury (if you're playing Rick DiPietro injury BINGO, it was a sports hernia).  Benn has 42 points, Seguin 40, Skinner 26, and Duchene 24, with Skinner and Duchene having missed time due to injury.  As for the guys put on the list?  Kostitsyn has 26 points, Little has 22, and Berglund has 18.  Now, how this "writer" somehow has Kostitsyn, Little, and Berglund on the list even with the points stat is beyond even the most casual hockey fan.  Let's keep in mind that no Predators fan could name Kostitsyn as their first five on the "Name five Predators" question, Little is not even a cornerstone player on the Jets team, and Berglund is practically invisible to the casual Blues fan.

Now, the usual response to practically anything ESPN spouts off in terms of hockey is to take it with a grain of salt, which isn't all that hard to do.  However, not even watching the games is an inexcusable thing to do, especially when your area of expertise is sports.  I guess this is what happens when a network values World's Strongest Man competitions and stock car racing over a sport that provides more excitement than the two combined.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Clockwork Orange

Today's review is actually a double, as in both a movie and book review of the same thing.  As you can tell from the title, today is about A Clockwork Orange, a novel by Anthony Burgess that was later made into a movie by Stanley Kubrick.  The story behind A Clockwork Orange is that the main character Alex is telling his story of how he went from the de facto leader of a small gang to a proverbial sacrificial lamb for the Ludovico Technique and back to "normal."  The book actually has one more chapter added than what most American readers are used to, something that Burgess had in the beginning, but due to his American publisher's demands, had to cut the chapter out (the last one).  The novel paints a dark, unforgiving world that points out some social commentary.  The narration is in "Nadsat," a variation of Russian mixed with English, with influences from Cockney slang and the King James Bible.  After a while, the narration can get a little annoying, but it doesn't take away from the basic story, and one of the most endearing aspects of the novel is that it forces deep thought from the reader.  Many questions arise from the novel, many of them of the moral variety.

The movie stays mostly true to the novel, with a few exceptions.  Where the movie differs the most from the novel is that it becomes a little more of a dark comedy (e.g. the rape scene where Alex sings "Singing in the Rain" while doing so) and relies heavily on the use of color, particularly in Frank Alexander's residence.  The bright scenery in many respects clashes heavily with the overall message, which unintended or not, provides something for those who place great value on visual aspects while keeping the main story as the focus.  The movie is considered a cult classic for good reason: it portrays the novel as close to perfect as it can, and it helps that Malcom McDowell's portrayal of Alex ended up being perfect.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Meet Your Captains

The man you see to your left is Daniel Alfredsson and the man you see on your right is Zdeno Chara.  In the old format (both play in the Eastern Conference), both of them would have been candidates for the captaincy of one side.  In the new format for the All-Star Game instituted last year, both can lay claim to that role, as they were named to those roles for the game in Ottawa.  Who the alternate captains will be for those teams won't be answered for another day or two, but the captain dynamic presents some interesting calls for when they do pick their teams.

  • Chara is a former Senator, and Brian Elliott and Marian Hossa are also going to be playing in the game.  Throw in Dany Heatley, who could be in the game as an injury replacement (likely, since Minnesota Wild teammate Mikko Koivu will miss the game) and it could be one side with all of the ex-Senators.
  • Just because Dion Phaneuf or Phil Kessel were not named captain does not mean Chara won't have an opportunity to pick either one or Joffrey Lupul, or even all three.
  • Alfredsson is one of four current Senators on the roster.  What will  happen should any of those four have to face one another?
  • Does Chara pick any of the Vancouver Canucks players?  You know, for what happened in the Stanley Cup Finals last year...
  • Since a coin flip will determine who picks first, could it be possible that Tim Thomas plays for Alfredsson's side?  What about Jason Spezza on Chara's team?
  • Carey Price is in the pool (well, someone HAS to be there for Montreal this year), so what are the odds Chara picks him?
  • Who will be Mr. Irrelevant this year?
The NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft is a week from today, and while I won't be watching it (heavy metal night in the form of Testament, Anthrax, and Death Angel), it will be interesting to see what happens.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States, which means a handful of folks in the States will have the day off.  However, it's not about that, but rather the struggles in which blacks had to face just to be treated as equals, a struggle that still exists today.  So, to honor this day, today's post will be dedicated to the first black hockey player in the NHL.  Willie Eldon O'Ree made his debut with the Boston Bruins on January 18, 1958, and did so while 95% blind in the right eye, a fact he kept hidden for the majority of his playing career.  O'Ree would amass 4 goals and 10 assists in the NHL, all in 1961, and faced racism wherever he played, moreso in the United States than in Canada.  O'Ree's response to all of this?  In an article by John McGourty that was posted on NHL.com a few years back entitled O'Ree a hockey pioneer, O'Ree replied, "I just wanted to be a hockey player, and if they couldn't accept that fact, that was their problem, not mine."  The majority of his playing career would be in the WHL, mainly with teams in Los Angeles and San Diego, the latter of which he has received honors for his contributions within the city.  He has also received honors in his birthplace of Fredericton, NB, as well as Boston, where they honored him on the 50th anniversary of his debut, going as far as to have a special exhibit about him in the Sports Museum of New England, located in TD Garden.

O'Ree's career in the NHL wasn't special in terms of stats, but when you look at what he did for blacks in the NHL today, you can see that there is still a ways to go, but with guys like Jarome Iginla (a 500 goal scorer in his career), Georges Laraque (one of the most prominent enforcers in his playing days), and Grant Fuhr (a Hall of Famer) having made their marks in the NHL, there is no doubt that greatness knows no color or race in any walk of life, including hockey.

Friday, January 13, 2012

An Open Letter to the Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club

In light of last night's events surrounding the Montreal Canadiens and Mike Cammalleri, today's post has been hijacked by a disgruntled Montreal Canadiens fan (as played by this blog writer).  I know he has a lot to get off his chest, so without further ado, the floor is all his.

Dear Canadiens de Montreal,

I have been a fan of your hockey franchise long enough to remember the last time the team raised the Stanley Cup.  I was still a fan when the team left Patrick Roy to take a 9 goal beating, only to have him say under no uncertain terms that he played his last game for my beloved team.  I remained loyal when the team closed the fabled Montreal Forum for the new Molson Centre (now the Bell Centre) and I stayed true to the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge when the team suffered through its lean years in the time that followed the Roy trade.  Remember the time Saku Koivu returned to the ice after a battle with Burkitt's Lymphoma?  I was there.  The Bob Gainey GM years?  I stayed true to my allegiances, and even after the inexplicable firing of Canadien favorite Guy Carbonneau as head coach, I was still there.  The horrific Scott Gomez deal?  I had my hopes in the beginning that it would work out.  The 2010 playoffs should have been a sign that the Canadiens were on their way up again, but then came the trade of Jaroslav Halak in favor of a former first round pick that for all intents and purposes, is more content in rodeos than in the constant hustle and bustle of my fair city. Granted, Carey Price has ability, and certainly, he can carry a team for stretches, but even the best need a little help every now and then.  Re-signing a guy that had played three games in two seasons (Andrei Markov) is not a viable answer, and neither is signing a guy that recently had come off of surgery (Josh Gorges).  I even sat through the Jacques Martin error and the subsequent flap over hiring a non-Francais speaking coach in Randy Cunneyworth.

However, last night was the last straw.  Your team, and more specifically, the buffoon that you call a General Manager (no, I will not refer to him by his real name) traded away a player that cares about winning.  Yes, I was in attendance when I booed Mike Cammalleri, but you know what?  He owned up to that, saying in an interview a couple days ago that the Canadiens fans deserve a winner and have a right to boo when that doesn't happen.  What's more, Hal Gill and Josh Gorges didn't exactly disagree with Cammalleri's comments.  Need I remind you that they are the assistant captains of the team.  I guess what I am trying to say is that I am through with the Montreal Canadiens after this disaster and refuse to ever attend another Canadiens game.

Enclosed, you will find my season tickets for the Canadiens games for the rest of this season, my Canadiens flag, a puck that was autographed by P.K. Subban, and several other Canadiens memorabilia.  Until your organization starts to right the wrongs done in recent years (i.e. fire Pierre Gauthier), I will refuse to ever pay another coin to see your joke of a franchise ever again.


A Very Disgruntled Hockey Fan

P.S. I have a new favorite hockey team now.  Even though I cannot in good conscience root for the Calgary Flames (I have picked the Vancouver Canucks), I will buy a Flames jersey with Mike Cammalleri's number on the back in support of a player that gets it.  And if you want a transcript of this letter in French, go use Google Translator.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

All-Star Smackdown

Today, the rest of the players that will be participating in the All-Star Game in Ottawa were announced, and rather than make a complete rundown of who was named, I have decided, for the purposes of this blog, to highlight a few choices and the snubs.  First, the forwards, and one wonders if Alexander Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, and Corey Perry all got in based on name recognition.  Sure, Kane is having a decent year, but would you put him in over Jordan Eberle?  I wouldn't, and I certainly wouldn't put Ovechkin in over his teammate Niklas Backstrom, although Backstrom is dealing with concussion issues.  And Perry over Teemu Selanne?  This is clearly the most baffling decision of all, as Perry is having a rather pedestrian season while Selanne is not only the team leader in points, but also on the right side of the +/- ledger while Perry is a -11 (!).  On the blue line, I would argue that Kevin Bieksa should get in before Alexander Edler, but that is personal bias on my part.  As far as the goaltender portion, Carey Price is a puzzling pick, but when you have a team that reeks both on and off the ice, as the Canadiens do, I suppose this is one where you can make the argument against every team being represented.  Rookies?  Until I saw who got picked, I didn't think Cody Hodgson still qualified as a rookie, but if I did have my pick to replace him, I'd go with Nino Niederreiter, just so I can say two ex-Portland Winterhawks players are in the All-Star weekend.

Update: Now, we know why Perry will be representing the Ducks and not Selanne.  It's hard to fault Selanne for anything, and now, that includes lobbying for Perry to be the Ducks' representative.  Though Selanne was clearly the team's best player, the fact that he gave up his potential spot for a teammate further adds to the legacy that he will leave once his playing days are over.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Dash for Nash?

In the wake of the long overdue firing of coach Scott Arniel from the Blue Jackets, there are bound to be rumors of Rick Nash being traded.  Of course, before that can be settled, it is likely that the other shoe has to drop, that being General Manager Scott Howson getting fired.  For now, it seems that Nash will stay in Columbus, given his contract, but who could potentially step up and give the Blue Jackets fair market value for Nash should he waive his no-movement clause?  Looking at the contenders this year, logic says the Washington Capitals because not only would the Caps be able to provide at least one major piece that Columbus lacks (i.e. goaltending), but the Caps would also be pushing themselves into playoff contention (they are currently third in the Southeast Division).  Obviously, this is wishful thinking, but if Columbus is serious about getting back on the right track, there are a lot of moves that have to be made, and it begins with goaltending.  That is, after the team replaces its GM, of course.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ohio Blues

I was going to post something about the Columbus Blue Jackets' year-long struggles on Friday before news of a death in the metal community forced those plans to be scrapped.  Today, I can go forward with the piece, as the Blue Jackets lost (surprise!) last night to the Anaheim Ducks 7-4.  Steve Mason has been a sieve for the Blue Jackets, as he gave up four goals in the first period.  However, that's only part of the story, as the Blue Jackets lost 4-2 on the last day of 2011 to the Washington Capitals.  That's not the story, as the post-game conference with coach Scott Arniel will show:

How he still has a job at this point in the season is beyond anyone who regularly follows the Blue Jackets.  How do you forget where you rank in any statistical category, let alone what you do in a 4-on-4?  There's no way to blame this moment of forgetfulness on anyone except the coach, and clearly, what the Blue Jackets need is a new voice, and that goes for the General Manager, as well.  The state of Ohio should be embarrassed for the way the Blue Jackets have been run, and there are rumors circulating that Rick Nash could be moved if he chooses to waive his no movement clause.  These are dark times in Ohio sports right now, and seemingly, the Blue Jackets are in the darkest part of the closet.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Milestone Saturday

Last night, two milestones were reached by two players who have spent their entire NHL careers with the same team.  Jarome Iginla netted his 500th goal in a victory for the Calgary Flames and Shane Doan netted his first NHL hat trick in a Phoenix Coyotes win.

Iginla was originally a first round pick of the Dallas Stars in 1995, but never played a game for them, as he was traded to Calgary in the Joe Nieuwendyk deal.  He would make his NHL debut in the Flames' playoff run in 1996 and his regular season debut the following season.  Through all of the failures, Iginla was the one constant for the Flames, so it should come as no surprise that he was the man in charge when the Flames made their improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004.  500 goals and a Lester B. Pearson Trophy (in 2002) later, Iginla is almost certainly headed to the Hall of Fame.  The only question is whether he is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Doan was a first round pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 1995 and played his first season with the team when they played their last game in Winnipeg.  The following year, he would go with the team to Phoenix, and though he hasn't put up the numbers that Iginla has, Doan became a reliable player for the Coyotes and like Iginla, was named captain of the team, an honor that both players still hold with their respective teams.  It is hard to believe that Doan, a prerennial 30 goal scorer, has never had a hat trick until last night.

Both players have been the rock of their respective franchises, and now, both are tied not just by draft year and their contributions to their respective cities, but by what they have done to help their teams win.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ducks for Sale?

Everyone knows that the Anaheim Ducks are in the cellar when it comes to the Western Conference standings, and if the Columbus Blue Jackets weren't in the same conference, the Ducks would be in contention for the first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.  Recent rumblings about a Duck fire sale have brought out the usual names (Bobby Ryan) and some surprising names (Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry).  The only untouchables, it seems?  Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, and Cam Fowler.

Now, what does this have to do with the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators?  Just imagine the possibilities.  For the Canucks, Getzlaf would not make any sense, since the Canucks don't need a center, and Perry would be fighting for time on the wing.  So, what could the Canucks possibly need that the Ducks would be able to provide?  An offensive force on the blue line, which is exactly what Lubomir Visnovsky is, when healthy.  I doubt the Canucks would want to swing that deal, since he's 35 years old and has a history of injury problems.  However, he can be what Christian Ehrhoff was last year, and he can also take some of the pressure off Kevin Bieksa as an offensive producer.  Remember, the Canucks swung a deal for Maxim Lapierre last year, and he provided great play as a fourth line center (again, why trading for Getzlaf makes no sense).

The Senators have some talent in the pipeline, and given that they recently traded for Kyle Turris in exchange for David Rundblad, a trade that sees them giving up considerable young talent makes no sense.  However, the Sens do need secondary scoring and a goaltender, as the Sens cannot win in the playoffs with Craig Anderson and Alex Auld in net.  The Ducks have Jonas Hiller, but the price to get him is likely too high, and the Ducks don't have a lot of depth, meaning that secondary scoring is almost nonexistent.  What could the Senators use that the Ducks can provide?  Getzlaf, Perry, or Ryan would be nice, but the asking price would be far too high.  In the end, the Sens' scouting department is going to have to come up huge, as they still have holes to fill, and not enough movable assets to fill those holes.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Forever a Vision of Atlantis

I absolutely hate doing eulogies, but this one strikes at me a fair deal.  This morning, it was confirmed through the Visions of Atlantis official Facebook page that original female vocalist Nicole Bogner passed away.  She was the vocalist from the inception of the band until 2005, and it wasn't until the news of this passing as to why, as she had been battling a severe disease for some time.  Her legacy is the band, and the album that defined her vocal style was Eternal Endless Infinity, a 2002 release that still stands as one of the best symphonic metal releases in the last decade.  Heaven needed another beautiful voice, and now, they will have one in Bogner.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

An Army of All-Stars

As of 10:30 AM ET today, the six players that will play in the 2012 All-Star Game in Ottawa, ON were announced, and it should come as no surprise that four of those spots were Ottawa Senators.  Now, who was the leading vote-getter in all categories?  Would you be surprised if I told you that the player you see in the picture above got the most votes?  No, that's not Daniel Alfredsson or Jason Spezza in the picture, but Erik Karlsson.  Karlsson, along with Alfredsson, Spezza, Milan Michalek, Dion Phaneuf, and Tim Thomas, will be in the All-Star Game.  The only question remains is who will be captaining the two teams.  Smart money says Alfredsson and Phaneuf will get the honors, since it would play up to the Battle of Ontario rivalry between the Senators and Maple Leafs.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Winter Classic 2012

Yesterday, the New York Rangers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in the fifth annual Winter Classic at Citizens' Bank Ballpark.  Like every Winter Classic before it (with the exception of last year), this game lived up to its name, as the old-time hockey feel was evident throughout the game, even if the jerseys weren't old-time.  The Flyers had a chance to tie the game with 20 seconds to go on a penalty shot, but Henrik Lindqvist was up to the challenge, preserving a win for the Rangers.  Though I'm no fan of Eastern Conference bias, as the Winter Classic has been held in the Eastern time zone for all but one (Chicago in 2009), but the genuine excitement by fans and players alike still make this game a tradition that should be around for a long time.  And to throw in an entry for next year, I say Minnesota, with the Wild and Detroit Red Wings or Vancouver Canucks as the participants.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

One Last Chance to Shine

This is Dan Blackburn, a former first round pick of the New York Rangers, and he participated in the alumni game for the Rangers versus the Flyers yesterday.  Now, you're probably asking why Blackburn, who is 28 years old, is in a game where the players are traditionally in their 40's and possibly older.  Well, Blackburn was drafted in 2001, but was rushed to the NHL by the Rangers, who had obviously not learned from the New York Islanders' disastrous experiment with Rick DiPietro a year earlier.  Blackburn looked overmatched in his two years with the Rangers before various injury issues eventually forced him to retire in 2005 after bouncing around the minor leagues.  For Blackburn, though the Rangers came up on the short end, this was his one opportunity to relish what could have been, and clearly, his story is one good one among many at the alumni game.