Friday, August 31, 2012

Almost that Time Again!

Tomorrow begins the third annual Pucks and Rocks NHL season preview, and unlike the NHL, this preview is lockout-proof.  All the teams will be covered even if the lockout happens like the two sides are threatening, and it will be done in a way that I know.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


The 1966 movie Blow-Up is not what it seems.  Throughout the movie, there is a lot more than the 60's London Mod style and murder mystery.  Though the movie has Vanessa Redgrave and Sarah Miles as the headlining stars of the movie, the reality is that both only really have a quarter of screen time combined.  As for the real main lead, played by David Hemmings, he is a photographer that while developing pictures from a park, believes that he may have captured a murder.  Yet, for director Michelangelo Antonioni's part, he doesn't even begin to focus on the murder, but rather Hemmings' slow descent into a world where the line between reality and illusion gets blurred little by little.  The mimes at the beginning and end of the movie are a metaphor for the invisibility that Hemmings' character feels as he tries prodding at what really happened in the park.

Blow-Up is a deliberately paced movie that benefits from the soundtrack of Herbie Hancock and sounds of quiet during the park scenes.  If you pay attention, you may spot the Yardbirds playing during a scene, which means you get to see Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page (pre-Zeppelin).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Founders Dirty Bastard

The 2012-13 NHL season preview (lockout be damned!) will be starting this Saturday, and I will eventually get to doing a primer for both the Ontario Hockey League and the QMJHL, since they fall under the same Canadian Hockey League banner that the WHL does.  Today, however, I get to do a beer review.  The beer you see is a Founders Dirty Bastard, and as you can see, it has a dark color, which typifies a Scotch Ale brew.  The smell isn't particularly impressive, but the taste is superior.  It carries a generous 8.5% ABV, so tread carefully.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Training Camp in the WHL

Training camp for the Western Hockey League teams began this Wednesday, and there are many questions, the least of which involve who will stick in the NHL and who will be back for another season in the WHL.  For now, September 20 is a date to be circled, as the defending Ed Chynoweth champion Edmonton Oil Kings square off against the 2011 Ed Chynoweth winner Kootenay Ice.  The Portland Winterhawks open their season on September 21 against the I-5 rivals in the Seattle Thunderbirds.  They will be without Ty Rattie, Mac Carruth, Sven Baertschi, and Joe Morrow, as their WHL eligibility will have been exhausted.  2012 first round pick Derrick Pouliot will likely return to the team, since the Pittsburgh Penguins are stacked on the blue line, one that includes Morrow, and don't have to rush Pouliot.  Other opening night matchups on the 21st include Kamloops against Kelowna, the Regina Pats versus the Brandon Wheat Kings, Medicine Hat against Lethbridge, Swift Current versus Moose Jaw, Saskatoon against Prince Albert, Calgary and Red Deer squaring off, and the Victoria Royals versus the Vancouver Giants.  Prince George faces Everett and Spokane faces Tri-City on September 22 in their opening games.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Victoria Royals

The WHL two-a-days end with the newest team in the Victoria Royals.  They played their first season recently as a member of the British Columbia division of the Western Conference, and came to be when the team moved from Chilliwack, BC.  Originally called the Chilliwack Bruins, the team moved to Victoria last year and 233 goals and gave up a league leading 325 goals.  That lack of defense was exposed in a sweep at the hands of Kamloops in the opening round.  Because of the lack of history between the two franchises (Chilliwack came into the WHL as an expansion team in 2006), there are not many NHL players to have come through the Bruins/Royals.  The only players to have seen NHL time were Oscar Moller, Roman Horak, and Nick Holden, all of whom were on the Bruins.

Vancouver Giants

Today is the last two-a-day for the WHL preview, and it ends in British Columbia.  The Vancouver Giants are a member of the British Columbia division of the Western Conference and play in the Pacific Coliseum, the former home of the NHL's Canucks.  They scored 255 goals and gave up 234 goals, pretty standard numbers.  They were beaten by the Spokane Chiefs in the opening round in six games.  Montreal Canadiens prospect Brendan Gallagher led the team in scoring.  Despite having a fairly short history, the Giants have turned out some good NHL players including Evander Kane, Andrej Meszaros, and Milan Lucic.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tri-City Americans

The last of the United States teams in the WHL to be covered is the Tri-City Americans.  They play their home games in the town of Kennewick, WA, and are the regular season Western Conference champions.  They scored 281 goals, good for fourth in the WHL, and led the league with only 190 goals given up.  However, all of that went for naught, as they were swept in the Conference finals by bitter rival Portland Winterhawks.  Two of the five leading scorers in the WHL played for the Americans, as Brendan Shinnimin, a free-agent pickup of the Phoenix Coyotes and scoring leader of the league, and Adam Hughesman paced the team in scoring.  Among the players to have gone through the Tri-City system include Olaf Kolzig, Sheldon Souray, Stu Barnes, and Carey Price.

Swift Current Broncos

The Swift Current Broncos play their homes games in Swift Current, SK and are a member of the East Division of the Eastern Conference of the Western Hockey League.  Scoring 216 goals, the Broncos had the second lowest total in the conference and gave up the third highest total in the conference with 272.  As you might imagine, they missed the playoffs, but it was through no fault of Taylor Vause.  He paced the team with 83 points and was 30 points better than the next leading scorer on the team Coda Gordon, who is also a prospect of the Calgary Flames.  The Broncos are best known for the bus crash in 1986 that claimed the lives of four players, and their numbers are retired for that reason.  The team is also known for producing Hall of Famer (come October) Joe Sakic, Geoff Sanderson, Tiger Williams, and former Kansas City Blade Dody Wood.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spokane Chiefs

The Spokane Chiefs are the eastern most team in the United States division of the Western Conference.  They scored 257 goals and gave up 225 goals.  However, they were a tough out, taking the United States division champion Tri-City Americans to seven games in the Western Conference Semi-finals.  Brenden Kichton led the team in scoring and is a prospect of the New York Islanders.  Among the alumni to have made it to the NHL include Valeri Bure, Michael Grabner, and Travis Green.  The Chiefs have also has some notable alumni when it comes to coaches, as Butch Goring, Mike Babcock, and Don Nachbaur have led the team from behind the bench in its history.

Seattle Thunderbirds

Today's two-a-day WHL preview takes us to the Evergreen State.  The Seattle Thunderbirds are a member of the United States division of the Western Conference and play their home games in the Seattle suburb of Kent, WA.  They were one of two teams to miss the playoffs in the Western Conference, scoring a paltry 173 goals and giving up an alarming 292 goals.  Clearly, the Thunderbirds must shore up their defense, a reflection of the fact that they gave up a lot of shots.  Like Prince George, they did not have a single player break the top 120 in scoring, with Burke Gallimore finishing tied with Prince George's scoring leader Alex Forsberg.  Not even the best efforts of Colorado Avalanche prospect and goaltender Calvin Pickard could stop the bleeding.  Among the NHL players to have plied their trade in Seattle include Patrick Marleau, Ken Daneyko, and Brooks Laich.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Saskatoon Blades

The Saskatoon Blades are a member of the East Division of the Eastern Conference in the Western Hockey League, and play their home games in Saskatoon, SK.  They scored 268 goals and gave up 250 goals, good for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.  However, their playoffs were a short one, as they were swept by Medicine Hat in the opening round.  Matej Stransky was the team's leading scorer, and is a prospect in the Dallas Stars system.  Among the alumni to have played in the NHL include Wendel Clark, Corey Sarich, Mike Green, and Bernie Federko.  The Blades have also had a couple of players who went on to be coaches in the NHL in Todd McLellan and Dave Lewis.

Regina Pats

The oldest franchise in the WHL, the Regina Pats play in the East Division of the Eastern Conference and are based out of Regina, SK.  Scoring 230 goals and giving up 214 goals was good enough to make the playoffs, only to be ousted by Moose Jaw in the opening round 4-1.  Their leading scorer from a year ago was Jordan Weal, who finished fifth in the WHL and is a prospect in the Los Angeles Kings system.  Because of their lengthy history, there has been bound to be a few odd things to happen to the Pats, and certainly, crossover appeal is one of them.  Current Major League Baseball centerfielder Nyjer Morgan played 7 games in the 1999-2000 season, scoring two goals and amassing 20 PIM.  In addition, former right fielder Larry Walker tried out for the team as a goaltender at one point in the team's history.  That is not to say that the Pats don't have a history of turning out NHLers, as Brad Stuart, Barrett Jackman, Jordan Eberle, and the late Rick Rypien have all played in the NHL.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Red Deer Rebels

The Red Deer Rebels play in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference and are based out of Red Deer, AB.  They only gave up 231 goals, which is respectable, but the reason they missed the playoffs last season was because they registered a Conference worst 204 goals.  John Persson led the team in scoring with 58 points, and the team was clearly hurt by 2011 first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins sticking onto the Edmonton Oilers squad for a full season.  Besides Nugent-Hopkins, other NHL alumni include Cam Ward and Brandon Sutter.

Prince George Cougars

Today's two-a-day WHL preview takes us to two teams that didn't make the playoffs.  The first of them finished dead last in goals scored (166) and gave up 257 goals.  The Prince George Cougars play their home games in Prince George, BC and are a member of the British Columbia division in the Western Conference.  Want to know why they finished last?  Not a single Cougar finished in the top 120 in scoring, with Alex Forsberg leading the way with 40 points.  If Prince George wants to even sneak into the playoffs, they better find some offense, and fast.  Their history suggests that it won't happen right away, as most of their NHL alumni is known for defense.  Among the NHL players to have played in Prince George include Zdeno Chara, Dustin Byfuglien, and Dan Hamhuis.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Prince Albert Raiders

The Prince Albert Raiders play in Prince Albert, SK, and are a member of the East Division of the Eastern Conference.  They scored 219 goals, which was second to last in the Conference, and were scored upon 312 times, last in the Conference.  No wonder they missed the playoffs.  Justin Maylan led the team in scoring and Chicago Blackhawks draft pick Mark McNeill and Anthony Bardaro were not far behind.  The Raiders have had two first overall picks in the NHL Draft in Mike Modano (1988) and Chris Phillips (1996).  Other NHL alumni to have donned the Prince Albert jersey include Scott Hartnell, Nick Schultz, and the late Brad McCrimmon.

Portland Winterhawks

Today's two-a-day WHL preview takes us to familiar territory (for this scribe) and the Portland Winterhawks.  They led the WHL in goals scored with 328 goals and gave up 229 goals.  They finished second in the U.S. Division of the Western Conference, but found themselves in the WHL Finals once again, only to fall in seven games to the Edmonton Oil Kings.  Their scoring attack saw three players in the top 20, Ty Rattie (Blues), Sven Baertschi (Flames), and Brad Ross (Maple Leafs), and recent history has seen five players drafted in the first round in the past three NHL Drafts (Ryan Johansen, Nino Niederreiter, Baertschi, Joe Morrow, and Derrick Pouliot).  Among the NHL players to have called the Rose City home include Marian Hossa, Cam Neely, Adam Deadmarsh, and Paul Gaustad.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Moose Jaw Warriors

The WHL two-a-days brings us to Moose Jaw, SK and the Moose Jaw Warriors.  For as much history they have, they have never won a championship in their existence.  With 258 goals scored and giving up 213 goals, the Warriors fell short in five games to eventual champion Edmonton Oil Kings in the Conference Finals.  Midseason acquisitions Cam Braes and James Henry propelled the team to the spot and added to the numbers posted by Florida Panthers draft pick Quinton Howden (team scoring leader of all that played their entire season in Moose Jaw).  Among the alumni include Theoren Fleury, Ryan Smyth, and Kelly Buchberger.

Medicine Hat Tigers

I will be away this afternoon, so the second part of the two-a-days will be sometime this evening.  In the meantime, enjoy the Medicine Hat preview.

The Medicine Hat Tigers have had a pretty good history when it comes to their existence in the WHL.  Last season, they finished with 255 goals and only gave up 209.  However, their season came to an end in the Conference semi-finals in a sweep at the hands of the Moose Jaw Warriors.  Much of the scoring was spearheaded by the team's leading scorer Emerson Etem, who is likely ticketed for NHL duty with the Anaheim Ducks.  Alumni to have played in Medicine Hat include Trevor Linden, Tyler Ennis, Rob Niedermayer, and Darren Helm.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lethbridge Hurricanes

The Lethbridge Hurricanes play in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference.  They missed the playoffs, as they were second to last in the conference.  Scoring 225 goals was a respectable number, but giving up 292 was quite alarming, with only Prince Albert Raiders giving up more in the conference.  Brody Sutter led the team in scoring and is a prospect in the Carolina Hurricanes system.  Notable players to have come through the Hurricanes include Kris Versteeg, Brent Seabrook, and Jamie MacLennan.

Kootenay Ice

The Kootenay Ice play their home games in Cranbrook, BC and are a member of the Eastern Conference.  Yes, Kootenay is in British Columbia, yet the team is not in the British Columbia division, which if you remember is in the Western Conference.  How is this possible?  Cranbrook, which is in the Kootenay region of the Rockies, hence the name, is in the eastern most part of British Columbia, and to keep the conferences on even numbers, they were the odd team out.

As for the team, they squeaked into the playoffs, where they were a doormat to the eventual Ed Chynoweth (WHL trophy) champion Edmonton Oil Kings.  They gave up the third fewest goals with 201, but could barely manage any goals, with a paltry 222.  The leading scorer was Max Reinhart, a prospect of the Calgary Flames.  The next highest scorer?  His brother Sam, who will be returning to the team while Max is likely ticketed to Abbotsford in the AHL before eventually heading to the NHL.  As for alumni, Jarrett Stoll and Roman Polak are the most notable names to have donned a Kootenay Ice jersey.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kelowna Rockets

The Kelowna Rockets are a member of the British Columbia division in the Western Conference and were a middle of the road team, with a fairly even goal differential.  However, they finished sixth and were sacrificial lambs to Portland in the opening round of the playoffs.  Their leading goal scorer was Shane McColgan with 64 points.  In a powerful Western Conference that features Edmonton and Portland, Kelowna is far from a championship team.  Their history of NHL players is like a defenseman factory, with Duncan Keith, Josh Gorges, Alexander Edler, and Sheldon Souray going through Kelowna.  Also playing their junior hockey in Kelowna were Jamie Benn and Travis Moen.

Kamloops Blazers

The WHL preview two-a-days takes up to Kamloops, BC, where the Kamloops Blazers play.  They won the British Columbia Division in the Western Conference, but were eliminated in the Western Conference semi-finals by eventual Western Conference winners Portland Winterhawks.  Their leading scorer was Brendan Ranford, a Flyers draft pick.  Not far behind him was Colin Smith, taken by the Avalanche in this year's draft.  Also on the team was Tim Bozon, the son of Philippe Bozon, who had played in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues in the early 90's.  The Blazers aren't exactly lacking, as they gave the Winterhawks all they could handle in the Conference semis.  It is likely that Bozon will return to the team, as will Smith.  Notable players to come through the Blazers include Jarome Iginla, Shane Doan, Darryl Sydor, Scott Niedermayer, and Robyn Regehr.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Everett Silvertips

The Everett Silvertips are based out of Everett, WA and play in the Western Conference.  They are still a relatively young team, as they have only been around since 2003.  They were swept in the Western Conference quarters by the Tri-City Americans.  They scored the third fewest goals in the league, and their leading scorer was Josh Birkholz, a Florida Panther prospect.  He tied for 59th place, which should tell you all you need to know about the offensive woes.  As for why they made the playoffs, the only two teams below them: the Seattle Thunderbirds and Prince George Cougars...and the Western Conference has ten teams in which eight qualify.  Do the math.  On the plus side, Everett did produce their highest draft pick, as defenseman Ryan Murray went second overall in this year's draft.  Given the team's youthful existence, the only notable NHLers to come from Everett have been Leland Irving, who is expected to compete for a backup goaltender job in Calgary, and Peter Mueller, who is currently trying to resurrect his career in Florida after concussion issues have hindered his development.

Edmonton Oil Kings

Resuming the look at the 2012-13 WHL season, today's two-a-day begins with the defending champions of the WHL in the Edmonton Oil Kings.  They defeated the Portland Winterhawks in the finals to claim their spot in the Memorial Cup, which is all of the league champions plus the host city.  There, they would lose to the eventual Memorial Cup champion Shawinigan Cataractes.  The Oil Kings were second in the WHL in goals scored behind only the Winterhawks and second in goals against behind the Tri-City Americans.  Their leading scorer last year was Michael St. Croix, a New York Rangers prospect, and they also featured 2012 first round picks in Griffin Reinhart (Islanders) and Henrik Samuelsson (Coyotes).  The Oil Kings got a lot out of both ends, but they will lose Mark Pysyk to the Buffalo Sabres, since his eligibility is up.  Reinhart could also be lost if he makes it out of camp, but expect Samuelsson to return.


In a proactive move by the Montreal Canadiens, they have given Max Pacioretty a 6-year, $27 million extension.  You know by now that he was on the receiving end of a Zdeno Chara ride into the stanchion in the 2010-11 season.  This past season, he recovered to become a 30-goal scorer, something that only teammate Erik Cole did in Montreal.  Coincidentally, both are American born, and both were the beneficiary of good center play of David Desharnais.  The extension locks up a rising talent in Pacioretty, and with Carey Price also locked up for a few years, the Canadiens now focus on PK Subban, who is unsigned.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Calgary Hitmen

In an effort to get the WHL preview in before the start of the regular season, I will try to go two-a-day.  This morning, it was about the Brandon Wheat Kings.  Now, it is the Calgary Hitmen, who are also in the Eastern Conference of the WHL and were eliminated in the Conference quarters in five by the Brandon Wheat Kings.  They were the third ranked team in the conference and were led in scoring by Jimmy Bubnick, who is likely ticketed for AHL duty in the Winnipeg affiliate St. John's IceCaps.  Like the Wheat Kings, the Hitmen amassed 273 goals in the regular season.  However, they only gave up 221 goals, which isn't bad.  However, losing to the Wheat Kings, ranked sixth in the playoffs, was a big blow to a team with high aspirations.  This season, the team that has produced the likes of Karl Alzner, Ryan Getzlaf, and Andrew Ladd will be looking up at provincial rivals the Edmonton Oil Kings, as the Oil Kings will likely return some key pieces in Griffin Reinhart and Henrik Samuelsson.

Brandon Wheat Kings

Yesterday, I said I was going to give more coverage to the Western Hockey League, since that is where the Portland Winterhawks play, and today, I start delivering on that promise.  I won't know who will be on the teams until sometime in early October, since a few of the players drafted in the last year or so will either be returned to their teams from the NHL or stick with the big leagues, if only for a few days.  So, to that end, I will be giving a review of each team's last season and what they need to do to succeed.  Today, it is about the Brandon Wheat Kings, who play in Brandon, MB and have turned out players such as Jordin Tootoo, Ron Hextall, and Eric Fehr.

Last season, the Wheat Kings made it to the Eastern Conference semi-final, where they would be swept by eventual WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings.  Their leading scorer was captain Mark Stone, who will likely begin this coming season as a member of the Ottawa Senators.  As for playoff aspirations this year, the Wheat Kings last missed the playoffs in the 1999-2000 season, and offense shouldn't be a problem, as they were tied for second in the conference as far as goals for, trailing Edmonton and tied with the Calgary Hitmen.  One thing that the Wheat Kings will have to be better at is stopping pucks from getting into the net, as they were last among the Eastern Conference teams that made the playoffs last year.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Almost (WHL) Hockey Time!

In the midst of waiting for the NHL season to start and the labor situation (something I refuse to talk about until something actually happens, which I will know by September 15), I looked onto the Portland Winterhawks website and saw that the WHL season is at the end of this month.  I don't follow any of the Junior Leagues (outside of the Winterhawks, obviously), but since this is a hockey blog by nature, I will commit myself to expanding hockey knowledge outside of the NHL, and that begins with the WHL, since it is of relevance to location.  A Central Hockey League update will be in order...if I do decide to hit a Missouri Mavericks game this year, too...I hope.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Special Effects Genius

Ever wonder how E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Dune, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Alien get the accolades they get?  Some of that had to do with Carlo Rambaldi, who did special effects works on those movies.  He died today at the age of 86, and his legacy in Hollywood is one of bringing to life one of the most recognizable figures in the sci-fi genre.  His works also included the 1976 version of King Kong, Dario Argento's Deep Red, and the 1981 movie Possession (seriously, what the hell is that thing having sex with the main female lead?).  Long before CGI ruined just about every movie today, you had Rambaldi, who himself hated the idea of CGI and any other type of computer-animated effects.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Need a Bouwmeester?

It's been no secret that the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers need warm bodies on the blue line.  The Calgary Flames just might be the team to supply one to the lucky winner.  Jay Bouwmeester is reported to be on the trading block, and the Red Wings and Flyers are naturally on the top of the list.  The asking price is likely to be low, since Bouwmeester hasn't approached the offensive numbers he achieved in Florida, and Detroit has a lot of cap space and Philadelphia has traditionally spent to the cap.  Calgary is most likely looking to shed cap space, and Bouwmeester is the likeliest player to go, since the Flames picked up defensive liability Dennis Wideman.  What would Bouwmeester mean to either the Red Wings or Flyers?  For the Red Wings, Bouwmeester becomes the default number one defenseman who is currently the holder of the most consecutive games played, meaning he is durable, something the Red Wings would know from recently retired Nicklas Lidstrom.  The offensive numbers may never be there again, but Bouwmeester does offer a minute munching defenseman who you can put out there on the penalty kill.  For the Flyers, Bouwmeester is a warm body that could step in alongside more offensively minded Kimmo Timonen.  It will likely be a two team race...unless Calgary forgets their history of trading with Toronto, another team that needs defensemen.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wings Getting Clipped

SPOILER ALERT: If you've followed this blog at all, you know that the month of September is when I do my annual NHL season preview.  Today is going to cover one team and why I think they will miss the playoffs this coming season.  However, I will not list where they will finish until it is their time.  

The Detroit Red Wings are clearly a team in decline.  It all began with a first round exit at the hands of the Nashville Predators.  Soon, both Brad Stuart (San Jose) and Nicklas Lidstrom (retired) left the Wings with major holes on the blue line.  When free agency rolled around, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise spurned them for Minnesota and they weren't even thought of by Columbus in the Rick Nash sweepstakes.  And Jiri Hudler decided to take his act to Calgary.  So, who did Detroit manage to get to sign with them this off-season?  Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo, and Jonas Gustavsson.  Not exactly world-beating, is it?  All that has happened to the Red Wings in the past few months has me believing that this is the year the Red Wings will miss the playoffs.  The last time the Red Wings missed the playoffs?  Lidstrom wasn't even on the team.  That's right...the Red Wings never missed the playoffs when Lidstrom was playing in the NHL.  Why is missing the playoffs a real possibility for the Red Wings this coming season?  Let's count the ways...

  • Their most obvious hole is on the blue line, and when you think about who the number one defenseman could be, it could from any of the group that features Ian White, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Kronwall, and Kyle Quincey.  The two youngsters on the roster are Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith, and neither are ready to assume those duties right now.  Do you now see why they tried to get Ryan Suter?
  • Currently, their goaltending duo is Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson.  Howard has actually been good, but he has not raised his level of play to the elite level.  There is question as to whether he will ever be in that category.  He has also never led the Red Wings to the Conference Finals as a starter, and if you know your expectations from Red Wings fans, then you know that won't cut it.  Fair or not, Howard is going to be criticized until he can win when it counts the most.  Gustavsson failed to seize the starting role in Toronto, a team that is goaltender-starved.  Part of the reason he hasn't proven to be a reliable starter is due to injury, but when he has been healthy, he has dealt with bouts of inconsistency.
  • Yes, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg remain, but who will step up and score?  Hudler wasn't the most consistent player on the roster, but he was the closest that the Red Wings had to a goal scorer.  Samuelsson is in his second go-around, and certainly he has done well as a scoring threat.  However, he turns 36 this season and has had injury issues lately.  Tootoo will provide a little offense, but his real role is to stick up for teammates by dropping the gloves, something the Red Wings didn't do often for most of the last 20 years or so.  Gustav Nyquist, Darren Helm, and Justin Abdelkader will be among the group at forward that will be asked to shoulder a heavier load on offense.  The question is not whether they will be able to do it, but how soon they can do it.
  • The prospect pipeline hasn't exactly been great, largely because they've always drafted in the lower half of the NHL Draft.  The Red Wings have been patient with the prospects, which in turn, has given the team tremendous reason to believe they will succeed in the long run.  However, with the core of the team either gone or aging, it is time for the prospects to finally step up, and many of them remain largely unknown as far as whether they will play to potential.  Only Nyquist and Brendan Smith appear to be ready to contribute to the Red Wings this season.
In the Central Division, the Blues still have their two-headed goaltending monster and appear to be welcoming Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz to the team full time, the Predators still have Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber, and the Blackhawks still have their core intact.  Throw in Vancouver remaining well despite Ryan Kesler being out for the first two months of the season and the Roberto Luongo saga hanging over their heads and Minnesota getting better and tougher (you have to compliment the Parise and Suter signings somehow) in the Northwest, and the Ducks and Sharks looking to get back to prominence with largely unchanged rosters, not to mention the Kings retaining just about all of last year's team, and Detroit looks like they will possibly be on the outside looking in for next season's playoffs.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Skin-ing the Cat

Want to know just how serious the Carolina Hurricanes are about competing for the Stanley Cup in 2012-13?  If trading for and signing Jordan Staal to a 10 year extension (the same one he rejected as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins) and gambling $7 million that Alexander Semin will rediscover his scoring touch don't convince you, then maybe a 6-year extension for a guy currently on the squad will.  It's not Eric Staal, but Jeff Skinner.  A first round draft pick in 2010, he immediately became the Canes' second best player after Cam Ward and not only took home the Calder Trophy, but also became an All-Star his rookie year.  He would have made the All-Star team this past season had concussion issues not forced him to miss a few games.  In addition to Jordan Staal and Semin, the Hurricanes also gave extensions to Tim Gleason and Tuomo Ruutu prior to the trade deadline, which assured Skinner that the Hurricanes were willing to keep the pieces intact for a while.  Now, with Jordan Staal and Semin on board, it only seemed to be a matter of time before Skinner would sign an extension.  This newfound spending spree that the Hurricanes have been on is likely to pay off...if the blue line grows up.  They are still relatively young at that spot, and will give up opportunities.  Having the offensive firepower to compete just might help...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Help Wanted

It's been no secret that the Philadelphia Flyers have scoured the markets for a viable body on the blue line, trading for Luke Schenn, signing Shea Weber to an offer sheet, only for Nashville to match, and losing Matt Carle to Tampa Bay.  Now, news of Andrej Meszaros being out indefinitely after he tore his Achilles tendon increases the team's need for bodies at defense.  Remember, Chris Pronger is no sure bet to return and the prospects at the position are few and far in between.  Yes, PK Subban and John Carlson are on the market, but like Weber, they are restricted free agents, so Philadelphia has to rub rabbit's feet that the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals, respectively, don't match.  On the unrestricted market, Carlo Colaiacovo and Matt Gilroy are still there to be had.  I anticipate the Flyers making a move soon for a defenseman, but who that will be remains to be seen.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Today is an eventful day, as the Pro Football Hall of Fame will bring in six new members, including former Seattle Seahawks DT Cortez Kennedy.  Last night, though, the Cincinnati Reds had a hair raising evening, as not only did they win 3-0 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but long time team radio voice Marty Brennaman got his head shaved.  How did this happen?  Well, the Reds won 10 straight games, one condition that triggered the razors for him.  You see, Brennaman made a remark that if the Reds could win 10 straight games, he would shave his head.  That happened.  Upping the ante, he added that if the Cincinnati fans raised $20,000 for charity in a specific time frame, he would do it for the fans to see at the Great American Ballpark.  $50,000 later, it was time for Brennaman to pay up on Friday night, which coincided with not only his 70th birthday (it was last weekend, but a public celebration was held just before the shaving), but also a Reds win, which was their fourth straight (the 10 game winning streak was snapped Monday).  As you can see by the picture, the hair is gone, but will be put to good use, as it will go to charity.

Brennaman has been the voice of the Reds for a while, and while he isn't the only voice the Reds have had, as he and Joe Nuxhall were the voices when the Reds had their dynasty in the 1970's and their last World Series win in 1990.  Currently, he is still the radio announcer, but now is joined by his son Thom, who has been on television announcing baseball games.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

DiPietro Off of IR

Today is August 2, which means the hockey news is few and far between.  So, in scouring the internet for news, this bit of news came across the wire, as Rick DiPietro was taken off of Injured Reserve by the New York Islanders.  The man made of glass only played eight games last season, and likely faces an uphill battle for a starting role, as Evgeni Nabokov is firmly entrenched as the starter next season.  So, what was DiPietro's accomplishment last season?  In another injury filled season that saw him sit with a groin strain, sports hernia, and knee swelling (though not at the same time, but wouldn't be surprising if it did), he got injured in a practice in which he took a puck off the cage/mask combo that he had worn as a  result of a concussion from a fight with Brent Johnson in February 2011.  As for the over/under on number of games he will play this coming season, let's say 15, and take the under (this blog does not endorse gambling, so don't go to Vegas unless you're willing to lose money).