Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Playoff Update

It’s been another couple of days chock full of great games. Here’s the skinny…

Western Conference
1 Detroit vs. 8 Edmonton, series at 1-2: So a lot of people said that the first two games were a fluke…Edmonton had pushed to 2nd OT by sheer luck and won game two by even more luck. Well, eat that critics! Edmonton won last night at home in another 2 overtime game by a score of 4-3. It was a good win for them, although I don’t think they played as hard as they could have. I wonder what is going through the minds of the Detroit players…I mean they have to be in complete shock. With any luck, they will continue their stupor and lose the series…not that I’m biased or anything….

2 Dallas vs. 7 Colorado, series at 0-2: In a 5-4 OT nail biter, the Colorado Avalanche won game two of the best of seven series versus the Dallas Stars. After scoring 3 goals in the first period, the Avalanche and Jose Theodore allowed 4 goals by the Stars in the second period. In the third period, Brett Clark scored his second goal in his second career playoff game with 2:04 left in the period. In the first overtime, Jason Arnott of the Stars hit the post seconds before Joe Sakic scored the game winning goal on a shot from point by John-Michael Liles at 4:36. The series moves to Denver tonight for game three at 7:30 MST and can be seen on Altitude, OLN, and TSN.

3 Calgary vs. 6 Anaheim, series at 2-1: In a 5-2 contest last night, Calgary took the lead in the series as it moved to Anaheim. Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 27 shots while J.S. Giguere saved 19. In a game where 22 total penalties were called (12 for 27 minutes for the Flames and 10 for 23 minutes for the Ducks) special teams played an important role. Of the seven total goals scored, 5 (including both Anaheim goals) were scored on the power play. The series continues tomorrow in Anaheim.

4 Nashville vs. 5 San Jose, series at 1-2: San Jose took the lead in the series last night in a 4-1 win over the Predators at the HP Pavilion. Captain Patrick Marleau scored twice and goalie Vesa Toskala made 16 saves. Rookie Steve Bernier scored his first playoff goal late in the second which turned out to be the game winning goal. The series continues tomorrow in San Jose.

Eastern Conference
1 Ottawa vs. 8 Tampa Bay, series at 2-1: In a highly unimpressive game by the Tampa Bay Lightening, Ottawa took the lead in the series last night with an 8-4 win in Tampa Bay. The highlight of this game however came with 2:17 left in the final period. described the brawl best when they wrote “Heatley squared off in a fight with Nolan Pratt, and Chara locked up with Vincent Lecavalier. Ottawa's 6-foot-9 defenseman cocked his right arm and held it menacingly over Lecavalier, who was down on the ice, but restrained from throwing the big punch. The melee, sparked by Vaclav Varada's boarding penalty against Tampa Bay's Ruslan Fedotenko, capped a physical game that featured 139 penalty minutes - 79 for Tampa Bay - five fighting majors, and seven misconducts.” It was an interesting end to a rather boring end as it appeared that there were half a dozen players on each bench as the final minutes of the game ran through.

2 Carolina vs. 7 Montreal, series at 0-2: First of all, I find it interesting that one of the biggest trades this year, David Aebischer for Jose Theodore, left each team in the same place in their respective conferences with the same records in the playoffs. Moving on. In a 6-5 two overtime win over Carolina, Montreal heads home with the lead in the series. Huet made an astounding 41 saves while Gerber made 10 saves on 13 shots before being pulled and replaced by Ward who then made 20 saves on 23 shots. The series continues tonight in Montreal.

3 New Jersey vs. 6 New York Rangers, series at 0-2: Without Jaromir Jagr, who was out with an upper arm injury, the Rangers seemed to flounder in a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils. But defense may be the Rangers biggest problem. Of the 4 goals scored by New Jersey, two were short handed, one came on the power play and the last came at even strength. Those numbers are truly unacceptable for a team that wants to win the Stanley Cup. This series continues tonight and Rangers face the Devils at home in Madison Square Gardens.

4 Buffalo vs. 5 Philadelphia, series at 2-0: In a very convincing 8-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Buffalo Sabres took the game 2 of the series. I guess I can’t say this enough, for a team with so little playoff experience, the Sabres are playing some amazing hockey, while the Flyers are barely putting up a fight. This series continues tonight as the Sabres meet the Flyers in Philadelphia.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Playoff time!!

Well it was an amazing weekend of playoff hockey in the NHL. Four series (Detroit/Edmonton, Calgary/Anaheim, Nashville/San Jose, and Ottawa/Tampa Bay) started Friday night while the remaining four series (Dallas/Colorado, Carolina/Montreal, New Jersey/New York R, and Buffalo/Philadelphia) started on Saturday. Here’s the scoop incase you missed anything…

Western Conference
1 Detroit vs. 8 Edmonton, series tied 1-1: This series began on Friday with a 3-2 2 overtime win for Detroit. I have to admit I was so surprised to hear that a) Edmonton scored, b) the game went into two overtimes, and c) Edmonton scored. I thought Edmonton didn’t stand a snowflake’s chance in hell of at least making this series interesting, but they did it! The plot thickened on Sunday when Edmonton beat (yeah I said BEAT!) Detroit 4-2. Edmonton did an amazing job of clogging up the neutral zone and keeping the Red Wings from having too much puck possession time in the offensive end. Way to go Edmonton! They head to the third and fourth games in Edmonton, followed by games five and six (if necessary, hopefully!) in Detroit.

2 Dallas vs. 7 Colorado, series at 0-1: This series began on Saturday with a 5-2 win for Colorado. Five Avalanche players (Wolski, Hejduk, Blake, Clark, and Liles) scored five unanswered goals on 31 shots to win the first game. The Stars had 18 shots for their 2 goals. Jose Theodore let in 2 goals on 5 shots in the first period but looked solid throughout. Rookie Wojtek Wolski scored a goal and notched two assists in his first NHL playoff game giving him the most points out of any player on Saturday. The series continues in Dallas tonight at 7pm MST and can be seen on Altitude (for those of you in Denver), OLN, and TSN.

3 Calgary vs. 6 Anaheim, series tied 1-1: This series began on Friday with a 2-1 overtime win for Calgary. Miika Kiprusoff stayed true to form and allowed 1 goal on 34 shots. Anaheim came in at a disadvantage as their number one goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere sat out the game with a lower body injury. However, with the return of Giguere on Sunday, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks were able to pull out a 4-3 win over Calgary. They now head to Anaheim for games three and four, followed by a return to Calgary for games five and six (if necessary)

4 Nashville vs. 5 San Jose, series tied 1-1: This series began on Friday with a 4-3 win for Nashville. Despite the loss of their number one goalie, Tomas Vokoun, to a blood condition, the Predators were able to secure a convincing win with their 4 power play goals. Fill in goalie Chris Mason was able to keep super scorers Jonathan Cheechoo and Joe Thornton from netting any goals. In relevant Hockey in Colorado News, former DU Pioneer standout Matt Carle had an assist on the Sharks’ first goal of the game, also former CC rearguard Tom Preissing assisted on the Sharks’ second goal. The series continued on Sunday with a 3-0 Shark shutout. Vesa Toskala made 25 saves and Jonathan Cheechoo scored the game winning goal as well as assisted on the two other goals for the Sharks. The series continues in San Jose on Tuesday and Wednesday then returns to Nashville for games five and six (if necessary) Friday and Sunday.

Eastern Conference
1 Ottawa vs. 8 Tampa Bay, series tied 1-1: The defending Stanley Cup Champions Tampa Bay Lightening put in a disappointing performance in the first game of the series on Friday by allowing 4 goals, two power play, one short handed, and one empty net, in the third period to lose the game 1-4 to the Ottawa Senators. Despite the loss of their number goalie, Dominik Hasek to an injury sustained during the Olympics, Ottawa’s goalie, Ray Emery stood strong in net, only allowing a goal while the Senators were down 3 players to 5. On Sunday the Lightening looked like a new team. John Grahame, a Denver native, made 22 saves to keep the high scoring Senators to only one goal per period and the earn his first win in four playoff games. Tampa Bay’s strength was shown in their ability to score even strength goals; all four of their goals came at even strength.

2 Carolina vs. 7 Montreal, series at 0-1: In a surprising move by Montreal, Cristobal Huet received the nod to backstop the Canadiens in the first game of the playoffs. Why is this surprising considering Huet had a great season and put Jose Theodore to shame? Huet lost his last two starts for Montreal while David Aebischer had looked solid in net recently. At first, it looked like a bad move. At the 50 second mark of the game, Carolina scored. It would be their only goal of the game. Apparently, the move was not so surprising after all….Huet made 43 saves in the 6-1 Canadiens win over Carolina. The series continues tonight in Carolina, and then moves to Montreal for games three and four.

3 New Jersey vs. 6 New York Rangers, series at 1-0: In a 6-1 whipping of the New York Rangers, New Jersey scored an amazing and playoff-record, 5 power play goals. An amazing 16 penalties, for 43 minutes, were taken by the Rangers. Martin Brodeur made 29 saves on 30 shots while rookie Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves on 30 shots. Some of the biggest news from this game comes from Jaromir Jagr, who might miss the second game of the series due to an arm injury. While fore checking Scott Gomez, Jagr somehow hurt his arm and was helped to the dressing room. Still no word on whether he will play or not. The series continues tonight in New Jersey and can be viewed on OLN at 5pm EST.

4 Buffalo vs. 5 Philadelphia, series at 1-0: The big story here was that the Buffalo Sabres feature a young team with little to no playoff experience. Just to put it in perspective, the entire Sabres’ roster had a combined 295 playoff games, in comparison, the same amount that Philadelphia’s Peter Forsberg and Eric Desjardins had between them. However, after taking the Flyers into the second overtime, Daniel Briere tipped in Jochen Hecht’s centering pass for a 3-2 Sabres’ victory over the Flyers. This series continues tonight in Buffalo, and then moves for games three and four in Philadelphia on Wednesday and Friday.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Let's get ready to rumble...

Let’s take a look at the upcoming first round playoff match-up of the Colorado Avalanche and the Dallas Stars.

What Dallas has:
-Mike Modano. He is like a Stars playoff God…
-Jason Arnott. Second only to Mike Modano on the teams’ scoring list his year. He is only one point behind.
-Jere Lehtinen. He led the Stars in goals scored with 33. He’s a defenseman! What makes him even trickier is that he is solid in his own end as well.
-Sergei Zubov. He has decent seasons, but always kicks it up a notch (where would the world be without Emeril?) during the second season. In 142 playoff games, he has 101 points and a plus-30 rating. Did I mention he’s already won two Stanley Cups?

What Colorado has:
-Joe Sakic. Where Mike Modano is a Dallas’ playoff God, Joe Sakic is Colorado’s God. He’s Mr. Clutch for Colorado. He always comes through.
-Rob Blake. Hands down one of the best defensemen in the game. He can routinely shut down the top lines of every team. Plus, he is the top scoring defensemen for the Avs with 51 points.
-Jose Theodore. I don’t think I stand alone when I say that this guy could be the deal breaker here. He has looked solid in his last 5 games. Yes, he has only won one of those games, but much of that comes down to the rest of the team not supporting him as they should. I think he is highly motivated to make a comeback (but let’s be honest here, I’m probably pretty biased!).
-Alex Tanguay. Since his knee injury that had him out for 10 games, he has looked pretty good. This week off will have given him a chance to heal up some more and return to his game.
-Wojtek Wolski. I’m sure you’re saying to yourself, “Who?” I can’t wait to see this kid get some action. He spent the season in the OHL playing for the Brampton Battalion. However, he spent 9 games early in the season with the Avs. In those games, he scored 2 goals (both on the power play) had 4 assists, was a minus-5 and had 4 penalty minutes. Now you are really wondering why I (and really EVERY Avs fan is excited about this kid), so here goes. In 56 games with Brampton this season, he had 47 goals, and 81 assists for 128 points. The closest teammate had 72 points. He was plus-21, had 46 penalty minutes and 30 power play goals. Amazing…

Why Dallas Wins:
Dallas can win if they can get 3 or more goals in the game. In the four meetings between these teams this season, Dallas won three of those by scoring more than 3 goals. Their loss came in a 3-2 overtime loss. Also, Marty Turco has to stay strong in net. Of the 16 teams in the playoffs, only 3 teams have scored more goals this season than Colorado.

Why Colorado Wins:
Score, Score, Score. If the Avs can score, they can win. The one win that Jose Theodore has came from a 6-4 win over the Phoenix Coyotes. In the three losses and one overtime loss, the Avs scored 3 or less goals. So the same holds true for the Avs, if they can score 3 or more goals they can win.

What these games come down to:
Goaltending and defense. Bottomline. Theodore and Turco have to be strong but they are going to need help from their defensive corp.

Series starts tomorrow at 1pm MST. The first game will air on NBC. The following is the complete schedule:
April 22 - Sat - 1:00 Dallas Away American Airlines Center 950 AM NBC
April 24 - Mon - 7:00 Dallas Away American Airlines Center 710 AM Altitude
April 26 - Wed - 7:30 Dallas Home Pepsi Center 950 AM Altitude
April 28 - Fri - 8:00 Dallas Home Pepsi Center 950 AM Altitude
April 30 - Sun - 12:00 Dallas Away American Airlines Center 950 AM NBC
May 2 - Tue - TBD Dallas Home Pepsi Center 950 AM Altitude
May 4 - Thu - TBD Dallas Away American Airlines Center 950 AM Altitude

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Avs at Oilers 2-4, Kings at Sharks 4-0

Avs lost 4-2 last night to the Edmonton Oilers. This game was so incredibly boring I stopped watching it before the third period started and guess what? I didn’t miss much…The Avs play was lackluster and not up to par, but understandable. This game was a chance for the Avs to take their fate into their own hands. If they won, they would most likely play the Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs. I say most likely because Anaheim would have had to lose to Calgary for that scenario to work. If they lost, they would play the Dallas Stars. So which team would the Avs want to play? Definitely Dallas. With the way that the Flames kicked their butts earlier this week, you can bet that the Avs didn’t want to face that (and Miika Kiprusoff) anytime soon. Let’s not forget also, that Dallas’ strength this season came in the shootouts and sorry to burst their bubble, but there aren’t going to be any shootouts in the playoffs. I saw a graphic last night about how the points have changed since the addition of the shootout. Dallas would have 99 points rather than the 111 they actually have. The Avs would have 92 rather than the 95 that they actually have. That’s a pretty big difference for Dallas. I’ll come back to the playoff matches another day though.

Since the Avs game was so boring, I decided to watch the Kings/Sharks game. Again, I was highly disappointed in the play of the team I was rooting for, the Sharks that is. But again, I can understand that since this game didn’t matter in the scheme of the playoffs, there was no point in wasting energy. Also, last night was Luc Robitaille’s last game as an NHL player. I think a big part of the Shark’s loss was in deference to one of the games’ greatest scorers.

I can’t describe how excited I am that they playoffs are just around the corner. There is some very good hockey in the horizon and though I’m not quite sure how far the Avs will go, I know I will be watching hockey until the Stanley Cup is awarded!

Ps…Ryan Caldwell, former captain of the 2004 National Champions DU Pioneers played his first NHL game on April 15 for the New York Islanders. Congratulations! More on this later.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Time to play a little catch-up

Well, as sometimes happens, I got a little behind on my blogging…it was the weekend, so sue me. But really, let’s talk hockey.

The Avs lost a nail biter on Thursday to Calgary by a score of 2 to nothing. The biggest problem the Avs had was that they couldn’t score! Miika Kiprusoff was (yes I am going to say it, at the risk of sounding like Peter McNab…) amazing. He was just too good! The Avs had some quality scoring chances but just couldn’t finish the job with Kiprusoff throwing off their game. It was a really a hard fought game by both teams. Congrats to Calgary for winning their first divisional title since 1992. Jose was amazing in his own right though. Considering he let in one goal on 26 shots, I think we should all be happy with his performance. This one just came down to how amazingly Kiprusoff played and how the Avs were unable to capitalize on good scoring chances.

The Avs lost in OT to Vancouver on Saturday by a score of 3-4. While I didn’t get to see the game (yet, I taped it while I went to church), I did see the goal that won the game in overtime for the Canucks. It seems that Jose has a problem with stopping goals on the glove side. I think that he always tends to just move his shoulder up in the hopes of blocking the shots rather than trying to catch them. But maybe this has worked for him in the past. Plus what do I know about being a goalie anyway?

In other Colorado hockey news, the Colorado Eagles of the CHL won in game 7 of the Northern Conference Semi-finals against the Oklahoma City Blazers by a score of 6-2. The Eagles play in Loveland, CO at the Budweiser Events Center. They won the CHL championship last season and looked to be in a good position to do the same this year. This is their third year in Colorado. I have had the pleasure of attending an Eagles game and it was so much fun. I recommend it for anyone looking for a relatively inexpensive way to experience great hockey. Good luck to the Eagles!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Avs vs. Phoenix 6-4

Wow, that was a crazy game…by the numbers:
-6 Avalanche goals in 29 minutes by 6 different Avalanche players
-6 penalties on the Avs in the first period, 9 total for the game
-5 penalties on the Coyotes in the first period, 10 total for the game
-21 saves in Jose’s first start and win with the Avalanche
-26 saves in the 29 minutes that Sauve played before he was pulled in the second period
-8 saves in the 31 minutes that Leneveu played
-2 5-on-3 opportunities for each team in the first period
-3 goals allowed by Jose in the final 8 minutes of the game

All in all, a good game by the Avs. The third period was almost painful to watch though…it just seemed like the team lost some steam. They looked tired. Jose looked unfocused. But a win is a win…now the Avs head off to Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver to finish off the regular season. Good luck to them!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Caps at Bruins 2-1

The Avs had yesterday off, so I decided to catch a game on OLN. I am so happy that OLN has been covering games all season because it has allowed me to see teams and players that the Avs don’t generally play. Last night, I watched the Washington Capitals beat the Boston Bruins in overtime 2-1. Here are my thoughts on the game and it’s milestones:

-Mark Stuart, slated to be the captain of the Colorado College tigers for the 2005-2006 season but opted to leave early, scored his first NHL goal which turned out to be the only Bruins goal. He played his first NHL game about a month ago on March 11. In the 14 games he has played for the Bruins, he has assisted on one goal, giving him 2 career points, he is -1, has 10 penalty minutes, and is 12.5% on the percentage of shots that have resulted in goals.

-This was the first time I have had the opportunity to see Alexander Ovechkin play. I have to say…I was completely amazed! He works so hard on the ice, he makes BIG hits and he is able to puck handle like you wouldn’t believe! Don’t believe me? Watch this: Alexander the Great!

-Speaking of Alexander the Great, he became the sixth rookie to score 100 points in a season. He has scored 49 goals, and had 51 assists. If he can score another goal in the final four games of the season, he will become only the second rookie to score 50 goals in a season. The only rookie to achieve this feat thus far? Teemu Selanne, he had 76 goals and 132 points for Winnipeg in the 1992-1993

-It was obvious to me from watching this game, why these two teams have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. They made soooooooo many mistakes that I am used to seeing in College hockey. They whole game felt like I was watching a college game. There was no spark, no fighting, it was just kind of dead. I hope that the Capitals are able to turn around this off-season and find ways to be successful because I would love to see Alex Ovechkin do well.

-After the game, during the post-game interviews, Alex was discussing what the Capitals are playing for and was given a shaving cream pie to the face by team captain Jeff Halpern. Alex laughed for a couple seconds, then just kept on going like nothing was going on. Someone gave him a towel and he wiped most of it from his face, but the poor interviewer was trying to keep it together but couldn’t. It was absolutely hilarious! See the incident for yourself here: Talk about a pie in the Face!

-for more great stuff on Alex Ovechkin, go here: Ovechkin Fans


Monday, April 10, 2006

Avs vs. Minnesota Wild 2-5

This one hurt...a lot! But I think that the Avs lost not because of a lack of effort or bad goaltending (which I will get to later) but because Manny Fernandez was on fire! Marion Gaborik didn't do too bad either as he got his eighth career hat trick. Here's what went down:

-the Avs came out with a lot of energy and played really well.
-about 4 1/2 minutes in, Gaborik scored the first goal of evening. 42 seconds later, Dupuis scored the second goal. Peter Budaj who started his 13th consecutive game for the Avs was pulled. Jose Theodore, who hadn't played since January 31st, had dressed as the backup goalie for the evening and at this point was put in net in Budaj's place.
-The Avs were able to kill a 4 minute double minor to Karlis Skrastins and kept the Wild from scoring again in the first.
-At this point, it was completely possible for the Avs to make a comeback. Fernandez had made 17 saves in the first period and seemed to be solid, but there was still the chance that the Avs could get some kind of offense going.
-The period saw a solid period for both teams. Fernandez made 14 saves to deny the Avs a goal, while Theodore made 7, allowing one goal in the second on a power play.
-The third period was perhaps the best period for the Avs. They finally managed to solve Fernandez and scored twice, once on the power play, once at even strength. However, the Wild made some opportunistic plays and were able to score twice as well.

All in all, it was a great game. The Avs played pretty well, but were denied by a hot goaltender focused on earning the $13 million he just resigned for and a 30th win in this season. Jose Theodore look pretty solid in net for a guy who hasn't seen any action since January 31st. In the beginning, it was obvious he was still a little shaky but as the game went on, he gained some confidence and played well. I think this was a great step in his recovery and hope he will play amazingly on Tuesday against the Coyotes. I am fairly sure he will start on Tuesday as it was announced he would start then before this evenings' game.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Avs vs. St. Louis 4-2

A much better game for the Avs! Still a little penalty problem (6 penalties for 12 minutes) but much better than lately. Things I was impressed with:

-the team didn't leave Budaj out to dry...One of St. Louis goals was on a power play, the other at even strength. They helped a lot more than they have been lately. I think that contributed a lot to the win.

-scoring came from three of the four lines! Super Joe got the first goal for the Avs in the second period (assisted by Brisebois of all people!), Ian Laperriere scored early in the third (Sauer [WHAT!?!?!] and McLean assisted), Dan Hinote and his new line of Cody McCormick and Brad Richardson scored, and last but by no means least, Milan Hejduk just touch the puck that went in for the empty net goal with Joe and Skrastins getting assists. AMAZING!!!! This is the way the team should ALWAYS(!!!!) play.

-it seemed like they team didn't work as hard as they could have in the first and they saw St. Louis score on the PP. The second period was a little better, then in the third, the whole team just exploded. It was great!

-the game was broadcast on NBC. I really don't like the way NBC broadcasts games. I know, they paid an exorbitant amount of money for the rights to show the NHL on NBC but still...It just bugs me...

In other Avs news...If all goes well, Propecia Joe will be starting on Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes. Coach Q said Jose would dress Tomorrow vs. Minnesota as the backup, and as long as Jose keeps going in the right direction, he will be the starting goaltender!!!! So excited to finally see him play! I know I make fun of him a lot but I really like him and hope that he will be able to do well for the Avs.


Frozen Four (last one I promise)

The national championship game was tonight...Wisconsin won by a score of 2-1 against Boston College. Not a lot to say about this game. Here are my thoughts:
-Robbie Earl should really look into the Diving team at Wisconsin. He is such an excellent diver that I feel quite confident in his abilities to rank high amongst college divers. But seriously, I have never seen a player dive as much as the Spawn of Satan does...He is my very most despised college hockey player, which is really saying something because that list also includes (in no particular order) Brett Sterling, Brian Salcido, Chris Porter, Ryan Potulny, Danny Irmen, Phil Kessel, etc, etc.

-Cory Schnieder was amazing in goal! This was to be expected. He made 37 saves on 39 shots! He is so completely underrated.

-Wisconsin became the first team in NCAA history to have both its Men's and Women's hockey teams win the national championship in division I in the same year. What's even cookier than that is that Adam and Nicki Burish (siblings) were on both those teams...That's probably a first too, siblings winning a national championship in the same year for different teams.

-Wisconsin also became the first team to ever win a national championship without leaving their home state throughout the NCAA tournament. I wonder how the Athletic director paid to have that...

-Chris Collins (and several other members of the BC team) cried on camera after they lost. They were completely classy though, they actually sat there through all of Wisconsin's celebrating (not surprising that they made BC wait so long as they are completely devoid of class or sportsmanship) so that they could shake hands with Wisconsin and salute the 250 BC Fans (out of 17,000 fans at the game, so much for a neutral site. Out of those 250 fans, 50 of them were members of the BC pep band).

-Mike Eaves (a native of DENVER, CO!!!), coach for Wisconsin became the 4th person to win a national championship as both a player and as a coach. Let's not forget that Coach Gwozdecky did that only better. He was the 1st person to EVER win a national championship title as a player, assistant coach, and as a head coach, then he did a second year in a row. Fun facts: Coach Gwozdecky and Mike Eaves played for Wisconsin in the 1976-1977 season when they won the national championship together. The next season, Coach Eaves played with Mark Johnson at Wisconsin, Mark (a native of Minneapolis, MN) stayed for two seasons, then went on to play in the 1980 Olympic games winning a gold medal with the Miracle on Ice team. Mark is now the coach for the Women's hockey team, at you guessed it, Wisconsin!

-Two of Mike Eaves' sons, Ben (currently playing for the Ottawa Senators) and Patrick (an assistant video manager for BC) played hockey for Boston College.


Hobey Baker (cont)

MATT CARLE WON THE HOBEY BAKER!!!!!!!!!! It was amazing. I went with a friend to The Lazy Dog, the only place in Denver actually showing the ceremony. It turned out that the whole hockey team had planned an outing and had reserved a room for DU fans. The show was 30 minutes long. It had spots on each of the three finalists. They actually got Brian Elliott to do a moosecall, followed by his father doing one...absolutely hilarious! When they announced Matt's name a great cheer came from every person in the room! People were clapping and cheering right up until he started to make his speech, then you could have heard a pin drop in that room! He made the classiest speech I have ever heard. He congratulated the other two finalists and wished them well, thanked the team, his parents and family, and everybody else. It was just so nice. A great honor for him and the University of Denver. I don't think I have ever seen Coach Gwozdecky so happy! It was just so amazing...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Hobey Baker

Today is the announcement of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Winner. The field has been narrowed to just three players, Matt Carle of DU, Chris Collins of BC, and Brian Elliott of Wisconsin. My pick is Matt Carle. That shouldn’t be surprise to anyone, but here’s why:
Matt Carle a junior Defenseman and Co-Captain for DU played in 39 games, scored 11 goals and assisted on 42 goals for 53 points. He committed 29 penalties for 58 minutes. What’s more, in 112 career games, he scored 29 career goals, had 94 career assists for 123 career points! Chris Collins is a senior Forward and Assistant Captain for BC. He played in 41 games, scored 34 goals, and assisted on 29 goals for 63 points. He committed 13 penalties for 26. In 161 career games, he scored 63 goals and had 59 assists for 122 career points. I’ve already enumerated all of the stats of Brian Elliott and so I won’t repeat myself. I will just say that he is the leader in all goaltending stats.
Okay, so why did I choose Matt Carle (besides my obvious bias)? He had a record season! 53 points for a defensemen is so insane…he joined DU’s century club this year as a junior defensemen which is pretty much unheard of. He is second on the all-time points by a defensemen in a single season, first in assists by a defensemen in a single season, third in career points by a defensemen, and second in lifetime assists by a defensemen. Imagine where he would be if he had stayed for his senior season! This year he was named Player of the Year and Defensemen of the Year by the WCHA, INCH, and USCHO. Also, he maintained a 3.3 grade point average (not an easy task at DU!) and was an all-around good guy.
Some (well one) drawback to Matt Carle is that his team didn’t make it to the NCAA tournament. That’s it. There aren’t any other drawbacks. He’s the whole package. Let’s hope that he wins it!! GOOD LUCK MATT!!!!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Frozen Four (cont)

Boy was I wrong on the NoDak/BC game…here’s what I forgot, Parise has lots of playoff experience, but he has this terrible habit of choking in HUGE games…I’m not quite sure how I forgot that after how he played last year in the National Championship game against DU.

So needless to say, NoDak lost 5-6 to BC. It was a crazy game. I got to watch the first period at Spanky’s (the local hockey, I mean sports bar next to campus) during my lunch break. In the first period alone, BC scored 3 unanswered goals. In the second, NoDak was finally able to score, but so did BC. Anyways, long story short, Parise choked, none of the NoDak big names scored, BC’s Chris Collins (one of the Hobey Hat Trick finalists) posted a hat trick, and the biggest surprise perhaps is that Cory Schneider allowed 5 goals. That’s more than he’s allowed in his last 5 games (!).

As for the Wisco/Maine game, a 5-2 loss for Maine (no surprise there!) I was pleasantly surprised by the play of Ben Bishop, the freshman goalie for Maine. At 6’7” he’s a pretty imposing guy and he definitely uses his size to his advantage. The game started with two deflected goals against both teams, oddly enough, both goals were deflected into the net by each teams own defensemen. This was followed by two unanswered goals by Wisco, one shorthanded, and another breakaway. Maine seemed to lose their steam. They got a little back in the third when they were able to score again. But Wisco took control short after. Here’s why I hate Wisconsin: they hate absolutely NO CLASS!!! The Spawn of Satan (aka Robbie Earl) scored an empty net goal with less than two minutes left in the game when Wisco was ahead 4-2 and celebrated like it was a game winner. He just rubbed that shit it like salt on a wound, what an ASSHOLE!!!! If I ever saw him on the street I would definitely kick the shit out of him…it would be so worth being arrested for assault. Another thing, it’s just not right for hockey fans to dance around liked five year olds and not see as single thing wrong with that. Yeah, I’m all for having fun at hockey games, but the entire arena shouldn’t make fools of themselves and hockey fans in general. But I suppose what else are you gonna do in Wisconsin?

My favorite thing seen in the Bradley Center: Sure seeing fat men wearing only paint is thrilling but ever better is seeing a kid with a sign that reads: Lunch at Goolsby's: $25. Two tickets to Frozen Four: $150. Phil Kessel at home watching on TV: Priceless.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA boy they REALLY hate Phil Kessel in Wisconsin (he’s such a traitor), but really, who doesn’t hate Phil Kessel except for Media Homers who have an inexplicable hard on for "talented" ass clowns like Kessel?

Frozen Four!!!

The Frozen Four is upon us at long last! The Semifinals take place in a little under two hours, beginning with North Dakota facing Boston College. Then this evening, Wisconsin will face Maine. Here’s my take:

North Dakota vs. Boston College
I wouldn’t want to be the Fighting Sioux right now. BC is a real threat. They have won 5 of their last 6 games, allowing 2 goals or less in each game. Their last two games (the NCAA Northeast Regionals), they posted 5 goals in each game and allowed none. That’s right, two back to back shutouts for sophomore Cory Schneider. However, the Fighting Sioux are nearly as impressive, winning all 6 of their last 6 games and allowing 3 or less goals in each game while scoring between 3 and 5 goals a game. Jordan Parise has definitely turned in some amazing performances this season.
Ultimately I think this one comes down to a goaltending battle (surprise, surprise). Jordan vs. Cory, both standouts on their squads, both are the number one goalies for their squads, both wear the number 1. Here’s how they match up-

Jordan Parise is a junior from Minnesota. He has played 33 games for 1,959:23 minutes. He has allowed 68 goals and made 943 saves for a total of 1011 shots faced. He has a save percentage of .933, with a goals against average of 2.08. He has posted 24 wins, 8 losses, and 1 tie. This gives him a win percentage of .742. He played 72.3% of the time for the Sioux.

Cory Schneider is a sophomore from Massachusetts. He played 37 games for 2,241:32 minutes. He has allowed 76 goals and made 1,015 saves for a total of 1,091 shots faced. He has a save percentage of .930, with a goals against average of 2.03. He has posted 23 wins, 12 losses and 2 ties. This gives him a win percentage of .649. He played 91.7% of the time for the Eagles.

While Jordan is older and has more NCAA playoff experience, Cory has led the US junior world team to two medals, Silver and Gold.

My pick: North Dakota. They came so very close last year to winning it all; they are definitely hungry for it. Not to mention they have, I think, the best freshman class this year, which was a major factor in Denver’s win last year.

I never thought I would say this but, GO SIOUX!!!!

Wisconsin vs. Maine
This one is tough, but I think it is fair to say the Wisconsin has the advantage here. They are basically playing on home ice in the Bradley center in Milwaukee. Not to mention, Brian Elliott is once again hot, which has been the story of their season. He has posted shutouts in his last three games, including a scary Midwest final that went into 3 overtimes before Wisconsin’s Jack Skille could score the one and only goal of the game, talk about a goalie’s battle…I really don’t think Maine stands a chance. But I really hope I am wrong and Wisconsin gets their asses handed to them…can you tell how much I like the BADgers?

Let’s go Blackbears!


Avs vs. Sharks 1-2

"Hockey is like heroin. Only drug addicts do heroin. It's not like a recreational drug. It’s never like, No, that's O.K., I'm not going to have heroin. You guys go right ahead. Hockey is kind of the same way. Only hockey fans watch hockey.''
Chris Rock in SI 9-26-05

I love this quote. So very true…

So the Avs lost last night. There were some bright spots in the game though. Budaj played so well. He made 30 saves on 32 shots with 16 minutes of being down a man. He really gave the Avs a chance to win it. Plus I am not completely convinced that the first goal scored by the Sharks, a crazy shot by Joe Thornton, was actually a goal. It hit the left post and appeared to just pop right off the post. There didn’t appear to be review of the goal. So I’m guessing the ref had a good view of it, but still, it just didn’t look like a goal.

Another good thing was Joe Sakic extended his point streak to 11 games, Andrew Brunette extended his point streak to 6 games, and Milan Hejduk extended his point streak to 5 games. This could also be seen as a bad thing, as the Avs don’t seem to be getting a whole lot of production from their three other lines.

Major problem: penalties! The Avs had 8 penalties for 16 minutes to the Sharks’ 2 penalties. The Avs managed to make it through a minute of 5-3 disadvantage during the second period. However, those 16 minutes really tired out the PK guys and made it that much harder for the Avs to win.

Other notes on the game: I got to see Matt Carle play for the first time since he signed with the Sharks after deciding to forego his senior year at DU. It was great! He looked pretty solid on the Power Play and in general. He was on the ice for 12 minutes and was a minus 1. It was really hard not to root for him because I think he is an amazing player and I’m so used to rooting for whatever team he is playing one!

At one point, Antti Laaksonan was handling the puck and Matt Carle was Defending against him and I just starting thinking about how special DU’s hockey program is…it was a great moment!


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Avs vs. Chicago Blackhawks 4-3

Last night the Avs played the Chicago Blackhawks in Denver. I was unable to see the game as I had to work, but I read all about it...from what I heard, the Avs played terrible and it was a complete miracle that they won at all! I'm so disappointed. I was looking for the Avs to bury the Blackhawks. Sure, Chicago doesn't really have anything, but their jobs, to lose so I should have taken that into account. But honestly, the Avs should have played a lot better. I can't know for sure, but it's my guess that a lot of the reason for the goals against the Avs went in is because of breakdowns in the D Corp.

I sometimes wonder about the D. I mean, Rob Blake is amazing, no two ways about it. John-Michael Liles can be okay, but I think he might have lost sight of his defensive core and has become too concerned with scoring goals, which he hasn't been doing lately. Brett Clark is a solid D-man but he's not Blake. Karlis Skrastins (or as I like to call him Scratch and Sniff) is also solid, but needs some work. Then we have my two least favorite, Bob Boughner (Booger as I like to call him) and Patrice Brisebois (Breeze-by as many Avs fans like to call him), both these guys just aren't pulling their weight. Booger is often a healthy scratch, while Breeze-by lives up to his name and just skates around getting in the way of the other Avs out there. Last we have Kurt Sauer, who spent most of the season with the Hershey Bears of the AHL on a conditioning assignment, meaning in the year of the NHL lockout, he didn't do anything...the loss of Ossi Vaananen has really hurt the D. For example, he hasn't played since the week before the Olympic break, in that time, he still has the second highest plus/minus on the team behind Milan Hejduk (+13), and tied with Joe Sakic (+10).

On the other hand, we need to have some defensively minded forwards. Brad May isn't helping anyone with is -13..

I hope that the team is not pleased with their performance last night and that they refocus their game for the Wednesday match-up with the San Jose Sharks. There is no way I am missing that game, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo, not to mention the return of Matt Carle to Denver since he decided to forego his senior season and signed with San Jose. Should be a great match up as they are coming off a win against Dallas.


Hockey Awards

This is the time of year in college hockey when awards are handed out in bunches. Today, I'd like to weigh in a few of the awards recently given out.

I'm going to start with Inside College Hockey's annual awards. I highly respect this site and have to admit that I visit it several times a day. This year they selected DU's own Matt Carle as both the Player and Defensemen of the year. There's not enough anyone can say about the year that Matt Carle is having. Sure, DU didn't make it to the NCAA Regionals, hell they didn't even make it to the WCHA Final Five, but that is not Matt's fault. He put up stellar numbers all year long but it just wasn't enough. Matt also was named the WCHA Player of the Year and the WCHA Defensemen of the Year, a feat never which has never occurred before in the history of the WCHA. It was surprisingsuprising to anyone that after the NCAA Tournament Selection show, Matt announced that he had signed with the San Jose Sharks of the NHL. Thus far he has played three games, has two goals, and eight penalty minutes. Finally, Matt is one of the "Hobey Hat Trick," meaning he is one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Trophy. Good Luck Matt!

For Goalie of the Year, INCH chose Brian Elliott of Wisconsin, Cory Schnieder of BC as the runner up. This is a tough category, as sometimes truly great goaltenders play for teams that just can't seem to make it, like Bobby Goepfert of Saint Cloud State. I guess (though I hate to do it) I'm going to have to agree with INCH on this one, as Brian Elliott had a HUGE impact on Wisconsin this year, for example, when he was injured in January, the Badgers lost 5 in a row, AT HOME! If that isn't an impact, I don't know what is...

For Rookie of the Year, INCH chose Phil Kessel, that completely over-hyped Gopher from Wisconsin. Every time I saw him play, I was completely unwowed (now, I have to be straight and say that when I heard all this stuff coming into the season about him, I said to myself, "Catie, give this kid a chance, it's hard to be amazing during a freshman season with so many people watching. DON'T judge him!) So I didn't. Now looking back at the season, I just can't see what is so great about this kid, but maybe it was all the hype. I like the runner-up, TJ Oshie, much better. That kid can just flat out play! His stats may not have been as good as Kessel's, but he had an impact when it really mattered, he scored 2 goals in the NCAA regionals to help his team to go the Frozen Four. Whereas in the last three games of Minnesota's season, encompassing the WCHA Final Five semi and consolation games and the Semi game of the NCAA tournament, Kessel had two assists, and that was in the 7-8 overtime loss to Saint Cloud State.

Last but certainly not least, for coach of the year, INCH chose Bob Motzko of Saint Cloud State. I have to fully agree with INCH on this one. After the resignation of their previous coach, the team seemed to be standing on shaky ground. Motzko completely turned this team around, and they eventually became major contenders. They were so very close to attaining home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. Then they managed to beat CC on their home ice to make it to the play-in game of the WCHA Final Five. They beat Minnesota-Duluth, and Minnesota in consecutive nights, then went on to play North Dakota for the chance to get an auto-bid to the NCAA tournament, their only chance of making it. They fell short but should be proud of their efforts. Motzko made a big impression in his first year and we should look for St. Cloud to be a true powerhouse next year.

I'm not going to go into the All-American teams because honestly, they don't mean a whole lot to me, not to mention, I'm not completely familiar with all of the players on the teams. If you're interested, go here: INCH Awards

Next, we'll move to's award winners.

Again, Matt Carle earned both Player and Defensemen of the Year honors. So all I have to say is if you don't know anything about him, go here: Carle for Hobey!

Enrico Blasi of Miami (Ohio) garnered Coach of the year honors, and I do believe he is quite deserving. Like Bob Motzko, he took a team that was predicted to do poorly (6th in the CCHA) and made it great. They were a REAL threat throughout the year. They completely dominated the CCHA, running away with the regular season title, but faltering during the playoffs.

Rookie of the Year Honors were split between Phil Kessel and Jeff Lerg of Michigan State. For info (ie my opinion) on Kessel, see above. I did get the chance to see Jeff Lerg play in net for Michigan State in the regional games against New Hampshire and Maine. He was able to shutout New Hampshire with 36 saves in 60 minutes. His team lost to Maine in the East final, in the final minute of the third period, Lerg was pulled as Michigan State was behind one point. Maine's Greg Moore scored an empty net goal for a score of 5-3 but with 5 seconds left in the game, Michigan State's Drew Miller scored for a final score of 5-4. A hard fought game.

Again, has All-American teams, as well as some other awards, go here: Awards

Now for the real live awards, the ones that when a player is in the NHL, showup on their past awards list. As I'm really only interested in the WCHA, that's all I'll be talking about.

WCHA Player of the Year
Matt Carle, Jr, D, University of Denver

WCHA Student-Athlete of the Year
Ted O'Leary, Sr, F, University of Denver

WCHA Defensive Player of the Year
Matt Carle, Jr, D, University of dDenver

WCHA Rookie of the Year
Phil Kessel, Fr, F, University of Minnesota

WCHA Coach of the Year
Don Lucia, University of Minnesota Bob Motzko, St. Cloud State University

WCHA Scoring Champion
Paul Stastny, So, F, University of Denver

WCHA Goaltending Champion
Brian Elliott, Jr, University of Wisconsin

Again, All-WCHA Teams, go here: WCHA Awards

All-Academic Team (must have completed at least a year [two semesters or three quarters] at present school and have a minimum 3.00 GPA on a 4.00 scale) has 92 members, for DU the following players received honors (those with * by their names are previous honorees):
University of Denver:
Zach Blom (Jr, D, Englewood, CO);
Matt Carle* (Jr, D, Anchorage, AK);
Steven Cook (Jr, F, Denver, CO);
J.D. Corbin* (Jr, F, Littleton, CO);
Glenn Fisher* (Jr, G, Edmonton, AB);
Ryan Helgason* (Jr, F, Woodbury, MN);
Jon James* (Jr, D, Arnold, MD);
Danny King* (Jr, G, Colorado Springs, CO);
Brock McMorris* (Jr, F, Cherry Hills, CO);
Ted O'Leary* (Sr, F, Arvada, CO);
Paul Stastny (So, F, St. Louis, MO);
Andrew Thomas (So, D, Bow, NH).

For complete coverage of the Awards Banquet, go here: WCHA Awards


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Avs at Calgary: 3-6

Oh this was just terrible to watch. In the first period, I thought the Avs really had a chance. They came out kind of flat, but picked it up as the period went on. Then Super Joe scored at 14:26. An amazing goal in a wide open net, completely fooled Kiprusoff...then 25 seconds late, Super Joe scored again, in a wide open net. His line (Brunette, Hejduk, Sakic) has a way of fooling everybody and leaving somebody wide open for an "easy" goal. The Avs took a 2-1 lead into the 1st intermission.
During this break, Peter McNab (aka the Devil incarnate) interviewed Propecia Joe. He was absolutely ADORABLE. I know, I know that word should not be applied to a hockey player, but truly, he was just too cute. Maybe cute is not the word. TOTALLY HOT!! He had on a suit with a button down shirt and no tie with the top buttons of his shirt opened...mmmm. It was a great interview too. I missed the very beginning, but he talked about finally getting the chance to skate today and how extremely excited he is to be playing for a "classy organization like the Avalanche." Now I know, he was prolly coached to say those things, but they seemed REALLY genuine. Honestly, I can't remember what else he said, cuz I was just too preoccupied with the look of him. He's got incredible eyes...anyways...
In the second period, the Avs just didn't play like they wanted to win. Again they came out flat and couldn't keep control of the puck. Calgary scored THREE unanswered goals in the second period. It was just terrible. Going into the second intermission, the score was 4-2, Calgary.
In the third period, things went from bad to worse. At one point the Avs had a 5 on 3 man advantage for a full minute and 26 seconds and they couldn't score!! I firmly believe that if a team can't score on a 5 on 3, they can't win a game, and it was proved tonight. Cody McCormick scored at 5:55 in the third to cut Calgary's lead to 2, but about three minutes later, Calgary scored again for a score of 5-3. The Avs lost any chance of making a comeback when a shitty call allowed a penalty shot for Calgary's Lombardi. It was such a dumb call. Yes there should have been a penalty because he was tripped but the trip didn't call for a penalty shot as Lombardi had a chance to get a shot off that Budaj made a clean save on. Needless to say, the shot went in 5 hole for the final score of 6-3. After the penalty shot, Budaj was pulled and Kolesnik (who hasn't played since March 9th, which is not his fault) was put in cold. He made one save that was really great.
All in all, I would not blame Budaj completely for the loss. Sure, he let in some flukey goals and he needs to work on closing his 5 hole as several of the goals went through there, but he was not supported by the D at all. He seems to be able to grab pucks out of the air quite well, also seems to see through screens well too. But when the opposing team is charging the net and being relentless on rebounds, while the D corp is busy trying to be offensive defensemen, Budaj is definitely going to have a hard time.
At any rate, having the next couple of days off should be helpful (although the team had not played since Tuesday before tonight), not to mention they will be playing at home on Monday against the Chicago Blackhawks. While Chicago doesn't have a great record and has no chance of getting into the playoffs even if they won every one of their last games, they are still a dangerous team to play right now. They have nothing to lose...They showed this tonight by beating Dallas who stand in second place in the Western Conference. This is not team to be taken lightly. Hopefully the Avs will refocus a bit and be able to turn in a better performance in front of their home crowd on Monday.