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Archive for the ‘Hockey’ Category

Keep your Hockey Craving Alive

Posted by mvetack on March 1, 2010

The Olympics are over and it was topped off with an amazing USA vs Canada hockey game that had United States residents loving hockey again.  Hockey in America has dropped off in popularity over the years and it doesnt help that the Versus Network has broadcasting rights to NHL games, including playoffs, and more people than not do not get the Verus channel.  While hockey is relevant again in most households some new fans or revitalized fans may try to grow out the mullets and bring their hockey fandome back.  Here is a little guide to where these young kids representing the USA play their hockey regularly, how they have been doing statistically, and where you can catch them in the coming week.

Goaltenders

Ryan Miller – Buffalo Sabres – SV% .93 (2nd) – GAA 2.16 (2nd) – SO 5 (5th) Faceoff against the guy who got the puck through his five hole (Sidney Crosby) in Pittsburgh on March 3rd followed by a match up vs a likely pissed offf Ovechkin and the Capitals on Friday, March 5th.

Tim Thomas – Boston Bruins –  SV% .915 (16th) – GAA 2.52 (14th) – SO 4 (6th) Thomas has a chance at Olympic revenge taking on two straight Canadien teams.  Rival Montreal on Tuesday night and Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday March 4th.

Jonathan Quick – Los Angeles Kings –  SV% .907 (27th) – GAA 2.53 (15th) – SO 2 (20th) Quick will have to wait two more games until he returns home when he plays both the Stars and Predators on the road on Tuesday then Thursday night.

Defenseman

Brian Rafalski – Detroit Red Wings – G 4 (360th) A 25 (81st) P 29 (168th) +/- 15 (35th) Rafalski and his Red Wings teammates start their playoff surge at rival Colorado (Monday) and against Canadien Goalie Luongo of the Canucks on Wednesday.

Ryan Suter – Nashville Predators – G 2 (462nd) A 24 (91st) P 26 (204th) +/- 9 (77th) Suter will be welcomed back to “Smashville” when his team takes on the Oilers on Tuesday and the Kings on Thursday.

Tim Gleason – Carolina Hurricanes – G 5 (324th) A 13 (263rd) P 18 (296th) +/- 1 (270th) Gleason and his Carolina teammates take on back to back Canadien squads upon return from the Olympics with Maple Leafs on Tuesday and the Senators on Thursday.

Jack Johnson – Los Angeles Kings – G 6 (290th) A 20 (142nd) P 26 (204th) +/- -12 (784th) Johnson will have to wait two more games until he returns home when he plays both the Stars and Predators on the road on Tuesday then Thursday night.

Erik Johnson – St. Louis Blues –  G 6 (290th) A 23 (99th) P 29 (168th) +/- 0 (333rd) Erik Johnson’s Blues are on the road twice this week.  Tuesday against Gretzky’s Coyotes and Thursday against perhaps the greatest US hockey player Mike Madono and the Stars.

Brooks Orpik – Pittsburgh Penguins – G 1 (554th) A 18 (176th) P 19 (282nd) +/- 7 (101st) Brooks Orpik will rejoin Canadien Hero Sidney Crosby and dissapointed and medal-less Malkin as the Penguins take on Ryan Miller and the Sabres on Tuesday and the New York Rangers on Thursday night.

Ryan Whitney – Anaheim Ducks – G 4 (360th) A 24 (91st) P 28 (184th) +/- -6 (668th) Whitney and his Mighty less Ducks take on the Avalanche at home on Wednesday and then the Coyotes in a weekend game on Saturday night.

Forwards

David Backes – St. Louis Blues – G 13 (127th) A 22 (113th) P 35 (111th) +/- -2 (490th) Shot % 10.5 (237th) David Backes and his Blues are on the road twice this week.  Tuesday against Gretzky’s Coyotes and Thursday against perhaps the greatest US hockey player Mike Madono and the Stars.

Dustin Brown – Los Angeles Kings – G 15 (94th) A 27 (66th) P 42 (72nd) +/- -2 (490th) Shot % 8.1 (355th)  Dustin Brown, like teammates Jack Johnson and Jonathan Quick, will have to wait two more games until he returns home when he plays both the Stars and Predators on the road on Tuesday then Thursday night.

Ryan Callahan – New York Rangers – G 15 (94th) A 17 (191st) P 32 (141st) +/- -10 (760th) Shot % 8.8 (324th) Callahan and fellow Olympian teammate Chris Drury get the Senators on Tuesday night and a chance at revenge on Sid the Kid and the Penguins on Thursday night.

Chris Drury – New York Rangers – G 10 (191st) A 12 (279th) P 22 (251st) +/- -11 (771st) Shot % 9.0 (314th)  Drury and fellow Olympian teammate Ryan Callahan get the Senators on Tuesday night and a chance at revenge on Sid the Kid and the Penguins on Thursday night.

Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks –  G 25 (18th) A 42 (11th) P 67 (9th) +/- 19 (19th) Shot % 12.6(151st) Patrick Kane will return to his Blackhawks as the only American Olympian and take on Islanders on the road on Tuesday, the Oilers at home on Wednesday, and the Red Wings at home on Sunday as the NBC game of the week.

Ryan Kesler – Vancouver Canucks –  G 16 (83rd) A 38 (18th) P 54 (27th) +/- 2 (231st) Shot % 9.8 (275th) Kesler will leave Olympic home Vancouver for a long road trip starting with the Blue Jackets on Tuesday and the Red Wings on Wednesday.

Phil Kessel – Toronto Maple Leafs –  G 21 (31st) A 20 (142nd) P 41 (81st) +/- -3 (559th) Shot % 9.8  (275th) Kessel will rejoin his Maple Leafs teammates back in Canada when they take on the Hurricanes on Tuesday and head to Boston to take on the Bruins on Thursday night.

Jamie Langenbrunner – New Jersey Devils –  G 15 (94th) A 37 (20th) P 52 (32nd) +/- 10 (65th) Shot % 8.2 (352nd) Langenbrunner and team USA teammate Zach Parise will be on the road against both Joe Thornton and the Sharks on Tuesday and Jarome Igninla and the Flames on Friday.

Ryan Malone – Tampa Bay Lightning –  G 21 (31st) A 22 (113th) P 43 (67th) +/- -5 (634th) Shot % 12.7 (142nd) Malone will try to lead his Lightning to victories over the Flyers on Tuesday night and Ovechkin and the Capitals on Thursday night.

Zach Parise – New Jersey Devils –  G 28 (9th) A 33 (33rd) P 61 (17th) +/- 24 (10th) Shot % 10.6(235th) Parise and team USA teammate Langenbrunner will be on the road against both Joe Thornton and the Sharks on Tuesday and Jarome Igninla and the Flames on Friday.

Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks –  G 16 (83rd) A 19 (158th) P 35 (111th) +/- 8 (86th) Shot % 10.3(248th) Pavelski’s Sharks start their charge for 1st place overall (one point behind the Capitals) vs the Devils on Tuesday and vs the Canadiens on Thursday.

Bobby Ryan – Anaheim Ducks –  G 28 (9th) A 21 (126th) P 49 (39th) +/- 4 (152nd) Shot % 14.6(79th) Ryan and his Mighty less Ducks take on the Avalanche at home on Wednesday and then the Coyotes in a weekend game on Saturday night.

Paul Stastny – Colorado Avalanche –  G 12 (151st) A 42 (11th) P 54 (27th) +/- 9 (77th) Shot % 8.3(345th) Stastny and the Avalanche will have another rivalry game, maybe not to the magnitude of the USA vs Canada game, vs the Red Wings Monday night in Colorado and then travel to Anaheim to take on the Ducks on Wednesday night.

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Experiencing USA vs Canada Hockey without MSNBC

Posted by mvetack on February 22, 2010

America's Rafalski lead team USA with 2 goals

Last night in prime time the underdog USA hockey team took down the heavily favored Canadians.  That, you all know.  If you are like me, you may not know how exactly it happened.  That is because your cable package does not include MSNBC, the channel that was providing the biggest game of the Olympics so far. Here is how I, someone without the game on tv, experienced the mammoth upset.

After getting out of work an hour early on Sunday, I rushed home to watch the first good hockey match up of the day, Czech Republic versus Russia.  After watching a great physical game of hockey I knew I had a couple of hours until the nightcap – USA vs Canada.  That is until i heard Bob Costas say. “Coverage starts at 7:00 on MSNBC”.  Referring to the USA Canada game.  This got me a little nervous as I don’t have MSNBC.  But, earlier in the Olympics another game, I believe Canada was playing, was said to be on MSNBC but CNBC (which I get) also carried it.

So approaching game time I began watching CNBC and they were showing Curling.  This was around 7 o’clock.  I knew the game was at 7:45 and the curling match was closing in on the 10th end so I knew it would end about five minutes prior to the opening face off.  Curling ended, with the US losing once again, and no sign of a hockey game.  They switched to another curling match and this is when I was really worrying.  But, the match was again in the 1oth end so maybe the hockey game wasn’t officially starting till a bit later.  Well that match ended and then disaster!  SI swimsuit history or something like that was starting.

CNBC = not carrying the game.  Next step try NBC.  Flipped to NBC (with no confidence it would be on) and saw them talking about tonight’s lineup.  A good line up indeed.  Two man bobsledding, pairs figure skating, and Bode Miller going for gold.  So quickly flipped to the last channel that was showing Olympics all week in the USA network.  The USA network had to carry this game. USA hockey on USA network, a match made in Olympic heaven!  But no, Pirates of the Caribbean was more important to the world.  Yea Jack Black is awesome in those movies but come on, I can rent that any day of the week.

On a side note I realized that I could watch New Hampshire native Bode Miller go for Gold instead (reluctantly a decent substitute) but it was about this time that my brother walked in the house and announced that Bode Miller won Gold.  NOTE – he did not know what we were watching at the time, and he figured we were watching the Hockey game anyway.  Still, kind of sucked.  The one thing I could accept watching for the next couple of hours I knew the results of.

So no game on TV and Bode already had Gold.  Next option was to go watch the game in crappy and choppy streams at select sites (very possibly in another language) This would have to do but I wasn’t rushing to get online as I was settling on watching Bode anyway.   Then my friend (who has MSNBC and the game on tv) texted me that USA was up 2-1 with 9 minutes left in the first period.  This exciting news convinced me I had to watch this game.  I could be missing something special.  (My friend lives too far away to drive to see the game.  Would not have seen much of it if I made the drive.)

So to the internet I went.  Found the game and it was extremely choppy.  The Ratio of video to frozen picture of the game was easily 10:1.  This was my best option until another stream resulted in decent video with French broadcasters.  At this point I vented my frustration to the world of Facebook posting how I hate not having MSNBC for once and how I am missing the game.  Seeing this post my sister responded with a convincing argument of yes you do have that channel I know you do.  Lets back up a minute, I of course flipped through every channel on my TV twice while i knew the game was not in a commercial to make sure.  So she suggested how to watch it and when getting to that medium the other French broadcast stopped working and her idea failed.

So now I have nothing but a friend text messaging.  I got another text about an hour after this fiasco began saying that the game is all tied up at 2.  Upset that I am not watching this game, I already know Bode won, and now we gave up a goal.  What a mess. Finally a link decided to work again and now the video to still picture ratio was at 2:1.  This would have to do and it did.  Watching players chop their way down the Ice I witnessed us having the puck at one moment and the next moment seeing Drury celebrating with teammates.  My brother and I yelled Goal!!! with a little bit of a question in our tone.  Then the text came and yes we were indeed up 3-2.

At this point it was the second intermission and I set out to find who had scored our goals.  In the world of being able to watch TV online ( even if is in French and choppy ) I could not for the life of me find a box score or gamecast of the game.  I searched every website imaginable and All I got was a quick update paragraph saying that Drury had given us a lead.  Finally right before the third period began SBnation.com had a game thread going on the hockey game and I quickly found that Rafalski scored our first two goals.

On to the third period.  The choppy stream was, at the least, letting me know if anyone had scored or not.  I could not see exactly what was happening every second but I could see scoring chances occasionally and if a goal was scored or a power play began.  7 minutes into the final period again I saw the US team embracing on the ice and the score had changed.  Langenbrunner had scored a power play goal and All of a sudden it was 4-2 USA with 13 minutes to play.  Sure enough right then I got another text.

With about 6 minutes to play although by magic a stream worked beautifully.  It was wide-screen and it was working very smooth.  With 5 minutes left in the game I was finally watching the game of the Olympics so far.  This was the most intense five minutes of this decade.  Completely giving up on attacking the US squad was sitting back and doing everything they could to limit the Canadian’s scoring chances to outside slap shots.  6 seconds away from killing a huge power play it was Sidney Crosby who brought his team that he captains to with in one goal.  3 minutes and change remained and I was nervous.  And yes I did get another text.  I didn’t look at this one.

More time passed and so did scoring chances.  Ryan Miller was playing out of his mind and deferring scoring chance after scoring chance.  Finally we noticed the Canadians had 6 guys on the ice (remember we are watching this in a different language) and realized they had pulled thier goalie with about a minute to go.  We knew we were in for an exciting minute.  As soon as we got hunkered down ready to see shot after shot after shot for the next minute, Ryan Kesler made a tremendous hustle play and a great diving shot attempt to score the clinching empty net goal.  We then watched the final seconds tick off the clock and the USA raise their sticks in victory.

My experience with this game was not ideal but it will certainly be memorable.  Even though I saw about ten total minutes of hockey being played, I feel that I did experience and see one of the most exciting and important American hockey games of my lifetime.   May the next US hockey game not be on MSNBC and if so may I find a sports bar that is showing it.

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Tuesday’s Matchup

Posted by mvetack on December 1, 2009

Attending Hockey Games or Football Games

Both these sports are the most physical of the mainstream sports. Open field or ice hits, tons of drunk fans, cold conditions, and passionate fans. These are some of the similar aspects of both experiences. But these are where the similarities end. That is because this competition is not even close.
Before I go on to my decision, let me clear something up. This is not between NHL and NFL, or college hockey vs college football. This is between a hockey game and a football game (above the high school level). Now, onto the decision.
Hockey is by far the most enjoyable sport to watch live. I would rather go see an amateur level hockey game over an NFL game. Instead of rambling on in paragraph form, here are two nice lists…

Flaws of Football games
Too many breaks and timeouts
Most seats, even close ones, are bad views of the game
Expensive
When a big lead is built, game gets boring
Too many “monday morning quarterbacks” in the stands
Parking is terrible
Outdoors in the cold – for the most part
Little interaction with fans

Greatness of Hockey
Limited and short stops in play
Every seat is a good seat
Relatively cheap
Always indoors and comfortable
Very entertaining Intermission events
Zambonis
Fights
No matter the score the game is just as exciting
Power Plays
Everyone – no matter the fan level – enjoys live hockey
3 stars after the game
Players not as much “stars” more fun to watch
Goons
Non Stop action
Many many more..



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