Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My Skates are Killing Me!

Inquiry for hockey playing types. I played both Sunday and Monday nights and I've got nasty blisters on the insides of both my heels. I've got flat feet and play with a pretty high grade insole, but not one specifically designed for over-pronation. Orthotics won't fit in the boot. Does anybody make a skate or arch lifting insole for mutants like me?

Frankie Stays in Raleighwood

Interesting first UFA signing. Frankie Kaberle for $2.2 mil per year for four years. JR must be thinking he needed to lock down his only real offensive defenseman before the rest of the league ups the ante. Foreshadows the pending doom of Oleg Tverdovsky, me thinks. Might he be our Alex Mogilny of next season?

I might have thought AWard would come first. Maybe JR has a gentleman's agreement with Aaron similar to the one he had with Wes.

Me and the boys

Got this pic from a link on Stormbringer's blog. It's just too good to hide behind a hyperlink. Note the well-defined pecs on the Recchin' Ball, Dougie trying to hide slinged right shoulder and Stillman looking like somebody's grandpa. This must have been the aquatic warmup for Roddy's subsequent swim in the Campbell River back home in BC.

Photo credit apparently goes to "friend of a friend."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Just an observation

Like many of you, I started to get my rumor mongering from Hockey BBQ Buzz. On three different occasions over the past two days I've ventured to that other site and received this message:

"The page cannot be found"

Must be down for maintenance, huh?

Weight or Recchi?

In today's N&O, J.P. Giglio has this teaser at the end of his piece on the re-signing of Lavvy:

"Weight and Recchi, who are both unrestricted free agents, were assumed to be rental players and expected to be gone this summer. Not necessarily, Rutherford said. "I think it would be difficult to keep both Doug and Mark, but it may be possible to keep one," Rutherford said."

Both consented to come to Raleigh because they liked what they saw of team chemistry and liked the Hurricanes chances of winning the Cup. So if it plays out, who should they keep? Recchi is 38 and Weight is 35. Re-signing Recchi could be a slam dunk. As the holder of his rights, the Canes could retain him by agreeing to pay him $2.2 mil, or Recchi could trigger the option by agreeing to stay for $760K. I doubt he'd do the latter, but the $2.2 mil might fit. So, how bad does Recchi want to go back to Pittsburgh? He planned on finishing out his career in Steeltown, but what might he think of playing for a rebuilding team and for Michel Therrien? Lavvy or Therrien? That's a no brainer. Wonder if Momma Recchi is anything like Momma Pronger? Little to no snow, Carolina blue skies, quick shot to your beach house or mountain cabin, Nordstroms...Raleigh looking better.

Weight is a clear UFA and should be able to attract somewhere in the $4 mil range. JR would probably have to bring a deal in that ballpark to keep him. Like Recchi, does Weight burn to return to a rebuilding St. Louis club? If not St. Louis, there are probably a lot of teams who would pay to make Dougie a centerpiece. But family and stability are important to Weight as well.

If Cullen goes to another club, that that might change the priorities a bit. The departure of Cullen could mean Joe Vasicek comes off the trading block. With Cullen in the fold, the Canes are deeper at center than wing. If Heddy and Wes retire, Recchi gives you continued veteran leadership in the clubhouse. So in sum, I say find a way to keep Recchi. He's half the price of Roddy and a fraction of what it's gonna cost to land Staal, Cole, Williams, etc.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Takin' Care of Business

Draft day came and went with no big deal to get Jordan Staal. For awhile, it looked like the deal was gonna do itself. The Pens are way weak on the blueline. The only stud blueliner in the draft was gonna go number one to the Blues. I wonder if he's gonna do a Jack Johnson and disappear for multiple years. The Canes had a deep in the pipeline stud blueline prospect to offer. I'm curious if and how much Jack Johnson's coquettishness turned the Pens off.

So while the Flames and Wild made big deals to bring in huge offensive talent, JR must have been in a back room taking care of business. On Friday, he locked down Cap'n Rod to an extension. And late yesterday, Sportsnet reported a deal basically done to keep Lavvy on the payroll for five more years. Deals for assistant coaches apparently soon to follow.

I think the priority JR and PK placed on these two signings is the first indication that the Carolina Hurricanes are not about to become the Florida Marlins of hockey. Yeah, they need to get busy re-signing Eric Staal, Erik Cole, Justin Williams, AWard, Mike Commodore, Frankie Kaberle and Matt Cullen, but they took care of securing critical leadership first. Very productive draft day, I'd say.

Cole for Havlat?
This one just won't go away. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun has a re-set on this one from last season. Not sure it makes any more sense now than it did back in the day. Cole is an icon in the Triangle, a team leader and in my opinion, probably an alternate captain next year. Havlat is a fine two-way Euro with a history of chippy play. He's also a guy the Sens are feverishly trying to unload.

LeafNation is already figuring it's a foregone conclusion that like all good Ontario boys, Pronger wants to come home and play for the Leafs. Alas, Garrioch hints that the missus wants to move out of the land of ice and snow back to warmer climes. Garrioch mentions New York. I say, go Phoenix, go Phoenix, get Pronger, get Pronger.

Friday, June 23, 2006

JJ moves up the food chain

JJ Guerrero of Canucks Hockey Blog brought (or paid for) a hot date, and ponied up the fun tickets for a new suit and tickets to attend last night's awards show.

Nice summary and photos of some clean shaven Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes !!!!
(enlarged font mandated by the new CasonBlog style guide)

One report I read said Wardo and Staal pillaged the media buffet table. If so, it kind of makes that Onion piece carry the ring of truth.

I watched a bit last night. Nice intimate party designed by Canadians for Canadians.

  • Nameless Canadian band (what, no Bare Naked Ladies?)
  • Nameless Canadian comic
  • D-List Canadian celebs including Tom Cochrane of 1981 Lunatic Fringe fame ( I saw Red Rider twice in college) and some hottie from that show on the SF channel that has Lorne Greene and Michael Landon on a spaceship fighting robot cyborgs.
  • No Kid Rock, Cuba Gooding or Nuke LaLoosh (thank God)

Roddy winning the Selke was a no-brainer. His ode to Lavvy was heartfelt and powerful. Lindy Ruff winning the Adams was kind of a downer, but Lindy kept that club fighting when lesser men would have made excuses and looked to bail.

I think Lavvy's gonna be Ok. He's got the important hardware.

Hurricanes Version Next

I read a quote attributed to Jim Rutherford last week in which he said one of his lessons learned after the 2002 SCF was not to re-sign guys to contracts as a way of thanking them for service rendered. I think he was probably referring to keeping a guy like Jeff O'Neill and letting a guy like Marty Gelinas go. O'Neill basically quit playing defense after the '02 season his point production dropped by one half in his second season after the '02 Cup run. Marty doubled his point production after he went to Calgary. He then went to the finals and was an incredibly valuable two-way player for the Flames. Yeah, I recall Marty saying after the '02 season that he wanted to get back to playing and living in Canada, but he's in friggin' Miami now.

Here's how I'd like to see the Canes lineup on opening night:

Stillman - Staal - Cole
Whitney - Roddy - Williams
Ladd - Cullen - player to be named
CAdams - KAdams - LaRose

AWard - Babchuk
Commodore - Johnson (yeah, I wish)/New stud blueliner
Wallin/Kaberle - Hutchinson/Walser/newby/second acquired blueliner

Cam Ward

So here's my player signing/re-signing priority list:

1. Keep the core together by finding a way to lock down highly regarded and therefore poachable RFA's for multiple years:

  • Eric Staal
  • Eric Cole
  • Mike Commodore
  • Justin Williams

2. Secure home-town discounts or find a way to afford valued UFA's:

  • Aaron Ward
  • Matt Cullen
  • Frankie Kaberle or Nic Wallin

3. Make trades or strongly encourage retirements to create cap space to help do 1 and 2 above:

  • Oleg Tverdovsky
  • Joe Vasicek
  • Glen Wesley
  • Bret Hedican (I'm torn here. He still skates and plays hard. Might have 2-3 more years in the tank and take Glen's place as the wise elder - but he's expensive at $2.4 mil per season)

4. Create instant depth on the blueline the old fashioned way - buy a UFA defenseman or two!

  • Joe Corvo (love this guy)
  • Ruslan Salei
  • Jay McKee
  • Filip Kuba
  • John Klemm

5. Get Jack Johnson into training camp or make the deal with the Pens to bring in Jordan Staal. Johnson may become the next Chris Pronger. JR could move him and live to regret it in 3-4 years. JR is a two-time GM of the year, therefore I must have faith. If JR rolls the dice thinking he can make him a Hurricane, we may have to wait for up to three more season just to see Johnson in camp. Also, if junior is this prickly as an amateur, is he likely to be a rookie deal and outta here kind of guy? He seems in no immediate hurry to be an NHL starter, make millions and join A FRIGGIN' STANLEY CUP CHAMPION TEAM!!!!!

6. Invest in the not-so-distant future by contracting:

  • Anton Babchuk
  • Chad LaRose
  • Craig Adams
  • Andrew Hutchinson (hedging, hedging...)

Just to fuel the Jack Johnson fire...

we have this today from TSN:

"Several published reports indicate that the Pittburgh Penguins, desperate for defence, are offering the number two overall pick to Carolina in exchange for last year's number three pick, Jack Johnson. The Hurricanes would then use the second pick on Jordan Staal, the younger brother of 'Canes star Eric Staal. "

And this from Spector:

"... Larry Pleau had rejected an offer from Pittsburgh that would have sent the Pens 2nd pick, Colby Armstrong, and another unnamed veteran player for the Blues number 1. Seems like a good deal for the Blues...but I guess this Erik Johnson kid is pretty coveted and would take a lot for the Blues to shop him. I guess you can also interpret that the Pens really want a D-man and if they can't get Erik Johnson, then those Canes-Pens rumours regarding Jack Johnson for Jordan Staal may be closer to the truth."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Breakin' it down - the Ducks new graphic id

The Mighty Ducks of Los Angeles, in Orange County, in Anaheim, but not in dismal old, rundown and far too ethnic Santa Ana, are now the Anaheim Ducks. Today they rolled out their new graphic identity. Looks like they brought in the Queer Eye crew for at least one element.

The pros

  • Black and tan...ummm beerrrrr.
  • Lots of sharp edges make the logotype look like some sort of stealthy ninja weaponry.

The cons

  • The Batterang-like webbed foot "D" would look better as a stand alone graphic.
  • Why do a duck foot as your principal graphic element? Is that the most graphically compelling part of a duck's anatomy? I don't think I want to know the answer to that last one.
  • Asymmetrical stripes cause permanent damage to my heterosexual male neurology. I still get a migrane when I look at a Craps or the old Ducks jersey. Black accented with swooshes of color that start at the hip and end in the armpit must be slimming. Just Sewwwwpurrr!

They swung and missed on this one. I say they should just tweak the old swiss cheese Donald Duck mask inspired logo. Just drop the teal and eggplant color scheme and keep the black and tan. They could then butch up the swiss cheese texture on Donald by adding a brushed titanium steel mesh effect. Black, tan and a brushed titanium mesh on a circa 1940 cartoon waterfowl deathmask - Ooooh, now that'd be sexy!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Just when you thought hockey fatigue was setting in...

špatný karikatura?
This is bloody fantastic. We now have a sick hockey blog hybrid of Mad Magazine, National Lampoon and the Onion. Now a Daily Read, I give you Hockey BBQ Buzz.

Why I Loathe ESPN and Preseason Predictions

Anybody see Davis Jones lurking about the grounds during today's celebrations? Or was he perched gargoyle-like high atop some nearby church steeple pining for the chance to rid Raleigh of this vile Hurricane pestilence?

Late last summer the NHL and the NHLPA finally worked out a collective bargaining agreement bringing an end to the miserable lockout. Predictably and soon afterwards, former broadcast partner ESPN declined their opportunity to keep the NHL a part of their programming. To ESPN, hockey was a cult sport on the decline that didn't produce the viewership or revenues necessary for their business model. In essence, the network that begged us to watch when their programming consisted of Australian Rules Football decided to throw one of North America's premier sports under the bus now that they were global. They had no interest in investing in this great sport's rebirth. They had the NFL, NBA, MLB, extreme sports and figure skating for the gals on college football or NFL game days.

With one less program preparation challenge in the mix, ESPN's on air personalities were able to largely ingore hockey and focus on crafting slicker catch phrases and hanging with sexier sports personalities - the exceptions being the instantly under-employed Barry Melrose, Eugene Levy (...and I'm Earl Cannonbear) and John Buccigross.

In January I sat and watched Stewart Scott butcher some fairly well known NHL names during a SportsCenter highlight sequence. From the mouth of Mr. Boo Yah, we got...

  • Marek Zah-litsky
  • Ilya Koval-chick
  • Kar-a-lee Let-oh-nen

In the middle of last week, morning radio host Colon Cowpile made a point of bragging about his disinterest in hockey. He basically said that he'd pay attention to hockey if and only if the California Golden Seals played the Hartford (or Plymouth?) Whalers in the SCF. He then went back to slobbing on the knob of the NBA and NFL. His Improv club routine used to be fresh on sports talk radio. He's dead to me. I'm now listening to hemp farming stories and poetry readings on NPR in the morning.

On Monday night I watched game seven from the lobby of Tucson Ice, our only ice house. You see, I had a C league game scheduled, and as the new guy and one of only four who are willing to play defense, I felt obliged to show up. I watched the first period from the lobby. I dressed out between the first and second periods and ventured to the back rink five minutes before game time. The rink was dark so I asked somebody in management what was going on. They said all games were cancelled Monday night because of game seven. I didn't get the memo. I should have guessed as much; I should have noticed nobody else showing up and making their way thru the lobby. I guess I was kind of spun up and tunnel visioned. So anyway, I watched a good chunk of the second period in the lobby and in full gear. I know - kind of like dressing up as a Borg and going to a Star Trek convention.

On the drive home after NBC yanked the plug early on the celebrations, I tuned into ESPN radio for some post-game banter on Game Night. Either John Seibel or Gilbert Gottlieb (me thinks ASU Sun Dirtball Seibel) is a total tool. I wish I could say which, but I can't tell the difference in their voices. One or the other took great joy in belittling hockey, flaunting their ignorace of professional hockey at every level, calling the Hurricanes the Panthers repeatedly, and rehashing the old Hartford rant. He played it straight for a brief Mark Recchi interview and then went right back into his schtick.

Piss on ESPN. They are firmly convinced that they are bigger than the sports they cover.

Episode Two: Predictions Sure to Go Wrong

Anyhoo, I took a quick look back at the preseason predictions of ESPN hockey guys and some US sports media pundits. Back then it looked like it was gonna be good to be fan of the predictible favs (thanks to Jamie Fitzpatrick for the archive):

-'Ning and Sharks with the 'Ning winning the Cup
Melrose - Flyers and Flames with the Flames winning the Cup
Buccigross - Flyers and Sharks with the Flyers winning the Cup
Burnside - 'Ning and Canucks with the Canucks winning the Cup

SI - Stephen Cannella-Sens and Flames with the Flames winning the Cup

USA Today - Ted Montgomery-Ottawa and the Sharks, but no predicted winner

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Look Back at the 2002 NHL Entry Draft

Editorial Note: CasonBlog will indulge in some basking and reflecting between now and Saturday's NHL Entry Draft.

Episode One:
Before the Meldown-The 2002 NHL Entry Draft
What do Petr Taticek, Alexander Semin and Anton Babchuk all have in common? All have either never played an NHL game or gotten barely a sniff in the show. And all were all drafted ahead of Wardo.

Here's a list from round one in 2002. Some big names up top like Rick Nash, and a maybe a big name to be in Kari Lehtonen, but please, San Antonio Rampage centerman, Jakub Koreis, and his eight AHL points in 70 games over Cam?

Part of me wants to embrace the Phoenix Coyotes as my team 1A, but sheeeesh, their draft record and personnel moves have been pretty abysmal. Case in point, 2000 first round pick, and now underachieving Penquin property, Krystofer Kolanos.

Thinking of Glen Wesley Tonight

In the spring of 2004, my wife and I went to the Fridays in Cary for a nightcap after attending a particularly humbling home loss to, I believe, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Soon after we were seated, Glen Wesley walked in with his wife. As they approached their table, Glen noticed I had on my Hurricanes jersey. At first, his eyes lit up and he started to give me one of those male-to-male smiles and head nods. Almost instantly however, his eyes averted, he got a kind of sheepish look on his face and he managed only a half-hearted wave. What started as a muy macho affirmation quickly became more subdued. When my wife and I got up to leave, Glen again recognized us with a smile and weak wave.

I sensed that Glen felt that he let us (not me or my wife-Hurricane fans in general) down that night-that season. That told me a lot about Glen Wesley as a professional athlete and as a man.

Well, hang your head no more Wes. Your name is forever engraved on Lord Stanley's cup. I only hope that more men like you hoist the Cup as Carolina Hurricanes. I look forward to watching a banner bearing the number 2 join the ring of honor next fall.

Monday, June 19, 2006

What a long strange trip its been

Game Seven Lineup Thoughts

Weight or LaRose or Vasicek or Ladd
and/or Tverdovsky or Babchuk

Weight gives you veteran savvy and playmaking in deep, if he can survive the pounding. Possibly less pounding if he plays primarily on the power play. Weight is probably playing for his last chance at a cup. Is that enough incentive for him play through the injury and be a difference maker?

LaRose will bring enormous pent up energy. This means five to six minutes of relentless hustle and nasty agitation. He might be able to generate a critical turnover with his forechecking. But Chad brings no offense and questionable discipline in a game where discipline may be a deciding factor.

Vasicek-IwoCPO has his enigma, we have ours. He's under contract thru next year. He also probably knows he's potential trade bait after tonight. I haven't seen enough fire in Joe to think he'd be a difference maker. Smaller guys are knocking him on his ass in this series.

Ladd has virtually disappeared. He was netting around 13-14 minutes of ice time by the end of the Buffalo series, but now he's back down around five minutes. He's a ferocious hitter and a rising star, but why dress a rook you only plan to use for five minutes?

Tverdovsky is our enigma part deux. Brought in as a playmaker on the blueline, he's become a peripheral player. He's got cup experience and the potential for a brilliant Ozolinsh moment. He also has the potential for a Oh-NOzolinsh moment at any time.

Babchuk has a wicked slapper from the point, but with the Oil blocking shots with reckless abandon, his only real asset at this point in his development (besides his hulking size) looks to be nullified.

Bottom lines
You definitely play Doug Weight if he says he's ready to go.

You sit Ladd, LaRose and Vasicek and play Tverdovsky for the blueline insurance and playmaking potential he brings. Chad and Andrew's time will come. Joe hasn't shown up in these Stanley Cup finals. The only other option might be to sit CAdams and play Joe. If you do, you have a one man energy line of KAdams.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Honorary Game Seven Team Captain

So why isn't he wearing red and silver?

Thanks to Christy at Behind the Jersey for asking me to participate in her "Behind the Blog" series. I think we all look forward to these, and I'm honored to be included...even if it is right before game seven with my team coming off a standing eight count.

Pep Talk Abstract
Go Canes. Play with pride tonight. Don't walk away knowing you had something left in your tank or in your bag of tricks. Most of you will never get this chance again. Forget the last two games. You can't change history. But you can still make history.

...And Mick McGeough, you humpty dumty on skates; you spastic thespian on a Red Bull rush; you all around overofficious jerk (blast from the past for Buffalo Bills fans), don't you screw the whole thing up for either team.

UPDATE: McGeough will be watching it on TV like the rest of us. Wheeew!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Uhhhh, one more roster adjustment...

This just in: It's Colsey Time!

Per 1:
Hedican goes to the box for sticking his arm up (2nd time in two games) and Moreau doesn't after he hits Cole in the head with a forearm shiver.

Sub goal for Period 2: Make the little Latino Leprechaun feel some pain.

Per 2:
Bad penalties reign. Get your heads out of your asses boys. Colesy came to play.

2-0 The Oilers want it a lot more. Is it Gerber time?

Better finish, but the Oil are the better team. Even the penalty to Smith was a weak one.

The boys at least need to establish some puck control going into game seven. I'm so sick of Doc and JD talking about shots on goal-we get it.

Whitney and Stillman are getting no looks. Adams, Adams, Big Joe is our best line thus far. At least they came to brawl.

Eric Cole is playing as though he's been there the last three months.

Per 3:
Awww fuggitaboutit. See you Monday night for the last game of the season. Come on boys, play with some pride and we can live with the results. Tonight was an embarrassment. The Oil beat you up and took your lunch money.

WARNING: This section added after drinking too much
Where'd you go Captain Rod Brind 'Amour? Still fiddle fartin' with the puck way too friggin' long, eh Matt Cullen? What's it too rough out there for you "Offsides" Cory Stillman and Ray Whitney? Is that why you all were invisible? Joe Vasicek needed to step up tonight. Well thank you Joe for your one measly shot. You did a marvelous job of grabbing Pronger's sweater after the whistle and looking kind of psychotically detatched. Nice penalty trifecta Bret Hedican. Thanks to eight of you for your one shot on goal each for the whole game. My 75 year old mother-in-law could have snagged the shutout in goal tonight for the Oil-without even having to amp-up her pacemaker.

I say sit Kaberle and play Babchuk, and sit Vasicek and play LaRose in game seven. It's a net gain of one non-Euro and at least Chad will give you 110 percent. I'm also gonna have an intoxicated sleep on the idea of starting Martin Gerber in game seven. Hell, let's see if Bates Battaglia has some free time.

Some say it's easier to bounce back from a blow out than a nail biter. Whatever. The Canes earned the 7th game on their ice. Let's pray that plays in their favor.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Pending Game Six Lineup Juggle

Doug Weight is definitely out for game six and AWard looks like he's in. This might seem to open a spot for a foward, maybe Chad LaRose. I think Chad will sit and Lavvy will add Tverdovsky to the blueline as insurance should AWard take an ill-timed Torres whack. Without Weight the Canes can still put five solid centerman on the ice (Rod, Staal, Vasicek, Cullen, KAdams).

The bigger problem might be lack of comparative depth when one of these guys gets pushed to the wing. Vasicek has the size to play wing, but he's been slowed by the knee reconstruction, and often lacks the necessary desire to knock somebody on their can. KAdams has grit enough in spades, but he's had hands of stone these entire playoffs. Cullen is a playmaker who needs to quit holding the puck so friggen long...but he needs to play center.

Cory Stillman will be looking to avenge his self-described "bonehead play" tomorrow night. He also has generated the most road points during these playoffs. I look for him to come up big. I also look for Andrew Ladd to emerge from his funk. If Vasicek and Ladd come out fast and physical, we could be in for a pleasant night.

Most of the Canes top producers are studs on home ice. There is more home/road balance among the Oilers. Pronger, Pisani (both 2x as many road points), and Hemsky have been more productive on the road. Smyth, Horcoff and Samsonov are more productive on home ice. I'd feel better if Smyth was on the previous list.

The Hurricanes only generated two shots on goal in the third period of game five and registered zero in the OT to the Oil's seven. If Mike Peca is right and the Oil can live up to his claim of owning 5 on 5 hockey, it might be long night. But that assumes that dynamics he counts on to make that claim remain unchanged. The sting to team pride of a bad loss, two days off and away from hometown media, veteran leadership and a proven ability to bounce back can work to change those dynamics in the Hurricanes favor.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Point of no return

It's crazy how the media do 180's after each of these games. We go from "Canes have a stranglehold" to "Momentum with Oilers" in just two days. It's hyperbole in overdrive across the US and CA media. Ditto the networking fan experience. The depression that was the Oil fan experience on Monday night-a desolate Whyte Ave, select Oilogosphere bloggers avoiding the broadcast of game five, has now given way to 22 pages of ranting and group therapy in the Canes forums.

Teams cross a threshold once they win the conference championship. It's the threshold between a nice season/trip to the playoffs and that crap shoot for either ultimate glory or ultimate heartbreak. By now the Sabers and Ducks are probably deep into golf and planning for next year. But for the two that remain, there's just so much at stake going into game six. It's a grueling affair that might of-could of ended last night. That would have made my wife and kids happy. They've had enough of hockey.

Using the marathon analogy again, we're at the 18-20 mile point-the wall. You'd be lying if you want to deny that the Hurricanes hit a wall last night. Injuries, frustration and fatigue are now a big part of the equation. AWard and Weight may or may not play Saturday night. I think AWard suffered a shoulder dislocation or separation. Reason I say that is that he came back. The crazy thing with shoulder injuries like that is that once somebody puts it back in its socket, you feel Ok. But the damage is done to the labrum and connective tissue making a subsequent injury more likely and potentially more damaging. If Aaron plays, he's made of sterner stuff than the rest of us. Weight might have a rib or shoulder wound. He looked awful pale back on the bench at the end of OT.

I think losing AWard for game six would be much more problematic. Tverdovsky has shown that his mind is elsewhere these playoffs. Babchuk is still a nugget, and Hutchinson would probably shatter under the clobbering he'd take. My guess is that Tverdovsky would get the call. If he plays like he's wants a job next year, maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised.

The potential loss of Weight is not as big a deal. Staal, Roddy, Cullen, KAdams and Vasicek are all natural centermen. If it means the Hurricanes activate LaRose again, so be it. We'll have some feistiness back on our 4th line. I'm more worried about Roddy's invisibility last night. Chris at PK thinks he might have a hand or wrist injury.

Stillman goes from hero to goat in the course of two games. His forecheck created the chance for Staal and Recchi to combine for the game winner in game four, but his weak and tipped outlet pass last night gave Pisani a steal and clear shot to the goal. And Pisani did his homework-high and glove side for the winner.

Everybody is probably nursing some kind of injury. Now with potentially two games remaining to determine a champion it's time to see who has the mettle to fight through it. Like a lot of you all, I was up until after 1 am last night laying in bed and replaying the Pisani steal and goal over and over in my head. I also pondered the many ways one might wipe that snotty snear off Craig MacTavish's mug. Yeah sure, you knew it would go that way all along. I seem to remember you holding you head in your hands after game four.

But it's now time to get over it and move on. Time for Caniac Nation to regroup, restore a little faith in this great team and look forward to two more opportuntites to win this mother. It might be all the more sweet to win it in their house after their bit of vandalism in our house. The white jerseys look better anyway.

One of the qualities of great athletes is the ability to compartmentalize-the ability to put away the bad and move on with focus and confidence that a lesson has been learned and won't be repeated. Brett Favre kind of has that. He can throw a bad interception and come right back and throw another one in the next series, and never lose his swagger. Brett's a great compartmentalizer, except he forgets to include the lesson learned part.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It's a Marathon not a Sprint

Back to Edmonton. Hopefully AWard and Doug Weight's shoulders have been put back in place and taped up. Staal was way too lax on the PP in OT even before the turnover. Letting Peca run him off the puck...arrgh. Too bad because he was a monster the rest of the night. Lesson learned. Come out firing and break the hometown fans hearts Saturday night.

Game Five

Well here I'll sit. Just me and my old pal Trinatron. It's around 108 today in the Sonoran Desert, and I couldn't feel farther away from the epicenter of the hockey universe than I am right now. Her majesty will likely be in the 300 section giving misbehaving fans hell, and looking out for Mr. Eklund. David and Chris should be tailgating right about now and then down in the bowl for the puck drop. And I'll be watching that Dodge ad, now sans the fairy reference, at least fifteen friggin times. While my pards are hootin' and hollerin' in the RBC, I'll be listening to Doc throw shout outs to the 1928 Rochester Blue Bombers, and listening to JD repeat his pre-game theme over and over again.

Canes have to continue with the attack tonight. They need to get up early, keep the puck in the Oilers zone and break their will. No fiddle farting through the first period again. No lack of hustle penalties, just cold merciless pressure and artful puck control. The vets need to treat it like one more game-controlled aggression. In game seven of the Sabers series, Roddy was tight. Hopefully the guy who sets the tone for the club will set a tone of self-confidence and laserbeam-like focus.

The Oilers will probably try to penetrate with the puck, wrist it on goal after gaining the blueline, and then have all hands crash Wardo. The Samsonov goal was about the only Oil bright spot Sunday. They'll probably try and repeat that penetrate, dish, shoot and crash sequence. My guess is that they'll throw pucks at the net and bull rush at every opportunity.

For the Hurricanes this means poise with the puck on D and crisp outlet passes that lead to speedy counterattacks. Should make for some wide open hockey tonight. And if we are lucky, a fine end this first season of the "New NHL."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Don't get used to seeing Jack Johnson in red

For the most part, I've focused solely on the SCF in my media scans lately. Haven't paid much attention to trade rumors. A2Y's post about the Luongo for Datsyuk rumor and his Spector v. Eklund take got me interested. Holy schnikes! Lyle references a Damien Cox article where he fuels "speculation" that the Canes might be looking to move Jack Johnson for the number two pick that should be Jordan Staal. The reasoning is that the Pens have young stud forwards, but an anemic blueline. How about a Brooks Orpik/Jack Johnson pairing? That would be an ambulance chasing lawyer's dream.

JR might be tired of getting rebuffed by the young Wolverine. He offered the boy multiple chances to join a playoff-bound team and Johnson opted to stick around for a few more keggers.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Game Five: A "True" Must Win for the Oil

Yeeee Hawww!
Dateline Raleigh: Forward Ryan Smyth expected to crash the net in game five as Oil face SCF armageddon.

Issue Number One: Please assure me Mick McGeough isn't working game five!!!

The Canes demonstrated they could hold a lead without going into a rope-a-dope. They crushed the Oil PP- multiple Oil PP's. Once they quit taking ticky-tack penalties in the first, their team speed, team defense and heady on-ice leadership took over the game. The Carolina Hurricanes were on the attack virtually all night.

Eric Staal was back tonight. His Dirk Nowitzki leap, puck snatch and backhand pass to Recchi for the game winner was a thing of beauty. Joe Vasicek skated with all the grace and speed of Marek Malik in his return tonight. I do recall him registering a nice hit, but I recall more seeing him getting worked off the line around the faceoff circle.

Oh yeah, Vanilla Ice had another great game in goal. Nearly every chance the Oil did create was turned aside with near robotic precision. Ward even cleared many of his own rebounds. He's the Anti-Hasek. He doesn't hurl his stick and flail around making the easy ones look hard. As Yoda McGuire was heard to say above the Rexall din, "A Zen master he already is."

Jussi was stellar, and was the only thing that kept this from being somewhere around a 4-1 game. If I'm Coach MacTavish, I'm telling the boys to get back to smashing up the Hurricane blueliners-keep hitting them hard...and late whenever possible. Draw some more retaliation penalties. Doooh! That pre-supposes your crew can net a few PP goals. On second thought, maybe they should launch a few more Smyth missiles at Wardo. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Get Well Ben

Thinking this afternoon of former Miami Redhawk (yeah!) and current Steeler (arrrgh!) Ben Roethlisberger. Ben was seriously injured in a traffic accident this am.

My fatherly advice: Get better, screw the Hell's Angels schtick, ditch the murdercycle.

Game Four

When asked to comment on his no interference call in game three, referee T.J. Hooker replied, "Damn it Scotty, ....this game....it moves...it moves at warp factor eight!

Eric Staal is all the buzz right about now. He's in Joe Thornton playoff mode, and that doesn't bode well for the Canes. It's balanced scoring across multiple lines that makes Carolina so deadly, and Eric, because of injury, mental or orthopedic fatigue, has been less of a force with each game. He needs to at least start making some plays to take the heat off Brindy's line.

Lots of pile driving on the Warchief from Covered in Oil, and Black Dog. Roddy owes E.J. Hradek and the assembled media nothing. I liked Hradek's reporting back before he started camping it up on NHL Live. His inane commentary makes my hair hurt now. Frankly, I wish nobody would talk to the media after games. You either get "we've just got to take it one game at a time" riffs or something that get's turned into bulletin board material. I wish they would just designate Bobby Knight or Bill Parcells as the NHL's chief post-game spokesman. They'd turn it back on the media. That would also keep Lavvy from putting his foot in his mouth. Don't blame Roddy in the least. He stayed away to avoid bulletin board material because he knew as pissed as he was what would happen. It happened anyway.

From what I've read, Roddy wants an explanation for how Smyth's goal differed from the 0ne he had waved off. Rod said he thought it should count but wants Mr. McGeough and crew to explain the call. Hockey's TJ Hooker is all about showmanship, why not put him in front of the press for some splainin? MLB Umps go before the press.

Like I said the other day, that goal was probably payback for the disallowed Moreau goal. Just don't count McGeough to admit it.

More on showmanship
I dig they way the Oilers emerge from that stainless steel doored bunker as they make their grande entrance. I wonder if they have to go through a series of doors and phone booths like Maxwell Smart to get to that final vault door. The erector set oil derrick is a bit silly, but I like stylish entrance and promenade.

Now put it away and move on
Most of the hockey world sees Saturday's game as a tipping point. More rightly said, they will it to be a tipping point. The hockey gods must be appeased. Cain't have no redneck hockey winnin' no Cup. Alan Adams at FSN says tonight is a "true must win" game for the Hurricanes-as opposed to a false must win, eh? It ain't no must win for the Canes, let alone a "true" must win. However, it may well be a must win for the Oil.

All right boys, it's us against the world time again. Adjustments have been made. The edge will be back after the way game three ended. Controlled agression, eye of the tiger, yada yada. Worst case scenario, Oilers win, Whyte Ave rocks, we see more breastusus and the boys get to one more chance to crush 'em at Rexall.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Gone to recital

He's in Deeper than Hull!!!
Only saw about 15 minutes of the first period last night. You see, it was dance recital night here in the Old Pueblo, and my youngest was in act three of a four part, "four seasons" themed program. Dance recitals are like swim meets. You sit for hours just to watch your kid in the spotlight for around three minutes. She was great, they did a number to the old Queen song, Crazy little thing called love. Beat the hell out of all the hip hop, bump and grind garbage the teenagers were doing.

This was her second recital-the other one was in Raleigh a few years ago. At both, half the program was the instructors and select dancers doing multiple numbers. Yeah, I get it, you all can dance. You can do ballet and jazz, and you can wallow around on the floor to depressing chick music...But I'm there to see my little Diva, and I don't like having to wait until the third quarter for her three minutes of stardom!!!!

Keeping up with a game your team is losing on a Crackberry takes a lot of the pain away. No visuals, no JD fluff- just the stats. Looks like Smyth's goal was kind of payback karma for the disallowed earlier goal.

No recitals planned for Monday. Game four on.

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Lesson in History

Great piece on game three in 2002 from Luke DeCock. Makes you wonder why others at the N&O still get top billing.

Cousin Ned has a new playmate

Welcome to the Hurricane Hater Club Mr. Al Strachan!

Cousin Ned's new best friend has joined the Carolina-no-deserva-hockey Operaman chorus with a new post on Canoe. Here's a snip:

"Like the Devils, the Hurricanes are a team without a town. Their arena is located in the open countryside a few miles from Raleigh, and they are designated as belonging to Carolina. When fans are as scarce as they are for this team, you wouldn't want to limit yourself to only one state."

In the open countryside, next to a division one college football stadium, a couple of office complexes, restaurants...and it's bracketed by freeways, a state fairground, and a catholic high school. The RBC is closer to downtown Raleigh than Scotiabank Place is to downtown Ottawa. But Al's readers in Kamloops need not know that level of detail. It kind of waters down the snark appeal of his story.

Read on if you haven't heard it all before...

Would You Believe?

Been meaning to follow up on my Gorgeous Georges Laraque "scream" (H/T to mc79), but with the Blogger meltdown, had to stew on it a bit. Mike Chen has this quote attributed to MacT:

"He's the guy that's taken our goalie out, so you know our players, obviously, if you get the chance to finish your check on Ladd, you are going to do that," MacTavish said.

To quote Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows (Richard Manuel is Dead, from Hard Candy), "You put your girl up on a pedestal, they you wait for her to fall." I admired how Coach Mac handled the Roloson injury, but covering the six of a guy who has taken two game misconduct boarding penalties in two of the last three playoff series is stupid, bordering negligent. Merge this false leadership B/S with his team's horrible discipline in game two and his mishandling of his Conkannens, and you you've got a coach who rises to prime candidacy for the Adams Award-The Don Adams Award. That's the award that goes to the NHL coach who, "...missed it by that much." And Coach Mac has no "99" to turn to in this series.

It takes a lot for DLee to get worked up, but he and Chris at PK are screaming and dropping rule book excerpts as well.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Tough Day for Mr. Zarqawi and Stand by for Today's Blogger Crash

Good morning Mr. Zarqawi...
This is your 500 lb, laser guided, high explosive, you pissed the Jordanians off by bombing their wedding party, wake up call.
Rot in Hell beatch.

Blogger is a beatch as well. Looks like we're headed for another "database problem."

Image from CNN

Why I Love Hockey Players Part IV

I've been seeing this guy on SportsCenter at the French Open. He's Rafael Nadal, the teenage tennis sensation from Spain. As you can see, Rafael wears capri pants to compete in sports. Even Mike Ribeiro could kick his pansy ass.

I think we'll see this new style become all the rage at the upcoming World Cup of soccer. That's a sport perfectly suited for capri pants.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Third Period WWF at the RBC

Why didn't the Oil equipment manager just hand Georges Laraque the folding chair and let him use that on Andrew Ladd? Wouldn't have been more dramatic if Ethan Moreau could have just jumped off the top of the penalty box and hit Glen Wesley with that sucker punch to the throat? I guess there just wasn't time to script a proper Wrestlemania.

MacTavish sends a message to Conklin and the team by playing the Juicy card tonight, and Kaboom! Most goals weren't on Juicy, but a five spot is a five spot. I think he's got to come back with Juicy just so he's got Ty as the last reserve. Maybe that joke about the Oil dressing out Floyd Whitney isn't so crazy after all.

Seriously, that crap out of Dredy Locks Laraque was absolute thuggery. He takes a run at Wallin's legs then boards Andrew Ladd when the boy's head is down. And the Canes take it? You're up five goals and nobody takes a shot at Moreau? That's the only bittersweet thing about tonight for me. The Canes played the game right start to finish. They blocked shots, played great team defense, created great shot opportunities, Cam was the man, and they kept their discipline...too much friggin' discipline. Somebody, or a lot of somebodys should have jumped Laraque after he mugged Ladd - especially after his run at Wallin. Was Commie out on that shift? I kinda thought that was why Tverdovsky got some late ice time. I'm sure they wanted him out there as an enforcer just in case something like this happened...

All right it's only game two. Days off and a brand new series in a brand new building on Saturday. Oil are a proud team. Can't count on them completely losing discipline again.

Want a great read?
Check out this live blogging at Covered in Oil. Here's a snip from around 8pm:

Please don't let them score again. If they score again, we're going to
think about Conklin. All I want is for the game to end, and for no one important
to get hurt. Oh, and if someone could remove my male-parts, so as they can stop
getting kicked, I would appreciate it. Man breasts are a small price to pay for
not experiencing this kind of pain.

Oil bloggers are kind of the Anti-SaberFan. They have a gallows humor that is hilarious and refreshing.

If you're not cheating, you're not trying

Bob McKenzie has a piece on the TSN site today that looks at the Oil goaltending issue and alleged cheating in the faceoff circle by our venerable Warchief. Here's a snip:

Horcoff had a real nasty exchange with one of the linesmen in Game 1, and some
video will be put together for the NHL and its officials on what they believe to
be Brind'Amour's 'cheating.'

"Some video will be put together...?" By whom? At who's command? Will the video put itself together? Smacks a bit of early stage whining. So we go from admiring Coach MacTavish's handling of the Roloson injury setback, only to find he's going Narc on Roddy?

A few words to live by, embraced by generations of Naval Aviators - "If you're not cheating, you're not trying." Learn the subtle nuances of the game at this level young master Horcoff, and you may well be rewarded with a career rivalling that of Cap'n Rod. You start showing up the linesman and refs, and you may well end up taking that borderline diving penalty at a very inopportune moment.

Game Two at a Glance
I think the Oil will take some runs at Cam Ward. I don't think Georges Laraque will be sent out on a Jeff Gillooly mission. The Oil were successful early in game one when dumping the puck deep and smashing up Frankie Kaberle and AWard at the end boards. Look for more of the same. Expect to see Ryan Smyth's sweaty mullet parked in front of Cam a lot tonight as well.

The Canes need to play puck control, nasty forecheck from the opening faceoff, and keep their poise in their own end. We now know Cam can make the amazing saves when necessary. Now he needs to concentrate on not letting in the cheapies (like the Hecht goal in game seven). I'd love to see Eric Staal re-emerge as a force tonight. That would bode well for the Canes and maybe force the Oil to keep Pronger on the ice well into the 30 minute TOI range.

I'm going to be watching Andrew Ladd real close on every shift. Should be some action around him don't ya think? I'll also be watching Mark Recchi. I really want to see him get into a Ray Whitney-type groove before it's all over.

No Cardinal Ximinez re-set today. We're still at six things.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bear Down Arizona Softball

Just a quick sidestep this SCF to recognize the 2006 NCAA National Champion Arizona Wildcat softball team. Tennessee's coach called them the New York Yankees of college softball. Never a Yankee fan, I'd like to think of them more as a big Red (and Blue) Machine.

The Calm in the Center of a Storm

Respect today for Oil coach Craig MacTavish and his squad. The Oil aren't outwardly blaming anybody for last night's third period meltdown. They're not calling out Andrew Ladd or the Hurricanes, they're not blaming puck bounces, crippling injuries or bad officiating. MacTavish is keeping it in the family, and his boys are toeing the company line. Yeah, I'm sure there was hell to pay last night and at practice today for the breakdowns in the third period, but Coach Mac is taking care of business away from a reporter's microphone or spiral pad. His quote on the CBC Website:

"You never win a Stanley Cup without overcoming some adversity along the way,
and so far to this point, we haven't had to overcome a lot. When you get
to the finals, you've got to overcome some of that."

That's the way to run a hockey club. If the Oil come back, it will be because they've kept their composure and found a way to turn adversity into opportunity.

Now the Oil look at film too. Much as the Canes came out with a plan to clamp down on Pronger's rips on the PP, the Oil will make adjustments. Look for them to get physical and try and knock the Canes off stride a la Buffalo in game two. They'll probably run at Cam and try to instigate in an effort to get the Canes to take bad retaliation penalties. Keep your cool Laddie, Commie and KAdams. There's a storm a comin.

Random Game One Takes

The Oilers were clearly the better team last night...until they weren't.

Before the game yesterday, I thought about wrtiting a post to break the series down in real simple terms. If the Canes roll Rollie-Canes win. If Rollie gets on a roll-Oil win. Before he was hurt, Roloson was just not all that. Cam Ward was. Edge Canes with or without Roloson in the Oil lineup.

The Hurricanes came out clumsy and indecisive. Thank God for Glen Wesley. When all others lose their head, he's rock solid. Fantastic penalty kills by the boys.

I saw a quote from Ryan Smyth where he was glad to get the series going because the Oil were starting to brawl amongst themselves at practice. They came out like they'd been living on Jolt Cola for that past two weeks. Frankie Kaberle was definitely hearing footsteps last night.

Has anybody seen Eric Staal? Where'd the kid run off to? Four shots on goal for the game-none in the third.

Mark Recchi is still squeezing the stick a bit tight. His blind-guy-with-a-cane-crossing-a-cattle-guard drive with the puck right into Roloson's pads shows he's still strung pretty tight.

Andrew Ladd is becoming a nightmare for opposition defensemen. Not sure I'd blame Bergeron too much on the play that took out Roloson. I'm sure he saw Ladd's awkward rush and thought he had to either knock him to the side or risk an off balance Ladd plowing his goalie straight away.

Chris Pronger is the difference-maker on D. When he's off the ice, the Oil are just not the same team. He's nasty in the crease and poised with the puck to start the breakout. The Canes did a good job of denying him quality slappers on the PP.

Wake Up Call
I read a great book a few years ago called An Army at Dawn, by Rick Atkinson. It's about the U.S. Army fighting across North Africa during 1942-43. In the book Atkinson says it took the Army getting their asses kicked around for awhile to make them start to hate the Germans. Once they had been embarrassed enough to hate Rommel's boys they started to get the upper hand. Now "hate" in this sense is a bit strong, and hockey is not war. The analogy is just meant to make the point that the Hurricanes just seem to need to get knocked around a little before they bring their "A" game. It took two games vs. Montreal. It took a period and three minutes vs. the Oil.

Monday, June 05, 2006

"...the worst team the Oilers have played..."

Bravo Zulu to DLee for going high ground in this latest CBC Roundtable. Nice how they picked up the Mudcrutch salvo to tease the spot on the home page.

Couple of snips:

Muddy: I'm sure that this will be thrown back at me by
someone if Edmonton somehow blows this, but Carolina is easily the worst team
that the Oilers have played in the playoffs.

Muddy Part Deux: Whether Edmonton wins or not will
come down to the hockey gods, of course. Oiler fans have created a decided edge
with those particular deities, though - we've been providing them with burnt
offerings following every game, while in Carolina the fans apparently return
home without so much of a hint of praise for the hockey gods cleverly disguised
as civil unrest. That's going to come home to bite them. Edmonton wins Cup No.
6. Carolina fans will have to console themselves with the fact that they still
have public phone booths.

Like I said in the negative reinforcement post, the jig is up and we ought to just disappear back into the shadows now. Statistical gyrations and burt offerings are what win Stanley Cups. So unless we find a fatted calf or sheep right quick, the Canes are doomed I say, DOOOOOMED!!!

Negative Reinforcement

Despair you Carolina Hurricanes. You upstart mutt castoffs of more pedigreed NHL franchises. You high first round draft picks that should rightly be playing in Toronto or Boston instead of Raleigh. You grizzled veterans who've dared mock tradition to sign with a team that dared to abandon cozy little hockey-mad Hartford for Greensboro. You stand no chance against a storied Edmonton Oiler franchise backed by a legacy of Stanley Cups and the very gods of hockey themselves. You play in a market undeserving of professional hockey. Your own media mocks and patronizes your fans with articles on hockey buzzwords and what to wear to look the part. Your own media (exceptions being Luke DeCock and the 850 crew) thinks you are but a spring-time blip on the radar.

So go ahead and tank. It's the right thing to do. You've had a nice little run, but seriously, it needs to end now. Nobody is watching anyway. Global sports media are fixated on South Beach Shaq and Mark Cuban, A-Rod, TO and on the start of the World Cup of diving and momentary catastrophic injuries.

Just act like you're frustrated and perplexed by the relentless Oilers attack. Glide around with your heads down and your sticks across your knees and look like it really hurts to lose 4-1. You are just not worthy. Hell, even the monkey has picked against you. It's time for folks in North Carolina to get back to thinking about NASCAR, hating Herb (kinda harder to do now, eh?) and harvesting tobacco...And don't even get the media started on the evils of tobacco.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Pig Pile on Cousin Ned

I was gonna let my fellow Hurricane bloggers tell this tale...until I read this Ned Barnett line in an Edmonton Sun piece:

Not that there aren't hockey fans here. But not in the sense of fans who know
much about hockey or even attempt to do so.

He's great copy isn't he? Possible reasons for Cousin Ned's take:
1. He want's to be edgy and controversial so his blather might land him a job outside Raleigh.
2. He thinks he's fulfilling that journalists role of "talking truth to power."
3. He's ignorant about hockey and we all know ignorance breeds contempt.
4. All of the above.

Tonight, he'll get to the RBC early. He'll use the special entrance just for journalists and take the special elevator up into pigeon heaven. His first stop off the elevator will be the buffet line where he'll chow down on chips and those little egg rolls. Eventually he'll waddle over to his special place on journalists row. He'll kibitz with his fellow journalists and pretend to watch the contest while he talks Star Trek and American Idol with Jerry Sullivan. When it's all over, he'll take some free grub for the road and exit in the same fashion as he entered, never having the occasion to run into any Hurricane fans. Then he'll go home to his laptop in his mother's basement, consult the Manatees (South Park reference) and write tomorrow's column. Ahhhh, brilliance at work!!!

Hey Caniacs. If you have the opportunity to run into this clown at the local adult video store or Toys R Us, please tell him what hockey fans think of his snotty little drivel.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Fodor's Guide to Edmonton

Edmonton-Birthplace of Wicked Hot Nazi Chick-Hockey!
My Canic blogger colleagues have done a nice job of introducing Raleigh, the Triangle and Southern culture to the faithful of our playoff opponents. Last round, Sabers fans were treated to a primer on North Carolina Barbeque from DLee. As we get ready to start the Stanley Cup finals, Oiler fans have been greeted warmly by Her Majesty who also went so far as to provide an insiders guide to procuring the cheap liquor Canuck Hooligans need to fuel their little rioting habit. The Penalty Killer also offered some sage Rodney King-type advice on how we can all just get along.

For you Hurricane fans, I've done a little research and put together this little primer on Edmonton. The two most import ingredients in winning an NHL championship...to some...from Buffalo...and the Northeast...and large swaths of Canada...are culture and sports heritage. Call this the attention deficit hockey fan's edition of Fodor's Guide to Edmonton.

Edmonton is the cultured capital of the Province of Alberta-and what culture they got. More culture than a bucket full of yogurt. Each year, millions of the world's most irritating mime's flock to Edmonton for the annual Street Performers Festival. Yes, a full week of great mime classics like, "Ooh, I'm stuck in a box and can't get out," and don't forget that classic, "Look, I'm climbing a rope!" And of course, we're all looking forward to the ever popular, " I really didn't suck that bad when the Islanders unloaded me."

Sports Heritage
Even before the now storied Edmonton Oilers joined the NHL, a rich hockey tradition thrived in the land of oil fires and Ozone depleting bovine methane. Few hockey historians realize the impact the Edmonton Swastikas (pictured above) had on the fevered mass of Aryan emigre Edmontonians. One nasty bunch of nationalist-socialist ruffian feminists, these gals were. Today, Oilers fans carry on that great swastika tradition with ritual burnings and pillaging. Yes, it's Oilers Uber Alles on Whyte Avenue even today!

Building a Playoff Beast

While we await Monday night, I wanted to take a moment to look back on how PK, JR, and Lavvy built these '05/'06 Carolina Hurricanes. Glen Wesley was acquired by the Whale from the Bruins in 1994 for a number of guys including a pick that became Sergei Samsonov in 1997. In the late 1990's the 'Canes shot blanks in the entry draft picking up David Tanabe in 1999, no first rounder in 2000, and Igor Knyazev in 2001.

In 2000, Roddy joined the Hurricanes in deal that sent Keith Primeau to Philly. JR built the 2002 Cup finals team by adding Award, Bret Hedican, Kevyn Adams, and Kevin Weekes for picks and guys who have since disappeared (Shane Willis), floundered on the waiver wire (Chris Dingman) or fell off the wagon (Sandis Ozolinsh). After the 2002 Cup run, the Hurricanes tanked for the next two seasons, but used the occasion of these melt-downs to bring in two stars of the present and one star of the future.

Here's a look at the trades, free agent signings and draft picks since around 2001 that went into creating the Beast of the East:


Hedican & KAdams

Sandis Oh-Nozolinsh, Byron Ritchie
Martin Gerber Tomas Malec and a 3rd
Mike Commodore a 3rd
AWard a 4th
Justin WilliamsDanny Markov (I still miss Danny, but it was worth it, eh?)
CAdamsBruno St. Jacques
Doug WeightJesse Boulerice, Mike Zigomanis, Magnus Kahnberg, and picks
Mark RecchiNiklas Nordgren, Krystofer Kolanos and a 2nd

Free Agents
Matt Cullen
Corey Stillman
Frankie Kaberle
Ray Whitney
Oleg Tverdovsky
Glen Wesley

Thru the Draft
2002 Cam Ward (25th)
2003 Eric Staal(2nd)
2004 Andrew Ladd (4th)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Maven Memories and Razor Rage

Couple days off and time to look for some fresh pickings. The first is not so fresh. I went back and looked at Stan Fischler's pre-set of the Canes/Sabers series. DjMave picked the Sabers in five, gave them the edge in every category except special teams (which he called a draw), called Cam Ward a cardboard goaltender and closed with an Olympics re-set slag on Lavvy. He's now moved on to musing about leadership searches on Long Island.

The other is a bit fresher. H/T to Tom over at Canucks Corner for the lead on Stars broadcaster Darryl Reaugh's rant about the Doug Weight boarding call in game six. Woa! The Razor pulls no punches. No soup for you Jason Pominville! It's a must read.

OBTW--Props to Tripp
I knew that Harvard education would come to Tripp's aid eventually. His analysis at Lord Stanley's Blog the past few weeks has been solid. No mention of his groins to date...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wheeew...not Wooo, Wooo Hooo!!!!

Red and Black Mojo?
David, did you have a sign tonight that read, "My Beard Believes?" I did a double take in the third when the camera panned the stands and I saw what I'm sure was your memorable visage. Right after that, Dougie Weight scored the equalizer. This presumed DLee mojo countered the bad JD mojo of the second period when he described how Lavvy wanted everybody who called him the last few weeks to know he was waiting until after the playoffs to call them back. He was almost making those calls tonight. Immediately after this bit of fluff commentary, the Sabers scored the go ahead goal.

Doug Weight kept his word. He made up for the bad penalty of Tuesday night. To my eyes, the Weight, Ladd, Whitney line was the best Hurricane line tonight.

Roddy's pucker meter was pegged tonight. He admitted as much in the on ice interview after the game. He was tentative all night until he pounced on the lose puck for the game winner. Nice shot at Lindy Ruff in the post-game interview as well. Roddy doesn't make it a habit to call folks out in public. Ruff's theatrics must have really pissed him off.

Spent the last few minutes in Leo Mazzoni mode, rocking back and forth with nervous energy until Justin Williams put it away.

Hail Sabers
Unlike anybody else the Canes have played thus far in these playoffs, these Sabers made you nervous every time they crossed the blueline with the puck. Kovalev made you a bit nervous-ditto Elias, but nearly every Buffalo forward and blueliner (Lydman) made my stomach turn when they had the puck in our end. The Sabers are a bunch of gutsy, opportunistic and skilled warriors. I know it sucks tonight for Buffalo Fan to think what might have been if only they could have sent a full roster to the ice. We were without Erik Cole, but they were missing Teppo, Connelly and a holy host of players and still could easily have won this series. The Sabers are solid with no real rent-a-players in their lineup. They're bitter. Their fans are wicked bitter. They'll be back. Deepest respect to Kevin at BfloBLog for the thoughtful post on a tough night.

No Touchie
Not only did they not touch the Prince of Wales trophy, Roddy huddled them up for a team photo op. Team comes first under the Lavvy/Roddy regime.

In 2002 I was elated when the Canes made it to the Cup finals. In 2006, I remember what a downer it was after game one of those finals. Rest up boys. It's business as usual tomorrow. The Oil went to New York to get ready for the finals. They should fire their travel agent. They're comin' south.

Below The Radar

Here's a guy who's starting to come into his own of late. Andrew Ladd's ice time has basically doubled in this series. He's logging hits and finding his way to the front of the net. His goal of the other night off a rebound caused by his screen of Ryan Miller was Holmstronesque. He's also carrying the puck with more confidence and being smarter about the physical side of his game. Ward and Staal get all the glow as the young bucks, and rightfully so. My gut tells me Ladd is gonna be a factor tonight.

The vets want this so bad that they might be squeezing the stick a little hard tonight. A fresh and fearless kid like Ladd might be the on-ice catalyst that turns that tension into a swagger-Notice I said swagger, not arrogance.

I'm a big fragged with all the head games going into the deciding game of the series. ChampPipplegate, the Doug Weight boarding call re-sets, sniffs of arrogance, I'm numb to it. JP's comment got me thinking that there are two things either team can control and two they can't. The team that demonstrates the best balance of discipline and focused aggression should win. But luck and officiating might more than offset the best on ice effort either team might muster. The two are sooo evenly matched. The perfect storm of factors beyond either team's immediate control might just spell the difference tonight.

Dear Lord,
I'm pretty convinced that while Lindy Ruff might be an ass, he's not the Anti-Christ. I know that in the greater scheme of things, this little contest is but a blip...but but if you find a moment and are so obliged to intercede, please let the playmakers decide this game.
Your humble servants,