Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Going Going Gomez!

Good news, Blueshirt Brothers - the Rangers just unloaded Scott Gomez and opened up a ton of cap space.

Gomez - the former Devil who underachieved here (continuing Bobby Holic's legacy?) - has been shipped off - along with his $7.4 million dollar salary to the Montreal Canadians.
Gomez was the 6th highest paid player in the league last year - and on the Rangers he was a playmaker with no one to pass to. As Nugs said - he often looked incredibly frustrated on the ice - but this will no longer be our problem.

In return the Rangers got Chris Higgins. (There are other minor players involved as well - we will name them later).

Higgins is a 26 year old left winger who had injury trouble last year and scored just 12 goals + 11 assists for 23 points in just 56 games. He's 6'0" and 202 pounds. But the year before - he scored 25 power play goals. And he has a career goals per shots-on-goal of 12% which is better than any Ranger last year. He was edged off the powerplay last year by other Canadian players - so didn't play much there and that's why his production when down.

I'm loving this move. Higgins can step in and help us on the power play - something we really need. And he earns about $1.9 million. Gomez earns $7.3. So we've freed up $5.4 million to go after a big time goal scorer. By my calculations we have something like 8 million in free cap space. Now Slats can actually get something done here.

This is the best news I've heard since our game four win over the Caps. The big question is - how do the Rangers plan to use the extra money? Are we going to land Dany Heatley? Or one of the Marians (Hossa or Gaborik)? Stay tuned.

Rangers make offer to Zherdev

With the draft fully drafted and the salary cap fully capped the Rangers now can devote their full attention to the Free Agents.

Much of the negotiation is done in secret - but we have heard a few rumors:

1 - The Rangers have given "qualifying offers" to several - but not all - of their current restricted free agents.

2 - Fredrik Sjostrom was not given an offer. So I guess this is "Goodbye Freddie".

3 - Nik Zherdev (pictured above) was given an offer.

4 - On the Unrestricted Free Agent front the other Nik (Antropov) has set his asking price much higher than the Rangers think he's worth. This may be the beginning the of the end of the brief Ranger career for the 29 year old Russian veteran - acquired from Toronto for the last 18 games last year., Antropov had 59 points last year combined for his 2 teams, but was minus 14 (but much better than that on the Rangers). He was also known to disappear at times. He did score 2 goals and an assist for us in the playoffs, including (if I remember right) that amazing sliding "queue shot" goal. And his goal-per-shot ratio is over 11 percent - one of our best.

I had said I'd like to keep Antropov - but not at any price. On July 1 his UFA status means he's free to talk to every team - so we are likely on the verge of losing him.

We'll keep following these stories and let you know as soon as we hear anything new. Stay tuned.....

Monday, June 29, 2009

We Have Cap!

One reason it has been so hard for NHL clubs - like the Rangers - to make deals and go after free agents (even our own) is that the NHL had not set the 2009-2010 salary cap yet.

It's hard to negotiate player salary if you don't know how much money you have to spend.

But late last week - along with the draft - the NHL teams sat down and agreed on a cap number. That number is $56.8 million, up a little from last year's $56.7. This gives the Rangers an extra $100,000 to go hunt out some big free agent talent - not a promising war chest.

So where does this leave us?

Well, we know that the already-signed players - including 6.5 million for Redden, 5 million for Rozsival, and 7.3 for Gomez (it's hard to write that). If we just re-sign all our current free agents at last year's salaries (which we can't do), we'd have about $2 million left over (which we won't).

Which means of course, that we'll have to give up some current players if we want to go after anyone new. And can we dump some salary in the process?

In other words - it may be off season for us and the players - but for Glen Sather and associates, this is as busy as it gets. Good luck, Slats.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

"I’m on a good team"

Well, it's good that someone thinks we're a good team. And that someone is the NY Rangers first round pick from Friday's NHL draft, Chris Kreider

It will be a little while before we see much of Chris in the NHL - he's just finished high school and is headed off to Boston college to get some schooling and play some hockey. But we figure Chris will play one or two years at BU at most before turning pro.

Here's a collection of positive quotes from a thrilled Gordie Clark, Director of NY Ranger Player Personnel about the 19th overall draft selection:

  • “This is an elite, elite athlete. He’s elite physically and mentally. He’s ripped. He blew right through the [player evaluation] combine in Toronto.’’

  • “He has [Alexander ] Mogilny-type speed. He’s almost what you’d call a rover out there, he’s so fast. From point A to B, he’s the quickest guy in the draft.

  • "He's the fastest kid in the draft, flat-out. He dominates with speed,"

  • "He can shoot a puck at full speed, and from the top of the circles, which is, that's a sniper range. He gets a lot of breakaways because he's so bloody fast."

Quickness is a key factor in the NHL - it's different than speed (although Kreider has both) - and it's something you can't coach. Quickness in the NHL translates into puck possession - both in keeping the puck when you have it and capturing it from the other team when you don't.

So forgive us for being optimistic about the big, fast, young, quick American forward with the sneaky fast shot. When a player is picked he's all upside and all potential - so what's not to like.

When asked, Chris said he thinks of himself as a speedy Left Winger who crashes the net and creates opportunities.

Our Rangers seem to have handled this part of the draft very well. They never tipped their hand about Kreider to anyone - so no other team scooped him up first. In fact - they never contacted Chris at all so that he wouldn't be able to mention the Ranger's interest to anyone. In fact Chis thought the Rangers weren't interested and was surprised and thrilled when his name was called.

So well done Slats - and welcome Chris Kreider to the Blueshirt Brotherhood.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Draft Day: We Called It

We listed 4 possible first round picks for the Rangers - and they ended up picking one of those four:

With the 19th pick the NY Rangers selected Chris Kreider. He's American, a great skater, a big guy, with a great shot and a scoring touch.

Official stats:

  • Plays Center and Left Wing
  • 6'2"
  • Weighs 201
  • Scored 56 points in 26 games last year

He's a high schooler with plenty of upside. He's known for real quickness (which is different from speed) and the ability to create turnovers.

We're very happy with the pick over here at Blueshirt Brothers. Nugman's one negative is that Kreider is reportedly a Red Sox fan.

  • Our 2nd pick was Ethen Werek, a 6-1 forward who scored 32 goals (that's goals, not points) last season.
  • And our 3rd pick - the 80th overall was Ryan Bourque
  • At 127 we took the Czech player: Roman Horak, a 6'0" 198 pound center.
  • At 140 we took a goalie: Scott Stajcer

More to come....

Friday, June 26, 2009

Off Topic

You know - I don't ever like to go off topic here - but the entire world seems to be focused on one story today - not the NHL draft - not the violent government repression in Iran - but rather: the accidental death of a formerly popular singer-dancer named Michael Jackson.

I can see how the entertainment media - like the E channel - would be all over this story. But why is a cable news channel like MSNBC devoting round the clock coverage to what they call "a developing story"? A developing story? Forgive me, but the man died yesterday and he's still dead today - so not much development to the story.

On MSNBC this morning - a reporter was talking about how amazing it was that Micheal Jackson and Michael Jordon were both huge popular icons at the same time and both had the initials MJ.
What? This is a professional news network observation? We're tuning in to hear this?
And again - forgive me of speaking ill of the dead - but professionally I thought he peaked at age 11. And with his alleged mis-appropriate behavior with children - his public drug addictions - his attempted facial reconstruction and skin lightening - and emphasis of dance over music - I found him to be a terrible role model and someone not worth the public adulation he receives in both life and death. I'm not making light of his demise - I realize he was a real person with family and friends - but I don't understand the wall-to-wall media coverage.

But enough - with this post I am now officially part of the problem.

To get back on track:

Today in Montreal is the NHL draft. And we've heard two rumors:

Rumor 1 - That the Rangers are shopping to unload two overpaid players. I'm sure you can guess which ones:

Wade Redden? In the words of the late Ed McMahon: You are correct, sir.

Scott Gomez? Once again, yes. No surprises there - and actually some relief on my part that Glen Sather sees what we see. That's good news.

Rumor 2 - The Rangers are trying to get in the hunt for Dany Heatly with Ottawa.

That's all we have for now. Back later.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Draft Tomorrow

The Hockey world is gathering in Montreal for tomorrow's NHL draft. With the weather hot and humid here in New York today - that actually sounds kind of nice. But we'll be there in spirit - willing the Rangers to make some good choices and help the hockey club.

The Rangers have the 19th overall pick. Followed by the 47th, 80th, 127th, 140th, 151st, 170th, and 200th. That's no fourth rounders and a couple of 5th rounders.

After the draft - next Monday a kind of rookie camp opens - the development center - which will feature our new draft picks and other top Ranger prospects.

Most of the draft choices end up in the minor leagues - so the NHL draft - like Baseball's draft is less of an immediate deal than the NFL's is. In other words - no one we select tomorrow is like to be much help next year. Still, you never know - and some day many these picks will be playing for the New York Rangers - so it's always worth a look.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In The Hall!

Just yesterday we were talking about the ongoing link between the New York Rangers and US-born players. One great example of a US-born Ranger player - Brian Leetch - was selected yesterday as the first ever USA-American defenseman to be inducted into the NHL hall of fame. And we couldn't be happier for the long time Ranger star and former team captain.

Leetch played 17 amazing years for the New York Rangers and may have been the best all-around defenseman ever to wear the Blue Jersey. In addition to his defensive skills, Leetch was a big asset to team on offense as well. He is a first-ballot all time Ranger defenseman on the Blueshirt Brothers all time list.

Brian was part of the legendary 1994 squad that brought the Stanley Cup back to MSG. And as we remember - it was Leetch - not Mark Messier or Adam Graves or Mike Richter - who won the 1994 Conn Smythe trophy as the most valuable player in the 94 playoffs. And once again - to this day - Brian is the only United States born player to ever earn that award.

Joining Brian in this years selections to the NHL Hall of Fame are Brett Hull, Steve Yezerman, and Luc Robitaille. As you hopefully remember, Luc wore Ranger blue for two seasons (95-96 and 96-97) and holds the all time record for goals by a left winger: with 668.

It's a great day for the Rangers - with one exception - Mike Richter - the Ranger goalie who won us the cup - was passed over for the Hall of Fame for the 2nd straight year. We're still pulling for you Mike.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Feel A Draft Coming

Can't you feel it? The NHL draft is quickly approaching. It arrives on Friday - June 26th - with a whole lot less fanfare than NFL football's draft or even basketball's. One of the main reasons the NHL draft is not such a big deal is that the players picked will dissappear into the minor leagues - so it may be a while before we hear from any of these guys again (if ever).

Anyway, the Glen Sather Brain Trust (or maybe we should just say the Glen Sather Trust) will be looking at potential draft choices and trying make picks to help their hockey club.

Of course - this is the same player evaluation team that thought it would be a good idea to lock up Wade Redden for a few years at 6.5 million per.

The Rangers - a playoff team – are slotted at 19th and so they will have to wait a while before making their first section. What we need of course is what everybody needs - a big goal scorer who changes the game each time he touches the puck.

The top goal scoring picks are supposed to be Brian Glennie and Zack Kassian – and are also supposed to be long gone when it’s our turn so forget about them. When it finally is our turn, I’m betting we snag either:

Carter Ashton – a 6’3” 205 pound left winger who went 30-20-50 in a 70 game season

Or, since the Rangers have a history of picking USA players when they can:

Center Jeremy Morin, a NY native in the US Development program who is supposed to have a goal scoring touch. Or,

Chris Kreider, a 6’2” 202 pound left winger from Massachusetts- the powerhouse skater who in 26 games went 33-23-56. Or,

Kyle Palmeri, 5’10” 191 pound Center from New Jersey who went 15-15-30 for the US Development Program.

Of course, like the NFL, teams can trade up, trade down, or do nothing. I'm no draft expert - but my bet is that Slats will take that third option.

I hope I'm wrong.

And in any event – none of these players are likely to help us next year, but maybe someday…

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ranger Roster Review: Chris Drury

Chris Drury
Position: LW
Status: Signed
Salary: $7,050,000
Age: 32
Regular season:
Games Played: 81
Goals (22) + Assists (34 ) = 56 Points
Plus Minus: (-8)
Penalties in Minutes: 32
Goals-per-Shot = 22/219 = 10.0%

Games Played: 6
Goals (1) + Assists (0) = 1 Points
Plus Minus: (-5)
Penalties in Minutes: 2
Goals-per-Shot = 1/5 = 20%

It hurts me to write this.

Okay - let's start with the positives. Drury is a very good hockey player. He had leadership skills on and off the ice. His effort level is always right where you'd want it to be. The New York Rangers could do much much worse than having a man like Chris Drury as team captain. Drury is a great asset to the team. He makes everyone around him better. He plays hurt. He leaves it all it on the ice.

But - and this is the hard part - that's not the whole story.

Now, I wouldn't look too hard at his playoff stats this year (one goal, minus 5) because he was playing hurt - badly hurt with an injury that affected his ability to hold the stick and shoot. Chris Drury is pretty close to the top of the Rangers leaderboard in points. He gets goals and assists. His 10 percent goals per shots-on-goal average is very good. He's a major contributor to the hockey team.

On offense I would call him a good player- but not an elite player.

The problem is - the Rangers are paying him like an elite player.

Drury makes more than 7 million a year. That's more than Lundqvist. And it matters because hockey has a salary cap. And every extra dollar we throw at Chris Drury is one we can't throw at a real sniper - a lights out goal scorer - the one thing the Rangers don't have and are suffering without.

So - as much as we like Drury - and as much as he helps the Rangers - if another team wanted him in a trades - or even to take him and pay his salary - we would have to give that offer a good hard look.

I will say this - Drury produces - and he is not the main problem - the Rangers are getting far more talent-per-dollar with Chris than they are with several other absurdly high paid players on the team.

But reluctantly - if the Rangers could trade their captain to get a legitimate strike-fear-into-their opponents top-line goal scorer - I'd have to say yes. Of course - the Rangers gave Drury a no-trade clause in his contract - so in all likelihood we'll have Chris around for a long time.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Avery on Fallon - part 2 - "Not The Monster"

Continuing our discussion of Sean Avery on the Jimmy Fallon show - they spoke briefly about Career Gear - the charity Sean participates in. As the audience applauded the charity - Sean said this:

"I'm not the total monster everyone thinks I am."

Another telling moment from our man Sean. He didn't say it to the audience - he spoke over applause to say it to Fallon. He still does see himself as misunderstood and set upon - not the cause of all of his own troubles. And I think Fallon blew it here by not following up. It's a very strong provocative statement by Avery and Jimmy Fallon just fanned on it.

Later, Avery alluded to the anger management help he's gotten, saying:

"Pre coming back to New York I had a little bit of a short fuse and I worked on some things."

And again Fallon blew it - going too quickly to the joke and not helping the audience understand what Sean was talking about. Avery in an anger management class would be an interesting thing to know about - but Jimmy F. let that puck get by also.

I did like when Sean called the Rangers "home".

But overall it was strange, disjointed interview. A missed opportunity for us to learn more about one of our favorite Rangers.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sean Avery on Fallon's Show - why the first 5 seconds told us everything

Our man Sean Avery paid a visit to Jimmy Fallon last week. For those of you who are either drinking (like Nugman) or sleeping (like Dave Pucks) at that hour - Jimmy Fallon's show comes on at 12:30am on NBC. It used to be Conan O'Brien's time slot - but he moved an hour earlier into what used to be Jay Leno's slot. Now Jay Leno is also moving forward to 10 pm in the fall. It's almost like NBC is switching time zones.

Anyway - Sean's appearance was mighty odd and very interesting. In fact - let me just talk about the first five seconds:

Just coming out from behind the curtain - at the moment Fallon is expecting to shake hands - Sean fakes a punch at Jimmy, making him flinch. What a way to start. I think someone like Sean would see someone like Fallon as weak - like not a classic tough guy male. And Sean would want to establish dominance right away and throw Jimmy off - which is exactly what he did. So Avery approached the interview as combat and began by psyching Jimmy out.

It's a lot like the way Sean plays hockey - as a mind game - trying to get an advantage. It also shows something of Avery's view of the world:

Sean almost lost his hockey career over a remark he made to the media - putting two words together ("sloppy" and "seconds") that are harmless on their own - but together are now considered something of an anti-female slur. In Sean's head it was a joke to make fun of an opposing hockey player and a ex-girlfriend - but it started a chain of events that got him suspended - off the Dallas Stars and eventually back to our NY Rangers (bringing so much joy to Pucks and Nugs that we started up this blog)

Anyway - given Avery's history with the media, an interview show where he could be asked any question could be stressful and a risk for Sean. So his reaction - when feeling threatened and out of his comfort zone - in Fallon's territory - was to fake a punch - intimidate Fallon and establish Sean as the top dog in the room.

Strange way to start - but 100 percent Sean Avery - revealing the exact kind of aggressive, combative, instinctive behavior that always seems to get Sean in trouble.

All in all - a very revealing five seconds of Sean's life.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Blueshirt Brothers Playoff Picks Championship: We Have A Winner!

This year Nugman and I had a one-on-one playoff picks competition. Since Nugman is our hockey guy and I'm the endless fluff and comedy relief guy - the pressure was on Nugs all the way. We awarded points as follows:

+1 point for picking the correct winner
+1 extra point for picking the correct number of games with the winner
+1 point for coming closer to the right pick than the other guy.

Okay - so through the first round - dead even. 3 points each.

In the 2nd round - 6 points each. Still tied.

And then - in the 3rd round - I (Dave Pucks) jumped out to a big one point lead. And for the finals I had - Red Wings in 6. Nugman had the Penguins in 6.

When Detroit won the first 2 games I felt pretty good. When they won game 5 I still felt good. Going into game seven I was still feeling okay.

But, of course, the Penguins won. And with that victory - Nugman gets one point for picking the winner and another point for coming closer than I did in the number of games. And that catapults Nugs from one point behind - to a one point victory.

So Nugman takes the first annual Blueshirt Brothers Playoff Picks Championship. And while Crosby hoists the Stanley Cup, Nugs can raise his Scooby Doo plastic mug for a job well done.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ranger Roster Review: Blair Betts

You always hear about players whose contribution doesn't show up in the box score. The Ranger's Blair Betts, coming off a 10 point season at age 29, is the perfect example of that concept. The stats don't tell us much at all:

Blair Betts
Position: C
Age: 29
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 210
Shoots: Left

Regular Season
Games: 82
Goals (6) + Assists (4) = 10 Points
Plus-Minus: -5
6 Goals/ 83 Shots (on goal) = 7.2%

Games: 6
Goals (0) + Assists (0) = 0 Points
Plus-Minus: -1
0 Goals/ 1 Shots (on goal) = 0.0%

Salary: $615,000
Current Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

10 Points is not impressive for a center. But, it's not Blair's goals or his assists that make him stand out. Betts excels on the Penalty Kill.

It's a thankless job. Because when you do it perfectly - absolutely nothing happens. And when you do make a mistake - a very loud buzzer goes off - your goalie hangs his head - and an arena full of people start booing.

(Imagine if your job was like that. What if your office cubicle was in the middle of Madison Square Garden and you had to work 9 to 5 in those conditions. Report overdue? BUZZ! BOO!)

And the Penalty Kill unit is hell on your plus-minus. No matter how good you are - you're going to get outscored when you're a man down.

The only box score stat where the penalty kill shows up is the opponent’s power play goal average. And the Rangers had the best in hockey last season. It’s the one statistical area the team was a standout.

Of course, as Nugman said - the PK special teams can't be a team strength - you can't root for your own team to get penalized - but it sure did help us win a lot of hockey games.

And this is what Blair Betts brings to the Rangers - league leading penalty kill ability. And when the Caps headhunter - the thug Brashear went looking for a Ranger target - who did he pick? Not Zherdev. Not Drury. Not Gomez. It was Blair Betts that Brashear went after - fracturing his orbital bone and ending his season (and the Ranger's season along with it).

And it didn't take long for Blair Betts' absence to be felt. A few minutes later the Rangers PK unit - now minus Betts - failed and the Caps converted a power play - and the tide turned - for the game and the series. To put this another way - The Rangers were up 3-2 in the series when Betts was injured - so he is the only Ranger with a winning playoff record this past season.

Not long ago I was able to ask a certain reporter - who sees the Rangers on a daily basis - if Slats and Torts "get it" about how valuable Betts is. I was assured that the Rangers do get it about Betts - which is good news.

Now we just have to re-sign him - he's an unrestricted free agent - so we should get this done as soon as possible. Because Betts is the best role player - and best special teams player on the Rangers. I'm assuming they'll have to bump him up from his current $615,000 - but we're still talking bargain prices compared to the value per dollar of some other players on the roster.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I Sid You Not

Man, it sure is tough trying to like Sidney Crosby. I mentioned a while back that the thought of seeing Sidney hoist up that beloved Stanley Cup is something of a nightmare scenario for me - and now, of course, it came true.

Why do I feel this way? I know Sid is only 21 - not the most mature age. But I hate the way the guy handles himself. Sid had an underachieving Stanley Cup finals - and was saved by the play of those around him - Malkin and Fleury to name two - and many others. So if I were Sid I wouldn't be presenting myself as the savior of the Pittsburgh Penguins. And I wouldn't be treating the Stanley Cup as some kind of personal vindication of my own greatness.

And according to several members of the Detroit Red Wings - Sidney's bad behavior as an insufferable ego-centric Stanley Cup Winner began in the first three minutes of his winning the cup.

A little background: Since the dawn of time - when the first puck was fashioned from whale bone, died black with squid ink, and dropped on the first frozen pond, the NHL has been shaking hands at the end of each playoff round.

It is one of the classiest moments in all of sports - the teams take a moment to respect and acknowledge one another - the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat - respect and tradition at center ice.

So after the wild finish - when the Penguins held a slim 2-1 lead and time expired - the Red Wings hung around - formed a line - and shook hands with most of the Champion Penguins.

But where was Sid? He did a bunch of live interviews - basking in the glow of his no goal - no assist contribution to the 2-1 victory as the Red Wings waiting for him - slowly getting angrier and angrier. Finally, Red Wings Captain Nick Lindstrom had enough. He, and several other Red Wings, feeling snubbed, left the ice and headed to the dressing room. As teammate Kris Draper told the Associated Press:

"Nick was waiting and waiting and Crosby didn't come over to shake his hand. That's ridiculous, especially as their captain, and make sure you write that I said that!"

And when reporters later asked Sidney about it, he had a few comments about it - none of which were in any way apologetic.

"I really don't need to talk to anyone from Detroit about it. I made the attempt to go shake hands.... I just won the Stanley Cup, and I think I have the right to celebrate with my teammates."

But of course all of Crosby’s teammates found the time to shake the hands of the Red Wings. And to be fair, Crosby, after the interviews were all completed did skate over looking for any Red Wings who had waited around for him. And he found several, including Osgood and the Red Wing Coach.

To my knowledge nothing like this has ever happened before - because usually the winning team has the grace to have the cameras wait a few minutes while they show some sportsmanship and sense of tradition and respect to the losing side. And most of the Penguins did show the proper amount of class.

Everyone except Sid.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Just a little something for Monday

With another season finally over, really not much for the Ranger fan to look forward to. It's not that long until next season, but each day Sather has - to further cripple this team - lasts an eternity.

With afternoon baseball complete, I was flipping around yesterday and stumbled upon "Rangers Classics" on MSG. I decided to take a look knowing that there was a 75% chance a "Rangers Classics" game was from the cup run of 1994. They were showing Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, in Vancouver, the Richter save on Bure game. (For those interested, it was 15 years and 8 days ago) Rangers got down 2-0 early in that game (they did that a lot the last two rounds), then stormed back behind great play from Richter, and Conn Smythe winner Brian Leetch. (Leetch scored to make it 2-1, then zubov scored on the power play to tie it, assisted by Leetch and Messier. Leetch would go on to record 2 more assists.....I really miss having a dominant offensive defensive unit)

Anyway, it's monday (assuming I got this post to go out at the proper time), so I just thought I would give everyone a little something to pick up their mood a bit. This clip will never get old.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Panic in Detroit? Not this time

I can't believe it.

I didn't think they had it in them. The Penguins bucked the odds - refused to panic - and made history Friday night.

Pittsburgh's defense (and their offensive puck possession) limited the Red Wings to 6 shots in the first period - 11 in the second - and just 7 in the third. But make no mistake - Fleury faced some big time chances and came up huge when he needed to. Still, he needed the crossbar to lend a hand before it was all over.

Crosby, injured, and not a dominant force at any time in the series - did some of his best skating after the series had ended and he was hoisting (hard for me to write this) the Stanley Cup. I do feel good for Malkin - getting the recognition with the MVP - and the growing realization that he is the difference maker for the Aquatic Birds.

Detroit defensemen Kronwall and Stuart were each -2 for the night - not the way you want to end your season. On the other hand - the Detroit defensemen Lidstrom and Ericcson put up 8 of the Red Wings 24 shots on goal and got an assist on their lone goal.

In their 4 games in Detroit - the Penguins scored 1 goal, 1 goal, zero goals, and then 2 goals in their lone victory. They were outscored in the series 17-14. But none of that matters now.

They got the lone road win. They got just enough to win the game, the series, and Lord Stanley's cup.

As Nugman said - I wish it was our Rangers up there. But it was not to be. And now - with no playoffs to distract us - we're looking at the NHL draft this month - and an offseason where the Rangers will have to get moving if they're going to address some gaping holes in their line up.

Congratulations Malkin and the Penguins. I'm officially bummed. If Henrik Lundqvist couldn't win it - why not Henrik Zetterberg?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pittsburgh pulls it off, Penguins are Champs

The Penguins do what few others (excluding the Nugman) thought they could, and pulled off a tough road victory in Game 7 to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1992. Let the "is Pittsburgh titletown USA?" garbage start at ESPN.

I would comment more on the game....but I watched all of 2 minutes. (Though they were an entertaining 2 minutes) I would claim to be happy about picking the penguins...but I'm not. I didn't really want to see the penguins win....and I didn't want to see the Redwings win...I wanted the Rangers to win. Anything else just seems like a complete travesty and a crime against humanity.

Some quick takes on the game, and future outlook for these teams:

- Evgeni Malkin proved what many have long speculated but rarely talked about, in winning the Conn Smythe as the playoff MVP, people might finally start giving him credit for actually being BETTER than crosby. If I had to rank the best players in the NHL right now, it goes 1) ovechkin, 2) malkin, 3) crosby....and I might have to reconsider crosby at 3, but he is absolutely top 5. But I have no doubts about 1 and 2. Crosby, who had very little impact on the finals, actually only played ONE shift after leaving during the second period after taking a hard hit. Gotta be kind of bitter sweet to have your team win the cup without you contributing all that much.

- Detroit will be fine. They have a great, deep team, and heading into next season will probably still be the best team in the NHL. The best team doesn't always win, it happens, and they were a little too old/injured to deal with a great team in pittsburgh.

- Pittsburgh will be....a dynasty? No team in the NHL is set to be incredibly competitive over the next 5 years, like the penguins, except MAYBE the capitals. With Staal, Crosby, Malkin and I believe Fleury all locked up, they have a young, incredibly talented, playoff tested group, that will now have the swagger of being defending champions. Fleury delivered a big Game 7 performance, following a strong Game 6, which he should be able to draw on for years to come, and the penguins can honestly say they won a cup without crosby at his best. It's really an awful feeling. As good as I felt about the Giants after they beat the patriots, is EXACTLY how I feel about the penguins.

After the Giants won the superbowl, most "experts" picked them to go 7-9, to miss the playoffs (despite having made it the previous 3 years, something only one other NFC team had done, now 4 years, the longest streak in the NFC), and annointed them a fluke.....because they were stupid. They didn't look at how young the giants were at so many key positions. Specifically a dominant young defense, a mix of young and veteran receiving core, a YOUNG, Super Bowl MVP QB. Everything about the Giants said, this team may not be the BEST in the NFC, but they will be one of the top 2 or 3 teams in the NFC for 4-5 years to come. First year results? 12-4 and 1 seed in the NFC.

The penguins, it's the same thing. They may not be the best in the NHL, but I do feel they are absolutely the favorite in the east, if they are not the best in the east, they are at least a top 2-3 team for the next 4-5 years, and come playoff time, they have arguably 2 of the top 3 players in the league to put up some big games and make a hard push for the cup. They now have a proven, championship goalie. I hate to say it, but anyone that bets against pittsburgh winning the east next year is making a VERY poor bet....and it doesn't look good for the rangers, or their fans, who are tied to a team that has more money locked up than the current defending champs.

- How rare was pittsburgh's game 7 win? Now this stat is according to espn, so who knows how accurate it really is. But they claim the Penguins are the first team to win on the road in Game 7, in MLB/NHL/NBA combined, since 1979! (Now I know a couple of NY baseball teams that lost home championship series Game 7's in the last few years, so I have to assume this stat is only for the World Series, Stanley Cup Finals, and NBA finals) 18 tries. 18 teams had gone on the road in those 3 sports for Game 7, and lost all 18 before Pittsburgh pulled out tonight's victory.

- Pittsburgh is now the first city to win the Stanley Cup, the same season after winning the NFL title (first ever to win it after a super bowl) since Detroit in 1953-54....wow, 55 years.

Let the off season officially begin. I am sure DP will have his take on the finals, I wait eagerly for him to provide the closure so we can all look forward to a short offseason of Sather Antics.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Tough Road - Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals

Game seven. Like Nugman says, it's always a big deal. Anytime you know you're going to line up and shake hands at the end - it's a big game. And when The Cup is in the building and one team will get it - that's as big a hockey game as you can get.

The Blueshirt Brothers staff has been making side bets to see who's pick would turn out better. Nugman had the Penguins in six. As for me (Dave Pucks) I said the Red Wings in six. So all we know so far is - we're both wrong.

The odds still favor the Red Wings to win the series. The last time a road team won a Stanley Cup finals game seven - Maurice "The Rocket" Richard scored the winning goal. I wish I was kidding. It was 1971. And the time before that was the 1940s. We've explained the real strategic advantage the home team has in the NHL - add that to the home crowd screaming horrendous intimidating things at the referees (I know I do) and you get a pretty big home ice advantage.
Of course, back in 71 they must have been saying the road team has no chance - and look what happened there.

By the way - according to Jeff Klein, our favorite hockey reporter at the New York Times, Theo Fleury shouted something at Rob Scuderi as the Penguin defenseman was making 3 saves in the goalmouth while Fleury flopped out of position on the left side.

Did he yell "thanks", or "great save", or "show me how you do that without giving up big rebounds"?


What Fleury yelled at his defenseman was "move!"

Scuderi wisely ignored the advice. He held his position, made 3 saves, and the Penguins held on for the win.

And if Fleury has yet another bad start in Detroit tonight - how about benching him and seeing if Scuderi will strap on the pads? Just asking.

Anyway - it figures to be a great finish to the NHL season. (Go Wings).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Last Game of the season

So it all comes down to one game. Game 7, nothing more exciting in sports. One little mistake, and one team ends up the champions, the other (and their fan base) head for a life time of "what if?"

Homefield advantage in the playoffs in NHL and MLB is incredibly overrated. (It would be in the NBA also but actually, home teams are almost automatic in the NBA because the away team is usually checking out all the new strip clubs and local drug dealers the night before) But in the NHL and MLB, homefield/ice advantage means absolutely nothing....except in a Game 7. Game 7's in both sports have traditionally been a near lock for the home team. That's why in both sports, the emphasis has always been on the regular season record. Getting that best record so you can host Game 7 in your building and finish off a thrilling championship run. So what can we expect for this game 7? Is it a lock for Detroit? Will home teams go 7-0 in this series?

The case for the Penguins winning Game 7:

- ALL the pressure is on Detroit. They are the favorite, they are the defending champs, they are the home team, and they already lost a potential clinching game in game 6

- Where is Sidney Crosby? Has he really shown up in these finals? (I am not 100% sure since I have avoided watching most of it because I simply don't care) The penguins star is due isn't he, for one BIG game, is Detroit really going to escape 7 games with out Sid the Kid throwing up a 4 point game?

- Where is Hossa? The leading scorer for Detroit in the regular season has been a complete non-factor in the finals as well. If he stays off the scorers sheet, penguins have a shot.

- 3 of 4. As in the penguins have won 3 of the last 4 games (granted all 3 were at home), and they know they very well could have won either of the first two game in Detroit that the league gift wrapped for them, had they not gotten horrible goaltending. Fluery shows up in either game, and this series is over with Penguins hoisting the cup. He gets a shot at redemption in Game 7.

- They were in the same situation when they went to Washington for Game 7, and blew the capitals out of the building. Past success is always nice to draw from.

The Case for Detroit winning game 7:

- While all the pressure in the world is on them...they probably don't know it. This is a very veteran team, and they are the defending champs that were already taken to the brink once this postseason by the Ducks, pressure should have little if any effect on them.

- Most playoff games, especially Game 7's, come down to goaltending. Fluery is more talented, But Osgood is a multiple time Cup Champion with more experience in big games then pretty much all the goalies in the east combined (excluding brodeur). Fleury has also been TERRIBLE in all 3 games in Detroit, maybe he is due? But you rarely see a guy go from terrible to brilliant in one game

- 2 days of rest. The league really gift wrapped a game for the penguins in the first two having them play back to back, that should have been a huge edge for the penguins and their younger legs, but they didn't take advantage. The same can be said for Games 6 and 7 for Detroit, getting 2 days off before each game, should give the older legs on Detroit a much needed break and have Detroit at their best...but it didn't work out in game 6.

- They are the best team.....that's always helpful.

You could come up with a handful of reasons why each team should have won the cup already, but it is irrelevant, it comes down to one game for all the marbles. Nothing like a Game 7, I might even watch some.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Three Season-Saving Saves By ... Scuderi?

The Stanley Cup finals creates heroes every day - some more unlikely than others.

With 13 seconds to go, clinging to a one goal lead, the Red Wings were crashing the net - whacking away at a loose puck just inches away from the goal line.

There was, if you'll forgive the pun, a flurry of activity in the Penguin crease. But Fleury himself, the Pittsburgh netminder, was caught out of position to the side of his net - flopped on the ice and trying to reach back across with his stick.

The Stanley Cup was in the building. The Red Wings, who beat these Penguins in game six to win the cup one year ago, were throwing everything they had at the net to try and force an overtime that could lead to them hoisting the cup that very day.

The Penguins needed a hero. More to the point - with Fleury out of position, they needed a goalie.

And so into the fray skated - or more accurately, flopped - Penguin defenseman Rob Scuderi.

The first shot came from point blank range. Kick save - Scuderi - with the left skate! The second shot - stick save Scuderi. And then a third shot - and again - like a scud missile Scuderi's left foot found the puck again - stopping it inches from the goal.

Now Fleury scrambled back into the crease - as several Red Wings came crashing in as well. There was a big pile up. Whistles blew. The Refs jumped in to untangle the mess and found the puck - still outside the goal line. A face off and a few seconds later it was over. The 'Guins had lived to skate another day. Another three days, actually, because on Friday night in Motor City - the Stanley Cup will be on hand once again. And this time it is not going back in the crate. This time, one team will get their hands on it.

So we go to game seven, thanks to Rob Scuderi who, on a night where Crosby and Malkin we're shut out - emerged as an unlikely hero for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mine That Bird (Penguins)

And down the Stanley Cup stretch they come!

The 2008-2009 National Hockey League season could end tonight. The Penguins return home to Pittsburgh for the last time this year for Crosby's Last Stand. They have one mission.


Win or watch the Detroit Red Wings hoist the Stanley Cup on Pittsburgh's home ice. Win or suffer back-to-back losses in the Stanley Cup finals to the same team. Win or lose the re-match they fought all year to get back to. Win or start to build the unfortunate legacy of the perennial Stanley Cup losers.

And to do it - the Malkin and Crosby show will have to reach way down into the Penguin's well. They will have to dig deep into whatever Penguin guts they have left. They will have to Mine That Bird for every last ounce of strength and courage they possess.

Because they're facing a championship caliber team in the Red Wings - a confident powerful team that is playing at their best and are just one step away from a "Double Stan" (back to back cups).

So the mission is clear - mine that aquatic bird for all its worth - or else - when the buzzer sounds it will be time for Crosby, Malkin and their mates to form a line and shake hands - with the Stanley Cup Champs.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Secret to Playoff Wins? Location, Location, Location

The Red Wings dramatically re-shifted the series momentum with a game 5 shut out win - stopping the 2 game Pittsburgh winning streak and taking control of the series. Or did they?

When our Rangers last played these Penguins, late in the playoff drive, near the end of the season they beat us. Part of the reason was that we played them in Pittsburgh where the Penguins are allowed the last line change. At the time we had gotten Mike Sauer from our Hartford affiliate to fill in temporarily on defense. Pittsburgh waited for the rookie Sauer to get on the ice and countered with Malkin and Crosby. The result was a couple of quick goals, a minus 2 for Mike in just 4 shifts and two minutes of ice time - and a quick return for the young defenseman from whence he came (the minors)

Had we played them at the Garden, we would have matched Sauer against Pittsburgh's second or third line - most probably with very different results. But that's how the NHL works. There is a real, tangible home ice advantage.

It's more than football - where the fans can make it hard for the opposing team to hear themselves call plays in the huddle. It's more than the last ups in baseball. In hockey at every play stoppage the home coach can look at the opposing line up and pick the guys he thinks will do the best against them. In the Stanley Cup finals, the Penguins are playing the Red Wings, not the Rangers, but the idea is the same. At home the 'Guins can match up Crosby and Malkin against whichever defenders they choose. In Detroit the Red Wings get to put their best guys on the Penguin offensive stars whenever they want to.

Now - this only works coming off of play stoppages. When the clock is running you can freely substitute on the fly. And if you hate a match up you can always short shift - pull your guys off the ice early and send out the players you want. But still, every time play stops the home coach gets to pick his lines last.

And in this year's Stanley Cup finals - despite all the talk of momentum shifts, all the analysis of the team's relative ages and rest time between games, despite all the pundits and prognosticators - all we have seen is the home ice team win all five games.

And that has delivered us to a 3-2 Red Wing lead after 5 games. Game five was a 5-0 rout, and the Penguins look dead and finished.

Of course, that's exactly how they looked after game 2. But then they got on home ice won two straight and suddenly the Penguins looked like the team with momentum.

Until game five.

What we're saying here is:

(1) All these dramatic momentum shifts in the finals are just the home team doing what the home team usually does - win. And,
(2) The Penguins may look dead now - but they've looked dead before - just last week actually - and proved us wrong.

Of course I picked the Red Wings in six - which is looking very smart right now. But you can't ignore that five game winning streak - for the home team. We'll see how that streak fares on Tuesday.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Nugman was right (just not right away)

Nugman had this long before I did. The Penguins are an incredibly young team. The Red Wings - not so much.

Nugs thought this would show up in the back to back games in Detroit. But the Wings were rested coming in and got through their home games with 2 wins. But In game 3 the older men's fatigue started to show. Detroit only managed 3 shots in the third period I despite being down one goal for ten minutes. And again, in game 4 (the fourth game in six nights) in steel-town, the Penguins could see the Red Wings starting to sag, their heads down, breathing hard.

So has the tide turned?

Not so fast. To the Red Wing's rescue come - the NHL schedule makers. After having the first 4 games in six nights, the next 3 will take eight days to finish. Game 5 in Detroit is key - it's on 2 nights rest. Now two days is not that long, but it's much better than the back to backs they started out with.

And after that the schedule really slows down. They get a 3 game rest to game six (Tuesday) and then another 3 game rest to game 7 (Friday),We'll know a lot more after Saturday night - after the Red Wings get their third try at winning a third game in this series.

All that's riding on this is the Stanley Cup, the Red Wing's legacy, and, most importantly, the little side bet between Nugman and Dave Pucks.

Friday, June 5, 2009

20 Foot Penguins

There's an old Monty Python episode where they satire Hollywood movies. They show a film crew making an epic about the guy who explored the North Pole (Robert Scott).

The director wants a fight scene. The movie star wants to fight a lion, but there are no lions in the North Pole.

They say:

Movie Star: Listen, I gotta fight the lion. That's what that guy Scott's all about. I know. I've studied him already.

Movie Director: But why couldn't you fight a penguin?

Movie Star: Fight a rotten penguin?

Movie Director: It needn't be a little penguin. It can be the biggest penguin you've ever seen. An electric penguin, twenty feet high, with long green tentacles that sting people.

And that, more or less, is what's happened in the Stanley Cup finals. The defending champ Red Wings had jumped to a 2-0 series lead and we gave up on Pittsburgh. We almost felt sorry for them.

But last night the Penguins struck back with a powerful 4-2 win. Now they have tied the series at 2 games each, made sure the series will last at least until next Wednesday, and brought themselves back, once again, from the brink. They have suddenly become the 20 foot Penguin with stinging electric tentacles. And now Detroit, having lost General Motors to bankruptcy, may be losing the cup as well.

Malkin, adding to the best scoring postseason by anyone since The Great One in 1993 had a goal and an assist. Sidney showed up with a G & A of his own. The Penguins scored 3 second-period goals in less than 6 minutes – including a shorthander by Jordan Staal in a back-to-back Red Wing powerplay - to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 win.

All this makes Nugman's pick of the 'Guins in six look smarter every day. And the Redwings have to think back to last Sunday to remember the last time they won a playoff game.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thanks - NY Times!

Okay - the Penguins averted disaster Tuesday night by winning the third period - and with it a playoff game to make what could easily have been a 3-0 blowout deficit into a competitive 2-1 series.

But they have to do it all over again tonight. If the Red Wings can take game four in Pittsburgh, the series could be all over by Saturday night in Detroit.

If you like the Penguins (and shame on you if you do) and you're looking for reasons to believe they have a chance, think of this: in last year's finals Evgeni Malkin was 21 years old, just one year past his rookie season, and had the flu during the finals. This year Evgeni has 3 years of NHL experience and is peaking with a league-leading 33 playoff points - the most ever for a Russian born player.

And speaking of Malkin, it was good to see the New York Times picking up on our theme from Tuesday and writing an article (by Jeff Z. Klein) all about how Evgeni is the real star in Pittsburgh - even though Crosby gets all the attention. Thanks Jeff - we like reading your paper too.

You know, it's got to be a tough gig writing for the "paper of record". That is, it's sort of like writing for the New York Post - but you gotta throw in a pile of those 20 dollar words.

Like if the Post wrote:

"Russian reporters have said Malkin's confidence is up"

The Times would translate that to (actual quote from the article):

"Russian journalists ... have also noted Malkin's increased confidence"

Or if the Post said:

"Malkin's been slammed for disappearing in games"

In the NY Times you have to write (another actual quote):

"He endured criticism for disappearing, the worst of all characterizations in hockey"

(And by the way - "disappearing" the worst of all characterizations? How about taking dives and whining to the refs when you don't get a bogus call like Sid "the crybaby" Crosby does whenever an opponent so much as looks at him the wrong way? Wouldn't that be a worse "characterization"?)

See - all you need is a thesaurus and a dictionary and you're all set. And if you'll permit me to close this entry with a few NY Times-ish 20 dollar words of my own:

"While this journalist would chose to not directly associate Mr. Klein's most recent essay as a technical or legal equivalent to an act of intentional plagiarism, I do feel, given the current circumstances that it is entirely appropriate to draw attention to the thematic similarities between the Times Thursday article and our own Tuesday submission."

Pucks out!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Too Many Penguins?

There were 20 seconds in the first period when the Penguins had an extra skater. Not because of penalty or injury or pulling the goalie - they just sent an extra guy out there. So there were six Aquatic Birds skating around out there for a while (seven if you count the goaltender Fluery).

Normally this is what we call a rule infraction - an automatic penalty: Too Many Men on The Ice - and, again, normally this results in 2 minutes in the penalty box for the offending team - and an official man advantage against the cheating team.

But this is the Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins we're talking about - the NHL's favorite franchise. And this is the swallow-the-whistle Stanley Cup Finals where the referees don't like to call penalties because they interrupt the flow of a game they are trying to showcase. Either that or the refs felt the "Men" part of "Too Many Men On The Ice" didn't apply to the Penguin species.

So 20 seconds came and went - with the confused Red Wings exhausting themselves skating all over the rink trying to cover the extra skater. No signal from the refs. Eventually the Penguin bench figured out there was a problem and called one man back.

And finally, less than a minute later the refs found their lost whistles and called a penalty. On the Red Wings! (Don't even ask)

Despite these shenanigans [Editor - "shenanigans"? What are you, Dave, a shop teacher from the 1950's?] the game was tied after one period. And then after a scoreless 2nd period the score was still 2-2, the Penguins were getting outshot 26-11 and an insurmountable 3-0 series deficit was staring the Crosby's in the face.

Speaking of Sid "crybaby" Crosby - the Redwings had been matching the winger Henrick Zetterberg against him all night. The results of that matchup through 2 periods was something of a stunner:

Sidney Crosby: No Goals, no assists
Henrick Zetterberg: 1 goal, 1 assist.
(And Zetterberg put the puck in the correct net this time)

So, as we were saying, in the third period, on home ice, and looking at the very real possibility of a 3-0 series deficit - the Penguins finally came to the party. Summoning some pride and grit - they rose up for the last 20 minutes. They outshot Detroit 10 to 3. Just 3 shots for the defending champs! Gonchar notched the go-ahead goal for Pittsburgh at 10:29 with Crosby finally contributing his lone assist of the night. (Malkin - who I think is better than Sid - showed it again with 3 assists on the night.)

An empty netter rounded out the scoring and with a 4-2 win, the Flightless Seabirds survive to skate another day, and keep Nugman's Upset Special pick alive.

For now. Let's see what happens in game four.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Crosby and the other guy

I used to think Malkin always got the raw deal.

I mean, it doesn't matter how much he scores - how many assists he provides - how essential he is to the Penguin's success - the other guy's star shines brighter. It's always Sidney Crosby and the Penguins (name above the title - like "Clint Eastwood stars in Dirty Harry").

Now, I think Malkin is the difference maker on the Penguins. It's him, not Crosby, that makes them go - but he never gets any of the credit - because the NHL is trying to build Sid into the league-saving superstar.

And speaking of a raw deal - how about that first name thing? Evgeni Malkin? Evgeni? I mean, do we call him Ev? Or Geni? It's a bad deal all around. And speaking of bad first names, remember that former Ranger from back in the 1970s, Carol Vadenais? Imagine taking the ice every night with a name like Carol? And there's worse than that....

[Editor - I have removed 2ooo words of Dave Puck's ranting on bad first names for the good of the blog - picking up the thread below when he resumes writing about hockey...]

...anyway, my point (and I do have one) is that usually, Malkin gets a raw deal in Pittsburgh and the NHL. But not in game 2. Two big things happened in his favor the other night.

First - he got credited for a playoff goal without touching the puck. It happened on a PPPP - that is, a Pittsburgh Penguin Power Play. Red Wing defenseman Brad Stuart did something the Penguins were unable to do all night - score on Osgood. That's right, Stuart accidentally knocked the puck past his own team's goaltender, giving the Penguins their lone score of the evening. The refs decided to award the goal to Malkin - because he was the closest Penguin to the puck at the time (I was leaning close to my TV - but no one noticed me). And of course, when Malkin negotiates his next contract it will just look like a legit playoff goal on his stat sheet.

And then, with 19 seconds left in the game Malkin started a fight with Pittsburgh's Henrik Zetterberg. But there's a problem with that fight: under NHL rules (and yes, they do have some) a player who gets an "instigator" penalty in the last five minutes of a game can be suspended for the next game. The 'Guins are in enough trouble down 2-0, if they lost Malkin for game 3 they would be finished.

But Malkin got his second lucky bounce of the night. NHL director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell weighed the evidence (and no doubt also contemplated the potential lost revenue if the Penguins don't win a few games) and ruled that Malkin was not trying to "send a message" by starting the fight - and therefore he is not suspended and can play game 3 and beyond.

That's two huge strokes of good luck in one night for Evgeni - who actually got a third one when the Red Wings were nice enough to wait 14 seconds after Malkin's whack-a-goalie penalty expired before notching their first goal - so Malkin wouldn't be directly (or statistically) blamed for causing a powerplay that led to a score.

In other words, for for one night anyway, Malkin caught a few lucky breaks. Of course his team will always will be known as Crosby and the Penguins, but our man "Ev" did come away with something.


We forgot to mention this when it happened, but sometime in May one of you was our 1000th visitor to this website. Sorry, but but our volatile IT staff stopped playing Grand Theft Auto long enough to tell me there's no way to figure out exactly which one of you it was. (They seem to have no trouble checking out satellite photos of Mark Messier's house on company time, but that's another story entirely.)

Anyway, thanks, Mr. 1000th guy, whoever you are. And thanks to the rest of you also.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Post about hitting The Post.


And again, clang.

You can always tell when a shot that hits the post. You can hear it in the cheap sheets - it echos through an arena - nearly as loud as the goal buzzer. But with a very different meaning.
Last night in Motor City we heard it twice. The sound of two Pittsburgh Penguin shots beating Red Wing Goaltender Chris Osgood - beating him, but not scoring goals - because two pucks hit the post last night.
The first was Bill Guerin's rocket off a great feed from Sidney Crosby in the second period. Just missing, the shot hit the inside of the post and bounced away harmlessly.

In the third period it was Sid The Kid himself who hit the post again and the puck was buried beneath a pile of players, just inches away from goal line.

And those two clangs were the difference last night. An inch closer and the Penguins score 2 more goals, and what ended up as a 3-1 loss could have turned out quite differently.
But hockey is a game of inches (that is - inches and scattered teeth). And after coming close last night the Penguins now have front row seat to look at the abyss. They're in a 2-0 hole now and - as Nugs pointed out last night - the historical odds of a comeback in this position are (like Nicole Richie) much too slim to be healthy.

For those of us rooting against Sidney Crosby getting his hands on the Stanley Cup - so far so good.