Saturday, April 21, 2012

Massive Suspension for Torres

In the biggest, longest suspension for Shanahan and the longest by far in the NHL post season, Raffi Torres has been suspended 25 games.

Yes.  25 games. 

As in absolutely no chance of playing again this postseason and probably the first bit of next season.

Shanahan is making an example of Torres while easing investor's worries and sending a message to the rest of the NHL.  Stop playing dangerously in the post season.

From the NHL:

Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres  has been suspended for 25 games for launching himself to deliver a late hit to the head of Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa during Game 3 of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinal playoff series in Chicago on Tuesday, April 17, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

Should the 25 games not be served by the conclusion of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the remaining games of the suspension will carry over into the following regular season. Torres will be prohibited from playing in any preseason games until he has served this 25-game suspension (playoff and regular-season games).

Should the suspension carry over to next season, because he is classified as a repeat offender under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Torres will forfeit $21,341.46 in salary for every regular-season game in which he is ineligible to play.

The incident occurred at 11:42 of the first period. Hossa suffered an injury as a result of the hit.

Torres already has served one game of this suspension, Game 4 of the series in Chicago on Thursday, April 19.  
More analysis later.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Torres Suspended Indefinately

Phoenix's Raffi Torres deferred his in person hearing for a hit on Chicago's Hossa. Torres has been indefinately suspended meaning he will not be in Game 4. From the NHL:

Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres has been suspended indefinitely, pending an in-person hearing Friday, April 20, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today. The hearing, which had been planned for today, was deferred at the request of the player and the National Hockey League Players' Association.

The hearing will be convened at the NHL's New York office for a hit Torres delivered to Chicago forward Marian Hossa 12:42 into the first period of Game 3 of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinal series in Chicago on Tuesday, April 17.

Hossa left the game on a stretcher. Torres could be waiting to see how serious Hossa was injured to get the most appropriate punishment since Shanahan has said that suspension length is somewhat based on severity of injury. Because of the deferment, Torres will get a minimum 5 game suspension (as I understand it). He should get much much more.

Torres was fined $2500 for an elbow on December 29 and suspended two games for a charge on December 31.

All of this has left investors nervous.

"They're paying us a lot of money to associate with our brand," said NHL COO John Collins who came to the NHL from the NFL. "So when our brand is under attack in the press on issues as serious as player safety, they want to know that the league is on top of it and has a plan for dealing with it and hear the league articulate it. That feedback is always going to be there."

"It affects the business, our ability to attract new fans, to grow the business, to attract other blue-chip advertisers and brands (who want) to associate with the games," said Collins, who joined the NHL five years ago. "It also affects our ability to attract casual fans who maybe haven't watched all year and now they're hearing the buzz about the game."

Torres joins the list of suspensions as James Neal, Arron Asham and Nicklas Backstrom have all been suspended too.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shanahan Explains Decisions

Shanahan has taken a lot of heat for his decisions. And he is doing exactly what I would want him to do: talk about it.

He has issued three suspensions so far in the post season, with more expected very soon.

While I'm a little surprised that Weber wasn't suspended, Shanahan says it was the lack of injury that was a deciding factor.

"I looked at that one, and I'm not happy with that play. I'll say on the bigger picture too: If I made a decision that people didn't agree with, or a day or two later, you got that one wrong, a week later they'd try to hold me to that standard and question by consistency if I move forward.

"The playoffs evolve. The game evolves. I have to try and keep evolving with them. It's not like the regular season where every team has 82 games to play, and there's equal footing. They change depending on the score of the series or how many games are left in the series.

"I investigated that hit. I called Detroit that night. I think that he pushed his face in the glass. I was very close to a 1-game suspension on that. When I talked to Detroit [GM Ken Holland], he basically said that the player was fine.

"I think it's a fair argument. A $2,500 fine is as high as we can fine a player."

He also addressed the three game suspension to Hagelin and the one game on Carkner:

"I think they're different plays. The difference between the two, right off the hop, is that there's a head injury and concussion on one and there's no injury on the other. Now, that doesn't mean one guy gets off and the other guy doesn't.

"But when we looked at the play between Carkner and Boyle, Carkner asks Boyle to fight in response to going after their small star player in the game before. [Ed. Note: Shanahan said Carkner asked Boyle to fight off the faceoff.] Boyle doesn't fight back, which I don't blame him — I probably wouldn't have either. He does hit 'em in the face, he drops 'em. As was said to us in the hearing, he hit him with five more punches, and they were in the arm, shoulder and back — not in the head. But he thought that was excessive.

"So Boyle stands up, is fine, doesn't miss a shift. Whereas unfortunately with an elbow to the head … I do think Carl Hagelin's a good kid, but he looks right at Daniel Alfredsson, skates at him and elbows him right in the head. Alfredsson has to leave a big game, an important game and doesn't come back."

Shanahan is doing a good job. I will argue that with anyone. There is a lot (a whole lot) of people thinking that he is not doing enough or really going to far. He's been accussed of playing favorites and selectively punishing. I don't think that's a fair arguement. He has explained every decision. With video for the suspensions.

He acknowledges the punishment is different in playoffs depending on situation. I'm not as big of a fan of that, but I am a fan of the fact that it's just the punishments that are being tweaked, not the whole concept of supplimental discipline. It keeps players in the same safety mindset they have (or will eventually build) in the regular season.

Look, say what you will, but the man has opened the curtain into the world of the Department of Player Safety much more than it has ever been before. And that is a great thing for the sport. Building this foundation is not easy or quick. I feel that, assuming this transparency structure remains in tact, that in five years it will be much less of an issue. Yeah, fans will still argue of favoritism and such. But that's what fans do. They are fanatics, die hards that root for their team no matter what and anything against their team is essentially bad. Neutral analysis though will hopefully be more fair.

The whole thing of having all these penalties, especially in the playoffs, will just take some getting used to. Like any new rule change.

Atlanta Braves to Retire Smoltz's Number June 8

The Atlanta Braves will pay tribute to former pitcher John Smoltz on Friday, June 8 by inducting him into the Braves Hall of Fame and retiring his uniform number. The uniform number retirement will occur in a pregame ceremony that night before the Braves take on the Toronto Blue Jays.

For tickets to the game, click here.

This is fantastic. Smoltz is one of my favorite players of all time.

I'm excited for this. It will be the 9th number retired by the team (10 including the MLB wide retirement of Jackie Robinson's 42).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

More Post Season Suspensions

I guessed it right. Well, two out of three. Carkner got a game, Hagelin got three.

There were no additional penalties to Dubinsky. I still think the call on the ice was wrong in that Carkner committed a match penalty thusly nullifying the third man in game misconduct to Dubinsky. But, since the on-ice call stood, then I think the game misconduct remaining on the record is fine in substitution punishment for his actions leaving the ice.

Carkner was penalized for being the aggressor. In reading the rule for aggressor (as mentioned in the video), why isn't someone who is guilty of being an aggressor also guilty of committing a match penalty?

I understand that they carry essentially the same punishment (suspension from the game), but this incident shows exactly why a match should be included. For the sake of someone like Dubinsky who now has a game misconduct on his record in the playoffs when he, in my opinion, did the right thing. Getting into a fight is just sometimes necessary.

Table 8 of the Rulebook doesn't prevent it.

Again I ask, if a player is guilty of breaking a penalty with the same language of a penalty type, why isn't he guilty of breaking both?

Table 8 addresses all match penalties and mentions Rule 46 (Fighting) twice. If you wear tape on your hands during an altercation, that's an automatic match penalty. If you punch and injure an unsuspecting opponent, that's a match penalty automatically upon injury.

Now, Doyle was not injured by the punches. However, a match penalty can still be assessed for attempt to injure. As I mentioned before, hitting an unwilling player seems like a deliberate attempt to injure in my book.

I don't get it. I think the NHL messed up on this one in its interpretation of the rules. But what do I know?

I do agree with the Hagelin suspension.

It helps solidify in my mind that Shanahan will issue the same amount of punishment (in terms of numbers and severity) during the postseason as he did during the regular season. And that is good for the League. It means there's not a new set of standards regarding safety issues just because it's the playoffs.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Two Players Ejected From NYR-OTT Game

Matt Carkner (Ottawa) and Brandon Dubinsky (New York) have been ejected in the second game of the series between the Sens and Rangers.

Carkner delivered a check to Ranger Brian Boyle before dropping the gloves and punching him repeatedly, even after he went down to the ice. Dubinsky joined in the fight, then all hell broke loose with everyone pairing off.

Carkner received two minutes for roughing, five minutes for fighting and a game misconduct. Dubinsky also received two minutes for roughing and a game misconduct for being the third man in a fight.

It would not be a surprise to see either get further disciplinary action from Shanahan. Carkner for his repeated punches; Dubinsky for knocking over things on the bench on his way to the locker room. His actions seem more fine worthy while Carkner may sit.

See for yourself.

This game is still going on as of this post.

Is the commentator right in saying that Dubinsky shouldn't be assessed a game misconduct for the "third man in" rule?

Let's look at it:

"46.16 Third Man In- A game misconduct penalty, at the discretion of the Referee, shall be imposed on any player who is the first to intervene (third man in) in an altercation already in progress except when a match penalty is being imposed in the original altercation. This penalty is in addition to any other penalties incurred in the same incident.
"This rule also applies to subsequent players who elect to intervene in the same or other altercations during the same stoppage of play.
"Generally, this rule is applied when a fight occurs."

Well, by rule, I'd say that Dubinsky is guilty. No match penalty was assessed and he joined an altercation. Like the rule states, generally this occurs during a fight, but not necessarily. Again, by rule, Dubinsky should have been given a game misconduct.

The question is: should there have been a match penalty? If Carkner was given a match penalty, then Dubinsky would not have automatically been ejected.

Match penalties are given for deliberately trying to injure an opponent. What do they look like? Like this Lucic penalty from last season against the Thrashers. Or Red Wings' Smith from this preseason. There was Winnipeg's Bogosian and his flying leap charge. I present to you this match penalty from Penguin Jordan Staal:

Now, Brandon Prust of New York was not in exactly a vulnerable position. He just didn't react quickly. And still, Staal was given a match penalty.

I specifically used the NHL link for the Staal penalty and not a Youtube clip, like the others, for a few reasons. This first is that by putting on the NHL website and not removing it, even far after that game is over, the NHL must agree with the ruling. In fact, if you search "match penalty" under the videos section, you only get three videos. That one of Staal, Carcillo's, and an analysis of one from Thrashers' Eager.

Now, not everything on is necessarily within the rules. But those videos they HAVE to show (like goals) also come with articles or other videos that explain why they were bad calls. Or, like in the case of the King's clock error, you can't find it everywhere. Don't forget, even though that play was reviewed by the War Room, it isn't on the War Room blog that has every single other goal/no goal from this season that they've spent some time reviewing. If they have to show the play, they have it as little places as possible. If it's not a huge play with score effecting results, it gets whitewashed from the website.

So we have to assume that the sucker punch is a match penalty offense. And what do I mean by a sucker punch? A deliberate punch to the head of an opponent. That appears to be what's happening in all of the match penalties from A shot to the head. The difference between the hits online right now and this Carkner punch is that his victim was in a more helpless position. However, the punches don't land on the head or face.

Traditional fights have punches that land on the face, but those happen when both players are clearly engaged. That's a little different, so I agree with no match penalties for those types of hits.

So again, I ask, should this have been a match penalty?


I think the officials missed this one.

While the punches don't seem to land on the head or face of his opponent with the same force as some of the others that have been assessed as a match penalty, by continuing to hit Boyle while he is on the ice and clearly not trying to punch back, one can only assume that Carkner is acting in a manner to cause injury, thusly a match penalty.

Looking at it from that perspective, then Dubinsky should not have been ejected. Because of the missed call on the ice, Dubinsky will have a record for a game misconduct in the playoffs. That is not right.

The NHL should do the right thing and subsequently impose a match penalty on Carkner and erase the game misconduct from Dubinsky. It doesn't change what happens in the game, but it will matter if Dubinsky is assessed another game misconduct later. After two in the playoffs, he's automatically suspended.

Carkner should also be suspended for a game for this (what I'm calling) match penalty and Dubinsky fined for his actions while leaving the ice. Even if it was the wrong call at the time, it is no excuse to go off the handle like that.

I am assuming that Dubinsky is getting the game misconduct for the "third man in" rule. If he gets it for verbal abuse to the officials or his antics in the penalty box, then I'm all for the game misconduct (though I'm banking on the third man in rule for the misconduct).

ESPN is currently reporting that Dubinsky (of the Rangers) also got a match penalty. I don't know where they got that information. It's not in the penalty summary on NHL's Game Tracker. It's not in the PA announcement in the video up there. It's not in the NHL article. I don't know where they got that information. Or why ABC I'll keep you up to date as this game goes into OT.

By the way: the Referee that was right there on top of the scrum? Ian Walsh. Of Winter Classic fame. And one of the officials that caused the Kings' coach to use the word "friggin'" in a post game interview, as in "some of the worst friggin' officiating I've seen in a long time."

Or the Linesman that helped break things up. Tony Sericolo. Is that name familiar? A Philly goal perhaps?

We will likely see Shanahan for SOMETHING from this game. Including a possible suspension for Carl Hagelin of the Rangers for an elbow to Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson's head. He did not return.

There are now two videos on that have appeared since I started writing this post. One, the duel ejections. The other, the first goal of the game in St. Louis. And it isn't pretty if you are a Sharks fan...


UPDATE (11:40):

I was right. Hagelin got the attention of the Department of Player Safety. He will have a hearing for his elbow to Alfredsson on Sunday. No word yet on any other possible hearings, suspensions, or fines from the game.

Kings, The Up Underdogs

The Los Angeles Kings will be back in LA with a 2-0 series lead over the Western Conference Champion Canucks. With their 4-2 win over Vancouver last night, they take a greater hold of the series and show that their arrival in the postseason may not have been so flukey after all. A large part of it was goaltending as the Kings managed only 26 shots compared to Vancouver's 48 leaving LA netminder Quick with a .958 save percentage.

Meanwhile, New Jersey and Florida opened up their series down in the Sunshine State. And, well, let's say there was no need for an exterminator because the rats didn't rain down in victory. The Devils won the first game 3-2 over the Southeast Division winning Panthers. The Devils lead 3-0 at one point, but held off the Florida rally.

Philadelphia took a 2-0 lead in their series against the Penguins. And they started the game in similar fashion, down by a few goals, only to rally back to a victory thanks to Giroux's hat trick. There were no horrible calls this time that directly allowed a goal. If history plays a role here, then Philadelphia will win the series. They are 17-0 all time in the playoffs when leading 2-0 in a series. However, rivalries seems to bring out the perfect stage for historical re-writes.

The Red Wings tied up the series with Nashville, earning a 3-2 victory before going back to Detroit. Howard was brilliant between the pipes as was the penalty kill unit that didn't allow goals on the six Predator power plays.

The saddest moment of the night? The stands in Florida. With empty seats. And not just a few scattered singles. I mean chunks of the lower level with comfy spots waiting for a fan. It has been years and years since the Panthers were in the playoffs, much less division champions. And still, no one showed up.

Meanwhile, the Braves opened up their season at home with a victory over the Brewers with a standing room only crowd. Little MLB for you there.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Winnipeg Jets Continue A Touching Thrashers' Tradition

As a Thrashers' fan, this is very touching.

Below is a video of the awards given out after the final Jets game of the 2011-2012 season. And the moment I'm referring to happens at around 3:15.

Link to video

I did a very indepth entry on this back in July of last year before the Hockey Cop refocus.

I won't redo the entire post here, but among other things: I wanted the Dan Snyder Memorial Award to continue as a small tribute to not only Dan, but to stand as a small nod to the Jets' history in Atlanta. And they way the number 37 was shown, it seems more and more likely that number will be unofficially retired within the organization, just as it was in Atlanta.

Thank you Jets for carrying on this tradition.

Should Philly Had Won on Wednesday?

According to the NHL, no. Well, not exactly.

Colin Campbell, the executive vice president of hockey operations said this goal (Philadelphia's first goal of what was a 4-3 overtime decision) should not have counted.

Link to video.

The linesman blew a call. Briere was offsides and the play should have been dead. And that blown call lead to a goal in a very tight decision. That is what the NHL is saying.

"There's no other way to explain it but a missed call," Campbell told The Canadian Press in an interview. "We're as upset as Pittsburgh almost. It's a mistake."

Tony Sericolo is a veteran linesman with more than 800 games of NHL experience dating back to October 1998. He was among 40 officials—20 referees and 20 linesmen—selected to be part of the pool for playoff assignments.

The blown call could affect how director of officiating Terry Gregson makes staffing decisions later in the post-season, according to Campbell.

"There's always fallout," he said. "The referees and the linesmen are judged on the work they do as far as how they advance in doing games. If mistakes are made, no matter how difficult they are, there's got to be decisions made on who advances."

The play started a big comeback for the Flyers, who erased a three-goal deficit and beat Pittsburgh 4-3 in overtime. However, the Penguins refused to use it as an excuse for their collapse.

"That's not why we lost the game," coach Dan Bylsma said immediately afterwards.

Added captain Sidney Crosby on Thursday: "It affected the game, but at the end of the day worrying about it or thinking about it is not going to change anything. It's over."

Note that no one is blaming the video review system or the War Room. And why not? A goal was scored that shouldn't have counted. So why no protest?

According to NHL Rules, every goal is video reviewed. However, video review does not look at everything and cannot overrule certain things, such as offsides. Things like the puck being kicked in, puck crossing the goal line completely, puck hit with a high stick, and time expiration are all examples of things the War Room can consider when ruling on the legitmacy of a "good hockey goal." Offsides? Nothing they can do about it.

Will there be a challenge issued? Are the rules flawed? Should they be changed to review everything from the last faceoff till the goal?

I doubt it will go so far as to call for a faceoff to goal review because so much of hockey is opinion. Like a charging call or a boarding. Hooking. Whatever. It would be almost impossible to find a minute of any game that didn't have SOMETHING that violated a hockey rule. Take a look at the NSH - DET game.

Do not misunderstand. I think that the officials do a very good job for the most part and the system is not across the board broken. If they are consistant with their assessing of penalities of descresion throughout a game and season, then that's fine. When a player or team has no idea what to expect, that the bigger problem. Yeah, there will be a hooking call that isn't whistled here and there. But that's the trade off between a good hockey game and a technically correct hockey game.

All that being said, something like offsides is a black and white issue. It's not really up for debate. So I would be in favor of looking for any offsides plays that lead to a goal.

Even though I doubt that Sericolo will be in the lineup for Friday when the Flyers take on the Pens in Pittsburgh, I can only imagine the rain of boos that will decend on the officials as they skate onto the ice.

In other news, the results from Thursday night: San Jose defeated the Blues; the Blackhawks fell to the Coyotes; New York won over Ottawa; and Boston downed Washington. The only series yet to begin starts tonight as the Devils travel to Florida.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

First Suspension of Playoffs

Canuck's Bitz has been suspended two games for a boarding incident.

Link to video

I'm shocked by this in many way, but also very pleased.

As previously stated, I didn't expect anything more than a one game suspension and more expected a fine. But that's not what happened.

Historically in the post season, most suspensions are muted and shortened. This is what I expected to continue. But now I'm looking back on my line of thought and wondering why I thought that. This is Shanahan, not Campbell. Shanahan's been, in my opinion, pretty good with his assessments. Yeah, he's missed some. He's suspended too heavy or too light. But the video explanations help, at least with the ones that get the ban. And he's blazing a new trail. And now every team has some sort of supplemental discipline with only now 7 teams going with having a player suspended at some point. Of those seven, four are in the playoffs. Vancouver was the only team that had not a suspension OR a fine throughout the pre season and regular season. Until now.

Now, here we are in the post season. And a big tipoff that this play could have been a suspension should have been the way the Department of Player Safety handled the Rome incident last year. Since Campbell wasn't at the reigns, they issued the longest suspension in playoff history last year. And they made several points to say it was NOT Campbell's decision. Almost laying the ground work for what would come in the new era.

I said at the time that I hoped the Rome incident was setting a precident, not adhearing to one. And that could very well be true. Three playoff games on the first night, and we a fine and a suspension from two of the three. In the past, there was no conformatity to suspensions and it seemed that the playoffs had a different set of rules. Actually, they did. That came from the Department of Player Safety.

But with the Rome hit, things seemed to change. It was made clear that this was a different decision than what any administration from the past (namely Campbell) would have done. If they were trying to adhere to previous "guidelines", they failed because this type of punishment would have been over the top because "hey, everything's lesser in the playoffs". But looking at the Bitz hit, it looks like a multigame suspension hit for the regular season. And it looks like those same guidelines will hold up the post season.

That is a good thing. Players should have the same expectations for plays in the post season as the regular season. And suspensions and fines for dangerous plays are nothing out of the ordinary.

This season, there have been 45 suspensions. All but two were for dangerous plays. One was for insulting language, another for leaving the bench to start in a fight. That includes the Bitz suspension and the preseason. There have been 29 fines this season (including Wednesday' against Shea Weber) for dangerous actions on the ice, so that doesn't include fines against coaches or players for comments.

Let's compare that to the previous season. Including all of the playoffs, season, and preseason, the 2010-2011 season saw 36 suspensions, but six were automatic and not necessarily for dangerous incidents. Four of those were in the post season. And of the 14 fines, only 6 were for dangerous actions.

It seems that Shanahan is on pace for not only giving out supplimental discipline, but keeping the punishment length the same as it would be during the regular season.

Since there is no exact formula and no two plays are exactly alike; it is impossible to tell if he will adhere to the same standards.

Nashville versus Red Wings

I said it would a series to watch, did I not?

Well, it certainly wasn't lacking in fireworks. Let's get started.

First of all, I didn't see the game live. It was blacked out on Atlanta tv. Glad to see the NHL is trying to do SOMETHING for scorned Atlanta hockey fans (note the sarcasm). I mean, they take our team and Nashville makes an attempt to win over ATL fans, which makes sense geographically. But both Carolina and Nashville claim Atlanta as local, so there's a turf war. And I don't really care who wins it (I'm no Caniac and certainly no Pred-head), it seems wrong to block out the most realistic location choice for the city during the playoffs. The Canes aren't in it, so give Atlanta Nashville. Nope.

Okay, but onto the game. You know who did see it live because he was at the arena? The Commissioner. Bettman was there and because of that, we may see our first fines against a coach for comments made during a live interview during a game. Not really, but it wouldn't be completely out of the realm of possibility. Apparently, the Detroit coach, Babcock, thinks that the ref's were trying to make an impression.

He essentially said that the two least penalized teams in the League seemed to have the odds against them as the Referees were essentially auditioning for a Finals spot by calling everything under the sun.

Despite Babcocks' loss and unwillingness to accept the officials on-ice performance, he should be somewhat pleased with the supplimental department for player safety.

Shea Weber of Nashville was fined $2500 for his actions in the final ticks of the game.

"This was a reckless and reactionary play on which Weber threw a glancing punch and then shoved Zetterberg's head into the glass," said NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan. "As is customary whenever Supplemental Discipline is being considered, we contacted Detroit following the game and were informed that Zetterberg did not suffer an apparent injury and should be in the lineup for Game 2.

"This play and the fine that addressed it will be significant factors in assessing any incidents involving Shea Weber throughout the remainder of the playoffs."

Nashville defeated Detroit.

Weber wasn't the only one with a discipline problem. Vancouver's Bitz faces a hearing today regarding a hit during the game. This is noteworthy because, remember, the Canucks went the entire preseason and regular season without a suspension or fine from Shanahan.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Traditionally, playoff discipline is less than regular season discipline. A three game suspension is suddenly one or a fine. I wouldn't be surprise to see a one game suspension from Shanahan here, but probably not more. At least not in the post season. Regular season, yeah. Probably a multi-game. The more likely scenerio is a fine here.

Vancouver lost to the Kings.

In the other game of the night, the Penguins lost in overtime to the Flyers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Leafs Apologize to Fans

The Toronto Maple Leafs issued a letter to their fans. They have the longest streak of not making the post season at 7 years (yes, including the Thrashers/Jets and Florida).

They join the Canucks and Raptors as recent Canadian teams to say "We so sorry" to their frustrated fans.

Penalties at 00:00 in the First Period

That was a fight that broke out during the ceremonial face off in a CHL game.

There is some bad blood right there. They recieved unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalties. Time of the penalties, 00:00 in the first period.

By the way, they same players got into another fight later in the first period. At 2:05. That's right. Literally five seconds after coming out of the box from the pre-whistle brewhaha.


Monday, April 9, 2012

NHL Playoffs Begin Wednesday

The Playoffs are set. And here are your first round matchups:

#1 New York Rangers vs #8 Ottawa Senators

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 Washington Capitals

#3 Florida Panthers vs #6 New Jersey Devils

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Philadelphia Flyers

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Los Angeles Kings

#2 St. Louis Blues vs #7 San Jose Sharks

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs #6 Chicago Blackhawks

#4 Nashville Predators vs #5 Detroit Red Wings

The full schedule can be found here.

By far, the most notable playoff matchups in the first round, for me, are the 4 & 5's of both conferences. Detroit and Nashville are two teams with a building rivalry. And since Nashville has recently scorned me with such a disappointing hockey experience at Bridgestone Arena, I guess I have to pull for the Red Wings.

The Penn State enemies of Philly and Pitt will be a brutal series. That will play very well.

The Blues / Sharks should be good. The Blues, who no one would have thought would make it, versus the Sharks who have a history of failing.

The Capitals and Bruins series should be a good one. The defending Champs versus the pre-season picked champs. A predicted forgetable series will be the dominate Canucks versus the Kings who kinda snuck in at the last minute.

The biggest surprise miss is the Stars. They seemed playoff bound right up until the end. The biggest surprise would be Phoenix winning that division.

First games are Wednesday. NSH / DET, VAN / LAK and PIT / PHI.

I am not great at predictions, but here I go just for the fun of it:

#1 New York Rangers vs #8 Ottawa Senators: Rangers in 5 games

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 Washington Capitals: Bruins in 7 games

#3 Florida Panthers vs #6 New Jersey Devils: Devils in 6 games

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Philadelphia Flyers: Flyers in 6 games

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Los Angeles Kings: Canucks in 5 games

#2 St. Louis Blues vs #7 San Jose Sharks: Blues in 7 games

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs #6 Chicago Blackhawks: Blackhawks in 6 games

#4 Nashville Predators vs #5 Detroit Red Wings: Red Wings in 7 games

Who do I hope wins based on almost nothing?

#1 New York Rangers vs #8 Ottawa Senators: Senators. I am anti-Rangers.

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 Washington Capitals: Capitals. Tough call since my ex is from New England, but lives in Washington. So I'm not exactly keen on either one. But I've always liked Ovi and its good to see the Rockin' Red after so many years of slumping. Plus, Ovi's a spy.

#3 Florida Panthers vs #6 New Jersey Devils: Devils. Moose is a big reason. Plus, I turned down a job with the Panthers, so I really don't want to have them win it all when I could have been part of the team.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Philadelphia Flyers: Flyers. Not a fan of Sid the Kid. Plus, I have friends from Philly.

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Los Angeles Kings: Canucks. I will always have an appreciation for Vancouver after the Closing Ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics. From a safety standpoint, I guess I should root for the Kings.

#2 St. Louis Blues vs #7 San Jose Sharks: Sharks. For an unknown reason, even to me, I am a big Sharks fan during the playoffs. I don't know why. But, I really like how the Blues turned things around, so I would be very happy with them going on.

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs #6 Chicago Blackhawks: Blackhawks. I'm still mad that Phoenix is still in Phoenix because that means that Atlanta is in Winnipeg.

#4 Nashville Predators vs #5 Detroit Red Wings: Red Wings. The Preds have left a bad taste in my mouth. The first (and thus far only) game I went to, the idiot behind me kept misquoting hockey terms, rules, and yelling "Flying V!". He was admired by others. It isn't fair to blame all of Nashville for just a few, but overall I didn't like the atmosphere in Nashville. The crowd was boring. And I don't like country music. Red Wings.

What about the aestetics of hockey? I love the look of hockey, so who should win based solely on looks?

#1 New York Rangers vs #8 Ottawa Senators: Senators with their red, white and black color scheme. The new thirds are awesome.

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 Washington Capitals: Washington. Those cut designs in the sleeves are nice. Plus the loud red versus the black and yellow.

#3 Florida Panthers vs #6 New Jersey Devils: Devils. Classic look. Much kudos to Florida for the redesign, but gotta go with the Devils on this one.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Philadelphia Flyers: Flyers. Black and orange? Halloween? Instant winner. Pittsburgh (and almost anyone else) doesn't have much of a chance.

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Los Angeles Kings: Vancouver. Definately. The Kings are on my sh-list for removing purple from their primary color scheme. It was a defining characteristic, unique in hockey. But that green blue combo in Vancouver is a strong showing anyway.

#2 St. Louis Blues vs #7 San Jose Sharks: Sharks. The only ones who trump ever team as far as uni's go in my book. The sleek look. The greenish tint. The orange highlights. The amazing logo. It all works for me.

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs #6 Chicago Blackhawks: Blackhawks. Not because they look good, but they don't look as bad. The boring burnt red is just not all that appealing to me, though it is still better than their previous deco design.

#4 Nashville Predators vs #5 Detroit Red Wings: Nashville. Although I don't dig twangy country, I do like how it was incorporated into the uniforms without looking minor league. The guitar string numbers, the piano inner collar, the guitar pick shoulder patch. And if you do go to a game, you'll know it is more than appropriate to include so much musical imagery.

As far as mascots go:

#1 New York Rangers vs #8 Ottawa Senators: The Senators Lion wins out over...nothing.

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 Washington Capitals: I'm taking the eagle over the bear in this one.

#3 Florida Panthers vs #6 New Jersey Devils: Stanley C. Panther (as in Stanley Cup Panther) versus a demon. Yeah, the demon wins. If nothing else, for his hilarious ESPN commercial.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Philadelphia Flyers: The Penguin was killed in a movie. Um, Penguins. Plus, there is no Flyers mascot.

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Los Angeles Kings: Official mascots, Fin of Vancouver. Unofficial mascots, definately the Green Men of Vancouver. So, Vancouver.

#2 St. Louis Blues vs #7 San Jose Sharks: The Shark. Definately. A sad bear is not a good mascot, even if your team is named "Blues".

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs #6 Chicago Blackhawks: Howler versus Tommy Hawk. Gotta give it to the Chicago on this one, though it is a tough call. Really, I guess I like the name most of all and that gives Tommy the edge.

#4 Nashville Predators vs #5 Detroit Red Wings: Gnash would seem like a clear winner since Detroit doesn't appear to have a mascot. But they do have a symbolic character they only bring out during the playoffs. Al the Octopus. Detroit all the way on this one.

Finally, what nickname would win in a fight?

#1 New York Rangers vs #8 Ottawa Senators: Tough call to start. On the one hand, Rangers get stuff done in a rough and tumble way, but it is very localized for the most part. Senators make laws that shape the lives of a nation, plus they control the purse strings and therefore the army. I'm going Ranger though, because if a Ranger and a Senator were locked in a room, I'm thinking the Ranger would prevail.

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 Washington Capitals: A very biased opinion, but I'm going bruin here. It's unfair; a beast versus a city. But put a bear out on an interstate or in someone's yard in DC, I'm betting the bear gets all the attention. Plus, I am reading the Hunger Games, so "Down with the Capital! Go Mockingjay!"

#3 Florida Panthers vs #6 New Jersey Devils: Devil over a kitty cat. Certainly.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Philadelphia Flyers: Ha! Flyers because penguins can't fly.

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Los Angeles Kings: A king is winning here. Unlimited power (old school kings) versus a Canadian (which is what the word canuck means). After all, the Canadians are still under the British monarchy, so yeah. Kings.

#2 St. Louis Blues vs #7 San Jose Sharks: A shark versus feeling sad. I'd rather feel sad than go mano-a-mano versus a shark. So the shark wins here.

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs #6 Chicago Blackhawks: Didn't Native Americans kill coyotes and wear their hides? Blackhawks.

#4 Nashville Predators vs #5 Detroit Red Wings: This is a real tough call. An extinct species that was a great hunter versus a wing that aids in flight, or could cause indigestion if it's like a red hot wing. Sitting alone, a bird wing isn't going to cause that much damage though. It needs to be attached to a bird or something. It's an appendage. You know, I've got to go with a red wing. Even if it is kinda worthless on its own, there are still red wings in today's world. They didn't go extinct. Red Wings.

So, what are the point tallys from my hockey predictions, my non-hockey preferences, the uniforms, the mascots, and the nicknames?

#1 New York Rangers vs #8 Ottawa Senators: OTT 3, NYR 2

#2 Boston Bruins vs #7 Washington Capitals: WSH 3, BOS 2

#3 Florida Panthers vs #6 New Jersey Devils: NJD 5, FLA 0

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Philadelphia Flyers: PHI 4, PIT 1

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Los Angeles Kings: VAN 4, LAK 1

#2 St. Louis Blues vs #7 San Jose Sharks: SJS 4, STL 1

#3 Phoenix Coyotes vs #6 Chicago Blackhawks: CHI 5, PHX 0

#4 Nashville Predators vs #5 Detroit Red Wings: DET 4, NSH 1

So, in the adjusted predictions, it's the Devils and the Blackhawks in the Finals. And it would be the Devils because they would win out in almost every one of those five categories. The Blackhawks had the advantage of going against Phoenix and more often won out because they weren't as bad as Phoenix in all the categories.

But, if I had to legit choose based on things that actually matter (on ice performance, not mascots and uniforms), I'm going with Detroit over the Rangers in 7 games. An Original 6 matchup. Maybe there is a bit of wishful thinking here, but hey. That's my honest to goodness pick right now. Still rooting officially for the Sharks though for no good reason.

Gwinnett Gladiators Eliminated

The Gladiators season ended Sunday late in the second overtime period.

This was after a defeat during the fourth overtime period on Friday night.

The Gladiators went 1-3 in the playoffs.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Kelly Cup Playoff Merchandise

From the Gwinnett Gladiators...

Nice. I consider it a jab at the ASG, not the Thrasher fans. I may be misguided, but that's how I see it.

Be sure to check the Glads Website for playoff, ticket and merch information.

Gwinnett Ties Series

Thanks to Joey Haddad, the Gladiators erased a late 2-1 deficit to beat the Stingrays 3-2 in North Charleston.

This evens the series which now moves to the Arena at Gwinnett Center. The first game in Gwinnett is Friday with Game 4 on Sunday. If needed, Game 5 will be on Monday also in Gwinnett.

Atlanta Braves Open Season Today

Okay, so I decided to try a new way to post pictures and it kinda doesn't work. I don't have time to correct it at this moment, so just suffer for the time being. To view the entire picture, simply click on it.

The Atlanta Braves open up their season in New York this afternoon at 1:00.

I know. It's not hockey. But the Braves do pay the bills, so I must honor them.

By the way, do you like the map up there? Someone did a hockey version a few years ago.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Most Disciplined Team

There was an interesting article that looked at the suspensions and fines dished out this season. As it turns out 22 of the 30 teams have had at least one player suspended at some point during the season. The Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, Winnipeg Jets and New Jersey Devils are all suspension free in the new Shanahan era.

However, only one of those teams is free of supplimental fines as well. That would be the Vancouver Canucks.

They are the fourth most penalized team when you look at PIM, but don't commit the big fouls that get the attention of the Office of Player Safety. But they lead in the "victim" category. They have drawn 3 fines and 5 suspensions against opponents.

Now, we all know that suspensions are not exactly a science. Plenty of questionable calls happen that get a suspension and those that aren't noteworthy getting a two or three game ban. It is subject to opinion. And there are a few incidents that could have perhaps called for more discipline from Vancouver:

Sturm. Kesler. Maybe Sedin.

Of course, it is not just the Canucks that have potentially escaped the Shanahammer. They are just the only ones that have escaped it all season.

Still, it stokes the flames that the NHL is biased (not that I am suggesting they are). Like the people thinking that the NHL is trying to rig it so that Los Angeles makes the playoffs.

That's right. The Oilers's coach was fined $10,000 for comments made about the referees giving favorable treatment to the Kings because the NHL wants them in the playoffs.

If the NHL is rigging it, they need a new system as the Kings are still not playoff bound with only 2 games to go.

Speaking of playoffs, the New York subway system is clearly on board with the BlueShirts.

Link to video

I can only imagine what kind of graffiti will be done by visiting fans. Cool concept though.

Gwinnett Drops First Playoff Game

For the first time all season, the Gwinnett Gladiators were shut out. And it couldn't happen at a worse time: game one of the opening round of the playoffs.

The Glads are playing the South Carolina Stingrays again tonight at 7:00 before returning home on Friday.

The ECHL first round in their Conference is a best of five series which mean the Gladiators will only play games 4 and 5 if necessary, both at home since the Glads clinched home ice advantage.

Games 4 and 5 would be on Sunday at 2:00 and Monday at 7:00.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Raffi's New Hockey Song

Well, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.

You may recall that Raffi was concerned about the growing violence in hockey and actually called for a protest in December. Now, he's written a song about hockey.

A very different song than, say, the song played when the Winnipeg Jets score a goal.

The good ol' hockey game...

I like both songs, for different reasons of course. With Raffi's, it is nice to be inclusive of all genders, talk about teamwork, things like that. A thermos, snacks and so on. These are the things you'd expect, and frankly we need, from a beloved children's performer.

And I like how he has an old school Vancouver jersey on, but hides it. Perhaps not to show too much favoritism. Or legal reasons.