Sunday, December 31, 2006
Today is December 31st and it is 38 degrees outside. As we walked to my car from the hockey rink after practice today (yes, it was only practice, not a game as I anticipated yesterday), we got caught in a downpour. A friggin' downpour in December...unbelieveable. Where have the days of snow and cold gone? We should be skating outside and sliding down hills in sleds, but instead we are donning raincoats and cleaning out gutters. The picture above is of my backyard, usually the home of a pretty good sledding hill, but now I may have to mow it by the end of the week.
Anaheim Ducks in town tonight, which is probably fitting since this weather is only fit for ducks. I think we're catching Anaheim at the right time with both of their usual goalies hurt. Roy out.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
By the way, take a look at the new format of the site. I've changed things up a bit, hopefully for the better and will continue to add stuff as time allows. I've also decided to post about the Mites team I help coach; we have a game tomorrow morning at 9am against our bitter rivals, the Hurricanes. Hopefully I can get my 7 year old motivated and out of bed on time -- a can of Mountain Dew for breakfast usually helps. Roy out.
Friday, December 29, 2006
It's just fun to watch the Penguins play these days. They play an exciting brand of hockey that leads to a game of constant odd-man rushes on both ends of the rink. Fleury never has an easy shot to stop and watching Jordan Staal develop is fascinating. Add the best player in hockey and you've got a terrific product to watch.
The Wild on the other hand just aren't fun to watch these days. Dump and chase. Trap back. Dump and chase. Trap. Penalty kill. Dump and chase again and so on...
I know true hockey fans will say a tense 2-1 game is better than a 6-5 shootout, and I agree for the most part, but try watching twenty five straight 2-1 games in a row. It really wears a hockey fan down. We need Marian to return soon, however unlikely. (*)
(*) Be warned, reports are starting to leak out that Marian's done for the year. I hope I hope I hope these are unfounded, untrue rumors, but I'm starting to believe. If that's the case I may move to KC and start Penguin Puck Banter.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about the greatest players to play the game. The greatest player ever, to be more exact. If you throw out that question to hockey fans and scholars alike you'll hear responses varying from Gretzky to Orr, Howe to Mario and so on. It usually boils down to an argument of Gretzky vs. Orr.
First off, I should disqualify myself from talking intelligently about Bobby Orr. I never saw him play and I've only read accounts of his greatness. I'll trust the experts here and say that he was a giant amoung men and was one of the greatest ever.
Secondly, I should point out that I (like just about everyone in the 80's) was a HUGE Oilers fan. Gretzky and his teammates could do no wrong in my book; he was a god on ice to me and it almost seemed like blasphemy to me to question his place as the greatest ever. Until recently. As I read more and more and break down pages of statistics I have come to the albeit unpopular postion that while Gretzky was a rare talent, he wouldn't have achieved the accomplishments he did without Jari Kurri.
Take Kurri off those teams and Wayne's numbers decrease significantly. I'll even argue that they would've only won 2 or 3 cups w/o the Finnish winger; Jari was the straw that stirred the drink. Wayne was the charismatic one, Jari the soft-spoken Finn who let the brash Canadian steal the spotlight. He was Maris to Gretzky's Mantle.
There isn't much to support this theory, I'll grant you that. Oh sure, when Gretzky went to LA he still put up big numbers there, and oh sure, Kurri's numbers fell significantly when Gretzky left. The only thing I can point to here is that when Wayne was traded, Kurri was broken-hearted and loss his hockey focus. He started visiting Tim Horton's more and more and put on 20 pounds. A few years later Wayne even begged and pleaded for reunion and Kurri went to the Kings, but it wasn't the same.
Jari Kurri made Wayne Gretzky, of this I'm sure. Career stats: 601-797-1308.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
1. The team is playing much like my Mites team. It seems like all five skaters on the ice follow the puck like moths to a flame. There's no spreading out, just a conglomeration of Wild on the puck with no one to pass to. I'd even go as far to say that my Mites spread out on the ice better than the Wild do sometimes.
2. Manny gets spooked on the road for some reason. For much of the game last night he looked awesome, stopping everything in sight, but then, out of nowhere, he lets in some pretty weak shit. Two of the four Leafs goals last night were weak and that was the main reason they lost last night. Manny needs consistency like the Vikings need a passing game.
3. Props to Martin Skoula. I thought he had his best game this season last night and made some nice plays. At one point he even got into it with Sundin and showed some grit. Is there hope after all?
Back in Detroit tonight. I'm betting it'll be Manny to start, he'll give up a few softies in the first 10 minutes and then Backstrom will come in and shut the door. Prediction: Wild 9 (Demitra 5, Rolston 3, Ward 1), Red Wings 2 (Holmstrom, Legace).
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Then came the 2005-06 season. Both goalies started the season on equal footing, but after a few weeks it was clear that Manny was having the better year. Roloson looked shaky at times while Fernandez was stellar. Gradually over December and January Manny took the helm and Roloson was reduced to a back-up's role. So there we were at the trading deadline with a hot, younger goalie and an aging back-up that was coveted by several teams. Risebrough's logical move was to trade Roloson, and when he managed to get a #1 pick in return from Edmonton it seemed like a no-brainer. And when they turned that #1 pick into a key part of the Pavol Demitra trade I was ecstatic.
Fast forward to the present and you now see Manny's confidence shattered, his play inconsistent and his paychecks large. Meanwhile across the border, Roloson had a Conn Smythe-esque playoff run and has settled into the consistent goaltender the Oilers have been looking for for years. For the Wild to make the playoffs Manny needs to turn it around in a big way.
It pains me to say this because I truly thought Fernandez was going to be the strength of this team, but he has now become its weakness.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
I've come to realize the error of my ways in regards to this web site. The grind of having to post a recap after every game was wearing me down, detracting from my enjoyment of watching the greatest game on earth. Instead, I plan on giving random ramblings about the squad and an occasional rip on Martin Skoula. Now, onto today's entry.
The Wild play three of the next for games against the Red Wings. The stinkin' Red Wings 3 times in the next week. What kind of Christmas gift is that? I'd almost rather watch the Calgary Flames scrimmage themselves than watch the Wings 3 times in 7 days. My best guess on the upcoming games is that (a) the TV guys will praise Nik Lidstrom over and over and over (b) talk about the beauty of Dominic Hasek and (c) marvel about the age-defying abilties of one Chris Cheerios. Now that I know what's going to be said I can turn down the volume, crack a Guinness and enjoy the games in silence. Can I realistically hope that Martin will be a healthy scratch? A guy can wish. Roy out.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I know this is short notice, but Wild Puck Banter is taking a timeout. I need to take a step back from the blogging and watch the Wild from a different perspective to come up with some new thoughts. Fernandez and Skoula are wearing me out, and with Gaborik nowhere in sight I've lost some of the passion I had for the team. I hope to return in a few weeks with a new outlook.
For continued interesting hockey reads I highly suggest taking a look at any of the blogs listed to the right.
In my earlier post I didn't take into account that Fernandez wouldn't
show up. This is ridiculous, Dupuis scores a shortie to tie things up
in the first and then Manuel decides to check out. It goes without
saying that the Flames are tough to beat at home, but you can't spot
them 3 stoppable goals. Hopefully things turn around in Northern
Alberta tomorrow night.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
(*) You may get some arguments about this from some that Martin Havlat was this player, but me eyes were blinded by Pavolvision. Havlat is an amazing player that Chicago can build around .
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I'm looking forward to the upcoming game with Calgary a great deal. The Wild play the Flames 8 times this season, but this is the first encounter. It goes without saying that the Northwest Division is a tight one, so every game against a division foe is a big one. I'll be making chili-dogs if anyone wants to stop by and watch the game. Demitra will be back, but Marian's doubtful again.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
After the game NHL Executive Colin Campbell wrote "We certainly need a discussion with the review people. It should have been reviewed." From NHL Senior Vice President Mike Murphy: "This puck appears to be over the goal line, however we were not notified before the puck was dropped to resume play." Clearly a home town advantage for the Stars.
This shouldn't take away from the fact that Martin Skoula cost the team a point. With less than five minutes remaining in the game he coughed up the puck to Niklas Hagman who passed it to Jussi Jokinen for the game-tying goal. Skoula drew the ire of Lemaire, who said "I have no clue, I don't know what he was doing. I guess he didn't know either." Clearly Skoula should sit a few games to think about this.
Next up the suddenly hot Blackhawks on Tuesday. Roy out.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
1. The Wild suck right now and I'm not sure the entire problem is injuries. Even without Gaborik, Demitra, Walz, Boogaard and Foster they should be playing better than this. I counted 2 legit scoring chances at the game. 2.
2. From the "not exactly breaking news" department: Niklas Lidstrom is pretty good. After it was clear the Wild were not going to mount a serious attack I spent most of the game watching Lidstrom on the ice. The guy is awesome. His passes are always on the tape. His shots are always on net and hard. He is never out of position. If it's possible for him to be underrated, he is. Best player at this moment in the NHL.
I'm just fed up with my favorite squad now, and it's not going to get much better tonight in Dallas. They need a spark and they need it soon, we're falling in the Western Conference like a rock. Marian, where are you?
Friday, December 01, 2006
Friday night hockey at the X-Cel Energy Center doesn't get any better
than tonight when the Red Wings pay their first visit to St. Paul to
play the Wild. My key to the game is for the Wild to score more goals
than the Wings. Without Gaborik in the lineup this might be a
problem. I'll be in attendance at the game and try and take a few
grainy pictures from my cheap cell phone.