2 minutes for interference

The NHL Officials need to sit for a couple. Their horrific performance in last nights Canucks – Ducks game exemplifies what I have been seeing, reading, and hearing about in many of the games in this “new NHL”. Now, for the most part … I enjoy the changes the league has put in place. A crackdown on clutching and grabbing, hacking and slashing, and general interference was needed. But … WOW … has the pendulum swung in the other direction.
There were 32 minor penalties in the game last night, 14 in the first period. The Ducks at one point had 5 guys sitting in the box … looked like a scene straight out of Slapshot. The worst offense was a penalty on Jovo for hooking – it was a complete joke as there was no impedance of movement and no strength on the stick (which had one hand holding it and it angled behind him while he skated backwards). He ended up getting a extra 2 for a “door slam” as he got into the box. The “match-up” penalty against the Ducks was almost as bad as a “tap” on the hip of Linden as he was all alone resulted in a penalty shot (in which he made a perfectly executed forehand-backhand-overtop deke).
Fans are not watching the game to see power plays and penalty killing. If the league want to play a 4-on-4 game — then lets change the definition of “full strength”. But when only 5:52 of a period is played 5-on-5 it is a horrible game to watch.

1756 games – 1887 points – 6 cups

Photo found at Sportsecyclopedia.com
So, another of my old Oilers squad retires after putting in 25 years of blood and sweat. The original “power forward”, Mark Messier became one of the games most exciting players though hard work and determination. Starting out as a key element in the Edmonton dynasty, Messier helped himself to 5 cups (one in the post Gretzky era) before moving on to the New York Rangers. In 1994, he helped the Rangers shatter the dreams of a Canucks stanley cup. He later joined the Canucks for three short years before returning to the Rangers.
Messier was a force on the ice, his leadership, determination, and grit has marked him as one of the games greatest players … the only question is “what is next?”. Will he join his old teammates of McTavish, Huddy, Simpson, and Lowe back in Edmonton? … Gretzky in Phoenix? … maybe the staff of the Rangers? … only time will tell.
Thanks for the years #11

Game on

Today I read a posting, Idiots Guide to the NHL Lockout, on ESPN.com by Bill Simmons. The story, while it does make some decent points, is overall a sham. He focuses the games rough nature and the fighting as the only saving graces of the NHL. Forget the skill, the power and the grit that makes up each game. He leaves me believing that he doesn’t enjoy a game unless a fight breaks out. Pity! Personally, I like the one-on-one battles in the corner or in front of the net. I love the slick passing plays. I love the grind that it takes to kill that 2-man penalty. Forget the fighting, give me a good clean hit that rattles the entire arena. The game, however, did have its issues … and I think the new CBA and rule changes are a good step in the right direction. But then, unlike Bill, I have been waiting for the game to come back …
I came across this article through Krishen and realized that a comment could not provide the full context of my thoughts. So, after being prompted, I will diverge from my regular posting of little Joe (against my mothers wishes I am sure) … but lets tackle the end of the hockey lockout and the future of the “coolest game on earth”.

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Top of the world

Logo of Hockey Canada

Well, it has been an exciting couple weeks of hockey. As we had done time and time again, we joined Krishen and Darren at the Rose Center for another great game. Squeaking by the Czechs on Saturday, it was time to meet the Finns who fought from behind to over take the US.
The stage was set with pizza in the oven and beer in the fridge … and within the first minute the ‘big’ line of Lemieux, Sakic, and Iginla clicked with a nice play to put the Canucks up by one. But typical of the Finns, they came back with an answering goal before the period was out. This was repeated again in the second period leaving it to Shane Doan to place the go-ahead goal past Kiprusoff 32 seconds into the 3rd. The Finns keeps coming … but this time they were held off the score board by a aggressive Canadian fore-check.
With that Team Canada skated to a 6-0-0 record having never trailed during the tournament. It was nice to see as this young team will be around for some time … now only if both the owners and unions could swallow their pride we could get on with a great hockey season.

Puck drop

Featuring ‘Antique Gold’, Team Canada is sporting the jersey of the 1920 gold metal team. Like em?

As in times past, last night Melissa and I made our way through the slush and sludge to everyone’s favorite sports complex “Rose Center” (aka. Darren’s house). Up on the big screen was Canada vs USA in this the 2004 World Cup … and what a game. As Krishen mentions, at first Canada looked like it was going to run away with the game. However, Sakic’s goal to put Canada up by 2 seemed to be a wake up call to the US squad. They started getting a little rough, running Brodeur … little more stick work … and a nasty little hit from behind late in the 2nd. Not all infractions were called and it inevitably push Canada off its game. To the point where Mario even stepped in after the goalie abuse was pushed a step too far.
Canada picked it up a little more in the 3rd and was able to hold off numerous chances for the US to tie. By the closing 5 minutes the US was back to being frustrated as Canada was again pressuring. Robert Esche played on heck of a game, with the the number of chances the Canada had throughout the game it was a wonder it was not a complete blow-out.
Tonight … Canada vs Slovakia … though they will be playing without Canucks star Ed Jovanovski who is out due to a “lower body” injury.