Can I Get an Amen?

I can’t do this forever, but I could do it all day long for now.

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The Avs have first place in the league locked up.

That is all.

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Ducks vs.Leafs: At Study in WTF

I was prepared to do an entire write up of tonight’s Leafs – Ducks game. Instead, I was as inspired to recap the game as the Ducks were to play hockey tonight.

This game was one of the worst games I have ever seen live. I have been to many hockey games over the past several years, seen many levels of hockey, from juniors to the NHL, from international competitions to the low minors, and I can easily say that tonight’s tilt was the most pathetic display of hockey I have ever witnessed.

In fact, there is no reason to do a descriptive write up, or any sort of analysis. The best I can say is that the Ducks decided to honor the return of Brian Burke, Francois Beauchemin, and Francois Allaire by giving them, handing them, boxing up and tying a pretty pink bow around the Leafs first win. Because, you know, what are friends for?

Here are some pictures. All photos can be made larger. Just click on them. Nuff said.

Warmups:

“What do you think? Do we have a shot in hell?”

“Nope.”

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A sea of blue.

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Bow chick a wow wow. Porno-stache is looking right at you.

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Even the Leafs fans have better things to do.
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That’s the monster.
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This one is for Eddie of the Puck Podcast. I skated with him before the Ducks game. Awesome guy. We recorded a few podcast segments, one for The Rink, and one for the Puck Podcast. I will link to them soon. But he knows what this picture is about.
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Hey, it’s Brian Burke! Hey! Hey, Brian! Hey!

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OK, on to the game.

See, this is where it all went wrong. The opening face off. The Ducks iced the puck immediately, and it all went downhill from there.

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The sad part of the Orr – Parros fight was that I didn’t get a picture of Colton Orr shoving the linesman away from the first, and knocking said linesman down. If you don’t think refs show restraint on the ice, you would be wrong.

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A nice little tribute to the returning heros. After that, it was back to the scrapping.
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Hey, Whitney, you going somewhere? Are you?
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Yeah, that’s what I thought.

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A moment of happiness for the Ducks.
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Todd Marchant didn’t make it much past this moment, and after a check into the boards later in the period, walked straight back to the dressing room, never to return.

Back to business.

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As always, the equipment is the real loser.
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The Ducks were…. pathetic. My ticket should be a half off coupon to the next game. I wish I had more to say, other than congrats to the Leafs. Don’t take this as a sign of better things to come. Yo didn’t play a real hockey team tonight.

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I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying…

The Avalanche are tied for first place in the league.

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I know it won’t last. I know 11 games are not an entire season. But I’m going to cherish this moment. I hope you do to.

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Avalanche vs. Red Wings. Catch it!

Another night on the DVR. There is a certain anxiety in these games I watch after work. I don’t want to watch the Avs lose, and certainly not to the Red Wings. Even though this is a rebuilding year, there is a feeling that these kids are ready for the big time, thanks to the hot streak they are on.

But of course I’m going to watch. Avs vs. Red Wings. The rivalry lives!

– Mike Babcock has bitter beer face to start the game.

– Todd Bertuzzi gets booed right off the bat. And what do you expect?

– I’m disappointed by the quantity of red jerseys and shirts around the glass.

– I wonder how Matt Duchene about the Red Wings. As a fan as a kid, does he have a reaction to the winged wheel? I hope so. I doubt we will ever know for sure, considering how coached with the media young hockey players are.

– It’s only 6 1/2 minutes into the first period, and the Red Wings look fairly ordinary. I may eat these words later in the game (and I will leave them here regardless), but they don’t look like the scary Wings of last season. Remember how hard it was last season to forecheck against them? Remember how hard it was to knock them off the puck? How about their short passes and quick decisions? There have been some nice moves by a few individual players, but as a team, they don’t look like the same elite team as last season. And as Tom and I talked about on episode 49 of the Rink Podcast, they are having salary cap issues that are changing their team strategy. And it’s fun to watch.

– I love watching hockey in HD. I would totally give up going to the Pepsi Center for a year to buy an HDTV. But I didn’t see an HD hockey game when Mike Ricci was playing.

– Double minor on Paul Stastny. This is not a position you want to be in against the Wings, even if it is the “new look” Wings.

– Was McNab just praising the work of Scott Hannan from the Canes game? Apparently, McNab was blinking when Hannan was shooting.

– Adam Foote is down from taking a puck in the face. He already is looking a little rough.

– I hate hearing the “Let’s Go, Red Wings” chant loud and clear at Le Can. HATE. IT.

– Bertuzzi conveniently slides into Craig Anderson, but gets away with it. Simply put, if Bertuzzi does anything suspect, he’s guilty of something. Perception is reality when dealing with him.

– With 5 seconds left in the first, Brett Clark thinks he’s Bobby Orr and skates end to end. Of course, he only makes it half way down the ice by the time the buzzer sounds, but why should that stop him.

– At the first intermission, we are treated to a Dos Equis commercial without any dialogue. I think it was greatly improved.

– DVRs are great. You can fast forward past Brian Engblom.

– Craig Anderson makes a stacked pad save on a breakaway, and gets up in a labored way. Taking a knee to his head could be part of it, but at this point, I sure hope Tyler Weiman is ready to stand on his head.

– The Wings get on the board first. Does that bother me? Maybe a little. Does seeing Todd Bertuzzi skate in smiling to congratulate Kris Draper bug me more? You bet.

– If I have any real criticism for the Avalanche right now, it’s that they aren’t making high percentage passes. You can’t pass the puck through three opponents and expect good results over and over. While it didn’t cost them much in the first period, it hurt them in the second.

– That’s the way to clear a puck, O’Reilly. Now show the rest of the team.

– It’s just past midnight, and the Avs have killed a penalty. I am a time traveller who only can see the past.

– Nice to see Marek Svatos working hard on the forecheck. It’s not like he had a few minutes rest in the penalty box. Oh wait.

– Wilson knocks down Bertuzzi, and the crowd goes wild.

– TJ Galiardi roofs it from the backhand. And the Avs not collapsing and forechecking the Wings led to the goal as much as anything.

– Look, I’m all for booing Todd Bertuzzi. In fact, if you put a sign or light up that signaled when I was supposed to boo, I would be happy to join in. But if I’m at the game, I have a lot more on my mind than watching one player I don’t like.

– Seriously, how much are the Wings going to abuse Anderson? This is getting old.

– Avs back in the box. Duchene takes a hooking penalty. That isn’t his first penalty in the NHL, is it? (the boys say it is)

– Quincey gets a little too cute in front of the net, and instead of clearing the puck on a penalty kill, he almost turns it over about ten feet from Craig Anderson. This is how you make a Tapeleg jump.

– As much as I bust on the Altitude announcing crew, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have the Avalanche feed of this game. If I had to listen to the Detroit homer instead of the Colorado homers, I would be going nuts right now.

– I don’t like hearing that the Wings are outshooting the Avs after two periods, but it doesn’t surprise me.

– Pavel Datsyuk is doing his best to prove John Buccigross wrong.

– :38 seconds into the Avalanche power play that starts the third period, and you start to see why the Wings aren’t the elite team they used to be. Not that they are a bad team (I hate them, but I can see them as a hockey team as well), but last season, they wouldn’t have been owned that bad in their own zone, even when they were a man down.

– When Quincey says “Go, Go,” you go. I don’t care if you are Scott Hannan, you freaking go.

– Chris Stewart gets the go ahead goal. As he was coming down the ice, I was barking, “Skate! Skate!” And he did. I consider myself qualified to be an NHL assistant coach.

– “It doesn’t look like he wants to go back to Cleveland.” Think about that sentence, guys. Next time you say it, think about how silly it sounds.

– My laugh line of the game? “Hey coach, this water bottle is broken.” You had to be there.

– Paul Stastny is going to take a lot of crap for getting his stick up high.

– Another penalty against the Avalanche. I have a new first name Scott Hannan, and it starts with an F. And it’s probably what you think it is.

– “O’Reilly lifts it out of the zone.” See? again, that is how you do it. And the lesson seems to have been learned.

– Stastny in the box again? You can see the frustration on his face when it happens.

– Who gave Mike Babcock the big boy crayons? He’s drawing on the bench again.

– It absolutely frustrates me to see players gliding to the bench when making a line change in a highly intense situation. The puck is cleared, Howard gets the puck and fires it up ice, and the next thing we see is an Avalanche player gliding to the bench. Too many players get away with this. We know you were skating hard for your shift, but your shift isn’t over until the door to the bench is shut.

– Brad May. Healthy scratch. That is what $500,000 dollars buys you these days.

– OK, Stastny, you are out of the doghouse. The empty net goal to seal the deal.

– Hannan. There is no way the Avalanche are going to lose this game, but Hannan can’t help but make it interesting. He is earning that new first name.

Avalanche. Win. The Avalanche beat the Red Wings at home. The Wings went 0 for 8 on the power play.

The Avalanche are tied for first place IN THE LEAGUE!

Craig Anderson gives the fans serious props, earning the love of the fans., myself included. You have to love this guy. Back to back starts, and he still comes up huge, making 48 saves, against a team hungry for a win, who still have some serious skill, even if their team makeup has changed dramatically.

I’ll have more on this Avalanche team soon. Until then. 8-1-2. Nuff said.

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Avs vs. Canes: A Few Notes

I haven’t done a game report in a while. Mine aren’t like your average game recaps. My “insight” and focus goes in different directions. Enjoy.

– The amount of turnovers in the first six minutes were mind boggling. It seemed like everyone had a number eight on their back.

– Is there a reason for Scott Hannan shooting the puck? Seriously, he has to be the least effective shooter in the league. When he lifts his stick for a slap shop, goalies around the league must laugh and laugh.

– Mike Babcock, Head Coach of the Red Wings, must be an Avalanche fan. He was at the game. (anyone see him after the game? Maybe give him the Englewood Jack?)

– When you see the Hurricanes lines all together in a grid, you realize they have a four effective lines. Nothing flashy, just solid.

– Hannan takes another shot. The puck trickles off his stick as though a large box fan were blowing on it.

– A long shot of the ice shows a lot of empty seats behind the net. Oh, there will be snarky blogs written. Me? I’m enjoying some HDTV action. I’m in San Diego, so I can’t go, but I can tell you this. For the money you spend at the rink, and the “show” you get when you are there, I would rather be watching at home in HD. (looks like a lot of people agree with me)

– Duchene has an incredible tip in front of the net that was a few degrees from being dangerous. The Carolina announcers called Duchene a phenom, but I think you need a little more than one goal before that can be said. (note to homers: I am critical of the team, as well as being a fan. You will get used to it)

– O’Reilly digs the puck out and puts the Avs on the board. The puck probably wouldn’t have gone in had O’Reilly not taken as long as he did to drag the puck out with his backhand.

– Paul Stastny with a backhander fools Cam Ward. Do not give Stastny room in front of the net.

– There is nothing worse than announcers talking about themselves. This is the Canes feed BTW.

– The Darcy Tucker injury doesn’t look good. Watching Tucker’s left foot twitch is awful to watch. The silence on the broadcast is almost as scary. Watching him, his right side seems to be moving just fine, but the left side doesn’t look good.

– Someone needs to take the Patrick Roy and Ray Bourque banners down and wash them. They look yellow compared to Joe Sakic’s retired number.

– “And he needed that swallow. He didn’t need a gargle there.” What the hell does that mean?

– Hejduk gets the Avs on top. Stastny with the pass, and Duchene getting abused on the side of the net, which actually helped the Avalanche score.

– Wolski gets one paw out of the doghouse with the fourth goal of the game for the home team. The Canes say Wolski has 5 goals already. It’s hard to believe, considering the puck seems to go right to the opposing team off his stick (maybe it;s his sticks).

– “Anderson scampers off…” Scampers? Does Cam Ward “scamper?” I doubt it.

– I know this will to sound weird, but there are times I think Duchene shoots too often. Sometimes he looks like he is only thinking shot when he gets the puck on his stick. I don’t think he’s used to playing with skaters who can handle a quick pass or fast plays.

– A puck sneaks past Anderson, and we get a look at two very excited Canes fans at Le Can, who I’m guessing are the only Canes there.

– Wilson goes off for holding. It’s too bad. He was one arm too many from a good Rob Blake hip check.

– Paul Stastny clears the zone, making him the most effective penalty killer on the team.

– “That was an Orr-esque play.” Really, Canes guy? Pitkanien? Orr-esque? Maybe Colton Orr. Get real.

– Wait, the Avs play the Red Wings on Saturday? Who’s going to be in net? Does Anderson get back to back starts the day after playing this game? Yikes. Or will Tyler Weiman get thrown to the wolves? If it is, my Weiman jersey is going to get some use.

– Penalty shot? OK, good call. Anderson comes up huge with the save, and the Avalanche stay on top.

– Pitkanen goes to the box, putting the Canes down by two men, which the Avs take advantage of. How Orr-esque is that?

– Did they just say Kyle Cumiskey is the best skater on the Avalanche? OK, I’m done with these announcers. They are killing me. (I’m not a fan of our homers, but these homers are just as bad)

– 4:00 left in the game, and the Avs get their asses handed to them in around their own net. It isn’t pretty, and the best you can say is the puck stays out of the net. Beyond that, it was a cluster-F.

– Wolski has looked tired most of the period.

– Eric Staal should have been a little smarter at the end of the game. Of course, the same goes for Hannan, who got lucky when he fell to the ice, on top of a skate.

– Hey, Tyler Weiman has the number 30 on his jersey. My Weiman game issue has number 35.

AVALANCHE WIN!. It wasn’t a pretty win, and on the upside, there weren’t a lot of people there to see it. (attendance was 13,673, and it looked like less) Somehow, Scott Hannan leads the team in plus / minus, further destroying the credibility of that particular stat.

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I Know It Won’t Last

Look, it won’t last. There is no way it will last. But the top and bottom of the standings just make me happy. So damn happy.

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So happy….

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Alaska Aces Practice Day 2 Photos

Here are photos from day two of the Aces. As ever, click any photo to make the image larger.

A lot more players on the ice today.

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This one isn’t framed very well, but it has it’s upside, which is the puck in mid air.

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You know something’s going to happen in a moment:

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More photos after the break:
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Photos from Alaska Aces Practice Day 1

It’s been a solid 24 hours of hockey, from last night’s opening of the NHL season, to early morning hockey from Europe. And on top of that, I got to go to the first day of Alaska Aces training camp. And I took a ton of photos. Click any image to see them larger.

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He’s not dead, he’s resting:

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These guys did not have stitched on nameplates. I would best describe them as locker room plates velcroed on.

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Coach Brent Thompson hands out the drills:

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More after the jump.
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