Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Re-living the Devils' Cup run in 1995, Part 1

The playoffs are just around the corner, which means that the playoffs are about to start, most Canadian teams are eliminated and there's no more shootouts!  Before the 2012 playoffs get under way, I wanted to take a look at each of the three Devils Stanley Cup runs.  Hopefully, this will get Devils fans in a playoff state of mind.  All videos in these posts are courtesy of YouTube user  .

PART ONE: 1995 New Jersey Devils Season in Review (plus first two rounds of the playoffs)

Coming off a 47-25-12 season in 1993-94, the Devils made a statement to the rest of the league that they were no longer the "Mickey Mouse organization" that Wayne Gretzky infamously named them in the early 1980s.  The Devils entering 1993-94 having made the playoffs in six of the past seven seasons, but after the famous Game 7 loss to the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals, it was time for the Devils to take the next step.  They finished second in goals for (306) and second in goals against (220) in 1993-94, so they had become a complete team, with youngster Martin Brodeur in net.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Biggest stories heading into the playoffs

"Alexander, how does it feel to replace Carrie Underwood as the face of the Predators?"
 Well, it's been another entertaining season of NHL hockey (except in New Jersey, since by definition, hockey in New Jersey has to be boring.  Even if that means Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise are classified as boring players.), which means the playoffs are just around the corner for the top eight teams from each conference.  We've seen a lot of interesting things this season, so here's a look at the top stories going into the playoffs.

Ottawa doesn't suck - Despite every single 'hockey expert,' plus Damien Cox, predicting the Senators to finish dead last in the Eastern Conference this season, they're a playoff team and might even finish as high as 2nd in the conference.  Yet management claims that their success this season has nothing to do with the fact that they threatened to trade the team's worst player to Edmonton at the end of the season.  Weird.

Radulov's back - After completing his fourth straight season in Russia's KHL, Alexander Radulov decided it was time to return to the NHL and the Nashville Predators.  This fulfills Caps' general manager George McPhee's bold prediction that 'Alexander will definitely be ready for the playoffs by the end of March.'

Florida Panthers are back in the playoffs - They haven't officially clinched a playoff berth yet, but barring a historic collapse, the Panthers will be a part of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in...umm, a very long time.  It's been so long, in fact, that Sean Avery hadn't pissed off anyone in the NHL yet.

Sharks on the playoff bubble - Since the lockout, hockey fans can be assured of two things: the Toronto Maple Leafs will miss the playoffs and the San Jose Sharks will collapse in the playoffs.  This season, the latter won't happen if the Sharks actually miss the playoffs.  This year's Sharks are so bad, in fact, that Martin Havlat is averaging fewer points per game than during his Minnesota days.  Think about that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Things that happen in the first 5 seconds of hockey games

Hey Torts, Y U HEFF TO BE MAD?

Last night at Madison Square Garden, the Devils and Rangers engaged in three simultanious fights immediately after puck drop (see below).

The results of this included an energized crowd, two angry coaches and some blood.  But was that the most interesting thing that has ever happened at the start of a hockey game?  I've thought of a few others, so you can make the decision for yourselves.

  • Rick DiPietro leaves the game with an undisclosed injury, such as itchy finger nail.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs are losing 4-0.
  • Sidney Crosby has already been named first star of the game.
  • John Tortorella is fuming, because the opposing coach actually started a line.
  • Zdeno Chara has stepped onto the ice, and all five opposing skaters gulp.
  • Kyle Wellwood has become famished.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Some St. Patrick's Day Traditions Across the NHL

Maybe fans will start throwing four leaf clovers onto the ice.  You know, there's four leafs, ugh, leaves and all...

Like many of us non-NHL players, several NHL players have various traditions that they follow every time St. Patrik (or Patrick)'s Day comes around.  I've put together a list of some of the traditions that people around the NHL.

Patrick Kane - Gets drunk.

Tim Thomas - Goes with a group of his friends to someone's house to party.  I can't swear by this, but I don't think it's a white house.

Adam Larsson - Has a tradition of insisting to bartenders that I.D.'s are a ridiculous way to proof people's age.

Boston Bruins - Have "Shipping up to Boston" playing constantly at TD Garden, which annoys no one, says Zdeno Chara, who's guarding the music room.

Patrick Kane - Still drunk.

Dustin Byfuglien - Upon drinking his fifth or sixth beer, he makes the mature decision not to drive drunk.  Instead, he often takes his boat out, which doesn't always end well for him.

Colorado Avalanche - Like most NHL teams, the Avs sell green t-shirts with their players names on the back and an added O', such as O'O'Brien, O'O'Byrne and O'O'Reilly.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

How to be a good road fan at an NHL game

Yes, it is proven to be more entertaining to be places where you're not wanted.  Just ask Sean Avery.
 Last night, I was a part of the Devils Generals' group that invaded Nassau Coliseum.  As much as Devils fans get annoyed when groups of visiting fans chant for their teams at Prudential Center, our cheers were loud and at times, well, obnoxious.  It got me thinking, how do you be a good road fan when you're on the road with your favorite team?  I've come up with a list of do's and don't's.

DO: Cheer when your team's players step onto the ice for warm-ups.
DON'T: Bang on the glass when Zdeno Chara is nearby, as you might be killed.

DO: Hi-five other fans of your team when you see them walking around the arena.
DON'T: Hi-five Rick DiPietro.  You might break him.

DO: Bring your own food, since the food is probably over-priced at the arena.
DON'T: Bring waffles to the Air Canada Centre.  It just won't end well for you.

DO: Engage in educated hockey conversations with visiting fans.
DON'T: Ask a Penguins fan who their favorite player before 2005 was.  They'll give you a blank stare.

DO: Laugh off home fans who make fun of your team.
DON'T: Tell them that their team sucks, especially if your team is out of the playoffs.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Players who could impact the NHL playoff race

"I start to play good when we fire our coach, hahahaha!!! ... we fired Bruce Who-dreau???"

As the NHL regular season winds down into its final quarter, the playoff race is tight in both conferences, despite Eastern Conference teams seemingly trying everything they can to miss the playoffs.  As you might expect, teams are banking on certain players to have a significant impact on the playoff race, so I figured I'd mention a few of them.

Sidney Crosby - Most times, teams are thrilled when players can have a positive impact on their own team, yet every time Sidney Crosby's name is mentioned in NHL locker rooms recently, goalies seem to freeze and pass out.  Except for Maple Leafs goaltenders, since they've already headed for the showers by the second period.

Ilya Bryzgalov - Ilya Bryzgalov seems to have saved his season, and there's a good reason why.  He's spent all season trying to find the exact spot in the universe where his former team, the Phoenix Coyotes will be playing next season, after finding no results for "2012-13 Coyotes season tickets."

Alexander Radulov - Due to a bizarre set of circumstances, Radulov might actually come to the NHL this season and play with the Preds in the playoffs.  If he gets the Preds past the first round, he'd be the first russian hockey player named "Alexander" to succeed in the NHL playoffs.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Which bubble teams will make the playoffs?


The playoffs begin in just over a month, and there's still plenty of teams that have a chance, or think they have a chance, to be a part of it this season.  As a hockey blogger, I feel that it is my duty to provide you with a carefully written and intelligent analysis of who I think will miss the playoffs and won't will miss them.  Naturally, I decided not to do that.  Instead, here's a hopefully more entertaining look at the "bubble" teams.

Winnipeg Jets

Why they can make the playoffs: Their fans would give up breathing if it meant seeing their team in the playoffs.
Why they can't make the playoffs: According to Pierre McGuire, they have many of the most underrated players in the league.  If Pierre McGuire says you're underrated, you must suck.  A lot.
Verdict: They could, and if they do, I hope the architects who built MTS Centre don't let the roof blow off.

Florida Panthers

Why they can make the playoffs: Lots of people like to take in games at BankAtlantic Center, such as Rangers, Bruins, Caps, Habs and Leafs fans.
Why they can't make the playoffs: If their top line can't carry them offensively, Jose Theodore becomes their biggest offensive threat.
Verdict: Then again, Jose Theodore has scored a goal before...

Washington Capitals

Why they can make the playoffs: Despite the injury to Nicklas Backstrom, they still have talent in Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and Mike Green.
Why they can't make the playoffs: Well, this isn't 2008, so Alex, Alex and Green are pretty useless.
Verdict: Perhaps this is all a plan, since finishing first in the Conference so many times didn't work out for Washington.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Why they can make the playoffs: Steven Stamkos can outscore your favorite team combined.
Why they can't make the playoffs: Mike Smith left Tampa Bay for a more up-and-coming hockey market.
Verdict: They have four active players on their roster from Ontario.  How could they not make the playoffs?

Monday, March 5, 2012

NHL Power Rankings - Week of March 5th, 2012

The regular season is winding down, and at this point, we know most of the teams who will participate in this spring's Stanley Cup playoffs.  We also know that others will hope to land Nail Yakupov in this June's entry draft.  All 30 teams get to be in the power rankings, so here's my top 30.

1. New York Rangers - I can't deny it anymore: the Rangers are the President's Trophy favorites, which by default, means they aren't Stanley Cup favorites.

2. Vancouver Canucks - The Canucks knew Cody Hodgson could never succeed in Vancouver, thus proving that no actual human beings can be superstar scorers in Vancouver.

3. St. Louis Blues - If Jamie Langenbrunner had sustained an injury last season with the Devils, fans probably would have celebrated.

4. Nashville Predators - Pekka Rinne : Vesa Toskala :: Ferrari : Kia

5. Pittsburgh Penguins - Here's a new outlook on the Penguins that nobody has thought of before me: if Sidney Crosby returns this season, the Pens are going to be reeeeally good.

6. Detroit Red Wings - They can't win at home.  Throw in the towel, the season's lost.

7. Chicago Blackhawks - The Hawks have found ways to win without Jonathan Toews.  Hopefully, before they can blink, Toews will be back.  Unless they're waiting for Toews to blink.

8. Philadelphia Flyers - Ilya Bryzgalov shut out the Caps last night.  Michael Leighton could have shut out the Caps last night.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Top 10 Video Special - Devils hat tricks since the lockout

On Friday, Zach Parise scored his second career NHL hat trick as the Devils slammed the Capitals, 5-0.  By my count, that's the 9th hat trick by a Devil since the 2004-05 lockout, which is one short of the necessary 10 for a DGA Top 10 Video Special, so I chose not to do one.


Just kidding.  Actually, I cheated.  Thanks to Gordie Howe, there's another kind of hat trick: the Gordie Howe hat trick.  I used the two Gordie Howe hat tricks this season and added the other 9 Devils hat tricks since the lockout (which is actually 11 videos), and here we go: the 17th Top 10 Video Special in the series.  Enjoy (also enjoy my attempts at awful titles for some of the hat tricks).

#10: Henrique and Kovy score, assist and scrap

On January 10th, 2012, the Devils played a miserable game in Calgary.  They lost 6-3, but at least Adam Henrique had a coming out party...of sorts.

On February 4th, 2012, Ilya Kovalchuk duplicated the feat, except Kovy's fight was much more dramatic.

#9: Maddog Rags on New York

This is the lone playoff hat trick of the countdown.  It comes against the New York Rangers, as the Devils went on to sweep the Rangers and capped off their 15-game winning streak.

#8: Gio's lone trick caps crazy game with the Leafs

Unfortunately, video footage of Brian Gionta's third goal of the hat trick exists, but he made it count, as he tied the game at 6.  The Devils won, 7-6 in overtime.

#7: Pando scores one game!

Jay Pandolfo scores the first hat trick in Prudential Center history.  It's his only career hat trick and it came in a 6-1 win over Tampa Bay.  It came on Halloween, 2007.