NHL General

Clark the Canadian Hockey Goalie

Another day… hey no hockey fight video. But we do have this great short film from 2003. This is pretty damn funny. “Screen! Screen!!” (thanks to Off Wing Opinion)


Feb 22 in Sports History: The Miracle on Ice

In 1998: Players on the United States Olympic hockey team celebrated their failure to reach the medal round and their 1-4 record with a trashing of their hotel rooms that would’ve made The Who jealous. Despite an “investigation,” it was never revealed which players were responsible for over a thousand dollars worth of damage at the Nagano, Japan Olympics.

But thankfully, February 22, 1980 was a date in sports history that put USA Hockey in a little bit better light. Between 5 P.M. and 8 P.M on a Friday evening in Lake Placid, NY, a group of college kids from the United States pulled off the greatest sports moment of the 20th Century (according to Sports Illustrated). Facing the almighty Soviet Union in the first game of the men’s ice hockey medal round, the Americans won 4-3. The Russians were an unstoppable locomotive in international competition. They came into the 1980 games having won four consecutive gold medals, destroying every NHL team in its wake in a series of exhibitions, and for good measure, toying with U.S coach Herb Brooks’ very same amateurs in a pre-Olympic tune-up the week before the games with a 10-3 drubbing at Madison Square Garden.

But on this day, the Americans would surprise everybody. The Russians came out clicking, scoring two goals in the first, but a strange thing happened: the Americans wouldn’t go away. Trailing 2-1 in the closing seconds of the first period, the USSR defensemen eased up for a spilt second before the horn sounded, allowing American Mark Johnson to race in and beat uber-goalie Vladislav Tretiak to tie the score 2-2. Then, Soviet coach Viktor Tihkinov made probably the dumbest move in sports history: he decided to replace Tretiak, who was considered the finest goalie in the world at the time. Still, the Russians led 3-2 going into the final period. Only the goaltending of Jim Craig kept the Americans close.

In the third period, the Americans did what they had done in four of their first five Olympic contests: they overcame a deficit to win. Around the eight minute mark, they finally went on the power play and tied the score on another Mark Johnson goal. Then, with exactly ten minutes to go, team captain Mike Eruzione got the puck at the blue line and (while ABC announcer Ken Dryden was babbling over the great Al Michaels), flipped a shot that beat the Russian goaltender to give Team U.S.A their first lead of the game. The scene that followed gave every American goosebumps: Eruzione danced down the ice as the entire team stormed off the bench to celebrate with him (most who were watching–albeit on tape delay–did too).

Team U.S.A held on the final ten minutes, and their victory was punctuated by the greatest call ever, by Al Michaels: “Do you believe in Miracles? YES!!”

The Miracle On Ice, of course, was surrounded by the politics of the Cold War. Was it was beating those “commie bastards” in something, anything that made people feel good? Was it the fact that the Russians didn’t actually play anywhere near to their standards in the final half of the game (yes folks, the Russians played poorly, watch the tape…)? Or was it just a fine exhibition of perseverance and dedication with an unwavering belief by a group of kids who didn’t know any better? Whether it was one or all three, it didn’t matter because it just made people feel good.

It should always be remembered that this game didn’t give the Americans any medal. They had to beat Finland two days later to wrap up the gold. Of course, as an athletic contest, it was the greatest moment in our sporting history. But, this victory took on so much more meaning to the American people that it will never be forgotten throughout our history.

P.S. Apologies that the cliche and hyperbole filter wasn’t working due to rust. But there’s something about this game that you just can’t help but let it go.

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Early Movers and Shakers

[Editor’s Note: Welcome to the inaugural “Crashing the Zamboni”, a daily blog by Eric Caterina. Eric will be covering the NHL this year for Sportscolumn.]

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Lindy.

So we’re just about a month into the NHL season, and already things have begun to take shape. Some teams have stormed out of the gates, firing on all cylinders — while others are still wondering where to find their helmets.

1. Ice Melters

Buffalo Sabres (10-0-1; 1st in Eastern Conference)
Buffalo is an obvious choice here. Sure, they finally suffered a loss, but after breaking a team record and tying an NHL record for most consecutive wins to open a season, they deserve some kudos. Looks like Lindy Ruff’s Sabres are well on their way to avenging last year’s loss in the Conference Finals.
Atlanta Thrashers (8-1-3; 2nd in Eastern Conference)
Call them the Hotlanta Thrashers. Scoring 45 goals in just 12 games (second to aforementioned Buffalo in that stat), the Thrashers are on their way to a stranglehold of the Southeast Conference. They are the only team to beat the Sabres so far this year, downing Buffalo 5-4 on Saturday night.
Minnesota Wild (9-2-0; 2nd in Western Conference)
Living up to their name, this team is going wild in Minnesota. Netminder Manny Fernandez is having a stellar year, only allowing 19 goals in 11 games (he is 8-2 in that span). Maybe the loss of Roloson wasn’t as bad as many people thought after all.
Anaheim Ducks (8-0-3; 1st in Western Conference)
They dropped “Mighty” from the name, but have kept it in their game. All is well right now in Anaheim, and they aren’t showing many signs of slowing up. Still undefeated in regulation play, the Ducks will have to hold on to the top spot in a tough Pacific Division.

2. Stuck in the Freezer
Philadelphia Flyers (2-7-1; Last in Eastern Conference)
Right now, the Philadelphia Flyers are in need of some brotherly love. Philly is off to an atrocious start, and it’s tough to say when things will start to look good again. GM Bob Clarke resigned, coach Ken Hitchcock was fired, and captain Peter Forsberg is fighting the injury bug.
Phoenix Coyotes (3-9-0; Last in Western Conference)
Their slogan this year is “A Decade in the Desert”, but the Phoenix Coyotes are anything but hot. Phoenix has been an ugly franchise seemingly ever since they made the switch to Arizona from Winnipeg. Head coach Wayne Gretzky’s job is in question, and like Forsberg on the Flyers, captain Shane Doan has been battling injuries.
Calgary Flames (3-5-1; 13th in Western Conference)
Even with the mighty Miikka Kiprusoff (try saying that five times fast) between the pipes, the Calgary Flames are struggling. In a bit of a surprise, Calgary is sitting last in the Northwest division, and need to do some work to climb back to the top. With guys like Alex Tanguay and Jerome Iginla, a comeback is not out of the question- but in a division that tough, it won’t be easy.
Boston Bruins (3-5-1; 14th in Eastern Conference)
Beantown is beaten up this year. With an abysmal offense (scoring only 19 goals thus far), Boston is reeling. Thanks to Buffalo, the Bruins have no shot at contending for the Northeast Division title. Looks like Boston just has to sit and wait until the next Bobby Orr comes around, which won’t happen for a long, long time.

Game of the Night: Atlanta @ Toronto

Thrashers look to snap seven game losing streak against Toronto.

The Last Shot
The reason for the Sabres’ early success? Of course, it has to be the new uniforms – ugliest in the league!

LA Lakers

Odds and Ends for Wed May 17 2006: Kobe as the blue Power Ranger

According to Ben, Kobe is “lined up” (whatever that means) to play the Blue Power Ranger in the upcoming 2007 series Power Rangers Relic Hunters. We have no idea why this is important but it’s just so odd and we wanted to work on our photoshop skills, paltry as they may be.

In other news…

[Lakers Blog]: More Kobe! Kobe will be in the TNT studio tonight as a guest analyst. Let the blackberries fly.

[Off Wing Opinion]: Video of the best hockey hits from the 2005-2006 season.

[El Lefty Malo]: Some Giants fan isn’t happy with Russ Springer throw at Bonds shoulder. In defense of Springer, we think it was just the gravitational pull of Barry’s enormous head.

[MSNBC]:Dammit Ma, we told you to stay away from Wrigley Field!

Real Odd of the Day: Larry Brown 4.5 to 1 to coach NY next season but 3.5 to 1 to coach Sacramento.

Boston Bruins

Bruins reality show coming in November

Xbox skills are transferable!

We knew the Bruins were bad but they’ve reached a new low: looking for players through a reality show. NESN must be desperate for hockey related ratings. Filming has started for “Be a Bruin”, a competition where anyone who pays $100 can try out to be a Boston Bruin. Former Bruin greats Brad Park, Terry O’Reilly and Gerry Cheevers wll play the Simon, Paula and Randy roles.

Yesterday, about 200 people showed up for the first round of the tryouts. Out of those, 36 contestants will be invited to an all expenses paid week of competition in July where the field will be whittled down to one goalie, one defenseman, and one forward. Those three will be invited to the Bruins training camp with a shot at making the team. Everything will be filmed and there will be 8 episodes on NESN.

It’s a longshot but hell, for $100, you can tell everyone that you once tried out for an NHL team. That kind of story pays for itself many times over in “interesting-facts-about-me” you can tell chicks in a bar. Or to Alex Trebek if you ever get on Jeopardy.

[Boston Herald]: Wanna be a Boston Bruin? Now’s your chance
[Be A Bruin]: Official site

NHL General

Lindy Ruff vs Ken Hitchcock

After getting pasted 6-0 in the first period of last night’s playoff hockey game against the Sabres, the Flyers started getting a little chippy as they say in hockey and took a bunch of penalties in the second period. Of course, Flyers fans will say they were just sending a message for the next game, which is one of the great things about hockey.

After the game, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said that the Flyers were playing “like idiots”. When told about Ruff’s comments, Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said, “That’s Lindy’s opinion. I’ve seen his teams do the same things. Lindy ought not to talk about that.” OK…no news so far… then as he was walking out of the presser, Hitchcock added:

Tell Lindy to fuck off, to mind his own fucking business.

Sure, it was a calculated move to deflect attention from his own team but you gotta love hockey coaches for saying stuff like this.

[]: Ruffly speaking, Hitchcock offers fighting words