Vancouver Canucks

Odds and Ends: Watch out for the crackers!

Endorsement deal coming up

Vancouver Canuck Brent Sopel enters the stupid injury hall of fame after he got a back spasm while bending down to pick up a cracker. He missed the morning practice and the epic 4 OT game last night between the Canucks and the Stars. That’s gotta be the weakest injury since Marty Cordova missed a game because he spent too much time under a tanning bed.

What? Were you expecting a Chris Rock joke?

In other news…

[AOL Sports]: Jason Whitlock: “I’m calling for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, the president and vice president of Black America, to step down.”

[Sports by Brooks]: So that’s what Elizabeth Shue has been up to

[Flash Warner]: Would it really make a difference if the Raiders had an easy schedule?

[AOL Fanhouse]: Super-Gangsta Stu Scott says calling a woman a Ho is “affectionate”. And when we call Stu a douchebag, it’s a term of endearment.

[Egotastic]: Will Ferrell + Jenna Fischer in a corset = awesome. (via Mr. Irrelevant)

And finally, two different takes on Drew Bledsoe’s retirement. This one is nice. This one is just mean.

NHL General

Jordin Tootoo gets five games for punching out Robidas

We filed this one under fights but it’s not much of one. Jordin Tootoo was suspended five games for a one punch knockout of Stephane Robidas. We think the NHL overreacted a little in the wake of the thuggery that’s been happening over the past couple of months. Let’s go to the video…

In reviewing this incident, Stephane Robidas appeared to be initiating a confrontation by approaching Jordin Tootoo,” NHL senior executive vice-president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell said in a statement. “While a player is entitled to defend himself, Mr. Tootoo’s forceful blow to Robidas’ head was an overly aggressive and inappropriate response.

The fact that Mr. Tootoo’s actions resulted in an injury to his opponent also was a factor in this decision.

Exactly, Robidas was coming to plant Tootoo into the boards just because Tootoo drilled Modano with a clean hit. It wasn’t a sucker punch. It wasn’t a cheap shot. Tootoo’s instincts took over and he just swung and connected. It’s unfortunately for Robidas that he has a glass jaw but he was the aggressor in that situation. Five games seems to be a little excessive. The Predators stand by Tootoo but they will not appeal the suspension.

Oh by the way, Robidas, Chris Tucker has a message for you.

NHL suspends Tootoo for five games

[Short and Fat]: Great analysis of the Tootoo punch

Dallas Stars

You’d have to try hard to miss this goal

Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe scored over 800 goals in their careers. Mario Lemieux had 690. Dallas Stars’ forward Patrick Stefan couldn’t get any closer to them last night despite literally having an open net a foot in front of him. In fact, the former top overall draft pick couldn’t be any farther away from those guys if he were traded to Ice Station Zebra. Or farther away from a 4-year-old midget player whose parents couldn’t afford the skating lessons. Seconds away from a 5-4 victory in Edmonton last night, Stefan made a nifty steal of the puck and had an empty net staring at him as he skated into the Oilers zone untouched. For some reason, he didn’t shoot the puck, instead skating all the way in. He then proceeded to miss the open net as the puck jumped off his stick. Then Stefan fell to the ice a la Happy Gilmore in hockey tryouts as the Oilers went the other way and tied the game on an Ales Hemsky goal. Remember, this guy was a number one overall draft pick!

Just think everybody; for a few seconds last night, you were not the worst hockey player in the world. That goes for everybody, even if you live on the Equator and have never heard of hockey, someone out there was worse at it than you were.

The Stars did bail Stefan out, however, by winning 6-5 in a shootout.

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Make Up Your Mind, Clarke!

What’s he smiling about?

1. Which Way Did He Go?
On Monday, the incredibly hockey savvy wizard Bobby Clarke announced his return to the Philadelphia Flyers. This time, however, he’ll be back as the senior vice president of the franchise- and not in the General Manager position that he left in late October. For those Flyers fans that need to be remembered, he abandoned his GM spot on the same day that then-coach Ken Hitchcock hightailed it out of Philly (he is now living a life of equally torturing work in Columbus). Clarke’s resignation also came within a few days of an injury to captain Peter Forsberg- so needless to say, it was an atrocious week for the City of Brotherly Love. At 8-15-4, Philly is duct-taped to the fiery pit of the Eastern Conference.

2. Masterful Marty
Marty Turco helped the Dallas Stars shut down the flaming hot San Jose Sharks on Monday night, posting 25 saves in a 1-0 shutout effort. Every save counted, because the Dallas offense had absolutely nothing cooking against Evgeni Nabokov and the Sharks. Nabokov only faced 13 shot the entire game, letting one by in the first period off the stick of seasoned vet Mike Modano- who would leave the game with an injury a period later. The goal was Mike’s 495th tally… for the mathematically challenged, that’s only five behind 500 for his career. Dallas remains in third place in the Pacific behind San Jose and Anaheim, who are both among the NHL’s best teams this season.

3. See Ya, Sutton
For the next two months, Atlanta will have to proceed without the services of defenseman Andy Sutton, who will be having surgery to repair a torn tendon in his ankle. He was reported to have injured the ankle during a practice session. Sutton’s numbers on the season aren’t impressive- only one goal and seven assists- but he’s a solid defenseman who has nine years of pro experience on the ice. Atlanta is 17-7-4 this season, and sitting comfortably in the lead of the Southeast Division.

Check It Out
In this week’s edition of Winging It, Eric Mcerlain looks at journeyman Rory Fitzpatrick’s run for a spot on the all-star team. The Vancouver Canuck racked up more than 31,000 write-in votes on the ballot, and has a relentless campaign strategy- as seen here:

Game of the Night: Chicago at Minnesota
Blackhawks look to improve to 4-0 under new coach Denis Savard

The Last Shot
At the Toronto Maple Leafs’ skills show on Sunday, Chad Kilger blasted a 106 MPH slapshot, reportedly breaking a 13-year-old record set at the 1993 All-Star game.

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: The E-Train is still running

1. Stars Stymie Avs
In a crazy see-saw battle on Monday night in Dallas, the Stars defeated a stuttering Avalanche club, 5-4. Brenden Morrow scored two early goals for the Stars before leaving with an injury, setting up Dallas for what would be a satisfying comeback victory. After Marty Turco gave up two first period goals, he was unexpectedly pulled and replaced by backup Mike Smith, who stopped 16 of 18 shots on the night. An early 3rd period goal by John-Michael Liles gave Colorado a 4-3 lead, but it would not last long. Halfway through the frame, Colorado (back then Quebec) draft pick Eric Lindros tied it up with his fifth goal of the year. Less than three minutes afterward, Antti Miettinen got the puck by Peter Budaj to give the Stars the eventual 5-4 victory. For Colorado, it was their fifth loss in the last seven games.

2. Sabres’ Spectacular 2nd
Last night, Buffalo hosted another dominant Sabres victory as the guys with the ugly logo downed the Tampa Bay Lightning, 7-2. The night was highlighted by a bananas 7 goal 2nd for Buffalo, who received a nice 24 save performance from goaltender Ryan Miller on the other side of the ice. Offensively, Paul Gaustad and Thomas Vanek were hot, scoring two goals each (Gaustad also added an assist). Ales Kotalik also had a good night tallying a hat trick for assists with three. This was Buffalo’s fifth game in which they’ve scored six or more goals, so they certainly have everything covered on offense. If there was no such thing as the second period, Tampa’s Marc Denis would have had an awesome game between the pipes. Unfortunately, 22 saves was not enough to beat the Sabres, who still have not lost back-to-back games this season.

3. He knows it’s the Flyers, right?
One month after being booted up to the position of head coach for the Philadelphia Flyers, John Stevens has signed a two-year deal to remain in that spot (what was he thinking?). He replaced Ken Hitchcock as head-honcho 12 games ago, and has posted a 4-7-1 record. A coach cannot win the games for the Flyers– they have to get it done on the ice, and that’s what this team is missing. Their offense is defunct, and the defense couldn’t keep the other team away from the net if it were two states over. In goal, Antero Niittymaki has been anything but impressive since taking over the #1 spot, posting a 3-10-2 record this season.

Check It Out
Kevin Allen of USA Today takes a look at the youth of today’s NHL, and how it is impacting the game. It is clear that the kids have taken over… just take one look at the trio on the Pens (Staal, Crasby, and Malkin)–those youngsters are the new image of the NHL.

Game of the Night: San Jose at Anaheim
Sharks have won six of last seven games

The Last Shot
Pittsburgh defeated Philadelphia 5-3 last night, improving the Penguins’ record against Philly this year to 4-0.

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Good Times in Anaheim

1. Feeling Ducky
The Ducks just keep quacking along this year, and if not for the solid play of the Stars and Sharks, they would already be a lock to win the Pacific. They continued their trend of winning on Thursday night, turning in the usual all-around performance that we’ve become accustomed to seeing. With a 6-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim set an NHL record for most games without a regulation loss to start a season. At 12-0-4, they have played an astounding 16 games without being behind after three periods. The Ducks’ Ryan Getzlaf scored two goals, helping netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere breathe a little easier. ‘Giggy’ was no sieve on Thursday, stopping all 20 shots that came his way en route to a shutout victory. With the loss, Vancouver has lost four of their last five, scoring only eight goals in that span.

2. Blackhawk Bummer
The Devils earned a shootout victory over the reeling Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, winning by a score of 2-1. For Chicago, it’s their eighth straight losswith only nine points on the season, they have plummeted to the bottom of the Central Division. Goalie Brian Boucher has started seven games this year for Chi-town, and is currently sitting at 0-7-0. That’s pretty sad. New Jersey, on the other hand, won their third straight for the first time this year, and are now leading the Atlantic Division. They held Chicago to 0-4 on the Power Play, meaning the Blackhawks have not scored a Power Play goal in six games. For all you fans in Chicago sitting around and waiting for the Blackhawks to be good, we feel your pain. You know (and we know) deep inside that it just isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

3. Stars Squeak By
Dallas downed the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona on Thursday, winning in a low scoring effort, 1-0. Marty Turco earned his first shutout of the year, but only had to face 13 shots. Brenden Morrow’s Power Play goal was enough for the Stars to break away with the win; their defense did the rest. On the other side, Phoenix goalie Curtis Joseph played excellent, stopping 34 of 35 shots in a losing cause. Cujo gave the Coyotes a chance to win, but an abysmal offense could get nothing going against Dallas. 13 shots? Please. This is the NHL. We knew the Coyotes were bad, but many didn’t think they’d come out this flat to start the season. Their offense just cannot jell — they’ve been shut out three times this year. This team just doesn’t make much sense to us. The puzzle pieces are there, but they have absolutely no logic as to how they go together. Here’s hoping they figure it out soon it would be a true shame to see Wayne Gretzky depart the bench this early.

Check It Out
NBC Sports created a timeline of jerseys for the Vancouver Canucks, chronicled in a series of pictures. The common thought here is that the ‘Original Blues’ are the all-time Canuck favorite (better than the butt-ugly butter yellow uniforms of the mid-80’s, at least). Vancouver wore the throwbacks on Thursday night against Anaheim.

Game of the Night: Nashville at Detroit
Predators have won three of last four games in Detroit

The Last Shot
The Red Wings placed Jason Williams on injured reserve a day after suffering a vicious hit at the hands of Edmonton’s Raffi Torres. Williams was carted off the ice, suffering a concussion and laceration to the face.