NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: K-K-K-Ken c-c-c-coming to C-C-C-columbus?

What’s my job today?

1. Hitchcock Bounced Around
The Philadelphia Flyers didn’t want him coaching the team, so they fired him–then re-hired him as a scout. After last night’s firing of coach Gerard Gallant, the Columbus Blue Jackets seem to think they’ve found their man. The Jackets were granted permission to talk with Ken Hitchcock about a possible head coaching position on Tuesday night–the same night they named assistant Gary Agnew interim coach. Hitchcock has to be scratching his head; he gets booted from a losing team just to be picked out by another club that’s just as bad. Ouch.

2. Coyotes Howl Over Wild
The Phoenix Coyotes gained a much-needed and extremely rare victory over a solid Minnesota Wild team on Tuesday night. Phoenix escaped with the 4-3 win after trailing at one time by a score of 2-0. Coyote Georges Laraque earned two assists and bragging rights over Minnesota’s Derek Boogaard after getting in a scuffle with “The Boogeyman” in the second period. Yanic Perreault and Oleg Saprykin both netted a duo of goals for Phoenix, topping off an awesome all-around performance for the team. Minnesota, who is leading the Northwest Division, received a mediocre performance from goalie Manny Fernandez in the final two periods, stopping 30 out of 34 shots on his way to a defeat at the hands of the last-place Coyotes.

3. Flashbacks for Jaromir, Brenden
Jaromir Jagr showed glimpses of his younger self on Tuesday night, leading his New York Rangers to a victory over the division-leading New Jersey Devils. The veteran scored a pair of key third period goals to provide the Madison Square Garden crowd with a bevy of smiles. Marcel Hossa provided Jagr with assists on both goals. Another fine NHL elder, Brenden Shanahan, scored his 14th goal of the year to put the exclamation point on a game that looked quite similar to the Phoenix-Minnesota contest. Three unanswered goals in the third period were just what the doctor ordered for New York, who will likely remain in a dogfight with the Devils atop the Atlantic Division for most of the year.

Check It Out’s Darren Eliot discusses the pros and cons of having one bona-fide goalie instead of two. Eliot thinks that having one powerhouse netminder is a better option than alternating between a duo, as we’re seeing many teams do nowadays.

Game of the Night: Philadelphia at Anaheim
Flyers are last in Eastern, Ducks are best in western

The Last Shot
The Flyers have announced that captain Peter Forsberg may be in the lineup on Wednesday night against Anaheim. He has missed the past two games with a sprained ankle.

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Weekend Recap

Check out my ugly uni!

1. Awesome in OT
The Buffalo Sabres continue to take care of business, and look to be a Stanley Cup contender come playoff time. They racked up another win on Saturday night, drowning the already dead Philadelphia Flyers. The 5-4 overtime victory was the third straight win for Buffalo in the extra period. Daniel Briere had an outstanding game, scoring two goals–one to tie it, and another to win it. While the Sabres continue to roll along, the Flyers continue to fall to the pit of the NHL. The giant wing on their jerseys has been clipped this year; at 3-11-2, Philly is dead last in the Eastern Conference. Even Flyers fans are having a hard time remembering the times when team was actually good. That’s an unfortunate thing, since it really wasn’t that long ago. It doesn’t help that they’ve been without captain Peter Forsberg, who has been battling a nagging ankle injury and is listed as day-to-day.

2. Jinxed
Friday’s post on Crashing the Zamboni featured the Anaheim Ducks and their emergence to begin the season. With their 12-0-4 mark, they set a record for most games without a regulation loss to start a season. On the same night of the post, the Ducks suffered a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Calgary Flames–and it didn’t come in overtime or a shootout. Our apologies go out to the Ducks and their fans, who we’re sure were hoping to see their team go without a regulation loss this year. But don’t just blame us: Mikka Kiprusoff had a stellar performance, stopping all 37 shots that came his direction on the way to a shutout victory.
Anaheim would avenge the loss with another victory on Sunday night over the Wild, 3-2. Currently, their record stands at 13-1-2, by far the best in the Western Conference.

3. Preds Victorious
The Nashville Predator skated to a 1-0 victory on Saturday night, attempting to keep up with the Red Wings in the Central. Chris Mason was a brick wall between the pipes, saving his way to a shutout win with a career-high 42 saves. As a backup to Tomas Vokoun, it was his first shutout in the four games he’s started on the year. Scott Upshall scored the only goal of the game in the first period, but it was enough to fend off the Avalanche, who have slipped into last in the Northwest Division. This was the third 1-0 game in the NHL in the past week, which is exactly what the league is trying to stay away from with the rule changes put in effect last year (the other two games were a Dallas victory over Phoenix on Thursday and a Chicago win over Columbus last night).

Check It Out’s Allan Muir looks into the struggles of the Columbus Blue Jackets, perhaps the most irrelevant team in the league. He suggests sniper Rick Nash is the problem, and if the Columbus Blue Jackets want to get rolling, then that is the guy that needs to put up numbers. Playing in the same division as Detroit and Nashville, it may be quite a while before the Blue Jackets actually have an impact on this league.

Game of the Night: Buffalo at Carolina
Rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals (Hurricanes won in seven games)

The Last Shot
The Chicago Blackhawks actually won a game on Sunday night. Oh, wait… they faced Columbus. Does that really count?

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Hats Off to Atlanta – Again

Best part of the hat trick

1. Sens Slumping, Thrashers Thumping
The Ottawa Senators are reeling at the moment, now having lost five straight games. This is their longest losing streak in 10 years, believe it or not. Their most recent loss came at the hands of the mighty Atlanta Thrashers on Wednesday night, as the Sens managed to blow two 2-goal leads in the game. Credit Atlanta, though. This is a team on a mission, and that has been clearly seen through the first month of the season.
Slava Kozlov lit the red lamp three times in this game for his fifth career hat trick. His last 3-goal game also came against the Senators in January. With Ilya Kovalchuck’s Hat Trick on Monday night, it marks the first time in the history of the franchise that they’ve had hat tricks in consecutive games. Hat sales are expected to skyrocket this week in Atlanta, because everyone in town is now looking for a new Thrashers hat.

2. Dominik the Dominator
Detroit continued to melt the ice on Wednesday night, when they made quick work of the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 3-0. For Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek, he earned his 70th career shutout and led Detroit to their seventh consecutive win. At 41 years old, he still has what it takes. If I were him, I’d aim to become the Julio Franco of hockey–play as long as possible. It also helps that the Red Wings have arguably the best defense in the NHL, and pucks are usually cleared out before Hasek has to stop a shot. The only low point for Detroit in this contest came in the second period, when Jason Williams left the ice on a stretcher. He suffered a vicious check to the face, and then landed face-first onto the ice. Ouchies.

3. Sundin Don’t Shine In Toronto
Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin is expected to miss up to month with a torn ligament in his right elbow. He was injured on Monday night while playing against the Philadelphia Flyers. This could eventually be a big blow for the Maple Leafs. They’re going to have to keep up with the Buffalo Sabres in the Northeast Division (they have done an excellent job of hanging around in that division this year) without the help of their team leader in points – and in a division that could end up in a deadlock at the end of the year, this injury could be huge.

Check It Out
ESPN’s John Buccigross evaluates today’s NHL and plays “Buy or Sell” with every team. His biggest buy is with Pittsburgh, and since Evgeni Malkin showed up, we tend to agree. The Maple Leafs, Oilers, and Avalanche are among a handful of teams he would not currently pay to watch.

Game of the Night: Washington at Carolina
Capitals: coming off first back-to-back wins of the season

The Last Shot
The Flyers’ Jeff Carter is sidelined for six weeks, thanks to a broken ankle. This prompted Philly to call up veteran Petr Nedved from the AHL. The Flyers’ farm team, the Philadelphia Phantoms, are 5-6-1 on the season… that’s better than the record of the big league club, as the Flyers now stand at 3-10-1. Our condolences go out to Nedved– we’d rather play on the Phantoms this year, too.

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: Weekend recap

1. Floundering in Philly
On Saturday night in Philadelphia, the Washington Capitals downed the Flyers by a score of 5-3. It was the Caps’ first win in Philly since 1998, lasting a stretch of 16 games. Alexander Ovechkin bailed Washington out again netting two goals in the first period en route to the victory. He now has eight goals on the season. The Flyers, on the other hand, still haven’t picked it up. They’re off to one of their worst starts ever, currently standing with a 3-9-1 record. Much of this abysmal start can be attributed to goalie Robert Esche, who was expected to do well this season. Needless to say, his 1-3 record and 5.31 Goals Allowed Average have been a bit of a disappointment.

2. Hot Wings
The Detroit Red Wings have suddenly caught fire. With a victory in Columbus on Saturday, they’re now won six straight games and are tied for the lead in the Central Division. Dan Cleary scored his first two goals of the season, including a shorthanded tally in the second period. Cleary scored only three times all of last year for Detroit, who will go for their seventh straight win on Wednesday night against the Oilers. Dominik Hasek has been solid between the pipes, getting four of the six victories and only giving up seven goals in the process.

3. Sparking Flames
The Calgary Flames have been non-existent this season in a competitive Northwest Division, and with a record of 4-7-2 they’ve been a disappointment to many. Jerome Iginla provided the spark that they’ve desperately needed on Saturday night, leading his team to a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Iginla scored the game-winning Power Play goal with under five minutes to go, snapping a four game losing streak for the Flames. On the other side, the Blues’ Bill Guerin scored his team-leading seventh goal of the season. He’s more than halfway through his goal total of 13 from last year.

Check It Out’s Evan Weiner discusses the Chicago Blackhawks and the possibility that their lowliness is attributed to another Chicago curse. Story has it, the “curse of Muldoon” was put upon them by a former coach.

Game of the Night: Pittsburgh at Anaheim
Anaheim: Have not lost in regulation this year (10-0-4); Penguins’ Malkin held without goal for first time Sat. against SJ

The Last Shot
With their 4-3 win over the Wild in Minnesota on Saturday, the Predators extended a franchise-best road winning streak to seven games.

NHL General

Crashing the Zamboni: A Star Is Born

1. Malkin: A Part of History
We said it a couple of days ago — but after another amazing game, it bears repeating again: This kid is good. Last night against the Los Angeles Kings, Evgeni Malkin became the first player in 89 years to score a goal in his first six games, beating Dan Cloutier with a pinpoint wrist shot. Three other NHL players accomplished this feat, but they did it all the way back in the inaugural 1917-’18 NHL season. Malkin is still less than halfway to the all-time record of first 14 games with a goal, but talk about finding your groove… Malkin is just tearing up the ice.

He was not content with just one goal, however. In overtime, he hit the twine for the seventh time to give the Penguins the 4-3 victory. It will be interesting to see if Evgeni can keep it up – if he can, the NHL will have something very, very good on its hands.

2. Bringing Him Back
Less than two weeks after giving him the boot as head coach, interim GM Paul Holmgren is welcoming Ken Hitchcock back to the Philadelphia Flyers. His role with the organization, however, will be quite different – he was hired this time to work as a pro scout instead of working behind the bench. Our thoughts? Hitchcock better be pretty darn good at scouting, because the Flyers need the best that they can get at this point. People within that franchise must firmly believe in Ken to bring him back aboard this mess so easily, which prompts the question – why would they have fired him in the first place? Keep him within the organization, and protect yourselves from all the drama of his firing. With all of the shenanigans, the only thing we truly know is this: the Flyers are not that good, and they need quite a miracle to help right the ship.

3. On Todd Bertuzzi
Florida’s veteran winger made some headlines this week, announcing that he’s considering surgery on his lower back. This isn’t the first time folks in Colorado have heard about Todd, because here, everyone believes that his back isn’t the only thing that needs fixing.

It seems nobody who is a fan of the Avalanche has decided to forgive Bertuzzi – in 2003, he put a blatant hit on Colorado’s Steve Moore, cracking his vertebrae and giving him a severe concussion. The check from behind was shown over and over here in the Rocky Mountain area, and was extremely hard to watch. Moore’s head hit the ice hard, and fell in an awkward position. What ensued was a long period of silence, as Moore lay motionless on the ice, simply unable to move. Bertuzzi was suspended for an extended period of time, but then reinstated at the beginning of the 2005 season. The common consensus here is that Bertuzzi should not be allowed to play for as long as Moore is out, which probably means that Todd’s career would be over. Moore has not been able to get back out on the ice, and is now a schoolteacher.

It is also interesting to note Todd Bertuzzi’s Wikipedia entry. For a guy who happens to be a really good hockey player, it is sad to see that this incident covers the entire page.

Check It Out
NBC Sports’ “The Bellowing Moose” investigates the recent effect of fights in the NHL.

Game of the Night: Vancouver at Minnesota
Wild: 7-0-0 at home this season.

The Last Shot
Nashville defeated Edmonton 5-3 Wednesday night, giving the Oilers their first home loss while notching their sixth straight road win.

Oakland Raiders

Odds and Ends: Jerry Porter is the worst teammate in the world

Class act

On a day when a backup punter stabs a starting punter in the leg, Jerry Porter still manages to get the worst teammate award. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Porter was pumping his fists and laughing while Aaron Brooks got sacked for the 7th time in the loss to the Chargers.

I haven’t heard anybody in our organization say anything about that, any teammate or anything,” Shell said. “If that did happen that’s a big disappointment from my standpoint. That would be disappointing, and that’s something, if he did that, something he has to deal with, with his teammates as well as other people.

Porter was deactivated for Monday’s game because he’s clashed with Art Shell all preseason. Porter just signed a five year deal last season that gave have $10M in guaranteed money. Nice way to pay the Raiders back, Jerry.

[AP]: Royals pitcher, catcher fight in dugout

[ESPN]: Keep Branch on your fantasy bench folks, he’s not expected to play this weekend

[Fox Sports]: Since the World Cup, US Soccer has dropped from #5 to #29

[TSN]: Bob Clarke doesn’t give a shit if nobody likes him

[Jeff Little]: People stealing paychecks in the NBA

General Sports

Does Bristol U teach a course in ripping people off?

Remember when Colin Cowherd ripped off the M-Zone and then belittled them when they call him out? Well, this time, Bill Simmons is ripping off Jenn Sterger of all people. Since hundreds of people have ripped off the Sposts Guy over the years, he probably thinks turnabout is fair play. But really, the FSU Cowgirl? For shame. (Although it’s a good excuse for us to post a pic of her…)

In other news…

[MSNBC]: Jimmy Smith calls it a career.

[]: Preview of World Cup activities: prostitution crackdown in Germany.

[Reuters]: Sharapova is fighting for equal rights

[Flyers Fan Central]: As if getting bounced by the Sabres wasn’t enough, Flyers could lose Forsberg until Jan 07.

[Mets Walkoffs]: The rules for attending a ball game.

[College Humor]: Bobby Knight’s c*%@%^*@ing [email protected]#!ing bull$#%@ golf show

NHL General

Flyers and Canadiens, you’re next on the tee

First, let’s talk about the Canadiens. They came out and gave the #2 seed quite a scare by beating them twice on the Carolina home ice. But ultimately, Carolina righted their ship and won the next four to send the Habs packing. Good season, Canadiens, no shame in losing to the Huricanes.

Next, we have the Flyers. A team that came out and showed no heart whatsoever in a home elimination game. After being down 5-0, they ultimately whimpered into the summer with a 7-1 defeat.

Like clockwork, the Flyers fold in the Stanley Cup playoffs. And, like clockwork, Flyers fans melt down about it. Here are some of the best quotes from Not for the easily offended.

bryboy7:”If anyone ever sees Petr Nedved in person………Kick him in the balls. As hard as you can. Just to see if he has any.”

Luzinski’s Gut: “Bunch of f*cking ****** ass ***** c*cksuckers. Dead men have more heart than these mouthbreathing sh*tf*cks.”

nitz: “They should have come out in short skirts and fishnets, because they’ve played like a buch of bit**es.”

nitz: “F**k this team. I’m going to go downloading porn. If I want to see someone get f***ed, I at least want it to be sexy.”

Man, we love meltdowns.

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

General Sports

Odds and Ends for Mon Apr 24 2006: Why we love hockey

This clip from Saturday’s Sabres-Flyers game illustrates why hockey is the toughest sport in the world. First you have a rookie getting laid out in the NHL playoffs, and then a fight breaks out because the rest of his teammates are defending him. And actual punches, not NBA-style posturing.

In other news…

[The 700 Level]: Phillies might not get into the playoffs, but fans have a new hero.

[Las Vegas Review Journal]: Andre Agassi is a big tipper.

[San Jose Mercury News]: OLN will become versus… as in the network vs good ratings.

[MSNBC]: Duke Lacrosse player wants to transfer to Syracuse. Syracuse treats him like a fat chick at a frat party

[YAY Sports]: Carmelo Anthony’s agent must hate him
[SFGate]: Iran to let women attend soccer games. Keith Hernandez says…