Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Myth of Money in the Bank Goaltenders

As we're at around the 2/3 mark of the regular season, it's about that time to hone in on the favorite reason that fans think their respective teams won't win the Stanley Cup this year... goaltending.

Unless someone is a fan of the New Jersey Devils (with Martin Brodeur in net), Vancouver Canucks (Roberto Luongo tending goal) or Buffalo Sabres (where Ryan Miller is having an MVP caliber year), people should be afraid of their goaltending... but there's not much to be done about it.

Reality is goaltending is a crapshoot... you can have an excellent goalie, but you really don't know how anyone is going to perform in the playoffs until they're upon us. Additionally, there's that whole thing about how you've got to win four series to take the Cup... a long time for any goalie to play at a top level.

One interesting thing I've seen lately is criticism of the Blackhawks goaltending going into the playoffs... with statements of late from Jeremy Roenick and now a Ross McKeon piece for Yahoo! Sports. Reality, though, is the Blackhawks have the 2nd lowest goals against average in the league.

Someone can say that's it's not guarenteed that either Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi are going to be able to perform at the level needed throughout the playoffs, but how can fans of any team (including even the Devils, Canucks or Sabres) feel that elite level playoff goaltending is guaranteed?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

NHL on NBC - Expanding the Game... Or Not

Here's an interesting question to ponder... what exactly is the point of NBC broadcasting NHL games (as the first post-Winter Classic game of the year was shown today between Detroit and Chicago)?

Is it to cater to dedicated hockey fans? Well, me thinks these folk get their fix of the game through either their local team coverage (unless of course they live in Phoenix or some other city where many local team games aren't televised) NHL Center Ice, NHL Network or Versus (unless of course, they have Direct TV).

So... that would say that this zero rights fee paying arrangement between NBC and the NHL is for the purpose of reaching out to the casual fan. What's the best time to broadcast to that casual sports loving and male demographic skewing fan base? Why, during the exact same time that the NFL Conference Semifinals are on! I guess the league and NBC figured that the casual hockey fan would have no interest in the NFL playoffs... similar to the way coverage of puppies playing is broadcast on Animal Planet opposite the Super Bowl.

And for those few casual fans who happen across the hockey game, here's a great way to draw them in... show highlights of the game as the play is going on live, have the announcer say that a goal was scored and... keep showing the original highlight for a while longer prior to coverage of the not-shown live goal.

Nice. Reminds me of how a few years ago NBC cut away from overtime of a Stanley Cup Playoff game to start in on Preakness pre-race coverage.

Really a great way to grow the sport... or not.

Good Goal - Terrible D - Hilarious Commentary

Wow, such a great highlight... on multiple levels.

Saw this from the blog post "Video: Defense is hard to come by in the ECHL" on Puck Daddy at Yahoo! Sports.

As the title indicates, the defense is laughable, but frankly, so is the commentary on the second go-round (that being the "Goal of the Night from Cialis"... which provides additional mirth) of the highlight below. Love when announcers chat with one another as if they forgot they're on camera.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

U.S. Wins 2010 World Junior Championship

Man, what a game that was a few days ago between the U.S. and Canada for the World Junior Championships Gold Medal.

As happened during their New Year's Eve opening round game, Canada came back from a two goal 3rd period deficit to reach overtime. This time it was different result...

From his CNNSI piece "Character is golden for Team USA in World Junior Championship", Alan Muir wrote of both the magnitude of the win for the U.S. (their first... and Canada's first non-gold in the tournament since 2004) and how the game played itself out tactically.

Keeping in mind that it's the players on the ice who win or loss, two coaches decisions factored heavily into the outcome. The first was from US Coach Dean Blais who replaced Mike Lee with Jack Campbell in goal for U.S. once Canada scored to make the score 3-3. The second was from Canada Coach Willie Desjardins who replaced starting goalie Jake Allen with Martin Jones once the U.S. pulled out to a 5-3 lead.

The U.S. certainly deserved the win, but it earlier action from Desjardins may well have made the difference. This is conjecture, though, as it played out as it did and the U.S. was victorious. Reminds me in a way of how people don't talk a lot about the decision by Soviet Union Coach Viktor Tikhonov to pull Vladislav Tretiak in their 1980 Olympic Gold Medal game vs the U.S. He did... and the Miracle on Ice then followed.

Lots of lots of additional World Junior Championship coverage included a large video library can be found on the TSN World Juniors microsite.

Next year the tournament is in Buffalo and hopefully the U.S. fans can provide the same support for the home team that the Canadians showed. Course, Toronto is pretty close to Buffalo...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Gilbert Arenas Indefinite Suspension

Obviously this isn't a hockey related post, but I'm just saying... if I was Gilbert Arenas and had apparently broken Washington DC laws and NBA rules by bring guns (unloaded) into the locker room, I wouldn't then do this...

Apparently league commissioner David Stern is of my mind on this... quote below from the Yahoo! Sports story "Breaking news: Gilbert Arenas suspended indefinitely."

"Although it is clear that the actions of Mr. Arenas will ultimately result in a substantial suspension, and perhaps worse, his ongoing conduct has led me to conclude that he is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game. Accordingly, I am suspending Mr. Arenas indefinitely, without pay, effective immediately pending the completion of the investigation by the NBA."

Also, very interesting quote then put out by the Wizards organization (from the same Yahoo! story)...

"We fully endorse the decision of the NBA to indefinitely suspend Gilbert Arenas. Strictly legal issues aside, Gilbert's recent behavior and statements, including his actions and statements last night in Philadelphia, are unacceptable. Some of our other players appeared to find Gilbert's behavior in Philadelphia amusing. This is also unacceptable. Under Abe Pollin's leadership, our organization never tolerated such behavior, and we have no intention of ever doing so."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pond Hockey Movie

Watched the documentary movie Pond Hockey on NHL Network the other day and found it to be well done and interesting.

It was split roughly 50/50 between interviews with hockey people and coverage of the US Pond Hockey Championships held annually in Minnesota.

The hockey folk included Wayne Gretzky, Neal Broten and Jack Falla (the late hockey writer that I previously posted about)... and I posted here about the aforementioned pond hockey tournament.

This said, Pond Hockey the movie was a cool look at this side of the game and below is a trailer from the movie website...