Moving into the offseason

well, it’s now the off-season. Time for all of us hockey geeks to take a breather, relax, and wait for something interesting to happen.

Not. they may not be playing, but it sure isn’t quiet or boring right now, is it?

Anyway, I’m starting to firm up my off-season plans. With any luck at all, here’s what you’ll see at Two for Elbowing during the offseason:

First — as previously threatened, I’m going to start my series of articles on what’s wrong with hockey. And also what’s right, because there’s a bunch of both. I won’t pretend to have all of the answers (or even all of the questions), but I do think what I have planned will be interesting and make folks think. And since (if you don’t read my personal blog) I’m leaving StrongMail friday, until I get a new job one of the things i plan on working on is my writing portfolio — and this is one big piece of that. So hopefully, you’ll find it worth reading.

Second — a project I’ve wanted to do for a long while: get my various collections online; Laurie and I own about 60 jerseys, almost a hundred pucks and probably a similar number of pins, we have about 450 volumes in our book collections (including all volumes of Trail of the Stanley Cup), and Laurie’s collection god knows how many program books, and I’ve been wanting to put some of the more historic highlights online for a while, whether it’s classic images of Peter Puck or our personal friend, Big Head Referee.

Maybe even some “can you name this poor schmuck” based on their program pictures. Wait until you see the one we found of Wayne Thomas — if I can find it again…

So hopefully hockey off-season will be anything but boring around this place…

Posted in Hockey and Other Sports

Prediction: stanley cup final

Two for Elbowing: Third round predictions…:

So, I’m 9 for 12 for the playoffs, my best run in years.

The two conference finals:

Anaheim/Detroit: Anaheim in 5.

Ottawa/Buffalo: I’ll pick Buffalo in 7. (now, watch Ottawa sweep…)

And, because I didn’t believe in Ottawa quite enough, I went 1 for 2, and 10 for 14 so far in the playoffs (too bad I didn’t have money down this year…)

In the final?

Ottawa in 5. I think they’re playing better right now. but there are so many wildcards, you could flip coins and get it right. Guigere outplaying Emery? Or will Emery start getting recognition for how well he’s played? Wlll Pronger be the good witch or the bad witch? will he focus his game or go *pop* again? The ducks are doing a “win it for Teemu”, which, if Teemu plays well, could make this interesting.

I think it’s going to be a fun series, no matter what. Either team could win it in five, but I think it’s Ottawa’s year.

My conn-smyth candidates: Alfreddson if Ottawa wins, Guigiere if Anaheim wins.

Posted in Hockey and Other Sports

Third round predictions

Time for Conference final predictions.

I was 6 of 8 in the first round.

In the second round, I picked:

I picked San Jose in 6. sigh. whine. moan. grump.

Actually, I said:

Detroit/San Jose: San Jose in 6.

Going to be a fun series, but I think San jose is better. but Detroit worries me if the Sharks falter a bit, and Hasek is, well, Hasek.

Which hit it on the head wonderfully, except for the fun part. the Sharks DID falter, the Red Wings didn’t, and Hasek was, well, very Hasek-like. Damn him, anyway.

Anaheim in 7: thanks to Luongo, it was almost that close.

Buffalo in 6: but congrats to the rangers for a great run.

Ottawa in 6: and New Jersey found it was just not like the good old days, Lou behind the bench or no. Ran out of pixie dust, Lou.

So I ended up 3-4, missing the one series I really wanted to get right. Of course.

So, I’m 9 for 12 for the playoffs, my best run in years.

The two conference finals:

Anaheim/Detroit: Anaheim in 5. Hasek can’t be hasek-like enough to beat the Ducks, and with Schneider out — I don’t know about you, but Chelios playing 25 minutes a game doesn’t worry me, but after seeing him in game 6 against the sharks, Chelios on the power play does. I don’t think this’ll be as close as some people do.

I heard on XM today that one of the ways Chelios stays in shape is that he spends a lot of time on the exercise bike — in a sauna. Holy hyperbaric chambers, Batman, I get heatstroke thinking of watching him…. Kids, do NOT try that at home.

Ottawa/Buffalo: I have very good friends who are senators fans. I very much want to see the Senators move on. The Sabres haven’t shown their best hockey yet (but win). This one can go either way. My heart says Ottawa, my head says buffalo. I’d call it a coin flip, but I can’t, so I’ll pick Buffalo in 7. (now, watch Ottawa sweep…)

Posted in Hockey and Other Sports

Second Round Playoff Predictions

Two for Elbowing: Playoff Predictions:

Here in the west, there are no underdogs, there can be no cinderella, no upsets. the teams are too closely matched. Of course, having said that, we’re going to lose at least two teams in the first round that will consider that a season failure. that’s how strong the west is.

My cut on the matchups:

First, a look at how I did in the first round…

Detroit/Calgary: I chose Calgary in 7.

I’m a little surprised Calgary didn’t do better. Veteran motivation beat out younger legs; Calgary just didn’t seem able to compete; too defensive, not enough offense. Too much of the Sutter thing, perhaps, without Sutter behind the bench forcing it to work through force of will. Not that I’m blaming Playfair — this team merely didn’t over-achieve like a Sutter coached team does.

Anaheim/Minnesota: Anaheim in 5

Minnesota simply couldn’t trap Anaheim to death.

Vancouver/Dallas: Vancouver in 5

We can stop wondering if Turco can get it done in the playoffs. Even in a loss, he was the only thing between Dallas and disaster. The only way he could have helped the team more was skating up to Luogo and breaking his arm… It’s time for Modano and Lindros to ride into the sunset — to standing ovations.

Nashville/San Jose:

Nashville was a better team than last year. the Sharks were a MUCH better team, once the kids got their playoff sea-legs. I think the big risk for sna jose going into the playoffs was whether the younger players could handle the pressure. They exit this series bloodied and battle hardened, and the rest of the west is not going to send the Preds flowers for doing this. It makes the Sharks scary tough, as long as they stay focussed and healthy. Nashville’s main fault was a lack of discipline — or perhaps it wasn’t doing a good enough job of making sure the players they whacked stayed whacked. Either way, the team needs some tweaking, but not major retooling. they’re ALMOSt there.

3-4. Not bad.

East:

Buffalo/NY Islanders, Buffalo in 5.

The Islanders played much better than expected to me, and turned themselves into a team that we didn’t expect to serously compete into one that looked like it snatched defeat from the hands of victory. And for once, that’s a compliment.

New Jersey/Tampa: Devils in 5

Tampa simply doesn’t have the depth, and gassed out. can’t win a 500 mile race by driving real fast for 490 miles. Tampa needs to re-think how it pays players so it can add depth. New Jersey was beatable, and then Brodeur realized it was the playoffs and woke up, and it was all over.

Atlanta/Rangers: Atlanta in 76

And Atlanta proves that it’s different in the playoffs, and the pressure can get to people who aren’t used to it. They’ll be back, but I’m not sure they have the right mix of players.

Ottawa/Pittsburgh. Ottawa in 6.

The penguins pushed the senators harder than I expected, but the better team won. But pittsburgh is close.

3-4

so I’m 6 of 8 in the first round. Not bad at all.

2nd round:

Detroit/San Jose: San Jose in 6.

Going to be a fun series, but I think San jose is better. but Detroit worries me if the Sharks falter a bit, and Hasek is, well, Hasek.

Anaheim/Vancouver: Anaheim in 7.

I’m tempted to pick Vancouver; I think Luongo is the better goaltender — but I also think Anaheim has enough to overtake that different. But I think it’ll be close.

Buffalo/Rangers: Buffalo in 6.

honestly? the rangers are playing better than I expected. but I don’t think it’ll be enough, but it’ll be a series, and one worth watching.

New Jersey/Ottawa: Ottawa in 6

well, Brodeur is awake and making folks crazy. But Ottawa should win out. I won’t be surprised if they don’t, though, not much. Probably the closest series in the 2nd round.

Posted in Hockey and Other Sports

Sharks Eliminate the Predators in 5.

We got together tonight with a friend to watch the game.

In a move that will put a grin on the faces of members of our former San Jose Sharks mailing list, earlier in the week I was up in the city visiting a client I’ve been working with, and had the opportunity to pop by the Ferry Building. If you haven’t been there since the re-did it, you must: it is a wonderful place of small restaurants and high-end foodie shops now, as well as the ferries coming in from Alameda and the North Bay. One of those shops is Cowgirl Creamery. I came home with a nice selection of artisanal cheeses.

To the cheeses, we added a selection of crackers, and we opened up a bottle of 2000 Argyle Willamette Valley sparkling (A pinot an Chardonnay blend), which was perfect with the cheeses and quite tasty on its own. AFter, when the Sharks had won out, I pulled out of my special cache a 2005 Paradise Ranch (Okanagan Valley) Ice Wine made from Pinot Noir grapes, and there was much rejoicing. I’m starting to run a bit short of B.C. Ice Wine, so I’m going to have to finagle a trip north so I can sneak over the border… (fortunately, I now have a reliable supplier that has Oregon and Washington Ice Wines, and that’s not bad, either).

A good time was had by all. Among the cheeses sampled tonight — the Cowgirl triple creme and red hawk, an young italian Peccorino that had been washed in balsamic with infused juniper berries, a Point Reyes real blue cheese, a pug’s leap (Healdsburg) soft and rinded goat’s cheese and one other triple creme who’s attribution was unreadable, but was from the north bay somewhere.

Of them, my favorites by far were the Cowgirl triple creme, the Point Reyes Blue (very tangy, very sharp, truly awesome) and the Pugs Leap. The Cowgirl Red Hawk, which had an interesting red rind caused by bring washed in a brine that changed the bacteria on the surface, was very complex and nutty, but just didn’t hold up to the others. The Pecorino was also a lot of fun and interesting.

Damn, I wish Cow Girl had a closer outlet…. Although not inexpensive, it’s nice having access to what the local and regional cheese makers are doing now, and there’s some amazing stuff.

Oh, yeah. Hockey. This pretty much summed it up:

From Behind the Mask: Put a fork in the Preds – I heard Mark Smith and the Fat Lady singing Pura Vida:

Is Scott Nichol retarded? If you are the Preds, how can you bring this guy back next season? What a selfish bonehead move in an elimination game.

That, in a summary, was the series. The Predators were undisciplined and it cost them penalties, players and games. The Sharks avoided falling into the retribution trap, and while the power play wasn’t exceptional, the Preds kept digging holes and the Sharks kept saying thank you. The two teams otherwise were exceptionally close in talent and execution, although Kariya as a key guy simply didn’t get the job done well, and the Sharks key guys did. And Mike Grier to me is an early candidate for the Conn Smythe, if the Sharks make it that far and he keeps it up. Amazing play.

To me, the Predators started the game in “I don’t want to get hurt going into the summer mode” — the absolute sell-out intensity of play was missing. That turned after a really good scoring chance by Kariya that didn’t go in, and they started to play with more urgency — but then they started doing stupid things and taking stupid penalties. And that (again) included Peter Forsberg, who (again) took really obvious penalties, and complained to the refs about them being called all the way to the box. (“hey, do you know who I am? That rule doesn’t count for me!” Rob Shick: “tonight it does, dude!”)

I’m not sure who to blame for the lack of discipline. The coach? The players? everyone? What’s should be disconcerting to Predator brass is that after they got it under control after the first two games, it leaked out again tonight and pretty much sealed their fate, after they woke up and fought to a lead.

So, the Sharks get a few days off, and onward, to… well, someone. My guess: Detroit, while Anaheim gets Vancouver. Anything that helps beat the crap out fo Anaheim before the Sharks have to play them, I’m for. Detroit is very beatable. In fact, with back to back games saturday and sunday, it’s not a foregone conclusion it’ll BE detroit. Now, as long as they don’t start early enough for game 3 to happen next week, I’m good.

And now, back to Peterborough Pete, for your enjoyment…

I feel bad for Peter Forsberg, I hope that was not his last game in the NHL.

You know? I don’t. Talent or no, he was part of the problem, taking bad penalties, whining about them, and playing fairly dirty at times and at other times diving. Sorry, if nothign else, he set a bad example that this team followed into stupidity and suspensions and game misconducts…

Sean Hill was caught using a performance enhancing substance. Have any of you seen Sean Hill play? Somebody whisper to him, whatever he was taking wasn’t working. He and Bryan Berard are free agents…they would be perfect d partners for each other. I’m thinking Chicago or Columbus is dumb enough to take them as a package.

(line of the night. Wish I’d thought of it…)

Is the NHL retarded? Who the hell schedules back to back home and away playoff games between Calgary and Detroit? Obviously someone who has never flown before. What’s up with that?

Why? Because Detroit hosed the series with other committments in the building. Don’t blame the league here, blame the teams for stuffing things into the building knowing they might need them for hockey.

How about the NHL not committing to a game time for Tampa’s home game on Sunday due to TV schedules (wanting the Pens on in prime time if they had won) until after the Ottawa – Pens game last night? But Tampa was forced to sell tickets to the game earlier this week with a day set but no time slot? What kind of mickey mouse league does that and rude is that to the hockey fans in Tampa?

That’s normal. The Sharks game 7 this round was the same way.

There are two reasons to do this. One is because TV might want to change the teim. The other is that there’s another event going on that you might need to change the time of, and you don’t want to have to change that time until you have to. In San Jose, for instance, that’d be the Lacrosse team, the Stealth, that might have an evening slot, but if the Sharks need it, get moved to a day game at the last minute. But you don’t want to announce that kind of schedule change until you have to….

Again, not the league. It’s the team…

Posted in Hockey and Other Sports