January 31, 2006
Monday night I made my second visit to MSG to see the Rangers take on the Flyers. My only other visit to the Garden was four years ago and also against the F*ers. The Rangers won that game and although the crowd was loud, it wasn’t very impressive. Those were the Fleury and Lindros days so there was a bit of a sideshow atmosphere. My how times have changed. Last night the Garden was rocking and the Flyer fans were few and far between.
The game itself had a playoff feel. Both goalies were playing excellent, the crowd was raucous, and there was a feeling that one goal would decide the game. Both teams had many blown chances including two negated goals by the Flyers. Jagr still looked sick, but watching him snap of shots was amazing. The speed of the puck when he snaps it off is unreal. Its one of those things you can’t fully appreciate when you only see him on TV.
I also got to witness the Rangers PK do their magic. They killed a penalty late in the third period that had the Garden rocking. Other players that impressed were Straka with his skating (but he’s gotta shoot more) and Marcel Hossa played a great game in limited ice time.
In the end the Rangers blew their 2-0 lead late in the third and lost in OT. I was hoping to see the team salute, but I still walked away with a smile on my face because that was, without a doubt, the best NHL game I’d been too.
January 31, 2006
Former B-Sens and Ottawa Senator Josh Langfeld was claimed off waivers by the Bruins today. Langfeld spent four seasons with the Ottawa organization, but signed with San Jose during the off season. After playing in 39 games with the Sharks this season they tried sending him down to the minors, but was picked up by the Bruins.
I’m not sure how much playing time Langfeld will get with Boston, but I’m excited to see him play more often against the Rangers and Senators. He was always one of my favorite B-Sens and I think his hard working style may fit better with an east coast team. Given Boston’s poor efforts in many games this season, Langfeld may get the opportunity for a larger role with this team. Langfeld isn’t afraid to take the body, work the corners, and fight in front of the crease for the tough goals.
January 30, 2006
McGrattan has faired well in the NHL, but what many of his new fans don’t know is that until about halfway through last season Grats lost more fights than he won. The B-Sens fans loved him because he was afraid of nobody, but in a lot of his fights you could see the crowds doing a collective flinch when McGrattan got pounded by another AHL goon. After the arrival of Chris Neil Grats suddenly became unstoppable. I don’t know if Neil gave him some advice or if he was spurred on now that he wasn’t the only fighter on the team.
January 29, 2006
Wow…I had been reading about all of the Penguins woes with Mario and Ziggy retiring, the firing of Eddie O, and that they had lost 10 of their last 11 games. But nothing prepared me for the awful display I saw at MSG yesterday. To put it simply, this was the worst showing by an NHL that I’ve seen since the last expansion…maybe even worse since at least those teams had a few guys who tried.
The final score was 7-1, but the shots tell a better story. The Rangers finished with 51 shots to the Pens 14. Their largest shot differential since 1975. The second half of the game was just a practice for the Rangers with one difference…no contact. The Pens stopped skating, stopped checking and let the Rangers do whatever they wanted. Fleury looked tired and frustrated and let in many soft goals after he realized his team was leaving him out to dry.
If I had to pick a goal to sum up this game it would Jagr’s tap in from Malik. Malik skated in from the slot and THREE Pens went after him, but instead of taking the body they stood still and swatted at the puck. I said Malik skated, but it was really coasting…he just kept going in and it looked like a bunch of six year olds playing bumble bee hockey…everyone swarming around the puck instead of playing positions and, of course, no checking. Malik lost the puck once, but quickly got it back and made an easy pass to Jagr who was sitting all alone next to the left post where he made an easy tap in. The Pens were supposed to be playing man-to-man coverage yet they left Jagr, of all players, wide open.
Tom Renney would be wise to throw out this game tape because no other team in the league will gift wrap a game and hand it over. Next up is a battle witht he division leading Flyers on Monday. I’ll be in NYC this week and am going to try to score some tickets. If that fails then at least I’ll be in a hometown bar to watch the game.
As for the Pens…this team is in big trouble. Fleury excelled in the AHL and I believe he can do the same in the NHL, but he needs a team that is willing to play defense otherwise his head just isn’t in the game. The young kids on this team are looking frustrated and they need to be surrounded with GOOD influences. It’s time for this organization to take stock of who is on their roster and to cutout the dead weight. Unfortunately, it seems like Mario is washing his hands of the whole mess and is going to leave the hard work to whoever buys this lemon off of him. Lemieux’s retirement should have been a time of celebration for an amazing career, but instead it just reeks of someone cutting his losses and running and judging by the play of his former teammates I think they feel the same way.
January 29, 2006
It has been a strange winter so far in central NY. It started with a snow storm and an early deep freeze, but has been followed by several warm spells that were interspersed with single digit temps. Just yesterday we were back in the single digits, but tomorrow it is supposed to be upper 40s. These warm spells have meant more rain than snow this year, but through it all my rink has held up suprisingly well.
I see two keys to my success. First, the rain filled my rink almost to the top and the first deep freeze left me a thick 6″ base. The worst the warm spells could do was reduce my base to a 3 inch ice berg, but when the temps dropped again it quickly froze solid again.
Second, my rink is located on the north side of my house and is enclosed in shadow almost all day long. The shade protects it from the sun on those unseasonably warm days and help it freeze quicker when mother nature cooperates.
In the future I want to expand the rink which will mean exposing it to the sun. To deal with this I plan on replacing my 2 x 8 frame with 2 x 10 or 2 x 12 so I can have an even thicker ice base. I also want to add 3-4 foot side boards. These will not only keep pucks (and toddlers) in the rink, but also provide additional shade. The only downside will be getting the snow out of the rink. Hmmm…maybe the taller boards will wait until my boys are old enough to shovel the rink themselves…
January 28, 2006
I’ve been intending to write a Binghamton Senators mid-season report card for a couple weeks now, but it seems like every game I go to I see a different team. Just when it seemed like they had turned a corner and won 10 out of 14, they started playing half-hearted again and have now lost 3 straight and are slipping further and further from the last playoff berth.
They have no excuses for a slide now since this is the healthiest the Sens organization has been in months (knock on wood). Norton is back in the lineup and Bochenski was sent back down to get some ice time. True, one of the losses can be pinned on the horrid officiating of Harry Dumas, but the other two losses, one against division rival Norfolk and the other against the cellar dwelling River Rats, lacked effort and it seemed as if the B-Sens were just unwilling to fight for wins. This was a complete reversal of what we’d seen over the last month where the Sens always tried hard and their biggest weakness was inconsistent defense and goaltending.
It’s hard to say what is wrong with the team at this point, but one has to wonder if scheduling may have something to do with it. Just when the B-Sens seemed to be on a roll they hit a very light portion of their schedule. The slump began after they had 5 days off. After dropping two games they had another five days off and then lost to Albany. Such long breaks between games can make a team lose their edge.
I still plan on writing my report card, but I’m waiting to see which team I should write about. The Sens are away tonight against Hershey and then have a rematch against WBS Penguins Sunday. It will be interesting to see how the Sens fair against the Pens in a Dumas-free game. There’s still a lot of hockey left, but if they Sens are truly playoff material they need to start playing that way today.
January 27, 2006
Yesterday Keith Aucoin was sent back down to Lowell. He had a poor showing Wednesday night and was on ice for all three Panthers goals. But so was Eric Staal
What impressed me most about Aucoin’s two games was that he was not afraid to get in front of the net or fight for the puck in the corners. If he keeps playing hard working, fearless hockey he’ll be back soon.
Aucoin recorded his first NHL point when one of his linemates, Erik Cole, snapped in Aucoin’s rebound for Carolina’s final goal.
“I don’t know if you were watching on TV, but I couldn’t take the smile off my face,” Aucoin told The Sun after signing 20 or so autographs following the game. “It was a long day. I couldn’t wait to get the first shift out of the way. It was a childhood dream. It was a great experience.”
Aucoin, called up from the Lowell Lock Monsters of the AHL, was stunned to find himself on Carolina’s top line with Cole and Eric Staal, a former Lock Monsters star who has 31 goals this season for the Hurricanes.
January 27, 2006
Wow, one of the best fights I’ve seen this season. Grat’s landed some bombs, but Fedoruk didn’t back off at all. The only thing keeping Fedoruk from landing some haymakers of his own was McGrattan’s longer reach.
January 26, 2006
Seriously, is there a worse referee in the AHL than Harry Dumas? Last Friday night the Binghamton Senators were the latest victims of his overzealous mismanagement of a hockey game. He paraded Senators after Senators into the penalty box to the tune 27 penalties, giving the visiting Penguins 15 power plays including SIX 5 on 3s!!! The Pens had 12 penalties giving the Sens 6 power plays. Going into the game the Penguins had more PIMs for the season.
The B-Sens were completely and utterly dismayed and frustrated by the phantom calls and the misconducts handed out whenever someone argued with him. In the end Dumas handed the Sens 127 minutes and 3 ejections (all three for arguing calls). The police even removed a few irate fans who gave Dumas a piece of their mind (and beverage) when he left the ice.
I think the pro hockey leagues should maintain and release referee statistics. I’m curious to see if Dumas is calling more PIMs than his counterparts and how that impacts the outcome of the games.
January 26, 2006