Thursday, July 7, 2011

Former Lake Erie Monster and Colorado Avalanche Center finds a new home in Toronto

During the first few days of the free agency period many Maple Leafs fans complained about GM Brian Burke just sitting around until now. The past few days he has added to his team including former Colorado Avalanche/Lake Erie Monsters Center Philippe Dupuis.

Dupuis signed a one year two way contract worth $650,000 yesterday. He played last season up in the bigs for the Avalanche where he played in 74 games, scoring six goals and recording a minus four. Dupuis was a very physical guy for the Avs but this is no surprise looking back on his career so far.

I loved watching Dupuis in Lake Erie, he had tremendous speed up and down the ice while he led the second line, sometimes even the first line.

He has an attitude to him that will be with any great hockey player, hard nose, in your face, and is not afraid to crash the net or mix it up a few times. He has an eye for the puck as well as being at the right place at the right time.

He does not just show leadership through play, he is very vocal on the bench as well, always talking to his teammates suggesting where to play next and what to look out for in the play. He led the third line of the Avalanche for some of the time until injuries moved him up to the second line. He would be a great fit for the Leafs at the third line role, but some analysts are picking him to be on the fourth line of the Leafs to start out the season.

I think this is a great pick up for the Leafs who are looking to get better. The team was mere games away from a playoff run last season until getting mathematically eliminated by Buffalo with just five games left in the season. With many teams in their division stacking up on players, I think Burke is in the right direction with the addition of Dupuis.

For Colorado, look for them to seek out a centerman in free agency or from within the organization like young prospect Ryan Stoa who is currently a restricted free agent.

I will be taking a look at a few of the holes the Avalanche need to fill by the start of the season for them to make it to the playoffs in a very tough Western Conference, in a later post.

For more on Colorado Avalanche, Lake Erie Monsters, Tulsa Oilers and NHL keep reading more posts and find me on Twitter @WillWodka2133

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

AHL moves teams and divisions around

Over the last couple of months a lot has changed. In the NHL the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and free agents are jumping to other teams. The same can be said for the AHL, as the Manitoba Moose move to St. John's. This new look as well as bigger fan base has resulted in the AHL moving divisions around and adding a couple.

Last season there was a total of four divisions and two conferences. This upcoming 2011-12 season fans will see six divisions in the two conferences.

The changes include downsizing the divisions from six to eight teams depending on the division down to five teams. Here is a breakdown of what the next season will look like compared to what it did this past season.

2010-2011                                                                                 2011-2012

Eastern Conference                                                             Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division                                                                    Atlantic Division
Portland Pirates                                                                     Portland Pirates
Manchester Monarchs                                                      Manchester Monarchs
Connecticut Whale                                                                    St. John's
Providence Bruins                                                               Providence Bruins
Springfield Falcons                                                             Worchester Sharks
Bridgeport Sound Tigers
East Division                                                                            East Division
Binghamton Senators                                                       Binghamton Senators
Charlotte Checkers                                            Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins                                            Hershey Bears
Hershey Bears                                                                     Norfolk Admirals
Norfolk Admirals                                                                 Syracuse Crunch
Albany Devils
Syracuse Crunch
Adirondack Phantoms                                                      Northeast Division

Western Conference                                                       Adirondack Phantoms
                                                                                           Albany Devils
North Division                                                            Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Hamilton Bulldogs                                                            Connecticut Whale
Manitoba Moose                                                            Springfield Falcons   
Lake Erie Monsters
Abbotsford Heat
Toronto Marlies                                                                   Western Conference
Grand Rapids Griffins     
Rochester Americans                                                                North Division
                                                                                              Hamilton Bulldogs
West Division                                                                        Lake Erie Monsters
Milwaukee Admirals                                                                Toronto Marlies
Houston Aeros                                                                     Grand Rapids Griffins
Peoria Rivermen                                                                    Rochester Americans
Texas Stars
Oklahoma City Barons
Chicago Wolves                                                                        West Division
San Antonio Rampage                                                              Houston Aeros
Rockford Icehogs                                                                        Texas Stars
                                                                                            Oklahoma City Barons
                                                                                            San Antonio Rampage
                                                                                                Abbotsford Heat

                                                                                               Midwest Division
                                                                                              Charlotte Checkers
                                                                                                Chicago Wolves
                                                                                              Milwaukee Admirals
                                                                                                 Peoria Rivermen
                                                                                                Rockford Icehogs

The playoffs will also change a little. It will still remain eight teams in the playoffs but now it will be the three division winners in each conference will get the top spots and then the other five spots will rank teams determined on who had more points than the other. The first round quarterfinals will change from a seven game series to a five game series. The other rounds will be a best of seven series and the match-ups will change based on who has the better seeds in the later rounds. So if the number one seed gets knocked out but the two seed wins then the two seed will play the eighth seed.

Later in the summer the league will announce its teams' schedules.

For more information on the AHL, Lake Erie Monsters, Tulsa Oilers and Colorado Avalanche stay tuned to this blog and follow me on Twitter @WillWodka2133.

Lake Erie Monsters lose a great player to Free Agency

July 1st came and went without some surprise signings, including Ville Leino signing with Buffalo Sabres and J.S. Giguere signing with Colorado. With all the free agents around it may be hard to remember some of them were minor league players. A few free agents that were checking out the market included guys like Greg Mauldin, David Van der Gulik and Jason Bacashihua from Lake Erie Monsters . Well one of those players has signed with another team.

Late last night word spread on Twitter from Mile High Hockey that the Phoenix Coyotes signed free agent goaltender Jason Bacashihua. Bacashihua played in Lake Erie on two seperate occasions and last season helped the Monsters get to their first playoff appearance in franchise history.

Returning to the team after leaving in 2009 to play for the AHL Hershey Bears, Bacashihua played in 42 games for the Monsters recording a 23-16 record with a 2.29 goals against average. He is versatile, he has great hands as he flash the leather and moves well east to west. He is also a great goaltender, knowing when to come out of the net to cut off the angles or to play the puck.

Bacashihua is familiar with moving around, getting drafted way back in the 2000's by the Dallas Stars he has moved around to a bunch of cities. One move included a brief two season stint in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues. Now he will get a chance to play again in the "bigs" when he works he way through the system after he signs a two way contract with the Coyotes.

For more information on the Lake Erie Monsters, Tulsa Oilers and Colorado Avalanche keep checking this blog and follow me on Twitter @WillWodka2133

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Getting to know some of the teams within the Colorado Organization: Tulsa Oilers

Being one of three teams in the league that started in 1992 when the Central Hockey League reformed, the Tusla Oilers have made a mark on the league. Playing in Tulsa, Oklahoma the team was ranked sixth overall this past season in attendance.

Having won the championship in the inaugural season of the league the Oliers made the playoffs nine out of the next 13 seasons. Though making the playoffs is not enough, the team was never able to make it over the first round hump, until last year.

Now with the team coached by Bruce Ramsay who is known for winning championships the team is on the rebound. This past season the Oilers moved on to the second round, ultimately losing to the Bossier-Shreveport Mubdugs, making this the first time since the 1994 season the team has won a playoff round.

On September 2, 2010 the team announced they would join the Colorado Organization and be the official affiliate to the Lake Erie Monsters and Colorado Avalanche.

This team has been the workforce for draft picks from Colorado. Having seen guys play, this team really helps them develop their skills. Rising goaltender Trevor Cann saw play in both Colorado and Lake Erie early on in his career, but recently moved down to Tulsa to work on his skills. Last season Cann recorded a 13-9 record.

For some hockey fans in the area Tulsa's participation in the Avalanche Organization is a welcome home. Two players taken in different draft classes have made their way to Tulsa from Parma, OH. Left winger Tom Fritsche whose brother plays for the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, and goalie Ian Keserich were drafted by the Avalanche and are now seeing considerable playing time in Tulsa. Last season Keserich saw most of the playing time recording a 22-10 record. While Fritsche had a so so season only scoring two goals and 13 assists. Maybe someday we may get the chance to watch these two young players play at the Quicken Loans arena in Cleveland, OH for the AHL Lake Erie Monsters.

The Oilers are looking to build upon this past season and look to make another run to the Presidents' cup.

In later posts I will be taking a look at the Tulsa Oilers and post news about the team.

For more news and information on Colorado Avalanche, Lake Erie Monsters and Tulsa Oilers, keep checking this blog. Also find me on Twitter @WillWodka2133

Friday, July 1, 2011

Not sure the Colorado Avalanche are making sense in net

In my last post I mentioned the Colorado Avalanche traded for goalie Varlamov. Well the Avs picked up another goalie, this time through free agency, but is it the right choice or will the Avs be kicking themselves later?

The Avalanche late Friday afternoon picked up goalie J.S. Giguere off of the free agency wire. Giguere who spent the last couple of seasons playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, won a cup way back in 2007 when the Anaheim Ducks beat Ottawa Senators. But he has never real been the same goalie.

In his years with Toronto Giguere played 48 games in two seasons. Last year he fought for the starting position and lost to Gustavson and later Reimer.

The Avalanche were in the mix of teams trying to contact Tomas Vokoun who went on the market today. He would have been a great fit for an Avs team trying to get back to their winning ways. But then Avalanche fans saw their team trade two picks for Varlamov.

I was a little disappointed they went for him but do see the reasoning behind it. Varlamov is a young player and young goalies have been known to succeed early in their career, just look at Ryan Miller.

Matt Duchene was quoted from his twitter account saying "Excited about having a young, talented goalie in Denver in Varlamov. Will fit in great"

But seeing Colorado pick up Giguere makes no sense at all. Why would the Avs pay for two fairly big names in net who currently have the skills to become great backups and not starters? Also I would have thought that the money you could have saved not picking both of these guys up, you could have spent on Vokoun. Having Vokoun in net then resigning Jason Bacashihua would help as a backup. Bacashihua posted a 23-16 record with four shutouts and led Monsters to their first playoff series in franchise history. Or if they wanted to get someone with more NHL experience they could have looked at signing Free Agent Ty Conklin. Conklin is known for being a decent back up and would have been great behind Vokoun.

The Avalanche are not slowing down and are looking to add another player tonight. More information on breaking developments here on this blog. Find me on twitter at @WillWodka2133

The Avalanche did what?

In a move that was not foreseen by anyone in the hockey world, Colorado Avalanche pick up a goalie. But so far it did not come from free agency but through a trade.

In a press release from the Colorado Avalanche, the Avs have sent the 2012 first round draft pick to the Washington Capitals for backup goaltender Semyon Varlamov.

Many hockey analysts throughout the country who are following the free agency market as well as myself, saw the Avs having a good shot at getting the prized goaltender of the market Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun was perfect for them, though a little on the pricey side, he would have surely helped with his leadership as well as skill in between the pipes.

Varlamov on the other hand has been shaky at times and was the backup in Washington. He even saw a few games in the AHL for the Hershey Bears last season. He records a decent save percentage and his goals against average his just under 3. But his weakness is down low. He lets in a lot of soft goals and can be beaten five hole.

Lets hope the Avs goalie coach can work on his skill a little more, right now I do not see him as a starting goalie but Avs thought differently. Tough to see what will become of him right now but lets hope he can help the Avs out, between the pipes.

For more coverage on big name free agency signings keep checking into this blog, and follow me on twitter @WillWodka2133

A banner Goes in the Rafters

The past couple of weeks have been a busy one for the Avalanche. They have had to deal with the draft, trying to sign key players and as of noon today the free agency market opens up. But this did not stop them from announcing a major event.

Just before the puck drops in the Pepsi Center to start the new season, the Colorado Avalanche will be raising a banner in honor of Peter Forsberg.

Announced yesterday the team will retire "Peter the Great"s number in a ceremony before the home opener. Forsberg has been a god in Colorado, playing almost his entire NHL career in the Colorado organization including playing the last few years when the team was in Quebec.

Playing in over 700 games and scoring 885 career points Forsberg helped lead the team to two Stanley Cup victories as well as winning the hearts of so many fans.

Fans watched as his career diminished, with having multiple surgeries on his ankle and never able to bounce back from those injuries. He had a few stints with other clubs in the NHL but then returned home to Sweden. He tried to play in the Swedish Modo league and thoughts of him returning to NHL seemed within reach.

He gave it one last try to join the NHL and play again this past season. He signed a contract with the Avs. and things looked promising for him in his first game for him and the club. But the pain came back and having to play almost everyday was not going to happen for Forsberg. After a week, he announced he was hanging up the skates for good.

He is known throughout Colorado as Peter the Great and even with an injury plagued career everyone will remember the high flying days of Forsberg.

He currently is coaching in the Swedish league. On October 8th he will watch the banner will go up into the rafters like he did when he helped Colorado to two cup victories.

Great player and someday will be a great coach in the NHL.

For more on the Avalanche, Monsters, Oilers and the NHL keep checking this blog. Also find me on Twitter @WillWodka2133

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A look at the Colorado Avalanche Draft Picks

The 2010-11 season has come and gone, yet the season never stops for hockey fans, owners and General Managers. This past weekend the 2011 NHL Draft was held in Minneapolis, Minasota.

Over the course of the two day, seven round draft we saw major players picked and GM's trying their hardest to find the next best talent for their team to be the next Boston Bruins.

The Colorado Avalanche was no exception, but did they pick the right guys for the right fits in their squad?

With the second overall pick in the draft Colorado took young Swedish born player named Gabriel Landeskog. In an earlier post I mentioned that he would be a great fit for Colorado and he himself was excited to get picked by the Avs. He will have to prove he can play with the big guys in the NHL but he is a perfect fit for a team that needs a fast, scoring machine on the wing.

For their second pick in the first round, that they had gotten in a trade that sent their second round pick to St. Louis for the #11 overall pick and Erik Johnson, Colorado took defenceman Duncan Siemens from Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League. This 6 foot 3 196 pound machine ranked second among defenceman in Saskatoon in scoring. He recorded 43 points and had a plus/minus 40. He is one of the younger guys; only 17. He is on the 2011-12 Saskatoon Blades roster and I can see him staying there to develop more of his skill. He has been clocked at having a 92.4 mph slapshot and analyst Peter Sullivan says he can play both the powerplay and penalty kill but at times in his game he tries to overstep his bounderies. He will be a great player for the Avs in a few years. I see him playing for the Monsters in a year.

Not having another pick until the fourth round, Colorado took Joachim Nermark 93rd overall. Although he is another young player, who currently plays in the Swedish Juniors league, he has good size, standing at 6 foot 185 pounds. In scouting reports on him, analysts saw a lot of potential in him. A center who pursues the puck in the corners as well as having a nact for passing with such great accuracy. He crashes boards as well as nets and led all the teams at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in Sweden. Another player that Colorado will have to wait on and mature, Nermark will be a good fit for the Avs when looking to fill a center role on the third line.

In the fifth round the Avs took Garret Meurs of the OHL Plymouth Whalers. A bit of a smaller guy for a right winger, he can play with true grit. He was named Whalers rookie of the year scoring 41 points in 68 games. He is always looking to improve his game, and it has shown through his growth on the ice. But he needs to hit the weights a little more if he wants to scrap with the big guys in the corner. Look for him to play another year in the OHL or play in Lake Erie or Tulsa as part of the Avs farm system. He has little more to learn to the game but will be a great fit to place on a line with guys like Duchene or Dupuis.

The last two picks the Avs had went to guys in the Quebec Major Juniors League.

In the sixth round they took another defenceman named Gabriel Beaupre. At 6 foot 2 hes a bit hitter as well as a shot blocker. He is not afraid to fight and plays with a lot of intensity. There weren't as many scouting reports on him but I see him being another Tyler Myers from Buffalo. Great pick up for the Avs who will have to look for a replacement for Adam Foote.

In the last pick of the 2011 draft for the Avs, they picked up Dillion Donnelly, son of Gord Donnelly. This guys has a reputation as well as expectations to be a great player, but he is going to need some work. Hes got great puck handling skills but needs a lot of work on the forecheck as well as other aspects of his game. Young kid though still playing in the QMJHL but could move to Tulsa too.

Overall I would give the Colorado Avalanche at B+. They picked up key players in positions that are needed with skills that need to come to Colorado. I think Colorado has figured out how to use the farm systems to their advantage. I mean look at where Greg Mauldin, Philippe Dupuis and Brandon Yip came from. I would have given them an A but they picked "young" guys, though this was kind of a hard draft for everyone, there was not that one really great player like in the past couple of years. But I think the Avs got the steal of the draft taking Landeskog. Not going to say that its impossible for the Avs to make the Playoffs next year but I do think their chances just got a whole lot better with this draft.

For more on the Avs. Monsters and Oilers as well as other major hockey news keep checking out this blog at and look for me on twitter @WillWodka2133

Friday, June 24, 2011

We are just hours away from seeing potential greatness enter the organization

As we slowly get closer to that final clock where many teams will pick their next great player or a potential dud, I take a look at what the Colorado Avalanche need to help them rebound and return to the playoffs.

In the recent issue of Hockey News which can be found on newstands everywhere, sports writers took a look at the prospects and included a mock draft. In that mock draft they saw Colorado taking Gabriel Landeskog at the #2 overall pick and Oscar Klefbom at the #11 pick.

This year the Avs were able to get the #2 pick after what was supposed to be a promising season that ended in disaster. They recieved the #11 pick from a trade they had with St. Louis. But are these two players the right fit for Colorado?

Landeskog is a great fit for the Avs who look to produce more goals. The team was only able to produce 221 goals and let in 287. Landeskog who is originally from Sweden moved over to Canada and for the last two years has been playing for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. During his last year he had a injury shortened season playing in only 53 games but scored 36 goals and had a plus/minus of +27. The left winger has a long, hard stride and is fast. He plays a hard nose in your face game. He crashes the net and is not afraid to shoot. During the offseason he had a tryout with the New Jersey Devils. Along with a few other players they were tested on endurance. Every player ran on a treadmil for as long as they could with the incline increasing every so often. Landeskog was the only player to go the longest with the most incline. Scouts say that he will not need time to work on mechanics in the AHL and will easily fit in the NHL.

With some great wingers the Avs could really use Landeskog to help mold some of the others who are still struggling to find their balance. This is a great pick-up for a team that needs someone to help out on lines with Duchene and Hejduk.
Oscar Klefbom is a defenceman with great speed. His style of play includes a hard shot, a knowledge of how to play the blue line and plays physical. He is one of those defenceman that does not get a lot of goals but creates chances for his team on the powerplay. Colorado's powerplay was not all that great last year. They had an 18.5 powerplay percentage with just 49 goals on 265 attempts. No defenceman on the team had a plus/minus above a -3. Klefbom brings a lot more to the table and can speed down the ice to break up the would be odd man rushes. With his presence at the point to be able to set up plays and keep the puck in the offensive zone, Klefom would be a steal for the Avs. Hockey News was the only one I saw that had Colorado taking Klefbom. Other analysts had him going to Tampa Bay or New York Rangers. He is one of those quiet unnoticed defenceman that is on the board and some have said he is easily a top 15 pick.

This is one of those drafts where you don't know who really will go where but for the Avs, if they want to get back into contention they need to start by drafting quality guys like these two. The Western Conference is going to be tough again and the Avs need to get ahead of the game if they want to fight for the cup come next May. Another thing the Avs need to look at is who they have in the farm system. I would not be surprised if we see a trade from the Avs in the upcoming weeks.

For more on draft coverage and the Avalanche and Monsters keep following this blog and find me on twitter @WillWodka2133

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A look back at some of the moments in 2010-2011 NHL season

This is a list of some of the moments I think made this past hockey season eventful. In no particular order these moments are just a look back at a season that was.

1. Hall vs. Seguin: They were the first and second overall picks in the NHL draft last season and the league is trying to make it a rivalry just like the Ovi vs. Crosby rivalry. Though I haven't seen the rivalry yet these two sure know how to play and win. Seguin helped his team win the Stanley Cup in only his first season.

2. Boston's Thorton gets cut: In a game against Chicago Blackhawks, words were used as well as skates? In a play behind the net, a falling Fernando Pisani cut Shawn Thorton in the face with his skate. This happened in a similar situation last year when Richard Zednik of Florida was cut by his own teammate's skate at a game in Buffalo.

3. HBO series: In what was one of the most anticipated Winter Classic games, HBO and the NHL teamed up to have a four part series on what goes on in the locker rooms of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals along with what makes the rivalry so strong.

4. Up for sale: In this past year we saw the purchase of two teams. The Buffalo Sabres started the trend when former owner Tom Golisano sold the team to Terry Pegula, who will keep the team in Buffalo. The second happened just weeks ago as Michael Gearon sold the Atlanta Thrashers to True North Sports and Entertainment; thus moving the team to Winnipeg.

5. Loss of greats: Though happiness never comes without sadness. This past year the hockey world lost Derek Boogaard and Rick Martin. Boogaard was just 28 when he was found in his apartment. Rick Martin was a god in Buffalo and known throughout the NHL world as a member of the french connection. He died tragically after suffering a heart attack while behind the wheel, he was 59.

6. First time in decades: Boston Bruins win their first Stanley Cup since the 1971-72 season. Another chilling fact: predicted early on in the season that the finals would come down to Vancouver vs. Boston and Boston would prevail.

7. First Timer: Since joining the league in 1998-99 season the Nashville Predators never played more than 82 games in a season until this year. They played Vancouver Canucks in their first playoff series in franchise history. Though they lost in six games, they put up a fight and look to repeat their success next year.

8. Record puts him in high honors: To win as a goaltender it takes a lot of skill. Facing over 30 shots a game, most being well over 90 mph, and stopping all or most to give your team a chance to win is a hard feat to accomplish. For a few goalies they have accomplished this feat over 400 times. One more goalie can be added to that list. Chris Osgood became only the tenth goalie in history to record over 400 wins in his career.

9. The "Great" comes back: Peter Forsberg has been known to many as Peter the Great but injuries in recent years saw him move from NHL to Sweden where he played limited ice time in a Swedish league. It was until this season when he came back to the NHL and signed with the Colorado Avalanche. Though the stint was brief he gave Avs fans something to cheer about. He hung up the skates for good after less than a week of play. He is currently coaching in the Swedish League.

10. Weather plays a factor: In what was made the most anticipated Winter Classic was in fact the worst. Weather played a factor as the ice never looked good. Unusually warm temps for Pittsburgh made the NHL move the time to 8pm. That did not help as you could clearly see puddles in the corners as well as players taking it easy on the ice.

11. Tournament returns to States: In what has been called for years as the Olympics for Juniors; the World Juniors Championship returned to the U.S. and played a two week tournament in Buffalo, NY. It gave fans a chance to see prospects from their teams play and gave another reason to chant "U.S.A" during a Canada vs. U.S. game.

12. Going back to the classics: Many teams went back to the old style jerseys this year. New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres went back to using old style jerseys as their every game jersey style. Where teams like Kings used an older style as an alternate jersey.

13. Players get added support: The NHLPA along with players voted almost unanimously for Donald Fuhr to join the team. This gives the players another voice to help them out.

14. Launch of more hockey: In recent years the NHL has launched a network and an XM station, now they come together on one radio station. The league announced they will have a radio station on the NHL Web site that will play rebroadcasts of some of the shows including old games.

15. He's back!: Devils former coach Jacques Lemaire joined the team again for a second straight year relieving John McLean as coach. Lemaire who brought the Devils to an Atlantic Division title the year prior could not get them close. After the season Lemaire called it quits for good.

16. He keeps on scoring!: Sidney Crosby has always helped out his Penguins but this year was a different story. Crosby cruised to a 27 game scoring streak, it became the longest streak since Mats Sundin went 30 games in the 1992-93 season.

17. Longtime GM makes news: Longtime Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter has been under some heat as of late. Bringing back Olli Jokinen after Sutter said he was a terrible player and would never play in Calgary again was not enough. Sutter unexpectedly resigned from his position as GM.

18. An All-Star first: For the first time in NHL history the league chose to use the fan balloting along with a simplicistic backyard way to pick teams. The league gave two captains the chance to choose who they wanted on their team to win the all-star game.

19. A heartfelt return: Saku Koivu returned to Montreal to play against a team/community that gave him so much. A man who fought on the ice, also had to fight off the ice as he battled cancer. Montreal stuck my his side the entire way through and praised him for beating cancer. I to this day remember watching the first moment he stepped onto that ice in a Montreal uniform as he saluted the fans cheering his name some years ago.

20. This isn't mine, oh well!: In a game featuring Minnasota Wild vs. Anahiem Ducks a bizarre play in the corner turned into a goal for Ducks. Minnasota's Mikko Koivu lost his stick in the corner. Bobby Ryan who had his stick stolen from him picked up the stick and scored a goal on goalie Backstrom.

21.Where is it? Oh noooo!: In Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals Vancouver and San Jose needed overtime to decide who would go for the cup. No one scored in the first overtime and things looked bleak for a winner to be announced during the second overtime until an unexpected play occurred. Daniel Sedin was simply dumping the puck into the corner from the point when the puck took a bounce off a partition and landed in the middle of the ice. Everyone on the ice thought it went off the netting except for one player. Kevin Bieksa one timed the shot through Niemi's legs to give Vancouver the win.

22. Needed extra time in Post season: This post season saw 22 games go into extra time, tying a 2003 record. Making it the third most in NHL Playoff history.

23. Another new rule for extra time in regular season: Years ago the league decided to change the tie rule in the regular season. The rule: if a game is not determined after one overtime period teams would go to sudden death shootout. Now the league has made a bylaw to that rule. At the end of the season to determine who gets a playoff spot if two teams are tied and if the head to head matchup is a tie, then they will look at regulation wins, not shootout wins.

24. You can't pay him that!: Before the 2010-11 season even began a contraversy was bruing between the NHL and the New Jersey Devils. The Devils wanted to give Ilya Kovalchuck the biggest contract that included him getting paid less towards the end of his contract. The league did not approve. Everyone involved in the dispute finally came an agreement and Kovalchuck played for the Devils. Though this year the Devils did not see much out of Kovalchuck to warrent him the big contract maybe next year will be different.

25. I thought you wanted to return?: This past year Evgeni Nabokov was in the news. Nabokov went to the KHL after becoming a free agent but wanted to come back to the NHL. He was picked up by the Detroit Red Wings who needed a goalie at the time. Nabokov did not want to go there, but was able to talk Detroit into putting him on waivers. From there New York Islanders who also had goalie problems picked him up. He still did not want to go there and the money they were going to pay him, he felt he deserved more, so he did not report. In doing so New York came back with a suspension.

26. Cali has ice fever in Spring: For the first time in history every team from the state of California made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

27. His whistle blows one last time: Longtime great Referee Bill McCreary hangs up the whistle after 27 years. He officiated 1,737 games as well as olympic games. He holds the record for most games officiated in the playoffs as well as most Stanley Cup Finals games officiated.

28. They don't go down easy: For only the second time in NHL history seven of the playoff series needed a game 7 to decide who would move on.

29. True escape artist: Zdeno Chara escaped punishment after he drilled Max Pacioretty sending him into the stantion separating the benches. Words were transfered between both teams during that game and fans nearly rioted for a suspension. But this brutal hit went unjustified until Pacioretty spoke out saying he thought the league should have done something. This hit along with a few others have made the league rethink the rules on hits to the head and hits from behind.

30. Reaching a milestone: Jarome Iginla scored his 1,000 point during the season becoming the 77th player in NHL history to hit that feat.

31. Man this Conference is tough: Even with winning 42 games and receiving 95 points in the standings, this was still not enough for Dallas to make it to the playoffs. This marks the first that a team receives that many points but does not make the playoffs.

32. Suspended!: Raffi Torres faced a suspension after nailing Jordan Eberle with a high elbow. This was not the first known headshot Torres gave.

33. NHL finally gets it right: Penguins Matt Cooke was suspended for the rest of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs after a crushing elbow he used on Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers. This was the second suspension for Cooke in the season. He received a four game suspension after hitting Columbus Blue Jackets Fedor Tyutin.

34. He's at 300 already?: Alexander Oveckin became the youngest player in NHL history to score 300 goals.

35. Who's got skills: Players came out in full force to show what skills they have in during the all-star weekend festivities. One of the best things I thought was for the first time they had two goalies race to see who was the fastest.

36. Can't even see that!: Every year during the skills competition there is a hardest shot event. This year was no different except for one thing. This year we saw the hardest shot ever recorded in NHL history. Zdeno Chara ripped a shot that went 105.9 mph. Wow!!!

37. Draft: In the 2010 Entry Level Draft a record was set for American born players. It was the first time in history that 11 American born players were taken in the first round. Though Canada still showed us whose sport it is by having 14 Canadian drafted players, its a good sign that America is coming up with great players.

38. Classic check!: In what has been known as the classic hip check has somewhat gone away from the regular game of hockey. Until Aaron Rome of Vancouver thought differently when he nailed Edmonton's Ladislav Smid and flipped him over.

39. Flashing leather: This a shout out to all the great saves of the season, there were too many great ones to narrow it down to one so here is a video of some great saves.

40. Numbers do not lie: This season the NHL saw record high numbers for viewers throughout the season, as well as an increase in ticket sales. Keep watching hockey, and if this season was great I'm not sure how it will be topped but I know that next season the players will give fans something to cheer about.

That is the list. For more on hockey news stay tuned to this blog. Also follow me on Twitter @WillWodka2133.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Original Six team is crowned winner

Last night Gary Bettman handed the Stanley Cup off to Boston Bruins Captain Zedenov Chara after Boston won Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals 4-0.

In a game where Vancouver was out matched by Boston things looked bleak for the fans up north as Boston took an early 1-0 lead. Each game including Game 7 based itself on who could get that early lead. The team to score first eventually won every game.

Boston came up big in the second period when they got that all important insurance goal while trying to kill off a penalty.

Vancouver never seemed to find their legs, getting beat deep in the corner and never getting a real chance to set up plays while in the attacking zone.

This Game 7 was the highest viewed game 7 on record for NHL. This is a good sign for things to come later on for the league. It has been rough the last couple of years. Having had a lock out, and teams going bankrupt/moving.

But looking on the brightside more fans are getting into the sport and what was once just a sport for Canadians is slowly becoming an American sport too. All series long chants of U.S.A were belted from fans inside the Boston arena. Canadians have always sung their national anthem in the stands and one of the coolest things I have ever seen was when every American in the stands stood up and sang along with our national anthem. Not to mention a Canadian team has not won the cup since 1992-1993 season when Montreal won.

Congrats to the Boston Bruins for winning the cup.

Though its sad the season had to come to an end, this is only the beginning for me. I will be taking a look and making a list of the top 50 moments in the 2010-2011 season. Also over the off season I am going to take a look at draft picks as well as what each team needs to do in their organization to become the next Boston Bruins. But not to leave them out I will take a look at different minor league teams including your Lake Erie Monsters and other AHL teams. As well as bring you up to date hockey news and information.

Keep checking back to the blog and follow me on Twitter @WillWodka2133

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2010-2011 NHL season ends tonight

Tonight the Hockey God's will be in attendance as Gary Bettman and the NHLPA crown a new Stanley Cup Champion tonight, but who will win?

Each team is exhausted. It has been a long and hard road. Many are starting to figure out both goalies. For example, to beat Thomas you need to get him to move east to west, and with Luongo you need to go glove hand. He has a slow glove and tries to time everything just right. In Game 6, he was beat glove side high, so the next shot he tried to stay high a little longer and time going low but could not squeeze the pads and let in a second of three goals before getting the yank.

Boston his definitely in Vancouver's head. Boston took out another player as Raymond was sent into the boards awkwardly and had to be taken to the hospital where it was found he has a broken vertebrae. The rest of the game Vancouver looked taken aback and never established a rhythm.

Boston has been the better of two teams in this finals, outscoring Vancouver as well as outplaying them for the puck everytime. Having watched the last game, whenever the puck was dumped into the boards I saw three Vancouver players and only one Boston player yet Boston got control of the puck.

Vancouver needs to get back to the basics and find their game plan. During the San Jose series, Vancouver had a track record of letting them back into the game. It is no different in the Finals, but to overcome this I have noticed a few things they could change.

Vancouver has stepped it up and decreased odd man rushes that plagued them in the San Jose series but they have fallen back in aggressiveness. In past series Vancouver was aggressive to the puck and flew down the ice at every opportunity. I saw maybe one or two dump and chase attempts from them in Game 6 which is not their style, the fast legs of Sedin brothers and Burrows should give them the edge in that department.

Speaking of Sedin's, where have they been? If it wasn't for the fact the two of them are on the ice almost 30 min. a game you would never think they were in the series. Henrik had a goal in Game 6 which should that maybe he can start leading the team in Game 7 but I wonder how much he has left in the tank.

Vancouver needs to have a talk with Luongo. I think a good thing is the fact that Game 7 is in Vancouver tonight but the crowd will still attempt to get into his head. He has been shaky most of this series and needs to get his confidence back. For goalies, its not just simply looking at the next day and practicing harder it has to do with mental abilities too. I think a big thing is Vancouver needs to play better in front him and get that first goal (key factor). The team with the first goal has won each game in this finals series.

Keys to victory for Vancouver: Go hard to the crease. Get into Thomas' grill, cause penalties and establish your ground in front of the net. Again to beat Thomas you need to get him going left or right. Continue to pass around get the play set up. If the puck is at the top bring it around the glass or into the corner, you can get the battles and then that will open up the middle or sides to get Thomas moving.

Keys to victory for Boston: Get into Luongo's head quick. Fast transitions are key, use your speed and quick hands. If Vancouver doesn't show physical play, then start it. Keep getting young guys involved in the play, Paille and Seguin are having a great series and can continue. I would say keep out of the penalty box but Boston has done well a man short. Not only have they scored short handed, they were able to control the puck for over half the penalty not once but twice in Game 6.

At this point it is hard for me to figure out who will win. Vancouver has bounced back every time they have been down and Boston makes mistakes too. This has been a great series. I was a little disappointed when I saw San Jose get knocked out but I do think this goes down as one of the best Finals series in 5 years. Tonight will go down in history!

I will post up after game thoughts and recap the game. Also follow me on Twitter @WillWodka2133

Monday, June 13, 2011

And then there was a Game 7

Tonight was the night Vancouver could have won their franchise first Stanley Cup, but nostagla of the moment changed everything.

Vancouver looked great in the first couple minutes of the game but the team soon would fall apart. Giving up 4 goals in just over 4 minutes of the first period, goaltender Roberto Luongo was pulled and the bleeding continued.

I mentioned in my last post that the physical presence of the playoffs have hurt Vancouver. Tonight was no different as the team lost another winger and with that lost the flow of their game that they had in the last two games.

Vancouver looked lost all night, having no energy and kept scrambling around. During the time that Boston was inside the Vancouver zone, Vancouver kept bunching in the corner, and leaving two Boston players in front of the net.

When it came to the second period, Vancouver looked like they were trying to get a jumpstart but could never get anything going. Boston was just too physical and with turnovers plaguing Vancouver the one upside they did not let in a goal during the second period.

The third period started off well for Vancouver as they scored a quick powerplay goal in the first minute of the period. This momentum swing was short lived as Vancouver continued to take bad penalties.

Once again the Sedin brothers were not a factor in the game and Kesler who was obviously not 100% did not play well after missing most of the series with an injury.

Boston definitely was the better team in this game and played well under pressure in desperation situations. Boston was able to kill off penalties and really took control of the puck inside the zone.

Vancouver looked to send a message late as the Crowd stood up chanting "We want the cup."

Wednesday's game 7 will definitely be a big game. Expect Vancouver's house to be rocking as Luongo looks to get back between the pipes and lead the team with help from the Sedin twins to get Vancouver its first franchise Stanley Cup.

For more on Stanley Cup coverage be sure to keep checking this blog as well as follow me on twitter @WillWodka2133

A champion could be crowned tonight

Last night America saw the NBA champion crowned a winner. The Mavericks won the championship for the first time in Franchise history against Miami and tonight the Canucks are looking to do just that against the Bruins.

In their 41 year history dating all the way back to the 70's the Canucks have tried to achieve glory twice but ultimately falling victim to a champion. This year is different, the team finds themselves one win away from hoisting up the cup, but do they have what it takes to defeat the historic original six team?

To look at the stats one must think that the series is lopsided but how is it possible the other team is leading the series. Boston has looked great every game. Their strongest period has been the second and have dominated the boards as well as keeping Vancouver in check.

For the most part the Sedin twins have not been much of a factor in this series. Guys like Burrows have stepped up and helped carry the team. Magnificant stops by Thomas have kept the Bruins in it. Thats the scary part that Vancouver faces. The man behind the mask Tim Thomas has been able to stop everything. Like the old saying goes Vancouver "has thrown everything at him except for the kitchen sink." Thomas has found a way to pick things up and make unbelievable saves.

Physicalness might have worn Vancouver down a bit. Every series for them has been a hard fought series. Take for example Kesler. Yes he was able to score the tying goal against the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Series but that did not come without a price. In Game 5 he recieved a crushing hit and has yet to come back 100% though he says that he will play tonight and feels a lot better. Analysts noticed at the optional skate on Monday that he has gotten his stride back.

The key to victory for Vancouver tonight is to continue crashing the net. In Games one and tw Vancouver was able to cycle the puck around and get the Sedin twins in the mix. Boston has been known to block a lot of shots, big blasts from the twins could prove to damage the Bruins. Bruins will bring their A game, they have been physical all game and have found ways to score short handed and on odd manrushes. One thing is, Boston has to watch out for rebounds and bad angle shots. Most of Vancouver's goals have come as a result of one of those two.

I expect a long hard fought game with no decision after regulation. I think Vancouver will prevail and bring the cup home.

Friday, June 10, 2011

As hockey fans wait for the puck drop tonight, others are happy to see a team come back.

In a season that has been chalk full of highlights and news, the playoffs are taking a back seat for some GMs. 
A couple weeks ago NHL commissioner Gary Bettman along with members from the Atlanta Thrashers made an announcement that the team will be moving to Winnipeg.

This boasted many fans not just in the Winnipeg area. Winnipeg had a team years ago but the Jets could never establish much and the team and with the majority owners deciding to not renew the contract and keep the team in Winnipeg, they moved to Pheonix 1996.

With all of the reports following the Pheonix Coyotes in recent years some fans found a renewed optimistic look at possibly moving the team back to Winnipeg or the Canadian area. Pheonix has had plenty of offers but so far the city of Pheonix along with Gary Bettman has made it their promise to keep the team there.

So far it has worked for the team as well, getting to the first round of this year's playoffs but ultimately falling to the Detroit Red Wings.

In a time where everyone thought the Coyotes were going to be a team to move, a surprise decision was made within weeks of hearing the Atlanta Thrashers were looking to sell the team. Truth North Sports and Entertainment came in and within weeks made every Winnipeg fan's dream of seeing an NHL team back again, a reality.

The company also owns the Manitoba Moose an AHL team affiliated to the Vancover Canucks and rumors swirled of the Moose dissolving and becoming the Winnipeg team. This was untrue and word of both teams staying became the norm.

This was of course until today when AHL President and CEO David Andrews announced the Manitoba Moose will move to St. John's N.L. in Canada. Andrews also said the team will be the AHL affiliate to the new Winnipeg team come fall.  In BREAKING NEWS the when the team moves to St. John's they will no longer be the Moose. There have been some incidents where people have been getting injured from Moose and Danny Williams would not like that to affect the team. So the team will have a new name as well as a new home come fall.

This is a time where hockey tradition seems to be coming back. For years Bettman has been trying to expand the league to areas where hockey was never really heard of before or were new to it. Ideas have been thrown around for another team in California and more out West. But in recent months we have seen teams move back to its roots. Not saying it is a great idea for all teams to go back into Canada. I love having hockey in the United States but is it possible that we could see a time where the league re-evaluates itself and sees that it will take time to introduce the sport to places like Utah. For now in a time where the league and sport can bank on other sports downfalls (NFL, NBA, MLS) it is safe to say the sport and leagues are gaining popularity and revenue and I expect to see more moves and changes to the leagues.

Until then only time will tell when everything will be a success, but until then we have a Stanley Cup Champion to crown.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Monsters look to get closer to playoffs as the Avs look to get better

The Avalanche have been sub par of late, Tuesday they won just their first game in eleven games. A new look in net for the Avs may spark some excitement for the team. The Avs announced on Wednesday they traded Craig Anderson for Brian Elliot who will back up Peter Budaj for now. The goalie position may not have been a spot you would expect them to trade for. The Avs are stacked with goalies and have a couple of upcoming stars in the minors right now, but this move was necessary to spark something in this team and to get rid of an Anderson who has not showed his true potential since getting picked up by the Avs.

As we move towards the trade deadline the team should start looking at their defenseman. The first two lines look stacked and just need to work together more to produce more. But defense is key for this team to survive in the western conference. Not sure if the season is lost for the Avs yet but times are rough and a quick bounce back is need fast for them to have a shot to play past April.

For the Monsters the team looks solid. I plan on going to the game tonight at the Quicken Loans Arena, if I do I will have more on how the team looks in upcoming days.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lake Erie looks to get into the playoffs

With about 20 games left in the 2010-2011 season the Monsters find themselves in a good spot. They currently sit tied for first in the North Division and tied for seventh in the Western Conference standings with 66 points.

The team looks to work their way into the playoffs for the first time in team history. Last season the team looked good towards the homestretch but a couple of close losses late in the season faltered any chance of the team making the playoffs.

Look for the Monsters who have been getting better throughout the season get a chance to play for the ultimate AHL prize.

Monday, February 14, 2011

He will forever be known as one of the best of his time

Peter Forsberg recently came back to the Colorado Avalanche after taking a four year hiatus to work out his bad ankle. He had a couple of surgeries and tried to play for a team in the Swedish league but still could not overcome the injury. Recently he thought about a come back to the NHL where if he could play he would sign with the Avalanche one more time. He spent a week practicing making sure he could come back and last Sunday he made a final decision to come back and play. But just a week into his surprise return to the Avs we are left watching Forsberg hang up the skates for the last time.

It is a sad day for everyone including me. I have always been a Forsberg fan, he was like my Gretzkey or Howe or Hull. I watched everything about him. As a kid playing street hockey whether it was practicing or playing a pick up game with my friends I would always play as Forsberg. His intensity and knowledge of the game was amazing. When Quebec moved to Colorado in 1995 I watched and rooted for the team. They had some of the greats on that team including Roy, Sakic, Heduk, Foote, Deadmarsh, the list goes on. Forsberg and Sakic were unstoppable and I was excited to see them raise the cup back then.

Before I would watch the Olympics and root for just U.S.A and Canada. Being from the U.S. I always wanted to see them win but seeing Canada dominate their sport was another thing to watch for. Then came Forsberg. When I first started following him, I looked into the swedish leagues and began watching and rooting for the Swedish team during the Olympics. Another fond memory that I have is watching as Forsberg helped the Swedes win an Olympic gold medal.

Another memory I had was watching the 2001 Stanley Cup finals. My dad is a big New Jersey Devils fan and that year Forsberg and the Avalanche played the Devils for the ultimate prize. I remember game seven very vividly. I was 10 years old just coming back from a field trip to an amusement park. Got home for the third period where the Avs started the period being down then came back with two quick goals to get the lead. I was thrilled not just to see my team win, and not just cause I saw Ray Bourque get his first and only stanley cup, but I got to watch The Peter the Great skate around with the cup. I would not have thought that would be the last I would see him do that.

Forsberg went on to play for the Flyers and Predators before his days in the NHL were over. He never really looked the same until last week when he was finally able to put that sweater with the A on and skate with his teammates including those who are still there from the Stanley Cup days.

A man whose career was cut a little too short due to injury made a hell of a career out of it, and was able to inspire many like myself. Peter The Great's moments in hockey will forever be remembered, just look up to the rafters at the Pepsi Center and you will remember those days when the high flying Swede came down the ice to score so many of his great goals.

So on the day that he will formally announce his retirement, I thank you Peter Forsberg for the memories and god speed where ever life will take you. Hopefully it is to the Broadcast booth for his home team of Colorado, or if and when Quebec gets another team Forsberg will go to coaching.