Tuesday, October 30, 2007

While I'm Gone...

Check these guys out. The 2 Man Advantage. Its the best show not on TV, if that makes any sense. It should keep you busy until I get back next week. I don't know why Versus hasn't picked up this show!! If you only have 45 seconds to spare, I highly recommend this clip. Or this one.

WILDS UPDATE: You probably don't know this, but Sidney Crosby plays the Wilds tonight. Thursday, it's the Blues and Saturday the Flamers. Let's just hope for a win. And here's to hoping the groins stay clean and healthy. Ish.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Honey, Come Over Here and Pull My Groin Again, Would Ya?

If you placed a bet before the season started that Marion Gaborik wouldn't make it 10 games without injuring his (very valuable) groin muscle, you would have been...wrong. He made it through the 10th game, but not the 11th. Oh and Pavol Demitra and Nik Backstrom have groin problems, too. Yikes! Take it easy on the old butterfly stretch, fellas (is that Wes Walz???)!

Unfortunately, that's pretty much our 3 best players. So who's groin will be next to go? Take the poll to the right. (My pick is Keith Carney. After the hip replacement during the offseason, you gotta think the groin is the next thing to go.)

WILDS UPDATE: A loss in the Sunshine State. The Wilds slogged through a 3-1 loss to the Avs. To stay it was uninspiring would be about right. Let's hope Cal Clusterfuck, er Fluttercluck, or whatever can provide a spark against the Pens on Tuesday.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Keegan's Pub: Not a hockey bar, apparently

Well, I tried to find the crappiest home-video footage of last night's shootout loss to the Oilers AND I succeeded. Enjoy! If you can even stand to watch the entire 1 minute and 5 seconds of this shitty video, you'll (kind of) see the garbage goal Alex Hemsky scored to win the game. Ish.

The shootout loss for the Wilds brings their record to, a still decent, 7-1-2. (Hey Keegan's Pub, you get that??? 7-1-2 not 7-0-1-2! I went to trivia last night and one of the questions was "What is the Wild's record in the StarTribune this morning?" Like I don't know that! The trivia guru tried to tell me the Wild record was 7-0-1-1 or some shit. Umm that's wrong - that's prelockout recordkeeping. The NHL goes by Win, Loss, & Shootout Loss. Honestly. Don't ask the question if you don't know fucking answer!)

Next Up: The Wilds travel to beautiful Denver. I guess the World Series is there or something - some team called the Red Sox is playing...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Wilds hope Edmonton fans can keep the tears to a minimum tonight

Let's just address this right off, that's not Jesus Christ. That's a picture Ryan Smyth dressed up like Jesus Christ. Why? Wait, let's back up, who the fuck is Ryan Smyth??? Good question. If you're not a hockey fan or from Canada, you don't know him. Ryan Smyth used to be an Edmonton Oiler. He was the captain. He was the heart and soul of Edmonton for many, many years. It didn't matter that he was ugly and goofy in that backwoods sorta way, (or that he had a lot of cold sores on his face). The Oilers fans loved him.

Well, Oilers fans were reminded that hockey is a business when the Oilers traded him hours before the trade deadline expired, last season. (Maybe they forgot about Wayne Gretzky leaving for LA, I don't know.) You could hear the cries of pain and sorrow from Dallas to Nashville (ok, not really since those cities could give a shit about Ryan Smyth, but you get the idea). Anyway, Smyth finished the season playing for the Islanders and the Oilers languished and generally sucked for the remainder of the year. After the season, Smyth, a free agent, signed a contract with the Colorado Avalanche, who happen to be in the same division as the Oilers. Basically, it was high drama and one big cosmic mindfuck on Oilers fans who, coincidentally, will see a lot more of Ryan Smyth now that he plays for the Avs.

What's the point? Well, Oilers fans are still crying about losing Ryan Smyth. He recently made his first appearance in Edmonton since being traded and it opened up all sorts of old, rotting wounds. Apparently, he's some kind of big deal up there still. They call him "Captain Canada" or something. They superimpose his face on our Lord and Savior (also, they do bad charcoal sketches). They even write sonnets about him. Here's an excerpt:

"Baptismal fonts flow with oil refined,
And so, with oil, is Smyth's rebirth entwined."

--From Sonnet #94 (That's Smyth's number. Clever, eh?)

To tell you the truth, it's all a little embarrassing. I mean, I don't remember getting all emotional when the Wild traded away Pascal Dupuis or Manny Fernandez or worse, Todd White. I mean honestly Oilers fans have some self-respect. This is hockey. Toughen up. Are you really going to cry about it every time Ryan Smyth shows up to play some ice hockey??? (More importantly, is Ryan Smyth going to cry about it every time he shows up to play some ice hockey? Jeezus.)

Anyway, the Wilds play the Oilers tonight. Hopefully, everyone in Edmonton can keep it together. Go to Battle of Alberta to see for yourself just how much Edmonton misses Ryan Smyth.

WILDS UPDATE: Holy crap. The buzzsaw that was the Calgary Flames last night. Jeez. I turned on the game and we had a comfortable 3 goal lead in the second. Final score, 5-3 Flames. Ish. Jerome Iginla. I kill you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wilds Roll Call: Bienvenue Eric Belanger!

A couple weeks ago, I posted about fresh-faced rookie James Sheppard, whose mommy brought his winter boots all the way from Halifax. Jimmy's had some playing time since then, but has yet to notch his first goal. Because he's just a little baby I'll cut him some slack.

One new face I haven't talked about yet is Mr. Eric Belanger. Eric is from that little known North American country, French Canadia. Or, as Wikipedia says, "a major Canadian hockey centre," whatever that means. The Wilds picked up Belanger (that's Bee-laaan-Jerr if you're from Northern Minnesota or Buh-lawn-jay if you're from French Canadia) in a trade during the offseason. He wears a visor like all other French Canadians (that's what Don Cherry says anyway and Don Cherry is a very smart man), eats poutine, wears a checkered red and black flannel woodsman shirt when he's not playing hockey, and probably dips his fries in mayo (when they're not slathered in gravy and cheese curds of course).

That said, he's a pretty awesome ice hockey player! He's got 7 points in 8 games and is a nifty plus 9. He's been the best player on the ice for the Wilds in a number of games this year and has scored some big goals (2 of them game winners). So, please. Don't tease about about the French Canadia stuff. He's just a good old-fashioned ice hockey player. Nothing more, nothing less.

(About that picture: I can't be 100% sure that's him on the right, but I really, really want it to be. In any case, I know that guy's name is Eric Belanger. I mean, how many Eric Belanger's can there be?? Unfortunately the website was written in French Canadian, so...)

WILDS REPORT: Next up, the Calgary Flamers, tonight at the Saddledome - it's amazing that place is still around. Pavol Demitra is injured, some young kid named Cal Clutterbuck (not kidding) is filling in for him, Gaborik needs to score another goal, and Boogaard needs to throw a couple punches. All this solid defense and great goaltending is getting old. Hopefully, Jacques will loosen things up a bit tonight. Check out the Battle of Alberta for all things Flaming.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Brent Burns Still Sitting in LA Penalty Box

The Wilds completed their first West Coast Road Show, going 2-0-1. They got wins against Phoenix and the Mighty Ducks and lost in a shootout against LA. Not a bad week...

Wilds Notables:

Wilds super-Finn goalie, Nik Backstrom, got worked in the shootout, getting scored on 3 straight times. Mike Russo tells us his shootout save percentage is lousy at .433. Ish.

Marion Gaborik (I challenge you to find a better picture of him!) finally scored a goal.

Brent Burns took 5 penalties against the Kings on Tuesday night. My lady-wife was shaming him from the couch, "Bad Burnsie!!! Bad, Bad, Bad!! Sit, Burnsie! No! Stay, Burnsie!!!" Jacques might have to rub his nose in it if Brent "Slobbery Frat Boy" Burns is going to learn to stay out of the box.

Speaking of staying out of the box (not that box, you pervs), the Wilds took 17 penalties in 2 games. If you're not sure, that's a lot of penalties. Luckily the penalty kill was nice!!! What wasn't nice?? The powerplay was really not nice. In fact, the Wilds powerplay is ranked 29th out of 30 teams. The Wilds have a paltry 4.5% conversion rate on the powerplay. Who's ahead of us? Atlanta with a blistering 7.7%. Yes, I'm talking about the Thrashers, the team without a win and who just fired their coach. So guys, how 'bout getting the powerplay together?? Jeezus.

(Sidenote: At one point during the broadcast on Tuesday, color commentator Mike Greenlay actually said: "They really need to get their PP going." Read that aloud to yourself a couple times.)

Finally, word on the street is that Jacques, miffed about all the penalties, is showing the above video in team meetings this week. If I'm not mistaken, this is the instructional video NHL Chief Doosh, Bettman, put out for the refs a couple years ago. That, or it's Brent "Slobbery Frat Boy" Burns playing with his toys again. You decide.

Friday, October 12, 2007

James Sheppard's Winter Boots

Ahh, to be 19-year old Wilds rookie and rising star, James Sheppard. You just got a $85,000 check for signing your first NHL contract. (Oh and by the way, your first NHL contract is worth $2.29 million over 3 years.) You just played in your first NHL game. You didn't fall down coming out onto the ice. You didn't suck and you didn't get your ass kicked. In fact, you played pretty well. Life is GOOD.

But wait it gets better. Your mom flew to Minnesota all the way from Halifax, Nova Scotia (which is closer to Greenland than to St. Paul - I mean, probably) to watch your first NHL game. And because she's your mom, she packed up all the stuff you left in Nova Scotia because you were pretty sure you wouldn't make the team this year. She even packed your winter boots for you. In Mike Russo's StarTribune article, Mrs. Sheppard says:

"Try packing size-15 winter boots; it's quite the challenge."

This is why hockey is great. James Sheppard is making loads of money for a 19-year old kid. He could buy lots of stuff, including new winter boots. But, no. His mom insisted on bringing the winter boots. I can just hear it:

James Sheppard: Mom, I told you, you don't need to bring my winter boots. I can buy new ones!

James Sheppard's Mom: No, James. You're not going to waste your money on new winter boots when your old boots are perfectly fine!!

James Sheppard: But Mom, Keith Carney is going to --

James Sheppard's Mom: James, I won't hear another word about it! I'm bringing your winter boots.

In what other sport does this happen?

On another note, why does he even need winter boots? He's just going to be walking from the St. Paul Hotel to the Xcel or from the charter plane to the charter bus to the nice, downtown team hotel. Right? But that's why hockey's great. These guys (and their moms, apparently) never shake their blue collar, utilitarian, practical upbringing. I guess that's what happens when you grow up in Halifax or say, Regina. Seriously, say it: Regina. Ahahaahaha.

WILDS UPDATE: The Wilds are taking a West Coast roadtrip. Phoenix on Saturday. Mighty Ducks on Sunday (watch out Brad May - Bounty's on your head this time, D-bag). Kings on Tuesday. The big question: Will Marion Gaborik score a goal this season?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Little PMB, you better have a good explanation for this...

2003-04 NHL Minnesota Wild Pierre-Marc Bouchard jerseyAs my lady-wife and I watched Adam Foote blast a slapshot over Nick Backstrom's glove in last Saturday's Wilds game, she turned to me and asked, "How do hockey players pick their numbers?" Being an asute sports fan, she knows that in sports like football the numbers players can wear are dictated by the position they play. (For example, offensive and defensive lineman have to wear big numbers like 66 and 98 because it makes them look less fat. Think how ridiculous those 300 pounders would look in, say, number 5? They'd just look extra fat.) Hockey's not lame like that, so players can wear any number they choose.

I told her that, in hockey, number selection all depends on the situation. In my usual longwinded, know-it-all fashion I explained, "For instance, Gretzky wore 99 because his favorite number, 9, was taken when he started out in Juniors. Same with Ray Bourque. He gave up his fav number 7 to Phil Esposito and switched to 77. Some players have better reasons than others. Jaromir Jagr wears number 68 - in honor of the year 1968 when a bunch of political stuff happened in Czechland and the year of his grandfather's death. Others choose the year of their birth, like Sid Crosby number 87. Then you also have guys like Rick Nash who reverse their number. His fav number was 16, but it also was taken in Juniors. So he decided on 61, the number he wears today. See." (I pointed at Nash skating by.)

Without missing a beat, my lady-wife turned to me and said, "So Pierre Marc-Bouchard's favorite number is 69?" (She pointed at Little PMB skating by.)

I swear that is a true story.

Sidenote: Seriously, is "69" Little PMB's favorite number?? God, I hope so.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Glory that is Pierre Marc-Bouchard

You probably remember how Little PMB got the shaft in last year's Lady Byng Trophy voting. You don't remember that? Weird. (Click here for a Casual Hockey refresher on the Lady Byng Trophy.) He came in 5th place behind Pavol Datsyuk, Martin St. Louis, Joe Sakic, and Jay Pandolfo. I just don't believe that Little PMB is less of a pussy than those guys. I mean just look at that adolescent face! Just a little baby!

In any case, it will thrill you all to know that, after 2 games, Little PMB is on pace for an astonishing 82 goals this season!!! Amazing! Wait, there's more. Little PMB already has 4 penalty minutes. That ties him for 3rd most on the team and only 3 PIMs fewer than Mr. Boogaard! Little PMB had only 14 penalty minutes in all of last season!! He's turning into a goddamn goon out there. Pretty soon, it's going to be Mr. Boogaard and his deputy, Little PMB, patrolling the ice. The rest of the NHL best be prepared! Little PMB probably isn't going to take your shit anymore, Chris Pronger.

Sidenote: By my calculations, Gaborik is on pace for umm...0 goals this season. So let's hope he turns it around real quick.

The Wilds Update: Strong start for Minnesota's favorite NHL team. The Wilds started the season with an amazingly dull 1-0 win against the Blackhawks. Although Boogaard did have a tough scrap with Hawks' goon, David Koci. Then the Wilds followed up with a nice win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-2. (I have to say, Sergei Federov looked awfully old. Aahhh, the good old days...) Next up: The Oilers. Wednesday.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Wild Stanley Cup Parade Scheduled for June 14, 2008!

That's right peoples. Prepare for a Mardi Gras-like celebration when the Wilds drive the Stanely Cup down Nicollet Mall next June. It's gonna be crazy! The Wilds take the first step toward Stanley Cup immortality with the season-opener against the Blackhawks tonight.

In lieu of a season preview from Casual Hockey, here's what the "experts" and bloggers are saying about this year's Minnesota Wilds.

John Buccigross of ESPN says:
"The Wild are on the cusp of Stanley Cup success. They continue to build brick by brick. We'll have to see if those bricks help the Wild get better or stay the same."

"If the blueliners as a whole can improve their contribution to the offence, the Wild should be in better shape. Backstrom is this year's version of Montreal's Cristobal Huet - he was spectacular with half a season under his belt, and all eyes will be on him to carry a full load this season."
Rank: 4th in the West

Note: Who is Cristobal Huet?

James Mirtle (reporter for the Toronto Globe & Mail) says:
"Minnesota also has its youngsters all about to breakout, as their drafting in the early years is just about to pay off with players like Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Mikko Koivu and Brent Burns (who was incredible in preseason). Gaborik easily breaks the 100-point barrier with a healthy season."
Rank: 3rd in the West

"The Wild aren't that cute. They aren't freaks or anything, but not the kinds of dudes who are going to give you the vapors. We'll open with Brian Rolston, who seems to be the closest the Wild have to an older heartthrob. Now, I have no idea why Brian Rolston chooses to have his chin look like a porn star's vagina, but if you can look past that landing strip soul patch thing, he's a nice-looking man."

Rank: Unranked (as far as I can tell)

Note: Sportsquee team previews are absolutely worth reading. She has an exceptional piece on the Calgary Flames, notably Dion Phaneuf. (Seriously, read this.)

Casual Hockey says:

The Wilds win the Cup, beating the New York Rangers in 6 games. You heard it here first. (Probably.)

Reason Number 349 to Hate the Mighty Ducks

Corey Perry fights with his visor and helmet on. (Yes, this is the same Corey Perry whose ass was kicked by Brent "Slobbery Fratboy" Burns in last year's playoffs.) Watch Dallas Drake unsnap his chinstrap as Perry just punches him in the face without even thinking about taking off his helmet. Everyone knows that if you wear a visor and you fight, you take off your helmet. It's just the rule. How in the hell is Drake going to land any good punches with that fucking visor on??? This is why Don Cherry hates visors. Because the guys that wear them are generally pussies. You heard it here, Corey Perry is a doosh.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

NHL Executives...Still Sucking...

Maybe you didn't know this, but the NHL front office is full of geniuses. Let's highlight their brilliance since the lockout ended:

1. Versus - Remember the lockout, when there was no hockey for an entire year? And then, remember when the NHL told ESPN to suck it and put the games on the Versus channel so no one would watch? That didn't work out too good. On Versus, formerly the Outdoor Life Channel (OLN), programming is still dominated by duck hunters, triathletes, and Ted Nugent. And luckily, it's still on channel 174. So even if you wanted to watch hockey, you'd have to find the fucking channel in the deep, dark depths of cable TV hell. On the plus side: Versus did catch Snoop Dog at a playoff game last year.

Result? Possibly the worst decision of any major sports league. Ever. Word on the street is the NHL is crawling back to ESPN.

2. Schedule - In another brilliant post-lockout move, the NHL decided everyone would be better off if teams play half their games against divisional opponents and only 10 games against teams in the other conference. The idea was that increasing the number games against divisional opponents would create rivalries or something. Well, that was a terrible idea because mostly it just looked like the teams grew tired of seeing each other out there. I actually heard some kid whine to his dad, "But daddy, I don't want to watch the Oilers again!"

Result? Bettman and the rest of the owners decided that was a pretty bad idea and changed back to the old schedule.

3. New Jerseys - During last year's all-star weekend (which included musical groups Robert Randolph & the Family Band, The Wreckers, and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. I'm serious.) the NHL and Reebok unveiled fancy new jerseys that are supposed to make the players lighter and faster and better or something. By the way, isn't that the same marketing campaign as the Reebok Pump sneaker? Instead, they sure came up with some ugly jerseys for this season. Check them all out here.

Result? The jerseys are ripping during fights. Derek Boogaard is kind of pissed about it too, because they enable him to actually kill people (which could possibly warrant a suspension longer than 5 games). You know, instead of just collapsing people's skulls, like what happened to Todd Fedoruk - (this is from Wiki: "Fedoruk...had titanium plates permanently embedded into his face" after fighting Boogaard). As Boogaard eloquently said:
"Oh well. If somebody gets hurt, it's Reebok's fault. They're the ones that told us it wasn't going to rip."
You hear that Gary? Boogaard doesn't care if he kills people. It's Reebok's fault.

4. Season Opener in London - No, not London, Ontario. London, England. I still don't understand this from a marketing standpoint. Why do this? In England?? I have so many questions about this I almost can't handle it.

Result? I'm not talking about it anymore. Fuck.

Like I said, NHL fans are truly lucky to have such great stewards of the game. But honestly, you look back at some of these decisions and it makes you wonder who the hell is steering this ship.

In other news, the Wilds start the season on Thursday and my wife is really looking forward to seeing Burns and Rolston on the ice together. What a perv.