Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Playoff recap, Day 40

Game one of the Stanley Cup Final is in the books, and it was Detroit getting the right bounces and going up 1-0.
Here’s the recap:

(Red Wings 3, Penguins 1)

The one goal that stands out for me from last year’s Final was the one that Marc Andre Fleury knocked in with his butt – and it happened again in game one of the rematch. 

Brad Stuart fired a shot in from the point, it took a funny bounce off the boards and went in off Fleury’s backside to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead.

Ruslan Fedotenko jumped on the end of a unfortunate bumble by Chris Osgood to tie the game late in the first, but another fortuitous bounce put the Wings up in the last minute of the second. 

Once again, a game of ‘follow the bouncing puck’ resulted in Detroit’s third goal, the one that put it away.

A couple of rookies connected when Justin Abdelkader took a pass from Ville Leino and took a quick shot; the puck bounced high up in the air, Abdelkader gloved it down and whacked it into the top corner while everyone else just stood there watching.

The Penguins out shot the Red Wings 32-30 and had moments of sustained pressure, but Detroit was better in the face off circle and won a lot of the one-on-one battles.

Game two will be huge – it’ll either be 2-0 or 1-1 heading to Pittsburgh. I certainly hope it’s the first!

Tonight:

*Pittsburgh @ Detroit – 6pm

Friday, May 29, 2009

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Drugs, Guns and Hats

I’ll admit I’ve been pretty preoccupied with the Stanley Cup playoffs these last two months. I feel like I’ve been kind of neglecting every other sport recently, but it’s not my fault. Playoff hockey has me hooked!

Things are starting to wind down though with the Stanley Cup Final underway (Lets Go Red Wings!!!!!), so I’ve had some time to check out what else is going on in sports. And here it is:

Good News for Big Papi

With Manny Ramirez on the sidelines until July and the Toronto Blue Jays suddenly waking up from the best dream of their lives, baseball is getting a bit boring again.

To make matters worse, if you’re a David Ortiz fan (which I am), there is even less to cheer about.

The man who hit 54 homers just three seasons ago has put just ONE over the bleachers in over 40 games so far this season (and it was against the Jays, to boot!).

But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Onion Sports Network is reporting that the MLB has adjusted its drug policy to let Big Papi take steroids, for the good of the game.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig was quoted as saying “Baseball is pretty boring when [Ortiz] is not hitting home runs,” adding that under the new rules, he could be suspended for 50 games if drug tests show he is not taking any previously banned substances.

“The game of baseball needs him to do the responsible thing and superhumanly whack balls over the fence whenever possible,” Selig said.

Oh, bummer. Someone just informed me that the Onion is a parody website. Quick, somebody tell David Ortiz!!!!!

Burress Going to Miami?

Plaxico “Cheddar Bob” Burress will be in court next month facing serious jail time, but he’s still thinking football.

Burress could be eating prison food for over three years for that whole shot himself with his unlicensed gun fiasco from a while back, but he told the Miami Herald recently that he would love to join the Dolphins.

If it was between jail and pro football, I’m pretty sure Burress would love to join the Detroit Lions if it came down to it.

The former New York Giants star has a house in Miami and spends his off-seasons there, but I know the real reason he wants to play for the Dolphins:

Florida is where his gun was registered before it expired and he’s still not a very good shot. So his thinking is, if he shoots himself by accident again, at least he’ll be in the right state!

Leo is a Man of Many Hats

When he’s not starring in blockbuster movies, Leonardo “Jack Nicholson Jr.” DiCaprio can usually be found watching the LA Lakers from his courtside seats at the Staples Center or some other NBA arena.

Recently, the National Post noticed something interesting about the Titanic star – he seems to be making up for not attending college by pretending he went to every college!

It seems Leo is a man of many hats – and is never seen wearing the same one.

Oh yeah, the reason he didn’t go to college was because he was too busy playing the role of Jack Dawson in the dreams of girls around the entire world and making millions of dollars.

Excuses, excuses.


Smack a Penguin!

This is for the Red Wings fans among us:

Ever feel like Smackin’ a Penguin? I certainly do. Luckily, the Detroit Free Press has made that dream a reality!

***UPDATE***

Not to be outdone, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has posted a game of it's own opponent-bashing game ahead of game one of the Stanley Cup Final.

It's called "Two-Face Takedown" - the point of the game is to punch out "Detroit's No. 81" (which is former Penguin Marian Hossa).
Let Kerrzy read it to you here:








Kerrzy’s Notebook: OT for MLS?

If I was a gambling man, I’d put money on Major League Soccer “Americanizing” the beautiful game very soon.

My Dad, a born and bred Scot, always asks me, “Why do North Americans hate ties so much?”

There are no ties in baseball, basketball, there are rarely ties in football, and hockey has just recently become the latest North American sport to get rid of them.

On this side of the pond, they’ve tried all kinds of things to try and “sell” the game of soccer to an offence-driven culture that wants goals, and lots of them.

Does anyone remember professional indoor soccer, with basketball-style three-pointers and really high scores?

Anyways, to my point: I have a feeling that somewhere at MLS headquarters, someone is devising a plan to alter the league rules to somehow eliminate ties.

Why, you ask? They’ve played one-third of the 2009 season and about 41 per cent of the games have ended without a winner!

That’s up almost 14 per cent from last season, and way above the number of ties that some of Europe’s top-flight leagues average in a season.

It’s so bad that only four of the league’s 15 clubs have more wins than draws. IT’S AN EPIDEMIC!!!!!

Why do us North Americans despise the tie so much, though? What is it about a winner not being declared that gets us riled up to the point that basically all of the main sports we play have outlawed the tie? Who knows!

What'll it be for Major League Soccer…overtime? Shootout? Skills competition where the fans text in their vote?

Or, a tie?
Let Kerrzy read it to you here:






Kerrzy’s Notebook: Someone You Can Look Up To

In the spirit of the NBA playoffs being down to the final four, I’m going to briefly switch my focus from hockey to basketball for this blog.

I won’t be talking about King James, Dwight Howard, Melo or Kobe though.

Instead, I bring you the story of 25-year-old Sun Mingming. The Chinese centre is definitely someone that just about everybody around him looks up to…they’ve got no choice, he’s 7-foot-9!

The Chinese centre is so tall that he basically has to go on his tippy-toes to dunk the ball! Forget his fellow Chinese baller Yao Ming – I want the double Ming on my team!

Is this guy the next big thing (literally) to come out of China and into the NBA?

Maybe. Sun had a tryout with the LA Lakers back in 2005, but was let go because he wasn’t aggressive enough and didn’t have the stamina to compete at that high level.

Later that summer though, it was discovered that he had a benign brain tumor pressing against his pituitary gland – causing an overproduction of growth hormone, which caused unstoppable growth to parts of his body.

It was also preventing the proper production of testosterone, which meant decreased stamina and endurance.
The tumour was successfully removed later that year, and since then Sun has been rackin’ up lots of Air Miles playing in leagues all over the place.

Since 2005, he has played in the United States Basketball League, the American Basketball Association, the International Basketball League (where the Edmonton Energy play), Mexico’s pro league and in Japan.

If Sun Mingming finds himself pulling on an NBA jersey in the future, they’ll probably have to special order his uniform as he’ll be the tallest player in the history of the league!

Seriously, guys that are huge by regular human standards look tiny next to this guy. Could anyone even cover him?!

Oh, and if you’re thinking “Gosh, I know I’ve seen him somewhere before...but it wasn’t on the court,” that’s because he made his Hollywood debut in Rush Hour 3!



Let Kerrzy read it to you here:






Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Stanley Cup Final preview

On Saturday night, the Detroit Red Wings play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins, both teams just four wins away from lifting the Holy Grail of Hockey.

The defending Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings are trying to become the first team to successfully defend their title since…they did it back in 1998.

For Sidney Crosby and the Penguins, they’re looking to avenge last year’s loss and win the first of (they hope) many Cups. This year is the first time since 1984 that we’ve seen two teams meet up in the Final two straight seasons.

Back then, it was the upstart Edmonton Oilers and the veteran Islanders. In the second meeting, the Oil stopped New York’s streak of four straight Stanley Cups, winning their first as a franchise – and first of four in the next five years.

A lot of comparisons are being drawn between this series and that series…but really, beyond the similar storyline there’s not much in it.

Detroit’s superstars haven’t put up numbers like Pittsburgh’s have, but this is a whole new series. The good news for the Wings is that they should have Nick Lidstrom back in the lineup to counter the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

The Penguins have a relentless attack, averaging over 30 shots a game while allowing about 28…but so do the Red Wings, with almost identical statistics.
Both teams average over 3.5 goals per game (3.82 to 3.69 for Pittsburgh), the Pens tend to allow slightly more goals against (2.12 for Detroit, 2.76 for the Pens).

When it comes to special teams, the Wings power play has an edge (by 6.4%), but on the penalty kill the Penguins have almost a 10% advantage.

Basically what I’m saying is, it’s going to be a tight series that’ll probably come down to execution on special teams.

A lot is being made about the Penguins being the young upstart team, but I don't see it being much of a factor. The average age on their active roster is about 28 years, compared to 30.5 for the Red Wings (though it’s under 30 without Chris Chelios’ 47 years!).

For the superstitious types: Sidney Crosby and company touched the Prince of Wales trophy; Henrik Zetterberg didn't touch the Clarence S. Campbel bowl.

One other question that will be answered is: Did Marian Hossa make the right choice?

Hossa was with the Penguins last season but decided to make the jump to the Champions in the offseason. I'm sure theres a little bit of bad blood that'll come to a boil once this series gets underway!

The Stanley Cup Final begins on Saturday night at 6pm in Detroit!

MY PREDICTION: Wings in 6

Let Kerrzy read it to you here:






Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Playoff recap, Day 39

First there were sixteen, and with the end of the Western Conference Final there are now just two teams that remain. Don't adjust your web browser, it's not a re-run - it's a re-match.

Here's the recap:

(Red Wings 2, Blackhawks 1 - 1OT)

Goaltending was the story in game five of the West Final between Detroit and Chicago...or rather, between Chris Osgood and Cristobal Huet.

Shots were 31-20 for the Red Wings through 40 minutes and 46-31 by the end of the game - and there were plenty of spectacular saves at both ends of the ice. Cristobal Huet, who was forced into action when Nikolai Khabibulin went down with an injury, was impressive putting up a 44-save performance which included a desperation save on Johan Franzen in the closing seconds of regulation.

For Chris Osgood, the redemption song continues after a sub-par regular season. With his 30 saves and 12th win of these playoffs, Osgood moves into a tie with legendary netminder Jacques Plante for eighth on the all-time playoff wins list with 71.

Once again, it was the role players coming up big for the Red Wings who were still playing without Nick Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk (and were also missing rookie standout Jonathan Ericsson).

Dan Cleary tipped home a Brett Lebda point shot about six minutes into the third period to open the scoring, his eighth goal of the playoffs. That's pretty impressive considering he only scored 14 times in 74 regular season games.

Patrick Kane picked a good time to open his account for the series, scoring about seven minutes later to tie things up. It was a highlight in what was otherwise a pretty bad series for the young Chicago forward, who finished a minus-six in five games with just two points.

Now, when it comes to the overtime period...it seems like most overtimes are decided early on, so it's all about who gets the best start. In the last OT between these two clubs, it was Chicago getting the quick start; on Wednesday night, it was all Detroit.

Obviously I was happy to see the Red Wings prevail, but I was so happy to see former Medicine Hat Tiger Darren Helm stuff home the winner, because he is quickly becoming one of my favorite players.

He's got skill, but he plays a hard-nosed style of hockey, he never stops skating and he's turning into an exceptional penalty-killer...and he's just 22!

Still not sold on Helm? Here's an example of him DOMINATING on the penalty-kill:



The funny thing about Helm is that he's one of a select group of players to score four goals in the playoffs, before scoring a single goal in the regular season. He's now got five career playoff goals in 34 games and zero goals in 23 regular season games.

Just like in the 1995 Western Final between these two clubs, three games went to overtime, including the 2-1 OT-win in game five that sends the Wings to the Stanley Cup Final. How's that for a quirky fact?

Here's another one: The upcoming series between the Red Wings and the Penguins marks the first time since the 1984 series between the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders that the same two teams have met in consecutive finals.

And for those of you keeping track: Henrik Zetterberg accepted the Clarence S. Campbell bowl, but did not touch it.

The Stanley Cup Finals begin on Saturday night at 6pm. Check back soon for a preview of the series.

Let Kerrzy read it to you:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Playoff recap, Day 38/Oilers Make the Right Move

Well, we're now halfway to a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup final after Pittsburgh's game four win over the Carolina Hurricanes. I knew I shouldn't have picked them to advance...

Here's the recap:

(Penguins 4, Hurricanes 1)

The way this one started, it looked like the 'Canes might have some gas left in the tank...but it didn't last.

The Penguins looked like the better team from start to finish in this game, and the Hurricanes always looked like they were just on the verge of being that team that upset two of the Eastern Conference's best teams in the opening rounds.

Were the Penguins just that much better than the 'Canes? Was the wear and tear of two seven-game series just too much for Carolina? Perhaps a bit of both.

Besides the obvious players like Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby (in that order), I think Ruslan Fedotenko was one of the most important players for the Penguins in this series. Also, I bet Ray Shero will be begging Bill Guerin to come back after watching the gritty winger play with Crosby.

So, for the second straight season, the Pittsburgh Penguins were presented with the Prince of Wales trophy as Eastern Conference champion. I noticed something interesting during the presentation of the trophy this year, as opposed to last...

Hockey superstition dictates that you don't touch that trophy when it's presented to you, because it's bad luck.

After the Pens beat the Flyers in the 2008 Conference Final, Sidney Crosby went along with this thinking and didn't touch the trophy...and his Penguins lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Red Wings.

This year, Crosby got his mitts all over the hardware, even sharing it around with Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin.

Will it work? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Tonight:

*Chicago @ Detroit - 5:30pm (Series: 3-1 DET)


Oilers hire Quinn, Renney

It wouldn't be right of me to not throw in my two cents about the latest news out of the Edmonton Oilers camp.

What a move by the Oil snagging Pat Quinn and Tom Renney in one fell swoop. Isn't it about time that the team brought in someone new to the franchise to have a go at turning this ship around?

I think so.

You've got to be excited that they managed to bring in not only Quinn, who ranks fifth on the all-time wins list for coaches with 657, but another guy in Tom Renney who would easily be short-listed for any head coaching vacancy in the league.

That's a solid move. Will it work out? There are so many variables in play when you ask a question like that. I think it's definitely the best move they could have hoped for in this current situation.

Quinn is in the twilight of his career and is coming back to the place where he won a Memorial Cup in junior with the Oil Kings (1962-63). Renney is an experienced coach who is coming home in a way too - he started his coaching career in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers and has coached in the Western Conference before with the Vancouver Canucks.

I'll be honest, as soon as the Oilers fired Craig MacTavish, I was hoping that they would bring in Pat Quinn. Needless to say, I'm pumped to see how he does!

Let Kerrzy read it to you:







Monday, May 25, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Make it Seven!

What's going on with the Toronto Blue Jays?!

They led the entire MLB in most offensive categories early in the season, led the American League East after about 40 games and had us all thinking 'the Blue Jays are back!'

The Jays were playing so well that people are thinking about the playoffs for the first time in a while. TSN.ca has a section dedicated to which team was better: the 1992 or 1993 edition of the World Series champion Blue Jays?

But Memorial Day in the US marked Toronto's seventh straight loss, the latest coming against the third-worst team in the American League and the bottom team in the AL-East. They've slipped down third place and are averaging about 1.5 runs per game during this current losing skid.

That's a far cry from the Toronto team that was averaging about six runs a game in April - in the same number of games so far in May, they've crossed home plate about 40 fewer times.

They've actually given up 16 fewer runs this month than last...which means what it comes down to is, they're just not hittin' the ball!

Maybe it's time to try voodoo, like Pedro Cerrano in the "Major League" movies!



One more thing: I noticed an unfortunately placed advertisement during the Jays 4-1 loss to the Orioles on Monday. During a break in play late in the game that wound up being Toronto's seventh straight loss, there was an ad on the screen for "MakeitSeven.ca."

Oh, they made it seven alright, but lets hope it stops there!

Let Kerrzy read it to you here:







Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Playoff recap, Day 37

After this weekend’s action in the Stanley Cup playoffs, we’re just a win in each Conference Final away from a rematch of last year’s championship series…

Here’s the recap:

(Red Wings 6, Blackhawks 1)

Coming off an emotional overtime win to get back into the West Final, things were looking good for the Chicago Blackhawks. That is, until Marian Hossa arrived to the rink.

Marty Havlat was back in the lineup despite getting knocked into the Middle Ages by Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall in game three, and to make things even sweeter - Detroit was without captain Nick Lidstrom and Pavel Datsyuk.

If anything it seemed that just got the Red Wings going though, especially a guy named Marian Hossa.

He scored a shorthanded goal near the midway point of the first, assisted on Valtteri Filppula’s first of the playoffs early in the second and then sealed the deal with a goal 12 seconds after Chicago made it 3-1.

Hossa is proving to be one of the most lethal game four players in this year’s playoffs – he’s now got eight points (6g, 2a) when it comes to the fourth game of a series.

It’s been an interesting series between the pipes too – in game three, Cristobal Huet came in for Nikolai Khabibulin after two periods (and Corey Crawford had to dress and rush to the bench to fill in as backup)…

In game four, Huet was replaced by Crawford and then came back into the game about sixteen minutes later. At the other end of the ice, Chris Osgood left the game after two periods (he was dehydrated), was replaced by Ty Conklin, and third-string goalie Jimmy Howard had to quickly dress as the backup.

Strange. 

Wings lead the series 3-1. Game five goes Wednesday in Detroit.

EARLIER THIS WEEKEND:

(Penguins 6, Hurricanes 2)

Looks like the “Cardiac ‘Canes” have flat-lined.

A lot of that has to do with the quick-strike offence of the Pittsburgh Penguins, led by a guy named Evgeni Malkin.

Malkin scored twice on Saturday, following up a three-goal performance in game two. He’s now got nine points in the East Final and SIXTEEN points in his last six games. That’s impressive stuff right there.

Combine that with Sidney Crosby’s steady play and Marc-Andre Fleury’s solid goaltending and you’ve got a dangerous mix.

The undoing of the Carolina Hurricanes in this series has been allowing the Penguins to bury them with quick goals. A lot of coaches will tell you the most important shifts of a game are immediately after you’ve been scored on.

The effort just hasn’t been good enough for the ‘Canes in this series. They’ve looked good, but not for a full sixty minutes. The Penguins haven’t really had to be great, but they’ve been pretty darn good anyways.

Game four goes on Tuesday from Raleigh, North Carolina.

One more thing:

Congratulations to the Windsor Spitfires, who won the 2009 Memorial Cup with a 4-1 win over the Kelowna Rockets on Sunday!

Not to brag or anything, but in my Memorial Cup preview blog entry, I called a Windsor/Kelowna final with the Spitfires takin' home the hardware. Just sayin...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Playoff recap, Day 35

The Chicago Blackhawks had to be 'Sharp' in game three of the NHL's Western Conference final with the Detroit Red Wings looking to go up three games to none, and it came down to another overtime session.

Here's the recap:

(Blackhawks 4, Red Wings 3 - 1OT)

Before you could spell "Nikolai Khabibulin," overtime was over and the Chicago Blackhawks had pulled out the 4-3 win, which takes the focus off of the fact that they blew a 3-0 lead in the second period.

The main talking point of this game comes down to the guys wearing the stripy shirts, though. Thirteen minutes into the first period Niklas Kronwall absolutely levelled Chicago's Marty Havlat along the boards as the Blackhawks were breaking out of their zone, knocking him out cold.

The puck was in Havlat's skates, Kronwall led with his shoulder and didn't leave his feet, and - most importantly - neither of the two referees raised their arms to signal an upcoming penalty.

When Havlat stayed down, all of a sudden there was a five minute major and a game misconduct for "interference" on the board and Kronwall was headed to the dressing room. WHAT?!

You never want to see a guy get hurt, especially a beauty like Havlat, but there was nothing wrong with that hit. Some will say that he didn't have control of the puck, therefore it's interference...okay, so give him a two minute minor.

The thing is, neither of the officials called a minor penalty when it happened, so they obviously didn't see it that way. You be the judge:


If Kronwall on Havlat is interference, shouldn't Dustin Byfuglien get an interference penalty too? The puck wasn't there was he retaliated by throwing a hit of his own.

Either way, here's what Red Wings coach Mike Babcock had to say:

"(Kronwall) didn't leave his feet, he did it on the follow through, he just finished the check. He hit (Havlat) fair and square.

There was a play in the game where the puck rims around the wall, our D doesn't tough it at all, (Ben) Eager runs him, totally. No penalty whatsoever.

It's a reaction to what happened, it takes one of your good players out of the game right off the hop. In my opinion it was absolutely the wrong call."

It's true - that type of play happens all the time. What are you supposed to do? The puck is right there and it's a contact sport.

If Kronwall came out of nowhere and blind-sided Havlat, it would be different, but replays showed him looking up twice in the seconds before the hit.

Here are the positives that both teams can take from Friday night's game:

-For Chicago, they were able to win despite blowing a three-goal lead and back-up goalie Cristobal Huet looked pretty sharp in his first period of work in these playoffs.

-For the Wings, they were strong on the penalty kill, holding the Blackhawks to one power-play goal in four opportunities...which included an unsuccessful five-minute man advantage.

Game four goes Sunday afternoon from Chicago.

Tonight:
*Pittsburgh @ Carolina - 5:30pm (Series: 2-0 PIT)

Let Kerrzy read it to you here:





Friday, May 22, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Shakin' the Magic 8-ball

I know that Colin Campbell has a tough job.

I’m not here to say that he doesn’t. As the Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations for the NHL, he has the task of deciding what warrants a suspension and what doesn’t.

Like I said, I know that’s a tough job and I don’t think I’d want to do it. But I just wish Campbell could at least make it look like he isn’t just shaking a “Magic 8-ball” for every decision.

What do I mean? Well, I’m glad you asked!

With the help of YouTube, I’ve compiled a ton of examples of suspensions vs. non-suspensions from this year’s playoffs to give you my perspective on the issue.


We’ll start with the most recent bit of controversy around the league: the knee-on-knee hit.

There was outrage when Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin (he says, accidentally) went knee-on-knee with Pittsburgh’s Sergei Gonchar, causing the Pens top blue liner to miss the next game.



Ovechkin wasn’t suspended, and Pens players and fans alike cried foul. One Pittsburgh forward said after the game “If I did what he did, I wouldn’t be on the ice.”

Oh really, Penguins forward Matt Cooke? Carolina Hurricanes forward Erik Cole was forced to leave game one of the Eastern Final after a knee-on-knee collision with…who else, but Matt Cooke!



No suspension there either – though both victims of the hits left the game with injuries. At least Alex Ovechkin got a penalty on the play!


From knees, we move on to cheap shots!

Now, I’m going to show you four video clips, and I want you to guess which one resulted in a suspension. Ready? Here we go!

A) Dan Carcillo on Max Talbot:



B) Mike Cammalleri on Marty Havlat:



C) Scott Walker on Aaron Ward:



D) Scott Niedermayer on Pavel Datsyuk:



Before you make your decision, here are some other facts about each play:

-The Dan Carcillo incident happened late in a 4-1 loss to the Penguins.
-It was tied in the third period when Mike Cammalleri clocked Marty Havlat.
-The Scott Walker sucker-punch came when the score was 4-0 Boston.
-The Scott Niedermayer elbow was thrown after his team’s 2-1 win.

ALRIGHT – so class, which of those clips warrants a suspension? If you answered A) Dan Carcillo on Max Talbot, you’re unfortunately right!

Even though the Cammalleri punch was basically the exact same thing, even though Niedermayer tried to take an unsuspecting Datsyuk’s head clean off and even though Walkers instigator penalty in the last five minutes of a game is supposed to be an automatic suspension – only Dan Carcillo felt the wrath of Colin Campbell.

In fact, his team was fined as well for the incident. See my point about the Magic 8-ball? It HAD to be in play when these decisions were made.


Onto our next category, cross checks!

Heres an example of a clear-cut suspension and another play that was a non-call, but probably should have been at the very least a fine…

In the last five minutes of a 5-1 Boston win over Montreal in game two of the first round, Bruins forward Milan Lucic picked up a one-game suspension for a cross check to the head of Montreal’s Maxim Lapierre (who got a 10 minute misconduct on the play too).



Lucic got a one-game sit down for that blow to the head. What do you think Chris Kunitz should have gotten for this cross check to the throat with 37 seconds left in a loss?



Not only did that Kunitz throat-check go un-called, his Pittsburgh Penguins scored just moments later.


AND NOW – for the grande finale!

The NHL says it’s firmly against headshots out there on the ice, so when a player sees another player in a vulnerable position he shouldn’t try to decapitate him.

At least, that’s what they want us to think.

Despite blows to the head being outlawed in international hockey, the NHL continues to let its players get away with just about everything…unless you have a reputation, that is.

Washington Capitals tough guy Donald Brashear is the only player to get a hefty suspension so far in these playoffs – five games for a blind-side hit NY Rangers forward Blair Betts, that broke his orbital bone.



Like it or not Mr. Campbell, giving Brashear five games for that hit sets a bit of a precedent, and the people expect that you’ll follow that.

In round two, Anaheim’s Mike Brown laid out Jiri Hudler of the Detroit Red Wings with what looked like an elbow to the face, as Hudler was looking the other way after dishing the puck to a teammate.

By then, he was out of the play so there was no real benefit to Brown ‘finishing his check’ other than potentially putting Hudler (who had just taken an elbowing penalty) out of the game…



Brown got five and a game for interference, but nothing beyond that from the league. Was it a headshot? Yes. Was it a retaliatory headshot? Maybe.

Should he have been suspended at least one game for a hit very similar to the Brashear one that landed him five? I’d say so.

This last one is for you Anaheim fans who think I’m just bringing up the Brown hit because I root for the Red Wings.

Nik Kronwall busted Ryan Carter’s nose with this hit and Ducks fans cried about it because they say Kronwall left his feet…



At least Carter had the puck on his stick, not like the Hudler hit! This is a two-minute penalty at best, though.

There, are you happy Ducks fans? (Probably not, because your season is over! Burn!)


In closing…

I’d like to once again say that I know that Colin Campbell has a hard job, and I know that he can’t just go around suspending everyone...but looking at some of the stuff that’s gone on in these playoffs really makes me wonder what’s happening at head office.

The NHL has painted itself into a corner, and until they straighten out what their own rules are, it’s just going to get uglier.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Playoff recap, Day 34

On day 34 of the Stanley Cup playoffs we were reminded why the boys from Raleigh, North Carolina, have been coined the Cardiac 'Canes...and why the Pens aren't intimidated.

Here's the recap:

(Penguins 7, Hurricanes 4)

-In one of the best playoff performances of his young career, Evgeni Malkin impressed us all with three goals and a four point night as his Penguins grinded out a game two win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Malkin played so well it was like his parents were in the stands or something! Well, they were...so that explains it!

The scoreline makes it look like a romp for the home side, but it was 4-4 before number 71 took over with two goals in under four minutes during the third period.

Carolina is proving to be a worthy adversary for Malkin and his Penguins though...they just wouldn't go away on Thursday night!

Sidney Crosby opened the scoring 1:51 into the game...the Hurricanes tied it 1:16 later. The Pens went ahead on Malkin's first of the night, the 'Canes tied it 25 seconds later. The 'Canes even held a lead for about 11 minutes before Maxime Talbot blasted one past Sherwood Park's Cam Ward to even the score.

They couldn't steal one on the road though, so the Hurricanes are now down by a pair of games heading back home to the RBC Center in North Carolina.

So, is it curtains for the Cardiac 'Canes?

If they do anything BUT win both games at home, it's over. I know that's not an earth-shattering prediction, but that's just how it is. They need to even things up heading back to the Igloo, because I can't see the 'Canes - Cardiac or not - pulling a Boston and fighting back from a 3-1 series deficit.

That is, unless the Penguins implode before our very eyes. And don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind seeing that!

One more thought - do you think Sidney Crosby complained about the number of hats being thrown onto the ice when his pal Geno scored his third goal?

Tonight:

*Detroit @ Chicago - 6pm (Series: 2-0 DET)

Let Kerrzy read it to you here:






Kerrzy's Notebook: Nothing to Hide?

For the last decade or so, baseball has taken the brunt of the steroids-in-sports accusations, even when there are sports like bodybuilding and professional wrestling that sometimes showcase athletes that are so huge, there's just no way it's natural!

Perhaps this story will help shift the focus (you're welcome, baseball):

Last week's Belgian bodybuilding championships were cancelled after, get this, drug testers showed up, and all the competitors grabbed their gear and left!

Belgian drug testers have been busting bodybuilders left and right over the past few years...but instead of trying to clean up the sport, the organizers of this particular event just decided to move it across the Dutch border.

Not so fast! All it took was a bit of paperwork, and the border meant nothing.

How bad does it look for a sport when drug testers show up and the ENTIRE field of competitors runs away?

This probably has something to do with it: according to the Canadian Press, last year 22 of 29 tests were either positive or the bodybuilder refused to be tested - a whopping 75 per cent fail rate!

And you thought BASEBALL was bad!

As for hundreds of fans that showed up to take in the action, they were told to make like the bodybuilders and head out the door.


Now, we got to discussing this in the newsroom over here at iNews880, myself and Tim Calder, and we figured out a way to win a bodybuilding event without working out ONCE!


Here's what you do: show up to the event with a lab coat and a doctors bag, and as soon everyone heads for the door - hand in your entry form!


Let Kerrzy read it to you here:






Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Nuggets vs. WWE?

The Denver Nuggets are taking part in their first NBA Western Conference final since 1985, and it’ll be an especially memorable one no matter the outcome.

For one, they’re up against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in what, if game one is any indication, will be a great series. But there’s another storyline developing here too…

World Wrestling Entertainment’s Vince McMahon is ‘calling out’ Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke and challenging him to a steel-cage match. Why, you ask?

Well here’s what happened:

Kroenke and McMahon were tag-team partners earlier this year…but during a McMahon fight with Triple-H, Kroenke teamed up with the other guy and double-crossed McMahon with a chair to the back mid-match...costing him the championship belt.

Just kidding, both the Nuggets and the WWE are scheduled to hold events on Monday at the Pepsi Center in Denver – but McMahon DID actually challenge Kroenke to a steel-cage match!

The NBA will likely win this battle, but if they don’t, at least it won’t be as embarrassing as when the Pittsburgh Penguins rescheduled game five against Washington because of a Yanni concert (against league rules…seriously, the NHL has NO backbone…YANNI?!).

The WWE is trying to find somewhere else to have the event, including the Staples Center, home of the Nuggets current opponents, but they say if worst comes to worst – they’ll set up in the Pepsi Center parking lot.

Either way, the home fans could be in for a fight – you never know when Carmelo Anthony might punch someone!


Let Kerrzy read it to you here:



Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Playoff recap, Day 33

The Chicago Blackhawks were hoping for the split at 'the Joe' as the NHL's Western Conference Final continued in Detroit...and they definitley stepped things up from their game one performance.

Here's the recap:

(Red Wings 3, Blackhawks 2 - 1OT)

-How's this for secondary scoring: "Jiri Hudler to Valtteri Filppula, to Mikael Samuelsson...HE SCORES!!!!!" Not bad, and that comes after Dan Cleary scored his sixth of the playoffs and fourth in his last three games!

What a game for both sides - maybe the most entertaining game of this year's playoffs, so far. Final shots were 39-38 for Chicago...talk about a busy night for the netminders! Chicago really pushed the pace early on and again in the third period in the lead-up to the game-tying goal by Jonathan Toews, but the Red Wings pushed back and came out on top.

The 'Hawks were hoping for a better effort from their leaders, and captain Toews answered the call with both Chicago goals. Patrick Kane finished the night with three shots on goal (after being held shotless in game one), but was held off the scoresheet once again.

It all came down to a Brian Campbell giveaway in overtime that sent the Wings in on a three-on-one, with the tic-tac-toe finished off by Mikael Samuelsson, who has goals in three straight games.

The way I see it though, you can never really call a series either way until you see both teams on home ice. Friday's game three will be HUGE for both clubs, but it'll be especially important for the Blackhawks, who are now down 2-0 in the series.

Also - if you were listening to either of the first two games on 630 CHED, you'll agree that the 'He Scores!' by Ken Kal from the Red Wings Hockey Network is probably just as entertaining (and way more high-pitched) than any of the goals scored so far this series.

Thursday night:

*Carolina @ Pittsburgh - 5:30pm (Series: 1-0 PIT)

Let Kerrzy read it to you here:






Monday, May 18, 2009

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Playoff recap, Day 32

After day 32 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, both conference finals are underway and both home teams have had success.

Here’s the recap:

(Penguins 3, Hurricanes 2) 

-The Carolina Hurricanes probably did a little better than they thought they would in game one of the Eastern final.

In the first game of their round one and round two series, the ‘Canes fell 4-1...so a 3-2 loss ain’t so bad!

Just like in game seven against Washington, Marc-Andre Fleury made a few big saves early on and the Penguins wound up with the first goal(s).

In this particular case, it was a Miro Satan holding penalty that got Carolina buzzing while on the power-play. As soon as he hopped out of the box though, Satan hopped onto the end of an errant pass and masterfully deked out Cam Ward for the game’s first goal.

Not to be outdone, Evgeni Malkin scored 1:24 later after some sustained pressure by the Pens (and a few big saves by Ward).

The ‘Canes kept it close though and Eric Staal even had a golden opportunity in the last minute to tie the game at three each, but a hard pass bounced right off his stick and into the crease where it was gobbled up by Fleury.

I don’t think the “Cardiac Canes” are too concerned about going down by a game to start the series…they’ve been there before. As for Pittsburgh, they’re playing strong, disciplined hockey.

Game two should be a good one!

Earlier this weekend:

(Red Wings 5, Blackhawks 2)

-In hockey, role players are never more important than they are come playoff time.

So, when you get two goals from Dan Cleary and Mikael Samuelsson pots the game-winner, you know that your role guys are stepping up.

The Blackhawks got some contribution from their role players as well with Adam Burish opening the scoring, but they were just outplayed. The stat that stands out the most is that Chicago forward Patrick Kane, who had three goals and an assist in the previous game, was held without a shot.

Johan Franzen added to his impressive playoff stats of late, scoring for the 22nd time in his last 28 postseason games. And here’s a funny stat – four of Henrik Zetterberg’s seven goals in these playoffs have come without a goalie between the pipes!

Speaking of goalies, I’ll leave you with this: Chris Osgood picked up his 68th career playoff win on Sunday, which ties him with Andy Moog for ninth on the all-time list.

Tonight:

*Chicago @ Detroit – 5:30pm (Series: 1-0 DET)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Forbes is Stupid

Maybe in the future, writers with Forbes magazine should stick to making lists of billionaires and…whatever else they do.

Here’s why:

Any article that starts with the phrase “Wayne Gretzky is no longer the great one,” is bound to catch the eye of hockey fans anywhere.

Okay, $ports Money writer and Forbes National Editor Mike Ozanian, please tell us: Why is Wayne Gretzky no longer the great one?

In a blog post on Forbes.com last week entitled “Gretzky Stabs Bettman in the Back” Ozanian claims that over the years, Gretzky has “shafted Coyote fans with a lousy hockey team and a bloated payroll packed with cronies.”

Ozanian then implies that Wayner was the driving force behind the decision to file for bankruptcy when he writes “Gretzky, along with majority owner Jerry Moyes, dumped the Coyotes into bankruptcy court…”

Do you think this guy knows that Gretzky owns something like 1.5% of the team? I’m no economist, but I’m pretty sure the minority owner of anything doesn’t usually make all the big financial decisions.

So why did Gretz make Moyes file for the big “B,” you ask? Ozanian has the answer:

“Even worse for the league, the guy Gretzky wants to sell to is Jim Balsillie, boss of Blackberry maker Research In Motion.”

Yes, not only does Wayne Gretzky boss around the majority owner of the team…HE decides who the team is sold to.

Here are two things that Mike Ozanian should know:

1. Wayne Gretzky has thrown his support behind the Jerry Reinsdorf bid to keep the team in Arizona, not the Jim Balsillie bid to move it to Ontario.

2. Gretzky says if the team leaves Arizona, he won't be coming.

So, Mr. Ozanian, what do you make of that?

Feel free to apologize to Gretzky in any upcoming blogs…although I likely won’t ever read another of your posts.

Ahh yes, and he had one final parting shot for The Great One:

“Bettman, the NHL and hockey fans deserved a lot better from Gretzky.”

You should probably stick to making lists of billionaires and…whatever else you guys do over there at Forbes.

If, at this point, you’re ticked off enough to write a strongly-worded letter, here’s the email for the editors at Forbes: readers@forbes.com

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Desert Dogs ‘Jetting’ back to the ‘Peg?

While two battles rage on in the playoffs, but NHL is mired in a war of its own.

In the fictional 1977 Federal League season, Charlestown Chiefs goalie Denis Lemieux (Yvon Barrette) famously asked his GM, Joe McGrath, “Who own the Chiefs?” in a thick Quebec accent.

He didn’t get an answer, but by Wednesday of this week, Ilya Bryzgalov should be able to ask the same question to Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney with more success.

On Tuesday a judge will decide who owns the ‘Yotes – is it Gary Bettman and the NHL, or is it transportation magnate Jerry Moyes?

Blackberry boss Jim Balsillie, who is trying for the third time to become an NHL owner, says it really doesn’t matter who owns the team, because either way – they’re still broke.

Balsillie’s bid for the team is conditional on the franchise’s relocation to southern Ontario, but according to court papers that’s not where the NHL sees the next relocation happening.

Now, he might just be saying this to make Balsillie mad, but Gary Bettman has apparently told a lawyer that works for the Coyotes that he would prefer a move back to…Winnipeg!

The reason? Copps Coliseum in Hamilton is over 30 years old.

Hamilton city council has approved an option on a long-term lease on the rink if Balsillie managed to buy the Coyotes, and he’s vowed to make $5-million worth of upgrades, but…

What does $5-million really get you these days? Perhaps not enough.

Try not to get too excited though, Winnipeg fans, there’s a long way to go still!

Kerrzy's Notebook: Playoff recap, Day 30

The first of three game sevens in the NHL's Conference semi-finals was a bit of a bust...but on Day 30 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the other two deciding games certainly lived up to expectations.

Here's the recap:

(Red Wings 4, Ducks 3)

-In game one of this series, Nik Lidstrom scored with under a minute left to give Detroit the win...six games later, it was Dan Cleary potting the winner with three minutes left to close the book on the Anaheim Ducks.

I kid you not, about a minute before that goal, I said to my iNews880 co-anchor, Lindsey Lubkey, "I reallllllly hope the Wings score here, it would make me very happy!"

Thanks for listening boys! Who knew my voice carried like that...maybe my mic was on.

Pretty good game though for both clubs - Detroit built up a two goal lead ("the most dangerous lead in hockey"), the Ducks got one back. Detroit made it 3-1, Anaheim battled back to tie it.

The way the game was going, I was almost certain that those pesky Ducks would force overtime after Dan Cleary's go-ahead goal. Thank God they didn't!

Sure, it makes for exciting hockey...but I'd much rather see the Wings win comfortably!

Here's an interesting note: Detroit goalie Chris Osgood now sits just one win back of former Oiler Andy Moog for ninth place on the NHL's all-time playoff wins list, with 67 (in five less seasons). Atta boy Ozzy!

(Hurricanes 3, Bruins 2)

-They don't call 'em the Cardiac 'Canes for nothing! Not only did the Carolina Hurricanes bounce back to beat the Boston Bruins (pardon the alliteration), but they did so in dramatic fashion!

Ahh, game seven overtime. Does it get any better (or more nerve-racking) than that?? What a time for Scott Walker to 'punch' home (get it?) his first ever playoff goal!

I have to admit, this was an interesting series...

It looked over before it started after game one, when the Bruins dominated the scoresheet and man-handled the 'Canes big guns. But then things changed and all of a sudden Carolina was up three games to one! What happened? Did the mighty Bruins just choke???

Not so fast -- Boston turned in a pair of strong performances to tie the series up and force a game seven. They finally looked like themselves again...so it was over for Carolina right? Again...not so fast!

After game six I said in my blog that this series reminded me of the WHL final between the Kelowna Rockets and the Calgary Hitmen, because the number one seed Hitmen fell asleep for a few games and then roared back with two strong games. It reminds me EVEN MORE of that series now because Calgary couldn't complete the comeback, losing 3-2 in overtime in the deciding game. Crazy.

In honor of this being a game seven overtime decision - here are a couple of interesting facts I stumbled upon after the game:

Of the 114 playoff series that have gone to a seventh game, 29 needed overtime. And get this, since 1990 the ROAD team has a 10-4 advantage!

Conference Finals:

*Chicago vs. Detroit
*Carolina vs. Pittsburgh

Third round action gets underway on Sunday afternoon...check back Saturday for my series previews!

Let Kerrzy read it to you here:








Kerrzy's Notebook: Round Three Preview

Thirty teams began the 2008-2009 NHL season back in October with aspirations of Stanley Cup glory, sixteen made the cut after 82 regular season games...and now there are four.

The Red Wings, Blackhawks, Penguins and 'Canes have all made it to the halfway point in terms of the sixteen wins needed to lift Lord Stanley's mug...but who will move on to the Stanley Cup Final?

(2) Red Wings vs. (4) Blackhawks

-The last time Detroit played Chicago in the playoffs was the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season in the Conference Finals...the Red Wings knocked a then 33-year-old Chris Chelios and the Blackhawks out in a very tight five games.

It's fourteen years later and Chelios is now playing for Detroit at the tender age of 47 against his hometown 'Hawks...

Look forward to what will probably be an even tighter series than the '95 one, as a highly experienced Detroit side gets set to take on a young, skilled Chicago team that got past Calgary and Vancouver to get to this point.

Will the Red Wings be tired after a hard-fought seven game series with the Ducks?

If they lose, that's no doubt what people will say. The 'Hawks had a pretty rough series with Vancouver too, but I personally don't think it'll be a factor for either team. At this point in the season, the serious cup contenders won't LET that be a factor.

Chicago is led by youngsters Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, with Marty Havlat leading the team in scoring. They've got a deep roster and strong goaltending.

The Wings boast a potent offence as well though, with a couple of players that are a few favorable bounces away from really getting back on track.

No one come close to Detroit in terms of depth, which is really what won them their series with Anaheim. In net, Chris Osgood has been coming up big and his extensive playoff experience will likely be a factor.

*MY PICK: Wings in six

(4) Penguins vs. (6) Hurricanes

-There will be a sibling rivalry in action when this year's Eastern Conference Final gets underway, as Eric Staal's Carolina Hurricanes take on his brother Jordan's Pittsburgh Penguins.

In round one, I didn't see the Hurricanes getting past the Devils...but they did.

In round two, I thought there was no way the 'Canes would beat the top seeded Bruins...but they did.

Can they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins?

For Carolina to advance, Cam Ward will have to outplay Marc-Andre Fleury and Eric Staal will have to continue his strong play up to this point and provide most of the offence. Ward has already outplayed Martin Brodeur and Vezina trophy nominee Tim Thomas, so it's not out of the question; as for Staal, he doesn't have to deal with Zdeno Chara anymore, so WATCH OUT!

On the other side of things, Pittsburgh is a strong, experienced team with a very high-powered offence, a sturdy defensive core and a very strong goalie...and (maybe most importantly), they're just one year removed from a trip to the Finals.

Sidney Crosby is red-hot right now, Evgeni Malkin is always dangerous and lately, the Pens have been getting goals from their secondary scorers...which is a recipe for success.

As a team, they got rid of Philadelphia faster than I expected and never looked like they were going to lose their series with Washington, even though it went the distance, but...

The good qualities that the Penguins have are all qualities that New Jersey and Boston both had...and Carolina found a way to win.

I've bet against them twice, and after two upsets I think I'm ready to go out on a limb and put my (figurative) money behind the Cardiac 'Canes.

*MY PICK: Hurricanes in 7

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Eight down, 42 to go!

It’s been over a week now since ‘the incident’…another ‘dreaded’ plotline for the Major Leagues of baseball.

Time flies when you play pro ball though – LA Dodgers female fertility drug taking super slugger Manny Ramirez has just 42 games left in his 50-game suspension for failing a drug test!


Initially I was heartbroken, but I’ve tried to keep myself busy and not think about it too much. The Dodgers have kept themselves busy with a packed schedule too…


I’m not an LA fan, so I don’t even care how the team has done since then, but since I was writing on this topic, I did check: they went from winning seven straight to losing more than they’re winning…which is expected, I guess.


The reason I’m bringing up this painful topic once again is because I found a couple of interesting things on the internet this week that have to do with this subject.


First up – a great read by die-hard Red Sox fan and ESPN writer Bill Simmons, which looks ahead to the year 2014 and his son’s first Bo-Sox/Yankees game at Fenway Park.


He finds himself spending a lot of time justifying the ‘syringe era,’ if you will, of baseball. Very entertaining, well written stuff.


The other interesting thing I stumbled upon was an article by Yahoo! Sports columnist Jeff Passan who offers up his own semi-solution to baseball’s drug problem:


Lifetime bans!


Passan writes:


“Forget suspensions. Kick them out of the game. Forever. On the first positive. Take their money, their fame, their livelihood. Punish them for the disrespect they showed a sport that deserves so much better.”


Can you imagine if the league got the players association to agree to that? Who would be left to play the remaining 100+ games of the season??


All jokes aside, maybe the MLB should start by handing out something a little more serious than a two-month ban.


Fifty games is only 30% of the season.


What they should do is either give out serious punishments, or just let players do whatever they want to their bodies…because really, who cares? They're going to find a way to do it, and they obviously want to do it...


So here's what you do: replace the American League and the National League with the Human League and the Circus League and at the end of the year, the champs from both leagues could go head-to-head for the World Series.


Admit it...that would be fun to watch!


And so as to not taint the 'integrity' of the World Series...they could have a surprise drug test afterwards! Some years they have one, some years they don't...


Imagine the drama!



Let Kerrzy read it to you here:





Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Memorial Cup 2009 preview

As far as junior hockey goes, all eyes are on Rimouski, Quebec, as four teams get set to do battle for the 2009 Memorial Cup.

Will the Kelowna Rockets give the Western Hockey League bragging rights for a third straight year?

Can the Windsor Spitfires win the tournie for the Ontario Hockey League?

Or will it be one of the two Quebec teams – the Drummondville Voltigeurs or the host-Rimouski Oceanics – taking home the title?

Only one of these teams will still be standing come the final whistle on Sunday, May 24th...but WHO?! Here’s a look at each team:

Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

The Kelowna Rockets probably had the hardest road to travel compared to their fellow combatants in this tournament. The Rockets had to beat three of the top four teams in the WHL to make it this far, including the Calgary Hitmen who were the number one team in the country (and finished 24 points ahead of Kelowna). But they did it, and that’s what should make their opponents leery.

Who to watch:

Jamie Benn and Mikael Backlund each scored a league-high 13 goals in the playoffs, with Benn, Cody Almond and Backlund finishing 1-2-4 in playoff scoring. Backlund is a highly-touted prospect of the Calgary Flames.

Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

After going an impressive 57-10-0-1 in the regular season, the Windsor Spitfires lost just four games on the path to capturing the Ontario Hockey League championship. At the end of the regular season, the Spitfires were number two in the CHL rankings, the highest ranked team still playing. Windsor scored a league-best 311 goals during the regular season, while allowing the fewest in the OHL (171).

Who to watch:

Taylor Hall and rookie Andrei Loktionov led the Windsor offence in the playoffs, combining for 69 points in 20 games. Defenseman Ryan Ellis will be a key to their success as well (led all d-men with 89 points in 57 games; 31 points in 20 playoff games).

Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)

The CHL’s number three ranked Drummondville Voltigeurs earned their first ever regular season title with an impressive 54-10-0-4 record and went 16-3 in the playoffs for their first ever league title. The Voltigeurs ended the season/playoffs on a tear, winning 20 games in a row before a game two loss in the QMJHL finals against Shawinigan. Overall, they have now won 23 of their last 26 games.

Who to watch:

Well a team that scores 345 regular season goals and then 109 more in the playoffs is bound to have some dynamic forwards. Yannik Riendeau scored 29 goals and 52 points in 19 playoff games which is a whopping 2.7 points-per-game (even crazier when you consider his 1.9 ppg pace during the season). Goalie Marco Cousineau is coming off a 45-save performance in his team’s game seven, title clinching win.

Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL/Host)

The host-Rimouski Oceanic, like the Kelowna Rockets, didn’t have the greatest of years but still put up pretty good numbers, going 44-23-1-0 in the regular season. The Oceanic were 8-1 in the playoffs, too, before going four-and-out against Drummondville. The host team has made the Memorial Cup final in each of the last five years, winning the tournament three times in that span. The Oceanic haven’t been to the finals since Sidney Crosby’s last season of junior in 2005, a loss to Corey Perry and the London Knights.

Who to watch:

Forward Phillippe Cornet led the team in scoring with 29 goals and 77 points in the regular season, chipping in another 15 points in 13 playoff games.

Predictions:

I’m going to pick Kelowna and Windsor in the final, with the Spitfires winning it all.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Playoff recap, Day 29

Wednesday night was supposed to be the game of the century for the NHL...well, maybe not the century, but come on:

Game Seven between two of the league's biggest young stars - Sidney Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins and Alex Ovechkin's Washington Capitals - in a series where five of the previous six games were decided by one goal, three of those needing overtime...

It HAD to be awesome, didn't it? Maybe not.

Here's the recap:

(Penguins 6, Capitals 2)

-It's not that the Washington Capitals came out flat on Wednesday night, it was moreso a case of a team slowly deflating before our very eyes.

The game could have gone either way early on - within the first three minutes Alex Ovechkin had a pair of great chances (including a breakaway) but was stymied by Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury both times.

Shots were pretty much even by the 12:30 minute mark of the first period, but that's when things took a turn for the worse for the home side. Sidney Crosby and Craig Adams scored goals EIGHT seconds apart, blowing this game wide open.

They struck again with the quickness to start the second period and rookie netminder Simeon Varlamov saw his playoff run come to an end after just over 22 minutes of action (four goals on 18 shots).

Varlamov didn't play his best hockey, but neither did the rest of his team, to be fair.

To the star attractions: Sidney Crosby scored twice (one coming on an Ovechkin giveaway) and had three points; Alex Ovechkin scored once, his 11th and final goal of the 2009 playoffs. Sid the Kid and the Great Eight finished the series even on goals with eight and Ovie wound up with a 6-5 edge in assists.

Those are pretty remarkable numbers, but how about this for an interesting stat - the Penguins didn't take a single penalty in their game seven win. The Caps took four and gave up power play goals on two of those occasions.

To break it down: the Capitals relied heavily on a goalie who really had no business being the all-of-a-sudden starter in the playoffs (though he far exceeded expectations), while the Pittsburgh Penguins used the experience they gained last year (and at the deadline) to defeat a team that didn't have the killer instinct.

Throughout the playoffs, it looked to me like the Capitals never played their best hockey until they were forced to step up.

Thankfully for the Penguins, the other Eastern Semi-Final is ALSO heading to a seventh game!

Tonight:

*Anaheim @ Detroit - 5pm (Series: tied 3-3)
*Carolina @ Boston - 6pm (Series: tied 3-3)

LETS GO RED WINGS!!!!!

Kerrzy's Notebook: Sending a Message?

It's a day later, and I'm still livid about what happened at the end of game six between the Red Wings and the Ducks.

Here's Scott Niedermayer on his elbow to the head of Pavel Datsyuk:

"I took a couple shots. I didn't even know who it was at first. A couple punches to the face, and after a couple I figured I'd try a couple myself."

LIAR!

Watch the video. Niedermayer and Datysuk are standing there holding onto each other, Datsyuk is looking at one of the other tussles (probably Perry/Rafalski)...and then BAM!


I was told by an NHL player agent that he heard the league was downplaying the Niedermayer elbow, saying it didn't connect but instead glanced off the shoulder of Datsyuk.

Okay, so it didn't connect with Datsyuk's mouth or throat. I guess their argument is that Niedermayer was just trying to throw out a 'warning shot,' of sorts?
If a guy has the intent, I don't think it matters what the end result is, especially when it happens after the game.

Maybe the NHL should show a little backbone and enforce some of the rules they put in place. Instigator? Niedermayer and Datsyuk both got fighting majors; what started the fight...an elbow? Sounds accurate.

No instigator penalty was issued on the play...but one WAS issued against Carolina's Scott Walker and the league went back on that, so it's not like the ref's call is the final word.

The NHL says its against teams 'sending a message' at the end of games.

Well, Ryan Getzlaf started the whole scrum by hooking Marian Hossa and then engaging in a shoving match with him as time expired and Scott Niedermayer tried to take Pavel Datsyuk's head off (yes, TRIED)...

If that doesn't count as trying to send a message, I don't know what you would have to do...Take off your skate and stab someone, Happy Gilmore style?


Let Kerrzy read it to you here: