Thursday, January 31, 2008

Am I wrong to think that the Bruins are looking very good?


I mean- with all the injuries they've been dealing with?

The Bruins played the most entertaining game I've seen since the 3 goal, third period comeback against Pittsburgh a while back, the one when Andrew Ference got in a scrap with one Sidney Crosby, and wouldn't you know, it was on the heels of another Andrew Ference scrap that the B's pull out another hell of a hockey game, and this time, they actually won it, not settling for the overtime loss that the Pens handed them.

I'll tell ya, if Phil Kessel could hit the back of the net with any regularity, we'd have something here.

And by something, I mean- a trip to the conference finals?

Granted, I just got married and am filled with confidence for the future, but with Tim Thomas' recent stellar play, Marc Savard playing like an MVP candidate, and Zdeno Chara backing up a strong blueline that is playing Claude Julien's system to a T, well, who knows?

If the lunchpail gang can keep us in the hunt, who knows what happens when we get a few of these injured guys back in the lineup?

Ultimately, if all else fails, the emergence of Milan Lucic makes this season a success, no matter what else happens.

It'll be fun to see how they match up against Ottawa tonight.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

FYI- Free Preview of NHL Center Ice Package is on right now.

If you've ever considered getting the NHL package, check it out- they have it on for free for a couple days after the all star break.

If they could get these channels in HD, hockey would be more popular than baseball in this country*

*probably not true, but hockey in HD is great.

I'm back!

And a happily married man.

(Sorry, Manon Reheume!)

Thanks to Ben for picking up the slack, and thanks to Gary Bettman for scheduling the All Star weekend during my honeymoon, leaving me completely able to enjoy my trip without missing even a half decent hockey game.

I had a wonderful time seeing highlights of the game come on while seated at a blackjack table with my beautiful bride in a casino in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and thinking "hmm- I wonder who's winning," then instantly remembering "oh yeah- I don't give a shit."

I will tell you that if you are a hockey fan, the Turks and Caicos Islands aren't a bad place to vacation in the Caribbean. There are tons of Canadian ex-pats, and I saw two different TV stations showing hockey highlights, one in English and one in French. If you're a fan of horseback riding on the other hand, it's not the best place in the world, seeing as apparently when horses hear the word "whoh" down there, they think, "I guess it's time to gallop uncontrollably down an abandoned beach."

It's a long story, but I'm still alive, and the good news is, it looks like the wife won't be dragging me off to go horseback riding again. I also visited a spirited youth roller hockey program, which I'll write about later this week, when I've had a chance to take a breath and get my act together.

I started my January at the largest NHL game ever played, and wrapped it up on vacation in the Caribbean.

So far, 2008 ain't bad.

Monday, January 28, 2008

And those were the takes they USED!

Pretty sure Ritch is still honeymooning and (let's hope) too busy to blog before they get back, so I'll just continue to deliver the good stuff in his stead (clip starts after about 10 seconds of black):

OK, observations:

1) Not only is Colby Armstrong the best actor of the four Penguins in the spot, he has a face made for Hollywood. Attention, casting agents: looking for a cross between Conan O'Brien and Adrien Brody? Contact Ray Shero for availability.

2) Correct me if I'm wrong (and please, God, let me be wrong) but was Talbot doing a McLovin impression? Judd Apatow, what hath you wrought?

3) I love how Gonchar is just standing ramrod straight in the background the whole time - like a suit of armor, but with less personality.

4) Malkin looks at the keys in his hand like a mental defective who just picked up a pile of dogshit.

I now firmly believe that Sidney Crosby faked a high ankle sprain just to get out of shooting this spot.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Oh yeah, and it's All-Star weekend

Try to remember to give a shit.

Nobody's perfect

but Ty Conklin has pretty goddamn close lately.

If you guys ever wonder exactly what qualifies me to write for a hockey blog, here's all you need to know.

Of course, the likelihood is that Conklin got a whiff of all the crap we've been slinging at him since we hung up our shingle here, and he just got sick of it. I believe AHF was fuel for the fire in the belly that had been lacking for so long...and when Fleury went down, and Sabourin, well, played like Sabourin, Conklin finally got the chance he had been waiting for to make us (read: me) eat our (my) words.

Pittsburgh fans, I just have one thing to say.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's weird when you pull milk out of the fridge-

-look at the expiration date and think, "hmm. I'll be married by the time this turns."

Then, there you are, standing in the kitchen in your boxer shorts, wondering if in this metaphor, you are the milk.

Pretty busy with wedding planning these days, but with all this love in the air, here's some good old fashioned hate for ya, in an AHL fight that you really should check out.

Thanks to The FanHouse for the tip.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

No Hockey last night.


Didn't watch any.

OK, I caught some highlights on the NHL network, but that was it. I was happy to see former Bruin Brandon Bochenski light the lamp for Anaheim. That deal was good for both clubs I think.

In other news, did you guys know there is another Indiana Jones movie coming out?

Christ. Who does he think he is, Chris Chelios?

Harrison Ford is so goddamn old at this point, this movie features Indy fighting in the Gulf War.

My rule is, if you are over 60, your first name isn't Kurt and your last name isn't Russell maybe put down the bullwhip, kay?

Bruins play the red hot Habs tonight.

I might watch it.

We'll see.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

How long can you go?

You know, the money that I have spent to watch live hockey this season is disgusting.

I'm going to see the Buffalo Sabres play the New Jersey Devils at the Rock tonight, and it marks the third time this season I've been to a game out there. Granted, I'm pals with a Devils fan and several Rangers and Sabres fans, and I have a chronic inability to say the word "no" when someone says "want to go see a hockey game?" But still.

I saw the Penguins destroy the Devils about two months ago, watched the Bruins blow a three goal lead to the Devs last month, that game where they lost Tim Thomas in the the third and Tukka Rask coughed up the overtime goal.

I also flew to Buffalo to watch the Winter Classic last week, sat behind the glass at the Garden to watch the Bruins beat the Islanders last thanksgiving and saw the Washington Capitals face off against the Rangers a few months back. I forget who won that one, I just like to watch Ovechkin skate.

Before I started this blog, I'd really try to make an effort to get to one, maybe two games a year. Now we're only at the halfway point of the season, and I've attended 6 already. That I can remember. Thank God, the Devils are a relatively cheap ticket, (tonight's special offer seat is $30, I think), but I'd say a conservative estimate of the money I've spent getting tickets to live hockey games is around the $600.00 mark, not including travel.

I shudder to think how much I've spent on beer.

Anyway, it is with this in mind that I have decided to hold off on getting tickets to the Rangers and Bruins on my wedding day.

I'm getting married on January 20th in New York City, and there was a bit of a debate as to whether I might duck out with my groomsmen to watch the Bruins play the Rangers for their matinee that afternoon. I dragged my feet on it, mainly because the NHL and NBC wouldn't announce what time the game started.

Also, my future wife might have stabbed me in the neck.

As it happens, the game is going to be broadcast nationally and start at 12:30, ostensibly in time to be well over before the AFC championship game at 3:00.

The wedding starts at 6:00, and there are more than a few Patriots fans in my family not too wild about the timing of that one. I remind them that Bill Belicheck might tell them that to look past the game on Sunday is a bad idea, and they grumble.

Regardless, I'm going to the good-old hockey game tonight to see if the Sabres can drop seven straight.

And then I'm taking a break.

Not from the blog, but from watching hockey.

OK, If the Bruins look great against the Hurricanes tonight, and win four in a row, which they really might, seeing as the Bruins are surging, putting pucks in the net and Carolina seems to be having some struggles in goal, so if they win in dramatic fashion, I may have to watch out this string.

I mean fuck it, I sat through their recent six game losing streak, I can't watch when they start to turn it around?

We'll see. I might take a break. Cause when the playoffs start, that ain't happening.

I get married on the 20th, then leave for a week long honeymoon in a place with sprawling beaches and absolutely no NESN, so maybe that will do for a nice break.

I dunno- how long could you go without hockey?

Right. I hear you, I was there in 2004 too.

But how long could you go if your team was doing well?

For me, I'd say a week, tops.

I would like to constructively express my displeasure

With the fucking Buffalo Sabres.
In anticipation of this blog's field trip to The Rock tonight to watch the Devils-Sabres matchup (contingency plan should friendly rivalries betwixt AHFers get too heated: shit on the Bruins), I've felt a fire brimming in my belly. Since Jack has deprived me of any sort of competition in the fantasy standings, taking to the bottom like Jaromir Jagr after a few Bay Breezes and a viewing of Ice Castles, I'm hoping for a little action on the ice; more specifically, him punching me in the face when I tell him that I have placed money on the Devils this evening.
Accustomed to Buffalo-related heartbreak, I'm ever the Buffalo optimist--I drafted Teppo Numinen for my fantasy team, for Chrissakes, and the man's down a heart--and I was willing to push through the adjustment period that was sure to start off the year. Briere and Drury, moved on to greedier pastures? Fuck 'em. Appropriately gendered merch difficult to find? Nothing a copyright-infringing iron-on patch and a wifebeater can't fix. But six games? In a row? A girl's got a breaking point.

First the white man, then Super Bowl XXV, now this.

The early-season performance of Ryan Miller (for whom my yet-to-be-conceived first child, Ryanmiller Adams was to be named), atrocious in itself, grew even crueller with that brief cocktease of a good stretch, and Lindy Ruff was completely right to send him to his room and make him think about what he did in last week's Ottawa game. On the offensive side, though I'm sure he makes up for it with plenty of intangibles, like encouraging words and buying the first round, we might have to be open to the possibility that we overpaid Thomas Vanek, who's picked up a tidy $416,000 per goal thusfar. As for Afinogenov, well, while not in possession of a groin, I have read extensively on the subject, and for $3.5 million a year, I could probably manage to skate it off for the halfway game.

I'm not forsaking my boys for good- the right to bitch is a Buffalo sports fans' birthright, after all- and I'm sure as hell not rooting for the Devils, but let's just say my loyalties lie with Bodog's moneyline tonight.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

World Juniors

I'm sitting on my couch watching OT of the gold medal game of the World Junior Tournament.

Great third period for the Sweden, and seeing all these under 20's on the big European sheet of ice makes it look like mini-one-on-one.

I'll tell ya, if the NHL does the winter classic again next year, I'd like to see them build a nice big European sheet. Maybe I'm just a little bitter cause I couldn't see much action from my seat, but why not build a big sheet?

And Canada scores!

Puck popped into the slot on an attempted wraparound and this kid just hammered it home. It wasn't pretty, but there is something awesome about a gold medal being won by a kid crashing the net.

Apparently, the tournament is taking place in Ottawa next year, and is already sold out.

Big day for Canadian hockey.

Oh, and this may be stupid, but I'm leaving Karri Romo in net against Ottawa tonight on my fantasy team. The Sens just dropped two against the Caps, and the New Year usually seems to be the time when the Senators start slumping.

Could this be my most boring post ever?


Friday, January 04, 2008

You know, after the Ice Bowl-

-It's sort of weird that the season is still going on.

I watched the Ice Bowl on my DVR yesterday, you know, so I could actually SEE the game, and yeah it was scrappy, but I still thought it was great.

I mean, there is a lot of bitching about how the "game wasn't great" and the "conditions made it tough to stickhandle," but um- wasn't that the point? You want to hold a game outside to see how the world's greatest hockey players are going to deal with it. It's like watching that Patriots snow-game from a few years back and bitching that snow made the passing game tougher.

Here are some thoughts I had after watching the telecast:

-Sidney Crosby bouncing the puck on his stick a couple times while rushing up ice isn't "wizardry."

I mean, Christ. I get it that he's the guy you want to market, but ANYBODY in the NHL can do that, and to top it all off, it didn't really work. He slapped the puck a few times in an attempt to settle it down, and got checked off the puck.

- Sidney Crosby is not Bobby Orr. Not by a long shot.

Sidney Crosby is a gifted player, and the point that his tenacity and refusal to give up on a play even when putting his own body at risk is something that Orr did as well, (and was something that eventually led to a series of career-shortening injuries, which I worry Crosby may be subjecting himself to as well.) But what Bobby Orr could do, and did on a regular basis was that incredibly rare thing that Michael Jordan, or Dominick Hasek in his prime, or even maybe Tom Brady and Joe Montana could so, and that is to completely take over a game, and win it almost singlehandedly when the chips were down. Sid is a superstar, and almost every game will get his points, and probably do a trick. Like a flippy move, or a spin-o-rama, or a jump over the goalie and whack it in on a backhand. These are all cool tricks, but he ain't Bobby Orr.

-Can you imagine how completely awful a stickhandler Zdeno Chara would be if he played in that game?

I love Chara, but when he's handling the puck it's always a crap shoot. It's not really his fault, when the puck is on his stick, it's so far away from his head that he'd need to be a professional plate-spinner to be able to get a handle on it, but damn. He's a crappy stickhandler, is what I'm saying.

-I maintain that Ty Conklin is still a shitty goalie.

Some people are saying he's no longer a joke, and yes, he made some seemingly big saves on New Year's day, but while much was made of the snow buildup causing the puck to move more slowly on offense, the puck also moved much slower after a goalie gave up a rebound. Pucks that would have slid easily into the slot moved a lot slower, and allowed Conklin to cover up quicker. The fact that he was named a top three star was a joke.

-Brian Campbell should have been a top three star.

He opened the scoring, showed a physical presence, and adapted to the elements perhaps better than any player on the ice.

-On television or in person, the Ice Bowl was a great day for hockey.

You know, unless the Penguins make the playoffs by one point. Ben was right.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

AHF at the Ice Bowl: A Buffa-Road Trip!

Well, I'm back!

in the stands at the Winter Classic.
All photos by Ritch Duncan (except this one)

After flying back into New York from Buffalo with my buddy Jack Kukoda, (who was covering the game for Deadspin) being taken around the city on New Year's Eve, having my first tastes of authentic Beef on Weck, Pizza with spicy pepperoni, and Buffalo Wings, tailgating with the upstanding citizens over at Bflo blog and joining 72 thousand hockey fans into what was without exaggeration, a cathedral for hockey, I got back to New York City from the game and the first thought I had was, "Jesus, I can't wait to WATCH it!"

Our seats weren't great, is what I'm saying.

The view from section 121

Don't get me wrong, the actual hockey game was about 1/10th of the overall spectacularness of the event, and it was pretty spectacular.

We were seated about 19 rows behind the end zone, and from what I could see, it was pretty slow going out there. There weren't a lot of cross-ice passes getting through, and one dump in I saw sent an snow shower off a player's stick so high it looked like he came to an abrupt stop from a full on sprint. I could follow the action once I trained myself to shift my gaze constantly from the ice to the jumbotron, but I was so low to the ice, the boards blocked anything behind the net, I couldn't really see when a play was offside, and it was snowing so hard, I could barely make out George Laraque.

But it was a great, great time.

I started this site and called it American Hockey Fan, in part because I often felt alone in my love for this sport. Well, with 73,000 plus roaring their approval and bearing the elements to make it the largest American audience to ever watch an NHL game, it was as important that we were all there, as it was that the game was a nailbiter or not. And the TV ratings beat expectations too, which is fantastic. It was close game, (or at least It looked that way to me, scroll down for Ben's take) and it felt like anything could happen. We might not be able to tell you how it developed, but we were certainly ready for anything.

Hockey Fans. All of 'em.

Sure, there were some corporate VIP seats, there was a heated press box and there was a good chance that thanks to Jack's Deadspin and NHL connections, we might have been able to get in there. But honestly, what kind of jackass wants to watch an outdoor hockey game indoors? I didn't want to report on this game, I wanted to watch it, I wanted to experience it, I wanted to be a part of a community that cared about the game and was willing to stand out in the cold and witness history.

And I was even willing to go to fucking Buffalo to do it.

A good lookin' Sabres Fan strikes a pose

For example, you want to hear something that didn't really bother me that much?

I was in the stands with Jack and this other Buffalo fan, the photographer known as 289, or as I called him, "Matt." Making conversation, from time to time, I'd mention the snowfall, because you know, it was fucking snowing. When I brought it up, he'd he'd snap "It isn't snowing!"

What's that in the sky? Not snow, apparently

Right. OK, I get it, Crocodile Dundee, you're from Buffalo, and you've seen it snow harder than this, which I guess means I have a small dick.

Jesus, Christ.

But other than that, he was a nice enough guy, and the pics he took certainly looked great.

But obnoxious exceptions aside, the lesson I learned was that people from Buffalo are some of the nicest on earth. Provided, of course, that they think you are also from Buffalo. Once word gets out that you aren't a native of the "City of Good Neighbors" it can get a little frosty.

I know, because I wore my new Patriots winter hat to the game, mainly because I'd just bought it, the Patriots have been fun as hell to watch this year, and I wanted to make up for wearing that Buffalo shirt to the Isles game last year, in which I took a bunch of shit from drunk Isles fans.

I took my share of gibes, and shouts that I was "on the Bandwagon," but the focus was on hockey, and even among Penguins and Sabres fans, the overwhelming feeling was one of goodwill and love for the game. It was a great atmosphere to be in.

Jack might have said it best after the game, when we were solemnly trudging towards the car, depressed by the abruptness of Pittsburgh's shootout win, yet elated at the experience we had just been through.

As we strolled through the soggy Buffalo mud and wreckage of the parking lot tailgate he said to me- "This is a great thing for the game. I mean, if you had worn that fucking hat to a Bills game, they'd have set you on fire."

More thoughts tomorrow.

I'm going to go fire up the DVR.

I really want to watch this game.

Ice Bowl wrapup

to follow...but for now, here's where those lucky pricks Jack and Ritch were sitting:

And at the risk of stealing any thunder from the aforementioned wrapup, let me just say that if you were looking for an argument against the shootout, you'd be hard pressed to find a better one than yesterday's game. The Penguins (after the first 10 minutes) were outplayed and outclassed, pure and simple. For them to get the extra point on the strength of a single Crosby 5-hole trickler is ridiculous. That said, I'm sure it gave Gary Bettman a real warm, fuzzy feeling.

And another thing...I went to the trouble of adding Kris Letang to my fantasy team, so let's at least start counting shootout goals as GWG where applicable, shall we? I'm looking at you, Yahoo Fantasy Sports. I need all the help I can goalies are Ray Emery and Johan Holmqvist, fer chrissakes. I'm basically spotting the other team a 5 point lead every week.

But I digress.

Ice Bowl wrapup to follow...