Monday, 13 January 2014

In Case You Missed It

There was a pile of stuff happening in the hockey world this weekend that I never got a chance to post, so we'll bring everyone up to speed today. Yes, that is Shaquille O'Neal in the New Jersey Devils uniform. Yes, that might be the biggest skin-tight jersey I've ever seen. Shaq was in New Jersey this weekend and he was at the game on Saturday night between the visiting Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils. That's where we'll start as we look around the NHL from the weekend.

I Wanna Drive The Zamboni

Shaquille O'Neal, the 7'1" former NBA star, was on-hand on Saturday night as a guest of the New Jersey Devils. The 41 year-old Newark, New Jersey native was invited down to the Prudential Center before the game where he got to drive the zamboni! That's a size-23 shoe on that gas pedal, folks! Shaq donned the jersey as seen above, and then dropped the puck for the ceremonial face-off before the game. The only question I have is why he wore #12. Alexei Ponikarovsky is a bigger guy, but nowhere near the size of Shaq. Couldn't the Devils have given him his own jersey with "O'Neal" and #32 on the back?

Miller Takes One Away

Ryan Miller was named to the American Olympic team, and there were questions as to why he may be going when he's playing for the worst team in the NHL. Sure, his stats have been great, but he hasn't exactly stolen any games for the Sabres this season. That is, until yesterday. Check out this save on Mikhail Grabovski.
Think he's gearing up to be the starter in Sochi? That save was made with 2:14 remaining in the game, helping the Sabres get to extra time with the Capitals. And wouldn't you know it, but the Sabres won the shootout, making that save all that more important. Amazing save, Ryan Miller!

Kane Gives One Back

Patrick Kane is second in league scoring this season. He's having a pretty good season on all accounts, and certainly is looking like one of the most dangerous scorers for the Americans as the Sochi Olympics approach. However, I'm pretty certain the Americans don't want to see this happen while playing in Russia in February.
Ouch. You never really want to see that happen to a player in any circumstance. In saying that, Kane and the Blackhawks did rally shortly after on the power-play, skating to a 5-3 victory over Edmonton last night.

Hell No, He Won't Go

The Buffalo Sabres find themselves in an unenviable position. The Sabres realize that Mikhail Grigorenko needs playing time, and he's not playing well enough to break into the top-six in Buffalo just yet. Because he's 19, the Sabres are forced to return him to his junior team, the QMJHL's Quebec Remparts. Grigorenko, however, has refused to report, stating he needs a better challenge than junior hockey. And Grigorenko is right.

In 92 QMJHL games, Grigorenko has put up gaudy numbers. He has 70 goals and 69 assists in those 92 games, proving that he might be slightly beyond junior-level talent. Because of the agreement the NHL has with the CHL and AHL, players aged 20 and younger cannot be sent down to the AHL. There is the quandary that the Sabres face.

What can they do? They can look at making an agreement with a European team, but not a KHL team due to the NHL-KHL friendly agreement. They are basically out of options in North America thanks to the CHL-AHL agreement. And Grigorenko continues to sit at home after the demotion.

No matter what happens in this situation, the management of the Sabres did a pathetic job with an immense, unrefined talent that may never be realized as a Sabre.

Hurry-Up Face-Off

Saturday night in Sweden was a normal hockey night between Färjestad and Leksands. Leksands was ready to go for the face-off. The linesman was ready for the face-off. Färjestad was still getting organized. Here's a little tip, kids: if the linesman is ready to go, get to the face-off circle.
Leksands' Gabriel Karlsson easily won the draw, checked out the Färjestad defensive zone coverage, and then fired the puck the length of the ice past a clearly unprepared Fredrik Pettersson Wentzel who was re-hydrating. Wentzel had no idea what had happened, and fished the puck out his net thinking that a fan had thrown it from the stands!

This should teach Färjestad that when the linesman is ready, so are you. No harm, no foul in the end, though, as Färjestad won the game 5-1.

That's all for today, kids. We get our first looks at the new Winnipeg Jets head coach tonight as Paul Maurice leads the Jets against the Phoenix Coyotes. I expect the Jets to show some real effort tonight, but the Coyotes will be a tough test for the new coach and his new team.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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