Hockey Headlines

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Forged In Metal

I'll give the ending away already with the image to the left, but the KHL crowned its champion today and only one team would stand as the winner between Eastern Conference champion Metallurg Magnitogorsk and Western Conference champion Lev Prague. Both teams came into the final having steamrolled their way through their respective conferences, but only one would stand as the winner. Let's check out how the image above came to be as we look at the series between Metallurg Magnitogorsk and Lev Prague. As always, overtime goals are always included!

GAGARIN CUP FINAL

E1 Metallurg Magnitogorsk vs. W3 Lev Prague

GAME ONE: We start off in Arena Metallurg for Game One of the Gagarin Cup Final. At the 10:02 mark, Metallurg's Viktor Antipin hammered Lev's Petr Vrana at center ice with an open-ice hit, but the referees deemed to be interference and overly rough play. Anitpin was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct, and that led to the game's opening goal. Martin Svec one-timed a pass from Justin Azevedo from the point on that powerplay, and the puck found its way through a maze of legs to end up behind Metallurg's Vasily Koshechkin for the 1-0 Lev lead. We jump to the 4:35 mark of the second period where Jiri Sekac's pass into the slot finds the tape of Petr Vrana, and Vrana pulls it across the crease before flipping the backhander past an outstretched Koshechkin for the 2-0 Lev lead. And with 1:43 to play in the game, Justin Azevedo fired a shot from center into the vacated net for the 3-0 win. Petri Vehanen made 21 saves for the shutout. LEV PRAGUE LEADS 1-0.

GAME TWO: Metallurg looked to bounce back on home ice to even the series before moving to the Czech Republic while Lev wanted to go home up 2-0. Both teams held firm in the first period as they came into the second period scoreless, but that wouldn't last for long in the middle frame. Mikhail Yunkov's pass from the corner was perfectly one-timed by Bogdan Potekhin from the slot through the five-hole of Petri Vehanen, giving Metallurg the 1-0 lead just 3:04 into the period. After Lev's Michal Repik was stopped on a penalty shot, Metallurg made it 2-0 when Sergei Mozyakin fed a pass across the slot to Danis Zaripov who had nothing but twine to shoot at and he made no mistake at the 13:19 mark. 1:35 later while on the powerplay, Mozyakin fanned on a one-timer from the right face-off circle that is mishandled by both Jiri Novotny and Nathan Oystrick of Lev! The bouncing puck settled on the stick of Jan Kovar who rifled it past Vehanen for the 3-0 Metallurg lead. 44 seconds into the third period, Metallurg went up 4-0 when Rinat Ibragimov's point shot ricocheted past Vehanen on a couple of deflections before Sergei Mozyakin tapped it across the goal line. Justin Azevedo would get one back with 3:25 to play, but Metallurg would skate to the 4-1 win in Game Two. SERIES TIED AT 1-1.

GAME THREE: The series shifted to the O2 Arena in Prague, and both teams wanted to get a jump on the best-of-five series that came out of the first two games. Just 1:25 in, we'd get our first goal. Lev Prague came out on fire, and they would strike first when Jiri Sekac circled the zone before wrapping the puck around the net off Metallurg defender Vladimir Malenkikh and past Vasily Koshechkin for the 1-0 lead! We'd have to jump to the 18:57 mark of the second period for the next goal. With Metallurg on the powerplay, Sergei Mozyakin took the puck off the half-boards, circled to the high slot, and unleashed a slapshot that found the back of the net past Petri Vehanen for the 1-1 equalizer! Just 59 seconds into the third period, Nathan Oystrick's cross-ice feed on the powerplay into the slot found Justin Azevedo who one-timed it past Koshechkin for the 2-1 Lev lead! With 1:18 left and Koshechkin on the bench, Sergei Moyzakin's point shot doesn't get through to the net, but the puck bounces to Francis Paré who fires home his fifth of the playoffs to knot this game up at 2-2. Overtime loomed, but Metallurg gave the puck away at center ice with 28 seconds to play. Mikko Maenpaa grabbed the loose puck, brought it in over the line while drawing two defenders to him, and then fed the puck to a streaking Justin Azevedo whose shot went between Koshechkin's body and arm, barely crossing the line! Lev led 3-2 with 24 seconds to play, and that would be the final in Game Three! LEV PRAGUE LEADS 2-1.

GAME FOUR: The largest crowd in KHL history filled the O2 Arena for Game Four as 17073 people attended the game. Just 3:57 in, Evgeny Timkin made some nifty moves down the right wing before circling the net and setting up Yaroslav Khabarov for the one-timer from the top of the left circle that found twine behind Petri Vehanen for the early 1-0 Metallurg lead. Lev would respond when Niko Kapanen caused the turnover and got the puck to David Ullstom in the high slot where he ripped home a wrist shot at 7:10 for the 1-1 equalizer. 10:03 later, Patrik Zackrisson slid a short pass to Justin Azevedo coming down the left side, and his wrister from the face-off dot found room past Vasily Koshechkin for the 2-1 Lev Prague lead. 59 seconds after that, Metallurg found themselves on the powerplay when Sergei Mozyakin fed Danis Zaripov at the left post who slid a cross-crease pass to Viktor Antipin who buried it for the 2-2 tie going into the intermission. We jump to 6:02 of the second period where Azevedo fed Ondrej Nemec at the point, and he teed up a blast past a screened Koshechkin with the man-advantage for the 3-2 Lev lead. Metallurg would respond at the 14:02 mark when Mozyakin's pass out front found Antipin, and his shot literally squeezed between Vehanen's left pad and the post to even the game at 3-3. 38 seconds into the third period, Sergei Mozyakin is given way too much room to skate as he beat three Lev defenders before sending a cross-ice pass to Danis Zaripov who had nothing but cage to shoot at with Vehanen overplaying Mozyakin. Make it 4-3 Metallurg on Zaripov's ninth goal. And those two would hook up again at 4:07 mark on a 4-on-3 powerplay as Mozyakin wired a pass from the left point to the right post where Zaripov one-timed it past Vehanen for the 5-3 Metallurg lead. Koshechkin would need no additional goals as Metallurg skated to the 5-3 win in Game Four to make it a best-of-three series heading home! SERIES TIED AT 2-2.

GAME FIVE: Back to the mining town of Magnitogorsk for Game Five, and the winner of this one would be one game from the biggest prize in Russian hockey! A scoreless first period would lead to the first goal of the game in the second period. 5:36 into the middle frame, Jan Kovar made a nice room around Jiri Sekac to gain the zone, and then fired a pass cross-ice to Sergei Mozyakin who one-timed the pass home past Petri Vehanen to give Metallurg the 1-0 lead! We jump to the 2:54 mark of the third period and Lev's Patrik Zackrisson fed Martin Sevc at the point, and his wrist shot is tipped past Koshechkin by Justin Azevedo to even the score at 1-1! Both goalies would stand tall for the remaining seventeen minutes, and we were off to overtime for the first time in the Gagarin Cup Final! It would only take 8:43 for this game to be decided in the extra period.
Danis Zaripov made a strong play along the boards, keeping the puck in the zone on the clearing attempt. That allowed Jan Kovar to pick up the loose puck, and he spotted Sergei Mozyakin who one-timed the pass low past Vehanen for the 2-1 overtime win! METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK LEADS 3-2.

GAME SIX: Lev Prague needed a win on home ice to keep this series rolling as the series shifted back to the Czech Republic. We'd see our first goal at 9:47 when Sergei Mozyakin charged down the left wing, getting a step on Mikko Maenpaa as he angled towards the net, and his backhander found its way through Vehanen for the early 1-0 Metallurg lead. Lev would respond on the powerplay at the 13:53 mark when Ondrej Nemec set up Justin Azevedo for a slapshot at the point, and his blast would find its way past Vitaly Koshechkin for the 1-1 tie. Late in the period, Lev would be on another powerplay when Ondrej Nemec faked a shot from the point, drawing everyone to him, before feeding the pass across the ice to the right face-off dot where Martin Sevc blasted home the one-timer for the 2-1 Lev lead with 51 seconds left in the period. Just 2:35 into the second period, Metallurg's Oskar Osala picked up the puck ebhind the net and fed the puck into the slot for Mikhail Yunkov who one-timed the puck home for the 2-2 tie. 2:20 after that, Tim Brent forced a turnover in the Lev zone thaty saw the puck go to Chris Lee who one-timed a laser at Vehanen. Vehanen got a piece of it, but the puck went into the air and over him, landing in the net to put Metallurg up 3-2. Lev would respond just 3:03 later, Ryan O'Byrne picked up a puck in the high slot area with the Metallurg defenders deep in their zone, and he wired a wrist shot past a number of falling defenders and Koshechkin for the 3-3 equalizer. With 1:19 to play in the period, Mozyakin found some room around Martin Sevc, and his feed into the slot from the right wing found Francis Paré who one-timed a blast past Vehanen for the 4-3 lead after two periods. Late in third period with the 4-3 score holding, a scrum on the wall in the Metallurg zone saw the puck pop free to Mozyakin. Mikko Maenpaa checked him before he could clear the puck, and Maenpaa wired a wrist shot to tie the game at 4-4 with 2:21 to play! That means this one would be solved in overtime!
That was probably the worst way to lose that game as Nathan Oystrick's shot from a horrible angle goes in off Koshechkin's leg for the 5-4 Lev win in overtime! That also means we're going to a Game Seven, and it's now down to a one-game championship!

Just as a note, that was the first playoff goal that O'Byrne scored since being a member of the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs in 2007! If Brad Pitt spent seven years in Tibet, Ryan O'Byrne spent seven years in goal-scorer's purgatory! SERIES TIED AT 3-3.

GAME SEVEN: Winner takes all tonight as the series returned to Arena Metallurg for Game Seven! The home crowd was on its feet early as Francis Pare putting home the loose puck after Yaroslav Khabarov's deflected blue-liner squeezed through Petri Vehanen's pads just 4:43 into the game. Lev would rally and tie the game at 13:49 when Mark-Andre Gragnani's shot from the point was deflected by David Ullstrom to even things at 1-1. Jumping ahead to the 3:32 of the second period, Evgeny Biryukov wired a wrist shot high to the corner past Vehanen for the 2-1 Metallurg lead. Ryan O'Byrne would notch his second goal of the Final at the 14:41 mark after putting home a rebound on the fourth attempt on Koshechkin as Lev knotted it up at 2-2 again. At the 16:56 mark, though, Metallurg would jump ahead once more when Evgeny Timkin broke away from Calle Ridderwall before dropping a pass to Yaroslav Kosov for the one-timer to put the home squad up 3-2. 1:41 later, Jan Kovar tipped a Danis Zaripov shot past Vehanen with 2:23 to play in the period, and Metallurg carried a 4-2 advantage into the intermission. Petri Vehanen would be replaced by Atte Engren to start the third period, but Metallurg continued the offensive onslaught. 3:10 in, Zaripov would set up Mozyakin for an easy tap-in for the 5-2 lead. At 12:25, Zaripov netted a goal of his own to make it 6-2. Martin Thornberg would score 1:30 later to cut the deficit to 6-3 and Justin Azevedo would make it 6-4 with 1:41 to play, but Metallurg would seal the deal with nine seconds to play when Mikhail Yunkov scored into an empty net for the 7-4 victory in Game Seven, and the first Gagarin Cup for Metallurg Magnitogorsk! METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK WINS 4-3.

Now I want to draw your attention to a pile of records that were set in this year's Gagarin Cup Final:
  • Sergei Mozyakin scored 106 points in the regular season and playoffs combined, setting a new record for points in a season by any player in the KHL, Russian SuperLeague, or the Soviet League.
  • Mike Keenan became the first non-Russian coach to win the Gagarin Cup, and the first foreigner to lead his team to a Russian championship since Vladimir Vuitek did so with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in 2002 and 2003.
  • Lev Prague became the first non-Russian team to participate in a Gagarin Cup Final.
  • Lev Prague set the KHL single-game attendance record in Game Four at the O2 Arena when 17,073 fans packed into the arena.
  • Justin Azevedo became the first player in KHL history to record a goal in all seven Gagarin Cup Final games.
  • The two teams set a record for goals in the Final with 44 and for one Final game with 11.
As seen above, the boys from Metallurg Magnitogorsk hoisted the Gagarin Cup in victory, so let's see that picture in full-size!
Congratulations to Metallurg Magnitogorsk - the 2013-2014 Gagarin Cup Champions!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Big Goal Light Floats Away

Budweiser decided to bless Canadian hockey fans with one of the best promotional ideas ever: their own goal light! The Budweiser Red Lights have been lighting up every time a selected team scores in bars and homes across the Great White North for some time now, and Budweiser decided to take the promotion a little further by bringing a Budweiser Red Light zeppelin to life that was adorned with a pile of LED lights to make it light up like a goal light. As seen above, it looks pretty close to the real thing!

However, with the cross-Canada promotion ending, Budweiser decided to deflate the Red Zeppelin as it reached its final touring point in Saint John, New Brunswick. Deflating a zeppelin is probably no easy task, and it got a lot harder when the semi-deflated zeppelin broke free of its tether in the gusting winds on Saturday afternoon! As you probably guessed, the helium-filled zeppelin then floated away on the gusts as the Budweiser zeppelin crew could do little but watch helplessly!

Thankfully after a few frantic days, the lost goal light zeppelin was found this morning! "It's in a wooded area in New Brunswick that doesn't look like it's going to be real easy to get to," Wade Keller, director of corporate affairs for the Atlantic region for Labatt Breweries, told CBC's Alan White today.

I'm not sure what kind of damage has been done to the blimp that stands at two storeys high and is 21-feet in length, but I can't imagine it would be unharmed after coming to rest in an isolated, wooded area. Generally, things like tree branches like to catch material and cause it to tear, so there might be some serious patching needed on the Red Zeppelin.

The worst part in this whole thing? "It's the only one we have," Keller said, refusing to disclose the value of the blimp.

You don't really give a lot of thought to a balloon filled with helium floating upwards when you see one. However, Mobile Airships Inc., the manufacturer of the Red Zeppelin, said that "the air pressure at higher altitude would cause it to rupture. It would then slowly deflate and sink to the ground, with wind speed and direction determining where the deflated blimp would float before landing."

So imagine a two-storey balloon floating up where planes may travel. Transport Canada did, and they had their Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADOR) issued an alert for the Moncton airport and the Saint John flight service station to be on the lookout for an unmanned blimp possibly messing up air-traffic routes as it floated aimlessly in the air. That kind of thing is hard to miss and does move slowly in relation to an airplane, but there's still the possibility that it could cause a collision if a pilot wasn't aware that it was out there.

Luckily, though, the blimp was found in New Brunswick as its tour of the maritime province came to an end. While the zeppelin didn't light up upon being found, here's hoping that Labatt Breweries can salvage this zeppelin without too much trouble so that we can see it in the skies again!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 28 April 2014

More Hockey, Better Beer!

It's pretty common knowledge that hockey and beer go together like Abbott and Costello, Calvin and Hobbes, and Laurel and Hardy. They can be enjoyed separately, but they seem to work so much better in tandem. Rarely, though, does beer actually need equipment to be enjoyed, but, thanks to the Pond Hockey Brewing Company, you can now enjoy hockey and beer together thanks to the Puck Off! bottle opener!

Personally, I am always intrigued by something cool that fills a niche that could use some tweaking. Bottle openers have been invented and re-invented for years to help remove caps faster and to combine various tools - Swiss Army Knife, anyone? - but very few have combined the coolness of hockey with the allure of the adult beverage. I've given away hockey-themed keychain bottle openers, but even I could slap a hockey logo on something and call it a "hockey-related product". Instead, the Puck Off! bottle opener brings together hockey and brewed beverages in a fun, unique way that should make people take notice of your new bottle opener when you crack open a cold one!

I shouldn't have to demonstrate on how to use a bottle opener, so I won't. What I will do, however, is link to the video that the gentlemen from the Pond Hockey Brewing Company made in order to give you a better rundown as to what the Puck Off! bottle opener can do, how it works, and other distinguishing characteristics.
Kyle Jordan, the man doing the majority of the talking in the video, sent me a couple of Puck Off! bottle openers, so I will be including them in the prizing for the HBIC Playoff Pool! That means that two of you who have entered will win one of these awesome bottle openers!

Now you might be asking yourself how you can get one since you missed out on the HBIC Playoff Pool. Luckily for you, there is an option! Head over to the Puck Off! webpage, add one to your cart, and get it ordered! The three people who have seen mine have already asked where I got it from, so there is a great opportunity for you to be the envy of your hockey-loving friends until you let them in on the Puck Off! secret! Honestly, the price is pretty fair at $13 for a unique item such as this, so get off your wallets and bring home a Puck Off! bottle opener!

Keep an eye on their YouTube page as well for more videos. There are four videos there already, so go watch the other three. They'll be adding more in the near future, so keep your eyes on the prize! Also, check out the Puck Off! blog as well! I want to thank Keith and Kyle Jordan for providing a few for those entered in the HBIC Playoff Pool, and I'll be promoting the Puck Off! bottle opener on the prize page in the coming weeks.

The Puck Off! bottle opener - a great idea from two great hockey fans through the Pond Hockey Brewing Company! Get yours today! They come HBIC-recommended!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Much Ado About Nothing

This was supposed to be their year. This was the season that the St. Louis Blues threw the gorilla off their backs and finally marched towards the promised land with a little swagger. They were tough. They were rugged. They had the pieces to make the rest of the NHL worried. They matched up well against all opponents. This was supposed to be the year that the Blues went all the way. Except that they awoken the beast called the Chicago Blackhawks who decided that the Blues were going nowhere but home.

Everyone thought that St. Louis was going to be the juggernaut that crushed the dreams of teams like Chicago, Colorado, Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose simply because they had the pieces to go deep. Backes, Oshie, Steen, Tarasenko, Schwartz, Sobotka, Morrow, Ott, and Berglund up front makes for a formidable foe. Toss in Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester, Jackman, and Shattenkirk to make the Blues even tougher to play against. Cap it off with a tandem of Ryan Miller and Brian Elliott, and the Blues should be planning their second-round travel plans.

Instead, they'll be booking tee times after being outscored 14-6 in the final four games of the six-game series as Chicago is looking at visiting either Denver or St. Paul in the next round. Chicago got key performances from Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Duncan Keith in the four games as the Blackhawks looked like the defending Stanley Cup champions once again.

If there were concerns about the Blues going into the playoffs, the same concerns were magnified in the playoffs. Ryan Miller's 2.70 GAA is higher than one would have liked to have seen, but his sub-.900 save percentage is never going to win a playoff series against a team like the Blackhawks.

Vladimir Tarasenko's four goals certainly helped the Blues in this series, but it's never a good sign when a defensive defenceman like Kevin Shattenkirk leads the team in scoring. Alexander Steen? One goal and two assists. David Backes? One assist. TJ Oshie? Two goals. When St. Louis' top line has been outscored by one player on the Blackhawks, that's not going to help either.

Both of St. Louis' wins in Games One and Two came in overtime, meaning that Chicago could have won those games just as easily. While Chicago didn't light the lamp in either of the opening games' overtime periods, they didn't have any problem winning in Game Five in St. Louis, so the experience factor certainly came into play. The Blackhawks know how to close out games. The Blues do not. At least "not yet" anyway.

For all the hype generated about St. Louis being a playoff team thanks to their addition of Miller and Ott, the results were the same: an early exit with little to reflect on in terms of playoff success. If we need to talk about a St. Louis team that finished as one of the final four teams, we're going back to 2000-01 when they lost the Conference Final to the Avalanche by a 4-1 count. If you want to talk Stanley Cup Final, we're going generations back to 1969-70 when they lost in a series sweep to the Boston Bruins when Bobby Orr scored his famous goal. Needless to say, for all the talent the Blues have had over the years, success in the playoffs has eluded them.

For Blues fans, it's same old broken record: see you in September.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Cleaning McHouse

In a rather shocking move today, it was announced by the Washington Capitals that head coach Adam Oates and his coaching staff were fired by the club after two seasons behind the Capitals' bench. Further to that, general manager George McPhee was informed that his contract will not be renewed which is akin to being fired. Capitals owner Ted Leonsis made a clear statement with these moves: change is coming.

"We were left with the overall impression that the team wasn't trending toward being able to compete for a Stanley Cup," Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said in a news conference at the club's arena. "And that was just a clear signal and why it was time to make those changes."

In other words, the club wasn't getting any better than it had been in previous years. The man paying the salaries wants that trend reversed, so the men responsible for guiding this team to the promised land were given their terminations yesterday.

For the first time since 2007, the Washington Capitals missed the post-season. The fact that this happened in the newly-aligned NHL divisions and conferences shouldn't surprise anyone as even casual fans lamented that this team that routinely won the Southeast Division wasn't that good. They had a pile of talent, but this team seemed to underachieve for large parts of seasons over the last few years. When you have one of the best players on the planet in the lineup night-in and night-out, it's not hard to see why changes may be necessary.

Asked if there were any untouchables on this team in terms of on-ice employees, Leonsis took the high road in saying, "I'm not the general manager. So If the general manager comes with something, we would listen to the general manager."

Interesting.

That statement alone says a lot about the franchise. From trading away Sergei Varlamov and Filip Forsberg to the Martin Erat debacle to firing Bruce Boudreau, hiring and firing Dale Hunter, and then the hiring of Adam Oates, the path behind McPhee was littered with potholes and mistakes that you'd expect from a rookie GM, not a man who had been on the job for seventeen years. Many of his trades seemed to be made in panic to try to keep up with the Joneses, but none have panned out quite the way the franchise expected or needed them to pan out.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau was fired after he tried to implement a defensive system that, ultimately, the players never bought into and the team was bounced repeatedly from the playoffs. That's the same Bruce Boudreau who led the Anaheim Ducks this season to their best finish ever and the top-seed in the Pacific Division by a large margin with a solid defensive game.

Head coach Dale Hunter came in with a no-nonsense approach when it came to defence, and the players revolted. Offensive players like Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green couldn't fall into their respective roles on the team, and it cost Hunter his job after the Capitals were eliminated from the playoffs.

Adam Oates, in being named as the head coach, was supposed to bring back the offence to Washington while guiding the team into a better defensive presence. Defence was the weak link again in the last two years, and it cost the Capitals a playoff spot this season as they were routinely fishing the puck out of the back of the net. It didn't help Oates that he leaned on Alex Ovechkin hard, and Ovechkin responded by posting his worst five-on-five stats of his career and an incredible -35!

While McPhee led the team to a Stanley Cup Final berth in 1998 and saw the team capture the President's Trophy in 2006, there were far too many collapses and disappointments as a franchise under McPhee. Mr. Leonsis may have said it best when he told reporters that it was time for "a fresh set of eyes".

Adam Oates' tenure was cut short due to some of the moves McPhee made as a general manager, but ultimately no one has been able to get this Capitals squad - whose care players have remained the same for the last six years - to play defence. Oates was supposed to find the balance between offence and defence, but he missed that mark greatly.

"We were a continuously improving playoff team until we weren't. And the last two seasons showed us that we need to improve. And that's what it came down to," Leonsis said. "[Capitals president] Dick [Patrick] and I said, 'We have to make that gut check. Do we have to change? And where do you start?' And you start with the coach and the general manager."

The search for Washington's new GM and coach starts now. Expect a complete change to the mindset under which this team is run. Whoever the GM is that is named will have a tall task on his hands when it comes to making some of the offensive players take a defensive approach to their jobs.

Will he have the guts? We shall see.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 25 April 2014

Carolina To Shuffle The Deck

Lost in all the excitement of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs was a small news item that the Carolina Hurricanes will reportedly call a news conference next week to announce that long-time general manager Jim Rutherford, seen on the left, will be stepping down from his position. This is rather shocking news considering that he is one of hockey's most respected executives, but Rutherford might actually want to retire after serving his team and its community so well for so long.

Rutherford has been the only general manager that the Carolina Hurricanes have had. He has been a part of the Whalers and Hurricanes for twenty years as the general manager, compiling a record of 534-486-156-20 with the franchise. His teams played in two Stanley Cup Finals, winning once over the Edmonton Oilers in 2006. He was also named as The Hockey News "Executive of the Year" twice and the Sporting News' "Executive of the Year" in 2006 after the Hurricanes captured the Stanley Cup. In short, the former NHL goaltender-turned-executive has done pretty well for himself over these last two decades.

Rutherford could stay on in his capacity as club president, and it seems likely that the man on his right in the picture above - Ron Francis - would step into the role of general manager. Francis is the vice president of hockey operations for the Hurricanes currently, so this transition shouldn't be too difficult for Francis to make.

There is a concern that the franchise will want to start moving high-priced talent to open doors for younger, less expensive talent to step in. While a rebuild is not being mentioned, the thought of moving pieces like Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, or Cam Ward seems to indicate that there will be some major renovations done at least. The Hurricanes would like to shed themselves of Cam Ward's contract, it seems, after a sub-par season, but we'll have to see what happens in the coming days with the announcement.

It will be interesting to see who replaces Rutherford as the Hurricanes look to build for the future. Dealing away key, high-priced talent may set them back in the short term, but it could help long-term if they are able to develop some great young talent. Rutherford certainly left his mark on the franchise, though, and his retirement from the general manager's position will leave a void in the ranks of the NHL general managers.

The second-longest tenured general manager is gone. Who is next to fall?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Hockey Show - Episode Eighty-Five

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, hits the airwaves tonight with a ton of news, chatter, and insight on the hockey world. Ok, so maybe there isn't a lot of insight, but we're going to have fun, so that's a plus. We're going to have an open show, and we're going to encourage calls on a new feature we're introducing tonight! In other words, the interaction level of this show will go up immensely with this new feature that we'll run weekly and with guests!

We'll, of course, look at the NHL Playoff scene. The Russian Roundup will be back for the second-last time tonight as Lev Prague and Metallurg Magnitogorsk are locked in a battle for the Gagarin Cup. We'll talk a little about the Paul Maurice re-signing for the Jets. We'll jump on the first elimination in Survivor: NHL Playoffs. But we're going to go off the rails and introduce this new weekly feature. Ladies and gentlemen, we invite you to play "3 Rounds Deep".

This is where you, readers and loyal listeners, come in. 3 Rounds Deep is a mock draft on any topic in the hockey world. Topics could include "Best Mascot", "Best American-born Players", "Best Nicknames In Hockey", or anything else under the sun. What Beans and I will do is draft three of whatever topic we choose. We can't repeat picks made by others and neither can you, so it will get a little tougher as people start participating. We'll start it off, then open up the phone lines and hit Twitter for everyone else to participate.

Here's how it will work...
Topic: Best Hockey Commentators of All-Time

Round One - Teebz: Foster Hewitt - CBC
Round One - Beans: Bob Cole - CBC

Round Two - Teebz: Chris Cuthbert - CBC/TSN
Round Two - Beans: Doc Emrick - NBC

Round Three - Teebz: Rick Jeanneret - Buffalo local
Round Three - Beans: Gord Miller - TSN
Once the draft has taken place, we invite you to contribute more. Call in or tweet, drop your three names/players/whatever and we'll add it to the list. If we have a guest on, we'll include the guest to participate, and then open the phone lines for discuss, criticism, cheering, booing... all the good stuff.

The key in this? We want your interaction. We're not going to denigrate you for your picks, but we may poke fun at you. However, our quaint little show is a talk show, and we want more interaction with people listening. That means you. So call us.

Going 3 ROUNDS DEEP tonight: Best fighters in hockey of all-time. You know what to do.

To get a hold of us tonight, call in at 204-269-8636 (204-269-UMFM) and we'll put you on the air. You can listen live on 101.5 UMFM from 5:30pm to 6:30pm CT tonight, and we're available over the web on any web-connected device on the UMFM website. You can tweet us your thoughts on the show, the topics, or your choices for 3 Rounds Deep at @TeebzHBIC! We want the interaction, though, and we'll put you and your thoughts on anything hockey-related on the air!

PODCAST: APRIL 24, 2014: Episode 85

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

In Fleury We Bust

I cannot understand Marc-Andre Fleury. It is unfathomable to me that one of the best regular-season goaltenders can be so bad in the playoffs. I get that the pressure is ramped up and there is a lot on the line, especially in the goaltending position, in the playoffs, but tonight's debacle was inexcusable. Granted, tonight's loss doesn't get put entirely at the feet of Fleury, but the Penguins were thirty seconds from a 3-1 series lead when Fleury decided to Conklin this series away for the Penguins.

For those who don't remember, here's Ty Conklin's gaffe in the Edmonton-Carolina Stanley Cup Final. Edmonton never recovered.


Devastating.

Here's Marc-Andre Fleury last night with the score 3-2 and thirty seconds remaining in the game.


Devastating.

The good news for Fleury is that the Penguins could still win in overtime. All he had to do is be sharp. Except, well, Fleury.


Devastating.

Again, I'm not sure how he puts up 40-plus wins in the regular season, yet can't beat the same team four times in a seven-game span. Both of those goals were entirely Fleury not concentrating on the puck, and both of them ended up in the net behind him and the Columbus horn blaring. That CANNOT happen in the playoffs if the Penguins expect to go far, and the momentum after last night's game is entirely on the Blue Jackets' side now.

People said Fleury had lost confidence. He had a fragile ego. He's not a playoff performer. I'm starting to think that none of those arguments are true. He simply may have ADD - attention-deficit disorder. Of course, I kid, and I'm not making light of those that do suffer from ADD, but both of those goals above show a clear lack of focus and concentration! How does this happen when you're thirty seconds from giving your team a 3-1 lead?!?

The plus that Pittsburgh can take from this game is that they posted a 3-0 score before squandering that lead. They have shown they can score on Bobrovsky who has also looked out of sorts in this series. There's also a two-day break before Game Five, so there will most certainly be video watched and practices ran. The Penguins also return home, so they may be able to feed off the Pittsburgh fans who, I'm sure, will be raucous and rowdy.

The fact that all four games have been won by the team who fell behind by at least two goals shows that these teams may need some adversity to play well. It seems to focus their attention on the tasks at-hand, and pushes them to play harder. However, the adversity should never come from within, and the Penguins are dealing with the same old story behind them where their trusted goaltender is giving them anything but trusted goaltending.

If the Penguins manage to survive this series, they should consider themselves lucky. If they don't, they have no one to blame but themselves.

Both of those hold true in spite of their goaltending.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Lightning Struck Down

The Montreal Canadiens followed the EA Sports prediction to a tee tonight, knocking off the Tampa Bay Lightning in four straight games. This series was supposed to be about two dominant goaltenders and a couple of key scoring threats, and it lived up to that billing for the most part. However, the Achilles' heel of this Tampa Bay team was, as we saw, their goaltending after Ben Bishop was injured. While mistakes were made, Anders Lindback was outplayed by Montreal's Carey Price and, in the end, was the defining reason why Montreal will move on and Tampa Bay will go home.

That's not say that there isn't other blame to be shared. Ryan Callahan, for all he was worth to the Lightning, failed to record a point in the series, was a -2, and only had five shots on Price in the four games played. It's hard to fathom why he believes he's worth more than $6 million per year when he failed to show up for the most important games in career at this moment. If you want to demand big money, it might help if you're a big-money player. Ryan Callahan did nothing to support this demand for a massive contract, and I'd be reconsidering the dollars and cents that Callahan is worth if I were Steve Yzerman.

There should be some blame tossed on head coach Jon Cooper. I get that he feels his team didn't catch a break in the series, especially when some of the calls against the team seemed entirely false. However, Cooper's biggest question mark may have came tonight when he had the option to pull Anders Lindback after the first period and replace him with Kristers Gudlevskis. Lindback struggled again last night, and it was apparent after the opening frame that he was fighting the puck once again. While Tampa bay did score a shorthanded marker to make it a 2-1 game, the Brendan Gallagher goal 1:10 after was a back-breaker. Cooper needed to give his team a fighting chance, and Lindback didn't help that cause. While I realize that hindsight is 20/20, Cooper should have made the move earlier, especially when you consider that Tampa Bay led for just 3:34 of the 258:08 played in the series. You will never win with that kind of stat.

General manager Steve Yzerman should also shoulder a bit of the blame. The St. Louis-for-Callahan trade backfired in the playoffs in a big way. Anders Lindback might be a capable backup netminder during the regular series, but there's a reason he's not starting for any NHL team. Lindback played 23 regular season games this year, posting a record of 8-12-2. His 2.90 GAA and his .893 save percentage are nowhere close to the level needed for a playoff goaltender. He carried those numbers into a playoff series where he'd have to better only to post a 3.91 GAA and an .881 save percentage.

While the Lightning were banking on Ben Bishop to be their top guy going into the playoffs, it's hard for me to believe that Steve Yzerman wouldn't have some sort of insurance plan in case Bishop got hurt. Bishop did get hurt, Lindback was thrust into the starter's role, and now the players are cleaning out their lockers after four games. There were goalies available at the deadline based on the vast number of moves made, and some Stanley Cup winners even went cheaply as Dallas now has Tim Thomas as their backup netminder. That's a fail on Steve Yzerman's part when Lindback proved he wasn't up to the task all season long.

The Lightning, though, had a great regular season, and they need to be commended for overcoming some incredible odds. The loss of Steven Stamkos for the majority of the season really put the strain on some of the kids they brought in from Syracuse, but Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, and Nikita Kucherov stepped up immensely in helping the Lightning overcome those odds. They secured home-ice advantage as the second-place team in the Atlantic Division without their star player for most of the season.

The trade deadline saw Martin St. Louis - the team's heart and soul - dealt to the New York Rangers after a spat between himself and GM Steve Yzerman. There is no doubt in my mind that the Lightning got weaker that day. St. Louis was the engine that drove the Lightning, and you could tell that Steven Stamkos' game suffered when he returned to the ice without his cross-ice setup man. Ryan Callahan, who was netted in the St. Louis deal, played well down the stretch as the Lightning finished strong, but Steven Stamkos was missing his setup man in a big way as Callahan never came close to filling that role.

In finished second in their division, the Lightning did have an excellent season despite the seemingly uphill battle they faced with injuries. However in the playoffs, they fell short because of a lack of goaltending depth, some key pieces who underperformed, and some management decisions that will need to be addressed. After all, success is measured in the NHL by how close you got to the Stanley Cup.

The Lightning fell 16 wins short of that goal.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Not Hockey, But He's Blood

The man in the middle is CBC journalist and Hockey Night in Canada reporter Scott Oake. Scott Oake has become a fixture on the late-game broadcasts as he hosts the "After Hours" segment on Hockey Night in Canada as well as doing some rinkside reporting during the game. Oake has been a fixture at the CBC, rising from his sports reporting gig at CBC Winnipeg to becoming one of hockey's respected interviewers and personalities. While Scott Oake has been front-and-center on Canadian TV, it appears that another Oake is making his mark, albeit on British television with talents that haven't been seen in a long, long time.

Scott's youngest son, Darcy, is an amazing magician! He's been seen around Winnipeg in some amateur magic shows, but Darcy went big on Saturday night when he made an appearance on Britain's Got Talent! No word of a lie: this performance should wow even the most accomplished magicians.

If you're a fan of The Incredibles, this should say it all...
Darcy turned in one of the most amazing magic performances ever seen on the program, even getting praise from Simon Cowell who called Oake, "The best magician we have ever had on this show." I have to admit that his abilities are amazing. I was floored by his act, and he deserves the praise he's receiving.

As he said in the video, though, it was his father, Scott Oake, who got the young man hooked on magic. When Darcy was ten, Scott showed him a card trick, but refused to reveal the trick for weeks. This, of course, drove Darcy crazy who tried in vain to replicate his father's magic trick. The seed had been planted, and Darcy Oake's love for magic grew like a weed.

Scott Oake, Darcy's father, really didn't dabble in magic professionally. According to his CBC bio, "Oake began his career by volunteering at the university radio station during three years of pre-medicine studies at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland. After two summers working at CBC-St. John's in radio and television, he was hired full-time in 1974." Pre-medicine, radio and television, amateur magician. Scott Oake is literally a man of many talents, and he was instrumental in his son's success!

Congratulations to Darcy Oake who got the vote of approval from Britain's Got Talent judges! This Winnipeg-born magician appears to be ready to set the world on fire with his act unless, of course, he turns it into a dove!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Bands And Other Groups

As you may well be aware, there are many kids who take band in school and may even attend band camp at some point if they feel they have some musical ability. Other kids may take band, never want to play music, and move on to bigger and/or better things like working for the CIA or FBI or some other organization. In any case, everyone becomes something important in life, and it seems hockey finds its way into each of those lives.

We'll start with some of those kids who decided band class wasn't for them, opting for studies in mathematics, linguistics, and other analysis techniques. The FBI hockey team seems to look a lot like the Winnipeg Jets in their new uniforms, posing next to the Stanley Cup. I have to admit that those are some fine-looking agents in those uniforms, though.

I'm not sure how many people saw this based on their early exit, but Russia's Alexander Ovechkin came ready to play in the Olympics in Sochi for at least the first few games. While the Russian team was a squad divided amongst itself within it own dressing room, Ovechkin's patriotic skates could not be mistaken for anything but Mother Russia.

If you're buying playoff tickets for hockey in Toronto, you might be getting ripped off a little. Keep your eyes peeled, Torontonians. Don't get duped!

Alright, let's get to the musicians because I have a few of those images. If you haven't stopped by the Musicians in Jerseys page yet, make sure you do because there are a load of musicians wearing hockey jerseys or hockey-related, one-of-a-kind paraphernalia.

The Replacements' Reed Fischer shows his appreciation for the Canadiens while Cee-Lo Green tweeted out his support for Montreal as the playoffs began!

Winnipeg has had its fair share of rock stars and hockey stars play in the city. Those two scenes crossed for a publicity photo when Bobby Hull and Burton Cummings got dressed up on the ice for a small community center in Winnipeg named Valley Gardens Community Center! That's a pretty awesome photo considering just how big these two men were in Winnipeg back in the 1970s!

Yes was an English progressive rock band who broke onto the music scene in the late-1960s and early 1970s. They were well-known for a few hits including Owner of a Broken Heart which could be considered their most-famous track. Drummer Bill Bruford routinely took the stage in Boston Bruins-adorned overalls! Perhaps the "B" in the center of the logo stood for "Bruford" when he wore it?

2014 Juno nominee Amanda Rheaume has been setting the Canadian music scene on fire with her latest album Keep a Fire. The Métis songstress from Manitoba didn't appear on MTS Centre ice to sing the national anthem, but she did get to do it in the nation's capital as she appeared in front of Ottawa Senators fans! Well done, Amanda!

While Edmonton Oilers fans were heaving their uniforms onto Rexall Place's ice this season, one musician did not. Daron Malakian of System of a Down was spotted in Rexall Place by the Oilers' PR staff, and they snapped this picture of Daron in his Oilers gear!

She may have been born in Phoenix, Arizona, but music has taken her worldwide and earned her a Grammy alongside Carlos Santana. I speak, of course, about Michelle Branch who decided to support the local hockey team when she stopped in Boston with her band The Wreckers! Michelle looks pretty good in a Bruins jersey!

I'm not sure how hockey became a mainstay on the rap scene in the 1990s, but we have another group that showed off their hockey love on their album cover. UGK is made up of the duo Bun B and Pimp C, and they hail from Houston, Texas. So it was a little confusing to see Pimp C in an Anaheim Mighty Ducks uniform on the cover of their 1994 album Super Tight.

Speaking of rap, there are a few heavy hitters who transcended the 1990s into today. One of those men is Method Man, and the Staten Island-born musician is certainly representing in his New York Rangers gear. I'm not sure of that pose, but the Rangers jersey looks pretty good.

So there are a pile of jerseys from different walks of life, and a shot of Ovechkin's patriotic skates and a bit of a laugh at the expense of Leafs fans. Again, stop by the Musicians in Jerseys page to see all the musicians caught wearing hockey jerseys, and if you want to send in pictures of musicians wearing or holding hockey jerseys, fire them off to me here!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Just A Phone Hearing?

Brent Seabrook is an excellent defenceman, a great NHLer, and one of my favorite rearguards in all of hockey. While I appreciate the offensive capabilities of Duncan Keith, Seabrook routinely is forgotten for all he does while Keith pushes the play up the ice. He's an Olympic gold medalist, so it's not like can't play at a high level. And that's what makes his hit on David Backes so confusing since he rarely throws a dirty hit when on the ice.

If you missed the hit today, here is the highlight so you're up to speed.
David Backes was clearly struggling during the scrum, and probably was seeing more stars than most astronomers. I'm not sure why Greg Millen credited Backes for trying to get into the crowd when any sort of contact to his head could have resulted in catastrophic injuries to a guy who has taken a few pops before. Seabrook received a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct for his hit while Backes' status post-game was simply listed as "day-to-day" as the trainers and medical staff worked to clear the fog he was in after that brutal check.

The Chicago Sun-Times caught up with Seabrook after the game, and they recorded his comments on the hit. Seabrook says all the clichéd stuff you'd expect during playoff hockey, but he does sound regretful that he hurt Backes.

Ok, so here's what we do know. Seabrook will have a phone hearing for this hit. Expect a suspension for at least one game, but more likely two games. That will remove him for at least Game Three in Chicago where the Blackhawks are playing must-win hockey if they hope to make this a series. Chicago's second-best defenceman, arguably, will be watching from the press box as one of Sheldon Brookbank or David Rundblad check into the series during the most critical time in Chicago's season. That's not really the kind of leadership one expects from their alternate captain.

This is not an attack on Seabrook, though. Instead, this is a major decision for the NHL and their disciplinary group. On the one hand, Brent Seabrook threw a hit that made contact with the head - clearly seen at the 2:27 mark of the video above - that resulted in Backes missing the remainder of the game and possibly more. This is a textbook case of what the NHL is trying its damnedest to eliminate and had punished harshly in the past.

On the other hand, to punish Seabrook as harshly as, say, a Raffi Torres or Matt Cooke for their headshots in the past leaves the NHL in an unenviable position. The Chicago-St. Louis series has been everything that people expected with its physicality, it's life-or-death gameplay, and the overtimes in both the games in St. Louis. If the NHL wanted entertainment, this is a gladiatorial war inside the Colosseum on ice. And the fans love it!

Personally, if this was a regular season game, I would be surprised if Seabrook was only getting a phone call. However, the NHL probably realizes the importance of this series for the entertainment value, and it knows that removing one of the key warriors in this Central Division battle may only hurt the product if it weakens Chicago for any period of time. Here's hoping Backes is able to return as well. Otherwise, this phone call could have serious ramifications on St. Louis' playoff chances as well.

The NHL is damned if it does, and damned if it doesn't. Yet it wins in both cases.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Because It's The Cup

With the final opening round series set to get underway tonight, there were a few photos of a second Stanley Cup making their way around the interwebs thanks to a brand-new attraction in Boston. The Legoland Discovery Center Boston opens in approximately one month, and I will tell you right now that I am a Lego freak. I love it. I can honestly say it may have been my favorite toy growing up and into my adulthood because it literally makes one creative. You can build anything, and, in saying that, the Legoland Discovery Center Boston constructed a replica of the Stanley Cup that has been popping up around Boston in a number of places. If the Bruins can play some creative hockey over the next few weeks, that could be the real Stanley Cup!

According to Legoland Discovery Center Boston's Facebook page, this replica of the Stanley Cup is made from "7,500 LEGO bricks, is 35 inches tall and 17 inches wide, and took more than 32 hours to design and build". Needless to say, it's a bit of an engineering feat! It looks pretty awesome, though, and you'll see that the Lego version of the Stanley Cup has been touring Boston finding all the Bruins on billboards, statues, and signage.

Players like Patrice Bergeron...

... and Bobby Orr...

... and even Blades got into the action with the Lego Stanley Cup!

That Stanley Cup is pretty awesome. I would love to see Lego raffle that thing off, but when you're talking about a three-foot trophy made from 7500 bricks, that would be a pain in the rear to ship to the winner. In any case, the Bruins got a little taste of the Stanley Cup courtesy of Lego's new Legoland Discovery Center Boston, and the newest Lego attraction is pulling for its hometown NHL squad this spring!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Hockey Show - Episode Eighty-Four

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, will be ready for some crazy fun tonight! The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs began last night, and we'll get everyone up-to-date on that. The KHL Playoffs are down to two finalists and the battle for the Gagarin Cup starts tomorrow, so we'll look at that series in the Russian Roundup. However, there is one big reason to tune in tonight, and if you're a fan of free gear, this might be for you!

SURVIVOR: NHL PLAYOFFS

There are a few requirements that I need to cover first. These are REQUIREMENTS, so if you can't fulfill them, please don't ruin the fun for someone else.
  1. You must call into the show on Thursday night between 5:30pm CT and whenever we fill all the spots in the contest. I will be sticking around to ensure we have all 16 spots filled with contestants, so don't think that your opportunity to get in ends when the show ends.
  2. You must have an email account so that we can send you info when needed. We won't be flooding your inboxes with spam, so don't think we're going to use of nefarious purposes.
  3. A desire to watch your chosen team's progress in the NHL Playoffs.
So there are the requirements that you must fulfill. That last one is pretty important in that if you have no interest in watching hockey, please don't take a spot. If you're not on email, I'm not sure where you've been for the last decade. And if you don't want to call in, don't complain about the availability of this contest. If you're calling long-distance to reach us, spend the fifty cents for us to get your info. We'll call you back. Good? Good.

Now, if you're aware of the Survivor pools, you basically just pick a name out of a hat, and that person on Survivor is your person for the run of the show. If he or she is voted off the island, the game for you is over. We're about to do the same thing.

We will have whomever calls in to select a number between one and sixteen. Those numbers will have a corresponding team assigned to them randomly. Whatever number you've chosen will select your team for the playoffs. Sounds easy, right?

For example, Beans calls in at 6pm. We put him on the air, and he chooses #7. The team associated with #7 is the Montreal Canadiens. Beans is now cheering for the Montreal Canadiens. I call in, and I chose #10. Team #10 is the New York Rangers. I am now cheering for the New York Rangers.

What we'll do is post the match-ups with the corresponding names on HBIC, and we'll let the games play out. If Montreal meets the Rangers, Beans and I will face-off in a Survivor-style match-up where one team will advance, and one team will be sent home/voted off the island. If Montreal beats New York in their in their series, my Survivor: NHL Playoffs is over.

Once a team is eliminated, we will call you back so that you may be ready to deliver your thoughts on your team's effort in the playoffs in a Survivor-style ending like the one below.
There won't be any money for the winner, but there will be prizes. But please don't whine like Jeff Kent did. You can say "my team sucks" or whatever, but we're working on getting those people who are eliminated on the air to discuss their teams' issues that led to their demise. Of course, you may not even care about the NHL Playoffs, but we do expect you to be able to speak about your chosen team's problems, so please watch SportsCenter at least!

As stated above, there will be prizes. Not everyone, though, will get a prize. Like Survivor, it will have to be earned through a challenge. We'll organize the winner's prize once we finish getting everything together, but here are some of the challenges: first team eliminated, first shutout earned, and first hat trick. Prizes will be awarded to the contestant who successfully wins these challenges, so there's hope for everyone in this contest in terms of possibly getting a prize.

Sound good? If you have questions, please email me. If you have comments, leave them below. If you simply hate this idea or hate me, leave that info in the comments too. I'd like to address all concerns before we roll this contest out. Thanks for reading, and here's hoping we hear from you tonight on 101.5 UMFM! You can also listen live on www.umfm.com, and you can reach us at 204-269-8636! Call us tonight once the contest opens!

PODCAST: APRIL 17, 2014: Episode 84

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

If You're Not Playing Hurt...

Ryan Getzlaf is a pretty important piece of the Anaheim Ducks. He centers their top line, he's become the de facto set-up man for Corey Perry, and he's been a leader since arriving in southern California. Getzlaf led his Ducks into Game One against the Dallas Stars, and was a factor early as he scored a goal on a deflection to put the Ducks up 2-0 en route to their 4-3 victory. Getzlaf, though, would finish the game in the dressing room after sacrificing his body in the win.

With Anaheim leading late in the third period and the Dallas net empty, the Stars were pressing in the Anaheim zone. Goligoski chased down a loose puck and threw a backhanded pass across to Tyler Seguin who wound up with the slapshot. However, the puck wobbled on the pass, and Seguin was able to under the puck a little more than I'm sure he would have liked. Getzlaf stood between Seguin and the net, and this is how Getzlaf's night ended.
Reports after the game have Getzlaf's cheek a little swollen and having a few stitches in it, but he will reportedly suit up for Game Two on Friday night. As the old saying goes, "If you're not playing hurt, you're not in the playoffs." Getzlaf will have a new scar to talk about this summer after his Game One experience.

"I think he's going to be OK, but he's probably going to have a little nasty cut on the side of his mouth," Boudreau told reporters after the game. "As far as I know, nothing else is there. But I'll know more tomorrow."

Anaheim, Pittsburgh, and Montreal were all winners on the first night of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. If you're in the HBIC Playoff Pool, game-winning goal-scorers included Matt Beleskey, Brandon Sutter, and Dale Weise, respectively, for those teams, so hopefully you scored a minimum of three points! Four games go tonight as Philadelphia travels to Madison Square Garden for a date with the Rangers, Chicago is in St. Louis, Minnesota goes mile-high at the Pepsi Center against the Avalanche, and Los Angeles will play the Sharks in San Jose.

Playoffs, baby! I love this game!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Pre-Playoff Hockey Notes

Tomorrow night sees one of sports' finest traditions begin again as the annual rite of not shaving begins around North America with the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs getting underway. The man to the left with the impressive facial hair is Emil Kåberg from last season's Orebro hockey club in Sweden. That, readers, is one heckuva playoff beard, and there's a good chance we may see a few NHL players sporting their own facial hair designs like Mr. Kåberg.

Playoff Pool Entries

I want to start off this entry with a big thanks to everyone who has entered into the HBIC Playoff Pool thus far. I am excited for this year's pool as there are still prizes rolling in, meaning we'll have prizes for a number of the top finishers. I also want to thank Mark Penxa and Rob Ullman as they've provided a few prizes, so expect to see their names a lot when talking about the HBIC Playoff Pool prizes. Those two guys are beyond awesome!

You have until puck-drop on Wednesday night to get those picks in, so head over to the entry page and get yourself signed up!

Florida Wins Lottery

There were no major surprises today in the NHL Draft Lottery except for the bottom-two teams in the NHL flip-flopping their order. Buffalo, who finished 30th, will draft at the second-overall position behind the Draft Lottery-winning Florida Panthers. It will be an interesting situation for Florida going into the draft.

The only position that has a lock on it is goaltending. Roberto Luongo is going to be there for the foreseeable future, and he's got a ton of time left on his contract. Drafting a goaltender first-overall is something that has happened before when Luongo was the bonafide starting guy, but I can't see that happening in Florida. Instead, I see them grabbing another talented forward or even Ekblad for their defence corps, and working some of the younger guys in as they did this year.

I can say that Winnipeg's insistence on winning meaningless games at the end of the season didn't do them any favors as they'll draft ninth-overall rather than at the fifth-spot that they were in one week ago. If you're out, why bother? I've never understood this.

Manitoban In Union

Mat Bodie is one of 2200 students at Union College in New York. Mat was born in Winnipeg, lived in East St. Paul, attended River East Collegiate, and played briefly in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League during his time here in Manitoba before landing at Union College for school.

Union College offers no athletic scholarships, meaning Mat's hockey acumen would have to be proven on the ice if he wanted to play NCAA hockey. Mat made the Dutchman squad, eventually becoming their captain this season in his senior year.

Saturday night, Mat got to leave the Dutchman program as a champion after Union had defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers 7-4 in the championship game. He scored the seventh goal for Union on the night into an empty net and set up two of the other six, factoring in on nearly half of the Dutchmen offence. He led the Union College Dutchmen on a 16-0-1 run, including twelve-straight wins to close out the season.

Winnipeg, Manitoba pride? You can bet Mat Bodie has it, and the entire city is proud of him!

There's Another Pool

This one is a little tougher to get into since there are a limited number of spaces, but the prizes will be excellent in this contest as well as The Hockey Show on 101.5 UMFM and www.umfm.com presents the second annual...
If you're a regular listener, you know that this contest is pretty insane. At approximately 5:35pm CT - five minutes after the show is on the air - we will open up the phones for the Survivor: NHL Playoffs contest to start. Callers will be required to pick a numbered envelope that contains a randomly-selected team inside, and that is the team that the caller will be associated with for the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It's very similar to office-style Survivor pools, but we run it with the sixteen teams participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs rather than the thirty-or-so players on Survivor. But because we're on the radio, we're not done with those that get in on the contest there. Oh, no... there's more!

If your team is eliminated, we'll call you so you can do your Survivor-style exit interview like you see at the end of every Survivor elimination. We want to hear why you thought your team was terrible. We want to hear you question the coach's decision and the hammer away on under-performing stars. In short, be candid, be honest, and be funny!

We'll go over all this stuff on Thursday night on The Hockey Show, so tune in for some fun and get qualified in the Survivor: NHL Playoffs contest!

EA Sports Calls It

If you're a fan of the NHL Hockey franchise owned by EA Sports, you'll be interested to know who they have predicted to win the Stanley Cup through their simulations at EA Sports Headquarters. Games were played, series were won, and only one team stood at the end. According to EA Sports, the 2014 Stanley Cup Champions will be the...
Boston Bruins!

Their simulations predicted that the Bruins would defeat the San Jose Sharks in six games with goaltender Tuukka Rask finishing the playoffs with a 1.56 GAA, .948 SV% and four shutouts to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Their simulations also showed that the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers would sweep Tampa Bay and Philadelphia, respectively, out of the playoffs in the opening round, that Chicago's defence of the Stanley Cup would end in the second-round in a seven-game loss to Colorado, and that the Rangers would meet the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final for a seven-game battle that would end with a Patrice Bergeron goal five minutes into overtime in Game Seven.

Keep an eye on these predictions, readers! We'll see how the EA Sports' simulation shakes down as the playoffs continue!

That's all for tonight, kids! The Stanley Cup Playoffs start tomorrow, so I'll be glued to the television for the next three months. If you need to reach me, just leave me a message and I'll get to it in July!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 14 April 2014

2014 HBIC Playoff Pool

The biggest annual contest on this site is back for yet another year of insanity as the 2014 HBIC Playoff Pool starts on Wednesday! Seedings have been decided, match-ups have been set, and the battles will start both on the ice and in the pool as the 2014 HBIC Playoff Pool gets underway! If you've participated before, you know this pool gets intense. If you've played before, you know there are some decent prizes to be had for those who qualify. And if you've entered before, you know that the annual HBIC Playoff Pool is 100% free of charge for any and all participants! Ready to have fun? Then let's get this show on the road!

If you're looking for the Round Two spreadsheet, click here!

MAKE SURE YOU READ TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS ENTRY FOR DETAILS! If it's an important piece of info, I have highlighted it in orange. Good? Good. Go.

Every year since the founding of HBIC, I have offered an absolutely-free hockey pool for my readers. There are prizes for those who perform well, and I am happy to do this for those of you who stop by here when you can. This year will be no exception as the pool will be free again, and there will be some great prizing available for those that rise above the rest. I can already guarantee the grand-prize winner will go home with a jersey, and there will be prizes awarded for at least the top-five participants. In other words, you have five shots at prizes right now, and there may be more coming based on availability.

RULES

  • Entrants will be required to pick the winner of each game for each series. In doing so, one will also choose the number of games played by the two teams in each series.
  • Entrants will be required to pick the game-winning goal scorer for each game.
Sounds pretty easy, right? No real strategy as to which team will go further, who is playing whom, and all that jazz. Points will be based upon your predictions in each game and series.
  • For each correctly-predicted team that wins the game, one point will be awarded. 
  • For correctly predicting the series length, two points will be awarded.
  • For correctly predicting the series length AND winning team, five points will be awarded. If one correctly predicts the series length and winning team, the two-point option is overridden by the higher-scoring option.
  • For predicting the player who scores the game-winning goal per game, that entrant will receive an additional two points per game per correctly-chosen player.
The following example should help you weed through the rules:
For the Pittsburgh-Columbus series, I predict that Pittsburgh will win Games 1, 2, 4, and 6. The Blue Jackets will win Games 3 and 5. I also predict that Chris Kunitz will score the game-winner in Game 1; Paul Martin in Game 2; Sidney Crosby in Game 4; and, James Neal in Game 6. Cam Atkinson will score Columbus' winner in Game 3 while Artem Anisimov will score the winner in Game 5.
If I correctly predicted the entire series (highly improbable with my record of prognostications) of Pittsburgh winning in six games with all my game-winner scoring choices being right, I would earn 23 points (6 for each correct game + 5 for correctly predicting length and series winner + 12 for each game-winning goal scorer).

The catch to this whole thing is that no one will be eliminated until the Stanley Cup is handed out. With each new round beginning, each entrant will be required to send in their picks just as they did in the previous round. This way, everyone has a chance at some free shwag. And everyone loves free shwag.

TIE-BREAKER

I would hazard a guess at there possibly being a tie between two or more people, so your tie-breaker, required at the start of the first round, is to name the team who will accumulate THE MOST PENALTY MINUTES THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE PLAYOFFS. Those who are tied will have their answers reviewed, and the entrant who picked the team with the higher PIM total for the playoffs will be crowned as the winner. Secondary tie-breaker, in case two entrants pick the same team for PIMs, will be number of series correctly predicted in length of games. For example, if Entrant A picks Boston and Entrant B picks Detroit, and Boston has the higher PIM total, Entrant A would be the winner. If tied, the entrant who had the most series wins would be the winner.

COST TO ENTER

The best part of the HBIC Playoff Pool? It's FREE! Always has been, always will be. You guys support me all year, so I feel I should give back when I can, and this pool allows me to do so.

You can enter at no cost, and the shwag is up for grabs. The only thing I ask, to be fair, is that you only enter once, please. Also, if you happen to miss a round, that's fine. Things happen, people get busy, no big deal. Just remember that you may find yourself in a very difficult spot if you miss any of the rounds because the point totals available in each round decrease with the lower total number of series being played. I won't be babysitting, so it's your job to enter as the Playoff Pool continues.

HOW DO I ENTER?

I will continue to use the email account specifically for the HBIC Playoff Pool simply because my normal email is ridiculously cluttered and I need some time to go through it. That being said, you MUST send all picks to this new email address: hbicplayoffpool-at-gmail-dot-com. Entries sent to any other email address that you have for me will be categorically deleted so that I can keep all of the HBIC Playoff Pool entries in one place. Clear? Nod your head. You don't want your Poolie Picks to go missing in my disorganized mailbox, do you?

Now to expedite the marking, I have created a pretty little Excel document that can be opened in both Microsoft Excel and OpenOffice Calc. Fill this out and send it back to me WITH YOUR NAME AS THE NAME OF THE EXCEL DOCUMENT (ie. Teebz.xls).

I want to be clear about something: I have an iPad and I use it regularly. I understand that some people want to use .numbers format from the Apple world, but it's a pain in the rear for me when scoring and updating. If you are going to use the .numbers format, please see if you can save the document in .pdf or some sort of common format between the Apple and Windows platforms. That's my only request from all participants!

Click here to download if you missed the link above.

And I think that about does it. If you have any questions, fire me an email here. DO NOT SEND YOUR PICKS TO THAT EMAIL! Follow the directions above to do so. Get your picks in by the puck drop in Game One of the first series on Wednesday to enter the pool! If you have some sort of issue with this deadline, please email ASAP so we can make arrangements!

May the best prognosticator win, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Playoffs, Baby!

Oh, Flyers fans. I hate the Flyers and their fans, but I love them for their witty interaction and die-hard love of their team. They still love their Broad Street Bullies, but they welcome a new breed if they play the game in the same vein as their beloved Stanley Cup-winning teams did. In short, the Flyers' faithful are ravenous, even rabid, come playoff time, and if they can't have the Stanley Cup, they'll take the blood of their opponents.

If you remember back a couple of weeks, there was chatter on HBIC about a great actor and friend of the blog named Dan Franko. Dan, a Washington Capitals fan, was learning to love the Flyers thanks to the work he was doing on a project. Well, that project is finished, and HBIC is proud to post this new piece by Chris Perillo featuring the great Dan Franko entitled Playoffs, Baby!

Pretty decent little film, right? Honestly, it's pretty funny to me simply because this is the kind of insanity that one has come to expect from Philadelphia fans. I mean, who tries to knock out their teeth to resemble Bobby Clarke? No one from any city other than Philly.

Of course, this entire video is poking fun at the Flyers and their fans, so please don't take this at face value. Chris is having a little fun with this video, and the guys in it aren't doing anything but being satirical about the craziness seen from Flyers fans. I'm a fan of the video, and I hope they'll do another!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Gagarin Cup Conference Finals

Two more teams would advance this week as the KHL's Gagarin Cup Playoffs went from four teams down to two teams with the conference finals being decided. Would there be upsets in this round? Could Mike Keenan's Metallurg Magnitogorsk team continue to plow through the Eastern Conference as the top-seeded team? Would Lev Prague be upset by Curtis Sanford and Lokomotiv Yaroslavl? Let's check out the action and find out who advances to play for the Gagarin Cup! And, as always, all overtime goals will be linked!

WEST - #3 Lev Prague vs. #8 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

Lev entered this series 8-2 after having swept Medvescak Zagreb and downing Donbass Donetsk 4-2. They became the first non-Russian team to advance this far, and were looking to keep the good times rolling. They would meet upset-enjoying Lokomotiv Yaroslavl who bounced two-time defending champion Dynamo Moscow out of the tournament in seven games before dispatching Ilya Kovalchuk and SKA St. Petersburg in six games under their 8-5 record.

GAME ONE: The hometown fans in Prague would see their team hit the scoreboard first in Game One. With Lokomotiv killing off a penalty, Niko Kapanen threw the puck back to Marc-Andre Gragnani who one-time passes it to Ondrej Nemec in the high-slot, and his one-timer find the net behind Sanford on the powerplay to put Prague up 1-0 at the 14:14 mark. 45 seconds later, the party was on in Prague as Jakub Klepis' long wrister from the point through traffic finds its way past Sanford, and it was 2-0 Lev Prague. Petri Vehanen wouldn't need any help on this night, but Niko Kapanen would score late in the game on a bad turnover by Lokomotiv for the 3-0 lead. Vehanen stopped all 32 shots he faced for the victory. LEV PRAGUE LEADS 1-0.

GAME TWO: Once again, Prague got their fans into the game early. Petr Vrana's pass from the left circle cross-ice while on the powerplay to Nathan Oystrick found the target, and Oystrick's one-timer was fished out of the net by Sanford for the 1-0 Prague lead just 11:36 in. We'll jump ahead to the 18:17 mark when Patrik Zackrisson picked up a rebound in amongst a few pairs of feet in the slot, and he roofed it past Sanford for the 2-0 Prague lead. 9:20 into the third period saw Lokomotiv with a two-man advantage, and Sergei Plotnikov's cross-crease pass to Yegor Averin left little chance for Vehanen as Lokomotiv cut the lead to 2-1. However, Vehanen stopped all the rest in posting 34 of 35 saves to help Lev Prague take this one by a 2-1 count. LEV PRAGUE LEADS 2-0.

GAME THREE: The series shifts back to Yaroslavl, Russia where Lokomotiv needs to find a way to break through the wall known as Petri Vehanen. Lev would open the scoring once again in this one, though. Petr Vrana circled the net, finding Martin Thornberg in the slot on the powerplay at the 17:44 mark, and his shot beat Sanford for the 1-0 lead. We jump to late in the second with Prague on the powerplay once more. Mikko Maenpaa's shot from the slot bounces around wildly before Thornberg's second powerplay goal from the left of the net finds twine with 40 seconds in the period, and Prague goes up 2-0. 3:43 into the third sees Nathan Oystrick's shot from the top of the circle deflected by the defenceman in front of him, and the puck sails past Sanford once more for the 3-0 Lev lead. Once again, Vehanen is perfect on this night as he stops all 25 shots in the 3-0 victory! LEV PRAGUE LEADS 3-0.

GAME FOUR: Lokomotiv fans packed Arena-2000 to cheer on their team as they looked to bounce back from the brink of elimination. Lev wouldn't open the scoring in the first period tonight, but they would in the second period. Calle Ridderwall's shot from the left wing is kicked out by Sanford, but Jiri Novotny was last to touch it as the rebound goes in off a back-checking defenceman at 4:04 to put Lev up 1-0. At the 14:25 mark with Lokomotiv down a man, Sergei Plotnikov forces a turnover at the blueline where Yegor Yakovlev picks up the puck with a full head of steam, makes a couple of nice moves including a toe-drag in the slot, and beats Vehanen shorthanded what has to be the prettiest goal of the Gagarin Cup Playoffs thus far. Make it a 1-1 game. 4:22 later, with Plotnikov in the box after another massive hit, Petr Vrana would set up Nathan Oystrick in the high slot, and his wrist shot goes top-shelf for the powerplay goal to make it 2-1 Lev. We jump to 13:45 of the third period where Sergei Konkov takes a pass from Jonas Holos to the top of the left circle, and his wrist shot finds its way through Vehanen's wickets to tie the game up at 2-2! Neither team could find a winner after sixty minutes, so we were off to overtime where we'd see a winner at the 19:41 mark!
Sergei Plotnikov, who had a big game, cleaned up the Vladislav Kartayev rebound to keep Lokomotiv alive with the 3-2 overtime victory in Game Four! LEV PRAGUE LEADS 3-1.

GAME FIVE: Could the magic continue for Lokomotiv as the teams returned to the Czech Republic? Like every game in this series, Lev Prague opens the scoring just 10:45 into the game. Jakub Nakladal's point shot is tipped by Michal Repik as he's being tackled, and the puck gets past Sanford for the early 1-0 lead. 4:46 later, Prague is on the powerplay when Niko Kapanen feeds Justin Azevedo at the top of the circle, and his shot past a screened Sanford puts the home side up 2-0! But Lokomotiv strike back just 1:20 later when Mikelis Redlihs feeds Geoff Platt out in front of Vehanen, and he goes high on Vehanen to cut the lead to 2-1. Jump to the second at the 5:56 mark, Michal Repik and Michal Birner break in on the two-on-one, and Repik feeds Birner for the shot, but Sanford stops it. However, the rebound was kicked right back to Birner, and he makes no mistake on the second attempt, putting Lev Prague up 3-1. With 2:55 to play in the period, Geoff Platt scores an incredible goal to cut the lead to 3-2! Petri Vehanen was the story in the third, stopping all eleven shots he faced, in helping Lev Prague to the 3-2 win! LEV PRAGUE WINS 4-1.

EAST - #1 Metallurg Magnitogorsk vs. #4 Salavat Yulaev Ufa

Metallurg had been cruising in the playoffs, looking like a true top-seeded team as they handily dispatched Admiral Vladivostok 4-1 before dumping Sibir Novosibirsk in a sweep. Salavat Yulaev Ufa needed seven games to get past Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod before dispatching Barys Astana in six games to make it to the Eastern Conference Final.

GAME ONE: Just 4:08 in, the visitors took the lead. Alexander Mereskin's shot from the left side is stopped by Metallurg's Vitaly Koshechkin, but the puck goes off him in the air to the far post where Denis Khlystov uses some nice hand-eye coordination to bat the puck out of midair into the net for the 1-0 Ufa lead. 4:04 later sees Metallurg on the powerplay where Francis Pare snaps a shot from the left half-boards that is stopped by Andrei Vasilevsky, but the rebound pops out to a wide-open Mikhail Yunkov in the slot and he buries it to square the game at 1-1. 4:02 after that goal, Andrei Zubarev has the puck behind the Magnitogorsk net when he spots Teemu Hartikainen skating into the left face-off circle. Pass, shot, and goal by Hartikainen makes this a 2-1 game for Ufa. At the 17:57 mark, another beautiful goal is scored when Bogdan Potekhin pokes the puck past Alexei Kaigorodov at center ice for the breakaway! Potekhin opens up Vasilevsky with a backhand-forehand move before sliding the puck between his legs for the 2-2 equalizer! 6:26 into the second period sees Danis Zaripov behind the net with the puck, and he spots Sergei Mozyakin cruising into the zone down the right side of the slot. A tape-to-tape pass and a nice shot to the far side of the net past Vasilevsky puts Metallurg up 3-2! From there, it was all goaltending. Neither team could solve the men in between the pipes, meaning that Metallurg Magnitogorsk takes Game One by the 3-2 final. METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK LEADS 1-0.

GAME TWO: Just 9:26 in with Magnitogorsk on the powerplay, we get the opening goal. Chris Lee feedd Danis Zaripov at the top of the right face-off circle, and Zaripov's one-timer beats a screened Andrei Vasilevsky to put the home side up 1-0! Ufa would even the game with just one second in the period, though, when Teemu Hartikainen sends Antti Pihlstrom in the on the partial breakaway, and he avoids the Vitaly Koshechkin's poke-check to put the puck behind him for the 1-1 equalizer. 3:13 into the second period, Andrei Zubarev's blast from the point goes wide off the endboards to an uncovered Igor Mirnov, and he makes no mistake in potting the powerplay marker as Koshechkin was out of position for the 2-1 Ufa lead. We'll jump ahead to 9:10 of the third period where Yaroslav Kosov, wearing #68, looks like the more famous #68 as he jukes and plays keep away against a defender. After turning towards the net, Kosov spots Francis Pare with his stick on the ice, and the cross-crease pass leads to an easy tap-in for Pare and the 2-2 score. The final horn would sound with that same score, so it was off to overtime for some free hockey. However, free hockey would need a full period plus 1:05 to determine a winner in this one.
How do you let the leading scorer in the playoffs get that open to the right of your goaltender? Furthermore, who the heck was Ivan Vishnevsky covering on the left side? There's no one there! Sergei Mozyakin's backhander past Andrei Vasilevsky seals the deal for Metallurg in the 3-2 overtime victory. METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK LEADS 2-0.

GAME THREE: With the series shifting to Ufa Arena, Salavat needed something to go right for them if they hoped to make a series out this. Just 3:51 in, things would start right. Igor Mirnov's pass from the right face-off circle to the slot where Antti Pihlstrom is crashing finds Pihlstrom's tape, and the deflection is spot-on for the powerplay goal and the early 1-0 Ufa lead. We'll jump to the third period with that same score, and Ufa makes it a two-goal game. Alexander Stepanov fights off a defender to throw a backhand pass into the slot as he wheels behind the net, and Anton Slepyshev cashes in that pass at 5:28 mark for the 2-0 lead. 40 seconds later, with Magnitogorsk's Tim Brent watching from the sin bin, Kirill Koltsov's point shot is tipped in front by Antti Pihlstrom, and the puck finds its way past Koshechkin for the 3-0 Ufa lead. 8:14 after that has Ufa on the powerplay once more, Tomas Zaborsky finishes off a nice passing play in the slot for the 4-0 Ufa lead. Vasilevsky would only need one goal on this night as he stopped all 22 shots he faced for the shutout, but Ufa provided four in the 4-0 victory! METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK LEADS 2-1.

GAME FOUR: This game's opening goal comes in the second period. With Metallurg on the powerplay, they work the triangle passing extremely well. Jan Kovar send it down from the circle to Sergei Mozyakin down-low off to the left of the net who one-time passes it to Viktor Antipin in the slot. Antipin's one-timer finds twine behind Vasilevsky for the powerplay marker, and Metallurg leads 1-0. Vasily Koshechkin would be the story in this one, denying all 39 shots he faced from Ufa, and Ufa takes Game Four by the slimmest of margins thanks to Koshechkin's shutout in the 1-0 win! METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK LEADS 3-1.

GAME FIVE: With the series shifting back to Magnitogorsk, Salavat finds themselves with their backs against the walls. It's do-or-die time, and this one was a goaltending duel! I don't normaly show goaltending highlights in this one, but Andrei Vasilevsky was simply ridiculous at times in this game!
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? That's playoff goaltending, readers. Do anything you have to in order to keep the puck out of your net. Amazing saves there! However, neither goalie would allow a goal through regulation time, so it was off to overtime, tied 0-0, to determine a winner. And just 1:12 into the extra frame, we found the winner.
Bogdan Potekhin's pass out to the high slot found Yaroslav Khaborov, and his shot found the back of the net after 61 minutes of play for the 1-0 overtime victory! METALLURG MAGNITOGORSK WINS 4-1.

So that will leave just two teams standing: the Russian-based Metallurg Magnitogorsk versus the Czech-based Lev Prague.
Magnitogorsk finished the season with 108 points to Lev's 99 points based on more regulation-time wins, but teams look pretty even when comparing stats. However, the two regular-season games saw Metallurg rally in the third period of both games to salvage points. The game on October 7, 2013 saw Metallurg rally from a 2-1 deficit and a 3-2 deficit in the third period to tie the game 3-3 before winning 4-3 in overtime. The January 5 game had Metallurg trailing 2-1 entering the third period before the Russian squad scored three times en route to a 4-2 win. Needless to say, Lev needs to be better at holding leads against Magnitka if they hope to win this series and their first Gagarin Cup!

The Gagarin Cup Final starts on April 18! We'll have a recap after the series is over, and we'll look at who won, who lost, who played well, and who did not!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!