Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Hockey Show - Episode 137

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is back tonight with a very special guest as the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs is over and the second round begins. We never really got into our thoughts on the Jets losing four-straight games to exit the playoffs at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, but we did hear a number of excellent hockey parody songs last week on the show. You should download that podcast and listen to it. In any case, we chose a winner of the parodies we went through, and we talked about bringing the winner on. Well, tonight's show is all about the young lady who we chose as having the best hockey parody song!

The young lady seen to the left is Miss Tally Deushane, and she's the singer behind the awesomely-written "Mumps Face" song based on Taylor Swift's "Blank Space". The video is linked at the bottom, but she's quite the accomplished YouTube songwriter! We're going to speak to her about growing up in Georgia, how she found the sport of hockey, why she loves it so much, the heartbreak of losing the Thrashers, and much, much more. She's also been featured in a major publication, been linked into to Hollywood, ran her own hockey podcast, and found out that Winnipeggers on Twitter and across the world need a wake-up call. I'll speak more to this in a second, but we're proud, honoured, and privileged to have Miss Deushane on the show tonight and hope to able to call her a friend in the future!

Miss Deushane has informed me that she does have a bit of a problem with Winnipeg in general, and it stems less from us buying and moving the Thrashers and more from people giving her a hard time about being a hockey fan in Georgia. Yes, the wound never heals when one loses a team one loves dearly, and I think Winnipeggers can attest to that fact after having seen the Jets move to Phoenix. So the question we need to ask our listening audience in Winnipeg is why would you pour salt on the wound of a hockey fan who lost her team?

Miss Deushane has been harassed via social media and through the media in Canada over her lamenting the loss of the Thrashers which is entirely unfair. We're going to get into some of that tonight with her because she deserves none of that. If you partook in this harassment of Miss Deushane, you're despicable. While we can only speak for ourselves on the air tonight, Miss Deushane will get an apology from us on behalf of the meatheads that decided it was cool to harass her. It's not. Nor will it ever be. Got it? Good.

Here's the winning parody song that we chose last week. Miss Deushane does a fantastic job on the ukulele, and her parody is top-quality in terms of staying true to the song and to the situation about which she sings. Check out "Mumps Face" by Tally Deushane!

The phones will be closed tonight with Miss Deushane as our phone guest. We're always live on 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! You can tweet me anytime you like by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show. It's an all-music show tonight as we look at hockey parodies on The Hockey Show!

Also, if you're on Twitter, you're going to wanna check out the Periscope video we're tossing up before the show starts. You'll get a birds-eye view of the insanity that goes on before the show as we get ready. The best part? You'll be able to ask me questions pertaining to anything happening at that moment or on the show tonight. Periscope doesn't work so well for phone call guests, but we may do this with in-studio guests if they're cool with it. We want to give it a shot tonight, so if you're on Twitter do us a solid and tune in and say hi!

PODCAST: APRIL 30, 2015: Episode 137

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

No Time To Rest!

The HBIC Playoff Pool pushes on tonight as no one gets a night off. The Round Two series begin tomorrow, so we're going to hit the ground running. I am typing this as Game Seven between the Lightning and Red Wings is being played, and the links will go live the moment the final horn sounds on this game and series. Some of you have played the first round extremely well. Others have some ground to make up. There's a new wrinkle to help you make up a pile of ground, but you're going to have to dial in and come up with something amazing. We'll talk about that in the next paragraph as we prepare for Round Two of the HBIC Playoff Pool!

Ok, so you may be asking about this "Risk It!" option. Essentially, it's a lot like Jeopardy's Daily Double. You can risk all or some of your points that you've acquired in the previous round up to the number of points you have acquired. For example, if you have 30 points, you can risk all or some of your 30 points on one series in the next round.

To successfully win the "Risk It!" opportunity, you need to call a perfect series. You must call the winner of every game in your chosen series correctly which, of course, means you called the right length of the series as well. If you do this, you'll double the amount of points you risked! However, if there's an error in your prediction, you'll lose the amount of points you risked. Let's look at an example.
If I risked 20 points of my total points on that series and I called each game correctly, I'd pick up an additional 20 points for calling tat series correctly. However, if Calgary wins Game Two and Anaheim wins Game Three, I'd lose the 20 points I risked despite me calling the series in the right number of games.

In other words, there's a big risk in going for the big reward. However, a number of you called series correctly in the first round. A few people picked the Ducks to sweep the Jets, a vast number called the Nashville-Chicago series correctly, and a number of people had the Rangers-Penguins series correct. It's not unheard of to call a series perfectly, but it is harder than just calling the right team in the right number of games. That's why there's a big risk-big reward aspect.

The other catch to this is that if you risk a number of points on a series, you get no points from the series you called except for the game-winning goal scorers. So even if I had called Anaheim in five games and had Games Two and Three wrong, I'd walk away with zero points because I gambled. This makes it even more important to be correct because you're not only gambling with points you have, but you're gambling away potential points you could earn. Like I've been emphasizing, big risk for a big reward.

Of course, you're probably saying that you have no idea how many points you have at this juncture because you haven't been keeping score. I completely understand. The leaderboard will go live on Friday, so you're probably going to be wondering how many points you can risk.

I'll tell you this information right now: everyone scored more than 20 points, no one scored more than 53 points, and the average score in the opening round was 37. Use those figures for now to determine how many points you'd like to risk if you so choose. If you want your exact total, please see the email directions below. Ok? Ok.

Because this is the first round with the "Risk It!" option, if you prefer to just write "RISK" in the "Risk It!" column, I'll contact you and we can determine if this option is a good option for you and how many points you'd like to risk. Yes, I'm allowing a mulligan in this round so that people who may have second-thoughts about risking a pile of points won't be penalized if they change their minds. This mulligan, however, only exists in this round. Plan accordingly.

With Tampa Bay having just defeated Detroit by a 2-0 score in Game Seven, Round Two of the HBIC Playoff Pool is open! Download the spreadsheet here for Round Two! Fill it out and send it back to me WITH YOUR NAME AS THE NAME OF THE EXCEL DOCUMENT AND R2 AT THE END(ie. TeebzR2.xlsx) to this email address only!

Click here to download if you missed the link above.

If you'd like to know your point total, fire me an email here with the subject line "RISK IT". DO NOT SEND YOUR PICKS TO THAT EMAIL! Follow the directions above to do so. Get your picks in by the puck drop of the Anaheim-Calgary series on Thursday! 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!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Old Vs. New

Tomorrow's Game Seven features a dichotomy not unlike the character differences seen in the movie Se7en starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman. Morgan Freeman is the aged, methodical detective who never leaves a stone unturned in his search for justice. Brad Pitt is the upstart, emotional, impulsive detective who acts on impulse and follows what he believes is true regardless of how much truth that belief holds. These characters are not unlike the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively, and it will be interesting to see who wins in tomorrow's battle of student vs. master.

Tampa Bay's role as Detective David Mills lacks a maturity that is shown by his counterpart. While Detective Somerset - the Red Wings - take their time, rarely get show emotions, and continually look for clues, Mills likes to feed "off his emotions" when pursuing a lead. The Lightning are no different. They try to change things up on the fly, utilizing the stretch pass far more than one sees in the playoffs. Head coach Jon Cooper accused the Red Wings of cheating, showing some of that emotional response to the game. They like to run and gun - something Mills gets in trouble for in the movie - and have yet to show the edge necessary to go deep in the playoffs.

On the flip side, Detective William Somerset is a perfect representation of the Detroit Red Wings. Like Somerset, the Red Wings have been through the blood, sweat, and tears of playoff wins and losses before on many occasions. They rarely look frustrated or flustered in a game, and they often find ways to victory that other teams would not. Having that veteran presence like Somerset, the Red Wings play their systems well, capitalize on opportunities created through their system, and often find themselves on the right side of the win-loss ledger. I could imagine their pregame music to be the methodical sound of the metronome that Somerset listens to in terms of how the Red Wings go about their business.

While hardly a Pyrrhic victory at the end of this series, it will be interesting to see who advances between the new kids in town and the old guard. Let's just hope that there are seven less murders at the end of tomorrow night's game.

Pool Update

There have been some great totals posted in the first-round of the HBIC Playoff Pool thus far. We still have one game to go so there is a possibility for some to pick up an additional eight points off that game (1 for the right team, 2 for the game-winning goal-scorer, and 5 for the series correctly predicted). The high score as of right now is 53 for the opening round with the mean score coming in around 37 points for the round. Of course, those numbers may change based on the events of tomorrow evening's final score.

I will post the info for the next round tomorrow, but the links will not go live until the final horn on tomorrow's game. That means the spreadsheet will not be available until that time, so enjoy the game tomorrow evening and then fill out your grid afterwards.

Also, I will remind everyone that the new wrinkle of risking and betting points on a series outcome will be explained in great detail tomorrow because you all have points at this time. Literally, anyone can still be in first-place by the end of the next round, so put your thinking caps on, weigh your options with regards to risking points, and let the chips fall where they may!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 27 April 2015

The End Of The Coliseum

Um, you might want to check that graphic, NBC. I'm not sure who's running the show at that local NBC station, but there won't be a Game Eight in the Islanders-Capitals series after the Capitals defeated the Islanders 2-1 tonight in Washington. It was a vicious battle between these two teams, and the officials allowed the gladiatorial battles seen tonight by swallowing their whistles.

It's hard to believe, but the NHL's oldest building will no longer be in play next season with the Islanders moving to the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn. There were many memories at the building affectionately called the "Mausoleum", including four Stanley Cup celebrations, but the old barn has had its run and needs to be laid to rest. Yes, it's tough to let go after all these years, but with no new arena on the horizon, it's on to greener pastures.

I feel for the fans and the staff who worked at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. They get no say as to their following of the team or their employment. All they know is that the team that gave them something to relate in will no longer be there. Take, for example, this tweet from Miss Hjertkvist.
That hits home when you read it and realize that Miss Hjertkvist's job literally evaporated when the final horn sounded in Washington tonight. It's those people who I feel for when considering the impact that tonight's Game Seven loss had on a community.

Unfortunately, the fans and arena staff mean little in the big business of filling seats, selling merchandise, and turning a profit in the NHL. While it might have been the NHL's worst arena considering its 1972 opening date, there's a certain kitsch to the arena that will be missed.

So it's time to say good-bye to the arena that once housed the ABA/NBA New York Nets. It's time to say good-bye to one of two venues in the USA that saw Pink Floyd's The Wall Tour in 1980. And it's time to say good-bye to the arena that saw the Islanders win four Stanley Cups.

The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum: we won't see another one like it.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

This Summer's Project

Every year, HBIC embarks on an ambitious project or two that usually brings to light some new information I had never known before. It's a fun time for me because I get to dig through some history as well as learn a thing or two along the way. One of the things I'm going to try to do this summer is highlight all the great players who have played in the NHL from my home province of Manitoba. I think there's a distinct lack of recognition in my province about the vast number of excellent hockey players who have come from all over this great province, and we routinely see their impact in the NHL and the Stanley Cup Playoffs but rarely ever mention their roots. There have been a number of great players, including the pictured Ken Wregget, who have done some impressive things in their careers both in and out of the NHL.

There are the obvious players who I will highlight in Jonathan Toews and Bobby Clarke, but we here in Manitoba seem to forget about players like Andy Bathgate, Butch Goring, Grant Ledyard, and James Patrick who have done some pretty incredible things in their careers. There are a ton of players who came out of Winnipeg, but what about the small towns like Swan River, Deloraine, Morweena, Riverton, and Hamiota? They have seen a few of their kids ascend to greatness in the NHL and on the international stage, and we'll take a look at a number of these great players.

This won't just focus on the NHL players either. We'll talk women's hockey, AHL, IHL, and every other HL out there as we look back on some of the greatest Manitoba-born players to have tied on the skates. It seems as though there are a pile of women who quietly go about their business after being born here and playing in big games in international, NCAA, and CWHL hockey, so I'm pledging to feature a number of these women in these profiles as well. You'll see names like Botterill, Small, and Larocque on the women's side, but we'll also talk about names like Bram, Bestland, and Krzyzaniak.

Mixed in with the player profiles will be profiles on some of the executives and coaches that have helped to shape the world of hockey throughout history. There have been a pile of great minds from Manitoba who have worked behind the benches and in the front off of various teams, and we'll sift through some of those names such as Shero, Fleming, Murray, and Heisinger. These men ave seen it all in their careers - the highest of highs and the lowest of lows - and they all left their mark on hockey. You might even meet some interesting fellows who have taken their coaching abilities outside the Canadian and NHL borders and left their marks on other countries such as Dave Henderson.

For some fun, I'll also mix in a few odds and ends such as officials, mascots, and other people who make the game enjoyable. While I won't pull the curtain back on a mascot and reveal the man inside, there's a certain enjoyment from seeing a mascot have some fun in the crowd. Mick E. Moose, who moved from the AHL to the NHL when the Manitoba Moose left town, has had a great run of being an identifiable part of the Jets, so we'll explore that side of the coin too.

All in all, this summer's project has a great feel to it as I spend some time in neighbourhoods and towns that I may normally never visit to get some perspective on where these men and women got their starts. I'll try to include photos of key sites where they made their marks, and, if I can make contact, I'll see if I can get some of these awesome Manitobans onto the radio show!

The summer season starts shortly, and there are a pile of stories waiting to be told!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Big Lead Leads To Big Loss

Vancouver Canucks fans are going to look back on this loss and ask how it all came unraveled. Everything was coming up roses as the Canucks built a 3-0 just ten minutes into Game Six, and it appeared that Canucks fans would be getting ready to fill Rogers Arena once more for Game Seven. Instead, the Flames showed no fear and proved they have the resolve of a veteran-laden team in outscoring Vancouver 7-1 over the next fifty minutes. With that, the Flames sent the Canucks to the visitors' dressing room in the Saddledome shaking their heads as their season came crashing down around them.

It appeared that the Canucks would take their 3-0 lead into the first intermission after seeing Brandon McMillan, Jannik Hansen, and Radim Vrbata stake them to their early lead. However, Michael Ferland, who has been a thorn in the side of the Canucks in this entire series, tapped in the cross-ice pass from Matt Stajan past Ryan Miller, and the Flames were on the board.

As it has been all season with this Flames team, it seems that the moment they find the spark results in them lighting the fire as they get fired up. The Canucks had to know that Ferland's goal would ignite the Sea of Red as well as the Flames, and it didn't take long for the wildfire to start spreading. By the end of the second period, it was 4-3 for the Canucks and you could sense that the shell shock was starting to set in after having lead by three goals just thirty minutes earlier.

Calgary was the more physical team in this series. Calgary took advantage of every opportunity given and created more scoring chances for themselves. Like they did in the regular season, they forechecked like demons using their speed and size to create turnovers and cause chaos. Players like David Jones, Michael Ferland, Kris Russell, and Matt Stajan become more than just role players as they stepped into the spotlight for the Flames. Matt Stajan's goal in the third period was the first playoff goal of his career at age of 31!

"It felt great," Stajan told reporters after playing in his ninth playoff game in his career. "We scored it and the first thing that came to my mind was we still have five minutes here to finish them off. Looking back now and sitting back, it's so special. It's been such a tough year for my family and this team has been great all year. We found a way and we found a way tonight and to be a part of this, it's amazing."

Remember that this is a team that lost their captain and potential Norris Trophy candidate in Mark Giordano. There were whispers that without Giordano the Flames would slide into non-playoff status as their best player all season was sidelined with a torn tendon in his biceps. Giordano's 48 points were tied for the lead among NHL defensemen and tied for the lead on the Flames. Instead, the Flames, like a good wildfire, rose up again and burned a path into the playoffs with big wins over Nashville, Dallas, and Los Angeles down the stretch. No matter the setbacks, the Flames have risen to the occasion.

For the Canucks, there will be many questions that need to be answered. It was thought that Ryan Miller could carry the Canucks deep into the playoffs after he was signed, but, like last season with St. Louis, Miller finds himself out of the playoffs after one round. Eddie Lack's magic at the end of the season was snuffed out by the Flames as well, so there are a few questions about their goaltending.

There will questions about an aging defence corps that showed nothing past Alex Edler and Chris Tanev. Edler and Tanev had a combined six assists, +7 rating, four penalty minutes, and ten shots. The four remaining defencemen - Luca Sbisa, Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, and Yannick Weber - combined for one goal, three assists, a -10 rating, 44 penalty minutes, and 29 shots including an oh-for-13 in shots for power-play specialist Weber. The Flames consistently exposed the lack of foot speed that the Canucks have, and it's a big reason why the Canucks are heading home to clean out their lockers.

Ryan Miller was blunt in his assessment. "It's frustrating. We got a lead and couldn't hold it. There's nothing else to say."

That pretty much says it all. The Flames will visit Anaheim in the next round while the only round that the Canucks will partake in is a round of golf. A 101-point season means nothing if you can't win four in the playoffs against a team who finished lower than you in the standings. Questions will circle this Vancouver team now with the Sedins closing in on retirement age.

Has their window closed?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Gotham Defeats The Penguin

Five games were played by the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Rangers will advance on the strength of four 2-1 victories in the series. While some will point to the New York Rangers' outstanding record in the regular season as being proof enough that they were going to advance easily over the Penguins, the games were much closer than a lot may have predicted. In the end, though, Gotham triumphs over the Penguins as the Rangers move onto Round Two.

People can talk about the injuries to the Penguins as being an excuse, but there aren't any teams who can lose their top three defencemen, a first-line winger, and a second-line centerman superstar without feeling a few effects. Malkin was hurt, Pascal Dupuis' loss in the lineup was never made up, and having all three of Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, and Christian Ehrhoff out of lineup forced players into roles in these playoffs that they were never supposed to see.

It also didn't help that David Perron, Maxim Lapierre, and Daniel Winnik did nothing to help the team when they were needed most. Perron had one helper and was a -1, Lapierre went pointless and -2, and Winnik was held pointless and recorded a dreadful -6. These were three players the Penguins traded for this season, and none of them showed up in the playoffs.

In the end, you can blame Malkin or the injuries or the lack of production from some key players, but the one player that the Penguins seemingly never replaced this season was Pascal Dupuis. Make no mistake that Dupuis is the engine that makes the Crosby-Kunitz-Dupuis line so good. He chases down loose pucks, he forechecks like a demon, he battles in the corners, and he can score. Dupuis is the hustle guy the Penguins sorely needed, and his loss early in the season to a blood clot was clearly evident in how the Penguins finished.

“We're missing some guys. All year. It's tough to get your rhythm as far as team identity. I'm not using that as an excuse by any means. We still found a way to get ourselves into the playoffs,” Sidney Crosby told reporters after Game Five.

However, we must give the Rangers credit for doing what they had to do in dispatching the Penguins. Lundqvist was solid in net and they got great contributions from guys like Derek Brassard, Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, and Carl Hagelin in putting the Penguins out. Rick Nash, who had four goals in 37 playoff games with the Rangers prior to this series, had a goal and three assists while Martin St. Louis had just one assist. Clearly, the Rangers were getting major contributions from players outside their two superstars. That's playoff hockey.

Defensively, the Rangers look solid. McDonagh and Dan Girardi are anchoring this very mobile unit that features Keith Yandle, Marc Staal, Dan Boyle, and Matt Hunwick. They gave the Penguins very little ice to work with in this series, and they like to play physical. Only Hunwick didn't record a point in the series from the Rangers' rearguards, so this bodes well as the Rangers press on. With Lundqvist's outstanding play, this team might be poised for another deep run if they can get their offence to start firing on all cylinders.

In the end, Marc-Andre Fleury deserved better, but the team in front of him was held together with duct tape and chewing gum. You can point fingers at GM Jim Rutherford for the salary cap issues at the end of the season, but there's no way that he could have predicted that he'd be without his three best defencemen, a top-six forward, and employing a superstar playing through pain. Forcing depth guys like Rob Scuderi, Ben Lovejoy, and Brian Dumoulin into top-six defencemen roles was asking for trouble.

The Rangers were the better team, but only because Pittsburgh couldn't ice their best team. Like The Penguin in Batman, though, the Penguins will go back to the drawing board as they were vanquished by the Blueshirts of Gotham.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Hockey Show - Episode 136

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is back tonight with a fun show. Yes, the Jets were eliminated in four-straight games last night and we will talk about that, but tonight will bring together the worlds of hockey and music! There have been lots of hockey-related parodies of hit songs over the years, and Beans and I will look at a handful of them tonight as we dive into the hockey parodies!

While Weird Al Yankovic won't appear on tonight's list, he's probably the greatest artist when it comes to parodying hit songs. I will say there are some duds in the hockey parody world and we'll look at a few of these, but we'll focus on some of the better ones as we look at hockey's greatest parodies. We'll feature songs about the Jets, the Flames, the Canucks, the Oilers, the Senators, the Leafs, the Red Wings, and a couple other that don't really fit into a team song category. There are some excellent parodies in the groupings we have, and we'll debate the merits of each of the songs we feature on The Hockey Show tonight!

The phones will be open tonight so you can weigh in on the parodies as well, so call us at 204-269-UMFM (204-269-8636) and we'll put you on the air! Of course, we will be live on 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! You can tweet me anytime you like by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show. It's an all-music show tonight as we look at hockey parodies on The Hockey Show!

PODCAST: APRIL 23, 2015: Episode 136

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Bandwagon Jumping

That'll do it. The Jets fell tonight in Game Four of their series with the Anaheim Ducks by a 5-2 score, and were swept out of the playoffs. Let's give credit where credit is due: the Ducks are a helluva team. Ryan Kesler was a force to be reckoned with every night, Jakob Silfverberg showed up in a big way, Perry and Getzlaf were their point-producing selves, and Fredrik Andersen was as good as he needed to be to end this series in four games.

The Jets showed as much fight and moxie as possible when you consider that they were taking on a powerhouse Ducks team, but it was too little in the end. Despite doing all they could to upend the Ducks, it wasn't to be in this year's playoffs. The experience, though, will be invaluable from both the last month of the season and this one week of playoff action for the young Jets, and that bodes well for the future.

The question now is to whom do I shift my loyalty? There are a few teams that deserve a follow for the way they play the game. I like the way the Flames play the game, the Blackhawks have always been a team I've followed thanks to the number of local kids playing for them, I'm a Penguins fan, and I secretly root for the New York Islanders because they never seem to get any love. So who becomes my de facto "go team go" team?

I'll probably end up cheering for all of these teams as the playoffs progress in one way or another. It's just hard to be so invested in your local team to have to swap allegiances so quickly. We didn't even get a week of playoff hockey to celebrate as the Jets were ousted in six days to become the first team voted off the island. That's how the cookie crumbles, though, and the dream is now over.

Hey now, hey now, don't dream. It's over.

Until next season, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Hawaiian Tropic

Thee have been rumors of expansion in the NHL, but there needs to be some serious consideration to an idea floated in 1989 that has Chad Gretzky's support. Who is Chad Gretzky, you ask? Back in 1989, Wayne Gretzky starred on an episode of Saturday Night Live where he starred as Chad Gretzky in one skit that involved him being a busboy at a restaurant where he used a hockey stick to help clear tables. He gets recruited by the Coconut Kings to play against the Flying Yachtsmen, and it seems hockey in Hawaii becomes very popular.

In all seriousness, there was no serious expansion plan whatsoever. However, this skit with Gretzky has some extremely cringe-inducing moments. Watch through to the end, though, as Wayne lip syncs a parody of Elvis Presley song. He honestly looks extremely uncomfortable through this whole thing, but it's worth six minutes of your time.
Pretty horrific, right? Jan Hooks as Kitty gets a few marks, but that was cringe-worthy.

The next time someone wants to talk about expansion in a tropical climate, I'm going to point everyone back to this video. If Gretzky can't make it look good, there's no point in pushing forward. And I'll even throw an apology out to the Calgary Flames for being represented as the Flying Yachtsmen. That wasn't deserved.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Finally...

... the whiteout has come back to Winnipeg!

Lee Stempniak scored the first goal at MTS Centre in this era of Winnipeg Jets playoff hockey. And while the Ducks would spoil the party with their 5-4 overtime win, there isn't a person on the planet today who wasn't impressed by the whiteout tonight. Winnipeg, you did yourself proud with this outpouring of civic pride, and with Gary Bettman in the crowd you've shown the NHL why they were justified in coming back to the Manitoba capital.

I'm proud of my city tonight. Well done, Winnipeg!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Guaranteed Right Or Your Money Back!

I love guest posts. As you know, my voice gets heard on here a lot and I'll admit I'm far from being 100% right. I'm not an insider nor am I connected to the hockey world's gossip and rumor mill in any way. This is why I like getting posts from readers and colleagues because the perspective from which those articles are written might be entirely different from how I would see things. And different perspectives are good! I am happy to welcome back my esteemed colleague Neal L. who will gaze into his mystical crystal ball as he predicts the opening round series in the Eastern Conference for this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs! Take it away, Neal!

So I know I have been on quite the sabbatical recently, and I must say that adjusting to working overnights has been tough. I feel like it has gone a little bit better than I had hoped, but it still quite is a change. Anyway, I would like to get back into writing for HBIC, so I’m trying to find some time here and there in between sleep to write some articles. Here is my short preview of the first round including who I picked in the HBIC pool.

As an aside, I will not be picking the individual games and game-winning goal scorers this article. History has shown that I actually do fairly well at picking the series winner in the pool, but you the readers, have absolutely crushed me on getting the bonus points. Hopefully, I can hang with you guys this go round. Anyway, let’s start with the Eastern Conference!

NY Rangers vs. Pittsburgh

The best way I can sum up what I expect this to go is a realization I had about a week or so ago. You see, with the Pens seemingly going down in flames, decimated by injuries and cap problems, I thought it would be funny if they missed completely. For a couple of seconds I thought it would help the Rangers out if Crosby and Malkin weren’t in the postseason at all. Then I realized something: why wouldn’t you want to play a team that is a huge dumpster fire right now?

Simply put, aside from the megastars, the Penguins can’t score. Without Kris Letang and the seemingly Ben Lovejoy disaster, the Pens aren’t that great at defending either. I will give credit to Teebz for predicting before the season the Pens would have to get a serious work ethic or they would be in trouble. No doubt injuries have had a huge impact on the Penguins, but it seems like other than a few players, they are unable to answer the bell so to speak.

As for the Rangers, this team looks like a solid machine on all fronts, but there are a couple holes. Lost in the frenzy of how Cam Talbot played during the King’s absence was that the team put together some duds that were bailed out by the understudy’s stupendous play. The advanced metrics of the Rangers are mediocre at best and faceoffs are a huge concern. Still, this team is just too deep for the Penguins. Kevin Hayes has evolved into a legitimate player and along with weapons such as Nash, Kreider, Stepan, and others can provide three solid lines of scoring. Couple that with arguably the best blue line in the league when Kevin Klein returns, and this should be a rout. I see Crosby and Malkin maybe stealing a game or two, but it won’t be enough.

Neal's pick: RANGERS in five.

Montreal vs. Ottawa

Ottawa is the team that pundits have called the team no one wants to play in the East. There has been plenty of hamburgers thrown on the ice as the meteoric rise of Andrew Hammond has propelled the Senators into the playoffs. On the other side, Carey Price has what should be an open shut case not only for the Vezina, but the Hart trophy to boot.

In the beginning of the season, I picked Montreal as my dark horse cup contender. I am not regretting that pick by any stretch of the imagination. Any defense that is anchored by P.K. Subban is good enough to win, let alone that Carey Price will give them a chance to win any game that they play. Their huge question mark is offense. Max Pacioretty did give them 37 goals and has been quietly one of the best players in the league. After that the drop off is pretty stark. For the season, Montreal was a paltry 20th in scoring. With up tempo teams waiting later in the playoffs, this might simply not cut it. If Montreal advances, both Tampa - first - and Detroit - tenth - both were in the top-10 in this category.

Ottawa’s roster seems well enough balanced on offense and defense, but I do wonder about their depth. Bobby Ryan has to step up more than he did in the regular season (18 goals) if they wish to have any chance. I honestly think the experts are overanalyzing this. Montreal is the better team. Give me a choice of perhaps the best goalie in the world and what could be a flash in the pan in Hammond and I will take Price every time. Ottawa is a nice story, but I just think the clock strikes midnight on them.

Neal's pick: CANADIENS in six.

Washington vs. NY Islanders

Ok, Caps fans, go ahead rub it in my face.

I picked the Capitals to be a train wreck this year and they really have been anything other than that. Alex Ovechkin seemingly has had a renaissance year and could very well win the Hart trophy himself. The team finished in the top-half of every imaginable team category: offense, defense, and special teams. Why can’t these guys go far? Well, this is the same core of guys who have continued to be pushed around come the postseason and they are coached by old favorite Barry “first round” Trotz, that’s why.

In all honesty, I think Holtby can carry this team past the first round if he is on. He did tail off slightly the last month or so of the season, but he had a great year overall. This series is more about Ovechkin to see if he can put the team on his back, so to speak, and carry them to the next level. If Ovechkin never makes a deep run, it will forever stain his career.

For the Islanders, even though they made the playoffs unlike my prediction, do I get partial credit for suggesting they’d be a contender early and fade down the stretch? Kyle Opkoso has not been very good since returning for injury and must step up in this series. Nick Leddy also remains a question mark in the injury department and any missed time from him will be a huge blow. The key for the Isles will be if their depth lines can bring the physical play and change momentum much like they did in the first half of the season. As someone who lives on the East coast, I watched these guys play numerous times and every time their fourth-line came out you could feel the energy go to the fishsticks side.

This is a very close series that could either way. Both teams have their strengths that make me think they will win, and flaws that prevent me from trusting either team. In the end I’m more comfortable picking against the team that has the roster of playoff failures and the coach of playoff failures (albeit on a different team). In the Islanders I also get a slightly deeper team.

Neal's pick: ISLANDERS in seven.

Tampa Bay vs. Detroit

People don’t realize this, but this may be the ultimate smoke-in-mirrors series. I’m not sure people realize how close the Wings were to missing the playoffs after a March swoon that left the margin of error closer than they wanted it to be. On the flip side, The Bolts blueline has been decimated and although solid, Victor Hedman still hasn’t taken the leap forward into the elite like I wanted him to in my preseason predictions.

Tampa’s offense was number-one in the league by a comfortable margin, though it seemed to wane in the second-half of the season somewhat. It boasts Stamkos and Tyler Johnson, which may be the best one-two combo in the league that no one is talking about. Sure people know abot Stamkos, but Johnson until the last few weeks of the season was in the top-ten in scoring as well. They really can score on all four lines. Up front, there simply aren’t any weaknesses. For the Wings, they also have a very deep offensive team. With youngsters like Nyquist, Tatar, and Sheahan supplementing the old guard of Datsyuk and Zetterberg, they can keep pace with anyone.

To me, this series comes to defense and goaltending. To say the Wings goaltending has been bad is being kind. No Wings goaltender ranks in the top-20 in save percentage. Across the ice, Ben Bishop finished midpack in that category though has never really been in a playoff atmosphere.

So why am I picking the Wings? Defense. Although Tampa should have all its defenders back except for Jason Garrison, almost their whole blue line is banged up. In the Wings, you have the second-overall power-play unit rolling into town. I’m simply not sure they will be able to shut that down. Tampa did rank ninth in PK, but that was over the whole season which mostly was before the injury woes. I might be victim of just picking Detroit solely on reputation, but I think they pull the upset here.

Neal's pick: RED WINGS in six.

That’s the East, stay tuned for the West.


What say you, readers? Agree or disagree? Is Neal off his rocker in a few series? Sound off below!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Live Blog: Flapping Isn't Gonna Work

Here we go, kids. Live-blogging this spectacular Game Two battle between the Jets and Ducks. Are you ready? Not much to tell you other than Mathieu Perreault will play for the Jets, Matt Halischuk heads back to the press box, and Jiri Tlusty drops from the third- to the fourth-line. Anthems are being sung, so let's get right into this game!

FIRST PERIOD

  • I like the pace so far in this game. Someone needs to hammer a Duck to slow them up. There's no way they'd be able to skate across the blue line without a new bruise being handed out.
  • Clayton Stoner is trying to be a human wrecking ball. I've seen about enough of that.
  • Love me some Adam Pardy. He should help Jakob Silfverberg out by taking his head off. No one enters that crease.
  • How do you stick-check a guy like Myers? Seriously.
  • Chris Thorburn needs to goad Stoner into a scrap.
  • High-sticking? Maybe Pardy missed the memo about taking penalties.
  • Ducks were 2-for-3 in Game One. Don't remind me.
  • Solid forecheck by the Jets thus far. Nothing happening for the Ducks.
  • Sonuva... can't the Jets just leave Kesler alone? He's useless.
  • Myers will serve two-or-less for high-sticking as well.
  • One penalty over after a big save by Pavelec.
  • Watching Corey Perry cuss after missing a glorious chance is one of those little things that makes me smile every time I think about it.
  • Buff the Destroyer just killing off 30 seconds of time. No biggie.
  • Jets kill both penalties! Well done, boys!
  • Let's tip our caps to Pavelec as the Jets at first commercial break are being outshot 14-3. No dented twine thus far!
  • Cassie Campbell's piece on Kesler makes me hate him more. And Team USA. And the Canucks. The only team I don't hate that he's suited up for is the Manitoba Moose.
  • I'm glad to see that Sportsnet is burning all their commercials early. This war shouldn't be missed by anyone.
  • If that puckhog from the Boston Pizza played on my team, I'd beat 24 wings out of him if he did that on the ice. You jerk. 
  • I love that Garry Galley gives the Ducks the edge after winning Game One. You kinda think that would be the case, no?
  • Mike Duffy... er, Bruce Boudreau with a "what did I do" look. Shut up, Bruce.
  • Hampus Lindholm is off for interference. Because he deserved it.
  • Jets fail to get it deep, and Anaheim clears easily. Gotta be better.
  • Did the Jets know they had the extra guy for the last two minutes?
  • Not sure I like these defensive combos being rolled out by Charlie Huddy. How did Stuart and Enstrom get paired together?
  • Galley doesn't watch much Jets hockey, apparently, when talking about standing guys up at the blue line. That doesn't happen.
  • Kesler elbowed Myers in the head? Toss him. That's garbage.
  • Kesler will sit for two-or-less for his horsepoop move.
  • $10 for the first Jet to rip a slapshot off Wild Wing.
  • The Jets simply aren't winning foot races right now.
  • Trouba rips one off the post!
  • Jets are now 0-for-2 on the power-play tonight. C'mon, gents.
  • I have to say that the Ducks are really bottling up the neutral zone tonight extremely well. They're almost playing an aggressive left-wing lock.
  • That'll do it for the first period. 0-0 after one frame!

SECOND PERIOD

  • Everytime someone mentions "Edmonton won the draft lottery", the people around me lose their minds. I'm guessing they're mathematically-eliminated by January next season.
  • If I'm the Oilers, I dangle that pick to Arizona for their pick, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Mike Smith. And then draft Noah Hanifin. Rebuild is suddenly improved by three years. 
  • I love how Sportsnet keeps flashing up the line combos with Benoit Pouliot in there. Pouliot isn't going to change the fortunes of the Oilers.
  • And Craig MacTavish basically admits they're taking McDavid. No-brainer there. Which means the Oilers will find a way to screw this up.
  • Myers needs to straight-arm Kesler any chance he gets.
  • I understand the whistles get put away in the playoffs, but how did Kesler not get called for bear-hugging Scheifele from the face-off dot to the end boards?
  • Thank the hockey gods that Pavelec came to play tonight. 
  • I was kinda hoping Byfuglien was going to erase Tim Jackman from existence. He opted to play the puck. I can live with that.
  • Almost zero chances for both teams in front of the net. This could be a one of those games that's decided off a fluky goal from the corner or something.
  • Penalty coming to Anaheim is slashing on Jackman. Give him five and a game for that one. It was on the forearm! Precedence!
  • Excellent idea by Wheeler to take it to the net. Gotta see more of that.
  • Seriously, Ladd. Seriously. Slashing Getzlaf. You know better.
  • How is that not interference on Getzlaf for running a pick on Scheifele?
  • Love seeing Jim Slater skate it from behind the net to the blue line just to whip a prayer of a shot wide. Excuse my sarcasm.
  • Garry "Ducks" Galley going pro-Anaheim again.
  • Jets are playing a wee bit too loose for me right now. Tighten it up, boys!
  • Good chance for Lowry off the Stempniak shot, but stick checks are effective, readers. If you're tying up a stick, I present the Anaheim Ducks as your example.
  • Someone cover Kesler!!!
  • Good job by the Jets in clearing the front of the net. Pavelec saw that one all the way, making the easy save. Gotta keep that going.
  • I still have a hard time believing Bruce Boudreau was in Slap Shot.
  • ADAM PARDY!!! A great toe-drag to set up the first shot, and he follows up with a wrap-around and it's in the back of the net! 1-0 WINNIPEG!
  • This is under review. Wheeler apparently brought the party into the crease.
  • Looks fine to me. Not sure why this is taking five minutes.
  • Goal stands!
  • Anaheim called for a penalty. Kesler's heading off. Send him to the showers.
  • Kesler appears to be sitting for elbowing. Dirty player.
  • Nothing doing on this power-play either. Maybe we decline them?
  • Jets lead after two periods!

THIRD PERIOD

  • Need another goal here in the third period. Let's go, Jets!
  • Liking this energy from the Jets so far!
  • Pavelec with another massive save on Beleskey!!!
  • Perreault just got destroyed by Rackell. That's brutal. Suspend him.
  • Stafford with a solid wrap-around, but Andersen stops that.
  • That end-to-end action is insane!
  • Ducks with a ton of pressure.
  • Ladd with a dumb, dumb penalty.
  • Ok, that flurry of action results in a Ducks goal. Someone scored. Who cares. Ducks tied it up there. 1-1 TIE.
  • Jets suck it up and Pavs makes a good save right after the face-off.
  • This game is becoming a chess match.
  • Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!? Silfverberg should be punched out for that. Holding the stick turns into a goal? Brutal. 2-1 ANAHEIM.
  • I'm nearing clinical depression after that goal. Ok, not really. But that one stings. Silfverberg should never gotten to that puck. Cheater.
  • That'll do it. I hate this game.
Until next time, I'm getting therapy!

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Same Problem

I'm bagged today. I'd like to say that I'm going to with the Jets in their first playoff series for every minute, but I don't know if I can stay up to all hours of the night and function the next day. I did make it through last night's game, though, and I got to see a hard-hitting, fast-paced game between the Ducks and Jets. There were scoring chances, there were big saves, and there were lots of hits, but what sunk the Winnipeg Jets in Game One was a familiar trend: untimely penalties. The most penalized team in hockey this season knows they can't give the Ducks a chance to skate with the man-advantage, and their fall in the third period resulted from two power-play goals-against in the final frame.

The Jets, to their credit, only took four penalties through the whole game, but the Ducks capitalized on the Jets' first and third penalties of the night, and both penalties were unnecessary in terms of why they were taken. Mark Scheifele's roughing penalty was a punch to Ryan Kesler's face and chest after Kesler had been irritating him all night, and Frolik's boarding penalty was entirely selfish as he hammered a Duck into the boards. Perry scored to tie the game 2-2 on the Scheifele penalty while Getzlaf buried the second power-play goal to ice the game at 4-2 while Frolik watched.

Two selfish penalties resulting in two power-play goals, and the Jets now find themselves down 1-0 in the series.

Overall, the Jets have nothing to get overly worried about their game, but they need to refrain from taking selfish penalties. Stick infractions will occur, but both the Scheifele and Frolik penalties were players reacting to annoyance and/or frustration. That's entirely what happens in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the Jets needs to control those emotions if they want to succeed.

Game Two is on Saturday. The Ducks were 2-for-3 on the power-play. The Jets were 0-for-3 with the man-advantage. Special teams show up big in the playoffs, and the Ducks proved just how big they are with two goals from their two best players while skating a man up.

The Jets can't make those mistakes again if they want to win their first NHL Stanley Cup Playoff game. And they won't survive if they don't change their ways.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Hockey Show - Episode 135

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is back tonight with a couple of guests, some goodbyes, playoff chatter, and a song that will be played over Manitoba's radio waves for the first time! I'm actually excited that we have the exclusive to this new song by an emerging artist, so you'll hear that off the top while we close out with one of this artist's songs that put her on the map. Our two guests are coming in to promote an upcoming event, and we'll talk about the four games last night on the NHL Stanley Cup Playoff schedule, the four games scheduled for tonight, and who we're predicting to see in the next round!

Kevin and Vin will be in-studio tonight as they are gearing up for the 2015 edition of the Re/Max Cup taking place here on May 22-24 at the Glenwood Community Center in Winnipeg! This is one of the better ball hockey tournaments in this great nation, and they always have incredible prizes for fans and players! Kevin and Vin will discuss the tournament, how many teams are signed up, who may challenge for the Re/Max Cup, and much more. Reportedly, there may still be a few spots available if you're interested! Find out tonight!

We'll also wish Columbus a fare-thee-well tonight as she'll be joining us for her last show as she heads home to the USofA for the summer. We'll keep in touch with her as she prepares for a world-wide tour next year as she continues her studies in South Korea! We'll also share in a fare-thee-well for Aaron Sabasch, the host of Straight Ahead, who has the time slot right before us on UMFM. Aaron's final show is tonight, so we'll send him off by talking about his beloved Calgary Flames with him after they downed the Vancouver Canucks last night in a great game. We'll miss you both, but we'll keep in touch!

We'll also toss in our predictions for each of the Stanley Cup Playoff series. We'll chat about no further discipline to PK Subban and whether that's the right call. We'll talk about goalies and their impact on series as Scott Darling pushed the Blackhawks past the Predators last night after putting up a wall through nearly four periods. We'll definitely talk about what the Jets need to do to defeat the Ducks. And finally, I have an announcement for Jets fans to encourage them to come out and support the team!

We have another big show tonight and the phones will be open for Whiteout Power! Buzz us at 204-269-UMFM (204-269-8636) and we'll put your comments about the Jets on the air! Of course, we will be live on 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! You can tweet me anytime you like by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show. Tonight we get ready for the first Whiteout since 1996!

PODCAST: APRIL 16, 2015: Episode 135

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

So Much Controversy

Let the controversy reign! We're only one game into the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and we've seen, depending on your perspective, one of the postseason's most vicious slashes or one of the best acting jobs on the planet. Personally, the slash that PK Subban delivered on Mark Stone looked bad in terms of Stone's reaction, but his return just a few minutes after Subban was dismissed from the game is a little curious considering how he sold the slash. Let's break this down because someone said something in the post-game scrum that will probably leave his wallet a little lighter.

There's no denying that PK Subban slashed Mark Stone, so I'm not going to try to argue that point. Both Subban and Montreal coach Michel Therrien admitted that he committed the infraction, so we'll let that portion of the equation rest.

Instead, we need to look at the fallout from the slash. Before we do that, here's the video of Subban hacking Mark Stone on the arm.
Mike Johnson talks us through that pretty well, but the final tally was a five-minute major and a game misconduct for PK Subban. The optics of that slash look bad, but Mark Stone sold it hard as if Subban hit him with a machete in an effort to amputate Stone's arm. I'm not buying it.

The Subban penalty was committed at 8:23 of the second period. Mark Stone played 15:06 in the game over 21 shifts. Unless he was double- and triple-shifting in the first 28:23 of the game, Mark Stone returned to the game meaning that his fleeing down the chute to the dressing room was possibly necessary at the time, but certainly not indicative of a major injury.

Why is that important? Well, referee Steve Kozari invoked Rule 61 and its subclauses to come up with the five-minute major based on the optics of that slash. The rule reads as follows:
With the speed in which Stone left the ice and went to the dressing room, Kozari had to assume that he was injured. He went down like he had been shot, and then immediately went to the dressing room. Kozari's hands are tied on that call because it really did look like Stone was hurt, so Rule 61.3 states that a major penalty has to be called. Because the major penalty was called, Rule 61.5 came into effect which is how Subban was given the early dismissal from this game.

The problem is that Stone returned to the bench minutes later and took a regular shift. If he's doing that, he's not injured. Or at least not seriously injured. And if he wasn't seriously injured, then Mark Stone embellished that injury which should mean he gets a warning from the league for his embellishment. It also means that the officials in this series now will watch Stone a little closer for any sort of embellishment because Stone made Kozari look bad with his call on Subban.

Officials don't like being shown up, readers.

Further to this, the post-game press conferences saw Ottawa head coach Dave Cameron get a little heated as he spoke about how he believes that Subban should be suspended. The problem is how he framed it.
That's not going to sit well with the NHL. Comments regarding any sort of vengeance or bounty towards another team or player will bring some serious heat from the NHL Offices, and Dave Cameron crossed a line in suggesting one of his players will dish out some served-cold revenge for the slash on Stone.

And these two teams have the possibility of playing six more games? Wow.

I'm not the NHL, but I am going to tell you what I think should happen in the aftermath of tonight's game. You may not agree, but this is exactly how I see this playing out so that both teams are happy with the outcome.
  1. PK Subban is fined for his slash. No further discipline.
  2. Mark Stone is warned for embellishment. No further discipline.
  3. Dave Cameron is fined for his comments. No further discipline.
The Canadiens and Senators will clash again on Friday, and I expect the messages sent by the NHL to be heard by both teams. Game One was intense with a 4-3 Canadiens win coming out of the carnage in the second period, and there is hope that these two Canadian rivals can carry the same intensity through the next six games.

Let's just keep the sticks down, the embellishing to a minimum, and the threats out of the media's hands. This could be a series for the ages.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Random Tuesday Musings

It's Stanley Cup Playoffs Eve! While I'm still gathering names for the petition to make the opening day of the Stanley Cup Playoffs a national holiday here in Canada, I've been bouncing some thoughts around in my head. I'll admit that most of these thoughts deal with how to properly weave bacon together so that I can wrap a pork roast in succulent bacon before throwing the whole thing into a smoker, but I digress. I have some hockey thoughts as well, so let's put pens to paper and get this show on the road!

I happen to be on the boat that says that if the San Jose Sharks fire Todd McLellan, they've fired the wrong guy. It's not that Doug Wilson has done a poor job in San Jose, but he's certainly not done himself any favors recently. His comments about removing Joe Thornton's captaincy and his poor free agency record (John Scott???) in recent years should be enough to facilitate a change.

  1. If McLellan is fired by the Sharks, how fast would the Bruins jump at the opportunity to have him coach the Bruins?
  2. If Claude Julien is fired by the Bruins, would he pull a Boudreau and head west? San Jose could be in the market for a fiery guy like Julien.
  3. I don't see Peter Chiarelli going to Toronto if he's fired. I don't see him wanting that hassle in terms of trying to piece together that radioactive roster. And he'd be saddled with Kessel again. Although, if anyone knows about trading Kessel, Chiarelli is your guy.
  4. Toronto has a lot of overpriced pieces based on the returns they saw this season, but I could see teams taking a run at either Joffrey Lupul or Tyler Bozak this summer. If Toronto is truly looking to unload these guys, they can probably get a decent return. Kessel and Phaneuf are going to be challenges.
  5. If Arizona misses out on Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, the rebuild there will be set back once more. I love some of their young players, but they need that catalyst to really give their youth movement a shot in the arm. Jack Eichel would be a huge piece in the desert, and would fit comfortably between Domi and Duclair in the near future.
  6. Edmonton desperately needs to improve their defence, and Noah Hanifin should be the only guy they are looking at if they have a chance to draft him. Goaltending could be improved as well, and they would do themselves a big favor in signing Boston University's Matt O'Connor. O'Connor is scheduled to meet with Edmonton during his cross-country tour.
  7. O'Connor will also meet with Ottawa who seem to have brushed aside both Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner with Andrew Hammond's play. If the Senators can trade one of those two away during the summer, Hammond would platoon with the guy who stays. O'Connor would have a good shot at being "the next guy" in Ottawa if he wants it.
  8. I'm unsure how much hockey a lot of people are watching in their average lives, but those who have watched the Washington Capitals in recent weeks know that Barry Trotz will have his team over-prepared in their meeting with the Islanders. If Holtby continues his outstanding season and the Capitals can neutralize John Tavares' effectiveness, that could be a short series.
  9. Not having Travis Hamonic will hurt the Islanders more than they think. He's not a Karlsson or Doughty, but he's the guy who sets the table for the Isles. In their series with the Penguins, Hamonic threw a couple of monster hits that gave the Islanders a ton of confidence. Missing him for more than a game will hurt the Islanders in a big way.
  10. Tampa Bay has the ability to sweep Detroit. I don't think they will. While Detroit won't likely win the series, I can see guys like Nyquist, Tatar, Pulkkinen, and Jurco stepping up to provide offence while Datsyuk's shadow is all over Stamkos. With Mrazek starting Game One for Detroit, things could south quickly if the goaltending fails the Red Wings.
  11. The Rangers, while winning the Presidents Trophy, seem a little overrated in my view. Rick Nash's four goals in 37 playoff games with the Rangers is a worrying stat. Can the Rangers' MVP find a way to break through this season? If he does, last season's run to the Stanley Cup Final in spite of Nash will be forgotten quickly. If he doesn't, the Rangers will struggle.
  12. The Penguins will most likely play five games in this year's playoffs. There are too many eggs in a few baskets, and that has to change if they want to see more games. David Perron, Chris Kunitz, and Daniel Winnik need to be a lot better, but their playoff lives will hang on the defence. Personally, I'm not sure those guys could beat a high school team right now.
  13. Montreal will literally go as far as Carey Price will carry them. You can make arguments for guys like Pacioretty, Subban, Markov, and Plekanec, but this is Price's team. If he hits a cold streak, the Canadiens could suffer.
  14. There is no easy way out of the Central Division. St. Louis, Chicago, Nashville, and Minnesota
     all have a shot. Nashville, in my opinion, has the worst chances of the four simply because they aren't as physical. Pekka Rinne could be the reason they emerge as the winner, but the last few weeks of hockey they played don't convince me they have what it takes. And that includes getting past Chicago in the opening round.
  15. Chicago seems to be a consensus favorite now that Patrick Kane is scheduled to return for Game One, but there's always the fatigue factor that one must consider. Chicago was second only to Los Angeles in playoff games-played in the last four years, and that has to take a toll. When you factor in the physicality of running into either St. Louis or Minnesota in the second round, you have to wonder if they have the gas in the tank to finish off another run. They have the talent and the tenacity, but we might see Chicago play some ugly hockey to stay alive.
  16. I like Minnesota, but I fear that they're going to burn out. They've been playing playoff hockey for nearly two months, and goaltender Devyn Dubnyk has started nearly every game in that time. Fatigue could roll into the picture here as well - both mental and physical. Running into a team like St. Louis could pop that Wild bubble.
  17. St. Louis looks like the real deal with the talent they have, and this certainly could be their year if they can survive two rounds of overly-physical hockey. They have a ton of solid talent up front, and they have experience on their blue line. Elliott and Allen are solid goalies, but they can be beaten at their own game. All you need to do is punch them in the mouth first.
  18. Vancouver has relied on the Sedins and Vrbata all season, and the playoffs are no place for one-line teams. While I like some of the other players on the Canucks' roster, the vast majority of their offence comes from Sedin-Sedin-Vrbata. They will have their hands full with the Flames' speed and their solid goaltending. If they Swedes catch fire, though, they could be dangerous.
  19. Fast, skilled, unrelenting, and not a care in the world about what anyone says. The Calgary Flames are that team that, if taken lightly, will shock everyone. They get contributions from all over the lineup, and they have great goaltending. Calgary could upset a few teams before all is said and done in this year's tournament.
  20. Anaheim comes in with no pressure on them as they skated to the best record in the Western Conference. Goaltending has become a bit of a question mark in recent weeks, and there's some concern about the blue line's foot speed. They have enough offence up front to be a contender, but the questions about their own zone shouldn't be ignored.
  21. It seems that everyone's comfort pick in this year's playoffs is the Winnipeg Jets. They're big, they're fast, they're getting contributions from everywhere, and they've been playing playoff-style hockey for the last couple of weeks. They could upset the Ducks, and, if they do, they seem to be a favorite for the Western Conference Final. I like the Jets' chances if, and only if, they play the series against the Ducks one game at a time. If they deviate from how they've played in the last few weeks, the Ducks will prevail.
  22. Friend of The Hockey Show and current Boston Blades forward Janine Weber has her Austrian team at a 2-0 record at the IIHF Division 1 Women's World Hockey Championship. They battle the 2-0 Czech Republic tomorrow as she looks to keep the good times rolling. Way to go, Janine!
  23. The roster for the Canadian team for the upcoming men's World Hockey Championship was released with the first 19 players. It's a star-studded lineup thus far as players like Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, and Claude Giroux will anchor the Canadian entry. With the Erie Otters advancing in the OHL playoffs, it appears that Connor McDavid will not be joining this squad, but it would be interesting to see how he fit in had he been available.
  24. Have you entered the HBIC Playoff Pool yet? Why not? It's free, there are prizes, and it's fun. Get in there and get yourself some free gear!
  25. Playoff start tomorrow. Only one team will stand at the end! PSYCHED!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 13 April 2015

The 2015 HBIC Playoff Pool

The biggest annual contest on this site is back for yet another year of insanity as the 2015 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 cannonball into the pool!

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. Prizes are currently being acquired and sorted out, and I will post a prize list as we make our way deeper into the playoffs. In other words, you have a shot at prizes right now, and there will 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-NY Rangers series, I predict that Pittsburgh will win Games 1 and 4. The Rangers will win Games 2, 3, 5, and 6. I also predict that Chris Kunitz will score the game-winner in Game 1 and Sidney Crosby in Game 4. Rick Nash will score New York's winner in Game 2; Martin St. Louis in Game 3; Dan Girardi in Game 5; and Carl Hagelin in Game 6.
If I correctly predicted the entire series (highly improbable with my record of prognostications) of New York 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 closest PIM total to the team's actual total for the playoffs will be crowned as the winner.

A NEW WRINKLE

One of the complaints I hear from entrants is that if they have a bad first-round of predictions, they're basically out of the running so they stop playing. I completely understand this, and this is why this new twist is being put on the books for those that are the gambling types.

After the first round is over, everyone has points. Even if it's just ten points, you still have points. And now, those points can be risked for a big payoff if you're able to correctly predict a series of your choosing. You'll see a new column on the spreadsheet that will read "RISK IT". You will place a point total behind a series of your choosing if you wish to risk your points on calling a perfect series. You can only bet on one series. You can only bet to the maximum number of points you have currently. You will not receive any points in that series if you are wrong!

Read that last line again as this is an all-or-nothing bet. If you bet 40 points on a series and don't call every game right, you're down 40 points. With a big risk comes a big reward, though. If you do call every game correctly (minus the goal scorers as that's bonus points), you'll double the points risked!

As an example, if I risk 20 points on the potential second-round series of Tampa Bay and Montreal, and I correctly predict Montreal winning in Games 1, 3, 5, and 6 while Tampa Bay wins Games 2 and 4, I'd double my risked points to 40. That's an immediate 20-point swing for people who may have fallen behind plus you still get the point totals from all the other series and goal scorers. However, any mistake will net me a loss of 20 points!

Predict well, win big. Predict poorly, and you'll fall further behind. If you're out of the prizes by double-digits in points, though, this could be the way to win yourself back into the prizes!

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, 12 April 2015

The Storms During The Calm

Everyone can breathe deeply tonight after being under the gun for the last couple of weeks. See what I did there? Anyway, the match-ups are set for the opening round of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and they'll kick off on Wednesday with the first games. Lots of predictions are being thrown around by pundits of all skills and abilities, but I'm not going to do that because I don't want to influence anyone who might be thinking about hopping into the pool!

The annual HBIC Playoff Pool will go live tomorrow at noon and I've added a few twists this year. The pool will still be free to enter and there are still prizes to be won, but there will be chances to earn massive points if you're willing to put your money where your predictions are. Lots of fun will be had tomorrow, and I want to let everyone know that the basis for the pool will remain the same. The new twists, though, could change everything if you're predicting well.

Please note that due to restrictions outside my control, the 2015 HBIC Playoff Pool will go live at 5:00pm CT tonight. Sorry, folks!

On to other topics...

The mass firings began early today as Brendan Shanahan axed everyone in Toronto who had anything to do with the on-ice product. Gone are GM Dave Nonis, interim head coach Peter Horachek, assistant coaches Steve Spott, Chris Dennis and Rick St. Croix, director of pro scouting Steve Kasper, and director of player development Jim Hughes. Steve Staios was sent back to the front office as manager of player development while assistant general manager Kyle Dubas and director of player personnel Mark Hunter will assume the role of GM until a new person can be hired.

If anyone thinks the changes end at the men behind the bench, you probably didn't watch much hockey this season. Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul are all reportedly on the trading block, and it will be up to the new management to either find them new homes or motivate them enough to return to form. The latter will be more difficult than the prior, I'd assume.

In any case, there are a lot of empty offices at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment right now, so get your resum├ęs ready, readers. If you wnted to work for the Maple Leafs, now might be your best chance to get in. Just don't get settled if the Leafs bomb again next season.

That, readers, is a tank on fire. As you know, Buffalo was all-in on one of the best tank jobs in recent memory, but one man continually tried to set those plans on fire. See what I did there? Anyway, I find it to be classless that the Buffalo Sabres fired head coach Ted Nolan despite him doing his best to keep fans interested in the team by winning a few games. If there is one guy who did everything he could to keep the Sabres respectable, Ted Nolan was that guy.

I understand that GM Tim Murray and Nolan had a less-than-amicable relationship, Nolan signed a three-year deal last season despite Murray deciding to tank after the season started poorly, but Nolan always maintained an air of professionalism in asking the best from his players. Unfortunately, management didn't feel the same way.

Assistant coaches Bryan Trottier and Tom Coolen did not have their contracts renewed while Danny Flynn was fired along with Nolan. Nolan went 40-87-17 with mostly AHL-caliber players in less than two seasons, and he reportedly will evaluate his next options. I doubt he'll be back with Buffalo for a third head coaching stint.

Deep breaths, Ted. Deep breaths.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

TBC: He Shoots, He Saves

School is coming to a close for those in university and college. It's nearing the end for those in grade school, and that means we're going to see a drop-off in the number of books being read by younger readers. Teebz's Book Club is going to make a serious push this summer to read as much as possible, and we'll start with today's review as the start of that push! Teebz's Book Club is proud to review He Shoots, He Saves, written by Jon Waldman and published by ECW Press! At first, I thought this might be a book on goalies, but after cracking the spine Mr. Waldman takes inside the world of hockey memorabilia collecting and some of the more interesting pieces that a fan of individual teams may want in their own collection!

As per his ECW Press biography, "Winnipeg's Jon Waldman is a veteran of more than a decade writing for newspapers, magazines and online publications. A Ryerson University journalism graduate, Jon's work has been featured in The Hockey News, the Winnipeg Free Press, the Winnipeg Sun, the Toronto Sun, Beckett Hockey, Winnipeg Men Magazine, and a host of other media. Jon is a three-time published author with ECW Press, with his latest title, He Shoots He Saves, hitting store shelves in February 2015. Jon's previous books include SLAM! Wrestling: Shocking Stories from the Squared Circle and Got'em, Got'em, Need'em. When he isn't writing, Jon is a marketing and communications professional and works with numerous companies on their content strategies. In his spare time, Jon enjoys relaxing with his family, walking his dachshund, biking and stand-up paddle boarding."

He Shoots, He Saves takes a look at the various memorabilia that collectors have been seeking over the years and what makes it so valuable. Mr. Waldman also includes a pile of historical information on both teams in the NHL and memorabilia from other leagues and sources. While He Shoots, He Saves barely skims the tip of the iceberg of the memorabilia world, Mr. Waldman gives you a great start in evaluating your own collection and planning what you may want to add!

I really enjoyed the first portion of the book where Mr. Waldman looked at the various items collectors seek, and I have to say that his historical look at the history of the hockey card boom in the 1990s was fascinating. Goalie masks, jerseys, autographed memorabilia, pocket schedules, arena remnants, and more are all covered in the early portion of He Shoots, He Saves, and Mr. Waldman does an excellent job in breaking down why each of these items are valuable to those seeking them.

The second portion of He Shoots, He Saves deals with memorabilia for each team. Collectors who are looking for a bigger score will like this section as Mr. Waldman looks at one interesting piece of memorabilia, but may find themselves a bit disappointed in that there isn't more information regarding great collector pieces from each of the teams.

Another thing that struck me as odd is the historical write-up that Mr. Waldman includes for each team. Novice collectors may not know the history of a team like the Blackhawks or Red Wings, but the vast majority of experienced collectors and fans know the histories of the teams they are interested in for memorabilia purposes. While there are some interesting facts in these historical write-ups, I'm not sure that Mr. Waldman needed to include these histories without referencing collector pieces from the various eras in which these teams existed.

The last portion of He Shoots, He Saves speaks of the other leagues and events that rank highly on collectors' lists. These include the WHA, the Summit Series, the Olympics, IIHF tournaments, and the women's game. I honestly wish this section was more in-depth. There are probably hundreds of pieces of memorabilia that could be discussed here, but it was a short section. That being said, I'm sure Mr. Waldman could have an entirely new book if he spent a lot of time on this section!

I was particularly interested in the defunct franchises portion of He Shoots, He Saves. Mr. Waldman touches on some of the defunct franchises for which collectors still seek items, and it had all the potential to touch a chord with me. As you may know, I happen to have some jerseys that are no longer used by teams, but Mr. Waldman barely speaks of any of the memorabilia from these teams that are of particular interest to collectors. I'm not saying he missed the net here, but he didn't really take a shot either.

Overall, I believe that He Shoots, He Saves is meant for the novice hockey fan who is interested in amassing some interesting memorabilia without being heavily invested in hockey. Most collectors are hockey fans as they need to know specifics regarding years, eras, players, and teams, but He Shoots, He Saves has more history than team-specific memorabilia items in it.

The historical look at some of the pieces at the beginning of the book is well-worth the investment in the book, especially if you need a hockey card primer. There are definitely some things I was unaware of in terms of collectibles - hand-painted Chicago Blackhawks tiles? - that Mr. Waldman points out in the book, so if you're looking for that one specific team thing to make your collection complete, He Shoots, He Saves will help you out. Hockey fans that are well-versed in the game, though, might find the book a little lengthy due to the team histories included. I did enjoy the memorabilia aspects, though, and I'm going to award He Shoots, He Saves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

You can find He Shoots, He Saves at your local bookstore or your local library now!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!