AHL ASG Broadcast = Fail.

I'm watching the AHL skills competition, and I just have to rant about how poor the broadcast is. Why? I'll tell you:

+ Camera problems. During the introductions and interviews for some reason the cameras weren't right.

+ The on-ice correspondent/reporter/tv girl (whatever you want to call her) is awful. She has asked every single person about their 'strategy.' I'm not kidding. She's asked, 'What's your strategy?' at least twenty times by now.

Example: Her interview with Chris Bourque before the accuracy shooting.
Her: "What's your strategy on this?"
Bourque: "Um, I guess to shoot the targets."

Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh. The boys she's interviewed haven't really given quality answers -- BUT at the same time she hasn't asked quality questions. Oh well.

+ They are messing the players names up. First they called Jeff Taffe "Jeff Taffee." (They just corrected it though, so thank you). Next example: As Mike Santorelli was participating in the accuracy competition, the announcers were reading the stats and background information for Mike Iggulden. They actually called him Iggulden. Unless I missed something where they were just randomly reading off stats for Iggy.

I'm not expecting a broadcast on the same level of the NHL, but this is silly. On a brighter note, Ron Hextall is looking good.

Camo Pads

An article in the Boston Globe today features a teenage goalie who is looking to patent his pad design he came up with while sitting in chemistry class.

Trevor Leahy's design is essentially camouflaged with the net in hopes of psyching out shooters. It's a neat little idea, but I'm not sold on it. I think most shooters will see the difference unless they're taking a split-second shot and not getting a good look at the net.

I bet it looks cool though. All the Globe gives us is a blocker shot. I'd like to see more.

Photo Credit: Lisa Poole, Boston Globe


No Sid for Montreal

Sidney Crosby withdrew from the All-Star game today because of injury. Martin St. Louis is going to replace him.

To not have guys like Crosby, Lidstrom and Datsyuk not playing doesn't feel like much of an All-Star game. Obviously I'm overreacting here - there are amazing players in the line-up - but still. Same goes for the Youngstars missing Steve Mason.

Oh well. The All-Star game is probably the most boring thing ever to watch regardless of who's in it.


Vid Time

Hockeybuzz.com's Julie Loves Hockey recently did a "Getting to Know" episode featuring my BU Terriers. Matt Gilroy, Brandon Yip, Steve Smolinsky and John McCarthy find out how well they know each other. It's entertaining (as hockey players usually are). Must I remind you they are the No. 2 ranked team in the nation.

Take a break and watch it here.


How to Continue Ruining An Organization

To continue the downfall of your team:

+ Trade Dany Sabourin and Ryan Stone for Mathieu Garon.

Garon's stats for the year: 15 GP, 3.17 GAA, .895 SV%.
Sabourin's stats for the year: 19 GP, 2.85 GAA, .898 SV%

Not only did they make an unnecessary goaltending trade, but they also shipped out Ryan Stone. I'm not Stone's biggest fan or anything, and I don't know where exactly his future lies. But I do know he is a guy who has discovered and accepted his role as an agitator who works hard and chips in points now and then. His work ethic had been called into question in the past, but I do think he had changed recently. I'm not sure it was time to get rid of him yet.

My favorite part is the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's lead-in:

In a move apparently designed to give starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury a little more competition, the Penguins today acquired goaltender Mathieu Garon from Edmonton in a trade for backup goaltender Dany Sabourin, minor-league forward Ryan Stone and a fourth-round pick in the 2011 NHL draft.

Judging by their almost even stats (in which Garon's are slightly worse), I'm not sure how this gives Fleury any more competition.

+ Call up Bill Thomas ahead of Jeff Taffe.
I understand how Pittsburgh wants to see their little hometown boy up in the show, but to skip over Jeff Taffe first is ridiculous in my opinion. Taffe has 44 points in 36 games (17+27) compared to Thomas' 14 points in 33 games (5+9). I can understand wanting to give different guys chances, but it's not like Taffe has been called up a lot this year. Thomas looked good over the last month, but he still hasn't looked as good as Taffe. Calling up Taffe would have given them the option to reunite him with Janne Pesonen and Chris Minard.

Hey - whatever Pittsburgh. It's your future. Right now you look awfully desperate.


Future Site for Outdoor Classic: SoCal?

The Vegas Strip and the Rose Bowl are two sites on the list for next year's outdoor winter classic.


The ratings for the Chicago/Detroit game were the very high. Weren't people saying part of that was because the game featured two big hockey markets? No offense, but Vegas and Los Angeles are not two spots I consider "big" hockey markets. Not that people won't watch it, but still.

I just think that's so bizarre when you have places like Boston, NYC, State College and Minnesota in the running as well.

It wouldn't be the same without the snow -- or at least fake snow with the potential for real snow (Chicago).


Call Up Janne Pesonen. Now. No, seriously. Right now.

Janne Pesonen. Before the season started, everyone knew him as the Finnish guy Pittsburgh signed who was going to be really good. Then he became the Finnish guy who was going to start the year in the minors to get acclimated to North American hockey. Now he's the Finnish guy who got called up once or twice and didn't do much.

It's time for him to become the Finnish guy who got called up, was given a fair chance and is now setting up plays for Sidney Crosby.

I'm serious. Enough is enough.

I've only seen Pesonen play in a handful of games now with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and frankly, that's all I've needed. The guy has set up plays and scored beautiful goals. He has 40 points (13 + 27) in 34 games. Maybe you have to see him to fully understand, but I think the points speak for themselves. The one reason he has not excelled in the NHL is because he hasn't been given a fair shot. Giving the guy limited ice time is not going to do much for him. Get him on the first or second line, let him do his thing, and he will make things happen. I don't just think that, I know it. I've watched minor league hockey for many years now, and this guy is better than the A. He's ready for the show. Let him have a fair shot at it.

Heck, why doesn't Pittsburgh call up Pesonen and Jeff Taffe and reunite them with Chris Minard? That line is lethal, and I bet they could surprise some people in the NHL too. Honestly at this point, what does Pittsburgh have to lose? Another game? Oh man. That'd be a shocker. The big Pens need a jolt.

Go ahead Pittsburgh. I dare you.

Recap: Pens vs. Hershey

Talk about a great game -- for Baby Pens' fans, that is. Wilkes-Barre finished up their 3-in-3 with a 6-2 win over the first place Hershey Bears. It was my first time seeing Hershey play this year, but everyone had been warning me about how good they were. I got to see a bit of this in the first period. When Hershey gets down into your zone, they look like they're on an endless power play. They constantly cycle and pass the puck. And wow those boys are quick. The Bears are stacked with talented forwards like Chris Bourque, Keith Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux -- not to mention their defense and goaltending. Simeon Varlamov has certainly seen better nights than he did tonight. He had great movement, but he got caught up when anything got too busy around the net. I realize I'm giving Hershey a lot of credit here, so I'll add this: Hershey is beatable. If you start throwing bodies on those guys, their game takes a hit. Plain and simple. To do that, however, you have to be able to catch them. After WBS notched their second goal, they were unstoppable. They worked hard and were rewarded for it. I'd like to see a seven game playoff series between these two. It would be some great hockey.

I snapped some pictures from the game. They're cell phone pictures, so bear with me. Just click to enlarge.

Pre-game. They actually have a really cool overhead projector that plays videos on the ice. Obviously it's not the only rink to have one, but it's pretty cool for Wilkes-Barre.

Opening face-off.

The 2007-2008 Eastern Conference Championship banner. The one thing I don't understand is why they keep the AF2 Pioneers (that's Arena Football 2) up there and tuck all the Pens banners away in the far upper corners of the rink. You can't even see them. It's stupid if you ask me. Penguins > Pioneers.

The boys congratulating John Curry after the win. Kudos to him on a huge shorthanded breakaway save he made in the third.


No. 1 vs. No. 2

I read the Orange County Register's Ducks updates daily, and today Mark Whicker caught my eye. He brought up the idea of Bobby Ryan and Sidney Crosby being on the same level now. I'm just not so sure I can agree with that. I know I constantly rant against Ryan -- sometimes a little unfairly -- but let's think about this. To Whicker's credit he points out their stats as of the past two months:

Since Nov. 16, Ryan has 11 goals and 14 assists.
Since Nov. 20, Crosby has 10 goals and 21 assists.
But Crosby has scored only three goals since Nov. 29. Ryan has nine.

You can't argue with stats, but I'd still take Crosby over Ryan any day. Sure, Ryan had some salary cap issues that kept him at bay, but the kid wasn't in tip top shape until this past off season anyway. I'm not sure what he was waiting for prior to that. Also, I still stand by his "I don't care" attitude he had before he secured a spot on Anaheim's roster. I can only imagine how frustrating it was for him to suffer through that knowing he was good enough to play in the show, but that attitude gets you no where. I don't want a guy on my team who feels like he's owed something all the time. That's not to say Sid doesn't have his brat moments, but they still have very different ways of handling and dealing with things.

Plus, I personally believe Crosby is just more talented overall. There's a reason he was the no-question number one draft pick. Then again, not many guys can be as talented as Sid the Kid. Bobby Ryan will be a fantastic player in years to come, there's no doubt about that (especially if he starts throwing his body around a bit more. The kid is huge). Just not my preference of the two.

And just for kicks -- if Ryan was on Crosby's level, he would've at least made the Young Stars game. ;-)


Just scanning over the Ducks message board, where someone posted this:

Talking with Bobby, he was actually hoping he wasn't going to be named because before the AS break, we have the east coast road trip and he wanted to hang with friends and family.

Another example. Rather chill out than be named an All Star? Okay, then Bobbo. You never fail to surprise me.


Solving Pittsburgh's Problems

As Pittsburgh dropped to 9th in the Eastern Conference after an extremely embarrassing 6-1 loss to the Florida Panthers, people continue to question the coaching of Michel Therrien. My opinion? Pittsburgh's problems don't lie in the coaching. It lies in the team itself.

Think about it. When Pittsburgh began seeing signs of success, the roster had a bunch of guys that had been in the system playing with each other since their minor league days. When Therrien first came to Wilkes-Barre, he took an average hockey team and made it into something special. He coached them to fear losing. In fact, I remember former WBS Penguin, Matt Murley, quoting exactly that. So what did they do? They worked their asses off and found ways to win every night. Maybe they weren't the most skilled players, but they did what they had to do to win. It created a stronger team bond, even if they weren't Therrien's biggest fans.

That is exactly what Pittsburgh is NOT doing. They have gotten rid of guys like Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Ryan Malone and Michel Ouellet. Guys that were raised within the organization. They aren't superstars, but when they worked together they pulled it off. Instead, Pittsburgh brought in guys like Miroslav Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko and Petr Sykora -- all very talented hockey players who bring a lot of skill to a hockey team. I'm not trying to underestimate their abilities. But Therrien's teams don't come from a star-studded roster. They come from a true 'team' and hard work -- with guys like Max Talbot and Rob Scuderi out on the ice. Unfortunately, the big guys in the organization got stars in their eyes after making it to the finals last year and started taking advantage of how attractive their team now looked to free agents. They transformed the team into one that relies soley on its skill to win hockey games. Watch any of the Bruins vs. Penguins games and you can see a clear difference between a hard working 'team' vs. just skill.

Therrien's recent words truly explain the problem in Pittsburgh right now:

"We have to start thinking about the team concept, not personal agenda. The team concept is the most important thing for any hockey team. The personal agenda on the list of priorities for players should be the last one. Right now, the priority is not at the right place.

And a different coach can't fix that. No matter who he is.

Photo Credit: The Canadian Press

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