Bye Bye Whit

Pittsburgh shipped Ryan Whitney to Anaheim today in exchange for Chris Kunitz and prospect Eric Tangradi. This makes it pretty clear that Whitney's absence in Pitt's game against the Islanders because of a 'family situation in Boston' clearly meant 'He went to Boston to meet up with the Ducks who play there tonight.'

I'm a Whitney fan. He's a BU alum who I got to see play his first seasons pro in Wilkes-Barre. He's awesome when he wants to be, but he hasn't been the same recently. Blame it on the foot surgery, whatever. I think it's because they took his biffles Matt Murley and Colby Armstrong away from him. He's probably still dealing with that emotionally.

(I'm joking of course ... sort of.)

One cool thing about this trade: Eric Tangradi (as mentioned in this previous post) played hockey for Wyoming Seminary in Kingston, PA. Kingston is right next to Wilkes-Barre, so it's very possible he'll head back to familiar territory if he sees time with the Baby Pens.

We'll see how this pans out. Pittsburgh gets rid of another guy that was originally part of their foundation. It's pretty sad if you ask me. But it is what it is.

Edit: Well, I'm officially a jerk. Whitney was actually in Boston for his mother who was undergoing brain surgery for removal of a tumor. I feel awful, but I know I wasn't the only one that thought it was a huge coincidence he was in Boston when the Ducks were. Prayers for Mrs. Whitney. Get well soon!


Seriously guys ... badminton.

Just came across this interview courtesy of The Power Play. It features one of my faves, and I'm sorry, but I think it's hilarious. It's pretty much a serious interview ... but it's about badminton!! How is that serious? And Seto gives serious answers. Hahahaha. Maybe it's just me.

Some Quick Bites ...

Some quick things going around the hockey world:

+ The Rangers fired Tom Renney after they lost 10 of the past 12 games. They're the Rangers though, come on. They will choke no matter what. This time it was during the regular season as opposed to in the playoffs.

+ BU remains ranked number one in the nation after three ties in their past four games. They tied Maine two weekends ago (one night after destroying them), and tied Northeastern twice this past weekend. I made it to the Northeastern game at Agganis on Friday. These two teams are fun to watch. I thought BU dominated the first period, but NU stepped it up after that and tied the game. I just have to give props to Matt Gilroy's move he made that led to one of BU's first period goals. It was beautiful. Thank you Matt Gilroy.

+ In other college news, Denver moved up three spots to fifth in the nation. Boston College officially dropped off the map. I don't think many people saw that coming at the start of the year. They're kind of reminding me of BU's season last year except BU had a good second half whereas BC .. not so much. And how about UMass-Lowell creeping in at number 20? Good for them.

+ In news that only hockey bloggers and blog readers would care about: A few days ago, Sean Leahy from PuckDaddy wrote a piece about the 'Brian Burke' account on Twitter. The same one everyone knows is fake -- including Leahy. Anyway, the infamous Eklund (I say infamous because I don't know too many people who like him all that much .. sorry bud) from HockeyBuzz.com jumped on it and said he contacted Burke, and it is not his real account. DUH. He says he made the call after reading Leahy's piece on PuckDaddy and added how it pissed off the GM blah blah. Maybe if he read closer he would realize that Leahy knows the Burke account isn't real. But my favorite part of Eklund's write-up was this:

And there it is my hockey friends. The stereotypical kind of blogging that makes many NHL teams nervous and stingy about giving access to internet hockey writers. This is the kind of story that deeply sets back the cause.

Everything about PuckDaddy and its writers is awesome. The NHL should be honored to have them writing as much and as well as they do. They're a great source for info on the NHL and a great example of how blogging is an excellent news source. They offer better stuff than any newspaper I read (excluding the Hockey News if you count that as a newspaper).

I hope Eklund feels really stupid today. It's a case of glimpsing over something, not actually reading it and scurrying to write something thinking he's gonna get the one-up on it. I mean is this middle school?


River Rats Bus Crashes

Just saw PuckDaddy's update on the Albany River Rats bus crash. Around 3:30 this morning, the team bus rolled over on its side. At least three guys have been sent to the hospital with serious injuries.

Send them some prayers. I'm tied to this team through Joe Jensen (former WBS Penguin) and Ryan Weston (former BU player). Hopefully everyone is okay and gets well soon.

Update:Just got word that Jensen is one of the players still in the hospital. Get well soon bud.


More Therrien Comments

Regardless of how bumpy Therrien's tenure may have been, it was a highly successful one. He compiled a 135-106-31 record with the club and claimed a division and conference title. His win total is only second to Eddie Johnston's 232. Therrien may not have been universally loved by his player or the team's fans, but there's no denying the success he enjoyed with the franchise. Granted, most coaches throughout the history of the team have been mediocre or just plain awful, but Therrien was one of the best the club has ever had.

- Seth Rorabaugh

And the 'eulogies' continue. Basically everyone else except Shero sees this.


Burnside Gets It

ESPN's Scott Burnside wrote a piece on the Therrien firing and how it was the easy way out for the Penguins.

The whole article is exactly how I feel. It's the truth. Read it.

Pittsburgh's Mess Spills Online

The Penguins can't even get facts right on their website right now:

Bylsma assisted the Baby Penguins to a 98-49-5-8 record, an AHL East Division and Eastern Conference championships and a Calder Cup Final appearance in the past two seasons.

That was taken from this link on the Pens' site.

The Baby Penguins only made it to the Calder Cup finals last season. The previous year, they lost in the second round of the playoffs.

Lock it up Pitt. Only everyone around the hockey world is going to check out that story.

Edit:After calming my anger at the Pittsburgh organization for their general stupidity, I looked at the quote closer. I think this sentence was a victim of poorly placed words. Originally it looks like they're saying they made the Finals in the past two seasons, but if they put 'in the past two seasons' right after the comma it makes sense. Sorry for jumping the gun -- you should still use better grammar. :-)


Therrien Gets Voted Off the Island

Well, Ray Shero and the Pittsburgh Penguins fired Michel Therrien.

Guess what? This will not fix Pittsburgh's problems either. I really don't get it. How is the organization not seeing this? It doesn't matter what coach they bring into the Steel City right now. The Penguins will not miraculously start winning until they move some players around and bring the right guys together.

Do I really have to repeat myself again? Okay. Fine. I will. The players on the Pittsburgh roster right now are individuals. When the Pens started to be good again, they had guys who came up through the system along with a mix of skill players and guys that work hard. It was the right combination. Then Shero and co. got big heads and went after guys like Fedotenko and Satan -- great players, but not right for this team.

Sure, Therrien should have been able to do more with the talented players he had. But talent only goes so far. You need the motivation, work ethic, chemistry ... the list goes on. The Pens just don't have it. Shero has the trade deadline to try and find all that. At this point, I'm not hopeful.

Best wishes to WBS coach, Dan Bylsma, who was named interim coach. This is another puzzling move. I like Bylsma, but he's not ready for an NHL job. He's only been an AHL head coach for a few months now. Why didn't they hand it to Mike Yeo?

Someone stop the bleeding in the Pens organization ASAP.


My Gonchar Verdict

I'm just going to go ahead and say that I don't think Sergei Gonchar will turn this Penguins team completely around.

Of course it will be great to have him back, but I stand by the fact that Pittsburgh's problems go beyond the skill set of their players. If you don't have the right guys together on a team, you're not going to win a Stanley Cup.

So, no. Sergei Gonchar will not be the Penguins' savior. He will not be the complete cure for their troubles.

Sorry. Love ya Pitt.


Wikipedia Fail

To correct Wikipedia: Jiri Hudler is not Devin Setoguchi's half brother.

I wonder who came up with that one.


29 out of 57 Ain't Bad

After beating Northeastern 5-2 in last night's game, BU has now won 50.8% of the Beanpots. It was their 29th victory in the past 57 years. Basically, they own this tournament.

Wow. I'm not even sure where to begin. It was a great game, and I hope some of you out there got a chance to watch it. If not, here are the highlights broken down for you:

+ Breaking the game down by periods:
- I thought Northeastern was slightly better than BU in the first period. The first few minutes were spent feeling each other out; neither team had excellent chances. There was a lot of dump-and-chase. I'm sure all the boys were a little nervous. BU got the first goal, but NU tied it up before the period was over to make it 1-1.
- The second and third periods belonged to BU. The puck just found a way to their sticks. I don't know how much was luck and how much was simply the fact that they're the number one team in the country. It showed. Northeastern had some quality chances, but they were visibly outplayed by BU. I'd actually like to see puck possession numbers. BU seemed to control it the majority of the time.

+ The biggest part of this game was BU's THREE shorthanded goals. That's insane! It got to the point where it was almost better for them to be on the penalty kill than on the power play. BU was 1 for 7 on their PP and 3 for 10 on their PK. One of the shorties came when Dave Warsofsky skated it down and took a shot that somehow found its way to the back of the net. I'm not sure what exactly happened there; it seems like a save Brad Thiessen should have made.

+ I mentioned in the pre-game post that Kieran Millan needed to have a stellar night. He did. He absolutely did. BU owes him a big thanks. He made 23 saves on 25 shots -- and some of those saves were huge. He stood out tonight. I was very impressed.

+ Colin Wilson is a beast. I've been hesitant to say this in the past, but this kid is ready to go pro. He manages to land every pass exactly where he wants to. It's ridiculous. Even if there's three opponents standing in front of him, C. Willie will complete the pass. I'd love to see him back for one more year at BU, but this kid is gone.

+ Brad Thiessen won the Eberly Award for best save percentage (.925) in the tournament. I don't know how happy he was with it at the time, but he's a great goaltender with a bright future ahead of him.

+ Nick Bonino won the tournament MVP. Good timing. The San Jose Sharks prospect could very likely have been watched by Sharks staff in town for their game against the Bruins tonight.

Northeastern goes another year (since 1988) without a Beanpot. Their turn will come soon enough. BU showed why they are ranked number one in the country. Once they get into their flow, there's no stopping them.

Here are some pictures from the tournament I snapped with my phone. They're not the greatest -- I was sitting in the very last row of the building.


Beanpot Round Two: This is It.

My nerves are already starting to go a bit, and the BU/Northeastern Beanpot final doesn't start for another six hours yet.

Provided both teams show up to play tonight, this is going to be a great game. BU is No.1 in the country, and NU is right behind them at number 3. Here are some things to look out for:

+ NU's goaltender, Brad Thiessen, has stood out to me since I saw him come in freshman year. He is a big reason for the Huskies' success. He's currently sitting on a 2.06 GAA and a .935 save percentage. Pretty sick. BU will have to find a way to solve him ASAP.

+ On the flip side, BU's rookie goaltender, Kieran Millan, will have to be sharp. He's been great for BU all season, but during last Monday's game against Harvard, his nerves were apparent.

+ Colin Wilson. If he does his thing, BU will get a big boost.

+ BU needs to stay out of the penalty box. It has been a major downside for them all year; they take way too many penalties. It helps that they have an excellent PK unit, but ultimately it will catch up to you.

+ Looking at NU's stats, Wade MacLeod leads his team with 27 points in 27 games. But Ryan Ginand (second in scoring) has 124 shots this season!!! 124!

There really is no predicting the Beanpot tournament. Teams take the competition to new levels. Your best bet is to tune into NESN around 8 (depends on when the consolation game ends). You won't be disappointed.



Goose Heads Back to the A

I called this at the beginning of the season. Think about it. Alex Goligoski cracked Pittsburgh's line-up because Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar were injured. Without those injuries, he would have been in Wilkes-Barre all year. It's not that he can't play in the NHL -- he has proved he can stay there and do well. His main problem is that he doesn't have to clear waivers.

It's too bad for him. He had 20 points (6+14) in 44 games and remained a plus-5. He's a smart kid though. I'm sure he knew this was inevitable. I know Wilkes-Barre will welcome him with open arms. They're seven points behind first place Hershey, and this will help them close the gap.


How to Make Fans Nervous about Monday

I think that's exactly what BU's Friday night game against UMass-Lowell set out to do: make everyone nervous about the Beanpot Championship.

BU came out hard and fast in the first, scoring three goals in two minutes. Then they sat back and almost lost the game. I always say be cautious against UML. They usually aren't a top team, but they always work hard. They'll steal games right from under your nose when you start acting exactly like BU did last night. UML tied it up in the second period.

Vinny Saponari and Jason Lawrence finally got two in the third and closed the scoring. As usual, they had to wake up and get the ball rolling again. But I'm even more nervous about Monday now. Northeastern is a GOOD hockey club with an unreal goaltender. If you start getting big heads and playing lax hockey against them, you're going to pay for it.

Note: It looks like Northeastern fans might be nervous as well. They were up 2-1 against Merrimack but quickly found themselves down 3-2 in the third. Like BU, they battled back to win the game 4-3.

Monday will be interesting.



The Philadelphia Phantoms are donezo. They've officially been sold and will be relocating for next season. I feel weird and uncomfortable about this. As a Baby Pens fan, I've always hated the Phantoms with a passion. The rivalry provided for great, heated games between the two. I remember guys like Jesse Boulerice, Kirby Law, Boyd Kane, Neil Little and Antero Niitymaki. I also remember their hideous eggplant purple uniforms they used the one year -- I think it might have been 2005. It's just going to be strange not to have the Philly Phantoms around.

I hate to say it, but I'll miss them.


Just Say NO.

I'm not sure if you've heard the rumors going around that Hollywood is going to re-make Slapshot.


It just would not be the same. At all. There are so many reasons, and I'll leave you with THN's Ryan Kennedy's blog post about it. I agree with him 100%.

PS: Happy 100th Post!!


Beanpot Recap: BU Tops Harvard 4-3

I'll be the first to admit that Boston University stole this game. They were down 2-0 about a minute into the second period. BU was playing sloppy hockey. I don't know if it was nerves or the fact that maybe they got a big head with their new number one ranking. Whatever it was, it was not pretty. The Terriers still controlled the puck most of the time, but they had little chances. Crimson goalie Matt Hoyle was awesome tonight. He had three or four huge saves for Harvard.

BU looked a little better after they tied it up. They went ahead at the start of the third period, but found themselves tied up again when Harvard scored with about five minutes left to go. Jimmy Fraser took a penalty with 2:10 left to go in the third period and cost his team the game as BU scored a power play goal.

There was some rumblings as the period ended because Crimson forward Alex Biega shot the puck into the net CLEARLY after the final horn sounded. Nevertheless he continued to celebrate which prompted them to review the goal. Naturally, it wasn't a goal. It actually went in about a second after the horn.

BU definitely got away with that one. They will absolutely need to step up next Monday if they want to win this thing.

Here are some pictures I took during the game. Once again, they're from my phone -- and the very last row of the Garden -- so the quality could be better:


A shot after BU went up 3-2.

The BU student section. It's huge. I didn't even see a section for Harvard. Northeastern's was getting pretty big, but it didn't come close to matching BU's.

One word: BEANPOT.

Each year, the first two Mondays in February feature two of the best nights of college hockey all season. The Beanpot tournament is here once again ladies and gents. For those of you who don't know much about the tourney, the four Boston-area teams (Harvard, BU, BC and Northeastern) go head-to-head. To some of these guys, winning the Beanpot is even bigger than winning an NCAA championship. As a fan it sometimes feels that way too. Each team brings their very best hockey. It just feels special.

This year everyone is hoping for a BU vs. Northeastern final -- the number one and three teams in the nation respectively. That game would be unreal; the teams haven't met since November 16 where BU won 3-0. Things have changed a bit since then, and Northeastern has been on fire. But let's not get ahead of ourselves -- first BU has to beat Harvard (who can be sneaky from time to time) and NU has to get past BC. I would make predictions, but I'm also superstitious -- a.k.a I don't want to jinx anything. And in a tournament like this -- anything can happen. We all know who I'll be rooting for.

Game time is at 5 p.m. with BU facing off against Harvard. BC and Northeastern will play immediately following that game. NESN and Rogers Sportsnet will broadcast it on TV. I highly, HIGHLY recommend checking it out.

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