Gross Misconduct Hockey Thoughts from a drifter on the hockey landscape

05/22/2010

I was on the radio – For real

Big thanks to Matt and Jeff on The Weekend Warmup at 96.3 the Big Jab in Portland, Maine for having me on the show with them this morning talking about hockey. Being a one-time radio producer, it was fun to be on the other end of the phone this time.

We talked Bruins failure, Bruins future and whether or not Joe Thornton is finally being Chokie Chokerson or not in the playoffs.

Part 1 is here.  5-22-10-BigJab-Portland-ME-Part1

Part 2 is here. 5-22-10-BigJab-Portland-ME1-Part2

The guys are still smarting over the Bruins and who can blame them really.

04/12/2010

NHL Playoffs Preparation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Joe Yerdon @ 1:27 AM

I’m keeping this one simple for everyone.

Eastern Conference

1. Washington v.  8. Montreal

2. New Jersey v. 7. Philadelphia

3. Buffalo v. 6.  Boston

4. Pittsburgh v. 5. Ottawa

Western Conference

1. San Jose v.  8. Colorado

2. Chicago v.  7. Nashville

3. Vancouver v.  6. Los Angeles

4. Phoenix v.  5.Detroit

For those of you who may have gotten dumbstruck and made completely insane by the regular season, here’s your photo reminder/tool to use on fans whose team loses in extended overtime(s).

You’re welcome.

03/31/2010

Today’s Self-Serving Linkage

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Joe Yerdon @ 2:07 PM

Since I’ve been going ape-nuts since returning from Minnesota and the Final Five some new and exciting things have been going on.  I was tempted to go really low-brow on how to hype this but instead I’ll just call this “Linkage With Dinklage.”

Dinklage is the man.

I’ve been offered and accepted a part-time writing gig over at Pro Hockey Talk.  Not familiar with it?  You will be, it’s NBC Sports venture into the hockey blog world.  A couple nights a week I’ll be holding down the news desk there and cranking out quick hit stories and snark for the NHL’s USA broadcast partner.

I won’t give you all a heads up on what nights I’ll be there because that would be really annoying, I’ll just rely on all of you to keep checking in to see when I’m there.  It also helps that there’s a couple of other kick-ass writers there already as Brandon, formerly of Defending Big D and From The Rink runs the joint and James from Cycle Like the Sedins is doing his thing too.

Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, yes that was me being interviewed over at Goal Line Report under Kuklas Korner’s empire of blogs.  I’d like to thank Patrick Hoffman for reaching out to ask me about hockey and about my little slice of the Internet here.

03/24/2010

NCAA Hockey Tournament: Expect Chaos

Fans get confused when the term “March Madness” gets thrown around. I’m sure most of you attribute it to the NCAA basketball tournament and that’s fine and all but the last few years it’s applied more to the NCAA hockey tournament than anything else.

Back in 2003 when the NCAA expanded the hockey tournament to 16 teams and allowing a traditional bracket presentation to four regional sites (as opposed to the old 12 team format with the top seed in each region getting a bye), it seemed that the this format was made to allow the top seeds a game to warm up against a weak sister opponent.  In 2003, 2004 and 2005 no top seed lost their first round game against one of the bottom 12 teams in the field.

When 2006 rolled around it appeared as though things would continue along that same path… That is until Holy Cross shocked the college hockey world by beating the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first round of the West Regional in Grand Forks, North Dakota 4-3. Holy Cross’ win set off shockwaves as the Gophers are (or rather were) traditionally a tough out of the tournament and here they were getting bounced out of the tourney on hostile ice (no, that’s not a Sioux joke) and ensuring that North Dakota would always hold a soft spot in the hearts of Sioux fans everywhere.  Was it a fluke win for a team that just played the perfect game? A lot of folks believed that was the case but…

In 2007, two top seeds bit it in the first round as Clarkson was upended by Massachusetts 1-0 in the East Regional and Miami University took out New Hampshire 2-1 in Manchester, NH of all places.  Top seeded Notre Dame needed two overtimes to finally oust Alabama-Huntsville in their 1 vs. 4 game.  Perhaps parity was coming to college hockey after seeing a lot of the familiar names consistently floating to the top year after year.

2008 seemed to turn a hose on those thoughts as one top seed found their way out of the tournament, New Hampshire getting blown out by Notre Dame 7-3 in the West Regional meanwhile top seeds Michigan and North Dakota stormed their way to the Frozen Four while 2 seed Boston College knocked off 1 seed Miami in the regional final en route to winning the National Championship. Order restored, right?  Not quite.

2009’s NCAA hockey tournament went down in the books as the one where top seeds went to die.  Notre Dame, Michigan and Denver were all upset in the opening round of the tournament.  The Fighting Irish were taken out by the buzzsaw that was Bemidji State, Denver was ousted by co-buzzsaw Miami University and Michigan was shutout by Air Force.  Miami and Bemidji State both advanced to the Frozen Four and Miami moved on to the Finals where they gave the final top seed of the tournament, Boston University, all they could handle in the National Championship game before surrendering a two-goal lead in the final minutes of the game and then losing in overtime to give the Terriers the championship.

Two four seeds, a three seed and a one seed in the Frozen Four.  It still boggles the mind to think and know that this happened and turned out one of the best tournaments of all time and easily the most exciting one of the 16 team format.  So that leaves the question, can some kind of alchemy be thrown together to make things happen in 2010 the way they did in 2009?  It very well could happen. Taking a look at the top seeds around the tournament, there’s a handful of them who come in with glaring issues.

The top team in the East Region, Denver University, limps into the NCAAs after losing both of their games at the WCHA Final Five.  Denver has a boatload of talent, including two Hobey Baker Award nominees in senior forward Rhett Rakhshani (Islanders draftee) and junior goaltender Marc Cheverie (Panthers draftee).  Denver’s seeming disinterest in playing North Dakota and Wisconsin in the Final Five was a bit alarming, although they did have a top seed in the tournament locked up.  Were they too busy looking ahead to the tournament or is there actual reason to worry if you’re a Pioneers fan?  Tough to say, but if they don’t come out on fire in their opening round game against R.I.T. they could be in for a world of frustration.

For R.I.T. it’s their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament and head coach Wayne Wilson’s Tigers will be ready to roll on Friday afternoon.  Forwards Cameron Burt and Andrew Favot carry the scoring load while Jared DeMichiel and his 2.00 goals against average will do his best to keep the Pioneers off the board.  Senior defenseman Dan Ringwald brings stability and scoring touch to the blue line while freshman Chris Tanev has been a revelation for the Tigers working the rearguard. R.I.T. comes into the tournament on fire after steamrolling their opponents in the Atlantic Hockey tournament and already got their wake up call in the opening round when a terrible UConn team took them to overtime in Game 1 of the quarterfinals.

Yes, I realize that Atlantic Hockey is a brutal conference as far as competition goes and yes, I also realize that R.I.T. played zero teams this year who were under consideration for the NCAA Tournament and these things work against the Tigers, but the same thing could essentially have been said about that 2006 Holy Cross team too.  Denver comes into the NCAA Tournament as the #2 overall seed while R.I.T. is 15th out of the 16 teams. The Pioneers have been sleepwalking their way through March going 3-3-0 at the time of year when you should be kicking the snot out of everyone in sight.  Facing a jacked up R.I.T. squad may not be the medicine Denver is looking for to make their run at a title.

In the Midwest Region, Miami University sits as the top seed and they above everyone else in this tourney should understand what it means to come in as a hungry fourth seed as they’ve pulled two upsets of their own from that position but were they ever as motivated as their opponents this year, Alabama-Huntsville, were as a four seed?  I’d have to say no.  For the UAH Chargers, this is their last go-round until they land in another conference.  As was mentioned here before the season, the CCHA turned their backs on UAH and the growth of college hockey when they denied UAH’s bid to join the conference next season.

Fast forward to the College Hockey Association tournament this year, Alabama-Huntsville steals their way to the CHA tournament championship to enter the NCAAs as the only team with a losing record and, of course, get to face off against the top team from the CCHA.  Meanwhile, the team that was upset in the CHA tournament, Bemidji State, faces the University of Michigan in the other game in the Midwest Region.

You could refer to this region as the “Roll-over Region” as some conspiracy theorists have said that Miami rolled over for Michigan in the CCHA Tournament while Bemidji rolled over for Niagara in the CHA Tournament so their four-team conference could get two teams in the NCAAs since Bemidji State already had a spot in the NCAAs as it was.  I hope you folks had your tin foil hats on real tight there to handle that kind of black helicopter magic.  That’s besides the point here.  Instead you’ve got two CCHA v. CHA games in the Midwest and wouldn’t fans of karma love seeing a UAH v. Bemidji showdown to see who moves on to the Frozen Four in Detroit.

The downside here is that UAH is going to need all the heart and guts and puck-luck they’ve ever mustered to get by the Miami Redhawks.  Miami enters the tournament as the #1 team in the whole thing and they’ve got a lot of guys back from last year’s NCAA Finals team who have that stinging loss sticking out in their minds.  Hobey Baker Award nominee, goaltender Cody Reichard comes into the tournament with beastly numbers. Sporting a .924 save percentage and a goals against average of 1.79 are stunning numbers at the college level, especially in the CCHA.  Scoring-wise, the Redhawks have a quintet of scorers lead by senior Jarod Palmer (18-27-45) and four juniors Tommy Wingels, Andy Miele, Carter Camper and Pat Cannone.  Miami can fill the net easily and stop the pucks with ease… Unless they’re up against Michigan apparently.

What makes Miami ripe for an upset?  Since January, the Redhawks have had a handful of head-scratching losses starting with being swept in a weekend series by Robert Morris. While that could be chalked up to being a bad weekend, Miami has been prone to “hiccups” like losing to Nebraska-Omaha, losing and tying Ohio State, and then losing to Michigan in the CCHA semifinals.  Ideally if you’re a team looking to win a National Championship you want to have your “hiccup” games earlier in the season and Miami seems to be having them more regularly later in the year.

West Region top seed Wisconsin comes into the tournament after playing hard and coming away with a 1-1 record in the WCHA Final Five, losing in the semifinals to St. Cloud State while kicking Denver in the teeth in the consolation game.  Wisconsin has a boatload of talent including two Hobey Baker Award nominees in forward Blake Geoffrion (Nashville) and defenseman Brendan Smith (Detroit).  Not to mention WJC superstar Derek Stepan (NYR), freshman forward Craig Smith (Nashville) and undrafted senior forward leaders Ben Street and  Michael Davies and you’ve got yourself a pretty dangerous team.

Wisconsin finds themselves matched up against the University of Vermont, losers to Boston University in the National Semifinals last year.  Vermont has played beastly in non-conference games this year and luckily for them Wisconsin is not a Hockey East team.  What makes this game intriguing is that these teams both play the game with a special focus dedicated to team defense, which means that flukey things occurring could turn this game on its head as far as Wisconsin is concerned.  The Badgers have the superior talent in this game without a question and Vermont lacks the game-breaking talent that they had last year with Viktor Stalberg but if Vermont can put the clamps down and make Wisconsin try to earn everything in the game, Vermont could steal one. Wisconsin has to be wary though as Vermont has been wildly inconsistent this year and if the good Vermont team shows up, the Badgers are in for a real tough game.

As for the East Region top seed Boston College… They look good and strong.  The 7-6 overtime win against Maine in the Hockey East title game aside, Boston College has been a ferocious team comparable to past title-winning BC teams.  Their losses this year have been close ones and many of their wins have been thoroughly dominating.  If there’s a reason to worry if you’re a Boston College fan it would be that the bad John Muse shows up in goal against the offensively-maligned Nanooks of Alaska.  Dion Nelson and Andy Taranto are the only scorers of note for the Nanooks and provided that the BC defense doesn’t allow them any room, Boston College shouldn’t have any problems with Alaska.

Then again, there’s a good reason why they play the games and Alaska goaltender Scott Greenham is capable of shutting down big scoring teams.   Can he do it against a team that’s been punishing everyone for the last month and a half and has a stud from the WJC gold medal team in Chris Kreider (NYR)?  I’ll hedge my bets enough and say, “no” this time.  Boston College looks like a frightening team and have a potential second round match-up against a team they haunt in the NCAA Tournament with North Dakota.

Whether or not any of these four seeds can do the seeming impossible and take out their top seeded overlords remains to be seen, but as has been shown in recent years the chances are improving each year to see someone with high hopes to be crushed under the weight of expectations and perhaps looking too far ahead for their own good.

03/13/2010

The Most Homeriffic Post You’ll Ever Read

I’m throwing all caution out the window here. I used to be a pretty superstitious son of a bitch, but not anymore.  My alma mater, Oswego State University, is in the NCAA Tournament for Division III hockey and they play in the Quarterfinals tonight against Bowdoin College.

Now, I used to attend Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, MA and Bowdoin was a regular opponent for the MCLA Mohawks back when they had a hockey program. I haven’t seen Bowdoin in a game in 12 years now and I can say sufficiently that my life has been better because of it. After all, what’s worse than playing an uptight NESCAC school? An uptight NESCAC school from the middle of nowhere Maine.

You know Maine, the state that time forgot and Bowdoin College is located in Brunswick, Maine – a town propped up thanks to the Brunswick Naval Complex. Pssh, way to succeed on your own you snooty bastards.

Maine is so far north of everything else that they have their own Canadian major-junior team, the Lewiston MAINEiacs.  See what they did there?! Such wit!  Now explain to me how a place that’s supposedly in America gets a team that plays in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League? Quebec is the province that even Canada doesn’t want so I suppose it’s fair that they have a team located in the state the United States doesn’t want. It’s a crappy trade, but a trade nonetheless… I suppose.

Bowdoin’s chief rival in the NESCAC is Colby College which is somehow even further away in Maine and located further into the darkened arctic wilderness of this renegade member of the Union.  I guess it’s easy to say that a school that’s equally rich and snobby in your state is your rival, who else are they competing with anyways? Every other NESCAC school is located in Vermont, Boston, Connecticut or… New York? I thought these were supposed to be the smart schools and yet here’s a New York college playing in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. Stupid rich people think they can draw the geographical lines of distinction.

As for Bowdoin’s sports teams, their team nicknames are the Polar Bears. Now this is one instance I’ll give them credit. They live in the God-forsaken state of Maine and I’m sure they’ve tricked enough people into thinking that, yes, indeed they’ve got polar bears there.

Not found in Maine: POLAR BEARS

What makes Bowdoin’s teams being named the polar bears even more fun though is it allows for things like this.

See… It’s crass, tasteless and hilarious – just like this PSA!

You’re right ER’s Noah Wylie, a tragedy will be unfolding and that will be the merciless slaughter of skating polar bears on the ice in Oswego.  It’s going to be as if Oswego State will be a pack of poachers who were tipped off about a glorious and rare pack of polar bears whose asses were packed with diamonds and it’s time to cash in.

Oh sure, polar bears are the largest carnivores on land and some websites like to show off about that and make them the feature of an online video game, but those aren’t real at all.  In fact, man is so awesome that he’s doing everything possible to make sure those pesky polar bears don’t get too pushy about owning the arctic wilderness.

After all, what happens if you let polar bears take over the planet?  This is what happens:

That’s right, they get really indignant, learn how to fly fighter jets, start rocking out to Kenny Loggins and destroy the entire fucking universe. Does anyone want that on their conscience? I don’t think so, and it’s up to the human race to make sure this doesn’t happen.

That PSA does tell us one thing though and that is that man and water completely kick a polar bear’s ass.  How convenient and perfect is it then that Oswego State’s moniker is the “Lakers,” people who reside and work on a body of water.  As Noah Wylie so delicately told us, humans are ruining everything for polar bears and let’s just say the trend is going to continue this weekend Bowdoin. Sure, you think your polar bears are all cute and cuddly and need help but fuck that noise. It’s time to be put back in your place and there’s not going to be any weebly, wobbly platforms of ice to bail you out.

Go Lakers.

03/05/2010

College Hockey: First Round – RPI v. Brown

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Joe Yerdon @ 4:50 PM

It’s been four years since RPI hosted a playoff series and that last one didn’t exactly end all that well with ECAC newbie Quinnipiac sweeping the Engineers out of the playoffs in two games.  The last time Brown and RPI met in the playoffs, it was 2005 and the games were in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown swept that series in two games.

Of course, anyone who dares to bring distant history between these two teams into play to come up with a potential outcome is crazy and should not be trusted.  In fact, don’t even let that person have regular scissors, give them safety scissors and only allow them to cut construction paper very poorly with them.  I’d also suggest keeping them away from the Elmer’s glue too because they might ingest all of it.

Now if we’re going to do the right thing, we’re going to look things over by comparing what the teams did this year and for Brown, despite the 11th place finish, it’s a year of accomplishment and they’ll enter the playoffs with a sense of fearlessness.  Why not? They went into last year’s playoffs as one of the worst teams in the country and knocked off the fifth seeded Harvard Crimson.  This years team is decidedly better but they’ll get a bigger test than they did last year in dealing with RPI.

RPI goes into the playoffs this year sitting in the exact opposite position they were in last year hosting the 11th seed rather than being the 11th seed.  Last year’s team went into the playoffs playing a little bit better and capitalized on then freshman goalie Allen York’s stellar play in sweeping out Dartmouth.  This time around the expectations are much higher and winning in the first round is a necessity, but they’ll get a taste of what they doled out to Dartmouth last year as Brown is going to make life difficult for the Engineers.

Brown’s plan will be to pressure the RPI puck carriers deep in their own end and to bottle up the neutral zone to keep RPIs free-wheeling attack at bay and to eliminate chances. It’s not fun to see, but the key for RPI to loosen things up is to score first and get a couple of them.  The other key for RPI is to play smart.  Brown was effective at drawing penalties against RPI at their matchup in Providence this year, whether they were real or not is up for debate, but they drew them nonetheless and if there’s a fact of life in the ECAC its that the men in stripes are going to be wildly inconsistent.  You can’t really prepare for it but you have to know what to do just in case things get out of hand one way or the other.

I know, that sounds stupid but it’s a way of life in the ECAC… At least until it’s the semifinals and the finals when things get cleaned up a lot.  Go figure.

V.

Many folks are banking on this series to be short and sweet and starting to look forward to an RPI-Union playoff series next weekend. I’m not much of  a fan of looking past anyone, but if you’re a fan this is what ends up happening a lot of the time as it is.  RPI is going to have to earn just about everything this weekend if they’re going to come out of this weekend alive. All season long, Brown has played everyone very tough and they don’t allow other teams to do anything easily against them and that’s certainly going to be the case this weekend as well.

Brown doesn’t fear being the Cinderella team and playing with nothing really to lose can be a benefit to a team like this that will come out and play tight, system hockey to keep things close so that a lucky bounce here or there can turn the game for them.  Essentially everything I’ve said about Brown is a long-winded version of what Joe Glads at INCH had to say about them.

As for self-servingness, I’ll be providing color analysis of this weekend’s games for WRPI radio and with the bonus that the game will also be carried via video thanks to RPI TV on UStream. It’s their video and WRPI’s audio, so you can actually see if we’re making up what we’re talking about. Keep in mind, we don’t have access to this video as we’re doing the game so yeah, if we screw up that’s our bad.

Audio stream of WRPI is available by clicking here.

The UStream coverage from RPI-TV is available here.

These links will be available for all the games this weekend, so bookmark them for future use.

03/03/2010

Deadline Day – Deal 14: Washington-Carolina

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Joe Yerdon @ 3:17 PM

Trade:

Washington gets: defenseman Joe Corvo

Carolina gets: defenseman Brian Pothier, prospect Oskar Osala and a 2nd Round pick

Analysis:

Washington adds a guy who is a puck moving defenseman who didn’t enjoy the pressure of playing in Ottawa.

Um… Yeah, enjoy the new hockey hotbed of Washington, D.C. Joe.  Yikes.

Carolina gets a guy I’ve got a soft spot for in Pothier who is a former RPI defenseman and adds a big-bodied prospect in Osala. I know what the Capitals are thinking on this move (veteran defenseman being a good thing) but this has nothing but bad mojo written all over it for Washington and it reeks of being a panic move.

Deadline Day – Deal 13: Lee Stempniak to Phoenix

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Joe Yerdon @ 3:09 PM

Trade:

Phoenix gets: Lee Stempniak

Toronto gets: 4th and 7th Round Draft picks

Analysis:

Phoenix adds a solid penalty killer and depth forward that makes Phoenix even more difficult to deal with in the playoffs.  Toronto adds some more draft picks to its collection. This deal is all about the Coyotes but the Maple Leafs will get the attention. The Coyotes are coming out of this deadline looking much nicer.

Deadline Day – Deal 12: Jurcina Back To Washington

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Joe Yerdon @ 3:00 PM

Trade:

Washington gets: defenseman Milan Jurcina

Columbus gets:  6th Round pick

Analysis:

The Capitals just dealt Jurcina in late December in the deal that also sent Chris Clark to the Blue Jackets in exchange for Jason Chimera. The fact that the Capitals are now re-acquiring Jurcina could mean that the asking price for other defensemen they were looking at was too far over their head.  It’s a head-scratcher of a move for the Capitals because Jurcina is not good and is strictly a depth guy for the Caps.

Dumb, dumb, dumb deal which is made even dumber thanks to the revelation made by TSN’s Bob McKenzie on Twitter that Jurcina was just diagnosed with a sports hernia.  Perhaps this one just gets recalled.

Deadline Day – Deal 11: Buffalo-Atlanta

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Joe Yerdon @ 2:42 PM

Trade:

Buffalo gets: 3rd and 4th Round picks

Atlanta gets: Clarke MacArthur

Analysis:

MacArthur seemed to run out of rope in Buffalo and he was buried on the lower lines. There’s talent there but perhaps this is just a change of scenery move for him going to the Thrashers.  Not much really happening here.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress