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Starsky without Hutch. (Getty Images)Your captions:
"Snow cones, here! Get your snow cones!"
-- Bob Townsend (Austintown, Ohio)
Lock of the week: Coyotes fans 8, Steroids 0 (Getty Images)
Ottawa fired the coach it promoted last summer, John Paddock. Ottawa's goalie, Ray Emery, appears to be more in love with the benefits of being a professional hockey player than the actual craft of being a professional hockey player. It's the music equivalent of Britney Spears and Allison Krauss. Ray would be Spears; Jean-Sebastien Giguere would be Krauss. One is less famous, but more committed. Ottawa has had injuries. They had some contracts to take care of; there's one left in Wade Redden that the Senators would have probably moved if he had waived his no-trade clause. That can weigh a team down; so can the lack of secondary scoring. With all this in mind, let's drop the puck in Anaheim. First period 20:00 -- The game is on. Ottawa starts its big line of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson. Anaheim counters with Samuel Paulson, Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen to check them. This is why Anaheim is still a Stanley Cup favorite. It can throw together these sturdy, mean, nasty lines to counter soft skill. 19:50 -- The game is seconds old and linesman Brad Lazarowich (No. 86) gets hit in the foot with a puck. The players mull around to see if Brad is OK. Later in the game, they will swear at him like a drunken sailor when he calls a close play offside. Brad is 45 and from Vancouver. He broke into the NHL in 1986, when he lined a game in Winnipeg. I'm sure that's why he wears No. 86. Now, when you go to your next game and see a linesman wearing No. 86, you can impress your date with that info. Women GO CRAZY for that stuff. As the players mull around to feign concern for Brad's pain and misery, I can't help but notice how much I love the number style employed by the Senators. Brad looks to really be in pain. I assume the concern is whether he has a broken bone. For now, he lines on. 18:43 -- Chris Kunitz breaks in alone and is denied by Martin Gerber. (Emery called in and said he was running late from his facial and pedicure. I'm pretty confident if you went to Emery and asked him, "A day at the spa or play the Ducks tonight?" he's goin' spa every time.) Gerber looks to have the confidence of a 14-year-old freshman going in for his first shower with the varsity team. Yes, at times, Gerber looks like a moose being born as he flops on the ice to cover the puck. Oh, the confidence he oozes. 18:17 -- Ducks play-by-play man John Ahlers just used a term I never heard before: "Sweater switch night." (Hey now!) The Ducks are wearing white and the Sens are in red. I know we've gone back and forth on this uniform color scheme throughout NHL history, but I believe most of us agree, after looking at the evidence and contemplating it, home NHL teams should wear white. It just feels right. I like this broadcast already. 17:59 -- Todd Bertuzzi is out there with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Ottawa counters with Dean McAmmond, Shean Donovan and Christoph Schubert. If Sens GM/coach Bryan Murray thinks that is a good matchup, he should fire himself right now. One word: mismatch. Get them off the ice now!
|Bucci believes Jason Spezza was the only Sens player to show up Monday night vs. the Ducks.|
5:00 -- 2-0 Anaheim. Power-play goal. Scott Niedermayer takes a pass from Weight, walks the line, wrists it toward the net and the puck appears to hit Senators defenseman Mike Commodore in the leg. They give the goal to Perry, his first in 10 games. 4:30 -- Andrej Meszaros injures his leg and Schubert, a defenseman who was playing forward, replaces Meszaros and promptly scores to make it 2-1. After the game, Schubert will go back to his hotel and write a symphony because, well, his name is Christoph Schubert and he just has to compose with a name like that. Heatley and Alfredsson get the assists. End of the first period -- 2-1 Anaheim. I don't see any way Ottawa wins this game or how it could ever beat Anaheim in a seven-game series unless the Ducks are hit with malaria. Second period 18:40 -- Bertuzzi is really looking good with Getzlaf. He is moving well and his hands and feet are fast. This could be the most dangerous line once the postseason begins. Bertuzzi looks healthy and Southern California probably is a good place for him to play. The cauldron of Canada might be too much for his personality. 16:30 -- Another good graphic from FSN. Since 1997, no team has returned to the conference finals after reaching and losing in the Cup finals. The Capitals (1998), Hurricanes (2002), Ducks (2003) and Oilers (2006) all missed the playoffs the season after reaching the Cup finals. The Stars made it to the second round of the postseason after reaching the 2000 finals. In the most difficult tasks and challenges, hunger is the most important ingredient, then confidence. Ottawa looks like a team that is lacking both. The Sens' talent will carry them through the regular season; but if they don't get hungry and confident soon, they won't last long. 14:28 -- This Ottawa team needs Chris Neil's presence badly. It looks like Ottawa is playing an intrasquad game without Neil's passion and intensity. They are an easy opponent so far. The cast of "Full House" would give Anaheim a better game. 8:10 -- Speaking of television shows from the '90s, Matthew Perry is in the house for the game! Matthew was born in Massachusetts, but raised in Ottawa by his mom, thus his affection for the Sens (although these Sens were not born until Matty Ballgame was 23). Matthew's mother, Suzanne Morrison, was the press agent for Pierre Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, during the '70s and '80s. Perry has dual citizenship in Canada and the United States. He spoke the last line in the final episode of "Friends" in 2004. When it's suggested the group go out for coffee, his character, Chandler, says "Where?" There were 236 episodes of "Friends" between 1994 and 2004. OK, back to the game. Damn you, Matthew Perry! No relation to Corey Perry or Mathieu Schneider. End of second period -- While all that was going on, not much was going on during the second period. 2-1 Anaheim after 40 minutes. Ottawa had five scoring chances and one chance off the rush. One more Ducks goal early in the third should seal it. Third period
|Matthew Perry was good on 'Friends,' but likely wouldn't fare as well in a fight with Marc-Andre Bergeron.|
• Burke's wife, Jennifer Mather, works in Vancouver as a television personality and Burke has often said he will retire in Vancouver. L.A. to Vancouver: 1,072 miles as the crow flies and it's the same time zone. Toronto to Vancouver: 2,091 miles, almost twice as far for the commuter. Of course, Mather could move up marketwise and get a job in Toronto. • Burke should be named GM for Team USA's entry for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. He would love it. But could that really work? The Olympics are an emotional time. How does Burke balance being the enemy of Canada while trying to reconstruct the Leafs? That seems daunting to me. It might come down to what job he wants more. Leafs GM or Olympic GM. He could do both, but I don't think that's feasible. • The Ducks could be good for some time. Now, if Selanne and Scott Niedermayer retire, the Ducks will lose a step, but will still be good. They gain cap room, and don't forget that lottery pick this June. Toronto has major challenges as it continues to age. But Burke probably knows the Ducks might be at their peak right now. This would be a good time to get out, and it certainly gives him the most leverage in contract talks. • Anybody would love to have the Leafs GM job right now. They are at the lowest low despite their recent play and it would be fun to go in there, clean house, debate with the local media, make big moves and fix things. You know the prospect of that gets Burke's blood flowing. It gets mine flowing.
My heart says he will take the Leafs job; my head says he will not. 10:54 -- Oh, by the way, the game is still 2-1. This game is begging for something to happen. Weight just made a great pass to Selanne. I think this combination will work. The Sens are called for a high-sticking penalty and a bench minor. This should be the nail the Ducks are looking for. Niedermayer, Schneider, Getzlaf, Selanne and Kunitz on the power play. 10:01 -- Great play by Schneider to set up Niedermayer, who scores just in front of the left faceoff dot. 3-1 and Anaheim is still on the power play.
8:02 -- Bertuzzi needs to shoot more. When Getzlaf makes a nice play and feeds you, shoot. Shoot! Shoot! A lawnmower would score 13 goals playing with Getzlaf. 6:53 --Wow! Murray was just run! Thrown out of the game, baseball style! When do you see that?! No bench penalty, just gone. No thrown bench like Robbie Ftorek or anything. Murray must have used some "American Pie" DVD extra language because he didn't even argue the ejection. His team's soft effort and lack of a physical response must be sickening him. Let's see how they respond. There have been no fights in this game and Anaheim will fight anyone, anytime. Marc-Andre Bergeron just challenged Matthew Perry. 15:40 -- Another double-minor on the Sens. Slashing and unsportsmanlike conduct on Randy Robitaille. And that will do it. Final score: Anaheim 3, Ottawa 1. What we learned
Anaheim: The Ducks are perfectly peaking. They have all the ingredients to be the favorite in every best-of-seven series they play in. No one has better résumés from the net out than Anaheim. Don't count them out in their pursuit of Dallas for first place in the Pacific Division and the Stanley Cup. They have to be considered a strong favorite to repeat.
Mother of All Mailbags John,
It is great to have Ken the Otter back. I was afraid he had been ... well ... we won't go there.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
|One of Bucci's favorite lines: 'It's in the hole.'|
I just saw a preview for Michael Myers new movie, and immediately thought of you. Were you hired as a consultant, merging your love of all things Michael Myers with your love of hockey?
Jim AlbrightI just watched "Austin Powers in Goldmember" the other day. SOOO underrated. The three Austin Powers movies came out in 1997, 1999 and 2002. We are due for another one and Mike Myers has hinted a fourth is coming. Probably in 2009 or 2010.
The latest Myers movie is called "The Love Guru" and it is scheduled to be released this June. The plot outline reads like this: "Pitka, an American raised outside of his country by gurus, returns to the States in order to break into the self-help business. His first challenge: To settle the romantic troubles and subsequent professional skid of a star hockey player whose wife left him for a rival athlete."
Myers plays Pitka. Jessica Alba and Justin Timberlake also star in the movie. Verne "Mini Me" Troyer plays a Russian coach. And I can tell you Barry Melrose read some lines for the movie from the "SportsCenter" studio. If it doesn't get cut, Barry will be on the big screen again.
|'The Mullet is going to be in one of my movies? Yeah, baby!'|
Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
Please, please, please use whatever pull you have (or get Melrose on the soapbox) to get the NHL to extend overtime to 10 minutes. The five minutes is just not enough; 4-on-4 is wide open and shootouts would be rarer. I just finished watching the Flyers-Sens game and the game was good, but the overtime was some of the most exciting hockey I have seen all year!
I've been pushing for five more minutes of 4-on-4 hockey in this space for four years. It would hardly take more real time and fewer games would get to shootouts, preserving its uniqueness. I have also been pushing for you to buy the first two CDs from Editors. And for insane, playoff-hockey metal, buy the debut CD from Five Finger Death Punch.
Do you think Montreal has what it takes to win it all for their 100th anniversary next season? Every expert ranked them at the bottom of the Eastern Conference last season. But man, our young players are amazing! Both Kostitsyns, Carey Price, Chris Higgins and Tomas Plekanec. Alexei Kovalev should be considered for MVP and our defense is one of the most underappreciated in the league with Mike Komisarek, Andrei Markov and Roman Hamrlik. I think we are not that far away from the Cup. What do you think?
La Coupe Stanley aux Canadiens!
But back to the Habs as a whole. I love their team. They play and have the same energetic buzz the Sabres had in their previous two seasons. We have to see if the Habs are built for the playoff grind. It's not so much the level of play in the postseason; I think that is a big difference in the NHL's past and present. The difference in the regular season and postseason is not as drastic as it once was. There is more regular-season intensity night in and night out than there used to be. The league is younger and fitter, and a large percentage of the games are very competitive because of parity and a deeper player pool. Some guys can't play very well, but they can skate. Old-school hockey had players who were bad AND slow.
The intensity does go up a few notches in the postseason, but if the Canadiens just play their game, they could be a threat with their skill and balance. We'll just have to see how some of the young players react.
Now, there are kids who are undeniably more competitive than others, who "care" more than others. These are kids who have an athletic knack and awareness and are more "advanced" when it comes to hockey. I have no problem with perhaps giving these kids a little more ice time. This can be done tactfully, strategically and intelligently without anyone on the team knowing it. I am completely against pulling a 7- or 8-year-old kid off a line he has skated with the entire game and putting a "better" player on that line late in a game or in power-play situations. This is bad for the self-esteem of the kid who skates off the ice embarrassed and it is hypocritical of the coach who preaches "teamwork." The purpose of youth sports is to teach the value of exercise as it pertains to health and its byproduct of an energetic existence. It is to teach the value of improvement. We improve when we are nurtured, loved, respected and "pushed" by enthusiasm, energy and affection. There is no upside to demeaning, embarrassing or yelling at a preadolescent athlete in terms of winning and losing. Have organization and order, yes. But they should all play.
There are plenty of quality places to read stories on Zednik, including ESPN.com. In those situations, I usually like to offer something else, since so many are writing and talking about it around the World Wide Web. I figure I can provide a reprieve. Then, when things settle down and people move on to the "next" thing, I like to bring the issue back and use the benefits of time, perspective and your e-mails. Here are more:John, I was at the ice rink in high school when my friend was refereeing a kids' game. After the play, he bent down to pick up the puck, and at the same time, one of the players fell. The kid's skate sliced my friend across the neck leaving a 6-inch scar parallel to his jaw, centered at his trachea. The only reason he survived is because one of the parents watching the game was a doctor. The sad irony? He was one of the few kids that actually wore neck guards during our games. Neck guards should be mandatory at the lower levels, but in the NHL? Too many players would find them constricting or useless. Neck guards don't cover the entire neck and only serve to deflect the damage to another area. It's unfortunate when it happens, but often times there's little one can do. It's a freak accident. Should we enforce full cages? That doesn't sound realistic, and how many times do players gets sticks up in the eye area? A lot more often than skates to the neck. Michael,