Monday, October 31, 2011

Top secret: NHL's annual Halloween party

Every year, the NHL hosts a top secret Halloween party at an unknown catering hall in New York City.  Why NYC?  Because Gary Bettman lives nearby and whatever he wants...happens.  Through some hard work and research, I was able to find out where the party was this year, and well, here's what happened.

Gary Bettman (dressed as Mario Lemieux): Good evening, everyone, I'd like to welcome you to the NHL's annual Halloween Party.  I'd like to especially welcome all of the rookies and first-timers here tonight.  We have an open bar, so enjoy everyone!

*Gabriel Landeskog, Jeff Skinner, Adam Larsson, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and many other under-21 players run over to the open bar, only to be escorted into a small private room with Brendan Shanahan.

Brian Burke (dressed as a wizard): Evening, Pete.  How's it going?

Peter Chiarelli (dressed as a bear): It's going well, Brian, and you?  (*flashes Burke his Stanley Cup ring*)

Brian Burke: Good.  Glad to hear that.  You know...

Peter Chiarelli (interrupts): Yes, I know, Phil Kessel leads the league in goal scoring.  (Burke smiles)  But I have a ring.

Sean Avery (dressed as a clown) - (interrupts both Burke and Chiarelli): Hey guys.  Wanna put a claim in for me?  (Chiarelli and Burke stare at each other, and awkwardly walk away.)

Rick DiPietro (dressed as a hockey goalie): Hey Jack, how are you?

Jack Capuano (dressed as Mets pitcher Chris Capuano): Doing well, Ricky.  *Shakes DiPietro's hand.*

Rick DiPietro: Owwww!!  *Falls to the ground in pain.*

Jack Capuano: *Calls across the room* Garth, Rick is done for the season!

Jeff Skinner (dressed as Giants pitcher Brian Wilson): Come here, guys, I found a secret entrance to the bar!  *Skinner leads the under-21 players into the bar and pours them drinks.

Andrew Ladd: (to his Jets teammates): Who is that guy over at the buffet?  That's not.......oh no.  *walks over to buffet table.*  Kyle, how much food can you possibly eat?

Kyle Wellwood (dressed as Santa Claus): Hey, I'm just trying to be authentic...

Alex Ovechkin (dressed as Superman): HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Chris Pronger (dressed as a boxer): Shutup! *Elbows Ovechkin to the ground.* 

Alex Ovechkin: Hey, Chris, look at what that guy wrote on my Twitter!

Brendan Shanahan (dressed as a traffic cop): Hey, Pronger, Gary told me to keep a close eye on you tonight.

Chris Pronger: Dammit.  *Shrugs shoulders and heads to the penalty room.*

Brendan Shanahan: Pronger, keep an eye on the kids in there.

Pavel Datsyuk: *Walks around the room stealing everyone's drinks.*  Here you go, Nik.

Nikolai Khabibulin: Thanks, Pavel.  You're so good at playing your role in real life.

Dany Heatley (sitting at a table with his teammates): Hey, can someone get me a drink?  I'm too lazy to get it myself.

Ilya Bryzgalov (dressed as a hunter in the woods): Hey bartender, can I get a refill?

Bartender: Sure.  *Slides a shot glass down the front of the bar, Bryzgalov misses it and it falls off the edge of the bar.*

Jonathan Quick: Look out!  *Sprints over to the bar and dives to catch the shot glass.*

Ilya Bryzgalov: Nice save, Quick.

*Suddenly, someone dressed as Roadrunner from Looney Tunes races across the room.*

Rick DiPietro (still on the floor): Was that Grabs?

Glen Sather (dressed as Michael Swenson, who was one of the members of Goldman Sachs blamed for poor investment decisions): Damn, I have to sign that Grabner kid.

Gary Bettman: Glen, you're not tampering with anyone, are you?  You know we have integrity in this league, right?

Zach Parise: Hey Gary, he was talking to me too.

Shea Weber: Me too!

Gary Bettman: Does anyone feel the ground shaking?  *Ground shakes.*

Zdeno Chara (dressed as the Hulk): Sorry I'm late.

Brian Burke: Mike, go make yourself useful.

Mike Komisarek: Sorry, Brian, I don't think I can do that.

Ron Wilson: Ha, he got that right...

Bruce Boudreau (dressed as Eminem): *Slams his foot on a chair.*  What the @#$%?  This &!@#$% chair, oh @!#$.

Paul Bissonnette (dressed as Dan Carcillo): Hey Danny, did you see this costume?  *Shows Dan Carcillo (dressed as Paul Bissonnette) his cell phone.*

*Avery approaches BizNasty and Carcillo, and they eventually start a brawl, destroying everything in sight.

Chris Pronger: Hey, I want a part of this!  *Jumps on top of Avery.*

Brendan Shanahan: *Blows referee whistle.*  Hey, Pronger, get back in there!

Paul Holmgren: I think I'll claim that Avery guy.

Scott Hartnell: No, please, no!  *Hartnell falls.*  Dammit.

Gary Bettman: Okay, this is out of hand.  Party's over.

Zdeno Chara: Aww, c'mon, we haven't had dessert yet.

Kyle Wellwood: Say what??

Gary Bettman: O-o-okay, Z-zdeno, we'll have dessert.  *Sweating as he looks up at Chara.*

NHL Power Rankings - Week of October 30th, 2011

Welcome to Week 3 of DGA's NHL Power Rankings.  This is becoming a regular feature on this site, just as Detroit is a regular member of the NHL playoffs every season.  There is another new #1, as the Caps have dropped 4 straight.  I don't think I was alive the last time this team was ranked #1 in any power rankings.

1. Toronto Maple Leafs (+6) - The 7-3-1 Leafs have the league's leading scorer and with a win in New Jersey on Wednesday, they'll be one point behind Pittsburgh with two games at hand.  That in itself is pretty funny.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (--) - When the Pens saw Rick DiPietro come into the game for the shootout for the Isles the other night, you can't help but wonder if the Pens' strategy was to crash the net...

3. Dallas Stars (+2) - Now that they have Sheldon Souray, Dallas fans can finally get over letting Sergei Zubov go.

4. Los Angeles Kings (--) - Look, the Kings are good, but how do you end a shutout streak to the New Jersey Devils?

5. Washington Capitals (-4) - Tomas Vokoun may want to take some puck-handling lessons from a goalie who has actually touched a puck before.

6. San Jose Sharks (+3) - All that separates San Jose from a perfect road trip is a stop at the "new" MSG.  Don't be fooled, though, the arena might be new, but the good old Rangers still play there.

7. Colorado Avalanche (-4) -

8. Edmonton Oilers (+8) - The only thing more entertaining than an Oilers shootout this season: Ryan Whitney's sarcastic Twitter account.

9. Chicago Blackhawks (-1) - It's safe to say the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup Hangover is over.

10. Florida Panthers (+3) - Panthers fans seem to have forgotten the existence of Tomas Vokoun, and for good reason.

11. Ottawa Senators (+15) - Their team goals against average is creeping downward which means one thing: the Sens are getting better goaltending.  Yeah, time to watch out for these powerhouse Sens.

12. Vancouver Canucks (-1) - Vancouver is starting to look like the old Canucks again: lots of scoring and continuous adventures of Roberto Luongo.

13. Buffalo Sabres (-3) - If you add up Ville Leino's career totals, you'd get numbers that would impress you...if it was all one season.

14. Philadelphia Flyers (-2) - Do Flyer fans miss Leighton and Boucher yet?

15. Detroit Red Wings (-9) - The Wings awarded the first win of the season to the Blue Jackets and have lost four straight.  I think the last time Detroit lost four straight were the first four games after Gordie Howe left Hockeytown.

16. Tampa Bay Lightning (-1) - Leading scorer Marc-Andre Bergeron, a defenseman, is on pace for about 90 points this season.

17. Nashville Predators (+6) - Mike Fisher's return to the Preds' lineup has sparked the team offensively and also caused distractions to cameramen.

18. St. Louis Blues (-4) - Entering this season, Brian Elliott had a career goals against average of nearly 3.00 and a save percentage under .900.  This season, he's sporting a 1.67 and .942.  It's funny what leaving Ottawa can do for you.

19. Minnesota Wild (+2) -  The Wild are doing alright, but despite adding Setoguchi and Heatley, they're continuing their tradition of being mediocre offensively.

20. Montreal Canadiens (+8) - Sweeping a home-and-home with the Bruins has given Montreal a big boost.  This is usually where Carey Price comes along and brings them back down...

21. Phoenix Coyotes (+6) - If a hockey team wins a game and there are no witnesses, did the hockey team really win the game?

22. Anaheim Ducks (-5) - At 41, Teemu Selanne isn't quite averaging a point per game anymore.  Well, we knew the end was coming sooner or later.

23. Calgary Flames (+6) - Wasn't it this time last year when people said Jarome Iginla was done?  4 points in 9 games so far, is he done again?

24. Carolina Hurricanes (-2) - Captain Eric Staal is an un-Staal-like -13 this season.

25. Boston Bruins (-7) - 7 of Boston's 10 games have come at home.  7 of their 10 games have been losses.  Does Stanley Cup Hangover refer to the Red Sox giving the Bruins beer between periods?

26. New York Islanders (-7) - Rick DiPietro took the shootout loss to the Penguins the other night despite not playing a second of regulation or overtime for the Isles in the game.  Perhaps this is Jack Capuano's new way of humiliating the "franchise goaltender."

27. New Jersey Devils (-7) - For the Devils, scoring is nearly impossible to come by.  For Lou Lamoriello, scoring is impossible to buy.

28. New York Rangers (-3) - The transformation of MSG has led to new and more exciting ways the Rangers find to lose games.

29. Winnipeg Jets (-5) - The Jets scored 9 goals in Philadelphia and then got shut out by the Lightning the following game.  On the bright side, they allowed 8 goals in Philadelphia and allowed just one to Tampa Bay.  That team is learning...

30. Columbus Blue Jackets (--) - The Jackets are technically only one game under .500 at home.  It's a shame they don't have as many home games as the rest of the league.

Friday, October 28, 2011

How to tell if your team has a goaltending problem

For obvious reasons, last night's 17 goal shootout in Philadelphia raised more questions about the Flyers' goaltending situation.  That seems to be a common theme and Flyers tradition over the past decades.  But it isn't only the Flyers who have goaltending issues.  Check out this helpful guide to see if your team is facing goaltending issues.

No Problem - Your team's starting goalie has developed a creative dance that he performs at the end of every victory.
Problem - Your team's starting goalie has apparently forgot the dance because he can't use it.

No problem - Your team's goalie uses pads as massive as Henrik Lundqvist...or your team's starting goalie is Henrik Lundqvist.
Problem - Your team's "starting" goalie seems alarmed when the siren sounds to end a period, since he usually doesn't make it to the end of a period.

No problem - Your general manager signed a goaltender to a cheap contract because he wants to win a Stanley Cup, even though nobody else on your team wants to win the Cup.
Problem - Your team's goaltender drives a Ferrari and likes to race through the desert.

No problem - Martin Brodeur recently asked your team's goalie to borrow his pads.
Problem - That goalie becomes a free agent soon, and judging by your team's track record with goalies, that isn't a good thing.

No problem - Your team's goalie has won a pair of Vezina trophies over the past three seasons.
Problem - Your team's goalie has won a pair of Vezina's, but refuses to score goals to support him.

No problem - It's July and your team's general manager just signed a star goaltender to a long contract.
Problem - It's October, and that same goaltender somehow got lost in the woods.

No problem - Your team is coached by Dave Tippett.
Problem - If your team is coached by Dave Tippett, you have other things to worry about than goaltending.

No problem - When asked about his team's goaltending situation, your team's general manager simply replies "status quo."
Problem - Your team's head coach says "we need to start playing as well as the Senators," and he means it.

No problem - Your team has a goalie named Jonathan, and another named Jonathan to back him up.
Problem - Your opponent fires their assistant coach and has their captain steamroll goalies.

No problem - You have Nicklas Lidstrom on your team.
Problem - You have Brett Lebda on your team.

Problem - Your team's goaltender has ever heard of the Flyers.
Even worse problem - Your team's goaltender is under contract for the better part of the decade with the Canucks.
Worst problem of them all - Your team's goaltender has a contract for this decade and part of the next with the Islanders.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Looking at the NHL's teenage players

It seems that there are more teenage NHL players than ever this year.  Many of them are transitioning from juniors, college or European leagues to the NHL quite smoothly.  This week, I'm taking a look at some of the youngest and most talented players in the NHL today.

Jonathon Blum - Nashville Predators
  • He's by far the best NHL player from Long Beach, California.
  • His last name is a bit difficult to pronounce, so Don Cherry is convinced that he's actually a fruit.  Also, he's American, so Don Cherry hates him anyway.
  • According to a source that shall not be mentioned (*Eklund*), Blum's presence means that the Preds have no use for Shea Weber and will trade him in March.

Brett Connolly - Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Brian Burke tried to secretly steal him by putting Tim Connolly on the Lightning roster.
  • Guy Boucher thought he and Martin St. Louis might have chemistry together, but that was immediately scrapped when Connolly kept missing St. Louis with passes because he couldn't find St. Louis.
  • Victor Hedman calls him "the kid."  Ironic.

Sean Couturier - Philadelphia Flyers
  • He hasn't figured out Paul Holmgren's sarcasm yet, as Holmgren promised not to trade him immediately after he signed his entry-level contract.
  • He's tried some different positions out in practice, and if the whole Bryzgalov thing doesn't work out, he may try goaltending too.
  • He plays a calm and confident game, which means Chris Pronger hasn't pulled him aside yet.

Tim Erixon - New York Rangers
  • He refused to sign with the Calgary Flames because he didn't want to be the only player on the team not invited to the Flames' AARP Christmas Party in December.
  • He also refused to sign with the Flames when Darryl Sutter promised him a no-trade clause.
  • He looks up to Wade Redden, but only when it comes to cashing in.

Jake Gardiner - Toronto Maple Leafs
  • He's so young that he's never heard of Wendel Clark.
  • He has turned Francois Beauchemin into a Toronto hero.
  • He's trying to learn the words to "O Canada," but nobody else on the Leafs is able to help him.

Erik Gudbranson - Florida Panthers
  • He's often compared to Dion Phaneuf, yet anyone who makes that comparison is then knocked Phaneuf.
  • To become acclimated with the fans, he set up a public signing.  He met approximately no fans.
  • He was in elementary school the time last time the Panthers were in the playoffs.

Cody Hodgson - Vancouver Canucks
  • He has never been mistaken as Daniel or Henrik Sedin.
  • After not playing much in the NHL last year, fans asked him why he didn't start riots when he didn't play.
  • Rumor has it he couldn't make the Canucks team last season because he couldn't perfect his diving skills.

Gabriel Landeskog - Colorado Avalanche
  • He still claims he's Swedish, but his Swedish accent is terrible.
  • He's decided to be a clutch goal-scorer early in his career.  If this continues into the playoffs, he will certainly never play in Washington D.C. or San Jose.
  • He's taken advice from Peter Forsberg, but every time he does, he feels a bit achy.

Adam Larsson - New Jersey Devils
  • He's drawn comparisons to Nicklas Lidstrom.  This guarantees that Larsson will never retire.
  • He likes to join the rush and make offensive plays, which is one of the reasons that Jacques Lemaire is scared of him.
  • He's never heard of John MacLean, and because of that, he has a chance to be a good player.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Edmonton Oilers
  • He might not even be the best first overall pick on his own team.
  • He likes to win, despite playing for the Oilers.
  • He and Taylor Hall plan to boycott Steve Tambellini's annual 1st Overall Pick party next June.

Mike Zibanejad - Ottawa Senators
  • He has a name formed from random Scrabble tiles.
  • He found scoring at the NHL level surprisingly easy, but then realized it was harder once he left Sens' practice.
  • Every time he talks about winning the Stanley Cup, his teammates become confused.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

NHL Power Rankings - Week of October 23rd, 2011

Welcome to DGA's Week 2 NHL Power Rankings.  There is a new #1 after Saturday night's lopsided battle of undefeated teams.  There's also a new #30.  Awesome.  For a complete list of all 30 NHL teams and their records, click here.

1. Washington Capitals (+2) - Tomas Vokoun has stepped up big-time for the Caps of late.  Then again, even Vesa Toskala could probably win a game when the Caps put up 7 against Detroit.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (--) - James Neal has taken the NHL by storm this season.  If he started shooting from areas other than the goal line, he could do even better.

3. Colorado Avalanche (+3) - The Avs are turning into road warriors this season, having won their sixth game in six tries away from home last night.  What would help them at home is if their goal horn didn't sound like a dying cow.

4. Los Angeles Kings (+7) - L.A. is coming off a 4-0-0 week, including three straight shutouts by Jonathan Quick, however Drew Doughty has just one assist in four games this season.  Whoever decided it was a good idea to give him such a big contract should learn some lessons about signing superstars...

5. Dallas Stars (+3) - Dallas is off to a strong start this season, just like last season.  Also like last season, they're led by the best forward the media thinks you've never heard of...even thought you've heard of Loui Eriksson.

6. Detroit Red Wings (-5) - In hindsight, starting their backup goalie in Washington after starting Howard against Columbus wasn't really the best idea...

7. Toronto Maple Leafs (--) - Mikhail Grabovski scored a pretty overtime goal in Montreal last night, but then again, Habs players are essentially traffic cones right now, in terms of movement and size.

8. Chicago Blackhawks (+8) - Chicago looks to be on its way to a rebound season after a first round exit from last year's playoffs.  Something else to note: last time Ray Emery was in the NHL, his team lost to Chicago in the Cup Finals.  I don't think Chicago will lose to Chicago this year, though.

9. San Jose Sharks (+15) - Joe Thornton played his 1,000th regular season NHL game this week.  It's important to note that it was in fact regular season, because even though his stat-card says he's played in 109 playoff games, you have to wonder if he's actually showed up for any of them.

10. Buffalo Sabres (-1) - Has anyone stopped to think about what would happen to Rick Jeanneret if the Buffalo Sabres were to win the Stanley Cup?

11. Vancouver Canucks (+6) - Ryan Kesler's return to the lineup against the Rangers this past week didn't pay off immediately, partially because Henrik Lundqvist was so busy stopping everything including the post-game riots.  The Canucks have won two straight since then.

12. Philadelphia Flyers (-8) - The Flyers dropped their first two games of the season this week, but at least they've got their number one goaltender playing well, he is playing...

13. Florida Panthers (+7) - The Panthers players might want to cancel their vacation plans for late April and could be to spend more time in Miami instead.

14. St. Louis Blues (+8) - Jason Arnott continues to work wonders for the Blues, which begs the question: how much longer will he last in St. Louis before Lou Lamoriello gets him back?

15. Tampa Bay Lightning (+8) - Tampa has only allowed one goal over its last two games after allowing 25 goals in their first give games.  The general feeling in Tampa Bay right now is that less is more, at least when talking to Martin St. Louis.

16. Edmonton Oilers (+5) - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins won't be returned to Juniors this season.  The bad news is that this means the Oilers are a better team, and thus won't have a legitimate shot at landing their third straight first overall pick this coming June.

17. Anaheim Ducks (-5) - The Ducks' big three are "saving it" for the playoffs.  How they're planning to get to the playoffs may become a bit of a problem.

18. Boston Bruins (-5) - Bruins fans were thanking Phil Kessel for indirectly giving their team Tyler Seguin, but Kessel has scored more than Seguin and his team is better than Seguin's at the moment.  I guess in Boston's twisted way of looking at things, they are better right now.

19. New York Islanders (-14) - Planet Earth welcomed back John Tavares this week, as the Isles look more like the Isles we've come to know recently.

20. New Jersey Devils (-10) - Down Zajac and Josefson, the Devils will spend Monday holding auditions to find another center.  Any fan who owns a jersey is invited.

21. Minnesota Wild (-7) - The Wild really need to work on protecting leads with 0.5 seconds to go in the 3rd period.  Teaching Dany Heatley to not act like a goat in overtime would help too.

22. Carolina Hurricanes (-3) - Blowing a 2-0 lead by allowing five straight goals to Winnipeg really hurt them.  The fact that Brian Boucher was their goaltender makes it far more understandable, though.

23. Nashville Predators (-8) - Pekka Rinne allowed four goals in one period to Vancouver, but he did shut out the Calgary Flames.  I'm not sure which performance was more impressive, honestly.

24. Winnipeg Jets (+6) - The Jets have been playing better recently.  It must be the lovely buffet Kyle Wellwood keeps taking his team to after each win.

25. New York Rangers (+2) - In short, Henrik Lundqvist is the difference between the Rangers having a single point this season in the NHL and being demoted to the AHL.

26. Ottawa Senators (+2) - If Ottawa's impressive come-from-behind victory last night had been against any team other than Columbus, it might actually cause people to take the Sens slightly more seriously.

27. Phoenix Coyotes (-9) - I think it's safe to say Phoenix probably shouldn't have drafted Kyle Turris third overall in 2007.

28. Montreal Canadiens (-3) - The highlight of the week for the Habs: Brian Gionta injuring James Reimer.  Well, that and Carey Price's apparent save in practice.

29. Calgary Flames (-3) - The Flames weren't awful this week, but expecting them to hold on and have a good year is like expecting Matt Cooke to not end at least one player's career this season: it just won't happen.

30. Columbus Blue Jackets (-1) - Blowing a lead and losing in regulation by allowing two goals in the last 36 seconds of a game to Ottawa is a very clever way to continue their quest to Fail for Nail.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Worst NHL giveaway ideas ever

The plastic rat idea in Florida was a bad idea.  But you'd be surprised how many other promotions have gone wrong...

Every now and then, you'll see a bizarre promotion to sell a particular sporting event.  Some famous examples of this include Disco Night in Chicago for the White Sox, Reggie Bars Day at Yankee Stadium and the plastic rat giveaway for the Panthers.  But there are some even weirder promotional ideas that never actually make it out of the meeting rooms.  Luckily, I've been able to get a pretty decent list of some promotional ideas from the NHL.  Take a look.

Winnipeg Jets - The Jets had to scrap two ideas already this year.

  • Similar to a campaign run by the New Jersey Devils this season, the Winnipeg Jets talked about a ticket offer in which a fan could buy a regulaly-priced ticket to a Jets home game and receive a $10 food card as a bonus.  Unfortunately, Kyle Wellwood found out about this and tried to buy 15,000 tickets to Opening Night.
  • The Jets then turned to their Plan B: Any fan to purchase a box for a single game would be eligible for free boating lessons.  This also created a problem, because Dustin Byfuglien wiped out all of the tickets before the public could access them.

Boston Bruins

  • The Bruins talked about giving all children in attendance to their Opening Night game against the Flyers a replica Stanley Cup ring, but then considered that there might be some Flyers fans at the game.  For the safety of the young Flyers fans, who would be very confused by the sight of a championship ring, the Bruins cancelled the promotion.
  • Since fan ring night didn't work, the Bruins talked about Tomas Kaberle Bobblehead Night.  Then they remembered he doesn't play for them anymore.  They hardly noticed.

New York Rangers

  • Last season, Glen Sather and Rangers management ran a test of their Fan King Henrik Crown that they planned to give to fans this season.  Strangely, as soon as the playoffs began, the crowns began to fall apart and break.  This caused the giveaway to be ruined.  It turned out to be a huge waste of money...

Edmonton Oilers

  • The Oilers were planning to release a huge promotion about the Big Three: Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov all being drafted first overall by the Oilers in consecutive seasons.  Then they remembered that Columbus, Ottawa and Winnipeg were in the NHL this season.
  • The Oilers bounced back from their failed poster giveaway by planning Ferrari Die-Cast car night, as all kids in attendance to Oilers home games would receive a die-cast Ferrari with a player's number on it.  In a strange series of events, all of the Nikolai Khabibulin cars seemed to speed out of control every time someone opened one from its packaging.

Dallas Stars

  • After plans to have giveaways involving Mike Modano and Brad Richards, the Stars' marketing department decided to create a better fan experience.  They attempted to accomplish this by building a fan's lounge so that fans could escape the Dallas heat by spending time at a comfortable lounge before Stars home games.  The problem occured when the marketing department found Sheldon Souray sound asleep in the lounge during practice.

Calgary Flames

  • The Flames decided to start a program to help kids manage their money better, so they scheduled piggy bank giveaway night.  The idea was great, but every time someone dropped a coin into the piggy bank, it got stuck and the piggy bank started to overflow quickly.  This confused Darryl Sutter.

Vancouver Canucks

  • Out of nowhere, the Canucks planned Green Spandex Suit giveaway night, in which every single fan in attendance would get a suit just like the Green Men.  This created two problems: it angered the Green Men and caused city police a great deal of havoc trying to identify people during the post-game riots.

Montreal Canadiens

  • In a very generous gesture, Habs players donated a bunch of their actual game-worn jerseys to the Bell Centre to use as fan raffle items.  The problem with this is that none of the jerseys fit the fans that won them.  The arena measured the fans who complained, and found out that the average height of a Habs fan is taller than 5'7".

New Jersey Devils

  • The Devils actually had a fireworks display following the home game on New Year's Eve.  This sounded like a good idea, but they forgot to inform Newark Police about the promotion as the city's first responders searched in fear of a frantic shooter.

Chicago Blackhawks

  • In an attempt to re-live their Stanley Cup Championship, the Hawks gave all of their fans a customized video game where the player had to win 16 games to win the Stanley Cup as many seasons in a row as possible.  Unfortunately, due to a strange game glitch, nobody could ever win more than one in a row, because after the first Cup was won, the simulator traded the entire team away to save salary cap space.

New York Islanders

  • Hoping that their team would still be playing in the hot months, such as June, the Islanders gave all fans to select home games a hand-held fan to keep themselves cool.  The fault in this promotion was whenever someone pointed the fan in the direction of the rink, Rick DiPietro would immediately fall over in pain.

Nashville Predators

  • In anticipation of another playoff run this season, Nashville management tried to put together a motivational DVD to excite fans about another trip to the playoffs.  This promotion failed when they realized they didn't actually have any footage of the Predators' playoff games because the cameramen kept focusing on Carrie Underwood the whole time.

Detroit Red Wings

  • The Red Wings were planning Chris Osgood Night in Detroit, and as a bonus, all fans in attendance were going to get an interactive Osgood figurine featuring a mini-puck and stick to shoot at Osgood.  Then the Wings' staff soon noticed that the mini-Osgood was unable to stop virtually any puck thrown at it.  That would have been too authentic.

Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Following a long playoff run last spring, the Lightning wanted to assure fans that they weren't a one year wonder.  They set up a promotion that the fewer goals the Lightning allowed in a game, the bigger of a discount fans could get to an upcoming game.  This plan was scrapped because management didn't want fans paying ten times the actual value of the ticket.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

NHL Power Rankings - Week of October 16th, 2011

We're now over a full week into the 2011-12 NHL season, and every team has played at least a handful of games already, so let's take a look through DGA's first ever NHL Power Rankings.

1. Detroit Red Wings - Red Wings are 4-0 this season, including a pair of shutouts against Colorado and Vancouver, and those two teams have been strong offensively.  I just have one question: if Nicklas Lidstrom wins the Hart Trophy, Norris Trophy, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup this season, will he retire?  I doubt it.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins - Pittsburgh may have lost their first game in regulation last night, but in case you haven't heard, they do have two superstars expected to return to their lineup pretty soon.  And then there's this: if you mess with Pittsburgh's superstars, Arron Asham will most definitely ruin your face.

3. Washington Capitals - The Caps haven't lost yet, although they tried to hand Ottawa a win last night.  Of course, with Ottawa being Ottawa, they refused.  If Tomas Vokoun stops doing his best Washington Capitals goalie imitation, the Caps may be on their way to a deep playoff run this season: at least 8 games.

4. Philadelphia Flyers - The Flyers have only used one goaltender so far this season, which is remarkable, considering they've played more than one period this season.  Jaromir Jagr and "Baby Mario" have been exciting to watch, but what happens when Michael Leighton sneaks into the Flyers' locker room and decides that he's back?  It'll be all downhill from there.

5. New York Islanders - The last time I saw the Islanders fifth in anything, it was fifth in the Atlantic Division, but now, that's not the reason.  Sure, "franchise goaltender" Rick DiPietro is injured again........again, Al Montoya and Evgeni Nabokov have done the job so far.  And then there's John Tavares, who thinks he's Wayne Gretzky.  Who knows, maybe he is...

6. Colorado Avalanche - The Avs have been storming through eastern Canada this week, following a win against the defending champs.  Their offensive firepower was aided by Carey Price doing his 2009 Carey Price impression and facing the Ottawa Senators, but give the Avs credit.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs - Not to pick on Ottawa anymore, but the Leafs nearly let a 5-goal lead slip away in the third period against the Sens recently.  Nonetheless, the Leafs are 3-0 and Phil Kessel looks like he bought himself a supercharger over the summer.  Perhaps this is the year the Leafs make it back to the playoffs?  Well, winning 79 more games would certainly help their cause...

8. Dallas Stars - The Stars are 4-1.  Who needs Brad Richards anyway?  The young sensation return of Sheldon Souray has stabilized Dallas on the back end, too.  Still, the Stars got off to a terrific start last season and then collapsed down the stretch.  It's way too early to buy into them as far as playoffs are concerned.

9. Buffalo Sabres - The Sabres bounced back from a tough loss to Carolina Friday to win in Pittsburgh Saturday.  It seems like Christian Ehrhoff plays the entire game, and Tyler Myers plays the rest these days...if that made any sense at all.  If Thomas Vanek decides that he wants to score 40 goals this season, Buffalo is going to be tough.  Oh yeah and their goaltending isn't that bad, either.

10. New Jersey Devils - The Devils have faced Bryzgalov, Ward, Quick and Rinne this season, yet they've lost just one game.  That's quite an improvement from last season.  Ilya Kovalchuk isn't likely to be a healthy scratch this season, but he is likely to play more minutes per game than Mattias Tedenby will play all season.  The problem is, the Devils are only the 4th best team in their own division right now.

11. Los Angeles Kings - Philly West beat Philly East last night in the return of Mike Richards (and Simon Gagne again) to Philadelphia.  The Kings will finally get a chance to play at home on Tuesday, but the injury to Drew Doughty is concerning.  Let's hope he doesn't use his time off to start working on a new contract...

12. Anaheim Ducks - If hockey teams were made up of two forward lines and two defensive pairings, Anaheim might be the best team in hockey.  Well, except for the fact that none of their top three forwards (Perry, Getzlaf, Ryan) have recorded a point this season.  In all likelihood, those three will have to get going, because it is unlikely that Maxime Macenauer is going to carry Anaheim offensively this season.

13. Boston Bruins - So the Bruins have Stanley Cup hangover...  They edged the Blackhawks last night in Chicago, so perhaps they're on the right track.  If they aren't, I wouldn't recommend firing Peter Chiarelli or Claude Julien to bring in Theo Epstein or Terry Francona.  Or John MacLean for that matter...

14. Minnesota Wild - Dany Heatley resembles Marian Gaborik in many ways: both take games off whenever they feel like it, both are completely unaware of the defensive zone and both possess tremendous offensive skill.  Heatley, Koivu and Setoguchi may be Minnesota's best offensive threat in years.  They better hurry up and win, though, because you never know when Dany Heatley's annual trade request may come.

15. Nashville Predators - Sure, Suter and Weber are a dangerous duo back of defense, but once you get to their forwards, there isn't much to admire.  Let's put it this way: Cal O'Reilly and Matt Halischuk were Nashville's two shooters in their shootout loss to New Jersey last night.  I think you get the point...

16. Chicago Blackhawks - If you're taking this power ranking seriously, you're probably mad that I've ranked the Hawks this low.  Also, if you're taking this seriously, well there's your problem.  The Hawks are eventually going to have a strong season.

17. Vancouver Canucks - The Canucks have been far from dominant to start this season.  Roberto Luongo is still convinced that the playoffs are going on, and his performance this season proves that. 

18. Phoenix Coyotes - Shane Doan has played his entire career with the Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise.  He also beat Winnipeg last night.

19. Carolina Hurricanes - Cam Ward isn't off to the greatest of starts to this season, but Jeff Skinner is playing very well.  Skinner seems absolutely determined to win his second straight Calder Trophy.  He's so innocent, isn't he?

20. Florida Panthers - The Panthers signed more free agents than Glen Sather and Paul Holmgren combined this past off-season, which is great, but losing Tomas Vokoun in the same off-season has to off-set some of the signings.

21. Edmonton Oilers - Gotta show the Oilers a little love after beating the Penguins and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' first career hat trick.  It'll take a really bad season for the Oilers to land Nail Yakupov this coming June.

22. St. Louis Blues - Jason Arnott got off to a good start in St. Louis.  Give him a few weeks, and Jamie Langenbrunner will ruin him.  Again.

23. Tampa Bay Lightning - The Lightning are among the worst defensive teams in the NHL so far this season, joining teams such as Carolina and Columbus.

24. San Jose Sharks - San Jose just got shut out by the Anaheim Ducks, and this isn't even the playoffs...

25. Montreal Canadiens - Erik Cole isn't Montreal's least yet.  Carey Price must be having 2009 nightmares, because he was downright awful last night against the Avs.

26. Calgary Flames - Not much to say here.  It's eventually going to be a long and painful rebuilding process in Calgary.  In Toronto, it's taken 40 years, just to put things in perspective...

27. New York Rangers - Brad Richards has clearly saved the NY Rangers.  Okay, so it's been a tough start.  They'll be fine this season, but geez, they take more penalties than Zenon Konopka per minute.

28. Ottawa Senators - Well, they're coached by MacLean, which could be part of the problem.  Or they're just downright awful right now...

29. Columbus Blue Jackets- Jeff Carter's stint with the Jackets isn't off to a great start, because well, he's not playing right now.  Getting James Wisniewski back will help, but not enough to actually make a difference.

30. Winnipeg Jets - I wonder when the Jets' fans honeymoon phase will end and they start to become frustrated, if not already.  On the bright side, they're the early favorites to land Nail Yakupov next summer.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Comparing the Devils start from this season to last season

Besides the obvious (the Devils have two more wins than at this point one year ago), the Devils are off to a much better start than last season.  If you don't believe me, and even if you do, just see below for proof.

Last season: Ilya Kovalchuk thinks he's set up for a breakaway pass, but then realizes that he's in the defensive zone while the play is at the other end of the rink.
This season: Ilya Kovalchuk has fixed the play in the other end of the rink part, but he's taking shots at his own goalies now.

Last season: The Devils tried everything last season: getting blown out, not scoring and blowing two-goal leads.
This season: So far, the not scoring is still a problem and they haven't yet had a two-goal blow.

Last season: The Devils cleared a roster spot to call up a forward to replace healthy scratch Ilya Kovalchuk.
This season: Adam Henrique was just sent down to Albany, which clears a roster spot for.......oh please, not again.

Last season: John MacLean had the team work extremely hard in practice, in the sense that renting a party bus for the night is hard work.
This season: Peter DeBoer is working much harder than MacLean, such as trying to figure out how long Cam Janssen will last on the ice without being called into Brendan Shanahan's office.

Last season: Johan Hedberg pulls to within 610 wins on the Devils' all-time goaltender wins list.
This season: With his opening night loss to the Flyers, Martin Brodeur pulled to within one loss of the all-time goaltender loss record.

Last season: Mattias Tedenby is thought of by some Devils fans as the Swedish Prodigy, but obviously not by Jacques Lemaire.
This season: Tedenby is stripped of that title, as Adam Larsson is now the Swedish Prodigy.  As for Jacques Lemaire, well he's retired......for the time being.

Last season: In his usual hatred for the Devils, Scott Burnside predicted that this would be Zach Parise's final season as a Devil.
This season: Okay, well some things haven't changed since last season........

Last season: The coach gave Ilya Kovalchuk a lot of ice time late in the season because he scored a lot.
This season: The coach is giving David Clarkson a lot of ice time because he falls a lot.

Last season: "Let's throw that out" was John MacLean's favorite saying after a blowout loss.
This season: "Let's throw that out" is Peter DeBoer's way of saying that he wasn't happy with someone's shift.

Last season: Nine Devils scored their first career goals, which accounted for nearly half the team's goals last season.
This season: Adam Larsson will eventually score his first career goal, and his ice time accounts for half the game.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Weighing the NHL's Reallignment Options

Today, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported that the Detroit Red Wings could move to the Eastern Conference for the 2012-13 season.  While that is not set in stone, there will be a team moving east as Winnipeg moves out west.  So here's a look at some of the NHL's reallignment options for next season and beyond.

Winnipeg Jets - Eastern Conference to Western Conference

Pros - The Edmonton Oilers will finally have a fair opponent four times per season.
Cons - Roberto Luongo will have to see Dustin Byfuglien more often again, unless Cory Schneider starts.

Detroit Red Wings - Western Conference to Eastern Conference

Pros - Classic rivalries, such as Wings-Leafs, can be renewed...until the Wings show that it isn't really a rivalry anymore.
Cons - The Caps couldn't choke out of the the East's number one seed.

Nashville Predators

Pros - Nashville wouldn't have to worry about facing Vancouver.  Or Chicago.  Or Detroit.  Or any of those teams in the first round or two in the playoffs.
Cons - Mike Fisher would actually have to go back to Ottawa from time to time.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Pros - Columbus to the East means more home games for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Cons - Columbus to the East means less home games for the Blackhawks and Red Wings.

Verdict: From a geographical standpoint, it would make the most sense to move Nashville to the Southeast division, which is exactly why that won't happen.  In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if say, Vancouver moved to the Southeast division.

Impact of reallignment: Following the dramatic move of a franchise from Atlanta to Winnipeg, re-alligning the divisions is necessary to restore logical and geographic order in the league...until Phoenix inevitably moves the following season and we do this all over again.

What's next?  Once the NHL re-alligns the divisions, they're unlikely to want to re-allign them again because well, it takes work to move teams around.  However, the league should look into making moves now, rather than wait.  Quebec City, Kansas City, Seattle and Mexico City (I have no idea how that got there...) are all cities that could handle an NHL franchise.

Prediction: Gary Bettman gets a bad headache from the whole reallignment thing and moves Winnipeg back to Atlanta and thinks he's saved hockey.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A review of the Jets' return to Winnipeg

Vintage Phoenix Coyotes logo...
It was a positive day in Winnipeg, as the city had a chance to cheer on an NHL team for the first time in 15 years.  The Montreal Canadiens weren't even able to spoil the party by beating the Winnipeg Jets, 5-1 at the MTS Centre.  Let's take a look at the day that was.  *Please note: all times are estimated.

3:00 PM (Eastern time): The zamboni driver is late.  He's been trying to get out of an Atlanta jail for many months now...

4:47 PM: Jets head coach Claude Noel gives his team a pre-game pep talk, warning them not to get caught up in all of the excitement and hype of the crowd, especially because most players on the team have never played a home game in front of as many as 15,000 people before.  He then turns to Kyle Wellwood and throws out his box of doughnuts.

4:50 PM: Dustin Byfuglien puts his jersey on and wonders why they had to put an airplane on the logo instead of something more his type, such as a boat.

4:57 PM: A fan asks Gary Bettman for his autograph.  Bettman flinches, expecting to be tackled by the fan, then asks what an autograph is.  There's a first for everything, I guess.

5:03 PM: Don Cherry steps onto the ice.  As he does, Ron MacLean accidentally bumps into his chin, but Cherry forgives him, because it wasn't an intentional headshot.

5:06 PM: Player intros.  As Evander Kane skates out, he sees many many hockey jerseys that say Winnipeg Jets on them, but they look weird.  They're clearly before his time.

5:15 PM: During the National Anthem, Dustin Byfuglien stares down Brian Gionta and cracks his knuckles.  Gionta hides behind Carey Price's blocker.

1st Period: After being slashed in the leg by a skate, Mike Cammelleri skates to the bench trying to get to the locker room, but can't find the locker room.

2nd Period: After getting beat on a second straight Canadiens' goal, Johnny Oduya asks Noel if there's any way to quiet the crowd so he can pay more attention on the ice.

2nd Intermission: Jets lose.  Oh, oops, wrong sport...

3rd Period: Nik Antropov finally gets the Jets on the board, as he stuffs in a loose puck in the crease.  Neighboring towns call the police in fear of an earthquake.

3rd Period: Dustin Byfuglien taps into Brian Gionta, sending him flying and drawing a penalty for Montreal and opening the floodgates.

3rd Period: As the final seconds wind down, fans give the team a standing ovation as they trail 5-1, which supports CBC's comments that Winnipeg fans are much more informed than Atlanta fans were.

End of Game: Jets lose (think I got it right this time...).

Postgame: Fans begin to realize that this isn't going to be as easy as they thought.  So, to compensate, they begin to take a look at 2012 NHL Entry Draft projections.

8:13 PM: A fan taps into a referee's car, sending it spinning across the parking lot out of control, but the fan drives away without stopping.

11:20 PM: Even without the Thrashers, the city of Atlanta keeps losing as the Falcons fall to the Packers, giving up 25 unanswered points, which is more than the Thrashers ever gave up in one game.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Devils Opening Night Predictions

If you follow my blog, you're probably a hockey fan, so in case you aren't aware, the regular season has gotten underway this week.  Tonight is opening night for the Devils, as they open against the rival Flyers.  I've come up with some predictions for the game tonight and even some expectations.  Take a look.

1. The Devils have told fans to wear white to create a "white-out."  This may give the arena a playoff-like feel to it in celebration of the team's 30th anniversary.  Hopefully the players won't treat this like a playoff game, because that would be bad.

2. Scott Hartnell and David Clarkson aren't just randomly diving.  They just lack the ability to not fall every shift.

3. There will be fans fighting in the stands over who actually has the first Adam Larsson jersey among Devils fans.

4. Devils fans will start taunting Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, and by the time they realize those players aren't in Philly anymore, another Flyer will have knocked out a Devil.

5. Rinaldo will most definitely kick a puck into the net tonight, and someone will scream "Goooooooaaaaal."

6. All Devils fans who attend the game will have happier ears than those who watch the MSG telecast, judging by the current Devils' play-by-play team.

7. Mattias Tedenby will skate through Chris Pronger's legs and nobody will notice.

8. If the Devils lose, Ilya Kovalchuk will start asking for Jacques Lemaire to return as head coach, but Pete DeBoer probably won't list him as a healthy scratch for the next game.

9. Cam Janssen will do something stupid and hurt his team, such as actually getting on the ice at all.

10. The Flyers will get shut out.......oh, sorry, that only happens to the Phillies.  Wrong sport.

11. Petr Sykora will most definitely score tonight because he's back, Adam Larsson will score because it's his first game, Zach Parise will score because he's the new captain........okay Devils fans, let's not get carried away.  This isn't like some league where everyone randomly scores all the time.  That league is locked out right now.